In a recent post, I proposed that the rebirth of Saturn through Pluto, which coincided with a global pandemic, would initiate significant social change as a precursor to revolutionary changes expected in the next decade when Pluto enters Aquarius in 2023. At the heart of these changes is a call to grow up as a society.
The ensuing chaos emergent in the world isn't all bad. It just depends on your perspective. To fully appreciate the current global madness, is to understand the desperate nature of our existing global predicament. For example, if we change nothing and continue on our current trajectory, independent estimates for the health and fertility of our soils, predict that we only have about 80 years worth of top soil left before the world would be plunged into a serious famine. Chemical farming has almost destroyed all agricultural soil, and this has a significant effect on carbon levels. Living soil breathes and is thought capable of sequestering 2400 giga tonnes of carbon, and the sea produces about 90 giga tonnes of carbon and absorbs 90 giga tonnes of carbon (so is balanced); the sea has the additional capacity to sequester another 2 giga tonnes of carbon if necessary, before it becomes too acidic and dies. The destruction of the soil, means it no longer functions as it should, which has contributed to increased carbon levels in the atmosphere. The map below shows just how little living stable soil is left in the world, most of it close to the northern arctic circle.
In addition, there is an ongoing and somewhat white-washed global health crisis, which is worth consideration. The following statistics were provided by Zach Bush MD relative to the US, from which we can get the gist of the issue, bearing in mind that the US is in the epicentre of this 1st world crisis.
Autism has currently risen to 1 in 36, and is predicted to reach 1 in 3 by 2035. Attention deficit currently affects 1 in 8, asthma 1 in 10, allergies 1 in 4, diabetes 1 in 4, obesity 1 in 3, major depression 1 in 2, cancer 1 in 2 and dementia is fated for almost 100% of citizens i.e. some degree of premature cognitive decline. As a comparison in 1965 only 4% of the US population were afflicted with chronic disease, in 2015 46% of US children suffered with chronic disease. By 2035 it is expected that 70% of adults will get cancer (not including skin cancer). These numbers are similar for China, whose population has gone from almost no diabetes to 1 in 3 within just a 7 year period, and Australia, Canada, and Europe are not far behind. In the US, infertility in women is now at 1 in 4, and 1 in 3 for men. If and when this number drops to 1 in 2, we would expect to see a marked drop in population numbers.
The huge rise in chronic illness has been dramatic since the mid 90s when Monsanto introduced GMOs as well as glyphosate weed killer most commonly known as Round Up.
Glyphosate was invented by a Japanese researcher, but he shelved the idea because it was water soluble and posed a high risk to life. Later the patent was purchased by Monsanto, who invented Agent Orange used in the Vietnam war to defoliate the jungle, but it was too toxic and known to cause cancer, so they were looking for something less toxic like glyphosate (a related chemical to Agent Orange), and the rest is history. Glyphosate is a water soluble antibiotic (it is patented as an antibiotic), which interferes with the plants ability to convert and utilise amino acids. It also essentially undermines and eventually destroys the soil-food-web i.e. the milieu of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes, amoebas and earthworms that make up our living soils. It is now thought that the majority of health issues are primarily caused by glyphosate residues in food and drinking water, along with over-use of prescribed antibiotics, eroding the micro-biome in the gut. As we look more closely at the symbiotic relationship the body has with the complex community of microorganisms in the gut, such as bacteria and fungi, we are now realising that gut health affects countless body processes including cognitive function and mood, and it is now posited that fungi enable intracellular communication within the body, much like they do in the soil.
For example certain birch trees almost always grow on soils that lack specific nutrients they need to grow, but also grow alongside certain fir trees that 'share and exchange nutrients' via nutrient highways in the soil-food-web provided by fungi. It is now thought that something similar happens in the human body. Compromise to the health of the gut micro-biome essentially interrupts the body's capacity to communicate with itself and thus impairs the body's ability to maintain health. Cancer cells for example can be seen as cells that have become isolated from the body milieu, and in that "uninformed isolation", kick into survival overdrive, drawing energy from the rest of the body eventuating in death. What is striking is that once intra-cellular communication is re-established and isolated cancer cells become informed by the 'whole', they either repair themselves or self-terminate. What is fascinating is how cancer-cells mirror within society. When individuals become too isolated, they also kick into a mindless survival overdrive and essentially do whatever it takes to survive and make money, even if it destroys the whole planet; disconnection from the living Gaia matrix is the root cause of humanity's destructive tendencies, and this disconnect is so common to almost all of us that we no longer know what it means to be connected.
On another level, Zach Bush reports how cancer cells under the microscope resemble modern day cities, because they grow input channels to feed off the body, much as roads and highways make possible the importation of resources to sustain cities.
I think societal maturation means facing the desperate truth of the world situation and the crisis within humanity head on, without rose tinted glasses; only in this way as individuals, will we be able to respond creatively. There is little doubt in my mind that all of us must come to terms with the reality that we have to change almost everything about the way we currently live, and change the goal-posts of life-meaning, and change what we live for; we cannot look to elected and non-elected leaders to do this for us; change must start from the bottom up; it must start with the individual getting reconnected to the living matrix of life.
A key part of the problem is that society and culture itself no longer generates psychologically mature adults.
Both poet Robert Bly and depth psychologist Bill Plotkin have written extensively about cultural immaturity, observing that without suitable initiation rites at key stages of life, the majority of people stall in a psychological adolescence throughout their lives, and do not progress to true adulthood as we might assume.
