Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Up Mystery Creek ...with a table and no paddle

Your heart's desire is to be told some mystery. The mystery is that there is no mystery.
~ Cormac McCarthy, "Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West".

Husband, during a chat about his grandparents, whom he hardly knew, described a stray memory he has retained, involving his grandmother - and his mother. In his childhood, one evening, they took him along to a family gathering; it'd have been sometime in the mid to late-1940s. The gathering took place in a long room lit by rows of old fashioned camping lamps. About a dozen relatives were there, seated around a very large circular wooden table - of the style with one huge central "stem" holding up the tabletop. Husband, and the rest of his relatives were asked to place their finger-tips of both hands on the table top. His mother told him he must think hard on the words, "Table lift !...Table lift!" He still recalls that he squeezed his eyes closed and concentrated very hard on those words of command.

The table lifted.

Coming from husband, I found this a strange story. He has, and as far as he knew his mother had, no interest whatsoever in such things as spiritualism, the mysteries, psychic phenomena...even astrology (pshaw!)

After typing that, I searched and found a video depicting one such experiment. This one was conducted by a professional magician. A few commenters on this video have the trick solved, it appears. If a similar thing had happened in the case of husband's childhood experience, he must have had a magician and assistant among his relatives!

I have no such tabular experience to relate, though I've always had an interest in mysteries of all kinds.

Excerpt from a June 2008 post:
In my younger years, in the UK, I experimented with spiritualism, attended several different spiritualist churches and meetings. I was moderately interested in it all, but not sufficiently so to continue the experiment for more than a year or two. I do understand its attraction, but it just wasn't right for me. One side of me was drawn to it while the other side remained too doubtful to accept it.

I remember an occasion, when working in a previously unvisited part of the UK, I sought out a spiritualist church, attended an evening meeting. Several of the congregation eyed me with suspicion, making me feel decidedly uncomfortable. After the meeting members approached me and asked if I was representing some monitoring or "watchdog" body from a governing association. I immediately set them straight. The incident did bring home to me how insecure the people felt. I doubt that established traditional churches have watchdogs monitoring their proceedings. It's an example of how people who follow ideas and beliefs outside the mainstream can feel vulnerable. I guess this kind of thing can happen to professional astrologers too.

And, from 2012, which was part of a re-posted item from 2007
(blogs have cycles too!):

Any evidence to prove to me that certain areas of mystery, such as clairvoyance, using crystal ball, tarot, spirit world, etc. have actual validity, has been scant, but there have been a few scattered experiences of that nature - albeit spanning a very long period. These have been just sufficient that I can't quite close the door, and my mind, on the idea that there is something mysterious going on, other than human wishful thinking and vivid imaginations. For instance, I can find no logical explanation for any of these:

1 ~~~ A tarot reader, who was probably also a medium in the 1960s, in Devonshire, UK, told me that someone was speaking to her, and that he had a peculiar way of using the expression "it was real" in his conversation (meaning that something was very good). I immediately recognised this person. He wasn't anyone close, simply an acquaintance, but his idiosyncratic way of using the word "real" always used to amuse me. He had died in a car accident some years before. I hadn't even thought about this person much, but was very surprised to recognise him immediately from the reader's description.

2 ~~~ Many years ago (1970s), I persuaded my late partner to accompany me to a spirtualist meeting. The speaker there pointed to him during the meeting and said, "Do you know Peter, wearing RAF uniform?" He gasped, "Yes". "Well, he is saluting you", the speaker said. I knew already that my late partner had had a close friend called Peter, in his youth, during WW2, in the Royal Airforce. Their plane was shot down over France and they escaped together. Sadly, Peter's wife had been unfaithful while he was away in the forces, and he commited suicide just after the war ended.

