My mother came from a generation in which children were to be seen not heard. The most revealing comment she ever made to me came when I began to ask her questions about her own childhood a few years into my recovery from addiction. I learned how as a child she was left alone in the evenings and mornings. How she took a stone warmed in the fireplace to bed for warmth and got her own dinner. In the absence of a father’s protection and care and with a mother who, widowed at 26, struggled to survive and make ends meet left her alone by dawn’s early light to make her way across foggy fields to her job cleaning offices, my mother was left alone. Silently on the back porch she watched the neighbouring family’s children play and longed for siblings (in my chart Moon in Aquarius conjuncts Saturn and squares Neptune in the third of siblings, my mother’s natal Neputune squares mine). It was understandable that she played hookey from school, since the nuns often made her stand in the corner for not doing homework and pulled her out of classes to clean the chapel (her Sun in Scorpio conjuncts both Saturn and Mercury). “I learned not to cry”, she told me, “there was no one there to dry my tears.”
Despite this she learned to stand up for herself in order to achieve on an external level, but inwardly on the emotional level her feelings had been silenced…. pushed down deep. To this day when you ask her how she is she will say “fine”. “How are you really?”, I ask. You won’t get a straight answer. Its not her fault. She didn’t have anyone there to make much sense of her feelings growing up. “You just get on” is her philosophy. And she did, often turning a blind eye, not only to her feelings but to her children’s as well.
This early 1920’s generation had Neptune in Leo and my mother, like me, has the North Node there too. Its a particular destiny to learn to express deep feeling experiences which had to be surrounded in fog of confusion, mystification and silence, too deep for words and forge a separate identity and embrace authenticity of self expression outside the collective sense of what is permissible and acceptable. This generation had fathers who were sent off to war or chose to go, thinking it would be a big adventure. What they encountered on the battlefields was suffering, decimation, destruction and loss beyond words.
Chiron was placed in Pisces during the First World War, which replays for the 1960’s generation as this transit comes around very 50 or so years. Chiron in Pisces, too was a strong indicator of what happened to a younger generation caught up in massive collective events generated by powerful underground forces emerging to the surface in global humanity, shaking up borders and people’s lives. Following on, for my mother and father’s generation, was the depression and the Second World War which was a result of the pain and humiliation of a nation (Germany) radically affected by the underground tides of earlier conflicts and struggles for supremacy and freedom from oppression. Many of the 1920s generation, including my mother and father had Chiron in Aries, there was a wound to their sense of identity, many of them had to learn to be self sufficient and to survive on their wits. There was no time to sit around and cry about things. And on return to normality war time experiences were buried.
My own mother’s father was gassed during the First World War and died of war injuries when my mother was seven. The absent father loomed large in her life. Mars rules the masculine energy, a sense of agency and competence which was wounded but driven underground (Mars in Pisces). I find it interesting to explore the synastry between family charts to see what is carried and what transforms. In Mum’s chart her Mars in Pisces at 4 degrees becomes my Chiron in Pisces at the exact same degree. In my second sisters chart it becomes Sun and Venus in Pisces at the same degree but square to Mars in Sagittarius at the same degree as my father’s Mars. In her marriage my sister would not stand up to the verbal abuse of her partner and the repressed anger and compulsive drive of these two energies in time became a bi-polar split which is not uncommon in charts where there a psychic splits between different energetic principles are shown. She carried energetic imprints of my mother and my father, but I equate the Mars force more with aspects of my mother’s character and the Venus force with aspects of my fathers. This entanglements are complex. My sister was so close to my father and I sense the pain of his death brought her a sadness that was replayed in other losses, during the last ten years of her life, especially as Uranus and Chiron have passed over the early degrees of Pisces. Interesting to note that at this time she was diagnosed with a lung condition that paralleled the lung difficulites that killed my maternal great grandfather.
Dad and Mum had many parallels in their histories. Both lost fathers at the first Saturn square, both had Sun Saturn Mercury. Neither were big communicators, both were very serious and ambitious and their worlds revolved around each other. They recognised in each other kindred spirits, having suffered similar losses and together began to build a dream of a life of material security which was an outgrowth of a past where a struggle to survive, materially was forged over an multi-generational abyss of broken emotional attachments, due to immigration stress and infant death as well as collective events tearing families apart. Immigration played a huge part in this history, especially as I explored the charts of my mother’s ancestors. Sagittarius and Gemini are both significant influences and also repeat in a T-square in my sister’s chart in the mid degrees of the mutable signs involving, Mercury in Gemini, Jupiter in Sagittarius and Moon in Virgo. Her Moon falls smack band on my father’s Virgo stellium.
