The Crucible of Transformation

Book of Your Life for Taurus | By Eric Francis Coppolino

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I’ve often wondered from where Taurus draws its power. By that I mean the unusually mighty creative fire, the persistence of effort and the enduring quality of the work that so often comes out of people born with the Sun in Taurus. The enduring bit is worth bearing in mind: whatever you do with your life is likely to get lasting results. The one writer that everyone, as in everyone, can name was a Taurus.

Sign Art by Lizanne E. Webb.

We do get one clue from your sign being part of the fixed cross, the backbone of the astrological system. The old-religion holiday Beltane, the high sabbat of the Pagan year, takes place when the Sun reaches the midpoint of your sign. If the tree of life is planted in any one sign, I would propose yours is the one.

If you’re one of those Taurus people who struggles with your own resistance, you have a sense of the opposite of your natural strength: when you use it against yourself, or when it’s used against you (though this rarely happens without your cooperation). To do Taurus well demands a significant degree of mindfulness. As a sign associated with wealth and investment, you must invest in yourself to get any real results from your efforts.

Most of that investment needs to be on the spiritual level: in conscious growth, training, study, yoga and pursuing artistic and intellectual discipline. You must cultivate both strength and flexibility. You are called upon to work and develop the mind-body nexus. These things pay you back many times over. Anything that cultivates or deepens your thought process is particularly necessary for you.

You can really struggle with restlessness and the runaway mind phenomenon. This involves the prominent placement of both the air signs and Virgo in your chart. I’ll come back to that in a little while.

The solar year begins for you when the Sun enters your sign in a conjunction with retrograde Mercury. There could hardly be a better symbol describing Taurus. The first degree of your sign has the image, “A clear mountain stream.” The conjunction, which takes place in that degree, describes the fusion of you and your ideas with a never-ending source of psychic spring water. The retrograde condition of Mercury pulls the process deeply inward, and at the same time insists that you express what you discover in words and ideas that you articulate.

For you this is one of the challenges and also the most effective means of transformation: to focus your ideas and offer them to the world around you. This does not come easily, or not at first. It’s as if you have to earn every sentence, every phrase of music, every moment of actual expression. Like everything in your life, once you start to do this, you gain momentum, until your creative process takes on a life of its own. This does not make it easy; yet if you persist, you will eventually learn to get your mind and your ego out of the way of your creative process, and at that stage you will emerge as someone naturally prolific; and, it would seem, unstoppable.

It’s also in your nature to be a perfectionist. Your fellow earth sign Virgo gets this reputation, but Taurus actually lives it out. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that your devotion to quality demands an attention to detail that you seem to have no choice but to hold yourself to.

This does not make it easy to live in your consciousness and in your body. There always seems to be something demanding improvement, though the truth is, you’re happier for honoring this quality in yourself. When you don’t step up to these challenges in a meaningful way, and actually attain some of your goals, your self-esteem can really suffer.

If Taureans are competitive, it’s primarily with themselves. You never want to do anything worse than you did it last time. Your next effort has to be better. When this is not driving you a little nuts, it can really work for you; and it definitely works for those who benefit from your devoted efforts.

So, to repeat something I started with, you must make the investment in yourself in order to be happy; then that investment pays off many other ways. And, as time goes on, you can learn to hang loose and mellow out and just be excellent. You need to be a little like Mikhail Baryshnikov, who once said he liked to sit down in a chair and experience how good it feels to be such an amazing dancer.

The Crucible: Pholus, Sagittarius and the Galactic Core

The 8th house in astrology is where many of the most profound personal transformations happen. Death and rebirth of various literal and figurative kinds; marriage, divorce and inheritance — they are all included in the more ordinary changes this house includes. Yet there’s also another more mysterious level of alchemy that the 8th house possesses, instigating changes nobody really understands and that many fail to notice — particularly for you.

In the Taurus solar chart, or Taurus rising chart (the natural mandala for your sign) the 8th house aligns with the sign Sagittarius. This may be one explanation for the way in which cosmic fire burns through your life and into your hands, flowing into who you touch and what you create.

