And all you wanted was a good ghost story…

imagesMy new novel will be ‘postmodern Gothic’.

Thus I must understand the nature of the beast.

Terror has been central to Gothic literature since it first emerged in the 18th century.  Although the goal of Gothic remains unchanged – to  give voice to societal fears and desires – the goal posts have shifted.

Instead of fearing loss of meaning as did our forefathers, post-moderns fear loss of connection with self and reality. Makes perfect sense in today’s world where entertainment, information, and communication technologies provide experiences more intense – and gratifying – than RL.

In the old days, terror was generated through encounters with various aspects of the supernatural with emphasis on the duality between good and evil. This was achieved through elements of the ‘sublime’  –  that quality in nature which inspires awe, reverence, and other high emotion (OED, noun. 1. b). Hence the emphasis on turbulent landscapes, sinister forests and darkening skies.

Postmodern gothic also centres on the sublime – but no longer is the emphasis on the representable characteristics of nature such as landscapes, forests and skies, but on that which we can conceive- but cannot represent.

Strange enough, herein lies the connection between the 18th century preoccupation with meaninglessness and the 21st century preoccupation with loss of connection with self and reality; regardless whether represented or not, the sublime bridges the boundaries between the visible and invisible.

We establish boundaries through cosmologies or systems of thought through which to order our world. The sublime requires a certain type of cosmology – a psychologically spatial orientation of that which is ‘me’ and that which is ‘other than me’. It is through the shift between the microcosm and macrocosm and back again that we enlarge our perspective and transcend the boundaries of our cosmology.

The unthinkable happens.

 Thought is paralysed.

 Through circumscribing the Idea by image, the Idea is negated.

We comprehend that which lies beyond the borders of our cosmology as ineffable – or perhaps even as God?

In The Idea of the Holy, Rudolph Otto reminds us that fear, shock, and panic are all reactions attributed to experiencing traditional gods like that worshipped in Christianity – attributes like ‘goodness’ and ‘benevolence’ being idealist after-the-fact add-ons.

But according the psychologist James Hillman (An Essay on Pan), more primitive gods – like the great god Pan – seize us not in words but in immediate psychic shock. According to Hillman, in order to grasp Pan as nature we must first be grasped by nature.

So where does this leave us with the postmodern Gothic?

Full circle to 18th century concepts of Gothic and the sublime as an aspect of nature – but – according to my new heroine, Harriet, this time around the stakes are much higher.

Harriet's new home in SN_001

Astro-dynamics of My Knight in Shining Armour

In yet another characterisation exercise for my new memoir, I’m digging into the astro-personality of my husband, JWM.  He plays the knight in shining armour who rescues me from the Wicked Witch of A ‘dam.  

Although he won’t admit it, JWM’s father is a huge influence in his life.  This makes the nature of the bond between them even more important because it operates unconsciously.

The key astrological configurations in  father/son relationships are (1) Saturn (discipline and control), (2) the Sun (validation of Self) and (3) Mars (survival instinct).  The concepts here are clash, struggle, opposition, fear, defeat, and betrayal.

In myth, Saturn and Mars are mortal enemies.  Yet they absolutely need each other.  It’s interesting that Saturn functions not only as the father figure in a young man’s life but also as the unavoidable aging process that eventually brings the young buck to his knees.

But back to the Wicked Witch of A ‘dam.  JWM was a young man then.   He had not yet undergone his Saturn return during which he would gain his sense of perspective.

JWM’s Saturn (structure/perfection) in Aries (sense of omnipotence) sits on his father’s Sun/Uranus  (break w/ tradition) in Aries; JWM never stops judging his father.  His father doesn’t know how to react.  Their interactions take on a decidedly defensive tone.   The young ram must butt against something if he’s to make any progress at all.

