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tandaTristan and Isolde re-incarnate during Saturn in Libra.

This weekend is shaping up to be one of the most potent, multi-disciplinarian and potentially prophetic weekends in quite sometime. It starts off with Friday the 13th. Here is a link to my piece around the significance of this day, especially as it relates to the Knights Templars and Masons. It’s quickly followed by the exact square between Pluto and Saturn as well as the sixth night (Baktun cycle) of The Mayan calendar, as interpreted by Carl Calleman. He has November 15th circled off on his version of the calendar’s interpretation as being a major trigger point, which will basically send us into the linear accelerator of change; The CERN of the collective soul, up through March 8th, 2011, which would then trigger the last 260 day cycle, as Calleman sees it. In essence, we’re about to shoot the rapids of transformation, but that is still almost a week off and we need to revisit an earlier series of posts about the re-calibration and re-balancing of the male/female dynamic.

My last two posts on the subject (here and here) were met with mostly positive response, some criticism and some questions. In the series of comments that followed the two posts, I think we sorted through some of the confusion and grey areas. In this final edition, we’ll look at the male/female dynamic from mytho-poetic perspective, how it relates to the scientific breakdown of the bi-cameral spirit and the impact of people born under the influence of Pluto in Libra.

Robert Johnson wrote a series of short, yet brilliant works on the male/female dynamic from the Jungian perspective. The books, “He,” “She” and “We” look at the archetypal power of relating as a romantic narrative, using the tale of “Tristan” and “Isolde” as the ultimate, tragic model for how we relate as men and women. To understand this, we must have some perspective and insight into the age of romance.

The Birth Of The Courtier

The age of romance took place mostly during the period of the crusades (10-1100′s), when writers like Chretien de Troyes composed tales for ladies of the court. In De Troyes case, it was Marie Of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitane. He was a courtier and although he is often credited for being the father of the modern novel, it was he and others like him, that titilated and entertained the ladies of the court while their husbands were off slaughtering Saracens in the name of Christ, while plundering the vaults of the holy land, uncovering Solomonic secrets that would allow them to eventually rival the churches power. During this period, when the quote-un-quote “real men” were away, doing “God’s” work, the eunuch’s, monks and poets serviced the ladies of the courts and it is here, where we begin to develop the whole notion or romantic or “courtly love.” It was courtly because it was the upper ranks of the nobility, which had idle time on their hands to create a dream world where love became something of a luxury. The lower classes mind you, were also busy servicing the ladies of the courts as well, but mostly by toiling in fields and farms to provide food or taxes. Let’s just say that their love was far less glamorous and courtship usually centered around heifers and quilts, both literally and figuratively.

The Collective Chemistry Of Love

It’s here, during the season of the poet, the time of the “chanson de amore” that we as a culture spawn not only the ideal of romantic love, but begin to build the individual and collective neural networks and ensuing peptide cocktails that fuel the whole notion of romantic love, because if there is one thing that we’ve learned it’s that love and the act of falling in love is a rush, and it’s a rush of Phenylethylamine and Oxytocin which then floods the body and the endocrine system, stimulating the need for contact, going deeper for more release of Dopamines, and ultimately culminating in the sexual act and thus the continuation of the species. Love and sex had obviously happened before the age of romance, but the chemical release was no doubt different, especially with the huddled masses, which likely evolved a less complicated alignment of receptor sites and neuropeptides, but nonetheless, did the trick. However, these new feelings associated with romance, were far more complex, heightened blasts of brain chemistry, fueled by evocative language and gilded imagery; illuminated manuscripts, lutes and harps, all provided the swooning backdrop for a far more complex assemblage of emotional and hormonal states. It was actually the birth of the rock star as well, as the “trouvère” or “troubadour,” strummed his way into the hearts of maidens noble and fair.

Over time, it became a cultural standard, a model that would be branded into our DNA like a line of code moving forward into the future. Arranged marriages would occur (and still do), from perch of nobility to the ranks of the common man, and yet the idea that the heart, an ideal, an image of divine love descending into the affairs of men and women took on greater and greater power, where it ultimately takes flight in the post-Victorian world. In the 20th century, the ideal of romantic love has become the standard of our experience around the concept of personal love, for better or worse.

Tristan and Isolde, The Romantic Blueprint

The first versions of this love story are told by two different French authors from the latter half of the twelfth century, Thomas and Beroul. The complete works of both men are missing, but enough exists to see two, distinct styles at work. Beroul is much more “realistic” and even brutal while Thomas is more interested in the inner workings of the two characters which is much more in line with the courtly tradition (ironically, De Troyes supposedly wrote his own version, which he alludes to in other works), but it’s the version by Sir Thomas Mallory, written in 1479 that captured the imagination of Europe, especially as it relates to The Arthurian legends. Tristan and Isolde are the precursors to Lancelot and Guinevere.Those unfamiliar with the tale would do well to read it. Buried in the romantic picaresque is the formula for romantic and forbidden love in the west, the heroes journey and the psychic quest for healing and union of the male/female psyche. I won’t go into elaborate detail, but essentially, Tristan is a harpist (also curiously known as “Tantris” when he plays the harp), a dragon slayer and a knight with noble intent. Early in the story, he kills Isolde’s uncle, “Morgan,” who had earlier killed Tristan’s father while Tristan was still in his mother’s womb. She later finds this out, but only before Tristan must fight a senseschal to prove his worth in the court of Isolde. Tristan had been sent there to win Isolde over for his uncle, the much older King Mark and bring her back for him as part of an arranged marriage. Tristan is no mere mortal. He can speak seven languages and was trained in the arts of nobility by his uncle. But ultimately he would participate in an act of betrayal which would haunt both Tristan and Isolde throughout their lives.

