“Jessica Murray has always been one of my favorite astrologers. Her insights are prodigious and trenchant, her intelligence is unabashed, and yet she manages to remain warmhearted and fully human no matter how volcanic the territories she explores”
~Steven Forrest, author of The Inner Sky
“If you share in the widespread anxiety about our collective future, you’ll find a helpful and hopeful perspective in Jessica Murray’s book, At the Crossroads: An Astrologer Looks at these Turbulent Times. She guides us into a place of clarity and calmness by tracking and interpreting the rare planetary cycles that correspond with our current global upheaval…. Her lucid analysis helps us to view these vast changes as a necessary phase of a healing cycle that can bring us collectively to a more sustainable future.”
~Donna Cunningham, MSW, author of Healing Pluto Problems
“Jessica Murray’s new book of essays, articles and blogs has me awash with insight… about our future as a species on planet Earth.”
~ Adam Gainsburg, author of The Light of Venus: Embracing Your Deeper Feminine,
Empowering Our Shared Future
“You don’t have to be a Mayan calendar maker to know that the times are a-changin’. With a diminishing reserve of oil, threats to water and food supplies and the misused power of the Wall Street, we ARE at a crossroads. Murray applies a sharp eye and a keen intellect to help us gain a clear picture of where we stand and the choices that we face.”
~ Rick Levine, Co-founder of StarIQ.com
“Jessica Murray’s writings artfully shape a narrative order out of the seemingly chaotic plot twists playing out in this devastating and amazing age.”
~ Molly Hall, About.com: Astrology
“At the Crossroads is social and astrological commentary of rare psychological insight and political savvy – written with both humor and humanity.”
~ Frank C. Clifford Astrologer, Writer, and Principal of the London School of Astrology
There’s a lot of buzz to this era of ours. Both personally and globally, people are aware of an extraordinary intensity in the air. Many of us feel overwhelmed by the chaos, so we tune out. This is understandable, but shutting down a part of our consciousness is not a good plan for meaning-seekers. The healthier option is to find a way of understanding what’s going on that allows us to stay sane and grounded. The intention of this book is to encourage this understanding.
One of the currents running through the mass mind right now is apocalyptic anxiety. Groups as different from one another as environmentalists and fundamentalists are framing what’s going on in terms of breakdown and termination, to which their followers are reacting with panic and dread.
Another current is that of a luminous new beginning. A remarkable number of ancient traditions, among them the Mayan calendar and the Sanskrit scriptures, have identified our epoch as a definitive threshold. Channeled material has recently come forth1 that explains these turbulent times as the darkness before the dawn. Many Western astrologers believe we are straddling the cusp of the World Ages, clearing out the toxic features of the old world to make way for the new.
This book considers our epoch from an astrological perspective, though not the kind you see in the Sun-sign columns. I do touch on personal astrology in this book, but mostly I use the movement of the planets (transits) to map vast, overarching macro-cycles, as the earliest astrologers did. To look at our world this way is to see things from a very big picture. It allows us to consider the fraught times we live in as a phase: a chapter in the long story of humanity’s spiritual evolution.
I have found astrology very useful as a lens through which to look at our confused, tormented world. It can also be used to identify our unique place in this world, for each one of us has a creative part to play.
But any system that encourages us to see the long view is useful. Any language that allows us to step back from the personal way of looking at things, and even from the societal way of looking at things, stretching our viewpoint even to the cosmic way of looking at things, is going to help us. All true wisdom paths offer essentially the same teachings about the purposefulness of every individual life, and about the need to identify with the present moment.
At this moment in Earth’s evolution it is urgently necessary that we cultivate a new approach to learning, a new way of deriving meaning about ourselves and the world. The trove of knowledge humanity has accumulated at this point in history is nothing if not impressive, mechanically and technologically. But we have some catching up to do where right-brain understanding is concerned.
The hard sciences have sent us careening into the modern era, but they’re not much use in the soul department. Ours is a dis-ensouled age, as Richard Tarnas eloquently puts it.2 It isn’t just knowledge we need right now, but wisdom. It’s going to take spiritual maturity to heal the Earth and the beings upon it, starting with ourselves.
