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Forget global warming. What's going to bring about the demise of civilization as we know it is the twisted attitude toward sex and sexuality, especially in the United States. (I'm exaggerating of course, but stay with me—there's a method to my madness.)
One of the things that really bugs me is the fashion trend that has slogans emblazoned on T-shirts and shorts, with phrases like "hottie" and "I like boys with big toys."
Yes, maybe I'm an old feminist crank, but has anybody stopped and thought this through? I can see titillating T-shirts for older girls and college women, but for pre-teens? I've even seen them being sold to girls of elementary school age.
I don't know about you, but when I was in elementary school, I didn't know about "boys' toys." My friends Jeff and Stevie and I were too busy playing spaceship with an old refrigerator box, or having a funeral for my turtle. Jeff and the other boys were my buddies and I never thought about them in "that way." I guess times were really that much more innocent—children were allowed to just be children.
Along with the T-shirts, there are also slogans on shorts, words placed right on the buttocks, which is actually kind of funny/sad, especially when the young lady has a little too much "avoirdupois" in the rump.
Reminds me of the Aldous Huxley novel Ape and Essence, set in an "Utopian" future where the one character—a sweet young thing—minxes around teasing the men, with pants that say "yes" on one butt cheek and "no" on the other.
I was thinking about this fashion and marketing trend of sexy slogans on clothes as I was writing Chapter 11 of my book, Houses: A Contemporary Guide.
Not to sound totally old and "square," but I was also musing sadly on the teenage phenomenon of "friends with benefits." As far as I can tell, this is when girls and guys hang out together—not really dating or having a relationship—but the girls are supposed to give the guys the added "fringe benefit" of sex.
It was interesting to consider all this stuff at the same time I was writing the chapter on the Eighth House—a kind of synchronicity, where the material almost presented itself and jump-started the writing process.
How did this get started? Well, what actually happened was a not-too-bright neighbor knocked on my door and yelled at me for "hogging the laundry room." She was really mad! I pointed out to her that it wasn't my laundry and as she stomped away, I noticed she had shorts on that read "Can't touch this" on the rear end. With her New Joisey accent and attitude as well as various piercings, she was a caricature—and a silly one at that.
But sometimes the Universe sends you a gift. My writing process had been blocked and I wondered how I would open the chapter with all this difficult subject matter on sexuality? And voila, the answer was spelled out on my neighbor's tushie.
The chapter I was struggling with was about the Eighth House, the section of the natal astrological chart that resonates with the darker mysteries of life, death, communal property, and sex and sexuality.
As with all the chapters, I found current events and life experiences informing the writing process, and wove many of these things into the text, hoping that they would contribute to the healing message I was trying to impart. Houses: A Contemporary Guide ended up being much more than an astrology book because of this.
My overall intention was to present an updated look at house-based astrology, as opposed to solar, lunar, or planetary astrology, but also to give the readers a healing message. The twelve houses in a person's chart hold common themes that are all part of the human condition—childhood, physical appearance, personality, career, relationships, spiritual growth, money, etc. Knowing the strengths and challenges of the planetary placements within the houses will hopefully help the reader to understand themselves, and spark a healing process if need be. But of all the houses, with the possible exception of the Twelfth House and its lessons in karma and spirituality, the Eighth House contains some of the most difficult issues human beings must contemplate.
Among these, the Eighth House has to do with mature, meaningful sexuality—sex not so much for sport, but as a beautiful, ancient circumstance that can bring about a connection with spirit and divinity.
Take, for example, a holistic, yogic look at sexuality. For those who study healing and are familiar with the chakras—the body's energy centers—our reproductive organs and genitals are associated with the second chakra. The sign of Scorpio is linked to this part of the body (each sign governs a certain part of the body) and it's linked naturally with the Eighth House as well. This second chakra is one of the most primal areas of the body, a place where humans evolved beyond our relatives in the ape kingdom.
