The Life Changing Scorpio Full Moon and An Epidemic Called Teen Suicide

Coming into this post, I had strictly wanted to look at this past week’s Full Moon in Scorpio–the Wesak Moon as Robert Wilkinson of Aquarius Papers calls it, the Buddhist Moon that Richard Nolle acknowledges, the “Full Flower Moon” as another person noted to me this week. But my focus is far from the beauty of the names for this particular Full Moon. In the natural zodiacal chart, Pluto-ruled Scorpio is the 8th house, and that’s where many of my concerns lie today. Bear with this post: It’s even longer than History Repeats Itself–and the Fight for Civil Rights Goes On, but it’s just as important although somewhat less astrological and more about a tragedy that’s epidemic in at least some pockets of the United States and in many on a global level.
Full Flower Moon

I prefer to use a lunation chart for Washington, DC just as I would one with Delhi for India or Islamabad for Pakistan and so on. But my focus for this post isn’t about the Full Moon. That’s actually a very small part of it. The crux is devoted to some fond memories of my 16th summer as a background setting for the rest of the story with the lunation also happening to be related.

Full Scorpio Moon - May 2015The last degree of Sagittarius on the Ascendant with the Part of Fortune conjunct the 7th house cusp and Pluto intercepted in the first provides an interesting picture for me. Even without the East/West hemispheric dominance, the 2nd quadrant below-the-horizon emphasis offers some intriguing thoughts related to much behind the scenes perhaps at the nation’s Capitol with a lot of interaction among one’s own. Like family as it were. No surprise: We’re on the elections campaign trail again, and secrets abound.

But the lunation also points to other drama, much related to cultures that don’t always fit in with what the mainstream would call “the majority.” We’re still dealing with–and will be for some time to come–Pluto’s presence in Capricorn and the need for accountability in government from the top down, including state officials. I’ll develop another article soon on these events related to several arrests by federal authorities since the beginning of 2015 and their relationship to events taking place over 100 years ago. I confess I had thought about merging that story with this one, but I fear it would detract from what needs to be said here. The full article would have amounted to a small book at the rate I was going because it has the most incredible relationship to current events. I love history! Although I didn’t care for it in school, I discovered a deep appreciation for the subject when I was working on my first book. When injected with life, history is the story all of us are writing. When we add the astrological correlations, the subject evolves to truly remarkable status–at least for me.

The ongoing T-square between the Saturn-Mercury opposition with the arm pointing to Neptune in the 2nd house was one of two taking place during the Full Moon. The Full Moon itself, from the Sun in the 4th to the Moon in the 10th, forms another T-square with Jupiter in the 8th house in a 12-minute partile degree!

While it would be nice if that loaded below-the-horizon energy were to indicate a sense of financial relief to the poor, to the victims of recent rioting, or perhaps to Nepal but this appears to be more focused on domestic issues. That second quadrant emphasis, however, just makes me inclined to think funding will continue to be an emotionally hot topic. I don’t imagine the Congress will be likely to come to a meeting of the minds when discussions about who gets what funding arises. A little innovative funding would certainly be nice. Perhaps that would finally include some, if not all, of the minority groups. There are countless issues to be addressed, but then one merely has to read the newspapers to know that.

On those minority issues and Full Moons, I don’t remember where the Moon was the day my mother said to me, “No, you’re not going to Israel to live on a kibbutz for the summer. You can do that any time. You’re going to live with the Indians this year.”

People didn’t say “native Americans” back then. There were Indians–those who lived on the reservations here in the United States, and the East Indians, who lived on the other side of the world. Coming from upstate New York, I knew there were reservations not far from us, but I never saw much. It seemed like a world not much different from my own except that I’d heard boys in my elementary school talking about going to powwows somewhere in the Finger Lakes Region where we were living, but it hadn’t even connected in my mind yet that this had been a cultural feature and not something related simply to the Boy Scouts.

Life in New York State was about all I knew of the world by the time this summer had rolled around. I knew of foreign lands, but the extent of my travels had taken me from all over the state to Canada, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and that magical place called New York City. My mom had bought me a book, Children of Many Lands. I cherished that book in the 3rd grade, and I was fascinated with the stories of children in other countries. As a child performer, I did a lot of singing, dancing and playing several instruments for audiences throughout the state. Those performances were all related to Israel. But I never learned–that I recall–there were reservations all over the United States, much less more than 100 tribes because, for the most part, my world hadn’t moved beyond 3 states and the country to the north.

