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Self Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Follow your Bliss 10

Follow your Bliss: Sun in Sagittarius—November 22nd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do I truly need now?

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Boy In The Bubble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Simon’s Boy In The Bubble.

Songwriters: SIMON, PAUL / MOTLHOHELOA, FORERE

 

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Fiery Heart, Fiery Mind

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

d6826532994c8b797bf0cbf22e6972f0Alice Phoebe Lou – Fiery Heart, Fiery Mind“

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

 

 

 

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Rubicon 11

Crossing the Rubicon

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In the cold winter of 49 BC, crossing the Rubicon was an act of rebellion punishable by death.
And yet, Julius Caesar defiantly led his men over the icy red waters of the Rubicon River towards Rome.

Roman writer Suetonius depicts Julius Caesar as being undecided as he approached the Rubicon and the fateful crossing was said to be caused by a supernatural apparition.

In astrology, the  transits of the outer planets signify these  red river crossings.  These critical points of  no return  when a force that feels “bigger than us” spurs  us into the churning waters of change. Rubicon 1

When we bear down, when we irrevocably commit to a course of action, we set in motion a train of events that unfurl like the standard-bearer’s fluttering flag.

The poetics of language add subtly to the word, choice. In Hebrew the word, “timshel” is translated as “thou mayest” or “thou shall govern or rule” which suggests a sense of opening a portal into something that requires us to step into the vestibule of change by our own volition.

To the ancient Greeks, Kairos was a critical moment, an appointed time, a penetrable opening in the web of Fate. Kairos was the moment when the veil of time lifts and the moment arrives.

Mayan calendar researcher, Carl Johan Calleman writes about Kairos in the sense of soul timing and choice to cultivate resiliency and unity consciousness at this point in our human journey by alignment with the resonance of the Ninth Wave which has been active since March 9, 2011.

By not choosing we allow others to choose for us. Submissive acquiescence is an act of choice in which we step out of the way and live other people’s lives. In choosing not to choose we dangle limply like mannequins, and go through the motions of living an anesthetised life that is not our own. The thirty pieces of silver that clatter heavily in our pocket remind us of the Judas kiss by which we betray ourselves when we choose old ways of thinking, hold on to old patterns, nail our own hands to the cross of mortification.

89671.ngsversion.1467254310120.adapt.676.1Most of us avoid choices because we fear taking charge of our own lives. We resist surrendering our will to a Higher Level of Consciousness. We balk at the effort it takes to change our perception. We use powder puff words that cover our intentions with rapturous excuses. Or we let flutter, spent, to the ground like autumn leaves: “I’ll try to”. “I promise” ….

Choices are both conscious and unconscious. They influence our tomorrows, and will keep us steady as we wade through turbulent waters of change. Katharine Butler Hathaway wrote “the change of life is the time when you meet yourself at the crossroads and you decide whether to be honest or not before you die.”

Choice is a spiritual gift. And when we choose to change the trajectory of our lives, we must trust our instinct, settle more closely into the warmth of our bodies, listen to the rhythmic beating of our hearts.

092864b34a22302c25f78e81bb315ab7The choices we make from our hearts and souls are Grace.  Events that seem unjust and incomprehensible may be Divine Intervention that we can only appreciate in hindsight when we have unwillingly unclasped the old and opened our hearts to the new. And when we accept the consequences of our choosing, we begin to move again, one step at a time.

Through soulful living we celebrate the delicate preciousness of this human experience. And through choosing again and again to breathe out, surrender and Trust, we may have the courage to cross our own Rubicon River and make the journey Home.

The Sounds   Crossing the RubiconRubicon 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By The Rivers Dark

90161.ngsversion.1467254336036.adapt.676.1There are two kinds of people in this world: Winners and losers. This belief is celebrated in song and movies, entrenched in education and sport, set in the cement of corporate temples to Mammon. Dream big, reach for the stars, you can have it all, because, dammit, “you’re worth it!” This sense of entitlement, this determination to be worthy, might be a warm poultice on the inflammation of our unworthiness.

by the Rivers dark 9For some, the race to “get ahead”, to set higher “bench marks” has become utterly meaningless. Some may be in the right place at the right time. Their moment of glory will be encoded in the birth chart as they elatedly clasp the Oscar; proudly stand on the winner’s podium. Success—or “failure”—may be predetermined by a sacred soul contract—a Divine Plan.

