Have you ever had to rescue a bird from inside a building? It’s an uncomfortable process. Sometimes, somehow, a sparrow finds its way inside but quickly gets disoriented and can’t find its way back out.
The more it tries, the more it panics. You wish you could just tell the bird where to go, and maybe you even do, but it doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t understand.
All it knows is to follow the light, the openness, the shadow of a tree… but it doesn’t understand windows. All it experiences is the cruelty of repeatedly banging up against a seemingly invisible wall. Lured by the view beyond, but ultimately denied access.
Sometimes it’s felt like the more I’ve put forth effort, the further behind I’ve gotten, which just adds to the initial aggravation. The whole point of putting forth effort was to get further ahead.
During these times, even though relatively good things have happened, it’s mostly just felt like a constant struggle to survive. What makes days, weeks, months (years!) like these even harder is when yet additional stresses come up, urgent ones, concerns that mercilessly demand my attention and divert my path.
At these points, not only do I continue to struggle, still miles away from my goal, I now also have to deal with a serious issue that at best detours me, but usually just pushes me back even further than where I started from. And a lot of the time, the longer it takes, the harder it gets.
The bird is still trapped in the building. You grab a broom and resolutely (but as gently as you can) start to corral the bird away from the impossible window. You close the curtains and get others to help you guide the bird out.
Its panic heightens. It doesn’t understand that it’s being guided. All this bird experiences is escalating pressure, confusion, exhaustion, and fear. It’s forced away from the only thing that was keeping it going, the view of freedom. Now everything is dark.
So what does astrology say about difficulties like this? They can’t be just phases, because whenever one transit is done, there’s always another one, a longer one, a shorter one, a more critical one… And plenty of people go through the same transits finding success without even knowing astrology. So maybe there is just something wrong with me. Does it show up in my chart? Can I fix it? Or is it just set? Am I just destined to try, fail… and that’s it?
The more I struggled with these questions, the more dejected I got. I came up against limits to my technical knowledge, and as hard as it was to give up, I just stopped looking at astrology.
It was still there, of course, that so-called higher order that depicts past, present, and future, but does it actually dictate it? And if so, to what extent? The only way I could find out was to just not to pay any attention to it for a time and to just let things fall where they would. I needed to learn to create my own meaning.
What I found was that when we use astrology to look at the world, it intersects with belief systems that we already operate under.
In the same way that we put relative value and meaning on things such as brooms, windows, light, and the outdoors, we can choose how to put value and meaning on astrological alignments.
Encountering resistance, rejection, opposition, and denial is unavoidable in this human life. In astrology, hardships such as these are often represented by Mars and Saturn events, or Mars- and Saturn-style aspects (90º or 180º positioning between any two given planets).
We don’t need to know astrology to know hardship, and we don’t need to know astrology to overcome difficult, even impossible situations.
When we do know astrology, we can start to take away a bit of the surprise factor of upcoming or repetitive challenges. It gives us a new language to work with and a new way to anticipate or reflect upon the time we’ve been given.
Knowing astrology is one way of understanding that there are circumstances outside of our control. It can mean knowing that something is happening, knowing the energetic qualities of that something that is happening, it can even mean knowing where in our life we can expect that something to show up. But the human component in all this is knowing that we have a choice in how to respond.
The bird escapes the building. Amidst all that struggle, pressure, confusion, panic, and fear, there was an unrelenting persistence to experience freedom that kept it going. It caught a glimpse of the outdoors, through an actually open door, and then it was free.
So what do we do when we come up against invisible walls, aggressive brooms, and disorienting darkness? Do we decide to keep pushing? Do we decide to change our strategy? Do we decide to change our goals? These are some of the options that are available to us. Perhaps it is our unique mix of spirit and preference in these sorts of circumstances that determine how we experience what happens next.
Like the bird, we long to be free, to have ease, to be adaptable. We come up against roadblocks that feel impossible to get around, and the amount of energy we put towards achieving our goals is heart-breaking and extraordinary, all at once.
There are titanic external forces outside of our control — we can’t deny that. But perhaps part of being human, being free, is taking full advantage of our capacity to animate the world around us with our choices in spite of this reality.
As narrow as our options may be, perhaps our freedom is found in our capacity to choose the direction, meaning, and value of our next small step.