TrueHeartWork | Esther Perel
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Esther Perel Tag

Secrets 1

East of Midnight—Jupiter rises in the East

3a3bd5020df9bd3f30fd52863600117bEvery 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’re collected, fashioned into tales that are embellished with bright beads of drama, or muted strands of omission. Sometimes they’re made more colourful, more heroic, to lighten the terrifying darkness, conceal the senseless waste.

Film and literature depict the flawed hero. The Black Sheep, the Sacrificial One who becomes the Redeemer. The Rebel, the circuit breaker, who fracks atrophied denial in the palisades of silence.  Sarah Polley, in her documentary Stories We Tell explores the twisted thread of secrets in her own family when she discovers that her mother and Montreal producer Harry Gulkin sequestered their love. That she was born of their hidden passion.

 

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.”secrets 6

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. 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.

There are some truths that in the telling of them, vindicate and heal.  There may be some truths that leave exit wounds that shatter our lives forever.

Esther  Perel, author of Mating in Captivity,  and now,  The State of Affairs,  examines the modern western notion of truth-telling in this age of 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.”

 

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The astrology this month highlights our assumptions about truth and justice: The Taurus Moon is clad in sensuous silks as she receives her consort on Saturday, November 4th. She’s ripe bellied and swollen as she burns away the veils of illusion, shining her light on those things concealed by darkness. Mercury moves into Sagittarius on November 5th, followed by Venus in Scorpio on November 7th, augmenting Jupiter’s predilection for telling the truth. Already, Jupiter in Scorpio has revealed the rapacious sexual predation that has pervaded patriarchy for centuries. Tumescent sexual predators  have commanded positions of power during every twelve-year cycle of Jupiter in Scorpio in human history. So why, at the time of the 2017 ingress of Jupiter into Scorpio have so many been outed for past abuse?  Pluto’s slow transit through Capricorn may certainly be smoking out all that is rotten in a modern society that pays lip-service to human rights and equality. And Chiron has been in tense square to Saturn which could be interpreted as a wounding by authority figures (December 2016-December 2017.) Eris, sister of Mars,  was“discovered” in 2005 when Jupiter was last in Scorpio, signifying a new archetype, interacting with human consciousness. Eris is associated with chaos, discord, and strife and the outraged Feminine is the zeitgeist of these times as Mother Earth groans, and greed and aggrandisement crack the structures of state and big business.

On November 13th, Venus, lusty goddess of Love merges in the night skies with Jupiter, infamous in myth for his insatiable sexual appetite and unbridled grandiosity. As Jupiter emerges from the glare of the Sun and rises radiantly in the East in late November, expect more revelations of cads and crooks who hold high office.

 

autumn-994897_1280Joseph 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.”

Like 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 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  concealed in the soft folds of their humanity. Perhaps in looking back, we look to the future, to a life on earth with a new vision for those yet unborn. Perhaps in looking back to the past, we will remember the way we came and discern when to speak and when to stay silent.secrets 7

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dance 21

Basic Instinct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Magnetised 22

Magnetised

It’s ilovers 25n my imagination that I become the avenging hero. The beautiful princess. It’s in my imagination that I search for synchronicities, clues, correspondences. You are my soul mate. My twin flame. My past life lover. We’ve woven a new story with a thread of a new truth…we exchange souls in a kiss…

 “Relationships are about stories, not truth. Alone, as individuals, we each have our own personal mythologies, the stories we tell in order to make sense of ourselves to ourselves. That generally works well as long as we stay sane and single, but the minute you enter an intimate relationship with another person there is an automatic dissonance between your story about yourself and his or her story about you,” writes author Louise Doughty in her brilliant exposé of a Neptunian love-affair, Apple Tree Yard.

In the boundary-less, nebulous realm of cyberspace’s Neverland we become Tinker Bell, a Lost Boy. Amidst those seamless hours in altered reality, we escape the mortgage, the rigors of ageing, our sordid family dramas. We cloak our ordinary lives in a sparkling façade as we author new stories about ourselves. Artfully embellish the old rusty ones. In the spaces between the lines, in the tantalising silence of omission, we can be anything we want to be. beautiful_photographs_of_rain_42

Neptune’s long transit through Pisces— 2011 —2025 liquefies boundaries between what we think is real and true stirs the dark sediment suspended in the crevasses of our unconscious. Neptune infuses a numinous, otherworldly dimension into our mundane, often unremarkable lives. Offers a tantalising escape from the crass harshness of the world through hypnosis, meditation, shamanic journey, altered states of experience. False gurus, fake news, virtual reality porn, and Rebel Redeemer Dionysus figures enter our lives, mysterious White Knights carry us away in a sequence of algorithms… As Google and Facebook trawl through the vast data lake, hauling up a richly writhing catch of even the most intimate parts of our lives, we comply. Without a whimper. By the end of Neptune’s transit through Pisces personal privacy will be dead. A quaint anachronism cherished only by those ( perhaps with Pluto in Leo )  who remember what things were like once upon a time.
The look of loveThe porous membrane of social media offer the thrill of voyeurism and subterfuge but no anonymity. Surveillance pervades every quiet sanctuary of our existence and is an attentive audience in the circle of our Neptunian theatre  as we can play at being someone else, glamourise our drab dull lives, blur the boundaries just a little because, we tell ourselves, it’s harmless. And like any addict, we truly believe we can stop any time we want to. And like any addict, we loose all empathy for the feelings of those around us.

