…[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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only time will tell…