cancer 2008

PLUTO'S move into your opposite sign Capricorn, which will unfold over the next year, is about your personal story. This is because the opposite signs work together as one entity. They form a polarity, and much of our spiritual work in a lifetime is to integrate the elements of that polarity; to embrace something we consider opposite ourselves. This is one reason why 'opposites attract' and why we spend so much time in relationships working out that which seems to have nothing to do with us.

Even under ordinary circumstances, without a potent opposition transit, this process can be challenging. Cancer is the sign of compassion and nurturing. It's soft and curvy and makes good food for everyone. Capricorn is the sign associated with commerce, obligation, structure and authority. While you could think of Cancer as representing mother and Capricorn as representing father, they are both feminine energies. To get into father territory, it's necessary to consider something masculine or solar, such as Leo or Aries.

Yet Cancer and Capricorn feel different, often opposite. In astrology there are many kinds of ways that opposites manifest. Polar opposite is just one of the more obvious ones.

More than you will be embodying Pluto (as Capricorn is doing), you are developing a direct relationship to the energy in some seemingly external form. In so doing, it's vital that you develop your understanding of two concepts from psychology: shadow and projection. They are related, because most of what people project is their shadow -- that which they don't want to accept about themselves, that which they perceive as different, and that which they don't understand.

You can read plenty of scary things about Pluto transits, and most of them will come from astrologers not personally acquainted with their own shadow material. Beware of any interpretation of any Pluto transit that does not start with wholesome discussion of self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Astrology is still having a very hard time with Pluto. But the context of this planet -- not the physical object, but our understanding of it -- is changing vastly. The discovery and naming of Eris revealed the existence, to the public, of some 136,000 objects orbiting the Sun. The solar system did not go from nine planets to nine planets plus Ceres and Eris. It went from being grossly oversimplified to so complex it's impossible to understand, in one gesture, and that gesture included the awareness of Eris.

She is very much the counterpart of Pluto, the female version of "all that we fear in the other." If Pluto (at its darkest) is the one who we fear will penetrate us physically against our will, kidnap us, threaten our lives and blaze through our existence mercilessly, Eris is the one who insinuates her way in by subtle design. She is jealous, envious and deceptive -- all of this associated with a kind of fate worse than death. And all of this is shadow projection, and it has its roots in denial.

What both Pluto and Eris point to are extraordinarily complicated psychological states below the surface layer of normal perception; below glamour, to which we are all so addicted in our culture; below our conscious intentions or desires. Both Pluto and Eris point the way to freedom from what we call ego -- that competitive, burdensome personality device that knows only fear. And they need to be seen in the context of one another.

Though this is covered in greater depth in the article Pluto in the Time of Eris, I can sum up the theory in a short paragraph. Men and women (you could say people, but let's stick with men and women for the moment) tend to be in denial about the profound effects they have on one another. We are all trained to go out of our way to conceal the fact that we are affected by someone else. We are taught to play it cool; to conceal our feelings; to deny them. Those who have gone beyond this charade one millimeter have had to plow through a mountain of resistance.

Pluto in your opposite sign is about encountering the other in a profound way. While you are doing that, you are almost guaranteed to meet your fears, your deepest needs, and see all that you have denied. Lest you fear that this will be a negative experience, I would remind you of two things. Pluto has already been in this approximate position for more than one year, so the process is begun. Second, the meaning of Pluto is changing. Its context is shifting as we begin to understand that death itself is an illusion, and thus all the things that exist as a result of the belief in death, and worship of death, are equally illusions, but ones that we must look at directly and see as such.

Once we do that, we can see life and love clearly. We know ourselves, and are free to live. This Pluto transit will do at least one thing, which is give you a sense of the depth from others that you crave. It will be up to you to be discerning, that is, to choose the people in your life carefully, so that you can choose experiences that you want, but that still provide the growth that you need.

The Need to be Needed

FOR YOUR SIGN the essence of life is to need and be needed.

That is a primal instinct for humanity, and you embody it: it is the spirit of the relationship between a mother and a child. Cancer is the sign of mothering; the sign of breasts, security and feelings. Breasts feed humanity when it is young, and they try to as it gets older. We may be a society that has lost the comfort of breasts, having sexualized them to the point where that has become nearly their only identity.

Breasts offer fulfillment. Yet there is, in every one of us, an empty space that cannot be fulfilled: that is, going back to our actual mother's warm breasts, if we were lucky enough to have met them. This is the need within the need, an existential emptiness we all share. This emptiness is a space, and depending on one's personal story, this space is either small or vast. In order to be as independent (or fullfilled) as we can, the idea of growth is to bring this space at its minimum size. At the very least, we need to be aware of that space and not make it the job of someone else to fill it up.

