“…When it’s only a social obscenity. Underneath we’re all lovable, HA!” Thus begins my favorite Crass song, “Darling,” a classic Valentine’s anthem. The modern couple unit is both an invention of the grim, isolating ruling order and yet also often an effective fortification against it. Life within a regime of necropolitics (via Achille Mbembe) is full of such contradictions. This Valentine’s season, as ever, beware the cloying poison of wack-ass idealized norms and consumerist snares.
Valentine’s Day season is when we compare ourselves to unrealistic standards of progress and find ourselves wanting. Winter is when we think about aging, security, loneliness. As you get older, periodically you remember how old and experienced people your current age seemed to you when you were younger. It is amusing but also kind of jarring—like where is the wisdom, confidence, or security I thought came with surviving this long? This is the “there are no adults” lesson. Underneath that lesson is another, implicit one about the overgrown children we all are. Even more reason to tend to yourself like you need taking care of. we all need taking care of.
This February, our shared unconscious brims with a mourning of our lost innocence. It manifests as a subtle sense of injury, or an aloof generalized mourning. Last February, I encouraged you to invest in self-love, the only source of nurturing upon which you can always count. Self-love has many facets, among them recognizing one’s inner child, directing compassion to oneself, extending it to others, and engaging in critical self-reflection. Let’s talk about those things.
We are still in the midst of a Mercury retrograde, and what I’m observing—and forecasting—for the duration is a specific flavor of miscommunication: the kind where you build up a case against someone in your head before even inviting them into the conversation, giving up on your friend before even sharing your misgivings. It is a defensive move, deployed when one feels at their most attacked and unsure. I suggest that instead of investing in bitterness and grudges, you use this state as an opportunity to heal your inner innocent.
“Care for yourself as you would for a child” is the advice I used to dispense to my depressed and struggling friends, particularly those restricting their food intake. It felt too simple, and like clumsy advice. As I obsessed about my imperfect advice, I feared it could even lead to some kind of psychological schism, severe dissociation, and ultimately even a Sybil-esque situation. But that advice was all I could muster, and despite its goofy, make-believe qualities, I stand by it and offer it to you this last month of Winter.
Since the sun is still in Aquarius, sign of humanist concern, I will also include in our discussion of love and self-love the revolutionary value of self-work. All liberation movements have included a component of this: to change the world we must change ourselves, that is the axiom. (Don’t get me wrong, the world’s real bad, and also some of us need more changing than others.) The complementary opposite forces that keep us from internalizing this liberation are self- importance, the idea that we already embody perfection and enlightenment, and self-sacrifice, the idea that we are but servants to the revolution. All opposites hold the seed of the other within themselves. Self-importance sacrifices our chance at wholeness, improvement, and ultimately our humanity because it denies that we can be flawed and still deserving of love. Inherent in self-sacrifice is the belief that we are so important that we cannot even stop to take care of ourselves and our mundane needs. Locate these obstructive forces within yourself when they arrive and use them as a signal to take care.
This month, the Full Moon is in Leo on the 3rd—a perfect opportunity to use Leo’s ferocious heartpower to amplify healing of childhood traumas. We have a New Moon in Aquarius on the 18th, continuing the heavy dose of Aquarian energy we have been getting. Make a new start by attempting some psychic homeopathy: administer to yourself a small dose of some social venom that has been troubling you, and grow stronger by watching your immune system destroy it. The Sun enters Pisces on February 19th, just over a week after Mercury begins to go direct. The creative energy of Pisces is good medicine as we recover from the big broken trip Mercury has been taking us on.
In conclusion, listen to Crass and buy yourself chocolate. HELLO HERO, HELLO HELLO! Check your individual horoscopes for your sign’s love song of the month.
This month, as ever in love, your two extremes are best represented by Scream Club featuring Peaches, “Fine As Fuck” and Mary J. Blige, “Not Gon Cry.” You’re either feelin’ yourself to the max, and gyrating your pelvis about it, or you’re deeply, stubbornly wounded. I celebrate both those states, and both those songs, and your irrepressible spirit. I do not want to tame you. But I do want to draw a line between the hubris in your Scream Club state and the stunned hurt in your MJB state. Suffering is a part of life, but it is good to try to prevent suffering that has not yet occurred. Just keep an eye toward the Sunday mornings of the world while you’re grinding away on the Saturdays.
For someone who hates fighting as much as you do, you sure foment a lot of conflict. You like to have designated zones in your life that are free from the friction you experience in the world at large. When you are successful in keeping strife out of your relationships and friendships, you are serene and loving. But when it creeps in, even in one area, it can contaminate everything, and for all your sterling qualities you are a bit lacking in the diplomatic communication necessary to resolve such situations. In honor of your passion and also general untidiness of existing, I dedicate X, “The World’s a Mess, It’s In My Kiss” to you this month. Stay lovable and wacky, don’t turn into a conspiracy theorist libertarian, don’t move to Texas.
What better hymn for the sign of the twin than the complex and contradictory “I Remember Who You Are,” from the controversially accessible Swans album The Burning World? You’re fond and forgiving when you think of younger versions of yourself, but can be uptight and demanding when immaturity surfaces in others. There’s some wisdom in the field of progressive conflict-resolution that advises one to picture the object of their frustration or contempt as a 6-year old who just had a really bad day. This advice does have some icky saccharine notes to it, but you may be surprised at how effective it is at dousing the flames of your impatience.
