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

Saturday, June 23, 2012



As we enter the astrological month of Cancer, we get to work with the archetypal energy of Mother and the birth of our emotional bodies, the ability to integrate our soul’s purpose into consciousness.  Cancer teaches us the value of emotional intelligence, creativity and nurturing, and works in us to help us feel secure in our own skin, because we are living our truth.  Cancer is a cardinal sign, coming at the turn of the seasons, and so it is action-oriented.  Cancer’s intuition picks up the surrounding ‘vibs’ and steps in to make things ‘better’.   Or that’s the intention.

The archetypal Great Mother gives birth to the Universe as well as to each one of us, and how we relate to the Great Mom tells us something about how we feel about ourselves.  The good Mother is one who loves us for who we are; the negative Mother rejects who we are. 

While we each have our own moms to contend with, we also come out of a cultural matrix (mother, womb).  And everyone born in the 1940s up to the present day has the same cultural matrix - the 60s!  Whether you were there or not, your emotional body has been shaped by your response to what happened in the 60s.  So no matter if you or your parents were hippies or yuppies or conservative Christians, the 60s are alive in you.   

For some, the 60s were a disruptive time when everything went to the dogs; for others, it is a continuing source of inspiration and hope.  It is obvious that the patriarchy is paired with the Negative Mother, sending out a negative message:  “Who among us is perfect enough that we no longer need the ‘fathers’ to guide us?”  The patriarchy is alive and well in our government institutions, busy trying to legislate how we can live and what we’re allowed to do.  But because the Great Mother returned to our consciousness in the 60s, especially when we saw ‘Earthrise’ from the Moon, the positive, loving Mother wants to let us know that She supports our growing up at last, encouraging us to take responsibility for our own lives and for each other.  She’s maturing our emotional bodies and turning us into adult human beings, all the while reminding us to stay young at heart and playful, creative and caring.

The Cosmic Story: The Return of the 60s: Let the Peaceful Revolution Begin

With the call for CHANGE getting louder and louder, is it any wonder we're all feeling the echoes to the 60's? 

I don't know about you, but I lived through the 60's and I just know they're back! It's a feeling, it's the similarities of social unrest – and it's something more cosmic. I know it because I know that a cycle that began in the mid-60s is coming up to a major crisis point in 2012 and the planets that create this cycle are now at 90* to each – a bending of energy that calls us to the Hero’s Journey to create change where it is needed. These energies stir up the pot – change is in the air. But what are we going to do about it? Because all the good energy in the world can go to waste unless We The People do something. 

There are many people who still question whether Astrology has any connection to this energy of change we're feeling. My astrologer friend Caroline Casey says, “Believe nothing. Entertain possibilities! Astrology is not a belief system; it is a [symbolic] language of the dynamic interplay between our interior life and the exterior world.” All we can do in the face of the immensity of life is to entertain possibilities. Why not imagine, for a moment, that these possibilities exist? That we are connected to our planet, to our solar system, to our galaxy, to each other. Scientists know that we are affected by the Solar cycle of sunspot activity as well as by the Moon's cycle.  If we really believe we are all made up of the same cosmic ‘stuff’ of creation, then it isn’t too far a stretch to entertain the possibility that we are influenced by each other, and by the planets.

Did you know that most of Western civilization's greatest philosophers and scientists were also astrologers? Check it out for yourselves.   I'm using information from an amazing, award-winning book called “Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a new World View” by Richard Tarnas, a professor of philosophy and depth psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Tarnas spent 30 years researching astrology, (at first to debunk it!) and came away with the view that there is a direct connection between planetary movements and the archetypal patterns of human experience. He explores the planetary cycles and how they play out in human cultural events. 

In the 60s, two planets aligned in the heavens in the earth sign of Virgo – Pluto, the planet that represents the archetypal energy of death, re-birth and evolution, and Uranus, the archetypal energy of revolution, innovation and freedom. They were joined during the exact conjunction in 1966 by an opposition from the planet Saturn, representing the archetypal energy of form, authority, maturity, frustration, and constriction in Pisces, the sign of the collective unconscious.  There was a cosmic call for the old forms (Saturn) to dissolve (Pisces) so new life could emerge.  A headline from the 60s that God is Dead was a sign of this dissolution.  Of course, the old ways didn’t want to die, and they made an even bigger grab for power as this new possibility started to grow.

In 2010, these three planets aligned again, expect now in a three-sided 90 degree aspect to each other. The alignment is one of tension which propels us into action.  And you can see what has resulted: the patriarchy is taking its last stand as we the people all around the world finally wake up to our own responsibility for creating a better world.  It is not governments which create change, it is people.  

