The dogma of compassion

Not many would deny that compassion is a virtue. Some would even say it is the opposite of dogma. On a fundamental level, that is true. Yet it is possible for compassion to become dogmatic when it is defined too narrowly, and begins to take on a form of brutal piety.

I had this bizarre exchange with a friend recently. Here’s how it went. The details have been altered slightly but the form is essentially the same.

Friend: Hi, how’re you?

Me: Not too good. I’ve just had some bad news… [I was about to explain that someone I was close to had died, so I was feeling particularly fragile.]

Friend: Hey, you know, my bunions are giving me trouble again. I could barely do my shopping at the supermarket. I was hobbling as I pushed the cart. Even the old ladies were giving me funny looks. [The said bunions had been the topic of many a dreary conversation for several months.]

Me: I’m sorry, but I can’t really talk about your feet today.

Friend (defensive and irate): Don’t you care about my health!? Where’s your compassion?

Me: Urrr…?

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Spiked!

In these trying economic times, my workplace is becoming more and more toxic. So much fear and tension and anxiety about. Not to mention the hostility.

I’m noticing that when some people are threatened, they can throw out spikes from their energy fields, even when their words are officious and polite. The spikes can emanate even from an email — I can virtually feel it bristling.

I received one of those emails this morning and spent half the day dragging the negativity around with me until I was reminded to distinguish what was mine and what wasn’t. Judith Orloff offers some advice on how to separate one’s own emotions from others’, especially if you tend to absorb them like a sponge.

I read a blog post a long time ago (can’t seem to find it now) about the importance of remembering to ask the question: ‘Whose garbage is this and what is it doing in my bag?’ Whose garbage are we carrying around and why do we continue to do so?

In the days before the Taurus new moon, I feel the urge for a psychic spring clean.

Image source: Pufferfish, Wikimedia Commons

Breathing between thoughts

Or at least speaking them out loud.

Mars in Virgo is squaring my Gemini stellium at the moment, and will do so three times in the next few months. Mercurial thoughts are racing fast and furious — only I forget that thinking aloud doesn’t always communicate what I’m feeling to others. And thinking my frustrations aloud just makes things worse.

As Mars prepares to retrograde in a few weeks for nearly four months, my note to self is to take a breath between each thought, if not literally, then metaphorically. And stay the quip, the tongue lash, the Martian urge to insist that what I think must ‘count’.

Image: Hieronymus Bosch, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things (1485) (Wikimedia Commons)

Mercury squaring

[Cross-posted in my Mercury Retrograde blog]

I wonder if people had any thoughts about Mercuries squaring in synastries. Mercury-Neptune opposition notwithstanding, every now and again I bump up against — not even a communication breakdown as such — but like a communication misalignment.

I once lamented about my Mercury in Gemini trying to communicate with a Mercury in Virgo. When the square is exact it makes a T-square with my Mercury-Neptune opposition which exacerbates my problem. I don’t know if other people experience Mercury squaring in the same way but for me the frustration is extreme, especially when even the attempt to communicate the frustration (as one removed from the original subject at hand) is not getting through. Triple Gemini (with Saturn in there) doesn’t know how to give up — so ends up explaining more and more and more, and ends up making the cloud denser and more obscure.

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Anger with a smile

The confidentiality clause I signed when I went into therapy was that I was allowed to share incidents that impinged upon me directly, and without revealing identities, of course. So I’m sharing one today — had a really interesting session earlier where I found myself telling off the new guy for appropriating my narratives without sharing any of his! Mars direct in Leo?! Or according to Elsa P.:

The Moon in Aries conjuncts Venus while it squares Saturn and Pluto and your average woman is deeply pissed and frustrated. I don’t know what to say but best not poke her… or best poke her.

Ha! She’s definitely describing me today.

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Safe space, open space

Neeti Ray‘s comment about my use of the analogy of the front porch below got me thinking about how we create psychic spaces safely for others to enter, and how we behave when we are invited into another’s.

The 100-Acre Wood

The 100-Acre Wood, illustrated by E. H. Shepard

Children’s literature is full of these spaces: Winnie-the-Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood is one, Narnia is another. These are not hermetically-sealed spaces; dangers sometimes lurk, but are, in the realm of the psyche, ultimately contained. Like a playground where children learn to rough and tumble, to fight as well as get along.

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Pruning

749392_pruned_willow_tree

After some mulling (but not too much!), I have slashed my Facebook ‘Friends’ list down from over 120 to 99. All my mercurial planets insist that communications count (Sun, Merc in Gemini in 6th house), and count seriously (Saturn in Gemini conjunct Sun and Merc, and Pluto in Virgo).

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