The Cardinal Grand Cross: some thoughts on astrology as a healing and a wounding art….

Commentaries are piling up throughout the astro-blogosphere. Angst-ridden people with greater or lesser degrees of astrological knowledge are winding  themselves up. What will the impact on our lives be, as the dramatic  Grand Cross pattern builds up in the heavens to its point of exactitude on 23rd/24th April 2014 ? To see what’s building up collectively, just read the papers. Political turmoil across the world, disasters on air and sea – these are just for starters….

Cardinal Grand Cross 2014

Cardinal Grand Cross 2014

Rather than add to the current air of nail-biting tension– addressed in his usual humorously ascerbic way by astrologer Matthew Currie, I thought I’d take off in a somewhat different direction by contemplating both the healing and the wounding aspects of the practice of astrology.

We don’t hear much about the latter dimension! But large scale panics over eg the End of Millennium Eclipse of 11 August 1999, and the Winter Solstice of 2012 (folks – we’re still here….) vividly demonstrate that  contemplating the symbolic patterns of the heavens frightens as well as enlightens us, even in this supposedly secular age.

Wounding, healing and the art of astrology

(It is important at this point to emphasise to readers who are familiar only with Sun Signs that to get ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place AND time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun or Star Sign alone.)

Astrology itself neither heals nor wounds. Having  arisen aeons ago from attempts to create a meaningful context to human life through observation of the physical movements of the planets in the heavens, whether such a framework is experienced as wounding or healing is heavily predicated upon the attitude of the individuals who choose to use it:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is  not  in our stars,
But in ourselves, that  we are underlings.”

(W.Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

It is easy enough to talk about the positive healing benefits of an astrological framework, providing as it does a major defence against meaninglessness and insignificance. Feeling connected at a personal level to loved ones and friends is recognised as a major factor in promoting and maintaining physical, emotional and mental health and happiness.

Feeling connected at a more cosmic level lets us see that  we are not random accidents in time and space, but threads in the weave of a greater pattern – very small threads perhaps, but contributors nevertheless. This awareness promotes a sense of spiritual well being.

There is also the sheer fun, excitement and intellectual discovery which the study of astrology brings.

Every bright light, however, has a dark shadow; in the promethean nature of our art  lies its shadow too. It is all very well to steal the gods’ fire, as Prometheus did, with the noble intention of  liberating humanity from some of its bonds with the powerful enlightenment which that fire brings.

But fire burns. It is impossible to light up the darkness of our human limitations of perception, without the hand that holds the illuminating fire being burned by it. It’s not so easy to talk about that. But it does less than justice, in exploring the impact of the astrological model on human consciousness, to concentrate on the healing aspects of the interaction,  whilst glossing over the wounding dimensions. Exposure to the model brings both.

I  always attempted to restore a sense of perspective on this issue by pointing out to my astrology  students that for the whole of human history most of humanity has managed to stagger through life without the benefit of astrological knowledge.

On one occasion, I asked a small group of my  tutorial students, who had studied and practised for long enough to experience both the light and the shadow facets of our great art, to write something about its healing and wounding dimensions. I was delighted by the honesty and perceptiveness of their feedback. Here is what Charlotte, 35 at the time of my asking, had to say.

Charlotte

Charlotte

(not her real name – data withheld for confidentiality)

 I’ve never really been asked to consider the wounding aspects of astrology in such a direct way before. I did have a bit of a job focusing on the question without the more positive aspects coming up all the time! I think the serious study of astrology knocked me out of the idyllic vision I had had of my family background. I had to accept that my parents weren’t perfect, and the overall effect of this was enlightening but also disappointing. It kind of knocked me into the real world and showed me things as they were which I found quite hard to come to terms with.

Seeing things in black and white on the astrological chart  led to a lot of resentment on my part, raising a lot of difficult questions which I’m still working hard to understand. I think this can sometimes sidetrack me and stop me getting on with things, and lead to some disasters which might not have occurred otherwise – although I would say I do have a natural tendency to analyse things anyway. Astrology just provides more scope for this.

