Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pied Pipers

Today's chart refers to my Nov 2 post.  I put a blue smudge over Venus and Mars in the 5th House and a green one over the Moon in the 11th house.

5th House - children, creative self expression, falling in love

11th House - peers, reputation, community respect

Aries - first sign in zodiac, first step in unit cycle of becoming.  Coming into being.  Birth.  Explosion of seed.  This first step in the unit life cycle is ruled by the planet Mars.  Mars spends a smaller portion of its cycle in a balanced position with the Sun than any other planet.  

Libra - seventh sign of zodiac, seventh step in unit cycle of becoming.  Cusp of maturity.  Reaching balance between individuality and universality. Bearing ripe fruit.  This seventh step in the unit life cycle is ruled by Venus.  The cycle of Venus is associated with the period of human gestation (conception to birth).

The clumsy red arrow shows the direction we see the planets take as earth revolves on its axis.  At 7pm as I entered the camp of the enemy (Roman Catholic turned atheist astrologer) the nearly full Moon was rising in the eastern sky.  If you have good eyes you can see a little 11 in the house occupied by the Moon at 7pm.  That 11 simply means the Moon rose recently and was near the end of the lineup to rise again.

The Moon was in the sign ruled by Mars, but Mars, right across from it was in the sign ruled by Venus.  And Venus was home.  The planet of kindness was in the step of the unit cycle associated with generosity.  Venus was in Libra. 

Generosity.  Generate.  Genesis. 

I was shocked when I found the entry for gamma eta nu.  I was surfing  a few Greek sentences in a side by side translation of Plato's Republic <--ugh!  But discovering the connection between the Gaia we so often read about in encyclopedic listings of classical myths and the actual Greek word for Earth was worth all the time I spent lost, wandering through the old dialogue.

Gaia: gamma eta, Earth

Gen: gamma eta nu, of the Earth (eta is pronounced like an English long a)

As in - kata gen kai thalassos,  'by land and sea.'

Genesis is what springs from the Earth by virtue of the Sun's 'arrows.'


Thursday, November 2, 2017

We Need More Drama

Theatrical Drama First

Last night I gave my neighbors a ride to church for the Wed night religious instruction leading up to First Communion.  Last 2 years they went every Wed night to prepare for the boys' baptism, and now they have another year or two for Holy Communion and then Confirmation.

They normally meet for lessons in the cathedral downtown, but last night, they were obligated to go to the evening mass celebrating All Souls Day.  It was held at the beautiful new building on Centennial Drive.  The boys urged me to get out of my car to have a quick look inside the church. 

I could hear music and singing and the inside was just magnificent with artfully lit arches, statues lining the walls, a palatial alter area and just so many breathtaking architectural flourishes.  If you have ever been to the casinos in Atlantic City NJ you'll know what I mean when I say it reminded me of those buildings. They replicate grand architectural styles using less expensive materials.

But this building replicates grand cathedrals instead of palaces.  There is a whole nuther mood to the opulence, or at least there was for me.  I ran back out to the parking circle and moved my car to a space in the parking lot.  I was drawn to the beautiful building and wanted to experience the mass there with my friends.  The chorus had a lot to do with it.  I was looking up front in the left nave for someone with a guitar or violin, but could see noone standing to sing or play instruments.  I wondered if the music was a recording being played over the sound system.  During communion, when people were leaving the pews to receive the consecrated bread and wine, I asked Nati where the music was coming from, was it recorded music?  She pointed to the back and I could see The chorus and musicians in the large balcony at the rear of the church.

I had asked Nati, when the assitants were filing down from the raised alter area to help distribute to the Host to the congregants, if she needed to get past me to go receive communion.  No, she is not allowed because she is not married.  Ahh yes!  I had forgotten about all those rules!

All through the service, especially the sermon, I thought about how we got from Zeus and Saturn in the sky to the Son of God walking around on earth.  Several years ago when I volunteered to take a customer's mom to mass I had struggled with anger and jealousy toward the power of the Christian establishment.  Last night I watched the children playing in the pews, the priest reading the gospel and wondered what they were thinking, if this communal spectacle satisfied them. 

It never satisfied me.  I loved it and still do.  I remember kneeling next to my father one Sunday and asking my father if the man up on the alter was god.  I was talking about Fr. Ernst the priest with a German accent.  I used to count how many seconds it took him to finish a sentence.  He projected his strong voice slowly, with great theatricality, almost as though he were chanting measured verse.

My father was irritated with the question.  Years later when my older brother protested the priest's request for a fee to baptize his daughter, my father said matter of factly, "it's a club and to be a member you have to pay dues."  He studied geological engineering in college.  I think he assumed we understood the god stuff was to be taken with a grain of salt and felt disappointed that we needed that laid out.  Maybe if I had asked the question after mass when we were in the booth at People's Drugs having scrambled eggs on toast with cokes, or in his case a glass of beer with foam at the top.

Last week Miguel asked who came first the cave men, god or the dinosaurs.  We were only a block from home after picking them up from their lessons.  Oh what a wonderful question!  He and Alfredo were having a jolly time.  It began with Jesus.  Alfredo had been to Williamsburg for a class field trip and wondered if that was the time of Jesus.  I said Jesus was long after the dinosaurs but before the American Colonists.  They were very enthusiastic about collating historic events.  But that god question right at the end was a doozy.

I told Miguel he should ask his teacher.  I'm not sure if she will be much help.  One of their religious education teachers showed them a video of the Host bleeding when someone dropped it on the floor.  "It was REAL!!  The blood of Jesus."

"Do you believe that?" I asked.  One brother did, the other piped up with examples of fake videos.  But the teacher said it was real. 

Numeric Drama

Tuesday night I started thinking I should have taken a longer section of Libra and Aries to demostrate their different rising times.  (Previous post)  I figured Mars was above the average tree line by 5:30am and Venus by 6:50am.  That's a time difference of 1hr 20m.

