Monday, December 31, 2018

Music Monday/Tuesday Mix at New Year

Here comes another one!

On New Year's Eve this song might be a good fit for some of us:

Pick yourself up...
Take a deep breath...
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.

Nothing's impossible, I have found
For when my chin is on the ground.
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off
And start all over again.

"And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen."

(by Thomas Hood)


Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
(Hal Borland).

SO, for 1st January staying with a musical theme, I note that a Broadway star of the past was born this day, in 1917.

Ione Shannon Bolin was born in the small town of Spencer, South Dakota, on Jan. 1, 1917. Her parents were Gracie Elsie Bolin and Harry Bolin, a hotel owner who raised horses during the Depression. In an interview she said her father named her Ione “because I was born on the first of January, which is 1-1, or 1-one. That’s South Dakota humor for you.”

At age 20, she headed to the East Coast to pursue a career as a singer. In Washington, D.C., Bolin worked for CBS Radio and during World War II she became the host of her own musical program. She auditioned in 1944 in New York for the New Opera Company and won a place in the ensemble.

Bolin portrayed Meg Boyd in both the original Broadway production and the film version of Damn Yankees.

Shannon Bolin died in 2016, aged 99.

Here she is with a traditional Irish folk song:

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Shank o' the Year Bits & Bobs

Beginning with an update to my Christmas post - a new family gathering photograph from Monday evening. There are a couple of absentees due to distance, but most are there, somewhere. Your friendly neighbourhood blogger's head is the white haired one peeking around back mid-photo. Anyjazz, said blogger's husband is far left, after running back to group having prepared camera to do its stuff automatically. (Clicking on image should bring up a larger version.)

We're back at the shank of the year once more, some of us a tad bloody but unbowed. This is a time when I often dust down my bookmarks, disposing of any items which no longer serve a purpose. In doing so yesterday I came upon the following, fairly recent links to articles about which I'd intended to scribble a few words, but didn't get around to doing so.

The Hippies Were Right: It's All about Vibrations, Man!
A new theory of consciousness

by Tam Hunt.
(Tam Hunt is a practicing lawyer (renewable energy law and policy) by day and by night a scholar (affiliated with the University of California Santa Barbara's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences) in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of physics.)

All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields.

An interesting phenomenon occurs when different vibrating things/processes come into proximity: they will often start, after a little time, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described today as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization.

Examining this phenomenon leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally.

Stephen Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate what he calls “sync” (synchrony) in his eponymous 2003 book, including:

Fireflies of certain species start flashing their little fires in sync in large gatherings of fireflies, in ways that can be difficult to explain under traditional approaches.
Large-scale neuron firing can occur in human brains at specific frequencies, with mammalian consciousness thought to be commonly associated with various kinds of neuronal synchrony.
Lasers are produced when photons of the same power and frequency are emitted together.
The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face.

Resonance is a truly universal phenomenon and at the heart of what can sometimes seem like mysterious tendencies toward self-organization....................

The piece ends with:
It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it … man.

After reading that piece I wondered if, perhaps, astrology could be linked to vibrations - somehow. I'm convinced that one day something like this will come along and lights will go on in some scientist's head and shine so brightly until he/she is forced to day "Well, that's funny - maybe there is something to that astrology rubbish!"

A similar thought followed my reading of this piece:
Leonardo da Vinci & The New Biology

by Sayer Ji

SNIP (need to scroll down):
"Biological Science has been under the spell of Newton’s atomistic view of the universe since the late 17th century. Yet revolutionary new discoveries in molecular biology reveal a connectivity and proportionality embedded within our bodies and the biosphere as a whole reminiscent of ideas once held by visionaries like Leonardo da Vinci.?"

"The concept that the body, along with many other natural phenomena, contains proportions and geometries found in the universe as a whole is already established in Fibonacci series (a series of numbers in which each number ( Fibonacci number ) is the sum of the two preceding numbers. The simplest is the series 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.), also known as the golden ratio. From fingers to faces, flower petals to seed heads, pine cones to galaxies, the pattern is the same.

