Chiron: Bridging the Gap of Cognitive Dissonance

Image by Kelly McKernan.

Mars is the ruler of war and warriorship, when Chiron who is involved with healing fragmentation and claiming the true self is in Mars ruled Aries, things are likely to get heated in the quest to integrate disparate realities.

Cognitive dissonance is a mental state caused when cognition- beliefs, thinking, perception, etc. is not reflected in our behaviour and external realities. Collective dissonance is when the external reality is at odds with the feelings and experiences of sections of society. Forced compliance behaviour is one of the main causes of cognitive dissonance, such as being forced to comply with ethics or beliefs that go against our values. In societies where it becomes increasing difficult to challenge authority or social norms the tendency is to turn the conflict inward, or out to our communities leading to the fracturing of the individual, society, or both. Under these circumstances protest is likely

On 10th March 2021, the Home Office issued an updated Policy Paper on protests- Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill 2021: Protest Powers Fact Sheet, in which an official is recorded as saying,

“Ever since the first large-scale Extinction Rebellion protest in April last year I have been talking publicly and with the government about the potential for change to powers and to legislation that would enable the police to deal better with protests in general given that the act that we work to – the Public Order Act – is now very old, [dating to] 1986”.

Clause 1 of the policy sates,“The measures in the Bill will allow the police to take a more proactive approach in managing highly disruptive protests causing serious disruption to the public.”

In researching the period of history when Chiron was last travelling through Aries- between 1968- 1977 it has become clear that the first decan of Aries (1-10 degrees) is a political and social hotspot for the Centaur. Social unrest, protest, war, government manipulation, collective shadow, mass distraction, assassination, and a radical shift in consciousness all underpin Chiron’s placement in early Aries… not just in the last Chiron in Aries transit during the extremely turbulent late sixties and early 70’s but also in the previous Chiron in Aries cycle 1918- 1926.

An example of collective dissonance was in the summer of 1969 (Chiron at 6 Aries) when the horror felt by many Americans in relation to the Vietnam war was offset by pride and patriotism inspired by the Apollo moon landing. For many there was a deep distrust of the government who were exposed as lying to the American people, and yet it was a momentous occasion that placed the United States as winner of the space race. As the country was still recovering from the shock of the assassination of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, for a jaded youth the possibility of dissociation through psychedelics and getting high at Woodstock was an seductive invitation to drop out.

At the outbreak of the covid-19 epidemic on 31st December 2019 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) was informed about a number of cases of what was thought to be pneumonia was reported in Wuhan Chiron was at 1 Aries. On 12 January 2020, it was announced that a novel coronavirus had been identified as the cause of the outbreak and by the time of the launch the vaccination for COVID-19, Chiron had moved into 4 degrees Aries.

Despite many people including a large number of health professionals who did not believe that masks offer any protection against the virus, the wearing of masks was nevertheless mandatory. This along with other enforcements during the pandemic caused individual and collective dissonance.

Chiron’s medicine is the panacea for healing cognitive dissonance, it helps us to claim our authentic selves bringing us into wholeness though integration of the shadow and light, conscious and subconscious. Synthesis requires vigilance and a willingness to confront the truth no matter how painful.  It is not always easy for humans in our modern material culture to face the darker aspects of life… and yet while we do not, they run us a mock and the expression of the shadow is writ large.

Between the orbit of Saturn and Uranus Chiron is the bridge between the limitations of our personal and cultural worlds and the transpersonal or collective realm influenced by powers beyond our control. Uranus, the great awakener, and liberator offers release from the vice like grip of Saturnian oppression. Crossing the bridge between these two states requires untangling from worldly illusions created by ourselves or others which impede our true expression, or as Jung calls it individuation. Reclaiming the truth of who we are individually and collectively exposes the falsity and illusion that we have either presented or accepted as reality.

