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Relationships

Leo 987

Great Heart—Sun in Leo—July 23rd—August 23rd

The world is full of strange behaviour
Every man has to be his own saviour
I know I can make it on my own if I try
But I’m searching for a great heart to stand me by
Underneath the African sky—Johnny Clegg and Savuka

Icons and legends have a way of making us look up. We feel taller, more courageous, as the arc of their greatness sweeps through our ordinary lives. As their giant leaps surmount the walls and ancient fears that divide us, as we appreciate their legacy, as we feel the heat of their great hearts, they remind us what is wonderful about the world.Buzz Aldrin on the Moon photo courtesy of NASA

It’s been fifty years since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made their triumphant return from the Moon, as the Sun entered the sign of Leo. That giant step for mankind may not have felt like any step at all for the millions of people living in poverty in the 1960s, for those who were poisoned by Agent Orange, or immolated by the flames of war. But it was a momentous moment of wonderment and joy when Neil Armstrong a Leo Sun, spoke his famous words as he alighted from the Eagle and left his foot prints on ancient Lunar dust.

Guardian columnist, Suzanne Moore writes, “I choose to talk about this now in a world that stares inwards, full of smaller leaders with smaller ideas who think only of walls and fences and barriers, who police the parameters of our imagination and abilities. I say look up at the night sky, just as I did as a little girl. At that same moon. And wonder.”

 

South African singer and musician Johnny Clegg on the set of the film 'The Power of One', 1992. He worked on the film's soundtrack. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)

This week, as the former President Zuma evades and distorts and can’t remember, South African singer and songwriter, Johnny Clegg died in his Johannesburg home. As appreciations and accolades stream in for this Lancashire-born White Zulu who rooted so deeply in the russet soils of Africa, sinister shadows stretch beneath the doors of government and across the millions of shacks that spread across landfills and wetlands and cling to hillsides. We’re carried on the bar of a song to a South Africa that is irrevocably changed, yet fundamentally the same.

Old aking crownstrologers associate Leo with rulers and kings. Like the mythical Fisher King, our leaders are wounded. All across their ailing kingdoms, Poverty presses its runny nose against the high walls of unexamined rhetoric that divides us by the colour of our skins, the money we don’t have, the names we can’t be bothered to pronounce. It’s those giant steps that make us wonder. It’s that sense of destiny that compels us to act with courage. Perhaps, in spite of what is going on around us, we may feel that heroic impulse, that surge of magnanimity, the expansion of generosity that comes from an open heart.

Where Leo resides in our birth chart, we need to feel that we matter, that we are heroic, even though we doubt and second-guess ourselves. This month we must express ourselves with big, bold brush strokes. We must be brave enough to express our truth, even when there’s no recognition or applause. We may dare to be spontaneous, risk telling a joke, to clearly say, “I love you!”  The Sun warms and glows in Leo, symbolising our human capacity for joy, but also illuminating the challenges we must face on the Yellow Brick Road.Leo 974

As the Sun moves through Leo, we must ready ourselves for opportunities to hone our creativity, sharpen our senses, welcome the laughter that loosens and revitalises our hearts that may feel weighted by the woes of the world, abandoned by our leaders who wear tarnished crowns.

Catching our thoughts and our words in his nets, containing our grief, our wonder, Mercury goes direct at 23 degrees Cancer on August 1st, the day of the New Moon in Leo. Look for the rainbow after the rain, allow the words of a poem to settle lightly on your heart, close your eyes and breathe in the sweet scent of a rose. Jupiter, that planet associated with abundance and good “luck”, changes direction, moving direct at 14º Sagittarius on August 11th. Maverick Uranus joins the contingent of planets—Pluto, Saturn and Neptune—in Retrograde on August 12th, our prompt to be spontaneous, to dare to risk those sliding door moments, to fall in love all over again, to relish those things that are strange, offbeat and unconventional. Planets in Retrograde don’t conform to the norm.

As we relish the complexity and difficulty of our humanness—as we actively seek to find something to smile about, or to play in a way that makes us feel happy, as we allow our hearts to swell with joy, we will have arrived at our destination, we’ll feel it, we’ll know it. As Alice Walker says in The Color Purple “… in wondering ’bout the big things and asking ’bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”

Moon landing boot printThe chart for the Moon landing on July 21st, 1969 at 3.56am GMT depicts the spirit of the Great Heart. Mars blazes a trail into future possibilities in Sagittarius. Uranus and Jupiter are conjunct in Libra; the Sun and Mercury are conjunct in Cancer a sign that is ruled by the Moon. Pluto in Virgo conjoins the South Node.  As we wonder about that one small step for a man, that giant leap for mankind, we embrace the essence of the Leo. And we feel the greatness stirring in our hearts.

For more regular astrology updates, please connect on Facebook, or get in touch and I will send you these privately. For astrology readings, here’s the email— I’d love to hear from you: ingrid@trueheartwork.com

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Cancer feature pic

Tender Heart—Sun in Cancer—June 21st to July 23rd

Cancer feature pic 9As summer thrusts sunlight into the receptive hollows of the earth here in the north, and the benediction of winter silence presses into the cold soils of the south, the Sun moves into the sign of Cancer on June 21st and pauses at the threshold in the year. Margaret Atwood reminds us, “This is the Solstice, the still point of the Sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future. The place of caught breath.”

Our Earth is girdled with contrast, bejewelled with the shimmer of light and the stillness of darkness. Spiritual teacher Gary Zukav describes the Solstices as “the opposition of light and dark, expansion and contraction, that characterize our experiences in the Earth school so that we can recognize our options as we move through our lives.”

At the solstice, and right now in our human his-story, we stand at a threshold, and at a time of unlocking, which promises the release of pent-up energy, the slaying of old dragons, shedding of old skins. Between June 21st to July 23rd, against the backdrop of the widening gyre, the Sun rides his chariot through Cancer, that segment of the zodiac associated with home, with family, with safety and security. We have a choice to expand, or contract against the forces of change that swirl around us all.

Like all astrological archetypes, Cancer is nuanced. The little crab knows about defensive armouring and threatening claws. As the shards of life piece our tender hearts, embed themselves in our sweet spots, we may be acutely aware of our vulnerability.

