November 13th, 2013

When the Zodiac Cracks the Man Booker Prize: Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries

It’s long been a tacit secret that Margaret Mitchell used the 12 signs of the zodiac to define and imbue her characters in Gone With The Wind.

UK astrologer Neil Spencer describes Mitchell as having based her epic “on the zodiac, leaving a blatant trail of clues which were only picked up in 1978 when US astrologer Darrell Martinie was shown photocopies of notes from Mitchell’s library.”

You can do the celestial math. Scarlett O’Hara, is an impetuous, selfish but ultimately heroic Aries. Rhett Butler, a passionate and proud but principled (when need be) Leo. Sister-in-law Melanie Hamilton, a self-sacrificing Virgo. I’ve often wondered what sign Prissy (“I don’t know nothing about birthin’ babies”) might have been based upon. Maybe a hysterical Pisces or Sagittarius?

Where only speculation surrounded Mitchell’s masterpiece, we now have a Man Booker Prize winner — Eleanor Catton and her second novel The Luminaries (what a stellar title!) — pushing its way into the world of popular literature. Catton has talked openly about the astrological motif (and its influence) that enlivens her prize-winning fictional work. In an interview with PBS’ Jeffrey Brown she notes:

“In my research for the book, I discovered, to my interest and astonishment, that astrology really is an incredibly mathematical system and one that has a lot in common with music. In music, we have got the 12 semitones and then the seven natural notes in the scale.

And in astrology, you have got the 12 signs and the seven planets. A lot of the kind of interrelations that happen and the harmonies that happen in the sky are quite similar to the harmonies that can happen or the chords that can happen in music.”

Good for her! No mention of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Rather than spend time sharing my impressions of the theme and the charming author you can watch the interview here.

And order a copy from Amazon. (I just placed my order tonight, and can’t wait!)

Enjoy!



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November 08th, 2013

This ‘n That: November Astrology Notes

My friend David Roell runs a real brick and mortar bookshop in Maryland. It is one of the best annexes around for all things astrological. He just notified me that his bookstore’s shipment of Jim Maynard‘s Celestial Guide calendars have arrived and that it’s time for you to order yours now.

Please consider purchasing your calendar from an astrologer and an astrology bookshop as it goes a long way in keeping a business like David’s Astrology Center of America available to all of us. David has an incredibly comprehensive collection of books and we want to keep him and his business around for a long time.

About the calendars, David offered this fascinating observation:

“Give one to a child who wants to learn the craft. Have him/her learn to use the voids as a guide to daily activities. Train him to sense the Moon’s transit through the various signs, give him practical advice from Mercury retrograde, etc.

From what I’ve worked out, astrology shows the Earth’s daily temperature, in other words the Earth’s unique ever-changing vibration as it continuously relates to the Sun, Moon and other planets. Astrology does not rain from an empty sky. It radiates from the earth itself . You should no more ignore the daily ephemeris than you should go out of doors without regard to the weather. Astrology describes the raw energies of this planet, our home, nothing more and nothing less. That’s what Maynard has given us, on a daily basis and set in our own proper time for easy reference.”

Astro Web Destinations

Two of my favorite astrology websites that I want to note for you this month are both published by women and they both offer unique insights into the ongoing dialogue between you and me and the solar system. I prefer sites like this where you develop a distinct sense of the author’s character and proclivities; a kind of approachability that tempers astrology’s intimidating complexities. This brings astrology down to earth and makes it accessible without involving Sun sign banter or romance advice (not that I’ve anything against that sort of astrology).

A good example of what I’m talking about is Wonder Bright‘s Stars of Wonder.

Wonder’s prose is akin to sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee and moving through a myriad of topics both celestial and terrestrial. Her first-person retellings generate an inviting aperture on the astrological matrix.

I particularly enjoyed her recent rumination on the Twilight series of movies, the story’s heroine Bella, and how our culture has become so distanced from a healthy connection to the feminine we’ve had to devise a way back to her essence through the supernatural realm. Highly recommended.

My friend and art colleague Kate Petty publishes Ambient Astrology, a beautiful respite and reminder that astrology websites don’t have to resemble a carnival attraction to hold your attention.

Kate’s fierce interest in some of astrology’s more esoteric and complex modalities, namely the school of Symmetrical Astrology (the bug of which bit me hard when I met up with one of its kingpins, Gary Christen, at the recent NORWAC astrology convention in Seattle) and employing antiscia when studying the various markers of the horoscope, underlie many of her articles.

Kate’s most recent post, Reclaiming the Apocalypse, will give you pause when you consider the intense, unprecedented array of exact planetary aspects we’ll experience through the remainder of November. Spend time with this piece and you’ll come away with a new way of considering what living through a cycle’s final throes implies. It’s both thrilling and unnerving, but we wouldn’t be here to usher in this new phase if we weren’t gifted with the substance of soul to persevere.

Have a site you think I should know about? Please share your comments below. I’m all ears (and eyes).



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November 07th, 2013

Water, Water, Water: Everywhere in the Sky

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to … miss.

It feels that way with half of the solar system residing in the water element through November. The Sun, Mercury and Saturn are moving through Scorpio, while Neptune floats and goes uber diaphanous in Pisces. And Jupiter just stationed several days ago to make a long retrograde through Cancer, until early 2014. The perfect time to contemplate exactly what the water element translates to in astrological terms, in human terms in other words.

