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Pluto's Glyph

Chickpea to Cook

A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot where it’s being boiled.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

“Don’t you try to jump out.
You think I’m torturing you.
I’m giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this.”

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,
“Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can’t do this by myself.

I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention
to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking.”

The cook says,
“I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher.”

~Jalaluddin Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Pluto’s glyph is the circle of spirit being cooked in the crucible.   It represents the descent into the underworld, going into the darkness, confrontation with the shadow and facing one’s deepest fears.  Darkness refers to what has been repressed or denied, and Pluto’s job is to call up the experiences that get us to look at these issues. Whether Pluto plays a prominent role in a natal chart or it is activating a personal planet/angle by transit, its strategy includes taking a person through something difficult they cannot prepare for or avoid.

Pluto Conjuncts the Moon

It is December 2002 and I’m sitting in front of astrologer Evelyn Roberts in her home on the central coast of California.  A few months ago, I discovered the world of archetypal and psychological astrology.  Evelyn’s been trained to interpret charts this way, and I want to experience the validity of it through my own chart.

As we move into discussing my current transits, Evelyn begins talking about the Pluto cycle I’m in.  The planet has been conjuncting my natal Moon in Sagittarius, and she tells me it is a time of significant transformation.  We discuss the various possibilities of how I’m experiencing its impact.  Health issues my mother (Moon) is having, a huge transformation my husband is undergoing (Moon as my 7th house/partnership ruler) and the unearthing of hidden inherited ancestral patterns (Moon in 12th house).

For months, I’ve been feeling the transit as a great restlessness stirring within the recesses of my soul.  Hours are spent in solitude, being in nature and communing with the land and animals in the isolated part of the world I’m living in.  My dream world is extremely active, richly filled with intense symbology and I keep a journal devotedly.  I dive into books on the soul;  James Hillman’s “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling,” and Thomas Moore’s “Care of the Soul:  A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life.” A part of me is longing for something I cannot touch or name.  By all outer appearances, I have a “perfect” life and yet, deep within, something is missing.

Literally, the year and 2/3rd cycle has shown up thus far as a major move with my husband from a home I lived in for 10 years and a city, spanning a big chunk of time since 1976.  Salt Lake City was the place I called home and yet, I felt completely clear it was time to leave everything.  The importance of deeply rooted relationships and a sense of security regarding my place in the community and my contribution to it, were values I was living my life by.  Still, an urgency to answer the call to a journey into the unknown, relentlessly tugged inside of me and I knew I had to go.

Continuing on with the transit investigation, Evelyn asks me how my marriage is going (again, Moon as 7th house ruler).  “Great! We’re getting along just fine,” my response immediate and enthusiastic. “You must have a very strong relationship,” she replies.  “Yes, we do,” I add, speaking with Sag Moon confidence.  She seems impressed that this is so, and I feel good about it too.  Together for 12 years so far, the longevity of our relationship is a done deal.  Of course we are growing old together.  Though referred to as “The Bickersons” from time to time, we are mostly viewed as an ideal couple and our affection for one another is apparent.  The “D” word has never crossed our lips.

But Pluto’s mandate requires that something will happen that you don’t know is going to happen before it happens. Four months after my reading with Evelyn, my husband tells me he thinks he wants a divorce.  There, in the kitchen of our California Ranch home, the ground cracks open and the Underworld Lord seizes control, taking me on an unimagined descent into identity dismantling. Death was imminent, transformation necessary and eventually, rebirth happens.

Over the next several months while we remain together questioning what action to take, I experience intense fears about my ability to survive without him.  I struggle with the thought of losing my strongly held attachment to the role of being a wife.  I want our marriage to work and yet, I feel the burden of responsibility is on me to make the necessary changes and I don’t know if I can.  Laughter leaves me, crying takes its place.  Counselors are seen, while my own work as a therapist becomes increasingly difficult for me to handle.

Plutonian issues are at the heart of what’s come between us.  They’ve been mostly swept under the rug, largely ignored ’til the one day, when the Underworld deity walks into the house bringing chaos and disruption, demanding to be dealt with, once and for all.

