As the incoming square between Jupiter in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces continues to tighten up (perfecting for the first of three rounds on January 13, 2019), there certainly is merit in discussing the above quotation because this alignment very much affects spiritual matters…among other things. The sign of Sagittarius and the planet Jupiter are associated with organized religion; Pisces and Neptune spirituality as well as “substances” – you can see, then, how the above quote resonates with the energy of this astrological alignment.
In dissecting the above statement it’s important to state right out of the gate that it’s actually paraphrase of a longer quotation by philosopher Carl Marx; one that has been oversimplified and lacks context. On its face, this would seem a rather critical statement about religion as a whole in comparing its effect to that of a drug. Now this perspective can be true from the POV that belief – and specifically when we start getting into the territory of delusional belief – can cause us to suspend judgment and impair our critical thinking. This may be true of religion, but it may also be true in the political arena as well (which is also and not coincidentally associated with Jupiter and Sagittarius); just look as the vast and apparently endless pitchers of toxic Kool-Aid being swilled in mainstream politics today. *glares directly at Climate Change Deniers et al*
In such cases we often surrender our (good) judgement and substitute it for someone else’s (a religious leader, a political pundit, etc.) because hey; that’s what true faith’s all about, right??? But what happens when the person to whom we’ve entrusted our faith has a cockeyed moral compass; isn’t that how cults become *a thing*??? When religion (or for that matter, politics) would dull our senses and have us have us turn a blind eye to things like moral incongruity, it is indeed A Problem; a huge one, much like an opiate addiction. And this is most definitely something I expect to see a lot of in 2019 while Jupiter in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces dominates the astrological scene.
That said, the full statement by Marx via his “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” is as follows and it’s much richer than the oft-quoted soundbite:
“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness”.
In reading the full context, one gains the impression that Marx is at least somewhat sympathetic to people’s attachment to religion. He appears to look at it as a symptom; much in the same way an opiate temporarily relieves suffering but doesn’t make the underlying root cause of the pain suddenly vanish. He appears to view it as medication, but also emphasizes that in his view for people to be truly happy it’s important to ditch the crutch of religion. Additionally is important to note that religion can also have the capacity become an instrument of oppression when it’s used to induce submission to an external authority; being comatose with dogma certainly makes people much easier to control when one’s intentions aren’t honorable.
Setting Marx aside for a moment, I do believe anything we use as a crutch only hobbles us from achieving our true authentic potential as human beings and there is merit to learning to stand on our feet without the aid of whatever that happens to be. That said, I’m not necessarily comfortable classifying religion as a crutch – this in my view amounts to painting with too broad a brush. I feel that – with the context of a proper anchor/safe container – faith can play a major role in our soul’s development and do not wish to bash organized religion because there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to spirituality – Different Strokes for Different Folks; Live and Let Live & all of that jazz. But as this square hits, there is most definitely is merit in looking critically at how our beliefs are or aren’t supporting us and certainly questioning them for the sake of ensuring they’re not doing us more harm than good. The Neptune/Pisces influence distorts things, and when we apply this to Conservative, religious Jupiter/Sagittarius we have to be particularly careful regarding anything around which we might tend to be evangelical. While this is true more broadly as well, do understand as these two planets square off that religion and politics in particular can indeed be super potent drugs when we go overboard.