Tag Archives: Dylan Thomas

New Moon in Scorpio: a meditation on darkness, power and poetry ….

This year, the 26 Degrees Scorpio New Moon is due to fall in my Scorpio third house , conjunct  28 Degrees South Node/Scorpio IC ( place of core, roots, home, family inheritance) close to Jupiter at 19 degrees of Scorpio, waiting  yet another 11-12 year Jupiter Return in 2018..

Recent weeks since Jupiter entered Scorpio on 10th October 2017 have been turbulent to say the least: I know from my work, conversations with friends and colleagues, and from observing events in the wider world  that there is a delving into deep murk – and hopefully cleansing and liberating process – going on. Most striking has been the way that aspects of the victim/abuser dynamic have been reversed. Victims, empowered by a few brave souls early on who have exposed their abuse and abusers, have spoken out across the world. It seems clear that we are living through a major cultural shift.

This is one of the many gifts of Jupiter in Scorpio: by our naming and exposing to the light some of the darkness at the heart of what being human means, it loses at least some of its negative power. However, as you will see from the extract quoted at the end of this post, darkness is at the core of Life’s power and vitality. We need the dark. We need to own and find ways of using both personal and collective power wisely. This to my mind is one of the biggest challenges of being human.

Pondering on this, and working through yet again some ancient childhood pain of my own these last few weeks, thereby releasing the unconscious energy used to hold it under, has taken up much of my focus. It has felt like a turbulent but liberating time.

I would be most interested to hear from my readers how it has been for you!

Now is Scorpio’s season

The thirty degree band of the sky as viewed from Earth, occupying from 270 to 300 degrees of the 360 degree zodiac, is the sector called Scorpio, the beginning of the final quarter of the zodiacal year. The Sun, our marker for the unfolding of the year and the changing of the seasons, entered Scorpio this year on the 23rd October, and leaves it for Sagittarius on the 22nd November – heading for Capricorn and the winter Solstice on 22nd December: the Sun’s most remote point for us in the North.

The astronomy leads us to the symbolic meaning of Scorpio. It is the time of late autumn: in this season the clocks go back, making darkness come earlier. It is the time of grass dying off, trees being stripped bare of leaves, a time of retreat: warmer clothes, more heating, putting things off, often, “….until the New Year”. Energy is lower. Winter flu scythes away many of our old folk. In Greek myth, the goddess Demeter goes into mourning for her beloved daughter Persephone, abducted to his Underworld realm by Hades, king of darkness. The Upper world mourns with her.

A Scorpio poet’s view

However – descent into darkness harbours its own deep, creative purpose. The Scottish poet Christopher Whyte, born with several planets in Scorpio, expresses that purpose with profound eloquence in this extract from his poem Rex Tenebrarum (King of Darkness), an English translation by the poet himself of a poem written in Scottish Gaelic:

……How heavy the earth is above the seed

that struggles and thrusts, looking for nourishment

from the sun, and showers to freshen it!

But if it wasn’t rooted in the darkness,

in a warm, enclosed place filled with worms,

it could do nothing with air or light…..

King of the darkness, king of the world,

when I saw two faces in the mirror

superimposed, made one, I understood

that you have to be reconciled.

Unless the sapling knows

where its roots are sunk, and the whole

plant admits that life

and nourishment come from darkness;

unless it has unequivocal

love for what bore and raised it

how can there be a rich

summer flowering for our hopes? “

The astrological writer Paul Wright reveals in his fine, acclaimed book  The Literary Zodiac, the way in which “writers express cosmic patterns in their creative work….”In the above extract Christopher Whyte’s deep roots in the sign of Scorpio have enabled him powerfully and accurately to capture and express the essence of that sector’s meaning and challenge to us.

All powerfully charged dimensions of life belong to Scorpio: that stage of the human journey challenges us with those facets of life which most powerfully compel us, attract us, repel us, scare us – and transform us.

