The Moon is in Cancer today, applying to trine Neptune before opposing Pluto this evening. Meanwhile, as Jupiter in Leo trines Uranus in Aries we’re seeing an interesting mix of symbols.

Regarding Jupiter in Leo we’re seeing the subjects of pride, power, charisma, dignity, autonomy, will power, ego, brilliance, destiny, and specialness, as well as luck, fortune, victory, success, fame, and achievement.

On the other hand, Uranus in Aries brings subversive competition, diversification, fighting, belligerent rebelliousness, revolution, forward thinking, random mutation, experiences defiant to categorization, athleticism, violent attitudes, controversy, breakthroughs, dogmatic righteousness, and sudden awakenings.

So now take a look at one of the popular trending stories in the media. The story of Rachel Dolezal, the “white woman” who identifies as “black.” Here we have issues of pride and prejudice, of forward thinking and ego, of subversion and destiny, of controversy and inflamed self righteousness. You can see all of these themes present in the facts of the story as well as the kinds of debates being had all over the internet and media. Regardless of what’s right or wrong with any of it…on the archetypal level we might simply notice the presence of these themes right now, and we might take a moment to notice our own reactions, thoughts, or feelings. There are probably a fair amount of very good people who see a story like this and think, “this is ridiculous,” while there are other very good people among us who would say, “this is important or fascinating.”
Similarly, the story of Caitlyn Genner, the trans Olympic athlete, combines many of the same themes..especially the combination of athleticism, gender, competition, identity, pride, power, etc. Seeing her picture on the cover of Vanity Fair many good people cheered, while other good people said, “this is ridiculous and missing the point.”

It’s understandable that events like these are complicated. Also maddening. For example, a headline story on CNN today mostly ignores the complicated issues of identity while asking the seemingly more superficial question about how Dolezal got her hair to look like a black woman’s? However, as Venus is currently approaching the Jupiter and Uranus trine, we have to consider the idea that this particular headline about her hair isn’t JUST superficial. It’s also Venusian.
This isn’t just an issue of race if you’re considering the planetary symbolism, in other words. It’s about complexion. Complexion is the topography of beauty and appearance, the living landscape or ecosystem of the body, inside and out. Things are not always as they appear. Image. Identity. Race. Color. Gender. Perhaps the more rigidly we try to define or defend ANY kind of identity the more we invite the eventual deliteralizing of the category.

This isn’t anything new. Here’s a few examples of things you hear people say along these lines (regardless of if they are true or not):

* Our president, though black, feels white
* I feel like a gay man in a woman’s body
* My skin is white but my soul is black
* I identify with ghetto culture, even though I didn’t grow up in the ghetto
* I feel like a country girl even though I grew up in the city
* That black girl has been trying to be white ever since she was born
* I identify with Native American culture, even though I’m from New Jersey

We’ve probably all heard something like this in the past, but what are the ramifications? To some extent what we’re learning is that things like race and gender are archetypal before and after they are literally connected to skin color or sex parts or literal men or literal women. This creates a bit of a conundrum for us. Because when it comes to defending our essential dignity, we’re having to learn how to shift the idea of essential dignity to something beyond race, creed, color, gender, income class, etc, while also fighting for the rights of people still experiencing prejudice because of attacks directed toward them because of these very categories. So part of us wants to defend the essential dignity of these categories, while another part desperately wants to go beyond them all together.

Essential dignity is therefore (perhaps) best thought of in terms of the soul, the freedom and mystery of who we are that is always cloaked or veiled…never quite understood by literal identification with archetypes of any kind, but also always craving to be in relationship with archetypes of many kinds (and sometimes preferring some much more literally or concretely than others).

Similarly, in the astrology world we face the same problems all the time. For example, does the chart describe who we are objectively or does it describe patterns, potentials, or life events? The differences might seem subtle but the ramifications are big. If we think our birth charts are describing who we are, like a blue print, or an objective fact report, then archetypes might eventually feel like stereotypes and then we’ll create an elaborate argument against archetypes when what we’re really fed up with is the tendency to use archetypes in an objectifying manner.

Just like a Scorpio does and often does not want to be defined by, described by, or reduced to their Sun sign, black people, white people, feminine people, masculine people, straight people, bi people, trans people, do and don’t want to be described by or reduced to these kinds of categories.

Point being that stereotypes are not always archetypal and archetypes are not always stereotypical. Race and gender (and all the other triggering categories) are and are not about the literal things they signify.

Archetypal astrology can play a big role in helping us work through the quagmire of these issues because its primary strength as a practice lies in its ability to remind us of the translucent and eternal pattern within the literal “thing” or “idea,” but also of the literal thing, object, or ‘fact’ within the eternal image.

Prayer: Each one of us are caricatures of the things we think we are. We are and we are not these things. Help us to constantly see through the literalness of our pieces while also honoring our love for each one.

To learn more about the Nightlight Astrology School, or to follow Adam Elenbaas:

Image by courtesy of Valentina, at creative commons image licensing