Everything is connected to everything else: the body is a self-regulating community of minute organisms with the same constitution and provenance in all vertebrates; ideas move around in language like the breeze, coming from somewhere, touching, lingering, and going somewhere else; unconsciousness and conscience weave a dance like featherweight boxers for the entertainment of wealth; the dead are always with us. Every action is a reaction, reverberating in eternity. The sky is connected to the ground, and the stars are connected to the sky. Once upon a time, when disconnection was more horrible than death, our ancestors believed in ghosts.
Within the next two days, two recreational yachts will be found adrift, one in the middle of the Tasman Sea, and the other halfway between the Azores and Portugal. No connection will be drawn, and why would it be? Who could possibly be daft enough to imagine that these two solitary sailors, now disappeared without trace, had been either doomed lovers in a past life, or were spirit partners in each other’s underworld, two shaman ghosts longing for the other’s domain, if not resolution, release and eternal rest? On the other hand, it seems too coincidental for two separate mariners to disappear at precisely opposite locations on the globe, almost as though they were placed by design.
If you are passing through Guildford on the Midland Highway in Victoria, latitude 37.1 degrees south, pull over about 70 metres north of the Loddon, wait until midnight (at this time of year), when the Teapot is in the west, and see if there are any ghosts hanging about. Along the 37th parallel of north latitude the time to look out for restless spirits, and perhaps be one yourself, is when Taurus and Gemini straddle the west, and the ancestors along the Lethe are visible between late November and mid-April. The influence on relationships of the Electric Axis of Jayne and Johndro, the so-called Destiny’s Gate, would be for most people yet another empty astrological superstition, but in a world in which everything is connected it might be wise to hedge our bets, and also reserve judgment on the possibility of lingering Stone Age conceptions of the Milky Way and the cardinal directions. What? You don’t have any?
Consciousness can definitely get lonely in the underworld. What does memory know about dream? What do objectivity and subjectivity have in common? Is the hieros gamos love’s doom? Are love and doom the hieros gamos?
Is it possible that ancient shamans knew how to stand on their heads to embrace the good witch, as you, facing south with east on your left, would need to do to end up with your beloved’s east on your right? All cardinals are transposed in the underworld, therefore the Sun rises at sunset in the west, and sets at dawn in the east, somewhat as one might see what destiny had for breakfast. What does gravity do to the hang of a shaman’s dress?
The Full Earth is in Capricorn, the progenitor of bleating rock-climbers, and the pretender to the inflated profile it projects with Aquila and Aquarius. Mark the focus on the Olympic Games featured in your local media. To this Earth, connection is no more numinous than the measured relativity of difference. Two mariners disappear? Hundreds of thousands die of Covid-19! There is an antidote to preoccupation with ghosts and the afterlife: the measurable finality of death!
After all these centuries of proliferating the lineaments of the human spirit, the tendency survives of connecting the organism as a thing to an environment of things. There is no such thing as the Arctic or Antarctic Circle (+/- 90-obliquity): everything in the sky, everything the sky is above, and everything standing on what the sky is above, right way up or upside down, are instantly ever-changing. The proper term for what connects all those things is ’emptiness’. An instant is over in an instant. A life is over in a life. The dead are ever with us. Destiny’s gate remains open.
The cusp of Leo: connection and disclosure, relativity and faith, altruism and irony. Regulus Gate: the heart of the lion and the anus of the possum, gratuitous, almost alien, postmark of a trivialized celebration of separate togetherness. Or perhaps it presents a simple gesture of togetherness comprising a ceremonious underworld revelation to sarcasm that its defences are less than fun? It is certainly pure coincidence, isn’t it, like all the star names and attributes I have invented, and for that matter, the entire corpus of astrology, though it prefer the term synchronicity?
I am reminded of an event in the life of a friend of mine, an ageing and obscure writer who somehow managed to be invited to address a seminar on something or other in a faraway place. To cut a long story short, he got hopelessly and helplessly lost: people kept telling him to turn around and go back the other way, pointing to roads and railway stations he either couldn’t find, or always took him the wrong way.
He became separated from his luggage, which not only contained the text of his talk, but the names and phone numbers of the connections he desperately needed to contact with an explanation of his non-appearance. While he was confronting the senile reality of his circumstances he came to find himself adjacent to a woman on the phone on the same railway platform.
He overheard her conversation about a writer who inexplicably had failed to appear at a seminar, and realised that this was his chance. Then he heard her describing the weird eyes, not exactly dead, but decayed in the most disturbing way, of a man sitting not far away from her.
The rest is history, but my friend never found his luggage and never made it to the seminar. With the help of many people, he eventually made it home, but he was plagued, and still is, by the impossibility of describing to any of the purposeful bystanders who guided him, or to anyone since, the awesome impact of the coincidence which improbably answered his need on that railway platform in the middle of nowhere.
We all know the powerful influence of a dream we never succeed in interpreting or communicating, but what does that tell us of the waking dreams and troubled realities of refugees, the homeless, the intellectually disabled, the gender-dysphoric, the mentally ill and the demented … not to mention those trying to make coherent their end-of-life reminiscences?
Heroism in the face of catastrophe is our ideal, the ultimate ethical expression of community, but a response to the call of the other, the inner voice of the Water-Carrier, seems to necessitate the vacating of selfhood that does not derive from the outside, from a faith in belonging on the outside, with no other way of being real than connection with others. But what happens when the interest of the community is believed to be served by doing nothing except distancing from others, and staying home?
We get lonely, and automatically the therapeutic industry offers social solutions like video chats, but once upon a time the theological industry would have recommended prayer. The social construction of reality is an accepted fact, but this latest coronavirus is reminding us what it is to be isolated and attempting vigour at the same time. We are rediscovering our secrets: yes, the guilty and shameful ones, but also the fundamental one, our power to be. The welfare of others may be our guiding light in our decisions, but there is a dimension to life in which ethics takes second place to ontology: decisions, on the face of it responses to horizontal stimuli, arise from the underworld.