This ancient dweller of this liminal, in-between place where the great oceans meet the shoreline is an adaptable scavenger, a brave opponent.  We all have Cancer somewhere in our birth chart. Cancer is the place of our tender heart. This is where we close the curtains, turn down the lights. This where we long for the comfort of soul food, or the ache for the soft bosom of an all-loving Mother. This is the place we protect with claws and pincers that flay against life when it presses in too hard.

cancer mother

We may feel uneasy, exposed, as an unyielding triumvirate in Capricorn—Pluto, Saturn and the South Node—threaten to break the fragile thread of security we have cast into the world. As silver-back politicians jostle for power, as bellicose tweets ricochet across our future lives, and invisible hackers prey on our most intimate and tender communication, hijacking our accounts, we may be feeling a kind of sea-sick. Tension mounts in Iran. Stock markets shiver. An epidemic of homelessness is a stark reminder of the widening chasm between the rich and the poor. Cancer is associated our human capacity to heal, to nourish and nurture. Cancer is associated with the stomach. As those who wield power avoid answering inconvenient truths about the climate crisis and the increased use of pesticides, we may be feeling a little queasy as we realise that we are eating a credit card sized portion of micro-plastics each week.

The world may feel volatile as Mars in Cancer joins forces with Mercury and the North Node to oppose the Capricorn planets (Saturn, South Node and Pluto—June 12th —June 23rd) rocking our cradle of comfort.

Cancer feature pic 3In contrast to the earthy Capricorn knot, all though this year a tidal surge of a very different kind of energy is swirling across the skies as Jupiter, that planet associated with big dreams, grandiosity and faith meets Neptune where we yearn to escape, be rescued from the burnt out ends of our human existence, where we long for romance, ecstatic spiritual experience; yet in real life we do the laundry, walk the dog and come home to relationships that, as John Welwood suggests in his book, Journey of the Heart, “will inevitably penetrate our usual shield of defenses, exposing our most tender and sensitive spots, and leaving us feeling vulnerable—literally, able to be wounded.”

We may have been consciously or deeply unconsciously threading strands of this Neptune/Jupiter square through our lives since January this year. (January—14° Sagittarius/14° Pisces; June—19° Sagittarius/Pisces; September 17° —Sagittarius/Pisces) This waning square is often accompanied by the deep bruise of loss, a sinkhole of disappointment, or the dissolution of a high-flying dream. Neptune yearns for the ineffable, the ideal. This aspect brought Theresa May’s career as leader of the Tory Party to an end. It’s difficult to get things accomplished under this kind of energy. We may be undermined, duped, deluded. It’s the illusive green curtain behind which the Wizard of Oz directs the affairs of state and promises deliverance. For us all, there are opportunities to tumble into the ache of our heart, or to feel the brush of an angel’s wing as we soften in acceptance of the way things are. As Byron Katie, who has Jupiter Retrograde in Cancer, suggests, “When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.”

The ancient god  Dionysus stretches and yawns when we enter Neptune’s nebulous realm of music, dance and intoxication; as we enter the non-ordinary; as we engage with magic and mystics; as everything empties into One. Neptune is Retrograde from June 21st to November 27th. This is our invitation to find deeper meaning in a renewed sense of purpose. This is our invitation to take off those rose-coloured glasses. To see more clearly a larger vision. This is our invitation to feel compassion, as we “suffer with” and our hearts open wider.

Cancer feature pic 4Venus  makes a T-square to the Jupiter/Neptune square June 23rd – 24th to offer us the gift of soul-union with a lover, artistic inspiration, the ability to be selfless, to see the beauty growing out of the cracks in the pavements, the black delta of mould in the subways. It also can signify the tsunami of grief and loss at the ending of a relationship or the realisation that we have been unrealistic or too naïve concerning our finances or what we hold dear to our heart.

Mars changes sign from Cancer into Leo and the eclipse season begins on July 2nd with a total eclipse of the Sun. This eclipse is at 10° Cancer and is followed on July 16th by a by a partial lunar eclipse at 24° Capricorn (conjunct Pluto and opposing Mercury and Mars.) These are celestial power-points that drop into our consciousness and will re-calibrate national and global events.

Cancer 632Mercury turns Retrograde (4° Leo) on July 8th, stirring up the silt from the shadowy waters of the previous sign of Cancer. We may be prompted to be more introspective, to be mindful of just how we choose to wield our authority, how we bring forth our vision and creativity.  As we stand at the Still-Point of the year, may our path be gentle. May we learn to pause and appreciate the simple pleasures, the exquisite beauty, the Love that is all around us.

I post astrology updates on Facebook and offer private readings.  I’d love to hear from you—ingrid@trueheartwork.com

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gemini twins

He ain’t Heavy—Sun in Gemini—May 21st —June 21st

Gemini 98The road is long, with many of winding turns
That lead us to (who knows) where, who knows where?
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him—yeah
He ain’t heavy—he’s my brother—The Hollies

Maya Angelou once said, “I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.”

Working at it can be a Herculean labour that may erode our energy, gnaw at our resolution to untie the knots that keep us bound in conflict or rivalry. Yet, whether we’re twinned, a resourceful only child, a pioneering first born, a cossetted baby, or the lost child in a family too big or too poor to give nurture, we’re engaged with the mythic story of The Twins as the Sun moves into Gemini on May 21st.

Gemini is a metaphor for separation. Through Gemini we encounter the power of two, the conundrum of choice. Gemini is the kindred spirit whom we love with all our heart, or the bitter rival we hate with a hatred that curls like ivy around our broken heart.

Beneath the popular astrological descriptions of the Gemini as talkative, fun-loving and fickle, lies a story of loss and longing, a life-long search for something or someone from which we feel separated. A story that’s so often punctuated with long stretches of aloneness. A story that stumbles into the sinkhole misunderstanding. of A story that so often ends with nothing more left to say.

Siblings betray one another, they lie, and they steal, and they envy. Siblings love one another with a love that is different from the love we have for our parents.  Brenna Yovanoff writes so poignantly, “I wanted to tell her that I loved her, and not in the complicated way I loved our parents, but in a simple way I never had to think about. I loved her like breathing.”Gemini 2

Brothers and sisters have soared like bright stars in sport and entertainment, often scattering star dust as they crashed and burned, or staying bonded in public while enacting childhood rivalries in private—the Gallagher brothers of the band Oasis, the Hemingway sisters, the Everly Brothers, the Carpenters, the Bee Gees—enacted these painful rivalries. Their  birth charts depict the complicated bonds that kept them frustratingly tied, longing to be free. “Some things, however are true no matter how hard you might try to block them out, and a lie is always a lie, no matter how prettily told. Some doors, once they’re opened, can never be closed again, just as some trust, once its been lost, can never be won back,”  writes Alice Hoffman.

