Setting Fire to the Soul

Don’t say a word

But just come over and lie here with me

Cause I’m just about to

Set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad

I go back on the things I believe

There I just said it

I’m scared you’ll forget about me.  

I fall in love with songs, not just the words but the entire soundscape wave melody undulating inward gripping soul engaging power of another’s emotional territory put into words which echoes my own experience, past or present.

I am deeply enthralled at the moment with this lyric and the soul of John Mayer’s song Edge of Desire, most especially the line “I want you so bad I go back on the things I believe”…..echoing a strong theme my tangled Venus square Neptune ruling Pisces in the 7th house of relationships.

Born into a much older family already well established when I arrived, by accident in the early 60s I learned to observe and orient myself around others but also felt a deep disconnect.  There were not many safe places to go, to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, to be nurtured, everyone was so busy working and my sister and I got left alone.  She took her frustrations out on me at times, probably feeling frustrated at having to look after her younger sister who was full of energy and fire.  I had a wild, expressive streak.

Anyway this theme of confusion and pain in relationships, of trying to connect and yet not quiet being able to manage it, of bringing to relationships a powerful backlog of unexpressed needs, difficulties and issues was highlighted yesterday when I caught up with a very old friend.

Quite a long time ago the man she loved chose not to follow her when she decided to return to her home town.  They had both been living and working away and the relationship had hit problems, he was shutting down, not communicating and the tensions between their two very different ways of being introverted (him) and extroverted (her) were beginning to develop a void too dark to cross. I think also from what I can gather her partner had suffered, was suffering depression, or was it just a deep introversion?

Initially he said he wouldn’t make the move but later he changed his mind, just after she got used to the idea that she would be facing a move and a new life alone.  Turns out a few months later he changed his mind and said he would be taking a job in a far away town instead of moving to be with her, but could he keep calling her every Tuesday? Needless to say she drew a boundary saying it was over, angry at being messed around and deeply confused by his behaviour.

Whenever she would relate this story to me in the past, I empathised with her but I also empathised with her partner and his need for introversion, whilst feeling how frustrating it was for her.  Her needs were obviously different and she did not know how to meet him in his dark spaces.  I have had a similar experience in being depressed (deeply introverted) with a partner who did not want to understand, called me agoraphobic and was hostile towards sadness, confusion and pain.

Fast forward to 12 years later after much confusion and heartbreak a mutual friend who introduced them had a stroke and my friend knew her past lover may be unlikely to find out in any other way. Through another mutual friend she got in touch to let him know.  He asked to meet her for a coffee. What followed was a dramatic outpouring of grief and regret on his behalf as well as declarations of all the plans he had lately been making (unbeknownst to her) centred around being with her. Although they had been apart for over 12 years she had been constantly in his mind.  This was confusing to her.  How could he now profess all this, her idea of what was reality for him, was not hers?  Although I know she had been secretly hoping for this for many years.

Additionally he revealed that over the past few years he had been prospecting and he laid out before her some jewels to select he wanted to get made into jewellery for her.  At this point I started crying.  It all struck me as so very human and deeply sad, the tangled vagaries of the human heart. All the fears, tears, confusion and defences dismantling.  Tangled hopes, dreams, disappointment, frustration and thwarted desire thrown into the mix.

The telling of the entire story went for well over 40 minutes and I while it was going on I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. It was not only the emergence of the buried emotion that he had not allowed to express before that resonated for me but also the deep confusion she was experiencing in the face of long ago given up hopes being re-awakened and questions around his state of emotional health.

My friend is currently in a really secure and relatively happy position, but the return of this person to her life has now upset the apple cart.  Which way should she turn?  Should she hold out hope?  Could he be trusted?  So many questions and underneath it all a tender heart.

Her dilemma really got me to thinking about my own push pull dynamics in relationships in the past, push pulls dynamics evoked by extreme outbursts of emotion on both sides and in response too to lack of empathy shown at critical times by past partners.

In my own life the prospect of hoping to be loved again has at times opened up deep, powerful and complex emotions, emotions that would flood the landscape often triggered by some perceived abandonment or lack of attention or misunderstanding, emotions that were difficult to regulate and articulate.  These would cause confusion for others and sometimes the severing of ties.  I have also been on the receiving end of the same.

At many times in my life I have been exiled or made to feel bad for expressing very real, raw human emotion.  As a person who developed addictions as a way of coping with a lack of emotional understanding and support, it took a long time in sobriety to sort out all that had been  suppressed and so lay unmatured deep within my psyche.  Only relationship could bring those wounds to the surface in order to feel, to heal, to become aware and to grow.

Over the past few years I have begun to realise how difficult and confusing my own emotions and those of others in response have been especially where there is minimal awareness of the history of past pain carried.  I carried a huge backlog of emotions and then 7 years ago I entered into a relationship with someone who was carrying a huge backlog of their own.  Sadly they were invested in not exploring any pain, only projecting it, so I was made to carry the burden of being the one “with the problem”.  The realisation of all of this has made me very wary of relationships.  The fact is I have opened my heart and been bruised again, but the bruising had a gift and lesson within it.  It was the fuel for understanding.

After having lunch with my friend today and contemplating the echoes and synchronicities I went to visit my Mum. Despite all challenges we have had over years I am still in a process of trying to meet, engage with my Mum and find some understanding.  Over the past few months it seems Mum has had an interest in reaching out and exploring the hurts between us. I have been taking the risk of opening up about hurts and we have been talking about past issues : anger, frustration, thwarted need, miscommunication and difficulty with empathy.

Today she opened up to me about the impact my addiction had upon her in the years following my father’s death when I was 23. At this stage I was yet to find sobriety and I had a back ground of much emotional hurt, betrayal and abandonment.

