All posts here are from sections of the books: "North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose" and "Lifting the Veil; Becoming Your Own Best Astrologer" and "Astrology for the Third Act of Life" and finally "Saturn Returns~The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer" All available in paperback, Kindle and Audible on

To inquire about readings or for more articles on the North/South Nodes, go to:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pilgrimage to Whitby~Where We Find The Stones


Dear Alistair and Kendra~

“Whenever two or more are gathered in my name…”…there is love? Or there is Jesus? Or the synchronistic appearance of the “Holy Spirit”?

When Sophie and I got to the seaside town of Whitby, we checked into the hotel that sits right on the river that divides the Victorian side of town from the medieval side. On one side is where Bram Stocker wrote his novel “Dracula” and on the other side is the ancient monastery ruin where the future of the Christian Church was decided at the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD. Here is where the Celtic Christians lost out to the Roman Catholics. Here is where the monks and abbesses fought over such things as how to calculate the day of Easter celebration—here is where the astrological and pagan remnants of the church were finally squashed.

But Sophie knew I had a bit of an agenda by bringing her here, and she wasn’t in a good mood about it. She knew I wanted to impress her with the fact that there was once a different kind of Christian Church other than the fundamentalist one she is connected with now—and—that there were women—like St Hilda, who was the head abbess here, and who once had a powerful position in the church. Sophie knew that I was hoping that the “supremely romantic ruins with panoramic ocean views” (that’s how the brochure described it) would open her mind. I suspect she was steeling herself against it. But she came on this journey with me because I begged her…

And so after we settled in, I suggested we walk up to the monastery as it was sunset and we still had enough light left. However, I’d forgotten how long a walk it is—and it’s uphill. As we climbed the foot path via the “199 abbey steps” Sophie got cranky. She was still weak from her ordeal in Lindisfarne, and I began feeling guilty for pushing her to do this pilgrimage with me.

“This isn’t going to prove anything to me, you know….” Sophie fingered her cross chain as she continued: “I don’t really care about history, I care about Jesus…and feeling connected with the Spirit.”

“The Holy Spirit? I asked. “Did you know, the 3rd person of the trinity was originally called ‘Hagia Sophia’ which meant feminine wisdom in the original Greek? But then it was changed by the Roman Catholics to the Holy Ghost, and the feminine mysticism of it was suppressed. They did a thorough job of ousting the feminine at the first Council of Constantinople.”

“Okay. So that happened. Is that why you named me Sophia?” She was frowning, and we were getting out of breath going up the steps.

“Well…I thought of it. Maybe I wanted more feminine wisdom myself.”

“And you didn’t get it, eh?”

“No, Sophie, I love you no matter what! And I love that you’ve got such a spiritual passion. But I’m just hoping we can find a way not to be so divided on these things—don’t you think there’s a middle-ground, a place where we can meet on all this?”

We stood on middle ground for a moment—underneath a towering stone celtic cross. She leaned up against it to catch her breath. “This is what I believe in.” She pointed up to the cross.

“Me too…But do you see it Sophie? There’s a circle around that cross which changes its meaning. It focuses on the resurrection, the continuity of life, and that the pain of bearing the cross of life is changed by the belief in—“

“—reincarnation?” Sophie stroked the green moss on the cross and then looked out to the sea that surrounded us. A strong wind seemed to be gaining on us, turning the waves rough and the light was fractured by heavy clouds.

“That’s one way to look at that—you know reincarnation was originally part of church doctrine, until the 2nd Council of Constantinople took that one away as well—and then the Roman Inqusition considered it a heresy, punishable by death—such as what they did to the Cathars in France. But the Christian Gnostics and the Essenes taught reincarnation, as well as this old theologian…Origen….but it’s not just about that, you know…?” My voice began rising higher almost as if I was questioning her, rather than retelling the facts.

“You don’t get it, do you? I don’t care about history, I care about Jesus. What he stands for—why not Jesus, Mom? Why not just him and not the church? Why are you and Dad always arguing these things! I don’t care about theories about God! I don’t care! I want to feel it—here—“ She banged her chest like a true pilgrim. “Have you ever experienced that—that warmth of God, in here? I don’t think you have, Mom.” She took a deep breath—“Come on let’s get to the top of this hill.”

We climbed the rest of the way up the cliff silently, watching the light breaking through the clouds onto the stone arches, lichen-covered tombstones and “circled crosses”. It was as if all of nature, all the stones, light, ocean, and wind were saying: “Talk all you want, but I am here.”

So we stopped talking. The abbey was situated on a plateau, and behind it was a shallow pond. We circled around it slowly, and Sophie reached down to pick up something. We honored the silence with each other and the silence of the place. I could see the last of the visitors heading down the cliff-side as it was getting dark, and so we began retracing our steps, with no words…just the ocean breeze and the dappled light on the angel faced gravestones around the chapel next to the monastery. It was too much for words.

