Is life a journey? Does one day, month or year to another measure a distance, or does duration just go around in circles like the hands of a clock? What is this mysterious ‘Now’ the self continuously inhabits? Does it transcend time, or is it a piece in the journey’s jigsaw-puzzle? Is it ‘Country’? Is it emptiness? Is it no more than the struggle for existence between birth and death, or a moment of emergent Being as it learns and actualizes the interplay of an infinite array of evolving controls? A serious question: are you conscious or unconscious? In 17 days it will be 140 years since a ship’s apprentice by the name of Tom Pearce rescued Eva Carmichael, around 2 hours before a New Moon in Taurus, the only other survivor of the wreck of the Loch Ard. (No, they did not marry–read this eerie story, by Tony Wright, at the Sydney Morning Herald.)
A similar configuration of the southern stars is visible all over Eastern Australia. Come on, quit your studies and social media conformity, and bow with me to hear the Kyrie, at journey’s end. Along the Shipwreck Coast an estimated 638 journeys ended in tragedy. I’m afraid you’re staging for a free-kick if you can’t budge from your ideological opposition to the invasion which resulted from the courage of your ancestors lucky to get here to spawn you. Our lives are a complicated mechanism, and if truth be acknowledged, we are a little rusty. We have too many conflicting theories of how it works, and as many therapies for its repair in situ, but having eliminated religion and sympathetic magic, even applying objective understanding to the emotions, we find the mechanism lacking in an essential input, the lubricant of communion, the sense of shared energy within, and the security of being another’s Thou which comes with the faith that we can get inside each other.
“Man needs vengeance like a tired person needs a bath.” (Baudelaire.) The ‘Realm of Hungry Ghosts‘, represented in my charts as the Houses occupied by the Sun when we’re usually asleep, is always operating in us unconsciously, and if you’re stuck with an insatiable desire for revenge, an unshakable belief that you could be the person you want to be if someone’s actions hadn’t denied the possibility forever, or you can’t help loving it when you see another person suffering, you may need to enhance your conscious connection with where your dreams come from. Try closing your eyes in a public place and imagining there is no way of measuring how far away the hubbub is; or try in conversation to be the person your interlocutor thinks you to be.
Here is a chart which represents where the European invaders on the Loch Ard might have thought they were on the morning of their death so far from home.
The New Moon was soon to occur in Gemini, but there was nothing Springlike in the fog in which their journey ended, and no familiar Zodiac was lurking in the southern sky anyway. Woe at the Vertex (though it hadn’t been invented yet) was not an auspicious sign, but otherwise the portents for their new life in Terra Nullius seemed favourable enough. However, a local perspective tells a different story.
Sun and Moon were not highlighting the Ascendant House at all, but the Animal Realm, where taking yourself too seriously on awakening is a natural cover for ignorance, but it may have been the retrograde motion of dauntless Jupiter in relativist Capricorn and the idealist hunger of Cancer that did them in. Perhaps you should try to imagine this was you, but you should definitely eliminate the intergenerational trauma of not finding the Zodiac when you look to the south.
Back to 2018, when the IAC and tropical astrology agree that the May New Moon occurs in Taurus (1° and 14.6° respectively), but I have the Sun 2½ days away in Breamlea Aries. The important thing is to know where we are, and that is definitely not in a seasonal quarter neatly divisible by three. Deep Winter in Victoria arrives in a week, but it came early, didn’t it? Not only Southern Hemisphere Astrology believes that Kalgoorlie ego and mood are contiguous in the Bardo Realm of Hell, but arcane powers as well.
The Bardo Houses are identical on the same meridian north or south of the Equator, a facticity of profound interest to forces for integration and harmonious difference. You may imagine what use in diplomacy might be made of knowing the unconscious mood of entire populations, and being able to project it from your own experience. Furthermore, I am not the only one who has established that the Houses are opposite on the same meridian the other side of the geographic poles.
In the age of artificial intelligence and psychological and virtual warfare, these elements of Being have not gone unnoticed. Moscow’s meridian passes through the Middle East, Washington’s through Cuba and Ecuador. I believe I am at the forefront of incorporating elements of Australian Indigenous wisdom in my self-examination, formatting Milky Way configurations with the cardinal directions of Country, but I cannot be at all sure of that.
To succeed in life you must assert yourself. Don’t worry about who your self is–it’s a passive, defeatist predilection to think of life as a set of rules to obey, or a race you’re not winning, especially if you’ve retired hurt. Life is not a straight line, but cycles within cycles, circles intersecting incongruent circles, and you must always be ready, like a fox evading the hounds, to leap sideways, from one merry-go-round to another, one treadmill to another. Opportunism is a characteristic of the ground of being. If you reflect on your addictions, you will know how opportunistically they multiply their positive reinforcements.
