Sirius New Moon in Cancer

Chagall - so i came forth of the sea

New Moon in Cancer

The image above is by my favorite painter, Marc Chagall, a Cancer who is enjoying his birthday today wherever he is, as I write this.  It is called, “So I came forth of the Sea and sat down on the edge of an island in the moonshine,” and to me it encapsulates the watery astrological energy of the moment and the possibility of intuitively moving with the flow of it all, finding some sense of stillness within.  In case you haven’t heard, this is going to be a very potent New Moon in the midst of a grand water trine involving  Jupiter in Cancer, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Scorpio.  Saturn is of particular prominence in the moment, having stationed direct yesterday.  Saturn being in Scorpio, ruled by a Pluto in Capricorn undergoing a square from Uranus in Aries, has the sort of energy that makes the more squeamish of astrologers run for the underground.  However, why not invite this energy in and have it help resurrect our truest path from within, just like the Moon itself emerges from its dark phase at this time to new light?

Examination of the Sabian symbol of this New Moon, as we astrologers love to do (if you haven’t noticed) bears in this case the repetition of you maybe having already read this one by Dane Rudhyar:

Cancer 17:  The unfoldment of multilevel potentialities issuing from an original germ.

Keynote:  The life urge to actualize one’s birth potential.

What is pictured here is simply the process of germination. As it unfolds from the sundered seed the plant pierces the crust of the soil and reaches up toward the light. This is a dynamic process turned outward, in contrast to the more static or introspective process of integration-through-understanding depicted in the preceding symbol. Germination is the crucifixion of the seed . . . The expanding process of self-actualization- which may mean nothing more than ego-expansion through conquest- contrasts with the introspective study of the structural relationship between, and the meaning of, the various energies and potentialities of one’s nature (svarupa in Sanskrit). The keyword is GROWTH.

from An Astrological Mandala, p. 121-2

The “preceding symbol” Rudhyar references is from sixteen degrees of Cancer, “A man studying a mandala in front of him, with the help of a very ancient book” and so is about more of a deep internal process of personality integration, in contrast to the outward expression of the potential of the individual found in the symbol associated with this New Moon at seventeen degrees of Cancer.  Rudhyar’s analysis that this self-actualization process may appear to be an “ego expansion through conquest” links with the tumultuous process we undergo through individuating ourselves, and how part of this can look like narcissism or self-absorption because of the need to figure out who we are, as part of the process of then being able to move out into the world embodying more of our multilevel potential. Again, though, this symbol points to this being more of a time of germination, or feeling the urge of our potential, not necessarily that we would actually be already living the vision at this phase of our process.

One supportive New Moon aspect going with this symbolic meaning is the fact that Venus in Leo is in trine to Uranus in Aries.  Another one is Mercury moving in retrograde in Cancer conjunct this New Moon, perfect for helping us perceive and reveal our inner potential- also, Mercury retrograde energy can be utilized in outer expression like this symbol suggests more so than you may realize from the pop astrology stereotypes about the dangers of it’s retrograde movement.    However, I cannot think of a more harmonious change in planetary movement to support such a symbol than Saturn stationing direct in Scorpio on the day before the New Moon.  Saturn being a boundary planet that is more about the collective and our role in society than a personal planet like Mercury, it’s stationing direct or retrograde can often coincide with major global events.   This is particularly the case in connection with modern Egypt, as the Arab Spring there began in 2011 with Saturn stationing retrograde, and the new phase of the Egyptian revolution that took effect this past week happened with Saturn stationing direct.  July 3 being the date of this most recent phase of Egyptian revolution is interesting because it is a date in which the Sun in Cancer is conjunct the fixed star Sirius, an important star in the ritual and myth of ancient Egypt.  In fact, conspiracy theorists believe the Founding Fathers of the USA chose the date of July 4 to be the date of “America’s Independence” because it is a date in which the Sun is aligned with Sirius.  The shifting of Saturn corresponding to major global events is also a symbolic correspondence to the power available to us on a personal level to revolutionize aspects of our lives when it stations direct.  The fact that Saturn is doing this now in the sign of Scorpio, in a grand trine aspect to Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces, is an extraordinary symbol of transformation available to us on the deepest level of our being, if we are brave and honest enough to avoid denial and take accountability of our actions, release what is holding us back, and invoke what will propel us forward.

Today’s New Moon also happens to be conjunct Sirius, a beautiful star to behold in the sky and a star that carries a deep well of myth and tall tales encircling it from the most ancient of days, among the widest variety of indigenous cultures imaginable.  One mythic figure who is especially connected to Sirius through myth is Isis (to read my archetypal analysis of Isis click here). I was reading recently about the Isis and Osiris myth in Carl Jung’s revised version of his Symbols of Transformation, thinking there could be something there about Isis to connect with this New Moon energy.  The following quote I found I feel is a perfect addendum to the sabian symbol cited above by Dane Rudhyar:

But it is far from clear, because a new adaptation or orientation of vital importance can only be achieved in accordance with the instincts.  Lacking this, nothing durable results, only a convulsively willed, artificial product which proves in the long run to be incapable of life.  No man can change himself into anything from sheer reason; he can only change into what he potentially is.  When such a change becomes necessary, the previous mode of adaptation, already in a state of decay, is unconsciously compensated by the archetype of another mode.  If the conscious mind now succeeds in interpreting the constellated archetype in a meaningful and appropriate manner, then a viable transformation can take place.  Thus the most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood state is indicated.  One such succesful interpreation has been, for instance, Mother Church, but once this form begins to show signs of age and decay a new interpretation becomes inevitable.

Even if a change does occur, the old form loses none of its attractions; for whoever sunders himself from the mother longs to get back to the mother.  This longing can easily turn into a consuming passion which threatens all that has been won.  The mother then appears on the one hand as the supreme goal, and on the other as the most frightful danger- the “Terrible Mother.”

–Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation (2nd edition, with corrections, 1967) , p. 236

Isis giving milk

Carl Jung’s interpretation of the Isis and Osiris myth in Symbols of Transformation has an almost obsessive attachment to viewing it through the lens of incest as a taboo.  Jung focused on the sibling sexual relations between brother-sister Osiris and Isis, as well as Osiris and Nephthys being connected to the marriages between brothers and sisters that were common among the aristocracy of ancient Egypt.  Jung then connected the concept of cultural taboos to the repressive effect they can have on human instincts, and then how the separation humans developed with their instinctual natures led to cultural prohibitions associated with various taboos.  Jung believed that when children are bound to unconscious attachment to their mothers they are “still one with the animal psyche,” but that  “development of consciousness inevitably leads not only to separation from the mother, but to separation from the parents and the whole family circle and thus to a relative degree of detachment from the unconscious and the world of instinct” (p. 235).  This is the source of why in the quote above Jung reasoned that as consciousness develops away from the instincts of childhood, we are forever tempted “to make evasions and retreats, to regress to the infantile past” (p. 235).  We can look for other new sources or mother archetypes to compensate for our detachment from our mothers, but this can at times also take us down the road of illusion and addiction as coping strategies.

The fact that Sirius is known as the dog star makes me think of the instinctual strength of dogs, and the significance Jung drew to the idea of us not being able to transform ourselves only through reason, but that the process to be successful would require a transformation in accordance with our instincts.  This makes me think that if the star Sirius could symbolically embody a sense of instinct like a dog, it could be a guide at this time for helping us germinate a new level of potential from within ourselves that is aligned with the deepest levels of our instinctual nature.  In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung connected the myth of Isis and Osiris to Sirius, the dog star, because of the role of Annubis, the jackal-headed deity of death, in helping Isis to reanimate Osiris after he had been dismembered into many pieces by Set, and how Sirius as the dog star played a major role in ancient Egyptian ceremony:

. . . the deeper meaning is connected with the astral form of the dog ceremony, i.e., the appearance of the dog-star at the highest point of the solstice.  Hence the bringing in of the dog would have a compensatory significance, death being made equal to the sun at its highest point.  This is a thoroughly psychological interpretation, as can be seen from the fact that death is quite commonly regarded as an entry into the mother’s womb (for rebirth).

–Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation, p. 238

These themes connect strongly to me with the zodiac sign of Cancer in general, and how in mundane astrology it is ruled by the Moon, and how in esoteric astrology it is ruled by Neptune.  With the associated astrological symbolism of the Moon and Neptune, such as themes of family, mother, Spirit, Source, . . . many of us are on the wheel of spinning through stages of desire to separate from these as well as a desire to return to them, with all sorts of ramifications of this separation/return theme impacting our daily life and actions in connection with our relationship to our unconscious and instincts.  The esoteric rulership of Neptune makes me think of the birth-death-rebirth theories of Stanislav Grof, in which he connected the stage of the womb with Neptune.  This womb stage evokes the imagery of Neptune not as the wrathful Poseidon, but as the Divine Mother, the mother of matter. It also connects the sign of Cancer to the complications of connection to the oceanic psychic realm of Spirit in a manner that goes along with Neptune currently being in the sign of Pisces.  Having psychic urges or inclinations, or a desire to connect with God or Spirit or what have you, requires a strong sense of self in order to avoid drowning in the numinous ocean.  At times we may think we are engaging in a psychic experience, or a communion with the divine, when in fact we ultimately realize we were off on some sort of illusory folly.  In Soul Centered Astrology, Alan Oken illuminated the connection between Cancer with the Moon and Neptune:

The waters of the Soul/Neptune wish to pull the individual into the ocean of the collective life experience. Yet the individual cannot “swim” safely in these universal waters without first having anchored its own sense of psychological independence and particular focus of self-expression.  It is here that we come to understand that the more individualized a person becomes, the more universal he can be.  Through the expanding consciousness, the many is seen as a reflection of the One, and the Ones is seen as whole in each of Its parts.  This revelation (which some would rightly call “mystical”) is the gift of Neptune, as well as the product of a Soul-centered consciousness.

The Moon relinquishes its control to Neptune when attachment is released from those facets of life ruled by the Moon on the personality level.  Then the root chakra- the center wherein dwells the unconscious urge for self-preservation . . . loosens its dominance as the driving force behind life.  The removal- or, at the very least, the objectification- of the desire to be attached to form frees the individual in increasing stages toward the identification with the Will-to-Be at the crown center . . . The root center can then be utilized for the externalization of matter which has become consciously linked to Divine Cause . . .

The connection to Neptune as the Soul-centered ruler of Cancer is very profound.  Neptune “unveiled” is not the same influence as it is when masked by the unconscious waters of the emotional life.  It is by her actions on the unredeemed lower self that Neptune earns her reputation as the primary force behind self-destructive addictions.  If the personality is not safely anchored through a strong, integrated, and aligned ego structure, the magnetic force of the waters of the psyche will indeed try to pull the struggling individual back into unconscious and undifferentiated beingness.  One has to work incredibly hard to unmask the mirages of Neptune (as focused through the Moon) to arrive at the illumination of Neptune as a vehicle for the Sun!

–Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, p. 182

Saturn stationing direct at this time in trine to Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter in Cancer corresponds to an increased ability for us to discern what sorts of mirages or illusions could have been impacting us in this recent time period. It is no coincidence in this way that Saturn in this cycle stationed retrograde back in February during an incredibly intense time period of planets lined up in Pisces.

