Pisces-Sept07-DE7863sAR800Is the urge to spirituality innate?

Carl Jung certainly thought so.

He suggested the need to make connection with something greater than yourself is only make you feel truly alive.

One way to look for this connection is through your natal birth chart. You must be prepared, however, to look further afield than Jupiter and Neptune –  the ‘usual’ astrological significations of spirituality. Remember that every planet represented in your chart, was once a god or goddess in his or her own right.

Naturally this isn’t easy – getting in touch with the numinous. It could even be dangerous. As Liz Greene has always been quick to remind us, personally expressing the energies of outer planets like Uranus, Neptune and Pluto can not only be overwhelming but pathological.

So for now we’ll stick to the inner planets – are you up to the challenge?

To get an idea how this might work for you, look at your strongest and most influential planets (by sign and house placement)– and don’t forget the ruler of your ascendant – your chart ruler. For example, with Libra rising focus on your Venus. If your Sun is in Leo (the Sun rules Leo), then look there. If your Jupiter is in Cancer (where it is exalted) then focus on that.

While reading the rest of this post, lease keep in mind that for these purposes, ‘spirituality’ = finding a sense of meaning and purpose through connecting with that which lies beyond your ken.

 

Sun Solar energy is key to how you bring spiritual urges into personal expression  – this is accomplished not by sacrificing your ego, but by honouring it. You are every bit as much a part of creation as everyone – and everything – else. Because, as myths of ancient Egypt remind us, the Sun passes through the underworld (below the horizon) each and every day, your solar experience of spirituality could even manifest as a life and death struggle.

 

For example, with Sun in Scorpio you might undergo psychoanalysis –or act as a therapist (or shaman) for others in this way. That which you extract from working with your unconscious (for example, by dream work) may give you a sense of that which lies beyond.

Moon Lunar energy manifests through feelings of belonging and shared experience. Get tactile – get earthy – even organic – the lunar experience of spirituality is not about flying off to some lofty place – but about embodiment. The connection here is through the circle of life – in this earth plane.

 

For example, with Moon in Taurus you might  go to classes in yoga, undertake communal gardening, or even practice Zen Buddhism. The more you get in touch with your shared physical world, the more you’ll feel in touch with the lunar version of the divine.

Mercury With Mercury, spirituality is about discovery, solving problems, and making connections.  This doesn’t have much place in Piscean religions like Christianity because to question too much is considered to destroy faith. But as the great astronomical shift from the Age or Pisces into the Age of Aquarius progresses, Mercury can be expected to again take centre stage. For the power of ‘comprehension’ was worshipped as a god by the ancients– through the development of language and the discovery of how to harness ‘tools’ like the wheel.

 

For example, with Mercury in Gemini you might take up blogging – not just the kind where you shoot off the first thing that comes to mind, but that which takes research and serious consideration.

Venus The key to Venusian spirituality is not only that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but also it can be found everywhere. In this regard, beauty is not just pretty or cute or nice – but that which literally brings tears to your eyes. Real beauty (once a key component of the ‘sublime’) by the very nature of the experience takes you ‘out of yourself’. Take your cue from the Renaissance whence art was considered not only the most natural expression of spiritual feeling but also the containment of the quintessence of reality.

 

For example, with Venus in Libra, you might take a course in art history or even learn to paint and draw. If it’s beautiful to you, then it carries some aspect of the divine for you and your job is to appreciate that for what it is.

Mars Most are familiar with the image of an angry god – just have a look at the Bible’s Old Testament. But Martian spirituality can also manifest in heroic undertakings like ‘fight’ for what is ‘right’. The trick here is to make sure you’ve really got a grip on whatever it is that for which you’re fighting = with Mars, it easy to get lost with  ‘might’ makes ‘right’.  Important civilizing qualities like tolerance and understanding are not Martian things.

 

For example, with Mars in Aries you might volunteer to work in a rape crisis call centre or train to work as part of an ambulance or other rescue team– anything what will get you into touch with the many manifestations of violence and aggression will help you to understand that the divine truly has many face.