A young man’s sense of direction must come from his notion  of the ‘father figure’.  Because his Sun is in Aquarius, JWM needs his father to be a visionary who accomplishes nothing less than transforming the free world.  Whether his father achieved this isn’t the point.  The point is that with JWM’s Sun square Mars/Neptune conjunction (dissociation from action), he needs to see his father that way.

So not surprisingly, when I first met JWM in A ‘dam he was an unfocused drifter.    His father had failed to unleash JWM’s Mars energy  (there’s no synastry there).   But I did.*

According to Liz Greene, the energy of Neptune/Mars often manifests through romantic heroism.   That’s just what it did.  Enter my knight in shining armour whose Neptune/Mars in Scorpio formed a perfect trine with the Mars (Cancer) of Alieke, the Wicked Witch of A ‘dam.

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* My Uranus (liberation) in Cancer (nurturing) trines JWM’s Neptune/Mars in Scorpio (passion).

A Myth for Leo – ‘Whom does the Grail Serve’?

The Grail King is ailing.  Perceval, filled with a sense of his destiny, sets out to save the day.

Yet he fails – big-time.

Is this because he lacks the compassion and understanding to achieve his goal – or rather – because of pride – he lacks the clarity to correctly perceive his goal?

Either way, what starts as a vainglorious quest, ends in a long, hard road to self-understanding.

Similarly, Leo may start life with what he believes is a clear vision of his potential.

But dissappointment is inevitable when his noble aspirations come to naught.  It’s almost as if from birth he ‘knows’ his personal destiny – only to ‘botch’ it when he tries to put it in place.  In other words, the fate of Leo is to  experience – through personal failure – the ‘woundedness’ of all mankind.

After many years, Perceval finally acquires the maturity and wisdom to ask the right question – ‘who does the Grail serve’?  By realistically confronting his failures, Leo too might learn that the Grail serves those who are transformed in its pursuit.

__________________

Keywords for Leo – King, Individuality, Proud, Self-Centred, Generous to a fault

A Myth for Gemini – coming to grips with the good and the bad twin

Romulus and Remus are the twin sons of the war god Ares.

Remus is the good brother because he does acceptable things.  Romulus is the bad brother because he doesn’t.

Together, Romulus and Remus accomplish many great things including founding the city of Rome.  But they quarrelled constantly about who should be in charge.  One day Remus kills Romulus in self-defence.

Such is the fate of Gemini.  He is always juggling himself and and his shadow.  He needs to learn that like Romulus and Remus, they are t flips sides of the same coin.

Psychology tells us we each have a shadow, wherein all things dark and unacceptable about us resides.

But this is doubly important for Gemini.   Reconciliation of his dark and light sides is his life’s work.  As the story of Romulus and Remus informs us, two heads are better than one.  Go for it Gemini – you can be both good and bad at the same time.

Astrological oppositions & the Gateway to the Garden of Eden

What I’m going to do is split every single one of them into two halves (regarding Zeus’ solution to the overambitious human androgynies, Plato, Symposium)

Astrological oppositions are dynamic.   They pull us off balance to catch our attention.  They force growth.  They require psychological projection, conflict & challenge, confrontation, and finally (hopefully) compromise.  Apparently there is no way to avoid oppositions.  Like castor oil, they are good for us – like them or not.

Oppositions divide the circle of unity by two.  God created man in his own image; the God-image lodged in a creature of earth is both a (1) union of oppositions (matter and spirit), and (2) disunion with the divine. [1] In Judeo-Christian traditions Eve and the snake get the blame for this because the tree of knowledge gave awareness of dichotomy (i.e. good & evil – life & death).  Paradoxically, this awareness is what signals our birth of consciousness into earthly existence.  We are no longer at one with God.

Although dichotomies, dyads, and duality are central to every aspect of life, they have a bad reputation.  Polarization, splitting, and blame are popular remedies.  It’s as if we must go completely off balance and experience the extremes before heading for middle ground.  Have a look at the newspapers; this certainly seems to be the case.

