Monthly Archives: February 2012

Praise be! Spring is here….

 I am sure that many readers share my need for connection to the Great Round through immersion in the natural world. Today in Glasgow, Scotland, UK it is a Spring day – and the daffodils are out!

Celebrate it with me!

Fabulous Daffs

Fabulous Daffs

http://www.flickr.com/photos/46097950@N02/4482794780/

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 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. 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.

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 ( as “Happiness and the Healing Power of Nature”)  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. )

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Second Saturn Return and beyond: The Cycles of Saturn part 4

To read Parts 1,2 and 3 of “The Cycles of Saturn: forging the “Diamond Soul” click HERE

Second Saturn Return: Ages 58-59

By the second Saturn return, we can see what our lives have become — and we can see what it is too late to change. This is one of the most fundamental differences in perspective between the second and the first return. At age 30 we have probably still to sow the most productive seeds of our lives — what we have already sown is still only germinating. But by the approach of 60, we are reaping the harvest and are confronted with the stark Biblical words, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Saturn is the planet of strict justice. Blind, stubborn, arrogant, or fearful refusal to face certain basic realities in life, as the second cycle unfolds, skews the life path further and further away from who we could become – were we able to acknowledge and accept who we actually are rather than try to be who we are not. This can bring increasing pain, dissatisfaction, emptiness, and depression as the second Saturn return approaches.

Facing the Final Cycle of Saturn: 60 +

Franz Hals: an image of serene later life

Franz Hals: an image of serene later life

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frans_Hals

At one end of the spectrum are those who arrive at this stage feeling that their time on this Earth has not been wasted. They have very few regrets and are prepared to face the final cycle of life with equanimity, perhaps rooted in great spiritual depth. These people usually retain a zest for life and its remaining possibilities.

At the other end are those who have sown meanly, poorly, or fearfully, and are reaping a harvest of regret, bitterness, loneliness, physical ill health, and fear of the waning of physical power and attractiveness in the inevitable decline toward death.

Most of us will arrive somewhere in the middle range: satisfied with some aspects of our achievement and disappointed by our areas of failure — or those things that fate appears to have denied us without our having had much option for negotiation.

I see the main challenges of this stage as follows:

* first, to value what we HAVE been able to do

*second, to come to terms with and accept those failures or disappointments that it is now too late to change

* third, to find, within the limitations and constraints imposed by our state of mind, body, spirit, and bank balance, some further goals that are realistically achievable, which bring a sense of meaning and enjoyment to whatever time we have left.

Recommended book: 

Saturn A New Look at an Old Devil

  Saturn: A New Look At An Old Devil
by Liz Greene
.

  Info/Order book.

( NOTE: The full text of this article was first published in the UK’s ‘Astrological Journal’ (Nov/Dec 1996), and subsequently in ‘www.innerself.com’ and ‘The Mountain Astrologer’ (Feb/Mar 1998)

It was recently included in  The Mountain Astrologer’s “Editor’s Choice” : 43 previously out-of-print articles from TMA in the 1990s, available on CD from the autumn of 2010.“The Mountain Astrologer” is recognised as the world’s leading astrology magazine.)

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500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


The Cycles of Saturn: forging the “Diamond Soul”: part 3

To read Part One and Two of this series click HERE

Everyone has their distortions, their failures, their blindness. The gift of the first Saturn return is that the pressures it inevitably applies, bring a great opportunity for us to look at those very aspects we have hitherto been unable to face.

Saturn turns up the heat and pressure so much that the price of continued avoidance becomes higher than we are prepared to pay. Thus, realizing at a heart and soul level that “…the easiest path….is not the path of personal growth has been the major turning point of many a life.

Saturn

Mythological Saturn

http://www.freewebs.com/saturnmen/planet-saturn.gif

Whether a person is functioning in a healthy way by the first Saturn return is dependent psychologically on how well he or she has negotiated the first three stages of the cycle: 7-8 years , 14-15 years, and 29-30 years.

