9 min read

[from the archives:] 5/20/21

Could I “conquer my fear of heights”? It turns out the answer to that last question is no. But what I’ve learned about fear, fright, danger, the nervous system, and the power of our thinking has been invaluable to my understanding of the world. And yes, to my astrological practice, too.
[from the archives:] 5/20/21

Jupiter in Pisces and Achieving Flow State: 

The Importance of Trusting Your Feet and Relaxing Your Grip

Nov 13, 2022


I sat down to "quickly finish a draft" at 6:30pm. Clearly, that's not what happened.

Just wrapping a move but too injured to be able to unpack and move in. New projects... It's been a busy week.

I started today with only one task ahead of me: complete any one of the several drafts-in-progress I've got in the works as a result of this daily writing challenge.

I may have started the day with only one – well, two – tasks ahead of me. But the pressing, urgent, and delightful opportunities presented themselves.

I saw the emails.
I snapped into action.
I seized the day.

Like the seal in this aquarium, I hit a wall.

In previous years, I would have either given up saying, "it's not that big a deal anyway," or pushed my body to a place of completely spent exhaustion.

But that's no way of living to model for the world. And, my purpose with this series of daily posts (and being on this earth) is to model living in alignment with one's truth through my actions.

So, I'm going to acknowledge that my brain and body are asking me to stop and prioritize rest. At least tonight, and probably tomorrow too, by the looks of what's on my to-do list. Instead of forcing myself setting myself up for diminishing returns, I let the drafts lie unfinished and am opting to pull a post from the archives.

Jupiter will station direct in 10 days, and will be in Aries before the end of the year. If you thought Jupiter always spends a year in a sign, get this: Jupiter will be in Taurus before summer!

So, before we say goodbye to water-y Jove I thought I'd release some old content from the Patreon locker.

[other than replacing the picture of my rock climbing with a better one, and omitting the link for the monthly live patron chat from this post, this essay is being re-published in its original form. please blame any lingering typo's on 2021-Bear – thank you very much.]


originally published May 20, 2021

Jupiter in Pisces and Achieving Flow State: The Importance of Trusting Your Feet and Relaxing Your Grip

I’ve been rock climbing for two years now. I started climbing indoors as a “safe way” to work through my fear of heights. I’ve been afraid of heights since my high school theatre tech days. Climbing a scaffold, or even a step stool, tbh, was something that would grip me with fear and a none too helpful surge of adrenaline.

Too much thinking, when thinking activates your nervous system in a way that impedes your ability to think clearly, means that something other than an increase to the speed of thinking or nervous system processing needs to happen. This is like hearing “don’t look down” or “don’t think about falling” when faced with the body’s clear and present alarm bells ringing DANGER in your ears.

Instead, what’s needed is a method for staying with the body. For remaining associated and engaged. Present in the moment so that the level of accuracy viz a viz danger can be accurately assessed and attended to. This is why in climbing, when faced with fear, it’s not “don’t look down” that they yell up at you. It’s “trust your feet. Relax your grip. Remember to breathe.” (Or, some combination of those three. The most common of which is TRUST YOUR FEET.)

Fast forward a decade and then some from those high school scaffolding days, and you’ll find me, (circa 2019) in the midst of a 9thhouse Jupiter year, on the heels of gorging an entire smorgasbord of astrology certifications, asking how I can invite Aries energy into my life. In the last few months of that 9th house profection, as I prepared for a changing of the timelord guard (10H Aries) preparing for a Mars year, I decided to put what I’d learned to work by “conquering a fear” so that Mars didn’t conquer me.

Enter rock climbing.

Truth be told, I’d watched Free Solo. Several times. Like so many other folks inspired and awed by the nearly superhuman feat achieved by Alex Honnold, I wanted to know what it was all about. What was so compelling about rock climbing? What sense of accomplishment could I find in summiting the 10 foot wall of my local climbing gym? Could I “conquer my fear of heights”?

It turns out the answer to that last question is no. But what I’ve learned about fear, fright, danger, the nervous system, and the power of our thinking has been invaluable to my understanding of the world. And yes, to my astrological practice, too.

In climbing, particularly as a beginner, you’ll hear the phrase “trust your feet” a lot. Particularly outdoors, there are often only the most tenuous of “hand-holds” (they’re more places with enough friction to bear a little weight, than ‘holds’ per se). The “feet” are often just places that are large enough to apply even friction to, “smearing” more so than to step on.

You’ll learn quickly that hauling oneself up a sheer cliff with little more than ripples and ridges of waves in the rock isn’t actually possible. What is possible though, is ‘walking’, ‘dancing’, or ‘flowing’ up the wall.

An impossible feat? Maybe.
An oxymoron? Perhaps.
Totally Piscean? Absolutely.

Trusting your feet means allowing your feet to bear your body’s full weight – as they were designed to. In climbing, this means trusting that a miniscule bit of your big toe, plus balance and a few deep breaths, will keep you in contact with the wall long enough to make the next move, or decide if you want to get down.

The next thing you’ll learn is to relax your grip. Not necessarily because someone points this out. This is something I learned from attempting to conquer fear. A fear of heights is instinctive in humans. Something about not flying and being too big to land lightly. When gripped with fear, we instinctively grip whatever we’re holding tighter. Whether it’s neon bits of plastic or the real deal cardinal earth-y stuff, tightening our grip leads the forearms and all those muscles in our hands to tire out faster. Making holding on harder, meaning we fall off faster, and need even more rest to try again – if we’re willing to.

So, trusting our feet, and relaxing our grip is essential to being able to meet the real risks and dangers inherent in a somewhat hardcore sport with clear and present thinking. (What’s actually required is to practice risk reduction).

