The challenge of the new moon in Leo – Look inside instead of automatically following the rules!

The Sabian Symbol for today’s new moon is Leo 18 – A Teacher in Chemistry.

This throws the spotlight on the popular notion that we can control our world through science and similar intellectualization.  We’re encouraged to believe there’s no limit to our creative abilities.   Given proper instruction on ‘how things really work’, not only can we control the course of our own lives but also that of Mother Nature.

However we only have to witness the devastation of a hurricane, forest fire, or even a volcanic ash cloud to realise this simply is NOT true.  Nor in many cases is it even desirable.  As the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has well illustrated – the most sophisticated man-made technology can make – but not fix – disasters far worse than anything Mother Nature throws our way.

The good news is that all new moons give us a chance to make things different.  They provide a proverbial fresh start in those areas governed by the zodiac sign in which they occur.

With the new moon in Leo, both the sun and the moon are in astrological element of fire.  Light a match to experience first hand the enthusiastic, out-going energy of fire.  Watch carefully as it consumes everything in its wake as it lights the way.

This is perfectly normal.  By its nature fire is meant to both consume and transform.  Yet in Leo, fire’s outward advance is kept in check by the force of the fixed cross – which is just as it sounds – fixed – unmoving as a brick wall.

Without a proper outlet, leonine fire turns inward – it’s natural confidence eroded and undermined.  It’s as if the torch normally kept focused on the world around us is turned instead on depths of our unconscious –  from which according to Carl Jung –  all things manifest must unfold.

The challenge of the new moon in Leo is not to feel threatened when confronted with things you’d really rather not see – especially when they’re about yourself.

Instead have confidence in your instinctual reading of a situation – this time act on insight instead of dogma.  Remember that regardless of what science says, nothing (not even Mother Nature) always plays ‘by the rules’.  Find a new way of being and doing – and while you’re at it  – teach someone else to do the same.


Mars in Libra – Might Debate & Indecision Give You a New Lease on Life?

Throughout August and the first half of September, Mars – planet of fast-paced action – is in Libra.

Mars is a mover and shaker.  He doesn’t  plan ahead.  He goes after what he thinks best for him at the moment and works out the details (if at all) later.

But in Libra, Mars is forced to slow down.  Caught in a quagmire of debate and indecision, he is confronted not only his choices, but also their consequence. This is terrible news. There’s nothing Mars hates more than to sit still.  Yet how well he manages this present task may well map the course of his entire life.

Consider the story of the Trojan warrior, Paris, whom the great god Zeus once called upon to decide which of three powerful (and jealous) goddesses was most beautiful. As you might imagine, he was immediately bribed:  Hera offered him world rulership; Athena offered him military prowess; but Aphrodite offered him what any red-blooded young man would fancy most – the hand of the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen of Troy.  Unfortunately she forgot to mention Helen was already married.  The result was the Trojan War in which Paris lost his life.

It’s easy to understand why Paris chose as he did.  But perhaps if he’d been less headstrong and self-focused, he might have chosen otherwise.

In today’s society, we’re encouraged to be like Mars – to take what we want and get on with life as fast as we can.   But as we saw with Paris, in the long run this may not be the wisest approach.  There is another way.

Mars in Libra offers us the opportunity to take a step back for a moment and explore not only what we might win for ourselves but also what we might win for the good of mankind.  Think of the possibilities of what Paris might have accomplished as a sage world leader or a seasoned military man.   We will never know.  Likewise, in our  midst of our modern hustle and bustle, we’ll never know what might be accomplished by contemplation and compromise until we give them a try.


Today & Tomorrow are Knight of Cups Days – Savour your encounters as you would a fine wine

With the sun in Cancer (emotional responsiveness) and the moon in Gemini (curious and cerebral), today and tomorrow are Knight of Cups days.

The tarot Knights are all movers and shakers – always mounted on their steeds.  They all have places to go albeit some will get there faster than others.

The Knight of Cups is in no particular hurry.  He is a sensitive man.  His head full of romance and chivalry, he’s an adherent of all things creative – you’ll find him writing poetry or attending a play.   Although he’s intense, he approaches life at a slower pace than usual – the old-fashioned way.

However don’t take this mean he’s particularly dependable in matters of marriage or long-term relationship.  Never once forgetting ambition to take pleasure in every type of relationship,  the Knight of Cups is more of a Don Juan than a family man.

So on a Knight of Cups day, explore and enjoy – savour your encounters like fine wine.

