My parents. Stories #2: 'Johnny is home again!'
and 'My second set of parents'.
I start with seeking the heart of the matter.


In touch with our singular conditions

In the numbers 1, 3 and 6 of ZIGZAGZINE, the series on structure, I have spoken about our singularity, our unique personality, which expresses itself in our behaviour. We get enveloped and develop ourselves in an environment which we can partly determine by ourselves. For me the most important question is: what does this human singularity, hidden behind entanglements and involvements of life, look like? There is a general human structure, there are rather general patterns according to which processes of human life develop. I have begun to describe parts of this. But the singularity of every person, what do we know about that?
Leading from Albert Einstein's story, in which he compares the points of view of people on solid ground and on a running train, I started to think about the consequences of his findings on my question about the singularity of every individual. Einstein found out that everything is relative to its own frame of reference, or to be more specific: its own system of co-ordinates. I started to wonder whether the theory has consequences for our personal frame of reference. Do we, humans, have an individual system of co-ordinates to start with?
In the last zine, number 6, I have tried to find the four co-ordinates of a place at a specific time. It has become clear that indeed four co-ordinates in space refer to a specific place and time on earth. The remarkable thing is that, of old, astrologers have linked the place and time of an event to the particular character of that event. Even more remarkable: they have always linked place and time of birth to the character and path of life of the newly born person. Such a birth chart or 'horoscope' (= image or picture of the hour), according to astrologers, presents a picture of the field of activity and the nature of the instruments with which the person faces the world and the pattern according to which he envelops or develops himself in the course of his process of life.

With the help of my stories, of events which were important enough for me to remember, I want to try to reproduce some of the essence of my individual attitudes as the old symbols in my birth chart specify them. By the way: if that would be successful it should be quite easy for someone conversant with these archetypes to reconstruct my birth chart and, by approximation, the place and time of my birth.

In the earliest event which I remember and shall tell you now, my mother plays an important role. The story which I am going to tell after that provides a picture of how I look at fathers and mothers, what I expect of them and what role power plays in such events.


There he is! Johnny is home again!

There he is! Johnny is home again!

"I sat on the floor, close to my mother's chair. Mummy was sitting in a large chair, a few meters from the windows with her back to the stove, facing the windows and me. I was either playing or listening to a story. I am sure that I was feeling particularly contented because of the quietness and the attention of that moment; everything was peaceful.
Suddenly Mummy looked out of the window and, seeing my older brother approaching, she said radiantly: 'There he is! Johnny is home again!'
I felt deserted or replaced or forgotten. The feeling of contentment had gone."


My second set of parents

'My second set of parents'

"It was the very first Sunday after my arrival. We were sitting, unlike on weekdays, at the large table in the living room and we had crusty rolls for breakfast. I received a roll on my plate and started to cut it lengthwise. This produced great hilarity in the children and in my Swiss Mamma. I was bewildered, with no idea of what I had done wrong. I felt laughed at. It was the first time I had been present at this Sunday ceremony as I had only been in Rain, a village near Luzern, for a few days. It was 1944, during the war, and I had arrived on a Red Cross train filled with children from Holland. I was to stay there for three months. I was nine years old and grasped little of the Swiss-German they were speaking. Pappa understood what was going on and kindly showed me how they handle a roll. He put another roll on my plate, cut it in slices like one cuts a French stick, spread it first with butter and then with jam, both nice and thick. The jam was orange coloured and everything was fine.

Towards the end of my stay, something similar happened. I was very upset, angry, distressed, contrary or all three of these. Mamma apparently could not handle it and had sent for Pappa.
He asked: 'Do you have pain, does your belly ache?'
'No I don't'.
'Then what is wrong?'
'I don't know'.
'Are you homesick perhaps?'
I did not know what he meant and said 'No'.
Pappa asked 'Do you miss your mother?'
'Then perhaps your father?'
'... No'.
'Then what is the matter? Is there something else?'
Then I knew: I missed my baby sister. She was about fifteen months at that time."

What I remember is the attention of my Swiss Pappa, and my surprise about the fact that it was my little sister I missed and not my father which I thought would have been more likely.

What I remember about my Swiss Mamma is how proud she was of her oldest child, her daughter Annemarie, and how she made it subtly clear to me that I was an outsider. I also remember her talking to me in the garden or on other occasions, mostly about her oldest. Later, when visiting the family during vacations in Switzerland, this was also the case.


How do I deal with this now? I start with seeking the heart of the matter!

