Saturday, July 31, 2010

7 UP & The UP Series: Saturn Cycles?

A fascinating example of what is now known as "reality TV" began as a single documentary during early years of television in Britain. In 1964 Granada Television produced 7 Up. It has slowly grown into The Up Series. The original programme was followed, at intervals, by 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up 42 Up and 49 UP. From which list the mathematically inclined reader will deduce that the programmes had some connection with 7-year cycles. Sure enough. The programmes followed the lives of a group of British children, all born in or near 1957, from age 7 onward into adulthood, at 7-year intervals. The children came from very different backgrounds, wealthy upper-class, local authority children's home, urban, rural, and much inbetween.

The "Up" series was based on the Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man." In tandem with that premise, the shows aimed to show that, like it or not, the British class system remained largely in place.

I recently bought the DVD set of the full series to date. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing some episodes again after many years, and discovering, at last, what has happened to the group during later, unseen, episodes. My American husband has found the films fascinating in their Britishness, yet not completely unrelatable to life in the USA. People are people are people!

Astrologically inclined readers will already be thinking: Saturn! For a rundown on the 7-year cycles of Saturn see Jim D'Amato's article The Saturn Cycles. It has been a source of mild frustration to me that I can't know the birth data of those involved in the series, for this would be a wonderful opportunity to study natal charts with life patterns. However, these people have probably been exposed to enough already without a nosey blogger like myself adding to their discomfort. Even so - it'd be such an interesting exercise.

Respected movie critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the DVD set:
They (the programmes) also strike me as an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium. No other art form can capture so well the look in an eye, the feeling in an expression, the thoughts that go unspoken between the words. To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.

Paul Almond, a Canadian television and motion picture screenwriter, director and producer was 7 Up's creator. His English assistant and researcher Michael Apted (Sun in Aquarius)soon took over from him and has continued directing the programmes. He was involved in the original selection of the children. The kids were chosen, often with advice from their schools, on ability to express themselves well and be reasonably outgoing. It's remarkable that the group chosen has provided such varied and fascinating life stories. One of the group has emigrated to Australia, one to the USA, one likely to move to Spain. Most have married and have families, some have divorced - some re-married. Two teach, one dropped out of society completely but later found a way back, two practice law, one is a taxi driver, one is a fork-lift truck driver, one works in the construction industry, one for the BBC, one is a children's librarian, one a secretary.....and so on.

Class - the curse of the British - raises its ugly head often in the series. Some of the most amusing interviews, early on, are with priggish and pretentious little 7-year old boys and a girl from upper-class, wealthy backgrounds and expensive private schools. Some of these kids mature and develop rather more compassionately than others, and here lies much of the programme's fascination. Watching early episodes, it was easy to make assumptions about the futures of the boys and girls. Those assumptions often turned out to be very wide of the mark. The gorgeously bright and lively 7-year old Liverpudlian who seemed like the star of the first show, but in adulthood became an anti-social depressive. A development that shocked many viewers. The shy country lad brought up on an isolated farm in the Yorkshire Dales became a nuclear physicist and Professor at a university in the USA.

It's a sobering experiment to look at one's own life in 7-year slices. In my own case, until my 28-Up, or even 35-Up years, I hadn't got into a groove at all. My life didn't properly fit me before then. I'd have made a very boring subject.

One of the best reviews of the DVD set, other than Roger Ebert's, linked above is this one by Bill Gibron at DVD Talk. In his last paragraph he says:

All plaudits and platitudes aside, The Up Series is phenomenal. There is nothing else like it in the history of cinema, both in the documentary and straight narrative format. It proves the age-old adage that truth is stranger and more dramatic than fiction, and as a film series, it never once fails to move and manipulate you. Apted has plans in place to keep the series going on indefinitely – or as long as there are enough participants willing and brave enough to open up their lives to the invasive invitation over the next few decades – and the possibilities seem endless. Just like life. Indeed, The Up Series is really a devastating portrait of life as it is lived.

