The following is an exclusive from Eric Francis’ excellent subscriber service, Planet Waves Astrology NewsSomething in the Night
Venus and Mars are dancing around in a conjunction in Scorpio. Mars was retrograde in Leo earlier in the year, and now it’s moving ahead at full speed. Venus is about to be retrograde, and is moving slowly. So we have a fairly rare condition with Mars, which is further from the Sun, moving faster than Venus, which is closer to the Sun, while the two are neck and neck in a near-conjunction. That happened when Mars overtook Venus on October 3. Venus goes retrograde on October 8.
This setup puts emphasis on both Venus and Mars. These are planets we feel, and energies we live with consciously from hour to hour. Most of us are aware of the interplay between and among men and women in various configurations, particularly as we respond to our various attributes of gender and sex. Some turn us on. Some piss us off. Some are just there. But there it all is.
Scorpio tends to be competitive and it’s a sign associated with power. Putting Venus and Mars in close proximity there may have a feeling of power imbalance, or some struggle to get on top. Of course it could also be a picture of hot and intriguing contact, but that often happens in an environment of competition. We don’t have many other psychological or emotional paradigms within which to consider sex, or for that matter, sexual relationships. If you so much as mention the idea that jealousy does not need to rule over our erotic or emotional experiences, most people will look at you like bees are flying out of your mouth.
There are some interesting features to this setup. Mars is in its sign of traditional rulership; Venus is in its sign of detriment (opposite Taurus, one of the signs Venus rules). Mars is direct, and Venus is about to be retrograde. In theory, anyway, these factors all favor Mars energy. Yet Scorpio is really a feminine sign, despite being ruled by Mars, the planet of masculinity. Venus retrograde in a feminine sign represents a kind of extreme yin condition, what you might describe as the paradox of self-penetration. So looked at one way, this is a study in bringing out the yin sides of both Mars and Venus.
All in all, this sounds like an astrological experiment in gender, sex roles and sexual orientation. I would imagine that this ongoing conjunction is having its influence on many or most relationships. Scorpio is sexual, and it’s also hormonal, and emotional, and ties into reproduction and DNA. Scorpio is an energy field where power in nearly any form (biological, economic, emotional, erotic, relational) is transacted, exchanged and where it mutates into new forms. This astrology suggests strongly that relationships and the people in them are poised on the edge of some transformation that will occur as part of the conjunction, and as part of the Venus retrograde process. One question is whether we’re willing to go along with the process, take it up consciously, or whether we are more prone to resist it.We’re also seeing the latest wave of gender drama unfold in the world. Recently, the Senate, our most enlightened group of leaders here in the United States, voted 56 to 43 to keep in place the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military. Originally designed to protect the privacy of those in service, the rule actually facilitates investigations that are used to kick gay people out of the armed forces. A majority of senators wanted to repeal the measure, but they didn’t get the 60 that were necessary. So in essence the Senate voted to keep playing charades, and to allow the military to keep playing its mean game of hide and seek.
We could partly account this to election year politics. Conservatives never want to seem friendly to gay people or their needs, and the conservative movement is fixated on sex (abstinence education, banning abortion, etc.). But it seems like the gay thing has dominated the news for years and years, and it’s at a new frenzy now. Isn’t it weird that every night there are two or three more gay or lesbian news stories about some story another? Such as: gay marriage, gay adoption, gays in the military, gays who were recently the boss of the Republican party while it put all those anti-gay constitutional amendments onto the ballot, this Republican senator allegedly not being gay while he taps his foot in a public men’s room, what the Bible says about being gay, the gay parade or any other new permutation you can or cannot think of?
You would think there was a gay bar and gay legislative action center on every block, and gay publicists working tirelessly around the clock to bring the latest in gay news to the gay networks and cable news programs. Let’s face it. We’re obsessed. With our friend, who is gay.
In the past 40 or so years since Stonewall, the event in Greenwich Village that started the modern gay movement, it’s true that the definition of gay has expanded from gay to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ). That’s an inclusive definition. It may finally include everyone. Who isn’t questioning?
My impression, though, is that this fuss we’re experiencing/witnessing really isn’t about sexual orientation; it’s about gender, in a deeply personal level. Venus and Mars in Scorpio are making the issues that much more introspective.
Gender is something we all experience and live with. It’s partly biological, partly culturally prescribed and — as we are seeing — partly optional. People have experimented with gender for a long time, but usually it was a kind of secret, or private obsession. Men have dressed like women and women have dressed like men, probably for as long as there were differences in clothing.
We are as a culture going through an ongoing evolution in gender roles; that’s one of the identifying factors of our time in history. This has many sources, including the many women’s rights movements of the 20th century. (Quiz question — what year did women first get to vote?) I am sure that one of them is our postmodern phase of history, where the constructions of the prior eras are basically falling apart, losing their definitions and leaving us to figure out what to do. Many men are wanting to be more emotionally present and many women are expecting them to be that way; that’s a long stretch from the mandatory silent, stoic image of a man that so many of us were told we had to live up to. Many women are moving into intellectual and leadership roles that were unthinkable even when I was a kid. It is no longer a ‘fact’ that a woman cannot design a bridge. Not that long ago, many people would have agreed. And yes that is incredible.
When it first came out in the late ’70s, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was borderline scandalous. Now it is normal fare, and I think that indicates a process of cultural change on a pretty deep level. Of note, on dollars returned for investment, it was one of the most successful films in motion picture history.