For example, those who have been unable to effectively separate from their mothers at the waxing square at ages 7-8 may still be locked into a dependent relationship at 29-30, thereby distorting their development as the second cycle begins. Those without long-term partners, unable as yet to mature from the challenges of the first opposition at ages 14-15, may not see that being alone is better than being in an unfulfilling partnership, and are likely to carry some self-destructive relationship patterns into the next cycle.

Finally, those who have failed to negotiate effective entry into the adult working world at the waning square of ages 21-22 are likely to have even more difficulty as their 30s advance, unless they can begin to see what self-defeating patterns are blocking their path.

I find it very satisfying to work with clients who are either in the 27-to-30-year phase, or have been through the return and are taking stock at the beginning of the second cycle. It is here that the gifts of astrology are at their most potent, but only if people are willing to face who they are and be open to exploring some possible avenues of development that a good astrology reading can provide.

Clients who are strongly plugged into the energies symbolized by Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto can take a very long time to bring these connections into consciousness. The usual pattern is to be battered and buffeted by these powerful energies right up until the age of 30 and beyond. It usually takes at least this long for such individuals to begin to comprehend their relationship with those great impersonal forces. Then they can consciously begin to align the personal with the impersonal in a more aware, less fearful, and, therefore, more creative way.

Until age 30, life’s energy is waxing. The first Saturn return could be seen as the Full Moon point of life. Thereafter, the body starts to die, energy to wane, and our ability to recover from self-inflicted punishment and the battering of life begins to diminish. Consequently, the margin for serious errors to be made, from which one can recover and even benefit, grows inexorably narrower. The development of self-awareness becomes ever more important, as well as a realistic appreciation of both one’s gifts and limitations.

Saturn A New Look at an Old Devil
Saturn A New Look at an Old Devil

To order this recommended book click HERE

 To read Part 4:  Second Saturn Return and Beyond

click HERE 

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

The Cycles of Saturn: forging the “Diamond Soul”: part 2

To read Part One of this series click HERE

We all arrive at the first Saturn return at the ages of 29-30.

Whether we know we’re having one or not, the broad determinants are the same. My metaphor for this return is the recollection I have of a school science class, where I was fascinated to observe the growth of a copper sulphate crystal, which, over a period of weeks, emerged from clear blue water into a highly-defined, beautiful, crystalline shape.

Beautiful copper sulphate crystal

Beautiful copper sulphate crystal

http://chemistry.about.com/od/growingcrystals/ig/Crystal-Photo-Gallery/Copper-Sulfate-Crystals.htm

At the first Saturn return, the crystalline shape that must emerge is that of realism. In a developmentally healthy person, the purity of that crystal of realism isn’t overly tainted by bitterness, cynicism, and disillusion, all of which corrode the soul and limit the potential for further growth. As the crystal of realism emerges, it may well carry with it some pain, grief, and depression. This is healthy and normal enough as part of the process of getting through the 27-to-30-year period. We know from observation of the lives of others, and our own, that this period is critical.

To an astrologer’s perception, its critical nature is emphasized by the knowledge that ages 27-30 brings with it four major symbolic patterns that are all about differentiation, individuation, and the facing and purging of illusions that hold us back from realization of our full potential.

These patterns are: the second transit of the North Node to the natal South Node’s position at age 27; the progressed Moon’s return around age 27; transiting Pluto to natal Neptune between 27-29; and, of course, the Saturn return between ages 29-30, which seems to focus the other three patterns.

Letting go: illusions and defences

Letting go of the illusions and defences that buffer us from the poundings of life, but which also limit our becoming what we may most fully be, can be desperately painful. During this period, I was forced to give up my long cherished illusion of being a writer. It gave me a secret sense of superiority over the rest of the world and met my profound need to be special and different.

When put to the test between ages 27-30, it crumbled. I realized that I had writing talent, for which I received some public recognition, but I also discovered that I lacked the single-minded drive that keeps one at it full-time. With out shedding my illusion and moving on, I would never have been able to develop my other gifts and talents, which began to take shape from my Saturn return onward.