In the last episode of the series so far, 49Up, some of the participants began to air their grievances about the programmes. One indicated that this would be her last: "This is me - I'm done!" she said candidly, but without rancour. Others hinted that the intrusion into their privacy every 7 years was becoming unwelcome. One was very vocal about her lack of control. One, rather scathingly, likened the programmes to Big Brother or I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (the same one who "couldn't see the point of it all" at age 7.) He had only taken part in some of the later episodes to publicise his charity though - so actually the programmes had a point for him, if he could manage the humility to see it! Only one participant said the programmes were "important", even though he found the early ones painful, reminding him of his roots and homeland, which he misses. Two of the original group dropped out completely in their 20s, for their own reasons. Others of the group seem accepting and have taken it all in their stride.

It'll be interesting to see whether a 56Up does emerge in the next few years, and how many of the original group are still willing to take part.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Truth in Art: Verdadism, Soraida Martinez, Robert Shetterly.

Verdadism: a combination of the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) and the English suffix for theory (ism). The contemporary art style, created in 1992 by Puerto Rican artist Soraida Martinez is defined by the juxtaposition of figurative abstract paintings with written social commentaries. Verdadism could be described as a 21st century socially conscious art.

Soraida’s thought-provoking and visually stimulating art style addresses sexism, racism, and stereotyping, aiming to promote tolerance and social change. It has influenced the work of many contemporary artists and writers and is being used by educators nationwide to teach diversity and tolerance.

Born in New York City on 30 July 1956, Soraida studied art and psychology at Rowan University, with a specialization in design. In 1996, she was appointed by the governor to a seat on the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Socially conscious, social commentary...which astrological factors are likely to show up?

I thought first of Aquarius, then its ruler, Uranus. Nothing in the chart is emphasising Aquarius (apart from Chiron), unless Aquarius was rising, which we cannot know without a time of birth. But look at rebel planet Uranus sitting just 5 degrees from natal Leo Sun! Venus (art) in Gemini is in close harmonious trine to Neptune (imagination, creativity), and in helpful sextile to powerhouse Pluto in Leo - all at 27 degrees of their signs. It's Sun conjunct Uranus that defines this artist though.

Here are just a few examples of Soraida's work, more can be seen in the Gallery section of her website

The Terror Of Demasking Oneself

"In this society, we have been conditioned to be what people want us to be. We - as individuals - are afraid to be individuals. That's because American society, which is based on democracy, is actually not so open-minded when it comes to new ideas or different races. And, as human beings, we all know that; therefore, many of us have the terror of demasking ourselves. Most of us would rather die than let someone really know us...perhaps, because of the fear of rejection or a lack of awareness. So we live a 'so-so' life: never being ourselves; sleeping and wearing our daily masks; always afraid of being awaken."

Rage: It's My Body

"At a point in my life, I kept hearing politicians making decisions about abortion, sexual harassment and other issues about women. Most of them were men. Men telling women what to do with their bodies and men making decisions for women. What I felt was anger. How dare they not even include women in these choices. The tear in the female mask of Rage shows the pain and anger of living in a male dominated society that keeps women from making their own choices. The band across the neck is a man's red necktie which holds the woman in place and stifles her being. The red color represents a woman's blood as it is sucked out of her soul. The blocked hands depict the obstacles that are put before women. Rage: It's My Body is a painting about the violation of the female human spirit."

Guitar Player: A Symbol Of Hope

"When I was nine years old, I visited family who lived along the Puerto Rican Mountainside where I remember seeing the "cuatro" being played by many Puerto Ricans and I thought to myself that music was played everywhere to symbolize hope. Guitar Player: A Symbol Of Hope depicts the hope that we are all born with. Even though by the age of forty most of us have already lost that hope, Guitar Player is the embodiment of that desire to regain lost hope. The whites of the eyes of Guitar Player are able to penetrate deep into your soul to make a connection with your lost hope. The guitar itself is reminiscent of the everlasting, ringing sound that soothes us when there is hope and haunts us when there's no hope."

