Today, I've made the second part of a series dedicated to Saturn's ingress into Aquarius. In this video, I take a look at the last two historical transits of Saturn in Aquarius, Saturn's upcoming square to Uranus, and a preview of Pluto's entrance into Aquarius. I hope you enjoy it.
In the past few weeks, I've received many questions asking me when the astrology says the coronavirus will end, or when the economy will return, or when we will be released from quarantines, etc. I've resisted making a video focusing on the length of the crisis we are facing because in my experience the obsession over how long something difficult will last rarely helps. At the same time, it is a reasonable and practical question, and I know that many people are having a high degree of anxiety about it, and so today I've made a video exploring the timeline of Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto's interactions for the rest of this year.
Here’s what to watch for:
* This is a “let’s get real” kind of New Moon. Think: sober, serious, mature, disciplined, wise, grounded and committed.
* On the other hand, this new Moon says “this is what it is.” If you’ve been telling yourself a story about something and it’s just not so, or if you’ve been imagining something to be other than what it actually is, this is a new Moon that comes with the gravity and weight of Saturn.
* Ironically there is perhaps no planet more imaginative than Saturn. Saturn was traditionally associated with the deeply creative moods and the inner states of melancholics, contemplatives, and hermits. Why? Because imagination, spiritual or inner life, and altered states are all born within the confines of the mundane. They grow like sparks of distant light within its darkness. For ancient astrologers, Saturn was therefore related to both the mundane as well as the way in which a hard, cold acceptance of the mundane leads very swiftly to the simultaneous reality of spirit and imagination. For example, the first “noble truth” of the great liberation traditions is the reality of suffering. So when we say “Saturn is the real,” we can’t forget that Saturn is also the watcher on the threshold of the great beyond, the dark-robed ferryman standing at the edge of the ocean of suffering, beckoning us to the far shore.
Nowadays we spend a lot of time using Saturn as a placeholder for the “real” so that we can prop up the so-called transcendental/transpersonal realities of the outer planets, but this distinction is redundant when we study the sophisticated symbolism that ancient astrologers gave to Saturn (and really to all the planets, in general). Anyway, all of this is just to say that having an encounter with the “real” during this New Moon is part and parcel of the opening of spirit, imagination, the inner life, etc. When we live in denial of how things are, then we stand no chance to relate with depth, meaning, mystery, nuance, spirit, or imagination to the way things are…
* A huge stellium in Saturn’s sign is taking place just as Saturn has come home to its own sign for the first time in a long time. So how about that classic Saturnine word: responsibility. Responsibility is a complex thing. Most people don’t mind responsibility. In fact, responsibility gives us constant opportunities for the creation of meaning, intimacy, courage, nobility, and virtue. What most people mind is not being able to choose what they will be responsible for, or not knowing themselves well enough what kinds of responsibilities they can do gladly. Some say that responsibility is its own reward and that it doesn’t matter what we take responsibility for, but this is a dark and icy road to travel down. Many people in the world suffer, every day, from being born into circumstances they do not experience as having chosen, living lives filled with responsibilities they do not feel are freely selected, and it’s important to be real with ourselves about this fact. We shouldn’t act as though it’s ever as simple as, “cowboy up because responsibility is its own reward.”
On the other hand, many times in life we choose things that we think we really wanted, and then we become responsible for the consequences of our desires only to find out that we desired something from a place of ignorance. There is a temptation in such situations to quickly discard our dharmic responsibilities and to go after something new and shiny, all over again. This kind of mindless disregard for attending to the consequences of our choices is potentially just as ignorant as believing that responsibility, in and of itself, brings happiness.
All of this is to say…right now you might be recognizing more than ever what you’re responsible for, or what ignorance was at work in your choosing, and this can be entirely sobering (and painful). On the other hand, you might be recognizing that your heart simply isn’t in whatever you’re doing and that for you to be responsible to anyone or anything, your heart HAS to be on board from here on out.
