Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Astrology of Fear and Courage

 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:

SaturnHe 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?)

ChironChiron 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?

Your Choices

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 them in.
  • 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.


Photo Credit: © Gajus

The Radical Reposts will continue with the next post on the Signs – Comparative.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Radical Reposts: The Signs – Individual

Dear Radical Readers,

It took almost a half year to get through the reposts on the planets. Time to move on to rediscover or re-enjoy posts that focus on the 12 signs. There are two types: articles that explore an individual sign and those that compare the Tribe of Twelve.

We’ll start with articles that target specific signs. The vast majority of “sign” articles are comparative. The singletons are highlighted this round. Naturally, because this is The Radical Virgo blog, the most sign articles are about Virgo. For a year, I did articles on each New Moon. Although they are time-specific about how the Moon colored the month ahead back then, there’s also a lot of information that pertains to each Moon sign overall. So, I’m including them. The sign archetype has the same generic qualities regardless of the planet it modifies. Whether it is the sign of your Sun, Moon, Mercury or whatever just means the planet has those sign characteristics in the area of life each planet represents.

Signing off for now—or is it on?—


I coined this expression for a friend with five planets in Ram, whenever it’s obvious that she and God operate on different calendars. I told her once, “You need to practice the P-word.” She had no idea what word I was talking about.  Short on the P-word, Patience: Aries typically want everything yesterday. The Ram charges forward, horns first, bursting with exuberant, fiery energy.

Moonwalk: Aries (27-Mar-11)

Note: This one’s worth opening for the unique Aries artwork!
I imagine this Ram Goddess pictured to be lingering in one of the few rare moments of quiet where Lunar Aries might actually pause and let her fiery nature simmer. The occasion? Looking up at the Moon to contemplate her next new birth.

Well over 40 years ago, my sister Janet and my brother Don made me an auntie with the birth of their children, just two years apart. At the time, I had not yet studied astrology. While I had more than a passing curiosity about it, I don't remember ever thinking much about the fact that both these kids had Aries Sun. How poetic with the Aries penchant for being first that the child who first made me an aunt—Robbie— was an Aries. And as for Dawn, she was my first niece. How fitting they’d both be Aries, both of them firsts in my auntiehood, each in their own way.


Moonwalk: Taurus (27-Apr-11)
Love. Beauty. Luxury. The Taurus Moon is a nice place to visit where comfort in the body feels fabulous. I'd even want to live there. Moon in Taurus feels like a spa day ...

Beauty is like a Jupiter Transit. It’s a drive-by cute-ing. It brings great gifts but its duration feels way shorter than any of the more challenging transits from Saturn through the outer planets. When an individual has an abundance of Taurus or Libra in his or her chart, especially in the position of Ascendant, Sun, Moon, or Venus itself, s/he … is influenced by Venus.


Moonwalk: Gemini (30-May-11)
Two-in-One. The facet of Gemini most people know, even if they barely know anything about astrology, is the Twins' famous split personality. If Gemini were born as a singleton symbol, s/he would create a sibling or partner just to have someone to talk to. Chatty, quick, and versatile, this Moon sign is all about communication. 


Moonwalk: Cancer (07-Jul-10)
In High Signs 1: Living on the Upside of the Zodiac, I identified containment as the key Cancerian issue. Cancer Moon must find a safe container for all her feelings. This invisible bowl or goblet is the Holy Grail of our inner life, regardless of Moon sign. If you have Moon in Cancer, this container is of utmost importance. The bigger the emotions (water signs or aspects to Neptune, for example), the bigger, safer and more secure your vessel must be to hold all your feelings.

With Sun, Vesta, Mars and Uranus all in Cancer, there was something familial about Robin. He felt very adoptable, very ours. Even though he was an international celebrity, he was such a treasure to our Cancer country; even President Obama eulogized him on the day of his death for all his contributions.


Moonwalk: Leo (04-Aug-10)
Cool Leo Qualities - Adopt some of these positive Leo qualities in this month’s endeavors: Warmth, charm, charisma, childlike, fun, entertaining, generous, sincere, paternal, enthusiastic and creative. (Where do I buy a gallon of that?)

