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.
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!
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.
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!
A Full Snow Moon comes our way, reaching it’s peak around 3 am on Saturday, February 27th EST, so look to the sky on Friday evening.
Falling in the detail-loving sign of Virgo, lets zoom in close to the phenomenon of snow.
Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley captured more than 5000 snow crystals on film. He was born in 1865 on a farm in Jericho, VT. His mother took note of his curiosity for nature and managed to pull enough money together to buy him a microscope. Just before his twentieth birthday, Wilson took his first photograph of a snowflake. He called these snow crystals “miracles of beauty”.
Snowflakes are (for the most part) hexagons, with each one being completely unique. Hexagons have 6 sides, and can be created with the interlacing of an upward and a downward triangle. Virgo is the 6th and most humble sign of the zodiac. Humility to look closer at common things (like young Bentley did) is a doorway to the miraculous.
This Full Snow Moon in Virgo is an invitation to, in the words of my favorite astrologer, Alice O. Howell,
“be humble enough to study the obvious“.
In her book, “The Web and the Sea”, O. Howell draws attention to the fact that a triangle is the first way that space can be enclosed. She goes on to muse about how angles of triangles always add up to 180 degrees, so if two triangles were to get together, as they do in a hexagram, we would have the full 360 degrees of a circle.
The triangle, as the first possible enclosed space, opens up the whole concept of inhabited space, something that Philosopher Gaston Bachelard delights in writing about. He says,
“Inhabited space transcends geometrical space”
Inhabited space can be intensified. When a snow storm rages outside, the intensity of inhabiting your own house is likely increased. Add a cup of hot cocoa and a good book and it increases ever the more!
Bringing more awareness to how space is inhabited does wonders to soothe the soul. Gaston writes:
“Our soul is an abode. And by remembering ‘houses’ and ‘rooms,’ we learn to ‘abide’ within ourselves.”
The sight of a Full Moon can evoke the satisfaction of well-inhabited space; a feeling that there’s no place we’d rather be.
Maybe it is the inhabited space of a Full Moon, or someone you love, or a blooming flower that serve as that that second triangle. In hexagonal bliss, the full totality of the circle is experienced. Virgo’s humility to look closer and deeper into her everyday world unlocks the wellspring of wholeness from her opposite sign, 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.
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.
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.
Philosopher William James first coined the phrase “stream of consciousness” to describe the full range of thoughts that we can be aware of at any given time. He called it a stream, observing that thoughts tended to flow from one to another and another.
Here we are at the end of the first month of 2021, and Mercury, the god of thought, is decidedly reversing the stream’s current, in Aquarius, the sign of awareness, foresight and future.
Are we going back to the future?
In a sense, maybe.
As we go about our days we are immersed in many droplets of rich subjective life. Moments when something speaks to us, moments when we feel good or bad, moments that we share, moments that we rush, moments that we savor.
With winged-sandals, Mercury, God of thought swiftly weaves facts out of these moments. Facts that may be recalled in the future about what happened in the past. The facts are what survives, the feelings are fleeting, and disappear like the Moon. Facts weave and connect into the mysterious network of memory. Awaiting a reason to resurface, and be reflected on. Once reflected on, feelings may arise again, and feel like those original feelings, but they are still new, and based on these facts.
As Mercury moves retrograde, the stream of consciousness goes back on itself. It’s like using one of those now obsolete microfiche machines in libraries, where newspapers can be flashed through in search of that pertinent piece of information. Thought goes back on itself, in search of something.
Mercury has been in Aquarius since the beginning of the year leaving many Aquarian-esque facts weaved into our neural networks. Aquarian-esque; existential, pertaining to future, off the beaten path and in question of some basic assumptions.
You found something in these weavings, what was it?
Maybe you will find a fact worthy of reflection. By reflecting on these resurfaced facts, perhaps you will better shape your future! Time flows just like the trickster. Maybe you can manage to go back to the future!
Mercury will be retrograde for the rest of Aquarius Season. The Trickster God will go direct on February 20th, two days after the start of Pisces Season, and remain in Aquarius until March 15th.
This past week Venus entered Capricorn, the sign of the real world. Capricorn is the mythical SeaGoat. We can find a goat in the world and we can find a fish in the world, but we can’t find a SeaGoat in the real world.
Or can we?
Perhaps what is necessary is to examine what is meant by a real world.
In his book, Leisure as the Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper says that a world is a “field of relations”. To have a world is to “be the center, the coordinator, of a field of relations”. He gives the example of a plant using its surroundings; absorbing the air, the sunshine, and drawing nourishment from the ground. `
If the world is defined by our relations, of our inner life to our outer life, then a human’s world would include all the many relations of the mind and heart. The world becomes deeper and wider.
