August 24th, 2015

Redefining the Oxymoron: Sex and Marriage


The revelations related to the vicious hack of the Ashley Madison website (the cheating spouses’ watering hole you’ve read about everyday for the past week) have — once again — shocked puritanical America. In the way puritanical America is always shocked whenever it discovers that people are having sex outside the confines of the missionary position (and sanctity of marriage).

Recently, several of the Scarlet-Lettered individuals — publicly exposed victims of the hack —  have committed suicide. I’m very sad about the suicides (I’ve experienced that shock first hand to understand the impact). These extreme reactions point to a gigantic schism within the culture’s attitudes about sex. Judeo-Christian prohibitions that inextricably link sex and shame, forever and ever, until the end of time.

To sustain porn star-like passion within a monogamous relationship is sorta oxymoronic. It’s not impossible (there is now Viagra and Addyi — female Viagra), but the misconceptions people project onto monogamy — the levels of romantic passion they expect to be constant, over time, aren’t germane to the natural arc of a relationship.

Those sustainablility dreams are borrowed from the realms of fairy tales and online porn. Symbolic idylls meant to instruct or entertain. But people being people, we literalize what shouldn’t be made literal.

This delusion hasn’t been helped by New Age, Oprah-esque goofiness: If you dream it — goddamnit you’re entitled to it.  Think hard enough about a new car and you’ll either win the lottery or the death of your spouse will free up his life insurance policy so you can buy one.

The Ashley Madison hack is throwing the epidemic of romo-sexual magical thinking into high relief.

Astrologically the events surrounding the Madison hack mirror the slow-building Saturn/Neptune square, to be exacerbated when Saturn finally moves into Sagittarius next month. This is an astrological wake-up call for each of us, but especially for the Neptune in Libra (1942 to 1956) and the Neptune in Scorpio (1956-1970) generations. They will feel the harsh light of reality the hardest. Why?

Both of those groups tend to project otherworldly expectations onto their interpersonal relationships. Dreams that flesh and blood people can’t realistically fulfil.

The Saturn Neptune square will highlight the psychological phenomenon of splitting. Splitting occurs when seemingly disparate parts of our nature come close to meeting or merging.

You have an image of yourself as being an easygoing, helpful fellow, but you also house a tyrannical control freak. These two parts of your nature are split apart, distanced from meeting. Gurdjieff called this ‘buffering.’

The Ashley Madison hack exposed the unrealistic hope and dreams that accompany matrimony.  On one hand, there’s the impulse to merge for the sake of secure companionship; but then, on the other, there’s the unfettered instinct for raw, lusty roaming.

Familiarity usually dents the libido and then the marriage goes missing in the forest of subterfuge … you can follow the breadcrumbs: Ashley Madison’s numbers? Over 39 million members.

For heterosexual men, this dilemma is also known as the Madonna/Whore syndrome. For straight women, I’m not sure what it’s called. Maybe something like: Protector/Gigolo? But you get the idea.

With the square planetary aspects in astrology, there’s the promise that after the shock of a revelation there might come the application of newfound wisdom. Regarding the Madison hack, I think it’s time for men and women to confront what the impact of pornography has had on the ‘sanctity’ of relationships. As online porn has fueled a new level of intensity for the erotic-exotic. Acts that would have been the (mental) craftsmanship of the Marquis de Sade.

Pornography as pagan art, has always been with us — will always be with us — but never to the degree that the human brain is now steeped in it. Kids as young as five are Googling ‘pearls’ and landing on images of nude women with their face and neck drenched in semen. How does a child’s brain process this sort of image?

Or never mind Google, perhaps the kids caught the Grammys on network TV. Porn creep is ubiquitous.

These are discussions the Saturn Neptune transit might broach. A reality check, a truth-telling about security and sex. Not an inquiry based on shame, but one of curiosity with, perhaps, the definition of marriage redefined — made realistic: Its limitations highlighted, its benefits celebrated.