As the Sun moves into Gemini on May 21st, a cazimi Mercury, also in Gemini, becomes supercharged at a quicksilver zero degrees. This is a signature for new beginnings, new connections, new choices that may become apparent after the New Gemini Moon on June 3rd.  If our Gemini planets are not weighed down by the earnestness of Saturn, dissolved by Neptune’s salty tears, overwhelmed by Pluto’s dark power, or transmitting an Uranian idea from the collective cloud, we’ll draw the energy of the Gemini archetype into our lungs, bloodstream and bones, feeling the energy of our environment, communicating through words and perhaps juggling our multiple interests with dexterity and lightness of being.Gemini 000000

Mercury in Gemini aids our ingenuity, eases communication, he also swoops into the stillness of our lives with messages, sounds, communications, that like wailing sirens, pierce our stillness, shatter our calm.

 

If Mercury in Gemini is the wind that shakes the barley. The Sun in Gemini is the Light and the Dark Twin. Brexit-backing Boris Johnson (Gemini Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars) has taken a political stance in direct opposition to that of his younger sister, journalist and television presenter, Rachel Johnson. She’s adamant Britain should remain in the EU and is quoted as saying she does not want to see Brexit  “rubbing out my children’s prospects and chances of living and travelling and working in Europe.”

Gemini 4Gemini is a Mercurial sign, as changeable as the wind, as restless as our minds that dart and dance, waking us from our much-needed sleep, calling us from our meditation. As we read, watch television, or flick through Instagram, as we crave more and more stimulation, more learning, more data gathering, we feast on the words, the ideas, of Gemini. In our obsession with social media, we gorge on gossip, we witness, we observe, and we choose. Spiritual teacher, Caroline Myss’ Gemini Moon conveys the archetype of the Storyteller, the Data Gatherer. She writes, “the challenge is for us to decide whether to make choices that enhance our spirit or drain our power.”

This year and next, Pluto (the Dark avatar that destroys, corrupts and exposes corruption), Saturn (structure, authority and tyranny), and the South Node (a regressive pull to the past, limiting beliefs that keep us stuck and stagnant in an outmoded place of apparent comfort) are in conjunction in Capricorn (big business and government; authority issues in our own lives). gemini 798

As the old order crumbles, may we stay centred, resolute and calm. May we sink softly into the silence of understanding, may we begin to re-write our story, gathering cherished memories of that little hand we held so tightly that first day at school. The sandcastles we built,  those holidays that stretched into the infinity of the bluest of summer skies. Gemini highlights our very first relationship between near-equals. Our brothers, our sisters, our twins. Kindred spirits that encircle us in that sweet spot of belonging. Those choices that enhance our spirit and nourish our hearts.

Let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.

William Shakespeare.

Gemini 54I post regularly on Facebook. I will gladly send you these posts featuring more regular astrological updates and the lunations if you prefer to direct your time and energy away from social media.

For private astrology readings please email ingrid@trueheartwork.com

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Come Together—Super Moon Eclipse and Sun in Aquarius

fd685bda04dde3d464021b933900043bA contagion of loneliness is sweeping across our planet, unbearable isolation that begets the neuroses of modern times—anxiety, depression, even dementia.

The competitive, self-aggrandising cult of the rugged Individual has become the dominant narrative of Western culture. Yet we are hard-wired for connection, for relationship. Brain imaging studies show that rejection and exclusion trigger the same part of the brain as physical pain. For many, our faith in systems of government and religion is lower than it has ever been. We may feel disorientated, hungover as we witness the boundless frenzy of self-aggrandisement and blindness to the very real ecological crisis that has already altered our world indelibly.  The life we have designed for ourselves is still modelled on competition and division. Survival of the fittest, the winner takes it all. What psychologists call “relativity awareness” insinuates itself into the innocence of social exchange, “where do you live? Where are your children at school? What do you do?”  

Yet evidence from neuroscience, biology, quantum physics and psychology suggests that community, not competition, is a basic human drive. Psychologist, Sue Johnson writes, “Being the ‘best you can be’ is really only possible when you are deeply connected to another. Splendid isolation is for planets, not people.”

ef94dc82d5cd0e8ac7b0cb6084c4a6e8George Monbiot, in his new book, “Out of the Wreckage”, points out that humans are unique, spectacularly unusual, when it comes our sensitivity to the needs of others. We have an innate altruism, an inborn sense of community. Neuroscience, evolutionary biology and psychology conclude that we have evolved to care, to cooperate with one another. “By the age of fourteen months, children begin to help each other, attempting to hand over objects another child cannot reach. By the time they are two, they start sharing some of the things they value. By the age of three, they start to protest against other people’s violation of moral norms… we are also, among mammals, with the possible exception of the naked mole rat, the supreme co-operators,” Monbiot writes. Even today, in a globalised, unimaginative world that offers a bland diet of uniformity, there are societies that conceive of the universe as a whole, that we are in relationship with all of life, and that everything, everyone is interconnected. Writes Lynne McTaggart in The Bond, Connecting Through the Space Between Us: “they have bought into another narrative, another world view of who we are, and why we’re here, than that espoused by our culture, and most particularly by our current science.”

The Sun’s passage through Aquarius begins on January 20th, illuminating our very human need for connection, for community, for co-operation. For another narrative. Our choice is to stay connected, to place our faith, our energy, in the inherent kindness and nobility of the human tribe.

64fee3d39270416dc3fe972307abf265Aquarius is represented by the water bearer, pouring life-giving water to moisten new ideals. For the next month, the Sun and Uranus are in mixed reception, which means that the archetypal energies of these two planets are working together in collaboration. The Sun symbolises our creative essence, our hero’s or heroine’s quest, and when this energy teams up with the energy of the planet Uranus, we feel the urge to change, to free ourselves from those things that no longer serve the evolution of the group and the individual.

