Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Kundalini Rising - the Serpent as Villain or Saviour?

Humanity, it seems, is in the throes of rapid change. We are in a new age that is seeing our consciousness evolve and unfold at an increasing rate. Many of us now have access to more information than at any other time in known history. We're processing more than ever before and consequently propelling ourselves forward through greater knowledge and shared insight. But why now? And where is it all leading? Are we merely overloading our minds with banal facts and useless data? Or are we expanding our collective awareness, enabling a better understanding of our existence and place in the Universe? To find out, we need to journey right back to some of the first stories told by our ancestors and the imagery and themes they used, specifically that of the serpent

The Serpent

What do you think of when you see the image of a snake? What ideas or beliefs come to mind? Chances are they will be associated with temptation, cunning, deceit, danger, vengeful behaviour and even the concept of sin or the personification of evil itself. Yet serpents have featured prominently in human culture from the earliest of civilizations and have not always been solely associated with negative forces. In fact the snake, or serpent, is one of the oldest and perhaps most conflicted of symbols known to humankind, used in ancient ritual and mythology on almost every continent. By delving into its rich history, an intriguing and mystifying creature begins to take shape.

The Snake in the Tree

Perhaps the most infamous account of the serpent is the Christian story, from the book of Genesis, where Satan - the enemy of the Christian God, appears as a snake. He tempts the first humans in the Garden of Eden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, thereby obtaining awareness. This incident is said to have led to the fall of mankind, in that humans were subsequently cast from paradise so as not to eat from the Tree again. It is also known as the original sin or the act that introduced humankind to sin, corrupting the natural world. Eating the fruit only made Adam and Eve more aware, which in itself is not necessarily bad. But if they (early humans) were not ready to comprehend what God knew then it could have lead to trouble - akin to handing children advanced technology, beyond their understanding, without any instruction or guidance. 

Nevertheless the idea of the snake, as an embodiment of evil, has continued to hold sway for centuries due to the spread and dominance of Christianity. It is fair to say that the symbolism of the serpent has been somewhat tainted by this story - although perhaps intentionally and for a good reason? Other religions and older cultures, however, did not always view the snake in such a black and white manner.

The Gnostic version of the story actually thanks the snake for bringing knowledge and freeing humans from the controlling Demiurge (a kind of creator deity). Conversely, Islam tradition tells that Adam and Eve are deliberately duped into eating from the Tree by Shaitaan, the devil, who tells them that they will become immortal. In Judaism (and some parts of Christianity) the snake is seen as a healing agent known as the Nehustan, the serpent of brass or bronze on a pole. Moses uses the Nehustan to heal wounds from the seraphim (or 'burning ones'); six-winged beings that are part of the angelic hierarchy and fly around the Throne of God. In the Hebrew Bible, Jesus also makes a comparison, in the Gospel of John, between Moses raising up the serpent as a sign of salvation and God raising up the Son of Man, suggesting that this 'raising of the snake' is somehow linked to the idea of humans ascending or reaching a higher state of awareness. 

The Snake in Myth, Culture and Beliefs
The serpent is by no means exclusive to the Abrahamic religions. In fact snake worship and cults can be found in texts dating back to the Bronze Age (c. 3,300 BCE). This is particularly evident in the Middle East, with the Mesopotamian cultures, including the Canaanites and Babylonians; archaeologists have unearthed serpent cult objects, shrines and temple imagery belonging to these peoples. The Mesopotamians believed snakes to be immortal because they shed their skin, appearing ever-youthful.

In Egypt, the patron goddess Wadjet is represented by a cobra or cobra-headed woman. She was protector of the land and in particular kings and women in childbirth. The symbol of a snake with a sun disc became a popular emblem in Lower Egypt, where it was used on the crowns of rulers. Conversely, a snake-like demon also featured in Egyptian myth, called Apep (Apophis in Greek), who attempted to devour the Sun god Ra each night. He in turn was battled by another snake-deity Mehen, protector of Ra, exemplifying the dual nature of serpents as good and evil. 
There is also another depiction of Wadjet as a cobra coiled around a papyrus stem. This draws parallels with the Caduceus, the staff of the Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, showing two snakes entwined about a staff and sometimes surmounted by wings. This in turn is often confused with the Rod of Asclepius - a single serpent around a rod carried by the god of healing and medicine. Consequently, the Caduceus is sometimes erroneously used as a symbol for medicine (especially in the USA).

Greek and Roman mythology have many accounts of serpents. The most notable is perhaps the story of the Gorgon, Medusa, who had a head full of venomous snakes that could turn anyone to stone. The race of Gorgons, however, were said to guard the most sacred rituals hence their frightening appearance. Their faces became a symbol of protection, adorning many buildings, temples, tombs, shields and coins. Similarly, the nearby Minoan civilization of Crete had a snake goddess, who held a serpent in each hand and protected ancient knowledge.

In Nordic mythology, Jörmungand is a large sea serpent tossed into the ocean, by the god Odin, which surrounds Midgard (the middle world, where humans reside). Jörmungand grows so large that it surrounds the entire earth and meets its own tail, becoming an ouroboros. This is another ancient symbol, of a snake or dragon eating its own tail, which represents the cyclical nature of life and the cosmos. It is said that if Jörmungand lets go of its tail, the world will come to an end. Serpents also feature elsewhere in Norse mythology, as Odin states that eight lie coiled around the roots of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. Here again we have the motif of snakes and sacred trees.

In Ireland there is the rather unusual story of St. Patrick, who apparently drove all snakes from the island hence their absence. This myth is perhaps best understood as an analogy of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland (St. Patrick) eradicating the old pagan beliefs and specifically the Druid priests (the snakes), who carried the wisdom and secrets of the ancestors.

Mesoamerican cultures are another to feature serpents quite prominently, in particular the Mayans and Aztecs. The famous deity Quetzalcoatl (Kukulcan to the Maya), meaning beautiful or winged/feathered serpent, adorns ancient temples and pyramids in the region. The myths of Quetzalcoatl also embody the dual nature of the serpent; here is one that can slither along the earth among humans and other terrestrial creatures but also possesses wings that enable it to soar through the heavens. Quetzalcoatl is a creator deity, inventor of the calendar and books and a symbol of death and resurrection. He is similar to the Maya Vision Serpent, a revered creature to the early Maya, which represented rebirth and renewal. This Serpent served as a link between the physical and spiritual realms, a conduit for humans to connect with the gods, specifically during rituals and meditation. It was usually connected to the Maya World Tree, prevalent in many Mesoamerican cultures. Like other ancient civilizations, it represents the 'axis mundi' - the cosmic or world axis that connects the Underworld and Heaven to Earth. Again there is another representation of the snake and tree as a conduit between different realms of existence.

The Australian Aboriginal myths feature a similar being, the Rainbow Serpent, a benevolent creator deity with a destructive side. The Rainbow Serpent represents the cycles of the seasons and water, such as rivers, seas, floods and monsoons. It is also closely related to fertility and the female menstrual cycle, in essence, factors that contribute to creation. The Rainbow Serpent's destructive force appears when disrespected, in which case it is said to devour the offender. It is also associated with rebirth rituals and times of transition, such as from adolescence to adulthood.  

Already, a more rounded picture of the snake is emerging. It is not simply an embodiment of evil but a creator and destroyer - a god in itself; this is said to be one of the longest continuing beliefs of humankind. It is also a symbol of fertility and renewal, of protection and hidden wisdom, death and rebirth, which nevertheless presents an inherent risk - the potential for corruption and ruin. 