Writes sex therapist, Esther Perel, “In this relationship culture, expectations and trust are in constant question. The state of stable ambiguity inevitably creates an atmosphere where at least one person feels lingering uncertainty, and neither person feels truly appreciated or nurtured. We do this at the expense of our emotional health, and the emotional health of others… Ghosting, icing, and simmering are manifestations of the decline of empathy in our society — the promoting of one’s selfishness, without regard for the consequences of others. There is a person on the other end of our text messages (or lack thereof), and the ability to communicate virtually doesn’t give us the right to treat others poorly.” mermaid 8

Neptune’s domain is the liminal tidal zone where morality, ethics and what we deem to be true are sucked into the undertow of the ineffable. Swept along with bleached bones of Victims, Martyrs, and Persecutors.  Fantasy, glamour and magic gleam in the lustrous shell of illusion. Integrity sinks like a stone. We want the Hollywood ending that fades out with music and moonlight. We want the passion, the excitement that lifts us up where we believe we belong.

When we’re “love struck” we experience the euphoria associated with cocaine and alcohol. Our neural pathway that’s responsible for fear and judgement shuts down.  It’s impossible to be “sane” when our brain’s reward circuit is flooded with dopamine, cortisol, vasopressin and oxytocin. We’re blind, in the most deliciously submissive way, until the cortisol and serotonin levels return to normal. Yet the subterfuge and instant gratification can be addictive. And when things get too complicated in this parody of connection, there’s the innocent ease of “unfriending” another human being. Just like detonating all life on earthall it takes is one click.

loving coupleNeptune’s seductive siren call is hard to resist even with our own internal Saturnian checks and balances. Christian morality casts the devil outside ourselves, so we scapegoat those whose life style or religion frightens or confuses; those whose opinions enrage. We don’t mean to judge or blame. We don’t mean to deceive. We are the Victims of our whims, slaves to our addiction to distractions that dissipate our energy. It’s not our fault.
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The internet screens us from the next stage in love’s cycle—death and re-birth. And yet, Neptune in the sign of Pisces is about compassion, a love that cradles the passage of time gently in tender arms.

On February 26th, Mercury ingresses into Pisces bringing a sense of fresh starts to the  solar annular eclipse (Pisces 8 degrees. Saros 19 South.) Astrologer, Bernadette Brady writes that this family of eclipses promises pleasant surprise, lucky breaks, joyful wins that will be life changing. There’s a subtle change in tone, a shimmering supernatural quality in this seeding moment as this new moon merges with Neptune. An opportunity to align with the Divinity within, to transcend our mortal addictions and delusions.

In the alchemical process of our life journey, we will all encounter the searing singe of loss, the choking confusion of betrayal, the languid silence of a lie. We may see our own horns and scaly tail in those we rescue or try to redeem until we truly know, in the words of Robert Bly, that every part of you that you do not love will regress and become hostile towards you…beautiful_photographs_of_rain_53

We will know that no one can rescue us or redeem us. That the tears and protestations of the Victim are charged with a force that provokes a rush of rage. That we can swim not drown a wave of other people’s regurgitated opinions the helpless, hopeless places assigned to us the frenetic dispersal of our precious energy on meaningless connections. We will know that our holy truth is anchored by stillness and reflection. That we can travel to Neverland but we don’t have to stay there forever.

Tom Odell Magnetised

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Flo

Wonderful Tonight

Venus 27February is the month of seduction. Hearts laid bare in the guise of cuddly teddy bears, clichéd greeting cards and red roses. Amidst the turbulence and negativity in the world right now, it’s in the pleasure of preliminaries that our life force swells.

Somatic life-coach and dancer, Chen Lizra, describes seduction as an untapped power that we can use with integrity and charm if know what we want and have the courage and confidence to go out and get it. Seduction comes from the heart, she says in a TED talk well worth watching.  And seduction is played out against the coral-coloured breast of the western horizon this month as Venus ardently pursues her lover, Mars, confident and cocky in Aries. He’s on home ground. Venus in Aries is Zena the Warrior, Lara Croft. She blazes forth, resplendent and seductive, playing with possibility then on March 4th  she withdraws, dives once more into the shimmering waters of Pisces where she swims until April 16th.

imagesHIU142MC

This is reminiscent of the same celestial dance choreographed and performed eight years ago when Venus in Aries stationed, then retrograded in Pisces.  So what does this all mean for us in a culture that’s permeated with corporate political correctness and a work ethic dictated by linear time and light-saturated nights?

