The Power of the Witness

Today I would like to focus on an issue highlighted by several comments and questions that I have received on this journal and by email.  Here are two example questions which illustrate the broad principle I should like to expand upon:

Jacque asks in response to Advanced Vulcanology: aspects of Pluto: “I have Sun trine Pluto, Mars trine Pluto and Mercury trine Pluto.  Ppl find me intense, angry, stubborn.  I can also be obsessive, compulsive about certain things n ppl.

My question is: when you speak about transformation, what do you mean?  How do we transform these energies to help us in our lives and relationships instead of it deteriorating into power struggles and people we love leaving us because they cannot handle our demands, which are draining to them.  Please answer.  This has turned into a great issue for me and I am having a crisis bcoz someone very important to me has left me and I did not even know that the relationship was draining them to that extent .”

In a similar vein, Rachel asks: “I want my Chirotic Awakening now! Is there any way to spur this awakening along, or to call it forth or something?

While both these questions are motivated by differing struggles, life conditions, and indeed, planets, there is no question that they deal with the issue of personal transformation and while the process operates in a different manner for each, the objective is precisely the same. I have dealt with these themes in the past, and two articles spring immediately to mind, in the case of Chiron please refer to The Chirotic Awakening and for Pluto try Pluto and the Personal Planets Revisited, both of these intimate some of the qualities of the specific transits of these profound bodies.

If we raise our perspective just slightly, we can apprehend a phenomenon known as the Observer or Witness. This is an awareness that is beyond our subjective perception of life and circumstance. Now, people will argue that objectivity is impossible, and there are countless treatises in psychology texts and journals which would support such a conclusion, however, objectivity is really only mindfulness, which is a quality of awareness which can be actively cultivated through meditation. It is at the heart of the Buddha’s assertion that “meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance.” If you sit quietly, and this is but a moment’s work, and place your awareness slightly above you and to the right, you will perceive yourself objectively. It is a rather sublime trick and it takes practise, this resulting presence is called the Observer or the Witness. It is a very peaceful practise which promotes objectivity – albeit in small phases – but which eventually transmutes into mindfulness, that being a habit of self-possession (as distinct from formality, which is to mindfulness as pride is to confidence). It is mindfulness which is the greatest tool at our disposal in the ongoing struggle to transmute our astrology into a valuable, edifying  journey, rather than a static imperative.

Pluto is himself the arbiter of this new superpower of humankind, and – if I may quote myself – we owe him a debt of gratitude in this respect: “We do not wake up to the complex and far-distant archetypes easily. I see how completely Pluto has made his presence felt in human life of course, but it was not always so. The Wall Street crash of 1929 (financial wipeout) heralded his arrival, and the creation of an atomic bomb followed quickly, but it has taken a great deal of development to realise the transformative potential of Hades. What is truly wonderful is the understanding that with Pluto’s discovery our very beings were invested with a transformative potential! Previously, our astrology was fixed, now we are all waking up to the power to transform! Such a great gift was not even available to our great-grandparents, they were more or less cursed by the stars (or blessed of course), but now, if we are prepared to take the journey into the underworld (which is the monomyth as described by Joseph Campbell), then we can emerge, like Theseus from the labyrinth, one step nearer to our soul’s objective: Solar self-fulfilment. What a profound gift, and that too is Pluto of course: a gift beyond wealth!

Plutonic transformations are incredibly painful and difficult, but I have seen them occur in those people around me too often to deny their feasibility. I do not discount the probability that the immediacy of astrological insight, applied with a healer’s incentive (and occasionally more bluntly) has pushed people and situations to the point of catharsis, triggering remarkable immolations and Phoenix-like rebirths of the spirit. Sad to say, very much more often I have seen Plutonic processes run unchecked into destructive power-struggles, control contests and various forms of bullying, manipulation and outright malice; so these are not matters to take lightly, however, the process is a necessary facet of the new human paradigm, so we must embrace the risk (feel the fear and do it anyway), because otherwise we will not grow in wisdom, strength or character, and most importantly, we will not understand how to love.

There is nothing more tragic in my view than seeing a person in their 60′s who does not understand how to love. I would not curse anyone with that crushing burden of spirit, but the world is populated with these lost souls, shuffling blithely to physical oblivion, but already long dead in their hearts.

So what to do?

Attend to your own journey, because you cannot force change on anyone else and to attempt to do so is to misuse your power, and misused power has implications for the heart in particular. Unlovingness always manifests in the heart. I was born with a hole in my heart, I had to be resuscitated three times as a baby, the priest was called to give the last rites and that tallies with the experience of my own journey, I have had to learn how to love, and to one extent or another, we all have that challenge to face. You cannot force anyone else to change, but you can change yourself, especially with the path marked out by astrology, and that transformation will push those around you to catharsis, without coercion.

