Navigating an Impressionistic Sea

Posted by Amanda Painter

Photo by Amanda Painter

Amanda Painter uses the metaphor of an outrigger canoe navigating the open ocean to explore this week’s astrology. A series of Virgo planets opposing Neptune and squaring Jupiter constitutes the main event, though Saturn is lending some stability and practicality amidst the dreams and fog.

By Amanda Painter

Have you ever seen an image of an outrigger canoe? Attached to the main portion of the boat is a smaller hull (without seating) that sets out a ways from the primary hull. These boats were developed by early Austronesian-speaking peoples of the Southeast Asian islands for sea travel; the design — and its offshoots, such as catamarans — continue to be popular.

Photo by Amanda Painter

Fire engine abstract; photo by Amanda Painter

Something about this week’s astrology reminds me of an outrigger canoe.

Mainly, it’s that the Virgo planets opposing Neptune are receiving some stability from Saturn in Capricorn. The relationship from Virgo to Capricorn is a trine between earth signs: a relationship of harmony and support, but not great power.

In an outrigger canoe, all the power to move the boat comes from the people in the main hull, paddling. Nobody is paddling in the second hull; it has no seats for people. It’s strictly to help keep the boat balanced and afloat on ocean swells.

The outrigger part of the boat offers stability, but not a guarantee. As we know, the ocean is vast, deep and very, very powerful.

You could say the same about Neptune, particularly in Pisces. It might not be a ‘stormy’ placement. But it can describe a high probability of disorientation. Without landmarks or literal stars visible — such as on a dark, cloudy day — early ocean navigation (pre-compass and sextant) could be incredibly difficult.

When there’s strong Neptune-in-Pisces astrology afoot, conditions are similar. We can lose sight of our landmarks of fact; our usual lighthouse beacons, such as intuition, can seem to bounce off the fog or be consumed by it. As when sailing on the ocean, these are not the conditions for full speed ahead; rather, this is the time to consider all options — in great detail, and in their broadest scope — and to plan for every contingency, knowing that not all of these plans will prove to be the best one to follow when visibility returns.

That said, the metaphor only carries so far. We are not paddling an outrigger canoe in foggy weather, pre-navigational tools. We’re using astrology to glean hints about how to negotiate our relationships, jobs, creativity, emotions, thought processes, and so on. Astrology offers a map of potentials; we are the territory of actualities. Where those intersect, we’re sometimes able to chart a better course that might not have been so obvious otherwise.

As I write this on Wednesday, Venus is in Virgo, exactly opposite Neptune in Pisces. Between Friday and Saturday, Mercury in Virgo squares Jupiter in Sagittarius and opposes Neptune. Between this coming Sunday and Tuesday, the Virgo Sun makes the same aspects. Mars is bringing up the rear in Virgo, but is also moving into a square with Jupiter and opposition to Neptune.

These squares to Jupiter in Sagittarius are all about thinking big, planning long-range, and tapping into the energy needed to get ahead in some way. Yet neither Jupiter nor Neptune are about details. If both planets were camera lenses, the Neptune lens would be smudged, rendering every image something like an impressionistic painting; the Jupiter lens would be strictly wide-angle, offering a terrific panorama but little sense of the ground you’d be walking on if you traversed the scene in the photo.

So while this might not be a time of concrete certainties, why not cook up your dream plan? Envision where you’d like to be in [X] years or months or weeks. Start to chart out possible ways of getting there, and take some initial, easy-to-adjust steps in that direction. Explore all the options — if not in action, then at least on paper. See if you can telescope back and forth between the grand vision and where you’re really at right now; get a sense of what in your immediate environment needs to get organized in preparation.

Check whether your ‘canoe’ (however you choose to interpret that) has any leaks. For example, Mercury opposite Neptune can describe a high level of mental and psychic sensitivity. With so much additional, subtle info coming in, it can be hard to tell which perceptions are accurate.

Taking the leaky canoe metaphor a different way, the Sun square Jupiter suggests that ‘positive’ tendencies generally become more helpful during this aspect; ‘negative’ tendencies can become more problematic. Where do you seem to be focusing your energy, and would you like to make any adjustments?

Throughout the next week, Venus, Mercury, the Sun and Mars are all making trines from Virgo to Saturn (stability, practicality) and Pluto (power, intensity) in Capricorn. In other words, you’re not completely adrift on the high seas. It does, however, look advisable to beware taking on more than you truly can manage. Staying flexible in your point of view is also essential; don’t assume you have all the answers. It is almost certain that you do not. You’ll want to be able to move with new information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, what dreams are you feeling a push to express, pursue or implement? What (or who) in your life is firing up your imagination? Where and how can you enjoy or contribute to making some art and music? What feels creative and beautiful and inspiring — or, to borrow from a favorite e. e. cummings poem, “everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes”?

People, ‘facts’ and circumstances may not be all they seem to be right now. Your mind’s preference for rationality, logic and certainty might feel at a loss presently. But your spirit likely knows these seas quite well.

It is difficult to feel good these days; it’s challenging to focus on your growth and self-care, or even to relax. We are pulled out of ourselves constantly, and often distracted from our core purposes. IN THESE TIMES, the Planet Waves autumn reading, will help.


Read more here.

In These Times graphic

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