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Astrology: A Universal Language of the Soul

12-1-08 moon jupiter venus_0002.jpg

Transformational Times: Winter Solstice 2008

This year’s Winter’s Solstice chart features an exact Sun and Pluto conjunction at 0º Capricorn. When planets cross 0º of the cardinal signs - Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn - their energy more directly impacts public awareness and the world stage. The influence of Pluto has been intensifying over the last few years, as this powerful Winter Solstice conjunction has been culminating. This year it is spot on.

Pluto symbolizes evolutionary energies that compel transformation. It signifies the paradoxical processes of breakdown and renewal, destruction and creation, corruption and reform, repression and catharsis, pollution and purification, oppression and upheaval, death and rebirth. This Plutonian process of regeneration moved into Capricorn’s realm of political and governmental structures, the economic system, and big business from last January to June, then back to Sagittarius for one last blast from June to late November, and is now altering Capricorn’s landscape through 2024.

Pluto is a planet of extremes - heights and depths. It speaks to both the extremely wealthy and powerful and the abject poor and oppressed. Pluto has to do with issues of power and powerlessness, power struggles and power plays, power grabbing and loss of power. Pluto represents the ways in which power, wealth, energy and resources are wielded individually and collectively.

When Pluto transits a sign, the areas of life associated with that sign intensify and take on greater power and influence and can be taken to an extreme point of crisis and breakdown. From 1995 through parts of 2008, Pluto has been in high-flying Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, planet of growth, optimism and prosperity. Sagittarius and its ruling planet Jupiter rule risk-taking, gambling, globalization and the stock market along with beliefs, enthusiasms and confidence. Jupiter and Sagittarius are generally expansive and opportune energies, but when intensified by the obsessive, power-grabbing, extremism of Pluto their positive qualities can deteriorate into excess, over-reaching, greed, exploitation, and a lack of any attention to reality and the bottom line. By the end of Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius, (this fall) the giant poker game being played with our shadow money system of credit default swaps and toxic debt by the plutocrats in the financial stratosphere folded, and the entire house of cards came crashing down on the world.

Pluto’s dramatic entry into Capricorn, though drastic, couldn’t be more true to form. Fall 2007, before Pluto passed into Capricorn last January, I wrote in this column, ”The Pluto in Sagittarius super-size me, gas-guzzling, nothing succeeds like excess decade is definitely over. Pluto is passing into the most down-to-earth, conservative and economical of signs. It’s time to pay the piper. … Capricorn’s sphere of influence (government, big business, corporations, economics and security systems) is in for a major overhaul. For better or worse, Pluto’s (planet of power and influence) return to Capricorn (sign of accountability) will be a time of reckoning for the U.S. Our country will be confronted with how responsibly, recklessly or ruthlessly it has employed its wealth and resources and wielded its power in the world.”

Whereas Sagittarius is a sign of expansion and excess, Capricorn is a sign of contraction, limitations and shortages. Its energy is serious, sober and sensible. Pluto in Capricorn brings us back to earth with a thud. Through this transit, we will learn to embrace the principles of restraint, conservation and sustainability thanks to Capricorn’s lessons of necessity. We are only at the beginning of this 15-year transit of Pluto plowing through Capricorn with a long row to hoe ahead. This transit is particularly significant for our country, as Pluto will be making many challenging aspects to planets in the U.S. chart over the next few years before finally returning in 2022 to its position of 27º of Capricorn, Pluto’s degree on July 4th, 1776. This is the first return of Pluto to its original position in the U.S. horoscope since the country’s birth. We are currently in the pangs of a long, powerful process of renewal and rebirth.

Throughout 2009, Pluto will be squaring the Midheaven of the U.S. birth chart. The Midheaven axis is the vertical line reaching from the bottom to the top of the chart, delineating the beginning of both the fourth and tenth houses. It represents both our foundations and aspirations, our past and future, our domestic life and our status in the world. As Pluto planet of power and far-reaching change squares the country’s Midheaven, the time has come for a top to bottom overhaul, from our soil, resources and infrastructure to the goals and direction of the nation.