“So you don’t have to look painfully for some kind of stepping-stone; instead, a stepping-stone presents itself in your life. You have the confidence to start on the first thing that is available within your experience—if you know the geography or road map of developmental psychological structures.
…If you try to create something by will, you have to use accidents as a way of channeling yourself.” (Chögyam Trungpa, Transcending Madness.)
Unconstrained by ego’s besieged battlements, the midnight mind
Hurls its toys against a nursery wall daubed
With experiments in defecation.
Try as noon might to wrest behaviour from dream
Boredom never surrenders
the puppet-strings of meaning.
[On May 19, when the Sun enters Taurus, until July 25, when it will be in Cancer, the nightfall Sun (12° below the horizon) will be in the House of Self-Improvement at the latitude of Melbourne. The naked-eye Breamlea First Crescent of Opportunism will be at 18:05 on May 17, but the Moon, in Taurus, will be in the House of Fear. At nightfall, 6° above the horizon, it will occupy its rightful place in the House of Self-Improvement. The nightfall Sun will be in House VII (Aggression) until Full Moon in Sydney (Campbelltown)-Margaret River, and all Lunar Month above Port Macquarie-Yanchep. Make hay while the sun shines.]
"Know thyself." "The unexamined life is not worth living." 'Neti Neti'. "Smile and the world smiles with you; cry and you cry alone."
When the pilot light of your gas hot water blows out, it’s just a matter of relighting it and you’ll get hot water again. Its essence is its machinery. Animate things like us are not like that. There was a magnificent gum tree beside my access track whose roots were killed by the rising saltwater-table last year when conservationists across the river decided the mouth should stay blocked by the sand-bar a big storm had dumped. The local magpies still roost there, but it’s only the form of a tree: when hydraulics ceased, respiration and photosynthesis ceased permanently, and the essence of the tree vanished. The Moon exists in relation like a tree. When the time comes for a human being to pay it no mind, it still governs the tides. It’s a moot point whether it’s animate or a piece of machinery.
Your elders are still recovering from the rigours of your family reunion, still wondering exactly what role you expect them to play in your life. This Moon is in the lowest constellation of the Zodiac, in keeping with your elders’ wisest strategy. They’re getting on, aren’t they, these dotards you like to think of as at least having the potential, whatever the grievous harm they once had the power to inflict on you or your parents, to depart with dignity and grace, leaving the machinery running.
Indeed, when the Sun is in Sagittarius, and we are counting our blessings as we embrace a new year, the Moon is foreshadowing his goodbye. You will not peel your eyes to identify its background stars, I fear, but Gemini really is an evocative constellation. Upside down, the weirdly symmetrical twins could be conjoined in their coffin, immortalized in Forgetfulness. A veteran is complete unto himself. His symbol is the Twins. He is affirmed by his absent Other, like a hot water system bears witness to its extinguished pilot light. We are all veterans when we seek validation in social media from others who express our views, when we live variations on a theme. We speak in quotes to immortalize the mechanisms of repetition. You can find our reason on page 55 of a self-help book, word for word.
The inner light as boredom and idolatry; eternity, validation, pain and evanescence: musings of an old man. The impression the veteran nodding off makes on young people is of remembering. Isn’t life a journey consisting of things you do? No, the old man is in the trance which has nourished his whole existence, withdrawing from his formation in relation, yes, but now it’s come to everyday experiences like the generic chatter of great-grandchildren, the pattern of the carpet, the sensation of new-mown hay on the summer wind, the discomfiture of limbs. The dotard sings a flooded country. Each rendition has seemed like an utterly different song, but it is the same he has always remixed. His country exists in song, in any improvisation, so long as his feelings quiver like the machinery of a beyond.
Everyday reality is not serene enclosure like old age, but a kind of perpetual mental illness papered over by tolerance. To one who has been there, done that, it seems as an undeclared war between kindness and anger over who owns the bombed-out remnants of a post-Manichean essentialist world of a Good assembled out of contested rights.
Are there still Magi somewhere who can see in the transit of the Gemini Moon over Natal (sic) a promise of the return of a female Christ? This configuration of the Milky Way is the converse of the sky which heralds Australian initiation among its First Peoples. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. I have created two hemispheres.
What really happened to the Magi? They were veterans of a war between Good and Evil, and whatever the sign was they followed it was as the twittering of birds to most contemporaries. Historical change transpired in its own way, long after their deaths, but what of freedom versus predestination? How goes the war between grace and anger? Did Jesus help? Is his song still heard? Where to find the guiding star? Is Jesus more than an empty desk in one of the skyscrapers that paint the night sky grey?
