Monday, August 1, 2016

The Real and the Unreal

We’ve been going through a period of hype, hope, glamour and confusion, with the Saturn/Neptune square, and it’s not over yet.  In fact, it won’t be over until early October, giving people one short month to come to their senses before the election. 

Saturn is the Crone planet, the one that represents the Wise Elder.  It’s all about the ability to take responsibility, to build clear structures, to discipline yourself in order to reach certain goals.  Saturn is the planet of caution, experience, and realism, so it’s pretty clear which candidate is more Saturnine. 

On the other side is Neptune, the planet of mysticism and imagination.  Neptune represents the fantastic illusions of, say, the Wizard of Oz.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  But even though he keeps making awkward moves and showing who he really is, the glamour holds.  He could shoot somebody and they’d still vote for him.  That’s the magic of pixie dust, a lovely blurry filter made up of expensive suits, good television angles, and spontaneous superlatives. 

To be adult, or to live in a fantasy?  That’s the choice that’s underlined by the Saturn/Neptune square. 

Of course, there’s another way to see this.  Saturn is also the planet of limits, restrictions, and fears.  It represents an earthy reality, enclosed within a set of established laws.  It gives little room for change.  It’s safe, but maybe too safe?

Neptune, on the other hand, is odd, tricky, fey, with the ability to change its shape.  It represents the yearning for something cosmic and beautiful, something beyond our current choices.  A celestial city, a dream of peace.  And there’s nothing Neptunian about the brutish tendencies shown by the Republican candidate.  So you could say that Bernie is the Neptunian choice, and the impossibility of him being elected just adds to that - because Neptune is the planet of beautiful fantasies. 

Bernie himself is a much earthier and more pragmatic guy.  He’s got a lot of air signs in his natal chart, so he’s definitely an idealist, but he’s not particularly woolly or dreamy.  With his Neptune conjunct the north node in Virgo, his destiny in this life is to attract dreamers and then point them towards concrete, human-sized solutions to problems.  This has been somewhat flattening for some of his supporters.

With every illusion, disillusionment naturally follows.  This is not to say that dreams don’t sometimes come true, but this only happens when there are at least a few real, solid ingredients in the formula.  Since Bernie is an earthy guy, his candidacy didn’t lack for concrete proposals, and there’s a good chance that most of them will be adopted through the years.  But the illusion was that this country was ready for a revolution, an actual dramatic restructuring of the economic hierarchy by a Socialist.  And the people who are in the worst shape, who might be ready for revolution, don’t necessarily want an old white guy leading the charge.

On the other side, the Republican candidate has nothing particularly solid in his repertoire, so there’s really nowhere for his acolytes to go when it all falls apart.  He brings up a nostalgia for a time that was simpler for white folks, when the rules were clear and nobody else had any rights to speak of.  His constituency consists of a bunch of people whose time has passed, but who are unwilling or unable to embrace another way of living.  

You could say that Neptune is about living in service to a dream.  Some dreams may be worth serving, because they make you and other people happy.  I think artists embody this.  But there are other kinds of unreal constructs that are less innocent, and racism is one of these.  It’s a world view that postulates all kinds of magic powers to one group, and pins unwieldy caricatures and angry projections onto others.  This country has been caught in this bad dream, this skein of illusions which is going through a long, slow unraveling process.  And those who are clinging to it are destined to fall the hardest.     

But as Neptune weaves its spell on us, Saturn keeps finding the words, ideas, and practical necessities that bring us down to earth.  Saturn is about looking around you and seeing what’s really going on, and because of that, Saturn can be damned depressing.  This is not an easy time for a lot of people, and it’s probably easiest for those who are most removed from reality.  So if you’re feeling some pain, congratulate yourself.  You’re dealing. 

In August, Saturn stations, which means it appears to hold still.  It stays at 9° Sagittarius for most of the month, so if you have any planet close to 9° in any mutable sign (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces), you’ll be more affected by this square.  You’ll be feeling Saturn’s static voice in your bones, while Neptune’s haunting tones seduce you at odd moments. 

But for all of us, this is a time when we're aware of the two sides of this conflict.  Saturn says, “This is the world.  Get used to it!” and Neptune says, “None of this is real at all.”  Can we find a meeting place between these two voices?  Can we find magic in the world, and a little more of the world in our magic?  Can we be gentle with ourselves as our bubbles burst, rather than castigating ourselves as fools, or seeing the world as too sharp and cruel? 

It’s just the world:  a rocky place with enough gravity to keep us anchored here, while strange thought-balloons drift over our heads.  The wind catches them and they turn into wisps:  feelings and memories and stories. We have to let them go.  There will always be more.