When astrologers speak of Scorpio, we’re obliged to use certain keywords—words like intensity, passion, sexuality, and above all, transformation. It’s the law. But here’s a secret: I’ve been practicing astrology since 1991, and I have never, not once, had a client ask me to tell them about transformation. Not even a Scorpio.
Yet transformation is what brings most people to an astrologer, because that is one painful process. And pain–painful romantic yearning, painful breakups, painful loss–gets your attention.
“I’m not afraid of being dead,” some people say, “But I’m afraid of dying. I don’t want to suffer.” Whether it’s dying, grieving, or just getting over some painful setbacks, we’d prefer to expedite the process of transformation. We like the idea of being stronger, wiser, and most of all, pain free. But the part where you actually have to go through the process that makes you that way? Not so much.
Presumably it was the same when you were being born. Being unceremoniously expelled from your dark, protective cocoon was not a comfortable experience. Suddenly there was a lot of squeezing and the next thing you knew, there were bright lights and screaming. There you were, in a new place. And I’ll bet you were afraid. So I can imagine our disembodied selves on the other side looking down at the process of birth and musing, “Well, I don’t mind being alive so much, but I’m really afraid of being born.”
Humans are wary of change, and we seldom embrace it with enthusiasm. Rather, transformation is usually the consolation prize for having survived some godawful trek across a barren, lifeless landscape. We may refer to these journeys as “opportunities for personal growth.” But most tales of rising like a phoenix from the ashes begin with a rather ghastly prelude, including unpleasantness like failed marriages, bankruptcy, or life-threatening illnesses. We may accept on some abstract level that we have to be tested in order to grow stronger, but in our heart of hearts, we’d rather let that cup pass away from us, thanks very much.
Years ago, at another Scorpio New Moon, I shared the story of a neighbor who’d recently lost his wife when the two were involved in a tragic accident. I’m glad to report that he eventually made it home after a lengthy rehabilitation, in a wheelchair and with some speech problems, but sharp as a tack and with an amazing spirit. His life was “transformed” all right; and while he’s clearly happy to be alive, and no doubt has achieved all kinds of amazing insights and strength, it seems inadequate–bordering on insulting–to refer to what happened to him as a “journey of personal growth.” The only way we can honor those who’ve survived something horrendous is to call it what it is: hell. And it’s okay to be afraid of journeys that include layovers in hell. Every single time I walk by my neighbor’s house, I feel the shadowy paw of fate trace a half-circle around the back of my neck. “Want some transformation, little girl?” fate croons.
No. No, I don’t. The truth is that like most people–like you, maybe–I’m afraid of death and loss and illness and suffering. I don’t want to lose my loved ones. I don’t want to be disabled or killed in an accident, assaulted or robbed, or any of the other dreadful things that happen to people every day. Frankly, I’d rather be weak forever than to face those things.
We don’t get much of a choice, though, do we? Not even nature itself is immune from death. In autumn, the world around us is a pastiche of leaves falling from trees, and the last sad remnants of summer produce withering in the garden. Like Persephone abducted and dragged, kicking and screaming, into the underworld, nature’s lush beauty moves underground for the winter. There will be new planting in early spring, and the rain will bring new life to our gardens. But meanwhile, nature calls a time out to replenish its resources. Worms make compost of summer’s leftovers. The soil rests.
Your life has seasons, too. Everyone welcomes life’s springs and summers, the weddings, births, and graduations. And all of us dread the autumns and winters—the seasons of pain and loss. They come to each of us, and there’s no way to adequately prepare for them. But each year, during the season of the Sun’s passage through Scorpio, we’re called to the ritual altar of transformation. We enact mock trials of horror, donning scary Halloween costumes and enduring the most gristly horror movies we can find. We think about death and remember the dead. We rehearse terror and fear.
These are the seasons, too, that remind us of life’s precious and temporal qualities. When we pass our neighbor’s house on our evening walk, my husband and I squeeze each other’s hands in gratitude for each other. When we’re ready to throttle family members, we remember how much it hurt to lose the ones that are no longer with us, and the urge passes. Just as Scorpio’s trials give way to the Sagittarius season of thanksgiving, our grief, sorrow, and loss till and enrich the soil of our hearts… and eventually, when the seasons change, let us transform autumn’s decay into spring’s bounty.
© 2010, 2017 April Elliott Kent