It may or may not be obedience to biological imperatives in the Southern Hemisphere as it climbs toward summer, when protected snakes are everywhere under the tractors cutting hay and firebreaks, but it seems to be universal as the year grows old for a compelling tendency of human beings to manifest itself, namely, having to be right. How fitting for the celebrated beneficiaries of slavery and colonialism to jet into Glasgow to offer the developing world milder climatic extremes in exchange for the same energy that made them stinking rich.
You can cry out for roadmaps, Covid-Normal, Nett Zero, as loudly as you like, but what good are they going to do if you don’t know where you are? And is there a roadmap for finding the businesses which have closed during lockdown? Is there a roadmap for negotiating your first conversation with a stranger in almost two years? Like an insect, you might have to do some fancy remembering, left, right, straight for two blocks and another left, in reverse, just to make it back home. It might take a while to get used to being whom others think you are, and behaving accordingly.
Would you agree that fundamentalism is just a fancy word for navigational disability? I mean, it’s not studies in comparative religion which promote harmony in multicultural communities, but the practised art of sidestepping difference, copping an act of rudeness which doesn’t mean the end of the world, and doesn’t come close to cancelling out the courteous responses our clumsy enquiries don’t deserve. Put another way, why would you go out of your way to cultivate even a fleeting relationship with a different perspective to that which you already possess at home? Or, when will you ever go to an intimately shared movie theatre again, now that you’re streaming? And again, why would you become a Taurus, or a Libra, when you’re accustomed to being a Scorpio?
It will come as no surprise to you, knowing how easily it can happen, that the Moon has rather lost his way. He seems to resent the task before him, and is too often obscured by cloud, as though deliberately. The Sun herself has expressed concern over the Moon’s performance as an eye. What is this fixation on the Circlet of Pisces, for example? Two Monk Moons indeed! Disciplinary correction at New Moon is called for. His cooperation with geocentricism is pandering to the unwillingness of human beings to navigate the Bardo!
It is your reticence as much as anything which has facilitated a transition to the heliocentric perspective, and an overdue erasure of tropical differences into the bargain. Why would your heaven trust you, keeper of secrets, who clings to a personal universe couched in sleepwalking terms like lavatory, refrigerator, service station, supermarket and plate? Your country calls you from its horizon! Weather, after all, is in all likelihood psychoconvected. The Sun is 16m 23s fast. Can you find a dark sky at midnight?
Doubt is the necessary condition for meaning, and the necessary condition for doubt is time, and specifically time’s experienced intervals. What measures your mindfulness and interrogates your ego? Habits? Addiction? Divorce and remarriage rate? Child milestones? Reunions? New Year’s Eve? For some of us it is Full Moons, and Saturn Returns. The longer the interval, the more abrupt and bittersweet our apprehension of the brevity of the time we have. Were we right?
In a week from now, a Great Conjunction will divide our lives into twenty-year chunks. For a very long time, observers of the cosmos like Kepler have understood that successive conjunctions occur roughly 120 degrees apart, so that every third return occurs in the vicinity of its forerunner, but advancing through the Zodiac by 4-10 degrees every 60 years. The previous occurrence of this triad took place in sidereal Sagittarius in 1961. A Grand Return, a full circle, takes 1767-8 years, by my calculations. The last time it occurred in the vicinity of this one was in February 253 CE, and before that, ‘February’ 1455 BCE. How much time have we got?
I will leave it to the Sun and Moon to tell us how long it takes for a Great Conjunction in sidereal Capricorn to coincide with a New Moon. I am content to leave it in doubt. This Moon will be near First Quarter.
The last time the New Moon occurred on December 14-15 at the tail-end of the Scorpion was in 2001, and the next will be in 2031, when we may have another eleven years to look back on, and maybe not. At nightfall tonight Jupiter and Saturn are less than half an outstretched fingertip apart.
I doubt if anybody here still holds to the view that seasons have a fixed starting date and duration. Perhaps there are Australians who regard scorching-hot weather before December 1 as an aberration, and purists who don their summer outfits at the Solstice. I know there are many who believe the Northern Hemisphere tropical signs apply down here with some sort of transcendental cosmological impact, and many of you up there incorporate Southern Signs into a meaningful polarity. Pity those migratory birds who arrive down here in a drought! But do notice how Ascendant and Descendant play out in the Antipodes.