Sagittarius contains the center of the known universe. Actually it does so twice. The core of our galaxy is located in Sagittarius, which places the closest 300 billion stars to the Earth in your 8th house. The Galactic Core is our spiritual homing signal, an energy source and, very likely, a portal into another dimension. A few degrees away in mid-Sagittarius is the center of our galactic supercluster, Laniakea. This is a core that is drawing toward it 100,000 of our neighboring galaxies. That is to say, there is some gravity source located in your 8th house that’s the center-point of our region of the universe. Everything around us is bending toward it.

The 8th would have a transformational effect no matter what signs or planets are involved. With the Galactic Core and Laniakea there, the momentum is tremendous. And it has the effect of putting you into direct and available contact with the mysteries of the cosmos, which entirely transcend our usual concepts of life and death. The 8th is also deeply involved in sexual experiences, and to place these metaphysical forces into this house is to establish a sexual magnetism that is nearly impossible to resist. You draw toward you not just sexual experiences but the kind that people secretly want and deeply need — the kind that changes them.

This integrates two concepts that nearly all of history’s actors have tried to split apart: cosmic or religious experience, and physical/emotional erotic experience. When you say “Oh God!” you really mean it. In Buddhist terms, you can think of your Sagittarius 8th as the entry portal into first bardo. You can think of bardo as the space that someone occupies between two Earth lifetimes. It also works within one lifetime; the experience of the 8th can be akin to reincarnating in an entirely different form.

Buddhism cautions that it’s possible to experience profound liberation within bardo, but also to get caught in hallucinations that can create karma and lead to misguided reincarnations. Therefore, while moving through bardo, it’s essential to maintain one’s full mindfulness and keep your attention on the journey. It’s fair to say that there is a negotiation and exchange process implicit in any 8th house transformation: and you have a lot of that going on right now. How you handle this will influence your current relationships, your work, your role as a teacher, and the course of your life.

This comes into focus during the next few seasons because Saturn and several significant minor planets are working their way across the Galactic Core. I’m going to focus on Saturn and on one of the minor planets, Pholus. They stand for what seem to be opposite principles: Saturn representing containment and Pholus representing release. Saturn symbolizes seemingly large forces, in the psyche and in society. Pholus symbolizes seemingly tiny influences, which serve as catalysts to changes much deeper than anyone might expect.

If you think of Pholus as representing the small cause with the big effect, acting on and through the Galactic Core in your personal bardo (transition or transformation area), you will grasp the idea that small things can have a profound influence on your trajectory in life. Nearly invisible influences can integrate themselves into your transformation process. Because this is the 8th house, these influences can come from others, particularly those with whom you exchange sex and money. It’s therefore vital that you maintain these exchanges on the most aware level, and not drop into any form of unconsciousness.

One quality that Pholus and Saturn have in common is the influence of the past. As both of these objects transit back and forth over the Galactic Core, there is an imperative to identify and resolve the ancestral influences that emerge. The influences of Pholus could be so subtle you might never see them unless you know what to look for. They can represent a single comment made by your grandmother to your mother. They can take the form of an idea spoken to you by an early-childhood teacher (from “anything is possible” to “you’ll never succeed”), a comment made about your body by an early lover that never quite left you, and so on.

Many of these ideas are passed forward subliminally and often without words. Feel carefully for their influence, and then translate it into tangible ideas. With Pholus in particular, the transactions will occur right on or below the line of liminality, as if what you’re trying to look at is bobbing above and below the horizon or keeps getting obscured by clouds and haze. Such events tend to vex people their whole lives, and most have no clue what to do about them.

First step is to be aware; second step is to make the connections; third step is to stop blaming and work consciously for some release and resolution. Particularly in your mind, negative thought-forms can take on lives of their own and be unduly powerful.

Speaking of haze, it’s worth mentioning the potential influence of alcohol indicated by Pholus. This can be a factor anywhere from the lives of your great-grandparents down to your parents and to you. First, study the history carefully, and consider the influences that alcohol has had on the lives of your relatives. Usually this is about emotional insulation to the point of total avoidance of feelings. Then consider the influence of alcohol on your own life. For example, if it’s a factor, consider how you think and feel differently; what you might say or do that you might not ordinarily say or do; and most significantly, it’s influence where sex is concerned.

