Libra Equinox 2013

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Equinox of September 22, 2013

In the Northern Hemisphere where I live (Olympia, Washington of the USA) we are experiencing the Autumn Equinox today, but to remember the importance of integration and balance at the equinox, I want to acknowledge those in the Southern Hemisphere who are experiencing the Spring Equinox today.  There are obvious seasonal as well as symbolic differences between a Spring and Autumn equinox, yet each do involve the theme of balancing the yin and yang- with Spring it is more about the yang, beginnings, cleansing, elimination, new growth and creativity, whereas with Autumn it is about entering more of a yin cycle, consolidating, communicating, gaining clarity, increasing productivity and study, while being more restful (Haas, 1981).

However, the fact that we are all experiencing an Equinox today is significant and brings its own unification, as the Sun is at the point of the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator meet once again, day and night will be equal, and likewise we have the opportunity to bring greater balance to our being and community around us- the themes of both Spring and Autumn involve creating balance in their own way.  The theme of balance is especially important with this particular equinox being in the sign of Libra, the zodiac sign associated with balance.  Libra, however, is a cardinal sign of initiating action and does not mean everything will be in balance- in fact, in Libra things can feel extreme and quite out of balance- yet the intention remains to find center again, re-calibrate and re-balance, and by going through extreme events and feelings, we enter a process of being able to find a more authentic and genuine balance point.  The equinox today has signs that support setting a strong intention to find greater balance in our being by avoiding denial and take a piercing, honest look at ourselves and what habits and patterns are in need of modification.  We will soon be entering an upcoming season of eclipses and dramatic changes, and so the more we can make a clearing at this time of what needs to be released, the better prepared we will be to respond in the moment to the upcoming changes that will be occurring.

800px-Ecliptic_path

This particular equinox chart is incredibly powerful and among other themes associated with the equinox, it does point to a potential for balancing masculine and feminine energy within each of us. However, there are also signs of their being some major conflict between masculine energy wanting to boldly pursue desire and passion versus feminine energy that is penetrating to the core of everyone and everything and demanding complete honesty and authenticity.  If the striving masculine energy is genuine it’s ambition could be a catalyst for new growth; if the masculine energy is too prideful, egotistical, oppressive, or vain, the feminine energy will see through it and cut it down to size.  Here in Olympia, Washington we are having a cold and rainy equinox morning, with the winds accelerating and leaves and weak branches correspondingly falling from the trees outside.  In accordance, with the current astrological winds perhaps our own leaves and branches we are ready to release from our core trunk will fall away.  The chart for the Autumn Equinox here in Olympia, Washington is below:

AutumnEquinox2013WRIGC1

A major player in the potential shift available at this time is Pluto in Capricorn that just recently stationed direct.  Pluto had been moving retrograde since April 12, 2013 when it stationed retrograde at 12 degrees of Capricorn.  Pluto stationed retrograde last April less then a week after there was a conjunction between Mars and Venus, our masculine and feminine personal planets, at 20 degrees of Aries.  Today at the equinox, Mars and Venus are now in their first quarter square of this cycle with Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Leo.  Mars and Venus have a cycle that last for about two years, in contrast to how our Sun and Moon cycle in roughly 29 days or so.  This past April of 2013 was a time of a new cycle beginning in your own personal Mars and Venus patterns or archetypes- you can look at your birth chart for where 20 degrees of Aries is to see where this occurred in your chart, with what sorts of aspects.

Just like the first quarter Moon square to the Sun is significant, so is the first quarter energy between Venus and Mars that is coming into manifestation now.  At this point in the Venus and Mars cycle, we have gained greater awareness through our experiences in the past five months of our patterns in relationship associated with our inner feminine/masculine and what we may desire versus what we have manifested in reality.  Venus in the sign of Scorpio, conjunct Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at this time, is an especially powerful evening star manifestation of the Goddess that is carrying more weight than Mars in Leo and can help facilitate us penetrating to the core of our current reality in relationships, love, and manifestation of whatever type of abundance we desire.  At the first quarter square time, action is necessary to establish whatever Mars-Venus seed could have begun to be envisioned back in April of 2013.   We will have from this equinox until the end of this next week to make the final harmonizing of our energy in this way before the exact Mars-Venus square hits around September 28.  The approaching first quarter square at this equinox between Venus and Mars is even more significant inside the larger first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries we have been experiencing since 2012, as the next exact square between Pluto and Uranus will occur a month after the exact square between Mars and Venus.  Pluto has now turned around direct to begin moving forward again, coming into the next exact square with Uranus in Aries in the early morning of November 1, 2013 here in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, which will actually for us be the night of Halloween or Samhain.  The equinox chart thus signifies a balancing of our Mars-Venus energies being especially relevant to the upcoming fourth exact square between Pluto and Uranus in this cycle.  Since the number four is associated with our heart chakra, this seems to be very relevant and true.

Thus, since April as Venus and Mars shifted into the first quarter square aspect we are beginning to sense at this equinox, Pluto has been moving retrograde.  Pluto moving retrograde can be helpful for doing the deep work of becoming aware of our deepest patterns of desire and values so that we can come to a place of clearing and regeneration of a more authentic self.   Pluto stationing direct at the equinox is powerful, and in combination with the Venus-Mars square, can be linked to us having become aware of what patterns associated with our relationships, as well as our own masculine and feminine energy and patterns, we wish to modify to create more of the life we want to live.  At the Autumn Equinox time, since ancient times Pluto has been a powerful mythic figure associated with the reaping of an abundant harvest, as well as later with taking Persephone down into the underworld to help with the transition of souls.  In contrast, at the Spring equinox in myth Pluto is able to let go of and release Persephone back into the upperworld to create more life; however, in both cases there is a clear intentional act taken by Pluto at the equinox.  Similarly, we can make our own unique intention at this equinox supported by powerful astrological energy.

ceres

Fittingly, with Pluto taking on significance at this equinox, Ceres is holding her own and embodying strong aspects of a different sort.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, Demetra George has written about how in ancient Crete, Ceres was a Goddess associated with the Corn Priestess who took part in a sacred marriage with her lover and gave birth to Plutus, the god of wealth coming from the earth.  These ancient connections between the harvest of Autumn and wealth, or to shift to the Spring equinox, with the seeding of the coming harvest and wealth, connect with our modern focus on resources for our own survival, whether we are living a more Earth-based lifestyle in connection with resources we are growing from the Earth or a a less Earth-based lifestyle in which we are focused on working a job to make money to buy processed food from a grocery store.

At this 2013 equinox Ceres is paying a lot of attention to Chiron, and she is the key point of a Grand Earth trine between herself in Virgo, Pluto in Capricorn, and the Moon and the South Node of the Moon in Taurus.  The trine between Ceres and Pluto can correspond with an opportunity to become more productive in our lives if we are doing the deep Pluto work referenced earlier in this article.  However, to bring the real production generator, the Goddess Ceres, into our life at this time, we have some additional work to do if we want to more harmoniously access her trine with Pluto and the Moon in Taurus.  Ceres is moving direct in Virgo, a sign that pleases her as she is the literal symbol used by modern astrologers for Virgo.  However, to fully activate Ceres into her highest potential at this time will require us to take heroic strides forward through the wounding experiences of this recent time period, as Chiron is retrograde in Pisces in opposition to Ceres at the equinox, while also being in a wide conjunction again with Neptune in Pisces.

From the perspective of Ceres, this opposition with Chiron connects strongly with the lesson from her mythic story of losing Persephone to the underworld and becoming so anguished and emotionally overwhelmed at her great loss, entered a period in which she ended her productivity and refused to create life and new harvest on Earth.  She also drifted into coping strategies such as opiate use, and lost became further wounded and oppressed by Poseidon, who raped her.  Ceres was ultimately able to begin a process of purification, however, by bathing in a flowing river, which to me is a symbol of her beginning to process of opening herself to the constant changes of life and the loss we can experience in the process.  This lesson to be open to the constant flux of life is also a key point in Ceres fully accessing her trine with the Moon in Taurus at the equinox.  This is because the Moon is conjunct the South Node of the Moon, which can indicate more of an emotional connection to past patterns of coping because they are comfortable more so than truly effective or productive given changing circumstances.  This is further emphasized with the Moon and South Node being in Taurus, a sign that can be more stubborn about holding onto past patterns for a sense of stability.

Chiron retrograde in a wide conjunction with Neptune in Pisces could coincide with great emotional wounding and spiritual crises we could have been experiencing, but at the same time carries a potential of incredibly deep healing of past wounds that can then be integrated back into a productive capacity in which we draw upon our newfound strength.  Ceres in Virgo in combination with Chiron in Pisces embodies extraordinary potential.

chiron and achilles by sargent

From the perspective of Chiron, he has been moving retrograde back toward Neptune in Pisces again, and at the same time has become involved in a Grand Water trine that will be continuing for some time.  In August he was part of a trine with Saturn and Jupiter, and though his trine with Jupiter is wider now, he is still in range of a trine with Saturn and Jupiter.  However, Chiron is also in trine with Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio, and more exactly with the mean node of Black Moon Lilith in Cancer at the time of the equinox than Jupiter.  Interestingly, by the time Pluto stations retrograde again in Capricorn in April of 2014, Chiron and Jupiter will again be closely in trine.

As a result, Chiron is in league with the Dark Goddesses and is helping Ceres regain her original seat as the Goddess of the Underworld, like Ereshkigal in the myth of Inanna, instead of the later masculine takeover of placing Pluto in charge of the underworld.  The Great Mother was not only the Goddess of Life but also Death, and Chiron at this time is presenting us with an opportunity to integrate the whole portrait of the Great Goddess, especially being in trine to the conjunction of Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.  Chiron is often called the wounded healer, and we may in fact be experiencing incredible wounds at this time.  However, he is also a great teacher and cultivator of our own unique heroic qualities, and so whatever has been occurring in our lives is actually an opportunity for us to take a stand at this time and courageously face the actual nature of our current reality.  If we stand in our own integrity at this time, it will honor and work well with the combination of Saturn with Venus and the North Node of the Moon.