On Monday, January 21st, the face of the Moon is shadowed by the earth. This Full Moon and total lunar eclipse completes the cycle that began at the New Moon on January 6th when the Moon was at 15° Capricorn. This Full Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse at 1° Leo, nudges so close to her sister Earth that her luminosity will seem more dazzling, her energy more powerful. Astrologer Richard Nolle is credited with the term, Supermoon which so beautifully describes this month’s lunar energy.  Eclipses are times of recalibration, symbolic power points that hold the potential to generate new developments in listless situations. The effects are felt most strongly on the day, but often within two weeks of the eclipse, so observe events as they unfold in our own lives and on the world stage between now and up to the New Moon on February 4th at 16° Aquarius.

Leo is aMoon in Leossociated with creative self-expression, with wholehearted passion and with autonomy. And the Moon is Queen in Leo, confidently wearing her crown as she opposes the Sun in Aquarius. Depending on where the eclipse falls in your own birth chart, this will be a culmination point in a developing situation, an illumination, or a time to get down on our knees and surrender your pride.

Aquarius reminds us of the vital nourishment offered by friendship and community. There’s another harmonic in play—Venus at 14° Sagittarius is square to Neptune in Pisces; Mars at 14° Aries is square to Saturn in Capricorn, emphasising the Neptune/Jupiter squarecontradictory energies, reflected by intense ego-conflicts, bitter confrontations, disappointments and breakdowns as the veil of illusion slips away, if we choose to behave according to the old paradigm. If we still believe that the winner takes it all.

“For hundreds of years we have acted against nature by ignoring our essential connectedness and defining ourselves as separate from the world. We’ve reached a point where we can no longer live according to this false view of who we naturally are. What’s ending is the story we’ve been told up until now about who we are and how we’re supposed to live—and in this ending lies the only path to a better future”—Lynne McTaggart.

full moon 06For regular astrological updates, or more information about your own birth chart, please visit my Facebook page, or email me: ingrid@trueheartwork.com

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Keep Calm and Carry On—Mercury in Libra—September 22nd—October 10th.

21333ded62e57e17eb85441ff001e533So often we hit a wall. Collide with an immovable force that profoundly alters the trajectory of our life: the accident, the lawyer’s letter, the termination of our employment, the conversation with our doctor that leaves us hemorrhaging hope. Physicist Stephen Hawking who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his twenties once told the New York Times, “my expectations were reduced to zero when I was twenty-one. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

 

Mercury races ahead of the Sun into Libra on September 22nd. On crossing the threshold, both planets square Saturn, honing our ability for practical, disciplined thinking about serious concerns. Saturn/Mercury transits can marry our minds to pessimism, steal the fleeting moments of joy that inhabit the silent spaces of our lives. As Mercury travels through Libra, we have an opportunity to cultivate a deeper awareness of our mental chatter and the worrisome thoughts that may stir our feelings. We have an opportunity to look for the bonuses.

The Moon is Full at 2 degrees Aries on September 24th. She’s conjunct Chiron, square Saturn, opposing Mercury and of course, the Libran Sun. The essence of Aries is our individual will. The signature of this lunation is the opportunity, the right moment to step over the threshold, release a thought, a habitual response, a behaviour, so that the river of our life may flow easily once more. Saturn is associated with time, (Chronos) and Chiron transits correspond with major turning points, opportunities to awaken, to re-balance, to align with our deepest, truest nature. Chiron will move back into Pisces on September 25th, and will remain there until February 18th. Chiron is also associated with an experience of deep woundedness, in our life situation, our physical body, in the way we perceive the world. This Full Moon may correspond with a new insight that accelerates our growth, fortifies our resilience.

Keep Calm and Carry On was the British Government’s attempt to console the public who faced invasion at the onset of WW II. As the epicenters of civilization shudder across the globe, as America and Britain face their “Darkest Hour”, it will be the small gestures of love and kindness, the careful harnessing of our untamed thoughts, that keep us calm, help us carry on amidst  the gathering storm  of collective angst.
Libra 1

“Be glad. Be good. Be brave,” wrote Eleanor Emily Hodgman Porter in her best-selling novel, Pollyanna. The year was 1913. This simple statement resonated in the matrix of the Collective Consciousness as the dark war clouds blotted the sun over the Balkans and thousands of young men were soon to drown in their own life-blood in the rat-infested trenches of World War I. One hundred and five years later, we continue to enlist in our private battles for survival—financially, emotionally, or spiritually. When everything around us seems to be falling apart, this steadfast statement bids us first and foremost, to be grateful. To conduct our lives with integrity and valour. The fortitude and unwavering optimism of eleven-year-old Pollyanna offered the comfort of hot-buttered toast and a cup of sweet tea at a point of impact in western civilization when there was no going back. When to be glad, good, and brave, was one constant beacon amidst cataclysmic change.

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Our evolutionary challenge this month is inner serenity and a selective, deliberate focus on those things that are right in the world and in our relationships. Lévy-Bruhl and, later, Jung, wrote of the Participation Mystique. That mystical participation that can manifest in situations and material things in our lives. That sense of wonder and magic that is inherent in small children and has been codified as The Law of Attraction. We are required to “always look on the bright side of life” as we bravely embrace the contradictions, the baffling complexity, and buckle up for those roller coaster rides that leave us whip-lashed, aching and bruised. Melody Beattie believes, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”

 

Happiness, and her twin sister, Joy, dance in Gratitude, in the “little things that are the hinges of the universe” according to newspaper columnist and novelist, Fanny Fern. Gratitude is a spoonful of sugar to crankiness. Gratitude is like a garden. It requires careful tending if we want it to flourish. It may require gentle coaxing back into bloom after a storm or the cruel crush of frost. It certainly takes a good sprinkling of imagination and a stir of magic to feel it sometimes, and yet like the fairies that sit on our garden wall and fly about our heads as we water the rose bushes, it is always there if we look. If we believe.

Gratitude, like Love, is a choice. It’s an inside job. If we feel like Cinderella, no pumpkin carriage, no diamond tiara, glass slipper, or handsome Prince will make us authentically, radiantly happy. If we play the Glad Game, and cheat because we don’t truly believe, we can’t evoke the magic. We cannot fake it ’til we make it. We cannot buy, Botox, or bargain our way to Gratitude and contentment. We cannot pretend to be Little Miss Sunshine if we feel like The Snow Queen.

