Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Western Negative Saturn

Saturn sets boundaries and limitations and pushes us to achieve, to become good at what we do and to gain recognition for it. Negatively, he fills us with thoughts of what we ought and should be doing, and makes us feel guilty for not measuring up. Well, he doesn’t in reality push us or make us do anything, but he does describe those positive qualities and dysfunctions within ourselves.

The guilt for not measuring up is endemic within our society; it’s what I call the western negative Saturn. You see it in America’s natal Sun square Saturn, and you see it in the Capricornian Sun of the UK, the EU and all those other countries and institutions that were founded on January 1st.

I regularly encounter it in readings, usually in the form of a conflict between what someone wants to do and ideas of career and achievement, which invariably turn out on examination to be someone else’s ideas and not their own. But it’s very powerful, it’s deep within the culture, which is why people find it so difficult when for some reason (usually a major transit!) they can’t keep going like they used to and can no longer ‘justify’ their life to themselves by being busy.

Being busy and working hard: those are the 2 great virtues of negative Saturn. So and so worked very hard for many years, so he is virtuous. No doubt many drug smugglers, gangsters and tyrants have ‘worked hard’ to get to where they’ve got to. And keeping busy and working hard are often an escape from guilt, from the miserable loser-ship of being idle or poor.

Negative Saturn divides society into winners and losers, judges on appearance and never looks beneath the surface to see what is of real value. It does not produce happiness, but it does produce a wealthy country, in which people can be relied on to keep working, keep busy and not to think. It is like the drug that the queen bee produces to keep the workers working and serving the needs of the hive. It is a brainwashing. It is the real conspiracy, except it is collective and unconscious.

It is easy to appeal to people’s sense of inadequacy. Christianity has a lot to answer for, with its notion of Original Sin, as does the Protestant Work Ethic (in East Asia you get the Confucian Work Ethic).

On a bad day, I notice this sense of ‘not measuring up’ as a sort of free floating element within me, and whatever I say to myself, however much I say but I do this and I do that and I’ve done this and I’ve done that, it’s still there. And I don’t think it’s personal, I think I’ve absorbed it from the culture, even though there is also a pronounced Saturn in the charts of my family background.

And here’s an answer – Pine Flower Essence! It’s a remedy for guilt. I started taking it the other day and a few hours later I found myself wandering around the local supermarket in a wonderful contemplative state, happy with who I am. So for any of you out there who feel you ‘ought’ to be this and ‘ought’ to be that – is there anyone out there who isn’t like that? – here is a way out of it. As I say, it’s a deep thing; it vitiates our culture, if you start to sort this one you really are getting somewhere. Just do the things you love doing without any notion of achievement.


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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Gorran Haven, Idless Wood and Neptune

This should take your mind off the General Election. In my piece a week ago, I talked about ‘Building an Altar to Neptune’, and over the weekend I tried it out myself in Cornwall. Firstly, a reminder from last week’s piece:

The story behind the ceremony goes back to Odysseus, one of the heroes of the Trojan War (the Wooden Horse was his idea) who got stuck on his way home to Ithaca. What happened was that he had blinded the one-eyed Cyclops, and this angered Neptune, who was his father. So Neptune made sure that the sea was against Odysseus in his attempts to return home. Eventually Odysseus went to the Underworld to seek the advice of the blind prophet Tiresias, who said he had to perform a ritual: take an oar, a symbol of the sea, and carry it inland to a place where no-one has heard of the sea, and there you must build a temple to the god who has been oppressing you. Odysseus did this, found favour with Neptune, and was able to make his way home.

So I thought this ritual could apply well to a Neptune transit, to that time when you feel you are in a swamp and seeking a new vision for your life. I’ve been living in Glastonbury for nearly 12 years, and for some time I have felt the need to move on, but the way forward has not been clear. For the last few years I have had first Neptune conjunct my Sun, and now Neptune conjunct Desc, and it just seems to be going on and on. I’m feeling oppressed by Neptune, I need to get him onside. Neptune is the ocean, the place of dreams. In carrying something from the ocean to the land you are giving a dream a place to grow, to take root.

