About Joyce Hopewell

Writer, reader, dancer, singer, teacher, nature lover, astrologer, Senior Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations (aka grandmother).

Written in the stars?

Featured Image -- 4086With my astrological psychology hat on, I’m pondering on our current global situation. Most countries  are in lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronvirus – Covid-19 – which is dominating our lives. The pandemic has halted everyday life. People are dying. We’re in uncharted waters while a vaccine is being sought; life is on pause and hold as far as the everyday activities we’ve grown so accustomed to are concerned.

Here in the UK we’re told to stay at home, work from home, don’t socialise or go out unless you’re getting shopping, and then only a few people at a time in the shop please, each keeping 2 metres apart. Children are being schooled at home by parents who are trying to work from home; the  schools closed a few weeks ago, and while it’s OK to go for a walk or take some kind of exercise, this must be done in the locality – there’s no driving off into the countryside allowed. Oh yes – frequent handwashing is essential to kill the virus. Lather up for at least 20 seconds.

If we’d been told we’d be living like this just a few weeks ago, most of us would have thought it was a joke. But it’s not and although I can’t pretend I saw it coming, I did know – from an astrological viewpoint –  that we were likely to face considerable challenges and changes all the way up to 2024 as the planet Pluto made its way through the sign of Capricorn. I wrote about this in November 2017, and you can read my thoughts here,  about this great unravelling which had already begun back in 2009.

For non-astrologers and sceptics (1) I’ll try to put my ideas and take on the current situation into a context you can understand, using non-astrological language. So I ask you to imagine a large and impressive building – maybe iconic like the United Nations HQ in New York City, or the offices of a powerful global institution. It’s a place where a lot of different but interconnected businesses, organisations, charities, churches, banks, non-governmental groups and long-founded, traditional establishments gather under one roof. The building is called Capricorn House, it’s architecturally solid and sound, rather plush, and it is imbued with Tradition with a capital T.

In 2009, a newcomer arrives, takes a long hard look at what goes on there, assesses that things are looking out of kilter because there seems to be a whole load of inequality about in the world. Not only that, the environment is taking the hits and the way things are being run, by businesses of all kinds, is destroying our world – not just for us but for furture generations. The newcomer, not unlike the Stranger in Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter, sets about levelling the playing field. He has considerable power and it’s not long before the cracks appear and the walls of safety surrounding more dubious organisations and businesses start to crumble and fall. The stranger is called Pluto and yes, he has powers alright, but he can use them to right wrongs and injustices and inequalities. The old, outworn, outdated, irrelevant-to-current-times practices take the hits. Pluto likes nothing better than a good clear out and a fresh start, and that’s what the world starts to get.

Some of the effects of this are painful for us on a personal, everyday life level, so of course, humanity tries to resist. But Pluto is an energy/entity on a mission and he’s got plenty of time; he will stay on this job until 2024, and in 2020 we’re at last starting to wake up to the fact that things have to change. Coronavirus has woken us all up to that, and strangely has brought us closer together as we realise what is important in life. And it’s not “stuff” and possessions, it’s people and our environment and the way we’re living.

But that’s not the end of it. In January 2018, another visitor arrived in Capricorn House. It was Saturn, a rather rigid, go-by-the-book kind of entity whose forte in life is systems, organisation, structure, and interestingly, the physical body. You’d expect Saturn to be in his element in Capricorn House, with all those traditional, long-founded organisations there (Saturn really doesn’t like change) but it wasn’t long before he bumped into Pluto, who proceeded to bend his ear about all the changes that were needed to the current systems and way of running things, otherwise there wouldn’t be anything much to run at all.

This was aided and abetted by Uranus, who had been messaging Pluto repeatedly since 2011, putting in his two penn’rth from his temporary offices in both Aries and Taurus Towers on the same campus, and adding a bit of global revolutionary spice to what Pluto was doing with the more general clear out.

In December 2019, Jupiter arrived in Carpricorn House, found Pluto and Saturn were already there at work, and as I write, is locked even now in close cahoots with Pluto to offer the opportunity of bringing some vision and long term planning to what our world and our society could be like. Jupiter sees the big picture, of how the future might be, and comes to share wisdom and experience before moving on in December 2020. That gives us a year – maybe to find a vaccine for Covid-19 – and to find new ways as our perceptions and priorities change.