Some of the background which I have shared about here online in the past was that at 23 I was already struggling in a pretty dysfunctional relationship in which I had fallen pregnant twice, two pregnancies which I had decided to terminate due to the fact that my then partner had addiction issues and I was aware the ground that I was standing on was precarious, unstable and could easily give way, no where enough support to bring in another life dependent on us.

As more background my then partner had been in love deeply before meeting me and his past girlfriend left him as her parents did not think he was good enough….according to them he came from the wrong side of the tracks. (And he was a fairly frequent dope smoker.)

Throughout the relationship I was aware things were off but I didn’t have the strong sense of self that would allow me to leave, the emotional vacancy of my own childhood had left me vulnerable, emotionally illiterate and oh so hungry.

My ex ended up abandoning me twice.  We had made plans to travel overseas.  I had been working two jobs for a year to save the money.  He left before me.  I was to meet him.  Around this time my father was diagnosed with operable stomach cancer.  He died within two months. I had to delay my departure.  A few days after his death I received a 4 am phone call.  It was my boyfriend.   “I don’t love you, please don’t come,” he said,  “I’ve met someone else”.

I was devastated.   Part of me broken.  I did not feel prepared to make a trip which now had to be altered.  I would be alone.  I faltered as I packed my bags crying.  “You must go”, Mum said.  “Dad would not have wanted you to change your plans.”  And so I went and found comfort in a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

I spent some months in London, living and working.  Later in 1985 in Greece while changing money at the American Express office I saw my ex again.  He drew me in (or my fear of being alone did?).  I allowed the hope of being together again.  I opened up the door to my heart and slept with him turning my back on the truth of past patterns that showed so clearly he did not love me.  My own lack of self love and understanding hooked me in again..  Only a few weeks later after meeting with the friend I met today by accident in Greece we both went out to dinner, he did not come.  Later that night when I returned to our room I found him fucking a girl he had met that night (or was it the woman he had thrown me over for who suddenly reappeared out of nowhere that night? I was so traumatised I don’t remember).

I only remember the pain of him calling me a crazy bitch for having an angry emotional reaction to his callous treatment of me. But I was the fool, hungry and lonely enough to be with him, burying the knowledge of his treatment of me over years and all the hurts.

Following this for the next 6 months I was spinning all around over there in Europe, no stable base, travelling, drinking, working.  I found a job in Switzerland in 1986 and while there I fell pregnant to a man I adored on the first anniversary of my father’s death, but he was also in love with someone else.  I had the termination I spoke of in an earlier blog.

I remember Mum calling me in the midst of this and telling me to come home.  We have been discussing this today. She sensed something was up but I could not open up to my Mum, just buried it all for the next eight years.  She had confronted me and shamed me following my father’s death when after reading my journal she found out about the two earlier terminations, so  why would I have trusted her with this information.

All these memories are so strong at present as the Sun is passing through the deep emotional territory of Cancer, inching close to my Mum’s Pluto in Cancere which trines my Neptune in Scorpio (as transiting Neptune has turned retrograde in exact opposition to my own natal Pluto in the first).

At times I have felt that my mother did not care.  I have been so angry at having no place to go and angrier still that the angry outbursts were misunderstood. Today I know she cared but it was not expressed in a way I could make sense of. While she was trying to draw me close, I was pushing her away with anger and rage at not being responded to in the way that I needed.

According to her, my anger scared the living daylights out of her.  She could not feel through it to the deep longing for love that underlay those fits of passionate anger the hurt, wounded, tend, vulnerable underbelly of my Saturn Mars Moon. So many times I needed the loving arms of my Mum wrapped around me, but all the trauma in our family that went down from the age of 18 meant that attention energy and care was directed elsewhere.

I witnessed my eldest sister being discarded by her own husband and then trying to take her life. Lots of drugs and alcohol to try and numb the pain and then a few years later my father’s shock diagnosis with terminal cancer and his death six weeks later. So much trauma, no time to process it, to feel it through.

After my father died my Mum’s grief over her own loss was so all consuming it blinded her to the pain her youngest daughter was going through. Yes I turned up hung over reeking of alcohol after an all night  bender after returning from overseas in 1987. I spent 6 more agony years in the wilderness of addiction before finding enough self love to reach for sobriety.

Mum said today she felt she could not reach me, she did not know what to do.  I understand : we struggled to reach each other in the way we both needed and wanted.  I had withdrawn from her in self protection due to times of hurt when her concern was felt as an invasion, taking place in secret behind my back, reading my personal journals and poems and making hurtful comments or at least comments that showed a lack of understanding.

All this hurt that I have held deep inside is like a tangled knot of Gordian proportions and my pain expressed evokes not only my mother’s own pain but also her own wound her deep feelings of  inadequacy in knowing deep down the way she handled things was ineffective, left me bleeding more, vulnerable to more toxic relationships but could not be better due to her  own history.  Tears and hugs between us today signal a melting of old defences, a reaching across a deep chasm filled with pain, loss and trauma.

When my friend was telling me today about her lover’s tears and al the precious jewels laid out I found myself crying. I felt the pain he must have experienced somewhere that made him withdraw or to hold back and sabotage his chance of connection as well as the pain of loving but not being able to express it in a way it could be understood due to being held prisioner by depression which can create huge barriers and walls between people.

I thought of the times I hurt my past love by not being there to be supportive due to the fact that things he was going through evoked my own pain from past things that had never been fully processed, pain which then expressed by me brought anger and misjudgement and even the silent treatment from him.  Emotional cut off for days.

I question my own narcissism and self involvement due to the fact of having carried pain and I recognise the pain of my friend as the pain of past partners who felt alone when I was captured by deep pain of past hurts I was trying to feel, understand and heal..

Today I have a sense of the healing balm of Neptune being poured on the deep soul searing pain of that Pluto in the first of mine that forms and opposition to Chiron in the seventh house (so much early wounding in relationships) carried on and held deep inside as both touch that sore spot Mars Saturn Moon.

