Tuesday, January 16, 2018

1968: Oh my - 50 years ago - How Time Flies!

This special edition glossy magazine (knock-down price $14.99 - which I refuse to pay) was sitting in the rack at the supermarket check-out the other day. I asked husband to take a quick photo of it for me, it reminded me of an old blog post of mine, and I'm always happy to be able to pull out an old post, when its contents might have become new again, so saving further wear and tear on my typing fingers.

Previously posted in 2007 and 2011 - now ever so slightly edited.
3's a charm!

There have been some clear "tipping points" throughout the world's history. Whether we're presently living through another of these remains to be seen...it's starting to have that smell about it though. The thought was originally sparked by a reference to journalist Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone. I discovered that Dahr Jamail was born in 1968, into the atmosphere of tumult, unrest and change that year brought with it. From a book review (now disappeared) of Beyond the Green Zone:
"Soon after the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Jamail emptied his savings, bought a plane ticket to Iraq, and began writing about what he saw as an independent reporter from the war zone. His missives were sorely needed by those people looking for a side of the story not being told by the so-called embedded media and soon his stories were being published in multiple internet outlets, radio programs and even some newspapers....... the book is a riveting and clearly written piece of journalism that puts the pap most US residents consider as news to shame."

Without much astrological knowledge, it is possible to see astrology at work. Here's an example of how the qualities of a single year can be crystalised and reflected back many years later by some of those born within that time frame.

How about that year, 1968? Anything special about it? A synopsis of Mark Kurlansky's book 1968, The Year that Rocked the World threw some light on this.

"1968 was a year of political upheaval and protest around the world. In the U.S., there were the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the antiwar protests, the Chicago riot at the Democratic National Convention, and the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon. In Vietnam, the Tet offensive was underway. Protests in France began the downfall of Charles de Gaulle's government. Soviet tanks rolled into Prague to quell the rebellion there. Mexico City police opened fire on university protesters. Mark Kurlansky documents these events and more that occurred in 1968, and examines the cultural forces that drew them altogether across the world."

An exceptional year! 1968 is described elsewhere as "a benchmark of unrest, tumult, and change."

Astrology tells us that those born during that time are bound to bear its imprint - some more clearly than others.

From a list of birthdays in 1968 , among the usual gaggle of actors, musicians, sportsmen, three names leapt off the screen: Mohammed Atta (said to have masterminded 9/11 attacks, and died in them), Timothy McVeigh, (the notorious Oklahoma City Bomber), and Ramzi Yousef (mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing). The astrology of that tumultuous year had certainly left its imprint on those three characters, and in the worst possible way! Dahr Jamail, however, carries the positive side of the same imprint.

It's necessary, for a moment, to blank one's mind to the horror and tragedy that Atta, McVeigh and Yousef individually caused, and look at their motives. They each had what they saw as "a cause" which they sought to further. They chose the wrong route - a route of destruction and death. Dahr Jamail too has a cause, but in him it is manifested in a noble and more enlightened way. His "cause" is to let the public see the truth. He furthers it in a way dangerous only to himself. The causes of these four men spookily reflect qualities of the year of their birth, 1968, when numerous events, both tragic and noble occurred, all in pursuit of "causes".

Pluto's transit during 1968 took in 22 to 25 degrees Virgo, with Uranus retrograding from 29 to 25 Virgo then proceeding into Libra by October. Neptune started the year at 25 Scorpio and after some retrograde motion finished in December at 27 Scorpio.

All the outer planets, then, were in the last ten degrees of Virgo or Scorpio for most of the year, often within conjunction (same degree or near) and/or sextile (60*). In the summer months Saturn at between 21 and 25 Aries would have been inconjunct (150*) some of the outer planets.