There is also the question “ why me? Why did I have to have this chart?” which may be quite childish, but did lead at one time to some resentment at the apparent unfairness of it all. Especially when you are grappling with hard Pluto and Saturn aspects. You know you have your work cut out for you, and that life is not going to be easy. The prospect of living your life with these aspects can be quite daunting and depressing, and lead to a lot of despondency at times.

Another factor that’s hard to take on board is that you are responsible for yourself. You can’t go around blaming other people for your misfortunes all the time. You have to take responsibility for your part in the drama. It’s your stuff, and you’re the only one who can deal with it. This can lead to a lot of self criticism on my part, and a good deal of depression if things aren’t working out.

Looking at  it from a promethean point of view, Prometheus stole fire from the gods. He knew he would suffer for it, but he also, I think, knew on some intuitive level that he was doing the right thing. And in the end he was released from his suffering. Personally, I couldn’t not know. Otherwise I wouldn’t have pursued the subject as long as I have. I just hope it works out for me in the end too”.

This is one person’s vivid perspective on the implications of knowing her natal horoscope. I’d be interested to have comments on this issue from my readers, either by email, or via comments left on this post. And of course  – how was that  Cardinal Grand Cross for you? 

1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker/”Charlotte” 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Ain’t that the truth! : Max Planck on scientific truths

“A new scientific truth does not triumph

by convincing its opponents and making

them see the light, but rather because its

opponents eventually die.

Max Planck

(April 23, 1858 – October 4, 1947)

Nobel Prize-winning German physicist

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My only resolution for 2014, apart from completing publication of four ebooks by August,  is to embark on some re-reads of a few of the books which have made the most powerful impression on me in the last few years. One of these is undoubtedly Peter Russell’s “From Science to God”, from which (p17) the above quote is taken. The book is“…the story of Peter Russell’s lifelong exploration into the nature of consciousness – how he went from being a convinced atheist, studying mathematics and physics, to realising a profound personal synthesis of the mystical and scientific.”

Peter Russell

Peter Russell

I have had a lifelong interest in science. But my capacity to understand its paradigms is seriously handicapped by having done Classics instead of science at school – not that reading Homer in the original Greek wasn’t great fun! Thus people like Russell, who can clarify and inspire without being patronising to the scientifically uneducated like me, are a great gift to the world! If you want to find out more about Peter Russell, his website is : www.peterrussell.com

200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Peter Russell 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Glasgow – towards a Green city: Greener Together Awards 2014

Anne Whitaker:

In my previous post on this blog, I wrote:
“Even in the city, in the increasingly hurried pattern of 21st century life, it is possible to maintain a connection to the cycles of the seasons and the rhythms of nature. It’s increasingly recognised that regular contact of this kind is an important component in establishing and maintaining the kind of inner balance and peace that promotes happiness….”

Children's Wood Protest 1

Children’s Wood Protest 1

This has been amply demonstrated in our local community in Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland UK in the last year or so. What a wonderful example The Children’s Wood /North Kelvin Meadow campaign has offered of what can be done to get parents and children out enjoying the Great Outdoors. They truly deserve this award.

Readers – you can do your bit, too, wherever you live across the world. Share this post on your networks, folks! Inspire a community (or several) to get outdoors !!

Originally posted on The Children's Wood:

We are delighted to be one of the winners of the Greener Together Awards 2014.  The Children’s Wood volunteers have been working to help our community to live a greener and more sustainable life.  We’ve been encouraging families and the community to get outdoors onto North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood (in Maryhill/North Kelvin area of Glasgow) all year round!

North Kelvin Meadow and The Children’s Wood is a piece of land (roughly 3 acres) in one of the most unequal areas of the UK. The land was previously playing fields and tennis courts and is now a meadow and wood, with over 480 trees. It is a wild space – children can play freely and different groups coexist. Nothing else like it exists in our area.

Image

The project

We have no paid members of staff. The project was initiated by a group of parents wanting to save North…

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‘The Daffodil Run’: my Spring Ritual

I  have a ritual which I’ve repeated for a long time now. From late February each year, I go into the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow  via the Kirklee gate entrance, stroll up the path, and have a close look at the earth border to the left. Green shoots are just appearing. I check them every week, as the stems grow taller and sturdier, and the buds fatter. There is a magic moment  in mid to late March when, at last, I see the first daffodil of Spring.

