The limits of positive thinking

positive thinkingWhile Pluto was in Sagittarius (1995-2008) optimism and positive thinking (Sagittarian traits) rose to an art form.  Pluto tends to bring a compulsive drive to any sign that it travels through, and while a certain degree of optimism and positivism is a good thing, the benefits of this kind of thinking end when other feelings are pushed into the underworld of the psyche.

Having worked a great deal to perfect my own positive thinking apparatus, I know very well how powerful changing your thought patterns can be.  When Pluto entered the more dour and practical sign of Capricorn in 2008 many found it difficult to maintain the habits of positive thinking and started to fall into fear and despair as the life they knew during the economic downturn began to spiral down along with the economy.

What I have learned in my own journey to transform my life is that along with changing our thought patterns we must honor and release the negative emotions that cloud our lives.  We can’t just ignore them or pray them away.  These old hurts and sadness and frustration and rage linger in the body until they can be processed through the psycho-emotional system and released.  These emotions and feelings are our teachers.  They are the debris that remain after painful experiences which we would just as soon forget so that we can more fully understand what happened to us.  This is the role of Chiron in the birthchart – to trigger these old feelings so that they can be processed and healed.  Chiron’s archetype is the mentor – the teacher who having undergone great trials gains great understanding and is able to impart wisdom to others.  These skills come after the healing of the wounds by which Chiron is well known.

My sister told me the other day that her book club is reading a book called Positivity so I looked it up.  The author proposes that if your ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions is 3-1 you will flourish and achieve success in the world.  This makes perfect sense and there is no doubt that cultivating positivity from the outside in, “acting as if” to change your thought and habit patterns, is a powerful step to change.  But this kind of system fails to provide a tool for reaching the darkness in the psyche and transforming the painful places that keep us from being able to embody that positivity in a real sense.

The author of the Positivity book was involved in some interesting research:

The varied good outcomes empirically linked with positive affect support the broaden-and-build theory, which asserts that positive emotions are evolved psychological adaptations that increased human ancestors’ odds of survival and reproduction (Fredrickson, 1998). The theory holds that unlike negative emotions, which narrow people’s behavioral urges toward specific actions that were life-preserving for human ancestors (e.g., fight, flight), positive emotions widen the array of thoughts and actions called forth (e.g., play, explore), facilitating generativity and behavioral flexibility. …

The theory holds that in contrast with the benefits of negative emotions—which are direct and immediately adaptive in life-threatening situations—the benefits of broadened thought–action repertoires emerge over time. … Positivity, by prompting approach and exploration, creates experiential learning opportunities that confirm or correct initial expectations. By contrast, because negativity promotes avoidance, opportunities to correct false impressions are passed by (Fazio, Eiser, & Shook, 2004). These findings suggest that positive affect—by broadening exploratory behavior in the moment—over time builds more accurate cognitive maps of what is good and bad in the environment. This greater knowledge becomes a lasting personal resource.

Although positive affect is transient, the personal resources accrued across moments of positivity are durable. As these resources accumulate, they function as reserves that can be drawn on to manage future threats and increase odds of survival. So experiences of positive affect, although fleeting, can spark dynamic processes with downstream repercussions for growth and resilience.

Despite the fact that this research has been “debunked,” I have no doubt that this is true.  Seeing a silver lining in every cloud is tremendously beneficial for moving through difficult life experiences.  However, in attempting to live this way we often fail to face our demons and challenges which can hold us back in the long run.  In my Visioncrafting work we seek out that darkness and those negative emotions so that we can transform them into a framework of positivity rather than ignore them, avoid them, or stuff them in a corner of the psyche. (This link goes to a self-guided workbook that you can use on your own to effect lasting change.)

By | 2016-08-22T07:36:09+00:00 August 22nd, 2016|Life|0 Comments

New book on healing trauma is wrong!!

Chiron healingMany of you know that the process of healing trauma is the domain of Chiron and as such is an important part of the work I do with clients as well as an important focus in my own life.  When Chiron was first discovered we astrologers believed that Chiron represented the unhealable wound, but during 30 plus years of readings I realized that these wounds DO heal, but it’s not a simple process.  They don’t just magically go away but instead require a conscious embrace and welcome of the old feelings and emotions into a mindful release.