The essays in this book consider the symbolic meaning of certain hot-button current events, the underlying premise being that the ascendancy of a movie star or the election of a mixed-race president or a debt crisis in the cradle of Western civilization are symbolic of something the whole group is going through. Mass events bubble up from the collective mind, as part of a growth process by which humanity becomes aware of itself.
Astrological archetypes work as an interpretive schema because “real life”, just like dream life, is a flow of symbols. An angry dog barking at you on the day of a Mars transit is a symbol. So are big collective happenings, like political movements, oil spills and tsunamis. Astrology provides a marvelously precise and subtle vocabulary with which to talk about the meaning of these things.
But you don’t have to speak the language of astrology – certainly you don’t have to “believe” in it — in order to benefit from the distance it provides. Like all symbolic languages, including those of folk tales, parables and dreams, astrology helps us stand back from our literal world and find meaning on multiple levels.
Observing life from this kind of distance is not a luxury but a necessity in an era like this one. Amidst the cacophony of our information-saturated modern lives, it is perhaps harder than at any other time in history to achieve clarity of mind. Every society on Earth right now is struggling. Old structures are falling apart everywhere, in preparation for more life-affirming replacements.
First and foremost, we need to maintain a compassionate detachment from the day-to-day dramas and the media-generated nonsense that passes for reality. Those who meditate or pray know how much easier a stressful day can become after copping just a few minutes of psycho-spiritual distance. This kind of distance, however we get it, allows us to see meaning in the apparent chaos. We start to feel we are part of our environment for a reason.
With enough perspective, we can not only understand but respond appropriately to these intense times, rather than merely react to them. I believe that each of us chose, on a soul level, to incarnate into this epoch. For me it’s a given that we each have all the resources we need to respond creatively to whatever arises.
But to do so we need a worldview that confers meaning on global traumas, as well as on our own. Thus equipped, we not only avoid going insane in the face of insanity in our environment, but we can find our soul-appointed role within them.
The essays in this book are an attempt to help us find the method in the madness.
Prophecy and Symbolism
During the several years leading up to the year 2012, there were swarms of prophecies buzzing around. We can learn a lot from them; not about 2012 so much as about the human mind. They show us how the popular imagination reacts to the underlying currents from which history is created.
There was a common thread between the all the different 2012 scenarios posted on the internet, reported on TV and written about in books. They all described a preternatural cataclysm that would happen all at once, like the chimes of a grandfather clock when its hands reach the midnight hour.
The mass rapture that was predicted by certain religionists, the extraterrestrial visitations anticipated by UFO enthusiasts, the telluric disasters and meteor collisions warned of by apocalypse trackers — all of these featured sudden, cinematic dramas taking place in the external realm.
The existence of such pictures leaves no doubt that the public is well aware of the convulsive growth spurt that has been associated with our epoch by any number of spiritual traditions. And they show us how the mass consciousness deals with such convulsions: they get interpreted as big, splashy, literal events. But in many ways these interpretations are too simple. Like the brightly colored illustrations in children’s picture books, such images are clear and eye-catching; but they do not address our need for meaning.
In the same way that pictures of God as a bearded old white man strike many spiritual thinkers as risibly reductive, the idea that a world-altering transit can only express itself as a meteor hitting the Earth, or something equally cinematic, seems similarly unsatisfying. Like caricatures, these images fit the bill for their quick, evocative power, and as such they are good metaphors for the energies upon us. But if they are taken literally rather than metaphorically, they lead us astray.
Throughout history, seers and sages who wanted to express important, complicated ideas have used the language of metaphor. In legends and scriptures worldwide, prognosticators have explained their visions in symbolic code. When the Buddha wanted to talk about the attainment of impeccable wisdom, for example, he told a story about the discovery of a priceless gem. When Jesus wanted to evoke innocence, he told a story about a lamb.
Granted, there have always been believers who took these things literally. There were and are Christians, for example, who believe that evil is personified — not allegorically but actually — by a red-skinned man with horns, hoofs and a goatee. And there are traffickers in astrological predictions who find plausible the idea of Earth being taken over by aliens, or of humanity being enlightened in one fell swoop by a New Age bolt of lightning.