Since Black Moon Lilith is often referred to as a resolution point of the rejected feminine, her mean node being in trine to both Chiron in Pisces and the Venus-Saturn-North Node conjunction in Scorpio indicates a potential opening to integrate the rejected and oppressed side of our feminine energy back into our psyche.  Not that this is an easy task, but if we are acting from the hurt and wounded parts of our rejected feminine, with the square from Mars in Leo we could become involved in some serious negative energy and fights in our personal environment.  This equinox is a perfect time to make an intention to purify the toxicity that come from the rejected feminine aspects of our psyche.

Since the Black Moon Lilith point relates to the orbit of the Moon, it is interesting that the South Node of the Moon in Taurus is conjunct the Moon in Taurus at the time of the equinox- in trine with Ceres in Virgo, and in sextile to Chiron in Pisces.  If we can avoid the seething anger that can come from Taurus, especially when Taurus is focused on past emotional wounding or past emotional patterns connected with negative energy, there can be a potentially very positive use of this energy.  To me, it would be more of a Taurus focus on what we can cultivate and nurture for ourselves at this time of the equinox.  If we can cut out and release the negative past patterns, which can be facilitated by Venus and Saturn in Scorpio being opposite the Taurus Moon and South Node of the Moon at this time, then we can draw from our past patterns in a manner that will help us draw on our strengths and gifts in the cultivation of our personal harvest.  Whether this is symbolically a planting time or a reaping time for you in your own personal cycles, the use of lunar Taurus energy can be a patient and helpful guide to stay in touch with what is truly bringing pleasure to your body and being, so that you can as a result begin to bring more joy into your life.

Demeter finds Persephone

Finally, the other planetary player I want to mention is Mercury in Libra, who has been moving full speed ahead at 20 Libra, but is currently beginning to prepare to station retrograde in mid-October in the sign of Scorpio.  At the equinox, however, Mercury is at the midpoint between the Sun in Libra and Saturn and Venus in Scorpio, as well as being in a sextile to Mars in Leo.  In the Ceres and Persephone myth I have been referencing, it is Mercury who descends to the underworld in order to ascend again with Persephone and return her to her mother Ceres.  Mercury is strongly in the sign of Libra at this Libra Equinox, and so the way we are perceiving reality as well as choosing to communicate with others will be vital in our ability to cultivate greater balance in our lives.  With so many intense astrological aspects, we will surely be tested in this manner, and most likely we will make some mistakes in communication that can lead to some extreme arguments and confrontations at this time.  However, if we are taking responsibility for our communication and perceptions, and make sure to learn from our mistakes and make amends in our relationships, we can help cultivate greater balance within ourselves as well as within our outer relationships.

Black Moon Lilith is again a player with Mercury, but this time it is the true node of Black Moon Lilith that is conjunct Jupiter and in a tight square with Mercury in Libra at the time of the equinox. The way our feminine nature has been spurned or rejected in the past could be behind a lot of conflict and arguments we have at this time.  However, at the same time as we get in touch with this energy it can also could be a catalyst for difficulty but powerful conversations and awareness of what is at the root between the conflict of our masculine and feminine within, how this inner conflict of our nature can create difficulties for ourselves in our outer relationships, as well as how the masculine and feminine are in relationship in the collective.  The collective conflict between the masculine and feminine is obviously an enormous problem at this time, but there is an opportunity at this time to gain perhaps an incremental insight into the nature of this conflict.

The current square between Mercury in Libra with Jupiter in Cancer is another level to the deep questioning of our personal beliefs some of us may have been experiencing recently.  If we have not been questioning our beliefs, we may instead have been getting into debates or arguments associated with beliefs we have that we do not like to question.  Earlier this past Summer, there was and opposition between Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn that would have initiated this process.  By the time Pluto stations retrograde again next April of 2014, Jupiter will have gone through a retrograde motion that will bring it back into an exact opposition with Pluto, so we are only at the beginning of this process.

One of the greatest debates in belief has to do with the very nature of Creation itself.  Last night in thinking about this equinox, I opened the book The Earth Path by Starhawk to a passage I want to share in its entirety below, about the beliefs many people in our collective hold about creation and evolution and how that has influenced worldly events since the time that Darwin shattered the previously dominant Biblical interpretation with his theory of natural selection:

 Evolution, of course, was in Darwin’s day a shattering and heretical challenge to the simplistic, literalistic biblical view.  First, the theory of evolution holds that the world is much, much older than the Bible says.  Second, humans, animals, plants, bacteria, and all other creatures are a single continuum of life.  Humans are not something set apart.  We are animals, and we emerged from the same natural processes by which other life-forms evolved.

From the perspective of earth-based spirituality, those insights were a vast improvement over literalistic interpretations of the Bible.  Evolution restored dynamism to the universe, brought it alive as a growing, changing, interacting web of relationships.

Darwin himself was a great observer, embodying the permacultural principle of “thoughtful and protracted observation” more than a century before permaculture was formulated.  He looked at the plants and animals and birds around him in the far-flung places of the world he traveled, and he let himself ask, “I wonder . . .”:  “I wonder how that tortoise got to be the way it is, how differences between those similar plants arose, what forces produced the beak on that bird.”  He theorized that environmental pressures and constraints select the individuals most fitted to a given environment from a range of genetic variations.  Those individuals succeed best in the competition for food and scarce resources.  They are also most likely to reproduce, and so they pass on their adaptations.  His theory of evolution and natural selection was a brilliant example of relational thinking, focusing not just on individuals or species as separate, isolated elements, but on the whole pattern of interactions, exchanges, and effects of living communities as a whole.

But at the same time that Darwin was researching and writing, industrial capitalism was growing and consolidating its power, and looking for an ideology to justify ruthless exploitation of the poor by the rich.  “Social Darwinism” a simplistic reformulation of Darwin’s theory, turned natural selection into “survival of the fittest.”  The best win out and, by extension, the “winners” must be the best-  and therefore deserving of their rewards.  “Losers” are by definition inferior, maladapted, and deserving of their demise.  To suggest that the winners owe anything to the losers is to interfere with nature and risk weakening the race.

This misinterpretation of Darwin’s theory was a secular reformulation of earlier religious doctrines of the “elect.”  It was also a perfect rationale for cutthroat capitalism, in both the nineteenth century and the Reagan/Bush era.  Competition is the driving force of progress in nature and, by extension, human society.  The more worthy win out in time, and this, in the long run, is good for the species and the whole.  Success is its own justification, and what’s good for big transnationals is good for the U.S.A.

There is a different view of evolution, one that better serves the world-view of earth-based spirituality.  We might call it Gaian evolution, after the Gaia theory developed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis.  Gaian evolution is not so much a counter to Darwin as a shift in focus from the individual to the ecosystem, the whole.  The earth functions like a living being, and the biosphere, the world community of life-forms, changes its environment as it is changed by it.  The redwood tree does not evolve as a separated species; rather, the forest as a whole evolves, the interwoven lives of redwood and tanoak, huckleberry and salal, the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil below and the lichens in the canopy where the marbled murrelets nest.  None of these creatures adapts alone, in isolation from each other-  they coevolve as Forest-Being, in an interdependent dance that balances competition and cooperation.  Individuals and species survive when their activities benefit the whole as well as the parts.  Evolution becomes the story of how the planet herself comes alive.

–Starhawk, The Earth Path, p. 42-43

I have taken part in the spiral dance with Starhawk before, and while that isn’t possible for me to do at this equinox, I hope that all of do our own sort of personal spiral dance to help us balance ourselves to a greater extent, as well as interdependently then help facilitate greater balance in the Earth.  Blessed be.

References

Haas, Elson. (1981).  Staying Healthy with the Seasons.  Celestial Arts.

Starhawk. (2005). The Earth Path.  Harper.

Queen of Heaven in the Harvest Moon

arrington the star water bearer The Queen of Heaven who walked in Chaos

  • Venus as evening star in Scorpio conjunct Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at the time of the Full Moon on September 19, 2013.

  • This Pisces Full Moon is not only the Harvest Moon in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s Sabian symbol at 27 Pisces is “The Harvest Moon illumines a clear Autumnal sky.”

  • Mars in Leo square Venus, Saturn, and North Node of Moon in Scorpio.

  • Mercury in Libra square Jupiter in Cancer at the exact same time as the Full Moon.

  • Pluto stations direct on September 20 at 9 Capricorn, with the Sabian symbol: “An Angel carrying a harp: the revelation of the spiritual meaning and purpose at the center of any life situation.”

The Pisces full moon to the sun being in Virgo is one of the most magical full moons to me, in part because it can occur around the time of the Equinox.  Yet there is more to it than that- the Moon in its most magnetic splendor connects well with the passionate and devotional nature of the sign of Pisces, a sign that always calls on us to follow our dreams into the distant beyond, full moon or not.  And this visionary Pisces Moon is a perfect balance point to the more focused nature of the sun being in Virgo, a sign that can be incredibly productive in a detail-oriented manner, but can stand to benefit from the larger emotional view received from a lunar Pisces.  In his book on Sabian Symbols, Dane Rudhyar describes the 27th degree of Pisces where this full lunation is occurring as being “The Harvest Moon illumines a clear Autumnal sky,” a perfect symbol for the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere of planet Earth, we actually are experiencing the Harvest Moon of the Autumn Equinox at this time.  However, no matter what hemisphere we are living in, we are experiencing a full moon a few days before an equinox that is brightly illuminating a significant archetypal scene.

In his article Chaos in Myth and Science, Ralph Abraham quoted the following passage describing the ancient Babylonian deity Ishtar, worshipped since 5,000 BC, taken from the Merlin Stone:

Queen of Heaven, Goddess of the Universe,

the One who walked in terrible chaos

and brought life by the way of love

and out of chaos brought us harmony

and from chaos She has led us by the hand.

Ishtar is the Queen of Heaven who calls us forth on our path through the way of Love, a deity who connects with other prominent Goddesses of myth such as Inanna, Isis, Aphrodite, and Venus.  With the planet Venus in Scorpio conjunct both Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at the time of today’s Pisces Harvest Full Moon, a Venus that is also in her most radiant glory as a bright evening star one can watch set every night, the Queen of Heaven is calling for us to follow the love of our hearts forward at this time through whatever difficulties or cacophonous fury we may have had to recently navigate.  If we have been damaged by life, we have the advantage of knowing we can survive no matter what, and this is a time to take steps forward courageously on the path we can feel our hearts guiding us toward.