The strong similarities between my own parents and my Swiss parents struck me only much later. Only when I understood that every person of necessity looks at the world from his individual needs, and as a consequence images a notion of a father and a mother from these needs, the similarity between the sets of parents struck me. When you think about it it is quite clear that siblings do not naturally have the same image of their parents. Because they happen to have the same parents and have grown up under seemingly the same circumstances they do not have to have the same needs.
A strongly marked theme in my life, directly tied up with these two stories, started as an astonishment regarding the presuppositions of people in positions of power which later developed into questioning the same. My experience with people whose power is based less upon experience and individual thinking than on habit, their function or on status, ranges from childish and angry to more self-confident and slightly confrontational in more recent years. My more recent experience also includes empathizing with people who find it difficult to break through these sort of unconscious preset ideas or blind spots, which have ceased to be workable.


The stories in review

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Concise descriptions relevant to the stories

Terms and symbols
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The question to be asked is: 'What place do mothers, fathers and the unspoken power behind ideas have in my daily life?'.

When approaching the world around me I apply the EIGHTH pattern of beginning.

fig.1: Rini Sips
Click for the full birthchart
  1. This means that, at first, my view of the world is coloured in such a way that I am really only interested if it both has sufficiant substance and is practical;
    More about this pattern of beginning can be found in Zine #5, where the first phase is defined as: 'At the start I concentrate on the heart of the matter. First of all I brush aside everything that is irrelevant. If I cannot grasp the heart of the matter then I do not begin. I relish beginning -- on condition that I can also believe in it, that taking the initiative will be worthwhile. I can only begin if there are also possibilities for growth'.
    The intended outcome of this pattern of beginning is: reject the finished product in order to free inner space and allow progress, and in the second place be able to concentrate on one single goal;
  2. From the start I relate the activity to my compelling need to understand. Mere facts do not suffice. I need to put them in my own frame of thought, integrate them in my story. 'Straight from the beginning I routinely satisfy my compelling need to emphatically understand the behaviour, the motives and the thinking of others', 'Immediately and rapidly I seek to grasp a framed and routine approach' are possible phrases.
  3. The ideal which people with this pattern of beginning look for from the very start has been described in Zine #5 as: 'I love tangible goals and ideals. They need not be realistic, they must be absolutely understandable. I form objectives emotionally, I feel where it should go, I can't even name it, I have a feeling for ideals. It's not difficult for me to transfer my own ideals. People can read it from my face, see it in my eyes and in my enthusiasm. I appreciate traveling comfortably because that helps me to stay anchored;
    But ultimately I want to reach my own ideal'
  4. 'I very much love the relation between the thoughts of others and my own thoughts', 'I have a strong bond with the individual ways of other people', 'What do people tell us about what prompts them, what they long for, how they pursue their goals?' are possible phrases.
  5. 'I approach the subjectivity and taciturnities behind ways of thinking in a mixed associative and searching manner'.

As there is no further reference, the series of connections for me comes to a stop at this point.

  1. Beginning from the ASCENDANT which is in the sign (filter or colouring) of SCORPIO;
  2. From phase 1, via PLUTO in the 9th phase in the sign of CANCER,
  3. to the 9th phase;
  4. in the sign of CANCER. The next step is to follow the reference to the planet which is most related with Cancer. That is the MOON, also in the ninth phase, also in Cancer.
  5. Both heavenly bodies are situated so closely together that their individual identity is not quite discernible for me.
  1.   de Maan  MOTHERS who were very feeling and caring, who had strong associative faculties, who also very much appreciated their personal comfort and their security, tried to reason and idealized their motherhood and their children. They loved foreign countries and other cultures.
  2. The connection between de Maan   and  Pluto:
    Both my mothers were, as I understood later, unaware of their being socially determined by the - in their time prevailing - restricted role as a wife and as a mother. The mothers reacted with coercive measures, with rejection or with denial to their feeling of inability to offer protection. At moments when her expectations of an ideal child were not answered, her inherent lack of understanding of our individuality could lead to a reaction of rejection.
  3. The above can literally be translated to myself. I have discovered that I am in great need of tenderness and warmth. I find it difficult to admit my feelings and to use them properly. I am a poor liar and tact is not my strongest feature.
    Now I am learning to empathize more easily and to give feedback. Gradually I am becoming more on the alert for unspoken arguments, for signals of power underlying reasoning and theories.
  1. The MOON is situated in her own sign CANCER, in the 9th phase;
  2. PLUTO is in conjunction joined with the MOON. In this case the Moon runs up against the planet Pluto;
  3. My own side of the experiences, a piece of my learning process.
  1.   de Zon  The sun, at the outset, represents the father function. Later on this shifts to expressing one's inmost nature.
    The third phase in the sign of Capricorn has been described in Zine #5 as: 'I am independent in the accumulation of knowledge. Independently I stipulate my own conditions. The acquaintances I want are independent, reliable and faithful to themselves. They also quietly follow their own path. I keep at a distance from my acquaintances. My information is reliable;
    But in the end I need information which is out of the ordinary, and exceptional acquaintances'
    The example my fathers set for me was: first go and get the information, ask questions, listen, observe and relate or moderate differences and, after that, stipulate your own conditions. The structuring, strategic manner, going step by step, alone and responsibly testing the feasability of the case, these are - from my point of view - characteristic for fathers. They approach the acquisition of data, necessary to obtain a general view, in a reserved, objective and rational manner.
  2. The connection between  de Zon  en  Pluto:
    My father was also socially determined in his role as husband and as a father. The fathers, in cases of doubt, confusion, powerlessness, and when confronted with a subjective reality which was being placed on the statute book, tried to use communication, rationality and facts.
  3. This also can be translated to myself. I have discovered that the negation of my individuality caused much confusion and doubt for many years. The need to prove myself and to exert pressure on people do not testify to respect. I have been sensitive to 'it should be thus!' and 'it must be thus!' reasoning and prefer now to find things out for myself. I like to challenge things by asking questions. I try to use humor, mockery, and level-headed reasoning when I am in doubt or when in danger of getting confused or not being understood.
    Experiencing rejection and negation, lack of understanding and of respect produces lasting after-effects. Not until later in life, after doubt and confusion are overcome, can digestion and growth on a conscious adult level develop.
  1. The SUN is situated in the sign of CAPRICORN in the 3rd phase;

