What I Noticed As Mercury Prepared to Station Direct

Posted by Amanda Painter

Monica Lewinsky delivering her 2015 TED talk.

Yesterday Mercury stationed direct while tucked into the Uranus-Eris conjunction in Aries. It’s an amazing opportunity to observe for yourself what Uranus-Eris means in terms of our collective consciousness. Amanda Painter found her attention drawn to an unexpected, but timely and apropos, topic.

By Amanda Painter

Yesterday at 12:33 pm EDT (16:33 UTC), Mercury stationed direct while tucked right in the middle of the Uranus-Eris conjunction in Aries. It’s an amazing opportunity to observe for yourself what Uranus-Eris means in terms of our collective consciousness: by noticing what makes the news this week, and by noticing where your own thoughts go.

Monica Lewinsky, delivering her 2015 TED talk.

Monica Lewinsky, delivering her 2015 TED talk.

What’s catching your attention right now (and for the last couple days), and how are you thinking about it?

I write this column a day before it publishes, which means I’m right in the station-direct zone as I type. I couldn’t be bothered with listening to James Comey defend the FBI on the Clinton email inquiry, significant as it might be. But what’s really captured my attention was something I heard on the radio Tuesday night while driving: a broadcast of the TED Radio Hour on NPR.

Specifically, I heard a segment of a program called “To Endure” — a segment featuring Monica Lewinsky being interviewed about surviving shame and trauma, and including clips from her previous TED talk about it. Lewinsky’s TED talk first aired in 2015; the TED Radio Hour episode aired in February of this year. But my mind (which Mercury represents) encountered it Tuesday night, and its themes and timing were not lost on me in terms of their relevance to Mercury stationing conjunct Uranus and Eris in Aries.

Now, I realize it’s possible you’ve already let some off-color joke, derisive comment or eye-roll slip just at the first mention of Lewinsky’s name. I myself admit that I haven’t really thought much about her in almost 20 years — not beyond the late-night talk show punchlines, dated as they may be.

But of course, as a young 20-something who made a big, personal mistake at the dawn of the internet age, Lewinsky has paid a heavy, exceedingly public, price. There were years early on when she (and her family) were not actually sure she’d make it through the humiliation and bullying alive. Literally.

It’s so easy to toss off a comment like, “Well, she gave her married boss, who just so happened to be the President of the United States, a blow job. What did she expect?”

But does anybody ever really expect to have their lives ruined worldwide for mistakes they make when they’re 22 years old? No — of course not. When we’re in our 20s, we tend to think we’re invulnerable.

What’s scary is, when we do experience trauma and shame — whether the internet is involved of not — just how often people of any age also do not expect compassion. Or, more to the point, how often we think we must not deserve it, from ourselves or even from the people who care about us; let alone from strangers. And how often people seem to assume that others do not deserve to receive compassion for their mistakes and failings.

We see this painfully often online. Yes, it happened well before “social media” and iPhones existed; it’s been a thing in TV, and in tabloid magazines, and anywhere groups of people congregate and gossip since time immemorial. Yet something about cyber-bullying is particularly insidious; the way lives can be made miserable by total strangers in a very direct and globally public way like never before. It’s too easy to gang up on someone.

This is the environment — or one facet of it — that the Uranus-Eris conjunction speaks to: the chaos of personal PR that everyone engages in; the ability to take people down with brutal words without ever having to look them in the face, hear their story in their own words, or feel their pain; the easy attraction of the hit-and-run comment.

If you listen to the interview with Monica Lewinsky, can you feel yourself taken out of that armored, distracting echo chamber? Do you notice suddenly that she’s a real, live human being who has struggled to heal some very deep pain and turn it into positive work against cyber-bullying? Do you feel a little guilt — or at least greater awareness — about how little you’d ever thought of her as a full person, or how little empathy or compassion you’d ever felt toward her?

Are you able to see and hear and feel beyond the chaos and trending comments and past judgments to allow her this act of self-definition and redemption?

I ask, because if you can allow her the ability to move beyond 1998, it likely means you can also allow yourself to move beyond whatever pain or shame or limiting definitions of yourself you might be struggling with. It’s not about ignoring or excusing her mistakes; she owns them fully and takes responsibility for her poor choices. This is about wresting power back from “the robot” of the internet and from the fear which her particular indiscretions engender in you. It’s about remembering the full humanity behind every Facebook profile, behind every celebrity headline and every acquaintance you have.

TED’s social media editor, Nadia Goodman, says regarding her experience dealing with nasty comments when Lewinsky’s TED talk was posted to Facebook, “We all find our self-esteem shaken when we feel insulted or disrespected. But to have the entire world insult you to your face — for 17 years straight? That’s abuse on another level.”

