Tuesday, August 31, 2010



The reason: empty coffers, miscalculation, incompetence, idiotic life-style and a few other reasons we are not being told. It's in the air, foremost in Germany, the rest of Europe by bits and pieces, even in Greece now. As well as in the USA, Australia, even Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

Who wants it? Some mostly "old crocodile - type" politicians. The same who for years knew that demographics, an unfavorable age pyramid, were a looming threat to comfortable retirement for the many. But as the topic is not popular, for fear of being associated with it, they kept it on the back-burner for too long. And thereby augmented the problem now at hand...

And politicians, by the nature of their ambition-distorted personalities, never retire, unless not re-elected. So to them, others can/should also work until death catches up with them or close to it. But no politician will say so, of course.

And then there are other reasons to keep people working ever longer, besides the empty coffers, public and private retirement funds. Here first the pros, then the cons of all this, astrologically as well.

Ever thought that if people worked for extended years, neither golf courses nor marinas nor tennis courts would be over-crowded during week-days? These facilities would then be exclusively available to politicians and their lobbyist friends.

Commerce can only benefit from people working longer. The Japanese with an important aging population know too well that once retirement sets in, many of their citizens buy "their last car", even "their last pair of slippers". But that's the Japanese. Or is it only them?

The health industry by a broad definition represents almost 30% of GDP. The more older people there are who are still working, the better their coverage by employers. And all sorts of excesses can thereby continue.

Ecology: Now that's a controversial issue; the amount of travel done by retirees is no doubt a polution factor. If most of them were working for some additional years, the environment would benefit, not Las Vegas and similar resorts.

On the negative side of working up to age of 70, hereafter the main points ( trying not to repeat what's already known ), but looking at links with astrology:

As a general rule, quasi - statistically, the human life - span is astrologically defined by Uranus, 84 years for a full cycle. This also coincides with 3 x 28 years for Saturn and almost 7 cycles for Jupiter or almost 1/2 cycle for Neptune. Amazing mathematics!

Even clearer, as most of us get there in good health and full consciousness, is the half - cycle of a human life, age 42. This is also an often critical moment in our lives, known as "mid - life crisis". Around age 42, Uranus makes it's first and only opposition to itself on one's birth horoscope, Saturn then is squaring itself
(28+14=42) and Neptune is also almost squaring on itself. More or less, depending on retrogradation of these planets at the time of birth. But the mid - life thing is very real, from 42 to 45, give or take a few years. "Astrology" sure shows it's full effect then for many people.

Most humans are at their best career potential at this stage in their lives. For parents, children then become adults, and some "affairs" sometimes set in - including the marital complications that go with it.

Age 56, or around that, appears to be a much more interesting moment in our lives than what happens at mid-point 42-45. It's a pivot-point for many. Saturn then is completing it's second revolution, Uranus trines itself and Jupiter is conjunct (more or less) it's birth position. Astrologically a mostly harmonious passage. From the point of view of life-experience, a moment of maturity, fulfillment but also
a favorable time for looking ahead on how to "organize" one's last third of life, including of course one's retirement.

This moment coincides also with the birth of grand children. Giving to this age a kind of generational perspective. And, important for many self-employed, it's a good moment for planning on the type of succession they wish for their businesses.

But it's a phase for everybody, not just the self-employed, where some decisions regarding the future need to be taken. That is under normal conditions, when retirement would be before and at the latest at 65. If retirement becomes mandatory only later, say at 67-70, the incentive for some serious planning for the age beyond retirement becomes seriously amputated. There then is not enough interesting
time-space left worthy of any planning other then "will play some golf or similar".

Extending retirement age beyond 60-65 will deprive people of organizing for a distinct goal for retirement, ideally starting at around age 56. If condemned at that moment to think that the then routine/occupation/stress will fatally last until "the end of my life", there is trouble ahead: It's actually stealing from our freedom by not permitting to add a different chapter to one's life. More of the usual but no hope for anything creative anymore.

More in defense of the individualists then the conformists, the right to creativeness is more important than relative greater security and financial comfort at retirement. Knowing at age 56 that for another 14 years or so one's current routine will more or less continue, is oppressive. It's about similar to someone, as often happens, who, living in a huge apartment block in a big city, goes on vacation in another big concrete structure somewhere on a beach, say from New York to Miami. Where is the charm?

For some (maybe many) people, the idea of having still a window open on another chapter to one's life, after retirement, is all important. Our professional life often drags us into some routine which by far is not felt ideal, even oftentimes adverse to our health. Enough reason that such conditions not be prolonged.