I picked up a smooth round “touch stone” on the ground as we walked and began rubbing it between my fingers. I once called these stones, “worry stones”, but now I wasn’t worrying, just wondering-- why was I re-loving Celtic Christianity again? Was it the resonance between the mandala of the astrological chart and the pre-Christian Cross...? Was there room in my heart for the Christian Cross—for Jesus? I remembered the Irish poet, John O'Donohue saying: "The circle around the beams of the Cross rescues the loneliness where the 2 lines of pain intersect--the circle contains and resonates with the mysterious nature of God's love..." The circled cross held hope for me.

Sophie saw me pick up the stone. She looked at me quizzically, and as I turned to her I could see a spark of sunlight reflecting off the ocean surface over her head. Nothing unusual really, but stunning nevertheless…wasn’t that what happened at Pentacost, when Jesus returned to his disciples? Didn’t it give them the gift of understanding and communicating in all “tongues?” And as I pondered this, we lowered our heads watching the steep steps again, as we began heading down.

Suddenly a wild-looking young man--- a John-the-Baptist-type if I ever saw one--- came racing up the steps, muttering: “The Holy Spirit is not for sale….not for Sale!” He stared at us as he rushed by, and we burst out laughing. Then Sophie turned to me with a sly grin, and took a black stone with a circle around it, out of her pocket.

“Here, this is for you---if you give me yours, I’ll give you mine,” she put it in my hand. “But for you--for free…! No sales pitch needed…” We laughed. I took her stone as if it was a great gift, imbued with magic, and I gave her my worry stone.

When we got to the bottom, we ducked into a little tea shop. There was a soft warm light permeating the rustic shop and I knew it was time to tell Sophie my other story. But it was going to take some effort to try to explain the unexplainable to her.

--and that will be my next email to you both. I guess it’s time I spoke to you all about this….

Till then~


Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Cultivating the Witness"

“Do not speak for those who can speak…but for those who cannot. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre de Chardin

Dearest Kendra~

You ask me, what do I think? I’m proud of you for finding that extra energy to get out there and “do something” and then to take the time to sit down and write about it all. That’s not easy to do when you’re feeling miserable and scared. Maybe this quote above can help both of us keep a good perspective on our lives…and, like you, I’m wondering about your new love, Joseph—have you seen his chart yet? I’m curious about the hidden side of his Pluto and South Node.

As I write this, Sophie and I are on the train going South from Lindisfarne to Whitby. Sophie is sleeping, and I’m thinking how the English landscape feels so familiar yet dreamlike. It’s as if we are in an in-between world, feeling “betwixt and between,” in every way--but I’ll save the “story” of that for the next letter. I hope she’ll be in a better mood when she wakes up.

Speaking of stories, I was just remembering what many spiritual pilgrims have done and still do—they call it “Cultivating the Witness”. Do you know about that? The Witness, or the Self, is the inner Beloved—that core part of us that observes what is happening. It’s aware of our emotions, our body, and the “story” but it doesn’t identify with them. And it lives in the present moment; now.

So when you asked for help, I wondered if you could try creating a slight distance between the “story of Kendra” with all her wounds and strengths, and the observer/witness inside you? Alistair often quoted his teacher, Krishnamurti, about this awareness—this difference between the “observer and the observed.” Eckart Tolle and others talk about this too— and when you put this more objective distance between you and what’s happening, it seems to put one into a clearer, more energetic place. Of course, physicists talk about the phenomena of observing what’s happening too, and how even in the process of “observing” the observer effects the nature of what is observed. But if you go too far with it, a psychologist would say you’re “dissociating”—so a little goes a long way! You’ve got to have a strong enough ego to be able to “let go” of the ego’s story, and allow it to die into this Witness-Self. I believe you have a strong enough ego so that you’re not going to do a spiritual bypass on an emotional problem.

I just bought a glass of red wine from the steward as he passed by. It seems like my ego relaxes more when I have a glass of wine, but maybe it’s just the defensive left brain beginning to relax. Too much wine, and then I suspect, the reverse happens. I wonder if I could give myself the “advice” I offer you? To cultivate the witness and live in the “now” more….to move away from the “story line of infinite possibilities of pain, gain and attitude adjustments”—and simply trust the process of life unfolding. Not easy! This is the point of astrology…seeing what is happening in a larger symbolic context that’s not so personally infused with the pain of private dramas…and to feel connected to the whole.

What do you think? I suspect, with your Scorpio Sun, you’ve been deep into the delirious drama of trying to figure out “love.” I wonder, instead, if you could witness what is happening between you and Joseph, and let it all just unfold--? My fear is that as long as you stay too “enclosed” and worrying about your weight, you’ll be hiding like that turtle you mentioned, and have nothing to give. Most people don’t care about how we look as much as we think they do—although advertising in the media is always trying to prove the opposite.