Many of us are sailing across the rivers dark of change and uncertainty at this time in our collective evolution. We can merely determine or control the meaning we give to events as they unfold in our lives. England and America are in the throes of Pluto transits. The fabled “American Dream” has long faded. Britain is befuddled and confused. The long and painful process of re-defining national identity and a radical re-invention of what it is to be British or American.

09-standing-rock-larsen.adapt.676.1In societies where individualism and equality are valued and encouraged we may believe we alone are responsible for every aspect of our lives—our successes and our failures. We concoct our very own recipe for our happiness. Our ancestors could rail against misfortune, or the gods, or the circumstance of their birth. Today, self-made men and women sail solo. When we slam against the dark reef we cannot blame the gods, our parents, our ex-lover, or the government for our choices and perceptions. So, we perform the blood-letting when our scapegoated heroes fall from grace, baying like frenzied hounds at their blunders, their stupidity.

Wherever people gather together they create a language that binds them to the tribe, or anesthetises sensibilities to the savage brutality of what is really going on. In the military, it may be “friendly fire” or a “dust off” which shrouds the unspeakable horror of legalised mass murder or an air lift of mangled bodies. In the 24/7 world of advertising and marketing it will be power words that convey enthusiasm and the admonition to “Just do it” as we deliver the “deliverables” or disassociate from the pointlessness of our allotted tasks.

74381.ngsversion.1467253803699.adapt.1190.1Life is simple in the fast lane. Or is it? Success will be yours, if you work hard, have the right attitude, pointed focus, if your character and integrity are “good enough”. In the 1920s Bertrand Russell asked, “what will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them?”  His question is still pertinent today. I have a friend who works within the honeycomb cells of a large corporation. She sprinkles her sentences with hollow phrases that encompass our cultural comprehension of success: products, like people, must be “relevant”. By unspoken implication, if we are not “relevant” we are obsolete. Disposable. Like tooth brushes, celebrity marriages and old people.

We hunt success with bows that are stretched to breaking point. Like Love and happiness, success has myriad, illusive permutations. And yet, in this world of contrasts could it be that even in external “success” there will be some measure of loss or painful sacrifice? Perhaps in our tenacious climb to the summit we must cut loose our close family bonds? Eschew intimacy. Perhaps the trade-off will be a bloated ravaged body. Scarce unstructured, unaccountable time to enjoy the financial benefits of our long labour. Sometimes we seem to be rowing around in circles. The straining, the striving can wear us to a scooped-out void, our hands bloody and blistered on the oars. We forget our “holy song”. We do not know, we cannot see our own reflection in the moonlight as we panic on.by the Rivers Dark 5

“What do you do?”  A question that carries in its vapour trail a cloud of unspoken appraisals. A question that may be as difficult to answer as “Who are you?” as we comb through the interwoven layers of our complex human lives. Oriah Mountain Dreamer asks us to see each other through a different prism in her Invitation: “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive…”

70945.ngsversion.1467253679582.adapt.1190.1Sometimes it is a dispassionate Collective Fate that steps in to decimate our lives – the savagery of a bombing, the watery obliteration of a tsunami, a deadly sheath of blistering flame. Sometimes it is a private tragedy that rips the windows and blows the roof off our reality. We may resume our striving unaltered, unshaken, defenses nailed back in place, just as they were before. Or we may painstakingly sift through the broken foundations of our hopes and dreams and find that nothing is and will ever be the same again. Our values, priorities, longings now sound forth in a quieter song. Perhaps then we may lift up the oars. Allow ourselves to be carried towards the jetty, accepting things are as they are, for now. We may smile, because we sense that this life is but a dream. In this part of the dream we can put down our bow, pack away our arrows, success no longer our quarry. Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.rivers dark 8

Leonard Cohen delivers his unsurpassed deliverables—By the Rivers Dark

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Between The Shadows

Yasmin Rossi 1In real life, our lipstick comes off when we kiss our lover goodbye. In real life, our noses run and our mascara meanders darkly down our cheeks when the people we love with all our hearts die too soon. In real life, there will be times when we stand alone at the threshold, not sure of who we are or who we are about to become.

In the Middle Ages, Italian poet, Dante Alighieri wrote, “when I had journeyed half of our life’s way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the path that does not stray.”

