When All Other Lights Go Out
THE ARIES BLUE MOON
Friday, October 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm PDT
Sun and Moon Opposed at 29 Degrees Libra/Aries
Years ago when I was teaching second grade, I inadvertently ignited a school-wide conflict which ended in my decision to leave teaching for good. The trigger was a note I sent home to the parents of my students asking them to drop off their kids' forgotten items in the office rather than interrupt the class during instruction time, something that had become a bit of a problem.
Invariably each morning, two, three, sometimes four different mothers would breeze in the room while class was in session. Each would sing out to their child across the room while waving some item in the air: a lunch box, soccer gear, gloves, hat or some other item that had been mistakenly left behind that morning. Sometimes the mother would leave blowing kisses to their child. All of my students stopped working and watched the entire performance. After each interruption, it would take a minute to get everyone back on task, just in time for the next mother to come sailing in. At first it was no big deal, after ten years of teaching I understood that few people knew what it took to keep 25 or more students happily engaged and on task, and too there was always some beginning-of-the-year dust that needed to settle. But after a month went by and these drop-ins weren't dropping off in frequency, I included what I thought was an uncontroversial request in a weekly newsletter that went home with my students.
That autumn marked the beginning of my second year at this particular school. I was new to the community, and had just gotten married the previous year. My husband and I had happily relocated to northern California to begin our new life. I had made some good friends among my fellow teaching staff and I had a successful first year under my belt. My principal had just recently informed me that I was (as he put it) one of the most popular teachers already because of the number of requests from parents who wanted their child placed in my classroom. This "honor" and good reputation was what ironically landed this particular group of parents in my midst, parents who gave me a mountain of grief over so very little a thing.
If you want to do any work that matters, you have to let go of being loved by everyone.
— Stephen Elliott
So essentially, a lot was made out of my little note. I did try for a time to resolve the big, absurd blow-up that ensued, but because I would not apologize for my note which was reasonable and warranted, I did not obtain the support of my principal who wanted me to do this. I had inadvertently rocked the boat, and even though I had the support of most of my colleagues and many parents, I did not have crucial administrative support, and that made it too difficult to continue to work there. So I resigned and was gone by midterm. It was a relief to leave and a good decision which I have not regretted, but the experience, nevertheless, was one of the darkest, most difficult moments of my vocational life, and it took some time to get over it.
The Uranus/Neptune conjunction was exact when this conflagration was going on in October 1993, and it was exactly to the minute conjunct my Part of Fortune in the Ninth house. The Ninth house is Jupiter's realm and is associated with travel, philosophy and publishing. So what did I start doing after I left elementary teaching? I began writing adaptations of fairy and folktales for children and submitted them for publication. Nine months later I landed a job at a respected educational software company as a product manager and began producing teacher's guides. My writing and editing career had begun. Uranus provided the sudden, unexpected crisis that freed me from a job that was never going to work, and Neptune contributed the creative and spiritual inspiration and connection to the muse. The focus and compass bearings — "the where" — was "textbook" Ninth house.
Pluto was transiting through Scorpio at that same time and at the height of the crisis, the Lord of Intensity was smack dab on the midpoint between my natal Scorpio Sun/Mars conjunction. Transiting Mercury was also in Scorpio and conjunct my natal Mars and approaching conjunction to transiting Pluto. And last but not least, Mars was also in Scorpio and exactly conjunct the cusp of my Seventh house and heading for my natal Mars and its return. Venus, just three days prior to my Mars return had also returned to its natal degree in my chart as well. So all in all I got off rather easy given all that simultaneous planetary activity! Lessons learned about the power to stand alone, trusting in my own integrity, and sticking to my convictions, come hell or high water, with or without support, were all powerfully gleaned from this very painful, course altering passage in my life.
Galadriel: I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
— J. R. R. Tolkien
I remember a vivid dream I had soon after I left teaching that year. I was in the living room of my home. It was late in the evening and without any warning a train crashed right into the living room wall. The conductor, a woman, got out and was rumpled up a bit but otherwise uninjured. She scratched her head and said something like I have no idea how that happened! I made some tea, and while we were sitting at my kitchen table sipping the tea and chatting, a wolf ran up to the living room window and looked in. As I was watching him, his face transformed into a human one and then transformed back. I noticed that the window glass was missing and that he could have easily gotten in the house, but he didn't. According to the Native Americans wolf is the pathfinder or teacher. Wolf is associated with the Moon and Sirius, the Dog Star, which in Native American legend is thought to be the home of the ancient teachers and sages, the ones who light the way. Wolf also represents our wild soul, the fire that safeguards and protects, keeps us from becoming too conventional. This wild soul symbolism is very much in keeping with Aries/Mars courage, the grit we discover in ourselves when circumstances force us to dig deep. It is our own internal light that we must follow, and sometimes at great cost. Often we get our best glimpse of this inner light, when life is at its darkest.
