The Shortest Question in the World and the Gift of Apollo

Metaphorcast for 7/26-8/1

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Any parent with a child over three is very familiar with the world’s shortest question: “why?”

As Mercury moves into Leo this week, we shall ponder the mind of the child.  Why?  Because they see things from a very special place.  

Antoine de Saint-Exupery was born when Mercury was in Leo.  His classic, The Little Prince deals largely with the nature of grown-ups, and their inability to perceive “important things”.  The narration comes from a pilot whose aircraft has crashed in the Sahara.  He meets a little boy with  “golden curls’”’ and a “loveable laugh” who asks questions again and again until they are answered.  Saint-Exupery draws much from his experience.  An aircraft pilot himself, he also crashed in the Sahara and nearly died of dehydration.  As a young boy he was nicknamed “The Sun King” because of his golden curls.  When in the Sahara he saw a desert sand fox who likely inspired the character who delivers the key moral message to the story: “Important things can only be seen with the heart, not the eyes.”

Perspective of distance makes the eye the center of one’s world.   Seeing with the heart seems to imply a different kind of perspective;  one that puts the heart, not the eye, at the center.  A perspective where the truly essential stands out; a world of essences.

Perhaps even more importantly, seeing with the heart implies a spirited energy to attempt to better know one’s world, and one’s place in it; an attempt to connect experience with what you see.

This is something that children seem born to do.

In a fabulous 4 part series from 1972, art critic John Berger sits around with some children, all around the age of 10.  He shows them a painting by Caravaggio which depicts an androgenous figure that looks a bit like Jesus in the center.  In the group, nearly all the boys thought this figure was a man and nearly all the girls thought the figure to be a woman.  He says this is because children look at images and connect them “directly with their own experiences.”

The perception of adults, in contrast, is “less spontaneous than we tend to believe” as a “large part of it depends on habit and convention.”

In Plato’s Symposium, it was habit and convention that caused people to call the young Apollodorus “crazed”, because he devoted himself so wholeheartedly to Socrates and to philosophy.  The enthusiastic youth went about saying he was “happy beyond all measure” as long as he could talk or listen to philosophy.  When Socrates drank the hemlock, Apollodorus was the only one present who burst into tears, a detail which suggested this character might represent Plato himself.  

Habit and convention has made a mess of these adults who see Apollodorus as foolish. They are blind to the most basic vision; that of the heart. 

The name Apollodorus may serve as another clue to heart-vision.  Above the Greek God Apollo’s Temple of Delphi read the words “Know Thyself”, and “dorus” is Greek for “gift”.   The name Apollodorus may point to a spirited gift of asking “why” in order to gain more and more perspective and truly know oneself and the surrounding world.

The child’s “why” reveals a world beyond the trees, beyond the country, beyond the sea, beyond the sky.  With each “why” a wider perspective is gained.  At the same time, a  deeper and more intimate understanding of one’s place in the world comes as the heart gets more and more centered.  And because the world stretches beyond our planet and in many ways, beyond the realm answerable by science, not to mention the infinite inner realities of feelings and dreams, the shortest question in the world will never be answered in full.

Finally, as these stories tell us, heart vision is what the artist uses to turn experience into poetry.  

Each story, painting, song, discovery and poem added to the world waits for the right hungry heart to use it and gain perspective.  

As Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is within us.  We are made of star-stuff.  We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

The next time you hear a child ask why, think of the gift of Apollo, and see if you can feel the distant stars within searching for an answer. 

As always, happy astro pondering!

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

Thunder: The Sound of Light 

Metaphorcast  7/19-25, 202

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There is a Full Thunder Moon headed our way this week, on Friday, July 23rd.  As the season shifts from the mysterious electricity of Cancer to the bright and obvious light of Leo, it seems a perfect time to ponder the phenomenon of thunder: the electric rumble born out of light itself.    

The sound of light comes in two distinct forms: the long low rumble and the sudden loud crack.

The long and low rumble is heard when the light is far away.  Rumbling like the grumbling of hunger.  But this hunger is a spiritual appetite, a “hero’s call” for adventure.  The farther away the light the more the blood stirs.     

The sudden loud crack is when light is astonishingly nearby.  It’s what propelled Archimedes to jump out of the bathwater yelling “eureka”, which is Greek for “I found it!”.  Finding such a light can seemingly stop the flow of time.  It’s the nature of a peak experience; a bubbling over of sheer delight.  

In both instances, light is making sound, and in special cases, it is recorded to allow the sound to become a second birth of light.  

A record player is a perfect example: the light of Louis Armstrong is expressed through sound, which is captured on record, to be played for someone who enjoys it.  The record is like thunder, the sound of light, it may come again as a loud crack or distant rumble to the right set of ears.  One of those sets of ears belonged to the 12 year old Billie Holiday who, in between scrubbing the halls and kitchens of some neighborhood apartments, first heard Armstrong’s “West End Blues”.  Whether it was a low rumble or a sudden crack we may not know, but as her nickname Lady Day suggests, she rebirthed the light.

Rebirthing the light is a virgin birth.  As Joseph Campbell explains it, “The virgin birth has nothing to do with a biological accident,”.  It symbolizes instead “the awakening of spiritual life in the human animal.”

Our job then, is to tune in to those low frequencies of rumbling thunder that are so often unheard so that we can give attention to a faraway light that “calls”.   We must also be ready to seize the light if we are lucky enough to hear the sudden loud crack and yell Eureka, I have it!  I have in my possession the light that found me.  

Just like a record player, one can learn to get into the habit of recording light;  paying attention in those times of rich warmth and bright meaning, then committing them to a precious bank of memory within.  Letting these instances of warmth, meaning and light fill up a personal account.  Drawing from an inner currency that answers to the highest of gold standards; that of light itself.

