Taurus is the sign of physical pleasures and indulgence. Unfortunately, I was born with Saturn in the second house of my chart, which is Taurus’ natural domain. My psyche “reads” Taurus as representing the unobtainable – or at least, things obtainable only through herculean effort. And so as usual at the New Moon in Taurus, I find myself feeling dissatisfied with my physical world. All my possessions seem shabby. My house and garden are a mess. I can’t keep up with the laundry. And my weight. Oh lord, my weight.
I’ve always struggled with my weight. Always. Partly, it’s genetics; I come from a family of large people. But in greater part it’s the cumulative bad habits of a lifetime, the legacy of a family that has always turned to food to cope with problems, as other families might turn to excessive alcohol, drugs, religion, or shopping.
Worse, I’m simply not naturally inclined toward anything athletic. Some astrologer friends and I used to joke that we were “dead from the neck down,” and it’s true I’ve tended to live in my head, that my axiom has always been “Never stand if you can sit, never sit if you can recline with a book.” I was indulged in my love of books and writing from an early age and was never browbeaten into the kinds of physical activities that, while they did not come naturally to me, might have conditioned me to pursue a more well-balanced lifestyle.
And so any healthful habits I’ve developed over the past 50 years have been a triumph over my own indifference to the physical world and a family legacy of using food and books as the coping mechanisms of choice. But victories of this sort all too often have a feeling of panicked impermanence about them, with backsliding and failure always seeming to loom nearby.
Which brings me here, to this New Moon in Taurus heart of spring, once again enacting rites of resurrection I’ve performed in years past. About a year ago, I turned a familiar corner. Some indefinable something clicked – it’s a mysterious switch that unexpectedly and blessedly flips on, and overnight it’s suddenly possible to throw away the Cheetos and commit to better habits. I started spending more time outdoors, weeding and pruning and taking walks, and the sunshine and fresh air are doing me a world of good. It’s as though I’ve reincarnated, inhabiting a body again after a long absence, and it’s a good feeling.
In my favorite film, Wings of Desire, an angel named Damiel longs to experience life as a human: “To be excited not only by the mind, but at last, by a meal – the curve of a neck, by an ear. To feel your skeleton moving along as you walk… Or to feel at last what it’s like to take your shoes off under the table and to stretch your toes barefoot.” Perhaps the one thing that differentiates us from the angels is our physicality, and that must mean our bodies have something to teach us. Patience, for one thing. Balance, for another. “Instead of forever hovering above, I’d like to feel there’s some weight to me, to end my eternity and bind me to earth,” says Damiel.
I think sometimes that I’ve never really been committed to being here, in this body, that I find physicality a bit of an imposition a lot of the time and that carrying extra ballast is a way of binding me – reluctantly – to earth.
But lately I’m remembering that great joy can be found in the simplest of physical activities. Without my poor old body, I couldn’t spend long, quiet afternoons in the back yard, spade in hand, digging weeds from the damp, dark loam. Couldn’t feel the sap of spring rising in me, the urge to dance and to laugh so hard at my friends’ dinner conversation that I can hardly breathe.
The disembodied Damiel longingly muses, “At each step, each gust of wind, I’d like to be able to say, ‘Now!’” Now is all we have, and people like me, who live too much in the illusory past or future, neglect the wisdom of inhabiting the present. The body is our link to the present moment; ask anyone with a toothache.
So at this New Moon in the physically-oriented sign of Taurus, I pause each day to dutifully perform my determined little exercises - in hopes, yes, of building my health. But more importantly, it’s to remind myself to take part in the physical world, the present moment, and to inhabit my whole life – including my physical body, down to the feet that keep me rooted here. To remember to appreciate the opportunity to inhabit the physical world and learn from it, and to open myself to other, more spontaneous physical and emotional activities. Even if only to breathe in the fragrant spring air and smile into the sun. Even if only to say, “Now!”