Happy New Moon Everyone!
Today, some thoughts about planetary "energies." Do planets really have energies? Can you really feel them? Have astrologers always talked about planetary "energies?" Why does it matter?
* First, it's important to note that astrologers haven't always agreed upon whether or not planets are signs, indicators, or omens (like Tarot cards, runes, or I Ching hexagrams), or whether they are active forces exerting some kind of causal energy (like weather patterns). In fact, this has been something of an ongoing debate for most of the history of astrology.
* What's at stake in this debate? Well, people who suggest that the planets are causes, exerting real energies, believe that, to some extent, the ongoing predictable cycles of the planets demonstrate that there is something empirical going on with astrology's predictive powers. Because the planetary movements are able to accurately predict a huge variety of different events and themes (both inner and outer), they must be participating in some kind of causal dynamic. In fact, as long ago as the first centuries of the common era, astrologers have hypothesized about the way in which the planets might be literally causing things to happen. For example, many early astrologers believed that the Moon, being a reflective light, captured the lights of the other planets and then disseminated the light through the subtle elemental spheres (fire, air, water, and earth), which in turn stimulated all different kinds of changes and mixtures of the elements, which in turn created the gross changes we see here on planet Earth (from weather to mundane events or personal events). Today, though we use words like "energy," astrologers from bygone eras similarly used words like "rays" or "light," in order to convey the idea of the planets actually emitting something and creating or causing various kinds of changes.
* Today we find people still hypothesizing all the time, through the incorporation of ideas from quantum physics and morphogenetic field theory, among many other things, and thus basically making the same argument: "the planets are causal agents and they are affecting us and affecting changes of all kinds, all the time."
* The main reasons that people are drawn to or prefer these kinds of explanations is that they feel that astrology should be respected as a kind of science, or that the effects of an astrological transit are in some ways demonstrable or empirically verifiable. Or, perhaps just as important, people feel that by seeing the planets as affecting us on an energetic level, our free will is more integral or important. The argument goes like this, "if the planets are exerting energies upon us, then we have to interact with or respond to those energies with our free will." Let's draw a comparison with the daily weather. If it's raining outside, it may affect your mood or it may affect your walk to the post office, but because you have free will, you could also choose to adjust your mood. You may recognize that it's raining and that you're feeling dreary, and so you may listen to an upbeat song and try to lift your spirits despite the "influence" of the weather. Or, you might choose to drive, rather than walk, to the post office. Because we value freedom, individuality, and the idea of a somewhat, if not totally, open future (ours to create!), the idea of the planets as causal agents, as energy fields or influences, is very appealing to us. Who could blame anyone for wanting to have some participatory role to play in their day to day lives, let alone the cosmos itself!
* Another reason, a more social reason, that people often prefer astrological causality or the conceptualization of the planets as literally exerting some kind of influence upon us, is that we want to be taken seriously by the "scientific" community, or, at least, we don't want to appear like there isn't a high degree of intelligence or intellectual sophistication to the students, practitioners, or study of astrology. Referencing quantum physics, energy fields, or neuroscience, lends an aura or mood of "credibility" to astrologers and astrology.
* Similarly, some people who may not want to go so far as to claim that the planets have some literal/energetic influence will claim that astrology is an artistic or symbolic language, based on the movements of the planets, or that is more like a psychological tool or artform, a cultural/imaginative artefact that engages something very deep in the human spirit, which may aid or assist in the creation of meaning in life, and who could suggest THAT isn't a worthwhile activity? In this line of reasoning, astrology is not so different from the work of writers, filmmakers, actors, musicians, poets, etc.
* All of the above may or may not be true. I do not pretend to have the answers, and I am open to being wrong; after all, we are standing on shaky ground if we are more afraid of being wrong than we are eager to learn the truth. However, I personally believe that the planets are signs, omens, or indicators, not unlike Tarot cards or runes or I Ching hexagrams, and I'll try to explain why.
