Monday, October 25, 2010
I stared blankly at the chart. There was so much to say, yet the words didn't come. Silence is fine, I thought, she can see I'm contemplating the chart....but what was this internal sabotage happening within me? I Beginners mind. Do I know what I’m doing? This is so much harder than psychotherapy, I thought. I ought to be using my counseling degree, instead of doing this! I thought how much easier it is when the client does most of the talking. And, I reminded myself how crucial it is to get the ego out of the way so one can be a conduit for what needs to be said--but the words simply weren’t coming. Beginner’s mind, I thought…..beginner's mind. Use it.
My eyes circled Judith’s chart looking for a clue….then they landed on Venus. “Ahhh—look at Venus here! She’s not in the conversation at all! No aspect lines to her; she’s silent….except that she’s square to the Nodes. This is called ‘the skipped step’ in evolutionary astrology—any planet that squares the Nodes reflects something that has been skipped early in this life or in a previous one, and it’s a strong hint about what one must do now in order to stay true to one’s life course. ”
This felt important but I wasn’t sure where to go with just then. I made a mental note to come back to that solitary Venus. “And your Scorpio sun squares Uranus, the planet of unpredictability and change. Have you moved a lot in your life? That would be hard on Venus connections….”
“Eighteen times.” She began to talk of a life of broken relationships and innumerable new starts in different countries, with different jobs. There were so many endings and beginnings, no wonder she wasn’t eager to hear of yet another new beginning. What could I say that would make a difference?
“Venus…she wants to be brought into the conversation,” I insisted, while searching for the word to describe the spiritual aspect of Venus. Some old brain synapse came to the rescue: “Have you ever heard of ‘Sophia’? It’s a Greek word meaning wisdom. Originally she was the third person of the Holy Trinity. She was called ‘Hagia Sophia’ and she was seen as the feminine aspect of God. The Roman Catholics later changed her name to ‘Spiritus Sanctus’ and the feminine aspect of the Holy Spirit was lost. Sophia is the aspect of God that finds the sacred in the commonplace, and she expresses herself through beauty and love, and sometimes through synchronistic human connections.”
Judith leaned forward to take a closer look as I went on: “I suspect your Venus here is not being nourished for some reason. Venus doesn’t care about being right or having the best job or having the right answers philosophically…but she wants to bring beauty and relationship into your life. She needs a voice…..”I I breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that my beginner’s mind had somehow retrieved that insight.
Judith’s large dark eyes began filling with tears. “Last week I went to visit one of the Newport mansions here…and as I was standing in front of this exquisite tapestry someone came over and placed a huge bouquet of lilacs in front of it. The smell was so heavenly, and I suddenly found myself upset…crying. It was so unlike me, really.”
“Why was that unlike you?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
Sounds like you were struck by beauty, by Venus” I added.
“I prefer not to be so emotional; so out of control.” She sat up straighter. “I’ve been thinking I should be more restrained and not indulge myself…my mother is a Buddhist and she lives very simply.”
I could see that I was going to have to challenge her “internalized Mother” who was represented by Judith’s Moon in Capricorn. “That may be right for her, but perhaps not for you. It sounds like Venus, or Sophia, was opening your heart with that hit of beauty you experienced with the lilacs.”
She nodded her head just slightly. “My mother always complained that I had too much stuff and clutter around me when I was young, so when I moved here I decided not to take my things out of storage and to live frugally. I thought I should keep it uncluttered. I don’t even have a window in my bedroom.”
“It sounds austere; and not a way to nourish this Venus-Sophia—it sounds like you’ve been starving yourself of simple beauty for the sake of your mother’s values; not yours…”
Judith’s eyes were close to overflowing so I handed her a Kleenex. I could see her pain, but now where could I go with this feeling and thought? We were moving beyond descriptive astrology and I wanted to give her something more tangible to help. I cared about her in a way I don’t always feel. Psychotherapists warn each other about this “transference” of feelings that can happen in a session. Jungian analysts honor these feelings, but they caution against moving away from a professional detached attitude. I’m not so good at recognizing the dangers of these feeling spaces, with my Sun conjunct the permeable and boundary-less Neptune in my chart.
Judith picked up the small celadon vase that sat on the table between us. “It’s beautiful.” She laughed softly. “So does this help? I mean having this little vase, this little bit of Venus here—does it help?”
“Good question…yes, I think it does, especially because it’s handmade and it makes me think about what I can only imagine—about the potter who made it, and how it was once clay, and how it was shaped on the potter’s wheel and went through the fire of the kiln. So many changes….and yet it’s not worse because of all its changes and imperfections.”
She lowered her eyes and was quiet again. So I just stayed in the silence with her for a moment. In fact, I didn’t know what to say at all…so I picked up the little pot again and turned it over. “Ah! The name on bottom is ‘Maya.’ Do you know that means ‘illusion’ in Sanskrit? The Hindu’s believe that this reality—even this little piece of pottery, as we know it, is an illusion or dream. They believe that what is most real is beyond appearance, and that all things have a hidden life within them. I’ve always wondered if the potter knew the meaning of the word…”
I handed Judith the vase and she began rubbing her fingers across the pale green glaze. “There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of us all. Look at all the cracks and crackles…” she added as she continued stroking the surface. Then her finger ran across a chip on the rim. “It’s chipped even.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “Yet perfect.”
Just then I could feel the energy in the room change, as if a wave of ever so subtle sacred energy had descended on us. So we just sat there for a time, looking at the little vase, finally comfortable without words. At one point I found myself staring at the framed quotation on the wall next to the fireplace which reads: “Called or not called, God is present.” This saying was carved in Latin above Carl Jung’s door, and I was once so taken by what he was implying with this, that I had it printed in English, and always made a place for it in my office whenever I moved. And here it was again.
It was obvious that our session was over. As we stood to leave I leaned over and gave her a heartfelt hug and placed the little pot in her hand. She was about to refuse my gift, but I simply shook my head ‘no’ and walked to the door. As I closed the door behind Judith I thanked ‘Sophia’ for her unexpected arrival, for I too had forgotten about the power of Venus-Sophia. And as I stood in awe of the ‘little magic’ that had just happened, I remembered that when I let go and let the spirit ‘Sophia’ speak through me, she knows, far more than I do, what needs to be said and done.