I'd already started preparing a post about Soraida when synchronicity struck. Last week at Common Dreams, where art isn't a regular feature, I read the piece Portraits of Courage by Robert Shetterly. The article provides background to Robert Shetterly's book and travelling exhibit "Americans Who Tell the Truth". He doesn't categorise this work as Verdadism, yet it seems to be exactly that. He has painted portraits of some of his fellow-countrymen, people who he considers to be "great Americans who spoke the truth", juxtaposing or including within the portrait, some of their words.

I can find no birth data for Mr. Shetterly except that he was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At his website,(linked below) in the Bio section he wrote:

The second strong feeling - the first being horror - I had on September 11 was hope, hope that the United States would use the shock of this tragedy to reassess our economic, environmental, and military strategies in relation to the other countries and peoples of the world. Many people hoped for the same thing - not to validate terrorism, but to admit that the arrogance and appetite of the U.S., all of us, have created so much bad feeling in many parts of the world that terrorism is inevitable. I no longer feel hopeful. If one looks closely at U.S. foreign policy, the common denominator is energy, oil in particular. The world is running out of oil. Political leadership that had respect for the future of the Earth and a decent concern for the lives of American and non-American people would be leading us away from conflict toward conservation and economic justice, toward alternative energy, toward a plan for the survival of the world that benefits everyone. We see hegemony and greed thinly veiled behind patriotism and security. We get pre-emptive war instead of pre-emptive planning for a sustainable future. The greatness of our country is being tested and will be measured not by its military might but by its restraint, compassion, and wisdom.......

I began painting this series of portraits - finding great Americans who spoke the truth and combining their images with their words - nearly three years ago as a way of to channel my anger and grief. In the process my respect and love for these people and their courage helped to transform that anger into hope and pride and allowed me to draw strength from this community of truth tellers, finding in them the courage, honesty, tolerance, generosity, wisdom and compassion that have made our country strong. One lesson that can be learned from all of these Americans is that the greatness of our country frequently depends not on the letter of the law, but the insistence of a single person that we adhere to the spirit of the law.

My original goal was to paint fifty portraits. I've now gone beyond that and have decided to paint several more

Just 4 portraits taken from his book, all can be seen at the artist's own website.

Howard Zinn

“The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power, but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law. It allocates wealth and poverty in such calculated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.”

Pete Seeger

"Song, songs kept them going and going; They didn't realize the millions of seeds they were sowing. They were singing in marches, even singing in jail. Songs gave them the courage to believe they would not fail."

Mary Harris - Mother Jones

“Goodbye, boys; I’m under arrest. I may have to go to jail. I may not see you for a long time. Keep up the fight! Don’t surrender! Pay no attention to the injunction machine at Parkersburg. The Federal judge is a scab anyhow. While you starve he plays golf. While you serve humanity, he serves injunctions for the money powers.”

Langston Hughes

“Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, the stealth, the lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers,
The mountains and the endless plain —
All, all the stretch of these great green states —
And make America again.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transits of the Outer Planets

Transits, or more accurately planetary transits, are terms used to describe real time movements of the Sun, Moon and planets. Astrologers relate the planets' transits, or positions during a particular time span, to the position of the planets in a birth chart or mundane chart. This exercise enables them to predict a variety of likely life cycle "atmospheres" and changes.

In his book Astrology for the Millions American astrologer Grant Lewi put forward a theory which I hadn't come across before, but which makes a lot of sense to me. He considered that, with regard to transits of the outer planets, it is the length of time they spend in a particular position that is paramount in their influence upon matters on Earth, rather than any inherent differences in the astrological characteristics of the planets themselves. Transits of the inner planets, to near-exact degrees of a sign, can last from hours to weeks, whereas the outer planets' transits last from many months to several years. Lewi believed that the nature of the experience under transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto is substantially the same.
"It is in reconciling the similarity of the experience with the lengthening out of the time process that you achieve an understanding of yourself, and of how to handle the influences"...
.....of Uranus, Neptune, etc. as they travel through the signs and houses and over the planets in your chart. He feels that, for instance, a Uranus transit to the Sun is essentially the same as a Saturn transit or even a Mars transit. The difference is in the time the planet remains in one place (over or in aspect to a natal planet or point).

