Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prologue to "Predictions: The Private Papers of a Reluctant Astrologer"

“Falling in love with yourself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” Oscar Wilde

When I first met Peter I believed in predictions. Now I know “it’s complicated.” That’s the phrase people use to describe their love relationships when some things are true and some things aren’t as they’re meant to be. “It’s complicated” we say—like when two people love each other but question whether they are meant to be together—when they look at their partner and say: “I can’t live with you, and I can’t live without you.” In any relationship at all, there’s often the questions of: “Is this meant to be? Are we fated to be together? If so, why? Am I learning something here or simply repeating an old pattern?”

What does it mean to “fall in love with yourself” as Oscar Wilde was saying in the quote above? Perhaps he meant it just as it reads, but I like to think of it more as falling in love with your Self, as opposed to yourself: your ego. The love of self comes before the love of Self, and perhaps both must come before—or at least along with—the love of another person, who also has a very human self and a very wise Self.

These were the questions that were brewing in my head the day I met Peter. I was twenty-nine years old then and I was pondering my single life. In what way might I be fated to be a solitary Soul? Maybe I would never meet someone to love; maybe I was too proud or impossible. In retrospect, I believe my desire to meet Peter is what helped bring us together—and his desire to meet me. The world desire means “coming from the stars.” Maybe it was meant to be.

I still believe in predictions, and I still believe in love. But at fifty nine years old now, I see that the nature of both love and “prediction” and astrology is quite different than what I first believed. Maybe that is the subject of this book: how they are true and not true—they both change as we change.

I know now that astrological predictions are lived out in very unique and particular ways. It can help us get a sense of what’s happening with us, similar to a weather forecast—the storm fronts and the clearings—but we survive the hard times, the storms and droughts, (like the hard transits of Saturn and Pluto) by enduring and waiting and holding our intention…or better said, by honoring the wisest words I’ve heard from the famous Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung: “Hold the tension of the opposites within you till the “Third Way” emerges.”

He’s calling us to wait and endure until the tides of our unconscious and the conscious merge together. He’s asking us to then observe the presence of something we didn’t notice before. Some people see this third way emerging through contemplation while others will spot a moment of “ah-hah”—of synchronicity when the right action or attitude becomes clear—when a synchronistic event arises as if from “a wink of God’s eye.”

When the time is right, when we’ve held the tension of the opposites, it’s as if the burning questions inside us are forced to find a way out—and so we act. We love and don’t love, we make daring moves—when the time is right. When is the timing right? Can it be predicted? Perhaps.

When astrologers look at the predictions for these times we live in—like all those “2012-15 predictions,” they are alarmed by how full of challenge and change they are. The predictions sound complicated and full of optimistic pessimism, or pessimistic optimism. You choose. True or not true, fate is questionable, change is hard, and ideas about destiny and free will change—and always we have to keep making decisions.

Predictions are usually a metaphor; but sometimes they are not. Sometimes a “cigar is just a cigar” as Jung’s mentor, Sigmund Freud supposedly said. Yet sometimes it is not a metaphor—sometimes you clearly see that the cigar smoker is a greedy smelly man with a huge ego who wants your sex and your money.

Even when I was very young I pondered questions of fate, destiny, and choice, and when I heard my first astrologer speak, I decided to deal in the world of the big questions—and in the world of predictions. I decided to become an astrologer when I heard my first “wise woman” speak in a chapel in Boston when I was nineteen years old. She understood something about life that I didn’t; she was an astrologer.

It was then that I decided to join the ranks then of those who were “attempting to read the mind of God.” I believed in astrology then, and that meant I believed that there was a meaning and an order in the Universe that was detectable—as well as standing in awe of the great Mystery.

Again, I found words from Oscar Wilde that echoed this: “The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the Sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the Moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?”

Wow! Powerfully loaded with astrological words, it hints at a humbleness in Wilde himself, as well as the arrogance he was known for—again, the dual nature of the persona and mask of the astrologer: humble and arrogant to dare.

This reluctant astrologer knows “it’s complicated.” And because I knew I needed to learn about my life direction and the soul’s purpose, I wrote a book: “North Node Astrology.” Now I’m sharing about how feelings and expectations change—and don’t change. And so I began writing this book; a little memoir, a little fiction, and hopefully a lot of useful astrological truth for you, the reader.

And so, “Private Papers” begins with the intertwining story of Peter, Sophie, Kendra and myself: Isabelle. There are emails here of being mentored in astrology. There are speculations about predictions, the nature of astrology, and destiny. How much free will do we have, and can astrology help? You will decide.

In this story, Kendra and Sophie are about 29 years old and Isabelle is 59. She’s been an astrologer most of her life, and when she first meets Peter, she’s young, and believes in astrology and the inevitability of predictions. Perhaps she underestimates the power of free will and the Tsunami-like impact of the unconscious. Perhaps she has yet to see how our multiple selves and inner voices form a “committee” in the psyche, and like the planets, each have their own agendas and desires that don’t always agree. We each are such a complex and intricate mandala.

Was Isabelle destined to meet Peter at a certain time and place and marry him? Who knows? Would she accept their relationship as it was, without question? No. That’s not what an astrologer would do. Astrologers look up charts and ponder endlessly. They want to know: Were these two people meant to be together or not? Was the hand of fate involved? Why?

And, what about the “Predictions” for us all, now? What about that ending of the Mayan calendar in 2012? Or the astrological “Grand Cross” we are all living through during these years—all those gloom and doom predictions calculated because of the geometric relationships between the planets of Uranus, Pluto and Saturn? True?

What about the perfect metaphor of Uranus entering Aries in March of 2011 as the earthquake-Tsunami happened in Japan? Uranus, the planet of revolution and unpredictability literally quaked the Earth. The accuracy of the symbolism is uncanny. But what didn’t make the evening news broadcast—or only slightly—was the compassionate and integrated way the Japanese pulled together to help their people. That’s the nature of the spiritual planet, Neptune when it crossed over into Neptune at about the same time. That good news of renewed spiritualty and the coming together of help from all over the world, is not what the evening news focusus on. It’s the bad news, rather than the quiet integrity of Neptune in its home sign of Pisces.

