Saturday, September 05, 2015

Astrology's Skeletons and Shadows

 Hat-tip for illustration HERE
What often begins as a passing interest in astrology, sparked by curiosity, could easily develop into an unhealthy obsession.

Can astrology become too much of an obsession - a hindrance to living one's life in fact? The question has crossed my mind from time to time over the years. I'm saved from the worst symptoms of astrologitis (as I'll call it) by my view that astrological doctrine is an imperfect tool which can throw up, at best, only shadows. Astrologers are using a tool which hasn't been honed to perfection yet, in spite of centuries of trying. Whether consulting a professional astrologer or interpreting a chart for oneself, I believe it's best to look on the results as shadows only, or skeletons - or even skeletons of shadows or shadows of skeletons. These can still be of interest, but require fleshing out and clarifying with hindsight and experience.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Personally, I remain unconvinced by some parts of astrological lore. But I am totally convinced by the bare bones of astrology. Bare bones don't tell us what any picture will be "in the flesh". Experts are able reconstruct a face from a skeletal skull, and say they are fairly certain that it resembles the human being who inhabited the skeleton, but they can never be absolutely certain of detail. Likewise in astrology.

One way of avoiding the infection of astrologitis is to stand back from astrology's potentialities, perhaps limiting focus on self. Looking outward and backward, viewing people and situations, your own and theirs, with hindsight. Some parts of astrology can then be seen at work. It becomes clear that "something is going on". For me, that's where the real magic of astrology lies.

 Lines from Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata"
Astrologers sometimes say that if you know what's around the corner for you, you can prepare yourself for it, or look forward to it. Maybe some people do find this approach useful in certain circumstances, but do they tend forget about the shadowy, skeletal nature of the prediction? A tendency to worry about a coming potentially challenging astrological atmosphere, or to anticipate too enthusiastically a potentially beneficial one isn't helpful. I'd say that it's preferable to meet problems head-on, as and when - and if - they occur; and be pleasantly surprised by happily unexpected events. There's no point in worrying about some skeletal problem astrology might indicate which, when flesh is added and it becomes the reality, could turn out to be a very minor irritation or even a blessing in disguise, instead of the serious problem one might have expected.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Ralston Crawford, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre - all with Sun in Virgo.

It seems fitting that artists with Sun in zodiac sign Virgo should gravitate towards precision and minimalism: geometric shapes, clean lines, that kind of thing. Here are three such Sun Virgo artists, from the 20th century.

For reference I've added a natal chart, set for 12 noon, for each artist. Clicking on the chart image should enlarge it. I'm not getting into interpretation here - other than the focus on Virgo Sun, a factor common to all three artists. Crawford and LeWitt each have just Sun in Virgo, Andre has Sun, Neptune and Venus all there. Another commonality, easily picked out: all three artists have (at least) two oppositions in their charts - perhaps not relevant to their art styles though.

Ralston Crawford born September 5, 1906, St. Catharines, Canada. (From age 10 lived in the USA)

Abstract painter, lithographer, and photographer, best known for his abstract representations of urban life and industry. His early work placed him with Precisionist artists... focus was on realistic, sharp portrayals of factories, bridges, and shipyards. Later work was geometrically abstract.
Short, interesting video narrated by the artist's son:

Sol LeWitt born September 9, 1928, Hartford, Connecticut. An artist linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism; came to fame in the late 1960s with wall drawings and "structures" (a term he preferred instead of "sculptures") but was prolific in a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, photography, and painting.

Carl Andre born September 16, 1935, Quincy, MA. Minimalist artist recognized for his ordered linear format and grid format sculptures. His sculptures range from large public artworks to more intimate tile patterns arranged on the floor of an exhibition space.

Hmm - in the course of preparing this post I kept hearing a bell tinkling in my memory banks - I now find that I did write a whole post on Carl Andre back in 2010: Artist Carl Andre, a True Virgo Type.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Tout le monde - or as we say down here - "all y'all"

I was entertained earlier this week by this piece at Salon:

The secret history of “Y’all”: The murky origins of a legendary Southern slang word,
The phrase "y'all" might not simply be the shortened form of "you all" — but something far more complex
by Cameron Hunt McNabb.

Comments following the piece brought several chuckles-out-loud from yours truly, especially when it came to plurals and possessives.

I enjoy "y'all" - don't actually say it out loud, but often find myself writing it in these posts. "Y'all" and "kind of" and "guy"/"guys" are, I think, the only bits of American-speak I've adopted so far. I used to find myself adopting local expressions and inflections quite easily during my wander around Britain in the 1960s and early 1970s. I suppose because, back then, due to my work I had to converse quite a lot in real life. Now I don't. I rattle around on the keyboard more than rattling my tongue around my teeth.