Another poet very strongly rooted in the sign of  Scorpio, Dylan Thomas, talks about ‘deaths and entrances’.  Thomas was born, fittingly, in Scorpio’s season: on the 27th October 1914, the year of the start of the Great War.

If we can face and grapple with our deepest attractions, compulsions, power drives, fears and repulsions, then we can experience – through staying with the struggle, seeking support where we can, having faith in the transformative dimensions of life – the symbolic death of aspects of the ‘old order’ holding us back from entry into a more complete and authentic expression of who it is we actually are. Jupiter’s presence in Scorpio for the next year offers us a magnificent opportunity to do just that.

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What does this New Moon, ushering in Scorpio’s season, mean to you? Do share your thoughts and feelings!

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Christopher Whyte 2011

Christopher Whyte

Christopher Whyte has translated Rilke, Tsvetaeva and Pasolini into English. He published four novels between 1995 and 2000 and his fifth poetry collection, in Scottish Gaelic, appeared in 2013. His translation of the work of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) “Moscow in the Plague Year” was published in 2014 (New York, Archipelago Press 2014). He lives in Budapest, Hungary and writes full-time.

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Zodiac

950 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Christopher Whyte 2017
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Scorpio’s Season: a meditation on darkness, power and poetry ….

 What better glass, darkly, through which to view life’s fleeting nature, its fathomless depths, than that of the sign of Scorpio?

Scorpio New Moon

Scorpio New Moon

Now is Scorpio’s season

The thirty degree band of the sky as viewed from Earth, occupying from 240 to 270 degrees of the 360 degree zodiac, is the sector called Scorpio, the beginning of the final quarter of the zodiacal year. The Sun, our marker for the unfolding of the year and the changing of the seasons, entered Scorpio this year on the 22nd October, and leaves it for Sagittarius on the 21st November – heading for Capricorn and the winter Solstice on 21st December: the Sun’s most remote point for us in the North.

The astronomy leads us to the symbolic meaning of Scorpio. It is the time of late autumn: in this season the clocks go back, making darkness come earlier. It is the time of grass dying off, trees being stripped bare of leaves, a time of retreat: warmer clothes, more heating, putting things off, often, “….until the New Year”. Energy is lower. Winter flu scythes away many of our old folk. In Greek myth, the goddess Demeter goes into mourning for her beloved daughter Persephone, abducted to his Underworld realm by Hades, king of darkness. The Upper world mourns with her.

A Scorpio poet’s view

However – descent into darkness harbours its own deep, creative purpose. The Scottish poet Christopher Whyte, born with several planets in Scorpio, expresses that purpose with profound eloquence in this extract from his poem Rex Tenebrarum (King of Darkness), an English translation by the poet himself of a poem written in Scottish Gaelic:

……How heavy the earth is above the seed

that struggles and thrusts, looking for nourishment

from the sun, and showers to freshen it!

But if it wasn’t rooted in the darkness,

in a warm, enclosed place filled with worms,

it could do nothing with air or light…..

King of the darkness, king of the world,

when I saw two faces in the mirror

superimposed, made one, I understood

that you have to be reconciled.

Unless the sapling knows

where its roots are sunk, and the whole

plant admits that life

and nourishment come from darkness;

unless it has unequivocal

love for what bore and raised it

how can there be a rich

summer flowering for our hopes? “

The astrological writer Paul Wright reveals in his fine, acclaimed book  The Literary Zodiac, the way in which “writers express cosmic patterns in their creative work….”In the above extract Christopher Whyte’s deep roots in the sign of Scorpio have enabled him powerfully and accurately to capture and express the essence of that sector’s meaning and challenge to us.

All powerfully charged dimensions of life belong to Scorpio: that stage of the human journey challenges us with those facets of life which most powerfully compel us, attract us, repel us, scare us – and transform us.

Another poet very strongly rooted in the sign of  Scorpio, Dylan Thomas, talks about ‘deaths and entrances’.  Thomas was born, fittingly, in Scorpio’s season: on the 27th October 1914, the year of the start of the Great War.

