Monthly Archives: October 2012

Hallowe’en Chiller: Overtaking a phantom

Ghosts seem harder to please than we are; it is as though they haunted for haunting’s sake – much as we relive, brood, and smoulder over our pasts….on the whole, it would seem they adapt themselves well, perhaps better than we do, to changing world conditions – they enlarge their domain, shift their hold on our nerves, and, dispossessed of one habitat, set up house in another. The universal battiness of our century looks like providing them with a propitious climate….”

Elizabeth Bowen

Definition of a ghost : “the soul of a dead person which supposedly manifests itself to the living visibly (as a shadowy apparition), audibly etc.”

(p 356, The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1996)

An imaginative child, I found going upstairs to bed scary most nights, having probably heard too many ghost stories as I grew up in the storm-tossed Outer Hebrides – home to many a Celtic tale of the otherworld of the supernatural.

There was the woman wrapped in plaid who jostled my maternal grandfather in the winter dark as he traversed the remote, eerie Uig Glen. There was my maternal great-grandmother’s hearing the wheels of lorries rumbling through her remote village toward a deserted headland – many years before they actually came, bearing the materials to build an RAF station there.

There were the shades of the dead appearing to those few in possession of the Sight – sure harbingers of imminent family death. There were ghostly lights luring sailors to their deaths in stormy seas. There was at least one ghost car. More has been forgotten than I could ever now recall.

Fortunately for me, vivid imagination has always sat in tandem with a strongly empirical streak. So I was a true sceptic –inclined to disbelieve in the absence of proof – until the day I  saw a ghost for myself….

Perthshire, Scotland, Autumn 1977

My twenties had been turbulent. Restless wandering – from one career to another, one city to another, one set of friendships to another, and one dwelling place to another – characterised the whole decade.

Now, I was in a mood to settle. Time to face my dissatisfactions, rather than running away when novelty wore off and disillusion set in. Resolution thus colouring my mood, I left Dundee in September 1977 to do my social work training at Glasgow University. Having been such a hippie in my twenties, all I owned could be fitted into several boxes and stowed in the back of my old blue Morris Traveller.

Laughing to myself, I recalled the occasion when, in my role as unqualified social worker, I had called by my flat in a poor area of Dundee to collect something I had forgotten. Accompanying me was the hard bitten female client I was accompanying on a visit to Dundee’s Family Planning Centre.“For f—s sake!” she remarked, quickly scanning my accommodation whilst I hunted for the forgotten item. “Your standard of living’s even worse than mine!”

Thus in transition, I set off to spend a night or two, en route to my new abode in Glasgow, with my boyfriend at the time who lived in the scenic market town of Perth, half way between Dundee and Glasgow. The Dundee to Perth road was mostly dual carriageway, and a distance of about twenty five miles. I drove happily through the area known as the Carse of Gowrie, which grew the best raspberries in Britain. “Pity I’m in a hurry”, I thought. “A few raspberries for supper would be nice.”

It was a clear evening, around seven pm, growing dusk. There was very little traffic on the road. A few miles outside Perth, my headlights picked out a male cyclist on a racing bike, a little way ahead of me. I pulled into the overtaking lane to pass him – and he vanished.

I arrived at Peter’s flat somewhat shaken by this experience. “I can’t believe I imagined it. What I saw was definitely a cyclist. He was as substantial on that road as you are, standing right now in your kitchen !” Peter was quiet for a few moments. He looked thoughtful, as if trying to decide whether to say something or not.

At last he told me that a young male cyclist had been killed on that stretch of road a year or so previously.

This was something of which I had no knowledge. Why should his ghost appear to me? “Firstly, because you’re so sensitive anyway. Cast your mind back to some other odd happenings which have occurred  since we’ve been together. Secondly, your life is in transition. I think at those times, normal consciousness is more porous, as it were. Impressions from other layers of ‘reality’ find it easier to seep through….”

I remember feeling quite relieved that I wouldn’t be travelling on that stretch of road for the foreseeable future….

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

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Book review: ancient discipline, post-modern context

The essence of this important new book is summed up in its subtitle: ‘understanding the ancient discipline in the contemporary world’.

'Integral Astrology' by Armand Diaz, PhD

‘Integral Astrology’ by Armand Diaz, PhD

I found it a highly stimulating read which has come my way at an ideal time. Having just returned to the practice of astrology this year after a very long sabbatical, I have found “Integral Astrology” very helpful in ordering my own thinking about what my relationship now is with our ancient art in this turbulent, challenging time.

