Mars Squares Pluto: The Last Cardinal Square in Libra & Capricorn w/ Astrologer Christopher Renstrom

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Rise by Sin or Fall by Virtue?

On Today’s Episode You’ll learn…

🌕 About the tension between Mars in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn, delving into the complexities of power dynamics and law and order.
🌗 How Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ serves as a lens to better understand the moral and authoritative challenges posed by the Mars-Pluto transit.
🌘 The role of Venus in Virgo, embodied by Isabella’s virtuous yet complex dilemma, offering a nuanced perspective on morality and choice.

📚 Learn Astrology with Christopher Renstrom

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🪐 Take the one planets course you’ll ever need: Ruling Planets for Unruly Times 

😍 Learn about Zodiac Sign compatibility: Love Among the Elements 

💝 Learn about Relationship Astrology: Step Away from the 7th House 

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[00:00:00] Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall. Next on Horoscope Highlights. Ahem,


Hello, my name is Christopher Renstrom, and I’m your weekly horoscope columnist here on Astrology Hub. And this week, I wanted to talk to you about the last square taking place between Mars in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn. followed by Venus entering the zodiac sign of Virgo on October 8th. Before we begin, did you know that you could read about transits for your own sign and subscribe to my weekly newsletter?

Just go to astrologyhub. com slash horoscope to subscribe. Again, that’s astrologyhub. com horoscope to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. Now, [00:01:00] let’s talk about that mysterious Mars Pluto square that’s taking place, followed by Venus entering the zodiac sign of Virgo.

Mars-Pluto Squares in Cardinal Signs

Now when I’m talking about this being the final square between Mars and Pluto, what I mean specifically is that it is the final square between Mars and Pluto in cardinal signs. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Pluto has been in the zodiac sign of Capricorn since 2009. And so whenever Mars enters Aries, it squares Pluto.

When Mars is in cancer, opposing Pluto and Capricorn, and Mars in cancer is in its fall, when Mars is in cancer, opposing Pluto and Capricorn, the themes that would have been brought up in that regard would have been matriarchy versus patriarchy. Both Cancer and Capricorn are about the past and tradition, but Cancer is very much associated to [00:02:00] the mother and the maternal line, and Capricorn the father and the paternal line.

And so there would have been some sort of opposition that took place between those two planets and those two ideas. So finally, when we come to Mars, which is in Libra, forming a square to Pluto in Capricorn, we see that Mars is in detriment. So this is quite interesting, actually. Mars in Aries is in domicile, Mars in Cancer is in fall, and Mars in Libra, which is the last of the cardinal signs before we get to Capricorn, is Mars in its detriment, its struggles.

It has difficulty with that. So if, uh… Ares and Capricorn are about power struggle, and Cancer and Capricorn are about matriarchy versus patriarchy.

Libra & Capricorn: Law & Order

What do we have with the Libra, Capricorn Square? What we have is law and order. Alright, so these are the themes that Libra and [00:03:00] Capricorn both have in common, is the idea of law and order.

Now when we go and we look at the astrological symbol of Libra, we see the scales. And as I’ve mentioned on a previous episode, the scales are the only sign of the zodiac, which is not a living, breathing sign. Uh, zodiac comes from the root word, uh, zodia, which is where we get the word zoo. And it meant a band of animals or a band of creatures, a ring of animals or a ring of creatures, the zodiac being an enclosed circle.

So with Libra, Libra is the only one that is not a creature or an animal. Libra is an instrument. And this was a very deliberate choice, uh, with the sign Libra, because Libra was, when Julius Caesar reintroduced the zodiac sign Libra into the Roman calendar, uh, Libra was meant to symbolize civilization. Um, it, it, it was not, it was not about [00:04:00] being ruled by its animal passions or giving in to its lower, baser nature.

It was about civilization. And so the scales, uh, which is basically the balance, was supposed to have been the highest, uh, point of civilization. We have scales being associated with money because the value of something, uh, is determined by placing, Uh, an item in one dish and then X amount of bars of gold or bars of weights or whatever in the other.

And then, you know, as soon as they’ve reached that balance, then the value was determined by that. Okay. So there’s a Venusian Taurus idea with, with that notion. But then there was very strong, uh, association with the underworld, particularly the God of the dead, the Egyptian God of the dead, Anubis. Anubis was a jackal headed God.

And in one of our earliest, uh, portraits of Libra as the scales, the scales of the dead, uh, we see Anubis [00:05:00] as god of the dead, uh, placing the heart of someone who has recently expired or died in one dish and a feather in the other. Okay, if the heart was heavier than the feather, then this person was seen as being corrupt and evil and was tossed into the belching pits of hell.

Um, if the, uh, heart and the feather struck an even balance, a delicate balance, then this was seen to be a righteous soul. And this person then went on into a beautiful and lovely paradisial. afterlife. So Pluto as, uh, Lord of the Underworld, the planet Pluto was named after Pluto. That’s his Roman name.

Hades is his Greek name. Um, Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld was associated with judging the dead. And indeed, um, we have three famous judges who reside in Hades. Uh, Hades was not only the name of the god, but Hades was also the name of [00:06:00] the shadowy, uh, of the shadowy realm, which was the realm of the afterlife, who judged the, uh, the goodness of the souls of the departed.

Those judges were, Eocos, Rodimantus, and Minos. Um, Aeocus was the judge of Europe. That is, anyone who died in Europe was judged by Aeocus in the underworld. Radimantus was the judge of Asia. So anyone who died in Asia, now Asia Back in ancient Greece was really associated to Egypt and, uh, nowadays, what we would call, uh, Turkey.