Gratitude must become habitual for the magic to work.

So, observe those wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. Give thanks that the silver white winters will melt into springs … And hold steady in these challenging times. Encourage ourselves and each other to keep moving, keep focused, as new life emerges from the dead leaves of change.

I post regular astrology updates on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/ingrid.hoffman.75

Please contact me directly for private readings and for more information about forthcoming workshops—ingrid@trueheartwork.com

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solstice 19

Still Point—Solstice—June 21st

solstice 14This is the Solstice, the still point of the Sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future. The place of caught breath—Margaret Atwood.

As summer thrusts sunlight into the receptive hollows of the earth here in the north, and the benediction of winter silence presses into the cold soils of the south, the Sun moves into the sign of Cancer on June 21st, and pauses at the threshold of the year.

Our Earth is girdled with contrast, bejeweled with the counterpoint of light and darkness. Spiritual teacher, Gary Zukav describes the Solstices as “the opposition of light and dark, expansion and contraction, that characterize our experiences in the Earth school so that we can recognize our options as we move through our lives.”

At the solstice, and right now in our human his-story, we stand at a threshold, and at a time of unlocking, which promises the release of pent-up energy, the slaying of old dragons. The choice to expand, or contract against the forces of change that swirl around us all.solstice 000

Uranus moves through the sign of Taurus (2018-2026) engendering social and financial seismic upheaval, spurring climate change—a potential “ecological Armageddon” —to shatter our illusions of security and what we believe is safe and sure.  For many, these social and economic changes will change how we live, how we work. Like the interwoven spirals and coils of Celtic knot-work, the astrology of our times is threaded with the amalgam of the past. Uranus moved through the sign of  Taurus between 1934 and 1941. Yet, in the darkness of depravity and suffering many experienced their “their finest hour”. The Industrial Revolution between 1850—1859 irrevocably destroyed a way of life but also brought innovation and a new social and economic order as Uranus moved through Taurus.

Against the backdrop of the widening gyre, the Sun rides his chariot through that segment of the zodiac associated with home, with family, with safety and security, between June 21st to July 23rd.

Cancer is a water sign, associated with the bonds that bind us kith and kin, to the land of our Homeland, our Motherland. Cancer is associated with the Great Mother, with the mythic Bear and She-Wolf who nurture and suckle their young. Psychologically, Cancer offers the opportuntiy to explore the other dimension of Mother—the mother who lives vicariously through her young or who keeps them dependent and infantile. The mother who devours and destroys. Cancer represents our need to individuate, to separate from Mother and the family alembic. To turn from the breast and to nourish ourselves. In a world where health care and social security systems are being dismantled, this need for self-sufficiency and innovation may become more urgent.

Cancer is also associated with the  crab who carries her shell on her back to protect her soft body from the elements. This is poignantly enacted each day as homeless men and women pack up their meagre belongings from park benches and doorways in so-called “First World” nations.  In the poorer countries of the world, millions live in fetid squatter camps or risk their lives to seek refuge from famine and war. And in South Africa, land invasions will escalate in a disruptive and violent manner as Uranus moves through Taurus. As the gulf between the rich and the poor widens, Ted’s story is the story of thousands of men and women who, through divorce, retrenchment and rising prices, have lost their moorings, slipped into the abyss and have no place to call home in a bloated housing market peppered with Airbnb. Ted died at a table in a coffee shop in one of the most affluent areas of Vancouver this month. Battling cancer, with no means to rent or buy a home of his own, Ted had been living at a table near the washroom of the coffee shop for a decade. There are increasing numbers of people, struggling to cover the cost of food and housing in cities where house prices have rocketed. Judy Graves, an advocate for the homeless met Ted about four years ago when he had been diagnosed with cancer. “He had worked all his life, but at low-paying working-class jobs. For much of his life he had managed to scrape by, but an unexpected expense left him suddenly scrambling. Eventually he was left him without a roof over his head.”

solstice 4Frank Baum’s “There’s no place like home,” and the clichéd  “Home Sweet Home,” reflect our heart’s longing for safety and belonging as we pause in the dreamy haze of mid-summer heat, or close the curtains against the raw chill of mid-winter. As Uranus moves through Taurus, one of the manifestations will be the issue of land and affordable housing—a place to call Home.

The dreamy magical month of June may have brought timely reminders to stay flexible amidst uncertainty and ambiguity of the bellicose tweeting, the self-aggrandisement of the politicians. We’re exactly one month away from eclipse season and as the Wheel of the Year turns, and we draw closer to the mid-Summer/Winter Solstice, Venus ingressed into Leo on Wednesday, June 13th, and Mercury slipped into Cancer on June 12th against the backdrop of Brexit, which will affect us all. Another colour wash is Mars opposing the North Node this week and beginning to slow down in the early degrees of Aquarius before turning Retrograde on June 26th to August 27th.

So, stay flexible and alert, prepare for things to change, perhaps not in the way that you expect them to. If you have planets in Aries or Scorpio, you might feel this shift quite dramatically as life seems becalmed. Return to basics, re-do, reinforce, and use this time wisely to replenish your own energy reserves. Black Elk offers this wisdom for Mars in Retrograde—It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds.0dec402d59d23a9e1004a898b40af19c

Mars is the archetype of war and is associated with anger. Moving slowly through idealistic Aquarius, ideologies and the Tribal Mind are emphasised. When Mars is in Retrograde, his energies are bridled, curtailed, he cannot move freely or spontaneously. If you’ve ever been at the receiving end of an insult that explodes through your heart, you’ll have sense of the power of this astrological signature. These next few weeks may  may feel supercharged, yet nothing happens; our nervous system may feel like a string of a violin that has been strung too tightly. Be mindful of thoughts create tsunamis across the surface of your mind and capsize your calm, words that emerge from the cave of your unconscious and darken the blue skies of affection.

Mars always needs to pick a fight, so the energy may feel as  volatile as a swarm of bees racing through the skies con a hot summer’s day. If you’ve been putting up with, or tolerating a situation that has become untenable, anger may erupt in a heated rush as Mars goes direct. Projects, plans may proceed with unprecedented speed.

We’re living in uncertain times.