I think Mercury, as it very slowly begins moving in apparent forward motion in these next days, is offering an opportunity to see this abuse for what it is. And it’s offering you an opportunity to notice your own role in it. Because even if you do not engage in hurtful or thoughtless comments online, how vigilant are you about standing up to them when you read them?

How willing are you to say, “That’s not okay” in a public forum? Or to delete mean-spirited and thoughtless comments from your Facebook threads, and then send a private message (so as not to engage in public shaming) to the commenter about why you deleted it?

How do you define yourself online? And how often do you let compassion take the lead instead of the easy joke you could make, or instead of your own festering resentment, fear or shame?

We endure much more social pressure than we used to thanks to the internet and these mini-computers everyone has in their pockets. With the Taurus Sun still closely sextile Neptune in Pisces, there’s an easy way into empathy and feeling others’ energy, and increased willingness to help others out with what they need. It’s okay to put that sensitivity into action. The world needs that far more than it does another joke at someone else’s expense.


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21 thoughts on “What I Noticed As Mercury Prepared to Station Direct

  1. LizzyLizzy

    Such an interesting piece, dear Amanda. Thank you. This also goes on a lot in work places. Yesterday, the group I work with tore to shreds a colleague of mine, who, admittedly, behaved extremely badly, and was therefore unable to keep his job – and many feel betrayed by his behaviour. However, as you say, we never know what’s really going on in a person’s life – and I always feel like running from the room when a group of people condemn a person wholeheartedly like that – and I always remember Carolyn Myss talking about how much harm that can do to a person. So Amanda, are issues of self shame and judgement also coming up strongly right now? Am certainly feeling it. xxxx

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      Lizzy — yes, exactly; we so easily lose sight of how much harm wholesale condemnation can do — until it happens to us. Or, similarly, until we feel ourselves FEARING it due to some poor choice we’ve made. Sometimes I think that *fear* of being shamed is almost as damaging as the shame itself. Nobody wants to be “THAT person,” and it’s humbling to realize how easily we can make a choice that we thought we’d never make — until there we are, having made it, realizing that under certain circumstances, we might not be as above reproach as we like to think we are.

      As for issues of self shame and judgement also coming up strongly right now, I’d say that if you’re feeling it, then it is. I’d have to hunt around a little more to see if there’s a clear astrological signature pointing to it, though it might have to do with a transit to your natal chart.

      Does the North Node conjunct Transpluto in the first degree of Virgo ring any bells for you? It seems like that might throw into stark relief any feelings of coming up short regarding your higher purpose, with a tendency toward narrow thinking and being self-critical. But I’m sure there are other ways to read that, and I have no idea how it lands in your chart.

      1. LizzyLizzy

        “It seems like that might throw into stark relief any feelings of coming up short regarding your higher purpose, with a tendency toward narrow thinking and being self-critical”. Bless you for this, dear Amanda (and thank you for your great comment). It did ring bells for me. My knowledge of astrology is very limited – but will check out my chart. xxx

  2. Linda MayLinda May

    Good piece for sure. Self-Mastery sure is a wild ride at times. Our human ‘awareness’ path is not a walk in the park, it is a walk in the heart of god.

    People bother us only because we choose to remain dependant on their good … or bad opinions; or they dont.

    Blessings everyone, glad to be on the other side of all these retrogrades :) … dizzying!!

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      “Our human ‘awareness’ path is not a walk in the park, it is a walk in the heart of god.”

      An excellent reminder, Linda May. And yes, I’m looking forward to things smoothing out now that Venus and Mercury are both in direct motion! It’s been a wild several weeks, for sure. Blessings to you in return!

  3. Amy Elliott

    Women in the public eye have a particularly difficult time online, often receiving unmitigated rancour for nothing worse than the crime of being visible. (For anyone not aware of this, google Anita Sarkeesian or Rebecca Watson.)

    And you’re dead right about Monica Lewinsky. She did nothing to deserve anywhere near the level of bullying she received. It’s as if she’d committed serial murders or something. She was really just a scapegoat.

  4. Glen Young

    Slut Shaming is just one of the reasons given from the netflix teen drama which is getting controversial reviews. Featured on the 1A.org: “13 Reasons Why” Raises Questions Over Media And Mental Health Wednesday, May 03 2017 How impressionable are viewers, and how should reporters, directors and parents respond? This was talked about during the time of your writing, and again today on NPR.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      Glen Young — “13 Reasons Why” sounds like an interesting but potentially problematic show for young viewers, just based on what I’ve read on its Wiki page in the reviews/criticism section. Thank you for contributing an example of “what you noticed” that seems to dovetail with what I noticed. They are important cultural themes, for sure; and digital media does have an important role in how we encounter them.

