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Miracles and Wonder—Light and the Dark of the Moon January 2018

56838d5aff9f13ef84692959b204257bIf you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down—Toni Morrison

The first month of the calendar year, is named in honour of Janus, two-headed god of thresholds.

“This year will be better…” we say hopefully, perhaps as a talisman to ward off the aftertaste of the year gone by. As the effervescent bubbles of New Year’s Eve flatten into the sober days of January and we minister to the minutiae of our daily lives Fate may enter softly through the open door, catching us unprepared. She brings news that that skids and spins us off the smooth tarmac of your carefully scheduled New Year planner.6b6a23914dceb57b5308f1808a99e48b
“God never gives us more than we can handle”, is the trite knee-jerk response to desperate calamities and unspeakable suffering that so many endure. A visit to a psychiatric hospital, a war zone, the trauma unit in your local hospital, witnessing an execution on You Tube, makes me question what kind of god who would gift us with this kind of suffering.

The uncomprehending stare of a young mother’s eyes when she is told her child has died, a young man paralysed from the waist after diving into an azure pool one hot summer’s day, the black dog of depression that gnaws at so many, trapped in a snare of excruciating loneliness and loss.

 

63bb2d49cd6977e9cd095104c19e7230For many of us this year, we will have to bow our heads to the necessity of getting out of bed each day and finding something to be truly grateful for. We will yoke ourselves to the inevitability of change: children who leave home, a lover who no longer loves us, a dear friend who moves far away, a beloved parent who now needs the same vigilant caring as a toddler. As we eat of the bitter herb, may we know that there is milk and honey also, in the acceptance of things as they are.

Our ancestors lived close to the cycles of the seasons, the rhythm of Life. During the unrelenting grip of famine or displacement by war, flood or fire, they walked with the primordial goddess of Necessity. She was Ananke, also called Force or Constraint, she was mother to three daughters, the Moirai, the Fates. As omniscient goddess of all circumstance, greatly respected by mortals and gods, it was she who ruled the pattern of the life line of threads of inevitable, irrational, fated events in our lives. Ananke determined what each soul had chosen for its lot to be necessary—not as an accident, not as something good or bad, but as something necessary to be lived, endured, experienced. Necessity has been outcast in our mechanistic material culture where we, in our hubris and our self-inflation, actually believe that are all powerful—we can fix, manifest, cut away, or buy our way out of any mess we make.
1e64214c60f641fd56a4da1dd54af859Ananke is an ancient goddess, and the resonance of her name has its tap root in the ancient tongues of the Chaldean, Egyptian, the Hebrew, for “narrow,” “throat”, “strangle” and the cruel yokes that were fastened around the necks of captives. Ananke always takes us by the throat, imprisons, enslaves, and stops us in our tracks, for a while. There is no escape. She is unyielding, and it is we who must excavate from the depths of our being, our courage, tenacity, and acceptance of what is.

This New Year, Necessity may lay her hand on a defining moment in your life. The ending of a love affair, the barren womb, the not-so-exciting job that pays the bills. She may still the tug-o’-war of the heart’s calling, block the mind’s plan, and fasten the collar around our neck. There may be no escape, except a shift in perception, and the courage to accept that which cannot be otherwise and a resilience to stay the course and just do it. Author, Doris Lessing once said, “whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”185d87a49608548f1fc31957c125ab58


The astrological signature this month accentuates persistence, discipline, and realism. The quiet dignity of commitment. The promises we keep. The words we honour. Mercury changes sign on January 11th, joining the Sun, Saturn, Venus and Pluto in Capricorn. And the month of January is bound by a pair of full-bellied Moons that hang melon-ripe, luscious in the night sky. They nudge so close to our earth that they appear larger, brighter than usual. American astrologer, Richard Nolle, coined the term Supermoon, in 1979, and symbolically these Moons amplify and illuminate those areas in our lives, casting their silvery luminescence on what might have been obscured or denied. On January 2nd, at the threshold of this new year, the Cancer Moon nestled protectively close to her sister Earth as we shrugged off the old year to gaze with hopeful eyes upon the pristine newness of the year ahead. This Moon was a harbinger of the total lunar eclipse on January 31st, at 12 degrees Leo. Observe the interplay of the elements—fire and water, yin and yang. The contrast in the terrain of the landscape this month might be a template for the choices we must make to fly as we let go those things that weigh us down, or stoically accept that things are as they are for now. Leo is associated with spontaneity, with self-expression and with courage.
This lunar eclipse is the first of the eclipse season this year, the next lunar eclipse occurs on 27th/28th July five degrees Aquarius.

As the shadow of our Earth sweeps across the face of the Moon she grows darker. Imagine how our ancestors would have observed the goddess growing darker, redder, or paling into blue, depending on the amount of dust in our atmosphere—a sign, an omen.

Modern astrologers tend to agree that eclipses are wild cards, and the effects are unpredictable, though solar eclipses tend to be externalised and lunar eclipses are subtler, more internal, often related to the past, to our emotions and perceptions.

Poet and novelist, Ben Okri writes, “bad things will happen, and good things too. Your life will be full of surprises. Miracles happen only where there has been suffering. So, taste your grief to the fullest. Don’t try and press it down. Don’t hide from it. Don’t escape. It is Life too. It is truth. But it will pass, and time will put a strange honey in the bitterness. That’s the way life goes.”