Today’s full moon is clearly involved in a time period of great intensity that all of us will need to pay attention to as we move forward on our path.  As already mentioned, just Venus being in Scorpio and conjunct Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at the time of the Harvest Moon would be significant (and if you are living in the Southern Hemisphere, since this Full Moon is happening close to your Spring Equinox it is just as important!).  However, at the same time, Mars in Leo (the traditional ruler of Scorpio) is in a square aspect with Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.  Plus, Mercury in Libra is in a tight square with Jupiter in Cancer. And not only that, there is a wide cardinal grand cross occurring with the mean node of Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, Uranus in Aries, Mercury in Libra, and Pluto in Capricorn.  And to make everything all the more intense, Pluto in Capricorn is stationing direct at the time of the Full Moon, stationing direct exactly in between this Full Moon and the upcoming Equinox.  And yet, there is most likely a hidden gift to this intensity, as Pluto in Capricorn, the modern ruler of Scorpio, is in a sextile aspect to Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.  To better explain how all of this could impact you, especially in connection to mythic patterns of your birth chart, enter Ishtar:

ishtar-owl

Ishtar, Queen of Heaven

The association between Venus and Ishtar is illuminating to consider at this time, as the various aspects Venus in Scorpio is experiencing in transit at the moment seems fitting for the mythic story of Ishtar’s descent to the underworld to face the wrath of Ereshkigal, the queen of the underworld.  The planet modern astrologers identify with Venus was originally linked to the Goddesses Inanna and Ishtar by the Mesopotamian people who were one of the original inventors of astrology, with the civilization of Uruk being especially vital to the worship of Ishtar.  Michael Baigent, in his amazing book From the Omens of Babylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia, researched that it is hard to find a consistent portrayal of Ishtar because of how over time she seemed to integrate the meanings of different Goddess figures.  The planet Venus was originally connected to Inanna by the Sumerian people, and with contact from Semitic and other people, eventually the figure of Ishtar emerged “to be the daughter (and first born) of Sin, the Moon, twin sister to Shamash, the Sun, and sister too of both Erishkigal, the much feared queen of the underworld, and Tammuz, the dying and resurrecting god…” with Ishtar assuming the role of “the queen of heaven, the beautiful goddess of love, sexuality, and childbirth” (Baigent, p. 118).

Baigent also found that tablets dating from the reign of Ashurbanipal, who lived from 668-627 BC, reveal that Ishtar as the planet Venus embodied both male and female characteristics at least at one point in time, with the Ishtar of the morning star being a male, and the Ishtar of the evening star being a female.  Baigent also has found evidence in his research that Venus as the evening star was associated with having a “good harvest” (p. 122), which is a good thing because Venus in Scorpio was also associated with a harvest being destroyed!  Venus being an evening star at this time, and so beautiful to behold in the night sky, to me opens her archetype to embodying more of the harmonizing energy of Ishtar at this time.  Indeed, even in ancient Assyria the planet Venus was seen as being capable of harmonizing difficult energies, as many of the dangers associated with eclipses were seen as being averted with Venus occupying a significant aspect, such as a conjunction with Jupiter or Saturn.  In addition, the interpretation of Venus as an evening star being more of a harmonizing influence continues today in the modern astrological perspective.

Ishtar was also connected to the harvest in addition to the fertility of sexuality, and the planet Venus in various aspects at various times could indicate a bountiful harvest.  However, in addition to her association with abundant fertility and the harvest, Ishtar also had ancient connections with war, although Baigent in his book is careful to note that the planet Venus was only one of many omens taken into consideration surrounding military actions.  This “warring” side of Ishtar, however, is also important to take into consideration at this time, as there are versions of myth that indicate the reason she descended to the underworld and was met by furious hostility by the queen of the underworld, Ereshkigal, was because of manipulative and warring action taken by Ishtar that caused the death of Ereshkigal’s husband, the Bull of Heaven.  Thus, from this interpretation’s perspective, when Ishtar descends to the underworld, having to remove an important garment at each of the seven gates to the underworld, only in the end to be hung on a meat hook by the queen of the underworld, there is more of vengeful anger to Ereshkigal’s actions meant to punish Ishtar than just irrational madness meant to humiliate her (Mark, 2011).  Events in which the more warring side of the Venus and Ishtar archetype is appearing at this time, could in part be corresponding with the current square from Mars in Leo to Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.

There is also the popular Jungian interpretation of Ishtar’s descent, that her becoming stripped down to her barest essentials is a metaphor for becoming more whole, more fully one’s individuated Self.  To me, the important lesson to take from Ishtar’s descent to the underworld is that she experiences the humiliation of losing her most prized possessions, aspects of herself she had become attached to and had begun to derive great vanity from.  She is then practically put to death by the queen of the underworld, with her corpse hung on a meat hook.  So what is the lesson?  The lesson is that Ishtar returns from the underworld.  She is a survivor, she does not die, and she returns to the upperworld a stronger person more in touch with her essential nature.  In our psychological management of creating a sense of stability from what otherwise could appear to be a chaotic life, many of us find our security and sense of self from our jobs, our family, our relationships, or our community.  Ishtar now asks each one of us:  what is inside you?  What do you possess without a home, job, family, partner, or possessions?  If we have been undergoing difficult losses of an external nature, or been experiencing deep changes within our internal landscape, with the current conjunction between Venus, Saturn, and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio, in sextile to Pluto in Capricorn, no matter what is happening if we courageously face the present moment, we will get a step closer to the future of our full potential.

goddess-inanna-and-her-lions

When considering the conjunction between Venus and Saturn in Scorpio through the mythology of Ishtar, it is also helpful to consider her Assyrian counterpart of Ninurta, who was the God connected to the planet Saturn in ancient Mesopotamia.  Michael Baigent found in his research of Babylonian myths translated from tablets that the ancient Assyrians did not view Saturn as “a stern and cold patriarch but as a conquering hero” (p. 127-128).  In  modern astrology many authors tend to describe Saturn as a limiting or restricting influence, but it is important to remember in the end that necessity is the mother of invention, and so in a similar way can the difficulties of Saturn help father our heroic qualities to emerge in radiant brilliance at the most opportune times in our lives.

Baigent found that Ninurta was a hero in myth because he was able to retrieve the “tablets of fate” containing eternal laws that gave the possessor of the tablets the power over fate (p. 128).  These tablets of fate were stolen by Zu, a winged dragon of chaos who was in league with the great sea serpent of chaos, Tiamat (Baigent, p. 128).  Everyone was too afraid of the dragon to do anything, except for Ninurta, the brother of Nergal (Mars), who not only volunteered to fight the dragon, but also became victorious, was given custody of the tablets in gratitude by the other Gods, and ultimately took on the role of being the “overseer of destiny and fate” in Assyrian culture (p. 128-129).  Ninurta gaining a role in overseeing fate by defeating a dragon of chaos is interesting to me on a personal level, as I recently listened to a lecture given by astrologer Bernadette Brady linking chaos theory with astrology while integrating the Mesopotamian myth of the hero Marduk (Jupiter) defeating Tiamat, the great sea serpent of chaos.  In her lecture Brady described how astrology was created in Mesopotamia as a tool for navigating chaos, but that over time the chaos paradigm was defeated by reason and the mechanical/causal paradigm currently dominating modern worldviews in a manner similar to how Marduk defeated Tiamat.  Brady explained that astrology aligns with chaos theory because it posits that while one cannot predict with certainty what will exactly happen, one can get a sense of the timing of events as well as the level of quality of these events.  As chaos theory also integrates fractals which have re-occurring patterns around “strange attractors,” in a similar manner our astrological birth charts can indicate re-occurring patterns from our family as well as the collective unconscious contained in myths that we are experiencing and re-experiencing.  Using astrology as a tool, one can get a better grasp on these patterns as well as discern a more productive and fruitful path one can follow in greater alignment with the full potential of the birth chart.  Thus we can use astrology to help us predict upcoming time periods that may be especially intense, as well as to figure out what patterns we have been playing out and how to most effectively respond to move forward in a productive manner that will lead to us actualizing more of our full potential.

This idea of astrology being used to gain a greater ability to navigate our “fate,” has an interesting link back to the Ninurta of myth, because Baigent also found that the human representation of Ninurta often portrayed was as a man holding a “seven-headed weapon” which could possibly have been a symbol of the seven planets used in ancient astrology (p.129).  By mentioning this, however, I don’t mean to suggest here that the study of astrology is of particular importance at this time of the Full Moon with Venus and Saturn conjunct in Scorpio.  What I do mean to suggest is the importance of each one of us stepping bravely forward on our own unique heroic journey, with the courage to face whatever dragons or demons arise before us, utilizing the resources around us or that we carry inside us.  Saturn in astrology occurring in an intense aspect, such as currently being conjunct Venus and in square to Mars, does not need to pre-determine you to experiencing great loss, restriction, or sadness.  It very well may correlate, however, with some intense experiences that will require all of your being invested in moving you forward on the most productive path for your unique self, no matter what obstacles may be appearing before you.

The other image often associated with Ninurta is the eagle, which also happens to be one of the symbols of Scorpio, the sign presently holding the conjunction of Saturn and Venus, Ninurta and Ishtar.  The eagle is the higher evolved Scorpio, the Scorpio who has no need to manipulate or unload emotional diatribes on others in response to being overly sensitive to negative emotional environments.  Instead, Scorpio as the eagle is able to utilize its authenticity in order to inspire instead of manipulate others.  Scorpio is a sign that is capable of great loyalty and commitment, as well as an enhanced ability to get down to living the essential nature of one’s Self.  When we connect this Eagle/Ninurta aspect of Saturn into its conjunction with Venus, we find ourselves again with Ishtar, turning to look upward with resolution from the underworld.  Ishtar will survive, and she will continue to walk through the terrible chaos and create new life through the way of love.  Once we connect with the essential Self within each of us, come to more fully realize the full potential of our unique being, we become even more powerful and effective in collaboration and community with others on a similar journey of the soul as our own (Venus and Saturn conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio).

arrrington winged goddess riding lion

If we are undergoing great loss at this time, it may be hopeful to keep in mind that there is a sextile from Pluto in Capricorn to the Scorpio conjunction of Venus, Saturn, and the North Node of the Moon.  This sextile is absolutely profound, as Pluto is stationing direct at the moment, putting even more heavy weight on Pluto than normal.  The Sabian symbol for the degree in which Pluto is stationing direct described by Dane Rudhyar in his classic Astrological Mandala is once again a perfect image in the context of the multiple aspects and transits occurring at this time:

Capricorn 9:  An angel carrying a harp

Keynote:  The revelation of the spiritual meaning and purpose at the core of any life situation.

