Tag Archive | psychology

Mercury Retrograde with New Moon in Taurus: It’s not depression – you’re just demoralized, and it’s deliberate

As the current Mercury Retrograde in earthy Taurus allows us to direct our mental faculties inwardly, and the Taurus New Moon allows both inner and outer modes of consciousness, rational and instinct, head and heart, to align for a moment, we can ask ourselves why it is that mental vulnerability is so on the increase.

Mercury retrogradeWhen I left university in the eighties, depression was known to affect some in society around the age of 30, but currently researchers say first onset can occur at age 15. Duke University researcher Stephen Izard describes how the rate of depression in the West seems to be doubling every generation. This implies that basically every second person of 18-29 years old will be depressive by mid life, and what’s more, in the next generation after that, everyone will be depressed.

Consciousness expression is moving fast this century, much like global climate change, creeping toward the future like a glacier in the summer. One year it’s there and the next it’s vanished up the mountain. And as consciousness finds newer and newer forms of expression, enhanced by new tech, the average state of mind could be morphing into something likened to depression. But the research shows that what we so easily label as depression is something else up to 60% of the time, proven again by the even poorer success rate of pharmaceutical anti-depressants. The bottom line is that in more accurate terms, most struggling minds are actually suffering from demoralization. And there are no drugs to cure being demoralized.

As Mercury Retrograde transits earthy, sensual Taurus this May, the ability to look realistically at our state of mind now is invaluable. What it reveals is that many who should be at the prime age and vigour of life are so absorbed by the allure of sense gratification, driven by the corporate media machine that entrains them into consumers, that lack of depth and meaning leaves them actually suffering from a “culturally generated demoralization”. This is the great existential disorder of our time, a symptom of the digital and thus depersonalised era. Demoralization implies that one feels disoriented when it comes to locating any meaning to life, or even purpose to one’s existence. One feels oneself in a “psycho-spiritual crisis” as life and the world as it appears or was presented to us by our elders, seems to lose credibility. Even earlier beliefs and convictions, held so strongly in earlier years, begin to dissolve under doubt and loss of direction. The moral compass is pulled in all directions.

Mercury retrogradeAncient texts of wisdom in the psycho-spiritual sciences, like Bhagavad Gita, mention for example in ch16 txt21 that “There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul”. That is a clear description of our current cultural malaise, written down over 5000 years ago. Society is led by their senses like a bull by the nose. The tablet or screen is the medium through which corporations allure the masses toward buying, by arousing their lust for sense objects. Playing on their lust fuels their feelings of anger when the satisfaction does not last. And greed is aroused when the satisfaction doesn’t seem to be enough to really bring the happiness we dream of. We thus are trapped in the cycle of constantly wanting more. And while the corporations make money off us, we lose the taste for the real goal of life. And so demoralization sets in as one feels like one is in a lost cause. The irony though is that this is not a mental disorder. This is an honest and real response to the cultural circumstances inflicted on us.

Basically modern consumer culture is engineered to subtly promote in society qualities like materialism, hyper-competition, overwork, overconsumption, debt and a sense of constant hurriedness or excessive pressure. This all undermines coping and is negative for psychological well-being. What’s more, good qualities like trust, friendship, confidentiality, community and spiritual inquiry are diminished. People even lose touch with ancient sources of wisdom that are gradually pushed out of circulation due to lack of transmission. What’s left is a dried up, passive life, robbed of other good qualities, like patience, determination, resilience, self-restraint and intestinal fortitude for life. Short attention span and overindulgence become the norm.

The ability to identify for oneself an actual “philosophy of life” is a dying art, and without any guiding principles or existential compass, many gravitate toward consumerism, led by commercials, in what Noam Chomsky calls a “philosophy of futility”. We forget who we are as well as our sense of power beyond the sensory or material body. Adrift in the shallows of life, the psyche becomes dispirited, lacking inspiration. When mundane tasks designed to merely satisfy low level desires take up our time, we can’t help but become bored and jaded. This is a cultural failure. Consumer culture has created an existential vacuum that fails to meet the needs of modern society at a deeper level. Lacking is a sense of belonging, of true identity, with communal activities diminished, ritual and ceremony absent, we become ungrounded or rootless in time and society. This is actually a type of cultural insanity, and being normal is no longer the healthy option.