Alternatively, as a solution I suggest détente; I envision this as a Mercury/Venus function.[2] Mercury facilitates intercourse between the opposing parties like a shaman realigning the relationship between body and spirit.  It is interesting that Alice Bailey considered Mercury  – not Mars – to be the esoteric ruler of Aries (the sign of ‘action’).  One might then suggest that ‘thought’ is the basis of ‘action’ and should precede it – not the other way around.    While Mercury does his realignment thing, Venus diplomatically smoothes ruffled relations long enough for each to get in touch with his own values and make choices accordingly.

Many religions focus on the reunification of the ‘two’ with the ‘one’.  My Judeo-Christian legacy bequeathed me a jealous and angry God who is, himself, split between the halos of heaven and the eternal fires of hell.  Perhaps it is through a positive attitude (Mercury – the alchemist) and a between relationship with the ‘tree of knowledge’ (Venus – living with our choices) that we can find our way back to ‘The Garden’.


[1] Edward, F. Edinger, The Bible and the Psyche, Individuation Symbolism in the Old Testament, Inner City Books, Toronto, (1986), p. 21.

[2] The key to détente (a phrase coined during 1965-1972 as a solution to the US/USSR Cold War/ Arms Race) may be demonstrated by Henry Kissinger (who was heavily associated with the concept).  He has a heavy Venus/Mercury influence (Gemini/Libra) and Chiron in Aries opposite Saturn/ Moon in Libra that runs across his 3rd/9th houses.  He also has Sun/Mercury (conjunct) in Gemini in the 10th house.

NOTE – artwork borrowed from http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/ToeTagJaneDoe/tag/jakebaddeley-paintings/

  • Libra (earthpages.wordpress.com)

In the Image of The Father

Yes, with all my heart I am my Father’s child.[1]

Athena was formed in the image of the Father; she was not borne by a woman but sprang fully grown from Zeus’ head.

This is why Athena is the only goddess to have personified ‘reason’ – traditionally the privileged enclave of men.

It is through reason that Athena conquered the traditionally female emotions (such as rage, jealousy, and fear) that hold the rest of us back in civilised society.   She wore the head of Medusa on her on her breastplate to symbolise her civilising achievement.   By looking to Father for direction, we women in civilised societies are encouraged to do the same.

The Father image we women internalise comes as much from society as from our personal Dads.  While Dad may be supportive of his daughter, western society’s Father is not.  I suggest that we women are successful – not because of Father – but in spite of (or in reaction to) him.  Recall that Athena’s glorious birth resulted from Father’s fear of competition.

Flip through any history book and it will become clear  that Western men have purposefully perpetuated the myth of female irrationality and inferiority.  For our own good, our feminine intellect has been protected form the ‘burdens’ of education and rational thinking.

The daughters of educated men have always done their thinking from hand to mouth; not under green lamps at study tables in the cloisters of secluded colleges. (Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas)

Western men are seriously threatened by rational, intelligent, and well-educated women.   As Medusa, we are conquerable; as Athena, we are not.   Some women wish to be conquered by men; others do not.

The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself. (Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own).

Preservation of male supremacy spawns little interest for daughters to be formed in Fathers own image.  In fact the reverse is true.

Women have served all these centuries as looking –glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.  (Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own).

So when deciding whether like Athena, we as women wish to be formed in the image of the Father, I suggest we first take a good hard look at what that image really represents.


[1] Athena’s comment taken from a translation of The Eumenides by Robert Fagles, The Oresteia, Penguin Books, 1977 (736-40).

Existentialists & Freedom of Choice – The Great Aquarian Myth


There isn’t an immediately obvious connection between Aquarius and existentialism, but please – hear me out.

Ruled by the opposing forces of Saturn (status quo) and Uranus (breaking new ground), Aquarians are  faced with impossible choices like those highlighted in the myth of Prometheus.

