unknowable invisible

My last published post, following the Pisces Full Moon, saw me attempting to honour something I didn’t really understand… I have been trying to remain open to the messages that emerge from my recent trip to my own inner swamplands… while too aiming for reverence, knowing that some things are shrouded in mystery for a reason and they will be illuminated for our conscious mind in due course, or not.

The things I share here come from my own experience and I am aware that they may not make sense for everyone, (or anyone!) but I must simply be true to myself and the part of me through which these insights come.

So in line with my own personal journey, I have deepened my understanding of that which was completely unknown to me a few short months ago, except perhaps in an abstract sense…

A day or two ahead of last month’s Aries Full Moon I had allowed myself to become so depleted that I found myself in hospital, first in the emergency department and then in intensive care (ICU), followed by a couple of days on the medical ward. At four months pregnant I had been caring for two young kids and keeping our house functional while my partner worked hard at his job six long days each week. After being hit by numerous bugs over the winter months, my immune system was shot; I had reached my limit and my body signalled as much with a heart rate over 150 and severe shortness of breath.

My few days in hospital I was visited by 13 doctors. Most of them had little to no capacity to hear, but there were some exceptions. I believed that I had simply run myself down to the point of exhaustion, and that my symptoms would subside given adequate time and rest, but the biomedical concern was that I had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in my lung) and they had to run many tests to exclude this. In the meantime, I was afforded respite from my normal life and so able to recover my breath while my heart rate settled to the upper reaches of normal. Once I had undergone the required diagnostics, with no detectable clots, I was allowed to go home.

By the time of my discharge I knew that I had been provided with an opportunity, and that to force a return to my former way of living was a fast-track to readmission. I was being called to make changes: I needed help. For me, admittance of this is no mean feat; while I appear to be easygoing I am in fact quite determined to “cope” no matter what (I have Capricorn on my IC, Saturn in my 12th and an Aquarian South Node), and relinquishment of my stubborn control-freakery is quite challenging. My family rallied to my aid and took turns running my household while I remained bed-bound for a couple of weeks.

Now that I have recovered significantly, the support of loved ones has become less pressing, but it is still evident that my inadvertent overdoing it (by walking the short distance to a neighbourhood friend’s place on an irresistibly sunny day) results in the proverbial two steps back. So I must remain vigilant, and for at least so long as Mars dwells in my 12th house (until the end of November) my official position is surrender. It is not easy, for me or those who come to help, as I am no longer confined to my bed and so instead I repeatedly interfere with their best efforts at bolstering my convalescence.

I am trying to use this time of diminished capacity to consciously surrender, to rest, and also to bring to light the messages that seem to be emerging from within. I have improved at being able to accept help (though still not as graciously as I would like), and at asking others to do things for me (with less passive aggression), and also letting go of the guilt at being unable to contribute in ways that I would normally, but there is a long (long long) way to go. I pray for mercy. And that my blessedly enhanced awareness will allow me to be alert to opportunities to delegate appropriately forevermore.

Were it not for my consciously seeking ways to trust my unconscious (following the advice offered by a prophetic hobo in a dream I had earlier this year) I might have not been able to see the many gifts of this unfolding situation. As I was becoming increasingly aware of the value of surrender in the weeks and months before my hospital admission, I was very open to continuing on this path once I was really unwell. It is this state of being open that has allowed me to grow from this experience in ways that are so significant to me.

It has also provided me with a first-hand experience of (admittedly brief and relatively mild) illness to draw upon for reflection. Our culture has developed a pathological tendency to dismiss and reject sickness, and in so doing throws out bathwater and baby alike. The understandable desire for a return to wellness has led to the oversimplification and demonisation of the deeply complex and meaningful process implicit in being unwell.

Truly there are many gifts available to us when we are forced against our will (like Persephone) into the underworld of illness, though these are often obscured by pain, suffering, lethargy, depression as well as the conditioned expectation that we ought to recover and return to “normal” as quickly as possible. Unwellness is an experience that we all encounter at various times in our lives to varying degrees of severity and timespans. In stark contrast to the conscious life that we cultivate in the outside material world, sickness beckons us into a deep dark place within to dwell for a time

inert

but alert

to the emergence of truths

we cannot know unless

we are willing to

resign to the requirements

of our own particular ills

I don’t pretend to know what a successful navigation of one’s illness should look like; I think that must be personal and different for us all. But I suspect that, as in myth and fairy tale, the gods don’t expect us to suffer in vain ~ there must be meaning to be found in there somewhere, amid the ghosts ghouls and monsters that haunt us from our own shadowy depths.

Saturn square Neptune

The 270° square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces (both currently retrograde) has been in play since late 2015. As one of the dominant astrological themes of 2016 it deserves its own post.

Saturn is the wise elder of our solar system ~ paternal pragmatic mature responsible ~ he brings a dose of reality to whatsoever he contacts, setting boundaries, limits and slowing things down. It can be quite abrupt and even depressing as we come to terms with the Saturnian facts.