I would guess that Joseph is more concerned more about what you think of him. He’s looking at you, and wondering if you love him… wondering if you could see him for who he truly is. He has shame and woundedness in his life too! He has a Pluto/South Node in his chart somewhere, and he reincarnated to attempt to heal that. I think he’s looking to see if you might be the one to help him, and to see and feel his love. And—I think his Pisces/Virgo nature is a nice complement to your Sun in Scorpio, Moon in Cancer.

On a more mundance level, let me add this about Jupiter—all that Jupiter and Venus/Moon sounds great for romance, but the “sweet factor” here—Venus and Jupiter—has a down side too. Jupiter and Venus are conjunct in your birth chart, and it can reflect a sensitivity to gaining weight, to low blood sugar, and even diabetes. But it doesn’t have to—you can choose to observe what you eat and what you’re feeling, rather than literally “taking in sweets.”

Hm…I keep thinking that love is better as a verb than a noun….

As always… trying…. ever so slowly…. to “verb” along, like this train….


Friday, September 24, 2010

Loving the Unloveable~the Wound of Pluto

Dear Isabelle~

I feel un-loveable. I feel fat and miserable. I feel like climbing out of my skin, and something inside me wants to slither away like a snake or retreat like a turtle. I know the turtle image is fitting for my Moon in Cancer, but I can’t hide now- I need to attempt, yet another, Sun-in-Scorpio “rebirth”. I’m sick and tired of dying and being reborn, but I know I must do it. I can just imagine you saying: “this is the nature of Scorpio. This is the nature of a Saturn Return.” And yes, I will try--- to extend my neck out of this shell of my old life and into this new one that seems to be approaching. Hard to tell if what’s coming is friend or foe. I’d prefer to curl up next to a cool rock and sleep.

You ask what has been happening…well, after losing my job and feeling live a defeated victim, I got your email when I was lying in bed one morning. I read all you wrote about Saturn. Ugh. But I decided then that I had it in me to make one good try —and I did. I made one big effort and applied for a job and got it. It’s a simple job, un-glamourous, but…. I met Joseph there. He loves astrology. I think he loves me…or at least likes me a lot. We’ve only been together a few weeks, but…I’m swirling by how fast realities can change.

So…it’s the autumn equinox today, and I’m sitting outside now with my computer and astrology chart, wondering what is possibly going on! How can I feel “in love” and everything be so wonderful and awful all at the same time?! I’m sitting under a glorious old tree watching the late afternoon sun playing through the leaves, trying to absorb all this beauty and calm down, while waiting for him to come over….oh yes! I’m in exquisite torture.

So the unexpected (Uranus) has happened. And just like you told me about transiting Jupiter—“Be careful what you wish for, because your wish may come true. It’s likely to happen.”

Well it did. I wished for him…..and…as you would say; Jupiter (expansion and opportunities) has decided to bless my heart (aspecting Venus & Moon) with the pain of falling in love--- or “in hope”--- or whatever this crazy feeling is! And as you know, being in the middle—or is it “muddle”? of the Saturn Return, I feel under great pressure.

It’s as if I’m being called “out to play again in the world” and I’m scared. Really scared. What do you think, Isabelle? There’s a chance we could make love tonight if I can get over this feeling…if I can be brave.

So I’m looking at this chart of mine, showing my Saturn Return along with Jupiter aspecting my Venus, Moon….and Uranus, so I’ll get more of the unexpected? More weight? Is that the expansion? Gaining weight has made me feel ashamed again, like when I was young. You may remember that my natal Pluto is right on the cusp of the 7th house of relationships and it feels like some old karmic wound has re-emerged. I feel under a familiar old pressure, or shame.

I just want to be myself, not have to prove myself, but it feels as if pieces of my Soul have been taken over the years, with a nagging kind of shame….sometimes I think Joseph has it too—not with weight, but there’s something hidden in him, and he likes to drink. Not too much…but still, it feels like he’s…well, I guess he has his own Pluto-wound somewhere. I should find out…I know he’s a Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, and loves talking about astrology.

What do you think? Help!!! ~Kendra

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Read an Astrology Chart: What matters Most

Dear Kendra~

When I look at my own chart, or a client’s chart, I want to find out first what is truly going on here--what is the question beneath the question? And I want the chart to give me a clue as to what would be most helpful in “solving” that issue. I don’t want to bring up fear or excuses, shame or blame, I simply want to see what and why, and how to make it better.

