January 24th, 2014

Astrology’s House of the Rising Sun

john_curley_photo
“And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy and God, I know I’m one…” — Alan Price

“Mystery is the only addiction I wholeheartedly recommend.” — Scott Peck

 
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



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January 18th, 2014

Essence and The Necessity of Personality

“In order to develop from any of the three ordinary types into higher orders of being it is necessary to crystallize and temper essence into a permanent and unifeid “I.”

This is done mainly by instigating a struggle between essence and personality.

Both essence and personality are necessary for this work: essence must have personality or it will not wish to develop. Personality provides the material to study, the obstacles to overcome, the temptations to resist, the delusions to invalidate, and in the process of struggling with and testing itself against personality, essence gains in strength and maturity.

This battle is what Islam calls the holy war (jihad) and in this war the more evenly matched the opposing sides, the greater the intensity of combat and the more thorough the destruction and renewal entailed.”

– Kathleen Riordan Speeth

from The Gurdjieff Work © 1989. Tarcher/Putnam


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January 10th, 2014

Questions and Answers With G.I. Gurdjieff: The Illusion of Doing

gurdjieff_and_pets

Man is a plural being.

When we speak of ourselves ordinarily, we speak of ‘I.’ We say, ” ‘I’ did this,” ” ‘I’ think this,” ” ‘I’ want to do this”—but this is a mistake. There is no such ‘I,’ or rather there are hundreds, thousands of little ‘I’s in every one of us. We are divided in ourselves but we cannot recognize the plurality of our being except by observation and study.

At one moment it is one ‘I’ that acts, at the next moment it is another ‘I.’ It is because the ‘I’s in ourselves are contradictory that we do not function harmoniously. We live ordinarily with only a very minute part of our functions and our strength, because we do not recognize that we are machines, and we do not know the nature and working of our mechanism.

We are machines. We are governed entirely by external circumstances. All our actions follow the line of least resistance to the pressure of outside circumstances.

Try for yourselves: can you govern your emotions? No. Read more



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December 23rd, 2013

The Action of Love — (Love is as Love Does)

“Begin by loving plants and animals, then perhaps you will
learn to love people.”
– G.I. Gurdjieff

Rumi composed a small eruption of a poem about love’s most beguiling and dangerous qualities. This gem of verse marks out, like a Morse code, the action, the alchemy of love. I’ve revisited this poem many times, and with each close reading new facets are revealed, sharper insights gleaned. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Love comes sailing through and I scream.
Love sits beside me like a private supply of itself.
Love puts away the instruments
and takes off the silk robes. Our nakedness
together changes me completely.

The opening conveys abrupt immediacy. Things are one way one minute and then — a surge: “Love comes sailing through…” Sailing evokes being on an ocean, perhaps the Sargasso Sea where we often drift in the humdrum trance of our day-to-day life. But then the majesty of love glides in. Also, the word ‘sailing’ connotes a particular sound, the movement of Cupid’s arrow perhaps?

Love’s entrance — and then: a scream. Not a yell or a shout. A scream. A kind of fright or terror. The shock of love. Rumi is writing about the ego’s perception and reaction to love. Unnerving, startling — a harbinger for what exactly?

P.D. Ouspensky wrote in Tertium Organum: “Love is the potent force that tears off all masks, and men who run away from love do so in order that they may preserve their masks.” I guess that would explain the screaming.

Should we endure, there’s the promise of an intimate alignment, a regulation that calms the initial shock: “Love sits beside me like a private supply of itself.” This line enchants me, the image it calls forth. “…like a private supply of itself.” This speaks to the notion that we are each a localized, unique expression of love — and when we experience love we’re given the opportunity, through the mirror of the Beloved, to remember, to see this condition. We relax, perhaps unaware of the disarming that will follow.

“Love puts away the instruments and takes off the silk robes.” Now Rumi’s describing another love action — the revealing, the stripping — making naked. The initial reading is a prelude to sex, and this can work in the poem too. But there’s something more; the instruments, the clothing — the ways the ego displays its talents, or how it hides behind a facade — all of that’s got to go in the presence of love. Nakedness implies as much. Read more



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December 20th, 2013

G.I. Gurdjieff: The Necessity of a Teacher

“To a man who is searching with all his being, with all his inner self, comes the unfailing conviction that to find out how to know in order to do is possible only by finding a guide with experience and knowledge, who will take on his spiritual guidance and become his teacher.

And it is here that a man’s flair is more important than anywhere else. He chooses a guide for himself. It is of course an indispensable condition that he choose as a guide a man who knows, or else all meaning of choice is lost.

Who can tell where a guide who does not know may lead a man?

Every seeker dreams of a guide who knows, dreams about him but seldom asks himself objectively and sincerely—is he worthy of being guided? Is he ready to follow the way?

Go out one clear starlit night to some open space and look up at the sky, at those millions of worlds over your head. Remember that perhaps on each of them swarm billions of beings, similar to you or perhaps superior to you in their organization.

Look at the Milky Way. The earth cannot even be called a grain of sand in this infinity. It dissolves and vanishes, and with it, you.

Where are you? And is what you want simply madness?

Before all these worlds ask yourself what are your aims and hopes, your intentions and means of fulfilling them, the demands that may be made upon you and your preparedness to meet them.

A long and difficult journey is before you; you are preparing for a strange and unknown land.

The way is infinitely long. You do not know if rest will be possible on the way nor where it will be possible. You should be prepared for the worst. Take all the necessities for the journey with you.

Remember where you are and why you are here. Do not protect yourselves and remember that no effort is made in vain. And now you can set out on the way.”

–G.I. Gurdjieff

Views from the Real World: Early Talks of Gurdjieff
 

Illustration: Dante and Virgil emerging from the exit of Hell by Genoa (?) 14th Century


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