As should be evident by now, my astrology of the Southern Hemisphere is evolving from the bottom up, in every sense. It is beginning to codify Southern observations in Northern terms, as every language must submit itself to translation, but essential elements of traditional Northern astrology are missing and must be supplied. For instance, every bright star of the Northern sky has a name, associated through millennia of common usage with mythical figures, folk stories, parts of the body, humours, remedies and the like. Despite the best efforts of colonial anthropology, and against the background of catastrophic language loss, such a vocabulary exists in the South only in piecemeal and ambiguous form.
As a discourse, astrology must relate to reality as it is interpreted across a vast range of experience. In order for it to be shared, it must have a lexicon, but no language begins with a lexicon, and develops one only as its speakers discover they mean the same thing. Obviously, the basis of shared meaning is success in expressing what you want to say, and that desire comes first: the basis of language is interplay, with the emphasis on play. I observe phenomena of the Southern sky which you don’t, and I want to share what they mean to me. I want to play. It’s as simple as that.
That is how and why this Moon comes to have a peculiar Southern name.
As the midsummer Moon in the North riding low in the sky, it has a traditionally calming influence in the winter sign of dogged determination, but in the South, in the middle of winter, Sagittarius nears the zenith, and bears the tropical sign equivalent to the Northern sign of summer, Cancer, the glorious potential trap of the imagination. The polarity of these signs eloquently represents our contemporary predicament. Assailed by aggressive assertions of distinctive identity, we nevertheless cling to a faith in our connectedness, despite daily acts of extreme non-acceptance which begin to define the insipid defensive culture they reject. Like the good burghers of Nazi Germany, we are learning how to tacitly disown propaganda as the only way to protect our values in compassion and inclusion from stigma and violent enmity.
Highlighting our capitulation comes a Full Moon on the ninth of July over a city named after the ninth of July. What a sign!
The voice which stands out as unacceptable, because it distinguishes itself from propaganda, is no other than the voice of the zealots who gave independence to Argentina, and in wave after wave through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to polities around the world. What is independence? Why are we witnessing its renewed contesting all around us? What is the self we assume in self-determination? Must we renounce the security and comfort bequeathed by the zealots of our patriarchal and colonialist history? Will we all be happy in the swamp when the zealots of resentment have calmed down?
If the rabbit lives in hardship, she has few babies and the farmer can tolerate her. But it is the instinctive mechanism of rabbits in good times to make up for lost procreation, and it is this instinct which threatens the survival of farmland rabbits more than any other factor. The farmer must declare war. In plain words, the rabbit instinct defeats itself: they kill their offspring by having them; or they wouldn’t need to bear so many if they didn’t bear so many. Is this an analogy for what is happening in human communities? Is it time to fight even though we know we will lose? Is the instinct at war with reason? Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing?
Our days revolve through one madness after another, as the Moon’s full phase in each of the twelve houses around the world fittingly demonstrates. In Argentina, it is passing from paranoia to ambiguous survival in relativity, but in Washington, it is agonizing in the third house.
If we rotate our view west, the Moon is reflecting nicely the discrimination which our material survival drives over Mexico City, and the perfection we throw tantrums to demand over Pitcairn Island.
As we cross the Pacific we catch up to the setting Sun, when animal seriousness and ignorance lurk opposite the constricting complexities of afternoon attachment. Then we come to Australia, where east and west divide the world soul between boredom and deprivation, clinging to the future and clinging to the past. Things are always of great import in hell. In mid-morning India, profound emotional difficulties underlie the last swagger of gender traditions. Now, as we reach the early morning Middle East, the Moon is in the house of aggression.
What we do when we don’t get what we want is question what we want, but what we do when we don’t get what we deserve is take it. Mecca’s latitude denies it the Northern tropical signs of summer, and makes them Southern winter signs on the northern side of the zenith. This is a problem, because it does not get a playful intellect or a luxurious imagination. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining its rejection of astrology.
Paradoxically, we cannot linger if we wish to get maximum significance from this moment. The Moon in European and African western skies is dealing with our most pressing concerns in the dawn, with dreams of divine help to overcome intolerance and instinctive imperatives.
Perhaps withdrawal is the only way into heaven, as a northern orientation of the zodiac in the style of the South suggests. The vanity of Cassiopeia and her culpability in the sacrifice of Andromeda are perpetually represented at the elms near the entrance to hell by a justly deserved waterboarding chair. You want to change the world, right? As much prone to zealotry as you, but also, as a clock-watcher drawn to the infinite ways astrology can tell the time, I reckon you boring lecturers need to look north.
When we screw our eyes shut in grief it is not to stop the tears, and it is not to lock out rationality so that we can indulge, but it is because we are overwhelmed by something which must be protected from expertise as the deepest, most precious part of us, the spirit we offer in play, but are in danger of losing in dialogue. It is all vanity, which we don’t need to be told. All that is left of our whirlwind tour, before we head back across the Atlantic to North American midnight paranoia, is the fear of Western Europe as it awakens to the effects of its addictions in the early hours of another sleepless morning.
There is something demeaning in the proliferation these days of experts in motivation, nutrition, self-packaging, wellness, healing and the like. The factories are all closed, so I accept their existence, but their pitch is that life’s problems are delusions, and a trap they know how to spring. Bodhisattvas delaying nirvana for the sake of those who would be left without them in the coils of Maya, they are zealots in the vanguard of our battle with ourselves. What is demeaning in that is its erosion of faith in those who have already fallen, our forbears and the icons of our traditions, our continuity. I would be more comfortable in the company of experts if there were more explicit admission of the discriminatory symptoms they share with their clients, more respect for self-administered cures and compensations, and acknowledgement that when delusion goes, connection often goes with it.
Fitzroy in inner-urban Melbourne was a dangerous hippie haven once, teeming with atheist, Catholic, trade-unionist and Aboriginal zealots. Today, only conscientious caste-members and the usual contingent of mentally-ill criminals remain. Whenever a strident voice aches into the sky with the news that the world will end, because it is evil, corrupt, ignorant or unkind, they all say, you’re just healing.