As we honour Necessity, we can choose which threads and which colours we wish to weave into the cloth of our lives. We can discover the Miracle in the suffering, we can taste the strange honey in the bitterness of our grief as we feel what needs to be felt—in the light and in the dark of the Moon.0000e417_medium

 

 

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Hard Facts―Saturn in Capricorn December 20th 2017―22nd March, 2020.

christmas 111“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “ Another Christmas has come and gone, and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books” ―J. K Rowling.

Another Christmas has come, packaged with nostalgia, wrapped in the comfort of custom, tied up with tradition. Paper hats and crackers, fir trees and festive extravagances, redolent with the smell of our grandmother’s brandy-soaked pudding.

Without a backward glance, Saturn moves into its own sign of Capricorn on December 20th,  and will remain in Capricorn until March 21—22nd 2020. There’s something about this ingress that feels sure-footed and determined to get ahead with the task at hand as Saturn moves resolutely to unite with the Sun  on the solstice on December 21st.  Venus joins the Capricorn line- up on December 25th in a statement of celestial artistry redolent of boardrooms and cigars, power dressing, getting down to business.

There’s a serious overlay to our earthly festivities this December as we face into the practicalities of facing into a period of increasing austerity and hard facts.  secrets 2

We’re living in a time where chunks of polar ice fall into the sea, Californian homes and forests burn, deadly drones dive from dark skies and Big Brother is watches every move we make. Collectively, personally, the very bed rock of our existence is being cracked open by greed and the admonishment to “consume” without any notion that all of Life is interconnected.  “We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature,” wrote poet John O’Donohue.

Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism comments grimly, “the world we are creating is an ADD-ridden flat land.”  And Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president for user growth at Facebook, writes “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”

Traditional astrologers associate the archetype of Saturn with limitation, adversity, restriction. Saturn is the celestial accountant who asks us to take stock of our lives, and who brings a timely reality check. Perhaps, for some of us, a stoic acceptance of  those things we simply cannot change.

Saturn was in Capricorn during the Great Depression of the late 20s and early 30s, again as Fidel Castro marched to power in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and once again as the intractable Iron Curtain shattered in 1988.

Saturn is associated with  law and  order, and over the coming months we may see defenses mobilised, stronger bulwarks against anarchy and chaos. The draw bridge goes up to protect a new order. In myth, Saturn, Chronos, devoured his offspring. The symbolism is chilling. Alice Walker writes, “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”  Through our own rigidity, resistance, through fear and defensiveness, we may devour and  disown our power and creative potential to birth something new.castle 1

The United Kingdom’s 1801 chart has the Sun in the sign of Capricorn, and as society there has become increasingly fragmented, the anxiety unleashed has manifested as the blight that is Brexit as the super-rich become the new kings and queens sealed from the common people in glittering Shards, riding the waves in enormous yachts.

Saturnian control, restraint, self-possession, and persistence, are boring and unwelcome guests in solar world where we’re shining like the sun, always having fun, where every day is a “nice day.” Daphne Rose Kingma writes, “The power of persistence is required especially when we’re dealing with intense, emotionally devastating circumstances or bunches of hugely difficult things that have stacked up all at once. When you’re facing a diagnosis of Graves’ disease, a taxi accident, and the imminent death of your sister, and your boyfriend has just moved to Japan, you will definitely need to call on persistence.”2db99990d82f314ebc7ec3abb078b1ec

Saturn has an affinity with the archetype of Capricorn, and if we choose, we can use this energy wisely to manifest goals, to firm up commitments.

We may have to vigorously tame our thoughts,  release hoary old habits, rusty old grudges that keep us trapped like the Tin Man in armour that crushes our hearts. We may need to examine our lives scrupulously and ask if we are adding more aggression and self-centredness  into the Field, and take ownership of our sloppy behaviour. We may need to pray for the courage to put our soul in charge of our life.

“We may not be comfortable, but we will be awake and aware and fully alive,” says Prema Chodron, author of Taking the Leap and When Things Fall Apart.

Perhaps, it’s in silence of this holy night,  as we unwrap yet another practical pair of socks in the presence of our loved ones, that we can be open to embrace the energy of this sacred moment as our Sun stands still.

“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory,” activist Howard Zinn declares.

As we seriously commit to making our world a better place, the wise words of Carl Sagan envelop the zeitgeist of Saturn in Capricorn these next years, “better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”

Perhaps, it’s in silence, in the dark of the moon this solstice that we can be fully awake and in tune with the interconnectedness of all living things.  In the pause, in the gap, in the space between the ceaseless chatter that we can be open and touch the energy of the moment.

Through the dark clouds that gather, we can glimpse the silver lining.

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Thinking makes it so―Mercury Retrograde―December 3rd to December 24th

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“What time has ever been a simple time for those who are living it?” asks author Elizabeth Gilbert in her novel, Committed. And yet, as news rushes through the tendrils of technology, flooding our nervous systems, squatting for days and weeks in our divided minds, this time, for most of us living in it, is knotted with perplexing complexity and information overload. The old ways are not working any longer yet for so many of us, nothing seems clear or certain in a world where plastic grows like a cancer in our oceans and human populations bloom like algae. Where what seemed sure and certain empties into the unknown.

On December 3rd, Mercury began its last Retrograde cycle for this year (December 3rd-24th.)

