I was out the other evening location scouting with my nephew and his mum. She’s got a new album coming out and needed some promo shots for it. We wanted to find a good spot during golden hour, that magical hour just after sunrise or before sunset, when the sun hits the horizon, slicing through the atmosphere in such a way that the light refracts all glowy and full of wonderment. It turns average pictures into something special.
I felt like we found it, but I always feel like it’s a good spot and a golden hour when I’m with my nephew. That sounds cracked ’cause it’s so corny, but it’s true. Last year at this time I was pretty depressed and taking a meditation class during which I was reminded yet again how important it is to stay in the present. I observed how easy that was to do around him.
Lately that seems more and more important. There’s a very brief window of time here before he begins to develop a sense of time. Until then he lives like a goldfish, with no memory. Well, not no memory, of course. He remembers who I am and greets me almost every time by smiling big and running at me arms outstretched till I gather him up wordlessly and hold him to my chest, rocking him back and forth. It’s our ritual. I hope for everyone and anyone reading this you’ve got one like it somewhere in your life and someone to greet you at the door in just such a way. It’s the best, most precious thing imaginable.
And it’s disappearing by the second. Trying to hang onto these moments is futile. Already T is wriggling from our grasp, putting his hands in front of his face, saying, “no pictures!!” He isn’t interested in our need to capture this moment, bottle it, try to hold on to it, but he is aware, on some level, that we’re trying to. Right now he still sees it as an interruption to his flow. He would rather be collecting leaves and sticks and stones and handing them to me asking me if I want some “mac and cheese.”
He isn’t interested in “capturing the moment,” he isn’t even aware it’s disappearing so why would he want to hang onto it? Why would we? Thinking about this the other day I saw for the first time that my “good” memories are as poisonous to me as my “bad” ones. When I’m down and feeling blue I’ve grown accustomed to comforting myself with memories from my past when I was happier. But thinking about how happy T makes me the other day and how sad I am that he is going to grow older and change and probably not remember any of this it struck me suddenly that a happy memory can be just as toxic – maybe more – than a bad one.
It’s obvious, isn’t it? How it can have escaped my notice I can’t say, exactly, but there it is. Every time I remember a past love, a long ago triumph, or an old revelation it’s like I’m trying to prove to myself that my life is about that, (proven – though past – happiness) not this (current sadness). But holding onto a happy memory from the past creates a barometer of what your life “should” be like. It becomes a perfect example of something perfect. Which, of course, is imaginary. Only a Capricorn would believe anything could ever really be perfect. Used in this way, a happy memory becomes toxic because it’s so easily used to show us what “failures” we are in the present.
But the real problem with allowing your memories to dictate your current emotional state is that they will. In other words, living in the past, no matter how happy, is still living in the past. It’s not now. It’s not happening now. And, the truth is, maybe it never really even happened the way we remember it. It’s a fact that the more we remember something the further away from the original moment we get. It’s not like a film we just rewind and replay over and over again. Every time we remember something we recreate it. It’s not a file we access, it’s an event we recreate.
Which speaks to some larger truth I think I’m only just beginning to grasp, to be honest. Because to re-create something we first need to create it. I think I’m only just now beginning to perceive after years of reading and studying this phenomenon how very much I truly am responsible for the creation of my perception of things.
It would be a mistake to think that understanding this necessarily translates into the practice of it. If I’ve learned anything from T it would be that only the practice of it translates to the practice of it. But it’s a start.
Yesterday was my birthday. I meant to post this then, but I got distracted organizing a drawer and then later I didn’t feel like it. New Years Resolution #1: STOP PROCRASTINATING!!!!
The weirdest thing about being born New Years Day is that the normal reflection anyone goes through on a birthday is amplified by the fact that everyone else is doing the same thing. Everyone celebrates a New Year with you. In a way it’s everyone’s birthday. I’ve been a mascot at every New Years Eve party I’ve ever attended. The pro is that everyone feels like celebrating. The con is that – depending on how you feel about the year that’s just passed – you (and by you, I mean ME) often don’t. Feel like celebrating, that is.
Actually, if I’m honest, I hardly ever feel like celebrating. It’s like pulling teeth to get me to do it. I’m a real Capricorn about it, frankly. And by that I mean I’m a complete wet blanket who would just as soon go to work on her birthday as go out and paint the town red. New Years Resolution #2: STOP BEING SUCH A CAPRICORN!!!! LIVE A LITTLE!!!!
My friend, Natascha Unkart, made me Miss January for a crazy fabulous calendar she put together some years ago. It was an art project/feminist critique on American Apparel called American Appalling, (Horizontally Conceptualized Marketing). Totally wonderful and you absolutely should check it out, but for my purposes here the important takeaway is that she made me Miss January. Here I am above looking completely gormless but HAPPY, which is how I think I should look on my birthday (well, maybe not so much the gormless part) but usually don’t, except when I’m faking it. Of course, that’s a completely Capricorn thing to think, though, isn’t it? I should look happy on my birthday?! HONESTLY. W.T.F.
New Years Resolution #3: STOP LISTENING TO MY BRAIN!!!
Of course Natascha took the photograph months before she published the calendar when being happy came much easier. I’ve been thinking about what it is about this time of year that is so strangely dark and weird for me, and I’ve come to some conclusions. A.) The Sun is going through Capricorn which is my 12th house, so I’m not feeling particularly social B.) The Sun is going through Capricorn, which is Saturn ruled, so there is a sense of DUTY and OBLIGATION about this time of year, which is why some people hate the holidays and while I don’t, I certainly find them exhausting and by the time my birthday rolls around I never really feel like talking to another person as. long. as. I. live. again. ever. C.) Did I mention the Sun is in Capricorn? Have you ever met a Capricorn?! We are such sad fucks, really. I mean, I love us, really, I do, but for God’s Sake, why on earth do we have to be so melancholy? Fucking Saturn. Fuck off.
New Years Resolution #4: FUCK SATURN. FIGURATIVELY, OF COURSE.
Horoscopes for New Years Day 2013
My mum (who used to send me clippings through the mail but is now scanning clippings and sending them to me through the internets!) sent me my horoscopes for yesterday. They’re good ones, too! Here’s hoping they come true. But if they don’t I have a back-up plan. New Years Resolution #5: START CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY THE WAY I WANT TO, GODDAMMIT!!!
