The (Active) Art of Loving. Venus enters Aries

In the previous post, the very verdant verity of an inner spring was examined via Erich Fromm’s two existential modes of “having” and “being”.  It seems natural to stick with Fromm for this next transit on Sunday March 21st, as Venus, the Love Goddess goes into action-oriented Aries.

Fromm begins his very popular book, The Art of Loving (1956), with this question:

“Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one “falls into” if one is lucky?”

As the title suggests, he believes it is an art.  A “faculty” rather than a “feeling”.  A verb rather than a noun.  He sees love as an “activity” rather than a “passivity”, centering primarily on giving rather than receiving.  

For Fromm, we have it all wrong when we try to make ourselves more lovable to attract love.  Thinking this way turns ourselves into self-made commodities, looking for the commodity in others that fit the bill.  The problem becomes a passive problem of being loved, rather than an active affirmation of our capacity to love.  

Fromm himself was an Aries, born right around the time of the vernal equinox.  Spring is a clear display of life, and for Fromm, so is the art of loving.  The name of his book is The Art of Loving, not The Art of Love.  Love, like life, is not a noun, but a verb.

And what does the dedicated artist of love give to others, and to the world?

Fromm says, “he gives his life”.  This, however, is not a sacrifice. He further explains,

“he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness—of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the other’s sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of aliveness. He does not give in order to receive; giving is in itself exquisite joy. But in giving he cannot help bringing something to life in the other person, and this which is brought to life reflects back to him.”

Maybe this is why springtime birds sing so much.  They are skilled and knowing artists practicing the liveliest art.  The art of loving.  

How can you turn love into a verb?  Venus will delight in Aries until April 14th, when it will cozy up in Taurus.

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johhnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

A Very Verdant Verity! Spring Begins.

On Saturday, March 20th, at 5:37 am, the Sun will move into Aries, commencing the vernal equinox, the long-awaited first day of spring.  

Buckminster Fuller said, “I seem to be a verb.”

There is some very verdant verity embedded in these words, and in this time of year, when life becomes obvious again. As the green takes back over the scene, we might ask ourselves, where does spring begin within?

Where is the verifiable and veracious place inside from which we renew ourselves?

From his last written book, To Have Or to Be? psychologist and philosopher, Erich Fromm described two primary modes in which people orient themselves to the world: the “having mode” and the “being mode”.

The “having mode” is based upon possessing and owning, whereas the “being mode” is more about “aliveness” and “authentic relatedness to the world”.  

He writes that modern society has become overly materialistic, and prefers “having” to “being”.  He sees this leading to a loss of one’s inner self.  An out-of-touchness with one’s own inner activity

Of the two modes he writes,

“Having refers to things and things are fixed and describable.  Being refers to experience, and human experience is in principle not describable.”

He asserts that in every mode of life, people should ponder more on the “being nature” and not towards the “having nature”.

“The mode of being has as its prerequisites, independence, freedom, and the presence of critical reason.  Its fundamental characteristic is that of being active, not in the sense of outward activity, of busyness, but of inner activity, the productive use of our human powers.” 

Happiness, from the having mode lies in “superiority over others”. From the being mode, it lies in “loving, sharing, giving.” This is the very verdant peace and naturalness of green. The ease on our eyes and in our hearts. No games, just truth. Just aliveness, in relating to the aliveness in others and the world, and not in some deadened status-charade.

Is this why the Ram’s horns turn inwards?  Inwards to a place of verdant inner activity?  Towards a true and vernal orientation?  The place where “I” is a verb? Life is you, you are life?

Novelist Charlotte Perkin Gilman said “life is a verb not a noun.”

Some scientists now believe that life may have begun on Mars, symbolically the primordial verb.

A very verdant verb indeed.  Verifiable in the vernal internalness.  

Happy first day of Spring and as always, happy astro pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand.

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

Negative Capability and the Real World of All Streams. Mercury enters Pisces.

Mercury moves into Pisces on Monday, March 15th, joining the effortless harmonics of the Sun, Venus and Neptune.  Into the vibrant vibrato goes the trickster, to see what can be seen through the ultimate fish-eyed lenses.  