In today's world, the economic "dictat" has precedence over all the rest. Some nevertheless feel that that's wrong. And from an astrological point of view there are solid reasons to believe that retirement should be at around age 56. But not for when it's too late.

Only the exceptional person will still have the physical force and drive at a late stage in life to do something meaningful and new. When still young, we tend to ignore that "time gets so-to-say geometrically shorter as we progress in age".

Question: if all the goodies we produce can not provide this type of alternative, even by accepting to reduce our standards of living to some extent, what's the point in producing the goodies in the first place? They actually are not goodies anymore, but soon turn into their contrary. Creating more and more dissatisfaction. It's a difficult re-think the industrial world would have to do. Without it, however,
it's a nasty perspective, indeed.

PS. How many Germans are secretly not thinking that the Greeks are right? And why should they sell their most charming islands to also drive a Mercedes?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Music Monday ~ Aranjuez, Rodrigo, Miles & The Miners

This Monday, another classical piece popularised by use in movies, or performance by artists from differing musical genres: Concierto de Aranjuez by Spanish 20th century composer Joaquin Rodrigo. This was originally a composition for classical guitar and orchestra, written in 1939. The Adagio is best known, easily recognizable, and used in several movies, television shows, and commercials. Many will have heard the Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez without knowing its title or composer. I never tire of listening to this piece. I have a home-compiled cd containing 7 or 8 different versions, one after the other - I love 'em all!

Joaquín Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, Valencia, Spain on St. Cecilia's day (St. Cecilia is patron saint of music): 22 November, in 1901. His only daughter, born 27 January (so was I) is named Cecilia too, almost certainly after the saint. At age three Rodrigo lost his sight almost completely, the result of an epidemic of diphtheria. He confirmed that this event undoubtedly led him into music as a profession.

Rodrigo's natal chart (below)doesn't initially shout "composer!" to me. I wonder, had it not been for the diptheria and subsequent blindness, whether he'd have been more likely to follow some other career path? Outside circumstances ought always to be taken into consideration in tandem with astrological indications.

His Sun and Mercury in Scorpio indicate a passionate nature, but the stellium (cluster) in Capricorn linking Jupiter, Saturn and Venus lends a stern air of no-nonsense to the chart, with Saturn's limitations modifying Jupiter's urge for excess. Mars and Neptune were in opposition from the last degree of Sagittarius and first degree of Cancer, which again reflects some kind of challenge to creativity. I don't usually mention Chiron, but here it could be of of note that Chiron, asteroid known as "The Wounded Healer" is opposing Neptune along with Mars, making this opposition even more significant, bearing in mind Rodrigo's early illness and blindness.

Moon would be in Aries, whatever his time of birth. With both Sun and Moon signs ruled by Mars Rodrigo was equipped, temperamentally, to deal with all challenges his life brought to him. He appears to have done so, with great success.

12 noon chart shown as time of birth is unknown.

The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the spring resort palace and gardens originally built by Philip II in the last half of the 16th century. The work attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature. (Wikipedia)

Link to a classical version played by John Williams. Among the many musicians who have interpreted this piece, possibly the most surprising was jazz legend Miles Davis in collaboration with arranger Gil Evans. (Link to this at YouTube) It forms part of the famous 1960 album Sketches of Spain. Miles Davis said: "That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets."

Other versions include those by famous violinists, clarinettists, The Modern Jazz Quartet and other jazz combos, classical guitarists, and easy listening orchestras. Lyrics have been added - Egyptian born Greek singer Demis Roussos used the music for his song Follow Me. In 1967, the French singer Richard Anthony brought out a single named Aranjuez Mon Amour, with lyrics by Guy Bontempelli. Il Divo sing a version too. The Shadows released their take in 1979" Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto.

In the film School of Rock, it can be heard when the children are playing in music class. In Brassed Off it was played by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. In that film, the concerto is sometimes referred to as "Orangejuice". Plain-spoken Yorkshire folk would be inclined to do that. It's one way to get their tongues around unfamiliar words.

Away from popular music, some Jewish cantors, specifically of Sephardic tendency, have adopted the main melody from the Adagio for the Kaddish, one of the most important parts of the Jewish liturgy. This can be seen especially in Sephardic congregations of Latin America (Mexico and Argentina), as well as in Israel. The phrasing of the Kaddish verses corresponds almost perfectly to the phrasing of the Adagio, resulting in a surprising religious effect and tone color.

