Hey, guess what?! Saturn goes back into Scorpio in just over two weeks. Isn’t that exciting?! I think it’s really just such a privilege to have another opportunity to review the underbelly of my emotional structures. Hooray!
You know, according to the Gnostic mythology, one of Saturn’s greatest tricks was to make everyone think he was the ultimate god — that it was impossible for anything greater to exist.
Keep in mind, however, that ‘impossible’ isn’t actually that much of a limitation — what’s impossible just defies logic and reason, and those wonderful Saturnian structures of society that seem so permanent but are actually quite transient.
The above paragraph is a riff off of something I learned last weekend at the Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC), in a lecture by my dear teacher Steven Forrest. It was my fifth year attending the conference, and I can’t say as there’s anywhere else I’d rather be during that holiday weekend — unless someone wants to tempt me with an all-expenses paid vacation to Heron Island off the coast of Australia.
I love NORWAC. It’s an environment that fosters a sense of community with incredible ease while playing host to an array of lecture subjects that can appease all kinds of different astrological minds and traditions. The vibe is totally tribal, and the people are bright and brilliant and open, even if my more shy tendencies inevitably come out. The experience infused me with a much-needed dose of inspiration and reconnected me to my true love: astrology, that multidimensional symbolic map of our true potential (I lifted that out of my notes from a different lecture, which I believe was quoting Rudhyar. Thank you, Mark Jones.).
As I, and I’m sure many of you as well, prepare for that shift of Saturn back into Scorpio, it occurred to me that it might help for me to take stock of and participate in the things that inspire me the most. Hopefully they will buoy me through the transit. And really, isn’t inspiration a Sagittarian theme?
Saturn’s brief, initial jaunt into Sagittarius is one of the factors I associate with my apparent complete loss of inspiration and meaning. My world has been devoid of meaning, flat and somewhat lifeless. One of the NORWAC lectures, by the lovely Lynn Bell, pointed out that when Saturn first goes into a sign, we come face to face with the fears associated with that sign. Enter Saturnian-Sagittarian mental chatter: “I’m not moving forward, I’m going in the wrong direction, nothing makes sense, I can’t find my spark, I’ve lost faith that it will ever return…”
The image of the centaur with the arrow, which is pointed in different directions depending on what image you see, asks us to start moving in a direction that changes this inner chatter, allowing us to move forward and expand our horizons. But first, we have to look behind us and see what is still lurking there, in order to move forward. We have to go back and deal with the nature of the shadow — with Scorpio. Wisdom only comes from having the courage to look back and shoot the arrow at what we haven’t been willing to face before. Without that key bit of knowledge, Sagittarius succumbs to its own shadow: the crusader who has lost sight of what they’re fighting for.
Astrological ideas like that inspire the hell out of me, not just because they’re powerful metaphors and analogies and visual descriptions of human trials. They also inspire me because they’re being presented by someone who has synthesized ideas and has learned how to communicate them to others. I’m also reminded of what an incredibly powerful tool astrology is for paradigm shift, because it does allow us to see cycles and relate them to our inner journey, and to see collective events in multifaceted ways.
At the conference I was inspired by talks on asteroids; astrological talismans; James Hillman; therapeutic astrology; Mary Magdalene and how we can look at Venus in the chart as a symbol of how we generate energy, with sacred sexuality being the bridge between spirit and matter (thank you, Emily Trinkaus); transgender charts; astrological writing…and on, and on.
I was also quite aware of astrology’s shadow — or one of them at least. With so many inspirational figures in our ranks, many of whom are used to having client’s truth and power projected onto them, we have quite a few crusaders in our ranks. Although I tend to be the type who just listens to others’ thoughts with the knowledge that my act of listening to the conversation doesn’t mean I agree, I’ve been noticing a trend for a while that really just annoys me, and speaks to the Sagittarian shadow. It concerns me, even though I’m sure it’s not a new phenomenon within the community at all.
There is a certain hubris that exists within the astrological community. I see it in conversations regarding which rulerships are “right,” or whether or not benefic/malefic determinations are “valid,” or what planet “rules” astrology. They are rarely conversations, actually, but statements made as absolute truth, and they often involve an implicit vilification or cutting down of anyone who disagrees, including colleagues.
Theories are presented as if for the first time. Astrologers throw around the notion that “no one else is looking at…” And I just have to shake my head and say, “Really? With umpteen zillion astrologers in the world, you really think you’re the only one doing that? And/or you think everyone else is wrong?” What is it that we’re fighting for, individually or as a tribe?
It seems like the magician complex gets a bit overblown sometimes. Counseling and consulting astrologers are very used to people coming to them for answers and for truth. There are several schools of thought within the field that deal with therapeutic astrology specifically, and I happen to be a fan of such an approach in which the astrologer is careful to listen and to help the client claim their own power and find their own voice.
I also realize, however, that some people just want to talk about their finances or get help with their business or focus on more mundane issues. Who am I to say there is something wrong with that, even if my belief is that astrology is experiencing increased face-time for more meaningful reasons? Astrology is a spiritual language to me, and part of my spiritual discipline — that doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone.
It seems that sometimes the shadowy Magician archetype blends with fears of illegitimacy — and anyone practicing a modality as shunned as astrology has come up against that one. I can imagine that being brilliant in a field seen as junk-science might wound one’s ego, resulting in a kind of fundamentalism.
One of the inspirational facets of astrology is that it is a fluid, living tradition. It adapts to cultural contexts, which keeps it vibrant and relevant. There are people practicing and researching more traditional forms, and that is important as well!
But do you know what really inspires me? The people who are seeking out astrological insight and other alternative forms of consultation. I have the honor of sitting with so many people who are seeking meaning and answers and the structures that can help them navigate their lives and expand their consciousness, during a period in history that constantly makes me wish astrology was taught in schools. When I can follow the advice of my astrological teachers and listen for what the client is asking, and then help them hear the voice of their own soul, as illuminated by the songs of the stars, my own soul is filled up.
Another point that was raised at the conference: you can only journey with clients as far as you’ve gone yourself. Perhaps the journey of Saturn back into Scorpio this round is a chance to do that, both as individuals and, for those of us who identify as part of the astrological community, as a tribe. If astrology is the vital, living tradition I believe it is, and has the capacity to help our society transform into a new way of being, perhaps it needs a little therapizing or astrologizing itself (thanks for that one, Adam Elenbaas).