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Saturn and Neptune and the boundaries of compassion

reposted from February 2007

Last night I watched part of a Dog Whisperer episode that I missed about Howie, the (adorable) rescue dog that lived at an animal hospital in Atlanta because he was “unadoptable.” Howie had been terribly abused before his rescue, and while his body had healed he was still terrified and growled whenever anyone new came near him. The ladies who cared for him were very protective of him and did all they could to keep him safe. He lived at the animal hospital for two years before Cesar Millan came to help Howie become adoptable.

When Cesar arrived, he found that Howie had been indoors for two years. Because of his abuse, his foster moms had been afraid to put a leash on him for fear it would bring back memories of the terrible times. They felt he had been through so much, and they just wanted to keep him safe and loved. Cesar always says that dogs live in the moment, and that if we keep living in the past and reinforcing that for them that they will never heal.

Chiron teaches us that our desire to heal others often stems from a wound within ourselves. In the highest form of this “Wounded Healer” archetype, we wait to heal others until we ourselves have been healed. Once we have walked into the fire and shadows of our own wounds and the energy held in the cellular memory has been released, we then experience the empathy to be able to help others heal. However, there is a shadow side to the Wounded Healer in which the wounds of the patient activate the wounds of a healing provider who has not yet fully healed. Jung called this phenomenon “countertransference,” and in this circumstance the patient and healer become locked in a drama from which neither can escape without outside help. This is likely what happened with Howie the rescue dog and the ladies who rescued him.

Those of us (myself included) who rescue animals or who otherwise have rescue fantasies are sensitive souls who have been wounded and who seek to heal ourselves through healing the animals we rescue. This is a Neptunian experience, since Neptune bestows boundless compassion, sensitivity, and an empathy which causes us to experience the suffering of others as if it were our own. While these are beautiful qualities, without the boundaries and discipline of Saturn we become codependent and unable to be effective in either our own healing process or the process of others. Cesar Millan’s famous refrain “rules, boundaries, and limitations” is the Saturn influence that, when combined with the Neptunian empathy, creates a truly effective healer.

I have had to learn this the hard way. With Saturn on one side of my Sun and Neptune on the other, it has taken me a lifetime to learn to balance the two. For years I tried to rescue myself by rescuing others, and finally realized that until the work on myself was closer to completion I would never be able to help anyone else. In the story of Howie, his rescuers were so overcome with grief and compassion at the plight from which he was rescued, they were unable to perform the simplest act that would complete the healing process: put a leash around his neck and take him for a walk. It was evident that Cesar felt compassion for Howie when he gently encouraged Howie to take his first steps outside. But the boundaries that he maintained in not falling into the pool of Howie’s pain helped him to truly heal this dog.

In the same way, those of us with strong Neptunian influences (planets aspecting Neptune or in Pisces and the twelfth house which are ruled by Neptune) need to cultivate the influence of Saturn in order to function effectively in the world. Cesar Millan’s pragmatic approach to dog psychology teaches dog owners this balance, but his lessons are valuable for anyone who lives on Planet Earth.

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By | 2012-04-16T06:28:31+00:00 April 16th, 2012|Favorite posts|6 Comments

The Decline of the American Empire

decline of america

Last week I wrote about the Sibley chart that I and most other astrologers use for the United States as a preface for this series since this is the chart I am using to track the change of fortune for the US.  The Sibley chart shows Sagittarius rising, with the Sun in Cancer in a wide conjunction to Jupiter in the seventh house of alliances and open enemies.

Since I mentioned writing this article, the US debt was downgraded for the first time in American history by the Standard & Poor rating index.  (Let’s ignore for the time being the irony of the fact that it was errors in the methodology of S&P’s and other rating agencies that got us into this mess with the subprime mortgage debacle.)

