The Thymus Gland, the French, and the Word Courage

Here is a question: what spot in your body do you consider to be your true center?  Most of us would agree that the answer would be the heart.  Where do you point to when you identify yourself or another?

That’s right- your chest. But wait…. doesn’t it seem like we usually point a bit higher than the actual placement of the heart? Is this significant?

What do we find in our body in this spot just above the heart?

We find the thymus gland, an essential component of the immune system.

The thymus gland is part of the endocrine and lymphatic system in the body and essentially regulates the immune system by distinguishing between all that is “self” and “not self” in the body.  It helps white blood cells mature and be programmed to attack all that is “not self” (i.e microorganisms, toxins).  The concept of “self” and “not self” can extend into emotions and lifestyle.

Am I in the right place? Is this “me”??

Developing this kind of inner trust to know what is you and not-you is a huge factor in a healthy immune system.  Being true to these things can take courage.  Think of people coming out to their families about their sexual orientation, or a wife telling her husband that her feelings have changed.  This stuff gets scary.

The thymus gland is a lot like the training wheels that have to eventually fall away  if we are going to learn how to be grown up.

The thymus is the largest at the height of puberty.  From there on it starts to shrink.  It shrinks because of it’s reduced role in helping T-cells (killer white blood cells) mature to fight infection.  It’s like a drill sergeant, or a Mr. Miyagi in that way.  By the age of 50 only we don’t need that function as much so only about 15 percent of the thymus remains.  Our killer T-cells have fully grown.  Mr. Miyagi fades away a bit, so to speak, leaving us educated and well equipped.

Thanks Miyagi-san!!

The ancient Greeks believed the thymus gland to be the “seat of the soul” and it’s name derived from the Greek root, “thumos” which means “soul” or “spirit”.  Thymus vulgaris is the scientific name for the herb thyme, which has been associated with courage since ancient times.

The knights of the Middle Ages, the Scottish highlanders, the Greeks and the Romans all thought that thyme brought on courage and strength. Thyme is a powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory- this herb is ready to combat!(ARIES- sense of “me”)
Here is another Arian thymus image to drive home this concept. Gorillas instinctively pound on their thymus glands to initiate dominance or celebrate victory.

Ok, so let’s get back to the heart.  After all the thymus sits right above it, and in the chakra system it is referred to as the “high heart chakra”.  Thymus energy is a fiery sense of true self sitting right above our hearts…

Yeah- like this! There are many variation of the sacred heart but all include the flame at the top. Jesus as a name is very similar to the french phrase “Je suis”, or “I am” (Arian thymus words).

The country at the top of the list for the LEAST heart disease is France, which confuses a lot of physicians because their diet is notoriously full of cheese wine and deserts.  They call it “the French Paradox” and many theories attempt to explain this by researching the health benefits of red wine of which the french are so dearly fond of.  While I am a huge fan of red wine I think there is another component to why the french seem to luck out with healthy hearts: LANGUAGE.

Name the color of each word by COLOR not word. See how fast you can do it. A psychological interference takes placed dubbed the “Stroop effect” (after the scientist who discovered it). Reading the words come easier than reading the colors when the two are incongruent.

In astrology, the third house is where we find our words AND perception (associated with Mercury and Gemini).  The test above shows just how much these two things can interfere with each other.  The third house is begins the Mutable Cross of the zodiac.  Mutable signs are change-loving and ADAPTIVE.  The first axis (3rd and 9th) deal with perception and learning and the next branch (6th and 12th) is the HEALTH axis.  We all know what happens when immune systems ADAPT well to their environment.

Ferocious HEALTH. The alligator is the animal with the highest functioning immune system. Living in all that swampy water and engaging in bloody territorial attacks is one dirty lifestyle.  For an immune system to adapt to this it would HAVE to be strong.  Chemists in Louisiana found that blood from the American alligator can successfully destroy 23 strains of bacteria, including strains known to be resistant to antibiotics. Human blood was found only to be able to destroy 8 of the 23 strains.

The point is, our words and our languages lead to broad aspects in the way we perceive things, down to our very cells.  The french word for heart is “coeur” very similar to the latin word for heart which is “cor”.

Here the CORE of an apple demonstrates a perfect star. Just as in the natal chart the Sun is the only true star, it rules our hearts at the center.

The french word for courage is very similar to ours, it’s “corage”.  There is that similar root meaning center.  For the french the concept of heart and courage are MUCH more entwined than for us.  Courage too as a concept probably has a lot more to do with inner truth and heart matters than it does for us.

The french are known for their playful boldness and confidence. These are traits that are naturally associated with the sign Leo, which is the sign of the Sun and heart. Are the french more in tuned with this natural human way?

I was surprised to find out that Spain was not high on the list for low heart disease knowing that their word for heart was “corazon” and their word for courage was “coraje”.  It was of interest to find out that the suffix “azo” in spanish is connected to “pain” and “a blow by an object”.  Maybe that’s why there are sad mariachi singers who explore that heart pain so beautifully!

Zapatazo de Sheamus
Ouch! That zapatazo has to hurt. ZapatAZO is spanish for “kick”.

And then we have our word, heart.  Heart is a very lovely word, as is “corazon” for that matter.  But what is another word that sounds like heart?

That’s right, “hurt”. In fact I think that is the word most similar phonetically in our whole language. Could this put us in a position to see our english speaking hearts as more vulnerable than the french coeurs?  Of course, vulnerability is a virtue in itself.

Charlemagne said “to have a second language is to have a second soul”.  These differences in words are subtle but powerful.  Being open to learning foreign ways of viewing things is of immense benefits to our minds and bodies.