Our bodies and minds are naturally conditioned to the fast transits of the inner planets and Moon; even to the relatively fast transits of Jupiter and Mars. By adulthood we have experienced several of these and instinctively, or subconsciously respond quite naturally to them. But when we experience a conjunction or hard aspect involving one of the outer planets, lasting for much longer, it seems different. It is different. Not in the ways we might first suppose: i.e. Saturn's influence is said to be restrictive or severe, Uranus brings the "unexpected", Pluto is the transformer....etc. the transit feels different because it lasts so much longer. In truth, the influence itself is the same in each case. Or so Mr Lewi theorises.

From chapter 12 (page 376) The Grand Strategy of Living - part 1: The Nature and Meaning of the Planets
"It used to be stated, or implied, in the older astrological texts, that each of the Planets had a different quality, character, or tone, because of something inherent in its nature, Thus Saturn might have been said to have the quality of iron, hardness, weight; the character of sobriety or gloom; the tone of G-sharp Minor below middle C, or of the rumble of distant thunder. Mars might have been said to have the quality of hot steel, the character of courage or recklessness, and the tone of an awakening bugle. Whether these attributes emanated from the physio-chemical structure of the planets, which caused them to emit rays of a certain quality, or from other causes, was not clarified.

The premise seems to have been that each Planet had a quality inherent in itself, differentiating it and its influence from that of other Planets because of this self-contained quality.

Over a long period of study, in contact with numerous charts viewed experimentally and clinically, I have come to the conclusion that, so far as their astrological influence is concerned, the Planets do not differ in inherent quality. We know from the astronomers, physicists, spectrum-analysts, and chemists that the physical structure of the Planets is different, quantitatively, with respect to the percentages in which the elements are found in them and their atmospheres; and qualitatively, with respect to their stages of hotness, coolness, age, youth, formedness or non-formedness. It is possible that these differences do bear on their astrological influence.

However, consistent observation of planetary effects in a very large number of charts leads me to the conclusion that, whether or not Planets differ in their inherent character, their chief observable difference as they act in the chart is traceable directly to the difference in the rate of motion with which they pass through the Vitasphere...................."
(Grant Lewi calls the natal chart, or "map of your birth" the Vitasphere.)"Once we disabuse our minds of the idea that Planets differ in quality, and base our view of the chart on their differences in rate of motion, we come to grips with the basic realities of the Vitasphere, with the meaning of planetary influences in the forming of character and the timing of opportunity."
That the effects of outer planet transits might have more to do with the length of their stay than with the traditional definition of the nature of that planet, seems logical enough. Pluto, Uranus and Saturn are broadly similar - they bring changes. This isn't surprising. Their motion is so slow as to make a visit from them to natal planets something unusual - a change in itself, and fundamental changes of outlook do occur at these times. Neptune is not as easy to see as a bringer of change though - change of attitude, perhaps, rather than experiencing change of outside circumstances.

It's quite difficult to turn off the astrological definitions stored in memory. In spite of trying I still tend to fall back on traditional interpretations. Even so, Grant Lewi's idea is well worth keeping in mind.

(Edited version of post from August 2007.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Woo-Woo ~ MAGICK

Magick with a k - different from conjurors' magic. Magick aka sorcery resides in the deepest darkest corners of Woo. It's a vast subject, if taken from a global perspective, too vast for a modest blog post. I'll simply skim the surface of Western-type magick and its background.

Astrology may play some part in the supposed workings of magick - the timing of spells or procedures, the preparation of a talisman, for instance. Mediaeval magicians would almost always need some level of astrological knowledge, for them astrology was part and parcel of occult practice. I see it as otherwise - but that's just me.

