Everyone around me at the moment is experiencing a lull in work and money. People's pay is being frozen or they are being made redundant, for consultants there is less work around. If we look back to the generation and events of the Neptune, Saturn, Uranus conjunction it was the during the 80s and early 90s that the conjunctions were taking place. This was an era which gave us Dallas and Dynasty as well as power dressing - with big shoulders (very Capricorn - lots of ability to bear responsibility on our shoulders!). It was an era when the Berlin wall came down - the capitalist west had won and a whole block of countries were exposed to the capitalist free market system. Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street in 1987 said "greed is good". With Uranus now square Pluto in Capricorn and the banking system in disarray this no longer seems as accurate a picture! Indeed the illusions of Neptune in Capricorn are giving way to loss and chaos as Neptune has moved into Pisces. Whilst in Aquarius Neptune seemed to expose us to the virtual world of computers. Neptune has also been conjunct Chiron. Somehow the love affair with money has turned sour. Yet at the same time, something interesting is happening. Whilst no-one seems very happy and life has turned sour in material terms, I notice that people are getting more interested in a spiritual perspective and they seem to be having more compassion for each other. People seem to be turning away from ambition and hierarchical advancement as the road to fulfillment. No-one seems to be enjoying life as much but in all the coaching I am doing people seem to be looking for deeper answers or answers outside simply work or work progression. I wonder if we are weaning ourselves off being so attached to money to provide a sense of fulfillment? In the work context, speaking to a client yesterday they were describing that the motivation in their department is at an all time low and everyone feels down. This has produced a blame or scapegoating effect where everyone is sure it is someone else who is to blame for the fact they are feeling miserable. They seemed to think that in the long term it may be no bad thing, in that everyone is having to adjust to not seeing money as so primary.
Certainly my own journey seems to reflect this. With Saturn and Chiron conjunct in the second house squaring my Sun and opposing Pluto-Uranus, fears about money and having enough have always been a source of anxiety, despite the fact that I have earned well over the years. Recently, with Chiron in Pisces touching my Saturn I have been experiencing a fall back in my usually very dependable abundance of work. Initially the shock of this was a fright, but as I have adjusted I have watched myself becoming more interested in the day to day interactions I am having with others and having more time for friends and people that needed my help or that I could share a common experience of how difficult things are at the moment with. Somehow, this giving up and going with the flow feels very liberating and it is easy to see how the abundance of work had its dangers. At the same time, it is creating a fresh set of challenges about the nature of dependence with so many people feeling desperate and wanting to grab or attach themselves to others. I have also been struck by the commonality of challenges and potential black holes that close friends and I are encountering. We are even throwing similar lines and hexagrams in the I-Ching.
I recognise this is only my story or description, yet it is clear to me that stories are the way we make sense of the world, our ability to store learning and to take meaning from our context. One of the tests of mental illness is that people lose their ability to tell stories - their ability to make sense of their world. I borrowed a way of using stories from a seminar with Liz Greene. She talks about the Sun being our hero, the Ascendant being our Journey and the Moon being our resources. When I run programmes with people I ask them to describe themselves as if they are a hero from a book or film and to describe their journey and their resources; what fatal flaw they have and what obstacles and monsters they have to overcome. The results are always quite remarkable. We ask the individuals to share their stories and everyone is amazed at how accurate the stories are about the individual and their lives. What is strange is that usually the individual does not see it at first, they are unaware how deeply accurately their unconscious has described their own journey and motivation. I also ask people what the role of stories is in our lives and they are very astute at describing the way that they convey meaning, create vehicles for learning, carry and re-inforce culture etc. They are also very insightful about the role of heroes, monsters and magic. Heroes reflect our aspirations in life but they also allow us to play with aspects of ourselves through analogy and imagination in order to become more than we are, to fulfil our potential. Monsters reflect our shadow, our fears, illusions and negative aspects. It is no co-incidence that in so many fairy tales the hero or heroine embraces the beast, the ugly crone or the frog and through their embracing of them, transforms them into something beautiful. We can see this in practice in being able to embrace our own shadow, our negative sides that we would hate to identify with, that once embraced makes us a fuller and deeper human being. Also, it is often light - clarity and insight, which disperse the shadowy monsters of our fears or anxieties. I think that magic in books and films is about awareness or consciousness. It is interesting that magic takes difficult situations which appear unsolvable and transforms them. I think this parallels our experience in life, somehow awareness and the perspective it brings transforms situations, even though the situation itself might not change, how we understand it and see it changes.