Pluto is also opposing Venus in the U.S. chart in 2009. Venus symbolizes the give and take of relationships, diplomacy, alliances and agreements. It is the planet of worth, values and one’s relationship to money. It also signifies one’s attractiveness, appeal and charisma. We can see this transit already in evidence in the powerfully transformative visage of Barack Obama as the new face of the country. In fact, Obama’s Venus closely conjoins the Venus of the U.S. chart indicating a harmonious union. He promises to be a far more diplomatic and peace-making leader than bellicose Bush, who, aptly, presided during the years when Pluto opposed our country’s Mars, the planet of war and aggression. While Pluto opposes the country’s Venus, The U.S. will show far more grace under pressure, but we are still in for major shifts, power struggles and alterations in our diplomatic relations and our financial system and values.

Pluto is symbolic of the buried side of things, the secret and the taboo. It represents the repressed, shamed and disowned aspects of ourselves. Pluto’s energy hides and seeks, conceals and exposes. In effect, it represents our shadow side until redeemed and transformed by the light of consciousness and the will to change. It is ultimately a deeply healing energy of redemption and resurrection.

As mentioned, this country was born with Pluto in Capricorn, and it is in the second house of money, resources and ownership. The positive side of that position is profoundly rich, resourceful, responsible and powerful: the shadow side is abuses of power and resources, rapacious usury and an economy built on oppression and slavery. On this Winter Solstice, the Sun/ Pluto conjunction in Capricorn on the world stage is symbolic of a large evolutionary cycle of our nation’s shameful history of slavery coming to a powerfully cathartic and redemptive close in the election of Barack Obama to the highest and most powerful position in the land. We still have a way to go in healing the wound, but we are at the beginning of the end of that cycle with much more change and healing to come.

Yes, we can, and we did, heed the appeals of “our better angels” and have changed the course of our country onto a higher, broader, brighter road in the nick of time. We’ve chosen a transformative leader, in Barack Obama, with the right stuff to steadily steer our way through these tumultuous, trying and transformational times.

Originally Published in Cha Cape Healing Arts Magazine Winter 2008/9.

Copyright 2008 Colleen Holden. No part of this article may be reproduced without permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

Colleen Holden Celestial Navigation


Saturn in Opposition to Neptune: The Dueling Illusionists

We do not see things as they are, but as we are.
The Talmud

It’s time to look in behind the scene at our universal projection room to see what we can do to revise this epic movie that we all act in, direct and help to produce. Our real-to-life motion picture is threatening to turn into the mother of all horror shows. We’ve got melting ice caps, bizarre and extreme weather patterns, floods, droughts, famines, threats of pandemics; a prolonged, ill-conceived war in Iraq, fanatical terrorists proliferating like bacteria, the Doomsday Clock has been set forward to two minutes before midnight, and Mad King George and his wily court are still in the White house, for starters. It’s one creepy nail biter.
In the last article, we looked at the part that Pluto and its upcoming square with Uranus plays in these ‘interesting times’. But they are not the only players on the scene. The two grand masters of illusion, Saturn and Neptune, are poised in a challenging face-off. Yes, Saturn is supposed to be the no-nonsense, ‘just the facts, ma’am’, real as dirt planet and Neptune the ethereal, illusory, ‘out there’ one, but we just let Saturn think he’s more real than Neptune. It makes him feel safe, secure and in charge. As the executive producer of our 3D, Technicolor, surround-sound- and-sniff movie, it’s Saturn’s job to give substance to the stuff of our dreams, visions, and imaginings and make them real. And he does such a phenomenal job! But it doesn’t make him anymore real than the elusive, otherworldly, yet ever inspiring Neptune.
Saturn signifies the reality of our illusions and Neptune the illusion of our reality. Or is it the other way around? Who knows? Hard to tell. That’s the rub when Saturn and Neptune meet. We live in a veritable hall of mirrors. The metaphysics of astrology implies that our universe is highly interactive, with consciousness and reality forever mirroring and influencing each other - ” As above so below, as within, so without.” No wonder we’re so confused. We are walking, talking paradoxes simultaneously taking part in both the world of form and the great beyond – or is that the great within?
Saturn and Neptune began their opposition in late 2004, but it did not become exact until late August 2006 (aptly, coincident with the release of the movie, The Illusionist), and again late February 2007; they will be in exact opposition for the last time on June 25th, 2007. The influence of this transit will continue to linger through 2008. Though we are all experiencing the influence of this transit, those most directly affected are those with planets in the latter half of the signs, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.
Like its cosmic companions, Uranus and Pluto, Neptune opens us to the vast unseen world, but Neptune can be even harder to grasp. Some of the most tangible illustrations of Neptune in our world are the ocean and water, music, poetry, photography, film, gas, drugs and alcohol. It has to do with our visions, dreams, ideals, imagination, artistic and spiritual inspiration, the collective unconscious, and compassion. Neptune ultimately represents Oneness, God, the creative void of infinite potential, the Unified Field. Its highest expressions are communion, ecstasy, bliss, profound peace, and boundless love. We can tune into the higher vibrational world of Neptune through, meditation, prayer, quiet reflection and contemplation, music, dancing, chanting, and communing with nature, especially near water. Within the physical world of separation, form and fear, the higher expressions of Neptune are difficult to attain and maintain. Neptune problems include escapism, delusion, addiction, deception, confusion, passivity and victimization.