From relatively modern times, Aleister Crowley is the first name that springs to mind when contemplating magick. The name alone gives me the creeps. A predecessor by several centuries, John Dee, has a much better feel for me. Distance does indeed lend enchantment!

It's well nigh impossible now to get a true feel and understanding of what life was like in John Dee's time and place - 16th century England and Europe. Let's see, what was going on around then? Religious reformation, exploration of the globe, discovery and colonisation of new lands, plagues, The Renaissance, developments in philosophy, science, art, literature and politics continued apace. Magic(k) was an integral part of life in the 16th century. At times it must have been difficult to differentiate between magick and reality, living in the midst of such seemingly eccentric change.

Intellectuals used magick in their efforts to discover "the meaning of life". While men like John Dee, scholar, mathematician, alchemist, occultist, astronomer, and astrologer, had sincere aspirations, they often fell foul of religious leaders who sensed that the knowledge they were aiming to acquire could weaken religion's control of the masses. John Dee was fortunate to enjoy patronage and protection from Queen Elizabeth the First for many years, as her advisor. Lesser mortals, namely women - witches - who involved themselves in magic to help themselves, neighbours and friends, were ostracised at best, tortured and executed at worst.

There's an entertaining article on John Dee by astrologer Dr Z : Who's the Original 007?

Magick in the 16th century, and now, covers a varied range of occult activity, the focus of all: to cause change, material or otherwise. Rituals of various kinds play a major part in magickal preparation. These rituals (I'm guessing) could exert an effect of some abnormal kind upon the proponent's brain function. Sexual connections occasionally crop up too. Don't they always?

A broomstick, accessory of any respectable Hallowe'en witch, was thought, in reality to have been annointed with an ointment made from hallucinogenic plants, the ointment then being transferred to the mucous membrane of the broomstick "rider" for rapid absorption, with the result of...well, a feeling of flying I guess. I feel I should add "Don't try this at home!"

A sexual link can be found in the first few lines of Wikipedia's "Magick" section:

The Anglo-Saxon k in Magick is a means of indicating the kind of magic which Crowley performed. K is the eleventh letter of several alphabets, and eleven is the principal number of magick, because it is the number attributed to the Qliphoth - the underworld of chaotic forces that have to be mentally conquered before magick can be performed. K has other magical implications: it corresponds to the power or shakti aspect of creative energy, for k is the ancient Egyptian khu, the magical power. Specifically, it stands for kteis (vagina), the complement to the wand (or phallus) which is used by the Magician in certain sexual magick aspects of the Great Work

Sex sells - whether car, broomstick or magickal ideas.

The $64,000 question: does magick work? Is it possible to "cause" change? Some obviously think so, otherwise the idea wouldn't still be around. This desire to change things seems to be tightly woven into human nature. A favourite quote from Edward Fitzgerald's translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:
Ah love! could you and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits -
And then Re-mold it nearer to the heart's desire!
A tale from personal experience. Many years ago, after a period of misfortune, ill health and downright bad luck, as a last resort I enlisted the assistance of a so-called magician to change circumstances, by removing what I sensed as a bad influence affecting myself and my late partner. To cut a long story short what he did (if he did anything at all other than take a lot of money from me) might have been instrumental in our losing everything we owned, almost lost our lives too, in a fire. I'll never be certain that there was a connection, but the timing was sinister to say the least.

So.... my advice about magick: leave it alone. Better to be safe, meeting challenges in more usual ways, than sorry after trying to change things using occult means.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I welcome a guest post today from Gian Paul in Brazil - the first of many, I hope.

NOTE: In order to avoid confusion about the term Maya in the context of this post:
Columbia Encyclopedia:
maya (mä'yä), in Hinduism, term used in the Veda to mean magic or supernatural power. In Mahayana Buddhism it acquires the meaning of illusion or unreality. The term is pivotal in the Vedanta system of Shankara, where it signifies the world as a cosmic illusion and also the power that creates the world.

