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“… In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.”

Rilke, Rainer Maria, Sonnets To Orpheus, Second Part, XXIX, trans. Stephen Mitchell.

Flow, raindrop, in a trickle of raindrops, into a creek, and thence to the unfathomable swell of the sea: habitat, sacrificial altar and sewer, but the parched hermit’s rain. Is there such a thing as an individual absence? Do water droplets exist in the ocean? Country reveals answers to both these questions, at the crucial time of the year when their answers require the doubt we are harbouring that anything else matters. We approach the 107th anniversary of the Christmas Truce, remember. What do we know of Christmas, of truce?

Quite obviously, the practice of sincere new year’s resolutions doesn’t come out of nowhere, but out of a reassessment of the spiritual confines our anxious solutions have placed us in, and serious doubt about the person they might be making us. If only we could see it, this is neatly symbolized by the astral background of today’s partial eclipse. In the context of our reflections on yesterday’s 167th anniversary of the Battle of the Eureka Stockade, it is noteworthy that no law yet exists, in an abundance of caution to prevent the overwhelming of publicly-funded ICUs, to punish people for looking at the Sun. A surreptitious glance shouldn’t hurt if the eclipse is low on the horizon, but it won’t confirm the celestial position the experts are giving us, or allay any suspicion about the data upon which they base their claims. The rule of law may be unable to guarantee freedom, but it does harbour doubt.

Is there any observational basis for the belief that Ophiuchus is a shield protecting us from the Scorpion, other than “I flow” and “I am”? Look up at it one winter, and if the Shield doesn’t leap out at you, as in oh-phew-cuss, then the ancestors will cry, ‘Stone the flamin’ crows! Are you blind?’ If you’ve been present for a few thousand years, you’ve seen for yourself the effect of precession, of the Equator and the Ecliptic, on the Shield: for thousands of years at transit it has not been more fairly and squarely beneath the Scorpion than now. Rather than the Age of Aquarius, we might well name our time the Age of Anxiety.

Flow on, raindrops, and let country repeat, I am, absent! Is the Earth country? A drop in the ocean, is it absent too? Its seasons are: look up at solar midnight to see that your heliocentric Signs are opposite those you place the Sun and Moon in. The Earth is in Taurus, where the Antisolar Point is, nowhere near Ophiuchus or Scorpius. Why bicker about Signs? Let us doubt our solutions. Country is the sacred, coming into being in absence. The stars really are our ancestors, all of them absent, timelessly. Words are all that remain of presence, because presence is the absence of words.