Photograph by Kayla Varley
What Does It Mean to Have Faith Now?
Psychological astrologer Jennifer Freed is whom we turn to for cosmic wisdom. Her perspective typically leaves us feeling better, refreshed, and capable of turning any situation into one of possibility and hope.
Freed believes we each have the responsibility to make the world better, that we’re all interconnected, and that now is the time to examine what role we’re going to play in shaping the future for everybody. And the way she sees it (through the lens of astrology) is that it isn’t about knowing what will happen next or when the crisis will be over. It’s about finding ways to practice gratitude, build a foundation of faith, and consciously expand our energy so that we’re always becoming our more evolved, loving, and powerful selves.
Faith in the Times of COVID-19
Astrologers have long foreseen 2020 as a critical year for a worldwide overhaul. The planetary archetypes at play during this year have not been in this sequence for hundreds of lifetimes. We have:
• Pluto, the energy of death, rebirth, trauma, and essential transformations, in the sign of Capricorn, ruler of social order, banking, and political systems.
• Jupiter, the energy of expansion, in Capricorn, expanding issues relating to money, systems, politics, and meaning.
• Saturn just recently moved from Capricorn into Aquarius and will move back into Capricorn again on July 1 and remain there until December 17, 2020. Saturn represents limitations, restrictions, mortality, and karma. It asks for discipline and shows the effects and consequences of past behavior. In Capricorn, Saturn relates to authority, systems, material wealth, status, and stewardship.
• Mars in Capricorn, aligning just as the COVID-19 situation became a worldwide concern. The forceful, aggressive energy of Mars brings all of the above issues to a point where transformation is unavoidable.
In short, we are in a period throughout 2020 where public systems and social orders are undergoing aggressive global deconstruction, making way for the birth of new and meaningful social norms and systems.
In addition, we have Neptune in Pisces throughout this time: a signifier of rapid emotional contagion, for better or worse. Neptune is in Pisces from 2011 to 2026, providing us with the opportunity to realize and actualize that we are all one epic matrix of particles and waves, indivisibly impacting one another and creating a unified consciousness.
Humanity is, in essence, receiving a cosmic spanking for its childishness and selfishness around stewarding the planet and taking care of one other. The opportunity of this time is not to ask, “When will this be over?” but to ask, “What am I willing to do to create a more sustainable world for all living beings?”
Consumption has been strangling the planet; now, many of us are in danger of an unrestrained virus. The great news is that we have agency, maturity, and the global mobilization of scientists, activists, and you to see us through to a new, humble togetherness on this earth.
Why Faith Matters
In times of hardship, many people turn to their faith. Faith is not the naive belief that everything will turn out okay, and it is not a substitute for facts. It is an unwavering sense of our eternal nature and our interconnectedness amid chaos and uncertainty.
Having faith can activate positive thoughts and relieve stress. When we turn our attention to a belief in something greater than ourselves—whether it be the cosmos, nature, others, God, or Spirit—we inherently drop self-concern and move into a broader affirmative mindset. When we practice our faith through conversation, reading, prayer, meditation, Qigong, yoga, or other practices, we strengthen and build more-constructive attitudes. When we have faith in others, we build their self-confidence and scan for their positive attributes instead of their flaws.
Faith sometimes gets a bad rap as being a passive, wishful place of unfounded hope, yet those who are steeped in devotional practices are often the most moved to take bold and conscientious actions in times of strife and crisis. In an intensely boundaried time of physical distancing, it is imperative that we realize how much impact we can have on one another through intentional thought and the transmission of positive emotion. Remote faith practices targeting certain individuals in need have proven to have a widely healing effect. Many of us now have time and motivation to sharpen this skill.
Faith is the best antidote we have for fear. When we are immersed in faith, we are tethered to a comforting and reassuring source. We recognize that we do not control life, but that we are passengers on a wild and unpredictable ride, and we can decide how we are going to participate on the ride and how we will narrate our experience.
When we are in fear, we are like reactive pinball machines, pinging and popping with every plunger of input. Our brains go on high alert and scan for danger everywhere. Life’s positives recede into the background.
