Editor's Note: This conversation happened in mid-February, just before the Pisces Full Moon (February 21st/22nd). If you missed Diane's insights, a big hit with readers, from December 2011, see Healthful Holiday Tips for Body and Soul, and Kundalini, Shakti and Kali Yuga.
Molly Hall: It’s great to talk with you again Diane. The notes from our last conversation were a big draw. I know in my life, I’m looking for useful things I can put into action –- and you mentioned a few of those last time.
Diane Booth Gilliam: I think many of us are looking for something we can turn to, something we can practice and hold on to day after day, as the world changes before our very eyes. What can we count on these days?
The new moon is in Pisces (Feb 21/22nd, 2012). Meanwhile ruling planet Neptune is in Pisces. And the too—expansive, elusive, inspired, creative, romantic, and glamorous Neptune provides all kinds of very seductive energy. This energy is actually very uplifting. It inspires us to reach higher and higher levels of creativity. And it behooves us to tap into that vast creativity and expansion, as this energy can offer some of the most inspired solutions to the problems we face as a society today. All this creative expansion starts now, with the new moon in Pisces.
But all this expansive, Neptunian energy is not so easy to sustain.
And that’s where we begin, in Yogastrology. We use the ancient system of correlations between areas of the body, and signs of the zodiac, to tap into the energy that's available to us in the present moment. The traditional correlations for the new moon in Pisces = feet.
This is key: How can the body create a strong foundation, and sustain a strong stance? Through being grounded, through the foundation, which of course is all about the feet.
Let's play with some body imagery here. What does it mean to you, Molly, when you hear the phrase ‘get swept off your feet.’ What happens when you hear that phrase?
MH: Floaty feeling, romantic, but not thinking about tomorrow too much. I can never really relax in a phrase like that TOO long...because I want to stay grounded.
DBG: That floaty feeling you describe is a really wonderful place. I definitely prescribe getting into this expansive, light place, such as you describe here, because it's the place where many of our most inspired and blissful experiences—big romance, or mighty surges of creative energy—exist.
But at the same time—and you put your finger on this, Molly—such feelings don't last long.
Neptune’s waves of inspiration never stick around too long. Inevitably, something shifts. We grow bored with our creative project, we become weary of our lover's antics, or the whole scene just gets old somehow.
When we're lucky enough to have a love affair that lasts for many years, well, we watch one another age. Hair grows thin. Teeth fall out. All that un-glamorous stuff just happens. That's how it goes in the material world. Neptune can provide the remedy to all that.
Neptunian inspiration is glorious, but also very fleeting. So how are we going to stay present to all that fresh, pure inspiration, but not lose ourselves, not end up missing the whole show? How can tap into inspiration and bliss, but avoid dropping into that painful place of loss when it's all over?
I think this is where we "get back on our feet." This is where we learn to "stand on our own two feet."
The four corners of our feet are a touchstone. Stand in Tadasana mountain pose, and focus on the feet. Spread the toes. Spread them wide, like a fan, just like you spread your fingers. Now plant the toes, one at a time, on the earth. Ground yourself through your toes and feet.
MH: You remind me of how I was sitting in my Pisces' neighbor's hot tub and we were talking about the many worlds or dimensions of reality right here. And sometimes Neptune seems like a pull out of our bodies, to some other place off world. It’s linked to passing through the veil, slipping out of our physical body through time, but the idea of the feet brings us back to this wonderful realization that it’s all right here around us. And even in our bodies, the space between the cells of our bodies, the space inside our body.
DBG: You had that realization in a hot tub? Wonderful. Your body was like the molecule floating in its environment. You were immersed in a pool of warm, bubbly water, having that spacious, floaty feeling.
And eventually, you had to emerge from the hot tub, to stand again on your own two feet again. Luckily, you brought your powerful realization with you, back into this grounded reality. That's what's called the "ordinarily sacred".
You know, feet are an especially potent spiritual center. There are much-loved photographs of the feet of gurus. Also the padukas, the guru's sandals, are highly cherished in many traditions. The guru's "lotus feet" are key concepts. The feet are said to be a very spiritual center in the body.
In terms of practice—there’s Tadasana, mountain pose—standing tall and being grounded through our feet. But we can focus on our feet in any asana. Any pose will work, to focus on the feet, to get grounded, to return to our foundation.
I love Tadasana because it's so clear and simple. We can practice mountain pose anywhere, any time. Standing in line at the market, or at the bank, any time we stand up, we can get grounded through our feet.
And that grounding allows us to stay us in touch with the Neptunian world of inspiration and expansion, the realm of spirituality and vast creativity, which we so desperately need now.
MH: I'm thinking now of the therapies that see the convergence of all the circuits of the body in the feet. And how Pisces is the last sign of the Zodiac, inclusive of all the previous signs before it.
DBG: I love foot massage. And that Foot Reflexology chart, with all those connections between the feet and different areas of the body. The whole body is represented there, in the feet. And the entire zodiac is there, in the twelfth sign, Pisces = feet. Nice analogy.
MH: There’s this idea that Pisces spans human experience…from one extreme to the other. And expanding into new realms of experience, while recognizing that staying in balance means not floating too far from having that grounding in the earthly reality.