The young ex-Muslim atheist still asks all the wrong questions, the vestiges of his upbringing by Allah: Why are we here? How can it be that we are so perfect? What is death? Why? The secular humanist also asks these questions, but history cannot validate what it has forgotten. What is the Eastern Wall? What are its mathematics?
For two weeks, wading across the Styx, then through the attenuated constellations of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces and Aries, the Veteran tried to answer such questions on the side of language, society and organised religion. Rioting broke out in Melbourne and society enslaved by freedom harboured a quasi-religious sociopath who drove through scores of citizens crossing the street. For the next two weeks, the Veteran will cross the Anima, and once again the River of Woe, searching in vain within for answers like kindness, submission, lust and love, healing and yoga.
The Lunar Mansions are the same, but the occupants now covet their personalities, like their friendships and their youth, behind curtains of beads in the hallway. The streets are the same, but the short-cuts, always a left then a right, have been barricaded by bollards, negotiable only by pedestrians and cyclists, chattering like cockatoos in a foreign language.
Only here, staring at the carpet of what remains of his country, glistening with oblivion, are the Veteran’s answers to be found, unravelled and not in the slightest mystifying. Veterans don’t live in the past, they did. And so Christmas will end with a most emphatic epiphany below a wall.
The Full Moon over Australia is in the Ninth House. In the daily cycle of the madness of materialistic existence, that puts it in the Bardo of deprivation. East Asia ‘sees’ it in relationship, India aggression, the Middle East self-improvement, Europe and Africa fear, Western Africa and the Atlantic relativity, Eastern South America paranoia, Western South America and Eastern USA discrimination, Western USA perfection, and the Pacific East to West seriousness, ignorance and boredom. If that means nothing else, it indicates that at least the Earth is still alive.
No matter where you are on this earth, and no matter what system of belief you inhabit, the night sky is studded with the stars grouped by perspective into the western astronomical constellations between Virgo setting in the west, Scorpius at transit, north or south, and Aquarius rising in the east. The Sun is in Leo. That much we can infer, regardless of how far it is from the Pisces Equinox, or which season it is in by the Tropical almanac. Whether it is Virgo perspicacity or energy which stirs in your veins, the Lion will for an instant across the United States today demonstrate its presence, as the Moon for that instant discloses the relativity of the Sun.
Disclosure is the process of finding yourself out, learning the rules, those that are imposed and those that you instinctively or reflexively assert, and the resolution of conflicting rules is your choice of who you want to be. When you accept that you cannot always get what you want, when you discover oppression is largely wanting what you can’t have, when the sky doesn’t fall in when a rationalizing of your priorities removes the urgency of much of what you thought you wanted, you enter a new phase of disclosure.
In this process you discover ambiguity and relativity, that there are reasons why people often do not understand you that go beyond you being right or wrong, and by engaging with intersecting lexicons and narratives you develop your own philosophy and a creative perspective on the arbitrariness of the system you inhabit. This development is the intention of deconstruction. Sadly, the outcome of the process you are led through in your education often falls short of the ideal. Relativity can erode the sense of being someone whom everything is relative to. That your language embodies power structures and implicates you in offences you deplore leads more easily to the learning of new languages than to humility and responsibility, when there is nobody speaking it.
The hardest thing to appreciate is what emptiness is full of. You can’t undo the twists and turns of your story by getting out of it, because that too is just another twist. You can’t absolve yourself from the harm you’ve done by attributing it to someone else’s influence or the ignorance of your victim. Karma is the implication of what you don’t do too. The language you no longer speak continues to resonate, and others continue to interpret the story you have vacated. In the end, the things you deconstruct remain things. Whatever an eclipse means to you, the birds will fly home at the end of a shortened day and relaunch their affairs at the end of a shortened night for a repeated shortened day.
This is a depiction of disclosure. Its author has discovered the relationship of inferred Sun position, seasonal formative conditions and human personality, and already suspects his system to be the tip of an iceberg. That is to say, he has reached a realization of subterranean influences on behaviour which dissolve behaviour in an infinity of the unconscious, the mystery of which is reduced to absurdity by systems of conscious explanation. It is only a small step to reproduce the moment in another time and location.
There is a third phase in the process of disclosure. When you have accustomed yourself to ambiguity and relativity, and thereby learned to forgive the agency of others in the injuries you have sustained and which have so profoundly affected the course of your life, when you have forgiven yourself for the injuries you have inflicted on others, and finally forgiven yourself for bearing injury like everybody else, rather than seeking to remove it, you begin to forget. Now it is in your dreams that disclosure proceeds. People who were once central characters in your play reappear on stage in strange roles. Familiar events are recomposed, containing discriminations and formations which are recognizably yours, but quite inside out. It doesn’t matter.
