Reflections on our Lived Experience of Saturn/Pluto

This coming, forming, rare conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn (January 12, 2020 exact one time only, but lasting through much of this year and next) — is it a wall, a burden, an obstacle, a barrier, a gateway, a portal, a blast into the unknown?

I’d say yes. All of the above.

What I’m noticing: the growing intensity in the zeitgeist funnels flaming (politically incorrect) arrows through various unconscious or conscious individuals, each one disturbing the chaotic energetic field further, and striking a match that unbalances the zeitgeist to the point where old structures (visible or invisible) begin to destruct and/or reconfigure in a creative manner. In other words, though whatever is the need a certain structure was designed to fulfill, the need itself doesn’t go away; but our way of meeting that need does, and in a manner that allows the rapidly swelling life force to freely flow.

I have three examples to share. But before I get to them, let’s remind ourselves of one of the principles of permaculture, namely, “The Problem Is the Solution.” Here’s a blogpost that focuses on this principle, especially as it applies to permaculture design for land-based food systems.

Adapt the problem to the solution ~ Permaculture Alphabet

My own “specialty” — basically my own proclivity — makes me lean more into social permaculture, namely how to include us fractious, egocentric, individualistic humans in complex natural systems? This has always been a problem in permaculture; most people who practice land-based permaculture do so alone, or with one other partner, and as a result tend to burn-out. Or, they start out with a bang with a bunch of people and then seemingly intractable ego conflicts suddenly or gradually ruin their idealistic endeavor; the group breaks up, leaving hard feelings and cynicism in its wake.

Interestingly enough, in the Permaculture Design Course I took with teachers Peter Bane and Keith Johnson, Peter suggested that for our “Practicum” three of us do a permaculture design for the Green Acres Neighborhood, where I and two others at the time who were also in the course, lived. So we did that, and the way of thinking it inspired in us has informed me since that course, nearly 14 years ago.

The most important principle for our neighborhood design challenge was the one shown above: The Problem Is the Solution. Peter illustrated it this way: Imagine you are approaching a problem and trying to understand every facet of it. At some point you come to a place where all thinking stops. It seems impossible. You can’t go on. He told us to imagine an hour glass shape, and its narrow bottleneck represents the point of impossibility. According to permaculture, this bottleneck is precisely what we need to face and embrace, so thoroughly that our frustration with the impossible task suddenly breaks wide open. In other words, we become so troubled by the seemingly impossible that suddenly the situation reframes itself completely.

Back then, the impossibility had to do with the fact that this 440 home neighborhood is filled with student rentals, since it faces Indiana University. And students, especially undergraduate students, don’t even realize they’re in a neighborhood! Worse yet, they continuously move in and out, plus party long into the night on weekends.

It DID seem an impossibility, to actually think about this neighborhood in permacultural terms. But then, after several days of complete discouragement, the three of us suddenly hit on the solution, the reframing: what had been seeing as the impossible problem, largely unfocused student energy, IS the solution: THE STUDENTS HAVE A SURPLUS OF VITAL ENERGY! Therefore, let us help them learn how to focus their energy into a permacultural way of living! In other words, young people’s fresh, new, vital ideas and physical prowess is exactly what is needed for the neighborhood project to move ahead.

Fast forward until early this morning, when I looked at the top headline of the local newspaper,  stunned:

“Club’s response to insult goes viral.” WOW! But before I get into why the story behind why this headline blew me away, let’s go back to Saturn/Pluto for a moment.

As I said above, it seems that some people are being used by the collective field to consciously or unconsciously insert flaming torches into the atmosphere, which force others to either react unconsciously or respond consciously, and thus, possibly, restructure the entire situation.

In this case, a tenured male professor in the business school had been tweeting out homophobic, racist, and sexist insults. For example: “Geniuses are overwhelmingly male, because they combine outlier High IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness.” Female students at IU were horrified, and said they would think twice about taking any of his classes.

BTW: another aspect of this situation: as a tenured professor he makes an outlandish annual salary compared to adjuncts: $198,000, and this semester he’s teaching exactly one course.

Next, the university dean and provost  of the college weighed in —

— saying that they won’t fire him (read: they can’t fire him) because he is tenured. Nor would they attempt to curb his first amendment right to free speech; but they do also condemn his attitude, will make sure his exams are double-blind, and will not force any woman to have him as a professor.

The next day, wouldn’t you know, the professor fired back.