DBG: Neptune contains both extremes—from the highest realm of love and creativity, to the deepest well of agony and de-feet (pun intended).
Ultimately, we want to funnel all our experiences of day-to-day reality, into our creative work. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming disconnected and we can turn into some sort of crazy lunatic. We have to integrate all our experiences on our journey to wholeness.
MH: And I think we have a lot of support for integration with Mars Virgo in retrograde. And finding empowerment by devoting a practice or spiritual growth to something higher with those two signs, too, Virgo-Pisces, serving the whole. Diane, what’s your sense of the mood or atmosphere in general terms?
DBG: From my personal perspective, this is a time of becoming more and more powerfully creative. And, as a result, this is a time of becoming much happier human beings.
Our material world is shifting dramatically, as Pluto transits Capricorn. The Pluto transit cracks open the foundations of society, and calls for remarkable reinvention. So many of us are going through dramatic episodes. It’s a huge opening, a space into which much fresh authenticity and creativity can flow.
MH: I’m definitely all for that. It’s almost hard to put into words this destruction and creation that’s happening simultaneously. A lot of clearing for people. Is there a practice you call on when these waves of psychic or soul debris is washing up?
DBG: Japa is the practice I return to again and again. I practice japa, maybe a hundred times a day, a hundred times an hour. Japa means the repetition of the mantra, usually done inwardly, in silence. It’s such an effective practice because it works to clear the mind that wants to spin out of control and drag us along with it.
Japa gives us something we can return to, clear and pure. Simple and profound. And then, many of the things that distract us. Things that create more tension and drama in our lives can simply pass away, without fanfare. Japa—mantra repetition helps us stay grounded and focused until the mind has a chance to calm down. And the heart can open, and genuine safety can be achieved.
In the yogic tradition, one truly sacred mantra for the practice of japa is Om Namah Shivaya. "Shivaya" here refers to Shiva (see Great Shiva Night & Dancing with Chaos), the symbol at the heart of the MahaShivaratri celebration.
MH: I’m glad you brought it back up, because Japa really was working for me. We’ve had a few stressful things happen lately, and I’ve been knocked off balance and fell out of practice. The intensity of the times can feel to me like waves, and it’s a practice for me, not to need to figure it all out, just to let it pass, like clouds moving through.
DBG: Exactly. "Just let it pass." Move with the energy, in your asana practice. Or simply stand still, and let the waves move through you. Everything passes. The waves come up, and the waves subside. So very Piscean, isn't it? To let waves of energy move through us, rather than react. It's tempting to do those reactive things we all do sometimes; but often, we just end up hurting ourselves, getting bashed against the rocks when acting from that place of reactivity. I'm playing with the practice of letting the waves roll in, and letting the waves roll out, as I stand as a witness to all that is.
MH: There are a lot of things that can catch my attention, when there’s so much that’s new, so for me, it’s a practice of keeping my focus on what’s emerging, instead of what is coming to completion, or has reached its organic end.
DBG: Isn’t that a ticket to an authentic and self-actualized life, Molly? To keep your focus on your inner Self in the present moment, so you’re aware of what is opening up for you now. To simply allow the waves of emotion, the grief we might feel for what has reached completion, the fear that sometimes arises about what’s dying and must be let go.
I think we really need help with this, to release old stuff—so that we can attune with the bliss that is present for us right now.
MH: I’m starting to feel what I feel this time of year (with Sun in Pisces), I can get really blissed out, and feel a lot of release, it is a huge clearing before Spring.
There are a lot of things in our culture that are a pull – the positive is a pull, like a Neptunian undertow, and then there’s negative pulls and I’m having to be more discipline to stay on track. I’m seeing the need for greater discernment with what I’m exposed to, and our talk here is reminding me to carry that discipline to the quality of thoughts, because I can catch the runaway train.
DBG: Oh, I certainly can catch that runaway train too (laughs). And that’s why we return to our practices. Practice, practice, practice. Japa, asana, meditation. We practice so that we can return to our center, to get off that runaway train.
MH: There’s the idea of resolving a lot of whatever from the past, karmic or past life, that doesn’t allow us to be ready in the present for these new things to emerge. Can you talk to how that plays in to the Uranus-Pluto square? It seems like they’re all working together in a magical way.
DBG: You’re right, it is a magical opening. Uranus square Pluto -— the first of the seven exact squares -- is happening on June 24th. Uranus zaps us into the future. Meanwhile, Pluto is hauling us into the future too, but more slowly, like the mythological phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction. Both planetary energies are progressive (future oriented), but in remarkably different ways. Having them square off feels explosive to me. It feels revolutionary.
So how do we cooperate with the release of karma? Great question. One answer is to practice compassion. Have compassion for your Self in the present moment.
MH: To my way of thinking, there’s a certain aspect of this that can’t be anticipated, and that’s part of the wonderful challenge to be in the moment. And there’s a built in excitement about not having a definite way that you can see how things will unfold.
DBG: Yes. Being present is very powerful practice. Very exciting. Add to that the practice of compassion because being compassionate—with ourselves—is an important piece in that fine art of living in the present moment.