Pluto, Saturn, Uranus and COVID19

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New Zealand is now in our first official day of lockdown. Only grocery stores and service stations are open; only essential service workers are allowed to continue to work together. The human world is in crisis and we are trying to pause the effects of the pandemic here before it’s too late. I have to say, New Zealand is doing an exceptional job on this. It’s the most organised emergency I’ve ever experienced. We must be embracing Saturn.

I’ve seen a lot of articles about the astrology of this pandemic, about the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn – crushing society into transformational restructure, about the technological responses being very Uranus in Taurus.

Ever since Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, along with the last financial crisis, the economy has been under the crunch of Pluto’s penetrating and deep-reaching transformational machinations, and now with Saturn in its home sign of Capricorn, the restructure has been expedited.

Those of us who are sensitive can feel it in our bones. The earth, the earth signs, and the planetary forces are pulling us, compelling us to change. It’s painful, but it’s necessary. We cannot continue frittering away in these unsustainable systems. A crisis brings all our fault-lines to the forefront and exposes our shadows. Our collective darkness is leeching out, into full view, and so is our collective goodness.

On a personal level we can, and many of us have, been looking at how these outer-planet nexuses of transformation affect our own charts. What houses do they fall into? How do they relate to our personal planets in aspects.

As Saturn heads into Aquarius there’s also the wide open possibility of further revolution brewing. Many people are welcoming the social initiatives put in place in response to the pandemic to protect people and encourage better labour practices, banking and rental protections and so on. Insight Astrology has recently shared this piece on Saturn in Aquarius: activists and visionaries getting organised!

What are we learning from this challenging and potent time?

On a personal level, I’m learning to restructure my routine, working from home, caring for my child and writing fiction. This is a very Saturnian – hard work! I’m getting up at my usual time, even though I could sleep longer, so that I can do my regular routine (5 minutes of stretching and writing) before work, and I’m fitting in a walk (which we are allowed to do as long as we avoid other people), and then I’m making the most of the extra time in the evening from not needing to walk home from work, by fitting in a bit of extra writing. I’m used to fitting my writing around a hectic schedule, so I’m finding ways to maximise the new opportunities that come with working from home.

Also, on an even more personal level, I’m working with my wonderful Gestalt therapist on processing childhood trauma that has been triggered for me recently. This trauma has a particularly Plutonian quality. Pluto is not aspected in my natal chart, which makes it harder to access that particular shadow work, but I have Saturn and Mars in Scorpio, and the latter squares my Sun, which is a painful natal aspect to carry. This is a great opportunity to process my Pluto shadow stuff. It’s heavy and deep and terrifying, as only Pluto can be. I’m hoping to emerge from this with a new level of calm and a new level of awareness.

How are Pluto, Saturn and Uranus affecting you, and how are you coping with and/or making the most of this extraordinary time?

Awa and the Dreamrealm: why I wrote a lucid dreaming fantasy series for young people

Childhood anxiety, illiteracy, and floods of purple sparkly inspiration

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The rush of inspiration came in a flood of purple stars. I was in bed one night, about a year ago. I was falling asleep when I was struck with vision of a mystical glowing creature whispering suggestions for dreams into the ears of dreamers. More ideas flowed and pooled around this one, as I quickly turned on the light (apologising for disturbing my partner) and wrote everything down: dreaming is part of an evolution of consciousness, visions of sparkly purple stars… finding a sensitive child who could see the dream creature… sensitivity as a superpower.

Along with that rush of inspiration came the realisation that this was a book for young people and I’d never written a book for young people before. I felt suddenly compelled to write for young people, realising that fantasy books had played such a major role in my life. As a young person, I’d struggled so much with English literacy, after abruptly shifting from total immersion kura kaupapa, where Māori literacy was so intuitive, into an English-speaking classroom.

It turned out I had an undiagnosed learning disorder, but I wouldn’t figure that out until I was an adult. I was confused a lot of the way through my schooling. Not being able to read or write in English as an eight-year-old in a ‘normal’ schooling context in New Zealand was particularly painfully disempowering. I felt stupid and ashamed and truly believed that it was too hard, that I’d never learn, and that I’d have to find a career that didn’t involve literacy (not many options).