Um, so anyone who died in Asia was, uh, judged by Radimantus. Uh, he was basically the sovereign, uh, governor judge of people of, of Asia in the underworld. And then Minos, who was Greek himself. was the third and final vote. Okay, so one judge might be like, this is a good person, [00:07:00] and the other judge might be like, this is a bad person.

And then it was Minos who was going to judge, you know, be basically the tiebreaker, like, the vice president is in the Senate. Okay, so, so that was Minos function.

Upcoming Mars in Libra Square Pluto in Capricorn

And so, This idea of justice, this idea of judgment, is going to be very much, on everyone’s mind, as Mars approaches its final square to Pluto in Capricorn, and so that was very, appealing to me, that was very like, wow, you know, what, what, what can we say about this?

I mean, certainly, we can say a lot of things about it, the idea of judgment and justice is something that’s very strong right now, it’s very prevalent. Concerns here in America of our own Supreme Court being corrupt is very much on on people’s minds. Can we trust, you know, these these these people who sit on the Supreme Court to really keep the welfare.

of our country, uppermost in mind, [00:08:00] and this is something that Libras are very familiar with. Libras, you know, um, it’s named after the scales, and it’s often associated with vacillating from one, uh, one side to another, you know, not being able to make Up its mind, um, and, and, and people can sort of get annoyed with Libra, like make up your mind or whatever, you know, especially Aries, who’s the sign opposite Libra.

It’s like, do something, think something, you know, Libra is like, well, it could be this, and Aries is like, you’re impossible. Okay. So, so this is kind of like Libra in a nutshell. But the reason why Libra hesitates, and it doesn’t really hesitate, you have to remember Libra is still a cardinal sign, which is direction oriented.

The reason why Libra hesitates is because it wants to give good judgment, okay? Whatever is going to be ultimately decided, Libra is going to be responsible for. It’s going to live with that decision. And there are many other people who are going to have to live with that decision as well. So when you think of a judge, you know, who’s, who’s going to [00:09:00] render a verdict, you know, everyone’s like, you know, they’re looking up to the judge.

They’re like, Oh, please see that I’m innocent. Please, please find him guilty. You know, please, please, please, you know, and the judge. you know, sits in judgment and everyone’s silent and reverent and respectful. And then the judge renders the judgment and everyone begins cursing the judge immediately. Oh, you fool.

Or, or of course that person was, was guilty. You know, like, how could you say, you must be corrupt. You took a bribe, you know? And so, and so Libras live in this. Poised state this delicate balance between the anticipation. What do you have to say? What do you have to say? And then the disappointment as a result.

Oh, you know, you’re blind. Um, you know, happens in, in, in, uh, in, in sports all the time where they’re yelling at the referees for their calls and things like this. Libras know. All about this. And this is very much a part of this square that we’re coming up with right now. Now squares are fascinating between planets because it’s a conflict.

Okay. The two [00:10:00] planets are fighting over. What are they fighting over? They’re fighting over the upper hand. Okay, they’re trying to get the upper hand over one and one another. Okay, so, so a square will actually bring out similar qualities. Law and order, for instance, is something that is espoused by both Libra and Capricorn.

Okay, but there’s also going to be a bit when you’re dealing with Mars of like a question of power. Like, did I overdo it? You know, did I come down too hard on, on, on this person? Or… Hmm. Did I not do it enough? You know, did I show too much leniency? Did I show too much? Um, uh, was I too hesitant? Was, was I too mild mannered about rendering this verdict?

And am, am I going to have to deal with this again? You know, and so, and so this is always, especially when you’re dealing with Mars, there’s going to be a question of, was I tough enough? Or, um, was I too tough? Or was [00:11:00] I not tough enough?

And this is always a burning Mars question. You know, this, this, this sort of idea.

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

So when I was thinking of this Mars and Libra squaring Pluto in Capricorn followed. By a Venus in Virgo, okay, um, Venus entering the Zodiac sign of Virgo on the same day. And Virgo, as we know, is the sign of the Virgin or the sign of the Maiden.

That’s, that’s pretty much how Virgo is understood in astrology. I was thinking, okay, what would work with Mars and Libra, Pluto and Capricorn, Venus entering, uh, Virgo? It’s kind of like a mash up. It’s something that you get, like, Throw all these ideas together and, and, and do something. Okay. Well, actually something did come to mind.

The thing that came to mind was a wonderful play. It’s one of my favorite plays. Um, and it was written in the second half of his career and it’s a play by William Shakespeare called measure for measure [00:12:00] measure for measure is one of my absolute favorite plays. Um, it’s one of it’s regarded as one of Shakespeare’s WTF plays.

Like what the. Was he thinking, writing this? Like, where was he going? Like, you know, and, um, and particularly in the, in the case, particularly in the case of measure for measure, there was a period of time where the censors had made sure that measure for measure would never be performed. And you’re going to find out in, in a quick moment, but, uh, measure for measure.

is one of Shakespeare’s WTF plays. Um, another one of his WTF plays is All’s Well That Ends Well, and finally, Winter’s Tale. I mean, these are my favorites. I’m sure there’s a couple of others that are hanging around, but, but these are really my favorite. Um, they’re almost kind of theater of the absurd. Um, they’re so unlike.

a Shakespeare play, and they’re so heading off in their own direction, um, and that for, you know, there, there were several decades there in which measure for [00:13:00] measure was absolutely not performed. But here in the late 20th, particularly into the 21st century, measure for measure speaks volumes. Um, it’s a very modern.

play of Shakespeare. And, and, and that’s what makes it so fascinating. One wonders what it said to the Shakespearean audience, decades ago or centuries ago, but, but nowadays it has a very fresh and modern side to it. All right. So before we get into tying this play into the planetary transits and teasing out the meanings of the planets and these signs and really what they have to say about where we are right now.

