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The Great Turning

Steve Nation
October 2010


There is something intriguing about a 'blue moon'. It is an uncommon event - and uncommon events inevitably lead us to enquire about their significance. We speak of rare occurrences happening 'once in a blue moon'.

Wikipedia tells us that a blue moon is generally considered to be the second full moon of a calendar month. Most years see 12 full moons - one every month, but occasionally there are 13. This year, 2010, there are only 12 full moons, so in common parlance there is no blue moon. But for astrologers there is a blue moon this year. In astrological terms this refers to the second full moon in a particular sun sign. Friday, October 22 will be the second full moon in the sign Libra - the following day the sun moves into Scorpio.

So we are in a year when there is a double dose of Libra energies - and right now we are at a time when Libra energies are present just as Scorpio is about to shine its light into the psyche. A year of two Libra full moons - what does this suggest for our meditation work? What stories does it invite into our imagination? And a five-day full moon cycle of Libra transiting into Scorpio - what might this signify?

One of the basic ideas of esoteric astrology is the notion of a Great Turning, marking a transition between two dominant phases in the development of the human psyche. One phase concerns the development of the personality as a separate, independent psychic entity. This involves all the stages in the development and maturing of the emotions and the mind of the individual and the expansion of loyalties from self-interest to family interest and the interests of the immediate environment. During this developmental phase the soul is said to incarnate in a clockwise direction through the zodiac. Then the process of the Turning begins as the personality becomes sensitive to the Presence, the Reality of the Soul, as it exists on its own plane. The Soul is not some abstract idea. It is a real part of our identity with a consciousness and a way of thinking that is essentially lighted, loving, wise and deeply purposeful. The Soul, sometimes thought of as the Angel, is an essential part of who we are. Once the process of turning begins the development and maturing of the psyche is all about the personality's transformation in response to the light, the love and the purpose of the soul. In astrological terms Turning is an appropriate metaphor. When the focus of energy is on building the personality the soul incarnates in a clockwise direction through the zodiac. When the focus is on the relationship between soul and personality, on integration of the two, the wheel of life is said to reverse - the soul entering incarnation through the zodiac in an anti-clockwise direction. The Great Turning, the Reversal of the Wheel, is a metaphor for understanding a key phase in the movement of the individual onto the discipleship path - and for understanding the hugely significant changes societies, peoples and cultures are undergoing during this historical period.

Libra governs the Great Turning of the Wheel of Life. Consider the energy of human creativity, human purpose, human imagination - think of the fire, of the power of this collective energy moving in one direction around the Wheel of Life, establishing identity, solidity, incarnated self-hood, competitive advantage, forging a national identity, materializing ego. These are not negative points of focus - they are important elements of the soul's immersion in the human. For a good deal of this process there is little awareness of the soul - a natural repression of all that the Soul Is. The process leading into the Turning of the Wheel is underway even while this building up of the personality is the primary momentum. Impressions of the Soul's identity and perspective emerge gently and quietly at first. But through time and through incarnations and through crises the tension rises. Then the momentum of the great Wheel comes to a halt. There is a moment of balance, of absolute stillness before the wheel moves again - this time in a new direction.

This is an image to have in mind as we seek to find meaning in the events of our Age. Libra governs law, money and the relations between feminine and masculine - processes at the heart of culture and of relationships - all our relationships - and at the very crux of the transitions of our age.

DK refers to a crucial question for astrologers in understanding a horoscope for an individual or an entity like a nation: is the life experience and the issues arising out of this experience primarily concerned with the dynamics of the ordinary wheel and the building of personality; or is it more centred in the reversed wheel, the shaping of a discipleship identity and the emergence of an impulse to serve; or is all the tension and drama to do with the process of turning from one to the other? Nothing is ever black and white of course and the reading of a life horoscope (for a person or a nation) is an art requiring a basic knowledge of the symbolic relationships of the planets and the zodiac, insight into the psyche of the subject, sensitivity to the intuition, and a fundamentally detached, totally non-judgmental approach. There are always elements of personality crises jostling with soul crises - the art of the astrologer is in reading where the primary direction lies.

