I take it as a given that most people in the West live on a flat Earth. With no value for the nuances of language and mathematics which have engineered their technology, or the cultural capital of their Christian history, they are unable to sustain the emergent reality they have inherited from the commitment of their ancestors, let alone build on it. They are objects, and their introspection is devoted to understanding and perfecting themselves, and others, as objects. The spiritual dimension of their lives is reduced to ideological conflict, because the spectacle of their finitude is not immediately present, but filtered and polluted. Their suffering is unique, renegade, and blind.
In the month of Sagittarius, for the Sun has only hours left in Scorpio, you have the time to indulge your imagination, behind your sunglasses on the beach, with the chatter and laughter of children confirming the safety of the shallows, and if you join with Sun and Moon in discarding the intellect, you may be able to imagine who you would be without human rights and victimhood, neighbours and argument, retirement security and parental influence, cultural cringe and the tall poppy syndrome, political correctness and cognitive dissonance, and any other idol which springs to mind before which you worship the self-enclosed and permanent utopia to which you pay your weekly subscription.
However, for the imagination to free us from a prison, it needs to do more than place us outside. It must create a context for the prison, and for this you might need an entirely new language. We might call this the language of extrospection, since it is the reverse of introspection. Instead of regarding the interior of an object as a subject, it enters the object’s exterior as its subject. Perhaps such a reverie might voice a song of change to dissolve the permanence of your victimhood. Is the situation you have been intent to define really intolerable? The lineaments of creation are hidden in thunderous surf, the sun-parched wilderness, its distant low hills, waterholes, trees and sky. Why are we seduced by healing from a celebration of the wound creation stamps us with? Because such consciousness might be the aura of death?
Extrospection is a peculiar type of consciousness. It is not a tool of social control with evolutionary benefit for group survival. It is not emergent in a cultural sense. It is akin to the intimate connection farmers have to the land, First Peoples have to country, poets have to language, and medical practitioners have to health, not disease. It is like introspection, in that it is a consciousness of consciousness, but the self which is conscious of itself in extrospection has no boundaries: what inspects itself is an artefact of the timeless process of creation, the universe created by your understanding, at once subject and object, eternal and finite. A meditation on change, it is the landscape of one’s absence, an unfolding of the immanent death of emptiness.
Imagine your life lived at the dawn of humanity, emerging from the refuge of the tropical forest, and increasingly confident of your group’s capacity to repel predators, but now sleeping all night in pitch blackness under a canopy of stars so vividly ablaze you could reach up and touch them. You know them. They are all dead spirits flooding up from the underworld to watch over you while you sleep. They are beautiful, but terrible too. They saturate your bodily awareness. You live in death.
If we are to find equanimity in the extremities of awareness, not merely escape them as utopians do, we must address the question the stifling trappings of the mediocre class mask. What is my country? How does what I’m conscious of respond to my consciousness of it? What, if anything, will survive of my consciousness in its death? Not in what memory will I be remembered, what mark on the world will I leave, questions of the living dead, but what mark, what miracle will I take, what bubble will reality burst?
The field of archaeoastronomy is not properly the province of top-down thinkers, and certainly not researchers who have not witnessed an heliacal rising or the stars of a very dark sky. Most research I’ve read focuses on the emergence of the understanding of eclipses, planetary movements, seasonal correlations and the utility of stars for navigation, and this might be expected from searchers working backwards for the roots of what we think we know. I believe research would better serve a quest for what we think we don’t know, such as the impact of the Milky Way on our distant ancestors, which indefinably we have inherited in our cultures in ways we no longer recognize.
Right and left: what do they mean to you? Yes, besides left and right hemispheres of the brain and opposite sides of the body, lateralized information processing, and what several generations of scientists taught, that language was exclusive to the left, etc.. Where did some First Peoples of Australia get the notion that the cardinal direction of language was the West? Where did astrology pick up the idea that the West is social and the East is personal? Do metaphors of East and West have something to do with rising and setting, or with left and right, or both? Perhaps it’s not only astrology but evolution and emergence that a bit of confirmation bias gets into.
As our ancestors migrated northward out of the tropics of Africa, what impression do you imagine their ancestors created, and where in the mind, when every one of them lined up in the West, and at other times in the East? Was it left and right which made it meaningful? Or East and West? What can you imagine the First Peoples of South America, Southern Africa and Australia made of the migration of left to West as they faced natural law, the Sun? Why did they go south? What was different about them? Was it a story the galaxy was imprinting on their imagination in Crux or the Emu in a language as yet to perfect itself when that stellar region was high enough to see? Are they different, people who find West right and left? What do you imagine happens in migrants from North to South today? What would you do? Go back? Build a home facing south?
