This morning during my meditation and prayer time, in light of my Grandfather’s death yesterday, I decided to ask the Bible for insight regarding the astrological nature of death and the soul’s “timing.” The practice of randomly opening the Bible with a question in mind is something I’ve been doing since Bible summer camps as a kid…long before I had any concept of “divination.” It just seemed to me like a great way to get an authentic response from God, or angels, or something divine, and it still works for me in the same way today, to the extent that I use the same technique with the I Ching, the Tao Te Ching, and other sacred scriptures.
The verse that came back was Mark 13: 32-37: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come, it’s like a man going away: he leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!”
On first glance the verse seems to clearly state that the timing of death is fundamentally not knowable, and not predictable to human beings. The soul’s timing in death is God’s timing, and the only thing we can do is live in the moment, filled with humility and conscious watchfulness.
But then the teaching shifts to an allegory. A man leaves his house and puts his servants in charge…each with an assigned task, and the one at the door is told to keep watch. Then the teaching of the verse equates the return of the master of the house to a reckoning moment…one where we surely do not want to find ourselves asleep.
The language of this passage raised my eyebrows because my question had been for an understanding about the “astrological” nature of death and the soul’s timing. So while the first part of the passage seems to suggest that the timing is unknowable, the second part invokes astrological language about houses and the rulers of houses going out from and returning to their home places. This led me to an investigation of my grandfather’s birth chart, and his current transits. Sure enough, I found that the ruler of the place of death, Saturn, is in an exact return to its natal position–his third Saturn return.
It’s tempting to deduce some kind of astrological “rule” or reductive metaphysical or theological teaching from this verse, but I think that would be missing an incredibly simple point: the timing of death may or may not be fully knowable, may or may not be fixed in stone or stars, and so our best option is to stay present, stay conscious, stay alert, and stay committed to the spiritual work at hand (love, peace, patience, kindness, etc). The divination points to both the importance of staying present as well as the idea that death carries the mark of a “meaningful return.” The master of the house does make a return and checks in on the work of his emissaries and delegated workers…
Today I’m taking time to sit with the mystery and meaningfulness of death…and I’m reflecting on the health of my “house,” praying for the mindfulness to keep it clean, bright, joyful, grateful, and ever present!
Prayer: “What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!”
Mark 13: 37