South or North: each is the other buried. Now you really do have a story to get out of: one beyond history with unlimited permutations, without beginning, middle or end, without fixed plots or identities, without seasons or opposites and without author or audience. Disclosure is disclosing itself. You are in old country. Welcome to the empty mirror of the Bardo.
As should be evident by now, my astrology of the Southern Hemisphere is evolving from the bottom up, in every sense. It is beginning to codify Southern observations in Northern terms, as every language must submit itself to translation, but essential elements of traditional Northern astrology are missing and must be supplied. For instance, every bright star of the Northern sky has a name, associated through millennia of common usage with mythical figures, folk stories, parts of the body, humours, remedies and the like. Despite the best efforts of colonial anthropology, and against the background of catastrophic language loss, such a vocabulary exists in the South only in piecemeal and ambiguous form.
As a discourse, astrology must relate to reality as it is interpreted across a vast range of experience. In order for it to be shared, it must have a lexicon, but no language begins with a lexicon, and develops one only as its speakers discover they mean the same thing. Obviously, the basis of shared meaning is success in expressing what you want to say, and that desire comes first: the basis of language is interplay, with the emphasis on play. I observe phenomena of the Southern sky which you don’t, and I want to share what they mean to me. I want to play. It’s as simple as that.
That is how and why this Moon comes to have a peculiar Southern name.
As the midsummer Moon in the North riding low in the sky, it has a traditionally calming influence in the winter sign of dogged determination, but in the South, in the middle of winter, Sagittarius nears the zenith, and bears the tropical sign equivalent to the Northern sign of summer, Cancer, the glorious potential trap of the imagination. The polarity of these signs eloquently represents our contemporary predicament. Assailed by aggressive assertions of distinctive identity, we nevertheless cling to a faith in our connectedness, despite daily acts of extreme non-acceptance which begin to define the insipid defensive culture they reject. Like the good burghers of Nazi Germany, we are learning how to tacitly disown propaganda as the only way to protect our values in compassion and inclusion from stigma and violent enmity.
Highlighting our capitulation comes a Full Moon on the ninth of July over a city named after the ninth of July. What a sign!
The voice which stands out as unacceptable, because it distinguishes itself from propaganda, is no other than the voice of the zealots who gave independence to Argentina, and in wave after wave through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to polities around the world. What is independence? Why are we witnessing its renewed contesting all around us? What is the self we assume in self-determination? Must we renounce the security and comfort bequeathed by the zealots of our patriarchal and colonialist history? Will we all be happy in the swamp when the zealots of resentment have calmed down?
If the rabbit lives in hardship, she has few babies and the farmer can tolerate her. But it is the instinctive mechanism of rabbits in good times to make up for lost procreation, and it is this instinct which threatens the survival of farmland rabbits more than any other factor. The farmer must declare war. In plain words, the rabbit instinct defeats itself: they kill their offspring by having them; or they wouldn’t need to bear so many if they didn’t bear so many. Is this an analogy for what is happening in human communities? Is it time to fight even though we know we will lose? Is the instinct at war with reason? Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing?
Our days revolve through one madness after another, as the Moon’s full phase in each of the twelve houses around the world fittingly demonstrates. In Argentina, it is passing from paranoia to ambiguous survival in relativity, but in Washington, it is agonizing in the third house.
If we rotate our view west, the Moon is reflecting nicely the discrimination which our material survival drives over Mexico City, and the perfection we throw tantrums to demand over Pitcairn Island.
As we cross the Pacific we catch up to the setting Sun, when animal seriousness and ignorance lurk opposite the constricting complexities of afternoon attachment. Then we come to Australia, where east and west divide the world soul between boredom and deprivation, clinging to the future and clinging to the past. Things are always of great import in hell. In mid-morning India, profound emotional difficulties underlie the last swagger of gender traditions. Now, as we reach the early morning Middle East, the Moon is in the house of aggression.
What we do when we don’t get what we want is question what we want, but what we do when we don’t get what we deserve is take it. Mecca’s latitude denies it the Northern tropical signs of summer, and makes them Southern winter signs on the northern side of the zenith. This is a problem, because it does not get a playful intellect or a luxurious imagination. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining its rejection of astrology.
Paradoxically, we cannot linger if we wish to get maximum significance from this moment. The Moon in European and African western skies is dealing with our most pressing concerns in the dawn, with dreams of divine help to overcome intolerance and instinctive imperatives.
Perhaps withdrawal is the only way into heaven, as a northern orientation of the zodiac in the style of the South suggests. The vanity of Cassiopeia and her culpability in the sacrifice of Andromeda are perpetually represented at the elms near the entrance to hell by a justly deserved waterboarding chair. You want to change the world, right? As much prone to zealotry as you, but also, as a clock-watcher drawn to the infinite ways astrology can tell the time, I reckon you boring lecturers need to look north.
