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Well! This is strange. The Sun is on the cusp of Capricorn, which means she has drained imagination dry, and intends to give bravado a go. Very confusing for the student in the front row, the Moon. You no doubt are as inured to the mediocrity of your teachers as you are to the error of your parents, but not the Moon, whose phases are serious business in astrology. Someone tweeted something at New Year that caught my eye: old people are bitter, so ignore them and remake the world in your own image. There’s the rub: because of the mediocrity of your teachers and the error of your parents you have no idea what your image is, do you? And that’s why we can’t simply say the Moon has disappeared for a few days.

We in the south have entered the transition into late summer:Late Summer 2018 Parkville Jan23

It gets bloody hot, mate! In these days when universal air-conditioning sits uncomfortably with the shame of climate change and the outrageous price of electricity, we have largely forgotten the emergence of entire populations from enervating sleeps in stifling homes, and the dread of interaction which resulted. If you were born in South-East Australia when the Sun was in Capricorn, that was the emotional climate you landed in. How welcome was being able to vent on you without judgement, and how esteemed the vanity of the fellow-victim who could make us laugh!

We should not forget the epiphanies of our ancestors, as we do, such as the disappearance of the Moon in the East and its reappearance in the West, but they are much more palatable in the cool of the evening, as song and dance. The Veteran was forever whistling through his breath and tapping his foot. Where did rhythm originate? From making hard, repetitive tasks fun when when it was too bloody hot to work!

Sagittarius New Grenfell Jan17

But country is the lesson the orienteering Moon wants to receive, in the first month of a new year, even if the shadows beyond the hemline of his teacher’s skirt evoke a backslide into introspection. Ah, Sagittarius, what sins have been committed downunder in thy name!

Some Indigenous Australians claim to still live in country. Do we? In the frivolous exchange Amy Bairstow shares, we get two contrary views of the bush, from Henry Lawson (who came from the country above) and Banjo Paterson (who came from Orange, not far away), back in 1892-94. Of course neither of these romancers had seen their country from the back seat of an air-conditioned car, and both lived in the city.

Shall we continue this light-hearted debate? What really is the essence of the bush? Must we overlay it with a ‘country’ we brought from elsewhere? How can we inhabit this continent as ‘country’ in the way of First Peoples?

Augustine gives me the clue, when he finds the essence of creation in what does not decay. Yes, within its cruel cycle of flood and drought, the bush rules life and death. Constant change and decay seem the order of the day, but this is merely phenomenal. Think of a dry creek-bed or spigot and a torrent of debris as the one watercourse. Think of the shady tree on Summit Avenue as one of a family who have lived on the ridge for a thousand years. Think of a song in the air as nostalgic for ungainliness reincarnated in every generation. Think of the absent intention of five generations of squatters on sacred horizons, penning their legacy. These are country, what does not decay, not a totality but an infinite spectrum of character wafted by a song-line of readiness. Frivolity is awesome readiness: to be here, to be trivial, to be gauche, to age ungracefully, to die unrepentant. Evolution should be thus defined, and so should karma, and bad habits. The essence of humanity is nothing more substantial than a kiss, but it does not decay.

This will be worth an early start Saturday:Thirteenth Beach Jan20

Laughter is our riposte to the gods of the sky, and our salvation from unkissability. Isn’t that why comedians project our egoic shadows?

The error in my spreadsheet computations amounts to 2 seconds of arc for the Sun, 4 for the Moon (according to Stellarium). In time, this error is more marked for the Sun, because it moves more slowly. I compute the Sun’s ingress into Breamlea Capricorn 12 minutes later, and the Moon’s ingress 2 minutes later, than Stellarium. We need to approach the matter of orbs in astrology with self-deprecation: they simply mask error. In similar vein, country is haunted by ghosts of false memory:Melbourne Seasonal Marker Stars

Sagittarius is haunted by Northern Hemisphere Capricorn, as what transpires is haunted by ancestral anticipation, and as the names of oral history are haunted by ignorance; and ignorance does not decay, whatever country you find yourself distant from, especially Death.

But how truly fortunate we are to have been born in this age of subjectivity, don’t you think? Just imagine living on a flat Earth with all those dead people in the underworld just under your feet. All those poor souls on the other side walking around upside down! Why, we don’t have to be aware of death at all. Just to be aware of our posture at the window while we contemplate it, to feel a restorative brandy gurgling in our insides, these are sufficient to return us to the core of our very living being! The whole idea of death is so remote that astrologers and other idlers with their cosmic ages, bardos and underworlds, their souls, heavens and hells, need not be taken seriously at all.

To be here now, that’s all that matters! And to be ‘me’, in all ‘my’ endocrinal glory, not someone else’s patient, specimen or victim! To walk here in another time haunted by totems, gods and other voices of authority would have been hell on earth, if you know what I mean. Aren’t we lucky to have grown out of all that negative self-talk?

And again, more voices: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills whence cometh my help … Ha! The past, in the echo-chambers of my wounded heart, where I keep the voices of the dead under lock and key, is a foreign country … What shall it profit a man, if absence decay not? … When all said and done, one must decide oneself whether one will open in Capricorn country playing tragedy or comedy. Left to the audience, it would be a farce …