Of all the beautiful renditions of Aranjuez available on video, from classical through middle-of-the-road to jazz-inspired, I've picked the one that made me weep as I listened and watched the images. Reading comments afterwards, it appears that I wasn't the only one. It's the "Orange Juice" version by Yorkshire's Grimethorpe Colliery Band, featured in Brassed Off, with images of Yorkshire and from the British miners' strikes in 1984/5. Dark days. Many in Britain will never forget them. A way of life for a generation of brave men was lost then, as the Conservatives' economic policies closed coal mines around the country in favor of nuclear power. Our strong support for the miners meant exactly nothing to demon Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. I still cringe at the thought of her - to this day! Nowadays coal mines are not the way ahead, but for decades we depended on what those men risked their lives to provide.

I believe Rodrigo would be pleased that this music can still help to evoke strong emotion.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Contemplating Psyops as Mercury Retrogrades

Planet Mercury will appear to be in what astrologers call "retrograde motion" until 12 September. The current episode of backward-seeming movement began on on 20 August. As has oft been repeated, these regular periods of Mercury Retrograde connect to an extra helping of difficulties in all areas of communication. These periods also provide a time when fruitful reflection of things past can be achieved.

With the latter in mind, I started re-reading George Orwell's 1984 and watched, again, the tape of the movie adaptation of his book - the one starring John Hurt and Richard Burton. 1984 struck a chord:

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?... Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5

1984 was written long ago. As a view of how Orwell's words relate to the state of things today, I offer a link to a film I stumbled upon while drafting this post yesterday: Psywar - "The real battlefield is the mind". The full film (around 1 hour 40 mins, ends abruptly, it's possibly to be continued) and is available to view in full, or as a brief 4 and a half minute trailer either at 911 Blogger.com or at Exposure Room. If a passing reader is pressed for time, the trailer is highly recommended, though the full film is far more enlightening.

UPDATE: If the video film has been removed from the above links try THIS LINK .

Its creator said, at the 911 site:
I'm pleased to present the first feature in my documentary series, entitled Psywar ("The real battlefield is the mind"). It premiered on Global Research and should be appearing on some other alternative news websites in the coming days.

The film explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the United States, with an emphasis on the “elitist theory of democracy” and the relationship between war, propaganda and class.

This is not a high budget affair, but was financed via a blue collar job, and is being released online for free. The interviews contained within are original and were conducted by proxy.
The film takes us back, with the guidance of some highly regarded historians and philosophers, over past centuries to illustrate the use of propaganda and manipulation of public feeling....mind control....psyops...call it what you will.

Psyops (Psychological Operations), under one label or another, has been a part of warfare, and used by all countries, for centuries. It has included simple operations such as circulation of propaganda leaflets (as below), posters, radio broadcasts, as well as many more sophisticated and sinister operations. As well as being a part of warfare psyops are used to influence populations that war is necessary - remember those "weapons of mass destruction"? War, of course, is one of the most profitable of all events, but only for the power-wielders. Others lose their lives, their health or their sanity. Families are left devastated, on both sides of that divide of manufactured hatred.

Not always realised, though, is the continual use of a form of psyops on the population at large by those in power (and I don't necessarily mean a country's government).

One theory put forward in the film is that we are being manipulated because "the power-wielders" consider that "the people" (The Great Unwashed) are not fit to have a say in how countries are run in this advanced technological age. All power, and consequently all wealth, must be restricted to "the elite leaders". The power-wielders choose/designate individuals - candidates - for "election". This gives the appearance that these individuals are being "chosen" by the people. In reality the "candidates" are there only by permission of "the elite", and are there to do their bidding. This process is aided by a coordinated psychological operation using elite-controlled media as its front-line to push forward "candidate du jour" and denigrate others.

"The people" are, from time to time, given tid-bits of help (eg: the tidbit contained in new healthcare legislation. This could quite easily have been a much bigger portion of assistance, of benefit to more of "the people", but that would have resulted in a reduced share of goodies for the pharmaceutical corporations. Can't have that, can we?! "The people" receive just enough to avoid outright rebellion by the masses. Outright rebellion - revolution - is something "the elite" fear and always plan to avoid.

