Dharma Diary

Getting Serious about Spiritual Practice

Well, the year is almost over and the Saturn Pluto conjunction is only just warming up. I hope it’s not giving you too much of a hard time, dear reader, and that you’re doing the necessary work – especially because next year, things could get serious. We’re all going to have to bring our best selves to the fore.

With that in mind, I started 2019 with the intention to get serious about my spiritual practice. The Saturn Pluto conjunction is happening in my 12th house so it seemed an obvious response. All year I’ve been diving deep into my unconscious and dredging up old patterns, contemplating the results, and filling a notebook with ramblings and questions and possibilities.

Thanks to my Chiron Return, I’ve also been rethinking and reframing my entire life! As a result of that exploration – which you can read about here – I came up with a plan to reengage with my spiritual practice in a new way.

It’s called Mystic Warrior Practice and it takes everything I’ve learnt over the last 29 years and applies it to every area of my life so it has maximum impact. My spiritual practice began the last time Saturn was cruising my 12th house. Back then, it was joined by Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn, and all three ganged up on me to make sure I woke up. So now seems a good time to renew my commitment.

I created the plan in May and worked out exactly what I needed to do – and then did precisely nothing about it. I had plenty of excuses – Saturn and Jupiter were retrograde! – but by the middle of summer I was exhausted and struggling to motivate myself to do even the most basic things, never mind revolutionising my whole life.

The frustration and internal pressure built to epic proportions and finally exploded in my face: I fell and broke my wrist. This forced me to take a break from beating myself up and look at what I was doing (or not doing) and why.

I got stuck because I was scared of reactivating old wounds. Pluto in my 12th has brought to light lots of ghosts and ancestor stuff and made me realise that many of my so-called problems probably aren’t even mine. I feel a bit like Nathan Appleby in The Living and the Dead, inadvertently activating the ghosts of the past through my avoidance of ancient grief.

However, I also realised the fear was a terror of the light – of Truth – of God – of finally giving up the fight. On one level, it’s just a petty ego fear of death that has no basis in reality. But on another, deeper, level it plugs into an archetypal pattern of resistance to life and existential terror better known as ‘evil.’

The Saturn Pluto transit of my 12th house is demanding self-mastery by aligning with the deep spiritual truth that secretly runs my life (and everything else). And that means confronting the hidden enemies that work behind the scenes to trip me up – a.k.a. my death wish, or inner psychopath. This evil little bugger isn’t easy to face or accept, especially when you find him lurking in the depths of your own being.

It’s the part of my psyche that hates life and either wants to control it or doesn’t want to deal with it all. Despite its posturing and bullshit, it’s a massive coward and secretly scared of life. Underneath the bravado and cynicism, it’s terrified of loss and abandonment – a screaming baby that cries and cries and nobody ever comes.

A crystallisation of total devastation. Helpless, powerless and heartbroken, it lives in a hell of its own making and is determined to drag me under.

Me and the rest of the world.

I see it reflected in the current world system that’s busy destroying the planet in the name of profit, and in the dehumanising culture I’ve been consuming since I was born. How much of my inner psychopath is personal and how much of it is the culture that I’ve internalised? Maybe it doesn’t matter – either way, I have to deal with it.

Ignoring it doesn’t work. Running away doesn’t work. Hiding under the table and sticking my fingers in my ears doesn’t work. Giving into it and becoming a good little cog in the materialist regime won’t work either.

And fighting it directly just makes it stronger.

Nobody said enlightenment would be easy…

The fear arises from a basic misperception of reality that makes you believe you’re separate from life. It’s a delusion that prevents you realising the truth of your situation and stops you from seeking the solution by finding out what reality actually is. You’re caught in your own trap, going round in circles, reinforcing your own bullshit until it sounds so convincing you believe it’s true.

Awakening reveals the truth – the illusion is laid bare and you can see the way out of the maze. And that’s when the resistance really kicks in. The ego gets wind of your cunning plan and starts to fight back.

The question is: how do I dissolve the illusion without activating its defences?

My back is against the wall. I’ve activated something twisted and evil squatting in between me and the truth. This is something that happens on the spiritual path as part of the process of individuation. I described it in one of the Chiron posts earlier this year:

“The process of individuation makes you more aware of the opposites within yourself and they begin to fight. At first, you flip back and forth between them in an effort to resolve the inner tension, but gradually realise you’re making things worse. Normally the ego would repress one side or the other and create the shadow, but now you have to accept both sides.”

This confrontation with the shadow means a confrontation with evil – not out there in the world, but in here, in me. And it’s horrifying.

And illusory.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. It means the opposites are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The Chiron post continues: “To resolve the conflict you have to transcend the ego and move to the still centre of the Self which reconciles the warring opposites.”

Sounds simple – until you try it!

Basically I got stuck because my spiritual practice wasn’t deep or mature enough. I ran up against the deepest, darkest part of my shadow and my practice wasn’t strong enough to cope. For many years I stopped practising altogether and it was the worst thing I could’ve done.

I got scared because I didn’t understand what was happening and instead of investigating, I ran away. Like a coward. I gave in to the worst part of myself and let it run the show.

