The Bard's Grove

"There are times when people need stories more than they need nourishment, because the stories feed something deeper than the needs of the body."
Charles DeLint, The Onion Girl


Monday, October 24, 2016

Stories of the Earth: Samhain: All Hallows Eve

Samhain: All Hallows Eve


 
Samhain, the Celtic festival that marks the beginning of winter, is still celebrated in many countries. Samhain, meaning 'Summer's End,' is the time when the Sun's power wanes, and the forces of winter and darkness - and therefore of the gods of the Underworld - grow in strength. It is a celebration of the Dead, when the veils between the worlds open and the spirits of the dead can come into our world. During this time, all fires are extinguished, and the new fires can only be rekindled from the 'sacred' fire of the Druids. Herne the Hunter and his White Hounds sweep through the skies as they hunt the souls of the Dead and of the Dark. Samhain stands opposite Beltane, the festival of the beginning of summer, on the Wheel of the Year.

In English-speaking countries, we celebrate Samhain as All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween. Halloween is a time when sprites, trolls and nature spirits, as well as the spirits of the dead, can commune with human beings. These spirits demand some form of nourishment to propitiate them, for all spirits, both good and evil, crave life. Hence, our custom of 'trick or treat'. In Latin countries, the memory of this festival is celebrated throughout the Roman Catholic Church as the Feast of All Saints or All-Hallowmas, celebrated on November 1st, and the Feast of All Soul's Day celebrated on November 2nd. These are celebrations commemorating the dead, and many cultures believe that the dead need to be nourished on these days, both literally and spiritually. And so prayers are offered for the souls of the dead, while families leave out extra food to feed the wandering spirits in the night.

On Samhain, we are reminded that we too, as children of the Earth Mother, must face Death, and acknowledge that Death is the other face of Life. In facing the death of another year, as well as the possibility of our own deaths, we acknowledge that the rhythm of life is slowing down. Now, the darkness is most evident, and the life force turns within, retreating into the Underworld until the nadir is reached on Winter Solstice, when the Light of the World is reborn once again. The gift that Samhain brings is the knowledge that in accepting Death, the possibility of change and new life is just around the corner.

And so it begins.

The cold, silvery light of the full Moon reflected off the bone-white bodies of his hunting dogs as they raced the wind through the clouds. With a smile cold enough to match the moonlight, he slowly raised his arm above his head, and sent out his call to the winds, and they silently began to gather 'round him. Blood-red eyes shone with a hypnotic intensity as his hounds raised their heads to him, eagerly awaiting his command. The moonlight reflecting off the top of the cloud banks was blinding, and all he could see of his pack were gleaming red coals of fire, flaming out of that field of white. He waited as the winds gathered their fury, now moaning and shrieking in the airy heights. The column of air funneled high into the atmosphere above his arm, straining to be let loose upon the world below. With a cold, triumphant cry, he finally flung out his arm, and with an explosion of sound and movement, the Hunt was on!
The old woman huddled more deeply into her cloak as the winds tugged at it with angry fingers. The coldness stung her eyes and then froze the tears as they formed. The winds shook the trees above her until the last remaining leaves flew free to brush against her on their wild ride to the forest floor. 
 
"It will take more than a strong wind to scare me on this black night," the woman thought with a grin. Wiping her eyes and pulling the hood of her cloak closer around her head, she looked up. Through now-bare branches, she watched as the Moon sailed in and out of swiftly moving clouds then looked back down at the forest path that shifted in shadows with the comings and goings of the light. Slowly, she continued on her way through the darkening forest.

Before she emerged into the hidden meadow, the woman stood within the shadow of the trees to stare out at the dark Mound rising into the sky on the far end of the field. With cries and groans, shrieks and howls, the winds swept through the treetops in a wild, dark dance. In the sudden wide expanse of sky, she could see how the clouds formed dark masses whose tops became snow-white fields as the light of the hidden Moon shone down upon the moving clouds.