A notorious well of emotion, even those who adore you know that you’re often your own worst enemy. Whether that’s through holding on too long to something that’s just not working out, neglecting your needs in favor of nurturing others, or just plain holding a grudge, this one goes out to you, Cancer: Pissed Jeans’ “I Broke My Own Heart.” This year, show up for yourself in all the ways you would want the lover of a dear friend to show up for them. Don’t make yourself cry. Don’t be late for your own dinner. Don’t stand yourself up. Don’t forget you had plans with yourself.
Sincere in love to the point of farce, I can think of no better romantic anthem for the Leo than 7 Seconds’ “Trust.” Though the way you express your affection can, at times, lack elegance, you are nothing if not heartfelt. Problems arise when you are not taken at face-value. You give so much in love that any hesitation on the part of your partner can feel like an excruciating blow. The prideful can have such a keen vulnerability. Believe in the sturdiness of your own heart a bit more and the forgivable anxieties of those who hold it will be more tolerable.
You bring a sense of freshness to every situation. This can be exhilarating but also exhausting—both to yourself and others. For a Virgo, it can feel like you are doing everything for the first time, especially during life transitions. To you, I dedicate the plaintive, sweet Nada Surf song “Inside of Love.” If you think of yourself as a worthy recipient of kindness and affection, you can find your way to the calm on the inside, even if you are not currently a “me with a you.”
Like the living goddess Sade, you give your all in love. Like the Deftones, you emerged from the dark years of nü metal mostly unscathed. Thus, in this season of Hallmark romance, I dedicate the Deftones cover of “No Ordinary Love” to you. For someone with a notorious sense of humor, you’re surprisingly sensual. If you keep your cards close to your chest and proceed into a relationship at the sultry pace of this song, you tend to hook ‘em forever. By the time they find out you used to have a DJ in your band and sort of veer off into rap-rock territory at times, they’re already a goner for your charming affections.
The intensity with which you show up for all of life’s projects, romantic or otherwise, frankly terrifies many people. Much of the insecurity you’ll have to work through in life has to do with just getting negative feedback from people who can’t handle you at full volume. You may choose to deal with that by having a more toned-down persona for certain situations, or you might grow a super thick hater-proof skin. I tend not to condone people toning themselves down, across the board, but it can be a valuable survival skill. This month, I dedicate X-Ray Spex’s “Obsessed With You” to you, Scorpio. (This was the nice version of the horoscope. In the snarky one, your song was the Vandals’ “Fucked Up Girl.” You’re welcome.)
Sagittarians have an unintentional scorched earth policy in place for most social situations, and romance is no exception. The Dead Milkmen’s “If You Love Someone, Set Them On Fire” represents the lighter side of this attribute. The positive spin is that you are so bright and hot that you tend to ruin your partners for other people (at least until the burns start to heal). On the downside, when your temper is raised, you tend to be as easy to reason with as a wildfire. You attract partners that can see through your occasional brashness, so we’re talking folks with a softer side. Let’s call them “marshmallows.” This month, make sure it gets a nice even golden roast all around, even if you’re used to crunching through charred skin and devouring gooey hearts.
I did not place too much importance on the birth charts of the musicians for the other signs this month, but I could not resist selecting a Capricorn musician for your horoscope—Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA Twigs. Whether or not you’re feeling as belittled as the narrator of “Water Me,” you too wrestle with feeling punished for setting boundaries. Conflict is the flipside of intimacy, and in conflict you often just want to banish the world and be bitter without the burden of company. This habit becomes challenged in the rare circumstance that you have let someone into your innermost circle of confidence and care. Discomfort is a characteristic of growth. Lean into it.
Whether or not you’ve reached an unimaginable chasm in a relationship, as has the narrator of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “The Hardest Walk,” you are wrestling with the sense of being “alone inside a sick sick dream.” When you encounter imperfection in others, it can wound you, especially if you are seeing yourself in the flaw or resisting doing so. Though you’re actually grappling with some difficult conflicts lately, your exterior is as placid as the glazed eyes of the brothers Reid. If you don’t expose the raw parts of yourself that have more questions than answers—in a way that isn’t standoffish—important people will drift away from you. Seize this Mercury retrograde in your sign to wade past the habits that keep you apart from your dear ones.
If I could wish a superpower upon you, Pisces, it would be for your inner monologue to be narrated by Greg Sage from the Wipers when you’re moody. I think it would lend some levity and help you not take yourself too seriously, and it could feel a bit like companionship. Actually, it sounds more like I’m wishing a psychotic auditory hallucination upon you. I watched Birdman though, and I’m pretty sure that technically still counts as a superpower (that was the takeaway, right?). Anyway, in the Wipers’ lovely tune “The Lonely One,” Sage’s deep voice croons out a dedication to those solitary beings searching for meaning in a cold world. If that’s you this month, find solace in his words: “let your mind be carried/with the breeze/for you know you’re not the ones who carry/the disease.” Or alternately: shit ain’t mine. Disidentify with that which you dislike.