TrueHeartWork | Mercury Retrograde
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Mercury Retrograde Tag

Heart and soul 10

Heart and Soul—Leo New Moon/Solar Eclipse—August 11th

Heart 10Here is my secret. It is very simple:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;

What is essential is invisible to the eye—The Little Prince.

So many of us are sailing across the rivers dark of change and uncertainty at this time in our collective evolution. England and America are in the throes of Pluto transits. The fabled “American Dream” has long faded. Britain is befuddled and confused and in South Africa, stars hide their fires…as the death of the  23-year-old law student, Khensani Maseko  brings the inconvenient truth of campus rape to the forefront.

We’re in eclipse season. On Saturday, as the New Moon travels between the Earth and the Sun, darkening the Sun’s brilliance. This symbolism is made all the more poignant in a culture where the brilliance of externalised power and earthly matters command the spotlight in 24-hour news loops and on social media.

New Moons signify new beginnings, though we may not be able to see just what they are until the Moon is ripe and full. Eclipses amplify and intensify energy, acting as focal points, decision-makers, game changers.

Though the energy of an eclipse can lingers for two weeks before and after the event. If we have planets at 18 or 19 degrees of a fixed sign, astrologer, Bernadette Brady suggests this solar eclipse (Saros Series 2 New North) may initiate sudden collapse of plans for life-styles. Confusion may reign, but the long-term effects are those of rebuilding and transformation. After the dust has settled, the rebuilding stars and the consequences of this reshaping will have far-reaching effects. This eclipse family changes a person’s direction through the sudden collapse of an existing structure.”

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This eclipse is a high-intensity New Moon. The Sun and Moon are in a separating square to Jupiter in Scorpio and applying quincunx to Pluto on Saturday, amplifying the finality of endings; fertilising a new cycle of growth with the dust of demolition. Mercury is Retrograde, (July 26th to August 20th) intensifying the Archetype of The Trickster—The Magician—a reminder that our thoughts and words carry a charge of energy. Mercury conjoins Saturday’s eclipse. A cosmic reminder that whatever is changing, whatever is imploding in our lives, or in the world around us, now is the time to dare to practice some “magical thinking”. To remind ourselves (again) that we are what we think, and that we choose the thoughts we think, each day. This eclipse also semi-squares Venus in Libra, accenting our  relationships, and what we hold dear to our hearts. Leo is a fire sign, and the element of fire is associated with vision, with passion and warmth. Old-fashioned qualities of loyalty, chivalry and valour are associated with Leo.

 

This is the penultimate eclipse in the Leo/Aquarius axis. Another gossamer thread on the cosmic loom.  Leo (self-expression and our own sense of uniqueness) and Aquarius (tribal mind, what the group demands as opposed to our individual needs) are both fixed signs, so there is definitive flavour about the interwoven eclipses that followed the much-heralded “Great American Eclipse” of August 21st, 2017 at 28 degrees Leo. The archetype of Leo is associated with the heart, with the courage it takes to expand our understanding of what it is to be human.

Reflect on the motifs of our lives since last August. Where were we back then? Where are we now? How far have we traveled?  If we attune to the energy of this eclipse, and the symbolism of this potent New Moon, we may allow our passion to stir, re-kindle a sense of purpose, strengthen our resolve in making those changes we have dreaded, resisted, for so long now. 280054adda70922999966e90ebdf6c74

The thread so far this year has been a Total Lunar Eclipse on January 31st at 11 degrees Leo, the partial Solar Eclipse the day after Valentine’s Day at 27 degrees Aquarius, the Total Lunar Eclipse on July 27th at 4 degrees Aquarius, culminating in the Total Lunar Eclipse next year on January 21st at 00 degrees Leo. Milestones, turning points, beginnings of new cycles.

