As followers of this site will know, I went through a profoundly testing – though ultimately enriching – descent into the Underworld and slow return during the period 2001-8. During this time of retreat I had to give up a busy and successful freelance career, and simply rest, grateful to be nurtured by my loved ones, until my life force returned. Reading and writing were major sustaining gifts – as was a deepening spirituality. I had the time to draft a memoir of my emerging spiritual life up until the age of thirty; not as a continuous narrative, but as a series of key episodes.
It is my intention from time to time to publish some extracts from the memoir, provisionally titled “Swimmer in a secret sea” on this site.
In the meantime, here are some of my musings from the Introduction to that memoir, as I reflect on the great significance of those first thirty formative years in all our lives.
(Although this post is intended for the general reader, those of you who are astrologers will recognise this archetypal thirty-year point as the first Saturn Return.)
If you are approaching turning thirty and finding it hard going, take heart! I have come across many people amongst my counselling clients, students and astrology clients for whom the period of 28-30 was very, very tough. They were certainly hard years for me. But most of us can look back and say “well, that was when I really began to grow up – life is much better now!”
‘ We truly are unique, each one of us. Only one person can live out your or my particular story. But there are certain archetypal experiences which most of us go through in the vital thirty years where we lay the building blocks for our future development as useful adults.
Inspiring people – if we are lucky, members of our own family as well as those met along the road – appear. Experiences which wake us up to new realities come our way. There are challenges or tests which we cope with as best we can. There are questions which are seemingly unanswerable, but will not go away. The longing to feel part of something greater than ourselves tugs at many of us. Deaths of loved ones in early life mark us deeply.
Intense love affairs can turn out well or badly. Friendships are forged which can deeply sustain and comfort us, in which we can show the best as well as the worst facets of who we are. Relationships with parents are revealed in varying contexts, leading us to a more realistic perspective on both sides.
We begin to realise that our most valuable educational experiences probably take place outwith academic institutions. We develop ambitions and set about trying to fulfil them. We deal with the raw joy of being alive, as well as the depths of its pain. We encounter the love that nurtures us, and the wounds that may make us wise in time.
From this long, testing and often painful process of submerging our dreams, questions and ideals in the acid bath of life as it actually is, hopefully we emerge with a good enough balance of optimism, resilience and mature realism to enable us slowly to begin to separate out from what we are never going to become. In this way, we begin to grow more fully into who it is we actually are, having taken a step further towards what the Buddhists call ‘forging the diamond soul‘ …”
USA’s bi-monthly The Mountain Astrologer magazine is recognised as being one of the world’s best quality astrology publications. They will shortly be producing and selling a CD featuring the Editor’s Choice of the best articles which The Mountain Astrologer published during the 1990s. I am pleased to say that the article I wrote in 1998, which features an astrological perspective on life’s thirty-year cycles: “The Cycles of Saturn: forging the Diamond Soul”, will be appearing in that collection. Those of you readers who are astrologers or astrology students, keep checking the site for details! As far as I know, the CD should be available from March 2010.
UPDATE: the CD came out on 13 October 2010. For details, click on link below!
……and the memoir, “Swimming in a secret sea” is now published. Click HERE to read it.
700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
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