“My World” is a children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. My son and I read this at night under a cactus light with a symphony of crickets out our window. The opening page shows a mother reading to her child by a fire. The words are “The pages turn, the fire burns.”
Maybe this is what got me thinking about the nature of time. Some time seems to turn, but some time seems to burn. Some time comes back around and some time trailblazes the future and celebrates the spirit. These two kinds of times blend together yet they are inherently different. One is bound to law and one is free. One is used to gain more control and one is lived to live as lively as possible. One is a clock and one is a flower. One is a wheel. What is the shape of the other? What is the shape of the spirited time that burns meaning deep into one’s soul? What is the shape of living?
The wheel of the zodiac turns. Its twelve archetypes carry the meaning of the seasons that turn. The meaning of the seasons is so charged that it goes beyond the snow and heat. It extends into the mystery of the seasons of life, and all the relations of living. The wheel turns and time folds in on itself. What emerges from this motion is the potential for more and more meaning. New meaning. Fresh meaning. Fresh light.
The wheel is really a generator. A maker of more light. The pages turn but the fire burns.
I began to think about the existential side of time. Some time is “heights” and some time is “depths”. Some time is more middle ground. The heights of time are the joys, the unbridled laughter, the perfection of a day. This time rushes over the body like a shower of effervescence. There is no possible way to deny the body’s ownership of such time. It is embedded. It isn’t turning on an abstract clock. It is burning in the heights of one’s heart.
“Depth” time carries a force of memory and a sense of belonging. Depth time can anchor you “home” or polarize you to “true north”. It can also sink you with despair. Depth time carries the echoes of your ancestors, and the echoes of your most desired dreams. Its gravity is also undeniably in the body. It can easily smolder with the blend of heights. It can threaten to dampen the fires of joy. It does best when feelings are interpreted truthfully, and handed off to the logic of the middle ground.
“Middle ground” time is for managing the business of living. Our bodies are blessed with the genius of nervous systems. All of the information and interaction that we encounter gets integrated into the “system” of the body. The world is wide and full of information. The body is deep and full of mystery. The middle ground is where these places meet. Biofeedback has evolved for centuries. Our systems are cutting edge. The middle ground time is the coolness of logic, the sureness of morality, the sensations of physicality.
My new question was: if time is a wheel that turns, how does this other “time” move? Is there any order to it? My instinct said yes.
When you think of nature, what comes to your mind? Take a moment and think about it. Maybe you hear some birds singing, some trees blowing in the breeze. Maybe you see some light sparkling along a river. Maybe you see ice covering mountaintops, fish darting in the sea, tigers charging across the Sahara or caterpillars inching along a bright green leaf. Maybe you feel the crisp caress of autumn air, the hot sand sinking beneath your feet, the pelting rain or the crunch of snow. Now think about the fact that all of this activity is happening now, all around the world. So much activity. Impossible to measure.
In any frame of nature at any point in time, activity is bustling. It may be overt as a flock of seagulls diving for fish or as unassuming as a seemingly empty field of grass. But a closer look at the field reveals a teaming of activity. The insects are bustling, the seeds are sprouting, the elements and nutrients are dancing about in their chemical exchanges. The symphony of activity is the bliss of nature. The Earth that never sleeps appears as a peaceful blue green sphere.
Compare the gentle chirping of one cricket outside your window to the wash of hundreds of crickets chirping in a meadow. The wash of activity is the serenity of nature. Nature is not the business of half-hearted pursuits. It is the height of bustling activity. The interrelated bustle is nature’s peace.
A waterfall crashes down upon rocks. Its immeasurable power is its deep peace. Its magnitude is its health. A bee collects nectar from a sun soaked flower. Its purpose and competence is its joy.
The two ingredients that make up nature’s secret sauce are activity and relating. No animal, plant or amoeba ever forgets this to be primary. Activity is happily married to a sense of purpose. You simply don’t see a woodpecker taking no interest in trees. Relating is the activity, and interrelating is the many activities coming into harmony together, like the wash of crickets in the meadow.
