The Solstice marks the longest day of the year, when the Sun is highest in the sky, and when the days are poised to grow shorter again. This Summer Solstice will occur at 6:07 AM EST on Thursday June 21, 2018. An astrological chart can be cast for events, in the same way that a horoscope is cast for a person at the time of her birth. An analysis and interpretation of the sky at that moment in time, provides a context which can help us make sense of our experience and offer guidance. An understanding of the message communicated by the symbols allows us to align with the cosmic energies and to surf the wave, rather than exhausting ourselves by resisting or being swept away.
No one needs to consult the stars to recognize that we find ourselves in the midst of times of tremendous intensity and volatility, and this reality is clearly symbolized in the Solstice chart. The magnitude of the unfolding ecological crisis, threats of nuclear war, combined with the accelerated rate of technological change is so utterly overwhelming, disorienting and frightening, that not surprisingly, the default response is all too often denial and paralysis. There is simultaneously a wish to retreat and circle the wagons, as well as a danger of lashing out aggressively. Our sense of peril is exponentially amplified by leadership that is cruel, corrupt, deluded, addicted to glamor and to lining the pockets of the elite at the expense of the rest of society.
I am reading the latest book by sacred activist and student of Pema Chodron, Margaret Wheatley, “Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity.” This book speaks clearly to me about where we find ourselves at this current moment on our planet. I recommend it to all of you. Her perspective is heartbreaking and tragic, but paradoxically very helpful. It validates what I clearly see with my own eyes, and frames a response that feels adaptive, heart centered and realistic.
The opening of her new book contains a quote by J.R.R. Tolkein’s, adventure fantasy novel, The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo and Gandalf are having a conversation: ” I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Meg Wheatley contends that we find ourselves at the very end of a 250 year cycle, and that we are on the verge of a period of breakdown and collapse of Western civilization, which mirrors a pattern seen over the life span of numerous other complex civilizations throughout history. 250 years is approximately 10 generations. As the signing of the United States constitution was in 1776, we are fast approaching our 250th birthday. She enjoins us to see things as they are and acknowledge that we are not going to be able to save the world, but that there is much that we can do in community to weather these times in the best possible way. She refers to this process as restoring islands of sanity in a world that has gone insane.
The Solstice chart contains symbols that highlight the powerful spell that technology is casting on the collective. With breath taking speed, the internet has insinuated itself into our daily lives. It has become as commonplace and essential to our life style as turning on the lights. Every voice can now be heard, which has made it increasingly difficult to discern what is true. We are more vulnerable than ever to manipulation, confusion and drowning in information overload. Without dedicated effort, fact and fiction can feel indistinguishable. Meg Wheatley quotes the brilliant political philosopher and theorist, Hannah Arendt, about the danger of this situation. Arendt wrote, “If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer.” We must not become cynical. Responsible reliable journalism still exists, and it is vitally important that we continue to inform ourselves. We must seek out credible sources, read critically and think deeply.
Wheatley also quotes Howard Zinn, the American historian and social activist, ” To be hopeful in bad times not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places- and there are so many-where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
The Solstice Chart provides some recommendations and warnings. Here are just a few:
1. This is no time to collapse and give into the desire to retreat and cocoon. We must be strong. There is important urgent work for us to do. In the words former president and naturalist Teddy Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
2. Each of us must step up to the plate. Don’t wait for someone else to do what needs to be done. Take the role of servant leader, one who focuses primarily on promoting the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.
3. Join together with like minded people to support one another and to create loving communities, which foster the kindness, generosity and potential of its members. This will mitigate against the natural despair, loneliness and fear that is often felt in times like these.
4. Unite Heaven and Earth in your daily lives. Infuse the ordinary with recognition of the Sacred. Practice daily rituals of gratitude.
Here are two podcasts with Meg Wheatley that will give you sense of the woman and her perspective.
Sounds True: Insights from the Edge: Warriors for the Human Spirit