Pluto Strategy

One version of the Sumerian myth of Inanna, Queen of Heaven, says she descended from the upper realms into the Underworld, out of her own curiosity. Another says she went there out of obligation paying respects to her sister, Eriskegal, Ruler of the Underworld, whose husband had just died. As Inanna makes her descent, she is forced to relinquish her crown, jewelry, robes, etc…all that she holds dear to her and the way she identifies herself. Standing naked before Eriskegal, Inanna is met with a stone-cold stare, and all life leaves her. Eventually, she is rescued and brought back to life, into the upper world.

The Rape of Persephone by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

In the first version, Inanna’s descent is consciously made. Perhaps there is something potent she is seeking in this unknown place. In the second, Inanna also willingly goes, but this time she travels into this realm out of obligation. A third and later version from Greek mythology, tells the story of Persephone, a young maiden kidnapped one day while she is walking with her mother, Demeter, through a field of flowers. Unexpectedly, the ground opens up and Persephone is kidnapped by Pluto, Lord of the Underworld.

While there may be a part of our psyche that is curious about what is hidden in our unconscious, or some compelling drive urges us to go there, what is more often the case is our protective egos would rather continue operating from a place of safety and security. This is why Persephone’s version is more closely aligned with the initiatory experience of a transiting Pluto cycle. The message is the same for all three versions and ultimately it is a story about the cycle of death, transformation and rebirth.

Pluto takes us into an unknown zone, one of chaos defined as total disorder or confusion. Whatever ego structures one has in place before a Pluto cycle begins, the intent of the initiation is to dismantle that which is standing in the way of us claiming our power more fully. The end result of the cycle is increased self-power, but the strategy operates initially through an intense loss of it, and an acute perception of what is missing. The experience causes us to fully claim what is most important to us by the painfully felt awareness of its lack, and by circumstances beyond our control. As in the law of nature, Pluto represents what is organic and impersonal. Whatever is out of balance, Pluto’s job is to restore it, regardless of the crises and destruction it may bring. The deepest core of our being will be challenged in an area of life containing our most important issues.

Pluto losses can range from physical ones to historically held onto beliefs and ideals. These cycles require a person to feel their feelings by producing dramatic experiences beyond their control. During these times, the power of positive thinking and affirmations can feel like ridiculous new-age tripe. Watching an Abraham-Hicks video whose message is to “Get Happy” can easily illicit fantasies of throwing darts at Esther. Etherial Enya and all higher chakra, angelic music is replaced by a wailing Sarah McLachlan, angry Shawn Colvin or anything tribal and lower chakra infused.

How to Consciously Participate With Pluto

One of the ways to work with a Pluto cycle is to ask the question and make a list of “what is the worst that could happen?” Whether you are in a cycle currently, or about to enter one, making this list calls out the deepest fears, acknowledging and bringing them to light. Oftentimes, what happens is something that didn’t make the list, and thus, the paradox of these transits is that it is difficult to prepare for them.

Hercules and the Hydra by Antonio Pollaiuolo

In the first phase of a cycle, powerlessness is the dominant feeling. Depression may be present. Engaging the dark force or one’s demons requires serious courage. It’s important to ask, “What do you want of me?” The beast appears to be real, and like the story of Hercules and Hydra, each time we try to cut off the creature’s head, three more grow in their place.

Although it is helpful to dialogue with this force, we cannot address Pluto cycles with our minds, there is no logical way through this passage or out of it. It doesn’t mean that we can’t call on our Witness Self to realize that we are a Self, having this deep emotional experience. It just means that the only way to “kill the monster,” is to go into the watery realms and be willing to meet her there.  Shamanic Breathwork, Process Work, and Expressive Art Therapy are excellent ways to connect with the feelings that need to be honored.

It is only in the embracing of deep feeling – whether it is excruciating pain, loss, jealousy, betrayal, abandonment, loneliness and intense fear, that the unconscious material is being met, cared for and given what it needs. Thus, the possibility for transmuting that which is still running some part of us, keeping us from further integration and wholeness, is present, and we rise again from the ashes, powerful and strong.

Shift Happens

Sometime during my cycle, I make a major shift.  I realize that I am not solely responsible for the issues on the table and that there will be changes required for both of us, if we are to stay together.  I begin asking the question, “Do I want to stay in this marriage?  What is it that I truly desire? I explore what it is I need in our relationship and what I feel needs to be done to create a balance of power and control.  I recognize what I’ve repressed and what I long to experience in a partnership.