"Ah! Sweet Lady of the Night!" The woman felt her heart swell as the Moon suddenly shone out into the clear cold night, turning everything to enchantment.
She released her breath as the dark veiling was drawn once again over the Lady's bright face, but that momentary vision had given the old woman new sight. Looking at the whitened fields above her, she saw ruby eyes and blood-red ears as Herne's hunting hounds rampaged through the night sky. Herne's cold laughter sounded in her ears and she thought, "So it begins!"

Another woman walked through the forest on her way to the Mound. As the Moon revealed Herself to the old woman, Her light found its way to the forest floor as this woman stepped onto an old wooden bridge crossing a stream. An ancient being watched her stop to look up at the sky, and saw that the woman was of middle years, with a strong face bleached white by the moonlight. As the woman watched the cloudy veils hide away the light, the Ancient One scampered under the bridge. "There," he thought, "I am hidden away from the human woman's sight. It wouldn't do for her to see me on this night of nights." And with a chuckle, he hunched down into the shadows beneath the bridge, and faded into the boulders that held up its wooden beams. 
 
The woman threw back the hood of her cloak as she looked up into the face of her Mistress. "Ah! The Goddess plays with us tonight!" And the woman smiled in pure delight as the winds tossed leaves back and forth over the stream, sending them in twirling dances high into the sky, left to gently spin down as they were forgotten and left behind. As the clouds raced by, creating shadows only to spear them again with light, the woman caught sight of a gnarled figure scampering away under the bridge, and her breath caught in surprise. To see an Ancient One, on this night of all nights! Her Mistress was indeed with her tonight!

Keeping her eyes on the tumbled boulders, the woman stepped off the bridge and climbed down to the rocky streambed. Leaning down into the darkness beneath the bridge, she looked directly at a large grey boulder and said, "Good evening, old troll. Will you come with me to the Faerie Mound?" With a grumble and a groan, the Old One threw off the illusion and tumbled out from his rocky nest. "What else can I do, on this night of nights, with the moon-sight on you?" And pulling up her hood to hide her smile, the woman reached down a hand to help the troll up.

A third woman hurried through the night. She lifted her cloak as she leapt over a fallen tree-trunk that lay in her path. She ran through the shadows and she ran through the silvery light, afraid that she was late. It seemed like she was always late, and always hurrying, like those clouds sweeping through the sky overhead. 
 
"But, there are so many things to see; so many interesting places to explore," she thought with a sigh, as she slowed down to watch the flowing moonlight dance in and out among the tree trunks. The young woman stopped, entranced, as a dark shadow flew through a moonbeam. And then the Moon threw off Her veils, and flooded the forest with light. There, off to her left, sat a white owl, staring at her out of the lowest branches of an oak tree. When the light suddenly vanished, the young woman stepped off the path and found her way to the tree.

It was an ancient tree, a grandmother tree, and the wind barely moved its upper branches. The young woman went and put her face up to the rough bark, and breathing softly, sent out tendrils of awareness into its core. In silence, the woman felt how the tree absorbed the wind's violence, taking it in and transforming it into vibration as it carried its message down into the Earth. The woman heard it as it moved through the tree - Herne the Hunter was riding with his Hounds. The Wild Hunt was abroad in the night!

As soon as the young woman came out of her silence, the winds shrieked around her head and then flew off in the direction of the Mound. Looking up into the shadows, the woman found the owl staring down at her. And as she stepped away from the tree, it silently took wing to settle heavily onto her shoulder. The woman looked into wild, fierce yellow eyes for a moment before it lifted away and flew before her into the night. Hurrying back to the path, she swiftly followed the ghostly shadow as it flew to the hidden meadow at the center of the forest.

 Elana Gibeault

And so, the three women finally came to stand at the very edges of the forest, one at the North, one at the South, and one at the East. On the Western end of the meadow rose up the Mound, darkly brooding beneath the moving skies. The women silently watched as the winds gathered in a whirlwind above the dark Mound, where Mighty Herne sat on his own dark steed, as the old Crone saw clearly enough. Then Herne's arm pointed to the North, and the winds were suddenly baying with the voices of many hounds, while with a wild tossing of leaves, the released winds blew away the last of the clouds.

Then the Lady of the Night, the White Pearl of Heaven, looked down upon Her Child, the living Earth, Whom She nourished and sustained with Her light, and governed with Her rhythms. One rhythm had been struck that night, a rhythm of power and terror - the rhythm of Death. 
 