Saturn, meanwhile, has scarpered and left Capricorn House to take up temporary residence in Aquarius Hall, where the techies live and work and the egg heads and boffins hang out. Saturn will return to Capricorn House for a while during 2020, but will then settle in at Aquarius Hall for the long haul, possibly while new systems, which include ways of communicating and working on line, maybe at home, are perfected, and yes, by then, a vaccine might have been found by the scientists and techies.

The astrological bit

This is my take on what effects on humanity the outer, transpersonal planets Uranus and Pluto are currently having.  Jupiter and Saturn are not outer planets, and are more personal, Saturn being appropriately on the boundary (a Saturnian word – Saturn likes boundaries) between the inner and outer planets in the solar system.

Here are links to short videos on my YouTube channel explaining the meaning and qualities associated with Pluto and Uranus, and the revolutionary spirit of Uranus.

(1) Please don’t poo-pooh any of this unless you have something useful to say and have studied astrology yourself; I’ve studied it for 36 years. Just saying.

Equine power

We were staying with family in Houston when the coronavirus pandemic started to kick off big time, but it wasn’t yet worrying enough for us to cut short our visit and head for home while we could. That panic came a bit later, and we were able to enjoy a brief period of respite from the mounting anxiety in this earlier part of our stay.  We went along with granddaughter to her Saturday riding lessons at a ranch in the country, a short drive away.

We’d heard a lot about the horses she rides at the ranch – they are Athena and Tarzan. Tarzan (shown here, rear view with her riding) is a big horse – 16.5 hands high – and whereas I’d be treating him with all due respect, granddaughter shows no fear at all and loves her equine interactions and all the hands on grooming before and after her ride.

What was so soothing and calming was to visit the stables and meet some of the other horses there. Cloud, the all-white horse, listened patiently while I talked to him and photographed him. I felt quite an affinity with him.

There are several mini horses at the stables, and the beautiful tan and cream one, whose name I can’t remember, had recently given birth. Her foal, a boy, was with her and at just three weeks old was a joy to behold.

In the midst of the current crisis, the worry, the anxiety and the reality of the unsettled and unsettling world we now inhabit fell away. It was a blessing to be able to get alongside these powerful and beautiful animals, and share some of their simple “being-ness”.

Life in lockdown

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How come I seem to be even busier in these days of lockdown than I was before, when I was following a fairly normal, daily routine…….ah, of course, there’s the answer. Routine. Structure. Doing things at a sort of allocated, usual, habitual time. But now, with our daily framework gone all wobbly, we have to dig a bit deeper and find ways to focus, get through what needs to be done (like washing, ironing, deciding what to use from our food stocks then cooking it, and so on).

Yesterday I felt like the proverbial blue-assed fly, flitting from one distraction to the next like a headless chicken (excuse the mixed metaphors). Having successfully joined FaceBook in order to be able to easily message granddaughter in the US and take part in the Rock Choir daily Keep Britain Singing at 3 pm (I’m a member of Rock Choir and need a singing fix to keep me going), I found I was suddenly thrust into more techno-connections than I’d ever been.

Suddenly people I know were appearing on FaceBook wanting to be my “friend”. With extended French family (our daughter-in-law is French), the combination of choir members I know and French family I know got just a bit challenging at one point when I received a message – in French – from my daughter-in-law’s godmother. I had a bash at responding in rusty French and was part way through when I noticed there was a translate button. So I was able to translate her message into English, and if I wrote in English, she’d be able to translate it into French. Phew. I switched from rusty Francais to English promptly.

So that leaves the daily Rock Choir 20 minute sing to schedule for 3pm, and the Great British Home Chorus being led by Gareth Malone for 30 minutes every day at 5.30pm. That’s before I’ve even got near the on-line PE, yoga and keep fit classes.

Then there’s the WhatsApps arriving from friends and family, the face to face calls, the  phone calls, the chats with neighbours over the garden fence – all at a safe distance of more than 2 metres – the emails and the one daily walk to schedule for us and the dog, who, it seems has cracked this lockdown lark rather well.