* The simplest reason I believe that the planets aren't causing things to happen but rather signifying or describing what is happening is that I see the sky as more of a mirror than series of forces acting on us. This isn't to say that there aren't forces acting on us, within us, and around us all of the time. It's only to say that, to me, those forces are too many, too complex, and generally speaking too subtle to assign to factors as simple or monolithic as the planets. This isn't to say that the planets may not have energies or energetic effects. It's more generally to say that the planets' powers, or the power of the language of astrology in general, signifies a huge and complex range of forces that we mostly pretend to understand when we make declarative statements about how astrology "works." To me, seeing the sky as a mirror, and seeing the planets as omens, signs, or indicators, simply feels more honest and reverential. After ten years of regularly altering my consciousness in ayahuasca ceremonies, I feel comfortable saying that there are innumerable levels of material reality with innumerable material forces, flowing and changing constantly, and they are operating in ways that are largely beyond the limits of our minds to understand, predict, or map out, especially when it comes to their role in human/earthly destiny. However, my experiences with ayahuasca also convinced me within the very first hours of my very first experience, that signs, omens, and symbols, have the power to capture, describe, organize, interpret, or instruct us with regard to the workings of the innumerable and complex forces that are at work in our lives and within our environments.
* In the Bhagavad Gita, for example, Krishna says that karma is deeply mysterious and that not even the wisest sages understand the workings of karma (karma being action and reaction, or action and the outcomes of actions). I agree.
* In my mind, it's not that science is a waste of time. It's that science is, itself, a kind of symbolic activity. The language of science is itself a language of symbol. It is oracular. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, "But nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her. Here, as in the courts, the character of the evidence depends on the shape of the examination, and a good cross-examiner can do wonders. He will not indeed elicit falsehoods from an honest witness. But, in relation to the total truth in the witness's mind, the structure of the examination is like a stencil. It determines how much of that total truth will appear and what pattern it will suggest."
* The trick is to remember that the "total truth" we inquire about is infinitely expanding, infinitely new, and cannot be circumscribed by the mind. The total and highest truth desires a relationship with us and can only reveal itself to us within the context of the heart that has surrendered itself to it. From that surrender comes the intelligence needed to continue moving into and becoming closer with the truth that is ever new and ever-expanding, faster than light, faster than material reality, and faster than the speed of the mind.
* Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that the perfection of analytical study leads one to surrender the heart to the divine. He also says that when one surrenders in devotion and service to the divine, he naturally reciprocates by giving one higher intelligence.
* So, although our symbolic language of astrology is rooted in math, astronomy, and some recurring, physically describable and predictable "scientific" language, I personally believe that the planets are signs, omens, and indicators of forces that are too many, too complex, and even beyond the literal/physical planets themselves. To that end, I don't believe astrology comes from observation and experimentation but rather from higher, transcendental intelligence that was given to/received by ancient sages. I don't believe that we can therefore easily sit down and discuss "how it works" from an analytical perspective, or even reverse engineer astrology down to some easy core principles that tidily explain how it has the power to accurately predict or describe our lives. To do that, at the very least, we would have to stop talking about scientific theories, no matter how progressive, and start insisting that meditation and mind/body practices be an essential part of astrological inquiry (alongside any mental disciplines).
* Similarly, I believe that the fascination with astrological history or theory that is devoid of any interest in the consciousness of ancient astrologers or the consciousness that could have produced the language of astrology is mostly fruitless.
* When people suggest that astrology is merely an art form or an antiquated, psychological language that may assist us in the ultimate modern project of meaning-making, what I hear is a kind of post-modern nihilism or empiricism cloaked in the love of literature or the arts or of academia.
* There are practical reasons I believe this position (planets as signs/omens/indicators) to be beneficial for us astrology geeks, as well. For one thing, I can't tell you how regularly I hear people say, "Saturn is kicking my butt," or "this energy is really draining me." The problem with this language is that it frequently encourages a distorted view of ourselves and of reality. From the perspective of planets as signs or omens, Saturn isn't doing anything to you. Saturn is simply reflecting things that are going on inside of you and in your life here on earth. If you want to get to the source of those things, you usually have to look inward, or you need some common sense, or you need to survey your immediate environment and do some healthy discerning or critical thinking. Similarly, it's rarely that the energy is draining you as much as it is that you aren't getting enough sleep, you aren't eating or exercising, you are taking substances into your body that aren't healthy, you aren't maintaining healthy boundaries, etc. If the upside of the planets as energies is that we can "work with them as influences," then the downside is that we can also blame them as influences rather than recognizing the impact of our own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and choices.
* But what about this idea that we can and should be working with the influences of material nature, in general? Isn't that worth salvaging somehow? Yes! Of course! The planets may still signify or symbolize different kinds of forces, and we are still conscious agents with free will, it's just that a planet isn't the sole force itself as much as it is describing different kinds of forces in different areas of our lives, at different times, that we may be contending with or interacting with.
