Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hazard Excerpt

An excerpt from Hazard is now up on my site on my Writing page.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Second Coming

I suppose the title of this post is misleading. I'm not talking about some religious event, unless, of course, you view all life as a religious experience. Which, considering the mystical wonder that is life, is probably the closest thing to true religion any of us will ever experience.

No, I'm talking about the second coming of Saturn to its natal position in my chart. For those of you not into astrology, this is called a Saturn return, which is a significant event in one's life. (Go ahead and scoff if you're not a believer, but do it quietly.) The transits of the minor heavenly bodies (the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) through your natal chart contribute to the day-to-day minutia of our lives, and provide fodder for those daily horoscopes you read in the paper. But the outer planets--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are the ones that do the heavy lifting in our lives. And of these, none is more significant than the Great Teacher, Saturn. Uranus and Neptune, being slow and far away, are more generational type transits. They define an age (Baby Boomers, Gen-X, etc.) because they're in the same relative position for years. Jupiter, being such a huge, jolly fellow, is often though of as Fortune. People like Jupiter in much the same way as they like winners. He's the life of the party.

Saturn, on the other hand, is the dour taskmaster lurking in the corner to rap your knuckles (or worse) if you're not walking the right path. He keeps you on the straight and narrow, whether you want him to or not. You might say he's a humorless killjoy, but consider this--nothing would ever get done if we just goofed off with Jupiter all day. There's a time to work and a time to play, and a time to get on with the business of fulfilling one's destiny. And nothing drives that point home more than the Great Teacher's return to the spot where he stood when you were born.

This trek through your natal chart takes approximately 29 years, which means Saturn returns home around the ages of 29, 58, and 87. Now think about those numbers for a minute. If you're currently in your 30s (or later), think back to how tumultuous that dreaded 30th birthday was. There's a reason for that dread. It starts when you're around 28. Every hour that passes inches you closer to the day when Saturn stands on your doorstep, hands on his hips, a scowl on his face, challenging you to defend your life so far. Are you taking advantage of your innate gifts, your skills, your opportunities? Are you moving toward your goals in a positive manner, establishing a good work ethic,strong values, a clean soul? If so, Saturn smiles, pats you on the head, points out a few ways you can improve, and sets off again.

If, on the other hand, you're not progressing in a positive manner or just frittering your life away, the Great Teacher will whip out his staff and hand out a little attitude adjustment to get you back on track. Maybe you'll lose your job, maybe your significant other, maybe you'll get sick. Saturn's effect is different for everyone, but one thing is consistent--he wants to help you achieve your goals, even if it means derailing your life and forcing you to start over. After all, his motis operadi is out with the old, in with the new.

The first Saturn return is usually more noticeable than the second because it occurs during a time in your life when you're trying to establish your place in the world, both professionally and personally. You may be legally considered an adult at age 21, but 30 is the actual acknowledged age that signals your passage into adulthood. It's the age when it's time to get down to the business of figuring who and what you want to be when you grow up.

The second coming of Saturn in your life, while not as noticeable, is no less profound, particularly if you haven't been walking what you consider the perfect path (and, with maturity, you can recognize that for yourself). At 29, you were more concerned with establishing your worth to the outside world. At 58, you're turning that desire inward. And that's where I find myself now. It's not that I haven't been successful. I raised three sons into adulthood. I have a college degree, served a stint in the military, traveled around the world, bought and sold property, had careers in several fields, wrote a few books and published two. I may not have been as financially endowed as I would have liked, but I made the conscious choice to put my family ahead of my career, and I have no regrets in that regard.

But just as Saturn forces us to look forward, it also encourages us to look back. And like everyone else, there are things I still wish I had accomplished. As a Pisces with a Gemini rising, I'm not big on planning, which means I've pretty much lived by the seat of my pants. In the moment. Carpe Diem. As such, things haven't always gone the way I would have liked. For instance, I wish I'd had the luxury of pursuing a more fulfilling career. As a kid, I always wanted to be a teacher. When I got older, the dream changed to being an investigative journalist. At the root of both was a desire to do something that mattered. Instead, I did something that paid the bills. Since my motives were to provide for my family, I guess I was doing something that mattered, so while the path might have varied, the end result was the same.

However, I'm finding now, with the approach of my second Saturn return, that I'm saying goodbye to much of my old life, whether I want to or not. I've lost both my parents in the last year. It wasn't sudden--both had lingering illnesses--and while I thought I had prepared myself for their loss, I'm learning there are some things for which we can never be fully prepared. I kept expecting some great rush of sadness, an overwhelming grief that would crush me for awhile and then allow me to move on. And when the great crushing sadness didn't come, I thought in turns that I was either cold-hearted or just plain lucky. What I'm learning, however, is that grief is not a one-shot deal. That its initial numbness transforms into a lingering pain that comes and goes--sometimes dull and distant, and other times excruciatingly close and raw--and that it will be like that for the rest of my life. A new part of me that has been born with their deaths.

I'm also saying goodbye to the things I thought were important. I'd gone back to a traditional job in the corporate world a couple of years ago--something I swore I'd never do again because, to me, it was killing my soul. But I fell victim to the siren song of a steady paycheck, as well as all the material things that money could buy. Within a year, I realized my mistake, but now I was back on the treadmill. Bills, status, my sense of worth--all the things that accompany the nine-to-five world--were suddenly tied to a job I hated. I'd wake up every morning with dread and drag myself to work, all the while feeling unfulfilled and hollow. I wanted to do something else, even started looking, but, like most people, I got complacent. After all, there was no sense of urgency. One day just faded into the next, and before I knew it, nearly three years had gone by and I told myself I might as well stick it out until I could retire. Ah, the lure of the Matrix.

And that's when Saturn struck. With one broad stroke of his brush, my position was eliminated and I was unemployed. It had happened to me three times before in my life and had always been accompanied by a sense of panic--how was I going to support my family, pay my bills? Maybe it was a sign of maturity, but this time there was no panic, no OMG! moment. In fact, if anything, I was surprisingly calm, despite being a middle-aged, unemployed woman in a depressed economy. I had options, people offering me job leads, but I took a step back and, with the wisdom that comes with age and maturity, re-evaluated my priorities. Yes, I have bills to pay. Yes, I have obligations, but I also have a little money saved and a lot of things I still want to do. And I realized, if I have to work, why not do something I like? I'm not one of those people who tie my self worth to my bank account, so I don't need to make a lot of money.

What I do need is to be able to look myself in the mirror and feel like I've done something valuable with my day. I always wanted to be a teacher, so I decided that's what I'm going to do. Not because I have to make a living, but because I want to make a difference.

If I had been ten years younger, I probably would have jumped on the first job that was offered to me. And I would have gone on being miserable and convinced myself the ends justified the means. I knew I wasn't where I was supposed to be, but sometimes we need a little push to do something about it. If you don't believe in astrology, you can put it in other terms--everything happens for a reason, when one door closes, another one opens. In the end, it all boils down to the same thing. If the universe thinks you should be somewhere else, it'll find a way to get you there.