A dear, dazzling soul took leave of the astrological community last night.
Many of us, today, are celebrating, recounting and mourning the extraordinary life of Kelly Lee Phipps.
Because astrology is a spiritual practice, a practice that offers the potential of awakening to those it touches, I’ve long known that astrologers comprise their own unique group soul upon the planet — a circle of colleagues that serves in the forging of a living connection between the terrestrial and the celestial within the individual soul.
Kelly embodied and embraced this service with all the gusto of a genuine (and wildly enthused) magician.
He inspired many hearts and minds, and initiated many others into the astrological logos as well — and offered the gift of his presence with spirit, imagination, humor and wisdom. A gentle man and a scholar.
“We are here to witness the creation and abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other.
We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at a reason we are here: By creating things, by thinking up new combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness, so the universe comes out even. A shepherd on a hilltop who looks at a mess of stars and thinks, ‘There’s a hunter, a plow, a fish,’ is making mental connections that have as much real force in the universe as the very fires in those stars themselves.”
— Annie Dillard
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’
–Jalal ed-Din Rumi
To stall is to procrastinate. That’s the usual association we make with the word. And procrastination implies a conscious kind of non-action on the part of the procrastinator.
But there is another definition taken from the world of aviation. A mechanical stall is a malfunction in the flight of an aircraft in which there is a sudden loss of lift that results in a downward plunge. “The plane went into a stall and I couldn’t control it.”
Can you relate?
With both Saturn (the prime timekeeper) and Mars (momentum itself) in retrograde motion, our direction, our sense of time, our desire (Mars) for a forward direction (Saturn) — all of our leaning toward and lunging for is, well, suspended — left dangling. So when someone asks you, “What are you up to?” You can say, in all honesty, “Just hanging around.” Or if you’re a more melodramatic type: “Man, I’m going down.”
So, while you’re falling why not pick a card — any card.
Of all the various versions of the Tarot’s Hanged Man (Pamela Colman Smith’s glowing, haloed figure or Aleister Crowley‘s eerie ankh-hung Spiderman) I like the simplicity of Robert Place‘s rendering — taken from his Alchemical Tarot deck. I also think Place’s Hanged Man is more true to the initial stages of frustration one experiences when she first notices that her airplane has gone into a stall.
Place animates his Hanged Man with a thrashing motion of the body and an angry, perplexed countenance. The man is definitely rebelling. And all that he has acquired within the normal, forward motion of time, is falling from his hands. Read more
My friend and colleague Wonder Bright posted a post on her site yesterday where she dove into the contradictions related to astrology’s 12th house. The sort of diving a lot of 12th house Sun people do. An inquiry that’s easy to understand, given astrology’s grab bag of 12th house horrors.
As defined by classical astrology, the 12th house of the birth chart is a cluster of fallen positions, people and milieus. And modern interpretations are no better, creating what I call a ‘death-by-euphemism’ blanketing; where New Agers and their notions of transformation and the collective unconscious (huh?) have defanged the 12th house to the point of parody.
Traditional astrology explains that because the 12th house makes no proper Ptolemaic aspect to the ascendant, the 12th house and its activities go ‘unseen’. This same idea applies to the 2nd, 6th and the 8th house too. Over time, the life events and conditions associated with each of those houses can become problematic. In other words: If I am not consciously aware and actively involved with the circumstances involved with each of those houses I will, most likely, fuck things up.
Jesus, there’s nothing like an individual’s relationship to money (2nd and 8th houses) and the consequences related to finances, to drive said person to the brink of addiction or crime; which, of course will land them in the 12th house, that of prisoners and jailers and drunkards and debtors (and a bunch of other Charles Dickens‘-like characters), where he or she will abide and live like a slave (a classic 6th house theme.)
So all of this seems valid to me because the ascendant is the particular lens through which I view reality and reality views me. If certain of my activities and affairs fall beyond my eye of awareness (my ascendant), well, most likely there will be blood. And sweat. And certainly tears.
Personally, and maybe because I have Leo rising and Leo doesn’t like to think of anything related to the self as being artificial, I have never jibed with the Jungian confluence of the first house with the persona, the mask that one wears to present himself to the world.
Mmmmm. No, sorry. My Leo nature is the real deal. Read more
My recent interview with astrologer Jessica Murray generated a good amount of reverberations within my site’s comment section, on Facebook and via personal emails; most of which were steeped in low-grade agitation. Each alluding to the question: “Now what?”
Apparently the title I chose for the piece (“A Way Through”) wasn’t the most perspicacious, in the sense that readers took it literally, whereas I was using the term as a way to frame an open-ended inquiry, not present a list of ‘how to’ steps or specific solutions.
When I informed Jessica as to the questions the interview set in motion, she was kind enough to forward a response to share with you. Which you can now read and comment on below:
“I imagine that all astrologers who write about transits for a general audience of unseen readers come up against this conundrum: Although we know our readers would like us to be more specific – to pinpoint acts and events that would make sense to them in their own world — without seeing our specific natal charts, we can’t do it.
Unless we’re addressing a particular client’s chart, all we can do is make informed generalizations; to try to say something that’s relevant to everyone living under the same sky… an exciting and demanding sky, right now, full of tumultuous transits.” Read more
Jessica Murray is a professional astrologer with a fascinating personal history that involves writing, publishing, political activism and a command of semiotics. Semiotics is field of study, some would call it a science of sociological code-breaking, that involves reading the language of signs.
The concept of semiotics is easier to grasp if you think of it as a system that attempts to understand how human beings create meaning from the manner in which reality displays itself, be that through events, words, images and objects.
Ideally, astrology benefits from the semiotic approach because astrology too is a language, a language that is brought to life by the linguist’s ability to skillfully interpret signs and symbols. If we think of an astrological chart as a signature of the soul, you can see how a confluence of astrological and semiotic insight would make for a formidable astrologer. And Jessica is very much one of contemporary astrology’s most creative and vibrant authors. Her close readings of the sociopolitical landscape are both dazzling and educational.
Our discussion centers around themes related to the ongoing and unprecedented Uranus Pluto square, a planetary component of the unfolding “Cardinal Cross Years,” which comprise our current historical moment — a time when “the modern Western mind … with its machines and weapons and power games, has grown so out-of-whack as to be needful of tough-love intervention, like a self-harming child…Our goal must be to get in touch, on a gut level, with the fact that the breakdowns we see around us are signals of incipient breakthrough.” Read more