But don’t get your hopes up for anything permanent.  Although the energy is poignant – perhaps even impassioned – it’s likely that anyone new to your life now is just stopping to smell the roses before they move on.


The Sense of Zen – Venus in Leo & The Relational Self

Until Saturday (10 July) at about noon (GMT), Venus, symbolising love and relationships, will be transiting Leo where she is best summarised by the tarot card, The Queen of Wands.

Contrary to popular belief, Venus isn’t so much about love for others as about love for ourselves.  In astrological psychology, Venus points to our feelings of self-worth – the expectations, merit and reward – all which we strive to gain from outside.

As I understand it, in Zen Buddhism the ‘ego’ or ‘self’ seeking such recognition is purely relational – taking the form of but one of many potentialities – the most potent of which is the transcendental ego often described as a circle with no circumference.   But it is the more defined, confined relational ego to which we most closely relate – for it is through this ego that we experience every day.   That the key to understanding our relational ego is through our relationships should then come as no surprise.

In his excellent book The Sense of Zen, the eastern scholar DT Suzuki remarks that upon the awakening of sexual love, this ego takes its first step toward the infinite.  Sexual love causes the ego to lose itself in its object of desire and according to Suzuki, it is through this that we first glimpse that which lies beyond (or perhaps inside); the ego shell is at last broken when the ‘other’ is taken within.

Despite how it may feel at the time, The Queen of Wands is doing us a big favour in pointing this out.   Like a lantern in the dark of night, her charm and warmth draws us near.  She presents the face of a loyal friend, whose advise, opinions, and general good counsel ought not to be ignored.  Through her vibrancy she brings colour and soul into our lives – and we love her – even if she’s a bit impatient and  vain.

But a despite all this (although she is not insincere),  The Queen of Wand works solely for herself – let’s repeat that for clarity – solely.

So during a The Queen of Wands period, don’t be surprised when your relationships (love and otherwise) take on a particularly selfish tinge – after all how could they really be otherwise – for as long as we operate through relational egos our relationships will always be first and foremost about ourselves.


Learn to Let Go – It’s a Four of Coins Day

With the sun in Cancer (bonding & connections) and the moon in Taurus (acquisition & self-gratification), today and tomorrow are Four of Coins days.

On a divinatory level, the Four of Coins warns against holding too tightly that which for the sake of everyone, it would be better to let go.  On a Four of Coins day, the fear of losing that to which our self-worth has attached runs rampant and strong.  As the result, there’s a very real danger that by clinging to the past, we block the future and with it, the vital energy necessary to survive.

For the Kabbalist, this relates to the 4th sephira, Chesed, the ruler of which – Jupiter  (or Zeus) – we have met on this blog before.   Recall the risk with Jupiter is excess – much too much of a good thing.  So while on a Four of Cups day, the king of the gods surfeits on sensual pleasures (i.e. Jupiter’s notorious extramarital affairs), on a Four of Coins he overindulges in the material world where you might say like King Midas, he turns everything to gold.

But on a Four of Coins day it doesn’t stop there.  No, indeed not.  On a Four of Coins day we ‘re compelled to hoard our gold = i.e. everything with which we’ve formed a bond – be it people, places, or things.   Because we view our ‘gold’ as an extension of ourselves (instead of carrying meaning in its own right), it’s no wonder we hang on to it like a life preserver in a stormy sea.  The problem is however that in doing so we risk being so petty and miserly that we wind up pushing away those very things which we hold so dear.

While the primary vice associated with all the tarot fours is excess, the primary virtue is obedience.  Thus the antidote to a Four of Coins day is to  actively sacrifice some of our self (and our possessions) for the good of the commonweal.

In doing so we open ourselves up to the promise of the golden harvest, which is nascent in all the tarot fours. The trick is to ensure that which we really wish to harvest is what we do indeed sow – and this requires us to look well past the end of our own nose.


La Passione di Roma & the difference between modern and classical art

William James (often referred to as the father of modern psychology) was greatly impressed with what he believed to be the distinction between classical and modern art.

In ancient Greek art, he argued, lay the quintessence of all reality. There the artist’s idea runs through all his creation allowing it to lose any amount of detail and still smile as freely as before.  A smashed nose or broken arm could never diminish a Greek statute’s rapport.  By contrast the ‘modern’ Madonna’s missing nose destroyed her very essence.

According to James, something in modern art created a dissonance, a subjective distance that was absent in ancient art.  Both pointed – as they should – to the existence of the ineffable beyond.  But for James, the distinction lay in the artist’s consciousness of it.