Another major move occurs, more counseling, further questioning.  Power struggles continue.  Two months after my cycle completes, I know what I must do.  I summon the courage and power to leave.  I don’t know how I will make it on my own without him, but I’m willing to take the risk and find out.  I’m willing to see who I am, separate from him, and experience the freedom to follow my heart, wherever it leads me.

Within another six months, an agreeable dissolution of our marriage contract is reached, and the courts declare us legally divorced.  On the morning of July 4th, 2004, I find out I have “officially” birthed myself into a new life.

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

References:

“Making the Gods Work For You.” Caroline Casey, 1998.

“The Shamanic Astrology Handbook: The Archetypes and Symbols of the Signs and Planets and Their Role in Shamanic Astrology.” Daniel Giamario with Carolyn Brent, 1994.

“The Gods of Change: Pain, Crisis and the Transits of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.” Howard Sasportas, 1989.

Have you gone through a Pluto Moon Initiation?  I’d love to hear your comments about how this transit has played out for you!

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Butterfly: Original Painting by Holly Alexander

Originally published September 26, 2008

This is my favorite day of the year.   I love celebrating my birthday and I always wake up infused with the magic and possibilities of creation, the wonders of birthing a new me.

This day, this season, is when I feel the energy of planting seeds.  What I begin will show me its harvest six months from now, around the time of the Spring Equinox.

As I reflect over the past year, and particularly over the last seven years relative to transiting Saturn as it aspects my natal Moon, I feel my completion on many levels.  I have felt the “cycles within cycles,” more palpable than I can ever remember feeling them before.  I attribute this to my deep dive into the realms of astrology and the Divine Beauty of Great Mystery…and with that, my activation of a more conscious participation with my relationship to It and Me.

This past year has felt like a grand culmination of my entire life, my first 47 years.  My mantra has been about letting go, releasing, endings, death.   While my natal Moon/Jupiter in Sag holds the space of optimism for me, my enthusiastic and expanding place of vision and possibilities, it has been challenging to manifest the new, fiery creative impulse bubbling up inside of me, not quite ready to come to a boil.  I’m excited to taste that full heat and I know it is arriving soon…very soon!

For now, the message has been about freedom (Uranus), about a reclamation of my Feminine Power (Venus Return) and about taking the elixir I have distilled (Pluto), out into a larger community (Jupiter/AC Cap and Venus Return/MC, Mercury).  I look forward to sharing my medicine with you!

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Fire In The Belly: Original Painting by Jan Henderson http://www.janhendersonart.com

Originally published October 14, 2008

September 5, 2007. I am sitting with my partner of two years in our couple’s therapy session. I have been struggling with ending this relationship for months now. I do not feel I have the strength I need to walk away, without the support of our therapist. I need a witness. I need the safety and the container of this sacred space. I need her help.

I tell my partner that I have been trying to gain a stronger sense of my own power, within our relationship. Nonetheless, I keep hitting that proverbial wall. I have been swimming upstream for way too long and I am tired. I have no energy left. My batteries are drained. I know no other way to get back my power, unless I leave. I want to end the struggle. I want to let go, and flow…the waters of life want to carry me in their most natural way…downstream, and I want to go with them. I have to surrender.

On that day, I had forgotten I was eleven days into my sixth Venus Return Cycle. I was aware that I had been in an eleven month Uranus initiation to my natal Moon, and knew that if I tried to hold on, it would get harder. Uranus to my Moon. Time to change. Whatever I had been holding onto in a fixed place inside of me, in my mental construct of “reality,” Uranus was instructing me it was time to let go, surrender and trust. Trust I was being taken where I needed to go. No holding on…to anything, is what it felt like. Freedom from my past habits, patterns, addictions (Moon). Liberation from the prisons of my mind. Time to loosen the attachments and re-wire. Whatever part of me was still in shackles, I needed to unchain myself. I needed to steal some new fire. I needed to awaken…to a new me.

