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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the mission

Morning rain has given way to afternoon sun, shy and late, gently turning the drops in the neighbors' yew hedge into sparkles. The sky is pale, clean blue amid the litter of torn clouds.

This morning, back to the astrological analysis of my life. I pressed on with it, looking up passages in The Twelve Houses by Howard Sasportas and Planets in Transit by Robert Hand. Feeling threads of meaning draw together, I worked on intently. I have studied my chart many times over the years and decades; it's been my main research tool and example (as with any astrologer). Now I dug deeper, trying to find the hierarchy of importance of the various factors.

I was born with Neptune in the 1st house of immediate relationship with the world. Here is an extract I keyed from Sasportas:

With Neptune in the 1st house, something could have gone askew at either of these two important stages [of the infant's relationship with the mother] of symbiosis and separation. If there was not a secure enough tie with the mother, then they might be afraid to develop a strong, individual identity. But if they were forbidden by her to separate, they may never have had the chance to find out who they are in their own right.

I was also born with Sun in the 4th house of the home and inner world. More Sasportas:

Those with Sun in the 4th need to delve deep inside to find themselves. What is achieved in the outer world is perhaps less important than what is accomplished in terms of soul-growth and inner spiritual development.... Those with the Sun here might have experienced the father as so powerful and authoritative that they subsequently cannot surmount a crippling sense of their own smallness and inferiority. They may have to do battle with the father to sever the hold he has on them. In other cases, the father may have been physically or psychologically absent. For the boy-child this could mean there wasn't a clear sense of father upon which to model his own masculine qualities.

Sun in the 4th suggests that they come more into their own in the second half of life. A renewed sense of creative potency, vitality, and the joys of self-expression are potentially available in the later years.

And from my own notes:

Neptune in the 1st points to inherent difficulties in developing self-knowledge. It is square the Moon-Uranus conjunction, emphasizing the conflict.... Sun in the 4th repeats the theme of "finding myself" as a life-task. Indeed, it suggests that this is my supreme life-task.

The natal square of Neptune to the Sun again emphasizes the difficulty of the task: the profundity of confusion and not-knowing, and the transcendent depths from which the fog of unknowing originates. But, as in a good story, the achievement of the hero is only as great as the forces of antagonism. The antagonism here is indirect, subtle, and systemic. It is unconscious and transcendent. It may be infinite.

For if I believe in Hillman's "acorn" theory, then my life, my birth, is exactly the one needed for me to fulfill my life purpose. The neuroses and conflicts of my parents were necessary in order to grow the person I had to be--have to be. My obstacles have been large and deep--and mostly invisible. They have been within.

Whatever I may discover on this journey of self-knowledge can't be for myself alone. No doubt the Moon-Uranus combination in the 10th points to the social urge: the need to make my findings public, so to say. Uranus here suggests the ability to reach all of humanity. The Moon suggests the personal need to do so.

In short, my birth chart is of someone who has special problems in discovering who he is, whose own self, identity, is an abiding mystery even to himself. This reminded me of the powerful closing words of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

Not the animal world, not the plant world, not the miracle of the spheres, but man himself is now the crucial mystery. Man is that alien presence with whom the forces of egoism must come to terms, through whom the ego is to be crucified and resurrected, and in whose image society is to be reformed. Man, understood however not as "I" but as "Thou": for the ideals and temporal institutions of no tribe, race, continent, social class, or century, can be the measure of the inexhaustible and multifariously wonderful divine existence that is the life in all of us.

The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal--carries the cross of the redeemer--not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

There it is: my problem is the world's problem. I believe it has been given to me, not to solve the world's problem(!), but to work on it. My background, attributes, and passions are just those of someone whose destiny is tied up with this monumental and difficult question. As I put it in my journal:

I may not have true self-knowledge--for the discovery of that is precisely the problem, the quest, not just of myself but of all mankind. But I may be arriving at the knowledge that that is my quest, my role, and my mission. And arriving at some idea of how to pursue it.

This is a truly exciting possibility, about which I feel good--even wonderful. Here is one more extract from today's long journal entry:

When I reread the Campbell extract I felt a sense of relaxation, even joy. The mission is bigger than just my personal happiness or petty ambitions.

If I can keep that in mind, I should be able to weather the storm of the coming months and years.

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