IT'S THE former English major and serial literature-lover in me. I can't stop myself from organizing the flow of my life into segmented phases, each a significant "chapter" of some great novel. I, the fearless protagonist, chop my life into chunks so I can better digest it and learn lessons from it. It makes for easier reading. Meanwhile, the final version won't be complete until I die. So I use my chapters as reference points to ensure my acts are moving me, slowly but surely, closer to a good ending.

I find that eclipses make for good chapter markers. Eclipses occur at regular intervals, in sets of at least one Solar and one Lunar, in conjunction with New and Full Moons respectively. During an eclipse, the flow of solar energy is temporarily blocked by the lineup of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon. Our earthly perspective is momentarily altered, as a different type of light or darkness is cast over our lives.

During eclipses, previously submerged issues rise straight to the surface, either through external events ("things happening to us") or from shifts in our consciousness ("us understanding things differently"). A narrative climax is reached. Our story is driven ahead. We move from one chapter to another.

Early on in a book, astute readers notice clues of what is to come, as certain careful phrases foreshadow future events. Likewise, an eclipse's effects are subtly observable weeks, even months, in advance—to those who care to notice. As inklings of change grow stronger toward the eclipse's peak, our comfort levels start stretching. We either accommodate or resist, though the latter is a futile tactic, forcing a greater struggle.

After the eclipse, effects linger for quite a while. The characters, who are us, spend the coming weeks and months adjusting to these recent plot twists. We assimilate the consequences into our new selves. This adjustment process colors the entire chapter, and it begins to fade in intensity just as the next eclipses approach.

Last week's solar eclipse (on June 10) demanded that we review the last few pages of our most recent chapter, an intense one to be sure. We must acknowledge the dramatically altered global scene before we can move on. This chapter was all about the Saturn-Pluto opposition and its dark, destructive, and yet ultimately transformational shadow. Since last summer, this heavy planetary aspect has been tearing down parts of our personal and collective selves that we might have preferred to leave quietly alone.

We were forced to listen to voices that maybe we never wanted to hear—and to realize that, behind those voices, are lives and experiences not only different than ours, but sometimes even defined against ours. This is a theme of Gemini, the current sign of Saturn: Multiplicity of viewpoints, relativity of truth. Opposed to Saturn is Pluto, hovering in Sagittarius, the archer with its arrow-sharp philosophies: Direct in focus, totalizing in vision. The pain we've endured reflects this conflict, inevitable when extremists refuse to make way for the lifestyles of others.

This recent solar eclipse occurred in conjunction with Saturn, the planet that grants us maturity… but only through difficult lessons and sometimes-harsh discipline. In a certain sense, then, this eclipse can be seen as a metaphorical Saturn return for us. We must face the fact that we are adults. We separate from mothering myths that have kept us safe and sheltered. And we impose limits on ourselves in order to focus our energies on hard work with personal meaning.

Our next chapter begins with the theme of rebuilding. Rebuilding, that is, done with a variety of hands—some different than our own, all still marred from recent injury yet stronger in compassion. As the Saturn-Pluto opposition finally separates, some of the deep darkness lifts, though hard work remains. When we see the light of progress at the end of a tunnel, it's tempting to revert to familiar unhealthy patterns. Sometimes, situations even get a little worse before we finally move through them. Maybe there are still more structures needing to crumble.

Spanish tile roofs can be so attractive, so reminiscent of los pueblos.

These have been serious times indeed, calling for plenty of mourning in the light of new painful truths. With Mars and Jupiter moving toward alignment in Cancer, now is a good time for healing and nurturing these deep open wounds. Don't be distracted by loud contradictory public debates. Mercury is direct now (click here to read about its recent retrograde), so we can't blame our fear on confusion. It takes courage and intuitive astuteness to ignore shallow gravel and find water in the rocks.

On a lighter note: Summer is coming! It's no accident that John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John sing about those "summer nights" in their carefree "Grease" duet (I mean, try to imagine "Winter lovin', had me a blast…"). The morning of Friday, June 21 welcomes the hot and sultry season, followed for emphasis by a lunar eclipse on June 24, highlighted by Venus in Leo opposing Neptune. This could be an extra romantic one! Stay tuned...