I'm not going to attempt to interpret those configurations, except to describe the qualities of the three planets involved. Pluto is known as the planet of transformation (sometimes involving death). Uranus is planet of change and revolution. Saturn is planet of laws, rules, structure, representing the establishment and "status quo". Neptune is planet of illusion, delusion, and dreams. The fact that these astrologically powerful planets were so closely aligned during 1968 has to have a very significant connection to the world changing events happening then, as well as to the qualities born into some of the year's natives.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Music Monday ~ That Gently Weeping Guitar

The lyrics of George Harrison's beautiful composition, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
are so meaningful, yet to my mind many artists, however illustrious their record, do not give the piece's meaning enough weight in cover versions.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don't know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all . . .
Still my guitar gently weeps.
Those lyrics are written in such a way that they can be understood either literally or metaphorically.

Literally, one can imagine the singer sitting in the corner of a bedroom watching loved ones sleeping, possibly some have been in trouble or are unhappy. He sings that they are capable of so much love, so much good, but they have been led astray, “perverted” by…could be by weakness or manipulation by others. The possibility for change, through love, remains.

Metaphorically, the sleepers become the whole of humanity. We are innately capable of so much love, yet we have been drawn away from its focus by manipulation, greed, lust, hatred - perversion, by others, or by governments, media, leaders, the Powers That Be.

The singer sees these things, and even his guitar weeps. Literally he sees dirt on the floor around him, metaphorically he sees the wrongs and injustices of life continuing, day after day, and nobody tries to change them - they need sweeping away, just like the dirt on his floor.

There’s a lovely version of the song in the movie “Across the Universe”, it is played when the leading character and a friend first hear of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. The words fit that terrible, and sad, situation so well. This version, for me is the ultimate and definitive vocal version, sung by Martin Luther McCoy and Jim Sturgess. As it is MLK Day today, 15 January, it makes this reference to the song even more apt.

For me, many vocal versions do not do the lyrics' meaning proper justice - the words are virtually thrown away. Looking for some version that would satisfy me, I found two - strangely they are both jazz versions - but the musicians really understood what the lyrics are all about and were able to interpret them beautifully, instrumentally.

British violinist Nigel Kennedy's great instrumental version is eminently goosebump-worthy!

Another great jazz version is played by Portland Oregon group, Black Chamber. I love this, and the video images accompanying it are so apt.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Can a man......?

This question appeared at Quora this week.

I guess it's the currently charged atmosphere of
#Me too and suchlike that has set a few male nerves jangling, perhaps a tad overmuch. Once upon a time such a question wouldn't have seemed at all relevant.

There are some good answers. I especially enjoyed reading the one from Andrew Cullum - a little story of his encounter with the boots of the woman standing behind him in line at a 7/11.

I didn't contribute to the thread myself, but the question did set me thinking back through my long lifetime, my interactions with humans of the male variety, searching for examples of commentary from them on my wearing apparel.

You know... my opinion of men on this front is that, in general, they simply do not notice a woman's clothes, unless one wears something deliciously revealing, wildly eccentric or when there's a huge stain on the back where you'd managed to (for instance) sit down in some cheese sauce. The only instances I recall of my clothing being under scrutiny, complimented or commented on have been in conversation with gay guy colleagues, who have always had the knack of doing so delightfully and gracefully. My husband will, occasionally, notice the pattern on a shirt I'm wearing and say he likes the pattern (he's arty farty by nature), but I usually have to ask him directly whether I "look alright". Earlier male significant others in my life have had much the same attitude - even my first husband, an Italian with fairly snazzy fashion consciousness himself, didn't seem to give a hoot what I was wearing.

Maybe it's me! Maybe (I snigger) they loved me for my mind.

All the above being so, I suppose that I'd be flabbergasted more than anything else, if a male commented, unbidden, on an article of my clothing. I would certainly not think he was being sexist - nor would I have thought so when I was much, much younger - but then, I come from a different era.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Paving the Way for Female Artists in Photography & Sculpture

Frances Benjamin Johnston and Barbara Hepworth, these two women, both born in the first half of January, 39 years and the wide Atlantic apart, became two of the first women to be successful in their chosen fields of art: photography and sculpture respectively.