This kind of healing of trauma is now called Somatic healing.  One of the first practitioners to use this approach, and the first I heard of, was Peter Levine whose first book Waking the Tiger introduced a radical new approach to trauma therapy.  In this approach the patient is encouraged to awaken the fears that have been numbed by the body’s response to trauma so that these feelings can be processed and the trauma released, exactly as I have for years talked about the Chironic effect.  Somatic healing is now widespread and a valuable tool in the arsenal of therapists working with patients with PTSD.

So I was distressed to hear about David Morris’s book on his own PTSD experience (The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in which he states “There is no cure for trauma.  Once it enters the body it stays forever.”   Mr. Morris was an embedded journalist during the war in Iraq and having observed countless deaths and all manner of frightening events returned home with a severe case of PTSD.

I myself have been working to heal my own PTSD for most of my adult life.  It is an onion that I continue to peel, with multiple layers and levels of healing and transformation.  But it is a mistake to believe that trauma is locked in the body forever.  Dr. Levine reports that after a traumatic event the energy of the event is locked into the body memory and trapped until it can be released.  Energy healers know that this locked energy becomes stuck in the body’s energy centers where it can create not only mental and emotional distress but also physical disease and chronic pain.

I have said for years that it is the work of Chiron to trigger this body memory so that the energy of these old wounds and traumas can be released and healing can occur.  Transits of Chiron to sensitive points in the birthchart can activate the body/mind system to release bits of stuck energy in the form of emotion, and if we allow these feelings to emerge they can be released permanently.  This is why I call Chiron the “Soul Healer.”

I would never argue the fact that when one is in a state of post traumatic stress it certainly feels that it will never end.  It feels that you will never be able to function as a normal human again. But these feelings are not reality, and sometimes we find that the greatest traumatic event eventually turns out to bring the gift of wisdom, transformation and ultimate healing.

By | 2015-02-04T06:04:53+00:00 February 4th, 2015|Health & Healing|4 Comments

Chiron is different from anything else in the Universe

Chiron astrology art by James Mesple.  The mythological Chiron was a creature that was half man and half horse, so he is often lumped together with other Centaurs who share those physical attributes.  Astrologers sometimes classify him as an asteroid (his original astronomical classification), and astronomers sometimes describe him as a comet because he exhibits comet-like behavior.  You can read more about Chiron’s classification here in this earlier post.

The Centaurs of Greek mythology were actually tribes of beast-like men who roamed through Thessaly and the Pelopenessian peninsula in ancient times.  Although Chiron was similar in appearance, because he was half horse half man, he was of a different lineage entirely.  His father was Cronos (Saturn) and his mother was the nymph Philyra.  Chiron’s bestial shape was due to Cronos having shapeshifted into a stallion in order to overtake and mate with Philyra, the object of his great desire.   So while Chiron shares a similar imagery to the race of Centaurs, he is completely unrelated.

In the same way, Chiron is very different from the other astronomically classified Centaurs. Most important is the location of his orbit which generally lies between Saturn and Uranus although that orbit is elliptical and peculiar.  Barbara Hand Clow has called Chiron the “Rainbow Bridge” between the personal planets (the visible planets through Saturn) and the transpersonal planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto).  The personal planets represent personality, and the outer planets are transformational forces.  Chiron serves the role of facilitating transformation through the healing of problems in the personality.

In mythology Chiron is often described as the wisest of the Centaurs, but in my mind this is erroneous on many levels.  Since he was not one of the Centaur race, his wisdom is in a category unto itself and unrelated to the Centaurs.  He was fostered by the god Apollo and became a mentor to the ancient Greek heroes and the tutor to Asclepius, god of medicine. He inspires the kind of wisdom that only life experience and conscious understanding of our inner wounds can reveal.

There are not many astrologers who work with the other astronomically classified Centaurs, and we are just beginning to learn what significance they offer to the astrological chart.  Pholus and Nessus seem to be the major Centaurs that are in use at the moment, although with new planetary bodies being discovered every day the landscape of potential symbolism is virtually unlimited.

Still, there is no doubt in my mind that Chiron is a unique key to understanding the challenges that we face today, in the twenty-first century, to grow and evolve beyond the limits of our past and move with greater freedom  into a new and unique future.

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By | 2013-04-30T07:01:06+00:00 April 30th, 2013|Astrology, Favorite posts|9 Comments

New Moon in Cancer, July 18/19th 2012. Prepare to be revealed!

