Mercury conjunct Mars and my fight at the gym

Mercury and Mars came together yesterday for the second time since June. I had a fight with a guy in the gym. 

I finally had reached my annoyance threshold with this guy making loud noises while he punches and runs on the treadmill. When I asked him to stop making loud noises, he jumped off his machine, ran at me, and screamed in my face, “This is not a mother__ church! This is a GYM!” We all have different expectations of gyms, perhaps. His might be one that lets him get out all of his aggression however he wants to. Mine is a safe space for me to get fit; I deliberately chose a gym with a tagline of “No lunkheads.” Our ideas were in conflict with each other and sparked a confrontation. The management decided that his behavior crossed the line and asked him to leave. Fellow gymgoers thanked me and co-signed the incident report. I was nervous and shaky all night. 

I imagine most of us don’t find confrontations fun. Confrontations basically suck. We avoid them, unless maybe we’re in our cars or online. But what happens to unexpressed anger? What happens to stifled passion? 

Mercury and Mars will meet again in the earth sign Virgo on September 3rd, on the same degree as the sun. One interpretation is the combining of our voice and action in practical, useful ways that express the essence of who we are. That’s some assignment. The closest we’ve come recently was July 2000, when the Mercury/Mars conjunction was just a degree away from the sun. In Cancer, that correlated with building a safe, healthy, and loving emotional core, home, and family. What have been the fruits of your learning and efforts in those areas for the past 19 years? How have you come to embody and express home, healing, kindness, and family? When have you had to protect or defend the vulnerable? 

Mercury in retrograde now returning to the sign of Cancer gives us a chance to reflect on those principles and readjust if we need to.  If we’re exhausted from some effort or fight, what nourishment can we reach toward? How can we mentally recuperate? This Mercury retrograde (July 7-July 31 EDT) can be challenging because we’re compelled to move ahead in sustained action while our processing and communication functions seem slower. But how could it help our actions to process information at a more deliberate pace and weigh our words more carefully? 

We can probably all benefit from reexamining our usual approach to confrontation. I might have been brave at the gym, but I also might have put myself in unnecessary danger -- a Mars pattern of mine that stresses the heck out of everyone around me. How can I have smarter confrontations? I was annoyed by that guy, but I was probably also triggered by years of unexpressed resentment over aggressive male behavior that built up over time: From manspreading to catcalling, I’d had enough.

If you’ve had a recent conflict -- inner or outer -- have you started to process the lesson?

This Mercury retrograde and the period leading up to September 3rd I’ll be mulling this over: In the joining of the sun, Mars, and Mercury, do all three planets usually have equal say or does one tend to dominate? How can they learn to cooperate? 

We’re never stuck in one expression. If you find yourself frustrated while Mercury is in retrograde, consider it a challenge you’re up for.

But maybe be a little more thoughtful and careful than I was at the gym. Come September, you’ve got an important job to do.


On making it work for us: The Leo moon opposite Mars in Aquarius

Ever since I was little, I remember hearing my mother change the words to prayers and rituals so they would be more meaningful, inclusive and inspiring. "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and "for us men and for our salvation" became "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" and "for US and for our salvation." She thought of worship as celebration. She felt called to participate fully, and she wasn't going to reduce her expression of a welcoming, loving God to gender or exclude herself from God's love.

She was always making tweaks, and she uttered them loudly. Of course, this was a little odd. It made her seem like she didn't know the real words. It meant sometimes she was out of step with the group. 

Today during Mass for the Feast of St. Francis, we remembered the saint who loved all living creatures and wrote poems to the sun and the moon.

And I found myself channeling my Mom, as I contemplated the following words:
"Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

I've struggled with this response for a while. I've wondered, is it the capital "I" that's the problem? Is it ego, selfishness or separateness that makes us unworthy? For a few years now I've tried to see beyond myself and become a little "i." But the words still always felt clumsy – absent of the love, acceptance and peace of Jesus Christ. Yes, we're human. Yes, we're flawed. But unworthy? Aren't we created in God's image?

