Star Talk | By Denice Taylor

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ONE OF THE most pervasive, and not unfounded, criticisms of astrology is that it de-emphasizes individual choice and responsibility. When astrology is reduced to a deterministic practice of misfortune telling, I believe this is true. In this form, astrology may be seen as violence.

When astrology is practiced as a process of exploring potential and expression, it is an expression of gentleness and compassion. Astrology is the study of light. More specifically, astrology is the observation/experience of the movement and relationship of Light. We can see Light as the phases of the Moon, the changing of the seasons, or the way a smile lights a face. As a study of Light, astrology focuses on living. It offers perspective, inspiration and connection. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Reader question. This past year has been an incredibly difficult one for me, beginning with my birthday on September 11, 2001. I'm a New Yorker and live not far from the WTC site. Coupled with the deteriorating health of my ex-partner of 12 years -- the most seminal influence in my life -- from AIDS, I had difficulty coping and lost my newfound sobriety of nine months. On February 3, 2002, my ex-partner died of AIDS. Three months later, on May 15, my boyfriend of eight months died of a heart attack. Three months later, on August 19, my best friend in the world, who really showed up for me in this difficult period, ended our relationship because he could no longer cope with my erratic behavior. So, you see, within a very short span of time, I lost the three most important men in my life. Incidentally, my father committed suicide when I was 18. Feeling at my wits end, I failed at my own attempt and ended up spending two weeks in the hospital at the end of August and early September. I once again have three months of sobriety under my belt, and I am beginning to feel hopeful about the future. But I still have a good deal of residual fear that something awful is waiting just around the corner for me, particularly given that I'm at that three month marker again. Is there more disruption coming my way or may I finally begin to heal? (9/11/65; Virgo Sun, Pisces Moon, Leo rising)

Denice replies. I empathize with the pain and loss you've experienced. Although you say you still have a good deal of residual fear, your renewed sobriety and the beginnings of hope are excellent signs. They indicate that you are choosing to begin to heal. Because they are life-affirming choices, they also represent your ascending potential.

There are many elements of your chart that could be used to frame the events that you describe, and perhaps to provide a way of understanding some of the emotional and spiritual dynamics of this lifetime. For example, you had important Chiron transits leading up to these events, and you are at the end of your Pluto square Pluto transit. These transits can come with a feeling or experience of loss, inevitable events, or clearing out important areas of your life. They are often the most important turning points. Not all people experience them with the loss and intensity that you have. But they are always unforgettable transits.

In addition, Pluto in Sagittarius is in the process of squaring your natal Sun, which it will do over the next two years. Whatever is going on in the lives of the people around you, this is a very important inward transformation for you. It's a time to live as consciously as possible, and to make a life project out of maintaining your health, both mental and physical. If change is upon you, this is not the time to resist, because Pluto always prevails. Yet as Martha Wescott points out, while we may find Pluto transits extremely challenging, we always miss them when they're over, because that energy pushes us to work on ourselves so diligently and to grow so much stronger.

However, I'm inclined to use the approach that a little astrology can go a long way. So, let's look at your ascendant at 27 degrees of Leo, which provides us with some subtle clues about you.

The ascendant, or rising sign, is the sign (and degree of that sign) that was on the eastern horizon at the time you were born, in the place you were born. It marks the point in this lifetime when you drew first breath as an individual. It is your dawning.

Traditional astrology describes the rising sign as your personality, the face that you show others, or the ego through which you interact with the world. Leo rising is often characterized as warm, generous, self-centered and needing lots of attention. Sometimes this is an accurate description, but of what use?

If we look at the ascendant in a slightly different way, we can see the rising sign as what lights your Way. Leo rising becomes the process of connecting with life, of the discovery and commitment to vitality. Your healing is as much a function of your choosing to live as it is a function of what has happened or or will happen to you. With Uranus now crossing your relationship angle (which is in late Aquarius) there may be more disruption coming your way, because there is more life coming your way. This does not have to derail your healing. Many times this transit will arrive with people who are truly committed to helping us become free, even if the time they spend in our lives is relatively brief.

Working with your rising sign is directly connected to your strong first house, which is filled with Virgo planets. The mutable and transformational energy of Virgo moves toward wholeness and grounding in your physical life, versus accepting the suffering and martyrdom traditionally associated with this sign. Your Leo rising also ties in with having your north node in Gemini in the 9th, which emphasizes developing a spiritual context for your life. Whatever you choose needs to be your creation and expression rather than something imposed upon you.

As part of choosing how you will create and live, I would gently encourage you to seek the support you need to maintain sobriety and encourage faith. A couple of suggestions. If you choose to work with astrology, you may want to consider a process-oriented astrologer who is willing to listen at least as much as he/she talks. This would most likely be someone who is both an astrologer and a therapist and can work with both methods. If you find someone whose work includes the centaurs, Hylonome and Nessus are conjunct your north node and could provide some insight into what your continued healing requires.

If you choose a more mainstream approach, you may want to consider therapy that takes a nonjudgmental path. Eric Francis has written about his experiences with Hakomi, including how to find a therapist. I have also had good results with combining ritual, cranialsacral bodywork and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR). EMDR is successfully used to help with posttraumatic stress, anxiety and fear. The important thing is that you maintain a commitment to a long-term healing process in the wake of these events.

Another thought that crossed my mind is the flower essence Star of Bethlehem. Flower essences are like homeopathic remedies. Their effects can be very profound or extremely subtle, but they are gentle by nature. As described in Bach Flower Therapy by Mechthild Scheffer, Star of Bethlehem "relates to the soul potentials of awakening and reorientation. Star of Bethlehem is indicated for all the consequences of physical, mental and spiritual traumatic experience, irrespective of whether this arose at birth or only yesterday. Treatments designed to work through psychic traumas can derive valuable support from Star of Bethlehem. It is the comforter and soother of pains and sorrows, taking the personality back to its Higher Self."

I want to include the Sabian symbol for your rising sign. (The Sabian symbols are like Tarot cards for the zodiac. There is one image for each degree of each sign, and the images are described rather than pictured.) From Diana Roche's book, The Sabian Symbols: A Screen of Prophecy, the symbol for your rising sign is "A rainbow"; the keyword is significance. The theme for this symbol is hope. "This symbol speaks to the universal awareness that comes to those individuals who work toward the achievement of enduring goals. It also speaks to divine cooperation and the opening of the cosmic treasure chest to all who are trying to bring their highest visions to fruition. The image of the rainbow is the traditional symbol of hope, and it dramatizes God's covenant with man or His promise that those who remain faithful will never be destroyed or abandoned. Your greatest advantage lies in finding the hidden promise in even the worst of situations. Nurture the highest potential wherever you find it."

I wish you the best. ++

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