So, I look at the transits first, to see what area of life the planets are throwing the spotlight on, and look to see if they are squaring off against each other or helping each other. Everybody can read their Sun sign transit report on the web, but what they’re reading is as general as a weather forecast! It’s so much more accurate to see how those transiting planets are aspecting your individual chart, and you can do this easily by creating a transit wheel around the natal chart if you have an astrology program, or you can look at an ephemeris to see the movements of the planets aspecting your birth chart.

But if you do read the web or magazine astrology reports for the day or month, keep in mind that its more accurate to read about your Rising Sign, than to read your Sun sign. All seasoned astrologers know this. There’s some validity to the Sun sign report, but more to the rising sign, because that makes the house placements more accurate. There could be a full Moon eclipse with all sorts of dynamics that astrologers are raving about, but if it’s not hitting your planets—well, you missed the thunderstorm! Your storm and rainbow will come in a unique way for your life and chart—when your transits show aspect your unique planetary pattern.

So with that in mind, what do I look for first? What matters most?

#1 Major transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Especially Saturn Returns, Uranus squares and oppositions, and any of these outer planets conjuncting the Sun or Moon or crossing one of the 4 angles of the chart. This is where attention needs to be drawn to, and any astrology “cookbook” will explain the meanings. The art of astrology, like in good cooking, is knowing how to synthesize it all into a whole. And to make it good and nourishing.

#2 What is most useful to know? Look at the natal chart next, and see what the Soul is “wanting to do” in this lifetime. What does the storyline look like? What are the challenges and pitfalls? Where strengths could be maximized?

The storyline of the Soul is told in the sign and house position of the Sun, the Moon, the Rising Sign, and the North and South Nodes. The whole chart is an inter-connected mandala that should support your reading, even if you understand only a part of the mandala—it’s like a puzzle, isn’t it? You could do a good reading by understanding the basics in depth….and then you will see “support and amplification” of the basics in the rest of the chart.

Astrologers all have their favorite ways of understanding and reading a chart—for some it might be through the Moon or the asteroids, but my particular bias is to look at the long term “Soul karmic story” of the North and South Nodes (you know that, because you read my book: “North Node Astrology” about how I feel about the Nodes and how to use them) and then to look at the short term needs. This is shown in what Mars and Saturn are doing in the birthchart and what they are doing by transit. Those are planetary energies that we can consciously “work with” at the moment, and actively do something about! Which brings me to the most important point if all---

#3 Don’t see the planets as “bad guys” but rather as energies that you are now ready to learn and grow from --no transits happen before their time! And everything can be lived out in a higher octave or a lower octave. You choose how to react—that’s your free will.

It might be helpful to imagine the planets as “Gods who have an agenda…who want to be honored and listened to.” They are archetypal energies that show up synchronistically, or astrologically, at a particular time for a particular reason. Do you know what the reason is? You can “know” this intuitively, or you can get help by looking at your chart. Most of us know things both ways…but the astrology confirms our intuitions.

Here’s an example: Saturn is often seen as strict, constrictive, authoritarian, melancholic energy—a little gruff and depressive as well—and “he” wants to tell you what to do and how to do it. Now most people don’t like being told what to do! However, I always look first to see what this old man, Saturn, is saying in the transiting chart, because he has a perspective on things that I sometimes avoid…. but truly, if we don’t deny what he is reminding us about—we’ll find that Saturn creates the best luck and the longest lasting happiness. Not Jupiter, but Saturn! We generally create the Saturnian foundation for Jupiterian luck to happen.

So the “reality watchdog”, Saturn’s practicality, might sound something like: finish your term paper so you can graduate, or, take those vitamin supplements for your bones, or make that commitment to deal with your finances. Saturn rules bones, houses, and all the “forms our lives take”—so by honoring Saturn transits we create “reality structures” to hold our life. When we discipline ourselves to do the hard work in the short run, we reap the rewards in the long run.

Saturn also rules the womb, and the institution of marriage—so when there’s a Saturn-Moon transit for example, if can sometimes manifest as a pregnancy, or if it’s Saturn/Sun or a Saturn Return it could be a marriage—or divorce. And as beautiful as marriage ceremonies are, they are a lot of hard work, foreshadowing the hardest yoga of all—two people loving each other!

Anyway dear Sophie, it feels like you are working powerfully with Saturn now, as you are in your first Saturn Return. And from what you’ve said, it impacted your womb, your work, and your relationship. It seemed as if Saturn was all about denying you at first, but I think it was more about “re-structuring”. Saturn rules time—he was known as old Kronos—from the Greek word for “time”--so my sense is that you are keenly aware of the passing of time, and making a space ready for new life “structures” and adventures. Is that true? I want to hear your story—the particulars-- what’s happening….?