3 ~~~ Many Moons ago, when I was still a young teenager, a fortune-teller told my mother that I would marry someone "from over the sea, and end my days abroad". That wouldn't sound too unusual nowadays, but in the 1950s before air travel was common, computers still unheard of, it was extraordinary! Anyway, the prediction has been vindicated three times. The second time wasn't a marriage, but a 33 year relationship. # 1 husband was from Italy. # 2 from Northern Ireland. # 3 current husband is American. And here I am, ending my days abroad (hopefully not too quickly). I'm pretty sure that this wasn't what's known as "a self-fulfilling prophecy". I did harbour thoughts of retiring to Spain, which might have been seen as such, I guess. I never could have envisioned what actually did happen!

4 ~~~ A fortune teller told me, back in 1973 or thereabouts, that there would be 3 men in my life. I was already aware of two - an ex-husband and a current partner. This prediction worried me for a long time. I took it as a sign that I'd somehow lose my partner. I did, but not for another 30 years! Then # 3 appeared.
Nature, at times leaves footprints of its inverted sense of humor leaving only hope to laugh at its mysterious humor.
~ Rangam Thoitak Chiru

NOTE ~~~ Our air conditioning system bit the dust yesterday - hottest day of the year too: 100* and likely to stay that way for at least 2 or 3 more days! Posts could be intermittent for a while, until we can get system replaced (Yikes!) We will probably de-camp to a motel shortly, my northern blood protests too much, can't think straight! Perhaps we'll take a wee trip while husband's A/C expert son does the necessary for us. Haven't decided yet where or when. We'll have a laptop with us, so maybe I'll scribble something here and there.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Movie ~ Code 46

I can never resist a dystopian tale, I haven't seen or read 'em all yet, but I'm getting there. Code 46 , released in 2004, was a new one to me. I picked up the VHS tape in a junk store for $1 recently, we watched it on Friday evening. It's different overall, but still with a few similarities to other movies of its genre, and with a weird echo of a well-known Greek tragedy embedded.

Code 46 is a British written and directed movie, but doesn't come over as British in any way.

Michael Winterbottom directed, Frank Cottrell Boyce wrote the screenplay. They are both northern English guys, born in Blackburn and Liverpool respectively. (She chuckles)... the Beatles, from Liverpool, wrote about Blackburn, Lancashire once, remember:
I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

But I digress.

I enjoyed Code 46 but was left with numerous questions. I wish it had been a novel adaptation, so I could go read the detail I felt was missing in the film. As one reviewer wrote, "For at least half the movie, you need a code book a few inches thick to decipher Code 46." That's exactly how I felt, but a novel would suffice.

Code 46 is set, we are led to believe, in the "near future". The impression I got was that the setting had to be much further ahead than "near" - at least 50 years or so ahead, maybe more. Budget restrictions probably dictated that background scenarios couldn't be CGI'd to appear much different from today - so what we have is the perception of simply more of the same, more of everything in cityscapes, less of everything outside of those.

The film's theme uses current issues, current fears, extrapolating them into a futuristic scenario which still looks uncomfortably familiar, but sounds odd. Dialogue is a mix of English with liberal splatterings of Spanish, French, Arabic and other languages. It's as though characters had swallowed several tourist phrase books!

Writer and director use the Code 46 version of dystopia to highlight our well-known class struggles, cultural boundaries, personal identity crises and various "freedoms" or lack of them. It's clever and thought provoking - much more so than some other, high budget CGI-filled offerings.

In Code 46's dystopic world cities are heavily controlled, accessible only through checkpoints. Outside of the cities we see only miles of desert wasteland and ragged struggling refugees eeking out an existence in shanty towns - people without papelles. "Papelles", a futuristic version of the passport/visa are essential for travel. Counterfeiting of these valuable items has been discovered and is the focus of an investigator's trip to Shanghai from the USA.

William, the investigator (Tim Robbins), has the advantage of using an "empathy virus" to enhance psychic insight and emotional sensitivities - and perhaps also, in the process, breaking down his learned societal inhibitions. He investigates a corporation, "Sphinx", where papelles are produced. He is able to identify the counterfeiter, Maria (Samantha Morton) quickly, then proceeds to have a love affair with her. He provides cover for Maria's crimes on his return to Seattle. Later, ordered to return to Shanghai, he discovers Maria has disappeared. He uses his authority to locate her in a medical facility, only to find that her memory of him, and their affair, has been "wiped".

