I have dreamed thee too long, Never seen thee or touched thee. But known thee with all of my heart. Half a prayer, half a song, Thou hast always been with me, Though we have been always apart.
From “Dulcinea”, Man Of La Mancha, Wasserman, Leigh & Darion.
If there is one injunction we don’t need in the maw of pestilence, it is, ‘Get serious’, for the meaning of life is no longer a buffoon’s number but a lack, a very disconcerting lack, lingering amongst the precious things we always took for granted and may never have again, like a tender embrace, an infant’s confided insight, the soaring spirit of an orchestra, and a blush on the cheeks of numbness.
Yes, every nineteen years of our lifetime, 1925, 1944, 1963, 1982, 2001, and right now, the New Moon has joined with the Sun at June Solstice to cross the Lethe, where exhausted extremism loses itself and we can rebuild country—the village that un-cancels, rescues and raises the child—as sanctuary, in Schiller’s immortal words from the Ode To Joy:
“Freude, schöner Götterfunken Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!”
The attributes of the stars, the configurations of your unconscious inheritance, the paleolithic sky, and the evolution of the idea of ‘space’ beyond representations of zodiac and underworld, are the sidings and stations your journey has passed through in your dreams, in the middle of the night, where sanctuary is eternally denied the enclosed heart:
“Whoever has succeeded in the great attempt, To be a friend’s friend, Whoever has won a lovely woman, Add his to the jubilation! Yes, and also whoever has just one soul To call his own in this world! And he who never managed it should slink Weeping from this union!” Schiller.
When you notice from your window the rows of plantings which radiate in all directions in perfectly straight lines, I know you don’t know how it was done, but do you wonder if there is a station around here you might get a ticket back to one day? So many stations on the Mindfulness Line! Perhaps it is senseless to conjecture attributes for the stars. Perhaps journeys are hallucinations, or absent-mindedly drumming fingers on a pin-striped knee, resonating on a commute like the reverse motion of a picket fence.
Onward, across the Lethe! You may not see eye to eye with Heidegger, but I think we can all agree that responsibility is a pretty basic step forward to remembering oneself. As they say, there’s no time like the present. Is there, Aldonza?
“We are expected to grow up to be empathic, caring, respectful, or honest when these qualities are not demonstrated in how we are treated, nor are we given room to find from within who we are. It’s entirely unsurprising to me that most of us carry so much shame given how much and how often children are shamed by others.” Miki Kashtan.
”Words never fail. We hear them, we read them; they enter into the mind and become part of us for as long as we shall live. Who speaks reason to his fellow men bestows it upon them. Who mouths inanity disorders thought for all who listen. There must be some minimum allowable dose of inanity beyond which the mind cannot remain reasonable. Irrationality, like buried chemical waste, sooner or later must seep into all the tissues of thought.” Richard Mitchell.
“Je suis moi-même la matière de mon livre.” Montaigne, Essais, I.
You probably cannot understand what it means to receive inspiration from the Sun in Gemini unless you have crossed the Acheron into the Underworld, trudged through vanity and perfectionism, braved the ghosts of love haunting the Circlet of Pisces, evaded treachery in the badlands of Aries and the herd of brides offered on eBay by lowing Aldebaran, and waded past the ablutions of seductive Saiph, one glance towards whom could have you up before the Sexism and Racism Commissariat. It’s hell, Hell, and it’s somewhat of a comfort to forget you’re there, and why you’re there. Karma is a factitious disorder beyond belief: like Baron Munchausen you have pulled yourself from the mire of Tropical Astrology by your own hair. Welcome to social eternity, where community withdraws from the defeats of history, and celebrates the visible mercy of silence.
And welcome to good company. In living memory, and for any living person’s foreseeable future, Lethe season and June Solstice coincide, within a day or two, even if their precedence reversed in 1998. In the Southern Hemisphere the June Solstice is the Sun’s surrender, the New Sun, and so this first Moon tries to temper its relative brilliance with an appropriate show of delicacy, if not self-effacement. Prorsum et semper honeste, quoth the Southern Hemisphere to its Underworld, its Other.
You will think I’m terrible, and I know that Western Civilization is underpinned by the perennial struggle for freedom, but I believe that the majority of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom didn’t have much of an idea what it was. I suggested as much to my Father after I’d read Bullock, and he as much as told me to shut my mouth lest I defile the memory of the fallen with a repeat of my suggestion that pre-war American, British and Australian boys, and indeed he, seem to have been raised with something similar to Hitler Youth values.
