Every autumn, like clockwork, life hits full tilt boogie. Schedules compress, far too much happens far too quickly all at once. And every autumn we travel. It’s a stressful scramble to pull the house together, get chicken-sitters, and take care of the business we’ll be limited from taking care of overseas, but I wouldn’t trade the hectic disruption of suspending life in one part of the world for experiencing the rest of the world. The most stressful thing is the simple idea of surrendering. One gets used to thinking life is a house of cards, convinced that it will fall apart the moment you stop micro-managing every single aspect of it. Then you wake up on a Friday morning in Amsterdam, and you kind of laugh at how ridiculous that is. With your circadian rhythm awry, you are up at dawn to watch the Sun rise reflected like a dimly glowing lantern in panes of water that looks like glass.You part the curtains to look out the 17th century window and onto a canal that has been here far longer than you and your crisis of the moment. In that early morning balance between light and dark, you contemplate just how ‘imbalanced’ you’ve felt lately and realize you’ve been in deep misunderstanding. Dark and light, chaos and order, shakti and shiva, peace and war, love and laundry- one doesn’t exist without the other. It is the swinging pendulum that allows the other to exist at all.
Travel is one of the greatest gifts my husband has given to me. His Ninth House (of travel) Venus in Libra lands neatly on my Ascendant, and every fall now for three years as the planets precess into Libra we have taken an extended trip to Europe and I happily receive the blessing of travel. This periodic uprooting is balancing, arriving at the most stressful time of the year for us by the time we arrive, it’s a relief. We anticipate it all year this time when we can relax into our rhythm just he and I, we check in with each other to discover what that rhythm is. This year, by way of Amsterdam we will land in Vienna, where we will stay for a month. Neither of us have visited Amsterdam before, and we’re instantly impressed by it’s aliveness. The design and architecture is absolutely sublime. Windmills are mythical here, with magical meaning. People get everywhere by bicycle – bicycle! Bicycling doesn’t stop the European style, as women wear full style regalia on their cruisers – decked out to the 9’s. So after a mere few hours of sleeping off jetlag, I’d left my troubles behind and realized my plan in the greater scheme of things, the business of finding my pleasure. Somewhere between house repairs, deadlines and a demanding work-laden Pluto transit, I’d all but lost touch with what makes me happy. I’d bought into stress. If there were ever a time to remember to nurture relaxation and enjoyment, to drop all that, it’s now at this Libra New Moon. Well, I’d almost left my troubles behind; travel doesn’t grant a person immunity from stress, it just offers much needed Ninth House perspective.
When I can, I’ve been sneaking little snippets of Carl Jung’s Dream, Memories & Reflections. I’m only still reading about those formative years that forged his groundbreaking theories, but one of the most fascinating pieces is his spiritual epiphany that God created both good and evil – a groundbreaking and heretical discovery for a man of his time that helps us understand the holistic nature of Jung’s pagan and sometimes magical take on psychology. My own Pluto in Libra understands the danger of believing in a one-sided equation creates a terribly lopsided scale. When we can’t hold the ambiguity of our own darkness, our pathos, all the places inside that we’re un-easy, it’s hard to be healthy and whole. This creates stress, the opposite of Libran peace. When we avoid the un-ease we experience within our self, we live in a state of conflict and avoidance. That’s a recipe for a sort of inner war. That’s how wars start: identifying with one side or the other, establishing a position against. To be that divided in oneself is to project that division into your relationships, a surefire recipe for disaster.
As a Libra rising, I’ve discovered that unease has it’s value. It’s often exactly where I need to be. It’s not easy precisely because this sign’s peaceable impulse is strongly inclined toward peace at all costs and sometimes willing to accept substitutions for peace, instead of truly finding it. Libra’s got anesthetics of all sorts fall for that, as Libra’s planet, Venus, who wants to please and be pleased has created innumerable ways to numb out. Considering that at this point in history that feels so extremely unsettling, to sit in the center of crossfire of stress and disharmony, and realize just how un-peaceful we really feel, wondering at how out of balance our world is, we may think we need to lean on this kind of pleasure – and Amsterdam and it’s coffee shops (that aren’t really coffee shops) offer that kind of relief, should we need it! Yet Libra has other ways to be at ease in the midst of uneasiness. We can smile amidst pain, and understand this beautiful paradox in life. We can let the bitter in, to make the sweet that much sweeter. Libra helps us hold the ambiguity of both/and like a high wire act. This Libra New Moon can help us to allow competing opposites within and without to peaceably co-exist.
