TrueHeartWork | Pluto
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Pluto Tag

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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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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.”

amma

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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Photographs by Pierre Carreau

Sacrifice

sacrifice 1Make America Great Again. It’s a call to action that offers the promise of something tangible amidst the vague rhetoric and mud-slinging in America’s House of Cards.  Pluto has been opposing the Sun of the American chart all through 2014 and 2015. The Titan Nation is approaching the end of a cycle with its Pluto Return in 2023/2024 and all that is rotten, untenable for the evolution of America will be pruned over the coming years.

Who will tend to the Garden? To some, Donald Trump’s appeal is crazy. With his fly-away corn-yellow hair secured beneath a baseball cap, the ageing billionaire steps up to the podium and delivers a message that entertains some and baffles others. He’s the Jester, the Comedian, the Wizard of Oz. He offers to a population fed on a banal diet of Reality TV and processed food a message as feel-good as a bucket of KFC. American author, David Eggers, writes, Is it more troubling, or less troubling, knowing that no one in the audience really cares what he says? And could it be that because Trump’s supporters are not all drawn from the lunatic fringe, but in fact represent a broad cross-section of regular people, and far more women than would seem possible or rational, that he could actually win?

For more astrology listen to this week’s podcast:

imagesX0JLUBI0America’s back yard is a tangle of weeds. From the outside looking in, we can glimpse the wood, not the trees.  Neptune and Saturn have been in square aspect since last November. These three squares symbolise what is going on collectively in a world where young men die as they dance and in Europe, refugees in threadbare clothing risk their lives in flimsy boats. The middle square occurred on June 18th when Saturn was at 12 degrees Sagittarius and Neptune at 12 degrees Pisces. Those of us with planets or angles at these degrees will be sensitised to the opposing energies of these two planets as we confront a choice between whether to be in Fear or to have Faith in a world that seems poised on the brink of madness.

The final square will be on the 10th of September this year when both planets are at 10 degrees of their respective signs and it will be interesting to see how things play out on the political stage in November. Saturn calls for realism and practicalities. Neptune reflects a facet of the collective consciousness that calls for some kind of sacrifice. With Neptune there is an irrational emotional identification that sweeps us along in a swirling murmuration. Trump may represent the distracting delight and glamour of Neptune as he says inappropriate things into the microphone and Elton John’s Tiny Dancer heralds his arrival at rallies with lyrics that have absolutely no relevance at all to the gravity of political office.

sacrifice 13Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand…

Trump’ s birth chart resonates with the chart of the USA.  Trump’s Gemini Sun squares Neptune in the US chart and there’s an interesting Mercury Venus/Jupiter/Sun contact. He is a mouth-piece for the collective psyche at this point in American history. The US chart has Sun square Saturn and Trump has Saturn conjunct Venus, a painfully self-deprecating aspect that builds a defense as thick as the soon-to-be-extinct rhino’s hide against rejection, feelings of inadequacy or vulnerability.

Yet, with Saturn-Neptune contacts there tends to be a blind spot which contains the seeds of sacrifice of some kind. If we look back in history to previous Saturn-Neptune contacts there is a sense of a collective sacrifice involved.

Saturn square Neptune in 1909/1910 heralded the Suffragette hunger strikes, the Saturn square Neptune in 1944/1945 birthed the Atomic Bomb and the V1 V2 rockets that reigned terror and destruction on Germany.

In 1963 the square manifested as Vietnam and the Counter Culture. In 1979-1980 we had Thatcher and Reagan and in 1998/1999 the seeds of the Financial crash were sown by the internet stock boom.

Neptune is an outer planet. It’s not personal. Astrologer, Liz Greene once referred to Neptune as death by drowning… an intoxicating woman at gravepull into something bigger than ourselves that envelops us into something that is beyond our individual understanding. The numinous quality of Neptune may draw us into situations where we lose our sense of clarity. We believe the promises of redemption offered by self-appointed Messiahs posing as politicians. And then perhaps these Messiahs themselves must be sacrificed, engulfed in Neptunian waters  to atone, to redeem something deeply off-centre in a world where there is so much polarisation, so much disconnection from Manley’s “ the dearest freshness deep down things.”

sacrifice 2Neptune is the silver screen, the make-believe world of film and television. Neptune may dissolve or distort our sense of reality or expose our sense of personal inadequacy which is Saturn.

