• The Material Issue

    Horoscopes for March 2017

    The Material Issue
    Horoscopes 3

    Everything you need to know about the Earth opening up and swallowing your planets or the other way around.


    Corina Dross is an artist, astrologer, and rabble-rouser best known for her illustrated card deck, Portable Fortitude. Based out of Philadelphia for the last ten years, she’s currently splitting her time between the East Coast and the Northwest.



    March 2017

    Venus, brightest planet, circles backward this month through the red rage of Aries. Traditional astrologers would have us believe that Venus, planet of love, is unhappy in a sign ruled by the planet of war. They present Venus and Mars as incompatible experiences – the passive and the active, the feminine and masculine, the pacifist and the fighter. But what we know of these myths comes to us from the Romans, who absorbed and distorted earlier stories from the Greeks, who themselves twisted and rewrote cosmology from the Babylonians, who had learned a thing or two from the Egyptians. Somewhere in these sedimentary layers of history, patriarchy arose and something else got buried and erased. There were once other deities, and other ideas about love.

    If love is synonymous with peace, harmony, compromise and cooperation, it would make sense that Venus rules Libra (sign of all those things). In Libra we also see the civic ideals of a society of equals, who can rely on diplomacy and discourse to meet their needs. The opposite sign, Aries, represents all that is insurgent and impatient, angry and impulsive. We see Libra and Aries at odds in every protest where peace police try to subdue and contain the rowdier elements. We see it play out in every media narrative decrying direct action as a form of terrorism or as cynical mercenary activity. This year, the Aries energy is dominating. Not just among the left, where it has become acceptable and encouraged to punch Nazis, but also among the alt-right, whose posture as defiant underdogs has accelerated their rise to power. As Venus moves retrograde in Aries this month and part of next, we’re all primed for a deeper examination of how love and defense are intimately intertwined. This can play out through the knee-jerk fears of white Americans trying to “protect” their country from all sorts of imagined threats, or through the bravery of participants in the black bloc rushing into rows of police to shield an elderly woman from their streams of pepper spray.

    Venus turns retrograde once every eight years, a rhythm that is currently tied to our election cycle: the last Venus retrograde was shortly after Obama’s inauguration. It’s a time when we question what we love, how we love, and how we’re being loved. It can be tumultuous, especially with Venus in the fiery sign of Aries. But if love is at the core of any revolutionary program, we need to spend this month learning to love each other better. This means healing our social schisms and petty grudges, where we can. This means looking out for our friends and neighbors and colleagues targeted by ICE. This means feeding one another, listening to each other’s anxieties, learning what haunts us about our own potential to hurt each other, finding ways toward freedom together, and loving the fierceness with which we fight. Because it’s time to fight. As Rumi wrote, “Love comes with a knife.” And as retrograde Venus melts back into compassionate Pisces later this month, we’ll be accessing our desire to fight for what we love through the strongest sense of connection to our sense of collectivity, of being part of something larger.

    This month, commit yourself to what you love as though you alone could save it. Let your love for each other, for this planet, for your favorite bird, or poem, or song be what catalyzes you into showing up more fiercely. Lead the charge. We’ve got your back.

    “In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man [sic]
    As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
    Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage.”

    William Shakespeare, Henry V


    Your hunger for freedom can be as violent as a sunrise, whose blood-red streaks alarm the birds into wild hooting. This month paints you in brilliant colors. You are vivid. You are surprising to yourself, even. Whatever it is you think you are chasing, it is actually the dawn you are trying to sneak up on within yourself, again and again.


    This month you’re like Odysseus lashed to the mast, having bound yourself in order to hear the siren calls tempting you to your own destruction without having the power to follow them. As these sirens began to sing for Odysseus, he went mad and tried to tear his ropes away, desiring only some kind of consummation that would transform him from flesh into something slippery and silent. Luckily for you, your bonds this month feel more like a relief: you’ve made your big decisions, and you’re merely following through on the desires of your past self. New desires will arise, unexpected voices may beckon you off course, but you are tied to what you believe in most.


    Last night I dreamt we were scientists together, trying to discover how long a certain deer skull had been buried before we unearthed it. You hushed the general debate by announcing you had a method for directly experiencing pure truth. You went away somehow, easily, and when you returned we asked you what you’d learned. “Everything.” you said. “So how old is the skull, then?” we asked. “It doesn’t matter. That’s the wrong question,” you answered, satisfied. The scientists were not, though. I asked you to show me this experience of unmediated reality, thinking I’d be able to find the answer myself. Instead, I watched as the room stretched out into infinite dimensions, each rich with sensory data, filling gaps I hadn’t even noticed before – blank spots in the world that were now lush and perfect. I searched for my question and there was no way to ask it anymore; here there was no before and after, no thread that didn’t pull on every other facet of the world. I returned equally satisfied, and equally unable to answer the scientists, who continued to howl for answers. This month, remember what you know and can never describe. Be satisfied.


    Even if you can’t look in a mirror right now without seeing the ghost of your grandmother, who was quietly tyrannical but meant well, you’re needed in the here and now in some dauntingly public role. Don’t hide behind your history and your shyness and your meandering way of arriving at the core of any story. Your absence leaves a stain, even if you can’t see it. Your presence helps hold the many pieces of your world in creative tension, like a thousand strings of colored lights all twirling around the axis of your attention. Pay attention to the stories you need to share with the world this month. Find a way to tell them. Stay with us as more than a ghost.