  5. YoniyoganidraYoniyoganidra

    Thank you for such a beautiful reclaiming of collective projection.

    Monica is such a role model for making peace with being bullied. She’s also a role model for living beyond your mistakes. For thriving in the face of “group think” whose only desire is to knock you down, instead of helping you grow more completely into the person you really are.

    That mistake was between two people.

    I am pleased to see the other person has also grown beyond the influence of the small minded. Bill may have survived it earlier; Monica’s thriving is influencing me more.

    May she live on with her fully expressed self leading the way…..with on-lookers finally applauding her journey.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      Yoniyoganidra — yes, absolutely, that mistake was between two people. And I certainly acknowledge Bill’s own survival beyond it, though he seems to have had a little more of an advantage in that, being a politically powerful white male. I do not begrudge him his growing beyond it at all; I think that is the birthright of every human being. But as you say, “Monica’s thriving is influencing me more.”

      I think, for me, that is perhaps because she never seemed to have a chance at being a whole, multifaceted public figure prior to becoming everyone’s favorite infidelity scapegoat. I truly was curious about my own surprise upon hearing her story — curious and surprised at myself for realizing I had never really thought of her as a whole person, or wondered what he life became after the “scandal” limelight faded.

      I’d like to second your blessing: “May she live on with her fully expressed self leading the way…..with on-lookers finally applauding her journey.” And I’d like to offer it to anybody reading here who is trying to find their way through shame.

  6. Allison

    Monica was not responsible for protecting Bill’s marriage vows or his oath of office. She didn’t commit infidelity. Bill did. She didn’t perjure herself. Bill did. It doesn’t appear her goal was ever to shame or hurt anyone. Linda, eventually Bill, and the entire country did that to her. You could argue that Monica secondarily victimized Hilary by having an affair with Hilary’s husband, but Bill was still primarily responsible. Monica, the youngest and least experienced person involved, was sold out by everyone. Monica paid the highest price for doing nothing wrong other than being a fun-loving, daring, inexperienced young woman who was attracted to a man and acted on her desire. It is very dangerous in this world for a woman to exist at all, let alone have sex. Monica’s public shaming serves as a warning to all women that we will be held responsible for the actions of men. There is also a warning that young people will be devoured by the adults rather than raised.

    In this country there are actually women who are imprisoned for failing to control the actions of men. Monica may only have escaped that fate because she’s fortunate enough to be white. You can find some of those women here: http://www.survivedandpunished.org
    For example, “Ny Nourn has spent the last 16 years in prison serving a life sentence for a murder committed by her abuser when she was a teenager.”

    If anyone is struggling to see Monica as a person, I recommend studying her chart and also reading this article: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/16/monica-lewinsky-shame-sticks-like-tar-jon-ronson

    She was bullied as a child. She has a Masters in social psychology. She (unsurprisingly) appears to have PTSD from the torture she has endured.

  7. Phyllis Capanna

    I’m so glad this is being discussed here. I was blown away by Monica Lewinsky’s first TED talk. She said that hers was the first case of cyber-bullying, because that news story was the first major news story to break first on the Internet. Isn’t that wild? I fear that the average person lacks the ability to appreciate the nuances of her situation. The “what did she expect?” thing is so ingrained. What most people fail to realize is that was about politics, not sex.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      Phyllis Capanna — for sure, hearing Monica’s own voice tell her story in her own words is a powerful experience. I really give kudos to the TED organization for giving her a platform and the space in which to be heard, seen and empathized with so fully, and for protecting that space in their comments. And of course, the highest kudos go to Monica herself for persevering, for being willing to speak up so that others might not suffer in the same way.

  8. DivaCarla Sanders

    Allison, thank you for your powerful writing about Monica Lewinsky and her life. I will watch that TED talk now. I remember looking at the situation from the perspective of how could Bill Clinton be so stupid and self-destructive to behave that way AND get caught. I didn’t think of Monica and how this affected her at all. I accepted the press characterization of her.

    You ladies have offered me lots to look into, now that time has passed. New perspectives.

    Thanks for opening the topic, Amanda.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      DivaCarla, for sure. As I mentioned, I was rather taken aback by the realization of my own lack of thought about Monica all these years.

      After you’ve watched the TED talk, definitely check out the TED interview and blog post I link to here — they just flesh it out that much more.

      And thank you for being one of so many people who are open to seeing her in new light, and trying on a new perspective. I feel like this is a very valuable exercise — including for seeing the Eris in us all, and the surprising things she may have to teach us.

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