To the Depths of Your Soul

Light Bridge for Aquarius and Aquarius Rising

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How do you feel about yourself? This is the question that permeates your astrology this year and for many years to come. I believe that how we humans feel about ourselves is one of the most significant issues of our day, summed up in the throwaway phrase ‘self esteem’. Yet when you pull back the veil of self-esteem, you can make a discovery — the presence of your soul.

Erasmus Bridge.

I say this recognizing that the concept is controversial, both from spiritual and psychological perspectives, but it will serve this conversation. I would describe soul as the nearly invisible, unprovable presence of a depth of your being that is as close to divine as it is to human. Human sees itself as separate; we dwell in separate bodies. Divine, as I am describing it, stems from the deeper unity of existence. It’s sometimes difficult to notice in a world that is made of divisions, and that insists on separate interests as a way of life.

Foist this on someone enough times, insisting that it’s the only way of life, and they can be cut off easily from their own sense of the deeper source of their existence — to the point where they’re running on fumes. And we sum this up, in worldly terms, as a self-esteem problem. When it gets worse, and what’s left of the person’s awareness starts to fragment, we call it psychosis. The result is the spiritual equivalent of lots of airplanes taking off and landing in a very busy airport — the same one. People are getting off and back on the planes in a huge rush, but never going anywhere.

So, if you want to know what’s lurking behind many of the iPods and iPads and iPhones and BlackBerries and Droids and games and downloads and all that peer-to-peer sharing and the Facebook obsession, the answer is a crisis of self-esteem. One thing is clear: you’re ready to go beyond this, and the time has arrived.

Chiron in Your Sign: An Odyssey of Self

You’ve been through so much the past five years that you’ve likely covered significant ground finding out who you are, and making peace with yourself. The short of it is that Chiron has been in your sign during those five years, and for the past two of them it’s been in a conjunction with Neptune (which has been with you a lot longer). The combined effect of these events has been to peel back layer after layer of your ego until some days it felt like there was nothing left; like the shell of your personality was stripped away and left you completely vulnerable and exposed.

This is a chart for the entry of the Sun into Aquarius. The chart displays all the major planets and a diversity of minor planets. Check the member's contents page for a glyph key.

Certain events have been so intense that at times you’ve had no choice but to push into your maturity in new and at times uncomfortable ways. The developments of 2011 will take you deeper, as Chiron moves into the 2nd house of your chart, Pisces. This is a distinct development of your growth and self-exploration. I can pretty much assure you that based on what you’ve been through for many recent years, you’re ready for this level of exploration and you’ll likely find it empowering, enlivening and refreshing. Yes there will be challenges, but you’re up for them.

Neptune is beginning the process of changing signs as well, and for you this somewhat mysterious transit is about blurring the line between personality and soul. If Chiron gives you experiences that are so obvious you cannot deny them, Neptune is a subtle blending of what is on either side of the imaginary boundaries within your psyche.

Part of the story of this truly unusual and exciting phase of your life is told in another transit — the ingress of Uranus into Aries. Uranus is one of the planets associated by modern astrologers with your sign, and Aries is, for anyone, an important seat of identity. Uranus in Aries wakes up your awareness and full intelligence in a way that you’ve probably never experienced. The combination of factors, particularly Chiron and Uranus working together, provide consciousness, ideas and a truly deep well from which to draw.

If there is a catch, here it is: You absolutely must harness this energy, and this is a matter of action rather than meditation. Everything about your astrology suggests you want to change, to stretch into new territory, to explore who you are — and to explore the world. The developments in your chart are not subtle. You’re not being dropped little hints and clues and glimmers of possibility. Rather, your consciousness is waking up at full force, and that means facing the day. That, in turn, means doing something other than you did yesterday, and re-thinking everything you ever took for granted.

The long phase that predates today has taught you over and over again that you’re on your own. It’s not that you’re unsupported; you have friends you value deeply. It’s that in this particular long phase of life, you know that you are the only one who can go the places you need to go; there is no relationship that will unlock your depths like your relationship to yourself. I am aware that this has been a theme of your life for a while; however, now you’re exploring this in new ways.

