All posts here are from sections of the books: "North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose" and "Saturn Returns~The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer" Available only on Amazon.com

To inquire about readings or for more articles on the North/South Nodes, go to: http://www.elizabethspring.com


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bitterness: The Silent Disease




   "Anger is a short madness." Horace 65 BC
 
Anger is a short madness, but bitterness is anger that has been boiled, simmered, and then found so unpalatable that it has been thrown into the deep freeze of our unconscious psyches. Recently the “Los Angeles Times” printed an article called: “Bitterness as mental illness?” It stated that:
“Bitter behavior is so common and deeply destructive that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness under the name post-traumatic embitterment disorder.”

How many of us have a touch of this disease? How many people do we know that have it? And towhat degree? Anger is what we feel first in the face of injustice, and repeated anger becomes deep-seated resentment at whoever and whatever is upsetting us. It turns cold and bitter. And the worse part is that it can turn us bitter even when we think we’ve hidden it so well! It can show on our faces, in our expressions, in our tone of voice. It gives us indigestion, insomnia, back pain, and unexplained headaches. We want so much for it not to de-freeze-- we want so much to forgive and forget, but proper disposal of toxic pain isn’t easy. Most of us need help with it.

Bitterness is a crusty disease that grows on unprocessed anger. It is particularly dangerous for us as we age, because many therapists, including myself, believe that it plays a part in heart disease as well. The heart is both a physical and emotional organ that reflects how we treat it. Most of us are trying to exercise away the excesses that have deposited themselves as fat—but what are we doing with all that un-dealt with pain in our hearts? With the years of frozen anger?

First of all, it needs to be acknowledged. Yes, it’s there. Maybe you call it disillusionment with your career, or maybe you say it’s how your sister cheated you out of part of your inheritance, or maybe it’s that romantic love never quite came through for you. You may have the regret of the ‘enabler’ or the one who had to sacrifice a large part of her life for another. Maybe you blame someone or blame yourself. What matters most though, is the story we tell ourselves about it.

We may think that we have done our ‘anger management’ by cooling and repressing our anger, but in most cases, it’s still alive and not well. It needs to be thawed, re-heated, and disposed of properly. Refrigeration doesn’t work well, as cooled anger turns to resentment and bitterness. It has an annoying tendency to leak out at inappropriate times-- upsetting good relationships, disturbing our dreams, and filling us with a vague discontent.


This story needs to be re-told and re-framed. If you will investigate, research, and delve deeper into the place where you hold this bitterness and pain, you can gain a wider perspective and a deeper understanding of the whole picture. You need to have someone who can deeply listen to your story, and whose opinions you trust. Allow them to help you understand it from a variety of different perspectives. Allow them to help you put it into a story that makes some sense (not easy!)

The psychologist, Carl Jung, once wrote that all adult neuroses could only be healed by a spiritual perspective. Perhaps you can find a way to infuse the story with love towards yourself and others. The last step will be to tell the ‘deep freezer of your subconscious’ the new story of how and why it all happened, and how you see it now.

As a psychotherapist and astrological counselor, I often look at what I call the family karmic inheritance. This is the legacy of inherited sins and blessings that get handed down the generations, and I believe it’s responsible for more psychic distress than we realize.

You may notice that you have our mother’s eyes, but have you noticed that you have some of her passive aggressive traits as well? Do you know what she was holding her anger about? Can you discover how far back it goes? Could you be overly sensitive to authoritarian figures like your grandfather, or experiencing a similar conflict between the demands of creativity and family that he once did? How bad did it get? Once you know the nature of the inheritance you can look at it how it’s showing up in your life. Old, long, and difficult inheritances can be particularly insidious. When you become conscious of the “sins of the father’s” you not only begin a healing process for yourself, but you stop the inheritance from infecting your children.

Generations of maternal and paternal legacies influence us in subtle and not so subtle ways. In some families (such as the presidential Kennedy’s) there has been mention of a family ‘curse’. Although that is an exaggeration for most of us, almost everyone inherits a mixture of psycho-spiritual legacies that need to be sorted through. We need to pull out all the stories we can from the family deep freezer.

You can’t be fueled by bitterness, but you can be fueled by anger. Bitterness eats you up, whereas anger can fuel you to do the emotional detective work that heals. It can help you find your voice and your courage. If you are feeling depressed, stuck, or cynical its time to do the psychic de-freezing. This is the time to act, not to “depress.” You may have to admit that your attempts to sublimate and distract yourself from your difficult moods aren’t working any more. This is a good thing, because it means the time is right for you to make a positive and perhaps radical change.

As an astrologer and counselor, I find that there is a grace and energy that shows up when we do things at the right time. If you have no family members who are alive, or who won’t tell you true stories; you can find powerful hints as to this inheritance on your astrological chart. And when you allow yourself to feel strongly about your feelings, rather than freezing them, you allow an opening for grace and serendipity. Call it what you will: God or chance or synchronicity, but whenever you decide to melt the frozen chunks of bitter memories with the healing warmth of tears and heartfelt stories, you invite in powers and graces beyond your rational mind. I believe we ‘summon the Gods’ with our open hearts, and that the Soul is ruthless in finding its way home.