The Night of the Dead was upon the Earth, and the Moon Mother offered Her light to help strengthen Her Child's children as they met their Fate - as the Earth Herself walked through the veil to meet with Death.
 
The three women came forward and stood before the Mound. With hands uplifted, they prayed in the silence of their hearts. Their prayers were offered to their Mothers, for the strength and courage to meet their task: to look upon the face of Death and live.
While the women prayed in the bright moonlit breath of the Mother, the Mound before them drank in the light. And started to move! The earth on the hillside rippled and shuddered, and exploded in little volcanoes of dirt. Then, as if two giant hands slowly ripped apart a woven veil, the Mound split open. A dim light outlined the breach for a moment, but was suddenly blocked by a dark figure stepping up to the opening. 
 
For a moment, the women felt the warm, fragrant winds of Springtime and smelled the intoxicating scents of lilacs and roses as they looked on the face of the Bright One standing before the Mound. They saw plants and vines grow and decay, leaving the fruits of the fields lying at her feet. But when one last cloud swept over the face of the Moon, the cold breath of winter blew away the last memories of summer, and the women huddled deeper into their cloaks.

When they looked back to the Mound, they saw that the Woman was now veiled in black. Silently, the four women waited, while the Moon poured down Her light and blessings upon them.

Slowly, a vast silence sucked away the last breath of sound in the meadow, and the veil between the worlds opened further upon the night. The dark figure in front of the Mound slowly turned away from the three women and walked through that torn veil - walked into the land of the dead.

In the place where she had disappeared, there now shimmered above the Mound a Presence of terror and splendor, dark wings outstretched into the starry sky above. The Crone quickly stepped forward, and raising her arms, began to chant an ancient song, a song of power to hold the Angel of Death at the door which had opened between the worlds.

The second woman turned to the troll, who had been watching, in terror and delight, the opening of the veil. Calling to the other sprites, gnomes and trolls rollicking on the far end of the meadow, he hurried forward to stand next to the woman who had called to him beneath his bridge. Now he was compelled to do her bidding, as the others were compelled to do his. And with much tumbling and tossing, shrieking and laughter, the spirits of the Earth took a stand in front of the torn veil. And with the lightness of a laughing heart, the woman turned to confront the demons who were trying to force their way out of the rift.

The demons took on all the faces of fear, trying to get by that line of imps. But just as terror began to overwhelm the woman, a troll would tumble forward with a loud and smelly bellow, and the demon would dissolve in the mists. Or a sprite would imitate the fierce and deadly faces before them, and soon they were rocking with laughter at her antics. The demons, being unable to produce one tremble of true fear, shrunk and shriveled up and ran shrieking back to hell!

And still the old woman kept up her song, and the Angel of Death stood guard before that dark door.

The third woman, the youngest, also set about her task. Looking into the eyes of the owl once again sitting on her shoulder, her vision followed after the Wild Hunt, as it gathered in the souls of the dead. There was one she especially looked for; one who was the other half of her own soul. When it was time, it was with joy and sorrow that she finally caught sight of him, flying before the Hounds. "He was always quick, and even death has not taken that away." The tear that rolled down her cheek fell to the ground unnoticed.

And so she called to him, who led the dead on their last journey. Called, he came to where his heart still lived. Called, he led the souls a merry dance before the hunting hounds. Called by love, the other souls remembered and so flew before the winds to that dark door.

Baying and belling, the white hounds ran upon the winds, their master riding behind, driving the souls toward the broken veil. Herne's horn resounded through the cold night air as they came to rest high above the secret meadow. The bone-white bodies leapt and danced beneath the prancing feet of Herne's dark mount, while the souls descended to the earth like a lowering mist.

The owl flew off to settle on an oak branch, as the young woman turned to face that misty gathering of souls. The terror of the Dead was settling over the forest, yet she stood forth to meet them unafraid, for there before them all stood her beloved. With love and sorrow, she looked upon his face once more, but while his face and figure were known to her, his eyes were already full of stars. He, for his part, recognized the woman, and knew her for his love, and yet it seemed a far and distant love, for there was no warmth left in him.

