Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jupiter and The Nature of Beliefs

I don’t think our society is different to any others in having a set of commonly-held beliefs that describe the ultimate nature of the universe we live in – how it started, how it will end, the powers that keep it ticking etc. In our case, it is Science.

And I maintain that the way we tend to believe in its claims is no different to a society in which, for example, the world is held to have been started by 2 ravens, or sits on the back of a turtle.

Take the Big Bang. Was anyone there to see it? Does anyone even have a faded photograph of it in the attic, passed down from the intrepid explorer grandfather? No. You get my point.

We believe these things because we are told about them by the story-tellers of our tribe. Yes, they also present ‘evidence’, but even they did not see the Big Bang, even they have not even seen an atom directly with their own 2 eyes.

There is nothing wrong with believing the stories we are told about the world and how it works and how it came into being. It is a natural and necessary thing to do.

Unfortunately in our case, there tends to be only one version of it. If there are 2 versions of the story, one of them has eventually to be ‘proved’ wrong. Now what story has only one version? It takes the fun out of it and the sense of possibility out of it.

Not only is there just one story (and the story-tellers can be pretty punitive about exiling story-tellers that tell it differently,) but the universe it describes is cold and inherently meaningless.

In medieval times we also had only one story, and if you told a different one you were likely to lose your life rather than your career. And the universe, via the Old Testament, could be a pretty harsh place that was eager to condemn you.

So in some ways it was not that different – a demonised universe, and only one version of it.

The difference for astrologers in medieval times was that the powers we worked with were described as demonic rather than non-existent. So it was a different kind of opposition we faced.

So what astrologers are left with nowadays is a soul-craft that works, but which we are told cannot do so. And in some ways I like that. It means astrology leaves me with a feeling of wonder. Wow, here’s this thing that shouldn’t work, and I can see why people think it shouldn’t work, but it does. Wow, what kind of universe is it that we live in where this thing works that shouldn’t?

There is a joke about Wikipedia, that its problem is that it only works in practice. The same applies to astrology.

That sense of cultural opposition easily throws me into a philosophical place. I have the material vision of the universe provided by science, and in many ways it is a wondrous achievement. And I also have this enchanted vision of the universe that astrology provides, a universe fuelled by archetypal powers and subtle connections that I see as primary.

And that sense of opposition, this cultural message that what I do cannot work, keeps me thinking, keeps me pondering about how the whole thing works. Of course for some people, who are maybe less airy than me, they have a direct experience of astrology working, and what the culture thinks doesn’t impact on them. But for people like me, for whom that opposition can be a problem, I think it can also lead to a place of contemplation.

A guy I know, who works intuitively rather than airily, once said to me that the big thing he can’t get his head round is the fact that there is something rather than nothing. Which most of us have probably wondered at from time to time. But then he added that that fact seems so bizarre and unlikely, that he is prepared to believe that anything can happen. I thought that’s about right. We don’t need all those philosophy books with their subtle arguments. Just the fact that there is something rather than nothing says it all.

And I sometimes reflect that I am in no position to judge other people’s beliefs, because mine are so bizarre. This lump of rock the size of the Moon 2 billion miles away is also Lord of the Underworld, kind of? How bizarre is that?

No, I have to let people believe what they want. But there is a suggestion here that the ‘normal’ scientific belief is not bizarre. But that is just because we are used to it. Think about it: a lot of things are only real if they can be reduced to mathematical equations. How strange is that?

I think where I start to take issue is where I see inhuman consequences to the living of certain beliefs. Or when beliefs are promulgated that are held rigidly to the exclusion of others.

Below is a quote from Richard Dawkins, who used to be Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

Apart from the fact that it sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy, namely that the universe has a way of conforming to our beliefs about it, take that phrase blind, pitiless indifference. That is not a neutral term. What would you think of a person who was like that? You’d want to steer clear of them. It is a chilling description. Such a person would be severely dysfunctional, even mentally ill. They would be capable of anything, psychopathic. Dawkins is proposing a psychopathic universe, an updated version of the Old Testament.

What happened to Dawkins in his childhood that he has such a warped view of the world? Promulgating such views from a position such as his is profoundly unethical. Confess it to your therapist or your priest, maybe, but leave it at that. This man was promoted to a professorship at Oxford in order to spread the ‘public understanding of science’, as they called it. Everything about the man is religion in its worst sense, even his opposition to religion.

Or take David Icke’s proselytising of the idea that leading politicians are really 14ft reptiles. If he wants to privately believe that, then that is his affair. But he has encouraged plenty of gullible people to believe it, he seems to need them to do so. What it essentially does is to demonise the people in government, it gives a view of these people that bears no relation to what they are actually like. It is deeply destructive to get people to think in this way about their government. 