The show is not over. When the last Saturn – Neptune square in September lifts the green curtain… The Tiny Dancer will sing.

So at this time of the Solstice, let’s take a moment to pause. To stand still long enough to allow clear vision and courage to anchor us amidst hype and confusion. In the words of poet and mystic John O’Donahue, “May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”

Elton John, Sacrifice

Neptunian Ocean by Pierre Carreau

 

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Hard Time

0311-scottish-highlands-snowstorm-714We’re at the threshold of a new month which contains the seed of new possibility. The month of March is named after Mars, the god of war. And this month, conflict and strife continue to rasp and rattle across the globe.

Frustration festers beneath the scab of these acts of violence. Territory and  wealth are clasped in the hands of only a very few on this planet.

 

hard time 1

Hoary old bastions of power and authority are in a process of  rupture as they no longer serve our collective evolution. This has been mirrored by the Pluto-Uranus square which has been in orb since 2008 and is now separating. So much in our modern world has changed and yet so much remains just the same: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Despite the financial crash and property bubble burst, despite the bombs that are taped to the bodies of young men and women, there are still no new financial, political or social systems to replace those that have out served their evolutionary purpose. Ideology has become a smokescreen for a castrated Mars energy that seeks scapegoats – white, black, Christian or Moslem in simplistic, formulaic rhetoric – them and us. The much reviled Donald Trump serves as a mouth piece for the great sludge of humanity and dares to give voice to what so many only think about: our prejudices our greed. He speaks through the polarized prism. Them and us. In his crassness lies something that resonates with those who live their lives like worker bees, so lightly dispensed with when profits are down. Perhaps it will take a global catastrophe to irrevocably destroy old systems and structures. It will necessitate brave new choices to build a-new with original materials.

March has been a special month astrologically.  Every six months we have a pair of special lunations that we call eclipses. Eclipses enclose certain themes at certain times. Some astrologers call eclipses ‘wild cards’. They tend to present quite uncompromisingly, situations that may present to us those yes or no kind of choices that challenge our glib promises, that compel us, like territorial animals, to move away from the familiar safety of basic ground.

 

hard time 3There have been two eclipses this March. A  new moon solar eclipse in Pisces and  a full moon partial lunar eclipse in Libra. If any of these eclipses spotlighted the personal planets in your own birth chart (they would be at 18 degrees Pisces or 3 degrees Libra) you may have had to make some kind of choice to make some lasting changes in the way you  perceive the world around you or examine how authentically you relate to those around you.  The effect of the solar eclipse will last for six months, so  as March folds into the arms of April give yourself permission to pause in the frenetic  over-scheduled busyness of your life and gently observe your inner landscape and what you truly value so that you may be Graced with a new realisation.

birds flying

Eclipses fly in pairs. The ones in March  re-activated another pair of eclipses that occurred last September – a  new Moon eclipse at 20 degrees Virgo and one at 4 degrees Aries ( the polarity to Libra ) So the planets that rule the signs of Virgo and Aries, Mercury and Mars symbolize our restless attention deficit minds and our primal urges. As we review the month of March, gently consider how did we evangelize, idolize or hold too tightly onto those convictions and thought loops that imprison us like convicts behind the bars of un-examined thinking or explosive impulse?   Hard time 2

Hard times are a choice even if the only choice we have is a change in our perception of our circumstances or how we see what is unfolding globally. We can choose to attribute good or bad to every thought, every behaviour that pricks our skin or pierces our hearts. Everything is interconnected. “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe,” wrote environmental philosopher John Muir.

