Oh Death, where is thy sting?


Saturn is currently backtracking into Scorpio until September 18 when it re-enters Sagittarius for the next two years. This gives us another chance for void-gazing, skin-shedding and soul-excavating. Remember that Saturn first entered Scorpio in October 2012 and moved into Sagittarius last December. A quick trip down memory lane might reveal some of the complexity and intensity of the Saturn in Scorpio lesson.

In The Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes that “frequently, when we have lost a sense of the sacred, it reappears in a negative form.” Taking heed of Moore’s words, as Saturn makes its last sojourn through Scorpio this summer, we can be open to seeing it as less of a return to hell and more as a personal need to recover a sense of the sacred. If you end up feeling stuck in guilt, regret, shame, or punishment – then you know that you are nearing the bottom. The bottom is our darkest hour, but it is the place from which we push off in order to rise back into the light with the strength of our hearts. William Blake asserts that “You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”

There is a part in each of us that must seek out a confrontation with the negative form of the sacred in order to fully release energy and therefore facilitate healing. The defiance of order, and even the destructive chaos, provides an opportunity to test limits and purge emotions rather than holding on to them. Only when a feeling is expressed can it give the message that it holds.

Creativity itself is mysterious and adventurous. Some say that all creative endeavors are a spiritual act. Any spiritual journey cannot help but take one to uncharted territory, much like any earnest creative act. So they circle around one another, like the snake eating its own tail: creativity, spirituality, creation, destruction, order, chaos. Our resistance to our creativity is sometimes the same as our resistance to death, fear, the Mystery. We know that in any of these endeavors, we will be changed. Maybe you’ve been taught that if you are true to yourself, then you will lose the love or acceptance of others.

Look to see if anything negative happening in your life right now is in fact the sacred trying to push through and reveal itself. Marion Woodman, feminist and Jungian analyst affirms this:

I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you. In the process of healing, this is one of the huge things that I have discovered. People recognized the energy coming to meet them. When they opened to another energy, a love, a divine love, came through to meet them. That is what is known as grace. We all sing about amazing grace. It is a gift. I think that it comes through the work that we do. For some people, it can come out of the blue, but I know that in my own situation, the grace came through incredible vigilance.  

As a bit of darkness comes back to our edges, so too does fiery brilliance. Venus shines in the western sky at evening time, basking in the sign of Leo. As she sits on her throne, glorious in her splendor, she is readying for her descent to the underworld. Picture the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, the radiant Queen of Heaven, tuning her ear to “the great below.” Here’s her story in brief:

The journey through death and into rebirth, as well as other initiatory processes, is commonly represented as a process of seven stages. Inanna walks through seven gates in order to understand death and compassion. She has been called by “the great below” to meet her sister Erishkegal, the Queen of the Underworld, who is mourning the death of her husband. Inanna puts on all the accessories and mantles of her queenship to prepare for the journey. But as she goes through each gate, the guardians demand that she leave behind a symbol of her power before she crosses. By the time she reaches her sister, she is naked. Since she is in the underworld, a place where no one escapes death, Inanna dies and her corpse is hung on a meat hook. But eventually, Inanna is finally granted release because of the devotion of her friend Ninshubar and the compassion of two genderless spirits who bear witness to Erishkegal’s suffering. She returns more powerful for her surrender, more vulnerable for her compassion.

There is much here that corresponds to our current astrological weather: initiation, healing, letting go of previous identities, death and rebirth. The sting of the scorpion’s tail may not be the sting of death. It may be the needed jolt that takes us out of our stubborn clinging – to whatever it is we think is so important. Then death does not sting, but blissfully releases us into a committed presence to the truth of who we are.

This next month of your life, may you receive clarity by bravely letting go of who you thought you were, may you teem with this new-found strength, and may you learn to adore your own goddess-given gifts.

Journaling Prompts for “Death, where is thy sting?”

With these prompts, the suggestion is to “free write” or write automatically in a stream-of-consciousness style. Trust your first impulse with the writing and keep your pen moving without stopping too much. This method helps to access a deeper awareness of ourselves and places that are usually hidden from us. That’s the amazing power of our being – it knows more than we can consciously name.

1. What are your beliefs about death?

2. Write about a time when you finished something or a time when you felt complete.

3. Write about a time in your life that things did not go as planned, a time that still fills you with regret, defeat, or sorrow over the outcome. Now write about it from a totally different point of view.

4. Where does your power come from? What is your power source? Finish the phrase, “My power flows from…” and write whatever comes out of you.

5. What secret inner-desires, obsessions or fears have become too burdensome for you? What negative thoughts hold you back from your own creative potential and power? If you acknowledge these inner-states, what will happen to you? Begin writing with, “I’m afraid to…” or “What terrifies me…”