Did you feel that >click<?
On October 29 there was an energetic shift. Like a telephone jack snapping into the wall socket, Saturn entered Libra, and became a major player in the long-building configurations astrologers have been calling The Cardinal Climax. (1) The ante has just been upped.
Uranus and Pluto are ripening into their much-heralded square, the central drama of the period between 2010 and 2015. The Saturn ingress takes us one step closer to the T-square between all three.
Clarity of Mind
The greatest danger to the USA right now is neither socialism nor swine flu. It is fear, a madness as infectious as wildfire. The transits suggest that the best antidote to this fear is the distancing mechanism of thought.
Clarity of thought will now be easier to achieve. One reason for this is the Saturn ingress, which is adding an air sign to the mix. Air refers to the mental processes, which makes it a peculiarly human element. These marvelous brains of ours allow us to go places other creatures can’t go. We don’t take advantage of this sophisticated feature as much as we could. But in these times, wasting any of our resources, especially our intelligence, is a really dumb idea.
Saturn in Libra impels us to get focused and realistic in our decision-making. Debates (Libra) will be subjected to more scrutiny (Saturn) than they were under Saturn in Virgo. The intellectual integrity of an argument will count for more. This should be heartening for observers of America’s culture wars, which seem to have reached a new low in terms of their cringe-worthy lack of rationality.
Moreover, a conceptual boost of another order is coming from Uranus (genius), considered the higher octave of Mercury (mental processing). Uranus, whose influence is growing stronger by the week, breaks us out of our shells by knocking down cognitive barriers. It has been opposing Saturn since last November, and is getting ready to enter Aries, the most courageous sign in the zodiac.
Then there is the fact that Jupiter is in Aquarius (1/09 – 1/10), one of the triad of the Super-Conjunction that peaks again this winter. (2) Do you know anybody with natal Jupiter in Aquarius? When these folks are using the blessing they were born with, they personify the idea of “thinking outside of the box.” Even if an idea is unfamiliar or uncomfortable to them, they will dive into it and follow it to its furthest reaches.
No matter what our charts look like, we all have better access now to the inventive capacity of the human mind. These transits are calls to use reason (Libra) more responsibly (Saturn), and to dare (Aries) to break through the prejudices that fetter our thinking (Uranus). When over-indulged, emotions lead to agitation and anxiety. The risk of emotional over-reactivity will be high during the years ahead; and the universe is fortifying our powers of observation and consideration to negotiate our way through them.
Yet even as we burnish our intellectual capacities we must keep acknowledging our feelings. It is not an either/or situation. The mind cannot provide wisdom without the heart being engaged.
What would it feel like to apply true mental detachment to our consideration of the current state of planet Earth? It would mean stretching our minds to encompass, without fear or ideological prejudice, imagery that would otherwise repel us.
Science fiction writers achieve this distance, which is why they are able to invent previously unimagined scenarios. Have you read Ursula Le Guin’s stories? What a mind she has (her chart features Venus and Mercury opposite Uranus). It is the kind of mind that refuses to allow value judgment or fear-of-the-unknown to fetter the imagination.
Our first step in finding solutions to the immense problems the world faces right now is breaking through our denial. Denial kicks in when we feel ourselves to be under threat. It is a human protection mechanism, and there is no reason to fault ourselves for harboring it.
But right now denial itself is under threat. The countries of the world are no longer able to ignore the issue of environmental degradation. Even in the denial-crippled USA, for years the Earth’s primary offender (though we are neck-and-neck with China now in terms of carbon emissions), the news is full of statistics that undermine denial.
The fact that a plastic bag takes hundreds of years for to decompose was not known when I was a child. That is, it was doubtless known in scientific and academic enclaves, but it was not part of the national conversation. Even if ordinary folks had heard such a statistic, they wouldn’t have known how to put it into context.
But now a fact like this is common knowledge; the amount and the detail of such information mounts by the week. Americans can pick up a newspaper and read about how the plastic bags they get in stores are made from twelve million barrels of oil each year, and how the average use time for is twelve minutes. An awareness of humanity’s impact upon the Earth is burgeoning in the collective mind, crowding out centuries’ worth of ignorance.
More and more people are coming to understand the implications of the planet’s rising temperatures, and the increased pressure on water, food and land that will ensue unless radical steps are taken. We hear daily about the great poverty afflicting fragile states in Africa and elsewhere, about governments falling, about the waves of refugees searching for safe quarter. No longer considered chicken-little fantasies, these scenarios were validated from the lectern of the recent climate change summit by the Secretary General of the UN. They are here and now, and our denial of them is no longer an option.
Action vs. Thought
Our first response in discussions like these tends to be “But what can we do?”
This reaction arises from the premise, especially strong in the Western world, that action is the be-all and end-all, the triumphant apex of human capability. Thought and emotion come in a distant second and third.
But if action is launched prematurely, it will be fraught with reactivity and desperation. The question “What can I do?” cannot lead to an inspired answer when it carries this energy. It only leads to paralysis.
