Tracy Marks concludes her wonderful The Astrology of Self-Discovery by exploring the unanswerable questions we all face as human beings. Do I create my own life? Or are events out of my control? Why do we suffer? Are there miracles in this life? While she acknowledges that we can only explore these wonderings, true answers are elusive and speculative. Astrology teaches us that we can learn to recognize and work with the planetary energies, transforming them into a path of positive growth. Yet, even as enlightened as we may be, even as we mediate from the center of our being and believe we are in alignment with the Universe, events in life can throw us into chaos and doubt. Why, she asked, for example, did her aunt, who was a gifted and renown concert pianist, lose six of her fingers in a car accident?
Marks believes that the transits of the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, can bring us into a new reality, a “new normal,” we had never imagined. Sometimes the events around these transits seem tragic or difficult; other times they bring miraculous release or discovery. And, she posits, the stresses and dissolutions and losses may often be a small part of a larger picture in our own life, or in the lives of others. They can be working towards a greater good.
I put up the chart of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the inner wheel being his natal chart and the outer wheel being the chart of the day he contracted what was thought to be polio, a disease which would leave him paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. He was just 39 years old at the time. You can see that catastrophe is clear, with both lights being dramatically impacted by the outer planets. Transiting Neptune from the 12th house of suffering opposes FDR’s 6th house Sun in Aquarius, bringing a dissolution of the life force. Transiting Pluto in the 11th house is conjoins with FDR’s Cancer Moon, bringing powerlessness to his body. Born with crisis-oriented Uranus conjunct his Ascendant, the body, in health-concerned Virgo, FDR had the rare transiting Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on this Uranus-Ascendant point. Jupiter and Saturn together initiate a new 20-year phase for us regarding our role in the world, and the indication here is that FDR was beginning many long years of service as someone who understood the humility of powerlessness and disability. Transiting Uranus, too, plays a role, being at the bending of his lunar nodes, showing a dramatic turn in the life direction.
Historians have argued that without experiencing such a devastating loss, FDR would never have been the president who became a beacon of light as he encouraged Americans during the dark days of the depression and pushed through legislation establishing the social safety net we today acknowledge as our right. Traveling back and forth to Warm Springs, Georgia, by train for treatment, FDR would see first hand the poverty and racism eclipsing the lives of millions of Americans. He got to know the people in Warm Springs and appreciate how hard they worked for so little, and how precariously they lived. His own experience had taught him that the life we know today could be gone in an instant. His desire to make lives better for common, working citizens came from the devastation of his illness, from that fateful day in 1921.
This goes to Tracy Marks’ point that we cannot always understand why bad things happen to us or to those we love, but we can be hopeful that some growth and improvement in our lives or the lives of others can emerge eventually. With a Uranus transit, we can open our mind to radical new ways of thinking, or of perceiving something we had always thought to be true. Neptune can crack open a vulnerability and compassion we have never known before. Pluto can carry us into rage and the shadow sides of our being before pointing us toward the path of acceptance and healing.
I must close by thanking Tracy Marks for sharing with us her depth of understanding and her years of experience as an astrologer. After reading her book, we can perceive our charts with new eyes, not as a static image of who we are, but as a living, breathing force, beckoning us towards that next, great chapter in our lives.