It’s as though an evil spirit has got into us all. At the very least, the gods, goddesses, totems and saints seem to have vacated us, and nobody could blame them for not wanting to come back. Hatred and its deluded excuse, resentment, paranoia, ridicule, not to mention chemical warfare and the faithlessly spirited prosecution of sacrilege, are not in their line of work. Our symbol of oneness has become 1. I am right, I am healing, I am equal, I am together, I choose my identity and my gender. The world is full of objects, of which I am one. My love is a delusion and I’m reassembling it. My role is an oppression and so is my image. I face them. I turn my back on them. I am the iris of a proud cat’s eye.
Many years ago, one of my precocious granddaughters in her ‘What’s that?’ phase was pointing indiscriminately all over the garden, asking, “What’s that?” I could see Nominalism 101 in full swing, and perversely tried to turn the tide. A broken stem was a hole. An upturned empty pot was a hole. The end of the hose was a hole. Together we discovered that the world is full of holes, not just things.
My custom is to present an image of the sky over a place where Sun and/or Moon are at the meridian, in an ongoing attempt to broaden a sense of global country, its connectedness and its objective emptiness. That place at noon in the moment of conjunction is Penrith, Australia, with the Moon in the third house. Once I would have explored the horizontal non-alignment of the two bodies to confirm my use of the equatorial system, but I noticed that the galactic plane was close to one of its distinctive configurations, and mathematical investigation led me to the sky above Birdsville, in Western Queensland. The conjunction of Sun and Moon is an invisible cat’s eye, the symbol 1. The alignment of horizon and galactic plane is an invisible ring, the symbol O. It is a hole.
Do you think we might reexamine circles in this light? Could we go back to the beginning, the ‘What’s that’ stage, and recognize the circle, our group, our culture, our religion, not as a zone of exclusion or as the boundary of its solid contents, but as a concept of emptiness? The horizon is a perfect example. What is it really? Perhaps it is so obstructed by the physical features that crowd your environment that you have never even seen its circularity. Are you aware that it changes with every step you take? Are you aware that you share elements within it with people beyond it?
The Milky Way is another perfect example. We are accustomed to seeing it, perhaps on rare occasions when we vacate the circle of our city, as an arc. From representations of our galaxy as a thing, we ‘know’ it as a spiral we observe from near its rotational plane. However, just like the horizon, it reveals itself as a circle as we turn around. When its poles cross the meridian, South Pole in the South, North Pole in the North, it becomes a closed circle near the horizon and disappears. What is within it? Are we?
Curiously, the horizontal galactic circle reveals a potentially therapeutic symmetry between the astrologies of North and South. Perfect alignment, at the present time, occurs at latitudes 27° North and South. Here it is at Laredo in North America.
The empty night sky is observed in this configuration from mid-January until the end of May. The Moon and planets are not shown. Note the ruling Sign of the Constellation Virgo. And here is the same galactic configuration at Oodnadatta in Central Australia, observable from mid-July until the end of November. Note the ruling Sign of the Constellation Pisces. What’s in a Sign, eh?
The Laredo alignment was moving south at the latitude of Stonehenge in 2700 BCE. Imagine what figurative representations of the sky might have occurred to people who lived under the Milky Way on the Salisbury Plain, as science emerged from Neolithic concepts of the cardinal directions. Imagine the concept of good, honourable government which might have stood in the circle of extinguished ancestors!
By 880 BCE, the Galactic Poles were at the latitudes of Southern Tasmania and the Great Lakes of Adena culture. What is within the circle of disappeared ancestors? Grave mounds. Legend. Story. Nobody knows for sure what the sky-stories of these people were, but over China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece, zodiacs had formed. The concept of the empty circle was being supplanted by linear histories in cultures with boundaries. By the year dot, the North Galactic Pole transited over Athens, where Western science was born within the circle of Hell, and the South Pole over South-Eastern Australia, where my conception of the southward evolution of Indigenous cosmology culminates.
My astrology is rooted in the circle: the cyclical madness of postmodern hormones, the presence of the bardo, and the emptiness of country. Remember Justfriendistan? A “territory only to be rivaled in inhospitality by the Western Sahara, the Atacama Desert, and Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.” (Ali Binazir.) Is the Styx of hatred destined to flow across our circle between Acheron and Lethe? Is it the Zodiac? What is this impassioned battle between suppressed women and shame-faced perpetrators of all sorts of atrocities? Do people really want to spend the rest of their lives at war, or in one or two friendships hermetically sealed from the other sex? Must a male Moon be like a boy returning to his mother’s arms from ridicule for being a Mummy’s boy, an errant inner god submitting to the contempt of a generation?
And what do we want to leave our great-grandchildren, fast internet speeds and cheap power, or safe streets? Civility turns theories of power on their heads. Power is not disseminated from authority figures or a resilience concentrated towards the centre of social structures. That is force, not power. Country cannot be invaded and taken from you by any force, even if its hills and waterholes can and its stories be made about somewhere else. Why not? Because country is empty. It’s just you standing in your absence.
Look at your circle, and see its emptiness. It contains only one thing I can see: a hole of civility.