“There is nonetheless one real object that is never absent from our experience: namely, we ourselves.” – Graham Harman, Object-Oriented Ontology
For the next couple of weeks, Jupiter, Venus, and Chiron are in an orbital dance with one another. As old lovers in a partnered ballroom class, they gracefully pass between each other spending sweet moments in the intimate embrace of a unified motion. Their conjunctions fall under the Aries signature, so while the dancing may be a rather gentle affair, perhaps the instructor happens to be an old student of Baryshnikov – barking orders and criticizing the imperfections. This gathering isn’t just for play, there is work to be done!
Assertive Aries saves itself from the throes of its own authoritarianism when it finds its agency in every situational predicament. Modern psychological research shows that trauma is alleviated when we retain access to our ability to choose.
As I attempt to amalgamate the energies of these celestial bodies inside my brain, my literalist faculties churn out motifs like: volition, expansion of will, potential for deep connection, self-love and care, receiving as a form of giving, and addressing and overcoming scarcity mindset.
All of these subthemes seem to semi-neatly stuff themselves, like straw inside a scarecrow, into a larger overarching theme, which is also my opening statement for this week’s blog: we are the opportunity and the obstacle. We as in you. You as in the ‘I’ at the core of every experience.
Be willing to receive. If you’re thirsty and I pour water all over you, you won’t find any relief unless you open your mouth. When it comes to survival, there seem to be strong biological mechanisms at play that activate our receptivity. These abilities are less under our control and fall more in the instinctual realm – Aries is not so concerned here. When it comes to the conditions that allow us to thrive, some of us (myself included) behave like petulant children. Not only do I keep my mouth closed when someone comes to pour water on me, but I will also spit out any droplets that accidentally seep through my lips. More on why I do this in the following section on Venus-Chiron.
Venus is the chaise lounge of the astrological energies. It could have been a simple plastic pool chair but instead, it’s made of marble and wrapped in the plushest velvet. Either sitting instrument will provide alleviation if you’ve been standing all day, but only one will make you feel like a queen.
The petulant child archetype is a reified wound. It’s as if the unhealed part of us were fighting for its own survival. Please help me try to make sense of that one. Our defense mechanisms are always designed to keep us safe – if we weren’t sure whether the outstretched hand was going to slap us or caress us, we would be caught in a perpetual state of contraction – always bracing for impact and generally expecting the worst. As the cosmic hand extends outward to offer us an opportunity, the wounded centers in us recoil in protective skepticism. This conjures the image of the Tarot’s Four of Cups for me – everything we need is available to us when we recognize it as such. Otherwise, we’re just hunkered under the tree, pouting like the perennial victim.
Whatever of the Venusian elements we’re calling into our lives – wherever we’re desiring to luxuriate – oftentimes, we nip it in the bud before it has a chance to flower. Again, the closed mouth never drinks. We have to open it to ask. Personally, I reject the adage that ‘it never hurts to ask,’ because rejection can feel like death. Death by humiliation – as in, the red in my cheeks and the knot in my belly will team up to asphyxiate me on the spot. This is the pain we have to learn to weather if we want to overcome the protective mechanisms. It might not hurt less but every ‘no’ just becomes a building block to greater resilience.
Whatever we focus on becomes larger. As the wound magnifies in our field of vision, we must not lose sight of the whole – whatever we’re dealing with is just one part of us. The boon of proximity is that it gives us the capacity to effectively address the situation. If you were giving me stitches, I’d want your face so close to my gash that you could smell my blood.
As we’re contending with the aforementioned pain, the kind that keeps us from growing into the more luscious qualities of our lives – may we hold the intention that our attention is the necessary first step to this growth. Unless we’re being attacked by a bear, rarely do problematic situations go away by ignoring them. ‘Playing dead’ when our lives become unmanageable is a learned, avoidant and situational strategy that doesn’t necessarily serve our emotional maturation. Sometimes, we have to be the rugged outdoorsman that decides to wrestle the bear.
Speaking of wrestling, I’d like to tackle the contemporary cultural adage of needing to be healed to heal others. I believe this line of thinking can keep us caught in a cycle of guilt and shame. It’s just another version of perfectionism – that somehow we’re only ready when we’ve reached an elusive state of wholeness. We do need to be careful not to go around putting our pain on the people we’re trying to help but acknowledging our own pain and our capacity to be with it and with others that are hurting is a necessary component of the healing potential of empathy. We can’t perfectly know each other’s experience of pain but we can approximate it based on our own and this is often enough to walk someone at least part of the way home.
Visual: Ravi Zupa