Each one of us is absolutely other, and though the country in which we find ourselves as such, by its responsiveness to our dreadful finitude, does present as physical and historical shareability and enjoin us to participate in the communal and the ethical, our presentiment of its vanishing upon our death removes it beyond what we can share into the realm of otherness, mystery and secrecy, and our presence along with it.
Did those of our ancestors who escaped the religious and political upheaval of 19th Century Europe to subjugate the indigenous peoples of the South go out or come in? Were they present in an alien landscape the more they inhabited their loss, or absent from the tremendous world of the natives the more they anxiously impressed themselves upon it? Did they resile from every furbishment of comforts they were banished from, or simply resort to drink or meditation to ‘get out of it’? How did they stay apart?
Facts and figures lead us away from the underworld, promising an eternity of sorts, and evidence of self-mastery. They remind us that we are very small in the scheme of things. But it’s the little things that keep us together, inside and out, such as not being able to interpret one’s own or another’s dream, coincidentally perhaps at Regulus Gate, though chosen to try.
What do you suppose the chances are that today is the nineteenth anniversary of my friend’s encounter on that railway platform?
“Hence, the world-machine will have its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere, so to speak; for God, who is everywhere and nowhere, is its circumference and center.” Nicholas of Cusa, De Docta Ignorantia, II, 12, Trans. J. Hopkins.
“For the geometer all movement is relative: which signifies only, in our view, that none of our mathematical symbols can express the fact that it is the moving body which is in motion rather than the axes or the points to which it is referred.” Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer, Dover Philosophical Classics, 2004, p.255.
“Our self-consciousness does not take place in a merely closed-up, windowless self. It consists in the fact that the self, by transcending itself, faces and expresses the world. When we are self-conscious, we are already self-transcending.” Nishida Kitaro, Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview, trans. David A. Dilworth, University of Hawaii Press, 1993 edition, p52-53.
With the Sun now beyond the Lethe behind him, and the Acheron curling like smoke above the Earth’s shoulder, the Moon begins another lap in Cancer, which nobody—neither the Divine Geometer of the Northern Temperate seasons nor the IAU geometers of contorting 19th Century Constellation boundaries—will deny, for they’re a jolly good fellow, and so say all of us!
‘Everything is connected to everything else’ is a truism ubiquitous at every level in our highly specialized and compartmentalized, not to say fractured, societies, and might well be an unconscious saboteur of its nemesis, social distancing. How is it influencing many to modify their behaviour for the sake of others, and seducing some to refuse to do so? It is clear that some people forget themselves, and others forget everyone else.
The post-COVID duration may overcome cynicism towards the life-expectancy of the aged, and panic concerning the career prospects of the young, settling into a new normal, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that a new normality will resemble the world I was born into, saturated by post-war earnestness, and a dreadful commitment to the finite and personal, so indifferently wounded by the historical, by ideologies and moralities which had so recently thrown their young and innocent recklessly and traumatically at each other.
It may be that Gaia has been groping for this coronavirus for a long time, as long as upheaval has been sucking tectonic plates together. Perhaps we have now had our turn and been outplayed. It may be that the rule changes which kept legends playing into old age stupefied the crowds into disaffection, and somebody playing Apocalypse did something accidentally on purpose. Perhaps the therapy-mongers who made fallow the fields of narcissism were right: we should have worked through skin hunger long ago.
Something must be remembered into being for the first time, intuiting the imperatives which the world awaits from us, who are its creation, not inferring them into the Jacobin templates of demolished order. The roads everyone must use never mend.
Yes, the Stone Circle of Wurdi Youang may well mark the setting Sun from solstice to solstice, and I can sympathize with the satisfaction of the layers of the stones, but it seems a comfortable confirmation of what we already knew, that the Sun’s arc is shorter in winter than in summer, as though they were saying, people migrated out of the Tropics, problem solved. What problem?
The problem of the cardinal directions: I know where I am, right here, but how do I describe it? How do I relate it to you, my hunting team, when you can’t see me? In our almost instinctive knowledge that the Sun rises on our left and sets on our right, or vice versa, we short-circuit an astronomical heritage more ancient and fundamental than Wurdi Youang witnesses. To say, “the kangaroo is on your sunset side,” or “the crocodile is to my south,” we have to all know what the shadows mean, which way the stars are revolving, where the Sun rose, where noon is, in front or behind.
Relationships can be like this. If the Other knows exactly where they’re going, to the extent they know where you’re coming from, and you’re actually from a different hemisphere, just get out. Simple. If you have history and want to plough it into a brand new present, and they say, why? There you have the epitome of short-circuit. Your emptiness just got invaded by the Other’s presence, or rather their self-composed fullness. If reality is not there for you to invent, merely discover, you’re still in school, at least according to the teacher. Is it so stupid to only trust those who don’t know what they’re doing? Don’t answer that.
It is quite normal to trust the ones who know what they are doing, who are in a story with interconnected chapters, beginnings, middles and an end, way off in the distance. It is quite normal to find oneself integrated into a web of connections between things and events as they are in themselves, and to spend many years of childhood and adolescence discriminating among possible meanings to keep things real. It is quite normal to take unconscious advantage of those whose reality has fallen apart, rather than to confront the insecurity of the social construction of one’s things. It is quite normal to discover it is the self as creator who is responsible for unlovability, and to have recourse to psychological reassembly.
And although it may not be normal, who cannot forgive the one who learns how to protect the heart by making love permanent, by idolizing objects as expressions of perfect love, for denying the enduring hormonal reality of romance, rejecting in the very last chapter of one’s individualist narrative needy romance’s cauldron of transformation, life’s offer of transpiration to the skeletal things one must keep connected, the trees of one’s wood?
