Saturn/Uranus in Sagittarius:
1987, Published in Welcome to Planet Earth
Driving back to Jackson through the Snake River Canyon in my brand new little red Subaru. First time steering a front wheel drive car in a snow storm on slick roads. Been on the road five hours now, hours of uninterrupted thinking. Beginning to relax, to let go of all the projects I’ve been planning, mile by mile, for this new year. Only 30 miles to go, almost all of them on this narrow, twisting mountain road paralleling the ice clogged river 50 feet below.
A large chartered bus rounds the corner ahead. I clutch with fear — thank God we will pass each other on the straightaway! At this precise moment I notice my right front wheel is plowing through soft snow on the shoulder of the road. Not familiar with how front wheel drive works in this kind of emergency, I do what I would do in my old car, jerk the wheel to the left, which points me directly in the path of the oncoming bus — and sliding, out of control.
At this point the bus takes evasive action. Too late. There is little either of us can do to avoid collision. Unthinking, I jerk the wheel to the right.
And that is the last rational thing I can say about my encounter with the bus last Sunday afternoon. All the rest are impressions. Of being enveloped in blinding white light. Of my soul dropping down, piercing through the fabric of ordinary life, taking over. Of entering a state of unearthly calm, a peacefulness unclogged by emotion — where there is no fear, there is nothing. I am suspended, outside time; I surrender to the flow. Meanwhile, questions, questions — and they are in the background, like noise, static: “Is this it?” “When do I fall through the air to the river?”
The sensation of being enveloped in blinding white light was not just poetic. When the car finally stopped and the air cleared it was in a snow bank off the side of the road, just three feet from the cliff’s edge — and facing the opposite direction from which I had been traveling. I presume the snow cushioned my spin, slowing it down, and enveloping the entire car for a few seconds in suddenly disturbed white fluff.
The car was undamaged. I had not a scratch on me. I still don’t know how close I came to the bus, but sense it was within a fraction of an inch. I assume, by the laws of physics, that the actual movements of these two bodies relative to each other, given the forces acting upon them, were perhaps not only improbable, but impossible. Not only was I lucky, I was saved. As happens in miraculous situations, another set of laws intervened to decide how the physical laws would operate. This was not my time to die.
For a couple of days afterwards I was in shock. Going about my daily life in a daze, my mind continually circling back around those few moments, I replayed them over and over, trying to make sense of them, to feel their reality, to embed this particular incident within the rest of my life. No use. The memory seemed flat, remote, it had no charge. As if I were going back over a certain scene in a movie, somebody else’s movie, not mine.
Over and over again I described the incident to others, looking for reflections. Each time I concluded by saying that this event was a major turning point in my life. Indeed, I would add, it cut my life in two. There are now two lives, the one before the event, and this new life, innocent, untried. I knew this way of understanding what happened to me was true, but I didn’t feel it. I still needed to know. Why did this happen to me now? What does it mean?
In the past, whenever I have attracted such an event — and the last one was over ten years ago — it has always been to wake me up from undue preoccupation with the affairs of daily life. This time was different. I wasn’t asleep, not really. Or was I?
Finally, one evening I impulsively call up my gentle friend Clare. Clare understands the quest for meaning, and she and I have spent many long evenings investigating the significance of important events in our lives. Agreeing to drop what she is doing, Clare drives the 15 wintry miles from Jackson out to Kelly . . . what a friend!
As I relate the story to Clare, I find myself telling it in a new way, and the event begins to take on color, weight, significance. Two important themes loom into focus: 1) I brought the trouble on myself — through my fear at the sight of the bus; 2) at a crucial moment the matter slipped out of my control. I jerked the wheel to the right, and at that point slipped into an open space, a blinding white light, where anything goes. Not that I thought about it that way. Indeed, while it was happening, I didn’t think at all.
Whether I lived or died was truly the question . . . and yet the question didn’t matter! I was beyond life and death. I was other than either of them. Life and death were two endpoints of a polarity I set up in the old life. In this new life I feel them as merely different motions within the same current. And “I”? Why “I” am the pulse, the wave that travels through the current.
I was catapulted into this other, more inclusive dimension. I forgot myself, releasing the need for control, and entered, for those few endless microseconds, the paradise of peace.
Clare and I look at one another. We have just spent the better part of an evening intensely probing the meaning of a single incident, my encounter with the bus. We grow silent, still, sitting there in the little cabin flickering in lamplight. Clare’s face grows luminous, translucent. “Ann,” she murmurs, leaning forward, summing up the evening in one remark, “It was saying, trust me, trust me.”
And, I might add here, it was saying you can trust me even when your fear causes you to get into situations where you have no choice but to trust me!
