A few weeks ago I went to Dulcimer Week at the Swannanoa Gathering, which is a series of music workshops held at a wonderful little college outside of Asheville.  I’ve been taking hammered dulcimer lessons for about a year and a half, and it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Even harder than learning astrology!

I’ve always been fairly musical (Neptune is conjunct my Sun within one degree) and with Gemini rising I like to say I’ve forgotten more instruments than most people ever learn.  Gemini needs constantly new input and gets bored easily.  But then I also have Saturn on my Sun, so while Neptune is inspiring me to channel the divine inspiration, Saturn is always telling me I can’t do it.  Plus all three are in my fifth house of creative self expression, making the whole thing that much more complicated.  And to put the icing on the cake, Uranus makes a square to all three and provides the urge to flee when things get too hard.

Anyway, the hammered dulcimer is a gorgeous instrument but I have had trouble understanding the way it’s mapped out, which is unlike any other instrument.  I have a great teacher, luckily, and take lessons every week like a good Saturn girl (applying diligence and discipline).  But I am not a good practicer (Sun square Uranus, Gemini rising).

So at the workshop, surrounded by all of these fabulous players (as well as beginners) I had a crisis of confidence.  That voice of Saturn became very loud:  “You’ll never be good enough,” “If only you had practiced all this time,” “You might as well quit.”  I became very depressed with all that negativity bouncing around in my head.

Then I sat myself down and reminded myself what I always tell my clients about what Saturn wants.  Saturn wants us to work hard, to be disciplined.  Saturn wants us to be successful, and to be focused on our goals so that we can achieve them.  Saturn wants us to make a plan.

So I trotted myself down to the student bookstore and bought a nice notebook and began a practice journal.  I made a list of all of the drills and exercises that I should do, and created a practice plan to keep me on track.  Boring and dull, but I’ve been using it for the past two weeks fairly diligently, and I have to say I’ve seen a big boost in my playing.

So now Saturn is happy, and Neptune is happy because I’m making music that is more beautiful and effortless than before.  But I still have to keep Uranus happy or he’ll begin to make trouble, so I play something new every day to break out of the routine a bit.  And to keep my Gemini ascendant happy I break up my practice time into small segments of no more than 10-15 minutes.

Most of us have complicated charts with planets that don’t get along well together.  Once we see who the players are behind the emotions, it’s much easier to learn to integrate the various parts of ourselves and achieve greater harmony and effectiveness in our lives.

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