Friday, September 30, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ George Ault: Depressed, Obsessed, Alcoholic, Dogged by Misfortune

George Ault, a good-looking fellow, as befits Sun, Mercury and Venus in Libra - but he was an artist who could be said to have "painted his depression".

Born into privilege, on 11 October 1891. His parents were wealthy business people who moved from Cleveland, Ohio to London, England when George was young. He had the benefit of a good art education at Slade School of Art and St. John's Wood School of Art. He returned to the United States in 1911. His benign beginnings turned to tragedy, however. His mother died in a mental institution; his three brothers all killed themselves, two of them after losing the family fortune in the stock market crash. By the time his father died his family's fortunes were gone. Ault spent the last 10 years of his life broke and totally dependent on his wife in an artists’ colony in Woodstock, New York, in a tiny rented house with no electricity or indoor plumbing.

Ault seems to have been something of an obsessive, needing order in everything. In his wife's writings (see first link at end of post) she tells that:

Both studio and house needed to be perfectly clean before he could sit down at his easel. Ault would do the chores himself, Louise recalled, shining the small house each morning to its “permanent brilliance” before starting to paint. Outside, Ault “knelt with grass-shears and trimmed on either side of the path, close and neatly, cutting back the wildness to leave a park-like strip,”

When he didn’t paint, he drank, agonized over the Nazi occupation of Paris, and painstakingly arranged and rearranged his personal library. In 1948, a few days after Christmas, Ault joined his brothers. He fell into the icy waters of Woodstock Creek. His body was recovered five days later.

George Ault's depression can be felt in the darkness of many of his later paintings. Neurotic, alcoholic and reclusive, avoided by former friends, who had no doubt been put off by his alarming behaviour. He seldom included people in his paintings, though not due to lack of skill in that direction. A couple of his sketches demonstrate that he was well capable of figure drawing. I suppose, in his depression and alcoholism, having become alienated from his fellows, he had little wish to spare any space on his canvas for them.

Ault's paintings of the 1940s have a distinctive style, not quite surreal, yet not quite realistic. Flat colours, straight lines and sharp angles dominate, with some rather odd perspectives.

Will his depression and obsessions show in his natal chart, I wonder? I have my doubts. His state of mind was mainly brought about by events over which he had no control: his mother's slip into mental instability and death, World War 2, financial ruin of his family, suicide of three siblings. The guy's life was plagued by misfortune!

Let's see: born 11 October 1891 in Cleveland, Ohio. A 12 noon chart will have to suffice as I can find no birth time for him. Rising sign will not be as shown, and Moon, if he was born around or after 5pm would have been in Aquarius rather than Capricorn.

His draw to artistry is easy to find - Libra is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts, and here we have Venus in its own home sign along with his Sun (self) and Mercury (mental orientation). His obsessive need for order? I'd bet that can be laid at the astrological doorstep of Mars tightly conjunct Saturn in Virgo. Virgo is the sign of perfection, Saturn the planet of discipline, with Mars energising an urge for costant order. It's a pity his time of birth isn't known, so's to establish Moon's exact position. If around the 20s of Capricorn, Moon would be in harmonious trine with the Mars/Saturn in Virgo conjunction, strengthening those traits of perfectionism and need for order even further in his nature.

There's another tight conjunction: Pluto/Neptune in Gemini. This one is generational, shared by many well-known and iconic artists and communicators. In Ault's case an harmonious trine to Mercury in Libra gives the conjunction's powerful creativity extra significance.

I don't see any clear pointer towards his depressive state, beyond that indication of a constant reaching for order in everything. Perhaps his rising sign might offer a pointer. If Gemini were rising or in first house, for instance, then the Pluto/Neptune conjunction of potentially powerful creativity might manifest a shadow side: an obsessive addictive personality. Or, perhaps the simple answer would be that his tragic life experiences overwhelmed all - even his natal chart.

January Full Moon

Black Night at Russell's Corners (in Woodstock, close to his home there. Ault painted 5 variations of this scene, another below).

Bright Light at Russell's Corners

Sullivan Street, Abstraction

Brooklyn Heights

View From Brooklyn

Memories of the Coast of France

Old House, New Moon

Studio Interior


Untitled. Seated Female Figure.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Muckrakers & Their Astrology

I think this post from April 2010 could stand a re-airing:

Once upon a time, around the first decade of the 20th century, the USA had a group of writers upon whom the then president, Theodore Roosevelt, bestowed the name "Muckrakers", a term borrowed from literature (John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress). The president could, it seems, see both advantage and disadvantage to the work of these dedicated writers who sought to expose growing social injustice in their country, as it began to flourish and become ever more industrialised.

"Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck rake, speedily becomes, not a help but one of the most potent forces for evil.... The effort to make financial or political profit out of the destruction of character can only result in calamity."Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man with the Muck Rake" speech, 14 April 1906


.....these journalists, through their research and constant exposure of the wrongdoing by officials in American public life, gave fuel to protests that led to investigations and later on reform of not only Corporate America but the American Government. The Muckrakers’ journalistic efforts helped reform and regulate Wall Street and aspects of big businesses. The muckrakers also shed light on an array of social issues, such as the issues with urban housing and horrible living conditions in highly populated cities, medical patents, child labor laws, child prostitution, and even women’s rights.

A few examples:

Upton Sinclair lived among Chicago stockyard workers for several weeks researching his novel The Jungle. He aimed to expose dangerous working conditions in the meatpacking houses. Americans, though, seemed more concerned with the disgusting revelations about how meat was processed than by the conditions under which their fellow-countrymen were forced to work. "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach," Sinclair wrote. The Pure Food and Drugs Act was a direct result of his efforts.

Samuel Hopkins Adams revealed fraudulent claims and endorsements of patent medicines in America. His articles revealed many false claims that pharmaceutical companies and other manufactures made as to the potency of their medicines, drugs and tonics. His work forced a crackdown on a number of other patents and fraudulent schemes of medicinal companies during that time.

Ray Stannard Baker investigated coal mine conditions, a coal strike, and the situation of non-striking workers (or scabs). Many of the non-striking workers had no special training or knowledge in mining, since they were simply farmers looking for work. His investigative work portrayed the dangerous conditions in which these people worked in the mines, and the dangers they faced by union members who did not want them to work.

Ida M. Tarbell is best known for a series of articles which later became a two volume work on John D. Rockefeller and his oil interests: The History of the Standard Oil Company, published 1904. The exposé resulted in federal action and eventually in the breakup of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey under the 1911 Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Lincoln Steffens' aim was to expose the pattern of corruption in local and national government, and the real villains, the supposedly respectable, honest businessmen whose bribes and greed fueled the whole system.

John Spargo a transplanted Briton exposed childhood poverty in his book The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906).

Nellie Bly went undercover in a mental institution to report on the reprehensible conditions inmates lived in. Her work sparked some long-needed reforms. In another instance she got herself arrested for theft to reveal the deplorable treatment of female prisoners.

Jacob Riis
, a transpalanted Dane used his own photography to illustrate his writing and to indict the slums and tenements of New York. He visited stench-ridden tenements on hot summer nights to experience them at their worst. this work was documented in his book How the Other Half Lives.

Henry Demerest Lloyd's
Wealth against Commonwealth & Story of a Great Monopoly, were exposés of corruption related to the railroads and Standard Oil.

Each of those writers deserves their own post (and may well get it in due course!) There were others, too many for a brief blog-post. For now, I'd like to discover whether there were any common factors in the natal charts of this particular group of Muckrakers.

The charts shown below are set for 12 noon. They will not show accurate rising signs or Moon degrees but will be sufficient to show general layout of natal planets. I've copied them in groups which show a particular pattern. (Click on images to enlarge.)

First group of 5: I'll call these the Aries/Taurus Group. These writers had clusters of personal planets close to Pluto (which represents things hidden from view, secrets, the underworld and deep transformation).

Second group of 2: The Aquarius Group. These have Sun and one or two other personal planets in Aquarius, sign which represents social conscience, forward thinking, and the humanitarian - least surprising of the lot, I'd say. Both have some Aries (the initiator and fighter) input too.

Two others: Ida Tarbell with Sun and Mercury in Scorpio (ruled by Pluto and symbolising secrets, deep incisive mental faculties). Scorpio planets lay in opposition to their ruler and Jupiter, which must have surely added to that Pluto/Scorpio dynamic.

Upton Sinclair is a bit of an odd-man-out in this line-up (there's always one!). He had 5 planets in Virgo, one of the writer's signs, ruled by Mercury. He also had Sun/Mars harmoniously trining Pluto in Taurus though - which I reckon qualifies him to join this club.

"We muckraked, not because we hated our world, but because we loved it. We were not hopeless, we were not cynical, we were not bitter."– Ray Stannard Baker.