I hypothesize that discomfort with public presentations has something to do with the Sun in our charts and/or the 5th house, Leo's natural domain. Leo, ruled by the Sun, tells us performing has something to do with fire—being stoked.


This was the launch post of this blog. Maybe you’re wondering why I’m starting a blog inspired by an article I wrote so many years ago. “The Radical Virgo” is timeless, reposted numerous places on the Internet since its original publication in The Mountain Astrologer. I have gotten trickles, even streams of readers, who tell me how much the article has changed their concept of Virgo—even their lives, if Virgo is their Sun sign and/or they have an abundance of planets in Virgo. I have noted in web searches that the term “Radical Virgo” has been coined and propagated, applied to some of the world’s most Radical of Virgos, such as Amy Winehouse.

The Radical Virgo (11-May 11-09)
It's as though the Virgoan side of Virgo is an expert at rehearsal (which is why Virgos tend to love classical music with all of those predetermined notes). By contrast, the Piscean underside of Virgo is the improviser—the person who plays by ear (which is why s/he can hear Spirit). Each talent is appropriate at certain times, and complementary, but either can be useless noise if taken to extremes. In that case, there is form without feeling or feeling without form. 

Moonwalk: Virgo (03-Sep-10)
Virgos are drawn to occupations that involve the use of their hands—writing, editing, cleaning, nursing, accounting—because their hands hold their emotional intelligence.

Exploring the Sign of Virgo and the Cusp of Autumn. Many of you already know that this blog was named after an article I wrote in The Mountain Astrologer in 1992 called “The Radical Virgo.” Judging by its popularity for more than two decades, the original “Radical Virgo” is timeless. Timeless as the article is on one hand, the ideas expressed in “The Radical Virgo” about updating our image of the sign with a more modern look could still use a few more nips and tucks for its ultimate makeover. I’m ready to bring the Radical Virgo archetype into the Information and Digital Age. 

Information Synthesis and Global Service. This is a continuation of The Radical Virgo, an article I wrote in 1992 that inspired the name and creation of this blog. It’s an update and an expansion, and if you haven’t read the timeless original yet, I recommend as a prequel to this article.

The Virgin Myths (09-Sep-13)
To understand the sign of Virgo more deeply, I wanted to research the Virgo myth and ponder its connection to our modern times. The constellation of Virgo has been a cosmic stage with many mythical characters, but they all reflect the same themes of maidens, purity and fertility. "The Virgo myth should not be interpreted as a woman who is a virgin, but rather a nurturing woman who is a mother to all of the earth. " ~ Gods and Monsters

With the outbreak of so many dread diseases, Ebola being just one of them, the whole human race is becoming savvy to what Virgos have known all along. Hygiene counts! Healthy, Natural Food. Healthy food choices are no longer the realm of veg heads and/or Virgos or people with too many planets in the sixth house. People want pure, unadulterated, non-GMO, non-bug-sprayed food.


Moonwalk: Libra (04-Oct-2010
The opening image in this post is the epitome of calm and balance. But when Libra Moon is upset, s/he seems more to me like an angry Aries with a Gemini split personality.  (The duality of the two Scales surely contributes to the potential for two Libras—one Up, one Down.) While temporarily “loony,” the Libra Moon possessed by anger dips high and low in a way that can feel frightening. Think of a pair old-fashioned scales jerking up and down wildly, no balance in sight. You might even find it hard to believe that Venus rules this normally sweet Moon sign when its native is temporarily enraged.

Repeated from above under Taurus, the other Venus-ruled sign:

Beauty is like a Jupiter Transit. It’s a drive-by cute-ing. It brings great gifts but its duration feels way shorter than any of the more challenging transits from Saturn through the outer planets. When an individual has an abundance of Taurus or Libra in his or her chart, especially in the position of Ascendant, Sun, Moon, or Venus itself, s/he … is influenced by Venus.


