Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on PLUTO in TRANSIT

I shall blame this post on the fact that transiting Pluto is currently sitting smack dab on my natal Mercury in Capricorn. I knew, from previous experience when transiting Pluto sat on my natal Venus in Sagittarius some 15 or so years ago, that I'd be experiencing something out of the ordinary, and transformative. Back then I was, eventually, catapulted from the UK to the USA - how transformative was that!?

As passing readers might recall from recent posts, yes, something out of the ordinary has happened - again with Pluto again conjunct a personal planet. A diagnosis of breast cancer. Thankfully the discovery was early, via mammogram, and dealt with by a quick surgery procedure (lumpectomy). There had been no spread to lymph nodes and margins. That experience was plenty scary and, to a point, transformative too! These words from astrologer Jan Spiller's brief piece on Pluto hits home:

The goal of PLUTO : to experience total self-mastery and fearlessness in any situation. This can only happen when you accept the process of passing through your personal terror for the sake of Right Action.

From a piece at Kepler College website:
In modern parlance it is common for people to look at important changes – relationship or marital status, professional change or moving, even starting a yoga class on Tuesday nights, as “transformative.” However, these changes seem more part of normal life and normal adult development and they usually occur within other defined structures; they are therefore more like “first order change” – there is alteration but the organism or individual, maintains its continuity. This is not the kind of change to consider when we describe astrology’s Pluto.

The word “transformation” is defined as a change in form, shape, or appearance. Its Greek equivalent is “metamorphosis” and, we know from Ovid’s famous poem of the same name, metamorphosis not always an improvement. Positive transformation is rare in our lives.

Most transformations or metamorphoses are kindled from life-shattering events: Near Death Experiences, visitations from angels or aliens, warfare, imprisonment or becoming a victim of a violent crime, natural disasters, grave economic collapse, life-threatening illness or disability, or when one loses loved ones and home, like when the tidal wave and nuclear disaster happened in Japan or when Hurricane Katrina hit..... Here we encounter life’s essential fragility, sometimes the impinging presence of evil, including that which is within us. These are involuntary changes that are more like “fate”.

From an excellent piece Doing Pluto by astrologer Eric Francis, of Planet Waves
Mythology and astronomy cast Pluto as the lord of Hell, but astrology tells another story. No astrologer, it is safe to say, underestimates Pluto or takes him for granted, or none does so for long. Largely thanks to the work of Jeffrey Green and his spiritual mentor, Yogananda, we recognize Pluto as the evolutionary engine in the astrological chart. While society may twist and crumble, and while emperors may rise in power, on the inner level, Pluto is the ultimate influence we cannot deny. Anyone who has consciously gone through a Pluto transit have seen and this at work: Pluto is the uncompromising force for change, the catalyst for growth, and the slowly moving point of no return. Once Pluto has been through our lives, and it does not happen often, nothing is quite the same.

Scrolling down further:

Unforgettable Fires

When Pluto makes contact with degrees where it or other planets were when we were born, we get a phase of direct experience, called a transit. It is simple to pick these times out of the ephemeris and the most hardened skeptic would agree that something was up. At such times, we have always reached a limit.

The limitation Pluto imposes has less to do with adhering to outer structure, expectations, or following a programmed sense of inner responsibility (like Saturn), but rather imposing the necessity to follow one's evolutionary path. This is to say, under Pluto's guidance, we are compelled to respond to the necessities of our soul's journey. To do this, we are presented with circumstances that teach us we indeed have a soul, and that it actually has a mission. However you may feel, these ideas turn out to be beyond the grasp of most people, who simply wonder why they are in pain and don't get what we now call the lesson. For this reason, we can get a sense of why the world so often feels like it is devoid of soul energy, of the expression of meaningful inner truth. And we can see why so many people require incredibly painful experiences in order to grow or wake up.

Speaking of waking up, Pluto deals with the subject of sex on the hormonal, orgasmic and control-based levels, the ones we usually prefer to ignore, or to ignore the power of. These issues will come up as real-life circumstances; we get to choose how we handle them.

