All Of Us Here

In the Friday edition of Planet Waves Astrology News, I wrote that the Sun was making its last conjunctions to Nessus, Chiron and Neptune before moving into Pisces. What I didn’t mention in that article is that Chiron is, and has been, residing in Aquarius since Feb. 21, 2005. It’ll be there until 2011. Below is an article from the archives, on Chiron in Aquarius. It’s the second part of a two-part series. To read Part I, click here. –efc

Imagine you’re sitting in a restaurant with a group of your friends, and a discussion about a potentially sensitive subject comes up. A few of your friends express their views, and you decide to take a turn, something you don’t usually do. You speak your mind and the room goes chilly. There are stares in your direction. Your stomach turns; you’ve crossed the line of social appropriateness.

"Automat-Ic" by Via Keller, Studio Psycherotica.
"Automat-Ic" by Via Keller, Studio Psycherotica.

It’s like a nightmare: you’ve revealed yourself and been rejected for it. In a single moment you realize that in order to maintain your social relationships from this point onward, you would have to ignore the difference in values and suppress your views and, in reality, yourself. If you were to be open about them, you would basically be unacceptable. Suddenly you feel very alone in the world. Could it be that these people were not your friends at all? What is a friend? And could it be that you really need to invest more energy into actually expressing who you are, rather than in conforming to what other people think for their convenience?

If you look closely at our world, it’s easy to see a thousand ways in which we put up with such compromises every day. Generally, in our era of history, we deal with just about everything by suppressing it. Either that, or distracting ourselves with all our fabulous means of entertainment. Most entertainment is passive and antisocial; in the U.S. most bars play the music so loud you cannot hear your own voice, much less someone else’s; people walking down the street wearing an MP3 player are not going to be available to meet new people, say hello or even make eye contact. The examples go on.

Suppression is really depression and a lot of people are depressed. Many are resorting to coping through antidepressants; it seems like the best most people can hope to do in life is cope and it seems that we are in a “whatever it takes” phase of history. These drugs are showing up in the water supply, and they are also making an impact on our social relations, though it’s extremely difficult to point to what it is — it exists as a kind of psychic climate change.

There are so many factors influencing us to bury our real personalities and the real issues we have on our heart and mind that they are too numerous to count. At the same time there has been another trend, which is toward the spiritual or opening-up practices that are available to exist as private experiences; things we do alone rather than together, or where social relationships are discouraged in the name of integrity.

To say that Western culture has grown more superficial than ever seems a ridiculous statement because it has been so superficial and appearance-oriented for so long.

Do we really need an astrology newsletter to inform us of how uncomfortable this is? Or to point it out? Or to say that this is killing us?

Or is it obvious, if we look, and more accurately, feel? Do we need to be told how much pain our society and the people in it are in? Do we need to be reminded that it’s not necessary to struggle alone, and that all of our problems have already been solved by someone else in the past — if only we will seek the solution?

It may just be that there is a widespread sentiment of this kind that is rarely put into language. It could be the thing you want to say at dinner but are afraid will be like a mouse squirming around the salad bowl. It could be that many people are so thoroughly dissatisfied with their social relations and that there is an ocean of energy waiting to burst up to the surface. Of course, it’s been so long since anything like this has happened that most people aware of the phenomenon’s possibility generally count the notion as wishful thinking.

Enter Chiron in Aquarius

A messenger and provocateur is on his way. Between Feb. 21, 2005 and Feb. 8, 2011, the world and all the people in it will take the trip of Chiron in Aquarius. The effect will be an exposition or even explosion of the themes and issues of Aquarius — in particular, the tension between the individual and the group, which is well beyond its rightful bursting point today.

This will occur during a time when the historical process is being accelerated exponentially by the tightening spiral of time, as we speed toward the 2012 centerpoint of history. Chiron in Aquarius will be our constant companion along the way to the very doorstep of 2012, and will be one of the most palpable tone-setting transits of the era. It will provide us with tools, opportunities and challenges that speed collective evolution precisely because of the collective nature of Aquarius. Chiron in Aquarius will give us a way to approach the question.

One of the primary questions of this transit is, “What do we mean by We?” For most people, We means me and my posse, me and my family, me and my fellow devoted Visio employees, Pepsi drinkers of the world, or us way-cool England fans. For whom does We mean all of us here? All of us who drink water? All of us who breathe air? For whom does We mean all of us who must raise children on the Earth? Aquarius is the territory known as the Commons: the space we all share; what we have in common.

The numerous social issues that will emerge in this era demanding collective attention promise to redefine We in larger, more meaningful and more inclusive ways. We will come to believe there is such a thing as We. Maybe we’ll even start to capitalize We just like we capitalize I.

The Meeting Place

Aquarius is the meeting point of I and We. This can be extremely uncomfortable, self conscious territory, particularly if we’re aware of the conditions that are placed upon individuality in order to have the privilege of saying We: the rules and regulations of being able to identify with a collective of any kind, that great privilege.

The world is organized for the most part into various kinds of cliques. Cliques always require us to be defined by a group, and within such an arrangement the individual is only as good as the rest of the group says he or she is. Chiron in Aquarius, as I feel its approach, promises to blow this issue open. People go to enormous lengths to be accepted. But the pain and struggle of this is rarely acknowledged.

One recent example, a kind of Chiron in Aquarius forerunner, comes to mind. There were recently several studies in Scandinavian countries that associated breast implants with increased incidence of suicide. At the moment such a story can sink beneath the surface of awareness and seem to have no implications. Under Chiron in Aquarius it could become an issue that gets a lot of attention, seen for how deeply it reaches into the problems of our society, seen in relationship to many associated problems in our culture.

One of those problems is clearly loneliness. For all the people in the world, you would think that loneliness would be the rarest problem on the planet. Everywhere you go, you find more people. Yet loneliness only seems to be increasing in incidence and intensity as the factors that alienate us pick up power. We are, in reality, unable to be perfect enough people to meet the standards of cliques, advertising, and the expectations we have been raised with. This is deeply isolating. What exactly are the barriers between people? Are we even aware of them? The events of 2005 through 2011 will have a lot to offer in the way of insights and quite possibly solutions. Once a problem is identified, a solution is never far away.

Transits of Chiron typically alert us to what is already happening, and raise the matter for discussion. They don’t necessarily create new situations but rather drop a lens in front of perception and allow us to focus on a particular pattern. That focus thrusts it into the environment of awareness. Then we have to deal. As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, Chiron is now in Capricorn, the sign of corporations and government, a transit which began within days of the Enron bankruptcy and weeks of the Sept. 11 attacks. On Thursday this week, Enron’s former CEO, Kenny Lay, met Chiron in the form of federal prosecutors and a grand jury. Obviously what was happening with Enron fraud was going on for years, out of sight. Then as Chiron transited into Capricorn it plunged into awareness [see Planet Waves “Living with the Truth”].