Imagination, philosophy, dreaming, these are the things that extend the boundaries of our world into the reality of wholeness. This, as Pieper saw it, is the real world. The world as a whole. For us to be at peace with ourselves, we must not mistake our environment with the real world of wholeness.
"The really human thing is to see the stars above the roof, to preserve our apprehension of the universality of things in the midst of the habits of our daily life, and to see "the world" above and beyond our immediate environment." Joseph Pieper- Leisure The Basis of Culture
For the rest of this month, as Venus moves through the Capricorn, don’t forget to see those stars amidst your daily habits.
Over the weekend we had a Seasonal shift, from Scorpio’s realm to Sagittarius’ lift. What did we learn in the profound outerbounds, in the deep zone of our bones where truth hangs around? What comes next? After an encounter with such mystery?
French surrealist artist Yves Klein said, “At first there is nothing, then there is a profound nothingness, after that a blue profundity.”
At the age of 19 Klein and his two friends, the artist Arman and composer Claude Pascal, lay on a beach in Southern France. They decided to divide the world between themselves. Pascal chose words, Arman chose the Earth, and Klein chose the sky.
What ensued was a life-long obsession and devotion to the color blue. Signing the sky with his hand, he committed to a quest to reach the far side of the infinite. He saw that unlike other colors that arouse specific associative ideas, blue at most suggests the sea and sky, and thus is “beyond dimension.”
Sagittarius Season celebrates this sense of blue. Beyond dimension. A place to dream, and feel a full sense of vitality. Though it’s true that November is known more for it’s falling temperature, the horse insists on acknowledging this place of blue space; this high of open sky.
Goethe, in his theory of colors, saw the blue sky to be the darkness of space, lit up by the presence of sunlight in our atmosphere. The deep space of beyond lit up before our eyes, with each waking day under the blue of the skies. But what of the deep space that exists from within, does it too become lightened, a blue sky built-in?
An inner blue sky, lightened with optimism, hope and acknowledgment. Beyond just a knowing, a showing of knowing.
You know the music is good, from the depths of the dark, but nodding your head acknowledges this spark. That joke is funny says the depths of you, but laughing acknowledges this fact to be true! Darkness made light, in the truth of the blue. From knowledge to acknowledgment, a major breakthrough!
With Thanksgiving on thursday, acknowledgment will rise, with appreciation to those we have loved for so long. The spirit of appreciation, the sweetest of songs. William James saw the craving of appreciation to be the deepest principle of human nature. Be generous with it in this skyward Season.
The planets are short on air this week. Social and connected air. Holidays for most will be celebrated remote. With both Mercury and Venus in Scorpio, communication and relating is not short on depth. Over the phone or online, connection is primed, to make up for these distances of space and timezone, with a sense of belonging, Scorpio’s powerful lodestone. And even if no socialization occurs, tune into a place, that makes your blood stir. Earth magic abounds from its depths and yours too, from a profound nothingness to the profundity of blue!
Venus will oppose the great awakener Uranus in the bountiful earth of Taurus. William Blakes thankful receiver who “bears a plentiful harvest.”
Mars moving onward from the middle of Aries, no other direction better for such energy. Must be the Season of the horse, with those wide open plains, the galvanized Will grips gladly the reigns!
Ready to check him are Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn, who continue in Capricorn a most hyper-real pattern. Empowered hope and strong practicality, looming threats and good news in the same actuality. As Robert Frost said, “the best way out is always through.”
Neptune in Pisces, the sea-chariot that navigates a blue inner-sky.
The Moon begins the week waxing gibbous in the later degrees of Pisces. Saturated with imaginative potential, be open to nuance, suggestion and subtlety- new roads of dreams are paved with discovery!
On Tuesday, original day of Mars, she will grow into Aries by mid morning. In the Season of Blue skies, a redness bursts forth. The connection of action to a home-base of hearth. As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood.”
This kindred fire of Moonlight grows through most of Thanksgiving day. Big and bold this Aries Moon, singing in red a mysterious tune; of memory, family, belonging and desire. Towards what does your wolf-like yearning aspire? Joyce Carol Oates called the blood “memory without language.”
By Friday as Venus receives her strongest electric wave from Uranus, the Moon, moving into luxurious Taurus, wants in on the act. A sensual relaxing yet altogether lively signature, much like the way Goethe described the color blue. In his words, “This color has a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye. As a hue it is powerful- but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose.”
Perhaps it is this blue energy that prompts Neptune to finally station to move direct, on Saturday, after nearly 5 months of retrograde. The stimulating negation, the effortless creation, of a dream.
