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Astrology and the dark night of the soul
By Fiona Aedgar
The dark night of the soul is a psychological and spiritual journey which causes feelings of bleakness, disconnection, depression and hopelessness. Activities and people that previously brought us joy no longer make us happy. The life that we once lived feels restrictive and uncomfortable, like a shrunken sweater.
During this process, we struggle to find happiness and fulfilment from anything that was once familiar and comforting. If we were already practicing spirituality before the dark night, we may lose faith and feel abandoned by our Gods and detached from former beliefs.
We may stop meditations, rituals or any spiritual contemplation because we just think “what’s the point.” It’s important to realise that this process is temporary and many others have gone through this journey before you. Just as they did, you will return to the light as a stronger and wiser person than you were before.
The term “The dark night of the soul” comes from St John of the Cross, a 16thcentury mystic, but the process is described in many older traditions as Gods’ or Goddesses’ journeys into the underworld. Odin hanging on the tree, Inanna’s journey through the underworld and Jesus in the desert are just some examples.
A dark night of the soul can be triggered by a traumatic event and we may experience more loss as we continue to descend into the dark, lonely tunnel. This process could be more appropriately named the dark night of the ego. Our souls are complete and free from earthly attachments. It is the ego that is shattered during this process as we question our identities and our roles in the world.
As we reach the stage of the chrysalis, encased in a hard, protective, shell, we feel the need to disengage with others. We may retreat into solitude and avoid communication as much as possible. Lacking energy and feeling exhausted are common symptoms and we may sleep more than usual as this provides us with periods of respite. We find ourselves alone in the world with no help from others. We just can’t verbalise our emotional states and we feel that nobody will understand anyway.
During this time, it’s common to be abandoned by family and friends. The reason for this is that the dark night is our journey to empowerment and we must take on this trial alone without any other human interference. We may reject any offers of support and comfort from others as attempting to articulate this experience is too taxing.
Just as our spirit animals accompany us on a shamanic journey to the lower worlds, animals can be our greatest allies throughout this ordeal as they offer unconditional love, expecting no words in return.
As we grow spiritually, our frequency changes and we no longer feel that we have anything in common with people who were a large part of our lives for years. We pine as we replay memories in our minds and wish for everything to return to the good old days, but we can never go back. The entrance to the past is closed and guarded by Griffins. Any attempt to return to the old life will be a wrong turn in the shadowy maze of the underworld. The past is now a crumbling pile of ruins.
As we descend further into the abyss, we detach ourselves from our old identities and move towards a stronger connection to our souls. The ego is a part of the human experience and we should never seek to remove it, but create a balance between our earthly egos and identities, and our souls. In Astrology, this is symbolised by the Sun and the Moon. The ego can stop us from spiritually evolving as we stay stuck in old jobs, relationships and activities that stop us from evolving.
What can we expect as we leave the nightside journey and emerge, bleeding and dishevelled from the dark belly of the underworld and into the light? Rebirth and illumination. Spiritual knowledge, wisdom and power. Purpose in life and a new vision for the future. A greater sense of fulfilment as we gain the ability to live authentically. Astrologically, the descent is symbolised by the sign of Scorpio, leading to the illumination and joy of Sagittarius. The process can take weeks, months or years.
Scholars of Astrology benefit from extra insight that the planets can provide. The sky contains the map of the underworld maze and moving in harmony with the planets can guide us through the dark night of the soul more quickly and with less suffering.
Pluto, or Hades, is the ruler of the underworld in classic mythology. Pluto destroys, deconstructs and transforms. The toughest Pluto transits polish the lump of coal into the diamond.
Pluto transits are always involved in the dark night of the soul. We can see the planet’s influence in transits to the birth chart, progressed or solar arc. We may see progressed planets moving into the sign of Scorpio and/or transits to the 8th house. In 2020 humanity has gone through a collective dark night of the soul and this has been symbolised by Pluto’s conjunction to the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Hopelessness, fear and despair are emotions which some people have been feeling. Those of us who have already experienced personal dark nights of the soul have been less shaken by the year’s events.
The karmic North lunar node in the natal chart is hugely important in the path of spiritual evolution as it holds the keys to new experiences and outlooks. Conversely, the south lunar node highlights an area which we need to move away from to achieve wholeness and growth. The South node contains outdated behavioural patterns and bad habits, leading to a lack of growth and stagnation. Holding onto this comfort zone too tightly can lead to sudden chaos and destruction as the soul pushes through the fragile shell of the ego.
Neptune and 12th house transits are commonly experienced in the dark night. The 12th house is a place of isolation. Creatures that dwell in this space are frightening and symbolise the unhealed parts of the psyche. At its highest frequency, Neptune symbolises unconditional love and forgiveness and a deep connection to the spirit world.
A mistake commonly made during the dark night is to seek comfort through fantasy and unhealthy escapism such as drugs, alcohol, porn, affairs and risky behaviours. This only prolongs and worsens the experience. Interference and attacks from entities will encourage these unhealthy activities as the beings feed off negative energies and have an invested interest in keeping the person from evolving.
At times a person experiencing their dark night may contemplate suicide and this is a mistake as the spiritual work will have to be completed in the next lifetime. Suicide also leaves a scar on the lives of future generations of the family.
The returns of Saturn, and difficult aspects from the planet to the natal, progressed and solar arc charts are common in this experience. Saturn is connected to karma and his lessons can feel bleak, isolating and joyless, but successfully navigating these periods leads to greater wisdom and knowledge.
Working with the “Chironic arts” as I’ve coined them – Astrology, natural healing, music and psychology – can provide relief and guidance during troubled times.
The breakthrough period of enlightenment that comes after the dark night is symbolised by the planets Jupiter and Uranus, and the higher frequencies of Neptune. Jupiter gives us a vision for the future, following the path of the arrow that shoots through the sky leads to a sense of purpose and direction. 9thhouse natal and progressed transits and progressed planets moving into Sagittarius can symbolise this period.
Uranus is the breakthrough planet which provides us with freedom and higher states of consciousness after a period of chaos. Look for Uranus and 11thhouse transits and progressed planets moving into Aquarius.
There are many other Astrological movements which may be involved in a dark night of the soul and checking your own personal transits regularly will help you to identify upcoming periods of strife and provide you with the comfort of knowing when these cycles will end.
Copyright © Fiona Aedgar 2020