And in more detail at
Wikipedia's section on Maya

by Gian Paul

The Hindus may have a point with their concept of Maya. If it's a concept. Maybe it's far more than that and if we "knew for sure", that could be "mind - shattering" indeed.

A common misconception in the Western world is that Maya is the illusion. That's not quite the case as it is Maya which CREATES the illusion(s). In astrology we may be facing a similar phenomenon: it's not the planets or their respective positions, transits, etc. which originate anything. The cause for any event or situation to materialize is beyond the planets. They however obey in their cycles to the same forces to which all events obey. So they coincide and/or converge.

I once read the following bon-mot:
"Said the board to the nail, why are you splitting me? Said the nail, look for the one who is hitting me"...
The original, biblical chaos which the Grand Architect reportedly "put into order", could explain why everything became thereafter connected. Humans in general may not see that but astrologers at times manage to glimpse some part of it by deduction from repeatedly having observed coincidences which then turn out to be probabilities and even more than that.

Here's a quite funny story told in India, reportedly by one of Vishnu's sub-deities. Like the ancient Greek gods, the Indian ones also, and still today, like to mingle with beautiful girls down here on earth. And they have direct descendants, but they are simple humans, entirely subject to the effects of Maya. One day this sub-deity could not resist visiting one of his sons on earth and engaged in a "serious conversation". During which the son in question wanted to know more about Maya from his celestial parent. So here a short transcript:
Son: When I was young I fell in love, got married, had several children and continue to care for them all. Including for my wife from whom I am now divorced. It's not always easy and by far not an illusion. I only have to look at my bank statement at the end of each month!

Celestial Father: When I spent that night with your mother which then turned out to be the event responsible for you being born on earth, I had told her that for one night she should believe that all is an illusion, result of Maya, and therefore of little consequence. As she was in love with me she accepted that. For a short time she entered the "realm of illusion" which I was proposing.

Son: So it's all a lie, Maya?

Celestial Father: No. For those who wish it to be true it's not an
illusion. But as there is still money coming into your bank account at the end of every month, you may have difficulties in understanding that.

There are other versions of this story, but they are less convincing. One of them being that the Son was born in heaven, close to his Celestial Father, but had wished to live on earth. So he was given permission to go ahead but also warned that it would be all an illusion. After which exactly the same happened to him on earth as related above. When he met one day again with his Celestial Father, he was asked if he would now prefer to believe that "all was illusion". He readily accepted and returned to where he had come from.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Monday ~ Chopin, Tristesse, So Deep is the Night

Last Music Monday I mentioned how O Fortuna! from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff had seeped into the public's consciousness via movies and TV ads. Here's another classical piece which has been popularised in ways its composer might never have imagined: Chopin's Étude Op. 10 No. 3 in E major, also known as "Tristesse". The melody will be familiar to many, its simplicity belies its ability to touch the listener deeply. Chopin, in exile in France, poured into his music the grief and homesickness he felt for his homeland, Poland, a country then at war. He said of his composition: "In all my life I have never again been able to find such a beautiful melody."

Over the years several different sets of lyrics have been added to the main melody of Tristesse, probably the best known song being So Deep is the Night. Lesser known songs: Tristesse, No Other Love, Never Again, Dans la Nuit, This Day of Days all use Chopin's melody. The music, written for piano, has since been adapted for guitar and other instruments.

Some video samples of the piece of music follow, below.

Frédéric Chopin was a child prodigy, his first composition published when he was just seven years old. At age eight he began performing in aristocratic salons. Born near Warsaw, Poland to French and Polish parents, he moved to Paris in 1831, never to return to his homeland.For the much of his short life Chopin suffered from poor health; died in Paris, aged 39, of pulmonary tuberculosis.
A piece in the UK's Independent newspaper dashed my image of Chopin as a softly sensitive poet of piano music, whose heart bled for his exiled homeland. It appears that, like last Monday's subject, Carl Orff, this brilliant composer and pianist had a dark side.
From Chopin: Genius or Monster?
The stock images are of the staunch Polish patriot, and of the hypersensitive aesthete coughing his heart out as he pens his romantic melodies. Yet in truth Chopin was a political arch-conservative, an artistic and social snob, and a dandy who hated contact with the rest of the human race.

