As a Cancer Sun sign holding a tight t-square between Mars & Pluto, I have my fair share of battle wounds. I don’t really know why I’m the first to get honked at on the road (Mars in Aries. I am speedy but I also know how to use my instrument). Or why I had more ‘life/death’ experiences under my belt by age twenty-one than anyone else I knew. As Aries rules my seventh house of relationship, for the large part of my single life I also attracted immature, narcissistic, maybe even self-destructive men. Most weren’t aware how their unconscious stuff caused problems (but I sure was). Yes, we each have our own special relationship to the fiery red planet.

My Mars is in the humbling Sixth House and locked in combat with bad-ass Pluto from the Twelfth House. Thus early life Mars visitations caught me off guard and debilitated me, as hidden enemies & health issues will do. This Aries planet, the courageous warrior, defender of self-hood in its own sign is surely given a ‘star role’ in my life – which gives me rare warrioress qualities. You wouldn’t figure my little ‘ol Cancer Sun sign and sweet Libra Rising for…don’t f*** with me. But there it is. It’s not all Xena Warrior Princess and La Femme Nikita episodes around here though. In real life, fighting for survival and learning Mars lessons – though it has its storybook glory – isn’t glamorous. It’s downright ugly on the heart. And painful. I learn how people attack out of fear and powerlessness. I learn how we (me included) don’t know the depths of our own personal power. I continue to learn how standing up for oneself, drawing a line in the sand needn’t be painful or hurtful to others or self – but it often is.

As our birth chart stays with us for at least this lifetime that’s both the bad and the good news. As transits ripen karma, over the years the questions: ‘Why is this crazy person beating on the hood of my car again?’ and ‘Why is this life/death situation happening again?’ haven’t disappeared but replaced with humility, a desire to let the stuff work inward, to understand – a real no-brainer for a Cancer Sun. I follow the credo of kindness, which is challenging if you feel attacked and sabotaged but taken to a whole other level if you actually are being attacked and sabotaged. Over time, my relationship to MP (my affectionate name for Mars-Pluto), the way I’m being called forth to experience these guys is changing, too. No longer locked in battle or generating life/death circumstances and crazy makers, today they have assumed a new role in my life. They have become my guardian angels.

Ultimately, it’s the transformative magic I appreciate in my protectors and henchmen, Mars and Pluto. But as I say this I still knock on wood, say three hail Marys and ask my protectors for guidance and tender mercy. Because for the non-astrology literate, it’s heavy stuff (I’ll spare you the gory details). To illuminate the catalytic effect contained in the symbols, let me say this: the mere symbols have elicited gasps of horror from the uninitiated and even a curse word from the wisest of wise.

Case in Point no. 1: Planet Terror

Once, a guy I had just begun dating and was newly learning the fine art of astrology, asked to look at my birth chart. It was a fine sunny summer’s day without a care in the world (…reason enough to be suspicious from my T-square’s POV) and we were cruising in my red (of course) car. I handed the birth chart over easily (and a little too casually). I remember what happened next because it will be burned on my brain forever: he dropped my birth chart like a hot potato –as though it had burned him. I immediately pulled the car over to ask what the problem was. He was speechless. All the astrological authority he was previously propped up with was suddenly rendered – well, limp by my big red honking t-square (maybe it was because his authority came by way of Aleister Crowley, a dark figure indeed). First he claimed ignorance; then he claimed he was scared. He looked scared. And it was the way he looked at me, like I was a pariah, or a messiah – (he wasn’t sure), that informed my next move. I swiftly opened the car door and booted him out. The relationship wasn’t over, but it was on its way out.

If someone ever tells you symbols don’t have power – don’t believe ’em.

Case in point no. 2: Oh, Shit.

A few weeks ago at an astrology retreat in a crowd of 37 students, my name was drawn out of the ‘sorting hat’ – a fun tradition in the Steven Forrest apprenticeship program. My chart was offered up like a guinea pig in the name of scientific experimentation, for an instructive reading. The subject? Pluto in Capricorn fills out the leg of my T-square in a Cardinal Cross. At that point one of the wisest men I know, a learned, teacher with a heart of gold picked up the chart and from the wise mouth of my teacher came two words I’ll never forget: ‘Oh, shit.’ Then he looked at me and said. ‘…and I’m sure you’re thinking that, too.’ Everyone laughed. I laughed. It was funny – on so many levels, but it was that painful kind of laughter. Heck, I’d be intimidated by my chart too, if – if it wasn’t actually ME up there. And if I didn’t see my self as absolutely non-intimidating and basically harmless – which I am and I recognize I am not. A high school friend once spoke of me metaphorically, Jessica wouldn’t hurt a fly. In my early twenties, I taught my impressionable cousin to fry insects using a magnifying glass and the Sun (By the way, Steven’s reading was spectacular and right on – a true spiritual empowerment).