Tristan as a male archetype sets the bar extremely high. He is all that a woman, enveloped in the ardor of romantic love would want. But he also has a wound that re-occurs throughout the tale, reminiscent of The Fisher King, but it’s only Isolde who can heal his wound. His wound of course is psychic and while he has the outward manifestation of courage and nobility, his would is his vulnerability. In many ways, this also resembles Christ’s wound from the spear of Longinus as well. The wound in many ways also represents the feminine in Tristan and it is only through the loving care of Isolde that it is periodically healed.

One of the key factors in this tale, which brings us back to the brain chemistry of love is a magical love potion. While en route to King Mark’s palace, journeying by sea, Isolde is thirsty and drinks a love potion specifically made for her and her future king, thus ensuring their attraction and happiness. Tristan drinks the potion as well and they fall madly in love at sea, the symbolic representation of the roiling sub-conscious. Tristan and Isolde consumate their chemical longings before they touch land. The potion represents the rush of love, the excitation of brain chemistry in heightened states. In Beroul’s version, the potion wears off after three years and Tristan and Isolde face each other in shame, realizing that they were living in sin.

Robert Johnson explores the male psyche through Tristan in “He” and the female psyche of Isolde in “She.” He deconstructs relationship in general in “We” also based on the tale of the two romantic lovers. In “We” Johnson focuses on the moment when the potion runs out. He likens this to the first ninety days of a relationship when people are in the “oneness” phase, dissolving boundaries and co-mingling psyches. This is the falling in love phase. After ninety days, Johnson says something happens and people begin to disentangle after the effects of the potion dissolve. That’s when the real work in relationship begins. Many trysts never make it past the 90 day mark and if they do, then they are walking through an elaborate hall of mirrors in order to find self and other again.

Saturn In Libra–Sobering Up From The Potion Of Love

In the first two series of these posts I looked at the re-balancing of the male and female, re-claiming their own masculinity and femininity from a new place, one that honors the original, organic, impulse of each sex. Here we’re looking at Saturn in Libra also representing the effects of the potion wearing off on a collective level. The final bloom of romantic love and it’s ideal is falling from love’s nearly barren stem. In some ways, Saturn in Libra, with all of it’s practical and sober realizations regarding relationships will at first cast a cynical glare at the state of relating, especially from those that suffered most, which is the generation of kids that grew up under the shadow of Pluto in Libra. This is “Generation X” or “Ex” as in ex-husband or ex-wife. These kids, now adults went through a period that had the highest divorce rate on the books. Most grew up in single parent households. For them, they saw the love potion evaporate before their very eyes. Now, they’ll revisit those wounds as Saturn touches their natal Pluto(s). It will reanimate their grief and pain and bring their current relationships under greater scrutiny. For the rest of us, dealing with the onset of what is likely oncoming, economic hardship, the lightness of relating and the atmosphere of romance will hold far less sway. Glamor will take a back seat to practicality. In many ways, relationships will return to more pragmatic states under Saturn in Libra and that may not be all that bad. What might have a chance to emerge is something very new, a version of love that’s a distilled synthesis of the dross of romanticism and something that allows us to see one another in a real and authentic light, not because we have given up on the ideal of love, but because the layers of illusion are being stripped away, like old coats of paint, ultimately revealing will be the unvarnished beauty of our souls.

10 Responses to “Saturn In Libra, Generation Ex, Tristan And Isolde, The Culmination Of Romantic Love”
  1. Just wonderful. I love the idea of Libra love, a balance of heart and logic. You are absolutely right about Generation X, too. It has swayed in one direction for far too long, and now it’s time to balance everything out.

    You know, I went through a rough dating period a couple of years back. My husband’s closest friend didn’t like me. At all. I wasn’t “good enough” because I wasn’t educated or in possession of a prestigious title or well off. It made me suffer for a while, until my husband let his friend go and made me understand that he didn’t need that superficial stuff. What mattered was that we were both hard workers with great hearts who brought out the best in each other, he said.

    It’s been a tough road, but the past year has been exquisite for the two of us. My husband climbed in his profession, and so did I. I’m even at a place now where I can return to school and finish my degree with no concerns or setbacks. We dated for over five years and in a couple of weeks, we’ll celebrate our first wedding anniversary :). I’m nearly in joyous tears here, but I’ll confidently declare that we’ve honestly never been happier or more professionally settled in our lives.

    Bring on the Libra. It feels great!