Quite often, I punch the air and go “Yes!!” That moment provides a rush of pleasure which remains with me the whole day.  I call my ritual The Daffodil Run. You think I’m daft? I know it’s an important part of  what keeps me sane.

There are very few clear evening skies in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. If you’re rushing up Byres Road on the way home on one of those rare nights, especially when you cross the Queen Margaret Drive bridge, look out for a small woman standing still, gazing at the sky. That’ll be me, admiring the wonderful, fragile beauty of a new crescent  moon.

 Even in the city, in the increasingly hurried pattern of 21st century life, it is possible to maintain a connection to the cycles of the seasons and the rhythms of nature. It’s increasingly recognised that regular contact of this kind is an important component in establishing and maintaining the kind of inner balance and peace that promotes happiness.

One of the many advantages of living in a small country like Scotland is that access to the great outdoors is not difficult – half an hour out of Glasgow, for example, it is possible to disappear into lovely countryside and forget the existence of the city very quickly. Try it !

It doesn’t matter how stressed you are, how much angst you are carrying. A couple of hours of  tramping across the hills, often in rain and wind, focusing on nothing more complex than  where you put every footstep in order to avoid disappearing up to your waist in a bog, is guaranteed to purge out at least some of it.

Over many years of  walking, I have offered the hills both my joys and my sorrows, and  have found validation for the former and solace for the latter. In homeopathic medicine, broadly speaking, you treat an ailment with a very dilute form of the toxin which caused it. I have found the homeopathic principle works very well with bleakness of the soul or spirit. That condition can be effectively treated by choosing weather and landscape to match your mood, and immersing yourself in it for a few hours. Meeting bleakness with bleakness has a powerfully cleansing effect.

Complementary to this is the powerfully life-affirming effect that natural beauty can have.

"I am the Soul of Nature...."

“I am the Soul of Nature….”

Standing on top of a favourite hill on a sunlit day, looking at stunning panoramic views, listening to the joyous song of a skylark, feeling at one with the wind and the landscape, has on numerous occasions made me feel so glad to be alive that I have wept for joy.

These experiences may fade in the face of the rigours of an average life. But if you repeat them often enough, you develop a sense of being part of the great round of nature, where joy and sorrow, youth, maturity, decline, death and rebirth all have their part. You also learn, slowly, the importance to being a happy person of being able to ” grasp the joy as it flies”, celebrate the moment, “seize the day.”

( First published in “Self & Society”(The Journal of Humanistic Psychology) (UK)Vol 27 No 5, November 1999, then http://www.innerself.com : Innerself Magazine (USA), and most recently – March 09 -  in ‘ The Drumlin’, the Newsletter of Glasgow Botanic Gardens. )

Comments on this article are welcome

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

A ‘wisdom book’: “Keywords to Unlock Chiron” by Joyce Mason

“Keywords to Unlock Chiron” 

Keywords to Unlock Chiron by Joyce Mason

50 Passageways to Healing and Wholeness

by Joyce Mason

Weaver – Mentor – Centaur – Stuck – Stringed Instruments – Healing Humor – Shame – Left and Right Brain – Abandonment – Evolution: just a few of the keywords Joyce Mason uses to unlock the doorway to deep, deep wisdom contained within the archetype of the mythical being known as Chiron: half man, half horse – best known in Western popular culture as the Wounded Healer.

Joyce is a healer herself with many strings to her lyre: prolific writer, seasoned astrologer, flower essences practitioner, dreamworker, to name but a few. Here in her own words is the essence of her book:

“ Seldom in life do we get such a personalised prescription of what’s wrong and how to fix it. These 50 keyword essays will help you identify where you’re stuck and suggest how you can get from pain to breakthrough and healing–and ultimately to being yourself in your full glory. Your personal message lies in which keywords ‘hit home’ for you.”

As the reader will discover from Other Astrology Books by Joyce Mason on pp 279-281, Joyce has written extensively on Chiron in the past, both in published books and on her blog The Radical Virgo. This book, however, is somewhat different in that Joyce’s focus is on the Chiron archetype itself and an exploration of 50 branches arising therefrom.

