Monthly Archives: November 2012

“…. the miracle of the living soul ….”

All my life’s work has been with people: as an adult education teacher in many settings, as a psychiatric social worker, as a private counsellor, trainer and supervisor of counsellors – and as a professional astrologer and astrology teacher. At the core of this apparent vocational diversity has been, I now understand, the same drive. It is that urge to find meaningful contexts for my own tiny, ephemeral spark of life, whilst offering some affirmation to others that their tiny flame matters too: it is worth struggling to get our light to burn with a purer and brighter radiance.

Something ineffable and charged can on occasions arise in deep communication between one person and another – those in the helping professions and their clients are by no means the sole partakers of this context. There is a moment in which the feeling of safety, intimacy, trust, empathy and openness of exchange becomes so intense that the level on which two people are interacting shifts from ‘ordinary’ to numinous.

The Diamond Soul

The Diamond Soul

In that moment, (to my subjective recollection) both souls are held, in a state of grace, in the palm of some vast invisible benevolent Hand. Both sparks of life are suspended in a sense of the sacred….

Such a state can never be evoked. It can only be bestowed – fleeting, memorable, perhaps life changing.

Coming across the following quotes recently thus struck a profound chord:

first, from Carl Gustav Jung

“ That is why I say to any beginner: learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of the living soul. Not theories but your creative individuality alone must decide.”

Carl Jung from “Contributions to Analytical Psychology”quoted in Self and Society Vol 27 No 1 March 1999, p 22.

second, from ‘Gilead’by Marilynne Robinson, p 51 –

“ When people come to speak to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the ‘I’ whose predicate can be ‘love’ or ‘fear’ or ‘want’, and whose object can be ‘someone’ or ‘nothing’ and it won’t really matter, because the loveliness is just in that presence, shaped around ‘I’ like a flame on a wick, emanating itself in grief and guilt and joy and whatever else …. To see this aspect of life is a privilege of the ministry which is seldom mentioned.”

(‘Gilead’, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is a wonderful novel in which, towards the end of Rev John Ames’ life in 1956, he begins a letter to his young son, setting down all that he wishes to communicate which impending death will otherwise render impossible.)

I urge you to read it for its humanity and its wisdom.

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450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Stories from the coal face! Saturn in Scorpio Part 2

All powerfully charged dimensions of life belong to Scorpio: that stage of the human journey challenges us with those facets of life which most powerfully compel us, attract us, repel us, scare us – and transform us….

To read Part 1, click HERE. In this second post I will be having a look at some personal stories…..what is beginning to take shape for individuals as the planet Saturn settles into its 2012-5 symbolic journey through the thirty degrees of the sign of Scorpio? What is beginning to emerge from the murky depths of what we don’t want to face? Where do potential transformations lie?

image:  Cafe Astrology

Helena‘s feedback shows clearly that her work has already begun. In her birth horoscope Chiron, the asteroid signifying both wounding and healing, is placed at 4 degrees of Scorpio. The planet Saturn, noted in its traverse of Scorpio for purging and cleansing deep-rooted old patterns which only serve to hold us back, currently transiting Helena’s Chiron, will not have finished its work there until a year from now:

” Early in September 2012 I caught a nasty cold from my granddaughter which kept returning, bringing with it headaches, wheezing and sneezing, and as it continued, low energy, tiredness and low mood.My usual enthusiasm for life felt much diminished. By the end of October I was still unwell, and had decided I really must DO something about this. So I visited a reputable nutritional specialist one of whose approaches was to test for food intolerances.

I am a sceptic ( in the open-minded sense of the word!) but felt I had nothing to lose by doing this. In sum, she provided me with a professionally administered boot up the ass regarding the toxins which were affecting my energy and well-being (despite my having a more than averagely healthy diet) and gave me the motivation to begin, in essence, a detoxing regime which I anticipate will take around a year since I want to do it gradually.

So – I decided to cut out sugar apart from what occurs naturally in fruit and vegetables, reduce dairy foods by two thirds, and cut out tomatoes altogether. The gadget she had attached to my left middle finger by which she measured my body’s energetic response to a wide range of substances, positively shrieked when it encountered tomato. Exit tomatoes from my life.

Result? Within thirty six hours the draggy cold had dried up and gone. My energy levels quickly improved dramatically. And my catarrh has virtually gone. I sleep better because of this. One month on, I feel better than I have for years.

But for the first three days of the new diet regime, as I detoxed from sugar in particular, I felt wretched. Headaches, feeling weepy – and anger, accompanied by very old feelings of family pain from issues belonging to childhood. And as I write – very aware of family of origin issues in the present, manifesting through younger members of my family……time to face more emotional challenges rooted in the past, as well as purging my diet of toxins. I feel this Saturn  transit over Chiron, very powerfully on several levels……”

Saturn by transit has not yet reached Flora‘s Scorpio planets, as we will see shortly. Nevertheless, she is beginning to see the possible shape of  things to come, emerging from the murky depths….