An additional enlightening element of Cancer I have come across from looking more into esoteric astrology is the stage of incarnation it symbolizes, following the mental birth of incarnation in Aries, the solidifying of form and desire in Taurus, and the movement between the mental and emotional in Gemini.  Cancer along these lines represents a new cycle of physical incarnation that synthesizes the three previous stages of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini.  This does not mean incarnating for the first time in form, but rather means that “an incarnation in Cancer indicates that this is the first cohesive anchoring of the Soul in a physical body for a particular cycle of unfoldment”  (Oken, p. 179).  For me this brings us back full-circle to the sabian symbol interpretation by Dane Rudhyar I brought up at the beginning-  this New Moon in Cancer amid all of the other aspects of this time, calls our attention to the “particular cycle of unfoldment” we each are here on planet Earth in this moment to enact.  This is a time of germination of that multi-level potential we have within ourselves- and with the upcoming magical yet heavy astrological aspects on the horizon, it will be a time in which we can manifest our potential into tangible results.

Below is a link to a video of a dynamic drawing of the zodiac sign of Cancer developed by Wolfgang Wegener.  I learned of this technique from Evelina, an astrologer and translator of ancient texts who lives in Bulgaria, and appears to be a star sister of some sort to me, or someone whose thoughts on astrology give me a jolt to my own thinking.  I somehow managed to find her blog pretty much as soon as it was published through a link to the Chiron archetype, and I recommend reading this post here that she made, for I feel it encapsulates the larger context of what I am writing about this New Moon and the current “above” our “below.”

At this time may we be still enough to hear the birdsong, the wind, and the streaming of water ahead of us on our path, and may we have the courage to follow it.

References

Jung, Carl. (1967 edition revised from original 1912). Symbols of Transformation. Bollingen.

Oken, Alan. (1990). Soul Centered Astrology. Ibis.

Rudhyar, Dane. ( 1973). An Astrological Mandala: The Cylce of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic phases. Vintage.

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Gemini and the Ugly Duckling

Aphrodite_swan_BM_D2

Gemini New Moon: meetings of Mercury & Venus

The Lunar Eclipse on May 24 occurred at the same time that Mercury and Venus were conjunct at 19 degrees of Gemini, also in range of being conjunct Jupiter.  In June the cycle continues, as Venus and Mercury will be conjunct again, magically, at the time of the Summer Solstice.  There is some incredible synchronicity in their cycle of the moment, as the same degree of Gemini at which they were conjunct during the Lunar Eclipse on May 24 is the same degree as the New Moon in Gemini that will be occurring this week on June 8.  In his book An Astrological Mandala, Dane Rudyhar’s analysis of this Gemini degree is intriguing in connection with intentions we can set for ourselves at this time (p. 102):

Gemini 19: A LARGE ARCHAIC VOLUME REVEALS A TRADITIONAL WISDOM.

Keynote:  Contacting the all-human planetary Mind underlying any cultural and personal mentality.

Occult tradition tells us that all cyclic manifestations of the human mind have had a primordial revelatory Source. It speaks of ancient books made of especially treated papyrus leaves and conveying through symbols the archetypal processes at the root of all earthly existence. Such volumes, said to remain in the possession of certain Adepts, constitute the “exteriorization” of archetypal knowledge and wisdom. They contain the “seed-ideas” from which the human mind grows, cyclically producing cultures of various types.

What sorts of archaic volumes of traditional wisdom are accessible to people today? With the Internet, people have more access to ancient sources of wisdom than ever before.  In our earliest development, however, one of the first sources of traditional wisdom we experienced were found in Fairy Tales and picture books read to us when our language comprehension was first developing.  Through Fairy Tales we gained an archetypal sense and understanding for a number of important lessons in life, but especially in how to individuate, evolve our consciousness, and find our true path in the world.  As toddlers we could sense the great truth of these stories, and it is why the “hero’s journey” is so widely popular in analysis of myth- because it is true.  There is timeless wisdom integrated into each unique hero and heroine’s journey that appears in Fairy Tales.  Telling stories is a Gemini association, and a function of Gemini spirituality.  In Fire in the Head:  Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, author Tom Cowan relayed some of his research into the spiritual role played by storytellers in Celtic culture:

Alwyn and Brinley Rees note that the Latin word historia, from which the word story derives, is also the root for the word history, a term originally meaning “knowing,” “learned,” and “wise.”  In old Welsh the word for story meant “guidance,” “direction,” and “instruction.”  The stem for the Welsh term meant “sign,” “symbol,” “omen,” and “miracle.”  The Rees’s conclusion to this etymological puzzle is that the ancient Welsh  storyteller was indeed a seer and teacher “who guided the souls of his hearers through the world of ‘mystery’.”  Thus we find the Celtic storytellers fulfilling one of the important roles played by classical shamans, the guider and instructor of souls.

–Tom Cowan, Fire in the Head, p. 99

A Fairy Tale that has re-emerged for me in the midst of the intense astrological energy of the moment is The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson.  This is in part due to some synchronicity of events at my daughter’s elementary school.  Every year, the students observe the hatching of ducklings from eggs, that then spend some time growing up in the garden on school grounds that is tended by parents, community volunteers, teachers, and students.  In the past, my daughters and I have been part of the duckling caregiving team.  This year, something inexplicable happened:  a chick, baby chicken, was hatched among the ducklings.  The students gave her the endearing name, “Chuck,” and this chicken growing up among ducks brings up one of the most famous fairy tales of identity crisis: The Ugly Duckling.

I feel the story of the ugly duckling connects with this time and the reflection of this time in the transits of the celestial heavens, because the Uranus archetype wants us to find our own unique role, being, vibration, and behavior in the world at this time that can bring us most alive and so will help bring our collective the most alive in the process.  We are being tested in the face of authoritarian control and suppression, oppression visible in every direction we turn.  We can think of the energy needed being like the piercing call of a hawk streaking across the sky, but in reality it can be as gentle as a swan gazing at itself in the reflection of the water.  The symbolism of seeing your authentic reflection in the water is the same as the symbolism of mirrors that can be connected to the seasonal archetype of Gemini we are living in.  The idea of the twin searching for it’s other twin in the world, its soul mate- is connected ultimately for our search for our authentic self we long to find one day when looking at our self in the mirror.

Gemini Dreaming

This potential for the excitable Gemini mind of the personality to contemplatively connect with it’s authentic self and soul connects with the symbolism of The Ugly Duckling as well as the current cycle of conjunctions between Mercury and Venus.  This is because there will be another conjunction between Mercury and Venus in the next couple of weeks as Mercury begins to station to go retrograde, giving Venus the opportunity to “catch up.”  Like magic, this next conjunction will occur on our Summer Solstice of this year, at the same time there will be a grand water trine between Jupiter in Cancer, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Scorpio.    The Sabian Symbol for 22 degrees of Cancer, the degree of the next conjunction between Mercury and Venus, also fits perfectly with the meaning of the seminal swan story by Hans Christian Andersen:

Cancer 22:  A young woman awaiting a sailboat.

Keynote:  The longing for transcendent happiness in the soul opened to great dreams.

Here the symbol pictures the imaginative youthful person who basically cannot be satisfied with what his or her ordinary social environment offers, and who instead is longing for the unknown visitation of which he or she has dreamed.  From the unconscious beyond, the concretization of a spiritual image- spiritual because impelled by the “wind” (pneuma, spirit)- is hoped for and expected.  The Beloved may come- not in a glittering opera house, but in the silence of the inner sea of consciousness.

–Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 125

Indeed, finding symbolic meaning in water birds like swans can be especially resonant now, as we are wading into a water time of the zodiac with Neptune in Pisces currently stationing in preparation to turn retrograde this week, at the same time as the upcoming New Moon in Gemini on June 8.  In addition, Mercury and Venus are both in Cancer now, with Mercury currently in the position of forming a grand water trine with Pisces Neptune and Scorpio Saturn, and Venus preparing to enter a grand water trine with Neptune and Saturn soon. However, we can not expect this current water trine involving some personal planets, as well as the upcoming grand water trine involving Jupiter to be “easy,” as each water trine will be incredibly activated by the square between Uranus and Pluto.  This is especially true now in the moment, with Mercury and Venus in Cancer and slipping into the empty degree of the t-square with Pluto and Uranus, being opposite to Pluto and in square to Uranus.  The image of water birds, beings at home in the air, on land, or in water, could be helpful guides for us at this time.  In the Celtic spirituality, water birds are sacred because of their grace in navigating all three of these elements: earth, water, and air.  Think of a swan gliding gracefully across the surface of the water with all of the external turbulence of the world around it.

duckling_clarke1

The version of The Ugly Duckling written by Hans Christian Andersen was originally published in 1845, fittingly enough in the same time period that Neptune was discovered, and a few years before the last time that Neptune entered Pisces.  In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes his story as being about “the archetype of the unusual and the dispossessed,” and a timeless lesson at that:

“The Ugly Duckling” has been one of the few stories to encourage successive generations of “outsiders” to hold on till they find their own.  It is a psychological and spiritual root story.  A root story is one that contains a truth so fundamental to human development that without integration of this fact further progression is shaky, and one cannot entirely prosper psychologically until this point is realized.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, p. 167

In Han Christian Anderson’s story The Ugly Duckling, a swan egg gets mixed in with a duck’s nest, and so the mother duck raises the baby swan along with her ducklings and everyone thinks the swan is a duck.  The ducks ostracize the young swan because of his differences, forcing him on a journey where he experiences devastating setbacks over and over again.  During his difficulties the immature swan sees graceful adult swans flying above him and feels a deep calling rise up from inside.  After growing up through his trials, and while resting for a moment in water, he glances down and sees in the water’s reflection that he is in fact a swan, leading him to find a new home in a swan community.

Finding your calling and being brave enough to follow it is a plot that has dominated myths and folktales across time and still to this day is widespread in popular and cult storytelling. As children we are enchanted with the idea of having a Fairy Godmother, a guardian angel, a guiding star, or other magical being, who will help us find our path.  What if a spirit guide is actually inside each of us? Our culture is quick to label the agonizing awkwardness we can experience like the ugly duckling to be mental health issues.  We can be led to believe we are crazy from following the intuitive insight that can come from watching the flight of a bird.  But there is a guide inside each of us that will resonate with experiences that help us find our true calling- the more you try to get in touch with this inner vibration the more clear its advice to you will be.

In my own life I have had times of feeling like I was aimlessly wandering just like the young swan, when now from a distance I can see how that sense of aimlessness was an illusion; I can see how that difficult time was a gift to develop new strength.  I may have felt like I wasn’t making enough money or producing something that would be praised by my culture; I may have felt like I was mired in darkness.  However, I was really in a process of transformation due to facing myself on a deep level.  When we are willing to dive into the depths of our being we create the possibility that we can re-surface with a transformed perspective that can help manifest fulfillment.  Whenever we intuitively experience the rush of excitement that the young swan felt when seeing adult swans, we should follow it.  To interpret the sight of our own majestic swans to be the illusion is tragic.  In the moment when we choose to view reality as being about only the difficulties we are facing, we neglect the fact that we may be in the process of transforming into something transcendent to our current troubles.  In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes sums up the meaning for her of The Ugly Duckling as follows:

The duckling of the story is symbolic of the wild nature, which, when pressed into circumstances of little nurture, instinctively strives to continue no matter what.  The wild nature instinctively holds on and holds out, sometimes with style, other times with little grace, but holds on nevertheless . . .

