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. 

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.

Shadow work: Saturn, Neptune, and pulling back the blanket

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Ghostly – by Stephanie Wild

When you have been stumbling in the dark for a long time, in terror of what you don’t quite know, it can be a startling surprise to have the blanket pulled from over your head – to realise that it was there this whole time, keeping you bling to your own patterns.

This is what it can feel like when you come to a ‘big reveal’ in shadow work.

Under the blanket, in the dark, it’s safe and warm. We hide under the blanket, as children because it keeps us safe from monsters. In this way, the darkness of our shadow – of our ignorance and innocence – is a safety zone. If we can’t see what is terrifying us, we can pretend it doesn’t exist. Ironically, that very safety zone and the lack of ability to see is what keeps us paralysed in fear as well, in fact – pull back the blanket or turn on the light and the monsters vanish into thin air.

Do you ever wonder what patterns might have you in blind-folds?

Maybe it is a complex you have been struggling under for some time, a personality patterning, a strong natal aspect that kept you feeling powerless – a prisoner in your own life. Maybe it was too easy to project your powerlessness out onto those putting you in this situation, victimising you, making you feel terrible  – and maybe you have good reason to fear, hate or resent people who do and say horrible things! There is no need for a false dichotomy. Both can be true at the same time: we can be in a pattern of being victimised – our own pattern – and also be actually victimised at the same time (as is often the case). Strangely, the people making us feel like powerless victims often feel similarly powerless and victimised… our realities may be so incompatible that one person must surely be crazy. Either way, we are all usually stumbling in the dark, bumping into each other and getting mad, upset, hurt, scared or otherwise unhappy about it.

Neptune can blind-fold us. Engulfing us like a spell. Never letting us know that we do not know what we do not know. Neptune governs hidden things. Neptune is a great, delusional, drizzly spell and in the 7th house, especially opposite the Ascendant, there is a tendency for captivating and immersive projection. Saturn is just now conjuncting my Neptune in the 7th, opposite my Ascendant. Saturn brings cold, hard clarity and smashes the pretty baubles of Neptune’s delusions, revealing what lies beneath the blanket: my subconscious patterns.

For a long time I have felt I was in a kind of hostage situation – My natal Mars in Scorpio squares my Leo Sun. “Did you grow up with a bad relationship with your father?” an astrologer once asked me, in relation to this aspect. Well, yes. I grew up feeling continuously under threat because my Step Father was the kind of parent who threatened violence in order to gain power – all the time. I was always negotiating my freedom, pleading with my mother for intervention. Desperate and fearful.

Childhood patterning runs deep.

To this day, I feel like I’m held hostage by people in my life I cannot escape. I have been struggling with this intense terror and powerlessness acutely in bursts over the past few years – always projecting outward onto a bizarre and surreal external situation, this pattern that was mine.

I am only just beginning to realise – as the shadow blanket slips away, revealing harsh, bright light, that the ‘other’ has no power over me, other than that old fear. I do not need to live in terror. Not anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to deep intuition

The waves of chattering thought crash noisily at the edges of the mind. The constant chatter is surface level, never still, always seeking something more. To say that something is surface level does not mean it it not important – the surface of the water is no less important than the depth, just as the skin is no less important an organ in the body as the others. Everything has a place, and yet this constant mind chatter draws much attention, it crowds out the murmurs of deeper waters.

Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés, the iconic Jungian analyst and story teller, talks of listening to intuition as a sacred process. Life is presented to us often as like a smorgasbord, a catalog of what other people have and what we are taught to want. We can spend so much time focussed outward – seeking to fill ourselves with everything that is on offer, spread out before us, rather than listening to our deep intuition: to what we really want and need.

It is a difficult journey, into one’s subconscious, because no one else can show you the way through the labyrinth. You must feel your way along the walls, inch by inch. Similarly, no one can tell you what you intuitively need or want, or even exactly how to listen. However, between the waves of breaking thought, between the breaths, when there is nothing else to fill the void, the layers of consciousness may shift and your attention may be drawn, deeper and deeper, through them: closer and closer to deep intuition.