This picture simply says that “heaven is within us.”  All we have to do is to be open and listen to the total harmony of life, a harmony in which we play a part that is necessary to the completeness and meaning of the whole.  In order to do this we have to surrender our separative ego-consciousness and flow with the universal current which, to the religiously minded person, is the Will of God.   (p. 235)

I would like to emphasize here that is not necessary to believe in God, or even Gods, for this symbol to be meaningful, and in case the mentioning of the “Will of God” is a trigger for you, I hope you do not neglect to listen to the actual wisdom of the above symbol.  The point, “to surrender our separative ego-consciousness,” is pretty much exactly what happened to Ishtar during her descent to the underworld, in her experience of her various trials and tribulations.  Similarly, whatever we have been experiencing recently, we must remember that life will be going on and that there is a part that each one of us is uniquely designed to play in the unfolding of future events.  The more we can get into the flow, the more easy this experience could be for us.

However, with many intense aspects going on in the moment, such as Mars in Leo in square to all the Scorpio (Venus, Saturn, North Node), and Mercury in Libra in square to Jupiter in Cancer (following a few days after Mercury in Libra was in direct opposition to Uranus in Aries), it may not exactly feel like we are entering a “flow.”  However, if it has been feeling like we have been in the flow of things, keep at it, because most likely you are then on track.  If in contrast events have felt destructive and depressive, hopefully through a process of deep reflection we can notice signs of what aspects of our loss may have been getting in the way of our full potential, no matter what sense of comfort our attachment to it may have brought us.  If we are in a dark place, it is absolutely necessary at this time to courageously step forward on our path with all of our resources ready at our disposal.  This is not a time to be sitting passively on the sidelines.  This is a time to step forward brilliantly, or at least as brilliantly as we can manage it, on our unique path and calling.

pyreaus_tarot_combo_queen_of_wandsQueen of Wands

  • Full Moon at 27 degrees of Pisces, the third decan of Pisces. The third decan of Pisces (20-30 degrees) is part of the rulership of the Queen of Wands in tarot.

Finally, on an optimistic note I always am excited when doing my own tarot readings when I pull the Queen of Wands in some manner in connection to myself, because I always see her as a sign I will be able to handle whatever is coming my way.  Since in some schools of tarot thought the Queen of Wands is connected with a rulership of the last decan of Pisces where the current Full Moon is occurring,  I wanted to include a description of the Queen of Wands given by tarotologist Pamela Norris, which was published in the August issue of Plants and Planets put out by Olympia astrologer Rosie Finn and Olympia herbalist Carol Trasatto:

Queen of Wands–

Elements and astrology:  The water aspect of fire. Sagitarius.  Rules the last decan of Pisces and the first two of Aries.

Personality traits:  Master of self-knowledge, change and transformation.  The mother of mature love and sexuality.  As a person, she is an older fire sign person who mirrors who you are and who you are not.  She is open minded, strong willed and enterprising, dignified and compassionate, confident, energetic, and charismatic.  She may be intolerant and jealous, temperamental and inconsiderate.

The cautionary note at the end of the above quote, about the potential to be “intolerant” or “temperamental,” is important in consideration of the many intense aspects occurring, such as Mars square Venus/Saturn, and Mercury square Jupiter.  However, if we are doing our hard work on a personal level, we will hopefully be able to rise above such negativity.  I love the image above of the Queen by Pamela Colman Smith from the Ride Waite Tarot deck (on the left) since the Queen of Wands is holding a sunflower, and in the northern hemisphere where I live there are currently sun flowers in full bloom.  The awe inspiring sacred geometry of sun flowers, their immanent power captured in art by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, is tantamount to the full potential that can bloom from our inner being.  If you are currently experiencing a bountiful harvest of your own being in this way, celebrate!  If you are not experiencing this harvest at the moment, remember that whatever you are experiencing is part of your process of self-discovery.  This concept connects with the image of the Queen above on the right, from the Thoth deck, in which she is wearing the glyph for Pisces on her chest.  This is a Queen who has been in touch with the dark places of her psyche that some of you may have been currently experiencing, and it is because of her contact and awareness of these dark places that she ultimately is able to actualize her full potential and come into the full realization of her self and soul nature.  At this Pisces Full Moon, this Harvest Moon of the Northern Hemisphere, fearlessly take stock of where you currently are on your life’s journey and courageously take action on the calling arising from your heart inside.

References

Abraham, Ralph.  Chaos in Myth and Science:

 http://www.ralph-abraham.org/articles/MS%2346.Myth/ms46.pdf

Baigent, Michael. (1994).  From the Omens of Babylon:  Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia.

Mark, Joshua. (2011)  Inanna’s Descent…  http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/215/

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases: a reinterpreation of the Sabian symbols, presenting them as a contemporary American I Ching.  Vintage books.

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.

Pleiades in midst of Midspring Eclipses

pleiades

Pleiades:  Seven Sisters

Whenever Mercury enters the sign of Gemini as it did on 5/15/13, it  is thought of as Mercury returning “home,” since Mercury rules Gemini.  Yet this is even more true according to myth, as Hermes is the son of the Pleiadian sister Maia (the Pleiades are seven sisters in Greek Myth), and the Pleiades star constellation is located at the end of Taurus and the beginning of Gemini in the zodiac.  Thus, every time Mercury heads into Gemini, he is coming home to his mother and aunts, as the Pleiades bridge Taurus and Gemini, and the main star of the Pleiades, Alcyone, is located at 0-1 degrees Gemini.  However, there is even more reason to honor the Pleiades right now than the fact that Mercury has come home to them in the zodiac, as the Pleiades star constellation is being hit with a lot of major transits connected with eclipses.  During the recent Solar Eclipse on May 9, Venus was moving across the Pleiades star constellation, with the Moon soon to be conjunct Venus and the Pleiades on May 10, 2013.  Furthermore, on May 15 today Mercury is currently conjunct the Pleiades and in range of a conjunction with Venus, en route to being exactly conjunct Venus at 19 degrees Gemini on May 24 (Mercury-Venus will also be four degrees away from Jupiter at this time).  When Mercury and Venus are conjunct on May 24, there will also be a Lunar Eclipse occurring in which the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades by four degrees, and the Moon will be opposite the Pleiades.  If that isn’t enough intense Pleiadian energy for you, the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades on May 20 when we will have another exact square between Pluto and Uranus.  So much Pleiadian energy being stirred up in between two eclipses is fitting, because in between these eclipses we have entered a vortex of time and space out of which deep change can manifest in our life, and the visual of the mesmerizing star constellation of the Pleiades in the night sky looks like a spiral vortex we could transport ourselves through.  When the Pleiades came in with the recent Solar Eclipse through Venus transiting it at the same time as the eclipse, my astrology teacher Rosie Finn wrote the following interpretation for 5/10/13 in her monthly newsletter, Plants and Planets:

The Pleiades are so good at teaching us how to live a beautiful life on this planet, how to love and enjoy life, how to get the most out of our trip here and how to evolve just enough to stay and just enough to not feel stuck here.  The world is full of possibility and there is abundance- in this world at this time and it is accessible to us, when we vibrate with abundance possibility, open our inner eyes to see, and can recognize the resonance of our true longing in alignment with that which matches that longing in the world.

–Rosie Finn, Plants and Planets, May 2013

I still remember the first time I was struck by the beauty of the Pleiades, in a starry night sky above the Appalachian aka Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia in the Southeast USA.  There is something alluring and magical about the shape of this spiral constellation to the human eye, and it does have a strong resonance with human beings as the Pleiades have been channelled into books by a number of authors, including the Pleiadian Agenda by astrologer Barbara Hand Clow.  Clow in this book describes the bond and connection between the Pleiades and Earth as resulting from a karmic obligation initiated by Pleiadian entities in ancient times on Earth, and this is similar to other channelled work in the sense of the Pleiades being able to have a direct connection with human beings.  In many interpretations of Pleiades energy, as in the passage above by Rosie Finn, the Pleiades are described as having an energy that resonates with life on earth for humans and has wise beneficial  guidance for how humans can survive and thrive on a higher level on this planet.  As in the quote above, this resonance is often described in terms of aligning the desires of Taurus with the thoughts and expressions of Gemini, aligning our minds and bodies so that we are more truly in alignment with what we want to truly manifest in our lives, and being mindful of the vibration we are emanating with our being.  According to many authors, the Pleiades hold the belief that we can manifest abundance in our lives through our intention and vibration, as well as communicate with one another instantly and telepathically without the use of cell phones or instant messaging (cell phones and instant messaging serving as signs revealing our actual potential in this case).  The Pleiades are also here to help spark and facilitate human evolution according to many of the channelling authors, and so to me this connects them with the Esoteric Astrology development of the sign of Gemini from a subjective mind relating others to self, through a more objective mind that is able to relate the self to others, and ultimately to a wholistic mind that is able to relate the One (Spirit/Source/God) to self and to others, synthesizing “lower” mind issues to serve the “higher” mind (Oken, p. 177).

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It would be wise to keep in mind that the Pleiades will be associated with one of the most intense and significant astrological events of this time period on May 20, 2013 when the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades at the same time that Pluto and Uranus will be in an exact square aspect.  This will be the third of seven squares between Pluto and Uranus (from June 24, 2012 until April 4, 2015), and so has been associated with third chakra issues by many astrologers, including my astrology teacher Rosie Finn who believes it will connect with us aligning our personal Will with divine Will.  Some Third Chakra issues from Anodea Judith’s book Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self that could be helpful to keep in mind at this time are as follows (p. 166-7):

Balanced Characteristics:  Responsible, Reliable, Balanced effective will, Warmth in personality, Playfulness, Confidence, Appropriate self-discipline, Able to meet challenges, Sense of one’s personal power.

