Transforming the Ghosts of the Past


March 20, 2019 at 6:43 pm PDT / 01:43 am UT (21st)

Moon and Sun opposed at 00°09' Libra/Aries


March 20th at 2:58 pm PDT / 9:58 pm UT

The Sun reaches 00° Aries

At every Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are poles apart, facing each other squarely from opposite signs of the zodiac wheel. Magnetic complements, opposing signs are dualities that naturally intrigue and attract each other — one bearing gifts the other needs. imageThe zodiac reflects this dual nature of life in its six polar pairs, one pair featured at each month's full moon. Next week's perfect circle of light will be sponsored by Aries and Libra.

The Aries/Libra axis is all about relationship. Working in tandem, the two signs represent the struggle for balance, that elusive fulcrum point of blissful communion, somewhere between complete autonomy and "alien takeover" by our partner. Aries, ruled by Mars, is a fire sign, heavily invested in self-assertion and the quest for personal freedom; while other-oriented, Venus-ruled, Libra seeks connection: cooperation, fairness and harmony are paramount.

The two signs represent the inherent tension that exists in all relationships. How do we maintain personal freedom and autonomy, while preserving important intimacy in our lives? We need emotional support, approval and appreciation found in healthy partnerships, but if we choose to live the Libra extreme, utterly through our partnerships, we eventually end up bitter and resentful, having sacrificed too much of what we need. On the other side of the equation — Aries unchecked — we become too independent, unable to compromise, and too fearful to surrender the self enough so that trust and true partnership can bloom.

Aries and Libra, ruled by Mars and Venus, are the archetypal lovers; but they are also antagonists as well. The astrological significance of Libra's seventh house parallels this as it is also the house of "open enemies." Adversaries, brutally honest friends and other challengers who test us, make us face ourselves in often painful, and sometimes wholly unwelcome ways, are equally symbolized by the seventh house. Our partners — and our enemies — reflect important knowledge back to us, but to gain this wisdom, we must first have the courage to peer into these mirrors.

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Chiron Conjunct the Full Moon Axis

Looking at the chart for this lunation, simplified version below, we see two major themes: Chiron conjoined the Aries Sun and opposing the Libra Full Moon, and — further underscoring this full moon as a particularly powerful relationship mirror — the rulers of the Aries Sun and Libra Moon, Mars and Venus, fall in an almost perfect square with Mars striding through Venus-ruled Taurus.The second full moon in a row to have potent Chiron imageties, last month's Virgo Full Moon was quincunx Chiron, this one will oppose. What I wrote last month regarding Moon-Chiron is highlighted once more at this upcoming illumination point of the current lunar cycle.

For me, Chiron's influence has resulted in old relationships coming back to mind. Unlike the more common experience of people popping into mind and then quickly slipping back into the fog of the past, these snippets of the past linger and feel strangely contemporary, of the now. A man I loved and haven't seen in decades, another from just about as far back. Once we love someone, unless they do something really awful, we do love them forever, don't we? While we cannot escape what has happened to us, we can change the way we hold the people who've swept in and out of our lives, but left debris behind.They remain in our hearts, and although bittersweet, it's not necessarily a bad thing or evidence of the need for some kind of emotional exorcism.

So I've been trying to hold these memories flooding back right now in a different way, with Chiron especially in mind: not just thinking of this as LOVE LOST. And this has helped me make better friends of these ghosts of the past, who will probably stay with me the rest of my life. They were key relationships after all, young loves who helped me open my heart, learn how to trust, share my self. All of which prepared me for the time, a few years later, when I met my husband.

Thinking of these old loves as gifts rather than failures, shifting an experience like that, is a reminder that we always have a choice about how we think about the events of our lives, our attitude is almost, if not, as important as the actual events. Chiron conjunct a potent relationship Libra Full Moon reminds us that while we cannot escape what has happened to us, we can change the way we hold the people who've swept in and out of our lives, but left debris behind, even if those experiences are devastating.

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Echo and Narcissus John William Waterhouse, 1903 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

In Greek mythology, there's a story that addresses this "Chiron conjunct the Libra Full Moon" theme of lost love, lover-adversary as mirror, and that is the myth of Echo and Narcissus. Echo was a young and beautiful mountain nymph with a lovely voice and the "gift of gab." Because she could sing beautifully and spin an interesting (distracting) tale, she was pressed into service by Zeus — King of the Gods and original "nymphomaniac" — to distract his wife Hera. While Echo sang songs and told amusing stories, Zeus would slip away unnoticed to enjoy his favorite pastime: frolicking with young nymphs. When Hera discovered Echo was functioning as a smokescreen for her husband, she punished, not Zeus of course, but poor Echo by taking away her ability to speak and sing, all she could do was repeat the last snippets of what others around her had just said. (Hans Christian Anderson reflected Echo's loss of voice in his fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid.")