Quote from a respected philosopher:

Noam Chomsky, Thought Control in a Democratic Society
“If in some Orwellian future there were One Big Owner, he might be benevolent, in his own opinion, as indeed, Orwell’s Big Brother was – in his own opinion. Big Brother let the public see and hear a variety of things he deemed useful – where there is centralized control, it is the One Big Owner who makes the choices…Each year is more likely that the American citizen who turns to any medium – newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, books, movies, cable, recordings, video cassettes – will receive information, ideas, or entertainment controlled by the same handful of corporations, whether it is daily news, a cable entertainment program, or a textbook…Media giants have become so powerful that government no longer has the will to restrain them…Now that media owners are so large that they are part of the highest levels of the world economy, the news and other public information become heavily weighted in favor of all corporate values. The new corporate ethic is so single-minded about extreme fast profits and expanded control over the media business that it is willing to convert American news into a service for the affluent customers wanted by the media’s advertisers instead of a source of information significant for the whole of society.”

Beware Newspeak! My advice: be forever wary of what you read and hear, especially when what you read and hear will aid or profit "the elite". As a recent example, take the speeches and articles telling us that most of the millions of gallons of oil leaked from BP's exploded well, have already disappeared from the Gulf of Mexico. Mustn't upset the oil industry, they still want to drill...drill...drill, to further enrich their corporation - and to hell with the environment. And pause to wonder why more stringent (or any siginficant) measures are not in place to try to slow climate change. Again - it would not profit the corporations and "the elite" power-wielders. Outpourings of manipulative garbage come regularly from what are laughingly called "both sides of the aisle". There is only one side, the corporate side, and no aisle to speak of.

In the USA we need to question, too, all that will be fed to us during upcoming 2010 mid-term elections, and the big one in 2012. But, having questioned these things, what then? That is the ultimate question. I haven't yet found an answer.

"It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here.
And the people under the sky were also very much the same--everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same--people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world."

- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 10

Friday, August 27, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Virgo and Virgins

Following last month's post featuring Leo and lions in art, let's see what I can come up with for Virgo and virgins this Arty Farty Friday.

The poster, left, is by American artist David Palladini, who also created the Aquarian Tarot deck, which I own. I love his style, obviously much influenced by art nouveau and Alphonse Mucha.

Another elegant depiction of Virgo is below:
Virgo by 19th century Italian sculptor Adolfo Wildt

There's an old (English?) joke, now much the worse for wear: that "it'd be hard to find enough virgins in this (any) town to fill a telephone box." As it happens, telephone boxes are now harder to find than virgins.......

A thought springs to mind: why do virgins always have to be female? Guys can be virgins too, but get clean away without being painted for posterity. There was, however, this movie.

Virgin themes can be found in myth, legend and history: vestal virgins, wise and foolish virgins, Virgin Mary, Virgin Queen. There's also the use of the word in other contexts, to indicate purity: virgin olive oil, virgin wool, virgin snow, virgin territory. And brand names courtesy of multi-billionaire Richard Branson: Virgin Airlines, Virgin Music. Branson, coincidentally (or not) natally has Moon and Saturn in Virgo.

Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins - etching by Peter Bruegel

The Wise and Foolish Virgins by Peter von Cornelius

Veiled Vestal Virgin statue by Raffaelle Monti

Temple of Vesta and the Virgins by Constantin Holscher

Gather Ye Rosebuds by John William Waterhouse, inspired by a poem of Robert Herrick, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time:

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a flying:
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a getting;
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

The Virgins by Gustav Klimt

The Virgin by Piero della Francesca

Coronation Portraitof The Virgin Queen (Elizabeth I of England, after whom the state of Virginia was named). Artist unknown.

Virgin wool

Virgin snow

Virgin territory: planet Jupiter. There's lots more virgin territory out there in space!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Connections: ed ed - photograph - poem - poet - astrology book

Sometimes it's downright spooky, the way one thing leads to another. I occasionally wander into Flickr, my husband is a regular contributor there and has pointed me towards a couple of interesting pals of his. One of these, screen-name "ed ed" puts up his own wonderful photographs, always cleverly titled, occasionally with added text from books or poetry. (Link to ed ed's Flickr) Not long ago he posted a photograph he titled "sunlight on the garden" with, below it, a few lines from a poem by Louis MacNeice. I wasn't familiar with this poet and scholar of Irish/Northern Irish background, a contemporary and friend of W.H. Auden and Stephen Spender. This was soon remedied by reading everything of his available on-line. Much appealed to me.

My search threw up something quite surprising. Louis MacNeice also wrote a book on astrology - its title simply Astrology, published in 1964, after the author's untimely death in his fifties. The book was reportedly written on commisson and regarded by him as "a hack-job". Hmmm, never mind. Unless he had studied the subject in depth I suppose Mr MacNeice would have relied on earlier authors for material, though as a Greek scholar he would have had some background and perhaps an interest in the topic. I found a copy of Astrology on Ebay for $1 - wonders never cease! It's a hardbacked edition in excellent, almost new condition, only missing the dust jacket shown above. I quoted from it in yesterday's post.