It is self-evident that the Earth is a thing which does not move, for example in a rotation on its axis, or at varying speeds around the Sun. One cannot see the Earth rolling towards the sunrise, but one can see the Sun as a thing rising above the flat Earth. Once in a generation perhaps, one human imagination has played with the idea of the Earth rolling and the Sun staying still. Try it. It is almost impossible. Leave everything you know out of the equation, the kettle, the toaster, the fridge, the smartphone, the TV, the radio, and imagine your world flying through space faster than anything you’ve ever seen, without a hair out of place. That one is a more recently recorded experience, early in the twentieth century, of the emptiness of things.
Imagine yourself without an imagination. Dream that you’ve never had a dream. Believe it or not, there really are men who have never imagined being a woman, and women who have never imagined being a man! Not to mention men and women, the very definition of Bogan, who have never imagined themselves to be men or women! So you see that this is how everything is connected, how Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere can be a lion, and in the Southern Hemisphere a water-carrier, not by the reversal of absurdly fixed seasons, but by not assuming anything, by playing with appearances, by imagining the impossible. A crab really might empathize with the kids playing in the wet sand above its castle: a King Crab, the Lion in Winter.
Yes, you who learnt yourself as real from your parents and teachers, and what fell into place with the television, the economy and social canon allowing only a few kosher [sic] alternatives, must heal. The fabric of reality is damaged because yours is wrong, in the sense that every object is wrong, until you create it yourself in relation, shorthand for, say, “Careful, a crocodile is in the westernmost waterhole!” Perhaps with Sun and Moon conjoined in Cancer, you will be in Tropical Aquarius, and perhaps you will be in Leo. All that parents and teachers are really saying is, this is where I am. That’s all I’m saying too, and all that I’m hearing, now that you’ve discovered you’re not normal, is where you are too.
Anyone who has lived through the internet’s transformation of reality will have noticed a proliferation of certainty. Every debate is loud with it, and wisdom, dismayed, must consider unassailable facts on both sides. Whereas investigation was previously predicated on ‘I don’t know’, it has apparently degenerated into a search for facts which support ‘I know’. This is quite amazing to somebody educated in facts, with the purpose of disclosing the extent of ignorance, who has seen the transformation of critical theory into the syllabus of primary schools, with the purpose of exposing the ambiguity of knowledge.
The notorious family conflicts which arise when children reach puberty disclose the ideological opposition of ‘I know’ to ‘I don’t know’, and two stages of personal development, the investigation of experience as existence and the investigation of existence as experience. Such conflict can take generations to resolve. In an Australian multicultural context, these two stages manifest themselves in the perennial dynamic of integration. Immigrants are dismayed by their perception of a demand for acculturation, and antagonists to plural monoculturalism can find difficulty in locating their pragmatism in recovery from the grief of their own displaced ancestors.
What differentiates quality journalism from populism is the avoidance of bias confirmation. Both base investigation on the Five W’s, who, where, when, what, and why, but whereas quality journalism demonstrates the ambiguity of the answers, populism confirms their simplicity. Once upon a time, my own investigation of current affairs was led by The Guardian and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and it has taken time to accept, to grieve, that quality journalism can no longer be confidently sought there.
In similar terms, quality astrology differentiates itself from the populist variety in its focus on ambiguity and recognition of confirmation bias. It presents a tool for asking the Five W’s, but it assumes readers to be seeking more questions, not answers, and to be intensifying existence, not pacifying it. The answer to the question, ‘Who am I?’, is indeterminate, and that is exciting. If you must know who you are, it is my sad duty to inform you that you are nobody.
Where and when you were born cannot be identified, because the where has disappeared, like your parent culture and the climate and geographic coordinates of your birth location, into nowhere, and the when cannot be retrieved except in the historical antecedents of various different arbitrary measures of time based on their obviously impossible separation. The increments of one against another may be small– the measure of sky movement, sidereal time, increases against solar time by 33 seconds every 8 years–but no-when will they ever coincide again. Specifics are out of the question, my dear Watson.
Where is this place?
Cessnock is a real entity, proclaimed with defined boundaries in 1906, and is indexed on thousands of databases and maps. It welcomes the traveller with a real sign in the real ground beside the highway, and every property-owner knows they are in it because they pay council rates. That information may answer the questions who and what, but my question was, ‘where is it?’ Someone in Cessnock, perhaps you can tell me? Down the road from Newcastle, yes, but where is Newcastle, down the road from Cessnock? If I approached from the west, the bush of the Pokolbin Forest, following a road, or else Cessnock would repel me beyond an array of back fences, sooner or later a sign would tell me the road’s name, and someone would tell me I was in Cessnock, someone who wouldn’t understand that they weren’t answering my question, “Where am I?” If I were really lucky, a child might give me the right answer, “Here, in country!”
Here is another correct answer: Cessnock is, not a thou’ out, directly and exactly above its underworld! (A pubescent child always knows when an adult is using semantics to reach a common understanding, which explains the ubiquity of the expression, ‘Sarcasm is the wit of fools’.) Seriously, you have to ask yourself, couldn’t we have done away with 100 years of research into the unconscious if we had simply listened to the people who could find it on a map, right here?
The Miserere, Psalm 51, is the cry of the penitent who is left here, when the rivers of Hades, and their grazing thunder lizards, have disappeared beyond the boundary of the underworld, and penitents are not sure which shore they inhabit. Who are we? The ordinary souls sent to the Asphodel Meadows of our underworld’s underworld? Can Here be There, as the Proclamation has it? What do the aquifers of country disclose when your lover is on the line and your voice is in their head?
