Astrology

Be forewarned – it’s a Seven of Swords Day

The good news is the sun is still in Gemini.

Slightly less good news is that the moon and Mercury are there with it.  This is the triple whammy of mutable air.[1] Thus today and tomorrow are Seven of Swords days.

On a divinatory level, the Seven of Swords heralds a time when to achieve your goals it’s necessary to use guile, tact, diplomacy, and wit rather than the more usual strong-armed approach.  In other words, attack your problem laterally rather than head-on.

In some circles, the Seven of Swords smacks of questionable ethics – i.e. ends justify means.   In part this is true, because the intellect (represented by swords) when devoid as it is of feelings, can be very cold and manipulative indeed.

Yet when the energy of Seven of Swords is applied with a playful creativity, you might just come up with a workable solution to a problem for which previously there had been none.  Indeed, this is quite likely as seven is the number of victory; it heralds just rewards for hard work.

However to succeed with this energy you must take certain precautions.

For the Kabbalist, the secret name for the Seven of Swords is “Unstable Effort”, and indeed with all tarot ‘sevens’, you will certainly stir up some conflict.  The point is that you must be prepared to deal with this openly and honestly.  To do otherwise would be to slip into the dark side of this energy – a place you do not want to be.

But nonetheless, if on a Seven of Swords day you defend your position with conviction, courage, and clarity, you can expect to succeed in your goal.

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[1] Each of the four astrological elements (earth, air, water, and fire) presents itself in the zodiac in one of three modalities or ways of being – cardinal, fixed, and mutable.

The modalities work as follows: in cardinal mode, the energy first forms and presents itself – usually with a forthright bang.  In fixed, the energy holds steady.  It’s just what the package says – fixed – stable – unmoving as a brick wall.  In mutable the energy disintegrates and disperses – getting ready for cycle to repeat again and again.

For example, the element of fire in Aries is cardinal – bright and strong with intent, energy, and little or no control (have you ever known an Aries to stand still for long?).  In Leo (fixed fire) the energy is controlled and steady like the hearth fire, which warms us and cooks our food.  In Sagittarius (mutual fire) the energy is scattered as sparks from the fire, spiralling outwards and upwards until it melts away in the great beyond.

Astrology

Mercury in Gemini – a Gift from the Gods

Today Mercury, the planet of connections and communication, moves into its sign of ruler ship, Gemini, where it remains until the end of this month.

We may think we already know all there is to know about connections and communication – after all we’re post-modern aficionados with our iPods and iPhones and of course… there’s the internet.

But for the next fifteen days, the message of Mercury isn’t just about texting your friends where to meet up for drinks.  Instead it’s about how to make connections in a completely different realm – that of the Gods.

Long ago, a Zen master put it this way…. “(t)his floating world is but a phantasm.   It is momentary smoke.”

Mercury is represented by the second of major arcana tarot, The Magician, also known as the Creator and Trickster.   In this aspect, Mercury relates the creative principle behind duality – black and white – right and wrong.    Mercury’s truth lies beyond appearances – Mercury’s truth is that all elements and energies are one.  Air is fire, is earth, is rabbits, is pigeons, is water, is ONE!  All are whole and all are holy.

The implications of this are massive.  Once we come to grips with Mercury’s message, we no longer spend our days filled with the fear of tomorrow and the regrets of yesterday.  Instead, once we’ve integrated the message of Mercury, we are free to live in the creative moment of the ever present now.  Know that it’s only in the now that we can touch the timeless world of the Gods.

Such is the power of the human intellect and imagination – which for the next two weeks will be enormously fertile.  During this period we are instinctively attuned to what some may call miracles – those astounding instances where the inner workings of our psyches collide with actual events in the material world.

For the next two weeks, Mercury asks you to pay special attention to events that seem to happen out of the blue – perhaps an unexpected letter from a childhood friend or a job offer arrives from thin air.  Be rest assured there’s more to these coincidences than meets the eye – never, ever take them at their face value.  Mercury requires you to do whatever is needed to puzzle through them; this could take some time.  But be rest assured that something of great value rests within them; make whatever effort is required to find it.

An old alchemical maxim teaches: “(w)hat the soul imagines happens only in the mind, but what God imagines happens in reality.”

With Mercury in Gemini, the hidden truth behind the “momentary smoke” of our Zen master erupts into consciousness – giving you a treasured glimpse into of the world of the Gods.

