Beyond Me, The Planets Keep Moving


Apparently, as I've been waxing self-indulgent about my own higher-calling angst, the planets have kept right on moving. (You'd think they would've checked with me first, but whatever.)

And in light of all the astro-stuff that's happening in the next week or so, I'd better get back on my game… or you'll be left to contend with the high cosmic drama, without my Cliffs-Notes rendition of what to expect. (Would I force you to read the whole book yourself, when a big exam is coming up? Don't answer that question.)

Stay with me, my friends, as I breeze through this celestial climate report, and you'll be totally ready to face the strange.

1. Venus conjoins Pluto, before they both move into Capricorn.

One of the biggest pieces of news this year is Pluto's move into Capricorn, which officially begins on Friday (Jan 25). After a dozen years in Sagittarius, Pluto's ready for something new. He'll spend all of 2008 on the cusp between the signs, moving us from a painfully deep examination of ideology (Sagittarius) toward an equally, if not more, painfully deep examination of authority. It's no accident that a presidential election as huge as the one we Americans are facing this November should fall in such a pivotal year of astrological transition. (More on this forthcoming…)

But on the micro-level scale of this particular week ahead, Venus moves into a conjunction with Pluto on Wed (Jan 23) in the last degree of Sagittarius, then scoots her derriere into Capricorn a few hours later. In light of the 'no going back from here', line-in-the-sand moment I described a month ago (at Jupiter's conjunction with Pluto), this event is a clear reiteration of that message. In other words, if we'd temporarily forgotten how we swore our lives would never be the same after those fateful days of mid-December '07, Venus would like to lovingly remind us now.

In conjunction with each other, Venus and Pluto pull us toward people and experiences that activate deep responses in us, due to unresolved parts of our psyches that crave something beyond the run-of-the-mill, 'hi, how are you?' niceties—and into relationships, lasting a few moments or the rest of our lives, with the power to help us heal old crap by forcing us to confront it head-on.

The attractions that Venus/Pluto foster are often considered 'forbidden' on the polite-society scale. When we pursue them, in defiance of how we 'should' behave, we meet all the submerged feelings left over from those past experiences that trained us to 'should' all over ourselves. Are we supposed to pretend we don't feel that way, passively obeying strictures imposed upon us by someone (mom, dad, the cool kids, the mainstream media, a biblical sort of God) dominant enough that we didn't dare argue? Must we return these titillating yearnings to their dark corner, hoping that a weak clammy smile will convince the object of our hot-and-bothered-ness that, in fact, we aren't really interested, after all?

The value of not pretending it away and not packing it back up is inseparable from the big changes that we'll all witness over these coming years… for, at the end of this astrological 'day of reckoning', our very existence is turning into a choice between (1) subjecting ourselves to that much more ruthless dictatorial intrusion from parents, spouses, bosses, corporations, governments and hegemony-preserving cultural forces or (2) unceremoniously, irreverently and defiantly refusing to abide by the increasingly limiting rules… all because, especially as global crises intensify (and, oh yes, they will), individual life is just too precious to squander on not pursuing the meatiest experiences possible, decorum be damned.

We are not bad for wanting what we want—maybe just a bit self-defeating for not wanting to want it.

2. One more week of Mars retrograde, then a couple months to fully regroup.

To hear Mars tell it, though, everything Venus/Pluto is luring us into will simply cause too much trouble. Mars, still retrograde through next Wed (Jan 30), would rather revisit the familiar battles… with hope that, turning in on ourselves, we'll actually progress past the bodily blockages and justifications not to bother asserting our desires, instead of merely picking at old scabs and cramming our gullets full of those same addictive treats. Solely from his perspective, it'd probably make more sense to just deal with the low-hanging fruit of our immediate self-focused anxieties and inconveniences—as opposed to going into the more complicated situations, where the stakes seem higher but the risks are scarier than hell.