Such is my legacy of Mars Saturn Moon : the deep dark pain that is a bitter fruit that has healing hidden only in the recognition deep within my soul of what was its genesis : this being my ancestral karma/dharma: a life path not chosen (or was it?) that administers to my soul the necessary medicine that in hurting grows consciousness and wisdom through pain.

I think of the words of astrologer Liz Greene for Saturn Pluto(my Mars/Saturn/Moon aspects Pluto)

Wisdom through suffering…..Purification through the ordeal by fire. 

I have burned, awake at 4 am with seering nerve burn pain of post traumatic stress due to accidents I had while running to find healing.  And it seems to me that the fire that John Mayer wants to set alight in his song is the fire that he must know inwardly burns when we long for that which in hurting us most at the same time heals.  It seems to be that true soul knowing burns and in so doing reminds us of love, of what is most true, most essential to our soul.  For there is love at the heart of the flames and it takes love to suffer the burning, the burning that transforms ash to tarnished gold and purifies our spirit through anger, through longing, through frustration and even through despair.  To keep our heart open in midst of the flames that is the task so wisdom and love can grow through the pain, through the burning.

And yet the burning must also one day surely end and then is our initiation done?  We will have garnered the necessary wisdom to step aside from that which in burning hurts us.  It seems so much self knowledge is necessary for this to happen for those of us who have been raised in Neptunian confusion, where what hurts us is portrayed as something else, maybe even something we brought upon ourselves.  Until we are conscious we will not see our part in it, since it was due to earlier patterns laid down that only suffering could make us aware of, that suffering births within us compassion not only for our own pain but for the deeply unconscious pain of others, pain they did not have the strength and courage to face.

Lessons from Saturn : Along the Road to Empowerment

I am seeking some healing, I am seeking self empowerment I am also seeking self definition. At the same time I am seeking liberation from wounding experiences  of the past that have held me in locked in pain which repeats. I am seeking a way to embrace and understand what I went through as at one time being out of my own power at the time due to my level of awareness at that time.  Pain has been the teacher that has taught me the lessons about all this and raised my level of awareness.

A few weeks ago I was reading a blog which I won’t identify out of respect in which the author has a rant :  “you are not a victim”, urging people to take control of their lives and power.  The problem I had with it is, that we cannot recover from the victim mythology until we understand that at one time we were a victim of others who had an investment in hurting us or keeping us small.

Just prior to reading this I had followed a link to a piece of writing from the Energetic Institute in Western Australia in which the author speaks about the  “New Age” tendency to deny that we are actually victims of other people who hurt us. Implied in a lot of New Age philosophy is the idea that you chose it or brought it on yourself. This idea is debunked in the article I read.  I quote :

Another key form of manipulation is the New Age perversion of the concept of there being no evil and no such thing as a victim. In this contrived reality there is nothing outside you that can be blamed for your circumstance, for that makes you a victim, and victims are powerless. The New Age theme is to take back your power by putting the cause of the problem back inside you in every instance and every case.

This logic to me needs a boundary between the truth of unconscious dynamics that we recreate in our lives which may keep us powerless and victims, and the true evil of outside premeditated intent and action against oneself by another.

Scott Peck and Elsa Ronningstam both warn of this fallacy of removing a perpetrator or abuser from their accountability, and instead taking on the issue as one’s karma or self generated issue. They note this being a limited truth not applicable to all dynamics or situations.They note that Narcissists and “people of the lie” are adept at creating justifications and psychologies that allow the leader to abuse the follower, then to doubly abuse them by telling them to stop being victims and see the deeper dynamic which is of their own darkness, lower self or some other origin.

The truth is we are at times victims of people who have an investment in denying and covering up what they have done. They are not capable of the level of introspection and honesty which would enable them to see into their own dark side. We all have a dark side and some of us are willing to face it. Abusers, especially emotional abusers, just are not.

Once we wise up to the truth that we suffered abuse (and emotional abuse can be very subtle to the degree it is denied by the abuser who then manipulates us in many subtle and underhand ways) only then do we have the possibility of making a choice to say “No” categorically and walk away.

This can take courage and strength especially if you have been bonded so tightly to an abuser due to isolation and suffer from trauma bonding.   Trauma bonding leads to us being isolated from other sources of support that would validate us and emotional abusers will invalidate those forms of support which we turn to in order to gain freedom.

This was certainly my experience. When I began to really hit into deep issues in my first therapy my therapy was actively disparaged by both my husband and my mother, both of whom had an investment in not looking into their own souls. I wish at the time this was occurring I had the courage to be stronger, but part of my questioned how people who purported to be loving could be subtly hurting me by denying support and questioning my interpretation of events, leading me to become very confused and to ask the question. “Have I got it wrong?”

I am now aware, as I was not then that there were big issues in our family around lack of honest confrontation and boundaries.  Boundaries could be invaded at any time and if you protested you were ridiculed.  Hurtful behaviour was never challenged. I was not protected and learned to believe that I was powerless.

One parent who was acting abusively was not held accountable by the other parent whose survival strategy was just check out and laugh it off. I was also subjected to abuse by a sister due the fact that my mother was absent at critical times. We came home to an empty house each afternoon and had to fend for ourselves.   It was confusing and lonely childhood. At times certain needs were met, but the message I got was that I just was not worth my parent’s time and attention.

A therapist has recently given this term to what I suffered: “benign neglect.” In the absence of care, support, understanding and comfort I learned to turn to substances. I also learned due to my mother and sister’s behaviour that attachment and connection was unpredictable and at times down right scary. My way of coping was to turn myself inside out, to anticipate that which would please and not anger them and to stuff the anger and the hurt deep inside. If and when I let it out I was led to believe I was a “bad” child and sideline, ostracised or sent to my room.

As recently as 10 years ago my sister said to me when I confronted her on her aggressive behaviour which sparked me to push her and call her a fairly strong name “you were such a selfish,  naughty child, always throwing tantrums.”…. Mmm. Tantrums are often a cry for attention but most especially speak to me of needs for care and boundaries in the process of growing up and negotiating relationships.