Having moved through Aquarius since the start of the year, there has been healthy turbulence in the streams of thought.  The turbulence has oxygenated the water, and created fresh negative ions.  The atmosphere is like that after a rainstorm, perceptually speaking.  How can you make the most out of these new lenses?  This new soft vision of synthesis?

For starters, soft vision is not to be confused with blurriness.  Soft vision is a receptive mental act.  At its ultimate, it is what John Keats referred to as ‘negative capability’, a kind of negation of the personality so as to be as open as possible to all different points of view.  Shakespeare was said to be an expert in negative capability as his characters diversified from each other with  such rich complexities, yet Shakespeare the man remains quite a mystery.  

To have negative capability is to be satisfied with ‘half-knowledge’ and not impatient to reach firm conclusions that would undermine the complexities of experience.

Keats said, “Let the mind be a thorough fare of thoughts” rather than a “select party of beliefs.”

Pisces vision is like a waterfall.  Not only a stream of consciousness, but the real world of all streams.  The real world of all accumulated thought, Chardin’s ‘noosphere’.  The reality that if libraries were to contain all the written works of history, and then the human race was nearly wiped out, a new generation could use this knowledge instead of starting from scratch.    

When Mercury is in Pisces, the real world of all streams is more apparent.  There is a desire to synthesize, and to open your senses as wide as they can go.  Through the lenses of the fish, peripheries are extended and centers are strengthened.  Outside of the hard outlines of a fact and reason, the mind gets a holiday, and can begin to think about nothing, which can lead to everything, as Einstein and other geniuses have proved.  

Mercury will be in Pisces until April 3rd when it will burst forth in willful Aries. 

Happy soft eyes, happy open mind, and as always, happy astro pondering!

Astro art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

Fusing Fact and Value. New Moon in Pisces

A New Moon in Pisces is in store for us this Saturday.  New Moons “hide” from us, thus they hold a signature of privacy. With the archetype of Pisces, the most inward of all signs, the privacy dimension gains more depth.  Throw in the fact that harmonizing Venus and mystery-of-mysteries Neptune are right there too, and we have, what seems like, a romantic quest.  To the inner-most bounds!  A loving quest for the universe within! 

Psychologist, Abraham Maslow saw this quest to be paramount to discovering a person’s “isness”.  This “isness” is very important, because in knowing this, one can find their “oughtness”.  Maslow saw this as a crucial fusing of fact and value, is and ought. 

 In a storybook, this “is” would be the landscape, conditions, and basic reality of the hero.  The “ought” would be the hero’s desires and visions.  The ultimate question, or quest of the story would be: can the facts of reality merge with the value of the vision?  

Maslow applies this dynamic recipe for good ficiton straight to our own sense of well-being.  Of the person willing to look inward to his “isness” he says,

“The more he knows about his own nature, his deep wishes, his temperament, his constitution, what he seeks and yearns for and what really satisfies him, the more effortless, automatic, and epiphenomenal becomes his value choices… Discovering one’s own nature is simultaneously an ought quest and is quest.

This is celestial music straight from the effortless graces of Pisces and Venus.  A song that is no song at all, like John Cage’s 4:33.  

Notice that when he talks about discovering one’s inner nature he focuses on “deep wishes” as well as “temperament” and “constitution”.  It’s a balanced inventory- a real assessment, but an assessment of a hero/ heroinne, and all that he/she seeks and yearns for.

Don’t even think about taking the romance out of your “isness”!  And at the same time, two feet on the ground please. 

Will you indulge in the Fishes inner plunge tonight and alchemize some facts and values?  

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand.

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

The Planets Align, But How Are They Mine? Quadruple Formation in Aquarius.

Have you ever experienced the sublime satisfaction of tidying up a room? Have you ever been near-mystified by the way things just “worked out?”, or how things just, “fell into place?”

This Wednesday evening, the sky display a pretty pattern of order and meaning. Three planets will line up perfectly in an ascending diagonal line, with the Crescent Moon nearby.

The faintest light on the bottom will be Mercury, followed by Jupiter, the brightest. At the height of the diagonal will be Saturn. All of them, and the Moon, will be in the existential sign of Aquarius.

