Would you rather be a Libra or an Aries? Have you of sidereal Virgo birth decided which season you were born in, or committed yourself, though energetically and impatiently, to a refined, compromising northern tribe? Somewhere in Web-Rot we have previously encountered the astrological migration southward of Indigenous Australians, and suggested that (a) our planet is divided into two astrological hemispheres by the declination of the Sun and whether noon shadows are falling north or south, and (b) that any meaning ascribed to the Vertex, where the Ecliptic intersects the Prime Vertical, must derive from the limits imposed by latitude, namely, the increasing angle of the Vertex with the zenith as distance from the Equator increases.
In other words, epiphany retreats south and north, according to hemisphere, into ever less mystical and more pusillanimous wish-fulfilment, until it exhausts itself in idealization and submission; or alternatively one could say, the limerent finally reaches a quarter-acre block and a triple-fronted brick-veneer. Mountebank, charlatan, you cry! How dare you draw a line between North and South Island of New Zealand, Tasmania and the mainland of Australia, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, the United States and Canada? Please, no offence intended: the atrophy of limerence is a good thing, isn’t it?
Community is the elephant in the room. Can community exist through Destiny’s Gate? Of course not, by its very nature, despite the fact we all yearn for something. Perhaps Bass Strait celebrates the division of two different tribes yearning for dry land. There is an undercurrent of anarchism among the opponents of compulsory vaccination, mandatory restrictions such as mask-wearing, and lockdowns. Two tribes are facing off. Prisoners of society, each resents being told what to do by the other, but fundamental to their antagonism is belief in community. Community is the original top-down concept of a balance of paranoia and relativity.
Conversely, the acquiescence of the majority in the removal of their liberty speaks to the tenuous nature of tribal relationships and the extent to which their neighbours have been replaced as helpers by experts, professionals and institutions. Ironically, people in lockdown are rediscovering their neighbourhood, while confronting the tribal fracture of multicultural community: unanimity abides about the need for the freeways, hospitals, airports and police forces whose ownership they have handed up.
If Christianity and Islam could not meld tribes into a community, what chance does astrology have? The Vertex does determine hemisphere at least, as the noon Sun in the Tropics crosses the zenith to the south, but can you picture how difficult it is to ascertain the direction of zenith shadows? Would the transfiguration of cynicism into the yearning for permanence give the clue? What other compensation could a secessionist acquire for the blistering heat of being here now, especially being unable to breathe?
“Chi K’ang asked Confucius about government, saying, ‘What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?’ Confucius replied, ‘Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and the people will be good. The relation between superiors and inferiors, is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it.’”Analects XII, 19, Kindle Edition, Open Road Integrated Media 2016.
Whether he stands or sits in the men’s toilet is immaterial if he calls himself a man. On the Dasein clock he might be rescuing animals from floods, putting out bushfires or carting hay, but his custom is an instinctively assertive response to community’s self-importance, whether he has time to listen or not. After all, you can’t set up a committee every time you must do something, can you? He can be impatient and harsh, but he has a lot of practical wisdom, perhaps because he has chewed so many grass stalks waiting for it to rain, or to stop raining. One year, it rained and rained, right through Christmas. You cut the hay, then you relax at Christmas, right? Wrong, hay ruined in the field! Talking to one bloke who was adamant that you wouldn’t cut it if it was still growing, you could tell he was in unfamiliar territory two months late in early January, and he had more than one manager sweating on his call. I told him the Moon was full, and he spent the next ten minutes on the phone, because as any peasant will tell you, it never rains at a Full Moon. Of course, in a rare gap in the weather his peasants got the harvest safely into the shed.
My grandfather raised sheep in the West Australian wheatbelt. He used to tell a yarn of the time an itinerant labourer came looking for work. Papa had work for him, so he told him to come back in the morning. Next morning, Papa invited the labourer to have breakfast with him while he described the location of some fencing which needed repair. Papa was only too happy for the man to have a second helping, because the job was too far away to come back for lunch. “Tell you what,” the man said as he finished, “If I have a bit more I can work right through to dark,” “Fair enough,” agreed Papa, and when the labourer had stuffed himself full of food, the two men walked outside. The labourer marched off towards the front gate. “It’s back this way,” called Papa. “Scusa,” the labourer called back. “I never work after my evening meal.”