* The other thing that goes along with Saturn and all this talk of responsibility is the need for recognition. Most people are willing to suffer tremendously if they think that whatever they are suffering for is worth it. We all have it in us to lift a pretty heavy cross if we think it provides us with an opportunity to get something we want. We are ambitious creatures, and we should be careful about what kind of recognition we desire right now. It may not be healthy for us in the long run. At the same time, even the noblest or most spiritual of ambitions cannot survive for long without some healthy recognition. Right now you might be needing more healthy recognition, and if that’s the case, don’t feel bad about it. We are too hard on ourselves for desiring affirmation from the world, from ourselves, from others, and most importantly from the divine. With Capricorn, it’s easy to forget that we are all still children in the eyes of God. We are all doing our best, and the need to be seen and affirmed, in the heart, for whatever spiritual work we set ourselves to is important. It is not a sin to ask for love. It is not a sin to need love. The great sin, the great illusion, is to believe that love is earned or deserved…it is not, it is given freely to whoever is open to receive it freely.
Prayer: Teach us the responsibility of freely loving ourselves and others, the ultimate “revolving door policy.” Teach us that honesty, pain, and suffering, are real…the real place from which we may always ask for real love.
* Today Saturn is at 22 degrees Sagittarius and some change. Saturn first entered the 22nd degree of Sagittarius around July 7th, via retrograde. Saturn always turns retrograde or direct when the Sun approaches a trine to it. So, as the Sun entered Leo Saturn started slowing down and finally stationed around August 25th, just after the Sun entered Virgo. It was then at 21 degrees Sagittarius. So, from early July to late August, Saturn had moved from the 22nd degree of Sagittarius to the 21st degree. That’s it!
* Since it’s station, Saturn has slowly started to pick up speed in its direct movement again. It grows faster and faster in its daily average speed as the Sun comes closer and closer to its conjunction with Saturn. Today is the 1st of October and Saturn is still just moving through that 22nd degree of Sagittarius, where it first entered back in early July.
* Saturn is meanwhile making a trine and sextile to Jupiter and Uranus as they oppose and now separate from each other.
* Perhaps one of the most silent players of this historic Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto dynamic is Saturn. As these revolutionary forces churn, Saturn has been focused, hardly moving, and in some ways conservative as ever, resistant or immovable as ever, saying, “not yet,” or “not so fast,” to every change we try to implement.
* Saturn has more to say than just the word, “no,” of course. Saturn’s engagement by trine and sextile with Uranus and Jupiter suggests, for example, that the kind of growth, expansion, and revolution that’s occurring right now involves a long and slow process of structural change, structural disintegration, and reintegration.
* Have you ever sat back and watched as some karma, some behavior, some pattern in your life is slowly dismantled, one slow and agonizing piece at a time? You recognize the changes that need to be made, but you also recognize that these changes can’t be forced. The changes will come as one consequence after another mount until there is no other choice. The change has become necessary.
* Saturn is the necessity of change. The long, slow, hard necessity of loss, or a decision, or a change of approach. Saturn in the mix of what’s going on right now invites us to zoom out and watch as the patterns are dismantled one after another, or as the healthy new you is built one painful brick at a time.
* Isn’t it amazing that we can sometimes watch something in our lives fall apart, one day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time, knowing we are somewhat powerless to do anything other than live through the slow, structural decay? But then other times it’s as though we’re given kindling and a match and invited to burn it all down, quickly and almost effortlessly, maybe even gloriously?
* One of the main reasons I study astrology, one of the reasons it called to me intially, is that astrology isn’t just a study of fate or destiny. It’s a study of the language of time. If we study the way in which changes take place, across different seasons of time, then we recognize that time is multi-faceted. There are different kinds of time, different seasons of time, different aesthetic qualities enfolded into the rivers of time. Saturn as one of the planets of time invites us to zoom out and see the slowness that built the structure and the slowness that takes it apart, one necessary brick after necessary brick.
