Some experiences create a gentle ripple that gently rocks the smooth surface of our lives. Others strike and devastate, leaving us standing in the charred devastation of a world now precarious, darkly uncertain. What is now contained, tagged and labelled as “The Denver Shooting” to describe the unspeakable tragedy that exploded into our consciousness last week, was depicted in the sky script at a time when the Dark Knight, Pluto, in T- square with Uranus and Mars – power, unpredictable, explosive rage, harm to the public, depicted by the Moon trine Uranus, quincunx Chiron, sextile Mars, in the fourth house, the house of endings. *
When I heard the news, I was pinioned to the cliff face of shock and then engulfed by a wave of sorrow – sorrow for those lives touched by the actions of a young man still in the tender budding of his adult life. Sorrow for James Holmes, blinded by the madness of his own rage, his own suffering, his own inexorable compulsion to do what he believed he had to do. What a soul contract. The astrological picture of the event has a sense of fatedness. And in its wake, I have sensed an uneasiness, a sense of collective memory that has been nudged again to remember all the unspeakable acts of horror and violence human beings have perpetrated against each other, animals, and our earth home for centuries. From its dark lair, anxiety yawns and stretches ominously, breathing its fetid breath onto the lives of so many who hold their breath and bow their heads and hurry about their day. Pain lies in stagnant pools that ripple when we receive news that shocks and terrifies, pulling us into the undertow of what spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle has called “the pain body.” And as we resist what is, the slippery stresses of our lives gain momentum, and slither into debilitating anxiety, pessimism, or crippling depression. They become embodied in physical symptoms, as we block the energy flow that may be our ally. We lose our way, and like Dante, find ourselves in exile, utterly alone in the dark woods, where we must face our demons, wandering, wondering, when will this ever end?
The ego sups on man’s madness – and we step towards our predetermined Fate blindfolded – unless we begin to glimpse new possibilities, imagine our way through the dust that obscures, begin to use language that strives to mirror our thoughts. Our soul contract for this lifetime is not a grid of frozen inevitability if we trust our own energy, use our instinct, and evoke our faith to lead us out of the cul-de-sac of fear. I do believe there is a fate that has already been apportioned to us. It is depicted in our birth charts. Yet, when the life of someone we love has been stubbed out, in a cinema, on a motorway, in their own home or office, no spiritual platitudes or intellectual ramblings will remedy our pain – until we are ready to heal the thought that has created the pain. Until we can find meaning in our suffering.
The movie adaptation of the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a modern allegory that deals with the nigredo, the blackness, of grief and loss after the bombings of the Twin Towers. The hero is a nine-year-old boy, Oskar Schell, who tries to make meaning out of the death of his beloved father, whom he believes was one of the many souls who jumped from that towering inferno on that fateful day in September.
In alchemy, Nigredo means putrefaction, decomposition. In astrology, the transit of Pluto can become the pestle and mortar where we are pulverised, where we lie dismembered, in our congealed blood, and where we must piece ourselves together, bone by bone. In fairy tales, the hero encounters characters in the form of old hags, wolves, giants, or dwarves that test and challenge him, but also reward his perseverance and humility with magical assistance. In this deeply moving story, Oskar meets men and women who guide him on his path through the darkness of despair, bringing new insight, and acceptance of that which is incomprehensible, and perhaps always will be. His quest ends with acceptance and a clearing in the darkness of the forest: “So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!”
So in the aftermath of the dark night in Denver, and the collective shock and sorrow; in the murky mists of our personal tragedies, all we can do is to minister to the minutiae of our daily lives, all we can hope to do is to accept the inexplicable, and live in “the now”. All we can do is believe that things are unfolding, exactly as they should, entwining fate, encoded in our DNA, in our birth charts, where there is “a perfect plan” with the choices we make in each moment. All we can do it to trust that there is a mysterious force that will guide us through the dark woods, if we pay attention to the symbols, the metaphors, and look beyond the mechanical Newtonian view of the universe… trust that we are in the perfect time, the perfect place for our soul’s contract. Our soul knows when it is done – our relationships, our work, and when our time has come to leave our body. And then, our clay feet will grow wings to fly above our limited human awareness, as our flawed human hearts stay open to love.
* Paul Saunders gives an intelligent astrological update on the aftermath of the dark night in Denver:
“When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone
I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars…”