The history of this country can be presented as the dispossession of the indigenous inhabitants. It can also be understood as a gradual dispossession of the settlers: an erosion of the spirit.The pioneers were European, mainly British, consciously and unconsciously formed by a culture springing from a peculiar sense of time and place, elsewhere and rapidly elsewhen. The generations born here were obliged to engage in a process of making sense of themselves as non-European Europeans, and are still doing it. Underlying that process, fresh in the minds of recent immigrants, increasingly unconscious in the descendants of earlier arrivals, is a sense of separation, which causes an initial irrational reinforcement of meanings which derive from experience elsewhere, but slowly penetrates, evaluates and distances itself from those meanings.
People generally don’t sit around discussing meaning. They share it. They don’t gravitate towards others who share the same anxieties, but rather towards others who repress anxiety in the same practices. Some Australians go to church or temple; some think and dream in a foreign place, in a foreign language or dialect. Descendants of early settlers largely do not. Their culture imposes itself in other ways, which often seem materialistic, shallow and ill-equipped to understand, let alone answer, questions such as, who am I? what is my life for? what do you mean? Many Australians die without a personally satisfactory resolution of these questions.
In many ways perhaps the starkest inadequacy of Australian culture, which even calls into question that we have one, is our failure to share ownership of our country with the people we took it from. The invisible alignment of the Sun with the constellation Libra—aha, I finally get to the point—gives me the opportunity to suggest a perspective which might help.
In my mind, the resonances of ‘Libra’ encapsulate everything I’ve been saying. Historically, this is not the time of year for treaties, for understanding and acknowledging the impact of our behaviour on others, or for listening and responding to voices counselling our alienation. It is crunch time. The season will not wait. Whether or not to cut down those trees, what to do about the blackfellas in the creekbed, the ailing health of faraway kin, are all matters which must be put aside until the hay is in the shed. It’s not even an ordering of priorities, but an imperative. This is how I understand the occupation of this country, in terms of imperatives.
Life is not a journey, or at least it only appears as one at the end of the day when we have the opportunity to construct its narrative. Rather, it is one imperative after another, and it is cyclical, not linear. When the Sun rises it is time to get up, when we are hungry it is time to eat, when we are lonely it is time to seek fellowship, and when we ride into town it is time to arrange the evacuation of the blackfellas in the creekbed.
The constellation Libra has since time immemorial in the northern hemisphere been seen in the night sky as the scales of justice. This season back up there is a time of growing urgency to get prepared for the onset of winter, a time to conclude hostilities, to trade, to settle. To negotiate, to conclude, to compromise, are activities which present insuperable difficulties in a society of people from all over the world. Fortunately, from the very beginning, we have been able to fall back on an institution which enables us to get things done when we don’t see eye to eye: the police force and the rule of law.
When I look at Libra, I do not see a symbol of deliberation on two sides of an argument. I see a symbol of submission in the interests of cohesion and security. I see the letter, not the spirit of the law. I see a policeman’s boot. It is the boot we have used to solve the problem of the indigenous people.
Nonetheless, it is a constellation which we see rising in early April and most prominent in the early Spring, when our anxieties are being successfully repressed by that most Melbournian cultural adherence, Australian Rules Football. The ambivalence of our attitude to organised and professional sport is what is on the scales of Libra. It is just a game, we say, but without conviction. We are disturbed by defeat and affirmed by victory, but above all we hate the umpiring, unless a free kick on the siren has handed us the game. That’s Libra.
When Libra is in the fourth house, Aries is in the tenth. The path to realisation lies in overcoming the very same instinctive passion which lies in the root of being. What mires the subject in the wheel of suffering is a paradoxical clinging to the law which others see as rebellion. The courage to get on with it is assailed on all sides by the injustice of the external system essential to self-regulation.
Today the noonday Sun enters that configuration for the first time this year. It occurs to me that you are probably unfamiliar with the houses of Southern Hemisphere Astrology, and I must get around to tagging earlier posts. However, haycarting has commenced, as it must.