Up until this point, it looked like the professor would be able to get away with it, insert his flaming arrow into the prevailing academic culture, and cause both fury and further chaos. Which is why I was so surprised when I read the first headline, above, and will explain why at the end of this already too long post, after another two examples:

First, our local city council currently includes a young, female first-time member who sticks out from the historically civil, flowing discussion among the council public meetings. She’s rude and offensive at times, even giving one of them “the finger” one night late in the discussion, and in full view of the audience. (In fairness to her, she’s just not made for long long long discussions night after night after night. And she found that out by getting elected to the council. She will leave at the end of this term.) What her presence has done is insert a sort of thrill or frisson into the energetic of the council. Their usual civility has been disturbed by her flaming arrow. And yet, I have a feeling that because she has been there, they have been forced to dig deeply into themselves, both as individuals and as a group, to reframe the way they are thinking and feeling; as a result, her presence might inspire them to come up with a new and creative manner of going forward.

And second, at our weekly Green Acres Community Dinner last Thursday, three of us got into a  heated political discussion, pro and anti-Trump. This was unusual, in that we usually steer away from politics at these gatherings, all of us knowing that this academic town leans left, and knowing also that there are a few of us who don’t.

But there we go. As the two of us sat down at one of the tables, Annie threw down the gauntlet: “I just don’t understand why you support Donald Trump.” She then began to speak of the impeachment hearings as if they were showing beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the President should be impeached. Having watched part of those hearings myself,  I had the opposite view. Her view came from mainstream sources, mine from alternative sources. I hardly watched the actual people who were being grilled, preferring to pay attention to those who were grilling them. She didn’t even know the names of those grilling them, so enthralled was she with the people who were being grilled.

The atmosphere heated up to an uncomfortable temperature. Then my housemate Camden joined the conversation. It continued to heat up further, when young Alex, who had been watching the whole time, said, let’s all stand up and cheer for purple rather than red or blue! (He obviously didn’t know about, or the meaning of, Hillary and Co. wearing purple on the day after she lost the 2016 election.) He meant, let’s blend our energies, rather than combat each other. And of course, we all agreed. Right in the middle of the low humming dinner party, the four of us stood up, put our arms around each other and whooped loudly in celebration of purple! That dispelled the heat. By the time we sat back down we were laughing.

Another indication of the intensity and yet stratification of this time — the others in the room, fourteen of them, including four young children, all eating and conversing in their own spirited ways, hardly noticed our obstreperous behavior.

Our polarized political debate went on for a while longer, though not nearly as dangerous in its only partially throttled tone. When I finally got up to leave, Annie said to me, “Hey Ann, do you know about St. John’s College?” Yes, I replied: “Where everything is open to fierce debate.” “Well, she responded, “I come from St. John’s College.”

“What? Wow!” I laughed heartily. “Oh good, then we can continue and even increase the energy, get into really robust debate!” I exclaimed. “Yes,” she said, “it doesn’t bother me at all.”

Saturn/Pluto requires us to punch our way through whatever barriers (politeness, being nice, etc. are the usual ones) we have been conditioned into observing, and instead, GET REAL, no matter what the outcome. Let us also ask ourselves to be mindful,  conscious, while doing so; and, as in the case of Alex, we’re in luck when an observer happens to be present, who may see what is needed at some point to reframe/defuse the drama.

So, back to this morning’s newspaper headline.

Some of the young women belong to an entreprenurial campus club, and what they decided to do was put out a black hoodie sweatshirt, with “FEMALE GENIUS.” blazed across its front. They thought they might sell 200 of them, but had already sold 1300  in 24 hours. They expect to shut down sales by Monday, and will give the proceeds to the local Girls, Inc.

“We wanted to use our freedom of speech to respond and make a positive movement at IU and beyond. . . In the midst of this terrible situation, (that) we could completely rise above and use a positive message to make a difference.”

Bravo, young genius female genius entrepreneurs! You’re demonstrating a highly creative way of working with the “outlier” professor’s flaming arrow that detonated long-standing Saturn/Pluto structures. Rather than getting furious and just bashing him and protesting, you responded  with a tremendously positive statement of your own.

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1 Response to Reflections on our Lived Experience of Saturn/Pluto

  1. Victoria Parks says:

    I can feel my grandmother Ruby laughing heartily. She graduated from Indiana University cum laude on full scholarship in 1920 after having skipped two grades of high school. She earned a degree in mathematics at the age of 20, and the only job she could get was teaching high school mathematics. Things have not changed that much.

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