For some this is no big deal. We just go along, watching the show, and perhaps exploring our feelings. But for others who have been forced by their cultures into sex roles and beliefs about what constitutes the one-and-only form of proper sex, it can be terrifying to feel the ground shift, within them and around them. For many people their identity as a man or a woman, and as a partner in a heterosexual relationship, is a key component of their identity. If that changes, there are many people who feel they have nothing. When someone feels that male-female marriage really is the building block of society (and in a sense, they are right), they can get defensive when they read about a gay couple who wants to adopt a kid. And that defensive can go pretty far; it’s also subject to being abused by people who themselves don’t care, but who see it as an opportunity to harvest it as political power.
Then there is the chemical hormone issue. For many years, scientists have been warning us that the many chemicals that we encounter both in products and as waste disrupt our hormones. These range from actual hormones injected into meat and sprayed on plants, to products to chemicals that act like hormones (such as in plastic) to flame retardants collecting in the fish we eat.
In 1991, a group of scientists met at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, WI. They reached a consensus which included the following language: “A large number of man-made chemicals that have been released into the environment, as well as a few natural ones, have the potential to disrupt the endocrine system of animals, including humans.” They then listed several characteristics of persistent compounds that accumulate and magnify in the food chain, including pesticides, dioxins and PCBs.
Nearly twenty years ago, they noted, “Many wildlife populations are already affected by these compounds. The impacts include thyroid dysfunction in birds and fish; decreased fertility in birds, fish, shellfish, and mammals; decreased hatching success in birds, fish, and turtles; gross birth deformities in birds, fish, and turtles; metabolic abnormalities in birds, fish, and mammals; behavioral abnormalities in birds; demasculinization and feminization of male fish, birds, and mammals; defeminization and masculinization of female fish and birds; and compromised immune systems in birds and mammals.”
Since that time, the science has become clearer what is going on, and the stories coming in from nature have been increasingly weirder. So, we are swimming in chemicals that alter our internal gender characteristics, by messing with our hormones and our DNA. And this, I think, is influencing our perception of both gender and sex, as well as our emotional experiences of both.
So in our chemical environments we live in hormone chaos. Personally I think everyone is actually experiencing this as some degree of gender anarchy. We can feel the effects, however subtly, and when you combine them with other movements in society, the sensation can be extremely unsettling to those who are camped out in traditional gender roles and don’t want to budge.
We can also factor in one last thing — our imaginations. The Internet has created a giant field of gender variability. One website specializing in role-play games (RPGs) reports that, “Men are 3-5 times more likely than women to gender-bend” in such games. “The demographic that is most likely to gender-bend are men over the age of 25. We know that 85% of players are male, so if you do the math, at any given moment, half of all female avatars are actually being played by men.”
Then there is cosplay, which is playing roles of comic book and graphic novel characters in full costume. This is apparently a wide-open space for gender exchange, called crossplay. The UK Guardian reported on this recently:
“Allison, an American cosplayer from Georgia, enjoys crossplaying (dressing as a character of the opposite gender), in part because ‘it’s really satisfying when you play your part so well that an observer doesn’t realise you’re a crossplayer until you speak’. Fans such as Allison challenge gender presentation in their fan communities, illustrating the fluidity of gender in the context of their subcultures.”
And finally there is what happens in our actual erotic imaginations. Most people are curious about sex and that curiosity can lead to various thoughts that we could file under the general heading ‘bisexual’. Those thoughts can be pretty hot, they can slip into the oddest moments, and at the same time they can threaten our ideas of what our relationships are supposed to be.
We don’t really account for the extent to which this thing known as heteronormative is like a house of cards within which our identities live. Even those of us who are a little more flexible, and a little more experimental, can basically be deeply identified with heteronormative ideas, and when these start to shake or quake or vibrate, even a little, the feeling can be unsettling. But magnify that into outright terrifying if you believe, or if the people around you believe, that you’re going straight to hell.
And this is one reason why, in our current moment of history, it’s so easy to make political hay out of the gay thing, and why the reactions are so strong. Everybody’s feeling, experiencing or at the very least noticing what you might call the global gender shift. At the same time, there is a sense of inevitability that we will have to accept the gay thing as normal even if we don’t like it. To some, even a mild experience of gender dysphoria will feel like their heterosexuality is melting like salt. That’s not what’s really happening. Something else is, but the fear doesn’t quite speak that language.
So now we have Venus and Mars about to do their gender experiment in Scorpio, and in particular, Venus, which is poised for a kind of introspection rarely seen in our world. This is going to be a journey, and it goes deeper than all the superficial expressions of sex, gender and relationship roles that I’ve described. We will be feeling some aspects of this viscerally, and others will stir up material from the deep unconscious. Scorpio is not just what we see, and it goes deeper than what we feel. You could say that on some of the deepest levels we can actually reach, it’s about how we become who we are — that mysterious process, that we often try to keep secret from ourselves.
Yours & truly,
About the Author
Eric Francis is the creator of Planet Waves and author of Book of Blue. He has worked as a professional astrologer and internationally published horoscope columnist since the mid-1990s, specializing in minor planets. He has presented sexuality workshops and written for such publications as the Journal of Bisexuality, Sexuality.org and Loving More magazine. He writes his astrology columns in his fine art photography studio in Kingston, New York.