This is the moment the ancestors ring the edge of the world, above and below, in neither. Steep Point is the western tip of a continent, from which the then living ancestors watched Dirk Hartog sail past in 1616 CE, with no idea that country was about to be proclaimed out of existence, parcelled up as abutments. To be fair to those seafarers and the settlers who eventually followed them, they had no idea of the Universal Proclamation of Humanity gestating in the abutted minds of landowning philosophers, astrologists and activists. Like any migrant, they were simply creating right of way through abutting, overseas kinships they had no relationship to.
Now we come to the weird bit. Who are ‘they’? Who are we as they?
Osorezan is an active volcano in northern Honshu believed by many to be the threshold of the underworld. Half the world (and almost everyone in these parts) has always believed that ill fortune is not an outcome of karma, what goes around comes around, but the result of sorcery, the conjuring of injured, vengeful spirits from the underworld. I have not found reference to which way up they endure, or if their seasons, directions and chirality mirror the hemisphere of the living, but when they climb out of the fissures of the Earth their evil is authentically alien to ours. Shamans and sorcerers know how to channel them, and so, apparently, do the revilers of Captain Cook, and those still fighting the lost War Against the Proclamation of Country.
So you have no self which is not some other nobody’s nobody, no country which is not some other underworld, and no history which has not been repudiated by you, its child. How WOW is that? But you will be who you want to be, until we have built Jerusalem, and the holy temple of your devotion will be the body, of the visible world, indeterminate, ineffable, enfolding you tenderly in your confirmation bias until you have exhausted fact, country has thrown open its five aggregates of mind and the fleeting moment has disclosed its unbearable beauty. Country, world disclosure, is your will to be, your sap, your yeast, your music, and you are always welcome!
Meditation develops mind, and permanently elevated levels of perception, problem solving and consciousness. Can we stop teaching children the building-blocks of reality, language, citizenship and morality if we teach them to meditate? Is this the way to create a world of loving-kindness in which building-blocks are known to be empty causes of confusion and division? By example, monks claim to enlighten the world by perfecting themselves and teaching that suffering arises from clinging to a fixed self in an objective reality imprisoned in time. Do they?
We are well aware of the danger of undervaluing a healthy ego. We don’t want students to succumb to melancholy, depression and suicide, and we don’t want them harming others on rampages of resentment and vengeance either. We want them to be centred, confident and successful, and only drawn to the ladder of spiritual practice with a natural desire for enlightenment. Is there anything worse than organized ignorance? Ask the Rohingya. Ask the Arakanese.
Meditation is natural. Not only mystics do it, but birds do it, crustaceans do it, and perhaps even the trees do it. Can you imagine any living thing not desiring to prolong bliss or the glimmer of self-consciousness? Is it not ultimately an instinct for transcendence that will overturn this bucket of crabs you find yourself in?
Way back at the dawn of civilization the ancestors imagined into being an aid to the task of clambering out of the bucket. Answers to the question, ‘How do I fit into the scheme of things?’ come from within the nascent consciousness formed by meditation, but how to get in there to control the answers, how to be sure we are not just sacrifices to time in an eternal crab-race?
“Angels (they say) don’t know whether it is the living they are moving among, or the dead. The eternal torrent whirls all ages along in it, through both realms forever, and their voices are drowned out in its thunderous roar.” (Rilke, The First Elegy, trans. Stephen Mitchell, The Duino Elegies & The Sonnets to Orpheus, Vintage International, 2009.)
Clamouring with the antediluvian authority of journalists on social media, the white cockatoos rearrange themselves on the tree of life. You never see them, unless you are evolved indeed! Their raucous flight takes place, and is impossible not to hear, in the underworld houses beneath the ground, where they endlessly challenge the Monk’s mind with ancestral bypass. Like the numerals on the back of football jerseys, and the nations of the Earth, their bodies are interchangeable.
Full Moon beneath Managua, Nicaragua
Antares, 11 million years old, is 550 light-years away, a supergiant 12 times the Sun’s mass, 680 times its diameter and nearly 100,000 times its luminosity. Its nightfall transit heralds the arrival of true Spring’s generic obligations in the South. It is one of the cardinal Royal Stars.
Uriel represents an ancient argument about the basis of stability, triangle or square. They are variously the angel of repentance, the pitiless, the south wind, patron of the arts and of confirmation, angel of the face and the earth, one of the four angels of the presence, ruler of Tartarus. They are in awe of what is occulted by Earth.
Full Moon beneath Corner Brook, Canada
Canopus is a bright giant 310 light-years distant, 8 times the Sun’s mass, 71 times its diameter, and 10,700 times its luminosity. Its right ascension places it in Breamlea Zodiac Gemini, and those in the North above latitude 35° who can never see it can reason its upper transit beneath the southern horizon on a line projected from Mirzam and Tejat, and its opposite lower transit below Kaus Australis.
Sandalphon’s head reaches to heaven, and like music, is firmly rooted in, yet soars beyond, the body of the world. As the immortalized Elijah, they are the protector of the unborn, and their almost human cry resonates with the pangs of your faltering attainment.
Full Moon beneath Maceio, Brazil
Altair, 1.2 billion years old, is one of the closest stars visible to the naked eye, about 16.7 light-years. It has about 1.8 times the Sun’s mass and 11 times its luminosity. It spins so fast, once every 8.9 hours (compared to the Sun’s 25 days), that it is 20% flattened at the poles, and observably brighter at the poles than the equator. It is prominent in August and September nights.
Akathriel, an angel of the presence, and possibly God themself, is the angel to some of Kether (meaning ‘crown’), the topmost of the sefirot of the Tree of Life, and no wonder here in the Tropics, but in temperate latitudes they find themself outscreeched up there. Anything for a quiet life, says the circling Yesod eagle. They have 8,760 eyes, one for every hour of the year.
