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Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

It is happy for man that he does not know what the morrow is to bring forth; but, unaware of this great blessing, he has, in all ages of the world, presumptuously endeavoured to trace the events of unborn centuries, and anticipate the march of time. He has reduced this presumption into a study. He has divided it into sciences and systems without number, employing his whole life in the vain pursuit. Upon no subject has it been so easy to deceive the world as upon this.”

Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Gutenberg.

You pull over on a hilltop to take in the view. You are familiar with the geography, but the panorama fills your awareness with so much that you don’t know: values, intentions and functions imposed on the landscape by people you will never meet, living and dead. There is no clarity in country. Hidden in plain sight are privacy, family, opportunity and duty. Hidden in plain sight on the side of the road where overtaking motorists exercise caution in oncoming traffic are you and your astrology, the local, global and celestial contexts you impose on the patterns you see, the labours and refuges you theorize, and your interrupted journey itself.

In a way, your journey is just like the Earth’s, from the Moon’s perspective (and the Moon’s from Earth). Not to say that you go around in circles, but that your progress, though it be powered by gravity, internal combustion or the calories from breakfast, and mapped by waypoints called a and b, is measured by changes in the background, whether in space or time. So regular are these changes that from time immemorial popular belief has been seduced by the notion that they were created for your edification and control. Is astrology guilty? Do you really belong in a herd? Do the planets?

You might be angry if you weren’t so disgusted by fear of the anguish which, enthralled as you have been by the seductive growth of mystical connections, has so surprised you. You might direct that anger at a world which questions the rectitude of your state of mind and shows no inclination to conform to your dreams, or you might work with the anguish of a full-stop in search of a backspace and apostrophe to exclaim itself grammatically. In you, and around you, a conflict is raging, and the opposing sides have not identified themselves. Are these astral gates then battle lines between polarized forces? Are these bardo emotions personal or generic? On the bright side, they may be opportunistically confirmed because you can identify with them all.

Where do names and attributes come from, brainstem or frontal cortex? You may be sure, acculturated consensus notwithstanding, that when Indigenous Australians noticed the existence of variable stars, there were some who gave them names and told stories about them, but for most people there would have been nothing remarkable about changes in the sky, since nothing in country was, or is, permanent. Country is change. Over thousands of years, the “Southern Cross” at transit climbed higher and higher in the northern sky, until about 4000 years ago above where the 300-500 years old Corroboree Tree survives in Queens Way, Melbourne, it reached the zenith, and gradually it became more comfortable to see it in the south. Do you think it turned upside down? Did it shake any power structures?

How many identities do you have? How many more must you add to the intersection you call your Self before you feel your alienation, before your intellect collapses under its own weight, the weight of change, and you know the profound emptiness of being suspended in the arbitrary web of your own absence. Unless your feet know the emptiness of the dirt between you and the stars, get back in the car. You feel only your weight in your shoes, and so you will be safer on your backside. At least the underworld of your contribution to global warming may resound with the nostalgic hits of yesteryear as you proceed to point b, taking your conscious horizon with you.

The Southern Sign of the Constellation Aries, the domicile of the Ram and the Peasant Moon, is Scorpio, not Taurus. Mass circulation of Sun Sign horoscopes has captured the global population in Northern Spring, but just how important is your need to escape? Your reading of the quoted text by Mackay, so contemptuous of the peasants, has conflated opportunism and populism. Aggression might win an advantage in the manger where Autumn is trying to snuggle among the absent newborn while Ferdinand dreams of flowers, but hibernation is an equally attractive proposition. Populists may properly be regarded as opportunistic manipulators of ignorance and cynical exploiters of fear and resentment, but populism per se is misunderstood as ignorant and smug. Populism is empowered by a desire verging on the noble, to take an opportunity to integrate, not obey, a coming to attention with regard for a peasant Self without pretension to permanence, but which might withstand the desacralizing news cycle of doom, which, as we all know, trigger by trigger, activates our incoherent and piecemeal emotional response and threatens our very existence. Ah well, that’s Autumn Country for you.