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Using the Cyclical History as a Point of Entry
Into Astrological Recapitulation

June 2014

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The Birthchart as a Portal to Second Attention

A knowledge of astrology can help facilitate recapitulation: first because it is an extraordinary tool for exploring the evolution of patterns over time; and secondly, because its symbolism reveals the archetypal nature of the slow transformation underlying the events of ordinary life and makes them more accessible to Second Attention. Astrology approaches the recapitulation process through the technique of the cyclical history. Since the strongest patterns in our natal charts refer to the core patterns likely to command the greatest portion of our First Attention, the triggering of these natal patterns – particularly by the transit of any outer planets involved in the natal pattern – will provide the most potent openings to Second Attention.

As we track our memories related to these cycles, we are likely to stumble into the life experiences we outwardly recognize as turning points, moments of catharsis, breakdowns in the pattern, and occasionally breakthroughs to another level of being and possibility. Harbored within these experiences are also strong sensory and emotional memories, and to evoke these is to stand on the threshold of Second Attention. With distance and in retrospect, we are in a position to perceive what was actually transformed in these moments, and – most importantly – to identify less with the events themselves, and more with the transformation. To the extent that we can do this, the wisdom to be found in our experience can be harvested, and we begin to dwell more permanently in the place where Second Attention brings meaning to a mundane life of suffering. We develop a dispassionate distance from the events of our lives, and are able to function more freely within that dispassion.

An Example from My Own Life

The best time for returning to a particular cyclical history will generally be during a period in which the cycles associated with that history are being activated by current transit. Currently, for example, I am experiencing the waxing sextile of my third Saturn cycle, activating a mutable t-square with a Saturn/Mars conjunction at its apex (see chart above).

Since this pattern involves five major planets in my chart plus Chiron, it is fairly complicated. A complete recapitulation would involve tracking many threads – particularly Saturn and Chiron transits to Sun, Moon, Mercury and Mars, but also possibly progressed cycles of Sun, Moon, Mercury and Mars to each of the natal points in this pattern. Since Saturn at 19° 52’ is more specifically triggering the Saturn/Mars Mercury square within a tight orb of 1° at this juncture, this is the portion of this pattern that is ripe for recapitulation.

I would also note in passing that transiting Saturn – currently retrograde – is poised to enter my 12th house. Since from a clockwise perspective (the way in which planets actually move through the houses on a daily basis), the 12th house is where planets rise into visibility, it – along with the 6th house where planets set – represent what Carlos Castaneda referred to as the crack between the worlds. Another way to understand the 6th – 12th house axis from this perspective is as a liminal space where the normal waking state reality of First Attention becomes ripe for transmutation from the perspective of Second Attention. This time of my life, in other words, is one that is quite conducive to astrological recapitulation – and perhaps to writing about it as well.

I have written about this particular pattern before – in a number of places throughout my books, in articles, and in lessons from my correspondence course – and I have no intention of duplicating all that here. I do want to illustrate a couple of points, which will hopefully render the value of astrological recapitulation more accessible to the reader.

With my natal Saturn/Mars-Mercury square, one of the most persistent patterns in my life – and a perpetual source of suffering – has been feeling isolated in the wake of angry communication. Typically, I have felt compelled to speak out in situations where the values that I hold dear are not honored by others with whom I must interact. I have, over the course of a lifetime, slowly learned tolerance of others with whom I disagree, provided there is mutual respect and willingness to listen, and possibly learn. On many an occasion I have put my foot in my mouth, alienated others, and contributed to some breakdown in the possibility of genuine communication. I have frequently been ostracized, attacked, and vilified in return. All of this has produced a long story of suffering. I have struggled over the course of a lifetime to be worthy of this suffering by learning how to communicate more effectively, especially when I disagree with those with whom I am communicating.

The details of the story are not important, although I have pored through them periodically over the course of a lifetime, trying to make sense of them. What is important is the strong emotion evoked by this pattern – which creates a portal to Second Attention. Over the years, I have been drawn to this portal many times in many moments of crisis. With Second Attention, applied over time, it has become possible to see how this pattern has been a primary catalyst in my life for learning how to be worthy of my suffering. As I enter the third round of Saturn transits to the natal pattern, I also begin to see how the gradual diminishing of strong emotion in relation to the pattern suggests that something fundamental in me is shifting.

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