In the opening section of DK's remarks on Libra in Esoteric Astrology, we read that when it is the ordinary wheel that is the primary focus of a life Libra signifies the sign in which the first real vision of the Path appears and of the goal towards which the disciple must ultimately direct his steps. The Path is seen as the Middle Way - the narrow, razor-edged Path which runs between the pairs of opposites and which - if it is to be safely trodden - requires the development of a sense of values and the power to utilize rightly the balancing, analytical faculty of the mind. It is also the sign of intuitive perception [page 227]

On the ordinary wheel the soul incarnates in the sequence Scorpio, Libra, Virgo. Libra follows all the turmoil and challenge of Scorpio when the personality sends out its first real cry to the soul - and the soul responds. Then follows the experience in Libra wherein a life is spent in quiet, thoughtful reflection or in a condition of static unresponsiveness nothing much appears to be happening yet a deep process of determining the direction of the future life is going on behind the scenes. The following Virgo life will either be one of a personality, materialistic focus or a slowly emerging soul vibration. As progress is made, recurrently or cyclically, around the wheel of life, these experiences and vibratory activities intensify in character until the time comes when the reversal of the wheel takes place. [pages 227-8]

Libra governs the Turning itself: it is the place of judgment, the interlude of balance where the decision is made to enter a process of the personality slowly, through time, through a sequence of lives, incarnating the Soul Presence. The interlude can be an unhappy experience of swinging between the pairs of opposites - apprehensively approaching the discipleship path when: [Your] focus of interest and [your] aim is soul life, yet [you find] within [yourself] that which seeks ever to draw [you] back to the old ways, the old habits and the old desires. [page 229] Through the Discipleship path that unfolds, beginning with the tests and trials of Scorpio, a way is crafted that allows the focus of the life to increasingly lie in fields of service to the Good of the Whole - personal challenges, problems and difficulties help to focus and orient this direction. This does not mean that the one traveling the discipleship path is necessarily a prominent figure in a particular field of service - simply that the life is inherently about a wide inclusive universal love. The discipleship path is not about dreams and fantasies (these are more characteristic of the personality looking adoringly up at the Soul, where the soul is seen as separate and Superhuman) - it is about serving the interests of goodness, beauty and truth - about the on-going process of becoming goodness, beauty and truth.

And so, what of this time right now? We have the opportunity to consider the big, soul sized events of this full moon period in terms of the Great Turning. Imagine that through all the discussion, arguing, negotiation and deep thinking by millions of human beings what is happening is we are collectively weighing up the way forward and that the opportunity is to choose to move forward in line with Soul visions of cooperation, an economics of sharing and justice, sustainable development, advancing human rights and freedoms - freedom from hunger, freedom from poverty, freedom from slavery and abuse.

The big events right now and in the immediate weeks ahead would have to include the November 2 elections in the United States (the largest economy in the world); the Palestine-Israel peace negotiations still going in spite of extreme difficulties; the major meeting of parties to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity currently underway in Nagoya Japan (this is a critical arena in the reshaping of world economics and values evoked by the massive loss of species and ecosystems); and the associated build-up to the Climate Change Convention in Cancun, Mexico November 29 - December 10. In the meditation work we do during this second Libra full moon, may we hold these events in the light and see them as contributing to and providing energy for the Great Turning. And we can do something else. We can reflect that it is not be accident that these issues and events have arisen during a period when the psyche is conditioned by a double-dose of Libra, leading into the discipleship testing of Scorpio. It is right from a human perspective to work for positive results, for greater sharing, for greater generosity of spirit in a nation or the world - and it is right to hope for the best possible outcome of events such as treaty conventions, peace negotiations and elections. Yet from a deeper level we can know that whatever the immediate result, the ground is being prepared for future choices and bold future decisions.