This year, the New Year wasn’t really the new year, from an astrological perspective. Did you sense that? Both Mercury (communications, our minds, ideas, commerce) and Mars (action, passion, energy) were in energetic retrograde as we entered 2010. Rather than being able to enter 2010 fresh out of the gate, retrograde planets in astrology manifest as being pulled backward, inward, to resolving past issues. Then, as Saturn (limitation, boundaries, restraint) also joined the planetary backslide the day before the Haitian earthquake on Jan 12, even those new year’s resolutions may have gone into temporary storage, or revised altogether. It’s as if the weight of our history, the stories we keep telling ourselves, the tales we wish we were done with needed some serious shedding.
The way evolution occurs in nature is two steps forward, one step back, over and over again, throughout the ages. That is the literal cycle of planetary motion. Astrologically, during times of retrograde planets, it is good to pause, reflect and release, rather than initiate something new. This natural rhythm, inherent in the very structure of the Universe helps me accept why the liberal and conservative tendencies and parties arise in tandem, each has its role to play. But I digress….
I’ve tried to write this column for weeks, months. I wanted to attempt to share what I sensed was brewing, yet an internal silence reigned. And confusion. A fuzziness and funk of mind. A lack of clarity about what steps to take to start even the simplest project. Or once begun, exuberance just fizzling out. Mars in retrograde is like having your willpower and motivation in reverse, or stalled in stagnation. The blood, ruled by Mars, seems to start and stop, heart palpitations increase, and revolutions started before the retrograde go underground for the time being.
Ours is a forward moving culture, ever on the go. So if you are not careful to work with Mars retrograde as it is intended (self-reflection), you can do serious damage to your self-esteem, doubting your worth or place in the scheme of things. You might also end up backing over your core relationships, not knowing the pain you are causing, oblivious of what you are running over or running from.
Even knowing this as an astrologer, I would still fight the obvious point of all these retrogrades: just rest, just listen, pray, meditate, open into space that was emptying out. Not yet a time for action. I kept wondering, how do people find the time to twitter and tweet, to put in the Face(book) time, as we used to say in high school. I could barely manage my email and phone calls. Even now, it is difficult to write these words. I don’t want to pollute the field with more words. To what point, what purpose might they serve? So much is transpiring and accelerating in our time-space reality. Deeper listening and slower going are required. It is in the stillness that the deep change and the true shifts are occurring.
Just the witnessing. The witnessing.
Yet, for each of us, after listening, there comes the time to speak. We were pushed this winter to speak openly, honestly, compassionately with our beloveds.
Mars is in sidereal Cancer, the astrological sign of home, family, your personal history, our collective history, soul memory, Earth. We have been in a backwash, with a backlog of unresolved issues, especially around family or historical tribal conflicts, rising abruptly to the surface. This winter was meant to be a time, occurring once every two years, of direct truth telling around all those issues. It was a time for closure or foreclosure on every level. Honesty was the way through, which came only after you noticed your resistance or denial about speaking your truth or dealing with the bare bone facts. The point of these natural, cyclical retrogrades of planets is not bad, and does not have to be unbearably hard. Did you listen to yourself or to others grievances and speak the truth of who you are NOW to all those who held your history? Were you able to finally release the old judgments, ingrained habits of blaming the other? Did it suddenly feel better to forgive than to replay the old tale of woe? If you did some of that deep soulful work, then you used this transit well.
It was a time for the tail end of the tail end of your tale.
I ponder the coldness and disconnectedness of the term being used to describe our current situation: an economic downturn.
An economic downturn… really? Is that how best to describe this massive transition we are living through, this spiritual upheaval and awakening, this unprecedented shift in consciousness forcing us to evolve almost overnight, manifesting as a death cycle of sorts for each of us in the privacy of our own lives, and outwardly in the disarray of our institutions? I could go on… lives turned upside down, a loss of all known security, loss of your home, your income, your livelihood, your reason for existence as you have known it? An economic downturn?
It is easy to understand our level of collective denial when we understand of how massive and destabilizing these changes have been. This is where astrology, when used as a language for understanding historical cycles, is extremely helpful. For the past three years, Saturn (existing forms, restrictions), Uranus (revolutions, innovations) and finally Pluto (transformation, elimination, death and eventual rebirth) have been square-dancing through the heavens. But a T-square in astrology is never fun at first. It manifests as intense pressure, leading to releasing the old forms and traditions, ultimately using this cosmic creative tension to birth new forms and traditions. These are the times we really grow, and grow up. This Mars retrograde, and Saturn’s too, completing May 30, mirrors this universal wake up call. This can temporarily increase levels of anxiety and fear as we allow ourselves to feel what we have long buried. I imagine many anti-anxiety drugs were dispensed this winter. I took to putting lavender oil on my temples and the bottom of my feet at night to calm my nerves. The good news to report is this longer planetary aspect is coming to completion.
We are nearing the tail end of that cycle, about to reinvent ourselves.