Traumas and Abuses:  Shaming, Authoritarianism, Volatile situations, Domination of will, Physical abuse, Enmeshment, Inherited shame from parent, Age inappropriate responsibilities (parentified child)

Deficiency:  Low energy, Weak will, easily manipulated, Poor self-discipline, Low self-esteem, Cold emotionally, Victim mentality, Unreliable, Poor Digestion

Excess:  Overly aggressive, Need to be right, Manipulative, Temper tantrums, Stubborness, Driving ambition, Competitive, Arrogant, Hyperactive

Healing Practices:  Risk taking (deficiency), Grounding and emotional contact, Deep relaxation and stress control (excess), Vigorous exercise, Psychotherapy or other methods to build ego strength, release or contain anger, work on shame issues, strengthen the will, and encourage autonomy

How exactly could the Pleiades help us at this time?  To me, that is part of the mystery of it all, and part of the great mystery I associate with the Pleiades.  No matter how many different interpretations, stories, and analyses I read regarding the Pleiades, I always feel that there is much more involved with them than is being communicated through language.  However, since they are located at a bridge juncture in the zodiac between Taurus and Gemini, it makes sense that they would integrate lessons that can come from the connection between Taurus and Gemini:  issues we have with our Mind-Body connection, since Taurus is the sign of human form, and Gemini is the the sign of human mind.  One interesting mind-body connection was described by herbalist Carol Trasatto in the May 2013 issue of Plants and Planets (she is the “plants” to Rosie’s “planets”), in which she references how scientists have now discovered a vast network of 500 neurons line our guts, so that our stomach is really like a “second brain” for us.  Carol wisely notes that similar to how we can be misled by the misperceptions of our minds, so can our guts mislead us at times due to previous issues, wounding, and trauma.  She writes:

Our perception- even somatic, gut-level perception- has been overlaid with imprints of previous experience, messaging, and sensation.  Our physical and energy bodies are repositories of impressions; we are dealing with layers of information when we tune into our body wisdom.  To most benefit from what our body can tell us, our work is to sensitize our awareness, refine our recognition of sensations, and then also to cultivate discernment regarding whether the messages reflect something true about the present moment or are an echo of habituated protection, now keeping us from experiencing the next level of intimacy with ourselves . . . For instance, physical intimacy with a new beloved may trigger gut sensations felt as fear, anger, shame, discomfort, anxiety, even panic in someone who was violated by touch in the past . . . Rather than rejecting the current lover, the person with such body memories could choose to use the safety of the present dynamic to first recognize and then explore these stored sensations- and work to heal them with the love energy presenting itself as medicine.  “Trusting the gut” in such an instance requires self-awareness, courage, and the willingness to understand one’s experience . . . and allow it to transform.

— Carol Trasatto, Plants and Planets, May 2013

The sort of wisdom cultivated by people who work closely with our Earth, such as the herbalist Carol Trasatto, is the type of wisdom I associate with the Pleiades, a star constellation that has had a large and diverse cultural following across our planet since ancient times, well beyond the confines of Greek or Mediterranean culture- especially among indigenous people of the “Americas.”  In the same edition of her monthly newsletter, Carol gave an illuminating description of Third Chakra issues that I feel is very timely in connection with the approaching Pluto-Uranus square and intense issues we could become potentially influenced by in the collective culture and collective consciousness, and its connection to the alchemy of plants on our planet connects it for me to wisdom offered through the Pleiades:

The Third Chakra, the solar plexus, is about fire and transformation.  In herbal alchemy, when we yield the plant body to fire after extracting its magic with fluids, the resulting salts in the ash- when returned to the liquid- make the remedy more potent.  The fire energy available to us via the solar plexus first of all can serve to illuminate and then incinerate those fears, habits, and beliefs that limit our potential.  The chakra’s energy can enhance our ability to skillfully exercise will and personal power- especially in the realm of cultivating our intuitive voice and our ability to stand in our own center, free from the influence of collective trance.  This freedom allows our actions and our voice to be guided from our inner authority, our relationship with spirit, our life purpose.  It is through the right use of will that we may heal the past and bring vision into form.

–Carol Trasatto, Plants and Planets, May 2013

One thing for certain, however, is that the Pleiades are associated with guidance for humans, as they were used in ancient times for agricultural cycles and for navigation.  In fact, although there is some debate upon the origins of the name Pleiades, it very likely came from the word meaning “to sail” because the Pleiades are visible in the Mediterranean night sky from the middle of May until the beginning of November, coinciding with ancient sailing season¹. Furthermore, through myth the Pleiades are associated with navigation and guidance through being the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, who held the celestial spheres on his shoulders and was the God of Astronomy and navigation.  Being the daughters of a Titan links the Pleiades with Uranus in myth at this time of the Pluto-Uranus square- in fact, Uranus is their great-grandfather!  In case you don’t remember, Uranus was the Sky God mate of Gaia, the primordial Earth Goddess, who through her fathered the new archetypes of the Titans into the world: six sets of twins.  Iapetus was one of the sons of Uranus who later became the father of Atlas, who then became the father of the seven sisters of the Pleiades.

Interestingly, Iapetus is also the father of Prometheus- so Prometheus is like the uncle of the Pleiadian sisters.  This further mythic connection to another liberating Titan like Prometheus, the archetype of the trickster who brought fire to humans, makes me feel the Pleiades will be more on the side of the shocking yet ultimately liberating and individuating energy of Uranus in Aries during this time of the third Pluto-Uranus square.  Since the Pleiades seem to be connected with practices to help humans navigate at a higher level on planet Earth, whatever third chakra healing is required at this time would be wise to put into practice- this could range from needing to ground inside the body and performing relaxation exercises to needing to take greater risks from a warm and heart-centered will-force.  There will most likely be deeply destructive and shocking events occurring- I feel the connection of these times with the Pleiades is our need to ride the wave of energy occurring in the moment and focus on the fact we can still manifest abundance and prosperity in our lives through responsible responses to any intense experiences occurring.

Pleiades_Elihu_Vedder

The Pleiades are the daughters of the sea nymph Pleione, which also connects the Pleiades through myth to the other significant outer planet energy occuring now besides the Uranus-Pluto square, which is Neptune being in Pisces and in trine to Saturn in Scorpio.  The trine between Pisces Neptune and Scorpio Saturn is the silver lining to remember amidst the chaos of the approaching Uranus-Pluto square, and it’s harmonious aspects should be activated by the cacophony from Uranus and Pluto. This trine in water signs between Neptune and Saturn connects with the Pleiades because it goes along with the idea of developing a discipline or practice to help focus and release energies.  Our bodies are mostly made of water, and in many ways we are liquid beings possessing a high level of responsiveness to the vibration of our environments, but more importantly by the vibration of our own thoughts, emotions, and being.  As the research of Dr. Emoto has shown the transformative and purifying effect of human prayer and intention on water, so can we transform and purify our own being through the power of our mind, intentions, and the vibrations we radiate internally and externally.  According to Barbara Hand Clow and others who have “worked” with Pleiadian entities, this knowledge that we can transform our own beings as well as what we are co-creating in our life is part of what the Pleiadians are revealing to us.    The Pleiades are also connected with Neptune because two of the seven sisters had children with Poseidon.  The mating of the Pleiades with Gods is not uncommon- in fact, six out of the seven sisters did so:

  1. Maia, the eldest, was the mother of Hermes by Zeus.

  2. Electra was the mother of Dardanus and Iasion by Zeus

  3. Taygete was the mother of Lacedaemon by Zeus

  4. Alcyone was the mother of Hyrieus, Hyperenor, and Aethusa by Poseidon

  5. Celaeno was the mother of Lycus and Eurypylus by Poseidon

  6. Sterope was the mother of Oenomaus by Ares.

  7. Merope, the youngest,gained the admiration and attention of Orion.  In some myths she marries Sisyphus, becomes mortal, and gives birth to several sons.  As a result she is sometimes referred to as the “lost Pleiades,” and is associated with the least bright star in the constellation.

There are many versions in Greek myth of how the seven sisters became stars, but in most of them it is associated with some sort of trauma they experienced as a repercussion of the wars for power amongst ancient deities.  To review, Uranus was castrated by his Titan son Cronus (Saturn) who seized power; then Cronus was later taken down by Zeus (Jupiter) who likewise seized the power from his father, and assigned rulerships to his brothers and sisters, including the eldest brother Hades (Pluto), the one currently in a “fight” with Uranus above us today.  As a result of the war between the Titans and the Olympians, Zeus took action to ensure that Uranus would not be able to birth more threatening archetypes, so he made the Titan Atlas stand on Earth, or Gaia, and hold aloft the celestial spheres, or Uranus, so that Uranus and Gaia would remain separated.  The Pleiades, being the daughters of Atlas, would obviously have been saddened to see their father trapped into this role.

In one story, Orion began to chase the Pleiades after their father Atlas was forced to carry the celestial spheres, and so Zeus transformed the sisters into doves, and then into stars in order to appease Atlas.  This version has the interesting aspect of Zeus trying to do something nice for Atlas, when Zeus was the one who forced Atlas to carry the weight of the celestial spheres in the first place.  This to me is like a political figurehead making overtures to honor the dead or wounded, knowing full well that they were intricately involved in the complicated karmic stew of events that wounded or killed the person in the first place.  We certainly are seeing quite a bit of that these days here in the United States of America.  And speaking of the United States of America and our governmental “leaders,” Zeus or Jupiter being in the sign of Gemini during this time reminds me of how the U.S. government is not being very subtle recently about it’s shifting into a totalitarian police state in control of all media forms of communication, able to seize the cell phone records or email history of any individual it wants, at any time.  Up until now, many of us have been complicit with this- just look around at the vast number of people obsessively plugged into smart phones, tablets, and mobile devices they are literally carrying with them everywhere, all ultimately connected to the same funding sources that are controlling the media and the government.  This also goes along with the Gemini Jupiter use of the media by corporate powers hoping to force as much distracting crap on the American populace as possible on television and through all news outlets, hoping people do not realize what is actually happening right now.  Although this has been true for a very long time, the rate of this media deception is becoming extraordinarily alarming to me recently.  There will most likely be some significant events occurring in this upcoming time period of the Uranus-Pluto square, so hopefully we the people will start taking the responsibility to wake the hell up.  Hopefully, the trine between Saturn in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces will help dissolve the illusions underlying the perceptions and reality we are living, and align us more with the actual truth of our lives, giving us the courage to face the truth of our lives in the process and take accountability for being the change we wish to see in the world around us.