And what will the metaphors be as Neptune continues to move deeper into Pisces from 2011 through 2025? What about Uranus—in tense “square” relationship to the Lord of the Underworld, Pluto, during the upcoming years? Uranus and Pluto were aspecting each other in the 1960’s as a different kind of “revolution” began—what will it be now?

As a reader, you don’t need to understand or even believe astrology to read this—but you will learn the language indirectly. And if you are curious for yourself, and for our times, then I hope you are willing to entertain a certain evolutionary hopefulness. I say that because astrology presupposes a meaningfulness and a lack of randomness that suggests a mathematical astrological patterning that can be measured and felt—that manifests itself as a peculiar blend of fate and destiny. At its best, astrology is the positive contemplation of change.

Does astrology help us prepare for the future? Maybe. But perhaps what it does best is to give us a hopeful system of patterns, where cause and effect relates and makes sense, even as the concept of karma can make sense. Some of it is personal karma—personal relationships between what we do and what we get—this patterning of “cause and effect”—and some of our karma is simply the human condition. Some of it is the family and national karma that we inherit, and that we feel powerless to control. Some is grace and some is tragedy.

We can, however, regain a personal sense of power and meaningfulness when we look back in hindsight to see how the “dots in the picture of our life and times” are strung together in surprising and synchronistic ways. There are events that don’t always follow the laws of rationality. How much is serendipity, synchronicity or “kismet”? Good or bad, if meaningful patterns exist, it makes sense that a God or higher power has a chance to exist, and that feels good.

The synchronicity of meaning-making, in all forms of spirituality and astrology, is most clearly seen in retrospect rather than in prediction. We ponder the myths and the symbols. We look at where and when we were conscious and where we were…unconscious, or just plain oblivious to what we might have known.

We are products of our time—like the grapes in a vineyard that take on the quality of the time and place in which they were grown, we too take on the qualities of the place and time we were grown in. Are you a 1959 type of “grape” that came from a rich soil in Southern France? Or were you cultivated in the stony grounds of a city during a time of war? Your astrological chart is based on this: the day, time, and place you were born, and then the constant movement of time around this.

Most of us want to know more—we want to grow into a larger wiser consciousness. We want to imagine our futures, make good decisions, and create priorities and intentions. We look at how planetary “predictions” may affect our lives. And we go to deeper to find the wells of spirituality and love that anchor us. This journey of living out our personal story—the hero’s journey—is the subject of this book, as is the changing nature of life and love as we ripen and grow through the years.


And so Isabelle met and married Peter before this particular story begins. She was an astrologer of a certain vintage, and a woman of a certain nature…but then, she took another turn…

Photo: "Isabelle CoCroft"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Sweet Surprise...

Dear Elizabeth~
I finally bought your book on my Kindle "North Node Astrology: Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose." I was inspired to buy it after reading the heartfelt piece on your blog 'Simple Grace' about your mother's death.
 I am nearly finsihed, after not being ale to put it down for several days. Thank you for this refreshing and intelligent piece of work. Your writing is clear, beautiful and highly engaging. Thank you.
 ~ Laurie Farrington

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chiron: Key to Relationships and Story of the Wounded Healer

Chiron: the Key

Peter was supposed to arrive by evening, though I didn’t know just when. Sophie had just left me alone in her apartment as she went out to get us some food for supper--maybe something for Peter too if he showed up as planned. I wondered if it would be awkward, and if we would all be making small talk instead of being with everything that had just happened. I hoped not. I had spent the day talking with the insurance adjustors about the fire, and started making arrangements for mother’s funeral. Sophie had been a constant help and ally.

I had a few moments for myself, so I took the time to look at the charts again--to see the aspects for the fire, Mom’s passing, and even now. I wasn’t surprised to see a harsh aspect between Mars, Uranus, and Pluto had just passed. And Jupiter was there, helping to release the past with mother, and my tendency to hold on to all the ways I cling to my old ways of thinking. Jupiter held promise for new possibilities. What interested me most though, was Chiron.

Chiron is a strange little astrological symbol that looks like just like a key—but in reality, it is a “planetoid” between the two major opposing planets of Saturn and Uranus. Not all astrologers use Chiron, because it’s not a major planet, but it has a story to tell us. It’s in-between place alludes to the place in our Soul that is infused with a sense of aloneness, introversion, and independence. It can reflect the wound of feeling isolated even when with others.

The mythological story is that Chiron was a centaur, half man and half horse, who was the son of Saturn. He had been shot with a poisoned arrow by his friend Hercules, and was never able to heal himself. Yet in his attempts to heal his wound, he ended up saving the life of Prometheus (sometimes thought to be like Uranus) and in the process of his learning how to heal himself, he became a teacher/healer to the other centaurs. Chiron reminds us that there is nothing to fix, to cure, or get rid of---sometimes healing is all about acceptance, another word for love. The key to finding “the wounded healer” may be to simply remember and use the wisdom that we already have inside us. To accept what is, and to use it.

And so I poured over my chart, Sophie’s, Peter’s chart and even Thomas’s Chiron. The symbolism seemed to fit with what I knew about each of them, and of course, the most telling of it was in my chart. Chiron was in the 7th house of relationships, in Scorpio, the sign of death and rebirth—of forgiveness and deep healing—or bitter resentfulness. I knew I needed to turn the key to life, not death, to forgiveness and love. But knowing something is not the same as doing it. Yet it seemed as if something larger than us had orchestrated this moment in time, and I simply didn’t know what to “do” with all the feelings that were coming up for me.

And so, while Sophie was out, I opened the only book I had retrieved from the fire—the one that was in the bottom of the box of “Kendra’s” email letters. I read: “Chiron implies that the inner wound contains a gift and that the healing journey is the process of discovering that gift. By embracing Chiron, we move from fear and holding, to love and sharing. When the gift of the inner wound is embraced and accepted in ourselves and each other, we can use this key to open the door. Sometimes the key moves in the direction of Saturn: of doing what we need to do to gain more security and honoring limitation, and sometimes it moves in the direction of Uranus, to freedom and inter-dependence rather than dependence.”