Along with the doubt which plagues us at this time of year that the brilliancy of our appropriate gifts will be under-appreciated, we have become accustomed to the devaluation of the Christian festival which draws nigh, just as the Christians devalued pagan antecedents. But as we prepare for the insufferable rectitude of pubescent nephews and nieces, can we admit the ambiguity and indefinability of the seasons?
After all, as our youngsters are fond of pointing out, it’s 2020, and it’s we who’ve changed the seasons, and perhaps invalidated all Tropical Signs, North and South. Have we really changed the seasons? Let’s have recourse to the timeless wisdom of indigenous peoples, or are they now wrong too?
There are no seasons on the Moon, only day and night, lasting 13 1/2 days each, which can be described as bloody hot and bloody cold. Perhaps the siderealists are right: Signs are no more than myth and appearance. If we abolish the seasons from the Moon’s view of us, what remains?
So back where we start from, we persevere in creating the antidote to doubt. What the Great Conjunction means depends on the Sign it occurs in, which I leave to the vested interests. All I know is how small it makes me. Country is time distilled. Will 2020, and the disadvantage its catastrophes have imposed at the margins, never end?
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.” from “Defeat“, by Kahlil Gibran.
One of the first conventions we learn as infants is that the difference between zero and one is the same as the difference between nine and ten. Who knows how many tens of millennia we took to dismantle the convention that the difference between zero and one is infinite? What is ‘country’, as I use the term, if not an attempt to restore the sacred awe implicit in that ancient convention? Of course, conventions have ever been challenged by the truth. If, after half a millenium, our horoscopes are still governed by Northern Hemisphere seasons, and we still have trouble recognizing the Zodiac because its Constellations are upside down, don’t blame me.
However, it is not truth, but convention, not righteousness, but compassion, which hold communities together, especially when they originate from all over the world. A lot of healing is in progress: it has been a summer out of hell across Australia, grief never far beneath the surface. Community resilience is not in question, or the courage and kindness of good neighbours from all over the country and the world, but in the debate worldwide about how to prevent a repeat, it is difficult not to hear the same divided bickering that characterizes our efforts to deal with the racist, sexist and colonialist conventions we were all made of.
Has not the extant population of Earth, like a forest held together by subterranean fungus, arrived at an optimism, a raison d’être, a motivation for getting out of bed, deriving from a sense of powerlessness normally associated with depression, which is invisible, and ultimately unbelievable? Are we not, like a wind turbine in a coal-driven economy, or an ego in a yoga routine, going through the motions? Does not the survival of humanity beyond the next generation lurk in the legacies of the beneficiaries of our last wills and testaments, framed and interpreted by nobody who ever understood or respected the pain we old ones put the world through?
Pessimism looks like another secret to keep from our grandkids. How much easier that would be if they just had partners who preferred refined white bread because they ate it as children, revered secrets because their mothers were narcissists, and also cannot wait to get the kids out of the house for the sake of some me-time. Pessimism looks like a race to see who grows up first, the coffin we need to lose a huge amount of weight to fit into, in the grey area between one and zero. Hey kids, the song of the magpie out there means another perfect day! Off you go now.
One day, we might agree that hope and heartache both start with the same letter as hallelujah and hell, but apparently not yet. In the meantime, it’s in country I need to recover some equanimity, lest I go conventionally mad somewhere between nine and ten.
Country is the body of my idea, the underworld of my zenith. Country is the bush, the planet, the sound of one hand clapping, the whirr of insects, the roar of surf and wind, bird calls, traffic, someone singing, silence, the underworld sky. It has been mortally wounded, not only by drought and fire, and fear of climate change, but by an enormous sadness which seems to weigh on everyone, no longer possible to ignore, making even hope heavy. But healing is in the nature of things. You could say that adaptation and evolution are healing processes. The present is the past healing, you could say, the idea of time’s body, perhaps. However, never complete or permanent, healing is definitely not the same as salvation. Is that what makes it so sad? Doctors, of flesh and spirit, heal their compassion by trying to alleviate human suffering, knowing that neither suffering nor compassion can ever be cured. And if anyone is to blame, everyone is to blame. Does the sad doctrine of original sin mean other than everyone is wronged and everyone is wrong?