The light of spirit is too bright to go unrecognized. A dolphin leaping out from the sea is a triumph, a celebration. A little proud bird on top of a pine tree is the universal anthem of self belief, backed by the power of nature and its bustle of activity.
Spiritedness is without limit. Deep peace is without limit. These things are one and the same. In the heights of joyous activity and movement come the deepest feelings of peace. The wash of a cricket meadow is the electricity within you. You only need to tune in.
The biggest difference between the original wheel of the zodiac and the toroidal zodiac lies in how we approachthe matter of time.
The wheel of the zodiac shows the horoscope: a snapshot of the planets and luminaries at a given moment in time. Horo is Latin for hour. The clock is also a wheel and shows the cyclic nature of time. The wheel turns round and round with time’s ‘circle games’ as Joni Mitchel sings. The horoscope puts emphasis on the cyclic, or repeated, patterns of time.
The wheel is the shape of cyclic time. In understanding cyclic time, we can better grow; crops, wellness, knowledge and consciousness.
In other words, the horoscope puts an emphasis on time for the sake of growth.
The toroscope simply does the opposite; it puts emphasis on growth for the sake of time.
When I say that the toroscope puts emphasis on growth for the sake of time I am not referring to the time of calendars and watches. The time I am speaking about is closer to the circadian rhythm found in the body, but with more nuance. Nature’s biorhythms may wake you up with the rising sun but your own nature’s rhythms get more personal. Your own nature’s rhythms respond to things like getting back on track with an important project, or taking a stand for something that matters.
Rhythms don’t even get close enough to the crux of what this ‘time’ is. A better word is momentum. One’s momentum moves forward just like time. We can’t own time, but we can own our momentum. This kind of time is called thymos. It is a spirited connection to our own momentum. It is the only kind of time that is truly free.
The wheel of the zodiac shows our complex use of the knowledge of time. Whether it serves to plant a sturdy crop or reflect on symbolic inner changes, the wheel of time is used as a map. Just like a watch or a calendar, this moving map allows us more control over the lives we lead.
The North American Railway adopted a standardized way of keeping time in 1883. Finally someone could plan to take a train and arrive at the ‘right time’. If you are late, that is the wrong time and you will have to try again later.
Nowadays it is hard to conceive going about your day with no idea of what the ‘right time’ is. Your phone, your car, your watch, that clock all stare back at you, locking you into a truthful and agreed upon ‘right time’.
But what about your own ‘right time’? What about the idea of rightness mixed with momentum? How often do you consider this question?
With a clock, you pinpoint a right time that will cycle back to be ‘right’ again twelve hours later. With momentum this isn’t the case. Momentum, like true time, only moves forward. A question of ‘rightness’ when it comes to momentum can only ask about ‘right direction’. There is only one ‘right direction’; forward. Evolution marches uphill.
Clocks and calendars are tools. We connect to their meanings and use them to gain more control. Though we can control showing up to a train on time, we can’t control time itself. Unless it is our own “time”; our own momentum. Momentum is the only kind of time we can control. To be in better and better control of our own momentum is what we are after. Toro is Latin for bull, the archetype of Taurus. Toro also means “to steer”.
We are powerhouses of electromagnetism. Momentums swirl beneath the surface of everyone you meet. There are lifetimes of information stored within these powerhouses largely forgotten but never lost. Momentum guides us all, half asleep.
At any moment on any day, our chemistry is in flux. Something as basic as the weather outside will cause a shift in our momentum and influence our behavior. Consciousness is what enables us to grapple with the future. It provides the potential for better control over one’s momentum in the right direction, which is forward, Times’ arrow moves forward.
In the zodiac, the sign that is represented by the arrow is Sagittarius, the centaur. The true center (centaur) of a torus field can only be an ‘aim’. Life doesn’t build itself in any other way. Life centers on aiming and aspiring. There is no foundation sturdier than this. Time is an arrow, like evolution. It moves one way, and makes that one way known as ‘right’. Forward is right. Forward is evolution.