At this point in my life, five major planetary situations are operating — and all in the 1st house, where I meet the outer world. Both progressed Mars and transiting Neptune are crossing natal Venus/Mercury in early Capricorn, both progressed Moon and transit Uranus are moving from conjunctions with my 21° Sagittarian Ascendant to conjunctions with my 27° Sagittarian Sun, and transit Saturn, at 16° Sagittarius, is closing in on the 21° Ascendant. Naturally, on that fateful day, transit Mars triggered the situation through an exact 90° square to natal Sun/transit Uranus.
Saturn correlates with my fear, fear of the bus, of expecting possible disaster. I used Saturn energy in an attempt to control the situation, despite a lack (Saturn) of technical knowledge (Saturn) of the way my new car works in (Uranian) emergencies. Uranus correlates at one level with the sudden, unpredictable nature of the event itself; at another level, Uranus signifies the breakthrough of my soul into this mundane world — and the supercedence of higher laws over physical ones (Uranus transcends Saturn). Uranus also transcended the progressed Moon — there was no fear, no emotion at all. First house progressed Moon correlates with the feeling of a new beginning (especially as applying to a conjunction with natal Sun). And finally, Neptune conjunct Venus/Mercury signifies that state of exalted peacefulness so difficult to put into words.
Of special concern in this series of articles is the relationship of Saturn to Uranus — in my life, in the life of anyone whose charts contains emphasized points in the final degrees of the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces); in the life of our species as a whole, its evolutionary thrust. During these two years, 1987 and 1988, Saturn and Uranus are moving in and out of exact conjunction in the final degrees of Sagittarius. This double placement emphasizes the higher mind, its capacity to endow both inner and outer worlds with meaning.
In the first article of this series I talked about the Saturn/Uranus conjunction as signifying our collective need to articulate the new crystal of knowledge, and focused on our leftover habit of dogmatism as that which blinds us to the crystal. In the second article I attempted to embody theory by talking about how Saturn/Uranus has manifested in my own life.
I had promised in this third article, to talk about certain New Age ideas that have yet to be integrated within the crystal of knowledge. However, when I sat down at the keyboard an entirely different kind of article came pouring through . . . Uranus ruptures Saturn, foiling my plans. So, please expect that other article next month, and view this one as a sort of preface to it.
In this third article, I begin by talking about the process I went through in an effort to give meaning to a recent incident in my own life. In telling the story, I emphasize certain mysterious, non-rational aspects — both within the event itself (the blinding white light, the effort to describe it on an inner plane) and my nearly obsessive drive afterwards to put the event in perspective. In the remainder of this article, I attempt to generalize from this event in an effort to discover what new criteria for assessing the value of any New Age idea might look like.
New Criteria Needed
During these two years when Saturn and Uranus are in Sagittarius, we are crystallizing a new world vision. And in order to really transform the old vision, our manner of assessing the value of new ideas needs to be new, too — that is, not dogmatic. But how does one even discuss anything without becoming dogmatic? Do we know how? At this point in history can any of us claim to have ever done it? Dogmatism seems to be buried at the core of the way we look at meaning. Even when we don’t want to be dogmatic we find ourselves thinking that way.
We seek to set what we think upon firm foundations. We long for certainty, security, safety. We believe — in this religion or that, this guru or that this “channel” or that. Worse, we tend to dismiss any alternative to the possible certainty we are currently counting on as mere fantasy or conjecture, or just plain wrong. Only young children, creative artists, and theoretical scientists escape that stricture, and are allowed free play of imagination as a valuable part of what they do. Among these, only the artist is expected to continue in the same manner. Young children are expected to grow up, and theoretical scientists, sooner or later, must put their theories to laboratory test.
One night, lying in bed thinking about this question of how to discuss and assess the value of ideas in a new way, I fell asleep and had a dream. Allow me to share it with you here.
As recorded in my journal on 11/11/1986: “A full page story and picture in Life magazine of Ralph Nader. Headline says, “How to Tell the Difference between Real and Fake Views.” The picture shows him holding a (his?) baby. Baby is sitting on his knees backwards to the camera but nearly obscuring Ralph. Baby has a huge round bald head. Down below and in a separate picture sort of tacked to the other one — a picture of a round faced, very yang looking kind of mean woman — looks like someone who’d been a radical political feminist for years — his wife, the mother of his child?
“The story says Ralph is now teaching at the Radcliffe Institute, a course on how to tell the difference between real and fake views. He says that his wife has been a student of his whose views were so fake he had asked her to investigate them! In dream I was wondering how do you tell? — and I heard a voice say: “Are the meanings at the core or the periphery?”
This dream struck me the way the bus incident did. Especially the statement at the end. What did it mean? I chewed on this bone for weeks — and got nowhere. Yet, as with the bus incident, I intuitively knew the dream contained a key, that this key would unlock doors for me which I never even knew existed — if only I could find it.
