Buenos Aires, Wednesday:
Lima, Good Friday:
After a month of communing with our alienness and uprootedness, the month of clear-sightedness finds us acknowledging that connection and inclusion have an unfortunate implication: community excludes those who don’t abide by its conventions. This is not our intention, so it is time for some tidying up. What are our conventions, and how can we attend and respond to the reactions of outsiders to make a more inclusive community universally satisfying? It is time to look our culture in the face.
If only it were that simple. In fact, those we exclude have their own communities, and different conventions we don’t much care for, because they declare judgment of ours. Even if we were to jettison convention completely, the whole of our political correctness, for example, we would still be excluded by theirs. Looking our culture in the face feels like an enemy’s perspective. Ever loved someone so much, your difficult child perhaps, that you had to seriously question your own supreme values? You must have noticed, if you ever raise your eyes from your self-help books, that barbarians are claiming victimization by your victim status. Nobody said that perfectionism would be this hard!
Perhaps it is best to accept that our generosity and love have boundaries, and some misunderstanding and conflict are inevitable. Perhaps we can find and cherish our true selves and cope with an imperfect world the way we always have, in our sleep. The conjunction of Sun and Moon in Aquarius occurs in the middle of the night in eastern Australia, in the adaptive unconscious of the Underworld of the Northern Hemisphere meridian in Eastern South America. Perhaps the present will remember itself differently tomorrow.
What our somnolent beings are dealing with in their visceral reordering are two truths. In our waking lives we may be able to convince ourselves of an objective reality, and if we have a university education or religious affiliation, that reality might be universal and absolute, but in our heart of hearts, I think we know, recognizing the transience, relativity and ambiguity of all we experience, that we don’t know reality, beneath its conventions, at all. Perhaps our bodies and sleeping minds know as much as we need to know. Their function is simply to order memory at all levels in the simplest and most accessible way for painless and successful existence. We are not objects in this process, unless we so conceptualize ourselves, in order perhaps to assert egoic importance or control. Rocks are as good at it as we are.
There is a better way, of course. It is a convention of ours to regard the Agrarian Revolution as the wellspring of human civilization, but I would make the case for a different development, a discovery which predated leisure, specialization, science and technology by tens of thousands of years, which surpassed kinship as the foundation of community, and which indigenous peoples offer as their timeless wisdom to this day. I speak of ceremony.
Ceremony, like sleep, is a reordering of awareness, a housekeeping of anxiety and conflict, but it connects our consciousness to our deepest, most personal memory while we are awake. You can do it getting married or placing a sprig of rosemary on a casket. You can do it brewing tea, waxing your legs, or saying grace at the family meal. Conceivably, you can do it marching en masse in a protest. There is a wonderful video of ceremonial cricket here.
Astrology itself has ceremonial roots: it began not with mathematics, or observation of the dance of wandering stars, but with communal life at the hub of the wheeling sky at night. The rational perspective of the solar system we now embrace has turned our primordial experience of being at the centre into an historical convention, but I am at pains to restore it to supremacy, for years by focussing on the relationship of the night sky to the seasons, and now, like Australian Aboriginal ceremonial life, by locating us in the configuration of the Milky Way.
I have been initiating you into a ceremony for some time. Before you can share its transformative, centred power you must abandon many of the conventions, not only of astrology, but of your everyday consciousness. That reality is a linguistic and conceptual convention of posited essences, and that it is ultimately empty, since nothing we enunciate or conceive of has any independent existence in time or space, occurs to any enquiring mind, but immediate awareness of the emptiness of self-improvement and of emptiness itself seems a little more difficult to acquire.
What is the Milky Way? Is it just one of millions of large structures without essence which evolved from the uneven density of the early universe? Can its appearance mean anything to the prevailing convention of science that we observers are specks of dust in the cosmic microwave background? Can we empty ourselves of the laws of science, prevailing in sociology, economics and psychology, which have displaced us from the centre and dissolved us in a soup of empty knowledge mediated by better-qualified people elsewhere?
Of course we can, and meditations on the universe or anything else don’t have to be therapeutic or remedial. They’re allowed to be real, empty of emptiness, which is how I differentiate a ceremony from a ritual or habit. I have been gaming astrology for years, making it up as I go along, but always by inventing what I know, and now I think I’m ready to conduct a ceremony. I have tried to formulate what I actually experience by substituting equatorial coordinates for ecliptic ones, transposing the signs and the lunar nodes, using a reversed anti-clockwise house system, pondering the antipodean ramifications of the meridian, imagining the celestial location of the rivers of Hades, and teasing the equivalence of the unconscious and the Underworld. Now for the clockwork of the Milky Way.
All you have to do in this ceremony is stand in an open space, in day or night, face north and lift your arms towards east and west. Your personal identity is on your right, and your language and social dialogue is on the left. In front of and behind you are the sense you make of those, to the north the internalized rules and conventions which guide your individuality, and to the south your soul, the collective memory which informs your instinct, your attitude and your emotion. What holds everything together is where you stand.
If your night sky offers the faintest glimmer of nebulosity in the Milky Way, this moment, four minutes earlier each day, currently at 12:52:24 sidereal time, is available from an hour and a half before sunrise in early February until an hour and a half after sunset in late June. Bring out your anxieties and conflicts, your responsibilities and confusion, your intentions and your blame, and with your arms spread like a prophet’s, help the sky do its work on you. Just look to the north for the law, to the east along your right arm for your skin, to the west along your left arm for your language, above your head for your country, and craning your neck backwards, behind you, at the confluence of the rivers of Woe and Forgetting, for the Styx of your Covenant: “It Was Only Pain”.
Honestly, you don’t look empty, or as though you’re trying to pretend you have presence. You’re quite alone!
Three gifts I bring to my fellow-Australians, all of whom are making a new homeland out of courage and determination, anger and self-control, mutual recognition and care.
The Milky Way, bridging northwest and southeast in a dark sky (limiting magnitude 5-6) at the rising of the galactic north pole, with the Emu rising too, is a celebration of your gratitude, those of you who plan to spend the national holiday asleep. Just keep your lights down and your cat inside.
Looking south, it’s 12 o’clock Southern Cross time as nautical twilight begins. These stars are now yours, and the Emu too. Alpha and Beta Muscae are what martyrs see on the cross. [Pi Puppis, the watchful creator of this timeless place, is (perhaps mis-) appropriated to honour its transit at nautical twilight on my Mother’s birthday.]
The Moon offers you a signpost to Mercury. The sign of Sagittarius is ours in the Southern Hemisphere (if we but feel like it).
My heartfelt thanks to the descendants of the traditional owners of this part of the world: the Wathaurong, Wurundjeri and Bunurong people: please keep showing us how to care for your new homeland. Continuing gratitude to the developers of free astronomy software, Stellarium, for Aussie Rules, and for any happy faces.
22:00 Thurs 22 Sept
Police have tonight issued a warning of dire consequences for any gullible skywatcher responding to an invitation posted on social media to a star party on the verge of the McGregor Rd off-ramp of the M1 at midnight. It is a hoax: people are warned that heavy fines will be incurred for obstructions to traffic, and that no geocache or Pokémon exists or should be sought in the area.
The following images were posted on the offending social media page.
The precise geographical longitude of the transit of the Southern Autumn Equinox point (opposite to Sun position) at the moment the Sun crosses the Equator:
A representation of the promised sky view:
And an astrological chart for the time and place:
Editor’s Astrographic Note:
Authorititave sources give the precise time of the equinox as 14:21:59 TDB, with the usual disclaimer about the impossibility of precise accuracy. When ∆T is added, our rudimentary software gives a local time which closely agrees with In-The-Sky.org and Stellarium (which admittedly deals in topocentric coordinates, not geocentric as in the official standard).
The following Stellarium-sourced slideshow demonstrates the effect of general precession on the geographical location of the Sun at Southern Spring Equinox over eight years (three leap-years).
Grab a bottle of wine and come over for lunch. Let’s talk about equality and #ssm!
What is the purpose of closing a gate? Does the farmer know you are here? What farmer? Aren’t we in Justfriendistan, or the Ninth Circle of Hell?
It is sacred; go ahead, clasp it; and open the wine.
The Moon is like every other element in the world: it is trying to make you conscious of it. It seeks attributes and connection. It is more real for your realization of its regularity and witness to its phases. But what more can it mean? Can it be the portal to outer space? Can it furnish minerals? Can it clear the rain? Can it combine in conjunctions and occultations? Can it reflect not only sunlight but our thoughts and feelings? Can it synchronize menstruation? Before it can do any of these things, it must know what they are: it has to learn more about us.
It has had to learn that we begin at a crawl, that it takes 4 billion years for us to walk on two feet, and 7.5 million years more to move faster than it. It has to learn that a human lifetime is very short, and not long enough to overcome all the delusions out of which we construct our reality and concepts of time and space, causality and self.
It must learn to think as we do, to see itself through our eyes. It has to understand the experience of day and night, and perspective, and love. It has to learn how to freeze-frame individual conclusions before connecting them in theories and systems. It has to learn the power and humble beginnings of language. Ultimately, like us, it must try to make sense of this:
I have asked him (sic) to sit at the front of the class, so that I can give him special tuition. In his linguistics, astrophysics and chemical engineering classes, his presence may be considered superfluous, but in my humble tutorial, Who, Where and When Am I Right Now 2B, his participation matters.
His current assignment is to demonstrate a process by which a Drone might be transformed into a Monk. Until today, he has made no visible progress. The theme I have suggested he work to is ‘disclosure’, a philosophical term referring to transformation in its quintessence. He doesn’t understand it. He cannot grasp how a nascent being relinquishes naughtiness as the portal to power and then relinquishes power as the key to overcoming shame: he has never had a child or a pet.
However, tonight he has made a giant leap. For the first time this month, he transits at night, all over the world, against the background of visible stars, and not only does he recognize what I see, his direction and altitude, and the arbitrary names and personalities I have playfully assigned to particular bright stars, but his contribution is an exemplar of the disclosure process.
“The human mind was destined to measure once it had discovered language, because language modulates difference: firstly by identifying things, and then by owning them, and finally, in sharing them, by distilling their subjective relativity.
Below me, as I pass through a gate of my teacher’s mind, a boy finishes mooring a boat and gazes up at me before turning towards home. I wonder if it is a scorpion or a fish-hook he sees below me over the ocean to the southwest.
If I could stay, I could learn much from this lad which my teacher will never know, because although one day they may speak the same language, and thus be enabled to share different meanings and frame time as a continuum of perspectives, this boy’s moment cannot be located by anyone, including himself, without becoming lost in translation.
What am I to make of the journey my teacher has imposed on me? What makes one drone’s utterance preferable to another’s? Will this boy’s hands become toughened like his father’s by brine and rope or softened like my teacher’s in dispensing applications beyond traditional wisdom?
And so the earthlings whirl insensibly through their hours and as their sky moves I pass through my teacher’s gate, and prepare to flip south and north for his examination.
What can I tell him of his Yabby, that it is slimy from tuna in the Coral Sea? No, it is the strident sentinel of his zodiac, steadfast anchor through the precession of seasons and life’s daily observance of the Acheron and the awful necessity to get across.
And Saiph, the synchronously invisible, the inevitable, the equally robust temptation to impious lust, what can I confirm of her as I move towards my teacher’s barren shore? Can I bear witness to her charisma and independence, and the determination and withdrawal signified by what her thighs straddle, the act of sacralizing the waters of forgetfulness?
For the sake of meaning can I embrace the human concept of a particular moment rippling daily across the perspectives of seven billion people? Can I so infinitesimally fragment and compartmentalize my freefall?
Of course I can, but do I desire it? Into what fables and myths must I acquiesce in my appropriation in order for these stick figures to convert me into immortal words? When may I graduate to the lectern myself, and dilute human consciousness into a roiling protoplasm, as empty of cosmic significance as the orientation of the rotational axis which furnishes my teacher’s vision?
Is, are, astrometry, astrology, human language, grammar and narrative, meaning and desire, and my own identity and physical form, any more than a time-consuming molecular fiction?”