On August, 25, 2007, Venus made her new statement of intent to take me and the world stage, into an intimate look at the goddess as she shows herself in Leo. Radical self-love is her loudest message to me as she expresses herself through that archetype. Radiant light and power. The energy of the Sun itself. No shame about shining. Unabashed brilliance and expression. The fiery flame of creativity. She shines like this, giving me her energy. I cannot live on this earth without her. I need her light to sustain me. I put her on my altar, bow and pray to her, expressing my gratitude. I know I will have 584 days to deepen my relationship with her. To glean her medicine. I will have to let her die first, in the old form of our relationship. She will take me through a descent, to the underworld, and then back out again. I will rise with a new understanding, another level of integration. The journey will be perilous, but it is one I must take.

On a more personal level, the initiation is about my own Venus in Libra, the goddess as she expresses herself in partnership. The current mystery school Libra is exploring is one of conscious, equal partnership. The old days of hierarchy and relationships ruled by class, social and political structures, are attempting to break down. Relationships born out of an authoritative and power rank, wanting to dissolve. Libra is investigating co-creation at its best. The high ideals around equality in relationship.

I want this. I cannot keep giving away my authority, my power, in relationships. I want shared power. As first time Libra, there are minefields. I will often give up parts of myself, my own truth, because I know I have to learn to consider someone else. Where the give and take occurs, where the balance and harmony of the two create a conscious union, I am being given another opportunity to evaluate. The masculine and feminine parts of me, want to integrate on a deeper level. A new experience of wholeness. I am after the Sacred Marriage. I know it must first take place within me. My Beloved is mine and I am His. The physical form of that sacred union surely must follow. I am committed to finding me and finding him.

*******************

For further reading and investigation into the current Venus in Leo cycle, check out these excellent articles written by Shamanic Astrologers Cayelin K. Castell, Carol Ann Ciocco and Kathryn Morgan. Shamanic Astrology Related Articles

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Bugarach, France: Photo by Holly Alexander

Originally published October 28, 2008

The summit shines in its glory before me
seeing the peak, I start to climb
thinking I know what steps to take
unaware of what lies ahead

I begin my ascent
breath by breath
moving toward that longed for bliss
the light of heaven
my goal in sight

But clouds begin to cover and
a storm now blocks my view
even so, onward I proceed
knowing my destination

The path I once thought so clear
brings new surprises
it dawns on me
I’m not so sure

What can I rely on?
who will be my guide?
will I make it?
where is it I was going?

I remember where I wanted to go
but I no longer know how I will get there
I have no choice but to move carefully
knowing the power of this force
knowing I must honor, respect and revere it

My conviction to attainment
will undoubtedly lead me there
what will happen between
Here and There

Is a beautiful, wild Mystery
–Evening musing, January 20, 2006

The New Moon finds itself on Tuesday at 6 degrees of Scorpio, within one degree of the fixed star Khambalia at 7 Scorpio. On Anne Wright’s comprehensive website describing The Constellation of Words, she says, “Khambalia is a coptic (Egyptian) word meaning ‘Crooked-clawed,’ and is thought to be the same device which we call the Swastika, whose ancient symbolism contained the idea of secret knowledge, accessible to us, but only if one knows the way to get to it. The word Shambala has a similar root and meaning; so has the pentagram and the Arabic word for five, Khamsa, all deriving from the same piece of mystique. Khamr, wine, also has a connection, often being a symbol for ‘the secret of life,’ ‘the spirit,’ as well as a means to enter a transcendental (or just inebriated) state of consciousness.”

As I prepare to work ceremonially with the New Moon, I am once again astounded (though by now, I don’t know why!) at the incredible synchronicity of my personal process in alignment with the planets and stars, not only in my natal chart but in the particular New Moon Scorpio/Khambalia activation occurring now. Natal Venus at 29 Libra, sitting near my Neptune in Scorpio, at 7 degrees, right there with Khambalia, making a statement about my ongoing, obsessive dream, a highly idealistic vision and desire for a mystical, blissful union with myself, with another (my partner) and with others (generally). Living in a harmonious, illuminated way, connecting deeply to the mysteries of life. That union of opposites again. The integration of heaven and earth, spirit and matter. I understand more fully now, why it won’t let me go.

By the full moon in Taurus, or shortly thereafter, I will have left Utah and made my way toward California, spending four to five months there before heading to my ultimate destination (for now), The Big Island of Hawaii. My diligent efforts to connect with my spiritual/psychological Shambala, are leading me home to my physical one. It has been nearly two years since I “remembered” the next piece of why I came here and what I wanted to do, even though the details were still blurry and the “how” another mystery. Two years of knowing I was leading myself to something that I had been dreaming about for what feels like my whole life in many ways. I had only the vague remembrance of my heart’s desire, and a determination to follow it. How I would lead myself home to myself (and to Hawaii) has been a fantastic 22 month and still counting journey. I’m still following the signs, gathering information and finding the next clues on this amazing treasure hunt adventure!

