This is the most difficult article I've written so far. I have less mental capacities to write than I used to and so much has happened since we set sails to our escape journey at the end of 2020. Little did I know that it would turn into a real odyssey.
I have written extensively about some of my experiences of planetary self-initiation in the past but I have come to realize that the further I progessed through the spheres the more meaningful and personal they became. It feels almost inappropriate to make all the details public here, due to their very personal nature and because they coincided with a difficult period of depression and crisis that took quite some time and effort to get out of. But I will try to briefly touch on them because they might actually be the most important magical experiences of my life.
The last time I had been through a similar personal upheaval and depression was over a decade ago around the time of my Saturn Return (while being completely ignorant of that concept). Back then I managed to shed several layers of self-perceived expectations and societal pressure that had kept my authentic self in confinement and came out of it feeling more like a grownup than before.
This time it was different. Not only in terms of the darkness and confusion I had to push through, as well as the mind-blowing levels of self-realization, but especially due to the magnitude of traumatizing fallout that directly influenced my immediate family. It's one thing to live through a period of depression by yourself, but when you are embedded in a family unit and have responsibilities as a spouse and parent, it is impossible to protect your loved ones from getting hurt.
Thus Spoke the Goddesses
Past planetary initiations had taught me about my relationship with my parents and the need for personal sovereignty (Jupiter), about the temporality of life and nonlinearity of time (Saturn), the art of war and listening to my instincts (Mars). They were all mind-blowing and exciting. In contrast, the initiations of the feminine planets I went through while living on the Canary Island of Tenerife turned out to be deeply soul shattering.
I had been especially looking forward to my Lunar initiation ritual, naively hoping it would help me get more lucid dreams or better psychic skills. Instead, the luminary goddess made me realize that significant parts of my past life had been a self-deceptive lie and that I actually tick all the boxes of an ADHD diagnosis while leaning heavily into the Autism spectrum. How's that for a surprise?
Facing Venus was something I had been scared of ever since starting the 7 spheres cycle, mainly due to the frightening experiences my mage friend Aaron of Charm the Water had gone through but I had to eventually do it and the ritual timing coincided with a very difficult relationship crisis. With equal intensity to her lunar kin the goddess of love and beauty made me ask myself very uncomfortable questions about my interpersonal experiences and abilities that both directly tied into my newly discovered neurodiversity. On the upside - and very weird for a pagan goddess - my venusian initiation resulted in a sudden felt sense of closeness to - wait for it - I still can't really comprehend it: Jesus Christ.
Into the Abyss
So here I was, displaced on a volcanic saturnian island in the middle of the Atlantic. Grappling with mental health issues, questioning my whole past life, having lost my career and general faith in humanity during a raging pandemic, having no friends and a shattered marriage apparently wasn't enough: I conducted Covid-19 during a short trip to Romania and infected my family when I returned. It hit us hard. My wife the hardest. I don't know how we all managed to not lose our minds completely and I really have problems recalling memories of that time. It was grim.
Three months after having officially recovered from Covid-19 I almost drowned from attempting to swim in the sea. My physical condition was at its worst ever, I could barely breathe and it all really bummed me out. When Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February 2022 it was the cherry on the despair cake and I lost it. I drifted off into a serious depression of which I barely recall anything besides fractions of images. I was suffering heavy post-Covid symptoms, overwhelming fatigue, a brainfog so intense I was unable to read or write properly.
In the months that followed, my wife - who miraculously hadn't left me - somehow managed to drag us all off the island and we spent several weeks traveling. We met my parents on their holidays on the neighbor island of Fuerteventura, we also traveled all our former homes, reconnecting with family and friends and it felt like collecting long forgotten shards of my soul.
I wandered the endless white beaches of Fuerteventura, drowning in nostalgia from childhood vacation memories, reliving the bliss of those magical times, letting months of stuck tears flow.
I walked the streets of Berlin with a never before encountered intense sense of placeness. I ritually visited every house and neighborhood I had lived in for the past 20 years. I was overwhelmed by forgotten memories, almost breaking down on several occasions, finding myself crying, finally integrating grief and loss of past failed relationships and old friends.
I wandered through the forests around my hometown, in awe of the intensity of how much 'home' this place felt, reconnecting with my parents and friends from teenage times. We ended up spending several weeks in Heidelberg and I couldn't shake the feeling that immersing myself in this ancestral place contributed a lot to my recovery. I finished the seven Spheres with Mercury at his temple on the same mountain I had started the planetary journey three years earlier.
It was during that time that we decided to close this weird liminal chapter of our life and leave Tenerife for good. What had started as a hopeful and optimistic escape had turned out to be a dark underworld journey in the middle of a tropical paradise. And like every heroes journey it felt crucial to finish it properly and to return home. But what does 'home' even mean when you are a mixed background family? This had been one of our primary discussions in the last two years: where is our home? Where do we want to live? Where is our 'Ithaka' to return to?
We stayed on the island for just a few more weeks, wrapping up our life there and eventuall left the same way we had arrived - by land and sea - like Odysseus.
We arrived back in our old home of Berlin and rediscovered all of our belongings we had left behind two years before. Everything felt eerily familiar yet foreign and distant. In an almost manic tour de force we managed to get rid of the majority of our stuff, renovate the old flat and sublet it to a friend of ours - all within a month - and we took off to open a new chapter in a new place - yet another chapter of uncertainty but with ancestral ties: my wife's homeland, the holy land, Israel.
Solve et Coagula
I am still in the midst of an ongoing and probably never-ending process of re-framing and integrating my own past, re-adjusting my life to my newly realized neurodiversity and attempting to put it all into context. It's been a wild ride so far. My (also neurodiverse) wife and I have managed to reconcile and rebuild trust and are working through a ton of past baggage, both individual and common. Meanwhile I got the diagnosis of a liver condition resulting in raised cholesterole levels that might be the result of genetic disposition and long-covid. I take medication for that and since doing so I have been feeling much better physically. Also my brainfog has lifted to the point where I can read books again and write a few paragraphs of text. Overall I am hopeful and positive about the future and despite the intensity of dark experiences during the last two years I am grateful and in awe about the deep transformations I am going through. Jung called the process 'individuation', alchemists called it 'Magnum Opus', the 'Great Work' and now I know that 'great' refers to the incomprehensible heaviness of the 'work', the sacrifices and traumas one can endure on the way to a more authentic self.
I thank the planetary spirits, the gods and the theotokos for heeding my calls and pushing me through this magical adventure, the labyrinth of self-discovery that without proper divine help has the potential to merely become what's commonly referred to as 'midlife crisis'.