This year I realized that if I wanted to start having happier birthdays I was really going to have to start spending them the way I wanted to, not the way I thought I should want to. ie; if I don’t feel particularly social, why on earth should I spend my birthday with anyone else? At the last hour I got this bee in my bonnet about leaving town for a few days. I totally had this plan to head off to Palm Springs for a couple days and sit poolside sipping on a cocktail – or two. But then on New Years Eve I got stoned and started organizing my closets and got totally distracted and stayed up way too late. By the time I woke up on my birthday the last thing I felt like doing was heading out of dodge for a two hour drive. I mean, BLERGH, for realz.
So I woke up and kept organizing my closets and drawers, thinking about the last year and all that it was and all that it wasn’t. I neglected to eat and by 3pm was really starting to feel a bit light-headed. I had a piece of toast and started searching Yelp for steakhouses. My thinking was that I should (there’s that word again!) at least take myself out for a nice – totally decadent – dinner.
And, at this point I’d shaved my legs, set my hair, and put on a new dress and was all dressed up. It seemed a shame to waste such a totally bangin’ outfit on my couch and whatever movie I could find on Netflix streaming, but, boy howdy, I cannot tell you how much my couch was calling to me. However, somehow I managed to get myself out the door and drive the few miles to the place I’d decided on. I wasn’t feeling it when I pulled into the parking lot and handed over my truck to the valet (I hate valet!!! #cheapasscapricorn). I really wasn’t feeling it when I walked into the place and it was deserted and dark and actually a bit dank. Then I sat down in the booth and a complete chill washed over me. Seriously, I started to shiver.
I all but bolted from the place. Got my truck from the valet and drove off. Ann-Margret was blasting from my stereo and I had to turn her off, she was just too cheerful suddenly. I could feel a Good Old Cry coming on, so I told myself sternly to pull off the road so if I was really going to succumb to such self-pity at least I wouldn’t be endangering anyone else. I pulled over and just let it go. I cried for everything the last year was and everything it wasn’t. I cried for everything and everyone I lost this year and everything I said I would do last year at this time but somehow haven’t yet managed to. I’m starting to tear up now just thinking about it, so I guess I didn’t really let it ALL go, but I tell you, I did my best.
And I guess that’s about all anyone can do, really. And (aside from how much television I’ve watched this year when I could-have-should-have been doing something else) I have to say I really did do my best this past year. Better than I’ve done most years recently. I give myself about a B-. (I’m being generous, but what the hell, it was my birthday, after all)
When I didn’t have any more tears left in me I wiped my face, (thank heavens I’d decided against make-up when I got ready!!!) straightened up and started driving again. I thought I’d try my second Yelp suggestion downtown. As I was feeling less and less like doing this whole thing at all and more and more obliged to do it I comforted myself that if I didn’t like the next place I could just go get a burrito and go home, my couch would always be there, after all.
Well, the second option didn’t work out either, but by then I was determined to keep going and fortunately Google Maps pointed me in a completely new direction. After I’d parked my truck and was walking to the new place it occurred to me that I was relating to my Birthday date with myself in precisely the way I relate to just about everything I think would be fun or good for me – as if it were something I should be doing, rather than something I wanted to do. What a weirdo. But again, Saturn’s fault. Seriously, what on earth was I thinking when I picked a birth with Saturn opposing my natal Jupiter within 17 seconds?!
On the other hand, if it weren’t for my sense of obligation and duty to myself I would have surrendered to my baser instincts and holed up inside my apartment feeling sorry for myself instead of going out to dinner 35 floors up with panoramic views of the downtown city skyline. So, GO Saturn! Once I settled into my cozy booth and had a glass of wine in front of me, everything started looking much better. Actually, everything started to look very good indeed.
I’m so very glad and grateful for every moment of the past year, the good and the bad. I’m so very grateful for everything in me that resists being happy and present and joyful and I’m so very much more grateful for everything in me that resists that resistance.
Sometimes I hate being me, but sometimes I love it. What a wonderful, crazy, mixed up world it all is. Sometimes I hate it, but sometimes I love it. Yesterday there were moments I hated it, but last night I loved it. My waitress, Norma, was such a darling, she was super friendly and attentive and brought me a New Years tiara they had left over from the night before with some beads and then she brought me a gorgeous chocolatey dessert with a candle and even a Baileys!!! What a sweetheart. It was so funny, you know, I wanted to spend my Birthday alone, but I realized I’m never really alone. If you can connect with others and ever have to leave your house, you will never really be alone.
Having said that, New Years Resolution #6: SPEND NEXT BIRTHDAY IN PALM SPRINGS POOLSIDE
Seriously, I’m planning the next one. I’ve learned my lesson. Repent and Sin No More! I’m not spending another birthday scrambling to create something special for myself. I’m going to spend the next year creating something special for myself every day of the year so that by the time my birthday rolls around next year I’ll be ready for it. I suggest you do the same.
Wretched Birthday Book
Of course it’s entirely possible that you already DO that for yourself and don’t have the GRAVE misfortune of being a Capricorn born under the rulership of Saturn. You might be like my great friend, Sara Brown, who is my birthday guru, a Sag, naturally, who never fails to celebrate her birthday. Of course, she’s also a Leo rising, bless her. According to the Birthday book, she was born on The Day of Mirthful License. Or maybe you’re like my nephew, born on The Day of the Space Voyager. At any rate, you might be much luckier than me, and NOT be born on The Day of the Emotional Organizer. Perhaps you don’t spend your birthdays organizing your closets.
I hate that darned book. But I love it. Oh, I don’t know. Screw it. New Years Resolution #7: START ORGANIZING THINGS MORE FUN THAN CLOSETS!!!! (Note to self: what could be more fun than organizing closets?! New Years Resolution #8 FIND OUT!!!)
I’ve got something more fun! A GIVEAWAY!
In honor of my birthday and because I have honestly learned again this year (what it is about lessons you have to relearn that end up being the best ones?) it truly is better to give than to receive I’m going to give away a copy of The Secret Language of Birthdays (pictured above) to someone chosen at random in my comments section. All you have to do is post an answer to the following question: What is your New Years Resolution?