And as they stood there, the living and the dead, something happened. A little imp, one who had clung to his mother as they tossed and tumbled before the torn veil, approached those two lost lovers, and shaping his face to their lose and love, he bridged the two worlds. In his face, he showed the fire and ice of their love, and for a moment, they knew their love for what it was in truth. And were set free!

When the young ghost finally turned toward the veil, the host of dead souls moved through the night with him. The three women saw there souls of great ugliness and of greater beauty, of twisted lives and full; saw faces full of great sorrows and of great strengths. They stood and witnessed the ghosts of young and old float silently through the waiting veil, while the dark Angel of Death held open the gate.
 
When the last of the dead had disappeared through the veil, a great light shone from within the rift, as if the souls themselves had turned to light. Then with a mighty shaking of wings, the towering Angel cried out, "It is finished!" and like a dark flame, sank back into the rift.

The three women, deserted now by all the imps and sprites except for the old troll, watched as the veil began to reweave itself in the gray morning light. The Moon looked down upon Her children with a final blessing before vanishing beneath the horizon. The jack-o-lanterns the imps had fashioned to frighten away the demons were scattered around the Mound. Then just before the veil was whole once more, a great light shone out from that hidden world and began to burn within the hollow faces.

And so it was with quiet laughter that the women took up the jack-o-lanterns with the new light to carry it home. The light would light their hearths, and others in the village would come to them, and the fire of the souls of the dead would live on to bring warmth and light to those they left behind. And the old troll took up his light, and departed for his hill above the stream.

And Herne the Hunter looked out across the fields of heaven, and called his hounds home as the Sun rose over the winter forest.

And So It Is!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumn Equinox: Harvesting the Seeds of the Future

The Drummer sits in the topmost branches of the great Tree, his hair blowing in the wind created by the whirling of the galaxies turning around his head. The Tree itself stretches through the center of a brightly glowing spiral of stars, with roots firmly grounded in the earth of many planets. He cocks his head to listen in the silence for the music of the dancing giants, and his hands keep time on one of the many drums hanging from the Tree’s branches. Slowly a smile lights his eyes until they gleam with the fires of heaven. Standing, he stretches his arms above his head as he begins to sing. He sings his name, the power that moves the dancers, for he is the Lord of Time, and it is a moment in the dance when he is called to mark a turning, to shape a Balance.