If we can face and grapple with our deepest attractions, compulsions, power drives, fears and repulsions, then we can experience – through staying with the struggle, seeking support where we can, having faith in the transformative dimensions of life – the symbolic death of aspects of the ‘old order’ holding us back from entry into a more complete and authentic expression of who it is we actually are.

*********

What does this New Moon, ushering in Scorpio’s season, mean to you? Do share your thoughts and feelings!

*********

Christopher Whyte 2011

Christopher Whyte

Christopher Whyte has translated Rilke, Tsvetaeva and Pasolini into English. He published four novels between 1995 and 2000 and his fifth poetry collection, in Scottish Gaelic, appeared in 2013. His translation of the work of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) “Moscow in the Plague Year” was published in 2014 (New York, Archipelago Press 2014). He lives in Budapest, Hungary and writes full-time.

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Zodiac

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Christopher Whyte 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Saturn in Sagittarius: the Joyful Child grows up

Saturn is settling down for his journey through the exuberant, joyful sign of Sagittarius for the next two years or so. Mars is currently conjunct Jupiter in Virgo (in my First House) as I  reflect on the importance of Jupiter’s natural, spontaneous exuberance being modified and curbed by Saturn’s practicality and realism if we want to generate anything lasting in our lives. This reflection has made me think of  the importance of retaining the capacity for simple joy, as Life tosses its inevitable challenges our way.

Beautiful Saturn

Beautiful Saturn image

In honouring both Jupiter and Saturn, then, let us first celebrate the spontaneous, resilient, Joyful Child within all of us, explore how it fares as we mature. If we are lucky, this part manages to survive the batterings, brutalities and tragedies of existence,  continuing to provide inspiration and faith that life is worth living.

Who, exactly, is this Child? The basic stuff of which s/he is made is the element of fire, that which the gods prized so much they wanted to keep to themselves. But Prometheus stole some, hidden in a fennel stalk, and gave it to us. He was savagely punished for his misdemeanour – but ever since, we humans have had at least one chip of that magical, divine substance lodged in us. Everyone has some, some people have too little, others have too much.

What is it? It’s the spark of divine light, that which tells us we are special and immortal, that  we’re here for a reason, that our lives have a purpose, that we have a future worth seeking out. It fuels wonder, injects the passion of inquiry into mere curiosity, causes learning and exploration to be a joyful end in themselves. It gives the capacity to look out at the world with a fresh set of eyes, take pleasure at what’s there because it’s new, exciting. It brings spontaneity and the gift of laughter. It fuels play, which is at the core of a response to life which is fundamentally creative and imaginative.

Bountiful Jupiter

Bountiful Jupiter

It is highly protective and supportive of life, especially when the going is rough, giving the hope that things will get better. It enables tough times to be survived through the unquenchable belief that suffering may be awful, and protracted – but it means something; it is not just the random brutality of quixotic gods, or fate.It brings the capacity in extremis to laugh at the sheer absurdity of life, and oneself – a capacity which can drag one out from under the worst of times for just long enough to reaffirm that life, despite everything, is worth living.

The precious creature formed from such magical substance never grows up in the sense of assuming worldly responsibilities, and never gives up on life’s possibilities and delights. It cannot be ordered forth – just appears, then disappears : will o’the wisp. Readers will recognise the Sagittarius/Gemini polarity here!

Leaving the Otherworld

The advance through adulthood as the Saturn seven-year cycle unfolds, alters one’s perception of what it is to be young. Having been scarred by life as we all are, watching a pre-school child absorbed in play is delightful, but also poignant. Delightful because it  demonstrates clearly that there is another world than the one we usually inhabit  which is full of  Saturn’s deadlines, duties and demands.

This Otherworld is full of goblins and fire engines, magic bubbles and imaginary friends, bright green tigers who speak, and amenable adults happy to give you the keys to the scary castle, where you can spend days of adventure without anyone telling you that it’s impossible for giants to keep a special pocket full of ice cream that never melts, just waiting for you to come and eat it.