Australia needs a doctor! We grieve the deaths of millions of animals who trusted the bush. We grieve the passing of a world in which the conflagration of bush-change was as inconceivable as the inundation of sea-change. Actually, there is a profusion of shingles advertising pyres for deniers of climate change, but proselytizers always abound in the projection of shame. The Healer makes no claim to timeless wisdom, but engages in what must change: understanding, tradition, discrimination, self.
Scene: The Healer’s waiting-room. Whimpers and groans issue from an assortment of shapes around the room, and all that is visible of most lowered faces is distorting disgust and anger, while they rehearse their soliloquies.
“Human languages have evolved away from their original capacity to communicate with inanimate objects, and have limited things within a vocabulary of peculiarity, e.g. sick man, old man, dead man, holy man, which negates their subjectivity, and masks who else it is doing the dependent co-arising. Making universal gods of the vital elements of human experience, the inner voices of paleolithic biochemistry, should have led to something other than abstraction, objectification, copyright and forgetfulness. It should be the birthright of every human child to grow up in a world of interwoven spatial and temporal languages: mathematical, chemical, linguistic, gravitational, ecological.”
“What would happen to terrestrial tides and nights if there were no Moon? What would existence be like if there were no Earth? What might the gods be discussing with you if you weren’t demanding they inhabit the detritus of your attention-span? What community might we belong in if we could overcome our recently acquired faith in an immortal society?”
“What being actually feels like is uphill and downhill, like a subway elevator on our way to and from work in periods of growth, learning and self-actualization, utility, creativity and self-assertion, or harmony, withdrawal and reconstitution. For reasons best explained by storytellers, elevators get no mention in the sequence of these periods which may form a lifetime, a year, a day or an hour, but suffice to say, nobody likes to think of themselves as going around in circles, regardless of how many others are employed by our need to do so: ‘Shut up, or I’ll nail your other foot to the floor!'”
“Linear narrative has come to bestow on its proponents many seductive advantages, such as property and common law, historical grievance and the justification of war and terrorist reprisal, but above all, narrative has sacralized the hippocampus as the altar of knowledge and expertise. Narrative is primarily responsible for the curse of our age, identity, and our horror of the mental illness we define as dementia, its collapse.”
“Time tries to heal too. The moment is oppressed by memory. The future cannot come into being until versions of the past are forgotten. Snippets of music from the past, golden oldies, are private property anchoring their celebrant in the past, to the extent of encouraging regret for the passing of the moment. Ultimately, not only must private property be abolished, but also the wellsprings of avarice and envy, the human spirit. Any amount of educational experiment is welcome in place of the abolition of flesh and blood. Since rationality is the invasion of the moment by the past, children must be taught to cease any effort to understand.”
“Think about this, think about that. What belief are you pushing, Healer? What is wrong with you anyway? It’s your job to fix things, but you never! Your altruism consists of dog whistling the fools who think people like you are somebody. Actually, your compassion is pitiless. Hello? Wake up to yourself! There’s no time left for you to understand the darkness in which we feel less alone, to let the stars in, and acknowledge the Moon as the poor healer who killed himself in your waiting room!”
She has licence for hyperbole, dear soul, after what she’s been through. And the Moon does seem to be seeking a different way to heal. The heat has quite gone out of his competition with the Sun. Indeed, the deities of each are withered on dead placentas, their genders archived where salvation doesn’t shine. Humanity is its own body within a body now. Long live the Earth in the Zodiac of Moon Country! We don’t know enough of our planet’s companionship! Earth’s terrors are reduced at Moon distance to a human fingerwidth at arm’s length, and the disjunct of Sign and Constellation is healed in the absence of seasons. The geographical location of the overhead Moon is the centre of the planet’s disc at lunar zenith, during lunar daylight and terrestrial night between First and Third Quarters, lunar night and terrestrial daylight between Third and First, and equal in geographical latitude and sidereal time to the Moon’s declination and right ascension. Precise calculation of Earth’s position is one of the most difficult problems facing lunar mathematicians, but ‘among those stars right above us’ will do for now, until a fully-fledged astrology evolves.
“Let me in,” cries a voice in the stone-age bicameral mind, in the Pacific Ocean 460 kilometres off Colima in Mexico. Didn’t a mysterious stranger get hauled out of this sea once? In fact, there is nobody in the Healer’s consulting room but someone closer to the head of the queue, an old man aimlessly brushing sand from the hieroglyphs he occasionally unearths under the plaque of his wandering. With bewildered effort he can remain vertical, this encrusted column sinking into the sea in line with the others where once there may have been a causeway.