Prometheus was an altruistic demigod with the gift of foresight.  Seeing primitive man unable to keep warm or cook his meat, Prometheus  had a choice;  either (1) accept the great god Zeus’ refusal to share holy fire with mankind or (2) take action against the status quo.  He ‘chose’ the second.   For his efforts, he was chained to a cliff where an eagle picked out his liver anew.

According to Richard Tarnas, the archetypal complex of Saturn-Uranus  expresses itself through polarities. [1] Never are these tensions more manifest than when Saturn and Uranus are involved.

Thus it’s not surprising then that Saturn-Uranus can result with the phenomena of ‘choice angst’, which was dubbed by Maureen Dowd (herself born with Saturn square Uranus) in her 2009 New York Times article “Blue is the New Black”, as “the modern disease”.

According to Dowd, too much freedom of choice is inherently stressful. Existentialists would agree. Understandably then, given the tensions between Saturn and Uranus, it’s on the horizon of the Age of Aquarius that choice angst is on the rise.  Further, because Aquarius’s role is naturally that of an unappreciated visionary, then like the existentialist (who emphasizes freedom of choice and personal responsibility in a hostile world), Aquarius feels the odd man out.

Even worse.  Although both existentialists and Aquarius (Prometheus) seemingly have choices in reality they don’t.

This is because in order to be true to his nature and purpose, (and to do otherwise is for existentialists the ultimate bad faith) Aquarius must shatter the status quo (Saturn) and break new ground Uranus).   In other words, Uranus always wins out where Saturn is involved.

It is for this reason that I suggest that real freedom of choice in the Age of Aquarius is the great Aquarian Myth.


ENDNOTE

[1] World Transits 2000-2020 – An Overview, Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, Autumn 2010. – According to Tarnas, this Aquarian interplay between Saturn and Uranus is exactly what we’re experiencing with the current polarization of American politics; conservative, reactionary parties, such as the Tea Party movement, define themselves as the force of freedom and rebellion, with a generally right-wing anti-progressive ideology (Saturn) yet consciously adopting the methods characterisation of radical protest movements and demonstrations (Uranus).  Saturn is in opposition to Uranus from 2007-2012.

Indeed, Tarnas suggests that the name ‘Tea Party’ itself reflects the interplay of Saturn and Uranus, a symbol of America’s own beginnings when the country’s eighteenth-century founding fathers (Saturn) also called for liberty and rebellion (Uranus).  Remember that Uranus (the modern ruler of Aquarius) was first discovered in 1781 at the time of the French and American revolutions.  Until that time, the astrological ruler of Aquarius was Saturn alone.

Tatterhood – a Norwegian Fairy-tale/original drama

Tatterhood (A Norwegian Fairy-tale) / original drama by Debra Moolenaar

 

Players:

Daisy (D)– the beautiful daughter

Bella Dona (BD)– the ugly daughter with her goat and wooden spoon

Queen Jessamine (QJ)– the Queen

Pansy (P) – the maid

Christmas Eve witch (CEW)

___________________________

(continued – previously, encouraged by her maid, Pansy,  Queen Jessamine ate two magic flowers and gave birth two twins – one (Daisy) is beautiful but the other one (Bella Dona – complete with her goat and wooden spoon) is ugly.  Spurred by concerns of a fall in her social standing as the result of the ‘mishap’, Queen Jessamine resolves to get rid of Bella Dona in four days time at a Christmas Eve party, which traditionally is infested with witches and trolls.)

___________________________________

ACT ONE/SCENE TWO

 

P:         Your Highness, your twins are here to consult about their gowns for this evening’s festive soiree.

QJ:       You may handle it.   I ‘m busy reading this article that says greed is good.

P:         Milady?

QJ:       I’m working on plan B.   If this article is correct, Pansy, then I’m off the hook.  Queen Thistle simply can’t hold me responsible for doing something bad if in fact it is good.

P:         I’m afraid I don’t understand.

