I, like many, was surprised to hear about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death last week. As an actor and human he seemed to be in a genre completely of his own, and because he had touched me in that place few actors do, I was saddened. I didn’t know he had a history with addiction, and that he relapsed last year; now we all know. In the media, compassionate articles like Russell Brand’s “my life without drugs” re-circulated (he wrote this after Amy Winehouse died of an overdose last year), and there have been more discussions since. A NYTimes article talked about the impact his death has had on fellow members of the AA community who shared their collective fear: If it can happen to a man 23 years sober, can it happen to me?
Scorpio rules the realm of things that we can’t see, things that go bump in the night: our fears, addictions, death. With Saturn transiting Scorpio, we are afraid of death and change, losing control, of losing. Some things, like addiction, can make us more intimate with being brought to our knees, of potentially losing the battle. As Brand said, “I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary.” We all have shadows that hungrily stalk us in the nighttime alleyways of our fears. I have a friend whose ongoing health problems have gone on for so long, been so confusing, disheartening and egregious, that openly shares that she has lost faith in life, God. Suicidal thoughts haunt her, thoughts of losing her haunt me.
This Leo Full Moon is square Saturn in Scorpio, and sextile Mars in Libra. A sparkly Leo Full Moon always favors self-expression, celebration and declarations of affection, just in time for V-Day, but just as Valentine’s Day rarely lives up to the hype, this Moon receives a sobering square from Saturn. This doesn’t have to be depressing. Mars and Saturn demand, courage, action. Acknowledging what’s weighing heavy on our hearts, what’s ripe for doing, is freeing. People we love may require proof (Saturn) of our commitment. The achievements (Saturn) we’re celebrating need our acknowledgement for the long and difficult journey getting here. For some, with Saturn fact-checking how we spend our time and energy, we may need to swallow our pride, admit defeat to our resistance or a fruitless activity- difficult for the Fixed signs.
No one likes losing, to death, to anything, yet the sexiest and most loved people in the world lose, too. If you think money or love can inoculate you against the pain of losing control, think again. Love makes everyone a loser. You wait all your life for love, fearing it won’t happen for you…your Beloved finds you, then you fear their death. I’ll never forget the time I accompanied John to have his wisdom teeth pulled, an apparently simple operation but one that made my knees shake, my stomach quell and led to me lying down on a gurney while John lay happily unconscious (note: if I care about you, I’m not a reliable companion in surgery).
No one knows more about the pain of losing than my neighbors, the Brooks. Years ago, their 17 year-old daughter Casey took her life. Now, at the posthumous request of Casey (through a medium), they’ve finally published this book that tells of the agonizing journey every parent experiences after a suicide. The search for the answer to “why?” revealed Casey, adopted from Poland, had a condition called attachment disorder, a potential cause for her suicide. Today they hope the book will give others the information they didn’t have in time to save Casey. For these folks, this teary Full Moon accomplishment is indeed bitter and sweet.
Why confront the difficult at this typically cheerful Leo Full Moon? With Saturn squaring this Moon, what we most need to do is feel into the hard stuff, let it open our heart. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death has helped us all better understand addiction, and will in all likelihood shock some people into sobriety, saving lives; Casey’s story will land in the right hands at the right time, too. Maybe we’re not fully alive until we’ve faced our death. Maybe we can’t feel the full aliveness of loving another until we’ve faced their impending loss. This is the best of Saturn in Scorpio: the honest conversations we need to be having are happening. Even if some days turning on your Facebook stream, or talking with your neighbor, feels like open-heart surgery, fallen stars shine no less bright once out of our line of vision. In loss, some shine even brighter.
© 2014 by Jessica Shepherd
Image: “Fallen Stars in the Blue” by kaikaku, from Deviantart.com