Thursday, October 02, 2014

Not Yer Textbook Libra-type!

 Libra by Erté
Yesterday's post touching on Germany and World War II, as well as an exchange with commenter LB the other day about Sun signs, Moon signs etc. and astrological recognition factors in general, reminded me of a post I wrote years ago, in October 2008 to be exact. It has gathered a nice pile of views over the years, 10,646 at last count:

A Libran Exception: Irma Grese

There are some comments there too, including rather cool (not "cool") responses to one visitor.

Maybe current, 2014, visitors or commenters might have something to add, here, on the topic, either astrologically or in general?

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Book Thief

We watched the movie The Book Thief on HBO at the weekend. I had a vague memory of reading something about it, or about the book from which it was adapted, but that was some time ago. Harsh words by critics or reviewers had left an impression at the time.

It seems a little out of place to say I enjoyed the movie, bearing in mind its theme. The story held my rapt attention throughout, acting and filming was excellent, as was the score by John Williams. There were a few sheepish grins, a few tears too. Husband says he felt uncomfortable throughout, but thought that, of its kind, it was a good film.

The Book Thief, adapted from Australian author Markus Zusak's award winning novel, aimed at a young adult readership, is set in Germany between 1938 and 1945. Yes, a war film; but a war film with a difference.

The book and film are narrated by "Death", a weird concept, but for me, a follower the Tweets of "God", it worked well - and in much the same tone too!

The story unfolds as seen through the eyes of a young girl of around 6 or 7 years old as the film begins. She is fleeing, with her mother and younger brother, from the Nazis. It is implied that the mother was thought to be a communist or communist sympathiser - possibly from Eastern Germany(?) The young brother dies during the journey, the girl is taken to live with pre-arranged foster parents, the mother is taken prisoner by soldiers.

The girl, Liesel, proves to be illiterate; the kindly foster father teaches her to read and write. She becomes such a keen reader (and later a writer), that her passion for books leads her to risk secretly borrowing from the town's Mayor's home library.

The girl's harder-edged but well-meaning foster mother presents a foil to her husband's warmer approach. There's a blond-haired boy next door; there's a Jewish young man whose father had been the foster father's best friend; and there's the Mayor of the town, and his wife Ilsa, rounding off the main cast, along with the expected dose of brutal Gestapo officers waiting in the wings.

That's all I'll tell of the plot, so as not to spoil it for others. Details are not hard to find online for anyone interested.

Afterwards, I checked some reviews of the film, which was released to cinemas in 2013. "Mixed" is the best that can be said of them. Many reviewers and snooty film critics didn't like the movie at all, and had some pretty derisive things to say about it. Commentary from ordinary film-goers under some reviews does match more closely my own opinion.

Holding The Book Thief against Schindler's List, or against any similar film, a ploy of certain critics, is a ridiculous way to judge this film. I see The Book Thief as a "one off". Different. There's so much in it that isn't about the war at all, but about people, and life, and relationships. Nationality of the characters is secondary, they are just people, people like you and me; and about children such as we all have known.

There was a thread of understanding for me to easily grasp. I realised that as allied aircraft bombed the girl's street in Germany, German aircraft were likely bombing close to my own street in England. The utter futility of it all washed over me again, as it does regularly these days.

For the ordinary people of Germany, France, Italy, and other European countries invaded by the Nazis things were vastly worse than they were for us in Britain, of course. We, at least, did not have to fear visits from the Gestapo. We were not forced, at school, to sing anthems in support of a Nazi regime we neither understood nor could have supported if we had understood.

I intend to read the book. Some who had already read the book, and later saw the movie, considered it a reasonable adaptation. Others felt that the movie missed some underlying tone and messages. What the movie had to lose, in part, was an unusual framing by narration of the personification of Death. There was some of this included in the film, via resonant tones of English actor Roger Allam. From book excerpts I've seen online though, it wasn't quite sufficient to capture the same "feel" and atmosphere.

A snip from the book (and film), this spoken by Death:

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race—that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

None of those things, however, came out of my mouth.

All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you.

I am haunted by humans.”

~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Day the Rebel Died

On this day, in 1955, movie star James Dean died at age 24 in a car crash on a California highway.
Dean was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed "Little Bastard," headed to a car race in Salinas, California, with his mechanic Rolf Wuetherich, when they were involved in a head-on collision with a car driven by a 23-year-old college student named Donald Turnaspeed. Dean was taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:59 p.m. Wuetherich, who was thrown from the car, survived the accident and Turnaspeed escaped with minor injuries. No charges were ever filed against him..............................(See here).

There's a movie whose title is today's date, in 1955.
Synopsis: When Jimmy's idol, James Dean, dies on September 30, 1955, the small-town Arkansas college undergraduate goes berserk. He and his friends hold a vigil which turns, eventually, into into another tragedy.