In the Tarot system this move toward maturity is represented by the progression from key 7 The Chariot (associated with Cancer) to key 8 Strength (associated with Leo) - in adolescence, ego development reaches culmination through active social engagement through which we develop an array of social masks and roles. Bill Plotkin describes adolescence as ‘the building of a house, that once built we should leave and never return to’. In this metaphor he refers to the building of a false identity (persona) as a necessary step, but one which we should not conflate with who we really are; the road to maturity is also one of self-discovery beyond social roles and persona. In Tarot, the Chariot represents the building of our social vehicle, but Cancer is ruled by the Moon and as such the archetype is largely egocentric. The transition to the archetype represented by Strength (Leo/Self) represents the emergence of the sense that there must be something more to life than what we do, how we look, and the social roles we perform; a deeper question arises ‘who am I really, beyond these things?’. The Strength card describes the taming of desire impulses through a growing connection with the higher-self, as a platform from which to make an active and willing ‘descent’ to the realm of soul, mythically represented as a descent to the underworld.
In Robert Bly’s book Iron John, he maps stages of male initiation using an Eastern-European fairy tale as a map, where the beginning of descent is referred to as ‘the cinders’, a reference to the lowly castle-job of cleaning the ashes from all the fireplaces, from which we get the fairy-tale character Cinderella. The beginning of descent marks a time of breaking away from adopted social roles and expectations, where we must embrace humility and are commonly judged as being a loser; to those heavily invested in ego/persona consciousness it does indeed look like a person has lost all common-sense and is failing in some way - and of course they are failing to conform in a significantly life changing way.
For some, a descent can begin by dropping out of college, or taking a year out to think more deeply about life. For others the descent can involve drug addiction, or significant depression. If descent happens later in life, it can be catalysed by illness or a nervous breakdown. In modern culture devoid of elders and initiation rites, it is currently a challenging task to successfully descend, one that often stalls or takes many years to undergo.
The emergence of Jordan Peterson as a social media voice and in particular his recent book “12 Rules for Life” represents an attempt to re-boot eldership, and the book offers key values and insights that have much in common with the descent process that leads to maturation, and has attracted many followers.
One rule he terms “Clean up your room”, came about from observing the well intended drive behind social activism, and he pointed out how strange it was that many politically-engaged young people are preoccupied with reorganising society and the economic system when they can’t even organise their own bedrooms. He said:
“…don’t be fixing up the economy, 18-year-olds. You don’t know anything about the economy. It’s a massive complex machine beyond anyone’s understanding and you mess with it at your peril. So can you even clean up your own room? No. Well you think about that. You should think about that, because if you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world?”
Peterson offers a practical insight for our current times:
“My sense is that if you want to change the world, you start from yourself and work outward, because you build your competence that way.”
Confucius puts in another way:
“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”
To clean up your room is of course also a metaphor, an invitation of sorts, because when we start with ourselves and admit that we are lost, and don’t really know who we are or what we are meant to be in life, we have to accept that the real work and effort must be done on ourselves before we attempt to influence the world. So often we come to this threshold and get stuck with what to do - the task seems huge and overwhelming. On this Peterson says:
“The things you leave undone. Because you’re angry, you’re resentful, or you’re lazy. You have inertia. Well, you consult your conscience and it says, ‘Well, you know, that place over there could use a little work.’ It’s the same as working on yourself. And so you clean that up, because you can. And then things are a little clearer around you. And you’re a little better off, because you’ve practiced a bit. And so you’re a little stronger. And then something else manifests itself and says, ‘Well maybe you can take a crack at fixing me too.’ So you decide to do that and that gets a little more pristine. …and then maybe you’ll learn enough by doing that so that you can fix up your family a little bit, and then having done that, you’ll have enough character so that when you try to operate in the world, at your job, or maybe in the broader social spheres, that you’ll be a force for good instead of harm…”
'Adulting', isn't an easy process for anyone, and there are a few pointers that can make a big difference in overcoming inertia toward growth and change. As Peterson suggests, it is best to start off with small changes: identify something you want to change in your life, which is easily attainable and then do it. Success builds positive momentum, so succeeding in the small things, leads to an emotional incentive to tackle the larger issues. By starting small, we also develop competence in the process of maturation and confidence in our capacities. Failure, especially at the outset will often result in aborting the whole idea of self-improvement, at least until we are willing to try again. If failure occurs, effort must usually be made to frame it positively; failure can be seen as useful information from which to succeed next time, knowing that failure is normal and it happens to everyone.
This is similar to the notion of "finding the love in the little things". It is common for people to aspire toward life improvement, and then set lofty goals that are hard to achieve. If we want to improve our diet, we decide to go for a super-health diet that requires a lot of discipline, and we keep it up for a week or so before reverting back to the old way. It's oddly unattractive for many, to set smaller more attainable goals, such as cutting down on sweets, or coffee, or junk food, and making that reduction the new normal before setting out to change something else. The same goes for exercise: so many times I see unfit over-weight middle aged people jogging on the street, looking like they are not enjoying themselves at all. They might even have splashed out on the latest jogging gear, but to no avail. To my mind they have already set the target too high - much better to set up a regular walking schedule that has obvious health benefits, and count it as a success when walking regularly becomes the new normal. Often people forget to assess their health level before jumping into exercise. Vigorous exercise is stressful on the body, and unless there is enough stress resilience, can be detrimental to health. Younger people have more vitality and are more stress resilient, and in general are better able to initiate a jogging routine, but older people need to evaluate carefully and take smaller steps. To find the love in the little things can be a revolutionary mental shift. It may seem a small thing to make effort to keep ones living space tidy, but the knock on effect of reduced chaos can be life changing. Slowing down and taking time to enjoy flowers, food, real conversation, or even brushing one's teeth can be surprisingly revelatory.