When you hear the calls of the deep self, like whalesong, they will feel familiar. They will resonate. They will be deafeningly obvious and clearly true. Yes. This was the message all along. This is how to nourish self. This is how to care for the world. The inner and outer work. The lessons. The journey. The reasons. The purpose. Here ebb and flow the currents that pull us in the directions we may have never realised we were always destined for.

What do I really need right now?

Show me

Sometimes healing sucks: Chiron rising, the problem with progress, and Inanna in the underworld

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Collage by Stephanie Wild

The problem with the idea of healing is that the narrative of progress does not always fit well with reality. Life is both a process of growth and of entropy, and many many other things. I find myself, amidst this life, focusing always on getting better – on progress, healing, renewal.

Chiron, the asteroid symbolising the wounded healer, was rising at the time of my birth. It sits in my 12th house, in Gemini. Chiron conjuncts my North Node, linking it closely with my learning in this life. I still have a lot of unpacking to do around understanding these prominent aspects of my chart but I can tell you what it resonates with so far in my life.

Chiron rising conjunct my North Node for me coincides with a life focusses around healing and teaching. As a young child I felt a deep hopelessness at my atheist upbringing. I developed a paralysing phobia of death due to phychological abuse from about age six. Around that age I also had a kind of spiritual epiphany – a vision of connectivity – of people holding hands over the world – a sudden deep understanding of empathy. These are all very 12th house themes. My childhood trauma seems to coicide with early Pluto transits – adding to the death themes. Around the age of 12 I developed depression which I spent many years working through – with counselling, shamanic work and various kinds of paganism (in my teens), and then meditation, copious affirmations, hypnotherapy, energy healing, more counselling and writing (in my 20s). I have done so much healing: food/nutrition based healing, yoga, journalling… basically every kind of healing I came across that resonated in order to try to deal with chronic illness and chronic fatigue. A huge thread through my life story has been healing in one form of another.

By now, in my early 30s, I would expect to be really good at it. I have a couple of decades of actively seeking out, learning and participating in healing processes – and teaching them as well. But life is full of challenges – difficult transits like Chiron squaring my natal Neptune and also (simultaneously) Neptune squaring my natal Chiron. Going through journeys of losing faith and re-growing it, the pain of psychological dying giving way to the pain of psychological rebirth. So much healing.

Healing for me has taken on a very different process, in recent years. It is no longer about crystals and guided visualisations as it was in my teens, or about re-programming my mind with beneficial thoughts and tracing back my past life lessons as it often was in my 20s. Post Saturn return, my healing process is mostly about journalling and paying attention – cultivating my ability to listen to deep intuition, and also every form of self-care that makes sense to me. Astrology, a language I began to learn in my early 20s, has been very useful to me in understanding the learning that I am currently going through – every transit is surprisingly relevant to my life, and the knowledge of the transit’s lessons, challenges and opportunity helps me to get the most out of the difficulties.

Sometimes healing sucks. Probably, most of the time. It is hard. it is painful. It often requires trying multiple things that don’t work before, hopefully, we find something that does. I like to use metaphors for the psyche based on biology and ecological systems: some wounds require intervention in order to heal – we must clean out the pus and muck, untangle and separate ourselves from the things we are caught up in, remove psychic splinters. Other wounds need to be rested in order to heal – too often we think of ourselves as we think of doctors – as active agents of healing, however the real healing is not an active process, just as doctors themselves do not heal. In order to heal, we must remove all obstacles to the healing process which is a natural process.

When I am going through painful healing processes my main coping strategies for this kind of thing are going for walks and journaling. Also – doing all the things I know that help me to take care of myself – which are not always the things that are easy and comfortable. When I am going through a difficult time I want to stay in bed and eat junk food but that leads to feeling worse! The problem with knowing all about healing is that you have high expectations for yourself and want to feel like you are progressing. The processes of healing often don’t feel like that. It can feel hopeless and hard – a big struggle with no clear light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes healing sucks because it doesn’t feel like we are making progress at all – and we feel like we should already know how to deal with this shit by now! Sometime the fixation I have with progress – with always getting better – just makes me feel worse. Awareness of this allows me the opportunity to release my grasp on the fixation with progress. I do not need to be always getting better. Life is a process that will always lead to death – ageing and entropy are inevitable if we life long enough. There is still so much to accept here. These topics can be terrifying psychological terrain to tread. When we do stumble upon them the dread sets in, we have stepped towards the shadow, across the boundaries of light and into the underworld.