And hopefully soon, before more people kill themselves because they were horny but also married.



Photograph: The Hamptons by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, 2008.

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August 15th, 2015

Astrology, Cycles, and the Active-Passive


“The future isn’t what it used to be.” –Yogi Berra
Human beings are funny.

We’ve had civilised cultures established on the planet for thousands and thousands of years — with our ability to self-reflect, gather information, theorize, analyze, etc. and yet we still write about the future as if it’s something that can be predicted.

And so data is gathered and compared and parceled out and cross-referenced to past events as if that cross-referencing will reveal something literal about how something will play out in the future — but it never does.

And yet we keep doing this. Why?

“The future” is just a term for utter unpredictability. And this makes people insane. Especially in a science-obsessed culture like ours that equates knowledge and information with the ability to classify and then predict. As if it were that simple and easy.

It is so funny.

After I posted this on Facebook my friend, astrologer Kate Petty commented: “But there are predictable cycles.”

And this is true.

Astrology as a spiritual path is a wondrous mixture of the mystical with the linear. I think this is why some astrologers attempt to make astrology into a science, but science is too limited to contain astrology. It’s like trying fit the ocean into a Dixie cup.

Usually, at least initially, when we consider the mystical we do so from a passive posture within the soul. And for this reason a lot of people don’t gravitate to a contemplative life. Read more and you’ll see why.

When you begin to sense and feel, in your bones, the ineffable presence, the totality of reality — or True Nature — as some traditions call it, you’re humbled to the point of obliteration.

Those same spiritual traditions call this obliteration process “ego death” and, as I’ve experienced that experience, it’s a fitting term. To soften it some and echo Jung, I’ll bring up one of his quotes: “There is no coming into consciousness without pain.”

More about obliteration:

Humans are a peculiar phenomenon because they are half-animal and half-human. Because we’ve become distanced from the natural expression of our instincts (the fallout from a psychic posture like the ego) we disconnect from our connection to the natural cycles and rhythms of nature and the heavens.

And this is where astrology, as a spiritual practice, offers us an opportunity to realign, reconnect and live as conduits of something much more magnificent and mysterious than the ego’s Hitler-esque, control freak tyranny.

OK, so hold on — I’m going to make a jump here: Read more

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August 02nd, 2015

Critter Rescue: Meditate Like a Mouse (or Lion)

Gone are the days of celebrities helping us reconnect to the necessity for some kind of connection to our bodies (and minds). (Remember Cher‘s workout video?… OK, nevermind.)

Cartoonist Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne) has created this whimsical (but incredibly wise) animal-filled animation that just might bring you back to the meditation practice you abandoned years ago (or last week). Read more

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July 27th, 2015

David Roell: Mercury’s Maven and Maverick

Astrologer David Roell R.I.P. (1952-2014)

“When once you grasp that astrology is in the earth and of the earth and covers the entire earth and everything in it, when you take an abstract astrology out of the sky and put it on the earth and in the ground and make it tangible and real, you will be astounded at the sheer scope and scale and power of it. We have hardly uncovered a tenth of it. As vast and complex as astrology is, it amazes me we have learned as much as we have. Astrology is reality itself.” — David Roell, (1952-2014)


“I’m picturing carloads of naked dancing girls, every Monday around 10 a.m.. My reward for getting the newsletter out. My mind, as you can see, races sideways.” David emailed this to me one morning, shortly after meeting his Monday morning deadline.

And I responded: “Yep — the Roell mind running sideways, zig-zag, up, down, and occasionally into the velocity of your leg that’s about to kick a hornet’s nest.”

But forget the naked dancing girls and consider the quote that opens this tribute for my Mercurial-minded friend and fellow astrologer David Roell who died — too young, at 62 — a year ago on July 27 — at his home in Maryland.