Full Moon beneath Bologna, Italy
Fomalhaut is about 449 million years old, 25 light-years away. Nearly double the size of the Sun, it is 16 times more luminous. Its visible transit more or less overhead in Chile, Argentina, Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific begins in June and disappears in November, heralding Summer. It is one of the four Royal Stars, the watcher of the south (at the Winter Solstice of 2,600 BCE–in 1,150 years it will be at the Northern Vernal Equinox).
Gabriel is God’s messenger, the plucker of new souls from the Tree of Life, the guardian angel of Israel and the bearer of revelation to prophets, such as Muhammad. Gabriel administers severity in the North, and may accordingly assist in death. In the South they squawk to the other side of the tree. They announce high summer, and affirm the victory of instinct.
Full Moon beneath Tehran, Iran
Achernar, 139 light-years away and 37 million years old, is the first magnitude star on its own opposite the Southern Cross on the South Celestial Pole clock. It spins so fast, rotating every two days, that its equator is 56% greater than its polar diameter. It blinks on at upper transit at the latitude of Melbourne, Florida, and is visibly circumpolar below Melbourne, Australia. Seven times the size of the Sun and 3,150 times more luminous, it lurks below the southern horizon at Tehran.
Belial is the archangel of cleansing and hostility to hell, but that is because they are reformed. Historically the angel of darkness and destruction, one of the fallen ones, they may have fathered Lucifer and been the avatar of Satan, but liar that they are, they seek to overcome their worthlessness by promoting self-sufficiency and personal accomplishment. They would have you address them as Independence, or Headwater, but their tight wheel brings a waterboarded Cassiopeia to mind.
Full Moon beneath Shwebo, Myanmar
Aldebaran is an orange giant 44 times the diameter of the Sun and 425 times its luminosity, though only 1.7 times its mass. Aldebaran is 6.6 billion years old, nearly half the age of the universe, and around 65 light-years away. It is the eye of the Bull and the baleful follower of the Seven Sisters.
Michael is the highest in rank of the angels, leader of the armies of God against evil, the Prince of Israel and the archangel of mercy (it was they who substituted a ram for Isaac). They are in charge of the soul of justice, and roost in the west side of the tree, on your right facing south, or remember, on your left if you go behind the tree.
Full Moon Sun beneath Suva, Fiji
Regulus, a star-system of two pairs of dwarves, is about a billion years old and 79 light-years distant. The main star rotates every 16 hours, has over 3 times the Sun’s mass and 360 times its luminosity. Its name, meaning ‘little king’, identifies it with the basilisk of mediaeval bestiaries. It is one of the Royal Stars marking the cardinal quarters, and is notable for its regular occultations by the Moon, and its encounter every 8 years with Venus.
Raphael is the healing archangel, bestowing submission to the severity of the wound with a healthy sarcasm, directed towards the tropical duality of meditative connection and theology’s engrossment in perfectionism, often misinterpreted by those unfamiliar with the spirits of the underworld, being focussed only on cognitive diagnosis.
What do stars and angels, higher consciousness and music, social media and stigma, gender and mental illness all have in common? They are in the body! Ah, Monk, you smooth talker! You have me in two minds.
You are certainly higher than I on the ladder leaning to heaven’s restoration of innate human divinity, and if Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics, the permanent improvements you have made to your consciousness, and pharmaceutical or psychedelic alternatives to our disembodied spirituality can all be combined, the pilgrim’s progress may prove to the benefit of all, but if gamma waves prove barely to rustle the leaves of the tree of life, suspended as it is above a lower realm of struggle and strife, and the most heightened consciousness cannot elude its underworld, might we not be wise to use meditation on the body which is the world the mind is embedded in, to connect us to history, and to forgive us our past and theirs rather than engineer a future unlike it?
Turn off the lights so that children can see the stars. Encourage the inexperienced to be alone, carry a tune, remember change, and blaspheme against the prophets’ words with their non-binary, non-perfectionist bowels. Let children discover the underworld of country in sidereal time and project the houses of the Vertex onto their social firmament before we teach them its emptiness and the existence or otherwise of angels.
“But if the present is only a time because it is passing away, how can we say that it exists, since the reason for its existing as time is that it will soon not be, which means we can only say it exists because it is on its way to non-existence?” Augustine, Confessions, Book Eleven, III, 17 (Penguin Classics).
Guess what? Speech has just three basic components: waffle, prattle and wank.
Waffle is making something out of nothing. Prattle is making nothing out of everything. Wank is making everything out of something. Depending on which voice you heed, the evening appearance of the Warrior sky might mean something, everything or nothing. It might portend the end of an Indigenous initiation season; it might illustrate a fundamental observation of the nature of time, that any configuration of the sky first appears before dawn, finally appears after sunset, then disappears into the afternoon; or it might serve as an example of dependent arising, one delusory form among the many snares of human suffering. We say we ‘pay something no mind’ when we simply fail to register it among more pressing concerns, when it doesn’t enter our ‘space’.
Did ancient Australians measure time by the motion of the Sun? When they erected their stone circle on the rise overlooking the river now known as Little River, and invested the West with the significance attested to by the three enigmatic boulders facing the extinct volcanoes of the Anakies in that direction, did they dance to the left, like the inner clockwork of Big Ben? Even primary school children know the loss of country suffered by Indigenous people under colonization, but who appreciates the cultural upheaval of learning to tell the time clockwise?
Like any map, the stereographic whole-horizon projection can be difficult to orientate. You need only keep in mind that the Earth rotates to the east–that is the very definition of East–then you will instantly see that the stars appear to revolve clockwise around the South Celestial Pole, and anti-clockwise around the North Celestial Pole, unless it’s not the sky’s face we’re looking at, but its body. Look up, and you see the face; look down, at a map of your sky, or through the ground at your Underworld, and you see the body. Furthermore, your face is at the bottom of the chart, and everything over the Prime Meridian is projected upside-down. Tilt your face back far enough from the daytime direction of the Sun and imagine what is going on behind you as the experience of a night sky on the other side. Don’t get it? Perhaps your gamma wave needs some work?