I’ll save an exhaustive analysis of the Sibley chart for another post, but it’s important to note a few things before discussing the situation today. The Sagittarius ascendant in the US chart reflects the expansive tendency of the American empire which is probably the single thing that will be its undoing.  Like other empires before it, the expansion of the national identity (Sagittarius ascendant) through ideas like “Manifest Destiny” which inspired pioneers to trek across the undeveloped terrain and do battle with the native peoples and Mexicans and Canadians who were already living on the land.

This relentless push for expansion tends to weaken the underpinnings of a nation, as we can see in the history of the Roman, the Russian and the British empires, the great empires of our age. During the period from 1995 to 2008, when Pluto transited through Sagittarius bringing globalized governments and corporations, it appeared to some that the expansion of American democracy to Iraq would help to bring  greater wealth to the US and the idealized democracy to the Middle East.

Since Pluto entered the contracting sign of Capricorn, however, the cracks in the foundation have become more evident.
Pluto deals with issues of compulsion and use and misuse of power, and in the US chart Pluto lives in the second house of money.  You can read more about that here, but the hunger for money and resources combined with the relentless urge to continually expand the national identity (Sagittarius rising) is not a good combination for a sound economic policy.

The Moon in the US chart is in the idealistic sign of Aquarius, the sign that seeks a radical Utopian vision of life, the “great experiment of liberty” that the founding fathers envisioned as they departed from a continent run by dynastic monarchies.  Aquarius is an unemotional sign and very easily convinced that the ends justify the means.  Dick Cheney has a strong Aquarian component to his chart and serves as a good example of this principle.  Americans like to keep their ideals intact, preferring to believe that good Aquarian principles of justice and fairness are the guiding forces behind the actions of their government.  But the facts on the ground suggest otherwise.

Other planetary forces are at work here as well.  In 2006 the US progressed Mars turned retrograde for the first time in the nation’s history, but before the actual retrograde turn progressed Mars was stationary for several years in preparation.  During that period (approximately 2003 t0 2006) the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan occurred following the September 11th attacks, and since then the Obama administration has conducted military exercises in Libya that continue to drive up the budget deficit.

The US Sun progressed into Aquarius in 1975 and the peace movement finally resulted in the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.  During the Aquarian period (until 2004) there was a greater focus on technology and cultural transformation.  In 2004 the US Sun progressed into Pisces, and you can read more about the travels of the US Sun here.  Suffice it to say that Pisces is an influence that can elevate consciousness, or create confusion and delusion.

Meanwhile, over the past couple of years the primary players in the Cardinal Drama have transited the Midheaven of the US chart, beginning with Pluto in 2008.  The Midheaven is the government and national reputation, and when the Great Transformer aspects the Midheaven in any personal or national chart, transformation is sure to occur.  Usually there is a breakdown phase of one kind or another, and the transit of Pluto was followed by a transit of Saturn which is currently in effect, creating challenges and economic difficulties, and by Uranus which is currently serving to foment rebellion via the Tea Party and a general disruption of the stability of the government.

At the same time Pluto and Uranus are  in challenging aspects to Venus and Jupiter, the more benefic planets in the chart.  Transiting Pluto has been in direct opposition to Jupiter for the past six months, challenging the nation’s confidence and expansive potential.

And let’s not forget the US Saturn Return, which began last December and concludes this August.  The Saturn Return occurs every 30 years, and while this is a major event in the life of a human it is not so uncommon in the life of a nation. Still – Saturn serves as a reality check and requires that we face our delusions wherever necessary.

The unsustainable idea that the United States can maintain a military presence with a  multi-trillion dollar debt and a populace that is increasingly suffering from unemployment and homelessness is one that is ripe for Saturn’s reality check and Pluto’s deconstruction and regeneration process.

As with any astrological significator, these planetary cycles do not doom the United States to a decline, but they will certainly serve to point out areas where the nation is weak.  The Uranus/Pluto square will be in an exact aspect to the Sun in the US chart in 2014, and that will be a defining moment for the nation.  Whether there is a revolution (Uranus) and breakdown of the power dynamic (Pluto) at that time depends very  much on what occurs now.

