The Profection Project: Documenting life through the lens of astrology and ancient timing techniques

*From the Places of the Union and Bad Daimon

 Trigger warning:

The following post recounts raw and dark emotional experiences that might feel too heavy or intense for some readers. Please proceed at your own discretion.

 

The place of isolation can become the place of revelation.— Steven Furtick

The walls of our darkened room are spinning. Faint patterns and small otherworldly-looking creatures are sprawled across the ceiling and I stare, trying to remember where (or sometimes who) I am. The visual sensation is often similar to pressing your fingers onto your closed eyelids which produces black and white vibrating patterns of dots. At best, my exhaustion has carried me to a state of trance-like awareness. At worst, I’m just delirious.

L’s breathy moans and outreached arms call for me above the sound of ocean waves playing from the white noise machine, and I prop onto my knees to pick him up to switch sides of the bed with him, offering him the other breast. On a good night we do this three to four times. There are about three good nights for every five hard nights which demand that I rise from the dead from as little as eight times to as much as every thirty minutes (or less). The worst nights have been answering the cries at every 10 minutes.

The research that states that new parents only get around six hours of sleep a night baffles me because six hours of sleep sounds unrealistic these days. Despite my chronic sleep-deprived stupor, the number of unbroken sleep cycles never adds up to a generous six hours. Given that some sleep research has been done on this, I wonder how many parents can relate? I imagine much has yet to be revealed!

Seventeen months into this trip called motherhood has taught me how to function relatively well on an average of four hours of broken sleep and a strong cup of tea or coffee… but the lack of shut-eye shows in my dull complexion and I swear my body and skin have aged by at least eight years in the span of one. My hair has thinned, my joints fragile, my muscles taut, and my bones ache.

But every morning, the juicy picture of youth and beauty beams from my son’s cherub face as he smiles up at me with promises of new adventures and lessons on the meaning of life. How am I so blessed to call this little human my son?! In such a short time, this person’s existence has shown me that I’m just beginning to understand what life is about. Yet never have I contemplated mortality as much as I have since this induction into motherhood.

Never have I pondered death [and suffering] as much as I have during the last year—for what is sleep, but a microcosmic death which we happily fall to each night? Authors like Shakespeare and John Steinbeck knee well that, “Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother". And it has been an elusive experience I’ve craved in the last seventeen months. A small death. A nightly death. A peaceful, welcome death to bookend the stretches of waking moments.

This is the stuff of my twelfth house profection year

Traditionally, the twelfth house is the place of the bad daimon. And daimon translates to demon as in spirit or genius... a recognized concept amongst Plato and other philosophers, theurgerists, astrologers, and practitioners of magic that is still being written about today, many millennia later. Conceptually, the bad daimon is one of the entities that is assigned to us at birth. It is the a spiritual force that guides us towards our fate, for better or worse. Much like an angel it watches over us, but rather than protecting us, it steers us towards the places that are most difficult for us to experience. It challenges us with struggle, projections, fear, heaviness, and darkness. It is the inner voice, often an inner critic, that inclines (perhaps compelling some) us toward thoughts and behaviors that can be self-destructive (at worst) and profoundly transformational.

The twelfth house is traditionally known as a place of isolation-- where we feel alone. A state that is often feared and evaded, but can also be a major catalyst for our ability to grow down into the world as psychotherapist James Hillman was known for pointing out. My chance to grow much further down into the world came as the self-sacrifice that is required of parents (especially mothers in our society) to tend to the grand canyon of needs their children present. I'm quite fortunate that my time in the twelfth house year revolved around my blessed role as a mother; but overlooking the psychic torture (what many refer to as the dark night of the soul) is akin to denying the importance of mental well-being.

Looking back, the last twelve months have been put into a clearer context for me when I acknowledge that my strife is mirrored by the hidden treasures of the twelfth house.

The thing I most feared, the thing I evaded for 28 years came to be… and yet, motherhood has been the greatest thing that ever came of my life thus far. Lady Fortune has blessed me indeed.

The sleep deprivation that accompanies the early years of parenthood is unquestionably the hardest part and easily trumps much of the insufferable experiences one knew before it. I’d experienced exhaustion from only having a few hours of sleep a night due to a very common, but intense insomnia in my last two trimesters of pregnancy. I’d pulled all-nighters in college writing from sundown to sunup before running to school to turn in papers; I’d stayed up to binge watch shows before. I’d known what it meant to feel “tired”… but there are no words to define the sleep deprivation that befalls new parents. That is, the kind where you struggle for sixty seconds to uncross your eyes when you open them after a short burst of sleep to soothe your needy infant at the crack of dawn, day after day after day.

Before the responsibility of children, we tend to get chances to sleep and recover from our tiring all-nighters… But once your commit to caring for another human, there’s a large degree of life-energy to inevitably surrender. Acting as the vessel that would birth my child into existence, as we know it, is an enormous privilege and magical feeling. Different families have varying degrees of support from the people and communities around them, so my story obviously doesn’t paint everyone’s picture. But after the loss of copious amounts of vital fluids, blood, and the life that flowed through them…after the visceral sacrifices… comes more sacrifice. Unlike my relatively care-free college days, when I could seek rest and recovery in a multitude of forms and almost whenever I wanted, parenthood requires a state of awareness that even the caffeine Gods have trouble supplying.

