I have to admit, it almost slipped me by. Until my friend Anne Whitaker gave me a nudge from her misty, Celtic perch on high. “Are you doing something?” she asked. Ummm….Yes, it’s World Astrology Day, a day when all of us who work with astrology should celebrate our craft. It’s also the equinox –a time for all good Pagans to observe the turn of the Earth towards a fresh warmth. The Earth spins round. The light comes back to us, there is ease in the elements, we enter a season of waxing abundance. Of course we should celebrate. But it brings one thing to my mind–that all of us who delve into astrology have to reconcile ourselves with that most avoided of masters–Time itself. I had been so busy teaching others about time in my progressions classes that I failed to note its passage.
Time. There are those of us who embrace it, and those of us who turn our backs on it. Our society encourages us to run away from it. Yet without the limits of time, life has no meaning. People with heavy Saturn know this instinctively, particularly Saturn to Venus, Mars and the Sun. They are always qualifying their achievements in terms of time–”yes, I know I won an Academy Award, but I should have done it ten years ago, when I could have really done something with it.”
Secondary progressions are all about the limits of time, which is one of the reasons I believe people avoid them in this ‘all opportunities around the corner’ culture. We can only go so far in one lifetime. The truth is that, sometimes, certain opportunities pass us by. We reach crossroads. We blow our last chances. We may have dipped our foot in the waters of our desires, and been prevented from going further, leaving our unfulfilled yearnings to be fulfilled in another future, another dimension, another lifetime, or to die with our time-limited flesh, according to our beliefs. We all have expiration dates stamped on us–do we acknowledge them?
It seems to me that we spend our youth avoiding and dismissing the whole question of time, and our later years far too aware of our limitations, and the finish line down the road. Maybe it’s right that we do, maybe it’s necessary. Someone once said that we spend our youth ‘clothed in rainbows’–and perhaps that’s as it should be; we should be fools and fool-hearty when we’re young, or we never would accomplish anything for fear. Saturn comes to us with a strong presence at thirty, very late in the day. He’s there to see that we put in place what has been initiated in our folly. If we’re honest about it, it’s Saturn who nurtures the seeds that were planted between our birth and our progressed lunar return at age 28. Our lunar life experience plants, and Saturn is the husband to that experience. The Moon sows and Saturn protects and reaps.
There used to be a saying along the lines of, “God protects children, fools, and drunks.” Now, we know that that isn’t literally true, certainly in this culture. We don’t believe that anymore. We are too attuned to the cruelty of the world. We can’t afford to be innocent. Children can be victims, fools stumble into traps, drunks die of liver disease. The world can be a harsh place, more ruthless than anything most of us would care to imagine. We lose people every day–they slip through the cracks of a life that is ‘acceptable’ in society’s eyes to one that is unacceptable, one that we would rather not see, and one that we can’t be bothered to notice. We have become indifferent to our surroundings. I was running for a bus one day in Port Authority in New York, and a homeless man was passed out on the top step of the escalator; the churning steps were scraping against his face. When I got to the bus I said to the driver, “Call the desk, there’s a man passed out on the escalator. ” The guy behind me, a typical, florid-faced business-guy type said , “Nah, it’s only a drunk,” the driver nodded his acknowledgment, and the bus rolled forward. The implication was, ‘don’t listen to the over-sensitive little girl’ (my little girl years are long behind me). It shocked me. It so shocked me that I’m ashamed to admit that I was so stunned I did nothing. I just kept staring back at the retreating staircase as the bus pulled away, thinking that I was leaving someone’s child back there, someone’s brother, someone who was once someone’s friend. This is Time as a cruel taskmaster. How much of the harshness and cruelty we see is inherent in the world, and how much of it is our own design?
We blame Time for our lack of responsible behaviour, over and over again. “I don’t have time” is our excuse for rudeness. “I don’t have time” is our excuse for not spending it with the people we love. “I don’t have time” has become, in fact, our anthem for disengaging from the world–we have used Time itself to take us out of the wisdom of Time. Our fear of Time is at the essence–we would rather live in an eternal, pressured, confused now than engage with our own limitations. We prefer to live in a land of possibilities, rather than do well the things we can really grasp. Some of us live for the possibility of love, rather than embracing the love that is available to us.