“I have Neptune conjunct Venus in Scorpio (8-12o).  Over the next year Saturn will transit the conjunction.  In 2002 I almost had an affair – it was very traumatic and confusing: transiting Neptune was squaring that Neptune conjunct Venus in Scorpio at the time.

During the recent Saturn in Libra period (Autumn 2009-Autumn 2012) my (long) marriage has been tested again, although I have been finding things hard going for some time. I have a lot of respect and love for my husband, but I am finding that we have less in common as time goes on and that he is more and more restrictive and smothering.  Sex has been a very intrinsic part of my marriage as one might expect of the conjunction being in Scorpio – there is a lot more to be said about that but I do not wish to write too much.  Suffice to say it is a highly important aspect of our marriage to him.

About eighteen months ago when Saturn, transiting through Libra, was conjunct the Sun/Moon midpoint I met someone. He is married with children and of course so am I. We care deeply for each other and have even spoken of being together one day.  Whether this happens or not remains to be seen as the obstacles to doing so are perhaps too much. But I do feel this year may well bring all that into focus….”

Tough realism is needed, and willingness to confront some of the less attractive facets of ourselves, others and our family history during this Saturn in Scorpio transit. It helps to remember that whatever we have to face is not unique to us, but part of collective human suffering. Self pity should be strictly rationed! Considerable clarity and growth can be the reward if we persevere with self honesty, compassion and patience with self and others.

Never more so than when travelling through Scorpio, Saturn challenges us to separate out from what we are not – in order to become more fully who we were meant to be.

I’d like to give the last word in this post to Scottish poet Christopher Whyte, who has several planets in Scorpio:

” Forgiving life and, in the process, forgiving oneself, is one of the toughest enterprises of all.”

This statement for me sums up the essential challenge of Saturn in Scorpio, whatever our personal stories ….

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Many thanks to those of you who sent in your feedback but which I have not had the space to feature. It is my intention from time to time to post some individual stories, since showing how astrological symbolism plays out in real lives demonstrates more clearly than anything else the validity of the astrological model as a means of attempting to understand ourselves both individually and collectively. So – do continue to send in your stories! But please, only disclose what feels comfortable for you to reveal. And by all means use anonymity. Helena and Flora are not the real names of the contributors featured in this post.

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

 

Saturn through Scorpio : “Sex – Death – and Taxes….” 18th November 2012

“As above, so below”

 This ancient maxim sums up the interconnectedness of all life, a reality which periodically pushes itself to the forefront of our awareness when nature wreaks savage destruction and we are confronted with power which we are utterly unable to control.

Force of Nature

Force of Nature

For example: the aftermath of hurricane Sandy will continue its devastating effects on many lives long after it has ceased to be immediate headline news. But it may also force the upper echelons of political power in the USA at last to take the threat of climate change seriously and stop blocking those who are at least trying to do something about it.

“….If the worst Atlantic storm in U.S. history holds an economic lesson, it is this: We all need to come to terms with the cost of climate change….”

Being forced by circumstances beyond our control (which often have their genesis in collective or individual choices made long ago but now forgotten) to confront profound and threatening matters many would rather not face, sums up the symbolic action of Saturn  – the stern old patriarch of the planetary pantheon –  as he purges his way through the sign of Scorpio once every 29/30 years.

Saturn entered Scorpio early in October 2012 and remains there until September 2015. Time to clean up our act, individually and collectively (i).

Though the lenses of sex, abuse of power, and death – three of of Scorpio’s key themes – we can see the collective challenges of this shift already. In the UK, as Saturn began his sojourn in Scorpio, sexual abuse scandal began early in October with utterly shocking revelations of the activities over many decades of Jimmy Savile – probably the worst paedophile in UK history rapidly  spreading to permeate much of UK’s institutional life.Then sexual misbehaviour scandal surfaced at the top of the US military and continues to rumble on.

Yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard ordered a rare Royal Commission, the highest form of investigation in the country, into how churches, government bodies and other organisations have dealt with possibly thousands of child sex abuse claims.

And the Indian government is currently putting diplomatic pressure on the Irish government over the death of a young Indian woman resident in Ireland, who was allegedly refused an abortion despite miscarrying, dying of blood poisoning as a consequence. There have been mass protests in India and Ireland as a result, calling for reform of Ireland’s abortion laws.

An old cliche has it that Scorpio’s main realms are ‘sex, death, and taxes‘ – the latter is certainly coming into sharp focus too, as the European Central Bank puts increasing pressure on debt-ridden economies., eg on 9th November …. “More austerity may please the Germans, but it is an unnecessary tragedy for Greece ….”