I needed to decide. How was I going to play out my Chiron in the 7th house of relationships? What could freedom look like for me? What could security look like? Would I want to truly open my heart again to Peter, or would I be happier exploring the mystery of Thomas? And….a different life?

Just then Peter walked in the door. Sophie had left the door unlocked, so it was just us—our moment. He looked nervous.

“I’m sorry Isabelle.”

“For what?” I answered, as if I didn’t have a hint of what this was about.

“For breaking our story; for not being there when you needed me most. For saying ‘no’ to you in so many little ways, instead of finding a way of saying ‘yes’.”

“…instead of yes?” I smiled. What a good start I thought, but then, I too was sorry and more than a little scared. It all seemed so much out of my control.

And then I heard myself saying: “I’m sorry too. Really sorry for all the ways…for all the ways I…didn’t love you too…for when I wasn’t there for you. For the ways I said ‘no’ to you or made you seem less.”

He handed me something. “I went to the store today for something to bring you tonight—I didn’t know what to bring or say. Flowers or….I just didn’t know. But I ended up standing in the card aisle, and I saw this one and then I started crying, so I knew…well, I knew then.” He handed it to me. Hallmark would love this, I thought for a second, but then I stopped my cynicism.

I saw that it was a part of a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer—I read it aloud: “It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty…and if you will stand on the edge of the lake with me and shout to the sliver of the moon: Yes!” Inside the card it simply said: I love you.

That’s what I always wanted from Peter. And this was what he was saying he wanted that from me. Could it be that we were now ready to love in a new way--a way that wasn’t just about “young romance of wine-tinged dreams?” A love that included birth and death, old age and sickness, fires…and even long airplane flights—or simply doing the boring but necessary things that need to be done next? For us, it seemed to be about the willingness to give each other freedom—the feather of a bird; our wings as well as our nests…

I had been carrying the wing of the kingfisher bird ever since the day Peter took it from the dead bird on the shores of Jung’s lake. I barely understood why it meant so much to me then, but now a bird’s wing was the most valuable possession I had.

“Ooh…” I sighed, as years of anger and hurt began opening, melting, and pouring away like warm amniotic fluid flowing down my body and onto the floor. It felt the same as when those birth liquids released themselves with a sudden shock that signaled the arrival of Sophie. And then it was as if my spirit soared and took flight. Now we could each stand in our freedom as well as our closeness.

“And here—“He reached into his pocket and took out a key. “This is yours if you want it. It’s the key to the place I’m staying in now. But it’s big enough for two.” I could see his hand trembling slightly, but his voice was confident in his intention. “You can stay there as long as you want, till you decide…about us.”

I took Peter’s key in my hand and stared down at Chiron. He was offering to give me the key to his heart—the key to all our woundedness as well as to all our love. I could take it; he was ready to take mine, to re-embrace the history of our common story. The blood rushed up to my face, as I hugged him.

And so I took this key, this object that could open a door. The synchronicity of it all drove my answer out again and again ---

“Yes, Peter, yes…” We pulled apart for a moment and looked at each other. My eyes squinted at the closeness of his face, thinking how aged we must look to each other now. “Is that you in there?” he asked, as he pulled our eyes together, lashes fluttering against each other.

“Yes, this is me in here, is that you in there?” Behind the gray hairs and wrinkles, it was still us, and it was our best kiss ever. ~

© Elizabeth Spring  (excerpt from book: Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer)  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Astrological Predictions of Death: Simple Grace

Simple Grace

The prediction was coming true…or at least I thought it was. Astrologers proclaim that it is completely unethical to predict death, and the idea of “desiring death” for another is unacceptable for everyone. Yet during the past few months I had clearly seen the astrological “significators” for death in my Mother’s chart, particularly as it was reflected in my chart. Death is more easily seen and predicted by looking at the chart of a person who is the closest to the one who may die. Jupiter, the planet of release, is usually implicated, especially in a case like this where I was the caregiver.

These were the thoughts that were swirling in my head as I walked across the frigid cold parking lot to the nursing home yet again. I had been coming here every morning for two years and I knew I had to face this adversary, this death, now. And I wanted to do it with patience and dignity, knowing that this moment in time was auspicious as well as ominous. It held hope for healing and the chance for love. But I could barely hold my courage any longer, and so I hoped the prediction of release would soon be coming true.

I dug my hands deep into the pea-coat jacket, and retrieved the fragment of paper that I had scribbled on months ago—it was a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that had been sustaining me through the last few years of Mother’s illness. I stopped and read it again: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies we would find in each person’s life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” I had changed the word “enemies” in that quote to “families.” It certainly resonated with me now.

The air smelled warm and chemically sweet in the nursing home. I entered the elevator alone and was inched along to the fourth floor. The door opened and as I walked across the dining room I looked for Mother. She wasn’t there. The other patients were eating, though many had their heads drooped over as if they were asleep. Hardly anyone talked. The lights on the Christmas tree twinkled in the somnolent dreamscape.

As I walked down the quiet hall I could feel fear rising like sap in my veins, and it began pouring out my hands. The limbs of my body felt weak. The door to her room was open but I could see the curtains drawn around the bed. Could she have died during the night?

Pulling the curtain open I saw her eyes were closed, her mouth was open and the breathing laboured. I sat down next to her and took her hand in mind and began praying to God to release this Soul.

“Isabelle?” she said, as she stirred and opened her eyes. “You’ve come.” Her voice wasn’t more than a whisper.

“Yes, Mom, it’s me.” I leaned closer. Our eyes locked into an embrace. It was as if she was holding onto me, to life, by the very force of our gaze. We stayed that way a moment, then I had to look away, to let go.

I could hear the heavy footsteps of someone approaching. The nurses asked if I would wait outside as they checked her vital signs. Vital signs…that meant something different in my language.