Saturn, on the other hand, in its roles of builder and teacher helps us to grasp hold. Saturn exemplifies the principles of order, control, structure, and authority. Saturn likes to build things up and nail them down. Some positive principles in Saturn’s domain are discipline, responsibility, commitment, practicality, objectivity, sobriety, patience, perseverance and mastery. Difficult ones are fear, pain, inhibition, lack, struggle, negativity, pessimism, rigidity, depression, and limitation.
The last time Saturn and Neptune met head-on was 36 years ago, in the early 70’s. We had the protracted Vietnam War going on, the Watergate Scandal, a deceitful and delusional president who had to resign to avoid impeachment, global warming was first brought to the public’s attention, we had rising gas prices and threats of gas shortages, and 1972 an ‘73 were record flood years. Interesting parallels, huh? All exemplify themes of Saturn and Neptune combined, even the name Watergate – water: Neptune - gate: Saturn. When Saturn and Neptune meet, we are faced with the need to discern fact from fiction, illusion from reality. The themes of disillusion and dissolution are central to this planetary combination. It can be a time of stark and painful realizations, disenchantment, disappointment, and despair. For some of us, a sea change may be taking place in which steady aspects of our lives shift, or drift away, ushering in a period of loss, uncertainty, disorientation and anxiety which can serve as a catalyst for an inward journey of deep reflection. It can be a sobering time in which we are called to end our denial around evasive, addictive, delusional, and deceptive behaviors and take greater responsibility. It is time to empty ourselves of the old and outlived that we may be open and receptive to a new flow of life and inspiration.

This planetary opposition challenges us with the paradoxical need to hang in and let go at the same time. An ideal instruction manual for navigating the often troubled waters of a Saturn and Neptune transits can be found in the 12 steps of recovery of AA, which was founded in 1935 during - no surprise - another Saturn and Neptune opposition (1935 and ’36 were also record flood years, in fact the flood control act was passed in 1936, no kidding. Are you getting the hang of the symbolism here?).

This is a time to pare down to essence and essentials, to sink to a deeper, truer, more authentic level of ourselves while raising our sights. It’s time to get quiet and listen for the sacred sound resonating from the core of our hearts. It’s time for some solitude in which to form and re-envision our ideals, dreams and aspirations, and then begin the steps toward their realization. At their best, the alliance of Saturn and Neptune join inspiration and perspiration, vision and dedication, service and commitment, effort and grace, intuition and reason, the everyday and enchantment, the mundane and mystical, heaven and earth. It’s high time to tune in, get real and dream true.
Originally Published in Cha Cape Healing Arts Magazine Winter 2008/9.

Copyright 2008 Colleen Holden. No part of this article may be reproduced without permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

