I am not by nature a leader of men, nor a joiner of groups. Which is why it’s weird that, for the past several years, I’ve found myself in the unlikely position of President of my local astrology group. I must say that the experience has been an invaluable immersion course in the nature of groups.
I’ve nearly always found group dynamics tough going. My generally outgoing persona is a triumph of grit over profound shyness and crankiness; as a little kid, I hid under the furniture when people came over to visit. Even now, in my fifties, that old desire to hide flares up when I find myself in gatherings of more than a few people. As president of my group or as a guest speaker for another, I’m okay—the role itself bolsters me—but as a member of the rank and file, I sit there feeling myself fade like an old photograph.
Even for those who don’t share my discomfort, and even in the best of groups, there are moments when in-fighting, competition, one-upsmanship, cliquishness, and inflexibility threaten to disrupt the peace and prevent progress. One thing I’ve learned is that in group settings, the individual voice can struggle to express itself; and when an individual doesn’t feel seen or appreciated, the Sun begins to throw out angry sparks.
This New Moon is in Aquarius, the sign of groups and of collective action. But groups are networks of individuals; and unless individuals know they are appreciated, they can’t afford to immerse themselves fully in a group experience, for fear their light will be extinguished altogether. It’s no coincidence that the Sun is traditionally classified as in its detriment in Aquarius—it’s hard for the Sun’s sovereignty to express itself there.
Still, there are some things that can only be achieved by people working together, and feeling part of something like that can be truly magical. In my early twenties, toiling away as a solitary singer/songwriter, I was eventually recruited by a band to be their lead singer. I had no idea it would be so much fun to create a wall of sound with these guys, or to simply hang out with them after rehearsal, watching horror movies.
One of those bandmates was born with the Sun in Aquarius, and he was one of the most cheerful, easy-going guys I’ve ever known. No one ever had a bad word to say about him. We didn’t really stay in touch over the years, but it didn’t surprise me to learn that he became a beloved stalwart of his small community. He devoted himself not only to his own family and a few hand-picked friends, but to a community. With characteristic modesty and good cheer, he served the sorts of organizations that my generation mostly recalls from our parents’ involvement in them during a more civic-minded era: the Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus, the Rotary Club. No one swam more happily in the community pool than he did. And when Mike passed away last month, far too young and very suddenly, an estimated one thousand people turned out to say goodbye.
Whenever I struggle to understand Aquarius, my opposite sign, it helps me to think of it this way: The Sun is always about where we shine, and where come alive—and for a certain kind of Aquarius, that happens within community. As a Leo, I fear the eclipsing of my hard-won individuality within a group. A Leo with a stronger sense of self might worry that, like the Sun itself, it must be at the center or else the universe will careen off into chaos. The primordial Leo motto, immortalized by my double Leo cousin as teenager, is “What about me??”
But at this New Moon, as the light of the Aquarius Sun is dimmed by a partial solar eclipse, I’m thinking of Mike, to whom it would never have occurred to ask that question. I know there must be some people who take refuge in groups because they don’t want to take the risk of standing out. But then there are Aquarians who simply come alive within fraternities of shared interest, whether they gather to make music or build a community; who find their light through playing well with others.
Humans are tribal creatures, and it’s the rare few of us who can be happy with a completely solitary existence. But I think it’s unusual, too, to bloom so spectacularly within a community garden—because we’re each of us little solar systems, too, with ourselves at the center, sovereign Suns who need to shine. Solar eclipses have a way of plunging us into darkness, even if only for a few days, to understand something of what life could look like from a less heliocentric vantage point. See how it feels to let yourself wander into another orbit for a little while, to be a satellite pulled by the gravity of something larger than yourself. Does it seem dark and cold, a little frightening… or can you let yourself glide happily through the stars, Aquarius style, dancing happily by the light of other solar systems?
© 2018 April Elliott Kent