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Planetary Birth Pains of the Anaretic Degree

The past few weeks I felt immensely contracted, the sense of gravity caving in on all sides and deep hopelessness and feeling trapped.

As if all the grief and regret of my life came to surface all at once, wishing I had done things differently. Perhaps I shouldn't have followed my passions and instead created more financial stability for myself. Something with a matching IRA and health insurance.

What if I hadn't broken up with that person I loved so much because I was afraid. Perhaps I would be married and in a loving partnership. And not so in it alone and putting so much pressure on my friendships. Now I'm too old to find love and unattractive.

Wishing I hadn't left Colorado and stayed in a film festival job I loved instead of moving across the country to San Francisco to get a Master's degree in Philosophy--something even I still don't know what people do with. The student loan debt was a terrible decision and moving to the most expensive city in the nation. What was I thinking...

The self-judgment and sadness rolled in like waves, each one compounding upon the last. Until it reached such a deep well of depression and suffocation that there was nothing left--just emptiness ready to be filled again. Perhaps with hope or faith, or just to rest here in the stillness.

Then came the next phase of almost terror of the unknown, spending an entire day getting lost in the woods alone. I felt huge sexual urges and seemed obsessively fixated on dynamics with myself and others. Stuck in a loop of suffering and crazed.

Even my acupuncturist commented that my pulses are the weakest she has ever felt them. After a bout of rain and me spending around two days on my couch, it occurred to me to look at my transits--something I spend a lot of time doing for others.

Sure enough on that day, Saturn moved to 29 degrees Aquarius exactly squaring my 29-degree Taurus Sun, while Pluto at 29 degrees in Capricorn trining it. A rebirth and tension seemed inevitable...I would have worried if I hadn't felt it. Until then I think I have somewhat underestimated what it means to have my sun at the anaretic degree. It took two heavy-hitting planets to remind me to slow down and be in the rebirth. I kept trying to rush myself through it.


Anaretic Degree

In astrology, the anaretic degree, also known as the "degree of fate" or "degree of karma," refers to the 29th degree of any sign in the zodiac. This degree is considered a critical degree and is associated with endings, transitions, and a sense of urgency to complete unfinished business or to let go of what no longer serves us. It prepares us for the next stage in our development and evolution.

The anaretic degree is said to be a point of great tension and can indicate a sense of crisis or urgency in the area of life related to the sign in which it falls. In the natal chart, some astrologers believe that planets or points that are located at the anaretic degree are especially powerful and have a strong influence in the chart. They may also indicate a need to let go of old patterns, habits, or relationships and embrace new opportunities or possibilities. Those with important planets at the last degree are often called to make significant changes in their lives and are on a journey toward spiritual transformation. Understanding the significance of the anaretic degree can provide insight into your own life path and help guide you towards your destiny. People born with planets in this critical degree are believed to carry a sense of urgency and are driven to complete things quickly.

However, by transit, these planetary degrees can be felt both personally and collectively. As Saturn's last day in Aquarius and Pluto's last few weeks in Capricorn, we may find ourselves in the birthing canal ready for the next phase together. It can feel like a great potential and opportunity, but also a time of crisis and change. (Enter my Tik Tok feed suddenly having far too many apocalyptical videos for my comfort.)

This sense of big changes can be a rebirthing pattern where we must let go of the things we may feel attached to in service of moving forward. But as we know, the birthing process includes both intensity and ecstasy.


Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPM)

Almost a decade ago I sat in my first class with Stan Grof, at the time I had no idea who he was or the gravity of what he was teaching. He talked about his experience working with LSD clients and working with my own teacher Richard Tarnas on how astrology transits can impact someone's psychedelic and breathwork experiences. At the time I took it in and enjoyed the weekend intensive, not quite aware of the pioneering work both of my professors had done and its vast impact.

In the early 1900s German psychoanalyst Otto Rank theorized the impact birth trauma has on personality. However, Grof's theory proposes that our earliest experiences in the womb and during birth shape our psychological development and can influence our behavior and emotions throughout our lives. The Basic Perinatal Matrices includes four distinct stages of birth process and the effect on future development. In addition, each phase correlates with a transpersonal planets and archetype. This can be a helpful metaphor during transits or to understand some of our complexes or patterns in the natal chart.