Can he find himself in the coordinates and attributes of all three of the systems he itemises? Perhaps he can, but it makes me wonder how many systems have to penetrate each other before identity is conceded as meaningless. How many more generations of elders will condemn their grandchildren to violence by refusing to see orthodoxy as a masquerade of truth?
Sidereal astrology is, or should be, your invitation to emptiness, an experience of the limiting structures of narrative and identity. Nowhere on the planet tonight is the transiting Moon further than a handwidth from the gate, wherever it might be in relation to the zenith, and whether positive latitude means it is above or below the ecliptic. The gate, four minutes earlier each day, will linger in the north and disappear into twilight in the south as sunset gets earlier or later. We are all numerals on the one clock.
Karma and everything else about the real world, is cyclical, not linear. We are creatures of rotation and longitude, but let us not be prisoners of the hours, or the year. Being is essential strife (Heidegger), an incessantly emerging responsibility for blame, a continuous endorsement of doodle. Let us stop revering shape to the extent that we model ourselves on the last turd to dissolve.
Claiming no more legitimacy than any other mindfulness aid, astrology should focus not on putting something else into mind, but on the memes in there: the substratum of our dependency on the delusory self making this mistaken world. I give him an A.
“Art thus teaches us not to try to banish the darkness that surrounds the light of intelligibility, but to learn to see into that ubiquitous “noth-ing” so as to discern therein the enigmatic “earth” which nurtures all the genuine meanings that have yet to see the light of day. Insofar as we can learn from Van Gogh (or other similarly great artists) to see in this poetic way ourselves, Heidegger suggests, we will find ourselves dwelling in a postmodern world permeated by genuinely meaningful possibilities.” Iain Thomson, Heidegger’s Aesthetics, 2015.
Because of the inclination of the equatorial and ecliptic planes to the galactic plane, some part of the Milky Way is not visible to us. Rather, it is divided into two great rivers. The first is the great tumult of Scorpius, which is entirely contained in the Breamlea Zodiac Constellation Scorpio, and carries the Summer Sign of Gemini, because the Sun crosses in Summer. The Moon crosses this river once a month, bringing it to the stellar wasteland I have called Justfriendistan, and in that context I call it Acheron.
The second river features the visual delights of Orion and Canis Major, and flows between the Breamlea Zodiac Constellations of Taurus and Gemini, which carry the Winter signs respectively of Sagittarius and Capricorn. This is the River Lethe, which cleanses the memory of past astrologies and prepares the traveller, Sun, Moon or planets, for the social climb, where the Sun is now, back into the mentality of Scorpio.
Venus rises tomorrow in remarkable circumstances. Visible less than a fingerwidth above the horizon, even in the glow of dawn, she affirms everything which is wondrous in the feminine. The chart should speak for itself, but note the star in the Hero’s side, Adam’s Rib, splitting the attenuated masculinity of retrograde Mars and Saturn. I do wish more men would listen when I talk about the stars.Spontaneous Venus is not only in tight conjunction with the hidden daring of Uranus, but the two are invisibly in the line of stars which in the Southern Hemisphere constitute the horizontal fish of Pisces.
The asterisms we associate with corporate functions, football grand finals and racing carnivals, those we see in the Spring night sky, are not just horse (Pegasus), jockey (Pisces) and catering steward (Aquarius), as SHA depicts them, although the affinity many young women have with horses is worthy of mention.
They look a lot different by day. The vast sweep of sky between the winter splendour of the heart of the galaxy and the summer spectacle of the Orion Arm provides a number of obstacles to the progress of the Sun by day.
Once she crosses the plain of Capricorn, battling the northerly crosswinds of February, she must negotiate the confluence of rivers that is Aquarius, and then there is the trudge up into the foothills of Pisces, and over its two ridges.
Uranus has been mysteriously camped on the slopes of the first one for two years, where Venus joins it for a giggle in the morning, but no holiday whim is it for the Sun. She is oblivious to the mystery of that ridge: where it leads, what lies at its end. Surely not Venus.
The feint circle of five stars known in astronomy as the Circlet of Pisces is a mysterious clearing on an escarpment at the western end of the ridge, in an ancient forest choked with bracken and creepers and fallen leaves. The beaten path is some distance off, and the silence of sensuous presence prevails, but a ghostly commotion whispers to any traveller who stumbles here.
