On occasion I have written about the phenomenon I call “eating the heart”–self-judgment and depression. Most of the time I can see that there is no real cause for this mood–no real reason to feel depressed, or reason for self-flagellation, so I just let it be. Some of the time I resist it because it robs me of feeling good about myself and being happy in the world. And all of the time I don’t much care for it. What I haven’t done is to embrace it.
What the ancients called “coming into Saturn,” or being Saturn’s Child is an expression of soul as much as is happiness. For me, depression and self-judgment has provided the energy to look deeper into the meaning of my life and to explore what it means to be fully human. I don’t want to make my shadow a friend, but I don’t want to ignore, or deny it either. Being whole and complete means to embrace (and accept responsibility for) everything that you are and are not. I don’t want to be a shallow personality, but this has a price in that more often than I care to I fall under Saturn’s spell.
Is it possible that depression is not always an evil neurosis to be mechanically controlled through medication and/or counseling? It is possible that the soul is more than just goodness and purity, that it is dark fantasy as well. It is also possible that the process of depression is similar to an alchemist’s crucible where what you are becomes ground and reduced into the essence of being.
Sometimes people need a dark and shaded place to withdraw to and allow the perfectly legitimate feelings of depression to have free reign. Sometimes the act of resisting this natural element of what we are can entrench it and over time cause it to become pathological.
Depression can be a gift in that it causes one to evaluate the life they’re living–it causes them to go deeper and to begin to ask the fundamental questions of, “who am I and what is my purpose?”
What happens when we resist Saturn?
In our society we spend a lot of time and money entertaining ourselves so to not experience this part of our soul, our humanity, our essence. I think when we suppress anything for too long it begins to express itself in aberrant ways. Denying a part of the soul causes it to ‘act out’ in order to be expressed. We can see this acting out all around us through violence, both verbal and physical.
Religious zealots who’ve mistakenly assumed that one is either good or evil become evil themselves through resistance to the reality that each of us is both Christ and Satan, spirit and ego. Denying a part of oneself is being less than whole and this leads one to fear, and fear can lead us to act in small ways such as to hate or kill what we fear. We see the results of this misunderstanding of how big we really are and the denial of the shadow in the violence sewn by Muslim fanatics such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Christian hate mongers such as the Westboro Baptist Church people. As with the denied, or unconscious aspects of ourselves, rigid dichotomies frequently lead us to all kinds of intolerant and aberrant behaviors.
If God is indeed the unlimited source of all there is, then any limitation becomes a sin– a missing the mark. Fear is a limited perspective also and is seldom a positive emotion to act out of. It may have served us well when we huddled in our caves, but it often gets in the way in the modern age. Defining God too narrowly is also a sin of limited perspective, as is doing hateful things in his name. All of this misses the point of the fundamental unity that a broader perspective generates.