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.

 

 

 

 

 

Children are the worst (and best) spiritual teachers

 

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Lean Into It / Sweet Chaos – By Stephanie Wild

Since 2008 I have been going through a very challenging kind of spiritual training. It’s called parenting. This training never really stops and there is no viable way to quit. Lessons can occur at all hours of the day and night, and are always different, often painful, stressful, exhausting, and very very challenging.

When she was a baby, the lessons involved a lot of sleep deprivation, confusion, anxiety and coping with the painful ringing in my chest every time my tiny master cried out. I likened it to the kinds of Zen where the master hits you on the head to make you pay attention. I have, for a long time, considered all of life to be about spiritual learning, and why should this most central, mundane, intense and special part of my life be any different. My baby was born into water with her eyes open. Still connected, it seemed, to the source from which she came. Newborns always appear this way to me: little Buddhas. Present. Totally in the moment whether they are crying or sleeping or staring into space.

As they get older they learn to be less present, but their lessons can teach us to be more present in the most challenging ways. Our children present us with out own incredible vulnerability and powerlessness. They give us the terrifying and agonising experience of being an impotent god. We don’t have magic wands to take away their pain and suffering, to change the behaviour of other children, to make everything okay. They lash out and push boundaries and try to manipulate us, and that is all part of their learning as well as our own.They reflect back to us our own inner-child.

The Moon represents the  inner-child in a person’s chart. The sign it is in indicates the character of the inner-child and the house placement of the moon indicates the focus and wider patterns of this sensitive, vulnerable, reflective and core part of us. Aspects to the Moon with other planetary bodies reveal our key challenges, opportunities and gifts. The Moon reflects our relationship with our mother, our own emotional selves, and also our children. On a similar note, I have written before about Parenting By the Moon, of observing the quick-changing moods as they reflect in relating to children, a practice I am often too busy to think about!

The Child archetypes of fairy tales can be mischievous, but tend towards the innocent.

They are easily tempted, like Goldilocks, the girl in the Red Shoes, or Little Red Riding Hood. They will easily stray from the safe path, their innocence and lack of awareness is sometimes startling.

The way we treat this child self is reflected in the stories involving evil step parents. Generally the children in these stories are presented as pure, good and innocent, the step sisters are the greedy, whiny ones. From an archetypal perspective all of these characters are parts of self. and in our daily lives we enact these patterns, projecting the interior into the external world.

We can be the Too Good Mother/Father archetype one minute, then, when our children push us to the brink of tolerance and we have nothing left to give we can too easily flash into the rage of the Evil Tyrant. We can even become children ourselves, in trying to cope with our children, putting them into a role where they must act as an adult because we have lost all control.

All of this is horrible, wonderful, challenging, learning

The lesson is always to be present, and;

  • Usually, to be patient. To be grounded like earth.
  • Often, to be like water, to flow with empathy and gently shape the situation.
  • Frequently, to be air-like, to use logic and reason, to encourage these faculties to develop in our children, when they are not too overwhelmed to think clearly.
  • Sometimes, to embody the passion and bravery – the swift action of fire – but carefully, because fire can also burn, and violence does not bring peace.

Parenting is the hardest job, and yet least socially rewarded job. As parents we are expected to do so many conflicting things – to be perfect, to be saints, to be disciplined, to be kind and generous and nurturing, to be strict and unmovable forces, to never give in or reward ‘bad’ behaviour, and yet to empathise with the struggles of powerless that our children face on a daily basis… and so so many other things. The impossible struggles might seem hopeless and pointless at times, but they do offer many many opportunities for learning and growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The progressed moon through the houses and shifts in life focus

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Moon-Girl by Stephanie Wild

I once had a friend named Roy. Roy was a business man with a keen interest in Astrology. He taught me about lunar progressions and what they mean in terms of life stages.

Roy was living in Amsterdam many years ago, and for the life of him he couldn’t make any business deals work. He had all the right contacts, he was networking in all the right places, meeting all the right people, but nothing went to plan. At this point Roy already had a good understanding of astrological natal charts and transits, but nothing here quite added up. He was living in his own personal dark ages – there must be some reason – he thought… It wasn’t for while that he learned about lunar progressions.

