On Thursday 30th December, the full moon at 8 ° Cancer makes a conjunction with Hades, Lord of the underworld, shining a lunar light on the banished parts of ourselves individually and collectively, now waiting to return in the wild flowing rivers between life and death. Cancer is a cardinal water sign ruled by the Moon and is connected with the mother; in western astrology it is linked to the 4th house, the place of roots, foundations, and early environment.
The current lunar cycle began with a total solar eclipse at 23 ° Sagittarius, on the moon’s south node, days before the winter solstice and the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Eclipses occurring on the south node are an opportunity to clear out old, entrenched patterns, psychic scar tissue, and ways of being that chain us to outmoded vibrational realities. The past is also the keeper of memories, a storehouse of information telling the story of our soul’s journey.
Functioning as a kind of filter for planetary frequencies to interact with humans on Earth, the moon is a catalyst for transformation. Astrologically the Moon reflects our inner feeling world, our most primal expressions and what we need to feel safe, secure, and attached to our earthy existence. How we are welcomed into the world and the sense of belonging and safety that bolsters us… or not, is seen in the zodiacal position, aspects, and house placement of our natal moon. In life the influence of the moon is expressed in our most intimate relationships, primal needs for comfort, food, relationship to our mothers, our nervous system, and also describes the conditions of our very early life- up to 2 years old.
At 8 ° of Cancer, tomorrow’s full moon makes a close conjunction with Hades at 9 ° Cancer. Hades is not an asteroid; he falls under the category Uranian planets and may or may not be a hypothetical point. Regardless, astrologers working in the Uranian, or Hamburg School system credit Hades with a lot of importance. While mythologically Hades and Pluto are the same, in astrology they are different describing different phases and processes of the underworld journey. Having recently been through a long series of Pluto transits and only now discovering Hades and the Uranian planets, I have a sense of how these archetypes play out, though that’s for another blog.
Trans-Neptunian and trans-Pluto planets are fascinating, and I expect more information about them will surface as humanity experiences a vibrational shift- a physical sighting could happen any day as human consciousness expands farther into the solar system. Intuitively I feel the farther we go into outer space, the deeper the reaches of inner space… As Above, So Below.
A lunar descent to Hades sounds scary… our most vulnerable self in the underworld with little hope of return… at least not without some powerful allies such as Hecate, goddess of magic. Hades, god of the underworld as well as the place conjures a sense of purgatorial suffering, unfinished business, and mysterious processes designed to purge and purify the human soul. Strict hierarchical structures and laws must be adhered to… a ferry man must be paid… the rules of the underworld must not be questioned. Pluto is essentially the great transformer.
The myths of Inanna and Persephone teaches us that while a journey to the underworld may be treacherous and traumatic, the riches to be had are great- the Greeks named Hades Plouton and the Romans pluralized it to Pluton/Pluto which means giver of wealth.
Hades is bordered by five rivers – the Styx, Lethe, Acheron, Phlegethon and Cocytus, which can also be perceived by the living, these rivers are passages between the living and the dead. The river Lethe is the river of forgetfulness named after the goddess of oblivion and forgetfulness, Lethe. On drinking the water from the river one completely forgets their past life and is prepared for reincarnation.
Invisible gods, amnesia, shadows and shades, things barely hinted at, phantoms, forbidden fruit… what does it all mean? What happens when we are abducted from our seat of security, even while it may be a rickety dysfunctional seat built on frail foundations- and cast into the depths of the unconscious/hell? Do we still refuse to acknowledge that which will not rest until it is brought to light? In the oldest known versions of the Persephone- Demeter myth, before patriarchal overlays, the maiden Kore goes willingly to the underworld, there is no abduction and rape, and like her Sumerian counterpart, Inanna, she is aware that her descent is also her becoming.
The Orphic mysteries introduce the existence of another river, the Mnemosyne which allows full remembrance of one’s life. Followers of Orphism were buried with gold-leaved tablets providing instructions on how to travel through death and obtain omniscience. Consciousness through the death process is also part of Tibetan, Celtic, and Native American cosmology.