It seems a good idea to strive to relate to one’s own momentum as if it were a favorite watch. There is much more nuance to momentum’s version of forward, but when we lock in on that feeling it can be as true as the bell of London’s Big Ben.
Some time moves in cycles. It circles back to where it was as the seasons continue to turn, turn , turn. But another kind of time asks you to make the turn, and commit to steering your own momentum. Your readiness to accept this challenge is your thymos.
Are you a dog person or a cat person? Dogs and cats have been a roommate to mankind for millenia. Why is this? Do we see something in them? Do they see something in us?
I think we do. I think they do. I think what is shared is a kindred affinity for play.
Dogs and cats both play but they play in very different ways.
As any cat owner knows, introduce something new, feathery and fast moving into its environment and the cat will seem at the mercy of its own spontaneous delight. Eyes rapidly darting about, the paw starts swinging as if it feels the lord’s presence and before you know it, a full body slam into a wall because the cat can’t contain its own delight and joy.
The cat is a solar animal. Leo the lion is a solar archetype, with its golden mane portraying the rays of the sun. To play like a cat or to play in a solar way is to play spontaneously with whatever is presenting itself into your field of experience. This is the secret of a good actor who responds to the created circumstance of the stage, the changing existence that buzzes around him. The audience is swooned in the presence of creative spontaneity. When a comedian responds creatively to a heckler the audience often laughs the hardest because the spontaneity is so enlivening.
Philosopher Henri Bergson saw laughter to be an evolutionary strategy. He said that in general we laugh at “something mechanical encrusted upon the living.” A person walking down the street isn’t funny, but when their flow of vitality turns into a clunky mechanical breakdown of them slipping on a banana peel, we are cajoled into laughing. Something mechanical encrusted upon the living.
The cat guards against us becoming robots. The cat in us will laugh at a robotic response, like those of a deadpan comedian because it recognizes something that it fundamentally does not identify with: a robot.
The cat stays supple and stretchy because it refuses to become automatized. The cat felt like sleeping on your bed last night but not tonight. He came over when you called him today but won’t tomorrow. The cat will not be automated. The cat stays supple and spontaneous, and at the delighted mercy of bright fast moving feathers.
Dogs play differently. While a cat couldn’t care less about bringing you back the ball that you threw, a dog is overjoyed to complete the cycle of that game. While a cat acts like he didn’t even realize that you came home after 8 hours, a dog is bubbling over with the joy of your return.
Dogs love the rules of the game. They love committing to them, learning them and mastering them. Unlike the cat, rules don’t encroach upon the dog’s sense of freedom. On the contrary, the rules allow their freedom to soar. They become experts at fetch. They become our faithful soulmates. They enjoy the privileges of venturing out into the world because they follow a set of rules; don’t run away, don’t bite, don’t pee indoors.
The dog is a lunar animal, as symbolized by the wolf who howls at the moon. The moon is all about finding a sense of inner security, through the home, the family, but also your private inner life. The moon is the subconscious, who plays just like a dog.
Before the dog of your subconscious knows the rules of the game, you struggle to stay balanced with the bike. Falling down teaches your subconscious mind what works and what doesn’t. Once the rules are learned you are able to ride effortlessly, without even thinking of it. The loyal, rule-loving dog of your subconscious allows you to put your mind on other things while he rides the bicycle. What a good dog.
The dog is skilled, effortlessly, and with each new skill he better navigates his world.
Everyone wants to be effortlessly skilled and everyone wants to have more fun. But the time involved in learning a new skill often daunts a person away from even beginning. Having fun is generally reserved for ‘free time’ on a rare Saturday afternoon, under the right weather conditions.
But the wisdom of the sun and moon declares that time, married happily to the body is free. Learning and laughing are by-products of spirited time as a light builds inside.
Fun and finesse are what come out of our most precious birthright: spirited response.
With a spirited response, one builds light inside and stores energy. This is the uphill march of evolution, a move against entropy. Moving against the flow of entropy is the most basic characteristic of life.
At some point in the grand evolutionary chain of life, a molecule wised up and decided to store energy instead of lose it.
