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Dancing in the Dark


Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:12 pm

The astrology we’ve experienced this year has picked up the world and spun it on its finger, leaving most of us feeling a bit dizzy. The biggest news events—the earthquake in Haiti at the beginning of the year, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the midterm elections, and the sluggish (some would say nonexistent) economic recovery all fit the same basic astrological picture of issues that are larger than life.

It’s been astrology on the largest possible scale, involving numerous outer-planet alignments and focused on the Aries Point—the first degree of the zodiac, which has a curious magnifying effect I’ve described in many recent editions. The feeling is confrontational. It’s the sense of everything about the world being at the edge of an abyss, and by default, we’re there too. I think that most of us cope by keeping our heads out of big-world stuff and focusing on our personal lives to the best extent we can. Who knows, maybe it’s true—if you feel okay, then everything with the world is going to be fine.

The astrology of midautumn has a different emotional tone than anything we’ve experienced for a while, because it involves Venus retrograde. Venus is a planet associated with our feelings, our values, relationships, and sexuality. It’s an inner planet, closer to the Sun than is the Earth. Retrograde motion is an illusion created when a planet is close to our own. Venus is about to pass between the Sun and the Earth, creating this effect. Venus is retrograde least of all the planets, just eight percent of the time—six weeks out of every eighteen months. Compare that to Mercury, which is retrograde for three weeks three or four times a year, or to Pluto, retrograde five out of twelve months.

Venus is now in Scorpio, and the retrograde begins in that sign on October 8, one day after a stunning Libra New Moon. I’ll come back to that New Moon in a moment—it has a message for us connected to Venus retrograde.

In traditional astrology, Venus is the ruler of two signs, Taurus and Libra. When a planet is placed in a sign opposite the sign it rules, that’s a condition called detriment. It’s a harsh word, I know; many of us have natal planets that are in their detriment (Mercury is one of mine) and we may wonder what to do with them. Old rules of astrology need to be translated carefully into our modern context, but there is always a good translation, and by good, I mean the ancient scholars who gave us our astrology wanted us to notice something that was relevant now, even if the rule we’re applying is 2,000 years old. In astrology, “good” means useful.

Venus in Taurus (one of her rulership signs) is confident in what she believes. The feeling of Venus in Taurus is rooted like a tree. Put Venus in Scorpio and she can feel a little lost—or sold out. Scorpio is a sign of relationships, representing a kind of boundaryless merger with another person. Venus wants to be fully self-possessed and self-defined; in Scorpio, she is totally subservient to the desires of another, or a situation in which she loses her self-definition. Once there, she might resort to manipulation as a way of getting back a piece of her lost power.

In many ways that sums up our lives right now, and the life of our society. Whether we’re talking about consumer debt, the Ponzi scheme that runs the nation known as Wall Street, or a political system that can produce the miracle of a 41-year-old virgin (okay, “secondary virgin”) Republican senatorial candidate who is actually taken seriously by a swath of the American public, we’re in pretty deep.

Venus in Taurus is about nourishment. If we put Venus into detriment, you get an effect like “that looks like food, but it really isn’t.” Indeed, most people don’t eat food. I keep reading that 40 percent of the caloric value of the American diet comes from high fructose corn syrup (which is currently getting a linguistic detoxification as “corn sugar”). Corn syrup makes a lot of people sick—for one thing it turns right into arterial plaque, and it’s toxic in about 50 other ways. (It’s better for you than Nutrasweet, which is neurotoxic and has a brain cancer issue that delayed the product’s release for years—and look how many people drink that.) The American food supply is rife with trans-fats, gluten, genetically modified organisms, and nearly everything coming out of a factory. We in the Hudson Valley are fortunate—we have farmers markets everywhere; you can join winter and summer farm shares, and it’s possible to eat local food (if you can afford it, and if you care).

Then, one dollar out of every seven spent in the United States is spent on “health care” and yet tens of millions of people have no coverage, and many of them cannot afford to go to the doctor. The pharmaceuticals, the insurers, the hospitals, and the governments are all locked into a kind of daisy chain that circulates this 15 percent the gross domestic product. I have a friend who, in her late twenties, got Hodgkin’s disease. She had good health insurance, and spent the whole two years on chemo fighting with her insurance company, which wanted to dump her. She survived—and is still $100,000 in debt. The only place this could not be considered a scandal is a society with no values.

To me, the weird part is that you can (with the help of billionaire financial backers) build a political movement based on the notion that you should be able to go to the doctor but your neighbor should not. This is supposedly fiscal conservatism, wherein poor people side with the ultrarich, not understanding they’re being played. In a similar situation, consider how Wall Street profited on playing games with mortgage-backed securities, leaving the lucky people with upside-down mortgages and the unlucky ones foreclosed.