The AC (ascendent) for those times in Raleigh was:
12Libra13 for the 5:30 Mars rise
  28Libra45 for the 6:50 Venus rise

Again, that's 1hr 20mins for 16degrees32mins of Libra to rise

Now the same section of Aries crossing above the AC later that same day and location:
  12Aries09 rose at 5:00pm
  28Aries52 rose at 5:44pm

So the equivalent section of Aries takes only 44mins to come up over the eastern horizon. 

The 16degree spread in Libra takes 36 more  minutes to rise than the same spread in Aries.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Libra Rising

Now is a good time to get a feel for the difference in the sky between Libra and Aries - or at least take a first step toward understanding. 

I was out this morn at 5:40 looking for Mars rising in Libra.  I thought I saw it but was never completely sure the whole time I hung out studying the constellations. I was waiting for Venus to come up.  When it did, it was of course bright and unmistakable.  But the distance in the sky between the faint light of Mars and brilliant Venus was farther than I thought it should be.  From the chart I knew they were only 16 degrees apart.  That 16 degrees in the sky looked more like 25 to me.

It took a while for me to become certain I was 'seeing' the longer rising time of the sign Libra.  I hope I can get another chance to observe in the next couple of mornings, while Venus is not much more than 15 degrees ahead of Mars in the zodiac.  15 degrees is 1/2 a sign. 

I made charts to show the difference in time between Libra and Aries rising.  We can't directly observe Aries rising right now, but Stellarium gives a good visual approximation.  Here is a link to a quick video showing the way the ecliptic changes through the hours.  Planetarium software helps find your way around the starry bowl, but it is no substitute for the real deal.  You have to go outside and see in the big expanse just how dramatic the difference actually is.  Once you see the variation from one sign to the next you will know the zodiac signs are not about the constellations, but about the changing distance between the ecliptic and the celestial equator.

And then there's the math.  19 mins for a small Libra section to rise vs 11 mins for the same section of Aries to rise.  I put colored smudges over the local times at the top of each chart.

The 4 charts:
5:40am (green)   13d Libra 29m rising

5:59am (blue)   17d Libra 25m rising

5:07pm (red)   13d Aries 21m rising

5:18pm (redder)  17d Aries 36m rising

AC is an abbreviation for ascendent.  It tells which degree of the zodiac was coming up at the the given time and location.  It took 19 mins for 4 degrees of Libra to rise and tonight, even though we can't see for that daggone Sun, it will take 11mins for 4 degrees of Aries to rise.

So if you get a good look at Venus and Mars while they are rising in Libra, there are a good two weeks left, you can compare that to a planet or two rising in Aries when the next opportunity comes along.  Starting at about 5:40 or 6:00am look east, where you see the Sun come up in the mornings, for the faint red light. Then pay attention to how far it rises until bright Venus comes up around 6:20 am.  The distance between them is what 16 or 17 degrees looks like in the sign Libra.

Happy sky watching!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Jupiter and Sun

Sun is lined up with Jupiter today.  This is a chart for this morning in Raleigh. 

I put a green smudge on Jupiter and Sun, and a blue smudge on Saturn.  Saturn was coming up on Raleigh's eastern horizon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Zodiac and Galactic Plane

A (not so) quick clarification

It has been over a year since I first started talking in posts about the angle of inclination between the ecliptic and the galactic plane.   It was a major revelation for me.  While searching  - how is the solar system situated within the Milky Way? - I did notice lots of people asking the same question on forums. There's lots of info about where  (Orion arm), but our orientation is rarely addressed.

I've gotten really slack about just weaving the concept into posts as though people have some familiarity with it.  For those  who don't, here is a link to the post where I first introduced the concept.  Between the Sun and Galactic Plane

I will include an image at the bottom from Brian Fenerty, which was the first graphic representation I found on the internet.  It came from a really cool astronomy page about how fast earth is traveling.

Not too long after finding some good graphics and learning how to set the view from the perspective of the Galactic Plane on Stellarium (free downloadable planetarium sodtware for your computer) ,  I rigged up a 12in earth globe at an angle to a table surface similar to our angle with the Galactic Plane.

So all this talk about Cetus the whale being on the midheaven when we face down into the bottom of the Milky Way, or Cygnus the swan being on the midheaven when we are turning down ... is related to our angle to the plane of the Milky Way.

To make sense of the constellation myths takes some focused meditation on actual heaven, as opposed to the heaven we grew up hearing about,  but like Plato I think the angle of the spheres that the stories refer to are a lot more fascinating than the surface entertainment value.  I know Socrates showed respect for the morally edifying qualities of the myths, but was inclined to censor the ones about gods behaving badly.

Timeaus, where I got the clue that the constellation stories were more than novel entertainment or edifying tales, is one of the few dialogues written by Plato that is not in the voice of Socrates.  Socrates was more occupied with catching intellectuals sleeping at the wheel than actually teaching trigonometry or celestial mechanics.  Plato used the voice of a younger man named Timeaus to outline some of the basic concepts of astronomy.  I was lucky to find a well annotated side by side translation by Benjamin Jowett.  I get a thrill out of unravelling the riddles of what appears to me to be a memory system infused with a timeless sense of humor. 

I say 'appears to me' because I have yet to see any similar  approach to the constellation stories outside Plato's Timeaus.  I do not yet have a page dedicated to an explanation of the constellation stories that refer to the galactic plane, but I do have a page about the mechanics behind the mascots of the zodiac.  I invite you to check it out and see if it makes sense to you. 

So, to paraphrase Plato; there are two circles and they make a cross like the letter X. 

If you're like me you'll think he's referring to the ecliptic and the celestial equator.  I assumed Benjamin Jowett did not know what he was talking about when he said Plato meant one circle is the ecliptic and one is the galactic plane.  Later, when studying the Fenerty image you see below, I saw the light.  Ha ha.