It is misdirected to place all of the capacity for the growth of spirit onto the growth of money. This leads immediately to what philosopher Erich Fromm saw as a catastrophe, as humans begin to alienate from their true natures because they see themselves and others as commodities. Love becomes a cheap transaction instead of an art. A thing instead of a verb. Life itself begins to turn to stone.
This is not the way. Growth has to be centered on the spirit, which is centered in the body, and relates to its world in search of truth.
Growth of the spirit promotes unity in the complex fragments of personality. It finds a worthy direction for a powerhouse of unknown energy deep within. The powerhouse builds and builds based on all actions taken in the past, and the past stretches back until no one knows. Nature has many secrets. Not only does nature have secrets, its mystery is worthy of our deepest understanding and fiercest protection.
Just as the very nature of our planet continues to be threatened, so too does human nature.
We ignore listening to the needs of our planet just as we ignore listening to the needs of our natures.
To underestimate the need for an individual’s growth of spirit is to turn our backs from the future of humanity.
Discovering your place of spirited response seems at first so private, and maybe even self-indulgent, but it points true north towards a better tomorrow for everyone.
Finding that relationship where reality coaxes forth a spirited response readies one to find a rightful place in society. This is not selfish at all! In a world whose inhabitants are growers of spiritedness there is an important role for everyone.
As Joseph Campbell put it “everyone talks about saving the world but you’re not here to save the world, you’re here to save yourself. But in doing that you save the world. A vital person vitalizes.”
The Copernican revolution restored the sun to its rightful center as a stable nucleus to our solar system. The previous Geocentric model held the earth at the center. The paradigm shift upon us now is in acknowledging the existential truth of TWO CENTERS; the earth and the sun.
The earth is not only a planet, it is also the physical body, deep in which there is another sun.
This other sun is experienced. It is a sun that rises in our bodies and affirms our existence. It is the feeling of yes.
Our task is in recognizing a true center inside the body, where earth and fire meet. This paradigm shift is a return to the powers of our own individual natures, unique and separate yet united and part of the whole. Such an orientation honors the laws of quantum physics which says you cannot take the observer out of the observed!
The two centers of fire and earth meet high in the heart, building thymos, a spiritedness. Thymos is time that matters. It is experiential and biological, real and spiritual. This time is not wasted. It is stored inside, reversing the law of entropy. The most basic quality of life is its ability to reverse entropy, to store order instead of losing it. All of us can learn to build thymos, a spiritedness, and in doing so restore order to our unique and beautiful natures.
The thymus gland shrinks when our bodies stop growing. Our spirits, our thymos, should never stop growing. We must learn to practice growing it.
We had two significant planetary shifts at the end of last week. Mercury’s stream of thought had been scanning the broadest horizons of Libra, and then vortexed into Scorpio in search of deeper meanings. Venus had been preferring Sagittarian heights and big-picture orientations, but then switched her fancy to Capricorn’s goal-oriented, hard-working point of view. We have moved from broad and high to deep and narrow. There is a theme of focus, more specifically a narrowed focus, to unlock latent powers.
Teilhard de Chardin says that man evolved in such a way with narrowed eyes and freed up limbs so that he could bring his hands to his face in deep concentration. Thus reflective thought was born and the rest is a very interesting history.
But what if when Galileo brought his telescope to his face he saw, among the glittering stars, a pop-up ad for a Chevrolet. What if Thoreau brought an ipad to Walden pond, or Shakespeare concerned himself with a number of ‘follower’? What if candlelight never once bounced upon a word as its ink began to dry?
Modern devices come with a slew of distractions and a narrowed focus becomes ever the more challenging.
On the other hand, imagine if some of these ancient thinkers, scientists and artists had, at their fingertips, a whole library of the noosphere, like we do. Our virtual world is a skeleton key to all kinds of knowledge, ideas and inspiration.
The question becomes how can we use our tools without being used by them? We sure have become adept at bringing our hands to our face but how can we ensure that the original goal of doing this doesn’t get lost in the sauce? This planetary shift is an invitation to find a way back to an evolutionary drive. An awakening of latent powers through the phenomenon of focus.