There's plenty of advice around the net on "surviving Pluto transits". While these are well-meaning, and no doubt can prove helpful to some readers, I avoided them. The first time I even considered searching for pieces on the topic was in preparing this post. I was aware of the Pluto transit to a personal planet of mine, that was all I needed to know. I find other peoples' experiences and other astrologers' ideas on coping to be less helpful than just doing what comes naturally to me, myself and I - hoping that'll be enough!

I am not going to obsess about the remaining time Pluto will be around my chart, nor will I think too far ahead to the time Pluto will visit natal Sun. It's quite likely, anyway, that by then, there will have been the call: "Come in Twilight - your time is up!"

Astrology is a fascinating and useful tool, but at times like this it feels more comfortable, to me, to put my chart on the top shelf, out of my direct line of daily vision.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ A.A. Milne, E.H. Shepard, Christopher R. & Winnie the P.

Watching a DVD of the 2017 biographical drama film "Goodbye Christopher Robin" this week reminded me that here was another of those magical collaborations we encounter from time to time, partnerships which bring forth something that becomes almost legendary. I've mentioned a few such partnerships in past the top of my head: Billie Holiday and Lester Young, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. Author A.A. Milne and artist E. H. Shepard make up another such pair. In this case though, sadly, it is said that neither man was too happy about the success of their collaboration, because it overshadowed their other work. Milne's famous son Christopher Robin was also unhappy about his involvement. That does seem a tad ...erm... ungrateful all round, doesn't it? Perhaps, from their point of view, their lives were taken over in ways they had neither planned nor foreseen - they were all taken in directions they would rather not have pursued. Still, millions of children and adults have reason to be grateful for what emerged.

This set of first editions is priced $16,500

The film, by the way is well worth a look.

My 2009 archived post on A.A. Milne is HERE. I'm curious to see A.A. Milne's natal chart against that of E.H. Shepard. Both charts are set for 12 noon as birth times are unknown. Click on chart image for larger version.

A.A. Milne born in London, England on 18 January 1882.

Milne's is a very Earthy natal chart: Sun, Moon and Venus in Capricorn. Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter and Pluto in Taurus. Uranus in Virgo. Air enough to crank up his writing skills came from Mercury in Aquarius and Mars in Gemini. A Grand Trine in Earth links Uranus to Neptune & Jupiter to Venus, perhaps to Moon also. Moon's position isn't exact as shown, due to lack of a birth time.

Shepard's chart isn't as Earthy, his Sun and Mercury are in Fiery Sagittarius, but there's still emphasis on Taurus from Neptune and Pluto, with Mars there too. Uranus is in Virgo in both charts, so the pair shared an Earthy generational tone, along with millions of others.

Both men had served in World War I, they suffered from memories of the horrors they had experienced. I'm tempted to connect their ease of collaboration to Chiron (the mythological Wounded Healer) in Taurus, sign ruled by Venus, planet of the arts. Chiron is conjunct Jupiter and Neptune in Milne's chart; conjunct Neptune and Mars in Shepard's. Their writing and drawing collaboration could well have afforded a means of healing their mental wounds.

E.H. Shepard born in London, England on 10 December 1879.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bicycle Day

Filed under "Trivia":

Today, 19 April, is Bicycle Day - as Sir Michael Caine would say, "Not a lot of people know that!"

"Bicycle Day does not, as one might expect, celebrate the ubiquitous two-wheeled mode of transport, beloved of city- and country- dwellers alike the world over. Rather, it celebrates a particular historical event that involves a trip on a bicycle.

‘Trip’ is the operative word here, as Bicycle Day commemorates the first time Dr. Albert Hofmann intentionally took Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) having accidentally discovered it three days previously. Following the deliberate 250mcg dose he started to feel a little odd, so decided to ride his bicycle home. What happened on that trip would lead to LSD becoming a very popular recreational drug – not without its problems though, which is why taking LSD is not a recommended way to celebrate Bicycle Day.