There are 2 systems being poetically described in the stories of the old constellations.  (This does not include constellations named after the time of Plato.)  One system is the zodiac which explains the relationship of our tilted earth to the ecliptic.  The rest of the old constellations like Pegasus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Cetus and Orion (under world characters), Auriga, Canis Major, Argo Navis. Cygnus, Aquila (Milky Way coming up or Milky Way going down), then a couple from the upper dome of the galaxy - Ursa Major and my favorite, contained in the 26,000 year circle of the moving north pole, Draconis.

I know this is a lot of information to take in at one go.  Please do not give up on making sense of heaven.  It is worth your time to focus on these riddles when you are in a seriously meditative mood.  Once you 'get' the stories the gods will be your good buddies for like for ever.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Planatery Ephemerides

Sometimes you look at a chart and see that a planet is retrograde and wonder when it started its backward motion.  Or you may see a planet at the beginning or end of a sign and wonder about the exact moment of crossing.  The Planetary Cycles and Sign Ingresses files at are an excellent source for gaining quick, precise answers to these questions.  All it takes is a few clicks and in less than 30 seconds you can download the file you need to see how time was flowing before and after the moment you are studying in a chart.

Planetary ephemeris files are a bit different from basic yearly ephemerides.  Nowadays there are many basic yearly ephemerides available for free on the internet.  Some sites even have the files as web pages that do not require downloading.  While the yearly ephemeride files at include the midnight Universal Time (aka GMT) positions of all planets and the north node for every day of the year, the planetary files focus on the exact Universal Times for points of interest in the cycles of individual bodies.  So instead of just knowing Jupiter entered Scorpio sometime after midnight UT on Oct 10, 2017 you can see the exact moment of ingress.

A few posts back, in Microscope to River, I included screenshots from the 2017 ephemeris.  Today I present a series of highlighted screenshots showing how to navigate to the ephemeris and download a file for Jupiter.  You need the Adobe pdf app to open and read the downloaded files, or another app to read pdf files may work. 

The first image shows where to click on the home page.  After selecting the Astrology drop down menu scroll down and click on 9000 Years Ephemeris.  Yes, 9000 years.  Amazing the wealth of perfectly good data people give away for absolutely nothing.  This form of generosity is a constant source of inspiration for me..

Scroll down past the few explanatory paragraphs and the list of centuries and select Planetary Cycles and Ingresses.  From there you can pick your planet and the time period you are interested in. 

For current Jupiter info you want the 1600 - 2100 file under the heading  Jupiter cycle data The 4th image shows where to click.  Unless your device is slow it should not take more than a fraction of a minute to download.  Since the file begins at 1600 you have to scroll way down to get to 2017.

The last ephemeris image shows Evening set highlighted on Oct 13 in green and Morning rise on Nov 8 in yellow.  Just above the green line you can see that Jupiter entered Scorpio  Oct 10 at 13:20 UT.  Raleigh converts UT to eastern time by subtracting 5 hours (8:20am) and then adding an hour for daylight savings, giving 9:20 am.  We check our balance of time by requestiing a chart for Oct 10, 9:21am Raleigh to see if it shows Jupiter at 00Scorpio.

You can see Jupiter at 00Scorpio in the chart that wraps up this post.  It was a bit above the eastern horizon in Raleigh, but of course invisible because of Apollo's many arrows.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Another Busy Mercury Transit

Can you spot Mercury and Sun above the eastern horizon in the chart for 8:33 this morn in Raleigh?  And Jupiter right on the line?  Sun is only 15 degrees behind Jupiter in the Zodiac.  It will catch up to Jupiter in about 15 days.  Up until a few weeks ago we could see Jupiter for a few minutes in the west at sunset.  Now the Sun is so close that the bright shining planet is invisible.

Soon Venus will also disappear.  It is coming closer to Sun every day.  But the Sun, with Venus in tow, is moving further from Mars.  So while Jupiter is gone for a few months, Mars is just beginning its long journey through the night sky.

Sometimes it is wise to just focus on the movements in the charts and not try to figure out what is really happening in the sky.  Like taking a few bites from a sandwich and saving the rest in a plastic bag in the fridge.  If you keep looking at the Sun and Moon and other planets like you're opening the fridge to check out what's available, you'll remember the rest of the sandwich is there when you're hungry for it.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Reading the Old Timey Map

This is what Venus and Mars 6:23am in Raleigh this morn looks like in the chart.  Venus is so bright it is unmistakable.  It is maybe a finger ahead of Mars.  Mars is very faint and red.  At 6:23 they were about a thin hand (fingers pointing sideways) above the trees. 

The second chart shows when they were first visible above the trees at 5:50am.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Acid and Electric Stars

I was thinking about electrons and how the physicists on Quorum keep repeating that they are not particles.  I recalled a conversation about clean, mild acid and how that feeling in my jaw when i'm tripping reminds me of  electric stars.

Electric star is a game I learned from skydivers.  An opened wire hanger is inserted into a live electrical outlet and a group of people hold hands with the two people nearest the outlet  holding the "live" wire.  As people drop out of the group the current feels progressively stronger.

I only did it once, but the current running through my body was a cool and intriguing feeling.  I wondered if being able to participate in another electric star after all these years would help me better understand electrons.  It was the first time I had ever thought of that one experience in an electric star as educational.

I made a chart for the moment.  The Leo section of Sagittarius was rising here in Raleigh.  Saturn, which just entered the Virgo section of Sag was right there on the eastern horizon.

Remember, as you look at the chart, that we residents of Northern Hemisphere look south to see the equator and ecliptic, so east is on the left and west is on the right.  Everything under the horizontal line is on the far side of earth from Raleigh.