Remember that this wake-up message is reaching you on many levels, though to my thinking the movement of Chiron into Pisces is the one to focus on — Chiron rewards awareness with progress. Part of that awareness is how gently you can proceed with your self-exploration. Chiron in your sign may have thrown you into crisis a number of times, or put you in a position where you felt like you had no choice but to make changes you didn’t understand.

This is not about becoming a better person. Rather, it’s about discovering who you are innately on a depth you may have only suspected exists. Because this involves a discovery process, it may certainly feel like you’re becoming something, or someone, new. Chiron in Pisces is about acknowledgment and affirmation more than anything else. Aquarius, an air sign, is often mistaken for a water sign; in an odd way you’re about to discover the water inside that urn.

What is interesting about your charts for the next year or two is that in a sense, advancement in the outer world is an option, not a requirement. If you seem to have fame or success thrust upon you, or if you serendipitously encounter others who collaborate with you, that is an outgrowth of the inner progress you’re making. It’s true that we all have to make a living, and it’s true that most of us make that living in an uncomfortable way. With each adjustment you make, with each revelation you have, I suggest you make some corresponding, if small, adjustment in your concept of work, and your concept of the relationship between your creativity, your money and your work.

I’ll get into that when we arrive at the longer discussion of Chiron in Pisces. For now, let’s take a trip with Pluto in Capricorn.

Your Relationship to the Distant Past: The Parable of the Attic

Among the many references in your chart to exploring unusual aspects of yourself is something about understanding the past, as an ongoing quest. I don’t mean last week, though there are some recent events that I am sure you would love to understand better. I’m talking about your ancestral history. This theme has been getting stronger in recent years, and it’s yet to reach its peak.

This is a special chart for the entry of the Sun into Aquarius. It shows all of the major and minor planets close to the Sun on what's called a 90-degree sort. It shows the planets and points conjunct, opposite and square the Sun at the time of the ingress into your sign or ascendant. Information in this chart will be used in the audio presentation. Some of these points are explained in the "planet" section of Small World Stories. Check the member's contents page for that link.

This transit is better illustrated than explained. I would caution you that those who do try to explain Pluto transits usually get it wrong.

Let’s use an image. Imagine you live in a house, and you’re aware the house has an attic, but you’ve never been up there.

One day, your curiosity takes over. You open the door and ascend the stairs. There’s another door at the top. You open it, and find yourself looking down a corridor. There are dozens of doors; it’s a long hallway, extending far beyond the boundaries of the house downstairs. You recognize what they are — they are the bedroom doors of your ancestors.

There are so many of them. They are closed, and silent. They conceal so much. You wonder why, among so many descendants of these people, you are here alone. You’re not even sure you want to open the doors and disturb these people, most of whom you don’t know and are long since dead. You’re uncertain you want to involve yourself in their affairs, but you also know that their business is your business. It seems enough that you’re aware this strange place exists. Yet despite yourself, you take a few steps. The door you came through closes behind you. It looks like all the other doors, and you panic a moment, uncertain you’ll ever be able to find it again.

The corridor has a compelling energy. It’s as if each of those doors holds some mystery: perhaps the answer, perhaps a question. You take every step as if you’re in an enchantment. You think: I must be dreaming, but I was awake a moment ago. Each of these doors has a different quality. Though closed, each has a different feeling. Finally you come to one door that feels particularly inviting. But you resist. It’s as if no matter how much you don’t want to open it, you simply have to. So you touch the knob and turn it, and you push the door open.

The transit I’m describing is Pluto in the 12th house. While all of astrology may be a picture of DNA, the 12th is one of two houses where the concept is particularly apt — especially as regards the collected karma of our relatives. And we not only get their karma, we get their emotional tendencies and their ideas, often without knowing it’s happening. Most people stay away from this territory because it’s so creepy. I’ve always thought it strange that we cannot name some of our great-grandparents and most likely cannot name any of their parents; but we’re made of their genetic material.

Pluto in the 12th house is running in the background of everything you do, and everything you experience. It is drawing your awareness to a nearly totally-concealed level of reality. The concealment is an issue because it traps energy that needs to be let out. That energy is often expressed as fear, and with Pluto in the 12th there can be moments of your worst fears seeming particularly vivid. That doesn’t mean they’re real — but what it does mean is that you get to confront them in a fully conscious way. What I am suggesting is that most of them are not your own; they belong to people in the distant past, and some of them are downright primeval. Don’t be surprised if you open one of those doors and encounter Mr. and Mrs. Cro-Magnon painting on the wall. Yes, they are back there in your actual ancestral past, and you have their genetic material in your eyeballs and fingertips.

