What is transformation? We talk about it a lot, but what does it mean to transform? How does it happen?
Many of us will have transformational experiences in the next few weeks as we move deeper into the realm of Scorpio, the sign of death, transformation, and rebirth. Saturn entered Scorpio on October 5 for the first time in nearly 30 years, and for the first time in more than 230 years is in mutual reception with Pluto, the ruler of Scorpio in modern Western astrology. When the Sun enters Scorpio on Monday, the individual and collective transformation process intensifies (after all, what is the collective but a “collection” of individuals?).
As part of the research for my documentary, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the work of Stan Grof, a psychiatrist best known for his experiments with LSD in the 1970s, when medical use was legal. A friend lent me Grof’s latest book, When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Realities. It’s the first time I’ve read accounts of Grof’s own sessions with LSD. In some of these sessions, he had past-life memories, and in some cases, these memories triggered deep healing in his personal relationships. His accounts validated my own experiences, which I had without the use of psychedelics.
In fact, in my astrology work, I’ve observed that an increasing number of people are having such memories, which I prefer to call “other lives,” because I believe they aren’t happening in chronological succession according to human perception of time. Grof came to the same conclusion – and he’s a Ph.D. psychiatrist who never believed in past lives. Incidentally, as he ventured further into non-ordinary states of consciousness, he also came to accept the validity of astrology.
In his work, Grof observed time and again the transformation that occurred in patients as a result of entering what he calls the “holotropic state of consciousness” – a state of mind in which we can heal past wounds, whether from early childhood, the birth process itself, or events prior to birth in this incarnation. While in this state, some patients had other-life experiences that explained fears and anxieties that previously had no name and no known source. Some of them also discovered karmic relationships that helped explain their current relationship difficulties. Once LSD was outlawed, he worked with breathing techniques to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Of course there are other ways to do it, too, which he readily acknowledges.
Once Grof began working with LSD, it didn’t take long for him to realize that conventional “modern” psychiatry and psychology was inadequate. It couldn’t address spiritual experiences, and it completely ignored human consciousness. In the mid-60s – right around the time of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction – Grof got together with some colleagues and laid the foundation for transpersonal psychology. It’s still not entirely in the mainstream, but with Uranus and Pluto now in a square, it’s making inroads in one form or another and is the way of the future for psychology. The profession is being transformed, and that means people who seek therapy for mental health issues also have an increased chance of being transformed.
In the meantime, though, many people are going through spontaneous transformation, and from what I’m seeing, a lot of it is related to a growing awareness of other lives – in particular, of relationships that exist beyond this incarnation. Often, meeting another person with whom one has karmic ties is the trigger for those memories. I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that the increase in the number of people having these experiences is happening now. This is quite possibly the Apocalypse – not doom and destruction, but a lifting of the veil to higher consciousness and the resulting transformation of society that by definition must happen when enough people understand that the energy patterns underlying the material world are inextricably linked to physical reality.
Anyone who has had Pluto transit their Ascendant has a good idea of what transformation is and how it works. It’s usually a slow process, even if a sudden event triggers it, and that’s good. For transformation to take place, a part of us must die, and that part usually is the ego – the structures that your mind has developed to survive in your environment and circumstances. Breaking down isn’t pretty. For some people, it might even mean a literal mental breakdown that has to occur before their body/mind can be reassembled in wholeness. Sometimes, other-life memories or sudden realizations can be so foreign to what they “know” that the breakdown happens all by itself. That said, with Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn, it’s time to take responsibility for our healing and transformation.
The human race as a whole is going through a major change, and we’re seeing it as breakdowns in whole societies. These changes are well under way, so whether we’ll see more of them during this intensive Scorpio period or whether more people will just become aware of what’s happening, I can’t say – maybe some of both.
Part of what makes transformation so hard is that it usually requires going back to the source of a wound. That in itself has been hard, because until we recognize that some wounds are in our energy field and may have been imprinted before our birth in this incarnation, we can’t address the source, even if we want to. Past-life regression therapy has been around for a while, and although there weren’t a lot of controls in the early days, the field is attempting to police itself and weed out unqualified and unethical practitioners.
Looking at this week, the Sun enters Scorpio at 8:14 p.m. EDT on Monday, and immediately trines Neptune on Tuesday and conjoins Saturn on Thursday. Sun-Saturn aspects can be intimidating, but I see this three-way aspect between the Sun and Saturn in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces as a huge opening for taking responsibility for your own transformation. With Neptune in Pisces, we don’t even need the LSD but can go into altered states through meditation and occult practices such as working with the Tarot. Of course, sex is always an avenue, too, as long as you’re aware of what you’re doing. As with all things Scorpio, the portal is your own fear. What are you most afraid of? And how is that fear self-limiting? Do you even know? I’d suggest that if you’re in therapy already, you might want to do some extra work with your therapist. If you’re not in therapy but think you could benefit, this is a great time to do the heavy lifting. As an added bonus (um, right) there’s a trine from the Sun to Chiron on Saturday. I know, opening an old wound may be incredibly uncomfortable, but the pain is temporary, and with Saturn in Scorpio, we can bite the bullet.
Also on Thursday, Mercury in Scorpio sextiles Venus in Virgo – a great time to get to the bottom of issues in your love life. Do take some care in how you approach the subject. Finding fault or being overly critical isn’t the way to get heard. Better still, wait a couple of days, until Venus enters her own sign of Libra. This is much better energy for give-and-take, compromise, and accommodation. Just don’t be so willing to avoid conflict at any cost that you don’t say what you’ve got to say.
Ten minutes before Venus enters Libra on Sunday, Mars in Sagittarius opposes Jupiter in Gemini. This is about big ideas and adventurous thinking, to hell with the details for now. It’s time for back-of-the-envelope calculations and taking phone numbers to get together for further discussion.
Speaking of big ideas, if you’d like to know more about Stan Grof’s work, he has a substantial article archive on his website.
Wishing you all much love and the courage to heal,