Human culture has mutated into a sociopathic marketing machine dominated by economic priorities and psychological manipulation. Leading this hostile takeover of the collective psyche are increasingly sophisticated propaganda and misinformation industries that traffic the illusion of consumer happiness by wildly amplifying our expectations of the material world.” Thus says John F Schumaker, retired psychology academic and writer. And what an apt description.

The current Taurus transit of Mercury and several other planets, like Sun and Venus, triply amplify the awareness of our own level of sense indulgence as a substitute for a meaningful life of purpose. Once that accumulates, we can no longer ignore the disappointment and inner starvation as our soul’s needs are neglected. This all feeds into our demoralization. Imagine being born and raised into a culture with no future or hope for a better tomorrow. Millennials who see from the outset of their lives already how dire the ecology, the economy and the future appears, can’t help but become disillusioned by this insane cultural reality of the modern era. Imagine being raised to follow a consumer ideology that will knowingly deplete the planet, destroy species and contaminate with toxic waste most of the globe in our lifetime. No wonder we become blunted and de-sensitised to the destruction our culture inflicts on the rest of the world. Welcome to the Z(ombie) generation. Generation X and Y have come and continued the degradation installed by the Baby Boomers after the World Wars, and now the Z’s watch it all go up in flames at the end. Or so it seems.

How do we rebuild our unconscious foundations and uplift ourselves from demoralization? You can’t prescribe pharmaceuticals for a cultural malaise. To be effective we need to undergo honest introspection, soul-searching or self-observation. We need cultural deprogramming, and character training and a new world view which includes the world of nature once more. Mercury retrogradeThe entire sick culture needs to be treated more than just the individuals themselves. We can’t adjust to an insane society. Society needs to adjust to the actual real needs of the people. Better advisers are needed to assist governments. The current distortions of sham democracy and capitalism need to be revised. For they are the guardians of the current insanity. A cultural revolution is needed once again. Credibility needs to be instilled in the system for the masses, and that usually comes from a credible cause or credible leadership.

You would think that during this month of multiple Taurus planetary transits, that we would see the need of our dear earth and her helpless inhabitants in all bodies, and take that to be a credible reason with meaning to spur us on to purposeful action. Once the Mercury retrograde is over in a few weeks, and moving direct again, we can expect the wheels of revolution to turn internally and externally, among those who have overcome the demoralised mode and are done with it, ready now to overthrow the diseased system of our forefathers and usher in next stage of consciousness evolution – The Spiritual Warrior.

Reference: http://newint.org/columns/essays/2016/04/01/psycho-spiritual-crisis/

Source: https://julescape.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/mercury-retrograde-with-new-moon-in-taurus-its-not-depression-youre-just-demoralized-and-its-deliberate/

You are what you think

You are what you thinkDo we really believe the enhanced versions of ourselves that we offer up to the world? How accurately do we really perceive ourselves, especially when looking at our astrological horoscopes? In a survey of a million high school seniors, 25% considered themselves in the top one percent and only 2% considered themselves to be below average. Even amongst university professors 94% said they did above average work. Psychologists call this tendency for inflated self-assessment the “above-average effect” and it has been documented repeatedly in numerous contexts from driving ability to managerial skills. This kind of inflation has been found amongst all types of people, from military men to doctors and particularly in the corporate world, despite opposing opinions from their superiors, subordinates or patients. However, when we look at the texts on spiritual awakening, we see that it is humility which is said to be the greatest quality, the true symptom of progress. “One should be more tolerant than a tree, lower than the straw in the street” (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, 16th century saint). This is because spirituality teaches transcendence of the ego. The symptoms of awakening are detachment from the false ego, from the temporary body and mind.

Nevertheless, in the mundane world the stronger the threat to feeling good about yourself, the greater the tendency to view reality through a distorting lens. In his classic book “How to win friends and influence people” Dale Carnegie described the self-image of famous mobsters of the 1930’s. Dutch Schultz, Al Capone and others simply saw themselves as business tycoons or benefactors of the people. Ironically people tend to recognise that inflated self-assessment and overconfidence can be a problem – but only in others. So what’s actually going on here? In 1959 the psychologist Milton Rokeach placed 3 psychiatric patients together in a state hospital. They all believed they were Jesus Christ. Since at least two of them had to be wrong, he wondered how they would process this idea. It turns out that one did relinquish his belief, the second saw the others as mentally ill, while the third managed to dodge the issue completely. So in this case two out of three patients managed to hang on to a self-image at odds with reality. The disconnect may be less extreme, but the same could be said to be true of many of us. We may even – if we simply bothered to pay attention – notice that our self-image is not quite in synch with the objective image that others have of us. Generally our ego fiercely fights to defend its honour. It used to be just lunatics, but today it is accepted by researchers in psychology that even normal healthy individuals tend to think of themselves not just as competent, but even proficient, even if they aren’t.

