I’ve been ignoring current events to the best of my ability for some time now, but the occasional atrocity slips past the goalie. I heard about what happened in Orlando and Oaklanda, nd the brutal murder of Jo Cox, a member of Parliament; I’m aware that Britain is deciding whether to leave the EU, and I’ve gotten the memo that the US Presidential race is just about as awful as one could imagine.
It’s all too big and too terrible, and when we try to swallow each day’s events in one tremendous social media gulp—the killings, the politics, the hatred, the news of friends variously losing parents and pets and jobs and health—we naturally choke on it.
The June 20 Full Moon is in Sagittarius, and while Saturn has been traveling through the Archer’s territory it’s been a challenge for me to locate Sagittarius’ wisdom, native optimism, and zest for adventure. It’s even hard to welcome joyous summer when you suspect that every beach has cut glass and scorpions lurking inside the sandcastles or snipers with military assault weapons hiding in the lifeguard tower.
But I suppose the summers that I enjoyed as an innocent child were just as awful for my parents. Body counts from Vietnam were plastered all over the evening news, and kids they knew were coming home in body bags or with haunted eyes. There were riots and assassinations, and people from one generation had practically stopped speaking to those of another generation. It must have seemed that Armageddon was nigh. Must have seemed much like it does now.
These times feel too large for my brand of astrology, which has always been most effective when it’s miniaturized to fit my own little life, struggles, and victories. I always have felt that if I presented my miniature astrology carefully enough, thoughtfully enough, it would become a kind of infinitely expandable vector image that could fit just about everyone’s experience. But how can I still feel that way on the days when the world just feels too big and unhinged for me to bring it down to size and into order?
Enter Sagittarius, the wise pilgrim who travels happily through life, learning from everyone and leaving sagacity in his or her wake. If we only seek them, wise pilgrims can always be found. I remember, shaken and despairing after 9/11, finding the wise pilgrim in the inspiring books of Pema Chodron. In the middle of writing this essay, feeling a little hopeless, I spotted a letter written by the Dalai Lama, detailing the many reasons he remains hopeful for the future—including the growing recognition of human rights, support for gender equality, rejection of war, and a reduction in the world’s nuclear weapons.
Nearer to home, the Full Moon at 29 degrees Sagittarius reminded me of a dear friend who was born with that degree on her Ascendant. She’s weathered countless personal storms and known terrible loss and heartbreak, but her outlook is genuinely positive, warm, and generous. When I asked her how she manages it, she said that it’s a conscious decision, one to which she recommits herself each and every day. A wise pilgrim indeed, she gives herself fully to life’s adventures, refusing to hold herself back out of fear or give into cynicism or despair.
Thoreau taking an inner journey into Walden, Odysseus traveling home from Troy, astronauts returning from space, my brave friend refusing to let sadness define her life—these are the wise pilgrims who inspire me at this Sagittarius Full Moon. It’s a Moon for looking at the big things that hurt and terrify us, at the things that are perhaps a bit too large for our hearts and minds to accommodate. For figuring out how to stretch ourselves to make space for it all, with a little room left over for compassion, wisdom, and hope.