I have some powerful moments of realisation at times. You know the feeling where a new vista opens up on past issues and you suddenly see things from a new and different perspective? Often it occurs after a long, long period of suffering and questioning. You descend to the depths in order to see things at a more profound level, so that in some mysterious way the deeper you go the higher your view.
Today I had the thought about my brother in law, the one who caused so much pain and fracturing for our family, or rather was the instigator of a lot of it, what if he was just an instrument of awakening and what also if he carried some of the family shadow? My Dad for most of his later life was preoccupied with financial success. Deep down he was a soft man, but born to harsh conditions in 1920 in Holland. He was also born in a patriarchal world.
I had a counsellor for a while, who was herself Dutch about 4 years ago and when I explained how my father treated his daughters and displayed little affection physically, she told me that was usual for Dutch fathers of his age. He also did not believe that women should pursue further education to advance a career. In my case I was forced to go to secretarial college, which I hated and my older sister who had the stroke became a nurse when she would rather have gone to Uni.
Anyway to cut a long story short, my father was responsible and strove and did well, but my brother in law ended up falling short, getting into debt, absconding with the family then sending some of the boys back when things got too hard after he abandoned my sister. I don’t know the full story, in the end he hurt my sister deeply but she always forgave because that is the kind of heart that she had. Perhaps she understood more of how hard she pushed to try and move them forward in a way to which he may not have been suited.
The entire result was devastating in every way. It has marred so many lives including my own. But today when I rose a little while ago to see the Sun shining I felt a kind of awakening. What if all of these trials were for a larger purpose of awakening? What about if our family had to go through all of this separation and disconnection so that in the end it could come back together in a healthier or different way? What if we could make gold out of this blackness and see how old patterns were actually trying to be arrested? And what if love was the answer? Loving something even though it contained such pain?
I also awoke today thinking a lot about alchemy and containment. For the purposes of maturing we need to contain our impulses and emotions in a healthy way. We should not repress what we feel but we do need to make a relationship with feelings, most importantly with our reactions to difficult events. Things not going our own way is challenging for sure. Having to face frustration of our needs and impulses is so challenging, deeply painful but also essential and important. In order to be emotionally and physically healthy in our world we need the drive and ability and power to express our spirit in some way, rather than have it blocked. At the same time it seems to me that containing and working through our frustrations, losses and thwartings and handling the associated feelings involves a kind of alchemy. We have to digest our experiences often over a long period.
This is where the sign of Virgo comes in that we in now. Mercury is retrograde in Virgo at the moment. It has been for some weeks. For me it hit the deepest part of my chart when it stationed backward a few weeks ago. It hit my Pluto. We had the lunar and solar eclipses during this time. Personally I have felt so much going on in my physical and emotional digestive system. The sign of Virgo is ruled by Mercury and I was thinking today that we actually have two brains in our system. There is the brain in our head as well as the brain in our gut. I read in a book by trauma specialist, Peter Levine a few years ago that for every nerve fibre travelling from the brain to the gut we have 10 more travelling in the other direction.
Our deepest emotions live in our gut. This too, is where the inner child lives (in esoteric astrology the sign of Virgo is ruled not only by Mercury but by the Moon which relates to emotions and our inner child). The gut is where we digest things and experiences and process them to then make sense of them in our brains. What is processed here is also passed onto other organs such as the kidneys and liver. Add to this that we have a heart too that is ruled by the Sun and fiery Leo where we feel the will to both love and expression.
When that fire goes out our vital spirit feels almost dead. It is hard to eat and even to breathe as our heart connects so closely to the lungs (ruled by Gemini and Mercury too). We have to process things. We have to contain them. We have to chew the raw food of experience over and over in order to gain the right understanding and nutrition, wisdom, intelligence and insight.
And I guess that during this current Mercury retrograde period that is what has been happening for me. I have began to make sense of the fact that perhaps every thing that happened to my sister via my brother in law was really the working out of something deeper, some thing that had lessons for all of us.
It seems to me that often when we blame circumstances in some way we miss the deeper understandings that can come. You see it all the time when tragedy strikes, people quickly rush to blame or seek the person or person’s responsible and punish them. And most certainly people should be held to account. But what if when tragedy strikes really there is deeper work than this to be done? If we don’t stop and grieve and allow our pain to go deeper and teach us important things or birth deeper realisations it seems to me that we can often miss the deeper truth or meaning or purpose of the experience.
In my own case I am seeing now how much fear I have carried in my own life. I was scared of my brother in law in many ways. I linked that fear to fear of being close to my nephews in some way in therapy yesterday. I both longed for connection and feared it. Would they be safe? Would they end up hurting or abandoning me in the way their father did my sister? Is it any wonder I felt so much fear? That in the years following my sister’s abandonment and suicide attempt that I had 6 terminations of pregnancy and untold difficulties in getting close to any man in a deeply intimate way? That I myself, came to fear life and love and risk as well as full embodiment?
The answer is NO its obvious that is how it would have affected most of us! In the end I would rather this experience never had to befall any of us in my family, but the truth is that it did. And now our task or my task is to live in the best way with the result and after examining the forces and impact make new choices for happiness or at least gain deeper insight into my fears.
I spoke in an earlier post about the wave I felt pass over me last week and weekend with my nephew’s visit. I thought a lot yesterday about how much I can actually fear my own feelings and fear having them in relationship. I intellectualise a lot because I was left alone for most of my life trying to make sense of deeply painful and confusing experiences in the adult world that befell both me and others. I learned often to take myself off alone. I learned to knee jerk react and act without containing often as a reaction to over whelming stress and then I hit walls with accidents which pulled me up short, but maybe for a reason, so that I could internalise to then be able to make a more conscious step forward, one that was not so dictated by trauma but informed by it, if that makes sense.
Today that is the realisation and reckoning I am arriving at. Mercury moves back into the final degrees of Leo in a few days where it slows to station forward. As it does it hits the degree of the Solar Eclipse of 21-22 August. That is right on natal Uranus in the first house which is all about individuation, shock, disconnection, severing, enlightenment and awakening. Oh and freedom! But its also about turning away at times from the instinctual world of feeling to a realm of intellectual understanding which at times can be a divorced or disconnected from earthly containment and emotional realities. In the best sense enlightenment brings light to those deeper darker Plutonian experiences and emotions we all go through. Hopefully in the end deeper understanding when digested helps us and will help me embody more and no longer split. Maybe it will help me to ground, turn back, embody and make peace with the earthly shackles of a far from perfect or ideal life and experiences which were so often so far beyond my own control.