Serpents in the East

Journeying to the Eastern world, our slithery friends continue to have prevalence in ancient stories with important roles in many cultures and religions. From Chinese mythology to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism, there is much emphasis placed on snakes and their allegories.

A common and widespread entity in the Eastern world is the Nāga or Nāgiṇī - great snake deities. These feature in many temples and structures, most notably in India and Southeast Asia and are thought to be inspired by the king cobra, the world's longest venomous snake. Fans of the popular Harry Potter series will no doubt recognise Nagini as the name of the primary antagonist’s Familiar.

In India's great Sanskrit epic, the Mahābhārata, snakes are usually depicted in a negative light. This might relate to part of the story, which tells how a Kuru emperor, Janmejay, ascended to the throne after his father died from snakebite. He had been cursed by a sage to meet this fate and consequently Janmejay decided to wipe out all snakes using a great sacrificial fire ritual. However a young Hindu sage appeared, Astika, son of the serpent goddess Manasa. He managed to halt the massacre, after Janmejay listened to his wise and eloquent words about his people and granted him a favour. Astika requested that the sacrifice be stopped and Janmejay had to concede. After this he declared peace between the Kuru and Naga (the snake people). 

However the Nagas also appear on the side of good or with a mixture of traits. They are said to reside in the seventh realm of Patala and possess the elixir or life, of immortality. They often accompany Hindu deities, such as Vishnu and Shiva. Further east, the famous seven-headed Naga statues of Cambodia's temples are thought to represent the seven races or the realm of the Nagas. They are also associated with water, such as sacred rivers, notably the Mekong, where ceremonies and sacrifices are still performed. Likewise, in contemporary Indian culture, they are regarded as nature spirits and protectors of wells, rivers and other sacred places of water. Thus they bring fertility but also destruction in the form of floods and rainstorms, quite similar to the Australian Rainbow Serpent.  

The Kundalini

Ancient India also gave us the Upanishads, a collection of texts containing the core beliefs of Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. These are said to be 'revealed truths' about the very nature of existence and humanity. The Yoga Upanishads, in particular, discuss an inherent life force, or 'shakti', which resides in humans, called the kundalini. This is essentially the primordial cosmic energy. The Sanskrit word means 'annular/circular' and can also be found as a noun for 'a coiled snake'. It appears as early as the 11th Century, in Tantrism and later in the 15th Century as a yoga term for coiled power; the life-force or cosmic energy. It resides at the base of the spine, as a huge reservoir of energy and the potent power of desire, coiled like a serpent and ready to be awakened. This is the kundalini, as it is understood today, more so in yogic practices and the new spiritual movements of the Western world. 

Kundalini Rising

The notion of kundalini rising is a type of practice in the eponymous school of yoga. This type of yoga uses specific breath-work, meditation, mantras and asanas (yoga postures) to awaken and raise the kundalini energy. Doing so is believed to eventually lead to enlightenment, supreme awakening and connection with the Divine. This idea links with the beginning of our exploration of serpent energy and power - the stories of the snake in the World Tree, connecting the human and spiritual realms, guarding secrets of the gods or the divine that lead to greater knowledge and awareness, to freedom and enlightenment.

However, like the story in Genesis, where Adam and Eve partake of the Tree of Knowledge, in which the serpent resides, there is danger in raising the kundalini if one is not ready. The purpose of kundalini yoga, for instance, is to prepare oneself mentally, emotionally and physically for if the process is rushed or disregarded altogether, the kundalini can become stuck and manifest in negative desires. It can also overwhelm the nervous system and result in emotional breakdown, mental illness and even physical maladies. Herein is the concept of the serpent embodying good and bad - the benefit of wisdom and insight but at the risk of corruption and illness. 

Awakening the Chakras

The practice of kundalini yoga, or intentionally raising one's kundalini through various practices, begins with the awakening of the Base or Root chakra at the tail of the spine. The chakras are points in the human body where energy intensifies, connected by nadi - or channels. The seven main chakras are the Base/Root (lower spine), the Sacral (around the belly button), the Solar Plexus (the midpoint between the bottom two ribs), the Heart (centre of chest), the Throat (around the voice-box), Third Eye (centre of forehead) and the Crown chakra (just above the top of the head).

Each chakra relates to different aspects of life and character. They can also be viewed as the World Tree, with the roots coming from the Base chakra into the Earth itself, our anchor and connection to the physical plane, whereas the Crown chakra is similar to the branches reaching up to the heavens and our connection to God/Divinity. Around the Tree is the serpent - the kundalini. It is initially coiled at the bottom of the Tree or the Base chakra. As we begin to grow and learn and experience life on the physical plane, the kundalini will naturally awaken and coil its way up the spine, eventually reaching the brain, much like the serpent coils around the World Tree or the caduceus. However it will rarely extend beyond the first few chakras without conscious effort and practice and thus it can become stuck, growing stale or corrupted by the ego. 

The Chakras and Kundalini

If the kundalini never rises beyond the Base chakra, we tend to become wholly fixated on materialism, the physical body and mundane matters. A person with kundalini remaining at this chakra will usually only have concern for their physical well-being, for the so-called baser or lower desires - money and material objects, vanity and maintaining physical beauty and preoccupation with trivial or superficial matters. There might be a lack of awareness and a disregard for humanitarianism, the nature of the soul or any form of spirituality. A healthy manifestation of the kundalini at the Base chakra could be someone very grounded, with a sense of stability, a strong character, practical and hard-working and who is focused on the here and now. 

Puberty, as a key stage in human development, is typically when the kundalini reaches and activates the Sacral chakra, the energy centre related to sexuality, the reproductive organs and creativity. This is when kundalini, as desire, can become fixated on sexual energy - and for many people it can remain there. The snake becomes the embodiment of temptation at this chakra, when not properly managed and channelled. Thus many people become addicted to sexual gratification and pleasure and indeed such imagery drives much of our society today. The Sacral is a potent place for the kundalini and it usually takes some form of awareness or practice to raise it above this chakra. The positive manifestations are of course fertility and reproduction, the drive to continue our race, as well as productivity and creativity. Anything we create or produce, whether art, fiction, technology or relationships, stems from the energy of the second chakra.

Moving on to the third chakra, the Solar Plexus, we see the kundalini express itself as personal power, our seat of courage and confidence, anxieties and fear. This is another common chakra where the kundalini remains trapped, manifest as attention-seeking and adoration, a desire for recognition and approval to attain feelings of false self-worth and confidence. It is perhaps evident in today's celebrity culture, broadcast talent shows and via social media, essentially providing everyone with their own virtual stage. It also becomes difficult to move past this chakra because it is the centre of fear and anxiety, which tends to predominate unless gradually exposed, confronted and resolved. Much of our external troubles originate from unresolved fears, just as anxiety and stress left unchecked will contribute to illness within the body. Positively, raising the kundalini to the third chakra can help in discovering inner courage and strength and facing our fears, which in turn contributes to natural self-confidence as we gradually overcome them. It helps us to recognise our innate talents and skills and to use them constructively, in adding our own special worth to society. Thus we can find our seat of natural expression and true self-worth.

The higher up the chakras we go, the more challenging it becomes to effectively raise and express the kundalini. The next stage brings one into alignment with the heart centre, where deep emotional issues reside. This includes unconditional love for the self and ultimately others, empathy, how we express tenderness and affection and manage rejection. It relates also to the sacred marriage of the masculine and feminine and to devotion. Here one usually has to deal with any past emotional trauma, bringing it to the surface to be felt and released, with acceptance and forgiveness. For instance, there can be residual deep-seated rejection from childhood or from those who did not show us unconditional love. Self-rejection can be another manifestation of this chakra when blocked, finding it difficult to truly love and accept the self or aspects of the self. These rejected parts can then be mirrored by others who come into our lives. There is often a powerful urge to find a partner, leading to one relationship after another until we learn to find love within (after which it can be shared with another). Grasping the essence of unconditional love, empathy and forgiveness can be difficult lessons but this is perhaps the chief goal of raising the kundalini through the heart chakra. To have reached this level suggests a person has already attained a degree of good spiritual growth.

