2014 was another year where all of the really great music had to be sleuthed out like truffles.
And I’m your hog.
Here’s a bunch of my favorites jammed together in my traditional year end mix. Enjoy!
And a blessed, enlivening, creative, mind-bending, heart-opening 2015 to each of you.
The problem with predictions, especially astrological ones, is that they rarely, if ever, come to pass. So why do astrologers bother making them and why do readers keep reading them? I’d suggest you skip the obvious answer and consider what the writer Chuck Palahniuk tells us about the power of distraction — which in many ways predictions turn out to be:
“People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.”
Of course much of the lure (and lore) of predictive astrology is about filling in the “scary unknown” with imaginary possibilities; scenarios that may or may not have any connection to how reality flows. As a diversion and pastime I suppose this sort of nonsense is entertaining, but if you’re sincere about employing astrology to assist in the development of consciousness — no.
With Saturn’s recent entry into Sagittarius this theme — diversion and how it robs us of our allotted amount of time in life — becomes a self-assessment worth engaging. To not examine our life with this intent we fall prey to a harsh form of self-loathing; the shadow side of Saturn’s transits through the fire signs. Here Saturn decrees: “Create!” To not is to live a half-life.
The all and everything of astrology is about light. The generation of light, the mechanics of light — the movement and dispersement of light and how light enlivens the inert qualities of a body (yours, or say, a planet’s), when it interacts with the atmosphere of said body. That catalytic force translates into expressions, facets or faces of being that make each form or entity unique.
This is why astrology is always fresh — or should be. Meaning, in order for astrology to be relevant to each of us in the here and now it must be released from the too-tight limitations of predictive language, which always reflects back on a lexicon that is ultimately limited in that it has little to do with where everything, everyone is now.
The Saturn of 200 years ago is not the same Saturn of 2015, anymore than the you of 1985 is related to the you of 2015. This is the shortcoming of the notion that astrology is a language. Better to say that astrology is informed by a living logos than a set of conceptual descriptions etched in stone. Free astrology from the notion of archetypes (by which it is currently crippled) and you enter the ‘scary unknown.’ And that’s a good place to start living from should you desire a sense of life that is always fresh; free from someone else’s opinion or cosmology. Again, this is a Saturn in Sagittarius theme. Not everyone will rise to this sort of clarion call of freedom.
Saturn, as the furthest planet from the Sun that allows light to be reflected back to earth and recorded with the naked eye, pinpoints where the pile of grist awaits each of us. Meaning, within the theater of reality, wherever Saturn is transiting the prima materia (the starting material required for any alchemical process) arises, making itself known through the various themes and reality bands corresponding to the signs (or planets) being transited. Read more
I’ve always put up a Christmas tree. Despite the halfhearted participation (and groaning) of my boyfriends, I’ve faithfully, right after Thanksgiving, headed out and bought (or here on Vashon, cut down) a tree to lug home. It’s a ritual I rarely miss.
After visiting India some years ago I returned home in the winter and the notion of putting a bauble-laden tree on display felt absurd. This is a rite of passage for anyone who ventures to India: Your brain cells are rearranged and you never view your world, or its customs, the same. I know that was true for me as a Westerner. Christmas in America, after the dust and squalor of India, felt gluttonous. So I skipped the holidays that year — though I missed having a tree in the house.
I enjoy the act of arranging the colors, textures and lights on a tree. It’s similar to making a painting, the alchemy of conjuring art. Simpler, but no less magical. I especially love the ricochetting of light amidst the ornaments, as it envelops the tree at nighttime. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to understand that the ritual of displaying a tree is a sacred act — although I’ve never fully understood why.
Most of us are familiar with the historical origins of the Christmas tree. Its association with the pagan rite of celebrating the solstice. When the light of the Sun ‘returns’ in the Northern hemisphere and begins its increase and ascent, the radiance grows stronger and longer through the ensuing months. Trees would be displayed to honor the burgeoning of light and life. And the fruits and trinkets that would decorate the tree honored the bounty, the wish of a successful harvest in the year to come.
