personal transformation

Transits and Transformation: Turning Crisis into Healing

Art by Susan Seddon Boulet

Art by Susan Seddon Boulet

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.

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By | 2013-08-16T14:05:46+00:00 August 16th, 2013|Consciousness, Favorite posts, Lessons|5 Comments

Catastrophe and transformation

catastrophe Tower TarotI was browsing around for something when I came across a definition of the word “catastrophe”:

catastrophe (plural catastrophes)
1. Any large and disastrous event of great significance.
2. (insurance) A disaster beyond expectations
3. (narratology) The dramatic event that initiates the resolution of the plot in a tragedy.
4. (mathematics) A type of bifurcation, where a system shifts between two stable states.

As an astrologer, I am always curious about catastrophes in a person’s life, because there is nearly always something of great significance astrologically that provides clues to the nature of this apparent disaster.  I believe that when we are ignoring our lives or unable to face certain truths, the Universe will present us with a catastrophe to get our attention and create the change and transformation that is required.

In order to get there, though, we have to completely suspend our usual ideas of what is good and bad, life and death.  A horrible childhood event can serve as the tool to foster a lifetime of introspection and self-discovery.  A terrible accident can create a lifetime of pain, but also shock us into realizing that a change in our life is needed.  A natural disaster can wipe away a family, but allow us to put our grief to work in helping others.  A terminal illness will end a life, but can bring great richness and transformation to an entire family as well as the patient.

All of these events could be considered catastrophes in definition #1 described above: “a large and disastrous event of great significance.”  And certainly a disaster beyond expectations (#2), because most of us don’t expect to encounter these disasters – they sneak up on us and shock us into an altered state.

#3 is one of the most interesting, and it comes to us from the elements of Greek drama: The dramatic event that initiates the resolution of the plot.  Many of us become stuck in patterns and situations that we know are limiting us but we stay there out of fear or inertia.  A catastrophe can indeed be the dramatic event that initiates a type of resolution.

Catastrophe theory in mathematics is a little more obtuse but it still has an interesting connection to this discussion: “Small changes in certain parameters of a nonlinear system can cause equilibria to appear or disappear, or to change from attracting to repelling and vice versa, leading to large and sudden changes of the behaviour of the system.”  Here again we see the idea that a catastrophe plants the seeds of change.

The Tower card in the Tarot is a significator of this kind of catastrophe.  The Tower card is represented by the planet Pluto which presides over death and rebirth – destruction and regeneration.  In this card we see the Tower of the material world, representing all that we have accomplished, but which rests precariously on a craggy mountain which represents a supremely difficult spiritual challenge.  In order to accomplish the spiritual work, the Tower of materialism must fall.

The crown is falling from the Tower, showing that we must let go of our arrogance and righteousness during this process.  A bolt of lightning (Uranus – sudden and shocking experience) comes out of the blue to destroy all that we have built. In order to escape the destruction, a change of perspective (the people falling upside down from the Tower) is required.

To me, the biggest challenge in life is to face the reality of its tenuousness without fear and with trust in the Universal laws of consciousness and fate.  Astrology helps with this, because it can provide a context within which these supposedly meaningless events occur and offers a framework for understanding.

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By | 2013-04-26T07:11:08+00:00 April 26th, 2013|Fate, Favorite posts, Inspiration|8 Comments

To get the right answers, ask the right questions

I did a reading for a lovely woman the other day.  For years she has been working on her own personal transformation and learning techniques to help other people to evolve and connect with their own divine power within them.  When she talked about the work that she was doing and her excitement about shifting her work life into more transformative work like this her entire face lit up and it was clear that this was her soul work. Still, she lacks confidence and is afraid to take those steps to move forward and make this shift and the other changes in her life that are necessary to make this happen.  She told me, “I pray about it every day.”   In her prayers she has been asking “why am I still stuck, what is keeping me from moving forward.” Tony Robbins was a guru of mine as many of you know, and one of the most important lessons he teaches is that to get the right answers you have to ask the right questions.  If your questions run along the lines of “why am I always so stupid,” you will tend to reinforce the feeling stupidity because you will have an answer for why you continue to make the wrong choices.  A better question would be “What do I need to change so that I can make better and more intelligent choices.” I suggested to my client last week that she change her prayer and instead of asking for reasons why she is stuck, to instead ask for clarity around the next step that needs to happen in order for her to move forward into her dream. So if you’re feeling stuck and looking for the key to open the door to your own magical transformation, take a closer look at the questions you are asking.  By harnessing the power of language, we can shift our beliefs in what is possible, and open our awareness to  the unexpected.  And in that opening, the real questions, those that lie beneath the assumptions, can be answered.

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By | 2012-07-19T06:41:56+00:00 July 19th, 2012|Consciousness, Inspiration|2 Comments

Sunday inspiration: You are the custodian of the world within yourself

inner peace

“No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it. Thus it is impossible to ever compare two people because each stands on such different ground. When you compare yourself to others, you are inviting envy into your consciousness; it can be a dangerous and destructive guest.”

–John O’Donohue, Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Venus squares Chiron today, opening up old wounds around our own inner beauty or personal value.  These old wounds are like trapped birds – they seek release which leads to freedom and the soul’s purpose.  Don’t trap your wounded places – allow them to fly free and lead you to your own freedom and joy.