In the nuanced language of astrology, the planets describe the quality of experience we  assimilate and express. A Retrograde Mercury asks us to be patient and tenacious in the face of delays or obstacles, and amidst the ceaseless clamorous chatter, to “remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Patience and the commitment are carelessly tossed aside in the distractions of the times we live in. Yet in the North, Nature withdraws, retires inwards and waits patiently for spring’s Resurrection. Colours empty into shades of grey and stark skeletal branches pierce through the low lidded sky. In the South, shards of sunlight shatter the blue-sky dome with a radiance that saturates the secret life of rocks and trees. Shimmering light sweeps across the ocean sprinkling daubs of dancing silver over the crests of the waves, rendering us drunk with light, satiated with heat, immobilised, enervated.  Time quivers and expands.2370c600ab2525602f92996176404e54

This time of the year may bring endings, the potential of new beginnings. It may bring the polarity of choice that skewers us in indecision.

Between the retraction of Winter or the swelter of Summer, the way forward may not yet be clear. We may have to be still. We may have to wait.

Astrological Mercury embodies eons of symbolism that can be traced to the Babylonian, Chaldean, Egyptian mythology and religious systems. A strongly placed Mercury in your birth chart enhances your ability to be humorous and charming. Mercury is the teacher, the comedian, the net worker, the communicator, the trickster who brings lightness and laughter and a new perspective to our world. Mercury is also associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of healing and fertility and it is with our words that we can heal, with our words that we can birth new possibilities.

The Retrograde cycle of Mercury occurs three times every year and moves through the elements of fire, air, earth and water, in a procession across the zodiac, alerting us the rhythm of inner reflection that is needed for a more conscious experience of living. Mercury’s realm is magical trans-formation. He was the god of cross-roads and times of transition. Mercury was the only god who travelled back and forth from the Underworld.

Mercury is an important planet in our birth chart, signifying how we access information from the unconscious as we silence the chatter of our mind. In these Mercury Retrograde cycles, our perceptions may shift, igniting the creative process, birthing brilliant ideas.

Right now, we are all, on some level, experiencing a Mercury Retrograde cycle in the fiery sign of Sagittarius, which is a sign associated with our beliefs about the world. Sagittarius is about expanding our awareness, learning something new, perceiving with new eyes.

fire-2837843_960_720Mercury harmonises its energy with Saturn (November 28th December 9th and again from January 11th 15th)  and as this calendar year hurries to an end, we may feel a sense of moving through treacle, sucked down by obstacles when everything around us is moving so fast. As Saturn and Mercury, hang low in the molten evening skies, there’s a deeper message contained here, said so simply by the Buddhist monk, Haemin Sunim: When everything around me is moving so fast, I stop and ask, “is it the world that’s busy, or is it my mind?”

Saturn is often connected with the law of karma and Mercury is about our perception. When these two energies combine in the heavens we return to the inner sanctum of our thoughts, that very private, personal space where linear time dissolves. We may choose to revisit the past, to follow the sweet scent of nostalgia to rest in unchangeable memories of someone we loved with all our heart. We may decide to clear away a tenacious thought that clings like a burr, repelling our peace in the still dark hours just before the dawn.

“Don’t let the hand you hold hold you down,” wrote the poet, Julia de Burgos. The simplicity of this statement may have a resonance for those of us who still hold the hand of an old hurt, a fearful thought, a limiting core belief.

Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” said the Bard. Nothing exists until we become aware of it. It’s the awareness of our minds that births the world we see into being. It’s our perception that makes the time we live in simple, or painfully fraught.  All it takes is a conscious shift in perception to see a new world, a promised land, a world where we can anchor in Faith, trust in the process of  Life itself. “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature”, says Thich Nhat Hanh.

3ff8b87dfdae59ca145c6e7a23d5fc0bToday, let’s bring new vision, self-reflection, and healing to our thoughts and to the  words we speak. Today, let’s be mindful that we do have a choice to re-write our signature, clearly and simply.

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Follow your Bliss 10

Follow your Bliss: Sun in Sagittarius—November 22nd

Follow your Bliss The weeks before Christmas deliver an avalanche of excess and indulgence.  The Sun in exuberant Sagittarius this month escorts  Merry into the days preceding the winter solstice.

The essence of Sagittarius contains an ember of optimism and good cheer. Our solar consciousness has been richly feed in the deep dark waters of self-scrutiny in Scorpio, and now, without a backward glance, we embrace the warming element of fire as winter closes in.

Mercury goes Retrograde from December  3rd-24rd . This retrograde period begins with Mercury conjunct sombre Saturn, amplified by the Mercury-ruled Gemini Full Moon. Mercury Retrograde invites introspection: a still-point of silence amidst the brouhaha. As friends and families gather together we may feel unspeakably alone amidst the tinsel and the gaudy lights. Perhaps now is the time to acknowledge those  uncomfortable emotions that pop like Christmas crackers at family gatherings and year end office parties.

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The year may be coming to a close now, but we may still be in the midst of a long winter cycle of intensely private grieving.  If this is the first, or one of many  festive seasons that swirls around the carousel of loss, we may be reminded of the soft presence of the one we have loved. Our heart may ache as the old year ends with such finality. Nostalgia may curl cold fingers around this season of exuberance and joy. The lyrics of a song played in a department store may draw us back to a different time and another place, to a small unmarked grave where a piece of our heart lies buried. We may be gestating a new greening. Or we may heroically be at the zenith of our own personal summer where we resolve to bring our Best Self to the silent spaces in relationships that speak eloquently of pain and disappointment, loss, and longing.

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Ancient traditions and spiritual wisdom are underpinned by the knowledge of the silent circuit of the great wheel of the year. As the seasonal energies realign with the solstice, our body rhythms realign with the seasonal shifts. Western medicine is largely ignorant of what shamans, Chinese and Indian healers have known for centuries: our minds, our bodies, our psyches have cycles.

