I thought I’d celebrate this special astrological point in the year when the Sun hits the highest point in the heavens as in enters the sign of Cancer, by storytelling: here, the strange tale of how a serious astro-dismisser ( myself, many years ago ) had a highly Uranian encounter in a laundrette in Bath, England, and in the process received a prediction which accurately foretold a major change in the direction of my life.
I also give you some of my Thoughts on Prediction ( decidedly mixed) by way of introduction.
So- pull up a chair, grab a coffee/glass of wine, and have a listen.
And – by the way – the latest lovely review of “Postcards to the future”. Thanks, DL!
5.0 out of 5 stars : from DL Gordon, Chair, Aquarius Rising, Glasgow UK.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 June 2022
“…I’ve found this book absolutely captivating from the first page! Anne’s writing has such depth and richness, it’s a joy to read and I think could be enjoyed even without any great knowledge of Astrology. The Astrological insight and wisdom is an added bonus for Astrologers. A book that’s difficult to put down and will no doubt be revisited again and again :-)…”
‘…Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery…’
Easter Eve always finds me in a meditative, introspective, usually melancholy mood. The powerful metaphor of crucifixion as Good Friday approaches seems even more grimly appropriate this year, as we contemplate the terrible suffering of the people of Ukraine with horror and disbelief – and reflect on that which has brought those of us fortunate enough not to be caught up in war and persecution, nevertheless to our own personal pain: for Life crucifies us all, one way or another. If we are fortunate, we eventually emerge, hopefully deepened and strengthened.
This year, I have returned for solace and perspective to a favourite book “Women in Search of the Sacred” by Anne Bancroft, from which that wonderful header quote by Annie Dillard is taken. Where lies the sacred, in which our deepest solace is to be found? What are the ways that lead us to its discovery? To some, organised religion is the path to a spiritual life, while to others the natural world reveals the transcendent within the everyday, the holiness of what is. This fascinating book surveys the careers of ten very different women and examines the ways in which they have developed their spiritual lives.Those skilfully and sensitively interviewed by Anne Bancroft include Iris Murdoch, Susan Howatch, Sheila Cassidy, Vivianne Crowley, and Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and nature mystic. The book, though published in 1996, is still available…I truly recommend it as an inspiring read this Eastertide.
I can also still clearly recall the profound, uplifting impact many years ago of reading Annie Dillard’s account – in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’ – of what is, essentially, a mystical experience. She was only 27.
“…..Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The lights of the fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had my whole life been a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam…..”
–Annie Dillard, ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’ (1974).
‘….I’m still spending the power….’ I know what she means. I was fortunate enough to have a mystical experience myself once, at the age of 24 – out of the blue, on a clear, starry autumnal night with Venus rising over the Perthshire hills in the Scottish Highlands. It has sustained me through many difficult experiences, and in Annie Dillard’s unforgettable words,‘…. I’m still spending the power….’
Here is another lovely review of my latest book ‘ Postcards To The Future’ this time from Trish Marin of the Astrology Quarterly magazine, from the January/March 2022 Issue, Vol 86, No 4.
Thank you, Trish!
“…Anne Whitaker’s mercurial musings weave through the last quarter century, unpicking some of the highlights of astrological patterns and mundane events. Postcards To The Future reveals the correspondences and synchronicities between our everyday lives and planetary movements in a convincing display of astrology of the moment.
The book is an entertaining compendium of some of Anne’s prolific blog posts and articles published over the years by a wide variety of sources. Broad in scope, it whizzes authoritatively through planetary cycles, notable conjunctions, typical beginner’s questions, interview Q&A and correspondence, while scattering generous gems of astrological wisdom.
As an astrology teacher and meticulous researcher, Anne provides clear explanations of some complex concepts presented in an engaging and memorable way. As she explains in the book, she was initially a sceptic, until her ‘encounter’, described here in humorous detail. Throughout, the astrology is brought to life with witty and amusing examples and stories from her own life experiences and those of her clients and students. Sprinkled with literary references and philosophical reflections it makes an enjoyable, illuminating read.
I felt compelled to reach for the ephemeris and to look again at the Jupiter/Uranus conjunctions and the part they played in my own past adventures. Secondary progressions had always seemed a rather subtle, internal influence but I was prompted to re-examine their impact with some unexpected insights.
Anne admits to being obsessed by Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and has written of her synastry with Dolly the Sheep, as Frankenstein’s real-life enactment. Furthermore, Mary Shelley has a twenty-first century counterpart who, like her, is sounding a siren for the future of the earth; Greta Thunberg, born nearly two hundred years later, carries her message forward.
A mercurial book, suitable for both beginners and experienced astrologers, delivered in bite sized chunks it can be dipped into or savoured in larger portions. I highly recommend it to all our readers…”
From the depths of antiquity right through until the general advent of electric light in the early part of the twentieth century, humans have been powerfully influenced by the 29.5 day cycle of the Sun and Moon.
The power of the Sun/Moon cycle
They hunted in daylight, made long journeys by the light offered by the Moon as it moved to full illumination of the night sky 14-15 days into the cycle. They timed their most powerful magical/religious rituals to coincide with the Full Moon. Ancient peoples gradually came to understand, as the age of agriculture took root and developed, that the time to plant their crops was when the Moon was waxing in the early part of the 29.5 day cycle, and in the Spring, or waxing, part of the year.
Out of those practical observations of the heavenly bodies, so fundamental to survival in humanity’s early days, came the realisation so beautifully put in the Bible:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (i)
The planetary cycles, from the tiny 29.5 day Sun/Moon cycle to that powerful regulator of human affairs, the 20 year Jupiter/Saturn cycle, were recognised in antiquity as weaving all life including that of human beings into an observable rhythm which brought a context of order, structure, and some comforting predictability to the patterns of life on Earth.
But whether the cycle is huge, like the Neptune/Pluto 500 year one which was not known in antiquity, or small, like the monthly Sun/Moon one, the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new.
All cycles’ 12th House phase
Moondark describes the end of any cycle – the 12th House phase – whether we are contemplating the monthly Sun/Moon one or the epoch-defining Neptune/Pluto cycle. It is the time of withdrawal and dissolution of energy – think of wintertime, the stripped trees, the cold, barren earth – a time of dark power in which the old order dies at a number of different levels, so that fertile energy can emerge from the womb of the night: indeed, a time of “dying back in preparation for the new.” Thus, every year, the time from the New Moon in Pisces to the New Moon in Aries can be seen as the 12th House phase, the Moondark time, of the entire zodiacal year.
Moondark has fascinated me for a long time. I may first have encountered the concept in my twenties, through the agency of Marion Bradley’s magnificent novel “The Mists of Avalon”, set in the time of druidical Britain in the era when Christianity was sweeping through the Roman Empire and the Old Religion of the Druids was being violently challenged as a result.
The legendary King Arthur, disregarding the advice of his Druid priests, married Guinevere in a Christian ceremony – at Moondark, the very end of the Sun/Moon monthly cycle.Since Arthur was a king, getting the symbolism of his marriage right was much more important than it would be for us ordinary mortals! “Woe, woe, no good will come of this!” was the view taken by the Druids. They were right. The marriage was childless; moreover, Guinevere spent much of it in love with Lancelot, one of the knights of King Arthur’s fabled Round Table.
Each year’s Moondark
We tend to think of the annual 20th March equinox, the day that the Sun enters the sign of Aries, as the symbolic beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. But you could argue that the true beginning of spring is when a New Moon takes place in the sign of Aries. In 2022, that celestial event occurs tomorrow on 1st April, both Sun and Moon meeting at 11.5 degrees of Aries, the fiery first sign of the zodiac. The degree of their meeting varies from year to year: in 2021, it was 22.5 degrees Aries; in 2020, 4 degrees Aries; in 2019 15 degrees Aries; in 2018, 26 degrees Aries.
I find it illuminating and helpful to think of each year in those terms. Thus – as we wait for the fresh energy upsurge of the Aries New Moon tomorrow, we are symbolically waiting in Moondark. This year’s Moondark has been especially potent; it has run from the 12 degrees Pisces New Moon on the 2nd March 2022, making a conjunction with Jupiter at 16 degrees Pisces which is already approaching its powerful conjunction with Neptune, due on 12 April 2022 at 24 degrees Pisces. Much is already being written and discussed across the Web regarding the implications of this planetary duo.(ii)
Events of a collective and personal nature have been powerful, dark and traumatic this Moondark: the Pisces New Moon’s conjunction with Jupiter, as that planet approaches conjunction with Neptune, hascertainly brought Ukraine experiences of symbolic crucifixion (iii) via the sweep of war at Russia’s instigation, and its attendant suffering as millions flee their homeland in search of whatever kind of safety can be found. Along with a world-wide Pisces/Neptune response of compassionate desire to help, manifesting in donations of clothing and other supplies, and money pouring in to various charities, there is a general mood of disgust, shock, world-weariness and exhaustion.
All those reactions are typical Pisces/Neptune responses from all of us world-wide who have been through years of acute political upheaval and turmoil, increasing awareness of the climate emergency we now face – then two years of a pandemic, not yet over, which has upended our whole way of life.