Nikola Tesla famously said “Everything is the light.”

He said “I am part of a light, and it is the music.” 

When asked by the journalist interviewing him whether he heard this music he replied, “I hear it all the time. My spiritual ear is as big as the sky we see above us.”  

Make big your spiritual ears this week!  

As always, happy astro pondering

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

Who Loves the Sun?

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There is a romantic rendezvous in the sky this week as Mars joins Venus on Tuesday, July 13th.  The star crossed lovers will embrace in the sign of Leo, the Sun, stirring up a passion for something so universal yet so often overlooked.

The Egyptians worshipped Ra, the Sun God who was the source of life, power, energy, warmth and light.  For the Greeks it was Helios, who dutifully drove his chariot through the sky to create each day anew.  The Aboriginals worshipped Yhi, the Goddess of light and creation who lived in dreamtime before she opened her eyes, causing light to fall upon the earth.  The Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains would perform sun dances to renew the bond that man has with life, earth and the growing season.  

And here we find ourselves now, in this summer week of 2021.  How often do we consider the bond we hold with life, the earth and the growing season?  How often do we marvel at the wholeness of a day?  The new light that lifts us up again and again from our dreams?  What is this bond we hold with the Sun; with light, warmth and growth?

The great ideas that have shaped our history have come about with special and intimate bonds of light that flash across a person’s mind.  Even just the pretty good ideas that you may have had yesterday came from a special bond with light.  

A bond with warmth may come when our nervous systems register a delightful shift that melts away stress, as we share a hearty laugh with someone.

Laughter is especially special.  Philosopher Henri Bergson saw laughter to be an evolutionary strategy, a corrective force to keep us from falling into a trap of rigidity.  He said that in general, we laugh at ‘something mechanical encrusted upon the living.’  The classic example of someone falling down goes from what is living, flowing and moving with a certain ‘elasticity’ as he likes to call it, to a bumbling mishap likely due to a lack of awareness.  Maybe someone is on their phone and walks straight into a sign post.  Something mechanical encrusted upon the living.  The natural response of laughter keeps us rejecting rigidity, and distancing ourselves from robotic behavior.  

Laughter shakes us back into being truly human, which in truth, is part superhuman.  

A similar thing happens with wonder.  Philosopher Josef Pieper said “Wonder acts upon a man like a shock, he is “moved” and “shaken”.  In these times all that is taken for granted loses its obviousness as a sense of mystery deepens within.  Reality is rendered beyond understanding because “its light is ever-flowing, unfathomable, and inexhaustible.”

Artists who paint bond with light as it interplays with matter.  Musicians and songwriters bond with light as it makes itself known from within.  As Kurt Cobain said, “In the Sun, I feel as one.”  

The gold of the sun is a standard of true wealth; a suppleness of spirit that triumphs again and again over the most trying of challenges.  As Henry David Thoreau discovered, “I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days.”  

Rimbaud called the sun “the hearth of affection and life [that pours] burning love on the delighted earth.”

It was only a couple hundred years ago that people began to accept the idea that planets revolved around the sun.  But what if, as we continue to laugh and wonder and grow as a species, a second sun emerges?  A second place of unmistakable power, warmth and light.  A unity that only comes from a heightened intensity of individual sparks? What if the good fight of laughter and wonder to keep humans as elastic as possible comes under deeper challenges as the world of automation, with its tricks that play on the subconscious, begin to normalise over-mechanized behavior?

This week, the passionate lovers of Mars and Venus hail no!  Long live the sun.  Long live the quaking of the light!  

As always, happy astro pondering!

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

What’s so Special About a New Moon?

Metaphorcast 7/5-11, 2021

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There is a new moon coming this week on Friday, July 9th.  Maybe you are wondering what is so special about a new moon.  Well, let’s ponder it, so we can better enjoy it when it comes!

New moons occur when the moon is in between the earth and the sun, whereas for a full moon, it is the earth that is between the sun and moon.  

The full moon is the popular one.  It makes a dazzling spectacle that is usually impossible to miss.  With the earth at the center, full moons are ‘centered’ around earthly things.  Sensory things.  Beauty, tastes, aroma, textures and so on.  Some people are lucky enough to find their ways to a moonlit swim.  Others may find a simple walk home to turn into the most mystical of experiences, all because of these heightened senses.

A few weeks back we had a Full Strawberry Moon and I was lucky enough to eat some of the best tasting strawberries I’ve ever tasted!

But we are now going to ponder the new moon, which finds its ‘center’ with the moon itself.  With the new moon it isn’t the senses in the middle of it all, it is the intuitions, the instincts, the songs in our blood.  In the darkened night distant stars appear with startling clarity.  In the same way, meaningful ideas and connections may find you, bright with purpose, and seemingly out of nowhere.  

The ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides said “Gaze steadfastly at things which, though far away, are yet present to the mind.”

A full moon may light up the details of a flower, but a new moon brings a vast distance into your own place of detail-making; your own mind that makes order out of chaos. 

Distant stars, coming into focus from so far away.

Tennessee Williams said that time is the longest distance between two places.

But what if the light of the stars is a world beyond time?  A world where myths are made as living guides, changing as the people that made them continue to change.  Where would we be without these myths that made us?

Where would we be without these new moons?   

Also fun with a new moon is watching for its return.  In the depths of winter she is gracious enough to return with a smile!  Though now, in summer, she will return with her signature right-sided waxing crescent.  Thankfully she never returns with a frown.  

Look to the western sky this weekend just after sunset.  After being new in Cancer, she will be visible again in Leo, and… ready for her closeup.

As always, happy astro pondering!

https://www.happyastropondering.com/