* I’m struck by the way that time also plays with our sense of identity. For example, sometimes we say to ourselves, “I won’t be my best self until this or that era of my life is over. Until I’m out of this job or out of this relationship, or until I’m old, or until I’ve accomplished this thing I’m working on.” We are constantly aware of ourselves as something completely other than whatever we’re entangled with, and yet we will not allow ourselves to arrive at our own otherness until the work of time has earned us the right to say that we’ve arrived at otherness. The problem here is that we think that time is linear. We think there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. But what happens when we consider that time itself is never ending? What happens when we consider that all events in time are simply building structures whose natural destiny it is to eventually fall apart? Our waiting becomes eternal…. or eternity shines through the waiting….
Prayer: Shine your eternal light, hope, peace, knowledge, and love, through the valleys of time. May we arrive at our otherness, even as we watch empires build and empires decline.
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Meanwhile, let’s look at the Mercury/Pluto conjunction that’s being activated today by the Moon in Aries. Mercury will be conjoined with Pluto exactly as the day progresses, and as it perfects the Moon will simultaneously square the two planets.
Reflecting on the Mercury/Pluto conjunction this morning as I was watching my daughter recognize the sunlight and moving tree branches in the wind outside the window (sorry in advance for another baby reference–they will likely keep coming!), I started contemplating the “state of the world.” Global warming. Terrorism. Imperialism. Fundamentalism. Capitalism. Enough scary “isms” to make just about anyone want to crawl back up into the womb and call it a day. But then oddly enough I landed on an idea that suddenly seemed even more frightening than any of them…and that’s the idea that we live in a disenchanted and cynical world.
When I was in graduate school I got to read a great deal of modern and post-modern literature, and it took me a long time to let go of a good deal of cynicism that barnacled to my soul through that period. Nothing against the literature and art of that era, but I grew tired of the notion that only “real, sober, bleak, and broken or fragmented” views of the world or reality were more mature or wise. I heard many professors praise this kind of art as having come to terms with the world “as it is,” and not like the earlier romantics “wished it would be.” And so for a while I threw out my inspired, romantic idealism and tried on writers like Hemingway and artists like Picasso. Writers like Raymond Carver and David Foster Wallace. I was living alone at the time, in a wintry cabin in Michigan, my parents old house on my grandpa’s land, and this kind of dystopic “realism” in literature became like a form of spiritual renunciation. I drank alcohol, took drugs, wrote and read book after book, and felt more and more like my rejection of false positivity in the world was more noble, more true, and somehow more reasonable and artistically ethical than people who wasted their time chasing happy endings…or what Fransen called “Narnian dearness.”
Several years later, after working with ayahuasca very seriously, I had a ceremony where I finally came to terms with this period of artistic/literary cynicism. Very simply I saw a train of modern/post-modern artists all dressed in similar hipster looking outfits, men and women alike, and they were walking single file up the slope of an iceberg and then dropping one after another into the frigid black-blue waters of the ocean below, like lemmings. I heard that famous quote, “The beauty of the iceberg is that 9/10 of it is submerged below the surface,” and then I realized that each of the artists I loved were drawn to the reality of human coldness, like daring explorers at the arctic circle.
Then I saw myself back in my wintry cabin, studying the same darkness, veering closer and closer to the edge of the same “purposeful” self destruction iceberg, and at first I thought “yes!” “I’ve also been an explorer of the darkness. Because I’m brave enough to see past the superficiality..to get below the surface.” But then I remembered the drugs and alcohol, and then I literally felt the drugs and alcohol in my internal organs. And I heard a voice that said, “the means by which we see through illusions is light and truth, not more darkness.” And then I vomited up something that felt like a stomach full of pain pills and liquid that actually tasted like whiskey. Even though I hadn’t done any drugs in several years at that point.
Then the vision was gone and I was left with a string of insights. One, while it’s true that there is superficiality in the world, false positivism, false hope, and false images of happiness or wholeness, it’s also true that the only means by which we are able to discern the crookedness of those false positives is through the light of something straight and true. The Saturnine contemplation of pain and suffering is therefore deeply important…in fact it is something like an inescapable gravity, and we would be foolish to dismiss its value spiritually. By renouncing the false positivity, the endless ambitions and desires, we essentially say to ourselves, “images of worldly fulfillment mean nothing to me…they are fruitless.”