It’s poignant because we  wonder, looking at this absorbed child, how s/he will cope with an adult world whose entry tariff is extracted from the struggle between the fantasy world of childhood where anything is possible, and the reality testing which takes place as we grow and confront the limits which life sets for us.

The seven-year stages of the Saturn cycle offer a helpful containing context within which to explore how the Joyful Child within us fares as life’s journey unfolds. There is a case to be made for not starting children at school until the first square of the cycle. Five or six, the common age, seems too early to remove children from the Otherworld of play and unbounded imagination. Shakespeare vividly expressed the average child’s response to being dragged from the Otherworld :

“And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school.”   (i)

If we did start children at the later age of seven or eight, socially disruptive though that would be in many ways, perhaps it would give more time for the Joyful Child’s domain to become established. Thus  it might be easier for the growing person to retain contact with the Otherworld as a source of inspiration throughout life.

Essentially what happens from the time of starting school through to the first Saturn square, as we step across the boundary of family, is that the Joyful Child begins to hide, its energy becoming redirected, as we become more aware of ourselves in relation to what the outer world expects. By and large, that outer world is more interested in us being able to tie our shoelaces, read, tell the time, and be truthful, than it is in knowing what a wonderful chat we had in Chinese last night with the  bright green tiger who sleeps under our bed.

  Early adulthood

Saturn Cycle

Saturn Cycle

The first Saturn opposition at 14/ 15 is the point where we take bigger steps out of family, begin to challenge parental authority,  and move towards greater identification with the peer group.The need to play and daydream which is fundamental to the Joyful Child’s world, and the creative energy fuelling these activities, gets sublimated further at this point. It channels into the pursuit of achievement of an academic or vocational nature, and exploration of the  exciting, troubling world of relationship and emerging sexuality  as bodily changes propel the young person towards physical adulthood.

The Joyful Child’s impetus towards discovery and exploration of the new, engages in a complex dance with the tough Saturnian realities also emerging.Too much time spent playing, not enough on taking responsibility, can have a high emotional cost, eg exam failure or unwanted pregnancy. 

The waning square at 21/2  brings with it the world’s expectation that we should begin to assume adult responsibility, get a job if we’ve been studying for years, get serious. Many people marry or enter into long-term partnerships at this stage, perhaps out of unconscious fear of facing the adult world and its responsibilities alone. I have gained the impression from my varied professional work with people of differing ages over a  long period of time, that part of the vulnerability of this life stage comes from a realisation that childhood is, indeed, over.

Recently I came across a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings from a column I wrote in my early twenties. In it was a piece called “Thoughts on Childhood” which supports the view  just expressed :

“ I am close enough to childhood for my memories still to be clear and reasonably untainted by the rosy hues of nostalgia, although I realise now that as soon as we have ceased to be children, the world of childhood becomes a closed world to us, one which we can never recapture except through flashes of memory and watching our own children grow up. As adults, no matter how hard we wish to recapture the feeling of childhood, we must always remain ‘ watchers by the threshold.’ ”   (ii)

This is a critical age, in terms of the emerging individual’s capacity to retain that  spark of vital creative energy which ensures that  engaging with the world as it is does not mean stifling the Joyful Child, who  has been curbed by now, and knows that much of the time it’s not safe to be too overt. But it is important that the re-channelled  energy continues to flow.

It can express itself in passionate commitment to a career, as opposed to  working purely to provide life’s necessities. It can manifest through joy in good friends, or absorbing hobbies and interests outwith work.For some people, early parenthood brings, along with responsibility, the opportunity to view the world again through the eyes of their growing children.

There is also a direct route for expression through the sheer animal vitality of youth, which all by itself can make life feel worth living. I recall a middle-aged male friend of mine’s recent comment on seeing a young man running effortlessly up several flights of stairs recently, not because he had to,  just because he could. “ I can’t do that any more – my back’s too bad !”  remarked my friend. “It made me feel wistful, reminded me of the youthful grace and energy  which I once had.”