In the 21st century's second decade, would that we could identify a comparable group of writers, unattached to corporate patrons and without ulterior motives.


April 7 2010
R J Adams said...
Where are they when we need them? Or, perhaps, their modern day equivalents still function: Adam Curtis, John Pilger, Michael Moore? Only today, the powerful elite have learned better how to deal with them.

Twilight said...
~~~ Yes, I'd thought of Pilger and Moore (don't remember Curtis, back in the UK though).
I suppose they are the nearest thing we have to Muckrakers nowadays, but their work doesn't have the same effect, and in Moore's case it smacks a bit of money-making and spotlight grabbing for himself. Not quite sure about him.

Corporate power, anyway, is now that much more effective and, as you say, geared up to deal with such would-be trouble-makers.

R J Adams said...
Adam Curtis directed a number of powerful documentaries for the BBC - The Power of Nightmares; Century of the Self; The Trap.....and others.
If you haven't seen them, they're well worth a look.
Note: I have since watched YouTube editions of Adam Curtis's Century of The Self -highly recommended!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The Sun moved into zodiac sign Libra at the weekend, and will traverse through the sign until 23 October (in other years, give or take a day at either end of the span).

Here's another relevant excerpt from UK astrologer Ingrid Lind's long out-of-print little book Astrology and Commonsense(1962).

Quality: Cardinal
Element: Air
Ruler: Venus

This is the second Air sign, but it by no means echoes the uncomplicated Geminian intellectuality. One has only to look at the contradictory make-up of this sign to understand why. The ruling planet is Venus, and this at once brings a feminine softness with a feeling for harmony and co-operation. In Taurus (the other Venus-ruled sign) the expression of this was primitive in man-woman relationship, but in Libra it has grown into active conceptivity. Moreover it must not be forgotten that Libra is positive, not a negative sign; thus, in following the gradual development of man through the signs, it would perhaps not be too far-fetched to suggest that whereas in Leo he had leisure to enjoy luxury and admiration, in Libra he has now learned to value refinement and intellect. Art and beauty take their place in the scheme of things not merely in nature, in the form of a lovely woman, but in things of the mind. Just as woman in Virgo has learned to be free of man through mental independence, so man in Libra finds beauty elsewhere than in physical form. This general refinement of mind develops in all forms of social graces; diplomacy is possible through the combination of Cardinality (need for action), Venus (harmony and co-operation) and Air (communication and iltellectuality). It is easy to see why Libra is the diplomat rather than Aries, in which action, fire and initiative are undiluted.

Men and women with Libra strongly placed in their chart will reflect all this in their appearance, in good looks of the Grecian type, a ready smile and suave, conciliatory manner. It is typical of Venus to look for points of agreement (Mars will find differences); and it is this active gentleness that is part of Libran charm.

Libran Qualities
Refinement of intellect
Diplomacy and tact
Instinct for partnership
Affection and talent for love
Ability to see both sides.

Libran Faults
Easy-going or degenerate
Liking for the pretty-pretty
Over-reliance on partner
Languorous indolence
Inability to decide.
Other posts about Libra and Libra-types can be accessed by clicking on "Libra" in the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Classless Society ?

Although a classless society sounds, to an egalitarian like me, to be the ideal - it'll never happen. It has never happened, never could happen, no matter how advanced or enlightened we consider we have, or will become, in the future.


In my opinion, and I believe this is backed up by some research, humans have a built-in competitive desire for domination (at some level, major or minor) and a natural bent towards controversy, more pronounced in some than others.

The planets and zodiac have stood for centuries as symbols of human nature. All human life is there, including the factors which will forever deny us the ideal of a classless society. Astrologically the desire to dominate connects to the Sun, Mars, and possibly Jupiter. Among the zodiac signs, Leo Aries and Capricorn contain the seeds of domination and/or leadership. Karl Marx had a vision, but his society wouldn't have been completely classless; certain individuals would have risen to positions of power and domination. Human nature always wins.

But, because a classless society is a pipe dream for some of us, that doesn't negate the urge to strain to attain it. There's another aspect of nature, not necessarily human nature but- I dunno - cosmic nature? A desire for balance. Some have been willing to suffer and even to sacrifice their own lives in the cause of attaining a more balanced society.

Uprisings of serfs against masters, slaves against owners, peasants against the aristocracy, women against a patriarchal society, workers against employers, minorities against segregation, are scattered throughout world history. Each effort brought some small movement away from inequality, but none came anywhere near to removing an imprinted hierarchy in human society. Class struggles will continue. Keep watching.