Greek tragedy element coming up!

Maria had been pregnant, following the pair's brief affair. She had undergone a forced abortion and memory removal because, unknown to both of them, they are genetically related. Maria is a genetic clone of the investigator's mother, one of a set of 24 (I read this later in a synopsis). But why, I asked myself, would this future civilisation be cloning humans when the habitable areas of the planet seemed already overburdened with the natural variety? Anyway, Code 46 is the rule, or law, which states that genetically related humans must not be allowed to reproduce together, or even conduct relationships. That has been informal rule in our world for centuries. We, though, have always (or almost always) known exactly who are our close genetic relatives, thus avoiding problems arising from in-breeding. Cloning, especially if carried out in secret, could open a veritable Pandora's Box on this front.

The love story between William and Maria is the film's main theme. William is married, by the way, back in Seattle, with a young son. There was never going to be a happy ending for all. For more detail of the film's plot see Wikipedia's page linked at the top of the post.

Whether wholesale cloning, viruses designed to infect humans with such things as empathy or (another one mentioned in the film) rapid learning of a language, will be part of humanity's future remains to be seen by our youngest generation, or their kids and grandchildren. Life on a planet whose habitable surface has shrunk to a fraction of that we know, through climate change or war damage, or bio-hazards, yet still with technological know-how, lends itself to many scenarios, some of which have been explored already in novel and film. It's a never-ending source of fascination to me.

In closing, I feel like harking back to the Beatles. They were already mentioned, earlier, as the film screen-writer's fellow Liverpudlian Merseysiders. With no need for an empathy virus in 2014, most (not all) of us understand the deep-rooted truth which can soothe some weird and increasing feelings of dis-ease. The Beatles sang it for us, years ago:
"All you need is love".

RIP ~ Richard Attenborough. He died Sunday, aged 90. Below, in his part from one of my favouite movies The Great Escape. I think all the Great Escapers are gone now - the greatest escape of all, one could say; some went long ago, some more recently.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

VIRGO ~ Sign and Type.

 Virgo from Erté's Zodiac Sign Collection
As the Sun reaches the Leo/Virgo cusp, a look at a few less commonly chanted traits of the sign through which the Sun is about to glide during the next four weeks: Virgo. Virgo's planetary ruler is Mercury. Mercury also rules Gemini.

Digressing for a moment, and considering the mystery of sign rulerships. I don't understand why communications planet Mercury doesn't rule the Air signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra). Air is thought to be the most mentally oriented of the four astrological elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air.

Everything we humans do is initiated in the brain, even what seem like emotional responses, though coloured by Moon and the Watery element, actually do begin in the mental realm. As I see it, we ought to pay more attention to Mercury in the natal chart - equally as much as to Sun, Moon and ascendant.

In an Aquarian-driven, typically obtuse version of astrological rulerships, I propose that Saturn could rule the Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn). Fire signs(Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) would be ruled by Mars. Water signs by Venus (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). Mercury would rule the Air signs Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. But then, what would Jupiter do? Jupiter would have to rule over-all, in true Jupiterian expansionist fashion! It would be acceptable for Sun and Moon not to rule signs, they are luminaries, different from planets. The outer planets, Uranus Neptune and Pluto are too far away to rule anything, they will simply make themselves felt in transit when connecting with, or aspecting, personal planets.

Mercury's rulership of Gemini seems obvious: the consummate communicator, teacher, the all-round information collector. As ruler of Virgo, Mercury must be reflected as less abstract, more tangible. Virgo seeks and usually achieves near perfection in just about anything undertaken. Gemini roves around in the world of words and ideas, gathering them together, regurgitating them, sometimes in light-weight haphazard fashion, offering them back to a usually enthusiastic audience. Virgo is quite capable of doing this too, but with a far greater emphasis on accuracy and presentation - a more serious approach.

I do think Mercury's rulership of Virgo to be rather strange. To my mind strict, structure-loving Saturn would seem more compatible with perfection-seeking sign, Virgo. I'm probably missing something at a deeper level.

