One of the reasons I love astrology is because it provides a map for understanding the soul’s journey. It’s a language that can be ambiguous, but with a little creativity we can see this ambiguity as possibility and step into it to feel how it resonates within our own experience, thus creating understanding. It provides a doorway for conscious and active participation life.
I don’t really consider astrology to be a religion, but understanding how it can inform spirituality is worthwhile.
In order for a spiritual system to serve as a container for transformation, it has to remain relevant at the level of the heart. Astrology is particularly rad in this sense because it provides a framework for a kind of global mythology, with a set of archetypal correlates within which individuals are their own center of truth. That transiting Mars and Saturn are conjunct is “true” for everyone, but how it ripples through my experience will be different from yours.
There is a New Moon in Virgo tomorrow. And therefore the practical side of me wants to honor Virgo by writing about how to use astrology in self-generated ritual. But my poet’s heart is caught up in the Pisces polarity (my natal Mercury in Pisces is exactly opposite this New Moon) and is needing some air time to express the emotional whirlpool I’ll call August 2014.
One of the main functions of ritual is to help reconcile opposites, creating a dialogue or exchange with the “other” that engages transformation at the cognitive, emotional and physical levels. In fact the root of the word ritual comes from an Indo-European word meaning to fit together. What a beautiful theme for a Virgo New Moon.
I’ve been revisiting my extreme love-hate relationship with writing. Distilling experience into words seems such an impossible task, and yet it’s vital to who I am. Language carries energy, shapes worlds, and expresses perception. And yet…it gets interpreted. It can be misheard. And it can feel so…limiting. And suddenly I have ideas for 10 projects, all of which want to be put down in writing right now – which just makes me want to go for a swim.
This love-hate relationship with writing is emblematic of a larger crisis going on within me these days. I’ve felt like I’m at war with myself in so many ways. I feel like I’m at a crossroads, like I have the opportunity to move through patterns that have been with me for eons. And I swear that as soon as they can tell they’re on their way out, patterns become possessive. They amp up, and all the ego parts that are invested in old ways of being start to cling and gasp and grasp – “But you need me! You neeeeeed me!”
Then I look around at the world and realize how true that whole “microcosm reflecting the macrocosm” thing is. Shadows amping up, crisis points being hit.
And then my own inner Virgo crisis hits – what if I’m doing it (everything!) wrong? What if I’m missing something? And how can I write another blog when I can’t seem to sit with one thought long enough to…wait, what was I saying again? You get the point.
Astrological ritual is one of the tools I use to help mediate these energies. New Moon rituals provide an opportunity to get to know more about my own relationship to the archetypes at the same time as I get to set an intention for the month. So I ask myself what I’d like to focus on using my understanding of the energies of the chart.
Sometimes I’ll create a collage for the event, while listening to a podcast or music. This process allows me to be in the flow while noticing what thoughts come up in conjunction with a given theme. This activity also provides me with something to put on my altar for the month, alongside relevant tarot cards or crystals. It’s a process that builds upon itself.
Sometimes these rituals take 3 minutes and sometimes they’re much longer. One of the most important things to remember is that they should involve a level of playfulness or drama. They should be fun. The basic format involves having a beginning, when I call in spirits/elements/signs; a middle, when I dedicate a collage or stone, pray, dance, or somehow set my intention; and an end, when I express gratitude and close the circle.
The Virgo-Pisces axis has to do with the development of discernment. On the one hand, my natal Mercury in Pisces thrives on that moment of inspiration when it gets to channel the divine down into consciousness and then talk about it (it’s in my seventh house). But then that Virgo function, wanting so much to serve in practical, effective ways (and where I have Mars, Jupiter and Saturn natally), has to use discernment and self-discipline to convey those thoughts in a way that is meaningful.
So now I have some themes for my ritual. I like to distill it into a sentence or two in the form of an intention. How can I honor the part of me that gets off on waiting for the bubble of inspiration to surround me, as well as the part of me that longs to use the information in a way that is helpful to myself and others?
I look at the Sabian Symbol for three degrees Virgo, where the New Moon lies, to get some help. It reads: “Two guardian angels bringing protection.” I instantly breathe a sigh of relief. I’m reminded that there is help – not just for writing and expression, but for everything else that is going on within my life and within the collective. I realize that I can literally call on two guides or helpers (although I have to decide who) in the ritual to assist in my goals for the month. There is support. I’m not alone.
I also remember something that has come up so often recently – that the quality of discernment is both compassionate yet detached, much like my experience of the angelic realms. And I suddenly realize that there is time and space to do all the things I want to do, and that a worthy intention will involve self-discipline, devotion and compassion.
When I make time to still my mind, to listen and perceive, I act on the inspiration that comes with dedication and ease.
Ok, so my intentions don’t usually rhyme – but I’m amused at the playfulness that just emerged, so I’ll leave it at that.