Article © 2015 by Joyce Mason
I had a profound insight in the past year about how fearful I am. I hadn’t realized the degree and frequency of my fears. I’ve just learned to live with them. They are my “normal.” I am afraid often about a lot of things. While not fearful to the level of paranoia or even chronic negativity, it is still exhausting to deal with anxiety and worries on an ongoing basis. I’d rather not.
If I could have only one t-shirt that says it all about me, it would have a single word on it—Gutsy. Courage isn’t an absence of fear. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. Another way to look at it: I’ve got plenty of opportunity to be gutsy.
For the sake of truth in advertising, I’ll admit that I am not good with physical danger. You’d never catch me hang gliding, mountain climbing or even riding a roller coaster or Ferris wheel. But when it comes to the inner journey and doing what seems emotionally risky or dangerous, if it’s the right thing to do, I’ll leap without a net if there’s no time to find or construct one.
Ruminating on fear and courage led me to a lot of questions about how astrology plays into our expression of these two opposites of paired emotion and action.
Fear stops while courage acts. For fully functioning human beings, fear and courage are an ongoing balancing act.
Which Planet Rules Fear?
I’m not sure I know the answer to this question. Many a well-known astrologer has argued for Saturn or Neptune. (This pair is the opinion of Rex E. Bills in is long respected reference, The Rulership Book.) I’d argue that any of the outers, including Chiron, can be scary—each in their own right. I’d love to spark a conversation on this issue. Whether natal stresses or transitory effects, here’s how I have experienced each of the PUNCs as hair raising:
Saturn – He can be the biggest party pooper on the planet, the energy that forces us to stop in our tracks and reconstruct areas of our lives that we’d rather leave status quo. Saturn’s an entire construction zone that blocks efficient freeway access. He causes ongoing bottlenecks in the workings of your day-to-day life. Worse, he sends you back to school to learn more about some subject when you’re often not in the mood to study. Sure, you’ll get a diploma in the end, but why doesn’t this campus have more extracurricular activities and less pop quizzes that are more like unexpected finals?
The Ruler of time itself, Saturn knows better than we do when a particular curriculum is up for mastering. He can be so inconvenient. (If they can do away with the military draft; why not the draft for advanced courses on being human?)
Chiron – Chiron represents your sore spot, your Achilles heel in some way, but also your shamanic heal. Most of us cringe, duck and cover whenever we think pain might be hurtling toward us. It’s a natural reaction. A survival instinct. And let’s not forget that even the healing part is riddled with bugaboos. Traditional shamanic work has something to do with ripping the patient apart and putting him or her back together again, reassembling an intact soul in the process. If the dismemberment isn’t literal; it’ll at least be figurative and psychological. Eek! Who’d sign up for that in a hurry?
However, the pain is presented is a catalyst. I this case, the Rx is working through the pain and unleashing the energy release that starts the divine domino effect toward wholeness. Still, meanwhile … ow …
Uranus – This God of Change throws lightning bolts like an Olympic javelin master, but on his own schedule, never yours. He teaches by surprises and upsets. His brand of fear is fomented by an energetic that contributes to wide mood swings and manic states that aren’t always helpful, like sleep disturbances. He’ll jolt you with aha’s on the upside, but on the downside, he’ll make you feel like you’re at the height of PMS or menopause regardless of your gender. You’ll feel out of control and have boomerangs and monkey wrenches in your path whenever you least expect it.
The upside to Uranus when it comes to fear can be found hidden in its unpredictable nature. That is, unless you’re a transit tracker by the day or hour or can’t keep your nose out of your natal chart for 15 minutes to live instead of second guessing what might happen. (Am I being too harsh on Astro-compulsions?) Think of how much more fear you whip up imagining all the possibilities for Uranus, rather than just letting it give you its surprise, pleasant or otherwise. You’ll probably guess wrong, anyway. (The nature of surprise is giving you what you’d least expect.) Save your energy. You’ll need it to deal with the Uranian energy surges.
