Lessons in Life from the 12th House

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Even though I have been a great believer in astrology for well over 20 years, I can still get blown away by how spookily accurate things seems when I read about particular transits that I am undergoing.  What I read often resonates so deeply and is spot on and to the point.

I am also very interested in the dance that takes place between the three inner personal planets, Sun, Mercury and Venus. They cross forwards and backwards over each other.  At times of the cycle the Sun is shining out ahead, as it currently is in the middle degrees of Leo with Mercury picking up speed following its retrograde transit close behind.  Just about to cross the ascendant in my own chart.  And then at the moment, Venus is lagging behind in the sign of Cancer, just moving into my 12th house from the 11th, which has been a particular time of growing friendships with people in my close personal environment.

Today I read the following about the 12th house transits of both Mercury and Venus in Robert Hand’s Planets in Transit.

If necessary confront someone and don’t be afraid of that.  If you keep the situation out in the open it is less likely to work against you.

As planets transit the 12th house subconscious patterns from childhood and maybe even from the deeper ancestral past can rear their heads or be brought to the surface.  These transits are the time to have a good hard look at subconscious reaction patterns, fears, limitations and buried feelings.  I have certainly been experiencing this over the past month or so.

As I shared in an earlier blog, there were some really painful things that occurred in childhood which have been a lingering source of resentment for me which I really needed to address with certain family members.  In this case, even before reading Robert Hand’s words I chose to speak up, not only with family members but also with another person who seemed determined not to hear what I had to say.   In the end I felt better for saying what I felt and sticking up for my own needs and expressing my feelings calmly, rather than simmering in angry repressed silence.

This balanced, confident self assertion and expression is not something that has ever come easy for me.  I have a strong Neptunian influence in my chart (especially around my introverted retrograde Mercury in the seventh house) and this has made me, as a natural empath a bit of a psychic sponge for energies in the environment to be projected onto me and then absorbed.  It has given me a fragile and low self esteem and made me into someone who has been scared to ask for what I want and need.  I’ve been more content to just fall into the background and lacked social skills, which in earlier years, prior to recovery, led me to seek my confidence via artificial means, most commonly alcohol and/or drugs.  The strong Neptunian influence around my Sun and Venus too, has made me a sitting target for a narcissistic relationships.

It has taken me some years to come out from under the heavy burden of this pattern and I must say, difficult as the transit of Saturn over my natal Neptune has been I have been grateful for this reality wake up call.  I’m not absorbing half of the shit I used to and am feeling much clearer and stronger as a result.

Writing on Venus transiting the 12th house Robert Hand has this to say.

unresolved problems in relationship come to the surface.  Your forebearance and grace in handling these intensities as they arise will eventually work to your advantage.

This afternoon I have spent some time with my bi polar sister.  I have found dealing with her illness at times very scary, but what I have realised is that now I have a greater awareness around her cyclic pattern I am better able to weather the storms and understand the energetic pattern which is so clearly portrayed in her birthchart.  In a few months the Sun will move closer to her firey Mars which clashes with the water influence which leads her to become more introverted and subdued as we head towards winter in this part of the world.   At the moment her energy is in the ascendency.  I can go along for the ride when she is feeling well and perhaps have a greater degree of detachment around the down times. And I can choose to sidestep things when it all gets too much.  I guess too, I am no longer demanding that my sister be other than she is and I am more realistic now about who that someone is.  Certain of her defences seem to have fallen away.  As I have been enduring the Saturn transit to my natal Neptune in the third, she has been undergoing her second Saturn return, with echoes of my mothers Saturn return resonating too, since she is undergoing her third Saturn return, together with Saturn transits of Sun conjunct Mercury.

There is a deeply introverted withheld energy within my mother which made it difficult as a child to connect with her.  This current transit of Saturn has made me much more aware of the inter aspects between our two charts that have led both to difficulties and to healing.  As I have been sharing before, in later times I have begun to see her less personally and demand less of her as a parent.

Yesterday I read the following quote in a wonderful book by Tian Dayton entitled

The Adult Children of Alcoholics Trauma Syndrome : The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships.

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As children we are faced with the task of integrating conflicting sides of the parents they love.  For the child of addiction (or other trauma), this inner picture looks more like Picasso in his Cubist period than a Renoir.  Children of Alcoholics (or Grandchildren, in my mother’s case) and Adult Children of Alcoholics are faced with incorporating a drunk, out of the control and perhaps abusive (or narcissistic) parent into there internalized working model.  …

Children of fairly regulated parents have the job of facing up to their parent’s faults, perhaps their tempers, or their shyness, weaknesses, or lack of success in the world.  These children have to somehow incorporate these deficits into the image of the parents they have internalised throughout their childhood…. the parents who seemed to have enchanted powers in a good night kiss, who made the best tasting food in the entire world , who lifted then up into the air and into a heaven of two filled with blue sky, love and warm caressing breezes.

