The Healing Awareness of Duality
The first eclipse of 2012 arrives on Sunday, May 20 at 7:47 p.m. EDT. This is a solar annular eclipse (a narrow ring of the Sun is visible) that can be seen in western Canada and the northwestern United States. The eclipse happens in the very first degree of Gemini.
Eclipses function like giant energy transformers, bringing processes that have been operating in the background of our lives forcefully into the foreground. Eclipses tend to be felt most spectacularly when they conjoin, square or oppose the Sun, Moon, Ascendant or other important planets in your natal chart. But since they do affect us all to one degree or another, the twice-a-year eclipse seasons (a solar and lunar eclipse occurring two weeks apart) tend to create chaotic emotional and mental conditions.
Gemini is the first Air sign, the sign of individual thinking. Gemini is also the ultimate symbol of duality in the zodiac and this eclipse promises to bring the inherent duality of the human mind into focus. Those of us influenced by Eastern philosophy or New Age spirituality tend to think along the lines of duality = bad, but we would be better off recognizing it as a part of the human condition: not something to be denied or transcended, but something to be understood and integrated.
I was talking to a psychologist friend today who told me that patients with full-blown multiple personality disorder can manifest a medically provable disease when one personality is in charge. The body shows all the symptoms of leukemia, for example. Then when the other personality takes over, the person is retested and the body is symptom-free.
This got me thinking about the power of the mind and about the ability we all have to shift our thinking and literally shift our reality. That’s easier said than done for most of us, but it’s comforting to know that we are capable of doing it.
As the eclipse approaches, I’ve been very aware of some of the dualities in my own mind. I see the side of myself that gets overwhelmed emotionally by adverse circumstances. This mind tells me that I am somehow to blame when my ability to deal with the challenges I’m facing seems barely adequate. If I were only stronger, more spiritual, less angry, more committed to my spiritual practice, this part says, I wouldn’t be suffering when the going gets tough.
Then I see the other side of myself, the side that accepts that life on Earth is challenging, that knows I came here not only to share my gifts with the world but to learn some tough soul lessons. This part of me accepts the fact that I sometimes feel overwhelmed and inadequate. It knows this is all part of the growth process and it trusts that I will make it through to the other side and be stronger and more flexible and wiser because of having endured the hardships we all have to face at certain times in our lives.
As egoic minds, we want to label one of these sides of the Self “good” and the other “bad”. We want to reform (or punish) the bad side and we want to emphasize and nourish the good side. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. It seems to be a part of our nature to want to look and feel our best, to feel that we are “good” and to hope for a happy ending.
The trap of the egoic mind, though, is in convincing us to vilify or deny or run away from our weakness, our darkness, our shadow. What this eclipse gives us the opportunity to do is to see both of these sides more clearly. Each has something powerful to offer us, but we can only receive their gifts when we accept their existence within the soul.
The Tarot card for Gemini is The Lovers. This card expresses the potential of creating a union of opposites. It doesn’t symbolize the transcendence of one of the polarities; rather it offers the vision that we can bring these two sides together to create a whole that is more potent than the two separated halves.
The Lovers card shows us that the proper use of the mind is to learn about duality – to use Gemini’s inherent curiosity to inform us – rather than to identify with one side over the other.
This might be especially challenging at this present moment, as the eclipse forms a Grand Cross to Mars in Virgo and to Neptune and Chiron in Pisces. Mars in Virgo symbolizes the will to purify the self by discriminating right from wrong and what is useful from that which is non-helpful. Negatively, Mars in Virgo shows up as judgment – often in the form of self-criticism and perfectionism.
Neptune and Chiron in Pisces offer us the opportunity to visualize where we have been wounded in our capacity to trust and to use the imagination to heal that wound. Negatively, this can manifest as a fatalistic acceptance of our core woundedness resulting in addictive, escapist behaviors, or as choosing to withdraw from the struggle into a fantasy world.
Virgo wants to create perfection by using the mind to perfect the self in the physical world. Pisces wants to achieve perfection by dissolving out of the ego and merging into the already perfect Oneness underlying the manifest world. Both of these are valid approaches; either can become destructive if we ignore the other half of that duality.
Grand crosses tend to be among the most difficult astrological patterns to deal with because they pull us in four directions at once. (As another friend said on the phone the other day: “Gemini eclipse. Great. That means bipolar, right?”) Eclipse season always demands that we pay extra attention to staying grounded, practicing patience with ourselves and those around us, and remembering that this too shall pass – and trusting that life is trying to move us closer to where we really want to be.
Sunday’s Gemini eclipse puts a premium on those proactive behaviors and insists that we hold on to our capacity for curiosity. If we can observe our inherent dualism without falling too far into judgment or floating too far off into our fantasies, we stand to gain powerful insight that can help us unify – rather than transcend – the seemingly disparate parts of the Self.