Even if there was nothing good on the telly, you wouldn’t sit out on the verandah in the twilight like we used to. Mosquitoes big as sheep. So I really couldn’t say what phase the Moon is, and if there might be a climate change. Some big storms, the river silts up at the mouth, and the farm goes underwater. Mosquitoes love it, but I reckon the greenies in the fastness across the creek don’t spend much time on the verandah either. They clamour for nature to be allowed to run its course, and the catchment can be inundated for years. Fortunately there is a popular surf break at the mouth, and when the access road gets too boggy and the Council closes it, a kilometre to carry the board gets too much, and somebody in the dead of night digs a channel. Like I said, peasants have a lot of practical wisdom.
Interesting that the astronomical year starts when it is so dry. Water-carriers and Fishes: something wrong there, you would think. I know Pisces. Uranus was camped there for years. Spoke to a drifter years ago, before the mosquitoes, and she showed me the dim lines of the fish as ridges where Moon and Uranus often sat around a fire and talked of thousands of years ago. All I could see was a jockey standing in the stirrups, but no colours or number to guide me in Cups betting. Pretty useless, I would say, and I told her so.
I ceased a long time ago to be amazed when things get turned upside down. Speaking of the resurgent popularity of socialism among millenials and the recent commemoration of the victory which set in train the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square, I am reminded of the time a steer had a horn growing into his eye, and a couple of friends and I minding the farm while Mum was off somewhere tried to hacksaw it off. We couldn’t bear the bellows of agony, so called a neighbour for advice. He ripped it off with six violent blows with the hacksaw. “Bloody city-slickers,’ he growled.
Come to think of it, in reference to something the Sun said last time we met, let me say that my business is not to unite. It may have a terrestrial function, my motion, and the relativity of perspective may promote inclusivity, but binary concepts are beyond me. I just keep going, whether I orbit the Earth or the Sun, and whether you measure my movement or not. Of course I will suffer and die one day, but the cow’s horn has to come off, and that’s that, whether it be Frisian, Hereford or Angus! Well I hope you have enjoyed this candid shot of the Peasant in Northern Hemisphere Tropical Taurus. I know I have, because you’ve been such respectful listeners, even after such a big breakfast! Scusa!
“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?»
“True singing is a different breath, about nothing. A gust inside the god. A wind.“ Rilke, Sonnets To Orpheus.
You need to listen to this. Do you think of community as a timeless thing, with age-old issues, or a problem of your time to which you personally must address yourself? Are you aware of your underworld, or do you identify it as an antipodes inhabited by others?
Country transcends the visible. Before it can become authentic existence, life in death, empty and real, it must include its ghosts. We all have ghosts, even if we ghost them: real people we have clothed in norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol in our hippocampus, unreal people we have idealized, our own selves as we wish we were or hide in shame, people we have lost or never had. The visible, material world ghosts them; Indigenous country shares them, dances them. Community is not possible without ceremony which keeps them in place, in the living, breathing underworld, our world’s body. Is it better to preen and screech like one’s cockatoo, and gossip like one, or try to wing it from a tree?
Did I forget to mention that the only person who can really tell me Cessnock’s location is its representative? The episteme of the age of democracy, the belief in representation, is dissolving in instinctual dissatisfaction, and the normalizing mechanics of power, institutional propaganda addressing a shared morality which no longer exists, are only reinforcing the experience of powerlessness and a universal sense of loss of sovereignty. Country is under threat from the ghosts of its underworld (read emotions!). Passion overwhelms regularity and cause overshadows effect. Trauma relives its anniversaries.
