Ten Years Later


There would have been no astrobarry (at least not in the form you've grown accustomed to) had there been no 9/11. At least that's how I conceive of it.

On September 11, 2001, I made the private unspoken decision to quit my job as General Manager of a successful niche consumer-goods company and devote myself to astrology full-time. Though it took me more than six months to extricate myself cleanly (meaning: to not leave in a huff, unprepared, with my responsibilities left dangling for others to deal with), that day served as the critical pivot-moment.

Early on the morning of the 11th, I was awakened by a call from my Customer Service Manager (and friend), who told me to turn on the TV, apprise myself of the news, and then give her a call back to let her know our plans for the workday. Within about five minutes of digesting the images I was watching, I settled on the no-brainer decision: Once at the office, I would send my employees home for the day.

Yet, when I arrived at work, the owner of the company (and my direct boss) smugly informed me that, in his eyes, I had made the wrong decision. He, whose only television-set was presently in storage in his garage, had not seen the televised images. He rattled on with some platitudes about Winston Churchill and not letting the enemies win, then had me call the few employees who'd already gone home and tell them to return to work immediately. For the duration of the day, the office was a daze of shellshocked grief, the usual nonstop ring of our 1-800 sales line silent. It's not like anybody was dialing our customer-service number to order products on the afternoon of Sep 11, 2001. And I, charged with managing my grieving staff, felt powerless to do anything to ease their pain, such as allowing them to process this news in the privacy of their own homes. Only by the very end of the workday, as my co-workers were beginning to clock out, had my boss happened to glance at a few online pictures of that morning's events and mutter to me something to the extent of, 'Wow, this was really a big deal, huh?'

After this experience, I knew in my heart I could no longer work for this man, as he'd demonstrated such a lack of compassion for the fine folks whose daily efforts paid his bills. Despite the story I've just relayed, I do not think my former boss is a bad man… merely someone so wrapped up in his version of reality, he was totally oblivious to anybody else's.

That day, I also hit upon an increased urgency to step up to the plate and dedicate my professional energy toward something I felt would help make the world a better place. Selling items with no personal meaning to me, to reap profit for someone who obviously didn't share my values, was no longer going to cut it. Life was too short to continue biding my time. The world was starting to look increasingly crazier, from the new altered view afforded by September 11th. The wake-up call compelled me to take a leap and dive fully into astrology, a means for helping share compassionate insight so that others might find their inspiration to take a leap toward a more meaningful life for themselves, right alongside me. I launched astrobarry.com in May 2002. I never forget how fortunate I have been, with many blessings to help me do this; many people's life-situations make it much harder for them to take such leaps.

Surely the contemplative among us have all pondered why such terrible events like 9/11 happen, and I'm not talking about the relatively superficial political explanations. I deem the politics 'superficial' in the sense that a rather small sliver of powerful and/or radical individuals are engaged in effecting the actual moves (e.g., the imperialist policymaking, the terrorist retaliations, the corporate opportunity-exploiting), though a much wider swath of the populace suffers the consequences. On the larger, dare-I-say spiritual level, I believe these events occur to startle our consciousness into starker realization of what's actually happening in our lives… what really matters to us, and what doesn't… and, since life's shortness is thrust so sharply in our faces, what changes we should make if we want to enjoy greater satisfaction as soon as possible during the remainder of our days, never knowing how much longer to expect. It is the discontinuity spawned, between everything that's come before and that critical moment after which nothing will ever be the same, that reveals insightful glimpses of possibility—if we are brave enough to see beyond the shock and pain.

Much has changed in this country (and the world) over the past decade. Perhaps the most glaring difference, in my thinking, is a much-magnified obviousness of our governing bodies' lack of care for its citizenry, and the corrupt and inhumane maneuvers taken to serve the narrow greedy interests of our rich and powerful leaders. None of these qualities are new to governments and their corporate allies, or to humankind itself, of course. And yes, maybe I had been too idealistic and/or na´ve before 9/11. But from the moment everything went down that day, I've had a distinct feeling in my gut that the 'official' story fed to us does not even come to close to answering all the unsettling questions… and that so much unjustifiable harm has been done, to innocent civilians around the world, through deceptions perpetrated in the name of our nation.

I am not one for conspiracy theories (because I usually assume people aren't organized and clever enough to pull off the conspiracies attributed to them), nor will I catalogue any of the number of specific details that still don't make sense about what happened on 9/11 and after (because the Internet is full of folks, some reasonable and some quackish, who have already done so). Instead, I'll simply state some general feelings: I trust the government and its motives far less than I did ten years ago… I no longer believe those officially charged with governing are interested in serving me, as public servants should… and that we, as individuals, must become increasingly responsible for taking charge of our own destinies, whether through smaller personal-as-political lifestyle choices or big dramatic gestures. I wish I didn't think those in power were actively working against our interests, to impair and handicap the average citizen and ease their mass-control techniques, but I do. I also sense many many many of my fellow humans have, over the past decade, endured similarly deepening confrontations with this darker reality, which seems harder than ever to ignore.

Yet, with fuller consciousness of both the light and the dark (both of which will always comprise reality, and which actually need each other, by definition, to exist), I feel more hope than ever. I am ten years older and wiser—wisdom I've earned through, among other experiences, creating a dynamic astrology practice and another thriving metaphysical business (The Sacred Well), which continue to grow and develop in ever-stimulating ways. And my life choices are aligned more closely and consciously with what I authentically believe, rather than having merely been inherited from a series of chance happenings.

The astrological signature we'll always associate with 9/11 was that period's Saturn-Pluto opposition, an aspect that forefronts the necessity of facing (Saturn) any unintegrated shadow-material linked with our driving psychological complexes, the will to (and the abuse of) power, and the oft-seamy underbelly of human relations (Pluto). Saturn and Pluto opposed across the Gemini-Sagittarius axis, where we contrast our relative and/or partial notions of reality (Gemini) with the concept of Absolute Truth (Sagittarius). As a result of what happened on 9/11 and after, we were pushed up against the limits of whatever we had told ourselves to tidily rationalize our perspective—which was only always part of the story—through encounters with fundamentalists (of various religious and ideological stripes) whose totalizing black-and-white thinking forced many of us further to one side or another. We experienced an intensified pressure to actually live according to our beliefs, as it became harder to ignore all the ramifications of tacitly endorsing a particular regime's narrative.

Ten years later, our collectively intensified beliefs have left us staring each other down across this starkly polarized landscape: 'us' over here, 'them' over there. 'You're either with us or against us,' a former president laid it down. Only, as Pluto now continues his cathartic purging in Capricorn, the sign of governing authority and capitalist structure (as well as the US's natal Pluto sign), we cannot help but see how the official 'us' is little more than a privileged elite furiously clutching to its accumulated power—and we have become their 'them', an inconvenient and costly obstacle to further accumulation. Uranus in Aries, in square to Pluto, says we must reclaim this 'us' for ourselves, individual by individual, one rebellious, risky and innovative act at a time… to liberate our spirits from participatory surrender to any system that doesn't play by our cherished values. That, my friends, is the land of the free.