I just love it when I hear "y'all", "all y'all" and derivatives of that. It feels warm and comfortable to me. All the chit-chat about formal and informal "you" is for school-rooms. Real people say what they feel like saying. In Yorkshire, decades ago, my grandparents would very often use the old "thou" instead of "you"(but pronounced "thoo" or "tha").

Wikipedia has a version of a rather mean stereotypical old rhyme about Yorkshire folk:

'Ear all, see all, say nowt;
Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt;
And if ivver tha does owt fer nowt –
Allus do it fer thissen.

Being translated: Hear everything, see everything, say nothing. Eat everything, drink everything, pay nothing. And if ever you do anything for nothing, always do it for yourself.

Not good advice to live by, y'all!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Fixed Stars in Virgo

Continuing the series of monthly posts on Fixed Stars in each tropical zodiac sign.

Data for Virgo from Astroweb (HERE), showing star positions in 1900 in the left-hand column and in 2000 on the right.

The images below give a rough idea of how some of the Virgo fixed stars are "patterned". Clicking on them should afford a better view. Names of the two constellations Corvus and Crater, being translated, mean crow and cup/chalice respectively. In mythology:

The constellation CORVUS represents the crow or raven who was given a chalice by Apollo and sent to collect the waters of life. Instead of flying straight to his task, the bird spent many days waiting around for the fruit of a fig tree to ripen before eating it. When he did eventually return to his master, he excused his tardiness by claiming that a watersnake had delayed him. Apollo was so annoyed that he cursed the wretched bird with eternal thirst and threw him into the heavens. The cup, CRATER, was also placed there, carefully guarded by the watersnake, HYDRA. (See here)

I'll scribble on about Zosma (on the "hip" of the lion), and Alkes - the latter only briefly - it conjoins my natal Neptune; the former because I've come across it more than once before over the years, while researching posts.

Alkes sits on the bottom right-hand edge of the chalice Crater. Astrologically, according to Constellation of Words

Alkes has always portended eminence to those born under its influence. When rising the star indicates dedicated environmentalists whose love for rivers and streams lead them to be very protective regarding water resources. At a less intense level the native may become a landscape architect, a builder of canals, or in some other manner do business in merchandise connected with water. [Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology, George Noonan, 1990, p.53.]

OR, from Darkstar Astrology
“This sacred cup is also associated with prophetic ability as various vessels cross-culturally have versions of it. ie: the Holy Grail or the Cauldron of Bran. Therefore Alkes can be a gift, something precious carried by an individual to pass down the generations of the family, like artistic, musical or psychic ability. Alkes’ talent is usually of a Neptunian nature.”

Not particularly fitting for me, except that the star Alkes is conjunct natal Neptune in my chart, so maybe I missed my way as an artist, musician or psychic, and have scribbled on about others, who didn't miss their ways in those spheres, instead.

Onward to Zosma then.

The fixed star commonly known as Zosma (translates as "girdle" "loincloth" or "enzonement") is also known as Delta Leonis or Duhr. It is located in the constellation Leo, on the lion's rump, and lies about 58 light-years from Earth.

Astrologically Zosma is said to be "of the nature of Saturn and Venus". Interpretations indicate a generally negative "vibe": benefit by disgrace, selfishness, egotism, immorality, meanness, melancholy, fear of poison, a shameless and egotistical nature, to keen intellect, loss in childhood, and prophetic ability (the latter links also to another nearby star Coxa). Other interpretations indicate the concept of victim or saviour, stemming from the fact that Zosma lies on the lion's back - that part broken by Hercules in Greek mythology.

I've noticed Zosma in the charts of George Michael, Ann Coulter, blues singer Seth Walker, actor Ralph Fiennes, and Piers Morgan.

Because Pluto is a very slow mover, millions of people, those born from late 1987 to mid-1988, could find Pluto conjunct Zosma in their natal charts. Only when it's linked to personal planets, rather than just to Pluto, is it likely to make itself felt; it could then appear to bring "a certain something" into clearer focus.

Ralph Fiennes Pluto/Zosma links by harmonious trine to his Mercury in Capricorn, and might also link by sextile to Moon in Scorpio, but we can't be sure without time of birth. In this case the Zosma focus seems to be a similar syndrome to George Michael's: a strange need to be caught doing something "naughty". (See my blog post of 2009 HERE)

Ralph Fiennes stirred controversy in February 2007 when staff aboard a Qantas airline flight from Australia to India caught the actor leaving the same airplane lavatory as 38-year-old female flight attendant Lisa Robertson. At first denying any allegations of a mid-air tryst, Robertson later confessed to having unprotected sex in the stall with Fiennes, whom she had met just hours before.