Have you talked with your friends who are between 28-30 about their first Saturn Returns? I think the 2nd Saturn Return between 58-60 is usually less dramatic, but has more to do with “unfinished business.” Interesting how we all have these passages at the same time, but “play it out” in different ways. The core issues are the same though….don’t you think?

How are you?

As always, with love,


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yearning to Reconcile: Christian fundamentalism, Celtic Spirituality and Jungian Astrology

Dear Isabelle~

I was touched by your willingness to get over the mask of the teacher--the “persona mask” and so poignantly tell me the story about meeting up again with Alistair and Sophie—and your yearning to heal the splits among you. This photo of a “split open rock” that I’m sending, reminded me of the pain of that “severance” I hear in your also reminds me of the resurrection story of Jesus when he split open the tomb. Ah…breaking open and breaking through…what a challenge! I love that you’re also yearning to heal your own spiritual split---that space within you that puts you into the place of “the reluctant astrologer” at times…I’m only just beginning to get a sense of what that is about…

So…how will you find the middle ground between Sophie’s Christian fundamentalism, Alistair’s cerebral spirituality, and your more pagan astrology—? Are you thinking it could be through Celtic Spirituality? Maybe the history (or ‘her-story’) will be found in the numinous stones at the monastery ruins of Whitby and will open Sophie’s heart. I imagine that’s why you’ve chosen to take her there…since it was a woman abbess, St Hilda, who governed this ancient monastery that gave both men and woman a chance to “be monks” and to honor both Christian and older earth/nature centered beliefs. I read somewhere too, that she mentored a lowly cow-herder into becoming a famous poet—I wonder if they were in love? ~grin~ And, I wonder… what will happen when you meet up with Alistair again in Switzerland--in “Jung’s land; in his temonos/sacred space”?

I’ve started doing charts for other people, but I have questions for you. People are wanting to know more astrology now, especially with all the fear around 2012 and not understanding this shift between the Piscean Age to the Aquarian age, and how this Cardinal T-square between Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus will usher it in.

So…I need to understand it in my own chart first. And I need to know how to approach doing a chart for another person. What do I start with? How do I see what’s really important in the chart and how can I avoid being a predictor of fear—like the astrologer who was predicting only “endings” in my Saturn Return? There’s so much information out there, but how do you suggest I do a reading? How do I get a sense of how a client (or myself) will play out, and live into the transits? Especially when they look “hard” to my beginner’s eye….till later then~

~with love…~Kendra

Invisible Realms in Celtic Spirituality

I’m reluctant to leave this place that is so embedded with Celtic Spirituality! I took one more solitary walk before leaving the island, and took a photo of a spiral stone-- it reminded me how the Celts experience the Divine as a tender force, not visible, but present in all things. Such a sweet reminder! The world of nature was a constant companion to them--and as the Irish poet, John O’Donohue, said: “the Celts remind us that we need a gentle light where the Soul can be sheltered and reveal its ancient belonging”. He went on to say that beauty often likes neglected places, and Lindisfarne has felt this way.

I love the idea that we can find beauty and the presence of God in the invisible world in nature, and also, in being soul-friends to each other. The Irish Celts called that soul friend an “anam cara”. I hope I can be that for both Kendra and Sophie. Interesting to think how astrologers could be seen as professional “anam caras”…I hope to be that for Kendra through our letters. And I feel so grateful that Sophie has agreed to go together on this journey to Whitby. I wonder if we can hold that “anam cara” quality for each other while we look among the sacred stones there?

I love the idea too, that when we choose to look, we can “find the sacred in the commonplace”—like finding beauty in a shell or carved stone, or a forest fern that’s spiraled and nestled into a stone wall. It’s as if God remembers itself in the beauty of nature, and so by observing the invisible messages there, we hear the voice of a soul-friend. Nature can be one’s “anam cara.”

I think people who are born in the astrological “Earth Signs” of Capricorn, Virgo and Taurus often have an innate awareness of this. Having no planets in earth signs in my chart, I compensate for this, since I know I lack what the Jungians would call this “sensate” quality. But my North Node in Taurus reminds me that finding the sacred in the sensual good things of this earth is simply good medicine for me…maybe that’s why I love pottery and wooden spoons so much…! Hm…. Kendra has her North Node in Leo which holds the life force of the Sun—it’s as if her homeopathic North Node medicine would be to nurture herself on the warmth of the Sun. I wonder if she’s emailed me yet—I better check--

Lindisfarne to Whitby

Dear Kendra~

I’m so sorry I dropped our writing correspondence when all this happened with Sophie. I suspect with your Moon in Cancer, squaring Pluto, you might be sensitive to anything that feels like abandonment or neglect. If I hadn’t finally phoned you from Lindisfarne to catch up on my “disappearance” I would have felt very guilty! But here we are again, and I will get over my private feelings of needing to keep up any appearances –-even in the holding of the teacher/mentor persona….that ‘persona’ part of me that likes having it “all together” just because I’m teaching astrological correspondences. As you know, a persona is a mask, and astrologically we see it described in the Rising Sign, but even with my courageous Aries rising, I feel that I am as much a “Foolish Warrior” as a “Wise Woman.”

