As humans, we tend to think that happiness is better than sadness, that good luck is better than bad. We may avoid difficult confrontations and pursue more comfortable situations. When tragedy strikes our well-protected lives, we shout out to our god of choice: “How could you do this to me??” We believe that our birthright is the pursuit of happiness, and we spend our lives trying to protect ourselves from sorrow.
The soul, however, has a different journey. The soul travels an ancient evolutionary path that seeks wisdom and connection with the divine. Often in our desire to defend ourselves from discomfort, we erect barriers within ourselves. Often we become so effective in compartmentalizing our emotions we become cut off from our very selves, our soul and our spirit.
In astrological terms, the orbiting planets form geometric angles to our birthchart planets, or “transits.” Each transiting planet has its own nature, its own personality and its own purpose-calling upon us as the ancient gods they represent to bring forth something in ourselves that has been lost. The inner planets move quickly: a transit of Venus will encourage relationships and creativity, a transit of Mars demands that we defend ourselves appropriately. Easy Jupiter transits can bring financial opportunity, or liberate us from difficult situations, whereas the challenging transits can cause reckless and risky behavior. The outer, or transpersonal planets, including Saturn which acts as the bridge between the personal planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter) and transpersonal (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), take much longer to traverse the zodiac and therefore their effects are felt for a longer period of time.
The planets in our birthchart also “progress” through time, particularly the inner planets which move more quickly. The placement of the planets in our “progressed” chart offer additional information about the person that we have become; this serves as a transparent overlay that defines us at this moment in time. The relationship of the planets in our progressed chart to our birthchart offers additional information about our current situation.
These transits can initiate great opportunities and personal distress for us, but even in the most difficult of crises, hidden in the pain is a gift that opens the doorway into the realization and connection of the soul. Each planet can be identified as a god demanding us to delve deep within ourselves. Encounters with these gods through the challenging planetary transits (squares and oppositions) bring burdens, but also offer great gifts. In making an offering to these gods, we are better able to receive their gifts of transformation.
The myth: Saturn was the son of Uranus (heaven) and Gaia (earth). During his rule he created the division of time and the seasons, establishing cosmic order and history. Saturn, fearing that his children would depose him, swallowed each child at birth. His last child, Zeus, eventually overpowered Saturn in a great war and imprisoned him in the Tartarus, a dark gloomy region at the ends of the earth.
The burden: Saturn places restrictions and obstacles before us, making it difficult to move forward in our desired direction. We may feel sad, lonely, and weighed down by an overwhelming sense of inertia. Saturn is the god of time, telling us that time is fleeting and we must take our lives seriously. He wants us to be responsible, to respect society’s structures. He is the difficult father that can instill insecurity and self-doubt. During a Saturn transit we often feel dark and lonely, mirroring Saturn’s gloomy imprisonment. The structures and rules that Saturn values so much can feel oppressive. We are likely to experience difficulties in our daily lives: back pain, dental problems, automobile breakdowns – events that limit our ability to move forward as we desire.
The gift: Saturn is like the Beast in old fairy tales; behind his ugly and fearful exterior lies the Handsome Prince. Herein lies the alchemy over which Saturn presides: the psychospiritual process in which pain and difficulty leads one to greater wholeness and integration. Saturn is not stingy in his rewards when we delve deep and obey his call for introspection and discipleship. The limitations and obstacles are simply tools to encourage us to look within and convert the lead of our existence into the gold of increased awareness.
The offering: When we enter into discipleship with Saturn, we discover the truth about ourselves and our nature. Saturn demands that we look deeply into our motivations, our desires, and our truths. Spend as much time alone as possible, journaling, examining the structures of your life and look at ways they can be improved. Offer up a plan for the future and Saturn will reward you with spiritual and material success. Open gently the doors to feelings of sadness and insecurity; this is the base material for the alchemical process. When you face your darkness with courage, you allow the light to enter and Saturn’s blessings will certainly follow.
The myth: Uranus was the sky god married to Gaia, the earth mother-god. Uranus ruled the limitless space of the heavens. He and Gaia had many children, all of them odd and deformed: the giant Titans, the Cyclopses, and monsters with multiple limbs and heads. These children did not meet his ideals, and Uranus forced them back into Gaia’s womb (the earth). Ultimately his son Saturn castrated Uranus , symbolizing an archetypal battle between these two gods.