Fear is contagious. It leaps through airwaves and runs rampant in shared world concerns. Fear is crossing the world at lightning speed and can rev up exponentially in response to one terrifying news clip or meme. Tremendous inner work is required to resist the anxiety and panic that permeate our news and social media these days, and it is vital for our individual and collective health and well-being that we do our best to do that inner work.
Energy follows thought. Every time we concentrate on bad and frightening news, we activate our brain in a way that can exhaust us and wear us out. Faith, on the other hand, calms and nourishes the mind to be more thoughtful, deliberate, and temperate, and it creates a healthy balance in the body.
When we join with kindred souls to practice our faith, regardless of belief systems, we provide another vital element for physical and mental health: We enhance our bonds and provide succor to one another. We trade the feelings of fear, aloneness, and separation for the healing balm of unity and interwoven webs of support and love.
Strengthening and Awakening Our Faith
As a psychological astrologer, I had a heads up that 2020 would be a year of reckoning—one that would lead to a massive restructuring of global systems and economies. I had no idea it would be a pandemic that would cause this upheaval. And now that it’s upon us, my faith and astrological understanding are rooted not in knowing what will happen next but in honoring cosmic cycles and divine timing. Along with this comes a deep trust that we all came here with a role to play in this time.
Many of my clients worldwide feel disconnected from institutional religion or struggle with meditation. These are the clients who share with me that they feel a lack of faith and a great emptiness, although many of their lives seem great by material standards. I try to support them by pointing out that we have all been given narrow definitions about what faith is and how one practices faith. I share with them what a friend of mine says about taking time to be with the “divine of our own knowing,” the very foundation of faith.
If you struggle to find a space for faith within yourself, consider how you might sit with that divinity every day. Ask yourself: Who or what expands your energy, your aliveness, and your connection to the deep and infinite inside yourself?
Sometimes people want examples, and I love to share about the many ways I connect to the parts of myself that expand my sense of faith. For me, dancing with abandon in my living room, listening to a spiritual teacher’s podcast, and writing devotional poetry all bring me face-to-face with the divine of my own knowing. So do practicing Qigong outside, looking into a beloved’s eyes with rapt attention, and playing with my cats in the backyard.
Most important is my awareness that when I am doing any of these things, I feel an extension of my energy field beyond any petty concerns. My heart softens and relaxes. I feel supported by beautiful and wordless ambience. When I become conscious of these nonordinary states of consciousness, I enhance my experience of them. It’s like being in love and then saying out loud, “I love you.”
Each of us resonates with different portals to the divine of our own knowing. The key is to dedicate time to finding and cultivating practices that unlock the ego from the noise of the world.
Four ways to build faith
1. Dedicate five minutes at the same time each day to do an activity that opens up your heart and relaxes your mind.
2. On a regular basis, gather others (remotely or in person when it’s safe again) and intentionally focus loving energy on someone you all know.
3. Pick an inspiring teacher to read or listen to who uplifts you and points your heart and mind to a sense of purpose and meaning. Take time each day to listen to or read something from them.
4. This last practice has been the most powerful to strengthen my faith. I do it daily. Before you start your day, write a thank-you letter to the divine of your own knowing. It could go something like this:
Dear Guides and Angels,
Thank you for giving me health. Thank you for bringing me a sense of calm. Show me how to open my heart today and see the miracles all around me. Guide me to give generously to others and listen to them deeply. Teach me patience and show me how to receive love more freely and openly.
Starting my day in thankfulness and asking for guidance positions me in an attitude of humility and gratitude.
Even as we all face a year of unprecedented upheaval and challenge, we have the opportunity to realize our capacities as global citizens and loving agents of change. With faith, we can center our actions in a calm and steady heart and move to a place of possibility instead of fear.
Through this confrontation with our collective vulnerability and the recognition of our interrelated fates, we can generate an unparalleled evolution of consciousness in which we create new world orders that benefit us all.
Jennifer Freed, PhD, is a psychotherapist, mediator, and author with more than thirty years of experience in the fields of psychological astrology and social-emotional learning. Freed serves as the primary consultant for the app Co-Star and is the author of Use Your Planets Wisely: Master Your Cosmic Potential with Psychological Astrology.
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