by Steven Forrest
I love planets in so-called “detriment.” Take Mars, for example. It’s not normally viewed as the most cooperative of planets, but just look how nice it is being to me. Right on schedule for this April newsletter, on March 31, it leaves Aries and enters Taurus—the sign of its detriment—where it will remain until May 11. How convenient! This gives me a chance to write about one of my favorite topics, which is underscoring how unintentionally poisonous to our clients some of our conventional astrological language can be. One out of every twelve of us is born with Mars in Taurus. How does such a person feel when he or she hears the word “detriment?” Ditto of course for anyone born with Mars in Libra, its other sign of “debility?” Words such as those can’t bring good news, huh?
This kind of astrological language conveys the notion of a weakness or a flawed condition that is inherent one’s chart. It disempowers people. It helps no one. And, to me, words like “detriment” and “debility” simply represent bad astrological theory.
So what does a planet in detriment actually signify? We’ll all have a chance to experience the answer directly over the next six weeks or so. In principle, planets always have special affinities with certain signs. We say they “rule” those signs. But what is really going on is that they simply like those signs and feel comfortable and natural there. Mars, the “god of war,” is at ease with the passion and intensity of Aries and Scorpio. It feels less at ease with the more mellow values of Libra and Taurus.
Maybe you are a party animal—loud and direct by nature, with an over-the-top tendency to be theatrical and risqué. When you are with a crowd of people like yourself, you can relax. Nobody has a problem with you. They like you. They appreciate your spirit. They egg you on. You feel spontaneous and at ease. Everyone is loose. No one is self-conscious. Everyone has a good time.
That’s “rulership.” That’s the way it feels.
But what if you are that party animal and you find yourself spending an evening with a bunch of serious, tea-totaling academic introverts? Few smiles, no jokes, and long speeches? You make a wise crack and all you get are uncomprehending looks.
How do you feel there? That’s “detriment.”
God made all the party animals and God made all the tea-totaling academic introverts. It’s not a question of good or bad. It is only a question of one’s relationship to the social environment. For all of us, according to our individual natures, some of those environments simply feel more natural to us than others.
Here’s where we take the giant step toward really understanding so-called detriment—and thus our current transit of Mars through Taurus. We have to free ourselves from conventional “bless this configuration, curse that one” astrology.
Inside that party animal there may be a more serious dimension trying to get out. Inside that tea-totaler, there might be a need to let go and experience some spontaneity and release. The party animal, in other words, might benefit and grow from adjusting to the “unnatural” environment created by those more conservative souls. Ditto for the introverted academic, who can perhaps breathe easier once he or she opens to the wilder crowd. Each will be offered the chance to get over himself or herself a bit. Each will be afforded a chance to stretch, to withdraw negative projections, and to explore new, alien inner possibilities.
Put that party animal at a party full of other party animals, and what happens? Well, maybe everyone has a good time and there’s nothing wrong with that. But maybe everyone wakes up with hangover. Maybe people sleep with people they shouldn’t have. Maybe a fight breaks out.
Being a party animal is fine, but sometimes a little taste of “allopathic medicine”—an experience of the opposite environment—can be healing and balancing.
Similarly, those tea-totaling academic introverts can metamorphose into dried-out, boring prunes unless they get their bodies and their hearts into their lives. In doing that, they may need some help from the party-animals.
We don’t always like the things that are good for us.
Planets in their own signs—the signs they rule—can become parodies of themselves, lacking all perspective, not “getting their own joke,” and displaying intolerance and cluelessness when faced with any energy different from themselves. They are the natural fanatics of the world.
In parallel fashion, planets in detriment can embody a subtlety, tolerance, and wisdom not often found in the simpler structures of rulership.
My aim here is not to ridicule planets in their rulerships, but only to try to apply some corrective medicine to the misunderstandings and damage done by words such as “detriment.”
So, in the light of all that, let’s look specifically at Mars in Taurus. We will all have front row seats for the show this month and onto into mid-May. And the stage is located right between your two ears.