I thought about the messages of spiritual teachers old and new, male and female. They call us to engagement, action, and attention, and help us see how we can stretch. For many of us, that means learning to stand in the light.

And so I tweaked the words. I said, "Lord, I AM worthy that you should enter under my roof, so only say the word and my soul shall be healed." 

Today the moon is in the sign of Leo, reminding us of our inborn dignity and worth, at odds with what can make us feel disconnected, challenging what can make us feel ashamed. 

I hope at some point you can feel the presence of someone who's taught you you're deserving of love. I hope you see that you're part of a beautiful whole. And I hope you can express yourself honestly, even when you're noticeably out of step.


Pluto stations direct during a Gemini moon: The truth and an open mind

blackout.jpg

Pluto stations direct today, seeming to reverse directions from backward to forward.

Pluto is named after the Roman god of the underworld and it’s associated with the underground, the deep and powerful. Where we have Pluto in our charts we bring a probing quality, or we need to. The surface is not enough.

Pluto has been transiting the sign of Capricorn since 2008, combining the symbolism of authority and the gold standard with the shadow and the ultimate truth. This is reflected in our society, as long-honored traditions and institutions that have abused their power and privilege are facing a very public reckoning. And this is reflected in some area of our personal lives, where we’re confronted with a wound, buried truth or shadow and we’re invited to reclaim what was lost or taken.

Is Pluto a planet or a dwarf planet? Is what’s happening in our lives a mountain or a molehill? Pluto brings up questions and we do or don’t answer them. But they’re there. They don’t go away.

We know that Pluto moves more slowly than any of the other planets, with a cycle of 248 years. We know it’s not visible to the naked eye. NASA calls Pluto mysterious and complex, with a heart-shaped glacier the size of Texas and Oklahoma; Pluto actually has red snow.

A heart-shaped glacier and red snow. Just think of those images for a moment. What do they conjure up for you?

There’s a blackout experiment on social media now. It’s a statement against abuse; it’s meant to reflect solidarity and help us imagine a world without women. To those who are participating, it means something, whether somber or uplifting, which some may be willing to shout and some may never feel safe enough to share.

Today I’m reminded of Jane Elliott’s “Blue-eyes-Brown-eyes” experiment, in which the 3rd-grade teacher separated her students by eye color and gave the blue-eyed children extra privileges. By the end of the day the blue-eyed children had become more arrogant and bossy and scored higher on tests than they ever did before; the brown-eyed children became more timid and isolated and their test performance suffered.

Many of us can relate to the brown-eyed children, whether because of our race, gender, or some other part of us that is outside of traditional privilege. It’s confounding. It hurts deeply. And yet it can be so tempting to accept the other role if we’re invited to, like when Elliott reversed the exercise.

I’m not likening Elliott’s experiment to anything right now. I’m not drawing any conclusions. I’m just pondering it because it popped in my head again, and so I’m trying to re-consider and learn from it. I’m seeing how my own behavior measures up.

Today’s Gemini moon reflects the healing power of images and communication. So I’m sharing this picture to validate and support the women of integrity and conviction who sent me the invitation. I didn’t create the social media blackout, so I really don’t have the authority, but I also don’t believe in exclusion. So if you don’t identify as a woman but feel moved to participate, I invite you to , also.

No one disputes the fact that Neptune is a planet, and so what it represents may have the last word: Compassion, vastness, unity, direct connection to the divine without boundaries or divisions.  But we wade through murky waters to get back there. We have personal and shared experiences of hell and of redemption. And they’re real and meaningful, even if not seen or acknowledged.

Recovery is a long and slow process. Stopping to consider Plutonian territory today — what’s mysterious or complex, the shameful or the shadow, especially as it has shown up in our past relationships — might enable us to move forward in some way today. But if we regularly plumb the depths or have recently been through acute pain and darkness, we may need to give ourselves credit; we might need a little break.

Wherever we happen to be, today's Pluto station and Gemini moon remind us to be patient and flexible with ourselves and with each other as we express what we're ready to, as we discern our right speed and direction.