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  • Writer's pictureYolanda McAdam

May - The Month Ahead

The Cosmos offers us a respite - a timeout - this month from our state of suspension. After months of confinement, we will venture out to smell the washed-out air and gaze upon reclaimed earth. Some of us will return to work and a few more planes will cross the sky but nothing will be the same again.

With three planets about to retrograde and Pluto - god of endings and transformation - already in retrograde motion, we can be sure that any attempts at “normalcy” will be short-lived. The next few months highlight slow starts and reversals. Worldwide lockdowns will continue. On a personal level, Pluto retrograde will traverse scorched terrain. Memories of abuse or unresolved bullying may surface at this time.

On May 11th, Saturn will retrograde in Aquarius, re-emphasizing the need to maintain boundaries and stay home. On the same day, Mercury glides into his home sign of Gemini, and we will be chatty and possibly gossipy. Stick to the facts.

Venus will retrograde in Gemini on May 13th, encouraging us to reevaluate our values and relationships and Jupiter will retrograde in Capricorn May 14th, reminding us to conserve resources.

(Sun moves into Gemini, on May 20th. More on this in a separate article)

This is the time of year (Taurus season) to slow down and appreciate nature, family, and the things we hold dear. The theme is slowness.

Treasure the “intrinsic slowness of the tree that embraces its growth and its blooming” (Rilke). It’s time to develop admirable patience and strength.

The Full Moon on the 7th offers the opportunity to detox emotions and move on. Scorpio moons are always emotionally intense.

When in January, I was asked to describe 2020 in one word I said “Endurance”. I’ve been meditating on that word a lot and thinking about the tale of “The Girl Without Hands” or "The Handless Maiden". In therapy, this story is often shared with survivors of sexual abuse, a theme pertinent at this time with Pluto in retrograde motion. However, as with all fairy tales this story is multilayered.

There are versions of this story told all over the world - "The Girl With Her Hands Cut Off" in France, "Olive" in Italy, "Doña Bernarda" in Spain, "The Armless Maiden" in Russia, "The Girl Without Arms" in Japan.

In this tale, a miller’s daughter loses her hands as the result of a foolish bargain her father has made with the devil for riches. She leaves home, makes her way through the forest and eventually comes to a royal garden where she eats pears (a symbol of the Feminine, strength and immortality). The king catches her, falls in love, marries her and gives her two new hands made of silver. After a year, the King goes to battle and while he is away the young queen gives birth to a son. The devil interferes again and swaps the intended letter from the “old mother” - the King’s mother -  to her son with a letter claiming the queen gave birth to a changeling. The King reads this and even though he is upset by this news, writes back to say that the queen and the child must nevertheless be looked after well. The devil - unhappy with this response - places a different letter in the messenger’s bag that says the young queen and her child must be killed.

The old mother, unable to carry out such a heinous deed, casts the queen and her son out. The young queen comes to a great forest and asks God for help. An angel appears to her and leads her to a hut. There another angel welcomes her in and takes care of her and her son. The queen and her son stay in this hut for seven years and in that time her hands grow back.

When her husband returns from the war and learns that she's gone, he comes to fetch his wife and child but she insists that he court her all over again, which he does. The Handless maiden’s transformation is now complete and the couple can go on to live long and happy lives together.

The forest is a call to commune with nature; to find the divinity inside.

"You must go in quest of yourself, and you will find yourself again only in the simple and forgotten things. Why not go into the forest for a time, literally? Sometimes a tree tells you more than can be read in books." - Carl Jung

This is a story about the rites of passage and … endurance.

" The Handless Maiden is about a woman's initiation into the underground forest through the rite of endurance. The word endurance sounds as though it means "to continue without cessation," and while this is an occasional part of the tasks underlying the tale, the word endurance also means "to harden, to make robust, to strengthen," and this is the principal thrust of the tale, and the generative feature of a woman's long psychic life. We don't just go on to go on. Endurance means we are making something.' - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

As you wait this month, spend some time outdoors, in nature. Breathe with the trees. Inhale courage. Exhale fear.

What are you - slowly - making at this time? How are you strengthening/enduring?