Among the few reasons that a reservoir of alcohol is consumed on the planet daily is that many people tend to have a difficult time with their sexual inhibitions. Pholus in its current position offers you a tool with the power and precision of a laser to be able to address this particular issue. Sexual inhibition is a kind of durable binding with many emotional ingredients, most of them on the shame-guilt spectrum. I would note that this can be a problem with ‘dry drunks’ in your ancestry or currently in your life; that is, people who have stopped drinking but who still possess many of the same unresolved issues as those who still drink. It’s a covert but well-identified side issue of alcoholism. I suggest you find out who these people are, if they exist.

This binding is what holds together most of the pain and negativity of society. Alcohol provides a temporary workaround, though it exacts a high price if one becomes dependent upon it to relax into one’s organic feelings. If the alternate is to panic at the surfacing of those feelings, you have a spiritual project ready and waiting for your attention, and you have some unusual resources to address it in the coming few seasons.

And Then There’s Saturn

Saturn is a less subtle influence than Pholus, and it’s one necessary to master, in its many different expressions. Saturn almost always represents the influence of parents and of authority figures in general. In Sagittarius and the 8th house, you are on a quest to truly understand the role of religion in your life.

Usually people gloss right over this. It’s a little like if someone gets sick and they don’t understand why, and the doctor can’t figure out why, and someone notices there’s a jug of floor polish that’s been left under the sink uncapped, and they say, “Oh, that’s just floor polish.”

Well, religion is not just religion. In nearly any form we know, it’s more like a psychic carcinoma that weakens and ultimately eats the mind. This includes any instance where unquestioned belief is accepted as truth. There are reasons people retreat into religion as their dominant operating system, most of which are about isolating oneself from the other possibilities.

For you personally, Saturn is associated with two houses that address authority: your 9th house (Capricorn) representing a morph of religious and parental authority; and your 10th house (Aquarius) representing a morph of parental, governmental and corporate authority. There is also a connection via Libra (where Saturn is exalted), which represents your work patterns, your health and what you do every day. Bosses and doctors can be forms of authority that are for you associated with the 6th house (Libra).

Saturn passing over the Galactic Core is about getting a handle on all of these influences, and remembering (in the words of the Hebrew National frankfurter commercial) that you answer to a higher authority: your own connection to spirit. I would propose that this is the time to question the ideas of any person claiming to represent God. The claim must be questioned, and the teachings made under that claim need to be questioned. This includes people who were the early stand-ins for God and Goddess (your parents), and anyone else who claimed total authority over you.

Questioned does not mean dismissed. Rather, questioned means evaluated on your own terms, with you and your inner source as the final arbiter of your personal truth. This is the essence of your maturing process. Your most fundamental understandings about life, death and sex are coming to the surface now, and you will be able to see the connection between those ideas, your authority figures, and your own growth process if you look.

The nature of Saturn work is becoming your own authority. People are conditioned to accept authority without question. Some rebel and claim authority that they do not have, and fail to recognize certain facts about where they stand within the spiritual hierarchy. That is to say, even though the priest who molested someone may have been full of shit, there is an actual reality of Goddess/God to which they are still subject, if for no other reason than their own vow of service. What A Course In Miracles calls “the authority problem” actually goes in two directions: falsely being subjected to some presumed power, and staying submissive to it; and claiming power that one is not entitled to. This is often a problem that spiritual teachers describe as ego, which is a split-apart facet of the mind that tries to take control over everything and everyone.

Saturn conjunct the Galactic Core will not stand for either of these options. You must accept your rightful place as the arbiter of your reality, within the larger bounds of reality. Start modestly; address subject matter as it comes up. Consider what you learn and experience in its widest context. Some things you had considered the absolute truth will dissolve before your eyes. Other things that you considered impossible will emerge as the obviously valid idea.

Two of the houses that Saturn represents in your chart deal with work, which can mean career or it can mean vocation. You are likely to get information and have specific experiences over the next few seasons that help you focus your mission. This will come as a result of your transformation process. In other words, you will tap into an energy flow that connects you with purpose, and the forms of your life will adapt to that purpose. It’s fast becoming time that what you’re paid for becomes what you’re made for.