Moreover, though his music may have been revolutionary, he was a stern Classicist, despising the Romanticism of his friends Liszt, Schumann and Mendelssohn. Meanwhile, his phenomenal reputation as a virtuoso rested on a mere 30 concerts. None of this fits the stereotype.

Chopin's character still troubles even his most ardent champions. "A very strange person, very hard to like," is the verdict of Andras Schiff, who plays his music with rare insight and sensitivity. Anti-Semitism was only one of Schiff's charges: after researching him in depth for a biographical film, he found he didn't like the man at all.

This feeling would have been echoed by the 19th-century Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, for whom Chopin was a "moral vampire". Mickiewicz was one of two Polish exiles who called on Chopin at the height of his fame, and he didn't even answer the door to them. Chopin's heart had bled for his native Poland in 1831 as the Russians advanced on Warsaw, but all thoughts of revolution, indeed of any kind of political instability, horrified him. As an exile, he desperately needed the reassurance of a fixed social order.

There's a question mark over his date of birth. He was born in 1810 - he and his family celebrated his birthday on 1 March, but documents state 22 February. An explanation given by the composer was that his parents had accidentally given the wrong date to authorities when registering the birth/baptism. Astrodatabank uses 1 March 1810 at 6pm, I'll go along with that.

Sun conjunct Venus and Pluto in Pisces could be seen as an astrological thumbnail sketch of a romantic artist (Venus in Pisces) with a dark(Pluto) side. If time of birth is near correct, these planets are close to the descendant angle, one of the chart's strongest positions. Close to the nadir, another strong position, is Neptune conjunct Saturn in Sagittarius, in square aspect to the Pisces cluster. Again, there's a feel of creativity(Neptune) dampened by limitation and negativity (Saturn). Chopin's sadness and/or the darker side of his character are described clearly in the way his natal planets were configured at his birth.

A touching example of what the music and lyrics of So Deep is the Night meant to a member of a bomber crew in World War 2 (article here).
Tom enjoyed the popular music of the time, much of which reflected the troubled and emotional turmoil that people experienced during the war years. Tom copied out the words of many of his favourite songs in his notebook; perhaps the most fitting for those of bomber crews was "So deep is the night", some words of which also inspired Don Charlwood to name his book about his experiences with 103 squadron at Elsham Wolds "No Moon Tonight".

And a related comment at YouTube:
In his book 'No Moon Tonight', Don Charlwood, an Australian who served during WW2 as a Navigator on Lancasters with 103 Squadron RAF Elsham Wolds, relates how this song was often played in the Mess at Elsham, listened to by aircrew, many who did not come back from ops over Germany.

CLASSIC VERSION. Etude Op. 10 No. 3 played by Joseph Bachana

SO DEEP IS THE NIGHT - a choral version. I didn't find a solo which does the music justice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

IN OTHER NEWS...............

25 July marks the ancient Roman festival of Furrinalia, honoring the goddess (or nymph) Furrina. Detail of her relevance has been lost in the mists of time. In on-line sources she is linked to robbers and thieves, the Furies, and more likely to be accurate I suspect, to some aspect of water: spring water. A grove and spring dedicated to her was discovered on the Janiculum - one of the hills of Rome. Her festival comes two days after Neptunalia, dedicated to Neptune, originally god of fresh water, later associated with Greek god Poseidon to become god of the seas. In this list of Roman holidays Furrina is linked to "drilling operations and wells" or springs and wells. Drilling operations are a sore subject on America's Gulf coast at present. To offer up a wee prayer to Furrina on her day - can't do any harm.