Community, which has historically been an honourable battle against a common enemy, the forces of nature, seasonal deadlines, ignorance of the law, zombies and psychopaths, poverty, inequality etc., has in many places forgotten honour in action in order to heal, to demand dignity, to ghost its ghosts. Community means safety, and in a society terrorized by the rare disasters which dominate the news, and driving the kids to school so they don’t get abducted, at 40kph 500 metres either side of a pothole repair, it means confidence that nothing horrible is going to happen. The common enemy is now the unknown. Blessed be the ghost who walks, for the warrant on his head.
How can a person be there for you if you don’t know who they are? (Read: Indigenous Australians, do your Underworld homework,)
“Advance Australia Fair” is the epitome of anachronism as the national anthem of a modern state. What is the national character it celebrates? Who even knows the words, let alone how offensive they are? How does it promote the sense of community schools are trying to inculcate in Australian youth? Can any of us truly sing it, as a national community? What virtues do Australians distinctively and unanimously extol, which are not equally valued by every society on earth? What is the true nature of a community in which a hundred distinct cultures may coalesce? Silent respect? Empty breath? Or secret psychosis?
Is community akin to the synthetic co-existence of the agglomeration of cells and processes we call the body, the universal template which differentiates identity in terms of the incidental repercussions of time and place? Does it transcend or inhere in narrative? Can we own our different bodies without honouring universal body-consciousness? Must identity divorce personal perspective from the emptiness of country, defining the delusory as the particular?
Such are the questions which engage a consciousness which revolves in a sequence of emergent ideas, beginning afresh in the waters of Lethe to rediscover and explore in turn the corridors of responsibility, connection, disclosure and community. The geocentric conjunction of the Sun and Moon and position of the Full Moon are mathematical fictions. Can they really transcend differences in chirality and topocentric perspective of North and South and unite a community? I might laugh at any Southern astrology which divorces itself from the practice of observation which birthed it, but I seem to be the only one laughing.
The evolution of intelligence has always involved regulation in a feedback loop of consciousness and voice, law and instinct. In every utterance in the history of human thought you can hear the voice of some element of human yearning, for freedom, tolerance, immortality, victory etc., in a dialogue (we call sensibility) with accepted meanings of prior utterances in the cultural forms of the everyday. Community has never existed in law, but in the resonance of voice in the underworld.
Community will be one of the last redoubts of the unconscious to resist the inexorable march of the robotic mind. It disappears when you try to think it, turns into something else, culture, ideology, society, nationality, kinship, class, race and gender, any of which can be rationalized and is constantly redefined by the robotics of the sociological mind, but none of which comprises community or can exist without it.
We held our annual solar midnight fling in the first week of this month, lined up around the horizon, and detonated our usual tonne of fireworks. Nobody even noticed, although last night the waning Prodigal Moon made audible supplications, and we are bound by thousands of years of tradition to grant him what he wished for: community. After all, this week marks five years of the astrologer’s exile.
Back in the good old days, we used to line up across the zenith from east to west, and what parties those were! We only do that up near the Arctic Circle these days, a kind of wildling banishment it seems.
Alack, poor Orpheus, we knew him well, we who have danced our blood and conjured ghosts. Yes, 2,148 years ago communities were no masters of their underworld either. And still it is our nature to wish the other’s imperious flesh to be made of dream.
Silence cannot be the foundation of community, because silence enables secrecy, secrecy enables corruption, and corruption usurps power, which evolves to manipulate trust and destroy community. Why is there no safe passage through the Sahara? What happened to hospitality? Why are hungry Rohingya babies crying in exile? Why can’t Uighurs, Syrians, Yemeni, Sudanese, Londoners and Bavarians breathe peacefully? Because silence and submission are one, and for millenia have provided a vocation for witch-doctors.
Many undesirable things come from the underworld: wounds, illicit desire and other unsavoury instincts, bad habits, attitude, habits of any kind, evil, anger, fear, and most dangerous obedience to voice, psychosis. Never tell a psychopath they’re a psychopath, it upsets them. But that’s not the real reason. After they’ve killed you, or done to you whatever was done to them, they will do their homework, and correct the mistake by which you recognized them. You’ve made the world a more dangerous place by perfecting its mask.