Oh Mensch! Gieb Acht!
Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?
„Ich schlief, ich schlief—,
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht:—
Die Welt ist tief,
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh—,
Lust—tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit
will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!“
O man, take care!
What does the deep midnight declare?
“I was asleep—
From a deep dream I woke and swear:—
The world is deep,
Deeper than day had been aware.
Deep is its woe—
Joy—deeper yet than agony:
Woe implores: Go!
But all joy wants eternity—
Wants deep, wants deep eternity.” Zarathustra’s Roundelay, Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra.
This, believe it or not, is no laughing matter. Homo sapiens sapiens has assumed responsibility for the weather. It had to happen. At least 50 kya they anticipated night sky configurations of the Milky Way Galaxy conducive to initiatory ceremonies—or did they?—and buried their dead in the Underworld. At least 5 kya their familiarity with the seasons was able to relate Sun position, seasons and phases of the Moon. At least 500 ya they were able to time their affairs independently of the weather or Sun and Moon position; in fact Sun and Moon were forced to obey their mathematical formulae. Now anyone who doubts the power of Homo sapiens sapiens to bend inevitable change to static comfort parameters is called ‘denialist’ and ostracized. Is it any wonder that the birds on the wire cock one eye at Homo sapiens sapiens as it hurtles past on its ‘freeways’ towards its occupation of creating eternal life for its celebrated traders of inequality and elite rapists of country and planet?
However, doubt is not on the calendar because of climate change and the questionable benefits of capitalism and its derivative, consumerism. No, doubt enters the equation at this time of the Homo sapiens sapiens year because the Sun has already entered the great River of Woe, the Acheron, and nobody, least of all the celebrants of whichever solstice it might be, or the children who must learn real gratitude for whatever disappointment a guy in a red suit and false beard leaves them before he disappears into whatever parents do during the day, has ever been confident, notwithstanding the living testament of 2,500 generations of ancestral stars, that beyond its other bank is not death, species death, heat death, or a merely temporary annuity paid by the actuaries of finitude. The opposite of woe is not happiness, but forgetting, because woe is not unhappiness, but the rational apprehension of finitude in eternity, or in time itself and nothingness, which come and go in quantum micro- and macro-transparencies, the experience of which is the very definition of country, and for that matter, Homo sapiens sapiens itself.
Sidereal zodiacs are personal things. Various of those divided into twelve equal parts place their boundaries where they coincided with the seasons at some time in the past, or originating at Spica, or at intervals placing important stars in the middle of their Constellations. My zodiac, the so-called Breamlea Zodiac, conforms to three basic rules: boundaries wherever possible must accord with observation; boundaries must to all intents and purposes be defined in a static frame of reference; and boundaries must follow lines of Right Ascension, so that alignments of constellations and stars beyond the zodiac fan out from the Celestial Equator anchored by observation’s left and right, square to the meridian. Accordingly, Iota 1 Scorpii is the hinge of my zodiac—it moves 0.00026° south along its hour circle every 100 years, in galactic coordinates about 13 arcseconds in longitude and 7 arcseconds in latitude in 2000 years—at 0° Sgr, and “Yabby” is the easternmost bright star of one of the sky’s most dramatic and familiar asterisms.
Everything in the sky moves, hourly, daily and yearly, Sun and planets, stars and galaxies. Unlike equinoxes, solstices and ayanamsas, and the inclination of Earth’s Equator to the plane of the Milky Way, the intersections of Ecliptic and Galactic Equator have barely moved in the celestial background of the Zodiac throughout recorded time, so the Milky Way naturally presents another static frame of reference. Woe, the Gate of God, and Forgetting, the Gate of Man, are powerful pivots of sidereal astrology, where Moon and planets cross the great river of stars which still, in dark skies, wheels overhead as awesomely as it has done for as long as there have been eyes to see it, and independently of comparatively rapid seasonal and climatic change. Seasons and their Signs move across the heavens; constellations and other asterisms mill around in situ.
I live just down the road from Wurdi Youang. I discovered country 5000 years ago, when the angle between galactic poles and me was 90°, and I marvelled at the ‘me’ my ancestors were showing me as they assembled in a straight line over my head, inviting me to stretch one arm to one end and the the other to the opposite end, and not only was the Emu standing in my skin and language speaking where it always has on my west side, but straight in front of me where I clapped was the noon hour, the law, everything, including me, as it just is and always was across the laval plain east of the Anakies and south of The Divide, and I knew that directly behind me was a circlet of thousands of years of clockwise-cycling song and dance and ceremony, casting upon the law a shadow of eternal joy.