I hope Randall Munroe won’t mind an astrologer linking to his comic… I hope I’m not breaking any science/astrology laws of feudal etiquette here… I just love this thing. It’s so very true…
So have at it, Little Parsnips, Turnips, Space Voyagers, or whatever it is you’re calling yourself these days. Tell us about your hopes and dreams and disappointments and don’t forget! REPENT AND SIN NO MORE!!!!
I will announce the winner of the book a week from today on January 9th, The Day of Ambition, as it turns out, so you better take this seriously, you lot. Just kidding. NOT. No, really, I’m kidding. …or am I?!
Anyway, Good Luck and may the most random person win!!! We’ll see you in the comments below…
Hello? …Hello? Is this thing on? HA! Since only two people posted their resolutions it makes choosing someone random super easy! A good ol’ coin toss decides the winner, I gave heads to Kristie since she commented first and Tails to Tammee since she was second, and the winner is… (two out of three!!) … KRISTIE!!!!
Kristie, I will be contacting you privately to collect your address so I can send you this bitchin’ book. I really truly hope it’s kinder to you than it’s been to me.
The title for this post comes from the subject of an email my mum sent to Exotic India Travel Planners in Delhi on Friday confirming she wired payment for services rendered. The poor things have probably about had it with the two of us, to be honest. We’re such control freaks we’ve gone over everything they’ve sent us about a kajillion times trying to make sure it’s exactly what we want.
But it’s all settled now and me and my mother are hopping on a plane today bound for India! Well, first to Nepal for a week long trek through the Helambu region and THEN off to India just in time for a Thanksgiving curry.
I’ve been in a bit of a panic about it for the past week really, but it had less to do with the fact I hadn’t started packing yet and way more to do with what happened the last time we went to Nepal.
It all started in 2008, when, as I’ve mentioned before, my mum trekked the Annapurna Circuit for her 70th birthday. She came back from that trip and all she could talk about was going back. Of course I volunteered to go with her.
So we went back the next year in the fall of 2009. The picture above was taken of us three days into the trek just a couple hours before everything went horribly pear shaped. In this picture I am about as happy as I’ve ever been- with my mum, trekking through those incredible mountains, far far away from anything and everything… And oh man, those MOUNTAINS! Those mountains… I felt like I was five years old again…
This photo was taken later that afternoon after my mother fell off a four foot drop followed by a fifteen foot tumble down a steep incline only to narrowly escape going off a twenty foot sheer cliff into the river below. The only reason she escaped the fall off the cliff is because our guide, Pemba, leapt down the four foot drop, jumped over her hurtling body and braced himself against a stone at cliff’s edge to catch her before she went over.
Here is Pemba and our friend David administering first aid to her on the hillside. David and I trekked ahead of mum and Pemba so I missed the actual fall. The first I heard about it was when two young trekkers caught up with us on the trail to tell me my “mother fell.”
From that moment until the moment I finally slept about 24 hours later everything was in slow motion. It was a nightmare without the option to wake up. You may remember that was the year Natasha Richards died of a brain injury sustained in a fall while skiing. All that long, long day my mind shuttled back and forth between Natasha Richards and a CHiPS episode from childhood where Ponch and the blond guy stood accused of moving an accident victim who subsequently suffered complete paralysis. So I was totally terrified that my mum was either going to be paralyzed or keel over suddenly from a brain aneurism.
My mum, of course, was annoyingly cheerful about it all. Cheerful is not the right word. She was incredibly disappointed, but, as she said later to me, she knew she “was fine.” And, being possessed of an irrepressibly curious and good humored nature she was alternately interested, impressed, and bemused by everything that happened next and how everyone dealt with it. Here she is just after the incident having just instructed me to take pictures for posterity.
When I say, “everything that happened next,” I mean a lot of things, including a helicopter air lift from a river bed and arriving in Kathmandu on the last day of Dashain when everyone had the day off and the hospital was understaffed but celebratory and a broken gurney kept tilting dramatically backwards, leaving my mother with her head one foot off from the ground and her feet four feet higher.
Or how about when I told the nurse my mum had to pee and she sent us outside, gurney and all, with a bed pan so my mum could do her business away from the waiting room. Why outside the main entrance with people walking in and out and past was preferable to the waiting room we never did work out but by that point, almost twenty-four hours after the fall we were past caring. In that moment and our sleep deprived state all we could do was laugh and laugh. My mum had a hard time peeing she was laughing so hard.
But all that came after. First we had to get my mother down the hill to shelter for the night, as dusk was almost upon us. In order to get her down the hill Ngima and Dawa took turns carrying her in a basket the locals use to cart wood. I wish I had a better picture of that darned basket, but we wouldn’t have any pictures at all if my mum hadn’t been so insistent that I keep taking pictures. “Wonder, take my picture!!” She hissed at me, laughing and wisecracking as Dawa and Ngima shifted under her weight.
She had everyone but me and Pemba in stitches. If I hadn’t been so worried about Ponch and the blond guy on that CHiPS episode I might even remember what it was she said that had Ngima laughing so hard in the picture above.
But I don’t. I don’t remember. I was so mad at her for making me take pictures when she was about to die and how was I going to explain to my brother that I’d been taking pictures of it all instead of doing something useful.
Weeks before we left I dreamt we hiked across a sand bar at low tide and up a rocky, algae covered cliff to see the view. From our vantage point we could see for miles in every direction. It was beautiful. But when we saw the tide coming in we knew it was time to go. My mother turned abruptly and jumped off, sliding all the way to the bottom rapidly. Once there she turned back and looked up at me impatiently.
“Come on, honey!” She hollered up at me, “we have to go!”
I felt scared. It was too steep. Her face softened. “Don’t worry, it’s easy,” she said. “You can do it!”
So I did. I stepped off that impossibly tall and slimy hill and slid down after her, though not so gracefully. Reaching the bottom I felt relieved, exhilarated, inspired. Like I could do anything. Waking up I took it as a good augury of our trip, and of the way my mother has always been just a little bit ahead of me, encouraging me on.
