My Personal Mars-Pluto Story

December 2009

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In my last post, I described my chronic angst with the systemic violence I see increasingly entrenched within the very fabric of our culture, suggesting that any hope we might have for the future depends upon us consciously and intentionally making different choices.

I myself have been seeking to choose something different for a while now. All my life I have carried a tremendous capacity for anger. This anger was originally born of a childhood wound in which the other children in my neighborhood attacked me during a game of king of the mountain in my grandfather’s backyard. Although I do not know if there was in fact ill intent behind their actions, I became violently ill with pneumonia in the wake of the attack, and sustained psychological as well as physical damage. I also maintained a certain a wariness of the intent of others, and a chronic sense of disempowerment that followed me into adulthood. I have written extensively about this incident and its aftermath in my book, Tracking the Soul With an Astrology of Consciousness, and have worked on the core complex of issues generated by it all my life. I have no intention of belaboring the discussion here, within the context of this post, except to note that incident took place on or around the time of a Mars-Pluto conjunction.

In my natal birthchart, Mars and Pluto form an uneasy semi-sextile aspect to one another. The semi-sextile is an aspect of friction – the kind of irritation caused by the juxtaposition of two very different and often irreconcilable energies, where the potential for conflict, and in this case, violent conflict is often high. In my new book – Astrology and the Archetypal Power of Numbers – I speak of the semi-sextile as one of the prime aspects indicating entry into what I call the Realm of Two:

The number Two encompasses the principle of duality – the idea that every conceivable dimension by which this reality might be qualitatively measured is counterbalanced by some other dimension that is in some fundamental way opposite. Among the more basic of these polarities are light and dark, male and female, hot and cold, wet and dry, odd and even. Out of consideration of these contrasting opposites, consciousness arises and in turn gives rise to the possibility of choice.

Within the Realm of Two, we can chose a path of equality that entails no judgment of right or wrong, good or bad, but rather an understanding that both sides of any polarity are necessary to balance and wholeness. Or we can choose a path of inequality, along which one side is favored at the expense of another. Inequality generally leads to conflict, while equality leads to creative synthesis, love, mutual respect, compassionate tolerance of differences, and a synergistic interaction in which the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. The path of equality facilitates the process of becoming, while the path of inequality generally leads back into the Abyss.

I see this dilemma – an inability to consciously or gracefully negotiate the Realm of Two – to be at the root of our systemic capacity for violence, both as a culture and as individuals, On the personal level, it remains my conundrum at the beginning of this new Mars-Pluto cycle.

After the ash pile incident, I spent my first two years in school getting into fights on the playground nearly every day. In one way, shape, or form, these fights have continued, although now they are rarely physical in nature. I am less prone to the knee-jerk reaction that often marked my reckless youth, and led to consequences I would have preferred to avoid. Still, if I look back at this last Mars-Pluto cycle – a standard astropoetic technique for personalizing your understanding of any planetary dynamic – I see that although the characters, stage settings, and screenplays dramatizing the play of life have changed, the theme and the issues behind the theme, remain.

During the last conjunction of transiting Mars to natal Pluto, for example, I had a run in with a secretary in the Nursing Department of a college I routinely visit with my day job (buying and selling textbooks). This person, whom I had never met before, told me that they no longer allowed book-buyers in the building, and wanted me to visit the dean. I told her I didn’t have time, that I was busy running a business. When she told me I had to, I told her I didn’t have to do anything and stomped off. I am glad I stood up for myself, but was angry that I would be losing regular customers, by having to mark the Nursing Department off my list.

During the waxing sextile, I experienced a moment of road rage when another driver flipped me the bird after I passed him.

During the waxing square, I became outraged over Google’s attempt to do an end-run around copyright law in appropriating the written work of others for their own commercial use in their Library Project – subsequently writing about it on my publishing company blog.

The waxing trine found me arguing with my neighbors over who has the ultimate authority to make decisions in the land cooperative where I live; and with a fellow astrologer by email about whether or not astrology could rightfully be called a science – an argument that had begun between us during the opposition.

During the waning trine, in the immediate aftermath of the storm mentioned earlier, I was debating with my neighbors the best way to address the massive blow down of trees everywhere throughout the forest. It appeared some of my neighbors wanted to maximize the opportunity to capitalize on the sale of salvage timber, while others of us were primarily motivated to want to do what was best for the forest. This was a continuation of the argument about the authority to make decisions mentioned during the waxing trine.

During the waning square, I ran into additional college policies directed at book-buyers, similar to that encountered during the waxing sextile.

During the waning sextile, I had an argument with a friend about the state of the world today; debated what to do with a letter I had just written to a neighbor outside of the land cooperative who had hired loggers that basically trashed his property; and nearly got into an altercation with another logger whom the land cooperative had hired, when he insisted on working in the rain, and tearing up the ground, in violation of our agreement.

During this new conjunction, I was engaged in this argument with B___ about the nature of violence. I had just been to an Andrew Harvey workshop where I had often been compelled to assume an adversarial role. And I had just had another difficult discussion with a horse logger I had hired to help clean up the salvage timber on my property, who basically told me that if I wanted him to finish what he started, I would have to do it his way.

Clearly, given this recent history, it appears that life – perhaps my life in particular – continues to be marked at nearly every turn by the potential for conflict, and that with my Mars-Pluto semi-sextile, I am somehow a magnet for it, or compelled to address it. Granted, few of the conflicts I experience ever come close to actual physical violence. But they all leave a mark of violation, whether on me or on someone else; many of them do damage; and some of them feel downright abusive.

Thus at the beginning of this new cycle, the question remains, “How can I more effectively deal with those who feel threatened by my words, or my actions, or simply feel some need to oppose me for whatever reason?” Or in terms of the challenge posed by the Realm of Two, ”How can I more consciously choose the path of equality in relation to those situations in which the potential for conflict or violence exists.”

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