Jupiter in Pisces is home. Jupiter is expansive, jovial, and broadminded. Pisces is everything. Everything, everything. Expanding on everything is a bit of an oxymoron. But damned if Jupiter won’t try. This is where the potential for far too much of a good thing becomes a cliché for a reason.

Where this energy and dynamic excels is in making connections. Taking in all the details and seeing the unusual or unexpected. The way a gravity defying layback, or backflag (climber talk for fancy footwork and clever body positioning) can actually make a movement easier. Can turn the seemingly arduous task of hauling oneself up a wall into a trance-inducing dance of levitation.

While Jupiter is in Pisces it will be, by whole sign aspect, squaring the Nodes of the Moon and opposing Neptune. This brings in the ongoing tale of alternative facts, deception, glamour, and the delimitations of information vs. data.

What can our climbing metaphor teach us here?

Arno Ilgner, author of The Rock Warrior Way, dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of taking in the details. When looking at a sheer rock face it’s easy to be dauted. “There’s nothing to hold onto,” and “there aren’t any good feet” are thoughts that are quick to emerge. They exist in the same way that the mind-based fear does. This isn’t the body’s imminent danger warning system type of fear, but the mind telling us stories that suggest we ought to be afraid in the same way.

By zooming out even further than “oh this rock wall is daunting, and there are no holds anywhere” out to the level of “I am on a rock climbing trip and I’m experiencing a moment of feeling daunted by the climb in front of me” we find a loophole into the very granular and gritty world of investigating the details before us.

Jupiter in Pisces, in the context of the other outer planets, is poised to facilitate even more nuancing and complexifying with respect to the paradigm shifting changes taking place thanks to Uranus in Taurus, and the slow reconfiguration of the world as we know it through the blurring and blending action of Neptune in Pisces.

Since Jupiter rules Neptune (from the Hellenistic lens I begin with these days) we can also think about the Greater Benefic coming in to facilitate Neptune’s function, and hopefully, to bring out the best in the Great… Mystifier. I’m one who’s willing to accept that Neptune may well be a malefic, so truth be told, I’m not sure whether I’d expect to see a mere neutralization of the slow and gradual dissolving powers of Neptune, or for those actions to bring about more ‘constructive’ or appreciated changes.

This is one area where I’m happy to observe and save the prediction for the conjunction proper – next year.

From now until the first week of August Jupiter will be in Pisces. Then we spend the rest of the year revisiting that airy jovial vibe.

There’s one last climbing metaphor here: we work out our “beta” (or plan) and we go for it. Sometimes we fall. Our sequence was off. That hold literally peels off the wall. Or wasn’t actually a hold. So, we hangdog it (sit in the harness with thanks to our belayer), or we go back to the ground, and work out a new plan.

Come the beginning of 2022, Jupiter will head back into Pisces. That’s when it’s back on the wall with a bit more faith in our feet, a little less gripped with fear (for all the experience we’ll get now).

That Jupiter will retrograde back into Aquarius is certainly interesting. It makes me think of Jupiter as the Water Bearer, going off into Piscean waters to refill the vessel that Saturn in Aquarius has… gifted them? Tasked them with bearing? Burdened them with?

I suppose that will depend largely on where Jupiter is posited in your chart and what the Greater Benefic is responsible for.

This is obviously where I’m supposed to put a shameless plug for my services. Suffice it to say, you’ll want to take a peek at your natal Jupiter.

What I want you to take away from these words:

...in the form of a late 90's infomercial

Are you suffering from creative blocks? Fingers on the keyboard but the words won't clickity-clackety their way out?

A gif of a "joe everybody" looking dude using a sledgehammer to smash a large head of iceberg lettuce into a food processor. his demeanor is 100% unironic. the scene is a parody of an infomercial
Do you struggle with smashing large heads of lettuce into food processors with your sledgehammer?

When you feel stuck in a particularly tricky crux, there is often a solution hiding in plain the sight. Just like the ferns that grow next to the stinging nettles in my childhood woods.

  • No creative flow? My friend, you could be dehydrated.
  • Can't muster up your usual energy, focus, or output? My pal, you might be hungry.
  • Writing dissipating right as you're close to pulling it together? Homie, you may be in need of sleep.

For all you climbers out there:

  • Beta won't flow? You may be forcing a sequence.
  • Can't generate the power/compression/tension you need to stay on the wall?
  • Not sure where there's even a foothold to consider trusting your foot to (i.e., don't know where you're headed with your life)? Cousin, you might be too tired, or gripped with fear to notice the details in front of you.

Questions of the Day:

The ones above in the bullet points. Plus:

What does it look like in your life to trust your feet, breath deep, and relax your grip?

Challenge of the Day:

If you notice yourself feeling stuck, or feel like your usual pace of tackling problems has slowed down, try breathing first, then see if a sip of water, small break, or bite shifts things in some way.

Bonus magical challenge:

Find the causal sympathies in your life that correspond to hydrating, feeding yourself, and resting. E.g., hydration having a magical sympathy with flow and cleansing.

As always, I hope these words find and serve you well.

If there's any way I can be of service to you in creating opportunities for grounded growth or embodied empowerment, please feel free to reach out to me at bearryver@gmail.com; or, book a session at: bearryver.as.me

Until tomorrow, friends.

For those of you who care about the stats:

This is post 6/6.
Time from draft to publish was: semi-n/a

Obstacle/fear/barrier(s) overcome: urgent and important tasks, accumulated sleep debt, feeling like I already missed a day (posting "yesterday's" post at 12:01am today rather than on the 12)

For those of you wondering what the stats are about, you read about my Daily Embodied Empowerment Challenge here.