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Zane Maser

There is an artist in Oregon who sculpts large pieces of wood—with a chainsaw! After the tree trunk arrives at his rural home, he begins a dialogue with the wood. His vision is such that he can see the inward sculpture bound inside the wood. Through his intuitive skill and the magic of his saws, from rough, broad strokes to complex, refined cuts and scrapes, he releases exquisite animals and people from their wooden prisons. His finished pieces have stunning detail and movement. Michelangelo, quite possibly the greatest artist and sculptor of all time, worked in the same way through one of his mediums of marble. As he chiseled away the excess stone, the figures came alive in their glory and perfection. Such was his mastery that even his paintings had a three-dimensional effect that made his figures stand out from the background. Both men loved their art into being.

An astrological birth chart is a similar medium that secrets the inner life and perfection of an individual. The chart is the symbolic picture of the heavens set in the exact moment of the newborn's first breath; call it the soul's imprint. In this sense, the chart is you, and you are the chart. Taken as the starting point that continues to unfold over the course of a lifetime, the natal chart is meant to serve as the template for the progressive labor that potentially reveals a superb work of art—namely you! The chart thus sets the tone and promise for the life—a distinctive vibration, but what is concealed within must be released through a conscious, daily embrace of our circumstances, our intent, and our self as an evolving art form. But how many of us feel or think ourselves to be a unique work of art?

A piece of art or a masterful life comes into being through the ingredients of natural talents that are developed into finely honed skills, a lot of hard work, opportunities, and timing. Our trusty helpmate is the cosmic clock, with its inexorable movement, advancing the planets month-by-month, year-by-year, whereby certain predictable patterns and trends develop according to our natal chart. These are the short and long, waxing and waning transits and progressions that comprise our life's cycle of awakening and bringing out our gifts, as well as reconciling our karmic bank account. Given that Earth School is a valuable, indispensable experience, every lifetime is the good fortune to further refine what one day will be a perfect masterpiece—thus completing our contribution to the Universal Temple.

As the planets move along at their individual speeds, these ongoing celestial influences signify the relative phases of quiescence, which are contrasted against the crucial, eventful periods of our lives, where there is a major turning point or an intense time of gain and expansion or a darker period of great frustration, delay, loss, and even death, whether physical or symbolical. These cosmic signposts indicate how we might best use our energies at a given time and signal whether we may be especially inspired and creative or low in vitality and immersed in practicalities.

To illustrate, transiting Uranus moving over the top of (a conjunction) the natal Sun is a once-in-lifetime, highly significant event, presaging a year's time or more of extraordinary possibilities and a reinvention of one's self expression. It's a time to become fluid and freer again. A doorway opens, beckoning one to explore a new direction, to make life more authentic—to stand out in bold relief, to leap out of the surrounding wood or marble! One person may experience this liberation at age 39, another at 55 or 69, because this Uranian quantum leap is set by our incoming soul and the natal timetable. Uranus does surprise us with sudden, out-of-the-blue moments of breakthrough or temporary breakdown. So if this vibrant opportunity, albeit often chaotic and uprooting, is not consciously grappled with, the energy can turn inward through possible health concerns, excess tension, or preventable accidents. Outer events and life may also collude to disrupt the status quo of our comfortable, predictable life. It's time to rock and roll!

A further example is the crucial cycle of Saturn, a planetary influence known as the great marker of time. Governing the process of maturation, Saturn has to do with the fundamental way we structure our life—the phases wherein we recede in patient preparation, emerge anew, rise like a star, attain, and then consolidate our growth. As the "cosmic chiropractor," this Lord of Karma periodically challenges us so deeply that we must make adjustments. Each of us experiences our initial 'Saturn Return' around 29 years of age, when its first cycle comes full circle, denoting a period of completion. Think back to that age and the defining crossroads in your life.

If we are steadfast in our goals and true to ourselves, the Saturn Return (or a major Saturnian episode in our life) can be a time of new responsibilities, accomplishment, and expanding horizons. If we've been dancing to another's drumbeat, then it's a chance to affirm our own distinctive rhythm. At this juncture, Saturn asks us: have you been responsible and realistic; what have you achieved; how have you matured psychologically; have you gained in wisdom? It's meant to slow us down, take stock of our life, evaluate it truthfully, accept the consequences of the choices we've made, institute corrective measures if needed, and give ourselves a candid, present-moment report card. Then, we can start the new cycle with much greater self-awareness and inner strength to strive for the next level of excellence. The Saturn doors of advancement open for those who are focused, self reliant, and prepared. As the planet that tempts and tries us to the nth degree, Saturn's essential purpose is to purify and bring out our finest qualities—to perfect us on the material plane. No wonder Saturn's number is 8, that of a flawless cube.

Some of you may know that in the current planetary picture, Saturn (stability) and Uranus (volatility) are in a confrontational, tension-producing opposition, which will have occurred five times (within orb) from November 2008 through July 2010. This titanic face-to-face symbolizes an archetypal struggle that challenges us to choose between remaining in our stagnant, unworkable ruts or to accept this cosmic jolt to move us onto a higher level. While this is an extremely uncertain, shaky time for many, it is a necessary initiation in order for us (personally and collectively) to assess our current values: do we maintain the tightly bound, outlived structures of daily life or do we, in the spirit of positive change, reach toward new vistas of inspired innovation and conscious, sustainable living. As we change, the world changes. Though these few years are a hard-pressed, worrisome passage for many, from a transformational viewpoint, it is in part a test to conquer apathy, despair, and fear with hope and optimism. After all, we have the potential to create a new personal and global vision based on how each of us can live truer and more responsibly to make a better world through our meaningful contribution. The mandate now is to participate as a one and only work of art!

This year another noteworthy event occurs:  the triple conjunction among Jupiter, Neptune, and Chiron in the late degrees of Aquarius. This rare, mystical pattern coalesces at the end of May and repeats again in mid July and mid December, opening a creative-laden window for significant healing and a higher perspective of our individual and collective purpose and potential. It's imperative to use these energies in constructive ways, because they are ethereal, slippery, disorienting, and expansive by nature. The veil will be thin. Open your self to Spirit! During these sensitive and imaginative time frames, what no longer serves our soul's growth can be gently released so that lightness and joy may fill the space. Quieting the mind and heart in silent stillness can yield much spiritual integration. Take time out. Find your center. You can receive inner guidance and make a deeper, lasting contact with your higher self, thus will your own love and artistry come forth in greater service and beauty to life. The long-term consequence of this receptive, focalizing point is the extent to which our healing and spiritual presence will affect the global commons in a way that uplifts humanity.

For many, 2009 and beyond will likely be a difficult time. That said, there are also great opportunities to make many generally desirable target corrections, but especially if these current planetary trends activate critical places in one's natal chart and if these energies are used rightly. Only within are power and healing found. Only here can you discover and deepen your true nature. Only then are you able to fully serve life according to your own capacity and passion—whether it's by loving your garden, working with animals, caretaking a sick relative, whatever it is. No matter what happens in our lives, it is always purposeful to test and strengthen our faith and ability to live more consciously in the moment. In any case, the natal chart reveals the inherent birth potential, but we are the work of art in progress!

© Zane Maser 2009.
This article was published in Drumbeat, Journal of the White Eagle Lodge (Canada), Volume 17, Issue 1, pages 9-12 (2009).


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