QJ:       It’s all in the spin.  If something looks bad, then just gloss over it with something that looks good and then it is good.   We’re taught that greed comes from selfishness, right?  It stems from one’s egocentric failure to limit the boundaries of the Self.

P:         What’s the Self?

QJ:       One’s complete personality, the whole enchilada.

P:         Would you like me to order enchiladas for tonight’s festivities?

QJ:       Do they go well with chocolate covered cherries and marshmallow macaroons?

P:         I think not.

QJ:       Forget the enchiladas.  But here in the second line of the third paragraph it specifically states that greed arises not from an expanded sense of Self, but from a lack of Self.   Now everyone needs a Self, Pansy, and when I tell this to Queen Thistle, she’ll be only too happy for her son to marry both my daughters.   There’s no finer way to secure one’s Self then to have an heir and a spare.

P:         But your Highness, that’s against the law for a prince to marry two princesses at the same time.

QJ:       Drat.  You’re right.  Could I have a biscuit?  Make that two.

P:         Does this mean we’re back to plan A with the witches and trolls, milady?

QJ:       It would seem so.   I wonder if Lady Macbeth felt guilty as she plotted her crime.

P:         She was a witch, your Highness.  Witches don’t do guilt.

QJ:       Perhaps.   But I do.  So I prefer to think of Lady Macbeth not as witch, but as an anti- mother.  If truth were told, Pansy, some of us aren’t cut out for motherhood, even though it’s the only way in which we wield power.   Macbeth was prepared to exercise her power by dashing in the brains of her brat.   Apparently in those times, infanticide was all the rage.  But I’d like to be more delicate than that.

P:         What did you have in mind?

QJ:       At the soiree tonight, I want you to dress up as the Christmas Witch.   We’ll pretend that you’re there, as is traditional, to do a divination.   Then when the lights go out, you whisk Bella Dona off to a new home with foster parents across the sea.

P:         Me, a Christmas Witch, milady?  That’s not my forte.

QJ:       The alternative is murder, Pansy, and I’d like to remind you that it was you who made me eat both flowers.

P:         I’ll commence working on my witch costume immediately, your Highness.

QJ:       That’s the spirit.  OK, now open the floodgates and let my, er, umm, the twins in.

B/BD: (enter) Mama dearest.  It’s been months since we’ve been granted an audience with you.

OJ:       Don’t exaggerate.  You’ve only been born four days.  Daisy, sit here on the floor beside me.  Bella Dona, you and your goat sit over by the bookcase and don’t let him eat Daddy’s first editions.  Now girls, what are you wearing this evening?

BD:      We are wearing matching gowns of daffodil watered silk with ivory lace collars and mother of pearl buttons.

QJ:       You may not wear matching gowns.  Come up with something else.

BD:      But Mama, twins must dress alike.  We’re a symbol of wholeness.

QJ:       Where did you hear that?

BD:      In your CG Jung book.

QJ:       Was that your father’s idea to have you read that?

BD:      Yes, Mama.

QJ:       That man has taken leave of his senses.   Children should not read books.  It puts ideas into their heads.  Now listen, the both of you.  You are not to wear similar gowns tonight.  I repeat, not.  I want Daisy to wear a white dress, and I want Bella Dona dressed completely in black, as it suits her, her, um, complexion.   Any questions?

BD/D: No Mama.

QJ:       Good.  Now I’ve got to go supervise preparation for the celebration (exits).

P:         I suggest you do as your mother says (exits).

BD:      I smell a rat.

D:        What kind of rat, sister dear?

BD:      A mama rat.

D:        Mama can’t be that ratty if she wants me to wear white.   White is the symbol of purity and faith, the perfection of the feminine, the source of all life.   I like that.

BD:      And she wants me to wear black.   Black is the symbol of treachery and sorrow, a step closer to death.  Do you like that too?

D:        No.

BD.      Look, the point is even though black and white are flip sides of the same coin, which would you rather be, sister?