At the start of this blog I wrote about seeking self definition. As a writer with a strong interest in astrology I was thinking very strongly today of the planet Saturn. I have Saturn on my Moon and that placement speaks of conditions around me which led me to develop a sense of emotional resilience out of necessity, but it also speaks of defences and prohibitions against feeling the fully conscious, true response to deprivation of emotional needs.  It also speaks of outside forces of repression or limitation being imposed which locked feelings deep inside.

There is this theme of emotional repression and escape into an aggressive stance as a defence, running along my mothers ancestral side which spans critical events of abuse going back four generations.  So on some level it speaks of family karma, not in the sense of something New Age and etheric but as a result of sins of omission going back across generations as a result of the interface of individual and collective forces (Saturn).

Over the next week Saturn in Sagittarius beginning to slow at 4 degrees of Sagittarius prior to turning retrograde on 14 March. This transit sextiles my Mars Saturn Moon and square my Chiron in Pisces in the seventh house opposite Pluto in the first.

For me issues of anger, self definition, assertion, psychological defences and boundaries have been highlighted. I have been unearthing in counselling repressed anger which I could neither express effectively or resolve before.

Over the past 14 years of struggling after aborting an intensive therapy and seeking to separate from maternal, family and ancestral issues by travelling to the UK and starting therapy there (at that time transiting Saturn was in the opposition zone to where it is now) I have suffered from symptoms of spinning and feeling as though I am in the midst of birth process that at times gets stuck. I have felt myself pushing to be born fully against great forces of resistance.

Over the past year or so I have been unearthing intense feelings inside and complex issues have been triggered for female relatives which echo themes of enmeshment, separation and individuation.

Astrologer Erin Sullivan equates the transit of Saturn over the cusp of the fourth house with an atonement with our unique family fate, a growth in awareness of its impact on us personally and a process of separation from the fate. That certainly feels true for me. Last month I was able to make a connection with descendants from my mother’s side and learn more about the family history.

At times I have felt that the Saturn Moon Mars placement is a heavy cross to bear.  And yet lately I am feeling that even all the really painful and lonely experiences of neglectful or abortive mothering have been some kind of wake up call.  In many ways the females in my family have all be trapped in patterns and themes that played out unconsciously.  Saturn is now demanding consciousness. Astrology gives me the signposts for deep soul processes that have much more do with me than just purely personal issues. What I am working on is in some way linked to deep ancestral issues.

Over the past two weeks conditions of intense pain, illness, accident and suffering in my female relatives (which are occurring as Saturn makes powerful conjunctions and squares to Mars, Sun and Venus in their charts) are challenging me to step back and centre within.  My Neptune squares can unconsciously lead me to play saviour for something that is way beyond my power to control.  In the end I can only save myself.

For now its feeling quite comforting to recognise the necessity to stand alone for a time in order to gain deeper insight into what I can and cannot change. It is an important step for me to allow myself to honour my anger, whilst not acting it out, using it instead to demarcate healthy boundaries around what I can and cannot let in.  The more in touch I am with my anger the greater my capacity to love, once the anger is processed (outside of the family) and released.

Recently there was an incident when I had to confront my Mum lovingly and not back down when subtle tactics were used to try and get me to feel once again like the “naughty, bad one” for speaking up. I had to wear again the sting of rejection from the “circle of trust” and bear that pain whilst going through all the old guilt inducing messages.

Melodie Beatty who has written several books on recovery from codependence calls this “after burn” : a necessary stage in the process of regaining self esteem and healthy boundaries within deeply enmeshed relationships.

It is interesting to bear in mind the current transit of Mars in Aries as it moves toward Uranus the planet of individualisation and emotional freedom whilst squaring and challenging transiting Pluto in Capricorn, the entrenched and deeply ingrained legacy of painful secrets, toxic feelings, hurt, and buried emotions that are intense and difficult : anger, grief, guilt, fear, resistance and resentment.

It seems to me lately (in line with the transit of both Uranus and Mars in my eighth house ruled by Aries) that the entire history of my own hurt and frustration in critical relationships over the past 50 years has been triggered.

Last week the Sun in Pisces transited over Chiron there. I read the following and most certainly experienced it last week :

Sun conjunct Chiron in Pisces –

Sun conjunct Chiron in Pisces – On a sleepy Sunday, turn your attention to yourself. Tend to your wounds, your pain, those old hurts that bubble up sometimes. Love yourself back to life. Forgive yourself for reacting, for rejecting, for telling yourself that you should be better than this. You don’t need to be fixed. You aren’t broken – even if you feel you are. Let go of mistakes. You are fallible. It happens. Let It Go!

Source Lua Astrology Facebook Page.

For me the letting go comes once I have absorbed the lesson fully.

Carl Jung once said, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain;” one of these being the potential pain of letting go of attachments to people, places and things that no longer resonate with us. Once we’ve seen the Light, there is no turning back to our former life in the same way. We are now entering into Spring (Fall) Eclipse season. Another good axiom comes to mind, “Let go or be dragged.”

Namaste Starshines

In the midst of undergoing my own painful melt down last week I came across an excellent article on Owning Your Own Power.  I read the following:

Many co-dependents have never learned to be assertive or how to problem-solve. They’re unable to know and assert their wants and needs or make decisions, often even for themselves. They relinquish control over themselves and often defer to others or don’t act at all. Assertiveness is empowering, but requires a foundation of autonomy and self-esteem, both difficult for co-dependents. However, assertiveness can be learned, and doing so builds self-esteem.

As I reflect these words relate to both a strong Saturn and Mars force within transformed in their power to protect, empower and helps us express our True Self. Saturn transits to personal planets and transpersonal drive certain critical lessons home. Self definition, self assertion – it’s a difficult journey for some of us. Its a matter of trust.

