“The earth and its inhabitants are presently engaged in a powerful time of transformation when the old is giving way to the new. In other words, we are dissolving, not evolving.” – Christine R. Page, 2012 and the Galactic Center

neon saturnIt seems like most everyone I know, including myself, is going through a time of significant growth and change. In other words — a lot of people, including myself, are feeling very uncomfortable right now!

Astrologically, the exact opposition between Saturn and Uranus on September 15 reflects the intense discomfort associated with stretching our minds, emotions and consciousness to the breaking point. An opposition between planets is considered an aspect of maximum tension, where we are challenged to balance and integrate two radically different forces or energies.

Saturn, aka Cronos or Father Time, represents the past, the status quo, authority, responsibility, structure, discipline, fear and control. Uranus the Great Awakener is the planet of revolution, innovation, the future, freedom, chaos and acceleration.

The opposition of these slow-moving planets is a rare event that last occurred in the mid-sixties (need I say more?). We’re now revisiting themes from that time — the need to revolutionize the way we live and the structures of society; rebellion against authority; profound shifts in consciousness; and a feeling of accelerated change and uncertainty about the future.

The current Saturn-Uranus opposition started in the fall of 2008, unfolds over a two-year period, and is exact (felt most intensely) five times: November 4, 2008 (ring any bells?), February 5, 2009, September 15, and in April and July 2010.

As we approach the third exact opposition, we are at the mid-point of the transit, a time to check in with ourselves, and consider where we’ve been and where we want to go. What are the structures and systems that need to change? What are the elements of the past that we want to carry into the future, and what do we need to break free from? How do we: make radical changes responsibly; balance the need for freedom with day-to-day necessities; and know when to take control and when to surrender to forces bigger than ourselves?

Chaos, Creativity and Consciousness

“We have to enter chaos, terrifying though it might seem, if we are to find our own creativity. Courage and awareness of the dangers are essential to our entering into the dance of our own dark reality.” Woodman & Dickson, Dancing in the Flames

uranusUranian energy is chaotic, and in Pisces — the watery, oceanic sign of the unconscious — this energy can feel especially overwhelming and confusing, like a tidal wave that rises up out of nowhere. Uranus also rules breaks of all kinds — break-ups, breakdowns and breakthroughs.

The chaos, breaks, and out-of-the-blue surprises that characterize these Uranian times serve the purpose of waking us up to a deeper level of reality and ideally, liberating us from the self-imposed limitations that prevent us from living our truth.

One response to chaos is to hold on more tightly to what’s familiar. Even if we know something isn’t working, it can feel safer to cling to the old ways. This is a recipe for crisis. Change and expansion are the name of the game right now, and resistance only leads to more suffering. Letting go into the void of the unknown requires a great leap of faith — faith that when we let something die, we are inevitably making space and planting seeds for something new — even if we don’t yet know exactly what that new thing is.

The gift of operating in a state of chaos is that we have to get creative — we have to access parts of ourselves that have been dormant. Uranus in Pisces wants us to wake up to the power of the invisible realm — dreams, imagination, Spirit, energy, intuition…. When we intentionally engage with these unseen and mysterious forces, we open up the possibility of miracles and magic — unforeseen solutions to the challenges we face.

As Saturn opposes Uranus, this connection with the invisible becomes a matter of practical necessity. Saturn in Virgo — the sign of everyday details, duties, routines and rituals — calls for daily practices that ground us in our bodies and bring us fully into present time. The ultimate lesson of Virgo is to “be here now.” From this place of presence, we can maintain sanity and the ability to respond appropriately as the world around us becomes increasingly chaotic.

Virgo is the sign of simplicity and the little things, and, as astrologer Caroline Casey has pointed out, with Saturn in Virgo, small steps can have a big impact. Identifying and taking those steps can help us overcome the shadow Pisces tendency toward victimization and escapism.

Hello, darkness, my old friend…

Help us to be the always hopeful/ Gardeners of the spirit/ Who know that without darkness/ Nothing comes to birth” – May Sarton, from “The Invocation to Kali”

plutoThe intensity factor on all of the above heats up this fall as Pluto, the Dark Lord, gets in on the Saturn-Uranus action. To be specific, as Saturn is about to move into Libra (in October) it is approaching a square (a tense, 90-degree angle) with Pluto in Capricorn. The last time these two planets met was in 2001-2002, the definitive event of the time being 9/11, and the ugly aftermath. Caroline Casey summarized this transit as “change or die.”

By the time of the Fall Equinox on September 22, we will certainly be feeling this Plutonian energy. Pluto rules the process of death and rebirth, requiring transformation at the deepest level. We journey into the crucible of the Underworld in order to burn away all that we have outgrown, what has become stagnant and is now blocking us from our true light and power. As with all planetary influences, cooperating with the energy reduces suffering.

The fact that Pluto was demoted from his planetary status does not diminish the influence. In fact, this demotion speaks quite eloquently to our culture’s fear of the dark. If planets represent different aspects of consciousness, the dismissal of Pluto from the planetary pantheon reflects a cultural refusal to acknowledge and honor death — a natural phase of the cycle of life that is a prerequisite for rebirth.

With artificial light surrounding most of the planet, darkness has literally been banished from our world. I recently found myself in the wilderness on a clear night and was astounded by the sky — the infinity of stars, the Milky Way’s river of light…. Although I’m devoted to studying and contemplating the stars and planets, the visceral reality of their existence disarmed me. I felt expanded, opened, awed, humbled and inspired.

globular starI thought about the profound shift in consciousness humanity has gone through since the onset of artificial light, since we lost the night. Until very recently in the course of human history, our ancestors had an intimate relationship with the night sky. Instead of television, they watched the unfolding drama of the planets moving through the sea of stars. Astrology was not abstract — an arcane discipline represented by symbolic squiggles and translated by a handful of experts — it was literal, unmediated and accessible to all.

Darkness was understood as inevitable and necessary. Every month, the Moon waxed to fullness, lighting up the night, then waned and disappeared, and then, inevitably, returned. Every year, the Sun’s light grew, culminating in the Summer Solstice — the longest day — then the days grew shorter, and darkness increased, culminating in the Winter Solstice — the longest night, and then the cycle started over again.

Of course these cycles continue, but without true darkness, they are abstract concepts rather than felt, embodied experience. Because we don’t actually experience the darkness and have a relationship with it, we fear it.

The upcoming Saturn-Pluto square calls for reestablishing our relationship with the dark
, to acknowledge its gifts and powers. I will, no doubt, further explore the meaning of this transit in future newsletters, but for now, I’ll close with yet another quote from Dancing in the Flames — a book I highly recommend for understanding this theme of darkness:

“If we remain trapped in fear, we will never know the treasures of the dark. Being catapulted into the underworld is a common mythological theme, found in almost all cultures. The descent is undertaken either voluntarily, in search of a deeper goal, or involuntarily, when the abyss unexpectedly opens. The potential in either case comes from the fact that ordinary ego perceptions are shattered; cracks occur in the well-crafted persona. Through these cracks emerges the possibility of something new.” – Marion Woodman & Elinor Dickson