You possess actual creativity, actual devotion and a strong tendency to be ethical. If you don’t let fear contaminate your mind, you will be able to connect these things in the form of your true vocation. If you are involved in what you consider to be your true vocation, you will have opportunities to go deeper and to bring in something that has the power to change you and change the world around you. That’s the mark of truth: it’s alive, it’s active, it’s provocative, and it compels you to establish an ongoing relationship with it. If something does not challenge you to grow or to create, it’s unlikely to be true in any meaningful sense of the word.

Let yourself be guided by purpose. By this I mean your actual purpose, higher purpose, inner purpose: you know, the real thing. If you ever feel lost or misguided, come back to purpose, which you will know when you feel it. Experiment all you need to. The more you experiment with bringing purpose and meaning to the surface of your consciousness, and consider them carefully, the more strength you will have; the more persistence; and more motivation and energy.

There’s one last thought where Saturn and the 8th house are concerned. We can’t overlook the nature of the 8th, or of Saturn, that involves the existential fact of physical death. Your 8th house transits, particularly involving Saturn, will help you clarify your views, and come to terms with the finite nature of time and your physical form in a way that you never have before, and which may surprise you.

Gemini and Virgo: The Mercury-Ruled Signs

We began with the Mercury-Sun conjunction on the day that the Sun enters your sign. This puts you into a close relationship with all things mercurial, including Gemini and Virgo. It’s the placement of these two signs that account for your mental restlessness, and the challenges you face bringing your mind under control. Taurus is one of the most mental signs.

Yes, Taurus is associated with comfort and wealth and nice things and tangible experiences, and it’s also a huge, astounding head-trip. Your ability to get that head-trip under control is one of the most significant factors in your ability to harness your creative force. I’ll keep this short, though I think you’ll appreciate having this information to work with.

Gemini is your 2nd solar house, or 2nd house by whole-sign houses if you are Taurus rising. The 2nd house is a direct extension of who you are. It represents your values; first and foremost, what you hold to be true. It also represents possessions including your body, your available resources including your money, the tools of your trade, and your sense of self-worth or self-respect.

It turns out that one of the most solid and physical signs has one of the most airy and ethereal 2nd houses. This helps explain why you really have to work to hold onto your money. Gemini flows; you need your money to stick. The best thing you can do is work with the flow: constantly skim from yourself, and deposit your savings into a bank account you don’t touch or even think about. Also, you need to invest in things of lasting value.

Finally, remember that your ideas are your most important resource, especially in a year with retrograde Mercury conjunct the Sun when the Sun enters your sign. This emphasizes all things Mercury this year.

The potential problem with such a prominent Gemini is that you may experience some real confusion about where you stand with yourself. You may have two distinct self-images, for example. There may be an aspect of yourself that you’re distinctly uncomfortable with, or some “alternative self” that lives within you. You may have competing values systems, such as being an ardent environmentalist and loving NASCAR.

With Gemini in this place, your inner conversation can never seem to end. Gemini is loquacious. This is one place to look for the quality of the perpetual inner dialog, especially when it comes to important decisions. However, you need criteria to use. You need some basic standards about what matters to you and why. You must learn from your experiences but not be bound by them. This may not be easy, though if you practice, you will master this skill. Know that you have a tendency to look at things from two points of view that can seem equal. Here is a clue: they are neither equal nor equivalent.

There will almost always be one correct answer to the question, if you’re truly being sensitive to yourself. When in doubt, give yourself time, but not forever: setting a deadline to make important decisions can be very helpful. It sets your mind to work. “I’ll decide this by Friday” can be a helpful maneuver.

The other Mercury-ruled house is trickier, and it’s come under a rare transit. That house is your 5th, which is about creativity and a certain experimental dimension of sex. The sign involved is Virgo. It’s not easy to have Virgo so directly imposed on your creative process, and this is where you pick up nearly all of your perfectionist tendencies. It has the feeling of having grown up too young, which is a factor with all the responsibility-oriented earthy signs.

There’s an old joke from The Onion: “Funyuns Still Outselling Responsibilityuns,” about a new snack food based on doing the right thing.

DALLAS — Funyuns, the world leader in artificial onion-ring-flavored and -shaped snack-food items, continues to enjoy an “overwhelming sales lead” over competing brand Responsibilityuns, the trade publication Impulse Purchase Quarterly reported Monday.