Doing must be anticipated by imagining. Action is predicated upon thought, not the other way around. Before we worry about behavioral responses we must conceptualize. With the current air transits to embolden us, we are free in a new way to ponder the meaning of the state of the world.
When enough people use their minds this way, the power of thought reaches a kind of spontaneous tipping point. Then action becomes appropriate and arises naturally. Such a phenomenon occurred on the first Earth Day in the USA. A quorum of individuals amassed a sufficient body of knowledge and had their consciousnesses raised accordingly; and 20 million of them took to the streets riled up for action. This is the kind of explosive, exponential burst of power that changes the world almost overnight.
It is preceded by thinking, learning and pondering.
Thinking Up the Future
The modern linear worldview is that there exists a singular future, sitting there waiting for us to come to it. Time is conceived as a train heading along a straight track towards a station. Since the future is thought to be already in place, the game becomes knowing what it is, so we can prepare for it. No wonder people are always asking astrologers, economists and “senior analysts” in TV interviews “what will happen.”
But humanistic astrology holds that there is no one future. Rather, there is an infinitude of potential futures. So there can be no predictions. (3) The future is a living, breathing, mutating sea of possibilities, whose specific manifestations are created anew at every moment from the raw ingredients of consciousness.
It is the quality of this consciousness that makes all the difference. This is why the integrity of our thinking—its boldness and creativity—is so important. Once we stop being intimidated by fear, denial falls away and we can open ourselves up to the transits’ invitation to muse. (Consider the classical meaning of the noun muse: a divine spirit, guiding us to a place of inspiration.)
The time is right for us to deliberately challenge our philosophical comfort zones. As with a pre-stretched sweater, the more we stretch our minds to embrace the portent of the years ahead, the better we will fit into them.
The world is full of people who are blossoming into the recognition that Mother Earth is an interconnected living organism. We can take comfort in the fact that the visionaries of the world are now in the ascendancy.
We all know in our bones that the Earth is alive. Our hearts understand that everything on this planet is linked to every other thing; that the butterfly in the jungle has an impact on the permafrost in Siberia. We are aware on a cellular level that every particle of every one of Earth’s systems knows what every other particle is doing.
Those who don’t know it, or who have forgotten that they know it—i.e. the old-school scientists still preaching mechanistic materialism, and all the practitioners of the hierarchical dominance model that has defined reality in the “civilized” world for the past five thousand years—represent the paradigm of the past. The ecological crossroads upon which humanity finds itself depends upon our rejecting the old paradigm and pledging allegiance to the new one (which is also, of course, utterly ancient).
What would it feel like to embrace the Gaia Theory as not just a theory? What would happen if large numbers of people refused to identify with the false worldview they grew up with, and lived instead in accordance with the rhythms and laws of Life?
Accessing the Transits
When we fully access the detachment of mind now available to us, we start to feel the old ways of thinking as heavy and oppressive. Personal attachments (ideas and behaviors that we cling to just because they are familiar) and cultural limitations (such as nationalism and other ideological creeds) start to feel like ropes holding down a helium balloon that is straining to be free.
Opening up to the long view might lead us to the idea that “saving the world” is not the same thing as “saving humanity.” In The Vanishing of Gaia: A Final Warning, James Lovelock goes the distance. His perspective on how humans fit in to the big scheme of things is compassionate yet quite unattached to things as they are, the better to see farsightedly. “We are…intelligent social animals,” he says, “with the possibility of evolving to become a wiser more intelligent animal, one that might have a greater potential as a partner for the rest of life on Earth. Our goal now is to survive and to live in a way that gives evolution beyond us the best chance.” Lovelock dares to propose that harm to the Earth system is ultimately more serious than harm to humanity. (4)
Such imaginings can easily turn unproductive if they are entered into out of fear, or in the hope of predicting scenarios. By contrast, the transits are encouraging us to play with ideas without attachment to outcome. In this spirit, the bigger the idea, the healthier it will make us. Daring to entertain the idea of an Earth without humans allows us to see what it would take for Earth to flourish with humans.
(1) But as Jeff Jawer has pointed out, the word climax doesn’t really apply here because the nature of cardinality is to begin riffs of energy, not to bring them to a head. Instead he suggests that these transits be collectively called the Cardinal Commencement or Breakthrough (“2010 and Beyond,” The Mountain Astrologer, Oct/Nov 2009).
(2) Jupiter caught up to Neptune and Chiron in May 2009. The three have been spotlighting the degrees of late Aquarius throughout 2009, conjoining again around the winter solstice.
(3) That is, to paraphrase Rick Tarnas, there can be no predictions of literal events, only of archetypal events.
(4) The idea of an Earth sans people is not just difficult for a lot of us to imagine, but morally repugnant. For most of us it feels blasphemous to even consider it, as if to even wrap one’s mind around the idea were tantamount to giving up; to signing off on our ecocidal trajectory. Perhaps counter-intuitively, for me it is a peaceful idea, promoting a feeling of safety.