On this day, 69 years ago a little baby girl was born. Her mother had been alone for most of her pregnancy, the father was stationed in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia as it was known before independence). He was on the way home for leave a few days following the birth. As he alighted from the train at the platform, a friend of the family said to him. “Congratulations, you have a little daughter.”
A short time later this little baby set sail with her mother and older brother, who was two on board two boats headed for the Dutch East Indies with a group of other wives and children. The family lived here for a time in a foreign land with babu’s (Indonesian carer’s) for company, in a challenging environment where a bloody struggle for independence was being waged. It was a very Plutonian environment, fraught with danger..
After a period in Jakarta the family set sail for Holland which was the home of my father. Together Mum and the toddlers, Gary and Judy were stranded there for over a year as my father returned to his post in the Dutch East Indies. My brother had needed treatment for rickets which was the reason the family had gone to Holland, to get the necessary care and since the diet in the Dutch East Indies was deficient in many vitamins, good food was also needed.
This little girl had a very strong nature, she was exuberant, playful and honest, full of zest for life and had a strong sensuality and sexuality. “You will have to watch Judith” my Dutch Oma told my mother, at one point “she is out the back telling the neighbours all of our business.”
As I write this another image comes to mind of my sister many, many years later in a wheelchair in a blue tracksuit, following her stroke, wheeling around outside at the back of our family home screaming out her pain, after being returned home by her husband with a one way ticket. My mother was crying out “Don’t cry so loudly Judith, what will the neighbour’s think?” Another image of my mother alone on many nights after her father died and her mother went out to work telling herself “there’s no point crying, who is going to dry your tears?”
Any relationship we have with a loved one is defined by our unique connection with them which is different in every case. We have temperamental similarities and differences which affect our capacity to connect and then, we go through ordeals that bond us ever more tightly to each other or separate us.
To me my sister will always be a composite of loved older sister, as well as a kind of mother and confidant who I could be really honest with and tell anything. But in the later stages of her life when she had gone through a lot of painful and troubling things she could be difficult to be with at times, despite the steeliness she had to develop to survive all she endured, a softness lives at the centre. With Mercury in Sagittarius her words could cut with a hard brutality at times. She had little room for artifice and her penetrating Plutonian gaze could cut through your soul like steel.
I always remember that my sister had the softest lips. I was always aware of the great pain she carried over past separations and losses. Her Pluto in Leo made a lot of major oppositions to my own Mars, Saturn, Moon, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter in Aquarius and the South Node, being conjunct the North.
I was interested to day to read in a book of lectures on the Sun in the birth chart that Leo is an energy very much associated with the father. I lost my father in my early twenties and my sister lost her Dad, to who she was more closely bonded on some level too, at a time shortly after her own husband had abandoned her. Astrologer Howard Sasportas spoke in that lecture about the fathering issues of the generation born with Pluto in Leo. For my sister, the two losses of the masculine ensured a double loss, when something is taken it falls to us to develop certain qualities within.
I think maybe that strong Leo tie to my own chart also shows me that while living my sister Jude provided not only a strong connection to my now dead father, but played a kind of fathering role too.
It was when Neptune passed over my sister’s Mercury in Sagittarius that she was carried on a journey of dissolution which occurred with a cerebral bleed, time spent in a coma hovering on the edge of death and resultant psychosis.
My sister had her Sun in Capricorn and her Venus there too. I was reading today that the Sun rather than showing our personality actually shows the qualities our life challenges us to embody. Judith had major squares to her Capricorn planets, but they were wide squares. Firstly to Mars and Saturn in Cancer, square to Neptune and Chiron in Libra. She underwent a lot of pain in relationships and lost the love of her life, who was not strong enough to stand by her when psychosis began to affect her following her cerebral bleed in 1980 (all as transiting Pluto passed over the Neptune Chiron conjunction and squared her own Sun and Venus).
Reading that the Sun sign shows the qualities our life challenges us to live and embody it made me realise that the journey my sister was asked to travel was an extremely lonely one at times that took her through some harsh, rocky and mountainous terrain in which she could only travel alone, like the mountain goat. She was a survivor and had to develop a steely strength that belied a softer energy, it became like a casement around her but so often I was with her in the soft underbelly of it all.
With my own Moon conjunct Saturn I understood that journey. At times I shed the tears that were not only for her, but for myself too. Staying by her cost me two relationships and as a recovering alcoholic myself I cannot help but feel this sadness and trauma has repeat themes and connections back along the multi -generational line on my mother’s side.
Our Great, Great Grandfather had strong Libra energies which conjoined my sister’s. For a time my sister was confined in an asylum by her husband in New Zealand which was the place where my Great, Great Grandfather Thomas Watts Trudgeon spent his final years, also in an institution after being abandoned by his family due to his alcoholism.
Lately I have been reading some lectures in which astrologer Liz Greene speaks of the family curse and as Saturn closes in on the cusp of my fourth house I think of the responsibility I feel for giving voice to some of this in order to heal and deepen my own understanding of the family fate, and perhaps separate from it.
Today my other living sister is in a deep depression, my mother is struggling to support with the last reserves of her energy, and I when having any contact feel the deep pool of grief that swirls in our family unconscious, which is then, often, released in tears (for me), but has also manifested as so called “bi polar” disorder with two siblings. I don’t want to pathologise them but it seems to me there is a kind of family curse in operation with deep themes and repetitions working out over the generations that I can only dimly intuit.
Today as I write this blog I sit close to an image of my sister which I keep on my dining room table. It was taken at her wedding, before time and drugs puffed her up to three times the size. As I light a candle and write this I perform an act of remembrance and honour her journey drawing close to my own pain in the deep silence of a hot January day. I think of our celebration with Judith on her birthday this time last year, when she was feated with gifts. She cried and said “I don t deserve this.” My heart ached to hear those words and perhaps they bear testament also to the Capricorn Sun and Venus that suffer inner feelings of limitation and unworthiness at times, hidden behind a harder protective persona.
As long as I live she is not forgotten and today her memory lives on in my heart as I draw close to her spirit in meditation. Happy Birthday, darling Jude. Your life was hard but it had great worth and meaning, despite its challenges.