Venus has her own cycles. Like those of our bodies, they’re ancient and mysterious, beyond the reach of the rational mind, secreted within the moist wisdom of our cells. In her chase across the skies, she slows, then regresses for forty days and forty nights. Within the dominant culture, forty days and forty nights is associated with deluge, temptation, trial, and tribulation. In astrology, Retrograde cycles invite us to go back over familiar ground, to reflect, re-evaluate.  She’s staying a while in the fiery sign of Aries so from February 4th until June 5th except for when she dives back into the iridescent waters of Pisces on April 3rd, remaining there until April 29th, revisiting that fragile 29 degree of Pisces which will affect, on some level, all those who have planets at that degree of mutable signs. She’ll whet our appetite for passion, the delight of play, the boundlessness of our imagination, if we allow her to.

black and redVenus’s seductive charms beckon us away from the intellect. She invites us to follow our heart’s desire, to revel in fantasy and sensual pleasure, dance, music, deep relaxation to re-claim our eroticism. Octavio Paz writes, “eroticism is the poetry of the body, the testimony of the senses. Like a poem, it is not linear, it meanders and twists back on itself, shows us what we do not see with our eyes, but in the eyes of our spirit…”

 Says sex therapist, Esther Perel, Egalitarianism, of course, is one of the greatest advancements in modern society, but it has exacted a toll in the erotic realm. It invokes such civic rights as respect, care, compromise, and other morally laudable principles, whereas sexual excitement is all but politically correct. It is known to thrive on power plays, role reversals, and undemocratic acts.” 

Religious dogma, rationality and our addiction to technology devalue the body as a sanctuary for self-revelation, pleasure, and sensual connection with one another. Eroticism is relegated to the collective Shadow. We tame and shame our bodies, terrorise ourselves with thoughts that mostly begin with “Not enough…”Aphrodites Mirror

Writes Elizabeth Gilbert—we are not some early Dell Computer Operating System, here to be de-bugged. We are not some new product for sale, here to be perfected. The goal is not to become an immaculate golden orb. The goal is to return to a place of kindness, where you can be gentle with yourself and others, no matter what arises. This requires, I think, a friendly sort of loving humour about who you are and who we all are.

Esther Perel describes Venus in Aries eloquently and imaginatively—the lust for adventure and the crossing of boundaries, are often interpreted as fears of commitment and infantile fantasies. In the conflict between the drabness of the familiar and the excitement of the unknown our therapeutic culture has often seen the solution in the renouncing of these fantasies. Rationality must prevail. Fantasies are perceived as clouding reality, the idealization of romance as immature love, and we tend to encourage our patients to really know their partner. Marcel Proust the wonderful writer of the subtleties of romance, warns us that sometimes it is better not to be too familiar with our partner, for certain kinds of knowledge can reduce our interest in them and are in fact counter-erotic. Eroticism, which calls for the celebration of ritual and imagination, the infinite fascination with the hidden, the mysterious and the suggestive for no other reason than pleasure does not have a place in this objectivist view of life.red hot

Scientists in the field of neurocardiology are only just beginning to acknowledge what the mystics and lovers have known for eons. The intricate network of nerves, neurotransmitters, proteins, and cells in our heart act independently. Our hearts remember, intuit, learn and know in advance what is going on in the world around us. We must feel wArgentina_tango-dancers-ssresized-616x447orthy to feel desirable. We must love ourselves fully and deeply and intimately to generously love another.

So come away from the hard harshness of an unfeeling digital world. Walk away from the mirror. Darling, you look wonderful tonight.

 

Eric Clapton—Wonderful Tonight

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wings-6

Wings

brad-pitt-and-angelina-jolie-mr-and-mrs-smithAmidst the unrelenting scrutiny of the media’s Cyclops eye, amidst the vaporous flurry of voyeuristic speculation from those who will never know any of the back story, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have uncoupled.