Consider in this analogy how the mind uses two ways to get to the truth: the way of the scientist or the way of the lawyer. Scientists gather evidence, form theories explaining their observations, then test them. Lawyers begin with a conclusion they want to convince others of, and then seek evidence that supports it, while attempting to discredit evidence that doesn’t. The human mind is designed to be both a conscious scientist seeking objective truth and an unconscious lawyer impassioned in the search for what we want to believe. And these approaches compete in our minds to create our world view. Ultimately the usual direction in thought processes consistently tends to point from belief to evidence, not vice versa. So it turns out the brain is a decent scientist but an outstanding lawyer. Thus when we paint our self-image, the unconscious blends fact and illusion, exaggerating our strengths and minimising our weaknesses. The conscious mind then innocently admires the self-portrait we create, believing it to be a work of photographic accuracy. Psychologists call this approach taken by our unconscious lawyer mind “motivated reasoning”. It helps us believe in our own goodness and competence, to feel in control, and to see ourselves in an overly positive light. Fortunately our minds have a great ally: ambiguity. This helps us build a narrative of ourselves, of others and of our environment that fuels us in good times and gives us comfort in bad. As a result our unconscious mind can choose from a whole menu of interpretations to feed our conscious mind. In the end we feel like we are chewing on facts, though we’re actually snacking on a preferred conclusion. In fact biased interpretations of ambiguous events are at the heart of some of our most heated arguments. Researchers have stated that “ The same sensory experiences emanating from life, transmitted through the visual mechanism to the brain…give rise to different experiences in different people…There is no such thing as life existing out there in its own right which people merely observe.” Even amongst scientists, people’s views of the evidence are highly correlated to their vested interests. Studies have shown that research physicians with financial ties to pharmaceutical companies are significantly more likely than independent reviewers to report findings that support the sponsors’ drugs and less likely to report findings that contradict it.

Researchers have mapped in the brain the differing literal pathways used in computing cold, objective analysis versus other pathways used on emotionally laden moral judgements. So what techniques of subliminal reasoning do we employ to support our preferred world views? Our conscious minds are not total fools, so “motivated reasoning” won’t work if it stretches credulity too far, for then our conscious mind would start to doubt and the self-delusion game would be over. The balance must maintain the “illusion of objectivity.” Of course in some spiritual circles, sometimes profoundly abstract or unreal scenarios are presented as gospel, and it is then that the adherents seem to apply what could be called “suspension of disbelief”. This is the same strategy used by the mind when watching a movie, for example. Even though we know we are safely seated in our chairs at home or in a theatre, still we become gravely fearful, or tragically sad, as if the scene were real. Similarly, even when we are told religious truths that totally contradict our knowledge and experience of reality, we don’t disbelieve them, but rather we suspend our usual disbelief and we take on board that very “truth”, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

We all like to bolster our preferred views. People find reasons to support their political candidate despite serious credible accusations of wrongdoing, but take even third-hand negative rumour about an opposing politician as proof of their incompetence. Similarly when we want to believe a certain fact, even numerous scientific researches to the contrary will not give us reason to disbelieve. This is exactly what happened in the climate change debate. Through “motivated reasoning” each side finds ways to justify its favoured conclusion and discredit the other, while maintaining a belief in its own objectivity. And so those on both sides of important issues may sincerely think that theirs is the only rational interpretation. Those who disagree with us are not necessarily duplicitous or dishonest in their refusal to acknowledge the obvious errors in their thinking. More important, it would be enlightening for all of us to face the fact that our own reasoning is often not so perfectly objective either. It is an old cliché, but the experience of walking in the other person’s shoes does seem to be the best way to understand their point of view. And research suggests that the subtlety of our reasoning mechanisms allows us to maintain our illusion of objectivity even while viewing the world through our biased lens. Our decision-making process does not break the rules, but it bends them and we perceive ourselves as forming judgements in a bottom-up manner, using data to draw a conclusion, while we are in reality deciding top-down, using our preferred conclusion to shape our analysis of the data. So when we apply “motivated reasoning” to assessments of ourselves, we produce that positive picture of a world in which we are all above average.