The idea, of course, relates to the age old concept that “as above, so below,” or the quasi-holographic idea that the part reflects the properties of the whole. Previous to the discovery that there is horizontal gene transfer and reversibility of information flow in cells from the outside in (environment > nucleus), the reductionist view of biological atomism precluded there being a mechanism to connect the part to the whole. Now we see that the kingdoms of life are no longer hermetically sealed off in endless competition with one another. They participate with and in one another, in a type of network which speaks to the oneness and openness of life as a whole."

Here's a fun quiz to do:

Do you have a hidden Hugh Grant or Highland Scot inside?
Take our quiz and we’ll pinpoint what part of the UK you most sound like you’re from – even if you’re not British.

I took the quiz and was accused of coming from Middlesbrough! To be fair that is in roughly the correct ballpark: in the north of England, towards the east - half correct, kind of. A ball would have to travel around 90 miles south to hit the places where I lived most of my years until aged 60+. I truly do not have a Middlesbrough accent though. I know that accent well, having worked reasonably close to the city for a season, long ago.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Giovanni Boldini, "Master of Swish"

 Self portrait
One needs only to see a couple of portraits by Giovanni Boldini (31 December 1842 - 11 July 1931) to be able to recognise others - his style is striking and individualistic. He was known in some circles as the "Master of Swish".

Snip from article at Daily Art Magazine: also at that website are some large format images of his portraits, well worth a look.

Boldini must have really loved fashion, since most of his portraits feature evening gowns as least as prominently as the women wearing them. These dresses typically steal the show, but when you look at them closely, they seem to dissolve into near abstraction. Boldini was a master at using loose, flowing, swirling brushstrokes to indicate elegant silks and chiffons that take on a life of their own. The most recognizable feature of his style, this earned him the nickname “the Master of Swish”. He usually painted other sections of his works, such as sitters’ faces and elegant furniture, with more solidity, and this contrast only makes the fabrics that much more striking. His works are also recognizable for the subjects’ exaggerated pointed chins, bow-like red lips, elegant noses, and lithe hands and fingers held at jaunty angles.

From a New York Times article

A reviewer of the 1897 Paris Salon wrote that to encounter one of Giovanni Boldini’s flamboyant portraits of society beauties was to see “a woman, and in her the entire age.”

Chiefly famous for his portraits of wealthy, often titled, Belle Époque women, Boldini also painted the composer Giuseppe Verdi, the artist James MacNeill Whistler and the dandy and decadent Robert de Montesquiou. These male portraits too seem to capture both the personalities of their subjects and the era they lived in.

Boldini divided critics and confused even his admirers. In 1878, his longtime friend the critic Diego Martelli said, “To describe the talent of this artist is a more than difficult task, and it is even harder to explain his painting.” Boldini’s pictures, he observed, “have parts that are executed with incredible minuteness, and parts that are left capriciously unfinished” — a characteristic that was to become the trademark of his mature style.

Many critics during his lifetime and since have regarded his work as flashy, facile and lacking in depth — the mirror of a spoiled and frivolous period that would end with World War I. Yet a contemporary, the writer J.-K. Huysmans, said, perceptively, that Boldini was “truly more than a fashion painter.”

 Lady in Red

 Mme Charles Max-Pictif

 Portrait of a Young Woman in Profile

 Reading in bed


I found no natal chart online, so decided to add one here. Time of birth is unknown, so a 12 noon chart has to suffice.
Giovanni Boldini was born in Ferrara, Italy on 31 December 1842. He died on 11 July 1931.

Hmm - that's a lot of Capricorn!  Predominance of Capricorn would indicate a good businessman, which he obviously was. It indicates someone  solid and reliable in tasks or commissions undertaken. Boldini was much sought after as portraitist of the wealthy.

Things to note:  At each end of the Capricorn cluster are Neptune in Aquarius and Venus in Sagittarius at 17 and 20 degrees respectively - in helpful sextile. That is a good aspect for any artist, Neptune represents imagination and creativity and Venus is planet of the arts.  Pluto, from Aries is making a harmonious trine to Venus in Sagittarius adding a touch of sensuality - present in some of his paintings.

