CYCLES UPON CYCLES1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth—
There are numerous cycles that govern the nature of our lives, from the daily predictability of the Sun’s diurnal march across the sky to the developmental rhythms that mark our birth, growth, flowering, and decline. These major, planetary cycles, like the annual solar movement of the Sun through the zodiac, can be thought of as the circular patterns that form the cross of life on the physical plane. They personify the Eternal Law that the only constant in the Universe is change, change, change. . . .
Through awareness of and openness to these recurring cycles, this cross need not be experienced as overly painful. Just as one stressful juncture of a cycle (i.e., Saturn or Pluto) knocks us straight to our knees, another phase of a cycle (i.e., Mars or the Sun) may provide the influx of energy and courage for us to keep on through the darkest, most testing times. From a “holistic” view, the traumatic periods of upheaval are as valuable as those of peaceful ease, because the celestial cycles are the necessary agents of our evolutionary development and progress—from the unfolding of a bud into an exquisite red rose. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it well, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”
The planetary cycles affect us collectively and individually, according to our natal birth chart (our personal energetic “signature”). They are the measurable, underlying mechanisms that provide the windows of growth toward greater Consciousness and a greater share of manifest Light for each person and humanity as a whole.
In this sense, cycles are also the mechanisms that allow us to trust the timely, orderly progression of life, as well as acknowledge its mysteries, failures, tragedies, messiness, oscillations, and uneven terrain. Cycles can help us to make peace with and welcome life’s predictabilities and unknowns. Since we have control over our daily response to the fluctuating patterns and circumstances, we can chose to embrace and respect the timetable of our life, even when it is dull and routine, chaotic, or hurts deeply, always knowing that within the continuous flow of experiences these rough waters too shall pass. The challenges and lessons put before us at any particular time are always constructive, given the right frame of mind and acceptance of the present moment as it presents itself. Thus, eternity is always now.
While planetary cycles—the current archetypal forces in action—are the bedrock upon which life moves, it is important to recognize that any given cycle has a beginning, middle, and end. Cycles are perpetually culminating and declining, often called the current but shifting astrological weather. Says White Eagle: “Everything, which happens to you, has a purpose. If you could see a diagram of life as it can be seen in the Halls of Wisdom in the spirit world, you would see a most intricate crisscross pattern or plan—innumerable little lines crossing and crossing again and again … and all is moving according to divine law. Every single detail of life is watched over and cared for.” His words depict not only the cross of life but also the Divine order and loving support that surrounds and guides us, without reservation, even in bleak hours.
This is but saying that as the Cosmic Wheel turns, each of us makes the choice to incarnate at the perfect moment when the upcoming planetary cycles are customized for the growth requirements of our soul and spirit, for our own inner imperatives to eventually spiritualize all matters of our life and being. We can think of this gigantic Design as the Great Cosmic Graph in the Heavens, where it charts all the interactive, evolving patterns toward eventual Oneness.
In the end, astrology has to be grounded on Earth,
Our Higher Self helps us select another grade of “Earth School” that will provide some indispensable, refining opportunities, be they of suffering or stagnation, advancement or great outer service, poverty or riches. While in “school,” the mini and major dramas of our lives come to the fore as issues triggered, circumstances that arise, or people that get in our face and help to mirror parts of our self—all in the most sublime moment!
The planetary cycles are each discreet, designed to bring us to Awareness and Realization in a specific way. Each planet serves a crucial part of the overall astrological pattern or scheme, with its own function and dominion. Saturn is for learning about structure, time, boundaries, discipline, achievement, and aging, whereas Pluto brings a new chapter, a new level of power or healing, or some form of breakdown. The planetary cycles, in their exquisite geometry, continually interweave and overlap by means of the various aspects or relationships formed between and among the planets in the Heavens—how they are linked in positive or jarring ways, as helping partners or adversarial issues we are called to confront. These aspects are the geometrical angles between planets and/or points in the chart. We are then personally affected when a planet’s current position activates something of significance in our own birth chart.
Take Saturn, the planet of form, law and order, and maturity. Methodically oriented, it functions as a reality check. There is the infamous “Saturn Return” when we are about 29½ years old, which ideally marks a period of completion in our life, when one door closes and another opens to initiate us into adulthood. That’s the time it takes for Saturn to make one circuit of the entire zodiac (in the natal chart from the natal degree of Saturn to its exact return to that degree), while Pluto takes approximately 248 years for its (elliptical) orbital journey. When the slowest-moving, transcendental planets—Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus—touch critical, sensitive places in our charts, they can have major, long-lasting effects and depict overall themes for a period of three or more years in our life. These gradual transits often indicate significant, life-altering passages and once-in-a-lifetime initiations. They invite us to fulfill more of our potential than we heretofore imagined.
Also, as Saturn moves through the Heavens in its almost 30-year cycle and personally transits through the houses (specific areas or concerns of life) of our chart, its effects vary considerably. Saturn takes approximately 2½ years to journey through a sign and about that amount of time to trek through a house, such as the 4th house of family, home, and attunement to our inner self. Saturn suggests gradual, exacting development. If we’re not flowing with the natural cycle of this patient planetary energy, we’re pushing the river!
To illustrate, as Saturn crosses the Ascendant—concluding one major cycle and beginning a new one—to move through the first three houses of the birth chart, it instigates an obscure, inward period when some sort of “seed of the self” is planted. When Saturn crosses the 4th house cusp and rises through the 5th and 6th houses, we tend to experience new beginnings. We emerge and rise in a public, outward way when Saturn crosses the 7th house cusp and moves through the 8th and 9th houses. As Saturn crosses the Midheaven (10th house cusp), there is likely a climax or significant completion with its rewards and public acclaim, providing we have worked hard with focus, patience, and diligence. As Saturn moves through the 11th and 12th houses, we further reap the harvest of what we initially set in motion (way back at Saturn’s crossing of the Ascendant) and what we have sown during this entire cycle. Our own efforts, be they wise concentration or immature dissipation, for better or worse, bring the outcomes of actualizing our capabilities or a disappointing harvest. Much like a boomerang of intent, whatever we send forth energetically and through our activities comes back to us in full measure.
In their perfect rhythm and purpose, the Cosmic Cycles, beautifully interwoven, are the current planetary backdrop, all the while nestled within the spiritual context of the Whole. There is great peace of heart and relaxation of body knowing that a Spiritual Design—an overall pattern of Oneness—animates our material world, bringing the transcendent to the mundane. The cycles reveal what is happening externally as trends, but how we consciously respond in the “here and now” and experience them inwardly—the cross of our earthly life—is the personal work of spiritual evolution in any given lifetime. We can rest assured that the inner Light guides our footsteps as we labor to bring forth the perfect life, symbolized by the rose blooming at the center of the Cross.
Can you, through endeavoring to glimpse eternity,
1. Much of this article was published in 2006 in the Drumbeat, Journal of the White Eagle Lodge (Canada), Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 6-8.
Text © by Zane Maser, 2011. Photo © by Chris Maser, 2011. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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