The film, aired on television as 24 Hours of the Rebel, delves into the hero-worship aura that surrounded James Dean following his tragic death.

The film was written and directed by James Bridges (February 3, 1936 — June 6, 1993) born in Paris, Arkansas. James Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was born in Marion, Indiana.
Astrological note: Writer/director and his subject were born 5 days and 5 years apart. Both had Sun in Aquarius, but Uranus, modern ruler of Aquarius was in Aries for James Dean and Taurus for James Bridges - Taurus would be a calming and firming influence I guess. Dean's Mars in showy Leo contrasts sharply with Bridges' Mars in gentle Pisces and conjunct limiting Saturn.

This partial track by singer/songwriter "Poe" somehow eerily relates....

As does this, tongue-in-cheek, featuring your friendly neighbourhood blogger offering advice, one Sun Aquarian to another.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Music Monday ~ 2014, Still Contemplating the Eve of.....

I must first give a tip of my hat to Avedon's Sideshow for reminding me, at the weekend, of an old song from the 1960s, causing a rumage among my archived posts. I found what I was looking for, it is repeated below. The song is still highly relevant in 2014, a few names and places, more recently in the news, could easily replace the originals.

My post from August 2010

The Eve of Destruction, Billboard No 1 hit in 1965, was played by Tim Rice the other day in his current BBC Radio series. The shows feature musicians from, or songs about, some of the 50 states of the USA, state by state. Oklahoma was up - so I listened on the i-player. Oklahoma-born Barry McGuire's version of the hit song was on the playlist.

The song was always a favourite of mine, way back when, in the 60s, the big guns at BBC censored it from their airwaves as being unsuitable for the delicate ears of their listeners. Barry McGuire sang the song and sang it very well.

Real credit for Eve of Destruction ought properly go to its writer, P.F. Sloan, a prolific songwriter for many famous names of the 60s. On his website Mr Sloan tells how he came to write the song.

The song "Eve of Destruction" was written in the early morning hours between midnight and dawn in mid-1964......... I was 19 years old. The most outstanding experience I had in writing this song was hearing an inner voice inside of myself for only the second time. It seemed to have information no one else could've had. For example, I was writing down this line in pencil "think of all the hate there is in Red Russia." This inner voice said "No, no it's Red China!" I began to argue and wrestle with that until near exhaustion. I thought Red Russia was the most outstanding enemy to freedom in the world, but this inner voice said the Soviet Union will fall before the end of the century and Red China will endure in crimes against humanity well into the new century! This inner voice that is inside of each and every one of us but is drowned out by the roar of our minds! The song contained a number of issues that were unbearable for me at the time. I wrote it as a prayer to God for an answer.

The lines:
"Think of all the hate there is in Red China then take a look around to Selma Alabama.
And marches alone cannot bring integration when human respect is disintegrating"
are about racial un-harmony issues.

"Hate your next door neighbor and don't forget to say grace",
simple hypocrisy but it made me feel angry.

"You're old enough to kill but not for voting"
was about the injustice of using youth in the army to defend the country but they had no say in its policies. More hypocrisy!

"You don't believe in war so what's that gun you're toting!"

"The pounding of the drums the pride and disgrace"
were written in relationship to the powerful Kennedy assassination.

Without a time of birth Moon's exact degree can't be established, but it would have been between 5 and 19 degrees of Aquarius and quite probably forming a harmonious trine aspect to Aquarius's ruler, Uranus in Gemini. Both Aquarius and Uranus connect to social conscience, radicalism, rebellion and futuristic thinking. I'd guess that the Moon's position had a lot - in fact everything - to do with the subject matter of P.F. Sloan's hit song. Lyrics are shown at end of this post. Mr Sloan's natal chart also reveals Sun and Mercury in Virgo (ruled by Mercury the writer's planet); Jupiter and Neptune tightly conjoined in Libra (sign ruled by Venus planet of the arts), indicating expansive creativity, imagination, and perhaps a feel for philosophy (Jupiter in Libra).

P.F. Sloan's 2006 album Sailover contains the song with re-worked lyrics, according to this THIS USA Today article, which also mentions that Sloan spent most of the past three decades battling mental and physical illnesses. Barry McGuire, now a Born Again Christian, has also recorded some up-to-date lyrics, not sure whether these are different from those on Sailover. See them at THIS website.

We were not, as it turned out, on "the eve of destruction" in 1965, and we're not now. Even so, it's very useful to have these lyrics repeated, "again, and again, and again, my friend"...because if we don't get our act together quick-sharp, we could well find ourselves on that dreaded brink, unexpectedly.