What always baffled me about films and stories was how unrealistic it was that the hero would take on vast armies single-handedly and defeat them. Yet, having experienced periods at work when recessions happened, I began to see the truth of this. When working at Ernst & Young at the turn of the last century (I love saying that, it sounds like it was a hundred years ago!), the dot-com bubble burst, Andersens collapsed and Enron went into self-destruct. The accountancy firms went into turmoil. I saw at that time that the Lord of the Rings with Aragorn and others taking on vast orc armies was an accurate analogy for life. I watched the effects of fear and anxiety transform vast swathes of people in the firm, like a marauding orc army, changing people into their worst aspects. It was intriguing that the only thing that did stop this rampaging army was individuals. These individuals were the ones who were brave enough to get the fears (particularly their own) out into the open and not be caught by them. They prevented those around them being injured and were able to be honest and challenge the fear based actions and negative emotions surrounding them. Their impact was astonishing. Not only this, but I began to see that the stories people used provided unique insights into their journeys in life and that stories in general were really describing important aspects of these journeys. For instance, taking the Lord of the Rings again, I saw that each main character in the Lord of the Rings has their counterpart who represents what they could become if they are corrupted by power. For Gandalf it is Saruman, for Frodo it's Gollum, for Aragorn it's Sauron, etc. Not only that but Frodo takes Gollum as his guide in letting go of power. This is interesting for me as my own learning about power is that it is not being good which is important in not being corrupted by power, but rather being aware of all in us that could corrupt us - our desire for power, greed, competition etc. If we have the more primal sides of our personality follow in view, they become our guides in preventing us being corrupted by power and being able to choose not to act on them. It is a similar picture in Harry Potter. Harry Potter's shadow is Voldemort, they are the same person. This is clear from the fact that their lives are so intertwined and they share their link through an old wound which never fully heals - a modern Chiron myth! It is also intriguing to note that Harry always has to face his most dangerous moments without the support of those parental figures who could help him. Dumbledore has always been called away to the ministry when things come to a crisis, each figure that Harry becomes attached to is systematically killed off - first his parents, then Sirius Black, Dumbledore and finally even Snape. It is a journey about taking responsibility to deal with our own difficulties in Life. What is fascinating is that those people who chose Harry Potter as their hero invariably had lost parents at a young age or had a journey where there had been little or no support for them and they had been unrecognised for many years (like Harry in the real world). Yet they had not been aware of these connections consciously when they chose the story.
Another level where stories play a significant role is in reflecting our current level of evolution. Having not watched television or films for many years I was struck by the fact, when watching films again recently, of some of the dominant themes and how they reflected very closely the actions we were taking collectively. For instance, it was clear to me that most American action films shared a common theme. The 'good' guy was wrongly hurt by the 'bad' guy and then set about attacking the 'bad' guys and destroying them, in order to protect everyone, or simply for revenge. This was the same plot that informed films liked Avatar which was haled as somehow groundbreaking but depressed me in repeating the same myth. The essence of the myth is that if you are the good guys then it is ok to use power and violence to achieve your ends and defeat the bad guys. In effect that "might is right". I couldn't help feeling that this was dominant myth prevailing in the approach to Iraq and Afghanistan and the response to the Twin Towers. I watched the way that films manipulated you into feeling that it was great that the heroes were killing the baddies - that they deserved it and it was somehow justified but of course by the end there was no difference between the goodies and the baddies; both were violent and destructive and both justified their violence and power to themselves. This didn't strike me as much of evolutionary step. So perhaps we should be paying attention to the stories we are telling and what they are telling us about ourselves and our own individual and collective evolution.