But note it is not the bizarreness of his beliefs that I am criticising. After all, I believe a lump of rock 2 billion miles away is also Lord of the Underworld. The difference is whether others are harmed by your beliefs – by the beliefs themselves, or by your insistence that they are the only way of seeing the world. 

Nor am I saying the Ickes and Dawkins  of this world need to be stopped. There have always been such proselytisers and always will. And sometimes we learn by being drawn into their worlds and coming out the other side. Like I did with a nutty form of Buddhism in my youth!

I think all beliefs are in their own way bizarre. After all, at bottom there is something rather than nothing, and that is the most bizarre thing of all.

Beliefs are covered in astrology by Jupiter. So are stories, which is interesting, suggesting that beliefs are just stories we tell ourselves about the world. “God made the world in 6 days” and so on.

Beliefs are fundamental to who we are. I often skirt around Jupiter when I do a reading, it’s like he’s where we are expansive and find meaning and that’s about it.

But he’s the stories we tell ourselves, not just about the universe but about ourselves and our lives, and also about what is right and wrong. And we don’t necessarily pay much attention to all that. Like the Creation Myths, we are given many of our stories by others and we live them out. And then maybe we have a mid-life crisis and realise it’s time to live our own story.

The 9th House of beliefs and religion follows on from the 8th House of psychoanalysis and the shadow. The 9th House is the outcome of the 8th House. In the 8th you find who you are, after encountering the mirror of other people in the 7th. It is a House of shared experience, of where we are enmeshed with others. It is therefore also a House of separating out from that. The 8th is a House of Inheritance, and it is Pluto’s House. Pluto takes us to his Underworld and pulls apart the unconscious way we have lived, the inherited values and beliefs and stories, and we emerge into Jupiter’s House with our own story, and because it is our own it has power to it, we can share it with others, and that is why the 9th is a House of teaching. And the power comes from Pluto, the power that comes from finding something that is our own. In that sense Pluto is evolutionary, he wants us to find what is uniquely ours and he is prepared to destroy us to make that happen, that is his value system.

So I think if you have been through that 8th House initiation, maybe in the form of a Pluto transit, then you have stories and values that are living, they come directly from something alive in you, and they will not therefore be rigid, they will in a sense depend on the day of the week!

(PS I’m feeling inclined to nick ‘values’ from the 2nd House and call that a House of resources and building, and bundle them into the 9th.)

And I think stories are also Neptune’s realm. The mythopeic ocean from which Jupiter picks his stories. Neptune is direct experience of what is absolute, Jupiter brings it down a level to that which can be spoken about in time and space.

Richard Dawkins has a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in Taurus. His beliefs don’t have to be like they are with that signature, they could be wonderful, but you can never tell in advance: Taurus is a belief system of this world, of nature, of matter. And it is fixed/enduring. And Saturn denies there is anything other than dead matter, adds to the rigidity and gives a sense of authority and a projecting of those beliefs onto the world through a position, his professorship. He has Moon and Venus in Pisces opposite Neptune and in his own way I think he means well, he is not an unkind man, he is very sensitive. But he is also fucked up somewhere, his poor old Moon in Pisces has in many ways been bullied out of existence by  his self-righteous Sun in Aries, a sign which at its worst knows it has the truth and a duty to help others see it.

As for David Icke, his Jupiter is also in Taurus, and his belief system is anything but of this world. It is, though, very literal, and that is maybe the earthy Taurus. The only explanation I can think of with his chart is that Jupiter is weakly aspected, making wide conjunctions to the Sun and Venus and that is it. In some people a wide aspect leaves room for distance and self-awareness of that planet, but maybe in his case it means that Jupiter is doing its own thing, here is a man who really will believe anything, and believe it literally (Earth sign) and rigidly (Fixed sign.)

And Dawkins, with his Jupiter in Taurus, is a man who claims to believe nothing, only ‘evidence’, but unfortunately not believing can also be a kind of belief, you can’t get out of it so easily. And his non-belief in God and religion is fervent, it is a crusade. It is very important to him that people believe what he believes.

‘There is nothing new under the Sun’, and the very notion that in modern times humanity is at last emerging from the darkness of its infancy, blinds us to the fact that with our 'Science' we can be just as rigid and intolerant as any medieval Pope. Note 'can be', not 'are'. Plenty of people aren't.

So Jupiter and Sag and the 9th House are all connected to what happens after Pluto. When we re-emerge into life, but grounded and real. Without that initiation, Jupiter can be naïve and up in the sky. But after Pluto, he helps tell the story of our abduction and what we saw in that other world and the wisdom we gained.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Uranus-Pluto Update

The square between Uranus and Pluto is the big transit that the world is going through right now. We only have these challenging angles between 2 outer planets every 20 or 30 years: the last one was the  Uranus-Neptune conjunction in the early 90s, when the Cold War ended. The world always goes through a phase shift under such transits.