Tonight's Full Moon in Aries, a sign ruled by passionate Mars, is most associated with the individual, our very own singular, unique nature which must be protected in life. In the course of our demanding lives, in our relationships, we often neglect this, but it's an important responsibility that we have to ourselves. This Aries concept of "safeguarding the self" is an important theme right now with two consecutive Full Moons falling in this sign. At every Full Moon, Luna's silver light illuminates what is normally hidden from view, from our awareness, tucked away under the cover of night. The world at the Full Moon becomes our oracle, it is a time of revelation: the shadows recede and what is ordinarily beyond our grasp, just outside our reach is exposed if we listen and observe. This particular Full Moon blooms out of a Libra New Moon and so the cosmic task right now is to look at where we most need to "shore" the self up, strengthen our fortresses, and face where we have sacrificed too much autonomy and personal integrity in the quest for the Libra ideal: peace and harmony, love and partnership. And conversely, where have we been too selfish and inconsiderate and have not been available and supportive enough for our beloved partners? Aries and Libra are opposites, and they challenge us to find a balance — where does that fulcrum point lie for you in particular? The days on either side of the Full Moon are often ripe with meaningful coincidence and potent symbolism, events that make it very clear where we need to adjust this dance of self and other that is so important in life.
The Blue Moon is the 13th Moon
This Full Moon is also a special and somewhat rare "astrological" Blue Moon, the second consecutive Full Moon in Aries. Blue Moons increase the influence of a single zodiac sign, its special qualities are magnified and intensified and thus emphasized in our lives. While astrological Blue Moons are those most significant to astrologers, the second Full Moon in a calendar month is also often considered "Blue" whether or not it falls in the same zodiac sign. And to confuse things further, a third definition, this one much older and from an early issue of the Farmer's Almanac, states that the Blue Moon is the third full moon in a season with four Full Moons. Why is it the third Full Moon and not the last one that's a Blue Moon? The answer is complex and due to the Christian ecclesiastical calendar, which relied on the identification of each moon of the year to set the date for Easter and other observances. A year with an extra, 13th, moon skewed the calendar, and so the solution was to call it a Blue Moon and not count it, in order to keep their calendar on track.
"Astrological Blue Moons" are special for astrologers in another way as well, they shift the soli-lunar (Sun/Moon) pattern of the New and Full Moons. For example, the New Moon in Libra, two weeks ago, once more falls before a Full Moon in its polar opposite sign, Aries. During the Summer of 2009 we had the last Blue Moon, this one being an "extra" or two consecutive New Moons in Cancer. The first one on June 22 fell at 1 degree Cancer and the second at 29 degrees. After this all subsequent Full Moons have fallen, not in the sign opposite the sign of the New Moon, but inconjunct the New Moon, a "one-off opposition" aspect of 150-degrees that represents the need for conscious adjustment. Since the summer of 2009, we have been operating under this particular soli-lunar pattern. From here on out, until the next Blue Moon, all subsequent Full Moons will fall in the sign opposite the New Moon once more.
Esoteric astrologer Isabel Hickey wrote, "From the universal standpoint, Aries is the first impulse of the life force into activity, the descent of the Divine Spark into manifestation. Wherever Aries is placed in your horoscope (the house it rules) is where you, as Spirit, begin to operate." The house which Aries rules in your natal chart and the placement of its planetary ruler Mars reveals the nature of this self-protective heroic spark that lives inside all of us. We all have the courage to face the dragons that rear up in our lives. It is important to keep track of our "Aries and Mars" — our fire — for Aries and Mars reveals where our swords and shields are kept, an important thing to know.
"You cannot pass," he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass."
— Gandalf faces the Balrog,'The Bridge of Khazad-dûm' The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
Whenever I feel sad and depressed, rereading Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, or watching Peter Jackson's wonderful movies adapted from these stories, are some of the best ways I've found to regain my hopefulness. Gandalf the Grey, one of the main characters in the tales, was a wizard, sage teacher and wise counselor. In the story, he was forced to fight the balrog, a dragon-like demon, even though Gandalf was not a warrior. He defeated the balrog but died in the battle, returning as Gandalf the White, with even greater powers. Gandalf was the only wizard who had not succumbed to the dark forces represented in the tales by Mordor and Sauron. Gandalf was quick to anger, but his anger was tempered with compassion, understanding and humor. His greatest asset was humility and because of this, he saw the value in people often considered lesser than he, such as the little hobbits, who became his most important allies. And it is these surprising hobbits who live at the heart of Tolkien's masterpiece that represent the story's ironic and powerful motif, and Tolkien gives the Elf queen Galadriel the honor of expressing his beloved, inspiring theme: "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
Gandalf and the hobbits may seem to be, at first glance, only silly characters from a fantasy novel, but they represent quite well this Mars/Aries bravado. We all, no matter how strong or clever, have this same reservoir of courage, the gallantry to stand alone and fight if we have to, and the daring to find our own way, even when — especially when as Tolkien tells us — all other lights go out.