Taken a step further, even Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was famous for his ability to create what has come to be called a “reality distortion field” where he convinced himself and others that they could accomplish whatever they set their minds to. And everyone has this gift in their unconscious, built upon our natural propensity to engage in “motivated reasoning”. For, according to some, belief in oneself is ultimately a positive force in life. Our unconscious is at its best when it helps us to create a positive and fond sense of self, a feeling of power and control in a world full of powers far greater than the merely human. Psychological literature is full of studies showing the personal and social benefits of holding positive “illusions” about ourselves. “Motivated reasoning” enables our minds to defend us against unhappiness, and in the process it gives us the strength to overcome the many obstacles in life that might otherwise overwhelm us. The more we do it, the better off we tend to be, for it seems to inspire us to strive to become what we think we are. “Fake it ’til you make it”, as they say. Otherwise – ironically – studies show that people with the most accurate self-perceptions actually tend to be moderately depressed, suffer from low self-esteem, or both. Perhaps they would fit in with the spiritually aware who have realised their true nature and the fallacy of their ego. Yet psychologically speaking, overly positive self-evaluation, on the other hand, is considered normal and healthy. So apparently as we confront the world, unrealistic optimism can be a life vest that keeps us afloat. I wonder who is right. What do you think?

Subliminal – The new unconscious and what it teaches us; by Leonard Mlodinow (2012)
Caitanya Caritamrita; translation and commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami; BBT

Mercury square Mars so keep a cool head

astrology, Mercury square MarsMercury is in a square (90 degree) alignment to Mars this week, suggesting that the actions of the mind and speech may be energised to the point of being potentially overactive and somewhat heated. An energised mind is great if you can find a healthy outlet, otherwise the tendency to argument and an opinionated stance may arise. If you need to defend your stance or fight for a cause, like a lawyer or some such campaigner you may be able to benefit from this alignment, but if you’re amongst friends and family then just be careful not to get into a needless heated debate about something unnecessary or insignificant. You don’t want to ruin the friendship just because someone moved your cheese. The problem is that you may come to a conclusion as to who moved your cheese based on inconclusive evidence or unwarranted suspicion, thus jumping down the throat of the wrong person to look for your cheese or finding crumbs where there are none. Under today’s circumstances our judgement may need further deliberation or hard evidence to avoid fallibility.

There are always the four defects in every deliberation that need to be avoided, namely the tendency to make mistakes, the tendency to have imperfect senses, the tendency to become bewildered by illusion, and the tendency to cheat. We are all familiar with making mistakes occasionally, whether in writing or speech, and it is obvious that we all have imperfect senses. For example to our senses the Sun seems rather small, but with knowledge we know that it is actually gigantic. Or when in the desert we may see water in the distance, but on arrival we realise that it’s actually a mirage. Or we may hear something incorrectly. In other words we cannot trust our senses or rely on our senses for perfect knowledge. And in the same way we can all fall under illusion as any sleight-of-hand magician will show you. The greatest illusion under which we all fall is of course the tendency to identify with the body and mind as the self. The truth is that we may be in a certain body, but the body is not the self, for the self can leave the body at the time of death and continue onward, and the self has existed before entering the current body. This is the great illusion of life on earth according to those who know, not according to we who speculate based on our imperfect senses. And there is no use denying it, but the truth is that everyone cheats. We all lie. A lot of the time. Psychologists will even agree so don’t think you are immune to this. When asked a question we will embellish the answer so that it puts us in a better light, or does not perturb the hearer too much. We do this every day in small ways and some occasionally do it in big ways, for example in business deals in order to make an extra profit or gain an advantage. The cheating propensity is all-pervading in society today and always has been, so a wise person realises that you can trust no-one, not even yourself, or should I say your mind.

Besides this there may be a susceptibility to nervous tension this week or some such disorders based on an overstimulated nervous system. This could manifest as headaches for example, so be sure to keep your cool, to keep a cool head as much as possible. Some of the best things in life may be free, but some of the most valuable things in life are not given but have to be cultivated and today two of them will greatly assist, namely patience and verbal restraint. These two gifts or virtues do not come naturally. The mind will more easily jump to a heated, reactionary mode than pause and wait. And a heated mind produces heated words just as quickly when uncontrolled. The mind is, after all, our best friend or our worst enemy. It is very much up to us to acquire the skills to operate the mind lest it carry us over the edge of reasoning into the crevasse of ignorance, which contrary to popular thought is by no means blissful.