Never did I imagine that it actually described a fall she wouldn’t take seriously but that would scare the crap out of me. What good is a prophetic dream if it doesn’t tell you what’s actually going to happen?
The weird thing is I don’t think I processed any of this really at all until last weekend. Knowing we were going back, that we were returning to the scene of the crime caused a rise in anxiety I just couldn’t ignore any longer. Fortunately I have some very good friends who were able to talk me through it. Saturn transiting over my Jupiter in Scorpio which it opposes natally might have forced the issue and maybe even helped a bit too.
I don’t have the date of her fall, unfortunately. Well, I do, but I left it at home. In between the first sentence of this post and the one I’m writing now I got on that plane I told you about and now I’m somewhere far above the Pacific Ocean on the way to Seoul, where we have a 14 hour layover. So I don’t have the date and time on me, all I remember is that Mars squared my Moon and her Sun, which it did for a couple days at the end of that September.
There were some other aspects that afternoon that were less than auspicious, and looking at them beforehand I did say it was likely to be the most difficult day of our journey, but I wasn’t particularly concerned about them. I think I predicted we “might get into an argument, or something,” but assured my mum it would be “just a hiccup.”
That’ll teach me for being an optimist.
This is the view of the cliff Pemba stopped my mum from rolling off. Sorry the picture is so blurry, my mum made me run back to take it when she discovered I hadn’t already and my hands were shaking. You can see the bridge crossing the river, where it connects on the left is about ten feet away away from the rock Pemba braced himself against to prevent her from going over.
I can’t believe it either.
I spent that night giving my mum “consciousness checks” every hour on the hour per the instructions of the emergency medicine specialist who just happened to be staying at the tea house we stopped to have lunch at earlier that day. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
I know I should be more grateful to Brian, he was so incredibly lovely and great and good about checking my mum out and telling me what to do, but he’s also the one who confirmed my worst fear and told me that in fact, yes, my mum could have an injury that wasn’t apparent and we wouldn’t know anything until we could get get her brain scanned. He was adamant that we keep her head completely still and not move her or jostle her about at all.
My mum, of course, didn’t know how seriously he’d impressed upon me the importance of this task. So she remained jovial later on when when the security guards called in to help her from the ambulance (remember the hospital was understaffed that day) couldn’t figure out how to work the gurney or fix it when it kept tipping her over. She remained calm when the attendee on staff moved her head back and forth to check for mobility. MOBILITY. I managed to keep my tears in check until much later, but it was an effort.
The whole thing was probably much harder on me than on her, oddly. But then I was born in the day and she was born at night. Mars is her friend, not mine. That Mars square was always going to be harder on me than it was on her.
But we made it through to the other side safe and sound. My mum didn’t become paralyzed or have a brain aneurism and she is still with me and game for another try. I need to let go of the fear of losing her and get on with enjoying every second we have left.
After all, nothing lasts forever.
Here is Pemba, the man who saved my mother’s life. He’s also the man who trekked with her for three weeks when she celebrated her 70th birthday trekking the Annapurna Circuit. He was with her when she went over Thorung La Pass at 17,769 feet and and came down the other side of the mountain safe and sound.
Pemba isn’t chatty, he’s Saturnine and taciturn and sure footed and he knows these mountains like the back of his hand. He was the one who wanted to stop for the day at the tea house we had lunch at. He didn’t think we should push it and carry on, but I was so excited and having so much fun and Mama was so happy to see me enjoying her beautiful mountains she didn’t listen to her tiring body and we opted to carry on. We should have listened to him.
We’re hoping he’ll be the one to go with us through the Helambu region next week, but mum is a little concerned he may think she’s too much trouble and decide to sit this one out. Honestly, I think he took Mum’s fall as badly if not worse than I did, but mum and I are clear it wasn’t his fault. My mum suffers from an inner ear problem that makes balancing difficult, we never should have gone out against his recommendation that afternoon. If he comes with us this time we promise to be good!
Anyway, in the picture above he is wearing his Destination Nepal company tee shirt. If you’ve ever wanted to go trekking in Nepal, this is the guide for you. I can guarantee you will be in safe hands. The safest.
And here is my mum at the end of our trip going through her Qi Gong form on the roof of the Tamang’s house in Kathmandu. As you can see, she was fine. She is just fine. We’ll be just fine.
I realized that my fear of my mother dying is linked to a deep reluctance to grow up. It’s horribly selfish of me, I know, especially as I’ve been blessed with such attentive parents who have stayed so healthy and hale for so long, but I really didn’t want it to end. I wanted to be the kid forever and always be able to call my mum if I needed anything.
I see now it’s time to let that go a bit. So I promised my brother that I won’t let anything happen to our mother this time. This time I won’t go ahead on the trail. This time when I follow my mother it will be my privilege to look out for her as she has always looked out for me.
And I will be so grateful for every shared step of that trail.
Sometimes confronting your worst fears is exactly the reminder you need that life in the here and now is precious, and therefore all kinds of wild and wonderful. #saturninscorpiolessons
Namaste, my darlings. Laugh, be free, have adventures. Take risks. Take responsibility. Breathe.
UPDATE: You’re welcome to follow me on Instagram if you want to keep up with our adventure!
This issue is devoted to Saturn’s transit into Scorpio and the Presidential Elections, brought to you by some of my favorite astrological writers and a few people illustrating their predictions.
Saturn into Scorpio
First up: Saturn going through Scorpio. The planet Saturn moved into the sign of Scorpio on October 5th and will stay there through September 2015.
Saturn rules our limits and boundaries – where we meet them and how we set them. It rules authority and operates on the principles of rejection and exclusion. Unsurprisingly Saturn experiences and Saturnine people tend toward loneliness, melancholy, and isolation. Not in a bad way, of course. Just kidding, it sucks. But it’s for your own good. Character building. No, really. Put it this way, where we meet Saturn, we find where we stand all alone, just like the cheese. That’s not generally considered a good thing in polite society, which by definition depends on us NOT being all alone in order to function. However, society is only as strong as its members and sometimes getting away from the tribe is the best thing you can actually do FOR the tribe. It just typically doesn’t feel very good, which is one reason why Saturn is known as a Malefic (BAD planet).