Elizabeth Spring, MA, has two books out on www.amazon.com , the first called: “North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose” and "Saturn Returns; The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer"  She can be contacted through her website: www.elizabethspring.com

Friday, October 12, 2012

Excerpt from blog: 'South Node Astrology': How Love Sabotages and Saves our Lives


Sabotage? My hope is that the word “sabotage” in the title gave you a little jolt! Yes, “love” itself doesn’t sabotage, but the distortions and poverty of love (such as when we didn’t get “good enough parenting”) and our interpretation of what love is and isn’t— are the areas where “love” sabotages us. Every romantic movie and love song reminds us of how love “saves” us, but it’s in the therapist’s office that one hears the story of how love sabotages us. So the focus here will be in looking at our unique styles of loving—loving both ourselves, others and God. These were the first commandments we were given, and they certainly seem worth considering.

 One of my hopes for this blog and new book is to explore how reframing our understanding of love and relationship can help us bring in more of its saving quality and less of its sabotaging—and ultimately to explore how it’s truly an “inside job” which is much less dependent on others than we may realize. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and certainly don’t have perfect relationships, but I’m moved to delve into this territory. Want to come along? I welcome your thoughts on this….


So how does this fit with astrology? In exploring relationship patterns in astrology we look at the South Node, the Moon and to the planets Venus and Neptune. What happens when we have Venus and Pluto (God of the Underworld) in aspect in our charts? What happens when the Moon or Venus is squared by Mars? What happens when we keep repeating the mistakes of our South Node patterns, and keep coming up with the same unfulfilling patterns of “unlove” and bad relationships?


Love itself may be perfect—as the high expression of Neptune itself is perfect mystical love. But humans live primarily “Venus” love or “Moon” love—and it’s messy, confusing and imperfect. I believe it’s imprinted with the past life patterns of the South Node, in a similar way to how DNA is imprinted.


The strongest pattern to understand then may be the South Node in your birth chart. In Evolutionary Astrology, one is advised to “read” the South Node negatively; that is to understand it primarily as what we didn’t get right in the past. This past could be earlier in this life, or in former lives, or even what we didn’t get right yesterday.


It is the “Moon’s memory” not the Mercurial/linear memory, that is carried over from life to life. It is this memory that does not concern itself with facts, or details or stories, but holds simply the emotional impact—the drama and trauma of the Soul. We forget the stories of past lives, but something remains like a forgotten dream—and this “emotional hangover” is called the South Node of the Moon.


As you may know, the Nodes are mathematical points rather than planets, and are calculated by the intersecting orbits between the Earth, Sun, and Moon. Throughout the history of astrology these points have pointed to our re-incarnational history, for they describe where we’ve been (South Node) and where we’re going (North Node.) Like the compass that points North, or the astrolabe with the arrow shooting through the globe, these Nodes hold the “emotional memory” and trajectory of our lives.


As in dreams, and in all unconscious content, there is “gold” in these South Node patterns as well, and we carry over positive attributes, talents and inclinations as well as our default reactive patterns. It’s also been said in Vedic astrology that we give to others from the South Node what we know innately in our bones and psyche, and yet we feed and nurture ourselves from the soul wisdom of the North Node. This was the content of my first book, “North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose.”


A new book, of which this blog is the raw material of—concerns the nature of the emotional memory of the South Node. What do we remember emotionally? I believe it’s mostly about love and the presence or absence of Love. Relationships—and the burden we put on our relationships through our expectations and “styles of loving”.


 In this blog, I’ll be delving into the changing nature of relationships (with a little more focus on what love is after the hormones/honeymoon/anima projections have worn a little thinner) and to ponder “styles of loving” with a minimum of astrological jargon. I’d like it to contain enough astrology so that you can look at your chart, and say “Ah-hah!” but not so much astrology that you get lost in technicalities. I’ll attempt to interweave the psychological and the astrological, the personal and the interpersonal, the theories with the messy “particulars” of our lives.


It’s a big subject. We live and love among many “layers of feelings”—why do we dislike someone’s style or persona and yet “love” the person they truly are underneath all that? We divorce, dismiss, and lose people in our lives, sometimes like so many scraps of paper thrown away, yet these people continue to remain in our psyche nevertheless.


But….we can choose to live between the layers of feeling, not discarding or despairing or thinking in black/white polarities, and still honoring all the layers of loving, liking, disliking, and the mystery of love which sits in our hearts.


Here’s what the poet, Stanley Kunitz, had to say about this in his poem, “The Layers.” He wrote this in reflection, towards the end of his life. (This blogging program is printing it as prose--how interesting!--so I will leave it that way in a stream of consciousness style. Forgive me, you readers who are poets!)

"I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not who I was, though some principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray. When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength to proceed on my journey, I see the milestones dwindling toward the horizon and the slow fires trailing from the abandoned camp-sites, over which scavenger angels wheel on heavy wings. Oh, I have made myself a tribe out of my true affections, and my tribe is scattered! How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses? In a rising wind the manic dust of my friends, those who fell along the way, bitterly stings my face. Yet I turn, I turn, exulting somewhat, with my will intact to go wherever I need to go, and every stone on the road precious to me.
In my darkest night, when the moon was covered and I roamed through wreckage, a nimbus-clouded voice directed me: "Live in the layers, not on the litter." Though I lack the art to decipher it, no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written. I am not done with my changes."