I haven't had time to investigate all of the book yet, it arrived just before we left on our trip to Colorado. What I've read so far tells me enough to realise that it's a lot more than a "hack job". A writer of MacNeice's standing and scholarship would never write to the standard of what is usually considered a "hack job" - of that I feel sure.

An interesting point with regard to yesterday's post on Zodiac Sign Virgo: Louis MacNeice had Sun, Mercury, Venus conjoined in that sign!

Louis MacNeice was born on 12 September 1907 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is described in one article from the Irish Times as being "by some accounts, at least, so remote and elusive that he might be conjured out of beer froth and cigarette smoke"; "shy and standoffish"; "morose"; "with, but not strictly of, the company"; "talkative when drunk". He's said to have drifted into alcoholism eventually. His death at age 56, though, was the result of viral pneumonia following a drenching received on the Yorkshire Moors, where he had been recording sound effects in a cave for his radio play.

A quick peek at his 12 noon chart then (click on it to enlarge):

Sun, Mercury and Venus conjoined in Virgo, one of the signs ruled by Mercury, the writer's planet. My husband's eldest daughter has the same birthday in a much later year, of course, and has the same 3 planets in Virgo + a couple more - she has been in the newspaper business for most of her career. In MacNeice's chart Saturn opposes the Virgo cluster from Pisces. Perhaps this opposition reflects his reputation for being rather unsociable - not "one of the crowd". In tarot Saturn connects to The Hermit card - kind of speaks for itself!

MacNeice in a nutshell from Columbia Encyclopedia at Answers:
Educated in England, he became a classical scholar and teacher and later was a producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. In the 1930s MacNeice allied himself with a group of poets of social protest led by W. H. Auden. His later poetry, expressing the futility of modern life, retains the sparkling wit, ironical flatness of statement, and colloquial tone of his earlier verse. His volumes of poetry include Poems, 1925-1940 (1940), Springboard (1945), Holes in the Sky (1948), Ten Burnt Offerings (1952), and Solstices (1961). He also rendered poetic translations of Aeschylus' Agamemnon (1936) and Goethe's Faust (1951).
Many of his poems are written in a minimalist, lack of frills style, with a sharp insight into the human condition - something I always admire. He writes in simple, direct fashion, but there is subtlety just under the surface. For instance, this middle verse of his poem titled Snow. So simple yet so creatively descriptive!
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
"The drunkenness of things being various".......wonderful!

One of his poems, perhaps inspired by his book Astrology?


Forty-two years ago (to me if to no one else
The number is of some interest) it was a brilliant starry night
And the westward train was empty and had no corridors
So darting from side to side I could catch the unwonted sight
Of those almost intolerably bright
Holes, punched in the sky, which excited me partly because
Of their Latin names and partly because I had read in textbooks
How very far off they were, it seemed their light
Had left them (some at least) long years before I was.

And this remembering now I mark that what
Light was leaving some of them at least then,
Forty-two years ago, will never arrive
In time for me to catch it, which light when
It does get here may find that there is not
Anyone left alive
To run from side to side in a late night train
Admiring it and adding noughts in vain.

–Louis MacNeice,1963

I wonder is the "42" mentioned in the poem is the same "42" used by Douglas Adams to be the answer to "life, the universe and everything"?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zodiac Sign Virgo

The Sun has now moved along the zodiac trail from the area western astrologers label Leo to that we know as Virgo. Virgo, the Mutable Earth sign ruled by Mercury. Mercury also rules Gemini (Mutable Air); it's somehow easier to connect Mercury with Airy Gemini than Earthy Virgo.

In a 1964 book, Astrology, recently acquired (more on this in tomorrow's post) author, Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but poet and scholar, has this to say about zodiac sign Virgo, quoting Ingrid Lind, a 20th century British astrologer:

Ingrid Lind once again asks straight away: "How can earth be mutable and mercurial?" And the answer yet again is in the other ingredients (though she says, this internal conflict does tend to make a Virgo type a worrier).
I like the expression "Virgo type", as against the more commonly used "a Virgo" - it covers my constant quibble that "there ain't no such thing as a Virgo, or an Aquarian...or...etc. etc. etc." I'll remember to use the expression Virgo(or whatever)-type myself in future. There are certainly "types" who clearly reflect major characteristics of zodiac signs and/or planets, though these people may not always have natal Sun in the relevant sign.