My resisting Mom’s words fell on deaf ears. I, at 16, was going that summer to live on an Indian reservation somewhere in the United States. She wasn’t going to hear another thing about it.

Originally, the plan had been that I was to leave with a group of teens bound for somewhere in North Carolina, to live with the Cherokees that summer. Then the plan changed, and I was told we were heading to live with the Ojibway and Chippewa in Wisconsin. But finally, just weeks before we were scheduled to leave, we learned the destination: The Badlands, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, home to the Oglala Sioux on the largest Indian reservation in the United States of America. They speak Lakota and many also speak English, I’m sure. Not all spoke English back then.

Pine Ridge Sioux

The Badlands is South Dakota’s version of the Grand Canyon, beautiful in its own right although nothing like the varying shades of reds and golds associated with Arizona’s version. Here, you see the yellow and green carved canyons–somewhat fruitful even in the summer but mostly with tumbleweeds and sage and a cactus here and there. The Badlands are not quite as steep as the Grand Canyon and somewhat more misty–a bit like the scenes I’ve seen in photos taken by a friend in Penzance although those she’s taken remind me that such places of infinite beauty often bring me back to the Badlands in my memories just as they do to snippets of English literature.

But unlike those views of England, those I associate with the Badlands include the sagebrush–a heavenly fragrance–and the flat elliptical growths of cactus that are also completely different from the saguaros of Arizona. Rattlesnakes live in the Badlands just as they do in Arizona. I never saw one in Arizona. I did in the Badlands. I was grateful it was sleeping although I don’t imagine they bother you if you don’t bother them. I’m not interested in finding out.
Badlands National ParkThe population of Pine Ridge at that time was somewhere between 6000 and 10000. I think the reservation then was 10000 but I don’t remember exactly. All of us in our group were going to live at the Red Cloud Indian School, home to boarding students from all over the reservation. I’d gone to camp in cabins with other kids but never to what would have been the equivalent of a hostel on a campus. I’d share some of the photos with you but they’re on slides, and I don’t know if they can be converted after all these years. How they even survived a 1000°F fire some years ago when our house burned down is simply beyond me, but I have some of them left. One of the shots was taken at sundown, a photo of all of us kids in the group sitting on the steps to the entrance to the hostel.

Curfew was at 9 pm, not because we couldn’t be trusted but because White Clay, Nebraska was two miles away. When government checks arrived, there was always the scramble to see whether the sober spouse–mostly women–could get to them first so their families could be fed, or countless alcoholics, mostly men, got the checks and headed to White Clay to get drunk. A girl out past curfew wasn’t safe. Today, alcoholism has no gender.

In 2013, the New York Times made mention that Pine Ridge is one of the poorest parts of the United States. It would seem nothing has changed since I was there. The average per capita income on the reservation back then was less than US$2000. Whole families with grandparents, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers and children lived in one- and two-room houses with outhouses usually separated from the main house by yards of dusty, yellowed hard grass, the memory of which reminds me of the hard grass you often found in Tempe, Arizona, even after the lawn was watered. (Flagstaff had the kind of grass you could walk through in your bare feet, but I never found it in Tempe.) It seems like that much has changed in Pine Ridge in the sense that not all homes have outhouses anymore, and the entire family from grandparents to the babies aren’t always living in those one- or two-room abodes.

Pine Ridge was surrounded by history. No, it was steeped in history. About 10 minutes away in another direction, was Wounded Knee, where the 1890 massacre of more than 250 Indians led to the 1973 Wounded Knee protest when the same number seized the village for 71 days, resulting in the deaths of two federal agents and 300 people arrested including Russell Means and Dennis Banks.