But I am getting off my point about how the Pleiades went from being sisters to stars in myth.  In the most tragic version I know of, the seven sisters decide to commit suicide because of the deep sadness they were carrying because of the fate forced upon their father Atlas to carry the celestial spheres, or in other variations because of losing their other sisters the Hyades.  In this version of the myth, Zeus again decides to honor them by immortalizing them as stars in the sky.  I feel this suicide story may be why you will traditionally see some astrologers link the Pleiades with sorrows, misfortunes, and tragedies.  However, I do not believe there needs to be such dark energy associated with the meaning of the Pleiades; at most I feel the connection has to do with how we can recover from sorrowful events and cope with our emotions.  Because the Greek myths have a clear link between the sorrow of the Pleiades with their father’s involvement in the war between the Titans and Olympians, I feel in particular the Pleiades can help us cope with the trauma of the collective oppression and trauma people around our planet have been subjugated to as a result of world leaders focused upon war, destruction, and manipulating events for gains of global power.  When we are facing intense and traumatic times in our collective, if we hope to facilitate and manifest the positive change we want to see happen, we need to be able to keep our own emotions and responses in balance so that we can effectively respond in way that is truly aligned with our inner integrity and authority.  These issues are vital to our ability to develop a healthy and balanced use of our Third Chakra, again a chakra likely to be stirred up at this time.

Indeed, the Pleiades have a positive life affirming meaning, and have been a significant star focus, for many groups of people around the Earth in addition to the Greeks, in particular with many indigenous cultures.  I know I often explore Greek myth in writing since their myths are the basis of the names we commonly associate with planetary archetypes in Western Astrology, but it is at least as fascinating to explore the mythic meaning of the star constellation labeled the Pleiades by the Greeks, through the mythic lens of other cultures (hopefully I will make the time to do so in a subsequent post).  The rising of the Pleiades before sunrise was used by many ancient people to mark their calendars, and by many indigenous people as a time telling device.  In the Americas, the Aztecs used the Pleiades as a basis for their calendar, and the Hopi built ceremonial spaces in which a hole in the ceiling would reveal the glow of the Pleiades at a specific time to begin a ritual.  Interestingly, in many diverse cultures the seven stars have been seen as seven sisters for ages, such as with the aboriginal people of Australia and the Nez Perce of the Northwest USA.  I sense such mystery about the Pleiades that I am hoping to center and sense what types of signs, symbols, and events end up being associated with this time period containing so many astrological connections to them.

Seven Sisters by Jennifer Sea

Last year at this time, on May 20, 2012 there was a Solar Eclipse conjunct the Pleiades.  And as I have already mentioned, this year on May 20 when the Sun is conjunct the star Alcyone of the Pleiades, there is going to be an exact square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries.  So to honor the date of May 20 and it’s solar connection to the Pleiades, I am going to share some musical work of two geniuses who have birthdays near May 20.  Perhaps it is because my natal moon is conjunct the Pleiades at 2 degrees Gemini, as well as the birthday of both of these musicians, but I feel that each of their energies incorporates some of the synthesizing skills of the Pleiades in weaving together musical styles.  And music is also a perfect example of the transformation offered through intentional vibration that the Pleiades are here to offer us.  The first is a genius of the popular music format, Fats Waller, who was born on May 21, 1904 and below can be heard singing one of his romantic jingles in the unique style that only Fats could deliver:

And Sun Ra, born May 22, 1914.  Sun Ra has his own resonance with being in contact with the energy of outer space, having a vision as a young man in which he was taken to a planet he identified as Saturn, where he was told he could respond to the chaos that was coming to his planet Earth through communicating through music.  Taking the name Sun Ra, he said he was from Saturn, and his music has an energy to it I associate with the Pleiades, for whatever reason:

References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades_(Greek_mythology)
  2. Oken, Alan.  Soul Centered Astrology

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.

Triple Goddess T-Square: Vesta, Juno, and Pallas Athena

There is just so much going on right now with astrology transits, it isn’t quite as obvious to pay attention to the asteroids named after Goddesses.  I mean, we not only have the Pluto-Uranus square going on, we have Pluto and Mars conjunct in Capricorn, we have Venus and Saturn conjunct in Scorpio, we have had Mercury moving across the north node of the Moon in Scorpio first direct, then retrograde, and now stationing direct to move back across a final time, and most significantly in this moment we are in between eclipses, with the upcoming Lunar eclipse of November 28 containing somewhat of a Yod (in a wide orb sense) between Pluto and Mars in Capricorn and Saturn and Venus in Scorpio at the base, with Jupiter and the Full Moon in Gemini at the apex.

However, there is in fact a triple Goddess T-Square happening right now, involving some of the most powerful manifestations of the Goddess (Juno, Vesta, Pallas Athena), first brilliantly described in  Asteroid Goddesses by Demetra George.  In this pivotal work, Demetra George illuminated the insight that the asteroid Goddesses represent distinct archetypal manifestations of the Great Goddess, in particular in the form of Venus Aphrodite.  George wrote “the essence of the potential generative and transformative power of the Great Goddess (Moon) in her active, reproductive energy (Venus) differentiates into . . . Pallas Athena, at the MC, utiliz[ing] the sexual-creative energy to birth mental and artistic forms . . . Vesta, at the Ascendant, utiliz[ing] the sexual creative energy to renew and regenerate the self . . .  Juno, at the Descendant, utiliz[ing] the sexual creative energy to renew and regenerate others” (p. 28).  These three Goddess asteroids in this intense aspect are important to keep in mind as manifestations of Venus Aphrodite at this time in particular, since the planet Venus is karmically charged right now, being conjunct Saturn in Scorpio and therefore ruled by the Pluto and Mars conjunction in Capricorn that is also happening at this time of a powerful Lunar Eclipse.

At this time, Juno in Sagitarius is opposite Vesta in Gemini, and Pallas Athena in Pisces is squaring each of them.  This triple Goddess T-Square will be at its strongest from November 22  until December 2, 2012, while still in wider orb until December 10, 2012.  Juno has been moving direct in Sagitarius, while Vesta has been moving retrograde in Gemini.  Pallas Athena, until today, had been moving retrograde in Pisces, and so has been squaring Vesta in Gemini while each moved retrograde.  Amazingly, just as Juno in Sagitarius has moved into an exact square with Vesta in Gemini today, Pallas Athena has stationed direct in Pisces within one degree of an exact T-Square.  As a result, Pallas Athena in Pisces is especially charged at this moment, having stationed direct as the apex point in a T-Square with Vesta and Juno.  I have to admit, it’s a little easier for me to notice this, because Vesta is currently conjunct my Ascendant, Juno is currently conjunct my Descendant, and Pallas Athena is more widely conjunct my Sun in my 10th House.   So  maybe that’s why I’m writing this blog entry today.

But I see some clear intention and resonance between the dynamics of these three Goddess asteroids within the larger intensity of this astrological moment.  There is a lot of Goddess energy at this time, with a Grand Water Trine between Ceres in Cancer, Neptune in Pisces, and Venus conjunct Saturn in Scorpio.  There is thus an opportunity for us to manifest some of our deepest gifts and visions into the world at this time, and so this T-Square between Juno, Vesta, and Pallas Athena can reveal some of the challenges and self-made obstacles we could face in a manifestation process.  In addition, Saturn in Scorpio in mutual reception with the conjunction of Pluto and Mars in Capricorn, with Venus mixed in conjunct Saturn, in between eclipses with Mercury conjunct the north node in Scorpio and the south node in Taurus, certainly brings up themes of survival and self-preservation, but also deeply pulls in the importance of relationships and merging with others outside of ourselves in order to more effectively survive and prosper in life.  In fact, we could all be learning some significant karmic lessons at this time regarding the process of merging power with others versus choosing to remain more reliant upon ourselves, and again this T-Square with Pisces Pallas Athena at the apex can reveal where we could be experiencing some imbalance and self-blockage.  We are in a vortex of extraordinary change in this moment, and many people are off-kilter with their reactions and responses to what is happening.  Resonating with the idea of the asteroid Goddesses functioning as manifestations of the creative manifesting energy of Venus Aphrodite and the Great Goddess, paying attention to this aspect at this time can help us figure out how to manifest events and make choices that are more in alignment with what we want to have happen in our lives.  If we ignore the warnings of this aspect, it points to some negative ways we could spin off the intense astrological energy of this time.

Vesta and Juno are classic Goddesses in this dance of when to merge with others or an intimate other, and when to remain more independent within.  Vesta is currently retrograde at  22 degrees Gemini , exactly opposing Juno in Sagitarius direct at 22 degrees of Sagitarius, with Pallas Athena the apex point stationing direct at 23 degrees of Pisces.  As the apex point of this T-Square, Pallas Athena in Pisces is the archetype we can look to as the key dynamic to work out the tension of the aspect.  Drawing from the work of Bill Tierney in Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, it suggests that if we mismanage the energy of the apex Pallas Athena in Pisces (through frustration, blockages, habitual insecurities, defensive reactions from being self-centered) we will make the opposition between Gemini Vesta and Sagitarius Juno even more of an extreme polarity full of conflict instead of synthesizing their energy in a more harmonious and complementary manner.  If we can manage Pallas Athena in Pisces to the best of our abilities by focusing on the greater good, being aware of our relationships, the rights and needs of others,  and how we are impacting them, we can utilize the intense polarity between Vesta and Juno to propel us forward in a positive growth direction.