Since we last spoke, Sophie got out of the hospital and joined Alistair and I for a few days at Lindisfarne. The first night she was back, the Christian ‘retreatants’ did a healing prayer circle for her that touched my heart, and seemed to do wonders for Sophie. As we stood in a circle with our arms and hands touching each other, it felt as if there was such a connecting energy with spirit, that I must admit--- it just about undid my old religious skepticism, and even my ideas about “how it all is and how it’s always going to be” between us as a family. I guess you could say I felt hope. I know now I want to be reconnected with Alistair and Sophie again— in a different way. I see now how much I need to deepen my sense of faith in “Spirit”—perhaps that’s why I’ve been a bit of a reluctant astrologer…

Today I was thinking how astrologers come from all religious traditions…yet astrologers have always been the “black sheep” in any religious or political systems, yet we seem to enjoy our position as “honored outsiders” and have managed not to be slaughtered too often…except with the great holocaust of the witches and midwives! In other eras, we’d be kept in a “private position” by Kings and Popes and Statesmen, but people usually prefer to keep their private astrologers to themselves. We’re a bit taboo….

Anyway, Alistair and I spent a lot of time walking around this “holy isle” yesterday and soaking in all its sunlit quaintness. There are monastery ruins here that go back to the 7th century, founded by St Aidan, and we learned about the hermit and healer, St Cuthbert, and how he used solitude as his way of connecting to Christ. And…I heard Alistair muttering at some point (quoting Krishnamurti,) about how “Truth is a pathless land” when an over-zealous pilgrim was showing us a sacred site.

You know, I actually like Alistair’s blend of Buddhist philosophy and Krishnamurti (you remember him?--the anti-guru Guru who was so popular in the sixties and seventies?). Alistair’s beliefs move him out of religion into “spirituality” anchor him in the present moment. Being aware and awake in the NOW is what’s so important for him, and I like that. But he doesn’t allow himself to “get astrology” and I don’t think Sophie quite understands either of us. As you know, astrology is about the ability to think symbolically and to make connections between different levels of consciousness—between the inner and the outer life. Synchronistic connections. And maybe it’s up to me to find the connecting threads between Alistair, Sophie and me. And for me to pay more attention to what Jung called “the Self”—the inner Self.

Anyway, as the day was winding down, around sunset, the wind picked up into quite a howl, so we found refuge in a little pub in town—and that’s when Alistair told me that he’s leaving for Zurich, Switzerland tomorrow! For a Krishnamurti gathering…a conference.

“So where does that leave us?” I asked him, astonished by this unexpected news.

“It’s up to you….I don’t know. Would you and Sophie like to go there?” He seemed a little nervous.

“Of course, that would be nice, but why would Sophie want to go there? And do you really want me there?” Some of my skepticism returned. He nodded yes, but I could feel a reluctance there.

“Or…” I began, “Maybe Sophie and I could go south to Whitby first, and then make our way slowly to you…. do you remember our trip there when we were first married? Do you remember St Hilda’s monastery on those cliffs towering above the ocean? Whitby was where the Christian Celts and the Roman Catholics had their big “show-down”–the Synod of Whitby-- where the pagan-Christian Celts lost “philosophically” to the Roman Catholics. There’s such a numinous feeling in the monastery ruins there—how they sit so high on the cliffs overlooking the sea. What do you think?”

Alistair nodded his head thoughtfully. We smiled like we were cooking up a scheme or a broth of spiritual treats for Sophie. “Women were such a big part of the Celtic Christianity then, and maybe the romance of Whitby could create a bridge…maybe Sophie and I could go there first, and then…..” I trailed off trying to imagine into the future and stared up at another Celtic Cross on the far wall—even in the dark pub—(!) and thought how much it looked like Jung’s mandalas. “Maybe we could go from there to visit you….and see Jung’s house outside of Zurich?”

“Maybe….! But take it slowly, Isabelle, see how it goes…. I’ve planned to be there for awhile. You know how those gatherings are….but, yes, I’d love to have you both come….”

And so, I turned to Alistair and gave his hand a squeeze. All I could think of at that moment, was Thoreau’s words: “We are constantly invited to be who we are.” And who would that be now?

