As this year draws to an end, there are many of us who feel as powerless as a serfs in a feudal kingdom. Mother Earth is ravaged and bleeding. Her climate is changing. Democracy is hollow talk and the strutting Emperor wears no clothes. We can believe that we are helpless, hopeless, hand all our power to forces and systems outside ourselves, or we can harness our courage, step out of the box. We can send love not hate to those in the brazen Towers of power.
Real presence is what’s needed at this time in our collective evolution. The Jupiter/Pluto square accentuates those areas in our lives were we still cling to fixed and dogmatic beliefs, where our righteous “truths” merely mimic the righteous “truths” of someone else (November 2016, April and July 2017) . We may have to to be counter-intuitive: the “little boxes made of ticky tacky that all look just the same” may not be comfortable any longer. In her superbly moving tribute to Leonard Cohen, Maria Popova quotes him saying, “Most of us from the middle-class, we have a kind of old, 19th-century idea of what democracy is, which is, more or less, to over-simplify it, that the masses are going to love Shakespeare and Beethoven. That’s more or less our idea of what democracy is. But that ain’t it. It’s going to come up in unexpected ways from the stuff that we think [is] junk: the people we think are junk, the ideas we think are junk, the television we think is junk.”
Western culture celebrates the individual, the original. Yet the tribal mind craves conformity. Now as we face a regressive pull into the undertow of polarisation and fascism we must dare to think out of the box. Venus in pragmatic Capricorn sparkles against the blushing breast of the western skyline this month. Her consort, Mars moves through Aquarius, a sign associated with detachment, logic, ideals and fairness. What these two planets symbolise are our inner values and our drive to be real in the most private, deeply personal places in our lives. Being real might mean leaving a relationship, a guru, or a work situation that tames or amputates our joy. For some it might mean questioning the value of submitting to a spiritual tradition that breaks the ego of the body. For some it’s reconnecting to that deep well of our creative life, surrendering to our authentic selves with a sense of ease and belonging. For us all it means remembering that for all our apparent differences, our human hearts look just the same.
Stepping out of our little boxes, becoming real, takes a life time and it certainly requires valour. May Sarton writes, in her beautiful poem, Now I Become Myself, “it’s taken time, many years and places; I have been dissolved and shaken, worn other people’s faces…”
In Margery Williams’ beautiful story, The Velveteen Rabbit, Skin Horse describes the long and often painful process of becoming Real:
“Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY Loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit? ”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Most of us define our identity, our authentic selves by the beliefs and opinions of others. Until we can’t pretend any longer. Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book that inspired us all to Eat, Pray, Love, writes, “Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real. In that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya. And I have no more time for denying that truth.”
The spirit of our times is the spirit of our collective thoughts and intentions. Our private thoughts mingle with the private thoughts of myriad human beings and affect the unwavering advance of world events. The immeasurable power of our blessings and prayers directed towards a situation or an outcome can transform people and circumstances if animated with Love.
Writes Elizabeth Gilbert, “at such times, I can always steady my life once more by returning to my soul. I ask it, “And what is it that you want, dear one?”
“The answer is always the same: “More wonder, please.”
Tom Odell – Can’t Pretend
Little Boxes words and music by Malvina Reynolds 1962