Watching the magnitude and suffering of Haitian and Chilean earthquakes, and realizing that 2010 will hold greater earth changes, I was prompted at last to consider preparations for the kind of disaster that might effect us here in the Tetons. For the first time ever, I took seriously the brochure sent out by our emergency services for disaster preparedness for Jackson Hole Wyoming.
It appears the worst thing that could happen here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (except the Yellowstone caldera blowing as depicted in the recent movie Supervolcano) would be the Jackson Lake dam breaking due to an earthquake. Very few people’s home would survive such a catastrophic flood, even though we would have time to gather our families and tribes and drive away before we would have to abandon our beloved valley to the wall to wall water. And what of our wild animals, drowned or buried in debris?
In contemplating this devastating scenario, I remembered a dream I’d had in 1982. In the dream, I was sitting atop Blacktail Butte, seeing all of Jackson Hole flooded with water. This overlooked Butte with its reclusive Mountain Lions is a remnant of an ancient mountain range that preceded the uplift of the regal Teton range. It lies like a sleeping dinosaur or a tired, sprawled dog in the center of the floodplain. If there were a flood, this is where I would go as it is near my home. Around the time I had my dream, and later, there were others who had similar dreams. We talk, and ponder the meaning of these visions.
Last summer in 2009, I felt repeatedly called to walk the earthen shoulder of that dam. It starts out with solid concrete and steel, and then after a near mile, blends to an earthen arm that gently ends in the willows where Moose, Bear and Blue Heron reside. When I do an intentional walk, I listen, I pray for the Guardians to protect the dam, and I ask what we humans can do, on every level, to avert such a catastrophe. I believe humans have more responsibility and creative power than we sometimes grant ourselves in working with the larger universal forces at play. I know many people here who work in a similar way….hikers, mountain climbers, administrators, river guides, etc. I like to think of us as another form of SuperIndendents, a circle of lovers of this place, who work for the Park, for the wild, in the spiritual sense. It is unpaid, but vastly rewarding work.
One spring morning on a walk in the Park, it literally dawned on me (what a great phrase) that perhaps we have already lived through our flood. What if we have already experienced this destructive force, not as a literal elemental flood of water, but more of a metaphorical flood of change so life-transforming that is has manifested in many of the same ways are real flood would?
Think of the language used for this “economic downturn”: people are “underwater” in their mortgages, their cars. And in this valley, purported to be one of the wealthiest counties in the US, even the super wealthy are willingly abandoning their third or fourth homes to foreclosure. Not all, but shocking numbers of our citizens are underwater financially, losing everything, having to start over, pared down to the core necessities.
WOW. Somehow this thought brought me comfort. Instead of fearing the worst might still be coming, it would explain why this past year held such darkness and terror. If I had been forced to live frugally up there on Blacktail Butte, waiting out the subsiding water, all this might have felt more like an adventure, rather than experiencing long nights of panic, wondering how I will survive a threat I couldn’t fully comprehend. Suddenly my choice of wearing only a few favorite few clothes, some near threadbare status, and eating up all my food in my pantry with nothing going to waste….well that just feels like camping! Which I love! If only I could have known I was living through the flood, the waters were flowing all around me, and my only job was to stay afloat. My only focus was to ride it out. If only I had known.
Why do we always receive the realizations at the end of the dark night? Why not earlier in the process when they could really help?
In this ongoing cosmic tsunami where we have been at the mercy of water, carried by water, there has been no earth, no ground to speak of. No foundation, all foundations just the floating away. If the waters of change are subsiding and we are entering that yucky mucky stage of clean up, at least we can see the earth again. We have solid ground beneath us again. We can build new foundations again. We are standing upright, stripped bare of all but the necessities, looking around, reaching out to others for help and helping others.
The merciful forces of water and their catastrophic emotional cleansing have left us ready to create anew, more raw, more real, less encumbered, more alive, like one feels after a long backpack, even a harrowing adventure one lives to tell about.
The turnaround started in March. Mars is in forward motion as of March 10. Spring Equinox, March 20 brought back the literal return of the light to the northern hemisphere. April 13 marks the end of the winter moons. It is called the Balsamic Moon, the last day of the waning lunar cycle. Rest, relax, unpack from spring break, BE. Give appreciation for all the courage you have mustered to help you through these winter moons of completion. With the coming new moon on April 14, we enter the time of innovative spring moons. By mid-May, the entire Mars retrograde cycle will be complete. Let the wilder rumblings begin!
We are heading into a revolutionary period starting in May 2010. Whenever Jupiter and Uranus collide in celestial union, a new 12-13 year cycle of social change and technological innovation begins. This is historically when we have the truly Great Revolutions. The French, American and 1968-69 Revolutions all happened under this alignment.
From every walk of life, two kinds of humans will emerge:
Those who choose mob mentality and
those who choose to become teachers, leaders, innovators of culture.
More on that in the next Sky Oracle.