Astrology

Saturn in Libra – Watch the Fur Fly!

Nearly 18 years of years of serious societal dysfunction will have reached its peak during the period 2010-2012.  Losses of homes, jobs, and high personal debt will have brought many relationships to their breaking point.

On 30 October 2009, Saturn (the ‘get real’ factor) entered Libra (relationships) where it will remain (except during a dip back into Virgo from April – July this year) until early October 2012.   The impact on society, families, personal relationships, and marriages will be devastating.

Get ready to watch the fur fly.

Since 2007, the divorce rate has fallen dramatically because of the economic crisis. “It is very hard to refinance right now and many people are being forced to just stay put,” says one divorce lawyer.

Expect this to continue until mid July this year when Saturn begins its 2 1/2 year transit through Libra in earnest, during which time separations, annulments and divorces will rise significantly (especially during Mars’ transit through Libra from 30 July – 14 September 2010) generating substantial economic and psychological debris.

With Saturn, the “fear” factor always plays a significant role: fear of aging, fear of change, fear of the future – all of which are bugbears of huge chunks of Western society now faced with having to “let go” of those material things in life to which they’ve given much more importance than they deserved.

Personal happiness is the foundation of happy relationships and Saturn in Libra means to teach us that rather being an entitlement, happiness is hard work.

The most important thing you can do now is to focus on those relationships in your life that feature good old common sense and a return to the core values that make human relationships enjoyable.

We all need to take positive steps to counter the negative impact of a decade of the culture of “fear”.  The best way to do this is through “downtime” for BOTH children and adults in order to re-discover personal values for yourself and your family.  In other words, take time out of life to smell the roses.

Another way to make the best of Saturn’s transit through Libra is to reduce the amount of clutter and distraction in your life.  Take time off the Internet.  Watch less television and stop being distracted by pocketfuls of electronic gadgets.  With time and space to contemplate your life experience, you’ll gain wisdom, by which I mean the knowledge, insight, and good judgment required to live a full and satisfying life.  Saturn’s lessons are those of perseverance, commitment, and delayed gratification.

Learning these lessons are key to your ability to survive in the coming years as the effects of the economic crisis continues to have maximum impact on millions seeking to recover from the economic, social, professional, and personal damage that resulted from the internal fears of the collective that being projected negatively into the material world.

Times are changing.  There’s no turning back.  Transiting Uranus opposition to Saturn (April 2011- October 2012) assures that the “new” will win out over the “old’.

Good luck in the challenging times ahead and don’t forget we’re all in this together.

Art

Today and Tomorrow are Seven of Cups Days

With the sun still in Gemini (ideas) and the moon moving to Taurus (desire), the tarot card for today and tomorrow is the Seven of Cups.

On a divinatory level, the Seven of Cups represents an emotionally charged situation where we’re overwhelmed with possibilities–faced not only with the challenge of choosing but also with acting realistically and responsibly in regards to our choice.

Unlike yesterday where the Moon was in Aries and our wildest dreams were possible, today and tomorrow we’ll discover that they weren’t and quite possibly, never will be.

For the Kabbalist, today’s energy is the equivalent of the seventh sephira, Netzach.

The world of Netzach is one of instincts and emotions – of images existing only in the mind of man – projected there by his most urgent desires.

The world of Netzach rightly belongs to the artist.  It’s in Netzach that our minds conceive of images, which are best realized through art.  This is because art is a purpose-built construction to contain – and to make sacred – the chaotic inner workings of our minds.

But we all aren’t artists.  Thus on a Seven of Cups day , rather than making sacred our innermost yearnings, we’re more likely to behave like kids in the candy shop with our eyes much bigger than our stomachs.

The best advice for a Seven of Cups day is to hold steady.  Take a good look at what it is you really want most and then think again.

The best choices are made when our hearts and heads are in balance – and this just isn’t one of those days.

Astrology

Today is an Ace of Wands Day

With the sun in Gemini (ideas) and the moon in Aries (action), the tarot card for today, 7 June 2010, is the Ace of Wands.

On a divinatory level, the Ace of Wands heralds a rush of creative energy not yet formulated into a specific goal or plan.  Instead, we feel a restlessness and dissatisfaction with present circumstances combined with the strong intuition that anything and everything is possible.

That’s exactly the problem.