On Friday I travelled in my van (which I slept in) down to Fowey, had something to eat, but felt a bit exposed in the car park there, especially with me having a bottle of wine and not wanting the police to try and do me for being over the limit in charge of a vehicle, even with my keys concealed in a hedge! So I went a few miles down the road to Golant, a tiny village by the river, and parked up. A car with blue flashing lights promptly drove by and parked at a hotel just up the hill. Hmm, I thought. But nothing seemed to be happening, and I FELT safe, in a way that I hadn’t in Fowey. I thought I can’t prove anything here, but I do trust my feeling of being safe here. At that point a van with blue flashing lights appeared and pulled up by me. Oh shit, it’s the police and they’re going to get awkward with me, this stranger who has parked up in a tiny village. But it wasn’t the police, it was an ambulance, and the earlier car had been an ambulance, and I was OK. But it was a nasty moment, and it was interesting that it happened at just the moment where I’d said to myself ‘OK, I trust my feeling.’ It was like a joke, or a test, and a kind of affirmation that yes, I can trust my feelings in these situations. Because we all have the capacity to judge situations accurately with our feelings, but we are not taught to do this, it is a like a limb that has become withered through lack of use.

The next morning I set off for the beach. I’d given notice, so to speak, to the ocean, and something would be waiting there for me to bring inland. Like any good quest, I had to try a bit. I spent some time in the Fowey area, where there is an amazing beach, but they were building on it, so I didn’t go near it. I tried another road, and ended up back there again. OK, not Fowey, I’m going to have to go somewhere more remote. I drove down the coast and it became easy. I ended up in a small, remote village called Gorran Haven, which had a beautiful, sheltered beach and cliffs. I walked out onto the expanse of sand. There was apparently nothing there. I kept walking, and suddenly in a direct line with where I was headed was about the only object on the beach.

It was an exquisite razor shell. I couldn’t believe what a beautiful object the ocean had thrown up especially for me, the only object in sight and directly in the line I was walking. I was in tears at what had happened, and thanked the sea.

Now it was time to move on. Previously I had tracked down a forest on the internet, Idless Wood, just north of Truro. Inevitably I took the wrong turning (Mercury retrograde) and ended up going up and down a section of the A39 before I realised that I has misread the map. But you don’t want these things to be too easy, so I didn’t mind.

Idless Wood is mixed deciduous and conifer, and lies on the side of a hill. It has a wide path going up and through it, and I realised that I wanted the shell to be high up, to give expansiveness to the vision. I walked for about 20 minutes until the path seemed to have reached its high point. I then went up and into the forest. Progress was not easy, as the undergrowth was thick. Soon the path was no longer in sight, and my only concern was getting back! I eventually found a tree – not the tree, it didn’t feel like that was necessary, as it would be the whole woods that would carry and nurture the vision. But it was a mature tree, a conifer, and it was there that I buried my shell. The shell from the place of dreams has been planted in the earth, and the trees symbolise the growth of something from that seed. I told the woods the qualities I was looking for, and that I would return in due course to thank them again.

Later I drove up to the north Cornish coast. The sky and the sea were grey as I approached, but the sun was breaking through some clouds on the horizon, casting a pool of light on the ocean, the sort of crystal light you only get in Cornwall. The next day I headed towards Dartmoor, and spent the night in my van in some woods high up on the moor. In the morning I woke up from a dream of a man, a presence, in the front of the van, which persisted after I woke. He was tall and sinewy and I realised it was the god Mars. There was another presence, lower down, dark and with a helmet, a bit spooky. It was Pluto. Why had those two showed up?

I gradually pieced it together. I currently have a Pluto conjunct Mars transit. Mars, on one level, is about knowing what you want. My trouble at the moment is that, though I know I need to move on, I don’t know what I want. Pluto will sort that out. But not just yet, for he doesn’t exactly cross my Mars until next year.

So I had honoured Neptune, I had gone to his ocean, received his gift and planted it in the earth. And I got a response. The Cornish coast had shown light breaking through the clouds, so it is going to happen. But nothing can happen until I know what I want, and the time is not yet ripe for that, as Pluto and Mars were showing me. A few more steps down the line, and it will be time to return to Gorran Haven and to Idless Wood to thank them.


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