The last week before Christmas, I flew out to South Carolina to assist my very sick and very dear grandmother. When I arrived, it was clear she was close to, if not actively, dying. I did what I could. If you’ve ever been a caregiver for a sick person who is fairly conscious, it is painful for both of you. You do physical things you’ve only ever done for your self; and if you think it’s humiliating for you, your heart breaks because they are doing what they can to hold onto a last shred of human dignity. When the beautiful machine called the body starts to fall apart, it is a glorious mess. what once worked so effortlessly and invisibly becomes effort-full and unpredictable. In one moment of biological truth, my Great Aunt looked me with tears in her eyes and said, “Jessica, getting old is terrible.” I wanted to disagree. I mumbled something like, Well, if we can all be there to help each other, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad…True, but… she lives alone. My grandmother’s husband left her when my father was three, and she never really trusted anyone after that. Her family has since dispersed to different corners of the universe, physically and philosophically. The reality is, she had never thought about getting sick or dying. She didn’t plan on this. Most of us don’t.
On the plane ride back, I watched a Christmas movie called Four Christmases. It struck me just how much the modern family has changed over time. In this movie, a couple visited four different households on Christmas Day (each parent had divorced) with as many family dynamics, houses to visit, and white lies to tell. This couple, like so many of us, didn’t want to deal with the crazies of their family, so they would lie to avoid spending Christmas together. Avoidance is a close friend of denial; it is easier to avoid our families than face the pain of putting their crazies and our crazies under one roof. As Vince Vaughn’s character said, “You can’t spell families without lies.” Some lies protect us as defenses, and some lies defend us from compassion, connection and love. As the movie ended, the ‘happy’ couple had been as defended and closed down with each other as they had been with their families. Like most bittersweet family reunions, it was through being forced to spend time together, their hearts cracked open. Observing each other in the petri dish of their home clan, they also discovered they knew very little about one another.
Today’s New Year’s Eve brings the Cancer Full Moon Eclipse, the effects of which began weeks ago. Home and clan, feelings and family wounds, belong to this sensitive and first water sign. Home and family provide a measure of safety in our lives, though like a raw, exposed nerve, it’s also where we find our self vulnerable and in need of protection (but not too much protection so that we shut down our heart). Cancer feels everything. The suffering and the pain, the war and disease, and on both planet Earth and in our families, it’s hard to remain open amidst the pains of life. Yet we must. For Cancer these pains aren’t mere irritants, but fuel for the great inner work in which home and family are designed to play a starring role. Home and family (and those intimate partners we call family), provide a hospitable environment, a protective safe haven for the inner work to take place. Yet as anyone with a family knows, they also provide the work. In a mixed blessing way, family shows us all the inner work we have yet to do in our self. It’s difficult to imagine any family without that irritating, ingratiating grain of sand (or person) in it; yet in the right environment, the hostile piece of sand can transform into the pearl of wisdom.
A Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on January 14, 2010 will follow this lunar eclipse. Capricorn is blessed with a stubborn self-reliance, capable of great solitary achievements; Cancer is the inner world, the great inner work, which the tap root which feeds our Great Works in the world. Capricorn has the can-do to achieve anything it sets it’s mind to, but the sum of our ambition, achievement and recognition would be empty without an inner connection to our Source. We connect our soul’s work, Cancer, with who we are and what we do in the world, Capricorn.
You are probably not experiencing these eclipses so dramatically as I (for more about where these eclipses transit your chart, click here). I am a Cancer, this eclipse falls on my nodal axis and I am in the middle of a great Pluto transit. This one is dramatic for me. As my grandmother attempts to make peace with her Maker, and we’re figuring out how to pay the bill, I am trying to make peace with what is really a collective denial around aging, illness and death – Pluto in Capricorn subject matter. Like all denial, it’s cheap in the short-term, but in the long run costs us so much. For those of us living under America’s health care system who become chronically sick, unless we are very rich, we have legally protected our assets, or we have family to care for us, it is very likely we will die in poverty. If we have the *highly probable* misfortune to experience a prolonged illness, our entire life’s work very well will go down the drain. And we may not be able to call on family for help; family doesn’t mean the same thing it used to. The clan more resembles a group of individuating Aquarians than “loyal to family no matter the cost” Cancerians. The Age of Aquarius has ignited great new friendships with like-minded souls, but clans have also disseminated. So the question is: who will take care of us? To be grotesquely blunt: can we ask our friends to change our diapers? I do wonder if the last of the traditional clan is dying with my grandmother’s generation – the Pluto in Cancer generation. In addition to asking myself hard and fast questions about family loyalty, I have also been rooting out my personal fears, denials and questions about death (natal Pluto in the Twelfth House) and realizing there’s plenty of inner work here for me. So far, a book called Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton has comforted and given me hope. It was so helpful to me that I wanted to tell you about it. It’s a fascinating compilation of past-life soul regressed case studies. If, like me, you have more questions than answers, this book answers very specific questions about life after life.
With both Mercury in Capricorn (12/26-1/15/10) and Mars in Leo (12/20/09-3/10/10) both retrograde, this Eclipse season is a time of contemplation. New Year’s Eve is as much about looking backward on last year, as forward into the new. New Year’s Eve is a fine time to re-call, re-member, re-store our soul so that when we do put our best foot forward in the world (at the Capricorn Eclipse) we will feel connected to our own foot (Cancer). The Eihwaz Rune stone counsels preparation for this time: “The ability to foresee consequences before you act is the sign of a profound person.” Here’s to a great 2010.