Moonwalk: Scorpio  (03-Nov-10)
Get naked under the New Moon! Even though the Moon in this photo is Full (New Moons are almost invisible and hard to capture), the idea's the same. The Scorpio Moon is time for emotional and physical intimacy.

Scorpio for a Day  (26-Oct-09)
Halloween is the one day a year we can all be Scorpios for a day! It's even expected of us! Then I got to thinking: How would each sign of the zodiac “do Scorpio?” Naturally, some signs might be more predisposed to Scorpio’s well-known darkness, power tripping, and sex mania. (OK, to be fair, their extreme depth and natural abilities to transform themselves.) Here’s my best guess on what this masquerade party would look like. I’d call it my Halloween Scorp-Off. You’re invited. 

There was a convincing case made by the late David Solté and others about Scorpio Rulership for the USA chart. Café Neptune offers a brief comparative analysis of the most popular rising sign charts of the USA. Given that more US citizens are Scorpios than any other sign, maybe it’s another “sign” that the Scorpio Rising chart is worth a second look.


Moonwalk: Sagittarius  (03-Dec-10)
One thing Sag always has is a point, represented by the Archer’s arrow. And it’s a sharp point. Whether the point wounds or pierces consciousness, as in a wake-up call—just like the Scorpio’s stinger, Sag’s arrow needs to be used carefully and with integrity. My Sag-Moon ex-husband had a wonderful expression that goes with that arrow. “You don’t have to kill a flea with a cannon.” No need to launch an arrow if a nice tap on the shoulder will get someone to listen to what you’ve got to say.


Moonwalk: Capricorn  (31-Dec-10)
I’m one kind of Goat Moon. There are many others. I decided this was my chance to explore my herd and hope you’ll be as fascinated as I am by these often-comical looking creatures. Some other goat characteristics to contemplate for their application to Capricorn Sun and Moon: Both male and female goats have beards and horns. They are visually androgynous. All breeds have a woolly undercoat in winter for which Angoras are bred. (If you think Cap Moons aren’t warm, you just haven’t gotten to know them well enough for a hug while they’re wearing their undercoat!)  Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species. (Think of the application to long-term relationship potential.)


Moonwalk: Aquarius  (29-Jan-11)
I barely had to seek an image for this month's Aquarius Moonwalk; this one found me. The dramatic combination of moon, lightning and especially the monolith reminded me of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey

Some astrologers consider the Galactic Center the second most important point in any personal chart, next to the Sun. Focal in the chart of Hair, the GC points us beyond a planetary perspective to a galactic one. No wonder this musical carried to the cultural consciousness the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” a galactic event. Hair set the alarm clock, even if no one was sure just when it would go off and the dawn would arrive.


Moonwalk: Pisces (01-Mar-11)
While the picture for last month's Moonwalk: Aquarius found me, searching for the right art to illustrate Pisces Moon this month was—illusive! This photo called me, in the end, because it had so many Piscean characteristics. First, it’s a little confusing and foggy. Are we in the sky or sea? There appear to be stars and the Moon peeking through, but last I knew; fish don’t fly. Initially, the swirling school looked like silhouettes of small Plecostomus fish I might find in my home aquarium. On closer look, they might be big—and sharks. Welcome to the gauzy world of Pisces Moon where one moment’s perception gives way to another and all things merge into a liquid sensory medium where it’s hard to know which end is up—or the difference between what is benevolent or a danger.

Guest Post by Sandra Mosley. Would you like to increase your understanding of how the astrological archetypes express themselves in your life? The abundance of planetary activity currently in Pisces suggests you might find your answer by creating a set of SoulCollage®cards based on your natal chart.

A poem that captures the heart of the Fish archetype during a Pisces overload, made even more inner and contemplative by Mercury Retrograde and Void Moon.


Photo Credit: © passiflora70 -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The 400th Post! Reflections on Looking Back

Faded photograph
 My year senior yearbook picture - 1965

This Mercury Retrograde, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and reminisce—a couple of the “re” words that Mercury Retro is good for. I’m on the cusp of my 50th high school reunion. The reconnections and remembering have been beyond the best for me and thoroughly exciting. Enhanced by communications in advance, made possible by today’s modern tools—a class website and Facebook page—the reunion is already in full swing in cyberspace.