I can’t help getting an image of a lion with a thorn lodged deeply in its paw when I think of the Leo in Neptune generation. Surely Hitler was born with this placement. The illegitimate son of a Jewish father, it is believed that his mother fell pregnant while in domestic service, tried to abort young Adolf and failed. Humiliation looms large in the narcissitsic profile, of which the Nazi mindset could be significant representation. The entire German nation was humiliated in the Treaty of Versailles, following the First World War. I can’t help drawing a metaphorical parallel between the Third Reich’s attempt to extinguish an entire human race, as well as those with so called physical and mental defects, the most “vulnerable” or different in society and the narcissists need to erase his or her own feelings and experiences of shame, powerlessness and vulnerability. In the narcissistic profile there is a squashing or hiding of the powerlessness and a will to power that is massively egoic and rises up from the ashes of the buried, neglected or rejected self.
Strange how this blog is morphing. I just began this with the intuitive heading, Let me Roar and my Leo North Node and Ascendant is calling out to me.
I wasn’t a shy child but I became one and over the years I lost my voice and nearly even myself in addiction and difficult relationships. Losses came and separations and trauma in our family. Deep down there was a squashing inwards and a difficulty with self expression. At some time in childhood I learned to doubt myself and to stop being the strong, gutsy child with gumption who stomped up and down the counter in my father’s grocery singing Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking”. Liberation from the inner oppressor, from a helpless passivity is the only way we come to a self hood and a sense of self esteem.
How I “lost it” may be partially a result of conditioning and part of our genetic or familial legacy. How I regained it was initially through a voyage into pain and injury and then a journey out the other side to learn what it might mean to have some value and make relationship with the sensitivity and rawness which had been there all along but was just not conscious. I needed a container (often it was the blank pages of one of my many journals) where I could express the feelings I struggled with, the doubts, experiences, pain, joy, insights, insecurities and fears as well as the healing of a group setting in which I could begin the work of teasing out some boundaries on mental, physical and emotional levels. To heal self loss it was important to know that my powerlessness as an adult not real, that I could change certain things and find the courage to grown beyond the wounds of my child into an adult who could take care of herself. Part of that has been finding the voice and building up the psychic muscle to push against and say “No” to what hurts me, as well as finding the power to walk away, when my gut tells me things are not right.
Sometimes, as an Aquarian with Saturn on the Moon, I feel the need to speak for the females in my family who lost their voice, who were abandoned or learned to abandon themselves and their own truth or buried it so deep and confused it so that it became a medical or psychological diagnosis. Without the roar, without giving it a voice it can twist and turn and morph into something else.
For me the Lion’s roar is the awakening of our individual voice, perhaps muted and croaky at first due to a lack of tone in metaphorical vocal chords which are, as yet, not strong, but growing stronger with each use. I was once told by my ex partner “You can have your rage, but you are still a rat in a cage.” But that depends is the rage being understood and used to build an inner muscle which mobilised at the right time to hold us strong to our truth? Can we find and hold onto our own inner standpoint rather than collapse, go weak and passive and submit, as my dog does at the dog park when he knows he is outsized by a larger, stronger, more dominant animal. For if I am angry or raging there is a frustration that must be tended to and understood, that needs to be felt and brought to consciousness.
In his wonderful book on Trauma and Healing, Waking the Tiger, Dr Peter Levine speaks about how mobilisation of muscles must occur for us to escape from the deep freeze which is such a large part of the Post Traumatic State. In the wild, animals left free to respond from their deepest most instinctual place are able to escape ongoing trauma by shaking or trembling and so throwing off the attack, even if they freeze and go limp for a time, “playing dead” this is, as my dog understands, a diversionary tactic used to throw a predator off the scent. No where in the wild animal kingdom does it become a complete paralysis, unless the response is confused, such as in a laboratory setting.
In my experience and in our unenlightened culture people are often held down following trauma. How different it would be if they could roar as they need to and so externalise some of the deeply trapped psychic energy that banked up leads to paralysis and a dead end place of Post Traumatic Freeze.
When my eldest sister’s life fell apart and she was abandoned by her husband following a cerebal bleed and psychosis, she attempted suicide. There was a cry of grief which needed to be released but which was not allowed by my mother. To this day in the care home she screams out that pain. Last year I took her to see the movie “A Royal Affair” in which the Danish queen’s children are taken from her following an affair which she has. When her husband sent her home with a one way ticked to Australia from New Zealand, she did not see her children for many years. During this scene my sister roared in the cinema. I’m ashamed to say I wheeled her out as I was worried that her cry would disturb the other cinema goers (or was I trying to protect them and my sister too?). My sister was justifiably angry with me. That polite, good girl in me that must always think of the affect of her emotional expression on others was just too powerful on that day. I feel sad that at that time I felt that I needed to place the opinions of others above my sister’s need and pain. Usually I just hold her hand, when this cry comes out.