More on Virgo then...

I'm guided by 20th century British astrologer C.E.O. Carter and his piece

 By David Palladini (1970)
Mr Carter sometimes sounds as though he considers there's a person who, born between two specified dates, could properly and proudly carry the label "Virgo" on his or her tee-shirt. I'm pretty sure this well-respected astrologer thought nothing of the sort. Urged to write or speak on individual zodiac signs, as he often must have been, he decided to take the easiest way out.

As I've said, many times in these posts, "there's no such thing as "a Virgo", "a Leo", "a Scorpio" or any other such zodiac sign-labelled individual. Those are sign labels not people labels!

A person could have Sun in Sagittarius, or any other zodiac sign, and still exhibit many Virgo attributes due to a variety of combinations of planetary placements, points, and aspects in their chart. He or she could then be called a Virgo-type, if one insisted on attaching a label, as could a person with Sun in Virgo, if the traits fit - and they don't always.

So, passing reader, it's my opinion that we should look on whatever astrologers write or say, when using that sign-label type of shorthand ("a Leo" "a Virgo" etc.) as simply writing or speaking of a particular type who may or may not have Sun in the sign in question, but demonstrates a majority of character traits related to that sign.

And so...eventually...a few less commonly mentioned Virgo-type traits as listed by Mr Carter within his piece linked above, which is a good read in full by the way:

Whilst Leo and Virgo are as different as chalk from cheese,
with only a few exceptions, Virgo and Libra [the next adjoining sign]
have a good deal in common...both, for example, have taste in literature and art
and dislike rough and uncouth things.

... interested in dietetics and often have their private fads
and fancies in that respect.

... their alleged sensitiveness. Most Virginians
have a pose of being sensitive. It is, of
course, the sign of the inferiority complex, although this
is not to say that all natives of Virgo are afflicted in
this way or that all so afflicted are born under Virgo.
Still, in principle I think Virgo stands for this sense of
personal inadequacy, which in a world as complex and
difficult as ours has become, with ever higher standards of
efficiency set before it, is an easily understood

Another point is that by their very nature the Mercurials
notice and think a lot about details and what seem to your
Jovian to be trivialities. This may appear to be
sensitiveness to some, and in other cases one must dub them
fussy and for ever making mountains out of mole-hills.
This tendency is best sublimated by their taking up some
occupation that entails much attention to small matters,
such as watch-mending or embroidery.
So much for the maiden-archetype in its everyday

In a higher (presentation), it is the virgin mother of the new-born Sun,
since the constellation Virgo rises in the east at midnight
at the winter solstice when the sun is "in the tomb" for
three days before beginning afresh his climb into northern

The sheaf of corn would imply that Virgo is often and
agriculturalist. This is probably true. We do not come
across many nativities of farmers, since they are a race
that is as a rule too occupied with the soil to aspire to
understand the heavens, but I suspect we should find plenty
of Virgo in most of their maps. This would agree with the
liking that many, but not all,Virgos show for small animals,
traditionally up to and including the ass, but not the horse.

Still talking of animals, I am reminded of Benjamin, the
donkey in Orwell's Animal Farm. Being invited to admire the
goodness of the Creator who had thoughtfully provided him
with a tail wherewith to flick away flies, Benjamin remarked
sourly that he would have been more impressed if there had
been no flies and no need for tails. This is a very true
specimen of Virgo philosophy.

A virtue often ascribed to Virginians is a capacity for
hard work, especially routine drudgery such as Leo and Libra
would soon tire of. I regret to say that I have known
Virgos who were anything but industrious. The only sign
which really likes hard work is Scorpio.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson, born this day
August 22, in 1908 (died in 2004) has been called "greatest photographer of the twentieth century" and "father of photojournalism". A pioneer of shooting photographs in the 35 mm format, his career spanned more than sixty years.

