When Michael Meade was twenty years old, he was thrown into solitary confinement in a military prison for refusing to go to Vietnam. “I wasn’t a very good prisoner,” he explained in a recent talk on Hope and Imagination in Hard Times. “I wouldn’t follow the rules.” So he ended up stuck in almost complete darkness in a very small cell with little food and no human contact, for months on end.
“I went through layers of despair,” said Meade of the hellish experience. Yet ultimately, he had no choice but to accept it. And that’s when the visions began, as characters from mythology and stories he’d loved started visiting him. He wasn’t sure if he was losing his mind or finding it. “But,” said the mythologist and author of Fate and Destiny, “that ritual of imprisonment made me who I am.”
Hope is a valuable thing; it can give us something to live for. But Meade had tapped into a different kind of hope that granted him true freedom. He had discovered something more akin to active imagination, or what he calls “the vision in the core of your own being.” It’s the dynamic, life-giving force within us all.
This is the hope we need, Meade insists, in the collective rite of passage we’re experiencing – especially since Covid thrust us into our own version of solitary confinement. “It’s hard to find hope and meaning in the outside world right now,” he admits. “We can only find it within.” A steadfast Capricorn, Meade also has an exact conjunction of pioneering Mars and innovative Uranus in Gemini. This makes him an unconventional, brilliant thinker, and a great proponent of active (as opposed to passive) hope.
Active hope is available to us at the Gemini New Moon (May 30, 4:30 a.m. PDT), which happens at 9 degrees of the sign. Gemini is all about duality – light and dark, hope and despair. People (like me) with a strong Gemini signature are mercurial, since Mercury rules air sign Gemini. We can turn on a dime and inspire others with our clever ideas, but we do have our dark moods and flighty ways, and often get stuck in our heads. Even if you have no planets in Gemini, the Twins still abide somewhere in your chart. It’s the area of life in which you can activate your brainpower to get ahead instead of just spinning your wheels.
Of course we’ve all been spinning our wheels to some extent during the current Mercury retrograde, which ends June 3. And with trickster Mercury in stationary mode through the first week of June, there can still be twists and turns ahead. Still, Mars and Jupiter are now in active Aries (set to join on May 29), and they make a supportive sextile to the bright, chatty New Moon that arrives the next day. It could feel like a fresh start – especially after the gut-wrenching (for many of us) Scorpio lunar eclipse not long ago.
Let’s not forget, however, that New Moons are a dark time. Since so little is visible, we have to go on instinct. Although some things may be getting off the ground, they may be slow in coming to flower. Nevertheless, we still need to plant those seeds of desire and hope, and use our active imagination to visualize the outcome we want for ourselves or the world. This may be a good time for a second chance at something that eluded you over the last month or so. The Mars-Jupiter conjunction in Aries is lighting a fire underneath us – even if all it sparks is a spirited walk in the park or a dance around the house.
All that fire can be dangerous, of course, especially when it fans flames of rage that spark tragic incidents like the May 24 school shooting in Texas (which occurred as Mars was on the precipice of Aries). But take heart. Michael Meade reminds us that the chaotic darkness we’re witnessing contains the seed of a new beginning, which can initiate us into the deeper powers of our souls. On June 11, Meade is offering an online workshop called Myth and Emergent Truth, in which he’ll be exploring these ideas in greater depth. Hopefully I’ll see you there!