MacNeice then quotes astrologer (Rupert?) Gleadhow:
Virgo (is) "perhaps the most earthbound" of the 12 signs, but her earthiness is very unlike the earthiness of Taurus: Mercury could never rule Taurus. In fact the earth gives Virgo common sense and Mercury supplies an unusually keen intelligence. The two together make for disciplined thinking and acting.
Virgo is traditionally represented holding a sheaf of corn and, in western Europe Virgo's time of year is harvest-time. Granaries may connect with Virgo too - also the separating of wheat from chaff, in a way representing a very Virgoan characterisitic: discrimination.

MacNeice writes that Virgo is thought of as the patroness of critics and craftsmen, but not of creators or commanders......Virgo is a great deal more than a sharp-tongued and keen-eyed housewife. It is the patron sign of Switzerland (which was to be expected), but also of Paris and of cats (no doubt because cats are so neat).

He tells us that Tolstoi is accepted by astrologers as a Virgo man, having had not only Sun and Mercury in the sign but the Moon as well. Which would suggest that Virgo CAN be creative sometimes, though perhaps what is most Virgonian about Tolstoi is the exact and conscientious way in which he tried to lead a new life in his old age.

Quoting astrologer André Barbault, MacNeice writes:
.......Anyway, the traditional Virgo type is somewhat dry and cold, a fusser over detail, a discriminator, a rationalist, a perfectionist, yet prepared to sacrifice himself. Barbault suggests that if the Pisces man is like an astronomer brooding on the infinite spaces, the Virgo man is like a biologist with a microscope.
As I've noted before in these blog posts, my husband's eldest daughter has Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus & Pluto in Virgo and has spent almost all her career in the newspaper business - how much more of a Mercury-type is there? Coincidentally her birthday is the same as that of Louis MacNeice, apart, of course, from the year. She matches some, but not all of the characteristics mentioned above. Her Leo ascendant (matching that of her Dad) accounts for her softer, warmer nature and sense of humour - more than might be expected from text book descriptions of Virgo.

Other posts on zodiac sign Virgo can be accessed via the Label Cloud in the sidebar, by clicking on.....well, "Virgo".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


GUEST POST by Gian Paul

These days, except for historians and archeologists, few people care to know about the times past, when what today has become "normal" still had to come into being, or to be created.

The Chinese characteristically cultivate the Ancients and so do some other civilizations. Only recently did it occur to me that one (and possibly an important) reason to do that may be not just to cultivate memory and respect for one's ancestors, but to further the understanding of how today's world and what we call "our modern minds" function. It's about roots and atavisms. But also about mental and emotional blockages which reach into our future.

And possibly much more than that. Recent findings e.g. show that the biological genome of Jewish people is different from most other white races. Only Italians appear to have similar genetic characteristics. But then the Peninsula at the end of the Roman Empire was populated to what appears to have been by 50% of Jews, or close to that. Gradually they then were converted, mostly by force, to Catholicism. One prominent example being Nostradamus.

This picturesque, Medieval figure was born in Salon (South of France) on December 14, 1503 (ancient calendar) and became famous because of various true predictions he made for the French Royals (Henri II and his spouse Catherine de Medicis). But also because of his acting as a doctor during the then raging bubonic pest, and his prophetic writings. This was a "high event of the Middle Ages", despite Nostradamus being born 51 years AFTER Leonardo da Vinci. An interesting historical overlap. The Medicis were close to the Popes, Leonardo to the then modern (Renaissance) Sforza of Milan. Columbus, another Italian, from Genova, was born around mid September 1451, one year before Leonardo. He discovered the Americas in 1492, October 12, probably, when Leonardo was in full creative swing. Same time.

No doubt that around the year 1500 the world changed dramatically. Shown here is a map for January 1, 1500, noon in Madrid. Probably the most pivotal place of those times.

At the beginning of 1500 Uranus was conjunct Jupiter in Aquarius, quite a position! Pluto was in Scorpio and a few years later going to move into Sagittarius. The notion of "far away places and foreign cultures" so typical of Sagittarius, was soon going to come into full swing! One could even say that Jupiter (who rules Sagittarius) had given the starting salvo for that when in conjunction with Uranus.

Europe's population periodically was decimated in those days if not by wars, so by famine or the plague. News of another world, the Americas, riches (all the gold the Spanish amassed!) created an unexpected opening. But it was not all smooth sailing. Wars, slave trade, extermination of a great many indigenous people, Inquisitions and new religious attitudes (the Reformation) were putting a rapid end to the old, stale European world.