D:        I see what you mean.  But at least you don’t have to marry Queen Thistle’s fat, ugly son.  I overheard Mama tell Pansy in the rose garden that I was the chosen one, and that’s something I could do without.

BD:      Did you also happen to overhear Mama’s plans for me?

D:        I don’t think there were any.

BD:      Exactly.  Look here, Daisy.  You know the old nursery rhyme – “On Christmas Eve, heads will roll of those foolish enough to make merry with witches and trolls”.

D:        I have heard it.

BD:      So why would Mama choose to have a party on Christmas Eve when it’s so dangerous to do so?

D”:       She likes parties?

BD:      I’ll tell you.  Our mother has hired a hit woman dressed as a witch to murder me at the party tonight.  That’s why she doesn’t want us to wear identical clothes.  The witch must know in advance how to tell us apart.

D:        Our mother would do that?

BD:      You have to ask?

D:        I guess not.   And if you were dead, then I’d have to take care of your goat and we’re not exactly best friends.

BD:      That’s because he represents your sexuality and you don’t have a good relationship yet with that.

D:        What’s sexuality?

BD:      You’ll figure that out yourself.  But now back to my plan for the party tonight.  You must wear black and I must wear white.  The confusion will put Mama’s plans into a tailspin.

D:        But Mama was right that black goes better with your complexion.

BD:      I’m not worried about that.

D:        But if I wear what Mama told you to wear, does that mean I’ll be murdered instead of you?

BD:      What if it did?

D:        I don’t know.

BD:      Then let’s make certain that doesn’t happen.   We’re inseparable, Daisy, like two peas in a pod.  Let’s stay that way, deal?

D:        Deal.

BD:      Now if Mama has tricks up her sleeve with witches and trolls, goat darling has a few tricks too.   Believe me sister; goat’s tricks are much more clever than Mama’s.

D:        So what do we do?

BD:      Tonight, when the lights go out and the tensions rise, together, we jump onto goat’s back and ride away.

D:        To where will be we riding?

BD:      That’s a surprise.

D:        You mean you don’t know?

BD:      No, not really but are you still game?

D:        You bet.

___________________

(to be continued)

 

Saturn/ A Myth for Capricorns

Like the author and lecturer Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myths), I’m a firm proponent that myths express archetypal motifs that play a huge role in human experience.

Further, because I believe that we are in large part unconscious of the power myths exert in our lives, I advocate making a special effort to understand those myths most personal to each of us.

An easy way to do this is to examine the myths closely related with our astrological sun sign.

If, as psychological astrologers believe, our natal chart reflects the whole of our ‘life journey’, then our astrological sun is the beacon that keeps us on the right path.  Our astrological sun is a source of great vitality (perhaps even spiritual in nature) into which we can plug as needed.   We have a sense of ‘Self’ when we are ‘doing’ our Sun.  When we are ‘doing’ our Sun, we feel good about ourselves and our world.

For those of you with the sun sign in Capricorn, know that the steely god Saturn (or Chronos) is your astrological ruler.  Here’s a myth of Greek origin about Saturn just for you.

Uranus, the King of the Gods, swallows his children at birth to ensure he is not overthrown by them (as prophesised).   Understandably, Uranus’ wife Gaia is not pleased with his behaviour, so she helps their son Chronos (Saturn) castrate Uranus and usurp his throne.

Chronos, like his father, swallows his own children and is eventually overthrown by his son Zeus (Jupiter).

The old king must die so the new king can be born.

Capricorn’s job is to buck the ‘system’ in order to earn a place of respect for himself in the new order.  Capricorns’ lot is one of fear, frustration, and mastery.  Indeed it is by pushing against obstacles, that Capricorn builds the endurance and discipline to succeed.  Reward comes from hard work and it is only with effort the Capricorn takes his position as the new king.

Capricorn is asked to make the right of passage from the son to the father.