What we are living through today is a vast setup. It is difficult to imagine the combination of media overload, personality-altering drugs, hyper-emphasis on glamour and appearance, fundamentalist religion and a general climate of “who gives a shit” in the face of the most serious issues we’ve ever witnessed, being more over-the-top. Add a really thick layer of denial, which seems necessary to get through the day. Then, suddenly, drop a lump of pure sodium into the water. We will soon find out the temperature at which Prozac burns.

An Energy Condenser

A sign represents a quality of energy that generally works in the background (unconsciously or latently). A planet brings the energy into focus like a condenser, in its own particular style, embodying that energy. Chiron, being the opposite of denial, happens to be exceedingly focussed and in your face. The shock of Chiron in Aquarius will be all the more stunning given that we are currently living through Neptune in Aquarius: drugs, delusion and denial in the sign of collective reality. For a while, both processes will unfold at once, yet heading for the guaranteed to be infamous Chiron-Neptune conjunction of late Aquarius of February 2010.

Aquarius is the sign of the tribe: collective values, social concerns and society itself. Society is made of individuals, and often individuals must compromise their values, beliefs, conduct and behavior for the sake of the collective. And sometimes this goes way too far, to the point where there is next to no individuality left, or where it’s so rare it seems strange.

Chiron will point out how wounded by tribal thinking we have become. Since tribes in the modern sense rarely accept a person for who he or she already is, the result is an injury to individuality. And there is also an injury to our ability to trust groups at all. Particularly the group known as society.

For all the talk of freedom that we’re hearing thrown around by politicians, we live in a time when it’s exceptionally scary, illegal or immoral to simply be yourself. We grow accustomed to news reports of increased clampdowns on civil liberties, and somehow accept that we’re supposed to be safer. Okay, it’s not the scariest of times in this respect (the McCarthy era, the last time Chiron was in Capricorn, was a good bit more frightening). But there is a particular urgency about our moment in time, be it personal, political or ecological. And we have yet to see the current cycle of Chiron in Capricorn come to its culmination. We have yet to see the natural result of the way things have been going the past three years.

Meanwhile, individual freedom these days basically represents the power to purchase goods on credit — often to impress others so we can be part of their group. This is a sham of awesome complexity. Aquarius being the sign of collective resources and values, we may see a consumer debt crisis as interest rates spike. Millions of people will be cut off from the drug of consumerism and what is called conspicuous consumption. Something will need to take its place; that energy will need to go somewhere. And this will be a Chiron in Aquarius process.

Chiron’s main action, as I understand it, is to raise awareness. Chiron does this any number of ways, from crisis to revelation to discovery, but one thing is clear: by the time Chiron has come and gone from any particular corner of our charts, we are paying attention to that aspect of life. And by the time it’s come and gone from a sign, a lot of people in society are getting the message of what is happening in that aspect of life.

Here are some examples. Take these and magnify them by a few million and imagine that they represent much larger social movements that we can all feel and see:

<> A person who has adhered to a particular form of Christianity gets sick of hearing about how Islamic people are Satan’s army and should be killed. The result is a crisis of faith that leads to a deeper devotion to the affairs of his or her soul, and to seeking out real community instead of one based on false ideologies. Many people in their congregation suddenly begin to have this feeling and express their deep concerns to one another.

<> Someone who has always noticed how plastic people are wakes up one morning feeling like their life has been a kind of fraud. He or she wakes up feeling like a fake person and experiences a kind of personality collapse. He seeks someone to share the experience with and finds that he knows nobody. He’s left to rebuild his life starting with the question, “Who am I?”

<> A famous television talk show host realizes that she’s been manipulating and lying to people for years. She sets up a special live edition of the program and comes clean on the air, admitting to her own mistakes and criticizing television for its superficial and ignorant treatment of just about everything, particularly people’s most intimate subject matter. This leads to many people in the viewing audience having a revelation about the impact of TV, and a wave of talk show hosts admitting their misgivings about what they do.

<> Someone who has used the Internet to meet people, rather than doing so in person, meets and soon after marries a person who turns out to be a total fraud; everything about their life, as stated, turned out to be in some way false, including their name, their age and their personal history. Suddenly the whole Internet community begins to seem like it has no basis in reality.

<> Someone who has taken antidepressants for some time realizes they are not dealing with their problems, and that the drugs are completely masking over who they are. In addition, some serious psychological conditions are discovered with a little research to be caused by the drug. Additional research reveals a support project for people who are attempting to withdraw from this drug, and through getting involved with this, the person meets many new people and begins a new phase of life.

<> A well-loved national television newscaster discovers the secret file in his producer’s desk about an important issue and discovers he’s been lying to his viewers for years. He makes a public resignation in protest.

<> A temporary collapse of the Internet forces people to come out of their houses and actually start meeting people, or to pick up the telephone and start calling people they have not talked to in years.

<> George Bush obviously loses the November presidential election, but when the votes come in they somehow add up to victory. But there were no paper ballots so there is no way to have a recount. People mobilized behind a candidate and succeeded, but ultimately failed to make a change.

<> A military draft becomes an extremely hot point of controversy amongst a group of friends who realize they have nothing in common, except for the fact that some people are opposed to the draft and the war, and others are in support of the war. The issue personalizes the war for millions of people and there is, for the first time within numerous communities, a real discussion about the issues surrounding the war.

Of Blackouts, Subway Strikes and Personal Politics

In other aspects of consciousness, we may suddenly be confronted with how cold the world has become. It’s not that the “big world” was ever so warm, but people have always had their ways of making the world a smaller and friendlier place. Extended families and villages certainly allowed us to have the feeling of kinship in a way that is very rare today, where people in the Western world have many modern conveniences and privileges that basically rob them of contact with other people.

Despite this, there are many examples familiar to everyone of how crisis brings people together. When I was growing up in New York City, I remember the big blackout of 1977, and then a transit strike when I was in high school. The city changed; its true nature seemed to come out. People who had never spoken to one another were suddenly friends. During the transit strike, people who would never imagine picking up a hitchhiker or getting into a stranger’s car were jumping along for a ride, or picking up anyone who needed to get into Manhattan.

This is often how people in urban communities respond when there is some kind of collective crisis we all agree is there. Suddenly the conditioning not to trust people or the desire to be alone in your air conditioned car give way to something more important, more beautiful, more real. The farce of society melts. We no longer need to pretend we don’t give a damn about one another or think that everyone is a potential murderer.

The odd thing is how those old social expectations, those crystallized patterns, can come back as soon as the electricity returns or the trains start running again; the sleep of society comes over just about everyone and we go back into our little worlds. Then we may remember with nostalgia that friendly night when everyone shared their stuff and we lived like a tribe that had some common interest, or the time you jumped into someone’s car on the entrance ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Under Chiron in Aquarius, crises that lead to awareness of who we are are likely to have a relentless quality — just like the political and corporate crises of Chiron in Capricorn. What is missing under the current setup is our ability to define “we” in a tangible enough way to do something about it together. However what is clear is that we lack the social skills to do too many important things together, particularly outside the context of work and having a boss.

