“The creative adult is the child who has survived”
Ursula Le Guin
The August lunation opens with the new Moon at 10°58′ of Leo in the tropical zodiac. The Sabians tell us that this degree augers “spontaneous activity of the innocent mind”, a creative energy that loves to explore the possibilities of life, is open to the future, but whose outlook is still ‘green around the ears’ and easily swung by emotional energy. This childlike energy belongs amongst the people as awareness of something of great significance emerging into our world; but we do not know at this point what it is, the shape it will take, more that it is immanent and happening, an upsurge of ‘spirit’. It is a playfull energy that can inspire, wants to run free and yet, at this stage, is also vulnerable, needs to be ‘protected’, and the aspects to this new Moon bring out the tension generated between these qualities.
In traditional ways the elders, in their wisdom, will let the children play freely, but, will always keep an eye out for them and be there when reassurance, compassion and the wisdom of experience is needed. Its a community approach that values uniqueness, young and old alike. The Sabians clarify this, telling us that the role of tradition and grounded knowledge which the elders signify offers valuable protective space for the as yet ‘young’ to flower in. But at new Moon the Sun and Moon are in aspect to Neptune and Saturn whose own antagonistic square is actively breaking down the old to make way for the new. ‘Tradition’ and ‘the orthodoxy’ too is being tested out in the world, the tried and tested is giving way to the ‘unknown third thing’.
We are looking at a handover of power, from the old to the new, from the established formalised ways of the older generations to the innovative ways of another, younger age group under the stars. Walt Whitman captured something of the underlying sentiment at work here when he said,
“When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in
columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomerwhere he lectured
with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wandered off by myself,
In the mystical moist night air,
and from time to time,
Looked up in perfect silence at the stars.”
The mutable square between retrograde Neptune and Saturn carries this flavour at its most philosophical level and this square has been at work since late 2015. It will continue through this year to revision our knowing and understanding, to challenge our beliefs as well as our capacity to mature, to step into the “mystical moist night air”. Neptune’s pervasive creative resource can be very otherworldly and Saturn’s knowing conservatism very down to earth ~ they are not in easy relationship. Goethe also captured something of the dynamic in their ambivalent relationship when he said “talent develops in tranquility, character in the full current of life”. For our dreams to grow beyond the known we must be prepared to take risks and accept the ‘breakdown’ as a part of the ‘breakthrough’, before we can build new edifices for our mores and ethics, our invention and learning. And, as Sarah Ban Breathnach tells us, “playing it safe is the riskiest choice we ever make”.
Walt’s tiredness with the old mechanical view of things was enough to inspire him to follow the call to a far less jaded and self-congratulatory place and commune in more innocent rapture with life. There is a deceptively naive beauty present at this Moon, both raw, knowing by instinct, and clarified in its knowing, the more clearly to see and experience Life. It is the soul nourishing innocence of one who has survived and taken their inner child with them for the journey. We too must trust that knowing and enjoy its mature transparency.
But, as Mark Twain said, “loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul”, and while the energy of the lunation may have a fresh and forward looking quality to it, the emergent awareness is also telling us that we are no longer able to rest in innocence and are waking up to those aspects of living in which we must find a new freedom, one that feeds rather than defines or delimits the creative expression of our souls.
In trining the new Moon retrograde Saturn also gives us the benefit of a more positive protective quality. There is a co-creative element at work here too, in that the creative energy is crucial and must be allowed to develop through its own experience and wisdom, given the space within which it can feel safe enough to take risks. Here Saturn’s more maternal archetypal qualities are revealed, those belonging to the all embracing mother goddess as Crone, ‘She who knows’ and within whose compass all arises and resides.
The Moon and Sun quincunx both retrograde Neptune and the Moon’s south node, and here culture and tradition is being pushed to re-envision itself from within. Antoinne de Saint-Exupéry captured the essense of this aspect well when he said, “if you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t asign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”. If the ocean of imaginal creativity is to be explored we must have more than simply the means to do it; we need the passion, a sense of calling, and the willingness to set sail from the safe harbour of the known, the Moon’s south node. This node can provide us with vitals, essential supplies, talents for finding our way by skillful means and charting new territory, but, they do not represent the end in themselves – to some large extent that ‘end’ belongs in the ‘lap of the gods’ and the fair winds they may or not assist us with!
In astrology this threefold aspect complex is called a ‘pythagorean triangle’, and this one (involving planets; the Moon has been triggering this aspect many times through this period) is the last of nine that have been peppering the planetary matrix over the last three months. The ‘uncertainty’ it embodies comes from the quincunx, an aspect in which an incongruity arises, a lack of relationship that calls for a new level or quality of consciousness to prevail; the ‘necessity’ is expressed in the square, where dynamic interaction between two different but clearly defined ways of approaching a problem is at its most difficult, in which the process itself needs to be raised to a higher level, regardless the outcome; the willingness to go forward together is expressed in the trine, where a continuous interchange of energy underpins the process and lends its qualities to the outcome.
Together this configuration of aspects brings a sense of uncertainty, necessity and willingness to ‘taking the leap’ together and the lunation will carry this forward in a positive way, if we give expression to its creative energy, allow its process to unfold while holding the tension embedded within its dynamic. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “when the string of the violin was being tuned it felt the pain of being stretched, but once it was tuned then it knew why it was being stretched”.
