This document is a detailed summary of a talk that I plan
to give. It is not full of astrological jargon, but is designed to show you what the stars have said to me over the years and made my life easier to understand. The following diagram outlines the
basics of this talk.
On the left you see the “Know Ledge” (please excuse the play on words, I have a Moon in Gemini.) We tend to think of what we know as rock-solid, but it seldom is. In fact, that’s a good thing because we have a very important need to keep our minds open and aware of new possibilities.
On the right you see our “Self” struggling along, trying to make decisions about what is right or wrong, and in need of compassion or discipline. This is our conscious mind making daily decisions, and it does so using what I call the “Inner Dialogue” --- that conversation with yourself that has the power to change or not change your behavior.
In the middle you see the conscious and sub-conscious (sorry about the submarine) feedback loops which are constantly at work forming and re-forming your knowledge.
But what exactly is your know-ledge made up of? I break this up into four categories:
One of the problems of seminal events is that you may not immediately recognize them as seminal. By “seminal” I mean that the event contains within it the seed of something that will bloom into your life. Unfortunately, that “bloom” may not always be for your own good. Often it may seem as though you have no control over how an event will affect your life, but I believe that you actually always have a choice.
Let me give you a real example. My partner, Carla, when she was eight years old, had a two-year-old baby sister who died of medical complications. She has always cited it as a pivotal experience that contributed to her long career in the health field as a nurse, a teacher of nurses and a director of public health in a town here in Massachusetts. I believe that we all have seminal events like this if we remain conscious enough to recognize them.
I have my own seminal event that I would like to share with you because it has echoed through my life endlessly. It happened to me when I was eleven years old in the late summer of 1954. My family’s house at that time bordered on a pond about 24 acres in size. All summer long I would take my small aluminum rowboat out to go fishing, something I loved to do. One evening, as the whole family had gone to bed upstairs where there were three bedrooms --- my parents’ room across the hall, my older brother’s and my room which we shared, and a small bedroom off the hall where my younger brother, only two years old, slept in his crib.
As it was getting late, I began to hear my parents arguing about something that I couldn’t hear in detail, but it sounded scary to me, and I began to cry. Somehow, my mother heard me sobbing and came in to calm me down and reassured me that everything was all right. I remember that I had trouble catching my breath because I was so upset.
After she calmed me down and was convinced I would be OK, she went back to bed. I knew my older brother had been listening to everything, so I asked him if he had heard what they were arguing about, but, as he usually did, he told me to “grow up”, stop being such a cry-baby and then turned over toward the wall. I was not going to get sympathy there, I knew. So I waited a while until I heard him snoring, then I put on some clothes and sneaked downstairs.
I went out to our garage, picked up the oars to my rowboat, grabbed a couple of rags to muffle the sound of the oars and slid the boat off the beach at the front of the house. I rowed out to the center of the pond, then I lay down on the rear seat, dangling my feet over side into the warm summer water.
It was then that I looked up at the clear star-filled sky and began to see the immensity of it all. I had recently gone on a trip to the Boston Museum of Science, and although they had not yet completed the Hayden Planetarium, they gave lectures about how long ago, long before Jesus was born, the Babylonians charted the skies, saw animals, gods and things like dippers and scales in the sky and named them. It was the way we used to connect the dots in grade school to create images. They were called constellations, which simply meant a gathering of stars. The stars and constellations were used by travelers to guide them through their journeys over deserts and oceans.
It’s hard for me to fully express how this night sky took hold of me and changed my way of being in the world. I can only say what I was feeling back then and what I have thought about it many times since then. The first thing I felt was awe, and with it a sense of calm that I had never felt before. It felt like a great paradox (although that’s not a word I would have used at age eleven) because there I was out in the world in a situation my parents would have described as dangerous and reckless, but it felt just the opposite. The world was dark but I felt light as a feather. I had often felt that the outdoors was my favorite place to be. In daylight I often walked through the woods by myself and was curious where old dirt roads or paths went, and I followed them in every direction.
