'The Peace Before the Storm…'


That's the order events are expected to happen, if the cliché is to be believed. Yet, in the wake of remarkable storminess—take your pick here: the most obvious quake/tsunami storm of Dec 26, the Iraq war, the '04 US presidential campaign, the Sudan genocide, the global sense of environmental unwellness, blah blah—I don't exactly remember the peace that was supposed to precede it.

Peace. What is it, anyways? In attempted explanation, I could amateurishly share selections from Merriam-Webster or the American Heritage, which might define it in relation to agreement, harmony, inner contentment, public order or the absence of war. But we already know that.

What I'm having trouble figuring out is whether peace is real or just a lovely notion to ponder amidst the ongoing stream of messy conflicts, bloody gunshot wounds and bouts of self-flagellation. Does peace ever really exist, or is it an ideal that can never be attained?

I've been thinking more about peace since last June's occultation of the Sun by Venus, when she visibly traveled across its face for the first time since 1882. Venus is the astrological symbol of peace, and the profundity of her rare transit across the Sun made Venus a principal player of 2004. Venus will once again transit the Sun in 2012, the year in which the ancient Mayan calendar abruptly stops and supposedly ushers in a major shift in global consciousness, a 'Golden Age of Enlightenment', the 'end of the world' (at least as we know it) and/or something markedly different. This has led many New Age/spiritual thinkers to characterize this 2004-2012 period as the initiatory portal to the 'Golden Age' of spiritual awareness and global oneness, which presumably would include a potent dosage of peace—even though, alas, 2004 will not likely go down in history as particularly peaceful.

Libra, one of the two signs ruled by Venus, is astrology's peacemaker, and its recent prominence on the scene might have us believe that peace was readily available at finer stores everywhere, stacked abundantly on shelves between the toothpaste and the mouthwash. Jupiter, 'Mr. Good Luck' himself, is currently spending a year traveling through Libra, and the most recent solar eclipse on Oct 13 04 also fell there. But still, where's the peace?

If Libra is 'peace' in the language of astrology, then the transition from Libra to Scorpio stands for 'the peace before the storm'. As far as storms go, Scorpio, with its intense passions and power issues and shadowy psychological underpinnings, certainly qualifies as the zodiac's prime example. And the Libra-Scorpio cusp, as I've mentioned before, is considered a difficult zone of the zodiac, the dark Via Combusta (or 'fiery way') associated with those things usually absent from our conscious visibility (e.g., dead people). Only by lingering in the Scorpionic darkness and living for a time with the ghosts and demons that dwell there—with little perspective beyond the immediate emotional experience—can the zodiac wheel progress to Sagittarius, the archer who seeks to ascend to higher universal truths.

But while we're most accustomed to the 'forward' movement that the planets make through the zodiac (when they're not retrograde, that is), we could also look at this progression through the signs in 'reverse'. The zodiac is, after all, a circle. From this view, instead of building from the individual 'I'-ness of Aries to the interconnected everything-ness of Pisces, the zodiac could be understood as a journey from Pisces's diffuse expanse to Aries's focused self-propulsion. Going either direction, the Pisces-Aries cusp represents the same fundamental premise: One is everything, and everything is one. The universe in a grain of sand.

In contrast to the planets, the points known as the Moon's nodes make their way through the zodiac in this alternative 'reverse' fashion. The lunar nodes are the two spots in which the Moon's plane of orbit around the Earth intersects the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun and planets around the Earth, divided into the twelve signs of the zodiac), and they symbolically represent the esoteric connection of individual lives to a broader karmic lineage of past causes and future effects. The South Node (or Dragon's Tail) symbolizes the comfortable patterns of residue that we carry with us from the past, while the North Node (or Dragon's Head) signifies the hope for a fresh future through which our spirit can explore uncharted territory and grow as a result. The two nodes are always in perfect opposition to each other, and their location determines which zodiac signs will contain the eclipses of a given period and what time of year they will occur. Eclipses are nothing more than new or full moons that fall in conjunction with the lunar nodes, making them more intense and 'karmic' than typical lunations.

On the very day of the great tsunami, the lunar nodes slipped over the cusp from the Scorpio/Taurus axis to Libra/Aries, highlighting the backwards-moving shift of the South Node through the challenging Via Combusta, from Scorpionic 'storm' to Libran 'peace'. In a wider context, we can trace the nodes' movement from their entrance into Sagittarius/Gemini in Oct 01—a sign polarity that mirrored the painful Saturn-Pluto opposition associated with the monumental terrorist attacks a month earlier—and through Scorpio/Taurus, beginning in Apr 03, within a month after the US government initiated its war against Iraq and discovered a 'messier' situation than it had anticipated.

I'd like to believe that viewing the nodes' sign changes, in light of recent history, provides some framework for understanding why we haven't witnessed much peace lately—and for building hope that we soon may—but my thoughts are preliminary and inconclusive. I'm tentative and unsure. South Node-wise, Sagittarius, the fast-talking extremist of last month's Mercury retrograde, gave way to do-or-die Scorpio, where Mars and Venus lately mingled to force us into passionate probing of the deep ugly psychological reality. And now, having worked the Scorpio truths up from the trenches, we should expect to confront the Libran promise of calmer compromise, emphasized by that last solar eclipse.

Monday's New Moon in Capricorn provides a powerful opportunity to concentrate our energies toward fulfilling big responsibilities, to choose hard work and discipline over indulgently selling our best shots short. No one ever said that peace was easy—seemingly oxymoronic, we must fight for its existence as a reality rather than an ideal. The New Moon's conjunction to Chiron and opposition to Saturn in Cancer present us the chance to revisit the sobering events of Dec 26, when Chiron rose and Saturn set over the Indian Ocean, the Earth shaking from beneath its surface and rippling outward in big waves.

Framing the real challenge to actual peace going forward, Jupiter in Libra makes a t-square to the Sun-Moon-Chiron conjunction and Saturn, proving that 'Mr. Good Luck' isn't always sunshine and roses. The emotional reality cannot be 'niced' away by profusions of pleasantries and surface-level overtures to joining forces and getting along, the unflattering side of Jupiter in Libra. Only legitimate effort, not cheap talk or photo-op poses of compassion, will help soothe our aching collective heart. When using this week's Capricorn energy to seriously start over for yourself in '05, accept appropriate accountability for your little piece of un-peace and foster belief it could be much different.

Peace, to the white courtesy telephone…

Peace, white courtesy telephone, please…