For more information on the mystical kingdom of Shambala (or Shambhala), check out Crystal Links.

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Originally published October 30, 2008

The Scorpio mysteries are women’s mysteries and those of death and rebirth. As I continue to bring this new Moon into my awareness along with the fixed star Khambalia, connected with the physical and/or metaphorical idea of Shambala, I am immediately taken back to the most intense experience I had a year ago on my trip to Southern France.

The overall journey was one that has been difficult for me to find words for. The nine women who shared it with me, also felt transformed in ways that felt cellular and hard to express. It was a remembrance – we knew we had been there before, together. As we visited the Languedoc region on the trail of the Magdalene, each of us felt “activated” in certain parts of the land and in various sacred places. My most profound experience occurred for me at Queribus, on the border of Aragon.

Queribus: Photo by Holly Alexander

“Quéribus is high and isolated. It stands on top of the highest peak for miles around and is sometimes regarded as the last Cathar stronghold. After the fall of Montségur in 1244, surviving Cathars gathered together in this mountain-top stronghold on the border of Aragon (the present border between the Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales). In 1255 a French army was dispatched to deal with these remaining Cathars, but they slipped away without a fight, probably to Aragon or Piedmont – both regions where Cathar beliefs were still common, and where the Occitan language was spoken.” –Wikipedia

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Walking up to Queribus: Photo by Holly Alexander

As I begin my ascension to Queribus, I sense that I have walked this path before. Anticipation comes over me and I know I am heading toward a remembrance of something I cannot name. Our group of seven (three are remaining at the bottom of the mountain) are climbing in silence, and the magnificent views of the surrounding valley become familiar and begin to feel like home.

We reach a resting place, and Nancy guides us to form a circle. She is standing directly opposite of me, her body a few feet away from the cliff’s edge. Within seconds of connection and further silence, I am overcome by an immense and palpable sense of grief. I begin to sob uncontrollably, and although I do not understand this, I willingly let my tears and body mourn the undeniable sadness I feel as I look into her eyes. I feel us dieing. I feel us willingly jumping off the cliff. Thelma and Louise driving their car off the edge of the known world, into the void of nothingness, into the space of absolute surrender and freedom, choosing “death” over a life of subjugation to the advancing patriarchy.

Looking down from Queribus: Photo by Holly Alexander

My tears subside and Nancy tells us this is the place where she and Nicole remembered running through the tunnels, carrying the light codes, attempting to make their way back to the castle, as the invading troops advanced. They are trying to preserve the codes, save themselves and their knowledge. The truth of what they know and why they are here. The walls of the tunnels cave in, they are trapped, death follows.

We continue our climb and begin to explore the castle remains. I am now filled with peace and my sense of home is growing stronger. I recognize

Photo by Holly Alexander

in my bones, in my body, that I have been here, many times before. I sense myself as King, as Queen, as partner to King and Queen, and as a member of a community of those who live in complete harmony. I know my Beloved is here and I can rest in this place. No longing, no desire for anything else. The fire of contentment, here, in this place, is mine.

After a time of exploration, we gather and circle again, this time at the highest level of the castle. We are so high, I feel I can easily stretch my arms up and touch the sky. Quiet fills the air once more as we connect

Photo by Holly Alexander

with this sacred place. Moments pass and I now burst into unbounded laughter. “I do not die,” the words of freedom repeat themselves in my being, and I feel the exquisite joy of release. I sense us grounding into the earth, a pillar of light, (forgetting there is literally a pillar directly below us in the chapel) and I feel we have been here before, doing this together, many times. We have performed this sacred work in another space and time. We have come from another place, a distant star, to do the work, the joyful work, of the Beloved.

Holly at Queribus: Photo by Cayelin Castell

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Photo by Holly Alexander

Originally published November 30, 2008

Saturn’s hands of time
sit me down
plainly
breathing me
into the ground

His bony knuckles
rapping on my door
pointing to his watch
speechless
he’s been here before
he knows
I’m not surprised
to see him again

Lately
he summons me from slumber
in the dark, early hours
“Stop wasting time,”
his voice urgent
and matter of fact
“You have work to do.
Get out of bed…now.”