I want to assign three characters to three planets. the first character is the Duke. The Duke Vincencio. Um, or, or Vincencio. I think it’s Vincencio. Okay, we’re gonna go with Vincencio. There’s a Duke. His name is Vincencio. Um, and he is the [00:14:00] governor of Vienna.

Uh, at this time, Shakespeare’s always like placing these plays like in Verona or Denmark and this one is in Vienna, Measure for Measure is in Vienna. And it’s actually very important that Measure for Measure is in Vienna because Vienna at the time, uh, that Shakespeare was writing was a Catholic town.

State. All right. So there is a Duke, um, Vincenzio, um, who is the Duke of Vienna. And I want you, whenever I mentioned the Duke, um, or his secret disguise as the Abbot, I want you to think about that. Okay. Pluto in Capricorn, okay? And that’s what he’s going to stand for, Pluto in Capricorn. The other character is Angelo.

Angelo is the Duke’s proxy, um, and Angelo is said to be a very cerebral fellow, um, very fair, but to the point of being parochial, um, and rather humorless. Angelo. [00:15:00] And, and, but Angelo is upright. He is without, you know, you cannot criticize him for anything. He is a highly moral, uh, fair minded fellow.

And he is, of course, going to be standing in for the Mars in Libra. Okay. And so he works for the Duke. Uh, the third character The third character is Isabella, and she’s standing in for Venus and Virgo, and in true Venus and Virgo, fashion, uh, Isabella is actually going to be a nun, um, and, and she is on the brink of taking her vows as a nun when the action of this play begins, and she’s brought into this very, uh, torturous dilemma that she faces.

So the Duke is Pluto in Capricorn, Angelo, his proxy, his stand in is the Mars in Libra, and then Isabella. Isabella is the Venus in [00:16:00] Virgo. Now at the beginning of the play, um, the Duke appoints Angelo as being the governor of Vienna in his absence. Okay. And, and everyone’s like, in his absence, where’s the Duke going?

Where are you going, Duke? You know, and he’s like, I, I, I cannot, I cannot divulge that right now. Um, I am leaving for a period of time, and during this time that I am gone, that I am away, Angelo is to be the governor of Vienna. So treat Angelo the way that you would treat me, and I am, and I’m expecting strict and absolute obedience.

Okay, and everyone’s like, okay, but hurry back, we, we miss you Duke, and he’s like, away, away I go, and so he exuants, okay, I’m sorry, it’s a Shakespeare play, he exuants, it’s just. Can’t help myself. But anyway, and so the Duke exudes. Okay. Um, but we find out after he exudes, he doesn’t exude that far, um, that he’s going to don the robe of an abbot.

Okay. Uh, [00:17:00] this is a Catholic priest. Okay. And, and he’s going to not leave Vienna, but he’s going to hang out in Vienna. Now, why is he doing this? What a strange and odd thing for him to do. He’s doing this because He is worried about his rule in Vienna. Vienna has gotten out of control. Um, they, they don’t take, uh, his rule of law seriously.

Um, in fact, uh, prostitution, is rampant. It’s happening all over the place. Um, uh, men are impregnating women, whether they’re prostitutes or not, and they’re not getting married. And so there’s this kind of rush of, of syphilis. And Shakespeare talks quite openly about syphilis and STDs, um, and, and, uh, babies being born out of wedlock.

And so the Duke is very concerned that, uh, Vienna has become very immoral. And what he wants to do is set up his trusted… Uh, uh, uh, uh, sheriff, basically is his trusted [00:18:00] deputy Angelo to rule in his stead. And he’s going to walk among the people disguised as, as an Abbott. And he’s going to observe, uh, their behavior.

Okay. Because obviously the way that they’re going to talk to him as a Duke is going to be very different from the way that they would talk to him. As an abbot, um, in fact, as an abbot with the cow over his head, uh, he might, for instance, hear their, their confession or they might be in a place of, of angst or, or, or, or, or wrestling with their soul.

And he might listen to that. So, so he’s. Uh, re but he’s traded in his dukedom for, uh, this shadowy figure that people can tell their their great secrets too. Perhaps you can already hear Pluto in that , uh, Pluto, if you remember from Greek mythology, was able to travel the earth invisible. He had a helmet of invisibility of invisibility.

Perseus borrows this later on when he slays or beheads the Medusa, the Gorgon. But, uh, [00:19:00] Hades was known to travel above and around the world unseen because of his invisible helmet. Um, and so he’s a shadowy figure, this Hades, and he’s a judge. He’s a judge of men’s souls, judge of men and women’s human kinds.

souls. And so the Duke is taking on that same idea of roaming Vienna to observe what’s going on here. But what he is very much concerned about is prostitution is on the rise, sexual freedom is flagrant. Uh, no one’s taking responsibility for it. Uh, women are having, uh, children out of wedlock, they’re not married.

And so what’s kind of fascinating is that we’re seeing the idea of marriage emerge as a theme , and we’re also seeing the idea of justice emerge as a theme in Measure for Measure fact, uh, justice and marriage. The two cardinal attributes of Libra are very much on show in this Shakespearean [00:20:00] play.

So the prostitutes are like fabulous. In my, um, opinion they don’t have enough stage time. Okay, they should be on stage much more than they are. But they have like the best names in Shakespeare. Like the, um, like the, uh, uh, keeper of the brothel, the madam. Her name is Mistress Overdone. Okay, like how fabulous is that?

She’s, she’s Mistress Overdone. She’s the keeper of the brothel. And then her favorite prostitute is Kate Keepdown. Kate Keepdown is, is, is an excellent prostitute and she’s, she’s very famous among all the men, you know, and so we’ve got Mistress Overdone and Kate Keepdown. It’s just, I’m sorry, just like love it.