Fortunately today there is a simultaneous sextile (60 degree) alignment between Mercury and Venus, which can provide the grace of speech required to balance to heating effect of Mars. This is a good influence for musicians and composers, who will find the inspiration and harmony they desire. This favourable aspect may only last a day or two, but the challenging Mars alignment may continue throughout the week as Mercury slows to the same pace as Mars now and eventually becomes stationary next week, which means next month or should I say next year, on 5 January. So although the harmonising Venus aspect may soften the challenging Mars influence today, just be sure to observe your mind or moods throughout the week and allow for a momentary pause before acting or reacting to any situation. Otherwise take advantage of the mental energy available this week to get the job done, to channel the potential mental energy in a conscious way so that it does not escape unconsciously into counter-productive arguments and the like. Also be extra careful on the roads while travelling now. It can be a busy season for travelling and therefore even more reason to curb any misplaced enthusiasm and avoid road rage which simply spoils the fun and helps no-one in the long run.

Solstice and the soul of astrology

AstrologyAstrology should never be mistaken for a science. The planets, for example are named after the gods of the ancient Roman pantheon, and the meanings attributed to the planets astrologically are derived from the essential characters of these deities who exist, as Jung tells us, as powers of the psyche or personality. It is as if the ancients looked up at the stars in the night sky and labelled them according to imaginary figures that they saw, perhaps correlating with what was happening on the ground at the time of the year that they were overhead. The imaginary figures were of course great heroes and gods in the tradition of those observers, like Hercules and Andromeda, and it may have been more than just imagination which inspired them to label the constellations as they did, although that motive is lost in the mists of time.

Somehow the visible planets of the ancients, leading up to Saturn, were labelled according to their characteristics to some degree, and their perceived influence over the human affairs. Indeed, in time the apparent influence of the planets over the affairs of humanity was taken literally, as if the planet itself was the source or cause of the symptom experienced. Certainly there may be some literal gravitational influence from the planets upon the earth, as with the Moon for example, but Jung, the psychologist who most influenced 20th century thinking on the matter of the mind, describes the presumed influence of the planets as “projection”. He writes in 1947 in a letter to prof. B.V. Raman: “Astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call projected – this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations. This originally gave rise to the idea that these factors derive from the stars, whereas they are merely in a relation of synchronicity with them. I admit that this is a very curious fact which throws a peculiar light on the structure of the human mind.” Jung curiuosly became an avid student of astrology, which he felt aided in his psychoanalytic research. But as a scientist, he never took the influence of the planets on earth literally. Of course even the study of the psyche is a human science and not a pure science, and many may even question the validity of psychology itself, although psychiatry somehow has become accepted as scientific, perhaps based on observation and experimentation. Similarly astrologers both ancient and modern may have found their hypotheses confirmed based on observaton of paterns and cycles in time and in the lives of their fellow men and women.

Some degree of literal awareness was probably originally there in the astrolgers of old when for example they saw Mars to be reddish in colour and thus named it after the god of war, or observed Jupiter to be biggest and thus named him after the chief god of the pantheon. But as to how such a distant planet can have a certain influence when passing through one constellation of the zodiac as compared to another remains to me a mystery and only a speculation. But there it is, taken quite seriously by millions even today, many of whom pride themselves in being most ratonal and scientific in their perception of reality. The mind is surprisingly superstitious it seems, and is also willing to suspend disbelief in so many instances in our lives today, and astrology or religion are just two such cases. Religion depends on a foundation of faith, faith in certain mythical gods of old described in texts, and astrology also depends on faith in planets named after gods, with the traits of gods, as described in ancient texts going back millenia, and copied by Medieval and subsequently modern writers. Even more radical is the acceptance of the newly discovered planets, from Uranus to Pluto, which were only discovered in relatively recent times and also named after the Roman gods, quite randomly or instinctively by astronomers of the day, and which are now also accepted as distinct literal influencers or at least signposts of personality and events on the ground. Again we might remember the words of Jung when describing astrology for what it is: “The collective unconscious…appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious, introspective perceptions of the collective unconscious.” Jung is saying here that humanity has “projected” from our psyche, the myths of old onto the random stars above, and that the correlations or coincidences of events above to events below are “synchronicity”. Within the art of astrology there is a great deal of science, in the form of mathematical calculations, geometric patterns and angles, as well as finely timed cycles, but the interpretation thereof is ultimetely based on “projection” and “synchronicity”. Therefore astrology should never be seen as anything more than an oracle. What does that say about religion then? There too we find multiple gods, written about in texts that are thousands of years old, performing supernatural and cosmically monumental acts and yet still worshiped and accepted as equal as any scientifically observable reality we see today. Ultimetely it depends on faith, particularly in your source of reference. Besides that, even today we cannot rely solely on our five senses for confirmation of reality. Even scientists are discovering truths that defy our senses, and even defy their own prior laws of physics.