Point of entry

From the Saturn return at 28-30 onwards, the major underlying task changes: from discovering the overall shape of who you are in relation to your own life, to beginning to use the platform you have built as support in offering your unique contribution to the wider world. By this stage, the balance achieved between necessary realism and the joyous, inspirational, creative aspects of life is crucial to how the next 14/15 years unfold. The poet Dylan Thomas senses and honours the presence of the child he was,  in his marvellous “ Poem in October” written on his thirtieth birthday:

“ And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s forgotten mornings……where a boy…..whispered the truth of his joy

To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.”

In the poem’s last verse, he writes 

“And the true

Joy of the long dead child sang burning

In the sun.” (iii)

For Dylan Thomas, as for many poets and even more of us ordinary citizens, being in nature can powerfully evoke that within us which never ages, which rejoices in being alive, and is powerfully connected to the endless cycle of birth, maturation, decline, death and return.

The thirties and forties are decades where a major challenge lies in the grinding process of reality testing our hopes, wishes, dreams and ambitions against the world as it is. Most of us eventually get to the Saturn opposition of the mid-forties: we are still here,  we may still be functioning tolerably well, but we’re not young any more.

Midlife

From the mid-forties on, we only have to look in the mirror, or realise that our idea of a good Friday night  is increasingly of going to bed early, not with a hot lover,  but with a good  book, to be aware of the relentless advance of mortality. It becomes harder at this stage for most people to keep in touch with the Joyful Child, keep its energies flowing. For many people,  brutalities of  an environmental, political, social or personal nature have borne down so hard that the vital spark of life borne by the Joyful Child can now fuel only the dogged survival instinct.

I have found that one of the compensations of middle age is deeply paradoxical, and was first alerted to it a number of years ago by a comment made by my late mother-in-law, then approaching eighty.The way she dealt with an old age full of physical infirmity was inspiring. She had a lively sense of fun and humour, maintained great interest in the wider world as well as that of her own family and friends, and kept up a prodigious correspondence right up to the end of her life. The Joyful Child in her was alive right to the end, sustained in her case by a strong, ecumenical religious faith.

“ You know”, she said,“occasionally when I’m not thinking about anything in particular, I catch sight of my face in the mirror and get an awful shock. I see an old woman’s face looking out at me – but inside I don’t feel old at all – I feel just the same as I did when I was young.”

The paradox is this.The body ages to the point where you are faced with increasing physical evidence of the passage of time; but an opportunity can also slowly arise to perceive, with a clarity not possible in youth, that this ageing body has been carrying something else through life which is different, ageless, woven with the physical – that spark of immortality which comes in sometime before birth, flying free at physical death. Thus, as mortality’s approach via Saturn becomes more and more difficult to ignore, a major compensation can be offered via Jupiter:  by that  which is clearly immortal becoming more and more evident by contrast. 

In this way, the great archetypes symbolised by astrological Jupiter and Saturn can achieve balance as ordinary human life reaches its conclusion.

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Endnotes:

(i)  “As You  Like It ”: (1599) act 2, sc 7, l 139, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 658, par 26

(ii)  “Thoughts on Childhood” from Personally Speaking column, Stornoway Gazette, September 1970

(iii) “ Poem in October “ from Dylan Thomas Collected Poems 1934-52, Aldine Press, 1972 Edition, pp 96-7

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2,200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

 

Honouring the Scorpio Solar Eclipse…

“……A poet very strongly rooted in the sign of  Scorpio, Dylan Thomas, talks about ‘deaths and entrances’. If we can face and grapple with our deepest attractions, compulsions, power drives, fears and repulsions, then we can experience – through staying with the struggle, seeking support where we can, having faith in the transformative dimensions of life – the symbolic death of aspects of the ‘old order’ holding us back from entry into a more complete and authentic expression of who it is we actually are…..”

Season of Scorpio

To read the rest of this post, click below:

http://anne-whitaker.com/2012/11/11/scorpios-season-a-meditation-on-darkness-power-and-poetry/

Zodiac

Zodiac

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100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page