If an inanimate piece of paper evokes such a reaction, what of the life lived? You learn a lot. Just as I’ve learned not to share my chart with just anyone, over the years I’ve learned to be very selective who I let into my heart. Protective, guarded, exclusive, Cancerian – call it what you will. I call it necessary. When folks start spewing strange, unconscious responses all over the place….it’s still hello t-square! When I choose how to pull out the big guns, I choose to be healing whenever possible  – because that’s the point. But just as I don’t think the guy in case in point no. 1 understood the real potential of Mars-Pluto, I can’t blame him. The world at large has a very limited understanding of authentic expressions of MP power. Power has been so dirty, for so long. MP power shows up on the big screen and even past-lives as violence, betrayal, sexual violence, power abusers, or death – and we know how life tends to imitate art.

Case in point no. 3: Goodbye Angry Mob, Hello Aphrodite’s Guardians.

Lately I’ve been claiming MP in a new way. I’ve grown aware of just how much of an impact my person has on other people. Yes, they still catch me by surprise and I’m not fighting for my life, today. Hail Mary. Hail Mary. Hail Mary. But if they’re going to scream at me now, I’m now aware I’ve been given major power in their eyes. If I have the power to ruin their day (or impact their well-being for better or worse) that must mean they’re placing a heck of a lot of faith in me…and I’d better live up to it. I vow not to abuse this implied and silent trust. This may mean: taking different action to knee jerk warrior energy refraining from my first re-action to their madness. This may mean: ignoring the blood lust coming from the peanut gallery – that part of you in the form of your well-intended friends who totally ignore your wounding and unripe power, by telling you that the enemy is out there so go ahead, hit ’em with your best shot. Mostly, I’m growing more aware of these hot currents and realizing my commitment to kindness & understanding.

It’s not easy. We live in a culture that has glorified a particular form of power and warrior-ship, the almighty Ego. Despite what anyone tells you, you don’t have to be inducted into the propaganda of leadership & ego-glory, if it’s not your thing. Everyone doesn’t need be a leader in their chosen field, but their personal best. Violence isn’t sexy; neither is stealing someone else’s power because you want it. Standing up for your self doesn’t need to involve tearing down another in the process, we can be aware, kind and introspective. Masculinity as THE model of confidence and control makes people ballistic. After all, if the God/Goddess wanted everyone to be a CEO, president, or leader we’d all be born in like three months of the year (and no I’m not naming those signs). There are twelve constellations in the zodiac and that means there’s room for everyone.

I propose a different kind of standing up for oneself – one guided by the heart.

One where we don’t ignore the trespasses we simply can’t abide, nor the shadow in others. We touch the hot, fiery and even vindictive feelings – but we hold out for preserving friendships, the earth, human life, and trust in humanity. Not because it wouldn’t feel good to let it rip, ’cause sometimes it would, but because we have entrusted each other with the most precious gift of all -protecting each others right to thrive, get smarter, stronger and to exist. To survive as a species I know “I AM” the only one who can protect and cherish not destroy, life. Can I hear a oh yeah here?! Are you with me?

This is the new credo of my protectors and guardians – whom a visionary friend described in a spirit message. He suggested my protectors were similar to the guardians who stood guard at sites of sacred knowledge. Here’s the image:

Jessica: sitting in an Aphrodite clam shell. Protected by –
Mars: On the left, big buff guy with golden arm bands.
Pluto: On right, big buff guy with golden arm bands and gold dog collar.
(If you’re thinking S&M fantasy, my thoughts exactly. This could get fun.)

…which brings me back to: this Aries New Moon. This Aries New Moon month is an adventure in discovering our unripe powers and then using them very wisely. You may see shadows of your self. Life will justify all your nasty fertilizer in the form of people who resemble that remark. But don’t get tricked into joining the cult of Ego, the propaganda of personal power. You can define your own version of empowerment – though my Cancer Sun humbly suggests starting with kindness. And after that – just be your self.