However, if this renunciation becomes nothing more than a new image, a new vogue, a new style, or a new way to prop up the ego, then it’s more likely we see the extra paraphernalia…things like bottles of alcohol sitting on the book case, hipster apparel, and the idolization of a broken or fragmented world. Saturn’s view in a sense becomes God or an end unto itself, and we forget the light by means of which we see through Saturn’s point of view in the first place. We end up marching off the iceberg like lemmings, without any recollection of the light that has illuminated the abyss below.
Somewhere in the middle of all this there exists an appreciation for happiness, joy, goodness, and wholeness while simultaneously embracing the limits, decay, and falseness of the world. CS Lewis, answering critics similar to Fransen (who criticized his Narnian dearness) said that “a heap of broken images” was itself an image that needed breaking. Lewis also wrote, “the acceptance of loss..combines itself in two “Ways,” the romantic and the ascetic, the affirmation and rejection of images.”
So, as Mercury and Pluto are coming together in the sky today, it’s quite natural for us to be contemplating the deeper, darker, truths. It’s natural for us to have to come to terms with some level of illusion or delusion that we’ve been entertaining. It’s quite natural for secrets, deceptions, betrayal, or hidden material to come up. It’s quite natural as a result for us to want to renounce elements of falseness in ourselves, in others, or in the world at large. It’s quite natural for us to feel that we’re living in a heap of broken promises and broken images. It’s quite natural for us to feel that this is a wiser or deeper point of view. But let us not forget the light by means of which what is hidden comes up right now. Let us not forget the light by means of which the darkness offers its enduring truth and treasure. Let’s not forget that this moment of revelation isn’t the end game…so we can’t go building a temple to falseness just because we believe it’s more true. That’s a bitter pill, and often the temptation of a Mercury/Pluto/Moon combination.
This morning when I thought of the bleakness of the world, I feared for my tiny little daughter. “What kind of world have you come into, little one?” Then I paused because I could see her seeing the light outside, and it made me remember the light by means of which I was asking the question. The light by means of which my fear is indeed valid and “real.” And as she smiled looking at the light, the gentle fingers of the trees blowing in the wind, the sound of wind chimes clanging gently, I smiled with her.
Prayer: Help us to remember the light by means of which difficult truths are revealed or understood…so that love and light may increase in a world that needs real joy and real hope.
I don’t think so, and I’ll try to explain why as simply as possible.
Before I do that I feel like I should acknowledge the concern about the negative language or mood of the essential dignities at a deeper level. Yes, they can be used prescriptively. In fact they can come across like curses if they’re used in the wrong way. They can sound like fundamentalist jargon, and they can really hurt people when they’re used like psychic weaponry or ill-fated omens, or whatever else.
On the other hand, here are a list of simple reasons I’ve personally decided that astrology still needs them (though I respect people who don’t use them).
While it’s true that astrology is always evolving, sometimes it’s better to stick with the insights of several thousand years worth of astrological history and not try to reinvent the wheel. When we look at the debilitated planets in our birth chart we’re always gaining some of the deepest insights into our relative strengths and weaknesses. And while it’s always great to turn lemons into lemonade, sometimes the real gift of a chart comes through accepting, truly accepting, our limitations rather than trying to recast every challenge as a “blessing” or “gift in disguise.” Sometimes we just need to get a little more accepting about words like negative, difficult, bad, or challenging. We’ve become so allergic to these kinds of words in astrology that sometimes the only way to treat our allergic pacifism is with small doses of the very things we despise…some good old malefics, fallen planets, and debilities.
James Hillman liked to say that all psychology begins with pathology. That the deepening of the soul and the awakening of the psyche happen through our problems, not our heroic strengths. He also liked to say that friends generally sit down to discuss life’s issues, and that intimacy is forged through the sharing of issues not virtues.
In some ways we need to do something like a soul retrieval for astrology. If astrology becomes allergic to the language of problems, then we lose the entry point for the soul.