In my own case I lost trust in myself as I was not validated.  It has been a long road to understand how neglect and lack of validation kept me in prison for many years, literally tied in knots.  For me, freedom has only come through being able to own and honour the anger I have felt, difficult as it has been for people around me.  Anger is a response to hurt and invalidation, when that hurt is deliberate and when others have an investment in not honouring us or in passing on or projecting old unconscious hurt within themselves.

Anger gives me the energy to set boundaries, to confront, rather than deny what hurt.  Clean anger resolves itself.  It lets go once the lesson is absorbed and helps me to be protected from and recognise invalidation when it occurs.   I now know that my ability to have the power to be strong and achieve a happy life rests on my ability to trust in my feelings and use them to gain wisdom of what is needed by me to do at that time.  This for me these are some of  the critical lessons of a healthy Saturn and Mars.

Connecting through the healing power of blogging

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I’d like to think I am impervious to the approval of others, but I must admit my heart skipped a few beats and I did an inward dance of joy when four likes came through on three separate posts I wrote over the last few days. I’m not even sure it’s the approval I am looking for, more it is the indication that something I wrote has touched someone, resonated with someone, and that on some level I have connected.

I remember the first time I really felt I could be me, naked and honest, express some dark truths in my heart and be met, not with condemnation and blank stares, but with acceptance and understanding. It was in an AA meeting, nearly 21 years ago.   Other people had stood up and shared things I felt inside and this gave me the freedom and incentive to be able to expose myself.   It was really scary at the time, but one of the best things I have ever done.

At the same time, I see now that I could easily have embraced an identity of shame rather than understand it as a symptom of things that happened to me in trying to express myself coming out of emotional dysfunction. I was really just human, with very real wounds, weaknesses and strengths.

I shared in an earlier post on shame, about how riddled with shame I was by the time I was an adolescent. And also how being from a Catholic background I had the sinking feeling I wasn’t living up to certain standards. I had fairly emotionally barren childhood, and the one person who I really connected with was my eldest sister who died this year. Due to the age difference she was a surrogate mother to me for the most early formative years.  My Mum was working at that time and not emotionally available.  My sister understood me in a way my own mother did not, but sadly she married and left the country when I was three. In later years her influence was not a healthy one, she had her own struggles with shame and addiction and ended up permanently disabled.  My sister had a very strong spirit and for a girl growing up in the fifties and sixties.  It wasn’t easy for her to live her full light and power, so it got subverted. However, even in her later life, long after her health had failed, when she was in the care home, I still felt I had a place of refuge and being seen with her, but still only to a point.  She too had been wounded emotionally and suffered a kind of exile in our family.

It was always challenging when I cried, especially being an empath and feeling or resonating with her pain,  My sister was a pretty tough Capricorn with the Sun and Moon there and her Mars in Cancer which was the deep feeling side was squashed by Saturn, so tears were not always welcome.  Sometimes tears were acceptable, but at other times I got a slap on the wrist. My sister struggled with bi polar illness, psychotic episodes followed a brain injury but the brain injury was a result of alcohol abuse and over work.  In a way the light and fire and passion of her spirit met with many difficulties and losses – these cause her to feel trapped and in pain and powerless, all Saturn Mars issues.  Her own struggle with accepting and expressing feelings projected onto me, was her struggle, not really personal to me.

My sister lives in my heart every day, and it may sound strange to say that while I miss her, I am not truly sad that she has gone as I feel her living on and that the painful journey she had to travel has just reached a different stage. I also feel it was necessary for her to go as her spirit was too confined in the life she had, with little way out.

I am very aware of her spirit and of my dead father’s too, at the moment. I recently read a story of a woman, Anita Moorjani, who had a near death experience following a battle with lymphoma.  In passing to the other side she met with a great source of unconditional love and acceptance and met her dead relatives. She had the choice to return and understand all the conditions that led to her developing cancer. Basically the truth she realised was that due to the condition of an Indian culture she never felt acceptable and loved as a woman and developed the belief that she had to try so hard to win approval in order to be loved. Her passing to a point of great awareness also enabled her to see the imprisoning and damaging effect of beliefs, not only in her own life but in our collective lives.

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Listening to her story on audio helped me to come to so much peace about my sister’s death. Maybe the same spirit born into a later time or culture or family would not have suffered as much.  As an astrologer I see there is a place where the personal interconnects with the collective impersonal energies around us to affect lives and personal journeys in so many different ways. I am very conscious of this at present as on Saturday my mother turns 90 and a lot of us are gathering to celebrate. I am conscious of the ancestral component of my Mum’s life, of the time she was born into, of her limitations and strengths and of how her journey lived on in her children of which I am the youngest and of how we, too, were impacted by the beliefs of Catholicism and the effects of two world wars.  It strikes me now in editing this that there is a strong Plutonian theme to this and we are in the Pluto ruled Scorpio time of year, but Saturn the planet of shame is also related.  Mum has Saturn in Scorpio.

My mother lost her father at age 7 and that impact had a huge effect, not only on her life, but on ours too. After writing a blog about shame the other day, I have been considering the impact of shame in my mother’s own life. As a single parent in the depression left alone with no war pension my grandmother had to work and leave my mother alone to fend for herself for long periods.  She drove my mother hard too, in terms of making her clean and keep things together. Mum once said to me that I was a later developer, the truth was she had to grow up too young and shoulder adult responsibilities as a child. My mother was not nurtured, she never learned to nurture and expressions of need fell on deaf ears.

The shaming my mother experienced at the hands of abusive nuns, their lack of empathetic treatment of a child who had lost her father and so didn’t do her homework and played hooky from school has had an impact on her to this day. Sometimes I forget my Mum didn’t grow up with the advantages I had but her emotional lack of nurturing and shame was passed onto me my two sisters in different ways.