* Planets also describe fate. Some things aren't about influence, they are about destiny.
* We should also remember that one of the earliest and most common philosophical motivations for doing astrology in the first place was that by using the "stars of the Gods" as omens saying something about the "fate or destiny" of the native, both the student of astrology and the client, may come closer to accepting with equanimity the field of fate/karma into which one is born. This acceptance of fate is likened unto a kind of spiritual liberation within numerous mystical traditions that were popular at the time of astrology's advent.
* So perhaps the biggest benefit of seeing the planets as signs and indicators, wandering objects moving in fixed, tight, rhythmic, predictable, and cyclical circles, is the reminder that real freedom isn't found in manipulating influences within ever-repeating circles, but rather it's found in the consciousness that sees itself both within but ultimately beyond these cycles and circles. We ourselves, our lives, our egos, our activities, become symbols, omens, or signs. And the single greatest influence we have is the one that has us, that wants us, 24/7, without fail...the influence that is inviting us back home, back into our hearts, into a happiness that knows no limits, that is equal in happiness and distress, that walks its fate with indescribable gladness, and that surprises the world with the freedom of an unspeakable intimacy.
Prayer: Show us the signs of your glory, wonder, and love. Influence us.
The dark Moon is about to enter Cancer, where it will soon conjoin the Sun and oppose Pluto, forming a solar eclipse.
Some initial things to think about:
* The Sun represents clarity, illumination, knowledge, and higher intelligence, and Pluto represents the rumblings and stirrings of the unconscious, of the underworld, with themes of catharsis, purgation, depth, and transformation. When you put the two of these planets together, opposed, you may find that...
* Your higher intelligence is more capable of recognizing the stirrings and emergence of what are usually unconscious patterns. For example, you may start to unconsciously reach for a soda, the remote control, or you may start writing that email or text or social media post you really shouldn't write, and, suddenly, you will recognize, in a moment of clarity, that the motivation for doing this isn't clean, clear, or pure. It's simply not a good idea! But then, you may have to engage in a battle between your higher intelligence and your lower urges, desires, and the power of your unconscious. Even if you lose, a struggle out in the open is a step toward greater consciousness in this scenario. Just try again if you fall down. Don't give up! Count even the smallest awareness of your challenges emerging right now as a great victory, as mercy, and pray that you might be empowered to do something constructive with the insights you are gaining from within!
* On the other hand, the Sun represents authority, rank, power, fame, status, and visibility, whereas Pluto represents the will to power, the iron hand in the velvet glove, or the intensification, depth, and an almost nuclear level of drive and desire. When you put these planets together, opposed, you may find that...
* Your desire to exert yourself, express yourself, or do whatever it takes to be seen, to be powerful or recognized, to be in control or to be dominant, is incredibly strong. Or, you may find that people with this kind of drive and hunger are peppering your porridge at the moment. :)
* Fathers, leaders, CEO's, people in the spotlight, may also experience a fall, might be outed or exposed, betrayed or called out. Corruption and general yucky people or things might be revealed or brought to the sunlight for a bath of honesty and humility, or...revenge and public humiliation/shaming.
Prayer: Bathe us in the warmth of what all of this looks like, the light and dark, the good and bad, the clarity and ignorance, from 100,000 feet above the constant circling of these wandering stars.
Venus has just entered the sign of Virgo, and Jupiter is about to turn direct in Scorpio!
Here's what to watch for:
* Venus has just entered Mercury's earthy home and exaltation, which happens to be the sign of her own depression or "fall." What does this mean? It means that Venus is now navigating some of the inherent archetypal tensions between herself and Mercury. Rhetorius summarized this in terms of the relation between desire and sensuality and logic or reason. He said that where one increases the other is depressed and vice versa. So...
* Venus in Virgo is sometimes overly rigid, analytical, dry, or worried when she prefers to be harmonizing, flowing, sensing, feeling, and enjoying.
* Venus in Virgo is sometimes torn between the desire to enjoy any kind of sensual happiness and the nervous tension of the mind. This can lead to an intense back and forth between the senses and the body and the mind. Imagine the image of a pent-up Librarian...by day he is the keeper of the Dewey decimal system, but by night he moonlights as an exotic dancer!
* On the other hand, Venus in Virgo sometimes guarantees (as one of my readers pointed out yesterday) that we will have better discernment or detachment so that we will make wiser decisions in relation to our desires and senses.