Getting obsessed with particular books was what helped my literacy the most. The first books I got excited about were actually Goosebumps – those spine-chilling tales by R L Stine which were so big in the ’90s. When I was nine, they were the most popular exciting fad, and all the kids wanted to read them. I got caught up in this wave of terrifying obsession and all of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I just really wanted to read.

At first it seemed impossible. It was so hard that I had to get my mother to help read to me (very begrudgingly because she hated those silly books). My first Goosebumps book was about a piano being played by a pair of disembodied hands, and with much persuasion, she would read me a chapter and then I’d read a chapter to myself. I struggled through the first book but my literacy skyrocketed aa I read a whole lot of other Goosebumps books.

My mother, hoping my tastes would mature and realising I liked fantastical things, got out The Hobbit from the library. I struggled with it too, painfully, but I adored the mythical world and cried when some of the dwarves died. Then I read some fabulous local books by Margaret Mahy and Gaelyn Gordon. In intermediate school I was reading Lord of the Rings, which was also a big challenge. But over that time my Literacy went from basically zero to the reading level of an 18-year-old by age 12.

I never planned to write a fantasy novel for young people until that flood of nocturnal, purple, sparkly inspiration came in. After that I realised I wanted to write something that would be relevant for New Zealand kids, that was both familiar and fantasy in a way that I’d rarely found in books. That’s why I loved Gaelyn Gordon’s books. They were just so fantastical: there were three cousin witches in Tripswitch, and mythical creatures that were inspired by local mythology in Stonelight and aliens that lived in your brain in and had magical powers in the Alfred Brown books. Those books made me bubble with excitement.

It was quite a journey going from feeling like I would have no place at all in society because I would never learn to read and write in English to my thrilling love of reading and the sense that I’d finally found places that I belonged even if they were inside the pages of books. I loved reading so much at intermediate school that I learned how to walk and hold books and read at the same time which is really quite satisfying in a way, though it turns out that’s not the ideal way to read (if you don’t like bumping into things, anyway).

Finding that love of books is something I want to share with other young people because I love the feeling of connectedness, of communion with something bigger, deeper and greater. I want to share the sense of meaning and empathy that people can get through reading. These things inspired me to write novels in the first place.

The other thing that came to me in the rush of sparkly inspiration that led to Awa and the Dreamrealm was a surprising sense of terror. It was that kind of fearful awe I get from thoughts of enormous sea creatures in the deepest ocean. And I was very confused about why this was happening. A couple of people I talked to suggested that this fear was part of the story.

The terror made me reflect on the extreme fears and anxiety that I’d experienced as a child, often through ordinary daily life activities. I still struggle with anxiety, and I’ve learned a lot of skills to manage it now, but as a child, I had no idea what it even was.

Anxiety is so invisible. It’s often silent. It’s often thought of as shyness or something else matching the external behavioural responses, but internally it’s extreme and painful and awful and paralysing. For me it is tightening in the chest and constricted breathing, and it was set off by so many things, being such a sensitive child. I’ve read that anxiety disorders in children are on the rise and that 11% of kids experience anxiety, compared to 3% with depression. I’m not sure if it’s actually on the rise or if people just never realised this was happening before.

I suspect that sensitive kids are more prone to anxiety and I wanted to explore this theme in Awa and the Dreamrealm. Being a sensitive person can also be a strength which is why the story kind of celebrates sensitivity as a special ability. I wanted that to be a kind of superpower, and I wanted to bring anxiety into the story in a way where it was both a challenge for Awa and an opportunity for her to develop resilience.

Children and teens have helped me write this book. My eleven-year-old daughter has been a wonderful editor, giving excellent advice. Some of her friends as well as other family members and other young people I’ve never met have read the draft and gave superb advice on how to improve it. I was relieved and excited that they not only read it quickly, but they all enjoyed it, related to the characters and connected with the story.