Endings and Beginnings
We modern thinkers are capable of more subtlety of thought than this. Certainly we are brought up to see ourselves as more advanced than, for example, the medieval philosophers who saw the world as flat. How could they be so silly as to believe that if a ship were to sail out to the horizon, it would fall off into nothingness? we ask ourselves. But that’s not very far removed from the belief that, after December 21st 2012 the world will end.
I am not even sure what “the world will end” means. I wonder what it looks like, in the imaginations of those to whom it is imaginable, for something to simply cease to exist. The closest approximation I can visualize would be an animated cartoon or a CGI-enhanced movie where the picture was there, and then – >poof< – it wasn’t.
I think we can be sure that the ancient Mayan seers, from whom the year 2012 derives so much of its current notoriety, did not see endings this way. For them and for other ancient peoples, death didn’t exist in a vacuum: it was a precursor to rebirth. They saw the period we are in right now as an organic clearing of the decks, in preparation for the cycle to come.
Not that it takes an ancient sage to see that endings and new beginnings are flip sides of the same coin. To buy into the idea that anything in the universe could abruptly stop – period — would be hard to entertain for a farmer, or anyone else who’s ever lived intimately among the animals and vegetable kingdoms; or who has witnessed Winter turning into Spring, or who has looked up at the night sky over a few weeks’ time and observed the Moon segue from waning to waxing and back again.
Metaphorical vs. Literal
It isn’t hard to see why astrology came to be associated with the prediction of literal events exclusively. Even in the psychologically oriented schools of astrology, we often describe transits in terms of events in the physical world, because it’s the quickest and clearest way to get a point across. In the process of trying to explain the abstract energy of a planetary transit, astrologers are likely to choose a metaphor that exactly matches what will soon be announced in the headlines as a fact.
This is because in astrological symbolism there is no absolute boundary of meaning between literal and figurative. It is quite true that the planet Uranus, for example, is associated with actual earthquakes, and, in combination with Pluto in Capricorn, with literal stock market plunges and the collapse of governments. But the reason these symbols are said to “govern” these things is because of the energy patterns that underlie the events.
Those patterns are where the cosmic teaching lies. A literal prediction may offer the what, the where and the when of the transit, but not the why. We can collect probable answers to “What will the future bring?” till the cows come home, but they will do nothing to enhance our spiritual maturity.
Granted, there isn’t much buzz in forecasting that the world will experience… well, pretty much more of the same. Not a very sexy prediction. But in our hearts, each of us knows quite well that, barring radical intervention, the trajectory humanity is on will indeed bring us tomorrow what we have today– only more so.
The big news about these epochal transits isn’t about the outside world at all. It’s about what happens inside of us.
1. For example, channel Tom Kenyon’s reports from The Hathors.
2. Rick Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, Harmony Books, 1991; and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World, Viking Press, 2006.
“The story of our times…an astrological masterpiece! Following her exquisite “Soul-Sick Nation,” Jessica Murray has written a book of these times. Released on the day of the first exact Uranus/Pluto square, At the Crossroads is a thorough and illuminating exploration of today’s dominant astrological climate. The book chronicles world events for the last 3 years as the planets of revolution (Uranus) and transformation (Pluto) tighten on their collision course..”
~Eric Meyer, author of The Astrology of Awakening, Astrologysight.com. Read the full review.
“If you have not read any of Jessica’s writings, read this, her most recent book. I’m reading it now, and I assure you that — astrologer or not — “At The Crossroads” is yet another of her masterworks. ALL of her books, articles, blogs, etc., without exception, are true works of intellectual-emotional art that will be of real, practical, measurable benefit for you and those you Love… She is a treasure in the astrological community and beyond. Trust me on this one.”
~ Sao Long, Shamanic Astrology, Sedona, AZ
“… your new book… is a treasure. I think that you have produced something very comprehensive here, with a very big vision and manifold applicability. I hope it will be widely read and absorbed. The world needs this information.”
~ Don Nix, author of The Field of Being (iUniverse 2009)
“This is possibly the best written and most thought-provoking book I have read. If all books were written with such incredibly powerful insight, truth, and delightful command of the English language, I would never leave my home. Jessica Murray is clearly an absolute leader in the field of astrology. Her incredibly spiritual and highly intellectual observations about the state of our world and possibilities for the future are powerful beyond belief….”
~Steven Frampton, , Quantumatters.com. Read the full review.