You see? The galaxy we evolved in wants to leave its mark, even as it is dying to the naked eye no doubt.
Responsibility is nothing other than how we heed our calling. Commonly confused with duty, it is rather only indirectly an element of the ethics of our response to others. At the deepest level of being, it is where we integrate self and the product of behaviour, the world as we perceive it. From our beginning, we obey in every action a call, to obey or disobey, to gratify or deny, to emulate or invent, to laugh or cry, to love or fear. Where this call comes from has been debated for millennia. Is it the voice of God? The Earth? Our species? Our ancestors? Whatever it is, we can all agree that it commends effort. It does care less for disinterest and boredom. It may evolve towards activism or submission, but the last thing it means is that life doesn’t matter, that it makes no difference what you do, for you’ll soon be dead.
But we will soon be dead, and notwithstanding the nobility of ‘responsibility’, there is more than a touch of absurdity in it, and when we judge it in others, madness too. Am I not mad to devote myself to reconfiguring a mediaeval world-view? Is it not madness to dedicate one’s life to preparation for the next life, or to perfect oneself in the knowledge that there won’t be one? Is it not madness to shake one’s head at the obsessions of others which have turned the world into a madhouse, believing that only one’s own responsibility is sane?
The Bardo is just like a huge department store: in every direction rows and rows of identical white display cabinets all the way to the hexagonal walls which announce its realm if only you could see that far; and on your way to a wall every cabinet reveals in its compartments, identical compartments, an infinite range of character inhabited by personality and opportunity changing as you pause and behold the particular combinations of compensation and destiny you can recognize as the madness of everyone you have ever known, as well as your own, even though you still haven’t been able to identify the department. Everything seems, like an expanding universe, to radiate from wherever you are.
In many ways, the midwinter Moon is the Big One, the cyclic root of discrimination and prejudice. The entire history of the human race has enacted our reaction to winter: will it kill us, what will we eat, what is it for, whose fault is it, what have we done wrong, will it end, when will it end, how will we prepare for its return, how can caring be so cruel? Actually, midwinter crosses the sky every day. Rug up your feelings, and contemplate the panorama of country on this occasion eclipsed by cold sunlight.
Saturday’s iconoclastic child works hard for a living while her shift-working idolizing sibling sleeps, because she lives a life of anguish. Benoit‘s third type, her being is strong in both animal and abstract nature. The twins complete each other in a self tending to overcome the not-self, but each, the brighter one deferent—deferential in the Ptolemaic sense—and the other subservient, reduces the other’s individuality to a not-self. What is unconscious is terrible in its imperative.
Yet the twins stand on the banks of the Lethe, and the self’s struggle to overcome fear of annihilation is blessed thereby in the imagination. Not in the law is human survival to be sourced, but in the instinctive assertion and satisfaction of responsibility. Reason determines it, but responsibility in the gut is what drives human resilience in community through the signs of winter and spring. God help you if you get in the way of human resilience!
The problem is, responsibility, that primeval driving force of humanity in the face of death and meaninglessness, constellates the self in opposing directions, as we know. Fracture is built into community, as separation is built into love. The autonomous principles of rationality and instinct are not united in Malkhut, but in Yesod, which has no existence other than as a rung on a transcendent ladder. Radicalization is a probability as immanence is a probability. The physical world was always a fetish for humanity, always a commodification, always a consumption.
Esmeralda, the transgender judge of the high court, is an activist in the rehabilitation of the suppressed gender which underlies all miscreance. Igor, the Eastern European-Aboriginal saint of the public bar, is hell-bent on refusing to accept less than he deserves. Uki, the fool of the Tarot deck, lives in a magical world of continuous transformation of human flesh and spirit engendered by what the latest cultural implant is selling at the corner store. Meanwhile, country is a usurpation of indigenous culture, and ‘centering‘ prayer is sold by Amazon. Is there a way towards a cultivated space in which voices all speak the same language? Can the world we leave our grandchildren transcend madness, thanks to our effort?
How to be responsible by not speaking out and causing offence. How to enjoy a Sagittarian cup of tea with the twins. How to submit to a culture of mental illness, consuming the culture of others and teaching only consumption to your children. How to project mental illness as the condition for rejection without defining it, and therefore without judging it. How to be in good mental health by excluding others not of your caste who might reveal your shadow. How to do something for youth by teaching the culture of an outcast. How to live and teach a complete life without reading a book of ideas or listening selectively to music, or learning to fish and hunt and cook. How to invent a life in the spirit. How to be responsibly irresponsible.