I started writing and the book bloomed and became enormous. I realised I was writing at least a trilogy, so there are now two more books to come. I think this will make it even more exciting because I wrote this book, in a sense, for myself as a ten-year-old and for other especially sensitive and imaginative, maybe slightly anxious, children. As a child I would have loved the continuity of having a whole series, not just a single book, to mitigate that feeling of sadness when you get to the end of the book and it’s over.

My wish is that Awa and the Dreamrealm can give something of the kind of literary magic that captivated me as a child, helping to boost my literacy to the point where I could eventually write a PhD thesis and novels. And perhaps another child like the past me will pick it up and see a little of themselves reflected in the story.

 

Awa and the Dreamrealm can be purchased online in ebook and paperback form, and from bookshops in New Zealand. 

Searching for the Temple

Modern Western culture is not good at dealing with grief.

We have these one hour funerals and then we go back to work.

We hide from the dark shadow of death, reaching desperately for the illusive light of immortality.

I lost a friend a few months ago, and while the grief was intense then, and I took time off work, and I cried and cried… it eased.

Now, these past few days it’s back.

Back, with the grint of Saturn conjunct Pluto and i’m noticing some things.

I’ve hurled myself into this series I’m writing – a lucid dreaming fantasy series for young people. Saturn has been squaring my MC and I’ve been determined to keep trecking up the hill towards publication.

When the grief came back I realised I had been carrying this emotion along with me, through the ambitious grind towards publication, and perhaps my determination was also avoidance of facing the emotion of grief and guilt and despair – not that it’s clear what else I would do with all that emotion…

I used to be heavily involved in organising our local regional Burning Man festival, and one of the things I loved about it was the Temple.

The Temple started years ago at Burning Man when a guy lost his close friend just before the event. He contemplated not going, but decided instread that his contribution to the participatory festival would be to build a temple – a monument to his friend; a place for grief. Others joined him and together they created a sacred space, beyond the bounds of religion: a space for grieving, for letting go, for hope and dreams and blessings. People sat, they shared, they wrote on the walls and left old journals, ashes, gifts. They cried. And then, at the end of the event, they burnt it, silently watching. Releasing all that pent-up emotion: a cathartic release.

Don’t go into the Temple if you don’t want to feel. I tended to avoid it for most of the festival, until I really needed Temple time, and then I would go and write and cry and sit with the feelings and have my own time to let go of whatever emotion or trauma I needed to dissolve.

I wish there was a temple in my everyday life, for when I need it. I have a computer to face, emails to check… thing after thing after thing… but sometimes I need Temple time, and a place to release my grief.

Re-writing your narrative this Mars retrograde

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It’s important to be deliberate and specific in what we want – often our stories have been shaped unconsciously. As a child you may have been told that you were lazy, selfish, useless, dumb, not creative, weak, pathetic… I know I was. It has taken me a long time to go over all these implanted limiting thoughts and re-examine them, discarding them when I realised that they were both untrue and harmful.

With Mars retrograde in Aquarius from now until September 2018, this is a great time to re-invent your story and re-write your narrative.  Words are spells, and the stories we tell ourselves about our lives are powerful in shaping our experience. Limiting beliefs often stand in the way of us accomplishing what we want and need to accomplish in our lives. In this post I will share with you my ritual for re-writing my narrative this Mars retrograde.

My Mars retrograde re-writing ritual:

  • First, write a re-cap of your story over the past few years focusing on what you have achieved, and how far you’ve come.
  • Second, because we have to be aware of what we want to transform, write down the limiting patterns and beliefs you are aware of in every area of your life – I did this focusing on the themes of each astrological house.
  • Thirdly, meditate on each area/house, and intuit what kinds of affirmations/messages you want to replace these limiting thoughts with.
  • The fourth step: be specific – for each of these areas make a list of very specific things you want to think, feel, see, and experience.

I have not quite gotten to step four yet but I will share my limiting patterns and affirmations below in case they are useful.