I was thinking last night when I got into bed how shame and perfectionism are inter connected.   Perfectionism is the antidote we try to apply to deal with our shame, but it ends up creating more shame for we can’t live up to ideals as a defence against shame without creating more misery for ourselves. At some level I feel these issues are endemic to our culture. Where one religion or group feel they have the rule book on what is right and wrong and others are damned it makes it possible to see others not as humans but as objects. Those who are not good or perfect enough, who don’t live by the right ideals, just deserve the worst hardship that can befall them. Certain people then, can act in shameless ways, without ever allowing their heart to be touched by the heart of another who exists beyond the artificial divide their beliefs set up.

The song Belief by John Mayer expresses these truths:

Belief is a beautiful armour,

But makes for heaviest sword,

Like punching under water,

You never can see who you’re trying for.

Some need the exhibition

And some have to know they’ve tried

It’s the chemical weapon

For the war that’s raging on inside

The Sufi poet Rumi says : out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field, I will meet you there. I want to live in that field. I can see in my own life where I have set up divides against right and wrong and have felt that those I saw to be doing wrong deserved some kind of punishment, so John Mayer’s words have applied to me too.  I wonder if some of this comes from my Catholic upbringing, or its just a human trait – that we tend to split and polarise.

At the same time I feel that to be able to own anger at boundary violations of others, is an important step in reclaiming esteem and personal power and energy that is lost in shame, especially where we are shamed by the shameless or those who just don’t have any insight into deeper emotional realities. Having been on the receiving end of this in my life I know how it stings. One is then exiled and doesn’t really have much of a place to go. Addiction is such a place as substances such as alcohol and drugs can, for a time, numb the emotional pain of a wound that one is not permitted to feel. It’s a painful dilemma. We then wind up in recovery and can share with others about the shame, but we must be very aware that in exposing our vulnerable underbelly we are not shamed yet again, for I think as addicts we can easily take on the shadow projections of others.

The truth is we did what we needed to try and survive hostility and in environments, which lacking empathy taught us to unconsciously turn against ourselves and retreat smarting. According to Kim Saeed who helps people deal with the damage of co-dependence that leads us to painful relationships:

The problem arises in where co-dependency can often be expressed through the relationships they develop with other people because they are hypersensitive to hostility and prefer to avoid conflict. Their natural ability to want to keep the peace and make their partners pleased can easily be manipulated by those who are prone toward anger and aggression.

Until we find the loving place of wisdom and acceptance deep within, we are doomed to wander lost.  Lacking the boundaries and courage to stand up against what hurts we allow ourselves to be wounded again. So we do need to believe in ourselves and our power to be stronger than shame.

I shared yesterday about my dog Jasper getting hurt on Sunday.   I think it was a bull ant sting. He yelped in pain (a natural response to pain), then limped home, retreated to the garage licked his paw and then went to sleep, a few hours later he was fine (regardless of my worrying, I was able to leave him and give him some alone time to rest and heal).

I love the fact that animals just know what to do instinctively. I think about this on a metaphorical level having spent years in retreat licking wounds and stings and trying to find a way to come back to healing and the centre of myself.  Many times a period of retreat and rest is needed when we are undergoing radical change and addressing our wounds.  . Not only that, I know why this injury hit me so deeply on Sunday,  having suffered really bad injuries myself, seeing others injured or hurt really triggers my own imprints of pain.

I feel in some way even this blog has been a way for me of licking invisible wounds, of sharing and then coming back to centre.  As I move towards its first anniversary in a few month’s time I am so grateful for the chain of experience that led me to WordPress, for me it is an avenue for expression and a beautiful resource of sharing and resonance in which I have found such comfort from other souls. For today I will let this gratitude flow over me as I move out into the windy day.

It gave me such a warm feeling to receive those four likes on my posts, and I think that makes me human. Truth is, my heart is warmed when I am connected, having gone through many years of disconnection, that warmth is a lovely feeling. So thank you to those who have read, shared, liked and followed.

Frustrations, delays: Mars retrograde

Mars attacks and comes to a night sky near you this month, and the folks at the Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh are bringing it to you live and in color. Unlike most planets, “Mars viewing season” comes around only once about every two years. And while Mars is shining bright in the sky right now, the “official” event of Mars being closest to Earth happens next week on April 8th, when the Red Planet reaches opposition and shines at magnitude -1.5 in the constellation Virgo.

http://www.universetoday.com

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Is anyone else out there feeling the full force of their Mars issues currently coming to a head?

While Mars transits in retrograde motion, an event that only occurs once every two years, we get a chance to come to awareness about the way our Mars energy functions in our lives, that is awareness around how we express and assert ourselves, how well we understand and act on our needs, how we deal with conflict and challenges and how we act in the face of not getting what we want (the last bit possibly highlighted in even greater depth at the moment as transiting Mars backtracks into a square with transiting Pluto, the planet of transformation and letting go, )

Awareness around Mars issues may occur as blockages, frustrations or delays, while Mars is retrograde, forcing us to introspection and the sense of frustration and delay may be even stronger for people like me who have challenging Mars aspect to deal with (Mars conjunct Saturn).  I certainly experienced a lot of frustrations and blocks on my energy over the past two days as the Sun came to oppose Mars since Mars retrograde amps up the awareness of how our own Mars functions or is blocked.

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The critical time when Mars retrograde issues come most strongly into focus is around the time that the Sun opposes Mars, part way through the retrograde cycle.  That opposition occurred a few days ago on 8th of April and I have just noticed that at this time Mars draws closer to the earth and is more visible metaphorically expressing our own increased awareness around Mars issues.

We are currently in the waxing quarter moon phase of the astrological cycle leading towards the full moon which will mark the first full moon or lunar eclipse in an eclipse cycle in the signs Aries (ruled by Mars) and Libra (ruled by its polar opposite Venus).  Eclipses occur when New and Full Moons occur around the South and North Nodes respectively.  They occur twice within a year, approximately six months apart and tend to be times of dramatic endings and new beginnings, times also when critical issues surrounding the signs come to the fore and demand some kind of change or growth in awareness.