So it’s time to stop running away from reality and reframe my whole spiritual practice. And that starts with remembering that I’m not in charge here. The Self – or the Divine – is running this show and knows what I need. And that makes me wonder:

It feels like everything has gone horribly wrong in the last few years, but perhaps it hasn’t. I feel lost because I wandered from the path and have been going in circles ever since. But maybe getting lost is part of the path.

It’s only when you’re lost that you’re willing to stop running, sit down, shut up and let go…

“Sometimes the experiences that we are pushing away contain the most transformative insights we need to have. Who would suspect that seeing that there’s nothing, nothing, nothing I can do is going to be transformative? … It’s the alcoholic who realises, ‘There’s nothing I can do,’ who is on the way to sobering up. As long as that person sitting there is saying, ‘I can do this. I’m in control. I can find a way beyond this,’ no transformation is going to happen. Bottoming out is nothing more than coming out of denial.” – Adyashanti

22 thoughts on “Getting Serious about Spiritual Practice

  1. I’m just digging deeper into astrology although it’s been an interest since I was 10 or so. I am really enjoying your posts on astrology! I’ve got my natal moon (12th house) as the meat in at Saturn Pluto sandwich right now. Oh boy!

    Control, or the illusion of control, was the most difficult thing for me to let go of. It is something I still have to work on but the BIG lesson was finally pounded into my thick skull.
    Thank you for all the fantastic information in this blog!🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very deep and informative at the same time I think. I am going through the same transit, with Cap in my 12th house and I have experienced something along the lines of what you describe. Going round in circles, telling yourself things until you don’t know if you’re right or it’s your shadow who is. I have sensed the duality between the worlds – that one side of you, scared and huttled, crying in the corner, will take over and become your worst nightmares in a blink if you are not aware of it… The light in yourself is so hard to find, and when you do find it, it dissappears again too quickly, so you only get a blink of the truth and don’t know how to handle what came up.

    My spiritual practise, my energy and all areas of life has been in a decaying and rotting process. It starts with myself though – my fthoughts, energy and practise of letting out other people’s energies pollute my emotions, which again leads me to thinking I have so many problems. Fear of others’ judgements and whatever else is reinforced in Capricorn and Pluto.
    I have seen the worst of people’s judgement during the past 2-4 years, but I need to cleanse myself for it. But that’s the tricky part, because how exactly do one do that, when your mind and psyche are so determined to link you up with all the things you fear and run away from in your psyche? It’s not easy, I’ll say that…

    The past couple of years I have sought out whatever hurts me most.
    I am very noise sensitive for one. Cue: Find a home in the most noisy department, where they have been building new apartments right outside my window the past 1.5 years. The noise from this goes on from 7 AM to 7 PM.
    I have the worst and most noisy busses crossing outside my window every 5th minute, and also in the nights, bringing with them a loud and ever-consuming noise that never quite fade away.

    I have been awoken at night by screams from a gang fight where they killed each other, developing PTSD symptoms from it and continous stress. I am still affected today, 2 years later.

    And my mother has abandoned me, asking me not to call her after several years of rottening relationship full of judgements, un-empathic communication. That was when Saturn squared my 8th house moon and Uranus oppositioned my natal Saturn-Pluto conjunction.
    Life has been harsh!

    I don’t know how I get out. Do I need to face more fears before someone or something will FINALLY let me off the hook here? Can I just have just a little – a TEENY WEENY BIT – of success in ANY endavour in my life?
    No?
    Well, life, go f*ck yourself.
    – Best regards, my angry, raging and abandoned kid.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sorry to hear of your troubles, Anette. Life seems to be giving you an especially hard time. Perhaps it’s time for you to be kinder to yourself.

      There’s no need to seek out problems to force confrontations. Maybe you need to seek out peace instead – easy for me to say, I know. Do you need to let yourself off the hook?

      Like

  3. I wonder if astrology works like neuroscience and democracy. You’ve got a whole bunch of very different real world things all saying different stuff so you abstract them into a group of identical, voiceless dots. Then you can connect the dots with imaginary lines to impose your own concept of order upon them and listen as they repeat back what you’ve just told them to say.

    I guess the world makes a lot more sense that way.

    Like

        1. Sigh.

          Astrology is based on observed correlations between the movement of the planets and behaviour and events on earth. There’s a lot of debate about exactly how it works but nobody really knows. We know as much about how astrology works as physicists know about how reality works – which is to say – not much. But that doesn’t stop either physics or astrology from being useful – in their respective fields, of course. I’m not trying to compare astrology with physics. Astrology isn’t science.

          Like

        2. I sort of get that. It’s pretty close to the rationalist explanation of how it emerged in Egypt, initially as a celestial clock/calendar for setting sowing and harvest times but eventually for practically dealing with all sorts of events with regular rhythms and finally for structuring the technical and ritual knowledge of their civilisation. It was probably at least as useful to them as any of the sciences are to us.

          But I doubt an ancient Egyptian would recognise any of the modern astrological schools or practices and would probably be bemused by it’s uses (I doubt they had daily horoscopes) and it’s not very useful as a means of structuring and transmitting the technical knowledge of our civilisation.