By | 2016-10-08T11:05:06+00:00 August 8th, 2011|Favorite posts, Politics|5 Comments

Sunday inspiration: Butterfly transformation in the collective

Thanks to for about the phenomenon of “imaginal cells” in the metamorphosis of the butterfly:

After a caterpillar buries itself inside its cocoon, it waits to morph into a butterfly.  The caterpillar does not simply shrink a bit and sprout wings.  Instead, it sort of disintegrates into a puddle of ooze within the cocoon.  If we were to open the cocoon halfway through the process, we would not find a half-caterpillar half-butterfly type creature, but a blob of goop.  The goop is made up of a bunch of individual cells that are all basically the same type of oozy cells.  For whatever reason, after the caterpillar has turned into ooze, a new type of cells start appearing.  The original ooze cells are NOT changing into these new cells, but rather the new cells seem to come out of nowhere.  They just appear out of thin air so to speak.

These new cells are called imaginal cells and they are so completely different from the original ooze cells that they are thought to be a virus or some other form of enemy so the ooze cells begin attacking the imaginal cells.  However, even though the imaginal cells are being killed off for not fitting in, they still keep showing up, more and more of them.  Eventually, the imaginal cells begin to find each other and cluster together.  Like attracts like, and the clusters begin to join up with other clusters.  The original ooze cells still keep attacking them but the imaginal cells continue to multiply and cluster together.

Eventually, they become a large community and they switch gears from simply being a group of like-minded cells into the programming cells of the butterfly.  Some imaginal cells start changing into wing cells, some start changing into antenna cells, some start changing into digestive tract cells, and so on.  They are no longer imaginal cells but become butterfly anatomy cells.  As we all know, if left alone to do his thing, the butterfly eventually emerges as a completely new entity from the original caterpillar.  Do they hold the same memories, life lessons, and consciousness?  Who knows?  One would think that for survival of the species, the butterfly would still retain whatever knowledge the caterpillar had learned before entering into the cocoon state.

imaginal cell transformation

This is a new concept to me, so I began to do some research.  The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly has always fascinated me because it so closely mirrors my own experience of personal transformation in which we begin as an ordinary caterpillar, and then are forced into a chrysalis by a transit of Saturn, Pluto or Chiron.  The chrysalis is actually a protective device to protect us as we complete the transformation process.

Transformation goes  beyond the personal, and once we have made the metamorphic leap ourselves we can begin to serve as “imaginal cells”  for the transformation of the communities in which we live.

This process isn’t easy.  Like the imaginal cells in the metamorphosis of the butterfly, those of us who serve as transformative forces in our community are not always recognized as a positive influence and this will be especially true as the force of government power (Pluto in Capricorn) squares off against the force for revolutionary independence (Uranus in Aries).  But just as in the story of the butterfly, as we join forces, sharing the resonance of a new vibration and new information, we can become forces for positive transformation that will reverberate around the world.

For daily planetary news, visit my and pages.

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By | 2011-05-15T09:58:54+00:00 May 15th, 2011|Consciousness, Favorite posts, Inspiration|1 Comment

Astrology and the Forer Effect

astrology skepticHere is an interesting article about an experiment performed in 1948 by Bertram R. Forer who collected statements from sun sign columns and then presented them to his subjects as though they were personally assessed as part of a personality profile.  Note: “horoscopes” are not sun sign forecasts, the horoscope is the actual map of the sky at a given time – the astrological chart, if you will.

These statements include the following:

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself.

While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them.

You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.

At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.

You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.

At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.

Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

The author of this article is correct – these do all apply to everyone to some extent or another.  The Forer Effect is designed to prove something psychologists call “Subjective Validation,” or as the author says, “you are far more vulnerable to suggestion when the subject of the conversation is you.”

