Every one of these days has felt crowded to me, complete unto itself, like a long chapter of a novel whose denouement seems to move farther and farther into the distance somewhere.
The physical and quantifiable evidence of these strange and stressful times — global pandemic, financial chaos, joblessness, borders closed to travelers — is everywhere, as is the immeasurable impact on our health and well-being.
The great difficulties of these last months that have kept us enthralled can be encapsulated by the current bundle of Capricorn planets. (1) Although we are all living through the same skies and the same planetary archetypes, our outer situations vary enormously, as does our access to resources, both within ourselves and in our environment.
But for everyone, losses are piling up — loss of lives, jobs, businesses, health, homes, gatherings, ceremonies — and a dark and foreboding grief is not hard for many of us to sense. We can also move from the weight of the current events, and join the unleashing of the enormous creativity and cultural liberation arising, as we align with the actors and impulses taking a seat at the new collective table that is forming.
Whatever life situations existed for us before the lockdown have not gone away, but rather have increased in magnitude and intensity. This current pressure cooker of conditions is something we are all living with, and what we are experiencing in our interior lives and how we are coping is an inquiry I am immensely curious about.
Like many of you, my circumstances require that I am often alone these days. Sometimes the quiet and solitude is a calm and restful cocoon, a blissful mix of sacred space and retreat. At other (random and suddenly changed) moments, what was snug and safe feels dense and oppressive. The contracting qualities in my mind can become claustrophobic and nearly panic-inducing. In conversations with friends and clients, I hear different versions, but the experience of extreme emotions and mental states are common nowadays.
I know I’m not alone in this; there are countless reports of a world-wide increase in depression and anxiety. In a study I heard about that seems relevant, the subjects were given a test, and when it was completed, they walked down a hallway to get the results. On the way, they passed two tables, one with a plate of cookies, the other with a healthy snack. If they had been given a very difficult test, the person would take a cookie (or two), while those who had taken the easier test chose the healthy snack. The interpretation was that taking the hard test depleted their resources to the point that a quick fix was needed, but after an easier test, subjects felt good and were able to make a better choice for themselves.
Now for the pivot to an antidote: A toast to the resources of the sign of Leo, where the Sun reigns until August 22. At its most positive and regal, Leo symbolizes our sovereignty, our true nature, our heart essence, and the still point within — wherever/however we have a taste of eternity, of being off the grid, and out of the matrix of our thoughts and concepts.
We all have unique ways of opening to and experiencing this timeless nourishment of the soul — something to be heralded and remembered often these days. With practice, as the yogis have shown, this beneficial state can be accessed with a few deep, slow breaths, and an emphasis on the exhale.
Joy is carried in this magical between-the-worlds state, familiar to many, including artists, musicians, and practitioners of esoteric and devotional arts. If we draw on the interplay between mysticism and science, some physicists believe that 93% to 95% of the matter that makes up the universe is “dark matter” or “dark energy,” essentially what can’t be seen or understood. (2) This is the realm of the truly creative, unseen forces that guide our world.
This state of deep relaxation, or access to what can be called our true nature, has a direct parallel in the physical body. There is the sympathetic nervous system that provokes anxiety and is triggered during stress or perceived danger, while the parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to calm.
There are clearly many difficulties in everyday life now. The Covid-19 virus and our digitally-enhanced lives can generate fear and anxiety, which is unpleasant but also hard on the immune system. Our collective moment requires a lot from us: Befriending Saturn by noticing our edges of fear and changing the tone, or coming back into balance, can be very helpful in cultivating patience and in taking the long view necessary for the road we seem to be on.
I hope these simple thoughts are helpful. How is everybody doing? Please share your stories/comments below.
(1) For those interested in a recap, Saturn and Pluto began a new 35.6–year synodic cycle on January 12, 2020 at 22°46’ Capricorn. We’re midway through the series of three Jupiter–Pluto conjunctions in their 12.46–year synodic cycle. The first conjunction was on April 4, 2020 at 24°53’ Capricorn, then on June 29 at 24°06’, and, lastly, the one on November 12 at 22°51’ Capricorn.
Saturn–Jupiter are still in the Balsamic phase of their 19.8–year synodic cycle, as we trudge through these ending days of their 200 years in the earth element. They have been conjoining in earth signs since 1802 — the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — and the year 2000 was the last conjunction in earth signs. The next conjunction, December 20, 2020 at 0°29’ Aquarius, begins a 200-year period of conjunctions in air signs.
(2) Physicist David Bohm, who had extensive dialogues with Krishnamurti, the Dalai Lama and other spiritual masters, developed a complex theory about the nature of reality and existence. His ideas, including the implicate and explicate orders, are discussed by William Keepin, Ph.D. in TMA article Astrology and the New Physics: Integrating Sacred and Secular Sciences. Dr. Keepin’s article was originally published in TMA, Aug/Sep 1995, and reprinted in TMA Oct/Nov 2009.
Thanks to TMA Publisher Kate Sholly for recommending this recent interview by Krista Tippet with Pauline Boss, author of the 2000 book, Ambiguous Loss.