For example, I find it ironic that many astrologers I’ve met will talk about the “toxic” language of debilities and yet speak of the south node like it’s the mark of our original sin, or the journey of the soul as though its core mythos is about the “fall from union with god and its eventual redemption.” Prescriptive metaphysics based in problems but no taste for an ancient astrological language whose insights about problems are far older and more time tested than the those evolutionary theories whose origins are relatively new…this is an irony worth reflecting on at a deeper level.
Again, this isn’t to discount or discredit any school of thought, but rather to illuminate why the use of debilities can still be tremendously helpful. Tradition is too easily discarded in the name of cheapened ideas about evolution. There is room for the intelligent and compassionate/wise use of many different languages in astrology.
2. The fascism of positivity
After a decade of drinking ayahuasca my experience of positivity is that its just another state of mind to potentially get attached to…it’s just as hard to let go of it and entertain ideas that are more difficult to swallow as it is difficult to let go of chronic drinking or smoking. Included in the range of difficult ideas that we are often forced to accept as “part of reality,” is the experience of limitations, things we cannot change, pain and suffering, mystery, things not working out as we hope or wish for, death, unfairness and cruelty, many gods versus just one all unitive god, no redemption or resolution to the problems of life or existence, abandonment, betrayal, etc. Not only does the language of debilities help us to see most clearly the places that are similarly difficult to accept, but they also help us to see where there is help or alleviation or relief from these difficulties through planets or places in the chart whose positions are relatively or contextually stronger and healthier (so to speak). Again, we don’t need to do away with the language of debilitation or make lemons out of lemonade when we start with a basic acceptance of the darker faces of the psyche. We don’t need to feel doomed and ill-fated unless we start off with too much attachment to the idea that our life SHOULD be rosy or redemptive. It’s as though spiritual ambition has cloaked itself in compassion with some of these complaints about debilities and then by its disguise tried to play the role of the saving hero. In fact, we should very seriously consider the idea that it’s just the opposite and that astrology has gone through something of a soul-loss because of its inability to utilize the traditional language of astrology with care from the get-go.
Just because people cheat at cards, doesn’t mean the answer is to throw out the game of cards. The cruel or cursing/damning and prescriptive use of the ancient astrological language is the problem, not the theory or the language itself. This is a crucial point that is purposefully ignored for the sake of a kind of false astrological heroism or progressiveness. Too many astrologers have built their careers on trying to look like the “nice guys” in contrast to the nasty “old school” astrologers, and it’s both unimaginative and soul sucking to our very diverse tradition.
3. Anything can be used mindfully
I want to go back to honoring the complaint, because again I think that our problems are the entry point for soul. This persecution of debilities feels ironically saturnine to me. It feels as though the old devil is up to his tricky ways…using one of his favorite tools, “the scapegoat,” to get us to believe he is something he isn’t. Tricky old devil! But isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it amazing to think that the most pointed dismissals of planetary debilities may come from a debilitated point of view? Isn’t it possible that the old task master himself just grew sick of people always blaming him for their problems? Can’t we imagine Saturn (the great malefic) coming up with the idea that the language of debilities are all together poisonous and archaic? Isn’t that sort of the heavy-handed “problem” with Saturn…he can’t ever really get past his problems with his problems.
James Hillman also once wrote, about Saturn, that we get the most out of Saturn when Saturn comes to terms with his problems with problems. When Saturn can finally take himself to task then, as the alchemists said, “the blackening of the black occurs.” The poison becomes an archetypal reality rather than a literal problem needing literal solutions.
Again..it’s not the language, but the way we use it. Like Jupiter in its fall in Capricorn…we are quickly corrupted by our overly ambitious perceptions of virtue and goodness.
So for all of these reasons, I’ve come to embrace the poetic depth that the mindful use of debilities and dignities can give to the birth chart. I’ve come to take up the challenge of using these classifications as creatively as I can. Maybe someday I’ll feel differently about them, and I certainly respect the great debate that our field holds on the subject, but for now this is where I’m at.