The author goes on to write:

Seen straight on, horoscopes describe the sort of things we all experience, but pluck one from the bunch, turn it ever so slightly, and you will see the details, the accuracy. If you believe you live under a sign, and the movement of the planets can divine your future, a general statement becomes specific.
It is the the hope which gives subjective validation its power. If you want the psychic to be real, or the sacred stones to forecast the unknown, you will find a way to believe them even when they falter.
When you want to believe something, when you need something to be true, you will look for patterns; you connect the dots like the stars of a constellation. You will take the random and give it purpose, transmutate the chaotic into the systemic, see chance as fate.
Your brain abhors disorder. You find patterns where there are none, see faces in clouds, demons in bonfires.

Seen straight on, horoscopes describe the sort of things we all experience, but pluck one from the bunch, turn it ever so slightly, and you will see the details, the accuracy. If you believe you live under a sign, and the movement of the planets can divine your future, a general statement becomes specific.

It is the the hope which gives subjective validation its power. If you want the psychic to be real, or the sacred stones to forecast the unknown, you will find a way to believe them even when they falter.

When you want to believe something, when you need something to be true, you will look for patterns; you connect the dots like the stars of a constellation. You will take the random and give it purpose, transmutate the chaotic into the systemic, see chance as fate.

Your brain abhors disorder. You find patterns where there are none, see faces in clouds, demons in bonfires.

This reminds me of the Skeptics Challenge I ran on this blog a few years ago, where I challenged astrology skeptics to get a free mini reading from me to see if they changed their mind.   Several rather sincere skeptics did take me up on my offer and were notably impressed.  One skeptic, however (Paul), took the mini-reading I did for him and posted it on his blog, eliminating the statements that were specific to him and using only the general ones.

Paul very much wanted to continue the argument, but I have no interest in arguing the rational validity of astrology.  To me the proof is in the pudding.  I’ll be the first one to argue that Sun Sign newspaper columns, which some people call “horoscopes,” are very general.  They are meant to be!  Not all people born under the sign of Aries will have the same experience, the birthchart is too complicated for that to be the case.  Some of those people will have a heavy watery Pisces influence in their chart, others might have earthy Capricorn.

I do think it’s terribly sad that skeptics refuse to open their mind to the beauty and magic of the Universe.

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By | 2010-07-07T08:57:45+00:00 July 7th, 2010|Astrology, Favorite posts, Sun signs|2 Comments

Autism: A disorder or new breed of transhuman?


image from Daily Galaxy

For some time know I have suspected that the growing incidence of autism spectrum disorders is evidence that the human species is mutating in preparation for the Aquarian Age.  Aquarius is the sign of innovation and radical departure from the known and the ordinary, and it also represents the realm of reason and the transpersonal.  Mr. Spock in Star Trek was the quintessential Aquarian personality, and President Obama, with Aquarius rising, is known for his Spock-like detachment and reason.  (Something that’s getting him in trouble now, but that’s another story…)

Now certain genetic traits in autistic people that differ from genetic activity in people without autism.

The scientists compared the DNA of almost 1,000 people with autism with DNA from almost 1,300 people who do not have the disorder. The findings, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, show that the collection of developmental disabilities known as autism spectrum disorder involve dozens of genes and numerous combinations of rare mutations – so many that patients may each have a unique form [emphasis added].

I’ve written quite a bit about autism over the years and this concept of human mutation, and it appears that science is now catching up with speculative research.  Many people with autism have exceptional skills (rent the recent HBO film on Temple Grandin, it’s quite amazing), as in the case of autistic savants.

This is not universally true, of course, and the lives of autistic children or adults and their families are often filled with stress and despair.  But whether humans are mutating as the result of environmental forces or to adapt to a New Age of human experience, treating this sort of transformation as a disorder does little to help the adaptation process.

about a time in the not-too-distant future when technological intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and there will be a melding of man and machine.  If we can adopt a new way of looking at autism, and see this as a transformational development in human history rather than a disorder, perhaps the process can be made a little less painful and even a bit exciting as we head into a Brave New World.  Because really, we don’t have a choice.