We’ll need courage to sift through emotional and mental flotsam—vigilance to discern the difference between our own narratives and those voices that may still hold authority over us. The real spiritual journey is ongoing. The symbolism of astrology offers us the gift of inner sight on our heroine’s journey. And as we feel our way through these dark days wholeheartedly, and take that Leap of Faith. At this New Moon, may we honour that part of ourselves that is our Essential Beauty, may we disarm, remove the mask, shrug off the stories we tell ourselves about our age, our body, the mistakes we have made, and simply honour our true purpose. Love.

 

 

For private astrology readings and forthcoming workshops for women, please email ingrid@trueheartwork.com

 

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Lionheart—Sun in Leo 22nd July—23rd August

Sun in Leo 5

It’s a funny thing about life.

If you refuse to settle for anything less than the best, that’s what it will give you—W. Somerset Maugham.

Passion lifts us on the thermal of those before-and-after choices that change the trajectory of our lives. When passion enters, pressing itself, hot and urgent against those places we haven’t touched in years, we remember our wings, and we soar.

As leaders of nations distract us with  displays of crass grandiosity, as economies and social structures are dismembered, we journey around the archetypal wheel of the zodiac to encounter what has  churned, sea-smoothed and sculptured, beneath the reflective waters of Cancer.

Amidst  ideological rhetoric and comatose decision-making, the transits of the outer planets draw out the sepsis from society. The archetypes of Pluto and Saturn in Capricorn continue to draw up all that is rotten to the surface of patriarchy. Our role models and leaders reflect our own greed, arrogance and bigotry. The dispassionate sky-god Uranus, promises the “perfect society”, and things fall apart.

The Sun moves into Leo on Sunday, offering the gift of optimism and vitality. Leo encapsulates passion, creativity, and spontaneity. Leo’s quest is courage.

Leo is associated with the heart—le coeur. That sacred repository of joy that contains the delicious delight, the audacious longing that emboldens us to rise up strong. Old astrologers link Leo royalty. With Sun kings, with leaders of nations and performers—Leo is the rock star of the zodiac—egoistic, charismatic, and commanding. I would associate Leo with the Divine Child, spontaneous, engaged in pleasure and play, fully alive. When the Sun is in Leo, our Camino is the way of  wholehearted self-expression and joy.

Leo 3

The archetype of Leo reminds us that every experience has the potential to rouse us to passion and purpose, that it’s laughter and creativity that sweeten the heroine’s journey. That lions spend most of their time sleeping, and a good night’s sleep will do much to  ease our stretched-out-frazzled nerves. That laughter and play thaw the frozen terror and passion  immolates the sinuous coil of fear in our belly.

This month is flanked by two eclipses—the Cancer New Moon Partial Solar Eclipse on July 13th brushed the Sun, with a top note of intensity that may be illuminated by the Total Lunar Eclipse and  Aquarius Full Moon Solar Eclipse,  on July 27th.

Lunar Eclipses draw us into the instinctual realm of “gut feel”. They stir primordial energy. Solar Eclipses feel external, they cast a spotlight on global events and personal issues. We may experience hardship and enormous tension— or  the release of suppressed energy in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption in our lives.

Leo Cara_Delevigne-1

Eclipses have importance in terms of world events. The partial solar eclipse was a preview to what will unfold from January 6th 2019—a cluster of eclipses in the Capricorn/Cancer polarity. July’s Partial Solar Eclipse fell on the moon of the UK chart, emphasising survival and safety. It coincided with Donald Trump’s visit to the UK.

Bernadette Brady writes of the July 13th eclipse (Saros Series 2 North) “if this family of eclipses affects a chart, the person will experience the sudden collapse of plans or life-styles… after the dust has settled, the rebuilding starts, and the consequences of this reshaping will have far-reaching effects. This eclipse family changes a person’s direction through the sudden collapse of an existing structure.”

