Category: Living Outside the Lines Page 1 of 6

Astronomy and Astrology and Predicting Future Experience

A discussion in an astronomy class asked the question, “Can astrology predict your future?”; the reflection framed a textbook journey through the solar system and revealed how much the planets are like zodiac houses they rule.

The Sun. Image credit: NASA

I’ve recently gone back to school; one of my required classes was an introduction to astronomy. The discussion prompt for the first week of class asked, “Can astrology predict your future?” I took the opportunity to put my positive, direct experience of astrology on the back burner. I stayed open to the perspectives shared in class; there was a general sense that no, astrology doesn’t predict the future, and that astrology is less more like a parlor trick that sometimes works. I realized, too, that our body of astronomy is built upon theories that didn’t always work. Science has sometimes been the parlor trick. I learned how ancients tracked the motions of wandering stars (which is what the word “planets” means in ancient Greek) through astute observation. Later, mathematics taught us about the orbit and locations of planets’ movements in space.

I wondered, If we knew where a body would be, would we know what part of our mind to work with? The mind is where I directly apply astrological insight, since it’s the mind filter that creates our reality in the material world. I learned that the planets have characteristics much like the houses they are associated with, parts that have placements in a whole or totality of the stages of psychological growth.

Here’s what that looked like.

First, the Sun. Sometimes it is called a king. Like Leo, its associated house, the Sun is showy and boisterous. Leo governs the individual impulse, the impulse to individuate, and the Sun activates the impulse to life.

Next, Mercury. Our current science says the planet is shrinking—the planet is tectonically active. This is different from previously established knowledge that said it was a dead world. I think of the trickster, and Gemini, the house Mercury rules; it’s the same either-or, can’t-quite-pin-down literal shape-shifter. Mercury also rules Virgo, where we act on ritual and body wisdom. We are the ones who best know our embodied experience, right?

Next is the planet with a runaway greenhouse affect—Venus. Venus is associated with love and beauty; the colors of the atmosphere are visually stunning; it is a hostile planet, hot and uninhabitable. I can’t think of something that creates more heat than love in its amorous incarnation. Gracious and social Libra, whom Venus rules, can also be sharp and salty; and beauty is desired by Taurus, whom Venus also rules.

The Earth’s Moon, whom Cancer rules, is in our orbit and in our service as a guide to weather, agricultural, and tidal rhythms. Our planet rotates in a synchronous manner with the Moon, and that means we never get to see one side of our nearest neighbor. Cancer, whose soft underbelly of emotional resonance, hides; keeps inside. And yet, the house gives us the mothering impulse.

Earth and the Moon. Image credit: NASA

And then there’s Mars, the planet of war and ruler of Scorpio and Aries. Mar is red. Its mere existence has occupied a place in the collective fantasy: colonization, life, exploration. Aggressive, hot, fiery new beginnings—do you see a parallel to spiritual battles, ones in which we seek to gain power over ourselves? Isn’t choosing mindfulness sometimes a fight? We battle to be present. Overcoming strong ego structures involves strong first steps. And sometimes we have to fake our strength just to get the fight going. Scorpio is the actor/ess in us.

The first outer planet, Jupiter, rules Sagittarius. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, and its through Sanitariums that we can know the part of our mind that seeks expansion. Jupiter has a physical effect that is similar to its appearance.

Next, Saturn, governs Capricorn. Saturn is often called the task maker. I learned that Saturn’s rings, which are visible from Earth, are made of billions of ice particles—and if we were to stand on them we would see they are only a few meters thick. The tiny particles in rings are visible from Earth! Wow. What an analogy for all the little things we do adding up in the bigger picture!

Uranus is actually quite an Aquarian planet; it is the shocker, revolutionary, up-rooter. We know that Uranus rotates on its side (in comparison to other planets)—it’s an exception to the rules that have been ascribed from the other planets.

There’s Neptune, which is nebulous, strikingly blue, and makes me think about the imagination and dreams and dreaminess. I thought, “Pisces much?” (Neptune rules Pisces.)

Last, there’s Pluto, positioned at the far end of our solar system.

Pluto. Image credit: NASA

Pluto, especially in evolutionary astrology, takes an important role for our being, our impulse to incarnate and live and have lives through which we heal. The farthest planet is our impulse to life; it is far away from the Sun that activates our lives. I learned that Neptune and Pluto cross orbits; there are years when Neptune is farther than the sun than Pluto. I saw a strong connection—a metaphor—for the ways our own subconscious and our creative impulse find fulfillment and expression through a back and forth relay with each other.

