Over these past couple weeks, I've been host to this unexplained itch… not of the physical variety, mind you… an aggravating psychic rub that flutters and frustrates and seems, by all attempts I make to understand it (using repetitive circular logic), to have no direct relevance to the current circumstances in my life.

This floating symptom without a referent, this ache in some phantom limb… it has subsequently led to grump of the kind I might direct at anybody at any time for any reason or, more properly, for no reason at all. Which is why I did my best to avoid unnecessary contact with the outside social world, while I waited for it to blow over.

Me being me, I also couldn't help but talk about what I was feeling, wanting to see if anyone else had a similar mood to share or an insightful perspective to offer. There were some bites confirming this common crabbiness, but no convincing conclusions. One guy emphatically agreed he knew what I was talking about and offered his explanation (couched in a disclaimer of, 'You're probably going to think I'm crazy…'), then blamed the weirdness outbreak on a bug that's going around ('you know… like a gnat') and pulled up his sleeves to bare a nasty mystery rash. Not exactly what I had in mind.

But when a trusted friend engaged me further and drew me out by asking me more detailed questions about my internal experience… and when my answers continued seeming flat and not quite to get at the root of the psychic sensation… and then when she said she felt as if 'rage' was involved… rage? rage about what?… and then, but actually, I realize, yeah, I am angry… ANGRY…grrrr!

And as I began to voice the anger, I was surprised what came out of my mouth. I was mad at the world, and nothing less than that. Every partial cause or whiny excuse I'd mustered to apply to my undifferentiated blech—about my friendships and relationships, my financial situation or self-image or life path—wasn't enough. It wasn't just my mood in isolation, but in the context of big global issues, who has food and health-care and education and physical safety and who doesn't, and whether these are rights in a world of unprecedented prosperity, or 'privileges' for those who qualify for credit and coverage, and the bait-and-switch superficial concerns spoonfed to distract, whether Nick and Jessica are divorcing or why Lindsay is so friggin' skinny, and how we who try to commit to doing something meaningful, something that matters and makes the world a better place, put in our efforts and struggle to be heard, and to survive, and those who never think beyond the summer's fresh tank-top colors dare to look at us like we're the crazy ones who pick the crazy choices, and they take it all for granted, and yes I'm judgmental, and yes I'm angry, for it wasn't even so long ago that we had our own close-to-home reminder that it all can get taken away in a moment, and for just a moment we had compassion and we had unity, and we've forgotten about it already, and we squandered that good will in the aftermath and defaulted farther backward, and… September 11, 2001.

9/11/01. Not the convenient-and-cheap stand-in signifier for terror and tragedy. The real emotional instant, that discontinuous quality time took on as we experienced our lives on the 11th and the 12th and the 13th and the 14th. Were you, like me, struck by epiphany while shocked into numbness and fear? Did you magically see through life's surfaces to what was really important? Did you decide, then and there, how you absolutely and positively intended to manifest value with your life, while you still had a chance?

Maybe, for many of us, the hyperawareness was already starting to fade by Sep 22nd or 23rd. Our compassion turned to vengefulness. Refusal to dare to try to understand. Self-righteous indignation. Prayers turned into bombs, and unity to polarity.

And it hasn't even been four years. How has the world changed since 2001? How much has each one of us integrated what we spontaneously realized during that tense time, or forgotten it and moved (back) into myopia?

I am unashamed to bring up 9/11 here, though the supposed cynic in me may flinch at another mention of this buzzword-date. The continuing need to deal with our collective emotions in a post-9/11 world is real and relevant. The palpably heavy darkness of that previous period poignantly coincided with the opposition between planetary kingpins Saturn and Pluto (Aug 01-May 02), an aspect pitting the information-age structures of relativism we constructed for ourselves ('everything's OK, if it's on TV') against the totalitarian power of fierce moral ideologies ('ours' and 'theirs'). In this struggle, as on Sep 11 01, Pluto usually wins, forcing breakdowns and collapses and pain-filled destructions, so something fresh can ultimately grow from the ashes. But what, we ask now, grew?

The question is timely—and has everything to do with my nagging annoyedness, underscored by my unconscious rage—now that Saturn has moved into an inconjunct with Pluto, revisiting the '01-'02 dusk from below the surface and quietly asking for a progress report.

As far as astrological aspects go, the inconjunct (a 150-degree angle) is often considered the most minor of the major aspects, described in terms like 'subtle frustration' or 'underlying need for adjustment'. When two planets make an inconjunct, it is as if they are speaking completely different languages. They certainly aren't getting along, but their conflict is neither glaring nor easy to detect or understand. In that sense, an inconjunct can actually be harder to navigate than, say, an opposition or a square. It's like having an interaction with an undercover adversary who pretends that everything is hunky-dory between you but slyly undermines your success, rather than just coming right out and starting up shit with you.

The Saturn-inconjunct-Pluto energy has affected us since last July, but it hit its final climactic exactitude last week. I would not expect everybody's submerged feelings to match mine (rage toward the world, or maybe it really is more about me than I realized?), but it is worth doing what you can to mine the hidden contents of any unconscious tensions. With Saturn in Cancer noiselessly grinding against Pluto in Sagittarius, the lesser-explored issues will involve a tangled clash between (1) taking responsibility for your own feelings and (2) uncomfortably evaluating the ethical value of the beliefs to which you cling.

Frustratingly, our lived behaviors don't always match up with what we purport to believe. Inert emotions like dull depression and repressed rage are often the messages we send ourselves as an alert to this incompatibility… and they stay with us until we make the necessary adjustments, like an astrological inconjunct nudges us to do. But before we can do anything about our feelings, we must acknowledge that (1) they exist and (2) they contain relevant information for us. (I, for one, felt better after spitting up my lodged anger, but still not one-hundred-percent cheery-o.)

This week, as personal energy-igniter Mars gets ensnarled with Saturn and Pluto, be on the watch for clues to your inner emotional climate… especially when you develop reactions incongruent and/or way out of proportion to the actual tenor of the situation. Through dialogue (external or internal), follow the feelings to their logical extreme, to discover what else they might be telling you about what else.