You say you love your aging parents, your grown children, but you never see them. Do you love them, really? Do you love the partner who drives you mad on a daily basis? Do you really love the job that takes you away from everything important in your life? Saturn teaches us one vast esoteric truth–that Time is full of magic. That what we spend time on actually grows in our life and in our influence, and what we don’t put the light of our attention on, dwindles. That’s the magic of Saturn working with the Moon–it’s a question of putting awareness to experience. Saturn’s conscious awareness magnifies the manifesting abilities of the soul. When we’re lucky enough to have love, we feel eternal. It can lubricate the wheels of awareness, but unless it’s anchored in experience, love comes and goes, and certainly disappears when, to paraphrase Arthur Miller, attention is not paid. This is how Venus and Saturn work hand in hand. (Ever notice how Venus/Saturn types show their love? They spend time with you.)
I’m writing about time on World Astrology Day because it’s a less-acknowledged factor of the art. We go on and on about planets and aspects and angles in the natal chart, but rarely talk about what it actually means to live a life within the limits of a certain time and place. We love the timeless and eternal. We avoid Saturn in favour of the lure of the glamourous outer planets (who have had way too much publicity in recent years). I talk about this in my progressions classes, which are all about time– a good astrologer needs to put things into context. A Mars/Uranus conjunction via progression can mean a spiritual awakening in a philosophical chart, or in the chart of an older person, but put that conjunction into the hands of an insecure, vulnerable 25 year old, who hasn’t yet experienced a lunar return, let alone any real Saturn, and you have a recipe for disaster. Astrology is the art of the eternal truth, but that truth must be anchored in time and space and circumstance. It’s our context, not our essence, that defines us. Essence without context is undefined and irrelevant. One birth chart is much like another, but put it in the limits of a life’s experience, watch how it moves forward, and it comes alive.
Astrology has taught me everything I know that is relevant to my daily existence. It has taught me that the divine energy has endless forms of earthly expression. What a lucky thing to learn, at any age, that we all have different styles of loving, and different ways of expressing and fulfilling our desires. That we all have different means of communication, and different ideas about responsibility. That we all have different spiritual tasks that we must perform in life–a sacred ‘to do’ list that is part of our life contract here on Earth. We all know these things vaguely, intellectually, but astrology allows us to clarify, to have empathy, to really understand what makes one person different from another–and gives us the ability to understand why one person may fall through society’s cracks, and the other may not.
In astrology, these days, we talk a lot about spirit. On World Astrology Day, let’s put the emphasis on the Earth. Let’s make sure our feet are on the ground. Let’s anchor our art in the here and now–let’s make sure that it’s accessible and helpful. Let’s not drown ourselves in the esoteric possibilities of the art, but try to make an art that alters people for the better so that they are ripe to make the potential changes they are always on the verge of making. Our art will not survive if it disappears into the realms of the obscure and esoteric. If we continually bang on about the development of spirit, without paying attention to the real limitations and struggles of human interaction, the art will die of neglect while we’re not looking. We will be like I was on that day in Port Authority–getting on the bus to go somewhere, obeying the tense and hurried voices in the crowd rather than the compassionate heart within, ignoring the reality that I had just experienced in the face of the need to move forward. We tell ourselves that there are so many answers these days, so many truths, so many possibilities, but it’s just not true. When the heart speaks in the context of the Earth’s wisdom, everyone wins.
Let’s help astrology to be more of what it has always been, an interaction of the divine and the mundane; the map of spirit anchored in matter, in time and place. When astrology focuses on the flow between spirit and matter, every silly minute of life, every tiny thing, becomes sacred, and we live our lives in a path of grace, no longer separated from what we truly love. Our lives become the vision of our love.
A friend of mine, whom I love dearly, thinks astrology is all hogwash. His life has been a walking illustration for astrological progressions and transits, but he won’t be persuaded. He’s been lucky, because his life has gone just as he wanted it, he’s gotten everything he’s ever wished for, all tickety-boo, and he’s never had to turn inwards to ask why something didn’t happen. A lot of people would envy him. I don’t. I wouldn’t trade the rockier roads of my life for his enchanted path, any more than I would trade my wisdom for his naivete. I worry what will happen to him if things suddenly take a less lucky turn, and fall apart. I worry if he’ll find compassion for himself if he fails. I don’t have to worry about myself, or my students, or anyone who is anchored in this beautiful art. We all like to believe we’re in the hands of the divine, but those of us who study astrology know it, and furthermore, we know how to ask those hands to guide us forward. Who could ask for more?
Happy World Astrology Day.
Wishing you all joy.