Eating death: Pluto, the underworld, and petroleum based pesticides

Because of my research on food sovereignty, I have thought a lot about pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. People talk a lot about ‘organic’ food, but this mostly means food that hasn’t been grown with petroleum based products. These products are designed to either kill insects, bacteria and fungi, or to add nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous to the soil to compensate for the depletion caused by intensive agriculture. It’s obviously not very sustainable, but it has become ‘normal’.

On a symbolic level this is interesting because for several reasons. The first is that pesticides were primarily developed during World War II for purposes of chemical warfare (Mars/Aries)… so the obvious thing to do, after the war was to put this stuff on our food, and eat it, right? The intense driven energy and economic activity had to be channeled somewhere after the war, and it tended to veer towards the domestic sphere (Cancer/4th house), into more advanced home appliances and into the ‘green-revolution’ of industrialised mono-cultural agriculture. Women became the main consumers, along with the rise of the middle-classes, and the modern ‘traditional’ housewife was born. Meanwhile our food has become more uniform, ‘cheap’ in comparison to the energy expended to attain sustenance at any other time in history, and imminently more toxic.

The second reason it is interesting symbolically is related to petroleum itself, which is connected to Pluto, Hades and the underworld. Fossil fuels are exactly that – the fossilised remains of an old dead world. It it the world’s stored energy and it’s intensely powerful. We are extracting it, burning it up and making all kinds of useful things out of it (plastic, for example), in order to ‘advance’ (Uranus) at unprecedented levels. I have a feeling that we have no idea what we are really doing here, but it doesn’t seem very wise. In putting petroleum based pesticides and fertilisers into our food we are symbolically eating death. Thoughts?

Forgive life: Neptune squares my natal Chiron


I don’t quite know how this one snuck up on me, although it does make sense considering Neptune is so elusive and my natal Chiron is in the 12th house of hidden and subconscious things. Perhaps I should have noticed when the stability I had been enjoying since my Saturn Return seemingly morphed into what feels like several months of PMS. I was feeling SO emotional, but couldn’t cry. I even resorted to watching the sad parts of kids movies and Thai life insurance ads (the saddest ever) just to force the tears to flow.

Neptune in a difficult aspect is a lot like a big dissolving/yearning/dream/delusion/spell which can feel impossible to live through and chiron is all about being wounded and healing, so there are some obvious emotional ramification here, but because this transit surprised me, I googled it to see what else the internets could tell me: not very much and came across a Saturn Rising post of an interpretation except (not sure where from) that resonates deeply:

The deeper meaning underlying the depressed emotional state
you are likely to experience is a need to face, understand, and
let go of the pain of the past. You may be clinging to hurtful
experiences in ways you have not realized, storing them up
and nursing an unconscious sense of grievance and mistrust
which may be secretly affecting many of your decisions and
responses to other people. It is not that your past experiences
are unimportant, or that your unhappiness is or was unreal.
But right now you are being challenged to find the capacity to
forgive life for not meeting your expectations. If you can see
where your idealization or unrealistic expectations might have
led you into disappointment, you could go a long way toward
healing these past wounds. Also, you may need to learn to
accept life as it is, rather than as you wish it could be. The
proverbial choice of perceiving a glass of water as either half-empty
or half-full applies to you now. If you see life only in
terms of its unfairness, you will become bitter, cynical and
martyred. If you see it only as wonderful, or maintain spiritual
convictions which are too simplistic or naive, you will be
disillusioned when life turns out to be more complex than you
thought. But if you see it as a mixture of dark and light, and
can be flexible enough to accept both, you will be able to find
the resources to cope with the dark while enjoying the light.

Despite being a glass-half-full person already, I could make some more ground with forgiving life. Faith is something I found, as a child, out of desperation. I was raised as an atheist, and got lost in the forest when I was eleven and prayed to every god I had ever heard of. I found Jesus at camp a few months later and converted to Christianity, then dropped it in favor of polytheistic paganism in my teens when I needed magic the most. Gradually, I let that go too, as I found my own power and needed gods and goddesses less and less. My spirituality evolved into an experiential one, moment to moment, interconnected with everything. The beliefs I have now, I am less attached to, they are lenses: tools for gaining clarity, wisdom and understanding… and yet, over the past few months I have felt this tugging absence of faith.