All that most of us wish is peace. We are now having to find ways of being creative, constructive and hopeful in a world in turmoil and transition from an old materialist world order clearly long past its sell-by date…
The uses of Moondark
Moondark is at its best a contemplative time: a time to take stock both collectively and personally. We live in an increasingly frenetic 24/7 society where ‘time out’ is increasingly hard to find, and is not supported by the culture as a whole. Those of us who wish and need to retreat regularly to preserve our balance and well-being tend to be regarded as odd by mainstream society.
But humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.
Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.
It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the time from the Pisces New Moon each year to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us: to take stock of the year that was coming to an end, ponder our successes and our failures, and set some realistic intentions to pursue for the zodiacal year ahead. In a time of unprecedented turmoil, taking retreat time to work out how to cope best with the world we now inhabit, seems more important than ever…
Have you been taking stock ? I certainly have…and your thoughts on what has emerged for you, would be most welcome as we emerge from Moondark and begin a new zodiacal year.
iii) the six-week Christian season of Lent, with its Piscean themes of prayer, reaching out to the Divine, compassion, renunciation and sacrifice, runs this year from the day of the Pisces New Moon on 2nd March, right through to 14th April, just before the first Full Moon of the new astrological year
1300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2022 Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
I find approaching the Winter Solstice each year, a very frustrating time…there is all the frantic gearing-up for Christmas and its attendant spending-fest which one gets dragged into – just when I wish to sink into the fertile spaces of the dark inner world.
This time asks to be honoured with retreat, contemplation, awareness of how essential the hidden fertility of darkness is to the eventual emergence of new life. Perhaps we especially need to be reminded of that ancient truth during a time of great turmoil and darkness for our world, and of our own individual losses, pains and disappointments.
The great religions at core, have their ways of honouring this annual point of deepest darkness, then the slowly re-emerging light. My small way of doing it is by finding some quiet time, by seeking out a poem which speaks to me at ‘… the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight…’ – and by sharing it.
I hope my choice of winter solstice poem for 2021 strikes a chord with at least some of my Followers:
“…This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar…”
― Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995
( North West Scotland, Arisaig shoreline, Solstice sunset, December 2018: photo by Anne Whitaker. ) Sun enters Capricorn at 16.00 GMT 21.12.2021
>….ie today, a fantastic review of my new book ..’Postcards to the Future‘ by Karin Hoffman of the world-renowned Astrodienstwebsite:
Karin says: ...”Present and future astrologers will find in this deep and varied collection nuggets of pure gold, forged in a lifetime, collected and polished for display and – most importantly – for enlightenment and use…”
To read the whole review – and hopefully treat yourself or a friend, student of astrology, or interested member of the public who wants to know more about the depths and delights offered by astrological knowledge to a copy of ‘Postcards…’ – here it is:
(...this essay can be found on p 20 of my new book ‘Postcards to the Future’, published Autumn 2021 and available everywhere from Amazon, includingAmazon UK. There are 59 other “Mercurial Musings” to choose from! Enjoy…)
Anyone who has ever written a regular column will know that there are times when inspiration is – not to put too fine a point on it – notable by its absence. At other times, so many ideas are flying around that catching one by the tail to pin it down is, to say the least, tricky. And – you never know, as the last deadline is met and you can now relax for a few weeks – which set of conditions is going to prevail the next time.
So, Reader, there I was, new deadline appearing over the horizon, and…nada. Nix. No–thing. At all. Braincell dry as an old chewed-up bone. In this situation there are generally two options: blind panic – or blind faith. I have six fiery planets. This is often a curse, let me tell you, but in the matter of column deadlines, it is a blessing. So, armed with nothing but blind faith, I headed for the office.
To pass time sitting on the bus, I check my phone. Ahah – there’s a message on Messenger. A colleague is beginning a new project for the international company he works for, an unusual company where his boss is an astrology appreciator. He is making a podcast series on Turning Points: asking people to talk for five minutes on the one decision which changed their lives forever. He is inviting me to contribute.
“Ping!!” went the braincell, hit by a mini bolt of inspiration. I had my topic. I’d ruminate on what it was that inspired me to take up, and continue, the long-term study and practice of astrology. That decision certainly changed MY life forever.
So – what was it ?
Was it my youthful awe as I watched the Northern Lights enacting their glorious colourful dance, just above the skyline near our house? Perhaps it was lying cosy in bed, listening to the roaring gales of January tearing the world apart – wondering what the Power was behind that raging wind. Was it the growing excitement, as I grew up, of being able to spot familiar constellations in the clear, unpolluted night skies of my native island?