But, um, so Angelo is set up as the deputy in the Duke’s absence. And Angelo says, uh, to the court, Um, we must not make a scarecrow of law when a scarecrow is set up to scare away scavenger birds, it becomes such a familiar presence that the birds perch [00:21:00] on it instead of being afraid. Okay, so this is where this is the state of law and order at the beginning of the play.

Um, Uh, there are very strict laws in Vienna, but everyone’s become, they’ve become lax over a period of time and, and it’s like birds in a scarecrow. At first they were frightened, but now they perch on it and maybe build a nest, you know, or something. No one’s paying attention to these laws. So what Angelo does is that he enforces a law that’s on the law books, that if a man gets a woman pregnant, that he could be put to death immediately.

Again, something that no one takes seriously until Angelo, spots this fellow named Claudio, who has gotten his, uh, uh, girlfriend, Juliette, um, pregnant and, uh, she’s very much heavy with child. And so Angelo has Claudio arrested on the spot and he’s to be executed the following day. And Juliette’s like, wait, wait, wait, you know, we’re married.

And, and Angelo’s like, are you really? And she’s like, well, we haven’t had the ceremony yet. [00:22:00] But we had a promise and a pledge to one another of being married, which in Elizabethan times was a custom. You actually went through these different stages towards marriage, but pledging yourself, what we would call right now an engagement ring, was seen as the same as marriage.

And you could subsequently sleep with your soon to be wife. Well, Angelo’s hearing none of it, and he condemns Claudio to death immediately. And Claudio is to, um, be killed the following day. So Claudio, um, uh, beseeches his friend, Lucio, uh, to go to his sister, Isabel, um, who is that day about to enter the convent of…

Um, the Order of the Poor Clares. So she’s about to become a nun that day. Um, and so, uh, and he says to Lucio, he says, Go and get her. She can plead my case before this, you know, like this iron hearted, this, this, this unfeeling Angelo. Um, [00:23:00] she can, she can, uh, plead my case and he will listen to her. Because, um, nuns are of such virtue, and held in such high esteem, that, um, you know, he can’t help but, but respond to her, her, uh, pleas for, for mercy.

And so Lucio’s like, on it. And so he goes and he gets, um, uh, Isabella, who, at that moment, um, has shaved off her head, um, and she’s in, uh, a simple attire, and she’s about to enter the Order of the Poor Clares. The Order of the Poor Clares was part of the Franciscan Order. It was basically the women’s version of Franciscan monks.

And unlike monks who were in monasteries or cloisters, who were apart from society, Franciscan monks and Order of the Clares, Poor Clares, these were monks and nuns who lived in the city. And so they helped the poor. Okay, so they weren’t [00:24:00] cloistered away from the world, but they were actually did a street ministry.

Uh, the best way to think of this is basically, uh, Isabella is like maybe working for Mother Teresa. Okay, that’s, she’s taking a vow of poverty. And, um, and, and she’s there to work with people, you know, who are poor and, and, and disadvantaged, and she comes from very well to do family, you know, this is what she’s going to do, and she’s on the verge of doing this.

When Lucio shows up and he says, you know, your brother has been condemned to die. because he got Juliet, uh, pregnant. She’s like, yeah, but they’re about to be married. What’s the big deal? He’s like, well, that’s not the way that, um, Angelo sees it. Uh, he’s, he’s saying that, um, that he has to be put to death as, as a result.

And she’s like, no, no, no, that can’t happen. He’s like, come with, you know, or forthwith, or I don’t know, some, something Shakespeare, let’s make haste or something. And so they do, um, and they go to, um, Angelo. Now what’s interesting about this, um, is that a [00:25:00] nun can speak in a male space where women cannot.

Okay, not any nun, but, um, but particularly in Isabella’s case, she can, where a woman would have been silenced. Or, uh, for instance, you have lots of women speak, um, in male spaces, like Portia in Merchant of Venice, but they’re disguised as men. So here with Isabella, she’s not a queen, she’s not royalty, she’s, she’s, she’s a nun, but she can she can plead for her, uh, brother’s life.

And so she really sort of takes on, um, the role of like lawyer because she’s pleading for her brother’s life. She’s pleading for mercy from Angelo, who is, uh, this kind of tyrannical governor. And so, um, she, she begins her argument with Lucio prompting her and encouraging her. She begins her argument before Angelo, [00:26:00] um, And she sees that she’s beginning to make headway with him, that he’s, you know, he’s sniffing and not listening, but he begins to sort of lean in and listen to her more, because she’s speaking from her heart, she’s pleading for mercy, and she’s a nun, or about to be a nun, she’s not yet dressed as one, she just has her head shaved, and she’s speaking quite simply, um, but she, she senses in Angelo a hesitation, um, About his, his, his extreme stand, which is a death penalty for like having sex.

Okay, that’s what’s going on in Vienna at this moment. And she pleads with him as a judge as a person in a position of power. And she says. Because authority, though it err like others, hath yet a kind of medicine in itself that skins the vice over the top. She says, okay, authority is as fallible as anyone else, but because authority carries the responsibility of [00:27:00] rendering good judgment, um, there’s, there’s always There’s always an ambivalence underneath, um, that, that, that, that is there.

And so she says to him, go to your bosom, knock there and ask your heart what it doth know. That’s like my brother’s fault. All right, if it confesses a natural guiltiness such as his, let it not sound a thought upon your tongue against my brother’s life. So she says, go to your bosom, knock there, ask your heart, is there anything that it can relate to about Claudio’s experience?

Have you ever loved a woman? Um, have, have, have you ever wanted to make love to a woman? Have, have you been tempted in that way? Um, and if, if your heart says yes. I have felt that. Then, then stay your hand. Don’t, don’t put him to death. Be, be a human being and show some compassion. And [00:28:00] Angelo in an aside, which is basically an under the breath direction in Shakespeare, Angelo says, when, when she, when he hears this from her, she speaks and tis such sense that my sense breeds with it.

