Friday, September 16, 2011

The Prodigal Blogger

I've been a bad blogger. I've literally lost track of time, since time is the theme of this website. Where have I been? I ask myself. I've been having a Saturn return, I've traveled to Berlin and Calgary and Michigan, I've been excited and homesick and then home.

It takes a while after getting home before I truly land here, before I reoccupy my life. And this blog seems to require stability, maybe because it is about time, about the structure and boundaries of our lives. Although time moves, it also encases us. It's the language in which we write our stories, and language both limits and creates, demands and allows.

A lot has happened in the world, in the seven months since I've written here. Tens of thousands of people in Japan have vanished, swept away by a giant wave. Arab Spring became a longer, harder Arab summer, especially in Libya. And on a day when there were six planets in Aries, the sign of warriors, the U.S. got its revenge on Osama Bin Laden.

The War on Terror continues, a double negative that never ventures towards anything positive. Currently, in the US, both Congress and State Department lawyers are debating "the law of war". Can we rain bombs just about anywhere, or do they have to be aimed at a particular bigshot in an organization that clearly hates us?

There's only one planet in Aries these days, and it's Uranus, planet of revolution. Across the wheel is Saturn, the planet of responsiblity, and it's in Libra, the sign of peace, cooperation, relationship, and law. So war and law are ranged across from each other, vying for dominance. Uranus in Aries pushes for fierce, violent solutions that will put us on top, while Saturn in Libra keeps a cooler head, citing civilized standards.

And then there's Pluto, which stands for the shadow elements in each of us, and in our society. Pluto is squaring Uranus, egging it on. There are enemies everywhere, even if we can't see them. We hack off a head, and another grows in its place, and we have no choice but to keep hacking.

However, the Uranus/Pluto square is going out of orb in a few days, as Uranus retrogrades and Pluto moves forward. This square will form again next spring, and intermittently through the next four years, so we haven't passed through this turbulent time yet. But for now, for the fall and winter, things should calm down a little. The appetite for blood is diminishing.

It helps that Jupiter is now occupying the earth sign Taurus, a sign that builds strong foundations, that resists change, and that is fixated on the status quo. Jupiter in Taurus can be stagnant, but in such a tense time, this placidity is welcome - until next spring, when it leaves this sign just as the Uranus/Pluto square returns.

And for myself? By staying in one place for a while, I create both space and time. I build stronger, more stable moments, and hours that will serve as foundations for other hours.

This is how we survive eras of change. By appreciating the moment, by claiming it for our own essential purposes. I can't promise to suddenly turn from a bad blogger to a good blogger. But I do want to spend a little more time understanding the messages of days and hours, of sunrises and sunsets, of pulse and breath and heartbeat. I want to listen to it, decipher it, and someday learn to speak in the tongue of time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's Only The Beginning

There's a time to build up and a time to tear down. And we astrologers have been predicting that a lot of tearing down is about to happen.

And so now it's happening in several Arab countries, and we're cheering and sweating and feeling anxious for them. Whenever people rise up in revolution, we all rise up in spirit. We all owe our rights to crazy revolutionaries through the centuries. Some of them have died for causes that we now accept as our birthright.

And now - Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Jordan - it's happening again. Brave, angry individuals going out in the streets, hungry for social justice, knowing how easily they can be flattened by the weapons of the state. Behind them are the webs of organization, the connecting ideas that have always leaped from mind to mind at times of change, and that flow even more quickly using 21st century technology. It seems like a delicate safety-net, when helicopters are spraying bullets at people running like deer.

And yet people can be killed, but a passionately held idea is passed on endlessly and will keep moving forever. It's all we ever have, the belief that we deserve more authority over our own lives, and that we can handle more. And that it's time for this change.

And Uranus isn't even in Aries yet! I wonder what will happen next month, when it is?

Aries is the fiery sign of rebellion, of independence, of warriors and heroes and pioneers. And Jupiter, the planet of expansion, has been rushing quickly through Aries. Jupiter is acting as a herald for Uranus, showing us what the next seven years will bring, as Uranus moves through this sign.

Meanwhile, Saturn is progressing through Libra, the sign of equality, justice and balance, where it brings up questions around social responsibility. If Jupiter wasn't in fiery Aries, these questions would be settled mostly in the courts. But Jupiter in Aries is taking them to the streets, and Uranus in Aries will mean even greater numbers and more dramatic action.

