It’s kind of a cliche, but still true: the key to a successful relationship is communication. And it’s interesting to notice that Mercury, the planet most associated with communications in astrology, is also the most gender-neutral of the planets. Ancient sources refer to most of the planets as being male, with Venus and sometimes The Moon being more feminine. Mercury on the other hand does not partake of such things. Mercury is too busy zipping around the Sun and delivering messages to be categorized so easily.
Despite being the ruler of logic and communications and good grammar and such, Mercury also has a reputation for being a trickster. People rarely enjoy being subject to trickery, and yet it serves a vital psychological function. The cleverness of The Trickster can sometimes teach us valuable lessons.
I’m going to be talking about Whiplash The Cowboy Monkey here as an illustration. If you aren’t familiar with Cowboy Monkey, watch this video. And if you are familiar with Cowboy Monkey, why owners aren’t you watching this video?
In theory, the monkey is a much more intelligent creature than the dog. Yet if you know about dogs, you know that this particular breed is extremely intelligent, and teaching them to ride around with monkeys on their backs is no big deal. And they were bred to herd animals, so the dog is basically just doing what he was born to do.
Meanwhile what does the monkey do? The only thing the monkey has really learned to do is to wear a costume and sit still on the dog’s back. The dog is actually doing all of the work.
All of this is done for the entertainment of humans and I (even understanding how the trick works) laugh like a 5 month old with keys jingling in front of his face every time I see it.
If you can understand that: we’re good to go.
Now, my point other than the fact that I love Whiplash The Cowboy Monkey? Have you ever been in an argument with someone where they said “you’re not listening?” Of course you were listening. When people say “you’re not listening” in an argument, what they usually really mean is you are not obeying or you are not doing things the way they would do them.
Yes: if everyone spoke to each other in completely logical and precise terms, better communication would be facilitated. But let’s be honest here: humans are far from completely rational and logical, especially when they are in relationships.
And maybe more to the point? Understanding how the trick of Whiplash The Cowboy Monkey really works does not at all take away from the pure delight of watching Cowboy Monkey. Whiplash The Cowboy Monkey embodies many possibilities and viewpoints, and all of them are valid and / or useful in their own way.
Keeping this in mind, and being able to both enjoy Whiplash The Cowboy Monkey for what it looks like and understand how it really works, is the key to a happy life I think. It both embraces the necessity and importance of logic, and yet understands be very different yet sometimes equally valid worthiness of absurdity.
Or, maybe the message here is that entertainment value should not be underestimated in a relationship. I dunno, man… I just love that monkey, and now you know that about me.
Now: if a guy can make a living simply by teaching a capuchin monkey to wear a cowboy costume while riding a border collie that has been trained to herd sheep, you think maybe we can all learn to communicate with our loved ones a little better?
(Scene: The baby’s room in a suburban home. DAD stands over the crib where BABY LUNA is crying. DAD looks completely exhausted and defeated. MOM, looking like she’s at the end of her rope as well, enters.)
MOM: Any luck?
DAD: (Signs loudly) Still can’t get her to settle down. I’ve tried everything. Fed her, changed her, played with her, burped her, walked around and bounced her while singing that song that usually works…
MOM: I hate that song.
DAD: Yeah but sometimes it works
MOM: You gave her Mr Snuggle Bunny?
DAD: Had a little Bunny therapy. Still nothing.
MOM: I called my Mom about this. She basically said “that’s how it goes with babies sometimes.”
DAD: I called my Mom too. She said the same thing.
MOM: (Puzzled) Hey… wait a second… do you hear that?
MOM: She’s quiet now
(BABY LUNA is now lying quietly in her crib and slowly starting to drift off.)
DAD: Finally! Whatever it was, she must have just gotten too tired.
MOM: Let’s go back to bed.
(They leave. A few minutes later BABY LUNA sits up and looks around the empty room.)
LUNA: (Speaking in an upper-class English accent) Actually — I’m not that tired. But I wanted to be fed, changed, be bounced to the tune of some college rock, played with, and to spend some time with Mr Snuggly Bunny, then to see both my parents at once. I’m still awake, Mom and Dad, but I’ll cut you some slack for now. For now. Sorry I couldn’t tell you these things outright, but I have no vocabulary for that sort of thing.
DAD: (In the distance) …Did you hear something?
MOM: Absolutely not. Come to bed.
(BABY LUNA lies back down. After a long pause she speaks again.)
LUNA: Now I’m thirsty. (starts crying)
As an astrologer, it’s my primary duty to look at a client’s transits and then provide him or her with my forecast. What my clients do with that information is entirely up to them. No blame, no judgement, just the facts.
However every once in a while when I have a client who is heavily besieged by some truly major issues, my job sometimes becomes more like that of a cosmic defense attorney. If things look bad for you now, let’s see what the prosecution has on you, let’s see what you can potentially do about it, and if you want I will help you figure out whether to go to trial or plead to a reduced crime… so to speak.
Case in point: a recent imaginary telephone conversation I had with my theoretical client, Bill Cosby (sorry I was only able to record my end of it).
Hi Bill! We haven’t spoken in some time.
Yes I know you’ve been busy. And like everyone else on the planet I know what you been busy with. So I decided to look at your transit and —
Yes Bill I know. It’s my job to advise you, not to condemn you. I’m sure you’re absolutely right. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason so many women are coming forward and saying that you —
Okay, okay, Jeez. That’s not even what I was going to say, but: I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why these women are coming forward and accusing you of things when all you did was have perfectly consensual physical relations with them while they were under the influence of tranquilizers you had administered to them.