Eclipses, even if they don’t spotlight any personal planets in our birth charts or in the charts of our relationships, highlight motifs, offer opportunities for re-calibration. They’re guide posts. Points of reference. cat leo sun

Reflect back to the much-heralded solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017 at 28 degrees Leo. Again the Leo/Aquarius axis was accented as the players on the political stage  performed their macabre roles like players in an Elizabethan Revenge Drama. There’s another eclipse on the Aquarius/Leo axis on August 11th at 18 degrees Leo and the final eclipse in this Leo/Aquarius family on January 21st, 2019 at 00 degrees Leouncompromising grandiosity, puffed up pride and arrogance, drama, hot-headed ideology, as naked Emperors strutand the counterpointcourage, spontaneity, and ability to be Present.

Mercury goes Retrograde on July 26th, at 23 degrees Leo, a harbinger of the full moon lunar eclipse on 27 July 2018 which falls at 4 degrees Aquarius,  making a striking T-square with Mars square Uranus. She nestles between Mars Retrograde and the South Node in Aquarius, like a poultice on a wound, bringing things to the surface, marking a completion, illuminating personal and world events in a dramatic and disruptive manner. Both Mars and the South Node bring a sense of severance, purifying, separating, purging. Mars is the surgeon’s knife that cuts, accelerating new growth and healing. Mars is also the war-lord’s sword that maims and destroys.

Sun in Leo 2In the cutting loose, the withdrawal from the brouhaha of the dramatics of politics, we’re invited to take centre stage in our own lives. To be loyal and steadfast to our own performance and to  abandon ourselves to our own unique passion that transcends the petty actions of the bit players who enter and leave through the sliding doors of political office. To adorn our heart’s desire with the deep, enduring energy that infuses all life.

I offer astrology readings and workshops for women, and post regular updates on Facebook. Please contact me ingrid@trueheartwork.com

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours—Ayn Rand.

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Lion 3

The Lion’s Roar

Lion's Roar 7They get what they want when they want it. They’re the Teflon-coated crazy-makers that disarm, dismantle, disrupt our lives with alacrity, leaving us dumbstruck, disarrayed. They stand in the spotlight, centre stage—lovers, gurus, bosses, Presidents, CEOs. They’re the family member who takes the last slice of chocolate cake and puts their shiny black shoes on the new white sofa.

In the world around us now we might despise and deplore The Bully and his shadowy twin, The Coward. Grandiosity is pandemic. We may meet Grandiosity face-to-face when we tumble into love with someone who appears to have all the power. Or we may discover, to our remorse and utter dismay, that it’s our own Bully or Coward that’s a precious Angel come to remind us of that place within us that is out of balance—like that supermarket trolley with wobbly wheels.

butterflies on croc

Grandiosity is The Emperor or Empress who wears the crown of contempt, the regalia of superiority and trails behind them the odorous detritus that soils the relational space in our homes, in our communities and between nations.

Entitlement is Grandiosity’s  terrible twin. They’re the orphaned children of Shame.  Says psychologist, Terry Real, “grandiose people cause pain and trouble for everyone around them.”  They leave an odour that lingers long after they’ve gone. Neurobiologically, we’re all wired for connection. And yet, we speak the language of disconnection and pain—when we speak about love we speak about broken hearts. When we speak about nations we speak about them and us.

Grandiosity is an adaptation, a suit of armour, that hides a small child who is longing to be loved, longing for connection.  Says researcher and author Brené Brown, “shame is easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?”

Says Real, “and, like many guys, you have about a millisecond’s tolerance for that shame, so you bounce right up into what we call grandiosity. You go from feeling less-than to feeling better than, from dominated to dominator, from feeling victimized to attacking. We call this ‘offending from the victim position: hit me and I’ll kick your face in.’” 

Stand by me 3In our battle against Grandiosity and Shame we embark upon a hero’s quest. And heroic quests require fire-breathing dragons to slay. Astrologically, this month’s dragon may be our humourless rigidity in the face of changing our behaviour in some way.  Saturn, now Retrograde (April 6th August 25th ), may collude to bring out our Shadow—that leaden resistance to change, that chilly aversion to being vulnerable, “needy”, or “weak”. Saturn has regressed just as we may regress behind those barriers and boundaries that keep us stuck in our own narrative of shame, lack and scarcity.