For many of us, threshold times can be disorientating, painful, even terrifying. We may feel we’ve lost the path, strayed into the shadowed forest of self-doubt after a divorce, a death, or when a beloved child leaves the family home.

The Latin word for threshold is limen. To our ancestors, thresholds were liminal places, guarded by the gods and goddess: Janus, Hermes and Hecate.  As we traverse the space in-between we may have lost our memory of those ancient protective deities as we follow the elusive lantern light of our becoming, through the shadowy dark night of the soul. Yet, even in these modern times, in medias res, in the middle of things, is a fecund state of birthing, where we are required to ask ourselves “Who is the I that stands at this point of no return?”aba9a865cffb499c4699e84ab4067441

Ageing is a threshold crossing so often accompanied by loss and the need to adjust, re-calibrate in the face of irrevocable change.

In the affluent West, the Pluto in Leo generation (those born between 1938 and 1956) are offered a plethora of “anti-ageing” interventions to prolong life and maintain the illusion of eternal youth. Midlife has become a moveable smorgasbord, celebrated in cinema and song and glamourised in specialist magazines aimed at the over 40’s. In a feature entitled Fifty Shades of 50, journalist Lisa Depaulo writes with breathless ebullience about a brand-new breed of 50-plus women—stronger, smarter, sexier than ever, dubbed the New Alpha Goddess. She has a penchant for fast cars and luxury holidays, for travelling solo and for saying “it’s my turn”. The article bubbles on cheerfully, “almost every woman I know over 50 seems to be doing things that none of us were expecting to be doing at our age. We’re making choices, in both little and big ways, just for ourselves.”

69845.ngsversion.1467253661582.adapt.1190.1Demographics and photo-shopped aspirational women’s magazines aside, New Alpha Goddesses were rare in our blood-soaked human his-story—there was no room for a brand-new breed of Alpha Goddesses on Mount Olympus. Despite the sacrifices of The Suffragettes of the 19th and early 20th century and the courage of the Feminists of the ’60s, between the shadows of our politically correct social constructs there exists today the very same polarisation in gender and power that has existed for eons. In affluent societies, many women in midlife and in their elder years live in straightened circumstances after divorce or the death of their spouses. Women still do not, in the main, earn as much as their male counterparts. Women still bear, birth, and nurture the children. Each one of us will have thresholds to cross. Yet not all of us will have the luxury of time or sufficient financial security to say, “it’s my turn” as we support our children through their college years, nurse our dying parents, care for partners whose once virile bodies are failing. Perhaps we might discover that we don’t have the physical strength, the financial clout, the confidence, or even the inclination to be an New Alpha Goddess.  Perhaps we might discover that we’vebee never wanted to travel solo or drive a fast car and that being just who we are is enough for now.

In real life, we mostly don’t die peacefully in our sleep. In real life, we may discover that this is as good as it gets. And so, in real life, we distill the essence, make something magical from the raw ingredients of life: The tender embrace from the one we love. The sight of the bumble bee hovering in the languid embrace of a still summer afternoon. The intoxicating scent that pervades a scuffed city street in Rome. The delightful discovery of a cloud of white jasmine that hangs heavily over an ancient wall.

In real life, it’s time that becomes the most precious commodity. Many men and women enter the second and third acts of their lives with less attachment to fast cars or yet another pair of shoes, less clinging on to the bricks and the mundane mortar of life. More reverence for the here and now.

 “Opposites throw light upon each other”, said the philosopher Schopenhauer. Our lives are animated by the dappled shades of light and darkness, chaos and structure, a cacophony of sound and long stretches of silence. And it’s in the silence that we notice the brilliance of the rainbow as it arcs over the rain-washed sky. And how, quite suddenly, the swallows have returned for the summer.swallows-9926__480

In our life’s transitions, we may find our purpose, our passion. In our ageing and in our dying, we may discover the meaning of Love. And in the shadows of our inevitable parting, we may celebrate the brave brilliance of living our life just as it is. Not because we must continually strive for our “highest potential” and be that trail-blazing New Alpha Goddess. Not because we must walk the Camino to have a spiritual experience. But because we are here, now.

g_bec6c8077020ffa9b2b30918b9acdf17_2_700x600Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life— Mary Oliver

Loreena McKennitt Between The Shadows

 