Tarnas states: “I was encouraged to examine the possible existence of historical correlations with planetary cycles when I encountered a number of highly suggestive patterns in which certain cyclical alignments between the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) coincided with major historical events and cultural trends of a distinctive character, as if the specific archetypes associated with those planets were emerging on the collective level in periodic cycles.” (pg. 141, C&P) 

Because of the great distance of both Pluto and Uranus from the Sun and the Earth, their cycle is one of the longest between two planets, lasting anywhere from 113 to 142 years (because of Pluto's erratic orbit). When Tarnas went back to study what happened during proceeding conjunctions and oppositions of these two planets, he found that each time there were similarities of cultural expression – back to the times of Spartacus in ancient Rome! 

What Tarnas found was that the archetypal principles related to these two planets found full expression in the 60s. The planet Uranus correlates to Promethean characteristics: “emancipatory, rebellious, progressive and innovative, awakening, disruptive and destabilizing, unpredictable, serving to catalyze new beginnings and sudden unexpected change.” The planet Pluto is associated with Dionysian characteristics: “elemental, instinctual, powerfully compelling, extreme in its intensity, arising from the depths, both libidinal and destructive, overwhelming and transformative, ever-evolving... possessing a prodigious, titanic dimension, empowering, intensifying and compelling in whatever it touches on a massive scale.”(pg.142, C&P) 

Each time these two planetary energies synergistically merge, they produce “widespread radical social and political change and often destructive upheaval, massive empowerment of revolutionary and rebellious impulses, and intensified artistic and intellectual creativity. Other distinctive themes of these historical periods included unusually rapid technological advance, an underlying spirit of restless experiment, drive for innovation, urge for freedom in many realms, revolt against oppression, embrace of radical political philosophies and intensified collective will to bring forth a new world. “ (pg. 144, C&P)

Not only were these planets in a conjunction alignment during the 1960s, they were also in conjunction from 1845-1856, when there was a wave of revolutionary upheavals across Europe, China, Japan, India and the Ottoman Empire. When these two planets were in the opposition alignment from 1896 to 1907, many social and political movements were born – progressive labor movements, the Women's movement, the black civil rights movement and the beginnings of socialism. Before that, another opposition took place during the decade of the French Revolution, 1787 to 1798. The word “revolution' came into “wide use in the 1790s in its present meaning of sudden radical change of an overwhelming nature, bringing into being a fundamentally new condition.” (Pg 144, C&P). 

The revolutionary impulse during the 60s and the French Revolution wasn't confined to politics, but occurred in every aspect of cultural life: “in the music heard, the books read, the ideas discussed, the ideals embraced, the images produced, the evolution of language and fashion, the radical changes in social and sexual mores. It was visible in the incessant challenge to established beliefs and widespread embrace of new perspectives, the movements for radical theological and church reform and anti-religious revolt, the drive towards innovation and experiment that affected all the arts, the sudden empowerment of the young, the pivotal role of university communities in the rapid cultural shift. And it was evident above all in the prodigious energy and activism of both eras, the general impulse towards extremes and 'radicalization' in so many areas, the suddenly intensified will to construct a new world.” (P. 145, C&P) 

The revolution of the 60s was not a unique cultural event that will never be repeated, although for Baby Boomers, it was an utterly unique experience.  But it is being repeated now, on a higher level, if you will. We do have to continue the revolution.  But we can't get upset that it got sidetracked.  The old always tries to pull us back into its clutches before we really break free.  That's what I love about astrology.  Not that it sets up a certain 'fate' but that it works through cycles, and that lets us know that there are certain energies to contend with within the cycle.  The moon cycle is the best metaphor for it.  In terms of the 60s and this particular conjunction of Pluto and Uranus, we've been in a new moon through crescent moon phase, which means that the energy was first an unconscious upwelling of new ideas and energy and then, when we catch sight of what we really need and want to do, we are pulled back by all our fears and our conditioning.  It's at the quarter moon phase that we finally go on the hero's journey and make the break from the past. 
 Pluto and Uranus have just come to their first square aspect on June 24th; it is like the quarter moon phase of the lunar cycle. A square is a challenge – a call to action. The real Hero's Journey.  This is when we have to step up and stand for those values that we all proclaim we loved in the 60s.   What will make this next stage of the 60s revolution even more challenging is that the planets will be in Cardinal signs – the signs that signify the Solstices and Equinoxes. So it will be a dynamic and energized time, and it is vitally important to get it right this time. We will have to change the way our culture does business, by reigning in corporate power. We will have to grow up and become responsible, both as individuals and as a nation so we can save our environment. We will have to treat the rest of the human race, and other nations, as our equals, and understand that we are all in this together.   We might even have to take to the streets again, like our friends, the French.   If we do, the cosmic energies will be with us. 