It may be that we have not yet fully appreciated — within ourselves — the role of the individual in the world. Closer to the heart, we may not have had the revelation that our personal actions matter, and that we can join forces with other people who share our values.

And the problems we see may feel bigger than anything we can define as “we” can ever make a dent in, much less solve. The world as we see it is too large.

One last thing — right now, it’s not cool to care. It is very cool not to care. You are considered more intelligent, or more psychologically healthy by your therapist, or more acceptable to your partner, if you don’t take on what you can’t really affect, and what is not really your business. At the moment the individual ego is the most important thing in the world. Maybe it will be replaced by the wego.

In its highest state, Aquarius is about a meeting of individuals who recognize themselves as such. It is driven by social responsibility and a devotion to service. Aquarius has a natural sense of humanity and as such is deeply humanitarian.

Fixed Aquarius

Aquarius is a fixed sign. Though it’s often associated with rebellious people and inventions, its fixed nature is undeniable, both as a fact of astrology and as an energetic process. Saturn is traditionally the planet that runs Aquarius. If Aquarius is responsible for change, it happens through persistence, methodical work and clear ideas: all these are fixed attributes, attributes of dedication and stability.

More often, Aquarius is about the creation and perpetuation of systems. These systems include political structures which, in our day, are distinctly resistant to change; ideologies that dictate mass consciousness in total violation of common sense (certain forms of religion with which we are becoming intimately familiar); and aspects of culture, such as marketing, that are designed to steal our identities and blur the line between the group and the individual.

Once an Aquarian process or pattern takes root, it is very difficult to get rid of. The Internet is a good example. Through the era of Uranus in Aquarius (1997-2003), the Internet went from something largely confined to the academic and military communities to a household product, and a network on which the entire economy depends. It went from a kind of curiosity that people had heard of, to an entertainment novelty, to something we depend upon from minute to minute. The Internet is a good example of the fixity of Aquarius and also of what you could call change through fixity.

Though it is difficult to see it now unless you really question your own life, we live in times when the human personality has become caught in exceedingly crystallized patterns and behaviors. Many people would rather die than change. Many others opt for drugs that stabilize their personalities rather than go through any kind of metamorphosis. The intended use of antidepressants — as a therapy aid or temporary holdover until therapy works — is a true rarity. They are used by people to cope, and we live in a society where the rule is basically cope or die. You can hardly blame people for using these chemicals, but that does not remove the effects of doing so.

Those effects must be felt individually before change can occur. However, under the current environment, individual process rarely shifts to the collective. There is a notion of the “integrity of one” that many people have adopted, consciously or not. There is a notion that desperation is a private matter that has become deeply pervasive. Imagine, though, if individual crisis, process and change suddenly shifts to a collective level.

Imagine individual change occurring so frequently and with such intensity that it feels like a storm gathering in society. Imagine a kind of widespread identity crisis coming to a head, and rippling through society. Imagine world events impacting people in such a way as to ignite and accelerate the process.

Note that Chiron is reaching the slowest point in its orbit, taking more years in each successive sign. With planets, slow means powerful. At the point where Chiron reached perihelion in 1996, it moved through Libra in just 18 months. After gradually slowing down through the next few signs, it spends four years in Capricorn. As it reaches Aquarius and Pisces, then Aries and Taurus, it will take between six and nine years to move through a sign. At its current point Chiron is well beyond the orbit of Saturn and functioning as an outer planet. Contrary to the myth that “outer planets have generational effects” and thus you can’t really feel them, Chiron in particular shows up vividly in the senses and leaves a trail of documentation behind it. Yet the generational effects and the transpersonal feeling of the Chiron in Aquarius era will be undeniable.

A Few Possibilities

I’d like to end this discussion this week with a few images of what might be, if we get the message of Chiron in Aquarius — a message which we can begin to get now.

<> One person amongst a group of people who have been friends for years notices that everyone is on mood-altering drugs. She dares to say something about what this might mean at a dinner party and a real discussion happens. That night, the group commits to supporting one another through getting off of these drugs, and being present for the changes in one another’s lives.

<> A group of employees at a small technology firm that is about to go public manages to get financing to secure a controlling interest in the company. The company is thus able to stay in private hands and can act in more socially conscious ways without being sued by shareholders.

<> Several couples who realize that they are neither spending enough time with their children or with one another pool their resources to solve the problem. It begins with a simple day care schedule that includes creating one free weekend each month for each couple. This has the effect of everyone spending more time with their own children. Several people who are neighbors experiment with a larger household so that work can be saved and free time increased.

<> As a result, these people recognize the need for developing deeper relating skills. They do this, and their lives solidly orient around human contact rather than things and entertainment. They write a book that becomes a national bestseller and begins a clearly visible trend in improving relationships.

<> Three friends who work in the high-tech industry and have identified serious problems with accessibility decide to create a technology cooperative. They make up a budget and realize how inexpensive it will be, because the real costs are in programming and consulting, and they have the experience. They invest in the equipment and begin offering free Internet services to the community, including a community radio station that broadcasts both locally and around the world.

<> Members of a religious congregation decide they’ve had enough of what they’re hearing, and create a Sunday morning community gathering and resource with food, discussion, meditation and a group problem solving session. This is basically a meeting of neighbors where people announce their problems and anyone who can offer assistance or solution comes forward.

In our moment of history we are rather unaccustomed to thinking in terms of collective solutions. We are trained to solve our problems in isolation, and that creates more isolation, which is the problem we are really trying to solve. In this light, we can be thankful for the problems that make us aware that there are other people living on the same planet as we are, that we face similar circumstances, and, as Aunt Josie was always fond of saying, that many hands make light work. ++

To read Part I of this series, click here.

46 thoughts on “All Of Us Here”

  1. Another thought – came to me last night while asleep. It would be helluva interesting to look at charts of those with diagnosed mental health conditions to see what comes up, if anything. Perhaps it’s being, or been done. I know that Jung looked at the charts of his patients and often found a correlation. But he wasn’t working with such severe clinical conditions, as I understand it. What would we be looking at – psyche, chiron, moon, 12th house, 4th house, 8th and, and …?

  2. Hi Patty and BK, (nice name Patty) – The research I was involved in was cause and potential biological markers (diagnosis) of schizophrenia. Doing that work, it was impossible to look at that and not look at other ‘psychotic’ symptom illnesses, such as drug/alcohol induced psychosis, bipolar (manic depression), and the entire range of symptoms/conditions suspected to fit under ‘autistic spectrum disorder’ – dyspraxia, asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia and possibly ADHD. The underlying belief of that spectrum being that there is a genetic disposition to one or more of these illnesses in the person, in the family. I have met families where the grandfather had bipolar or schizophrenia, the son has dyslexia, the grandson has autism. Sometimes several offspring with one or other of these conditions.

