Frederick Woodruff is a Fourth Way astrologer. Trained by Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, he’s practiced astrological inquiry for over 40 years. Mr. Woodruff offers private sessions by appointment.
The phone rang six times today. Everyone wanted to know the outcome of the election. Each caller explained how he couldn’t take one more minute of torment. I couldn’t blame him. Since when has a civic event ignited such fear, loathing and dread? Christ, I thought democracy was supposed to be sort of cool; and this feels more like a sickness of soul.
I’d decided last week to consciously minimize my obsessive tracking of the polls, the blogs, the posts and the predictions. I’d noted that my fervor was turning into a sort of masochistic dog treat. Like when a dog starts chewing on a bone so hard his gums begin to bleed and he thinks he’s getting more juice from the bone when really it’s just…
A lot of nothing.
And we want so badly for something right now. To appease, put in order, make the craziness subside. Ah, so maybe this election will finally ‘do it.’ Right?
I don’t think so.
Ours is a hybrid condition presently. Not unique in history, but unique to us right here and now. In astrology it is the trans-personal planets — Uranus, Neptune and Pluto that mirror, like a full moon on the surface of a still lake at midnight, our generational and cultural shifts. This is the gift, you could say, of the outer planets and what they symbolize. Dane Rudhyar called them “ambassadors from another galaxy”, and I think this is an apt term.
Each of the outer planets stands for a particular phase of an evolutionary process, a movement that is beyond the common boundaries of the planet Saturn, our marker for time and space — duration and location. Astrologers track Uranus, Neptune and Pluto to see more clearly the larger cultural milestones as they establish and then recede.
But like seeing what’s before our eyes, we can’t escape from what’s unraveling, too — the hallmark of the planet Pluto. Birth and death, what is the boundary that separates these two ‘states’? The trick is to see how organic the paradox really is, to remember that decay is a necessity to new life. Too, we need to find ways to settle and accommodate this process. Talk to a woman that’s giving birth to a baby; she can give you lots of metaphors and aphorisms to work with. As she lets go and ‘dies’ to her autonomy, she is is also born into the role of mother and motherhood. Birth and death co-emergent.
What this election typifies is the unrealistic expectations and demands we’ve placed on government. And each of us are part of this puzzling puzzle that comprises this peculiar vision.
A condition associated with our nation’s birth sign, Cancer. A sign that toggles between the dilemma of playing out two very different roles: The helpless child, or the protective, providing adult. What makes Cancers crazy (and those around them crazier) is assuming, unconsciously, that they can have it both ways. They can’t. We can’t.
As a Cancer nation we suffer from these unresolved contradictions. We demand and value individualism and freedom but we also attempt to dis-empower many of the institutions and corporations that originally fostered this freedom (a freedom that, sadly, as of late, is becoming a luxury; and only for those that can afford it).
We expect government to provide materially, but this is a feat that is only possible by an expansion of authority and a bloated bureaucracy. It kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
As Jungian Marie-Louise von Franz once pointed out, what complicates the American psyche is that we split our paternal projection right down the middle. We want government to be a protective father (who often turns tyrannical) but, too, we want daddy to behave as a nurturing, all-providing mother.
It’s easy to see where this leaves you and me: We’re the kids screaming back and forth at each other from our respective tree houses labeled FOX or MSNBC. I mean, how else can splitting play out? No one is willing to budge an inch, for to do so would shatter their particular half of the mommy/baby equation/illusion.
I’m a liberal. I voted for Obama (again), gladly — his recognition of civil rights and extending dignity to all Americans jibes with my own ideas; spiritual and philosophic. And yet, too, I can see the strange schism we’re lodged in — and its fallout. A clash that’s been incrementally building during the last four years and eerily mirrored in the ongoing square between the planets Uranus and Pluto, which I’ve written about extensively.
But outside the transit’s global, cultural and political implications, I’ve defined this potent square, for the individual, as an exacerbated disconnect from reality. A delusion that’s supported by electronic media and our dependence on this virtual world for our primary connection to reality. It’s like a snake eating its own tail and then developing performance anxiety. Instead of shedding its skin, as snakes — as symbols of transformation — are supposed to do, we keep reaching for the Prilosec.
As Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. once noted: “Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.”
We’re maxed out, mistaking the moon’s reflection in the water for the real thing. It’s time to get real!
This disconcerting disconnect from what’s virtual (seemingly real) and really real — what I call the Reality Gap — is what the Pluto in Capricorn transit will continue to remedy in the years ahead. Capricorn, the quintessential symbol of dense, undeniable matter is being rearranged by a force that’s only ‘mission’ is to purge the ways we’ve become disconnected from what is real. This seems to be Pluto’s mission as one of those ambassadors from another galaxy.
Real as opposed to false.
Simply put: Pluto’s impulse goads an organism, person or a culture to experience the style of an archetype in its purest, most raw form. No impediments. Zodiacal signs are strict differentiations of universal conditions — the archetypes or noetic forms of manifestation. Capricorn’s style is pragmatism. The Capricorn message is “Wake up! Get real.” Pluto in Capricorn says “Get real — or else.”
When a zombie’s sleepwalk is disturbed, bizarre behavior — disorientation and agitation — blooms as a reaction or defense against awakening. And Pluto disturbs in the most dramatic way possible, by ushering death into the equation — always a crowd favorite. “This isn’t working anymore. Off with its head.”
As the planet continues its slow grind through Capricorn (the sign opposite Cancer), we continue catching glints of the guillotine’s blade and it’s scaring the shit out us. Right-wingers, Lefters, Progressives, Regressives, God Lovers, God Deniers, Birthers, Baggers and Hipsters — everyone’s stirring, becoming unhinged — everyone is getting their freak on. The Reality Matrix is wobbling. Who will play powerful daddy/mommy. Who will be the disenfranchised baby? And so we have an election process like tonight’s.
The point here is to observe in detail our disconnect. Study the structure (Capricorn) of our lives and see how we deny the reality principle. It’s simple: You look at what you are not doing and start doing it. If the infrastructure of our world is beginning to transform, what do we need to understand, what do we need to do to align ourselves with the process? How can we help others align as well?
We’ve some prescience with astrology. We can’t predict how our world will look in the future, but our awareness can bring clarity as to where where we are positioned now, what part of a cycle are we moving through. And what that position implies. And really, that’s all anyone wants when she comes to an astrology session — to feel more, to understand, to be connected in a real way to the narrative of her life.
Do this for yourself. Here’s a hint that will help:
Embrace the notion of End of Days, not literally, but as a metaphor within the Zeitgeist — the spirit of the time we are experiencing. Of course the story never really ends, as Michael Mead writes in his fantastic book The World Behind the World:
“When people feel The End fast approaching, the beginning is also close at hand. The world, ever on the verge of explosion or collapse is also an eternal drama, a story being told from beginning to end, again and again. At the ‘end of the world as we know it’ the Unseen World waits to be found again.”
We’ve reached a distinct threshold, as a culture, with our particular timeline’s mythology. As James Hilman has said, our culture doesn’t have many stories to choose from that would help us through the process of disintegration. All we’re left holding is what our Judeo-Christian forefathers have handed down to us: The Book of Revelation. Not the most soothing of reads. As the writer Chris Kelly puts it: “American Evangelicals love Revelation, because it doesn’t make a lick of sense and then everything explodes.”
We need a new story. That’s where the Uranian impulse comes in. With Uranus moving through Aries the attraction to individualism should be your guiding principle. Find out specifically what it is that you have to offer, what you can bring to the narrative, what is unique, what allows for maximum self-expression, and do it. Remember Pluto in Capricorn’s axiom: Discover what you’re not doing and then start doing it.
It sounds kind of selfish doesn’t it? But that’s what Aries is about. In a good way. The only way to solve our nation’s Cancerian issue — the mommy, baby, daddy mindfuck is to simply grow up. Assume one’s unique calling as an adult.
Mitt Romney, Barack Obama — they’ll be doing their own thing in their own way come next week and that will be that. But it’s up to you to find a way to do your own thing — and then do it.
Opening image: Train wreck at Montparnasse, 1895. Photographer unknown.