Glen Beck is another individual with Pluto close to Zosma, and opposite Chiron. One of Zosma's traditional interpretations is "loss in childhood".
"His early life was pitted with tragedies. His mother committed suicide when he was 13. One of his brothers-in-law also committed suicide. Another sibling reportedly had a fatal heart attack.
Beck is a self-described reformed alcoholic In the aftermath of those three family tragedies, Beck said he used "Dr. Jack Daniels"and marijuana to cope."
(See my blog post HERE)

Piers Morgan, a former UK newspaper editor, occasionally seen on TV in the USA in various roles, has Mars and Uranus conjunct Zosma. I seem to remember there were hints of disgrace/embarrassment hanging around Mr. Morgan during his newspaper career in the UK. He was eventually fired from UK's Daily Mirror for publishing some faked photographs.

Well far it looks as though Zosma, linked into a natal chart, indicates a person to whom I'd personally like to give a dope slap up the side of the head for managing to blot their copybooks....especially in the case of George Michael who could have been one of the truly greats.

A rapid skim through data available at Astrotheme threw up a handful of others, well-known in the UK and USA, who have Zosma attached to a personal planet. There's no obvious commonality (from what we know of them), other than that they are or have been famous, and would therefore have a goodly share of ego - but that applies to just about anyone who has become famous, Zosma or no Zosma. Shrinking violets seldom seek or achieve fame.

John Travolta (Moon 11.11 Virgo)
Madonna (Moon 11.33 Virgo)
Cass Elliot (Moon 11.56 Virgo)
Freddy Mercury Sun 11/55 Virgo
Astrologer Liz Greene Sun 11.33 Virgo (maybe here the "ability to prophesy" part of traditional interpretation kicks in ?)

I suspect that finding Zosma conjunct or closely aspecting a personal planet will not, alone, be a sufficient indicator for any of the traditional interpretations to "kick-in". There would need to be other supporting evidence in the chart. Zosma, properly positioned, might add weight to an otherwise uncertain potentiality. Planets at or close to 11 Virgo are worth noting!

There's a 2014 piece on Zosma by Milos Tomic at Mountain Astrologer - see HERE.

(Clicking on "Zosma" - last link in the Label Cloud in my sidebar will afford easy access to all Zosma mentions in past posts (2009-2011) including those already linked above.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Poem - timely titled

These are some verses from a poem by W.H. Auden. The poem is titled
1 September 1939. It was written more than 75 years ago, with World War 2 waiting in the wings. Much of Auden's poem could still be seen as highly relevant in 2015 (emphasising, though, that I'm not suggesting World War 3 is in the wings this 1st September).

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Full text of poem HERE.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Music Monday ~ Hugo Montenegro - "The Quadfather"

Hugo Montegro, described (HERE) as "One of the great chameleons of space-age pop, Montenegro could be wild, innovative, swinging, sedate, tame, or mundane, depending on what the contract called for. ......"

He was born on 2 September 1925, in New York City; died in early 1981.

Most will know Montenegro best from his 1968 recording of Ennio Morricone's theme from the classical Sergio Leone spaghetti Western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, featuring whistling by Muzzy Marcellino. It was an international hit.

He rose to recognition through his work as a film and television composer and introduced the use of synthesizers to movie and television soundtracks. In the early 1970s Montenegro became known in some circles as "The Quadfather", due to his pioneering work in quadrasonic recording. He began to do research into psychoacoustics. He had realized the potential of quadrasonic sound, and believed he could use the technique to create a complete circle of sound, motion in every direction, as well as a feeling of spaciousness. Having discovered the tricks and techniques to composing music for quadrasonic sound he produced the first ever four-channel pop album, Love Theme from the Godfather, hence his nickname "The Quadfather."
Source:See HERE

I'll not dive into his natal chart too far - but will just note a sextile chain linking
Jupiter to Saturn to Sun/Mars to Pluto. I'm not sure what such chains indicate, other than some kind of natural coordination in the native. Perhaps in Montenegro's case, an inbuilt sense of rhythm?

If only Uranus (new ideas) and Jupiter (expansion) were a little closer - close enough to be in sextile, there'd be a nice Yod with its apex at Neptune/Mercury (imagination, creativity, communication). Maybe Moon forms a sextile with Jupiter instead though - not as good but it'd still produce a nice Yod. Without time of birth this remains unknown.