 Elana Gibeault

With the grace of a dancer, he leaps and swings down the branches of that wondrous Tree. Now this Tree is known by many names on many worlds, for it is the Cosmic Tree, the Tree of Life whose branches hold the blazing stars and whose roots descend to the waters which give birth to the dreams of the soul. Yet to the Drummer, it is truly and simply the Mother, who shelters life within Her many layers and who gives form to the dreams of all Her children. Now one of Her oldest children is being called to his task: to turn the Wheel of Life and witness the result of that movement.
As the Drummer descends to the lower branches, he sings his song which is his name and the power of Time draws near. The rhythm of his singing grows slower as the great Change approaches, for the uprush of life which he called forth in the Spring is now turning within and approaching a new Balance. As he descends and draws near to one blue-green world, he gathers in the Light and he gathers in the Darkness, for these are the tools of the power of Time.
He sits in the lowest branches of that great and mysterious Tree, his leg swinging to the beat of his drum, his eyes searching the horizon. With his descent, his song has taken on a depth and a longing that belongs to the heart of this world, and his name becomes a beseeching whisper carried on the back of the winds. The power of his song and the power of his drumming become the power of his loving as a figure appears. As He is Lord of Time, so She is the Lady of Life, alive and glowing with both Darkness and Light. She comes to him now—Dark as night, Dark as Earth, moving like the cat-creature that paces at her side.
She stops at the foot of the Tree, swaying to the rhythm of his music, and then, lifting her arms to him, the Lady begins her own song, a song of fullness and depths, of mystery and emptiness. She sings her name—Mararich with the textures, tastes, smells, sights and sounds of nature. And when she sings her beloved’s name – Mabon he leaps to the ground with a shout of gladness.
Now Mabon plays a new rhythm, one that binds them together in love. In that moment, as Lady Mara and her Lord, Mabon, hold the Balance between them, sinking into a deep silence, the Tree shakes itself from its crown to its roots, and the Balance of Time is achieved once again.
Within that infinite moment of looking and loving, the Change blows through them. And then the Lord of Time and Lady of Life send out their song, and call their children to gather around the Tree. And the children come with the fruits of their labor, for the Balance being struck between the Light and the Darkness is the moment of Harvest for this beloved Earth. To the rhythm of Time, they come to offer the fruits of the year; and stand in the silence as the moment of balance flows away, the Light receding before the Darkness.
Lady Mara looks upon her children with love and sorrow, for the ways of the world are secret and holy, and not all of her children have believed the senses which tell them of the ways of Spirit. For her world is now entering into the dark times, the season when death and decay need to be faced so that new life can be born in the future. Of all her children gathered there, she can only hope that a few have gathered in a harvest worthy of the gifts she and Mabon bestowed upon them in the springtime of the year. For although the Balance has been struck, the Dark is rising and the hope of the New Year lay in the harvest gathered in now.
One by one, their children dance before their eyes to the rhythm of their names and the sounding of the drum. The first to come by is an older man, dignified and self-important, with empty eyes and babbling mouth. Around his neck hang the skulls of women and children, and the skulls cry out against him. His is a harvest of death and there are no seeds to be gotten from him. Mabon’s hands fly over the drumhead and the dancer is forced to twirl and gyrate until the cries of the skulls are silenced as the figure explodes into dust.
Twisting from side to side in frantic haste, a woman scurries around the circle, with wide-opened mouth and a hole where her heart should be. She grabs at the air and THINGS appear—clothes, food, jewels—which she immediately stuffs down her throat. Unfortunately, they fly right out of the hole in her chest. The more she eats, the more frantically she grabs. There will never be enough. Sorrowfully, Mabon plays deeply and widely as the THINGS she desires overwhelm her and she is eaten by their nothingness. No seeds there.
One after another, their children dance their harvests, and they are too often harvests of greed and destruction, unconsciousness and small-heartedness, and soon the Tree is surrounded by corpses and bones dancing themselves to dust.
But just as sorrow has achieved its full measure, a woman appears with a small child at her side. As they dance, Mabon and Mara hear the young mother tell her little girl a story about a great Tree whose branches stretch to the very heavens and whose roots are nourished by the dreams of the world, and the child laughs for pure pleasure. And the hearts of the Lady and Lord lighten with laughter, for here at last is a bountiful harvest, with seeds for the future. As the woman and child dance before their parents, the abundance of their harvest is made clear to them, and they accept their blessings with grateful hearts.
Next comes an older woman, weighed down with years, who bares the fruits of the earth in her hands, and it is good. With her are many others, bringing the healing herbs and food they nurture by their daylong toil, and all are accepted with great gladness as seeds for the future.
Soon a man appears, broad of shoulder, with strong hands that are good at making and building. He carries the things which his heart has imagined and his hands have crafted—he brings with him the beauty he has created. And the Lord and Lady smile with delight, for here is a true son, bearing the harvest of his soul. The man lays the work of his hands at their feet, seeds of the future.
With him are others, whose harvests are of the heart and the mind as well as of their hands, and their daylong labors are blessed. And these children dance on the bones and the dust of their brothers and sisters, and their seeds rest in the decay of the dead, to sleep their winter sleep.
And Mabon and Mara look out over the harvest and see that it is bountiful, and their hearts rejoice, for in the silence of the Balance of Light and Dark, the seeds of the future are singing their names. 