Or try this exercise revealing everything connected to everything else: raise your arms in opposite directions, rotate them in tight circles the same way, and notice that one hand is in clockwise motion and the other anti-clockwise, and that an observer beyond either arm would see the opposite motion to what you think it’s describing. Think about that the next time you query the meaning of retrograde motion, adopt identity or hear your habitual inner voice: perhaps, for example, something is being made out of a prattler’s nothing. And I assure you, on the face of it, any resonance in the influences of exactly opposite stars, the so-called stargates, must be pure wank, since I projected them seven years before the Breamlea Zodiac.
Voices and their words, the concepts they communicate and the behaviours they influence are all embodied in culture, in turn embedded in history, and like the clockwork of Big Ben and the psychology of colonization (and gender for that matter), are coming at you from the opposite side of your face, out in the ageing body of the world into which you were born and cast your narrative. No matter how successful you are in wresting back the clock-face of your heartbeat and breath, the body of time has fossilized your life-span. When you try to share your life, you cannot free it from a narrative the Other creates.
Of course my conjectures are just more waffle, commemorating like a plaque a shared ‘space’ in time, for old and young, ‘right’ and ‘left’, male and female, native and exotic. The fact is, I would waffle you out of your wounds, contrived by the spatialization of time, of displacement and historical injustice, into this time-space I also call ‘Country’, an empty space made of now, pulsating with codependent, reified, numinous historical forms such as the body, the clock, real estate, difference, evil, the mere male and the warrior, the whore and the mother, the psyche, and even consciousness itself.
Behold the reconciliation of separate perspectives, of geographical hemispheres, of consciousness and sleep. The markings on the clocks indicate different ways of going, but the signs are in the same temporal houses. Thus does space wed time, body wed mind, self wed other. “Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve” (John Archibald Wheeler).
The essence of human existence, which it shares with all animate and so-called inanimate entities, and which Buddhism knows as dependent arising, materialism knows as history, and we all know as culture, is within time, not space. Life is within death. Body is within change. Mind is within experience. Connection is within habit. Death is not a place. Its essence is permanence. Culture is not a structure. Its essence is freedom. Identity is not a thing. Its essence is relationship. The world is not a thing. Its essence is clockwork.
We are beguiled by the prospect of making the world a better place, but we are pinned like dead butterflies to a map, and the market of cultural interchange is located in a cul-de-sac. We embarked long ago on a project of what Fromm called ‘rootedness’ to make all of the categories of existence we could imagine into spaces within themselves. The psyche, once a transcendent identification of life and self, air and breath, became merely a compartment of being along with the body. Community became an assembly of individuals, heredity an arrangement of DNA. The world became a jigsaw-puzzle and death became part of eternal life. Consciousness forgot how to be unconscious. The horizon formed a space, seasons and phases were fixed on calendars, language banished the nameless, heaven was subsumed by distance and light extinguished the night.
This all happened in a period of not more than twenty thousand years. The next twenty thousand years is a mystery which defies compartmentalization, and yet we are already within it. Voyager 1, which was launched half a life-span ago, accompanied by two time capsules, will take twice as long as the spatialization of being to reach the vicinity of the nearest star in its path, but nonetheless is already nearly five times further from us than the outermost planet of our system. It is already beyond our within of light-minutes from Sol, the nearest star. Soon it will be beyond the within of light-hours, but even after forty thousand years, it will still be connected to any descendants still here, and to us now, though we be long dead, by the momentum originating here, in our neighbourhood of heaven.
The spatialization of the alienated self continues apace. “Keep ‘it’ buried in the not-me, and ‘I’ am what remains, blameless, shameless,” is prattle. No, comforting Jeremiah, putting definitions and boundaries in the right context, requires us to embrace time as the essence of self. Every ‘thing’ is indeed not connected to everything else, because ‘everything’ is an error, a closure, a linguistic confusion of ‘is’ and ‘is not’. The land and the inhabitant, the artefact and the commodity, the violater and the victim, each breathe history into the other, but the mantra, ‘always was and always will be’, is an absurdity. Country is not ‘timeless’. It obliges fearless familiarity with change. Whereas separation is emergent in space, connection is emergent in time: the meaning of a foreign language, the lifespan of a cemetery, the scar made out of flesh, the village’s love for the newborn, the faith in whom we have chosen which makes us the right choice, the barely perceptible dying breath of a machine in the silence between stars, and the knowledge of a warrior staring up at someone’s Underworld.
Think of time as waffle, prattle and wank. It is embedded like a signature on the treble clef of speech. The Moon and the stars chant its music, have you noticed, not on the horoscope page, but at the hour you sometimes remember to look out?
Last year, the Drone took its meaning from the hive. This year it is born above the Gaza Strip, whose living conditions have gone way past intolerable, and thanks to a band of morons who thought it was a good idea to kill two Israeli police officers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, well on the way to becoming even worse, therefore the meaning of ‘drone’ seems more appropriately to accord with its usage in music, most notably in the threnody, and derived from etymological roots in ‘hum’, ‘drum’ and ‘dream’.
The Palestinian problem is insoluble because the pathways available towards rational compromise are humming with two different threnodies. The instincts of Israelis and Palestinians are incompatible, and the Zionists of the forties can only be forgiven as survivors of a conflagration of instincts they believed had been extinguished by reason. I situate my thought in a three-thousand year tradition of mutual fertilization of instinct and reason which trusts neither, but on both sides of the conflict in Palestine, the nexus is paralyzed in history and the fabric of the universe.
It is well known that the seasons of astrology are out of phase with the constellations which invested them with celestial meaning. This is not a problem for the Southern imagination, because if you turn things upside down, most of the Signs make perfect sense, but it’s a huge issue in the North, because our Crab’s tendency to bury altruism in the sand is one thing, but no way can she be imagined as the King of Beasts.