There may be a lot of weird people back there, and a few you really relate to. Make some peace with the weird critters and actively remember the ones who helped you become who you are; who kept a thread of sanity going in your family line. You will recognize them because they were the rebels — even if in subtle ways. Listen for the ancestors — some of whom you knew, some of whom you did not, and one or two of whom may still be on the planet — who encourage you to be utterly yourself. That is the goal — and that’s the potential you have in your hands.

Whatever you may encounter, bring the sincere curiosity of opening one of those doors, willing to discover whatever may be in there. The truth is that the affairs of our ancestors influence us. Their unresolved business is ours; their unlived dreams belong to us; their fears haunt us; their pleasure in existence is ours to empathize with. You might think that by choosing to encounter this we are courting it into our lives, and I recognize that there is a certain popularity of ignoring the past, or pretending it doesn’t exist. I would propose that it’s all already an active part of our lives, and through encountering it directly you have the opportunity to process the material and resolve it, thus setting yourself free.

A Gradual Awakening, Then a Rapid Awakening

In order to impart an idea of what the astrology of the next four or five seasons is about, it will help to give some background about what you’ve been through. You are at the end of a long and unusual — even highly unlikely — phase of your life; before it gets too far behind you, I suggest you recognize what occurred and consolidate your learning. I am certain you’ve got no doubt you have lived through a very unusual sequence of events, most of which you would not want to repeat.

This is a special chart for the entry of the Sun into Aquarius. It shows all of the major and minor planets located in your sign or ascendant at the moment of the Sun's entry. This is taken from what is called a 360-degree sort — a listing, in order, of all the planets and points in the whole zodiac. Information in this chart will be used in the audio presentation. Some of these points are explained in the "planet" section of Small World Stories. Check the member's contents page for that link.

You began a major phase of your life more than a decade ago, when Neptune entered your sign for the first time (in nearly two centuries) in January 1998. Notably, this also began an era in world history, which I will come to later. I am wondering how long it took you to figure out that something was different? It may have taken a while, because one of the typical first effects of Neptune is a fog-over or getting lost in fantasy. That’s not always true — if you’re an artist, you may experience Neptune as inspiration. If you’re a TV producer or director of commercials, you may do some of your most compelling work. If you have a tendency to use substances, you may have found yourself doing more of that than you were comfortable with, but there was a sense of necessity driving it. You are now at a point where that particular road branches.

Even if you don’t express Neptune creatively, and you succumb to fantasy or delusion, you will still go through a series of experiences that will gradually wake you up.

Symbolically, there are many interesting ways to consider the blend of Neptune and Aquarius. Yours is the sign of the water bearer, and sea-god Neptune provides the water. This has the feeling of blending the intellectual territory of Aquarius with essential emotional or spiritual content. Of its own, intellect can be dry; you’ve discovered the beauty of inspiration.

Looked at another way, the water of Neptune has softened the once-sharp crystals of your personality into softer shapes, and revealed your deeper colors.

A long Neptune transit — particularly in a sign that is connected with Saturn, as is yours — can have many manifestations. One is the sense of ongoing sacrifice: of having to give up one thing after the next. Another is a confrontation with denial. That can include slipping into denial of basic facts of yourself and your existence and then slipping out, wondering where you went. These phases when you ‘weren’t there’ can have odd consequences, such as a lot of time having got behind you, but you wonder what you really accomplished or what you have to show for it.

This can include long spells within relationships when you set your own desires aside, doing what you felt you had to do. You may be wondering how exactly you endured the relationship that you did (though Chiron’s presence in recent years probably cut any detours short — yes they could have gone on even longer).

You now may be involved in a long process of reassembling your life and your individual volition. I suggest you do this gradually, remembering what you’ve gained as well as what you’ve lost; remembering what you’ve learned and doing your best to recall some of what you’ve forgotten. Neptune is also about learning to hear intuition, and discerning it from fantasy and anxiety.

