I Watched Two Brothers Beat Each Other Up


I tuned in to TV's 20/20 for the segment on celebrity siblings (Jessica Simpson's sister Ashlee? All right!), and ended up sticking around for the entire two-hour exposition on sibling relationships, during which I was treated not only to Spencer and Jackson's mutual abuse (Spencer's older, so he inflicts pain harder) but also a genuinely touching look at gifted high-schooler Melissa's protective relationship with her autistic brother Brandon (she would die for him, she says). Sibling relationships, I was reminded, are often the ones that endure the longest of all relationships throughout our lives.

Ashlee Simpson aside, I found this 20/20 fascinating first and foremost because I am an only child, without any siblings of my own (my parents notwithstanding). Siblings are a dimension of life simply unavailable to me through primary experience—though we cannot fully miss what we've never had—so I love to hear others' accounts of loving and hating their brothers and sisters.

But the show also struck a chord in relation to the current retrograde of Venus through Gemini, the zodiac's symbol of two siblings combined (working together? working against each other?) within one sign. Just as Gemini falls somewhere in everybody's birthchart, so too do all of us possess internal siblings, multiple selves who each struggle to be heard, with greater or lesser success, through compromise or conflict. And this is true regardless of whether we have actual siblings or not—though, for those who do, the personalities of these inner figures are likely influenced by their real-life counterparts. So pervasive is this image of our internalized selves duking it out… just witness Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, or the countless fictional characters whose interior monologues play out with an animated angel and devil popping up to argue the merits of both sides with each other.

Alas, our own contrasting subpersonalities don't often dress up in such easy-to-read color-coded clarity (wings and halo = good, horns and pitchfork = bad). At any given moment, we may not know whose version we should believe, just like Mom and Dad can't be sure which of their two brawling brats started the fight, which one is at fault, which one should be punished or praised. Yet, during Venus's retrograde through Gemini, all our internal siblings are speaking up. The different personalities comprising our personalities each have their interests piqued.

Which is why (as I said last week) two or more prospective paramours, tempting treasures and appealing approaches are vying for our attentions, thanks to Venus moving backwards through the sign of multiplicity. Each sibling has her most favored tactic for convincing the parents—or the integrated personality—why her way is right. And with wordwise Gemini involved, you can expect all the arguments to sound good on their own. Too bad, when lined up together, they contradict.

Last week's developments in the Middle East parallel this multiple-version Venus-retrograde-in-Gemini scenario, for all nations are fundamentally each other's siblings in that family called The World. (It's just some are older, stronger, richer, nosier, bigger bullies…) In the western Iraqi desert, US forces bombed a civilian wedding party, killing more than 40, likely due to mistaking celebratory gunshots as enemy fire. Except, according to a US military spokesman, it wasn't a wedding at all, but rather a high-level meeting of foreign fighters who had crossed the Syrian border to assist Iraqi insurgents. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces conducted 'Operation Rainbow' to uncover and destroy secret tunnels built by Palestinian terrorists to smuggle in long-range weapons. Only, the tunnels happened to be located under homes and the explosions happened to go off among crowds of protesters, killing many civilians and leading the UN to condemn Israel for human rights violations. To hear the Israeli defense minister tell it, the civilian deaths were 'unintentional'.

(Interestingly, both incidents' varying accounts hinged on questions of whether the news photos were of the actual events, or whether pictures of previous unrelated atrocities had been (manipulatively) released in their place. Hmm, reminiscent of last month's substitution of coffin images of Space Shuttle Columbia victims for US military casualties.)

What really happened? Whose stories are true? Don't count on the media to help us out of this one. 'Mom, I was minding my own business, and he kicked me.' 'Nuh-uh, he started it. He punched me in the face. I didn't do anything.' 'It was a wedding.' 'No, it wasn't.' 'It was unintentional.' 'No, it wasn't.'

There is a danger to letting the sibling squabbling continue enclosed inside our bodies, just as a good parent is compelled to intervene in seemingly endless circular fights between her kids. Indecisiveness not only gets us nowhere; it is hazardous to our health. Yet, as I warned last week, Venus retrograde makes it hard to accurately gauge the value of things and relationships. How, in such an astrological environment, can we be expected to decide? No doubt, it is a tricky situation, but I have two pieces of advice to help us through the wishy-washy wavering of the next several weeks.

(1) This week's conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Cancer actually assists us in taking action, but of the cautious and strategic brand. In the words of astrologer Philip Sedgwick, Saturn likes to 'work smart'—but with this conjunction in watery wordless Cancer, 'smart' means in line with our rich emotional intuitions. Tune out the rhetoric, and ignore the argume