Jupiter Astrological Jupiter can function as your personal connection to the ‘divine plan’ – however it is that you perceive it.The idea is to plug into the ‘global context’ – to become connected with that which is truly outside yourself. When you find meaning in the greater patterns of the world, you’ve found the path to your own spiritual growth.

 

For example, with Jupiter in Sagittarius, you might take up the study of comparative religion – with the expectation that learning about the many manifestations of ‘Divine’ across time and cultures might will help you to get a grip on what’s right for you.

Saturn Saturn is oft associated with the teachings of traditional religions because it is so keen on ‘following rules’. But don’t forget that Saturn can also focus its quest for spirituality through other types of laws like those of science or society.

 

For example, with Saturn in Capricorn, you might  become involved with your local church. Not just in a superficial way like as an usher, but perhaps as a layman or Sunday School teacher.  Similarly, if you don’t already have a career in law, you might want to become a magistrate or justice of the peace. You’re looking for anything that takes you out of your ordinary sphere of influence while still retaining structure.

Uranus Uranus imparts the need to get a glimpse of what lies beyond the veil (i.e. the tarot  High Priestess).  The mystery lies in how all the parts fit together – the here and the now and the above and beyond – there’s a connection for certain – and it’s the job of Uranus to find it. Unlike with Saturn, Uranus can never do this through organised religion. Structure and form are merely bonds for Uranus to break – it its urge to greater and more powerful revelations.

No example is given here because the energy of Uranus is considered too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Aquarius rising, look to Saturn as the traditional ruler.

 

Neptune

 

Neptune searches for unity through ‘meltdown’ and dissolution of the ego/self. Christianity is perfect for Neptunian seekers – especially the mystical side of the tradition.

 

No example is given here because the energy of Neptune is considered too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Pisces rising, look to Jupiter as the traditional ruler.

Pluto Pluto represents the face of spirituality bound up with evolutionary processes – this is the ultimate of the survival of the fittest.  Read the work of Teilhard de Chardon – who not only was a Jesuit priest, but also a first class philosopher and palaeontologist.

 

Again, no example is given because the energy of Pluto is too strong and dangerous to be channelled individually.  If you have Scorpio rising, look to Mars as the traditional ruler.

   

 

Regardless of what the dictionary says, I believe that ‘wisdom’ requires more than knowledge and understanding.  Wisdom requires using your imagination to literally push knowledge and understanding beyond itself into the realm of experience.

This can be accomplished through looking at life through the eyes of an artist.  Artists communicate through symbols.  Artists evoke moods and emotions using pictures and words.  Artists connect us with’something’ that breathes fresh air into otherwise stale lives.

Neptune may very well represent that ‘something’.  Neptune is the astrological symbol of the deep unity with all things into which artists tap.  It’s rumoured that great sculptors connect with the imprisoned energy of a stone.  With their tools and skills, they free that energy for all to enjoy.

The artist’s tools and skills are represented by the Saturn function as that symbolises one’s ability to plan and achieve.

Thus Neptune and Saturn might well be the two most important astrological signposts toward your attainment of wisdom.   By putting Saturn and Neptune together you can make manifest something that jumpstarts your innermost Self to life.

If, like me, you have close Saturn/Neptune contacts, you can work with them through the energies they represent.  For example, I have a Mercury/Saturn/Neptune conjunction in Libra.  Libran outlets through which I might gain wisdom are relationships (all types), law (I am a lawyer), social connections, and artistic endeavours (I’m pursuing a degree in creative writing at Oxford University).

Even if you have no Saturn/Neptune contacts in your natal chart, at some point they’ll come by transit.   Prepare for this golden opportunity by learning how to best exploit what you already have.

(the following is a ‘life writing’ project recently completed for my Oxford University Creative Writing program)

 When transiting Neptune comes calling, we set off in pursuit of the impossible dream.   It’s rather like Don Quixote tilting at windmills.  We search for something we’ll never find but in the process, we’ll get something that we need.  At least that’s what my astrologer, Karen Thorne, says and she’s almost always right.  So when Neptune knocked at my door, I shouldn’t have answered.  But as luck would have it, that’s exactly what I did.