This story is from my book, Stories of the Earth: 8 Tales of the Wheel of the Year.   It's an eBook and you can buy it here: 
http://www.wisdom-of-astrology.com/public/page/books-stories-earth
 


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Captain Fantastic: Living, Breathing Truth

Captain Fantastic: Living, Breathing Truth

May the Light bless us all, and make true our tongues,
and truer our hearts, and truest of all our deeds.”
(Alison Croggon, The Riddle, p.64)

The new movie, Captain Fantastic, is fantastic because it actually tells us a story our world needs to hear and see and understand right now. And it tells it to us with beauty, grace, wit, sorrow and keen insight. It is a story about Truth and how we never know what that Truth really is until we fully live it, especially when it comes up against another's Truth.
The cast is amazing as well. Viggo Mortensen is intense as Ben, the father, wholly believing in his philosophy of our modern world. He's the old hippie, unwilling to bend to the world. He's dedicated to enriching his children's minds and hearts and bodies. He's a drill sargent, a college professor, a trickster and a loving father all roled into one character. As I mentioned. Intense. He believes in the rightness of his truth, even when others see it as wrong. He is a revolutionary and he is raising his kids to be revolutionaries as well. When he holds a celebration with his kids, it's called Noam Chomsky's birthday. Every time. Enough said!



The children are all a delight: training, learning, creating, being brave, speaking the Truth. The oldest, Bo (George MacKay ) is brilliant and brave and kind, and yet socially inept for an 18 year old. The two older sisters, Kielyr (Samantha Isler ) and Vespyr (Annalise Basso), both redheads, look and act like sisters, and both take on the older sister mothering role—fierce and creative and wise—very much as I imagine the priestesses of Artemis were back in ancient Greece. The troublemaker Rellian (Nicholas Hamilton ) is just as smart and creative as the others, but the secret Truth he knows is eating him up. The two youngest kids, Zaja, (Shree Crooks ) and Nai (Charlie Shotwell) are still young enough to show us the rigorous standards Ben sets for all of them, regardless of their ages or strengths. And how well they learn and prosper, especially when life, including sex, is explained to them matter-of-factly. Truth is the central value of this amazing family.
And then there is their missing mother. In a fairy tale, when the mother or queen is dead, it indicates a lack of the feeling values of life, the waters of life having vanished. There is something brittle about life without the nurturing Mother's presence. And so it is in this 'off the grid' primal paradise Ben and Leslie (Trin Miller ) created once she's gone. We discover that Leslie is being treated for bi-polar disorder. The kids miss her but Ben is stoic about it; she's sick. A fact is a fact is a fact... But as a astrologer, I'd rather think that she's got some Gemini doubts going on. We find out that she goes back and forth, changing her mind, about the rightness of this life they've created. She gets excited and then depressed about their life experiment. And the writer/director Matt Ross chose a perfect metaphor for the shadow aspect of this rigorous lifestyle—its extreme position gives rise to its opposite.
Every Truth has a shadow. Too rigidly holding to our Truth can hurt and even kill life.
When Leslie takes her own life, Ben and the children leave their Pacific Northwest forest home and travel down to Las Vegas (?) for the funeral. This is the journey and the testing for both Ben and the children. For Ben, we see that his memories of Leslie are all about her love for him. Is this the total truth or just part of it? For the children, we get to see how well they deal with the world their parents left behind. We see how they hold to their father's moral sense of right and wrong by stealing food from a store since there's no game off the roads to be killed and cooked. When they meet their aunt's family, we see the depth of their education and knowledge of life as opposed to two adolescent boys playing their video games and being jerks. As Ben says, his children will be philosopher kings – and queens.
But it's when they get to the funeral that we meet their biggest challenge. Their mother's parents. We've heard that their grandfather, Jack (Frank Langella ) doesn't want Ben at the funeral. So when he shows up with the children, we expect a showdown, which Ben percipitates by reading Leslie's will at the altar, which states she wants to be cremated and doesn't want to be buried by the Church. He is taken out of the church and the kids follow.
But the surprise comes when we see the love Leslie's mother Abigail (Ann Dowd ) has for Ben and the children. And that Jack loves them too. That's why he's going to sue for custody of them. He's worried for their safety. Then Rellian says he wants to stay with his grandparents. He's the most upset over his mother's death and the secret he's carried makes him turn against his father. The secret: that they argued over the life they'd created for themselves and the children. That Ben hadn't listened. And now Mom was dead.
This is what happens when we can't see how our Truth might not be someone else's truth. Perhaps Ben couldn't compromise his truth even though Leslie needed him to hear her. Something about their life was too hard and Leslie couldn't sustain it. But Ben wouldn't listen.
There is a feeling componant that is missing in Ben and his teaching and truth. It's only when the family tries to kidnap Rellian back and Vespyr gets hurt that he understands that his children are vulnerable and could be hurt by his truth. Then he steps away and actually cries for his wife and children. And that's when he gets everything back, even Rellian's love. Because Love is just as necessary as the Truth.
I won't spoil the movie by letting you in on what happens. But I will say that I was living in the desert when they filmed this movie and there's one shot of the night sky that I remember quite well. The Moon, Venus and Jupiter in Leo formed a bright triangle in the sky in June of 2015. Look for it in the movie. It's magical! You might also think about how we express our truth, faith and love in the most generous and open-hearted way. Isn't that what this movie is about? 


