We’ve come to the point in the year when our two so-called malefics, Mars and Saturn, are engaged in a Battle Royale, both hellbent on winning and determined to be the last man standing. Mars, brave and bloodthirsty and empowered in Aries, sets siege to Saturn, in his Capricornian fortress of stone and steel, and the old god answers back with a volley of shots, ready for—and relishing— the long haul. This unyielding placement (the first of three we can look forward to) leaves us stuck in a tangle of stubborn and volatile squares and oppositions for the rest of the year, every time other planets transit the cardinal axis of Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn.
Were it just the two gods locking horns, there would be plenty to feel uneasy about. But consider their teammates: with Saturn, there is also Pluto, Lord of the Underworld; and with Mars—the Black Moon Lilith, and Eris, goddess of Discord. Stress amongst the cardinal signs signals a crisis of power and leadership, as everyone vies for primacy and no-one wants to listen to the others. And with the dark, destructive deities also demanding to be heard, this starts to look less like an Olympian pissing contest and more like a rising. Whatever lies buried in the past, or in the unconscious; whatever has been neglected and rejected; whatever has been demonized and abused, will continue to surface until it is acknowledged—and now, say the gods, is the time for acknowledgment.
What are we unleashing upon the world? In the US alone, Coronavirus continues to threaten communities. Wildfires and hurricanes gather force. Conspiracy theories breed mass distrust. Real villains plot to consolidate power and destabilize the country. And places like Minneapolis, MN; Louisville, KY; Portland, OR; and Kenosha, WI are battlegrounds for the future of democracy, as protestors fight for the safety of Black lives and white supremacists fight to be able to continue killing people with impunity. The Ancient Greeks would have said it was the Furies, or the Erinyes, winged female deities of vengeance, wreaking havoc on us. Dystopian novels and films have symbolized agents of discord with machines, aliens, dinosaurs, or—in Hitchcock’s case—kamikaze birds. Nature (and supernatural) as a destructive force is not a new concept to humans, but we still, as a collective, have yet to recognize the direct part we play in contributing to so much of our own destruction. And so here we are, at a crossroads. The wounded Feminine is not a weeping maiden; she is a chthonic bringer of chaos. But only if we refuse the call to hear, and heal, her.
As above, so below; as within, so without. The problems we face on the macro level are very real, but they are also manifestations of our own individual, internal battles. The Mars-Saturn et al square is happening inside each of us, as one part of our psyche pushes against another. It can feel like simmering rage or frustration, or it can project itself as conflict onto people or situations around us. But as long as we continue to externalize this impasse, looking for something or someone to blame, the disorder will continue. I am an optimist and an idealist, but I’m also a pragmatist: this is a hell of a transit, no matter how you look at it. How we navigate the next few months will depend on how willing we are to face our own shadows—the “malefics” that we all embody—one day at a time, with patience, non-judgment, radical honesty and constant self-checks. By examining the source of our wrath, and our relationship to authority and control. By forgiving ourselves and making reparations for the things we did when we didn’t know any better. Mars and Saturn offer us the gifts of endurance and strength, of beginnings and endings: you are living through this time for a reason, and you are stronger than you think.