We stand not only at the start of a new Millennium, but at a liminal point. The dominant paradigm of rational materialism which has determined our world view since the Age of Reason in the 17th/18th Centuries with such success,  is creaking and groaning.

Post-modern perspectives on the age-old understanding of As above, so below are slowly making their way towards the forefront of contemporary consciousness and culture – bringing new insights from physics, humanistic and transpersonal psychologies, chaos theory etc. They all challenge the materialist view that physical reality ie matter, is the real reality….The strength of Armand Diaz’ book lies in the clear way he weaves together the insights which astrology can and does offer to both individual and collective life, with just those post-modern insights.

In this way, he argues, an Integral Astrology can emerge and take its place within integral theory, which he defines as “….a way of harmonising or synthesising apparently disparate streams of thought and experience: this runs counter to our tendency towards increased specialisation that has dominated the past few hundred years….”

Armand Diaz, with good reason, is worried that astrology, despite its own flowering and moving closer to mainstream culture since its revival from the 1960s onwards,  is going to be left out of this shift: running a parallel course with the New Paradigm disciplines, but at a considerable distance from them. His fear is that if we do not re-examine and re-frame our own discipline in the light of contemporary perspectives, not only will astrology be left on the outside of the larger New Paradigm world view, but astrologers will too.

Diaz’ core point, which he emphasises in different ways throughout, is that the level of consciousness at which an individual is operating critically determines the way in which astrological symbolism plays out.

Emerging from this core are two key themes: one relating to astrology, the other to consciousness models. He points out that the development of human consciousness over millennia has produced different perspectives on the interrelationship between earthly and planetary energies and how these are interpreted:

“….no astrology can exist without being embedded in our constructed meanings, and the best way to understand those meanings is to look at the developmental level, culture, and inner/outer perspective they represent….(p135)….just as humans evolve and just as consciousness in the Universe evolves so astrology also evolves….(p 137)

Had I been an astrologer in Chaldean times, for example, I would not have been able to ponder today’s transiting Mars square my natal Mercury (7.9.12). Astrology then was about the king and the kingdom; no individual horoscopes existed. A century ago, sibling conflict might have been predicted. In today’s post-modern consciousness, I am choosing to channel intellectual energy into hand-writing this book review….in between brisk “thinking” walks!

Diaz also briefly and clearly surveys the different astrologies there are which co-exist in our contemporary world – where it is perfectly possible to practice mediaeval astrology, post-modern psychological astrology, AND archetypal cosmology which sets our ancient art clearly in a New Paradigm context, and call them all “astrology.” As Diaz makes it clear, there is no one astrology.

But before this, he offers “….a sampling of ways to think about the evolution of consciousness….” (p 141) 

Put very briefly, the models he lays out, centering on Spiral Dynamics, provide a way of thinking about the evolution of human consciousness which links individual, group and collective processes.

His key point is that these models provide a ‘vertical framework’ for describing the upward movement of consciousness from Matter > Life > Mind > Soul > Spirit: the core process behind the Perennial Philosophy which underlies all the differing consciousness models eg Koshas, Chakras, Yoga, Kabbalah right through to post-modern Spiral Dynamics.

However, astrological symbols operate along the ‘horizontal’ plane, ie that of

“ universal conditions that can and do occur at any and all evolutionary levels….” (p14)

 He points out that astrology can indicate the timings and types  of stresses and challenges encountered by individuals. But it cannot say whether those challenges will lead to evolution of consciousness up the ‘vertical’ scale.

To assess this needs the dynamic of astrologer, horoscope and client, usually over several encounters rather than one. In his final chapter “ Consulting”, Diaz presents a model of astrological practice which, with examples from actual client work, lets one see how the weave of  contemporary perspectives from both the sciences and the humanities which he has laid out in this book, all come together in the consulting room. It is challenging, impressive –  and helpful in a down-to-earth way.

I would recommend this book to astrologers at all levels of learning their craft. It introduces newcomers to a model which places astrology in the context of New Paradigm perspectives, which they can take forward with confidence as part of the world-changing shift re-claiming that ancient insight ‘As above, so below’ for a level of collective consciousness appropriate for the vastly more complex Universe we now know we inhabit. And it gives a good shake-down to the practice of more seasoned astrologers such as myself – who may be in danger of becoming set in our ways…..

 “Integral Astrology” by Armand Diaz, Ph.D, published 2012 by Integral Transformation, LLC. pp 192.

Cost: $19.95 USA/ £12.87 UK

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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Poetic homage to Autumn: authors known and unknown….