So what to do? Nobody in the history of civilization has ever figured that out.
Do you have someone in your past who speaks to your anguish in the words of pop songs? Or are you someone’s ghost? Have you hurt a lot of people in the past, and even though you’re more in control of yourself now, do you find people looking sideways at you when you speak from the heart? Do you dig up graves? Do you own shares in BHP?
Do you hate people who couldn’t care less about the Great Barrier Reef, or the feminist implications of hijab, or what eighty-year-olds from other cultures get up to in the privacy of their pre-pubescent nephew’s or niece’s bedroom? Yes, you may be a psychopath, and yet belong to a community. Is community never telling anyone they’re a psychopath? Is being a psychopath any more than having a mind that’s made up? Can a community exclude? A mind can be, ought to be, aware of its thought patterns and the patterns of others as the workings of a machine which situates itself malignantly in it, but a sense of the beauty of life’s dance with the machine of the world blooms out of the change of mind. That sense is the machine personified, the world’s living, finite epitaph. Immortality is an exclamation-mark, the sarcophagus of the made up mind.
Nothing, never too little, ever too much: that is the community we enjoy here, in the underworld. When do you join us? Q was dancing at Caboolture! How satisfying it is, that the impossibility of community is embodied by its authentic existence among your dead and us ghosts-who-walk-upside-down!
In making up your mind on whether to vote for or against the legalization of same-sex marriage, you will discover, if you don’t already know it, that you are either a free-radical in your social organism, and your identity and values are self-defined, or else you are an integrated part of a whole, a conservative who finds purpose in protecting and perpetuating a system you may barely understand. As a radical, you may never cease to wage all-out war on the misguided values of others, or as a conservative, you may forever be perplexed as to whether opponents are ‘lights on the hill’ or enemies, sustenance or poison. Can you love a society which marginalizes minorities? Conversely, can you accept the definition of your loving as merely another category of existence debatable in a pluralist, relativist political economy?
This chart–the Sun enters Breamlea sidereal Virgo 24 minutes before New Moon and 2.6 degrees before the Equinox–was conceived to illustrate my conception of how the signs apply in the tropics, and how the skies of North and South can reveal each other, but it also depicts a fictional context for the consideration of the interaction of love and society, one of the two extreme configurations of the intersection of the Zodiac with the Prime Vertical not witnessed in temperate climes. Only above a line connecting Sunshine Coast Airport and Meekatharra does the Vertex appear in the Ninth Meridian House, the House of Aspiration and the madness of Deprivation. In the fictional world of astrology, what differentiates the experience of people above and below this line?
I want to make this absolutely clear: I am an astrologer; I make things up. I have conjectured a connection between the way the configurations of the Milky Way change as latitude decreases in Australia and the variation of Indigenous languages, but there is noreasonwhatsoever to believe that Jayne and Johndro’s Electric Axis operates differently as a ‘portal to transcendence’ on either side of a line.
We live in different States of a Commonwealth, here in Australia. In geopolitical terms, as distinct from historical time-lines of self-determination, does anything distinguish the Queensland residents of Point Danger from those in New South Wales? Of course not. There is absolutely no reason to believe that a Point Danger resident, obedient to Queensland law, educated in a Queensland school, in the care of the Queensland medical system, and the daily reader of a Queensland newspaper would in any way be distinguishable from a New South Wales resident across the street.
They live in the same ‘community’, after all. But what, it is time to ask ourselves, is a community? Broader than a nuclear family, certainly, yet more localized than a religious affiliation, moiety, or extended family, how does it differ from a society, club or association? Because we do mean something special by ‘community’, don’t we? An association holds together by common interests, a club by adherence to common rules, and a society by respect for a common set of values, but a community transcends different faiths and values, and allows conflicting interests and interpretations of the law.