In myth, Saturn is the chthonic Earth god who swallowed his own children. So, be curious. What is it that we fear? Where are we mired, stuck, rigid, resisting the dare to deliver a new aspect of ourselves into the world? Saturn issues are boundary (and fear) issues in modern psychology. Where are we seduced by the fervour and drama of the tribal mind? Where does the collective narrative fit neatly into the small prism of our prejudice? Does fear of the future weigh heavily on our heart? Are we staying constricted (within the rings of Saturn) or are we talking in the language of Abundance and Love?

Trojan Horses 7Venus-Saturn are in a tense relationship (square from April 8th to 23rd) which will bring up any residue of unconscious, unprocessed, unmet needs in our personal relationships, and most certainly this energy will ripple out into the collective. Saturn Retrograde cycles are a metaphor for attempting to preserve the status quo, thwarting the natural evolution of things (remember Venus Rx is about changing the status quo right now!) and so we will see a clash of these two celestial bodies this month. Saturn wanting to hold back time, stay pregnant with his swallowed children, constructing unnecessary walls and barriers, a chilly reserve, a stubborn refusal to change. Traditionally Saturn aligns with the Masculine function. Venus is aligned with the Feminine. When the Masculine impregnates the Feminine, a new creative energy is born.

63712.ngsversion.1466467229375.adapt.1190.1Venus-Saturn aspects are aspects that require maturity, hard work and determination. Very often, an acceptance of limitations, boundaries, and the necessity of making watershed changes in our lives.

Venus in Pisces is exulted, empowered, radiant, and boundlessly compassionate. So, we do have a creative way through. We can take this celestial opportunity to draw from the depths of the unconscious those fractured parts of ourselves. We can loosen defensive patterns, bring our vision into manifestation, with soft eyes and open hearts. Venus in Pisces is about reaching for the very best part of ourselves to gift the world with those small, unremarkable acts of kindness and charity that dart into the darkness like fireflies, resplendent and luminous.

ammaChiron is pulled into this challenging aspect with Saturn too (April 6th to 24th), so even though we might feel battle weary, out of kilter, this is about staying open-hearted as we stand at the very edge of enormous global and personal change. Writes psychologist and author, Sharon Blackie, in her superb offering, If Women Rose Rooted,  “It takes enormous courage to bring our Feminine and Masculine energy back into balance, to integrate and harmonise our instinctual, feeling, relational heart and soul with the active, rational, goal-orientated intellect and spirit. And yet, harmonising of the energies within ourselves, this appreciation of what should be cherished and valued in both the archetypal feminine and the archetypal masculine, is a prerequisite for the work of restoring balance to an outer world which has lost its equilibrium.”

And when we have opened our hearts and emptied our minds, we may begin to discover an aquifer of liquid Love that spills out, bringing life-giving new growth to our relationship with ourselves and with those around us.

Elizabeth Lesser writes, “it’s not always about survival, this life we are given. It’s usually so much easier than that. It’s about trusting the eternal life force that’s flowing within us, letting that force lead the way through all of the inevitable changes we will face across the span of our time here on Earth.”Lion's Roar 3

 

 

The Moon, Mother and Me—workshops for women, May 13th and August 19th, Cape Town. Please email ingrid@trueheartwork.com

First Aid Kit

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maa-kali1

You Want It Darker

darker-1The New Year stretches and yawns from the crumpled wrappings of the festive season. The old is not yet old enough to be forgotten. The new is not yet quite born. There’s a certain quality about this threshold time, coloured by our hopes and dreams; our resolutions to emerge into life in a new way.