Something about you tells me we knew each other! You don’t remember either? Well, isn’t that just the way it goes? Perhaps we were lovers, and walked together, or shared a fire, a creation story or a common ancestor. Perhaps, on different sides of a world, we caused the same calamity, or escaped it. Regardless, I believe I admired you, and I bear you and your ignorance of my grave no ill will, as I have no intention to tend yours. Is that true, or is it just another leaf of the Elm I have forgotten?
I would like to say I remember every face which has ever presented itself to me, but I can’t. I very much fear that there is no longer a man in the Moon, and sometimes I wonder if there ever was. I know that I am, and where I am—I know your retina like the back of my hand—but I no longer seem to remember when I was here last or what I was feeling. I am in less of a rush to watch Lethe’s ablutions, and less susceptible to Aldebaran’s eye, as though I have forever already passed through the Gate of Man, or the waters of Lethe permanently cling to me now, in a Labyrinth of Forgetting haunted by the Minotaur of who I once was.
I know I once flaunted myself over the trenches of Flanders, and confusing what is deep in the heart with what is in the sky is as old as time, but whereas I have hosted human technology and confidence you could achieve anything, more than half the world has lost faith in everything, including that, and the rest are sampling a delectation of priceless baubles, even while they decry the manufacture of their satisfaction beyond the event horizon of the seventies, when developed countries allayed their panic about pollution by creating mountains of waste someone else could get filthy and sick transforming. ‘Progress’ had a different meaning in those days. Now it means a race by the poor for world domination, or giving up the technology of climate creation and planetary mining to lie down in a submissive but guilt-relieved ditch of abnegation.
How long ago was it that your ancestors could hold you accountable by disappearing over the horizon and leaving you to your ’emotional intelligence’, your faithless disobedience? In the oldest continuous culture on Earth, among Australia’s first immigrants, it looked like this.
But in the politics of resistance to patriarchal aggression the ancestors always reappeared in the East to applaud the resilience of women, and dare I say, non-binary men? Women who rise from their beds early in the Spring and retire late in Summer are confirmed in worshipping nothing but their own sensibility: it is all going to be just fine.
In the Northern Hemisphere it has always been a different story, and what other explanation do you need for the despoliation of the planet and the exploitation by miners and slavers of Southern Hemisphere equanimity? When they align themselves across the eastern sky, arcing like ancient wisdom between the cardinal directions of South and North, it is as gods within that the ancestors first return in Northern skies. It is at the Gate of God, when the nebulosity at the centre of the galaxy in the southwest leaves its spoor directly overhead, that boys cross into manhood in the hungry dawns of Spring and the proud evenings of Summer’s disappearance. The matriarchy of Southern latitudes is a mythical lost paradise. Seventeen hours or eight months later, the ancestors retire under the blankets above post-industrial Western welfare-states, where the masculinity-challenged may dream of healing, presence, collective rights and a day of reckoning.
Yes, the burqa and niqab are written in the stars, but now that nobody who looks can see, I am lost. I cannot read your heart any more. Your thought seems more like borderline personality disorder than soul, and that begins to seem as though we are no longer looking at each other with the same capacity to share that a bird on a wire has regarding the cars on the freeway, if only the drivers would stop, and let the children get out, to walk under the wire.
Is it time to be a Peasant or a Vagabond? Aggressive or insecure? Independent or withdrawn? I don’t know, and it is rather urgent we put our heads together, because next May, the Northern Ascending Node (Southern Descending Node) precesses to the Lethe. If I don’t find myself, neither will you, but unlike yours, my forgetting might be eternal. “What am I here[-]after?” we may well ask. The answer is just around the corner I turned yesterday, as you would realize, not having turned it.
“I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'” Apocalypto, Mel Gibson, 2006.