At the time, I was living in Boston, Massachusetts.  My first marriage had just ended in a shambles.  I’d been ill for nearly a year.  Now, I was out of a job.  I needed a change of direction and I needed it as soon as possible.

I would return to London where I’d worked as a tax lawyer for the multinational accounting firm, Ernst & Young.  But for hundreds of reasons, that didn’t work out.  I was forced to cast my net wider.  Only one of many promising leads panned out. It was as if the fickle finger of fate was pointed directly at me when at 7:31 AM on 19 April 1994, I arrived at Schiphol airport to commence my new life.

Boston had been sultry and sunny.  Amsterdam is chill and grey.  I button my new raincoat with ‘dress for success’ shoulder pads and hop in the nearest taxi.  I’ve only one suitcase with me.  The rest of my things are on a boat to Rotterdam.  I hand the driver two vijftig gulden notes emblazoned with sunflowers and am deposited in front of a white office complex just off the A-10 Ring Road next to the train station, Amsterdam Rai.  Moret Ernst & Young – Nederland.  Automatic doors swish open.  The glass lobby with a turquoise carpet is of Scandinavian design. From behind a basket of lipstick-red tulips, a uniformed receptionist hisses goedemorgen.

In faltering Dutch, I announce myself.  Elevator doors part.  An owl-eyed belastingadviseur shakes my hand.  Sipping aromatic koffie laced heavily with sugar, I’m ushered into my new office – light and spacious with individual climate control.  Such luxury I’d never had in either Boston or London.  Might this work out well after all?

While being treated by my colleagues to the cafeteria’s ‘luxury lunch’ – raw herring and onions washed down with buttermilk – my new boss, Alieke Bonte, swans in.  Although she’s nearly fifty years old, her stocky frame is squeezed into a stylish black leather suit.  She fluffs her pink hair (grey hair doesn’t hold red dye) and grabs my hand.  The electric current passing between us is palpable.  Her watery blue eyes probe my very soul.  This had never happened to me before.  I blush and turn away.

Over the next few months, she’d stop by my office late in the evening when no one else was around.   A United States tax deadline was looming and, for me, long hours were a necessity.   But there was no reason for her to stay late.  None-the-less, nearly every evening she’d position herself across from me and confide amazingly intimate things; a failed marriage, mixed emotions about the price she’d paid for success, and other things I’d best not repeat.  Often she’d invite me for dinner or drinks in the up-market cafes lining the Beethovenstraat around the corner from her house.  Sometimes her husband, Bert, joined us.  Sometimes he did not.  Regardless, she’d make discreet sexual overtures towards me, which were always followed by a hasty retreat.

Over time, her advances become more overt.  When we are in a client meeting, her leg presses against mine.  The pressure increases until we both look up and smile. Whenever we’re in an elevator together, her fingers stray towards mine.  One grand summer morning she takes me to a gay friend’s law offices near the bohemian Vondelpark.  I understand we’re there solely to ‘show me off.  Always when we touch, the electricity flows between us.  Always afterwards, I feel bated and bereft.

“She’s having a Neptune/Mars transit,” says my astrologer one sticky summer evening while we were chatting on the phone.  “She’s confused about her sexuality. She hates her husband one moment and loves him the next.  Don’t get involved.  Remember your own Neptune transit.  You’re not in any position to see things clearly now.”

Good advice.  I didn’t take it.  Instead, I poured more and more energy into reeling Alieke in like a floundering fish.  I didn’t know much about astrology then.  But my experiences with her prompted me to find out.  I bought an astrology program for my computer along with piles of “how-to” books.  I spent long Saturday evenings holed up with a bottle of red wine trying to figure out when her husband, who had heart problems, might die.  Once he was gone, I reasoned, she and I would surely be ‘together’ (whatever that meant).

Late in November 1994, as the twilight sun sinks behind the grey-green of Dam Square, the chill wind off the North Sea bites harder than usual.  An old fashioned organ grinder plays a tinny tune.  I look up, confused.  I’m no longer in Amsterdam but in Vienna.  I’m wearing strappy 1920’s style shoes instead of modern boots.  The vision, if that’s what one calls it, lasts only seconds.  But it is totally and utterly real.  I was badly shaken.  Things were getting serious.  I needed help.