Yet there’s a certain kind of freedom in uncertainty. Freedom from our addictive fear of the unknown, freedom from our past conditioning.

Writes Deepak Chopra, “in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

solstice 7I post astrology updates regularly on Facebook, and offer private readings on Skype or in person, so do please connect with me, I’d love to hear from you—ingrid@trueheartwork.com

 

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20a7265e226f5424a0edbb763086704a

The Lovers—Sun in Gemini—May 21st.

b9d006019c469094261ab2d45e6cfea7Set me as a seal upon your heart, a seal upon your arm. For love is as strong as death. Passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire. A raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it out—Song of Solomon.

The break in protocol and formality, and the sermon that blazed its way across eons of formality and protocol on Saturday, was depicted in the astrological portrait—Venus in the very last degree of Gemini, the Moon in Cancer and Sun in Taurus. Uranus, that planet associated with Prometheus, the Greek Titan who stole fire from the gods, conjunct the Sun of Queen Elizabeth 11. In the unifying symbolism of this wedding, in the impassioned sermon by Bishop Michael Curry, and the transcendent words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the Power of Love reverberated through the walls of the 14th Century chapel: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way…. There’s power in love.” Gemini 24

The Sun enters the sign of Gemini today, May 21st.  In the round of the zodiac, we encounter the archetype of The Twins.

In Gemini we encounter duality and division. The Light and the Dark Twin. Gemini encapsulates the essence of The Lovers, the sixth card in Tarot. A mythical depiction of our human need to bond, to relate, and in so doing, to experience Love’s Illusions, Love’s Triumphs, and Love’s Redemption. Mercury, the Trickster, Prince of Thieves, the Liar and the wily Psychopomp, is the planetary spirit who guides the Lovers into the possibilities of choice encountered on the labyrinthine path of life. We may discover, within us, the shadowy twin, who arrives like an uninvited, and unexpected guest at the table.  Mythic twins betray one another, the lie and they steal, they murder. “Some things, however, are true, no matter how hard you might try to block them out. And a lie is always a lie, no matter how prettily told. Some doors, once they’re opened, can never be closed again, just as some trust, once it’s been lost, can never be won back,” writes Alice Hoffman.

296a629e7567af86cdf81e1a104a9796In Gemini we meet the complexities of relating with another who may disappoint us, who may leave us, who may break our trust.

The image of twinship is portrayed in mythic stories throughout the ages. Astrologically, the Gemini theme is threaded through the birth charts of family members. Literal or physic twinship brings exits through separationschool, college, marriage, estrangement, and death. In our sibling stories we write a narrative of bitter rivalry, and deep enduring love.

The desire to stay bonded in our adult relationships, and the need to separate and individuate, even the ability to leave unhealthy relationships may be anchored in our very first experience of separation with our siblings.

The Romans called the Twins Castor and Pollux and to the Greeks, they were “The Dioscuri”, the sons of the sky-god Zeus. The masculine bias in our culture ignores the other set of twins born out of Zeus’s rape of Leda. The twin daughters, Helen and Clytemnestra. The story of these twins is threaded with duplicity. Helen and Pollux were the progeny of the god Zeus, while Castor and Clytemnestra were the son and daughter of Leda’s husband Tyndareus. Diversity, difference, and the ultimate loss of connection underscores the Gemini motif and is powerfully depicted in myth. Castor and Pollux achieved fame and recognition in the skies. Helen and her sister, Clytemnestra did not fare so well. Bronze age misogyny is still lodged deeply in the marrow of our culture. But an increasing awareness of racial and sexual diversity, the # Me Too Campaign, and the Irish Referendum on Abortion, bring recognition to the disowned parts of ourselves, to re-claim the lost sisters, to redress past wrongs.

Gemini is a metaphor for separation, duality, opposition. The life long search for something from which we feel separated. Our disowned self, a sibling who might have died or been aborted, a sibling from whom we are disconnected. Gemini is a symbolic representation for the pathos of profound loss, a sense of something that’s “missing” that’s so often projected outwards. So often awoken in our intimate relationships, our close friendships. Gemini is the metaphor for The Soul Mate. The search for The Soul Mate is cling-wrapped around our modern concept of “romance”, yet as Elizabeth Gilbert reveals, our Soul Mates can be our Wound Mates, those people who break us open, who speed our evolution and maturity.   “A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave…”

In the mythic story of Gemini we may we encounter, personally and collectively, the search for the Twin Soul who will mirror our shadowy doppelganger, bring to our attention those parts of ourselves that we have disowned and discarded.  This month, personally, or collectively, we have the opportunity to encounter the paradox of choice, the pathos of separation, the indecision of opposition and the mythic story of The Twins, and the Power of Love.

This is the sacred dance of yin and yang, masculine and feminine energy, that is the lustrous pearl at the heart of a Spiritual Partnership, the paradox, the pathos, of Gemini.

I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both—Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

For astrology readings on Skype or in person, and for more information about workshops for women, please get in touch—ingrid@trueheartwork.comGemini 22 Casablanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uranus in Taurus 1

Close for Comfort—Uranus in Taurus—May 16th 2018—April 26th 2026

Uranus in Taurus 8 Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe

As May’s darling buds loosen and shake from the embrace of greening branches, and burnished bronzes blaze in rows across southern vineyards, we may sense a quiver, a tremor stirring the sameness of our daily lives. We may feel a force gathering momentum that lifts the veil of familiarity as the seasons change.  Yet, unlike our ancestors who used rhymes and talismans to ward off evil, to grant fertility and prosperity, we may linger in the reassuring comfort of the old well-trodden roads, unsure of what form this newness might take.

On April 20th the Sun ingresses into Taurus.  Passing from Aries and the heated rush of Fire, we sink into substance, the loam, the ancient clay of Earth. The Age of Taurus (4,000-2,000 BCE) coincided with the river civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and for eons, the Bull and the Cow have been associated with the fecundity, with currency. Material possessions, land, and shiny silver sixpences, are yoked and bound to neck of The Bull and amidst the roar of the economic machine, we buy and sell “stocks”, and bullion; markets are temperamentally “bullish”.
Uranus in Taurus 111

Woody Allen once quipped, “money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. This thing we call “money”, this stream of electrons, is our irrefutable medium of exchange and over the next several years, our relationship with moneyand the disparity of wealth on our planet, is about to be shaken. Not stirred. If you’ve just bought into the cryptocurrency hype. If you’ve always believed that you should save for a rainy day. If you find it easier to talk about your sex life than what you earn, the transit of Uranus through the sign of Taurus over these next seven years will slay the Minotaur of covetous complacency and avarice. As the accumulation of wealth by the rich continues to continue; as swathes of homeless continue to forage on scraps and shelter beneath flimsy roofs of plastic, the top one percent who have the Midas Touch,  will have clasped sixty-four percent of the world’s wealth by 2023.

