I grew up reading Rob Brezsny’s eccentric “Real Astrology” column in the back of the local arts and events paper, The Metro. Our habit was to read out-loud the weekly Brezsny horoscopes for whoever was in the room, or even just read them all for the fun of it – especially the week of Halloween, when he gives funny costume suggestions. I have always found that it doesn’t much matter which sun sign you are, Brezsny’s horoscopes are really little meditations that anyone can benefit from contemplating. They just happen to be inspired by his knowledge of astrology.*
Most of the time Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology column just makes me laugh, and say “What else is new?” Sometimes, it makes me go “Huh…” or even last week’s “Oh dear, I hope this one’s not for me!”
Today’s horoscope makes me choke up and try to avoid crying:
I love to watch an evolved Scorpio get his or her needs met by helping other people get their needs met. It’s thrilling to behold the paradoxical Scorpio assets in action: the combination of manipulativeness and generosity; the animal magnetism working in service to the greater good; the resourceful willpower that carries out hidden agendas and complex strategies designed to make the world a better place. I expect to see a lot of this idiosyncratic wisdom from you in the
Now, I wince at the New Age use of “evolved” to mean “well-rounded, mature and wise”. But that’s another rant.**
This hits me hard because it describes exactly what I’ve been fighting with for… well, since at least puberty. I’m all too aware that I have the capacity to be compelling, charismatic, and incredibly manipulative. I’m also aware that most people consider charisma suspect, compelling willpower intimidating, and “manipulative” to be an epithet. On a deep, instinctive level, I fully expect to be hated for these traits. (The gods tend to summarize them as my Fire, which is funny since Scorpio is a water sign.)
Once people find out I’m a Scorpio (or more accurately, when they put 2-and-2 together about my birthday and realize they’ve known for years I’m a Scorpio), they often express either dismay or disbelief, or both.
“You’re not really a Scorpio!”
“You’re not manipulative enough!”
“You’re not secretive enough!”
“You’re not sex-crazed enough!”
“You’re too nice!”
“Weren’t you born early? So you’re really a Sagittarius?”
“In Vedic astrology you’re really a Libra!”
“You can’t possibly really be a Scorpio. I like you.”
Gods forbid I tell them I’m also an INTJ!
Of course, I’ve spent most of the last 20 years learning how to act like an ENTP, so they don’t believe that either, unless they know me really well.
But the people who know me really well don’t doubt I’m a Scorpio.
Why? Because they know I try to operate from enlightened self-interest, which is frankly why I’m so good at Jail Ministry – I know how to convince other people that their self-interest is more effective if it’s enlightened. I use my Scorpio talents for what I honestly believe is the collective good, or else I shelve them and struggle along with half my strongest tools disabled to avoid causing others harm.
And I do it all the time.
I have an entire rant written up elseweb about how I submerge myself in a fog of anxiety that basically serves to keep me from acting like Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Sherlock, and the main way I know it’s there is that it suddenly goes away when I get angry and start prioritizing whatever is making me angry over how other people feel. (That was a Loki lesson, actually. Whole other story. Guess I should write that one up too…)
The gods have been yelling at me for years about my habit of suppressing myself for others’ benefit. How many times have I been reminded, or been prompted to remind someone else, that a tool has no moral value in itself. The value of a tool is in its use. Granted, some tools are easier to cause damage with than others. But skillful, ethical use is possible with any tool, especially if we include strategic non-use of said tool (e.g. “We do have H-bombs. We’d really rather not drop them. So about those peace treaty negotiations…?”)
Frigga was actually the first to really get through to me that manipulation is a tool, like any other, and that everyone is doing it all the time, we just don’t all do it equally consciously or equally well. I’m so obsessively concerned with informed consent, free will, equality, fairness, I overlook the basic nature of human interaction. And then I beat myself up for any gaps between the two when things don’t go the way I’d hoped for, needed, or planned.
To illustrate Her point, Frigga showed me scenes of snowed-in Fensalir, with Odin and His men stuck visiting longer than planned.
The Handmaidens, lead by Frigga, skillfully kept the peace with a combination of gently accommodating everyone’s real needs, and redirecting their attention away from interfering with each other’s needs. Violent competition became friendly competition. Wrangling became teasing and storytelling. Alcohol was dispensed enough to get people to relax and let it go, but not so much people would lose their judgement – unless it was better overall for the one guy to just pass out and get poured into bed rather than continuing to rant. Keen, bored minds were given puzzles to chew on. Sometimes minor, unnecessarily complicated problems were fabricated out of whole cloth just to give idle minds and hands something to do to feel useful and accomplished. Critical personalities were given something obvious and harmless to complain about and correct. And all of it was not to hide real problems, nor to diminish anyone’s reputation or true needs, but only to keep everyone functional and happy working together while circumstances required it of them all.
In many ways, Frigga is the goddess of subtlety.
Now, I don’t suppose I’m actually all that exceptionally wise a Scorpio, per se. I suspect a lot of Scorpios just aren’t that into their astrology. I’m only into mine this much because of my family culture. (My Mom’s side of the family tracks and groups birthdays as casually by sun-sign as most people would schedule by month.) Which Western Sun Sign we’re born under just never becomes significant for a lot of people.
But I am personally sufficiently aware of my Scorpioness, whether spiritually or culturally, that it’s something I feel a need to manage mindfully. Because I am instinctively secretive. Controlling what people know about me is part of how I keep myself safe. But I have learned that what people don’t know about me can hurt me every bit as much as what they do know, but with far less warning. So I’m pretty forthcoming about stuff a stereotypical Scorpio would keep hidden.
I have come to referring to the mostly-subconscious section of my self that is focused on protecting me from harm and getting what I need my “Scorpio Layer”. Another Scorpio I know and respect described it as the “Defender of the Child“.
Without you… Life would seem forever sweet
Without you… ‘Twould be a merry dance
Without you… I would trust each face I meet
Without you… I’d never have a chance!
But it’s not just about keeping my defensive-offense in check. It’s also about putting my natural inclinations and talents to GOOD use.
By sharing some of my secrets, and by making myself very hard to shock or offend with personal revelations, I place myself in a position to gather all kinds of wonderful information about everyone around me. I don’t have to DO anything with the information I gather – and indeed, it’s really better if I don’t, because I wouldn’t want to betray their trusts. But having that information – always freely given – makes me feel far safer than I ever would from just keeping my own secrets hidden, because it allows me to map the social minefields around me. And it’s also one of my greatest joys being allowed to get to know each person on a deeply personal level.
I can’t tell you how many people have said I know them better than almost anyone, and maybe better than they know themselves. It’s because as far as I’m concerned, really knowing people is the whole point of it all. Not protecting myself. Not controlling everything. Not winning some kind of game, or being some kind of conqueror. No. The point of all these Scorpio talents and skills is to really get to know people, and from there, to be able to get as many of everyone’s needs met as possible, because when all our needs are met, we can live happily together in peace.
And really, that’s all I want.
I just want frith.