The Engineering of Consent ~ August 28th-September 3rd, 2017

This is the second week of Virgo season and after the last few weeks of major astrological stirrings, the weather will seem relatively quiet over the coming days because there are no major aspects occurring until Sunday. However, this lull does not signify inertia, for Virgo is a mutable season where everything begins shape-shifting to make way for the coming of the equinox. Whether or not anything major is happening in the heavens, the energies of the recent eclipses are still making waves, altering the currents of your thoughts, feelings and experiences. 

Words and magic were in the beginning one and the same thing, and even today words retain much of their magical power.”

― Sigmund Freud

In the Northern Hemisphere, Virgo arrives to usher in the end of summer. The Virgin’s blush is witnessed in the Sun’s increasingly amber hue and in the rapid flushing of late summer fruits. The symbolism associated with the Virgin’s realm is evocative of the great efforts that must be made to prepare for the harvest. Even in the modern world, now largely divorced from the agricultural rhythms that the Zodiac describes, you can see how the levity of midsummer is being sacrificed in favor of labor and responsibility.

Love and work… work and love, that’s all there is.

– Sigmund Freud

Virgo’s labors may be experienced as having to go back into the classroom or they may be experienced as the necessity of preparing your house or wardrobe for the upcoming change in weather. Considering how much intense realization that the recent Solar Eclipse in Leo just stirred up, your new duties may be above and beyond any status quo descriptions. Whatever it is that you must devote yourself to now, the spirit of Virgo urges you to qualify your actions as great labors of love.

One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.

-Sigmund Freud

Virgo offers you the chance to be more discriminating than usual. As goddess of the harvest, Virgo is tasked with separating the wheat from the chaff, the good fruit from the bad. Thus, with the Sun and Mercury Retrograde currently in Virgo, your mind will be illuminated towards sifting, sorting and separating your thoughts and memories.

With contemplative focus and intention, this week is ideal for untangling the mass of knots created by an overstimulated mind and body. In the wake of the eclipse during this introspective Mercury retrograde period, spend more time lingering within your own world of reminiscence and self-inquiry. Purify your inner monologue of compromising dishonesty and confusion.

Set the intention to develop your discriminating taste, for Virgo’s discrimination is essential for differentiating between food and poison, ripeness and rot, life and death.

Due to the cathartic qualities of the eclipse season and the potency of Mercury’s retrograde in his rulership of Virgo, your healing insights will be greatly elevated. Consider that if your mind is like a garden, the dawning of harvest time requires that you closely examine the many fruits it is currently bearing. It is vital to determine which of these you have purposefully cultivated and which have entered into your domain as colonizing weeds, stealing precious resources and nutrients.

The invading weeds which disturb your mind may be sourced from anxieties over familial dramas or financial difficulties. These subjective experiences differ for everyone, in tone and severity. However, what you share in common with the entire technocratic world is the experience of psychic invasion from state-sponsored education and mass media.

On Thursday, Mercury will re-enter the sign of Leo, highlighting the need for sovereignty over your own mind. Thus, you may become more aware of your overexposure to mind-numbing rhetoric, hypnogogic mantras, and subliminal messages. 

The subliminal and symbolic meaning behind words is better understood during Mercury retrograde periods. So this is an ideal time to penetrate more deeply into the healing miracles and dark subversion of the science of psychology.

Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.

– Sigmund Freud

Everyone knows the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, to be one of the pre-eminent figures in the history of psychology. Though modern institutions of psychology now have many disagreements with Freud’s work, whatever flaws his theories may have, he was a brilliant thinker and the purpose of his work was always to create effective therapies that would lessen people’s suffering. Though he did not discover nor invent the concept of the unconscious, Freud is the first name people associate with exploration of the unconscious mind.  

Psychoanalysis is in essence a cure through love.

-Sigmund Freud

Freud was very provocative in his time for arguing that sexual energy (libido) was life’s central motivating force. But Freud’s definition of sexuality was not just intercourse. He included any form of sensate pleasure as an aspect of sexuality. One element of his theory of the unconscious mind included the notion that hidden within the psyche, there are primal instincts that unwittingly drive people to seek out, acquire and enhance pleasure.

“The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious. What I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.”