It was drawn to my attention by a kindly commenter, following my recent post on Boston Legal, that actor James Spader has recently finished a run on Broadway in a play Race by David Mamet. The play continues with a fresh cast, and the part Spader played (a lawyer) has been taken by none other than Eddie Izzard. Here's the astro kicker....Spader and Izzard share a birthday : 7 February, though there are 2 years between. Coincidence? Probably - but a good one. Eddie Izzard will do an excellent job in Race, I feel sure, though to my mind he'll never better his part in Across the Universe - he defined Mr. Kite for all time.

Saw Despicable Me this week. Enjoyed it. What has stayed in my mind is a conversation between Gru (the anti-hero) and his mother, voiced by Julie Andrews. In the relevant scene Gru describes his inventions and successes for Mom's approval. She responds to each with a dismissive "Fnyeh",wonderfully intoned. We thought this must be a form of the irritating "meh" - which has entered the language - and dictionary - recently. "Fnyeh" is much better, done properly it's far more expressive. A little googling tells me that "fnyeh" has Yiddish origins, whereas "meh" seems to hare originated with The Simpsons on TV. We've taken to doing "fnyehs" all over the place since our visit to the cinema.
See Michael Wex's site

What are most people saying?....."Fnyeh".

AND....British cartoonist Ronald Searle's rendition of LEO from Searle's Zodiac. He has featured the "Leo hair". It's often thought that people with emphasis on zodiac sign Leo in their natal charts have plentiful and lustrous hair. I've known a few who had plentiful and lustrous shiny pates too though.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Richard Hamilton

 Heaventree of Stars

While searching for artwork related to astrology, I came across this print by English pop artist Richard Hamilton. The artist's name wasn't familiar to me, but I liked the print so delved further.

Richard Hamilton has been dubbed "Father of Pop Art". It was he who coined a name for the genre in fact, and has influenced many artists who came after. He's still around, aged 88, still working too.

Hamilton's best known work is a 1956 collage often cited as the beginning of English Pop Art: Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? It was originally intended to be a poster advertising a famous London exhibition, This Is Tomorrow.

Hamilton takes pride in variety. His work ranges from book illustration, for instance his 50-year stint illustrating James Joyce's Ulysses, through collages, sculptures, politically charged pictures, digital images, and straight-ahead painting. He's a friend of Paul McCartney and designed the now famous cover of the Beatles' White Album along with the poster which accompanies it. The album cover, one might think, needed little in the way of design - but the story goes that it was made deliberately simple after the uproar following a previous album cover showing the lads with butchered body parts and dolls' heads.

Richard Hamilton was born in London on 24 February 1922. No birth time available so 12 noon chart is shown.

Sun/Venus/Uranus conjunct in Pisces, Moon (whatever the birth time) in Aquarius with Mercury. It's all there, in a nutshell! Sun (self) Venus (art) Uranus(the unexpected, avant garde, eccentric) all closely linked in Pisces (creativity and dreams.) Moon (inner self) and Mercury (communication, mental process) in Aquarius, sign ruled by Uranus (as above). As if that weren't enough to describe him, there's a Yod (Finger of Fate) linking Saturn (work, business) and Neptune (creativity) via sextile, then both planets via quincunx (150*) to Uranus. This formation is interpreted in astrology as a funnelling of the sextiled planets' characteristics through the planet at the apex via its own characteristics. So here, creativity and business are blended, then channelled into the world via a changeable and often unconventional style.


Barmaids Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy from the "Sirens" episode of Ulysses.

The Transmogrification of Bloom (Ulysses)

Shock & Awe (Y'll know this one!)

English politician of the mid 20th century Hugh Gaitskell, disguised as Phantom of the Opera . Hamilton was furious about his refusal to get rid of Britain's nuclear deterrent.

Guggenheim in Chrome

Mick Jagger, and the art dealer Robert Fraser, in handcuffs following a drug raid ( from the Swingeing London series, 1967 - 1972)


Five Tyres Remoulded

The White Album + Insert

The Artist