The other important aspect of the story is that when an individual’s particular kind of soulfulness, which is both an instinctual and a spiritual identity, is surrounded by psychic acknowledgment and acceptance, that person feels life and power as never before.  Ascertaining one’s own psychic family brings a person vitality and belongingness.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, p. 172

So I invite you to listen- to truly listen to the world around you and the wisdom that can be found everywhere on your path.  Inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime.  If you listen without the filters you have developed on account of others in your culture or a family of origin that did not resonate with your inner self, you will discover significance in places you otherwise would have overlooked.  You will gain a sense that whatever is happening to you right now is just part of your process, part of your calling, part of your story.

swan

References

Cowan, Tom. (1993). Fire in the Head:  Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit. HarperSan Francisco.

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola (1992). Women Who Run with the Wolves:  Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype.  Ballantine Books.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

Taurus and Incarnation

scenes from Buddha's life

Taurus and Being Human in Form

What do you desire?  What do you value?  You may have noticed others, including astrologers, asking you these questions recently as we have been experiencing an incredibly intense time period of Taurus energy these past couple of weeks, but especially now.  Unrelated to astrology, in the community college class I teach recently students have been creating projects and writing exploring what they want to attract into their life, what their current purpose in life is, what they desire to have in their life, and what they value.  There have been as many different responses as there are different people, differences in human personalities and backgrounds, with some wanting to possess material items and others more immaterial qualities.  There has been a wide range of material desires, from wanting a more simple type of a pet or a house, to more outlandish possessions such as a private jet, exotic animals, and millions of dollars; there has also been a wide range of immaterial desires, from wanting to have happiness and provide service to the local community, to wanting to provide service to the global community and to explore a higher level of consciousness.  What all of their responses have had in common, however, is desire, human desire, and the fact that human beings have desires, and that we also tend to develop a sense of values that are important to us, and that some of us live from.  This brings up the question, what is desire?  Where do our desires and values come from?  Why do we desire and value what we do?

I was recently listening to a taped lecture by astrologer Alan Oken and gained a new sense of understanding for the sign of Taurus by hearing him break down the etymology of Incarnation.  Incarnation means “embodied in flesh” or “in the flesh,” “in the meat (carne),” and so connects with Taurus as being the second sign of the zodiac since in Taurus we incarnate into form the new impulse of celestial life connected with the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.  We can further link this concept of being in the flesh to our thoughts and emotions, and indeed the sign of Taurus is connected to not only our physical form and sensuality, but also the crystallized form of our thoughts and feelings that make up the value system we live from.  The image of the Buddha above may not be the first one that comes to mind when you think of Taurus, the sign of the bull, until you begin to consider how his teachings connect with the conflicts we encounter in our physical incarnation in a body, and the suffering we cause ourselves through the crystallized patterns of thoughts and emotions we view our world from.

In contrast to thinking of the Buddha when we think of Taurus, as a result of Venus traditionally ruling Taurus in astrology many tend to visualize the sign as a sensual Goddess enjoying her physical incarnation and all the pleasures that can come through it.  And of course, since Taurus is the sign of the bull, we also associate Taurus energy as being embodied by a bull who can be fully engrossed in the presence of the moment in its natural setting, again soaking in the physical delights of its physical form:

MoreauEuropa_and_the_Bull

Taurus is all about being in our body and feeling the sensations of our world  upon our flesh.  The connection to Venus can be felt in the sensuality of our flesh merging with the flesh of our lover, the scent of our lover’s sweat, the taste of their skin.  The crystallization of thought and desire in Taurus can be seen in how we become possessive of this feeling, possessive of our lover, how some can become obsessed more with the intensity of past romantic experience more so than manifesting love into their current life.  This is the shadow side of Taurus, and we can have karmic consequences for our possessiveness.  For example, the image above is one of the most significant catalytic events in myth:  Zeus desiring to possess the beautiful Europa, so transforming himself into a bull to lure her away, and carry her off to the land that became Europe.  The desire of Taurus to possess and hold onto objects or values is where we can apply the expression of “being stubborn like a bull,” and the angry emotions that can erupt out of the normally calm Taurus when a desired object or value is lost is when Taurus can be described as “being like a bull in a china shop.”  The strong sensual desire of Taurus can be applied to anything in our life, such as the taste of food or the more nurturing touch of a friend or family member.  It can vary from culture to culture, especially where material items are concerned: to some possessing a high octane mechanical vehicle with plush interior made up of the skin of a cow could be important, whereas to someone else owning the cow itself could be important.  With Taurus it can come down to possessing what we desire, and this is where we can come down into our suffering.  This is because if anything is true in life it is change.  And since everything is constantly changing, if we are consumed with possessing something we can suffer when it goes away.

Hopefully you can sense by now how in addition to the Goddess Venus, the Buddha clearly connects with the sign of Taurus as well, and not only because he is believed to have been born, reached enlightenment, and have died during the time of Taurus.  When we consider the historical life of the man who became the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, we can imagine that he grew up in a constant state of hedonistic delight, having his every desire attended to, as the popular version of his story indicates his father the King attempted to shield him from the suffering of the external world.  The fact the Buddha grew up in such a materialistic state mirrors the lower nature of Taurus, the side of Taurus that has a desire for material possessions that can never be satiated; the more it possesses, the more it continues to desire more materialism.  In contrast, the higher nature of Taurus mirrors the spiritual development of the Buddha away from attachment to matter and desire, into freedom from materialism, gaining the freedom to connect with Spirit.  In Soul-Centered Astrology, Alan Oken illuminated this connection between Taurus and the Buddha:

The Buddha taught that the path of detachment from desire is the vehicle for the entrance of Light; that is, the Creative Will . . . He did this through those methods which imparted the means to awaken the Third Eye- the “Eye of the Bull.”  This awakening brings into one’s daily life a consciousness in which the expression of the Soul is centered in the intuitive or “Buddhic” plane.  Such an awakening brings forth the potential for the fullest expression of our humanness.  In this respect, the dual horns of the Bull become the single horn of the one pointed spiritualized being, as symbolized by the Unicorn . . . As we open our hearts and Higher Minds, we externalize those aspects of ourself which correspond to the Christ and the Buddha.  This opening is at the core of all of our efforts at self-realization; this is the realization of the Self.  The work to free ourselves from possessiveness and materiality so that through these lessons true Wisdom may emerge is very definitely at the center of the Taurean phase of the turning of the wheel.

— Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, pp.  167-168

It is traditionally said that at the age of 29 Siddhartha finally journeyed beyond the confines of his controlled life, and was able to witness the old, the sick, the dying, and the dead, causing an expansion of consciousness from within.  In astrology, the age of 29 is significant for being the time of the first Saturn return, a transit that embodies the karmic meaning of this turning point in the Buddha’s life.  He left his princely palace life in order to follow his own Path of Spirit, a journey which took him into many turns leading within himself.  In contrast to the hedonism of his youth, he went to the extremity of abandoning all sensory delight into a lifestyle of ascetism, learning in the process that a Middle Way was the True Path.  Out of this insight came his Four Noble Truths:  the truth of dukkha (translated as suffering, stress, anxiety, or dissatisfaction), the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering.  The Buddha next elaborated upon an Eightfold Path that leads to enlightenment:  Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.  These can perhaps become more manageable to think of grouped into three categories:  “Right View (encompassing Understanding and Thought), Right Relationship (consisting of Speech, Action, and Livelihood), and Right Meditation (Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration)².”

The astrology of the moment suggests we can be gaining a lot of information into the root causes of our current wounds this lifetime, no matter your beliefs concerning past lives, with the potential to notice how our perception of reality and our attachment to forms could be causing our suffering.  It brings up the question of whether or not learning more about how we have been wounded can even be useful.  Is it useful to go into our wounds? Mark Epstein, who studied and practiced Buddhism before becoming a psychotherapist, explored these questions deeply in his book Going on Being:  Buddhism and the Way of Change, recounting this story of the Buddha:

Talking one day in the forest environment that he favored, he suddenly held up a handful of simsapa leaves and asked the attentive bhikkhus (or monks) to tell him which was greater, the leaves in his hand or the leaves in the surrounding grove . . .

“Very few in your hand, Lord. Many more in the grove,” they replied with unsparing simplicity and none of my taste for duplicity.

It was the same with his psychological and spiritual knowledge, responded the Buddha. Like the many leaves of the simsapa grove, his knowledge far exceeded the handful of his teachings.  Out of the vastness of all possible understanding, he taught only that which in his view led to freedom.  When asked why he would not reveal other facts about reality, he gave the following reply:

“Because, friends, there is no profit in them; because they are not helpful to holiness; because they do not lead from disgust to cessation and peace; because they do not lead from knowledge to wisdom and nirvana.  That is why I have not revealed them.”

The Buddha’s teachings were always direct and to the point.  In coming up against the world of psychotherapy, I have tried to use his words from the simsapa grove as a guide.  “How much of this analytic wisdom is actually helpful?”  I have wondered.  “Does it lead to wisdom, cessation, and peace?”  In the Buddhist view, knowledge is never envisioned as an end in itself but only as a beginning, useful as a means of getting oriented.

–Mark Epstein, p. 119-121

Mark Epstein explored important questions in this book, bringing up the fact he had many friends and associates who gained insights through therapy and yet remained as unhappy, dissatisfied, and egocentric after being in therapy as they were before.  He felt a place where Buddhism, meditation, and psychotherapy can all be helpful is the concept of “going on being,” which he first read about through British child analyst D.W. Winnicott.  The idea of going on being is having “an uninterrupted flow of authentic self,” similar to the pure action displayed most often in our culture by young children.  According to this idea of going on being, it “does not need to connote any fixed entity of self; but it does imply a stream of unimpeded awareness, ever evolving, yet with continuity, uniqueness, and integrity.  It carries with it the sense of the unending meeting places of interpersonal experience, convergences that are not blocked by a reactive or contracted ego” (p. 30-31).  Epstein connects this non-attachment to a “fixed entity of self” to the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha, since the Buddha taught that the first type of clinging is for “pleasant sensory experiences,” and is “equivalent in many ways to the Freudian sexual drive and involves the seeking after sensory gratification” (p. 10).  Later in the book, Epstein shows how this dukkha of the Four Noble Truths relates to our suffering, and to me this connects with the strong energy of Taurus we are currently experiencing:

We want what we can’t have and don’t want what we do have; we want more of what we like and less of what we don’t like.  We are always a little bit hungry, or a little bit defensive, anticipating the slipping away of that which we have worked so hard to achieve.  Behind every suffering, Buddhist teachers say, is the desire for things to be different.  This attempt to control or manage what cannot be changed interferes with our going on being.  We worry about the past and anticipate the future or worry about the future and anticipate the past.  Our self-centeredness causes us to create an uneasy relationship with the world in which we try to fend off any threats to our hard-fought security.  This sets up an indefensible position; we become like a fortress:  a self within a mind within a body that is threatened from all sides.  (p.55-56)

Epstein also connects this issue to being a therapist, and how his “desire for control, in the form of being a helper, is as much of an obstacle to healing another person as it is to healing oneself” (p. 56).  These aspects of dukkha related to self-identity are the other two types of “clinging” taught by the Buddha:   clinging for “being” and for “nonbeing.”  This is an important aspect I don’t have the space or time in this blog to properly explore, but it is sometimes the idea of being “empty” or lacking ego that draws some to Buddhism in order to get away from their egocentric perspective; however, to the Buddha, in either case it is the “mind’s need for certainty” that shortchanges reality (p.22).  The Buddha taught the middle path because the self concept of being a “somebody” or a “nobody” are both mistakes, having a “self-centered attitude is as much of a problem as the self-abnegating one” (p.22).  It is “our sense of self-certainty” in either case that is the issue, because since life is always changing, if we are clinging to any sense of self too strongly we are not being fully in the moment, fully going on being (p.22).  Epstein also brings up insights taught by his friend and teacher Ram Dass in his book, including that it is also a mistake to try to get rid of unwanted parts of ourselves in an attempt to gain greater freedom.  Instead if we can develop a practice of mindfulness and awareness, the “more we bring our attachments into awareness, the freer we become, not because we eliminate the attachments, but because we learn to identify more with awareness than with desire.  Using our capacity for consciousness, we can change perspective on ourselves, giving a sense of space where once there was only habit.  Discipline means restraining the habitual movement of the mind, so that instead of blind impulse there can be clear comprehension” (p. 71).  Since we are in a time of such tremendous Taurus energy, and Taurus has a strong tendency to want to hold onto past habits of comfort in order to gain a sense of self-security, it will be especially important now to practice greater awareness and mindfulness of our attachments.

