Friday, January 29, 2010

Bullies, Enemies, Frenemies: Sun Opposing Mars

If you're feeling a bit bellicose today, you're right on schedule: the Sun is opposing Mars (exact 2:43 p.m. EST). Take a step back and count to ten before becoming embroiled in a confrontation that could lead to the sort of physical violence that used to sell newspapers before the Internet made it possible to receive a free, constant flow of newsworthy bloodshed.

The Sun/Mars opposition might not be as stressful if you decide not to let your ego (Sun) be steamrolled over by a bully (Mars) who knows just which buttons to press. This opposition could be considered a follow-up to the Venus/Mars opposition earlier this week, in which many hearts were broken. The ego now may want to lash out (Mars) at the one who done you wrong (poor syntax totally intended).

An opposition always indicates a challenge in a relationship (that need not be a romantic one); often the issue is one of projecting your perceptions onto another person. When Mars is involved, aggression and the desire to win are more important than maintaining or reinstating harmony. Given that we are coming up on the Full Moon in Leo (exact 1/30 at 1:18 a.m. EST), emotions are already running at a fever pitch.

I for one am going to embrace my Cancerian nature and stay out of the fray if at all possible, though I may fight for my right to party.

Oh yes, that baleful bundle called the Saturn/Pluto square is exact on Sunday (exact 5:07 p.m.) with the Moon in Virgo. You may be less inclined to laze around and more inclined to work, worry, or resolve to become a hermit.

Sorry for the joyless nature of this post, but I'm sure you can find many other astrologers who will give you a more optimistic view of these tough planetary aspects. I just can't put a smiley face on any of the ones I've mentioned here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bye, Bye Baby: Happy Birthday, Janis Joplin

I came of pop-music age with the Go-Go's and Madonna. Yet as I was perusing my parents' LP collection as a teen-something, I paused at an album depicting an oddly attired woman on the cover: huge granny glasses, feathers, bangle bracelets, flywaway hair. This was Joplin in Concert. And from the very first sound of her chiding voice--"You've been playing the wrong chord all night"--right before "Down on Me" kicked in, I was transfixed. Yet the raw emotion and obvious vulnerability of this performer (there was no doubt in my mind that she was not just a singer, but a performer of epic proportions) also frightened me, and I hadn't even realized yet that her life was in the past tense. Listening to her wail the blues was like gazing into a mirror at my own teen angst, although my "voice" was that of a scribbler of morbid, puerile poetry that graced the pages of my suburban high-school literary magazine to little recognition (except for the local newspaper that offered me the job of "high school correspondent," obviously on the unfounded faith that a budding poet would make a good journalist).

Perhaps a year or two later, an hour-long documentary called Women in Rock was released on cable TV, and I saw, not merely heard, Janis wailing "Ball and Chain" and "Summertime" onstage at the Montery Pop Festival that ushered in the all too brief Summer of Love that had died by the summer I was born. And I was retroactively hooked.

Janis Joplin's first name could not have suited her more: she was born in January, the month itself named for the two-faced Roman god Janus, which looked both backward and forward. Janis was born at the end of the sign of Capricorn, a sign noted both for its melancholy and spiritual potential, and at the very beginning of the generation that became known as "hippies," although like the beatniks of the 1950s, Janis made the pilgrimage to North Beach a few years before the Haight-Ashbury district became psychedelicized.

But what, astrologically, could account for Janis's seismic personality; her persona of "Pearl," the tough-talking, hard-drinking, blues-singing floozy; her rebellious nature; her untimely demise?

Janis Joplin was born just before the Full Moon, the phase of the moon most associated with a desire for fame. And her Moon in Cancer (whose gem is the pearl) widely conjuncted her Jupiter, which only magnified the hypersensitivity of her innermost emotions. She may have talked tough, but it was obvious that her sharp words were there to protect a very soft underbelly. Indeed, a slight snub from a stranger at a party could make her burst into tears, and she often lamented that her life on the road was a cruel joke. She claimed to want a nice man to take her out to dinner after a show, as opposed to the hangers-on of the groupie scene that had nothing to do with her real self. Yet paradoxically, the more she retreated into her "Pearl" persona, the more of a caricature she became, the more she surrounded herself by sychophants, the less chance she seemed to have of someone "real" being able to break through.

