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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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 other side of my Saturn return

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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 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.