When the second wave of Out-of-Africans passed through ‘Palestine’ on their way to ‘Europe’ twelve thousand years ago, Cancer was rising heliacally in the last month of winter and the King of Beasts announced the arrival of Spring. If instinct had not been moderated by reason during the Ages which followed, as Spring moved backwards through Cancer (Civilization), Gemini (Trade), Taurus (Agriculture) and Aries (Conflict) to Pisces (Spirituality), Northerners might still be dressed for winter in July like Southerners, and worshipping Moon-Goddesses as crustacean embodiments of the tides.
It might have gone better for Palestinians had they been invaded by astrologers moulding the instinct to the seasons and the clockwork movement of the Milky Way, and Buddhist ones at that, dissolving instinct and reason into houses of madness and emptiness, but they got stuck with invaders who believe in submission to the will of God, just like themselves. Why do we need organized religion, nationalism or socialism to bind us in common aspiration and obedience, to bring altruism out from the instinct where it belongs, and codify it and enforce it rationally? Because your altruism is my vanity. Altruism hardens into idealism, and your idealism is always in danger of causing you to undermine my idea of the good!
The remarkable thing is that we have evolved some control over our instincts, but to the extent that we allow them to rule us, our relationships, our polities and our lives tend to fall apart, no matter how zealously we pursue the greater good, as we see it. Yet we challenge reason all the time with our ingrained blacks and whites, our impatience, blame and resentment. If we are not victims of this -Ism, we will be victims of the next. If we are not victims of the other, the other is ours. How unfair it is that our success or failure depends on the ignorance we try to dispel. How dare you offer me help to overcome my self-defeating mechanisms, when your mindset is what’s wrong with the world?
The whole thing is such a mess that it is not only human community which amazes with its perpetual delusional resurrection, but the resilience of personality itself. How can we be connected to all those disasters in the past and still hang together? What is the mechanism for staying wrong? How do you define sin? A two-state solution? I doubt it.
The First Crescent will probably not appear on Australia’s eastern seaboard on Monday, but it will be visible at Coober Pedy, if the locals would like to emerge from their subterranean homes.
Weather permitting, it will be visible from Melbourne on Tuesday. All over the world, what a sight it will be!
The cultures of some immigrants to Australia are nearly as old as the Indigenous one. The other day I got talking about the Moon with an old man in Arab dress on the tram. We old men have less and less to hide from each other. He told me that civilization emerged from the recognition that the Moon was the Great Mother. My stop was coming, so I just listened, but I wondered, when did ‘civilization’ discover the Anima in men? Woman (or Rabbi and Imam) casting magic spells on man, man accommodating his ideal to every poison: can we please just say goodbye to what we never had? ‘You’ are not ‘it’. She, and country, are the ‘I’ ‘It’ is learning to be!
Incidentally (or not), Khandha is my name for the star known by astronomers as Gamma Velorum, and it means ‘connection’ to me because it is a multiple star system, very bright, which includes one of the nearest supernova candidates to the Sun, and which stimulates thoughts of the five aggregates of attachment to suffering: form, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness.
The Sun entered the IAC constellation of Pisces at 17:49 AEDT today, but from the top, not the side, and so it is already approaching the centre-line of the Circlet of Pisces in right ascension (and passing the gamma star in ecliptic longitude). I would say that the Sun is there, below the notorious hilltop clearing where romantic love is both regularly revisited, and ruefully healed with self-help analysis of limerence. However, the Sun will not enter the Breamlea constellation of Pisces for five days, and it technically won’t change signs until the equinox. The ambiguity of its position is confirmed by our continuing summer heat. What is the Moon—in the last sign of winter—reflecting, the last sign of summer or the first sign of autumn? It would seem to matter to how its light shines into our beleaguered hearts at this time of year. Seasonal variability is a huge challenge to the conventions of astrology.
Tonight, Capricornian Gemini straddles the meridian at nightfall and Sirius, the marker star of South-Eastern Australian early winter is crossing to the west. The Leo Moon precedes the Easter Moon, plagued by self-doubt and yearning. This Moon resonates with our belief, not only that we are all connected in suffering, but that we are most authentic in healing. How can this be preposterous, in this enfeebled age, when we accept any cross which justifies self-medication, and virtue-signals are the default frequency of social media? How better to cling to a formal, archaic personality than to define our deficiencies as indelible wounds?
Wounds are real, but as Raphael tried to say as the Moon occulted or grazed him (Regulus) on the other side of the world on Friday night, “Get over yourself.” Even if the past can never die, the present must remain the site of optimism, and appreciation of one’s life for what it is. Only truth, elusive, transactional, never ultimate, continuously transformative, can heal our wounds. Compassion for each other’s healing wound is our Grail, but in resentment, anger, aggression and violence, in confrontation with ignorance and self-hatred, up against the wall of enablement and codependency, can we do that? And if we can’t, what does ‘healing’ mean, if not ignorant perfectionism?
Connection—the (Piscean) southern sign of Leo—is a nebulous concept at the social level. Yes, we are all citizens and we have many similar experiences but only in a theoretical sense can we be described as sharing the same values and the same social capital. It doesn’t firm our bonds to cross bridges, nor build bridges to affirm our bonds. Moreover, at an ontological level, connection consists of overcoming timeless mistakes about the nature of reality, and discovering the emptiness of our differences. Only in a theoretical way can those differences be connected by causality. The form of one’s wounding is empty, but the emptiness of one’s wound has form, as does the effect of what we self-medicate with. In short, connection is not black and white, opposite perspicacity, perfectionism, refinement and compromise as it ambiguously is. Let’s face it, we never look at the Moon as a society.