A friend suggested that I go to a therapist in Noordwijkerhout specialised in past life regression.  The result was amazing.  It’s back to the 1920’s again.  This time my husband, whom I recognise as Alieke, drapes a colourful shawl over my shoulders and escorts me to our awaiting automobile.  We are going out for the evening – to a dinner party or perhaps the theatre.  My husband’s hand reaches for mine.  Our pinkies touch.  Sparks fly.  I succumb to an intensity of pleasure beyond my wildest imagination before crashing back into hard reality.  What I was to make of this ‘revelation’, I had no idea.  But when a few weeks later Alieke and I are in the back seat of a colleague’s car and our pinkies touch, it all plays out exactly as it had before – but this time in the here and now.

I needed to know how this would turn out.  Curled up in a sunny corner of my flat in Oud-zuid, I devoted Saturday afternoons to books; diaries about Virginia Woolf’s love affairs with Violet Trefusis and Vita Sackville-West, Radcylffe Hall’s novels about lesbian relationships, and the tragic story of playwright Joe Orton who was murdered by his gay lover, Kenneth Halliwell.  From these, I concluded that unconventional relationships like that which I wished to have with Alieke always ended in tears.  I panicked.

According to Karen, my astrological Sun serves as a lighthouse beacon to steer me along the ‘right’ path.  If I ‘do’ my ‘Sun’ then I’ll be doing the ‘right’ thing even if it doesn’t make me happy.

“I assure you that this ‘thing’ with Alieke is what you’re supposed to doing now,” says Karen one snowy night a week before Christmas.  “Your Sun is in Libra.  Therefore your focus must always be on relating through open and honest two-way exchange.”

“But Alieke and I never talk about anything important,” I complain.  “She keeps sweeping this thing under the carpet.”

“Aren’t you doing exactly the same thing?”

Karen was right.  It’s easy to blame another without ever looking into the mirror.  But knowing this wasn’t enough.  This ‘thing’ with Alieke was threatening my sanity as well as my job.  To break free of what now felt like a malevolent magical enchantment, I had to intellectually discern why this was happening to me.

I spent entire days on the top floor of the well-stocked American Discount Bookstore in Amsterdam trawling through stacks of astrology books.  I discovered that, in what is called synastry (the comparison of one person’s natal chart with another’s), Alieke’s Neptune fell smack dab on top of my Sun.

This was the most powerful of synastry aspects.  If exact (as was mine and Alieke’s), the relationship would always feel fated or karmic.  Inevitably, there would be disillusionment and anger on both sides.   The Sun person (me) would feel manipulated and cheated while the Neptune person (Alieke) would feel abandoned and abused.   The books warned that frightened by the power of what might be unleashed if the relationship were consummated, either or both of us might well turn and run.

The key to my survival was that I become conscious of my own power drive.  This is something I would have sworn I never had.  Her Machiavellian nature was precisely what I’d found so distasteful in Alieke.  How was it that I had one too?  Yet slowly I began to realise that in subtle ways (like constantly threatening to move to London), I’d been undermining her every bit as much she’d been undermining me.  If there could be no workable balance of power between us (and because she was my boss there would never be), then like it or not, I’d have to put an end to our ‘relationship’.

“Each of us needs some magic in our lives,” said Karen in yet another marathon telephone call.  “But when the magic is over, we need to move on.   This is the hardest part.”

This time I followed Karen’s advice.  I started looking for distractions.  Luckily I found one in my office mate, a young Dutchman named Jan Willem Moolenaar. With his easy manner and breezy good looks, he was a welcome contrast.  Knowing that Alieke was wearing me down, he found subtle, yet effective ways, to keep her and I apart.  I was appreciative.  He took well to his new role.  We spent more and more time together.  I bought a funky maisonette in leafy Amstelveen.  Shortly afterwards, he moved in.

Everyone at work knew about our relationship except Alieke.  This was a most amazing thing.  Alieke prided herself on knowing about everything even tangentially related to her ‘team’.  Yet this was going on right under her nose.  When finally she realised Jan Willem and I arrived at the office together each morning, she took me to lunch on the Beethovenstraat.  She’d not done that in months.

