The late, great horoscope writer Patric Walker once wrote, “Scratch a Pisces and you’ll find a Virgo under their skin.” Though this was a cute one-liner that I read in The New York Post, Patric was alluding to a real astrological principle: the ‘opposite’ signs contain one another. In a sense, they’re not even really opposite; they are aspects of the same thing, and in this way a polarity works as one entity.
When signs on both sides of the polarity have planets or notable events in them, this is especially noticeable — and that’s what’s happening these days with Virgo and Pisces.
Mars is currently in Virgo, making an extremely rare eight-month visit that includes a 12-week retrograde. (The retrograde extends between January 23 and April 13.) Chiron is currently in Pisces, where it will be into 2019, and Neptune is due to arrive on February 3, and will remain there until 2025. Such events qualify as the ‘full activation’ of the Virgo-Pisces axis — what I will call the axis of practical imagination. Virgo expresses the technical side of nearly anything, based on its tendency toward integrated or applied knowledge; Pisces expresses the imaginative side of the psyche, which can often inspire the more practical modes of expression.
Think of the circuit board and all the ingenuity required to create it as an expression of Virgo. Think of the concept ‘Macintosh’ as an expression of Pisces. To get anything done, particularly anything creative, it’s necessary to have both ends of the polarity working. We’re definitely getting both right now, and we will be for a while.
Let’s start with a careful look at the Virgo side and come back to Pisces. Mars in Virgo is the mind on fire. This placement can represent a drive for integrity, impeccability or even perfection. Healing and self-improvement can become obsessions. There is the drive to fix things. If Mars in this sign turns on itself, the result can be a painful and even tortured neurosis. Casting Mars retrograde in Virgo in the best light, I see an inquiry of some kind, a questioning of conventional values, and an intellectual quest that continually questions itself.
For retrograde hunters, the last time Mars was retrograde in Virgo was in 1997, but part of that cycle happened in Libra, so we did not get the full effect. Mars did something similar in 1950, splitting a retrograde between Virgo and Libra. Mars spent a little piece of its 1995 retrograde in Virgo as well.
The last all-Virgo Mars retrograde was the famous one that took place in early 1965, famous in my mind, anyway, because Mars passed through the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. Doing so, it stirred up a lot of collective energy, helping spark what we think of as the 1960s. That conjunction, which happens less than once per century, combined the revolutionary power of Uranus with the evolutionary power of Pluto and set many things in motion.
In January, Lyndon Johnson made his “Great Society” speech. Two months later, he sent the first combat troops to Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement was on fire in Alabama, where James J. Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister was beaten to death. In April, the first anti-Vietnam War march, organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), drew 25,000 people, which was just the first of many impressive antiwar protests that year.
In May 40 men burned their draft cards at the University of California at Berkeley, and marched a coffin to the local Draft Board. Good thing, too. By July, Johnson nearly doubled both the ground troop count in Vietnam and the number of men drafted. (He also signed the Social Security Act of 1965, which provided for Medicaid and Medicare).
Births from this specific era of 1965 include Trent Reznor, Robert Downey, Jr., Eric Cantor and Sarah Jessica Parker. A piece of timeless artwork that manifested in this moment was the recording A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.
We are now having another all-Virgo Mars retrograde. What is interesting is that we are once again in a potent Uranus-Pluto phase — the square. This is the first Uranus-Pluto quadrature (90-degree type) aspect since the ’60s, and it’s pretty easy to feel the resonance between our era and that one. This retrograde will awaken Uranus and Pluto in the natal charts of many people born in the ’60s. It’s fair to say that for a while, the world will feel a little more like home to ’60s babies — though this isn’t just about Virgo.
This particular Mars retrograde also arrives with a Pisces awakening. At the moment, Venus and Chiron are in Pisces. Neptune is about to arrive, which will shift the story of the world, and allow the realm of imagination to be more tangible and accessible. When the question is one of method, we find a counterpart in purpose in its counterpart energy, Pisces. When it’s one of proof (in Virgo) we have a matter of faith (in Pisces).
What our era has in common with the mid-’60s (indeed, nearly the whole decade) is once again the presence of Chiron in Pisces — something that blended the focusing power of Virgo with the softer light of Pisces. I think of Chiron in Pisces as being the side of the ’60s that was about love, peace and beauty. This was a spirit represented, among other manifestations, by The Beatles, who provided a soundtrack and embodied a peace-loving, creative ethos available beneath all the turmoil of the era.
We’re now entering a time of history that will make the ’60s seem like a day at the shore. The Uranus-Pluto square describes an extended phase of awakenings, creative expression and surges forward in many necessary aspects of life. Yet this radically progressive astrology is taking shape in a world where the human spirit has been all but legislated out of existence or subsumed in advertising. Still, we have the strength to wage ideological battles and attempt to prove our points either intellectually or with intellectual bullying.
Beneath the hashing out of supposed right and wrong, of evidence and proof, there is a softer reality. Amidst the chaos, there is a calm voice speaking and asking reasonable questions.
Check out Eric’s new blog at the Reality Check website.