Okay. And what he says is that she speaks, it makes sense, but his sense, meaning his. desire, his attraction has become sparked by her words. And he says to her very quickly, fare you well. Um, and, and, and, but Isabella can’t leave because her brother’s supposed to die the next morning. And so she says, uh, gentle, my Lord turned back, you know, and he says, I will bethink me, come again tomorrow, and she says, gentle my lord, hark, hark how I’ll bribe you, good my lord, turn back, hark how I will bribe you, my good lord, turn back, come back to me, and Angelo’s like, how?

Bride me and Isabella says I with such [00:29:00] gifts that heaven shall share with you Not with fond sickles of the tested gold or stones whose rate are either rich or poor as fancy values them And that’s fascinating because she just uh narrated in that image the scales I’m i’m going to bribe you with gifts from heaven, but not You know, tested gold gold was tested on on scales, the merit of the gold.

So I’m not going to bribe you with gold, which would be weighed its value on a scale or stones, precious jewels whose rates are either rich or poor, who are also determined valued on a scale as fancy values them. I’m not going to bribe you with this, Angelo. I’m going to bribe you with true prayers. that shall be up at heaven and enter the air, uh, sunrise.

Prayers from preserved souls, from fasting maids whose minds dedicate to nothing temporal. Okay, [00:30:00] so it’s basically, I’m going to bribe you with prayers of the saints. of fasting maids, um, who, who, who aren’t, uh, tempted by world vanity, which is, which is, I’m going to be a nun. So I’m going to speak to you about your soul and about our souls.

And Angela’s like, come to me tomorrow. And, and she’s like, what hour tomorrow? And Angela says, at any time before noon. Um, and Claudio was supposed to die at noon. And Isabella says, save your honor. So, so she’s like, I’m not going to beseech you with worldly goods. I’m going to beseech you with virtue, with sympathy, with compassion.

And this moves Angelo’s heart. Okay. Angelo, who’s been so hardened. Um, and Mars in Libra can get very hard that way. It can be very parochial, you know, strictly by the letter of the law that way. And so he, he, he begins to, to hear her please. Um, and, and so, uh, at the end, [00:31:00] she’s, she says, what hour tomorrow shall I return?

He says at any time before noon. And she says, save your honor. And she’s very happy because anytime before noon, uh, means that she’s She’s got another chance to talk to him before Angelo’s put to death. And this is a plus thing. This is a good thing. This is not, this is not the exercise in futility it had begun as she’s, she’s made her way with him.

And she says, save your honor. Which is a way of saying goodbye, save your honor. And she exits and the words, save your honor. Angelo, after a pause says from the. even from thy virtue. So here she has said, save thy honor from thee, Angelo says, and even from thy virtue. What’s this?

What’s this? You know, he, he asks because, um, the experience with her has left him, uh, feeling feelings. Okay. Uh, so he says, what’s this? What’s this? Is this her fault [00:32:00] or mine? The tempter or the tempted? Who sins most? Not she. Nor does she tempt, but it is I, That lying by the violet in the sun, Do as the carrion does, not as the flower, Corrupt with virtuous season.

He’s been moved by her, by her pleas, His heart has not been moved to a merciful way, His heart has been moved to a lustful. And so he says, uh, you know, she’s not the one who’s tempting, but my heart is tempted. Um, I’m not the violet in the sun perfumed and lovely, but what I’m feeling is the carrion, the stench that corrupts, uh, the virtuous season, the virtuous air, the virtuous aroma of a flower.

Can it be, he asks himself, that modesty may more [00:33:00] betray our sense than woman’s lightness, meaning woman’s seductions. Okay, can it be that modesty may more betray our sense, our desire, than woman’s lightness? Having waste ground enough, shall we desire to raise the sanctuary and pitch our evils there? Oh, fie, fie, fie, what dost thou?

Or what? Art thou, Angelo, dost thou desire her foully for those things that make her good? So he’s like, what he realizes that instead of inspiring mercy and compassion, she’s inspired lust and that he wants her. And so, um, she returns the following day, you know, expecting a more, uh, receptive audience to her pleas for her brother’s life.

And what she gets instead is a deal. a Faustian deal, um, which is very much in keeping with [00:34:00] Pluto, okay? And so this is the Mars Pluto square. That Angelo, who on the outside is supposed to be this righteous, pure, virtuous man, actually carries a Pluto, or dark side in his breast, that, you know, where people felt he was too parochial in his law, you know, the law book says penalty of death for anyone who sleeps around, okay?

And they’re like, come on, you know, can you ease up? He now is Feeling that feeling of lust, which is running rampant throughout all of Vienna. And he’s a stranger to it. He doesn’t understand what that feeling is. Um, but he’s not innocent. She comes back to plead her brother’s case. And in that scene, which is a wonderful scene, um, he basically presents her with a deal.

And that deal is you sleep with me and I will spare your brother’s life. Which is an extraordinary thing in Shakespeare, you know, and, and this is [00:35:00] why the play was banned, uh, for as many, uh, years as it was. He says to her, you sleep with me, you let me make love to you, and I will spare your brothers. And she is horrified, as you can imagine.

I mean, she’s supposed to be taking nuns vows. She, her whole point was to leave the world of marriage, the market of, uh, uh, uh, the world of love and marriage, and become a celibate and, and serve God’s will, um, uh, in, in a street ministry. It’s not to be an object of desire. And what’s fascinating about this, Is that Venus is the planet of attraction.