This was the site of a great castle for centuries. Here it was that the Knights of the Round Table committed to the quest for the Holy Grail, where Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger and slept for a hundred years. Before that it was a hill fort of the Iron Age, and some say that once it was Valhalla, and before that Mt Olympus. More recently, it was Netherfield Park and Les Sablonnières.
I seem to remember a scene in which the astonished Meaulnes witnesses the carriages arrive by torchlight at the stately home, the opulence which surrounds him and beckons him to the life-achievement which will elevate him to this noble company. Remember the magical countenance in your own experience of one in such company entranced by you!
It was here that the romantics of yesteryear met and instantly fell in love with their dream, transforming themselves and each other into ‘the One’. The Circlet was their crown. What haunts this place is romance, and the voices you can’t quite make out are the embodiment of projected love-images clamouring for release from desire.
In 2011, the Moon found his holy grail in the stately home which stood here then. The intervening years have persuaded him that the love of his life does not exist outside a dream, and now steers wide of it, and of faith in the possibility that it might be love for a woman which gives meaning to his existence. This place is his wound, the impetus of the dilettante.
The nineteen-year cycle of the lunar nodes is the mechanism of the Moon’s relationship with the Circlet. It passed visibly through it (though seen loitering in the vicinity at first or last light on numerous other occasions of the period) at:
and nineteen years previously….
Do any of those dates resonate with grand memories of your romantic youth? Perhaps one of these was your wedding day.
The Moon returns to the Circlet’s haunt:
Perhaps he will enter a new mansion, perhaps he will find a mirage. Either way, it will be no delusion. May circumstance rescue you from the disease of living to heal a wound.
Venus also knows the clearing well. She did her retrograde loop nearby in 2009, and will double back to thoroughly investigate its mythical qualities this time next year, and again in 2025. I hope romance outlives us all!
Mars is in IAU Ophiucchus on April 17, or more accurately Scorpio, when it appears to stall before backtracking, about three-quarters of a finger-width west of Antares at transit (03:10 AEST). It crosses the Southern Hemisphere Astrology (SHA) boundary of Libra on June 2, goes ‘direct’ on June 30, and reenters Scorpio on July 29. SHA boundaries are projected across the sky by right ascension from equal divisions of the Ecliptic, originating at Iota1 Scorpii [Breamlea Zodiac]. The southern signs of Libra and Scorpio are equivalent to the northern tropical signs of Taurus and Gemini, not Scorpio and Sagittarius (northern tropical), or, heaven forbid, Libra and Scorpio (northern sidereal).
All astrologers abstract from reality. How could any prediction be otherwise? All astrological predictions, and I dare to suggest, any astrological observations, are derived from mathematical models of varying precision. This is a hidden element in the arbitrariness of orbs. My low-precision algorithms, developed with familiar mathematics to predict the arrival of stars in my ‘window’, are quite adequate for stargazing and horoscopes: within a few minutes in azimuth, and usually a minute in longitude and time. They are adequate for plotting planet positions in relation to stars, but admittedly inadequate for precisely timing conjunctions of planets.
When does Mars overtake Saturn? According to me, the conjunction on August 24 is at 19:32. Stellarium gives the topocentric ecliptic conjunction of Mars and Saturn over Melbourne at 21:27 AEST on August 24. Most sources I can find quote a geocentric conjunction at 21:26. According to high precision data from the US Naval Observatory, the geocentric equatorial conjunction (in right ascension: how SHA relates the planets to the stars) is at 03:50 AEST on August 26. Stellarium agrees. I’m not arguing, because my spreadsheet says 02:00. You will find conflicting information in these matters all over the web, because basically, people seldom acknowledge sources, and never quantify error.
The question above will be answered to my satisfaction when Saturn transits the meridian on August 26 at 18:36. Mars will be half a finger-width to the east. In these terms, Mars exits its retrograde zone on August 24, passing Antares at transit.
[At opposition on May 22, Mars is as bright as Jupiter, but will unfortunately cower in the proximity of the Full Moon. The opposition of Saturn on June 3, two days before New Moon, will not be so intimidated. It will shine as bright as Betelgeuse.]