Children need to make peace with their childhood wishes and their need to see their parents as all powerful and perfect, and move into a  more mature psychological state in which they can love their parents as they are warts and all.  There is a profound freedom in realising that a parent isn’t perfect, because we simultaneously incorporate the knowledge that we, too can lead a relatively happy life even without being perfect ourselves.

And just maybe this deep dive into some of the hidden subconscious patterns which I absorbed in the course of my own childhood, while understanding their resonances in terms of the history both of my parents carried with the legacy of the Sun Saturn Mercury has made the differentiation easier.  I can accept that which has impacted and been absorbed into my own psyche and the psyches of my sibliings, while at the same time gaining some distance and detachment from these patterns. I am coming to know, now the happiness Tian is speaking of in this excerpt.

Earlier today I read today’s daily meditation taken from Tian’s lovely reader : One Foot In Front of Another : Daily Affirmations for Recovery.

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Lesson and Life

I recognise that today I am in charge of my own learning.  Life is constantly offering up circumstances that are useful to in my personal growth, that I can use as my teacher.  It is up to me whether I learn from life, or live unconsciously.  When I live unconsciously, I do the same thing over and over expecting a different result; I repeat behaviours even when they obviously don’t work, exhausting myself and learning very little.  Or I learn.  I step back in my mind and ask myself what I need to see that I am not seeing, what I need to learn that I am not learning.  I extract the wisdom that is hidden behind circumstances, and I grow in awareness and expand my capacity for living.  The deepest and most appropriate things I need to learn in life are generally right in front of me.  Life is my guru if I can use it as such.  It is rich with subtle learning if I look for it.  The real achievement for me today is to learn to be in my own skin, to see truth in all that surrounds me, to know that placing value and judgement is pointless and illusory – all of life is valuable.

I see beyond what is apparent

The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are

many dark places.  But still there is much that is fair.

And though in all lands, love is now mingled with

grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater

J.J.R. Tolkien

I’m in two minds – changing perspectives on life, trauma and relationship

I started this blog over two weeks ago, when Mercury was retrograde but in true Mercury retrograde fashion it never got birthed.  While I was writing it,  it also morphed into something very different.  And now that Mercury is moving forward again I am posting it.

Well the Sun has passed out of the bi polar sign Gemini, but its ruler Mercury is travelling backwards through the latter degrees of that sign, and with my own Mercury natally, also retrograde I have been considering how my mood, perspective, attitude and feelings shift and change in response to changing conditions on different days and can polarise between dark and light.

That is interesting as we have just had the solstice and in the southern hemisphere the days are shorter and there is less light.  In my daily orientation I am also becoming more aware of the impact my own choices, conscious and unconscious, around how I spend my time are having.  I am also becoming more mindful of how my attitude in response to external factors impacts on my mood and emotions.  Hopefully its not all too controlled, however it is very much Mercurial this current experience I am having.

Maybe its due to having my Mercury placed out there in the house of opposition and relationship, the seventh, that I tend, when considering things, issues, events, experiences, people and my relationship to view them from a number of different angles, not always initially, but certainly over time. I tend to mull these things over and move them around like a prism to catch light and reflect it across a number of different shades of the spectrum.   This tendency is being called out of me during the challenging circumstances of the past few years.  But sometimes I wonder too, if I don’t just have a tendency to over think things.

Perhaps the significant placement of my North Node in the fiery sign of Leo and fiery first house of Aries is calling me to think more of myself and to act more spontaneously.

I moved back to my home town about three years ago following the end of an intense and volatile relationship in which my ways of thinking were continually challenged. At the time I met my partner I was still in a lot of emotional pain due to past events and the ending of my marriage.  He too had his own pain but also a very fixed black and white view about “the way things should be”.  He spoke a lot about “being on the same page”.  The trouble was that page was dictated a lot by past hurts and wounds of his Chiron Moon, that should never, at least to his way of thinking, have occurred.  Primarily the abandonment by his mother.