Of course, as I already pointed out, these are actually two interrelated sides to same astrological coin. Mars remains across the sky from Venus/Pluto (the exact Venus opposition happened on Sat Jan 19), keeping them in dynamic dialogue with each other. The aggravating Mars-retrograde disruptions to our usual manner of proceeding through the world may have us grabbing for the closest wall, in a feeble attempt to steady ourselves by seeing which behavioral habits still work—and which are, in fact, part of the debilitating problem. But Venus and Pluto, along with Jupiter, all expressing their quest for deeper big-picture profundity, are a far more commanding force for evolution. Their outer-planet-powered magnitude dominates the retrograde Mars, leaving him to fiddle with a variable mix of excitement (because he knows big things are happening), impotence (but he can't do much 'moving forward' until the timing is better) and frustration (since what's more frustrating than impotence?).

Though Mars returns to direct motion in just over a week, it'll take another two months or so for him to unwind himself back out from his retrograde shadow. While our physical energies should begin to pick back up to a more predictable flow right away, we'll also be 'finishing up' the personal process of reorganizing our self-assertive tendencies we began back in late-September 07, when Mars first entered his shadow zone. We're really looking ahead to April 08 (once Mars has already reformed his oppositions to Jupiter and Pluto and emerged into fresh territory) until this whole period is done, past, and integrated into our daily lives.

3. Mercury conjoins Neptune, in preparation to retrograde next week (Mon Jan 28).

When Mercury and Neptune get together (as they do tomorrow, Tue Jan 22), our thoughts and words fall under a dual spell of idealism and imagination. This aspect guides us to process information from a more romantic (in the most general sense of the word) viewpoint, favoring emotional wisdom, compassion and divine beauty over logic, precision and clarity. We see beyond the earthy veneers of literality and distinct ego-boundary, into the realm where we're all connected as one great life-force and our highest wishfulness can indeed make magic, whether metaphoric or real.

With Mercury/Neptune, our minds may be touched by divine inspiration, with ideas and solutions that might 'make no sense' yet feel so right, dare we open ourselves to the Source (whatever that is). However, in the process, we could also become blinded to certain practical facts, crucial exceptions, or any awareness that might shatter the otherwise exquisite rose-colored perfection. This is a time for allowing the irrational sparkle of hope into our ways of thinking, to spur our creativity to envision how things could be—but not necessarily for accurately assessing how things actually are.

The sign of both Mercury's conjunction to Neptune and its upcoming retrograde is Aquarius, which clues us into the best context for harnessing its imaginative power—from the aerial perspective, looking at how each person or thing or step-in-the-process fits together with each other one. Aquarius is a system-level thinker, preferring the holistic interlinking overview, without too much close-up contact to any one individual node of the matrix.

We must excuse Mercury/Neptune in Aquarius, then, for focusing its cosmic insights toward the good of the group… at the potential expense of personal intimacy. While this is a good opportunity to broaden our usual self-focused outlook, we must also be careful not to deride or devalue certain other individuals' points-of-view, out of some impersonal (and self-aggrandizing) notion that one person's alternative perspective is less significant than what we believe is what's best for the larger majority. This dehumanizing approach to 'the higher good' (calling for too much self-sacrifice) is a dark side to Aquarius's so-called humanitarianism.

4. Within range of the next big solar eclipse, Wed Feb 5 in Aquarius.

Simply put, this puts us on the brink of the latest 'eclipse period'… the month-or-so phase of accelerated climactic development in the stories of our lives. Eclipses happen every six months or so, in sets of two or three, and essentially move along the action at a heightened pace.

Considering this eclipse falls in Aquarius, in conjunction to both Mercury retrograde and Neptune, the issues detailed in the preceding section are just as relevant to our understanding of the eclipse. I'll write more about that in a week or two. Suffice it to say, we're on track to discern where our beliefs dovetail with the conventional wisdom, making us more or less a part of the team, the community, or society at large—and what the consequences might be.