On May 16th, Uranus crosses the border into the sign of The Bull. The passage of Uranus through Taurus  will bring sudden shocks and surprises that break open hermetically-sealed structures, catapult us into new terrain. There may be losses and gains that compel us to be resourceful, more flexible, humbler, more grateful for the sixpence in our shoe. This ancient archetypal force may remind us of our clay feet as we stand on the rim of the Widening Gyre between rich and poor. Affordable housing, land distribution, and sustainable food production, will certainly encircle our lives, shattering our identification with existing form and attitude. Uranus brings the gift of fire which was stolen from the gods. New, unknown, it transforms our perspective, alters our reality—breaks through that are too rigid, too fixed, too chrystalised, in their form.  Over the next several years, all those things we think we truly cherish and value; that something old, that something borrowed; might seem faded and frayed, as we reach for new possibilities, new potentials.

 

Robot and human hands almost touching - 3D render. A modern take on the famous Michelangelo painting in the Sistine Chapel; titled, "The Creation of Adam".

Uranus, has been moving through Aries, since March 2011, reflected by technological innovation, accelerated surveillance and social manipulation through Facebook, Google, YouTube. Uranus’s gift of fire in the sign of Aries delivered Artificial Intelligence, the rise of the robots, the internet of things, the rise of right-wing political parties.

Uranus is an archetype associated with the rallying cry of rebellion and disruption, with the shocking collapse of social order. Uranus is an archetypal force associated with the Collective, rather than the personal, individual will. This planet is associated with reason, with ultimate perfection, with sudden dispassionate dissociation. With the hive mind that swarms in unison. Monty Python’s Life of Brian describes this kind of Uranian  murmuration:  You don’t  NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re  ALL individuals! The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals! Brian: You‘re all different! The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!

These next several years will bring something new, something unexpected, to our lives, depending on what area of your birth chart, and what planets are awakened by a Uranus transit. We may feel like outsiders in a world gone utterly mad. We may be drawn to those religious traditions that propose non-attachment. We may anaesthetise ourselves with regular fixes of  (Uranian-ruled) technology.

 

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Uranus was last in the sign of Taurus between 1935 and 1941, when the delicate ecosystem of the great plains of America turned to dust. Spring has grown increasingly Silent since Rachel Carson documented the destructive use of pesticides in 1962. Uranus brings us the gift of fire. At a price. Starhawk writes, “the brush that is tinder dry from decades of drought, the warming of the earth’s climate that sends the storms away north, the hole in the ozone layer. Not punishment, not even justice, but consequence.”

In May, it will be 50 years since biologist Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb when the world’s population was less than 2 billion – 5.6 billion fewer people than today. Ehrlich reminds us, “perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell… but the longer humanity pursues business as usual, the smaller the sustainable society is likely to prove to be.”

In the 1950s we began engineering polymers. Now microfibres leaking formaldehyde, invade our bedrooms, our cars, our offices, our oceans. Uranian inventions have become the monstrous Frankenstein who ultimately destroys his creator.

The energies of the outer planets are felt long before an ingress. Positive news for our environment is that Japanese scientists have discovered some bacteria that use plastic as a food source.

 

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On Sunday, May 14th, Mercury enters Taurus. Mercury is associated with contracts, negotiation, deal-making, communicationand mis-communication for those stalking the stock markets.

On May 15th, the New Moon in Taurus emphasises the motif of the Bull, (not sweet Ferdinand, the Raging one.) This lunation trines the Mars/Pluto conjunction which squares Uranus at the power degree of 29 Aries. Chiron, associated with the archetype of the “Wounded Healer” moves into Aries on April 17th and we are asked to cultivate a new relationship with Promethean Fire. Survivalist self- sufficiency and self-assertion may mask fear and uncertainty. Our personal sense of powerlessness  become more apparent amidst political and social change as we encounter these potent archetypal energies. fba48bee60e4e9041bc1096b13b83f47

We may consider just how much power we give to “the monetary system”. How we trade our integrity when we buy the things we do. What price we pay for safety and security.

Our inner values of honesty and integrity, our code of personal honour, our Taurean sensuality, our sexuality, will be upturned so that we shake loose the old beliefs that wrap around our lives like blue garters. Uranus is not about personal freedom or individuality. But as  Lynne Mc Taggart says, “the power of mass intention may ultimately be the force that shifts the tide toward repair and renewal of the planet.” 

As we are propelled from the comfort of the old, we may need to borrow the wisdom of the sages—only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.

 For more information about forthcoming workshops and private readings in Dublin please email ingrid@trueheartwork.comUranus in Taurus 11

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Carried in the Deep 7c

Sun in Pisces—Rolling in the Deep—Mystic, Mélusine, Misfit

a239a69d3960d9823ccff550b08dfbb5The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do itJ.M Barrie, Peter Pan

Bruised clouds hang in bunches over the parched land, delivering thunder and lightning and a meagre measure of rain. Yet as river beds turn to dust in the wind, jasmine bursts, a froth of fragrant creamy white, from tight-coiled cerise buds. Eight months before spring.

Faith and Hope hold us airborne. There’s a life-force that spirals from struggle.  Writer and civil rights activist, James Bladwin, says of Shakespeare’s life in Elizabethan England, It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it—no time can be easy if one is living through it.”

Throughout human history, times of drought, plague, famine, flood, and myriad human atrocities have crushed civilizations. Yet from the shards of broken lives rise  mystical visions and Marian apparitions. New perceptions perfume the air. From the confines of her monastery in the politically hazardous 11th Century, Christian Mystic, Hildegard of Bingen wrote, I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life. And as the Black Death scythed 50 million souls or more, in the 14th century, came this reassurance from Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” As we spiral through our ordinary life’s seasons amidst a maelstrom of political and climate change, magical thinking, practiced by shamans and visionaries for centuries, offers sustenance in our own difficult times.