Another lesson of Neptune is learning to deal with isolation. You would think that with seven billion people walking around on the planet’s surface, isolation would be the least of our problems here, but as it turns out, the ego is one of the most isolated devices ever created by human consciousness. You may have felt isolated even when surrounded by people, when in a relationship, when actively participating in the world. Neptune’s presence can feel like living inside a bubble.

Then there is the ‘substance connection’ of Neptune, whether it’s about champagne or Zoloft: medicines that affect and influence the mind. Every substance on Earth is psychoactive, from air to water to sugar to charcoal. Yet certain things come with the intention of taking us out of a reality we don’t want to deal with, and I suggest you look back on these 12 years and assess your relationship to anything you’ve imbibed that may, potentially, have had that intention mixed in.

The Chiron Connection

Beginning in February 2005, you had Chiron in your sign — a transit event that is antithetical to Neptune. So for the past five years — up until the second week of February (with a brief exception last year) — you had both of these planets in your sign. Chiron moves considerably faster than does Neptune, so for several years it was catching up to Neptune, leading to a milestone conjunction between the two points that took place through 2010 and is still, as I write, a point of focus (and will be, in different ways, for a while).

Chiron is a utility that (among other things) allows us to access the energy of the subtler planets. This is particularly true with elusive Neptune, which has that knack for acting invisibly. Chiron does precisely the opposite, bringing things to awareness: feelings, ideas, personality traits, hurts you need to heal, facts of your life that you didn’t notice or set aside, or that disappeared under the surface. One way to look at the past five years is as a gradual awakening to who you are and the healing process you’re going through. This is going to be in effect for a while. Transits this long take a while to resolve, even if the planets have moved on to new signs.

Chiron in your sign may have come with a diversity of crises that still have you perplexed. The more pronounced ones may have involved men, including your father, lovers, bosses, close friends and associates. There may have been the feeling of an endless struggle that was focused on the mental plane.

These have likely been ongoing events that had a strange quality of taking you through one layer after the next, addressing the situation and your feelings about it as you moved through each of the layers and as each event took shape. Processing these events was a vital aspect of your awakening process, much of which involved coming to terms with the solar or male principle in who you are: the expressive aspect, what you might describe as the healthy ego or sense of self.

Chiron did more than present an antidote for Neptune, though it’s very good at that. There is something distinctly Aquarian about Chiron in that it cultivates the ability to be different in a world where there is considerable pressure to conform. To stand up and stand out are precious skills, and Chiron has taught you something about them, giving you both experiences and a new sense of your potential to continue.

Yet Chiron has one other attribute: the ability to help us process shadow material. Where Neptune tends to encourage us to fog over, forget the most important things or get lost in our ideals, Chiron fears nothing and concerns itself predominantly with the deepest levels of healing. These always involve direct encounters with our own dark side, which is being raised to awareness specifically for the purpose of healing.

I trust it comes with some relief to hear that you’re about to leave this whole phase of existence behind you, and to embark on other adventures. You are still in transition, as if you’re shedding a shell; that’s a delicate moment, and I suggest you proceed extra carefully as you build your confidence and get a sense of your new direction. This may happen in some surprising and unexpected ways.

Imagine with Chiron in your sign for five years, you’ve developed a knack for probing through your own layers. With Chiron leaving and Neptune working its way out, you will — I trust — feel some relief from the pressure to constantly become and become. Outer planets occupying your sign can be pretty intense, especially when you consider the wide spectrum covered between Chiron and Neptune.

If, in other times of your life, your personality was dominated by concepts and mental energy, you are now open to intuition and a kind of sensitivity that until fairly recently was entirely unfamiliar to you. Your edgy concepts have dissolved a bit; you are much less inclined to be obsessed with preconceived ideas, and more alert to aspects of your environment that were previously invisible.

I know this has not been an easy trek. There have been long stretches of time when you had to confront what felt like deep uncertainty, isolation and like you were living in a vacuum, or felt constantly confronted by one crisis after the next. You may have had doubts about your integrity or your ability to perceive accurately, and at several key points you were vulnerable to the infiltration and influence of others. Yet at the end of the day, both Chiron and Neptune are spiritual influences. The conjunction has brought both of these influences together, teaching you how to discern them and how to combine them — both skills are essential.

And remember, though this journey goes back 12 years, it is still active; you are still integrating the material.

