I’m guided by a signal from the heavens
I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
– Leonard Cohen, First We Take Manhattan
SO – What guides YOU through Life?
Over dinner someone mentioned kismet – the eastern word for ‘fate’. “That’s why I’m here.”
There are many reasons why we end up where we are.
Our lives are filled with choices. Some are small and insignificant. Others are momentous and life-changing.
Small choices in a game of tennis can set you up to win the point after maneuvering your opponent into a difficult position.
Small choices can be cumulative – and although we don’t like to admit it, they usually are. Choices such as whether to eat the extra treat. Whether to skip that extra ten minutes of exercise.
Leonard Cohen, the master poet, in these three concise lines, gives us an insight into the major factors that guide most of us, for most of our lives.
Let me start with the last one.
“The beauty of our weapons” can refer to all the mechanisms we have created to help us navigate our lives. This includes: all our skills and capabilities, our jobs and how we answer the question “What do you do?”, as well as all that we own and manipulate in order to survive, such as our phones, our homes and our ‘toys’. These are our ‘weapons’ to help us get through, get with, and get on in life. And – we can get caught up in their beauty and power, and be captivated by their beauty.
And while these ‘weapons’ may be useful in helping us to get through life, they are poor ‘Guides’ for our life.
“This birthmark on my skin” refers to all the inherited cultural influences of family, our genetic structure, and the society into which we are born and grow up in. This is as much a part of us as a birthmark. For many people our culture and heritage can serve as a Guide in life, and one that is rarely examined, because it is so natural and therefore seems so ‘right’.
The challenge with a ‘birthmark’ being our guide is how we relate to all the other different and conflicting ‘birthmarks’ in the world, and how we ‘live, and let live’.
“A signal from the heavens” can be interpreted as everything ‘above’ the plane of human existence – all our religious beliefs and convictions, everything from beyond our ability to know with provable certainty or to question. It includes all that we aspire to in a life beyond this life, and all that we hope for – for ourselves, and for one another. It includes what we perceive as ‘divine’ and beyond our right to question. Perhaps something like fate, or destiny.
Is there another way of being guided?
A fourth way of being guided is by a deeper self-knowledge and insight into what really ‘works’ for us – an awareness of what it takes to be in harmony with our true values and nature.
I believe this is the real contribution that modern psychological astrology brings to our lives today. Not the newspaper throw-it-away-tomorrow 60-word star sign columns, but the in-depth one-to-one meeting with a live astrologer who can help you to see deeper into the patterns of your life.
Some people see astrology as ‘a signal from the heavens’ – and yes, it is, in a way, from ‘the great beyond’. And astrologers do bring their cultural contexts to bear in their work with clients. Some astrologers can also be guided (or blinded) by ‘the beauty of’ the system of astrology and what it can help us to understand.
Ultimately, though, astrology (at least as we practice it) is about gaining a deeper understanding and connection with who we really are, deep down.
And that can be a worthwhile guide to have, as well.
So – what guides YOU through life?
Text © Rainer Rollfink, 2011, Revised and updated 2014