So in this time of great Taurus energy, we can perhaps use our powerful sensory abilities to become more aware of our desires.  This is somewhat similar to the “diamond approach” of A.H. Almaas that involves sensing one’s body in an ongoing basis, with focus on a point in the belly, helping one to become more grounded in physical body and physical reality, and eventually bringing with it the potential to become more in touch with a spiritual essence.  To me, this is also somewhat similar to “gut wisdom” and the danger that if we are not practicing awareness, we can end up reacting to events from our guts that are more rooted in our past wounding than from a place of heart-centered awareness of the moment.  The potential of using Taurus sensory awareness to develop greater connection with Spirit and presence in the Now of the constant flux of life, also reminds me of the wisdom contained in Taoism.  In particular the following quote from the Tao Te Ching translation by Stephen Mitchell (45), brings up for me the perspective we can gain from losing attachment to form so that we can truly use the form of our life in greater alignment with what is actually happening around us:

True perfection seems imperfect,

yet it is perfectly itself.

True fullness seems empty,

yet it is fully present.

True straightness seems crooked.

True wisdom seems foolish.

True art seems artless.

The Master allows things to happen.

She shapes events as they come.

She steps out of the way

and lets the Tao speak for itself.

bull in lascaux cave

Current Transits in Taurus & Scorpio

As I am writing this, the Sun and all of the personal planets are in Taurus:  Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Venus is literally in the final culminating minutes of her most recent pass through Taurus.  This Taurus energy is even more intense today as later we will experience a Solar Eclipse in Taurus, with the Sun and Moon within a few degrees of the South Node of the Moon in Taurus.  The fact that the South Node of the Moon is  in Taurus means collectively, all souls on our planet are processing and synthesizing past issues connected with Taurus, including past life issues that could be buried in our unconscious.  The image of the Bull above in the ancient caves of Lascaux, France represents just how long the archetypal image of the Bull has been significant to humans- we are talking over 17,000 years ago most likely!  Once we step into belief in the possibility of us having a soul, a soul that has had previous incarnations on this planet, we step into the possibility that we could be impacted somewhere in our psyche by events from even as long ago as when this bull above was painted on the wall of a cave.

We can again bring the Buddha into our discussion of these times of Taurus because part of his spiritual awakening involved knowledge of his many previous incarnations, bringing the awareness that we all have a soul we have been re-incarnating in many different forms in many different lifetimes or incarnations.  In astrology, two of the approaches I am most drawn to are deeply connected with the Soul:  Evolutionary Astrology and Esoteric Astrology.  It is fascinating that both of these astrological approaches have a channeled background:  the Evolutionary Astrology paradigm as taught by Jeffrey Wolf Green originally came to Jeff in a dream, in Sanskrit from Sri Yuketswar, the guru of Yogananda;  in comparison, the Esoteric Astrology material was channeled by Alice Bailey from the Tibetan Master D.K., and is currently being taught and made popular by Alan Oken and his work in astrology.  In her book Esoteric Astrology, Alice Bailey described the connection between Taurus and incarnation:

As the individual descends into incarnation and when he takes an astral shell (emotional body), he definitely comes into a Taurian cycle, for it is desire which impels to rebirth and it takes the potency of Taurus to bring this about.

–Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology, p. 380

This link between desire and re-incarnation is part of the answer to my question at the beginning of this article concerning the origins of our desires, and why we have them.  The Evolutionary Astrology paradigm taught by Jeffrey Wolf Green also places great importance on the connection between our desires, our Soul, and our past incarnations.  Green teaches that the placement and aspects of Pluto describes the types of desires the soul has had in previous lives that have a direct connection to the current evolutionary intentions of the current lifetime- in Sanskrit this archetype is called Prarabdha Karma.  As a result of Pluto correlating with our soul desires, Green teaches that it also correlates with our deepest sense of security, meaning that by connecting with the sources of our soul desires, we can maintain a sense of self-consistency and security- so we tend to have a hard time moving beyond our desires as they are connected with our soul, our previous incarnations, and our comfort zone.

With regards to the South Node of the Moon, Green describes it as correlating to the kind of ego identities that the soul has created in past lives in order to actualize the evolutionary desires of the soul.  Since the current South Node of the Moon in Taurus will be conjunct the Solar Eclipse today, all of our soul desires on a collective and individual level could be triggered.   Amazingly, the Sabian Symbol for the current South Node of the Moon in Taurus at 17 degrees is connected with the story of Gautama Siddhartha in his process of becoming the Buddha.  In An Astrological Mandala, Dane Rudyar links the symbol for 17 Taurus to the Buddha in this way:

When Gautama, having sought in vain for the answers to his questions among the teachers of tradition, sat under the Bodhi Tree, he had to fight his own battle in his own way, even though it is an eternal fight.  The spiritual light within the greater Soul must struggle against the ego-will that only knows how to use the powers of this material and intellectual world.  There is no possibility of escape; it is the energy that arises out of the present moment- the inescapable NOW- that the daring individual has to use in the struggle.

The symbol is A SYMBOLICAL BATTLE BETWEEN “SWORDS” and “TORCHES,” and according to Dane Rudhyar, “suggests that salvation is attained through the emergent individual’s readiness to face all issues as if there were only two opposed sides . . . a stage of POLARIZATION OF VALUES” (p.  81).  Tied into this symbol is a “seeker” who has transformed into a “warrior,” “refusing to depend upon the past,” and “fighting anew the eternal Great War” (p. 81).  Polarity is an important concept in Evolutionary Astrology as well, for example integrating the polarity point of Pluto (Cancer to Capricorn; Scorpio to Taurus) is connected to our evolutionary development similar to integrating the North Node of the Moon.  Taurus being the sign of the South Node of the Moon at this time makes us even more magnetized than usual to past patterns because of the comfort Taurus finds in the stability, and so it will take the intense transformation energy of it’s archetypal polarity, Scorpio, to force us onto a path of greater evolutionary growth.

Since eclipses often correlate with sudden and unexpected events that can be uncomfortable, this Sabian Symbol of Gautama becoming the Buddha suggests we could experience spiritual growth through facing the events without attachment to our past, and through welcoming the struggle between the will of our soul and the will of our ego personality- achieving growth in consciousness through the conflict.  Rudhyar’s description of the Buddha in this Sabian Symbol is also a timely image for the current South Node of the moon because it brings a sense of an active warrior energy to the traditional image of a calm, peaceful Buddha-  this is because we will need to actively move beyond our ties to past patterns of desire into greater freedom and a new life of meaning amid the flux of changes that will most likely occur in this time period of eclipses.  Today’s eclipse correlating with greater awareness of spiritual forces is further shown through the Sabian Symbol of the Solar Eclipse at 20 degrees Taurus:  “Wisps of winglike clouds streaming across the sky,”  described by Dane Rudhyar as a sign that an “individual who has taken a new step in his evolution should look for the ‘Signature’ of divine Powers confirming his progress . . . The ‘winglike clouds’ may also symbolize the presence of celestial beings (devas, angels) blessing and subtly revealing the direction to take, the direction of ‘the wind’ of destiny” (Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 83).  If we make the difficult or uncomfortable choice to move out of our comfort zone into accordance with our evolutionary growth- again, this could feel like a polarity to the desires and values we feel secure with- we will hopefully receive guidance or signs of synchronicity showing we are on the correct path.

It will not be easy to be move beyond patterns of desire associated with the South Node of the Moon because of the large number of transits currently impacting it:  on May 6, the Sun was conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Taurus, and on May 7 Mercury and Mars became conjunct in range of a conjunction with the South Node (the third conjunction of Mercury and Mars in 2013:  they were conjunct twice in Pisces in February).  So our soul purpose (Sun), perception and organization of reality (Mercury) and sense of Will (Mars) will all be connected with the South Node at the time of the eclipse.  The recent Mercury and Mars cycle is connected with the intense Pisces energy we experienced in February (which then became the intense Aries energy of April, the intense Taurus energy of May- more so than normal just so you know!). On February 8, Mercury and Mars were conjunct in Pisces (also conjunct Neptune and Chiron in Pisces and square Jupiter in Gemini), and then once Mercury stationed retrograde, they were conjunct again on February 26, 2013 in square to Ceres in Gemini (I wrote about this here:  https://esotericembers.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/an-angel-watches-over-an-argument-between-ceres-and-mercury/).  Now, three months later, they are finally conjunct once again, conjunct the South Node of the Moon at the same time as a Solar Eclipse conjunct the South Node of the Moon!  In the time of Pisces we were able to open to some sense somewhere of greater vision and possibility in our life- now is the time to manifest, and work with our mind to change the way we are thinking, to align our mind and our perceptions with not only our Will but the Divine Will of the Universe.  The Buddha and Buddhism teaches that we are what we think, that we become what we think, and that it is possible to change who and what we become in form, through changing the form of our thoughts.

In addition, with Jupiter continuing to be in Gemini and Venus moving into the beginning of Gemini at the time of the eclipse, we could experience a flood of information concerning the desires we have that are linked with past incarnations, more information than could even seem useful because of the overwhelming feeling it brings.  It again brings up the issue of whether or not all this information, this going into our past problems can help us- and again, the advice of the Buddha to train mind, discipline mind, in order to disentangle ourselves from our past thoughts and desires, in order to change through changing the way we think, does feel helpful to me.  Indeed, if we look at the Sabian Symbol for the North Node of the Moon, 17 degrees Scorpio, at the time of today’s Solar Eclipse, we will see that we do indeed have this power of divine thought within us:

Scorpio 17:  A Woman, fecundated by her own spirit, is “Great with child.”

Keynote:  A total reliance upon the dictates of the God-within.

. . . here we see the result of a deep and complete concentration reaching to the innermost center of the personality where the Living God acts as a fecundating power.  This reveals the potency of the inward way, the surrender of the ego to a transcendent Force which can create through the person vivid manifestations of the Will of God.

–Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 202

So even though the strong Taurus energy in this time period could potentially correspond with us falling into even more of a comfort zone than normal, we can use the deep rooted centering of Taurus to help us be present to the transformations occurring around us with our full being.  But in order to do this in connection with our evolutionary intentions, we will need to do it while integrating the polarity of Taurus: Scorpio.  Scorpio is the polarity to Taurus, and the location of our collective focus of evolutionary growth in the form of the North Node of the Moon, as well as the current location of Saturn, the great karmic master of our three dimensional reality here.

mahakala

At the time of today’s eclipse, the North Node of the Moon and Saturn will be widely conjunct in Scorpio.  Saturn in Scorpio to me is like the karmic taskmaster Mahakala, seen in the image above.  Mahakala is always depicted with five skulls, the five skulls standing for the transmutation of desires into wisdom.  Mahakala destroys ignorance, confusion, and doubt, he is the Lord of Time and the Lord of Death, and to me is like Saturn in Scorpio in that he may seem intense and even wrathful, but in his intensity he purifies and protects.  At this time of Saturn in Scorpio standing in opposition to the extreme magnetic desire energy of Taurus, it is a time for us to face our desires and places we are acting out of confusion without fear.  It is a time to go through death, because death is our friend in transformation-  like Mahakala, we can make friends with our own personal “demons” and integrate ourselves into greater consciousness, as Mahakala turns demons into protection.  It is like how Taurus rules our desires for form, and in Scorpio we transcend or transmute our desires beyond attachment to form.  It is like the phoenix rising from the flames.  We do not fear death, we step into it and experience our freedom.  In another passage from Going Into Being, Mark Epstein explains his understanding of Nirvana and how it is not really about death, it is about the freedom we gain from releasing the fear of death:

Nirvana is the Buddha’s word for freedom, not for death.  It is his answer to the problem of common unhappiness, to the anxiety that is encapsulated most clearly in the fear of death.  Nirvana, as the late San Francisco Zen master Suzuki Roth put it, is the capacity to maintain one’s composure in the face of ceaseless change.  The key, from the Buddha’s perspective, is to find nirvana through overcoming one’s own self-created obstacles to that composure.  The path to nirvana means working with one’s own reactions to the change that surrounds us, to the change that we are.

–Mark Epstein, Going on Being: Buddhism and the Way of Change, p. 125

Joseph Campbell and others have elaborated upon the significance of ritualistic deaths in myths and in the reality of cultures around our planet, in that the important thing is that the participants believe they are going to die, and so experience a death of their infantile ego.  Some of the most widely practiced ancient rituals were connected with myths of the underworld, resurrection, and transcendence of form, such as the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and the myth of Isis and Osiris.  Going through a near death experience, or a ritualistic experience in which we believe we may die, helps us destroy our ego perspective that feels dependent upon society or the expectations of others to validate our authority, and helps us step into our own inner authority in an authentic manner without fear of judgment.  I do not mean to suggest that we need to go through a death experience at this time in our lives, just that the symbol of death and transformation associated with the archetype of Scorpio is very important right now, being the polarity to so much Taurus energy.

In fact, this transformation we could experience at this time could be quite peaceful, calm, and meditative, if we are using some of the wisdom teachings of the Buddha.  The Sabian Symbol for the current placement of Saturn in Scorpio is especially illuminating in this way:

Scorpio 8:  A calm lake bathed in moonlight

Keynote:  A quiet openness to higher inspiration

One could stress the romantic suggestions such an image evokes, but even at the level of a love relationship what is implied is a surrender of two personal egos to the inspiration of transcendent feelings which are essentially impersonal.  Love expresses itself through the lovers, for real Love is a cosmic undifferentiated principle or power which simply focuses itself within the “souls” of human beings who reflect its light.  The same is true of the mystic’s love for God.  Man strives hard to achieve great things through daring adventures, but a moment comes when all that really matters is to present a calm mind upon which a supernal light may be reflected.

–Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 196

To quote one of my favorite wise womyn on planet earth, master herbalist Carol Trasatto, this “balm of calm” could be quite helpful in these intense days ahead.  If we can reach within for this calm state of mind and being, we can be like the reflective surface of a tranquil lake receiving the glow of the full moon, like our calm mind receiving the Light of Spirit.  A helpful meditation for these upcoming times can be found in this translation of the Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell (63):

Act without doing;

work without effort.

Think of the small as large

and the few as many.

Confront the difficult

while it is still easy;

accomplish the great task

by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;

thus she achieves greatness.

When she runs into a difficulty,

she stops and gives herself to it.

She doesn’t cling to her own comfort;

thus problems are no problem for her.

Buddhist_Vajravarahi_Yantra

Harmony through Conflict

Times of eclipses are usually never easy, but when exactly is life easy for humans on our planet these days?  If we look at the symbol above, a six pointed star or what is often commonly referred to as the “Star of David,” we can see a symbol to meditate upon for guidance.  Similar to the symbol of the cross, the six pointed star meets in the middle, in the heart.  The triangle pointing upward symbolizes the transmutation of our lower nature into our higher nature, and the triangle pointing downward symbolizes the integration of our higher nature into our lower nature:  they meet in the middle, the heart.  Just as the cross meets in the middle, the heart.  The heart is the fourth chakra (the middle chakra, with three above and three below), just like humans are the fourth kingdom (three kingdoms below- mineral, plant, animal, and three kingdoms above- the soul, and the more “angelic” realms).  Sound like the middle path?  Using the number seven as a symbol for consciousness in these ways, we find that the number four is in the middle, and the number four stands for being heart-centered.  This connects with the Fourth Ray of Esoteric Astrology:  as Alan Oken teaches, what is the conflict?  Meat!  Being in the flesh, being incarnated in our physical form on this planet in the middle of extreme energies!  And what is the harmony?  Consciousness, and living a heart-centered life.  Fittingly for this Taurus eclipse season, the two main signs of the 4th Ray are Taurus and Scorpio- Taurus, the sign of being in form, beauty and art, and “the creation of the various forms of life and the ultimate release of consciousness from them that constitutes the lessons of daily living” (Oken, p.120), and Scorpio, the archetype of transcending attachment to form, ruled by Pluto on our ego level because of bringing about the death process of our desire nature.  Alan Oken has already written a brilliant summary of this dynamic, that could relate to intense events corresponding with these series of eclipses while the third Pluto-Uranus square is happening at the same time:

There is a common rhythm for those crises brought on through the urgency of Fourth Ray energy.  It may be outlined as follows:  A person finds herself in a relative state of harmony, but then a certain change enters her life, shifting the status quo.  Such a change brings on the tensions of the struggle between the past and the unfolding future, between the urge for things to stay the same and the inevitability of transformation.  A battle ensues between the two opposing forces, which leads to a passing and a death of the form of the situation.  She is left with the struggle to reconstruct a new form out of the experiences of the battle that has just taken place.  This new form consolidates and settles, and once again there is harmony– until the entrance of the next change!  Is this not the rhythm and movement of Scorpio?  The Fourth Ray, the human state, forces the resolution of conflict, the harmonizing of the pairs of opposites, and the eventual evolution from the focus of instinct and desire to the release into consciousness and pure, essential love.

–Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, p. 121

In these times of eclipses, with the third intense Pluto-Uranus square fast approaching on May 20, may we be heart-centered, heart-focused, and live from the heart.  If we can combine this with the guidance the Buddha brings to us in this season of Taurus, to train our minds to disentangle from the desires preventing us from sensing our true being in the world without interruption, we will have a heightened ability to shift and flow with whatever intense events may be on the horizon of our lives.

Hathor as a cow, from the papyrus of Ani

References

1. A.H. Almaas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._H._Almaas

2. Epstein, Mark. (200. Going on Being:  Buddhism and the Way of Change. Broadway Books.

3. Mitchell, Stephen (1988). Tao Te Ching. Harper Collins.

4. Oken, Alan.(1990). Soul-Centered Astrology:  A Key to Your Expanding Self.  Ibis.

5. Rudhyar, Dane. (1974).  An Astrological Mandala:  The Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic Phases. Vintage.

Aries and Individuation

the-birth-of-aphrodite-by-sandro-botticelli

The Birth of Archetypes

In Botticelli’masterwork The Birth of Venus we can sense the initiatory impulse of Aries:  a Goddess arising out of an oceanic expanse, naked and primal, radiant and yet revealing an inclination to slightly cover up her exposed beauty.  Or perhaps that slight insecurity is coming from the woman rushing in to cloth her, a woman who seemingly is from consensus culture because she seems to be frantically attempting to uphold the consensus rule that a woman should not be revealing her full glorious form so openly in public.  In popular astrology we are familiar with linking the sign of Aries with the sort of bravado that could lead one to skinny dipping in public, but the deeper astrological symbolism of the sign links it with the courage necessary to fully individuate ourselves, open ourselves to exposing our pure Soul and living our True Path in the world, despite influences of societal conditioning that would have us conform to consensus expectations of behavior rooted in the past and present.  In this way Aries is linked to the initial impulse to emerge in the process of Individuation developed by Carl Jung, a transformative process in which we develop an identity of our true Self through integrating different elements of our psyche into a functioning whole and holistically healing ourselves as a result.

The image of The Birth of Venus is reflected in the Sabian Symbol for the very first degree of the zodiac, the first degree of Aries:  “A woman just risen from the sea” who is embraced by a seal, and represents the “Emergence of new forms and of the potentiality of consciousness” (Rudyar, p.49).  Dane Rudhyar’s An Astrological Mandala works with the Sabian Symbols originally written about by Marc Edmund Jones, re-interpreting them as an American I-Ching in which there is a symbolic image and description for every one of the 360 degrees of the zodiac, “considered as a cyclic and structured series which formalizes and reveals the archetypal meaning of 360 basic phases of human experience” (Rudhyar, p.5).  Rudhyar gives this analysis of the first degree of Aries:

This is the first of the 360 phases of a universal and multi-level cyclic process which aims at the actualization of a particular set of potentialities.  These potentialities, in the Sabian symbols, refer to the development of man’s individualized consciousness- the consciousness of being an individual person with a place and function (a “destiny”) in the planetary organism of the Earth, and in a particular type of human society and culture.

To be individually conscious means to emerge out of the sea of generic and collective consciousness- which to the emerged mind appears to be unconsciousness.  Such an emergence is the primary event.  It is the result of some basic action:  a leaving behind, an emerging from a womb or matrix, here symbolized by the sea (p. 49-50).

In Evolutionary Astrology taught by Jeffrey Wolf Green, the cardinal archetypes like Aries have an energy of two steps forward, one step back.  This new initiation of energy that is prone to reenacting past patterns at the same time, can be found in the first Sabian Symbol of Aries in the form of the seal who is embracing the woman who has emerged from the sea.  According to Rudhyar, the seal symbolizes a “regressive step” since it is a creature of the ocean clinging to the woman attempting to emerge from the deep water.  Rudhyar illustrated this symbol as a representation that “every emergent process at first is susceptible to failure,” and that when initiating new changes we become surrounded by memories and “the ghosts of past failures during previous cycles,” and in danger of falling prey to “regressive fear or insecurity” (p. 50).  In the painting The Birth of Venus by Botticelli above, we can see this sense of insecurity even in the Goddess Venus herself, as she feels a need to slightly begin to cover herself.   However, this is exactly why the strong “impulse to be” of Aries is so important, to propel us forward into birthing our true selves into the world through actualizing new choices more aligned with our true desires, a sense of self that is not limited by past negative thought patterns or restrictive habits of behavior, and that carries the courage necessary to break free from outside expectations.