American Indian Movement – Wounded Knee Documents
Native History – AIM occupation of Wounded Knee begins

Wayback Machine archives of a blog related to the occupation of Wounded Knee
Wounded Knee Incident – Wikipedia

South Dakota - Wounded Knee massacreSouth Dakota - Wounded Knee protest starts at nightNeither of the times I’ve used for the Wounded Knee charts are accurately noted. However the massacre began in the morning of the 29th of December 1890, so I used sunrise as the foundation point for that time. In contrast, I used the Wounded Knee protest for evening/night since I’d seen both timeframes and concluded that it was around 7 pm when the 54 cars converged on Wounded Knee.

On the day of the massacre, 2nd house Mars (if I’m even remotely close to the time) was placed at 9 Pisces 24, precisely–to the minute–where Neptune is as I write this! (Is that the theme from The Twilight Zone I hear?) in opposition to Saturn in the 8th as it formed a square to Venus in Sagittarius in an 18-minute opposition to a Neptune-Pluto conjunction. Quite the mutable Grand Cross with Mars as the bridge!

On the 9th of May 2015, Jupiter will make a precise–to the minute–opposition to where it was that day at 13 Aquarius 58, and the Moon was opposing at 15 Leo 15.

Obviously, the massacre didn’t start at the precise moment of this chart any more than the protest was completely wrapped up in the 24 hours of the first day of the siege, but how curious that I chose to write about this pair of events now.

Both Wounded Knee events have much to do with Santana’s story, as you’ll see. The drama unfolding that winter’s day in 1890 when more than 250 were massacred and the 1973 hostile takeover of Wounded Knee in retaliation for all that went wrong between the more than 103 native American tribes have been linked to events taking place through the years. What’s happening today has much to do with that history because it speaks of a downtrodden people, just as other history addresses other downtrodden people the United States calls minorities.

Miss Cronshey lived on the reservation. She had been a missionary who went to Pine Ridge to convert people to her religion, I suppose. Pine Ridge changed her life, and she stayed to become a foster mother to the more than 100 babies she found placed in the dumps where people throw their unwanted garbage for takeway. I don’t know if the beliefs about babies born out of wedlock are the same there today as they were back then. When I was there, if the father didn’t claim a baby as his, that baby wasn’t considered human. Miss Cronshey’s heart was so large and beautiful, she took the babies she found into her home and raised them as her own. I love speaking about her but while I know she had been from Morristown, New Jersey, I don’t know if she ever went home again. I suppose she did. Pine Ridge became her home.
Laughing childrenWhenever I look at this photo of the children, laughing together, not a care in the world, even though the children on the reservation never smiled and laughed like that in my presence that I remember, this picture reminds me of them, their dark eyes shining, the joy in their faces, the sounds of their laughter… Memories are often blurred but I suspect the blurring here lies in my understanding today that the children on the reservation didn’t trust us because we were strangers, of course. We were there to interact, to learn about the culture, and to build a day camp for the children, a picnic and camping area for families, and a few miles of barbed wire fences. As much as we worked, as much of ourselves we gave, I believe we came away with the bigger rewards.

Miss Cronshey changed my life, and I never forgot her. She was the first one who taught me the meaning of seva in ways I understand today even though neither of us knew the word back then. But she lived it by dedicating her life to these children who became men and women trying to make life work better and to make a difference in the world on and/or off the reservation. I often wonder where they are today and how their lives turned out.

For that matter, I wonder where those children are today because of how much has changed–and how much has remained the same there. In the course of my researching the Civil Rights feature I mentioned in the first paragraph, I got some answers I never wanted and prayed would never be.

Today, the reservation is home to between 16000 and 40000. A little girl named Santana Janis, however, is no longer there. She killed herself in February this year. She was 12 years old.

The New York Times called Santana “Lakota.” How they used the term seemed to be misleading. As I recall–and I could be wrong–all Sioux in that area, from the Pine Ridge Reservation to the Rosebud Reservation east of there and beyond are Lakota. This, to me, is like the definition of a person who is from Orissa versus Maharashtra or Karnataka or any other of India’s states: The defining factor is then based on one’s being Brahmin or Punjabi or another of the multiple castes. But these are my impressions, and impressions, being what they are, can be wrong and need correcting.