One of the more interesting moments in Amsterdam was wandering onto a crowded side last night, into a sea of men. I unconsciously thought, my Gosh, I must be the only woman on this street. Not so. There were other women, but they were behind glass windows lit up by red lights, selling their sex though it were any other commodity – furniture, books, or accounting services. I expected to be distressed with thoughts about historical objectification and abuse of women, but it just seemed more natural than hiding (that many of these men looked Islamic, a sexually repressed culture, wasn’t lost on us ). So I wondered: how can we call our self civilized human beings without accepting our dark and light, in totality? I love the aspect of the Hindu philosophy of Tantra which suggests that we accept and see our impulses, longings, emotions and desires out. The famous tantric teacher Osho famously recommended following all sexual impulses, ie, if you want to have sex, have tons of sex. Follow the thing that drives you, to it’s end. He has a point. When we don’t accept where we are, we miss our one shot at true peace. In the struggle against anything, we can only lose balance and falter.
Despite what the news tells us every day, I do believe there is a Divine Order in All Things, and it really is all good in a cosmic balance kind of way. Yet I’m pretty sure balance and peace is not the way we’d like to think of balance, but a far more pagan and even karmic force for becoming whole – through a reconciliation of opposites. We often live as though balance were a grand lifestyle achievement, as though the peaceful life would resemble the perfect Yoga class with the perfect teacher and you experience the perfect balance of exertion and bliss every single day. In this ideal, there would be no war. No worrying about money. No stressing over where to put todays efforts to yield maximum effect tomorrow (we’d be masters of elegant effort). No coarseness or crudeness or rudeness. No chemicals in your food, diseases to worry about getting/avoiding, no cancer cures to find and definitely no illegal sex trafficking. We’d stop worrying about how we look all the time, stop fighting aging and just relax into it. But a world free of conflict and war just doesn’t exist. This is a useful contemplation as Saturn moves into Libra because instead of looking for the ideal of peace, we might think about balance. We might try relaxing into what we most resist, and start making peace from the inside.
As I’ve written this, the sky has changed from dark to light. It began raining, got cloudy, and cleared, the Sun came out and then it left and rained again. The mind moved like a pendulum back ‘n forth: will the rain spoil our explorations? Oh, now it’s light, we’ll have a good day. Jung’s groundbreaking epiphany was that all parts of the psyche are good and true; my Libran epiphany is that peace and balance are two different concepts. When I call those points of departures from peace (stress) un-peaceful, I’ll find balance elusive. Because it appears that no matter how many opinions and feelings we have about Afghanistan, joblessness, health care and our lives, Shakti and Shiva will continue to do the eternal dance of creation and destruction. That’s balance. We don’t have to feel unease and distress. We can experience the world as it is – in balance.
There’s a line in the Will Ferrell movie Talledega Nights that my husband has been known to pull out at non-sequitir moments. The main Will Ferrell character, Ricky Bobby, has a rough and tumble drug addict dad and at a key point in the film (the last time he sees dad) dad’s parting words are burned on Ricky’s brain: ‘if you ain’t first, you’re last, Ricky Bobby’. Dad’s last words may be Ricky’s ‘driving’ motivation for Ricky’s career as a NASCAR driver, forever vying to be first place in the eyes of dad. That is, until one day when he’s beaten by a Frenchie (played by Sacha Baron Cohen). This prompts Ricky’s attempts to win back dominance which of course can only end badly – in a car accident. Awakening in a hospital, Ricky believes he is paralyzed, dramatically telling his wife to ‘go ahead and pull the plug’. We laugh but the joke’s on him – he has no apparent injury. You can walk, urge friends and doctors. Ricky refuses to hear it. He has what abnormal psychology might call a somatization disorder. In reality, Ricky has simply lost his nerve.
In Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby I hear Everyperson’s story. You know the story. It’s the one where the main character is on the threshold of a major breakthrough in life – on the precipice of a personal victory, a real victory for selfhood. Read more