Astrological Musings

Cancer has returned this week for both Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow, bringing the subject to the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. I have a post cooking on the marriage of John and Elizabeth Edwards but I have been thinking about Tony Snow. Even though he’s on the other side of the political aisle from mine I have always liked him, and evidently this feeling is shared in Washington.

I profiled Tony Snow last May when he joined Bush’s White House as Presidential Spokesliar (™Stephanie Miller), weeping during his first week on the job. At the time he was going through some difficult planetary cycles:

Last year as Saturn transited Tony’s Jupiter/Uranus conjunction (which squares Neptune in his chart and probably the Moon as well) he was diagnosed with colon cancer, the same disease that killed his mother when she was 38. The cancer was surgically removed, and he was back at work by April. With Saturn still crossing over the sensitive square in his chart, he approached his Chiron return – a time when Chiron in the sky returns to the same degree as his birthchart.

The Chiron return affects everyone at approximately age 50, and serves to reveal to us any places in which we are still in emotional pain. During our lifetime we tend to cover up our wounds, we try to ignore them and hope they will go away. When Chiron in our chart is hit by transit, or when transiting Chiron hits a planet in our chart, that wound is exposed so that we have access to it for healing. Until we face that wound, expose it and release it, it will simply remain there to fester. Tony Snow has been particularly affected by the opposition of Saturn to Chiron that we have been undergoing over the past year, and transiting Saturn is putting pressure on Tony’s natal Chiron this very week. The tears that were evoked yesterday in his press conference are not uncommon as Chiron releases those old painful emotions.

read more about Tony Snow’s chart here.

Since that time transiting Saturn made a square to Saturn in Tony’s chart last August, and then over the past two months transiting Chiron has been approaching a conjunction to Tony’s Saturn, often a painful time as Chiron works to draw out our Saturnine doubts and fears. Tony Snow’s Saturn is retrograde in his chart, showing that he is particularly hard on himself and drives himself rather relentlessly.

Like all of us, I’ve been thinking more about the disease cancer and its causes and effects. Wikipedia defines cancer as “a class of diseases or disorders characterized by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these cells to spread.” No one seems to know what causes cancer, why some people are struck with it and others aren’t, and why some people are able to heal and others don’t. It is my belief that the body, mind and spirit are linked and that what affects the mind and spirit affects the body as well. With cancer, one part of the body is essentially attacked by another part that has run amok. Unlike a virus, which is a foreign entity introduced into the body, cancerous cells seem to originate within the body and then revolt against the normal cells.

When someone wages war against cancer, the idea is that the cancer cells have no right to exist, and therefore they should be eradicated. I wonder how effective this mindset is, and whether this is rather like telling our painful thoughts and memories that they have no right to exist and stuffing them into a closet in our psyche. When Israel was established after World War II, many Palestinians were displaced as a result and some Palestinians consequently argue that Israel has no right to exist. However, Israel’s presence is indisputable and wishing Israel away won’t make it happen for the Palestinians. Perhaps this is true for cancer as well; after all, the cancerous cells are our own cells. There is some evidence that guided imagery which sends love into the cancerous cells can be effective in reducing the metastatic cellular growth.

I love Stephen Levine’s work on life and dying. In a recent interview Stephen had this to say on the subject of healing:

The word surrender is so funny, because most people, particularly in the case of illness, equate surrender with defeat. But surrender is letting go of resistance. Most of what we call pain is the resistance that clenches down on the unpleasant. In fact, a really dynamic, practical sense of that is that a lot of the people we work with, if they’re going to take medicine, they’ll look at it. They won’t just swallow it automatically. They’re not trying to take healing from outside. They’re not giving up control to healing. They’re participating in it, they’re taking responsibility for it — responsibility being the ability to respond, instead of the necessity to react. They look at the pills, and as they take them in, they guide them with loving-kindness into the area, because they’ve put so much attention into the area they know the inside, the multiple molecular variation of sensation within, the moment-to-momentness of that area. They direct it into that area, and they find, for instance with pain medication, that once the resistance has been gone through, that they can decrease the medication. Because I think a lot of medications get used up by the resistance before they ever get to the place that they’re being taken to.

. . . We’re not saying, “Throw away your other practice.” We’re saying, “Whatever you’re doing to heal yourself, why don’t you try to see for your own self what it might mean if you put mercy into that area?” It’s so outside of our conditioning. We suggest that people treat their illness as though it were their only child, with that same mercy and loving-kindness. If that was in your child’s body, you’d caress it, you’d hold it, you’d do all you could to make it well. But somehow when it’s in our body we wall it off, we send hatred into it and anger into it. We treat ourselves with so little kindness, so little softness. And there are physical correlations to the difference between softening around an illness — blood flow, availability of the immune system, etcetera — and hardness. You know, if you’ve got a hard belly and your jaw is tight, and that hardness is around your eyes, it’s very difficult for anything to get through.

Life is a process, and death and disease is a part of that process. Hidden in every situation, no matter how challenging, is a gift that ultimately can enhance our experience of our life on earth. There are no mistakes, only pathways to different doors of understanding.

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