Today the Moon and Sun synch up in Sagittarius and we begin the last lunar cycle of 2015. What a year it’s been, and what a year we have to look forward to in 2016.
Today’s cycle begins with a superior/dominant square from Jupiter to the Sun and Moon, and since Jupiter is the ruler of the Sun and Moon, this means our cycle begins with a very powerful Jupiterian theme. Whether that means good luck, positivity, and faith, or unexpected benefits and support showing up to assist, the opening of this Moon cycle has a good feeling to it. Especially considering the fact that as the cycle begins Mars has just completed it’s difficult aspects to Pluto and Uranus. In some ways the worst of some recently stressful times might be behind us now, while an aura of hope and trust is returning just in time for the holidays and new year.
Another way of looking at this configuration has to do with the realization of goals or the influence of eminent or special people, teachers, or leaders. Jupiter as the guru or the sage or minister has a powerful and mostly positive effect on things right now. So if we’re seeking clarity or feeling anxious about something, now is a good time to “see the great man/woman,” as the I Ching says.
But this brings up a deeper question. Is it a good thing to have teachers? Isn’t it better to have a broader school of thought or belief, a larger doctrine or “way” that we follow, rather than trusting or following or learning from someone individually? Obviously there isn’t a single answer to this question, and obviously the two sides aren’t mutually exclusive. Still, given the presence of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune in a mutable t-square right now (and they have been in this pattern for a while now), we might find ourselves asking whether or not individual teachers or broader schools of thought are more suitable for us.
I’ve always personally been a “school of thought” kind of guy. I study larger or broader “areas” of religion, astrology, philosophy, and so forth. However, last year after my kickstarter I began a horary apprenticeship that is one on one with a colleague, and gradually I’ve found that there is tremendous value in studying one on one with someone. In the past year, perhaps as a bi-product, I’ve begun teaching more individual/private apprenticeships than ever before. And though my teacher is by no means a “guru-y” type, and I’m not either with my own students, it’s become apparent to me that something essential is lost in the democratization of education. Because we study in “departments” we often lose mentors. Because we consider objectivity to be a perennial value, we often lose the opportunity to receive instruction from people who are more philosophically committed to a particular or slightly more subjective way of doing things (whether it’s astrology or acupuncture or yoga, etc).
In most religious traditions all over the world, not just India, the need for actual, personal, mentorship in almost any craft or disciple is a social norm, but here in the “western” world, I think we’re so touchy about our personal freedom that it makes it harder for us to submit ourselves to or find good teachers. It’s as though we’ve forgotten that some people do in fact have more knowledge about something than we do. Or it’s as though we assume that to be “below” someone in a learning process only means to be degraded. We’ve forgotten that tutelage also invokes protection, guidance, support, and blessings.
It’s as though just because a teacher might be flawed, or we may not agree with every single thing they say, we leap to the opposite extreme and say, “we’re all just students in this thing together.” And while that’s not a false statement, doesn’t it sometimes feel contrived?
Of course our teachers are human. Of course we’ll disagree. Of course we shouldn’t degrade ourselves or be degraded. Of course we all have something valuable to offer. Of course our own thoughts and ideas should be respected. But the hyper defensiveness around all of this can also keep us from knowing how to enter into and benefit from actual teacher/student relationships. The hyper defensiveness is like someone who can’t stop talking and thinking long enough to actually consider (to reflect upon the stars of) what a teacher is guiding us to consider.
When I first started working with the I Ching, for example, I used to hate it when the I Ching wouldn’t give me the answer I wanted, and so I would twist or distort the meaning of the reading to something I felt good about. Similarly, in graduate school when I would receive workshop criticism about my writing, I would often discard it instantly because of a variety of excuses I would make either for myself or regarding my classmates or teachers, or whatever. One time during an ayahuasca ceremony, the plant spirits just straight up told me, “You’re never going to get anywhere unless you learn how to receive criticism, commit to your studies at a deeper level, and find teachers you admire as having more knowledge or mastery of something compared to yourself.”
The word “mastery” is a trigger word for us. Because we’re told when we’re very young in our educational system that everyone is unique, everyone is talented, everyone is equal, and thus all ideas, because they reflect unique individuals, are also essentially equal.
So, as we begin this cycle, it’s a good time to reflect upon these themes. If we’re someone who simply can’t do without a teacher, then maybe this isn’t the message of the day. But if you’re like me, then I suspect these reflections might be useful. Are you committed to your studies, your craft, or your calling in life? Do you have a good support system of teachers or mentors? Are you able to submit yourself or your work to objective listeners or people who may know more than you do about whatever it is that you love to do? This Jupiter themed cycle offers great benefits for us in terms of restoring within us a love and respect for the role of teachers, ministers, mentors, and role models.
It’s so tempting to eliminate these roles from our lives, simply because we’ve faced disappointments in the past, or because we’re too proud or certain about our own capacities.
Prayer: May the role of the teacher, guide, mentor, minister, and leader be restored or revived in our lives in positive ways right now…and if we are a mentor, guide, or leader, then renew within us our commitments and our patience. Deepen our wisdom, and reinvigorate the love we have for those we serve.