When we screw our eyes shut in grief it is not to stop the tears, and it is not to lock out rationality so that we can indulge, but it is because we are overwhelmed by something which must be protected from expertise as the deepest, most precious part of us, the spirit we offer in play, but are in danger of losing in dialogue. It is all vanity, which we don’t need to be told. All that is left of our whirlwind tour, before we head back across the Atlantic to North American midnight paranoia, is the fear of Western Europe as it awakens to the effects of its addictions in the early hours of another sleepless morning.
There is something demeaning in the proliferation these days of experts in motivation, nutrition, self-packaging, wellness, healing and the like. The factories are all closed, so I accept their existence, but their pitch is that life’s problems are delusions, and a trap they know how to spring. Bodhisattvas delaying nirvana for the sake of those who would be left without them in the coils of Maya, they are zealots in the vanguard of our battle with ourselves. What is demeaning in that is its erosion of faith in those who have already fallen, our forbears and the icons of our traditions, our continuity. I would be more comfortable in the company of experts if there were more explicit admission of the discriminatory symptoms they share with their clients, more respect for self-administered cures and compensations, and acknowledgement that when delusion goes, connection often goes with it.
Fitzroy in inner-urban Melbourne was a dangerous hippie haven once, teeming with atheist, Catholic, trade-unionist and Aboriginal zealots. Today, only conscientious caste-members and the usual contingent of mentally-ill criminals remain. Whenever a strident voice aches into the sky with the news that the world will end, because it is evil, corrupt, ignorant or unkind, they all say, you’re just healing.
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.
For fifteen hundred years, through the ages of conflict following the decline of the Roman Empire, the struggle of indigenous Europeans, Americans, Australians, Africans and people of the Pacific to connect “pagan” and Christian identity, the rise of democracy and Islam, wars ongoing over who owns the cradle of The Book, and the commodification of birthplace and burial-ground, and everything in between, the Full Moon after the Northward Equinox has shone in Virgo, at Easter, when Spring stamps her leporine foot in Early Winter.
Ok, the Moon is in this moment when Christians celebrate the resurrection, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life, and when non-Christians celebrate very awkwardly the arrival of symbols of regeneration in Autumn, easter eggs. Signs of faith surround the Moon, symbols of the confrontation between human will and divine spirit, and of the perennial subjugation of women and the magical quality of their self-belief. Some of these have been hitherto invisible to astrologers. The Sun meanwhile, and remember she started all this with her perspicacity and perfectionism, has become straight like you wouldn’t believe.
The Moon’s done this gig so many times he’s got it down pat. He might spend a good deal of time offstage–behind clouds, as it were, because at this moment of rebirth winter is just around the corner–for some of the crew can’t quite get what he’s on about, and you mightn’t either. However, at some point, because it never rains at a full moon, he begins.
First, he announces the theme of the show: “Convention”. Then there’s a long procession across the stage of flamboyant crones and skeleton-costumed heterosexual white males, of homophobes, queers, Ku Klux Klan figures and shrouded Islamists carrying placards that read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”, shrieking contempt and hatred into megaphones. Following that, an electronic band comes on playing arhythmic dance music at breakneck tempo, which is when a naked old guy hauling a cross stumbles across the stage. By now, the audience is normally in uproar, fights break out, and you can’t hear yourself think for the megaphones which have descended into the stalls. Shell road maps for the long weekend are in many an eye as suddenly a large rabbit hops nervously into view. The megaphones and electronic band fall silent and fair dinkum, all you can hear is a communal female voice breathing, aaaahhhhh, and oooohhhhh! The Paedophile gets hauled up, roped to the cross, and the megaphones resume with “Nails! Nails!” An emu trots up to the cross and seems to be trying to get at the acanthus stems woven around the priest’s head. Here and there a person shouts to another, “What kind of way cool convention is this??” The finale is a crow which shifts shape into a burly woman in goddess costume who walks on her hands through the audience with a collection plate like you see in church lashed between her thighs. The Moon purrs into the microphone, “Thank you, thank you! See you for next year’s Virgo installation passion, mushrooms. Thanks for taking part!”
An artisan is defined as a craftsperson, one who applies a traditional skill to produce a hand-made article of utility. Examples of such articles made and used in an earlier time are called artefacts in archaeology. A distinction exists in modern cultures between artisans and artists, but this ought to be tempered with the awareness that artisans in traditional cultures create art, and modern artists acquire traditional skills. What each produces can be called ‘artefact’, as can tools and appliances created by mass production.