I suggest that in thinking about the multitude of sometimes conflicting New Age ideas pummeling us during these years of Saturn/Uranus in Sagittarius, we pay particular attention to those ideas — and those dreams — which intuitively feel meaningful — even if, and sometimes especially if, we don’t understand them.
I suggest that sometimes when we are confused, it is not simply because we are wooly-headed or lazy. Sometimes our confusion is symptomatic of a sea-change in consciousness, even though while it is occurring we cannot put words to it. Such confusion is important, it is fertile, it is full — and much preferred to any sterile, empty clarity.
We are in transition during these years, we are passing from an old to a new way of knowing and of assessing knowledge, and we don’t yet know the outcome. In this process of clarification, let us not fear our confusion and jump to conclusions — especially by using old dogmatic criteria! Let’s not miss something important, no matter how confused it may seem in the beginning.
I had the Ralph Nader dream two months ago. All this time it has been festering inside me. What did it mean? Then a few days ago, I applied the final statement in that dream to my encounter with the bus, with results.
The bus incident is easily analyzed by dividing it into “core” and “peripheral” meaning. As long as I focused only on the peripheral meaning, my understanding of the incident felt flat, unreal, “fake.” Peripheral meaning is equivalent to the facts: a literal description of what happened on a mechanical level. The core meaning is secret, interior. It radiates out from the blinding white light at the center and, as Clare noted, hears the message of trust.
I entered an infinite space during those endless moments, floating free. I had no idea what would happen; there was no certainty, no security. And it didn’t matter. I didn’t care. The other side of insecurity is surrender, absolute surrender. This is the peace that does pass beyond understanding, and ironically, does the job the so-called “security” of “certain” knowledge was designed to satisfy.
The ability to surrender to an infinite space is not peculiar to me. We all share this ability, though it usually lies dormant, secret. Often, extreme circumstances are required to put us in touch with this state of expanded awareness. When our blinders are temporarily removed, we are literally forced to perceive reality in new ways.
This ability is especially prominent in those born in my generation, 1942 to 1947, who have Uranus trine Neptune in our birthcharts. We are a generation that slips easily into alternate realities. We are naturally attuned to both extremes of thinking (Uranus in Gemini) and to the mystery of infinite space (Neptune trine Uranus, both in air signs). A subgroup of this larger generation, those born between 1942 and 1943 who also have Saturn conjunct Uranus, are meant to anchor this ability into the world of everyday life. We are adept at both generalizing from concrete to universal meaning (Saturn to Uranus/Neptune), and at applying (Saturn) the universal (Uranus/Neptune) to the context of ordinary affairs.
In that moment of being centered in the blinding white light, I was a point twirling through infinite space. There was no direction, no goal, there was only the now, expanding from me, the center, outwards forever. As is this small globe we live upon a point twirling through infinite space, with no direction, no goal, only the flow of itself turning round on itself, and round about the sun, over and over, there is no end to it, and no beginning. It simply is. Where is certainty in infinity? Where is the need for certainty in a world with no boundaries?
When we identify solely with the ground under our feet, we tend to think of knowledge the same way, as that which we understand — which “stands under” us. When we identify with Planet Earth and its larger, infinite setting, then our manner of discussing and assessing any idea must undergo a radical revaluation.
There is no place to stand within infinity. Nor is there any “logical” point of view. All points are relative, no one is preferable to any other. Everything counts — and nothing does. We oscillate, rocking back and forth between polarities, contrasting day and night, dark to light, each flowing into the other, there is no end to it, this mystery, this ambivalence. “The opposite of one great truth is another great truth” — Emerson.
Each point, each person, each idea, is the center of its own universe. And its meaning is a rushing wind opening out of the fathomless hole which, only seconds ago, was merely a point. “Meaning it,” as the philosopher Wittgenstein put it so poignantly, “is like going up to someone.” All of a sudden it looms into view. All of a sudden, we are there, inside it, as one.
“Real” as opposed to “fake” views somehow share this feeling of coming from/being a source, a core, a seed, one which radiates outwards in every direction forever and which, in order to gain meaning, becomes as one with the one who seeks it.
Take this idea of intuitive/intensive appreciation as a way of feeling into the core meaning of ideas and contrast it with the dogmatic manner of assessment. First of all, in the dogmatist’s world, there is no core meaning; there is only peripheral meaning, called “objectivity,” where only the outside counts. Where we locate and analyze “just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” (The fact that this saying is specifically oriented towards a woman, a “ma’am,” intrigues me. Could this be because women are more naturally — or is it culturally? — disposed to subjectively identify with what concerns them?) The facts are what count, what is countable, quantifiable, measurable, definite, certain, secure, safe.