I was surprised to see so much astronomy reflected in astrology, especially considering that the ancients created these associations without having seen the planets first hand. Modern folks know the solar system through data, which include complex images created by measuring and layering and synthesizing information. They knew where to look, point a telescope, position a camera, and find parts of the solar system. They knew where celestial bodies would be in space by knowing orbital patterns. That’s scientific insight. Astrological insight acts the same way, in as much as our relationships with our minds and our minds filtered through houses can “predict” how we will perceive/be acted upon by events as they happen.

Can astrology predict the future? Astronomy is much better at that. Astrology tells us how to grow with it.

 

 

Playing With Subjective Experience

An art and hobby festival highlights the benefits of creative play; I offer attendees opportunities to fiddle with their subjective experience.

Flyer for the Art & Hobby Festival

“I’m sorry, I had such a hard time getting here,” said the woman who looked a bit frazzled as she walked into the room. I was sitting at my workshop table arranging journaling prompts. I could tell that she had physically arrived, but she hadn’t really mentally arrived yet. “Well, now you’re here,” I replied. “And that’s all you need to be.” She sat down on an adjacent empty chair and looked at me with a face that said, “I’m listening.” I explained that Pluto, the planet and archetype of primordial energy and deep, slow-to-process transformation, was transiting and it might be making things a little hard for everybody right now. I live for moments like this, where the injection of new ideas alters the way a person looks at a situation and changes their experience of it.

The woman and I were at the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival, held in Marbletown, NY. The event, dreamed up by Allison Braun of Smell the Damn Roses, is meant to give people options to “try new things” and play. Presenters are display their hobbies, aka offerings, through hands-on activities at tables. The presenters are also given a time slot to do a workshop featuring their hobby aka skill. Allison has invited me several times to showcase EVOL because my offerings are a gateway to exploring inner worlds and self care. Taking a play-filled approach eases the exploration for those who might think that self care isn’t their “thing.” I ask attendees, “Who are you?,”  and the straightforward, unexpected question often causes people to reflect on something they might not be thinking about. I set up my table to be a reflection workshop. I provide prompts, paper, and writing instruments for people to spend a few minutes having a conversation with themselves.

Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival

My definition of self care is inclusive, too, because I say that it is a practice that brings awareness to a state of consciousness. Self care doesn’t have to look or be a certain way–it only has to serve your growth, wellness, and evolution. Self care as a hobby improves mental health because you can determine what brings you joy–like taking time to try new things–it’s the practice of checking in and noticing how your experience is while you’re doing the activity that matters. It’s you plugging in to the power of your presence. Being present means you acknowledge the factors that are affecting your momentary experience.

Another reason I like to do the festival is the opportunity to talk to people about how environmental factors, including astrological ones, can affect mental well being. Often, it’s the first time people hear about evolutionary astrology, which is soul focused and emphasizes the ability to transmute experiences through spiritual growth. Evolutionary astrology says that what’s happening in your life is set up as a lesson, ie, give us the opportunities to challenge previous courses of actions (cause and effect, aka karma). It also says that through transmuting aka integrating the lessons of the things that happen around us, we move toward different expressions of actions and reactions. The more aware we are of our tendencies, the more informed we can be to make conscious choices. If we choose differently, we break karma.

Jeffrey Wolf Green’s book Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul is a foundational text in the body of knowledge of evolutionary astrology. He writes that

Pluto’s house and sign placement describe two simultaneous phenomena. One the one hand, the natal position of Pluto describes the … individualized patterns in identity … on the other hand, … Pluto points to the evolutionary desire.

A seminal work in evolutionary astrology

Pluto was active in the astrological weather during May, which was a serendipitous coincidence with mental health awareness month. It provided a brilliant circumstance to be sitting at the table and having honest and authentic conversations with people during the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival, like the one with the woman.

“Let’s look at your chart,” I told her. We considered at the placement of Pluto that was specific to her, and together we considered aspects, aka how the mix of energies of Pluto and the other planets moving through the sky at that moment were working off each other and giving her a certain flavor of experience. We talked about what her comfort zone (the natal position of Pluto) was and how to gently step outside of it, take mindful action, and grow (the sensation, force of evolutionary desire). It’s a psychological process that can be stressful as well as beneficial.

“Wow,” she said at one point. “I feel better knowing that I’m not crazy.” Her mood shifted and she left in a different mental place and with many things to reflect upon. Astrology is a science of mixing and experimenting; each sign, house, placement (of celestial bodies) produce unique reactions when considered with other celestial bodies. The woman, by learning about her natal Pluto placement, was able to let go some of the “Why?” and move toward “What now?” as in, taking informed action. The reflections cause by our conversation will inform her self care if she sticks with and applies the practice.