The Moon’s artefact is best defined as an artificial construct by method extrinsic to the conventional perspective of the observer of Virgo, in particular that of the astrologer. The Moon is of course looking at you against the backdrop of the sky behind you. (The Sun is also behind you, or else the Moon wouldn’t be fully lit.) As well as being aware that the Sun has changed her position from perfectionism to compromise, and that you are preparing for Autumn while he cavorts with Spring, the Moon sees two striking phenomena: the stars to your left and right are to his right and left, and the Southern Cross, towering invisibly behind your secular orientation towards the meaning of marriage and gender as the crow morphs into goddess, is a perfect symbol of death and resurrection. The fact that you are turned away, or craning your neck backwards so you see it upside-down, does not lessen its importance, or the striking coincidence of its apparition at a moment of profound confusion of Autumn weather and Spring rituals, and of strident antagonism between political left and right. (Or is that right and left?)
An artefact is a moment in the internalisation and development of a tradition, a creation at the very least, whose originality can celebrate transcendence, whose innovative technology can bring a new appreciation of what it is to be human. An artisan can refine beauty, Sun!
On the other hand, artefacts are representative of ultimate reality, and are empty even if the ultimate reality they represent is emptiness. Artisans are shamans returned from a dream to delusion. Crow and Cross are talismans, each against the other. Homophobia and Islamophobia are artefacts, no less than Safe Schools and “tolerance of intolerance”. Left and right are bullying each other.
How is it that the most unconventional youths become the most judgmental seniors? There is no formalist psychological mechanism, as there so seldom is, but rather a transformation of the conventions the youths stimulated us by flouting. Surely the answer is that the most uninteresting people in themselves, the most unentranced by the world as it is, those with nothing to share but a depiction of prison walls, these are the only ones left in advanced age who believe in the spectacular artifice of their youth.
Seeing only black and white is the original sin. Success and failure, right and wrong, are in the eye of the beholder, and it needs to be blared from megaphones that the person who doesn’t agree with you is not a moron! Every life matters, and God forbid that a bigot never come across a simple artefact which awakens him or her to the manifold expression of the human response to existence! God forbid that a single generation arise which holds fast to fixed opinions, to oppressive definitions of offence, to divisive cultural norms, or to any tradition for its own sake!
But if it does, try to show respect. It’s history!
Astrology Game, Bardo, Celestial Gaming, Chögyam Trungpa, Descending Node, Emptiness, Emu, Enemies, Full Moon, Fullness of Emptiness, Jupiter, Leo, Sidereal Astrology, Southern Hemisphere Astrology, Stellar Cast, Subjectivity
‘By “infinitude’s despair” Kierkegaard means the sickness of the personality, the opposite of health. And so the person becomes sick by plunging into the limitless, the symbolic self becomes “fantastic”—as it does in schizophrenia—when it splits away from the body, from a dependable grounding in real experience in the everyday world. The full-blown schizophrenic is abstract, ethereal, un-real; he billows out of the earthly categories of space and time, floats out of his body, dwells in an eternal now, is not subject to death and destruction. He has vanquished these in his fantasy, or perhaps better, in the actual fact that he has quit his body, renounced its limitations.’ Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, Souvenir Press, 1973, p.134.
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” George Santayana.
Moon: Your referral indicates an anxiety problem. Would you like to speak about that?
Earth: Well, I am tearful all the time and I can’t sleep, and the hope I had for this relationship I’m in with people is not working out, and some blame it on me, and say I haven’t done my work on myself and I need to see you.
Moon: Shall we talk about your relationship, or the work you need to do on yourself?
Earth: I suppose my relationship might be working out better if I didn’t have so many contrary habits, the most problematic of which seems to be the way I love. My existence is imprisoned in time. I recover from each loss by attaching myself to something new, which in turn matures and dies. Eternity, the big picture, beckons as a solution, but what is that really but a craving for the end of loss?
Put it this way: in the immensity of the universe everything seems insignificant, meaningless and futile, but my heart breaks for the brevity of human life, and the meaning people try to create. And I have such vivid, horror dreams, which some say may be my struggle with my ego and a sign that I’m on the verge of letting go, but letting go of what? War? Attachment? Time? Or loss…and love…and tears?
Moon: We can explore your dreams in another session, and in the meantime, it might be helpful to focus on some negative thoughts you seem to have and see if we can’t identify them, and change them into positive ones.
Earth: You mean, don’t you, that perhaps my anxiety arises from not feeling good about myself, not being grateful for just being here, having unrealistic expectations, being needy?
Moon: Perhaps. We are in this space-time thing together. If we are unperturbed, there’s no reason we can’t reach out to eternity in harmony, each of us cooperating with the other in ways that work to our mutual satisfaction, such as my libration and your tides, and all we have to do is feel good about that.