Out of responsibility, freedom; out of freedom, forgetting; out of forgetting, responsibility. That is what baby-boomers learned by associating the meaning of their parents’ language and behaviour. Their grandchildren have also been born into a Great Forgetting, of the caring responsiveness we know as responsibility, to fly like a bird through the rights and obligations woven into the fledgling nest by a thousand socialist institutions.
Does God know in advance every wing beat of every bird? No ego, no matter how inflated, could rationally make such a claim. After all, every bird is itself responsible for the joy of its unique capacity, like dreaming humans, to swim through the air. We share the species-memory of birds, and no omniscience was ever created by human ego which could predict a dream, as no form of government was ever born of human competition which could create responsibility.
As society can survive civil war, so love can survive limerence, and humanity’s adaptation to climate change will continue, but freedom can only flourish in the renewal of community which clings to the forgotten woe of individuality like the Jordan to the baptized. Irresponsibility? Forget it, as the adult bird said to its fledgling: “You were hatched to fly, girl, so fly!” And what is that planet with her toes in the Lethe? The Sun does not go anywhere without her retinue, and that includes us, and all our divine beings.
“Anxiety is the first experience of our freedom, as a freedom from things and other people. It is a freedom to begin to become myself. Anxiety is perhaps the philosophical mood par excellence, it is the experience of detachment from things and from others where I can begin to think freely for myself. Yet, as Heidegger was very well aware, anxiety is also a mood that is powerfully analysed in the Christian tradition, from Augustine to Kierkegaard, where it describes the self’s effort to turn itself, to undergo a kind of conversion. Heidegger’s difference with Christianity is that the self’s conversion is not undergone with reference to God, but only in relation to death….” Simon Critchley.
Astrology’s conversion is undergone by gender and the mind/body duality with reference to the Antipodes, (complete with continents of obscuring cloud), where planets are in opposite signs and houses, but the houses carry the same signs.
Bordertown in South Australia is in fact some 17 km from the Victorian border as the crow flies, but it is perfectly named as a location demonstrating another border, between the adaptive attitudes and habits of consciousness and the reactive, instinctive moods of the body’s interpretation of its existence in the world, which together form identity, the emptiness of Country. At the stroke of New Moon, the Signs and angles of Bordertown’s Underworld are in perfect harmony with the hours across the border in the Northern Hemisphere, and Death speaks with its customary ambivalence.
It is in response to the awareness of finitude that we show ourselves who we are. There are many ways our body can seduce us into evasion of this awareness, by consoling us with belonging to something timeless, eternal salvation in religious and secular ways. Are we making the world a better place? Are we following the rules which screen entry to Heaven? Does anything really matter? Is not pleasure an end in itself? These are some of the voices which call us to forget the anxiety of the anticipation of annihilation. These are some of the roadmaps we overlay on country to separate ourselves from it, and to make it traversable.
Bordertown tells us, on the other hand, that whether we are emerging from the waters of Lethe into an interlude of imaginative indolence or determined withdrawal, instinct is locating the necessity to identify gratitude as the harmonious well of our calling. This world is not a thing, it is me! I made it; I am made of it. It is not a departure point to another one. The future is no different from the past: both have no existence other than right here, in me, in the only world there is, mine, lived with you.
Ah, relationship. “We are lovers, that is a fact” (Bowie). In a social reality dominated by discrimination, judgement and projection, relationship is in theory a connectedness which overcomes meaninglessness and loneliness, but in practice it reveals more than we want to know, engaging identity in constant trench-warfare against misunderstanding. Just who is the person your lovers and friends are in relationship with? Is your Shadow your shit or theirs, and whose, if theirs?
Somewhere out of mind in the South Pacific, the invisible Underworld sky of the spiritual home of the Abrahamic religions affirms what most martyrs still breathing acquire, the spiritual materialism of immortality; but with a decided lean by nightfall, the idea of a covenant, like the heritage churches of rural Australia, which are struggling to stay standing, let alone provide financial compensation to victims of historical clerical sexual abuse, has passed its use-by date this year as a source of meaning, if we ever had the imagination to make it one in these secular postmodern times.