Where do we see his 'Swish' ? It could be Mars at 1 Scorpio making a sextile to either Moon, depending on time of birth, or a little more widely to natal Sun. The energy of Mars is definitly a good place to look for 'Swish' .

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Laws of the Wild.

One definition of law is that it is a system of rules and guidelines enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour. There are certain natural laws too, whose governing body appears to be human nature in the wild - or maybe "fate". These laws and rules happen automatically, we don't need to strive not to fall foul of them, most will automatically fall foul of us, and frequently.
Some are well known, such as

Murphy's Law, the all-encompassing one : Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Some versions add insult to injury with... "and at the worst possible time."

More of these natural laws are:

Occam’s Razor, not so much a law, I guess, as a handy suggestion, but it is also known as the law of economy or law of parsimony, a principle stated by William of Ockham (1285–1347/49): “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” The principle gives precedence to simplicity - of two competing theories, the simpler explanation is to be preferred. In other words, any time there are several hypotheses that could explain an observation, phenomenon or event, it is usually best to start with the simplest one. There's an opposite reaction to everything though, therefore:

Occam's Duct Tape - the opposite mental process to Occam's razor: to avoid simplicity, to leave no entity unmultiplied and to make as many unnecessary assumptions as possible when pondering an idea — this is sometimes referred to, jocularly, as Occam's duct tape.
Crabtree's Bludgeon - an observation which serves as a foil to Occam's razor, characterizing a very different cognitive process exhibited in certain kinds of people, which states:
”No set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated."

There's DeVault's Razor, which strips down Occam's even further:
"There are only two laws:
Someday you will die.
If you read this, you are not dead yet."

Moving on...

Jimmy Buffett's Law of Sanity:
If we weren't all crazy, we would go insane.

Sattinger's Law: It works better when you plug it in.

Onward to
Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

The Peter Principle: In any hierarchy, every individual tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
Corollary: Work is done by those individuals who have not yet risen to their level of incompetence.

Not forgetting -
The Rule of the Great:
When someone you greatly admire and respect appears to be thinking deep thoughts, they probably are thinking about lunch.

Then we have

Evans' Law of Political Perfidy: When our friends get into power, they aren't our friends anymore.

Jacquin's Postulate: No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

Alley's Axiom: Justice always prevails ... three times out of seven.

Specht's Meta-Law: Under any conditions, anywhere, whatever you are doing, there is some ordinance under which you can be booked.


George Carlin's Driving Law: Everyone driving slower than you is an idiot. Everyone driving faster than you is a maniac.

Oliver's Law of Location: No matter where you go, there you are.

Then there's

Damon Runyon's Law:
The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.

My own blog even has its own law:
Unwin's Learning Curve: Experience is what enables us to make a new mistake each time.

Oh! - And there's always Cole's Law: Thinly sliced cabbage.

Also I've discovered: Twilight's Obscure Law of Non-supply & Demand : when a woman finds a shade of lipstick that's just right, or a bra that fits exactly, or shoes that are always comfortable - these will have been discontinued the next time she goes shopping for 'em.

My thanks to the several "law" sources used when compiling a version of this post years ago - most of the links I saved no longer work - there's probably a law about that too!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Circle of Life and of Christmases

The Christmas wreath signifies or symbolises different things to different people. For me the wreath symbolises the turning of the year, as does the zodiac circle.

Some ten years ago I wrote a Christmas-time post on such a theme - it's time for another look, slightly updated.

Looking back over the years - and I have lots to look back over - Christmas stands as a kind of milepost. It's a focal point when a pattern of change can be identified. In some ways, the pattern could be equated to the cycle of the zodiac, as of course, can our whole life's cycle.

The earliest Christmases I recall, the Aries ones, were spent at my maternal grandparents' home in a tiny village, where I was sent during the worst period of the war years in the UK, safe from the bombing of the city where my parents lived and worked. My parents would make a last minute bus journey the 20 miles or so on Christmas Eve so we could all be together for "the day".