Each major transit, progression, direction represents an opportunity to transmute your soul. This perspective is crucial, it is no good feeling hard done by, or blaming: these are childish reactions to our own imperatives: nobody made your life but you, it was mapped in tenor at least the moment you took your first breath, so where is the blame? If somebody deserts you it is because it is what your soul required, not proof of their innate wrongness. If somebody steals from you then it is marked in both your destinies, thief and victim of theft: by all means pursue justice, but not vengeance. Ask the Witness for the appropriate response and you will find your way.

Now, each planet has its modus operandi. If you can familiarise yourself with the sense impression of each then you will be gifted with a remarkable diagnostic tool; broadly – and I could write vast tracts on each of the following, so be generous with your impressions – the outer planets operate on the personal planets in the following ways:

Uranus: A sense of brittleness, rationalising, justifying, being cold, unemotional, abrupt, making hasty, sudden or contrary decisions. Distancing is a common Uranian tactic, becoming remote, feeling alien, misunderstood, separate, outcast, unwanted, these are the sense impressions that arise when Uranus is operating on your personal placements.

Neptune: The Sea-King always evokes a sense of yearning, either positive – which manifests as a dreamy reverie, or negative – which usually entails disappointment. Wishing things were different, feeling defeated, wanting to curl up, go to sleep, wishing yourself dead, in any way at all wanting to escape, disappear, avoid reality, all these are hallmarks of Neptune’s passing. Being confused, evasive, hard to pin down, feeling victimised, wanting to give up or surrender, becoming exhausted with it all, not understanding others’ motives and actually not wanting to believe that they could be so hard, incompassionate and controlling, these are all Neptunian responses to conflict and struggle.

Pluto: The great leveler, He seems to make our strongest convictions into his playthings and he dares us to up the ante time and again, until one day we discover that we pushed too far and lost it all. Pluto evokes feelings of grainy, filmy discomfort. His influence is always slightly unwholesome, as though something pornographic has entered your aura and tainted the situation. Nobody emerges from a Plutonic situation feeling clean or refreshed: indeed, whatever is the diametric opposite of refreshing and cleansing is Plutonic pressure. If you can learn to feel that sensation then you have a very precise warning klaxon o give you advance notice of lose-lose situations. What do you do when a Plutonic confrontation is on the cards? You disengage, get out, create distance, as much as possible, because Pluto can only wreak havoc in a power struggle and refusing to fight is the best way to fulfil the dual objectives of not fighting back and not getting steamrollered at the same time. Be like a guerilla army, become evasive, Neptune is Hades’ brother, and equally mighty. The sea absorbs, it cannot be held or contained, it is not rigid; you cannot smash it. Plutonic people in overdrive are ten a penny just now, so evade, fence them off. Do you know that when a mortal was struck by Zeus’ thunderbolts they could not be buried amid the general population, they had to be buried apart, fenced off, and nothing would grow there! (There’s an Anunaki theory if ever you heard one). The same approach should be taken with Plutonic people and situations – especially at this time: fence them off! Do not engage! Once you learn this method the situations and people are easy to spot. Covert manipulation and aggression are the advance guard, (here is a fabulous book for spotting and calling out the Plutonians in your life incidentally) and normally they will project Pluto, accusing you of being a control freak, all as a cover for their own deep-seated control needs, but be careful, are you quite sure you’re not trying to control the situation? Invoke the witness and see what’s really going on.

Chiron: Here the major sensations are all about a lack of confidence, insecurity, sensitivity and defensiveness. Chiron’s sign placement is much more pertinent than it is for the outer planets as a rule; so in Pisces, victimisation is a theme, Aries, feeling insignificant and unworthy and  so forth. The sign and house of Chiron is very much the area of life that we don’t want to take a stand over, so we might evade the confrontation (Pisces), or come out heavy, all guns blazing so that our opponent simply thinks it isn’t worth it, or conversely being a complete doormat (Aries). Ultimately, Chiron operates in this exact way, making us so uncomfortable with a given situation or theme that we do almost anything to avoid dealing with it. The situation here is complicated for many by the ongoing oppositions between Uranus and Chiron through much of the latter part of the 20th Century. The oscillation between the Uranian and Chirotic manifestations of distress can be quite debilitating, which gives rise to a tendency to rationalise your pain, to distance yourself from it but to experience sudden and abrupt woundings, and equally unheralded healing insights. For those born in the late 1960′s with all the outer planets in a complicated and interconnected matrix (Uranus conjunct Pluto, opposition Chiron, trine Neptune, sextile Ur/Pl) the situation becomes highly charged, any planet in the mix being activated invokes all the others, especially by major transit.

These sensations and experiential modes are therefore our teachers and if we can listen to them we gradually begin to develop a measure of self-awareness which in turn, gives us a certain power of transcendence. We subtly rise above our astrology which results in greater self-possession, poise and calm.