Next we encounter the Throat chakra, the seat of communication and the spiritual voice - our outward expression. When the kundalini reaches this chakra it can manifest as frustration in voicing our true needs and desires. Often there can be difficulty conveying our beliefs and opinions because they are either misunderstood or rejected. This can be especially evident if one is receiving knowledge or insight that is ‘ahead of the times’, that is, incompatible with outdated views still held by the majority. If one is continually being rebuffed, this chakra can effectively close down, making honesty and integrity difficult – in other words, thinking that opinions are best kept private. When the Throat chakra is tuned and the kundalini flows, strength of voice and veracity come naturally. Others are likely to listen more intently and take notice of what is said. Expression via other mediums also becomes possible, such as public speaking or writing and music. Words become more meaningful and powerful and carry greater weight and influence. 

The Third Eye is next. Raising the kundalini to this level brings very noticeable changes to mundane life. It is the energy centre directly linked to the brain and holds the key to insight, inner wisdom and intuition. By this stage, one is developing a sixth sense, which can be subtle at first, such as noticing more coincidence or that seemingly random events appear connected. Perception becomes clearer, knowledge more accessible and the desire to discover one’s life purpose takes precedence. At its strongest, the Third Eye grants psychic insight, potent dreams and access to ancestral wisdom, as well as a powerful and influential mind. When blocked, this chakra can present a lack of insight and passion for life. One’s outlook can become stubborn, such as a refusal to change perspective or accept different views. A rejection of learning or searching for hidden wisdom can occur, leading to ignorance and resignation.

Lastly we reach the Crown chakra. Successfully raising the kundalini to the seventh chakra takes practice and ongoing commitment. As the chakra that connects to God, or Divinity, the so-called spiritual realms, it brings with it much responsibility. For those who reach this stage, there will likely be initial confusion. The ordinary world can begin to feel quite alien and strenuous, as intuitive ‘glimpses’ of other realms become available. The chakra can often remain partially blocked – unless one spends the majority of life in meditation. Many difficult feelings begin to arise, such as insignificance or a sense of pointlessness to life. If this becomes too difficult to manage, one might even disconnect from Spirit or God and return to the attachments of the physical world. To have a harmonious seventh chakra opened and flowing, silence and solitude are often preferred. Meditation becomes a daily practice and materiality largely unappealing. There is a greater feeling of meaning to life, of one’s soul-purpose and place in the cosmos. Comfort and contentment are then found in sensing the underlying unity of all life, human, plant, animal and spirit.

Raising the kundalini is not a straightforward or linear process. For instance, it can be unleashed suddenly during a traumatic or intense emotional experience such as an accident, childbirth or near death experience, after which it will return to the Base or lower chakras. One might succeed in raising their kundalini to a specific chakra, through spiritual practices but still experience periodic or ongoing minor blockages with other chakras, as deep-rooted issues continue to surface for healing. To have the kundalini flow through all seven chakras perhaps requires a different lifestyle, but it could be said that this is the price for aspiring to freedom from the ego.

For Good or Bane?

Perhaps there is good reason for the demotion of the snake in human history. Aside from the fact that many species are lethal to humans and we have an inbuilt fear to protect ourselves, could it also have been an intentional ploy? Learned masters in yogic practice and tradition would have been aware of the kundalini's potential, of its inherent dangers to the inexperienced and unaware. The demonizing of the snake, therefore, could have been a cautionary measure to prevent those incapable of managing the kundalini from succumbing to its desires and being corrupted - if people had an innate fear of snakes, it would deter them from attempting to awaken their kundalini. Furthermore, associating it with evil and the concept of sin, with the devil and temptation, blends well with the kundalini's initial strong desires for pleasure and gratification. For someone unwittingly raising their kundalini and finding themselves overcome with such urges, they might fear they've given into sin.

Of course there is another possibility - those in the know, seeking power and authority over the masses, would also benefit from discouraging the kundalini. This is more so evident in monotheistic faiths, which originally decreed intermediaries between common folk and God, like priests or holy men. If individuals discovered how to awaken their kundalini and connect personally with Divinity, religion might lose its control over the masses.

To raise the kundalini correctly is to attain gradual self-empowerment, by discovering one's divine purpose. This ultimately leads to enlightenment, connecting with Divinity and the cosmos at large. Even today, if the majority of people began this practice, it would soon threaten the hierarchies and structures within society. Understandably, those in positions of influence and power, leading privileged lives, might want to prevent such spiritual evolution for all. Conversely, it could be that enlightened beings are ensuring we don't attempt to access the power of the kundalini before we are ready, which could potentially lead to our demise.

The Serpent Reborn

Kundalini awakening has been likened to a fiery sensation, particularly when unimpeded, racing up the spine through the chakras and triggering the brain to awaken. Like the fiery angelic beings that surround the Throne of God, perhaps these are beings of intense radiance and light that have attained full kundalini awakening? For it might be that when the kundalini is wholly unleashed, we transfigure, shedding our physical form, like the snake shedding its skin and evolving physically into energetic beings. Yet if we are not prepared, the fire of the kundalini might easily consume us. Perhaps this is from where the fear largely stems; once common knowledge to ancient masters and mystics, lost over time, rediscovered and misinterpreted.

The serpent remains a complex and enchanting character, lodged deeply in the subconscious of humankind. Is it a saviour in disguise or a cunning oppressor, a tormentor of souls or a stringent teacher? Perhaps it is both, a multifaceted being that holds the key to the meaning of life, to wisdom and liberation with the ubiquitous price of encountering the darkest parts of our soul. Either way, we each have a choice in pursuing the kundalini and the potential to open our minds and free our souls.

Humanity is clearly in a time of great transition, of awakening in a new Information Age where our similarities are becoming more evident, our differences less divisive and our connection and dependence upon Mother Earth and Nature is being largely rediscovered. Perhaps the more of us who successfully awaken our kundalini and evolve our minds and souls, the greater the chance we have of entering a new age of enlightenment.

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Lunar Eclipse Tetrad and You

On April 15, 2014, a total lunar eclipse occurred. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses with six Full Moons in between. This is known as a Tetrad. The 2014/15 Tetrad will occur in the Zodiac Signs of Aries and Libra, with the three remaining eclipses due on October 8 2014, April 4 2015, and September 28 2015. 

These eclipses coincide with an already tense series of aspects between Uranus and Pluto, known as squares, which also culminates in 2015. These squares are indicative of upheaval and turmoil in society and culture, which ultimately lead to necessary revolution. The lunar eclipses, as part of this process, are indicative of our individual and collective struggles, as we each come to terms with our own pain and also the shared suffering of our fellow inhabitants on planet Earth. Through these experiences we encounter a sort of personal rebirth and ultimately the whole of the human race evolves, in time, greater awareness and insight. So let us look a little deeper at what these eclipses might mean.

Astronomically, a total lunar eclipse happens when the Moon is positioned directly behind the Earth and thus in its shadow, unable to reflect any sunlight. Lunar eclipses are visible anywhere on the night-side of the Earth. (There are also partial and penumbral eclipses, when part of the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow or is merely dimmed by it.)