Feeling confused about my life, anxious about not knowing what the hell I’m doing, I have been intellectualising too much – trying to think my way out of feelings of powerlessness. Feeling frustrated with Uranus on my Midheaven, squaring Pluto in my seventh house, I have been going around in circles into brick walls trying to figure out what to do about my ambitions and relationships… I have been getting stuck on “how?” – the impossible question, when one is walking in the dark. I have been willing myself to have faith. I have been trying… but I don’t think I can find faith in desperation anymore… I think I have to find it in letting go… in forgiving life.

When I was fourteen I chose to write my school speech about forgiveness. It seemed like an important thing at the time, I remember a quote I found in my youth bible: “resentment is like a hot coal in the palm of your hand – the longer and tighter it is held, the deeper the burn, bitterness will leave a scar than even time cannot heal.” – That was when I was learning that forgiveness isn’t about letting someone/thing off the hook, it’s about releasing yourself from pain. I have been progressively seeking out and releasing pain from old wounds, releasing myself from depression, working towards forgiving specific people, but I haven’t yet framed it in terms of ‘forgiving life’. Life is hard and often painful; it’s complex and beautiful and joyful; it can be agonising. Life is full of injustices and unfairness, of vulnerability and betrayal, of being hurt, of fear and powerlessness. Life is a big thing to forgive.

Neptune is all about dissolving, and combined with Chiron there is a great opportunity to both dissolve into pain and woundedness and to dissolve from it – to release it. Towards the end of my last Neptune transit I started writing a poetic journal: “The art of dissolving.” I think I will go back to that now, especially as Neptune is also opposing my Venus and I need a positive creative channel to avoid getting lost in a lower-Neptuanian ocean of spaced-out yearning. In these moments of unreasonable despair I will allow this emotion to come up and affirm the thought that is bringing in light and space right now: forgive life.

write a list

I haven’t been living in the forest for a while…

The Forest

‘Living in the forest’ is a metaphor that I drew from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés‘ monumental book ‘Women who Run With the Wolves’. The final story of the Handless Maiden is a journey of deep and total transformation, the healing part of this takes place over seven years of living in a forest. When I began this blog I was living in a forest and I was undergoing deep transformation and healing, so it seemed an appropriate title. The last two years (at least) have been overwhelmed by thorough psychological restructuring: Saturn in Scorpio, for me, especially by a very long Saturn return before it squared my Sun. It’s now right on top of my natal Mars.

For the past six months I have been sporadic with blogging. I’m trying to write my doctoral thesis, and I moved out of the forest and into the small coastal township nearby because I had been struggling to focus living where I was. To some extent I’m still ‘living in the forest’ in the self-work that I’m doing: in the processing and journalling, but in some ways I always have been doing this work.

I don’t know where I will live next or what I will do. Part of my recent processing has been about coming to terms with uncertainty and change – which are actually the only constants in life. For a long time I clung to the prospects of security – of owning property, of safety, of regular income… but while these things can be nice, they are not actually security or certainty, because that’s not a real-life thing, it’s a fantasy. Over the past two years everything has changed. I don’t want the same things and it surprises me. I don’t know why I want the things I do want, or why I’m drawn to the places that now seem so appealing. Even more surprising is my sense of stability and the noticeable absence of emotional trauma from my daily lived experience. I suppose these are some of the rewards of Saturn in Scorpio work. Anyway, I will continue to blog (more) regularly, because these sacred, private things are important to share, and because that seems to be a part of my journey.

The state, the market and astrological politics of the 4th and 10th houses

image

I have been reading anarchist democratic theory for my thesis and the parallels between the 4th and 10th houses and the state and market keep coming back to me. Neoliberals want the market (10th, father) to rule – conservatives want this too but it is the other side of the 10th that appeals to them (control, structure). Neoliberals want a society of competition and progress (there is a Mars/1st element here too), conservatives want a society of rules and order.  Together these two political ideologies create a tyranny of corporate control, social inequality and suffering for most of the population. 