“Tell me about your new house,” she simpers while picking at her ham and cheese panini.  “You have two bedrooms?”

“Yes,” I say.  “Natuurlijk.”

She looks relieved.

“But only one bedroom has furniture,” I say with a grin.  “Looks like it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.”

She pushes her plate away and stands up to leave.

Finally, I win.

During our next phone call, my astrologer Karen declares that my Neptune transit is officially over. It is indeed time to move on.  Over the next six months, I engineered a job transfer to Ernst & Young, London.   3 July 1998, I sold my maisonette, packed up, and moved away.  Jan Willem came with me and on an exceptionally warm and sunny Friday in September 2004, we married at the Registry office in Richmond upon Thames.

This doesn’t mean the ‘thing’ with Alieke had ended.  Far from it.  For years, my heart would pound whenever I saw a woman with pink hair.  I still have dreams in which she ‘visits’ me.  Yet I now realise that although she was ‘mine’, it was inevitable that I would ‘lose’ her.  That’s what those diaries of Virginia Woolf’s had been about.  I’d be lying if I said I’ve let go gracefully.  I haven’t.   It’s Alieke who refuses to speak to me.

A few months ago I was chatting with Karen about a current transit of Jan Willem’s.

“While you were busy chasing illusions of intimacy with Alieke,” she reminds me, “you actually fell in love with someone better suited.”

I glance down at my wedding ring.  Nearly seventeen years ago she’d told me that when transiting Neptune comes calling, we set off in pursuit of the impossible dream.   It’s rather like Don Quixote tilting at windmills.  We search for something we’ll never find but in the process, we’ll get something that we need.

“Karen,” I say.  “How is it that you’re always right?”

In Plato’s Symposium, we learn that humans originally consisted of four arms, four legs, and a single head with two faces.  But Zeus, most powerful of the Greek gods, feared the humans’ power and tore them asunder, condemning them to eternally search for the other half of themselves – their soul mate.

That’s as good as any explanation for the magical, mystical, and most importantly – fated – union you can feel in the presence of another.   For many, it’s the most beautiful, moving, and transformative experience for which one could ever hope.   I’ve had it.  Have you?

So why is it that – more likely than not – it all ends in tears?

Astrologically, the ‘soul mate’ phenomenon is inevitably bound up with Neptune – which moves in mysterious, illusive ways.  Neptune is counter logical and doesn’t play by the rules.  Neptune is of another world, luring us into pursuit of a glamorous dream that takes us to places we’d never otherwise willingly have gone.

We all need some glamour in our lives.  But when the dream is over you need to move on.

Does this mean you can never have a long-term relationship with your Neptunian ‘soul mate’?  Of course not.

What it does mean is that unless your soul mate relationship has more holding it together than Neptune contacts, when reality shatters your rose-coloured glasses, either you or your beloved will be sneaking out the backdoor with a grin.

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The following is a brief outline of the various ‘soul-mate’ synastry aspects between your chart and another’s  (the closer the aspect – the stronger the effect):

Neptune/Moon – the Moon person has an earthy stability that makes the Neptune person feel safe.  The Neptune person sees the Moon person as the only one able to provide much-needed non-judgemental love.  Neptune believes the Moon will always be there for her.  Initially the Moon responds positively to Neptune’s needs and does all she can to provide sympathetic care.  But as the bonds grow stronger, the Moon often becomes progressively more possessive; Neptune then feels overwhelmed and quietly slips away.

Neptune/Mercury – Neptune views Mercury as a clever companion and guide who can provide insightful answers to Neptune’s pressing questions.   Often the dialogue between these two is poetic and inspired.  Yet both planets (given the circumstances) can be shameless liars.   Neptune uses her mirroring powers to please at all costs.  For Mercury (governed by the god of tricksters and thieves) truth is always a relative business.   In the end quarrels and misunderstandings are inevitable – and it’s what each of you do then that matters.