Spiritual teacher Neale Donald Walshe writes, “no one does anything they do not want to do,”  says  “You always have a reason, usually, a pretty good one, for doing what you are doing and choosing what you are choosing. Be careful not to convince yourself that you are doing something against your will…be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want.

The statement “I have no choice” is a lie. You can choose.

So select the outcome that you most prefer.  Isn’t that power?”older couple kissing

Seinabo SeyHard Time

For astrology consultations on Skype or in person and for more information about workshops please email me on ingrid@trueheartwork.com

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Guardian

twin pencilsWe say we want peace on earth. We want wars and genocide to end. We say we want forests to grow and rivers to run with sweet water. We say we want to watch our children play. A Course In Miracles says, just like a sunbeam can’t separate itself from the sun, and a wave can’t separate itself from the ocean, we can’t separate ourselves from one another. We are all part of a vast sea of love, one indivisible Divine Mind.”

We know this in the deep stillness at the Centre of our Beingness. And then we fall asleep once more to waken to the savagery and tragedy in the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and brutal scapegoating of Raif Badawi.

We’re crucified by polarity, still living in the tribal mind that acts out of scarcity and survival. Still demands an eye for an eye, a precious life for a precious life that must be weighed in the bloodied scales of blind belief or castrated custom. The ponderous form of Pluto’s slow transit through Capricorn will bring the darkness of our personal and Collective Shadow into form: Stasi States, the Cyclops eye of Big Brother, the silent trawling through great lakes of data by Google and Facebook, the porous walls of private chat rooms.don't speak

Religious oppression, where human dignity, creativity, uniqueness and freedom of expression cower in the shadows. Where whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Paul Assange are silenced. Where Raif Badawi faces, what astrologer and blogger, Joanna Watters calls “barbaric consequences” for his thoughts and words which challenge the tribal mind and threaten the status quo.

Bruce Lipton writes in his book, The Honeymoon Effect,  “There is a fundamental biological imperative that propels you and every organism on this planet to be in a community, to be in relationship with other organisms. Whether you’re thinking about it consciously or not, your biology is pushing you to bond. In fact, the coming together of individuals in community (starting with two) is a principle force that drives biological evolution.”

And yet how are we bonding? Are we seeing without sight, hearing without ears when we grip so tightly to our need to be right?

We all see the world differently. Or we like to think that we do. It depends on which lenses we choose to wear. And it depends on how we wear the lenses that are chosen for us.

“Some toxic co-authors live in our world, and others live in our minds,” writes clinical neuropsychologist Mario Martinez in his book, The MindBody Code.Discarding toxic co-authors involves both literal and figurative action.”

 imagesCA3M04XGNelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Tolstoy believed that if only we managed to see through our superficial differences and our fear of the other’s otherness, we’d recognize instantly the universe’s basic “law of love”. It is something to which we are born and attuned, only to forget as we enter adulthood; until we choose, consciously to question, to let go of our learned bias and to see in the other their differentness, even as they brush against our tender places.

Where and how will we be the Guardians of each other’s hearts? How do we demonstrate by our words our actions, Tolstoy’s “law of love”? How can we be the Presence, the Peace, the Generosity we want to see in this world, if not by daily remembrances, daily demonstrations of Grace, of compassion for ourselves and all other sentient beings?

How do we guard ourselves from slipping into the stagnant mire of old thinking without sitting back and saying, it’s just human nature, or more eloquently, the real problem is in the heart of man? Where do we draw the line, erect the wall, raise the drawbridge in this permeable, digital world, stripped bare of mystery, bleached of nuance, devoid of dappled delights, empty spaces, pauses in the bustle of busyness? How do we become Guardians of boundaries when our primitive impulse is to become ensnared in hot-blooded, self-righteous outrage at a world where insanity postures as politics and madness dons the cloak of religion?

irish landscapePerhaps we can be vigilant of our own energy leaks, the thoughts that fly like stealth missiles towards nations or leaders who provide a convenient hook for our own Shadow, our own primitive survival impulses which feed on fear and superstition, good and bad, them and us.

