Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Not the End of the World As We Know It (And I Don't Feel Fine)*

*Apologies to R.E.M. for such cynical paraphrasing of one of the finest anthems created by the Pluto-in-Virgo generation.

Were you relieved or disappointed or perhaps a mixture of both emotions when you woke up this morning to discover that the world was still spinning on its axis, that life was still going on?

Bar none, the most annoying question I've had to contend with as an astrologer this year is the end-of-the-world scenario due to occur on December 21, 2012, predicted by those mystical Mayans all those years ago. Never mind that the Mayans themselves have long since put the kibosh on this prediction, which was as out of context as one could get, a literal fragment.

(Next year, winner of Most Annoying Astrology-Related Question will most likely revert back to a tie between "Oh, you seem so smart, how could you believe in astrology?" and "Ha, what exactly did you just say about your anus, ha-ha?")

Back to the question I posed. I can't pretend to speak for everyone; I wouldn't want to, and everyone is not the same anyway. But as someone so strong in the water element, I do pick up on other people's moods, and what I have gotten from so many people this year, both in person and from news articles, is a desire for apocalypse. As if the only action that will stop the madness symbolized and manifested by the Uranus-Pluto square I keep going on about is spontaneous global combustion. Fire? Ice? Bombs? Death by Chocolate? (Sign me up for that last one.)

Something I find truly interesting and disturbing is not that so many people have major thanatos (death wish) during these topsy-turvy times, but that apocalypse literally means "uncovering," as in a lifting of the veil. Disclosure. Knowledge.

Perhaps many of us want both: to be in the know and to die. Heightened consciousness can indeed bring bucketfuls of pain. Ignorance may not always bring bliss, but a willful unwillingness to follow current events may also keep you from feeling like there is just no point in going on...unless, of course, your personal circumstances are such that you want to die anyway.

The last time the mood was this apocalyptic was during the late 1960s, an era triggered by Uranus-Pluto conjunction -- a handful of years when I was a concept, a tie-dyed-in-the-wool hippie, or my uncle (who died in January 1970, six months before I was born). Peaceful flower power and civil disobedience waned as violence and black-and-white thinking became more commonplace and accepted; you were either on one side of the fence or another; no shades of gray were tolerated. Change would have to occur, as Malcom X warned before he himself was gunned down, "by any means necessary." Time horizons shrank as events sped up and seemingly out of control. As Jim Morrison of the Doors sang on their very first album, "The future's uncertain and the end is always near."

On the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of Capricorn, the midst of the holiday season, and most assuredly not the end of the world, my only cosmic prescription is to find something to ease any pain you might be feeling that does not hurt you or anyone else. Laughter is a safe bet; find something to tickle your funny bone. If you find that solitude is more comforting than company right now, by all means shut the door and indulge in some downtime. But remember that Capricorn, for all its standoffish, CEO airs, is still a sensual, hands-on earth sign, and still needs to be held close sometimes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Lunatic Is in the Hall: Another Manifestation of the Uranus-Pluto Square

Friday, December 14, 2012, 9:40 a.m., Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, in the state that rhymes with "etiquette."

Unless you happened to be in a coma yesterday, or in a media blackout zone, you know the grisly, tragic, senseless details of what happened -- if not why.

Looking at the chart of the kindergarten massacre is giving me very little solace, for a number of reasons. Sometimes one just cannot bring order out of chaos -- sometimes it does not do a damned bit of good. Millions of people went about their mornings with three Capricorn planets -- Pluto, the Moon, and Mars -- transiting the local real-time 12th House, and survived.

However, with 29 degrees of Capricorn is on the Ascendant, the chart's ruler is Saturn in Scorpio in the 9th House, forming a very close, approaching sextile its despositor Pluto in the 12th. I do think that if there ever was the perfect time to discuss gun control laws, that time is now -- as well the fact that increasing numbers of mentally ill individuals (mostly young men, if we can stand to be politically incorrect enough to engage in such profiling) have been allowed to slip through the cracks of our society because mental health in this nation has taken a backseat to just about everything. And it's not just the NRA and the government that must be held accountable. All of us have blood on our hands, whether or not we own guns. It's the "I have mine, screw the rest of you" isolationist attitude that is rewarded as American individualism. It's the glamorization and normalization of violence. Hell, I feel guilty for having become addicted to The Sopranos earlier this year.

Prayers are not enough. Tears are not enough. The hubristic philosophy of America being so exceptional, so strong, and so unified in times of crisis is not enough. This year alone in the United States, there have been far too many incidents of mass violence in places that, like schools, are not recognized as war zones: at the movies, in a shopping mall.

I am not so naive as to believe that if only the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution were amended to make it illegal to buy Glocks, AK-47s, and semi-automatics with mile-long magazines (which our Founding Fathers were unfamiliar with because they had not yet been invented), these weapons would not find their way into the hands of criminals and mentally ill people. There is, after all, a black market for everything. Yet in Australia, after a 1996 massacre in Port Arthur left 35 dead, the inventory of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns was greatly reduced, gun registration was made universal, an improved licensing system was introduced, and gun storage demands improved. This has resulted in a country where innocent people just going about their lives are far less likely to be shot to death. I absolutely believe in self-defense, but the idea of arming kindergarten teachers with guns to protect themselves and their students is just not the answer. Nor do I think that throwing mentally ill people into jail or ignoring them instead of getting them real help solves anything.