Anyway, Santana was a beautiful little girl, but she lived in a community with a mother who was back and forth in her life because her mom was consumed by the bottle. Santana’s world was witness to alcoholism and violence of varying kinds. Not the place you’d want a little girl with bright hopes for a future where she could ride horses and offer positive energy to the world. The Wounded Knee student gave her grandfather a dismissive promise that she wouldn’t kill herself, and then she did. She became a statistic when she hanged herself that day.

More than 100 others from Santana’s age to 24 have tried since then; luckily, they did not succeed. Two years ago, there were five suicides on the reservation, adults and children, a far cry from the nine including Santana who ended their lives between December and March.
Suicide Epidemic midpoint chartI chose a midpoint chart for mid-February so I could look to see what was going on. I’m not looking at the closer aspects, merely at the squares, and it’s so evident that by mid-February, the Uranus-Pluto square had been in partile aspect while Saturn was closing in on its square to Neptune. I was already calling it the Peeling of Life’s Onion. While we can’t obtain each of the charts of those who committed suicide at that time, just knowing these aspects were in play reminds us of a continual battle between those who didn’t make it and the hopes and dreams they had being squashed by the lives they had been living.

Some years back, I remember a meat packing plant had been in Pine Ridge, the town itself, offering hopes for tomorrow where the population could at last begin to become self-sufficient. I remember the reservation being steeped in poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, and domestic violence. The meat packing plant offered hope that things would change, but it would seem, however, that something happened to the plant instead, leaving the Sioux still plagued by the problems that haunted them when I was there.

Unemployment at Pine Ridge is 85%. In 2013, federal budget cuts were going to be catalysts for cuts affecting meal delivery to often housebound elderly, to Head Start and school programs, police who often are dealing with gang growth and related activity and, of course, health services.

In its article on suicide among the young in Pine Ridge, published on May 1, 2015, the New York Times notes, “Tribe officials, clergy members and social workers say they cannot remember such a high rate of suicides and attempts in such a short period of time on the reservation, which is already overwhelmed with high rates of unemployment, poverty, domestic abuse and alcohol addiction.”

Santana’s story is one small glimpse of life there. In the same New York Times article, John Two Bulls offers an equally disturbing picture:

“John Two Bulls, a pastor who works with youths on the reservation, said that two months ago, he was tipped off to a group suicide planned in a wooded area outside the town of Pine Ridge. Frantic, he drove to the spot.

“’It was cold, it was dark, and there was a row of trees with ropes hanging off the branches,’ he said. ‘I was thankful that we were able to get there without finding anybody hanging from those ropes.’

“Some teenagers had already congregated there, he said, and he urged them to gather around. ‘I counseled them, prayed with them, talked with them,’ he said. They told him that ‘they were tired of the lives they had at home, no food, with parents all intoxicated, and some were being abused, mentally or sexually.’”

I have to add my sense that history needs to be mentioned too. You don’t get poverty and all of the abuses noted here without the history that led to these times. Children live what they learn–and learn what they live. The Sioux, like all native Americans, are a proud people with an amazing history that points to a strongly independent, moral and ethical lifestyle. But if you take the will of a person or a group and break it down far enough, as happened throughout history with the native Americans and other groups, you grind out that fiber of Life itself, of wanting to achieve, of wanting to create a better life not only for oneself but for the entire group and/or the world beyond.

Tragically, the superintendent of the Red Cloud Indian School where I stayed, said schools are constantly dealing with suicide. Stephanie Schweitzer Dixon, a suicide prevention group director in Rapid City about 40 miles from Pine Ridge, calls teen suicide “contagion.” I think she’s on to something–even more when I think of the merely 6 mental health workers who are dealing with this epidemic. Don’t mistake the word. It’s a fact. It’s an epidemic.

I was overwhelmed with grief at something Santana’s grandfather said in the same article. How I had prayed this had changed in the years since I was there: “…he points to the ‘multigenerational trauma’ inflicted on Native Americans by whites and the tensions that still exist between the groups. On an overnight trip to Rapid City over the New Year, a group of girls including Santana overheard a white woman call them ‘filthy Indians’ as they passed through a hotel lobby.”