The thymus gland and the french remind us that courage and the heart are and always will be intimately connected.  From now on I not only have a heart, I also have a coeur!  A coeur at my core, and if in times it beats faster out of fear I will try and hear it like a war drum summoning le corage!

Why do I always come back to this guy?

Everything in Motion and Creative Tension

A little over a month ago we were blessed with some premium celestial entertainment with the 2015 Blood Moon Eclipse.  People broke out the fine cameras, hung out on the lawn, or down by the river like me.  The drama was compelling as that bright Moon steadily disappeared into nothing and then became— something else.

Is that you Mother Moon?
Curious Australians gaze upwards at transforming Moon.

Some of us may be perfectly clear on how an eclipse happens but for those of us that aren’t..

We, the Earth, basically block the Moon entirely from the Sun’s light.
This NASA photo shows a lunar eclipse from the perspective of sitting on the Moon (left). The light that is peaking out from around the circumference absorbs much of the Earth’s atmosphere and casts that spooky red shadow on the Moon (right).

The briefness of the Moon looking this way is a good reminder of how we are in constant MOTION.  When practicing astrology it is all too easy for us to forget this fact.  We can fall into the trap of seeing the Sun, Moon and planets as static entities, with no background or direction to them.

But the truth is- all matter in the universe is in constant motion

Say for example, you have your Sun in Aries.  Pick up any astrology book and you will likely find a description of an independent and self-willed pioneer that does and goes where they want!

Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Yeah… like this.

But here’s the next question.  Why Aries?  ..anyone?

.. Bueller?

The answer is this- too much Pisces.

Pisces when in balance is an imaginative and emotionally sensitive sign that is quite in tune with nature’s subtleties.  But when taken to excess, Pisces can seek to ESCAPE the reality from which it is so sensitively attuned to, like the case above.

So, Aries (strong-willed independence) swoops in to attempt to RESOLVE the issues of an overblown Pisces (hazy confusion and lack of direction).  The signs RESOLVE the continuous issues of life as the Sun, Moon and planets “REVOLVE” around the Earth (geocentrically speaking).

Each sign has a past, see? And a future for that matter.

The importance of the reality that everything is in constant motion leads me to have to introduce two very special spots on the birth chart.  Those of the Lunar Nodes.

They aren’t planets they are INTERSECTIONS. Intersections of path of the Moon around the Earth and the apparent path of the Sun and planets (the ecliptic).  Eclipses only occur near these Nodal points.

So what’s this?  The path (motion) of the Sun is not the same path as the Moon?  EXCEPT in these two little spots where they intertwine?  It’s almost like the physical spot of the marriage of the Sun and Moon that the alchemists praised.

The Lunar Nodes are where the paths of Father Sun and Mother Moon connect.

This is no small thing symbolically!!  We know what happens when father and mother meet—baby!  Or life in other words.  The Lunar Nodes are very tied into LIFE symbolically speaking.

Life: Day one- Let’s do this!

And each life has it’s own themes.  In my experience, a glance at the Nodes in the birth chart is the quickest way to connect with the broad stroke themes of a person’s life.

With the North Node, the Moon begins her ASCENT over the ecliptic.  Therefore we can see the North Node as a point in which we seek to CLIMB.  Where we can be LIFTED in life.  Embracing the North Node might have tension- as we seek to go against the pull of gravity- but this tension generally feels good and healthy.

Remember this feeling? A nice combination of “I can do it!” and “I can see things that I couldn’t before”. North Node territory.

By contrast the South Node is where the Moon begins her DESCENT below the ecliptic.  At this point the pull of gravity is upon us, perhaps weighing us down with issues that won’t go away.  This is where we can SINK instead of swim, and the sinking generally feels bad.

The world can quickly go out of focus when we sink into our South Node issues and feel powerless against change.

Of course this does NOT mean that the South Node is bad and the North Node is good, even though it may seem that way.  The South node is just what is EASIER and more FAMILIAR.  It can be a very positive thing when kept in proper tension with the North Node to balance it from taking over like quicksand.

The ancients called the North Node the “Dragons Head” where life must be INGESTED verses the South Node “Dragon’s Tail” where the nourishment must be EXCRETED. But of course, the excrement is what fertilizes new growth. Nothing is to waste!

Therefore the “been there done that’s” of YOUR life may serve as helpful gifts to others, like the Dragon’s fertilizing doo-doo, but they really don’t serve YOU anymore.  That’s why we have the North Node, like our own personal North Stars to look up to and feel that creative tension of life within us.

A pearl is formed as the mollusk’s defense mechanism towards irritants that make their way into the shell. Mucous is secreted over the irritant to make it smoother on the living creature. Over time the end result is the beautiful pearl, a glowing example of creative tension.

For example let’s say your South Node is in Cancer and in the 3rd.  You are going to want to look at this in a way that spots the SHADOW behavior of this placement, so you can recognize how it might attempt to SINK you.  Shadow Cancer would be over-emotional and over-protective somehow.  Shadow 3rd house brings in themes of being too much in your own head and not having enough experiences to break up your own perception of things.

North Node to the rescue!

The North Node would be in Capricorn and in the 9th, directly opposite (as always) and offering some much needed balance.  Capricorn reminds Cancer that sometimes it needs to put the emotions aside in order to get to where it needs to be.  The 9th house welcomes foreign experiences and ideas from other people to break up our stuck-in-the-mud mindset.  With these themes introduced we can naturally use our Cancerian 3rd house gifts (an ease with kindness and a good way in communicating it) without letting them swallow us!

Back back South Node!!

Depending on the sign and house placement of your Nodes some very interesting questions can arise.

What do your Nodes say about your life themes?  Please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section!