At dawn up at home, however, it is the vain queen Cassiopeia who is faded from the sky, her chair lodged in the branches of the elm at the entrance to Hades, like the morning-after evidence of a rowdy party. The Jerusalem Signs, identically mirrored in its autonomous underworld body, bode ill for the likelihood of a resolution of sectarian conflict coming from mutual understanding and respect. What really happened seems as elusive as what is really happening, in this cloakroom of multiple tickets for the same baggage.
Yes, it is relationship which tears our world apart. The British vote for their right to autonomy, but baulk at complete separation. The Americans bring the World Order crashing down around our ears, but our protests contain no inkling of faith in the World Order’s capability to develop solutions to the unemployment of children and grandchildren ejected from automated workplaces and failed states. The reallocation of Australian aid to Palestine through the United Nations provokes a reaction revealing political Islam’s belief in spitting on people. The endorsement of same-sex marriage in Australia precipitates debate about religious freedom, to which the Social Services Minister adds the insight, “We have not realised Martin Luther King’s dream of a society where you are judged by the content of your character, not the colour of your skin. Instead we have woken up to a nightmare where the value of your contribution to a debate depends on what you claim to be a victim of.”
But peppering the news on all these fronts of our alarm come daily reports of irresponsible masculinity: murder, rape, assault and adolescent aggression and criminality. Before we have agreed on the evolutionary value of anger and aggression, it might well be geneticists who solve the problem by doing away with masculinity altogether, but in the meantime, what is it we are initiating our men into, global or local, community or game, grievance or responsibility? Undoubtedly, we need to equip ourselves with an authentic grasp of our own emotions, as the custodians of the world body into which our children insert their consciousness, and if we have no idea how the heroism of the Tham Luang cave was formed, perhaps an historical cultural practice of the Australian First Nations can nudge us in the right direction.
The Warrior Sky is the name I have given to the configuration of the Milky Way when it arcs in a straight line over our heads from southwest to northeast with its awesome centre, in the last degree of Breamlea Zodiac Scorpio (currently at tropical longitude 27Sgr6), near the zenith (Melbourne BZ longitude 23Sco11, tropical 20Sgr38). In this article, in Australian Archaeology, No. 77, Fuller, Hamacher and Norris (2013) present evidence of Aboriginal initiation sites being aligned with this configuration, as a result of its vertical presentation of the Emu. The opposite configuration which I have called the Wanderer Sky, extinguished by sunlight at this time of year, features the upright Emu rising vertically in the southeast, but its body is too close to the horizon in Australia to be seen. Is there a hidden message to non-Aboriginal initiates about gender and responsibility in the upside-down appearance of the Emu emblem in the southwest?
Perhaps, hidden in our bodily awareness, the physical impact of the world we interpret through the cultural lens imposed by generations of ancestors through our parents, there is an emptiness of meaning our sons can use to disarm anger, hostility and aggression. Perhaps the upside-downness of the Emu means nothing.
Vertical Emu, Wurdi Youang, 3150 BCE
Boys, can you find the temporal emptiness of your bodily imperatives, your aggressive reactions to disappointment and disability, your intimidatory expression of frustration and anger, your malignant resentment of your displacement from the pedestal of worship? The essence of responsibility is to own the shit of others. Look to the Underworld, the Other Side. You will soon have a lot of time to do so.
Local Sidereal Time 17:19:22
Girls of the Northern Hemisphere, observe your animus downunder, and girls everywhere, in the bodies of boys, own your own shit.
Responsibility is nothing other than how we heed our calling. Commonly confused with duty, it is rather only indirectly an element of the ethics of our response to others. At the deepest level of being, it is where we integrate self and the product of behaviour, the world as we perceive it. From our beginning, we obey in every action a call, to obey or disobey, to gratify or deny, to emulate or invent, to laugh or cry, to love or fear. Where this call comes from has been debated for millennia. Is it the voice of God? The Earth? Our species? Our ancestors? Whatever it is, we can all agree that it commends effort. It does care less for disinterest and boredom. It may evolve towards activism or submission, but the last thing it means is that life doesn’t matter, that it makes no difference what you do, for you’ll soon be dead.
But we will soon be dead, and notwithstanding the nobility of ‘responsibility’, there is more than a touch of absurdity in it, and when we judge it in others, madness too. Am I not mad to devote myself to reconfiguring a mediaeval world-view? Is it not madness to dedicate one’s life to preparation for the next life, or to perfect oneself in the knowledge that there won’t be one? Is it not madness to shake one’s head at the obsessions of others which have turned the world into a madhouse, believing that only one’s own responsibility is sane?