Frances "Fannie" Benjamin Johnston
(15 January 1864 – 16 May 1952) was an early American female photographer and photojournalist whose career lasted for almost half a century. She is most known for her portraits, images of southern architecture, and various photographic series featuring African Americans and Native Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

Rather than posting too small images of some of F.B. Johnstone's photographs here, I'll leave a link to Monovisions a website with a thread of large format images of her photographs - do go take a look:
Vintage: Everyday Life in the U.S by Frances Benjamin Johnston (1900s-1910s)

Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth DBE
(10 January 1903 – 20 May 1975) was an English artist and sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism and in particular modern sculpture. She was one of the few female artists of her generation to achieve international prominence.

Barbara Hepworth was born in Yorkshire on 10 January, 1903. She lived in Cornwall from 1939.
Hepworth emerged in the late 1920s as a leading member of a new generation of sculptors. Her work became increasingly abstract in the 1930s and, after moving to Cornwall, she began to make sculpture in terms of her experience of landscape. She continued to carve throughout her life, but from 1956 she also made works in bronze which allowed her to produce more and which were better suited to international travel.
(See HERE)

This video (around 3 minutes long) offers a brief overview showing some of Barbara Hepworth's sculptures.


Both charts are set for 12 noon, time of birth isn't known in either case. Moon positions and ascendants will not be accurate, as shown.

I wondered if there would be similarities in the charts of these two pioneering women, other than their shared Capricorn Sun sign. They did not share a Moon sign. Ms Johnston's natal Moon would have almost certainly been in Aries, whatever her time of birth - Aries is the classic sign of a pioneer, as it happens! If she were born quite a bit earlier than noon, Moon would have been close to Neptune, and Neptune relates to photography (among other things). Also in Ms Johnston's chart Sun is in helpful sextile to Jupiter and both planets link via 150 degree aspects to Uranus, planet of all that is modern or unexpected. I like that formation for her - it's known as a "Yod" or Finger of Fate. The Yod links the signs of Capricorn (practicality, business) and Scorpio (passion, determination), directing these to Uranus in Gemini - the classic communications sign; this lady's photo-journalism was pure communication, and the fact that it was by a female photographer in that era was unexpected. Bingo!

Frances Benjamin Johnston, born on 15 January 1864 in Grafton, West Virginia, USA.

There is no obvious similarity between the charts. I'm not surprised to see that Barbara Hepworth's chart had extra emphasis on Capricorn, including the sign's ruler, Saturn. To my mind sculpture - the manipulation of solid matter into art - naturally links to Saturn (solidity, rigidity) and Capricorn the Cardinal Earth sign of the zodiac.

Mercury and Jupiter are in Uranus-ruled Aquarius, adding an unexpected, modernistic tone.
Uranus in Sagittarius sextiles Jupiter in Aquarius - so here's a loose similarity to Frances B. Johnston's chart - the Uranus/Jupiter link.

Moon in Barbara Hepworth's chart, was at 5 Gemini at noon, if she were born in the very early hours, Moon might have been in the last degrees of Taurus - that would put it in harmonious trine to Venus, planet of the arts in Capricorn and would be very apt - but it's speculation only!

Dame Barbara Hepworth, born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England, UK.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Three's a.....Triumvirate

Astrologer Robert Hand, in his book Horoscope Symbols wrote:
Mercury is often underplayed in astrological writing. In part this may be because it is not often an obvious source of difficulty to people. Also, I suspect, people find its symbolism less exciting than that of some other planets. Yet it is a symbol of immense importance. It is connected to the mind, especially the logical and reasoning capabilities, and to all forms of communication.

How we communicate is such a huge part of who we are, it colors the perception of those we meet, it's almost always the first thing others notice about us - it's instant.

I've long felt that Mercury, though such a major factor in our personalities, is overshadowed in popular astrology by natal Moon and ascendant. Nothing works without Mercury, it's the essential ingredient, on duty all the time, whether we're in company or sitting alone, reading, typing, listening, watching. I suspect that a person's Mercury placement often plays a stronger part in how they are perceived by others than their Sun, Moon or even their ascendant; I think astrologers would disagree with me on this!

