It wasn't so long ago that I was lamenting my lack of excitement about what was being shown on TV. There was nothing interesting to watch. And yet, in the last few weeks, my whole television life has changed with the introduction of several new reality-TV shows (as if "reality" is an accurate word to describe their true condition). All of a sudden, I am met with Joe Millionaire and The Bachelorette and High School Reunion and, regrettably, The Surreal Life, not to mention the return of everyone's old favorite, American Idol. Nearly every night now, my life is awash with 30-second pseudo-celebrities, vying for nothing else other than to stand out and maybe, if they're lucky, a recording contract or a spouse, courtesy of the network executives.
This isn't the first time I've mentioned American Idol here. Back in August, after my favorite competitor from the show's first round (Tamyra Gray) was (unjustly!) dismissed by the home viewers, I described American Idol under the backdrop of the first peak of the Jupiter-Neptune opposition. While Jupiter in Leo was opposed to Neptune in Aquarius, it made sense that our country was fascinated with this televised talent contestperformers expressed themselves boldly in front of an expanded audience (Jupiter in Leo), while a vast body of TV viewers determined their social fate based on an elusive collective preference (Neptune in Aquarius). And now, synchronicitously, as the Jupiter-Neptune approaches its second peak, American Idol has returned, even more popular than its first airings, drawing record ratings.
Saturday morning's New Moon occurs in Aquarius, close to conjunction with Neptune and opposed to Jupiter. This triggers a renewed focus on the ongoing opposition of these two planets, which hits its second of three peaks around the next Full Moon, two weeks later (Feb. 16). Jupiter brings expansion of our ideals through exploration and adventure, education and integration. During its yearlong transit of Leo, Jupiter manifests its growth orientation through increased self-expression and pride in being who we are to the fullest. Neptune rules that elusive realm in which we are all connected, an interdependent universal whole with no boundaries, linked by invisible strands of sympathetic feeling. This Neptunian interconnectedness plays out in unspoken waysdreams, intuitive visions, other logicless flashes of transcendent awarenessthat eventually prove meaningful to those who maintain their faith.
Together, Jupiter and Neptune are creating an astrological environment ripe for creative risk-taking, exemplified by the daring wannabes competing on these popular reality-TV programs. Individuals need simply to do what it is they uniquely do, and they will instinctively gravitate towards their social destinies, pop star or bridegroom or televised poseur. Destiny, in this sense, is not a predetermined future and requires active participation to fulfill it. This Jupiter-Neptune opposition first came into influence in September and will continue tweaking our destinies until June. With this week's New Moon activating its mystical effects, it's prime time to recommit ourselves to (1) the fullest expression of our true creative selves and (2) faith that this expression will carry us where we need to go.
One thing to watch about the Jupiter-Neptune influence, alas, is both planets' tendency to obscure the reality of situations with their romantic or idealistic tendencies. Jupiter often inflates thingsegos, ideas, partial perspectivesbeyond their reasonable size. Neptune, meanwhile, casts its rose-colored cloud, obscuring significant differences between people and situations in favor of a utopian, undifferentiated oneness. Combined, these two planets can create deceptions and illusions, inspiring, for instance, some women to blindly follow their dreams of marrying a sophisticated and very wealthy man (i.e., "Joe Millionaire"), only to discover later than he is nothing more than a good-looking though dim-witted construction worker from Orange County. Such delusions also cause potential suitors to chase obviously inappropriate romantic matches (e.g., Brook, the Texas cowboy, who labeled Bachelorette Trista "shallow" because she ruled him out due to her allergy to horses-duh, you're a cowboy, dude!) and untalented fame-whores who insist they can sing when it's painfully clear that they can't (e.g., any number of rejected Idol hopefuls).
How can these folks possibly think they are good? We are entertained by their deluded self-perceptions, wondering aloud, Don't these clueless folks have friends or family to tell them, point-blank, for their own good, "She's wrong for you!" or "You really can't sing!"? Yet, we are not immune from these Jupiter-Neptune inaccuracies ourselves. While we laugh at the tone-deaf on TV, we must also ask our own friends and family for advice, to help us determine how much of what we see is actually there, whether it's worthwhile for us to reach for certain dreams that might be totally out of our grasp. (I, for one, will never be a professional singer. Guaranteed.)
Of course, it's not always easy to hear the truth from members of our trusted support system, just as the trying-to-sing screechers don't necessarily enjoy hearing from Idol's wicked judge Simon Cowell (or his less wicked equivalent on the resuscitated Star Search, country-mama judge Naomi Judd) that they have the worst voices in the entire galaxy. Accepting constructive criticism can be a painful, alienating and lonely experience, but one that is ultimately helpful if we are humble enough to acknowledge our limitations and work from there. With loving Venus opposing harsh but fair Saturn this week, we must be accountable to the reality of our circumstances and, from that, learn how to pursue our dreams with more than pure whimsy. We cannot let the passing sting of a truthful comment force us into hiding or self-pity. It must inspire us to a higher greatness, tempered with the recognition of unavoidable imperfection. Luckily, for the majority of us who lack a tendency for exhibitionistic masochism, we won't be forced to face our imperfections in front of millions of home viewers.