Urania's Well: Astrology for Changing Times
A Moral Compass
We have another lunar eclipse coming up this weekend — late Friday or early Saturday, depending on your time zone. You can see the chart cast for Washington, DC, here. The eclipse falls in the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius, and gives us an opportunity to develop our skills at riding the roller-coaster of the Pluto-Uranus square.
An arrow is the symbol for the sign of Sagittarius, and it always makes me think of the pointer of a compass; appropriately enough, because determining which direction to take is something Sagittarius does well. Acquiring, organizing and classifying the information that life presents us with is Gemini’s passion; Sagittarius takes that information and gives it meaning in a larger, social context, so that we can plan for the future — decide which direction we want to go in, and set standards of conduct for getting there. The upcoming lunar eclipse highlights these two opposing signs of Gemini and Sagittarius, making this an excellent time to review the direction you have set for yourself, your expectations for your own behavior and that of others — in other words, to recalibrate your moral compass.
Does that word “moral” make you cringe a bit? It does me. It always makes me think of the “The Moral Majority” of the 70s and 80s, and of sanctimonious attitudes that involve taking — or, more often, telling others to take — the “moral high ground”. Laws and religions that purport to codify “moral behavior” are often used repressively to demonize natural and healthy human behaviors, and to control people through fear. So who needs it? Should we just ditch the whole concept of morality, and depend on instinctive self-interest to direct our actions?
Well, here’s the thing. Even if we wanted to, we can’t. The need to determine and distinguish “right” from “wrong” behavior is built into the human race, and the struggle to modify our behavior to conform to our ideas and our ideals is mythic and inescapable. We structure the world and adapt our behavior according to a personal philosophy of life that is based in childhood experiences, but is continually forming and re-forming. Unfortunately, we tend to burden ourselves with a whole lot of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”, “dos” and “do nots” without looking at them closely, especially when we are young. We internalize these directives until our behavior instinctively reflects them, and then we layer other, often conflicting, beliefs, concepts, laws and regulations on top of the ones that were wrapped around us as we were growing up. Inevitably, many of these ideas clash with each other, and unless we look closely at what is driving our behaviors and reactions, our lives -- both inner and outer -- begin to reflect the chaos of a compass that can’t find North because it is surrounded by magnets.
Here’s an example. Let’s say someone was born into a real “meat-and-potatoes” family, and was taught “Meat is good for you, meat is necessary for health”. As a teenager, she decides she won’t eat any animals because she doesn’t want anything to die for her, but does not do much research on vegetarianism, just stops eating meat. By the time she is in her 20s her health is suffering, and she craves meat. She may give into those cravings, decide her parents were right, and go back to eating the kind of food she was raised with. But this leaves her with an internal conflict based on her desire not to have any animal die to feed her. Her life, and her health, will reflect this internal disconnect. Alternatively, she could dig deeper, researching vegetarian nutrition and ethics, and theories of sentience, consciousness and life. In the process, she may uncover a fear of confronting her parents about not only nutrition, but anything else, and realize that is an unhealthy behavior she needs to change. She may clarify her ideas about what is sentient and what isn’t, and the morality of life and death.
All of this deeper digging into both the facts and the ethics of vegetarianism is a lot of work. But it allows her to develop a philosophy that works for her, that brings her both health and peace of mind, because it is clear to her what she believes, what works best for her mind, body and spirit. The work helps her develop a more coherent personal energy field, which improves her health, regardless of her diet, and strengthens her magic.
Our thoughts and beliefs — whether they are conscious ones or deeply repressed — are always reflected in our personal energy field. Repressed, incoherent, or conflicting thoughts and beliefs affect our energy fields in the same way magnets affect a compass — make the needle wander first this way, then that. Intention is a foundation stone of magic, and intention is clarified and strengthened by a mind that is clear of conflicting beliefs. Clearing a conflict can happen by choosing one of the conflicting beliefs and rejecting the others, or it can be cleared by creating a larger frame for the conflict — one that encompasses all sides of the clash in a synthesis of wider awareness, and perhaps embraces paradox as a doorway to wisdom.
All this thinking and digging into one’s psyche requires that we be able to process and organize information, be aware of our own thoughts, and sort out and order what is meaningful to us. This is the synergy of the Gemini-Sagittarius polarity, and the upcoming eclipse in these signs invites us to both order our thinking and expand our awareness.
The primary challenge of this eclipse can be found in the squares from both the Sun and Moon to Neptune, strong in its own sign of Pisces. This forms a Mutable T-Square in the chart, and the mutable signs are about information — Gemini gathers it, Virgo puts it to use, Sagittarius codifies it, and Pisces experiences and distributes it. Pisces rules fantasy and deception, but also deep spirituality, expanded consciousness, and unconditional love. If any part of your spiritual practice includes communicating with or walking in realms of Spirit, you’ll want to pay close attention to the lessons that are presented to you by this eclipse (what houses does it fall in, what planets are aspected in your chart?).
As those of us who communicate with the non-physical progress on our path, we learn that the work requires a strong sense of Self and a steady mind to keep us fully-grounded. Since the reality we perceive is often very different from the reality of the majority, we need to be very certain of our own perceptions and our ability to function in the physical realm. Pluto in Capricorn helps us to dig deep while staying grounded. Uranus in Aries gives us the courage to change. This eclipse offers us opportunity to organize and communicate our thoughts about our experiences of Spirit and magick, to both establish and expand boundaries within our personal practices. It offers opportunity to distinguish deception and self-delusion from truth. Not everyone will handle it this way, though. We’ll see plenty of deception exposed on a wider public stage, information twisted to serve delusions, and verbal puffery spouted to clothe egregious rationalizations of morally-questionable behavior.
Another aspect of this eclipse is the propensity of Gemini and Sagittarius to be both fun-loving and funny. The troubles of the world can be soul-wrenchingly tragic, and laughter inappropriate in the face of them. But our ability to laugh and have fun is what makes life worth living. Experiencing joy, fun and laughter helps us shape a world in which those characteristics are welcomed and nurtured. When the tragedies seem overwhelming, consciously stepping into a larger frame, and being willing and able to hold paradox, gives an entirely new perspective on difficulties, and even tragedies. This is a lesson of Pisces. A soul-wrenching pain does not disappear, but it can dissolve into Love, which often expresses itself in laughter and fun, and always in joy. As we de-magnetize our fears and clear away our delusions, we will find that the arrow of our inner compass points us towards Love.
With that in mind, I leave you with a verse from a poem by Wendell Berry, in his book “Sabbaths”:
Though the spring is late and cold,
though uproar of greed
and malice shudders in the sky,
pond, stream and treetop raise
their ancient song;
the robin molds her mud nest
with her breast; the air
is bright with breath
of bloom, wise loveliness that asks
nothing of the season but to be.
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