We hold ordinary people in our minds, recognizing that they are always the core of change. They are the heroes. And yet, they are not different from us.

What do we want to change? Now is the time to think about that, to talk to each other, and to be ready. Because it is coming. That rumbling that you feel, that world-wide vibration, that's change.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hey, What's This About My Sign Changing?

Friends have been asking what the recent squawk about our changing signs is about. And I promised to address it here.

So, friends, let us travel back. Back to where, for an evening's entertainment, everybody lies down on the ground and stares at the sky, rather than staring at the TV screen. Back then, the fun thing was connecting the dots in the sky, and making up stories featuring animals or mythical characters. After a while, these stories became codified, and the zodiac was born. It was a useful measuring device, a way to tell where the planets were. Sometimes Venus was in front of the constellation of the fishes, and then she would move to the constellation of the ram, and then the constellation of the bull.

You never had to worry about what Venus would do next. She followed the steps of her sky-dance, and the moon and the other planets echoed that order. This was a big relief for those early sky watchers. They could turn to each other and say, "Hey, I knew she would do that! I was right!" In current times, this is echoed by the frequent satisfaction we feel when we guess the plot of a TV show.

Basically, the zodiac is a big round ruler. It sections off the sky around us, it tells us where the planets are hanging out, and helps us look at the relationships between the planets. Eventually, a Roman mathematician wrote about it, codifying the zodiac for the next several millenia.

However, are humans consistent? Hardly. Do we tend to share our opinions and work out something we can all agree on? Ha. Why do you think there are two kinds of electrical outlets, two ways of figuring out how cold it is, two political directions, two paths in Buddhism, two kinds of Islam? And so there are two zodiacs.

The original zodiac started at the spring equinox with the first degree of Aries. However, the stars do not actually remain still, although they are in no hurry. They mosey along at the rate of about one degree every 72 years (given 360 degrees for the entire circle of the sky around us). And so it wasn't very long before the spring equinox was no longer aligned with the first degree of Aries. That was the split. Ever since then we've had two zodiacs, one aligned to the spring equinox, one aligned to the beginning of the constellation of the ram.

And so, folks, what I'm saying is that this is really, really old news. Some folks went with the equinox, some went with constellation, and nothing has changed since this happened about two thousand years ago.

In Europe, they went with the spring equinox as the beginning of the zodiacal year. This is called the tropical zodiac, and what it means is that at the spring equinox every year, the zodiacal year begins with the sun at 0 degrees of Aries. And if the sun or a planet happens to be at 0 Aries, it is no longer in front of the constellation of the ram. The ram is over to the side now.

In India, they decided to stick with the constellations. This is called the sidereal zodiac. And so the new zodiacal year doesn't necessarily begin with the sun perched there at the spring equinox. And every 72 years, you have to move the dates for all the signs by a degree. So if you've been practicing Indian (Vedic) astrology, you're used to doing this. And if you haven't, why should you start now?

There have been plenty of rebels in the US and Europe who have agitated for the sidereal zodiac along the way, and there are plenty of westerners now who swear by Vedic astrology. I wouldn't spend my time arguing with any of them. I believe there are lots of paths that end up taking you where you need to go.

For myself, I am fine with the tropical zodiac. Why? Well, everything about astrology is earth-centered, and so it makes sense to me to align the zodiac to our seasonal rhythms. A natal chart is a picture of the sky from our perspective on earth. We are not standing outside this planet and looking at the overall picture. We are anchored here, physically present in our bodies and on the planet. The cross of the seasons - two equinoxes, two solstices - is echoed in the cross at the center of every chart, dividing the east from the west, and dividing the visible sky from the invisible sky underneath our feet.

And now the question that I keep coming back to is this. Why did this make it into the news in the first place? I realize that they are always looking for something that will trigger the urge to click in every person who happens across it. It drives me crazy, but I often feel the urge to click on odd things, just so I can find out what the heck they're talking about. And then I find myself looking at footage of swimming cats, or babies in hula hoops, or something. And I tell myself, "Never again! I will not click!"

It's not that we are all that easily distracted. It's that they've gotten distracting us down to an art. But one thing we can count on is the zodiac. Okay, there may be two of them. But if you pick one, and you're happy with it, then you know what's going to happen next in the sky. That gives a nice, safe feeling, whether you're sleeping out under the stars, or cozily tucked up in your own bedroom.