Lunar eclipses in astrology often symbolise a time of crisis, specifically emotional because of the Moon's association with our mood and feelings. We can think of an eclipse as our emotional character or feelings being briefly immersed in the shadows, after which something new is revealed to us (when the Moon passes out of the Earth's umbra and into the light of the Sun again). Therefore a lunar eclipse will often coincide with a moment of panic that something is being kept hidden, perhaps valuable knowledge or a piece of information that we perceive as vital. Or maybe that 
a dark secret or act of deceit is about to be revealed.  Either way, when the eclipse ends we are often confronted with the truth - the revelation, brought from the shadows back into the light. And this can be the crisis moment. However everything that is revealed to us is perhaps done so in a cosmically timed manner - particularly from an astrological viewpoint; in other words, only when we are ready to confront that which was previously hidden. Although it might feel uncomfortable, disappointing or shocking, even devastating, it is essential that we 'see the light' to enable us to move forward. Of course we might well be relieved to finally have the truth. 

The current Tetrad occurs on the Aries-Libra axis. This suggests that focus will be on the self and ego (Aries) versus others and relationship (Libra). It doesn't mean that only Aries and Libra will experience crises and revelation, for we all have these Signs somewhere in our personal birth charts and thus we will all experience the eclipses in some way. The fact that we're having a series of these lunar eclipses points to the great emotional turmoil and confusion that many people are experiencing at this time. And it also relates to our collective journey. There is much being revealed from the shadows, including our own personal demons and secrets that need to see the light of day (or Sun) and evidently the secrets that have been kept from the masses, by people in roles of authority and influence in society. This cannot all happen at once, of course, as the power of emotions and their effect on the psyche can be both transformative and destructive. Therefore, it seems, we are being guided through a gradual exposition.

I spoke in a previous post about our collective rebirth and how our personal lives are becoming increasingly publicised (mostly via social media and other mediums like reality TV shows); this relates to the emotional revelations signified by the Tetrad. It is becoming difficult to keep things hidden and we might even be witnessing others revealing secrets similar to what we ourselves have been concealing. Similarly, as our race matures emotionally and spiritually, we gain the confidence to reveal more of things that frighten us, which we couldn't fully understand before and therefore hid. This might all be quite unsettling but by realising our innate connection and that we aren't alone in our fears helps to dilute them. 

Aries, as the first Zodiac Sign, symbolises our birth and the emergence of the ego, our individual identity. Its place is to explore the Self, to be concerned with individuality and discover what or who that is. In this way we each become empowered, realising our unique set of skills, talents and gifts. However in this process we might begin to over-identify with our ego or encounter aspects of our self that frighten and concern us. Consequently we can become conceited, fixated on our own ego's desires and thus behave selfishly. Simultaneously we tend to hide from the parts we dislike or cannot integrate safely in our everyday lives; these aspects of our self are then pushed into the shadows, ultimately creating our shadow self. But, like the conscious ego, the shadow self continues to grow and gain power albeit hidden in our subconscious (which the Moon also governs in astrology). Although the ego has its purpose and can be healthy, it soon predominates and seeks to exert its presence and power over others, to constantly put itself first. Likewise, the shadow side of our ego will eventually erupt in the psyche, seeking attention. This typically manifests in other people, whereby others come into our lives and act as mirrors, reflecting the shadow aspects of our character that we have repressed or tried to hide. In this way, we are forced to literally confront them. We see this happening every day, all around the world, in our relationship dramas and altercations, as well as on a collective scale with whole sections of society and countries opposing and attacking one another. When we refuse to or simply cannot deal with the whole spectrum of our feelings, they are brought to us in others, as a way of helping us to deal and resolve. Lunar eclipses usually signify times when significant parts of our shadow self are revealed in this way. Therefore a relationship might reach breaking point or an ongoing struggle will climax. And this will be happening on the world stage too, for instance, among different factions of society.

This is where Libra comes into play, as Aries' opposing Sign in the Zodiac. It represents the Other; our relationships, marriage and partnership, how to work and function together and the promotion of equality and harmony over the selfish wants of the ego. Libra can aid the task of the shadow self by bringing forth people who can help us feel whatever it is we're denying or suppressing. Libra also encourages the individual ego's (Aries) to find common ground, a shared space where they may work together as a team, pooling all of their unique qualities for the greater good. It becomes no longer about serving the self for the self, but employing the strengths of the self to serve everyone. Libra impels Aries to ask 'What can offer that will help improve the outcome?' Thus the self still gets to feel important in playing its role. In another way, Libra - as the Sign of balance, the Scales, can show us how and where to regain balance in life, in our psyche, by embracing the exposed shadow traits and ultimately healing them. Libra likes to share and so one way we might achieve this is by sharing our fears and pain, which is what we see happening more and more in society today. Again the internet and social media is building bridges in this way, uniting people for shared causes or just providing a medium through to share pain, anger, frustration and so on. As these eclipses continue to unfold, we will face more of our shadows and bring them back into the light of the Sun, each passing eclipse exposing and healing a little bit more. Libra plays its role by showing us that together, we can accomplish more and restore harmony not just to our self but to others.

How might all of this contribute to our ongoing spiritual and collective evolution? Essentially, we are each being tasked with confronting, healing and releasing our own individual pain and suffering, our regrets and sorrows, so that we can contribute to the collective healing of humanity. This is what the Aries-Libra eclipses are showing us. And it even extends to past life incarnations (if you so believe), perhaps the reason why it feels so overwhelming at times; as we're preparing to move into a new time, the shift in consciousness, we are required to let go of all karmic baggage. It is no coincidence that Neptune and Chiron are in Pisces at this very time, the astrological indicators of humanities pending rebirth. Pisces, as the last Zodiac Sign, represents the collective and all that has gone before, including our suffering. Pisces has great empathy and charity and is therefore capable of soothing and healing the wounds of the past through genuine care and love. This is, of course, necessary before we can move into Aries, the first Sign of the Zodiac and begin again anew.

1st Eclipse: 15th April 2014

Sun in Aries opposite Moon in Libra.

The first eclipse of the Tetrad concerned the Sun in fiery Aries, in spring, a time of beginnings. It also connected with the Uranus-Pluto square and the Sun and Moon to form a Grand Cross with Jupiter and Mars. Essentially this looks like a giant square, between the angles of four planets, with two pairs opposite one another (Mars in Libra opposite Uranus in Aries; Jupiter in Cancer opposite Pluto in Capricorn). This is still a time of real tension on a global scale; Mars opposite Uranus symbolises the need for each one of us to stand up and speak out freely and honestly, to let our voices, our concerns be heard - although Libra asks that we do this with tact and grace! Mars, as ruler of Aries, wants its own way - the individual ego, while Jupiter in Cancer represents the family or clan - those with whom we join for shared causes. The Jupiter-Pluto opposition embodies the ongoing struggle with the old paradigm - the patriarchy, governments, corporations et al that have controlled the masses. Mars and Jupiter's squares to Pluto and Uranus signify the individual ego's and the clans joining together in protest against the power-hungry ego's of dominating bureaucracies. So, together with the first Aries-Libra eclipse, we see many signs of tension and a need to come out of the shadows.

2nd Eclipse: 8th October 2014 

Sun in Libra opposite Moon in Aries.

