Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saturn, the Moon and the Education System

The Cancer-Capricorn axis represents respectively family life and one’s place in the world. Both are necessary. One is the archetypal world of the mother, the other of the father. Childhood represents a progression from one to the other. The early years are Cancer, the close and nourishing family life (ha-ha!) As we get older, we need to start to get a sense of the world and the demands it will place on us, and this is Capricorn.

Astrology has an answer for the age that this transition needs to start to happen: around the age of 14 or 15. I don’t know if this is traditional, but the astrology seems sound.

Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and around the age of 14/15 we find the Progressed Moon opposite the natal Moon. So the childhood world is starting to change. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, and around the age of 14/15 we find transiting Saturn opposite natal Saturn: the adult world begins to call us.

Astrological events often occur a year or two before an exact crossing, so I’d say age 13, depending on the individual, is the earliest age this process should start.

In a way the education system reflects this: at aged 14, kids begin in earnest a 2 year process that leads to the first Saturnian event, in other words an event in which the world judges our worth, and that is (in the UK) GCSEs.

I’m not a child psychologist, but I am an astrologer, and I trust its answers. Astrology seems to be saying yes, it is necessary and appropriate that a bit of pressure to achieve and be measured is put on the kids from their early teens. But astrology also seems to be saying that the emphasis before that needs to be on being a kid and having a good home life, that a sound basis in the Moon principle is needed in order for the Saturn principle to work in a healthy way.

Of course, there is a Saturn square Saturn around the age of 7, at about the time you get a Prog Moon square natal Moon. This is also a change, but it is not an opposition, where the demand to change comes from without. A square is more of an internal challenge, so this is when kids need to begin the discipline of learning to read and write etc: as a square, however, the challenge is not from outside themselves, it is not at this stage about achievement, about being measured against other kids and against external criteria.

This, according to the astrology, is where the UK government is getting it wrong in testing all these kids at a young age. It is putting them into the Saturn phase before the Moon phase has had proper time to develop, and this reflects the one-sided Saturn of modern society.

It’s not just the government getting it wrong, because there is also the private educational system, which operates outside of the government system. Here, if anything, it is worse, the classic example being 8 year olds being sent to boarding school. This is big-time premature curtailment of the Moon principle, and premature introduction of the Saturn principle. Without proper development of the Moon, of the emotions, the person is liable to become over-identified in the long-term with the achievement of Saturn as a sort of compensation for lack of emotional fulfilment. It is a good system for creating business leaders of a certain type, for ensuring wealth and success, but at the expense of a narrow personality and probably misery in some of the people around them.

Another way of putting this is that we all have have a natural curiosity and set of interests. Education should be about fostering these (Moon), whereas it is too often about the opposite: negative Saturn puts money and success above all else, and achieves its ends through pressure. So you can end up as an adult without knowing, let alone having developed, your real interests. In its place is a programme that says you must 'succeed'.

Saturn without the Moon is a wilful husk. The Moon without Saturn is a directionless blob. Both tend to be self-centred.

The Saturn Return aged about 29 coincides with Prog Moon conjunct natal Moon. So this needs to be a time when both principles are brought together. Classically, this is a time of both promotion at work, or knowledge of one’s vocation (Saturn) together with becoming a parent for the first time (Moon). But both events involve the other pole as well: parenting is a responsibility (Saturn) while meaningful work is also emotionally fulfilling (Moon).

The Saturn Return is normally thought of in terms of worldly advancement. But bringing in the Progressed Moon suggests more of a balance, it suggests that this period also needs to involve emotional self-knowledge, knowledge of what one needs for personal happiness.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Charismatic Psychopath charged over Killer Sweat Lodge

Pluto is currently turning red due to its poles shifting. It’s part of a regular cycle, but he’s turning red much more strongly than astronomers had predicted. The reason for this is that he was demoted to minor planet status a few years ago, and he’s not pleased. What a way to treat the Lord of the Underworld. Pluto is also said to be the higher octave of the red planet Mars, so there is another resonance there.

Someone who clearly doesn’t honour the Lord of the Underworld is James Ray, the ‘motivational speaker’ under whose ‘expert’ leadership 2 people died in a sweat lodge in Arizona last year, and a 3rd died later from multiple organ failure. 21 of the 64 people inside the lodge were taken to hospital. According to participants, Ray kept the ceremony going despite people’s distress. Now he has been charged with manslaughter, and has pleaded not guilty.