Mercury was on the MC, which stands for Medium Coeli, a latin abbreviation for midheaven, which is the same thing as due south.  In other words, Raleigh was rotating to the closest point with Mercury in it's 24 hour cycle.  (We faced closest to the Sun at about 1:02pm today)

There is a key at bottom left of the charts if you're not sure about the symbols for the planets.  Mercury is right near the MC in the first chart, and Sun is right near MC in the second one.  Then you can see the Moon at the bottom of the chart 'opposing' them.  I think of opposition as fulfillment, as in full Moon shining through the night.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Many Meditations

The chart is for Thurs afternoon in Raleigh and shows Venus catching up to Mars.  It will be late afternoon in England and the Sun will have set in Pakistan.  But for all of us on Earth the planet of kindness and harmony will be meeting the one of strife.  They are the two closest to us, we live between them in our orbit around the Sun.  This meeting occurs as Venus travels toward the far side of Earth's orbit with Sun.

In terms of the zodiac, that poetic breakdown of the realtionship between our celestial equator, our bulging waistline projected like a circular light stick that children carry for night fests, into the heavenly heights - the relationship between that imaginary but at the same time very real belt and the belt of our parh around the Sun; kindness meets striving in the Aries section of Virgo. 

You can see them together at 19 Virgo near the top of the chart.  I've come to think of this section, just after the halfway point of the sign of apprenticeship, as the step where the student has reached fulfillment of study and practice and must now put their new awareness to the test of the unknown.  I picture a student teacher in front of his first students or a scientist  executing her first experiment.

A couageous step in learning is the place where these two planets meet. 

Meanwhile Moon is in Aries, Mercury is racing at top speed of the inner track around the far side of the Sun.....

And because Sun and Mercury are in Libra they are both disposited by, or disposed to listen to and heed the advice of Venus.  Jupiter in Libra has been diposed to Venus all year, and since Saturn in Sagittarius has been disposed to Jupiter, and Pluto in Capricorn disposed to Saturn we have all roads leading ultimately to active kindness.

But kindness itself, the actual planet Venus, will be on the front line helping Mars strive through this learning challenge, this trying out of fresh ideas. 

There are so many avenues for meditation in every chart.  The opportunities for wisdom are far beyond my little mind.  I slip into contemplation of this moment like a swimmer letting herself down into the water. 

Why is the glyph for Virgo so similar to the one for Scorpio?  Could it be the cross at the foot of Virgo's two humps shows crossing above the ecliptic while the Scorpio arrow shows shows climbing toward the final ascent?  As planets advance through Virgo, Libra and then Scorpio we see them progressively lower in the sky.  The change in Virgo is rapid, but only apparent to those who consciously measure the change from one day to the next. 

The m with the cross reminds me of our day trips up mountains in childhood.  We ran through the foothills eager to get to the real fun of scrambling over boulders and jumping across crevices.  After an hour of hiking we could look down and see a limited view of the fields and roads from where we started. As we ascended the mountain the valley fell farther behind and smaller in relation to the expanding horizon.  Libra glyph, could it be a cloud hovering over a horizon?  Then before the final Sagittarian thrill of running around for various views from the top, we had the Scorpio scramble over craggy terrain.  The switch backs and hairpin turns made it seem like we were going nowhere.  We had to watch our step and keep track of how younger siblings, or the dog that got out of the house and tracked us up the mountain, made dangerous passages.  We started gauging time to see how much daylight we had left, some days we had to face the sad realities of delayed starts and turn around before reaching the top.  Scorpio - so close we hated turning back - such an investment of time and energy seemingly wasted.

Virgo, Libra and Scorpio - the ascent that leads to the only comprehensive understanding of where we actually began.  And when we look at the sky it appears as a descent. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jupiter through Gaze of Patanjali

3rd pada, 52nd sutra
The yogi should neither accept nor smile with pride at the admiration of even the celestial beings, as there is the possibility of getting caught again in the undesirable..

4th pada, sutra 29
She who, due to her perfect discrimination, is disinterested even in the highest rewards remains in the constant discriminative discernment, which is called dharmamegha (cloud of dharma) samadhi.  [Note: The meaning of dharma includes virtue, justice, law, duty, morality, religion, religious merit, and steadfast decree.]

I copied the above 2 Sutras from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Tues at lunch and ran off to clean a house.  I anticipated writing a post about how we were being set up for success.  I could see the Moon three short days from meeting Jupiter, and Mercury ruling the pack of planets hovering above earth in Virgo and Libra.

Remember that Libra is at the top of the ecliptic which stands nearly perpendicular to the plane of the Milky Way.  It's actually closer to a 60 degree angle.  This is why people fortunate enough to live under dark skies see Cygnus the Swan in a  white river of stars stretching east of north to west of south. 

When the Sun is in Virgo we earthlings are facing up into the olympian dome of the galaxy during the day.  As we turn away from Apollo (aka Sun) toward night, our heavenly gaze crosses from above to below the plane of the galaxy.  This is why the ancient poets made stories about a young boy diving into a river day after day until the gods turned him into a swan.  When Cygnus is in the middle of the sky, whether visible at night or hidden in Apollo's bright arrows, we are rolling under our big ball suspended just a few light years above the plane of the Milky Way.

But enough of the celestial mechanics of our solar system -  that's ancient history.  Let's get to the heavenly lesson plan I thought was written on the blackboard for this week.

I saw Venus crossing from celebratory Leo to studious Virgo Tues night.  "Mercury in its moral mode will be ruling the whole roost, from near and dear Moon out to adrenaline soaked Mars," I thought with satisfaction.  Correct behavior appeared inevitable.  Yes Mercury can have a strong social conscience when in Virgo, known far and wide as the sign of the student.  The mischief it makes in Gemini is good comedy so it gets more air time, but Mercury can behave well in a number of situations, and beginning Tues night it would be advising all the inner planets passing through Virgo, because Mercury is the planet that rules the sign of apprenticeship.

The above two sutras came to mind as i thought about the prospect of so much politeness followed by the Moon lining up with Jupiter.  That's usually a kind of 4 -6 hour thrill ride in the basket under a hot air balloon.  The amazing science and technology coupled with the view 'from above' associated with Jupiter, can make even the worst situation inspiring and the best simply out of this world.

"We're gonna be high as kites Thurs night and Fri morn and pleased with our good behavior," is what i thought Tues as I anticipated the planetary motions on the days ahead.