Part of the reason for this must lay in the difference between the modern and ancient worldviews.  Since Descartes, Western man has struggled with the connection between objective (I perceive) and subjective (I think) realities.  By contrast, the ancients embraced a more holistic –even magical – cosmology where all of creation was caught up in a seamless harmony of ‘being’.

For example, in the Hermetic and neoplatonic traditions, telestike or statue animation played a major part in religious rituals, which aimed to align the human soul with the gods so as to achieve immortality on earth.  In such rituals, both humans and statues became ‘god-possessed’, their material form becoming a vehicle for divine life.

While such traditions are for the most part no longer practiced today, they serve to remind us of a significant element of our humanity which sadly, we have forgotten.  As the American writer Ursula Leguin puts it, we live in an age where media continually undermines our capacity for recognising what she calls ‘real myths’.  Soul-less, artificially fabricated ‘glamour’ vanishes as soon as it appears.   But no reason or cynicism can destroy the power of the timeless truths as expressed through myth.   “You look at the Blond Hero (a golden haired Ben Hur clone),” she says, “really look – and he turns into a gerbil.  But you look at Apollo and he looks back at you.”

There’s little doubt that like the Greeks, our imaginations are still gripped with a fascination for living statues.  Many fine examples of theatre traditions of mime and tableaux have now migrated off stage to become part of everyday life.

Yet do we use them, as did the ancients to achieve immortality on earth?   No.  We use them as does the Italian company Fendi in their advertisement for a perfume called La Passione di Roma,  to sell ourselves a sexier tomorrow.

If he were alive today, William James would likely be disappointed.  For he truly believed that if in modernity a balance between the material world and that of imagination could be found, it would not in the bank accounts of multinational corporations, but in the Divine.


Survey your bounty – Today is a Three of Wands Day

With the sun in Cancer (containment) and the moon in Aries (entrepreneurial spirit), today is a Three of Wands day.

On a divinatory level, the Three of Wands implies initial completion of some important project or idea.   The foundations have been laid – the first feedback is positive – there’s promise and potential – but of course – there’s more work to be done before the project is fully baked.

For the Kabbalist, today’s energy relates to the 3rd sephira, Binah, which represents the female principle of creative power from which all things are born.   While the 2nd sephira, Chokmah, represents the male principle Force, it is in Binah, that this potency gives way to Form.  It’s rather like the title of a popular 1940’s comedy film ‘And Baby Makes Three’.

As with all tarot threes, the Three of Wands suggests strength and stability.  In numerology, the number three symbolizes the holy trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – birth, life, and death – past, present, and future.

Yet just as we stand surveying our bounty on this solid ground, in our hearts we know all too well that it will change and grow – for everything on this earth is born to die.

So on a Three of Wands day, take time to honour that which your determined efforts have wrought.  But don’t take too much time – for now is not the time for procrastination.

With your shirtsleeves rolled up you will soon need to recommence your toils with renewed optimism if that is  – you wish to fully realise your ambitions.


Mars in Virgo – a time to be whole

For most of June and July, the planet Mars (action) is in the zodiac sign of Virgo (wholeness through service) – making this a time to work and play with purpose. Not just any old purpose, mind you, for the challenge of Virgo is to be of service not to oneself, but to the whole of mankind.

We’ve all seen the self-centred side of Virgo – the prissy schoolmistress and the nagging, know-it-all boss.   Instead, what we’re aiming for here is something more elevated – and if you didn’t realise Virgo had a spiritual side, look again.  Virgo represents the archetype of the Virgin, pure and intact as newly fallen snow.

You might think that here in Virgo Mars, the archetype of the warrior, has met his match.  After all warriors and virgins do seem to be an ill-fated pair.  But strangely, the two can get on tolerably well if approached in the right way.

Mars corresponds to the fifth major arcana tarot card, The Chariot, which depicts a crowned charioteer keeping tight reign on duality – symbolised by one white horse and one black horse pulling each, in the opposite direction.

With all tarot five there always be division and strife – it is the lot of the warrior to conquer and divide.   For certain, this is the nature of Mars.   For by definition when we choose one course of action over another, we leave the road not taken behind – or do we….?

Contrary to this Western concept of reality, Eastern philosophies teach that duality is a mirage, an uncomfortable illusion.  According to these traditions,  there is no right and wrong or black and white – the world is a unity, with each man and woman representing a single drop of water in the universal pond.

In Virgo, we have the unique opportunity to experience this unity where black melts into white and back again and to make something of it.*  Yet as suggested above, this  certainly will not be achieved if we work for ourselves alone, for such self- focus is the very foundation of duality.