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Image from The Tiny Totem

1st house – feeling like I’m not good enough/not doing enough/not a good shining person

Affirmations: I am good enough – as I am – I am enough – I do enough – I shine and radiate warmth – I am good and whole – we are all good enough if only we can recognise it – I do well to be myself – I am proud of myself – I am a wonderful person – we are all wonderful beings – I am here to learn and share – I accept myself through and through. I love and approve of myself, 0 I am doing my best – we are all doing our best – I am whole and centred and full of light.

2nd house – not having enough, scarcity, fear of loss, financially disempowered, undervalued

I have enough – I am blessed with abundance – I am grateful to have everything i need and more – I have so much that I can share – I am generous and kind and giving with healthy boundaries – I am valued by others – I have strong values – I am secure in myself and my path. I have a fabulous income and I spend it on things that I value – I own just enough (not too much, not too little) – I have everything I need.

3rd house – lacking in confidence RE communication and esp in job interviews, fears about not being a good enough writer, frustrations with communication, meaningless communication, anxiety and unhelpful social media habits, wasting energy, dishonesty

I communicate confidently and with ease – I am intuitively guided to say what is best suited for the situation – I can be honest and open and safe by listening to my intuition on what is a good thing to say at the time – I listen to intuition – I come accross as competent and confident – I am a wonderful writer – people enjoy and appreciate and value my writing – I get lots ofgood and useful feedback – I communicate calmly and clearly – My communications are meaningful and I listen well – I am good at calming myself and centering myself in my body – I have healthy and productive communication habits – I use my time effectively – I integrate information and knowlegde to effectively share understanding with a wide range of people who are receptive to me.

4th house – Feeling frustrated/grumpy at home, and playing into power struggles with the child

I have a wonderful home-life – I am safe and comfortable and at-ease in my home – my home routines are good for my health and wellbeing – I spend enough time alone and looking after my needs – I nurture and noursish myself well – my home is beautiful and practical – I keep only the things I need, want, use and love, the things that enhance my life and bring me joy – my home is a solid foundation – My early life and family patterns have given me wonderful learning experiences and I process and let go of the emotion that no longer serves me. I live in healthy balance with my home and family, past and present. I take responsibility for my role and for my ability to help. I feel supported, connected, nurtured, and loved.

5th house – feeling insecure and anxious about creative exposure, fear of death through vulnerability/character assassination

I celebrate my creativity – I celebrate my creative work – I stand by my creative work – I feel good about my creative practice – I feel proud of my novels and other creative writing – I am comitted to my creative practice and to sharing it with the world in good ways – I have valuable things to say and my creativity helps me to share understanding with a wide audience – I am strong enough to stand in my vulnerability – I enjoy receiving useful feedback and let go of anything that is superflous to my needs – I understand that people project all kinds of things into what they read and I only take on-board what is useful for me – I am proud of my creative character and I am resilient. My creative practice is a balanced part of my life – I have a strong need for creative expression and I feel fulfilled in my creative practice – I share bravely!

6th house – feeling resentful/frustrated/disempowered about work, feeling like I ‘have’ to go there, rather than like I want to be there – feeling tired/low energy/afraid of exhaustion

I’m full of energy – the work that I do gives me energy – the work I do is meaninful and empowering – I am putting my skills and talents to good use – I’m contributing in a meaningful way – I work with great people – I enjoy my time at work – I love my work – I am healthy – I exercise well and eat nourishing food in balance with my body’s needs – I’m so grateful for my work – my work brings me joy – I’m satisfied with my income – I earn more than enough – I feel content and excited with my job – I do a great job with my work – I am grateful that I can be genuine at work, and be myself – I feel understood and appreciated and valued in my work – my work is in wonderful balance with my home life and my creative life!

7th house – judgement and negative projections about other people, including in close relationship and when we first meet. Feeling limited in ability for relationship with women, feeling inhibited.