For the Kabbalist, today’s energy is the equivalent of Kether (also known as Keter), where God’s self-creating aspect first enters the Tree of Life.  At this point,  by it’s very nature the creative force has no form.

It’s only with the next stage and the next and the next after that, that anything will ever come of that which inspires us today.

Yet with the energy so strong, there’s a temptation to rush out, willy nilly, to conquer the world leaving the ‘details’ to fall into place.

This is the danger of today.

One of the most important lessons the Kabbalah teaches us is that the world in which we live is a closed system; energy created can be transformed but it never goes away.

Therefore, we can either (1) take active, positive steps to the channel the energy of an Ace of Wands day into worldly success (be it a new project at our job or at home in the garden or maybe even the kitchen) or (2) let it turn sour and sit heavy in the pit of our psyche in the form of regret or failure.

Either way, today’s energy stays with us forever.

Philosophy

Making the Most of Meaningful Coincidence

JUNG & SYNCHRONICITY – Making the Most of Meaningful Coincidence

© 2007

by Debra Moolenaar

The more Barbara reflected on a 12th century saint’s words – ‘being a feather on the breath of God’ – the more real feathers she’d find.  One day while walking a labyrinth and grappling with whether to take her vows in a religious order, Barbara found a special feather, – a dark curved one with wispy white fronds.  When she picked it up, a small voice inside told her to ‘be a feather’.   Barbara left the order and moved to New Mexico, where her connection between feathers and spiritual inspiration grew ever stronger.

Although there’s no apparent cause and effect link between Barbara’s finding feathers and receiving spiritual guidance, we sense it’s more than an inconsequential coincidence.  Caught up in the meaningful collision of apparently unconnected events, we feel something otherworldly at work – the God-like hand of fate.  So what are we to make of it?

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed that certain coincidences carry meaning.  He coined the term Synchronicity to refer to a series of thoughts and external experiences that, although isolated in time and space, appear to be connected in a ‘meaningful way’.  Not all coincidences are synchronistic.  Some – like the book you need jumping off the shelf and landing at your feet – are just fun to relate.  But real synchronistic experiences hold your attention much longer.  Their significance can take years to play out.

Jung believed synchronistic experiences mirror deep psychological processes that further ‘individuation’ – the process by which we gain understanding of our place in the world.  In Jungian thought, society’s mass-mindedness creates a ‘collective’ repository of emotionally loaded wish-fantasies that are hard to resist.  Consider the steadily growing number of worldwide reports of Mary (‘Mother Mary’ or ‘Blessed Virgin Mary’) apparitions.  Jung wouldn’t be surprised.   Increasingly complex technological advances threaten to annihilate our spiritual heritage.   Yet according to Jung, our spirituality is the very thing that makes us individuals.

Statistically, synchronicity shouldn’t happen.  Although modern society encourages us to be ‘normal’ or ‘average’, we can use our synchronistic experiences to assert our individuality.  Jung believed real life to be made of individuals – not averages.  He also said that it’s by thinking outside the box that we’ll find our personal worth.

Like dreams, synchronistic experiences naturally occur when our unconscious is trying to tell us something.  Archetypes – the building blocks of the unconscious – are the key to understanding the message.  Jung described archetypes as concentrations of psychic energy that manifest as particular themes and motifs – like the spiral found in seashells.  Such motifs appear widely across history and cultures.   The unconscious connects us with the archetypes, and the archetypes trigger synchronistic experiences.

Synchronistic experiences always involve an archetype.  Consider the case of the golden beetle.  While Jung’s client was relating a dream in which she’d received a gift of a golden scarab (a large dung beetle held sacred in ancient Egypt), Jung heard a gentle tapping on the window.  He opened it and caught a beetle whose gold-green color was the same as that of the golden scarab his client had described.   When Jung related that the scarab was a classic rebirth symbol depicting the archetype of self-transformation – exactly the issue with which she’d been struggling, the client was shocked enough to break down her resistance to therapy.

Archetypes often depict universal life events such as birth, puberty, marriage, parenthood, and death.  They also depict the classic character types associated with those events.  Confronting archetypes through synchronistic experience alerts us to personal issues of which we might not otherwise have been aware.

Archetypes have been with us forever.  They speak to our hearts, and we intuitively understand.  As the result, archetypal themes underlie most myth, literature, and cinema classics like the box-office hit ‘Star Wars’, which was based on the archetype of the Hero’s journey.  Myth is a great starting point when looking for the meaning behind a synchronistic experience.