The Bardo is just like a huge department store: in every direction rows and rows of identical white display cabinets all the way to the hexagonal walls which announce its realm if only you could see that far; and on your way to a wall every cabinet reveals in its compartments, identical compartments, an infinite range of character inhabited by personality and opportunity changing as you pause and behold the particular combinations of compensation and destiny you can recognize as the madness of everyone you have ever known, as well as your own, even though you still haven’t been able to identify the department. Everything seems, like an expanding universe, to radiate from wherever you are.
In many ways, the midwinter Moon is the Big One, the cyclic root of discrimination and prejudice. The entire history of the human race has enacted our reaction to winter: will it kill us, what will we eat, what is it for, whose fault is it, what have we done wrong, will it end, when will it end, how will we prepare for its return, how can caring be so cruel? Actually, midwinter crosses the sky every day. Rug up your feelings, and contemplate the panorama of country on this occasion eclipsed by cold sunlight.
Saturday’s iconoclastic child works hard for a living while her shift-working idolizing sibling sleeps, because she lives a life of anguish. Benoit‘s third type, her being is strong in both animal and abstract nature. The twins complete each other in a self tending to overcome the not-self, but each, the brighter one deferent—deferential in the Ptolemaic sense—and the other subservient, reduces the other’s individuality to a not-self. What is unconscious is terrible in its imperative.
Yet the twins stand on the banks of the Lethe, and the self’s struggle to overcome fear of annihilation is blessed thereby in the imagination. Not in the law is human survival to be sourced, but in the instinctive assertion and satisfaction of responsibility. Reason determines it, but responsibility in the gut is what drives human resilience in community through the signs of winter and spring. God help you if you get in the way of human resilience!
The problem is, responsibility, that primeval driving force of humanity in the face of death and meaninglessness, constellates the self in opposing directions, as we know. Fracture is built into community, as separation is built into love. The autonomous principles of rationality and instinct are not united in Malkhut, but in Yesod, which has no existence other than as a rung on a transcendent ladder. Radicalization is a probability as immanence is a probability. The physical world was always a fetish for humanity, always a commodification, always a consumption.
Esmeralda, the transgender judge of the high court, is an activist in the rehabilitation of the suppressed gender which underlies all miscreance. Igor, the Eastern European-Aboriginal saint of the public bar, is hell-bent on refusing to accept less than he deserves. Uki, the fool of the Tarot deck, lives in a magical world of continuous transformation of human flesh and spirit engendered by what the latest cultural implant is selling at the corner store. Meanwhile, country is a usurpation of indigenous culture, and ‘centering‘ prayer is sold by Amazon. Is there a way towards a cultivated space in which voices all speak the same language? Can the world we leave our grandchildren transcend madness, thanks to our effort?
How to be responsible by not speaking out and causing offence. How to enjoy a Sagittarian cup of tea with the twins. How to submit to a culture of mental illness, consuming the culture of others and teaching only consumption to your children. How to project mental illness as the condition for rejection without defining it, and therefore without judging it. How to be in good mental health by excluding others not of your caste who might reveal your shadow. How to do something for youth by teaching the culture of an outcast. How to live and teach a complete life without reading a book of ideas or listening selectively to music, or learning to fish and hunt and cook. How to invent a life in the spirit. How to be responsibly irresponsible.
Incidentally, the opposite of responsibility, the irresponsible, is boredom. There is no other place to find your vocation than right where you’re standing, in the centre of the landscape, though you might never get to read the sign on the wall.
Usually every three years, when Full Moon phases with the range of dates the Sun enters a Breamlea Constellation, there are two Full Moons in the same Constellation. Three years ago, spectacularly, it was the Aquarius Crone in August-September. This year it is the Capricorn Addict, this Moon and next. How to differentiate them, and how do they derive a common meaning? Is there any valid foundation to this exercise in giving Moons a Southern Hemisphere existential identity?
Responsibility, Gemini’s calling-card, is really the basis of all life: not just in the sense of being responsible for a state of the world, or of oneself; or of being able to respond to the world, or demand that ability in others; but as a combination, even a continuum, of the two. It is a feedback loop, in which a calling from within adjusts itself to reality, and a real desire is driven by a sense of unrealized potential, of oneself and the world to care for each other. This is what I think ‘ownedness‘ means. You have to own yourself, and where you and the world meet in mutual creation, to be authentic. Responsibility is the transformation of emptiness into gratitude, generosity and joy.