For me, it is the poets, the artists, the musicians who live among us who dust our dull minds and open our blackened hearts with the shimmering sparkle of their Divine Vision. 13th-century Islamic scholar, poet and visionary,Rumi writes in this exquisite verse from Wetness and Water:

How does a part of the world leave the world?
How can wetness leave water?

Do not try to put out a fire
by throwing on more fire.
Do not wash a wound with blood.

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up.
Sometimes it’s in front.

Only full, overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow has been serving you.
What hurts you blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.”hearts_2057988a

 

 

 

Three Hearts – Benetton. Photograph by Oliviero Toscani

 

Alanis Morissette – Guardian

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Making my Way Back

Sample_Pic_19We all have a natural habitat. A place of comfort and ease that connects us to our natural state of Beingness.

Yet, in the straggle of human settlements that stretch like bleached coral reefs across the landscape, many of us are harnessed to thoughts, beliefs, situations that chaff and constrict. In the dissonant babble of other people’s voices we lose our way, forget what it is that we truly need to nurture our soul. We may wander in exile, lost in the endless surge of sensory stimuli that pluck and prod us off course. Our dreams and longings discarded, forgotten in the sweet meadow of  distant memories.

 

little foxOur neuroses may be a response to being removed our natural  habitat. Our pliable brains adapt to places and situations, while our wise animal bodies speak to us in metaphor, show their dis-ease in symptoms.

Like humans, animals have an inner nature. And while some of their behaviours and defenses are not always due to overt abuse, their adaptations to an alien environment may distort and warp or erupt in aggressive behaviour.

Anna Breytenbach  has devoted her life to inter-species communication. In The Animal Communicator, a documentary  in which Anna demonstrates how animals and humans share the same need to be seen and heard, we see how animals and humans display similar trauma and defenses when out of balance with their natural state of being.

imagesTT24EIEHKatrina Clay, publisher of Healing Springs Journal, describes a Navajo Horse Blessing she witnessed recently in Saratoga County. Each race horse was blessed with the intention that they would heal, let go of past wounds. Many of the race horses distracted themselves with habitual behaviours.

She writes, “good race horses have every physical need met in order to perform well. What is often neglected, however, is experiencing life true to the nature of horses – outdoors in strong social groups, eating 20 hours a day on a variety of nutritionally low plants while travelling as far as 20 miles a day finding them. While some horses and people are well adjusted to domestication, others habitually fill the empty time ordinarily satisfied by searching for food with hollow patterns of behaviour… For a horse, it may come out as cribbing or biting. For a human it may be workaholism … or any multitude of obsessions.”

Over the past thirty years we have all experienced Promethean changes in technology which has changed the way we think, communicate, behave. March 2015 will see a solar eclipse and the final Uranus-Pluto square in the series of seven which have reflected global events, particularly in the use and mis-use of power as well as the unprecedented proliferation of new technology. Perhaps this final square will bring a sense of resolution for some of us in some deeply personal way. A decision to take the action needed to make those changes that reflect inner growth. A choice to replace habitual thoughts or behaviours with new ways of being in this world that resonates with an authentic place within.

chimanzeeChange is unsettling, even threatening for humans and animals. We, like the other animals on this planet, are hardwired for danger. Our anxious brains have kept us alive for eons. Many of us tend to become more calcified as we age, more fearful, more sealed into our ticks and twitches. For most of us, letting go of our defenses is threatening. For some of us, we will never be ready or willing to embrace the changes which terrify us. And yet, it is in the taking of baby steps that we can truly follow our bliss and find our way back to a place where we feel a Belonging.

“We have not yet arrived, but every point at which we stop requires a re-definition of our destination,” writes poet, Ben Okri,in Tales of Freedom.