For example, someone born with Neptune squaring their Moon may be more likely to experience BPM I more frequently. Or as a Moon opposite Saturn person, Saturn can feel particularly constrictive, perhaps evoking the experience of my own birth or development.

"At each of these stages, the baby undergoes experiences that are characterized by specific emotions and physical feelings; each of these stages also seems to be associated with specific symbolic images.

These come to represent highly individualized psychospiritual blueprints that guide the way we experience our lives. They may be reflected in individual and social psychopathology or in religion, art, philosophy, politics, and other areas of life. And, or course, we can gain access to these psychospiritual blueprints through non-ordinary states of consciousness, which allow us to see the guiding forces of our lives much more clearly.”-Stan Grof

While this post has a brief overview, the topic is vast I realize and have done my best to summarize without going too detailed as this could be endless.;) Below is a BPM overview with planetary/archetypal influence:

1) BPM I :: Neptune :: The Amniotic Universe

The first matrix describes the experience of the fetus in the womb. The fetus has a state of unity with the mother and experiences a sense of oneness and interconnectedness with the environment. It is a merged state dependent upon the health of the womb. Key themes of peacefulness, security, and floating sensations if the mother is healthy or toxic if illness, injury, or substances.

Those born with Sun-Neptune or Moon-Neptune aspects in their natal chart may deal more with these themes. Oscillating between a merged, boundary-less state and leaning into escapism and confusion.

2) BPM II :: Saturn :: The Cosmic Engulfment and No Exit

The second matrix is associated with the experience of the onset of labor and the fetus struggle to leave the womb as the cervix isn't open but contractions have begun. This is a time of intense pressure, constriction, and potential danger for the fetus. Saturn themes of struggle or harsh boundaries characterize this stage. Associated feelings may include anxiety, hopelessness, and a sense of being trapped or unable to escape.

Natal chart people--that is weird way to say things and I don't care--with Sun-Saturn or Moon-Saturn may often experience these sorts of feelings of failure (see my description above, it has been pretty textbook.;)) and deep loneliness.

3) BPM III :: Pluto :: The Death-Rebirth Struggle

The third matrix makes way for the actual birth process, including the intense physical and emotional stress of being born. This matrix is associated with feelings of pain, terror, and a sense of death and rebirth--all incredibly Plutonic keywords. This can also be the realm of sadomasochism--suffocating as the oxygen supply changes during this cycle--or scatological as these materials may be encountered during this stage of birth. It is characterized by a struggle for survival, as the infant must fight to leave the womb and enter the outside world.

Those with Sun-Pluto or Moon-Pluto may see themselves in these descriptions as well as an obsessive nature combined with periods of intense rebirth and surrender.

4) BPM IV :: Uranus :: The Fetal Union with the Maternal Source

The fourth matrix describes the experience of bonding with the mother and the sense of security and safety that comes from being held and nurtured and the "crowning" moment of birth and breakthrough. This matrix is associated with feelings of love, warmth, and a sense of being deeply connected to others. It represents a return to a state of unity with the maternal source, but with more autonomy and individuation.

Sun-Uranus or Moon-Uranus combinations in the natal chart value freedom and autonomy. They may crave experiences of novelty and differentiation.


The Basic Perinatal Matrices theory suggests that our early experiences in the womb and during birth can have a profound impact on our psychological and emotional development, shaping our beliefs, behaviors, and relationships throughout our lives. Combining them with an understanding of astrological archetypes can help us find meaning and appreciate the phases of rebirth we find ourselves in--whether by transit or our natal chart.

If a certain planet falls into an anaretic degree we may find ourselves more focused on this rebirth cycle or placement. Or sometimes feeling stuck in a particular phase--this happens both collectively and individually. We may find ourselves completing a cycle for momentary relief and then continuing it again with the death and rebirth starting all over again.

If the matrices can teach us anything it can be perhaps faith in the birthing process, it happened for all of us and will occur over and over again throughout our entire lives. We can trust this natural process, even if it frightens us. Even if we see these themes around us with a loss of control...and perhaps we may even see our own version of an anaretic degree helping us push into the next rebirth.

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