* Venus in Virgo is also the meticulous craftswoman, the detail-oriented architect or designer.
* On the other hand, Venus in Virgo can indicate that our attention to detail when trying to make something beautiful actually makes it end up looking too technically perfect and not "natural" enough.
* Look to the whole sign house of Virgo (or Virgo ruled house) in your birth chart to see where Venus is starting to embody these tensions!
* Playing with the tensions between planets is the simplest and oldest way of understanding how to read any planet in any sign. The reason Venus was "depressed" in Virgo isn't that it's inherently a bad sign for Venus, it's that it reflects a more difficult tension for Venus within the home of another planet. So imagine the goddess being forced to hang out for a while in the house of a brilliant but nervous mathematician...it's not her ideal suitor!
* Next, tomorrow Jupiter turns direct in Scorpio. A planet turning direct is like someone getting out of the DMV. Sometimes the universe puts us into situations where we are forced to contemplate or wait for something. You may enter the DMV whistling a happy song bright and early, but then find yourself held up for hours on end, eventually doubting your own existence. But it's all worth it. The DMV is like a modern sweat-lodge in the sense that when you emerge from the intense heat of the ritual you are strangely cleansed. When you leave the DMV, for at least the first hour afterward you feel like an adult, like a real person, with real choices, and the sky is the limit! :)
* Jupiter turning direct indicates that the planet of expansion, faith, growth, abundance, confirmation, good luck, and nobility, is about to start working its magic again (look to the Scorpio ruled house in your birth chart).
* A period of doubt, revision, reflection, delays, and reversals of fortune is coming to an end and momentum will likely start moving things forward again.
* Jupiter turning direct is also about a moment of coherence. You may feel as though you are gaining clarity, wisdom, or understanding, as you turn a corner, finish a project, or prepare for something new (again, look to the Scorpio ruled house in your birth chart). For example, in my own chart, Jupiter is moving through the 7th house of marriage and partnership, and my wife is about to give birth to our second daughter!
* Jupiter turning direct may also indicate that you are experiencing a deep feeling (water sign!) of renewal, regeneration, or rebirth. You may feel as though you are leveling up or powering up after a period of feeling somewhat stuck or weighed down by something.
* Note, Jupiter turning direct in a fixed sign is a bit like a humpback whale slowly turning around and starting to swim in the opposition direction. It's a process! :) Give it some time!
Prayer: Teach us to hear the voice of our higher intelligence, which is careful but fluid, meticulous but easy, uncompromising but effortlessly beautiful.
**ps--in case you missed it, check out yesterday's live video blog on Venus in Virgo and be sure to check out my recent appearance on Chris Brennan's "The Astrology Podcast."
Mercury is moving into an opposition with Mars, and the nodes are involved...
* The temptation to boast, grandstand, fight, or debate for the sport of it
* Confusing anger and self-righteousness with wisdom
* Forcing goodness on others
* Demands, calls for help, the desire to be heard drowned out by one's own voice
* Dissociative intellectualism used aggressively
* Receiving a tough piece of news
* Voice, throat, mind, head, tired, exhausted, etc
* Verbal or mental assault, cloaked as advice
* Pointed questions, or questions with an angle
* Being hard on one's self, the tireless voice of inner criticism
* Words meant to trigger a response
* Analyzing something in order to feel better about one's self
* A bold decision made reactively that only entangles one more deeply in a complicated situation
* Confronting or discussing an issue everyone has been avoiding
* Firing, removal, severing, cutting, or maybe even the image of the man or woman storming out of the office while giving a long speech and sweeping things off desks shelves on the way out
* Constructive criticism versus harsh reprimands
* The opportunity to correct someone taken as the opportunity to tongue-lash someone
* The feeling of being overwhelmed or surrounded by intense mental energies
* Proud, brave, strong communication, taking a stand, being empowered, etc.
* A small thing turns into an all-out debacle
* Your computer or article of technology burps a spout of fire
* Controlling the mind, controlling the tongue, controlling speech, to be more exact, precise, careful, and clear.
* Hot sauce and burnt tongues
Prayer: Be our hot sauce, but please don't burn our tongues.
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Adam Elenbaas is a professional astrologer and the founder of the Nightlight Astrology School. Adam holds an MA and MFA in English and Creative Writing and is one of the founding writers at RealitySandwich. To learn more about Adam, click here.