I walked back towards the dining room and collapsed into a chair. Staring blankly across the room I let my eyes linger on a simple crèche of Mary and Jesus in the stable. The naïve tackiness of the plastic figurines didn’t strike me as cheap or trivial this time; instead I remember how Mother had devoted so much time each year to creating a good Christmas for my father and I. Every year she would set up a Victorian Christmas village underneath the tree—an idyllic village scene where there was always pristine snow, where the skaters always had a glistening mirror lake, and the warm lights of the Catholic Church were always welcoming. She had been a good mother.

But some would say she had not been a good mother. I could still hear my mother’s voice rattling around my psyche—old tapes that never seem to leave: “Isabelle, you must do this! If you cannot do this for me, I tell you I will die. I will kill myself, and your uncle knows this. He will tell others why I died--because of you.” This was how I was raised---there was no freedom: “Do this, or I will commit suicide and others will know why I died. You must do what I say.” How much pain and fear she must have held within, to threaten that to her only child.

In time we had each forgiven the other, but now we needed something beyond forgiveness. The time for miracles was past, but could we hope for something more now—some simple grace? I thought of the simple grace I had felt on the day of my first communion. Dressed in white, like the little bride of Jesus, I wondered if I would feel a tingling as the wafer, the body of Jesus, was placed in my mouth. I believed in this little miracle, and so I experienced something, even if I didn’t shiver with delight—I could feel the sacredness of the moment. As I grew older I lost the peace that came with such simplicity and embodied faith, but in its place came a trust in the cycles of life and nature, leading again to a comforting cosmology of meaningfulness. Astrology had given me that—but now—what would happen if the astrological signs that predicted my mother’s passing at this time didn’t happen? Would I lose my faith? Would I lose faith in the synchronicity and correspondence that existed between the astrological chart and timely unfolding of events? Would I lose faith in God?

I was too tired to think--too tired to attempt to read the mind of God—too tired to think of the relationship between God’s mind and the Soul’s will. The charts seemed to reflect what was happening now, but all I could do was to let my head fall onto the table in in front of me like the other residents of the home. Maybe this is what’s it’s like to die here.

For the first time a slow cleansing trickle of tears began to fall as I allowed my thoughts to drift back to my study, to my sanctuary room. I sat there staring at the astrology charts-- dreaming –watching how the signs had changed once more, but like in a bad dream, I was unable to see clearly, to answer questions…I couldn’t remember what the signs or symbols meant nor if it was an ending or a beginning, or even whose it was.

I awoke to the soft touch of a nurse’s hand on my shoulder. “You can go in now, dear.”

Sitting down next to the bed again, I took Mom’s cool hand in mine. I could see a slice of untouched pumpkin pie on her table, and gingerly I placed a small forkful of it in front of her lips. She opened her mouth and took a small bite and I could see the barest hint of a smile. She looked so very old, and yet seemed so very young; like a sick child who couldn’t feed herself. I wanted to feed and comfort her.

“Thanks honey…I love you…” I took both her hands and held them, trying to infuse them with warmth and life. Then I waited for the rest of the sentence to unfold—the part where she would tell me what she needed next and why. But it didn’t come. There wasn’t any more she chose to say this day. I was shocked.

“I love you too…” I said, surprising myself as a warmth came over me. Maybe this was is what “healing” feels like. Then she closed her eyes as if to close our session as she drifted back to where she had been. This was one of the very few times Mother had ever said “I love you” that wasn’t followed by a “but...” or a condition for approval.

I got up and walked back to the elevator, and pressed “Down.” I couldn’t wait for the slow creature to come to the 4th floor. My courage was tenuous, almost leaking away. Again the paradox—the fear of death, and the shock of feeling loved. The healing of some old wound was almost more than I could take. I couldn’t stand still—I spotted the “Exit” sign and ran down the steps into the fresh cold air outside. It now filled me with life.

Early the next morning the nurse called me as I sat at my desk. Mom had just died. I looked over at the cool blue light of the computer screen and saw that Jupiter, the planet of release and relief, had just conjuncted my Sun, and was aspecting Mom’s chart as well. We had been blessed.

I stared blankly at the signs and the synchronicity of “endings and new beginnings”—those euphemistic terms that were splayed all over the charts, but still a wave of sadness enveloped me as I remembered the painful ambivalence of our love. But it was finished now, and the ending had been both predictable and not predictable.

I turned off the computer screen as a ray of golden morning light shot through the window and warmed my face. I was in awe of the love that had appeared, and finally let myself inhale the hope of a new day. I stood up and moved to the window letting myself be bathed in sunlight and gratefulness for the small miracle of our last visit—we had indeed been blessed by simple grace. ~ (c)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Astrological Predictions


When I first met Peter I believed in predictions. Now I know “it’s complicated”. That’s the phrase people use to describe their love relationships when some things are true and some things aren’t as they’re meant to be. “It’s complicated” we say—like when two people love each other but question whether they are meant to be together—when they look at their partner and say: “I can’t live with you, and I can’t live without you.” In any relationship at all, there’s often the questions of: “Is this meant to be? Are we fated to be together? If so, why? Am I learning something here or repeating a pattern from a past life?” And even if we don’t even believe in these things, most of us are still curious.

These were the questions that were brewing in my head the day I met Peter. I was 29 then and I was pondering my single life. In what way might I be fated to be a solitary Soul? Maybe I would never meet someone to love; maybe I was too proud or impossible. In retrospect, I believe my desire to meet Peter helped bring us together. The world desire means “coming from the stars.” Maybe it was meant to be.

I still believe in predictions, but I know now that astrological predictions are lived out in their very unique and particular ways. How do we survive the transiting “death and rebirth experiences” and live through the hard times? When astrologers look at the predictions for these times—like all those “2012 predictions,” they are alarmed by how full of challenge and change they are. The predictions sound complicated and full of optimistic pessimism, or pessimistic optimism. You choose. True or not true, fate is questionable, change is hard, and still we have to keep making decisions.

When I was very young I lived with these questions, and when I heard my first astrologer speak, I decided to deal in the world of predictions—I decided to become an astrologer. I joined the ranks of those who were “attempting to read the mind of God.” I believed in astrology then, and that meant I believed that there was a meaning and an order in the Universe that was –almost but not fully--beyond understanding. This “reluctant astrologer” knows that it’s complicated. And because I knew I needed to learn about love and loving, I decided to write a book about it: An Astrological Guide to Different Kinds of Love.

