January 15th, 2010

New Moon Watch: The Envy of Achievement

Hippolyte_Bayard

“The Ancients weighed the achievement of an individual by the sum and substance of his actions. Most of Plutarch‘s biographies–for example, of Themistocles, Alcibiades, Pompey, and Antony– are heroic assortments of virtues and vices, clear renderings of the psychological diversity and paradox which seem almost indispensable components of historic greatness.

We moderns, on the other hand, influenced by our religion, qualify all our estimation with a surgical standard of moral purity.

For the ancients, virtue was action, accomplishment, contribution; for us it is an essence so pure and fragile in nature that a beaker of goodness can be ruined by a dram of sin.

Dante makes his beloved teacher, Brunetto Latini, a sufferer in hell, because all his memorable virtues were combined with a single serious vice. Francis Bacon is almost never mentioned as a historical figure without reference to the single act of malfeasance which, deftly exploited by an enemy, ended his political career. The grievous and numerous faults of Winston Churchill are expounded upon interminably by the beneficiaries of the free institutions he fought to save.

And this stubborn altruism, often so extreme as to constitute a conspiracy against nature, extends beyond our histories into our daily lives. Shunning peccadillos, we suffer infamies. Anxious to avoid even appearing to do harm, we lose touch with the necessarily hazardous practice of goodness. We use rectitude to mask our envy of achievement.”

Robert Grudin

opening photograph Stilleben by Hippolyte Bayard c.1839


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October 18th, 2009

New Moon Watch: …May It Happen For You

MaslowskiStanislaw

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

– Sheenagh Pugh

Painting by Stanisław Masłowski (1853-1926), Wschód księżyca (Moonrise), 1884. From Crashingly Beautiful


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September 18th, 2009

New Moon Watch: Saturn Holds the Nexus

josef_sudek
“The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man.”
– C.G. Jung

Saturn. Lead. Gravity. And gravitas. With Saturn comes a quality of substance, a depth of being. Within the planetary pantheon, Saturn equates with the visceral experience of ‘now.’ Time as ‘is.’ What you are grappling with — now, what you are attempting to learn and master — now, to comprehend and stick it out — there’s Saturn.

Uranus. Can language even describe its particular electricity and type of fire? Think about electricity for a moment. What in the hell is it exactly — other than some mysterious force born of friction? Dane Rudhyar once called Uranus an ambassador from another galaxy. Wow. Read more



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August 20th, 2009

New Moon Watch: Embracing The End of Time

last_days_astroinquiry

In the 60s and 70s people blew stuff up and set buildings on fire, (some self-immolated to help emphasize their ‘message’). A few were fired on at protests and demonstrations across the country. Some people were killed. I remember going to an organized protest in Seattle recently, citizens taking a stand against California’s Prop 8 passage. But could I call it a protest? A bunch of hipsters with cell phones milling about, texting each other while a guy with a blow horn blathered on about being ‘queer’ and ‘here’ now. He looked more like someone trying to mimic an image he’d seen in a picture. Probably a JPEG on Wikipedia. Incendiary? Uhm, hardly. The image of a wet match comes to mind. No directive, no opinions clarified, no real fire — just tweeting and cellphone pics beaming out into the ether. A Samuel Goldwyn-ism came to mind: “Include me out.”

In a recent interview, Ralph Nader remarked: “This is the third television generation…They have grown up watching screens. They have not gone to rallies. Those are history now. They hear their parents and grandparents talk about marches and rallies. They have little toys and gizmos that they hold in their hands. They have no idea of any public protest or activity. It is a tapestry of passivity.”

This disconcerting disconnect from what’s virtual (seemingly real) and really real — what I call the Reality Gap — is what the just-gaining-speed Pluto in Capricorn transit will remedy in the years ahead. Capricorn, the quintessential symbol of thick, dense, leaden, undeniable, real matter is being transited by a force that’s only ‘mission’ is to purge the ways we’ve become disconnected from what’s real. Real as opposed to false. Simply put: Pluto’s impulse is to allow an organism, person or a culture to experience the style of the archetype in its purest, most raw form. No impediments. Just the pure power of the sign. Capricorn’s style is pragmatism. The Capricorn message is “Get real.” Pluto in Capricorn says “Get real — or else.” Read more



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July 20th, 2009

July 2009 Solar Eclipse: Welcome to the Bardo’s Edge

cancer_eclipse1

Wednesday’s New Moon is a tipping point solar eclipse. Its duration, nearly seven minutes long, makes it the longest eclipse of the 21st century. There’s a particular potency to any celestial gathering around the last degrees of any zodiacal sign, and today’s lunation hits, exactly, the cusp between Cancer and Leo. A mysterious zone indeed.

This is a segment of time akin to the moments prior to a pregnant woman’s labor. Full-to-bursting, when the baby is ready to roll, the mother taps into an instinctual process that carries her along until the birth is complete. She can’t do it with her mind — surrender is implicit. You could say today’s eclipse atmosphere is charged with a persistent pressure to relax, release and welcome the unknown. A process is underway, geared to undo our grip on the familiar — but only if we’re willing to forgo expectations and preferences.

More than ushering in something new, this eclipse highlights the manner in which we surrender our concepts about the future. The opportunity? To test a new expression of trust and not allow the past to crowd out open-ended potentialities. To understand more clearly, study the two signs involved. What does the cusp between two signs signify? It’s a mysterious zone, yes? A stunning demarcation between one world and another. Read more



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