Socialists, on the other hand, want the 4th (mother/home) to rule. They want a more caring, fair society, where things are more equally distributed. Unfortunately, when instituted in a paradoxically top-down way (10th house), this can be equally tyrannical and disempowering for most people.

I wonder if these political ideologies translate to personal childhood experience. I suspect so. If we could just make sure our political class were thoroughly psychologically analysed for mummy/daddy issues we might well avoid all these messes and grow up politically. After all, market/state is a false dichotomy; they are two sides of the same coin. Even if they are involved in power struggles, they co-create each other.

Personally, I have a distrust of daddy/market and a longing for a nurturing mother/state. I’m also aware that the state isn’t as I’d like it to be, it is quite disconnected and covertly violent. We are all probably better off without passive aggressive mother and psychopathic controlling fathers as rulers, don’t you think? It would be nice to see more of a focus on humanitarian/Uranian/11th house politics: a politics that is more aware of what it is actually creating in the long-term, that is inclusive of diversity and seeks to resolve problems through democratic process, not just use the political stage as a contest. This is where contemporary anarchist (no-ruler) democratic process sits.

Parenting by the Moon

You’ve probably heard of ‘gardening by the moon’, of planting at new moon and weeding as the moon wanes. Many people think these lunar cycles are reflected everywhere in the ebb and flow of daily life.  Last year I began to notice distinct synchronicities between the moon and my life. I would suddenly get the unusual urge to clean out kitchen cupboards and spend the whole weekend tidying and organising, only to check my emails on Monday and find that the moon was in Virgo, and that was exactly the sort of thing one ought to be doing.  I started paying more attention, and even deliberately allowing time to sort and organise my messy life when the moon was spending her 50 odd hours in the virgin sign.

This weekend was another-such time. Without giving it much thought I went about my usual Friday night routines only to find my six-year-old on the floor of the room, sorting through her paperwork! Of course, I thought, this is time to do those things I usually put off. I began cleaning the bath, and my daughter came into the bathroom and requested that she be allowed to clean the bath, please. Sure, why not? It occurred to me then that ‘parenting by the moon’ might be quite a good idea.

 

We can clean and sort when the moon is in Virgo, balance and harmonise with Libra, challenge and explore depth with Scorpio, and do magic spells to quell our fears.  We can philosophise with Sagittarius, love nature, and sleep under the stars, then be ambitious with Capricorn, make plans and climb hills.  We can dream and paint under a Pisces moon, then network and socialise with Aquarius while we explore radical new ideas and new technologies.  When the moon goes into Aries we can start new projects and race each-other. With the moon in Taurus we can lounge around together and eat decadent foods. When the moon goes into Gemini we might need to play on a trampoline and write each-other notes, as parents, we can allow ourselves to be more child-like and laugh. Then, when the moon goes into Cancer we can nurture ourselves especially with extra cuddles and warm milk before we emerge, a few days later, under a Leo moon, to be dramatic, create, perform, put on a show and applaud.

I think I might be onto something. Of course it’s not just the sign but also the phase of the moon that can be considered. A new moon is for new beginnings, then the energy builds as she waxes. When the moon is full the energy is manic and intense, it needs an outlet.  As she wanes we take stock and take special care of ourselves, and take respite especially in the time right before new moon, the dark moon.  Last night I asked my daughter what I thought we should do under the Libra full moon. “I think we should put on really cool clothes and do make-up and maybe we can have a fashion show” the girl with the Libran ascendant replied.

Dark Moon Magic

Dark moon magic

come to me

Give me the death that I need

Take away this noring pain

Let the light flood in again

Cleanse the wound and dress the scar

Center us in who we are

I am ready to be free

As we will, so mote it be

So we journey down into the roots of this pattern of pain, of anxiety, of insecure attachment. We have cleared a path to the source of this suffering and brought the light of awareness in to wash away the grime and pus. We have untangled the skeleton woman and wrapped her bones in furs. At the core of the wound, we have removed the splinters that have hindered the healing process, we have pulled apart the projections of our pain, fear, betrayal, abandonment, inadequacy, anger… removed them from the other people who have triggered our wound. We no longer need the distraction. Without distraction there is just us: awareness and the wound.

