Listening to the Bell


One of the tools I use when writing your horoscopes is my internal regulating bell.

As I'm in the authorial flow, if something I type isn't quite 'right' (that is, perfectly in tune with my intuitive sense), I hear a little ding inside my head. That is my signal to go back, delete the last sentence I wrote, and try again.

Sometimes, the ding won't ring out immediately (or, more precisely, I don't hear it), and I get several sentences ahead before acknowledging I must go back and revise. On rare occasions, if the ding hasn't sounded long or loud enough to hit my radar, I won't catch the lapse… until the feeling that one of my horoscopes is 'wrong' overtakes me, while I'm engaged in some other activity later in the day, and I make a mental note to revisit my now-evidently-incomplete work from earlier. (This is why I leave myself lag time between main writing sessions and deadlines.)

This perspective on my process popped into my mind, as I reflected on my desire to follow-up on last week's Mars-Saturn conjunction… seeing as it's now been two weeks since I shared my original thoughts on it, and I feel its significance should probably be re-emphasized.

As I initially pointed out, a union of Mars and Saturn in Virgo speaks seriously of our need to act with precision and caution, knowing that a refusal to respect the proper guidelines and limits inherent to any pursuit may well result in the unpleasant consequences of excess. Without making each move carefully, with a head toward measurable progress, our efforts are likelier to be thwarted in a hasty dash to success. Contrary to how we might try fooling ourselves, fudging the little stuff will indeed prove to matter.

Under such an influence, as we've been for a couple weeks now, we face countless instances where we must decide how seriously to treat a certain item, issue or potential problem… how hard we should work on our given task-list (and whether we might squeeze in a quick shopping trip)… how tightly we should control our diet or intoxicant intake (and whether it might buy us a few minutes off our cardio routine)… how diligently we will stay on topic in our important conversation (or whether we might veer off-course enough to include that one tiny, but totally unnecessary, jab)… and just how far we can push it on the personal gratification front before we go too far, only to find out the hard way that we only have so much leeway to stray without bad results.

The funny thing? Though 'where are our appropriate limits?' is an extremely important self-reflective question to consider, it often plays itself out over the littlest and seemingly most insignificant stuff.

So, have you confronted this question recently? Did you hear your inner bell go ding, telling you you'd gone too far? Did you respect its authority, or refuse to listen? And what now? Though the exact peak of the Mars-Saturn conjunction has now come and gone, its potential lessons remain.

If you caught yourself mid-goof and mustered the responsibility to rein yourself back in, you deserve a conscious pause to applaud yourself. Often, we need to flirt with overdoing it, coming so close that we may already start to feel the centripetal force pulling us in, in order to recognize the profundity of the choice—and to make the right one.

If you found yourself thwarted, faced with evidence of the ineffectiveness of your approach in contending with obstacles or oppositional forces, you now have some additional information in front of you. You've observed what behavior of yours doesn't work. Be humble, and take it like an adult. Even if your favorite trick usually does work in other contexts, you've now learned its limitations. Rather than rail about 'unfairness' or insult your victorious foes with cheap names like a juvenile poor-sport, take this as a motivational impetus to up your game. Get better at what you do, so the same thing won't happen next time.

And if you're still swallowing the aftereffects of your defiance of Mars-and-Saturn's insistence on impeccability and restraint, let the taste linger there. Experience the deflation or (in the worst cases) disastrous disappointment that comes when we ignore the bell's ringing, just because we want to do what we want to do right this very moment and claim not to give a rat's ass about anything else. It's a simple tradeoff, right? A quick feelgood moment, in exchange for a depressing hangover of 'why did I do that?' Now you know how the formula works.

But even in these less-triumphant examples, one thing we don't need to take away from Mars and Saturn's conjunction is a lingering sense of guilt or regret. The planets aren't zapping us to make us feel bad. They want us to take away helpful hints for better living… and sometimes the only way we thick-headed humans pay attention is when we're looking to fix another one of our fuck-ups.

If we can identify where we went wrong and pledge not to make that same mistake again—after all, we've got new 'mistakes' we need to make—then it'll all have proven worth it in the end.

Plus, the more often we listen to that internal bell of protective intuition (and actually respond to its dings with responsible behavior), the more loudly it rings when we need it most.