Gun control (and neutering the political influence of the previously relatively sane NRA) is far from the only solution. We are in the midst of a Uranus-Pluto square that will last until March 17, 2015. Similar to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-1960s, and the last Uranus-Pluto square of early 1930s, explosive violence is a crucial issue. How effectively and compassionately a nation takes care of its own people of all ages, all income brackets, all degrees of wellness both physical and mental, is an indicator of how healthy that nation happens to be. Under the stress of a prolonged Uranus-Pluto square, a time of extreme economic uncertainty, societal upheaval, and erratic weather patterns (e.g., Hurricane Sandy), it is clear that more people than ever before are cracking up. The pressure is just too great to keep everyone sane. This is not an excuse; this is a warning that is already coming to pass.

I do not think this is the America its Founding Fathers had in mind. They would indeed be mystified that most of us mourn for a few hours or days at the latest killing rampage, and then go on without pressing for real change. And I am not preaching from some high horse. My own life is in such disarray that my main focus is to fix it, and myself -- not the nation's considerable ills.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Astrological Grab Bag

Moon's in the last degree of Virgo. Feeling jittery and scattered, yet in the mood to astrologize even though my thoughts are all over the place.

My progressed Moon is exactly midway through Gemini, and traveling through my 9th House. In that time (about 15 months), I have become simultaneously more interested in (and outraged by) politics and the failure of democracy in the United States (which seems to be more a reflection of 9th House concerns than Gemini) and...television.

For most of my teenage and adult years, I did not watch TV, period, with the exception of one or two guilty pleasures (Melrose Place; the local time-to-panic news hour). I preferred watching movies, MTV when they still showed music videos, and revolting public-access cable shows that by now have rightfully been flushed down the toilet of history. When I had an office job as an (il)legal secretary, I was able to contribute abolutely nothing to the buzz over Sex and the City. I was also unable to debate the true meaning of the series finale of The Sopranos. But since my Moon progressed into Gemini, I have probably watched more TV shows than I have in my first 41 years.

I only watch one of these shows, Mad Men (which I glommed on to from the very first season, with my progressed Moon in Aries), in real time. One of these shows is still on (like my newest addiction, 30 Rock). At least one was cancelled shortly after I got into it (Bored to Death). Some are vintage (The Fugitive, The Prisoner, The Twilight Zone). Some hail from the United Kingdom (Extras, Father Ted). It is tempting to credit my Roku box with my new interest in TV shows, but Roku has only been in my life for a couple of months. No, much of the credit goes to a few people in my life whose taste I mostly respect...and, I suppose, my own curiosity and desire to keep an open mind (Gemini). In a way, I feel retroactively embarrassed not to have watched some of these shows on television when they were new, but then again, even when I had cable, I lacked HBO (hello, Sopranos!). In another way, I am currently embarrassed that what soothes me even more than a good book (I am finally reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) is watching three back-to-back episodes of 30 Rock.

Television may or may not still be the opiate of the masses; after all, texting, sexting, Facebook, Twitter, and Wii are also vying for our glazed eyes and sore fingers. But in these uncertain, grim times, maybe it does make more sense to veg out with a good TV show...and there are more of them out there than I had previously imagined possible.

Lest this post turn out more focused than I'd originally intended, I am truly outraged that all this talk of the "fiscal cliff" is taking the focus away (once again) from the millions of people in the United States who are unemployed or underemployed. Back when I was a relative youngin and had my first astrology article, "The Astrology of Generation X," published in the December 1999 issue of Dell Horoscope, I noted that "Pluto in Virgo natives may suffer from lousy job karma." Keep in mind this article was written during the dot-com boom, so many people disagreed with me. However, the dot-com boom went bust, and turned out to be a big, fake-out blip on the radar.

Meaning no disrespect to the trillions of out-of-work baby boomers born in the 1950s who stand a snowball's chance in Hades of ever regaining gainful employment before collecting social security, I believe that my Pluto-in-Virgo generation was hit right out of the gates by the nation's 20-year trend of downsizing, offshoring, and an increasing unwillingness on the part of employers to train bright, educated individuals in the latest software technology that are destined to become obsolete in a year or two anyway. Things are only slightly better for the Pluto-in-Libra group because their relative youth (28 to 41 years old as of December 31, 2012) gives them a leg up in the hiring process, which may or may not result in their earning a living wage. And let us not forget those crushing student loans incurred by recent Pluto-in-Scorpio college graduates. But hey, it serves those impractical dreamers right for not majoring in Something Practical! We Need More Engineers! We Need More Entrepreneurs! The liberal arts really shouldn't exist at all -- although it's a nifty dodge for trust-fund brats and slackers who do not wish to enter the Family Business because they'd rather sleep late or work for a nonprofit or an art gallery or some such nonsense.

On a related note, I propose that we have a ceremonial burning of the phrase "the new normal." It lets far too many people and philosophies off the hook, and is even more objectionable than "it is what it is."

Although I am highly educated and only in my early 40s, my job applications are routinely ignored. But by now, I should be used to the constant stress of freelancing. With Aquarius on my 6th-House cusp and its ruler, Uranus, in my 1st House, perhaps it was inevitable that I wind up working for myself. And with Gemini on my MC, having more than one career at once is in the stars. I have to juggle all my aspirations, dammit! Yet when all is said and done, I am a Cancer Sun, and Cancer can get pretty damned insecure even on a sunny day. And with Uranus still opposing my natal Uranus, I am beginning to crack under the strain. I try to keep focused on my current creative project -- my version of the brass ring, the Golden Ticket that could change my entire life for the better. But constantly having to hustle for my next gig, and not even being able to relax when I land one because it won't bring in enough money for me to do anything more than tread water, can be a real energy drain. Plus, the grim implications of Saturn in Scorpio transiting my 2nd House are scaring the shit out of me. Especially when Saturn goes over my natal Moon next October. (It gets really close in February, but retrogrades within half a degree of the conjunction).

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