Little did he know it, but Roy’s progressed moon was in the 12th house. As soon as his progressed moon crossed over into the first house the business connections started happening, as if by magic. He went to meet a friend, who it turned out had left the country and Roy was able to pick up the business his friend had left behind and make a good amount of money very quickly.

Years later, Roy was living in Amsterdam with his partner, a vivacious woman Jules. Roy and Jules would go out to parties often, however she found that no one would really talk to her. She made no friends. She was lonely and isolated. Having experienced his own 12th house moon progression, Roy recognised the signs and sure enough – Jules’ progressed moon had also moved into the 12th house. He reflected that as soon as it crossed over again into the first house the phone wouldn’t stop ringing with friends calling for Jules, she made friends easily and was able to resume being a social butterfly again.

Roy told me other stories of the progressed moon in the 12th house. A friend of his was a jewellery maker in Amsterdam but could not sell any of his jewellery, no matter how hard he tried. Every week he would get a little bit of dole money and buy some silver and make a few rings. He managed to amass a large stock of rings over the few years of his progressed moon going through the 12th house. As soon as it crossed over into the first house he met a guy who owned a shop in the red light district who was keen to stock his jewellery in the front window. It all sold out in a month or two, and the 12th house transit paid off.

The progressed moon charts the emphasis of our lives – where your heart is – as Roy said. It takes around 2.5 years to go through a house, although sometimes it is shorter or longer, depending on the angles of the houses. As it goes through the house it carries the emphasis of the house meaning. You can find your progressed chart for free at astro.com, in the extended chart selection, just enter your birth details and select ‘progressed chart’ instead of ‘natal’.

In the first house, it is all about you – emerging into the world, new beginnings, new adventures. Self esteem, self love. It takes on the qualities of action, of Aries. This is a time to act, to be assertive, to be confident. Lessons of the first house may involve challenges to identity – identity crisis, losing a sense of self and finding oneself again.

In the second house the progressed moon focuses on security and material stability – on the physical and on comfort. This is time to hold your ground – or to find your ground. This is time to delight in simple pleasures and to ponder values. Lessons of the second house may involve losses or substantial gains to property. This is also a good time to focus on looking after your body by nourishing  yourself well.

In the third house it is all about communication. This is a time to write, to connect, to think and share, to go on short journeys and address issues with siblings. If you have been thinking about starting a blog or a journal or writing letters – this is the time. You may encounter challenges of communication or problems with siblings during this time you may feel childish or patronised.

In the fourth house the emphasis is on home – on roots – on ancestry – on the family. This is probably not a good time to travel or move overseas (unless you are moving home or to an ancestral home). During this time you may encounter problems with ‘home’ – you may be forced to move. This is all part of the learning of the fourth house. remember the deepest roots are not ones that can be taken from you. This is an important time for self care, you are more likely to feel sensitive and to try to protect yourself. Learn how to nurture yourself well. Revel in the comfort blanket.

In the fifth house there is a strong focus on what we can create. Do you have a hobby? Do you lack one? Do you want to make more meaningful creations? Do you want to have children? These are some of the questions of the fifth house. This is the natural home of Leo. The lessons here are about play, performance, creativity. This is also a good time to start a blog, take up painting, photography, or join a theater group… that kind of thing. The challenges you will face may arise around questioning your purpose in life and your self-worth, in setting out to do the kind of creating you feel compelled to do – or in struggling to find a worthwhile kind of creation that you feel confident in doing. Friendship is very important to this time, and you may encounter difficulties with close friends which teach you more about yourself.

In the sixth house the emphasis is on work. Hard work. Analysis. You may feel like a slave to your work or to your home. You may feel your efforts are not acknowledged or rewarded enough. This is a chance to develop your skills at meticulous work, at finer details, at critical analysis. The work you do now will pay off and you have the opportunity to work your way into a life of more freedom. This is the sign of Virgo, analysis and hard work. Facing the hard stuff will have lasting results.

In the seventh house the focus is on relating – on partnership. This may be a time when relationships become central. Romantic relationships and other kind of partnerships (eg: business) take on a greater significance. Relationships are largely based on projection and expectations – and that is the primary learning here. Become as aware as possible about your expectations of the other, and about what these say about you. You may take on a stronger interest in balance, harmony, peacefulness, beauty and aesthetics during this time.