I want to highlight his achievements up front, to pique your interest and the desire to explore more of David’s kaleidoscopic command of astrology. George Harrison once remarked: “The Beatles saved the world from boredom.” And David did exactly the same for astrology.

Roell’s earth-based theory of the zodiac, of which he refers in the opening epigram, is the cornerstone of his astrological legacy. His grand idea is carefully articulated in the forward to his reprint of George McCormack’s classic Long Range Weather Forecasting. It’s also available online, in his article The Right Theory of Astrology, featured in his newsletter — the same newsletter that was emailed weekly, to thousands of eager subscribers. Read more

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July 22nd, 2015

Facebook & How to Preserve The Creative Drive


When you’re a writer Facebook becomes a peculiar problem.

Famous writer Zadie Smith, in her list of 10 rules for writers, says that working on a computer without wi-fi is essential. I guess she was tempted, while writing, to make too many visits to The New York Review of Books and start grazing.

In this post, I’m using the word peculiar to evoke its deeper etymology. Peculiar’s Late Middle English usage was to indicate: “Belonging to one person.” But even more peculiar (and further back in time) is the word’s Latin origin and usage, which is related to cattle and how those cattle belonged to you, were your property.

The Latin etymological tree goes like this:

pecu (cattle) > peculium (property) > peculiaris (of private property) > peculiar (particular, special).

So this is good to note, because you need to guard your stock when you’re working on your own creative stuff; to keep your words in your own writing stockade — rather than let them roam too much within the Facebook dream field. Grazing.

Secrets, Tips and Suggestions

Over the years, as a writer and incessant Facebooker, I’ve found that I can use Facebook for:

1. A well-deserved breather.

2. A maneuver to avoid an impending inner-critic attack. All writers know the inner-critic’s voice and the damage it does: “This is horrid and Dad was right, I’ve no talent. I should have stayed a cashier.” If I stay there grinding away on a paragraph in tandem with my inner-critic’s voice grinding away on me, well, I’m fucked. The abuse is dehumanizing.

The inner-critic’s job is to sabotage whatever creative expression you undertake and insure that you remain identified with the idea that you’ve no skill or talent.

Kids are psychic sponges and retain every judgement aimed in their direction — from the moment of conception forward, those critiques eventually morph into the inner-critic’s voice.

I have a friend whose sister had a baby girl that she’d called an “asshole” so frequently, from babyhood onward, that whenever the toddler met someone outside the family circle she’d announce proudly: “I’m an asshole!”

So strategies must be developed to dodge (or defend) against the inner-critic. Facebook can — if used wisely — act as a respite, unplugging you from your inner-critic and its attack on your present-time creation.

3. An energizing or remedial moment: I’ve often been working on a chapter and then hopped out of Google Docs and into Facebook and bumped into a post from The Guardian about how a trapped starfish can detach its own foot, keep moving, and then grow a new foot later. And for some unknown reason, reading that random bit of weirdness galvanizes my creativity, back into its flow.

Or, conversely, whatever particular post I land on will act as a non sequitur that unravels what I was previously laboring over; revealing that my effort was, indeed, shitty, and that I need to stop writing and start reading about starfish that unhinge their feet.

4. A Dada-like exposure to chance or what I call ‘synchronic serendipity’. Dada or Dadaism was an European avant-garde art movement from the early 20th-century where the Dada artists employed randomness, chance, and synchronic mirroring to create their creations.

Dadaism became very popular with artists willing to enter the realm of the irrational and illogical to achieve their creative inspirations and creations. And like all magical processes it involved rituals of various sorts.

Facebook can be employed in a similar way for a writer. The other day, frustrated with a difficult section I was writing about the planet Mercury, I stopped, logged into Facebook, and the first post I encountered was a post about the actor Brad Pitt‘s alleged bi-sexuality.

This was the perfect ingredient I needed for inspiring a point within the chapter about Mercury’s hermaphroditic nature. Shameless plug: You’ll love this part of the book when you read it. I promise. Read more

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