Then Tues night it all seemed like a fading dream like the Roy Orbison song, "In Dreams I Walk with You."  The worries piled up so, I lost sight of the opportunities for apprenticeship and only felt the weight of failure.  Last night i was exhausted and thought about how Jupiter would be standing behind the Moon this morn.  My friends from Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador say 'apoyo' to mean support or backing.  When someone says 'te apoyo' they are saying 'i've got your back.'

I did not think of that last night.  I only thought,  "There will have to be a surprise, because right now i see no wizard of Oz balloon or good witch to back us on the horizon.  I see only bad luck and the heavy load that comes with it."

Then the call came.  There were actually 3 but 2 went to voicemail.  My friend wanted to talk about her son's chart.  We went through the chart over the phone and I was immediately struck with how fluent she had become with the vocabulary.  She was reading off planet positions to me with a timid confidence that made my heart soar.

There was my balloon, my good witch and wizard of Oz.  There was the hope that transcends worry.  There was the Moon meeting Jupiter.

So this morning I opened the mobile blogger app and looked at the sutras I had copied Tues.  Yes, after a little consideration I could see that in spite of the obvious setbacks, we, as students are enjoying success.  The worries only help us keep focused on the ultimate prize, rising above our individual self awareness to awareness of how we all are literally one.

I got up late this morn.  This is the first chart for the day.  You can see Moon less than a degree ahead of Jupiter in Libra.  In the chart they are rising toward the left side of the horizontal line.  Those symbols represent the reality that the pair were about to appear above Raleigh's eastern horizon.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

My Very Busy Mercury Meets Mars in Virgo Day

The busy part started almost as soon as the conjunction had taken place.  There was a soft knock on the door from one of the neighbor children.  It was Crystal, wanting to play with a puzzle.  About 40 minutes later there was another quiet knock knock.  This time it was Millie.  Millie and Crystal are cousins and they are both in first grade.

We read some, played with puzzles and then Crystal asked if they could draw, so we got the paper and coloring pencils and markers out. 

At about 5:50 Millie said we shpuld go look for the sun.  We looked at the orange moon ball through eclipse shades and Millie danced around.  She danced a lot today, in between trying to jump on the pogo stick and swinging the hula hoop around her waist.

We went inside and the girls drew some more.  We talked about mothers.  They said they wanted me to be their mother.  I said ok.  They each gave me a peck on the cheek.  After a while I said I was tired of being the mother it was someone else's turn.  Crystal said she would be the mom.

About 20 minutes later there was another polite knock.  "I am tired," I said.   I was on the couch with my feet up watching the girls draw pictures to make a book.  "Ooh!  Crystal you should annswer the door since you're the mom!"

"Ok!" And she went to answer the door.  It was Millie's brother Jesus.  Their mom wanted to know where Millie was.  Next thing we had Eduardo knocking.  He is in 3rd or 4th grade.  He has big sweet eyes and walks like popeye.  Eduardo is the youngest brother of 5 boys.  Then finally came Millie which is short for Milagro which is Spanish for miracle since they finally had a girl.

It is cool to watch them all filing down the street to the bus stop in the mornings with their mom.

The boys made origami with big pieces of paper.  When it was almost sunset the girls and I went back out.  "You have to stand still in one place so you can see it moving.  Can you see it going down behind the trees?"

"Yes!"  Crystal could see it.  But Millie was dancing and running in circles with the eclipse shades. 

"Let me have those.  I'm afraid they'll get broken."  Mean mom, but they were too happy to be bothered.

Then they played on the monkey bars.  At one point Crystal had left the house crying.  She cried at the big oak tree in the front for a minute and then went home.  Jesus taped Millie's pages togther to make a book.  I taped Crystal's pages together and took them to her house.  Her mom was outside --her aunt and cousin were visiting.  I showed them the pictures Crystal drew and translated the words she wrote into spanish,  I told them about how I got to be the mom and then Crystal was the mom.  Crystal kept opening and peeking through the front door and then going back inside.

As I was leaving she came running up behind me wanting to come back and play some more.  We finished the book we had left off reading earlier and then watched the sunset as I described earlier.

Then a friend stopped by to visit while Millie and Crystal were outside blowing bubbles.  After a little while I asked them to go home so I could visit with my friend.  Crystal did not want to go.  She pouted.  But Millie put her bottle of bubbles inside and offered to take Crystal's.  Millie announced that she was going home and Crystal followed her. 

I had a short visit with my friend and then she left to go to a birthday party for a friend who is turning 50.

It was a really special day.  I wondered what it would be like, Mercury catching up to Mars in Virgo.  Every one was so well behaved.  Any time one person said something out of sorts another person improvised a response to smooth things over.  I congratulated the girls when they came to an agreement on sharing the eclipse shades.  They thought it was perfectly natural, but I was amazed and delighted.

Now a friend is calling!  More fun!  What a wonderful way to celebrate this very Virgo day.

Mercury looks like Venus with a little Moon hat.  It is right beside Mars, the circle with the arrow.  They are at 7 degrees Virgo.  Virgo is the green m with a little cross through the end of it.  You can see it on the top of the chart circle on the right.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Microscope to River

Going from chart to ephemeris is like looking at a drop of water under a microscope and then going down to the river to see the running body of water where the sample was extracted. 

The chart fixes a moment in time/space and magnifies it.  Today I am anticipating the moment Mars overtakes nearly stationary Mercury tomorrow morning.  It will be 5:37am in Raleigh.  The last image in this post shows a chart from Astrodienst for that time and place on our planet.  Much of the information in the chart can be found in the Sept 3 row of the 2017 ephemeris.  Before the chart there are 2 screenshots of the Sept 2017 section of the ephemeris (also free from Astrodienst).  The first shot is a wide view showing the dates and location of Sun, Moon and Mercury at midnight UT. 