Fittingly, Pallas Athena is a more complicated archetype to understand, in part due to the predominant story of her birth passed down through myth.  In the traditional myth we know, Zeus gave birth to Pallas Athena from his head, and she was already wearing a full-suit of armor, as we can see below:

Yet this birth story upon closer thought tells a different story, essentially along the lines that the version of HIStory that we tend to be told is told to us by Patriarchal authorities that have been in power for ages at this point, with the victors tending to tell their version of events to pass down.  When Goddess culture was invaded and then subjugated to Patriarchal rule and forced to pay tribute to the masculine sky Gods, various Goddess figures were assimilated into a version in deference to Patriarchal rule.  Juno certainly was, moving from being the Great Goddess to the jealous and manipulative wife of Zeus, but none perhaps was more overtly than Pallas Athena, whose divine wisdom was utilized by the military extension of the Patriarchy in their strategic decision making.  Indeed, the impossibility of her birth from the head of Zeus instead of the womb of a Goddess, says it all:  this version of Pallas Athena was invented from the minds of the Zeus-like rulers of the Partriarchy of the time to serve their own purposes.  The fear of being overthrown and the corresponding manipulative grasping to stay in power can be seen in the story of the myth:  it had been prophesized that the Titaness of Wisdom, Metis, would give birth to the powerful Athena as well as a son who would overthrow Zeus.  Zeus, who himself had overthrown his own father, tricked Metis into transforming so that he could swallow her.  This is the logic given to how Athena ultimately could have been born in full armor from the head of Zeus.  However, there is also an interesting twist to how Athena could have exactly emerged from the head of Zeus.  In some versions of the myths, Zeus began to get an immense headache and then another figure burst his head open with a Minoan ax.  A Minoan ax being used is an interesting symbol of the Minoan Goddess culture of Crete the Patriarchal invaders of Zeus would have usurped.  In addition, the identity of this figure is sometimes given to be Prometheus, and among other versions also Hermes.  As Prometheus has been linked to the Uranus archetype first by Richard Tarnas and now by many others, this adds a humanistic revolutionary energy to the birth of Athena that otherwise may not have been obvious.  And Hermes as Mercury can represent our ability to liberate ourselves from limiting or oppressive patterns through the creative use of mental analysis as well as mental expression.

Today, we tend to view Pallas Athena as representing creative intelligence and wise problem solving.  Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses describes the archetype of Pallas Athena as the ability to use one’s mental abilities and creativity to create and control one’s reality.  Pallas Athena teaches that “the mind’s eye contains the seed of manifested form” and so if we are in a fog of ignorance or limiting thought forms, the process of working with Pallas Athena can help destroy, transform, and renew life structures so that we can learn “to utilize the creative mind to transform ideas into reality” (p. 32).  Important to the difficult nature of Pallas Athena in the role of the apex point of this T-Square, George also explained that when one is stuck in a process with Pallas Athena,there can be a tendency to feel “inadequacy and inability to influence” one’s life and experience in reality (p. 32).

This potential self-victimizing feeling of being  unable to create our own reality is the dangerous martyr shadow side of Pallas Athena being in Pisces.  If we react to the extraordinary oppression of our times by holding back out of a feeling of futility, or defensively reacting out of vengeance with a sense of anger or violence, we will negatively set-off the energy of this T-Square.  Pallas Athena in Pisces is a call to act out of compassion and non-violence in the face of oppression.  Meeting violence and negativity with anger, violence, or negativity only perpetuates the cycle of violence, anger, and negativity.  If we look at some of the greatest movements of social change, non-violent resistance and civil disobedience was integral to their success, as they helped garner compassion for their movement and values instead of stirring up violent reactions to violence.  Demetra George describes Pallas Athena in Pisces as ” a proponent of nonviolent resistance:  turning the other cheek or refusing to fight.  She is also the enlightened warrior, the bodhisattva . . . The wisdom of Pallas Athena in Pisces is the wisdom of compassion- the recognition of the universal suffering and desire for happiness that permeates humanity” (p. 106).  It is important to remember that acting with compassion and practicing nonviolent resistance to oppression does not mean you are being a “push-over” in the face of oppression- it is possible to be highly assertive, creative, and most importantly influential with protests and counteractions against institutional oppression through  nonviolent civil disobedience.

I feel part of the feeling of reacting with violence and anger in the face of oppression comes from the victimizing side of Pisces, the feeling that life is unfair and out of control, and so we must seize control and strike back against who or what we perceive as the powers that have wounded us.  I don’t mean to suggest that we shouldn’t defend ourselves when being physically attacked, I mean more in the sense of reacting with anger and violence back to the general sense of oppression we could feel happening around us in society.   The powerful faith-based side of Pisces, is in contrast having a faith in the unknown and faith that by living a life of our highest integrity we can help others also live a life of integrity, and ultimately we can help break larger patterns of violence and war in our culture. It is the belief that human beings are not actually doomed and destined to forever engage in a cycle of war.

Another danger of Pallas Athena in Pisces is fearing that by integrating our work into our reality, which includes the power structure, that we will become complicit with the oppression stemming from the “system.”  We must remember the power of Pallas Athena is the ability to transform not only our own reality, but as a result also the greater consensus reality surrounding us.  There have also been many authors such as Jane Bolen who have depicted the modern representation of Pallas Athena as the career woman in the business suit climbing the corporate or political ladder of the modern Patriarchy, and the ability of the feminine to embody and express strong masculine yang energy.  This latter depiction of the Pallas Athena archetype is interesting given the current transit of Pluto in Capricorn and Saturn in Scorpio that will be going on for the next couple of years.  It is an opportune time to transform the system and the institutions of power from within, so any women or men who are able to act from a place of power with the greater good in mind, can help transform the modern power structures away from oppression and more in line with facilitating greater communal growth and prosperity.  However, the intense dynamics of this triple Goddess t-square reflect the difficulty of completing such a transformation from within the system without setting off significant opposition and stress.

Part of the stress that can be going on with others and ourselves at this time also has to do with the illusion-based aspect of Pallas Athena in Pisces.  Many people at this time are in denial of what is actually happening in reality, and instead of taking a hard look within during a process of disillusionment, they are instead holding fast to their old views and mindsets and refusing to believe that the world is changing around them.  Many people, including many people in positions of power, are attempting to manipulate information through media, advertisements, and other avenues of information control (or Pisces illusion control)  in order to compensate for a potential cataclysmic disillusionment they could experience if they opened themselves to what is truly going on around them.  The intense astrological aspects of this moment reflect the fact that the world is going through intense change.  The beneficial power of Pisces with Pallas Athena at this time is the power of mutable water, the ability to flow and move with the changes happening around us and make modifications to our worldview in order to come into greater alignment.  This doesn’t mean suddenly getting rid of all of our old beliefs and values, it simply means being willing to take a second look at what could be in need of transformation at this time.

Indeed, Pallas Athena in Pisces can be more difficult to integrate into consensus reality precisely  because of it’s ability to perceive beyond the boundaries, limitations, and taboos defined by the values and beliefs of the dominant culture.  Demetra George described Pallas Athena in Pisces as having a “diffuse perception” with the ability to see “through merging oneself in between the spaces of dense reality and experiencing a direct contact with the object” (p. 106).  All of us block or limit our perception of phenomenal reality in one way or another, but Pallas Athena in Pisces reflects times of being able to perceive beyond our normal perceptual limitations, or the “normal” limitations of perception defined by the dominant consensus view upon reality.  As a result, Pisces Pallas Athena lends healing and artistic gifts that can integrate psychic and clairvoyant abilities.  Utilizing the faith and psychic-based healing abilities of Pallas Athena in Pisces will be one of the most beneficial ways to work with the tension of this triple Goddess T-square.  George describes Pallas Athena achieving success through Pisces as using the “psychological techniques of guided imagery, fantasy, and dream interpretation, as well as meditation, devotion, spirit guides, and spiritual practices. Aesthetically, she brings out the poetic, inspirational, and illusory qualities in artistic expression.  There exists creative skill in the media of film and photography which play with light and illusion, and in ethereal music (synthesizer) which evokes feeling” (p. 106).  So, one route of working with the tension of this T-square is to put the stirred up emotions and feelings into art, music, and media.  By capturing our emotional struggles in art we leave landmarks behind which other people facing similar struggles can potentially one day discover and use as a coping mechanism.  In addition, it will be important to trust some of our more psychic perceptions that can often be labeled “crazy” by our dominant culture at this time.  Obviously, practicing proper discernment between what is a true perception in this sense versus what is a psychic projection can be tricky.

 

So how exactly can we help facilitate a transformation at this time of great crisis and cataclysm on our planet, with the greater good of all in mind?  There are no easy answers, but the message I receive from these three divine beings at this time is to focus the highest levels of our personal creative thought and analysis (Pallas Athena) on ourselves in order to transform our own limitations from within and focus on the unique gift we have to offer (Vesta), as well as to focus on our relationships with others and all of the ensuing interpersonal dynamics (Juno).

The Vesta archetype (Hestia is the Greek Goddess version of Vesta) has had a tendency to have focus be a prominent theme in depiction, since Hestia/Vesta is the Goddess of the Hearth, able to keep her fire perpetually burning, eternally.  In Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George associates Vesta with the Virgo and Scorpio archetypes and describes her as having a “Principle of Focus and Commitment” that involves a “dedication and aspiration toward a path or goal” as well as the “sacrifices that are made to attain that goal” (p. 131).  In the August / September 2012 issue of The Mountain Astrologer, astrologer Dawn Bodrogi proclaims that whatever house we have Vesta “in describres what we instinctively honor and where we hope to be pure of heart and deed” (p. 41):

Vesta knows where our true passion lies, and it is her face we see when we must choose life over death-in-life.  She is everything we do and every step we take to keep that flame alive.  She is our courage, and she is the willing and joyful surrender that allows us to discover what we cherish and then dedicate our lives to it (p. 40).

Bodrigi goes on to depict Vesta transits as times when we can experience profound epiphanies and sudden moments of lucid awareness concerning what we need to be doing with our lives and where we need to be on our path.  When Vesta is impacting our life we get a clearer sense of what we truly cherish, what passions bring us truly alive, and what essential values we carry that will withstand any cataclysm.  George, Bodrigi, and many others usually depict withdrawal from the world on at least a temporary basis as integral to the archetype of Vesta, in keeping with her historical role as a temple Priestess.  Indeed, it is through a cyclic period of withdrawal that the Vesta archetype gains its powerful ability to focus like a laser on a unique gift that can later be brought back into the world to be shared.

In Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George describes an archetypal process we go through with Vesta as being about transforming “confusion into commitment,” which nicely pairs with the polarity potential of integrating the T-Square opposition between Vesta and Juno.  George explains that we “may experience aimlessness, alienation, or depletion of vital force” until the feeling of being “fragmented, overly dependent upon others, or without personal direction,” pulls us into a “transformative process of renewal of [our] virginity or essential self” (p.33).  This concept also links with the shadow warnings of Pallas Athena in Pisces squaring Vesta in Gemini at this moment.  If we are feeling overwhelmed by the oppression of the world at this time, we must be careful to not let it propel us into a sense of alienation and aimlessness.  It is imperative that we go within and into isolation if necessary in order to regain our sense of essential self and ability to regenerate our power back into the world to create the type of reality we would like to live in.  Because Juno, the Goddess of Union, is standing in opposition to Vesta in Gemini at this time, it means we need to be careful to strike the correct balance between withdrawing from outer relationships versus giving the necessary time and attention to the needs of our important outer relationships.