Let us sit together

Now we listen

The other side of my Saturn return

kintsuroi

Every 29-ish years Saturn gets back to the same part of the zodiac as it was when you were born. Symbolically, Saturn is the planet of scarcity, of structure, restrictions, hard learning. Saturn is the disciplinarian, the devil, the shadow.  Saturnian characters appear in almost every story as villains, as domineering parents, as strict school masters, and often, as the people who teach us the most important lessons. When I first heard about Saturn returns I was terrified. I was expecting a lot of awfulness and perhaps, if I survived it I would come out more awesome afterwards.  Later on, my friend Roy told me “Nah, Saturn returns are great – they are the time in your life when you get to let go of all the messages about who you’re supposed to be -from society and family – and decide who you really are.” That sounded much better than just going through hell for potential long-term benefits. I waited with anticipation.

My experience has felt a lot like being hand-washed by a powerful woman in the olden days – in a very rough fashion – like my psyche has been scrubbed and rung out over and over. But Saturn manifests in many different ways, a lot of it comes down to which sign and house Saturn is in. For people born the year before me, with Saturn in Libra, when I ask about their 29th year, a lot of them say it wasn’t all that bad, (Saturn is exalted in Libra) but when I ask if they went through massive changes in relationships and relating, whether they have been doing a lot of work to balance their lives and other Saturn-Libra things they generally agree with urgency and zest: “Yes! That was when my major relationship broke up and I went travelling” etc.

Saturn in Scorpio is a whole different ball game. Scorpio is intense. I would be surprised to find a 1984 baby out there who hasn’t had a very intense year. Scorpio governs power, money, fears, transformation, sex and all those deep-dark scary parts of ourselves. Saturn in Scorpio will bring up everyone’s fears around intimacy and security, but if it happens to be in a major transit for you, it will be a lot more intense.  All of those things you’ve been running from, well, here they are. Deal.

How a Saturn return manifests will also relate to where Saturn is in your chart. Mine is in the 5th house: the party house. A few years ago I started going to a local transformational festival (Kiwiburn, New Zealand’s regional Burning Man event) and realised that partying and having fun is quite a hard thing for me to do (natal Saturn in the 5th). I want to be serious, I want to do soul-work. Why is everyone getting drunk and talking shmack? Facing the tensions and paradoxes is all part of doing the work. My Saturn return started in January last year, right in the middle of the festival. It was the first time I had worked (volunteered) to manage part of the festival and it was hard work. I got completely burn out. I loved it, but it took me all year to recover, to decompress. A couple of months later Saturn retrograded back over 10 degrees of Scorpio and my natal Saturn and everything in my life was brought into question especially things relating structure, freedom and security, and personal attachments as well. I have been journaling every day (for the first time ever), processing, processing, letting go…

Saturn went direct again, as it does, and crossed over 10 degrees precisely as I was attending another burn, this time in Australia. Burning Seed was also incredibly intense. Pressure built up and up. I had a fantastic time and several terrifying experiences. At one point I tripped over a fallen tree which was hidden in long grass. It is quite scary being in a forest in a country that has spiders and snakes when you come from a place like New Zealand. I had this weird bump on my knee and it was bleeding, so I went to the medics and was told by a volunteer that I had probably been bitten by something: cue panic attack. She assured me it was probably just a spider: JUST a SPIDER? It occurred to me then that this was very appropriate of Saturn in Scorpio, while I struggled to breath in a normal way. A few minutes later the actual medic turned up and looked at my wound, “Aw, did you fall over and bang your knee?” I nodded, feeling very silly and very relieved. The fifth house is also about creativity. I’m also doing a PhD and writing novels. Everything finally make sense.

