By Amanda Moreno
Today I found myself in a familiar headspace: restless and looking once again at PhD programs at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Attending is a pipe dream, being as I’d likely need to take on more debt than is legally possible as I already have quite a bit from my master’s degree. But still, that school is doing incredible work in the realms of philosophy, cosmology and consciousness studies, among other things. When I began my graduate work, it was with the intention of then going to complete an extended academic career at CIIS, and specifically to work with Richard Tarnas.
Then, in the spring of 2012, I was shown by the powers that be (in the imaginal realms, that is) that at this point in my life that path would be a way of bypassing the emotional body and that I was to do one-on-one ‘healing’ work with people.
I came out of that session feeling completely detached from a dream I had been passionate about for years. Strange, but I accepted it with the understanding that there might still be time for it later.
About an hour after staring at curriculums and tuition costs and fees this morning, I got an email from an astrologer inviting readers to reflect on what’s happened in their lives since the first of the exact Uranus-Pluto squares on June 24, 2012. It occurred to me that the day before that, on June 23, I had been presenting my graduate work to 30 or so people just before my graduation.
My graduate work more or less focused on the Uranus-Pluto square. I’d gone into the program knowing I wanted to use depth psychology and Richard Tarnas’s work with archetypal astrology and collective movements, and emerged with a familiarity with two additional paradigms: evolutionary astrology (including the form of cathartic regression work I practice) and Joanna Macy’s work with The Great Turning; Ms. Macy also happens to be adjunct faculty at CIIS.
Bear with me here.
My thesis, entitled “Astrological Ritual and the Apocalyptic Imagination,” used three main concepts oriented under the umbrella of depth psychology. First was the image of the mushroom cloud as a primary metaphor for our current apocalyptic rite of passage. Second was ritual as a means of creating containers strong enough to hold and transform our grief and despair for what’s happening to the world. Third, it examined astrology as a paradigm that is universal and yet diverse enough to inform those rituals and help each of us navigate our paths meaningfully in an increasingly individualistic culture.
Since then I’ve done so much frickin’ work with my emotional body. The thing has been uncovered and is alive and writhing and there are so many times when I have no idea what to do with it. I’ve begun to build a ‘private’ practice. I’ve been teaching classes that are very much grounded in Joanna Macy’s work and the philosophies of emotional evolution that I associate with evolutionary astrology and depth psychology.
Today, as I once again looked longingly at the curriculum for a CIIS program, I wondered: is it time? Or am I just avoiding? I’ve been getting hints of avoidance lately, but it’s all quite confusing, as I’ve been getting hints of lots of things, actually. I don’t quite know which way is up and so I’m trying to engage the ways forward that are emerging in my client work: Let’s not create new stories just yet; the old ones are still so close and we need some time to just be and finalize the letting-go process.
Now, I’m well aware that the Uranus-Pluto square doesn’t end with that last exact square on March 16. The planets are in orb essentially through the decade, no longer waffling between waxing and waning squares. The effects will take a while to integrate. The lightning bolts have struck, and now we get to catch up. Hopefully that catching up will involve implementing constructive solutions for sustainable change rather than avoidance. The words of Dave Matthews come to mind here: “We gotta do much more than believe if we really want to change things.”
Lately, I’ve felt a new layer of an old wound coming forward. Let’s just say it has to do with that defining moment when one steps away from the herd and accepts the call of the soul. It’s triggering all kinds of things that I honestly thought I’d dealt with. It feels as if I’m saying goodbye in so many ways, although to what specifically I’m not sure. I’ve never really wanted marriage, career, home ownership and children. But right now those things seem so…comfortable. Even if they also reek of soul annihilation.
Let me rephrase that, though — it feels as if I’m being faced with the option to say goodbye. There’s a finality to it. Although I’ve been anticipating this moment for a long time, my heart is full of apprehension and grief, at least I think it would be if I wasn’t avoiding and feeling a sense of aversion.
Am I avoiding because I’ve done so much emotional-body work and need a break? Is it possible to take a break? Am I avoiding because I’m just not cut out for the work of a healer or peacemaker or person who diverges from a horrendously destructive paradigm? Am I avoiding because I don’t know how to reconcile building an alternative lifestyle while paying rent in a city where rent is skyrocketing? Is the idea that the paradigm is destructive just a false construct of my own beliefs? Or is it because I’m actually standing at a precipice…
I don’t know that I can get answers to these questions (at least not before Saturn goes back into Scorpio…urgh), and for once I’m not really seeking outside for answers. It seems I’ve found myself enmeshed in so many alternative lifestyles all at once that finding counsel that I feel can hold all of it is unlikely. Although I’m keeping this process to myself for the most part, I figure these questions are relative to the collective, and so hopefully they’re relevant to you.
Let’s go ahead and bring it to the objective level. We’ve been through so much, not just in the past few years but in our entire history. Ancient wisdom tells us that everything is inherently connected, that we are an interconnected system and that therefore all that revolution, chaos and upheaval is flowing through you and me as much as it is through any being more acutely and directly affected. But then, so are all the love, hope and compassion, even if compassion needs insight in order to prevent burn out.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. One thing feels clear: of all the paradigms I’ve brought together for my own journey during the Uranus-Pluto square, the ideas of Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects are the ones that bring me the deepest sense of being grounded and effective time after time. At the “beginning” of this phase, I was linked into that paradigm, and now I feel like I’m coming home to it once again. Perhaps it’s time to pay attention to that.