Neptune/Venus – this contact has provided inspiration for poetry and fiction from the beginning of time – for it inevitably involves the pain of illicit (and often unfilled) desire.   While Neptune fantasizes about the physical consummation of a mystical love, Venus waits impatiently (and perhaps indefinitely) for Neptune to take action.  The problem is that Venus wants to be loved through (and for) her body – while what Neptune really loves is Venus’ soul.  This aspect reflects the intoxicating feeling of ‘being in love’.  Yet often it only produces a broken heart.

Neptune/Mars – the sheer strength of the sexual pull between these two ensures trouble.  Neptune sees Mars as her invincible champion– tough, potent, decisive, and ready for battle.   In turn, Mars feels fulfilled with a worthy cause for which to fight.  Yet if Neptune can’t acknowledge her dependency on Mars, she’ll undermine him so as to ensure he doesn’t go off crusading for someone else.  Often this results in the classic ‘not tonight but maybe tomorrow’ script where Mars is kept eternally waiting.  On-going frustration may draw cruelty and violence from Mars.  The less Neptune understands her own capacity for aggression, the darker their relationship becomes.

Neptune/Jupiter – involves a profound sense of shared religious or spiritual commitment.  Jupiter’s quest for meaning and optimistic vision of the world provides Neptune a solid hook for her own – often inarticulate – yearnings.    Yet because both Jupiter and Neptune share a taste for the boundless, this aspect can end up with the blind leading the blind.   Jupiter cajoles Neptune into some folly into which Neptune happily follows.  When it all goes wrong (as it usually does), disillusionment inevitably follows.

Neptune/Saturn – involves a meeting of archetypal opposites.  Saturn (the strong, worldly, paternal figure) overtly builds while Neptune (elusive, vulnerable, and distinctly of another world) subtly undermines.  When Saturn-Neptune aspects go wrong, they go very wrong.    They can generate an intensity of anger and need to inflict emotional pain that becomes unbearable for both parties.  However if handled with care (and maturity), this aspect has the greatest potential for healing.  Neptune can offer Saturn a tangible sense of hope and faith while Saturn can offer Neptune the stability through which she can become her most creative self.

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For the last 12 years, Neptune (‘The Face of Fashion’), has been in Aquarius – during which period you aspired to iPods, mobile phones and personal computers as the ‘must-have’ staples of your personal haute couture.

Now – at the beginning of this month – Neptune has slipped into Pisces.

To what will you be aspiring next?

Barbie!

Barbie has both a Pisces Moon and Sun – making her the perfect Piscean ‘Face of Fashion’.[1]

Pisces is the zodiac marker to which the collective fixes its fantasies.  So it’s little surprise that back in the 50’s and 60’s when Barbie was first introduced, she became the dream to which millions of young girls inspired.  I acquired my first Barbie (with her wedding trousseau) in 1959 while recovering from a tonsillectomy.  Within a short time, each and every one of my little girl friends had a Barbie too.

MG Lord, author of Barbie’s unauthorized biography, says that people project fears and prejudices onto Barbie; when a person talks at length about Barbie, one usually learns more about the speaker than the doll.

Sleek, slick, and fashion model perfect, Barbie was certainly the hook upon which we kids projected our future dreams.   She was the consummate free-spirit – never married Ken – never had children – had no idea what she wanted to be – should she ever grow up.

Barbie had a never-ending string of sexy careers.  She began as a fashion model and quickly advanced to fashion designer. The following year she became a registered nurse and in 1963 became one of the first female executives.  Then she went back to university and was an astronaut long before the moon landing.  She was a surgeon in 1973 when American women like me and my friends, were still arguing their right to be professionals!  She was even in a rock band, Barbie and the Sensations.

Barbie has traveled to Rio and Moscow, went into space, wore every couture outfit in the book, and switched boyfriends and pets in a regular basis.    She’s photogenic and appealing.  Never underestimate power the soothing and relaxed energy that surrounds Barbie like a silver-lined cloud.

Barbie is hip.  She moves with the flow.

And from now until 2025, so will you


[1] Barbie was ‘born’ on 9 March 1959 between 10Am and 3 PM at the International Toy Fair in NYC.