  2. Great post, as usual… My wife and I are both of the Pluto in Libra generation, and we are both coming out of our Virgo in Saturn returns. Tristan has always been my favorite knight of the round table. I remember reading Le Morte d’Arthur in high school for English class. I was at home sick for about a week… I think it was a bad case of strep throat, but all I really remember was that it was one of of those timeless, out of this world experiences where all I did was lay in bed, reading Malory cover to cover. In retrospect, it laid the groundwork for my future spiritual endeavors; my magical studies; my foray into the world of witchcraft, paganism, and druidry; and ultimately my departure from the comfort of that inner circle for the pathless land of truth.

    My relationship with my wife has not been unlike that of Tristan and Isolde. I was shy. She was my first kiss, my first real girlfriend, and our romance was as intoxicating to me as any potion. I turned my back on my friends and finished school early so I could spend more time with her. We married young. We did all the things that people more experienced in love would advise us not to do. I would change nothing, for I love her as Pluto loves Persephone.

    After Tristan and Isolde’s love is discovered by King Mark, they escape to the Forest of Morrois, where they manage to sustain themselves in the untamed wild. I believe in this life, at this time, we are entering that forest now. Love can, and will, sustain us.

  3. Thanks for sharing your success story. We need more positive examples of this type of balanced and loving interchange taking place. Don’t be a stranger.

  4. Great reply John. Your road less traveled has really paid dividends for you. The idea of the Morrois Forest is a really interesting one. Morrois as you might know is a derivation of “Morris” which is descended from St. Mauritze, who was an Egyptian soldier that defied orders to slaughter Christians. He was killed for his dereliction of duty and was eventually made a saint. He was of course dark and his name eventually morphed into Morris/Moorish so the Morrois Forest is literally “The Dark Forest.” Perhaps the three-year-period alluded to in Tristan and Isolde might be more prophetic than we know.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing, I was born in the Pluto in Libra generation and the influences of Saturn in Libra that you highlighted has helped me to understand some of the challenges that I have faced and am facing in relationships, especially in my love relationship.
    I do have one question, I was born with my Saturn in Libra in the 12th house as well and I was curious about how a Saturn in Libra at this time effects, would it be something like a double impact of this influence? It would be awesome if you could shed some light on my question. Many thanks again!

  6. Saturn in the 12th house is a placement that usually denotes loneliness. People with 12th house Saturn almost always feel some form of incompleteness and having a hole in their lives that needs to be filled. They can be quite capable and even have very normal relationships, but few people know their pain and the extent of it. As a result, they must retreat at times to a safer place inside themselves to renew their faith. Saturn in the 12th house usually augurs a lifetime where people need to have a direct experience of God on some level so that they can be in the world. It’s a set up. No matter what happens, you’re called to go deeper and it’s usually by yourself. The irony with Libra is that it is so focused on the other, so you would retreat from relationships when they get too close to your issues and would pull back to find the deeper reasons, the true understanding of feeling separate and separation.

    During your Saturn Return, your fears of abandonment in relationship will rise to the surface. These are projections of something deeper and more archetypal, like the abandonment of God, loss of faith, etc. When you go through this phase you will be challenged to understand this at a deeper level and know that no relationship can fill the void of your heart like the pure love of the divine agency that moves through all of us. Once you begin to experience this on the inner planes, you’ll begin to ease your fears of being left alone or behind and you will change the emphasis for relating to others. When this occurs, you will be free to be in relationship or not and it will be about choice versus pattern and compulsion. The beauty of it is that you can have the opportunity to also connect with someone that you can go to those deep, inner realms, together, but first, you’ll need to literally, face your fears of being abandoned on all levels.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Thank you so much for taking time to reply my question, it has provided wonderful insights and pointed me into the direction in which I can more deeply examine and work on myself on the level of relationships and relating to the other. :D

  8. I am reading this post at a pretty funny time in my life. Although my relationship is at an all time high, as we got married this weekend, yesterday alone, I found out about 5 breakups. All of them long term relationships. The most heart breaking is that of my brother and his wife. Apparently, she decided that she does not love him anymore. The whole family is reeling from this. This time makes me scared about my best-friend’s 9 year relationship which has been on the fritz from the day it began. Could this be make or break time for many couples? I cannot believe this is happening. Then again, her parents split when she was young.

    It’s funny that John mentioned Pluto and Persephone as they are archetypes that my husband and I relate to deeply. Two years into the relationship, the veil lifted. I had many decisions to make. I left him in 2007 and it was the best decision of my life. He was stronger than I thought, and I was more dependent than I thought. Our relationship has always been one of destruction and rebirth. We have always been stronger each time around. I finally decided that we were, after all, a beautiful thing, and came to peace with our relationship and who we are…I think perhaps, I have found balance…I have no doubt in my mind that we are gonna make it.

    PS: from what year to what year is Pluto in Libra?

  9. Katrina, that was really inspiring, Thanks for putting that out there.

    1971 to 1983.

    Pluto in Libra.

  10. No prob :)

    Well I guess I just make the cut at 1982!

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