Scorpio – Journey into the Underworld

“The dimension of soul is depth (not breadth or height) and the direction of our soul travel is downward” (James Hillman)

Scorpio offers us a poignant reminder of how the zodiacal journey can serve a process of soul retrieval. It is the experience of the three water signs that most suitably reveal the qualities of soul in the zodiac, as we have already experienced in the sign Cancer. In the sign of the crab, we first level of initiation, through reconnecting with the ancestors, with a deeper sense of home, memory, roots and origins. But in Cancer, we were still in the season of the light. Now in Scorpio, the season is darkening, and it is time for us to take responsibility for our deepest fears, desires, and destructive impulses, if we are to proceed along our soul’s path and re-discover the truth about who we are. In all traditions of initiation there is a journey into the underworld that must be undertaken in order for the initiate to know her/himself. In our alchemical journey process, this is it!
Image courtesy of Josephine Wall

The Sun wears a dark cloak in its Scorpio phase, Samhain marking summer’s end, reminding us that Mother Nature has exhaled all that she can on this turn of the wheel. Revealing the thin veil between worlds, she prepares now to breathe in, focussing deep within herself. While the beauty of her turning colours may have distracted our senses during the Libran cycle, so the stark reality of Autumn’s mission now confronts us in Scorpio. Nature’s once verdant mantle rots down on the damp forest floor, and fungus devours the leaf corpses.

Scorpio is the phase of the zodiacal wheel that we in the west seem to have collectively chosen to ignore, failing to acknowledge our own shadows, or deal with our waste; turning away from decay and death and refusing to see this as essential to the sustainability of life. We have created unsustainable structures based on perpetual growth and increase, which break the essential life cycle of transformation, and pile up toxic debts for ourselves and the planet. Our fast-disintegrating monetary systems pervert nature’s gift of abundance with their artificial reliance on debt and scarcity rewarding the few and condemning the majority to poverty. As Scorpio’s ruling planet Pluto moves now into Capricorn, I believe the self-destructive potential of the corporate structures that prop up these systems will be exposed and, ultimately, transformed.

This phase of the year teaches me the importance of learning to die well, so that I might be able to live more fully, relinquish my dependence upon what I already know and have the courage to face that which I may once have feared. It confirms something for me about the true nature of alchemy. Far from attempting to control nature and bend it to his own human will, the alchemist is always seeking to submit himself to nature’s power and mystery. Through practice, she learns to transform the hard shell of the human ego so that she might enter that liminal realm between worlds and experience the very common ground that we share with plant, animal and rock.

On The Alchemical Journey programme, we seek to penetrate nature’s deep mystery by cultivating an attitude of ‘wonder’ toward it, exposing our imaginations to a range of initiatory processes, which draw on astrological and seasonal myths and traditions. In this way, we seek to complete the cycle of transformation, and thus learn to live both magically and sustainably in our everyday lives.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” (C.G. Jung)

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