Events and experiences that happened to us when we were babies cannot be cognitively recalled though the effects of those experiences stay with us and shape us throughout our lives. If those experiences were traumatic or shocking, our nervous system is wired in ways that cause us to be overstimulated, fearful and reactionary- flight, fight, or freeze. Our base chakra, our root, is disrupted.
We can piece together the story of our early lives through what we are told from our parents and the people who were closest to us at that time but what if those people themselves were traumatised, suffered from amnesia, stress, or shock? What of the parts of our ancestral story that have been dismembered and locked in the underworld? The origins of our lives and our family story are then hazy, hidden, or obscure even while we continue to be influenced by it- our moon. Studies in epigenetics show that we are affected by what happened to our great grandparents. The dysfunctions and traumas in our collective experience likewise influence us as a whole, as a society.
Our moon also describes the emotional state of our mother, and the emotional frequency surrounding her when she gave birth to us and during those first years of life. Sun square moon in a chart for example can sometimes point to an environment that was disturbed by difficult relations between the mother and father.
I feel this full moon is highlighting motherhood generally. As we exit the old paradigm and prepare ourselves for the new, a valid and important question on the table is, how do we view/ treat mothers and motherhood? The consequences of traumatised mothers and traumatic mothering has been documented through the work of Bowlby and other psychologist working in the field of trauma and attachment theory. One of the most prevailing subjects of our time is healing the effects of dysfunctional relationships; It is clear that things that happened to us in childhood and particularly in the first few years of life have an immense effect on us determining the adults we become and the relationships we have.
It is often said that mothers feel forced to carry the guilt card when it comes to child rearing especially when things go wrong, but what has less readily been addressed is the overall societal and cultural conditions of motherhood. Many people are realising the limitations and detrimental consequences of current birthing practice. Spiritual doulas, conscious midwives, body-birthing wisdom, and compassionate support for mothers- to- be and mothers is finally filtering through- but we’re not there yet. The relational environment into which many babies are born is often traumatic and disturbing to the field of the new-born. Economic hardship and financial dependency tether mothers to emotionally damaging situations.
This past year beginning with the Pluto/Saturn conjunction in Capricorn initiated a process of dissolving old structures that were clearly unable to contain the new and emerging energies. As the shadows of Hades, the suppressed material of the collective unconscious, surfaced it became apparent that many of our ways of being were not only destructive to the planet but also to our inner world. Split off, exiled and buried parts of ourselves- the legacy of generations suffering in social structures that deny the full spectrum of human needs and expression including emotionally would not be silenced. It also became clear that attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs of the dying model could no longer be upheld and encouraged without weighty consequence- inner and outer devastation.
In placing our trust, faith, and life force in systems that cut us off from the ground of our being…mother/Mother, either deliberately or not, we abandoned ourselves. Individually we may have abandoned ourselves in families that demanded or expected us to be other than we are so as to uphold the family image or story, or to endorse a false matrix to protect the members from facing family ghosts. In intimate relationship we may abandon ourselves for a lukewarm version of love that does not embrace or recognise our soul. Collectively the same thing happens when we betray ourselves and agree to a society based on denial of the self at a core level. These compromises come with a high a penalty. The wailing in the underworld is an outcry against the desolation.
Do we choose to drink from the river Lethe or the river Mnemosyne? In choosing the former we relegate our authentic self to the shadow land of Hades failing to seize the opportunity for transformation. Choosing the latter we agree to a journey into the shadow lands to retrieve the lost parts of ourselves and the collective, including compassionate, loving support for mothers and mothering…. the heart of our humanity. And in reinstating the individual mother we reinstate the Great Mother. As Within, So Without.
Beneath scientific expertise, political rhetoric, and scholarship, beyond the horizons of the Earth and into the space age with its promise of eternal and perfect life, our primal human needs call from the depths of inner space and follows the child back into the arms of the Mother.