There’s an edginess in the zeitgeist now. The sound of thunder as dark clouds gather across nations at this time of jagged transition. The old ways have led us to the gaping maw of the destruction of habitats and species that is now probably irreversible.  Our appointed leaders seem incapable of  making the changes to policies despite petitions, pleas and protests. Civil disobedience seems the only option. Spiritual teacher, Andrew Harvey writes,“ the future of the world depends on the full restoration of the Sacred Feminine in all its tenderness, passion, divine ferocity, and surrendered persistence.” But what does that really mean to the billions of people who live their lives in sound bites, plugged in, plugged out?

standing-rockIn a superbly written post, Vera de Chalambert writes “As the spirit of the Dark Mother hovers upon the collective waters, she has much to teach us. Kali is the great protectress and ultimate sacred activist. She is standing at Standing Rock, roaring against the black snake and the abuses of corporate capitalism. She is marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

She is here mourning the dying out of species and showing her terrible tongue at the shocking xenophobic, nationalist regressionism swallowing the planet. She is the changing of the tides, and she meaphotograph-by-brent-stirton-national-geographicns business. She has come to burn up the old paradigm of separation and transfigure the collective heart.

Scientists tell us we live amidst the 6th extinction. Every 20 minutes, another species disappears from our planet. Our oceans are dying, our rivers are burning. Kali beckons us to embrace our sacred fury and let our heart roar for all living beings. Like her, we must rise as protectors, else perish as fools. She knows that we belong to each other and share one fate.”

Kali, the Dark Goddess is the giver and taker of Life. Hekate, the Dark Goddess, who stands at the crossroads. Hel, Ereshkigal, the Black Madonna, Sara-la-Kali, the Morrigan, the Badb, the Cailleach Bheur, Sheela na Gig, Divine Rotting Hags. Dark Goddess all.8b41931fd79ddf7540a720e1db1c247d

I associate Pluto with the Dark Goddess – a female deity of the Underworld; I do see this as a Dark Time, part of a cycle that will be unsettling, disruptive and as necessary and as inevitable as the winter that comes before the spring.  Jupiter opposes Uranus—December 2016, March 2017 and September 2017— a wake-up call, shaking things up, bringing unexpected shocks, sudden change for us collectively as well as personally. Mercury turned Retrograde on December 19th when the US electoral college certified Donald Trump as the 45th president, a regressive turn of events? An opportunity to look within at our own prejudices, our own wasteful consumerism and exploitation?

We all collectively influence the uni-verse at a very deep level. The energy of the planets is never external. They are celestial mirrors. Our politicians are simply playing their part, speeding things along. On January 20th, Trump is sworn in as President when Saturn squares Mars (traditionally associated with strife and conflict, accidents and injury) and the expansive Jupiter/Uranus opposition is still in force, so the pace quickens, tension rises, a clarion call. This aspect suggests a theme of polarisation, the die is cast—losses and gains.

darker-8 Back in the 1930s, a Pluto/Uranus square brought social and economic crisis and the world went to war. The Pluto/Uranus conjunction of the 1960s brought the innocent idealism and light of the Counter Culture Movement, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the deadly herbicide agent Orange in Vietnam, the system of apartheid in South Africa. As Pluto and Uranus joined forces in a conjunction during that decade, Marshall McLuhan coined the term, “the global village”, The feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s broke down barriers, and the Black Panthers raised their fists for civil rights. Hair became the symbol of freedom and power. From 2007 to 2015, Pluto has been in a tense square aspect to Uranus, a theme that overshadowed global events and will continue to do so over the coming years. If we track the planetary cycles back through his-story, there have been no quick fixes.

We want it darker.

Leonard Cohen, in his final and prophetic album, writes chillingly:

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came… we want it darker.

ff0be5bf172d37e026b0ad0741d06914The issues that were not fully addressed during the 1960s now require our most urgent attention: the age-old issue of war as the only solution to boost capitalism, establish power bases, dominate and subjugate will raise its gory head. Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn suggest that these issues will become increasingly explosive as Pluto squares Jupiter, three times between November 2016 and August 2017.darker-2

 

What the world needs now is a grass-roots movement that is willing to serve in practical ways. The movement seeded in the 1960s by Birkenstock-wearing flower children must now be imbued with the energy of the Dark Goddess with her angry eyes and breasts with nipples of claws. But the old injunction, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth will leave us blinded, toothless. His-story has left a grim and gristly record of the bones of the intelligentsia, writers, artists, and those who dare to speak up against oppression. And yet, as Martin Luther King declared, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

We are not defined by external forces. We are not trapped in our his-story, the purgatory of our tribal mind. We can make new choices, as we we cross this threshold into this new year. Leonard Cohen said, “ To offer oneself at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate. Its only when the emergency becomes articulate can we create the willingness to serve.”