    There is a massive increase in the number of people being diagnosed with these complaints. It could be because they know more about the illnesses now, could be because they are more pressured to come up with ‘something/anything’ that gives some difficult to understand behaviour a name, and then to provide a treatment. Who knows? Bipolar, autism and ADHD in particular seem to be ‘very popular’. My view is that there is a lot of possible misdiagnosis going on. A lot of behaviour is going to come from diet (sugar, the ‘wrong’ fats), environment/nurture and genes.

    As I understand it (and I am in no way an expert, someone on here will know more for sure), with psychotic illness, when the patient first appears at the clinic, commonly when they are exhibiting the worst of symptoms, method of diagnosis is DSM4 – a multiple choice questionnaire. The diagnosis will be based on a combination of that and observing patient behaviour. It is not always clear if psychosis is drugs/alcohol induced (which came first, psychotic symptoms or drugs/alcohol?) and it is not unknown for patients who are experiencing a strong reaction to be whacked onto extremely toxic anti-psychotic drugs – which themselves can bring on a heap of ghastly symptoms.

    It is a real minefield this area and there are no easy answers for patient, family or friend. BK – please note, I’m in no way implying that your son is misdiagnosed – my thinking was kicked in on this subject many posts ago, just hadn’t the wellness and energy to get to write anything. My stepson has been diagnosed as bipolar, a really creative, gorgeous man (wonderful musician and composer). He wandered off for a few years, came back 8 years later – my partner took care of him and helped him find his feet again. He’s back in my partners life now, we’re all close, he has a son, still on his meds (and we can talk about it) and is doing great. What you described was very familiar.

    For anyone interested in there’s a great book called The Madness of Adam & Eve (how schizophrenia shaped humanity), by David Horrobin. It’s probably quite expensive if still in print – but quite a book.

  3. Hi Patty/Gardener,

    My son is labeled manic/depressive. His original label was schizophrenia. Wouldn’t even try to give you a technical explanation of m/d, but am sure others here could. The main symptom is the mood swing. My son loved being high/manic and hated the lows/depression and taking the meds that would “level” him out. The people who are diagnosed with this cover a wide range of behavior, and his was not mild. He once drove his car into the library! He called the governor (tried to anyway) to complain about something he didn’t like, but he would get totally unreasonable. Absurd stuff; buying sprees of $1000’s not uncommon. Totally self-absorbed. He disappeared about 9 years ago. . .went to Florida and got married. Doesn’t want any contact with the family. He let us know that much in the one phone call we got from him. Left practically all his belongings behind (he lived with my mother at the time who was his enabler) I think probably to escape the reality of my mom’s frailness and neediness.

    I’m curious as to why you changed your login name. Maybe I will too!

  4. Hello, I am Gardener but changed my name to Patty.

    I forgot to say that my cousin in the nursing home is manic depressive, whatever the heck that means.

  5. Victoria,

    I just read the other note from you. If you are recovering from the loss of a friend who was murdered, your road to recovery is going to be through forgiveness. There is no recovery until you cross that bridge. You may be angry and denying the anger. Depending on friends doesn’t work, simply because most people don’t have the patience to help, or the know-how. In my situation, so called friends blamed me for causing my own problems.

    If you need to see a counselor, I’d strongly suggest seeing one.

  6. true gardener – and not only does it not revolve around us, it frequently doesn’t go the way we want it (this is an understatement!) – and that can be a bit of a fucker for some folks!!! but, i don’t want to appear light about depression (not an intended pun, honest) – i’ve watched it cripple people, stop their lives in its tracks – nothing getting in and nothing getting out.

  7. I have a cousin who is in a nursing home because her kids do not want anything to do with her. As a parent, she was brutal to her kids emotionally. She was self-centered and still is. Everything is always about her and what happened to her, what didn’t happen, what should have happened. She is completely selfish in all of her responses. Her kids are all having problems still, and all of them are over 50. She probably fits what you are saying Paletiger. My mother said she was like that as a child too, always complaining and thinking someone got something better than she got – better outfit, more candy – whatever. Even when she was laughing and being funny it was at someone else’s expense, like being really cynical and smart. Being smart doesn’t always make someone nice.

    I’m just saying what worked for me. You have to stop being self-centered because life does not revolve around you (me). There are other people who need to be loved too.

  8. Victoria, yes bereavement is grieving in my book (the world according to Patty) – and yes you get depressed (sad)

  9. i think i also meant to say that depression as part of bereavement and grief can be not just the sheer loss of someone whom we loved deeply, and valued in our life, but also the difficulty in accepting that they are gone at all.

  10. depression, like sanity, is not completely defined. the truth is, no one knows the cause and it would appear there is no one cause and no ‘one’ set of symptoms. one persons depression can be someone elses’ low mood. watching my mum get carted off to the funny farm when i was 7 because she had lost it completely and was diagnosed with clinical depression was quite alarmimg. however, i have also met people who are disconnected and numb (and somehow unaware of it) who function in daily life quite well – but appear to be empty vessels. i would suggest they can be considered depressed as well. as with all illnesses particularly those of a psychiatric disorder, it can be dangerous to just ‘tag’ it with a name and then be treated accordingly. there are so many variations and causes.

    i loved reading dr leslie farbers ‘the way of the will’ where he suggests that many sources of depression (not in any way ‘all’) stem from people wishing things were different, wanting the impossible, unable to accept, embrace change, move on, whatever. thwarted, for want of another word. head pointing in a backward direction over their shoulder rather than looking at what’s right in front of them. i’ve encountered a great deal of that in a form of depression – in me and in others. there is no simple answer to this. not a one. its just something that is not an exact science.

    when i worked in psychiatric research, my professor told me once, compare medicine generally with how it was one hundred years ago and doctors back then would be staggered and amazed at the progress we’ve made. do the same with psychiatry and it has barely moved at all…

  11. As I do my review of a slice of time, I think back to friends. When I read the reference to who are your friends, I was like what are friends, how do I define these people in my life, pretty futile. But this I can say, the death which was also a betrayal of the worst kind, was a pistol whipping. I called a handful of people and said I may be needing some support, are you able to be on my support team? The people I called knew me well enough to know that, as my father always said, I know you only ask for help when you really need it. It was an around the table buy on. Two long gone romantic interests came out of the blue, and were there for me too. A couple hung out for a time, we were short timers, but most are still active in my life.

    I still don’t have a definition for “friend.” But these human beings, well they are something else. They helped me to stay integrated. And we are all different, and no we don’t agree on everything, but we accept each other as we are.

  12. gardener, is grieving different than bereavement? Depression is part of the cycle of grieving, according to the books.

  13. Eric, My church is having a community organization event tomorrow at church. We will be encouraged to join one of the groups to work with the community, and our normal donation is to go to the benevolence fund, which has seen a 45% increase in requests for funds in the last few months. My church also has an evening meal service one day a week that is ‘free’ to all attendees. I get excited about church a lot more these days.