Let’s get even more personal. Venus in Scorpio is one of those “all about sex” kinds of placements. Even the words have the aura of a nightclub strip tease, or a dark street in one of Amsterdam’s Feu Rouge districts. The times we’re in sexually are every bit as strange as our economics. It turns out that former Republican chairman Ken Mehlman, who organized many anti-gay marriage referenda, is gay. We’re supposed to believe that Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Bag Republican candidate for Senate from Delaware, is a remade virgin who does not experience orgasm because it would stir up too much lust in her heart. Famously, she came out against masturbation in the 1990s, saying it was not an adequate way to help kids refrain from risky sexual behavior because it’s a form of adultery. We need to be asking why people repeatedly fall for this kind of denial.
But of all the sexual weirdness I’ve found, purity balls win the prize.  What’s that, you haven’t heard of purity balls? These are parties where fathers and teenage and preteen daughters attend. The daughters vow chastity till they’re married, and the fathers vow to protect their daughter’s honor, and also not to cheat on their wives. The girls are dressed in white bridal outfits and the fathers in suits or tuxedos. They give the girls a ring; there’s lots of prayer and sometimes a big cross is in the middle of the room. It has the flavor of a neo-Pagan ritual combined with a burlesque act mixed with a 1950s prom crossed with a wedding blended with a Klan rally. (If you search my name and the phrase “purity ball” in Google you’ll get a vivid picture of such an event.) Once again, we attempt to “solve” the “problem” of sex with denial. As someone on the Planet Waves blog commented the other day, “I would like the idea a lot better if the fathers pledged not to have sex with their daughters.”)

So, in the midst of all this vertigo, what happens when Venus in Scorpio turns retrograde? Well, we’ll get to see the shadow beneath the denial. I would reckon that plenty more is going to come out in the public realm; there is more unmasking to come. However, this is a transit with the deepest individual expression. We will be pulled into that underwater world of Scorpio and made to confront all the ways our purity trips are really denial trips. Venus retrograde in Scorpio will give a momentary glimpse, indeed, a brief tour, of what it is that we’re denying.

The healing potential here is rich. Venus retrograde will make it easy to revisit aspects of the past we’ve hidden from view, acknowledge the matter and experience the feelings. From there, it will be a lot easier to move on—far easier than if we have no idea what’s lurking under the surface. People we need to speak to, hear from, apologize to, or share love with can actually come back into our lives under Venus retrograde. It’s what you might call an opportunity to resolve karma. Since it often arrives with interesting sexual opportunities, it’s also a chance to have fun and/or make some new karma as well.

Within standing relationships, Venus retrograde is a chance to bring up subject matter that might otherwise be difficult to speak about, or that is so buried it’s usually inaccessible. People in nearly all couples have secrets they’ve never shared with one another, and these secrets can place a burden on intimacy and block a lot of happiness. Many of them are sexual secrets. I suggest that you declare amnesty with your partner and get that stuff out on the table, where you can address it and heal it while the climate is viable for such a project.

Scorpio is one of the most important signs of marriage and other forms of commitment, and Venus is keen on exploring the inner depths of those bonds. So with Venus retrograde here, there’s a theme of understanding the interior nature of commitment—of the actual elements that make up a commitment, rather than the story we tell ourselves. There are many, ranging from desire, to obligation, to expectation, to need, to financial dependency, to sexual dependency. Venus retrograde will help you sort the material where you can understand what constitute the actual points of bonding rather than the stuff that seems like connection but really is not.
Shared finances also come into focus here, by the way; they are also under the realm of both Scorpio and Venus. If you need to work out issues where joint money matters are concerned, now is the time to go there.

On all these projects, I suggest you get an early start. The starting point just a day after the Libra New Moon of October 7. This is an event that will help us peer into that corner of the mind where we try to work out the issue of what makes us feel safe. It’s fair to say, we don’t get to feel safe very often on the planet, whether we’re talking about our homes, our relationships or the aspects of our psyches were we mediate the issue. The Libra New Moon will help us start this discussion with goal in mind, on an inward level. If we begin with the awareness of our needs and stick to that as a value that guides us, we can use this Venus retrograde to take us to a deeper place emotionally, one where we can resolve some of our inner contradictions and make room to have our authentic desires fulfilled.

None of this will happen by itself, though, but let’s say that the psychic winds and currents are all going the right direction to help us get to that inner shore.

  • Eric Francis Coppolino

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