He has me picking up pears
littered among gold-orange leaves
spotted with gray-black decay
filling garbage cans
in the sobering autumn air

The old man
has me going through filing cabinets
stored in the basement
drawers filled with
evidence of past labors
proof of days, weeks, years

That degree earned
adoption contracts and photos
of animals rescued
and taxes
paid faithfully
throwing my old self away

—November, 2008

The time has finally arrived.  I’m leaving Salt Lake and moving toward new life.  I’ve been waiting for this day, for over a year now.  It looks like I had to wait ’til transiting Saturn came around to square my Moon.  I must admit, when I looked at this upcoming transit, around a year ago, I was not looking forward to it.  As I have intimately known Saturn throughout my life (Capricorn Rising with Saturn conjunct, forming a T-square to my Sun and Mars, as well as three personal planets in the 10th house), he has shown his face to me in ways that have been…well…hard.  Restrictive.  Heavy.

As I have gotten older, I’ve gradually learned to create other experiences of him in my life.  The old Saturn in me, the critic, the perfectionist, the one who takes on the burden and feels responsible for all of it, working like hell to redeem myself, continues to leave me.  The goat that was saddled with the sins of the community, and either sacrificed or sent off into the wilderness, carrying those burdens with him.  Continually confronting authority outside of myself, feeling guilty for situations I did not create. Yeh, like I said…heavy.

For whatever reason, this time, Saturn feels different to me.  Maybe because I understand him in a way that I haven’t before.  Over time, the vulnerability of first time Cap AC, has given me an intimate understanding of this serious side of myself.  And, of my ego and the part of me that judges, compares, thinks I have to always do better.  Keeps working incessantly to change things, to “make them right.”

I remember hearing Daniel, my teacher, tell me that Saturn was the most instructive force in us, that teaches us to be free.  That is, if it doesn’t crush you.  Over the years, I have learned to make peace with this part of me, and let it go, little by little.  I can let the Saturn part of me, my strong identity with my ego, show me that through this suffering, through limitation and restriction, I can see exactly what I need to let go of.  I can release the parts of my ego that keep me imprisoned, and I can form a new relationship with Saturn that feels like a partnership of the pieces of Saturn and my ego, that actually serve me.

So, for now, I’m saying my good-byes to cherished friends, packing my life up in boxes, and moving West.  I’m California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day…

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Originally published May 18, 2009

Father Time

I remember feeling like I would literally die if I didn’t leave Salt Lake City before winter hit.  Like a snake, the skin of my emotional habits had become too confining and it was time, once again, for it to shed.  I knew my oncoming Saturn initiation would be a process related to all areas represented by the Moon, and although much of it would address my inner world, I felt an overwhelming urgency to honor the beginning of the cycle externally.  On October 1st I gave my landlord a 30 day notice.  I did not know where I was going, I only knew I could no longer stay in Utah.

Transiting Saturn’s 9 month initiation cycles take us into a death and rebirth process relative to the planet, angle or node it is contacting in our natal horoscope.  At the beginning of the cycle, Father Time taps us on the shoulder, signaling the need for change.  As Saturn is related to our ego identification, its transits are a time of letting go of old attachments, forms and structures that have fulfilled their purpose and are ready to die.  Sometimes it means the literal death or ending of a person/relationship,  job/career,  home and/or lifestyle.  Even if a Saturn transit does not manifest this way, it still means a death of the current structure or form, and the birth of a new one.

Saturn cycles are work cycles and during these times, we feel the impetus to take a sobering or realistic look at the area of our life represented by what transiting Saturn is contacting in our natal chart.  Evaluating what’s working and what is not.  These are “time to change the game” periods, opportunities to reflect on the way we are playing the game of life.  Responsibility is a key word for Saturn, and these cycles offer a period of time for us to re-examine our “response ability.”

At the beginning of the initiation, it can be difficult to be clear about what we want, what the changes looks like, or the specificity of our future goals.  Oftentimes it begins with an awareness of what we no longer want, “no,” “not this,” “not that,” “can’t stand it anymore,”  “it’s time-something has to change.”  Perhaps anxiety increases at the thought of staying or continuing on in the same patterns within a current relationship, job, home, lifestyle for another 7 years when the cycle comes around again.