But there were several other factors in what I was feeling. I had been going recently to confirmation classes in my mother’s Episcopal church. In those classes we studied the Bible, and the minister frequently talked of God. I wasn’t clear in my thinking about God or whether the Bible was any kind of proof of his existence or of Jesus’ place as His Son. But I couldn’t help but feel that the stars and the beauty of the night were somehow a key to being alive and being a unique person in my own right.
This is where yet another factor of my life back then entered the picture. My father owned the only movie theater in town, and I could go to the movies for free, even though I had to spend my quarter-a-week allowance if I wanted candy or popcorn. What the movies gave me was not only a place where I could have fun experiences, but it stirred my imagination in ways I couldn’t have guessed. I loved cowboy movies and even admired the Indians (although they weren’t always framed in the best light.) I loved the fact that they lived outdoors for the most part, close to the great “N” Nature. And I particularly like the fact that they referred to God as “Great Spirit”. This was what I felt that summer night, the Great Spirit --- the closest thing to a God that I had ever experienced.
As you might have guessed, I made it back safely to my home, and my family never knew I had gone out. In fact it was years before I told my mother about it, and my father died without ever knowing. But the ripples of this seminal event in my life have lasted a long time. Here I would ask you to examine and share your own seminal events and notice how they have informed your knowledge and your life.
It was not until I was twenty-nine years old that I began the process of creating a complete context for my life using astrology. I had just completed a year (1972) in which I had lost my job as a high school teacher, begun a divorce, lost my father to heart disease and started a new career in computers. My boss in my new job, writing documentation for software programs, had been an Air Force jet pilot in the Korean War in the early fifties.
He was also very much into astrology, and we agreed he would read my chart. This was another seminal event for me. He knew very little about me except that I had been a high school English teacher. He introduced me to the idea of a planetary “return”, which is very simply the return of a planet to the same position where it was when I was born. He explained that the simplest example of this is one’s birthday, when the Sun returns to its birth position. A return, he explained, was always a significant event in one way or another, and then he pointed out that in my chart I was currently experiencing the return of the planet Saturn, which occurs for everyone around their 28th to their 30th year. The reason why it takes such a long time is that Saturn is far away and takes 29.5 years to go around the Sun.
He then began to explain the kinds of experiences that typically occur during a Saturn return, such as divorces, or losing a job or anything that indicates your need to grow up and face life in a more mature way. He even explained that his father had died during his Saturn return, forcing him to face the world in an entirely different way. I was stunned! I had not told him of my father’s death, or my pending divorce or of losing my previous job.
This was the beginning of what was, to me, the most significant turn toward self-knowledge that I have ever made. I began to read everything I could about astrology, and for several years thereafter, I asked people I met if I could do their astrological charts. When I looked at the positions of the planets during the summer of 1954, it turned out that I was going through the “return” of the planet Jupiter, which turned out to be the ruler of my Sun sign, Sagittarius. Jupiter goes to its return position about every 12 years in someone’s life, and it is the planet of expansiveness, of looking upward, and of gaining a philosophical outlook.
There is so much more that I could talk about regarding astrology and how my life has been so significantly enhanced by it, but I’ll close this talk with a final seminal event that occurred when I was fifty-nine years old. Fifty-nine is known in astrology as the year of the second Saturn return; that is, the second time that Saturn occupies the position it was in when you are born.
My partner, Carla and I were walking on a beach on Martha’s Vineyard near where we had spent our honeymoon seventeen years earlier. Back then we had walked the same beach and I had explained to her my habit of looking for beach glass, those shiny rolled objects that the sea coughs up on the beach like jewelry. I explained that I had never found a red one because red glass was so rare. As the gods or my subconscious, or whatever would have it I found my first red beach glass about 20 seconds later. Of course, being the person of mystery that I am, I considered it a sign that we had made the right decision in getting married. On our second Saturn return to the same beach, I again found a red beach glass and it was in the shape of a heart (see the image at the end of this blog.)
Thank you for listening/reading;