And so I began the book and still write long emails to the young woman I began mentoring in astrology. Kendra is 29 years old and I’m 59—but that’s now. When I first met Peter, I was young and believed in predictions of a different sort….a more predictable sort. Perhaps I underestimated the power of free will and the Tsunami-like impact of the unconscious, and how our multiple selves and inner voices, like our planets, each have their own agendas and desires that don’t always agree. It takes, what Carl Jung, called the “Self” to co-ordinate them. I like to think of the Self as the center of a mandala.

So, was I destined to meet Peter that day in 1982 on Beacon Hill in Boston? Would I accept “us” without question? No. That’s not what an astrologer would do. Astrologers look up charts and ponder endlessly. But the question remained: Were we meant to be together or not? Was the hand of fate involved?

And what about now—that Grand Planetary Cross we are all living through, and those gloom and doom predictions of 2012? What about the perfect metaphor of Uranus entering Aries in March of 2011 as the earthquake and Tsunami happened in Japan? Uranus, the planet of revolution and unpredictability literally quaked the Earth, and what about the revolutions breaking out in Africa? The accuracy of the symbolism is uncanny.

Astrology presupposes a meaningfullness, a lack of randomness, a mathematical patterning that can be measured and felt. Fate and destiny. A planet is strongest and acts up when it enters and leaves a sign—and this revolutionary planet, Uranus, had just left the watery sign of Pisces to enter the fiery realm of Aries. Mix Aries and Uranus together— what are we supposed to do? Fear is not the answer. Does astrology help us prepare? Maybe. But perhaps what it does best is give us hope as we look back and see how the “dots in the picture of our life and times” are strung together. Good or bad, if meaningful patterns exist, then God has a chance to exist in some form as well. Call this a higher power, meaningful evolution…you name it.

The synchronicity of meaning-making, or astrology, is most clearly seen in retrospect rather than in prediction…yet still we want to know. We want to imagine our futures and make good decisions—so we look at the many ways these planetary predictions may play out in our lives. It seems to give us a measure of control, and is the subject of a book—this book. And love…

And so, I met Peter and our story began…do you think it was predictable?

© Elizabeth Spring

Monday, March 14, 2011

Feather on the Breath of God~Jung's Bollingen Stone

When you really know someone, you know what they like. And it should be simple to give them what they like, but it’s not. We don’t even allow ourselves to give us what we need. How strange…is it lack of courage or selfishness? But there are times when we do care and we give.

This was one of those times. Peter cared. He knew what I wanted—he knew enough about me to know that if I was in Zurich there was only one thing I wanted—it was to see Carl Jung’s stone tower that he built for himself on the shores of Lake Zurich. Jung started creating his private retreat late in his life and it took him forty years to complete. He painted life size scenes on the curved inside walls of the solitary study, and he’d sculpted inscriptions and images on large stones surrounding the tower. I’d seen photographs of him there in his eighties, pipe and book in hand, simply sitting and looking out over the waters of the Obersee. His sculpting tools and paints were sometimes shown in the background.

Jung’s tower retreat was evocative of medieval times with its turrets, archways and courtyard. He built this “temenos”—this sacred place, as a sanctuary where he could retreat and study alchemy and astrology during his years of banishment from the psychoanalytic community. It was here that he carved Greek, Latin and astrological hieroglyphics into stones and images that were close to his heart and imagination. Here on the shores of the lake, was the large block of “orphan stone,” a rock left behind by other workers, a stone that Jung carved for himself in recognition of his 75th birthday. Peter worked in clay, and I think he understood Jung’s comment: “I need not have written any books—it’s all here on the stone.”

And that was why we found ourselves outside the door in front of Carl Jung’s house one day. The devastating news was that we couldn’t go in. And what I had wanted to see was not actually there—it was over in Bollingen on the shores of the Eastern shore of the Obersee, and not at his family house in Zurich. So Peter took a photograph of me pretending to smile in front of the house we couldn’t go into, and then we retreated in despair.

However—the next day Peter had an idea. And by late afternoon we were kayaking along the gentle shores of Lake Zurich gazing up at Jung’s numinous structure.

“Shall we go ashore?” Peter asked.

I stared at the imposing stone walls and rusticated doors with the barred and shuttered windows. This was not the kind of thing that Peter would usually suggest. He tended to be one who honored rules and regulations, and would never trespass. This idea was so out of character for him; I must have looked at him as if he was a madman.

“Of course,” I said. “A little adventure.” Peter knew me, and he cared. He wanted to do this for me.

And so we kayaked through the weeds along the shoreline till we hit ground. The tower sat right on the lake, and it appeared as if no one was in sight. There was only the sound of the wind through the trees, the rocks jutting through the reeds, and the lapping of the little waves on the shore. It looked deserted, yet alive. Ivy clung tenaciously to the white rock walls and there was a huge tree that looked like it had been struck by lightning. Could this be the same tree that Jung had spent so many hours under? The one that had been struck by lightning the day he died?

We waded through the mud and held our breath as we approached the arched doorway of the tower. I could see the inscription Jung had carved over the doorway “Vocutus Atque nonvocatus deus aderit”. I whispered to Peter: “It says: ‘Called or not called, God is present.’” I was hoping no one else would be present. Peter tried the latch on the door, but it was locked.

“Come here,” he motioned to me. And like a kid, Peter hoisted me up with his strong arms to look in through a window—an arched opening in the wall..and there was Philemon.

“He’s there! Philemon!” I exclaimed. Painted in vibrant colors on the curved walls was the mural Jung had painted of his beloved imaginal muse. Here was the wise old man, his spiritual mentor. He was huge, with outstretched wings that Jung copied from the iridescent wings of the rare bird, the Kingfisher. I had just shown Peter a copy of this painting the day before in the recently released “Red Book.” This Red Book was the journal Jung had kept during those years of transition and trauma when he suffered the “divorce” from his real mentor, Freud. Some say, those were the years of his psychosis. For Jung, those were the years to paint, sculpt and play in the sand by the shores of the lake.

Peter lifted me down from the window. “Maybe we’re pressing our luck…I mean our time.” Peter said, looking at me as if he was hoping I’d had enough. We both knew there had to be some watchmen around here. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was.

Peters face looked flushed. It must have taken him a lot to disobey, to trespass.

We started to carefully make our way back, approaching the rocky shore. I kept staring at the carved stones around me—and then I saw it. It was a bird, large, recently dead, and with the same outstretched wings as Philemon. It lay under a carved image of a serpent in a rock, and it had the same dark iridescent wings. I reached for it, but Peter pulled me away and hurried me towards the boat.

The land began giving way to sand, then mud, and suddenly I lost my balance. I could see one foot had sunk deep between the rocks. I tried to pull myself up and fell into the water.

Aggh….I yelled. “Its twisted!”

I let myself collapse into Peter’s arms as he picked me up and carried me over to the grass only a few feet away from the Kingfisher. He laid me down softly. I could see the burnt tree above my head. “I want it Peter. I want the bird.”

I could feel myself beginning to shiver. It seemed as if the winds had picked up and the sky was being painted colors. Those clouds weren’t there before.

Peter looked down at me. He looked scared. He looked at the bird, then looked at me. The shivering got stronger. I closed my eyes. Was it getting darker and colder or was I having an anxiety attack? For some reason, I didn’t care.

I thought my eyes were closed, but I could see through them… charts and golden mandalas were radiating through some deep darkness. There was Jung’s chart, and mine...and Peter’s chart-- all appearing and disappearing, overlaying each other. There was my chart with my Sun, Neptune and Venus all clumped together, and then Peter’s chart rising up into it like a developing photograph. His Neptune radiated through my Venus: the symbol of idealism in love…had I ever told him that? And then Jung’s chart arouse, and I could see the glyph of his South Node, the astrological point of past life connection, like a bright star conjoining my Neptune/Venus. Why hadn’t I seen this ancient connection before? Why hadn’t I seen this hint of interconnected past lives? Why was my body shaking uncontrollably?

And then I felt him. Peter laid his warm body across mine…completely. The weight and heat from his body permeated mine like a warm comforter on a cold winter’s day. I could feel the moisture from his breath and I breathed it in like an infusion. The images of light and symbols began fading as I opened my eyes to Peter’s soft gaze. To say I had never felt this before was obvious. But to say I had never seen such love in his eyes was true. It brought me back.

And then he got up. I watched him as he walked over to the Kingfisher. He stood staring down at this almost mythological bird for a moment. I wondered if he knew that it carried both good and bad omens…and how rare it was to see it in these parts. I wondered if Jung had ever seen the bird on these same shores before he painted them on Philemon, his other-worldly mentor.

Peter bent over the dead bird but I couldn’t see what he was doing. I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing rhythmically. I could feel the pain in my ankle but it wasn’t more than I could handle. What I could feel was the pull of the earth underneath me-- like a magnet I had been pulled into orbit and didn’t want to release myself from it. I was rooted here, I couldn’t move. I too, was a dead bird. Or maybe I was home. I didn’t care.

Again I felt Peter. This time he had his hand on my chest, gently rocking me, and calling my name. I opened my eyes. He slowly waved a long feather in front of my eyes. A feather on the breath of God. Then he leaned over and kissed me so softly, like the first time we ever kissed. I opened my eyes. Peter placed the feather in my hand.

“Come. It’s not meant for us to stay here any longer. Come with me, Isabelle…” and then he scooped me up and carried me into the kayak.

In another hour we were back at the hotel, my ankle soaked with ice, my heart so full with love, it disconnected me from everything except Peter and the presence of a small wet black feather. “Called or not called, God had been present.” This was a good omen. It had been well worth the trip.
 © Elizabeth Spring

Monday, February 28, 2011

Private Papers of a Reluctant Astrologer

  “Why do you call these “Private Papers”? Peter asked while clutching my manuscript to his chest. I had just left the sun room, leaving scattered chapters of my book splayed out on the coffee table. I took the papers out of his hand, and sat down with our wine glasses.

They’re not so private when I’m going to publish it, eh?”

“These "Private Papers" of yours--is it a novel, memoir or--an astrology book? I mean, I'm a little confused--"

“--of course you would be, since it has elements of all--how much have you read?” I pretended a nonchalance I didn’t feel. I wanted him to give me a good first reading, yet looking at him there with my papers and his editorial pen in hand made me feel annoyed, and vulnerable. I better get over that attitude I thought. I handed the papers back to him, and got cozy at the other end of the couch. “Do you like it?” I asked, as I took a long sip of wine.

“I read just enough to get the jist of it— yes, it feels private, as if you were speaking personally to a friend. I like that.” He twirled his wineglass like he was peering through a crystal ball and pursed his lips. So now Peter might end up knowing more than he wanted to know. Peter tended to be a private person, but in reading this he would be forced to see the world from my perspective. Yet that was something I admired about him. He could allow himself to see things from different points of view.

I don’t need to be defensive I thought, but I still went on: “It’s more about different kinds of love--love within families as well as romantic love…and between people we idealize, and the difference between love that endures—and love that doesn’t.”

“And about you being a ‘reluctant’ astrologer?” he asked. “And a former divorced woman?”

“Yes, although I’m not that anymore.” I took another sip of wine and felt such gratitude for having him in my life now, and for having finished the book. And in the writing of it, I had moved beyond my secrets, beyond my reluctance."

“So it’s more than an astrology book—it’s a love story---” He asked again.

“Yes, with an unusual ending. Have you read that much of it yet?” I laughed.

“Well, I’ve only read the beginning of it. I was just wondering if I’m going to find some of this too personal. Me being the Virgo man with the Pisces moon and all that—is this supposed to be a memoir or—

“Fiction. It’s fiction, Peter, mostly. For some readers they’d say it’s about love and astrology, and moving beyond doubt…yes, the overcoming of doubt and skepticism. There is astrology there too—techniques of how to understand the chart in those email letters when I was mentoring Kendra.”