The world, of course, is always changing. But change has a habit of being gradual, and then tipping over relatively rapidly into a whole new phase. We can see this in our personal lives, and we can see it in the world. And the rapid, pivotal periods generally correspond to hard outer planet transits.

All you know from these transits is the shape of the change, the principles underlying it, and the broad time period. You don’t know at what point major events will occur. Often they occur in the very early stages, like the 2008 financial crisis, when Uranus and Pluto still had 4 years to go before they would make an exact square. However, the inner planets often give clues as to timing. In 2008, Saturn was opposing Uranus, creating instability (Uranus) in the financial system (Saturn.) Five years later, we have Saturn and Pluto in mutual reception (each in the sign the other rules, a bit like a conjunction) and the West seems to be pulling out of the Great Recession. An empowerment (Pluto) of the foundations (Saturn), with both planets having a financial meaning.

Saturn is the planet that facilitates the expression of the outer planets, which are invisible to us, but not to Saturn, who is far out enough to see them.

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The next square between Uranus and Pluto is on 1st November, and is the 4th of 7 over a 3 year period. So we are approaching the mid-point. In last week’s piece I said that economically it appears to be over bar the shouting, with the crossings to come being a working through of the changes that have already happened.

But I think that was not quite trusting the astrology, because surely the central crossing of this inherently crisis-ridden transit will have some kind of peak to it, some kind of crisis which we will see in the run-up to it (which is when events tend to occur)? And sure enough, over the last week there have been political crises, with financial implications, in Italy and the US, both of which were inevitable.

In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction for fraud (about time) is threatening the stability of the government. Italy has a huge debt which has drifted onto the Eurozone back-burner, it is the elephant under the carpet. The smaller economies like Greece and Ireland and maybe even Spain were always bailable-outable, after an appropriate show of reluctance by the rest of the Eurozone. But not so Italy. The debt seems just about manageable if there is political stability. The next few weeks, in the run-up to the Uranus-Pluto square, are critical. (Since writing this, the political crisis seems to be over - for now. The government has survived a no-confidence vote.)

The next few weeks are also a bit nerve-wracking for the USA, due to political deadlock over the budget. The US has been here many times before, with government services being shut down due to a lack of funding. Beyond that, the US will soon have to raise its debt ceiling in order to pay its bills, and if there is not Congressional agreement before then, Obama will have to raise the debt ceiling on his own, like Clinton before him, and then fight his right to do so in the courts.

The cause of the deadlock is that the Republicans (who control the House of Representatives) won’t agree to the budget unless the funding for Obamacare is stripped. This is, of course, profoundly undemocratic, because Obamacare has been passed into law, so the Republicans are using the budget to try and neuter a law they don’t like. On the other hand, it’s how Congress works, and the Republicans see it as a moral issue, an unfair law.

And the US has been there before as well. Like in 1977, when the Senate wanted Medicare funds to be available for abortions where rape or incest had been involved, but the House didn’t. It was Democrat vs Democrat this time. It’s not all just nasty Republicans.

And then as now, there was a hard transit from Pluto to the US Sun at 14 Cancer. One outcome of this earlier transit was that from 1980, government workers were not paid during shutdowns. The US Sun is in the sign of Cancer, and it is square to natal Saturn, so the US looking after its own people, caring for them, is an ongoing issue which has been raised under both the last Pluto transits. Abortion can be argued from both sides, it is very complex – religion apart, is your priority the mother or the unborn baby? Is there right and wrong here? Is it about a governmental duty of care (the Cancerian Sun) or is it about the people's ‘rights’ (the American Aquarian Moon)?

Uranus-Pluto may be mid-way through its series of squares, but both planets have yet to aspect the US Sun at 14 Cancer. Pluto won’t exactly oppose until 2015. So there are ways to go. The transit is partly to do with the claims of business (Saturn) vs the needs of the people (Sun in Cancer). But it is also to do with power and government in the US, and the dysfunctionality that arises under the present system, when due to partisan politics, the government of the world’s most powerful country cannot even set a budget, one of its most basic duties. 

And there is a particular dysfunctionality that has been around since Clinton, which is the right wing of the republican party, the Tea party as it has become known. They were neo-cons before that. Under Clinton they did their best to undermine the President, convulsing the US in the very trivial Lewinsky affair and making the country look ridiculous.

So the present transit to the US Sun may be a time when this dysfunctionality is addressed. With the present shutdown, it seems that most people are blaming the Republicans. The next couple of years may see increasing attempts by the right to stop Obama governing, and consequently a popular turning away from what the right is trying to do.