“I just don’t understand what went wrong,” said James Connell, CEO of Delayed Gratification Foods, the Dallas-based maker of the sober, salted snack. “Everybody knows that responsibility and self-reliance are virtues which, with patience and persistence, bring rewards far greater than the fleeting pleasure of instant gratification.

That’s a little what it’s like having Virgo on the 5th house. You need some instant gratification. You need to dig into a bag of Funyuns (in whatever form they may take for you), just because you like them. Remember! You now have Transpluto, an unusual and very slow-moving point, transiting your 5th house. It will be doing so for the next 70 years, so you’ll need to get used to it. Transpluto is like Virgo on performance-enhancing drugs. The challenge is to harness this power and to have fun being very, very good at something. You need to take childlike pleasure in getting lost in your work. And despite being good at whatever you do, it’s essential that you not judge your own performance. Just do what you do, as well as you can or as deeply as you can.

There is a genuine skill in creative mastery that involves standing back from judging what you’ve created. You might listen to what other people say; you might work until what you’re doing feels good; you might take a swashbuckling attitude and not care; you might trust the fact that you always strive to do better (or any of these at the right moment).

This same tendency also involves sex and how you feel about sexual partners. The sex connection to the 5th house is play. It’s true that sex has deep spiritual meaning to you, particularly with so much happening in your 8th house (Sagittarius, the other prominent zone of sex). Virgo is where you can let that go — if you can be less exacting, less concerned with hygiene, and let go and have some fun.

The truly Virgo approach to eroticism is to devote all experiences to healing, though it would be helpful if you devoted them to fun and pleasure first, and to healing second. For you they are aspects of the same thing.

Speaking of Sex: Venus and Mars Retrogrades

Mars was retrograde for much of 2016. Venus will make one of its rare retrogrades in early 2017. Both are active factors in your life. Retrograde means review. It also describes an introspective encounter of some kind; that is, some deep inward searching. There are often references to the past, and sometimes people from the past can show up in your life.

Let’s start with a quick review of Mars retrograde from mid-2016, which took place in Scorpio and Sagittarius: two signs in your chart most prominently associated with relationships.

Mars is the significator of important partners in your life, as the ruler of Scorpio, your opposite sign (also described as your 7th solar house). It stationed retrograde last spring in your cosmic-connection 8th house, Sagittarius. Then it retrograded into Scorpio, where you encounter partners, both business and intimate — but more often the emotional or sexual kind of partners.

The idea of Mars retrograde was bringing your deeper ideas about sex and existence (the ones we considered earlier in this reading) into your relationships. It’s possible to spend years with someone and not reveal your deeper sexual or spiritual truth; whatever occurred through 2016 made it much more likely that you would do so.

You may have discovered that it’s somewhat challenging to initiate others into what you know, or are figuring out. However, you really did not have much choice in the matter. You continue to explore this process. Being in relationship to you takes people deeper into themselves, often in ways they did not expect and could not predict. Everyone changes in the process. Note that I consider the 2016 Mars retrograde a kind of standing wave form. It’s not over. It’s a kind of semi-permanent feature in your chart, and represents an ongoing experience of teaching, learning, relationship exploration and erotic exploration.

The bottom line: making friends with desire, whether yours or that of people close to you. There was some element of religion involved in the Sagittarius phase, which probably meant receiving the message that your spiritual life and your erotic life are not mutually exclusive; far from it. For either one to be meaningful, they must be intertwined and mutually supportive. What does spiritual imply if not loving, and what does something as basic and existential as sex imply if not spiritual?

You don’t have to make this happen; you merely need to recognize what is so. Oh, and then, understand that you’re being called to live your truth openly. We learn more about that with Venus retrograde, which takes place between March 4 and April 15, though which in truth encompasses the first half of the year. This too will remain a standing wave pattern in your solar chart. The themes that emerge are not transient, but rather indicative of the work you’re doing on Earth in this lifetime.

You may also get a clue about a previous lifetime or two, given the houses and signs involved: Aries and Pisces.