I prefer to call facts “factoids,” as they change so quickly, and have such short half-lives. Like the addict with his fix, those who need facts — who obsessively listen to the “news” (sic) on radio or TV, who read newspapers daily, newsmagazines weekly — these are embarked upon an endless, and inherently unsatisfactory quest. There are never enough facts, or there are way too many. One can never pin a fact down, make it last, never be certain that the next fact one encounters won’t upset one’s carefully constructed argument, or scientific experiment.
Secondly, notice how easily the concern for peripheral meaning translates into a concern for appearances, at the expense of reality. For example, beginning with Nixon and Watergate, the U.S. Government has been more concerned with its “credibility” than with being worthy of our trust. What counts here is not truth, but whether or not a particular claim to truth is believed. The election of a movie actor to convey a “presidential image” is the apotheosis of this government’s focus on credibility. Government here is simply an extension of Madison Avenue. Both use certain hidden techniques to convince us that the mask is real. For both, truth is replaced by illusion.
Thirdly, the obsessive dogmatic need to be right, to have the one truth which eclipses the other pretenders, is symptomatic of a misguided search for core meaning. Core meaning cannot be discovered by “objective” methods. Only a radical subjectivity will put one in touch with the interior of one’s concern. In scientific culture, subjectivity is not only frowned upon, it is considered “biased,” “merely personal,” — even “mushy,” “sentimental.” Core meaning is thus ignored; indeed, it is denied.
The drive for core meaning is inherent in human nature. It cannot be denied without rising up again in new form. Until it becomes recognized for what it really is, the drive for core meaning is deflected into the search for “proof,” for certainty, for that one particular version within the flux of appearance that will, somehow, fix into place. This project is, by definition, impossible. Core meaning is not arrived at by proof, or by any other rational means. Core meaning must be felt deeply, in one’s bones.
What I am saying is, in order to assess the value of ideas for inclusion within the New Age paradigm, we need to overcome our deeply-rooted cultural tendency towards dogmatism by tuning into our natural empathic abilities. Our feelings, when integrated with our entire beings — and that includes the rational mind — are an infallible index to the way we need, not so much to “see,” as to “be one with” all living things.
In this way, we can assess what is of value, what is not. We can attend a hundred new age lectures and workshops, and know which of the presenters speak from their core, which do not. We can read a paragraph or two of any new age book and know, in our guts, whether the ideas in that book are authentic or merely credible, whether that author is speaking in his or her own original core voice, or whether s/he is just imitating others. We are the ones who set the standards for what is valuable and what is not. And to do so, we must penetrate to what is of value in ourselves.
The gateway to the universal is the particular. As we tune into our precise, original and utterly individual natures, we attune to the universal harmony of the spheres. The point becomes the hole — and the hole a mere point in a larger infinity.
Return to the Dream
The generation born between 1942 and 1949 with Uranus in Gemini — and especially those born between 1942 and 1943 with Saturn and Uranus conjunct in Gemini — have both the talent and the opportunity during this time to help crystalize the new paradigm for knowledge. And to do so, this generation needs to overcome its natural tendency to see only the facts, the peripheral meaning (the emphasis on Gemini, its focus on concrete factual knowledge), and tune into the opposite sign Sagittarius, where Saturn and Uranus are now conjunct. Sagittarius represents the higher mind, that which is concerned with understanding of wholes. Wholes operate by different principles than do the parts of which they are composed. One cannot predict the whole from the part; the laws which govern wholes operate at the core, they are incommensurable, new. And new understanding cannot be arrived at through logical or any other kind of “reasoning.” What is to come must be felt, intensely, deep inside.
“Proceed from the dream onwards.” — Anais Nin Proceed from our vision of a new life and a new world onwards to create that new order in the outer world. Our vision is the baby with the huge bald head sitting with its back to us in my dream. Our vision is huge, and its features are still hidden, unknown. In the background sits Ralph Nader, below his wife, the mean-looking lady. Both Dad and Mom have been critics of society, the best of their kind. Both are warriors, dogged, alert, indefatigable. And though in these latter days of the industrialized world, even the best men and women do not see eye to eye, these two, somehow, came together in love.
Their child was conceived in love. At the basis of love lies trust — and thus, meaning. We must love one another, trust one another — and mean it.
Dad and Mom did their job, and now they fade into the background, eclipsed by their creation. The crystal of knowledge has taken on flesh.
Their talents were necessary to create the new child of our vision, yet these parents are of the old world. Their modes of understanding are analytic, logical, objective. The child’s mode is new, is inclusive, wholistic, compassionate.
The baby’s features are forming, forming, and over the next two years that baby shall gradually turn around and look us in the eye.