In the cyclical nature of our own lives, let’s take time to pause in these weeks before the holidays. Let’s tenderly anoint the scars of loss, finally relinquish any hope or expectation that things will be different.

Mercury Retrograde is a time to acknowledge that if we were ready to make those changes in our life, taken that different road, we would have. We made the choices we made, we did the best we could at the time.

Jupiter is the astrological ruler of Sagittarius and also of Pisces, an archetype so often imbued with a tincture of loss and longing.  Despite our prayers, despite our positive affirmations, we don’t get the things we wish for. Jupiter is the roll of the dice, Lady Luck, the Wheel of Fortune, and the jovial Father Christmas who brings us a casserole dish when we wanted perfume.

full-moon-451605_640_1So let’s go gently as the weeks gather momentum for the crescendo of the solstice on December 21st. Amidst the Christmas carols that loop repetitively from sound systems in shopping malls and supermarkets, the frenetic hurrying to buy what we think our loved ones want. The strenuous exertion, the anticipation, the planning, the doing. Let’s be tender and kind to our weary bodies. In the flurry to buy food, gifts, stocking fillers, ask yourself today what is it I truly need now? Amidst the bright babble of the office party, the fairy lights of the crowded malls, amidst the heated rush of hurry, re-claim a few moments of sumptuous silence in the gap between the in-breath and the out-breath.

What do I truly need now?

The answer may come as one of those delicious surprises we find behind the tiny windows of the advent calendar. Our needs may be quite simple really. More sleep. This might mean loving ourselves enough to get into bed earlier. A sudden craving for rice pudding and custard that brings comfort reminiscent of a childhood when it snowed and all the word was white? This might mean buying pearl rice and switching on the oven to pre-heat. The strength to let go, to forgive the one who has hurt us so deeply. The willingness to forgive ourselves for hurting them too. This will certainly require humility and Grace.

What we need may be priceless. The simplicity of being in the presence of those we love with all our human hearts. A pause in the busyness.  Time to think. The strength to say no. In a voice that speaks as authentically now as it did in the 12th Century, the mystic Hildegard of Bingen invites us to “glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings…

child-659283__340Sagittarius is associated with the Quest for Vision, the Journey not the Destination, the Search for Meaning. We may never find any of the answers in this human life time, but we are ready to stretch and grow into all possibilities. Sagittarius is associated with long distance travel where we may encounter tastes and smells and rich new experiences, where we meet people who challenge our conditioning, free our minds, break away from boring routine. In Sagittarius we look up. And we’re amazed.

As the gyre of this year comes full circle, cultivate gratitude and optimism. See the delight in a little child’s eyes. Embrace comfort and joy. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.771493d40834c45daa97c83feabf742b

 

 

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dance 21

Basic Instinct

Jupiter in Scorpio—October 10, 2017 to November 8, 2018

butterfly_ashevilleJupiter crosses into Scorpio on October 10, 2017, and swims through Scorpio’s dark waters until November 8, 2018.

Words like optimism, abundance, “good luck”, generosity and excess cling to Jupiter’s corpulent mass. In Scorpio’s frozen waters, quick-fixes and cheery New Age platitudes just won’t stick. Jupiter in Scorpio amplifies our preoccupation with those things that prefer the cover of darkness: Sex, the use and the misuse of power, the criminal underworld, in-depth psychology and death.

In Scorpio we confront our sex drive, rampant or dormant, and genital brute force—rape, violent pornography, fetishes that go way beyond kinky experimentation, and adultery. In Scorpio we confront issues of trust and betrayal. This month, as Jupiter crosses the line, sex therapist Esther Perel releases her new book on sexual transgression—The State of Affairs. Drs. John and Julie Gottman use their Trust Revival Method to champion couples after the rupture of adultery.

The word, Adultery comes from Latin meaning “to pollute, or corrupt.” With Jupiter in Scorpio we must ask ourselves penetrating questions—what is polluted? Trust? Ownership? A vow or a covenant?

“There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,” wrote Rumi. It may take the sweet kiss of just one person to awaken us from our slumber. It may take the catalyst of an affair to expose the cracks in the chalice of our marriage. The tender memory of the lover’s embrace may bruise our skin for years to come, long after the albatross of the affair has been killed and thrown into the ocean depths. Poet Mary Oliver wrote about the affair her life partner, Molly Malone Cook, had just before they met— “She had an affair that struck deeply; I believe she loved totally and was loved totally. I know about it, and I am glad… This love, and the ensuing emptiness of its ending, changed her. Of such events we are always changed — not necessarily badly, but changed. Who doesn’t know this doesn’t know much.”

78d7c9801a2c0b64d5b70dd87814e6f4Sexual intimacy reveals our deepest vulnerabilities and ardent longings. Sex is more than an exchange of body fluids with Jupiter in Scorpio’s realm.

Jupiter expands our wanting and our longing. What have we  been settling for?  In committed partnerships it may be missing passion, mediocre sex. The energy of Scorpio requires uncompromising depth and true intimacy that can only be achieved with wisdom.

As we arrive at the crossroads of choice, do we risk all for passion, adventure, the unknown, when the rugged terrain of a long relationship has been charted, cohabited? Jupiter’s 13-month passage through Scorpio offers us a deadly serious choice: Do we risk it all to leap like a salmon over the rocks, tumble up waterfalls following our instincts as a new impetus of growth calls us to swim as if our life depends on it. And it often does.