Are you ready?

The Archetypal Bards:  How Muscians & StoryTellers Change the World

We have to go back to explore the archetype of the Bard, because it is really the music of the 60s/70s that changed us and still keeps us within the matrix of the 60s.   We need to understand why our artists are so important to our lives and to these times of change. Archetypes are the patterns that shape our human consciousness. They are the images of the instincts that make us human. The archetype of the Bard acknowledges our collective need to understand ourselves through images, to give coherence to our lives through stories and song. And because of that need within humanity, some people resonate with this archetype and are called to become the storytellers of their tribes. 

Bards help shape their societies by singing about the shared values of the tribe, teaching the next generation about their duties, their capabilities, and their place in the world. Stories from the desert speak of the need to share everything, for otherwise no one survives in the harsh landscape. The stories of the Celts shaped their view of warriors as being sensitive, boastful, brave and honorable. Troubadours of the Middle Ages shaped their society through their songs of courtly love. Bards are the ones who remember, the poets, the news-givers, the truth-speakers, and the visionaries of their people who see the truths of their times and give their people a perspective on them.  

Unfortunately, archetypes can lose their power and then they become stereotypes.  That’s when bards become entertainers.  Entertainers keep us entertained.  Bards wake us up to possibilities.

All ancient peoples had someone who represented this archetype of the Bard, the storyteller, the singer of songs. In those societies, Bards were highly honored, and they had the power and the responsibility to influence their people's beliefs. In our modern culture, our singers and storytellers are still honored with money and fame, although not many are worthy of being called True Bards. Those who are in it for the money and fame are the ones we call entertainers. Because most entertainers don't take their responsibilities as Bards seriously, we sometimes forget that our artists really have this power to teach us about our world, for the power of the Bard resides in the Imagination. 

The 60s Matrix: Yellow Submarine

The Beatles were true Bards.  There’s no question about that!  Their music was one of the most important sound-tracks of the 60s, and their musical imagination helped shape our response to life.  Their music still shapes our imaginations and opens us to possibilities.  Imagine our life now without the Beatles’ influence.  Would we want to ‘give peace a chance’, believe ‘all you need is love’ or even ‘Imagine’?  

While their music shaped our lives, the stories they told showed us our journey.  From Hard Day’s Night to Help! we saw 4 guys from Liverpool dealing with modern life and celebrity with humour and charm, intelligence and feeling.  But it was Yellow Submarine that let us in on their secret.  We all discovered that we each had a yellow submarine inside us, and we all took a dive into the collective unconscious to explore that unknown realm in the hopes of re-animating the music of life.  

1968’s Yellow Submarine was not only a visual and musical eye-opener, it was a psychological masterpiece.  It’s hard to believe that most people in the 60s didn’t even know about the psyche within each of us, or that we could become aware of who we are by looking within.  Our western culture had lost touch with the inner world in its search for outer facts.  The big revelation of the 60s was that we had an inner aspect of our personalities that needed to be explored and understood.  The 60s were all about a collective awakening that gave us tools for self-awareness.  What was once the province of religious dogma became the individual need to take an inner journey of self-discovery.   The Pluto/Uranus conjunction took place in the sign of Virgo, the sign that propels us to self-knowledge.  It is the sign that tells us how to belong to ourselves.  And that’s really the message of Yellow Submarine:  it is up to each one of us to stop our inner blue meanies.

Back in the 60s, there was no Oprah or Dr. Phil to turn us onto new tools for self-awareness.  Our musicians did it.  Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkle, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Beatles – to name a few.  They gave a shape to our new experience of freedom and self-awareness.    They helped us define ourselves as different from our parents.

Yellow Submarine did even more.  It gave us a whole story to understand the changes going on within our culture and within ourselves.

The story is mythic.  It begins in a paradise of affirmation and music, Pepperland.  Life is sweet.  People are content.  But then the Blue Meanies come along – the patriarchal bankers and politicians who take away our sense of community and possibility.  They turn everyone to stone, separating us from each other and from the music of life.  How many people today are taking anti-depressants?  Or are on heavy-duty drugs? Far too many.  The Beatles got that one right! 