Power struggles in relationships have soared to new heights of psychological sophistication with easy access to often dubious “self-help” offerings on the internet. We can diagnose our partner as being a Narcissist or having signs of Asperger’s syndrome. We can play Victim, Rescuer or Persecutor in the tawdry soapie of our own lives. Labels, like headache pills, can be an easy way of dealing with the symptoms, but not the cause.

roses“Toxic relationships can sneak up on almost anyone. And controlling behaviour on the part of a partner knows no boundaries—people of any age, gender, sexual orientation, or socio economic status can be in controlling relationships, playing either role,” writes psychologist, Andrea Bonior in Psychology Today. I disagree. Toxic relationships don’t sneak up like thieves in the night, robbing us of our joy and our autonomy. We create them all by ourselves. Adult power struggles resemble “the terrible twos”. We use avoidance, manipulation, verbal and very often physical abuse to get our own way. We stamp our feet and sabotage moments of tenderness or connectedness. We withhold or demand sex. The old Berserker brain takes charge. Reason, compassion and wisdom fly from the bloody battle fields.

The September, autumn (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere) equinox is marked by the Sun’s passage into the zodiac sign of Libra. Traditionally associated with the ritual of marriage and the ethics of contracts and spoken agreements in our relationships. Every relationship we embark upon requires a negotiation of boundaries: what is mine and yours, what is ours, and what we both agree to share with our friends and families.

268621642-290x290The anatomy of love and desire requires boundaries and structure whether it’s the ritualised control and submission of bondage and sexual play; or the intricate web of rules that we weave around ourselves when we become a couple. What do we share and what do we keep private? Do we stay friends with our ex on Facebook? What do we share and what do we withhold? Do we spend our holidays together or apart? Does honesty always nurture trust and intimacy? How do we come together and stay present for one another amidst the distractions that trip-wire closeness? How do we soothe and repair those bruised silences that hang like dust motes above our sensitivities? Sex therapist, Esther Perel believes, “relationship boundaries are not a topic that you negotiate only once. Your personal and couple-dynamic boundaries may change based on your relationship or your individual preferences at varying stages of your life. The most successful couples are agile, and allow this to be an open and ongoing discussion. ”

Artist, husband and father, Eric Pickersgill’s series of photographs, Removed, depict the wings-7phantom limb of our treasured devices that signal our busyness and unapproachability. This invisible addictive force that splits our attention and takes us away from those who are physically present.

Life imitates Art for Hollywood’s  Power Couple. Transiting Neptune conjunct his Chiron, transiting Saturn opposing her Sun, transiting Neptune Square her Sun. They very publicly perform their final role: the intractable stand-off and ultimate catastrophic exit that is divorce.

hypnosis-1Borders and barriers have been a feature of the Saturn Neptune square over the past months – 26 November 2015, June 18, and September 10, 2016. This aspect was also triggered by the September 1 eclipse. The refugee crisis in Europe. Brexit. The machinations that are more like a tacky reality TV show than politics in the US. The beginnings of another property bubble burst, and the slow realisation that  without jobs, people will not longer be “consumers” .

The sense of being in “a fog” (Neptune) or feeling that we are lodged between the proverbial rock and the hard place (Saturn). Too much Saturn and we atrophy. Too much Neptune and we escape or seek redemption through something or someone who takes us away from the harsh reality and limitations of the drab burnt out ends of our lives. Asks speaker and author, Brené Brown, “What boundaries need to be in place for me to stay in my integrity to make the most generous assumptions about you?” 

Connection is an energy. It manifests when we feel seen, heard, and validated. When we draw nourishment and strength from our relationship. When we feel like allies not foes. When we find our own  wings to fly between the spaces and the coming together. When we can tolerate the Mystery in one another and gaze upon each other with loving eyes. img_8584

Birdy – Wings

 

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beyonce-lemonade

Lemonade

beyonce 8

“Are you cheating on me?”

Beyoncé throws open a door. A torrent of water gushes forth, the salty tears that wash the wound of Betrayal.

Beyoncé’s powerful new visual album Lemonade, depicts her profoundly painful experience of infidelity by husband, Jay-Z. And we watch as she rises, renewed and  invigorated by the pain of loss and announces to the world, “If we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious!”

For more in-depth Astrology, tune in to my first Podcast here.

beyonce 6Betrayal punctures our child-like illusions of Love, expels us from the fusion-state with the archetypal Parent, shatters the projections that cloud our vision of our partner. Infidelity pins our butterfly-winged innocence to a deep awareness of human limitation and our own un-lived psychic life. In the torrent of emotions swirls guilt, anger and despair. Betrayal leaves no room for titillation, morality or judgement. Betrayal is about passion, hot sex, erotic energy, life and death. Betrayal is about broken hearts.

We live in a culture that is sexually immature. There is a collective adolescent preoccupation with the tawdry tacky side of sex that diminishes and obscures its sacred power and sublime sensual beauty.  We cloak our obsession with sex and obscure it’s deeper meaning. Saturn has been transiting over Jay-Z’s  Sagittarius Sun since January 2016 and Mars moves over his Venus/Neptune conjunction in late Scorpio till early August. In the same time frame, Mars comes to Beyoncé’s  Scorpio Moon/Uranus conjunction … “Grief sedated by orgasm, orgasm heightened by grief.”  We can speculate that their healing is ongoing and powerfully revitalising for them both.