Can Muslims and Jews count on each other in times of need? The altruism of Emergency Service officers helping flood and bushfire victims is beyond doubt, but is it sufficient proof of community? If you found out that the man who saved your life had sent his little girl overseas for a surgical procedure on her genitals, would that affect his membership of your community? Do you belong to a community in which decisions to vaccinate children and genitally mutilate sons go either way? How does cross-dressing in kindergarten go down in your neighbourhood? Do my arbitrary and heretical definitions and interpretations disqualify me from an astrology community, or is such an entity impossible?
The Prodigal Moon is an exile from community, as we all are. However, he does belong in my cosmology to the association of minds who are troubled in the west, represented above by the oxytocin addicts of Lismore, as he crosses the Prime Vertical in precise horizontal conjunction with a semi-conscious lack of completion in mid-Acheron, the Hades River of Woe. Completion is the social end of the electric gate of transcendence which spans the Fifth and Eleventh Meridian Houses. At the other end is its affect, the disposition which both primes the sense of destiny at the Vertex and presents itself to the Other beyond control: what else but Fantasy! Community does not endorse idolatry, fantasy, delusion, convention, narcissism or cynicism, because the Other, whatever healing and restorative power fate links us to, has affect too. Yes, community knows mercy, and it knows doom. Its love is a pearl in the pigsty.
The Electric Axis is a revelation of ghosts in our closet, and of the interpretation by others of our disposition, on a sliding scale of identity with their ghosts. Its relevance to my consideration of the endorsement of same-sex marriage is my conviction that a sense of community is actually the ghost in the machine. What unites people in a community is their sense of it: it is a bottom-up entity. Love is a bottom-up entity, too. May lovers of any gender or ideology desiring to consecrate their relationship continue to be embraced in the bosom of an enhanced community oblivious to opinion and definition.
And so the month defined by the Moon proceeds into the season defined by Astronomy and the calendar month defined by Christianity. It is not midday but noon in the heart of the country when this snapshot by a prodigal tourist is taken. Have we missed our chance to form a community of Indigenous Australia and its invaders, or can recognition of the authenticity of a degree of Indigenous autonomy enable us all to transcend our society’s definition by the Constitution? We have yet to preserve heterosexuality, and where religious freedom fits with civil obedience may evolve mutual hostility that will go on forever! Will Cynicism usher us into Eternity?
After a month of communing with our alienness and uprootedness, the month of clear-sightedness finds us acknowledging that connection and inclusion have an unfortunate implication: community excludes those who don’t abide by its conventions. This is not our intention, so it is time for some tidying up. What are our conventions, and how can we attend and respond to the reactions of outsiders to make a more inclusive community universally satisfying? It is time to look our culture in the face.
If only it were that simple. In fact, those we exclude have their own communities, and different conventions we don’t much care for, because they declare judgment of ours. Even if we were to jettison convention completely, the whole of our political correctness, for example, we would still be excluded by theirs. Looking our culture in the face feels like an enemy’s perspective. Ever loved someone so much, your difficult child perhaps, that you had to seriously question your own supreme values? You must have noticed, if you ever raise your eyes from your self-help books, that barbarians are claiming victimization by your victim status. Nobody said that perfectionism would be this hard!
Perhaps it is best to accept that our generosity and love have boundaries, and some misunderstanding and conflict are inevitable. Perhaps we can find and cherish our true selves and cope with an imperfect world the way we always have, in our sleep. The conjunction of Sun and Moon in Aquarius occurs in the middle of the night in eastern Australia, in the adaptive unconscious of the Underworld of the Northern Hemisphere meridian in Eastern South America. Perhaps the present will remember itself differently tomorrow.
What our somnolent beings are dealing with in their visceral reordering are two truths. In our waking lives we may be able to convince ourselves of an objective reality, and if we have a university education or religious affiliation, that reality might be universal and absolute, but in our heart of hearts, I think we know, recognizing the transience, relativity and ambiguity of all we experience, that we don’t know reality, beneath its conventions, at all. Perhaps our bodies and sleeping minds know as much as we need to know. Their function is simply to order memory at all levels in the simplest and most accessible way for painless and successful existence. We are not objects in this process, unless we so conceptualize ourselves, in order perhaps to assert egoic importance or control. Rocks are as good at it as we are.