I went to Rapid City on a day trip during my summer with the Oglala Sioux, and the signs I saw back then in the windows of hotels and restaurants have lingered in my mind all these years: “No Indians allowed.” It was something I didn’t comprehend back then and I certainly don’t now. I just wish people would learn, mg how I wish they would learn! This world is blessed with diversity, with the beauty of nature, of all hues, of all cultures and groups, and I’m so very grateful because I’ve been blessed to be a part of it with my own multiple origins.

Pine Ridge isn’t alone. I mentioned the Rosebud Reservation, a smaller place. Its population was only 13000 by 2007 when that same general period–from January through March–saw the deaths of a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man. Both had been shining stars in their community–he a well-respected and admired high school athlete and she a straight A student. Three more suicides and many more attempts followed. The Tribal Council declared a state of emergency and by mid-year, a total of 144 attempts had been made, including seven in a 24-hour period. Suicide today is the second leading cause of death among teens in the Indian Nation, ten times the national average.  Indian Reservation Reeling in Wave of Youth Suicides and Attempts

The article from 2007 mentions federal lawmakers who were “beginning to address the problem, [thanks to] Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.” Dorgan had “introduced a bill to combat child abuse and Indian youth suicide,” in hopes that such “legislation would provide increased resources for suicide prevention training and treatment.” I didn’t see any indication of this bill having gone to fruition with the funds actually provided although there was a US$400000 grant used to train school employees and community members in suicide prevention and intervention. It’s not enough though. The New York Times points out that Rosebud only had 4 full-time mental health professionals with two expected to leave soon after.

The New York Times quoted Richard L. Zephier, executive director of the Oglala Sioux in 2013. “More people sick; fewer people educated; fewer people getting general assistance; more domestic violence; more alcoholism. That’s all correlated to the cuts from sequestration.” Budget Cuts Fall Heavily on American Indians

When we think of life in the world around us, we don’t always think of those people we don’t know and can’t see. Our personal problems are often a matter of the energy we’re putting out or receiving from the world beyond, but we generallyusually–have hope.

As my memories took me back today to Plains country where these beautiful people live, I remembered a powwow with young boys of 8, 9, 10 years of age, clad in beaded buckskin and feathers, dancing in the bright light of day in the dusty circle surrounded by people and huge drums, the size of which I’d never seen before. The drums required 6, 7 or more men to keep the beat as singers chanted in Lakota. The boys’ beaded moccasins came up high and back to earth in rhythm with the drums and the chants. Whether they wore shirts or where bare-chested, if they noticed the heat that day, they didn’t seem to notice nor did I: There wasn’t a bead of sweat on their bare skin. These memories aren’t usually in the minds of people when they walk outside their doors, and they don’t always come to my mind anymore…but sometimes they do as they are doing today.

I have joyful memories and nostalgia as I think of those times with laughter in my heart and sorrow that it went by so quickly. I bought a pair of beaded moccasins with tree bark soles just across the street from the laundromat where all of us did our clothes. The floors in the laundromat must have been tilted just enough that you had to watch the machines closely because they were known to try to ‘escape.’ For me, I have the memories of the powwows and the Sun Dance festival when I was taking shots right near the BBC photog who was there that day. The tribal elders wore buckskins fully adorned with the most beautiful beadwork, and it was an all day affair. But the festivals and the powwows gave them joyful times to look forward to because time between these events was often long.

Hopelessness reigned there when I was 16, and yet there was still pride in the people. Perhaps that made a difference. I’d like to think so even though I knew that the hope Miss Cronshey offered to the babies whose lives she saved made a difference between the hopelessness of a newborn and the hopelessness of what could be in people’s lives there today. It seems the degree of hopelessness has increased, resulting in teen suicide there.

I’m not well-versed in what happens with teen suicide, but it’s a subject that has haunted me through the years. One of my cousins killed himself when I was 14. Another when I was 17. She was 18. And another, an adult like the first one, some years after that. The last one I actually understood because she had suffered greatly with physical challenges that I’ve suspected were related to where she was born–Los Alamos, New Mezico–during the time the A Bomb was being developed.