Today is another glorious autumn day in my adopted home city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Our default position here is wet, often cold, resolutely cheerful in an ironic, defiant kind of way. Today is different. There is a reflective, drifty mood around. There is hazy warmth in the sun. Park benches in the leaf-strewn park are full of outdoor lunchers – our last chance till the Spring?

And I am feeling melancholic, but in a good way….reflective….poetic. Here are two autumnal poems I hope you will enjoy. The first needs no introduction. The second, whose author I do not know and with whom google was no help, I found pinned to a board inside the David Elder Chapel, an exquisite, still jewel of a hidden place within Glasgow’s Western Infirmary.

Enjoy the poems – and this season!

KNOWN….

One fallen leaf....

One fallen leaf….

http://users.commspeed.net/~fireskye/images/a…

‘Autumn’   by ~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

O Lord, it is time

The summer was so vast

Put your shadows on the sundials

And in the fields let the wind loose.

Order the last fruits to become ripe

Give them two more sunny days

Push them to fulfillment

And force the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

He who has no house now will not build one

He who is alone will be so for a long time to come

Will stay awake, read, write long letters

And restlessly walk in the park among the blown leaves.

(Translated by Charlotte Schmid)

and UNKNOWN….

Autumn, River Kelvin, Glasgow

Autumn, River Kelvin, Glasgow

photo: Anne Whitaker

I am the Season of Autumn

I am pleased to meet you

I  am the season of Autumn.

I am the Harvest of Spring and Summer’s labour.

I am the fruits, the grains, the berries,

The beautiful colours of a glorious planet.

Winding down after a frenzy of activity.

I am the gentle approach to my sister Winter.

When Autumn leaves begin to fall it is time to

Prepare for colder weather and to remind each

Other of those who are most vulnerable.

During the longer night please give of

Your time to those who really need it.

Know that essentially the whole worth

Of a kind deed lies in the love that inspired it.

Eternal happiness is seldom found by those who seek it,

Never by those who seek it for themselves.

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

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Greetings to Saturn in Scorpio: and what were YOU doing 1983-5?

One of my regular commenters and blog followers, EMariaEnterprises, asked me a number of general questions regarding the collective effects of the recent shift of the planet Saturn into the sign of Scorpio(any readers who would like to read a spectrum of  quality, thoughtful articles on this important planetary shift, do go over to my favourite astrology blog, The Mountain Astrologer blog run by Mary Plumb: she presents a series of articles  there on this key planetary event).

However Emaria also asked me the following: “How are you doing in this area? Are you looking forward to this cycle? or hedging your bets?”

Here, off the top of my head, is my reply. I thought it might be of interest to all of you out there who, like me, are fascinated with the way planetary energies play out in the unfolding of our lives:

chandra.harvard.edu

 “….Regarding your questions about me – well, the last time Saturn went through Scorpio ie the end of 1982-85 (traversing part of my 2nd house, all of the 3rd, and crossing my IC) the following key things happened: I got serious about astrology, obtained my first qualification through the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London, and began to do readings and teach my first class (to three ballerinas and a flower remedy specialist, I seem to remember!).

I went part-time in my existing career and set up in private practice as an astrologer, astrology teacher,counsellor and assertiveness trainer – and was pretty broke for the first two years until the practice took off. My sister’s marriage broke up and her ex husband set up home with my husband’s ex-wife (you couldn’t make it up!) My father died very suddenly. And we moved house to where we still live. Pretty uneventful really….

So, I look forward to this new Saturn in Scorpio period in a Buddhist spirit……ie live in the moment, and ‘lean into the sharp points’ – of which I expect there will be quite a few….”

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Any readers who have feedback from the 1982-85 period, astrologers or not, feel free to leave as a comment so that we can have a mini-research project going!

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

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Farewell – the Libran Saturn Return!

The planet Saturn entered the sign of Libra on 30th October 2009, and is currently poised for entry into Scorpio on 5th October 2012.

Those of you born between Autumn 1980 and Autumn 1983 – when Saturn was last in Libra  – will then emerge blinking into the light – hopefully having made some of the changes necessary for old baggage to be shed, and with new challenges to take on, as you move into the second thirty-year cycle of Saturn, the great definer….have you done that? Let’s take stock….

Saturn - welcome to the Real World!

Saturn – welcome to the Real World!

wordsources.info

The planets in their cyclic rhythms symbolically weave the story of our collective and personal lives through space and time. These cycles vary enormously: from the tiny 29.5 day dance of the Sun and Moon, to the vast epoch-defining cycle of Neptune and Pluto, meeting only once every five hundred years.