What was he doing with 64 people inside the lodge? The leader needs to be aware of all the participants, and that is not possible with those numbers. It might have something to do with the event it was part of, which cost thousands of dollars. You make a lot more money from a lodge with 64 people than with, say, 15-20. This incident is the latest in a series going back years.

James Ray was born 22 Nov 1957. His Sun is on the Scorpio/Sag cusp, square to Pluto, and his Moon is in Sag. You have to watch it when you’ve got a hard Sun-Pluto aspect and you find yourself in a leadership position, because you don’t have an easy relationship with power. Honesty is needed. Sagittarius, with its eyes fixed on its lofty goals and grand horizons, is one of the signs that can be least interested in, or comfortable with, examining its ordinary human motives. It's a good sign, for example, for thinking that you are doing God's Will. I'd put Mr Ray in that well-known lineage of spiritual teachers, the 'charismatic psychopaths'.

(Note: if you talk to God, that makes you religious; if he talks back, that makes you psychotic!)

It has surprised me for some time that there has not been a load of legislation around sweat lodges from the health and safety people. I’ve been glad there hasn’t been such legislation, because it’s a pain and it’s restrictive, and if you’re being reasonably responsible, you don’t need it. But people like Mr Ray can spoil it for everyone else by producing a need for legislation.

A friend used to teach rock and roll dancing at a local adult education college. For him it involved people having fun and feeling at ease being sexy. He ran it for years, and then the education mafia came along and said they weren’t happy because his course did not lead to a certificate; furthermore, in the short meditation he led them through at the end, he had his eyes closed, which meant he couldn’t see what was happening, and this created health and safety issues! My friend realised it was time to stop running the classes.

But this is what the health and safety people do, and I can’t see it lessening under Pluto in Capricorn. I can imagine sweat lodges horrifying them. You’d need, for example, a building permit, a light inside, a barrier around the rocks and a door that opened automatically if it got too hot, or stayed hot for too long. You’d need someone with first aid training (not a bad idea), insurance and a doctor’s clean bill of health for all the participants. The rocks would need to go in while everyone was outside having their health checked between rounds. There would need to be a couple of emergency exits apart from the main door. The rocks would need to be of a type that let off no noxious fumes. The firekeepers would have to wear special fireproof clothing and faceguards and have a certificate.

And so on. Let’s hope Mr Ray’s behaviour doesn’t bring the health and safety mafia down on the rest of us who have been running sweats for years without serious incidents.

There is actually a Chippewa-Cree form of sweat lodge that is set up as an underworld experience. It is for moving on particularly painful or traumatic experiences. Before you go in, you put on a mask, so it's like eradicating your old identity, and that is how you remain inside the lodge. At the end you are reborn. This is very like a Pluto transit, where you die, you lose your old identity, and then you are reborn, transformed. I haven't been in one of these lodges, but a friend who has been in one described it to me (slightly against the rules, as the element of not knowing is important). The next night something old and painful moved on as if I had actually been in the lodge. In my case, it was because it made such mythic sense, because it was using a form that I was so familiar with from astrology, that I was able to connect in this way.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cherie Blair versus the National Secular Society

Cherie Blair, the barrister wife of Tony Blair, has come under fire from the National Secular Society. Sitting as a judge in a case where one Muslim broke another’s jaw in a fight over a place in a bank queue, she decided to suspend the man’s sentence because he was a religious person and had not been in trouble before. She added: "You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour."

The National Secular Society has complained to the Office for Judicial Complaints that her attitude was discriminatory and unjust, and suggests she might have treated a non-religious person less leniently.

I fully agree. Cherie Blair should not be let away with this. No doubt in her own head she is being liberal and open-minded, because the guy is a Muslim, whereas she is a Catholic. But actually she is putting religious people above those who are not, and this is prejudice and intolerance. (Maybe also it's a case of 'Nice Lion', the Blairs being a prime target for muslim extremists).

If anything, I would argue the case the other way around: many people take to religion because they can't handle living in an uncertain universe. With the false certainty that religion provides comes a sense of rightness and superiority that can be used to justify unethical actions. So if I were in Cherie Blair’s position, I would be asking how much this guy’s religion justified the violence that occurred when the other person ‘sinned’ by shoving in front of him in the queue.