Doing the work of Saturn in Scorpio involves facing and working through all those issues around fear and power, and because it’s Saturn, the best way to do it is through embracing structure. For me it has been through yoga and journaling, and just recently, through eating what my body really wants to eat (no processed crap, no grains). It has also meant embracing the structure imposed on me by having a child in school. My day has a very definitive routine. While this all might sound boring, I have never been a structured, disciplined person in my life, so I’m in awe. I have resisted structure because I’ve always resisted what I was told to do – reacting to the messages from society and family, rather than really figuring out what I wanted and working towards that. I feel like I’m free of the pattern of desperately trying to be free. I also feel like I’ve resolved my childhood trauma – the thing I’ve been trying to do my whole life – and like I’m not wounded and broken anymore. Freaky.

So there is light at the end of the tunnel if you do the work, and despite being a masterful procrastinator, I have been doing the work. Apparently if you don’t resolve your Saturn stuff in your first return it will come back with a vengeance in 29 years time. Good luck.

The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton: astrological archetypes through literature

I thoroughly enjoyed this 800 odd page novel, set in gold-rush New Zealand. The astrological symbolisim is obvious from the outset with star charts drawn up to represent the planets at the time. It doesn’t include Uranus, which was discovered some seventy years earlier, just the old astrological planets. Incidentally, Neptune was being discovered around the same time the novel is set (1865). I just found out that Eleanor Catton read the collected works of Jung before she embarked on the novel and had the idea that 12 characters would represent the zodiac while others would represent the planets. It’s very clever but doesn’t cut in on the story which is wonderfully well written, so much so that it has been shortlisted for the Booker.

I do believe Catton used the movements of the planets to guide the plot and decide the scenes she was writing.  It would take much re-reading to figure out all the intentional synchronicity.  She takes great care to describe each character, slipping in the properties of the astrological archetype in a way which could easily go unnoticed. Of course every zodiac sign and planet has many different facets and Catton seems to draw on a few of these for each character and also incorporates other characteristics which might better fit the story.  I won’t go too much into what is obviously stated, I will focus instead on broader reflections of the novel’s symbolism.

This story begins in the 12th house of the psyche, whereupon Walter Moody (Mercury) unwittingly interrupts a secret meeting of 12 very different men at the crown hotel. It must be in the 12th because we are so in the dark, and where else would we find 12 men, symbolising the twelve zodiac signs, than in the natural home of Pisces? In fact, this whole story belongs to the 12th house as the character symbolising the sun and psyche, Emery Stains (fantastic name) is literally stumbling around in the dark for the almost the entire journey.  Therefore, treating this novel as a Jungian journey means delving into the exploration of one’s psyche in the dark, with minimal illumination that grows as we progress.

Despite not being represented, the archetype of Neptune is obviously in the room, probably sitting in the back corner smoking opium. Opium is very prominent in this story both in the pipe and in laudanum tinctures.  There are many delusions at play, of grandeur, of love, of mysteries and plots that might actually not exist. This story also has a very strong Pluto/Scorpio theme, secrets, suspicion and paranoia add tension to the narrative. There is gold involved as well as prostitution and death. You can’t get more 8th house than that.

I would indeed like to re-read this novel and observe the characters in relation to my own personal archetypes in the style of Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It promises to be an interesting and illuminating journey into the dark recesses of the subconscious.

The predator archetype in the social ecosystem

I drove past a police car today. As usual, despite not doing anything obviously illegal, the sight of the white, yellow and blue elicited a moment of physical anxiety. I can almost feel my glands releasing the hormones that would naturally assist in protecting from predators. Even the police cars themselves are designed to look like predators. I have written about the predator archetype before and discussed it in relation to the fallen magician, but this time I want to focus less esoterically and more sociologically on this powerful symbol.

Seeing the police car, and my physical reaction to it, made me think of the role of the predator in an ecosystem. In her magnificent novel, Prodigal Summer, biologist and author Barbara Kingsolver describes the importance of predators in an ecosystem. Take all the starfish out of a rock pool and the diversity of life drops to zero. The food the starfish would normally eat multiplies out of control until it has nothing to sustain it.

The predator has a regulatory role, and it’s important. The police force fulfill this role, along with the judiciary and other systems for keeping order. Sometimes they cross the line and act out the shadow side of the archetype: corruption, exploitation, excessive violence, sexual assault.  Sociologists like to point out that the police force are a gang and function in much the same way, despite being a legitimate gang. Illegal gangs also fill predatory roles in a society, some socially beneficial, some detrimental.