Instead, why not read Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest while listening to ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’? Trippy, but perfectly safe."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

USA in the 1950s

A soupçon of synchronicity was experienced at the weekend. On Saturday I was led, via a link at naked capitalism, to some photographs:
20+ Rarely Seen Photos Of America In The 1950’s Show How Different Life Was Before

Monika Brazaitytė wrote:
"The 1950’s are often viewed as a golden era in U.S. history, a time of happiness and prosperity, despite the threat of nuclear annihilation, racial segregation and the looming Cold War.

While most photos from the time are in black and white, color photography was still a relative novelty at the time and the film was quite expensive for regular people, the photos below are in glorious color. This means that they are more relatable, and makes the period feel closer to us than ever.

Many of the photos were collected by Denis Fraevich, a New Yorker of Russian descent who loves to bring the era back to life. “The pictures were found at auctions, flea markets and yards, digitized and posted on the Internet,” he told Bored Panda........"

An interesting collection of photos!

Later the same day we decided to rent a handful of DVDs for weekend viewing. One of my choices, watched the same evening, was picked purely due to director and cast members: Suburbicon. The movie, directed by George Clooney, was originally a Coen Brothers vehicle from the 1980s, but was shelved until Clooney came along, re-wrote parts of it and took over direction. Matt Damon and Julianne Moore have starring roles. How bad could this be?

It was, in fact, pretty bad! Synchronicity? Well the story is set in much the same era as depicted by those photographs I'd looked at just hours before. In fact it was almost as though some of those photographs were coming to life before my eyes.

Suburbicon is a mess of a movie, although it did hold our interest. The storyline didn't go where we initially thought it was going, there were continual deviations along with a fumbled attempt to weave two separate themes together.

The ultimate message, for viewers who managed to stay with the film to the end, was that back in the 1950s, racial hatred in the USA was so intense that it could blind the seriously prejudiced to such an extent that pure evil, going on right under their noses, was able to pass, almost without notice.

After watching Suburbicon, those photographs mentioned at the top of the post didn't seem at all "Golden Age-ish". The 1950s, in the USA anyway, had distinctly creepy underpinnings!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Music Monday ~ "Pickin' up good vibrations"

We accompanied husband's daughter and son-in-law to see a Beach Boys tribute band perform on Friday evening - Woodie and the Long Boards. The concert was housed in an event/ballroom area rather than the usual theatre setting. Dance enthusiasts were able to enjoy their nostalgia both mentally and physically.

Unsurprisingly, dancers were mostly "of a certain age", but quite adept at swingin' those hips and doing all the cool gestures and....well...whatever. You can probably tell from this that I'm not, and never have been, much of a dancer myself. A bit of square dancing and the odd shuffle to a last waltz has been my lifetime limit. My brain might co-ordinate with my fingers for writing or typing purposes, but it refuses to co-ordinate with my feet for dancing purposes. Anyway...

I realised fairly quickly that The Beach Boys must have written many more songs than I'd ever realised. My knowledge extends to what was played by BBC disc jockeys, back in England in the 1960s and 70s, and later by older disc jockeys suffering from chronic nostalgia.

Good Vibrations is Beach Boys' gold standard, Gold Only Knows, Barbara Ann; my own favourite, not written by the band, but a traditional song of the Bahamas Sloop John B, and all their other hits were played, along with some more obscure to all but dyed in the wool Beach Boy fans.

Glancing at the lyrics of Fun, Fun, Fun this morning I realised why, in spite of their great, well-polished sound, The Beach Boys never managed to outshine The Beatles in the UK (for some, they didn't mange to do so even in the USA) :

Well she got her daddy's car and she cruised through the hamburger stand, now
Seems she forgot all about the library like she told her old man, now
But with the radio blasting goes cruising just as fast as she can now
And she'll have fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the T-bird away
(fun, fun, fun, 'till her daddy takes the T-bird away)

In the UK, back then, we didn't have T-birds for daddy to take away. We were lucky if we had a bike on which to ride to the railway station to catch a train to school, or to work. We couldn't relate, nor I feel sure could some of the poorer families in the USA at that time. We understood Beatles' lyrics, though, we'd lived'em!

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Made my way upstairs and had a smoke
And everybody spoke and I went into a dream...