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On January 1st, the Sun will rise again. The moon will cast her silvery light across the contours of our Mother Earth. “The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere, the dew is never all dried at once, a shower is forever falling, vapour ever rising…” wrote the man who inspired a nation and a president to set aside land for the magnificent American national parks, John Muir.

Things may not be solved. But we can offer ourselves. We can serve with strong hearts.

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The Words You Say

Le Pick-Clops, Rue Vielle du Temple, 2011Patience, like Hope and Charity is wrapped in tissue paper, tucked away with moth balls, a quaint echo of days gone by when time seemed to move more slowly.  So when Mercury moves slowly backwards in a Retrograde motion from April 28th to May 23rd in the sign of Taurus, we may feel the need to slow down, wait and reflect on how we choose to use our precious resources of time and energy.

There are four Mercury Retrograde cycles this year. Two in fixed signs and two in mutable signs, each one stitching a thread through the months of our lives. Mercury Retrograde has become synonymous with travel plans going awry, computer glitches, and mis-communication. How we miss each other.

reflectionMercury Retrograde brings an opportunity to confront  the ghosts of the past that shatter safety in our relationships. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is  a term coined by Dr. John Gottman and is relevant now as Mercury moves through the fixed sign of Taurus. The Four Horsemen appear wearing the armour of Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling, trampling trust, crushing the tender roots of love. While most of us lapse into unconscious ways of relating from time to time, healthy relationships are nourished by gentle words and sustained by praise and appreciation.

criticise 2One way of using this Mercury Retrograde cycle constructively might be to re-frame a criticism so that it does not sound personal. So instead of saying, “you always  burn the toast” we might say, “this toaster tends to burn the toast…” Consciously look for something positive and affirming to say that comes from our heart space.

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When we launch a counter defense against a perceived attack or deftly side step owning our part in what went wrong, we get caught in the cross fire that escalates into what the Gottmans call an “unfortunate incident” – vitriolic argument where we throw out words wrapped in venom, in defence of “our truth”  that poke at the hearts of the ones we love. As Mercury moves backwards in the sky, we’re prompted to go back, re-formulate the repetitive stories we tell ourselves about others, the negative audio loops that cycle maddeningly in our heads. Now is time to shift perceptions, process events and excavate buried memories. Good medicine for defensiveness is deep listening and attunement to our partner’s frustration and a courageous attempt to take some action to remedy the situation.

defendOf all the horsemen, contempt is the most lethal. Put-downs and derision flay the skin off trust. Contempt slithers alongside sarcasm and disdain, and coils around any words or behaviours that set us up as being superior in any way to others. So name calling, eye rolling, sneering in disgust will blight the brave bloom of trust and poison Love’s flower.

With Mercury Retrograde, be brave enough to look for things to appreciate and praise about yourself and others.

 

man and woman 10Stonewalling may come in the guise of tuning out, not caring, though mostly it’s a behaviour that happens when the listener is flooded or overwhelmed. Shutting down or actually leaving the room is the only means of escape from anxiety or pain.

Mercury is the mediator, the psychopomp. As the only god who was able to safely travel to the underworld and back again, bringing the nebulous, the subliminal, to our conscious mind, so he is present when we undergo in-depth therapy. Psychologists now acknowledge that all our brain holds memory and that we are not simply brains but have a limbic system too, and energy flows continually through our bodies…we have implicit and explicit memories and an immune system that responds to hate speak on social media and the Four Horsemen that wreck such destruction in our relationships. So over the next weeks,  as Mercury remains, suspended but animated until this cycle reaches its close, we’ll be in a liminal space of  awareness.  Mercury in Taurus shows us where we are stuck and recalcitrant. Where we now need to gently examine our own thoughts and self-righteous beliefs, our desire to impose our world view on others.

