“Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together” :: Cosmic Weather Forecast for February 12th – 18th

How is this Dark Moon, in-between eclipses, feeling to you?

Decidedly uncomfortable, is my personal take on it.

On TUESDAY, Mercury in Aquarius (symbolizing thinking and communication)  squares Jupiter in Scorpio. Aquarius wants nothing but the blatant truth. Jupiter in Scorpio wants to increase the range of its mega spotlight until it encompasses all our secrets, hidden fears, and everything taboo. The square aspect creates some friction that could propel a rush of potent words up through our vocal chords and out through our mouths before we’ve had time to think them through.

Words have power. Speak when you feel called to do so, but watch for instinctual defensive reactions that may cause you to respond too quickly with communication that you cannot retrieve.

Also on TUESDAY, the Sun offers a friendly sextile to Uranus – an aspect of innovation and unexpected breakthroughs that holds through until the Partial Solar Eclipse (New Moon) in Aquarius on THURSDAY.

On a recent episode of The Astrology Podcast, they were discussing how, from an astrological perspective, February 14th is an odd time for Valentine’s Day. Aquarius is not a sign renowned for romantic sentiment and the traditional mushy expressions of love that Valentine’s Day is associated with. Pisces Season would be more ideal – preferably timed for when Venus hits its exaltation degree in Pisces.

But February it is.

If you truly want to do Valentine’s Day, Aquarian style, set some new neural pathways with your lover – or your friends. Exchange some IDEAS.

Absorb new information together, and challenge each other to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together” (~Donald Hebb), is not just a nerdy Aquarian sounding Valentine’s Day message, but also an important truth about how our brains work, why we react and respond the way we do to external stimuli and situations, and how we acquire new information and learn new behavior.

We human beings are very complex, and so are the environments that we inhabit. At any given time there are many, many neurons exchanging messages with each other in our brain, either through neurotransmitters (i.e. chemicals) or through electrical synapses.

When we activate neurons at the same time repeatedly (i.e. “fire them together”) they eventually become conditioned into brain circuitry and neural networks that can automatically activate and fire at the same time without a whole lot of volitional conscious effort – thus neurons that fire together “wire together”.

Think of the last time you learned something new. Think of a child riding a bike for the first time. Like most human tasks, riding a bike requires you to enact a number of different skills and abilities simultaneously. You need to adjust your balance to keep the bike upright… while moving the pedals consistently with your feet to increase speed… while using your hands on the handles to steer the front wheel… while using your eyes to navigate the path ahead… while listening for oncoming cars…etc.

At first, this was probably quite cumbersome as you tried to focus on all aspects at once. But gradually, with repeated practice, as all the different neurons responsible for each action began firing at once, this process became “wired” into your brain as part of your implicit procedural memory so that you no longer had to pay such focused attention to your every action. Your body could now ride a bike on auto pilot without demanding your conscious thinking brain to command every single step. You could hop on a bike and speed away with your friends without thinking twice.

Our brains are AMAZING.

However, the flip side of this “fire together, wire together” associative and conditioned learning process is that it can cause us to get really STUCK in behaviors that are not helpful.

Thank goodness for the hope of neuroplasticity. We now know that the adult brain can change and that the creation of new neural connections and increased neural growth is not limited to childhood development. However, breaking up well-wired circuitry and charting neural pathways into uncharted brain territory isn’t always easy.

Experiencing fast-acting anxiety or panic attack triggers are times when our magical and protective brains can feel like they are working against our best interests.

For example, let’s say when you were younger you got bit by a dog. This was a really scary experience that fired off a bunch of neurons at the same time. You received brain messages of PAIN, at the same time that your eyes registered the image of DOG.

Now DOG and PAIN are wired together and every time you see a sweet cuddly looking dog, that neuron chain reaction fires off a neural network that activates the brain’s threat message of PAIN. Your brain’s amygdala diligently sounds the alarm signals and your body rushes toward an anxiety response. You turn and run, leaving the cute looking dog staring after you quizzically.

Even repeated negative thinking and rumination can dig a well-worn path in your brain, wiring together a pessimistic outlook when a series of neurons are fired consistently.

