Astronote: Independence and Interrelatedness
From our good friend Chris Largent
If you’ve had an odd week, you’re not alone. And this past weekend focused the elements of that oddness. By weekend, I mean March 31st and April 1st - we know Sunday was April Fools Day, because it snowed in the Northeast (into Monday, no less). What’s up? This: a full moon Saturday in Aries and Libra, with Mercury retrograde sitting next to the Sun, wondering what the heck is going on, especially since the Sun and Moon are both squaring Mars in Capricorn sitting next to Mr. Cheerful, Saturn in Capricorn.
In plain English: All the astrology stuff really focuses on our inner conversation (or tension) between independence and interrelatedness. In our book on the mystic path, co-author Denise Breton challenged the notion that to be in a relationship, we have to give up independence - and that to be independent, we have to give up relationships.
She challenged this, because if we look at independence and interrelatedness, how is it possible to have one without the other? How can we really know who we are in a vacuum? How can a relationship happen unless it’s between two independent people? Yes, we all know about codependence and relationships that are poster-children for mutual enslavement - but these are not what we’re hoping for in our lives.
So, the full moon (Sun in Aries opposing Moon in Libra) invites us to be contemplative (Mercury retrograde) about both (a) what we want and who we are in a relationship and (b) the relationship dynamics that serve genuine interrelatedness.
The key here is that the interrelatedness is the larger context. The higher goal of experiencing interconnectedness is the meaning-giving context for all relationships.
Often we ignore this, reducing the relationship to its specific conditions, that is, to the details of being together, which, though important, are just the trees in the interrelatedness-forest. Then, if some condition isn’t what we want, we think the relationship has “failed” (a peculiar notion that occurs only in controlling societies).
The really practical (and human) approach is to ask: how does our interrelatedness give the specific conditions of the relationship meaning (not the other way around)?
For instance, in his excellent work, 'The 8 Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution,' Dudley Weeks notices that when couples have a conflict over some condition (money, in-laws, children, intimacy, work, the backyard, the dishes, whatever), they reduce the relationship to the conflict.
Taking the opposite approach - interrelatedness as the larger context - Dudley Weeks points out that the conflict gives the couple an opportunity to learn conflict resolution skills. They’re really in a ‘conflict-resolution’ partnership in dealing with the troubling specific conditions. They’re exploring a new sense of interrelatedness.
Of course, too few of us actually do what Dudley Weeks is suggesting, but that’s the point of the full moon and the Mercury retrograde: what can we learn now about the larger context of interrelatedness as it informs both our independence and our connectedness?
And that’s an open question - now and all the time. Often, metafizzy or religious people preach at us, as if they know the right way to do all of this and we don’t. But since each person and each relationship is unique, no one else but the two people involved know what to do - and even they’re flying blind a lot of the time. (This is one of the reasons we have Einstein’s quote over the door of the Seventh Academy: “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.”) The open-question approach allows us to explore new ways of relating.
The energy element (either draining or over the top) is symbolized by Mars square the full moon. We may have lots of energy. Or we may feel uninspired and disconnected. We may feel anger or desire. We may have confrontations with others or ourselves. But we need to develop the relatedness skills that allow us to be who we really are to and to bring our real selves into our relationships. And only we can do that.
As Saturn squaring the full moon reminds us, there’s no authority figure who can tell us what to do. (Authority figures and their moralizing are likely to be annoying now.) Rather, we need to establish our own inner authority in dealing with relationship structures: are these structures oppressive limitations, or are they foundations for security and independence combined? Are we trapped in these, or can we launch a new sense of ourselves from them? Benjamin Franklin famously remarked that if we give up freedom to get security, we end up with neither. That’s true during this full moon weekend and the rest of the retrograde (which ends mid-April). To paraphrase psychologist Viktor Frankl’s question: how do we thrive in the tension between our independence and our interrelatedness?
The good news during this time is that we can deeply contemplate what’s going on in the great transformation of our lives, so that we are fully capable of making 2018 a real turning-point for our sense of freedom and connectedness.
Thanks for reading!