Between the ages of 42 and 59 there is a revolution in women’s lives that doctor’s call menopause. Astrologers have three names for it: the Uranus Opposition around the age of 42, the Chiron Return at 51, and the Second Saturn Return around 59. These three stages that span the entire menopausal experience are the rites of passage into our wise woman years. Like any journey they have their merciless moments of drama as well as quiet epiphanies. But how might menopause be different if these times came with an instruction manual like some of us received when we turned 13? “This is menstruation! Welcome to Becoming a Woman.” How might it be different if we did get a menopausal map?
Astrology offers us the closest thing that I’ve ever seen to a wise woman’s survival guide of these times, although the links between these three stages of menopause hasn’t been truly explored. I’m going to touch on this huge subject and offer a few insights, although the exact timing of these events is best explored with your own astrologer.
At the first stage of the Uranus Opposition we begin our journey by being slightly unnerved and restless. The body’s electrical energy system begins to get revved up—fired by new messages from our glandular system. Uranus rules the electrical circuitry in our bodies, and the evolutionary purpose of Uranus is to create change—our life opens up; we see new options and possibilities. Our culture calls these years “peri-menopause” but astrologers see this as the time when we begin to be more true to ourselves, and do things differently. We may be shocked because repressed aspects of ourselves and long-forgotten dreams now come forth and demand expression. The unconscious stirs as we hear ourselves speak raw and outspoken truths in a way that startles even us. This is the same energy that makes us feel even sexier and stronger as we become serious truth-tellers.
Peri-menopause is powerful and underestimated, especially since it creeps us on us undetected. It’s as if our internal “B.S.-detectors” are amped up, and we can smell a rat or hear a lie a mile away. At this first entrance into the menopausal journey it’s time to consciously make new plans, craft new intentions, de-clutter our inner psyches and outer homes, and prepare for a new life. The Uranus Opposition is the first call towards what the Jungian psychologists call individuation; towards becoming who you truly are. Trying to maintain the status-quo at this time is the worst thing one can do. Let this be your motto: “Let’s do something different.”
As we move through our forties into menopause, it’s as if we’re being stripped of the Teflon coating of hormonal agreeableness, as we’re being catapulted into a time of intense honesty punctuated with times of intense irritation. The worst physical culprits, such as loss of sleep and hot sweats exhaust us, allowing the emotional roller coaster of moodiness to have its way with us. When we’re awake and sweating at 3:00 AM, we may find ourselves contemplating the limits of sanity, divorce or freedom even when we’ve actually have a good mind, a good marriage or good job—or so we think, up till now. Reflecting and reframing our lives is best done at 9:00 AM with our best friend over coffee, when we can exaggerate our “wet sheets story” just enough to get a good laugh and a tender hug.
The age of 51 is the average age for menopause to occur, although the process that leads up to it is as powerful as the actual ceasing of our periods. This is the turning point into our wise woman years, and many of us find ourselves coming into our own power and personhood more in our 50s than ever before. We’ve already been experimenting and finding out what works for us and what doesn’t. We’ve made changes—physically, emotionally and spiritually. We are keenly aware that our life is already more than half-lived.
As we move towards the Chiron Return at age 51, the electric and truth-seeking trials of Uranus link up with the archetype of Chiron. The changes we’ve made and the healing we’ve done stand us in good stead as we approach the time when our periods actually stop, usually around the time of the Chiron Return.
Chiron can be seen as the mythological image of the “wounded healer.” As we round the corner past 50, we’ve gained some experiences and wisdom that can be helpful to others. The mythology of the planetoid Chiron is fascinating to read. The essence of it is that Chiron, the mythological god who was unable to heal himself, can now heal others. Through the process of experimentation and self-healing he learned how to become a useful mentor, healer, and teacher although he was never able to completely cure himself. Chiron is like all of us who struggle with menopause and its many remedies in an effort to heal and be whole. We delve into new treatments and new lives seeking to find physical relief and the best life, but perfect healing may elude us. We do the best we can as we struggle through it. Menopause is sloppy in all the ways of imperfection, but if we take good mental notes on our process we learn a great deal. We learn that change can be good and that open-heartedness and experimentation lead to healing. We find our way, and then we are able to help others do the same.
Second Saturn Return
As we make our way through the fifties we begin to approach the Second Saturn Return, which comes for most of us around the age of 59. This Saturn Return is typically easier than the first Saturn Return at age 29 as it ushers us into our wisdom and Elder years. This third and last part of the menopausal journey is when any unfinished business physically or emotionally needs to be taken care of. We cannot afford to be lazy in our attention to what needs to be done at this time, especially caring for our bodies. If we put off that call to the dentist, it may not be long before we’re calling the oral surgeon. If we don’t listen to our body’s messages now we may have some tough lessons with “reality”—that’s Saturn’s job.
But don’t be too hard on yourself. We all have unfinished business—coping with aging parents, health issues, loneliness…there are old problems and perhaps new solutions. We may slow down a little, and others may say we look tired. This is the time when our culture gets us thinking about retirement, and we are shocked when we tell someone our age. Can it be true? Our mental image of what this age is about is ready to change.