The burden: Uranus demands freedom of expression, revolution against repression, an idealistic utopia. Uranus rattles our cages, pressuring us to remember that we are creative and unique individuals. If we cling tooo tightly to Saturn’s structures and the security they bring, the challenging Uranus transits can increase anxiety and shake our very roots. We may suddenly crave changes in all structures of our life and experience insomnia and restlessness.
The gift: Uranus offers the gift of individual freedom and new beginnings. Uranus often provides brilliant insights and breakthroughs of awareness. A veil is lifted, and we are able to see past our fears to more freedom, an ideal life that better suits the person we have become.
The offering: Uranus requires us to let go of old habits, routines and structures that keep us from actualizing our potential. It demands that we open our minds to new ideas, new visions. It floods us with electrical energy and asks that we channel it into new pathways of thought, of feeling, and of living. Think outside the box; imagine new ways of structuring your life that serve your own unique potential.
The myth: Neptune was the brother of Pluto and of Jupiter, and after the three brothers overthrew their father Saturn, Neptune received dominion over the seas. Neptune was known not only for his watery domain, but also for his legendary rage which caused him to create great storms with his trident and gave him control over earthquakes. Neptune had many lovers, but fell desperately in love with the water nymph Amphitrite who later became his wife.
The burden: Neptune commands the dissolution of ego and the yearning of the individual for a divine experience. During a challenging Neptune transit, the dissolving process can be confusing and disorienting and leave us vulnerable to fantasy and deception. In our search for the divine we may seek solace in drugs or lose ourselves in excessive media exposure. We are more likely to be deceived at these times due to a temporary inability to discriminate between fantasy and reality. We may be overly empathetic and lose our sense of self.
The gift: Neptune unites the soul and the self with the divine and facilitates the ascension process. During a transit of Neptune we have a direct doorway into the wisdom of the unconscious. Our dreams speak loudly to us if we listen, and provide information from the collective unconscious as well as our own subconscious mind. Neptune also offers the gift of empathy, psychic ability, artistic creation and music.
The offering: Neptune calls upon us to dissolve the boundaries of our individual ego and merge with the consciousness of the divine. We can honor Neptune by spending time in meditation and contemplation, and in body/mind/spirit activities such as yoga or tai chi that will unite and align us with the wisdom of our inner selves. We can ask to recognize where truth lies so that we can follow Neptune’s higher road of spiritual awareness. Neptune’s gift is none other than realization of the individual soul.
The myth: Pluto is the god of the underworld, of death. Pluto owned a helmet that rendered him invisible, and he left no traces on the earth. Pluto is also the god of wealth and bestower of riches. He was often portrayed as being deaf to prayers and unappeased by sacrifices. He fell in love with Persephone and abducted her into the underworld, making her his queen and demonstrating that he wasn’t completely without heart.
The burden: In psychological astrology, Pluto represents the will of the higher self, the transpersonal self. Pluto’s realm is empowerment and transformation; he is unconcerned with our individual desires and plans. Transits of Pluto instigate death and rebirth, endings and beginnings. A Pluto transit can feel like a tornado in which one’s entire world is picked up, spun about, and dropped in a completely new and different place. Pluto takes us into the underworld and forces us to view emotions and qualities that have long been buried in the unconscious.
The gift: Pluto offers nothing less than complete spiritual evolution, the release of the caterpillar into the divine destiny of the butterfly. Pluto is the god of buried treasure – he reveals the ugliest aspects of our nature: jealousy, aggression and rage, revealing our true inner power that lies beneath. He forces us, often kicking and screaming, to let go of those aspects of our life that no longer serve our empowerment process, freeing us to realize our greatest potential.
The offering: Pluto insists that we step aside to let him facilitate our transformation. He demands that we trust the process, to let go of our own desires and plans for our future and allow the transformation to take place. Surrender is the key here, and a desire for wisdom. A Pluto transit may bring us the ultimate power struggle – that between the will of our higher self for transformation and our own individual desires.
The synchronicity inherent in the cycles life offers us many opportunities as well as challenges. Understanding the nature of these cycles provide insight that can assist us in our own evolutionary process.