You only have this one life, and you don’t have to be anxious about that. Responsibility can take you in a million directions, in despite of the final destination. Culs de sac like death are an illusion. So are images of the higher self you want to attain, and the wound which stops you getting there (or keeps you trapped in ministration). Of course, responsibility as calling is not without its complications. The absence of responsibility is despair, which Kierkegaard powerfully defined as the refusal of one’s calling, the loss of the eternal. And where is the eternal, if not in emptiness? Immediacy has no self, to use Kierkegaard’s words.
Take courage, through this and the next Full Moon in Capricorn: we will construct an enlightening interpretation of this fortuitous coincidence together! And authentically, I hope we can share a laugh. After all, a calling does not come from the newspapers, does it? Millions of people in post-industrial western democracies are searching for an authentic inner voice calling them to the future. It’s very hard to hear. My own calling to write about this most significant of New Moons, at the heart of Winter when the God is born, and when intimacy and duty entail an appreciation of role and judgment, has fluctuated in its audibility, and I’m afraid I cannot do it justice. Two events have drowned it at times in static: a federal election facing a polarized electorate which democracy dooms to ineffective and reactive division; and a resurgence of bodily pain which asserts my lifelong irresponsibility, a black bird come home to roost.
Three faces of inauthenticity: venting, subservience and the higher self.
We are not reaction, nor perfect.
We are not victims, nor independent.
We are not on a journey, nor lost.
Procol Harum once said, “Life is like a beanstalk, isn’t it?” Yes, in every moment of every day the tree of life contends with the elements in whatever form it has managed to preserve, automatically continuing the primordial transformative processes which create it out of nothing. Its ‘tree-ness’ can be located in its chloroplasts, at the empty threshold of energy transfers; or in the hydraulics implicit in its structure; or in shade, timber, firewood or home. As a tree, to be the gestalt of all of those identifiers, and none, is responsibility.
The moment of New Moon is an experience of being, similar in relation to the Full Moon as the house of realization is to that of reputation, in the sense that Being at the Imum Coeli represents the emptiness of ego. In that moment the Moon embarks on a mission to fill the emptiness, or allay the boredom, of what in essence prefigures what he is propelled towards. New Moon is not an embarkation from or towards an ultimate form of being. Any consciousness of higher-order being is already ego bored with emptiness. It is more valuable to think of it as a new infusion of care into will: a renewal of ‘human-ness’.
The Moon is cursed to swivel two hoops: an elliptical orbit and an inclined orbit. His gyrations delight us until we know what they mean. In the rush of his proximity he makes more urgent the task of unlearning the infantile solutions to shame which fuel so much of our judgment of others. As he composes his anguish in the Sign of determination and withdrawal (the dichotomy of twinship) in very dubious company, he has already rushed us by, but his apogee, in Libra the shame of greed and the reaction formation of disrespect, hangs from the top of the tree, impossible to ignore. Although nobody can see him, we do know that high above the Sun, he is giddily reminding us of the responsibility of prominence, with the Ascending Node in Aquarius, to focus our insight on overcoming avoidance and perfectionism.
The Tree of Man [sic] is a cross, constructed from an upright pole joining identity and emptiness, and a crossbeam joining dependent arising to transcendence, from which the bound human arms of value and intention regularly lift in supplication and dangle in despair. However daunting that symbol may seem, it doesn’t have to be. The imagination can function as a chloroplast. Just as the stars immediately above the Southern Cross symbolize the thoughts of the crucified, the left way of intoxication, the right way of asceticism, and in between, the immanent reality of transfiguration, so a child gazing up into the foliage of a parent can get an expansive perspective beneath their posture: the twitter of the cosmos in the branches.
At the moment of this New Moon, accompanied by Mummy’s ghost, Alphekka is at transit. He is the habit which affects to answer the calling. Alphekka has the quality of ‘disguise’ because he rotates very quickly and is surrounded by dust. He resembles Taz, the Tasmanian devil with a vicious temper in Bugs Bunny, and appears as the repressed accountant Theodore Tasmanian in the Looney Tunes Wabbit series now showing. Go Theo! I hope you’re happy with your vote! Now, where are those painkillers?