By Mary Plumb | January 4, 2010
The Full Moon eclipse (the last of 2009’s six eclipses) brought us into the new decade, one of many starry omens for the turning of the calendar year.
I thought about the idea of resolutions this New Year’s, and, aside from the synonyms (e.g., resolve, determination, perseverance, tenacity, strength, fortitude, courage), the dictionary suggests another meaning: “The point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out.”
Now, that sounded like an interesting way to think about our resolve as we turn, like Janus, to see both the past and what is ahead.
We know that the planets are moving towards the astonishing line ups that begin this summer and continue for the next few years. (For example, on one particular day, July 31, 2010: Jupiter and Uranus, conjunct at 1°- 4° Aries, straddle the U.S. Sibly 4th-house cusp. They will be opposite Saturn and Mars at 1°- 2° Libra, conjunct the Sibly Midheaven, and square Pluto at 3° Capricorn. The Moon that day will be at 14° Aries, opposite the Sibly 10th-house Saturn at 14° Libra; the transiting South Node will be conjunct the Sibly Sun; the transiting Sun will be conjunct the U.S. North Node; transiting Neptune, at 27° Aquarius, will be conjunct the U.S. Moon and transiting Venus conjunct the U.S. Neptune at 22° Virgo. Yikes!) (1)
Looking back at where we were last year at this time, many of us, certainly those of us aligned with such notions as hope and vision for a new approach (can we blame Aquarian planets in the birth chart?), were riding rather high after the election of our new president.
Of course, Saturn had just opposed Uranus on Election Day (November 4, 2008) and it seemed that the good guy won and maybe things would be looking up.
After a remorseless buildup, in November 2009, Saturn squared Pluto for the first hard time, and they stay within a little over a degree from an exact square this whole month. Saturn at 5° Libra is going slowly now, in the degree of its station retrograde on the 13th, and heading back to meet Pluto for the second exact square on January 31st.
Saturn and Pluto, the grim reaper and the planet of obsession, are a mighty pair having their way with us. We all know what we’re dealing with now (at least as far as media reports go) and it doesn’t feel quite so hopeful as it did last year. The display of greed, corruption, and insensitivity to basic human needs is too obvious to repeat here. There are many fine commentators, astrological and otherwise, on such phenomena as the big squeeze play between the characters on Wall Street and Main Street. Global financial crisis is one theme in the story, of course, (the distraction of the adorable Balloon Boy notwithstanding), but there are many other such scary tales (i.e., climate change, more troops to Afghanistan, instability in Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, etc.) that have a compelling grasp on our attention.
We all know that the movements of the planets tell the myths and tales of the times, and those of us alive now are part of that unfolding. Perhaps it takes a somewhat religious (or crazed?) turn of mind, but here we are, all together, and privileged to be here for whatever time we each may have.
The planets move within and without. Saturn and Pluto and the rest resonate with their counterparts in the human soul and call forth the toughness to match the daunting nature of the times. On whatever level we place our attention, that is, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, or any other as yet unnamed domains of human experience, we can apply the resilience, courage, and fortitude offered by the great lords of the sky. We have the inner resolve to meet any difficulty or darkness and invite the light of presence, human being-ness, to hold us tightly.
We are accompanied now, of course, by Jupiter, Neptune, and Chiron — still together in Aquarius — so we are all collaborating in this stirring moment in the human story. Jupiter moves into Pisces on January 17th, so this time period encourages practicing compassion, cultivating a mystical turn of mind, and collecting invisible resources. There are all kinds of simple ways to keep ourselves healthy, happy, and whole so we are easily part of the solutions in the days ahead. Neuroscience research suggests that meditation, poetry reading, music, walks in nature, and all manner of other such lovely and simple activities, help keep the brain regulated and improve our ability to process negative emotions. Restoring our own nervous systems and brain chemistry may never have been so important! (2)
Yesterday, as I was making soup and thinking about what to write this week, an artist-great cook friend sent me a Rumi poem, Buoyancy. The beginning lines speak to me of these beautiful, exquisitely dark/light, and always magnificent, times:
Love had taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.
I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn’t.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.
I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence! (3)
I love especially the line: “I used to be respectable and chaste and stable, but who can stand in this strong wind and remember these things?” That addresses so gently the tremendous struggle that we experience at dark moments in the soul. Perhaps we will have infinite kindness towards one another as Saturn and Pluto press some of us to face “the chief dramatic complication” in our lives and do our best to carry on nonetheless.
The Tibetan scholar Dr. Robert Thurman said in an interview in which he was speaking about the Dalai Lama’s teaching: “I think the Dalai Lama’s basic message is: world peace through inner peace. A new way.” He also said in that interview: “People simply say ‘no’ to more coercion and violence.” (4) Now, perhaps that is a good mantra for the workings of Saturn and Pluto within ourselves as well — simply saying “no” to tyranny and fear and the violence in our own minds and emotions. The harsh aspect between the two planets may suggest a ruthless assault on all that is not helping us and the world to move forward.
I’d like to mention the writer and activist, Arundhati Roy, born on November 24, 1961. (5) Astrologers will see signatures for activism in her natal chart, with the Sun conjunct Mars in Sagittarius and square Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. She also has Neptune, Mercury, and Venus conjunct in Scorpio. Described as being “hopelessly in love with the world’s have-nots,” Roy has the perception of a mystic and poet. (6) At a talk at the World Social Forum in Brazil in 2003, she ended her presentation on “confronting empire” like this: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
(1) Thanks to my good friend, Doug Kellogg, for pointing out this particularly striking day.
(2) Read (and listen to) The Neuroscience of Compassion for a start.
(3) Read the entire poem here.
(4) Good Radio Shows
(6) The Witness