Neptune is the mystic ~ dreamy spiritual elusive transcendental ~ it’s subtle vibration often goes unnoticed as we are so busy with our “real world” concerns. But without Neptune life is lacking. We humans are connected to our spirit source, and something in us knows it = Neptune

When these two vastly different planetary influences meet this way, the energy is palpable. The square aspect brings friction and agitation regardless of the players involved. In this case the two signs involved are mutable (adaptable and comfortable with change), but Sagittarius is Yang fire and Pisces is Yin water. Sag wants freedom to explore understand expand and philosophise, while Pisces yearns to return to oneness, connecting with something larger than itself.

The distinctions are important, providing balance when the contact is made. Neptune knows no bounds ~ it can be chaotic lawless and anarchic. By contrast, Saturn is boundaries ~ limiting and restrained. Saturn’s realism and structure will temper Neptune’s fantastical visions and daydreams, helping us to bring them closer to manifestation. Saturn reminds us of the need to work ~ show up and make real tangible effort in pursuit of the heights that Neptune inspires.

Aspects are always seeking integration ~ as two planets come into contact we on Earth experience conflicting yearnings and can make effort to assimilate these in creative ways. Can we amalgamate chaos with order?

Inner work and spiritual practice are meaningful ways that we can make use of this moving square. Neptune represents spirituality and the unconscious, while Saturn symbolises work and practice ~ walking our talk.

Where we are unable or unwilling to consciously assimilate these energies we might find ourselves waking with a hangover, perhaps in both the metaphorical and the all-too-real-world head-thumping sense. As we mindlessly ramble on down Neptune’s slippery and treacherous low-road, allowing ourselves to be tempted time and again by the urge to temporarily escape reality, this year’s astroscape points to the folly of persistently choosing this well-worn path, strewn with lost shoes (glass slippers?), beer bottles, littered ciggie butts and polaroids of long-forgotten moments once considered unforgettable.

I wish not to be a killjoy. A well-lived and happy life must surely be filled with joy, laughter, good friends, and be punctuated with celebratory indulgence. But we cannot fool ourselves forever that such indulgences are necessary on the first Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday et al of each week, can we? And how much joy do we really find in these chemical-fuelled moments? Do the inevitable consequences feel disproportionate to the pleasures we sought the night before? How long can we claim debaucherous shenanigans to be an immersion in illuminating new experiences?

Twenty-sixteen poses these uncomfortable questions.

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Can we allow the well-lit clearly sign-posted boundaries of Saturn to guide our return to more authentic and transcendent Neptunian destinies?

Saturn in Sagittarius implores us to seek our own truth. For most of us, that truth cannot be found at the bottom of a whiskey bottle, or in the smokey blur of stoner-dom, or in the disturbingly repetitious thoughts of a meth habit. The truth is that we use drugs to change the ways think feel and behave.  But frequent drug use creates many more problems than it can ever solve.

To every thing there is a season. I am not arguing for nanny-state laws of prohibition, or self-imposed blanket bans that lead us away from whole-hearted living. We are human beings, blessed with conscious minds with which we are able to make discerning choices. There are certainly moments in life where a given substance can enhance an experience. But the key is to make decisions guided by an inner compass oriented toward our highest good. To weigh our options mindfully, then accept the consequences.

Just as Saturn aims to balance Neptune, Neptune seeks to inspire the stoic straight-laced Saturn ~ urging us to find commonality with our fellows, to develop compassion, to go with the flow and enjoy the moments in life that are all so fleeting.  Neptune reminds us to nourish the part of us that knows we are connected to something greater than ourselves. Inviting us inwards, to the silent still portal of divine experience. Measures of Saturnian success and status have no place here.

I have noticed that sometimes, among communities of spiritual people egos run rampant in ways that eclipse more traditional egoic arenas, such as perhaps the business world, medicine or show biz. It seems that the more time one spends devoted to practices intended to evolve consciousness but that are depleted in their value by their use as a tool of ego enhancement, the more points one is awarded in some spiritualist prizefight. To maintain an appearance of detachment in the face of life’s most challenging emotional upheavals is valued above authenticity and vulnerability. This feels to me to be another misled manifestation of the Saturn Neptune square. The application of Saturn’s ego boundaries to Neptune’s realm of mystery.

Saturn always demands integrity. Neptune inspires communion with the divine. No one can know the inner life of another. Despite low-road Saturn in Sagittarius’ insistent sermonising, God is not some abstract dogmatic conceptual doctrine found exclusively within the walls of a cathedral, ashram, chapel, synagogue or mosque. God is alive, dynamic, evolving, omnipresent, experiential, infinite love, found in the hearts of the incarcerated and indoctrinated alike, in badly lit shopping malls and magnificent sweeping landscapes…

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View from atop Sacre Coeur, Montmartre

In everyone

and everything

every atom of this expanding universe

Saturn+Neptune ~ one without the other and we are lost, either in the grey board room of conformity, or the technicolour haze of delusion