While Saturn was transiting Virgo, one of my clients asked whether she should put down a loving and loyal pet, a dog, who had been hit by a car. Saturn in Virgo was beyond difficult on humanity’s little helpers as many of my clients and friends found their pets with terribly costly health problems. We weighed the merits of each side of the decision. The dog was a loyal friend but the cost of rehabilitation would be costly – she was struggling to pay her bills. She is also a caring and compassionate woman who loved her dog and couldn’t imagine putting down one of God’s creatures. In a quiet moment of contemplation, as though she were asking God for an answer, she asked me a memorable question: “I’ve always thought something astrology can do is help us make better choices. So…how can astrology help me with this?” My astrological knees quivered. This wasn’t just an astrological exploration – it was a personal and spiritual one.
Ultimately, we unpacked the astrology that day, examining her life with dogs, in retrospect. I’ll never forget this conversation because she honestly asked me a question which I continually ask myself: How does astrology help? With the realities of bad situations getting worse, our own individual suffering becoming harder to deny, and the darkening of the collective mood, quick and dirty astrology can certainly confirm our deepest fears (oh no, it’s Pluto and Saturn, the malefics and bringers of doom!). We want astrology to be helpful not harmful. So what kind of answers does astrology give us? And is it designed to answer anything at all?
The questions are certainly here lately, and hard, heavy ones. The more potent and knee-shaking questions are personal – existential ones, like should I leave my husband?, is a life without companionship worth living? and questions around death and dying. The questions increase with the gravitas of the times. Times of profound crisis prod us to take up, what I heard recently referred to as, “the long conversation”. That is, to more fully enter into a dialogue with another person about the kind of painful personal and existential questions that keep us up at night, the kind that will have us call a friend at a strained hour, with heart in hand. These compelling questions aren’t designed to be answered overnight, though they are nighttime in nature. Answers are arrived at with our willingness to settle in, be open to inquiry and to deepen the conversation with our self through another.
Some of the most profound conversations I have are with long-term clients; those who are moved to commit to taking a longer journey of inquiry with me, as my client and friend described above. On that day, as we unpacked the astrology in her chart, we talked about her Saturn conjoined Venus in Scorpio in her Sixth House (of pets) and what that had meant to her throughout her life. We realized on several occasions, her decision to get a dog had been motivated by trouble and dissatisfaction within her relationships. Pets had been loyal companions, enriching her life, but they had also acted out pieces of her relationship shadow. For example, her pets had a mysterious way of getting sick, or injured, when her relationships were on the rocks. Although she’s an uber-responsible mother, she expressed a sense of oppressive restriction she felt with pets, an obligation or duty to care for them in ways which she had felt unable to fulfill, although loyal love was clearly there (Saturn-Venus). She confessed the real fear of taking on a too huge responsibility, which she feared she would later regret. We came to no ultimate conclusion. At our next session, I asked what had decided. She said she ‘happened to’ get in touch with a friend who had a friend who had a rehab pet ranch and who was happy to help. She had been relieved of her burden of responsibility while loyally and lovingly providing for her pet. A short while later, she began connecting with her husband in remarkable and new ways.
So, did astrology answer any question -or- did it just make room for the consciousness about the burning question to unfold, thus allowing synchronicity to work it’s magic? I’ve come to understand that magic happens in the astrological dialogue. To answer the question, how can our astrological knowledge help us?, in my experience, one of the most precious things it can do is open a dialogue that may’ve never otherwise begun. Through attempting to decipher what my teacher Steven Forrest calls, “the language of God,” we who are humbly blessed with an ability to speak the language, get to have the kind of conversations that might only happen between a confessor and a priest, or between stars and planets. These conversations may turn us and our client upside down, make our knees quiver, our heart burst wide open, our mind fly out the window but if we’re willing to engage more deeply with our more hidden questions through astrology, in that we discover a rich language for naming an inner or secret experience of the world hidden far from daylight (hidden being the true meaning of ‘occult’). Will talking about it change anything? That depends on how far we want to take the question. Often these dialogues may not appear to change anything, but as they work on us and we work on them, in sum total, these conversations, dialogues and soul-confessions open our consciousness. Which has the effect of changing just about… everything.
I am moved to relate this to the current Saturn in Libra/Pluto in Capricorn series of squares (11/15/09, 01/31/10, 8/21/10). The long conversation is just beginning. Conversation, counseling, back and forth dialogue is a distinctly Libran ability. As Pluto’s descent into the Hell regions in the coming months continues, the long conversation requires nothing less than our total honesty, and self-to-others accountability (for a a reflection on relationship and this square, click here). Because they are happening these archetypal energies have strengthening potentials: a deeper engagement with life, honest realism about our problems, clearer communication in relationship and more… all at our disposal to do with what we will, especially if they touch our chart. The long conversation will be hard and not without pain, and no one likes difficulty and pain. Yet squares tend to get things headed in a new direction – which, I bet everyone can agree, is a worthy pursuit at this time. Things will break down and some will end. That’s apart of the process. But dialogue shouldn’t. Now is not the time to shrink from our honest pain, no matter how difficult. We are being given the humble opportunity to ask the right questions. We are now being given the time to brew a cup of tea, grab a wise friend or loving partner, pull up a chair and settle in for the long conversation.
This article is featured in: Look After Saturn and Saturn Will Look After You as part of the 2010 International Astrology Day Blogathon. The purpose of this web-based event is to create a permanent library of articles about how to deal with the stresses of the Cardinal T-Square of Pluto, Saturn and Uranus. The main page for the Blogathon collections is at The 2010 International Astrology Day Blog-A-Thon.