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By | 2012-07-08T11:08:13+00:00 July 8th, 2012|Inspiration|3 Comments

Sunday inspiration: Working with the Hierophant to create our destiny

My friend Beth Owls Daughter writes that 2012 is the Year of the Hierophant according to the Tarot numerology system. The Hierophant in the Tarot is traditionally associated with the Pope as a symbol for religious structures and dogma.

The word Hierophant comes from the ancient Greek that means ta hiera,“the holy,” and phainein, “to show.”  In ancient Greece the hierophant was the priest who interpreted the sacred mysteries and served as the bridge between the spiritual experience and the individual worshiper, just as the Pope later took on that role.  The word Hierophant is also considered an advocate, proponent and supporter.

Beth quotes Caitlin Matthews (creator of the Arthurian Tarot)

The ancient Tarots make this card a Pope, while the more recent ones return to an older tradition of the hierophants of the Greek Mysteries.  Both Pope and Hierophant draw upon earlier traditions and represent important concepts. Drawing upon pre-Christian Roman religion, the Pope is called the pontiff or bridge who, in his own person, bridges this world and the other.

The ancient Mystery Religions were largely about the revelation of myth through dramatic representation or sacred ritual.  This is still an important part of our divinatory profession whereby the Tarot-reader bridges the everyday and the deep worlds for the client, through the medium of the cards’ story.

Beth also posts a Tarot spread created by Ms. Matthews to work with the energy of the Hierophant, the arbiter of the “Triple Crown” as she says of Fate, Free Will and Destiny. If you are a Tarot aficionado you may want to try this spread, but we can all use Caitlin’s outline of this spread as a map to unwind our past so that it lays out before us as a map to our future, without using a single Tarot card.

Wisdom of the Years Behind Me.

Begin by making a list of everything you have learned from the experiences that you have been through during your lifetime.  We often find that the most difficult and intense times of your life (often denoted by transits of Saturn and Pluto) are the times in which we gained the most insight and wisdom and deep understanding.

Sometimes it helps if we begin by listing the most intensely powerful and challenging experiences of our life, and then extract the gifts that came out of those experiences.

How I Wisely Traverse 2012

While there is nothing particularly significant astrologically for the year 2012, this is the year that Uranus and Pluto make their first exact square after coming close in the summer of 2011.  When the revolutionary (Uranus) and the destroyer and rebuilder (Pluto) face off in battle, the result is often intense and always involves endings and new beginnings.

What in your life are you ready to let go of?  Where is change needed in your life, and what do you need to do in order to achieve a flexibility of spirit so that this transformation can occur?

The Wisdom of the Years Ahead of Me

When you look ahead along the timeline of your future, what do you see?  Is the future blank and filled with fear?  Do you see a long and open road that is ready to be populated with people events?  Do you have a dream, a vision or an idea that can carry you into your future?

Whether or not we have a vision for the future, we will create it out of what we carry in the present.  Creating a vision for our future timeline is not the same as making a plan: the work of visioning requires a higher and broader view and a desire for a sense of purpose.  The transformation of the Uranus and Pluto square will continue through 2015.  Consider where you would like your life to be when this Great Transformation period is complete.

This Tarot spread also lays out three defining tools:

The Hand I’m Dealt (Me and my Fate)

In the astrological language, the hand we’re dealt is the birthchart.  This defines the potential of our personality and whether certain areas of life will be difficult for us or easy and harmonious.  Modern-day astrologers have learned that fate and destiny are two different things, and our free will is the determining factor of how one becomes the other.  The family we are born into, the circumstances over which we had no control – these are our fate.  What we do with that fate is up to us.

Looking along the timeline of your past, how can you define this hand that you were dealt?  What are the tools that you were given either to facilitate your progress, or to create challenges for you to overcome?

The Game I Play (Me and my Free Will

How we play the cards we are dealt is up to us.  Say you were beaten by your father.  Are you going to allow that experience to create bitterness and rage that will destroy your relationships and your future?  Or will you seek the help that you need to find the empowerment and compassion from the experience that can help you to become a mentor and healer?

This is where the path of Life becomes interesting.  We read about Free Will every day in the newspaper: how some people surpass incredibly horrific life experiences to accomplish great things, and others turn to a life of crime.  It’s all a question of how we play the game with the cards we’re given.

The Hand I Create (Me and my Destiny)

The question over whether or not we have any control over our Destiny is a thorny one and has been the subject of much debate.  Most dictionaries define Fate and Destiny as being synonymous, but my own belief is that they are quite different.

Using this triad of experiences, our Fate is the hand we are dealt, and our Destiny is created by how we play the Game.  Through the Free Will we have been given, we can make choices in our life that can alter the trajectory of the life that we are living.  In my theology, our higher self and celestial teachers assist in this process, speaking to us like the proverbial angel on the shoulder, helping to guide us towards the Right Actions that will help our destinies to unfold.

Most of us spend a great deal of our lives listening instead to the little devil on the shoulder which urges us to react in habitually patterned responses rather than break free of those bonds.  It takes wisdom and attention to learn to tell the difference between those two voices.

Where has your own voice of old habits and patterns held you back from making the transformations that are needed?  Where can you make better choices which will help you to break through the blocks to bring you closer to your own Destiny?

This is a beautiful exercise for the New Year and I thank Beth and Caitlin for their inspiration.  Please share your experience in the comments!

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By | 2012-01-15T06:39:27+00:00 January 15th, 2012|Fate, Inspiration|4 Comments