The second eclipse will see the Sun and Moon switch Signs. It will up the ante, with both the Sun and Moon activating the Uranus-Pluto in a tense T-square aspect (a tight triangle pattern formed between the angles of the planets). However a beneficial aspect pattern will be formed simultaneously, known as a Kite, with the Sun and Moon joining Mars, now in Sagittarius and Jupiter, now in Leo, in supportive and harmonious aspects. This is essentially a natural progression from the previous eclipse, whereby Mars and Jupiter will now be supporting the eclipse from their new positions. Thus many of us will be learning how to raise our concerns without antagonism or causing offence, not generating more aggravation and upheaval but finding better ways to communicate, to be heard. Mars in Sagittarius will be fighting for freedom but from a more philosophical viewpoint whilst receiving support from a strong-willed, confident Leo Jupiter. On an individual level, we might feel better equipped to handle the next wave of shadow traits that emerge from the eclipse. This will be helped by Venus, at home in Libra, in tight orb to the Sun - perhaps suggesting a deeper sense of love and acceptance for issues that arise. However its opposition to the Moon, in Aries, could mean we're still finding it difficult to convey or share our darkest feelings with others, through misunderstandings or fear. Therefore we might still feel repelled or incensed by those who continue to display our own shadows and unable to extend empathy and understanding.

3rd Eclipse: 4 April 2015 

Sun in Aries opposite Moon in Libra.

The Uranus-Pluto square will again be activated by both the Sun and Moon. This configuration represents the continual and mounting pressure that is necessary to push us through into the new paradigm, to essentially rebirth our consciousness. This time around, Jupiter in Leo will combine with Saturn in Sagittarius to form a positive aspect pattern with Uranus, called a Grand Trine (a large triangle formed between the angles of these planets). This points to increasing harmonious solutions amid the chaos and tension of the Pluto-Uranus square and eclipses. Saturn, as the planet of realism, will help to ground and tame Leo Jupiter's wild ideas. This will present practical and mature ways to move forward, to make real progress. Concurrently Saturn will be supporting Uranus, helping the revolution shift gears in a positive manner. Perhaps more of us will be learning to identify with what we're seeing in ourselves and others and therefore relate better; the Moon in Libra always wants to relate. 

4th Eclipse: 28th September 2015

Sun in Libra opposite Moon in Aries.

The last of the Aries-Libra eclipses occurs just as the final Uranus-Pluto square is ending. The Sun and Moon will create another t-square with Pluto. This is essentially signifying the end of the current eclipse lesson in self vs other, the ego vs the whole. It will be inherently linked with the changes that have been taking place in society and on a global scale. This is likely to do with more and more of us uniting and sharing responsibility for improving life on Earth. It will also have helped many of us, on an individual level, to work more effectively with our shadow. The ideal outcome would be that more people recognise the common themes being exposed and that they all stem from the same place; what angers or disgusts the majority is ripe for confrontation and change but through a deeper understanding of its origins. The more of us who can learn to address matters in this way, rather than the default of attack/reject/condemn, the easier it will become to heal and release. The Aries-Libra Tetrad will hopefully help more people to embrace their uniqueness and put it to good use in society. 

Ultimately, more and more people are choosing to become their own authority, resulting from greater insight, awareness and empathy (part of the ongoing Neptune and Chiron through Pisces phase). People do not want to be oppressed or kept in the dark by self-appointed elites; we are living in a time when it is becoming less of a necessity for the many to be ruled by the few because of our spiritual maturation. And so the rebellions and revolutions will continue, in order to reach the equality and harmony that all souls seek. This is related to the reawakening of the Kundalini, which is gradually being pushed further up the chakras, allowing more of us to tune deeply into our souls, to Spirit. The end of the Uranus-Pluto squares will also help relieve the recent periods of extreme tension however these planets will remain in Aries and Capricorn, respectively, as our world continues to be reshaped. But of one thing we can be sure, with each passing year more of the cosmic puzzle is fitting into place.

There are 8 sets of Tetrads in the 21st Century with the next to occur in 2032.

See also: The Blood Moon Prophecy (A Christian Doomsday prophecy related to the current Tetrad)

Friday, 30 May 2014

Collapse and Rebirth - Neptune & Chiron in Pisces; Jupiter & the Uranus-Pluto Square

It’s no news to anyone that we’re living in a time of rapid change, revelation and transformation. We only need tune into any of the mediums of news today to see and hear what’s taking place around the planet. Where is it leading? How will it end? Are we heading for catastrophe and Doomsday or is there a new horizon beckoning us to a new Age? Looking to the movement and patterns of stars above, with their rich mythology, can help us to gain a clarity and understanding of what is happening here below... 

The Information Age 

Since the dawn of the so-called Information Age, with the emergence of new communication technologies into mainstream society, it feels like we’ve been on a runaway rollercoaster. So much information is available to so many of us in an instant, opening up our minds, expanding our awareness and contributing to a collective awakening. Yet this explosion of information sharing has resulted in much chaos and is overwhelming many. As individual minds, we can no longer process everything that is occurring, everything we are learning about ourselves and the nature of life and the Universe – the collective mind is being born, a way to share and process more and more information and knowledge. In our physical reality, we can see this manifest symbolically as the Internet and the more recent popularity of social media. 

Dissolving Boundaries, Exposing Fears - Neptune in Pisces 

In 2011, Neptune – the planet of spirituality, of other realms and dimensions, illusions and the higher mind, shifted silently into Pisces, the last Zodiac Sign, which symbolises the collective mind, unity and all that has gone before - the Akashic Records of humanity if you like. 

Neptune dissolves boundaries and deals with illusions. It is the planet of merging and in Pisces this is greatly emphasised, for Pisces is the Sign of unity (thus Neptune co-rules Pisces in astrology and is powerfully placed here). To accommodate the process of our awakening, Neptune is removing the limitations we have set upon ourselves (which were once necessary). Slowly, the walls we have erected are being dismantled, exposing division and hatred in society for what it really is and essentially making everything public. We’re finding it increasingly difficult to hide! To hide our secrets, our hatred and fears, our bigoted beliefs, racism and sectarianism – all are being exposed now. This is part of the Neptune in Pisces plan to show us all, to remind us, of our underlying unity and the truth that we are all part of the whole. 

Social media is one example, in our physical world, of how this is manifesting. All of these sites, to which many now have instant and constant access, are helping us to share and expose so much more – including that which is uncomfortable, difficult and frightening. There are less places to hide and it can feel like everything is on display, even the trivial matters of our daily lives. Of course this is being met with fear, shock, revulsion, rejection, apprehension – people generally do not want their secret desires revealed, their prejudices and fears on the world stage for all to see. Yet in the process of doing so, Neptune shines light on the greater truth that we are not alone in holding these fears – that we are all the same. 

Illusions are being popped with increasing frequency and this will be painful for many. Yet, conversely, some might fall deeper into illusory worlds in a bid to escape the stresses and strains of this drawn-out rebirth. For Neptune in Pisces exemplifies escapism, in all its forms – addiction and avoidance, from daydreams to elaborate virtual worlds, daily pleasures to intoxication. Virtual reality could become a greater problem for some, as computer games evolve and immerse us in more realistic virtual worlds. The primitive brain and individual ego will also be fighting for survival during this time, but fundamentally we are spiritual beings having a physical experience and Neptune’s spiritual evolution is the inevitable way forward. 

Neptune will remain in Pisces, drifting back and forth, until 2025, which is plenty of time to instigate a collective transformation, a transcending of what we’ve previously believed into a new way of thinking, feeling and behaving. For now, we are still in the early stages of this process. 

Exposing Weakness and Vulnerability – Chiron in Pisces 

Along with Neptune, the tiny dwarf planet Chiron also entered Pisces in 2011 and will remain there until 2019. Chiron symbolises our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, with which we must learn to live if we cannot heal. Together, this pair is powerful and significant in Pisces. We’re essentially all being sensitised - the higher chakra’s of humanity are being opened to allow greater insight and wisdom. Yet this cannot be processed by one or a few individuals, which is why we’re experiencing shifts on a collective scale. Together, we’re opening to a greater awareness of Spirit, of divinity and what lies beyond our physical world. But this, needless to say, is proving difficult to process because so much needs accepted and released and, if possible, healed. 