More than twice as massive as all the other planets combined, Jupiter can be felt as a bigness. After 4 months of retrograde, the bigness moves forward today in Aquarius, the sign of future. Also moving forward today is Mercury, the planet of mind, in the open air of Libra. Will you open your mind to find a bigness worth getting excited about pertaining to your future? Your future could be an evening plan or a distant dream- just so long as it is ahead. If you can make this dream/plan big, you will be in swift step with the gods!
I would love to hear what big dreams or plans you are thinking! Write yours in the comments!
Kierkegaard famously said, “Life can only be understood backwards: but it must be lived forwards.”
Understanding things is the mind’s job, represented in the zodiac by Mercury, the quick-silvered Messenger of the Gods. It moves forward very quickly, faster than any other planet in our solar system. But 3 times a year, it gives the illusion of moving backwards and we find ourselves in the spell of Mercury retrograde for about 3 weeks. Good thing Mercury is the planet of mind, which is good at understanding life in a backwards fashion. Mercury goes retrograde at the beginning of this week on Monday, September 27th and will continue its moonwalk until October 17th. As we continue to live forward, let’s also see how well we can employ our minds to look backwards, and better understand the lives we lead.
Looking back is synonymous with reflection. When you look in a mirror, there you are as a reflection looking back at yourself. As Bob Dylan sang,
When you wake up in the morning, baby, look inside your mirror
You know I won’t be next to you, you know I won’t be near.
I’d just be curious to know if you could see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind.
In this romantic instance, a lover’s reflection, far away from her, wagered to be stronger than the actual reflection looking back at her from a mirror right in front of her.
Distance is of little importance when it comes to the power of mind. The Extended Mind Thesis, created by philosophers David Chalmers and Andy Clarke states that the mind extends into the world by use of tools and other minds. The idea is that just like a prosthetic limb can become part of a body, technology such as computers or even notebooks become part of our minds. You say you know the time and then look at your watch, or that you know where something is then consult your smartphone. Your mind extends into your environment.
And then there’s the matter of other minds! Other people’s ideas allow us to think of thoughts that we never otherwise would have. Just think how limited our minds would be if ideas were never shared! Ideas are like oxygen, the air we share.
Thinking and looking back has a wide network of assistance. It isn’t just you alone in your head indulging in some “me time”. It is your mind, out in the world, entangled with the ideas that have inspired you, shaped by the people who you love and admire, made more efficient by the tools you use.
When you reflect, when you look back, certain things can happen that simply can’t happen while looking forward. Threads show up and some declare themselves as common. Dots appear that beg to be connected. Patterns emerge. Connections converge. Before you know it, you are sitting in the middle of a movie that has a definite plot. It is this kind of 4th wall shattering that credits Mercury as a bonafide trickster. “Down in front” yells Bugs from the back of the theater.
That’s right, it’s a wascally wetwogwade, with you in the center of it.
This year has been a year of air sign retrogrades for Mercury. After retrograding in Aquarius through most of February, and Gemini through most of June, we are now looking into most of October with a Libra retrograde. Above all, Libra is an otherness.
No matter how much your reflection in the mirror looks like you, it is still fundamentally not you. The otherness of who looks back at you in the mirror is similar to the otherness of your mind as it extends into the world. Silver provides the best reflection, and remember, Mercury is liquid silver. It is fast moving silver, reflecting with a silly symphony of extensions from notebooks to neighbors. It is you and not you. The more not you it is the more you you may become. That is to say, the more you embrace the tools and inspiring ideas that surround you, the more you may come to understand the life you live, and feel a fuller sense of who you are.
Maybe that is why we can see the rabbit in a Full Moon.
Labor Day comes this year on a New Moon in Virgo, a sign that like no other, knows the magic of timing.
If it weren’t for timing, no one would have ever figured out how to grow things from the ground. Plant seeds at the wrong time and nothing will happen, harvest at the wrong time and the bounty is lost. Through her diligent observation of nature’s timing, Virgo flourishes alongside her craft.