Events such as the Harvey Weinstein case (Chiron at 1 Aries) sent ripples of anger through the collective because it touched our deepest personal wounds. The merging of the collective and personal shadow opens a channel for catharsis when for a brief moment attention is given to issues that have been long festering in the collective psyche. But there is a danger here of the energy being co-opted by forces and powers that use the emotional charge to fuel other agendas and propaganda. The subtle illusion of the issue is in the appearance of things being “dealt with” while in reality only the surface is being scratched. That’s why the same themes surface in an almost constant loop, though each time they do we are presented with an opportunity to penetrate things more deeply and see more clearly. But while we remain unconscious of our wounds, we are vulnerable to manipulation at the drop of a news headline or traumatic image.

At the heart of these complexities is a prevailing dissonance- we arrest Harvey Weinstein and countless woman open up to tell their story of sexual abuse and harassment in the #MeToo campaign. We continue to watch Hollywood movies that depict sexual violence offering no recourse to a deeper engagement with the issues presented… in short, we normalise it. That’s just on screen… since the arrest of Weinstein many women involved with Hollywood have come forward to expose the institutionalised misogyny at the heart of the industry. On the silver screen perhaps more than anywhere we live out the fractures of duality… good guys/ bad guys, and sometimes the ones who are meant to be good are the bad guys and the picture’s not so clear. But Hollywood is not an adequate receptacle for our shadow, it’s a hall of smoke and mirrors… as indeed is the whole of mass media.

The most recent event to send shock waves through the collective is the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of a Metropolitan police officer. People who believe that the police force are operational at least in part to protect society- an image that is fast unravelling- are naturally horrified by this. Adding fuel to the fire of society’s unhealed wounds around safety and abuse of power is the police handling of female protestors who gathered yesterday in a vigil for Sarah Everard. On Mothering Sunday as men and women honour mothers and the Mothering principle, a sense of vulnerability, anger and shock coloured the day.

The reaction to Sarah Everard’s death is complex, there is bold talk of “putting a stop to this threat to women once and for all” but so far there is no proposal of how this might come about. One measure to ensure the safety of women against violence might involve more social control, and age-old technique of problem, solution that sometimes has other less tangible motivations in the mix. Failing that it would take a shift of consciousness and not just a media buffered campaign with a hash tag and a slogan.

While it was no doubt cathartic for women to share their history of sexual abuse and harassment in #MeTo, and while Hollywood as an industry of corruption was exposed, I wonder how deep the healing went. Alongside the campaign a proportion of men voiced their concerns at feeling attacked as the shadow masculinity fell under scrutiny. I noticed the same reaction rising in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death too. There is a disturbance in the field of our most intimate lives as the ancient wound of the masculine and feminine is repeatedly re-opened.

And yet, on the same day of Sarah’s murder, the University of Manchester issued a statement advising against the use of gender specific terms at all. Terms such as man/woman, mother/father, his/hers, etc are encouraged to become obsolete. On the one hand we are polarised and fractured precisely and obviously on account of gender while on the other hand we are being asked to move away from gender distinctions all together. Will rape and sexual harassment diminish in a gender-neutral society? Are women less likely to be abused if they renounce their womanhood? Here is another obvious case of cognitive dissonance.

It is our job to be vigilant and alert in how we respond to the heady cocktail of information and disinformation that is constantly filtered through the multiplex of society. If we are personally triggered by worldly events it is a clear indication of where our individual wounds lie, and there’s a good chance our personal wounds overlap with the collective- this is Chiron’s territory. In healing our own wounds we are in a stronger position to be part of society in positive and empowered ways. The problem with cognitive dissonance is that when it becomes too much, we simply switch off and become incapable of critical thought. Obviously from here we are easily led and all too easily hand our decision-making power to outside agencies.

The influence of these collective authorities is powerful and when through manipulation or coercion the collective unconscious is recruited in support of the cause, dissent is treated with contempt and sometimes violence.

Chiron reconnects us with our instincts giving us the opportunity to tune in with our true selves and discern what is real for us. Chiron is a bridge across which we learn to trust ourselves and stand confidently in who we are.

1 thought on “Chiron: Bridging the Gap of Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Pingback: Chiron: Bridging the Gap of Cognitive Dissonance | Ontembare Vrouwen Web

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