Colleen HoldenCelestial Navigation


Pluto: Demoted, But Still as Potent
Pluto may have been demoted, dwarfed and relegated to a mere number by the astronomers, but it has not lost any of its stature or clout with astrologers, and Pluto called by any other name or number will still turn you inside out when it hits your chart. In fact, from an astrological vantage, Pluto’s power is only picking up steam as it traverses back and forth over the position of the galactic center at 26°51’ of Sagittarius, and steadily approaches 0° of Capricorn, a point in the zodiac representing the world stage, which it will finally reach in 2008 and ‘09.
Amplifying Pluto’s energy further is a long term square forming from that radical, revolutionary and electrifying catalyst of change, Uranus. The square won’t be exact for five years, but the chemistry between them is already cooking, and it promises to be a hell of a build-up. The last time these two rowdy rebels got together in a major way, they rocked the house right through the infamous 1960’s, and we haven’t seen the likes of it since, so get ready, they’re tuning up their instruments now. The times they are a changin’. All that has been oppressed, disempowered, disenfranchised, and alienated will be revolting and uprising. If you feel like time has been speeding up in the last few years, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The accelerated change button on our saturnian, space/time based reality is being pressed to the metal. Time is warpin’ and we’ll be woofin’.
We have the dubious fortune of having Pluto co-star with the Sun in every Solstice and Equinox chart for more than a decade, and we‘re not quite half way there yet. In the Winter Solstice chart, it is a potent conjunction in which the two energies are joined. The sun signifies the individualized ego and its relationship to spirit and the light of consciousness. In the solstice chart, it represents the zeitgeist, or spirit of the time.
Pluto signifies the underworld and subterranean both literally and metaphorically. It represents the deep, dark, mysterious, hidden, taboo, unconscious side of human nature and life. It speaks to the primal, instinctual, rejected, disowned, denied and shadowy parts of us. Some of its themes are: death and regeneration, destruction and renewal, energy and the resources within the earth, depth psychology, the mysteries of existence, sexuality, the use and abuse of power and wealth, catharsis and transformation, and deep evolutionary change. When you think Pluto, think atom; it is a tiny substructure of matter, with titanic power for both creation and destruction concealed within it. On a spiritual level, Pluto represents the mysterious relationship between the personal will and the deeper will of the evolving soul.
Clearly, we are passing through dark and ominous times. This ongoing relationship between the Sun and Pluto, along with the imminent Uranus and Pluto square, present an opportunity to shine the light of consciousness into the shadowy recesses of our hearts and minds and the world we have created. The violence and insanity of the world doesn’t just exist out there, it is a reflection of the division and turmoil we each carry within us. Most of us fear and loathe acknowledging our dark and unsavory feelings and behaviors. Few of us want to own our selfishness, dishonesty, greed, hatred, jealousy, intolerance, cruelty, addictions etc., etc. Its much more palatable to project it onto others and bolster our shaky egos with the belief that we are among the innocent and righteous. Many of us do this by identifying with and hiding behind religious and political ideologies, for others of us a false self-image will do just fine. During this time, the universe is providing the energetic opportunity, both individually and collectively, to take a long, courageous, penetrating look at what the hell we are doing to each other, our beautiful planet and ourselves. Pluto’s energy operates like a volcano or boil bringing tensions and toxins that have been stewing beneath the surface erupting up to be released that the system may survive and thrive. So in a way, it is as if there is a huge magnetic field bringing all the sh-- to the surface right now for us to see and transform. Have you noticed?
It is more than a little ironic that Pluto has been publicly demoted at time when its influence is actually intensifying. I agree with astrologer, Lisa Dale Miller’s assessment of the situation, who wrote in an on-line article about Pluto’s demotion, “The dwarfing of Pluto is in fact a perfect metaphor for a world in denial of its own destructive nature.” Now is a time of coming clean, of exposing the truth of corruption in our institutions, governments, corporations and ourselves. It’s time to reclaim what we tend to deny, ignore, disown, and repress, and I’m not just talking about the murky, disturbing stuff. We are also capable of disowning our gifts, and the best and brightest aspects of ourselves too – and we sure could use those parts of ourselves to get us out of the mess we’re in.
When the Sun and Pluto meet, it is time to become more aware and accepting of the shadow play between light and dark, saint and the sinner, noble and ignoble. Pluto is a passionate, extreme, paradoxical archetype inviting us to explore the heights and depths of our being. As ruler of the wealth of the underworld, Pluto wants us to fully know the richness of our souls.
Obviously, astrologers will continue to call Pluto by name. Little as it is, it’s still one of the heavyweights in the planetary Pantheon. By the way, bear in mind, one of Pluto’s favorite themes is death and rebirth, so there is a good likelihood that within the next few years its status will be reinstated. It’s not over ‘till the fat phoenix sings. Until then, remember the ancient Greek imperative to honor and pay homage to the gods and goddesses and what they hold dear. We discount and ignore the gods at our own peril, for they are none other, than ourselves.
Originally Published in Cha Cape Healing Arts Magazine Winter 2008/9.

Copyright 2008 Colleen Holden. No part of this article may be reproduced without permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

Colleen HoldenCelestial Navigation

Astrology: A Universal Language of the Soul


"The soul move in circles" Plotinus

Astrology can revolutionize our vision of life and self. Forget the trite newspaper and magazine columns. Think big. Think cosmos. Think planets swirling round on their axes, careening at astounding speeds around suns, stars swiftly spiraling in galaxies around galaxies. We forget. This is where we live, on a planet flying through space at a head-spinning speed. The cosmos isn’t out there. It’s here. We’re part of it.