All history has been a history of class struggles between dominated
classes at various stages of social development.

Friedrich Engels.

I'm resigned to the fact that there'll always be a "ruling class", but what I'm not resigned to is that they would allow levels of poverty develop, and continue to to exist, in a fully developed nation. To that I shall never be resigned.

At a more petty level I'll never be resigned to, for instance, class distinction in travel - air travel, rail travel. I haven't used either for six years, so have avoided the frustration this can bring on. An entry at a blog titled A Source of Fascination reminded me of that frustration:

While waiting to board at Manchester International Airport ...... we were treated to the announcement “First and Business Class passengers may now board through the carpeted lane.” Seriously. The “carpeted lane”. They didn’t quite say “Economy scum – crawl over the broken glass and be grateful that we permit you to rest your fetid gaze upon our magical metal flying bird” – but it was definitely implied.
In my mind such experiences are not far removed from segregation.....they are differentiated only by $$$$$$, rather than by colour of skin.

Let him who expects one class of society to prosper in the highest degree, while the other is in distress, try whether one side of the face can smile while the other is pinched.
Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) British clergyman and author.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday's Make-over Maestro ~ Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible

We happened upon the TV show Restaurant Impossible quite accidentally while channel surfing this summer. The British accent of the guy who appeared to be in charge of proceedings interested me, so we watched that show, and a few weekly episodes thereafter. The presenter, a British-born chef, Robert Irvine is, each week, tasked with re-vamping an unsuccessful restaurant whose owners are about to "go under". Reasons range from inexperience, laziness, lack of imagination or just plain bad management.

Chef Irvine has two days and $10,000 with which to re-decorate, re-train, enhance menus, re-advertise etc. This is always a struggle - of course. It wouldn't be an interesting show if all went strictly to plan. The shows do tend to become formulaic after a while. Always there's the last minute panic to get the floor covering down and furniture in place, and to find ways of doing what would normally cost many tens of thousands of dollars for just a fraction of that. He has a couple of helpers on the decorating side, he deals with the catering, menu improvement and training - and often has to demand some very deep cleaning of disgustingly neglected kitchen areas.

That's something that has rather put me off eating in independently owned establishments. Chain restaurants have their faults, but lack of cleanliness isn't often one of 'em, and though food there can be is predictable, and boring, it's usually reliably edible.

Robert Irvine was a new face to us, but I now find that he has been part of the "food on TV scene" for a while. He has appeared in several foodie shows, Dinner Impossible, for example.

My research indicates that Chef Irvine has not always been 100% truthful about his credentials, having enhanced and embroidered his résumé far beyond generally acceptable self-promotion. In the past he has claimed to have been involved in making Princess Di's wedding cake, to have been awarded a high honor by Queen Elizabeth, worked with US presidents, and other, similar exaggerations, aka lies.
This trait cost him his place on one TV series, when found out, though he was later reinstated, possibly because in spite of his faults he's good at what he does.

He's entertaining to watch - a cross between a pitbull and a cuddly bear. Ex-navy, arms akin to Popeye's, looks as though he spends 12 hours-a-day in the gym, and has the bearing and attitude of an old-time sergeant major. He pulls no punches, minces no words, and can be very, very candid, even hurtful to those he considers need a kick up the rear end. Yet in two shows, featuring elderly restaurant owners who were likely to lose their retirement savings along with their restaurants if things didn't improve, his attitude changed dramatically. I believe he even had tears in his eyes in one case. So he ain't all bad - like the rest of us - he has his moments. He's what my husband calls "a flim-flam man".

Taking a look at his natal chart (set for 12 noon as time of birth isn't known): Wikipedia has his birth date as 24 September 1965; "raised in Wiltshire", born Salisbury, Wiltshire. Yet his accent is not of Wiltshire. One of my grandfathers came from near Salisbury, Wiltshire. He never lost his accent, which was much different from our East Yorkshire tones. I reckon Chef Irvine's accent is more Salford than Salisbury. Maybe life in the navy rubbed the Wiltshire out of him. He now lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughers.

Sun in first degree of Libra and Mercury in very late Virgo - though in different signs these are conjoined - so his core self and his mental processes are a blend of Libran diplomacy and Virgo's perfectionism and tendency to criticise, with Virgo looking to be the stronger element; stronger because Moon was certainly somewhere from mid to late Virgo, with Pluto conjunct Uranus also in that sign. His need for perfection comes out clearly in Restaurant Impossible, and in his cooking and presentation skills too. But his penchant for embroidering the truth? That's hardly a perfectionist's trait. Let's see. Jupiter is where I'd pin exaggeration, and Jupiter was in square (challenging) aspect to Sun/Mercury - that fits! Jupiter's love of exaggeration challenges Libran tact and Virgoan critical perfectionism.

Saturn in Pisces is in harmonious trine to Venus in Scorpio - I interpret that as "tough love" - which is what he gives the restaurant owners and their staff in Restaurant Impossible.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Trouble....trouble, trouble, trouble...since the day we set out...

Second trip this year we've had to cut short, turn around and return home due to health-related problems. On our last attempted trip, at end of April we returned because I'd hurt my ankle, as well as experiencing a severe bout of rhinitis/hayfever. A proposed trip to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming had to be cancelled due to the horrendously hot summer here in Oklahoma, and fear of wildfires close to our house. We decided to wait for substantial rainfall before we dared leave to maybe look around a part of Colorado we've so far missed. The rains came, we left. But within 24 hours husband's blood pressure became a problem.

Astrological news ~ If there is an astrological connection for these "disappointments" I'd pin it on transiting Uranus in early Aries. Uranus is the planet of unexpected change. Husband's natal Sun is at 1.48 Aries - transiting Uranus is now in retrograde motion and at at 2 Aries, conjoining his Sun. Back in late April/early May it was in exactly the same place! That is weird! I have natal Saturn at 12 Aries.

The good news: We set off earlyish on Wednesday, made good time on our 11 hour drive, decided to make an overnight stop around half-way, in Dalhart Texas.

The bad news: all the decent mid-price motels (Best Western etc) had strangely been built right next to the town's busy freight rail line. Why on earth would experienced hotel chains do such a thing? We drove around until we found a motel far away from the train noise (which was fierce!) Motel was a cheapo type, no internet, drab, crappy TV, but okay for one night's stay.

The indifferent news: not a good eatin' town. We ate at Pizza Hut after exploring and retired to the motel to watch the very first US X-Factor show. That ought properly to be bad news! Ye gods! It was tacky to the nth degree.

The bad news: My husband had recently been prescribed an increased dose of blood pressure medication, following some extreme fluctuations. We'd taken a BP monitor with us, first time ever - both having experienced BP problems over the summer. Husband checked his BP around 9pm it was VERY high - even for him. Waited and re-checked - getting higher - both systolic and diastolic. Relaxed and tried again - still rising. We began to feel alarmed.

Checked phone book for nearest hospital emergency room. None listed in Dalhart. Odd, we thought. There's one in Dumas, a half hour's drive away. Unfortunately, in that cheapo motel, we didn't have access to the internet to check via our laptop. BP still rising - now well above 200 systolic. Decided we'd need to drive to Dumas, but would first check at the Dalhart police station or fire station to establish that there really was no hospital in town.

Nobody home at police station, it was all closed down. Same at fire station. I suggested asking at a convenience store. We did so, and were told "Oh yes - we have a hospital, straight down that road". We found it, and after trying various locked doors discovered an emergency entrance.

The good news: Night staff were very kind and helpful. They had the husband flat on his back, hooked up to heart monitor equipment for more than 3 hours, gave him some strong medication after questioning him about meds, history, his pacemaker, etc.

BP went down some, though not as quickly, nor as far as they would have liked or expected. At times the monitor by the bed was reading 212 over 105! They advised us to not continue on our trip to Colorado, but to return home next day, see our own doctor about the meds he recommended about a week earlier. They also gave advice about how best, and when, to take the medication, the dosage of which they found puzzling.

We returned to the motel around 3.30am. Didn't get more than a couple of hours sleep. Set off Thursday morning for the 6 hour drive home. Husband's BP had "bottomed out" first thing, probably due to the strong stuff taken at the hospital. It had climbed after breakfast, but to a reasonable high, rather than an alarmingly high, level. Biggest problem driving home was ensuring that he didn't fall asleep at the wheel on the rather boring, sleep-inducing drive through rural Texas and western Oklahoma. I had him reciting limericks, and trying to compose new ones, to keep him alert! We've a doozy about Rick Perry but it's not for a family audience.

The bad news: Arrived home around 4pm Thursday, picked up med bottle to take to our pharmacy, to ensure he'd been given the right stuff in the right dosage, as prescribed. Then to doctor's office. Office closed. Notice on door declaring that the doctor will be away until Monday, "in emergency go to hospital". Nice eh? Brits can say what they like about the failings of the NHS, but I've never known a doctor to be absent without a locum (substitute doctor) being available in his/her place.