If we’re the one that leaves, our parting of ways will involve a dismemberment of the life we knew. An annihilation of our old self. There will be dark nights when we wake with fear gnawing through our belly. Jupiter in Scorpio will bring the flotsam and jetsam of our lives to the shore of consciousness; are we willing to sift with reverence along the tidal zone ?

ff16e95348c6e06bbb4bb7392ea22a37Self-growth is seldom as simple as leaving the husk of a desiccated relationship, changing jobs, walking the Camino, or falling in love with someone new. It’s an arduous task, which requires endurance… and courage. Unless we’re willing to look honestly at ourselves, merely switching partners will bring us back to the same issues we tried to escape from with our previous partner, often leaving us marooned, stripped of our innocence. But if we are conscious and serious about the tugging at our hearts, there are rich lessons in each new relationship, as we retrieve the long-buried parts of ourselves.

Jupiter intensifies and distills our urgent wanting. We desire quality, not wasteful quantity. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes, “One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the choice of mates and lovers. A lover cannot be chosen a la smorgasbord. A lover has to be chosen from soul-craving. To choose just because something mouth-watering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.”

dance 10When, at last, we come to trust our own instincts, hear and respect our own voices, feel valuable enough to touch that fertile, erotic, vulnerable part of our self, buried beneath the sediments of cultural conditioning, we dare to risk bursting into blossom.

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Sun in Libra September 23rd

dreamcatcher-1030769_1280“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 young men were soon to drown in their blood in the trenches of World War 1. Ninety-nine 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.

So 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. We stand at the door unopened. We tremble; we know with every fibre of our being that there will be no going back. When we cross this threshold, this crossing will reverberate across future decades of our lives – and the lives of those we love so fiercely. When we take those fateful steps, we feel in the deep silence of our heart, that we have to choose: to be angry, bitter, desperately powerless to change or control what has gone before. Physicist Stephen Hawking who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his twenties believes. He once told the New York Times, “my expectations were reduced to zero when I was twenty-one. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

73859.ngsversion.1466467572965.adapt.1190.1The Sun moves into the sign of Libra on September 23rd, marking the Autumn or the Spring Equinox. The turning of the Great Wheel of the Year. The Scales of Balance are poised. Compromise or polarisation. Quiet desperation or the grace to remember that this is precisely what we have come here to do. In scales of Libra we hold the tension of opposites. Light and shadow. The paradox of our humanness in the eye of the storm.

Rivers Dark 3Richard Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche, writes, “Our time is pervaded by a great paradox. On the one hand, we see signs of an unprecedented level of engaged global awareness, moral sensitivity to the human and non-human community, psychological self-awareness, and spiritually informed philosophical pluralism. On the other hand, we confront the most critical, and in some respects catastrophic, state of the Earth in human history. Both these conditions have emerged directly from the modern age, whose light and shadow consequences now affect every part of the planet.”

63782.ngsversion.1467253445414.adapt.1190.1Pollyanna is a virtuoso at making deliciously sweet lemonade from the tart lemons in her life. She adroitly gathers comfort and joy from the shards of pain and misfortune. And she is skilled at playing The Glad Game. The rules are simple: find something to be glad about in every circumstance of your life. She’s a waltzing in the moonlight Libran as she gazes about her, finding beauty in the world she sees.

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.

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.

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.”

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. 71645.ngsversion.1467253694265.adapt.1190.1

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boy 5

Boy In The Bubble

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Climate change. Like a repetitive drum-roll, we’ve heard the apocalyptic refrain before. As ancient glaciers disappear, polar bears drown, rivers run dry and dust bowls fill deforested wastelands, impotent politicians sit around conference tables in expensive hotels, unwilling or unable to do what needs to be done.

Not everyone agrees that global warming, extreme weather, mass extinctions, or a shrinking ice caps are “bad” things. Seas filled with plastic and burning forests are commercial opportunities for big businesses.

The planetary archetypes reflect the imbalance and discord in our world. At the time of the 2004 Tsunami off the west coast of Sumatra, the devastating Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and the Wenchuan Great Earthquake in May 2008, Eris and Jupiter were in tense aspects. Now, Eris is conjunct Uranus and in  opposition to Jupiter. Hurricane Irma hurtles up the west coast of Florida and bears down on the city of Tampa. These tense planetary aspects are magnified in global events. Some would suggest the retaliatory reaction of Nature as she destroys human settlements are reflected in the extreme weather of climate change. In our personal lives, there might be a sense of imbalance, discord, or an awareness of the extreme injustice in the world order as we resonate with these powerful energies.

MV5BMTY2NDg4NTI0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODczNDQ1MDI@._V1_SY1000_SX1600_AL_This month (September 28th, 2017) is the last of the three Uranus-Jupiter oppositions (26th December 2016 and 2nd March 2017) and Eris protests angrily.

The archetypal symbolism of the outer planets carry a potent message for humanity if we take the time required to bring these energies into consciousness. The Uranian archetype relates to the rebel who overturns the status quo, it’s associated with creative intuition and innovation that ruptures the barrier of what is known, it’s a shock wave of Promethean energy that propels us towards freedom from those things that limit or restrict this need for change and liberation. So, when Uranus is in conversation with Jupiter, the planet of expansion and grandiosity, expect a restless, highly charged energy. We may experience those clichéd  “eureka” moments that break us open, alter our direction, or a paralysed neurosis, an immobilising overwhelm if we resist the call.

boy 10As “the wrath of nature” pounds America’s coastline, the alignment of planets in Virgo and Neptune and Chiron in compassionate Pisces, suggest there will be a healing in this ferocious release of energy—generosity of spirit, heartfelt outpouring of love and empathy, and practical measures to bring relief to the people and animals swept up in this catastrophe.