In Esoteric Astrology, Aries is directly linked to the idea of birthing new archetypal ideas into collective consciousness.  Alice Bailey in Esoteric Astrology described Aries as the “searchlight of the Logos” and the  “Light of Life Itself . . . where the Will of God is known” (p. 329-30).  Alan Oken expanded on this idea  in his  Soul Centered Astrology by claiming that this “initiating focus” of Aries makes it “the birthplace of ideas, according to the Ancient Wisdom Teachings, as all of manifestation has its beginnings as Divine Ideas” (p. 162).  Oken explained that Mercury is the esoteric ruler of Aries because “Aries is the fiery channel that provides for mercury’s expression, allowing for the birthing of a true Idea coming from the Mind of God . . . a spiritual impulse taking form” (p. 165).  In this way, Oken described  Mercury as linking “the Higher Mind with the lower so that the inner realization of one’s place in the Plan of Life may be recognized and then, through the use of applied logic, externalized” into the lower realms of our personality (p. 162-3). This esoteric view of Mercury is similar to the Hermes of ancient myth who was capable of crossing back and forth between the thresholds of the underworld and the upperworld.

Uranus being the higher octave of Mercury, and Uranus being in Aries and being triggered by numerous intense transits recently, it would seem we are in a period of time in which new archetypal ideas could be entering our collective consciousness.  On March 28, 2013 there were several incredibly potent conjunctions in Aries:  the Sun and Venus at 8 degrees of Aries, Venus and Uranus at 9 degrees of Aries, and the Sun conjunct Uranus at 9 degrees of Aries.  In addition, Venus, Uranus, and the Sun were also conjunct Mars within an approximate orb of four degrees.  Since this stellium conjunction also happened to be in orb of a square to Pluto in Capricorn, and also happened to form a yod with Jupiter in Gemini pointing to Saturn in Scorpio, the week of Easter this year has been fertile with fateful astrological energy.  If you lack extensive knowledge of astrology and do not really understand the significance of the astrological transits I just mentioned, just know that if ever Aries could be linked to the idea of birthing new forms of archetypes in our collective consciousness, this would clearly be the time.  At the time of this writing we still remain with the vortex of incredible Aries energy, as Venus at the moment is headed for her cyclic two year or so conjunction with Mars, which will happen on April 6 at 20 degrees of Aries, here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The term “archetypes” at this point in the history of astrology is usually tossed around by writers without reflecting upon the origins of the word, which in published authorship can be traced to one Carl Jung.  In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas explained that it was in part through his research on synchroncities that “Jung came to regard archetypes as expressions not only of a collective unconscious shared by all human beings but also of a larger matrix of being and meaning that informs and encompasses both the physical world and the  human psyche” (p. 82-3).  Tarnas goes on to explain that he believes astrology primarily effects our lives as humans through an archetypal process, noting that while “the original Jungian archetypes were primarily considered to be the basic formal principles of the human psyche, the original Platonic archetypes were regarded as the essential principles of reality itself, rooted in the very nature of the cosmos . . . Integrating these two views (much as Jung began to do in his final years under the influence of synchronicities), contemporary astrology suggest that archetypes possess a reality that is both objective and subjective, one that informs both outer cosmos and inner human psyche, ‘as above, so below'” (p. 85-6).

Recently, I have felt compelled to read some of Jung’s own original writing regarding archetypes and how he came to describe them.  In his book Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung criticized the connotation of the term “archaic remnants” created by Freud to describe dream imagery evoking ancient myths because it suggested that they were psychic unconscious elements collected by the conscious mind like a trash can.  Instead, Jung argued that his term “archetypes” carried the meaning that instead of being lifeless “remnants,” that these archetypal associations and images “are an integral part of the unconscious, and can be observed everywhere,” and that they “form a bridge between the ways in which we consciously express our thoughts and a more primitive, more colorful and pictorial form . . . that appeals directly to feeling and emotion” (p. 47-49).  Jung believed that archetypal images and associations connect our “rational world of consciousness” with our “world of instinct” (p. 49).

My views about the “archaic remnants,” which I call “archetypes” or “primordial images,” have been constantly criticized by people who lack a sufficient knowledge of the psychology of dreams and of mythology. The term “archetype” is often misunderstood as meaning certain definite mythological images or motifs. But these are nothing more than conscious representations; it would be absurd to assume that such variable representations could be inherited.

The archetype is a tendency to form such representations of a motif- representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern.  There are, for instance, many representations of the motif of the hostile brethren, but the motif itself remains the same. . . .

Here I must clarify the relation between instincts and archetypes:  what we properly call instincts are physiological urges, and are perceived by the senses.  But at the same time, they also manifest themselves in fantasies and often reveal their presence only by symbolic images.  These manifestations are what I call the archetypes.  They are without known origin; and they reproduce themselves in any time or in any part of the world- even where transmission by direct descent or “cross fertilization” through migration must be ruled out.  (p.67-69)

–Carl Jung from Man and His Symbols (1964)

Thus according to the man who coined the term “archetypes,” they are not in fact locked in to rigid definitions or classifications, but are indeed open to being birthed into new representations like the Esoteric Astrology interpretation of Aries, as long as they retain their basic pattern.  In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas highlights the “factor of human co-creative participation” in contemporary astrology, and how “planetary archetypes . . . not only endure as timeless universals but are also co-creatively enacted and recursively affected through human participation” (p.86).  Tarnas emphasized that planetary archetypes “must be formulated not as literal concretely definable entities but rather as dynamic potentialities and essences of meaning that cannot be localized or restricted to a specific dimension,” and so archetypes should be “evoked” instead of “defined,” and are “better conveyed through a wide range of examples that collectively illustrate and suggest the enduring intangible essense that is variously inflected through the archetype’s diverse embodiments” (p. 89).

Fittingly enough, I had the opportunity to hear Alan Oken speak for the first time on Easter Sunday of 2012 at the NORWAC astrology convention here in the Pacific Northwest.  He spoke of the ancient battle between Kronus or Saturn, one who is frightened of the timeless and wants to create finite strucutres, and Ouranos or Uranus, one who wants to break finite structures up.  He referenced the mythology of The Birth of Venus painting by Botticelli, describing how when Saturn castrated his father Uranus, the Sky God who was the father of the archetypes, he threw his testes into the oceanic realm of Poseidon or Neptune, creating a fertile matrix in the process that gave birth to Aphrodite or Venus.  Oken said as the father of the archetypes, Uranus breathes new creative fields and has no more powerful place than its current residence in Aries, as new ideas will pour into the collective consciousness.  This influx of new images and insights, Oken elaborated, is due to the fact that Uranus individuates and is the place of the unexpected where you do not follow the norm.  Like I previously mentioned, the link between Uranus, Aries, and Individuation is fascinating from an esoteric perspective since Mercury rules Aries in Esoteric Astrology, and Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury.  With these dynamic descriptions of archetypes in mind, and in consideration of the intense Aries focalizing of energy at this time in the form of the Sun, Venus, Uranus and Mars, the time appears to be ripe to individuate a new sense of the archetypes for ourselves that can likewise be integrated into the greater collective consciousness.  For example, in our modern astrological context, we tend to view Saturn as being the representation of consensus rules, regulations, and expectations of behavior.  What this consensus reality looks like is constantly shifting in modern times, with each new generation ascending with all of its myriad fractals of individuation occurring inside.  In Evolutionary Astrology and other teachings, Uranus carries an energy of collective trauma that can be seen in the myth by Uranus being castrated by Saturn, while also carrying an unstoppable energy of individuation as a result of overcoming the societal conditioning of Saturn, as seen in this castration giving birth to the radiant Goddess Venus.  How each of us interprets this myth in our own time, the specific images that may come to mind as representations, will vary widely and will be shifting with time.  However, the basic pattern remains nonetheless.

800px-Sidney_Hall,_Aries_and_Musca_Borealis,_1825

Individuation

The archetype of Aries has been linked with individuation in many works of astrological literature.  In Pluto: the Evolutionary Journey of the Soul,  Jeffrey Wolf Green describes the evolved Aries archetype as having the “intrinsic courage and capacity to break new ground in whatever aspect of life that they apply themselves to, and can give courage to others to do the same thing” (p. 51).  Green describes people with Pluto in Aries or the First House as sensing that they have a “special destiny on a very instinctual basis,” and that as a result they desire to have the “freedom and independence to initiate and fulfill any desire or experience they deem necessary, because experience is the vehicle through which they discover or become who and what they are” (p. 43).  Thus, in Evolutionary Astrology, Aries  embodies an instinctual “sense of personal self-discovery that is felt at every moment” (Green, p. 43).  Whether we have planets in Aries or not, when we follow our instinctual inner drive to fulfill our desires, we begin to set off on our own personal path toward individuation, much like the Fool in the tarot.

When terminology like “individuation” becomes so popular and commonplace in astrology and psychology that we talk and write about it like it is already understood by everyone in the same manner, it can be helpful to research the roots of the words and when it entered the mainstream of psychological literature.  In Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, Marie Louise von Franz wrote a series of articles brilliantly illuminating the definition and meaning of individuation.  Especially compelling to me is her use of a pine tree seed as a symbol for individuation, and how the totality of a full-grown pine tree lies latent within the being of the seed:

 The seed of a mountain pine contains the whole future tree in a latent form; but each seed falls at a certain time onto a particular place in which there are a number of special factors, such as the quality of the soil and the stones, the slope of the land, and its exposure to sun and wind. The latent totatlity of the pine in the seed reacts to these circumstances by avoiding the stones and inclining toward the sun, with the result that the tree’s growth is shaped.  Thus an individual pine slowly comes into existence, constituting the fulfillment of its totality, its emergence into the realm of reality.  Without the living tree, the image of the pine is only a possibility or an abstract idea.  Again, the realization of this uniqueness in the individual man is the goal of the process of individuation.

From one point of view this process takes place in man (as well as in every other living being) by itself and in the unconscious; it is a process by which man lives out his innate human nature.  Strictly speaking, however, the process of individuation is real only if the individual is aware of it and consciously makes a living connection with it.  We do not know whether the pine tree is aware of its own growth, whether it enjoys and suffers the different vicissitudes that shape it.  But man certainly is able to participate consciously in his development.  He even feels that from time to time, by making free decisions, he can cooperate actively with it.  This co-operation belongs to the process of individuation in the narrower sense of the word.

Man, however, experiences something that is not contained in our metaphor of the pine tree.  The individuation process is more than a coming to terms between the inborn germ of wholeness and the outer acts of fate.  Its subjective experience conveys the feeling that some supra-personal force is actively interfering in a creative way.  Once sometimes feels that the unconscious is leading the way in accordance with a secret design.  It is a as if something is looking at me, something that I do not see but that sees me-  perhaps that Great Man in the heart, who tells me his opinions about me by means of dreams.

But this creatively active aspect of the psychic nucleus can come into play only when the ego gets rid of all purposive and wishful aims and tries to get to a deeper, more basic form of existence.  The ego must be able to listen attentively and to give itself, without any further design or purpose, to that inner urge toward growth.  Many existentialist philosophers try to describe this state, but they go only as far as stripping off the illusions of consciousness:  they go right up to the door of the unconscious and then fail to open it (p. 162-163).

–Marie Louise von Franz, from Man and His Symbols 

Because of the dominance of popular astrology and the use of pop astrology stereotypes, for example associating an infantile, headstrong, or selfish egotist with the sign of Aries, people can make the mistake of assuming that Aries energy is meant to come off as pushy and aggressive.  Aries energy can be headstrong in the sense of being determined to follow an individuation process in the face of cultural pressure to conform, but the manner in which Aries energy can initiate this process can be more of a surrendering to one’s inner nature than a forceful assertion of one’s inner nature.  Again, in Man and His Symbols, Marie Louise von Franz uses the pine tree seed as an apt metaphor for this individuating process:

….in order to bring the individuation process into reality, one must surrender consciously to the power of the unconscious, instead of thinking in terms of what one should do, or of what is generally thought right, or of what usually happens. One must simply listen, in order to learn what the inner totality- the Self- wants one to do here and now in a particular situation.