Writer philosopher Colin Wilson said that existentialism was a “philosophy of intuition”. Unlike Sartre and Camus, he saw the world as inherently meaningful, with the only thing blocking us from such meaning being our own “sensory blinders”. Ultimately, his existentialism was based on optimism just as much as realism. He saw the “feelings of inner freedoms” to be intimately bound with an effective “grasp on reality”.

“It is as impossible to exercise freedom in an unreal world as it is to jump while you are falling.”

Colin Wilson, The Outsider

With the planet of optimism and intuition blazing the brightest in the center of the lineup, its a perfect evening to ponder the vital hunches of a cheery existentialist.

Our perceptions are Mercury, the faintest light at the bottom. Faintest by design, for they keep the chaos of stimulus ordered for us. We can walk down the street without feeling bombarded by sounds, sensations and sights. Our selectivity saves us, yet it also keeps us away from our full reality.

For full reality, we have to find places of correspondences; how our physical reality corresponds to us in a personal, meaningful way. In this way we can sense our interior power, which Wilson also refers to as our reality.

Sensing our interior power is to abolish the notion that we are passive creatures. In fact, he correlates passivity with an increasing sense of unreality. If we can, for a moment, embrace his maxim that “perception is intentional”, we can begin to see how passivity really can blur reality.

“The sense of order and meaning is a direct stimulus of the will, and even mere perception springs from a will to perceive .”

Colin Wilson, Existential Criticism, The Chicago Review 1959

What does this twinkly display of order correspond to in you?

Can you feel an interior power arise in recognizing this correspondence?

Can you feel… your reality?

Saturn the planet of reality winks from the top of the line.

Happy star-gazing and as always, happy astro pondering!

Astro art by Johnnie Day Durand.

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

Waking the Word. Mars enters Gemini 3/3

After a 2 month journey dedicated to finding better stability, the red planet now embarks into the quizzical domain of Gemini. Nothing is straight forward when it comes to the Twins. They represent objective thought, yet they are tricksters. They are two, yet they lie. They are perception, as well as perceptions’ tricks.

Giggling all the way, the Twins welcome Mars on Wednesday, 3/3. Wednesday and 3 both belong to the trickster, with Gemini being the 3rd sign and Wednesday attributed to Mercury (Gemini’s ruling planet). The willful hero is about to go through the looking glass in search of the Twin’s treasures.

Gemini looks at the world objectively. In philosophy, objectivity is the concept of truth independent from individual subjectivity. For example, the tree that you climbed on in childhood is just a tree and not the loving supporting wooden arms that supported you in your triumph of independence.

And here is where the Twins start to giggle. They know that it isn’t truly possible to separate the tree in such a way from the onlooker whose experience has helped constitute for them that special tree.

Just like identical twins, Gemini was once one, not two.

The two used to be one!

Writer, philosopher Owen Barfield discovered that by studying words (Gemini delight!) one can see how consciousness is evolving. He says that all words have deeper meanings that fade over time, and that their deeper meanings reflect a time when life was very differently experienced.

As Barfield sees it, early humans existed in what he calls “original participation”, living “inside the world’s unity.” At some point, however we became free from the world’s unity. Free to think, and perceive things for ourselves, from our own centers of subjectivity.

We became free, but now we don’t see the full reality.

In original participation, thinking and perceiving were one. The games of the Twins had not yet begun.

Barfield sees subjectivity as not just something that comes out of nothing, but rather a form of consciousness that has contracted from reality’s peripheries into individual centers. The inner meanings of things is the inward truth of nature, and of ourselves.

By ignoring inner meanings, and being content with only the outer meanings, Barfield warns that we have produced a “world of outsides with no insides to them”.

Mars commits to moving forward into Gemini’s gifts. What is Gemini’s purpose? If we have split from the world’s unity in the name of freedom, what are we becoming free for?

Barfield sees this question answered by means of a new phase of consciousness. He refers to this phase as final participation, and sees it to be based around our creative use of the imagination, to actively restore for ourselves the world’s unity. With imagination’s ability to enlarge a meaning, by the power of its full expression, we can begin to taste that original sense of wholeness, while also maintaining our full subjective freedoms.