Interestingly Aquarius is associated with the nervous system – the part of our body largely responsible for the automatic physical anxiety response that creates heart-pounding fear and shaking hands (the sympathetic nervous system), along with the part of our body that slows down our racing heart to a steady relaxed beat and evens out our breath (the parasympathetic nervous system).

My anxiety always increases around Aquarius New Moons and Full Moons – and particularly so when they involve eclipses.

However, while eclipses may increase anxiety because they bring to the surface those fears that may have been hiding in the dark, they also provide wonderful opportunities for change and liberation from those fears and anything that is holding you back.

Harness the power of this Aquarius New Moon Solar Eclipse by assessing what inhibiting brain circuitry and behavioral patterns are keeping you stuck, fearful and inhibited. Depending on the nature of the “stuckness”, sustained and careful effort might be required in order to make progress with that neural rewiring, but this New Moon is an excellent time to lay out a plan of action for personal life changes and growth.

The Aquarius-Leo axis that this Eclipse Season is activating, wants you to be able to fully enter into your wonderful life, feeling cohesively whole, centered and integrated as the unique and fabulous person you are. Aquarius, in this air-fire duo, is the zodiac’s change-maker. Co-ruled by Uranus, like a jolt of electricity, Aquarius’ erratic but exciting energy keeps propelling us forward into new ways of being.

How do we change our well-established brain circuitry, habitual responses, and familiar behavioral patterns?

By PAIRING a NEW positive life experience, sensation or thought, with the (careful) exposure to the external stimuli or situation (or internal reaction) that creates anxiety, inhibition and stuckness.

Fire up a different combination of brain neurons at the same time in order to create a new response and behavior.

This is how we learn. This is how we grow.

This is the terrain of change that Aquarius Season loves to lead us toward; individually and collectively.

Is there a risk that this could backfire and confirm our fears or the reasons behind our inhibitions? Yes.

That is why it should be done carefully (and with a therapist’s guidance if dealing with trauma triggers), but growth does not come without risk, unfortunately. Significant personal growth does not occur without facing our fears.

Humans are relational creatures and much of our personal inhibition has to do with fear, avoidance and impulsive reactions associated with relational dynamics. Aquarius, a sign associated with friendship, group effort, and the expression of the unique individual within the broader society, wants us to get this shit figured out.

When I was first learning astrology I was so confused by Aquarius. I encountered contradictory interpretations everywhere! With the nodal axis transiting the Leo-Aquarius polarity, this contradictory confusion is even more apparent.

So Aquarius is all about friendships and groups, right?

Well, actually it is associated with the broader society and collective humanity as a whole, but as individuals we are typically working within a microcosm of this larger picture.

In addition to “group work”, we might see other words attached to Aquarius descriptions such as: teams, tribes, systems, collaborations, peer circles, support groups, networks, communities (both online and offline), memberships, organizations, associations, cooperatives, political parties, etc.

I often read that Aquarius is all about fitting in and belonging to a group, whereas Leo is about being an individual.

But wait… what?!

Isn’t Aquarius also the innovative and brilliant, visionary oddball; the unconventional, independent freedom-seeker; the anti-mainstream rebel and society’s give-no-fucks outsider?

Well… yes.

One of Aquarius’ key purposes within the zodiac wheel (and within us all) is to help humanity progress and grow. As I mentioned, growth and progress (collectively or individually) requires CHANGE to the status quo.

How could we possibly create change and grow as a society if we were all exactly the same and were perfectly content with that sameness? How can we rewire society’s circuitry and get collectively unstuck?

Therefore, to fulfill its role in society, Aquarius must maintain its difference. It must maintain its outsider status. It must be unique. It must always be free.

From an evolutionary perspective, one could say that Aquarius’ stubborn personality traits are designed to strengthen and protect its important role. It must be able to hold on to its vision amid criticism and resistance.

AND YET. If you exist entirely on the outside of society, how can you change society – or whatever societal microcosm you are focused on? How can you be a leader if no one is there to hear you?

