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“Why be Vulnerable?”

I find it often difficult to write these days as there is so much to write about and so little time to put thoughts into words. I start a blog one week, and it is irrelevant the next. However, I recently read a piece in the New York Times that revealed a perfect and timeless solution to our current anxiety and fear as we watch the dance that Mars is making through the end of the year.

Siraad Dirshe’s article was titled “Bravely Choosing to Be Vulnerable.” (1) The author explains that the word “vulnerable” came into mainstream conversations through Brene Brown’s research, and her widely watched 2010 TED Talk. (2) Dr. Brown’s research focused on hundreds of interviews with individuals who felt a strong sense of belonging to a greater community. She concluded that all those interviewees had one thing in common — they all had made a choice to be vulnerable.

In Dirshe’s article she explores, what does being “vulnerable” mean? She cites writer Rachael Elizabeth Cargle, a public academic and lecturer who says that being “vulnerable” means allowing others to see what you are ashamed of.

There are many situations — especially these days — that may lead us to feeling vulnerable: being homeless; being unable to pay rent; the loss of a loved one, or a job; financial insecurity or experiencing unrequited love; feeling lost or afraid, or feeling a pervasive sense of loss for whatever we used to have, and no longer do (including our precious environment.) Most of these experiences illicit shame. It is this shame and not speaking about it that prevents us from being vulnerable. Although these admissions can be quite terrifying, the article concludes that it is to our benefit us to let down our walls, which are exhausting to maintain.

“Bravely,” the first word in the article’s title, caught my attention. Bravely relates to Mars. If you have a strong Mars in your natal chart, you are likely inherently brave. Mars entered Aries, where he is especially forceful and headstrong, on June 29th and will not leave Aries until January 7, 2021. Mars usually spends six weeks in a sign — this year he is spending six months!

Although Mars does a retrograde loop every two years, the retrograde has not occurred in Aries since between July 1988 and January 1989. If you have any memories of that time, you may see similarities between then and now. (I keep a journal: I burned my foot on the coals of a forgotten beach fire that August, and was laid up in bed with my foot in ice water for many days.)

Mars burns, incites and ignites. Placed in the fire sign Aries, this tendency of Mars doubles down. Mars in Aries can also indicate accidents if we are moving too quickly without a clear direction. Acting rashly can have negative consequences with Mars retrograde. Using this retrograde time (through November 13) to slow down, turn inwards and choose to bravely become vulnerable.

Looking back to Mars’s most recent retrograde in Aries: Summer and fall in 1988 brought forest fires (750,000 acres in Yellowstone burned); a severe drought across the Midwest produced heat waves that cost lives; riots in Tompkins Square Park, NYC when police enforced a curfew; a major earthquake across the Nepal/India border; two big oil rig explosions in the North Sea; a major cyclone in Bangladesh; Hurricane Gilbert in the Caribbean (the second most intense tropical cyclone in history); Pan Am Flight 103 (the Lockerbie bombing), and a major railroad accident in Paris. The U.S. Presidential election was between Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush. Dukakis was ahead when the Bush campaign created its famous Willie Horton ad focusing the voters on the fear of black violence.

The time prior to 1988 when Mars retrograde was in Aries was 1973. The Watergate Scandal was unfolding in August 1973; Mars was in Aries and turned retrograde in mid-September. (The break-in had occurred June 1972.) Forty-eight government officials, including members of the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon, were eventually convicted of wrongdoing in the attempt to obtain inside information by burglarizing the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate building.

By July 1973 it was revealed that Nixon had tapes of his meetings in the Oval Office. When Nixon was finally forced to release the tapes, it was apparent the tapes had been edited, as there were gaps in the conversation. (Vice President Agnew resigned in October 1973 over a matter unrelated to the Watergate scandal.)

On November 17, 1973 (with Mars retrograde in the same area it was in September of this year) Nixon made his famous statement, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” On August 9, 1974 Nixon resigned.

I guess the lesson here is be careful of what you say or what actions you take during a Mars retrograde period in Aries. It might just come back to bite you. Remember it is not what you say that counts in astrology but WHEN you say it….

What is a solution? Do not make Nixon’s mistake, but rather turn inward and bravely choose to be vulnerable. Face and admit what you are ashamed of; let it move out of your system. Tell someone you love them, share your feelings.

Mars rules actions — it is spending so much time going back and forth in one area of the zodiac and actions taken in the outer world will get you nowhere, fast. Plans can instead be re-worked, redrawn or withdrawn. Use the remainder of this retrograde time most wisely by turning inward. Use the time to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. Choose to be brave by becoming vulnerable.

(1) New York Times, print edition, August 16, 2020.
Why Be Vulnerable? is the title of the digital version.

(2) Dr. Brown’s 20-minute talk, The Power of Vulnerability, as been viewed over 50 million times and it one of the 25 Most Popular Ted Talks of all time.

© 2020 Kate Plumb – all rights reserved

Bio: Kate Plumb, “cycles scientist,” is a certified NCGR counseling astrologer who teaches at various locations in New York, and sees clients in her home office. She is also certified in Astro*Carto*Graphy. Website: Kate can be reached at or (631) 725-9133.

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