Pillars of Society
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Post by Jane Lewis
Midwinter walks bring increased awareness of the overall structure of trees now they’ve lost their leafy canopy. With the sun in Capricorn, its ruling planet Saturn now reveals the bare bones, the skeleton. On the surface, winter trees look lifeless and have a sad, stern or even forbidding appearance, all saturnian attributes. But their outer stillness hides a great activity going on below ground as the elements work hard to recombine in order to protect, purify and prepare next year’s seeds for new life.
The pillars and arches found in medieval cathedrals represent the towering trunks and limbs of trees. For millennia tree groves have been natural temples and places of worship where communities could come closer to the divine and commune with the gods and goddesses which were understood as being parts of a single whole. Druids, whose name literally means wise people of the oak tree, operated in forests and caves, and conducted their ceremonies in stone circles where they taught and practised astronomy based upon the solstices and eclipses. They were aware of the living life force present in all nature, all forms known to be interconnected. They devised the Ogham alphabet based on trees which they carved into wood and stone, and each tree letter was symbolic and could be used for magic and divination. The Ogham was also a calendar with a tree associated with each of the 13 lunar months.
As the natural ruler of the 10th house of the horoscope, Saturn in its cardinal earth sign Capricorn completes the earth triad that starts with Taurus and moves onto Virgo. In Taurus we are made aware of our resources and natural abilities which we must then hone and perfect in Virgo ready to make a contribution to the world at large in Capricorn through our unique form of service in action.
Lone trees stand out on the horizon but are rare, for trees grow together in communities and individual woodlands form part of a wider tree society, each species contributing its own special qualities and function to help sustain the whole. As the zodiac wheel demonstrates, the whole is made up of different qualities and elements, each bringing its own speciality, wisdom and perspective.
In Britain, The National Trust carries out important work in protecting landscapes and natural habitats including woods and forests, many of which were created or managed by rich land-owners in our past history.
The National Trust (Natal Chart)
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Founded on 12th January 1895, a noon chart for The National Trust is very earthy and shows Capricorn Sun elevated on its midheaven and Mars having just risen in Taurus. This is very appropriate for an organisation whose purpose is about conservation and preservation. The very term ‘trust’ is Capricornian as it means having reliability and confidence in someone to take care of something and keep it safely protected over time. Capricornians are serious-minded and responsible souls with strong managerial abilities who are appointed to work in public functions that benefit society as a whole. We put our trust in their abilities and well-grounded commonsense. Coming under Saturn’s influence, they have a strong feeling for history, past traditions and important values that will help keep the world turning on its axis far into the future. The shadow side of Capricorn manifests when the drive for conservation degenerates into resistance to change, either for its own sake or for the purpose of concentrating control in the hands of the privileged few. Then they can become ‘stuck in the mud’ and dig in their heels against necessary change, in which case preservation risks degenerating into stagnation or fossilisation.
The National Trust was formed by three Victorian worthies: Octavia Hill, Hardwicke Rawnsley and Robert Hunter who were united by a common belief that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. They were motivated to take action by creating the Trust so that natural and historic places could be protected for future generations. This has Aquarian overtones of giving open access to everyone, and this is shown in its chart by Sun sextile Uranus and Venus in Aquarius widely conjunct Sun. These Aquarian influences can help the Trust to move forwards progressively and avoid getting stuck in the past.
In 2023 the Trust’s secondary progressed Sun enters the first degree of Gemini, which suggests that in the coming decades it will continue take on an increasingly educational role in order to broaden access still further to the landscapes and properties of which it is custodian. This has the potential to introduce a breath of fresh air into policies and practices, enabling a diverse range of ideas and points of view to be aired and bounced back and forth between different groups. It will help it to reach out to communicate with a wider public, especially with young people. It is interesting to speculate where this new direction might take the Trust, especially as the moon’s north node is in Pisces. Is it ready yet to embrace spirituality both through art and science? Just how far back into our past is it willing to look and engage with ideas that have been excluded from the mainstream social mindset for 500 years or so? Can its new Geminian self make the most of the potential of its Sun-Uranus sextile and Venus in Aquarius in order to take it forwards in its nodal Piscean direction?
Pisces is about unity, at-one-ment, about the inter-connectedness of all things which brings us back full circle where alpha once again meets omega. As we move into the Aquarian Age when increasing numbers of people are turning to nature as a place for spiritual sustenance and communion with the divine, then Britain’s natural habitats will become increasingly important. Just as quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects but as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified whole, so do ancient wisdom traditions from all round the world.
If you’re going on walks this midwinter solstice time, perhaps even on land under the care of The National Trust, tune into the different tree species and see if you can sense their different vibrations and qualities, for one in particular will surely resonate deeply with your true self. Listen to the woodland elders and see what deep wisdom they have to impart to your listening heart.