Reprinted with permission from Mooncircles.

Sun at 25.16 Virgo
Moon at 25.16 Pisces

A few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, I went to my favorite salon for a haircut. I was admiring the results in the mirror and writing a check when I overheard a heated conversation coming from the neighboring chair. A stylist was asking her customer, in a rather incredulous tone, whether he believed the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina had been acceptable. "Yes," he declared. "The federal government couldn't do anything until the state asked for help." His stylist paused, mid-snip, and asked him about the people who died, who still were dying nearly a week after the hurricane hit shore. "They should have evacuated," was his terse reply. "Why did they wait around for the government to help them?"

I felt my blood pressure rising, opened my mouth to retort, and then bit my tongue, hard. Unbridled hostility never wins hearts and minds. With a quick farewell to my stylist, I hastily decamped...and fumed all the way home. It wasn't just the conversation in the salon that was eating at me, but also the realization that many other Americans must share his attitude of indifference. How far had our nation wandered from our essential humanity, I wondered, if blaming the victims of a disaster trumped our tradition of helping those who suffer? Have we become so politically polarized that defending our ideology overwhelms our charitable impulses to help our fellow citizens?

In my self-righteous fury, I could see that I was indulging in the same kind of judgment I was condemning in others. Then, out of nowhere came the blinding realization: It takes two sides to play ideological tug-of-war. What if I simply let go of my end of the rope? The game of tug-of-war involves two sides pulling on a rope as hard as they can, with each side trying to topple the other. To win, you can either pull the rope hard enough to drag your opponent over to your side-or you can let go of the rope at the peak of the contest, when both sides are straining as hard as they can in opposite directions. Then your opponent goes flying, because your resistance was what was holding him up. As long as I held fast to my end of the tug-of-war rope, full of fury and self-righteous condemnation, the other side would keep pulling just as hard in the opposite direction. My struggle doesn't weaken my opponent's position-it supports it.

A tug of war describes the energies at play every Full Moon, when the Sun and Moon are in opposing signs. At Full Moons we can catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror of our opponents and become all too aware of our similarities. We can also bring a new illumination to the issues brewing since the New Moon. The chart for the September 3 New Moon featured a volatile opposition between the Sun and Moon in Virgo and Uranus in Pisces. The horrific scenes from the Gulf Coast illustrated the Virgo/Pisces tension of organization vs. chaos and criticism vs. compassion, and the Uranian lawlessness, rootlessness, and flat-out insanity that turned a natural disaster into something unnatural. Now, at the Virgo/Pisces Full Moon, the light of Virgo's practical insight and Pisces' compassion will illuminate the destruction - not just in the Gulf, but across the nation - and reveal the full extent of our helpfulness and our criticism, our compassion and our denial.

How can you let go of your rope?

There is work to be done, and it's too important and too daunting for either side to handle alone. To solve hurricane-size problems requires a collective effort, employing both our practical and insightful Virgo selves, and our Piscean empathy and creativity. Yet the harder we yank on the invisible rope that connects us, each side trying to drag the other over to our point of view, the harder the other side will inevitably pull away. We have to let go of the rope - or, better yet, use it to pull together toward the center that connects us. For my part, this means finding compassion not only for those who suffered and died, but also for those who did not show compassion for their suffering. That isn't easy, friends. I'm a lot better at being playing a critical Virgo than an empathetic Pisces.

The day after the incident at the salon, though, I had a glimpse of that whimsical, ecstatic Piscean compassion and its ability to melt the harshest criticisms of my inner Virgo. As I gathered with a group of friends to honor the New Moon, I asked that the Sun and Moon in Virgo help me untangle the knots in my heart, and invoked the consciousness-changing gift of Uranus to help me "let go of the rope." As I spoke, the solemn ritual was interrupted by the loud, continuous bleat of a car's horn. Irritated, we all turned to look out the front door. "What in the..." "Can't they do something about that?"

The noise grew louder and louder - and we grew more and more annoyed - until the source of the racket pulled up and parked directly across the street. The hapless driver leaped from the car, and as we watched him frantically poking beneath the hood, trying to disconnect the horn, our annoyance softened -transformed first into sympathy, then into mirth. After several long minutes, with the sound of the horn modulating comically and his face flushing deeper crimson by the minute, the driver finally gave up and drove away, slinking low in his seat, his horn muffled but still bleating as he disappeared into the distance.

And watching from inside, our little group laughed until we cried, the cranky knots of annoyance and criticism completely dissolved - at least for the moment - in the glorious, heart-opening waters of Piscean laughter.

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