I hope this is interesting and useful for everyone–I felt compelled to write since I received several emails inquiring all at once!
Of all the planets in our astrological pantheon, Saturn may be the planet most appropriately named, “the god of opposites.” As the planet who lived at the farthest edge of the known solar system, Saturn was the negater, the one who gave identity, particularity, and boundary to each of the other planets through his negations, his “no’s” and his oppressive linear and logical rigidity. Through every planet’s relationship with Saturn the archetypal field of a planet finds its limits and definition. It’s inherent archetypal duality that can’t help but be discovered when it relates to the god whose natural disposition is to oppose or observe. For example, it’s through the lens of Saturn and its relationship with the Sun that we can define the sun as (among other things) “self” focused. The Sun centralizes, radiates from the center, and holds together, and we can say these things because of Saturn’s nearly invisible presence within these descriptions. The word “centralizes” implies Saturn as the planet at the edge (NOT the center). The word radiate implies a movement from center outward, which implies Saturn as the planet that takes things inward and downward (a contrasting image of death and decay or inertia). The phrase “holds together,” similarly implies Saturn’s “taking apart,” or Saturn’s destruction or decay.
Through Saturn we come to understand the Sun’s unique qualities, its distinct character, and as a result an archetypal landscape emerges with its own unique hills and valleys, rivers, lakes and streams. Without this implicit power of Saturnian opposition, we also wouldn’t be able to differentiate between particular oppositional images within the archetypal realm of the Sun. For example, an inflated ego and a generous, glowing goodness. As the ruler of boundaries and opposites, it’s Saturn who creates these distinctions and rules over both sides of them equally (remember that Saturn is exalted in Libra, the sign of the scales).
Many attempts have been made to transcend or leap beyond Saturn’s duality. But these attempts are already being made in the same Saturnian spirit of duality. A “problem” with Saturn is already Saturn, since Saturn is the inseparability of the poison and the antidote. People who live with this inseparability, who are cognizant of it, are sometimes called melancholic. There is a kind of weighty, depressive feeling of inevitability and inescapable angst. Nothing virtuous isn’t also a vice and there is no vice that isn’t also a virtue. Deep within this unavoidably paradoxical structure is the knowledge of decay and impermanence, as well as the infirmity or sickness of the soul whose end is drawing near. The scales in the hall of the dead are in sight. Saturn’s gift to us is the ambivalence of old age, available to us at any time, not just in literal old age.
At the same time, people who rage against the inseparability of the opposites, always looking for an answer or some kind of absolute freedom, are driven by Saturn who is a ruthless taskmaster…whose work is the never-ending slave drive through the valley of tears. When the Buddha said in his final instruction that all things decay, or that experience is disappointing, and through vigilance you succeed, was he not giving us a kind of Saturnine secret? Perhaps it’s possible for us to see these final words as that “golden mean” extracted from the lead of Saturn. No escape. Only a disposition that we can take toward and within the dance of the opposites will keep us from being consumed too quickly by the dragon whose already eating us. The wisdom we think we have gained about anything (the antidote) is inseparable from the poison (the problem we found wisdom for). With this understanding (which is also Saturn’s wisdom) there comes a kind of reflective sense of humor, an ability to see things upside down, or to see through the literalness of one side to its roots in the other. We don’t escape poisons or antidotes, neither their contradictions or their paradox, but rather we see through them to their basis in the imaginal. Saturn is hence the god of inevitability…no escape…the limits and walls, the negation of death and decay, the collapsing of opposites into the imagination as well as their battles that ceaselessly create “the real world ‘out there.’”
Saturn is also the scapegoat. He is the one to blame for the fundamental feeling of these opposites. He is the one to blame for the hard divisions that make lead out of our perceptions. He’s responsible for these hardening opposites. So we blame Saturn. But in this blame, we are also already in the grip of one of Saturn’s dual expressions: blame and responsibility. “Experience is disappointing,” said the Buddha, which is an assignment of blame (the word blame means something like to rebuke or express dissatisfaction with), but “through vigilance you will succeed,” which is a statement of responsibility. Our relationship with the opposites is both disappointing and provoking of our attentive, mindful and responsible participation. Saturn is both the disappointing inevitability of our existence as well as the charge to be here for it and to work into its tensions with mindfulness to their absurdities, contradictions, and paradox.
