|Pluto Travels through the Mind
The transformation that is taking place in Americans' attitudes toward mental health is very exciting. Of course, as an astrologer, I see this as the result of Pluto, the planet of transformation, moving slowly through the polar signs of Gemini and Sagittarius. These two signs deal with the workings of the mind.
One of my clients devoted her life to a study of the mind. When she was in high school, she fell in love with a very nice boy. His parents were against the liaison because she was not of the same religion. They dated for 3 years but were forced by family pressure to end the relationship. He "lost his mind". The last time my client saw him was a visit to a mental hospital where he had been committed -- labelled incurable. "What is a mind that you can "lose" it?" she thought. Thus began a lifetime journey for her to settle this question to her own satisfaction.
The much acclaimed film, "A Beautiful Mind" has been the first of many recent films to take a new look at the mystifying territory of "the Mind". The mental disintegration of mathematical genius John Nash is explored with interest and sensitivity.
Nash wrote a 27-page dissertation, "Non-Cooperative Games", in 1950 when he was just 21 years old. Eight years later he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In 1970 the disease went into remission and in 1994 John Nash was honored with the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Nash claimed his mental condition was due to living on the "ultralogical plane" and breathing "rarefied air" not meant for mere mortals. Nash believed this permitted him to make unique contributions to his field. He was not so sure that being normal was the way to go.
I attended a high school in the Midwest with over 4,000 students. It was in another era, and our school was divided into sections according to how smart we were. The academic pecking order was no secret.
The "gifted" on one extreme and the "educable mentally handicapped" (henceforth, EMH) on the other, flanked the vast "average" majority which included homecoming queens, cheerleaders, football captions and others equally blessed with normalcy. The three groups were segregated from each other during the school day.
Kids from all three learning groups were mixed together in study hall and I noticed that the two extreme groups - the gifted and the EMHers -- seemed to meet somewhere in the middle. They were more like each other than either was like the normal.
This is a phenomenon of polarity. For example, hot and cold are both degrees of temperature. Dry ice, a temperature extreme, is so cold that it burns. It really seems hot. In this context, the saying "when hell freezes over" really makes sense.
Both the gifted and the EMH groups were fidgety and restless. Both were socially ill at ease and amazingly un-self-conscious for high school. Both groups tended to "read aloud", mumbling words or moving their fingers across a page as they were reading. And, I'm sorry to say, both groups were chosen with equal degrees of victimization to endure the teasing of the average group in the middle.
An astrologer notices that the amount of mental energy surging through the circuits of the gifted mind does not leave much to focus on the physical world. As with Nash, these people tend to live in a rarefied atmosphere and don't often "touch down" to the mundane world to take care of things like dandruff, acne and body odor.
In the case of the EMH students, one suspects disrupted mental circuits, dead ends and hot wires, to speak descriptively. The charts of both gifted and educable mentally handicapped are indistinguishable save for the focus and grouping of planets so common in the charts of the gifted (called Stelliums or more correctly Stellia). Without this grouping, they would be as "scattered" mentally or mentally "undone" as the EMHers.
Another characteristic of gifted charts is an afflicted Ascendant. What results from this is that many gifted people are unable to make a positive first impression. If you will pardon a play on words, they do not speak well for themselves. Is it any wonder they escape to the higher realms? Or is it because they escape to the higher realms that they make such a poor first impression? (Fortunately there are plenty of people in this world who can see beyond first impressions.)
The Ascendant describes the way you appear upon first meeting, including the way you talk and process information from your environment. The genius Albert Einstein may not have talked until he was 3 years old. Winston Churchill, another genius, had a lisp and failed often in school when something didn't capture his interest. According to his official biographer, Churchill was believed to be physically repulsive to his own father. Of course this is entirely subjective and unjustified, if you look at photos of this great man as a baby. But life behind the Ascendant of an astrology chart IS very subjective and the outer world will confirm to the expectations embodied in the chart.
No one would argue that world renowned Stephen Hawking is a very compelling example of this phenomenon. Hawking, who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the complications of which have made it impossible for him to speak at all (tracheotomy), is quoted on his website (www.hawking.org.uk) as saying, "One's voice is very important. If you have a slurred voice, people are likely to treat you as mentally deficient."
Often in the charts of the educable mentally handicapped, the afflicted Rising Sign characterizes a physical condition which has led to mental problems or an approach to social situations that reflects an inability to process and respond to social cues such as proper distance, appropriate gestures, chat style, and so forth.
Sometimes mentally deficient individuals simply do not understand or care how their physical body connects with the social stratosphere. I once read an article about a retarded couple who had a baby that kept slipping out of the carry seat because her well meaning but borderline retarded parents simply could not remember to strap her in. Please remember that I am being descriptive, not critical.
What happened to John Nash? Did the bundling pull too tight and break the circuits? Was too much mental energy sent through the circuits at one time because of the tremendous rate of vibration of his brain? Were emotional and psychological territories starved for energy and left to atrophy like a limb with gangrene? Nash's own words are as descriptive and "poetic" as these … rarefied air and ultralogical plane. We don't know what happened. We are all fascinated.
On the other end of the spectrum, in June 2002 the Supreme Court overturned in a 6-3 vote the 1989 decision in Penry v. Lynaugh ( 492 US 584), that mental retardation would not prohibit the death penalty but it would be considered an extenuating circumstance in the crime.
Thirteen years later, Atkins v Virginia (122 S.Ct. 2242) purported to reflect "changing views" toward mental retardation. Apparently Americans were no longer willing to see people executed who could not be held morally responsible for their actions
Atkins argued that the mentally retarded
could not reason well enough to aid in their own defenses. In most cases, they could not understand abstract concepts such as Miranda rights, self-incrimination and death. As many newspapers agreed, it had now become possible to be "too dumb to die".