Neptune – Who isn’t afraid of drowning in an ocean of feelings? Even good swimmers know about undertows and rip tides—and tsunamis. The water element can’t whip the face right off a species that cannot breathe in it.
Because Neptune and Pisces are so formless, their waves of fear are often extremely diffuse and therefore hard to address when you can’t even name them. The big issue here is loss of self into the sea of everyone. Personal annihilation. On its downside, Neptune can set your teeth chattering, just like being in the water too long and then hitting air. So beautiful on its artistic, oneness and spiritual side, but so genuinely uncomfortable on the other. If comfort involves a sense of control, Neptune generates fear by the sense of being totally lost at sea in a canoe at best.
Pluto - Who in their right might doesn’t shake in their boots when they see Darth Vader or the devil? The darkest side of Pluto is pure hell with all the archetypal imagery to go with it. Pluto transits are the most dreaded, and when you have a strong natal Pluto, people look at or hear about your chart and utter that deadly word, “interesting.” There is no winning with Pluto. Surrender is the only option and the journey through darkness is the only path to the other side. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn trust in the process. If you really ace the course, you’ll trade projection of the dark into owning your own and with it your personal power.
Which Planet Rules Courage?
Mars is obvious! (And by the way, Rex is with me on this one. He says Aries/Mars.) All the great swashbucklers and heroes are classically Aries-like in their natures, galloping away on a white charger or in a racy sports car to slay dragons or beat up bad guys. As the old Nike ads go, these supermen and women just do it. They often charge forth with little concern about the risks they’re taking and let bravado and adrenaline carry them off to the adventure and through it.
Think of your natal chart. How could your Mars counterbalance any stress you have from Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto?
In my case, I have one of the outers in square to ASC, Sun and Moon. But I have Mars trine Jupiter. The blessing? A big shot of courage that ultimately shakes me loose from the chronic fearfulness wrought by dealing with the gods of change every hour of every day.
What insights come from your Mars configuration? Is it easy or more challenging to be your own hero? If it’s difficult, do you have an easier time (flowing aspects) with any of the fear-potential planets to balance the picture?
There’s an upside and positive polarity of every planet in your chart. Examples from mine on how to harness them:
- When I can use my Pluto square ASC to help me
realize the power of my persona, I feel less like I’m up against Tony Soprano
and more like I’m channeling the pure power of love. (This is the higher level
of leading with a lot of Taurus Rising/Venusian charm.)
- When Neptune square Moon leaves me as
hypersensitive as a raw nerve, I can withdraw until I can cope better and in
the silence, hear the answers for me that are so close in psyche; I can almost breathe
- When Uranus supercharges my Sun in my one assignment too many as a change maker, I can draw on its flash insight quality to bring me just what I need to know about doing the job at the moment I need it. This leaves me rest periods in-between inspiration surges to recharge my own energy system.
Your personal fear/courage system is well worth exploring. Take a trip to your past and identify your most scary—and most courageous—moments. Match them up with transits of the outers (fear) and Mars (courage). Write down what you learn for further study.
One parting thought. Fear comes from uncertainty and our addiction to the status quo. Comfort is very overrated, and the PUNCs do not abide getting too used to things as they are. When you can cultivate an appreciation for the dynamic nature of life, the outer planets will seem less scary and more like the stimulus du jour. We say we crave excitement, but for most of us, that’s a big whopper, if we're really honest with ourselves. Most of us really want to find a groove and coast there. But if we coast too long, boredom sets in, a malady worse in many ways than transits of all the PUNCs combined, at once. At least the drama is exciting.
Balancing fear and courage is also about balancing excitement and same-old. The formula for just the right amount of each is personal, something you can experiment with and tweak as you get to know how to transmute fears by using the best qualities of the outer planets and the full potential of your Mars.
The Radical Reposts will continue with the next post on the Signs – Comparative.