Chiron, as vulnerability, is what we many of us are feeling now too. What we thought we could once hide we can no longer hide. We see it exposed in others and it frightens us. Fears of intimacy, of truly being seen, are also increasing. Yet through all of these uncomfortable experiences, Neptune is there pointing to empathy. We begin to see others who feel just the same, who have been hiding or experiencing the pain or fear we thought was our own. And we can relate. 

This is the ultimate goal of Neptune and Chiron’s joint sojourn through Pisces. For when they enter Aries, the first Sign, a rebirth occurs and a whole new cycle, a new time, will begin. Yet this time around things will be slightly different. 

2012 – and beyond! 

In 2012 many people were expecting fireworks. A colossal shift and awakening was anticipated yet it all went off with a bit of a disheartening whimper. But 2012 was only part of the puzzle, it was the birth into the new paradigm. But birth is seldom an easy process; it can be complicated and takes time. We’re now entering the period of cutting the cords 

Responsibility is Key – Uranus square Pluto 

A great birthing did occur in 2012 – the birth of the new paradigm, a new time on planet Earth. This essentially means that the old ways are now crumbling, making way for change. However this is also a process, not an instant renewal or some shiny new world overnight Birth can be difficult and growth takes time. The ongoing Uranus-Pluto squares (see previous post) are indicative of this birthing process. We’re now moving into the period of cutting the cord, which can be painful and frightening, for we feel as if we’re being cut from that which birthed us. However this is part of our spiritual maturation and necessary for us to grow up. Now is the time for everyone to start acting and taking responsibility – be responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and actions. What are you putting out there? It’s no longer a time for blaming others for all that’s wrong with the world, with society. It’s time to embrace your individual contribution, to make the changes you want to see and be a catalyst for the changes you desire. 

Conflict and Harmony – Mars through Libra 

Another key planet at this time is Mars, planet of action, behaviour and passion and his journey through Libra, the Sign of relationship and harmony. Mars is currently triggering the Uranus-Pluto square (also opposite Uranus in Aries and squaring Pluto in Capricorn). Uranus in Aries is all me-me-me but Mars opposite in Libra is learning that it’s not just about the self, about our own wants and desires, but the needs of others. This is really contributing to stress and conflict but is also necessary. 

Mars in Libra is bringing our attention to relationship, partnerships, harmony and mediation. Right now we’re using each other to bring up our own shadows, fears and blockages. When we meet someone who challenges us, they’re actually helping (on a soul or karmic level) by triggering our own internal conflicts and thus our hidden potential. Realising this can help us not to react with aggression or fear, when someone disagrees or challenges, but to allow ourselves to be affected, to be changed and altered because we no longer fear it. We learn to let go, with greater ease, of the beliefs and ideals to which we cling. Mars is also highlighting behavioural patterns, particularly those we’ve inherited from parents, grandparents or society that need to be resolved now so that we can move forward collectively. 

We’re all seeking fairness and compensation but the road is still rocky, as we come to an understanding of past conflicts and what was really occurring and why. Mars in Libra’s ultimate goal is to encourage all of us to wake up, stand up and be our own authority – an example for what we believe is right and just. 

The Crumbling Authorities – Jupiter in Cancer opposition Pluto in Capricorn

Jupiter is currently in the Sign of Cancer, an active Water Sign, which is Feminine (receptive) in nature, representing the intuitive self. Cancer does not want to conform, it wants to feel. It is the Mother and embodies nurture. Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, wants to expand. 

Jupiter’s current transit through Cancer brings it opposite Pluto in Capricorn. This powerful aspect has slowly but surely been undermining the corrupt who are in power and Jupiter is now embellishing this process. It is asking us to confront (opposition) authority, particularly that which has been oppressing and controlling us. Now more than ever we must stand in our truth and acknowledge our feelings and needs. This is a time to release the shame and guilt that has been used for so many centuries to control and diminish us, to make us feel powerless. We no longer need mediators for we are waking up to our own power, how we run our own lives. We no longer want to be run by others in power. 

The external authorities that are now crumbling around us will also need to transform – and they are fully aware of what is happening. But, like anything that is dying, they will fight to survive, to maintain the establishment and old patriarchy; the governments and banking systems and religions of old. They will be clutching at straws and pulling all the strings in a bid to retain and uphold. As the grip is loosened and panic sets in deeper, everything becomes tighter. We can see this in our economy especially but it is also happening on an individual level and many of us will experience feelings of restriction, as if we’re being boxed in. And that will only encourage us to fight harder to break free. 

In July 2014, Jupiter will enter Leo and add greater Fire to the collective shift! This will bring more dramatic action and spontaneity to the whole process - the birth is truly over and now it’s time to play.

Stimulating the nervous system – Mars opposition Uranus 

Adding more to the mix is Mars’ opposition to erratic Uranus in independent Aries (the Sign that Mars rules!) This aspect represents the opening of new consciousness, along with Neptune - our third eye chakra’s are opening wide now. This is really stimulating the body and the excess energy can take its toll on many; we might feel more tense, anxious, nervous and jittery. Consciousness is changing and expanding faster, contributing to the collective change. We each much take responsibility for monitoring our own thoughts and most importantly the choices we are making now. 

With all of this chaos and rapid change, over-stimulating our systems, it is important to remember to breathe! Seeking time-out is essential now, a place of peace where we can ground and calm ourselves often. Ideally, spending time in nature, making a point of breathing deeply and slowly or meditating and practising mindfulness can all help now. Even simply focusing on something solid and present, such as a tree or animals, can be effective. 

Kundalini Rising – Saturn in Scorpio sextile Pluto 

Saturn is moving through the deep and profound emotional Sign of Scorpio. At present it is forming a supportive aspect to Pluto. Saturn is maturity and time itself, it is growing up and learning and karma. 

This can be an uncomfortable time because we are no longer getting our own way. The kundalini, represented by Pluto, wants to destroy all that is old, the outdated junk that no longer serves us. And Saturn is supporting this idea. We might feel like we’re loosing something or being exposed again, but we’re simply making room for the new. Personal and subjective desires will have to be given up, to be sacrificed. It might be difficult at times but it is ultimately for the greater good because we are part of a bigger plan – now is about more than our individual wants and needs. Ultimately, this process is about something greater – it is about community, the tribe, the human race as a whole. 

Masculine vs Feminine – the Integration 

For such a long time in human history, we have been identifying with the physical body as a man or a woman. The Masculine is active – it wants to be grounded, to act, control, organise and be logical and structured. The Feminine wants to be intuitive, to be open, feeling, subtle and flowing. 

The Matriarchy dominated in ancient times, with the prominence of mother goddess worship and cultures. Then the Patriarchy came along with the arrival of more dogmatic faiths and began dominating society with its structure and control. Now, however, we must begin to merge both. It is no longer about one or the other, about which is better, right or wrong. Integrating the qualities of both Masculine and Feminine is the only way forward. Before this can occur, we must go through a process of the Feminine coming down into the lower chakra’s and the Masculine moving up into the higher chakra’s. The Feminine is therefore becoming more energised and sexualised while the Masculine is experiencing a more nurturing and intuitive energy. Both are alien to the other and will take some time to understand and integrate. Yet this is the beginning of the merging of the two.

