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Empowerment, Devotion and Ethical Ambition 

click to enlarge One of the 600-plus “ad takeovers” the activist-artist collective Brandalism has posted throughout Paris this week. - ART BY BARNBROOK
  • Art by Barnbrook
  • One of the 600-plus “ad takeovers” the activist-artist collective Brandalism has posted throughout Paris this week.

As I write this on Wednesday, the COP21 UN Climate Summit in Paris is in its third day. The ban on public protests that was instituted as part of a ‘state of emergency’ (which some are calling a police state) in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks was scheduled to end Tuesday; instead, it has been extended by French police until Dec. 13 -- specifically for central Paris and for Le Bourget, where COP21 is being held.

You might see that decision as a ‘necessary limit’ to protect safety (meanwhile, French police have conducted more than 2,000 house raids to look for suspected terrorists). Or, perhaps you consider it a misguided overreaction.

Then again, you might look at the timing of these two events (the Nov. 13 attacks and the ban on civil protests) as having a far stronger and insidious relationship, one that implicates the French government in taking advantage of tragedy and exploiting it for the purpose of abusing civil liberties -- all to ensure that thousands of citizen activists feel (and in fact are) disempowered in their ability to be heard by world leaders.

However you look at it, one thing is clear: the shadow side of the Saturn-Neptune square (which made its first exact contact on Thanksgiving) is being described boldly by these events: fear. There’s also an element of the use of illusion/delusion (Neptune) by authority (Saturn) at play: a message is being sent that anyone who is not a foreign head of state (specifically of one of the major developed countries) or a member of the police or military has no power. Yet that message is nothing without fear to carry it.

How does one combat fear in such a situation? How do you remember and make contact with your personal power?

Creativity can be one way through; taking action in some small way in your own life to make something or do something constructive -- or helping others -- can neutralize fear. It shifts your focus, and channels the fear energy in a different direction. Getting creative (and I don’t even necessarily mean ‘artistic’; you might create a new filing system for your office or cook a beautiful meal) also taps into love (or a sense of unity) and eros (life force). That is, the opposite of fear and the sense of disconnection and polarization that comes with it.

Your connection with this idea of creativity/eros/life force is being reflected, and perhaps shifted or emphasized, by the ingress of the asteroid Vesta back into Aries today at 12:45 pm EST. In astrology, Vesta is associated with devotion, such as tending to your inner creative spark or erotic fire as one would tend the hearth, and also with sacrifice.

The first degree of Aries is the famously sensitive Aries Point, which integrates the personal with the political. Timed with the heightened attention to global warming that the COP21 summit and diverted protests are generating, I see a question here:

Do you identify more with the idea of devotion when it comes to slowing global warming and other environmental issues, or with the idea of sacrifice?

For example, I have a friend who lives almost 3,000 miles from her parents and flies to visit them. An avid tango dancer, she has traveled from Maine to Buenos Aries multiple times. Yet she does not own a car and has one of the smallest everyday carbon footprints of anyone I know. Yesterday she posted to Facebook the link to a New York Times article called Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change.

My friend wrote, “Biggest bang for an environmentally conscious individual's buck: Take fewer plane trips. This is heartbreaking for those of us who live far away from our dear ones. To choose between my family and the largest effect I can have on the planet (minuscule though I know it is) is an emotional toughie. Me: I'm doing everything I can, could I have a pass on this one? Mother Nature: (*cough hack wheeze*) No. Me: Ack.”

Where is she on the spectrum of feeling compelled by devotion to the planet versus feeling a sense of sacrifice? Only she can determine that for herself. Which is really what I’m trying to get at: whether a necessary act feel like a sacrifice to you or like an act of devotion in service of something greater than yourself is largely a matter of your perspective -- and that perspective, that sense of how you identify, can change.

Speaking of change, Venus is also changing sign, moving into Scorpio on Friday at 11:15 pm EST. Scorpio, ruled by Mars, is the sign opposite Taurus, one of the signs Venus rules. So Scorpio is not the most comfortable sign Venus can be in; passionate, yes -- but passion can become aggressive if you lose sight of your empathy.

Venus in Scorpio (especially trine the centaur planet Nessus in the first degree of Pisces) suggests a question this weekend: are you aware of the difference between ‘attracting and receiving’ in your sexual relationships, versus ‘getting and keeping’? More than semantics is implied in the language differences; this is a true contrast in how intimate exchanges can work -- or not work, as the case may be.

The question applies to how you are with money and material possessions, too, while Venus moves through Scorpio until the end of this month (rather appropriate for this gift-giving season). But this weekend, see if you notice a pattern, perhaps an old one, in how you relate to others sexually. Which approach opens the flow to sharing and expanding passion?

Finally, I want to call attention to a pair of squares in operation from now through the weekend. The first is Mercury in Sagittarius square Jupiter in Virgo, exact Friday at 7:53 am UTC. Speaking briefly, this may help you with long-range planning, though the details are easy to overlook. Expect to revisit the specifics after Mercury moves into Capricorn next week (and yes, I’d say this applies to holiday shopping and your Christmas or New Year’s plans). So, stay flexible.

The other major square is Mars in Libra square Pluto in Capricorn, exact Sunday at 3:52 pm EST. Reading this aspect one way, it brings us back to the protesters clashing with police in Paris, the non-violent environmental groups trying to get their voices heard, and the question of whether you have power and how you exercise it.

In its most mundane form, this square warns of power struggles, particularly in relationships (Libra) and between an individual and an institution (Capricorn). There’s also a caution here to avoid dangerous places or people, since Mars-Pluto aspects can describe violence; it’s possible that clashes in Paris will be exacerbated.

At the same time, Mars square Pluto increases energy and ambition in positive ways, according to astrologer Robert Hand. ‘Ambition’ gets tossed around as a dirty word because it’s easy to forget to integrate ambition with empathy, compassion, ethics and some level of spiritual depth or purpose. Without those other components, ambition becomes ruthless -- and any underhand actions taken now will likely come back to bite you in the ass.

However, combined with those positive attributes, Mars square Pluto can be used to creatively transform the world around you. That’s what environmental groups around the globe are trying to do for the survival of the planet; in one very literal example, an organization called Brandalism has created more than 600 faux ads around Paris blasting the hypocrisy of the COP21 corporate sponsors.

You could engage in much smaller-scale, local actions that would fit the astrology -- whether you’re energized by the need to slow global warming, or by the need to restructure business relationships and workspaces, or a desire to overhaul your home’s aesthetics. Wherever you direct your efforts, stay aware of anything that seems to polarize your consciousness or asks you to sacrifice your ethics and morals. There are many ways to get where you want to go, but not all means are justified by the ends.

Speaking of Brandalism, sacrifice


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