UT is the 21st century version of Greenwich Mean Time.  In the process of going from coordinating train schedules to coordinating cell phones, the time engineers have made a few upgrades.  For our purposes though, it is safe to think of Universl Time as GMT.

The 2nd shot zooms in on the Mercury -Mars columns.  You will have to count the dates from Fri Sept 1 at the top to Tues Sept 5 when Mercury turns from retro to direct.  You can see that the numbers are decreasing from 29degrees47minutes to 29degrees16min Sept 1.  They decrease a bit less Sept 2 from 29d16m to 28d51m.  In other words Mercury regresses 31m Sept 1, and 24m Sept 2.  The numbers tell us Mercury retro is slowing down.  

We are at the creek (not exactly a river, but the flowing body of water I will visit when I finish this post to see how it is running after last night's big rains) looking at the oncoming water to see how fast it is moving before and after it passes a patch of rocks and debris.  Mercury will change direction as a leaf trapped in a whirlpool exits and continues toward the distant sea.  Or we can compare the decrease in Mercury's motion  to the slower running creek after the rain has washed to lower ground. Any allegory that comes to mind is a good place to start.  We are just looking for ways to feel welcome and relaxed purusing those  long columns of numbers in the ephemeris.

We won't consider here why the actual planet Mercury is changing direction; that's an exercise we can save for a future session of contemplation.

We looked at Mercury slowing down, now let's hop over the Venus column to the Mars column and find where Mars will overtake slowing Mercury.

Midnight UT Sept 3 

Mercury 28Leo51......Mars 28Leo29

Midnight UT Sept 4

Mercury 28Leo35......Mars 29Leo07

From the above figures we can deduce that Mars goes from 22m behind Mercury Sept 3 at 00hr to 32m ahead of Mercury  at 00hr Sept 4.  So we know Mars passes Mercury on the ecliptic highway sometime about halfway between those two times.

Since we are only astrologers and not math whiz computer programmers, we will have to guesstimate and get charts from Astrodienst check our guesses.  

First we want to make the terminology of time more familiar by converting UT time to local time.  Since we are 5 time zones west of Greenwich we know it is 7pm Sept 2 in Raleigh when it is midnight Sept 3 in Greenwich England..  Next we convert 7pm standard time to 8pm daylight savings time.  Converted to local time, our guess is halfway between 8pm Sept 2 and 8pm Sept 3. 

So I have a chart for 8am Sept 3 Raleigh.  You can see Mars 6 minutes ahead of Mercury in the 12th house.  I got a few more charts up and zeroed in on 5:37am, the last chart for this post.  You can see Mars and Mercury a bit lower, under the eastern horizon reflecting the earlier Raleigh time.

The chart for Mars meeting Mercury is like the micrscope sample, taken from the creek right when and where a floating stick was passing the aforementioned leaf in the whirlpool.   In the chart we see not just where the planets are along the ecliptic at midnight 00degrees longitude.  We get to see how the planets along the ecliptic appear from a specific spot on Earth at the moment in the 24hour period that Mars passes Mercury. 

And then....if we turn from the microscopic view of the chart back to the running creek view of the ephemeris, we can see that the leaf/Mercury will catch the stick/Mars Sept 17.  

If you have followed this post and made sense of the relationship between the numbers in the ephemeris columns and the ones in the charts, congratulations !  You have accepted one of the challenges associated with Mars meeting Mercury!

Thanks for trudging through this post.  I am on my way to the creek. 


Friday, September 1, 2017

The American Ephemeris

The hardest working book in your library.

There are free ephemerides on line- I have several 10 year ephemerides downloaded on my phone from Astrodienst.  They take about 500kb memory, a lot less than a photo.  These are fine for looking up info for specific dates.  But, ultimately you want to enter sustained contemplation of longer cycles, such as Saturn's meetings with Pluto, which happen about every 35 years. (Oct 1914, Aug 1947, Nov 1982, Jan 2020)

The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century and the American Ephemeris for the 21st Century are essential references for gaining a sense of familiarity with these historic cycles.  You need to be able to flip back and forth within 200 years worth of daily data while reading about modern historic narratives. 

This morning I was thinking about the north node cycle and Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor.  I opened The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century to Dec 1931 when the NN backed from Aries to Pisces and followed the German empire rebuilding trajectory through the end of WWII.  I was able to easily back up to the Saturn Pluto meeting at the beginning of WWI, when Germany invaded Belgium.  I could hop from consideration of those two cycles, North Node and Saturn/Pluto, to thinking also about Saturn meeting Uranus in early May 1942.

With more data to ruminate on organic time your attention is distracted from emotional responses to history and drawn into deeper consideration of the delicate web of cause and effect that reaches before tetrapods emerged from the salty sea.

We are less than 3 years from Saturn meeting Pluto.  Right now Saturn is 21Sag and Pluto 17 Capricorn.  So every month the Moon lines up with marginalized Pluto just 2 days after meeting sober Saturn.  It also means Pluto rises every day less than 3 hours after Saturn.  The  punches of life's grim realities are coming closer as the 2020 meeting approaches.

I used to read about people in war zones and wonder how they could sanely survive under such chaos.  I wonder how I would survive, how I would stand up as a responsible citizen in such situations.  The one answer that often comes to me is that chaos does not errupt from out of the blue, unless we make a concerted effort to ignore its existence.

Revolutionary change is often near to hand and we naturally adjust to its approach as all life forms do.  Do we think of ourselves as Herculean individuals charged with Olympian tasks, or do we take time out, while we are able, to contemplate the waves of change that we fear or struggle to hasten.

Today's chart shows Saturn near the red Sagittarian arrow rising in Raleigh (left side of circle just below horizon) as the Moon meets Pluto. 

Saturn and Pluto would be lower in chart for western US location at same Greenwich Mean Time (Universal Time).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moon near Saturn

Can you feel in your inner world the Moon near Saturn today?  Last night I ducked committing to do a favor for a friend this morn.  I was concerned about getting enough rest before going to work this afternoon.