At a time when the entire gamut of worldly life is feeling the tension of this unavoidable process at work this lunation can be seen as a potential watershed, a place beyond which, if its positive side is nurtured, the emergent ‘new thing’ will begin to come more fully into view. To do so we will need to keep our eyes on the trends and currents that are emergent, to look for the patterns they are expressing, and build this ‘pattern recognition’ into our knowledge base, the better to navigate and work our passage. We will not see the pythagorian triangle again for a few months so the field is changing now and both ‘the inspired’ and ‘the experienced’ must work together, to keep an eye on the ‘weather’, and how it is changing. And that includes the emotional energies we are experiencing, together and in our own lives. We must not allow ourselves to fear, either failure or its consequences, but, the creative persistance that will prevail if we trust ourselves enough to make the leap, is the best quality we can bring to working through this time with the energies of this lunation.
As I write this the Moon is forming a pythagorean triangle with Neptune and Saturn from tropical Cancer, close to the degree of the last new Moon, and the sense of culmination is growing. It is a sense being enhanced through its quintile with Jupiter, 72° away in Virgo.
Jupiter is now opposing Chiron in Pisces and quincunxing Uranus in Aries. This is an aspect pattern that pulls us into a healing space that needs us to center ourselves in the unencumbered present, the kairotic moment represented by Uranus, for its fruits to be delivered. To do so these aspects too calls us to bring a new level of consciousness to bear, to pay attention to our wounded nature, to mature beyond the past and its grave errors and allow the moment to reveal the inner meaning of our history. Much of this revelation centers on invoking the creative energy of the lunation through practical means, and, Venus in late Leo at new Moon aids this release very creatively through trining Uranus and quincunxing Chiron.
This is about letting go of past hurts, while being able to accept our wounds, errors and limitations, so that we can not only mature as people but enjoy the collective freedom our hearts know we desire by embodying it creatively. It is a complex of aspects that supports the lunation’s matrix for growth, while bringing it into a more personal space. Go with your hearts desire but, as the Chinese proverb has it, ‘be aware of your mistakes in the beginning!’
Buckminster Fuller once said, “Nature is trying hard to make us succeed, but, Nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment”, and with Pluto trining the Moon’s north node at new Moon the reality of Bucky’s statement is very much present with us as we navigate the transformational qualities of the times. Pluto is in a waxing quincunx with the new Moon and Sun but is otherwise unaspected as the lunation begins, and this pervasive sense of scale within the bigger picture, while it is a part of our growing process as a species, is not only hard to accept, but is humbling once it has been.
This lunation will close with a trine, from the north node, Sun and Moon to Pluto and pressure to take this perspective in will increase as we approach that time. In fact, the solar eclipse we will see as the September lunation opens will bring the sense of culmination to a head.
If we are to work with the larger perspective that the times require of us, and bring this lunation alive within our lives, allow its creative energy expression, the luminosity we each carry within will be our most valuable asset. As Elizabeth Kübler-Ross said, “People are like stained glass windows; They sparkle and shine when the Sun is out, but, when darkness sets in their beauty is revealed only if there is a light within”.
The final piece of this puzzling time is provided by Mars who enters Sagittarius once more just as the Moon is renewing its cycle. Falling out of aspect with the other planets as the lunation opens, Mars is bringing a strong sense of purpose to the entire matrix, a sense that this is the time and the time is now! His journey through Sagittarius will see him meet with Saturn and re-ignite the burning issue of how we use our power to create the reality we are now experiencing in the world. War will be top of the agenda for scrutiny, not least of all as they re-unite on the fixed star Antares. As Thomas Jefferson observed, “War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrongs; and multiplies instead of indemnifying losses”. As the pressure for confrontation is tangibly increasing so is the anti-war voice at large in the world.
We can transform the world, we know, simply by choosing more peaceful means for expressing this energy, but our journey will be all the more magnificent if we can do so by transforming our wounds, and the understanding we have of ourselves and the world in the process. In fact, the one rests upon the other. Mars will accelerate through Sagittarius and spend a mere six weeks in Capricorn, where a conjunction with Pluto looks like a catalyst for significant upheaval. This might give us cause for real concern, but, as Hellen Keller advised, “we could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.”
It is hard for us to continue to witness the pain and suffering being brought upon us by so much blatant misuse of power, and this is a time for mobilising the creative energy in the face of the destructive. It is a time when we might feel anxious, wrought by fears and doubts as much as by horror and a feeling of deep uncertainty about our future, but, there is some wisdom to be had even as we do so; as the Chinese alchemist Wei Boyang said two thousand years ago, “worrying is preposterous; we don’t know enough to worry”.
As the August lunation opens Venus is pulling out of a square with Mars and will be working her way through the Virgoan fields of healing and nurturing as the lunation progresses – she brings the dedication necessary for our time and our acts within it to really count. It is a concept that is at the heart of the most traditional of healing ways, that the world is in constant need of repair and maintenance; this is the basis upon which our healing must take place. When we understand that our true power lies in being magnificent in the face of this unremitting demand for care and creative giving, the world becomes transformed, a constant source of inventiveness and response-ability, a place in which love is the means and the end in itself. In that place we have the power to fail, regardless, and to do so magnificently.
As Venus approaches Virgo and activates the feminine wisdom of healing and nurturing through this lunation, and as Mercury very much at home in Virgo crosses the Moon’s north node and comes to meet with Jupiter opposing Chiron at full Moon, it seems fitting to close as we opened with the strong and down to earth voice of feminine wisdom that can help us traverse these difficult times while capturing something of the essense of the moment :
“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
Still from the film ‘The Nine Samurai’
Nest sculpture ~ Nils Udo
Cave Aurora ~ Sebastian Saarloos
Gobekli Tepe, Turkey