My grandmother (right) was a wonderful cook. With the few facilities she had in those days, I can hardly imagine how she managed to put such delicious meals on her table. She often said that she and I had a "special bond" - it didn't extend to inheriting her culinary prowess though! Water came from a pump in the yard, direct from an underground spring. The only oven she had was at one side of the big black fireplace, powered by coal and wood fires, at the other side, a tank for heating water.
No refrigerator, food was kept out in a building called "the wash-house" where a boiler for boiling water and equipment for washing clothes was also kept. Earliest memories come from a time before the grandparents had electric light, when I went off to bed with a candle, and rooms were lit by oil lamps. I used to be given an early present each Christmas Eve, a book - the "Rupert Book" into which my little head was thrust for hours on end, reading about the adventures of a little bear and his friends, as I waited for Mum and Dad to arrive.

As the cycle moved around to Taurus and Gemini, Christmases evolved into bigger family gatherings, accompanied at times by school friends, both sets of grandparents, occasional aunts and uncles. Sometimes there was carol singing with a group of friends around the town on Christmas Eve, attending midnight service, or a Christmas morning service, then back to Dad's excellent cooking - he was the head cook of our family, after grandma retired from her post. Traditional, sociable, predictable - Christmases then were all those things.

Cancerian Christmases were fewer in number - they involved my retiring into a shell, for a variety of reasons. Working in hotels for a brief period in my life, I'd find that after all the hard work and long hours put in during the run up to Christmas, we staff were often to be found exhausted and alone in lowly staff accommodation, too tired to get together. I remember one particular Christmas evening walking out alone around the city where I worked, gazing longingly into the windows of houses where families celebrated together. I'd be home in the next day or two though, when my parents and I enjoyed a delayed celebration, also in honour of their wedding anniversary on 27 December. Another Christmas day around this period, I clearly recall, was spent alone in a cramped apartment, with a can of chicken breast a loaf of wholemeal bread, and a radio. I remember that much, but have no recollection of how it came about - something connected with my disastrous first marriage I think. Best forgotten!

So.... on to the Leo Christmases which developed as my life changed, accompanied by a new partner, a new job, and an altogether brighter frame of mind. Christmases at the office were fun - always. Some years we'd have a fancy dress party (that's me, under the clock, as Dick Whittington!) Sometimes we'd organize a special quiz or other years just a buffet with plenty of wine. One Christmas a bright spark in the office persuaded the chairmen (well respected lawyers) to act in our version of a pantomime - "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp". A few in-jokes were included in the much-adapted scripts to further engage an already enthusiastic audience of staff and uninvolved charimen. This is one of my favourite treasured Christmas memories. Magical! They were all such good sports. Most have now "gone before" to the great tribunal in the sky, others are High Court Judges.

Virgo/Libra/Scopio Christmases cover a long period of very mixed flavours. My parents were growing older, they lived at a distance for much of the period, but my partner and I always spent most of Christmas time with them, as much as my job would allow. Tensions arose sometimes, as they are wont to do among most family groups.

But many years saw beautiful Christmas-times, trouble-free and filled with love and good humour. We'd spend hours singing songs and carols and recording them on a tape machine. I still have a couple of the tapes but I find it difficult to listen to them even now, so many years later. Photographs are fine - but those so familiar, long gone voices always bring on the tears. After my Dad died in 1992, we spent each Christmas with my mother (right), usually at our home. Tensions arose more frequently during these years. There was almost always one passionate argument, where I found myself in the middle, loving them both, trying to appease both sides. Eventually things would calm down to an uneasy peace. After my mother died in 1997, my late partner and I spent quiet times together at Christmas, some gentle and precious memories of his last years remain, his health began to slowly deteriorate. Then death visited once more, not long after my last Scorpio Christmas.

Sagittarius Christmases found me here in the USA - 5000 miles from Christmases of yore, with a new husband and family. Christmases here are bright and happy. A family get together on Christmas Eve, then, weather permitting the husband and I have sometimes taken a drive to Mount Scott with a pack of cheese sandwiches, some fruit and soft drinks, to eat our version of Christmas Dinner surveying the Oklahoma countryside from 2000ft up, followed by a leisurely drive home through the wildlife refuge, hoping to greet some buffalo or long horned cattle, or even a colony of prairie dogs.