In the eighth house these two or so years will be spent understanding depth, power dynamics and other Scorpio themes. The eighth house is INTENSE. It is the deep, dark, the esoteric. Your progressed moon in the eighth house will likely compel you to seek to understand power or get subconsciously caught up in power games. If your relationship focus from the 7th house continues it will change substantially. You will seek more from life – more experience, more depth, more challenge. You may become overly cynical. Watch out for your own dark side. Lean on empathy. Power without empathy is hollow and unfulfilling.

In the ninth house the focus shifts to a much broader lens. You will become interested in wider philosophy and theory, in exploration and travel – either in the mind or in the outer world. You may develop new spiritual understandings or join a different school of thought. Your thirst for depth from the eighth house will develop into a quest for knowledge, research and understanding. You may seek to develop a platform to share ideas, you may yearn to spend more time in nature.

In the tenth house your journey towards greater philosophical ideas will shift from the theoretical into the practical. How can you influence the world? If you previously have shown little interest in career development this is the time in which you may feel compelled to find a vocation, or it may be time for a career shift towards one that is more fulfilling. You may feel powerless, you may need to confront childhood issues with an authoritarian figure (eg: father/mother/teacher). This time is the right time to keep casting your rod into the ocean, you will eventually catch a fish or at least learn a lot in the process. Be practical. Take the opportunities that arise and shape them into ones that fit your values, don’t just sit around waiting to be discovered. Learn to fail, and to process rejection and find strength in vulnerability. These are very important lessons. You are finding your place in the world. Look to your midheaven sign and any strong aspects for the nature of your lessons.

In the eleventh house you take your new place in the world in a different direction. This is a time for networking, meeting new acquaintances and socialising. This is also a time when you may feel more detached from personal turmoil and more interested in humanitarian pursuits. How do you want to improve the world? What issues do you care most about? You may feel compelled to get involved in activism, charity or volunteer work. You may be interested in learning to use new technology for greater communication and to have a further reach. You may connect more with people over the internet.

In the twelfth house you may gather, as the first part of this post is all about the twelfth house, that this time is a time when things in the outer world do not tend to go to plan. This is an inner-focused time, a time for deep self-work. Roy told me: the work you do at this time won’t seem like it’s doing much but the results will show later. He also said: Go somewhere where they bring you food. Wouldn’t that be nice? Lock yourself away in a convent if you have the opportunity, go on silent meditation retreats, spend a lot of time doing flow activities, yoga, journalling, walking in nature – if you have such luxury. The biggest thing to remember is not to have too many expectations of yourself or of your life at this point. Inner processing is important. It may feel like your creative projects, your career, your social life or your goals can’t seem to gain any traction. It may feel like everything is going backwards. This is the inner part of a big spiral, where things seem to become very circular. Do the work. This time, as it relates to Pisces, reflects the lessons of ALL THE OTHER SIGNS COMBINED. Work through them as they arise. Your Saturn work will help you now. Your hard work will pay off, especially if you learn to question yourself. If you cannot face shame and the shadow now you may be prone to megalomania when the Sun progresses back to the first house. This is a very good time for therapy.

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.

 

 

 

 

The Predator Archetype (part three): Dreams of the Stalker


Last night I had another dream about him…

He is in disguise, this time. We meet in a darkened rain-washed street. We make eye contact and he introduces himself as, not the person I thought, not the one I trust, though equal in size and stature, but a slightly different name. With eyes that flashed cold daggers, and shorter darker hair, he asks me to come with him: “let’s have coffee”. “Another time, maybe”. “No”. He is insistent and pulls at my hand. I can feel the force and make a break – run as fast as I can, away from those cold dead eyes. He is fast and heads me off, behind steel buildings. He grasps me again as I struggle away. But this is public space, out here I scream “LEAVE ME ALONE” I look around and see the young family, the old man, pedestrians on this paved grey dreamscape. “I DON’T KNOW HIM” I yell to them – hoping they will take notice and help. This is not a joke, not a private matter. He is the predator… I am at a party now, with friends. We go out into the night to yell at the predators and scare them away. Behind us, someone turns out the lights in the strange old house. There is danger here, but he is just trying to scare us. It is working. I awaken in fear.

