In the past two days, I’ve been informed of two deaths. One, an acquaintance’s family member; the other, a high school classmate who was a fixture in my social circle. The former was a suicide, and the other was young and healthy enough to surmise that free will played a role in her death, too (you usually guess this when you see ‘no foul play suspected’ in the police reports). For me, this brings up feelings already brewing from a more acute loss this Winter: sadness, loss, and the compassionate awareness that life is hard.

Astrologically, Uranus is leaving Pisces. Something we explored at the Steven Forrest retreat this weekend was the idea that as Uranus leaves this last sign, we are in a time of necessary endings. Steven said that part of this evolutionary work is accepting the inevitable ending of things. The question was posed: What do we need to let go of? He suggested the exploration was incredibly complex and required careful discrimination. He also suggested privacy as one thing we are likely letting go of.

This made me take inventory of my own losses. Over the past eight years (the average time frame of a Uranus cycle), I’ve lost things. Countless keys. Socks. Music. Some losses have been good; I lost my single person status. Some things I’ve re-found– like the two pair of jeans I’d thought were gone forever I’d misplaced (turns out I’d just forgotten to unpack them from a suitcase). I’ve lost my faith; I’ve lost my faith in friends; I’ve lost friends. And some friendships– we’ve healed enough to find each other again. My grandmother, I lost her, too. But I have faith that I will find her again.

We are used to thinking of Pluto as the God of Death. I’m not arguing with Death. But people are a reflection of the cosmos, and as we end a Uranian cycle, it’s impossible for me, in these deaths, to not feel a sense of futility in the face of progress and of loss. Have we truly progressed? Really? Will we ever truly make progress -at least in our minds’ eye? As I reflect on the mindset it takes to willingly choose to sacrifice one’s life, I feel understandable mental futility and soul fatigue of this last  zodiac sign. I do not know the circumstances of their deaths but I do understand that consciousness can be either a prison, isolating us in our human predicaments and circumstances, or a gateway reuniting us with the entire human condition. Ah, yes, we are all in it together. Often our orientation, one or the other, is the only real power we have.

During my ever longer stint with the Pluto transit (yes, Pluto transiting the Nodes now) I’ve noticed there is a real lack of grieving rituals around death so I’m using this passage of Uranus to mourn my losses. And maybe also, too, to mourn our collective confusion: about the way forward, what we don’t understand how to fix just yet. To ask for instruction, (and grace) on bearing the little and big losses we’ve faced. For Pisces, a poem seems appropriate. Rest in peace, dear friends.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

— Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.  -One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop