As the process of “2012” unfolds, I am more and more frequently asked, by clients and friends alike: “What is going to happen?” The truth is, no one really knows. Those who ask this particular question are the least likely prepared to undergo the profound challenges and shifts that this new phase of consciousness is delivering to our communal doorsteps. Those willing to hand out answers to such questions like sweetened cough syrup or medicinal candy are also the least likely to be able to provide the necessary assistance to the questioner in navigating the foreign terrain we are all traveling together at this time. The breadth and depth of our personal relationship with the ego are the only limiting factors in determining the questions asked of and responses to any situation we encounter.
The question to ask is not “what” or “who” or “where,” but, rather, “how.”
How can I walk this unknown and muddy path with grace, dignity and spiritual, moral and ethical fortitude? The query “what” reveals a lower level of ego development found in the immature child, while the question “how” reflects a level of adult wisdom that most americans have failed to attain thus far. The potential for that attainment, however, though latent, remains a potentiality and, for many, an inevitability. In order to get there, however, we first need to elucidate the basic terrain of the western personality structure. We need to know the mind of those undergoing transformation and have a feeling for the principles involved in that process in order to ascertain the future trajectories of ourselves and our clients.
We have to start at the beginning and understand how people learn to understand. Every client works with and through her astrological chart at the developmental awareness level she has achieved up to that particular stage, just as a child relates to himself and his external world from the limitations of his cognitive, emotional and social skills at his stage of life. In the same vein, the astrologer’s level of awareness in her own celestial and terrestrial landscape will shape and determine the depth of dynamic understanding the “field” of the reading can achieve.
We all start out as amorphous blobs of oneness merged with the body and being of the beloved mother. We do, indeed, start as a Unity with all (which, at this point, consists of mommy and a blurred background of unidentifiable shapes and colors). Then the external world begins to intrude on the blissfully unaware Unity and the child begins to discover the shape and parameters of this new entity through exploration and the achievement of on-going, concomitant levels of development. We begin at the infantile level of awareness, which remains subjectively identified for a long period of time. Here, we are going to reduce our field from a three-dimensional wholism down to a two-dimensional linear progression (as astrologers do when translating the spatial movement of the heavens onto a flat piece of paper) for simplicity’s sake. One of the best ways to ascertain different developmental levels of individuals is to know what questions children (clients/astrologers) are able to ask, comprehend and respond to at each of those stages.
In the first phase, a child develops the ability to answer the question “what.” What is that? What did you stick in your mouth? What did you touch? What did you see? And, later, what happened? Notice that the questions are very concrete – we engage them through physical sensorium as that is their primary tool for taking in and assimilating different aspects of the world. Simple screaming and crying progresses to “I have an OWEE” to “I bumped my head” to “I was running up the stairs and tripped on the stair and hit my head on the wall.” The adult’s guiding questions and progressions in forming a coherent narrative introduces to the developing child the concepts of time and sequencing of events. The acquisition of language is vitally important as meaning, rhythm, nuance and greater depths of relating through and with others are all born out of the pauses and spaces – the silences – between learned words, not from the words themselves. Acquiring a word library is one step, another is relational unfoldment through presence and engagement in stillness and quietude.
Developmentally, the next question a child can begin to tackle is “who.” The ability to engage with this question marks the child’s ability to begin to identify the fact that the “other” exists with an independent, sentient and self-willed identity. Any parent can well remember the first time their toddler was able to respond to their image in a mirror with the exuberant statement: “That’s me!” This cognition brings with it the differentiation from, and recognition of, the Other – “That’s you!” Who walked in the door? Who was driving the car? Who pet the dog? We cannot, however, expect a high degree of accuracy in these early stages. Consensual reality is still on shaky ground with the child, as I learned most painfully through one forensic evaluation I conducted of a 4-year-old african american girl in an urban mental health clinic early on in my career, many years ago. During my interviews, in response to the naming query of an unidentified perpetrator in her trauma history, she continuously responded, “Blue.” “Blue” did this or that or “Blue” went here and there. Neither the mother, nor anyone in the family knew of anyone named “Blue.” Of course, it was possible that this unidentified figure called himself “Blue,” or, if we want to venture out beyond the envelope, that Blue was a figure from another dimensional/imaginal world. The evaluation was closed as inconclusive. However, years later, I learned that, in the african american community, someone who has extraordinarily dark skin is not just “black” it is so black that it is described as “blue.” The connection of that information with the evaluation of the little girl was instantaneous, as was the shocking blow of the truth of my failure as a clinician to her. The beauty of truth slapping one in the face like that is that it allows for greater insight into a previous state of ignorance. All along, she had been, in fact, accurately “naming” her perpetrator. For her, his name was his most identifying characteristic – the deep indigo color of his skin.
I provide the above example as illustrative of the complexities and intricacies in establishing common reference points in order that a coherent, shared narrative can emerge between two, or amongst many, individuals. We all have the capacity to hit or miss each other in critically important ways, unless we are willing to open ourselves to reflection and to pursue and nurture an often thin thread of understanding. It is in fact, the task we have as adults at hand to master if we are going to progress along our own developmental levels of spiritual consciousness.
The next stage involves the child developing the ability to identify “where” something has happened. They are now beginning to locate themselves spatially, orienting themselves to objects (and, later, to relationship). In order to assist them in this orientation process, adults can provide clarifying inquiries, such as “What color was the door? What furniture was in the room? Did this happen at home? Did it happen at daycare? Can you show me where the lady was standing?” Here again, the most important factor to the child (the client or the practitioner) might be the polka dots painted on a table top, in which case one might hear, “the place with the polka dots.” Okay, well, that does not help in locating us in a shared arena of activity or understanding – yet. With further neurological development and curious questioning from another, the statement can expand to take in a larger spatial awareness and encompass a shared, consensual reality. The ensuing response would sound like this, “I was in the classroom at my school that has the table with the polka dots painted on it.” Ah, now a common frame of reference for relationship can be established and a shared experience pursued with each other. Again, this expansion of abilities and awareness takes place over an extended period of time.
“When” is the next achievement for the developing identity. Sequencing and time reference have already begun in previous stages, but understanding of time as a separate entity from the child is still outside their grasp. Despite many parents proclamations that their child is precociously intelligent because they can “tell time,” this boast is most often fraudulent. Children can perform matching tasks very early on. Yes, a child can be trained easily to say “it’s two o’clock,” when the little hand of an analog clock points to that number or the digital alarm shows the number 2, but they do not understand the concept of what two o’clock means. That meaning only comes when the child understands the concept of finality, of ending, of death. Here we begin to encounter a significant bridge between the individual me-oriented ego in which time and space expands out from the ever-present now/me identity. The comprehension of a final end point introduces more abstract concepts, that is, existentialism and the fact that just as everything exists, so also will “I” one day cease to exist. This is a monumental turning point in mental, emotional, relational and spiritual development as the point of reference shifts (or should) from the internal satisfaction of the “I” into a more sophisticated contemplation of the “not I.” The “we” comes into existence; the tribe is recognized as a living organism to be dealt with and mastery found through its embrace. It is a humbling process if understood at its core. It opens the doorway to a larger universe of relationships as well, if traversed successfully. Children develop a relationship with this concept through the deaths of pets, relatives and acquaintances or through some other permanent loss of a beloved possession. It is a right of passage which is usually achieved around the age of 7 and ushers in the potential for a more multi-dimensional engagement in the world.
Any person familiar with or engaged in the esoteric studies of astrology, numerology and sacred geometry will recognize this place as the first station of the pattern of the 7-year saturnian cycles of life. The first bridge from the inner personal planets through the energetic of saturn and out into the outer planets is being forged here. This saturnian bridging grounds the individual down into a sense of mortality, a beginning grasp of their functionality in the world, a first engagement with limitations and the concomitant enrichment resulting from such limitations, and a potential for contemplation of the meaning of existence.
Okay, so this step off the terra firma of “I” at the first square of Saturn is not exactly like the final scene in “Vanilla Sky,” at least not from an adult’s perspective. Using the childview perspective, however, it is a transition that requires as huge a leap of faith as a dive off the roof of a building. It signifies the first impulse to plunge into the “how’s” and “why’s” of our individual and collective human existence, regardless of the answers we might find on the other side of our previous firewalls. Though the instruments for learning may be tutus and baseball bats and cardboard puzzles, this spark toward knowing requires the same summoning of confidence and belief in self physicists use in conducting research with particle accelerators, that poets embrace when writing a line of verse, and that a gardener sings to when planting those first seeds of spring. The hope of fruition and the exercise of will and character in the endeavor are the same for the nubile and wizened alike.
The “how’s” and “why’s” belong to the outer planets, if we are engaging those questions from the consciousness of spirituality, service and a desire to understand the higher resonances of our own humanity. The root principle – the willingness to step off the abyss, to surrender the smaller self for the larger one – is first found in these developmental steps known so well by those who have worked with children. It is first to come to know and organize into a coherent framework the outlines of faces and rooms, rituals and buildings; it is to master the basics of kinesthetic, mental, emotional and social relationship, pack them up in our tool bag and choose to open the doorway to a place we have never been in before. It is to square off with Saturn and let the outcome define us.
How well the concrete and early questions and milestones have been negotiated by the individual traveler will make the difference in how each faces the unknown of this phase we have come to call 2012. This is an unfolding process, begun long ago. We are simply born into that process at this particular place and time to bear its burdens and blessings. It is not a thing that can be touched or manipulated or controlled. The salient questions here are: how are we going to conduct ourselves through it and why are we willing to make the journey? The first developmental shift to be made is in achieving success in the important lesson we have to learn about the fact that the means ultimately justifies the ends, and not the other way around. We become what we do.
We are all on a trek through a mud field of vast proportions, and I recommend wearing Wellies. It is helpful to remember along the long, long way through that oil spill of humanity we have created, that fecundity and fertility are a married couple.
Part II will expand on how to identify and work with each of our own and others’ developmental levels as the encounters with self and other become more and more challenging.
©2010 Amelia A. Free