In Sumerian mythology, Inanna’s descent into the underworld provides a wonderful metaphor for the suffering and pain of such a journey. The goddess Inanna is often archetypal linked to Venus, the divine feminine aspect, the goddess self. Inanna journeys into the underworld to meet her sister Ereshkigal. To prepare for the journey she dresses elaborately, with lapiz lazuli, her garments represent her power, but along the journey, each of the seven gates she passes through force her to remove her garments and jewelery,  piece by piece stripping her of her power. These are the snags along the dark path we tread into our own shadows. When she reaches Ereshkigal, the dark feminine archetype, Inanna is naked. Ereskigal and the seven judges shout at Inanna and murder her. She is hung on a hook. Three days and three nights pass before the god Enki helps to resurrect Inanna. She is reborn, just as we may be when we emerge from deep painful healing, cutting away the deadwood of our lives, clearing space to make way for new life to grow.

We are good at celebrating the light and success – we also need to learn to honour death, to sit with pain, understand anguish, to embrace struggle, and to accept the inevitable, when it arrives.

 

 

 

 

Projections: love and the Mirror of Erised

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In the first book of Harry Potter (Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone) Harry stumbles across a mirror late one night when exploring the Hogwarts castle. He is instantly entranced and fixated. He seeks to return, night after night, to stare longingly into the mirror.

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I have been thinking a lot about crushes, fixated infatuation and the feeling of falling wildly in love as metaphorically like the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter: it shows people their heart’s desire but is just an illusion. Harry sees his parents. Ron sees himself winning the house cup etc.

Many people have wasted away in front of the mirror, longing, trying to get what they want out of it… Voldemort sees himself using the philosopher’s stone to become immortal. At that point what Harry wants most is to find the stone and not use it. It appears in his pocket.

We see a beautiful illusion in another person. Maybe it is the child inside ourselves teaching out for reunion with a parental saviour. Maybe it is the happily ever after Prince rescue that feels so close to a death wish with heavenly afterlife.

On some level we want to surrender to oblivion and not to have to do so much. Life is exhausting. We are weary. Everything is hard. But maybe the equivalent of finding the philosopher’s stone our my pocket is discovering a hidden nugget of truth or deeper self awareness.

Relating to other people is often a process of navigating projections.

A similar reflection of relationships is represented in Osho’s Zen cards:

7 of Water: Projections

The man and woman in this card are facing each other, yet they are not able to see each other clearly. Each is projecting an image they have constructed in their minds, covering the real face of the person they are looking at.

All of us can get caught up in projecting movies of our own making onto the situations and people surrounding us. It happens when we are not fully aware of our own expectations, desires and judgments; instead of taking responsibility for them and owning them, we try to attribute them to others. A projection can be devilish or divine, disturbing or comforting, but it is a projection nonetheless–a cloud that prevents us from seeing reality as it is. The only way out is to recognize the game. When you find a judgment arising about another, turn it around: Does what you see in others really belong to you? Is your vision clear, or clouded by what you want to see?

In a cinema hall, you look at the screen, you never look at the back–the projector is at the back. The film is not there really on the screen; it is just a projection of shadow and light. The film exists just at the back, but you never look at that. And the projector is there. Your mind is at the back of the whole thing, and the mind is the projector. But you always look at the other, because the other is the screen.
When you are in love the person seems beautiful, no comparison. When you hate, the same person seems the ugliest, and you never become aware of how the same person can be the ugliest and the same person can be the most beautiful…. So the only way to reach to truth is to learn how to be immediate in your vision, how to drop the help of the mind. This agency of the mind is the problem, because mind can create only dreams….
Through your excitement the dream starts looking like reality. If you are too excited then you are intoxicated, then you are not in your senses. Then whatsoever you see is just your projection. And there are as many worlds as there are minds, because every mind lives in his own world.

Osho Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, Chapter 7

Just as Osho says: look at the back, look at what’s really behind the projection.