“Mere perception — perception without imagination — is the sword thrust between spirit and matter.”

Owen Barfield, The Rediscovery of Meaning and Other Essays

No better time to embrace such a concept as now, is the midst of Pisces Season.

Rev up those engines of curiosity! Mars will be in Gemini until April 23rd, giving you plenty of time to tackle the twin’s illusions and transcend their tricks, enlivening what you see to a fuller reality deemed true by the inwardness of nature, and yourself!

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

The Force of Union. Venus Enters Pisces.

Venus will drift into Pisces on Thursday, February 25th, following her trek in Aquarius. Joining the Sun in the most elusive of Seasonal signs, she re-frames her ultimate questions to the key of the fish.

Her questions are always those of relating. In Pisces she confronts the whole universe! Its mystery, her own mystery. Though Pisces represents the whole universe, it is the innermost of signs. Its notion of wholeness comes with a large dose of mystique.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said “Fuller being is closer union.” He goes on to say,

“union increases only through an increase in consciousness, that is to say vision.  And that, doubtless, is why the history of the living world can be summarized as the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes within a cosmos in which there is always something more to be seen.”

Venus in Pisces radiates with the essence of something more to be seen. It is her original gift of je-ne-sais-quoi. As she opens her heart to a cosmological guarantee of always more she strengthens her own sense of allure, and her relationship with a true sense of wholeness.

Always something more to be seen

Goethe’s Faust ends with the line: “the eternal feminine draws us upward.” Certainly a mysterious statement. It seems to elude to an energy worth contemplating on.

Chardin saw all energy to be psychic energy, falling into two distinct categories: tangential and radial.

Tangential energy is related to physical energy; the way fire burns wood, water erodes rock, etc. This is a force that always leads to entropy. The things lose their order.

Radial energy, on the other hand draws elements “towards ever greater complexity and centricity- in other words forwards.” He called this energy “the force of union, drawing elements onward and upward, and manifesting itself ultimately in love.” (my italics)

This is starting to sound a lot like the eternal feminine!

Radial energy operates from center to center. If we look again at the sign of Pisces, it is easy to see this as a possible hint of radial energy.

PISCES Symbol - Vinyl Decal in 2021 | Pisces constellation tattoo, Pisces,  Symbols
Two outer edges of circles connecting from their centers?

And perhaps the reason it isn’t two full circles is because that is the dynamic part: to relate to someone or something or a place, from your very center in hope of finding a sense of wholeness.

To relate to something from your center, is then, to anticipate a sense of wholeness, eternal mystery and all! Sounds like Venus has her happy work cut out for her. And you do too!

Venus will be in Pisces until March 21st, when she will burst forth in Aries.

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

We Were All Born Poets. Pisces Season Begins.

Philosopher Gaston Bachelard said, “we are all born poets, whether we like it or not.” Pisces is the sign of poetry, the rhyme of time, the wish of the fish, the gleam of the dream. The Sun will go into Pisces Thursday, February 18th. Are you feeling open to a poetic awakening within? Are you wondering where to start?

For Bachelard, the poetic image is “the flare-up of being in the imagination”. He says “One must be receptive, receptive to the image at the moment it appears.” If we can perceive the poetic image in this way we can experience the “ecstasy of the newness” and a “sudden salience on the surface of the psyche.”

The antithesis to this kind of poetic consciousness is the robotic consciousness that tells us “there is nothing new under the sun”. Robotic consciousness de-values a moment, where as poetic consciousness not only restores its full value but stands in awe of the power of an instant, a moment of emergence, where time is disrupted and there is an element of surprise.

“This world of Imagination is the World of Eternity.” -William Blake

There is still quite a lot of Aquarian activity in the sky, including a potent square between Saturn and Uranus. Saturn is time and Uranus is a shaking. There is a strong existential quaking happening, and anxiety is likely to be felt. Anxiety, by Kierkegaard’s definition is the “dizziness of freedom”, the effect of confronting the boundlessness of ones possibilities.

But if we can keep a few key ideas in place, we are likely to get more out of this disrupted sense of time, and the quaking of a boundless existential angst. As the Sun goes into Pisces, so too do our hearts illumine in this softer light. This is a soft poetic light, a “flicker of the soul” when we perceive the specific reality of something in its moment of its emergence. We are reminded that, as Bachelard says, “being is already a value”, and a certain bounded internal mystery soothes an over-thinking mind.