    It’s a far cry from my first grade prayer book, which i recently re-read. I almost started crying when i read the sentences (and there are many like it in the book) that say, “Forgive me for being a sinner when I go out to play.” No wonder we are all half crazy. In spite of all that is wrong, it is great to be alive in 2009.

  14. Bereavement is a completely different emotion than depression, and one that time heals. Give yourself time if you are grieving over loss. Time heals the wounds, but they never completely go away.

    Depression is one of the deadlies. The cure is to forgive yourself, and everyone around you that you think you can’t stand. You only hate other people because of the thing in them that you hate in yourself. It goes along with all of us being one spirit, one mind, and one body. I am you and you are me. We are one. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I have been through a lot, and forgiveness is almost magical in the way it gets rid of the pain. Prayer helps for that reason too.

    The psychologists are all saying that it does not help to give into rage, and that it only makes it worse. The more angry you allow yourself to become, the more apt you are to hurt someone or yourself. Even with road rage, you should be very specific in your response, and say it aloud – “I forgive the other driver and I forgive myself for getting irritated.’ It works for me, and I really believe it helps the other person too. It probably helped me stay married for 36 years, through thick and thin.

    In the same vein, if you are going through the motions of living, make one of the motions a series of statements like “I forgive myself for feeling ……..’ “I forgive my son for not …….’ ‘I forgive my father for ………. he couldn’t help it.’ Take charge of the script and don’t let your ego do it for you. Statements like, “I hate that mf bastard!” will only make you more angry.

    I am no expert but I know what worked for me.

    Love yourself, and you will love everyone else too.

  15. victoria,

    No way are you slow, and if I’m ever frustrated by what you write, it’s because I don’t get it. . . yet. What I see here at PW is an amazing amount of intelligence, humor, strength and experience. All kinds of experience. Makes my life look sheltered and so I learn a lot from you and the other contributers here.

    That “yuck” factor and how many days it’s been around is a good guage for determining when to take action, if I could only remember when the hell it started! Anyway, you do sound like your ready to forge ahead, and with spring not so far away, it’s time to think about planting seeds and potting plants and all that good stuff. I envy you your pheasants (? right birds? something exotic I know) but love my doves, cardinals, chicadees, and most of all the dozen or so squirrels that visit me every day. That counts as communing with nature doesn’t it? Oops. . there’s one now. . bye, bye. . . .

  16. be, am rewriting my story today. And I am going to give compartmentalization a go. I think I may have been carrying a misguided notion of “oneness.” Probably a holdover from my early religious indoctrination. I am looking at the yoga meditations as a tool now.

    And I finally got to Friday’s pw edition (slow speed is really causing some problems, got to get this machine kicking faster) and a person referenced as kelly mentioned emotional processing as an important factor. I think I could follow AnnaT on that one. She monitors and when yuck lasts more than a few days, she does a tune up.

    So these are the things I am looking at. And I can feel your frustration with my slowness. But here’s the deal. This has been going on for five years and I am just coming out of it. It started with a vicious death and the list I made to keep going: take shower, brush teeth, drink water, eat sandwich.

  17. Well, victoria, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . . . .it must be a duck. You are not going to stop being a Virgo (Sun) person and become a Pisces person just because you have learned to incorporate spiritual practices, and symbolism has become meaningful to you. You will stay safely a Virgo and never lose the gifts of thinking, evaluating and providing practical and efficient service to others, no matter how much you widen your understanding of non-Virgo dimensions.

    This balance between self and others isn’t always managed so successfully by the rest of zodiac signs. And the balance between “all movement and flurry of activity”, and Withdrawal & the Inner Search for Meaning, is subject to the Virgo scrutiny also. So if the meaning and value of “spirit/spiritual” escapes you at the moment, so be it. I feel this is probably the necessary ego function (for a Virgo especially) of maintaining that balance between “real world” and all it’s harsh realities, and the spiritual realm that can sometimes gratify one with temporary escape from pain(among other things).

    Compartmentalizing. Useful when chaos rules, don’t you think? Afterall, we ARE living and trying to function on the earth plane. For Heavens sake, being an earth sign is a GIFT! Do you know how many of us water sign people envy the “earth” strength of practicality when all the scary emotions (fear, grief) immobilize us? Compartmentalizing can help sort through confusion and it serves a purpose. It’s only when it becomes rigid(mindless) standard operating procedure that it is a bad thing. It could be just the thing you need right now. If it doesn’t work, then quit and try some other tactic.

    Not sure how you mean “double duty” unless you are referring to the balancing act, so will wait for more clarification on that. But about Ceres and Persephone, the mother and child. I have a hunch (could be wrong!) that (like my mom and I did during her last months) you and your mom “traded places” since you were caring for her as she had for you. Since you had to “give up” performing that function (due to intolerable circumstances) perhaps some part of you grieves for that loss. Keep exploring this feeling and I’m sure the answers will come.

    In the meantime, I’d can the red moustache club for now. Too painful to belong to it!

    til later, be.

  18. hey be, maybe I’ll start a red moustache club, instead of joining the red hat club.

    About the Ceres, thing, and virgo being a human sign, and the discussions we had sometime ago about gemini (mercury) two timing in the good old days. (By the way the symbols are really working for me) I’m in a place where I feel like I lost something. Something that has to do with persephone and what is happening down under. Ceres is aching for that. I would say she is grieving the loss of it. But I feel like I need it. So maybe those things are lying dormant within and I need to go there and reclaim those seeds. I’m not sure where this is going, but I think it has to do with the within and how I function without and the balance between the two?

    I guess I could equate it to my journey with kundalini yoga. In the early phases it was very important for me to focus on grounding to stay balanced. But then again, the “spiritual” realm is something I am not understanding right now. I use to word slip all the time and say I was medicating instead of meditating. It got me through the harshness of the real world that I was experiencing. I spiritualized everything, pumped it full of air, endorphinized myself. This did open up something called mind. But you know I think I got cushion blisters or something. And now I need to move. But again, I don’t want to be all movement and flurry of activity, either.

    So as humans, do we all do double duty through the house of virgo. Or is it a cycle we move through? And I can feel my body again, and I am aware of my mind. But spirit is something distant to my understanding at this time.

    Maybe I’ve fallen into the separation of the human experience. Like back in the garden when we weren’t aware we were separate bodies. But then we got this great stuff called knowlege and named the other and covered ourselves up with fig leaves because we saw ourself not like the other?

    So it is not like I’m in a bad place or anything. Just thinking too much like I tend to do sometimes. Cleaning the house again. I am starting to think, (thinking again), that thinking is a hobby. I always hated the thought of compartmentalizing, but maybe that’s what I need to do? Set the switches and do the flipping?

  19. Oh, y’all got me laughing today! (But, then, I’ve already had my boo-hoo break.)

    Victoria, now there is true grace and confidence for a 15 year old! Am intrigued by, “…the state forensics meet”. Was this a competitive sport in your high school?