Venus, though not as "all-purpose" as Mercury, also has a major part in the personality. Venus cannot be more than 48 degrees from the Sun in a natal chart, which means it can lie either in the same zodiac sign as the Sun, in one of the adjoining signs, or just one sign beyond adjoining signs. Sun, Mercury and Venus, the possible combinations of their placement in a natal chart was considered on a website now defunct, by a writer whose name remains, sadly, unknown to me. Some years ago I had copied part of an article from the website to my Word Pad because I found it of interest, and mentioned something I considered didn't get enough emphasis in astrology - the important triumvirate of Sun/Mercury/Venus. Here is part of the article, with illustrations added. If any stray reader knows the name of its author, do please let me know in a comment.
"The Sun is the life force of a horoscope, the conceptual furnace that reaches out and draws us into the warmth it projects. It is our purpose in life, supported by the more immediate need of the Moon. The Moon we know well, yet at the Sun we become.

But there are two planets in particular we look to in astrology that aid the Sun more intimately in many ways – Mercury and Venus. All together, the Sun, Mercury and Venus represent a crucially-important triad in the birth chart. In ancient Rome we would call such a triad a ‘triumvirate’ – a ruling council of three men. The first triumvirate ever included Gnaeus Pompey, a top general, Marcus Crassus, a wealthy citizen and Julius Caesar, an ambitious politician. Together, they ruled Rome until individual, personal ambitions emerged to create problems.

In astrology, Mercury and Venus can never be far from the Sun. It is an astronomical reality that Mercury can never stray more than one sign, either side, away from the same sign the Sun is in. Venus can (but rarely does) jump out of this same boundary to inch itself into even one sign beyond. But they are bound by this reality. Let’s think about what this means, astrologically, this tightness of relationship to each other and apply it to lives lived. As we go along, think about your own chart and how this synthesis applies to your own life.

When all three planets are aligned in the same sign, the same archetype is being pressed into consciousness through our ego and core energy, our mind and our social antennae. There is a unified approach to life, a path and purpose that seems sure and right, whether or not this matches up with reality. For instance, consider the sign Pisces. With all three of these bodies in Pisces, there would be a deep-seated focus on things that can help one transcend – intense creativity, for instance. There is no doubt this theme means something to a Pisces. This is because the Pisces Sun is buttressed by Mercury and Venus. All together, they support a defining structure.

Those who have the Sun, Mercury and Venus in the same sign seem to have a strength of purpose – a focus that doesn’t waver as easily as those who have the three bodies in more than one sign. Certainly, this is not a value judgement. Consider that strength of purpose can also easily turn into willful stubbornness and intractability. It is what one does, natural ability to stay focused that counts. Let’s look at an example.

To review, ‘harmony’ through the Sun, Mercury and Venus in the same sign simply means the same message, the same energy, is being pumped through the core of an individual. How one chooses to respond to this energy and message is what is at stake on an ongoing basis. When one acts with determination and focus, does he or she still retain the strength of will to change gears when necessary and see other possibilities? This is what will determine successful use of these energies.

Outside of harmony, there is discord.

We might consider the astrological imprint of the Sun and Mercury or Venus in one sign but the third planet in a second sign as an example of discord. For instance, Sun and Mercury in Aries but Venus in Pisces. The Sun and Mercury are symbolizing ‘me first’ kind of energies in this example. There is courage and a willingness to engage the world in a fiery kind of way. Venus, though, as the social antennae, splashes some water on this notion and will react and behave differently than the Sun and Mercury. Of course, only one human being is being discussed here in the long run, and that person needs to assimilate energies that are fundamentally different. Consider Caesar with only the support of one partner. In the case above, only the wealthy Crassus supports him without question but Pompey, the general, does not – at least not with additional work.