By Sunday midday she waxes extremely gibbous in Gemini, and there is at last, air in the planetary line-up. Perspective and ease of rationality, a lightness perhaps or just some good old fashioned fresh air. She moves towards being not only a Full Moon, but a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse, in sparkling Gemini, the dance of the Twins. This event will be exact the following Monday, at 4 am, so both nights will be excellent opportunities to view it.
As a Lunar Eclipse, the earth will be in between the Sagittarian Sun and the Gemini Moon, casting an earth Shadow, darkening the light, likely casting a coppery-red tone. In the Season of lightened darkness, we have a darkened brightness. The Twins laugh with delight. Use the youthful energy of Gemini Moonbeams, to acknowledge possibilities that are yet to be seen. Shine the light on just one and create something new. And Gemini loves words, especially the ones that need to be heard. Acknowledge another, with a kind-hearted word, it may kindle music from happiness’ blue bird.
From granted to gracious, life gets more spacious.
Yves Klein wrote his name on the sky, painting monochrome surfaces to see with his own eyes- an “absolute freedom” (his words exact). For the horse, it’s a wide open space that attracts.
Remember the last time you looked up at a full Moon? Did it do what it usually does (at least for me) and fill you with a flash of mystery? At the same time a sense of comfort? Maybe a small strange feeling of yearning?
The Moon is forever elusive, always changing, yet oh so soothing. Moonlight feels like magic does it not? It produces a PULL within us, similar to the influence it has on the tides. It awakens the dreamer in us. We become more inward and reflective. The Moon itself reflects the Sun and is also reflected in the many lakes and puddles of our world. It’s a two way reflection. Very Orson Welles…
The question is, what does the Moon represent in our psyches? As I said before, I am HIGHLY influenced by my favorite astrologer, Alice O. Howell. She speaks of the Moon as the “matrix of consciousness” having the capacity to “give birth to those limitless little or big attacks of insight through which we turn experience into empiric knowledge”.
She draws symbolic parallels between the stories of “the virgin births” and an inner psychological process of uniting our egos to our Selves (capital S as Jung speaks of the Self). The “Self” is the “divine guest” within us. From this union of ego and Self comes the “spiritus renatus” or the “twice born Self”. It is a virgin birth because it all happens within you. The “ego” is how we attempt to live in our worlds, feel comfortable and make sense out of it. Over identifying with the ego cuts us off from our divinity, but ignoring the ego cuts us off from our world. We need both.
O. Howell sees this concept symbolically represented by the inner marriage of the Sun and Moon. She puts the Moon more on the frequency of the ego and the Sun more on the frequency of the Self, although she says the Self is so vast it is really more the unfolding of the entire chart over a lifetime.
On a more immediate level, the Moon represents our emotional nature, and the emotional current that really drives us in life. Is it along the lines of going forward towards new experience (Aries Moon)? Or maybe to feel safe and secure emotionally (Cancer Moon)? Or to feel that you are efficient and useful in the world somewhere (Virgo Moon)?
By the same token these signs will flavor our natural REACTIONS to what life throws at us. The Moon is connected to the stomach in the body (as well as the breasts and womb). Those knots in our stomach when we are stressed our the butterflies when we are elated put us in touch with this fact. If we are not conscious of how our Moons operate we may become a slave to our emotions, letting them run wild and boss us around! On the flip side if we cut ourselves off from our Moon entirely our emotions grow hungry. We are like an undernourished child inside in desperate need of comfort and cut off from the beautiful mysteries of life. We need to give ourselves permission to retreat to an inward HOME where we are safe and secure.
The sign of Cancer is the sign related to the Moon. Cancer is represented by the crab. This creature more than any other that I can think of embodies the concept of HOME. It IS it’s own home in a sense. The hermit crab literally carries it’s home on it’s back. But all crabs have that hard exoskeleton, which serves as a strong barrier, a “shelter from the storm” of life. They also need to always be near water (another home) because the breath through gills on their legs. Their little leg gills must always be kept moist. The hermit crab even carries back up water in his shell! Crabs can be solitary creatures (Cancer is also related to privacy) or they can live in groups. When they are in groups they work hard to provide food and protection for their families (a very Cancerian way of life!).
The ancient Glastonbury Zodiac that stretches over miles of land depicts the sign of Cancer as a dog instead of a crab! It’s ear is illustrated by a lake, and for years people around the area never knew why it was called “Ear Lake”. I remember being stupefied by a move my dog pulled one Christmas eve. My sister and I had bought my mother a concertina as a gift. She pulled it out and my little dog came running in and began howling to the music. He had never howled before that! Concertinas, at least to me evoke a stroll along a Moonlit road in some romantic place, there is a connection there..