Lemonade 3-beyonce-jay-z-lemonadeIn the nuclear aftermath of an affair, therapists may guide couples through various stages of atonement, stripping the soul of sex of its nuances. As sex therapist, Esther Perel, points out, we speak of “victims and perpetrators; injured parties and infidels; confession, repentance and redemption…”  Dr Shirley Glass, “Godmother of infidelity research”, writes in her book, NOT Just Friends, about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and yet it’s the Scorpionic essence of trauma, the powerful emotions of grief, jealousy, passion and erotic energy that must be acknowledged if we are to repair, heal and be glorious!

On May 24th, Venus moves into the Twinned sign of Gemini where she hangs in all her magnificent sparkling splendour in the skies, opposing her lover, Mars in his return journey into the frozen reflective depths of Scorpio.

beyonce 3In Venus’s inviting arms, Mars surrenders his brutish crudeness, puts aside his weapons of war to envelop her sensuality with a solid sense of power and strength. So think of Venus dressed in Gemini clothing – communicative perhaps, playfully flirtatious, curious in the face Mars’s attractive thrust of strength and the assertiveness he now displays in fiery Sagittarius… And yet he is moving away from his lover, moving backwards into an area of the zodiac, where we must all at some time or another confront issues of our deepest longings, our deepest repressions and frozen fears. In Scorpio we confront our shadow. With Mars in this area of the zodiac, we may feel brave enough to take action, to lean in, to draw our vitality from the deep well of sexual energy, bringing our creative offspring to life in the form of new ideas that come to the surface, new initiatives that are there but may not be quite ready to be birthed until Mars moves direct again on June 30th.

beyonce 11Betrayal is the means through which our fantasies are punctured and recognised. Venus-Saturn and Venus-Chiron – and in Beyoncé’s birth chart  a Venus-Pluto conjunction – do not cause a person to be drawn into triangles, but they describe a deep and innate awareness of human limitation. In childhood a distant or unavailable parent will then unconsciously be attributed to our own unloveability because a rival will take them away. And yet it is the depths of our pain that we discover hidden treasure in the dark silence of renewal.  An affair becomes the crucible where we burn away stagnation and destroy our false selves. Our recovery and healing thrust us back into a more authentic life.

Sex gives colour and vitality to our lives.When we hide from it or displace our sexual energies in excessive work, unexamined beliefs or restraining morality, where does this powerful erotic energy flow?  Writes Thomas Moore in his superb book, The Soul of Sex: many cultures perceive sex as a sacred cosmic force. Like all the elements in the soul, sex needs to be manifested or we suffer from the sudden return of the repressed – sex breaks through in negative and uncontrollable ways.

So take time this week to cherish your body, delight in your sexuality. Allow the life-giving energy of your passion to melt away irritation or victim-consciousness.  Use the energy of Mars in Scorpio from May 28th for deep healing.

“if we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.”let it be glorious

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Into My Arms

red roseRed roses, cuddly toys, red velvet boxes containing invitations to dark sweetness. We may shudder at the bright shiny commercialism that festoons holidays that mark the wheel of the year. Those cards festooned with red hearts may remind us of  losses, painful rejections. Yet the sheer romance of it all may herald hope, sweep us off our feet of clay, give us wings to fly. February 14th, dedicated to a Christian martyr, marks a much older holy day in honour of  Juno (Februata) faithful wife of the womanising Jupiter and the mother of Mars. To the Greeks she was known as Hera, and February 14th was celebrated in honour of commitment and enduring love.

cosmic dance 2In astrology we look to the cosmic dance of Venus and Mars as significators of love and war, connection and separation, leaning in or walking away from love and desire. As they orbit across the zodiac, they mark new beginnings and inevitable endings. The dance of Venus heralds pregnancy, marriage, and reflects societal change. We all have Venus in our birth charts and it’s only through our hearts that we can meet each other in all our complexity and in the soft tenderness of our human vulnerability. Jung said that Mars was knowing what you want and doing what you have to do to get it. Mars is owning our desires, taking action to be the change we want to see in our lives.

Mars is Venus and Mars were in conjunction in November 2015 and their dance assumes the tension of a square in March this year and an opposition early in June as they perform a stylised tango across the heavens. Venus and Mars symbolise love and desire in all their many guises.