Sadly this wasn't the end of Echo's run of bad luck. Soon after, while roaming the woods, she spied a handsome young man and was immediately smitten. Unfortunately for Echo, he was the handsome, but vain and arrogant, Narcissus who could love no one. Echo followed him through the woods, watching him and longing to speak to him, but of course she could not.

After some time, Narcissus heard Echo's footsteps and called out, "Who goes there?" But all Echo could do was repeat: "there? there? there?" which annoyed Narcissus who demanded, "State your name!" and back came, "name! name! name!" which further irritated him. Echo realized she had to show herself, and so she slipped out of her hiding place and foolishly threw herself at the young man, who coldly pushed her away. Heartbroken, Echo spent the rest of her days haunting the lonely countryside sadly pining for the unworthy young man.

Justice and Divine Vengeance (Nemesis, right) Pursing a Criminal, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 1808

Echo eventually prayed to the gods that Narcisscus be made to see his lack of heart, and her prayer was answered by Nemesis. The spirit of divine retribution or vengence, the Greek source of the word means "to give what is due." The second century poet Mesomedes, in a hymn to Nemesis, describes her as the "winged balancer of life, dark-faced goddess, daughter of Justice," and refers to her unbreakable bridles that restrain "the frivolous insolences of mortals." Nemesis seeks to balance hubris. So Nemesis casts her spell and Narcissus becomes mesmerized by his own reflection. He eventually wastes away by the side of a river, transfixed by his own image, undone by his own vanity and self-centeredness.

Without the mirror of loved ones in our lives, drawing us out of ourselves, we are at risk for a similar, if not as extreme, kind of disconnect.Certainly a tale of extremes, yet it fits a Libra Full Moon opposite Chiron with lunation rulers in a tight square. Echo is Libra gone all wrong; Narcissus, after Nemesis is done with him, falls so completely inward, he becomes catatonic, almost schizophrenic, unable to connect with others or even life itself. Without the mirror of loved ones in our lives, drawing us out of ourselves, we are at risk for a similar, if not as extreme, kind of disconnect. The Narcissus flower, found growing wild along the banks of streams, and the personality disorder of narcissism, are both named after the myth.

Narcissistic personality disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is marked by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy." The disorder ranges from vanity and selfishness to the more severe, charlatans and Don Juan types, sociopaths who use charisma and sexual appeal to attract victims, and then engage in deliberate fraud and other abuses. Washington D.C and Wall Street are populated with these people.

Some amount of narcissism is a normal and actually essential part of a healty personality, functioning as a kind of emotional-immune system, safeguarding our well-being against psychological vampires: the over-appropriation of our autonomy, vitality, and life force by another human being, often someone we think we love.

Each of us has a place in our charts where the lessons of Echo and Narcissus lie, where the balance of give and take play out for us. If you have a copy of your birth chart, find where Aries and Libra fall. What houses do they influence? Then look at the 1st and 7th houses. What is the sign on their boundary lines (cusps)? The first house cusp is your rising sign or Ascendant, one of the foundational aspects of your natal chart, along with the Sun and Moon. It represents this Aries-Narcissus aspect of your psyche. It's complement, the sign on the cusp of the seventh house of partnership is where your personal Echo resides. How do these two signs color the way in which you engage in relationship? What clues do they offer as to the qualities you are seeking in partnership, as well as the special gifts you can offer to a significant other?

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At every full moon, the world becomes our mirror, our kalyanamitra, reflecting what goes on within. Sanskrit for "spiritual friend" kalyanamitra refers to a person or event in life that awakens us, functioning as a guide. At every full moon, the world becomes our mirror, our "kalyanamitra," reflecting what goes on within.Falling in love, a serious illness, an adversary at work, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one are all examples. Anything that shakes us out of our slumber and too narrow experience of self. Whether we rise to the occasion and reap the rewards or we fall inward like Narcissus, that is entirely up to us.

We wish that, instead of pining away, Echo had thumbed her nose at Narcissus and skipped off in search of someone more deserving. Or that somehow Narcissus had been able to get his act together and pull himself out of the dark hole in which he had fallen, but neither things happened.

Sometimes people just don't love us as we so desperately, heart-wrenchingly want them to, or conversely we find ourselves in the unenviable position of having to break the bad news to someone who is smitten with us. Life delivers painful experiences, but most of us can do what Echo could not: pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and move on, even though our hearts may be broken.


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The woodblock print shown at the beginning of this article is the work of Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei) 1871-1945, and titled: Moon at Old Country House, 1936.

Echo and Narcissus (1903) by John William Waterhouse