By Amanda Painter
You might say that today’s intellectual environment is like a twisted version of the show Survivor: we’re each left to our own devices when it comes to navigating a harsh digital wilderness; it’s not always clear who is teaming up with whom, and allegiances can shift without notice; and each week, it seems like a new set of documented historical or scientific facts gets voted off the island. This week’s astrology suggested that metaphor, and I think it also offers a way through.
Today the Sun makes a conjunction to the centaur Asbolus in Gemini, and the two of them are square Neptune in Pisces.
Mercury, the planet of the mind and communication, is still conjunct the Sun and square Neptune as well. And between yesterday and today, the Pisces Moon made its way through the aspect pattern, squaring the Sun, for the lunar last quarter.
So that’s the main setup that describes a general inability to see clearly, especially where emotions and beliefs are clouding — or clashing with — more rational, fact-based ways of perceiving. Of course, this seems to be the general state of affairs these days no matter what’s going on in the sky, and that has to do partly with longer-term planetary cycles — and with the ongoing cultural developments that reflect them. But it appears that we have a peak of sorts right now, or perhaps a more concentrated opportunity to notice it.
The Sun (and Mercury) square Neptune can be great for a person’s idealism; and goddess knows we need some optimism and clear ideals to keep us going in the face of so much chaos, confusion and destruction. Idealism can lead to the development of incredibly beautiful things that never would have come to be otherwise.
The key there, however, is to stay in touch with facts and reality as you pursue your vision — be it artistic, philanthropic, deeply personal or highly political. Strong foundations are always in contact with the ground, even if in unorthodox ways.
Yet a Sun-Neptune square can also feel a little low-energy, and therefore a little discouraging. Although the feeling will pass of its own accord eventually, there’s a caution here not to let that discouragement tempt you into being evasive — or even devious. You might think you would ‘never do that’, but give it a moment of thought: given the highly polarized social atmosphere (especially online, but also face-to-face), how challenging is it for you to be direct when you’re feeling uncomfortable, off-balance or a little low?
It takes a lot of energy not to simply take the easy way out. Often, sliding over the truth — even just with oneself — takes less effort in the immediate moment. (Long-term tends to be another story.)
Enter Asbolus: the fourth centaur, discovered in 1995. Asbolus does not get nearly as much airtime as Chiron, Pholus and Nessus; perhaps because his presence in mythology is a little thin by comparison. His name means “carbon dust” or “sooty” in Greek.
He was a Seer or diviner who foresaw the great battle that figures prominently in all the centaur stories. Yet that is not what distinguishes Asbolus in astrology. As you can read about here, it’s the carbon dust association that is of most importance: carbon being the basis of all life on Earth, it has lent itself to the idea of survival that we associate with Asbolus in astrology. As all the centaur planets appear to have some association with healing, especially regarding generational patterns, Asbolus prominent in a person’s chart often indicates someone who has ‘been through some shit’ but still keeps going.
Really, though, isn’t that all of us at this point? Hence the metaphor I started with; we’re all survivors in Bizarro Land right now. Any thinking, literate person able to get some perspective on what’s going on, anyone able to hold disparate views in their consciousness and then try to make sense of them, likely feels like they’re surviving ongoing abuse. All of the ‘fake news’, delusion, rejection of facts, doubling-down on lies, pure fantasy, and the replacement of verifiable information with ‘beliefs’ is brutal on the psyche.
It takes a toll. But I think that the conjunction of the Sun to Asbolus, in one of the signs Mercury rules, with Mercury close by, offers a little leverage against the otherwise clouding influence of Neptune. Yes, Neptune can indicate high spiritual vibrations; but that takes clarity, which seems to be in short supply for many right now.
Asbolus here looks like a symbol of the survival of the mind and of consciousness in spite of it all — although, as with all squares, that only happens with action. You have to make a conscious choice to check facts; to notice when you’re letting belief get in the way of seeing what truly is; to see both sides of the story and then verify if one is more solidly grounded in documented reality. Yes, there are moments when remaining passive is a wise survival strategy. Those instances are specific, however, and generally very temporary.
Most of the time, we need to channel the innate instinct toward survival into tangible actions. You’ve come this far, and I think we’ll get through this. Congratulations on still being on the island. How will you proceed?