We can also extract meaning from synchronistic experiences through Jung’s technique of ‘amplification’.  For example, with Barbara’s experience, we’d  examine the associations others have had with feathers.  Throughout history, feathers have been used by shamans and priests.  They’ve long symbolized the sacred power of the archetype of the healer.  Feathers are also believed to be mystical signs,  carrying messages and opportunities.  As scraps of synchronicity in the flow of universal meaning, feathers have comforted us and renew our hope for the future.

The more in touch we are with our unconscious, the more likely that we’ll notice synchronistic events and be spiritually and psychologically transformed by them.  This certainly seems to have been Barbara’s experience.

On a bright summer’s morning a year ago, Barbara crossed the border into New Mexico and pulled into the first rest stop.   She was exhausted.  When upon opening the car door she found a raven’s feather, at last she was certain she’d made the right decision.


Uncategorized

Date with Fate – Uranus/Jupiter Conjunction in Aries

It hasn’t happened yet – but it will do –  next week.

Jupiter and Uranus come together in Aries – for the first time in over 80 years  – in perfect formation on Tuesday, 8 June 2010, at high noon.

Is this important you ask?

Yes it is.  Jupiter attunes us to the bigger picture (I mean the globally bigger picture) while Uranus ensures that picture will be no less than revolutionary.

The last time these two planets came together was in 1997 (in Aquarius the sign of technological revolution) and the Internet was born.[1] Dramatic stuff, yes?  With Jupiter and Uranus you’d expect nothing less.  At the very least  there will be a serious expansion of global consciousness – the next big evolutionary leap.  BTW, I should add that historically, when Jupiter and Uranus come together there have been sudden global catastrophes such as typhoons and earthquakes – and we can’t rule out a globalised (perhaps religiously inspired) war –  but we don’t want to go there – do we?

Don’t expect everything to happen at once.  After all, the Internet didn’t happen in just one day or even one week.  But on Tuesday next, the seed is planted and after that the way forward becomes more and more clear.

What might we expect to see?  Well, the last time these two formed a conjunction in Aries was in the late spring of 1927, when Charles Lindbergh won world fame by flying his plane non-stop/solo from NY to Paris.  This kicked off a new world of international travel, the costs and benefits of which we still enjoy today.

Aries is the sign of pioneering heroes.  Jupiter in Aries demands adventure of almost religious intensity.  Uranus in Aries is adamant that the old ‘way’ of doing things is finished; the new is ready to begin and whatever  form it takes, it will be as individualistic and startling as your wildest dreams.

What does this mean for you?

At last it’s time for you to commence doing ‘your own thing.’

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[1] The next time they come together (except for their brief respite into Pisces from during the autumn of this year), will be in 2024 (in Taurus).    Likely, there will not be another conjunction of these two in Aries in your life time.

Astrology

Pluto in Capricorn /when we will realise we can’t eat money

Threat, compulsion, humiliation, survival, necessity, and loss…..

When Pluto comes calling, everything past its ‘sell by date’ is swept away …. and if we fail to let go gracefully, we’re in for one hell of a nasty ride.

With Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024), we’re forced to shed outdated ‘structures’ and replace them with something sustainable and new.

While at the collective level we may see nation-states, economic systems, and multinational corporations (perhaps capitalism itself) collapse under their own weight, to see what will go on at the personal level, we look at Saturn in our charts.

My natal Saturn is in Libra conjunct with Neptune and Mercury in my 4th house.  Shortly, Pluto will square my natal sun while Saturn conjuncts it.

As the result, I expect pressure to take a more serious look at my role in my partnerships.  Libra does have a tendency to blame ‘the other’ when things go wrong.   Libra also likes ‘peace at all costs’ and such compliancy invites others to become overly aggressive to compensate.   Yikes!

This current onslaught also marks the final throes of a Saturn/Pluto cycle that commenced with a Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Libra in 1982 (when I started law school).  That cycle, which ends in 2017, is a lesson about ideals, justice, and fairness.  It may put a rather abrupt end to my naive ideals that men act rationally and with honor.

One only has to do is to look at the news….

Capricorn is about morals and morals are about how we deal with each other.  So with Pluto in Capricorn….how long can the inconsiderate, antisocial, and overly selfish behavior we experience from others every day continue?