  2. PLUTO is in opposition joined with the SUN. In my case the Sun moves away from the opposition.

  3. My particular side of the experiences, a piece of my learning process.

Analysis and summary

The opposition indicates that one must learn to build some sort of bridge between the two ends. In this case that means, with the help of the three instruments MOON, PLUTO and the SUN, having to combine
- both outward directed elements: activity (environment-space) and difference (environment-time), represented by phase 9 and the SUN and by phase 3;
- both inward directed elements: value (inner time) and context (inner space), represented by the sign of CAPRICORN and by the MOON, PLUTO and the sign of CANCER, respectively;
- the three forms of activity: evoke or make - respond or claim - rework or compare, represented by the SUN, the MOON, the signs of CANCER and CAPRICORN, by PLUTO and by phase 3 and phase 9 respectively.
Actually, all four elements, and so both directions, and all three forms of activity are set to work in this growing process. It means a shift from 'or' toward 'and' in respect of the pairs:

  • the need for something to hold on to and security or / and the risk of uncertainty,
  • subjective feeling without the necessity to be responsible or / and objective weighing up from a position of responsibility,
  • warm closeness or / and cool detachedness,
  • plain knowledge of facts or / and wisdom with more depth,
  • relate or / and comprehend,
  • the world of experience or / and the inner context,

and in respect of the trio:

  • make or / and do or / and digest.

A summarizing description of this process could be: 'I want to supply the rigid theories, with their irrational aspects coupled with rejection, which confuse me, with a quietly detached and light-hearted reasoning, which takes the subjective both in the underlying power(lessness) and in the emotional aspects into consideration'.

We have seen that from the Ascendant, at the start of something new, the perspective via the planet Pluto is being transposed to the 9th phase. We see that the combination described above becomes active after the use of the Ascendant which is coloured by the sign of Scorpio. To the above combination
- both space elements activity and context,
represented by ASCENDANT (phase 1) in SCORPIO, are added;
- with two of the three forms of activity, namely evoke or make and respond or claim represented by ASCENDANT (phase 1) in SCORPIO supplemented;
- with both directions open and experiencing, represented by ASCENDANT (phase 1) in the sign of SCORPIO supplemented.
The summarizing description now can be extended to: 'I play the role of the seeker who wants to understand and take hold of the essential intention of experiences and ways of thinking, including their irrational and compulsive sides. And when it is really important for me I want, through all powerlessness, to moderate the doubt and confusion with a bit of humor in the quiet certainty of knowing emotions and facts, the ideal of closeness uniting with light-hearted reservedness'.


Bits of the puzzle of my life

We are now somewhat clearer about the importance of the combination of the three capacities symbolized by Moon, Pluto and Sun. We have seen that they are directly related to the ASCENDANT, my way of standing in the world and my way of beginning. This combination of capacities, to my mind, plays a central role in my life.
But that is not all. I have more capacities at my disposal and the next question therefore needs to be: 'Are still other planets in dynamic relation with this combination?', followed by 'Which functions do these planets have within my pattern of beginning?'.