This movement within away from the world is integral to the current transit of Vesta in Gemini since it is currently moving retrograde.  It also links with some of the themes associated with Juno, currently moving direct in Sagitarius in opposition to the retrograde Gemini Vesta.  Juno has had a charged time recently, at one time recently being conjunct Mars (the lunar cycle between October 15 and October 29) and also opposite Jupiter (October 31 –  November 13).  Demetra George described the Juno cycle as a “transformative process of consummation and separation in relationships” which “teaches the wisdom that forgiveness and fair play lead to depth and renewal with others” and in the end helps us “transform selfish desire into cooperative union” (p.34).  Juno is the Goddess archetype of committed relationship, and so in difficult periods of relationship it can be necessary at times for partners to separate in space in order to renew themselves, and ultimately return to the relationship with a regenerated ability to sustain the commitment.

The danger of Juno in Sagitarius in this T-Square comes from an exaggerated sense of what should be happening in the future- this is all the more likely to happen when we are not in tune with our outer relationships and their needs and expectations.  George describes Juno in Sagitarius as having a need for “intellectual stimulation with a partner” as well as “consensus on a belief system or a mutually shared vision of the future” (p. 172).  It will be important at this time to gain greater clarity for what our true path and vision of the future is and check to see how much that truly aligns with the visions of our partners.  If there is conflict with these visions we will need to make the necessary modifications with our choices, actions, and beliefs to make our interactions with others more harmonious.  And when we do have an empowered agreement with others, or a more defensive and assertive feeling about our own beliefs, we must also beware of the other danger with Juno in Sagitarious:  “religious fanaticism” or “rigid insistence on one’s own beliefs” (George, p. 172).

In opposition to this Sagitarius Juno energy, Vesta in Gemini brings our focus to the way we choose and use our words, as well as the way we express information in the world and the way we are able to “network and coordinate” with other individuals in reality (George, p. 135).  Since Jupiter is also moving retrograde in Gemini not too far away from Vesta, all of these Gemini Vesta issues can potentially loom even larger at this time.  Demetra George warns about the misuse of Vesta in Gemini as involving a sense of alienation that happens when we get “so caught up in word choice that the ability to convey the true meaning is lost, or through excessive intellectualism” (p.136).  Vesta in Gemini in retrograde and in this triple Goddess T-square brings added emphasis to the possibility of becoming “vulnerable to using words and rationalizations to create an emotional distance from others. The mind can be a professional asset but must not be allowed to dominate the emotional experience” (George, p. 136).

Thus, this Sagitarius Juno opposition with Gemini Vesta can become a potentially dangerous agent of oppression when combined with a distorted Pisces Pallas Athena energy at this time.  Juno in Sagitarius can make us fanatical in our beliefs, in particular beliefs we share with a like-minded group and beliefs we share in contrast to another competing group.  If we hold tight to these beliefs at all costs, we could use a combination of Pisces Pallas Athena deception and illusion with the Gemini Vesta ability to create an intellectualized and “rational” argument to feel justified in doing just about anything in defense of our beliefs.  The movie Lincoln gaining popularity at the moment is a perfect illustration of how political figures like Abraham Lincoln throughout history have had to make major compromises in order to create change like a constitutional amendment against slavery-  Lincoln was not able to hold tight to all of his beliefs in order to make the change happen, he had to be strong and resilient while also being mutable at the same time.  Furthermore, the film shows how Lincoln had to resort to a lot of deceptive and manipulative political practices in order to create the compromises necessary to get the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution passed in Congress.  This triple Goddess t-square could just as easily be used in a similar fashion in defense of an oppressive construct such as slavery.  It is up to each of us as individuals to use discernment to stay in our personal integrity and make choices to be an ally with others against oppressive forces in our environment.  Others intent on seizing power for themselves could likewise use the energy reflected by this aspect to make an extraordinary power grab at this time.

With regards to our intimate and romantic relationships, since the Vesta and Juno archetypes each deal with fear of sex projections stemming from past sexual trauma or betrayal, it will be very important to be aware of what triggers we carry in this manner and how we could be distancing ourselves in our sexual relationships as a result.  With Pisces in Pallas Athena holding space in between this face-off between Vesta and Juno, we will want to emphasize the Piscean gifts of compassionate unconditional love for ourselves (Vesta) and our loved ones (Juno) in order to help all of us break out of our limiting patterns of thought and behavior.  In contrast, if we have fear-based projections coming from us or other negative thought patterns, the visualizing potential of Pallas Athena in Pisces will become more directed at attracting the types of oppressive Patriarchal relationships that gave the Goddesses Juno and Vesta so much trouble in the first place.

Look to see what houses each of the asteroids fall in to more fully realize how this T-Square is impacting you:  where is 22 degrees of Gemini for Vesta, 22 degrees of Sagitarius for Juno, and 23 degrees of Pisces for Pallas Athena?  You also may have something significant at the empty point, 23 degrees of Virgo.  Being a Mutable T-Square, listen to the analysis given by Bill Tierney in  Dynamics of  Aspect Analysis:  “Typically, the stress generated by the Mutable T-Square can be taxing to the nervous system (often due to over-stimulation) as well as disruptive to thought processes . . . [and] can attract relationships whose conflicts center around contrasting ideas and opposing concepts about life” (p. 100-101).  The Vesta point in your chart is where you may  be feeling an internal movement to withdraw and focus on some sort of gift or resource connected with what you are discovering to be your essential self.  The Juno point could be where you are being pulled into partnerships or other opportunities to merge your essential being with something greater outside of yourself, or where some of these issues of contrasting beliefs in relationships could be occurring.  The Pallas Athena point is the place to use visualization and other creative methods to help transform the conditions of your current reality that could be self-limiting.  It is also an important area to focus on to make sure you are not deceiving yourself or others through perception saturated in Piscean illusion.  Being the apex point, Pallas Athena in Pisces is the archetype that will clue you in on an illuminating dynamic that you usually would have difficulty integrating into a process of working with the dynamics of the Vesta-Juno opposition “without at least causing internal disharmony, inner imbalance, or tensional self-blockage,” ultimately manifesting difficult dynamics into your relationships (Tierney, p. 96).  So be the good Pisces, that strong angel of a fish with a lucidly glowing vision and faith, not the drunkard escapist and passive-aggressive fish!

The Sabian symbols from Dane Rudhyar’s An Astrological Mandala also have some interesting insights regarding this triple Goddess T-square.  Vesta at 22 degrees of Gemini is “Dancing couples in a Harvest Festival” and deals with the feeling of having done the hard Vesta work to birth a joyful holistic sense of self, leading to the ability to feel joy in a broader social sphere with others,  “giving free reign to their emotional instincts” (p. 104).  In contrast, Juno at 22 degrees of Sagitarius is “A Chinese Laundry” and is about the “use of one’s special racial-cultural background in order to survive and prosper in an alien environment . . . no longer a question of imitating the ways of a superior group, but instead of maintaining one’s own integrity in situations which neither give value for, nor favor what one basically is” (p. 223).  So, the Juno archetype can be seen here in the concept that merging in union with others can be most successful for ourselves when we maintain or own sense of self and do not lose our essential self through assimilation with the larger group;  also, that we sustain our personal integrity for the sake of maintaining our personal integrity, not for the sake of receiving praise or promotion from others.

But the most interesting Sabian symbol to me is fittingly the one for the apex point, Pallas Athena in Pisces at 23 degrees:  “A materializing medium giving a seance” (p. 283):

The person who believes he or she has a mission or mandate, or any special gift that can be of value to his community, must substantiate this belief. He has to produce results. Sometimes this involves difficulties and special conditions or circumstances; it always demands to some extent the gift of some power of value which is deeply one’s own . . Something precious involved in a deeply personal experience has to be surrendered, offered to others. The medium’s psychic substance provides the materials made visible in the phenomena, if the latter are genuine.  After the seance, the medium is usually exhausted. The performer gives of his very life to the performance . . . The display of psychic power that the symbol depicts can be interpreted positively or negatively  according to the motives that induced the “medium” to give the seance.  In its most constructive aspect it suggests the keyword Substantiation. The shadowy aspect of the process is “deception.”

This important consideration to be in personal integrity when practicing psychic or clairvoyant healing or perception, can be also seen in the Sabian symbol for the missing piece of the T-Square, 23 degrees of Virgo:  “A lion tamer displays his skill and character” (p. 165).  This symbol focuses on the importance of training, and “the need to tame one’s vital energies in order to fulfill one’s destiny,” as an “individual who is in complete control of his vital and emotional energies; at the spiritual level this includes the overcoming of pride- pride in one’s strength and mastery, and the pride attached to an exalted status or social office” (p. 165).

I feel this triple Goddess t-square has significant lessons for anyone practicing intuitive arts such as astrology or other healing modalities that draw upon intuition in combination with a more rational scientific method of analysis.  But you don’t need to be a “new age” worker to have this aspect impact you.  Whether we are fully conscious of it or not, we are all impacted from time to time by psychic premonitions or flashes of intuitive understanding, the source of which we don’t know exactly. I feel this t-square reflects a profound calling for each one of us to discover and honor our personal integrity in all facets of our lives at this time.  Some of us believe we are acting from personal integrity when we are actually running roughshod over others in our environment; these times also call for us to be open to examining the values and mindset going into our sense of personal integrity, and areas we could transform beyond our own self-limitations in order to contribute toward greater harmony in the world around us.  We each have a unique gift that we chose to be born to bring to this moment in time, right here, right now.  What is your gift?  What brings you alive?  How can you share this with others?  How can you envision a world in which your gift will flourish and bring joy to others?

And you know what’s an even crazier trip?  As soon as Vesta moves out of the T-Square dynamic through it’s retrograde motion in early to mid December, Ceres moving retrograde in Gemini will create a second triple Goddess T-square between Gemini Ceres, Pisces Pallas Athena, and Sagitarius Juno.  This t-square will be particularly strong between December 10 and December 18, 2012.