We believe in progress, don’t we? How quaint. Of course, it is the human spirit, universal mind, which progresses, not capitalism, materialism or technology. The ‘world’ may be going to climatic hell in a handbasket unless it becomes a ‘community’ sustaining our habitats rather than exploiting them. But how inclusive is the ‘we’ listening to Greta? If ‘we’ belong to ‘the broader community’, it is either with a subconscious, bodily sense of belonging to a universal family with a common ancestor who had neither eyes nor sex, or by virtue of a religious belief in salvation, an egoistic faith that we will leave the world, no less, a better place when we go, by engaging in a lifelong addiction to the mental illness of self-improvement. What it is that mental illness saves us from lurks in the underworld and is unspecified. Death? Climate change? Ridicule? Ostracism? Other people? Until push comes to shove, we all agree that the reason we are here is to participate in human flourishing, and we do so participate, and yet our judgment that our neighbour’s progress is not fast or far enough casts doubt on the whole project, whether we crossed the Atlantic under sail or by Concorde. After all, ‘Flourishing’ is every weed’s middle name, is it not?
«If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there, is there any sound?»
«My dear fellow, you don’t need to tell me. It is obvious from your agonized cycles of inspiration and disillusionment that you see your mission as bringing the world together. You may well be able to represent unperceived existence or the sound of one hand clapping, but a less flattering mirror might reflect just another snake-oil salesman peddling to binary extremists the myth of community.»
«How you enjoy being unkind when you enter the Southern Hemisphere! I don’t blame you for the seasons, so don’t blame me for antipathy and self-doubt. You have seen as well as I the erosion and disappearance on Earth of tradition, the replacement of integrity by diversity and the surrender of autonomy and sovereignty to specialists and experts. Alas, gone are the days when I could fill a lover’s heart. Romantic love has become an elitist joke, and emotional intelligence has demoted affinity to habit.»
«Yes, I have seen. Very few people are aware of you these days, and the reverence I once enjoyed has also disappeared. But as an ebb scrambling in stones is woven by the ocean, human knowledge holds but a candle to me, and the immensity of the darkness of our four-billion year invisibility is framed by eyes which have forgotten the miracle of light. Not a day goes past without a media reference to community as a thing, however community is no more than a momentary ebb of galactic time you land in as a child and believe to be whole and timeless until you experience and understand its delusions, conflicts and grievances as your life’s work.»
«We’re all in this together. This Spring month is the hardest one, when emotions emerging from hibernation are dragged screaming behind overriding evolutionary imperatives. The spectre of a life less ordinary stirs in our hormones in Spring. Winter’s day of reckoning has arrived. Perhaps climate change is only one face of the programmable futility of loving and being loved. Was this era ordained in the evolution of the eye? You never know, the headlines might one day read, “President of Earth Distracted During Her Election Campaign Interview by the Miracle of Being Alive.”»
«We are indeed in this together. I am already halfway through my life: nothing stays the same forever. Howsoever the community wills itself to be enslaved, by Instagram influencers, law courts and other despots, parliaments, corporations, mainstream media or gurus, it doesn’t matter in the end. Earth seems to be divided between those who think life is too tough, and those who think they are just tough enough. For those with eyes to see, twas ever thus: see the other first in order to grab a meal, or become someone else’s. I wonder in which sector of the Milky Way “Soul”, humanity’s death star (there’s no ‘u’ in ‘Sol’), will settle, and who or what will ever see it, and where. Are your ancestors concentrated in one or the other, Woe or Forgetting? Does your family have a plot? Is there a high premium? Or do you look up, and out, and beyond, and just trust? Or not look?»
“The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.” Jacques Monod.
“Having the freedom to believe but not to express is not freedom at all.”Gabrielle Moore.
A grandparent’s life is about transforming eternity into permanence: preparing for death must be an act of love.
”Clara didn’t belong to you.” “Your life didn’t belong to you.” Almodovar, Carne Trémula (Live Flesh) 1997.
“What happened to you?” Disappointment is readily couched in blame, but the failure of the prodigal to live up to expectations cannot cloak one’s projected dismissal of annihilation, particularly narcissism’s claim to survival in eternity, and the open-ended immensity of non-existence known as permanence which so overwhelms the sociopath. Let us remember Janus, facing past and future at the gateway of our absence.
“Let me tell you what happened: this layabout took off when the going got tough, and excluded us from the temple of his emotions; and now his Procrustean flesh wants to come home, because it seems the capacity of its independence cannot surpass his father’s blessing.”
Not that this Moon would rationally be reflecting you personally, but ask yourself, was your existence worth its effect on global-warming, for example? Was it sufficient to be stable in your ignorant, irresponsible, surprised consumption of the self-evidence of every platitude, every fashion statement, every improvement to humanity and the planet, which you were manipulated by status into following … or not?
