“Tell me a story…” Why do we humans never tire of stories? I have been reflecting on this recently, and on particular stories where Fate seems to weave a powerful cross thread into the pattern of a person’s life, changing that life’s direction forever.
I have also been reflecting yet again on that age-old Fate/Free Will question, probably as a consequence of recently spending a great deal of time reading and reviewing a fascinating book ,‘The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus’ by Dr Liz Greene, well-known and respected Jungian psychologist, astrologer, teacher and writer on the topic of Jung’s deeply personal ‘soul journey’ during the years 1913-1932. In evidence throughout Greene’s account of that journey is Jung’s fascination with heimarmene, or Fate.
The most striking encounter I have had with Fate intervening and changing my life is one by now familiar to my family, friends, students and many of my readers – so (uncharacteristically!) I am not going to repeat it here, simply leave the link to that story for anyone curious enough to read it.
The most recent encounter I had with a striking tale of Fate’s intervention came, of all places, when I was flat on my face on an osteopath’s couch, having a back problem treated. Being a typical writer, rather than chatting about the weather or what I was doing for the weekend, I indulged my curiosity about other folks’ endlessly fascinating lives by finding out something about the well- respected osteopath who was treating me, Mr James Sneddon.
His clinic, along with the team of therapists who work with him, is one of the longest established and most highly regarded in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. I found out that Mr Sneddon had taken over the clinic from his father, James Russell Sneddon, who had founded it over 80 years ago.
The poor unsuspecting man then made the mistake of asking me what I did. Taking a deep breath (probably not a bad thing to do under the face-down circumstances!) I summarised my varied, rather wayward career path as briefly as I could. ‘My goodness,’ he commented. ‘That’s so interesting – especially your story about that fated encounter. As a matter of fact, my own father had an encounter like that which certainly changed HIS life.’
Mr Sneddon Snr. left school not long after the First World War without much formal education and was sent to sea by his parents. He had bronchial problems; his parents thought sea air might help his condition. Whilst in China, it was recommended he visited a Chinese doctor in Shanghai, who pierced various parts of his body with sharpened bamboo sticks (Mr S Snr. had never heard of acupuncture at this point), took his various pulses, and said he should not …’ …drink the juice of the cow…’
Giving up milk and dairy products got rid of his bronchial problems; when he returned to Scotland on leave, a Western alternative practitioner gave him the same health advice. Amazed that he should have had the same verdict from both the exotic East and the familiar West, his interest in nutrition and the effects of food on the body was piqued and he began to investigate alternative medicine, more or less beyond the pale in Scotland in the 1920s.
Meanwhile, his mid-twenties found him in Alaska. One day, whilst they were on shore leave, the ship’s captain invited him to come fishing. At that point a humble ship’s engineer, James R Sneddon happily accepted. Both men set off on a rough track with their fishing rods, into ‘…the middle of nowhere…’ where the captain knew of a promising fishing loch.
Mr Sneddon Snr. had some tobacco with him. When he saw an old Native American woman sitting by the track, smoking her pipe, he reached out to give her some. She grasped his hand, turned it palm up, examined it for a moment, and said...
‘ …“ you will leave the sea and take up a healing art that won’t use knives”.’
In due course, he did exactly that.
In the absence of a birth time, I have used a symbolic Noon/MC chart for James R Sneddon, since we are considering his vocation and direction through life. This striking horoscope could have a post all to itself! However, I’ll leave you to study it, dear readers, and confine myself to one or two key observations which are valid regardless of his time of birth..
Note that Sun/Jupiter conjunction in Taurus on the Noon Midheaven, opposite Mars in Scorpio conjunct the IC. This reveals an adventurous traveller, a restless seeker after higher knowledge, prepared to plumb the depths as he pursues his quest. The Taurus/Scorpio combination in the signs of physicality and in-depth transformation also speaks to us both of osteopathy and acupuncture as branches of expression from that core pairing.
By a delightful piece of synchronicity, the Ascendant of Mr Sneddon Snr’s chart is at 1 degree Virgo: the exact place where the 19/2/19 Full Moon is due to fall as I share this remarkable story. Also, the Virgo Moon conjunct the North Node, opposite Saturn in Pisces on the South Node, is a very clear signature for working at healing through the body – and for preparedness for hard work and commitment to his future vocation.
In his mid-twenties James R Sneddon would have begun his third Jupiter cycle: Jupiter returns by transit to its own place in a birth horoscope every 11-12 years, at its best opening us up to new possibilities, bringing experiences our way which broaden our horizons. That certainly happened in a startling way to Mr Sneddon Snr. in the middle of nowhere in Alaska.
That encounter with the Chinese doctor when he was aged around 19/20 just after the North Node – the horoscope’s North Star, compelling one towards one’s destiny – returned to its natal position, ‘set the scene’, as it were, for his compelling encounter with the Native American fortune teller. He returned home to Scotland, began studying in earnest, and on his Saturn Return (to the healer’s sign of Pisces) in 1935, aged 30, opened the Buckingham Clinic which has been successfully treating generations of patients ever since.
As an interesting postscript which rounds off the tale nicely, James R Sneddon introduced acupuncture to his clinic in the mid 1960s – during his Second Saturn Return to the healer’s sign of Pisces.. By then, of course, he well understood what those sharpened bamboo sticks in Shanghai, so long ago, had been all about!
I loved hearing this story, which took the compelling and intriguing ancient idea that Fate intervenes when we need a nudge in the direction in which we are meant to be going, and placed it central stage in the life story of my osteopath’s father.
I’ve never forgotten Dr Liz Greene, in one of her seminars at the Centre for Psychological Astrology during the 1990s, making a remark to the effect that it is truly astounding the lengths to which the Fates seem to be prepared to go to arrange life-changing encounters for people, sometimes right across continents.
Having mentioned Jung at the start of this tale, it seems appropriate to give him the last word here:
“Free will is the ability to do gladly that which I must do.”
I wonder if you agree?
1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019