The good news: Husband taking the dosage recommended at Dalhart hospital, at the times advised, and BP seems to be settling down. It'll be monitored closely until Monday.

The hopeful expectation: That BP will settle at an acceptable level, doctor will check him over, endorse the recommendation of Dalhart hospital, maybe recommend strict monitoring for a week or so more, before we can decide to take off once again.

If all is well, we'll set off - but in a different, hopefully luckier, direction - once we're confident that all is well BP-wise.

Astrologically ~ We shall simply have to hope that Uranus has now had his fun with us, and will leave us alone. Much as I love astrology, I refuse to be restricted by it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Going..... astro travel credentials intact

From C.E.O. Carter's Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology:

TRAVEL (Love of) is a manifestation of the Jovian love of expansion in all forms. Nearly all persons with Jupiter or Sagittarius prominent have a desire to wander about and often to explore (although this usually connotes an element of Scorpio as well).

In so far as curiosity and the desire to see things is concerned, we shall find Moon and Cancer strong, whilst Mars gives the love of adventure.

Checking myself and Himself:
I have Venus in Sagittarius in harmonious trine to Moon and Saturn in Aries. Check. Jupiter tightly semi-sextile Sun. Check. Natal Cancer rising. Check. He has Mars in Sagittarius harmoniously trining his Sun in Aries. Check!

We have our astrological travel credentials and.....we're off!

"And if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there......"

Back in a few!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eleusinian Mysteries ~ What did the '60s have in common with Ancient Greece? & Neptune in Pisces.

The short answer is LSD.

Long ago, humans felt a deep need to celebrate and honor times of sowing, reaping and harvest, keenly aware that, should anything untoward negatively affect nature's cycle, many people - perhaps all - would die in the ensuing famine. For instance, this day, 20 September, in ancient Greece, would have marked the 7th day of the Eleusinian Mysteries: revered initiation ceremonies held every 4 or 5 years (sources vary), lasting 9 days, honoring Demeter the Mother Goddess of agriculture and fertility, and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.

The Mysteries originated in the city of Eleusis, 15 miles west of Athens, possibly as far back as the early Mycenaean period (c.1600 B.C), and continued for almost two thousand years, in a world both alien yet oddly familiar to us, in the twenty-first century. Theirs was a world permeated with anxiety and dread, perhaps not unlike that of the USA after 9/11, or during the Cold War years.....or right now! Famine was, for them, a persistent threat. A single crop failure could spell the difference between life and death. The risk of war, whether from marauding bands or organized armies, was constant. Death or slavery awaited the losers of a conflict. Family provided the only social safety net for most. People lived constantly on the edge of disaster.

The long drawn-out structured rituals of the Mysteries produced a change of consciousness in the participants bringing about a kind of spiritual birth, intended to reunite the person with the divine spirit of the cosmos. The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept strictly secret. Since The Mysteries involved visions of an afterlife, some scholars believe that the power and longevity of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from psychedelic agents. Here's that link to the 1960s.

Before experiencing the final soul-shattering vision of the Greater Mysteries, initiates drank kykeon, an entheogenic potion made from ergot, from which LSD is derived. The initiates then spent the night in a darkened hall, where they beheld a great vision, which was “new, astonishing, inaccessible to rational cognition.” Most of the initiates were women, but men (including Sophocles, Aristides and Cicero) also took part. Whatever the vision, there is no doubt that the effects were profound. Some hold that a night in the Eleusinian sanctuary may have inspired Plato's “ideas” and world of archetypes. In times much closer to our own, ingesting similar potions inspired the composition of iconic music and song.

I can't help wondering whether, as Neptune, the planet with closest connection to drugs, visions, and mysteries, moves into it's traditional home, Pisces early next year, whether, during its sojourn in that sign, we're going to see a revival or "re-working" of something akin to The Mysteries. During the 1960s, for whole decade Neptune was transiting Scorpio, one of the three Water signs, where it "feels most at home". In Water sign Pisces Neptune will be even more "at home". I'll not be a bit surprised to read of the emergence some new cultish and mysterious goings on, involving an LSD-type substance, in coming years.

Sources ~~

Monday, September 19, 2011

Music Monday ~ The Logical Song ~ Roger Hodgson formerly of Supertramp