Aquarius Christmas? Maybe the Christmases when I was astrology blogging come into this category, with Pisces Christmases, perhaps still to come.

I hope all your Christmases are as happy as my happiest ones. Know that any less happy ones will give way to joy again.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Arty Farty Solstice Friday ~ Masaccio

Masaccio, Painted by Himself, Lately Added to the National Gallery

The painter I'd decided to to feature this week was born this day,
December 21 in 1401, in a town close to Florence, Italy. The artist died aged 26, which could account for lack of more colourful information than the mostly fact-based and rather stodgy stuff I found at first. Then I found this lighter, yet still informative piece from The Guardian a decade ago, in 2008.
Masaccio, the old master who died young
A star of Renaissance Florence, Masaccio's artistic legacy helped shape western art. Thankfully, he avoided today's morbid personality cults.

by Simon Goddard.

A few snips ~

As the piece begins, the author is referencing the then (2008) flurry of stuff in the media remembering the untimely death of Kurt Cobain

If the world of art was stricken by the same incurable, anniversary-fixated old rope disease as the UK music press then, round about now, there'd be brainstorming editorial meetings on how best to commemorate the imminent 580th anniversary [ in 2008] of the untimely death of Masaccio - Renaissance Italy's hippest young gunslinger who more or less invented painting as we know it. Cue "The 20 Best Masaccio works ... as voted by the stars!", "580 Reasons We Love Masaccio" and the obligatory "What Masaccio Means to Me", wherein vacant twentysomething goons line up to pay tribute to one of the founding fathers of western art by mumbling hollow plaudits about him being "a proper geezer and all that".
Saints be praised, this isn't the case. But even if an art history equivalent of magazines such as Mojo or Uncut existed (Fresco? Unchiselled?) they'd be hard pushed to do a Kurt Cobain number on Masaccio. For while enough major works have survived to earn him a rightful place in the pantheon of Renaissance masters, his biography is the palest of sketches. We know, or rather we think we know, that he was born near Florence on December 21, 1401 and that he died, aged 26, in Rome some time in the latter half of 1428 (we don't even have an exact date). And that's it. History has failed to record whether Masaccio's fate was murder, bubonic plague or perhaps even suicide. All we have are the concrete facts that: a) just like Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Cobain, Masaccio never lived to blow out the candles on his 28th birthday cake (nor his 27th for that matter), and b) he was a total genius.

The vague accounts of his life that exist tell us he was born Tommaso (Thomas) Cassai and grew to be the archetypal teenage weirdo - socially inept, moody, withdrawn and so preoccupied with drawing that his bedraggled appearance became local legend. Accordingly, he earned the affectionate nickname Masaccio - the 15th century Tuscan equivalent of "scruffy git" (or more literally "silly Thomas"). By 19, he was deemed great enough to be admitted into the Florentine painters' guild and befriended both the sculptor Donatello and the architect Brunelleschi. What those men had already revolutionised in their respective fields, Masaccio would soon revolutionise in painting.

In rock'n'roll terms, his bequest to art was the equivalent of Elvis Presley's Sun recordings, a year zero foundation stone for future generations to develop and perfect. Masaccio was the first to fully master depth and perspective on a two-dimensional surface. Before his arrival, paintings were flat, ornamental images beholden to staid Gothic tradition. After him, they became windows on walls, peering into another universe of similar spatial dimensions to our own. Significantly, his frescoes were a vital influence on Michelangelo. The latter's close friend, the great Florentine biographer Vasari, was still swooning over Masaccio's legacy 140 years after his inexplicable death. "Everything done before him can be described as artificial," frothed Vasari, "whereas he produced work that is living, realistic and natural."

It seems the greatest tribute to Masaccio is that, ultimately, he needs no "Who killed Kurt?" coffin-raiding industry to sustain his legend. His death is forever a puzzle but his achievements have resonated for centuries beyond the grave.

A couple of Masaccio's paintings - one appropriate to the current season:

 Madonna & Child with St. Anne c.1424.

