Moving Beyond Mars/Saturn


You haven't heard from me (apart from the horoscope machine) since the menacing approach of Mars and Saturn's conjunction, which was exactly back on Aug 25.

That's because I've been in its trenches, contending with the imperative duty to myself to outwardly assert the savage truths of my worldview, responsibly but unflinchingly…

… even as direct exposure to impolite, unpleasant, and desperate emotional reactions (my own and/or others') definitely tested my resolve, tempting me toward less responsible expressions of righteous indignation and fury which, if fully indulged, could've blown the roof off of everything.

The pressures in favor of responsible behavior came from discipline-demanding Saturn, no doubt about that. But in Scorpio, Saturn's marching-orders came straight from Mars, the scorpion-stinger's ruling planet, strong and in charge in his home-sign—and Mars demands action. Their conjunction, therefore, called for a combination of the two: Enough force, galvanized by genuine intense emotion (of one sort or another), to create a robust external impact… but not so much that pain is needlessly inflicted and/or damage irreversibly done.

How many of us have experienced some version of this encounter with Mars/Saturn over the past three weeks? I suspect a lot.

After all, our emotions had ample time to intensify during all those preceding months, when a far more 'reasonable' (and thus relatively impotent) Mars was constantly charged with the task of attempting (futilely, in many cases) to reattain as much 'peace' (whether superficial or otherwise) in the face of erratic, unpredictable Uranus-Pluto life-changing circumstances. All that while, as we instinctively carried out our first-reaction operations, deeper and more psychologically-thorough responses were building up inside us. By the time Mars finally moved into his strengthened Scorpio posture in late July, we'd accumulated much psychic potency behind those responses. Then, as the conjunction to Saturn grew closer, the dilemma became one of trying to appropriately control the release of that potency, since, due to the preceding buildup, our chance of detrimentally overshooting our mark was dangerously increased.

In my own experience of Mars/Saturn, I've been behaving more confrontationally than I typically do (I'm more the Venus type)… not backing away or making nice when I ordinarily would, pressing my point to levels of relational discomfort to ensure it was unequivocally received, not accepting 'good intentions' as a sufficient defense for improper actions, refusing to settle for half-assed apologies (e.g., 'I'm sorry if you were upset…') but insisting on a fuller explication of what they're apologizing for, tirelessly analyzing close-up examples of dissatisfying dynamics until all involved parties express an understanding of the roots of the dissatisfaction, demonstrating my willingness to be emotionally raw and, if I needed to be, intimidating. This all went down in tender zones of my personal life… and also through heated social-media exchanges, where I maintained a zero-tolerance policy for those who promoted ignorant or outright racist sentiments, in the collective process of making sense of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the systemic injustices they exposed.

At times, it felt downright victorious to remain standing, to productively prolong the standoff rather than cut it short, to persist with the penetrating eye-contact despite the nervousness it stirred. At least as often, I second-guessed my intense willfulness. What if they didn't like me anymore? What if drawing a firm boundary meant boxing myself in, cutting myself off? Perhaps the most painful part for me was accepting that some relationships might be necessarily damaged by the act of staunchly putting forth my truth, and not rescinding it at the first sign of my anger or sadness about the other person's disappointing attitude. Nonetheless, that discouraging possibility didn't make my truth any less true—and so, soldiering on I went.

In terms of meeting Mars/Saturn's challenge to be rightful in my actions, I'd give myself a grade somewhere between a B+ (at my best moments) and a C/C- (when my unavoidable human side burped out a less-regulated feeling)… which, you must know, is still something of a letdown to this relentless straight-A-grubber. But emotions are what they are, and sometimes come out at inconvenient times, when we aren't as on top of our game, and thus likelier to let them out in misdirected, inappropriate, excessive, or hysterical ways, through irrelevant jabs or bitchy side-comments, without regard for whether they successfully deliver our message or merely perform our upset.

For me, those less-impressive moments were stoked by the Leo influence (first from Jupiter, then later from Venus too) squaring Mars/Saturn: Whenever my asserted reality got lost in the glaring beams of what I would've characterized as someone else's ego-performance (says this multi-Aquarian-with-no-fire), that's when I became more indignant, sloppier, meaner, likelier to take a pot-shot at (as I saw it) their narcissistic erasure of my existence. Need I confess to being ashamedly aware that my retaliatory defensiveness, and the snide judgments which come with it, is merely the flip-side shadow of the same 'narcissism' I scorn in others? Would I be as triggered by whether I am 'being seen' if I hadn't repeatedly deferred to other people's desires? Accountability begrudgingly accepted.