Some say that timing is everything. Miles Davis famously said, “Timing isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” Some credit their success to being in the right place at the right time.
One thing is for sure: nature has certain right times and right places. What is also true is that human nature has the right times and places as well.
Rightness is embedded in our very anatomy, as feelings inform our moral reasoning. It has been said that Pythagoras believed the entire cosmos to be constructed of right triangles.
Time is cumulative, like character, like meaning. It builds upon itself, like good music. Just as a crowd can’t help but join in on the chorus, sometimes a time becomes so ripe that one can’t help but join in on its promptings, sing along, jump into a strong moving current, do that thing that your nature is screaming at you to do.
Everyone longs for those right moments, when the stars align and things go right. As a matter of fact, on Labor Day 6 planets will be in trine aspect, an aspect that favors easiness, smoothness, even luck!
Virgo has another key to the puzzle, however. In her natural humility she does what is so often forgotten to be done. She listens. Just like the original farmers listening to the land, she listens to what her surroundings are relaying to her own nature. The right angles of the cosmos are the right angles of her body’s feedback. The sphere of her surroundings include the cosmos. The growing circle of her timing, which may also be called a spiral, includes what Emerson called “the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation.”
It’s not so much that she prays for luck, or right timing, but rather she enjoys a certain interplay; between the motions of her surroundings and how they speak to the motions of her inner life. Her dance partner is the arena of life. Her own control comes with her dominions over time. She makes a humble pledge to cultivate timing, and thus cultivate her life, her character.
Timing is alive in the present which is beyond description.
Timing is at your disposal at any moment. Pause even a word in a sentence and you can change a whole meaning, as any actor or comedian knows.
There is power in timing, but it won’t come without listening. True power is relational not dominating. True power comes with listening as much as acting.
By Friday Venus will move into Scorpio where she will travel until October 7th. Venus relates and in Scorpio she relates with power. Use the gifts of this Virgo New Moon, and remember the power of timing. A power that comes with listening- to the promptings of your surroundings as much as the promptings of your mysterious nature.
If timing is everything then you must be timing too!
It is the first week of the new Season, as we shift from the bright and definite world of Leo light to the chiaroscuro of earth-magic Virgo. The original “green thumb” of the zodiac, Virgo plays with earth and sky. She blends the depth of deep earthly substances with the instant expanse of light, revealing the miracle of growth and the beginning of evolution.
She holds bushels of wheat and corn, plants that reach straight up to the day of sun. With her gift of contemplation she strives to be plant-like, always reaching for the light of new meanings, bringing them back to the deep dark roots of past experiences. The Virgin birth is the shimmering texture of the present, cultivated by this union of light and dark.
Virgo has a special relationship to memory. With special pieces of texture, like that dress she wore, or the way the sun was setting, or that cold snap in the air, meanings sprout up like crops from the deep earth of the past. Her garden extends from past to future but it only exists in the illuminated texture of the present.
For Virgo, time moves in cycles. It folds in on itself producing a Virgin birth of meaning. Like a fibonacci pattern, this kind of time makes meaning grow in spiral form. Extending outward from seemingly infinitesimal roots of self-similar experiences. It was always you there, in those different places, at those different moments, always you.
Experiences shape who you are in order for you to shape future experience, in order for you to find a frequency worth cultivating.
What texture does your present have now? Can you hear its signature frequency? Would you like to change it?
You may have to roll up your sleeves and take it to the field, so to speak; a place where the deep substance of soul can meet the broad expanse of light. A place where memories work unconsciously to mold ideas out of the mysteries of inspiration.
This place might be an actual place. Your “field” might be your backyard, your stairwell, your kitchen at dusk. For who knows what reason, this place puts you in an optimum balance of blending deep substance with the broad expanse. Inspiration becomes real and reality becomes inspiring.
Your “field” might also be an activity, like yoga, reading, playing music or sports. The field may take many shapes. Most importantly It is and always has been yours. Visiting it and cultivating it seems to bring back magic to your fingertips.
As Voltaire famously said “you must cultivate your own garden.”
Happy cultivating and as always, happy astro pondering!