This then is the key to transformation. To become aware of ourselves and to learn to hold our compulsive, unmanaged and unmoderated innate behaviours in check whilst at the same time to learn to recognise those behaviours in others so that we can minimise the damage that they do to us, gently, using whatever non-aggressive paradigm suits the archetypal drivers of the situation. If we are confronted with Uranus’ aloofness in another, be open, be immediate, try not to be upset by the distance and the coldness, it’s nothing personal, just self-protection. If Neptune is at play, be precise. Don’t let the situation run amok, but rather try to focus on each point or bone of contention and thrash it out (but gently) so that confusion is not allowed to hold sway. Uranus is a great antidote to Neptune! If Pluto prevails, look to Neptune: don’t make yourself an easy target and the best way to achieve that with Pluto is in trying to counter-control. Instead, make yourself scarce, a missing puppet cannot have its strings pulled! If you cannot escape from the confrontation, your best recourse is to simply weather the storm, the less said the better. The Plutonic fires cannot rage without adequate fuel. If Chiron is involved, then (and this is difficult) take it. Don’t fight back, don’t resist, the nub lies in our sensitivity to wounding not in anyone else’s power to wound us. Does that make sense? Their power over us is a phantom if we do not give it dignity with our sensitivity, shame or fear.

And of course, it cannot be the work of a day. Transformation is the work of a lifetime, and it all begins with the Witness.

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11 comments on “The Power of the Witness

  1. Kelly says:

    If I could transpose my feelings on canvas created by a stir from spirit after reading your post, it would be a masterpiece.

  2. Jacque says:

    Thank you for the article. I appreciate you taking the time to address this. A question: since I have Pluto influences (Sun, Mars, Mercury trine Pluto) in my natal, does that mean I will always be attracting Plutonic people? People who will try to control me?

    • urania says:

      Sometimes the plutonic people in our lives are there to teach us how to go deeper and resolve things we wouldn’t have necessarily addressed had they not been around ie are you being controlled or are you allowing others to have control because you find it hard to communicate your true feelings re their impact on your personal freedoms? I find once the reason plutonic button pushers are in my life has passed and the issue’s resolved, the plutonic energy in my chart manifests in another way.

  3. lbotti says:

    … It’s all so true. And as you say, Jeremy, when all the outer planets are linked together in a complicated knot of aspects, it really is a process of a lifetime : since all the tendencies can coexist, one can switch from a mode of “action” to another, from a Pluto tactic to a Chiro defense, making it particularly hard to understand how things work… (for oneself as well as the others).

    I think that’s why it is crucial to focus on the first basic steps of interpretation (hemisphere emphasis, tighter orb, etc…) to try to figure out the process : it gives somewhat a ground on which the tendencies will later develop, how the knot has tied up in the first place. Being conscious of the process, it’s easier for one to welcome the change, even painful, since its meaning appears more clearly ( and the earlier the better, since as you say too, nothing is more sad than a lifetime without knowing how to give – and receive- love.)

  4. urania says:

    “…you can change yourself, especially with the path marked out by astrology, and that transformation will push those around you to catharsis, without coercion.”

    NICE

  5. [...] of Chirotic Journal, has mentioned several times that people with Chiron in Aries may feel insignificant. When my [...]

  6. Ellen Longo says:

    Hi. It’s not that often that an article sends me to my ephemeris to check a transit, but your explanation of Chiron reminded me so much of an experience I had in 2003-4 I just had to check it. Sure enough, there is was: Chiron squaring Mars over several months. Thanks for the insight and the rest of the excellent article. I love your writing, your point of view, and your encouragement to attain Witness consciousness.

  7. Juliet says:

    You are SO gonna love The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer— I just read this post after earlier communication sent to you. Singer’s book is all about The Witness– and other Buddhist/Taoist/Eastern related spiritual paths. Everything in Singer’s book I have read or learned elsewhere in my spiritual journey but, the way he seems to put it all into simple focus is truly amazing and inspiring. I can’t wait for you to read it!

  8. [...] of Chirotic Journal, has mentioned several times that people with Chiron in Aries may feel insignificant. When my [...]

  9. elfxys says:

    powerful writing!

  10. christina says:

    Thank you Jeremy for your so helpful article..
    im having all the transformations aspects and indeed my life is a mess…
    uranus makes me abrupt and making hasty decisions, neptune square neptune makes me feel lost and remote from others,
    i ve also have chiron 29 pisces in fourth house pisces, i ve read that this is very crucial point , and during these days Saturn reaches 29 degrees of Virgo and it will opposes my chiron..
    not to mention all midlife aspects ….
    i believe that i must follow the path and i feel unable to change sth , i cant even change my mindset….
    christina

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