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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.