Chiron symbolises the deep wound present to a greater or lesser degree in all of us, fallible imperfect creatures, uneasy blends of body and spirit; endlessly curious, forever seeking answers to why we are here and what we are supposed to do with our brief time on Earth. Chiron also symbolises the depth and wisdom we can gain by addressing and seeking to heal that wound, both in ourselves and others.

Ultimately, facing and accepting our vulnerability, together with realisation of our inter-connectedness with the whole of life, and the healing power of love: these are our salves and our saviours.

Joyce’s Keywords to Unlock Chiron is surely a ‘wisdom book’. It is a wonderful distillation of her knowledge, personal and professional experience drawn from a deep and wide range of sources: science, myth, symbol systems including astrology and Tarot, astronomy, and culture both contemporary and ancient.

She writes so well, with wit, reverence, irreverence and above all compassion both for her own frailty and ours. Open sharing of core aspects of her personal story demonstrates that she is not trying to tell us how we should live from her somewhat higher plane of existence. She makes it clear that, in the struggle to come to terms with the wounding which hopefully in the end makes us a bit wiser and more skilled in the fraught business of living, we are all in it together.

There are many examples which I could quote of deeply helpful wisdom offered in this book. In Chapter 24, Disowned, there is a very challenging question posed: ‘What would you rather die than do?’ Joyce’s answer to this is ‘I’d rather die than move (house)’  which leads into a discussion of how we all to a greater or lesser extent, disown parts of ourselves, to our detriment.

Joyce then offers seven “Tips for Not Disowning Yourself” including ‘Listen objectively to things others point out that you’re missing or denying, especially if you hear the same thing from several different people.’ I commend this section to any individual honest enough to be working towards personal growth and change, as well as any therapy practitioner looking for some inspiration to bring to their client work.

In Appendix 3, p273, Joyce provides information for people with little or no knowledge of astrology who wish to obtain a copy of their own horoscope and find out where Chiron is placed in their case.

The whole book is also filled with useful web and other references to a wonderful range of resources – arising from the core Chironic keyword of Wholeness.

The book is of value also to students and practitioners of astrology. From that perspective, this reviewer certainly felt as though she had been comprehensively re- acquainted with the depth and practical value of understanding Chiron’s natal position as well as Chiron transits.

But it is important to stress that Keywords to Unlock Chiron should not be seen primarily as a book for astrologers or those interested specifically in astrology.

As I said earlier, it is a ‘wisdom book’, a great resource for anyone of a reflective nature, who may be practising as a healer of others, to have in their library to turn to for inspiration, information or support in difficult times. Be guided by how you are feeling in seeking help from the book’s wisdom. As Joyce says herself: Your personal message lies in which keywords ‘hit home’ for you.”

Joyce, thank you for this wonderful compendium. It truly deserves to be widely read.

Keywords to Unlock Chiron by Joyce Mason

Keywords to Unlock Chiron by Joyce Mason

As per her original book release announcement, Joyce is offering this book in PDF in order to make the material available, at least in some form, sooner rather than later. The announcement describes her book in detail, including contents, other brief reviews and the advantages/disadvantages of the PDF format, including the ways to access it on various reader devices. Due to extensive other commitments, I understand that she may be unable to print it to paperback and eReader (Kindle, Nook, etc.) until 2015.

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900 words copyright Anne Whitaker /2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

A thing of beauty….

I’ve just come across this absolutely beautiful picture of a Moonstone which I thought my readers might enjoy as we come up to the Full Moon this Sunday.

Wonderful Moonstone

Wonderful Moonstone

https://www.facebook.com/healingandcrystaltherapy

Access to a wonderful range of Getty images: free!

Just in case you missed an important announcement this week: Getty Images  vast library of award-winning professional photographs and illustrations is now at the disposal of every WordPress.com blogger. Read how to access this treasure trove HERE.

I tried it out, and accessed this wonderful piece of astrological and astronomical history. Looking forward to a great browse! (and no, WordPress haven’t paid/bribed me to do this bit of PR. I just think you should know about it….)

Prague Town Hall Clock