It may surprise you to know that quite often I feel completely disenchanted with astrology and want nothing more to do with it. It appears as though part of my nature insists on regular periods of doubt and disillusionment with astrology, and everything else for that matter. I actually think it may be healthy – and this healthy doubt, this optimistic limit-setting will be coming your way in 2015. Putting too much stock in any system (like astrology, for example) leads either to arrogance (I am all-powerful!) or superstition (All is powerful over me).
For 2015, each of us will encounter the places we need to overhaul, discard, revamp, or recommit to the systems of life. “System” is a pretty broad term, defined as “a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.” That definition that has it all! A system can be an ecosystem, a corporation, a religion, a culture, a philosophy, a code of ethics, a coffeemaker, a neural net, an atmosphere, a school, a family, digestion, the whole planet. You get the idea. Anything that has a lot of different components that interact and form a larger whole – that’s a system. And the systems, they are a-changin’.
One of the big headlines for 2015 is the journey of Saturn into Sagittarius. Saturn had been in Scorpio since October 2012 – boy, are our tear ducts tired! It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, intimate upheaval, and soul-transforming death-match. Ultimately, this transit has forced us to look at our vulnerabilities and to create new structures that foster trust and support change.
Now the challenge shifts. Time to master the art of storytelling, the craft of culture, and the intersection between thought and action. Put it this way: every single time you change, everything else must adjust to those changes, and vice versa. Sagittarius wields perceptual magic. It’s a moving target, a conceptual framework that defies its own authority. Sagittarius wants to move, interact, engage, run away, visit foreign lands, puff itself up, push its limits, expend its energy, connect with higher laws, expel dishonesty, tell its own tale, and create the new world. In any sign, Saturn constricts the natural flow of that sign, hopefully just enough so that the energy is appropriately channeled. Saturn is the limit-setter, and for the next few years it is schooling us in the problems with hyper-expansion, dogmatic adherence to outdated principles, and beliefs which blind us to the truth. The endless horizon of a civilization born from manifest destiny has to shrink. The chickens are coming home to roost. Things are about to get real philosophical.
The major action this year happens in the springtime, with eclipses in Pisces and Libra as well as the seventh (and last) contact between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn on March 17. As we step through this gateway, Saturn’s job will be to show us how to bring the unrest of the last four years into manageable form. For some, the unrest has been intensely personal in nature, while for others the unrest happened on the streets, in warzones and demonstrations.
According to a quick search on google (I am a trained researcher, FYI), we will be entering the Year of the Sheep on February 19. Chinese astrologers say this is a slower paced, peaceful year, a year with less world conflict and fewer political upheavals. The Sheep energy focuses on education, volunteering, and altruistic endeavors. Sheep people tend to be loving, artistic, and not so emotionally reactive to changes.
Sheep are known as docile, easily manipulated herd animals. People often associate them with being mindless, conformist, and unoriginal. Peruse any quotes about sheep, and you’ll see how undesirable is the totem of a sheep. Sheep are led to the slaughter, vulnerable to wolves, susceptible to anyone with brute force of body or mind. But I maintain that they are a positive metaphor for our on-going personal transformation. How? Read on.
Perhaps a witch’s paraphrase of the bible can shed some light. (Didn’t see that coming did you?) In the poetry of the Psalms 21 (you know, the one that starts with The Lord is my shepherd), we are invited to understand the limitations of the individual will. Comparing humans to sheep does shatter the ego a bit, doesn’t it? It also reminds us that we are part of nature. As part of a wild, vast, beautiful, and dangerous creation – not above it, not separate from it, not dominating it – the Psalms tell us bluntly, “you are not the boss,” and also, perhaps paradoxically, “fear not.” The Bhagavad Gita says the same thing. So does Buddha. So does just about any spiritual, mystical lineage you can think of. (And Mary Oliver, too. See the end.)
Eighteenth century Swiss scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, who wrote about the soul and other mystical matters, thought that “Sheep and lambs [corresponded] to the affections of the spiritual mind.” Sheep and lambs are symbols of innocence, childhood, purity. So perhaps as we find ourselves at the end of this Uranus-Pluto cycle, we are really at the beginning. In the beginning of life, eyes open in wonder and expectation. Everything is new. This year, it will be good to remind ourselves that our past experiences may not necessarily be good indicators of how to proceed.
The Fool card in Tarot can provide us with our next useful metaphor for 2015. In the card, which is numbered “zero” in the major arcana, a young person is seen with a flower in one hand and a bindle in the other, about to step off a cliff with trusty dog in tow. The Fool is the beginning but also the end of the Tarot, as each cycle inevitably brings us round the spiral again. The Fool can be the Fool because they have shed attachments to the ego, either through intense spiritual practice, intense life-altering experiences, or perhaps dumb luck. Note that I said shed attachments to the ego. The goal is not to get rid of the ego. IT is to know it so well that we are able to choose freely without it’s compulsive interference. I love my ego and would get nothing done without it. But I have to surrender it if I want to hear the still, small voice within.
If the sheep is our power animal for the year, then a benevolent, compassionate, creatively interrelated universe needs to be our shepherd. This may cause discomfort for the more cynically inclined among us. Any newfound equilibrium of belief will most likely be tested from June 15 to September 18, when we receive another taste of the scorpion’s sting as Saturn retrogrades back into Scorpio. The key is to wed optimism with discipline. Opening the crown chakra puts us in direct contact with the divine – however we may imagine it. A fresh view is coming, if you want to see it.
Here is Mary Oliver’s forecast for 2015.
ONE OR TWO THINGS
by Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems: Volume One (Beacon Press)
Don't bother me.
The butterfly's loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes
for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower.
The god of dirt came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,
and never once mentioned forever,
which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.
One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning-- some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.
But to lift the hoof!
For that you need an idea.
For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then
rose, weightless, in the wind.
"Don't love your life
too much," it said,
and vanished into the world.