The sign of Scorpio is a water sign, which is exactly what it sounds like: fluid, lacking in boundary, sensitive, and carrying undercurrents. It is ruled by the planet Mars, which is the other Malefic, being in charge of wars and acts of aggression. Sounds like fun, huh? Well, you’ve probably heard about Scorpio’s reputation for great sex, and if you think about it for a moment, you can probably see how great sex doesn’t happen unless one or both parties are capable of asserting themselves – rising to the occasion, as it were. This quality is enhanced in Scorpio, because Scorpio being a water sign, is feminine, or receiving – sensitive to others. Demetra George describes Scorpio as “the need for deep involvements and intense transformations,” and if you think about a Mars ruled water sign, this only makes sense. In Scorpio you have both the sensitivity to others and need to act for oneself. Great lovers, deadly enemies.
I call this one “Determined Cheese Walks on Water”
The interesting thing about Saturn’s transit through Scorpio is that Saturn is all about acting alone/isolation, and Scorpio, being water, is all about connectivity. Of course, connectivity isn’t necessarily social, and it’s entirely possible for a Scorpionic academic researcher to experience great connectivity to the subject of her ivory tower research but to forget entirely for days at a time to water her plants or call her lover. So we have to pay attention to the house position of Scorpio to see how, exactly, this connectivity will play out. However, an essential experience of Saturn’s movement through Scorpio will be one of identifying and isolating those aspects of ourselves that prevent us from connecting and exerting our power through those connections. Ideally, of course, we will come out on the other side knowing ourselves to be more powerful, more connected, and better able to handle the slings and arrows that come our way.
The key here – as with any Saturn transit – is to work your ass off and your fingers to the bone.
Dang, I wrote a lot. The whole point of this post was to NOT have to write anything but point you to other people who’ve written totally awesome things about it! Bother. Well, I hope you’ve got an appetite for more, ’cause here are some great articles exploring this subject in more detail:
For more on using this transit to connect and how the November 2012 eclipse cycles in Scorpio and Taurus accentuated the need to do it, check out April Elliott Kent’s very funny piece over on Big Sky Astrology.
Of course, Austin Coppock had to bring death into it (in fairness SOMEBODY had to, after all, if Scorpio’s about transformation, death has got to be the END all example of that – sorry, couldn’t help myself). Also, sex (YAY!), corruption, and witch hunts (!!!!). Totally awesome article with bonus points for coming up with my favorite tagline regarding Saturn’s transit through Scorpio: Change: It’s Gross. HAHAHA Please click HERE IMMEDIATELY to see why he says that.
Frederick Woodruff over at Astroinquiry offers a grounding but also substantively inspiring perspective on this transit, by way of G.I. Gurdjieff. Read this especially if you’ve been going through a rough patch and you’re looking for a new way of dealing with old problems. This isn’t an easy, pop-culture friendly sort of read, but it’s the real deal, the kind that if you let it, will sink into your bones and reassure you about charting new territories in the midst of old dilemmas.
Emily Trinkaus investigates the investigative nature of Scorpio and why that is necessary and what we might expect from Saturn traveling through this sign. Face your fears! Virgo Magic
To get the heads up on what new health trends might be popping up and how to manage your sex life (you know you want to!) during this time, you’ll want to read what Stephanie Gailing’s got to say over at the Planetary Apothecary.
Lastly, the podcast on This American Life this week is called, “What doesn’t Kill you,” and it features four stories of near death experiences, beautifully illustrating the theme of Saturn in Scorpio. Seriously, check it out. The first was my absolute favorite. It’s a performance by Tig Notaro, about which Louis CK says, “was one of the greatest standup performances I ever saw.” It starts out with her saying, “Hi. I have cancer,” and it just goes on from there. If you need some inspiration on how to handle this transit, you’re not going to do better than listening to this piece. Alternatively you could just head over to iTunes and buy the whole set.
Putting the Stars into the Stars and Stripes
Political predictions: I don’t know about you, but my Facebook and Twitter feed are burning up with astrological articles predicting Obama for the win this November. On Darkstar Astrology you can find a comprehensive list of astrological predictions, with roughly two out of three predicting an incumbent win. Kepler College posted an article covering six different astrologers and their methods for prediction, and if that’s not enough for you, Chris Brennan and Patrick Watson over at The Political Astrology Blog have just put out an ebook which explains in detail the traditional methods they used for their predictions so you can make your own predictions.
If you’re obsessed with the current election and want to follow what astrologers are saying about it, bookmark their site. They’ve been watching it closely from the beginning and have a bunch of articles relating to the election that are worth a read, including one on the Mercury retrograde cycle that begins election day. (The last time that happened was for the infamous election in 2000 when Florida gave us the Hanging Chad).
To conclude, general consensus amongst astrologers seems to be Obama for the win, but it will be super close and contentious, with critics within the field pointing out that astrologers, by and large, tend toward a liberal bias and who knows how that might skew things. Anyway, whatever my esteemed colleagues are saying, don’t rest on their laurels OR surrender to them – Get out there and VOTE!
Remember, You Have a Future! Use it or Lose it, my little Sparrows!
UPDATE: Great post-election analysis of the astrological predictions leading up to November, focusing especially on the Mercury Retrograde with some stern remonstrations against astrologers getting our panties in a bundle over them all the time. Written by Jonathan Tenney, and passed around Facebook, but I found it here at Astroinquiry…
Totally awesome mug my mum sent me last week from www.therumpus.net.
…[W]riting means revealing oneself to excess …. This is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why even night is not night enough. … I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room of a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp. Food would be brought and always put down far away from my room, outside the cellar’s outermost door. The walk to my food, in my dressing gown, through the vaulted cellars, would be my only exercise. I would then return to my table, eat slowly and with deliberation, then start writing again at once. And how I would write! From what depths I would drag it up! -Franz Kafka
I love this quote. Actually, it moved me to tears when I read it. Not because I write so often or so well but because I long to. I long to just sit here and do nothing else. It confounds me that instead of doing so I spend such long hours watching tv and surfing the web. Thus far identifying WHY I’m like this has been of little help. Frankly, more often than not it just causes me to sink a little deeper into my cushions and turn the volume up on the remote that much more.