He’s even decided to watch the daily sing, but he doesn’t join in…..

Travelling home as things close down

Thanks to my other half who wrote down this saga of a journey back home while my version of it was still forming in my head, here are the accurate details of the journey we had and would not want to do again. Yes, the 1st class experience of an overnight flight on a reclining seat which converts to a full llength bed was a good one. I slept more than I’ve ever managed before on a night flight, with a real pillow and duvet to hunker down under. With the words of Vera Lynn’s famous song “We’ll meet again…” from WW2 sounding in my head, and with tears in my eyes about our hasty departure and leaving the grandchildren, I eventually fell asleep.

I can't believe it!

“I imagine you are both enjoying seeing the grandchildren grow up,” said a friend by email, while we were out in Houston with the family. We were, but this was soon curtailed by the developing coronavirus panic on both sides of the pond.

We were due to fly back to Manchester 7th April, but it was becoming clear that we’d have to do so sooner. President Trump stopped people flying in from Europe from Friday 13th March. Maybe we should bring our departure forward by a couple of weeks to Tuesday 24th?

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The Four Freedoms

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Freedom of Speech by Norman Rockwell

Last week – ahead of starting to seriously social distance ourselves – we went to the Norman Rockwell exhibition at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Because of fast-moving global events around coronavirus it turns out that this will be the only “treat” outing we’ll have while we’re here, visiting family.

The dominant theme of Rockwell’s paintings is Franklin D. Rooseveldt’s Four Freedoms which are extremely appropriate to the state of the globalised world and what’s happening all over it right now. Rockwell painted them during WW2, when they  were reproduced in The Saturday Evening Post for over four consecutive weeks in 1943, alongside essays by prominent thinkers of the day.

The Four Freedoms are as significant now as they were back in 1943:

Freedom of speech – Freedom of worship – Freedom from want – Freedom from fear

Rockwell illustrated each freedom differently; each is powerful in its own way. The jacket worn by the model in the painting shown is on display at the exhibition, and the occasion itself was based on a real event where a man spoke out on a controversial topic at a community meeting, where he was respected and heard out.

But the final freedom – Freedom from fear – at this moment has the greatest charge for me. Fear is rampaging through our world because of coronavirus. I realised today that I’m now more alarmed at what is happening all over the world because of the virus (lockdowns, curfews, panic buying, borders closing etc.) than I now am about catching the virus itself.

Fear is a powerful weapon. It was FDR himself who, in his 1933 inaugural speech said, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself”. Fear is power. If we have fear we’re not fully in charge of our own liberties, we’re reined in, restrained in some way,  not connected to what is essentially good within us.

Two other mentions of fear also come to mind: the book entitled “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers. It’s a personal growth book which I read many years ago and found helpful. The other book – a big one! – which touches, amongst many other things, on coping with fear is A Course in Miracles.

The quote from the Course which stands in my mind and is the one I go to in times of stress and anxiety, such as these, is “There is no need to fear”. That has got me through a lot of tough, challenging times and as a mantra it has a calming effect. I’ve added the link for this lesson of the course; it may help, it may not. It works for me.

But what of the other freedoms? To be free to speak out, to worship whichever higher being  nurtures our spiritual needs, to be free from want, through hunger or not having shelter are all important. Sad to say all these freedoms are not fulfilled in our current world, making The Four Freedoms as relevant now as they were when they were voiced by FDR.

Freedom from fear, for me, is the freedom which underpins them all. We can so easily be paralysed by fear, which would hamper us speaking out, as would being afraid to openly worship in ways right for us, and likewise we can be afraid of not having enough to survive on.

The world we know seems to be crumbling apart, but as scary and unsettling as this is, there are some good things emerging. People, marooned in communities locked down against the spread of coronavirus are starting to form support groups and organise how they can help each other, especially those seniors who may become isolated. Today, for  about 30 minutes I was distracted and delighted to hear from all my cul-de-sac neighbours in the UK who have formed a WhatsApp help and support group.

Although I’m in Houston and hoping to get a flight back home, I felt buoyed up by the friendship and community spirit as all of us joined in and added our twopenny-worth of energy to the enterprise. The fear retreated and something brighter and more positive took its place.