The development of an internal locus of evaluation — a sound sense of one’s own worth that isn’t overly dependent on the approval of parents, colleagues, partners, or peers — is another psychological change that should be happening to a reasonably substantial degree by the Saturn return.

Saturn: taking responsibility

This marks the point in life where we are no longer seen as children or even very young adults by the larger world. We are expected to take responsibility for our own actions, and to be effective in the world as workers, partners, parents, and friends, with no excuses or allowances having to be made for our youth and immaturity.

Ideally, we should also have developed a sense of what the boundary is between our parents and ourselves — between their demands of us and ours of them — and how to respond to them in a mature fashion without falling prey to old, child-like patterns of behaviour. If our parents haven’t been mature enough to let go of us, we should be well on our way towards having the maturity to draw our own boundaries.

Rites of Passage: fire, air, earth and water

Although there is a common core to the rites of passage we all face, birth charts show that there are as many different Saturn returns as there are individuals. With Saturn in a fire sign, one’s core challenge is to find faith in life. This, in turn, fuels the struggle to establish an unshakable sense of self-worth and of the special nature of one’s contributions to the world. The Saturn-in-water person’s major task is to come to terms with the inevitability that we are all separate and alone, no matter how much we may love other people or be loved by them.

For Saturn in air, developing mental discipline, establishing intellectual credibility, and contributing worthwhile ideas to collective life are key formative tasks. The Saturn-in-earth person must form a sound relationship with the world of everyday reality, and pay the physical and material dimensions of life their due, in order to feel at peace within.

Each will have a different journey through the first formative Saturn cycle. The sign and house positions of Saturn, as well as whether it is angular or not, the Lunar Nodes, Chiron, and other planetary connections, provide the fine-tuning that shows the relationship between the archetypal forces present in all of life and the many differing ways they may manifest individually.

Saturn A New Look at an Old Devil

Saturn A New Look at an Old Devil

To order this recommended book click HERE

 Part 3: click HERE

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800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page



Aside

“Just as water flows downhill, the tendency in all of nature is to take the easiest path. That direction, however, is not the path of personal growth.” (1)  “…Saturn’s heat and pressure are needed in order that we can develop … Continue reading

“….in this journey of the Spirit….”

This remains one of my favourite quotes. There is so much wisdom in it, especially in these fractious and intolerant times……

“….in this journey of the spirit, I and others still walk that steep uphill road….And all our religious edifices, which serve first as staffs to help us on our way, in the end become crutches which we must discard….And the doctrines which we espouse and which we hold dear are only smooth shining stones which we pick up on the road and place in our baggage. With each new dogma and doctrine, the baggage grows heavier, until we discard these pebbles, one by one, leaving them on the roadside for others to find and carry a little further. And in the end we have need of neither doctrine nor creed, nor to name that which we worship – for it is beyond all image and words….”

(pp 120-121 Women in Search of the Sacred by Anne Bancroft (Penguin Arkana 1996)

Women in search of the Sacred

Women in search of the Sacred

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Search-Sacred-Arkana-Bancroft/dp/0140194940

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150 words copyright Anne Bancroft/Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


I am mulling over setting up a new page on my blog called ‘Diary of an Emerging Elder’…..whilst I mull, check out this post which celebrates feisty Elder-hood!

FamilyHaikus

With a quiet strength
Old women with shovels can
Handle anything

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This post is dedicated to all the old women with shovels I know.  I hope to be one of you someday. 

Did you see the article about the 85-year-old woman from Alaska whose husband was being trampled by a moose? She grabbed a shovel and used it to beat the moose until it took off. It was 30 below; they had been out walking their dogs.

I love this woman.  In fact, I know several old women with shovels who are amazing role models for me.

These are not “old ladies”. Old ladies carry handbags.  You give up your seat on the bus to old ladies because you fear for their hips.  Old women carry shovels, or the metaphorical equivalent. You give up your seat to them  in deference to their fortitude and the paths they have quietly…

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