Christianity and Islam both have a long history of righteous violence. The recent/current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a testament to this. In the case of Christianity, there is on the one hand the teaching of Christ, but there is the Old Testament as well, which Islam also accepts, with its eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth teaching.

So I find it ridiculous that Cherie Blair should raise religious people above secular people in this way. Islam, I guess, is her enemy’s enemy (secularism), so for now it is her friend.

Click to Enlarge

I don’t know much about what Cherie Blair is like, but her chart reveals a Virgo Sun and Leo Rising and Moon. The Virgo Sun gives her the analytical, flexible mind that a lawyer needs, and the Leo gives her the ability to perform that a barrister needs (her father was an actor). Pluto squared her Sun in the last few years, and part of the meaning of this must surely have been the more independent identity that was possible when her husband stepped down from being Prime Minister.

Jupiter is near the Ascendant (also square to Mercury and Neptune), and this gives her religion, but with Uranus also there, I am surprised her religion is so conventional. What I have noticed with the 1955 Jupiter-Uranus bunch is that while on the one hand they are often forward thinking, they also tend towards fanaticism and intolerance – a bit like Aquarians, who are Uranus-ruled. If you mix this in with the sense of rightness that a double fire sign gives, as well as the conservatism of Leo, then I think you have Cherie Blair. She also has a liberalism (Jupiter-Uranus) to her – she is, after all, the wife of an ex-Labour PM, and is famous for saying in reference to Palestinian suicide bombers: "As long as young people feel they have no hope but to blow themselves up, we're never going to make progress, are we?"

Pluto is squaring, and Saturn opposing, her MC this year, so I would expect her career to move forward significantly. She’ll probably be appointed as a full-time judge.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

George Bush and my Neptune-Sun Transit

Last night I dreamed I was in a boat at night that capsized, and we were all left swimming in arctic waters. I knew I was going to die. After a while, I hit land off the coast of Norway. I was able to guide everyone else to safety too.

I think that is about right for the end of my Neptune-Sun transit (which has also coincided with my time on the astroblogosphere). With Neptune-Sun it can be like the light has gone out (night-time) and there is no solid ground underneath you. So we’ll see what happens. Pluto conjoining my one personal earth planet – Mars – will no doubt be implicated.

I’m reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a fictionalised account of the lives of George and Laura Bush in the form of Charlie and Alice Blackwell. It’s a very good dissection of 2 incompatible characters, though how much they correspond to George and Laura is hard to say. It’s written in the 1st person, from Alice’s point of view. She is given the birthday of 6th April 1942, which doesn’t suit the character. Laura Bush’s birthday of 4th Nov 1946, though, works excellently for the Alice character. Sun in Scorpio trine Moon in Pisces: quiet, insightful, truthful, compassionate. Also a bit of a goody-goody and uptight.

It’s interesting that the rich people behave in exactly the same tedious, superior way that moneyed people in England do. I’ve only got to the point where Charlie/George buys his baseball team, but he is obsessed with his ‘legacy’, which Laura cannot understand. As she puts it, some men ‘panic’ about it, which sounds about right. I know glimpses of the feeling from the middle of the night, when I am briefly appalled at my lack of ‘legacy’. Then I return to my senses! It’s just another brainwashing that stops you actually living, and it’s the curse of ‘successful’ families. I’ve spent 30 years undoing this one, and the more I do so, the more I feel I’m connected to life. It’s a Saturn thing – I have Moon conjunct – which gives the ability to apply yourself over a long period and to become good at something. But it also curses you by reducing your self-respect to what you are good at, what you have to ‘show for yourself’, instead of self-respect as a natural part of being human.

A life on this planet is a very short, ephemeral thing in the grand scheme, in the vast stretches of time that have been and will be. It isn’t important enough to get so serious about a ‘legacy’ or an ‘achievement’ or about anything. Your legacy will be forgotten within a short time anyway, apart from as a measuring stick for your children and grandchildren to feel inadequate by! (It’s part of the 8th House of inheritance.) We’re only here very temporarily, so trying to create something solid and lasting is delusional. And it gets in the way of that wonderful, rich, charmed experience that day-to-day living can provide, if we’re not trying to improve on it!

Also spoken like someone at the end of a Neptune-Sun transit.

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