Enter Uranus in Aries at the end of May 2010 (YIKES – it’s HERE now)!  Now the proverbial ‘shit’ really will hit the fan – Stay tuned as the face of power as you’ve known it changes big time.  The last time time Pluto was in Capricorn was between 1760-1776 and the last time Pluto was in square with Uranus (as it is right now), Adolf Hitler came to power.  And don’t forget that before that, Karl Marx was born with a Pluto/Uranus square.

Astrology

Body & Soul – Harnessing the Renaissance Magic of Marsilio Ficino

BODY & SOUL – Harnessing the Renaissance Magic of Marsilio Ficino

by Debra Moolenaar

© 2006

Open your life to soul.  Take control of your thoughts and emotions.  Align them with the heavens, and you could you literally realign the energies surrounding you here on earth.  By changing your frame of mind, you’ll make different choices.   You can beat those empty feelings that fuel compulsions like excessive eating, drinking, or shopping.

If you’re seeking happiness, Renaissance astrologer and magician Marsilio Ficino believed that happiness comes with the good things in life – health, wealth, position, and power – to name a few.  But having them isn’t enough. They must be desired, acquired, and used with wisdom.

Do this, he says, through natural magic.  Because soul works through symbols and images, you absorb planetary rays through food, music, talismans, and medicines that correspond to, or vibrate in sympathy with, the planetary energies you need. Imagine two violins.  Sympathetic vibration occurs when two strings are tuned to the same pitch.  When one is plucked, the other will sing out in ‘in sympathy’.  Take care of soul and it will take care of you. In this regard, soul is a quality rather than a quantity. It’s an intensity of experience. It’s best to speak of ‘soul’, rather than of ‘a soul’.  Other words for soul might include daemon or muse.

Ficino (1433-1499) was the consummate Renaissance man. He was a physician, musician, priest, astrologer, mystic, and vegetarian.  As the protégée of Cosimo de Medici, one of the most powerful men in Renaissance Europe, Ficino’s work had a profound effect on the direction of the Italian Renaissance and on European thought in general.

But Ficino was more than a scholar and philosopher.  He was also an accomplished magician. He didn’t just contemplate the good life, but made it happen with help from soul.  Because Ficino believed that the good life lies in a ‘well-tempered’ life – lived in harmony with the heavens, by following his lead, your goal is to become ‘as celestial as possible’ through soul.

Cultivating soul is like getting a liberal arts education.  It isn’t about making money, but about developing personal values.  When you move through life from this deeper place with insight into your personal nature, all else falls in line.

Your good life starts with the idea that the universe moves in ordered cosmic harmony according to a divine plan.  If, as Ficino believed, soul, with help from the planets and all things celestial, sows the seeds of this divine plan into the material world through archetypal energies resembling rays, then wisdom, your key to happiness, comes from absorbing as many different rays as possible.

It’s the quality of objects – the shapes, sounds, colours that speak to soul.  There’s a psychological element too.  For example, if you want to cultivate solar energies, you use sun-related paintings, sculpture, jewellery, household furnishings, clothes, or even houseplants to keep solar attributes in the forefront of your mind.

In Ficino’s solar system, there were only seven planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto had yet to be discovered).  To thrive, soul needs exposure to each.  You shouldn’t ignore the more challenging ones like Mars and Saturn and concentrate solely on the easy ones like Venus and Jupiter.  Remember the goal is to lead a balanced well-tempered life.  One way to accomplish this might be to focus on the planetary energies associated with each day of the week.  The connection between the planets’ names and the days of the week is ancient. It appears in many languages.  For example, Sunday is the Sun’s day, Monday the Moon’s day, Tuesday is Mar’s day, Wednesday is Mercury’s day, Thursday is Jupiter’s day, Friday is Venus’ day, and Saturday belongs to Saturn.

The Sun symbolizes the qualities – insight and imagination – that are uniquely human. Thus solar energy is associated with consciousness, rational thought, and the pursuit of truth and honour.  The Sun’s healing powers are unrivalled.  To cultivate solar energies, avoid all things sad and dusky.  Instead, take care to warm your heart with cordial and joyful things.  Overexposure to the sun can dry you out, so use it with caution.