Sticking with P.F. Sloan's original lyrics and the Billboard No 1 hit version by Barry McGuire:

Further information available on both the songwriter and the song at Wikipedia.
The song's original lyrics, in full, can be read at THIS WEBSITE.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Continuing last Saturday's experiment in communal writing. Mike and myself were last week's only storytellers. There's lots of room at the storytellers' table for more friends, old and new, to join in. All are welcome, for a single contribution or several.

It'll be necessary for any newcomer, reading or contributing, to read through the Preface and comments in last Saturday's post, HERE.

So... I'll begin: continuing the story from where mike left it last week. Any further contributions, my own included, will appear in today's comment section.

"The ship you see in the distance, Milady, is a prison ship, filled with prisoners taken in a long and brutal battle in the mountains, three days ago. The vessel is bound for The New World. I have information indicating that your brother is on board."

Magi's tone became less confident.

"Our only means of a rendezvous with him will be to board the vessel ourselves. Releasing him will not be easy, but is possible. The World fabric will become unresponsive for a time in this location, it is unfortunate indeed that celestial patterns on this night are not as helpful as I'd hoped. Later, after dawn, things will change. Are you willing to risk boarding the vessel with me?"

Her voice faltered as she responded.

"It not be my choice, Magi. It is of necessity, however. If you accompany me, yes I will board the ship."

She crushed the small patch of fabric still in her damp palm. A reassuringly familiar scent of pine and honey enveloped the two shadowy figures now starting to walk towards the vessel, anchored some way off a dark, misty coastline and illuminated, but dimly, by the flare of a lighted torch at the ship's bow.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ REMEDIOS VARO

Remedios Varo - at first I thought it to be the name of a male, but it's not. Remedios Varo's name given at birth was María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga. In Spain names do take on a more epic quality than in most other countries of the world. Anyway, Remedios Varo, as she became known, was born on 16 December 1908 at 10:45 pm in Anglès, Spain. Her father was a hydraulic engineer, he taught her to draw in a style which had later clear influence on her artwork. Varo used imagery related to her father's profession. Complex pieces of imaginary machinery can be seen in her paintings, which draw also from her studies of alchemy theories and processes. Her figures are thought to be autobiographical. Science, dreams, witchcraft, mysticism and humor thread through her psychological or spiritual subject matter.

Educated in Spain, in Madrid and Barcelona, rumored to have taken classes together with Salvado Dalí. She married painter Gerardo Lizarraga, then, apparently without benefit of divorce married, or (it's not clear) conducted a lengthy affair with, French poet Benjamin Péret. During the Spanish Civil War they fled to France. Settled in Paris. She soon gravitated towards the city's arty bohemian surrealist groups. Varo and English surrealist artist, Leonora Carrington became friends at this time, a friendship that survived for the rest of Varo's life.

As World War II began Varo relocated yet again, this time to Mexico City. Most of her her artwork was created in Mexico, where she was also able to pick up her friendship with Leonora Carrington, who had also fled to Mexico.

In order to cover living expenses, Varo took a variety of jobs: furniture painting, costume design, toy-making, commercial illustration for a company selling pharmaceuticals, and scientific drawings for Venezuala's Ministry of Public Health. Her marriage/association with Péret ended on his return to France. Her third husband-to-be, Austrian businessman Walter Gruen then entered the scene. Wed in 1952, she no longer needed to rely on odd jobs for her livelihood. Her true creative potential now emerged.

Varo's longtime interest in mysticism, alchemy, magic and, oddly, science co-exist in her paintings. Many, or most, of these are explained as being an exploration of the female psyche. It was only around the time she died suddenly, of a heart attack, in 1963 when her career was thriving, that women were beginning to assert their independence after centuries of treatment as second-class citizens. Many of her paintings need to be viewed with this in mind.

A few examples of her work, some with explanation taken from Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-Century Women,by Estella Lauter. The book has an error in Varo's year of birth, by the way. She, as many women will, knocked a few years from her age for public consumption. It was not until her death that her true birth year was discovered.

Please click on the images for clearer and/or bigger versions:

 La Revelación (1955)

 Embroidering the Earth's Mantle

Re the painting titled Embroidering Earth's Mantle, explanation from Janet A. Kaplan's biography of Varo,
"Unexpected Journeys" ~
In the central panel of the autobiographical triptych, Embroidering Earth’s Mantle [...], Varo offered a closer look at the life of a convent student.... here captive in a tower, (they) work as in a medieval scriptorium, embroidering the mantle of the world according to the dictates of a “Great Master.” This hooded figure reads from the catechism of instructions while stirring a broth boiling in the same alchemical vessel from which the girls draw their embroidery thread. Each girl works alone, embroidering images onto a continuous fabric that spills out from table-height battlements around the facets of the tower. Together they create a landscape with houses, ponds, streams, boats, animals, and humans, all nestled within the folds of the fabric. Theirs is the traditional work of the convent, where needlework was deemed a skill appropriate for cultured young women.