Well, you can start by watching this video*. Pay attention to the silkiness of the creature’s movements. The glide, the way everything seems still on one hand, but then in constant motion on the other. We take water for granted, thinking we know it, remember it, from our childhood days of swimming and playing in it — or standing in awe as we watched the deluge of a storm or cowered at the news of an impending tsunami (well, at least I did while living in Hawai’i.)

Like the other three elements in astrology (fire, earth and air) the magnitude for creative or destructive power is equal. And when you think about it, the way the Greeks and Indians did when they declared the four elements to be the very foundation, the components that composed our reality, both visible and invisible, the totality of our lives move through, within and without, the four elements. Meaning we reside in a world composed of the elements as we ourselves are composed of the very same essential parts.

Astrologers will talk a lot about emotions and feelings when it comes to the water signs, and that is true, in a vague sort of way; but I’ve found, more specifically that the water element — when highlighted in a birth chart or predominate by transits — presses upon our consciousness the unseen realm of images and symbols, and the ability to work with metaphor, poetry, song, or any creative medium that requires stillness and movement simultaneously.

Dreams and dreaming become more emphatic, the unconscious more crucial in honing the inchoate, the unformed. Creative solutions abound in myriad forms, shapes and expressions. The rewards are plenty, though the test, (the condition of being a kind of medium for transmission), involves a vulnerability that can be difficult to allow. This is the gift and the riddle of the water element — the capacity to create is dependent upon a condition of openness that is both delicate and fierce; working that riddle requires the wisdom of a poet and skill of an artist.

From my perspective, this is more what the water element alludes to.

Drift in that notion awhile and then share your ideas with me below, please. I’d like to hear your experiences and impressions.

*(Apologies re the treacly song that accompanies the video. I recommend turning the volume down when you watch. At least that’s what I do)



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November 06th, 2013

Neptune: The Mystic

Ray Grasse, the author of one of my favorite books on symbolism, The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives, posted this on Facebook awhile back. He noted:

“Hard to describe the impact this piece had on me as a 19-year old, listening to it on a small tape recorder during a camping trip in Wisconsin under an impossibly starry night sky. Especially good for late-night listening. For those who don’t already know, Holst boned up on the astrological meaning of each planet when composing each of his pieces for The Planets suite.”



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November 01st, 2013

Apocalyptic Reverie: Uranus/Pluto v.4.0

Zombie survival guides. Alien interventions. Super bugs. Reality show raptures. Economic cliffs. Anti-Christ-Palooza. Terrorists and Tiaras. Bit coin. Gold coins. Gluten. NSA. GMOs. Homo-trimony. The new Arcade Fire album.

Signs, symbols and Zeitgeist stingers. Time traveling omens from Armageddon are the stock and trade of our modern day narrative. The stories and anxieties we lay down and fret about until the Ambien kicks in. But why such a narrow bandwidth? Where’s the bigger, wider picture? The range of other frequencies?

Scenarios of doom monopolize our inner landscape because speeding up to the end means a new beginning is just around the corner. That’s one theory. The catch of course is the way we resist other narratives. It’s critical now to think beyond the parameters of being a garden-variety human being. This is the nut of the ‘message’ from the ongoing, exact as of today, again, for the fourth (out of seven swipes) Uranus Pluto square.

When food, money, energy and optimism are scarce we become attached to whatever sort of hoard (be it our meager amount in savings or the way Plutocrats hog all the wealth and investments in their seemingly exempt world) we’ve come to associate with as a means to see us through to the new phase. The catch? You can’t cross the river in a boat and then take that boat with you as you explore the new world. It’s too cumbersome and defeats the purpose of surrender.

So we’re looping right now. Sort of like animals do before being eaten by a predator. You’ve probably seen shots like this on those nature shows you watched as a kid. The prey runs around and around in a circle, hysterical, before the killing bite is administered by the predator. Right?

Our inner animal is a bit freaked. So, like your pet, you need to assure it all will be well. You’ll take care of things and keep the wolves away from the door. Do that for your inner critter, you’ll gain a lot of traction in the process.

The weirdness happens when we observe ourselves observing others and the world we coexist in. If we’re not dwelling on our own crisis of faith, then we want to read about it in the news or watch it in a sci-fi or horror film; a tacit way of confirming that everyone’s sort of fucked up at the same time.

Fact or fiction doesn’t matter — just that we’re seeing clearly that everything is caving in — that’s the essential ‘meaning’ behind the obsessive imagery we circulate and share and post and tweet about it — over and over and over. It’s the Hologram of the Season. The reality bite that keeps on biting.

As I’ve already mentioned, I associate this End of Days meme with the fourth swipe between Uranus and Pluto. The number four makes things sharply concrete; there’s less of a feeling for a creative outlet with four, like there is with the number three. Four is two plus two which feels like two sides against two other sides — the nature of two being opposition and discord. A doubling up of angst.

My field notes show that Uranus is associated with time warping. A hybrid process of time speeding up, which means our subjective experience of time is altered and tweaked out — it kind of forces us to feel and peer into the future, despite our best efforts to avoid perception. This quickening happens via Aries. So the sense of urgency, to remove constraints, shackles, anything that limits freedom, imparts that time bomb feeling. Tick tock. Uranus becomes the hair shirt we’re wearing. It’s exciting to think about it except for one small impediment:

Pluto is akin to a black hole generator. When our awareness is touched by Pluto, nuclear fission occurs; meaning, we phase between one reality and another reality in such a way that forces us to leave the former reality and pop into the later reality which, to our animal nature — our survival drive — is associated with annihilation of the former, and so, well, we balk and freeze and hover. And yet the worm hole beckons.

Read more



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