As Saturn ruled “the golden age,” there is also a wisdom to the oppressing endlessness and inevitability of living within duality. Through our entrance into decay and impermanence (Saturn’s domain), through entrance into oppositional consciousness, we see into the nature of limitation itself, so that limits become limited. This is why Saturn is also the ruler of both Capricorn and Aquarius, and this is also why James Hillman aptly pointed out that a fine “ruler” for the field of astrology itself was Saturn. When we know the limits of limits, these contradictions and oppositions are no longer a problem to be solved but rather terrain to be described in the language of symbol. Reality is not a matter of ultimate metaphysical origins or destinations, for seeing through both there is no beginning or end, a timelessness permeates time and space, universes endlessly creating and dying. The freedom of Saturn is the compass, the map, and the drawing tools. The freedom of Saturn is the paranoia of liberating humor, and imaginal antidote to the imaginal poison (the musical ‘laws’ of the imaginal spheres realigns our ‘literal’ problems, returning them to the imagination and timeless time).
Is it possible that Neptune’s discovery, as a psychic event in human history, coincides with an emerging awareness of Saturn’s own limits? This would not mean that Neptune “goes beyond Saturn,” for this is again the language of Saturn speaking, but rather that Saturn goes beyond WITH Neptune. Does our consciousness now have a special understanding of the limits of limits? Does this not give “shape” to the unconscious, to the unbound, to the imaginal itself? Does not Saturn’s relationship with Neptune create a conundrum for consciousness? No longer are we creatures striving for transcendence from the opposites, but rather we’ve grow into an awareness of the inevitability of both “the problem of the opposites” and the imaginal in which they are rooted and continually expressed.
The best example I can think of comes from my decade’s work with ayahuasca, which for a long time I viewed in strictly saturnine terms: ayahuasca is a door to consciousness beyond the opposites. This knowledge of the “realm beyond the opposites,” was, of course, Saturnine from the beginning, though I would have thought of it as Neptunian at the time. Eventually, through many years of participation, the problem with the opposites and the continual need for release, healing, transcendence, purgation, etc, became to my sight the old devil Saturn, taking me for a ride. The devil card in tarot. Needlessly chained to a chronic problem, all the while calling it a solution. Ironically everything I had ever heard about the “medicine” being an evil drink, a drink of dark forces and powers, a seductive practice, etc, was instantly true. It was also, false. But before I would have never been able to see both sides of Saturn’s face..the poison and the antidote alike.
This led me to let go of my devotion and practice with ayahuasca, which, over time, led to an entirely different perception of both Saturn and Neptune. I feel more Neptunian now that I have ever felt since ending my ayahuasc practice. More in touch with the shape and character of the unbound imaginal, with the timeless and eternal, and yet also deeply aware of the fact that this unbound/imaginal has its own face. Namely my own and the worlds I inhabit. But others too. Saturn’s gift to Neptune and Neptune’s gift to Saturn are one and the same expression…the distinct character of the imaginal, the timelessness of the opposites. Real imaginal problems with imaginally real solutions. A precise kind of freedom. Not just “you create your own reality,” but also “reality creates your own you.”
Now step back from all of this…and don’t take the bait. These thoughts are the expressions of Saturn and Mercury stationing as Saturn squares Neptune. No escape from oppositional tensions. No big answers that aren’t also poisons. These are imaginal longings distilled through my mind’s “problems.” But of course, that’s one idea I’m apparently committed to…the art of the astrologer is to sing the music of the spheres in such a way that others might find this moment’s reality reflected in eternity. Because I’m bound by problems and in love with them.
Prayer: the precise music of our problems…
Image by courtesy of Joe DeSousa, at creative commons image licensing