During Saturn cycles, we have an opportunity to see which doors are ready to close and which ones want to be opened.  Experiences in the outer world feel increasingly restrictive, limiting and binding (all Saturn keywords).  As we begin to redefine (Saturn) what matters to us in these areas of life, accessing our inner authority (Saturn), clarity increases.  We can more easily set the boundaries, limitations and restrictions for ourselves.  The need for giving ultimatums arises.  By focusing (again, Saturn) on the feedback in our external world, what’s being mirrored to us, we can make a choice to continue to struggle and meet with resistance, or let go and try something else, move on, severing the attachment in its current form.  Continuing to clarify and define what we want, and paying attention to the response in our world, shows us the path to be taken.  Where are we flowing?  What is working?  Where are we feeling rewarded for our efforts?  Where are we being amply and easily supported?

Giving my 30 day notice to move, I sent out a signal to the gods, saying I was done.  I waited for the signs to point the way to where I would go.  Within a week, I received a message so obvious and clear, and I knew my path was leading me to Santa Rosa, California.  Tuning into the timing, I delayed my departure for another month.

As I took I-80 heading west, I felt a weight (Saturn) lifting from my shoulders and a giant exhale followed – a cathartic release.  I was finally leaving this Saturn-ruled state again (Capricorn Sun), heading to California, a cycle I’ve repeated numerous times since 1980.  Each time I left Utah, I said I would never move back.  I know better than to say this now, and still…I feel more certain than ever this is my last time.

Santa Rosa would be a temporary place for me and my move here marked a transition and passage state in my life.  An in-between void space.  Deathing Utah, a difficult relationship and my old self.  Birthing a move to Hawaii, a union with my future Beloved and my new self.  Santa Rosa would serve as a safe haven for my death-conception-gestation process preceding my birth.

I knew that wherever I moved, I wanted to feel nurtured and supported.  But Saturn to the Moon can bring about experiences that are the opposite of that.  Loneliness, isolation, depression.  I was not prepared for the intensity of this. During my first 3 months in California, I went deeper into the cave, rarely leaving my house or wanting contact with the outer world.  The inner work to be done was forcing me to confront the ways I was not emotionally loving, nurturing and supporting myself.  Coming face to face with childhood and adult experiences of isolation, feelings of abandonment and no one to count on.  In my early years, the religious foundation I had was where I found my support.  Even though my conditioning was laden with harsh judgment, fear and guilt, God was always there.  I moved frequently as a child and the physical/emotional chaos and instability of my home life was countered by the stability of my experience in the Mormon community.  That foundation crumbled for me when I moved Utah (ironically) at 16 years old, and I experienced a loss so deep and great of everything I thought I knew to be true up to that point.

33 years later, I am still discovering what God is and means to me in a continually expanding quest.  Finding myself.  Coming home.  The process of integration and the movement toward wholeness has been naturally highlighted since my last Saturn initiation cycle 7 years ago, during my mid-life and its particular transits.  The longed for “Other,” deeply ingrained, as my human self has yearned for the marriage of my soul and spirit to it.  I have known myself to be on the verge of an outer marriage with my Beloved, and had enough awareness that the union must happen within me, to truly manifest my heart’s desire.

The Dweller on the Threshold

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

–The Guest House

The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

In Caroline Casey’s book, “Making the Gods Work For You,” she writes, “Saturn says that we will encounter any inner issues we shirk, or qualities we refuse to possess, outside ourselves in a form we might not like so much.  Without our inner authority, outer authority will direct us…challenging external circumstances drive us inward to make an appointment with Saturn to rewrite the script.  ‘How do you want your life story to proceed?’ inquires Saturn the inner author.  If we do not go inward willingly, then Saturn will reach up and yank us down forcefully.  The involuntary yanking downward is very often experienced as depression, but is instead a reminder not to live life by default.”

Saturn has traditionally been called, “the dweller on the threshold,” or “the ring-pass-not.”  Casey says, “these monikers refer to the scary initiatory ordeal each of us must undergo in which we encounter all that holds us back or keeps us fearfully obedient to a life of oppressive limitation.  Usually, the catalyst for this transformation is an experience in which we break a rule, violate a taboo, or otherwise disobey the tribal elders.”