But because I ALWAYS start with the why here’s my litany:
1. It’s my mom’s fault for not making me do homework as a child. BAD MOMMY!
2. It’s my blasted Jupiter’s fault for being so outrageously dimwitted as to not get out of the way of being blighted by opposing rays from Saturn at the moment of my birth. STUPID ASS JUPITER!
But you know what sucks about living in the past the absolute most? There’s fuck all you can do about it. And you know what sucks about living with your astrological significations as though they were writ in stone? There’s fuck all you can do about them.
Both roads lead to ruin. Cavernous, bottomless pits of pits of unending, soul-sucking, self-defeating, privileged, narcissistic, melodramatic RUIN. The only saving grace in either activity – and it’s a profound one – must lie in figuring out where you went wrong so you can go back and do the absolute opposite whenever you find yourself in the same place. And using astrology to look at your past can help you do exactly that.
True story: The first time I played hooky from school I was nine years old. We’d recently moved across the state from a little log cabin in the middle of woods to a small brown duplex in the middle of a coastal town in western Washington. The population of that coastal town was 43,160 when we arrived but that had to be, like, 43,100 more than the population of the small not-even-a-town seventies back-to-the-land community we’d been living in.
the one room schoolhouse in Eastern Washington I attended for two years
To say I suffered from culture shock would be an understatement. Previously I attended school in a one room school house, grades K-6 with 25 other students. It was awesome. I loved it. Of course, I didn’t know I loved it until we moved. In the blindness of childhood I just accepted it all as it was, no questions asked. It wasn’t until I had something to compare it to that I ever thought it was anything particularly special.
But it didn’t take me long at Happy Valley Elementary to realize I wasn’t happy there at all. Not one little bit. The other girls thought I was weird and didn’t want to have anything to do with me unless it involved torture. They picked on me relentlessly every recess until my teacher finally told them to knock it off when I broke down crying in the middle of class. (My mum has always had a soft spot for Mrs. Mueller and her black polka dotted polyester two piece suits as a result of this).
waiting for the bus
Almost worse, there weren’t any wild spaces to get lost in on our way to our nearest neighbor. We didn’t have our dog, Rosie, who’d been raised by coyotes anymore. We didn’t have to trek a mile in the snow to get to the bus stop. Now I walked to school through a little suburban neighborhood to arrive in a class which all by itself before you counted any of the other classes was 26 strong. Before I felt wild and free. Now I felt invisible.
So I climbed to the top of the hexagon dome in the playground while the girls gathered about me at my feet, untied my laces and played keep away with my shoes. I disappeared into the winding avenues of my imagination and stared away from the playground, away from the school and into the far off distance. I began to disassociate myself from myself. It was then that I begin to develop the profoundly deep sense that my existence simply didn’t matter. I couldn’t change anything, I was just along for the ride.
That February there was a total eclipse of the Sun visible across all of Washington state. Everyone in my house left for work or school that day but me. My mother didn’t fall for my claim that I was ill, but since she left the house before me and my brother she wasn’t there to stop me from staying home when my brother left for school. I knew I was being bad but I really didn’t care not even one tiny little bit. I caught Holy Heck that night when I ‘fessed up to my crime – enough so that I didn’t begin making a practice of it, but for that one glorious day I didn’t have to do what anyone else said I had to and I didn’t have to suffer at the hands of those horrible little trolls on the playground.
Once I had the house to myself I floated about it in a green chiffon nightie I’d convinced my mum to buy me for dress-up. It was a sensuous, floaty little number that made me feel pretty and sexy and delightful. I remember how the sunlight floated through the windows in our dark little house and how the dust motes danced in the air like faeries. I remember briefly looking at the Sun through the window but squinting my eyes when I did so wondering if I was going to cause permanent damage to them, since Mrs. Mueller had warned us off it in preparation for the great event. I remember lying in my bed – which was actually a boat cushion from our small boat since Mum and Dad hadn’t been able to get us beds yet. I don’t know what I was reading, but I went away in the book and traveled off into some other person’s life and lived with them for awhile instead of the room I shared with my brother.
What I remember most from that day, however, is the feeling that illuminates all the other memories, rendering them vivid and charged, and more real than any photograph could ever be. I felt full. I felt at peace. I felt as though I’d escaped into a little space I’d carved out all on my own and no one else could touch me. I’d agreed not to exist out there – I’d erased myself from everywhere else but in here, in the dark house with the golden floating motes illuminated by the Sun, in my grown up green chiffon nightie. I’d stopped time and found a way to exist in secret: whole and lovely and completely possible. Both imagined and imaginary.
Saturn and the Eclipse circling my natal chart
Having just looked it up I can tell you now that this eclipse of the Sun took place at 7 degrees Pisces conjunct my 2nd house Mars conjunct my natal North Node whilst transiting Saturn was retrograde at 10 degrees Virgo trining my natal 12th house Sun from the 8th house. In case that’s all Greek to you my takeaway is that it was time for me to develop a dramatically new (Solar eclipse) experience of my ability to assert myself in relationship to my desires (Mars). This would come about through questioning my self worth and what I was worth to others (Mars in the 2nd, Saturn transiting the 8th). It was also a time to retreat, to learn to rely on myself and not others (12th house Sun ruling the 7th). With Mars in Pisces sextiling a 12th house Capricorn Sun this new-found ability to assert myself was never going to result in me mounting some unbeatable offense, now was it? Hells no. I was always going to choose defense.
It’s all too easy in retrospect for me to want to get into that memory and box that wee small girl’s ears. To tell her, “WAKE UP!!! It’s not school that’s the torture chamber! It’s not your homework! It’s those bloody awful girls!” But what’s the point? It’s too late for that. The die was cast. That day I decided that I didn’t like school or anything to do with it and I WAS NOT GONNA PARTICIPATE.
I can blame my mum all I want for not “making me” do my homework, but the truth of the matter is I was pissed and it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone else could have turned that around. She may very well have been right when she told me years later that she reached a point with me where she instinctively felt it was going to make things worse if she “made me” do it. In any event it’s too late now. Whether through predilection or practice, nurture or nature, I’ve spent the past 31 years stubbornly exercising my right to escape anything remotely resembling homework and replace it with a sort of incessant, graceful sloth whether it serves me or not.
Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So what.” – Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
Which brings me back to where I started this long meandering tale: SO WHAT?!
Because it seriously doesn’t matter where you come from, what your past is or what stars you were born under. These things are powerful tools you can use to uncover your hidden motivations, basic strengths, ultimate weaknesses, and repeating patterns, but at the end of the day what really matters isn’t what you ARE, or what you’ve DONE, it’s what you DO about it now. RIGHT now, in the here and nowness of the now. What you do now has the power to change everything about who you are and it’s only through your current actions that your past ones can ever be redeemed.
I’ve been listening to Caroline Myss’s most excellent CD set, Your Power to Create, and in it she asserts that visions from God don’t come to us like Mary floating down to the ground on a cloud, they come to us in the thoughts that cut across our mind every moment of every day – it’s those voices telling us to clean out our closets that we really ought to be listening to. Greatness isn’t something that comes naturally or in a flash to anyone. We have to work at it. Slowly, every day, chipping away at the imagined stone edifices of our better selves.
So lately when I hear my voices telling me to sit down and write or do my yoga or not eat that cookie I’ve been a little more obedient than in the past. I’m not happy about it, I can’t claim that. Actually, most of the time I seem to be engaged in some deranged dialogue with myself, “FINE! I HEARD you the FIRST time, stop YELLING AT ME!!!” Or, simply, “FUCK OFF!!” But sometimes – more often than I used to, anyway – I rouse myself and do it whether I want to or not.
Saturn, Lord of Capricorn and Aquarius
I like to imagine it’s Saturn I’m yelling at. Little Old Man Grumpy Pants sitting on my shoulder cracking the scythe. While it’s true he’s a complete A-hole about making you feel bad, guilty, and full of regret when things go wrong he’s not so bad if you actually do what he wants you to early on, I’m finding. And for the record, my constant stream of swear words when I’m engaging this Old Devil are totally appropriate. After all, Saturn has long been associated with the sea and sailors. Any daughter of Saturn can hardly expect to get his attention without a salty tongue. Besides, SERIOUSLY, he deserves it after everything he’s put me through..
However, it must be said that in following his instructions more closely I’m starting to appreciate the deeper resonance of Saturn as Authority. Most of us spend half our lives either rebelling against Saturn / Authority or avoiding it, as if it existed outside ourselves. But true authority starts within and doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else. After all, the root word of authority is auto – meaning self.
Authority comes, finally, from your own totally unique sense of self. Caroline Myss argues that the single biggest stumbling block in achieving our dreams is overcoming our fear that we will be alienated from others if we do so. And so, while I lament the trajectory my life took when I retreated into fantasy in the face of rejection, I do not regret the fact that I retreated. My 12th house stellium has a lot to answer for but I find that submitting to its dictates and retreating into worlds of my own creation where no one else can find me has been the only thing that has truly allowed me to find myself.
rinse and repeat
I’ve been waiting for some internal switch to get thrown inside me for most of my life now and change me from slothful to productive. Much to my chagrin, I’m starting to realize that I’m going to have to throw it myself. The story of my life isn’t going to be written by anyone else. In fairness, the timing is right for me to do so – Saturn is about to transit my 10th house and this year I’ve got some bomb-diggity zodiacal releasing going on, but still, at the end of the day I’m going to have to throw that damn switch myself. As Andy Warhol observed, “they always say that time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself.”
So it remains to be said that I’m kind of totally and completely in awe over the fact that I’ve been working on this bloody piece since ten this morning and it’s now 9:14 pm. I had tea this morning, an egg around 5 and toast at some point. I’m starting my second glass of wine. I escaped everything and disappeared into my past, into my stars, and best of all into the telling of it all for hours at a time. AND I DON’T EVEN CARE IF IT’S TOO LONG OR IF ANYONE ELSE EVEN LIKES IT!!!!
It doesn’t escape my notice that we’ve got the last Blue Moon today until 2015 and that this full moon falls at 9 degrees Pisces only 2 degrees past the point where the Solar Eclipse I’m blaming everything on fell all those years ago. Maybe, hopefully, if I’m very good, I MIGHT be just about almost very nearly ready to throw that damn switch after all.
Last night was one of those nights you don’t want to end so you wait till it’s light out and you’re one of the last to go and once you’re back in your room you still don’t want to go to sleep but then you think that’s crazy so you wash your face and brush your teeth and lay down and are surprised to fall asleep right away… And then you wake up two hours later still wanting more.
It started at the AYA (Association for Young Astrologers) party where Chris Brennan handed the baton of President over to Austin Coppock. Here I am with Chris and our dear friend and former Kepler College classmate, Kenneth Miller.
Then the party moved upstairs to the AFAN suite (Association For Astrological Networking) where my roommate Kate Petty and I continued drinking and taking silly pictures of ourselves in the mirror…
Kate is fun to photograph.
Then my pal Andy Gerhz showed up with her fabulous girlfriend, Ash. Ash and I totally bonded over our crazy Libra connection but I don’t have a picture of that, you’ll have to imagine it. Here’s Andy making a point.
At some point I also shared a super tender bonding moment with Henry Seltzer over a conversation about Venus.
Then Nick Dagan Best got a whole slew of photos of me and Rebecca Crane practically weeing ourselves, conveniently located in the bathroom. This one’s my favorite:
Here’s Austin, the new Prez of AYA (he’s the right man for the job, can you tell?):
In closing I’d like to leave you with some closing words from the ever brilliant Andy Gehrz and the “Human Ephemeris” himself, Nick Dagan Best:
Oh my goodness I can hardly see straight. It’s been hours since I slept, but the important thing is I’m almost packed! Look, the point is, I’m heading off to New Orleans for a massive astrological conference for SEVEN DAYS in just a few hours! The good news is you don’t have to stay behind, Precious Treasures! My friend Donna asked me to participate in a seriously fun project called Postcards from UAC wherein a bunch of us will be uploading videos and pictures and sharing them with all our friends who can’t make it this year.
To find out more or just to follow along go to uacpostcards.blogspot.co.uk I made my first vlog ever and posted it there couple hours ago and I’m absolutely sleep deprived enough to think it’s acceptable to post it here:
If you aren’t completely put off my my crazy rollers, please feel free to follow me on my new twitter feed!