This morning I declined politely to contribute to the Democratic Party when a caller read her scripted appeal.

A new friend in Guerrero told me two weeks ago that she is despondent because she has no money to pay for removal of a cyst in her reproductive tract, and I was reminded of her when a relative here said she had just sent a bit of money to help out.  My only response at the time of the friend's cry for mercy was, "I am so sorry for your worries! That sounds terrible!"  And, as we said good night, ending our text exchange, "I hope you are able to get a good night's rest and feel stronger in the morn to face this challenge."

She felt despondent she said, because there was no money and noone she could turn to for help.  I did not take the opportunity to help in response to such an obvious appeal.

I'm putting the chart for the moment two weeks ago when my new friend sent the text that she was "un poco mal."  The Moon had just entered Saturn's 7th house, or Saturn's house of partnership.  Many astrologers would say the Moon was in opposition to Saturn, which to me highlights the difficult nature of partnership.  I like to use the word fulfillment; when a planet crosses the half way point in its cycle between meetings with a slower body, it is the time of harvest in the cycle of gestation, fruition, decay and rebirth.

Fulfillment of the Saturn mandate is not the miracle of fishes and loaves.  Saturn is forbidding father time, so its fulfillment is not as florid as, say Jupiter's or Venus's.  Fulfillment of Saturn is more like the inevitable effect coming from the limiting cause, or as modern educators say, 'consequence.'  When a child does not finish assigned homework and must complete the task during recess it is called a consequence.

This afternoon I go to clean for my ex husband.  It is always a bitter sweet day when I am in his home.  I treasure my time in his space, surrounded by the objects that inhabit his quiet home life, but I must keep a strong faith in the path I have taken, to make a life apart from him, and not let my mind circle on questions of why I could not be happy in the marriage. 

The Moon is near Saturn.  Unconditional love which flows from  the soul is lined up in the sign of philosophy and music with the planet of  discipline.  My husband has a good stereo and a wonderful collection of music.

As soon as the friendly plumber comes, if he is able, to fix the outside faucet I will be off to clean for my Sagittarian dream guy. 

The cool thing about Sagittarians is that by the time they are thirty they have evolved into Capricorns.  The later they are born into Sagittarius the earlier the sobering transformation.  My husband is an excellent example, for a man who drinks as much beer as he does, he is very sober and values his integrity. 

Then too we are both nearly sixty, and he was born when the Sun was near the end of Sagittarius, so it has progressed (Sun progresses 1 degree per year) through Sagittarius and Capricorn and is now working its way through austere Aquarius.

So today the Moon renews its cycle with Saturn, a new chapter begins for the soul and the limits of existence under which it labors.  The second chart is for today.  The Moon is the crescent and will be visible in the chart near the symbol of the cross over the crescent.  The cross of existence means we can only be in one place at a time as long as we inhabit our respective individual bodies.  Saturn is the cross of existence over the crescent of the soul.

If the skies are clear tonight they will be visible in the middle of the sky soon after sunset- the little dot of distant time and the growing Moon.

One last note, sometimes I do remember the small, but not insignificant percentage of earth's population that lives in the Southern Hemisphere.  While we see Saturn low in the sign of the archer, they see it high in the sign Gemini (not same as constellations), so the soul for them meets discipline  in the sign of communication as opposed to philosophy.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sun Leads old Moon into Leo

Sun enters Leo 11:16am today (Raleigh, NC).  10:16am for our friends in Memphis, TN.  The invisible old Moon will be close behind, entering Leo at 4:34am Sunday.

Consulting our ancient mandala <<<click on link to go to zodiac mandala, locating Leo (bottom right), we see Sun rules in that sign.  While you are at the mandala take a look at Cancer on the bottom (just before Leo, going counter clockwise).  See the Moon listed as ruler of Cancer.The

So the Sun and Moon are coruling.  Ego and soul are both strong and working together.  But by Sun morn the power will not be shared so equally, for the Moon, while fun and inspiring in Leo is not in power.  These last 20 or so hours of the Moon in Cancer are like a period of nurturing preparation before the big event.

What big event?  The Sun meeting Mars in Leo.  The Sun meets Mars about every 26 months.  Each meeting happens about 2 signs further in the zodiac than the last.  For instance Sun met Mars in Aquarius during the period Hosni Mubarak was struggling to hold power in the face of thousands of protesters demanding his resignation in early Feb 2011. 

Sun is in its detriment in Aquarius.  Any planet opposite its ruling sign is in the weakest position to fulfill its mandate.  For example Venus, the planet of kindness, rules in Libra and is in detriment in Aries.  List showing planets in detriment.  <<Click on link and scroll down to 2nd list.  The list is just a more explicit rundown of rulership/detriment info in zodiac mandala.

So the big light of everyone's life ceded power to the military when Sun met Mars in Aquarius. Two years and 2 months later Sun met Mars in Aries during the hunt for the bombers of the Boston Marathon.  Sun was 31 minutes behind Mars the moment of first explosion and was overtaking Mars during the hunt.  When the surviving brother was captured the Sun was 24 minutes ahead of Mars.
The last meeting, in Gemini in 2015 was June 17 marked by the Charleston  Church shooting.  A young man sat in the evening congregation, passing himself off as a fellow worshipper, and then pulled out his automatic handgun and killed 9 people.  Sun was 56 minutes ahead of Mars at the moment of the shooting.

This time they meet July 26 at 4 Leo.  The closest lineup is 00:57 (July 27) Universal Time which translates to 8:57pm July 26 in  Raleigh.

Please, please use this information only as a launch for meditating on the inevitability of violence.  We consume a variety of life forms  every day, people are dying violent deaths every day.  When the Sun meets Mars it just is a matter of ego and will coming together.  We are here to learn how to control ourselves while living among others, some with more self control set good examples and bring stability, others with less self control give us opportunities to control ourselves in the face of challenge.   