Today I know there is dignity in that roar of my sister. Her Pluto in Leo at 11 degrees squares my Neptune and opposes my Aquarian Sun and Moon. In this encounter as I explore the dynamics between our particular charts I see the civilised human (my Aquarian stellium) facing off with the wounded instinctual beast (Pluto in Leo), while understanding that that roar of hers is awakening at the same time my own North Node in Leo. Leo energy has had a hard time living in our family. Two babies born with it on my mother’s side did not make it beyond 6 months of age.
There’s something profound for me around being affected and a witness to the struggles of my two sisters. Sometimes I’m caught in the middle and I feel the chords the connect us pull in sympathy with their latest contractions. I feel their pain and know it too, having passed through it.
This week my other sister is being reclaimed by depression. I see her spirit struggle under the weight of an unconscious history. Sadly I am her memory for the part of 2012 erased by shock treatment, which was to my mind an abuse of the most painful kind, layered over other abuses and failures of understanding which her breakdown affected in the family. I wish she could find her roar. I had more hope for her when she was in her manic phase for at least then there was life, energy and movement not the horrendous paralysis, void of emotion and spiritual deadness of her really severe depression last year made worse by the shock to her brain.
Yet as I watch her soften and yield, vulnerable and sad, confused and lost, I feel a part of her coming awake that got buried or lost too.. Neptune is with her, preparing itself for its third transit over Venus, and squaring her natal Mars. I know she is in the solutio, deep night sea territory, where forces greater than all of us are working on her, but there is no awareness of this in the medical model within which she remains. A similar transit turned me to mush and there was nothing I could do but submit. I was not drugged throughout it. I just made a retreat away from those for whom it made them feel anxious. I wandered and was lost and then had several accidents, she is at least protected, at home with my mother, who having failed her at critical times is trying in her way to provide the holding place she could not when we were young and at the times when my sister so badly needed support. In the manic phase my sister’s anger over this was closer to the surface, it could not be bourn by the family and so it got buried again.
Several nights ago I was aware that I was frightened for her. It was April last year, her last attempt on her life. Awakening after a night of troubled sleep I felt an imperative need to mobilise my legs and get out into the sunshine to the simple pleasure of the dog park. Yesterday I visited her and we spoke about how she is feeling. I had no answers only love to give. And I was relieved to see that in her process, painful as it is she has at last developed a stronger sense of self protection and used the words. “I’m not going through any more shock treatment” she said. “I will come through this”.
I shed my tears with her and told her I love her. She doesn’t know how loudly I roared for her in intensive care last year when they tried to drug her convulsions that were a sign of her body waking from the deep coma. I was so surprised that I received respect from the director of nursing and the other staff. They didn’t drag me away to the loony bin. They sat and listened as I burst into tears and told them some of my sister’s past and our family history of alcoholism. When I left they said one of the nurses who had sat and listened while I cried and spoke my truth said to me “we stopped the meds”.
Is the roar necessary? Will it do any good? Is it just a pit stop on the way to acceptance? Is acceptance a kind of resignation and surrender or a deeper letting go that allow uncertainty to be beyond the solutions I hope to find to bring an end to a suffering that is out of my hands and never really was my responsibility? Is it really not my responsibility? For having lived through it surely my wisdom and my roar is of value? These are the questions I struggle with.
The only truths I do know I only know as truth because I have lived them in my body. When I allow myself to move out of my head and into my heart, tears fall and I am home. When I allow myself to roar I feel the reality and allow it to fire me. When I know the white heat of fear and use it to inform me that something may be amiss rather than talk myself out of it, I find the courage to move through it. This enables me to express the energy outside into the world in the direction it needs to flow, no longer banked up, it is out of my body and I am moving and open, running across the open plane, no longer a prisoner, the silencer’s objections fading into the thin air behind me.
Achieving some separateness from it all has been difficult at times, and so I write about it here. At times I have experienced these tangled and confusing tendrils of familial connections as a labyrinth which has threatened to tie me in knots. However in time, as I move again a little further along the path and integrate the complex multi-layered feelings of these dilemmas and of my personal and collective familial history, I find myself at times awake and alive present to a moment both serene and still where it all makes sense and the larger pattern connects the smaller in web of light and truth.