I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
I'd love to turn you on......

This is not to say that I was a great Beatles' fan back then, but with this amount of hindsight I can see that while The Beach Boys offered the feel of a privileged and slightly exotic lifestyle, The Beatles, for us were like a familiar plate of fish and chips, with just the right amount of salt and vinegar added.

Woodie and the Long Boards entertained the crowd on Friday evening, in spite of a rather dodgy sound system. It was good to hear lots of foot-tappingly familiar music, and to watch some of our near-contemporaries shakin' their thang on the dance floor.

The real thang for Music Monday:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts on Communicating Massively

There are still a few of us around who are able to recall life before computers, and therefore before the internet. Heck - I can even remember life before television! Mass communication, in those days, came via newspapers and radio, and to a lesser extent via film and newsreels at the cinema. First time I saw a TV working was for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. A few neighbours, my parents, grandparents and I piled into the home of a local business woman who had the only set in the village where my grandparents lived.

I do remember when the very first mention of computers reached my delicate ears, in 1966/7. I'd been working for a few months for a local Devonshire (south-west England) 'bus company in the accounts office. One of the senior employees had been sent on a training course, on his return he regaled us with tales of the binary system leaving our brains limp and imaginations reeling. All we had to work with in those days were very basic mechanical adding machines, one step up from the abacus. Having, out of necessity, trained my non-mathematical brain to add long columns of figures in hotel ledgers during the few years previous, I often opted to "do it in my head" rather than tackle the awkward adding machine.

None of us could have possibly envisaged the amazing developments we've seen during ensuing decades. Online banking, shopping, social networking, the dreaded Facebook, smartphones, ipads..... spam, porn sites, viruses, malware, Twitter - the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. I am well aware that my own life turned in a very unexpected direction, all due to the internet, for it was through the net that husband and I met.

There's a downside to these developments and changes though, there's always a downside.

Television should be the last mass communication medium to be naively designed and put into the world without a surgeon-general's warning.
Alan Kay

Over roughly the same time span: from TV sets becoming commonplace, followed rapidly by computer development, up to the present, corporate power has risen in tandem. Now multinational corporations own media, at least they do in the USA and have tentacles worldwide. TV has become a major arm of the corporations' mass brain-washing system. Oh, they'd been doing it before TV, but the opening up of mass communication made it so much easier! As more time has passed evidence has continued to emerge that we are under constant surveillance. Recent developments relating to Facebook's gathering of personal information is disquieting to say the least. Perhaps nobody senses danger if all the stolen information is used simply to target a few adverts for shoes, bandages, bras, toasters - whatever it was we were searching for online last. But the feeling that there could be other, darker, uses for the information gathered is not a happy one. Facebook is currently at the centre of discussions on this front, but Google and others are also quietly gathering our personal data, and have been doing so for years.

The solution? For ordinary souls such as I, and passing readers who do not wish to divest ourselves completely of access to television, computer and internet, all we can do is be aware of the potential "weaponry" in our living rooms, remain vigilant, never forgetting possible sub-text, and remember to keep in mind, always, this question: who is "paying the piper"?

When discussing this topic, several years ago, and before Facebook became the monster it now is, a friend observed that as we become increasingly under cyber influences, man-made (or manipulated), the structure of the human psyche will probably transform - over time. Sensibilities will increase and entirely new avenues might open up. Aquarian Age stuff to come?

My view: humans will, almost certainly, evolve psychologically due to the highly technological world they've been born into. We are at the slimmest end of the science fiction wedge of that eventuality right now. It must be happening, week by week, year by year, decade by decade.

My husband's opinion:
"Follow the money!" You can tell which industry is making the most money by the number of TV spots they are running. These ads can cost as much as a million dollars a minute. Cars, pharmaceuticals, insurance, smartphones, political candidates; who’s on top tonight?

I read a piece about the rise and fall of a country once. The one thing that I remember most is that the aggressor took over mass media first. Radio, newspapers, criers to internet... mass communication is first to go. So, money has taken over our mass media. Have we been conquered?