 
Speaking of this unusual configuration in the sky, I'd like to speak a bit about how this movie resonants with what's happening in our skies at the present moment. Once again, sychronicity comes into play. As Above, So Below. As Within, So Without.
Whenever we compare the connection between two planets, we talk of cycles because of their orbits around the Sun. Since November 26, 2015 (Thanksgiving), Neptune and Saturn have been at a roughly 90* angle to each other, in what we call a waning square. If you think in terms of the Moon's cycle with the Sun, it is like the last quarter Moon that rises after midnight. At this part of the cycle, we astrologers say that we have to face a crisis in consciousness, an important turning point in our beliefs. We have to look at what we know and believe and see if it's still viable. If you think of the cycle of a plant's life, this is the time when the plant dies and drops its seeds to be the beginning of a new cycle of life. What's important enough to seed the future?
This is what is happening between Neptune in Pisces and Saturn in Sagittarius. Saturn is at its last quarter square to Neptune while in the sign of the Truth-speaker and Truth-seeker. Sagittarius is where we look at Cosmic Law, the foundational truths of the universe we live in. Saturn sets limits and tests us to make us responsible for ourselves and our choices. In Sagittarius, Saturn asks us to stand up for our Truth. For what we really believe in. Of course, it is only our truth, perhaps a part of a larger Truth, so the test is how we use that truth to shape our lives.
Neptune in Pisces invites us into the world of Spirit and the Creative Imagination. On one hand, it takes us deep into the Collective Unconscious, those aspects of collective Life that our culture rejects and ignores, while on the other hand it invites us into the storehouse of Life, the repository of life experiences here on Earth, the Anima Mundi or World Soul.
The aspect between these two planets calls for some kind of action—the action of conscious choice. We can fall into delusions and illusion and martyrdom (Neptune in Pisces) about our beliefs and our truth (Saturn in Sagittarius) or we can open ourselves to new possibilities that our imagination shows us (Neptune again) and find ways to integrate this new awareness and possibility into our belief system (Saturn). That's what Ben ultimately does. He takes in both sides of the story and finds a new balance so the kids get to be both brilliant and socially adept. He does this by bringing in the feminine feelings that were missing before. He listened to his children and saw their needs.
This face-off between Neptune and Saturn is about our apparent reality vs. our true reality. The question is, 'What is true and what is false?', not just about American politicians but about our own lives. Sometimes we hold onto our truth without thought of real-life ramifications, like Ben does. Sometimes we can look at our truth and let our imagination take us to new places and new visions of that truth. Just like Ben does. The lesson of this Saturn/Neptune square is to value both realities and find the transcendent third way that Jung spoke about. It's about finding the balance.
This month of August will bring us face to face with the challenge of this Saturn/ Neptune square, as Mercury, Venus and Mars all come into contact with these energies. How will our minds (Mercury), our hearts (Venus) and our actions (Mars) address our Truth? These planets met for a 2nd time on June 17th and will meet for the 3rd and last time on September 10, 2016. We are faced with the cosmic task of finding and owning our Truth, because the planet is at a tipping point. Will we make true our tongues, and truer our hearts, and truest of all our deeds? This story, like the old mythic stories, can be a guiding light for that task.
Weaving the magical unity of Above and Below, I urge you to go out and see this marvelous film. And then think about your own relationship to your Truth.

From the Bard's Grove,
Cathy Pagano