Cultivate solar energies through solemn music, all things gold coloured, nutmeg, heliotrope, myrrh, honey, crocus, corn, cinnamon, aloes, lions, swans, beetles, and chickens. Visualize a king on a throne in a yellow garment, along with a raven and the form of the sun.

Light is prized above all else.  ‘Nothing recalls the nature of goodness more than light.’ Plato compared the Sun to God himself, and Ficino agreed, teaching that man could best know the virtue and divinity of God through the light of the Sun.

You can learn to make informed choices about which specific energies you want. For example, if you were tired or disappointed, you’d call upon Jupiter and the Sun to give you a lift. If you were annoyed, you’d ask Venus to tame your anger.  You could also invoke particular planetary powers to assist with current astrological transits.

Some planets work well together while others do not. For example, the bright beneficial power of the Sun and Jupiter mix easily to good effect.  But Saturn and Jupiter are natural enemies and counterbalance each other.  Everything in moderation! All the planets have both positive and negative effects.  It’s important to avoid too much of a good thing.

The Moon’s endless monthly cycles of death and rebirth are clearly visible to the naked eye. In earlier times, farmers would plant when she was waxing and harvest when she was waning. Along with Venus, the Moon signifies the procreative force and is associated with the human body and all natural processes.  Observe the lunar cycle. It’s an important guide to auspicious rhythms – especially when performing magic and healing.  Because of her associations with birth, the Moon is the key to making ideas and fantasies become real. Knowing ‘when’ to do something is as important as knowing ‘what’ to do.

The lunar cycle reminds you to hounour your downtime.  Just as there’s a time to sow and reap, there’s a time to lay fallow.  How can anything survive running at top speed twenty-four hours a day – seven days a week?  Instead, live in sync with the Moon’s cycles, beginning projects with the new moon, harvesting them with the full moon, and winding down with the waning moon.  You’re ready to start again!  Cultivate lunar energies through things that are white, moist, green, silver, as well as through crystal, pearls, and silver marcasite.  Visualize a beautiful girl seated on a dragon or a bull.  She has horns on her head, and serpents above her head and under her feet.

Mars is the God of War. He signifies anger, violence, bitterness, and all types of aggression.  But he also signifies courage and, according to Ficino, he fortifies the soul.  Cultivate Mars through materials that are fiery or red, red brass, sulphurous things, iron, and bloodstone.  Visualize a man armed and crowned.

Mercury is a natural-born interpreter and, in ancient myth, he was the god of communication. He knows there are multiple meanings behind even the simplest of objects, and his job is to connect you with them.  Mercury’s quick and bright, so if you need insight, turn to him. But he’s also duplicitous.  Functioning as the trickster, he forces you to see things differently.  For example with dreams, images of one thing prompt understanding of something completely different.  Mercury stimulates your curiosity – but doesn’t deliver answers.  He leaves that to you.  Cultivate mercurial energies through tin, silver (especially quicksilver), silver marcasite, agate, glass (especially yellow mixed with green-emerald), clever animals such as monkeys and dogs, and people who are eloquent, sharp, and versatile.  Visualize a winged man wearing a crested cap and multi-colour robe.  He has eagle’s feet and is seated on a throne holding a reed in his right hand, a cock in his left.

Jupiter is the mind and spirit of the universe supporting all civilized aspects of humanity including culture, religion, philosophy, and law.  Ficino called Jupiter the ‘helping father’ because he transforms our imaginative visions into the realities of collective living.  Jupiter brings joie de vivre and carefree enjoyment of life, strengthening and moderating all things with which he associates.  He’s always beneficial and brings luck in all matters. Jupiter can make Venus more sweet, and Saturn less sour.  Ficino often spoke of using Jupiter in conjunction with other planets to counteract, temper, or magnify them.  Cultivate Jupiter’s power with jacinth, crystal, wine, sugar, white honey, peppermint, peacocks, and the colours of sapphire, rich purple, gold mixed with silver, and green.  Visualize a man crowned, sitting on an eagle or dragon, and wearing a gold robe.