She was the firstborn of three, and as the fates would have it, was born with Aquarius on the Ascendant, making her a natural rebel, especially in a town as "proper" as Port Arthur, Texas, and a time as constricted as the U.S. in the 1950s. Had she been born slightly earlier or later in the morning, Janis might have upheld the status quo (Capricorn Rising) or merged into her local environment (Pisces Rising). But Janis was born on a metaphoric fault line, and indeed, her conservative parents would never approve of the unusual path she created for herself. Janis was born with Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius in her 12th House, opposing Pluto; how apropos, then, that one of her "complexes" involved her younger sister (Mercury), who was perceived as the "good daughter," the one who was approved of by her parents while Janis herself was "lost" to the Plutonian underworld of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Capricorns, the cynics of the zodiac, are often influenced strongly by the father; Janis's own father, who by today's standards would probably be considered an alcoholic (certainly, he spent more time drinking and tinkering around in the garage than with his family), taught his oldest daughter about "the Saturday Night swindle": the realization that it's not ever going to get any better than being out on a Saturday night, not having a particularly good time, blowing your weekly paycheck on a few drinks, only to start all over again the next day, hung over and broke.

Yet with that prominent, creative, ever-hungry 5th House Moon in Cancer, Janis was one of the very few women of the era who made it in the men's club of rock and roll. Grace Slick similarly dominated her all-male band, yet "Gracie" was also a conventionally beautiful ex-model from a rich family, whereas Janis was a much rougher diamond. Both helped pave the way for subsequent generations of women in rock, yet Janis paid a very steep price for being the archetypal goat atop the mountain: she was already addicted to alcohol by the time of her success, and her ultimate undoing, heroin, soon followed to dull the pain. Yet because Janis was such a huge success, few people, even among her closest friends, felt that she deserved any sympathy or understanding for her so-called problems. "People like their blues singers drunk and miserable," she said bluntly.

(And dead?)

Her version of "Ball and Chain" is certainly a Capricornian masterpiece, showing how duty, sorrow, and loneliness can make the heart so heavy in love. Yet I would rather celebrate her upbeat "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)": as she exhorts in her stage patter right before the song kicks in, "If you're lookin' for a nice piece of... action, and you ain't gettin' any, you know what you gotta do, baby...you gotta try harder."

Somehow, this exultation to hard work, which flew in the face of the "tune in, turn on, drop out" hippie era, seems the opposite of sea-goat cynicism.

I love you, Janis.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside: Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn

As I warned in my last post, which was posted on the last day of 2009, we are collectively entering 2010 looking backward. Mercury is still Retrograde in Capricorn, and at least on the East Coast, we have been in a deep-freeze unit. As I remarked to a friend last week: "My gloves need gloves." Yesterday, I finally cracked and dug out a pair of itchy woolen mittens. I have given up all pretense of stylishness until the mercury (as opposed to the planet Mercury) rises above 35 (on second thought, make that 40) degrees.

Although Mercury turns Direct on the New Moon and Solar Eclipse this Friday, 1/15, Mars remains Retrograde until 3/11. If only I could petition the Powers that Be and explain that no one should be expected to perform up to standard as long as the planet that is most responsible for determining one's personal drive is Retrograde in the sign that is all about ego (in the sense of "I am," not necessarily a bad thing and in fact a requirement for a healthy sense of self) and performance. If only I could pass an emergency law, effective for the rest of the winter, that is sort of an anti-stimulus plan: one that would encourage mass hibernation, with brief excursions for food (unless you prefer home delivery).

Rather than give an entire overview of 2010 in one post, I'd like to concentrate on a "biggie" aspect that we experienced back in November 2009, which will repeat at the end of January: the Saturn/Pluto square. Any lessons learned, or not, back in November will have to be repeated again at this time. I already posted details about the meaning of this square the first time around, but it's worth repeating here: any issues of resentment and rigidity will become heightened. This is a time in which skeletons (Saturn) will come out of the closet (Pluto). Various political (Saturn) and sex scandals (Pluto) are likely, all involving abuse of power. But so too is the ability to slam the brakes on a painful situation. A square between these two heavies of the solar system can indeed bring a lot of pain, but again, if you reach your personal breaking point, it may force you to say "never again," and really mean it this time. We will be getting yet a third Saturn/Pluto square this July, giving us all yet another opportunity to say "never again." (Third time's the charm, right?)

On 2/17 Jupiter ingresses into the emotional, visionary, compassionate sign of Pisces, and I hope this means that some of the friends we have found with Jupiter transiting through Aquarius will blossom into soul mates. If you find that you need to spend more time in solitary reflection and meditation in the coming months, though, you're right on schedule. Also, this Jupiter placement should benefit creative writers and artists, especially those working in the medium of film (both movies and photography).

More to come, and in the meantime, keep warm!