I wrote about the predator archetype before, and again, in relation to his history as the dark magician. He is major archana when it comes to archetypes – that dark force that seeks control, seeks to destroy the light force of the psyche. He is present when we walk dark streets at night. He is the rapist, the murderer, Bluebeard. He is the part of ourselves that seeks our destruction.

Probably, you would have these dreams too, sometimes. Probably, the predator is not entirely unknown to you, in your life experiences, traumas, projections and semi-conscious states. This deadly force invokes chilling scorpionic fear. It is potent, it is transformative, it can be devastating.

I’m not sure why I dreamed of him last night, but I suspect it is part of my recent inner-work, integrating my animus through the shadow, exploring the recessed and deep folds of tattered emotional memories, of abandonment, and anger; psychological abuse and powerlessness. Bringing this into the light is stirring something up.

Is it possible to master this destructive psychic force, to use in a conscious way, to prune the parts of self that are no longer necessary, or is it something that must be watched with a smoldering gaze until he is charred to cinders? Either way. Something is saying: PAY ATTENTION. Watch. Wait. Listen. Be aware… and be safe.

“Good enough”: the power of modest affirmations

A few days ago I was having an episode of crazy – of not feeling good enough – of all kinds of ridiculous internal pressures. That happens… and often there is this pressure to be AMAZING – to be special and wonderful and outstanding and awesome and all of these over-used superlatives.  We overcompensate for not feeling good enough by reaching for the stars (which has often struck me as an ironically air-grasping metaphor). Affirmations usually favor big words, but perhaps there is a quiet power in small humble statements: I’m good enough. Everything’s okay. Relax.

“I’m good enough” is digestible. It’s believable. It’s no great commitment, no great pressure. It’s acceptable, and it’s honest. There’s nothing wrong with being a good-enough mother, a good-enough daughter, or granddaughter or student or academic or writer or any of the other labels people tend to accumulate in their short lives. It is a calm, contented centre in an otherwise chaotic storm of great vulnerability, expectations and obligations. It’s an in-between road that is not a dead-end or wild goose-chase shortcut. It’s just a simple breath of fresh air. I’m good… enough.  It’s an invitation to let go.

This is a time of letting go. It has been a frustrating and transformative couple of years.  Today is about endings, about letting go, mourning the death of the old paradigm and making space… and resting… and allowing the new to arise. Today is a good time for acceptance, for allowing, for letting things be. Today, “good enough” is enough… and probably, tomorrow it will be too.

On not being good enough

Do you feel like you’re not good enough? Apparently that’s the major underlying negative/limiting thought that everything else boils down to, according to self-help goddess Louise L. Hay. She’s probably right. I have been trying to figure out how to be good enough – or feel like I’m good enough – for a long time. I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere. I have been an under-achiever, an over-achiever, a person who does many things and who does nothing. I have followed my bliss and pursued my goals and failed and succeeded. I have feared failure and rejection, and gotten over it, for the most part, because it’s just part of being creative and doing what you want to do: other people don’t always like it. That’s okay.

Underneath all this is an insatiable neediness that I cannot tolerate in myself or in other people. It’s a child/victim archetype thing. I was starved of attention as a child. I was neglected. I wasn’t good enough. It makes me sick. I can’t escape it, I can just avoid thinking about it. Can I ever get to the bottom of it?

Right now… in this major transit-transition period. I feel like I’m going crazy. If you could quite my brain right now it would be saying this:

I want to do too many things. Head is going to explode. Must finish thesis. Figure out how to have career/income/self employment??? Move??? DO EVERYTHING NOW Fiction? I used to write fiction. Do something about that. Order my books so I can sell them? OKAY. now BLOG BLOG BLOG. submit second novel to publisher? NOTHING I DO IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH. get over that. you’d think with all the self-work I’ve been doing for such a LONG TIME I would have figured out how to feel GOOD ENOUGH by now…? Can I even feel confident and proud of anything I’ve done before? Should I write under an alias so I can say what I REALLY think? Probably. Too late. Oh well. WHAT IS MY LIFE COMING TO?

…something like that…

Anyway. I just thought I’d share that with the internet, because embarrassing yourself is all part of being a writer, right?

I am always healing… bringing up more ‘stuff’ and dealing with it. I will figure out how to nurture this wounded child and help her to grow and feel loved. I will… I will… I will… figure out how to let myself off the hook and feel good enough.