In the Swedish movie Force Majeure, Ebba, Tomas and their children are vacationing in the Alps one morning when, while sitting at breakfast on the viewing deck, a controlled avalanche gets a little too close for comfort. Tomas reassures everyone that it is not heading for their breakfast table but Ebba is not so sure. Indeed the blustery mayhem closes in, and as Ebba grabs their two children she looks to her teammate for help. But Tomas, in a moment of instinctual self-preservation, has fled without them (though, as we later learn, he did have the presence of mind to remember to grab his iPhone). While the avalanche is a near miss, the crisis has deep repercussions for the marriage.
Ebba’s body language, now brisk, robotic with unexpressed resentment, looms large when a clueless Tomas asks, and Ebba insists, “Nothing is wrong.” At a dinner with new acquaintances, Ebba, drinking wine and laughing inappropriately, attempting to disguise her horror about the day’s events yet unable to honestly confront Tomas about her true feelings of betrayal, retells the story as their dinner companions grow visibly uncomfortable. Tomas, who does not share Ebba’s perception of events, listens on in shock. Afterwards, both try to stuff the awkward experience back into the nothingness from whence it came, to return to normalcy, but their coping mechanisms are failing. Ebba cannot turn a blind eye to Tomas’ cowardice and extricates punishment in the cruel ways couples can do; eventually Tomas’ sees his own shortcomings, too, but it becomes clear that the shame of admitting so cuts to the bone of his identity. Pandora’s box has been opened. Trauma can do that. The rest of the movie shows the two in a controlled avalanche of psychological proportions- the urge for emotional honesty and transparency constantly being check-mated by their Libran habit of avoiding direct confrontation, difficulty with expressing honest feelings, and need to keep up appearances.
In love, we learn to sidestep landmines, gild honesty with sweetness, and mediate conflict with kindness because often that’s what keeps relationship running smoothly. Ironically, the same things we do to protect our relationship can also hurt it. It’s the ultimate irony of Libra. Because there are 7 billion people in the world, and exponential needs, differences and desires within every single being, we learn that agreeing to perceptions not wholly shared by our self is a legitimate strategy -for what is relationship if not a marriage of two entirely different views of reality? Sometimes, though, a Force Majeure – a moment of superior and irresistible force; sometimes likened to an act of God- lays the failings of our person, or our relationship, bare, and try as we might we cannot put that knowledge back. At this point, it’s our self-honesty, no matter how untested by the light of day, biased or even wholly inaccurate (according to the other), that can bridge the differences between us.
This is a difficult lunation. Uranus and Pluto closely square Libra Moon and Aries Sun, plus, it’s an Eclipse. Crisis is hard on Libra, whose endpoint is peace and calm. But when, like Ebba and Tomas, the price of keeping things copasetic turns out to be our liberty and love, when our authenticity (Uranus) and defense strategies (Pluto) become so untenably frozen, we are forced to meet Medusa head on, to finally engage the monstrous thing keeping us locked in unconscious shadowboxing, and from which we cannot turn away.
These moments call for a healthy amount of Aries directness, a ballsy willingness to risk everything for truth-to-self honesty – even those peace-loving Libra strategies our relationships we rely upon to help things run smoothly. Truth is difficult for us to express precisely because it threatens to topple a cherished illusion. Maybe we want to think our relationship is immune to the fallout of misfortune. Maybe we need to release (or fall from) the almighty Libran pedestal, that idealistic place that denies shadow, anger, unmet needs, dashed expectations, disappointment – in short, our humanness. Maybe we believe we are protecting our partner from pain and confusion by holding back the true feelings of our experience, hand holding and cosseting their ego instead. In the end, though, it’s our humanity and our truth that set us both free.
Through the Uranus-Pluto years I’ve witnessed some relationships falter, some fail, and others trudge through the trenches. Those that fare better than average are democratic, not totalitarian, at heart and share the following: Humility – willingness to admit our human failings. Empathy – an ability to walk in another’s shoes. Trust – do we trust them with our life? Respect– we honor their perspective, even when we don’t share it. And Love. No mere frosting on the wedding cake, when both partners possess these abilities they are so resilient that the strongest storm couldn’t knock them down for long.
Relationship is a lesson in paradox, in holding two radically different realities, with love. Can we disagree without making the other person wrong? Is our relationship a democracy, founded on mutual respect, humility, empathy, trust, and love? Can we mine our breaking points for breakthroughs? Can we commit to doing psychological work on our shadow and wounds – and can we embrace the freeing wholeness we discover there, especially when what we see is not pretty, nice or consistent with our self image? Those are questions for this Full Moon Eclipse. Our liberty, and maybe even our love, hangs in the balance.