Eleanor Rigby becomes the epitome of these frozen Pepperlanders.  “Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been, Lives in a dream. Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.  Who is it for? All the lonely people.  Where do they all come from? All the lonely people.  Where do they all belong?”

It’s Ringo, the lonely one, who ‘misses me mom’ and has ‘a hole in me pocket’, who can empathize with Fred, the captain of the Yellow Submarine, who is sent to find help for Pepperland.  Inner and outer meet and become aware that something is wrong.  Ringo brings Fred to the attention of the other Beatles, who are engaged in their own experiments in consciousness.  All those doorways leading . . .to worlds upon worlds.

When the Beatles go with Fred in the Yellow Submarine, they encounter parts of themselves, past, present and future.  And all the memories and monsters that inhabit our psyches.  And of course, that’s where they meet the NoWhere Man: the pure intellect which often only spouts gibberish.  But he’s lonely too, and compassionate Ringo brings him along to Pepperland.  This left-brain bore can help them, but only by mistake it seems.

Once back in Pepperland, Fred and the Beatles find the Blue Meanies have total control over the population.  And it’s only the Beatles and their music which can stop them.  When they awaken all the Pepperlanders from their collective blue meanie sleep, colour comes back into life and eventually, even His Blueness, the head Blue Meanie, is transformed by LOVE via our little nowhere man.  

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE becomes the battle cry as the Beatles re-awaken the archetypal band, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  A worthy anthem.  One we’ll need as we face the dying patriarchy in these next years of social unrest.  It echoes the June 5th, 2012 major Venus transit to the Sun.  This cosmic happening brought back an awareness of the Goddess’ love and signals that the Goddess has regained her voice!  So remember to speak with love in your hearts if you want to create change.  The Goddess is watching!

The last image in the movie is of a lotus growing and glowing with possibilities as the Beatles sing:  “When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me.  And the more I go inside, the more there is to see.  It's all too much for me to take.  The love that's shining all around you.  Everywhere, it's what you make.  For us to take, it's all too much.”
The Beatles got the message right.  We are losing our sense of beauty and community to the corporate story.  The Blue Meanies are once again attacking our way of life.  It is through fearlessly confronting these negative energies that destroy life – confronting them with Love – that we will win the day. 

Across the Universe: Going Back to theFuture

In the 40 years since the Yellow Submarine came out, our culture has become more psychologically astute.  We have the tools of consciousness at our disposal, but in becoming more self-aware, we seem to have lost the passion of youth and our ideals.  That’s where “Across the Universe” comes in.  It reminds us of what was happening during the 60s and how we really believed in the power of love to change the world.  We need that passion once again.

Julie Taymor's brilliant movie “Across the Universe” brought me right back to the 60's on a visceral level. This movie could have come right out of John Lennon's imagination: the movie could have been made by the Beatles – it has the feel of who they were and what they did together. So if John and George are listening from the Beyond, and to Paul and Ringo, I want to thank the Fab Four for giving us another chance to really hear their music and amazing lyrics, and re-visit their music's significance for all our lives during those wonderful, turbulent, tumultuous years.

Each of us can tell our own stories, but it takes someone bigger to shape and recreate our collective story. That's exactly what the Beatles did for us in the 60s.  As True Bards, their music still speaks to new generations.  Julie Taymor, the amazing director who created the Beatles rock opera “Across the Universe” is shaping up to be a True Bard as well. This movie re-awakens us to our collective story of change that we experienced in the 60's. It says our story is still with us. The question is what are we going to do about it?

If you haven't seen “Across the Universe”, run out and rent it right now. Besides its considerable high production values – the settings, the dances, the costumes - the feeling behind it makes it delightfully magical to watch!   It simply tells the story of the 60's as it unfolded within our psyches to the soundtrack of the Beatles' music. Their music shaped my consciousness as well as expressed what was going on inside me and everyone else I knew. And now my children and anyone else who loves the Beatles but weren't there for themselves can see how those times might have played out in our lives.

The story itself is simple and fun, yet complex and psychologically astute. If it was a novel, I'd say it was an historical fantasy. Part Beatle images and lyrics (one character says of another, “She crept in through the bathroom window.”); part semi-biographical (Sadie as a Janis Joplin character/Bono as a Ken Kesey/merry prankster character/a band (the Beatles?) playing music on a rooftop); part social commentary (draftees in formation carrying a Statue of Liberty on their shoulders are they trudge through the jungles of a miniature Vietnam singing “She's so heavy” from “I Want You”). Across the Universe” has it all. The raw emotions of the songs come out through the acting. It's a mesmerizing mix of social commentary and youthful longing, hope and love. 