I observe my own patterns and release myself from perspectives that do not serve me well – when I meet people I see the good in people and good is reflected back to me in my interactions with others – I am self-aware and notice my own patterns reflected in other people – my relationships are harmonious – I am happy and satisfied with my relationships – I am good at relationships – I feel free and empowered in my relationshipsI am present in a way that brings out the best in people – I enjoy my interactions with other people – I feel happy and excited and safe in relating to other people.

8th house – feeling disempowered, pattern of powerlessness and being made powerless by other people in positions of power, disempowerment with money

I am empowered – I stand in my own power – I am strong and brave and courageous – I explore my own mind deeply – I am in a process of continuous transformation and unfolding – I grow, heal, let go of what I no longer need, rest, and come back into blossom – I am in-tune with my own cycles – I am empowered in my body – I am empowered in my finances – I am empowered in my interactions with people – I am empowered in my sense of self – I am powerful.

9th house – fear of not being taken seriously because of spiritual ideas, getting stuck on ideas, not feeling like I live up to my ideals, inhibition when it comes to exploring, travel, adventure and new experiences – fear of the unknown and of risk, fear of publishing failure

I am wise and intuitive – I am brave and courageous – I explore the fronteir of my own mind – I step out of my comfort zone to grow – I am always learning and exploring – I am an excellent researcher – I have excellent perspective – my publishing is successful – I am exactly where I need to be right now – I have faith in life – I trust in my path and my journey
10th house – ambition and its attachment to my self-worth RE work status/title, fear of not achieving enough at work and in the world, fear of inneffectiveness, power struggles at work, feeling superior, fears of failing to achieve my publishing dreams, fears of public ridicule, feeling held-back by gatekeepers, feeling underappreciated and undervalued at work, confusion about career path

I am happy and satisfied with where I am in my career – I am excited about my career path – I am working towards achieving my dreams in an effective and practical way – Every day I take another step forward towards greater independence, greater success, and greater effectiveness in my career – I am valued and well-regarded in all my work areas – I meet the public in a way that is good for me – I clear my own path and make my own way in the world and I am also well-supported – I am good enough and I am doing enough – I am on my best path.

11th house – feeling socially isolated and disconnected, feeling like I don’t belong, outsider, hating parties and being socially awkward, hating small-talk, feeling superior to the masses to protect myself from failure/shame/humiliation/embarassment – fear of failure/shame/humuliation/embarassment.

I am worthy of love and belonging – I am connected to many groups of people – I am great at having interesting conversations with the people I meet – I am innovative and in-tune with new developments – I value other people – I feel comfortable in my own skin and can easily relate to other people – I am comfortable with myself – I find it easy to connect with people – my creative work connects with a wide audience that resonates with me.

12th house – patterns of avoidance and hypochondria, being sick in order to escape, opting out of things that make me uncomfortable, too much screen-time as a drug, too much junk food as a drug, the urge to surrender myself to another person in wild infafuation, feeling weak and hopeless, fear of inprisonment, fear of the shadow, fear of powerlessness, fear of the void.

I face the difficult parts of myself with loving kindness and acceptance, I face up to my fears – I face challenges with bravery and courage – I am strong in myself – I surrender only to my path and the present moment – I let go of the past – I am well – I am healthy – I am present – I fear hopeful – I have faith in life – I am powerful – I find power in silence, stillness, aloneness and in the void – I follow my intuitive wisdom to create harmony and balance in my life – I am good enough.

Nourishing life

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This modern world of convenience has made it easy to fill our lives up with junk food, junk entertainment and junk activities – so easy to be busy and yet so hard to find time to listen to deep intuition, to be present with loved ones and with ourselves, and to deeply nourish ourselves in all areas of life.

This, right now, is an opportunity for you to reflect on what nourishes you, and to break the patterns of things that do not.

How would it feel to have a nourishing career? Has anyone ever asked you that before? I’m sure no one has asked me. What would a nourishing career look like?