In its decision, the Supreme Court referred to "evolving standards of decency" regarding mental condition. Gallup Poll findings from May 23, 2002 indicated that 82% of Americans opposed the use of the death penalty for the mentally retarded, while 13% supported it. Estimates vary but most sources agree that at least 34 people with mental retardation have been executed in the United States since the repeal of a ban on capital punishment in 1977. Most of these people had an IQ of around 66.
One of the things that may have shaped public opinion is the January 24, 1992 execution of Ricky Ray Rector in the State of Arkansas, with the blessing of Bill Clinton. Laura Mansnerus writes in a July 21, 2001 New York Times article, Damaged Brains and the Death Penalty, "You don't have to be a psychiatrist, Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis says, to know that something was terribly wrong with Ricky Ray Rector, who before his execution in Arkansas ordered his last meal and asked that the pecan pie be set aside so he could have it later." Rector was not mentally retarded but had shot himself in the head at the time he committed his capital crime. He had a lobotomy.
Furthermore, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes, "Evolving standards of decency mean many different things to different people. But an important part of our standards of decency derive from our scientific understanding of behavior. I believe the time will come when we recognize that it is equally indecent to execute the mentally ill."
Most people did not expect the results of Atkins, even those who were most ardently advocating for it. It seems that times have indeed changed. And if the time comes when mental illness as well as mental retardation becomes grounds to avoid the death penalty, transformation will indeed have occurred.
As astrologers we understand that the mutable modality deals with the sensitive connection between the mind and the body or psycho-soma. Early attempts to understand this connection resulted in the label "psychosomatic" for certain conditions for which there appeared to be no physical basis, such as hysteria, certain types of paralysis, colitis and heart palpitations.
The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. As Pluto travels through the sign of Sagittarius, and recently opposed by Saturn in Gemini, .these planets also squared Virgo and Pisces.
Michael Lutin has called Gemini and Sagittarius "the mental health axis". A condition such as schizophrenia can in simplistic terms be the result of a child wishing to reconcile the beliefs and demands of two parents from insurmountably different backgrounds.
For example, one parent says if you're not a Catholic your soul will be doomed to eternal damnation and further believes that divorce is a mortal sin. The other parent initiates divorce proceedings, begins going to Unitarian Church and tells you that if you continue going to Catholic Church s/he will quit seeing you on the weekends because it's "too stupid". A child trying to reconcile this set of instructions could blow a few circuits in the brain. These conflicts are not solved at the mental level, least of all by a child.
I do not mean to oversimplify mental illness. I'm explaining in esoteric and intuitive terms the underlying beliefs that cause mental imbalances. In this case the underlying belief would be that things like this are reconcilable which they are not. The healthy choice - if this child makes it to adulthood in reasonably good shape -- would be to transcend this inner dialogue into something that says, I love both my parents but I do not love their beliefs. I accept that each is well meaning but I also accept that I do not need to be like them in order to love myself. I will choose a religion that works for me or none at all while continuing to love both parents. And if this means that I lose the love of one parent, then at least I love myself and have the other." Alas, this transcendence is not easy and many fall by the wayside.
Pluto (and Saturn) also square Virgo and Pisces at the same time that they are traveling through Gemini and Sagittarius. The Virgo/Pisces axis produces negative mental conditions such as free floating anxiety, phobias, autism, anal compulsive disorders, despair, suicide and "suicide by cop/traffic accident/innocent bystander/or/freak accident", etc.
Another disturbing phenomenon is a 273% increase in autism in the state of California in and 11-year time span. There is an urgent need to discover the "cause" of this condition.
The mental imbalance that produces these conditions is a defense against the inherent chaos of life and feelings of helplessness. In turn, the basis of this fear is an irrational belief that the universe is controllable in the first place.
Further disruptions in these energies can occur with the presence of over-crowding, air pollution, noise pollution and stress.
The mutable signs are connected with the pulse of life, the rhythm of breath and threshold sequences such as in/out breathing, day/night, land/sea, dusk/dawn and crossroads. Proper rhythms are of the utmost important for good mental health. During the transit of Pluto through Sagittarius, we are experiencing many disruptions of these energies on the planet. The rise of asthma, now a chronic condition in many children, is a result of over crowding and air pollution. Sometimes the over-crowding can be of one's own schedule. There needs to be spaces in life. This is something the Orientals are far more aware of than we Occidentals.
The Internet is another manifestation of this phenomenon. The super glut of information, the speed of transmittal, the galactic rate of evolution and the transformation of the entire field of communication has resulted in a type of paralysis in all but the more intrepid of the mutable signs. In this regard, esoterically, Sagittarius is of great help, because it contributes the understanding that at some point information must be turned into knowledge and a decision made or it is of no use whatsoever. More is not better. Enough is good.
You may have noticed that the Internet is designed the way an intuitive thinks. This is a function of Sagittarius and in this way, it is developing intuition in everyone that uses it. The way you can hop from page to page and topic to topic is similar to the way Gemini multi-tasks or watches several different tv shows at one time. It will be interesting to see how much the Internet has transformed our ways of learning by the time Pluto leaves Sagittarius in 2008.
Nancy R. Fenn has been an astrologer and intuitive consultant in the San Diego for over 25 years. She enjoys working with creatives, intuitives and visionaries to help them discover their mission in life. Nancy's mission in life is to raise consciousness about introversion as a legitimate personality syle. Visit Nancy on the web at www.bemyastrologer.com