Reading Glenn Perry’s excellent article in the recent AA Journal about interpreting the chart as a story line with a moral challenge or conundrum (or multiple moral challenges or conundrums) at it’s core, prompted me to think about how our storylines converge or interplay with the greater storyline at a Cosmic level. This notion of interpreting the chart in the light of being designed to create the conditions for a particular part of our evolutionary journey is not new to me, having been at the heart of my teaching from Chrissy on the Black Hole Game of Life. In my own life, Astrology has provided the detail of the plot for the story and the I-Ching guidance on the moral conundrums that the storyline provides. I have long been awe-struck by the way that the cosmic storyline so intricately weaves together individual storylines so that their plots are perfectly intermeshed to provide fuel for each others storyline and also for the collective one (at a family, group, organisational, national etc. etc. level). We seem to all be part of a game designed to provoke evolution and each of us plays our small part in the greater process of evolution.
I was wondering therefore what the plot line and moral conundrum at the heart of the current Pluto-Uranus transit is? Indeed I know there are multiple moral conundrums but they are meshed together within the archetypal parameters of Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. In turn these two giants play out a storyline with other characters in the plot in the form of the Neptune-Chiron conjunction and faster moving and more dynamic characters who pop up on the stage for more rapid cameos such as Mercury, Mars and Venus.
It strikes me that within business (since Capricorn rules business) there is a transformation taking place. Within the legal profession, I am watching the fact that there is a breakdown in hierarchy and traditional modes of business bought about by innovations in technology. Work is being outsourced to other countries at an ever increasing pace and what was once highly paid work being done by specialists is being commoditised and performed by lower paid workers. Even the elite law firms are having to adapt to greater pressure on price and commoditisation and the entrance of new adaptable players on the market (firms like Axiom offer flexible models of working and interesting projects to bright young lawyers which challenge the traditional model of the “magic circle” firms). The current financial crisis is adding impetus to this by focusing organisations on cost and efficiency with even greater ruthlessness. Within the EU it is causing conflicts in terms of budgets and whether we want to continue to pay for expensive European administration. Anything which has grown fat and decadent is the subject of pressure to be pruned back.
At the same time, there are programmes being instituted to breakdown the elitism of “The City”, to bring in people from less privileged backgrounds and to encourage a less “privileged” mindset. More than this, the normal parameters of business are shifting, with technology playing a greater and greater role in day-to-day business, perhaps on the scale of a new industrial revolution. My father, currently suffering Uranus opposite his Mars and Pluto square it, who is no slouch in IT terms, feels distraught at being excluded from a whole world accessible only by the technologically savvy younger generations.
In the West, our companies are increasingly dependent on and starting to be underpinned by finance from Asia, as is the American economy.
Trying to look from a broader perspective, what is the moral conundrum that we are solving or being challenged to look at here? What I see is that there are a number of threads to this. Part of it, is the acceptance of change. Pluto has always had the idea of “thy will not mine” to me. The sense that we cannot fight with Life; it is ultimately far more powerful than us and while we might be sure that we have a better idea of how life should be, we are not in control and we have to sacrifice our most cherished notions to this reality. While Pluto, in my view, often grinds us down over time like a relentless steamroller, Uranus in Aries brings quick, shocking and sudden changes. Those in power, whether it be Assad in Syria, Gadafi before him or Angela Merkel in Europe are like King Canut trying to hold back the waves; you sense that their efforts are ultimately doomed because they are fighting a battle against forces beyond their power to control.
It is the same for my father who is struggling to come to terms with old age and the changes this is bringing. Activities like looking after the lawn and clearing the garden of leaves have become symbolic of his inability to hold back the process of aging and the changes it is bringing in his ability to cope.
Glenn Perry described the moral conundrums or black holes that sit at the heart of our evolution as being “insoluble”. Chrissy’s work on black holes suggests that the solution is always concerned with “giving up” or “letting go”. What is it we are giving up? We are giving up our attachment to a mind picture of how we want our lives or the world to be to accept the reality of the way that the world actually is or is changing to be.
In the case of Europe there is a very strongly held collective mind picture that Europe is important, that it must survive; that it is the only way the nations within it can survive. Yesterday, in running a training programme in Frankfurt a German woman I was talking to, was horrified to hear that there were people in Britain who could consider leaving the European Union. She was vehement that Britain could not possibly survive outside the EU, even when I pointed out that Norway and Switzerland have done so very successfully, she was horrified at such heretical thinking. Yet there is something similar in the notion of Europe and what I am seeing in the law firms. The old elite (Capricorn) is under threat. Europe used to be the aristocracy of the world; wealthy, politically powerful and used to being at the centre of world affairs. Yet now there are parvenus appearing at every corner. The nouveau riche of China, Brazil and India threaten to overwhelm the established order and we are having to get used to our new role in the world and also to the economic pressures to compete that this will bring. For many, our purses have tightened and the days of largesse feel behind us. In business the wind of competition on price and value is blowing hard and most are having to cut their cloth accordingly.
At another level, there is little that is new in this cycle. Life is manipulating us through fear and greed (another form of fear) to change. We are caught by the fear that unless we develop our technology and find new ways to compete we will be left behind; that we must streamline our processes or jump on the bandwagon of outsourcing or we will be shipwrecked by the economic times. This is a con, we are being manipulated into change for life’s ulterior purposes of evolution. Yes, it has its purpose in challenging where we have become flabby and decadent and at another level of evolution I can only speculate that this is part of the ongoing development of shedding unnecessary elements of our existence; more and more of the manual or routine in our lives is being mechanised or computerised. Perhaps we have to feel we will be left behind or miss the boat or why would we bother to evolve? Since this similar process has been going on for eons – the Normans defeated the Saxons largely due to their ability to harness horses in warfare, Stone Age man was outmoded by Iron Age Man and so on. It is very much like Groundhog day, as Glen Perry noted in his article.
