As it has for the past four years, the Spring Equinox will set off the Uranus-Pluto square. Throughout the month of March, the Sun and Mercury will bump up against Uranus in early Aries, triggering its urgent pull towards activism and disruption. Towards the end of the month, the Sun and Uranus together will stimulate Pluto’s relentless call to eliminate detritus, and this particular juncture point of the solar cycle provokes the confrontation.
We can expect the tension to be highest when Mercury conjoins Uranus on March 5 and March 18 (twice, because of its retrograde movement), and when the Sun sets off a cosmic echo of the transit’s previous hits by conjoining the Aries point on March 19, Mercury on March 21 and Uranus on March 24.
A lot of astrological material has been written about the Cardinal crossroads: the critical period between 2008 and 2023, during which a succession of rare and powerful configurations takes place in the sky. In fact, it boggles the mind how many of the things astrologers were saying about it—way back when, years before it happened—have come to pass. The planets have stuck to their mysterious thematic scripts so precisely that our pronouncements upon the meaning of these epochal transits hardly need any amendment.
And now the Cosmic Playwright has thickened the plot with the entry of Neptune into Pisces. Not as obvious as the crash-bang energy of the Uranus-Pluto square, the Neptune transit adds a subtle undercurrent of feeling to the proceedings. I discuss its influence on our individual psychologies in my lecture, The Surrounding Sea.
In the (Sibly) chart of the USA (1), the Moon has been soaking in a marinade of Neptune and Chiron for four years now. This energy peaked at the Super Conjunction of Neptune, Chiron and Jupiter in 2009, when Jupiter, too, was in the mix. Now, in 2012, Chiron has pulled ahead of Neptune, out of orb. But with both of them now in Pisces, and with Neptune only three degrees from the Sibly Moon, the USA is still deeply immersed.
We have here the most fluctuating sign in the zodiac, Pisces, motivating the most subjective planet in the chart, the Moon. Americans are being compelled not by their reason, but by their moods. Given that the Moon is the ruler of the Sibly Sun in Cancer, this holds true more or less all the time. But under this transit, the vagaries of collective feeling have resulted in so much waffling and vacillating that a grand political pronouncement aired on Morning Edition is likely to have been entirely reversed by the evening news.
Pisces is not known for discrimination. When ungrounded in a moral center, its orientation flops around like a fish on deck. Consider the capriciousness of the Republican “base,” warming to and then jettisoning a long string of would-be nominees.
The contenders themselves, most of them having morphed into ex-candidates, have been just as slippery. The week after Neptune’s ingress, Herman Cain, who had just endorsed Gingrich for president, allowed as how he’d also be “very comfortable” with a Romney candidacy. This prompted Buddy Roemer to snicker, “Romney is the one per cent, Gingrich is his lobbyist, and Herman’s just looking for a job.”
The planet Neptune is associated with dreams, a word/concept with a wide reach. At the literal end of the meaning spectrum, dreams are those cinematic film clips we experience behind our eyelids when asleep. Dreams can also refer to the fantasies and denial mechanisms that cloud our judgment when we don’t want to look at the facts, as when someone busts us for not being realistic: “You’re dreaming.”
It is this sense of Neptune that has given rise to the incoherent impulses that dominate America’s political discussion, as expressed, for instance, in the tendency of so many struggling citizens to vote against their own financial interests. It is this expression of Neptune that has made Americans as susceptible as they are to the soporific of the corporate media.
And there is a third meaning called up by the word dreams, which seems to be the one advertisers and American Idol presenters are aiming for: worldly ambitions and goals. When famous athletes tell ghetto schoolchildren to “dream big,” they seem to really mean “Pursue a successful career.” When the heroine of a Broadway show sings of “living her dreams,” she means “I want to be famous.” When an oncology charity talks of dreams, they mean a trip to Disneyland.
Right now is a good time to look at these popular clichés. With the national Moon all Pisces’d-out, most public discussion is steeped in a highly emotional vagueness that tries to tug at our heartstring while making little attempt to deliver the goods.
This group sensibility will be challenged several times during 2012, as Mars—in Virgo for a remarkable eight months—opposes every Pisces planet in sight. Strengthening this theme of watery agitation, Mars was conjunct the US Neptune at the Mars station of January 23, putting the imprint on the whole calendar year. Foggy emotionalism and practical considerations are slated to battle it out throughout 2012.
One of the lessons we can learn, as individuals, from the Pisces/Virgo challenge is that there is a difference between facile, ersatz feeling and deep, heart-connected feeling.
The former is sentimentality, ubiquitous in American popular culture. Cheap and easy to fake, sentiment is the stock in trade of disingenuous politicians, for whom affecting a moist-eyed patriotism at every whistle stop is a surefire way to gain poll points.
Genuine emotion that simultaneously quickens hearts across a wide swath of the populace is much harder to find in our society. One instance of this was the outpouring of communal grief that washed over the US public just after 9/11.
A more recent instance of group feeling was the sense of celebration that was sparked by Occupy Wall Street last fall, filling parks and city squares with heartfelt excitement. Assembling to freely express what millions had been feeling for so long but had been missing in the public discussion, the OWS movement has been a massive cri de coeur (2).
Now is a good time to contemplate the difference between Hallmark-card-style Neptune and the real deal. In his discussion of sentimental art, the great art critic Northrop Frye described the distinction this way (slightly paraphrased):
Religious or patriotic art is usually sentimental in expression because these demand loyalty, by repeating the same creed every Sunday, the same flag at every assembly. Sentimentality denies forward movement in art because it denies fresh discovery. It touts familiar values, stock responses. It’s fearful because it resists as a child would, the inexorable advance through time—it tries to arrest this with nostalgia. It is the subjective equivalent of the mob’s stock response to mood. It is withdrawn but not detached, egocentric but not individualized, gregarious but not social.
Neptune and Chiron in Pisces tell us that we have the opportunity right now to become inspired. The potential also exists to be submerged by pain and grief (see the Skywatch for March 2012 on MotherSky.com). Both manifestations of Pisces are flowing through the ethers right now. Our task is to savor the inspiration, and work with the pain.
With self-discipline, we can transform the latter into the former. It takes spiritual fortitude, but it can be done, and for those who want take advantage of all these transits have to offer, it must be attempted: using grief and pain to cultivate a deeper understanding of life, and of ourselves.
1 The Sibly chart is the most commonly used birth chart for the group soul of the USA. It is based on the most likely moment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: in Philadelphia on July 4th 1776 at 5:10 pm.
2 For an analysis of the OWS chart, see my article “People Power” in the Spring edition of The Mountain Astrologer Magazine.