If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve—Emily Dickinson.
The days stretch long in the north. In the south, autumn’s honeyed light spills over sun-bleached grasses. On March 20th, the Sun slips into Aries, marking the spring or autumn Equinox. The start of the astrological new year.
Aries is associated with vibrant reds; with the purifying heat of fire; with raw vitality and with that heart-stopping, breath-holding moment when we take that terrifying leap forward. When we go above our nerve.
Aries is where we encounter our own autonomy, our ability to return to life, to find ourselves anew.
It is in Aries that we must dare to find the deeper meaning of courage and endurance as we wear our bravest smile, take the hand of our loved one whose light is dimming. As our own Aries planets are forged in the heat of the Sun, we may feel hope that comes in a heated rush; a surge of ardor that emboldens us to speak out, make a move, before it’s too late. As the Sun climbs across the equator, we may feel a sense of relief and renewal as a relationship unspools, leaving us heartsore and lighter.
Aries is a Mars-ruled sign. The raw energy of Mars is ignited by a goal; something to conquer or defend—the Romans pragmatically dedicated the month of March to war-god as they set off on their campaigns, certain of fresh supplies. We may notice Mars energy all around us this month. Survival, and procreation are embodied in the natural world as the urgent thrust of spring spills over the land in a cascade of colour and the sweetest song.
As Venus (relationships, what we hold dear to our hearts) moves into Aries on March 21st and makes her annual appointment with the Sun (March 24th), the words of author Isabel Allende may resonate as we burn for something new “we don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward…” Venus and the Sun conjoin Chiron on March 28–30th—an indication that for most of us, the road ahead may not be easy.
When the Sun enters Aries, a flash of light shines through an aperture—igniting the hero/warrior archetype, and its shadow, the destroyer. In myth and in fairy tale, the hero/warrior archetype is typically masculine. Heroes slay nine-headed dragons, rescue hapless damsels, defeat degenerate villains. Yet the destroyer lives amongst us, tattooed in the distortion of the Hero/Warrior depicted in the media, enacted in our homes, behind closed doors, or in the shadowy realm of cyberspace.
Aries’s shadow is self-centred and brutal as depicted by the cruel anonymity of trolling, the persistent violence of stalking and digital voyeurism, the misogynistic harassment and assault that is endemic in our culture. This patriarchal power-over behaviour—directed at “foreigners”, blacks, gays, women, and those people who live with disabilities, has seeped through society for eons. Barely a week after International Women’s Day, the killing of Sarah Everard sent shock waves of grim recognition through everyone who has clutched a can of mace or hurried coiled, contracted, through a subway or a park. As a primal fear and rage bled across the internet, the vigil on Clapman Common was met by acts of aggression by the Metropolitan police, reminiscent of the brutality inflicted on the Suffragettes, the police killings that ignited the Black Lives Matter movement.
The dark face of the Ram is testosterone-fueled anger, self-absorption, competitiveness, single-mindedness. Our self-directed quest to “find our voice” may deafen the voices of others; our need to be “free” may mean breaking the heart of someone who loves us.
As Mars moves through Gemini (March 4th– April 24th) our negative thoughts and beliefs may be obstacles to conquer. As Nasa’s Perseverance grinds and clanks across the arid surface of the red planet in search of past life, we may feel this same sense of grinding and clanking against obstacles that demand resilience and perseverance. When Mars moves through the element of air, words become blades, rhetoric morphs into bullets and the dark tide of anger rises, setting fire to old grudges and unexamined narratives.
As existential angst heightens our human response to threat and uncertainty, surveillance capitalism harvest our emotional bonds, sells our anger and our shame as “data.” “The goal now is to automate us,” writes Shoshana Zuboff, in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
The motif of the Saturn/Uranus square—a cycle that began in 1988 with a Saturn/Uranus conjunction in Capricorn—infuses our lives with defining moments as regulations tighten, people push back. This year, three waning squares define the zeitgeist of disruption—the first was February 17th, June 14th is the second. In tandem and working in the darkness, the ominous Pluto/Eris square dredges up all that is putrid in our societies, as we wade through what Eckhardt Tolle calls “the pain body.”
The applying square of Saturn and Uranus back in 2000 brought recession after the dot-com bubble of the late 90s detonated. Alignments of staid Saturn and unpredictable Uranus mark economic collapse, civil unrest, radicalisation—the gain or loss of human rights and liberty. Martial law has been extended in Myanmar, a savage repeat of lethal confrontations between the military and the “’88 generation” of students that led the uprising in 1988.
As new lockdown measures are imposed in many countries, Mercury muscled into Aries on April 4th. Frustration simmers. The passage of Venus (April 23rd) sensitises the destabilising Saturn/Uranus square, followed by the Sun (April 30th-May 4th) and Mars adds fuel to the flames this year and next. (July/November 2021; March/April/July/ 2022.)
For most of us, our hero’s or heroine’s quest is not a muscular or spectacularly heroic response to the challenges of life. So often, it’s the austere grip of necessity that wrenches us out of our ordinary lives and gives us no choice but to dare greatly. Financial ruin, illness, the noxious fallout from a ruined relationship may ignite within our hearts the courage we never knew we had.
Cheryl Strayed writes, “you go on by doing the best you can. You go on by being generous. You go on by being true. You go on by offering comfort to others who can’t go on. You go on by allowing the unbearable days to pass and by allowing the pleasure in other days. You go on by finding a channel for your love and another for your rage”.
For some of us, an ordinary life lived with as much consciousness and courage we can muster is heroic. Our quest is cyclical, not linear: we so often face the same obstacles and foes along the way. And even though there are times when it takes every last spark of courage to unearth something positive, anything hopeful, to hold onto, we go on. And we do the best we can.
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