Until another major event, some 250 years later, gave the then predominant colonial thinking a mortal shock. By 1750 or so, Uranus was again in Aquarius, Saturn this time conjunct Pluto, and conjunct to the latter, again in Sagittarius. Uranus had made three full revolutions around the Sun since 1500, Pluto one.

And that's when the world heard of a new economic theory, "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith (left). Royals and feudals in general, the Spanish, but foremost the British and almost at the same time the French, did hardly like that. The "bourgeois" ( the Ben Franklin's, Robespierre's & Co.) of the then world had a new idea: dispense with the
Royals, or at least those who were colonial opressors. So came about the French Revolution, the American Independence and most of Latin America soon followed in this path.

By the time, belatedly, the Russian Czars were toppled by Lenin and his aides, Uranus was again, for the third time in this analysis, in Aquarius, opposed by Saturn and Neptune, and that for sure was not an easy constellation. Full of (justified) hope, but lacking the hedonistic practicality carried around the world by the ideas of Adam Smith. The Neptunian dreams of the oppressed people of Great Russia were soon to be transformed into an experimental ground for dictatorial but impracticable economics. Not leaving any room for people's innate "instinct for money", so well defined by Adam Smith, the Scott from Edinburgh.

Today, Uranus has practically left Pisces without fulfilling the social aspirations he had lately given to many in the USA. We now assist mostly to what Neptune in Aquarius, and still for another 1 1/2 years, has brought about and may still change in peoples' perceptions. Many disillusions for sure: Corporatism, the realization of what is the other side of the coin called globalization, the definite end of the USSR and of the hegemony of the USA over much of the world, the rise of "Big China" , Islamic militancy. And will the EU succeed or not? Serious concerns for the world's economic progress, mitigated by more ecological awareness etc. The list is long.

One might ask: what's really new PSYCHOLOGICALLY from what was the human condition in around 1500, or 1750, or 1917-1919 in Russia? Certainly there is more awareness and information available today and great sensitivity to the many technological advances. But intimately? In the human soul and mind? Much appears still very similar to the past - and who knows to even a much more distant past than the short time span from 1500 till today I've chosen to analyse here.

How did humans feel, hope and fear in the Neolithic age, some 4-5000 years B.C. ? And then during say the Roman Empire, or the time of the invasions by the Barbarians? Difficult for us to imagine today. But certainly these people, our ancestors, struggled as we do now. Always hoping, believing in some new theory or initiative or religion.

Often suffering, and probably a lot, if not from invasions, famine, wars and individual problems like health. poverty etc. Not much different from the present and probably worse. What must it have been then, before all of the progress we now enjoy? Due to a great extent to the efforts of one or the other of our ancestors. Or of all of them, collectively.

So it may do no harm to feel some debt, at least in memory, towards them. These ancestors probably struggled mightily during what one today can cold-mindedly analyse as the effect of such or such a planetary transit. Individually and collectively.

Past times were no doubt more difficult than the ones we are now living. What permitted to cope with greater hardship then, may have been lesser awareness. In consequence, one might have to re-consider and not call barbaric what is seen as such from today's perspective, in many cases, if not in most.

This in fact amounts to a call for more tolerance towards humanity's common past. A possible effect of Neptune in Aquarius, before terminating it's stay there?

(Illustrations: examples of cave paintings found in caves in Lascaux, France(15,000 to 17,000 years old); and Newspaper Rock - an example of petroglyphs found in Utah and other western states of the USA, some from 2,000 years old some from the last few hundred years).

Monday, August 23, 2010

"WILD ARRAYS"..............(non-astro)

"These reckless heaven-ambitous peaks,
These gorges, turbulent-clear streams, this naked freshness,
These formless wild arrays...."

(from a poem by Walt Whitman: Spirit That Formed This Scene, written during his visit to Colorado in 1879.)

Last week's trip brought very welcome lower temperatures - daytime 80s with much cooler evenings, rather than the recent Oklahoma 100+ degree burners and sticky nights. Some spectacular scenery, though, was the true highlight.

We had only a vague route planned when we set out, but even that was abandoned once on the road. What was intended to be a round trip setting out via Texas, returning via southern Kansas didn't work out, due to disrupting road works or a few missed turnings, followed by the attitude, "what the heck, we'll go back more or less the way we came and stop off to see Amarillo's antique shops!"

Highlights and unexpected encounters of the trip follow with my own photographs, and a couple from my husband's camera.

