Our current 2-week eclipse season closes with today’s Lunar Eclipse in Taurus. How have the last two weeks been for you? How have your rational mind, will, and sense of self (the Sun) been getting along with your instincts, emotions, and the flow of unseen forces (the Moon)? Have you caught a glimpse through the veil, faced an unexpected plot twist, or had the opportunity to purge (or marinate in) some poison?
I ask questions because reflecting on your experience of astrology is more important than reading interpretations of astrology; at least once you have a basic grasp of the language. Even if you don’t have the language down, experience is still number one. And experience opens up and transforms the more you engage it directly.
Thanks to the conjunction of Mercury (communication) and Mars (action), opposite Jupiter (the broad view), I’m going to go on what may seem like a tangent, but stay with me. We’ll return to the Eclipse soon enough.
One thing I have learned from years of astrological practice, coupled with years of deep psycho-spiritual practice, personal transformation, and explorations of consciousness: Don’t take anything at face value. Time and again, I have seen astrological transits play out in totally unexpected ways, while nevertheless retaining their core archetypal meaning.
The most beautiful experience of my life occurred on a day when, having seen the transits, I expected something terrible to happen. The “something terrible” was nothing more than my own fear, standing at the threshold of a higher reality. Ever since that experience, I have seen everything differently. It’s made me approach astrology, relationships, grad school, food, goals, entertainment, world events, and my identity — truly everything — differently.
I’ve learned that everything in the phenomenal world really is a play of shadows. It’s Plato’s Cave, but with a twist: The Cave of Shadows is not a fallen realm, a prison from which we must escape. Yes, it helps to leave the cave occasionally to get perspective. But once we have perspective, it is possible to see through the shadows themselves — or even to see the shadows as carriers of divine intelligence and power.
Two ingredients are essential here. One is a willingness to let go of expectations and interpretations, at least temporarily: To know the mind’s definitions and agendas are never ultimate. The other ingredient is a subtle shift of attitude — a particular mental/ emotional posture that acts as an antenna for grace. The closest word we have in English for this is “faith,” but that carries centuries of cultural garbage and has us equating faith with belief. The Sanskrit word is shraddha, which, in Sri Aurobindo’s words, is more like a “clairvoyant intuition” of our true nature. In other words, we don’t need to ascribe to a belief system because, deep inside, we already know. We come preloaded with this knowledge; whether or not we become conscious of it is a different story. If we learn how to listen to its promptings — first subtle, then increasingly clear and insistent — it will bring us everything we need.
In contrast to shraddha, beliefs arise from doubt. We also come preloaded with doubt. As with shradda, doubt responds to particular habits of thought and feeling: the need for answers, obsession with self/ identity/ opinion, “what’s in it for me?”, and especially a vehement intolerance for painful inner states. This last one may be the mother of them all, as everything else we do seems to be nothing but an attempt not to feel something we don’t want to feel (or something we do want to feel).
So, we use the mind not to define and set terms but to hold our attention in such a way that something far more intelligent can take control.
To return to the Eclipse. The attitude of shraddha I just described, along with a willingness to accept the limits of the mind, is the best way to approach eclipses. The veil is thin, and what lies beyond may seem strange indeed, especially the more we try to define it or act on it. Eclipses can disturb us by shadowing a core element of the psyche. Sun and Moon align with the Lunar Nodes — potent activators from another dimension, considered demons in Indian astrology, and Karma/ Destiny points in Western astrology.
I won’t go into all of that here except to say that, of all the things I’ve experienced in astrology — seen at play in my own life and others’ — the nodes are by far the most mysterious, significant, and challenging to put accurately into words. They represent the dragon, coiled around the treasure of the Self. The encounter with this interface between your earthly self and higher self can be both exhilarating and disturbing. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas: “Let one who seeks not stop seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will be disturbed. When he is disturbed, he will be filled with wonder and will rule over all.”
I hope I didn’t unsettle you too much! It is spooky season, after all. If I have one message in all of this, it is: Don’t be scared. You might not be what you think you are, but what you are is beautiful. And everything — I mean everything — is a sign of your true self if you allow yourself to see it that way. See it all as the play of the Divine Mother, whether you see her as Kali, Isis, Nature, or a higher aspect of yourself. If the language of “Divine Mother” is too religious for you, consider her the power of the Being that animates all manifest reality — though I really must recommend a more personal approach unless you can get goosebumps from abstract ideas.
She is real; she is beyond anything your mind can know, and she loves attention. So give it to her!
I’ll leave you with a condensed verse from the Devi Suktam, chanted during Navratri (the Nine Nights of the Goddess), which began on the solar Eclipse two weeks ago and ended this week:
To that Shining One who manifests in all beings as Consciousness, Intelligence, Sleep, Hunger, Thirst, Shadow, Power, Love, Peace, Patience, Beauty, Faith, Abundance, Activity, Kindness, Contentment, Mother, Delusion, the Elements, the Senses, we bow to you, we bow to you again and again.
Alex Stein is a teacher, coach, astrologer, and shamanic sound healer. He is currently pursuing a PhD at the California Institute of Integral Studies in East-West psychology, in the hopes of finding a new language to bring awakened understanding into public discourse. To learn more, or book a session, visit Alex at https://www.twentyfirstcenturyalchemy.com/