How do we keep our integrity in insane times? Here’s a rule of thumb that covers all contingencies: Aspire to the highest truth, in every situation.
Astrologically, this translates as living through the center of the chart. This means identifying with our essential selves, whether our upbringing taught us to do so or not; whether our friends are doing so or not; whether our country’s leaders and spokespeople are doing so or not.
It can get confusing when we take into account how many “selves” we have. Natal charts are complex amalgams of different planets in different signs: the Moon is our emotional needs, Jupiter our idealism, Mercury the opinions we hold, Venus our personal values, etcetera. Being true to the self should beg the question, “Which part of myself?”
When we are in the moment, responding fully through every part of our chart, the sense of unity trumps our inner fractiousness. But when we’re not, the many levels of truth that the self perceives—intellectual, emotional, political, esoteric—sometimes seem to clash with each other, even cancel each other out (1). For example, it often feels as if there’s a contradiction between seeing things politically and seeing things spiritually.
Have you ever been blissed-out at a meditation retreat in the mountains? In that context, doesn’t the sturm und drang of elections and culture wars feel utterly faraway and absurdly unreal? In those circumstances we feel that the sublime wisdom of our guru is the only thing that’s real. But once we get back to our daily routine and plunge into the social fray, we might feel the opposite.
Once we’re home again and following the news, we might find ourselves, say, in an argument with someone who had more important things to do than vote in the midterm elections (in which it is speculated that the GOP would’ve lost the House if all of the eligible young voters had voted). Which shocks and appalls us. So now, suddenly, it’s the “naval-gazing” that’s unreal. Now we feel what’s really real is paying attention to one’s immediate cultural and political environment.
But these two layers of existence are not at odds. As suggested by the ‘60s catch phrase “Think globally, act locally,” there are different tiers to our human existence, which different parts of ourselves are sensitive to. Political understanding is a lens that we can polish to a high clarity, or not use at all, depending on our ambitions and proclivities. Spiritual understanding is another lens, which, similarly, we can polish or not polish.
Our natal chart provides clues as to whether we’ll emphasize the political over the spiritual or vice versa. And depending on what’s going on with our transits, the emphasis may shift. A person who normally thinks of herself as apolitical may be drawn to engage actively in her societal matrix if her chart is being triggered by an epochal configuration like the Cardinal Cross. Assuming her activism is fueled by animal instincts, clear-thinking intellect and cosmic connectedness, it will enrich her spiritual understanding rather than detracting from it. Ultimately it is not about which point of view we assume, but how fully engaged we are.
This month the sky is ablaze with transits to the US chart. From December 3 through December 29, Uranus, Pluto and Saturn will be activated by more quickly moving planets (2), and they are all turning up the heat under the Sibly chart’s Cancer cluster. Mercury and Mars will probably force dramatic events when they hit the long-term opposition of transiting Pluto to the Sibly Sun, T-squared by Uranus (which stations on December 5).
This is an opportunity to glimpse deeper levels of truth, collectively and personally. Americans who aspire to the political truth will get to strip one more layer of nonsense off their national self-image. On December 12-13 Mars conjoins Pluto exactly: an invitation to confront the nastiness of decay.
In US culture, as in every culture, nationalistic identification inclines us to believe government spokesmen. That is, our government’s spokesmen. Nationalism—and its high-drama cousin, patriotism—are almost universally seen to be virtues. They dictate our point of view so thoroughly that even progressive thinkers are hypnotized by them. Otherwise unemotional men (especially men) are considered high-minded and noble if they sniff and snuffle a little bit when saluting the flag.
But during this time of cosmic crossroads, a good many of our assumptions about what constitutes civilized virtues are biting the dust (see the December Skywatch on MotherSky.com). Many thinkers are proposing that we must move beyond our identification with nation-states if we are to survive as a planet. For Americans, this would mean viewing our country’s machinations from a wider point of view, even as we continue to confer meaning on our Americanness.
Pluto and Government
Take, for example, the so-called “War on Terror,” a powerful propaganda conceit that doubles as a military campaign. When we allow ourselves to parse the concept of ”terror” apart from its postmillennial buzzword status—that is, independent of the meaning the US government wants us to give it—we see Pluto in Capricorn at work.
Terrorism, the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, has been around for a long time. What is noteworthy about the current use of this word-concept is that it has been taken over by the state, which has claimed exclusive rights to its definition. This definition presumes, of course, that only the government’s enemies can be terrorists. But the overuse of this term since 9/11/01 has inadvertently thrown attention on the fact that governments claim the right to monopolize the perpetration of violence.
Classic examples of this monopolization include the British vs. Irish nationalists, the Pentagon vs. the Vietnamese/Iraqis/ Afghans, and police forces everywhere vs. dissidents. As geopolitical writer Andrew Palmer has pointed out, where violent groups arise which have not been state-sanctioned, they’re tagged with this word, isolated, and turned into a propaganda plus for the government. The ruling party of Israel uses the word terrorism as often as the White House does. It came in very handy when the IDF was massacring innocents in Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009, billing the slaughter as an assertion of law and order.
Thus is the state’s own terrorism not only permitted by a hoodwinked citizenry, but welcomed by most of them. The group’s inner child (signified by a national chart’s natal Moon) needs to believe that its parent figures are keeping it safe. Under the guise of “security,” this need keeps the US populace from protesting their disempowerment. It is because of this aspect of group psychology that the Bush administration’s curtailment of American civil liberties has not been reversed. It is the reason the TSA screenings at airports are overwhelmingly accepted by the masses, despite their degrading nature, statistical contraindications, and potential to cause cancer.
The use of the noun “terrorist” as a linguistic bogeyman appeals to this same layer of the group psyche. Like a toddler who wants his parent there to fend off nighttime monsters, this aspect of the populace is reassured when the Pentagon says that “several suspected terrorists” were killed in Afghanistan. Logically, the phrase “several suspected civilians were killed” would be at least as accurate. But it wouldn’t play as well in Peoria.
Political and Spiritual
Whether we call it spiritual awareness or political awareness or something else, it’s all about awareness. One is awake or one is not.
If we believe that there are no accidents, then it follows that everything in our reality is there for a reason. Not everyone believes in that we create everything in our reality, of course. But if we do, then to be consistent, we should consider the ramifications of what we are proposing. To declare a belief in this dictum is to believe, with no sense of blame attached, that everything in our environment, from our wardrobe to the weather, is a part of a meaningful gestalt: our very own cosmic learning curve, none of it arbitrary.
This total meaningfulness includes other people and their doings. If we are inhaling second-hand smoke from our neighbors, clearly the reality we created includes our neighbors’ nicotine addiction. If we are paying taxes that go towards the slaughter of human beings in other countries, then our reality includes what our government is doing. Whatever exists in our life is there to enlarge our awareness.
I suppose it could be argued that, free will being what it is, we could then decide to either respond to it or not. This argument might sound more persuasive in ordinary times. But these are not ordinary times.
(1) Eckert Tolle teaches that when we find ourselves confused between our feelings and ideas at any given moment, it’s the feelings that we should trust.