You’ve no doubt heard of nourishing food, and thought about what is healthy or unhealthy, but very few people manage to stick to ‘healthy’ diets, we often vacillate between feeling somehow more morally good from eating salad, to beating ourselves up over naughty choices. This is an opportunity to move away from a moralistic food paradigm and think of food in terms of the nourishment it brings: nutritional, comfort, pleasure, social… listen to your body, is this food somehow nourishing? Does it make you feel emotionally good? What are you fueling your life with? What are you really – deeply – craving… and why?

Is the material life you lead nourishing for you? Do you surround yourself with things, places, objects, clothing, etc that brings you joy? Perhaps scarcity stands in the way, but the survival instinct of scarcity/fear can also urge us to spend what we have on frivolous or vacuous things – things we want because other people have them – things other people think we should have. What kinds of purchasing decisions would you make if you only asked this question first: “Will this nourish my life?” ?

What does a nourishing relationship with money look like? It is likely a different dynamic from the one many of us were brought up with, where money was a power struggle, where scarcity stood in the way of what we really wanted, or thought we wanted in life. how would we feel about money if we re-emagined it as a nourishing flow from the social ecosystem into our lives? Would that change the way we spend and save? Would it make our relationship with money more positive and healthy?

What does a nourishing home feel like? How can our living spaces become more nourishing and nurturing? How can we nourish our living spaces so that they may better nourish us?

What about a nourishing emotional life? Which people make us feel nourished and nurtured? Which activities feed our souls? Many of us spend too much time on social media, cluttering up our minds with junk information and activities. Perhaps it’s time for a breather – a break – a deep breath and for more attention to now be paid to what feeds us deeply – what gives back to us when we put energy in, in a way that enhances our lives for the better?

What does a nourishing society look like? It is one in which we all have what we need and can support each other to flourish. How can we nourish society in order to make it more nourishing?

How can we change our narrative – the story we tell about our lives and the world inside our heads – into one that is more nourishing, inside and out?

This dark Moon in Gemini and Saturday’s new Moon in Cancer is an opportunity for you to reflect on what nourishes you, and to break the patterns of things that do not.

The tension of opposites

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Human beings are fabulous at creating false dichotomies and seeing opposites wherever we find contrast. It is perhaps due to our dual-nature. We are creatures with two eyes, two hands, two brain hemispheres. We are deeply attached to constructed dualities like ‘good and evil’, ‘nature vs nurture’, ‘night and day’, none of which are neccessarily opposites, or even mutually exclusive.

Jung’s conception of the tension of opposites fits with this framing, but it adds more depth to the pattern of dichotomy.

In a state of tension it can feel as if we are metaphorically pulling at one and if a rope. The other end may be held by someone with whom we disagree, whom we are fighting, or want different outcomes from a given situation. Alternately it may be a tension with nature, fate or a different kind of external thing. It could also be predominantly a tension of an inner kind where we are struggling against an parts of self.

Natal chart aspects, particularly squares and oppositions, tend to reflect the tension patterns we carry, that we then carry through into the external world.

Jung’s reflection on the tension of opposites illuminated that if we hold a tension long enough a ‘third way’ will emerge. This is an interesting personal practice when one feels deadlocked in a struggle, going round in circles, to quietly hold one’s ground and wait, patiently. If we stop struggling against the other, we change the dynamic.

Another way to change the dynamic, if possible is to let go the rope. This is particularly useful in personal struggles with another person that are destructive. It allows space to set healthy boundaries, however this may occur. It may mean stepping back and letting go, it may mean a break of contact, and even a stop to talking about andthinking about the other when ever awareness allows.

The change in behavior and perception works as a disruption to the dynamic, creating space to breathe and greater psychological freedom.images (1)

Shifting wind

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And just like that

The wind has changed

Blowing away the old dead ashes of yesterday
Sands shift
Beneath our feet
The Plutonic grit of yesterday’s irritation
Dissolving
Cloudy sky
Brooding miracles

Busy people
Rushing past
Missing the point in their hurry
Missing the patterns on the water
Missing the whisper inside of wisdom

Stop
Look
Listen

Feel out
What lies beneath
Our fear
Trepidation
Of the depths
Of potential

Wide open sky