Taurus embodies a kind of earthy, “chicken soup” wisdom. Its symbol is, of course, The Bull—but the custom of bullfighting has really fouled us all up in using this symbol. We’ve come to think of a bull as a fire-breathing carnivore, hell-bent on goring anyone in sight. I guess we’d all look that way if someone were sticking lances in us. It is very helpful then to remember that the bull is a male cow. And what do you see when you look into the eyes of a cow? There’s a kind of calm, earthy intelligence in there, with no overlay of fussy cognition. That’s Taurus. It represents the inner animal. Our instinctual side. The things we “just know” in our bones. Some people “smell right” to us, others don’t—Taurus is the perceptual faculty in you that makes that recognition. It is the part of us all that appreciates peace, good food, familiar faces and places. It doesn’t want fuss or fru-fru. It is not interested in your transformative weekend workshop about electro-convulsive, cranial-skeletal, deep-dish, chemotherapeutic release-point water-therapy. Taurus prefers a hug.
Simple answers are not always the right ones, of course. But sometimes they are. Taurus is the part of us all that is wise enough to know when to be simple. Are you hungry? Eat something. Tired? Lie down for a while. Don’t like the book? Close it, you don’t have to read it. Angry? Get over it. Feeling poor? Earn more or spend less. Want to lose weight? Eat less.
You get the idea.
Mars, on the other hand, isn’t like any of that! It’s not about relaxation or ease at all. There is no calm in it. Mars is competitive. It thinks in terms of winning and losing. It gets bored very easily. It perceives enemies and threats and prepares to deal with them—maybe by fighting, maybe by fleeing, but always responding in that combative win/lose context.
Despite this scrappy language, there’s nothing wrong with Mars. Life is indeed competitive sometimes. We’ve all been attacked. We’ve all had enemies. We’ve all been in situations where we needed to defend ourselves or those we love. The trouble with Mars is that it can so easily read irresolvable combat into situations where peace might be available through compromise and dialog—or simply by realizing the stakes are low enough that simply walking away is the biggest victory available.
See how good the wise simplicity of Taurus can be for fiery Mars? See how healing balance can potentially arise? And can’t we think of a better word than “detriment” to describe this helpful tension-of-opposites?
Obviously, the world as a whole could use some calming down, forgiveness, and letting go right now. That’s the global significance of this Mars transit. But in evolutionary astrology as I practice it, the focus is generally more on the individual soul-journeys we are all making. That’s what I am exploring here with you.
Much depends, as always, upon the exact nature of your own chart. Through what house is Mars-in-Taurus passing? What aspects is it making? What are your own issues around Mars—which is to say, what are your own issues around anger, passion, and conflict? What are your resentments? In thinking about this, remember Freud’s wise words too—depression is anger internalized. That self-destructive state can embody the dark face of Mars too.
In other words, what I write here is necessarily of a general nature. The beauty and power of astrology is its ability to bring these energies into sharp individual focus through an in-depth consideration of the personal birthchart. Still, between now and mid-May, try looking at your life through these following lenses and filters:
- Where am I creating unnecessary drama in my head or in my relationships?
- What battles can I win by walking away?
- What will this conflict look like ten years down the road?
What does my face in the mirror tell me when I dwell on this resentment?
- Is winning really worth more to me than peace?
- How am I perpetuating pointless conflict? What is my part in that?
- What is my body telling me here?
- Are pride and ego masquerading as an angry god exhorting me to jihad?
- Where am I trying to teach a pig to sing and why am I mad at the pig?
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Photo credit: "The White Cow in Aravaipa Canyon" by Michelle Kondos
Will you be the hunter or will you be the prey? Some of us might ask whether there is a third choice, say “a vegetarian course?” But sometimes there is no such choice. Sometimes we are faced with the need to defend our boundaries — or to defend the well-being of those who count on us. Can we walk away from the battle? Sometimes that is the right answer and sometimes not.
In this Mars intensive, Steven explores the eternal dynamic between our natural assertiveness and our human tendency toward self-victimization.
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Yesterday’s Sky Correction
It has come to our attention that a video mentioned in Yesterday’s Sky was attributed to the wrong creator. The video’s full title is In Another Life: Reincarnation in America. It was created by Stephen Sakellarios (not Dr. Ramster). You can learn more at Stephen’s Amazon author profile or his website www.ial.goldthread.com. Here is a link to the film which is available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr8Z_QcCvO8