Astrology says there is a meaningful relationship between this immense vastness and the immediate intimacy of our personal lives. Cosmos and psyche are connected in a significant way. Ridiculous, most insist. How can there be a relationship between those far flung planets millions and billions of miles away and our lives on earth? Imagine, for a moment, the infinitesimal size of an atom. In a way, a miniature model of our solar system with a positively charged nucleus at its center and electrons orbiting like planets - our bodies contains 7 billion, billion, billion of them. It is not at all difficult to imagine that the parts of this minute unit are interrelated in an essential way. However, we do have a hard time imagining that the distant planet Pluto could possibly affect life on earth. Nonetheless, although Pluto is almost four billion miles from our sun, the relative distance between the nucleus in the tiny atom of say a gold ring, and its furthermost electron is twice the distance of that between our Sun and Pluto! If we move this comparison out onto a truly cosmic scale and contrast the size of our solar system with the vastness of infinite space, it shrinks to far less than atomic in size. With that image in mind, it is not at all difficult to imagine that life in our small solar system may be interrelated and interconnected in an essential and intimate way.

This line of thought is not intended to lead to a sense of our utter insignificance, nor am I suggesting that atoms are solar systems, or that solar systems are atoms, although some scientist have speculated on the same. Neither do I believe that this makes any kind of a case for the validity of astrology, but I am suggesting that we live with culturally- accustomed blinders on to the wonders and mysteries of our existence, or as Shakespeare put it, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” There is so much we assume to know, and much we take for granted, seldom really questioning who and what we are and why we are spinning and spiraling around and around on this glorious little planet.

Astrology maintains that our universe is encoded with meaning and creative design. This is the biggest leap of faith that most people face when confronted with the subject. But it’s not a matter of faith or belief; it’s one of study, observation, experience and practice. After 30 years of just that, I don’t believe; I know this much to be true that there is implicit meaning, purpose and an intricate design that is infinitely varied in its creative genius unfolding and evolving through the revolving of this solar system. Bearing witness to the workings of this system continues to awe and amaze me every day. I don’t know how or why it works only that it does. Its workings cannot be explained by our current scientific paradigms, though there are some theories which are getting closer.

Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul refers to astrology as a “technology of mysticism” which may sound cryptic, but actually aptly describes its fundamental nature. Astrology is descriptive of the meeting point of eternal spirit with time and space. Planets and stars are alive with symbolic significance, each illuminating different universal life principles and processes, archetypes and myths. Each moment in the wheel of time is pregnant with creative intentions and possibilities. Astrology insists that time is not just quantitative, but more importantly qualitative telling of the nature of time as it passes.

The horoscope, astrologers most basic tool, is a map of the solar system for a particular, time and place on the earth. Like a type of cosmic DNA of the soul, each horoscope is comprised of a unique symbolic configuration of planets, signs, houses and geometrical aspects composing a profound philosophical, psychological and spiritual language and system with which to articulate and understand the many dimension of human experience.

Within the circle of the horoscope is the entire round of life, a meditative mandala with which to reflect and gain insight. Astrology expands our perceptions of reality beyond the limiting constraints of societal norms to a far vaster vision of life of more mythic and cosmic proportions.

Within our perpetually spinning universe there are planetary cycles within cycles rhythmically occurring, each moment of time evolving in relation to others. The timing for the development of each horoscope is found in the cycles of the planets and their continuously changing relationship to it. From an astrological perspective, our development is kaleidoscopic in nature with a complex web of ever changing patterns within patterns of significance.

Astrology answers the questions: what is this time period about? What is it asking of me? What seeds of change and possibilities for growth are contained within it?

The answer is a complex, multi-layered and multi-faceted one, but so are we. Astrology offers a consciousness expanding and therapeutic interpretive art that speaks to our hearts and souls with its holistic vision, unequaled system of timing and reflective language with which to fathom the mysteries of self and life as it evolves and unfolds.

BR>Originally Published in Cha Cape Healing Arts Magazine Winter 2008/9.

Copyright 2008 Colleen Holden. No part of this article may be reproduced without permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

Colleen Holden Celestial Navigation