Your ideas need buy-in from others. You need collaboration. Aquarius is an honest and practical utilitarian, as much as it is an inspired visionary. It typically knows exactly what its own strengths and weaknesses are. It knows that in order to change the larger system, you need to bring together all the various humans with their diverse and unique abilities to work together to create change.

An Aquarius says: “You have skills and resources that I don’t have, and I have skills and resources that you don’t have. Let’s combine our assets in order to work together to change the future of humanity for the better.”

But just like humans are wonderfully diverse in their skill sets, they are also wonderfully diverse with their opinions, values, priorities, goals, worldviews, political positions, and emotional processes. When you start bringing together humans for group collaboration, life gets MESSY. All that challenging relational brain-circuitry gets activated in complex ways. 

This can be painfully frustrating and exasperating for an Aquarius-type who loves efficiency and effective progress. Despite my talk of electrical brain circuits, stimulus and response behaviors, humans are not machines. A certain measure of compromise is necessary for the healthy functioning and development of a group effort.

AND YET. If Aquarius surrenders too much to the group, it risks the manipulation and distortion of its original vision. It risks contaminating its intuitive spark of insight and its receptiveness to the innovative new ideas that arrive with a flash, unexpectedly. It risks the erosion of its powerful capacity to be a catalyst for widespread action.

So what’s an Aquarius to do?!

How much compromise is too much compromise? At what point does one’s stubborn adherence to one’s own ideas and plan, end up preventing beneficial collective progress?

It is this type of dilemma that emerges frequently for 11th House folks and Aquarius-types – and for us all, when Aquarius is highlighted by transit, such as during this week’s Aquarius Solar Eclipse.

In some way or another, tailored to where this eclipse is falling in your natal chart, you are likely dealing with questions and dilemmas related to your group involvements and what’s best for the group/society as a whole… VS. your independence, freedom, creative and innovative self-expression and leadership.

The healthy functioning of Aquarius, is a balancing act.

This New Moon is a South Node Solar Eclipse. Therefore, there is something this week that wants to be released in your life. This is a new beginning that is predicated on a letting go.

Which way do you lean? How might you achieve a more effective outsider/insider balance – a balance that liberates your unique self while also supports you with contributing to collaborative interdependent efforts for change and progress?

Depending on your current expression of Aquarius in your chart, this “letting go” could involve releasing certain limiting group affiliations and your adherence to suffocating societal norms… OR it could involve releasing a measure of stubborn and independent outsider status in order to participate in a more collaborative effort.

With Mercury and Juno tightly conjunct this Solar Eclipse, while being sextiled by Uranus and squared by Jupiter, this New Moon is a live wire.

Its expression in your life will likely be marked by surprising encounters with people from your past, unexpected information emerging, important conversations occurring, or significant insights erupting. With Juno’s influence, matters of commitment, as well as dynamics between womxn (mutual support or jealousy), will likely play a role.

Venus will sextile Saturn on the same day (THURSDAY) providing a somewhat pleasant, stabilizing presence. You can do this! Whatever twists and turns, whatever decisions or tasks lie ahead, steady, strategic steps will take you far.

On SATURDAY, Mars in Sagittarius perfects its square to Neptune while the Sun forms a superior conjunction with Mercury at the end of Aquarius. There is lots of clarity and incoming insights going on here, but our capacity to take action on our thoughts might feel temporary stalled. Be patient!

As the Sun and Mercury glide into Pisces together on SUNDAY, adaptability and flexibility will be essential – while still maintaining our renewed sense of direction and resolve, post-eclipse season.

Create some change this week, both within and without! Remember that all beneficial change in society begins with internal shifts.

Some inspiration and food for thought:

 

Celebrate the final days of Aquarius Season and go do you, lovely human!

 

**If you are familiar with your natal chart, check out my nodal horoscopes from last week to gain greater insight on how this Eclipse Season might be showing up in your life.

Pssst… for additional and more frequent cosmic weather updates, follow Lilith Rebellion on Instagram and Facebook. To receive a weekly cosmic weather overview by email, subscribe to Lilith Rebellion email updates. The week’s cosmic weather forecast will be published on the blog every Monday, with periodic additional posts to mark important cosmic events.

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