One feature that’s always impressed me about the Taurus solar chart is that you have Aries in the 12th house. The most assertive and self-seeking sign is in the most veiled house in your chart. The 12th is like a parallel dimension. It’s a room within your consciousness that leads to another dimension. It’s where you go when you dream, or have vivid fantasies, astral experiences, déjà vu experiences, or when you trip on mushrooms or some other entheogen (formerly called hallucinogens). The 12th can also be accessed through transcendent sexual experiences and is specifically described in Vedic literature as the house of “the pleasures of the bed,” due to their parallel-world or alternate-reality nature.

Consider how potent it is to have Aries, the most bold and blatant sign, tucked into this other dimension. In my reading, the quest for yourself is what drives your life. It’s almost as if you’re involved in a passionate search for something you contain and are constantly discovering. This has been especially true first with Uranus, then the Uranus-Eris conjunction, taking place in Aries and your 12th house.

This is restless astrology; and in your 12th house, it’s as restless as it gets, and yet it’s driving you in some interesting directions and toward some exciting self-discovery. You may yet decide that this phase of your life, the Uranus-in-Aries era from 2010 through 2018, was the time when you really got to know yourself. It may not have felt like it at the time; you certainly have had your bouts with inner chaos and confusion. Yet you have deep motivation to sort yourself out.

Now, enter Venus retrograde. Venus is the planet associated with Taurus. (If you know nothing else about your natal chart, definitely find out the details on your Venus placement: house, sign and aspects).

Venus will be passing back and forth between Aries and Pisces. Then Venus will ingress Taurus on June 6, and will enter Gemini on July 4. So, including this most essential passage through your own sign, during which you will do much of the integration work, I am counting the Venus retrograde phase as extending from now through July 4.

Let’s look at this closely: Pisces is your 11th house. This is where you relate to the public, whether it’s your circle of friends, the people who follow you on social media, or your readers, viewers or listeners if you’re in the media. The 11th describes how you relate to the wider world, and how you feel when you are visible to others.

Venus will then transit into your 12th house, where you have a relationship with yourself that only you know about. There, you seem to make a discovery of some kind, which is related to the recent and ongoing fireworks in Aries (Uranus, Eris and other points). You may have the experience of soul retrieval, or making contact with a much earlier version of yourself — someone you will be happy to make contact with, or at least feel grateful because of the healing possibility involved.

Then something interesting happens: Venus goes from the secluded world of the 12th into the wide-open world of the 11th, Pisces. This is a kind of coming-out party. What you discover about yourself while Venus is in Aries, stationing retrograde in Aries, and traveling retrograde in Aries, you will be called upon to reveal in the 11th house. It’s as if you make an exceedingly personal discovery that you then must integrate into the openly expressed part of your personality.

In my definition of the word, this is a form of integrity — one that’s dearly necessary in the world and which you will find nourishing. Many facets of your chart describe a need to make your inner world consistent with your outer world, which is really another way of saying living in a way that is consistent with yourself.

It’s difficult to describe how good this feels, though you may have prior experiences that give you a clue. The main experience is that of relieving a pressure differential between your inner consciousness and your outer consciousness, which really means within regions of your own mind. It’s an incredible relief to live with the privilege of being who you are, with everyone, all the time. This compartmentalization thing that so many people do so casually is a bigger problem than we admit or acknowledge. Many fields of healing feel that it’s miasmic: that is, inner inconsistency and the need to cover up anything about yourself is a kind of disease root. Once you start to live openly and that pressure is off you, you can feel that evaporate.

There’s one other factor: you seem to be involved in some kind of group initiation. This is a different kind of leadership: leadership by being a catalyst, which is engaged by the gesture of being who you are. How you feel about yourself influences everyone around you, and many people far beyond you. Therefore, celebrate your life. Celebrate your existence. Offer yourself to life. Be grateful for that privilege.


Chart for Taurus.

2 Responses to The Crucible of Transformation

  1. Eric Francis gets Taurus like Melissa McCarthy gets Sean Spicer. “The most mental sign”? Who else says that, plus connects it to the air signs (and Virgo) with such clarity? The reading beautifully sets up the upcoming Venus retrograde. Spending an hour with these pages offers gentle encouragement toward self-acceptance, expression, and leadership, tailored to the energies of the year ahead.

  2. Alison says:

    I read this at the beginning of the year and again just now. To be honest, I didn’t truly understand it then but only fully appreciate that now after having experienced it. Incredibly insightful. Thank you.

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