Listening to the Beyond - III
The Imaginal Location
In 2006-2007, Pluto aligned with the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. There are currently (2013-2014) three 'Centaurs' approaching this same alignment. We explore this area of the sky, rich with stories and symbols. (1)
This constellation lies above and between the archer Sagittarius and the Scorpion. The Centaur’s arrow points at the heart of the Scorpion, across and under the feet of Ophiucus, providing an apt symbol of the process by which the arrow of insight reaches our own ‘heart of darkness’. This sky pattern is depicted as a man with a snake, and is seen variously as a man struggling with snakes, a snake charmer or as Asclepios, the Hero Physician, and pupil of the Wounded Healer Chiron. The snakes that twine around the Caduceus are associated with the Greek god Hermes, but also with the healer god Asclepios. The snakes can be said to portray the movement of healing within the human energy system in which the physical spinal column in embedded.
Diagram: Nick Kollestrom
This constellation was traditionally associated with both plagues and the cure of plagues. Nostradamus lost his entire family to the plague, although he was a doctor, and healing people of the same plague. This constellation sits at the ‘high noon’ position in his horoscope. The snakes of Ophiucus are sometimes described as separate constellations, Serpens Caput, and Serpens Cauda, meaning ‘head’ and ‘tail’ of the snakes, respectively.
The Beyond Approaches
Pluto is very far away from the Earth.(2) So much so that some astronomers consider that it is not really part of our Solar System and belongs instead to the Kuiper Belt, as one of its major objects. This is a disk of matter like a doughnut ring that surrounds the Solar System. It was discovered in the early 1990s and represents the newest frontiers of planetary science. Pluto’s orbit is also steeply inclined to the Ecliptic, and so there are times when it is widely separated from the orbital path of the classical planets.
Its realm of experience is those encounters with our own inner depths on a solo journey that only we can make. We do indeed go far away and ‘far out’, whether literally, in pilgrimage and external changes, or invisibly, in a meditative state. In our busy world, it can happen that we are brought to this depth of solitude through illness. Whatever the means, we are invited to release our attachment to worldly endeavours, at the same time as remaining involved. Just as Pluto’s orbit ‘cuts through’ the orbital plane of the other planets, the Pluto experience is one that ‘cuts through’ our habits, patterns and resistances, bringing to an end that which is outmoded and no longer relevant. Making ourselves available to this process is a useful art during such times - see below.
The Galaxy from Afar
The shape of our galaxy, when seen ‘from above’ is a spiral form with several ‘arms’. (4) Imagined at eye-level, it is a disk with a bulge in the middle, evocatively reminiscent of picture of the archetypal ‘flying saucer’. One might wonder whether this is coincidence. William Herschel (1738 – 1822), who discovered the planet Uranus, depicted this shape with astounding accuracy, after painstakingly measuring the distribution of the stars in space. Even more intruiging is the illustration in the corner of the page of his journal which shows this (5). It is the ‘Flower of Life’ (6) This motif (illustrated here) is found carved in stone in a number of places including Egypt, Sweden, Lapland, Iceland and the Yucatan. Many familiar and archetypal geometrical patterns which have significance and power can be found nested in this design, among them the Tree of Life from the Kabbalistic tradition, and the Vesica Piscis of Esoteric Christianity. Platonic solids and Fibonacci spirals can also be seen embedded in this beautiful design, which is thus an emblem of the uunity underlying all of Creation. Indeed, this mystery lies at the heart of the galaxy.
In fact, from 2003 – 2007, Pluto travels along the edge of Serpens Caput, the head of the snake (7). In the Shona culture of Zimbabwe, the Fallopian tubes are described as ‘snakes’ and the ‘eyes’ are located where the eggs are generated. (8) Snakes have long been associated with fertility, healing and magic, and also with a certain kind of ‘seeing’ which enables that which is hidden to be revealed. The eggs wait to be fertilised, a most potent symbol of potential new life, hidden deep within the body. They wait their time in silence, called forth by cosmic rhythms expressing themselves in hormonal tides. This image provides a specific teaching as to how best we must invite our own renewal.
From 2006 until 2040, Pluto’s position will be closer to the ecliptic plane, where the rest of the planets orbit, and by 2019 will be right on it. If the constellation of Sagittarius is envisioned as a winged Centaur, then at this time Pluto is located where wings grow from its shoulders!
The Galactic Node
The point where a planet crosses the ecliptic is called a ‘Node’. The Nodes of the Moon are the most commonly used, although the Nodes of any planet can be considered as points of concentrated essential qualities relating to the planet in question. The ‘Nodal Axis’, a pair of points opposite each other, is a very important axis across the horoscope, and shows a line of destinal activity, life-themes and major influences in the course of our evolution in this life. This axis is defined by the passage of the Moon across the ecliptic.
The zodiacal point where the Galactic Plane intersects with the ecliptic is currently at 0 degrees of Capricorn, and located in constellational terms under the foot of the Serpent Bearer (9). There is an ancient tradition that states that the Cancer/Capricorn axis is related to the process of souls coming into and out of incarnation. They can be considered a major ‘gateways’ of birth and death. We certainly have had at this time on earth a huge ‘population explosion’ and at the same time there are unthinkable numbers of people dying daily from a variety of causes ranging from war, natural disasters and disease, some of it man-made.
During 2006 and 2007, Pluto was aligned with the Galactic Centre, and in 2013-2014 there are three 'Centaurs' who will follow up. This means that every year, in mid-December when the Sun is approaching the Solstice, there is a major activation of the themes described above.
At these times, the theme of ‘immensity’ is very present. It is an opportunity to review our life in the Light of the Beyond, and also to invite impulses from the future to reach us. These are times of vision, of connecting with purpose, renewal of direction, when we may be nourished by the awe of inhabiting a universe mysterious and grand beyond what we can ever hope to understand. Resting in this appreciation helps us put our own lives into a wider perspective, and provides a sacred backdrop for all our endeavours to be true to this birthright.
(1) The zodiac is a 12-fold division of the sky, which starts from the Vernal Point, or 0 Aries. Because the sky is an ever-changing system, our position relative to the starry background has shifted over the years. This means that the constellations from which the signs of the zodiac take their name do not always line up exactly in the same area of the sky as their respective signs. The difference is currently about 23 degrees
(4) For a library of beautiful images of galaxies, see http://www.aao.gov.au/images/general/galaxies.html. See also ‘A View of the Universe’ by David Malin, Cambridge, 1993.
(7) A good sky simulator programme like Starry Night will clearly show this movement. See www.starrynight.com.