    This morning I was with my spiritual counsellor; mentioned the lively discussion we have been having here, about depression. We talked about a definition of depression – both she (also cancerian) and I tend to think that if you are feeling and hurting and moving, you are not depressed; that depression is when you go numb and blocked – are immobilized, the pain isn’t flowing through, and out.

    So, in that light, I am thankful I feel pain; that I feel!

    Victoria – I did write something, back at the dark of the year, about going down. Persephone, but mostly Innana; no pomegranite seeds.


  20. mystes, I have a date to go dancing with Janis Joplin today. If I can’t get there myself, I’ll take a little help from a friend and dive down to The Pearl. If I dance it, I can feel it. Jack D is not invited.

  21. Stormi, PT, Victoria, AnnaT (AnnaT, so very egyptian the feelingtone on that!)

    I am going to the gym/spa now. While there I will finish up: How My Hair Turned Green (one of the flashfactuals in Tantra for Bobos). You will see that wasn’t merely a carbohydrate/sugar cycle.

    Let’s get this party sobbing…


    I go with the artist Enrique Martinez Celaya, who designed a ‘crying room’ for his home. In a pinch, there’s always the Rothko Chapel in Houston. That’s a whole damn Crying House.

  22. This subject has hit a nerve. I’ve been reading the posts all week. I have quite a bit to say about it – grew up with it (mother); developed it myself (take full responsibility); lived it, felt it; all the corners where the dust gathers, all the dents in the gutterpipes where the water gathers.
    Worked in psychiatric research for a number of years too…and now my help for others is more direct and will become more so due to steps I have recently taken. I am not saying a lot about it at the moment because I’m not so well this week and find even speaking (through typing) exhausting. But I am having the dialogue in my head every time you (all of you) write on here. Wish you could hear me. Perhaps you can. With love, PT.

  23. AnnaT,

    You’re not going numb (again), at least I hear a lot of feeling in our words. As most of the contributors here know, depression can lock you into yourself as you withdraw from the world. But here you are communicating and sharing. You (keep on) going girl!


    Thanks for making me laugh. . . . .AGAIN! What a trooper you are, carrying on even with your (not) razor burn lip. And it beats me too, what about Persephone and those pom. seeds? I don’t get a feel for her like I do her mom, Ceres. So glad to hear you have decided that she rules Virgo. She pretty much rules me too (conjunct my Sun) and I’m always feeding somebody or something.

  24. Victoria – you are such a honey! (meant with the best of intentions!!) What a tale!- I am full of heartfelt admiration at your honesty and courage in revealing your ruby moustache to all your peers at such a vulnerable age and STILL having a great night – and yes I have almost split my sides laughing at your description of this. Love to you. PT.

  25. annat, yup I’m an earth sign. A virgo. And wonderin why nobody knows what virgo’s ruling planet is. Mercury, Chiron, Ceres.

    i think I am voting ceres. The other two are circumstantial.

    Since you are accustomed to swimming underwater, what’s your take on Persephone in all this depression stuff. With your take, I don’t even want to label it a disease kinda name like depression. And what’s with the pomegranite seeds.

    I am aching for some poetry from the depths of those down under right now. Some good gut wrenching power. I hear the voices kissing it, but I can’t feel it. Some would call this vulgar. I call it raw and real.

    PS I have a mustache of sorts. Always have. And since you like humor. Maybe you will like this one. When I was 15, I had a double whammy day. On the following day, not only was I going to the state forensics meet, but I had my first prom date. I bought a container of shimmy shins, it was a hair removal thing. And I was in the bathroom removing leg hair and there was some left so I decided to remove the stache. Well, didn’t I have a reaction. But I got up and did my speech with my ruby red moustache, and that night I put on that prom dress and learned how to eat lobster and slow dance and cop a feel.

  26. Mystes – I could never possibly want to disagree with you, and am your humble disciple.
    Victoria – thanks for the earthy succinct humor! (You’re an earth sign, right?)

    The “depression thing”: I surely know that depression “thing”, and have always resisted pharmecutical medications (although am meaning to try (natural medication) rhodola, after Mystes’ description). As a sun in cancer feel that depression is just a regular part of life, although, if I became immobilized, I would be open to whatever type of help I could use. I agree with Sara that, for a time, pharmecuticals could be helpful, but dislike the thought of living a life numbed down, and not working one’s karma, perhaps.

    On another whole track – hormonal – after having instant menopause, after a hysterectome/oovorectomy, at 51, I was deeply depressed for months, untill I followed the messages I was getting, repeatedly, from my local compunding pharmacist, through various channels, untill I read it as a sign (this was pretty mystical) – that a little testosterone can help post menopausal women with depression, and libido. And it works! (And I’m not growing a mustache! My HMO can’t relate to the whole natural hormone thing, though.)

    I tend to think that depression is something one must go through; that one must feel what one feels. As a cancerian, I am used to feeling differently every few days; living in the emotional water, flowing with it, the ups and downs. When things last more than a few days, though, time to look for help, and/or try to go deeper with it all.

    Depression has been a big feature in my life, this season, and my practice is to breathe, to “sit” with it. After a life as a too fragile, sensitive young woman, I am now old enough, and strong enough, now, to have the philosophy of, essentially, “bring it on” – let’s deal with it – I’m ready – damn the pain! Let’s just feel what we feel, and let it go! These days, if I’m not crying, at least once a day, I am worried that I am going numb again. It’s being such an adventure.

    Thanks to Eric, and the blogsters, and all you commentators for the wisdom and inspiration. You all help more than you know!

  27. Oy!

    Mystes, I was responding to your comment:

    “I know this is going to sound weird, but the lovingkindness prayer as an antidote to depression seems a little counterintuitive for someone paralysed by unprocessed rage.
    It’s often вЂ?niceness’ that got вЂ?em there to begin with. ”

    it read like a bit of a challenge or an offering of a different perspective, thus I elaborated and shared mine a bit more in depth. I’m a little surprised that evoked a stir… can’t we all equally challenge one another? Or is that only for you (i say this with a kidding gentle smile:)

    Here’s a cheer to all of our voices and opinions:)

  28. mystes, I almost forgot. You mentioned Durer. We discussed the male form in art sometime ago. Now I am weak on the academics but his self portrait said ultimate male depiction to me. He looks like he is what he is. I think the portrait appeared in a costuming textbook. Probably has to do with my animal instincts liking the male plummage or something?

    “Every woman’s crazy bout a sharp dressed man.”

  29. Victorious! No. Noone should *ever* disagree with me, for any reason. Ever.
    Do you hear me? Ever. Period. I am not saying this applies to me, of course. Because I am perfectly perfect and never disagreeable.

    (That would be my sole ironic outburst for the year.)

    Just wanted to make that clear.

    And your observations about happiness being overrated are wonderful. I *fall in love* with moody bastards, angry women, hot-headed journalist/astrologers, cranky meditators. Bring em.