What attachments and habits were running the script of my life, jailing me, usurping my power? The emotional prisoner of my past.  Ways of being I thought I had released reared their hideous head, breathing fiery hot breath in an effort to purify shadow pieces of my unconscious still running the show.  Casey points out that right before a change, we encounter all our obstacles to that change.  She states, “this is known as a ‘sunset effect’: as a pattern goes down, it glows most vividly.  Just before people are ready to change, they often thrash around, saying, ‘I’ve already worked through these issues, so why am I dealing with all of this again?’  The answer is, ‘these issues are coming up again because you’ve almost resolved them.’  When you feel this intensification coming on, remember Saturn’s motto: ‘Things are so hard, I must almost be done.'”

This certainly was the case for me.  Before leaving Utah, I was entangled in destructive relationships with two men.  The first one, lasting two years, continued on in an addictive fashion for over another year past my initial attempted escape.  The second, a condensed and potent caricature of the first.  These powerful relationships precipitated a healing crises for me, and I plunged deeply into the abyss of emotional currents I had consciously forgotten about.

At the same time, I had also become aware of my Witness Self, the Watcher part of me that observes my human self.  Like a loyal, steady friend to hold my hand, or a guide to shine the light on the darkness of my path, the Witness Self was a saving grace as I continued to be cooked in the cauldron of past and current fears, examining ways I was still not fully present to self-love, self-nurturing and self-support.  The ways in which I continued to doubt myself, my truth, allowing others to claim authority, power and control over me.

“Saturn says there is no shame or blame in landing hard, as long as we acknowledge that we have been thrown by the spirited horse of our own teaching,” says Casey. “The initiatory ordeal is by definition, a solitary experience that leads us to self-reflection. Solitude, Saturn’s sacramental activity, is the portal to the magical realm where power larger than us resides. Time spent alone allows us to ‘consider’ our lives, to align the inner gods with the outer gods of the cosmos, to disentangle ourselves from the phantasmagoria of seductive distractions.”

Carl Jung said, “The highest, most decisive experience is to be alone with one’s own self.  You must be alone to find out what supports you, when you find that you can not support yourself.  Only this experience can give you an indestructible foundation.”

Positive Father

Sometime at the beginning of March, I realized I had deathed what laid lurking in my darkest realms.  After repeated rounds of self-judgment (Saturn) followed by subsequent self-compassion, I fell in love with me again.  Over and over, I felt myself as a little girl-scared, lost, alone.  As I continually judged myself for allowing these malefic experiences into my life, I followed the judgment up with, “what if it’s okay?”  Saturn can represent the negative father, admonishing us with criticism, blame, pointing out our imperfections.  But what I wanted to experience of Saturn was the positive father, the one I needed to allow for “mistakes,” and lovingly point me in a better direction.  This was the masculine I wanted to more fully integrate.  Radical self-acceptance was the starting point.  Through sheer determination, focus and dedication to a breakthrough of limiting ego thoughts and emotions, I became the loving father I always wanted.  I broke the chains of fear, and found my “Other” as my wise soul and spirit, merged with my human self.  I found my way home, resurrecting an integration of Divine proportion unknown to me up until now.

Photo by Holly Alexander

Being in nature helped.  There, my soul rested and came alive at the same time.  A beautiful man appeared in my life, my “nature boy,” and my connection with what feels like “my original state,” that inner union, manifested in the outer world, miraculously showing itself to me.

This 9 month initiation feels like a lifetime. Time has slowed down and stretched itself in such a way I hardly recognize it as linear anymore.  Being circular, or feeling like a spiral, the past, present and future feel interchangeable. I am seven months into my pregnancy, and transiting Saturn has just stationed direct.  I have moved through the third stage of transition, the toughest part of my labor and am getting ready to birth the baby, my new Self.

Caroline Casey’s book, “Making the Gods Work For You,” was instrumental in bringing me to a new understanding of astrology and its archetypal language.  Caroline led me to find and study with Daniel Giamario, and the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School.  I am deeply grateful for the work these two have done, and also for Beth Wachenheim, who introduced me to Caroline’s book.

© Holly Alexander at http://www.yourdivineblueprint, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Alexander and http://www.yourdivineblueprint.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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