Pluto enters Aquarius in March 2023 for the first time since his 1778–1798 soujourn brought with it sweeping changes in social order and individual freedoms, including: the ratification of the American constitution, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, the publishing of The Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollestonecroft…
Along with other astrologers whose main interest is in the relationship between the larger planetary cycles and world affairs, I’ve been watching with fascination as people power asserts itself in the general direction of greater democratic freedoms and increasing rejection of oppressive rulers. I’ve written about this in more detail recently here (i)
There is a word which beautifully describes – at both a collective and a personal level – this disturbing but highly creative state of emerging from the past, being highly disrupted in the present, reaching out to an uncertain future. That word is LIMINAL.
Here are my thoughts on both the micro and macro dimensions of that wonderfully descriptive word, starting (of course – I used to be an English teacher, after all…) with a definition. Written as my ninth The Astro-View from Scotland column for that wonderful USA magazine Dell Horoscope, sadly no longer with us, it is still highly relevant. I hope you enjoy my musings: feel free to add your own as a comment should you feel inspired to do so!
‘…I always seem to have a favourite word. Maybe that’s one of the hallmarks of being a writer. It’s probably tiresome for other people when I cram it into conversations. By now, I’m sure you are quite desperate to know what the damn word is this time. Ok. It’s ‘liminal’. From the Latin ‘limen’ meaning ‘threshold’, it refers to that stage in life when one is hovering…departing from what is in the past: not quite at home here in the present: not quite arrived there, in the future…it’s an uncomfortable, fluid state to be in, but highly creative and full of potential.
How about this contemporary usage, definition from Wikipedia: ‘…More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change… During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt…’ I don’t know about you, but this to me sounds just like where we are collectively on planet Earth at present. Let’s hope in the long run – which we baby-boomers likely won’t live to see – we end up with something better than the mess we have now.
‘As above, so below’ : no contemporary astrologers have come up with a pithier definition of the essence of our art than did fabled Ancient Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus in the equally fabled Emerald Tablet. Hermes was conceived as apparently hovering between the divine and human worlds. Down here in that all-too-human world, thinking about Hermes in relation to the world ‘liminal’ is providing me with some inspiration; much needed in my case, as I hover uncomfortably and uncertainly between the end of one 12 year Jupiter cycle, and the beginning of a new one.
Jupiter cycles have always been a big deal for me, since third house Jupiter at 19 degrees 07 Scorpio squares all six of my Leo 11th and 12th house planets. I wrote about the dubious but transformative delights of this astro-lineup in my very first column for Dell.
This idea of hovering between the divine and human worlds might be of some comfort and inspiration also to those of you readers who are ending one cycle at present, without being able to see how the energy of the next one is going to form. Standing in this liminal place, one cannot bully, cajole or entreat the new order to reveal itself. There is divine time, and there is human time.
This may sound pretty mystical, but my feeling – from both personal and professional experience– is that the deeper wisdom of our soul knows the direction in which we need to proceed in order to become all we can be, and how long it may take to get there. The astrological cycles can put us in touch with that spark of divinity within each of us, offering profound insights into what a waning cycle has been about, and what the newly-forming one might bring. They also teach us that‘… there is… a time to every purpose under the heaven…’ (i).
Our egos, located in human, ordinary time, can often rail against this when we don’t like what we see of the shape of things to come, or how long a particular transitional period is going to take. Try consulting your ephemeris, as I did at the end of 1998, to realise that I was about to have a series of sixth house Neptune oppositions to twelfth house planets lasting from 1999 until 2012, as well as the ending/beginning of five major cycles. It was some immersion, I can tell you. Did my ego rail against it? You bet. I had to quit my career in 2002, and did not begin to surface, via writing on the Web at first, until 2008, not returning to consulting and teaching until 2012.
But guess what? I now look back on that period, when I felt liminal approximately twenty-four hours a day for years, as the most soul-enriching of my entire life. One of the many lessons I took from that period was to pay close attention especially to the feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction and uncertainty which herald the end of, for example, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn which we all share. Many of us recall – or are experiencing now! – the turbulence and pain of the end of our twenties, from which most of us emerged or will emerge by around the age of thirty-three with a much clearer idea of who we are, and most importantly, who we are not.
Those difficult feelings and experiences occurring in the twelfth house phase of any major cycle (where we are now, collectively, as Pluto traverses the final degrees of Capricorn…) are part of the dissolution of the old order of that part of our lives. An ending must take place– so that new energy may arise, taking us forward to the next stage of our unfolding.
Astrology’s great gift is to show us that we are not random butterflies pinned to the board of Fate. We each have our small, meaningful strand to weave into life’s vast tapestry. In the end, it was consent to my tough and frightening period of liminality, patient waiting, the love and support I was fortunate to have, and trust in the wisdom of the Unseen that got me through. So, my liminal fellow travellers, take heart. The old order may be waning, but something fresh and new is surely arising…’
(ii)Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 King James Version (KJV)
“The astro-view from Scotland” was the bi-monthly column I wrote for Dell Horoscope Magazine from January/February 2017 until the last issue of Dell in March/April 2020. This ninth column first appeared in the May/June 2018 issue.
1200 words ©Anne Whitaker 2022