We recently experienced a pileup of 6 planets in the sign of Aquarius in February. This was followed in March by a pileup of 6 planets in the sign of Pisces. And, amazingly, this will be followed by the upcoming pileup of 6 planets in the sign of Aries for a couple of days starting on April 2.
The sign of Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, following Pisces. Any planet moving from Pisces into Aries is making a dramatic move, leaving behind the all-encompassing nature of oceanic Pisces and stepping onto fresh new ground to “go it alone”. It’s not unlike the season of Spring—Aries time—when new buds emerge from under the earth, breathe fresh air for the first time, and have to face the challenge of surviving in a totally new environment. This kind of imagery combines with Aries’ nature as the first sign, marking the typical drive in Aries to be first, to “break new ground” (the Pioneer), to win the battle (the Warrior), to win the competition (the Athlete), and to overcome any obstacles in its path (the Hero). Aries is a bold fire sign, inspiring others to follow its lead.
When 6 planets arrive in Aries, it’s safe to say the energy is not likely to be subtle. When Jupiter recently entered the sign, the Egyptian people freed themselves from decades of tyranny, forever changing the map of the Middle East. When Uranus entered the sign last year, we saw the explosion that led to 206 million gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. When Uranus re-entered the sign last week, we experienced (and are still experiencing) the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, devastating tsunami, and deeply unsettling nuclear crisis in Japan.
What happens in early April obviously remains to be seen, and to prepare it might be useful to look at the persevering archetype of the Hero.
The Hero archetype has a long history behind it, having emerged in its classical form during the Age of Aries (2,000 B.C.—0) in the likes of the mythic stories and images of Odysseus, Hercules, Theseus, and Perseus. Joseph Campbell (an Aries) defines the Hero as “someone who has found or achieved or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience.” It was Odysseus who ingeniously led his troops into the city of Troy from inside the Trojan Horse; it was Hercules who accomplished the ever-more-challenging 12 Labors; it was Theseus who killed the dreaded Minotaur inside its labyrinth; and it was Perseus who retrieved the head of the terrible Gorgon Medusa at the risk of turning to stone. James Hillman (an Aries) notes that, “The Hero is the one who performs inspired deeds for the glory of the city and its gods.” Inspiration, achievement, glory, strength, perseverance—these are all typical traits of the Hero.
Because the Age of Aries and the sign of Aries are related to survival in the physical world, the Hero’s physique is typically strong and muscular, and the archetype is traditionally associated with physical strength. To go a little deeper into the symbolic meaning, it is about that Aries sense of identity achieved through strength, and achieving a strong identity. Who am I, and what am I capable of? After all, we can identify these classical heroes by their names. This link to the external world is how we can see the Hero as symbolic of the ego, the force that helps us make our way through the world as a separate and strong individual, able to fend off the overwhelming waters of Pisces and of history in its drive toward independence.
The Hero has come a long way over the centuries. It might be said that the Hero’s physical strength in the external world in the classical myths has shifted into a more interior strength in each individual’s quest to overcome fear and discover their power. This is how Hercules’ labors and, say, Dorothy’s journey to Oz (“The Wizard of Oz”) are entirely similar, although Hercules and Dorothy couldn’t be more different. Dorothy probably couldn’t do 12 push-ups, let alone accomplish the 12 labors that Hercules managed. The experience of the interior emerged during the Age of Pisces notably through the works of such religious mystics as Saint Teresa (“The Interior Castle”) and Saint John (“The Dark Night of the Soul”), among many others.
As “The Hero’s Journey” has been integrated in modern culture, the Hero archetype has moved inward, and the quest for physical strength (or ego strength) has been replaced by a quest for strength of spirit. This is how Jack in “Titanic”—by no means a literal heavy-weight—was able to save Rose “in every way that a person can be saved.” He saved her spirit.
It is the nature of the spirit to exist outside of time and space, to not be bound by the literal world, so our modern Superheroes do not develop strength over time—they start off strong, as in the case of Wonder Woman or Superman, or they become instantly strong, as in the case of Peter Parker (Spiderman) or Bruce Banner (The Incredible Hulk). They are then able to add powers such as flying, super-strength, super-sight, super-hearing, or super-speed. Their powers defy normal earth laws of physics, which is akin to the archetypal nature of modern spirituality (see Caroline Myss’ book “Defy Gravity”). It’s symbolic, too, of the modern emergence of clairvoyance, clairaudience, and other heightened senses that operate outside of time (i.e., you can know a lot about someone instantly, without them having to tell you, and without having to be in the same location).
It is in the nature of the Hero’s Journey for the Hero to eventually return home from his quest. For Odysseus this was a literal return home, yet Superman’s quest began when his home world was destroyed. Without the literal home to return to, we can add another layer of symbolic meaning to the Hero archetype: the return home is a return to home inside oneself, a return to the interior, a return to feeling at home in your being and the ability to be yourself (as in the Aries statement, “I am.”).
From Hercules To Hiccup
To bring us right up to present time, yet another Hero appears to be emerging in our culture, in the form presented by Hiccup in the DreamWorks film “How To Train Your Dragon”. Hiccup is a Viking, living in a traditional Viking village with traditional Vikings. But Hiccup is small, skinny, and smart. Hiccup is somewhat of a nerd. His Hero’s Journey contains many obstacles he must overcome, as in any traditional Hero’s Journey, but added to this journey toward empowerment is the power of self-acceptance. Hiccup is unique among the Vikings, and is mercilessly teased for not fitting the mold (archetype? stereotype?) of the traditional Viking. His bravery is not of brawn, but of brains. His power is not in killing the dragon, but in using his weapon to set it free. Where tradition sees the dragon as “enemy”, Hiccup sees the dragon as “friend”. This kind of revolutionary Hero could be a glimpse of what’s ahead, what might emerge, during Uranus’ 7-year transit through Aries—an Aquarian Age Hero who makes the world safe for each individual to be his or her unique, odd self.