Of course, let us realize this can be done, this assimilation of energies that are different. People do it every day – millions who go about their business. Some people may or may not be conscious of the subtle and not-so-subtle energies that pull and prod until we make choices and define who we are in the process. We are calling it ‘discord’ to create an image in our minds of two energies that work together while the third, renegade energy has to negotiate with the others every time a decision needs to be made! In the same example, the ego (Sun) is feeling the swell of Aries pride and the mind (Mercury) races on ahead with it, completely ready to wade into a crowd of people and talk about anything. Meanwhile, the social antennae indicator (Venus) is putting on the brakes. "Well, maybe I’ll just float about in the corner and see if anyone notices me instead." Venus won’t win all the time. But the fact is, it’s a constant mini battle to understand oneself and ones motivations.

Three planets in three different signs I refer to as dissonance.

Again, this is simply a descriptive word to understand symbols that are fundamentally different, all calling out for different needs to be fulfilled. Instead of one voice acting as the lone renegade, we now have three voices all trying to run the show, with the Sun calling out for most of the attention. It is Caesar trying to lead (one’s Sun) without Crassus or Pompey working alongside– of course it can be done, but it demands adjustment. For the person with this sort of dissonance, the adjustment is a lifelong work-in-progress but should be increasingly easier with growing self-awareness.

To review, let us be clear that the idea of dissonance to describe three different themes of expression is merely a different path to potential success. Just as we learned harmony of thought and intent can be a mixed blessing, dissonance between the Sun, Mercury and Venus is no different. Value judgements must be left at the altar of personal choice.

The Last Say
The politics of ancient Rome was a tricky business. As Caesar's military successes aroused Pompey's jealousy, the death of Crassus on top of this pushed history’s first Triumvirate to an end. Pompey and Caesar then set against each other in a bloody civil war. The Sun, Mercury and Venus are a lot like the symbols of the ancient triumvirate in Rome, in many ways. But in our own internal ruling council, we have the last say. We get to determine our own fates, to avoid the chaos competing energies can bring. We have the free will to quash an inner civil war, to realize with grace that reaching the warm light of our Sun is the destination all energies must share.
While on the subject of Mercury and Venus - two other articles of interest, these by Michael R. Meyer: The Four Faces of Mercury and Venus, Morning Star, Evening Star. The articles discuss the cycles of Mercury and Venus in some detail.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Golden Globules

We actually watched 'proper' TV for a few hours on Sunday evening, instead of foraging for binge-worthy material on Netflix. Yep, it was time, once again, for distribution of those Golden Globules!

This year the show had a Feminism theme - "Me too" or "Time's Up" - not sure which, but both are shout-outs, to any would-be sexual harassers, that women in the workplace will no longer put up in silence with harassers' doings. Good thing too!

Women at the glitzy affair this year all donned their chosen uniform: black designer gowns, a few of of which, I thought, could have been a tad more modest, less enticing to any would-be predators! There was the occasional black trouser suit on show too, Susan Sarandon wore one of those.

I was very happy to see Frances McDormand and Allison Janney both win awards - two of my own favourites.

I was already determined to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri when the DVD is released - I've had the film bookmarked since I first read about in last September/October. Frances McDormand received the Best Actress award for her part in the film. Allison Janney received Best Supporting Actress award for her role in I, Tonya. We hadn't heard of this film, but after learning of its theme, husband is keen to see it, commenting "How on earth did they come to make a film about Tonya Harding?" I'd never even heard of this person. Apparently, Tonya was a figure skater, Ms Janney plays her mother.

Oh yes...Oprah and her speechifying. She was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award. I have never been a fan of Ms Winfrey, or her speeches - still am not. She's a good reader, wears those would-be intellectual heavy-rimmed specs rather well, but until she speaks out for all the underprivileged, all the homeless, all the jobless, all those in dire need in the USA, then I'm not impressed. She is a typical Establishment Democrat. Did she support Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries? No - to my recall only Susan Sarandon did that. That says it all for me. Case closed.