* Although sometimes we refer to any planet in the sign opposite its own as being it its “detriment,” it was also classically said to be in its exile. The connotation of the word exile is completely different from the word “detriment,” which sounds technical, dry, and negative to most people’s ears.
* Mars is in its exile in Venus’ sign because Mars becomes the outsider, the wanderer, the foreigner, the stranger in a strange land, in the temple of Venus. Mars is out of his element in Venus’ sign because Mars and Venus are planetary contraries in the classical language of astrology.
* Mars in Venus’ sign is both the march of political progress and the “pc” rage of the left. It’s the fine line between the self-righteousness or noble warrior. Today we’ll spend more time with and expand upon these particular images of Mars in Libra.
* In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that there are three modes of material nature, translated as goodness, passion, and ignorance. In order for goodness to reign, passion and ignorance have to be held in check or suppressed. Similarly, in order for any one mode to reign, the other modes have to be held in check or suppressed. Regardless of which mode we prefer, or which mode we feel we is best, Krishna tells us that insofar as we are material beings, we are in the service of the constant competing and changes of domination among the modes of material nature. So when it comes to fighting for “goodness,” we are always suppressing other fundamental aspects of nature.
* Think for example of a beautiful garden. In order to make sure the garden remains a beautiful and serene place, constant upkeep is necessary. We have to cut back the weeds, guard against excessive heat and dryness, keep out the critters, etc. And yet, while walking in the garden when it’s peaceful we tend to think of that peace and serenity as completely “natural.” We forget about the other forces we have to suppress, constantly, in order to maintain that feeling of “natural” beauty.
* In the world it’s the same thing. Most of us hold the ideals of peace and goodness, but it is taboo to bring attention to the fact that in order for this peace and goodness to be maintained we literally have to suppress many other competing and totally “natural” forces. We are insistent that goodness is natural and everything else is unnatural, but Krishna tells us that each of the material modes insists upon its dominance, even the mode goodness, at the cost of the other modes. In other words, each of the modes, when it is in power, thinks of itself as the MOST natural. Krishna also tells us that because nothing in the material world is permanent that ultimately people who are attached to goodness may be perpetuating the wheel of karma, and future births, just as much as those who are attached to ignorance or passion.
* At this point, people often tune out because the immediate implication of the Gita seems to be that we are somehow supposed to deny our material nature in order to find spiritual peace. This feels to us impossible. Aristotle said that we are by nature political/social animals, and so it would appear that the path of yoga (and other similar paths) is asking us to detach from or disengage from our basic social nature. Most of us see disengagement from social/political action as irresponsible at best and morally or even spiritually reprehensible at worst. And yet, I think most of us also recognize that what Krishna teaches Arjuna about the modes of material nature is absolutely true. We can’t ever create ultimate or permanent goodness in the material world because change is constant and because our material nature includes forces other than goodness that are always jockeying for supremacy. So what do we do?!
* Krishna tells Arjuna that the path of yoga means both doing our material duties while also remaining unattached to the fruits of our actions. This is epitomized in the Gita by Krishna encouraging Arjuna to fight in a battle that Arjuna is reluctant about because he will be battling against his own family members (a civil war).
* We find ourselves in a similar situation, all the time; predictable extremes ensue, and astrology is all about recognizing them. If we fight for political progress, what props up our sense of righteousness, happiness, rightness, morality, integrity, honor, etc, are the results we seek in contrast to those people or values that oppose them. Anybody who asks us to compromise is an enemy. Anybody who asks us to consider our own culpability within the constant competing of the material modes of nature is a victim blamer. Anybody who tries to get us to think about the fact that dominance of one mode is exactly what perpetuates the eventual dominance of the other modes is a spiritual bi-passer, or worse, they are “privileged” or actually an unconscious member of the wrong team. And by means of this kind of hyper-reactionary vigilance, taken up in the name of “peace on earth,” the same predictable battle is fought, perpetually.
* On the other hand, people collapse into the spiritual extreme and they try to suppress material nature altogether. Political action of all kinds is condescended toward, the unconscious biases of our material natures are ignorantly disregarded as we attempt to float above their obvious influences, and although we absolutely cannot avoid being material creatures, we go about acting just as dissociatively and arrogantly as ever, completely unaware of where we actually stand on the battlefield.
* Can we entertain the idea that the most radical political and spiritual position always involves learning how to hold the tension between passion and humility? Can we consider the sobering and tremendously challenging idea that whatever arrogant zeal there might be within our visions of spiritual OR material or historical or social progress and evolution, it is perpetuating an all too familiar, cyclical, and recuring arms race?
* We live in a culture right now that has lost track of how radical it is to hold the tension of the opposites. It’s easy to be a victim, and it’s easy to blame victims. It’s easy to spiritually bi-pass our political responsibilities, and it’s easy to forget that our souls live beyond these cyclical and mostly predictable material and political dramas. It’s easy to speak up and it’s easy to be silenced. It’s difficult to speak up and embody the silence of genuine humility at once. It’s difficult to be in this world but not of it. It’s difficult to find the motivation to bail water on a sinking ship. It’s difficult to build a good ship, one that you know will not last forever.
* How we do things sometimes matters more than what we do. How we hold our beliefs and our calling is sometimes more important than which calling or form of action is the right one, whether we consider the right call to action to be more “spiritual” OR more “political.”
All of this is a meditation on the archetypal tension between the opposites, a relationship that defines every planet’s position in its place of power as well as its place of exile. This month it’s Mars and Venus, with Mars being forced into its exile in Venus’ sign. Most every mystical tradition has taught us that these opposites are fundamental to the material world, and most every mystical tradition has also suggested the holding of the tension of these opposites as the path of eternal freedom, peace, bliss, joy, co-creativity, and liberation.
Prayer: Teach us the radical 3rd.