Imagination Station: Get your train on that track

I finally understand why people did so many drugs in the 1960s. It was the #$%@ing Uranus and Pluto transit! First it's an explosion of energy, then a period of dark regeneration, then another wild lightning jolt. I keep thinking that the energy will mellow out at some point. Why? I'm naive, I guess. And I wasn't alive the last time this happened, so it's all new to me.

I am not sure how people are coping these days without massive amounts of drugs. For those of you who are pushing through without the aid of mind-altering substances, I give you my latest forecast. Will the intense energy abate? It all depends on your imagination!

I’ve always been a proponent of the imagination. I'm pro-imagination. (And I vote with it often.) But I didn’t really understand the full implications of this awesome tool until I went to a prison. Additionally, I really didn’t grasp the consequences of imagination deficiency until I went to a prison. Everything about a prison is made to be neutral, plain, and orderly. But it wasn’t just the hard lines and coldness of architecture that spoke of the lack of imagination, it was the recognition that a society which could do no better than our current criminal justice system was in a serious crisis of imagination. In 2008 more than one in 100 adults in the United States were in prison or jail, and approximately one in every 31 adults was in prison, on probation or on parole. Although the US represents 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses over 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

I’ve volunteered at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in a number of capacities over the years. Currently, I offer pagan spiritual services for the women in the medium security unit. Some of the lessons that I’ve learned from the women there are applicable to the astrology we are currently experiencing. They have shown me how to take care of yourself in an environment that offers little to no emotional support. They have shown me how to be vulnerable even though everything around you is designed to put you on guard and make you afraid. They have shown me how to be patient with oneself, how to laugh and how to forgive mistakes. They have shown me courage to face the things that nobody should have to face, but that ultimately take us to a place of love.

If almost a third of all Americans can expect to be under the authority of the criminal justice system at some point in their lives, this says that lots of people are making mistakes— some small, some much more serious. Too often, we turn away from one another's pain out of fear that it will somehow increase our own suffering. This seems to be at least part of the mindset of a prison: isolate the criminals and the rest of the community will not be negatively affected by them. But in my experience, being present with our own pain, or with the pain of other people who are in states of self-inflicted or circumstantial suffering and allowing those feelings to emerge, always lessens the pain. Releasing our feelings within a community of caring creates the space for something new to arise. To do this requires compassion.

To me, the foundation of compassion springs out of a belief that each person deserves respect and dignity. This idea can be found as a central tenet throughout all the wisdom traditions of the world. (But that doesn't mean it's easy for us to put into practice.) Compassion is often defined as the ability to feel what someone else is going through and the desire to help others through difficult life passages. When broken down to its roots, compassion means “to feel the suffering of another.”

To be able to practice compassion requires imagination as well. Storyteller and mythologist Michael Meade says that, “People who use hate speech and who hate others based on differences of race, sex, class, religion are suffering from a lack of imagination,” meaning that the hatred of groups of people can only be fostered when one is unable to imagine the life of another who is very different from oneself. This statement underscores again the important role of the imagination within the context of social change and compassionate service.

As we continue to dwell in this in-between space of the current Cosmic Catharsis, we need access to our imaginations and ability to find meaning in our lives. This is the energy we can wake up to this month. It requires not pushing forward and trying to control outcomes, but softening our minds into the watery realms of imagination so that solutions can emerge. The word “solution” provides layers of meaning here. A solution is an answer to a problem, right? But it’s also a liquid substance into which other substances have been dissolved – a mixture of many different components. The solution is multifaceted and contains more that the eye can see. Suspend your disbelief of what is possible in your own life.

To stay present to your life creatively, visit the waters of imagination. Don't escape your life, but visit it through another lens. Try meditation, hiking, reading some fiction, listening to music. Try something new that breaks through the typical way you look at things. Mercury will be retrograde for all of June in the signs of Cancer and Gemini. Jupiter is making its farewells in Cancer before moving on to Leo mid-July. Neptune, which just stationed retrograde on Monday the 9th, continues of tug us into the oceanic depths through the sign of Pisces. And our Moon cycles this month tell us to come back to center, get in touch with what we feel, and take action from what emerges as we listen to the deep self within. (Don’t know how to do this? Just take some deep breaths. Just sit quietly with yourself, someplace beautiful, and listen. Do this every day. Practice takes practice.)

The last few years, our journey with the Uranus and Pluto transit has been overwhelming, ecstatic, terrifying and beautiful. With the Summer Solstice on June 2021, we turn the corner on 2014’s halfway mark. The astrology ahead says, “Follow the signs.” But it's not referring to the signs that are written on metal by the side of the road and tell you the miles you have to go. Instead, watch the ones that spring from personal and collective imagination – in dreams, in paintings, in visions, in meditations – and speak to you of how to live each day with compassion. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, that’s a sign that you are ready to go to another level. Maybe it’s time to jump the tracks and go off course. You can do this without even leaving home. The biggest changes we can make in our lives are in how we see things. That’s where true freedom lives.