The Madonna and Child with St. Anne, also known as Sant'Anna Metterza, is a painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Masaccio, probably in collaboration with Masolino da Panicale. The painting is in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy, and measures 175 centimetres high and 103 centimetres wide. (Wikipedia)

Tribute Money shown above is a classic example of the expert realism captured in Masaccio's work. Click on the image to bring up a larger, clearer version.

For any passing reader curious about the astrology of this artist, there's a natal chart at

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Stories of that Star of Wonder

During the run-up to Christmas, some years ago, I posted about the Star of Bethlehem story, which has always been something of a mystery to astronomers and astrologers alike. A then regular commenter and blog friend, "mike" related an alternative version of the Star's story. Commenter "mike" became ill, later on and had to cease commenting. I fear for the conclusion of his story. In memory of a good friend to this blog here is the story he related, as told at Wikipedia.

"The Star" was an episode of the Twilight Zone during its run in the 1980s, based on a science fiction short story by English writer Arthur C. Clarke.

I wasn't surprised to find that it originated with Arthur C. Clarke - I always enjoy his novels and imaginings.
"On an interstellar journey, far in the future, a medical doctor and a priest debate about the existence of God in the wonders of the universe. Dr. Chandler, believes in the random patterns, but the priest, Father Matthew Costigan—also an astrophysicist—believes it is God's grand design. While having their friendly debate and wishing each other a merry Christmas, their ship picks up a subspace signal from a long-dead world. Father Matthew claims it is impossible that a civilization could have survived its star going supernova. The planet was so far from the star when it exploded that it escaped the worst.

Upon landing on the now-dead planet, the explorers discover that the planet holds the last remains of a race which was destroyed when the supernova hit. Their civilization was quite advanced, with remnants of art and other pieces of their culture. Along with a computer record of their entire history comes evidence that they had had a thousand years of peace before their extinction. The captain requests Father Matthew to determine when the star went supernova. He calculates that the star exploded in the year 3120 B.C.

To his dismay, however, Father Matthew realizes that it would have taken 3120 years for the light from this explosion to reach Earth, in the Eastern Hemisphere. This star was the same star that shone down on Earth the day Jesus was born, "The Star of Bethlehem". In front of Dr. Chandler, Father Matthew cries out to God, to question why it had to be these people who had to lose their lives, why it could not have been a star with no life around it. Dr. Chandler attempts to comfort him by reading a poem he found among the archives of the advanced culture. It says that no one should mourn for them, for they lived in peace and love and saw the beauty of the universe. It says to grieve for those who live in pain and those who never see the light of peace. Dr. Chandler says that "whatever destiny was theirs, they fulfilled it. Their time had come, and in their passing, they passed their light on to another world. A balance was struck, and perhaps one day, whenever we've fulfilled whatever destiny we have, maybe we too will light the way for another world." The doctor's words and this quiet artifact consoles and encourages the priest."

What follows is copy-typed, by me, from a piece by Ann Barkhust in "The Best of the Illustrated National Astrological Journal 1933 and 1934."

The Star of Nativity, What was the Star? Who were the mysterious strangers?

The Star of Bethlehem has always been a fascinating enigma for modern astrologers. Present day believers (1933) in the star-legend are inclined to think the "Star of the East" might have been one of the transient stars which occasionally flare up in the heavens and then die away, often marking the death throes of a sun. Or, they say, it may have been a variable star; one which flares up for a few days or hours into great brightness, then sinks back into its usual dullness as though nothing had happened.

An increasing number of students, however, do not look to any star not in the usual course of the heavens. Quoting the "Zohar" we find the following: "When the Messiah is to be revealed a star will rise in the east shining in great brightness and will remain in the east fifteen days". So many of these ancient Jewish teachings have a foundation in the Egyptian that it lends corroboration to the claims of a modern school of astrological thought which identifies the Star of Bethlehem with the sacred Star of Egypt, Sirius, which is in the mid-heaven on Christmas Eve, at the time when the constellation Virgo, the Celestial Madonna, stands over the eastern horizon.

According to "Religion of the Stars", Sirius is the star that led the Wise Men from the East to the site of the blessed nativity. For ages prior to the time now allotted to that event, Sirius had been the star that indicated the coming of a Savior. At the present time (1933) Sirius rises on Christmas evening about seven o'clock, taking five hours and three minutes to reach the meridian. Thus now it stands directly overhead at midnight of Christmas Eve. This has not always been the case but for many thousands of years Sirius has been the most conspicuous object in the heavens Christmas night.