Our attitude must be like of the mountain pine mentioned above: It does not get annoyed when its growth is obstructed by a stone, nor does it make plans about how to overcome the obstacles. It merely tries to feel whether it should grow more toward the left or the right, toward the slope or away from it. Like the tree, we should give in to this almost imperceptible, yet powerfully dominating, impulse- an impulse that comes from the urge toward unique, creative self-realization.  And this is a process in which one must repeatedly seek out and find something that is not yet known to anyone.  The guiding hints or impulses come, not from the ego, but from the totality of the psyche:  the Self.

It is, moreover, useless to cast furtive glances at the way someone else is developing, because each of us has a unique task of self-realization.  Although many human problems are similar, they are never identical.  All pine trees are very much alike (otherwise we should not recognize them as pines), yet none is exactly the same as another.  Because of these factors of sameness and difference, it is difficult to summarize the infinite variations of the process of individuation.  The fact is that each person has to do something different, something that is uniquely his own  (p. 162-164).

–Marie Louise von Franz, from Man and His Symbols

This idea of surrendering to the perhaps unconscious potential of the Self fits well with the current astrological time period and the acceleration of Aries energy occurring, having come after a time period with excessive astrological energy in Pisces.  The long Mercury retrograde in Pisces combined with Neptune, Chiron, Mars, Venus, the Moon, and the Sun all moving through Pisces may have coincided with us discovering at least a hint, if not a definitive calling, from our Soul purpose in the world, the latent potential of a glorious mountain pine tree that could grow from the seeds of our current thoughts and desires.

william blake angels appearing before shepherds

In ancient myths and spiritual texts such as the Bible, shepherds often receive divine messages, such as in the painting above by William Blake of angels appearing to shepherds.  The tending of sheep is important in all of the Abraham faiths, since Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, and Muhammad were all shepherds.  In his Complete Astrology, Alan Oken noted that the symbol of Aries, the ram, was always the sacficial animal in ancient works such as the Golden Fleece and Moses.  Moreover, Oken cites the fact that many believe that “Moses, the leader of the Exodus, was born under the sign of Aries” (p.59).   As the Christian version of Easter occurs during the time of Aries, it is fitting that we are used to associating the image of the “Lamb of God” with Jesus of Nazareth.  Alan Oken in his Complete Astrology brilliantly analyzes this connection between Jesus and lambs with the individuating purpose of Aries individuals:

In the Christian ethic, Christ was known as the “Lamb of God.”  The crucifixion was symbolic of the ancient sacrificial rites in which a lamb or a ram was offered to the Deity.  Jesus used his physical body to represent the ego of Man (the lamb) on the altar of sacrifice (the cross, representing the nature of the material world).  Through His death and resurrection, Christ illustrated that man must transcend the desires of his personality so that he can gain admittance into the Kingdom of Heaven (conscious immortality in the Spirit).

Thus the Aries individual, although always seeking to express himself in some new aspect of the life experience, is often obliged to disregard his or her own personal desires in order to make a bright future for others.  He must give of his own life-energy so that Mankind may be recharged by the force of life which the Ram embodies (p. 60)

In this time of Easter, with a potent conjunction of Venus, the Sun, Uranus, and Mars all occurring in Aries (not to mention that this Aries stellium is square Capricorn Pluto and forms a yod with Jupiter in Gemini pointing toward Saturn in Scorpio), we can resurrect our true Self or Soul, our true Genius or Juno, however you want to describe it, but the soulful callings of our life purpose we can hear in the wind, which may have fallen dormant in years past, now is burning like the bush calling out to Moses, calling on us to liberate our true being from within and actualize our true Path in the World at this time.

Agnus Dei or “Lamb of God”

by Gabriel Fauré

References

Bailey, Alice. Esoteric Astrology.

Green, Jeff. (1984). Pluto: the Evolutionary Journey of the Soul. Llewellyn.

Jung, Carl and M-L von Franz, Joseph Henderson, Jolande Jacobi, & Aniela Jaffe. (1964). Man and His Symbols. Aldus.

Oken, Alan (1980). Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology. Ibis.

Oken, Alan. (1990). Soul-Centered Astrology: a key to your expanding self.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.

Osiris: Alchemic Archetype

Osiris Glyph Asteroid

graphic and glyph by Bradley Naragon (copyright 2015 all rights reserved)

OSIRIS ASTEROID

Asteroid 1923

  • Osiris was discovered on September 24, 1960 by Cornelis Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld at Palomar Observatory near Pauma Valley, California.
  • At this time, Pluto was conjunct the North Node of the Moon in the sign of Virgo.  The Virgo Pluto and North Node was also trine Saturn in Capricorn and sextile Neptune in Scorpio. Uranus was in Leo in a balsamic phase with Pluto in Virgo- within five years they would be conjunct.

I took part in a book club discussion group with Dr. Thom Cavalli, the author of Embodying Osiris: The Secrets of Alchemical Transformation, in May 2012 on the Depth Psychology Alliance network.  In our discussions Dr. Cavalli made the point that creating an archetype for Osiris is extremely difficult because of the vast array of dissonant qualities he embodies.  Nonetheless, I found that his teaching regarding Osiris resonated with astrological archetypes, and even though Osiris embodies a huge diversity of archetypal meaning, it is a  fact astrological archetypes such as Pisces are incredibly vast and beyond our abilities to confine their meaning to singular categorizations.  I do want to make the point, however, that I am merely exploring the idea of an Osiris archetype at an early stage of development here, and I am hoping to receive comments from anyone reading this about the possible meaning of Osiris in their own life.

The “birth” signature for the discovery of the Osiris asteroid in 1960 brings up some of the major themes I feel that the Osiris archetype embodies:  Virgo, Pisces (by polarity), Scorpio, Taurus (by polarity), Capricorn, Cancer (by polarity), Leo, Aquarius, Uranus, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto, and the modern astrological interpretation of the North Node of the Moon being about an evolutionary development of Soul purpose.  I have also been interested in exploring the archetype of Isis associated with the Isis asteroid, and will do so to a greater extent in a subsequent article.  For now, I want to draw attention to the cyclic conjunctions of the Isis and Osiris asteroids, which happened again last week.  In connection with the myth of Isis and Osiris, I feel like this conjunction cycle could have the effect of “re-animating” the Osiris archetype in collective consciousness, and I am curious if anyone reading this can sense any correlations to this idea in their life.

On March 2, 2013 the asteroids Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 11 degrees of Aquarius.  From what I can tell, both the Osiris and Isis asteroids have orbits of around four years and have a cycle of conjunction about every two years (August 2007 at 21 degrees Leo; April 2009 at 13 degrees Aquarius; June 2011 at 12 degrees Leo; March 2013 at 11 degrees Aquarius; and the next one will be April 29, 2015 at 6 degrees Leo).  The fact that these recent conjunction points have all been along the Aquarius-Leo axis also goes along with the importance of both archetypes in relation to the Osiris myth.  The Aquarius archetype and it’s relationship to consensus culture, the Saturn and Capricorn archetypes, in particular feels resonate to me with Osiris, so it is fitting that this recent conjunction happened in the strong 10-11 degree range of Aquarius.

Even more fitting to the Osiris archetype, this latest conjunction and new cycle between Isis and Osiris also happened to be within a degree of a square to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio.  The degree of the Isis-Osiris conjunction in Aquarius has the following  Sabian Symbol in Dane Rudhyar’s Astrological Mandala (p. 255):

Aquarius 11 : During a silent hour, a man receives a new inspiration which may change his life.

Keynote: The need to rely upon inner inspiration and guidance at the start of new developments.

What is implied here is the essential value of keeping open to the descent of spiritual or Soul forces, especially when a new period of individual activity is about to begin. The individual should not depend mainly on outer circumstances and on traditional- and in a sense external, because collectively formulated- incentives. There is a creative power within, a power that can be tapped, or rather that should be allowed to flow into the brain-consciousness or the hands which  write or fashion materials into original forms . . . It refers to the OVERSHADOWING of the individual consciousness by an inner, yet transcendant, Power.

This symbolism from the point of the Isis-Osiris conjunction, in square to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio, reflects the deep cathartic potential of these intense times as we get closer to the next Uranus-Pluto square in May.  Saturn in Scorpio at this time, in square to Osiris-Isis reflects intense tests and challenges from our environment requiring us to go deep within ourselves to confront the core issues interfering with our ability to merge our true sense of Self into the greater world.  In my opinion, this symbolism also integrates some of the meaning of the Osiris archetype:  regeneration from within, transformation of collective conditioning through a process of artistic manifestation, and an inner “gold” we have inside of ourselves that we can access to transcend the limitations of our conditioning.

Recent significant Osiris transits:

  • March 2, 2013:  conjunction with Isis at 11 degrees of Aquarius
  • December 20, 2012 (Winter Solstice 2012):  conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn at 9 degrees of Capricorn
  • September 12, 2012:  conjunction with Juno and the North Node of the Moon at 29 degrees Scorpio

osiris

OSIRIS ARCHETYPE

  • Look to the House and Sign position of the Osiris asteroid (#1923) in your chart to find a place where you have been wounded by consensus societal conditioning, and where you have a need for self-exploration, self-transformation, and regeneration.
  • Osiris involves many diverse qualities, but especially involves archetypal themes of Taurus, ruled by Venus, and Scorpio, ruled by Mars in traditional astrology and Pluto in modern astrology. 
  • In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas linked Isis and Osiris with Pluto, as well as Shiva, Kali, Shakti, Pele, and other deities of “destruction and regeneration, death and rebirth” (p. 99)
  • Themes of individuating, themes of becoming, themes of regeneration.
  • According to Cavalli, “Osiris is best understood as a complex consisting of a cosmic deity, an earthly deity, and an underwold deity that still exists within the realm of psyche.”  Osiris is a “personal archetypal figure” who intermediates between the divine Ra, “the archetype of wholeness that includes everything conscious and unconscious,” and Horus, “the defender of the Earth” (Embodying Osiris, p. 40).

Some of the possible meanings of an Osiris archetype involve individuation, Self transformation, and alchemy.  Dr. Thom Cavalli’s book Embodying Osiris: The Secrets of Alchemical Transformation connects the etymological meaning of “alchemy” with the mythic figure Osiris.  While “al” means “the,” and “chemy” means “black,” it does not mean that alchemy is “black magic” or some other dark or evil form of witchcraft- this perspective comes from uninformed bias.  Dr. Cavalli makes the point that  “the black” has a clear link to the black, dark, moist, and regenerative soil of the Nile River in Egypt, a historically significant area of agricultural development that led to one of the world’s first dominant and extensive civilizations in the Age of Taurus (roughly 4,420 – 2,260 B.C.).  Osiris was a major deity of this civilization, the fertile River God of the Nile, and he has his roots as a God of Agriculture and Fertility in a similar manner to the Great Goddesses of this time period.  Thus, there is not only the link to Taurus through the historical astrological age (a time of Bull worship around the region), there is also connection to the Goddess energy of Venus fertility.  In addition, after undergoing symbolic and literal death in the myth, Osiris transforms into a Plutonic deity who rules the underworld and heals the souls of the dead, linking him to the Scorpio archetype and Pluto and Mars (Nergal, the Babylonian Mars in astrology and myth, was an underworld ruler). Finally,  the 8th house (Scorpio)  mastery of unconscious forces Osiris achieves can be utilized ultimately as a 2nd House (Taurus) resource: “Osiris, then, is the archetypal energy activating the unconscious so that it is not only a repository of memory, but also an incredible resource in everyday life” (p.41).