Capricorn is your relationship house, and for the next four seasons Pluto is making a transition into that house. This will turn up the intensity of your relationships, make you feel their presence in your life and emphasize two things: that quality of need that is so strong; and a deeper need to be free of structures that bind you and your loved ones into arrangements that consume too much energy. If the need is a healthy one, you will feel nurtured and independent; if the need is plagued by past deficiency and lacks, then you will feel dependent and hungry, and spend much of the foreseeable future working out that knot of emotion.

It's likely that the two (your need, and your need to be free) will coexist together for a while. It may seem a paradox, but it's not. You are embracing an intense need for mutual nourishment, perhaps to the point of obsession (though we'll discuss some options to this); while at the same time, you seem to be dismantling certain conventions or traditions that restrict us from getting those needs met because the structure consumes all the energy of the relationship. Yet for a while, it may seem like you're caught between two worlds -- the past and the future. You are: it's called the present. The present is the only place where choices can happen. We only choose in the now.

In many people and in society-at-large, we may see numerous retro movements flare up in reaction to the urgency for change. Humans like to make traditions, and then cling to them. For a while, you may struggle with the question of which of these traditions to keep and which to let go of; you may find yourself needing extremely dependable forms of relationship, but at the same time, craving contact and penetration that comes from something impersonal and anonymous. We often need to feel trapped in order to experience the need to go out. Most of the time experiencing what we think we need, going after it, and having it, is the only way to realize, either we don't want it, or that it is not enough. We run into real problems when we get to that spot -- and then get stuck there.

There is not an easy solution to this puzzle, but I can assure you that this setup will prompt you to focus on your relationships, and on creating awareness within them. With awareness, coupled with honesty and the willingness to listen, you have nearly total freedom. Pluto can have an unconscious tendency, much like Neptune, and we need to raise its awareness all the time; and that is achieved by taking time to look at things as they are, to describe them as they occur, and to say the words for what seems impossible to utter. It is a form of discipline, one that uses the present as a safe place to observe ourselves and if it is possible in the moment, to relate those observations.

The purpose of this is to ensure that you can actually feel yourself, and feel exactly who the people are in your life. You need to experience them for who they actually are -- not who you would have them be. In other words, if you look you will see the extent to which we make up stories about one another. This is a form of projection.

Taking this back is supposed to be scary territory, but I can pretty much assure you that it will be liberating. They, too, will have to get to know you for who you are and not who they imagine you are. All in all, this is a rare state of existence in relationships, which for the most part involve people pretending to know one another and pretending to be together.

You can be sure that in terms of relationship what is real will work and what is not real will not work; and for that you can be extremely thankful. For the most part, anyway. Where you need to be extremely careful is when you get into that gray area where you think that something works but it does not really work, or it works in a destructive way. Those are situations that will require what amounts to an extraordinary skill: not feeding what is negative, and doing your best to withdraw energy from it. For that, the medicine is to consciously practice the art of generating positive energy in the form of simple, clear awareness of what is so; and of making the choice to love any time you notice you have it available.

Feed what feeds your growth; invest energy into what supports your process of evolutionary change. You have time to learn this skill, assuming you have not been learning it already -- though it's extremely likely that the events of late 2007 taught you a lot about how to handle people seemingly more powerful than yourself. Basically, that can be summed up in a few techniques: apply love; seek the truth; remember your boundaries. No matter how powerful, important, sexy or rich someone is, you have the right to set limits in your life.

So while on one hand the theme is about experiencing others having an impact, it's also about doing your part to define the terms of that influence and guiding the energy into the most constructive channels. You will soon find out that you need to be clear about what is right and what is wrong, for you; and you will need to carefully but actually sidestep people whose influences you do not want.

The part that will make this tricky is your own desire to get involved, and by desire, I mean hormonal. You have had some intense cravings for involvement and in particular, sexual cravings -- but not nearly enough opportunities to bring them into real life. Your fantasy life has fed you, instigated your curiosity, at times even satisfied you, but that is not enough for a passionate, flesh-and-blood human being such as you are. At times when you are in this space of craving experience, you may welcome it deeply -- but have no idea where it's going to lead you.

