"Know thyself." "The unexamined life is not worth living." 'Neti Neti'. "Smile and the world smiles with you; cry and you cry alone."
When the pilot light of your gas hot water blows out, it’s just a matter of relighting it and you’ll get hot water again. Its essence is its machinery. Animate things like us are not like that. There was a magnificent gum tree beside my access track whose roots were killed by the rising saltwater-table last year when conservationists across the river decided the mouth should stay blocked by the sand-bar a big storm had dumped. The local magpies still roost there, but it’s only the form of a tree: when hydraulics ceased, respiration and photosynthesis ceased permanently, and the essence of the tree vanished. The Moon exists in relation like a tree. When the time comes for a human being to pay it no mind, it still governs the tides. It’s a moot point whether it’s animate or a piece of machinery.
Your elders are still recovering from the rigours of your family reunion, still wondering exactly what role you expect them to play in your life. This Moon is in the lowest constellation of the Zodiac, in keeping with your elders’ wisest strategy. They’re getting on, aren’t they, these dotards you like to think of as at least having the potential, whatever the grievous harm they once had the power to inflict on you or your parents, to depart with dignity and grace, leaving the machinery running.
Indeed, when the Sun is in Sagittarius, and we are counting our blessings as we embrace a new year, the Moon is foreshadowing his goodbye. You will not peel your eyes to identify its background stars, I fear, but Gemini really is an evocative constellation. Upside down, the weirdly symmetrical twins could be conjoined in their coffin, immortalized in Forgetfulness. A veteran is complete unto himself. His symbol is the Twins. He is affirmed by his absent Other, like a hot water system bears witness to its extinguished pilot light. We are all veterans when we seek validation in social media from others who express our views, when we live variations on a theme. We speak in quotes to immortalize the mechanisms of repetition. You can find our reason on page 55 of a self-help book, word for word.
The inner light as boredom and idolatry; eternity, validation, pain and evanescence: musings of an old man. The impression the veteran nodding off makes on young people is of remembering. Isn’t life a journey consisting of things you do? No, the old man is in the trance which has nourished his whole existence, withdrawing from his formation in relation, yes, but now it’s come to everyday experiences like the generic chatter of great-grandchildren, the pattern of the carpet, the sensation of new-mown hay on the summer wind, the discomfiture of limbs. The dotard sings a flooded country. Each rendition has seemed like an utterly different song, but it is the same he has always remixed. His country exists in song, in any improvisation, so long as his feelings quiver like the machinery of a beyond.
Everyday reality is not serene enclosure like old age, but a kind of perpetual mental illness papered over by tolerance. To one who has been there, done that, it seems as an undeclared war between kindness and anger over who owns the bombed-out remnants of a post-Manichean essentialist world of a Good assembled out of contested rights.
Are there still Magi somewhere who can see in the transit of the Gemini Moon over Natal (sic) a promise of the return of a female Christ? This configuration of the Milky Way is the converse of the sky which heralds Australian initiation among its First Peoples. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. I have created two hemispheres.
What really happened to the Magi? They were veterans of a war between Good and Evil, and whatever the sign was they followed it was as the twittering of birds to most contemporaries. Historical change transpired in its own way, long after their deaths, but what of freedom versus predestination? How goes the war between grace and anger? Did Jesus help? Is his song still heard? Where to find the guiding star? Is Jesus more than an empty desk in one of the skyscrapers that paint the night sky grey?
The young ex-Muslim atheist still asks all the wrong questions, the vestiges of his upbringing by Allah: Why are we here? How can it be that we are so perfect? What is death? Why? The secular humanist also asks these questions, but history cannot validate what it has forgotten. What is the Eastern Wall? What are its mathematics?
For two weeks, wading across the Styx, then through the attenuated constellations of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces and Aries, the Veteran tried to answer such questions on the side of language, society and organised religion. Rioting broke out in Melbourne and society enslaved by freedom harboured a quasi-religious sociopath who drove through scores of citizens crossing the street. For the next two weeks, the Veteran will cross the Anima, and once again the River of Woe, searching in vain within for answers like kindness, submission, lust and love, healing and yoga.
The Lunar Mansions are the same, but the occupants now covet their personalities, like their friendships and their youth, behind curtains of beads in the hallway. The streets are the same, but the short-cuts, always a left then a right, have been barricaded by bollards, negotiable only by pedestrians and cyclists, chattering like cockatoos in a foreign language.
Only here, staring at the carpet of what remains of his country, glistening with oblivion, are the Veteran’s answers to be found, unravelled and not in the slightest mystifying. Veterans don’t live in the past, they did. And so Christmas will end with a most emphatic epiphany below a wall.
The Full Moon over Australia is in the Ninth House. In the daily cycle of the madness of materialistic existence, that puts it in the Bardo of deprivation. East Asia ‘sees’ it in relationship, India aggression, the Middle East self-improvement, Europe and Africa fear, Western Africa and the Atlantic relativity, Eastern South America paranoia, Western South America and Eastern USA discrimination, Western USA perfection, and the Pacific East to West seriousness, ignorance and boredom. If that means nothing else, it indicates that at least the Earth is still alive.