Perhaps as Venus moves into the sign of Aquarius on February 17th we can remind ourselves that the Greeks and Romans had many names for Love. And that Love is a Many Splendour’d Thing. Mars is in the sign of Scorpio now so both the love planets will be in fixed signs as they move across the dome of the sky. Perhaps this could be a time to strenghten our resolve. Practice Being more and Doing less, so that new awareness, new behaviours can graft and begin to grow new green shoots. Venus was a voluptuous goddess of sensuality and fertility, remember. Mars, her lover,  was honoured as a god of spring by the Romans.

language of lovePatience, like Walkmans and Kodak Cameras, has become obsolete in a culture where the promise of satisfaction is just a click away. We give up too easily.  We have little tolerance for frustration, setbacks and delay. So often in love we must commit to staying the course even though the road is rocky and there is a flatness in the landscape of love. If we could dedicate each new dew-drop of a day to practicing acts of loving kindness, search for things that are right in our lives, feel the gratitude coursing through our hearts, allow ourselves to be brave enough to peep around the walls of old beliefs that keep us imprisoned in shackles of right and wrong, we might  glimpse the golden orb of Venus just before the dawn.

Our relationships are spiritual pathways and our soul mates, our wound mates, teach us forgiveness, discernment and invite us to summon the courage to love more bravely again.teddies Judith Blackstone, author of The Intimate Life, writes “Love is the response of our heart to the world around us. To love life, and in particular, to love other human beings, is one of the central ideals of every spiritual tradition. It is also one of life’s greatest challenges. It requires the ability for true contact. And contact requires us to be authentic and deeply in touch with ourselves.”

Neuropsychologist, Dr Mario Martinez, author of The Mind Body Code, suggests that relationships based on the concept of bio-cognition and self-esteem are related to our immune system and our immune system responds to our transcendental beliefs. “We come with one of three wounds into relationships –  sometimes all three. These,” he writes, “are not victimhood wounds. These are soul contract challenges. Abandonment, shame, betrayal. We need a covenant of safely when we commit to become the guardian of each other’s hearts in a healthy relationship. Our soul mates are the guardians of the heart.”

How Long Will I Love YOU 2Martinez says that he believes we challenge our partner to abandon us – unconsciously. “We ask our partner to do abandonment behaviour to prove to us that we are right. The healing of abandonment is commitment. So we ask, what can I do for you right now to give you my commitment… when you are ready, I am here to give you my commitment. The wound of shame requires honour. Betrayal requires loyalty,” says Martinez.

Says sex therapist, Esther Perel “ You may feel that unless your relationship is thriving and you are on cloud nine, you don’t deserve to partake in the celebration of love. As if those in crisis or state of struggle cannot acknowledge any positive feelings because it would feel fraudulent. In fact, when you’re in a rough place, this is exactly the time your relationship could use a good dose of TLC. Making time is a ritual, and rituals aren’t negotiated — they are performed.”

 

Into My Arms Nick Cave

 

Francois_Boucher_Heracles_and_OmphaleApril 2nd 2016 Holding Aphrodite’s Mirror, Love, Lust, Loss and Longing

Join me for the second inspiring day at Ubuntu as we explore the powerful archetypes of Venus and Mars in how we love, how we desire in a digital age.

You’ll be working on your own horoscope so please have your data to hand when booking – your date, place and time of birth. Your own chart will be drawn up in advance. We will dedicate the day to a gentle connection to the sacred Feminine and the sacred Masculine.

Date: Saturday April 2nd 2016, 10am to 5pm

Where: Ubuntu Wellness Centre 99 Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town.

Please email me: Ingrid@trueheartwork.com  for more  about this day dedicated to you.

 

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I’ll Be Good

I'll be good picWe’ve coveted our neighbour’s wife for eons. Like moths to the flame we slip into stolen moments, discover in the fire of a clandestine tryst the erotic élan of novelty.

 

Secrecy, danger, novelty and forbidden fruit make our hearts race and flood our brains and bodies with an intoxicating cocktail of sweetest taboo. Greek myths are steamy stories of infidelity, trickery and connivance. Handsome youths seduced, innocent maidens abducted. The kind of sex that makes Fifty Shades seem more like Enid Blyton’s Playful Pets.leda and the swan

 

Lipstick on the collar has now gone digital. Where once we secreted our love letters in padlocked boxes, we now have passwords and browsing histories to delete. Some of the fallout from the Ashley Madison “affair” is a mushroom shaped cloud of moralistic condemnation sprinkled with a dusting of judgement which says more about the judge than those being judged. As Hackers, presumably with their own agendas, smoke out the “sinners”, there’s a lot of talk about affairs and the destruction of so-called family life but not much intelligent inquiry as to the Why we want what we can’t have and do what we do to get it. And yet, in this age of instant gratification and increasingly sophisticated digital technology driven by a porn industry that caters for all preferences, Why not? What we once termed aberrations and perversions, thankfully have now become “normalised” though there’s is still an odorous smell to the word adultery. And in some places in the world sex outside marriage is punishable by death.

