A Tree Grows From Rock, Wittenoom Gorge, Australia. Image courtesy of Public Domain Images.
A Tree Grows From Rock, Wittenoom Gorge, Australia. Image courtesy of Public Domain Images.

You’ve probably had those moments or passages — the ones where you feel like someone or something has suddenly put shrink-wrap or a straitjacket on your life (and in your mind), making it hard to breathe and offering what seemed little ‘wiggle room’?

It occurred to me very recently, as I was immersed yet again in one of those ‘shrink-wrap’ or ‘between a rock and a hard place’ moments, that there is a very real practicality to what we call ‘spiritual practices’ (whether we practice them within or outside of a particular tradition).

Sound familiar?

While it’s actually very intuitive and sensible, in ‘dominant thinking’ of our culture this would seem counter-intuitive or ‘woo woo’.

In astrological language, this would be the essence and qualities of experience linked with Neptune (Expansiveness and Big Love) and Saturn (Constriction and Fear).

This is significant because these two energetic and archetypal ‘power players’ are currently squaring off in our shared macrocosm, and perhaps showing themselves in our personal experience, too.

The Bridge in the Woods. by Rafail Sergeevich Levitsky.(1885-1886) The Stavropol Regional Museum of Fine Arts, Stavropol, Russia.
The Bridge in the Woods. by Rafail Sergeevich Levitsky.(1885-1886) The Stavropol Regional Museum of Fine Arts, Stavropol, Russia.

I have the Saturn-Neptune square in my natal chart — meaning it was an astro-dynamic ‘headliner’ when I was born, so it has been a constant and demanding master teacher for me.

Here’s the gist, so you can see how this might play in your own life, and how you might engage with and benefit from it.

Traditional astrology often reduces big energetic and archetypal dynamics into pithy, and often negative, sound-bites.

Pluto is reduced to as ‘ruthless Pluto’; Saturn as the ‘punitive task-master’; Neptune as ‘delusional and dissolving’; Venus as ‘lipstick, hair gel, and lingerie ads’; Mars as the proverbial ‘hot-head brute’; Mercury as the grasshopper-minded flibberty gibbet; and so on.

While there can be some truth to these descriptions, they’re hugely incomplete.

Given that whole Nocebo Effect thing I wrote about recently, any such ‘word prisons’ are important to recognize and ‘open up’ into their fuller potentials, because we’ve all been conditioned with a saturation of fear-centric ‘word prisons’.

Zion Narrows, by Jon Sullivan. Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.
Zion Narrows, by Jon Sullivan. Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.

Traditionally, Saturn is associated with constriction, rock-and-hard-place circumstances, punitiveness, isolation or separateness, initiation through limitation and constraint, boundaries, and fear.

Neptune is associated with flow, grace, dissolution of form and boundary, surrender, trust, faith, imagination, dreams, and the Big Love, Agape.

Saturn is the rock (and thus the ‘hard place’), and Neptune is the water that flows onward, softening those hard edges … or the fog that obscures the ‘constructed world’.

If interpreted in the more limited, fear-centric ways, these interpretations shrink the ‘field of all possibility’ — like putting shrink-wrap packaging around something and sucking all the air out of it. That tends to come from, speak to, and heighten the fear-based conditioning in us.

“Expansion is the best way to survive any crisis. Fear deprives people of choice. Fear shrinks the world into isolated, defensive enclaves. Fear spirals out of control. Fear makes everyday life seem clouded over with danger.”

~ Deepak Chopra, SF Chronicle, 11/19/08

The Puritans [Image source unknown]
The Puritans – Very Saturnine!
[Image source unknown]
Neuroscience research shows that the fear-button-pushing activates the survival-oriented lizard brain and tends to squeeze off the passage to ‘higher brain’ that facilitates our connection to intuition, creativity, creative thinking (and thus ‘outside the box’ problem-solving), empathy, compassion, and other such gifts.

The more limited, fear-centric Saturn qualities have long been a dominant staple in our culture — and they’re the point of the neuromarketing that saturates us — while the Neptunian qualities have been downplayed, marginalized, or outright dismissed.

Gosh, I wonder why that is, and just who benefits from it? But I digress …

All of Life, and Life within us, cries out for the release of that shrink-wrap and the restoration of balance, that Ayni I’ve hinted at in recent musings.

Spiraling back to the insight that dropped into my awareness during the recent ‘shrink-wrap’ moment …

The first of the Voyage of Life paintings by my fellow Imbolc-born Aquarian Thomas Cole (1801–1848)
The first of the Voyage of Life paintings by my fellow Imbolc-born Aquarian Thomas Cole (1801–1848)

I was reminded of several previous ‘rock and hard place’ passages where Saturnine (and other Planetary Pals) constraint and shrink-wrapping felt intense and beyond my previous experiences — and so stirred fear and anxiety to heightened levels.

I was also reminded that in those passages, when I leaned into the Neptunian ‘spiritual practices’ — like simple meditation done with Saturnine discipline and constancy — the shrink-wrap seemed to loosen and the ‘tangled conditions’ eased as if by some Grace flowing in through the opening created by the meditation (etc).

Most spiritual root-wisdom has long emphasized this in the teachings, and if we take clues from the recent neuroscience and consciousness research — like the work of Andrew Newberg, M.D., author of How God Changes Your Brain, for example — we see the evidence for it there, too.

So the Neptunian power of the Big Love and its Grace, and the spiritual practices that remind us of our ever-present connection with it; along with the imaginal, the dream time, ‘vision space’, and flow, and approach those practices with the Saturnine gifts of respect, discipline, devotion, and consistency, the Neptunian (in alliance with Saturn) becomes very, very practical in the effects we notice within ourselves and then rippling out ‘into our affairs’ as some word it.

“Every day, you have to wade through a relentless surge of soul-less facts.
The experience tends to shut down your sense of wonder.”

“Every day, you’re over-exposed to cynical narratives that have been
sucked free of delight and mystery. That’s why you have to make such
strenuous efforts to keep your world enchanted.”

~ Rob Brezsny, Pronoia & Free Will Astrology

Stream in Sequoia National Park, U.S. [Photo courtesy of PD Photo via Creative Commons]
Stream in Sequoia National Park, U.S. [Photo courtesy of PD Photo via Creative Commons]
That’s one way to approach the Neptune-Saturn square-off as it might be unfolding within you and in your own life.

I can tell you that I’m doing just that, and at the very least, it gives the benefit and gift of supporting greater wellness, reduced stress, and increased ability to be centered amidst the storms and uncertainties.

And who knows, if we let some fresh air, Big Love, and Grace into that shrink-wrap, and therefore through as as within us, we might just become able to see-and-be more fully the  greater possibilities for healing, restoration, regeneration, and creativity in a world troubled by the imbalances in it. The Big Love, flowed through us to Earth.

It’s worth the experiment, isn’t it?

Have you had experiences in your life where the Neptunian gifts and practices — whether imaginal ‘work’, dreaming, or meditation (and connecting with the Agape, Alaha, Big Love, not the sort that keeps you circling in your mind) have, in hindsight, helped to invite what seemed like Grace and a loosening (or dissolving) of the Saturnine constraints and ‘straitjacket’?

Feel free to share below in the comments, or by direct email if you prefer the more private conversation.

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Big Love and Graceful Navigating,
Jamie

 

The Fair Face of Woman, by Sophia Gengembre Anderson (1823-1903)
The Fair Face of Woman, by Sophia Gengembre Anderson (1823-1903)

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