Cats, Dogs and a Spirited Response

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.”

Until next time, happy astro pondering!

The North Star, Mount Meru and Mary Magdalene: Your Navel and the Navel of the World

Have  you ever been told to follow your North Star?  It is such a comfort to think that there could be one.  One that directs your internal compass when you have lost your way.  It’s interesting to note that the placement of the north star within the zodiac is at 0 degrees Cancer (plus or minus 2 degrees) which is the sign of the Moon.

p01vrk6n
The Moon in the natal chart represents a comfort as well as a calling that pulls you forth in life.  Sounds a lot like the notion of the North Star.

hqdefault
Polaris sits in the center of a sky that moves, much like a true sense of home (the Moon) stays still in a world that bustles.

We all know that compasses point North due to a magnetic pull created by the Earth’s magnetic field.

polaris-1.jpg
Polaris has often been referred to the lodestar, which means a star that guides ships.  A lodestone is a magnetic rock.

Can we look to our Moons in our natal charts to better understand our individual lodestars?  And what in us is moving toward this lodestar?

barker_william_gr

TS_126408633

The lodestone (a naturally magnetized iron ore) composes the needle of this compass so it will always point north.  Iron nails are attracted to the magnet.

Could it be the iron in our blood that knows true north?  Is the thing that makes our blood red the same thing that keeps us on track?

If we are now talking about iron and the color red then clearly we are in another astrological terrain- Mars.

planet_mars_signatue_002.jpgcfc7a679-805c-4baa-885b-fc0207a1e77fOriginal
Iron oxide makes Mars the red planet

item102687
Iron again (in the form of hemoglobin) makes our blood red

But I don’t want to get away from the Moon and the North Pole either.  So here is a figure who seems to embody all of these themes.

0ea8ff3614317b0efe3c4806a066bfe2
Mary Magdalene

Mary comes from the word mar, as in maritime or marine.  Magdalene bears a strong similarity to the word magnet.  So here we have a mysterious notion of a magnetic sea.  Or similarly, a Mars-like (magnetic) Moon (the sea, the tides).

Meru (11)

This is a map of the Arctic as prepared in 1569 by Gerardus Mercator, a Belgian cartographer and explorer.  At the center of the map is a mountain, said to be positioned at the North Pole.  This mountain is know as Mount Meru, the magnetic mountain.

Mount Meru is know to be the “center of the universe” in both Buddhist and Hindu cosmologies.  It is comparable to Mount Olympus of Greek mythology in that it was the home to the Gods.

The mountain is said to be surrounded by the “indrawing seas” as depicted above by the four rivers and this supposedly creates a whirlpool effect.

It’s hard not to notice the similarity of the image of a whirlpool and that of the symbol for Cancer, the zodiac sign associated with the Moon.

Above are artistic celebrations of Mt Meru.  Borobudur (left) is a Buddhist temple in Indonesia.  The other two pictures depict a Maha Meru, a Hindu symbol that is a 3D projection of a Sri Yantra (a mystical diagram involving nine interlocking triangles).

hqdefault-1

Magdalene’s “alabaster jar” that is nearly always pictured with her bears a striking similarity to the Mt Meru symbols.

Mount Meru is said to be the navel of the world.

It’s interesting to think of what our navels used to do for us.

fetus-baby-womb-uterus-light-shutterstock133423673
It was the center which received the “indrawing sea” of our mother’s blood (saline, sea-like)

These days we don’t give too much thought to our belly buttons.

hqdefault-3
I mean, this is great, but how else does it serve us?

hqdefault-4
How about the fact that it is placed in front of the enteric nervous system, otherwise known as our second brain.  This brain is less associated with rational and logical thinking and more associated with intuition.  Very north star-like!

In closing, next time you get a gut feeling, consider that it might be your infinitely mysterious magnetic inner Mount Meru/Magdalene calling!

images-5

Meet the Parents: Papa Sun and Mama Moon

Many astrologers will equate the Sun with consciousness and the Moon with unconsciousness.  The waking hours of daylight (consciousness) bring us out of our dreamlike state (unconsciousness).  It is pretty impossible to argue that obvious symbolism, it speaks loudly and clearly. The thing that doesn’t sit right with me personally is when the Sun is therefore associated with the ego, i.e. the center of consciousness, and further more the Moon just cast out into her own sea of irrational emotions. There seems to be so much more going on here…

peedSun
Mr. Sun

Unknown-2
and Mrs. Moon

Let’s start with looking at the days of the week that these two represent.  Sunday for the Sun, and Monday for the Moon.  There certainly is a big difference between these two days for most of us.

162612-Lazy-Sunday
Some go to church while others may indulge in a mimosa. The principle is similar though, taking a break from busy life to honor yourself.

On a Sunday we generally are doing what we want to do and enjoying ourselves.  In latin, the word for Sun is sol, and in french soleil, thus we have a connection with the word soul, and the other “s” word spirit.  Spirit is associated with breath, as in respire. The Sun rules the heart in the body which is intimately connected with the lungs.  And in nature, fire (Sun) needs air to grow.  Sundays are the time for us to reconnect to spirit, to tune back into ourselves and let the world pass us by a bit.

Unknown
Quite a contrast from the general associations with Monday. Scrape yourself out of bed and get back to work, back to busy life.

Monday not by accident sounds similar to the word MUNDANE, defined by the dictionary as “of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.”  This derives from the latin word mundus, meaning “world”.  The french call the world “monde”.  The moon brings in an earthly element.  Monotonous mundane Mondays where we tend to earthly matters.  We go to work to make money, another Moon sounding word.  In fact, the words for ‘silver’ (the element associated with the Moon) and ‘money’ are the same in fourteen languages or more.

