This post is the first in a three-part series that brings together three topics that are important to me: astrology, writing, and personal growth and development. Before I get into today's topic, here's the complete series schedule, so you can follow along:
"How I Used Astrology to Write (and Complete) My Book" (live on blog 4/25)
"Writing Horror Against My Will: How Astrology Helped Me Make Peace with My Own Jekyll and Hyde" (live on blog 4/27)
A bonus article! "Writing While Traumatized: Horror, History, and the Healing Powers of Genre-Blending" (live on blog 5/2)
"Monsters as My Safe Place: On Processing Trauma by Creating Things that Go Bump in the Night" (live on blog 5/4)
Okay, let's get to it.
When I was ready to sit down and write a book––I don't mean imagine or sketch or even plot, I mean actually stay in a chair and type––I discovered I had two major problems. First, I couldn't sit for any period of time. Literally, I could not keep my ass in a chair. Second, I could not find a comfortable space from which to work. I tried different rooms, different office setups. Pre-virus, I tried different neighborhood locales. Nothing worked. I could write in my head while lying in bed or dictate into my phone while walking, but I could not sit down and type out the words for any period of time. Then I started studying astrology.
Let me situate myself in the field. I practice Hellenistic astrology, but I also bring in elements of psychological astrology and archetypal astrology. I think, depending on the questions you're asking, those approaches (when layered over a traditional framework) can yield some rich data to explore. So, in studying my own chart in reference to my writing challenge, my attention was drawn to two areas: a fire Mars in my first house and my Venus-ruled sixth house of Taurus. Let's start with Mars.
Mars is the planet of action, and the first house is the house of the native. In a fire sign, Mars is eager to get things done, to move, to act. A first house Mars signifies a native with a lot of energy and a high demand for physical activity. Add the fire factor to that, and you see why I struggled to sit and write. And yes, I tried writing in bursts; I tried frequent breaks; and I even thought about getting a treadmill desk (more on that in a minute). It wasn't until I thought of Mars as the god he is, until I animated him and began to practice cosmic divination, that I started to understand. The god of war doesn't work on my schedule. Working with the planetary energy of Mars can be a great asset in terms of getting work done, but the god requires a sacrifice. Here's the deal I struck with Mars:
My writing schedule is now determined by my movement schedule. Not influenced, not negotiated. Determined. I front load all the movement activities I can for the day. I do a morning pilates or weight session, I walk my dog (usually a couple times, because he's older). I dance around my house––intentionally. As an activity to awaken and mobilize my sacral chakra. I complete any kind of errands or housework that needs to be done. When the weather permits, I walk a few miles myself. In short, I move as much energy through my physical body as I possibly can on a daily basis...before I even think about sitting down to write. And yes, sometimes that means I don't get to a computer until one or two o'clock in the afternoon. Yes, it means I've had to learn to be painstakingly flexible in my writing schedule. It means I'll never have one of those romantic writer stories about how I rise with the sun and pour out poetic prose while sipping my morning coffee. Sometimes it's pretty inconvenient, but the tradeoff has been worth it. If I allow the god of war his action, I am able to write while he rests within me. So working with Mars resolved my problem of when I was able to write, but I had to look to my sixth house ruler to solve the problem of how I could write.
The sixth house was traditionally known as the house of bad fortune. It's the labor house, the house where we toil on a daily basis. It's the house of disease (dis-ease) and decay, but it's also the house of our healing capabilities.Along with the second and the tenth, it's one of the money or material wealth houses, one of the houses that speak to work. In the case of the sixth, it's how we work. Bingo.
As a Sagittarius rising, I have Taurus in the sixth house. Taurus is ruled by Aphrodite, or Venus, as she's more commonly known. In thinking, then, about how I could create a space in which I wanted to work, I thought about what it would mean to create a workspace for Venus. Of course, the goddess doesn't actually want to work (Venus isn't crazy about the sixth house), so I had my work cut out for me. Remember when I talked about getting Mars a treadmill desk? The last thing Venus wants to do if she has to work is exercise at the same time. A treadmill desk was never going to work for me.
Venus wants comfort. She craves luxury and beauty. She desires sensory pleasure on every level. So I created an office space to give her just that. My current office has a full wall of windows on two sides of the room, so I get lots of natural light and warmth from the afternoon sun. I bought beautiful artwork and a couple of goddess statues for the room. There are crystals and plants and candles all over. I have a bottle of Angelica essential oil I breathe in for a few seconds every day before I begin to write. When it's cold, I have an electric fireplace (and even when it's not, I still sometimes use just the light from the flames). Everything about the office is beautiful to me. It's comfortable for me, and it is just for me. It's not a shared space (except with my dog), and I don't do other activities in there. I can't say for sure, but I know if I was Venus having to labor, I would want to labor in an office like mine. Given that I now have no trouble working at all, I think she's happy with the space I created for her. I felt the energetic shift almost immediately as I started to redecorate.
Okay, now let's talk about privilege, because I'm the girl who grew up eating government cheese, drinking powdered milk, and wearing donated clothing. Even when, as an adult, I had the financial resources to decorate an office, and even after I learned about Venus and my sixth house, it still took me awhile to make these changes. I felt uncomfortable spending money on something that felt superfluous...until I realized the only things in my life that I ever felt were superfluous, in terms of spending money, were things for myself. Anyone and anything else, I never had a problem spending money on. Just me. That's one of the longterm effects of poverty. And then when you do spend money on yourself, you feel guilty. Sometimes I still feel guilty, but I know how to move through it now. I guess what I want to say here about privilege is twofold: first, money is a resource that is meant to be in circulation, so spend it if it's available to you. Second, there are things I could have done to make a Venus-worthy office that cost little to no money. And while working with Mars cost me time, it didn't cost me any money (though the ability to rearrange my schedule is, itself, a privilege).
In conclusion, if you want to think about the kind of work you do and how you might create a more suitable or pleasing environment in which to toil on a daily basis, I suggest looking at your sixth house and sixth house ruler (so in my case, Taurus and Venus). You can make it more complicated than that; you can add layers. Based on my own experience, and my practice as an astrologer, I suggest you start as simply as you can. I changed my entire relationship to my work by altering my movement schedule (Mars) and my office decor (Venus). I'm not saying astrology made me a better writer (not in this post at least), but I am saying without a doubt, astrology helped me so that I could be a writer. I'm not sure I would have ever finished my book without it.