The Logical Song was a hit song written by Roger Hodgson, co-founder and former vocalist of the UK band Supertramp.

Supertramp had a number of other hits during their heyday, several written by Hodgson (Breakfast in America, It's Raining Again, Dreamer ), others by Rick Davies. Hodgson left the band in 1983 to spend more time with family, later touring and recording as a solo artist. Sources record that The Logical Song was written by Hodgson while still in his teens, long before his association with Supertramp.

Roger Hodgson was educated at what in the UK are called "public schools", a term meaning something quite different in the US. British public schools are not funded by the government, as are the majority of educational establishments, but by a combination of endowments, tuition fees and charitable contributions, usually existing as a non profit-making charitable trust. In practice young people who attend such schools are almost always from well-to-do families, with a smattering of talented youngsters bright enough to get relevant scholarship funding. I suppose the nearest "flavour" in the US to the UK Public School brand is the term Ivy League, though Ivy League refers to further education only, I think.

Anyway, knowing this tid-bit helps understand the lines, "But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical responsible, practical......" Public schools are mostly boarding schools where pupils live 24/7, as well as learn, unless their home happens to be close-by.

The lyrics would have been written sometime in the 1960s, I guess. Roger Hodgson was born on 21 March 1950 in Portsmouth, UK, at 10:50AM. A little astrology follows, below, to discover whether the feelings described in this song match what his natal chart can reveal.

Most people will relate to the song in some way - whatever age they may be. The idea that any type of establishment, be it school, college, military or a structured place of employment can tend to deaden or suffocate one's early sense of joy and wonder. For long periods of time, in such establishments, we have to exist in a virtual strait-jacket of rules and designated attitudes. A thoughtful and sensitive young person is quite likely to soon be asking "Who am I?" In fear of voicing opinions too loudly in case someone pins a derogatory label upon him/her, a person can end up vegetable-like, or sheep-like, feeling obliged to "fit the pattern".

I can happily relate, as I'm sure can Roger Hodgson, that with age, and especially in one's senior years, comes the tendency to think (maybe even say): "This is me, mate...if you don't like it you can...(insert profane or vulgar epithet of choice here)"

When I was young,
It seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees,
Well they'd be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.

But then they send me away to
Teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world's asleep,
the questions run too deep for such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?
I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am.

Now watch what you say or they calling you a radical,
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won't you sign up your name? We'd like to feel you're
Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable
Oh ch-ch-check it out yeah

At night, when all the world's asleep,
the questions run so deep for such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?
I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am
Who I am who I am, who I am.

Coz I'm feeling so illogical
B-b-bloody marvelous.

(Data from Astrodatabank.)
Noting that Roger's natal Sun is on what astrologers call "the Aries point" = 00 Aries, I'm more sure than ever that he's now very certain "who he is", and unafraid of telling others. Aries Sun, at any degree is not one to cower in the shadows, at 00 degree it's likely to leap out and bite someone in the ass....metaphorically speaking.

Roger's natal Mercury (mental orientation) in Pisces points to his imagination and sensitivity, the latter was no doubt more apparent in his early years, before life experience grew him a protective shell.

Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius reflect his rather rebellious stance, in this song, as well as in his recent conflicts with former band colleague Rick Davies. Allegedly, when Roger left the band the agreement was that Davies and the band would keep the name Supertramp but Roger would retain sole rights to perform any songs he had written himself (many of the band's biggest hits, as it happens). A re-formed Supertramp has been touring, and singing Roger's songs as part of their repertoire, it appears, and without even making a point of annoucning that he was the songwriter. Roger is standing his ground, but apparently has no recourse to the law as nothing was put in writing at the time. Oh dear!

Venus in Aquarius and Neptune in Libra (Venus=the arts, Neptune=creativity, imagination) form a harmonious trine - excellent aspect for a musician, or artist of any genre. This slice of Aquarius matches the title of the song very well: logic is said by astrologers to be one of zodiac sign Aquarius's strongest traits.