Silver is the metal associated with the Moon and gold is for the Sun.  Let’s look closer at the properties of these metals.

Gofcts-02
All that glitters ain’t GOLD!

The elemental symbol for gold is Au, derived from the old Latin name for gold, aurum, which means “shining dawn” or “glow of sunrise”.  Gold is the most malleable and ductile metal of all.  Malleable as in it can be pounded out into the thinnest piece of paper, and ductile meaning it retains it’s strength.  Webster’s definition for ductile is “able to be deformed without losing toughness; pliable, not brittle.”  So with gold comes immense flexibility without sacrificing it’s strength.  Because of its resistance to heat and acid it’s also a symbol for immutability.  Sounds a lot like an allegory to the heart and it’s capacity to love again after hardship and inevitable changes.

heart_of_gold_by_idarthkitty-d2zxu1h
As the Neil Young song goes..

Gold is the only metal that is yellow or “golden”. Other metals may appear yellow, but it’s just because they have oxidized or reacted with other chemicals. Follow the yellow brick road, a.k.a follow your heart?

Silver’s elemental symbol is Ag, derived from the latin argentum which means “grey” or “shining one”.  Silver is the most reflective metal of them all.  What other metal could better represent Mother Moon who’s main function is to REFLECT the light of the Sun.  Carl Jung talks about how the ideal job of the ego is to reflect that nature of the Self (the radiant totality of our beings that dwells in the unconscious).  This is why I can’t get cozy with the idea of the Sun being the ego.  It seems to me that ego is more in the realm of the Moon.  We can reflect our own Selves, as well as the Selves of others.

img144
Who the heck is that Groucho??

Children seek reflection in the mothers (Moon) in order to learn certain rules of conduct to get along in the world (Moon).

Another interesting fact about silver is that it conducts electricity better than any other element.  There are some theories out there these days of us living in an electric universe, with the Sun being a giant force of electric energy.  What if the Moon not only reflects the Sun but also conducts it’s energy toward Earth?  I am no scientist– just a fun idea.

10121530-media_httpfarm2static_aEfif
There’s  nothing mundane about mysteries!

So if the Moon is all matter and the Sun is the “spark” of spirit, what would one look like without the other?

Fall-beautiful-nature-22666764-900-562
Without Moon’s matter, the Sun’s spirituous light would have nothing to land on and illuminate.

000000
Without the Sun’s spark we have this

Aside from the Sun, we don’t see much fire in nature.  The spirit remains hidden.  We can’t look at the Sun too long without burning our eyes.  We can only look at it reflected in EVERYTHING around us.  Perhaps this is why things like fireworks are so mesmerizing.  They fill our hearts (Sun) with a joyous feeling (most of us!).

gty_new_york_fireworks_thg_120628_wblog
ahh! LIFE! Bravo!

Warmth on our bodies and warmth in our hearts

tumblr_my87td16h61qlmppmo1_500
Light finds it’s way out of our bodies through our eyes. Think about how much more they shine when they are in love (the heart, i.e. the Sun)

So to bring this all back home, literally let’s go to mom and dad.  When reading a chart I find that an excellent beginning is to discuss the client’s parents with regards to the Sun as the father and the Moon as the mother.  Ultimately these perceptions are deeply infused into who we are, and getting at these routes can be enormously helpful.  If for example someone has a Sun that is squared with Uranus, we would be looking for what in the father has a challenging Uranian element.  Issues of emotional detachment or mental superiority perhaps.  Or strangeness, not fitting in somehow.. these are all shades of a challenged Uranus.  The first step is to have the client see it in the parents, the second step see how they’ve integrated that into themselves.  Or how about Moon conjunct Saturn.  How is the mother an authority somehow or how might she be restrained?  Or how is she the symbol of hard work and perseverance?  Have you set that bar too high for yourself?  It can really open up a well of dialogue.  We can’t escape our beginnings and we certainly can’t dwell in them, but they can teach us a ton.

Unknown-1
At their core, this is Mom and Dad. The spark and the world.

Happy astro practicing!

The mysteries of Mother Moon

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?

film-noir-ed-harris-madeleine-stowe-china-moon-1994-moon-twilight-casa-grande-arizona-2004-david-lee-guss
That mysterious Moon.. only showing us ONE side.

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…

Lady-3
“The Lady of Shanghai”‘s shoot out scene in the house of mirrors keeps us in suspense, not knowing who’s real.

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”.

theMatrix2_2379796k
The matrix eh? What and who is real? Very “The Lady From Shanghai”. Reflection upon reflection. Moon as mystery.

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.

PSC1213_FY_074
We are the mothers (our center of consciousness) and the fathers (the divine spark within us) or our reborn Selves.

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.

tumblr_m5dgubchzj1rrdazqo1_500
An alchemy drawing depicting the sacred marriage of the Sun and Moon.

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)?

hqdefault
What kind of emotional pull does your Moon have?

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.

images
Snoopy gets it

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!).

christmas-island-red-crab_24694_600x450
The crab is also a very mysterious character. Who else walks sideways?

Bioluminescent-Jellyfish
The crab is at home near the sea, which is all about the Moon and Cancer. 90 percent of the creatures in the deep sea are bioluminescent, meaning they glow. Very Moon-like.

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..

Wolf-Howling
The dog knows the Moon

Are you at home in your own matrix?