“So does this book fall into the spiritual “inspiration” category?” Peter put his pen in his mouth like a dangling cigarette. He had been such a “skeptic and non-believer” for most of our lives, especially anything that had the whiff of organized religion to it. We had many talks about the difference between spirituality and religion over the years.

“No, it’s not about converting to any belief—it just uses some astrology—I mean, that is what Isabelle is! She’s an astrologer, so the reader has to be open to that. Doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not—the reader just needs to be open to learning a bit of a new language and to move beyond the superficial sun sign astrology.”

“Okay, you don’t need to defend yourself. ”

“—I know. But…are you worrying that I said too much about you?”

He didn’t say anything, but I could see his face softening. It was only a few years ago he would have been closed down to me, to astrology, to too much disclosing about anything. Privacy mattered. Now I was breaking all that with these “Private Papers.”

“You just read the beginning of the story, didn’t you?” I grinned. “Give it a chance. It really is a love story—and it’s not just about us—its more about looking at what love is…and isn’t. You only sound like a “bad guy” somewhere in the beginning…really, you get much better!” I rolled my eyes in jest.

“And you only sound like a neurotic fortune teller for part of it, right?” Touché. He was playing with me now. “But, Isabelle, I still want to know, is this supposed to be a book for astrologers or learning how to love—or us? Because I want to know what’s true here and what isn’t.”

“That’s the essential question here, isn’t it? So what did you think, from what you’ve read so far?”

“Something sounds right. The truth? I don’t know, it’s not the literal truth, so far. It sounds more like emotional truth rather than what actually happened. There’s not so much astrology here that I got put off by it. I liked the part about us visiting Carl Jung’s house and your little studio on Beacon Hill and you and Sophie in the sacred sites in England. And…..” He stopped and put down his wine glass. “But it didn’t happen exactly like that, it was a rough road at times.”

“I know. Do you mind that I wrote it?” He looked up and gently smiled at me while nodding his head no.

“I’ve come to trust you.” It was true, we had somehow learned to trust the process of our life together again. And I had learned to trust the process of writing even when I didn’t understand what was happening. It was a trust I didn’t have before the book was finished.

He leaned back into the cushions. “But I think the question is: who is going to read this anyway? I hate to see you wasting your time. People who like romances will only like parts of it, and people who think they don’t like astrology will shy away, and people who want the memoir of a famous astrologer won’t read it.”

“So you’re wondering who is going to read it? So that’s the question isn’t it?” I said, gazing out the window, my eyes strained and unfocused from yet another long day at the computer. It was a fear of mine as well. I looked down at my wrinkled hands. Why did my hands look so old? “Well, you read it! You weren’t a believer, and you didn’t care--”

“—but I do love you and I am reading it.” Peter took a long sip of wine and put his glass down. Then he reached his hand over to me. “You did a good job, really. You were a reluctant one…me too, I was one of them, and you were even a reluctant writer. I guess you could say I’m one of the others now, I’m your reader. No reluctance.” He squeezed my hand, and I hadn’t realized till then how cold my hands had been.

I took Peter’s other hand in mine, and thought how much more “we” mattered to me than this writing. But still I cared about the story. Was I getting ready to die? Was that what all this introspection was about? Or was it simply that I believed too, that the “unexamined life wasn’t worth living?

I looked past Peter to the framed calligraphy on the wall behind him and let out a long sigh. It was a quote by the writer George Eliot, and said: “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” Was I sighing from acceptance or relief? I didn’t know, and perhaps it didn’t really matter. Beneath this quote was another inscription by Thoreau, written a little smaller:

“We are constantly invited to be who we really are.” This was good: I was pleased we are accepting this “constant invitation”. And we would see where it led….
(c)Elizabeth Spring

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Astrology Readings

I'm back!--and doing a limited number of astrology readings again- on Wednesday and Saturday mornings/noon EST. Contact me through and put "Reading" in the subject line so I don't miss your email.

Readings are 90 minutes long, and focus on the meaning of your Nodes as well as your "astrological forecast", through transits and progressions, for the next year ahead. Relationship, career, and timing issues are discussed. Cost: $150

I ask that you email me a letter first, that includes your birth day, time and place, some information about who you are and what's happening with you now (if you like), as well as the best appointment time for you--a Wednesday or Saturday. I can usually do a reading within a week or so....

Include your phone number, and I will begin working on your chart at the same time as I process your card--in the past, most people have included that information within the email letter, but we may also do that by phone.

More details on astrology readings are on the bottom of the first page on website:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

There are No Atheists in Foxholes

“Hell is hot, isn’t it?” I shouted to Peter while hurrying through the Paris airport. I thought how hell happens in the “in-between times”: the times when you don’t know if you will make it or not—those times between the biopsy and the result, between the labor and the birth, between the knowing whether you are loved or not. We were in-between planes, and yet I had been looking forward to the flight back to the States with Peter. We were in the in-between time of knowing if we could love again or not, and I felt in my bones that by the end of this flight we would know. We would have a chance to talk, and after 5 years of divorce, of silence, who knows? We might have changed just enough to bridge the in-between.

I glanced again at our tickets as we walked down the aisle: “Isabelle Bailey: seat 15 E Peter Cocroft 15 F.” He had the window seat, I had the aisle. We were the last to board the plane with only 5 minutes before take-off. Thank God the air-conditioning would be on soon.

I pulled out my laptop and opened it to my chart for today, July 21st. Transiting Mars opposing my Venus; Mercury squaring Uranus at this very hour. Hm…it didn’t look the way I wanted it to look. As astrologers say, it’s not “auspicious” for flying when Mercury, Uranus and Mars aren’t in harmony. And I knew that Pluto, god of the underworld, was squaring off to my Libra Sun—my basic identity. Sigh. I closed the screen with a snap, shut my eyes and listened as the engines struggled to turn over. The overhead light bleeped on and off.

