Funny how dried balls of manure can look just like so many hundreds of rocks. These tricky and deceptive rock push themselves up out of the ground in Oakland’s pasture on a daily basis. There are hundreds if not thousands of these ancient things laying around and I was determined to remove them.
Picking rock out of Oakland’s field is necessary and is a preventative measure for his soundness. Thoroughbreds, as a result of controlled breeding (or inbreeding as the case may be) have thin hoof soles that bruise easily. Removing the rock removes the chances of Oakland forming an abscess, a painful condition in which pus and blood rupture from the sole of the hoof or worse, his breaking a leg.
After several weeks of raking, sorting and moving rocks with a wheelbarrow, I realized I was actually treating a painful condition of my own and sorting through the rock and manure was helping me make sense of what felt senseless and impossible. I was “raking” through the first year after my divorce and the act of clearing hard stones and animal waste was not lost on me. I’d been married 20 years and I was struggling with it as if I’d lost a limb.
Whether it’s moving hundreds of stone or finding a needle in a haystack, the challenge is the same. That challenge is facing ourselves and the accompanying range of emotions at the beginning of a new job, big move or life change. It may feel overwhelming and appears impossible but the impossibility is as deceptive as mistaking rocks for manure. Once a major task is started, we can sort ourselves out and this seems to be the point, so to speak.
The Country Phoenix
After a while, I looked forward to clearing rock and manure from Oakland’s field. I enjoyed the hard sweat, the exposure to wind and sun and hearing the range of bird song and and in particular, the neighbor’s roosters. The rooster is a country cousin to the mythological phoenix and hearing the rooster’s crow reminded me of a saying which is this, the first act of creation is destruction and to rise whole and complete means all must be first, completely destroyed.
Saturn in Jyotisha, is the ruler of structure and structures breaking down, time and truth, delay and limitation, service and labor. He rules ground and earth, dirt and farmers, rocks, stone and agriculture. Saturn shares ruler-ship of the horse and animals who work and he rules crows as well as birds who scavenge and eat carrion. Saturn is also the planet of loss and grief.
The grief of Saturn is that which comes through experiencing loss and realizing limits. As we age, we realize the limits of our physical body and limits of friends and family. We lose a closeness with family and love in intimate relationship as well as experience limits set by nature through the relentless rhythm of the seasons and the rising and the setting of the sun. Fortunately, once we have found our limits and the bottom of our grief and have nothing left to lose, we can let go and find our truth and freedom.
As we age, we learn these things and this is why Saturn rules the old and the elderly. Once Saturn enters our lives and we have gained this powerful experience of limits and our truth in nature, we also have an opportunity to gain the greatest of boons from Saturn and this is wisdom and authority.
What Saturn wants
Grounding is the most powerful of Saturnine labors. What ever the work is that grounds us, we must find that and exercise it by ourselves, alone. Clearing rock and manure is grounding and feels like picking at Saturn’s bones and for me, picking at Saturn’s bones is very satisfying indeed.
Saturn is pleased maybe even happy, when we dig through earth and refuse and scavenge at his bones. Saturn wants us to dig and sort; to work like a horse and pick like a crow. To excavate and turn stone, to move dead things so that they are all the more broken down and digested in the end.
We have all faced loss in life, challenges that felt impossible and overwhelming. If not, you will and if you already have, you will again. When it comes for the first time or once again, find a way to sort and scratch through your grief, rock and waste.
Find ground within yourself and in this way, you’ll find ground with Saturn. On this cultivated and hollowed ground, Saturn pays his respect and surrenders his wise bones, just like rock pushing up at of Oakland’s pasture.