 

love and desireLove and Desire are two completely different things. So says sex therapist and author of Mating in Captivity Esther Perel. Astrologers agree. Mars and Venus in their healthy expression move us to want, to take and to own. Author Thomas Moore writes, “Mars when he is honoured, gives a deep red hue to everything we do, quickening our lives with intensity passion forcefulness and courage… It is important then to revere the Martian spirit and to let the soul burst into life in creativity individuality iconoclasm and imagination.”

Eros is not the chubby diaper-wearing infant we see on Valentine’s cards. He takes us to the beating heart of our own “red light district”, he brings us back to life. He’s an antidote to the terror of ageing, the annihilation of death.

Eros and Thanatos are the provocative invitation on the now infamous Ashley Madison website: Life is Short – Have an Affair!

As author and teacher, Joanna Watters writes The Astrology Blog this week, “The most obvious retrograde Venus story in the news at the moment is the hacking of website Ashley Madison. This company has built up a membership of a staggering 37 million people around the world, and continues to sign up new members at the rate of 35,000 a day. Noel Biderman, the CEO of the company, is born 1 January 1971. Unfortunately there is no other birth data but you don’t really need to look any further than the date as he’s born on a triple conjunction of Venus and Mars (the love and sex planets) and Jupiter (expansion) all in Scorpio (the sign of sex, secrecy and all that is taboo)”taboo

 

Our comfort-seeking astrological Moon craves security and safety and dependability and permanence. Paradoxically, good connection, good intimacy does not guarantee good sex. Routine, predictability, too much closeness and familiarity are a cold shower to an erotic charge. Spontaneity in long term relationships is a myth. “There is no neediness or caretaking in desire,” says Esther Perel.
red rose and bum

“Sex is a place we go to,” says Perel. “A space we enter inside ourselves with another or others”. For some it may be a place for aggression or playfulness, for others it is a place of surrender and relinquishing control, for others it is a templum for transcendence and dissolution, poetically described by the planets and their aspects in astrology. Eros resides in the imaginal realm. And says Perel, “the erotic mind is not politically correct.”

She adds also that few of us know how to bring our self-hood to our partner. Or how to stay connected to ourselves in the presence of the Other. Few of us know the landscape of our bodies in relationship with the Other.  Committed sex is premeditated sex. It is willful, focused, and present. And foreplay starts at the end of the previous orgasm.

The poetics of our erotic life transforms sexuality by our own imagination. But what when fur-lined cuffs, leather whips, slivers of silky underwear, or a romantic getaway without the kids fails to alleviate the tedium of sex gone stale? The answer lies within when we ask ourselves is – “I shut down my desire for my partner when…”

Our responses will be as unique as our birth charts. For some, the answer may be, “I shut down my desire when I work late at night, for others when I am overweight and feel unattractive, for others still, when we fight over the in-laws or the kids … and for some, I shut down my desire when I feel responsible, when I don’t feel I have a right to want, when I don’t feel I have the right to receive, or to take, sensual pleasure…”

For most of us, growing up, reclaiming Eros, is hard to do. And in our adolescent culture where we objectify each other and Mother Earth, where phallus-shaped guns are given to young children and wars and violence continue to continue, until we are Collectively ready to Imagine another way of being in relationship to one another there will be affairs and heartbreak. And also the opportunity to re-pair and heal and rebuild our ravaged relationships and invite Eros and Aphrodite back into our bodies and our  lives.red rose

Astrology workshops London

Lust, Love, Loss and Longing

Saturday 31 October & Sunday 1 November
10am-5pm
£85.00 per day, or £150.00 for both
Venue – The Astrological Lodge of London, 50 Gloucester Place W1U 8EA

Suitable for all levels.

The two days are completely different but are designed to complement one another. So you can choose to do either day, or both. Venus and Mars in your birth chart with Ingrid Hoffman – astrologer and Imago Practitioner, founder of Trueheartwork, and a magical day of traditional horoscopy and  synastry between two individuals with author and astrologer Joanna Watters.
Please contact Joanna directly and come and join us in London.

joannaw@otenet.gr

 

 

Jaymes Young – I’ll Be Good

 