Venus is the Goddess of Love, and Ficino suggested there are two kinds of love, human and divine; Venus expresses both.  Like Plato, Ficino believed that the sight of sensuous bodily beauty arouses an appreciation of divine beauty.  Thus Venus is not just to be admired, but to be used for spiritual growth as well.  Along with the Moon, Venus signifies the natural and procreative force.  She presides over the lush green fertility of spring.  She confers a prosperous life making you fruitful and happy.  But Venus has a dark side as well. So many myths caution against the dangers of staying wrapped in her seductive pleasures for too long, that you should take these warnings to heart.  Cultivate Venus through corneolus (a flesh-like stone thought to stop the flow of blood), coral, turtles, turtledoves, pigeons, and through all things gay, festive, and pleasurable.  Modesty forbade Ficino from revealing a full list of correspondences.  Visualize a young woman dressed in yellow and white, holding apples and flowers in her hand.

Saturn is associated with death and misfortune and, because he constrains movement, you’ll naturally meet him when ill or depressed.  Dark moods and melancholy aren’t usually welcome, yet Ficino believed they were vital to provide time and space for contemplation.  In Ficino’s world, Saturn marked the boundaries of the solar system thus reminding you that all things on earth must come to an end. As the highest and most exalted of the planets, Saturn encourages you to move beyond the material world to higher ground – to the heavens and the true home of soul.  Because Saturn is rooted in tradition and he’s a natural builder, you can call upon him when facing hard work or serious study.  As the ruler of stability and perseverance, he can give you the strength to achieve your goals.  Cultivate Saturnian energies through all things earthy, dusky, and leaden, as well as through smoky jasper, lodestone, cameo, solemn music, sapphire, and gold.  Visualize an old man dressed in a dusky robe, sitting on a high throne or dragon.  His head is covered with a dark linen cloth and he’s raising his hands above his head, holding a sickle or some fish.

What happens once you’ve become ‘as celestial as possible’?  How do you use your gifts and achievements wisely?  You could start by envisioning yourself, as did Ficino and his contemporaries, as an integral part of a comprehensive totality, and focusing your efforts not just for yourself, but for the greater good of all and the glory of God.

Regarding the way to happiness, Ficino wrote In a letter to Cosimo de Medici, “…for thus our soul becomes most like to God, who is wisdom itself.  According to Plato, in this likeness consists the highest state of happiness.”


Philosophy

The Many Faces of God

“God” is a dicey word.

Not only is it downright dangerous to use the word “God” at the wrong time or in the wrong place, but even when you do get it right there’s no guarantee the person with whom you’re speaking entertains the same ideas about what you mean by “God”  as do you.

Having been brought up as an open-minded Christian, I was still very surprised to learn there were so many possible definitions or images of God.

The following are just several broad images of what has over time been meant by “God” (with many variations on the main themes).  As you’d expect each has its strong points and each has its weaknesses too.  Which do you choose and more importantly, why?

  1. Deism – God created the world and then bowed out to leave us to it.  The problem with this definition is that it leaves us no one to pray to when the going gets rough – or rather if we do pray there’s no one there to hear it.
  2. Pantheism – God is transcendent and immanent – God is me and I am God (more or less).   The problem with this definition is that if God is me and I am bad, then God is bad and that can’t be right can it?
  3. Animism – God is ‘soul’ and ‘soul’ is in every rock, tree and especially in me.   The problem with this is that many are unwilling to believe that animals have ‘souls’ and if they do then aren’t they on the same level as humans?  When we throw chicken breasts on the BBQ are we really prepared to eat someone’s soul?
  4. Theism – God made the world and he’s right here by our sides taking care of it (and by implication – us).  Despite a few inconsistencies this concept works fairly well.  This could be why it’s been adopted by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
  5. Dualism (Ditheism) – God is good and he has a twin God who is bad and the battle rages on through eternity.  This has in part been embraced by Christianity in the form of Satan.  The problem with this definition is that if God is good (and omnipotent) and good is the only way, then why can’t the good God ever win?  Is it because he is impotent (i.e. not omnipotent) or is it because he doesn’t want to win (in which case he’s bad).  Either way is a dilemma.
  6. Polytheism – God takes many forms – usually like the Greek or Roman pantheon where there’s a top dog god who presides over his cabinet.  In some cases, this manifests in a coalition government rather like the one we now have it Britain.
  7. Panentheism – God = nature.  The problem with this is that when nature goes (i.e. an atomic bomb or the collision of earth with an asteroid) where does that leave God?
  8. Process Theology – God made the world and he’s obliged to stick around and manage the process.  This is an attempt to integrate evolution with God.   The problem with this is that if God is perfect, then why isn’t His creation perfect?  (which it clearly isn’t if He has to micromanage it).
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