Cartier-Bresson recorded the drama of his era's news stories best by often choosing to focus his lens away from the main event and towards ordinary people, catching their reactions. He produced iconic portraits of notable personalities such as Matisse, Picasso, Coco Chanel, Truman Capote and Gandhi; but his portraits of unknown characters often prove far more intriguing, their fleeting emotion captured for ever by his gifted eye, aided by a camera lens. He also made films with Jean Renoir and others, and a 1937 documentary on Republican Spain; he co-founded the photographic cooperative, Magnum. During the Second World War, he was captured by Germans; after two attempts, he escaped in February 1943. Throughout his long career as photographer he travelled widely, recording diversity of life all over the world. In 1975, twenty-nine years before he died he abandoned photography and turned his attention to drawing and painting. (For a piece on this see Artes Magazine HERE)

The photographer's own words from his book The Mind's Eye:
"To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning."

"A velvet hand, a hawk's eye - these we should all have."
He was an artist in every sense of the word, his main tool, not a brush or pencil (though he wielded both at times) but a camera.

I haven't been able to glean much information about Henri Cartier-Bresson's personality. In the video at the end of this post he admits to being very impulsive. He appears to have been something of a romantic - had an intense affair with the wife of an American ex-patriate, Harry Crosby. Crosby said of him that he "looked like a fledgling, shy and frail, and mild as whey." He married twice, was described by one of many biographers, Pierre Assouline, briefly thus:
"His taste was classical: he needed that kind of order to counter the vulgarity of the world outside" & "In affairs of the heart, he was a seductive romantic."
Wikipedia's page on Henri Cartier-Bresson and a fairly brief piece at Bio.com give further detail of his life and career.

A look at his natal chart, then at a few of his many photographs.

Henri Cartier-Bresson born on 22 August 1908 in Chanteloup-en-Brie, France, at 2:51 PM (Astrodatabank AA)

Astrologically, Neptune is said to represent photography. Here we have Neptune conjunct Venus (planet of the arts) and Moon (inner emotional self) all in emotionally- sensitive Cancer - what better signature for a great photographer?

Another cluster, or stellium, in Leo/Virgo involves Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury. This cluster represents his driving force, the engine sending him around the world (Jupiter), the energy and enthusiasm for it all (Mars), and the ability to communicate his thoughts with photographic precision (Mercury).

Two sides - both essential to his art.

Outside the two clusters are Saturn and Uranus, in Aries and Capricorn respectively. Uranus, from Capricorn, opposes Neptune/Venus/Moon, challenging that emotionally sensitive group to be business-like and forward looking - he used best new technology available.

Saturn, from Aries, squares Uranus as well as Neptune/Venus/Moon. I'm not sure how to interpret this. Saturn represents limitation, reality, keeping feet on ground - that kind of thing. Perhaps Saturn is controlling what might otherwise have been an airy-fairy mess of emotional pourings, into something practical: a set of photographs to be appreciated over time, for centuries. Saturn likes that kind of thing.

The T-square - that red triangle - it pulls together the opposition and squares I've mentioned. In some cases such a configuration might be difficult to handle - it doesn't seem to have hindered Henri Cartier-Bresson at all!

There are so many photographs of his, it was difficult to know which were most representative of HCB's work - so I chose a few which particularly appealed to me, for more photographs, there's an excellent slideshow at Magnum Photos HERE, and in the video below.

For sharper versions - better resolution - please click on images.

 La danse Alloeng Kotjok, Sayan, Bali, Indonésie.

 New Year's Eve, NYC

And, finally, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED a video featuring his photographs, narrated by the photographer himself:

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unintended Consequences....Breeding Resistant Varieties?

 (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
I'm musing again on the issue raised in Tuesday's post: militarization of US police forces, and on part of a comment beneath this related piece at Common Dreams.