Moreover, in Embodying Osiris, Cavalli wrote that the myth of Osiris “represents an evolution of the human species from the wiles of nature into a new, civil dimension of reality . . . The ‘rising up’ of Osiris represents a new alignment of the spinal cord, a new spatial orientation, and the seminal emergence of individual identity” (p. 118).  Since the Egypt of this time period is one of the earliest dynasties of civilization in our recorded history, the Osiris archetype also connects with the dogmatic cultural beliefs and conditioning that come from the impact of societal development, the creation of civilizations with consensus rules for behavior, on personal consciousness.  In addition, the impact of societal oppression on individual consciousness can be seen in the Egyptian dynasty use of slaves, including targeting a specific social identity as slaves, such as the Jewish people.  Osiris is an archetype going to the root of our deepest unconscious memories as a collective of souls, and so when we are in contact with him, we can feel the oppressive conditioning of our historical and modern cultural context more intensely:

[Osiris is] the personification of the collective unconscious, all that existed in the collective unconscious psyche, but which was not included in the conscious religious forms of that time.

–Marie-Louise von Franz, from The Golden Ass of Apuleius: The Liberation of the Feminine in Man

This connection of the Osiris to consensus cultural conditioning involves the archetype of Saturn.  In our book group discussions, Dr. Cavalli illustrated the significance of Saturn in the alchemical process,  and it’s connection to lead in the alchemical process and our ability to regenerate “gold” from within ourselves.  He said that Carl Jung described a spectrum of development with instinct at the bottom and archetypes at the top, and that individuation involves an evolution of  consciousness from its dark, Saturnian base to higher spiritual levels.  He said that the alchemists believed that no such evolution could ever happen if there was not at least a spark of gold already latent in the lead (in alchemy Saturn is associated with lead)- this his how the germination of gold can happen. In his book, Cavalli wrote that “lead does not respond to light, yet contains it’s own light” and that it became a metaphor amongst alchemists for human beings because “in the midst of our very darkness we contain the light and fire of consciousness” (p. 92-3).  This goes with the following Jung quote:

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but making the darkness conscious

–Carl Jung, Archetypal Studies

In Embodying Osiris, Dr. Cavalli wrote that the value Carl Jung placed on alchemy, to which he obsessivly dedicated the last thirty years of his life to study, had “less to do with recipes for transmuting metals than with demonstrating psychophysical methods of transforming consciousness” (p. 49).  Jung felt that alchemy was not a replacement for nature, but instead was a method to speed up the evolutionary individuation process:  “We might conjecture that instead of having to live many lifetimes, a person could accomplish the goal of individuation in a single lifetime by applying alchemical methods” (p. 49).  In our Book Club, Dr. Cavalli said that the often quoted concept of “confronting one’s shadow” has been used to describe the alchemical process of applying operations to the Lead (I’d like to insert here our “Saturn” archetype) in order to heat up the inner spark to manifest Gold.  In his book Cavalli included this apt quote from astrologer Liz Greene:

In many ways, the ancient art of alchemy was dedicated to this end: for the base material of alchemy, in which lay the possibility of gold, was called Saturn, and this base material, as well as having a concrete existence, was also considered to be the alchemist himself. Modern psychology, which is paralleling more and more the path of the alchemists, also seeks to make a friend of Saturn although here he is called by other names.  —Liz Greene, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil

In our book club, Dr. Cavalli also commented that another method in this alchemical process could be to exhaust the instincts, which goes very well with the Evolutionary Astrology process described by Jeff Green in which we work toward evolutionary development through exhausting our deep soul desires, the resonate soul desires related to our current lifetime being symbolized by the house, sign, and aspects of Pluto in the birth chart.  The “gold” we can reach through this process is like a potential we could reach that would be so whole and balanced it would need no more transformation.  Cavalli described this “Divine Self” as “the conscious union of ego and Self, instincts and archetypes, feminity and masculinity, psyche and soma- having an active relationship with the unconscious; mastering the technique of active imagination; integrating shadow; recognizing projections; and, finally, achieving ‘object love’ with individuals, the collective, nature, and God” (p. 49) .

In the Osiris myth, the archetype of lead enters the story through the manipulative and power hungry Seth character, who tricks Osiris into becoming sealed inside a coffin, and sends him down the Nile. Seth was angry with Osiris because of his infidelity with Nephthys, who was the wife of Seth, a mating that produced the offspring Anubis.  As a result of his rage, jealousy, and desire for power, Seth not only murders Osiris but cuts his body up into various fragmented pieces.  After a long journey, that in some scenes has thematic parallels to the myth of Demeter/Ceres searching for her daughter Persephone, Isis finds Osiris, puts his body back together, makes love to him, and reanimates him long enough to produce their offspring Horus.  Ultimately, Osiris descends to the underworld and resurrects himself as the ruler and healer of souls of the dead.  In the myth, Seth represents an archetype that seeks power within societal hierarchies; he is Machiavellian and by the mere fact of having this political nature necessitates the existence of a “civilized” power structure to climb and conquer.  This symbolism is why I feel the Osiris archetype also involves the Aquarius-Leo archetypal need of liberating from dominant societal conditioning in order to find and self-actualize one’s true heroic journey, the special purpose one has incarnated into this lifetime to achieve.  Fascinating to me is that there is a mirror of the Osiris myth in the story of Moses in the Bible, who liberated the Jewish people from their Egyptian oppression in the Age of Aries.  Moses was also sent down the Nile River, but in this version he is a baby who had been born into a Jewish slave family, only to be rescued by a member of the House of the Pharaoh and taken into the inner circle of the Pharaoh.  Moses grows up surrounded by Osiris and Isis and sees firsthand how the role of the Pharaoh had become distorted through oppressive use of power.  Moses eventually becomes the liberator, and is one of many heroes in humanity’s history whose life has echoes of Osiris running through it.

Part of the trigger that led to this mythic journey of Osiris was his mating with the wife of his brother, Nephtys.  In some versions Osiris seduces her, in other versions Nephthys tricks Osiris by disguising herself as his wife Isis, but in all the versions there is the cultural taboo of infidelity explored.  This part of the myth connects with the archetypal axis of development from Taurus to Scorpio, and how sometimes it takes us exploring a cultural taboo in order to find our true value system.  In Embodying Osiris Dr. Cavalli wrote that “the world soul, Anima Mundi, and the transcendent Self envision this light that is trapped within our decaying body, a self-serving ego, and, more generally, the unconscious. From time immemorial there have been taboos to keep one from discovering this divine inner light, for unless we are ready to receive it we will either misuse this sacred light or destroy ourselves” (p. 101). Scorpio has multiple levels of symbols, the scorpion being the lower, the phoenix and the eagle a Scorpio who has moved on to a higher level of consciousness.  One key aspect of Scorpio as part of an individuation process ultimately leading to higher levels of consciousness, can at times be exploring cultural taboos and ultimately finding more of one’s true self by the end of the process.  In healing work, confronting and becoming aware of the shadow side can often involve experiencing taboos of a culture or testing taboos in different ways- often leading to a lot of shame and guilt and depression, but in the end an awareness of the shadow that can propel one through a spiral process into higher states of awareness and consciousness.  In this way, the location of Osiris in your chart could indicate a place where you go into an underworld journey of shame or depression as a result of testing certain cultural taboos that  society conditions us to believe makes us a “bad” person, but that in the end through confronting and facing these deep issues we can ultimately regenerate a truer version of ourselves.  This is because the “true gold” of our soul journey has been inside us all along.

Isis epitomizes love and loyalty; Seth, antagonism, opposition, and limits; . . . But when it comes to Osiris we encounter a psychological complex far more difficult to comprehend than that of most Egyptian deities. His relationship to life and death cannot be easily assigned certain fixed values. Rather than a state of being, his nature has more to do with the process of becoming (Cavalli, p. 63).

Furthermore, another interesting connection with Saturn, Capricorn, and collective responsibility is that this individuating process is not meant to serve our selfish ego needs, but is an act of opening ourselves to what the universe or Spirit wants from us.  Cavalli wrote that if we wish to embody the Osiris archetype, “we must take into account his ‘individuation’ as he matures into a cosmic archetype. What he does is not for self-gain but for the benefit of all. Ultimately, the spirit of the dead arrives in the duat, the fitting place for him to reign as god of the dead and master of unconscious forces” (p.1 75).  In this way the Osiris archetype can reflect the Aquarian liberation from Capricorn conditioning to ultimately make a Piscean surrender to having Capricorn responsibility for an inner power that is for the good of all, an inner power that can have a Scorpio knowledge of how to merge and use resources for the greater collective interest.

This is not easy work- the myth of Osiris symbolizes how we can become dismembered and put through death experiences in society, how our psyche can become fragmented through the experience of trauma and harsh societal conditioning.  At times it seems like it would take an act of divine intervention from a Goddess like Isis to reanimate our psyche and make us whole again. However, as the alchemical symbolism suggest, we have this spark of golden being inside of ourselves, awaiting our self-activation and actualization.

From the book Embodying Osiris by Dr. Thom Cavalli:

Osiris is a model of submission.  He allows all the terrors that befall him to occur, just as the prima materia endures the tortures of the laboratory. such deliberate sacrifice is meant to serve as a model for personal individuation. It justifies all the pain we daily suffer in order to transcend this world and leave it wiser and more enlightened. Submission and trust in this process allow love to enter the vessel.  We are then embraced by the Mother and taken into her arms.  Her only aim is that we bring something new and unique into the world.  The dead ask no less of us.  In the Red Book Carl Jung reveals that the dead want us to take up their unresolved burdens.  We are left to reassemble our lives by submitting to our ancestral destiny.  In this way, individuation is shaped by the Mother (Anima Mundi) and the souls of the departed who want us to bring their purpose to its rightful conclusion. And so, in similar fashion, we die, but our relationships live on for a time equal to the contribution we’ve made while living.

Just as Osiris dies but is not nonexistant, we too live beyond physical death.  Having an active relationship with the unconscious, we are not surprised by death nor, as Jung suggests, are we ever alone!  We have prepared ourselves for this transition- another point of constriction that we have faced before in so many different ways.  With Osiris in the underworld, the unconscious becomes a safe place for death during our lifetime.  Here it is a powerful resource and teacher.  Death serves to remind us that physical life is limited and that we must enjoy every finite moment before entering a timeless place. This realization casts a special beauty over everything that occurs in life.  Darkness enhances life’s treasures; death tinges the light with softness.  The melancholy of an Indian flute, the sound of a foghorn in the mist, tears at the cinema- these are subtle pleasures that emanate from the deepest places in our soul.  Darkness adds mystery to the soul; it colors the personality.  Even sad and depressing events are welcomed because they remind us that life oscillates between joy and sadness; each limits and expands the other. This is the dynamic order of life, what the Egyptians recognized in the rule of Ma’at- the constant rhythms found everywhere in the universe (p. 205-206).

Comments, questions, and correlations about possible meanings for an Osiris archetype are not only welcome, but sought.