There is a better way, of course. It is a convention of ours to regard the Agrarian Revolution as the wellspring of human civilization, but I would make the case for a different development, a discovery which predated leisure, specialization, science and technology by tens of thousands of years, which surpassed kinship as the foundation of community, and which indigenous peoples offer as their timeless wisdom to this day. I speak of ceremony.
Ceremony, like sleep, is a reordering of awareness, a housekeeping of anxiety and conflict, but it connects our consciousness to our deepest, most personal memory while we are awake. You can do it getting married or placing a sprig of rosemary on a casket. You can do it brewing tea, waxing your legs, or saying grace at the family meal. Conceivably, you can do it marching en masse in a protest. There is a wonderful video of ceremonial cricket here.
Astrology itself has ceremonial roots: it began not with mathematics, or observation of the dance of wandering stars, but with communal life at the hub of the wheeling sky at night. The rational perspective of the solar system we now embrace has turned our primordial experience of being at the centre into an historical convention, but I am at pains to restore it to supremacy, for years by focussing on the relationship of the night sky to the seasons, and now, like Australian Aboriginal ceremonial life, by locating us in the configuration of the Milky Way.
I have been initiating you into a ceremony for some time. Before you can share its transformative, centred power you must abandon many of the conventions, not only of astrology, but of your everyday consciousness. That reality is a linguistic and conceptual convention of posited essences, and that it is ultimately empty, since nothing we enunciate or conceive of has any independent existence in time or space, occurs to any enquiring mind, but immediate awareness of the emptiness of self-improvement and of emptiness itself seems a little more difficult to acquire.
What is the Milky Way? Is it just one of millions of large structures without essence which evolved from the uneven density of the early universe? Can its appearance mean anything to the prevailing convention of science that we observers are specks of dust in the cosmic microwave background? Can we empty ourselves of the laws of science, prevailing in sociology, economics and psychology, which have displaced us from the centre and dissolved us in a soup of empty knowledge mediated by better-qualified people elsewhere?
Of course we can, and meditations on the universe or anything else don’t have to be therapeutic or remedial. They’re allowed to be real, empty of emptiness, which is how I differentiate a ceremony from a ritual or habit. I have been gaming astrology for years, making it up as I go along, but always by inventing what I know, and now I think I’m ready to conduct a ceremony. I have tried to formulate what I actually experience by substituting equatorial coordinates for ecliptic ones, transposing the signs and the lunar nodes, using a reversed anti-clockwise house system, pondering the antipodean ramifications of the meridian, imagining the celestial location of the rivers of Hades, and teasing the equivalence of the unconscious and the Underworld. Now for the clockwork of the Milky Way.
All you have to do in this ceremony is stand in an open space, in day or night, face north and lift your arms towards east and west. Your personal identity is on your right, and your language and social dialogue is on the left. In front of and behind you are the sense you make of those, to the north the internalized rules and conventions which guide your individuality, and to the south your soul, the collective memory which informs your instinct, your attitude and your emotion. What holds everything together is where you stand.
If your night sky offers the faintest glimmer of nebulosity in the Milky Way, this moment, four minutes earlier each day, currently at 12:52:24 sidereal time, is available from an hour and a half before sunrise in early February until an hour and a half after sunset in late June. Bring out your anxieties and conflicts, your responsibilities and confusion, your intentions and your blame, and with your arms spread like a prophet’s, help the sky do its work on you. Just look to the north for the law, to the east along your right arm for your skin, to the west along your left arm for your language, above your head for your country, and craning your neck backwards, behind you, at the confluence of the rivers of Woe and Forgetting, for the Styx of your Covenant: “It Was Only Pain”.
Honestly, you don’t look empty, or as though you’re trying to pretend you have presence. You’re quite alone!
Ostensibly, the conjunction of Sun and Moon in sidereal Virgo signals a debate about community, since we are venturing out into a busy springtime period of competing agendas.