The fact that Mars and Venus rule Aries and Libra respectively, that the Nodes are passing through these signs and that Mars is currently retrograde and heading towards opposition with the Sun shows that issues surrounding our own personal identity and use of power, agency and action as well as our need for independence and self sufficiency and self agency will be challenged and balanced by competing Venus/Libra needs: respect for and an awareness of others and their needs, the important part that relationships play in our lives, how and why and which what kind of dynamics are we engaging with others for co-operative purpose and how can we balance these two, at times challenging concerns.  Issues around projection of emotions in relationship will also come to the fore.

When placed in the sign of Libra as Mars is now, Mars the planet of action and dynamism is said to be in its fall, that is its assertive energy is dampened down somewhat by the needs of relationship. This might be a time when it is not as easy to be selfish or to go for exactly what we want as there may be circumstances in which a crucial relationship is demanding our time and energy, or at least some form of compromise.  Not only that but I have noticed during the past few days, accidents and delays occurring to others with whom I am in relationship, impacting upon and affecting my own ability to take action and move forward.

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Yesterday a plumber was due to arrive to repair the second of two major water leaks and was delayed by two accidents, when he arrived the necessary tools were not available as they were in the van of his partner who was on holiday.   After he left, unable to correct the problem I went to the car to take Jasper to the park and my battery was flat.  I must be honest here and say my own Mars in Saturn has never dealt very well with delays and frustrations.  I tend to assume the worst at times and can amp up the charge around minor events working myself into a kind of frenzy (Pluto inconjuncts these two in my chart), this probably comes from times in the past, especially when young, when my need to take action was thwarted, crucial Saturn Mars issues and with the Moon also thrown into the mix emotional volatility can be the result.

It was a curious Mars retrograde phenomena that I noted yesterday, the challenges and delays only started to upset me for a time, after a few moments I was able to use positive self talk to calm my worries and anxieties down and divert my attention into other happier tasks.   I noticed all the negative self taik.. a flat battery was now a reason I needed to sell my car.. completely unnecessary but something my mother would often say.  Using the advantage of Mars retrograde (inward turned attention to critical issues surrounding action and movement) I see could see the negative self talk for what it was, not calm and peaceful wisdom centred in truth but a dose of negativity bred out of frustration and fear.

Following the flat battery incident I was told by the mechanic to drive the car for 40 minutes and as a result had a beautiful drive out towards the nature reserve on the outskirts of where I live in Canberra and explored some amazing county that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years.  If I had not had the flat battery, Jasper and I would not have had that lovely drive.  We got to the park late and had a very long conversation with a good friend and the rest of my day, though delayed went calmly and well,

Yet again this morning the plumber has been delayed by another accident and Jasper and I have been hamstrung at home unable to leave the house for our normal exercise..this blog is happening due to the fact we are both stuck unable to leave.  The plumber has just shown me a corroded piece of pipe with a hole not much bigger than two needle heads in diameter which was the source of my third significant leak since buying this older property.  At the outset of owning no 8 Carmichael Street, there was not much I knew about plumbing.  but over the course of the past two years I am becoming much more aware of how to deal with problems and the right action that needs to be taken in order to set them right.

I am not sure of the astrological associations to plumbing but am sure there is a Scorpio/Pluto flavour to it.   It is one of my idiosynchraises that I look to these kind of events to see what they might be pointing to on a metaphorical level.   The pipes conduct the water that flows below the property, in the course of all of this problem with the plumbing I’ve become well versed at turning if off a the mains.  I wonder could the flow of water represent to me the flow of my emotions, that at times, though Its not easy for me, it does become necessary to hold back the flow and divert my energy into something less frustrating and challenging, rather than get caught up in a negative downward spiral that doesn’t led anywhere good..

As I was sweeping the leaves in the back garden this morning I was thinking about my own birth, how even then when I was urging to push forward into life,  my Mother held back from going to the hospital until she had bottled the very last of her plum jam. February is the month for plums and I now have my own plum tree in the back yard… funny how life brings you full circle.   I am aware of my own difficulty at times with moving forward in life, embracing major change and acting spontaneously when the need arises without holding myself back with loads of self doubt.  Who knows?  It could be a good quality not to rush into things, but not such a good quality for those I have been in relationship with to have held back from opening my heart wholely and expressing my true feelings.  Come to think of it there is a held back quality in my entire family.   Not an easy legacy this Mars Saturn Moon of mine.

The plumber has now fixed the fourth problem, the float valve in the second toilet, in the midst of blogging we were having a conversation about old properties and maintenance.  I guess having never owned a beautiful old home before I was not aware of the amount of maintenance involved.  Maybe there will come a time when most of the problems are sorted and then they wont become the reason that I need to move on.  Who know?  (again)… Coming to awareness around what is not working or moving forward (Mars Retrograde) maybe the point of this current transit in the first place.  The critical point is how do we make sense of the difficulties and challenges when we find in the midst of them occurring.  Do we use them as a reason to punish and whip ourselves or do we see them as learnings which help us to put thing right, opportunities to grown in patience, resilience, trust, hope and belief in the inherent goodness of life despite adversity, challenge, delay and frustration?  For myself I just know I am feeling very much calmer taking this more positive approach.

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Some days have now passed and the plumbing problems have again receded into the background and I have noted too that this arising and passing away theme is very strong for me at present.  Was there a sense at times with my own Mars Saturn Moon that I got very stuck and bogged down in certain painful emotions,  Lately I’ve been working with mindfulness to become aware of and feel them through, using the out breath to deepen into letting go, for the deeper the letting go on the outbreath, the more air I am able to take in on the inbreath.  I was not entirely conscious of how often I was actually holding my breath, and clamping down.   It seems maybe part of the current Mars signature with the Uranian and Plutonian emphasis around it all that letting go, opening up and coming to awareness are major themes at present.