I call EVOL offerings self care “practice” because that’s all we can expect ourselves to do—try it. Each time we bring awareness to our mental state, we can interface with the factors that might be influencing our experience. An understanding of our unique astrology within the larger cosmos can help us understand where thoughts are coming from. When the inner landscape, mental health, is more understood, movement toward peace, ease, and acceptance is greater. We learn to EVOLve through reflection applied to a self care practice.
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NOTE: Seek out a mental health professional when necessary. Changing your subjective experience isn’t always as straightforward as the example in this post. There’s no shame in getting help. Self care supports movement toward wellness, but no one does self care alone, and anyone can benefit from mental health care.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Listening and Broadcasting Online

An Instagram challenge lead to a lunar-cycle-long practice of listening in the outside world. The messages brought lessons about the interconnectedness of things.

When Sabrina Monarch (Monarch Astrology) and Cici Cyr (Abundant LA) invited their Instagram followers to an Instagram challenge, I went all in! The energies that shaped the time period of the lunar cycle (March 4 to April 6) were the following: a new moon in Pisces (the goddess) and the entry of Uranus (the electrifier, the shock, the Internet) into Taurus (the material embodiment and all things sense-sual). The purpose of the #uranusintaurus challenge was to explore these energies and allow for insights into how they (the energies) affected us individually. The task aka the way to receive downloads was to connect to go outside, listen, and share the experience on Instagram. Here’s what that looked like for me.

There were two significant features that shaped my experience: I was in California when the challenge started, and I would be in New York (aka home) when it ended. A variety of environments, including not-home and home turf, would give me a range of messages, right? I was participating in some Christian rituals, since Ash Wednesday happened during this time, too (on Wednesday, April 6). I’ve found connection with my ancestral women through religion, so looping in the rites of the liturgical season added a layer to the reflection.

Ash Wednesday harkens an entry to silence—silence through which we listen to the divine. I was in Los Angeles that morning, and I took a walk in the rain—no umbrella or poncho—and let the wetness melt into my body. I like this pic, which I used in the challenge, because you can see the drops. When I received ashes (from an Episcopalian priest who was also outside, standing under a small portico of the boat house in Echo Park, where I was staying + where I went for my walk), I thought “star dust to Earth dust” as he recited “dust to dust”—and the rain spread that down my forehead and into my face. Immediately, I became aware of the infinitesimally small space I occupy as a human in a vast cosmos. The greatness of a natural order that is beyond me, supersedes me, forces me to remember that I am given the gift of existence. I felt my ancestral women within me at that moment, too, many of them in spirit, whose bodies were buried in the ground, who no longer felt the pleasure of rain on skin. The divine was present within my thoughts as the cycle of life and death brought a mood of humility. I am not just mind (that needs to process and makes sense of the transmissions). I am spirit (that understands the greater web of being intuitively); body is here to house my human experience, the reason I am here. I find myself thinking that the Internet, an ethereal body, connects me to community, individuals, out there in the world and embedded, enmeshed, intertwined in a network of fibers in a digital fabric. I imagine hyperspace as a quiet place, too, as bits of information that turnover and transmit silently.

By the time the challenge had come to the end of the cycle, I had arrived in New York.

#uranusintauruschallenge: home dirt! This is a walk on our go-to trail near Onteora Lake, New York in the Hudson Valley. The trail winds through a bluestone forest between Kingston and Woodstock. It’s also one of those places for me that, upon entry, I get lost in time. 2hrs here feels like days and seconds. I have a lot to organize and arrange rn, but I prioritized this session in the woods today. … I communicated with the trees—the same trees that listened to my pre-roadtrip desires … I said hello to the pieces of trees still stuck in early spring slush. I said hello to the moss and rocks. But each time I did, I felt like I was saying hello for the first time, like these beings were new to me and they didn’t recognize me. …

And then I realized that I had said hello to the physical things for the very first time that afternoon. I had walked the trail many times before, but I never walked in co-existence with the sentience of all forms: the trees, the moss, the rocks. I had been to that place (Onteora Lake) before my trip west, and I returned feeling like I was not recognized among the physical things there; but I felt at home with the community of people online who were also exploring the effects of the astrological transits. I’ve spent a while considering what this all means (and, what I would like it to mean for me), and I find myself coming back to the idea of my ancestral women—how humbling it is to know that bodies that once walked the Earth are now inside it, spirits going back from whence they came and bones and skin breaking down. Star dust to Earth dust. It is an odd thought to think that long after I am gone, these words will hang in hyperspace for anyone or no one to read them. It is an even stranger one to know that as I say hello to the Earth and all her beings, I say hello too to the ones who are inside me. Shared rituals (old and new, Lent and Instagram challenges alike) renew the connections. I attribute the disorienting sensation of time (-lessness, -distortion) in the woods to stepping out of a body that I had long inhabited—one of words, language, and communication with other human bodies—and out into a world beyond those bounds. And: home is everywhere through the physical body, spiritual body, and communication body. The transmissions are out there; you just have to know to listen.

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