Seven months ago I moved to Queenstown, a small town in the West Coast area of Tasmania.
Moving out here was in response to the weight of my mental health issues negatively impacting upon my daily life. I needed to reduce my anxiety and sensory exposure by being able to afford to live alone, and live in a peaceful, calm, slow paced, supportive, and quiet environment.
I have Autism (Asperger’s) and extreme anxiety (GAD and social anxiety), along with a near life long struggle with an eating disorder (EDNOS – eating disorder not otherwise specified).
A debilitating, often under-looked, aspect of Autism are sensory issues. I personally struggle with certain sounds/frequencies, smells, visuals, lights, and to a degree touch/tactile. I’m also very easily overwhelmed.
For me, sensory overload along with overwhelm, social overwhelm and confusion, and life responsibilities lead to frequent meltdowns, panic attacks, and heightened states of anxiety, which can make it very difficult for me to function or be very productive in my daily life.
The more I’m overwhelmed and socially exhausted, the more time I need to be alone in a quiet, safe, and unstimulating environment in order to calm down, regain balance, and recuperate.
I haven’t been able to paint in this last year, I’ve been too overwhelmed, and most of my energy has been focused intently on trying to settle my life to a state of better workability, where my basic needs are met and I’m not having frequent meltdowns and panic attacks, and where I’m not being overwhelmed by sensory issues, anxiety, and daily life.
I felt an intense draw to come here to Queenstown, not just for the practical reasons to reduce my mental health issues, but drawn here in an instinctive way—a way that I felt I needed to be here—as if it were vital for my life journey.
There is something magnificent about the West Coast and something remarkable about the energy of Queenstown.
Out here on the edge of the world, time and distance seem to take on new meaning.
Queenstown is a town with a fascinating mining history and a growing art community. The town is nestled within a hilly and mountainous landscape surrounded by wild temperate rain forest. It’s isolated and remote out here, and the weather could be described as intense, unpredictable, heavy, and at times depressing—it does rain a lot.
The energy and history of this place is an inspiring kind of tenaciousness—raw, truthful, unflinching—a place of extremes, a place to lose yourself, a place to find yourself.
There is an intensity of character about the people here and those of us who felt drawn to live here, a need perhaps for a place that mirrors and reflects each of our own individual struggles and experiences, a place where we feel we belong, where we are accepted as we are—flawed, imperfect, and human.
Perhaps we are contradictions in ourselves living in a place of contradiction; a meeting point of controlled and uncontrolled, free and constrained, natural and unnatural, lonely and loved, abandoned and embraced, creative and destructive.
How easy it is here to fall to great dark hopeless depths or be inspired to rise up to beautiful heights.
In the past during the heights of the mining industry, the hills surrounding the town were all treeless, creating a rocky ‘moonscape’. Old pictures bring to mind symbolic qualities of the planet Saturn; rocky, desolate, unforgiving, tough, cold, barren. The mine and mining industry prompts thoughts of the planet Pluto, god of the underworld.
Queenstown is no longer such a bare and desolate looking town, most of the trees and vegetation have grown back, sparking a profound acknowledgement to the regenerative power of this place.
Traditionally Saturn ruled mines and miners, but modern astrologers now tend to place that ownership with the planet Pluto.
Astrologically I keep finding myself coming back to these thoughts and feelings that both Saturn and Pluto fit perfectly as co-rulers of this town.
Traditionally in ancient astrology, before the discovery of Uranus in 1781, the furthest known and observed planet of our solar system was Saturn. Saturn was the slowest moving and dimmest planet observed and came to represent outer limits, endings, death, and all that limits, crystallises, and constricts, and as ruler of time.
In modern astrology, Pluto inhabits the last known area of our solar system, the Kuiper belt, thus like Saturn, has become synonymous with endings and ruler over death, transformation, and all that is both symbolically and literally hidden, underground, and underworld.
There are crossovers between these two planets, both holding rulership over mines/miners and endings, both enacting an energy to transform through hardship, struggle, loss, and crisis—creating intense and often difficult life experiences and situations to push one to the limits in order to be wholly transformed and renewed through a symbolic death and rebirth.
I feel this reflected in Queenstown, a place of both great pain and of great healing.
Next month on the 12th/13th of January, the planet Saturn will be conjunct Pluto, meaning they will both be in the same zodiacal degree of the ecliptic. This happens every 31-38 years, the last time these two were conjunct was back in November 1982.
I keep finding myself reflecting on this upcoming Saturn/Pluto conjunction, the energy of this town, the latent potential these planets hold for many of us, and how my own personal experiences are already being transformed.
There are powerful lessons to be had from these planets. It is an intense time for self-discovery, an opportunity for great healing, and a time to truly let go of past trauma, hurts, and behaviours. A time to confront and combat whatever type of demon lurks below.
Saturn holds and shows us our fears, while Pluto represents the depths and hidden aspects within each of us. The beauty and power of these two planets coming together creates an entryway, an opening, a direct route to the core of what lies within each of us—that area most vulnerable, sensitive, and in need of healing.
But this type of healing is not easy. It is profound and often painful, and can only be accessed through the entryway of our fears with a willingness to travel deep down into the mine of our soul and being.
During this time allow yourself access and permission to enter. Know that there could be some difficulties. Perhaps even sacrifice, confronting memories and situations, volatile emotions, unsettling feelings, maybe even instability or a feeling of loss of control.
Acknowledge your history, hardships, pains, burdens, and limits.
If you allow these planets to work, know that you are allowing for intense transformation, this itself can be fear inducing, as clinging to the known and familiar often seems safer than change. It takes a great deal of bravery to let go.
Take any stubborn resistance to change and twist it around—in other words, be stubborn to change in your life what needs changing, embrace what needs embracing, get help with what needs helping, open up, take chances, be brave, be trusting.
If you know which astrological natal house this Saturn/Pluto conjunction is taking place in, this is your point of entry into the mine. If there are any planets and points that are being highlighted and aspected by this conjunction, these are major clues as to the areas in your life in need of healing at this time.
If you don’t know your natal chart, or are not inclined to find out, pay attention to any signs or things from your past that seem to be resurfacing, and/or present life difficulties that cannot be ignored. Pay attention to feelings, dreams, thoughts, emotions that are bubbling up for you. What is bringing a sense of fear and/or obsession. Where have you felt most constricted and limited. Ask yourself honestly where you feel most afraid of losing control, of letting go, of trusting, of experiencing.
Be willing to enter your personal mine site to uncover and discover the truth of your being. To allow and make room for the power of regeneration and to trust that with all pain lies something more valuable than the most precious of all resources—the gold of self-understanding, acceptance, healing, and transformation.
Happy Solstice, Christmas, and New Year.
* Emilie Llewellyn Simons – els0337