What can we do in the face of the hubris of  big business and governments? Like the Little Match Girl, we strike our flimsy matches: We add our protest to an Avaaz.org petition. We plant a tree, walk to work, sell the car, buy a bike, install solar panels and eat organic. We do what we can as concerned citizens, walking through the ethically “correct” minefield littered with plastic bags versus jute.

Perhaps we must question our motives. Be wary of a fear-based resonance that vibrates in the belief that the world is sick and dying, or a need to feel pure, worthy or good. Polarised thinking is tinder for the bonfires of war.  By staying stuck in the Pain Body, we are part of the problem. By projecting our disowned parts, our shadow onto governments, industrialists, or the dying polar bears, we cling to fear-based thinking.boy 9

Writes spiritual teacher Gill Edwards “if your vibrations hover around self-righteousness you are in fear-mode, so you tend to push against the negative, instead of reaching towards what is positive.”  Perhaps this is just another great evolutionary mass extinction?  Just part of the great cycle of death and re-birth? “Perhaps in the world’s destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made,” writes author Cormac McCarthy.

boy 7If we use the potent archetypes of Eris, Uranus and Jupiter to expand our awareness; to do our mindful bit for each other and the planet, perhaps only then we will know that we are all part of the Whole. We’re all in this together. The birds, the bees, the great leviathans, the polar bearsand us, wearing our clumsy, hob-nailed boots, searching for Hope as she flies from Pandora’s gaping box. 

“These are the days of miracle and wonder and don’t cry baby, don’t cry, don’t cry…”

Paul Simon’s Boy In The Bubble.

Songwriters: SIMON, PAUL / MOTLHOHELOA, FORERE

 

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Fiery Heart, Fiery Mind

4a558f532946deea0def5b3f21d13c37“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  Feeling good about ourselves despite our age, the girth of our waist, the wrinkles on our skin and owning the right to be joy-filled, whether we’re single or coupled, is something the self-help movement has focused upon for several decades now. But for most of us in work-addicted societies, play and pleasure are something we do by proxy. We fall into a trance of forgetfulness, our butterfly joy caught in the heavy net of seriousness and grown-up responsibility. In the busyness of living out the days and the months and the years we somehow become reactive rather than reflective to the myriad pleasures that life offers.

In September, 2015, Saturn, Lord of Time, moved into the zone of the zodiac we call Sagittarius, a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter (the sky god Zeus in the Greek pantheon) building thematically from the past when Saturn moved through Scorpio …. and anticipating the future when Saturn ingresses into Capricorn in December 2017.db08bd309e1411304fc31f3d494622c7

 

Now, Saturn is in Retrograde (6th April to 25th August) tempering the extroverted energy of the Sagittarius, drawing up those deeply buried inner doubts and secreted fears. Saturn is associated with melancholia, that sombre mood that was once honoured and even cultivated, as a quality of mind that was  the essence of deep and powerful thought.  In astrology, Saturn rules the bones and the skin and is associated with the inevitable process of time and  ageing. So it comes as no surprise now that the Baby Boomers are fixated on healthy ageing and in a Puritan Western culture, learning how to give themselves permission to receive pleasure and to play.

cbb10368c7d733d02c27b0bcd9eaa63eThe ageing Dr Christiane Northrup’s offering, despite its trite and erroneous title, Goddesses Never Age ( oh yes they do! ) is based partly on her own experience with milestone birthdays and her own experiences of ageism. She warns against pigeonholing ourselves and evaluating people on their chronological age. “There’s a vital life force within each one of us that is ageless.”

Her new book borrows from the work of Dr Mario Martinez, author of The Mind Body Code  who writes, “Getting older is inevitable, ageing is optional.”

 “We don’t have to die with oxygen cannulas stuck up our noses. We should all be aiming for a happy healthy death.” Martinez studied 400 healthy centenarians and found that they usually died in one of three ways: falling off a horse, having sex, or in their sleep. He discovered that healthy centenarians seem to like to live independently, indulge in many rituals of pleasure, they are future orientated and did not want to be around old people.

8c6d7a425306e8881102c87d80809595Saturn’s journey through this mutable fire sign is epitomised by the image of flame and heat.

In her brilliant TED talk,  based on her memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun and Be Your Own Person  Shona describes the burning of those who fly too close to the Sun and are consumed like moths in the brilliance of the flame of their own relentlessly driven creative genius. Saturn’s sojourn in Sagittarius reminds us that we are mortals who must replenish ourselves, like the other intelligent creatures that share this earth, with frequent delight and pleasure. “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair,” wrote Khalil Gibran.

Saturn is about boundaries. About Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway, as psychologist Susan Jeffers admonishes us to do. Saturn is the Guardian of the Threshold. We meet Saturn when we acknowledge our limitations. When we accept the necessity of ageing and death. In his poignant memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, 36 year old neurosurgeon Paul  Kalanithi traverses the road to death and describes the terrain. He writes, “The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present.”  