We know of course that reproductive organs are necessary for the very continuation of the species. But consider this: the discovery that mating could take place face to face was not only a giant step forward in the evolution of mating and sociology but a leap in human consciousness. Now sex wasn't merely a biological act to satisfy the man's various "itches" and to add to the tribe's ranks.
When humans evolved enough to make love face to face, the soul and the essence of sexuality evolved as well. (Interestingly, dolphins also make love face to face.) It is not only the genitals that come together, all the chakras are connected. The physical act of sex brings energy up through the lower chakras, through the heart, throat and eyes and—in the moment of ecstasy—through the crown and outward into the universe. At this time, we experience a brief moment when we shed our egos and touch the Universal Source—satori, nirvana, the Goddess. Oneness.
A person with planets emphasized in the Eighth House, or Scorpio on the cusp, would be inclined to understand this power of sexuality and they would be interested in the deeper meaning of sex. Personally, my thoughts on this matter were stirred almost twenty years ago when I first discovered the Motherpeace round tarot deck and its companion books, created by author Vicki Noble. With its many references to and images drawn from ancient goddess spirituality, Noble writes about the divinity of sexual union. Her explanation of the deeper meaning of "The Lovers" card in the tarot really sums up this complex but beautiful philosophy about lovemaking—and resonates perfectly with the essence of the Eighth House:
"When two serious lovers come together in mutual respect and reverence for the sacred energy, a union takes place in which they understand without words the true loving nature of the world, they experience their bodies as temples of the Goddess, wherein their hearts may open without doubt, criticism, anger, or egotistical needs. With practice they can achieve great sensitivity, and each time they come together, old patterns drop away and the new forms become more accessible. Tantric sages suggest that one may cure all illness through this means and achieve 'longevity' as well as the deepest possible understanding of mysteries that lie beyond words."1
Yes, there is great beauty in mature, loving sexuality, the kind the Eighth House describes. On the other hand, challenging aspects to planets in the Eighth House may make the native preoccupied with some of the baser forms of sexual exploitation, things we have seen more and more in the age of high technology. Child pornography, violence, and even ritualistic murder can be lived vicariously through the Internet or visual recordings.
Happily, those with challenges to the Eighth House are also able to dig deep and use their profound insight to handle thorny issues, such as sex addictions or quirks.
But back to the sexy slogans and "friends with benefits." I'm not sure where we're going as a society when we teach young girls how to titillate. Read just about every young woman's magazine and the publications really put this message out there, which cheapens sexuality. I foresee that this mindset will encourage boys to grow up believing it's normal for women to always be "hot," available, and submissive without the need for any kind of emotional connection, and especially without love.
I'm also afraid there will be, at least, a prevalence of dysfunctional attitudes about relationships and love. In the worst cases, a new generation of men will grow up believing it's OK to commit violence toward women, a "that's what they're for" attitude.
If our young sisters (and brothers) focus only on the frivolous, degrading, and sometimes dangerous aspects of sex, I feel there will be little appreciation for its more spiritual aspects, the kind of depth the Eighth House resonates with.
An individual with a group of planets in the Eighth House, or like me, several planets in Scorpio, is interested in this more meaningful way of loving—passion, understanding, and making connections through sexuality.
There are some bright spots about this subject matter, however. We have articles, books, DVDs, and courses that explore the more esoteric, spiritual aspects of sexuality, such as tantric yoga. Perhaps it's a generational divide; when the hormones settle down as we age, we can better connect the heart and soul with the genitals.
So yes, light is being shed on this powerful aspect of human life and we recognize that in the last few decades we're able to talk more openly about sexuality. It's one of the aspects of the Eighth House—rife with difficult but universal subject matter—that needs more discussion and understanding.
Perhaps another "unmentionable" element of the Eighth House—death—will be the next profound part of life that will be brought into the light.
1 Vicki Noble, Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess Through Myth, Art, and Tarot (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1982), p. 64.
Gwyneth Bryan is an astrology consultant and teacher, as well as a second level Reiki practitioner. She is a founding member of the South Jersey Jung Seminar and Inner Workshop and long-time member of the Association for ...