Or – maybe the Fates had already decided, leaving me a clue to be decoded many years later, via the placement of Uranus, the astrologers’ planet, at 25 Degrees of Gemini, in the tenth house of my natal horoscope?
I have recently been revisiting the significance of the placement of Uranus’ discovery degree, ie 24 degrees 27 minutes Gemini,(i) in the horoscopes of those drawn to the practice of astrology. A dip into my horoscope collection, lifting out three male and three female birth charts, found that all six prominent astrologers chosen have this degree either conjunct, square or opposite natal planets, Nodes or Angles: the lately deceased and much-missed Donna Cunningham, Michel Gauquelin, Liz Greene, Isabel Hickey, Johannes Kepler and Noel Tyl. (ii)
Johannes Kepler Asc 24 deg 25 mins Gemini
Furthermore, when I was 27 years old, progressed Sun crossed asteroid Urania, placed at 19 degrees of Virgo in my first house, square tenth house Uranus. That year, as mentioned in an earlier column, I had a totally random encounter with a pair of astrologers who predicted my future astrological career.
So – did I choose that career or did I come in with it already chosen? Was it Fate, or free will? We will, of course, never be able to answer that question. MY conclusion, hardly stunningly original, is that we dance to the tune of both. There are times when the power of Fate feels strongly present. Other times, the unglamorous wrestle with inertia, poor judgement, and other ills to haul our lives into a reasonably satisfying shape feels very strongly to be determined mainly by our own conscious efforts.
In the latter case, a major ingredient in the shaping process, in my opinion, is the power of inspiration. At twenty-four years of age (second Jupiter Return, anyone?!) I was fortunate enough to have what I later realised was a mystical experience, something which has continued to inspire me. This may well have created a spiritual backdrop for the subsequent encounter with astrology as foreground; when I met those astrologers I was going through a crisis involving wondering what, after all, my life was FOR…not an uncommon state for one’s late twenties!
Their accurate reading inspired me to investigate astrology further, initially via the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies. On discovering that I, too, could produce accurate and affirming feedback from those strange marks on a piece of paper which seemed helpful to people trying to understand themselves better, I was hooked. For the rest of my life.
Astrology has continued to inspire because it continues to challenge me. It challenges me because we are working with living energies, patterns whose essential meanings we have established over millennia, but whose manifestations are endless and only partly predictable. Despite decades of experience, I still get that tight anxious feeling before every new client I see, being very aware of my responsibility at least to do no harm, at best to help the person before me see their life in a more constructive, bigger context.
I am, of course, always curious to find out what inspires people to engage with astrology – and to keep going once they get there. There is an occasional series running on my blog, in which astrologers tell their interesting, unusual tales of inspiration and – of course! – an inevitable amount of perspiration…
Want to share your story? Go on…
First published in Dell Horoscope Magazine ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ (from the January/February 2018 Issue), this essay can be found on p 20 of ‘Postcards to the Future‘, published Autumn 2021 and available everywhere from Amazon, including Amazon UK. There are 59 other “Mercurial Musings” to choose from!Enjoy…
This is our first Easter since the unfolding, relentless Saturn/Pluto cycle which began on 12th January 2020. The archetypal story of suffering, crucifixion, death – and rebirth, let us not forget! – which is at the core of the Easter message, feels profoundly appropriate now as our human community travels the dark night of the current corona virus crisis. At present we have no idea of when, or how, we will emerge. So we wait, and hope…
Here are my thoughts, which I first wrote at Easter Eve some years ago. They seem even more apt now:
Iona Cross, Full Moon
photo: Anne Whitaker
“…There is a stillness about Easter Eve. Whether you are Christian, hold another faith, or none, the underlying archetypes of the Easter journey are common to all human experience.
We have all, unless we have led a supremely charmed life, been cast out into the wilderness at one time or another. Life has crucified us all, to a greater or lesser extent. We have been in the Underworld, have known what it is like to go through experiences so severe that we die to our old selves. Then there is the wait, the wait in darkness, fear, and not knowing.
Will we ever emerge, reborn? And when we do emerge, who are we now? Who recognises us, acknowledges and honours where we have been?
And the most profound question of all: what should we do with the life which has been given back to us?
As ever, in times of waiting, the great poets have been there before us, giving a context, bringing collective dignity to our individual struggles. Here are some magnificent lines from T.S.Eliot to see you through this dark night, before the Easter light returns:
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” …” (i)
(i) from T.S.Eliot ‘s “East Coker” No 2 of The Four Quartets
We tend to think of the annual 20th March equinox, the day the Sun enters Aries, as the symbolic beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. But you could argue that its true beginning takes place with the New Moon in Aries: this year, that does not happen until the 24th March 2020, when the Sun and Moon meet at 4 degrees 12 minutes of Aries.