In astrology, Saturn is the regulator, the structurer and restructurer, the disciplinary force. Saturn, like the predator archetype in its positive polarity, has the job of letting die that which must die in order that the healthy psyche may live.  It both the force which keeps us safe and that which poses the most grave danger if we step out of line.  When suppressed, this force is at its most dangerous. Dis-empowerment makes it desperate and ruthless, just as on a social level the most disempowered populations are the most likely to form gangs.

Healing this social and personal pathos involves bringing it into the light of awareness, stripping back the suppression, healing and empowering healthy functions of regulation.

Meditations on Virgo: complexities of the virgin/whore/analyst archetype

Everyone has a little bit of Virgo, and what better time to contemplate this extraordinarily complex archetype than a Virgo new moon? Some people call Virgo a duel sign, but she is a lot more complex than that; how else could she govern health, sickness, work, cleanliness, criticism and submission? Virgo is one of those signs that can seem boring on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper you might be surprised. Virgo wants to heal you, she wants to analyse you and she wants you to get off your ass and do some work – properly! She also wants to roll around in the dirt and explore the dark recesses of the psyche with a magnifying glass.

As an earth sign, Virgo is grounded, although she does have neurotic tendencies. Like Gemini she is governed by Mercury, the messenger/communicator, although she’s not as childlike, fast or flighty.  She excels at communication as long as she doesn’t get too anxious about it. She loves freshly mown grass and spring blossoms. Her colours are teal and white, greens and browns. She belongs in the sixth house of hard work and, traditionally, slavery.

Virgo is strong.  She cannot be slut-shamed. She is beyond that. She submits on her own terms. She owns her darkness.  The mistress of contradictions, she is the secretary and the cleaner; the innocent maiden and the auditor; the therapist and the patient; the hypochondriac and the doctor; the workaholic and the servant. No astrological archetype better represents the contradictory virgin/whore.  It is her obsessive cleanliness that makes dirt so appealing and, like all control freaks, Virgo is sexually submissive. Holding on so tightly means she has a deep need to let go.  She is tight with money but appreciates quality purchases.  After a while the contradictions begins to make sense: one’s inner prostitute is the guardian of one’s integrity, after all.  It is her job to let you know when you are in danger of trading your self-worth and selling yourself short.

To find out more about your Virgo look at where it sits in your natal chart. Every house represents a different part of your life. Does Virgo govern a house or is it intercepted, (stuck in between two houses) leaving your highly-strung analyst deep inside your psyche, screaming to get out? If you have planets in Virgo, think about how the archetypes of the planets click or clash with the contradictory Virgo vibe.

Yes, Virgo can be anal-retentive with a stationary fetish and a penchant for delicate floral print fabric, especially if you have a natal Venus in Virgo. Venusian Virgo is very particular about what she likes: a total aesthete guru. She loves lists and ticking things off gives her little jolts of pleasure, she also has a habit of analysing her partners half to death, trying to fix them.  She abhors clutter and unhinged garishness. Planets in your 6th house may interfere with Virgo’s master plan to analyse and categorise everything.  Uranus, the chaos magi will electrify her chi all over the place making a stable work-life an unlikely possibility.

A new moon in Virgo is a good time to set fresh intentions and let go of old emotional baggage, especially around your mum.  The maternal moon is often symbolic of the emotional self and the mother (also the nurturing father, or lack there of). Mothering is damn hard and no one does it perfectly.  Every time your parents failed to nurture you, your inner Virgo was probably keeping score, holding on to each painful experience for later analysis. Maybe it’s time to let go of that crap. You don’t need to over-think it, just intend it. You can go one step further and write your mom a letter. Mine goes like this:

Dear Mum. I have been decluttering my life on all different levels, as I explained before, courtesy of the Virgo new moon.  As the moon represents the mother, emotions and nurturing I decided that this is a good time to let go of any emotional baggage and resentments I may be holding onto from my childhood, consciously or subconsciously. I now understand how hard it is to be a parent and how easy it is to fly off the handle. I release you from all old emotional debts and all childhood needs left unmet. Love xoxo