September 11: Fierce Grace

A 63-year-old man, seemingly in vibrant health, was struck one morning by a massive stroke. He had been a writer and a public speaker, and in the aftermath of his stroke, he found that searching for the right words was like rambling around a large closet looking for a sweater tossed in the corner. Three years ago, during the process of his healing, he lost faith in God and in his desire to live, yet today he sees his stroke as "fierce grace." Recently he told a friend that he has been pondering whether the September 11th attack has been a kind of fierce grace as well, not unlike a stroke.

As an astrologer, I look at the timing of an event for the meaning it may convey. It is a delicate task to talk about meaning or the positive ramifications of a traumatic event, when a person – or world – is in a state of post-traumatic stress. One usually just listens with an open heart. But when the "patient" is oneself and one's family as well, then perhaps these words are my way of expressing my shock and grief. They are one person's observations, no more or less.

A stroke creates a massive change in which we have to re-learn and re-examine things we once knew. The astrological reading for the September 11th "stroke" was so potent and full of meaning that I believe it deserves consideration whether or not one believes in astrology. Most people believe in history, and what we have here is a fascinating correlation between events.

Historically the conjunctions of Pluto and Saturn herald the passing of an old way of life and the beginning of a new order. When these planetary archetypes come together there is a struggle between the old order and the new, between lawlessness and a strict moral code. It is a time where people are apt to take a hard stand and refuse to budge, and that is when the transformation can be the most painful and destructive. These aspects tend to arise when a change is needed, yet apathy or some form of "stuckness" has prevented movement. Historically, it is interesting to note when the conjunctions and oppositions of these aspects took place.

In the 20th century, the first conjunction took place in 1914 as World War I erupted in Europe, and the nations progressed through the chaos of war to a new order and attitude of cooperation. In the 1931 opposition we were dealing with the effects of economic depression and fascism. During the 1947-48 conjunction we became conscious of the holocaust and created the state of Israel, while the Truman Doctrine of 1947 declared that the US must support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities. This action brought us into the Viet Nam War in 1965-66 as another Saturn/Pluto opposition arose. In 1982-3 it occurred again as the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall came down. And in August of this year we entered another opposition which lasts till next June. The analysis of these events, as major and often "shocking" events, need not be morally judged as bad or good, but it points to these times as junctures when our priorities and values are rearranged. So here we are again.

One could make a case for apathy and stuckness in the world. Violence has become entertainment. Children are angry and killing each other. We choose life's work by how much we will be paid, rather than by doing what we love. We've sought to find God but have found instead religious fundamentalism and bigotry. It's still too much my way versus yours, whether it be orthodox, conservative or New Age. No amount of material objects and money can fill our spiritual void and disconnection. Something is stuck, and it is angry. The good news here is that we are talking about it in a way that airs our differences and our similarities. We are listening to each other whether we like it or not. The patient on the operating table is us, and we know it. So we pray and talk our truth, each in our own way.

The astrological good news is that there was a grand trine in the air at the time of the "stroke" and that Jupiter was at the mid-heaven. What that can mean is that our ability to talk, listen, and review our history not only has the potential for saving our world, but could promote a more profound and active infusion of Spirit in our lives. Like a stroke patient, we can learn a new way of being in the world. It will probably be very slow at first, with angry outbursts, but we are counseled not to give up faith, as this may very well be a stroke of "fierce grace."

Elizabeth Spring is an astrologer in Newport, RI. She can be contacted at 401-294-5863.