The influence of Pisces is all-encompassing right now. People with a lot of water in their charts are responding to it especially strongly, but every one of us is submerged in it.
We’re feeling it on the physical level. Our bodies are mostly water, the element of universality; if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s H2O. We’re also feeling it on the spiritual level. Pisces is the sign that reminds us that we’re all floating around in the same cosmic soup.
The month of March features the Sun in Pisces until the 19th, and Mercury in Pisces at the beginning of the month, then retrograding back into Pisces on the 24th. These quickly moving transits are bringing out the vibration of Neptune and Chiron, whose tenures in Pisces are coloring the mass mood like violet watercolor in a seascape.
In my lecture The Surrounding Sea I go into detail about Neptune’s sojourn in the sign of the fishes (2012-2026), a 14-year riff during which we are being continuously reminded that everything in Creation is interconnected. This emotional, mystical teaching provides a background to the rowdier Uranus-Pluto square. Together they are making the 2012 era complex and powerful.
Chiron is now pulling out of orb of its long-running conjunction with Neptune, but will remain in Pisces until 2018. Since its ingress two years ago, Chiron has been raising the world’s consciousness about the wounding we inflict upon the Earth’s oceans: it was on the very day of Chiron’s Pisces ingress that BP’s rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, in April 2010.
We are also having our consciousness raised about the wounding sustained by our unconscious mind, that invisible inner sea. What will we do about the wounds we find there? How will we handle the shared pain that floats around in the collective ethers?
Looking to our culture for answers won’t get us very far. A dysfunctional society is a poor role model. Our national philosophy of mechanistic materialism reduces the concept of “reality” to the physical world, giving the emotional world short shrift. We are discouraged from admitting our complex feelings. The group mind defaults instead to mass denial, the shadow side of Pisces.
Exploiting the situation is the Denial Industry, booming at the moment, as we can expect it to boom during the years ahead: muzak in the superstore trying to numb our critical thinking, and a blue-chip pharmaceuticals industry keeping millions in continuous low-level depression.
But for four years now, the duet between Neptune and Chiron has occasioned a healthy dialogue about the self-medications with which so many people stuff their pain. From its humble beginnings in the AA model, the consciousness around addiction is growing more and more sophisticated.
Overeating has been getting a lot of press lately (in the First World, that is, which is still affluent enough to afford such a problem). And there has been a breakthrough in the discussion of chronic depression — an epidemic that Big Pharma may sometimes ameliorate but cannot cure.1
Moreover, with the Great Recession as a backdrop, social theorists have been emboldened to propose that consumerism itself can be an addiction. Recreational retail is no longer an easy fix for most people, and the psychological meanings attached to shopping are being reconsidered. Wags have joked about “retail therapy” for years, but the economic climate has recently been opening up people’s thinking about the dark side of capitalism.
In the collective psyche, chronic debt is now understood to be a social wound. The most striking example of this was the real estate bubble and bust, expressed so aptly by the 2009 Super Conjunction , with Chiron, Neptune and Jupiter (broad public awareness), solidifying the painful (Chiron) truth that people’s equity in their homes had been an illusion (Neptune). (The term “underwater” to mean irrecoverably indebted struck astrologers as a cosmic pun: Neptune governs water and drowning.)
Although Neptune and Chiron are pulling away from exact conjunction, the influence of their merged meaning remains strong through 2012. What are they suggesting we do with our pain?
Certainly it is unhealthy to focus on pain, either our own personal pain or the greater world’s. The question we need to ask is whether we are not looking at pain out of avoidance. Many of us have been trained to suffer in silence, soldiering on through heartache as if nothing were wrong. Keep it together, we are told when distressed; Don’t cry, we were told when we are children.
But experience has shown us that this cumulative suppression leads to a build-up of grief, which, after a while, gushes out in a geyser of emotional breakdown. It is only then that we notice how much pain we’d been in, and start to wonder whether we’d have suffered less had we admitted our pain to ourselves from the first. Tamping down pain only postpones its release and resolution.
The Chironic approach is, in a way, counter-intuitive: it involves leaning into pain rather than away from it. This does not mean indulging in a masochistic preference for pain. It means admitting to pain, as a prerequisite for healing. Chiron invites us to concede our wounds and then work with them, as an ally.
The Chironic principle of healing is a radical departure from the conventional approach to woundedness, but it is essentially very simple:
It is to make pain more, not less, conscious.
Mourning as Inspiration
After the Gulf disaster two years ago, environmental consciousness in the USA spiked dramatically. Many observers who had spent years stewing in passive distress about the outrages of corporate polluters threw themselves into the public discussion and became engaged citizens for the first time in their lives.
The initial reaction of many people I know was a revulsion and grief so strong that it made them feel helpless. Yet when perspective was retained — through discussion with like-minded observers, through prayer, through astrology — it became possible to glimpse an evolutionary purpose behind the holocaust. With a bit of distance from our feelings, we could start to see that humanity was being led through a set of understandings that had existed, up until then, only on the fringes of cultural understanding. The catharsis of witnessing a wrenching destruction forced many people awake.
Many Americans reacted with outrage against the oil companies who committed the crime and at the government agencies that enabled it. There were outpourings of lamentation in magazines and blogs, some very beautiful, mourning the oil-soaked birds, the poisoned flora and fauna, the befouled sea.
Some felt the draw to political activity; others were moved to private creative exertions. It didn’t matter what form the creativity took. Those who dove into the energy of the transit found that the act of opening up to a reservoir of shared emotion set something magical in motion.
Under these skies, individuals brave enough to face their pain will be led, by Chironic Law, to their organic next step. We needn’t worry about what this next step will be; it’s folly to second-guess Pisces. But we can be sure that whatever we find under the surface of the inner sea will make us more authentic and more alive.
1 Chironic law suggests that there is a difference between short-term remedial effects and true healing. A recent study reports that 70% of the antidepressants on the market helped no more than placebos.