Part of that comment, made by Garrett Connelly, which widens the topic somewhat but poses an interesting theory:

.....Totalitarian dictatorship always fails for the same reason, they cut themselves off from distributed human intelligence and become too stupid to exist. Imagine a few months of killing on a military scale, by militarized patriot civilian police warriors; they are happily maintaining homeland security in, for example, Saint Louis, when word comes through that their families were collateral damage back home. How many years before repression and brainwashing breed resistant varieties?
Response from "Plank"
Yes, there is some credence to the theory of an act causing the opposite to be created. Hegelianism in which and idea evokes its opposite to form a new complete self sustaining loop.
I looked up Hegelianism but didn't find in my brief, limited search that it relates to an act causing the opposite to be created. Perhaps it went over my head - not hard to do!

When considering cyclic movement, there has to be a point when extremes meet, resulting in opposite actions, ideas...whatever taking over. Mike mentioned this effect (the Ouroboros) in a comment on Monday's post on current movie The Giver.


"The Ouroboros or Uroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.

 The Ouroboros often symbolizes self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things such as the phoenix which operate in cycles that begin anew as soon as they end. It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished. While first emerging in Ancient Egypt, the Ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist's opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism."

Another good post on Ouroboros, at Crystalinks, is HERE.

Any thoughts on acts causing opposites to be created, Hegelianism, Ouroboros, unravellings when extremes meet, and so on ?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Julian Assange

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks is in the news again this week, with a message that he “will be leaving the Embassy soon”. (HERE). He was granted asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy two years ago, and has remained there. There are rumours of declining health, but also indications that he has denied these. We shall see.

To refresh memories, and to take another look at his natal chart, a re-run of something I wrote about Assange in 2010:

Writings and comment on Wikileaks and Julian Assange has filled cyberspace and other public spaces this week with the most words written on a single topic since the BP oil spill.

My (very personal) view of the situation varies from most others I've read. I have a strong feeling that all is not straightforward. There's "something else", some secret motivation ? I don't know. But I can't raise the same level of enthusiasm and support for him this time around. Gut-feeling.

Something about the latest release of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, embarrassing to those in power, but not in the same league as previous whistle-blowing efforts, doesn't strike the same note for me, and I get to wondering.

It's not that I don't have great respect for the courage of Julian Assange and what he had done before the latest scenario. In fact I wrote about earlier Wikileaks "exposures" in a post headed Wikileaks, Pluto & Galactic Center. At that stage Assange's birth data was a mystery, it is now available.

A similar Neptunian fog surrounds Assange as that surrounding President Obama. There's a lot of Neptunian fog around in general just now in the USA. Neptune connects to mystery, illusion and delusion - mental fog. Assange is supposed to be trying to clear foggy areas, but in the process causes the mists to swirl dangerously.

Assange's natal chart ought to provide some clarity on his true personality. The rape charges he faces only add to the fog; they have been, more than likely, "trumped up".

Numerous astrologers have already published interpretations of Assange's natal chart. It does not behove me to argue with what any of them have written. Instead I'll offer links to several pieces I've come across so far, and let any passing reader who has missed these make up their own mind on the matter.

Some articles by astrologers interpreting the natal chart of Julian Assange:

ERIC FRANCIS.....(also Mr Francis's responses to skeptics in this respect at Boing Boing)

MARY PLUMB at Mountain Astrologer ....And a second one relating to the birth time


Below is the natal chart of Julian Assange constructed from data available. His date and place or birth are said to have been taken from official documents, so ought to be reliable. Even so, I retain a wee bit of doubt, he being in the business he's in! The birth time is the most open to question, but as it's the only one available I've included it below.

My single comment here is to note that (if birth time is near correct) foggy Neptune lay in Sagittarius in the first house of self as he came into the world. Neptune was within a few degrees of Jupiter (the publication and exaggeration planet and ruler of Sagittarius), though in the adjacent sign, Scorpio. For me this is the most significant factor in the chart.

Believe nothing you read and only half of what you see in matters relating to Mr. Assange.

Recent transits touching Assange's personal planets do indicate a challenge or change of some kind. Pluto now opposes his natal Cancer Sun. Saturn in Scorpio was transiting his Moon at the end of last year and now heads towards natal Jupiter, as does transiting Mars. Uranus was transiting natal Chiron during this spring (health changes?)

Any more, mike - or anyone?