Venus is the planet that inspires desire in the heart. You know, a lot of times, uh, you know, astrologers will work with this Mars, Venus equation. Now Venus is completely connected to sex and sexuality and to love that, that [00:36:00] entire spectrum. And so Venus’s, uh, uh, Venus’s attribute is to inspire. like, you know, uh, Venus is like, likes, like.

And so Venus in your chart will describe who’s being attracted to you in your life. It is the power of attraction, whether we are aware of that attraction or not. And in Angelo’s case, the power of Isabella’s attraction is in her virtue. You know, her chasteness, this is how he sees himself, you know, and she is that, and he’s realizing with his feelings of lust that he is not, and so he wants her, and he wants to possess her, and so will you trade in your body for your brother’s life?

You know, so in a panic and, uh, uh, uh, in a panic, Isabella returns to Claudio, her brother, and, and she tells him of what’s going on and that she’s full of, of, of, of, of, [00:37:00] of tribulation. I mean, there’s guilt. Um, there’s horror, uh, guilt because she, you know, without meaning to let someone on and, and, and so she’s blaming herself.

Um, there’s horror because of what he proposes. There’s guilt because she doesn’t want to do that. Um, and, and so she, she turns to her brother, and her brother responds immediately with like, I forbid it, do not do this, you know, do not do this for me, this is, this is ridiculous, Isabella. Um, and, and, and, and she’s like, you know, she breathes a sigh of relief and he says, If I must die, I will encounter darkness as a bride and hug it in mine arms.

And Isabella is just, There spake my brother, she says. There my father’s grave did utter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die. Thou art too noble to conserve a life in base appliances. So in other words, it’s like, Yes, um, you’re agreeing to die, and you’re [00:38:00] too noble a life to let me do this for you. And what’s going on here?

And it’s very… genius of Shakespeare. Many of the scenes in Measure for Measure are predicaments and dilemmas. But what also goes on in certain scenes is one character is being put in a dish, opposite another character being put in an opposite dish, okay? And they are being weighed, okay? And, and this is a scene which is very much explicitly this.

She comes to Claudio saying, you know, uh, shall I do this, you know? And he’s like, no, no, do not do this. And, and she, and she says, you know, you’re so noble, you speak like our father would speak, um, and you are too noble to conserve a life in base appliances. And in other words, you’re too noble to let me do this.

And Claudio’s like, oh, it cannot be. And Isabella. says, were it but my life, Claudio, I’d throw it [00:39:00] down for your deliverance as frankly as a pin. You know, a pin is a reference to a hairpin. Like I, if it were my life, I would throw it down to the ground like a, like a hairpin. It wouldn’t be, I wouldn’t even think twice if I were being asked to give my life for you.

And Claudio is like, thanks, my thanks, dear Isabel. And Isabella says, well, be ready, Claudio, for your death. Tomorrow, because that death sentence is still there and Claudio says, death, death is a fearful thing. And Isabella says, And shamed, and a shamed life is hateful, you know, death is a fearful thing, but my sleeping with him when I’m, uh, supposed to be, I would be shamed and that would be hateful, so, so there’s, there’s an equality here, we, we understand each other, we’re, we’re equal here in the balance, uh, of our predicaments, and then Claudia says, I, I, Isabella, to die, [00:40:00] And go we know not where, to lie in cold obstruction, and to rot, this sensible warm motion to become a kneaded clod, and the delighted spirit?

To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside in thick ribbed ice. He’s just describing different areas of hell here. To be imprisoned in the viewless winds, and blown with restless violence round about the pendant world. And Isabella, alas. Alas, Claudio. Sweet sister, let me live! What sin you do to save a brother’s life?

Nature dispenses with the deed so far that it becomes a virtue. Okay, so in this moment where they’re commiserating, she’s like, You’ve saved me from a shameful life. And he’s like, Yes, yes, I’ll embrace death. All of a sudden, he’s like, sweet sister, let me live. [00:41:00] What sin you do to save a brother’s life, i. e.

what sin, lying with another man, having sex with another man, nature dispenses with the deed so far that it becomes a virtue. So what he’s saying is like, it’s not bad if you’re doing it to save my life. In fact, it would be seen as a virtue. And so Isabella takes a moment and looks at her brother in shock, and she says, Oh, you beast!

Oh, faithless coward! Dishonest wretch! Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice? Will th be made a man out of my vice will thou be made a man out of my fall. Okay. Isn’t it not a kind of incest to take life from thy own sisters shame. You know, is that like a form of incest that, I mean, she’s really letting him have it [00:42:00] here and he is like, nay, nay.

Hear me, Isabella? And she’s like, oh, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5. She’s not hearing any of it. Thy sin’s not accidental, Claudio, but a trade. And that’s what she hits him with. You know, you’re asking me to give up my virtue. I’m about to become a nun, to sleep with this tyrant, to save your life. And then you will become more manly, more noble, more, more saved by that.

You know, what you’re asking here is not accidental. It’s a trade. And so there’s a silence. And at that moment, the Duke enters, but not as the Duke, he’s dressed as an abbot, and he’s like, you know, he separates them, he’s overheard their conversation, he asks Claudio to retire for a bit, and he sits with Isabella, and he helps her calm her fears.

And this is interesting, uh, because the Duke is the person who could stop all of this, [00:43:00] but he is disguised as an abbot, and Isabella, entering a convent, is going to treat him as someone you can confess to. She’s going to treat him as someone you can tell everything that’s going on in your heart and soul to, you know, and that’s what she does.

Um, and she confides all of these things to him, um, because he’s an abbot, or that’s at least how he appears. Um, during this period of time, uh, the duke, dressed as an abbot, um, tells her the story of Mariana. Mariana, which no one knows, was actually betrothed to Angelo years ago, and her brother was a famous knight, and he was coming back from somewhere on a ship with Mariana’s dowry, which was a very wealthy dowry, um, you know, to, and she was betrothed to Angelo, uh, who is this very, you know, prickly, you know, stern judge, you know, this, this, this deputy of the duke’s [00:44:00] ruling over Vienna, who’s given death sentence to anyone who has sex and gets a woman pregnant, Her brother was returning with a dowry and a ship.