And yet the historical perspective never impressed me much. I mean, none of those facts would drift through my mind as I’d lounge on the couch in the evening — no matter my age — and stare at the tree until I fell asleep. Nope, another set of mysterious associations would encircle me and send me into a reverie. And it wasn’t until I came to the conclusion of one of my favorite books this year that I began to make sense of my devotion.
Martha Heyneman‘s book The Breathing Cathedral is a fantastic interweaving of the cosmologies of Gurdjieff, Dante, Aquinas, Stephen Hawking and others, into a new model, a new interpretation of the universe we inhabit. I was drawn to the book because, as a longtime student of Gurdjieff’s teachings, I was intrigued to see how Heyneman, a zoology student turned poet, was bringing Gurdjieff’s teachings forward and marrying them to the world of science.
The last chapter of her book is titled O Christmas Tree, and at first the subject — the family Christmas tree — seemed an odd way to summarize all that she’d explored in the previous chapters. But in the end I understood completely. Read more
Living in the Pacific Northwest affords you lots of opportunities to stare directly at the Sun.
That reads weird, but since childhood we’re told never to stare at the Sun because we’ll go blind or insane. So when the opportunity to stare arrives one should take it.
This childhood proscription felt doubly true when I lived in Hawai’i because there was so much Sun. Too much Sun after awhile — and so I moved to Seattle to stare.
I was looking at the Sun the other day because the conditions were ideal here on the island. A gritty fog was dispersing off of the harbor, overshadowed by a bowl of overcast — a spread of grey punctuated by a bright white smudgy ball; a stealthy Sun at high noon.
Staring was startling because it reminded me of something I don’t think about that often, but when I do think about it I’m transported into a visceral feeling of living on a planet that is floating around in the immensity of endless black space.
The cycle of night day, night day, night day fashions reality into a false notion that night and day are equal. When really day is just a gift of a sliver of a twelve-hour moment. All else is nightness.
And when I have that sensation I’m reminded of what I felt like as a kid with my mom and dad and how tethered I was to them, always in orbit around their presences. Much like the Earth is with the Sun. And the Moon with the Earth. People, stars, planets and moons. Unions comprise cosmoses — small and personal or immense and seemingly impersonal.
In that same cloud light the other day, staring at the Sun’s nimbus, I also recalled a passage from A.H. Almaas‘s last book in his Diamond Heart series. It’s called Inexhaustible Mystery. He wrote a chapter titled Beyond Consciousness (one of those chapters that is worth the price of the entire book). And in this chapter is a poem he wrote called The Guest Only Arrives at Night.
The Guest of course is the Beloved, which is really you without an identity that is based on a relationship to a mother and a father. Imagine that. Read more
Ask astrologer Nick Dagan Best what school of astrology he practices and he will answer: “Astrology.”
His pointed, slightly sardonic response is echoed in his list of must-read books for beginning astrologers. When I requested recommendations for our interview, he offered, right at the number 1 spot: “The ephemeris — any version.” Because, as he explained: “It is the combined biography of billions of souls.”
And Nick oughta know. He has a reputation within the astro community for being a ‘human ephemeris’. Though, as he told me when we met for some libations and philosophizing recently, “I still don’t have Mercury and the Moon entirely down pat yet.” (“Jesus, I’m still trying to recall what sign Mars is transiting right now,” I thought to myself.)
Name an event from history and Best will tell you where Saturn and Jupiter were positioned and if Venus or Mars were retrograde or not on that date. This happened throughout the evening as we discussed the birth charts and defining moments (and the retrogrades that accompanied them) of Miles Davis, Alfred Hitchcock and J. Edgar Hoover. Dotted throughout with tidbits about the history of the United States and the planet Uranus (the subject of his new book) and the revelation that Joni Mitchell always referred to her favorite white Mercedes as her “baby” and, of course, where the planets were the night her “baby” was stolen. Read more