Peter pulled out a book to read. I snuck a look at the title: “Truth is a Pathless Land; Krishnamurti.” So he was still into that stuff; the “be awake and aware philosophy” that I wasn’t so sure of—it paradoxically smacked of both atheism and spiritual pride. I don’t know, I guess there was goodness there too, but it felt cold. I wasn’t going to dwell on that now or even mention our differences. I closed my eyes and waited. It was 15 minutes past take off time and I listened to hear the reassuring sound of the engines starting up . Could they have overheated on the tarmac?

I caught the steward passing by. “Is there any chance of getting the air turned on?” I asked, in my most pleasant, but transparent voice.

“I’m sure as soon as soon as the captain can do it, he will.” If the steward was a dog, he would have bitten me, or at least snapped.

Peter waved his hand as if to quiet me, to get me to calm down. He closed his book and his eyes. I tried not to see that as being dismissive, knowing that Peter was not always aware of how he affected others. He meant no harm. I stared at the curling gray wisps of hair on his forehead and saw again that face with the same serene kind look I had always loved. And then I looked away—what would he have thought if he saw me staring at him now—a woman with sweat running down her face in rivulets, smearing her eye make-up into dark raccoon eyes. I wondered if he could still see the wide eyed yearning in my eyes, the woman he had once married. But he didn’t look. The eyes of this menopausal woman were the same, though the blonde hair was now short and cropped rather than long and loose.

I looked instead at my hands and stared at the finger where my wedding band had been. I had left the finger bare, but had bought myself an onyx ring for the other hand; a ring that recognized my new commitment to myself. I was trying to take good care of myself these days.

I looked down at my computer, and put it under the seat. Even it was making me hot.

Peter’s eyes remained closed. It was a bit annoying, really—he could at least ask me how I was feeling. “So Peter,” I finally whispered, “What do you think? I mean, is this plane going to take off?” I wanted to say more, but this was at least a start. He opened his eyes as if he was coming out of a deep trance. I couldn’t help but think how people with a lot of Neptune-Pisces energy in their birth chart seem to be able to block out this world and retreat to another planet. He was one of those, but I was not going to sit here alone in silence.

“What?” he asked. He knew I was disturbing his attempt to escape and that I did it anyway. The attendant interrupted us: “We’re being delayed, the pilot has suggested we offer you complimentary snacks or beverages, as we may be stalled for a while longer.”

“For how long?” I asked.

“Oh not long, I’m sure.” The attendant smiled, shrugged and lifted his eyebrows wickedly. I was sure he was gay, and wondered if he felt powerful seeing certain people like me squirm. I shouldn’t make sweeping judgments like that, as I hated people making judgments of me as an astrologer.

“I’ll have a white wine with ice, and what about you Peter?” He shook his head no, and pulled out an eye pillow and put it across his eyes.

I touched his arm. “Peter….” Let’s be present for each other now. Let’s make the best of it.”

He nodded his head yes, but said nothing. He didn’t take off his eye patch. “You know,” I continued, “you could take a lay-over in Boston for a few days before going back to San Francisco…we could spend some time together.”

He sighed. His hand reached over for mine and tapped mine as if to calm me down. Then he refolded his hands on his lap. He had no rings on his hands but they were more wrinkled than I remembered.

I sipped my wine. We were now seriously delayed. I could feel the mood in the cabin and it wasn’t good. People began talking more, but not us. Another ten minutes passed. I finished my wine. Peter’s forehead was dripping with sweat.


“What? What do you need?”

“I don’t know…. to talk?” I paused. It was hard to make small talk in hell. “Do you believe in love still?”

“I don’t know Isabelle. What does it say there in the chart?

I gritted my jaw. “About love? About us? The plane?” “I thought you didn’t believe in astrology, so why are you asking me about it now? Is that sarcasm or do you really want to know?” I tried to take a deep breath. “I’ll tell you-- things don’t look so good right now.”

He didn’t say anything. Perhaps he was pondering the questions. I ventured a solution: “If you wouldn’t label me and my work, and put me in a box of sorts …..if you chose to see me as not knowing all the answers, or trying to control…well, we could have a chance. I’m simply trying to survive…and trying to reach you, Peter. I’m sorry, maybe I’ve done it poorly.”

“I know, Isabelle, I know….” The engines started up again and then stalled with an irritating whine. Their noise made it almost impossible to talk.

I raised my voice. “Do you still believe in God? I asked. “I mean, despite all the rational reasons to the contrary, do you believe that God—that love--can still survive in this world—I mean, do you believe that we could be together? That you and I could have a second chance?”

The engines let out a terrible noise. Peter grabbed my hand. He looked suddenly terrified and I could see he was barely breathing. The sweat poured down his face. I brought his hand up to my cheek and moved his fingers across my lips.

“Oh my god, Isabelle….there aren’t any atheists in foxholes.”

Then he leaned over towards me and looked at me as if for the first time. His other hand reached for mine. Sometimes Peter wasn’t good with words, but I knew in that moment, he was willing to give us a try again. The dangers around us were deep.

But it wasn’t his voice I heard just then, instead it was the intercom: “Please leave the airplane immediately; do not bother to take your overhead luggage..we will get it to you. Exit immediately to the front of the plane. Attendants will be here; do not delay; when you are de-planed we will reroute each of you to other planes that will take you to your final destination point. The attendants will make sure that all families traveling together will stay together on route to your destination.”

Nobody panicked, but to say we walked out quickly was too mild. We moved in a hot steaming roll, and Peter was shuffled off to one small plane and me to another. We weren’t a family, and so Peter Cocroft and Isabelle Bailey were each going home separately. The old craft was overheated and dangerous, but who knew the future? I certainly didn’t know, but I felt hope as I pondered all the possible ways that Pluto, Venus and Mars might play out in my life now. Maybe even Uranus could be kind. ~

~elizabeth spring

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ah~Good News!

  After over a month's absence, my creative muse has recovered! Yes, she collapsed in fatigue and almost died....but I am happy to say that encouraging emails from readers, and the New Moon eclipse has re-birthed "Private Papers."  The new writing is progressing I dare say, I rose at 4:00 am this morning to write? It's true.
    And I will still offer selections of the writing on this blog---hang in there with me!  Blessings for your new year~ Isabelle/Elizabeth