I did a little research because I wanted to know what brings one to such a state of hopelessness, and I was surprised to find the following in Suicide Prevention: A Holistic Approach, Edited by D. De Leo and R.F.W. Diekstra (©2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers):

Reflections on the State of Suicidology by Rene F.W. Diekstra

Page 6:  “The number of people, lay people, volunteers, semi-professionals and professionals, around the world devoting their time, energy, affeciton and intellect in one way or another to those who are suicidal or in despair is simply immense, and in my view, one of the most impressive testimonies of Emmanuel Kant’s and James Wilson’s assertions (Wilson, 1993) that man indeed has an innate moral sense, a capacity for sympathy, a faculty for allowing him- or herself to be influenced by the experiences and feelings of fellow-
human beings. If anything, suicides and suicidologists have mobilized communities indeed.

Page 10-11: Diekstra writes that even the most famous suicidologists of the last 100 years, regardless of whom, “have never in their entire life been able to observe in actual fact the phenomenon to which they have devoted the larger part of their life, energy and intellect. In this respect suicidology, the scientific study of the nature, magnitude and preventability of suicidal behavior, is to a large extent the pursuit of a secret. A dark secret, to many.

…Suicide is not a disease, unlike measles, smallpox, tuberculosis or Aids. Therefore, man’s relationship with suicide was, is and will remain fundamentally different from his relationship with any of the other entities listed in the International Classification of Diseases.

…Suicide is different. Although a large majority of people consider suicide to be highly undesirable, a considerable minority at one time or another during their lives welcome or seek out suicide, deliberately plan for its occurrence, sometimes with the assistance of others. Clearly, suicide is not a disease. Suicide is different. It is a behaviour, a ‘be-have-iour’,  something that all humans ‘have’ as an integral part of their being, of their existence. Suicide, in the most literal sense of the word, is an existential possibility, a ‘posse-ability’, something man has the ability to ‘pose‘, has the ability to do.

The Suicidal Process in Young Suicides by Bo S. Runeson

Page 109: Runeson speaks of suicide attempts years in the making, even among young adults. “Previous suicide attempts were found in 2/3, often of seemingly low intention. Suicidal communication close to the suicide was fairly uncommon.

The suicidal process in major depression was fairly short, communication and drug poisoning in the final act uncommon. First-time/recurrent depressions were equally common, the severity of the symptoms was not necessarily high.

The previous suicidal behaviour in adjustment disorder had the shortest duration, previous attempts were uncommon. Psychosocial stressors were mild. These deaths were totally unexpected and took place among previously healthy subjects.

The suicidal processes in BPD [borderline personality disorder] were fairly long models for suicidal behaviour within the family were frequent…

The schizophrenic suicidal processes were long, suicidal models were common. Psychosocial stressors were severe and enduring.

For me, I see a tragic loss of life while my thoughts lean not to the clinical but to the Human Element. I see snippets of seva in these articles, indicating that there are people trying to make a difference in Pine Ridge and the other reservations across the country. If only Washington would get it. Budget cuts create hopelessness when you’re already broke. You’re just creating a larger black cloud that’s been looming over the area for years.

But when you create hopelessness in children–many of whom may be the children of those whom I saw as little ones being raised, fed, clothed and educated by Miss Cronshey, little ones who may still play on the playground we built, eating snacks at the picnic tables we built that summer–there is no hope, there is no seva, and they lose sight of life.

I never did get to Israel, but that was my life-changing summer, a summer that set the tone for all these years since then.

Mom taught me seva too, but I didn’t understand from her. After all, she was my mom. Mom was my life changer. She always was, but that was the summer that really changed my life.

There is no happy ending to this article. It’s painful now, perhaps even more so for me since I was there. I remember those days with such love, the warmth of interacting with the tribe and with Miss Cronshey. The various tribes in this nation had their zest for life and living the ways of the tribe taken from them while outsiders came to settle the lands as if the land was theirs to take. It’s not logical that the cities now are returned to the tribes, but it is time that the United States government steps up the pace in doing the right thing for the indigenous peoples of this land. I’m not sure how much in reparations it would take, but we’re a far cry from being there.

This post is dedicated not only to the Pine Ridge Reservation and Miss Cronshey, but to Santana and those who may still be fighting to live whether on a reservation or in a domestic or international city somewhere. Please remember your staying alive gives all of us a chance to make it right. The challenge lies in getting angry enough to fight to live so you can help to make a difference in the world.

Namaste, I love you.

©2015 Michelle Young