Moon at 1 Taurus semi-sextiles (30*) Aries Sun. Although Taurus and Aries are mainly incompatible, this 30 degree aspect does, in my opinion, allow them to blend - if a bit uncomfortably (I have a similar aspect Aquarius/Pisces). In this case Taurus will add a more solidly stable side to Roger's nature, to rein in his impulsive Aries-ness. And Taurus is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts, an additional pointer to his musical talent.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Prediction By Photograph ? (no astrology)

Michael Shaw's piece at Huffington Post: "Reading the Pictures: TIME's Rick Perry "Near-Nomination" Cover" could qualify as prediction by photography.

As I've remarked before, I suspect that Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, could well be the recipient of help from above - and I do not mean from "Him Upstairs", I mean from "Them Behind the Curtain". If you consider that to be conspiracy theorising, y'all have not been paying attention.

Michael Shaw wrote:
Rockstar photographer, Platon, has done five presidential candidate covers for TIME, three of Obama, one of McCain, and one of Obama and McCain...........assigning someone the likes of Platon to shoot a Perry cover is going to automatically lend a gravity you would otherwise give to someone "just that far away" from the GOP nomination.

Platon (Platon Antoniou), Anglo-Greek born in London in 1968, is a portrait photographer whose subjects have included many presidents and well known world figures.

Taking into consideration the fact that we are more than a year away from the General Election and many months from the Republican primary when a nominee will be chosen.....and there's a line of at least 7 other candidates arguably with equal right to be on TIME's cover......Well, well well, lookee here! A new Chosen One?

Parodying Garth Brooks:
"He's got friends in high places,
Where the power abounds
And the money chases his blues away......"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jupiter's Big Guy Sings & Swings

Our local theatre's performance season kicks off tonight, with a gig by western swing band Asleep At The Wheel. We're looking forward to this. The band originally hailed from West Virginia, but has been based in Austin, Texas for many years. Their current vocalist and co-founder, Ray Benson, is a guy who stands 6 feet 7 inches in his stocking feet, and wears size 16 EEE shoes! I took a quick look at his natal chart (set for 12 noon so ascendant and Moon degree not as shown).

I had to smile. Why?

Look at that - Sun in Pisces (traditionally a Jupiter rulership sign) conjunct Jupiter itself. Sun = self, Jupiter links to expansion, extremes, exaggeration & all things large! This harks back to Thursday's post about appearance and "planetary types".

Choo-Choo Cha Boogie

Route 66

Friday, September 16, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ MF Husain, "Indian Picasso"

MF Husain, full name Maqbool Fida Husain, India's best-selling painter, would have been 96 tomorrow, 17 September. He died earlier this year, in London, aged 95. The artist had lived in self-imposed exile since 2006, first in Gulf states Dubai and Quatar, then London. He had been the target of vicious attacks, obscenity charges and lawsuits for many years, arising from some of his paintings, seen by Hindu nationalists and conservative religious groups as blasphemous and depraved. His crime? He had depicted Hindu goddesses naked. The fact that goddesses had been depicted unclothed for centuries before seemed to escape the notice of his critics. Further outrage arose as a result of his unclothed female figuration of the national map – the title : Bharat Mata (Mother India), a title Husain stated was not chosen by him.

In spite of controversy, Husain had received three of India's highest civilian awards in his lifetime, produced over 30,000 paintings, some now sell for up to $2 million. He has been referred to as "The Picasso of India", he painted barefoot using an elongated brush.

MF Husain was born into a working class Muslim family, studied art briefly in evening classes and moved to Bombay in 1935 as a cinema hoarding painter, took further tuition, and within 5 years his work began to be recognised. He joined The Progressive Artists' group in 1947, on his way to becoming one of India's superstars - albeit a controversial one. He considered himself a nomad and a gypsy, continued working until a few weeks before his death at 95.

Sun conjunct Venus, planet of the arts - classic signature of an artist! Here the conjunction is opposed, from Pisces by Jupiter in the sign it traditionally ruled before the discovery of Neptune. Jupiter and Pisces both connect to religion - and in opposition to Husain's Sun/Venus are an excellent representation of the way his artwork came under attack from religious extremists.

Uranus, the rebel planet in sign of its rulership, Aquarius is in harmonious trine to Mercury (mental orientation) in Libra. Here's his rebellious mindset and determination to "keep on doin' it".

Without knowing his time of birth, Moon position can't be determined accurately. It would have been somewhere between late Sagittarius and around 12 Capricorn though, quite possibly in opposition to Pluto, and, along with the Sun/Venus-Jupiter opposition forming a Grand Cross. The Grand Cross in a natal chart can indicate some kind of ongoing conflict, either inwardly or from outside influences. Which would clearly be appropriate in the case of exiled MF Husain.

Some examples of his work. He seemed to enjoy posing with his paintings. What an attractive guy he was too!