You could further argue that the period from the Pisces New Moon, this year having fallen just three days ago on 23rd February at 4 degrees 29 minutes of Pisces, represents the Moondark, or balsamic period, or end phase of the whole astrological year – which began with the 15 degrees 17 minutes Aries New Moon on the 5th of April 2019.
Today thus finds us at the new crescent phase beginning the whole zodiacal year’s Moondark. It also finds us on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar, a six week period of contemplation leading to Easter Sunday which falls each year close to the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.
So – how does that profound, doubly symbolic invitation to withdraw and reflect on the year that’s gone, sit with you?
For a very long time, I have been happy and grateful to draw spiritual inspiration from writers of all religious and spiritual traditions – or none. What I seek is grounded wisdom and perspective, wherever it comes from, to guide my life. I also love the comforting, ancient power of ritual. One of my personal Ash Wednesday rituals is to read to myself sections of T S Eliot’s great poem sequence Ash Wednesday. Here is the quote which on this Ash Wednesday has most moved me,:
‘…this is the time of tension between dying and birth/ The place of solitude where three dreams cross…’ (i)
I am in a deeply withdrawn, sensitive, pensive state in this year’s Moondark just beginning, feeling very open to our collective vulnerability and suffering as fragile creatures on a tiny planet.
Having been born in Moondark in the very last hours of the monthly Sun/Moon cycle, I am very aware of the need periodically to retreat, contemplate, take stock – a fundamental aspect of human experience which is being squeezed out by the 24/7 freneticism of contemporary living, to the increasing detriment of our collective mental and physical wellbeing.
Will this new year soon arising bring more brutality towards the vulnerable and the innocent, orchestrated by those currently in power whose humanity has in many cases become increasingly debased? Or will it signify a new generation arising, whose values are not rooted in accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of our Mother planet, ready to challenge the structures of old order?
Thankfully, we are seeing strong evidence of the latter option arising already, as the new Saturn/Pluto cycle slowly begins and we move towards a new Jupiter/Saturn cycle at 0 degrees Aquarius, beginning at the winter solstice 2020. We need radical change, and we are going to have it over the next few years, one way or another…
The Big Why?
In contemplative moments such as this, poised in the stillness of a whole year’s Moondark, being temperamentally inclined to brood on questions most sensible folk prefer to avoid much of the time, I tend to return to The Big Why, and its attendant questions: Why are we here at all? What does it all mean? What am I to do with my small life?
It would appear from numerous surveys one tends to come across both in print and social media, that despite conventional religions losing ground, most people are just as inclined as they have ever been toward some sort of faith, some belief that despite its painful, turbulent dimensions life has meaning.
In times of suffering and turbulence, one of the great offerings of astrological knowledge, despite its being a double-edged gift with just as much capacity to scare us as to offer enlightenment, is a pointing through its symbols to something both collectively and personally meaningful going on. Looking through an astrological lens reveals patterns, not randomness.
Astrology is not a religion or a belief system – but it offers a clear lens through which to look out at the vastness of Mystery in which we exist, inviting us toward some form of belief that there is a bigger picture of which we are all part, however small.
Personally, I have found that lens to have been a vitally important tool on my own journey toward a deep faith that we are all part of the One; even the dreadful things in life which afflict us both collectively and individually are woven into a tapestry of meaning, at some level which we are too ill-equipped to comprehend.
I find it supportive and comforting to centre myself in that faith when times are tough for the world – as they certainly are right now – and for those to whom I am personally connected with bonds of friendship and of love.
And for myself. My dear Aquarian husband Ian died peacefully on 13th January, having been felled with shocking suddenness by a cerebral haemorrhage on 12th January 2020: the very day of the ending of the most recent Saturn/Pluto cycle in Libra under which we were married in 1982, and the beginning of this new one now taking shape. Apart from the shock and grief of his dying, I am awestruck by the fated power for us of that brutal timing.
For those of you who have been wondering why I have not posted here since 10th January, that is the explanation.
The uses of Moondark
Moondark at its best is a contemplative time: time to take stock both collectively and personally.
Humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.
Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.
It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the time from the Pisces New Moon each year to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us: to take stock of the year that was coming to an end, ponder our successes and our failures, our joys and our sorrows, and set some realistic intentions to pursue for the zodiacal year ahead.
Will you be taking stock? I certainly shall…
i) from ‘The Complete Poems and Plays of T S Eliot’, Faber and Faber Ltd 1969, p 98
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 writer.
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
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.”
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.
500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page