 

imagesOI7HXGM3Beneath the surfaces of our lives our yearnings flutter and soar like the summer swallows on thermals of delight. Our places of nurture which will be different for each one of us. Like the brave green shoots that thrust from cracks in pavements and the trees that stand sentinel alongside swirl and swish of traffic, we live amidst noise and fumes of humans in continuous motion. Yet some of us may know those places of silence. If we allow ourselves to go there, we may re-visit that spacious zone where we expand into our Belonging. Perhaps making our way back will require one day a week where we switch off the phone, leave the incessant demands of our in-box, turn our eyes away from the twitter stream or the distractions that become our armouring and our straight-jacket. Perhaps then we will glimpse our natural habitat. Perhaps then we will know that private place, where we feel our Belonging.

Gemma Hayes from the new album Bones and Longing

Making my Way Back

 

 

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Fragile

kennedy family portraitEvery family has one. A secret that pervades the air at family gatherings like the smell of moth balls. A death, a betrayal, an imprisonment. A relative that falls from the family tree and vanishes without a trace. Secrets roll through the dust of generations like fragile tumble weeds. Sometimes they are collected and fashioned into tales that are embellished with bright beads of drama, or muted strands of omission. Sometimes they are made more colourful, more heroic, to lighten the terrifying darkness, conceal the senseless waste.

Film, literature and poetry depict the flawed hero, the Black Sheep, the Sacrificial One who becomes the Redeemer. We vicariously watch the Rebel, the circuit breaker deliver the seismic shock that topples atrophy in the family system. We rejoice in the regeneration, the potency of new growth.  The BBC’s adaptation of Irish writer John Banville’s novels portrays the pervasive power of family secrets and our complex relationship with what can be told and that which must be unspoken. Gabriel Byrne  in the title role of Quirke, (like Morse, we never find out his Christian name ) enters the portal of his past and attempts to untangle the dark knots of his family complexes: Affairs, addictions, misuse of power, and the redemption of Love. Sarah Polley, in her documentary Stories We Tell explores the twisted thread of secrets in her own family. She  discovers that her mother and Montreal producer Harry Gulkin sequestered their love. That she was born of their hidden passion. images22Y370YN

In Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, author Margaret Heffernan explores the subtle and pervasive ways we choose, sometimes consciously but mostly not, to remain unseeing in situations where “we could know, and should know, but don’t know because it makes us feel better not to know.”

And yet, we do know. Many of us spend much of our lives moving forwards, never daring to look back. At first we may run like the Gingerbread Man, as fast as we can, to escape the dark shadows of our inheritance. Or like Bluebeard, we keep the gruesome corpses of our memories locked away with the key that bleeds. Perhaps we stuff the dark terror of our past into a glass bottle where it floats across the sea but eventually washes up on the shores of future generations. Family secrets are intuited even by young children, unpicked, uncovered, with the best intentions by loving parents who wish to protect them from what they perceive as a dangerous truth.

Author of Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel, examines the western belief that there should be total transparency.“ In America, lying can never be an act of caring. We find it hard to accept that lying would be protective, this is an unexamined idea. In some countries, not telling, or a certain opaqueness, is an act of respect. Also, maybe the opposite of transparency isn’t intimacy, it’s aggression. People sometimes tell for their own good, as an act of aggression.”

Nations have secrets too. We turn a blind eye. Stay under the radar, in fear of reprisal, in terror of putting our lives or those of our families at risk. Like the frog in the beaker of slowly boiling water, we remain in physically or spiritually destructive environments as the temperature increases insidiously, lethal degree by degree. Often we must confront our past, choose differently, knowing that nothing will ever be the same again.images6QQ32JVY

So often it is in our families we inherit secrets and lies and encounter conflicts and complexes that have ossified over many generations. Sometimes it is helpful to revisit the past. Sometimes it is not.