Needless to say, the lack of energy and overall crisis that parenting bestows on coupled parents engenders a degree of fragility for even the most solid of partnerships.  And this became part of my personal astro exploration from 2018-2019 as my 7th house was also activated by profection (from the ascendant). Though fortunate in the relationship department, I was confronted with the feelings and challenges of our evolving partnership dynamic. With Jupiter in this sector of the chart, and Mars ruling it in the 3rd, differences in perspective often quickly escalated to heated confrontations... starved of sleep, far from a network of support, and exasperated by the exhausting tasks that consumed our days and nights-- created a mental rift that challenged our ability to connect deeply. Our energetic conversations, our collaborative drive to explore and share visions had evaporated. For months, the act of relating to one another in the way we did pre-parenthood felt…foreign.  Each of us overwhelmed in different ways made it difficult to reach out for the other’s hand and see the stars in the dark. Passing through Mars’s domain presented us with scenarios where we found ourselves competing to be “right” and striving to overcome the other as if we were enemies rather than partners. For those that aren’t astrologically informed, Mars is a planet of strife, anger, separation, and war. I felt all of those things. The burn out led to anger. The separation from most of the world made me feel caged and lonely and unhinged. Sometimes forgotten. The struggle to keep up with just the basics felt like a battleground every day and night. I cried a lot, and sadly I grew to resent my partner for the identity that I was grieving. I craved a bit of "normalcy" and adult interaction.

Mars is a planet of blood, sweat, and tears which was made evident during its most significant transits of the year through Aries (its own sign) and Aquarius (where it went retrograde). Those were some of the hardest weeks which thrust me into the most grueling of sleep deprivation. The days and nights where I squatted vigorously and rhythmically, up and down, to get L to sleep. Every day. Every night… my thighs would be on fire and the sweat would trickle down my spine. I’d close my eyes and dig deep within myself to keep it together. Deep breath, push forward…

But Mars is also a planet that symbolizes effort, motivation, and passion (and it does swing both ways, doesn’t it?).  Both sides of the spectrum were activated during the last year, but at the end of the period, the hardship gave way to the expansive energy our partnership stands for. Jupiter—a planet of expansion and unity— can be seen auspiciously exchanging signs with hot-headed and righteous Mars in my personal time-slice. Its presence in the place of union (7th house) demonstrated the pay-off and the hope that buoyed us through sacrifice we made together when we uprooted ourselves from our home and family (with our new-born) to seize an opportunity. To return home, near family and friends (our supportive network) was a longing we’d felt the entire journey. To be embraced so that we might have a sliver of time and energy to engage in more self-care; to feel the warmth of the sunlight together; and mostly, to be liberated from the survival mode that we were living with our people living 1500 miles away. Though the difficult was exaggerated as our freedom felt like it had been stripped away under the weight of adulting [level 5] in a foreign place, but the reward was equally significant on multiple levels as we experienced our bonds forged in fire!

So why do I go to such lengths to share this in such detail with you? Because this profection year struck me hard and resonated deeply with my sense of purpose, and I'm invested in reminding you that my story, and your story-- the celebrated and the painful-- is all part of a meaningful journey that we'd be wise to lean into. The daemon and the place of union both led me to face one of my greatest fear (of becoming a mother). It ingrained mental fortitude into my being. And it gifted me with realizations about my life path and how I want to contribute to the world.

The intersection of the psyche, interpersonal dynamics, and my background in astrology and the healing arts managed to further inform my unfolding path in the last year in ways I hadn't previously anticipated. Part of that path is already manifesting right here in this reflective space on The Cosmic Soup Bowl and I look forward to the evolution of it all. I’m aware that my story is quite personal and perhaps an overshare to many, but I hope to encourage others that might feel alone in their darkness. You are not alone. I hope to convey that we are all figuring things out as we go, no matter how put together one might seem on the outside, or how pleasant their life seems from the window of a screen. The thing is, even if we find ourselves physically bound to a place, there’s an online space where we can connect, reflect, and share something that someone else might benefit from.

That said, I want to ask some of you to share your stories and experiences on my blog, or on your own. For those of you that have your own blogs, I'd encourage you to share it with the community so everyone can follow the stories under the name of the project: #Theprofectionproject.

If you feel called to join in this endeavor, you don't have to know astrology to participate. Including writers who aren't astrologers helps further demonstrate this concept by sharing the theme (sign/house and planetary ruler) of the profection year they are in without getting distracted too by the technical details.

If you're up to sharing your reflective experience of your profected houses, I'd love to hear your story! Please share it with us and tag me @Temple_healing_arts on your Instagram or @Temple_healing on your Twitter so I can share it too!

Blessings,

Ashley

 *Note that the "Places of union and bad daimon" refer to the 7th and 12th house, respectively with my 7th being ruled by natal Mars in the 3rd [of mind, environment, local travel, and communication] and my 12th by natal Mercury in the 5th [of children, play, and creativity].

References: 

Greenbaum, D.: The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology

Bell, L.: The 12th House: Listening to the Daemon