Of Mother, Father, God and Goddess

In an oblique way, the planet Neptune relates to the sign Cancer. It is the ‘esoteric ruler’ of Cancer and is thus connected with the spell or thrall of mother. This may relate to your relationship to your mother or to her tendencies in relationships. These transits have involved obvious shifts in your relationship to father/men/ego expression; the connection to mother/woman/womanhood is subtler. And you will be more likely to notice when the effect is subtracted than you are under its direct influence.

Part of the ‘mother’ issue for you involves the way in which she appears as such a daunting figure; as a VIP rather than as a person. This is fairly typical, yet we rarely notice the extent of the intimidation that we experience. There are many factors in your chart that are encouraging you to clear these issues and establish your independence from mother. If your Sun is in Aquarius, the fairly recent transit of Chiron conjunct your Sun has helped you move along your material with your father. Mother is a more persistent challenge, but you have a lot of help.

Gestalt therapy pioneer Fritz Perls said that as children we experience parents on the level of god/goddess. Wilhelm Reich said that we experience the family of origin as the “authoritarian mini-state,” and that our lives are shaped by this fact until we are able to summon our life force and overthrow that authority. Even when we are finally able to see our parents as people, there are challenges in seeing them as people equal to ourselves.

This has been an especially important factor regarding where the theme of ‘mother’ intersects with the theme of your work, because you have the sign Cancer in the 6th house. One of the issues here can be work relationships that emulate the patterns in your family of origin. The ongoing raising of awareness and cultivation of emotional independence are the ways out of this. However, I would start by admitting the degree to which this has influenced you — which may still be a bit below the boards. Bring it out and bring it up. Choose your bosses carefully. Treat the people with less experience than you with authentic respect. Cultivate their talent and let them be more gifted than you are, even if they are much less experienced. The way to do that is to be learning from them all the time. Every time you learn something from someone with less experience, let them know you did so.

A Phase of Preparation

In a sense every phase of life is preparation for the next. You have just been through an unusually challenging phase, and you’re now in line to receive the rewards of the work that you’ve done. The rewards are arriving in increased freedom to explore, to think and to liberate yourself from the issues that tormented your ancestors for generations.

When I describe this as a phase of preparation, I am mainly speaking of a period of achievement that coincides with Saturn in Scorpio beginning in 2012. However, I am not putting off anything for the future, but rather making sure you have the opportunity to stack the deck in your favor — and to enjoy your freedom without thinking you have to do something specific with it.

I suggest that you sense your own potential as a conscious act every day. Become familiar with your own depths. And remember that you can set yourself free from the many hidden problems that grow like apples on your family tree. You don’t need the problems of the people who came before you, one of which was the refusal to notice, much less act on, their sense of potential.

In these years of your life, you are quite literally clearing space for your existence, but you can enjoy that space and use it and spread out into it along the way.

I began with a discussion of self-esteem. I would like to end with an image that might help illustrate the point. We normally think of self-esteem as feeling better about yourself, yet for many that is intangible or somehow seems impossible.

Imagine that you dream you’re on a hiking trip, and you reach a remote place away from any roads. There’s a hill, and you climb to the top. A little higher is a building, and you walk up to it and, seeing that it’s unlocked, you go inside. You’re standing in an enormous room, which houses a pool. But this is no swimming pool; you cannot see the bottom.

Right nearby is a set of scuba gear. You actually know how to use it — and it turns out everything is in order. There’s air in the tanks and it’s all ready to go. It’s almost like someone left it there for you. There’s even an underwater light, and the batteries are charged. It’s a little strange, but you’re accustomed to weird, and this is a dream after all. You stand there deciding whether you’re going to put on the gear and dive in. It seems like an invitation; but for some reason you’re hesitating.

You decide to think about it while hanging your feet over the edge into the water. And the moment you dip your bare feet into the water, you make contact with the reality of something that you hadn’t noticed before. That is, the presence of this mysterious pool, and how deep it is, and how easy it was to find.

The edge is an important place to hang out, for now; even though you’re not diving in immediately, you are relating consciously to your own depths. The relationship is spatial; you’re adjacent to something you have not explored yet. You know where it is; you’ve found your way there. You are aware that there is more to you than you’ve perceived before. But to go there, you have to go out of your depth. Water is one thing when you’re carrying it in an urn. It’s another thing entirely to dive under — and you will.

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