Charles Dickens pulled off a literary first when he gave a detailed account of the aftereffects of spontaneous human combustion in his epic novel Bleak House. The recounting went like this: While sitting and dozing in his cluttered room, Mr. Krook — a grizzled, alcohol-steeped rag merchant — abruptly burst into flames, leaving just a rancid smell and a gruesome pile of skeletal ash in his wake.
Dickens, a writer of keen detail and authenticity was always taken at his word by the public. And so one of the most horrifying images from the 19th Century claimed a spot in the collective imagination.
Even today, tales of spontaneous combustion continue to flare up (sorry) in the tabloids. And if those are not genuine, still, the impression of a human being inadvertently bursting into flames is a striking symbol — both mythic and alchemic.
I recalled Dickens and Mr. Krook while contemplating an illustration to mark Saturn’s entry into Capricorn on December 19. The image is fitting while Saturn closes in behind Pluto’s smoldering trail; a path that appeared like a flash fire after the tiny dynamo entered Capricorn in 2008.
The two planets will conjoin in January of 2020. Take this as an alert from the solar system’s public warning system.
Actually, why wait until 2020 when the world is poised to shift — radically — in just a few days? WINTER IS COMING. And we’re all invited to what is the equivalent of a wedding between Shiva and Father Time. Or One Wedding and a Funeral.
Through A Lens Darkly
The solstice horoscope for 2017 is dreary — sobering. Just as the Sun seems to halt (sol = Sun — sistere = to make stand), the solar stillness is permeated with Saturn’s zero-degree presence in Capricorn, having just entered the sign the evening before.
The life-giving radiance of the Sun merged with Saturn’s leaden pall imparts a somber hue to the start of the New Year. Saturn’s ‘moment in the Sun’ is a preparatory exercise for a shoring up of resolve as we move towards 2020.
Ponder this: As the planet astrologers associate with the reality principle blends with Pluto — the solar system’s black hole generator — what kind of altered consciousness might this tease out from the depths?
True. The promise is both unnerving and exciting — sort of like the surge of energy one experiences right before purging whatever has been hoarded throughout a lifetime. And that’s always a good thing, after the fact. Yes?
We haven’t experienced Saturn making a conjunction with one of the outer planets — Uranus, Neptune and Pluto — in close to thirty years. The last time was in 1988 when Saturn touched off Uranus in Sagittarius and the Soviet Union collapsed. An event that seemed to materialize out of nowhere (a very Uranian theme).
But where Uranus accelerates and shatters, Pluto slowly dematerializes until a flash point is struck — sending everything over an event horizon.
Something to consider: Will Saturn’s upcoming meeting with Pluto burnoff the hallucinogenic fugue that’s defined the global culture since 2008? The solstice chart hints at the start of this process.
On the somatic level, Earthlings experience Saturn like this: “Here! Stop. Look at this event in slow motion. Study this until you’ve aged a bit.” In other words, time suspended allows us to look deeply, to become absorbed within the field that is the Capricorn matrix — that is to say — our collective experience of reality — the goatfish being the most pragmatic sign in the Zodiac.
Because modern Western culture lives primarily from what Gurdjieff called the ‘head center’ — a limited, intellectualized perspective that distances us from the world of feeling — both emotional and physical — the pressure to face facts, to engage in a heartfelt way with the world can seem brutal.
Saturn, with persistence (and constant wake-up calls), ultimately, paves the way for the crown of wisdom. This is doubly so while transiting Capricorn, a sign the planet melds easily with. But the ‘arriving’ of the wisdom can feel one step removed. Delay: One of Saturn’s most grinding tests.
But who wants to see that deeply and clearly? Wouldn’t it be easier to keep reading online op-eds or watching televised talking heads that ‘explain everything’ to us?
When you put the demand to awaken against the fuzzy stupor we’ve lived through since 2008, the perspectival switch is startling. Suddenly the peripheral is emphatically in front of us — and in a high-def way: Depleted bank accounts or life savings that have evaporated, health insurance uncertainties, ‘entitlements’ from the government on the chopping block, trickle-down economics that defy gravity and float back into the wealthiest’s wallets.
Both Capricorn and Saturn tangle us into the corporeal realm of finances — the reality of frugality and austerity; two words that seem anti-American. A bore. Read more