More to the point, if you are prodigal, is it in your wastage of the natural resources you inherited, or of the opportunity to share them with the poor of the world you choose to make your equals by calling them disadvantaged? How can you choose climate-change minimization over poverty alleviation? Fear? Shame? Millions have died in youth who, with the endowment of electricity, security and education, might have contributed far more to the science of energy technology, climate management and human survival than you and your lucky fathers, mothers, sons and daughters have achieved.
Have you lost your inheritance, the reason for your pain and all its hope, and in your contrition are you just begging your father for more than a slave’s wage? Take it then, the fatted calf of a world of hatred, fear and anger it is unlawful to express! Like the older brother in the parable of Jesus, I question your fitness at the table, especially where global temperatures and the manhandling of your waste are traded. Your eternity is emotional prattle and your permanence is rational wank, not flipping but tripping.
It is well-known that the Tropic of Capricorn passes through Longreach (and Gracemere, south of Rockhampton) in Queensland. Still quite commonly known is the fact that the inclination of the Equator to the Ecliptic is currently decreasing, and so the latitude of the Southern Solstice is moving northward. However, only our allegorical prodigal knows that in the year he was born, 1993, the Tropic of Capricorn passed over the Longreach hospital in which his long-suffering mother brought him into the world. A lifetime later, he is still pondering, as is his wont, if he was born before or after a Vertex Flip, if indeed there was one above his southerly ward, and why the stars wait for birth to exercise their influence. The miracle of gestation and the exhaustion of labour have never entered his equations of care. Thinking with the heart does not teach us to feel with the head.
What is the ‘Vertex Flip’? Twice a day it happens for every location in the tropics, where James Cook University has estimated more than half of the world’s population will live by mid-century. An uncomfortable moment from which the majority of humans have escaped into temperate latitudes, it transposes and mystifies the hemispheres of left and right, before and behind and up and down, whatever they might mean. Currently stationed in North Queensland, (among the electorates which decided Australia’s destiny at the recent election,) I must say how tumultuous seem the Constellations of Scorpius, Sagittarius and Capricornus at the Zenith, revolving implausibly into my South.
No wonder the comfortable geometries of astrology evolved by the heirs of Ptolemy flourish in temperate latitudes: what sense can they make of the lurch of the Vertex from Eleventh House (one before IC—bottom West) to Fourth (one after MC—top West), and of the Anti-Vertex from Third (one before MC—top East) to Tenth (one after IC—bottom East), when the Ecliptic, the Zenith, and East, West, North and South converge? The Third House is the House of Intellect and the Bardo of Paranoia, and the Ninth House is the House of Aspiration and the Bardo of Deprivation. The Fourth House is the House of Reputation and the Bardo of Relativity, and the Tenth House is the House of Realization and the Bardo of Boredom. The Vertex by definition is a western, social point, a source of personal meaning in the Other, and its opposite is an eastern intuition of social meaning in the Person. Put all these elements together, and the Vertex Flip encapsulates the transformation of eternity into permanence, cynicism into idolatry, and country into emptiness, cultural artefacts which, face to face, at once engender and transcend time, place and difference.
“You are welcome to your inheritance, my sons, whether you’ve blown it already or not. I congratulate you both as flashes of brilliance in the bog of emotion. I am proud of you equally, but what either of you deserve was never in the equation. This I must tell your children as their grandfather: you have rights, evolved in the rationale of the ages in all cultures, and one of them, the right to country, is called Emptiness, not Permanence. Death is the empty gateway to that right, idolatry is an ignoble trap, and a right to serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline is an oxymoron. By the time they are grandparents, and your dreams and their memory have withered and died, they will know what it means to love one’s workers with their faults, if sometimes in Gemini a little harshly.”
“The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.” Lewis, C. S.. The Abolition of Man (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) (pp. 58-59). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
“The past is the present’s food, and the present’s digestive system is synchronized, adapted as it has always been.” Abliq.
The phases of the Moon are conventions. The mathematical definitions of the relative positions of Sun and Moon on the Ecliptic are real enough, but what they define is imaginary, illusory, transient, relative and nebulous. When the Moon will be in conjunction with the Sun is important for anticipating eclipses and tides, and convenient for dividing the year, but the event itself as dependent arising occurs in nature as a disappearance, an invisible transition from morning crescent to evening crescent lasting several days. You would be right to call any moment in that transition a New Moon, wouldn’t you?