    (and salsa)


  30. mystes, since when is disagreeing a deadly sin! You are being mystes, and sharing your understanding. Your knowlege runs in counter so not being an academic, I don’t always connect with your detailing, but you know what you know, and I find your input valuable, and dare I say sometimes reaffirming.

    Of course, I am a fan of critical thinking. And I am a dope believing that there is an ultimate truth, when I really just wanna have fun. Truth is my path.

  31. You are all doing such great work here because you are all working the depression thing. Don’t give up! Even Abe Lincoln suffered depression.

    My thing is that I think happiness is overrated. All the mag bylines about being happy, it’s so much pressure. Like how women are responsible to have a gazillion orgasms. And look good doing it. I say connect with my power, throw that man down in a bed of clover, and share (a mild word) what is. He sure ain’t gonna be thinkin about my underwear. Make sure there has been enough rain, or ya just might start a fire in that field.

    Oh, and we have to make lots of bucks, and look good doing it. More media pressure. And the more women we can make look less, the more we look more. so let’s all get wound up in a bunch of game playing that is only going to come back and bite us in the ass.

    Happiness comes and happiness goes. Suffering comes and suffering goes. We get stuck sometimes. And all those disappointing messages in our brain connect into a network of “I ain’t worth a shit.” Now why would we buy onto a message like that? I believe (no, it ain’t a fact) that those negative messages can create chemical reactions or suppress reactions in the brain. In depression, at least the brain network is shutting down for repair (oh no, the network is down!) The hardest thing for me to admit is always, that I programmed the sucker. Time to reprogram.

  32. I didn’t realize I was disagreeing with anyone. I thought I was making a statement about a) melan-cholia and b) rhodiola. But feel free to disagree with me (most find it easy, but in the long-run, oddly unsatisfying).

    16th Century: It’s interesting that as Tibet was institutionalizing its tantra (cultivating the wild, as it were) Western alchemists were codifying Anger as a important and positive aspect of the Great Work. Staging-wise, �cholia’ cholera, rage, is part of the heat necessary to release the �Gold.’

    Thing about Gautama Siddhartha is that his daddy was one Pissed Off Dude. In order to show daddy up, GS created a monastic structure that mirrored his father’s military structure, while squeezing down the rage. The compulsion – tiering from top to bottom was left intact. Anger was cathected as вЂ?desire’ and both demonized in his system.

    What was I saying in my earlier note? Oh yeah, Rhodiola. Which grows in Tibet. Rho is a serious antidepressant by way of an endocrine action that mops up catecholamines (the byproduct of suppressed rage). Very handy herb to have around for a people steeped in conflict.

    Prayers, like any form of affirmation, are fine at the right time. “Timing” means when you are actually conscious. Anger is a part of becoming conscious.



  33. the coolest thing is we are all different

    my only disagreement with the pharmaceutical industry is the reactionary need to FIX situations immediately which is not to say ssri’s need be banned, certainly i had a boyfriend who SHOULD have taken something for a spell, and a sister who lost her mind while in the military; it’s just that when double digit percentages of children are on drugs before the end of 6th grade, we must ask ourselves what is going on? for the situations i have been close to, the situations can be tracked back to child=parent interactions at an early age and simple lack of loving attention…

    there’s a great song by The Verve addressing the pill culture… check out their music if you haven’t heard…

    breaking open the heart is so powerful, so healing, putting power back where it belongs, into the mind of the individual to know they are whole, they are loved because they know themselves…

    here’s the Metta (loving kindness) Chant I have learned:






    May I be free from enmity and danger
    May I be free from mental suffering
    May I be free from physical suffering
    May I take care of myself happily

    May all beings be free from enmity and danger
    May all beings be free from mental suffering
    May all beings be free from physical suffering
    May all beings take care of themselves happily

    May all beings be happy
    May all beings be free from suffering

    May it be so

  34. whatever is useful Mystes… the more tools we each have to work with, I say, the better and different things work at different times.
    I used to have a prejudice towards that particular meditation, thinking it was about “niceness”. Then in desperation one day I began to recite it to myself and felt some healing. Since it’s so common to fight what one is experiencing emotionally, we often compound it by resisting and thus create more emotional and mental suffering.

    So actually, if I’m full of rage but it’s been turned inwards, reciting a prayer of compassion for myself (like the one above) can be healing and opening. It’s really not about “being nice.” It’s about softly opening the heart of oneself to oneself.

  35. I love Durer’s stages of alchemy engravings. The one on Melancholy is especially rich with allusions. The etymology of Mela-cholia would point to Black Anger, the leaden color and density that Anger becomes when it isn’t actively experienced. There’s a riddle in the engraving, a riddle in the experience of Melancholy.

    All of the men with whom I have been in love have had moderate to severe depressive tendencies. Over the last decade I have researched and created fairly powerful tinctures, using st.johnswort, rhodiola, valerian, etc. Because of other alkaloids I have offset them with antiestrogenating herbs for men, not so much for my women-friends.

    SSRIs have saved the life of more than one friend, but the blowback can be fierce. I highly recommend that you check rhodiola –in particular rhodiola sacra– first. Learn to titrate your own tinctures, most of the stuff on sale is rarely strong enough. I am also finding that with the ssri-s in the water supply, st. john’s isn’t working as well as it did even a decade ago. Rhodiola doesn’t work on the same set of serontonin triggers so seems to still be efficacious.

    I know this is going to sound weird, but the lovingkindness prayer as an antidote to depression seems a little counterintuitive for someone paralysed by unprocessed rage.
    It’s often ‘niceness’ that got ’em there to begin with.

    Just a thought.


  36. I agree that this masterfully written, as all of Eric’s work is. But I’m wondering at what point he deems anti-depressants acceptable, before or after the suicide attempt. While I agree that our society is over-medicated, there are definitely times when these drugs are necessary and helpful – as apainter states in conjunction with therapy and other psychospiritual work and as a means to an end but not the end itself. So le’ts not generalize too much about something that could save a person’s life. With respect,

  37. All good things to you Marymack during this time. Lately, to work with my own suffering, I’ve been reciting the Lovingkindness prayer/meditation for myself,
    May I be free from suffering and the cause of suffering
    May I be at peace
    May I be completely at ease
    May I …

    If you can explore and tolerate this experience of depression for a while longer, without taking the prescription…it can be a worthwhile tolerance, a day at a time. Although these long term studies are not well known at all and rarely named, there is strong evidence showing that taking meds (antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics) increases the chances that the depression, (or whatever the relevant symptom is) will come back and lead to a longer term, chronic depression. There are high recovery and complete remission rates for those who are not exposed to the medication in the first place .

    A person who is currently writing about this is Robert Whitaker. He will be exposing these studies in his next book. The book he’s currently writing will focus on people with depression/anxiety/bipolar, medication, and disability, while Mad In America focused primarily on psychosis and medication.