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Damn You

damn you picWe  talk glibly about someone being “a narcissist.” We detonate the word like a Catherine wheel on Hallowe’en; toss it over our left shoulder like a pinch of salt, and like the origins of Hallowe’en or the ritual of tossing salt over our left shoulder, we’re unaware of the moist kernel of meaning beneath the brittle husk. It’s a label that sticks tenaciously in the Victim Perpetrator model of relationships, and in a culture of self-aggrandisement that puts Self above all other sentient beings. It multiplies like an algal bloom in a culture where we consume other people’s ideas, gobble down advertisers’ enticements. We’re plugged in, eyes down, thumbs moving. Tuned out to silence.
In a particular brand of blame and shame psychology that has lodged unquestioned, unexamined in mainstream consciousness, a narcissist is our boss, our ex, a friend who has offended us in some way. They’re the ones who are utterly self-absorbed, aggressive, and abusive. They’re the cause of our divorce or our unhappiness at work. Despite  popular  assumption, a narcissist does not truly love herself. She doesn’t even know who she is . In her self-absorbed flaunting, in his amplified bravado, in her need to stand apart in her frenzied desire to need to be seen, is an emptiness, an isolation, that echoes pitifully across the babble of voices that tweet and twitter and stare into the glazed eyes of a masturbatory Selfie.
As human populations flourish across the surface of the earth, millions of souls jostle for space, air,work and food in Gotham Cities all over the world. We contract our energy, seal our body space, tune out the noise, the smells, avoid the eyes, the bodies, as we weave and glide over dirty streets, plugged into our I Pods, eyes down, caressing the smooth surfaces of our Tablets.

Therapist Esther Perel suggests that the merge model of relationship is challenging to the Millennials. I would suggest it is challenging to so many who ascribe to The Cult of the Individual. Working in collaboration with someone requires compromise, empathy, and an ability to accept that being “needy or weak or vulnerable” is part of our humanness.

Solitary bliss has an elusive, dreamy quality that advertisers have crafted into a make-believe bubble of desirability, perhaps even mandatory if we are to be normal well adjusted, differentiated human beings. The pursuit of Happiness has become a full-time occupation in the affluent Western World, the belief that we are worth it, that we have the right to have something more.untitled

According to authors of  The Narcissism Epidemic,  Keith Campbell and Jean Twenge, we are living in an age of entitlement. “The symptoms of the disease range from the extreme (hiring fake paparazzi to follow you around for a weekend) to the more ubiquitous, garden-variety solipsism (Twittering what you ate for lunch or hiring a professional photographer to take your Facebook photo). Translated into the realm of romantic relationships, the message comes across as: I’m great, and you’d better be, too.”
Esther Perel elaborates, “the culture of narcissism is about your personal happiness coming first and your partner coming second,” says Esther Perel. She adds, though, “Narcissism is actually a clinical personality disorder affecting 1 to 3 percent of the population, not an occasional attitude.”

We pay lip service to self-esteem with Botoxed lips and smooth shiny foreheads. We still look outside ourselves for validation and approval. And if we don’t get it, well then, damn you! To find ourselves has become the Holy Grail. We meditate, go to therapy, do yoga, with the same zealous application our great grandmothers used to bleach stained linen. We invest time, money and energy into ourselves. Why would we want to share our Obsession with someone else? We follow our bliss with the same single minded blinkered zeal that our forefathers used to hack down the great forests, alter the courses of rivers, decimate, or convert the indigenous inhabitants. Yet in the frenetic rush to get somewhere, be someone, there is no time, no silence to be still and go within.

narcissisFor me, myths and fairy tales are repositories of wisdom. These age-old stories carry the unperturbed truths that ripple through our lives today. They teach us that nothing has changed, nothing is “trending”. And that all our neurosis is just a minute piece in the large tapestry of evolution and transformation. The story of the beautiful youth, Narcissus, is a tale of self-absorption, spurned lovers, arid intellectualism without conversation with the moist wetness of our soul. So the story begins, as so many good stories do, with a concerned mother of an extremely beautiful young boy. She asks the blind prophet Tiresias “will he live to an old age?” to which wise Tiresias replied, “as long as he does not know himself.” So she hides all the mirrors in their home and her precious boy Narcissus grows up to be extraordinarily handsome, adored by all who meet him. Because he has never seen his own face, he depends on the reactions of others to tell him how beautiful and desirable he is.

Positive self-delusion has resulted in evolutionary leaps in technology, science, medicine and commerce. The bleached bones of many narcissists lie loosely in graveyards decorated with flags marked with marble tombstones. Today narcissism is a me-first Ivy-league requirement for Alpha males and females who deftly play the corporate chess game. It’s a must for those who hanker after their fifteen minutes (or more) of fame or infamy.

google glass“A reality shaped around your own desires — there is something sociopathic in that ambition,” writes Zadie Smith in her superbly crafted essay Find Your Beach. Our self-absorbed ambition pushes impatiently through the crowds. Our desires Tweet and Like. Don’t  question.

In doorways and under bridges of our metropolises  the homeless are unseen and unheard. I was struck by the poignancy of a plaque placed on an unremarkable cement bench along the river in Nashville today. I wondered about the woman who chose this name for her baby and the little girl who grew to be Tara Denise Cole, homeless on the streets of this American city. I wondered, did she live and die unseen, unheard, un-reflected in the shimmering green waters of the Cumberland River.a tribute to the homeless

Lana Del Rey – Damn You

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