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‘Flemish landscape with travelers attacked by robbers’ By Peter Snayers c1645 {{PD}}

In this end-of-week, end-of-year slice, we may have our confidence shaken, we may find the past looking a lot better than the future, and current circumstances may seem to threaten those things we were hoping to gain by fulfilling commitments and living our values. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? After the incredibly difficult year even the luckiest of us have had, nobody needs to feel that what appeared to be solid ground yesterday is suddenly taking on the character of shifting sands. The problem is, there are a lot of grifters just waiting to take advantage of our unsureness. I’ve been noting the proliferation of these types for a while, and had decided not to talk about them (they are what they are, easy enough to see if we clear our vision by choosing to be honest with ourselves), until I saw something particularly egregious today and then took a look at the perfecting aspects for the 30th and 31st and thought, maybe I need to speak up.

The astrology centers on that foundation shake, a hard, rattling jolt that could make us question our dreams, could lead us to see old or outmoded priorities or outgrown values as preferable to those challenging new ones we’ve evolved into, could center on the least glamorous parts of relationships or finances, could try to make us believe that having ‘the dream’ is going to cost us terribly, and could try to persuade us there’s no way forward without compromising our highest standards and values (Vesta sq Nodal axis, Venus sq Neptune, Sun parallel and Venus conj SN–so the latter is also sq Vesta–and Venus also parallels Pluto). It’s overall a glum picture, one that breeds a particular sense of hopelessness; enter those who would profit from it.

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about those who are simply offering you their services, or those offering advice, even when it’s for a fee. There are many, many people who have experience, learning, training, and/ or skills from which others can benefit, who rightfully deserve remuneration. I’m talking about people who want something, and have a laser focus on getting it; the resource they see may be material, may be intangible (like energy or love) but is in any case an asset to the possessor–and I’ve found that what they target typically corresponds to one’s natal Venus placement or to one’s natal Moon. These are the most receptive energies in the horoscope, attuned to interaction, engagement, partnership, and communion through feeling or intuitive understanding. So, how do we spot a leech?

We don’t want to cast others in an unnecessarily negative light when they may have no ill intention at all, so we must be careful to ask, how do we know they’re grifters, and not offering us a truly beneficial opportunity? Typically, they approach us with a sleight of hand: they seem to be offering us something, a benefit, usually something that has at least one component that can’t really be sold, because it’s an intangible–and they are aggressive in their salesmanship, while distracting with either warnings (“disaster if you don’t!”) or promises (and these have a blinding shininess, appealing as something you’ve always longed for and feared you’d never get, things that carry big labels like ‘peace’ ‘love’ ‘spiritual maturity’). The promise isn’t just that you’ll have a sense of moving along the road; it carries the implication that you’ll reach your destination, that the effort and trials of living will no longer be tough, at least in this one way, with the promise that your life will be infinitely better ever after–and of course, they point to themselves as already having achieved this. For instance, they may promise enlightenment, a sense of well-being, the ability to give your life direction (or meaning, or purpose, or the key to bounty, beyond just informing you of opportunities or abilities you may possess)–things it’s very difficult to say they didn’t provide, after involvement with them, because if it doesn’t happen for you, they can always say there’s something wrong with you, your attitude or the way you applied their coaching, perhaps–and that can be fixed with another round, right?

You’ve probably heard that saying that the greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing us he doesn’t exist–grifters count on that, count on your honesty, your willingness to believe what they’re attesting to, your unwillingness to see someone as a liar. Whether the grifters focus on telling you that you must protect yourself by listening to them (a fear approach), or that they have the answer, the key, the method, the pipeline to the divine (an ‘I have magic!’ approach), the thrust is always one that makes it clear: they have or know something you don’t, that they’re counting on you (maybe desperately) wanting, when it’s really that they want something from you. Initially their attention to you may feel like the Sun, nurturing, warm, understanding, enveloping, redolent of safety and security, at last–but the Sun can blind, and as you bask in this warmth the set-up for you to hand over that asset they’ve been focused on all along occurs.

I was going to include a detailed account of one of my own personal experiences (no worries–I wasn’t fooled, but this person was a graphic illustration of the evolution of someone who has honed the skill of robbing you to a fine art), but after much rumination I think it would be better to say just this: beware of the huckster with the brilliant smile and the promise. That’s obvious, but also a good reminder for these final couple of days of 2020: don’t be misled: you are all right, for now, just as you are. Inadequate words, but ones that I mean to be reassuring.