Saturn in fiery Sagittarius is not an intellectual type of energy. It’s passion, intuitive understanding.  It’s about re-discovering our delight in play and finding our corseted free spirit, and setting her free!

d6826532994c8b797bf0cbf22e6972f0Alice Phoebe Lou – Fiery Heart, Fiery Mind“

Like the genes in our body the astrological signs are indicators of the direction in which we may choose to travel this life time. We are a microcosm of a magnificent universal macrocosm. Our horoscope shows the exact position of the sun at the time of our birth and points the way, much like a celestial GPS to find out more about your own birth chart or experience  my next workshop, please write to me: ingrid@trueheartwork.com

 

 

 

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By your Side

By Your Side

 

By your Side 2Plato said that Love is a kind of madness. I imagine he was describing the heated arc of light that wraps its comet’s tail around our heart when we tumble into Love. That ferocious Love that ambushes us, unbuttons and unbolts us, throws us on the floor. It’s in a Love like this that we drink from the elixir of youth. It’s in a Love like this that we are re-birthed in the font of forgetfulness, swaddled in the white robes of Hope. It’s in a Love like this we become adolescents, young and energetic again, despite our age. It’s in Plato’s kind of Love, that we’re radiant, filled with the sweet green sap of confidence. Utterly mad.

In our fast food culture, we expect instant gratification. Yet, like the weather, the outcome of our quest for Love is hard to predict or even to define with any certainty. Qualities like devotion, allegiance, dedication and loyalty, are often shadowed by a sense of what’s in it for me? And we find, to our disappointment, that it’s hard to give and receive Love that lasts.

Our definition of relationship has shape shifted in the twentieth century.  We can love, but never live together. We can uncouple, and still remain good friends, co-parent our children across continents.  We can enter into a spiritual partnership with the intention to use our relationship as an incubator for our own spiritual growth and self-awareness. We can fall in love with the same person over and over again as our relationship cycles through the Life-death-rebirth spiral.

By your Side 4Our Love relationships may require periods of spaciousness, solitude, emotional or physical distance. They may demand acceptance of the aberrations, a baring of warts and all kinds of foul-smelling bits. Our relationship may end in literal form and yet continue in our dreams, in the fragments of memory that float like dust motes across the lyrics of a song.

Relationships are supposed to deliver love and happiness…aren’t they? Yet over the years, the Love that settles into the sofa near the fireplace, the Love that parents children, moves to a new home, euthanizes the family dog, visits the bedside of a dying parent, is a Love that is so often is tinged with sadness or disappointment. It’s a Love that lies forgotten, rusted, tarnished by years of neglect. “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin.

By your Side 23There’s a nobility in loving despite fortune and circumstance. It takes courage to reclaim disowned feelings, modify behaviours that wound and flay. It takes courage to revision our own life and take back the projections so easily screened onto someone else’s life—“she has too many issues”, “he cannot do emotions”, or the classic cop out—I’m not “in love with him anymore”. Love is a paradox, a labyrinth where we may meet the Beast in the centre.

There’s nothing glamourous about resurrecting Love. There’s nothing glamourous about starting over, fixing the cracks, battling the urge to run. There’s nothing easy about reassembling those parts of yourself that you have hidden away for so many years. There is nothing as painful than repairing a heart that has been broken. The pathologies of love are portals into a rich landscape of vibrant colour where the soul can spread wings of splendorous colour. Re-pair, healing, forgiveness so often take time.  But perhaps we can leave behind the notion of work and repair. Perhaps we can replace our Puritan work ethic, our stoic fortitude, with a stillness that comes from some immensely powerful immutable loyalty to the sacred space in-between our relationship.

By your Side 3Robert Frost wrote in his glorious poem “the best way out is always through…”  And, as we prepare to engage our energies for the long haul, as we clear away the thorny brambles that obstruct our path, our hands will bleed and we may thirst for something sweeter, cooler, easier. Our impatience will be tested. We will become discouraged and disheartened. And yet, when we stop looking for the epiphany, we may feel that with each new day, with each new awakening, with each new stumble, we are moving a little closer.

Freud believed that Love involved a transference of our early childhood and family relationships to the preset relationship. That our parents and our siblings influence the way we love, and that when we love, we stir memories and images of an older love.

8bc293e23a0ea66c67e149e4111f7fefWhen we fall into Love, we fall into the imagination. Modern psychology echoes this belief and scientific research now “proves” that our nervous systems are not self-contained.

Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon write in their collaborative A General Theory of Love“from earliest childhood, our brains actually link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that alters the very structure of our brains, establishes life-long emotional patterns, and makes us, in large part, who we are.”

We can reduce Love to synapse connections and scientific observation, and yet Love, in all its permutations remains a Mystery, a Many Splendoured Thing.

In the 13th Century Rumi knew that “both light and shadow are the dance of Love. Love has no cause, it is the astrolabe of God’s secrets” …

We are relational beings. The plethora of new apps on the market are driven by our need to connect with one another. To talk, to tell our stories, to listen and to be heard. In our so often over-whelmed, over-committed lives, apps and social networking sites offer a substitute for the soft eyes and tender touch of a lover. Touch sensors in paired devices allow wearers to “feel” one another wherever they are in the world. Androids and operating systems simulate “reality”, yet may still lead us through Love’s labyrinth, where we must take the final turn in the pathway and find that it is our Self we meet bare-faced, soul naked without the artifice of appeasing smiles, without the heavy jacket of excuses we have worn for so many long years. In the kind of Love that’s made and re-made, we embrace all our human foibles. And we celebrate our very human longing to be seen and accepted, just the way we are. By your Side 100

Sade—By Your Side

Upcoming: Bonded by Blood. The Astrology of Siblings. Cape Town, July 22nd 2017. 

Please email: ingrid@trueheartwork.com for more details.

