Put on Those Thinking Caps


Put on those thinking caps. It's time to start paying closer attention to detail.

This past Sunday, Mercury entered Virgo, one of its two ruling signs, and in this position begs us to carefully reason through the data rather than making uninformed decisions. Mercury reigns over how we think, speak, write and otherwise deliver messages using our mental faculties. His Virgo visit provides a welcome respite from the free-wheelin' self-indulgence of Leo, the preceding sign on the zodiac wheel—for, once we've had our fun, we must retreat back into responsibility and return our minds to a concise, considered and, when necessary, critical approach toward our life's most important matters.

These last months have been so very heavily influenced by Mercury's other ruling sign, the dual-natured Gemini, which adores entertaining numerous notions simultaneously, feeding intellectual curiosity, without the aggravation of commitment to one. The illustrious voyage of Venus through Gemini (an extra-long Apr 3 thru Aug 7)—including both a lengthy retrograde period and a very rare visible transit across the face of the Sun—has kept us in interminable appreciation of variety, captivated by well-composed titbits and fractional truisms but not integrating them into unified fact. The addition of Mercury into Virgo challenges us to do the mental work, to analyze the rationale behind recent months' communications and to determine whether they hold up under the lens of logic.

It is easy to devolve from informational to dogmatic in our thinking and speaking, the more passionately we believe in what we think and speak. We get sloppy in our analytic process. We lose conciseness, using words like 'terrorists' (or 'communists' or 'bogeymen') to collapse distinctions between individuals and groups of various political persuasions and intents, replacing nuance with the monolithic 'good v. evil' argument, against which the unlucky 'evil' ones have little hope in explaining their motivations. No better are those who lambaste the powerful with cheap impertinent shots, rather than sticking close to the particulars of events and policies. So much of what gets bantered about is laudatory mimicry and kneejerk reaction, colored by what we assume other people want us to think.

The dark battle between unilateral dogma and intellectual diversity exploded into consciousness during the tense Saturn-Pluto opposition (Jul 2001-Jun 2002), epitomized by the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. At that time, Saturn was moving through Gemini, wizening us up to the harsh consequences when partial versions of stories proliferate, challenging us to limit the free reign of relativistic attitudes. This week, as Saturn continues its travels in Cancer, it moves back into aspect with Pluto—this time, though, the aspect is an inconjunct (150°), denoting a more subtly annoying rub requiring adjustment, in contrast to the severe polarity of '01-'02's opposition (180°).

Saturn in Cancer pressures us into emotional discipline, so that we must take responsibility for our feelings, not pretend they're not there and not accept someone else's as our own. With Saturn's inconjunct to Pluto in Sagittarius, we encounter the nag of retaining ownership over our emotions within a broader context of forceful single-minded moralists and doctrinaires vying for our loyalty. In the scope of politics, for instance, neither boundless hate nor blind praise for George W Bush is equal to evaluating the harder-to-verbalize-and/or-cope-with feelings beneath the surface-level partisan verve.

People suffer and die at the hands of dogma-systems. Some benefit financially from the glaring poverty of others. All of us reside in a complicated mix of conscience and complicity. It does not matter who you want to win for president, whether you agree with the war in Iraq, or what you personally decide about any polarizing issue—just that you do decide something, based on independent contemplation, that isn't at uncomfortable odds with your true emotional nature.

Saturday's Full Moon (the second Full Moon of the month, known as a 'blue moon') falls in Aquarius, conjoining Neptune to add an idealistic tone to this future-minded lunation. When we think of the future, we have a spiritual obligation to ourselves to imagine the best possible outcomes—no, we're not being naïve dreamers, but rather creative visionaries—or else our apocalyptic fears help bring those worst-case scenarios into being.

Along with the Full Moon, just-the-facts-ma'am Mercury in Virgo opposes revolutionary Uranus (more about this as we go) for the first of three passes, fracturing too-tight explanations with a disruptive dose of radicalism. Limiting mindsets will reveal their limitations in coming weeks. The best we can do is recommit to being free-thinkers, unshackled by our own histories or habits or by those loudspeaker news voices telling us their special-interest-sponsored versions of the truth.

I repeat: It doesn't matter what you think, as long as you—and not someone else—think it. And thought requires thought.