          If the correlations are both real and definable in the modern context it would be very easy to demonstrate or disprove them statistically, especially for the kind you do which seems to apply to entire populations rather than specific individuals (as per natal charts). Even the most subtle correlations would show themselves on a data set that large. Yet every attempt I’ve ever heard of to demonstrate astrology that way has failed.

          And if astrology really imparted insights through the relative apparent positions of celestial bodies they would be of a repetitive and entirely predictable nature (as are orbits), though for some configurations the cycle of repetition would be longer than the human race has existed. But you would be able to dispense with all the references to airless rocks named for ancient gods and just treat it as a giant almanac, with no need to look at the sky at all, yet by and large those approaches are eschewed by astrology enthusiasts.

          If, on the other hand, astrology works as do so many other methods of divining, its main function would be to act as a sort of unstructured neutral field – like the leaves in the bottom of a teacup – that the diviner would use to free her mind of linear rational thinking and allow her intuition to be projected and articulated onto her chosen medium. We know a lot more than we know you know.

          Looking at how contemporary astrology functions and how it’s used by those who appreciate it, it seems a lot more like the latter than any system based on collating and correlating supposed relationships between the movements of celestial bodies and events in human lives.

          Like

        3. You should read ‘Cosmos and Psyche’ by Richard Tarnas – you might find it interesting. https://cosmosandpsyche.com/

          Also Chris Brennan’s book on Hellenistic Astrology gives a pretty good history of the subject. http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/book/

          Astrology isn’t precisely predictive because it’s about how consciousness works – so there’s a lot of subjectivity in it and interpretation. But it is archetypally predictive. The Tarnas book explains this well.

          Like

        4. Oh, just out of interest, I checked my transits for yesterday and today – when you decided to take issue with astrology (even though I wasn’t talking about it directly in the above post – I wouldn’t mind if I was discussing the ins and outs of it. Then it would be reasonable to have a discussion about it.) Anyway, it turns out Mercury is currently forming a square to my Mars, reflecting a tendency to feel irritable and argumentative! Robert Hand has this to say about it in ‘Planets in Transit’:

          “You are inclined to feel touchy and irritable and to regard almost any communication from another person as a challenge. … It may mean that you will have to defend your ideas or beliefs against someone else. This could be anything from a simple debate to an out-and-out fight.”

          Probably just a coincidence though…

          Thing is, when you study astrology over a period of time, the coincidences pile up and up until it becomes kind of embarrassing and then you have to start rethinking your whole approach to reality.

          Like

        5. BTW, the olde style astrology patter about gods manifesting as heavenly lights and directly, if subtly, intervening in the lives of men is actually a pretty decent mythic description for the non-volitional assembling of apparently disparate events, influences and objects into meaningful patterns that seems to be part of realising intuition. If you try to polish it up for the Enlightenment Era with talk of ‘observations’ and ‘correlations’ you lose some of that.

          Like

        1. I don’t. I was talking about the fact that our model of reality is almost certainly wrong because it’s materialistic and doesn’t take consciousness into account. And I doubt any school would want a flake like me teaching kids 😉

          Like

        2. I was talking about the fact that our model of reality is almost certainly wrong because it’s materialistic and doesn’t take consciousness into account.

          Speak for your own model of reality.

          But yeah I’m an ontological anti-realist, so I don’t imagine my models work either. But I can’t get from there to an understanding of why rejecting an obviously concocted, post-Enlightenment tacked-on explanation of the epistemelogical basis of astrology makes me ignorant.

          ‘Observation and correlation’ wasn’t even a thing prior to the 17th Century. Check out the Kalama Sutta. It sure looks like an attempt at comprehensively evaluating the validity of the various bases of knowledge used in India at the time. Why do you suppose the Buddha never even mentions observation and correlation? Not him and not any other epistemologist prior to the Enlightenment. Were those Astrology guilds really that good at keeping trade secrets?

          For most of history the most popular basis of knowledge has been ‘knowledge from authority’, and the ultimate source of authority has been the gods (or those who credibly claim to speak for them). Then the Enlightenment came along, mugged the gods and stole their authority for science. So the astrologers switched allegiance to the new authorities. Not that they actually started observing, collating and correlating their data to produce knowledge. They just used the words to cloak themselves in the new mantle.

          If refusing to take lame PR campaigns seriously makes me ignorant then viva la ignorance.

          Like

  4. Serious spiritual practice?
    Mine cracks me up.
    Am I doing it wrong again?

    And why does Adyashanti think there’s a way of being called ‘alcoholic’? Or one that could be ‘in control’?

    I find all this spiritual stuff pretty confusing TBH. Looking at stars just makes it worse. There’s an awful lot of them.

    Like

  5. Thanks for such an intimate and profound post. I am only able to scratch the surface, so much depth here.
    I too have tr Saturn Pluto conjunction in the 12th. It is also my 2nd Saturn Return ( Saturn will be in my 12th shortly.) It is uniquely challenging for me.
    Such wisdom Jessica, it comes through strongly.

    peace, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.