Midlife, at the Uranus Opposition, at age 41, is the time when we are beckoned to a more authentic life; it is a time of moving from our false self, our persona, to the pearl of great price: our authentic self. Yet, necessary suffering is part of the process of surrendering our false self as writer Richard Rohr, says. What an opportunity this is! It is like the whispering of the acorn to the oak…
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung wrote that we cannot live the afternoons of our lives in the same way we lived the mornings of our lives--or as he said: “One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” Pretty strong words!
Jung believed that cultivating a spiritual outlook is what healed people. He was a believer in astrology and used it with his clients, and he believed in the healing powers of creativity, nature, play, and contemplative tools such as dream analysis. Spirituality is not about going to church and having your chart read. You are on a unique path for you alone and you write the script.
We are all lucky to have so many mentors and people who have lived well as they age. When I walk past the shelves on the way to my bedroom I am reminded of them daily as I see the photos there of not only Carl Jung, but May Sarton, Ram Dass, and the mentors and teachers in my life. Think of Gloria Steinem, Billy Crystal, David Whyte, Helen Mirren, Georgia O’keefe, Mary Oliver, Pema Chodron…the list goes on. Consider treating yourself to reading their biographies.
But what matters most is that I, and you, dear reader, recognize that in aging we are entering into a great adventure—a fascinating, tough, awesome and awful time that will have its valleys and pitfalls. as well as its mountain-top experiences.
Even though dangerous stumbling stones may confront us at this stage of life, there are new freedoms and possibilities. Life doesn’t get easier in these ‘golden years’ but we now have time to to do such things as turning aloneness into creative solitude, and time to think about what we still want to give to those we’ll leave behind. We’ve already created our legacies by how we have lived our lives, and though we know we weren’t always heroic we have had our moments.
At age 59 at the Second Saturn Return, in this Third Act--we are called to come to acceptance with how we’ve lived and to reflect again on what we value. We have learned how to survive in the first 2 acts of life, but the Third Act is different—we are summoned to a more choice-filled sacred time.
It sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? But we usually get here by way of what Jesuit priest and scholar, Richard Rohr, calls necessary suffering. As he says: “The surrendering of our false self, which we have usually taken for our absolute identity, yet is merely a relative identity, is the necessary suffering needed to find ‘the pearl of great price’ that is always hidden inside this lovely but passing shell.” This is how we become fierce with age; through necessary suffering. Through knowing our values and standing up for them. For finding the core of integrity within us.
At this point, you may be wondering who I am and how I’ve come to write about this journey. I’ll weave parts of my story throughout the book, but let me at least share a few things about my later life journey. It may interest some readers that I didn’t write or publish any of my books till I was in my sixties—and I’m planning to continue writing now that I’m in my seventies.
I began doing astrology seriously at the Uranus Opposition at age 40 around the same time I moved from Newport, Rhode Island to Ojai, California. In those years I completed a Master’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in the work of Carl Jung. I was married for 20 years, had a healthy sweet daughter and a wonderful story-book life until I divorced for 5 years, and later remarried my husband 18 years ago—so many stories we can tell!
But fast forward to age 59 and the Second Saturn Return, where I re-ignited my excitement about astrology by apprenticing with Alice Howell and Steven Forrest which led to, at age 63, the publishing of my first book: North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose.’
That was followed by a second book begun at the age of 63, (my Uranus Square) “Saturn Returns; The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer.”I began not feeling well in those years. And at 67, during the writing of another book: “Lifting the Veil; Becoming Your Own Best Astrologer” I was “cosmically tested” with a health crisis sending me to the ER at least 3 times. I had atrial fibrillation and uncontrollable high blood pressure which was compounded by bouts of insomnia. This was the hardest chapter of my life and I never knew if the anxiety of those years would ever end. (Astrologers: these were simultaneous transits of Pluto and Uranus to my Sun.)
As I began to regain my health at the age of 69 I wrote: “Sweet Synchronicity: Finding Annie Besant and Discovering Krishnamurti” a book about my years in Ojai,California, as well as the story of the lives of the Theosophists at the turn of the century. Now at the age of 71 I’m writing this book having been inspired by so many people and authors writing about the challenge and grace in aging.
Aging is bittersweet. As I write this I’m experiencing the passing of my oldest and dearest friend, so feelings of grief aren’t far away. We’ll not be able to share our stories together anymore of over sixty years of friendship. As we all look for meaning in our life stories, we are blessed when we have old friends and partners who are still with us, but sometimes we have to do it alone. Surely reflection with old friends is a poignant gift of this age, but this is also part of the 'necessary suffering'--we lose those we love.
Yet now as I head into my 71st year I see the Jupiter Return approaching. This is a time when the Universe can conspire to give you what you want--a bit of a cosmic green light. And so I've made an intention to create this book and hope that it fills a need for the reader. Just the writing of it fulfills a need for me. At the Jupiter Return making intentions count; so here I've done it--I intend to follow through on this book through to publishing it.
My hope too, for myself and you the reader, is that as we navigate these new waters of the Third Act we will muster the courage to experience both a deepening of our sense of Self and–dare I say it—a re-enchantment of our lives. Why not? For me, the spiritual journey, marked by the wisdom of the astrological journey, is about challenging changes but it is also the well with the deepest joy. ~