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How Long Will You Love Me?

cake-2082939__480Today we casually or consciously un-couple. Today our friends have benefits and Tinder is our one-stop 24-7, pocket-sized convenience store for regret-free hook-ups with just one swipe. Ours is a Supernova Consumer Culture where our Perfectmatch.com relationships have short sell-by dates.

Over the past 60 years, nothing and everything has changed. We live in what Marshall McLuhan prophetically called “a global village”. Social and cultural forces have intruded into our intimate relationships. Antibiotics and contraception which have liberated sex from its reproductive function. Women have claimed hard won political power, kudos to the Womens’ Movement. The Gay Movement has made sexuality an issue of identity. Technology has changed the way we date and mate. Love takes on new meaning.

“If monogamy was one person for life, today monogamy is one person at a time,” says psychology’s Super Star, Baby Boomer Esther Perel. “We have left our villages. We have travelled to the cities. We are free, no longer bound by tribal strictures and rituals of continuity and belonging. Now we are more alone than ever. ”

Nothing is the way it used to be – or is it?kuala-lumpur-170985__340

In the astrology, the long outer planet transits define generations and each generation leaves a legacy for the next one. Sociologists and demographers appear to differ on the actual dates but a broad-brush stroke will give a general cultural theme, of course which applies to the self-absorbed, affluent West, not those living in the slums of Brazil or Nairobi. Pluto, like all the planets, is a celestial mirror to the interests, obsessions, and legacy of each generation born then.  Pluto takes between ten and twenty years to transit through each sign of the zodiac.  Pluto was in Cancer from 1913 to 1938 and it was this generation that endured the Great Depression, futility of two World Wars, the Holocaust. This generation experienced displacement, destruction, starvation and death.  They sought security, a place of belonging, they focused on home. They had white picket fences and somewhere over the rainbow they believed they could see the alluring glimmer of The American Dream.

rock-concertPluto’s transit through Leo between 1937-1958 produced the narcissistic “Me Generation” and as each new generation pushes against the ignorance and excesses of the previous one. The Divine Child (or spoilt brat) rebelled against his staid Cancerian Parents. This is the generation that has destroyed vast tracts of pristine forest and coastline to erect golf courses and holiday resorts or set off to “find themselves”. This is the generation of the hedonistic “Rock Star” and the individual who spends years lying on the therapist’s couch talking about his unhappy childhood. This is the generation obsessed with staying forever young. This is the generation that divorces because they deserve to be happy! Baby Boomer, and author of the bestselling, Something More, Sarah Ban Breathnach says it all: “Do I deserve to be happy? Damn right I do. Am I ever going to be unhappy again? Not if I can help it.” … now you can reshape, reclaim and recreate the world in our own image.”

baby boomers 1Divorce is The Boomers’ legacy. And even in mid and late life this star-dust golden generation makes it up as they go along.

Teacher and author, Caroline Myss proposes that beneath this sense of entitlement to happiness, this naiveté coupled with the Boomer’s intense interest in all things “spiritual” is a child-like notion that being “conscious” or “spiritual” will bring an end to all things “bad”.  And when things get bad we leave. American sociologist and sexologist and Boomer Pepper Schwartz writes that “Me Generation” Baby Boomers’ obsession with individual identity and creative self-expression makes us the most divorce-prone generation group.

For the ancient Greeks, happiness meant Virtue. For the Romans, it was Divine Favour. For the Christians, it was the after-life.

“It’s only within the past two hundred years that human beings have begun to think of happiness as not just an earthly possibility but also as an earthly entitlement, even an obligation, writes historian Darrin M. McMahon in Happiness: A History. 

Esther Perel describes how over the years she has observed a progression of three types of marriages: the traditional marriage which is family-centric. The romantic marriage which is couple-centric. The millennial marriage which is child-centric and HIP – High Investment Parenting. And yet, definitions, like statistics are fuzzy around the edges. Globalisation makes it possible to have a traditional marriage in New York, a romantic marriage in Pakistan and a millennial marriage in South Africa.

 As Boomers age, more than a third of Boomers (if you believe the stats) are single in the US. Manweddings 3y opt for a LAT arrangement – Living Alone Together – with partners they may despise at worse or tolerate at best.

And yet it’s generally known that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger has overseen a long-term study on adult development and come up with the hardly startling discovery that high conflict relationships are bad for our health. “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships in their 50s were the healthiest in their 80s. Good relationships protect our bodies and our brains.” Despite our most strenuous efforts to soften the edges of ageing and prolong our lives, there’s only time for Love.  In a letter to Clara Spaulding, 20 August 1886 Mark Twain (Pluto in Aries) wrote “ There isn’t time—so brief is life— for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”

Whether we’re Boomers or Gen X, Pluto in Virgo Group 1957-1972, Pluto in Libra 1971-1984, or Pluto in Scorpio 1983-1995, all our relationships, even those that involve brief genital stimulation, require us to grow from narcissistic children into adults. We choose to love. We choose to be happy. We choose to forgive. And if we are brave enough we un-couple with kindness and gratitude for all the milestones, all the tears and the laughter we shared together over the long years.

Inge (Ursula Werner) and Karl (Horst Westphal)

Like the genes in our body the astrological signs are indicators of the direction in which we may choose to travel this life time. We are a microcosm of a magnificent universal macrocosm. Our horoscope shows the exact position of the sun at the time of our birth and points the way, much like a celestial GPS to find out more about your own birth chart or experience  my next workshop, please Email: Ingrid@trueheartwork.com to find out more.

Video: How long will I love you – Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Coleman

 

 

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