And I’d be interested to hear.  How are you experiencing the current Mars retrograde and the Sun Mars opposition in your own life.

For me this current Mars retrograde has made me more willing to open and show patience and self compassion when I am in the midst of frustrations, offering myself the love, support and understanding while weathering the storms, accepting that the universal timing may often be on different schedule to my own and realising that in the midst of difficult times, where I place my attention has a huge influence on how I am feeling. While I don’t have to run from the sad or heavy stuff, I don’t have allow it to take up all the air time and the more I accept it and can be with it, the easier it is to pass through.

The Dark Side of Soul Mates

I was just editing some of my recent posts when another blogger’s post about Soul Mates caught my eye.  Not an hour ago I was re reading over my old journals which were fraught with attempts to make sense of an extremely painful relationship in which I was involved for over four years.  In this relationship there were constant battles with emotional expression. I would say my ex was a narcissist.  Certain emotions were taboo, especially grief.  Just expressing my vulnerability may trigger an attack, and so my feelings would bank up and I began to experience a lot of symptoms of repressed anger.

It seems easy to write this now that it has become clear after a few years of therapy, but at the time it was hell on earth.  At that time I was not in therapy, though my ex was telling me all the time that I needed to be since I was the one with a lot of problems.  I was ordering every book on Anger and googling Narcissistic Personality Disorder and buying books on that too to try to make sense of it.  At one point my ex told me “Don’t you dare put any of those psychology books in the room where my son, sleeps,”  Suffice to say it was painful to watch that relationship from the sidelines.

This theme of repression of emotional expression has been one of the ongoing themes of my life.  Those of you who are astrologically aware will know what I am saying when I mention I have the Mars Saturn Moon aspect, which is associated with difficulty expressing feelings.  Also people who have it tend to be placed in a position where their wills are thwarted by stronger wills.  In one dream I was shown an image of what happens in this situation.  There was a gun pointed at my own head, held by me.  The dream showed me how to turn it around.  This was the beginning of my repressed anger becoming known.

We often think romantically and idealistically about soul mates.  But as people such as Thomas Moore have noted maybe there is a darker side to this phenomena.  A soul mate may be someone who comes into your life to teach you a lesson that you need to integrate certain qualities that are in your shadow, difficult to express, hidden or disallowed by parental and social conditioning.

In my journal of that time I wrote:

I know that this time I must honour and guide and protect my precious child.  She has been given away too much, suffered alone and swallowed down so many painful feelings for so long.  There has been very little willingness on Mum’s part to look at any of her patterns and there are strong narcissistic and manipulative patterns there under all the lovely Mum qualities.  At present I am doing battle with and separating from those.

I know I need to strengthen, feel more fully into the pain and disappointment and  grief over Mum’s refusal to validate my feelings and be there for me.  But I do have compassion.  How could she tolerate it when her own was so stifled?  “Nice girls” don’t do that.  And a lot of it was the conditioning of the time.

Perhaps there is a chance I can move out of child to X’s strong adult and be an available adult for myself by honouring my inner feelings. The pain of his neglected child is deep but he is not ready to acknowledge it.

And then a I had inserted a quote from a book I was reading by Alice Miller titled, The Truth Will Set You Free.

She gives an example of how our bodies carry the burden.   The high price we pay in health to be barred from knowledge of what we suffered, citing the experience of man from the Communist Party who “attempted to engage in an exchange with his colleagues about the view that violence and the desire for power are learned in childhood, and that the subject of education by the use of force should be integrated into Marxist thinking.  He endured virulent animosity..  did not sacrifice his views.  Developed arthritis in his feet, decided to leave, notified them in writing and in so doing evoked

“massive anxieties bound up with the abandonment he suffered as a child of a religious family with strict Protestant rules of discipline, a child who never had the right to his own opinions without the threat of punishment and emotional abandonment.  To his surprise and joy three hours after giving his notice, the pain in his feet disappeared.  He saw this as proof that he had succeeded in refusing to perpetuate the situation he had been in as a child and in breaking out of a state of dependency that, although affording him the illusion of security in the past had started to stifle him.  The man was astounded at the speed of the bodily response to his action. He knew, though, that this was not a case of “miracle healing” in the usual sense of the term but the logical consequence of his decision to walk out of the prison in which he had been incarcerated.”.

Synchronisitically I had just experienced an inflamed elbow at the visit of my mother and sister and a very strong transiting Mars aspect was taking place with my natal Mars Saturn Moon.  And also in the relationship with my partner I had been experiencing ongoing symptoms.  The body doesn’t lie.

My journal then continued:

Today the Moon is waxing onto Saturn so all of X’s defences are being triggered.  I feel it in his hard, defended hug, in the tyrannical way he bats away emotions.  Funny but T laughingly calls him the tyrant. My heart aches and I long for someone softer and more understanding.  But then part of me thinks “Didn’t I get just the partner I needed in order to grow and learn?”  Isn’t this just a challenge to my soul to become stronger?

It took me a long time to learn to stop looking to someone who could never give me what I needed.  Eventually he ended the relationship and the pain was intense as it triggered all the other abandonments of my life. In the end the only was to stop trying to contact him, get a good therapist and let go. That process took about a year. I had to go cold turkey to save my sanity since I was continuing to repeat and persist in futile attempts that were a replay and bound to end in frustration. It took a lot of work and I now feel free and have clarity.

Certainly the synastry aspects between both our charts were very strong and indicated this would be a very Plutonian relationship, powerfully transformative in either a positive or negative way.

I read somewhere once that the definition of a soul mate is not the one you mesh with but the one you have conflict with that challenges you to grow in your soul and in every other way too.

So though it ended in tears about 6 months later I did find my soul mate in X.

That’s why I think a Soul Mate may have a dark side and if we can accept it, and grow through it and integrate the lesson we can move forward into the light.