No, I’m not forgetting all the good you’ve done the world and —
Yes I remember how everyone loved your show in the Eighties. Although in hindsight, that one episode with the aphrodisiac barbecue sauce you served everyone is a little suspect. Anyway —
Bill, I’m not accusing you of anything. There’s already plenty of other people doing that. But I’ve had a look at your transit and I have some very serious professional advice for you. As you may know, the big news astrological you in the last couple of years has bean the Uranus Pluto square. That’s particularly significant in your case because for the last two or three years it has been doing some very serious and difficult things to your Midheaven. And as you recall, the Midheaven rule things like your career… and your public image.
Yes. I heard about that new series of yours that won’t be developed. and I heard about the universities dropping you. But what’s maybe more important for you to consider at this point in your life is that the Midheaven is how you make your mark in life. It’s what you’ll be remembered for.
Just listen Bill. Here’s the story with what’s happening to you astrologically. Uranus has been square your Midheaven and Pluto has been conjunct it for the last 2 years. Furthermore Uranus has been square your Sun in Cancer and Pluto has been opposite that for about the same length of time. Your ego has been steamrolled and your career is blown.
Neptune has been doing a real number on you too. For the last couple of years it’s been square your Venus and approaching the opposition to your Moon. That alone has to add up to a huge emotional crisis for you. And that opposition to your Moon is just going to get closer in the next two years.
But here’s the really bad news: you are not anywhere near of the woods yet. In fact the transit will be getting worse over the next few months. I often tell my clients that it is not my job to tell them what to do. And then I go ahead and say “if it was my job this is what I would do…”
Yes. I know. That is a shameless trick of mine. But I think it’s better than actually telling people what to do. Now let me tell you what I think you should do about all this.
Be mindful of this one thing: it is better to be honest and cling to the hope of being forgiven then to know you will die not being forgiven. This is true whether you are a misunderstood saint or an undiagnosed demon or anything in between. Because if you aren’t honest and open about it, the best you can hope for is to die forgotten, rather than forgiven.
Is that really what you want for yourself?
Bill… you still there? Bill…?
A survey released in Australia recently reveals some surprising reasons why long-term couples break up. Okay, some of those reasons aren’t so surprising: physical violence being the biggest single indicator that it’s not going to work. But many relationships that survive for a while eventually break down (or hold up) in the long run because of a collection of minor differences: different health habits, different senses of adventure, and so on.
Blink-182 knew this years ago.
In astrological terms, this phenomenon should theoretically boil down to the individual factors in each person’s birth chart. But I think I’m seeing a larger picture here, and it (unintentionally) speaks to that double-edged sword of modern astrology: Sun Signs.
It seems that almost everyone gets their first exposure to astrology through Sun Signs. That’s perfectly understandable: our calendar is based on Earth’s 365.25 day trip around the Sun, so it’s easy enough to look up your birth date and find out where the Sun was that day. It’s not so easy to figure out what your Moon Sign or your Mercury Sign is, or whatever.
Although Sun Signs and Sun Sign compatibility are the usual gateway drugs to astrology, you will hear many astrologers complain about it, and sometimes rightly so. It doesn’t take too long examining how astrology works to see that it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are saints and sinners of all kinds born under each sign. But as I often point out, the Sun in your birth chart represents your Ego. You need an ego to be in a relationship, but at the same time you need to be able to dial it down when it counts for the sake of the relationship.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. You do not have to be less than yourself to be in a relationship. Ideally being in a relationship will make you more of yourself. But it seems that as time goes on and the initial hormonal buzz of a fresh relationship mellows out, and once you’ve passed all the major tests, it’s the things related to the ego that are most likely to get in the way of a successful relationship.
According to the usual Sun Sign astrology, Aries goes well with Leo but not with Cancer, and so on. These general observations based on Sun Sign are usually fairly accurate… and yet if you look at the actual statistics of couples who marry, there is absolutely no correlation between incompatible and compatible Sun Signs in actual married couples. Why is that?
The main answer is that astrology is a lot more complex than that. If you are with a partner whose Sun Sign is technically incompatible with yours, there is still plenty of chance that all the other important placements in your chart works efficiently well together but the relationship can be a success. Likewise, you can be in a relationship with someone who has a compatible Sun with yours, but if your Moons and Venuses and Marsii and Jupiteria and Saturnsees (Are those the proper plurals for those names? No, but I’m having fun with it. Don’t interrupt.) and all aren’t playing along, it’s going to be difficult at best.
Ultimately, if your ego drives behaviors that your mate can’t stand, you have a choice as to whether to tone it down or not. Sometimes you’ll be right to stand your ground, and sometimes you won’t do it just to be a jerk. And as so often happens, the ego will end up fighting lots of little proxy wars, the way the United States and the Soviet Union used to poke each other via Vietnam and Afghanistan and Central America rather than actually go to war directly with each other. You don’t like me to hang out with you when you’re with your friends? Fine. I’ll smoke this cigar in the bathroom. With the windows shut. That sort of thing.
So: it seems to me that although the Sun Signs are rarely where a relationship starts, sometimes the individual Suns involved are the downfall of a relationship. Ultimately an unwillingness to give ground on some things can lead to a larger failure.
One piece of evidence in support of this idea? In long-term relationships where people live together versus long term relationships where people are actually married, the unmarried couples have a greater break up rate. Of course plenty of long-term unmarried relationships work out just fine (and if you are not a fan of traditional notions of committed monogamy, don’t get all up in my grill because you think I’m arguing with you).
But consider this: if you are willing to sacrifice your ego… sometimes… then it stands to reason that the relationship has a better chance of surviving, all else being equal.
So yes: if you want to be in a relationship and make it work, you have to bring your best self to the table… and sometimes you’ve got to know when to take one for the team.