So, dear Kendra, that’s how it’s been going! Send me news of you~



Private Journal at Lindisfarne

I’m here—on the “Holy Island” of Lindisfarne staying at the room Sophie reserved for herself at the Christian Retreat Center, while she’s at the hospital on the main-land. This is all too strange. There’s a lovely Celtic Cross hanging above the wooden writing table, and I love the feel of it here—I can even see the white-capped ocean waves through the diamond leaded glass windows. But—it also feels like some horrid dream. This is not the way I would have wanted to visit this mystical place…I should have been traveling with Sophie, not alone, not this way—and not with Alistair in the next room.

The plane from Boston landed early this morning, and I didn’t get to the hospital till noon. Sophie was conscious although looking exhausted—who wouldn’t be after a concussion? And her right arm was hurting her— the monk from the abbey who pulled her out of the water twisted it slightly—he must have been very strong to be able to carry her to the mainland, and then—what a dear-- he carried her on foot, straight-way to the hospital! They say he’s been living here on Lindisfarne for thirty years.

Sophie managed a shy smile when I entered her room. As I hugged her, my eyes filled with tears…tears of the fear and guilt of a mother who hadn’t saved her daughter. Instead, Sophie had to console me, telling me she was fine, really fine, but she didn’t look fine. And I didn’t even notice at first that Alistair was already sitting there, leaning over with his head in his hands, a slight distance from her bed. Talk about strange…what a way for Sophie to see her parents together again after five years! Alistair’s hair looked wispier and grayer, and he didn’t seem as put-together as he used to look, but he still had the Irish cap in his lap…the one I had given him the year before we separated. My heart went out to him—and then pulled back as I struggled to find words….

Alistair had always been good with quick words, with his Gemini Moon and Sagittarius Rising, but all his Gemini “airiness” and Sagittarian self-confidence was overshadowed by the detached coolness often expressed by his Aquarius Sun. When I was ill and going through menopause, he hadn’t known how to be there for me. The day I told him I had to drive to Boston to find out definitively whether I had breast cancer of not, he said didn’t want to “support me in my fear” as this was my drama, not his. A friend went with me instead, as I found out I was not a victim of cancer, but to a broken heart. I left Alistair soon after that day, and it’s now been five years. No divorce, but little connection. He moved to Ojai, California to the Krishnamurti Center there, and I opened my astrology office in the historic section of Newport, Rhode Island. No divorce, but no connection, except through Sophie.

Alistair hadn’t been able to listen--but now here we were again, staring at each other—feeling everything, and neither of us had any words. My Libra nature couldn’t balance or harmonize anything, in fact, it felt like the weirdness factor had just gone off the charts. There was no way to make this look normal. Here we were: Isabelle, the astrologer meets again with Alistair, the Buddhist-Krishnamurti-ite, over the bedside of their Christian fundamentalist daughter who’s apparently had a near-death experience.

“Anyone for tea?” the nurse sprightly asked as she rushed into the room with her request for the tradition of British civility--we all burst into laughter. It felt so sweet for a moment, and I swear the caffeine in the pot of Earl Gray tea felt like a small miracle.

As we fumbled around talking as “normal” as possible and it seemed as if Sophie was becoming more and more pleased that we were both there. She had hated our separation, never understood it, and—for a moment I imagined this as a grand strategy to reunite us. Sophie was a bright, moody, and sometimes manipulative Scorpio—I’d never say that to her or to my Scorpio student, dear Kendra! But after our tea and awkward conversation of basic facts that made no sense-- Sophie convinced us that she was doing well enough, that Alistair and I should go and get some rest— stay out on the island for a few days since we had come so far. It made about as much sense as everything else, so we agreed and left together.

As if traveling 4000 miles to see your near-drowned daughter and ex-husband wasn’t weird enough, here’s where I lost my mind! When we got back to the place where we could have driven out to the island, we found we had missed the opportunity to get there as the fast tides had covered the road, and had landlocked the island yet again, so we were told we were going to have to wait till the next morning.

“Well,” I said to Alistair, “Let’s walk out together and see what Sophie was trying to do…on her pilgrimage and all that—“ So we began walking around in the cold inlet with our pants rolled up, feeling the powerful surge of the waters rushing around our legs and the pebbly sands trying to bury our feet. What were we doing? Trying to relive her experience?

Suddenly I felt Alistair’s hand take mine--“Isabelle, I don’t think our story is over yet.” His voice was a whisper, tentative, questioning. I didn’t know what he was talking about at first, but as I looked up I could see tears in his eyes. I squeezed his hand while staring down at the swirling waters at our feet. I wondered: how does one let go of five years of separation, of grieving? Does forgiveness happen in an instant? And so we stood there, looking like a distant portrait of two children holding hands in the ocean, till someone started yelling at us and summoning us back to shore. We pleaded with them to take us by small boat to the island…..

And now, I sit at this desk, writing in my journal, trying to make sense of things…with Alistair in the next room to me….each in our own monk’s cell.