Par for the Queen of Synchronicity, my big reunion back in the ‘burbs of Chicago, takes place September 11-12 while the Sun is in Virgo. My co-editor on the feature page of our high school newspaper has invited me to stay with her—to reprise our creative synergy and renew our friendship. Ann is also a Radical Virgo, born earlier in the month of September than Tim and me. (Hubby has generously let me off the hook to celebrate his birthday till I get back, since it’s smack in the middle of the reunion.) There’s nothing like looking back from the wisdom years when you can finally make some sense of your life. High school for me was like the delicious center of an Oreo whose outer layers were as dark as those cookies are near black.

Tim and Me at my 8th grade
graduation party
In junior high, we had just moved to Evanston. I was lost and interpreted many of my classmates’ behavior as rejection, coming off being one of the most popular girls at my old school on the South Side. When I attended the 50th reunion of my grammar school class in 2011, I realized most of the rejection I interpreted was probably imagined. What I was experiencing were the lame social skills of adolescents. Especially back then, kids weren’t exactly trained 12 in the art of making someone feel welcome. Most of my classmates had known each other since kindergarten. Their clusters and friendships were solid and hard for an outsider to break into, at what was tantamount to the last minute.

College was the other dark half of the cookie. It was my first time away from home, and I had much more separation anxiety than I ever anticipated. I felt totally out of my element and emotionally fragile. This was where I uncovered my deep attachment to my parents and the thick far reach of my mom’s apron strings.

Ah, but high school! Here was the first place I found my niche, not only friendship-wise but vocation-wise. It was where my passion for writing first flourished. I don’t have to mention to the Chironophiles in the Radical Virgo crowd that the number 50 is very important here. In the case of each reunion, grammar school and high school, my reconnection with my classmates occurred on the class Chiron Return. The grammar school reunion was life-changing for the way it healed old wounds. I expect the high school reunion to be nonetheless profound. Grammar school was the wounding side of Chiron. High school? The whole-making aspect. This is why I’m so looking forward to it.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with the price of eggs and the 400th post on The Radical Virgo, which our next one will be. These musings caused me to rediscover a chapter in my memoir on the back burner called “The Newspaper Niche.” (They also caused me to realize the redirection and new version of that book needs to move to the front burner.) The newspaper was much more than an incubator for my creativity. It was the first time I found my tribe and learned to recognize kindred spirits. I still tear up every time I read the conclusion of that chapter, because the even bigger life skill I acquired in the Journalism Room was finding my people.

If you count every 50 posts as a metaphorical Chiron cycle, we’re on our 8th “Chiron Return” on The Radical Virgo.

I like to think that I have also been finding my tribe in our 400 encounters here on The Radical Virgo. The reposts (more “re” words) have allowed me to reread many of my offerings here and to conclude again what I have known for some time. If I’m a good writer, it’s because I have an open enough mind to let inspiration come through me. I’ll often think to myself, “Where did I get that?” The owner of a humble Sun sign, I cannot take credit for this talent, as it is clearly some portion of the divine streaming through my cranial Roku box. I just had to turn on the remote.

Of all the times in my life, the Radical Virgo replicates the best of high school where the J-Room was populated with a large supply of brainiacs whose intelligence, at first, was intimidating to me. (I later learned that being raised by blue collar, minimally educated adoptive parents; I had no idea till I mingled with my fellow scribes that I had a pretty big brain myself.) I’m a huge fan of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary was clearly a Virgo, and “dumb” was one of her favorite words. She’d say, “That’s so high school,” when something was both dumb and immature.

My high school experience was a lot more mature than many people’s. I’m glad I’ve been able to bring it with me to 400 posts in the J-Room of this blog. And I hope you enjoy yourself half as much as I do here in our own High School.


NEXT WEEK: The Radical Reposts continue with The Signs, the actual 400th post!