Cancer new moon 2012 We have had a couple of intense weeks between the square between Uranus and Pluto (discussed in numerous places on this blog) and a strong influence of Mars setting off a series of planets over the past week or so. This intensity is embedded in the chart of the New Moon in Cancer on the 19th (18th in any time zone west of Eastern time). The New Moon offers an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin anew, and in Cancer we find ourselves discovering emotional depth that we may have ignored in the past. Cancer rules the inner world – our feelings, our desire to nurture and be cared for, our tribal identifications such as to family or country. The Cancerian New Moon is extra sensitive, and with Mars in an awkward in conjunct to Chiron during the New Moon this may not be the most comfortable time emotionally. Feelings are being elicited from us that may leave us feeling exposed and raw (Mars), but it’s all part of the energetic shift that is helping us to release some of the emotional sheathing that is no longer needed and which may be holding us back from the kind of energetic transformation that is occurring now. Saturn is challenging the New Moon, so some kind of focused plan or effort will be required to navigate this lunation (lunar event). Honoring this time of sacred new beginnings by creating a solid intention will help to integrate Saturn in a way that is useful and beneficial, especially since Jupiter embraces us with positive energy at the New Moon. Meanwhile a beneficial aspect from Jupiter to Uranus helps us to gain greater understanding at the higher level, and a pleasant trine from Mars to Jupiter gives us the confidence and enthusiasm we need to embrace these changes and look forward to the positive effects they will bring. A challenging square from Jupiter to Chiron is just beginning to make itself known at the New Moon but will culminate on the 24th. For a week or so before and a few days after that date we may feel particularly sensitive as the urge for freedom (Jupiter) rushes to heal old wounds (Chiron) perhaps a bit before we feel we are ready. Jupiter opens the doors to liberation, so while this heightened sensitivity isn’t comfortable, it can be the key to personal freedom. New Moons are times to create something new, so look inside your life to see where a fresh new beginning is ready to make itself known. For more planetary news visit my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Image credit: beawolf / 123RF Stock Photo

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By | 2012-07-17T21:23:17+00:00 July 17th, 2012|Moon|4 Comments

Musings on “higher octave” planets

higher octave planetsby Lynn Hayes

Mercury and Uranus both turn retrograde next week so I thought it might be a good idea to begin with a discussion of the concept of “higher octave” planets since Uranus is known as the higher octave of Mercury, and that is important to understand when looking at their tandem retrogradation this month.

The personal planets, representing aspects of personality, are the planets that are visible in the sky.  Saturn forms a natural boundary to the personal planets, which is in itself an interesting symbology since Saturn rules boundaries and limits, as well as the practical material world.  The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) represent transformational forces – they transpersonalize our experiences and bring us into a greater connection with the Universal laws of spirit and metaphysics.

The outer planets most commonly thought of as “higher octave” planets are Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.  These transformational planets are associated with the three planets closest to the Sun: Mercury (associated with Uranus), Venus (associated with Neptune) and Pluto (associated with Mars).  Where Mercury represents the mind and personal awareness, Uranus expands that awareness to a broader consciousness of Universal Mind.  Where Venus represents love and personal relationships, Neptune inspires us to open our hearts to Divine Love and a relationship with the Universe itself.  Where Mars represents our personal will and desires, Pluto represents the will of the higher self –   urging us to drop any pretense of limitation and evolve into our most empowered Self.

In this model, the principle of Saturn stands at the guardian of the gates and in order to elevate from the lower octave to the higher, the boundaries of the material world (Saturn) must be transcended.

In my view Ceres, the long-suffering female goddess who was relegated to asteroid status until she was suddenly reclassified with Pluto as a transformational force back in 2006, is the higher octave of the Moon.  Ceres relates to nourishment of the body but also the soul in its focus on our connection to Gaia, the earth, elevating the nurturing of the emotional realm that the Moon oversees.

Chiron, the Soul Healer, serves as a bridge between the personal and the transpersonal.  It is a maverick in the solar system – neither planet nor comet nor asteroid, it is a unique body that has a uniquely original place in the astrological pantheon.  Chiron induces the healing crises that help to move us through our incarnation and heal the wounds of the past that create blockages in the bodymind spirit system.  Chiron inspires transformation, but is not itself tied to any other transformational force.

Mercury and Uranus will turn retrograde at the same time this month, and tomorrow we will discuss the implications of that event.

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By | 2012-07-11T07:36:28+00:00 July 11th, 2012|Astrology|11 Comments