The ship was wrecked at sea and it sank. So she was left without a dowry. And Angelo promptly broke off the engagement. Okay, he left her high and dry. Metaphorically and literally. Um, and so she’s always loved him, but he refused to have anything to do with her because there was no dowry. And you know, that’s either a testament to Angelo’s heartlessness or maybe he was so heartbroken, but actually that’s being a little bit, no, he’s pretty heartless.

So um, what the Duke does is that he arranges for Isabella to go meet with Mariana, who is unwed. And what they’re going to do is that, um, that night, uh, Angelo says, uh, Isabella has to come to him and, and, and, and they’re going to make love. The Duke instructs [00:45:00] Isabella to go back and say, I will go and make love to you, but I’m so ashamed of this that it will be done at dark in this garden.

And, you will not look upon my face. I will give myself to you physically, but that is it. And Angelo agrees. So what’s going to happen? As you can tell is Mariana is going to be traded in for Isabella and Mariana is going to be the one who, sleeps with, um, uh, uh, uh, Angelo.

Uh, she’s best, she’s basically going to consummate, um, their, their, their bond, uh, because he is still pledged to her, um, even though he broke off the engagement, um, but they haven’t formally married. So it’s really kind of the. opposite of Claudio having gotten Juliet, uh, pregnant. Here Angelo has, you know, not gone through with a marriage, uh, because she’s got no money and so he’s not interested in her.

And so, um, Mariana takes Isabella’s place and she makes love to Angelo that night without Angelo knowing it. All right, so [00:46:00] that’s, that’s the ruse. Um, and, and, and it’s pulled off, um, successfully but without Isabella really knowing the specifics, uh, because her brother is still sentenced to die, and actually, um, it’s reported to her that Claudio did die, uh, that Angelo didn’t keep his word, uh, because he didn’t.

He had no intent of keeping his word. Um, and so, uh, Isabella, uh, wakes the following day to find that her brother has died, and, and that she feels even more miserable about, about all of this. In Shakespearean ploys or things like that, uh, Claudio has been switched out for someone else and he’s not really dead and all these sorts of things.

Why does it matter? It matters because of the big reveal, which comes at the end of the play. And the reveal is more than just a reveal. Um, At the end of the play, basically, the Duke calls Angelo forward and he’s praising Angelo for how, uh, how well he’s governed, uh [00:47:00] Vienna in his absence, and that’s actually not true.

Vienna has been awful. Um, he has, uh, the Abbot in his disguise as the Abbot, he coached Isabella, you know, that I will say horrible things to you, but Pursue your argument, but know that underneath, I’m your ally. And she’s like, okay. And so as the Duke, he, he, um, shames Isabella, you know, um, you know, uh, being complicit to her brother’s death and says all these awful things about Isabella and she’s like heartbroken and things like this.

Um, but it’s at this one pivotal moment. Where, um, the Abbot, who’s been known to different people, like hearing their confessions and things like that, reveals, he reveals himself as the Abbot, okay, and it’s the Duke, and what’s revealed is that he has been eavesdropping or spying on Angelo all along, and he finds Angelo’s, uh, behavior abhorrent, and he’s now going to set things right.

Okay, so where everyone has been sort [00:48:00] of like, you know, has been in the balance, they’ve been judged by this Duke, this Pluto figure, he’s now going to set everything right, and it’s going to be set right in the style of a comedy. Uh, just so that you know, the difference between a Shakespearean tragedy and a Shakespearean comedy is that in a tragedy everybody dies, and in a comedy everyone gets married, and so he marries everyone.

And so, uh, he announces that, um, Claudio, who has not died, um, is there, and he’s like, hey Isabella, and she’s like, you, you’ve lived, you know, and so, um, he, he’s, he’s not died, and so he’s going to marry Juliet, who always wanted to marry him, and, and they’re going to be happily ever after, that Angelo is being forced to to marry Mariana, uh, to keep his word.

Uh, that’s the only way that he’s going to escape, punishment. And so, and so he does, keep his word. Um, and then, uh, there is going to be a last. [00:49:00] uh, betrothal. And, uh, that last betrothal is the Duke announcing that, uh, he is inviting Isabella to marry him. Okay. And that, um, you know, he, he, he fixes this marriage.

He fixes that marriage. And he says, Isabella, you’re going to marry me. I’ve seen you go through your, your trials, and, and, and your, uh, your, your, uh, uh, doubts, and I’ve seen you maintain your virtue through all of it, you were never tempted, you never gave up on, on faith, and, and now you’ve got me as your wonderful reward, and I’m going to marry you.

Um, and so, uh, everyone’s married, and she hears this, and Shakespeare ends the play with, um, with probably the most, memorable speech that has ever taken place in a Shakespeare play, and that speech is silence. There is no speech. [00:50:00] The Duke announces that he’s marrying Isabella, and she,

there’s nothing to say. And that’s the way that the play ends. And it’s an extraordinary ending. It’s an extraordinary ending because, you know, Angelo being set up in a position of authority and power faces his Pluto. Which is, you know, he was getting off on the power. Okay. And, and he doesn’t really have much of a conscience.

And the conscience that was moved was a very dark conscience. It was a lustful conscience. It basically wanted to rape a nun. Right? Okay, that’s basically what’s going on here. Um, and so that’s, that’s what was moved here. So here we have a society, you know, which is out of control and licentious and wants to outlaw prostitution and all these sorts of things.

