“Doesn’t everyone belong in the arms of the Sacred?”Lady Gaga – “Angel Down”
Even as the cold lifts and small buds appear on my lilac bush, the cosmos takes us for a last dive into the ocean. Pisces – deep water and the 12th and final zodiac sign- is flooding over us with the Sun’s entry last Tuesday, followed by the New Moon this morning. Much as we want to burst with new life, we have to return to the sea to swim in this year’s lessons, to go back to source and surrender, restore, and release.
Pam Younghans gives a beautiful description of this in her weekly newsletter:
” The month of Pisces encourages us to spend time in reflection and release. It is a month that calls us to be more in tune with our higher self and inner guidance, as well as our creative muse.
The twelfth month is also a time to review the past year, to garner its wisdom, and to let go of what has been. It is a time to surrender to the flow of life experience, to release our attachments, and to transcend limiting perspectives. We are clearing out the old so that we are ready for the astrological New Year, which begins when the Sun enters Aries at the March Equinox.”
To add fuel to the fire, or more like wind to the water (and backward at that), Mercury is retrograde now too- giving us added pressure to slow down. And, if we don’t, he will jam up the airways, so we obey – or, in Latin – oboedire, which means listen. The much bemoaned Mercury Retrograde continues to be a great ally if we can let go of superstition and see his wisdom. Much like the kind teacher who gives a review before the final exam, Retrograde Mercury offers us another look, to learn and listen deeper. In a world so focused on movement and outward activity, on rushing through and getting your message out, it’s no wonder most people resist and even fear this.
We are in chaotic and troubled times, and this healing water is so needed. January brought one of the most significant astrological events in decades. Saturn and Pluto aligned in Capricorn – exact on the 12th, with reverberations for months before and to come. Saturn, Father Time and the Karma Keeper, danced with Pluto, The Dark God of the Underworld, in the sign of Capricorn, which governs… government, structure, foundation, law, authority, etc. The last time this occurred was in 1518, the year Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the wall of the church, thus beginning the Reformation. St. Teresa of Avila, one of the great Christian Mystics, who reformed the Catholic Carmelite order was born under this energy as well in 1515.
We are living in a time when the old and familiar – conservative and often patriarchal – are falling down. From politics to religion, what no longer serves our highest evolution is being shaken by these archetypal powers. The cycle of order-chaos-reorder, or life-death-resurrection, is always moving – through the cosmos to the collective to the individual. And, like all cycles, this is not personal. Cycles are forces of creation and can be constructive and/or destructive. It is clear we are in a destructive phase, most noted by polarity or the rising of opposing forces. This is not so that one side can win but that, in their highest expression, both sides can surrender in unity.
Whether you call it Divine, The Universe, or God – whatever it is, is invested in healing. And what is healing if not laying down swords and bringing disparate parts into a new and harmonious whole?
My life has been marked with these breakdowns. Beloved friends and family continue to face grave illnesses. I have four friends fighting cancer, and two of them are now undergoing the same treatment. The medical means we have mirrors the destruction/creation cycle. Chemo is used to destroy all the cancer cells, which also breaks down the body. Then new stem cells are planted, hopefully bringing recovery and remission. I, too, have personally met these forces. After 18 months of suffering, I had carpal tunnel surgery in both hands and trigger finger release of my right thumb and middle finger two weeks ago. The divine yelling in my ear to – for God’s sake – let go.
And so we enter Pisces, ruled by Neptune. The Ocean ruled by the King of the Sea. This is the realm of mystery and the unconscious, where we find our deepest guidance and our innermost fear. It’s the place of dreams, intuition, secrets, solitude, and spiritual awareness. The mystical truth that All is One and where all longing is “endless completion.” (Julian of Norwich)
These are not conscious experiences and cannot be understood with the mind. One of my challenges, as a Spiritual Director, is communicating the unspeakable – the paradox that the path to knowing most often comes through the valley of unknowing, through embracing the mystery. And this is what the Piscean world offers us. And Neptune, the planet, now in his own orbit through Pisces (~2011-2025), brings us even deeper.
Neptune travels each sign for about 14 years, rounding all the planets in 165. This mighty God governs the mystical world, and it is through this archetype that we come to God. Our birth charts show which house Neptune resides in individually, but collectively we are now being governed by the planet Neptune in his own sign – Pisces. Do you see what I see? The King of the Ocean is moving through collective waters, and we must meet him at sea.
Water is the great equalizer; it dissolves and mixes. It is both force and fluid, powerful, effortless. Boundary-less. We see this in the wildness of nature. In severe weather and storms, the rising seas, floods, and melting icecaps, as well as in the dissolution of systems and structures that have stood for ages – the church, governments, the English crown.
Intuitive Astrologer Robert O’Hotto teaches that Neptune leads us down the path to God. But the path to God is not God and only brings us to the door. We must surrender and free-fall into the sea. This is the essence of the Piscean journey. Where we realize:
” the surprising nearness of the mystery we seek… and that this is why we are here on earth, living the life we are living.” (James Finley)
Even as I write these words, I have to fight my own urge to come up with an answer and clear direction. Some statement or proclamation, the next steps on the journey. They are there, in fact, this is much of Spiritual Direction. But if I do not leave this space open in a newsletter, how can I hope to invite you to your own limitless place?
There is a beautiful quote about the power of “the pause,” from psychologist Rollo May:
“Freedom is the capacity to pause in the face of stimuli from many directions at once and, in this pause, to throw one’s weight toward this response rather than that one. The person becomes able to say, “I can” or “I will.””
The Pause is that still point where, in quiet presence, possibility steps in. This is the diver who walks to the edge of the board and stands. First, an inhale, and an exhale, and a collection of all that energy. It’s the musician who holds the space between the notes as reverently as their playing.
So, I invoke in you your own version of the pause. After the dive. Go into your rich waters of creation and float. Let go, cry, sink, swim, even go so far as to drown.
The height of the spiritual journey lies not in self-reflection or promotion but in self-forgetting. God’s Grace holds us in this ineffable quality of mystical union. That quiet, paradoxical place where emptiness fills us and losing is gaining.
“When I am most quiet and most myself, God’s grace is clear, and then I see nothing else under the Sun. What else is there for us but to be tranquil and at peace in the all-enchanting wonder of God’s mercy to us? It falls upon this paper more quietly than the morning sun, and then I know that all things, without His love, are useless, and in His love, having nothing, I can possess all things.”