The sad fact was that my ex partners mother left what was an extremely abusive marriage.  Her leaving was an act of courage and bravery.  She endured a breakdown and was hospitalised for a time.  It was an extremely painful situation for my ex who was very, very young at the time.    The anger towards his mother and also towards his female older siblings simmered deeply throughout our relationship and often burst out, or was projected onto me or my sisters.  We had met as as Neptune was passing over his Saturn showing that our meeting was to some degree on course as a time of challenged vulnerability of his defences.

One of our earliest conflicts centred around this issue of vulnerability.  Having made a connection, my partner was anxious to pursue it, the problem being, at least to his mind, that I was in his words “too vulnerable”. Knowing what I know now this would be a red flag.  Knowing what I know now I would also call into question the idea that we can be “too” much of anything.

Those of you out there who have been accused of being “too sensitive” will know what I mean.  That evaluation or judgement naturally comes from someone who has their own idea and agenda of how much of a certain quality is deemed to be okay or not okay.

Sadly my self esteem during this relationship was in some level in my boots, or at least, this man who seemed to possess so much golden light, energy and assertiveness was presenting me with trapped or at the very least under expressed qualities of my own that I needed to develop a more complete relationship with.

I did not really realise until a long way out of this relationship that what I was really longing for, and had been longing for all of my life was deep understanding and empathy.   The problem was in this relationship I was seeking it from the wrong source, an external one and from someone who had a deep investment in looking at life in a different way.

This is not to say that I was right and he was wrong or vice versa.  Just that this conflict between us ended up creating more pain and frustration for both of us.

In fact, as I look back now, I see the point of many things this person would say to me while at the same time seeing that, at a time when my emotional pain and grief was actually seeking some kind of resolution, being involved in just such a relationship was going to prove more damaging.  The understanding I was longing for from him was just not possible and the path of pain out would be the price of finding a new way to heal.

I came out of this relationship questioning things deeply. Also deeply sad about the fact that a second relationship had failed, even though now, with the benefit of a number of years growth I see that both endings were inevitable and led me to a more deeply contented place within wherein I am more aware of myself and more in charge of my own life.

I guess this two mindedness that I referred to at the beginning of this blog is all about attitude and perspective  It seems to me the further I travel and unravel along this journey of life the more I am aware that there are so many different ways of thinking about and relating both to my inner self and to my outer world.  And so much of my contentedness depends in any day on the perspective or attitude I take towards things and the understandings and insights I gain, not only by thinking about things but through the experience of enduring them, making mistakes and learning lessons. In the light of this..

I had a challenging and upsetting  experience on the weekend. Its interesting as a few days before I wrote a blog about fear, about how important it has been for me to develop a relationship with and understand my fears.  One of the places of refuge and connection in my, at times very solitary life, is the dog park which is located in a beautiful little section of pine forest close to lake and gardens a short way from my home.  On most days my beautiful spaniel Jasper and I go there to socialise and play.  I had a really tough week last week.  I was in a lot of bodily pain, the weather was bitterly cold and foggy, it was heading towards the darkest time of year and we had some real peasouper fogs, there wasn’t much sun and I was finding it really hard to get moving.

Then on Saturday a lot of grief bubbled up, I was not aware of this deep underground river that may have struggling to burst forth.  I had a lump on my head, not from any injury but from a backlog of repressed feelings. I recently lost my sister and the deep sadness was really emerging on Saturday, weekends often are reminders that I am alone with not  whole heap of support.  It was late by the time we got to the park and the usual group of my friends weren’t there.  Little Jasper bounded in enthusiastically and full of fun as usual.  Within less than a few minutes a huge black dog barrelled out of nowhere and began to attack Jasper.  The owners were a long way off sitting on a bench.  Instinctively I grabbed the dogs collar from behind and lifted him off, shouting at the same time, which I guess was my fear response in over drive. The dogs owner, a young woman, rushed up.  “Let go of my dog” she said.

Luckily another man had arrived at the park just as Jasper and I arrived too.  “That dog is really too aggressive to be on the small dog side” he said,  “It needs to be on a lead”.  The woman looked at us arrogantly, with no apology, put her dog on the lead and marched off.  My gut was in spasm, my heart was racing.  The woman seemed really angry, acting as though I had been the one at fault.  Soon after she left the park. Things calmed down, Jasper was a little nervous in his movements for a while but he soon regained his equilibrium.