You might hear some Parallels in modern day, you know, like, like, like sexuality will be curtailed, [00:51:00] um, that, that babies born out of wedlock is criminal, um, you know, being forced into marriages or being forced into arrangements by a government against. their will. This is particularly for women, but it applies to the men and women here.

Okay. Um, and so Angela was basically the person who did this and what was revealed was his Plutonian side. Um, and then we have the Duke who takes on a Plutonian manner of lurking and listening and, and really having everyone reveal their secrets to him. And then he comes in as the at the end. And he takes what are these sort of delicate balances, you know, that extraordinary scene where Isabella says to her brother, you know, of course, you’ll be noble.

And the brother’s like, well, actually, could you just sleep with him? And she’s like, how could you do that? You know, I mean, both Isabella and her brother are in the balance there. Her [00:52:00] brother falters. But Isabella is a bit at fault too because her virtue is such that it’s going to demand her brother’s life, you know, so that quandary that dilemma that Shakespeare introduces between brother and sister is a fantastic it’s it’s the heart of this play, you know, and it’s the most revealing of the play that people for their stances also have another side that’s not as Um, but in the end, the Duke is like, okay, um, you know, I’m, I’m making everything fine again, but in his making everything fine again, these are all enforced.

These are enforced marriages, you know, and people aren’t really sort of properly punished. And the person who actually, um, does, uh, get punished, believe it or not, is, is, uh, Isabella. She was prepared to become a nun. She was turning her back on [00:53:00] all of this and wanted nothing to do with sex and sexuality and love.

And, and the Duke is famously unmarried. Um, and, and there’s a lot of rumors around that. Is he unmarried because he’s disinterested with women or is he unmarried because he’s Uh, you know, licentious, you know, that there’s all these rumors about him. And so he announces that he will marry, uh, Isabella at the end.

Um, and it brings to mind that opening phrase that I had for this week’s episode, which is some rise by sin. Okay. And some by virtue fall and Isabella as a heroine, you know, someone who has renounced this world, who’s, who’s on the verge of taking the vows of the poor order of Claire’s. is basically shanghaied and forced into a marriage with a duke, you know, who’s impressed by her virtue, but we’ve seen how her virtue, let’s call it virtue.

Let’s call it strength as a woman [00:54:00] has brought out this predatory side to not only Angelo, but it could be also argued to the duke as well, you know? So the play really asks a lot of questions. Um, there’s a famous phrase in it. Haste still pays haste, and leisure always answers leisure. Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.

And what that means is that things done in haste… You, you draw hasty consequences and leisure, you know, oh, I want a simple nice thing answers leisure. Oh, yes. Let’s go ahead and do that. You know, um, but when like doth quit like, you know, when the things that were pleasurable in haste, it’s done quickly.

And I’m happy with this or leisure. It’s done leisurely and happy. Well, when like doth quit like. You know, when it is no longer like, if you did something hastily, you’re like, oh, maybe [00:55:00] I was too hasty. Or if you were like, leisurely, oh, I was too lazy about that, I should have been more, um, I should have been more guarded.

You know, when, like doth quit like, when that first enamor, that first rose of love has faded, measure is still for measure. In other words, there are still things that bond you to someone else. You know, and a consequence can be, um, a punishment. Or a consequence could be a reward. But sometimes, and this is the question that Shakespeare is playing with, sometimes what’s supposed to be the reward is actually concealing something dark and base.

It’s actually punitive, or it’s concealing something that’s dark and based. So It puts me in mind of a delicate balance, which is really what Libra stands for. And a delicate balance, as we all know, is where it’s, it’s a state where [00:56:00] things are of equal weight. They’re of equal value, but they could go sour at any moment.

You know, um, the play ends in a, in a comedy. But there’s a sour undertone. You know, it’s very clear that the, that the heroine of the play has been shanghaied and forced into a marriage and forced into a sexual relationship that she did not choose. And believe it or not, a renaissance audience would have recognized that.

So that’s not just a 21st century reading of the play. This is something that Shakespeare absolutely meant. Um, and, and it’s interesting because Measure for Measure is written right after the death of Elizabeth I, who was his patron. famously the Virgin Queen. And the person who took over for her was James, as in King James, as in the King James Bible.

And James was known for having some very rigid laws. [00:57:00] So, and King James actually commissioned this play, and this play was performed for him.


So what’s the takeaway? You know, we can say things like, well, absolute power corrupts absolutely, or anytime you’re dealing with Pluto, you’re dealing with something nefarious.

But I ask you to look deeper, you know, the thing that repeats over and over in this play is, is there no clemency, is there no mercy, is there no sympathy, and how the heart itself can hold things that are very dark. The things that are also carried in this play is the force of authority. And that, um, things are done in an authority’s name, in the name of God, you know, and how moral are these things, you know, the play opens famously with, you know, a rash of STDs and syphilis and babies born out of wedlock, but the moral stance, you know, at one [00:58:00] point in the play, a character jokes it.

you know, in order to escape being put to death for lovemaking, I’m going to learn from an executioner how to put people to death. And think about that. In order to escape being put to death for lovemaking, I’m going to learn from an executioner how to put people to death. You know, that Answer that cloaked in a morality.

Is it truly moral or is it based on the desires of people who are in positions of authority who can get away with it? You know, and these are the great questions that Shakespeare, uh, asks in his play Measure for Measure. And these are the great questions where, where you exercise authority in your life, um, or, or where you plead for someone in your life.

You know, are there deals that [00:59:00] you make that are too compromising? Are there deals that you should make, um, because that would be the right or sensitive or sympathetic thing to do? Astrology, like a Shakespearean play, leaves us with dilemmas, but dilemmas are like a delicate balance. They hold in the two plates the opposite sides, and when we force that delicate balance into a judgment, we can upset it, and we can destroy everything that had come before.


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