Joseph Marshall Lakota teacher, writer and story teller tells how he would go out walking with his grandfather, sometimes for miles. “He had this curious little habit of stopping and then he would turn me around, grab me by my shoulders and he would say, Grandson, look back at the way we came. So I would. I finally asked him, Grandpa, why are you making me look back? He said, Because, Grandson, one of these times I’m going to send you down this trail by yourself and if you don’t remember the way you came, you will be lost. To me, that is the greatest lesson I ever learned about history and about the past. Our past makes us who we are, makes us what we are.”

flying birdsLike racehorses, some of us are destined to be weighted more heavily from the start. Perhaps in looking back, we learn how to walk bravely in the dark. We may glimpse in the stories, the artifacts, the letters and perhaps the old photographs, the strength, the creativity, the courage of those who have walked before us. In their pain we discover the portal to our  fragility. In the opaqueness of their secrets, the bright spark of Divinity is concealed in the soft folds of their humanity.

 

Sting and Paul Simon, Fragile

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Dante’s Prayer

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:

 

Loreena McKennitt

“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…”

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The Wind of Change

We cannot ignore the wind of change that is blowing across the world right now.  We are living at a tipping point of turbulence and transformation that will test our spiritual mettle. Pluto and Uranus, harbingers of metamorphosis, square one another once more – as they did in the 1930s when our world was darkened by the impending devastation of a second world war. The counter culture and awakening of the 60s, set against the template of a conjunction of Pluto and Uranus in Virgo, is fermenting. We cannot ignore the wind of change that demands that we all  commit to own roles as supporting actors on the stage of this collective drama. As the tempest rends the veil of illusion from our eyes and shakes us from our self-absorbed, self-serving Western mantra of ME, we will hear the fierce rattle at the windows of economies and governments. We will witness the annihilation of the tenuous structures in our own lives. These winds that shake the barley may blast us from the echo chamber of our minds, unstop our ears, open our hearts. As Einstein said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”  Now more than ever we require a new dimension to our consciousness, a new way of Being in a world where nothing is certain.

Most of us know that the external props in our lives are as flimsy as straws when the wild wind blows. The real battle is not outside ourselves, but within our own soul, and Guidance is there during times of trauma and times of calm, if only we will be still and listen. The Fear that blocks our path may in reality cloak our greed, our vanity, our laziness, our resistance to grow.  We may come to a point in our lives when we hunger for more than external insignia of  status or a flimsy sense of our own power. The savage grace of a devastating illness, a crisis of loss may be the hallowed moment of our own personal Truth. In the 1200s, an Islamic scholar, Jalal ad-Din Rumi spoke for an inner jihad, not a war against the infidel, but a struggle against the ego. Nothing and everything has changed.

To live authentically in this new world, we  will require grit and integrity and the spiritual strength to hold the tension of opposites. Acknowledging, not disowning, or allowing someone else to carry for us our neurosis, our vulnerability, our pettiness, our greatness. Holding the paradox that is our humanness, within a new framework. We cannot reach the soul through the intellect. Our quest is to dismantle the “I”. To enter, as the Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila, who lived in the burning times of The Inquisition (1500s) said:  “let us remember that within us there is a palace of immense magnificence”. The soul is in us, it surrounds us.  Yet, one of the disadvantages in living in this modern age of “reason” is that intellect functions with logic, bottom-line analysis, research, spread sheets, strategy, right and wrongs. The intellect seeks solutions, wants results that are measurable.  And the soul’s subtle song cannot be heard in the babble of the mind – it speaks to us in parables, metaphor, dreams and fleeting impressions, that float  far from the constraints of cause and effect – beyond the borders of  “hard work”, outcome based goal setting. The soul does not dwell in the house of Fairness or Reason. It resides in the Mansion of Mystery. We are living in Mysterious times.  Jung said that the anima was the face of the soul. She was the Feminine, the vessel of Mystery, the antithesis of logic.  Many mysteries are beyond the limit of Reason. They cannot withstand the scrutiny of the curiosity or dissection.

So when we empty ourselves of who we are not, release the need to hide behind a bogus self, the Light pours in to the hollow chambers and infuses us with feminine creativity. When we dwell in the realm of soul ful ness, we are in our dharma, the natural order of things. We are being who we truly are, with no masks, no artifice. As we open our hearts, calm our minds, become more grounded,  more sensitive and sure of Who we are… we will dance like dervishes in the vortex of the wild wind. Celebrate as it howls at the doors and rattles the windows of our lives.