Yet, perhaps we are missing the point. The point is not that we can control these events. The point, as in our personal lives, is how we deal with these events, in our attitude or response to them. I have always felt a certain sympathy for politicians, because it strikes me they are at the forefront of the con of life. They are voted into power with the explicit expectation that they can do something about the mess, that they can influence, shape and change things. Yet, as I notice in coaching leaders in large business, they find themselves powerless to control forces that everyone expects them to control. So how do we deal with these forces?
The I-Ching talks about change in the hexagram Shock. Its counsel is that such times of Shock are times when we “examine our heart lest it bear any secret opposition to the will of God”. That is we have to embrace and open our mind and heart to the change, to accept it, no matter how much we may dislike it or it may not fit with our picture of how things should be. Yet it also suggests that these external factors are not the key but rather our inner attitude; “When a man has learned within his heart what fear and trembling mean, he is safeguarded against any terror produced by outside influences. Let the thunder roll and spread terror a hundred miles around: he remains so composed and reverent in spirit that the sacrificial rite is not interrupted. This is the spirit that must animate leaders and rulers of men-a profound inner seriousness from which all terrors glance off harmlessly. So the I-Ching is suggesting that we must develop our inner nature. This is the message of the film Groundhog Day, that at first Bill Murray’s character rages against life and fate, trying to push against it and change it. Yet as it repeats he comes to accept it and attends instead to what is important, his own attitude and the way he is treating others around him and the external events become less important to him than his own inner life and approach.
The I-Ching also says shock comes oh!oh! then laughing words, ha!ha! The fear and trembling brought by shock have their value in waking our consciousness but once we see the game we can laugh and regain our perspective. We can laugh at how Life is playing with us all. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all laugh at the current economic crisis and at the way we have all been conned? We really thought we had broken the cycle of boom and recession – ha ha! Look, we think Europe is so important – ha!ha! We thought we were so brilliant as big law firms, or consultants – Ha! Ha! We bankers thought we ruled the world, ha ha! The wonderful woman I met in Germany who was so horrified by the thought of leaving the European Union, had in general a very wise perspective. She thought that life had a very British sense of humour, a sense of the absurd and an irreverent enjoyment of playing with our expectations and wishes.
Humour, I think, tells us that we are ok, no matter how bad the situation. As the Irish rugby team always used to say “the situation is critical, but not serious!”. It tell us that we can have the sense of perspective to see the game but not be caught in it and take it and ourselves too seriously.
I was talking to someone at one of the large firms I work for about the process of change going on and the need to be more efficient (they were a Capricorn). Their perspective was that it was a good thing as everything had become too flabby and inefficient; it was a reassuring return to good business precepts. My heart didn’t like this. I could appreciate the truth in some of it, but it had no heart, no compassion for those around them who were being made redundant. It was cold and uncaring. Life is ruthless, there is no question about that, it wants evolution and it doesn’t care how it gets it; it is manipulative and brutal and whether we suffer or die does not appear to concern it; it is operating at a vastly greater scale. However, I don’t think we have to be brutal or if we are, that it diminishes us. I think we can care for each other. The sort of humour I describe has warmth and connection in it. It brings us all together. The I-Ching says that “we are all one in our hearts”. We might not be able to prevent the events of life or its demands but we can choose our attitude towards them and not lose sight of the hearts of those around us. I wonder if Life is presenting an opportunity to bring us together; it certainly seems that it is spreading organisations across the globe so that people from different cultures have to get to know each other and work together and with outsourcing and commoditisation it is bringing the mighty down to earth somewhat to remind them of their humanity. This is not to say that new winners and elites will not form, that appears to be part of the cycle and parameters. Yet we are now questioning these things, being forced to bring them to consciousness. We are in a pruning phase of life and while painful, it is necessary. We cannot avoid this cycle but we are responsible for our attitude and how we play it out. Bashar Al-Assad is an example of this Groundhog Day phenomenon – it is another chance to decide how we play the same situation as Libya. It appears insoluble. That the current elite must fall and reconnect with the common humanity of the masses seems a given, yet how to do it? It is Groundhog Day, in that this was also the situation with Saddam Hussein. I wonder how many times we will need to repeat this plot before we evolve to playing it with real compassion and consciousness? At the moment, there is a stalemate and it appears insoluble. No-one wants to allow a peaceful transition where Assad leaves because we want him to be punished for his sins. Yet what is more important, that he is punished or that the violence and deaths stop and Syria can make a peaceful transition? We like to think it is not really our moral conundrum but it is.
We can deal with these situations more consciously; we did it in South Africa, we did it in India and in Northern Ireland, but we had to let go each time, of the desire for revenge or retribution, of violence as the means for achieving transition. I wonder how we will play it this time? Can we bring Neptune-Chiron compassion for the mess and suffering to bear in this situation and in the economic mess we find ourselves in or will Neptune-Chiron play out in an orgy of avoidance of responsibility, dissolution, scapegoating and suffering? Do the changes in power (Pluto) lead to a deeper understanding of life and a recognition of what we truly control? Is Uranus played out with cold brutality and violence or its higher level of enlightened consciousness and a break with old approaches? The parameters of the plot or storyline are clearly delineated by the planets and their aspects but we can choose how consciously we play and do we bring the best of the planets or the worst? That is our moral conundrum to solve.