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By your Side

By Your Side

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sade—By Your Side

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

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

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How Long Will You Love Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inge (Ursula Werner) and Karl (Horst Westphal)

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

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

 

 

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Trojan Horses 12

Here It Is

Trojan Horse 3I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, there are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who’s in charge―Elizabeth Gilbert

We sprinkle the word, empowerment like brown sugar over the snowy dome of a frothy latté. Popular self-help books and magazines deliver fast-fix formulae and labels that hook like velcro—Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Here it is—in bedrooms, boardrooms, in political power-plays, the subtext is: How much do you love me? Who’s in charge?

trump-may-0

The words we use to fight our personal Waterloos so often keep us mired in rigid roles. Our unexamined beliefs about other people’s pre-digested ideas surgically clamp our happiness and self-esteem.

 

We speak of empowering ourselves. Yet, so often standing up for what we believe is right and putting our partner down are part of an outmoded belief that power struggles and relationships are inseparable. How much do you love me? You emotionally disabledco-dependent, narcissist? (Narcissism is a clinical personality disorder that affects a small percentage—one to three, say some sources—of the population.)

In the war about who’s right and who’s wrong, how much you love me and who’s in charge, there’s no room for relationship. Says psychologist, Terry Real, “proving just how right you are can be a tough temptation to walk away from. But relationship grown-ups understand that being right is not the real point. Finding a solution is.”

In his book, The New Rules of Marriage, Real writes, “letting go of the need to be right is a core principle of relationship empowerment: learning to live a non-violent life. Non-violent between you and others. Non-violent between your ears. Scolding your partner as if you were his mother, passing judgement on him, humiliating him. These are all forms of psychological violence.”

hands clasped

Our expectations of relationships have changed exponentially. As we step beyond the confines of the old paradigms of gender based homemaker/breadwinner, women and our men and want intimacy—emotionally, sexually, intellectually and physically. Yet in our patriarchal culture, intimacy is relegated to the feminine principle. Mostly it’s women who embark upon Heroine’s Quest to better their lack lustre relationships. We buy the books and sign up for online offerings. We make the appointments for couples’ counselling.

And yet, so many of us still vacillate between becoming shrilly empowered and/or resigned to the “emotionally disabled” man from Mars. We complain about the state the world is in and continue to pollute our own relationship quantum field with words that nick and scratch and lodge in the sanctum of our lover’s heart.

1190.1“We always marry someone with the purpose of finishing our childhood,” says psychologist Harville Hendrix. And we’re unconsciously drawn to people who will guarantee a re-enactment of the old, familiar relationship dynamics we grew up with.

 

Our challenge is to rewire our brain circuitry with words that heal old wounds.

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

Astrological Mercury embodies eons of symbolism that can be traced to the Babylonian, Chaldean, Egyptian mythology and religious systems. A strongly placed Mercury in your birth chart enhances your ability to be humourous and charming. Mercury is the teacher, the comedian, the networker, the communicator, the trickster who brings lightness and laughter and a new perspective to our world. Mercury is also associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of healing and fertility and it is with our words that we can heal, with our words that we can birth new possibilities. Mercury is an important planet in our birth chart, as he brings information from the unconscious. In these Mercury Retrograde cycles, our perceptions may shift, igniting the creative process, birthing brilliant ideas.Stand by me 1

Right now, we are all, on some level, experiencing a Mercury Retrograde cycle in the fiery sign of Aries—From April 25th to May 11 th , Mercury conjoins Uranus. The planet, Uranus is associated with upheaval, sudden change and with innovation—the Tower card in Tarot. So, our intuition, vision, innovation may be heightened at best. Our reptile brain reactivity may be on full alert at worst—the kind of reactivity based on that old lady’s beliefs about relationship.

Trojan Horses 6Mercury’s Retrograde cycle is an opportunity to be honest with our selves about our style of relating, the part we play in polluting our relationship space. So, how do we conceal our own vulnerability behind the cement wall of intractable beliefs about our partner? How do we own our wants and desires? How do we listen? How do we set boundaries and assert ourselves? How do we back off generously? How do we embrace and accept the relationship we have? How do we actively champion our partner and our relationship?

woman on a road“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature”, says Thich Nhat Hanh. Today, let’s bring new vision, self-reflection and healing to our words. Today, we have a choice to re-write our signature.

Here It Is ~ Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson

 

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