We spent an hour at the park and then headed towards the car.  Out of nowhere a young man came up beside the car and motioned for me to wind down the window.  “I want to know ask you a question” he said, aggressively and with a bullish look.  “Did you kicked my dog?”  I was confused and stunned.  He was not present at the park earlier so I did not make the connection to woman whose dog had been involved in the attack that had happened earlier.  “What do you mean?”  I asked.  “I would never kick an animal”.  “Are you sure?” he said eyeballing me threateningly.  “I am positive”.  I responded, feeling somewhat distabilised.  “Are you sure” he repeated,” that’s my girlfriend over there” he said, motioning towards a parked car “and she told me you kicked my dog.”

Somewhere inside part of me realised, I was frustrated, disturbed and sick to the stomach, there was nothing further I could do or say, yet still I appealed to him, trying to get some true understanding or empathy over what had actually passed, why wasn’t he believing me/  The truth of which he seemed oblivious, his dog savaged my dog, the most loving, sociable and gentle dog you could know, I reacted to protect my dog without hitting or hurting his dog, only holding him up by the collar.  This guy was a bully, plain and simple.

“I don’t think its fair that you are disbelieving me.  This is abuse.”  I said.   “Fuck off”.  Looking at me with a nasty look he said  “You better watch out, I have your registration number”.  I rolled up the window and drove away, a sickening feeling of grief, pain, fear and anguish churning away in my stomach.  But in my head were the thoughts.  Don’t let this guy get to you.  He is trying to make you scared.  It isn’t right that you now allow him to instil in you fear, panic and hurt.  Its okay to feel sad and scared, that’s natural.  Shed those tears for sure but don’t let his hurt lodge inside you and make you sick,  Don’t let the hurt you could generate over the unfairness of this add to the pain of behaviour and ideas that aren’t really real and don’t reflect the true reality.  You don’t go around abusing animals. You were just exposed to some pain and nastiness that needs to be let go.

I don’t know if you will understand but this event occurring as it did was like the coalescence of a host of issues I have dealt with in my life.  Being vulnerable to attack.  Getting in trouble for defending myself against such attacks from those who have cared very little for my feelings and being demonised for reacting.  Being the target of scapegoating and being unable to fight back due to my hands being tied in a number of different ways.  Living with the pain of hurts lodged deep inside due to the fact they could not be expressed or even validated and believed.

And in the end, needing to make sense of it all and let it go. I didn’t even run to anyone for any help on Saturday.  My past pattern may have been to call someone to talk out the trauma but I didn’t even do that.  In my mind I knew that my response to what happened was going to be the most important thing.  I didn’t need others validation of it because inside my self I knew the truth of what had happened and that I needed to make my own peace with it.

Dear old Japser rebounded from the trauma.  I had saved him from being hurt.

In the early hours of the morning, waking as I do with my usual disrupted sleep it occurred me that is experience had echoed the experience of having the car come in on me savagely, impacting my chest, breaking my bones, smashing my lung and tearing my flesh apart following its impact with a telegraph pole.  In that situation I was powerless.  In some way this experience with Jasper called up that imprint.

Peter Levine in his work on trauma tells us that the worst traumas occur when we cannot mobilise to get out of the situation.  In such a situation we stay stuck or paralysed in the death reflex response.  So was it for me following two accidents, but most especially the one in which I was trapped in the car.  This incident with Jasper was important for me, because I was able to act to protect the one I loved.  Not just stand by and watch it happen.

I must be honest and say how upsetting it was to me to be actually blamed for taking an action to protect.  But how often does it happen to those of us who develop PTSD responses to abuse or trauma? Traumas, and there have been at least eight major ones, starting with that accident at age 17 have shattered the continuity pattern of my life in many ways.  But enduring and having to live with traumatic imprints has also led me to understandings of things that may have not come without those traumatic events.  Most especially living with, attempting to heal from and make my peace with trauma  has taught me that where and when I can,  I must take action to mobilise in the face of trauma and abuse and not let the imprints of that abuse lodge too deeply within me.

I think for many years this may have been what my ex partner was trying to say to me.  I could not get it because I was still too frozen in pain and trauma.  And yet that is not totally true either for as Peter Levine writes, when we have suffered a trauma in which forward action is blocked or thwarted we can, for many years, remain in developmental arrest.  What is needed to free ourselves is to be able to experience the freeze state of paralysis in which we have faced off death and unpack that experience, getting over time to the point where we no longer remain trapped and frozen, but able to mobilise out of it, seeking a countering experience of vitality and aliveness which is the antidote to that death like paralysis.

The path out of that failed relationship led to suffering but in some way that suffering was the priced of a new found freedom much of which rests on my own understandings and perspectives which are themselves the result of the journey through the path of trauma.  Its not the path I would have chosen but its the one I have lived and now write about.