I am shocked that we are all “feeling together” again. When Alistair and I separated, we used to talk about his inability to know what he was feeling and express it—or even to listen with his heart instead of his head. Alistair’s South Node in the pragmatic sign of Capricorn and North Node in Cancer, would have had a hard time embracing the emotionality/sensitivity of his North Node Cancer. He was very much a left-brain man, as a craftsman and arm-chair philosopher--- but me? Since when is a Libra woman with an Aries Moon, such a “feeler” anyway? —I’m more of a spiritual warrior if anything. Even if my Sun in Libra conjuncts Neptune, it doesn’t mean I’m so empathic or freed from my own illusions. Hmph. And my South Node in Scorpio would get sucked into dark drama at times, and forget the healing pull and serenity of my Taurus North Node.

Well, writing seems to help sort it all out…. Or does it? I feel dizzy with shifting sands, silence…fear. How can I write Kendra about this? How do I keep up my teaching Wise Woman persona with her when my world is dissolving and shifting too rapidly for words? I’m exhausted. Sleep calls….

Monday, September 13, 2010


Oh Kendra~

I got a call from the British hospital late last night about Sophie. She had gone on “pilgrimage” to Lindisfarne—which she’d never told me about— I had no idea that her dream to walk to the Holy Island ‘through the waters’ to her sacred site meant crossing dangerous undertows of incredibly fast tides. I had no idea she planned to walk at night, by herself through the waters—it was a New Moon last night, and it must have been very dark. I still don’t know if she knew how many “pilgrims” had died this way; people like her, who didn’t swim, and got caught in the undertow.

Was she risking all for God? Was she depressed? Manic? Suicidal or---“enraptured”?

I’m leaving tomorrow….they said she had a concussion and was barely conscious by the time someone found her and pulled her out of the water—she had lashed herself by her belt to a pole that wasn’t that far from the island.

I feel so ashamed. I never told you that my daughter, Sophie is a Christian fundamentalist; the ‘only daughter of an astrologer’—ah... I feel Sophie must feel ashamed of me. Why do these beliefs come between us? Why did she go there? Was she hoping to become more…..faithful?

Will write more when I find out what’s happened….I’m off to England, to Lindisfarne, to the nearest little hospital in “Berwick-on-Tweed”. I wonder if they contacted her father, Alistair too—I can’t imagine seeing him again after five years….and meeting him this way.

!!!~ Isabelle

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Kendra, Sept 5th

Dear Kendra~

I just found this poem I wrote for Alistair and I, years before our separation, and it made me cry. I wrote it after we returned from a trip to France, and I believe there was a wonderful Neptune/Venus aspect happening at the time.

Neptune rules nostalgia, film and photographs, yearning, illusions, and combined with Venus it nurtures romantic idealism at its best. I remember thinking Alistair and I would be together always…such a sense of severance I feel now…

I called the Poem “Old Photographs” as I was imagining us looking together at photographs in years to come—and now it has been over two years that we’ve been apart. I don’t know how we will ever come around to finalizing the separation into a divorce; I certainly can’t do it. It all makes me sad. This must be part of Saturn conjuncting my Sun in the 7th house of marriage. Since Saturn takes over 2 years to travel through each section of the chart, each house, I wonder how it will play out for us? I suppose Saturn here is also capable of re-uniting us, but I haven’t seen signs of it…

Old Photographs

"I was in the café, sitting in front of the potted geraniums

wearing the straw hat I just bought.

I was writing a postcard to my mother

when I looked up to see the shadows

of the early autumn evening

dancing on the stucco walls.

Then you walked by—you were taking pictures of the light.

I watched you… trying to imagine what you were seeing there.

And then you turned your gaze on me

and shot this one here—

a little out of focus—but it was then that I saw them—

the tenderest eyes I’d ever seen.

Look. This is where we found ourselves standing later

by the edge of the river—the one Van Gogh painted.

We walked for hours feeling Van Gogh.

You talked apertures, lens and focus.

This was the hotel, Le D’Arlatan…

Do you remember wandering the back streets—

lost in the cobbled labyrinths—

till we found ourselves here?

The oversized antique bed held expectations. I felt shy.

You said—“Pull the curtains,” and I pulled the heavy curtains back.

I read you a poem by candlelight.

You smiled right into my soul—then served us farmer’s wine

in the opalescent glasses we’d bought that day.

I put the photographs down.

“It was so good,” you say.

“Like the wisp of a dream I can barely remember.”

I lean into your eyes; those milky apertures

transparent with the film of a lifetime.

Now, I offer you wine and pull the curtains open

catching the last dance of light on the peach colored walls.

You put on the old songs…

We sit in chairs by the window,

admiring the blue hydrangeas

our knees will touch, and we will speak about how

the quality of light makes everything different

and everything the same." ~

With love,