In addition, if there was ever someone who could become sexually attached to another person from one experience of sex, you're that person. This is an emotional need, and you have it. But combine it with your state of sexual need and the potential is volatile. The sad truth is that not everyone you meet is as enlightened or has the openhearted intentions that you do. Not everyone cares about people, and some of the ones who care the very least are attracted to the ones who care the most. For their part, the ones who care want to treat everyone with compassion, including those who would not be healthy for them; I think you get the picture.

Yet you need what you need: contact of the sexual, emotional and psychological kind. You need validation and you need attention. And all people -- all people though I am one of the few writers who admits this -- need variety, variation and change in their sexual encounters. People will be available to give you all of those things, but they are not. That potential in itself may be so shocking that you might feel free to throw down your guard and forget any discernment, but that would be really stupid. So, instead, you have to be clever about getting your needs met, and check out carefully anyone who is interested in you. Watch for patterns in the first minutes or days; people often seem difficult to discern, but typically will announce their intentions in the first five minutes after appearing. Listen to what they say and take heed.

If the encounter is sexual, you should be able to tell after the first encounter who is who; who will be beneficial for you and who will not. If you ask the question, you will be more likely to get an answer. If you need to ask more than once, ask yourself why. If you pay attention to your reactions and responses, you will be more likely to give yourself the clues you need to make a real decision. This process of honest inner dialogue is the basis of your ethics; with self-interrogation you can check in to ensure that the power of your cravings does not blind you. Self-protection comes from this inner commitment. But it is worth nothing if you don't take some chances.

Your Resources

In what promises to be an intense and deep time that extends over a period of years, you have one thing going for you above all else. That is, people need -- for their sake as much as your own -- to honor their contracts with you. You also need to honor yours with them, but that you have control over as long as you only make promises you know you can keep, and I suggest that this be your policy. Any time you are asked to make a commitment, or offer to do so, stop and ask if you can really come through; ask yourself how hard it will be; ask if you really want to.

The more important matter is that, with the awareness that you are in integrity, you hold others to their agreements to you. No matter who they are, you have the power to do this: when it comes to enforcing contracts, agreements and commitments, you are extremely compelling. But to do so you must be impeccably honest about keeping up your end -- then hold the world to what it said it would do, or said it would not do.

By all rights, you are exceptionally good with money. You are resourceful and you have ideas for how to create more of the stuff. Where you are in a potentially difficult spot, and need to really pay attention, involves our socialist leanings, and your agreements with others. The upshot is that, if you had the resources to do so, you could easily set up shop as a charity and be quite happy.

Unfortunately, that is not how our culture works. We need access to one another's resources as a way of life. For a long time this whole process has eluded you, but you're going to see what you've been missing. In other words, as certain aspects come into focus, particularly Chiron conjunct Neptune, you will begin to see what is available, who is available and much else that you have not been able to discern. The key, however, is maintaining a high level of awareness, in particular of mutual needs.

The people you want to be exchanging with, trading with, doing business with, working for, and borrowing and lending with, are people who share mutual needs. That can be the need to eat, to create, to build community, or any number of possibilities. But you need to seek and find the common ground, which will preferably not be based on a sense of lack, but rather on the desire to prosper. Too often the poor stick together and reaffirm all the beliefs that make poverty consciousness intractable. It is not, and you don't need to see it that way, but you need to move directly toward a way to freedom -- and if you do, you will find it.

Your Professional Life

You are in a visioning process for your professional life -- let it be conscious. Most people are trapped on one level of success because they cannot see themselves on any other; or if they do, it's a kind of fantasy. A vision is different than a fantasy in that it is an active, alive process rather than replaying a movie.

Who you are is a process you vision every day. But usually the story is defensive, that is, compensating for something you feel you lack; or it is strategic, designed to manipulate or convince others of something. The visioning process you need is something that is born of originality, to create something new in the world, which is an expression of yourself with a role in the world.

You have an extremely dynamic career chart, now and always, and one of the reasons why it's so dynamic is because you have to project your personality into it. What you now need to do is imagine the person you would be at your most successful. How would you feel, first of all? How would you look? What would you do every day? The chances are it is different than what you do now, but how, exactly?

Then you can begin being that person now. You will stretch into this role, and the feeling of it, not like putting on a costume but rather like becoming something or someone from the inside. This may sound simplistic; I am keeping it simple and direct. All I can suggest is that you try it.

Remember that everything involving your work or profession is a visioning process -- right down to the stamp you put on an envelope containing your résumé, or whether you have a résumé at all. This includes how you describe what you do, who you are and how you present yourself.

One thing I can tell you is this: you're a lot more visible than you think, and your visions have more power than you've ever imagined.