The new paradigm, the new Age, will begin to transcend the ego and third dimension reality, the conflicts and divisions that have kept us warring. Although diversity is essential for the variety of life on our planet and indeed for evolution, the shift in consciousness will continue to expand rapidly in the coming decade and allow us all to comprehend the underlying unity of life on Earth. This doesn’t just apply to our species but to all sentient creatures and the planet itself. Only then can we truly enter a new Age.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tense Times - the next Uranus-Pluto Square

Life might well be feeling tense again, as if someone or something is slowly twisting our nerves into a tight braid. Indeed, this should be familiar ground for most of us by now because we've been here four times in the recent past(1). Two planets - or if you want to be an astronomical stickler, a planet and a dwarf planet, have been locked in a temperamental tango since 2012.

Uranus, instigator of change, revolution, progress and freedom is forming a series of Squares with Pluto, small but powerful and the signifier of upheaval and destruction that leads to rebirth and transformation. This can be an explosive combination at any time but the Square aspect is known to present challenges and obstacles and to be a little testy. Consequently, a series of seven Squares between these two planetary gods is more than eventful for the human race.

At present, we are inexorably approaching the fifth Uranus-Pluto Square, exact on April 21st (the next two will occur in December 2014 and March 2015). This repeating pattern suggests important and rather immense changes afoot for planet Earth and its inhabitants. Uranus and Pluto normally indicate the masses, such as a generation, but the significance of this recurring aspect is filtering right down to the individual level, where we'll each be experiencing our own personal upheavals.

So what can we expect as we near the next exact Square? Uranus and Pluto are essentially trying to break free - from everything. It's time for a revolution, in all its forms. Individually this seems to be manifesting as a recurring feeling to escape from whatever is enslaving us. This could be an illusion or lie that we've been living, a damaging habit or stifling job or a controlling relationship or friendship. With each Square, these feelings might deepen, the urge becoming more powerful and the desire less easy to resist. For although these changes are ultimately for the best, we creatures of comfort typically avoid change or anything that might threaten our sense of security and familiarity. This is understandable, of course, but perhaps we are being questioned on our true source of security; not how much savings we have or how many possessions we own but our self-worth based on our character and values; not how many friends we have on Facebook but how we have touched the lives of real people; not how popular or famous or admired we are but why we are unconditionally loved by those who know us best. Once we discover these truths, at our core, nothing in the outside world can really threaten us. 

The Uranus-Pluto Squares are also symbolic of the intense but necessary crises and rapid changes taking place on the planet - both natural and man-made, material and spiritual. This is adding to the stress we're experiencing in our personal lives. There is continual advancements with technology (Uranus), which is accelerating and inundating us with a virtual world of constant communication. There are rebellions and uprisings in several countries, where the population has felt oppressed (Uranus). We also have many instances of corruption being revealed in governments, corporations and other bodies that have gained power and control (Pluto). And of course there are the ongoing natural and man-made disasters, which are nothing new but are now beginning to show very real consequences, particularly in our weather and climate (Uranus again).

The next Square is joined by the Sun meeting Uranus, in Aries - a Sign of the individual with a fiery temperament and impulsive streak. Its ruler, Mars, will be directly opposite Uranus while Jupiter will also be in Square, from Cancer. This configuration will most likely fuel the drive for rebellion and perhaps give some of us the push we need to break free and embrace our need to 'be me'. It will also intensify collective uprising, particularly in areas already in strife. The astrological nature of Mars (war) and Jupiter (excess) suggests great potential for more unstable and violent occurrences, as the energy may prove overwhelming for some. 

This might sound largely 'doom and gloom' however Uranus and Pluto symbolically work together for change leading to transformation, which sometimes requires the exposition and destruction of old ways. It also remains possible to actively channel our energy into productive and creative ways of handling change. Pluto's no-nonsense force and willpower coupled with Uranus' explosive and sudden behaviour does not make for an easy ride though. There have been causalities in the fight for equality, recognition, justice and freedom and at times anarchy (another penchant of Uranus). But also a renewed sense of power for the people, a desire not to be ruled unjustly by the self-appointed elite.

Whatever we might be experiencing now, willingly or otherwise, ultimately contributes to the spiritual awakening and evolution of mankind. That may not seem like much comfort when we're having a particularly testing time, but having faith that it's for the greater good or that maybe we're just not privy to the bigger picture can sometimes help to get us through. Perhaps the more we aim to accept what's happening and that life is tense for now, the less resistance we make to change and the ride becomes easier.

Looking back at the previous Squares, we can identify events unfolding at that time to get a flavour of how this aspect manifests. The months preceding and following the exact Square formation are also highlighted, as the aspect begins to form and build up tension and then release and reveal the consequences.

{If you're unsure of what the Squares are highlighting for you, review the past occurrences and reflect on what was happening in your life at those time, as well as the months leading up to the exact dates and what happened afterwards. This should give you an idea of the areas and issues that are important for you and require change and renewal.}

(1)The Uranus-Pluto Exact Squares: 

First Square: 24th June 2012 - Uranus 8° Aries/Pluto retrograde 8° Capricorn

Second Square: 19th September 2012 - Uranus retrograde 6° Aries/Pluto 6° Capricorn 

Third Square: 20th May 2013 - Uranus 11° Aries/Pluto retrograde 11° Capricorn 

Fourth Square: 1st November 2013 - Uranus retrograde 9° Aries/Pluto 9° Capricorn 

Fifth Square: 21st April 2014 - Uranus 13° Aries/Pluto retrograde 13° Capricorn

Sixth Square: 15th December 2014 - Uranus retrograde 12° Aries/Pluto 12° Capricorn 

 Final Square: 16th March 2015 - Uranus 15° Aries/Pluto 15° Capricorn


Evidently there is still the remainder of 2014 and into the first half of 2015 to come. We will likely continue to experience significant personal and collective upheavals and changes during this time. Uranus and Pluto are perhaps showing how we are reshuffling the order of things here on Earth and more importantly how we are re-positioning ourselves in our own lives - and how we're choosing to respond to calamities beyond our control, in trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Burren Magic

Tiny alpine flowers splash across a cracked limestone vista, seemingly misplaced. Above hang clouds, as leaden as the rock; heavy and looming like the sturdy boulders deposited by ice-age flows. These erratics, from an age forgotten, sit solemnly keeping watch over the waves. They are eerily familiar, akin to the faces of Easter Island. 

There are few places like the Burren. With Galway Bay caressing the northern shores and the Atlantic’s unpredictable weather-fronts lambasting the west coast, this karst land is one of the largest in Europe. Renowned poets such as Seamus Heaney have found inspiration here and the late John O’Donohue, author of the touching Anam Cara (‘soul friend’), hailed from this region of Ireland, in fair County Clare. 

Having spent several years engrossed in astrological studies my supporting passion, creative writing, patiently took the passenger’s seat. But a recent stirring in my soul (and in my oracle cards) began to urge this interest back behind the steering wheel of my journey of life. At this point, my good friend synchronicity brought a writing workshop into my awareness. Disregarding my trepidation and embracing the zest of my inner child, I promptly enrolled on the course and soon found myself transported to this haven for a prolonged weekend muse.

