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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, February 20, 2006

sitting life exams

Project headwinds were strong again today.

In the early morning I made a short journal entry, then devoted some time to astrology, reviewing my own chart and keying some notes from Robert Hand's Planets in Transit. It is quite a cluster of transits. Each one is difficult on its own; I've got several happening all at once.

I don't believe that planets "do" anything to us, or that a cluster of difficult transits is simply bad luck. The modern astrological view is to see the movements and relationships of the planets as a mirror or gauge of what is happening at the present time. From this point of view, the birthchart is like a map of our genome: the experiment in life that was our birth. Its nature and its intentionality is built into its structure from the start, like a seed. To me, this does not restrict our freedom--or at least, no more than anything else does; for our freedom is always relative. If we're told that we'll lose our milk teeth by age ten, or that we'll go through puberty at twelve, does that limit our freedom? No: puberty and its timing are givens; how we respond to that event in our development is within our control.

The important planets for tracking transits are the outer ones, especially Saturn and beyond. Their slow movements and largely unconscious manifestations make them the "gods of change" in our lives, as Howard Sasportas termed them in his book of that title. Their passages over key points in our charts signal the crises of our lives--the periods when are faced with deep conflicts of values, and must choose which ones we will express in our lives. Each planet carries its own set of themes, and these themes raise themselves as the crucial issues as the planet travels through each house of the chart, and aspects each planet in turn.

One way of expressing the theme of Saturn, for example, is as the reality principle. Saturn represents the hard edges of life, where we meet our limits and insecurities--where the world, as it were, forces us to adapt to it by showing us how much stronger it is than we are. Thus, Saturn represents authority figures such as parents, bosses, and police; it represents "testing" situations when we must prove ourselves and accept the result. Zipporah Dobyns called it the "report card planet". When Saturn aspects planets in our chart, we get an exam in the subject represented by the planet--and a report card.

I'm undergoing multiple exams at the moment. I'll mention just one: Saturn is transiting in opposition to my Sun--that is, opposite the point the Sun occupied when I was born. In general, this represents a 29-year low point in one's life, when one's energies and morale are at a minimum. The Sun represents one's vital energies and one's core personality; in a sense it is one's inmost self and what one really stands for. With Saturn in opposition, these core things are put directly to the test, as though to say, "How realistic have you been in becoming your true self? How hard have you worked at it? Have you slacked off? Taken shortcuts? Made mistakes?" When Saturn is in opposition, these questions tend to bring out the negative answers, even for people who have in fact been keeping their noses to the grindstone relatively well.

What can happen is that you try to show Saturn--the taskmaster--all that you've done with the past 15 (or maybe 30) years, only to hear the response: "Those are not your core activities--not what you were really born to do. Show me something relevant." Now you get butterflies and a feeling of fright and foreboding, the kind of feeling you might have had in school when you showed up and realized that you had studied for the wrong test. A sense of inadequacy, doom, and even stupidity might envelop you.

So inwardly I've heard the question "what the hell have you been doing with your life?" a lot, sometimes ended with "you idiot" for good measure. When that question is put to one, it's not easy to come up with a really satisfying reply.

I'm not alone. Everyone born at around the same date each year is having this transit right now. My birthday is January 24. One person who is clearly feeling the effects of this transit is Wayne Gretzky (birthday January 26). Even being called the Great One here on earth is no refuge from Saturn, and Wayne is getting a snootful of authority figures and also negative publicity (another Saturnian effect). For these astrological reasons I think that the Canadian men will underperform at the Olympics, for I don't think Saturn is finished with Wayne yet. Saturn is saying to him right now, "Sure, you're a sports star--who cares? Show me what you're really made of."

Wayne Gretzky is dealing with his Saturn opposition in the full glare of publicity--ouch. I'm relatively lucky to be nursing my problems in the privacy of my own home, far (far, far) from the public eye. But take heart, Wayne: I'm with you.

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