The planetary cycle which has most penetrated the popular imagination, however, is the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn, commonly known as the Saturn Return. Stay with this post, those of you with no astrological knowledge born between Autumn 1980 and Autumn 1983 (i). You’ll gain some useful perspectives….

How many Returns?

In a long lifetime, you may have three Saturn Returns: one at 29/30, another at 59/60, and a third at 89/90. The first one, however, is arguably the most crucial and the one upon which this article is focused. But any Saturn Returners just completing their Second and Third Returns are most welcome to read this article – and send me their feedback!

Saturn the cosmic Tester….

The Saturn Return is very much about defining yourself: separating out from what you are not, in order to get closer to the grain of who you are meant to be. We all go through it with varying degrees of success and failure in being able to clarify who we are – none of us is capable of sorting everything out, even in a whole lifetime, never mind the first 29/30 years!

Saturn Returns vary in degrees of challenge, levels of difficulty – and, let’s not forget! – of achievement as a result of honestly taking stock of what needs to change and making that change happen. This is not a time to stick your head in the sand to avoid facing painful truths about circumstances, people, or your own attitudes and beliefs which are holding back your progress as a developing and growing person.

Locating Saturn – currently leaving Libra

Let’s now move from those general principles to looking at some specifics. Plotting Saturn’s current position, observable against the 30 degrees section of the zodiac which we call Libra, is a good way to illustrate this.

In its 29/30 year cycle, Saturn moves through all twelve zodiac signs, spending 2-3 years in each. An Aries Saturn Return, for example, is very different in flavour from a Pisces Saturn Return. Thus Saturn’s underlying principles just described will be seen through the filter of the particular 2-3 year period in which you were born, irrespective of your Sun or Star sign.

The Libran Saturn Return

In astrological terms, Saturn is traditionally ‘exalted’ – ie in its most favourable placing –  in the airy, rational sign of Libra. Thus the generational group born between Autumn 1980 and Autumn 1983 (i) is by nature more inclined than the rest of us towards the well-known Libran virtues: detached reasonableness, a strong sense of fairness and justice, striving to achieve balance and harmony in all spheres of life, but especially in relationships with others.

Thus the Libran Saturn Return has been especially tuned, in essence, towards finding balance in all areas of life and sorting out what you want from what you do not want in relationships. Remembering that Saturn really turns up the heat and piles on the pressure where we are most dysfunctional and, in Libra’s case, indecisive, I thought it would be a very good idea to put flesh on the bones of the theory by asking some real live Libra Saturn Returners for their feedback!

Investigating Real Lives

I was really pleased to come across a group of four friends, living at very different locations in the UK and USA, none of whom have studied astrology but all of whom were willing to participate in a mini research study.They were all born between Autumn 1980 and Autumn 1983 (i) when Saturn was going through Libra.

I researched whether one could detect the challenges and disruptions characteristic of astrology’s description of the Saturn Return in general, and their Libran one in particular, at work as common factors in all their lives from autumn 2009 until now – and was not disappointed! This short article can only provide a flavour of their lives and the detailed, interesting feedback they sent me:

Anna’s boyfriend died in an accident, she got a new job, and emigrated to the USA. Barbara obtained a new job in a new company in a different part of the UK much nearer her partner, and bought a new house. Caroline split up with her partner of seven years, but they have recently got back together to try again. Diana faced many career challenges and disruptions, and the end of a three year relationship. (ii)

In conclusion….

These human stories allow the vividness and relevance of astrological symbolism to manifest. Even through this very brief extract, we can see the particular imperative which the Saturn Return presents, clearly at work.  We can also see how their experiences all centre on relationship, Libra’s especial focus. All four have taken on life-changing challenges, experienced significant losses as well as gains – but feel overall that they have a clearer sense both of who they are, and who they are not – their lives feel more balanced as a result.

Saturn has done his work!!

NOTES

(i) this is a general article only – the particular detail is as follows: Saturn entered Libra on 21st September 1980 and finally left on 24th August 1983. However, for a period of several months from 30th November 1982 to 6th May 1983, Saturn ‘dipped into’ Scorpio which it was to enter fully on 24th August 1983 for the next two and a quarter years.

 (ii) not their real names.

This brief article was first published in a slightly different edition on the blog Love Your Saturn Return , and is part of my much longer recent exploration of the meaning of Saturn Returns incorporating a mini-research study of the experiences of four researchees experiencing the Saturn Return in Libra. It is currently being considered for publication, but will appear here in due course if it is not accepted! 

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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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