In a first step towards softening this vibe, Venus leaves Leo today (Fri Sep 5) and enters Virgo, a sign where she's far more understated and cautious. Though Venus isn't seen as operating at her highest when in Virgo, she does have an aesthetic knack for cleaning things up… which could prove quite helpful for carefully putting pieces back together in broken-but-worth-fixing relationships, through correcting factual inaccuracies in our understandings of each other or re-attuning our focus to the precise areas where the connection is pure, clear, and/or sacred.

On the other hand, Venus in Virgo can be rather fussy with her relational habits, refusing to forget a slight or imperfection (though almost certainly noting it on her invisible score-card, for ongoing calculation purposes). She also has a tendency to get so up-close-and-personal with certain aspects of the relationship, she loses sight of the bigger picture, foregoing the panoramic forest vista by zooming in on a single leaf's cellular structure.

This last possibility is perhaps the likeliest threat during Venus's first days in Virgo, as she approaches her opposition to Neptune (exact on Wed Sep 10), an aspect notorious for blinding us to the unadorned reality of who another person actually is, due to our becoming entranced and enchanted by who we want them to be, wish they were, and/or hope they aren't. If we concentrate too closely on cleaning up one narrow facet of an interpersonal dynamic as some miraculous 'cure-all'—at the expense of leaving open the possibility that, actually, it's all still something of a mess—we could be wishfully ignoring a big-picture problem, just to restore a self-deluding bliss.

Mars departs Scorpio a few days later, entering Sagittarius (on Sat Sep 13) and furthering this shift away from the heavy-feeling entrenchment of the recent fixed-sign (i.e., Leo/Scorpio) signature. Mars in Sagittarius is almost always already ready to move onto the next thing, particularly when the previous 'thing' was weighty, protracted, and/or appeared to lack an ever-engaging forward momentum. This Mars can definitely assist us in cutting through the bullshit, in purposefully hunting for teachable conclusions we might harvest from our difficulties, with little tolerance for dwelling on the same overworked issues or fighting the same damn fights. Life is too short, Mars in Sagittarius would tell us, not to actively pursue what else might be out there… especially if we've already learned this lesson.

But Mars in Sagittarius isn't so keen on hanging out in emotionally-heightened settings—and, impatient as he can be, will sometimes rush through the discomfort to a spacious field of greater freedom over yonder, even as he prematurely leaves an emotional 'lesson' unlearned (because it's one which, by its very nature, cannot be integrated without sticking around through the prolonged awkwardness). Driven to relieve his own discomfort, Mars in Sagittarius will sometimes lob a sharp arrow straight into the bull's-eye of the simmering confrontation, provoking abrupt conclusions, reducing complexities to crude blacks-and-whites, drawing sudden lines in the sand. (Who really wants to be told to 'get over it' when they're upset?) What he presents as a simple act of 'moving on' could alternatively be seen as cutting-and-running, if one or another party doesn't feel totally resolved or otherwise 'done'.

Mars, too, tangles with Neptune in the earlier part of his Sagittarian travels, forming a square (exact on Sun Sep 21) that similarly clouds his clarity about exactly what his rush to 'move on' is meant to accomplish. Hard Mars-Neptune aspects usually suggest an inability to accurately discern what the effects of an action will be. Our idealistic desires may not be as effectively pursued by our crude, simplifying moves as we imagine they will. We lurch in a certain direction because of what we believe is a clear intention on our part, only to find, in the process, we are unintentionally ignoring another key life-factor. We can't know for sure whether the 'brighter future' we're now driven to chase isn't just a mirage, a pretty vision concealing our attempt to escape an unpleasant reality.

Coming off our intense encounter with Saturn, all this Neptune energy could feel like salve for the soul. Proceeding with understanding, forgiveness, and compassion for others' crap is not a bad way to go. However, the threat is now no longer about asserting ourselves in too unseemly, severe, or self-aggrandizing a manner: It's a matter of not letting Neptune's influence fog our senses with the yearning to make everything better, deluding us into hurriedly tucking those recent eye-opening challenges under the rug before they're fully dealt with and/or really put to bed.

Mars remains in Sagittarius through October 26. Venus remains in Virgo through September 29.