– Sigmund Freud

I know that these ideas seem basic to 21st Century people. The pursuit of pleasure in all things is the very foundation of  a consumerist culture. But the reason why these ideas have become so enmeshed with our cultural understanding is not because of Freud, but because of his much less benevolent nephew, Edward Bernays.Edward Bernays was born in Vienna, but he moved to America before he was two-years old. From across the Atlantic, he was enamored with his illustrious Uncle and when he was hired to be a World War I propagandist, he began co-opting Freud’s theories of unconscious instincts to become the world’s leading manipulator of the masses.

The group mind does not think in the strictest sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions. Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions.

– Edward Bernays

Propaganda is a Latin word, meaning to spread or to propagate. Originally, it was a fairly neutral term for wide communication of religious messages. But by the mid-19th Century, the term came to have a very negative political connotation. So by the time Bernays had risen to a position of prominence, he wisely chose to change the name of his profession from propaganda to public relations”.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Edward Bernays

Modern American advertising was born when the mediums of print media, radio, and cinema fell into the hands of Edward Bernays. He acted as a symbolic sorcerer, covertly manipulating unconscious human instincts to get people to believe differently, behave differently, and buy differently.

His famous publicity campaigns are too numerous to describe, but suffice it to say he used Freud’s psychological insights to influence decades of consumerist culture as well as conjuring up approval for all manner of corrupt industries, political figures, and wars. His method was to colonize people’s minds through covert means, eroding their self-awareness by enslaving their unconscious instincts and desires.

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it.

– Edward Bernays

The consequences of Bernays’ exploits were not without tragic irony. Though he was an Austrian born Jew, his work was greatly admired by the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Thus, Bernays’ mass manipulation and deceit helped to foster the genocide of his own people.

Today, the many generations of people raised on Bernays-style public relations are now also subjected to the solipsistic echo chamber of social media. With print, radio, television, movies, and internet everywhere all the time, it takes a great amount of effort to not allow your natural instincts, common sense and peace of mind to be supplanted. 

Of course, this fact does not doom you or anyone else. Truth always shines. And this week offers a particularly good window of opportunity to clear your mind of these negating influences!

On Sunday, the quietude is finally broken when Mercury retrograde will conjunct Mars in Leo, also in a trine to Uranus in Aries. Mercury’s mental capacity will be informed by forceful Martial instincts and a craving for power. The Sun in Virgo will encourage a healthy response to these inflamed passions, lighting your mind with insights into how you might better protect your sovereignty.

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.

– Sigmund Freud

Because this is a week with such potential for healing, when this intense aspect occurs between Mercury/Mars and Uranus on Sunday you may receive unexpected clarity about how the magic of language is subverted into weaponized assault. With this vision, you may identify that a pervasive feeling, thought, or belief that you hold has its source in manipulative propaganda, rather than your own perspective.

This kind of realization often comes with more than a tinge of melancholy. If you have seen the magnificent film, Bladerunner, then you will recall the scene when Rachel is told that she is a Replicant and that her childhood memories are not her own. Rachel’s heartbreaking revelation invokes so much empathy, for just as she believed in the artificial memories, so too does the movie-going audience end up believing in mass media narratives and viral opinions. 

To face the truth about how often you do not actually think for yourself or question authority requires deep humility. Nobody likes to admit that they’ve been fooled, conquered, or misled and this is how your false beliefs will find their way even deeper into the core of your thought patterns.

Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.

– Sigmund Freud

The admittance of your vulnerability to invading propagandas is necessary if you wish to guard yourself better in the future. It is important to remember that the scientific inquiry into the unconscious mind was originally intended to promote self-reflection, revelation and healing.

So this week, if you happen to be confronted with the possibility that some of your habitual beliefs or opinions seem to have been forced upon your unconscious, do not despair. Your ability to discern this fact and seek healing is evidence of your strength and humanity. 

With the first wince of humiliation aside, the trine between Mercury/Mars and Uranus at the end of the week offers such a profound sense of liberation and newfound freedom. Knowing how important it is, allow this Virgo season to be a time for distilling and purifying the contents of your mind, discarding whatever may be poisoned or diseased. Follow your natural instincts to cultivate what is actually life-affirming, loving and joyful.

My love is something valuable to me which I ought not to throw away without reflection.

– Sigmund Freud