“The future’s in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change…”

Scorpions  – Wind Of Change

Artwork by Keith Burnett

 

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If not now?

Behind the proscenium arch of the Greek stage, a tragedy of calamitous human suffering is enacted as government officials quaff cognac and puff at phallic cigars. In this modern day drama, the chorus are ordinary men and women. For many, suicide is the catharsis to loss of livelihood, shelter… and hope, as bloated politicians overstep legal boundaries, and machismo businessmen arrogantly avoid tax payments. This is not really a play about inflated subsidies and debt bingeing of the last decade. Behind the curtains of the euphemistically-named “austerity measures” which darkly ripple across the landscape of so many lives is a far more sombre enactment of a terrible crime.

To the ancient Greeks, Hubris was the greatest crime of all. The outcome, when mere mortals challenged the gods and their laws, overstepping the boundaries, was never without repudiation. There was no escaping the fated denouement. The ancient Greeks had two phrases that encapsulated Greek thinking, and are still relevant today: Know thyself. Nothing in excess.

The glare of the spotlight illuminates the Greek stage, yet in countries, boardrooms, factories, schools, and homes all over the world, misuse of power is a fatally flawed fractal design.

Today, the word Hubris is imbued with a sense of over-confident pride. Only with quiet contemplation and vigilant self examination can we acknowledge where we overstep the boundaries in our ignorance or self-righteousness. Only with scrupulous honesty can we hollow out behaviours that arrogantly assume our entitlement to friendship, or love, or money, or recognition, when it may be we who did not fulfil our side of the bargain. Can we truthfully claim we are owed something when it is so often we who were not present, diligent, honest, or loving?  Can we slouch flaccidly in the hammock of our own self-absorption, meting out judgements and criticisms that make others wrong, ourselves right?

All cultures have a code of ethics for thoughts, words and deeds that do not violate ourselves or other living things. In Sanskrit, for instance, Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things. In Latin, Primum non nocere means first, do no harm.  Some codes take time to crack, and the best we can do is to cultivate the humble awareness of our connection to all living things and to do no harm. “An authentically empowered person is humble. This does not mean the false humility of one who stoops to be with those who are below him or her. It is the inclusiveness of one who responds to the beauty of each soul… It is the harmlessness of one who treasures, honours and reveres life in all its forms”- Gary Zukav.

Since late 2008, when Pluto entered Capricorn, financial and business structures have splintered. We have not yet seen the full trajectory of the Global Recession nor the full implications of misuse of power in government and big business. Recovery will be excruciatingly slow and desperately jobless. The irrevocable sweep of trans-formation (changing form, which always implies a dying) will impact the lives of each one of us in some way. Sombre Saturn, slowly retracing its orbit until October in ethical, judicious Libra, is a stern celestial marker pointing our attention to the necessity for responsibility, realism, and reason, and maturity in our personal lives, in our communities. Austere times require the wisdom of new governance, new law. If not now, then Uranus (until May 2018), dancing a gypsy dance through the sign of Aries (the incendiary energy of rebellion, uprisings, or self-immolation), will shake the flimsy foundations of “civilisation” as we have manifested it.

The fatal flaw in our society is our inherent arrogance. Our collective hubris that has brought Homo sapiens and the plant and animal species on our home planet to the chasm of annihilation.

Bullies and tyrants hold a convenient hook for all that is unacceptable and shadowy, too appalling to own in our personal lives and collectively. Be vigilant for the convenient human tendency to seek a Sacrificial Scapegoat… heavy-handed autocrats, the captains of sunken ships, the boss, ex-husband or wife, the querulous neighbour.  It falls upon each one of us to commit to acts of kindness that expand our capacity for love and generosity that open our awareness to our interconnectedness as living creatures on our beautiful  home planet. If not now, then when?

Tracy Chapman,If not now, then when?

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