If we can trust, even for an instant, that this poetic sense is our origin, then we may be able to connect to an oceanic power within, and all its gifts of psychic renewal. As Owen Barfield said, “the poet, while creating something anew, is likely to be in a sense, restoring something old.”

If we can look forward to that “sudden salience on the surface of the psyche”, we can shift from robot to poet, restoring something old by creating something new.

Pisces, the fish are natural-born swimmers, and the poem, in an instant, finds its strength in the shimmer.

Happy astro pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

Nothing Happens Until Something Moves. New Moon in Aquarius

In 1936 a not-yet-famous Tennessee William sat in the audience of Ibsens’ play “Ghosts.” But he didn’t sit for long. The play soon moved him so much that it moved him straight out of his seat and he had to pace up and down in the back aisle.

This Thursday the 11th, we have a New Moon in Aquarius, the sign of the Water Bearer, the sign of us, of human beings, with full potential to feel things and allow ourselves to be moved.

You can practically see movement in Aquarius’ glyph of two wavy lines.

Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves. When something vibrates, the electrons of the entire universe resonate with it. Everything is connected.”

Most of the planets in the sky are currently buzzing in Aquarius. Uranus, the planet associated with Aquarius is in the self-sustaining sign of Taurus, along with Mars, resonating like a Tibetan singing bowl over the rest of the buzz.

Taurus, often associated with money, is also the notion of taking stock in something. Just think what would have not happened if Tennessee Williams put no stock in the emotion that propelled him off his seat.

What has been moving you lately? Anything worthy of taking stock in? Anything worthy of cultivating?

The movement you feel might be strong enough to propel you off your seat, but it also might be more subtle. A special shift, and all of a sudden some chemicals inside stir. Maybe you feel a quickening of energy. Maybe the other side of the universe feels it too!

The movement of Aquarius’ wavy lines hint at the magic of feedback loops, always at work in the present moment.

Alfred North Whitehead said “What we perceive as the present is the vivid fringe of memory tinged with anticipation.”    

That sure adds a dose of dynamism to the moment! The fringe of memory and the tinge of anticipation, fringe and tinge! Vibrating sounds, vibration abounds!

These feedback loops show the logic of an optimistic attitude (i.e don’t let that fringe sabotage the tinge and vice versa!) Such a correspondence also shows the grand potential of letting art, love, or anything else move us.

Put some stock in those special emotions!

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/



Uncommon Common Sense. Venus Enters Aquarius

Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common”. Venus, the Goddess of the senses glides into Aquarius today, the sign of the uncommon, but also the common, as in the common good.

Aquarius strives towards a universal brotherhood and also celebrates the uncommon qualities that makes an individual unique.

Your own uniqueness is, in a sense, your own otherness. What happens when Venus enters the scene, with her magic love potion?

Does a love for the otherness of yourself also inspire a love for the otherness of others? Is this part of the evolutionary recipe for universal brotherhood?

Evolution-savvy Aquarius is freely unique without ever losing sight of the humanity that unites.

Unique yet united in humanity. Seems like common sense.

Sometimes however, we forget to look for otherness. Our robotic selves tell us that there is no need for otherness, and just to look for ourselves in what we see, hear and read.

Fran Lebowitz said “A book is not supposed to be a mirror. It’s supposed to be a door.”

What uncommon common sense this is!

And so much more romantic!

A door opens one up to learning something new, a mirror shows you, yourself! A door opening is like a horizon resuming its stretch, a unique musical score uniting an audience! Where you are is different, but there is a mysterious warm glow of unity.

With so many planets already buzzing in Aquarius, Venus is fashionably late to the party. Her eyes wide and perfectly original. Like a salt-lamp disco ball, Aquarian-ruled Uranus puts a dynamic square on the party, upping the existential questions of what truly matters and strengthens us.

By the 25th of this month she will float into dreamy Pisces- but until then- it is the uncommon common sense that propels her look, listen and reach out for rejuvenating otherness.

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. Voltaire

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/