Perhaps redemption only comes with wounding, and recognizing our wound in they who wounded us. Perhaps it has to do with country. Country ends at the horizon, but the horizon is empty: one pace forward, one hour in time, and it is different. But it is not empty: beyond it is someone else’s. In fact, the conventional ‘true self’ can be thought of as a place over that other’s horizon, if the horizon is regarded as constantly changing—moving towards the sky, rotating, shrinking, expanding, darkening, emerging, including, excluding. In this train of thought, the realization dawns that country is precisely where we are standing, under our zenith. Everything within our horizon is ordered and held together by our meanings, including our orientation within it. In a ceremony of selfhood, I stand below an empty universe above an empty me. This is empty sovereignty over compassion and forgiveness. Somewhere in the 200k-odd square kilometres between the 139th and 140th meridian east, at some time in the middle of the night, another grandfather is looking at the Moon in the direction which represents the law, consoling himself that, beneath the scars of initiation, offence and loss, when all is said and done, he has always been a woman.
Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick.
So she called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick.
The doctor came with his bag and his hat
And he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
He looked at the dolly and he shook his head
And he said “Miss Polly, put her straight to bed!”
He wrote on a paper for some pills, pills, pills
“I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill, bill.”
R.I.P. Bill Leak, the eternal spirit of Kirsty MacColl on an empty bench in Soho Square, and all the others who hung their heads out far enough from Desolation Row. Healing, the blessed waters of the Lethe which bathe trauma away, arises from ceremony, which arises from country. It is getting better and better. The healer, and the one healing, the parents, the daughter, the doctor, and the doll, are ‘I’.
The vainglorious Full Moons of winter, soaring in the summer constellations of Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn, have passed. Spring is here, the season of begetting: of coupling, certainly, but ever and always for the rejuvenation of the hive.
If you think that the mantra, ‘Everything is connected to everything else,’ paves your road through a universe of things; if your boogeymen are racism, capitalism, climate change or, God forbid, immigration, apostasy, homosexuality , delinquency or addiction, and you can’t accept that you are their strongest henchman; and if knowing everything you don’t need to know more, and the relativity of astrology is no more than a penny dropping into your slot: then at least you may recognize the Cartesian, cogito ergo sum, as one of the smallest steps ever taken by mankind. The connection mantra is as small.
If you have never experienced the growth inside your body of another transforming your flesh and blood, and the bifurcation of your soul into two; if you have never experienced yourself as a process of nature, and your organism as so dissolved in exchange and becoming that any separate identity is inconceivable; if you have never stood under the stars in awful dread of the tiny span of humanity’s integration of stardust yet been overwhelmed by gratitude and worship: this one’s for you.
The Drone honours the periphery, where importance is conditional, value contingent, and identity redundant.
“So have I got it right? I can help end suffering by overcoming my neediness? If I ferret around among the causes of my irresponsibility and guilt I can find my root pain to heal with compassion for my inner child? Then I will be able to love even psychopathological extremists, give unlimited asylum, cause no offence, and live harmoniously in a utopia of universal human rights without reacting with despising and blame to those egoistically clinging to opinions and identities which produce pain and suffering? …Okay, I can do that.”
Thus, he departed from the Sun, and now, once more, the Moon is Full in the Atacama Desert.
“The addict seems to have rejected the values of the ordinary person, which the Buddhist has also rejected, such as the permanent nature of reality and the idea that pleasure should be cosy, quiet and decent. The Buddhist aspires to entirely destroy desire and aversion as the root causes of all suffering, and sees both in turn as products of our deluded apprehension of the world as solid and real. The addict has also experienced the emptiness, but has failed to realise that the cause of suffering is aversion and desire – in which they continue to indulge. Thus, the addict appears to sit mid-way between the ordinary person and the Buddhist, and is moving in some ways ‘along the way towards’ Buddhism – chiefly in apprehending the emptiness and in realising that desire and hatred have some problems and price-tags attached. I would therefore conclude that the addict’s is a form of spiritual path – a development away from the ordinary life position – and that involves experiences, which can be more fully understood from a deeper study of Buddhism. These relate to cause and effect, the nature of mind, desire and aversion and finally impermanence and emptiness.” Peter Morrell.
“Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo”: ‘If I cannot bend the will of Heaven, I shall move Hell.’
Aeneid, Book VII, Line 312, Virgil.
The last addiction is love. Not an addiction, you cry? Hard-wired by natural selection into the human essence? The spark of divinity linking humanity to its creator? Perhaps you are inclined to attach yourself to drones. Every prophet, every saint, every healer that ever existed was a drone. What is the spirit but an addiction to emptiness? What is the word of God but addiction to language, the echo of apes barking? What is the Noble Path but addiction to mind, a midday siesta under a shady tree?
And what is a drone? A peripheral member of a community whose single purpose is one day to make an utterance which of all the utterances of all the drones of a generation may prove to be the utterance which perpetuates the hive, long after everyone in the generation of a previous utterance is dead. And the hive is not dedicated to love, just the feeding of the young, the Great Mother, and the drones. What remains when all desire is defeated may well be revered by those suffering in the yoke of life, but really, what remains is only death. This is not transcendent revelation.
In fact, all drone utterances and all cultural memes preserve a drop of desire in their ethic, all the more precious for being the very last one. Can you love without desire? Of course not. This elementary truth is masked by confusion around the nature of desire. It is not asked if you can love your children without the urge to fornicate with them, but if you can love them without distinction from others and without hope for their future. If you can do this, congratulations for attaining enlightenment, and now take your place among the drones. Perhaps your utterance will be the one which will perpetuate the hive, be its will, as it were: “Your children are no more deserving of your love than anyone else, including the most degraded sexual predator on pre-pubescent children; and the future is not your concern.” Perhaps this utterance will be the one.
The lot of the Great Mother is to lead into nowhere, of the Worker to persevere, and of the Drone to weigh emptiness and purpose. Everything is connected.