Earth: If only I were just a rock in spacetime, but I’m not! I am humanity’s home, and its burial ground! I realise I am not the author of existence, that you and the Sun and the galaxies are as much part of it as I, but the oceans that fishermen work are of me, the gardener’s rain falls on my soil, and the rubble of war is my ruin. I have hopes; I have regrets. I am made of the aspiration of generations, to transform me, to use me in their heroic quests. I have been their perspective and their disappointment.
In the long run, none of it matters, I know that. Form is a figure of speech; ambiguity rules. But if nothing matters, harmony doesn’t matter, nor does eternity. Perhaps it does all come down to habit, but habit is real, my sleeplessness is real, and the fullness of emptiness is real!
Moon: What do you mean by ‘the fullness of emptiness’?
Earth: There is a war going on inside me, and it seems to get worse the wiser I get. First it was spiritual versus material, and then capitalist against socialist: people trying to expand their inside, their subjective experience, against people trying to perfect everybody. None of it was real, but many generations were consumed by anxiety, hatred and war. Out of it emerged an uneasy stalemate: the spirit of the universe has evolved as the projection of egos which regard themselves as delusions. Even you are not much more than a rock these days, reflecting light from the nearest star from different angles, and if I weren’t here you wouldn’t even do that.
Moon: I am ok with however you want to see me.
Earth: Precisely! Any definition is a delusion, including that one, but defining is real, and so is ambiguity. That’s the fullness of emptiness! Your ‘ok’ does respond to how I see you. That is the war going on inside me as it has evolved. Bullies are looked upon as pathetic creatures of reified belief, and yet they cause suffering, which does not seem empty to the perfectionists. The age-old solution was to negate a bully’s belief by standing up to him, thereby validating the belief system which informed the bullying. The new solution is to teach emptiness to the bully, and in effect indulge the victim in a compassionate validation of irresponsibility. No?
My anxiety is about compassion becoming a habit which entails a kind of heat-death, the dissolution of ego’s energy into an anti-heroism content with an aspiration to gratitude for inherited cocoons. My anxiety is about the fullness of this emptiness. Empty bullies hurt!
Moon: It is difficult to resist your impression of the root of your anxiety, but I perceive another possibility which I suggest you deliberate on between now and a next session should you request one. In affirming a tension between finitude and infinitude one merely states the conditions of existence. There is no cause of anxiety here. Anxiety arises in despair: the refusal to be finite in relation to the infinite, but alternatively the refusal to be infinite in relation to the finite. In familiar terms, we share the characteristics of hurtling and falling, and each exists as a determinant and effect of the other. Freedom is the relation to the relation of possibility to necessity. Your anxiety may result from the relation of infinitude to finitude, as you seem to believe, or in your self it may be arising from a refusal of the denial of that relation that is being transferred to you by the despair of others. It may lie in the relation of your love to an imbalance towards abstraction and a denial of limitations in those you love, or its relation to an obsessive absorption in the everyday which denies possibility, in other cases.
Fullness, as I take your meaning, can be likened to the heat which creates the steam. Remember, as the old saying has it, a watched pot never boils.
Your anxiety may arise from your sanity in a sick world, or your own sickness…and on that note we must interrupt our conversation.
End of Session.
My definition of astrology is rather loose, if not perverse: it is a gaming of reality — feeling, time and form — which enhances meaning and expands it until it implodes for lack of, you guessed it, objectivity.
The world is made of subjectivity, not objects, and that is where astrology properly begins and ends. Unfortunately, as practised by many astrologers, it affirms the belief that we have an essential nature as subjects and can therefore be understood like objects as having independent existence.
We may feel no enmity, but as object to some we would befriend, we have become ’the enemy’. How is equanimity attained? Is it really despite yourself that you are someone’s enemy? Will you die at peace, or simply already dead to poverty and devastation?
I’ve been reading Chӧgyam Trungpa’s Book, Transcending Madness–very appropriate subject matter for Southern Hemisphere Astrology! My whole enterprise is mad, it seems, dropping breadcrumbs in the moonlight towards the mouth of a cave–of identity, of conventional astrology–people don’t want to leave, with birds as my only retinue.
In the process of reading, I recognized the realms of existence and the Bardo states as mapping the same terrain as my interpretation of the astrological Houses. My first merger of the two maps was this one:
Like any map, it took a while to orientate, and playing around with it, I came up with this one:
This one satisfies me for now. You can see how the resonances of the Constellations align with the Zodiac and the seasons, and with their opposites across the chart. You can also see the effect of my chosen Ayanamsa of (currently) 27.73° (whose origin is Iota 1 Scorpii at 0° Sagittarius–so important to preserve the tail of the South’s most prominent constellation!) on the Sun’s sidereal location throughout the year.