    There is a kind of death of the heart that happens when you begin to believe you’ve already experienced the best years of your life. It can hit you at the age of 7 or 70, and the pernicious lie it feeds you is that the known past is a safer place to dwell than the unknown future. There is nothing safe about nostalgia, which was classed as a potentially fatal illness in the 19th century. It burrows into your soul the way sugar digs holes in your teeth, insidiously. As Venus turns retrograde this month, you’ll be tempted to immerse yourself in past love and loss, letting the dull pain eat at you like a cavity. Resist the urge to fling an arm above your brow and throw yourself upon a mossy rock for vultures to find. Instead, trust that all the beauty that has filled your heart so far has been teaching you how to experience a kind of love that you send into the world rather than wait to receive.


    In order to remember what you love about the world, you have to be ready to grieve every piece of wildness that has been lost and destroyed. Your own hard youth; the river you grew up next to; the vacant lot full of mulberries that is now a condo; every vacant lot that is now a condo; every river now oily and effluviant; every youth gone cold and hard in order to handle the unlooked-for pain. If you don’t remember and grieve what you love about the world, pain will be the only reality you can bear to see. Wherever wildness is still thrashing and cawing and blooming, and wherever it has been erased, you can borrow the eyes of a hundred bison and thousands of songbirds and millions of ants to see a larger picture.


    There’s a danger to entrusting pieces of yourself to the people you love. You may not even recognize you’re giving away these morsels and meals. You’ll only notice that you start to feel hungry when your sister or husband or lover is away. Listlessly hungry; not voracious but anemic. The answer isn’t always to hunt down these wandering beloveds and press your face against theirs until you can feel your own essence flowing back into you. Nor is the answer to start feeding new people in the hopes they’ll feed you pieces of themselves and then at least you’ll all be less empty. Instead, it’s easier than you think to call all your pieces home. Move backward in your memory, scooping up your finest moments and building tiny homes for them in the tree of your backbone. Remember it was you who has done and made and adored and received all those fine gestures and offerings. Call back your darling selves like pet birds, like a net of silk pulling clouds down from the sky. There is a feast waiting for you that only you can provide.


    There is a shape you’re forced to take through service. A school, a workplace, a prison, or a family role may demand you assume some pose that’s convenient for the powers that be but uncomfortable for you. Like twisting your arm at an unnatural angle and holding it there and trying to write a résumé. Like being an artist’s model who thinks she can keep her wrist flexed at this angle for about three hours without daggers of pain and numbness seizing her arm, and finds out after fifteen minutes she was wrong. Like trying to pour a whole fizzing bottle of seltzer into a thimble. For you, love this month means finding a space within these walls. A way to move when you’re asked to stay still. A way to twist back into a shape that fits you better, without terrible repercussions. Even if that means letting yourself fizz every so slowly out of whatever container is supposed to hold you. Be that slow hiss ... if you can’t explode.


    While Taurus spends this month like Odysseus tied to the mast, you’ll be wishing you had a mast to be tied to. What ballast do you have during this turbulent time? Your teeth on a lover’s ear won’t hold fast, nor should they. The ground that rain has turned to mud invites you to slide in all sorts of directions you don’t intend. You have to think bigger. Think gravitational mass. Think orbits. Align your energy with the collective movements of vast bodies, and all the smaller forces within them. You’re not lost.


    Even the happiest of childhoods ends. The hard ones last far too long. Whichever yours was, there’s something that stops you short when you begin to meander backward through the years, perhaps as you’re falling asleep or lost in thought at a traffic light. You know your adult self can be likened to a shell of some kind, opalescent on your best days, barnacled on your worst. Whatever tender morsel of crushed faith or thwarted curiousity lurks within, you’d rather not see it writhe in the daylight. This month, however, you’ll feel an inner pull. Something young in you has a message for the outer world. There is more strength and vibrance in your past than your surface memories reveal. Dig a little deeper, and don’t be afraid to pry apart several of your protective layers. What you find will help you fall back in love with yourself.


    Transhumanists and cyborg enthusiasts point out that we are already inextricably merged with our machines. Many dream of consciousness divorced from our bodies, or at least of bodies that we can modify and upgrade without any squishy disasters or irretrievable loss. What these ambitions overlook is the intelligence that flows through our intestines and fingertips and spinal column. We know how to think not because we have brains but because we are bodies. The organs hum to us in our sleep. Our guts know what’s wrong long before our language-making supplies a plausible story. What we sense is dense and full in ways we have barely begun to know. This month, don’t leave your body out of the conversation, and don’t berate it like it’s some recalcitrant pack animal not pulling its load. Listen for what it can tell you beneath language.


    So what if men in suits call you a pariah and a criminal. They’ve never read any Genet. They have no idea how to define grace beyond what they’ve misheard while dozing in pews in the suburbs of Dallas. What matters now is that you remember how to disarm them (literally) and (figuratively) everyone currently huddled behind shutters peering suspiciously at the public square. You need to remember what you’ve done before, in dreams, in inspired reveries, in flight.

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