We travelled west from home in SW Oklahoma via the Texas panhandle to Clayton, New Mexico, our first overnight stay. On to Salida, Colorado next day. On the way, 16 miles northwest of Rye and about 25 miles southwest of Pueblo, Colorado we came across "Bishop's Castle". There's a good, detailed article on the Castle HERE

In a nutshell: the Castle's creator, Jim Bishop, works in his family's ornamental iron shop in Pueblo for seven months each year, when weather keeps him from castle building. For the past 40+ summers he has painstakingly and almost single-handedly constructed this amazing edifice from local stone, scrap metals and other cast-offs. He has constantly battled local authorities who were, initially, less than impressed by his complete disregard for local byelaws.

Almost as jaw-droppingly amazing as his Castle is the man himself. He has to be one of the USA's great eccentrics (and I'd thought England had 'em all!) He has to be classed as eccentric, anarchist, anti-establishment, and an example of how a syndrome dubbed "concretia dementia" manifests. Concretia dementia = "excessive compulsion to build using whatever materials are readily available, usually concrete, bottles, cans, scrap metal and other industrial and household junk."

While we were taking photographs of the Castle he was there, using the back of his truck as a soapbox, expounding on the ills of today's political climate. Most of what he said broadly matched my own views - something I wasn't expecting. My husband felt uneasy about the situation as a little crowd began to gather around Mr. Bishop. Bearing in mind those revered 2nd Amendment rights (to bear arms), and realising that extreme views on the opposite side could well be held by some visitors, we left. I would have liked to chat with Mr.Bishop, and would have certainly asked for his birth date, strongly sensing an explosion of Uranus!

Just one example of Jim Bishop's ingenuity (from article linked above)
Enter The Dragon:
In the mid 1980's, a friend of Jim's was driving a truck full of discarded stainless steel warming plates from the Pueblo County Hospital to the landfill. He decided that Jim could probably put this motherload of expensive stainless steel to better use than the dump could, so dropped it off at the Bishop Ornamental Iron Shop instead. Jim spent the winter building a chimney out of the steel, riviting thousands of hammered "scales" that he had cut out of the plates together around a steel frame. The dragon was completed in the spring and Jim hauled it up the mountian to tackle the daunting task of raising and installing this incredible sculpture to where it rests today perched off of the front of the Grand Ballroom eighty feet in the air! Later on came the addition of a burner from a hot air balloon (that was donated!) which Jim put in the back of the dragons throat, making it a true Fire Breathing Dragon! The dragon usually gets fired up weekends through the summer.

There had been a vague plan that Salida would be our "base camp". We'd stay for 3 or 4 nights. However, due to an uncomfortable motel we moved on after just 1 night, though not before exploring a couple of mountain towns: Buena Vista, and further north in a high mountain valley at 10,430 ft, the old mining town of Leadville. We'd have loved to explore and take photos of Leadville's Victorian architecture, but the altitude hit us both within 15 minutes of walking the main street. My head began to swim, later morphing into a severe headache; my husband soon became breathless and uncomfortable. Sadly, we didn't experience the best that Leadville had to offer.

Moving westward to Gunnison next day, we stayed two nights, explored the surrounding area and discovered the very photogenic little town of Crested Butte, north of Gunnison.

We made a round trip back to Gunnison, via Kebler Pass (10,000+ ft) and mainly unpaved roads open only from May to October. The unpaved roads took us through some spectacular scenery. In a few weeks' time it'll be even more spectacular, when the Aspen forests turn to gold.

Heading east, towards home, on the start of our return journey, your friendly neighbourhood blogger got in the way of her husband's shot of "an interesting building" in Saguache, a tiny town of less than 600 people situated in the San Luis Valley. From insignia on the building it seems to have had masonic connection. Tiny as it is, Saguache is the county seat and the county's most populous town.

Somewhere on our route I'd spotted a couple of toy elder citizens in a rather murky store window. Two live elder citizens joined the scene.

Our last night on the road was spent in Canyon, Texas, a few miles south of Amarillo. In a nearby wee town called Claude, we stopped to look around an antique-cum-junk store where I bought a book for $1 "Effective Writing" by Robert Hamilton Moore, then tried to chat with a local - who didn't seem too interested.

And so.....here's to the next time!

EPILOGUE: In an antique store in Amarillo's 6th street (the street's full of 'em) I bought me a framed aphorism....motto(?) I will apply the thought it contains to my attitude to the United States of America, when I consider some unfortunate attitudes and what I, as a relative newcomer from a different culture, see as its political wrongs.

It goes like this:

Colorado is, without doubt, one of the US's most beautiful blooms so, right now, I'll rejoice.