Incidentally, the opposite of responsibility, the irresponsible, is boredom. There is no other place to find your vocation than right where you’re standing, in the centre of the landscape, though you might never get to read the sign on the wall.
The Milky Way has been given precious little attention by astrology, no doubt because the riches of the Galactic Centre are invisible to most of the Northern Hemisphere, and planets rarely approach either of the great rivers of the Milky Way at night. Perhaps it has occurred to someone up there to consider the symbolism of Cassiopeia, which appears as the letter ‘m’ or ‘w’ due north according to which galactic pole is at transit, Southern or Northern, with the obvious gender connotations in the English language, but I doubt it.
Here in the South, we are indebted to various universities, and the researches of Ray Norris, Robert Fuller and Duane Hamacher in particular, for their disclosure of the significance of the Milky Way in Australian Indigenous cultures, but I suspect that most people are not aware of where it is in their light-polluted night sky, let alone how its configuration changes by hour, day and month.
Briefly, the Milky Way observed from the Southern Hemisphere moves continuously around the sky with the following six punctuating configurations:
- At Galactic South Pole (GSP) transit it rings the horizon; [I am not aware of any ethnographic support for my speculation that the ‘Near Eastern’ underworld may have been inspired by the Egyptian and Babylonian view of the horizontal Milky Way at Galactic North Pole (GNP) transit, illustrated above];
- GSP due west, GNP due east (below the horizon); the Milky Way stretches from due north to due south, arcing across the eastern sky;
- GNP rise, GSP set; the Milky Way rises vertically (to the observer’s zenith) from the northwest and southeast;
- GNP transit; the Milky Way stretches across the southern sky from due east to due west;
- GNP set, GSP rise; the Milky Way rises vertically in the northeast and southwest;
- GSP due east, GNP due west (below the horizon); the Milky Way stretches from due north to due south, arcing across the western sky.
In a suburban or rural-transition sky in Wurundjeri country, when the Sun is more than 18° below the horizon, visibility of these six configurations is afforded as follows, remembering that everything in the night sky except the Moon and planets appears in the same place roughly four minutes earlier each day.
- Miserere (Pisces transit): first morning visibility (FMV), in the pre-dawn sky, second week of July; last evening visibility (LEV), when the setting Sun is encroaching from the west, last week of November.
- Intuition (Taurus transit): FMV third week of September; LEV first week of January.
- Wanderer (Cancer transit): FMV mid-December; LEV mid-April.
- Kyrie (Virgo transit): FMV second week of February; LEV end of June.
- Warrior (Scorpio transit): FMV beginning of April; LEV last week in August.
- Inference (Capricorn transit): FMV last week of May; LEV mid-October.
Please do not assume that I wish to attribute some causal mechanism to the Galactic Plane. On the contrary, my motivation is simply to create more interest in looking at the sky and finding in it signs of meaning. The synchronicity of freeze-frame configurations of the Milky Way and Dr Beth Gott’s Wurundjeri seasons may be delightful to one uncomfortable with inverted Northern Hemisphere seasons, but the cycle presented is continuous, by night and day, and I shrink from adding another invisible influence on personality. On the other hand, the bisection of the Zodiac is too tasty to resist. I hope my arbitrary labels of conventional astrology married to pop psychology, Christian liturgy and Greek mythology will provoke intuitive reaction, at the very least, if not whole-hearted disbelief in rationalism.
A narrative or to describe the journey through Hades of the meridian and any body moving through the Zodiac and crossing its rivers could be confabulated in such a sequence as this. Nearly drowning in the swirling torrents of the Acheron the emotions desperately try to save themselves at each other’s expense. Humiliated, they ruefully recoil into the psyche as the ‘wound’. There follows an experiment by a self which admits no feelings other than empathy, but the perfectibility of this self is so battered by compromise that its structure collapses, and after succumbing briefly to the image others applaud of its aggressive survival, it then mortifies itself in the Lethe, in abnegation of itself as sufficient reason. Lo and behold, the emptiness of thought is the raw material of love. Community beckons, but resentment grows as the emptiness of love too is revealed, culminating in the turmoil of full-blown rejection, and retreat into the pages of self-help and astrology.
It is a mental illness to be habitually confined to a prison you are aware you have made for yourself, but be actually unwilling to escape. Welcoming, you impose too many rules; being welcomed, you refuse. You are always both oppressed and oppressor. You shouldn’t take things so personally. It’s only a temporary orientation of the Milky Way. Be grateful you can’t see things as they were seen here (and in Thebes) five thousand years ago. The Underworld can be so disturbing, it must be invented.
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.