Taymor's use of imagery is symbolically astute. The movie opens with images of wildly breaking ocean waves superimposed with images of social unrest, and then an image of a young woman – Lucy, our story’s love interest, but even more important, the awakened Feminine Spirit. Many people have dreams of tidal waves, and one of the symbolic meanings of these dreams is that the collective unconscious is stirring – all of our culture's repressed values and needs are rising up and overwhelming collective consciousness. And the beautiful young woman is an image of the New Feminine Spirit that is arising in the collective unconscious – a spirit that demands that we pay attention to the repressed feminine qualities of life – connection, compassion, intuition, feelings, nurturing, love and life. Taymor ends the movie with a heartfelt cry of “All You Need Is Love.” The rest of the story shows us how this is played out. 

The story itself is true to the 60s. An all-American teenager, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), leaves home to follow her older brother Max (Joe Anderson) to New York after her boyfriend dies in the Vietnam War. In Liverpool, Jude (Jim Sturgess) leaves his work in the shipyards and comes to New York and meets Max, and they all end up living at singer Sadie’s (Dana Fuchs) Greenwich Village apartment along with JoJo and Prudence. This youthful 'family' experiences the turbulence of the 60s together.  There’s na├»ve Lucy whose eyes are opened to the possibilities of life beyond her 50's, sheltered upbringing; adventurous Brit Jude who breaks away from his working-class roots to make it as an artist in New York; Lucy’s brother, Max, a college dropout who eventually gets drafted and sent to Vietnam; Sadie, a Janis Joplin-esque rock singer; her guitar-playing lover Jo-Jo, who comes from the riot-torn streets of Detroit; and a closet lesbian named Prudence. As these sympathetic characters go through the ups and downs of life in the 60's, we share their growing consciousness that the most important thing in life is LOVE. I left the movie feeling and knowing that this is still true.

2012 and Beyond

With this first of seven squares between evolutionary Pluto and revolutionary Uranus, we enter a new phase in the promised cultural transformation of the 60s.  The Cosmic Story assures us that change will come, although not without struggle and sacrifice.  The word sacrifice means to make sacred.  We are being called to a sacred task, because this next step in our human evolution has to be a conscious choice.  We have to choose to save our environment from further degradation.  We have to choose freedom and equality over an illusion of safety and comfort.   

We no longer have the luxury to sit back and wait for our governments and corporations to do the right thing. We have to do it for ourselves.  If corporations won’t change, we have to withdraw our support – i.e., money.  We do have power – they have given it to us because they need us to buy their poisonous products.  We need to learn other ways of taking care of our needs.  We have to stop being conspicuous consumers.  We did it in the 60s and we can do it again.

The Uranian/Promethean wake-up call is ringing in our minds, hearts and souls as we've witnessed the Plutonian revelations of truth about our government, our religious beliefs, our financial institutions and our technological advances.  Uranus in the sign of Aries calls us to our authentic Self.  Pluto in Capricorn asks us to demolish the patriarchal strictures and rules which govern our behavior.  Most of us will never be thin enough, beautiful enough or rich enough to be considered one of the elite of patriarchy.  So why not turn our backs on a system that will never really include us, except as humble worker-bees.  

 The next six squares of Pluto and Uranus will carry us far into the changes we seek.  We just have to open our imaginations and see what new life wants to be born as our old culture disintegrates.   Hopefully, our artists and bards will sing us the songs of hope and possibilities that await us on the far side of our challenge.  Pluto will be in the sign of Capricorn until 2024.  It is not going to be a quick or easy transformation, but with a strong vision and a compassionate heart, we can each play our part in birthing a new world.

The Beatles saw what needed to happen.  And so did Julie Taymor.  Go watch these movies and feel the spirit of the 60s come alive within you.  You’ll be glad you did!

It's time we got this Peaceful Revolution under way.

Blessings from The Bard's Grove,
Cathy Pagano


  1. As a writer, storyteller and folk singer I find this writing by Cathy Pagano. I am a child of the 1960's and never realized the archetypal invitation from Yellow Submarine.

    Thank you so much. I had to take a quote from this sharing and post it all over the internet. I have mentioned your site and recommended viewing it.

    Please keep writing these powerful and much needed invitations. May life and love bless you.

    Tony Cuckson

    1. Thank you Tony. I love passing on the archetypal framework of a story. We need to dive into the depths of each story instead of skimming the surface of many. In the old days, people took stories to heart as guides to life. Most of our stories don't do that. But thank the goddess, some still do! :)