Mercury Rx 12Mercury in Taurus reminds us to restrain ourselves before we thrust the horns of our negativity into the heart of another. Patience, Hope and Charity are the emotional vitamins for healthy relationship. So let’s bring our minds to our hearts, allow a non-linear vision to softly emerge from the hidden folds of our psyche into the dazzling Light of  Love.

Top photograph by Peter Turnly

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 to experience a workshop please contact me on : Ingrid@trueheartwork.com

 

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It’s The Little Things

images3FMBX3H7How do we prepare for those things that impale us on the sharp horns of dilemma? The challenges that test our endurance and spiritual mettle? When someone we love is dying. Do we fly across continents to hold their hand? Do we wait and go to their funeral? Do we leave our marriage and hope to find lasting love in the arms of another? Do we resign from our well-paid job and back pack across Asia?

We wouldn’t embark on a trip through the Namib Desert without water. We wouldn’t apply to appear on Survivor without knowing how to light a fire, or volunteer to nurse in Haiti unless we’d honed our nursing skills. And yet blithely we wing our way through relationships, marriages, careers, parenthood and the  process of  ageing and dying, so often with very little competency or application. “Experts” proliferate offering scratching’s of undigested knowledge unseasoned by experience or wisdom – they thrive in a world that venerates the quick fix, the easy answer. Suddenly the wolf is at our door and how he huffs and puffs and blows our straw house down.

 “Sweat the small stuff” says astronaut Chris Hadfield who claims to be annoyingly optimistic and buoyant by nature, but writes eloquently about the power of negative thinking in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. His maxim and one that has saved his life and the lives of crew members, is to anticipate a problem before it becomes a calamity.  “Spend time visualising defeat and figuring out how to prevent it.” His take-action, attend to the details (meticulously over and over again) approach to life is one that pioneers, athletes and those of a competitive nature use to achieve the results they desire. Counterintuitive behaviour, deliberate team work, helping others in competitive situations, learning from mistakes and importantly, seeing criticism (even of the most personal kind) as helpful, are all tactics he uses to perfect performance and cope with the vicissitudes of life.

images6WMFZVJNPreparation for departures and new journeys requires focus.  Contingency plans can reign in wild panic.  The combination of focused thought, visualisation and action can help ease our passage through the stormy waters of change, or bring a sense of personal triumph. When we find ourselves in times of trouble we know how to reach down to that still calm place within. To override the primitive response of our old brain. Like practicing a fire drill, or a resuscitation procedure that stays “in the muscle” of our memory, it helps to have a plan of action, a sequence of events that grounds us in the moment. It helps to find the epicentre of calm amidst calamity.

Mercury travels Retrograde from February6th till the 28th, a cosmic in-breath and a timely reminder to focus on the little things and “be prepared”. Mercury rules  all forms of transport; agreements and all means of communication, especially gossip. It’s domain is business matters, postage, vehicles, mobile phones, cars and computers. So cross the Ts and dot the Is. Back up, re-charge and repair. Attend now to the details we so often brush aside like crumbs as we rush on to the next thing. Practice that Cinderella virtue – patience.

Professor Randy Pausch, in his Last Lecture, delivered  months before he died of cancer, says with lightness and great humour, “Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst case scenario. I call it ‘the eaten by wolves factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.” imagesAW6N17E3

Everything in our magnificent Universe is in constant motion. “Not to decide is to decide. Try not to make choices by default,” says Neale Donald Walsh.

Calm methodical preparation increases our discrimination and tones competency and discernment. “All things are ready, if our mind be so,” the Bard said. So be calm. Make preparations. Envision your journey and be grateful for all the little things that dust our lives with joy.

It’s The Little Things – The Gothard Sisters

Chris Hadfield An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

 

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