On our first outing we venture to a point known as Black Head, which contrary to the name is awash with a spectrum of pastel shades. Sudden winds whip across the smooth slabs giving rise to goose bumps like the strewn boulder streaks - Nature’s attempt at constructing cahers perhaps, the Irish word for stone-fort. Sharp pillars sporadically protrude from the deep fissures in the limestone rock, carved by erosion, recalling images of Neolithic standing stones imprinted with coral fossils now drifted far from home. The skies change again. Like clumps of chalk, clouds billow gently overhead throwing playful shadows that tumble aimlessly down terraced hills, akin to the network of walls that attempt to establish some form of structure. An alien feel grips the senses in this unusual environment, which many have described as a ‘lunar landscape’. Tufts of grass find places to grow, too, where spiralled shells lie and subtle scents flow, from white dryas and ferns and a fine sea-salt taste riding the air. Other flora from as far as the Arctic and Mediterranean find a home away from home here. The vibrancy of their colours blossom among ashen clints, like a pick-and-mix bouquet; mesmerising inky blues of rare Spring Gentians play with the deep yellow of the peculiar Bird’s Foot Trefoil contrasted with bleached-white Mountain Avens. Bird songs of plovers and gulls set the perfect soundtrack to this natural splendour, a call of Mother Earth, enchanting the senses to explore the mystery of Her bounty here by the coast.

A nudge back from the shore, a distinct chill is in the air. We travel upwards where a solid breeze rushes over the limestone-speckled mountains, but fails to sway the unwavering dolmen of Poulnabrone. Excavations in the 1980’s revealed the ritual burial remains of more than twenty adults and six children here, as well as a Bronze Age newborn, perhaps marking this portal tomb a focus for ceremony during the Celtic period. Rising robustly from millennia past, its slant is gentle, facing due North and pointing heavenward, perhaps directing the old souls to the stars. Imposing, yet illusive, it appears to hover over the chambered ‘pool of sorrows’ where bones rest with ancient trinkets, pottery and quartz crystals, holding precious memories and inspiring ballads of nostalgia to drift on high. There is no trace of the modest oval cairn that once surrounded these sturdy slabs, its gravel mound having crumbled back to the Earth. It is rumoured to be the most visited dolmen in Ireland, its true purpose and age challenging the imagination of all who ponder its presence.

Down to the Valley of the Ivy, cast in sun, stands a dominating tower where rock doves cry, a sort of Irish obelisk. Wall-mounted turrets sweep out in circular formation, perhaps where watchful eyes once kept lookout, while meagre gaps allay my inquisitiveness by permitting a partial glimpse of the vacant interior. This is Gleninagh Castle, constructed for the O’Loughlin family and occupied until 1890. It is all that remains of this centuries old limestone abode, once heavily populated before the great famine. Unruffled bovines now stroll on the surrounding marshy meadow, like guardians of the ruins, guarding their own with siren moos and looking out over a modest mound of silvery pebbles to a sea that claimed souls long ago. Fresh dung odours the air, slightly off-putting, yet nearby three-cornered leek teases the tongue - more appealing! Ash branches, holding prayers of healing, drape over the stagnant waters of the nearby Holy Cross Well, almost concealed by nature and one of many such founts to be found in the area. This one claims to restore sight to those denied the visual allure of Gleninagh. 

On another day we set out again with modest writing pads and pens ready to take ‘nibble notes’ of the sites we explore. Further inland this time, encircled by Glenamana - the fertile valley, swallows dart and jackdaws glide from striking stone arches that rise from the limestone. This is Corcomroe, later acquiring the moniker ‘Sancta Maria de Petra Fertili’ – Saint Mary of the Fertile Rock. There is a placid peace about the abbey, apparently founded in 1194 CE by Donal O’Brien the then King of Limerick and constructed between 1205 and 1210.  But its remnants, we learn, are immersed in myth. A solitary starling sits on high calling me towards a complex of Celtic crosses, marking budding shrines. Like Alice in Wonderland I crouch and creep through shrinking doorways where a labyrinth of transepts and tombs are unveiled. The chapels are home to carvings of intriguing dragons’ heads and the frozen faces of monks, who stare out from pillars leading up to a stone-vaulted roof. Elsewhere botanical motifs embellish the careful stonework, reflecting the Burren plant life. Legend tells of murdered masons, whose treasured designs were laid to rest here after the completion of the building, intended to prevent any replication of its unique construction. Cattle cries in the distance seem to lament their loss and the heart and soul feels truly captured by these Cistercian ruins.

Winding on, through jarring twists and turns, we dip over the rim of a polje. This depression in the land surrounded by hills unexpectedly reveals Carron turlough, left from a long winter. These magical ‘dry lakes’ disappear in warmer climes but we are blessed to catch its swamping of the grasslands, like an oasis or playground for Lir’s brood, the whooper swan. White-fronted geese can also be found here and not far off we encounter the enchanting call of a cuckoo. With recent concerns aired about the birds decline, it is a pleasure to gaze upon one here. I take a mental note to consult my bird omens back home, curious of its symbolism.

Next on our itinerary is a visit to a more recent attraction but one that equally invigorates the senses. Trundling down a rutted road, bordered by thickets, we emerge under an awning of ancient trees and the comforting patter of gentle rain. Here sits the Burren Perfumery, where the cordial owners rightly take pride in their selection of natural cosmetics and pampering products. They are free from harmful ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate and instead wisely utilise the native plants, inspired by their venerable medicinal properties, to create the Burren Botanicals range. A resident tabby weaves about our legs, meow-ing a welcome, and every step seems to encounter a new, enticing scent from the woody bases of moss and lichens to fresh citrus and sweet lavender and thyme. On sunnier days the herb garden is ideal for relaxing and enjoying the aesthetics and aromas, while the neighbouring tea room promises homemade soups and breads, organic cakes and pies and cheeses and salads from local suppliers. Before departing I treat myself to one of the unisex colognes, spellbound by its recipe of sea freshness and saccharine tang.

On our final evening we take a mystery tour and stop by a random roadside spot, wondering what more there is to see. Through the Burren jungle of treacherous shrubs that cleverly conceal a secret pathway, to a lost crinoid tomb, we carefully side step and leap over grass-covered grykes. Wild geraniums and orchids hide among edible plants such as the silverweed and miniature blackthorn and elderberry trees. Then, a tempting and timeless expanse opens up suddenly and a childlike excitement compels me to run and fly over the acres of Sheshymore. Ivy creeps out from where trembling webs bridge the gaps in the rock, housing patient arachnids. Winds whisper in my ear of stories untold here. Time is no more. It is a space to ponder the meaning of a short life that measured against the layers of limestone feels suddenly insignificant. But as I sit and stare out across the apparent remoteness, breathing in the air that lacks any kind of definite scent, I do not feel vacant or empty, or lonesome. There is a gentle comfort, a personal contentment that is reachable without searching and shared without speaking. To the west, cracks appear in the thick clouds like the scores of channels and flutes on the limestone floor. A sliver of blue breaks through. Hope. 

The elements of this landscape mingle endlessly and offer much to the creative mind, from the furtive depths of its countless wells. We learn to expand and refine our senses to truly merge with the milieu and back in the tranquil village of Ballyvaughan we attempt to convey our experiences with originality, now aware of lazy narrative. Bringing our weekend to a close, I decide to share a reading with my fellow creative companions. Having searched fruitlessly for John O’Donohue’s book of poems, entitled Conamara Blues, I happened by its iridescent cover in the local tourist shop and on the final page felt inspired by the Burren Prayer. It summed up our shared experiences perfectly. 

The Burren can be many things; a weekend respite, a spiritual retreat or perhaps just a memorable stop on a ‘passing through’ trip – but one that will surely linger in the mind and soul. I leave feeling touched and spirited, taking home an inner peace and a desire to return some day soon. With such diversity and history, any who visit this unfamiliar paradise shall be pleasantly spoilt and find the soul richly nourished.

Upon my arrival home the bird oracle refreshes my memory and with an impish grin my cuckoo curiosity is gratified: “comfort, renewed help, fortune and gain.”

For those who may be interested in a Burren writing workshop, contact Paul Clements for more information by email: or telephone: 044 2890 641105.