The trouble with astrology is that it’s primarily, as Rob Hand puts it, a diagnostic tool. Once you’ve figured out your problem (or problems, as the case may be) you’ve still got to deal with it. Oh sure, there’s a whole host of things you can do to alleviate whatever situation you find yourself in and astrology can help you figure out what they might be. Heck, if you’re into that sort of thing you can even go to a Vedic astrologer and get yourself prescribed some remedial measures – wear gemstones, pray to a specific God, what have you. But at the end of the day no astrologer’s going to fix you, because astrology can’t fix you, it’s not what it’s there for. I’m sure this is why Nick Dagan Best created his tagline, “be your own damn guru!”
The point is, at the end of the day it’s on you to walk your path. Ain’t no one gonna fix you but you. Or in my case, me.
I’ve suffered from depression most of my life, and studying my chart combined with a boatload of therapy has left me with the impression that nothing’s going to help me so much as creating some sort of philosophical discipline. Fortunately with Saturn going through my 9th house and Jupiter transiting my Saturn right now I’m in an optimal position to take up some spiritual / philosophical training. My mum (naturally) found this crazy amazing meditation course for me that’s non-secular in origin, been going on for decades all around the world and is just generally pretty fantastic. So I’m three weeks into an eight week course and so far even when I hate it I’m getting results, so I’ve got to say thumbs up.
We’ve been focusing a lot on creating awareness of physical sensations and the breath as a way into the present moment. This stuff isn’t completely unfamiliar to me, I’ve read a few books by Thich Nhat Hanh and been to a couple different Buddhist mediation classes, but practicing every day (or at least trying to!) is a whole other ball of wax. Often it’s really just torturous, to be honest with you. Especially since really what I want is to transcend my problems and difficulties (cue strings) and this practice is about engaging with them openly and honestly. Blech. Seriously, whatever happened to just repressing crap like normal adults? Oh yeah, that’s why I’ve been depressed since I was eleven. FINE. You see how it is, three minutes in my head and I’m dying for a way out. No wonder I watch so much TV…
So anyway, I’m teaching myself to pay attention to the present moment, to be in the now, not the past or future and to concentrate, really concentrate on what’s actually physically happening right this second. We’re asked to approach our meditations with a “child’s mind,” no matter how often we’ve done it to engage each time as if it were the first time. Which is making more and more sense to me, as something I’ve noticed is that whenever I’m with my nephew, Theo, the practice comes naturally. His focus is so intense, so absolute, so genuine and whole that for moments at a time I will forget about everything else but what it takes to roll a train across my leg.
Rumi said (about the Sufi’s), “A short time in the presence of the Friends is better than a hundred years’ sincere, obedient dedication.” I think I know just what he means…
My mother was a hippy, but she denies that, she says, “I never did any drugs!”
To which I invariably reply, “yes, and I spent the first year of my life in a backpack picketing Safeway’s in support of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.”
To which she says, “yes, well that proves it – hippies were anti-intellectual and anti-activist! I was definitely not a hippy!”
“Uh huh,” I’ll say, unconvinced, “and we lived in a log cabin for three years that you and dad built with no running hot water or a bathroom!” Not to mention the Volkswagen bus that took us from Seattle to said log cabin in the woods (well, to the little tin house we lived in until the log cabin was built anyway).
This is usually where she starts to look a little uncertain, so I’ll pounce with what is really the showstopper of my argument, wailing, “Mom, we didn’t have a TV until I was FOURTEEN!!!” And then we both fall over laughing. If there was just one thing I could say about my mum it would be that we spend a lot of time laughing (as evidenced by the picture above with my Gramma – guess we both come by that honestly).
Our most significant Astrological stats are that my Moon is conjunct her Sun (at 20 and 19 degrees Libra respectively) and my Ascendant is conjunct her Descendant (at 9 degrees Aquarius). Plus, with Saturn opposing her Sun natally – and hence my Moon as well, I suppose it’s only natural she’d have a Saturn riddled daughter. In short we understand one another pretty well. It wasn’t always like that, of course, with so much Saturn we didn’t make things easy on ourselves or one another for most of my adolescence. But once I became a nanny to twins in my early twenties and got over myself we found each other again. Since then our relationship has been mostly very, very good. Pretty amazing, really.
But aside from the astrology of it all, basically at heart I just really like my mother. Here she is at Thorung La Pass after celebrating her 70th birthday trekking for three weeks in Nepal. Frankly, I feel really lucky to be over forty years old and have a mother I can still look up to and want to emulate whose good opinion of me matters so much. Of course, she’s always telling me to stop needing her approval, she claims she can’t understand why I would even think that matters, and with Saturn going through Libra right now, I have the feeling this might be the year I actually kick that habit. I just hope she’ll be proud of me if I do…
On the eponymous TV show, Dexter, a serial killer goes into NA to placate his girlfriend who mistakenly believes he’s a heroin addict. Although Dexter’s there under false pretenses, he begins to fall under the sway of the twelve step program and under their watchful guidance he begins to accept who he really is. I’m only through the middle of the second season so I don’t yet know if that works in his favor at the end of the day, but watching it last night at 1:30 in the morning after promising myself all day I would be in bed by 10:00, I found myself wondering if I shouldn’t try a twelve step program myself.
Hello, my name is Wonder, and I’m a TV junkie.
I listened to an MP3 lecture Michael Lutin gave at UAC recently about “The Power of the Sun,” in which he said that the thing you must do when you lose energy is that thing your sun tells you to do as indicated by sign and house position. Which struck me, ’cause it occurs to me that people with 12th house suns like mine need to lose energy in order to gain it. Basically the whole nature of addiction is all bound up in somehow escaping yourself, which is totally a 12th house need. And Neptune, natch, but let’s stick with the 12th house, ’cause it so neatly aligns with my 12 step metaphor.
Anyway, it occurs to me that once again I’m tempted to blame a problem on my chart, but since the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem, I can’t do that. I repeat: my name is Wonder, and I’m a TV junkie. This blog is my methadone, my meeting, and the splenda in my decaf. It’s my escape from my escape.