Characteristically, Varo treated such tradition with irony. Among the girls working diligently, each at her own table, guarded by a comical veiled figure who lurks in the background playing a flute, Varo’s rebellious heroine has “embroidered a trick in which one can see her together with her lover” [...], their rendezvous subtly visible in a rendering hidden upside-down within the folds that flow from her table. In a masterful variant on the myth of creation, she has used this most genteel of domestic handicrafts to create her own hoped-for escape. Unlike Rapunzel and the Lady of Shalott, Varo’s young heroine imprisoned in the tower is not merely a metaphor for confinement, but also an agent of her own liberation. [...]

 Energia Cosmica

 Papilla Estelar (1958)

Papilla Estelar = either Stellar Porridge or Celestial Pablum, or similar.
(Page 90 of Estella Lauter's book linked above)
"[This painting creates] an image of female nurturing...The protagonist is seated at a table inside an octagonal enclosure in the sky. She is grinding the food from the stars and feeding it to the moon in its cage. She is at once powerful and impotent. Because the moon is waning, it seems likely that she is saving it from death...A closer look at her setting reveals the source of her ambivalence; although there are steps leading from her enclosure, she could not take them unless she could walk on clouds... [She] is as caged as the moon..."
Often seen as an autobiographical artist, Varo uses these women as her stand-ins exploring the occult, the Kabala, and alchemy.

 Creation of the Birds
Page 84-5 of Lauter's book "...protagonist has assumed the form of an owl in order to paint birds who will come to life and take flight for the first time... She dips the brush, attached to her own violin (in the place of her heart), into paint from an alchemical alembic where the substance from the stars is stored. With her other hand, she holds a triangular magnifying glass to intensify the light from the moon... The woman/owl gives wings to her visions of the birds."
[Page 91] "... [This] is her image of what will be required if human creators wish to make a world in which all the species of life can survive. Her choice of the owl, always a figure of wisdom, is clarified by the information that the pre-Hellenic, Cretan Athena was a patron of the arts and a goddess of renewal ..."

 Three Destinies

 Analogy of Winter

El otro reloj'  -The Other Timepiece (1957)

Sympathy (Sympatía), [Originally titled, The Madness of the Cat – La Rabia del gato], 1955

The "Sympathy" painting is mentioned in a very good biographical essay on Varo at a blog called Femspective. See HERE. The author offers one mundane explanation of this painting; I see another explanation, related to astrology. Does anyone else see the same?

 Premonicion (1953)

Varo doesn't appear to have as much interest in astrology as in the occult generally. There is one painting of "Taurus", but it's not as special as the rest of her work. There is oblique reference to astrology here and there among her paintings, if one looks for it, but I've found no evidence that she was "into it" to any extent.

 The World
Earth Air, Water, Fire - see?


Remedios Varo's natal chart with data from where it is given an AA (very reliable) rating. Exact place of birth, Anglès, Spain, wasn't available on my software's atlas but it offered Zuera as nearest available. This puts placement of all planets the same as's' there are just three minutes of difference in the ascending degree.

I see her astro-signature, as it relates to her art style and choice of subject matter, reflected by Venus/Mars in Scorpio in harmonious trine to Neptune in Cancer. Venus, planet of the arts is being energised by Mars, which accounts for Varo's energetic support artistically for her gender and the need for equality of the sexes. Neptune's link to imagination, dreams and fantasy feeds into her way of illustrating her points in such a creative manner.

There's a nice chain of sextiles linking Neptune at 16 Cancer to Jupiter (her Sun's ruler) at 14 Virgo, to Mars/Venus at 14/22 Scorpio to Uranus at 15 Capricorn. I like to find such chains, they indicate a kind of smoothness in the way a person is using their energies in co-ordination, to successfully manifest their talents...depending on which planets are involved, of course.

There are also 3 oppositions in Varo's chart: Sun/Mercury opposite Pluto/North Node; Moon opposite Saturn; Uranus opposite Neptune. Her Sun and Moon, major components of her personality, are each opposed by a planet relating to intensity or rigidity/limitation. Maybe these two oppositions acted as drivers and brakes in her nature? The third opposition, Uranus-Neptune forms to link each end of the sextile chain already mentioned. It's a Cancer-Capricorn cardinal opposition framing the sextile-chain. One could say, whimsically, that in so framing, it seems to exclude Saturn and Pluto from the major mix, leaving a calmer, sweeter, more integrated configuration to hold sway.