In challenging times, whether personal or collective, astrology is a great aid because it can identify in symbolic language what is trying to come into consciousness. Our inner growth seeds and blossoms in archetypal patterns, and astrology is a tool by which we can distinguish the laws that underlie the chaos that we feel.
All around us the deeper patterns of life reveal themselves. It can’t be helped, guides abound. For some weeks I have been thinking about writing a piece on the astrology of current events in order to understand what is going on. It has been challenging. Then a friend sent me an article, “Kali Takes America: I’m with Her” and it was as if all the background noise fell away and I could distinguish the rhythm I needed to hear. In describing Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction and regeneration, as the force at work in our world right now, the writer Vera de Chalambert makes space and attention for the darker, deeper process that is underway in the collective. Her article acted like a clarifying agent and helped me distill the many astrological factors in play, and focus on Pluto.
The USA has a Cancer Sun (born on the 4th of July) and so has been in an opposition with transiting Pluto in Capricorn, bringing these themes ‘home’ collectively. USA is also having its Pluto return as the planet returns to its own place in the nation’s chart, which suggests the end of a great cycle.[i] Part of what is underway is a Plutonian process of change at a cellular level. Kali, the Great Dark Mother, is saying that here and now we have the strength to be with what is. Radical receptivity to darkness. Pluto brings to the surface ideas and attitudes that are past their expiration date and in order for them to be let go.
With Pluto we are in the matrix of transformation and regeneration. Where the phoenix rises from the ash, death ensures the beginning of new life. Pluto is also related to the heat of instinct and primal essences. As portraits of archetypal processes, the goddesses and gods of myth and religion personify universal truths in idiosyncratic and dynamic ways. Pluto can be seen across ages and cultures in goddesses and gods of destruction, darkness, madness and power. Ereshkigal, Dionysus, Persephone, Hades (Pluto), and the glorious and fierce Kali.
These gods teach us many things, but foremost is that in death there is new life. But for the new life to emerge, there must be death. This simple prerequisite can seem like asking for too much. But this is the law of nature, the transformative powers of life and the psyche come with destruction of what was so that the new can follow. Marion Woodman spoke about this often through the metaphor of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. One has to be able to move with the deeper processes that are underway, surrender to them, and trust in the nature of life to take its right form. When the transformative processes of the psyche are unfolding all we can do is try to conspire with the inevitable.
Not knowing is necessary. Being with our darkness is necessary so to take back and reflect anew on our shadows, to articulate our disappointments, to acknowledge our angers and fears and to vessel it. So it also means being uncomfortable. And, this is how and where the light comes in. The darkness makes it all the more possible to see the lights…Pluto’s realm.
We are living this Pluto process as a collective and it reaches into our individual lives. We find that the dark and negative attributes of a sign are brought into awareness when Pluto moves through it, lit up as it were. In the cardinal sign of Capricorn we can identify those on the world stage, including patriarchal structures of power and values (Capricorn is ruled by Saturn who was a devouring father), idealization of the past, authority, hoarding of wealth and resources, fear of loss of control, concern with boundaries. Capricorn is an earth sign, so concern and responsibility for the environment is also highlighted.
What moved me with de Chalambert’s piece was her validation of the falling apart many of us feel and placing it in a much larger and meaningful frame. Kali’s bowl. Pluto’s vessel. She writes, “Before we rush in to reanimate the discourse of hope prematurely, we must yield to what is present. Receptivity is the great quality of darkness; darkness hosts everything without exception. The Dark Mother has no orphans. We must not send suffering into exile — the fear, the heartbreak, the anger, the helplessness all are appropriate, all are welcome. We can’t dismember ourselves to feel better. We can’t cut of the stream of life and expect to heal.”
In this praise of shadows, darkness allows us to be keenly aware of where there is light. I think we can find ourselves guided towards this with the upcoming Mercury retrograde (read my piece on the value of Mercury retrograde). On the 19th Mercury will go retrograde at 15 degrees Capricorn and this time he will turn backward while conjunct Pluto, which suggests that this period of introspection invites and offers Kali consciousness. This is a time for vesseling, which means holding, reflecting, and being patient. How do we learn to host the darkness that is the necessary conditions for regeneration? There may be darkness, but as Leonard Cohen reminds us in his last and brilliant album, “You Want it Darker”, this is the place inhabited by the divine guest.