The Moon will be entering Libra later today, but for now is void of course in Virgo. Meanwhile the Sun is opposing Neptune, and Venus in Leo is squaring Mars and Saturn in Scorpio.

A few notes on the Sun opposite Neptune…

What does it mean to be a hero? We hear all these phrases like “the hero’s journey,” or “an american hero,” or “don’t try to be a hero.” It’s perhaps the one archetype that is most resistant to differentiation, though we have a million different ways of talking about the word “heroic.” The Sun of course loves to be singular. The archetypal domain of the Sun is about constancy, supremacy, unity, and universality. But if you’ve ever talked to a real live hero about heroism, all that glory and universality becomes strangely diffuse.

Recently I had the chance to speak for a good while with a World War Two veteran about his experience in heavy combat zones in Europe. When someone else in the conversation interjected the word ‘hero,’ he bristled and said, “we were just doing our job.” At some earlier point in my life I might have heard that phrase, “we were just doing our job,” and said, “that’s what heroes say because heroes are modest about being heroic.” But for whatever reason, now, I heard his response differently. His response was more of an evasion than it was a humility or modesty. It was more of a frustration with the perception of heroism well as a politeness to the person who made the comment.

He went on to discuss the randomness and chaos of his experience. He talked about how he was really just “lucky.” Someone else said, “your whole generation were heroes,” and again he looked irritated. He went on to tell a few more stories about the unfairness, the randomness, and the attitude that you would have to take in combat to get past some of what you saw…he said, “You can’t dwell on these things or you could lose it. You don’t ignore any of it, but you don’t dwell on it either.”

It occurred to me that I was sitting in the presence of the Sun and Neptune’s archetypal opposition. I could only make the small comparison of my most terrifying and intense ayahuasca ceremonies over the past ten years (though it wasn’t the right place to bring it up…I was thinking about it to myself).

Someone asked if he had any major revelations about life after the war. He said something like, “No, not really. I was happy to be home.”

And again you could almost hear the admiration coming from inside the people sitting around him. The word “hero” was still there, lingering in the psychic air, if not a little quieter…more complicated…

Neptune quiets the glamour of the Sun’s heroism. Neptune differentiates the word heroic so that it can no longer mean just one thing…cannot stand outside of us or above us, like a great god we worship or final height we climb. Neptune somehow brings the heroic into the modesty of everyday failures, complications, confusions…Neptune overwhelms the heroic sensibility…the desire for clear and rational explanations, strong statements, and the valor of intentions and metaphysical certainty.

Neptune also strengthens the sense of individuality, makes it more than an idea, by overwhelming the senses with the ineffable…the horror, the insignificance, the unfairness, the cruelty, the beauty….from Neptune’s point of view whoever you are makes as much sense as the specific form of your bafflement.

Neptune also overwhelms us with the polytheism of memory…we can’t be the singular or universal hero when we remember events, times in our lives, great battles or victories, from a thousand different points of view. When the memories of the “hero with a thousand faces” are further differentiated a thousand times, then words like “hero” or “victory” become far too avoidant or lazy. The war veteran scoffs at the word hero not because of some great christian humility, but because his memory, and his sense of himself, is clearer and also more diverse than the heroic fog being projected onto him by mythologists, theologians, philosophers, and civilians…(maybe we’re just scared recruits..the word hero used like a heart murmur we feign to keep us from enlisting?).

So right now we might ask ourselves where we’ve been living with lazy and overly generalized perceptions about ourselves and others? Are we baffled enough by who we are? Sometimes it’s okay to say, “I’m just happy to be home.”

Prayer: I’m thankful to be here. Thank you for the memories…

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Image courtesy of John, at Creative Commons Licensing.