There’s a sublime sensitivity, an innocent faith in the celestial sky-story this month. The Sun moved into the sign of Pisces on February 19th,  joining Mercury, Venus, Neptune, and Chiron in the unbounded depths of the sky. The Sun and the Moon consummate their union with the new Pisces Moon on March 17th.23494e332063871e31b4fcc990a16b4f

The Sun’s passage through Pisces awakens our yearnings, diffuses our dreams with dappled remembrances. It stirs our faith in the ineffable, the non-ordinary realms, bringing magic and wonderment to lives so often infused with a tincture of loss and longing. Pisces is associated with The Hanged Man in the Tarot, directing us as initiates to suspend our worldly concerns to turn our gaze inwards, shifting our perspective.

Planets that wear iridescent Piscean clothing offer strange tinctures of genius and madness.  In the watery-logged realm of this archetype is a marshy Never Never Land surrounded by an ocean of dreams. Here Lost Boys and Lost Girls skip the light fandango, turn cartwheels ‘cross a sea floor scattered with the bones of those who lingered and languished in the deeps.

Faith and Belief are strung like precious pieces of coral around the Fishes’ tails. Jupiter, the traditional ruler of Pisces, is associated with “luck”. The kind of abundance we evoke by using affirmations as talismans to ward off  the spectres of lack and loneliness that haunt us. “Buildings fall; even the earth perishes. What was yesterday a cornfield is to-day a bungalow,” wrote Virginia Woolf. Jupiter’s Wheel of Fortune spins for each one of us, oblivious to status and wealth, to prayers and affirmations or the amount of exercise we do.

Jupiter crossed the border into Scorpio in October 2017 and will turn retrograde on March 9th at 23 degrees Scorpio.  Jupiter in the sign of Scorpio stirs up  dark sediment: the outing of sexual predators, the massacre of seventeen students on Valentine’s Day. Mars, the planet of war, and Jupiter, the planet of excess and amplification, are now in mutual reception before Mars changes sign on March 17th.  With Jupiter, be careful what we wish for.

 

43ff4608b3d5a7ce2c4ff73558b1e8c9Neptune is the more elusive modern ruler of this amorphous sign. Neptune’s associations are born of the sea, carried in the deep roll of the waves by the Muse that inspires music and art, ecstatic intoxication, and slow wasting diseases that are impossible to define or to cure. Lodged in this archetype is our debt to eons of human history. A soulful yearning for redemption and transcendence. With Neptune comes necessary sacrifice, carried for us all by the gory image of a crucified Christ and a dismembered Dionysus.

Neptune, turns a ghostly face to our human need to hold onto those things we love, to keep things just as they are.  We learn that everything is transient. That what we hold on to too tightly, fades into nothingness. Writes mystic and poet, John O’ Donohue, “transience makes a ghost out of each experience. There was never a dawn that did not drop down into noon, never a noon which did not fade into evening, and never an evening that did not get buried in the graveyard of the night…”  Still we search, like children on a pebbled beach, for miracles and wonder. We discover “synchronicities” that shape our sense of reality. We hold the flame of faith that things will be better as we welcome new presidents, new Father-Redeemers to lead us to the Promised Land.

 So, come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!―J.M BarrieCarried in the Deep 3

For workshops and private consultations, please email: ingrid@trueheartwork.com 

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Valentine 3

Heart-Shaped World—Valentine’s Day 2018

Valentine 1Dark chocolates wrapped in cerise or shiny scarlet foil. The promise of red satin, the feminine fluff of pink lace, gift-wrapped in tissue paper and arranged in a heart-shaped box. This week commerce pays homage to the Heart.

A muscular pump that can be replaced or fixed with a set of stents? Or the source of Love that transcends our humanity? In many spiritual traditions, the heart is believed to be the repository of the soul. From the lifeless bodies of lovers and poets, from the ravaged remains of chieftains and warriors, from the noble rib-cages of  kings and martyrs,  hearts were removed, carried home and buried. Cardiologist Professor Dr. Armin Dietz writes, “If it proved impossible to either transport the body home or conserve it, the heart at least was brought home, being the seat of the soul and therefore most important part of the body.”

Heart 1Some say it was the deep green curve of an ivy leaf, or the generous spread of a fig leaf that inspired potters of prehistory to carve hearts into clay. Some say it was the immaculate feathered necks of two courting swans or bright coloured flowers that fluttered like fallen hearts in a fresh spring breeze that were immortalised around the rims of bowls and slender jugs discovered in splintered shards in ancient Greek and Roman middens. In dank catacombs, in the silent vestibules of monasteries and convents, heart motifs represented a love that was paradoxically both hotly erotic and transcendent of mortal concerns. The original iconic heart might have its origins in the little seed of the silphium plant. It was highly valued all over the Mediterranean and ancient Egypt and traded from the North African city, Cyrene. It mainly used medicinally and as a contraceptive. Two simple curves that join to represent a symphony of human emotion, heart-shaped pictograms were carved into coins of pure silver. Then, just like now, hearts were bought. And sold.

Ivy leaves became the red hearts on playing cards. Red suggesting life force, the heat of passion, the white-hot flame of a spiritual, eternal love.  As physical love evolved into stylised courtly love, qualities of loyalty and faithfulness were celebrated in art and literature. Across the world as the broad green leaves of the Bodhi tree fell sofly onto decks of playing-cards they grew into stylised hearts too, and for the Buddhists, it was enlightenment, not earthly love that was highly prized. For the self-deprecating Jesuits, The Sacred Heart represented the painful longing for eternal life and redemption, stoked by the fires of Catholic fanatics who longed to purge and burn away anything that threatened the stone pillars of patriarchal power.

eroticEternal love, passion, or simply sex, the heart is a symbol that transcends culture, class and centuries of human muddle as we seek this thing called Love. So on this Hallmark day of commercial brouhaha and the echo of the death cries of the mythical martyred Valentine, let us pause a while amidst the plethora of heart-shaped second chances to speak our truth, buy those red roses, to dare to say I love you.  

Let us celebrate the confounding mystery of the human heart and spin like whirling dervishes, gone giddy with delicious excess, the pink and red flourish of kitsch, cheesy, craziness of it all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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