The title of this post mentions Thou, and that’s what I want to get onto, but because of its importance in my understanding of madness, and because of its prominence in the chart above, I will tell you a little about my concept of Lilith, Black Moon Lilith, whose glyph appears in each Constellation above.
Lilith is a strange compartment of the psyche, buried so deep as to have no real location, and yet its ghost lingers in the shadows of every corridor. Mathematically, it can be found as the hypothetical apogee of the Moon, bouncing around all over the place as the Moon’s orbit lurches through the turbulent influences of Sun and Earth (and Venus and Jupiter etc.). Astronomically, it can be identified by measuring the Moon’s distance at its greatest. Psychologically, it symbolizes our earliest, most distant but fundamental emotional experience, separation.
What was our first experience of emotional pain? How did we come to define it? How did we react and perceive the response to our behaviour and our training to overcome it? How did we understand the sanctions of our early training and internalize them? How did the chaotic feelings of frustration and anguish translate into behaviour? How did that behaviour contribute to the form of our early relationships? How did we modify it ourselves as we came to evaluate the behavioural models before us? Along what path to attitude did we remedy ourselves? What are we made of: remedy or pain?
Aren’t we mad, the way we’re so sane?
In the chart I suggest keywords for the possible ways in which you could differentiate behavioural pathways according to personality type, and perhaps more importantly, how you could find the seeds of personality in fortuitous behaviour type. Here is a link to some fine work on Lilith: http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/blackmoon/lilith.html
The graphic representation of sidereal/tropical date-difference of Sun entry of the Signs and Constellations in the Madness chart got me thinking about what I now know as ascension difference. My question was, how long after the ascension of the first point of a constellation does the ascension of the next sign follow? It turns out that because of the tilt of Earth’s axis of rotation, and the inclination of the horizon to the Ecliptic, the relationship of sidereal and tropical zodiacs in time varies markedly. Here is a representation of that:
The times given in hours:minutes:seconds are of how long each Constellation takes to cross the Ascendant at my latitude. The time it takes the next associated Sign to rise after the first point of each Constellation varies between 5:27 and 11:18 (mins:secs). At the extremes, it takes Aries 2:29:46 to cross the horizon and 11:18 for the Sign of Taurus to follow; but Virgo is across the horizon in 1:14:04 and the Sign of Libra follows 5:27 later.
What has this got to do with anything? Well, what you see above is the opposite to what occurs in the Northern Hemisphere, where our short ones are all long and our long ones are all short. Furthermore, because the Ascendant takes longer to pass through the long ones, the likelihood is that more natal horoscopes will have Ascendants in long Signs than in short Signs.
The Wikipedia entry on the Ascendant includes this juicy morsel:
“Some astrologers, such as Richard Nolle, consider the preponderance of Ascendants in signs from Cancer through Sagittarius (known as the western signs) to be symbolic of the highly relationship-oriented character inherent in a complex or civilized society as found today in the northern hemisphere but never developed in equatorial or south temperate latitudes where eastern (Capricorn through Gemini), individual-oriented Ascendants are equally or more common.”
I can’t at present find in nature a basis for differentiating Eastern and Western Signs, other than that depicted above, but thanks for focussing me on the western hemisphere, Richard. It’s where the interesting things happen down here too, such as the behaviour of the Vertex.
Referring to the Ascension Difference chart, and bearing in mind that the Equinoxes are at 2.27° Virgo and Pisces, the Ecliptic in all of the Constellations below the horizontal line crosses the Western Horizon north of due west, so that the Vertex is below the horizon. The configuration of the Constellations as shown, with the Southern Summer Solstice in Sagittarius at the top, occurs 3min 56sec earlier each day, this morning at 08:52:49 EDST. For several hours beforehand, the Vertex, as astrology refers to another imaginary point at the intersection of the Ecliptic and the Prime Meridian (or due west), looped through Gemini, Cancer and Leo.
As the projection onto the Ecliptic of the Descendant or Shadow, the Vertex, which has been named Destiny’s Gate by one astrologer, lurks in the western, afternoon and evening Houses, in which relationship reveals the nightmarish difficulty of merging consciousness with others, and when flagging egos often suffer more than glancing blows. It symbolizes both the danger and the blissful anticipation of that most intimate Other, the Beloved.
As I configure the resonances of the Constellations in the Madness chart above, associating them with their opposite Zodiac Signs, the Vertex had quite a journey! (Lilith was in Cancer.) It ultimately reached a tense conjunction with the Shadow at the time stated, and clambered above ground like the ghost of Sadako in The Ring, lurching into the earnest spiritual materialism of Virgo. The journey will repeat itself tomorrow.