In contemporary usage, ‘community’ means a group of people who share an identity, and Southern Hemisphere Astrology would agree with this usage. However, I seem to stand alone as regards the meaning of ‘identity’. Identity is not a characteristic. It cannot be defined, decided or owned, since it is not fixed, but always becoming in a feedback loop engaging waking consciousness with deeper subconscious levels of awareness and meaning.
My generation, at least to some extent raised among religious precepts, link ‘identity’, and logically ‘community’, with aspiration and dream, not with character or personal history. They simply do not understand how anyone can actually believe in communities formed from definable static identities, as compared with their participation in communities articulating a shared vision or commitment.
Young secular progressives on the other hand seem unable to understand “We are all one” to mean anything inclusive outside their group. I submit that two perplexities are at the root of this divide. One, a loss of historical perspective, a dissolution of time and causality into the now; and two, a hyper-inflation of waking consciousness and personal space at the expense of a subconscious reality of dreaming, ancestral voices, and vocation.
An identity framed and maintained as a real entity by waking consciousness is like Sisyphus doomed never to get what he is pushing to the top of the hill. What this identity is pushing is community. The force of gravity is lent by opposing groups with profoundly other instantaneous perceptions. Ultimately, identity politics will discover that unity in shared grievance has only one imperative, warfare between grievances to create ever more grievance, and implies only one community, a community of one.
First Crescent 2nd October, 19:54 Parkville [1 Muharram]
Identity used to subsume difference, because change, alternative means to an end and ambiguity of relation were assumed. Difference was an accident, and community a coincidence. Somewhere along the line, secular societies, without even realizing they had thrown a precious baby out with the bath water of religious participation, began to really believe in universal human rights as though they existed separately from universal human obligations, and before you could say, “Hey, Presto!” there was a world full of victims equating identity and pain-body, focussed on the identity of both those to blame and of any heretic with the balls to say,”I’m not hurting that bad”; and suddenly, the biggest crime was to inhibit someone’s healing.
This world is just fiction, ladies and gentlemen–Hollywood, Bollywood, love, fear and everything in between–and the most important element of it is making it real. Performance, and performance there must be, is real to its audience, the silent ones beyond the footlights who know it’s a role you’re playing for their sake, and who love you for it. Sit in the audience. Recognize fellow-players when you see them. That is community: you cannot sit twice in the same one.
Nobody owns his space, ladies and gentlemen, and no amount of proselytism and appropriation-resistance will alter the fact that personal reality is fiction. Sharing is messy, and judgment and exploitation are perhaps built into it, and degrees of success in marketing, that is to say, comparative numbers in ashrams, churches and mosques, or in social forums on the net, but that’s the nature of self: it’s designed to be expressed, not hoarded but shared. You cannot wake twice into the same identity.
When it all boils down, community may be nothing but the kindness of the audience, suspended disbelief. How can you be what you’re becoming? Perhaps kindness is the way society dreams. What the so-called ultra-right represents may be no more than slighted generosity, and we should hear the underpinnings of their utterances in that way, because we need their kindness.
The North is a story, the location of mythology, the inching across the night sky of the primordial artefact known as the Zodiac. The South on the other hand, defying narrative, simply revolves. Reverse directions if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, but my astrological focus is on Southern Hemisphere experience, because nobody else’s is.
It is by no means paradoxical that the most important attribute of the North is that it is opposite the South. Astrology is a system of symbols of human existence, and the upper (northern) Meridian, or Medium Coeli, where the stars, and approximately, the Sun, Moon and planets, culminate in their daily arcs, is given pride of place as the symbol of the conscious self. However, there is in each of us an awareness of the limitations of that waking, egoistic consciousness, which works in our body-consciousness as under-arching and over-riding necessities like eating and sleeping, and, I would argue, in our dream-consciousness as moral, spiritual or metaphysical questions, such as, “Am I responsible for what I’ve just done?” All of that deeper dimension of consciousness, and therefore any possibility of individuation, wholeness, or oneness, is symbolized by the Meridian, the direct, continuous connection of above and below, North and South.