We all ‘know’ that it is the movement of the Earth, not the Sun, which continuously changes the Sun’s background stars, but once again, the stars behind the Sun’s present ‘location’ are invisible, and only tangible as somewhere between which stars are rising in the dawn and which are setting in the dusk. Nonetheless, thanks to the scales of measurement and frames of reference developed in astronomy for thousands of years, we can be confident that if the astrologers tell us this New Moon is happening in Pisces, it is, and if the astronomers tell us Aquarius, we can be confident of that too, and that the wet season the North once associated with the Water-Carrier asterism has gained on it a month.
Such matters as these present themselves for our contemporary scrutiny because the conventions of cultural interplay and civilized discourse seem to have dissolved into the contested perspectives from which they emerged. Southern Hemisphere Astrology focuses on norms at this time of year because Aquarius down here carries the conventional sign which precedes the Autumn Equinox, Virgo, associated with perspicacity tending towards perfectionism, not necessarily the obsessive compulsions you would not be alone in seeing everywhere at the present time. Aquarius upside-down resembles the post-graduate waiter who skilfully manages two armfuls of dishes while imparting a sniff at the conventional choice of wine a mealtime assemblage of newly independent MPs might have made.
By curious coincidence at the moment of New Moon as defined, a divine promise is being given to the good people of the Bowen Basin, where local and indigenous sovereignty has been under attack ever since it became conventional wisdom that the best way to pass on a better world to your grandchildren is to impoverish them, and the best way to beat the colonialist rap is to cede your sovereignty as a mark of indigenous ignorance. Perhaps the Adani coal-mine will proceed, honouring the wishes of the majority of traditional owners, and perhaps there will be fewer numbers in endangered species in the area for the rest of us to be unconscious of.
The Solar System orbits the Galactic Centre at about 230 kms/sec; the Earth orbits the Sun at about 30 kms/sec; and the Earth’s surface at Australian latitudes rotates at between about 350 and 460 metres/sec. If you add the approximate velocity of our galaxy through the universe of 583.3 kms/sec, that’s a lot of motion to be physically unaware of. It is up to you to decide which elite will be victorious: those who would override your sovereignty in the cause of mitigating climate change, or those who would override your sovereignty in the cause of minimizing the cost of energy. If it were up to me, I would not accept a scientific basis for the supremacy of any value, certainly not a rigid one.
The asterisms and myths of the Zodiac have been influential conventions on at least 500 successive generations, in ways we are as unconscious of as we are of our astronomical motion. These days, the Gregorian calendar and its widespread end-of-year celebrations, the urban lifestyle of the vast majority of the global population, and climate change itself, have largely supplanted the seasonal basis of human behaviour, and general precession will eventually associate every seasonal sign to every constellation, if it has not already done so, especially below the Tropic of Cancer.
Is a coking or thermal coal deposit below the surface or in the underworld?
Should the evaluation of the needs of others be an extrapolation of our needs, an ownership of theirs, or a continuous contestation of both by experts on the nature of ‘Reality’ and ‘The Good’? When it’s a simple matter of projection, why are we always compliant in the wars of the powerful?
The solstices precessed to the Galactic Plane in 1998 CE, and so for as long as recorded history into the future, the Sun’s maximum positive and negative declinations will precede its crossing of the Milky Way, assuming the IAU don’t fiddle. In 2177 CE, the December Equinox will precess into Scorpio in the Breamlea Zodiac. In 2228 CE, the Sun will cross the Galactic Plane on Christmas Day, and cross it New Year’s Day around 2700 CE. In all that time there is one thing that will not noticeably change, as it has not during the millennia of human civilization, and that is the stars in the background of the nodes where the Ecliptic intersects with the Galactic Plane. The Milky Way is as real as the seasons were when mass media began popularizing Sun Signs in the 1930s, as the Underworld Zodiac was when children asked 10 thousand years ago, “Why does the Sun go down?” and as the unconscious was at the dawn of the twentieth century when its geography was desacralized.
I, writing my epitaph, and thou, resonating with it, have this in common: we resist convention, but end up accepting that we belong in a timeless tradition–of accepting the wisdom of our ancestors, unscientific as it might be, as a prescription of who we are–into which we might be seen to have groomed those of our descendants who listened and were grateful for their culture.