Jesus' birth, like that of all the other Messiahs, was the fulfillment of the promise foretold in celestial configuration. It is also stated in the Hebrew legends that a brilliant star shone at the birth of Moses, and was seen by the Magi of Egypt who immediately informed the King. Again it is said that when Abraham was born this star shone in the heavens eclipsing all other stars in glory. In his teachings to the Persians, the great teacher, Zoroaster, foretold the birth of the Christ-child at which time a shining star would be seen in the heavens. The Wise Men always knew precisely the time when the Sun would be in a direct line with that great fixed star, Sirius, the Dog Star.

In the "Celestial Ship of the North" the Magi - commonly call the Wise Men - are shown as astrologers who had pure, unassailable knowledge found in the Zodiacal heavens and the fixed stars. They were said to come from Arabia, but the word Arabia at the time of Jesus' birth meant not only Arabia Felix, but northern India, i.e. the Himalayas. These Magi were Mahatmas or Masters from India who had calculated astrologically the advent of Jesus and journeyed for two years or more to visit him. In the fifth chapter of the "Aquarian Gospel", by Levi Dowling, is found the following confirmation of this statement: "Beyond the River Euphrates the Magians lived; and they were wise, could read the language of the stars and they divined that one, a master soul, was born." Their number, three, is derived from the fact that they offered three gifts, but tradition had it that there were twelve or twenty Magi, and that the entire journey from India and a return took nearly five years. They fully realized that great planetary conjunctions are always coincident with critical periods on earth, at which time Mundane changes take place that are universal.

Kepler claimed positively that all the planets were in conjunction in Pisces when Jesus was born. Every eight hundred years Jupiter and Saturn are in conjunction the same as was thought to be in effect at his birth. The sign, Pisces, was generally connected with the Messiahs - called by the Kabalist "The Constellation of the Messiahs". Sephariel, an English astrologer of the present (20th) century, gives as convincing proof a chart for this birth, placing the Moon and Uranus in conjunction in the sign Pisces, with the Sun in the opposite sign, Virgo, that of the immaculate Mother. Arbanal, in his commentary on the prophet Daniel, claims with others that the Jews, who called their Messiah "Dag" or fish, connected him with the sign of the Fishes "which indicated the land of Judea." He states that his authority is from ancient and reliable sources.

In a recent article in the "Psychical Research Journal" is a statement "that the birth of the Babe at Bethlehem took place in the late summer, probably a few years BC. The form of the constellation was that of a cross, the shaft of which was formed by three planets in a vertical line - the Moon at the head, Mars at the center, and Venus at the foot. These were seen in the sign of the Crab (Cancer) whose principal stars formed the two arms of the cross. The sign of the Crab was visible before dawn in the eastern skies over Jerusalem, and the configuration reached exactness about one hour before dawn. The group of stars to the right or southern side of the cross were most important. It was called by the Romans the "Praesepe" or "Manger". From this description it is assumed that the moment of the birth would be the moment at which the Moon would come to a right line with the other two planets, Mars lying centrally between two clusters in the Crab. One of America's leading astronomers has checked all these details and made the following report:

"This configuration actually took place on September 27th BC6-7. It is a recurrent combination and liable to occur on the average once in thirty-one and four-tenths years; though not always with equal perfection. This "constellation" may probably have been seen in recognizable form some sixty times since the date first given. It is interesting to note that it occurs again this year, and will be seen in very perfect form on the morning of the 28th of August 1932."

Monday, December 17, 2018

Music Monday ~ Otherworldly

These first sounds are not exactly musical, but they are, literally, otherworldy because they came from Mars.
Scroll down to the sound clip in this interesting article:

Listen to the soothing sounds of Martian wind collected by NASA’s InSight lander's one of my own favourite otherworldly musical pieces, this by Mike Oldfield. As we head towards Winter Solstice, the title is rather appropriate:

"Let There Be Light"