    As he said to me recently, he’s not anti-meds. He just believes that people need to be given more information about potential risks of meds, in addition to info on alternatives to medication so they can make the most informed decision about what’s right for them. That’s true “informed consent” which is supposedly the law.

    Peace, peace, peace,


  38. hi marymack —
    i just thought i’d chime in on the depression issue, too. i agree with bkoehler: depression can serve a purpose, and the fact that you are already in touch with astrology as a tool is a huge help. i have a feeling i am a bit younger than you are, but i chafed for a good couple of years at the prospect of trying antidepressants for all the right reasons (i didn’t want to go for the easy, “cop-out” fix, didn’t want to be just another statistic in an over-medicated, instant-gratification-obsessed society). but sometimes there is a brain chemistry issue, and i think sometimes it does need to be jump-started. i think that as long as you see the medication as one tool among many that *must* be used in coordination with each other, your intuition and your body and your tribe will help you know when the meds tool has accomplished all it can and is no longer needed.

    for myself, i was stuck in a good-but-stagnant realtionship and a good-enough-but-not-right job and a mostly-healthy-but-sexually-dysfunctional body. finally, after 2 or 3 years of therapy, my boyfriend ending the relationship, and some energy work that helped in spurts, i broke down in my therapist’s office sick to death of feeling permanently stuck. at that point, i was even afraid of trying antidepressants in case they *didn’t* work and i’d have nothing left to try. my therapist reminded me that not only might it help, but that either way it was a *step*, a decision to take action: something i was finding almost impossible on many fronts.

    i was only on meds for about 8 months. i’m not even sure it was necessarily the right one, but i was not willing to try one with possible sexual side effects, since i’d only recently gooten that part of me working again. either way, i had extra energy and even more important, a sense of possibility. i kept seeing my therapist, kept doing the energy work, got ever more into astrology and a self-esteem workbook and found planet waves to be incredibly apropos and synchronous with all of it. and then one week, something very interesting happened: in the span of a couple days, i realized i’d accidentally lost several pounds (i’m thin & can’t afford to lose any) and then fainted for the first time in my life at a friend’s house. (my meds had the possible side effect of appetite supressant, and had combined with some other changes in habit in my life to cause the weight loss). the next day i stopped the meds, spoke with the psychiatrist on call, and got a medical work-up, which determined low blood sugar & low blood pressure from the weight loss to be the likely culprits. (luckily mine were a med that can be stopped cold turkey.)

    so… this is a long way of saying that although my stance may not be the *most* popular in this forum (isn’t this what eric was talking about? being bold enough to speak your truth?), i say do as much research into side effects as you can, try the antidepressants as a tool with an eye to stopping them at some point, and use it as the jumping-off point to get as involved in the more holistic and sustainable tools as possible (astrology, energy work, therapy, this forum, creative expression, your tribe) so that you can transition into life without the meds, but with a very vibrant and alive support network and renewed sense of your own strength.
    may the force be with you… and that force is love.

  39. bkoehler, christinef — thank you for your thoughts. I am happy to get your perspective and will through again. As for depression, I am having a brain freeze and rather than deal with the brain stuff (or other obvious hormonal issues) I was given a script for an antidepressant. Strangely enough, as fun as drugs were when I was a kid, I’m not so inclined now that I’m advancing in age. 🙂

    Advanced or early onset senility? the big “M”, Neptune on my Sat/Merc/Ascending … it’s hard to know, but I’m resisting the anti-depressants for now and trying for a new brand of reaching out to my “tribe”. While we were always told “there’s no “I” in TEAM” there certainly IS in TRIBE!! and I’m glad to know you all!

  40. marymack,

    I agree with Christine, depression serves a purpose, and you will look back some day and say something like “if I hadn’t gone through that period (of depression) I never would have learned or completed or understood (fill in the blank).”

    I know how tough it can be to do just the simple things when you feel this way. . like take the trash out or wash your face. A number of years ago I lost my job (downsizing) at a company I’d been with for 15 years. One day I was in a book store with a friend when I picked up a book and read that I was having a Chiron return. I’d never heard of Chiron! That started a whole new discovery period that could not have happened if I’d been working full time.

    You aren’t a victim and you will continue to grow and thrive and be more whole. The beautiful thing about astrology is how it gives us a sense of meaning and a sense of timing as to why “things” happen. So, you know what Chiron does and why, you know about new moons and eclipses, you know about Mercury and you know what the ascendent represents. How very bleak it would be to go through depression without this vital information.

    If the “last new moon” you spoke of was the one in Aquarius, and it was near your natal Chiron, then you too had a Chiron return not so long ago. That and, if I understand correctly that Chiron is on your ascendent, then much emphasis is on healing and communicating. And that’s just what you are doing! Allow yourself to be healed and then you can help others to heal too.

  41. Marymack,

    I’m writing with some encouragement to hang in there & keep searching for that greater perspective. Writers such as Thomas Moore, James Hillman, and others embrace depression as a condition of the soul– just a necessary part of its journey, which is always also much more than the feeling. From an evolutionary perspective, depression can be thought to be adaptive– signaling a need to turn inward and conserve one’s energy for this inner journey and/or as a form of communication that something feels “off;” a shift is needed.

    I write as someone who has been in and out of this place myself & with a sense of hope that is grounded in my own experience. — Christine

  42. Christopher Alexander is an architect who has been around for a while now, advocating in his writing and design much of what Kristen observes in her comments. His contention is that all buildings, homes, public spaces, towns, etc. fall somewhere on a wide continuum of aliveness. The challenge he sets for himself is to describe that quality which makes one space more alive than another (or more alive than dead). He also asserts that this search (for aliveness) is the central search of any person. According to him, some of the qualities that contribute to alive spaces are that they are: Organic, harmonious, beautiful, and marked by relationships. Thanks for introducing this into the conversation, Kristen. – Chris

  43. What is most fascinating about public space design outside the USA is that most cultures congregate in a public square or plaza; here however, unless in major city, there is generally no ‘plaza’ concept, but even in big cities no single nexus to congregate around. Boston got its commons from England, but that died on its way west. Some universities have courtyards, but then there are the squares named for political places many of us were taught to despise as we grew up, e.g. Red Square at Univ of WA. So who is going to gather therein? Well, we do, but not without feeling uneasy.

    Architects and public planners have a moral duty to help us focus our values, our humanity; what we have seen is phallic exaltation instead of goddess softness… Of course, we have to ask for a better mix, participate at public meetings to garner the balance instead of being pushed around by developers be they private, governmental or military sector.

    There is something very aquarian about the promenading places where folks go to walk and be exactly who they are out in public – beach culture in California is appealing to many for this reason. We could use more of this all over USA.

  44. As happens here, this masterfully written feels written for me. I’m hanging on by a thread and the best modern medicine can do for me now is a script for an anti-depressant and lots of co-pays.

    What with the last new moon near my natal Chiron and the full eclipse with Chiron on my Mercury/Ascending, I figure I’ll read this again and again … and search out a greater perspective.

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