Instead, to get the best from Mars in Virgo focus your efforts to benefit others and in doing so stop yourself for a moment to glimpse of the forest for the trees.


* We can also experience this unity in Pisces – but there find it much harder to to make practical use of the experience.


It’s a Four of Cups Day – Beware too much of a good thing

With the sun in Cancer (feelings) and the moon in Pisces (divine discontent), today and tomorrow are Four of Cups days.

On a divinatory level, a Four of Cups day signals a time of dissatisfaction, boredom, and perhaps even depression.  This can play out in any area of our lives, but no matter where, what, or how, we are bound to end up feeling cheated and dismayed.

What’s up for grabs, however, is whether this prompts us to make positive changes in our lives (for almost certainly our angst is due to unrealistic expectations) or drown ourselves in our sorrows.

For the Kabbalist, this relates to the fourth sephira, Chesed, which represents majesty, loving-kindness, and spiritual love.  The ruler of Chesed is Jupiter (or Zeus), who in ancient mythology was the far-sighted, benevolent king of the gods.  But when we look at the stories about Jupiter, we find that no only was he associated with a cosmic consciousness we mortals could never hope to possess he was also a dirty old man.

Mythically, Jupiter’s colossal appetite for extra-marital sex (he impregnated just about everything that moved) was as legendary as was his stormy relationship with his long-suffering wife Hera, whom one gets the impression underneath it all he really did love.

Perhaps like certain modern celebrities we could say he had an addiction to sex.   In any event Jupiter‘s ‘problem’ is archetypal and can be summed up for a Four of Cups day as overindulgence – much too much of a good thing.

In the end, Jupiter did all right despite his destructive tendencies and that we can put down to his enormous reservoir of hope and good faith.   Jupiter understood the profound difference between pleasure and happiness and was able to rise above himself time and time again – so as to refocus his energy from scattered sensuality into more prosperous, long-lasting pursuits.


Psychological Integration in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra

The night before last, my husband and I attended the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production of Antony and Cleopatra at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Because we’ve enjoyed everything we’ve seen there before, we were sorely disappointed when the play failed to live up to our expectations.  From the lack of enthusiastic clapping as the last act culminated into closing bows, we concluded we weren’t the only ones who’d found the evening’s entertainment lacking.

In the lingering light cocooning the historic market town, we wracked our brains as to what had gone wrong.  As usual the acting had been superb.  Naturally in the company’s temporary location, we knew the stage set must ‘needs be” be limited;  that we’d already figured in.  Even the awkward juxtaposition of contemporary combat gear with the 17th century prose couldn’t account for our discontent.

Settling back for an après theatre tipple in the comfortable lounge of our hotel, we concluded that the problem must lie not with the performance, but with the play itself.   As neither of us had seen Antony and Cleopatra before, we satisfied ourselves that of all Shakespeare’s great plays this one just wasn’t our cup of tea.

Next morning while sudsing my hair with lemon scented shampoo, I realised that we’d not appreciated Antony and his Cleopatra because they’d been portrayed as ordinary persons, just like you and me.  No one likes to have their inadequacies flaunted – especially not when you’re paying for the privilege.

Cleopatra had been petty and jealous, grasping for every possible reassurance of the potency of her feminine charms.  Ladies, which of us have not at some point in our lives not behaved exactly the same way? And although admittedly Antony had once been brave and strategic, he was portrayed now as weak-willed and wooly; instead of demonstrating the strength of character expected of a world leader, he was more like a lovesick schoolboy with greying hair.  Haven’t we all seen more than a few of those in our time?

But worse, this is precisely how Shakespeare had drawn them – with all their mortal flaws shining bright and new as evening stars.   Although clearly the great bard had expected us to see through this gauzy veil to the “new heaven, new earth” of which Antony frequently spoke, it was hard to get hooked on just the promise of a better life beyond.

The problem is that with their deaths Antony and Cleopatra did fulfil this otherworldly promise.  I suppose that for the good Christian audiences for which this play was originally composed, that would have been more than enough.

However the psychologically sophisticated audiences of today can never be satisfied with a glimpse of future redemption; we’ve been told that if only we do enough ‘character work’, we’ll be rewarded with ‘new heaven’ and ‘new earth’ in the now.

That none of the dramatis personae in this play displayed the least inclination of achieving this Holy Grail of individuated wholeness was disappointing to say the least.

But to my mind, the key question is whether their lack of motivation says more about the shallowness of 17th century values or of our own.

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