Following hard on the heels of considerable relief at President Obama’s re-election, which  possibly heralds the slow death throes of the hegemony of angry WASP males in the USA, we have the dreaded Fiscal Cliff looming in January 2013 – “….the effect of a number of laws which (if unchanged) could result in tax increases, spending cuts, and a corresponding reduction in the budget deficit beginning in 2013….”

At a collective level we can certainly see the power and challenge of  Saturn’s symbolic journey through Scorpio – only just beginning. There has been an eruption from the murky depths of material which we would rather had stayed there. Now we have no option but to face up to what confronts us. It is a slow, painful process. But when the collective wound is cauterised and cleansed, there is a chance for some healing to begin….

Do the same underlying principles apply to individuals as well as nations? What do you think? In the next post, following shortly,  I will be having a look at some personal stories…..what is beginning to take shape for individuals? What is beginning to emerge from the murky depths of what  we don’t want to face? I am reminded of a counselling supervisor I had many years ago, who every so often would hit me with the following challenge: “What is it you don’t want to talk about today, Anne? Let’s talk about that….”

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NOTES

(i) those readers who have studied astrology to a level ‘beyond the sun signs’ will also have noted that this symbolic energy is amplified by mutual reception with the planet Pluto, ruler of Scorpio, in the sign of Capricorn. Also, for the next year Saturn makes a beneficial link by trine aspect with the planet Neptune. 

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

 

Samhain: A little flare of magic in the night!

If you went down to The Children’s Wood, North Kelvin, Glasgow, UK  tonight, you’d find this:

a little flare of magic....

a little flare of magic….

photo: Anne Whitaker

in the centre of the photo, a tiny flare of fire: a long IPhone shot of a beautiful, leaping bonfire on a crisp, cold, dry autumn night. Fireworks going off all round, sparks and whorls of vivid colour in the dark. Dozens of parents and children: children entranced, parents sipping mulled wine, enjoying the first mince pies of an extended winter season which now seems to begin at Hallowe’en. Yes, The Children’s Wood hosted a stunning event then too….fairy lights, food….and five hundred neighbourhood folk.

The local community has proved over the last six months that we need and want and use this  green space. Support us by signing the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign petition. I have recently discovered that most of my blog followers live in the USA and Canada, followed by the UK and a healthy sprinkling of readers around the world. Can you help make this campaign international? If you can, sign the petition and circulate the link. Thank you!

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

Samhain: what will we find in the dark this Winter?

It’s 6.30 am here in dark, rainy, leaf-strewn post-Hallowe’en Glasgow, Scotland – and I have been catching up on one of my favourite blogs: Linda Leinen’s “The Task at Hand: a writer’s ongoing search for just the right word”.  Her latest post is The Sandburg Season, a meditation on the American poet Sandburg’s prescient commentary on the state of America in the 1920s, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind”. She, like the poet, contemplates the state of the nation in the aftermath of the ravages of the latest devastating hurricane to hit the USA – at this time in USA’s history a grim prelude to the upcoming election on 6th November, a mere six days away.

Samhain Blessings!

Samhain Blessings!

magickalgraphics.com

Reading this deep, rich post and the wonderful range of replies has put me in a meditative mood. It’s now 1st November – Samhain – Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. It is a contemplative time; a time for honouring the renewing power of darkness, and for facing the humbling fact that everything passes, including us….

Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows’ Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honouring the dead.

The core sentiments of the Sandburg poem recalled for me Shelley’s “Ozymandias”. (So out of tune was I with my early secondary education that, having been sent home from school to learn Wordsworth‘s “Daffodils” by heart, instead I learned “Ozymandias” …..I should have realised then that I was in for a complicated life!) Both poets comment on the vanity of human endeavour in the face of the irresistible forces of Nature and of Time. So I was very struck by Shelley’s great poem appearing via one of Linda Leinem’s commentators, Steve Schwartzman. I sense a community of reflection out there, as we descend into the dark: ready for our symbolic death into Winter, knowing the rebirth into Spring will also come.

We need the dark, as this festival of Samhain reminds us. Within the year’s natural cycle, the diurnal alternation of light and dark brings restful silence at night and the restorative power of sleep, without which all creatures including us would burn out and die before their time. We are in danger of forgetting this – at our peril – as an increasingly technology-driven culture sweeps the world, creating the illusion that we can live sustainably and healthily in defiance of the ancient rhythms set by the great cycles of nature. The Great Round of  conception, birth, maturation, decline, death and rebirth applies to everything, from gnats to galaxies. Human endeavour is not exempt.

Perhaps our whole culture/civilisation is in its Winter phase – the signs of descent are everywhere, should we care to look…….and in the meantime, I am with Linda Leinen: “Most of the time, I just try to do what I can.” Renewal, whether we live to see it or not, is always round the corner….

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What are YOUR thoughts and feelings regarding the Descent into winter? It would be interesting to have them!

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