The Object Changes Me. Full Moon in Libra.

The first Spring Full Moon comes Sunday, March 28th , in the romantic sign of Libra.  Opposed by the Sun with lady Venus, both in the seasonal sign of lively Aries, let’s wake up our senses and engage in a romantic pondering!

When Libra illuminates the night there is a growing awareness of the reality of relations.  As it turns out, the reality of relations is the reality of ourselves.  This is the interesting viewpoint of neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio.

In his book The Feeling of What Happens, he talks about the relational nature of consciousness itself.  The two players of consciousness are the organism and the object.  The organism relates to an object and the object changes the organism. 

The organism is our body, our brain.  The objects are sensory (out there in the world) or mental (thoughts, memories).  What emerges from this relationship, is what he calls core-consciousness, and from that, the core-self.  

“Because of the permanent availability of provoking objects, it is continuously generated, and thus appears continuous in time.”

He also speaks of two other forms of self: the proto self, which we are unconscious of, and the autobiographical self, which is constructed from memories and future anticipations.  But the core self emerges as a “transient entity, ceaselessly re-created for each and every object with which the brain interacts.”  

When the object changes the organism, the organism then brings the object into better focus.  It is “set out” from other, less important objects.

“Attention is driven to focus an object and the result is saliency of the images of that object in mind.”

The Carlotta Valdez painting ‘changing’ ‘Madeleine Elster’ in Hitchcock’s classic, Vertigo.

The objects hold half of the deck.  Who knew!  When it comes to a sense of self, we are as much other as we are not other.  Things, people, scenery, thoughts, smells, memories all cause changes in us.  And these changes are what construct our senses of self!  

Watch a child delight at what he/she sees.  It becomes obvious that there is no end to stimulus.  As we get older, a lot of the stimulus is more under wraps, in streams of thought, and private feelings.  But it is amazing to think that any object causes a change.  Opening a window, tilting your head to see the blue sky for a moment, indulging in a nice memory or a plan for the future.  Changes.  Re-creation of self!

Though this is a Full Worm Moon, it speaks to the most human part of us. If we can know that objects change us, and that we constantly re-create ourselves from these changes, we can attempt to navigate a bit, and make the most out of this relationship. We can learn to listen to our changes and respect that they are trying to keep us on track, and towards a place of balance. We can seek out stimuli that treat us well, like a glorious Full Moon in Spring.

It’s the romantic story of the organism and the object. Aren’t they cute!

Happy changes and as always, Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

Mars into Taurus- the Will to Stabilize

In the light of recent events, this title’s concept will likely be quickly felt. Felt in the right spot too. That is the mysterious space of the internal mileu, where good and bad are physiologically known.

It is through the avoiding of what’s bad, and the seeking and assimilating of what’s good that keeps us in a state of homeostasis. Just imagine what would happen if we always ignored that good drink of water when we were thirsty, or took no precaution to step out of the way of that bad oncoming city bus.

These value judgments are constantly at play, in every moment. They make themselves known to us through feelings.

Feelings are, according to neuroscientist and author, Antonio Damasio, “mental experiences of body states”. He talks about certain feelings as “basic homeostatic feelings”, in that they help to regulate the stability of our internal milieu. Homeostasis, as he talks about it, is a two-sided process. One side is the automatic unconscious physiological side, where the heart goes on beating, etc. but the other side is conscious. It is conscious by means of these basic feelings. These feeling can include hunger, thirst, malaise, wellbeing, pleasure and certain types of pain. These are feeling that can become known to us.

He makes a point not to confuse feelings with emotion. Feelings are the mental experience, the awareness of what you feel. Emotions are, as implied by it’s name, all about motion. There is a stirring in the body, you can see the anger on someone’s face, or the joy in a smile. Feelings may also cause stirrings within the body, but they are, by nature, more reflective. And they serve to keep us on track with “managing life”, or in other words homeostasis.

An interesting point that Damasio makes about homeostasis is that it is not only meant for survival, but also for flourishing.

He says , “life is regulated within a range that is not just compatible with survival but also conducive to flourishing, to a projection of life into the future of an organism or a species”.

Taurus is this fascinating mystery of homeostasis. The management of life that happens from within an internal mileu in a relationship of constant response and action to it’s world in which it lives.

This past week, television all over the US displayed shocking video of violent disregard for our own nation’s right to stability. Stability not just understood as surviving but a chance to flourish as well. Such flourishing can only occur by listening to the promptings of our moral understandings. Understandings, as Damasio suggests,. are deeply embedded in our very physiology. In our internal mileu. Where we respond to our world, in each and every magic moment.

Mars went into Taurus on January 6th, after 7 long months in Aries. It will move into Gemini on March 3rd.

Happy astro pondering!