As Mary described herself growing up, she was "a talented and sensitive child who had been placed in a stifling and unresponsive family." Her fondest memory before the age of 7 was “of joyously running around the house naked. . . and [her] mother affectionately laughing at the sight." One of Mary’s early teachers, who contributed to her shadow wounding (at Saturn’s first transiting square to the natal pattern) felt a need to “take her down a notch” because she was exhibiting “too much self-confidence and . . . [her] opinion of [herself] was too high." This confident, talented, self-assured child, running naked through life with joyful merriment was reflected by her 12th house Moon/Jupiter conjunction in Leo.
Given that Mary’s Moon/Jupiter sits at the heart of a powerful shadow pattern, bracketed by both Saturn and Pluto, it was perhaps inevitable that this carefree, precocious wild child would experience a clipping of her wings. True to form, the initial wounding took place at age 4 (during transiting Saturn’s first semi-square to the pattern), when her father left. Before that, Mary was compelled to function in an atmosphere she described as "embattled." The tension between her parents finally erupted during the semi-square, with this breach in the marriage. While her father’s decision to leave likely had nothing to do with her, Mary blamed herself for his departure, and felt rejected by him. Mary projected the blame onto her mother, but underneath, she began festering a classic Type 1 shadow wound.
After this traumatic event, Mary became "the one who 'started things'. It seemed to be [her] role in the family to bring things out into the open at any cost. And yet at the same time, [she was] terribly sensitive to the others and would become tortured and depressed over their slightest disapproval or misunderstanding.. . . [She was] a bundle of sensitivity and violent emotions with no idea how to handle them." This is her description of the shadow-side of her rising Moon/Jupiter retrograde.
Mary’s shadow wound was further exacerbated by her sisters, who invaded her childhood privacy and sought to humiliate her in front of family and friends. Mary’s 3rd house of siblings is ruled by Pluto, which conjuncts Moon/Jupiter retrograde and squares Saturn in the 3rd, forming the backbone of a potent shadow pattern in which siblings could be a catalyst. In Mary’s words, her sisters attempted to “squash any of [her] tendencies to stick out in both negative and positive ways." Since “sticking out” is what the Moon in Leo most desires to do, having these tendencies squashed was a negation of her Moon. Like Cinderella, Mary was “hardly ever allowed to be part of [her sisters’] plans or activities.. . . [Yet they] were… the chief violators of [her] highly valued privacy." Within the context of her shadow wound, this violation of privacy can be understood as a denial of her right to exist.
After the age of 8, Mary withdrew and squelched her natural enthusiasms and talents. Previously outgoing, after the primal wounding, she became sullen, cautious and withdrawn, occasionally erupting in anger, despite her caution, as an attempt to create more breathing room for herself. This is the portrait of an intensely lonely child, for whom the world was not a safe space. In the face of this lack of safety (Saturn-Pluto), she (Moon/Jupiter) shut down and became limited, compromised, and distorted by her shadow wounds.
The Astrological Timing of the Wounding/ Healing Process
Having identified the natal pattern related to Mary’s shadow wound, it comes as no surprise that the timing of events related to both the wounding and the healing process correlated with transits to this pattern. Since Saturn and Pluto are the agents of shadow wounding in this pattern, Saturn and Pluto transits (particularly by hard aspect) are potentially critical triggers to both the wounding and the healing process. In Mary’s experience, Saturn was the more potent trigger – in keeping with the fact that hers was a Type 1 wound.
Transiting Saturn was semi-square its natal position (and sesquiquadrate to the rest of the pattern) when her father left her mother, and the initial wounding by abandonment took place.
During another hard Saturn transit to the natal pattern, Mary found herself in the middle of a "desperately unhappy time. . .; [she was] miserable in [her first] marriage in which [she] felt trapped” by the Hasidic Jewish community to which her first husband belonged. These feelings of entrapment came to head when she experienced "serious complications" during a pregnancy. "[Her] husband didn't adequately care for [her] during [her] recovery.. . . [She] felt terribly isolated and unable to tell anyone about what had happened." She was essentially betrayed and abandoned by her first husband, in a repeat of the primal wounding she experienced at age 4.
I began working with Mary when transiting Saturn was trine her 12th house stellium and approaching a quincunx to her natal Saturn, triggering the pattern again. She was just about to join her fiancé, a man 23 years her senior – a father figure, and a suitable stand-in for Saturn in an ongoing saga through which Mary sought healing for her shadow wounds.
At first blush, “John” appeared to be the perfect partner for Mary. As Mary described him, "he seemed to have a peaceful core that was not ruffled or bent out of shape no matter what [she] said or did. He was not one to be controlled or be in control, and he had a way of handing [her] issues squarely back to [her] when there was any conflict . . . [She] remain[ed] in awe of his ability to simply let the small stuff wash over and drift away of its own accord."
Despite John’s unflappability, Mary soon began to experience herself "without rights, means, or emotional support," and acutely aware of "all the constrictions and incompatibilities" she was “forced” to live with within the context of her relationship. What is more, John considered Mary’s desire for privacy to be an "ego game," echoing her early relationship to sisters who routinely invaded her space, shamed her, and then took delight in tormenting her when she got upset. Again, as in childhood and as in her marriage to her first husband, she began to feel trapped.
As the relationship became more claustrophobic, John began to express "the wish that he could be free of [Mary]," in conformance to Mary’s wounded expectation. During this critical transit, over the Christmas holidays, Mary nearly broke up with John twice. But she hung in there, at one point marveling that "someone with fixed Saturn at Nadir squaring that fixed stellium in the 12th house" could move into a childlike space of fun and play. Given that it was originally her Moon/Jupiter retrograde that was wounded, I took this as a hopeful sign that some healing had begun.
Mary’s shadow wounds cannot be easily dismissed by a positive interpretation of the difficult shadow pattern in her chart. Mary chose an arduous route. Both the identification of the shadow pattern in her chart and the tracking of the story line associated with this pattern bear this out. The good news at the heart of her story, and the promise of her birthchart, is her right to be here in all of her resplendent (Moon/Jupiter in Leo) glory, even in the midst of life’s most intense difficulties (Saturn square Pluto). This is a right that Mary would inevitably learn to claim, or not, as her natal pattern was triggered in various ways throughout the various cycles in which it participated over the course of a lifetime.
1. Rodden data rating A, mother’s memory. The birth data is not supplied here to maintain confidentiality. The full case study can be found as Chapter Twelve of my book: Landwehr, Joe. Tracking the Soul With An Astrology of Consciousness. Mountain View, MO: Ancient Tower Press, 2007.
All quotes in this case study are from my correspondence with Mary over the course of our work together.