So I think it is safe to say that even scientists are still newly labeling reality as they are currently able to perceive it, and that there is far more to reality than meets the eye of the scientist, and that in time the messages of the gods of ancient and their pastimes may be more real than we think, and that science still has some way to go in labeling, analysing, deconstructing and explaining so-called reality as they think it is. We are already finding as time goees by in our modern world that the truth is still unfolding, and that it lies somewhere in the unchartered realm between science and religion, and that in time these two will meet halfway only to discover that they were like two men trying to describe the nature of the elephant in the room, but from alternative angles, and that they were both right all along.

Mars square Pluto be the change

The Mars square Pluto aspect this weekend can be both dangerous, violent and explosive. Particularly as it forms a Cardinal T-square with Uranus across the zodiac, leading to a volcanic climate that is practically off the charts.

The arrival of Mars into the already tense Pluto -Uranus aspect which has been around for many months, may act as the trigger to launch something that has been building up pressure for a while now. Mars symbolises the male libido, the sex drive, the egocentric desire nature, which may rear its head uncontrollably under this influence. The pressure to express itself, if not constructively channeled, can suddenly burst forth like the deadly lava of a volcano that has been suppressed beneath the surface until the external controls, like the force of gravity and the rock on top of the lava, can no longer hold it back, and the resultant explosion of wild and untamed energy leaps out destroying all in its wake. The jihadi suicide bomber, or murdering rapist springs to mind.

All sensitivity and planning may be ignored, as the forethought of any consequences for self and other are overridden under these circumstances. Something small could trigger you off, like the recurrent barking of a neighbour’s dog, and the next thing you know you’ve been pushed over the fence and done some dastardly deed completely out of character that surprises everyone. Under such an influence it is hardest to do nothing, for one must act. Too much energy is available to remain passive, so the solution is to find the appropriate healthy outlet, to channel the libidinal force into something worthwhile. The frustration aroused by a lack of suitable outlet can torment the artist who feels his or her creative expression and talent is not being properly acknowledged. Such frustrated souls – like unrequited lovers – end up cutting off their ears (remember Van Gogh), or in other words the libido turns in on itself in a distorted way due to insufficient outlet and implodes in destruction. Even the meditating yogi needs to know how to harness the Kundalini force when it awakens, lest it overwhelm him or her and cause destruction. Patience and determination are required, though one may struggle to invoke the dedication to the long term goal here, one which sometimes requires a lifetime, and the sword of knowledge may occasionally not be sharp enough to cut the knots of material desire when they manifest. So watch out for any lack of patience, violent temper or sexual aggressiveness this weekend and maybe avoid potentially dangerous areas, for unconscious psychic forces can sometimes become externalised and play themselves out via other shadowy figures that confront us. Pluto can appear as the beggar, underworld gangster or other such character too.

As the Moon also joins this planetary combination, for a few hours when it crosses over the exact position of Mars around 4am South African time (2am GMT) on Sunday morning, adding a fourth influence, it pinpoints a particular high point in the general buildup. The Moon adds further emotional charge to the equation, and can be the catalyst that pushes the unsettled impulses over the edge. Those all night revelers out partying under the stars may feel this moment to be particularly intense.

This needn’t be only a negative experience this weekend, for their are ways to positively harness the modes or energies available in this planetary alignment, if one remains conscious and aware of one’s mind and senses. By finding a balance between ones selfish desires and the needs of others, we can experience this as a time of transformation in our relationships. The domineering tendency that usually results in power struggles can be surpassed as mature values of mutual cooperation enable one to rise above petty selfishness, and we find a win – win scenario to be more conducive to our overall life goals. By remembering those life goals, we can more easily see the best expression for our creative drives and use that as the guiding principle in charting our course through any narrow straits or rocky waters.