The above examples are hard-to-ignore dramatic events, but there is also a story that was unfolding in each of our lives.  Can you recall something about your life during past Sun Mars meetings.  It is a revealing meditation to cycle through the dates of Sun Mars meetings and recall events in your life.  Surprising and enlightning story lines emerge and your sense of your own history takes on a more organized and forgiven theme.

One last note; while the last three meetups were marked by dramatic events, I don't see a comparable event for the Sun Mars conjunction in Aug 10, 2002.  That's the most recent conjunction occurring in the sign Leo.  Things were calmer then compared to the last 6 years of Uranus in Aries.  Still if you can recall what was going on in your life in late summer 2002 you can get an idea of how the ego is becoming more determined to have fun or get its way in a relatively controlled environment.  Now transfer that determination to express yourself in the relative calm of 2002 to the protracted explosion of 2017. Another difference in this meetup is that the lead time was mostly in Cancer, we only now see the Sun entering Leo in the last 4 days before the meeting.  In 2002 the Sun was in Leo, therefor ruling, for 17 days before meeting the martial planet.

The first chart for today shows Sun entering Leo and Moon at 19 Cancer.  You can see Sun a few degrees behind Mars. 

The Sun and Mars will be lined up July 26 8:57pm EDT

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Observing Line up of Sun with Mars

I've been reading the histories of Polybiius (Punic Wars around 250bc-lots of battles at sea and on land between Rome and Carthage) and watching the Sun gradually catching up to Mars.  Right now, while the Sun is in the way, we can only know where Mars is by reading charts and following the numbers that gauge its progress around the ecliptic.  I have mentioned before, this is the kind of knowing Plato (writing about a century before Punic Wars) was trying to foster in so many of his writings.  Going beyond the limits of the senses to the spiritual - we can't know Mar's whereabouts through the senses only, but must exercise our minds to deduce its location.  This 'knowing' came to be celebrated as a cult in later centuries, called Gnosticism.  

It wasn't popular in Plato's time though, which had a little, but not all, to do with the trial and execution of his teacher, Socrates. This form of knowing only became popular in the west long after Plato was writing.  By the time this form of knowing became an entrenched social movement scant few followers had access to the actual writing of Plato, much less knowledge of the cycles of the planets. The Macedonian Hellenistic empire that followed Plato's times had long since given way to the Romans and the Romans in turn were falling to the Goths. 

I have read  that Augustine of Hippo (writing around 400ad) never learned Greek though he wanted to, and that he originally had great hopes of learning about the lunar eclipse cycle from the Manichean Faustus.  Faustus had a big reputation and Augustine was told by many, "that's the man you want to meet, he'll be able to tell you everything you want to know."   Pardon the quotes, don't mean to be misleading about rigorous documentation, especially regarding the famous figure {who came to be 'known' in German legend as a magician in league with the devil.}  The statement in brackets is based on a wikipedia paragraph suggesting  the original Faust, behind the German legend, was the Manichean Augustine debated in Contra Faustum.  That paragraph and link has been deleted.  There is now a link to an article about  Johann  Faust born around 1480.

Sorry for the confusion!  

Well, apparently Faustus did not know much of anything about planetary cycles.  He was just a charismatic guy who knew a minimum about astronomy/astrology and preached a rather forbidding path to salvation.  Augustine ended up publishing responses to counter the preachings of Faustus around the time Rome was succumbing to the invading Gothic warriors.  Augustine espoused a message of inclusion and forgiveness and pointed out how the pacifist impoverished Christians were the only ones spared by the  invaders.

Faustus was not a Gnostic, his learning originated further to the east than the teachings handed down from Plato.  My point here is that by the time of Rome's fall and the subsequent rise of Christianity, few people in that area of the world had access to good information about planetary cycles.  Gnosticism was a faint shadow of the kind of knowledge advocated by Plato. 

I try to understand the rise of Christianity in the context of history, it helps me understand the changing fortunes of astrology (ha ha).

Well this morning I was taking a break from Polybius and the ascent of the Romans and meditating on the soul.  I recalled that it was in the context of talking about the soull that I first heard of Plato in elementary school.  The nuns were fond of talking about the soul, the ones at my school were from the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Maybe that's a more philosophical order than some others.  They wore the complete habit back in those days with the rigid bib and triangle head thing atop a complete face encircling enclosure.  It was like their whole head waa encased in a special white wrap of thick linen. A white frame rose from that wrap to form a slightly concave platform just a few inches above the head, and yards of black silky fabric was draped in layers over the whole set up.  When they weren't teaching in the class, or playing with the children at recess, or chatting among themselves, they could be seen touching the beads on the rosary that hung from the waist.
That was my first exposure to women meditating in moments between interactions with others.

My reverie of nuns and philosophy of the soul led to Socrates and his trial.  I could only find the year, not the month or day  he drank the tea.  Then I went back to the year of the Thirty Tyrants.  With the financial backing of Cyrus the Younger, Spartan warriors got the better of Athens and Sparta installed a group of thirty men to govern the famously democratic city. Their brief and bloody rulership came to be known as The Thirty Tyrants and lasted from the end of 404B.C. to the beginning of 403B.C..

The chart is for the beginning of 403bc when a group of Greek exiles were organizing the battle to overthrow the Spartan sponsored group of tyrants.

The first thing that got my attention was Uranus meeting Neptune which happens about once every 150 years.  If you take a minute or two to examine the chart you will notice another historic lineup -Jupiter and Saturn in Libra.  That meet up of Uranus and Neptune is a much bigger deal, but the Jupiter Saturn meeting adds interest to an already rare occasion.

I guess that's enough from me today.  It is dark now and the skies are clear.  I have a date with a beginner's telescope and the dark side of heaven.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Splitting Albireo

I saw my first double star last night through a beginners' telescope handed down to me from a customer.  I'm not absolutely positive of the 4:46 time.  I know Venus was up fairly high because I had been looking at it and Aldebaran when I swung the scope around to the west and remembered a Raleigh Astronomy Club member showing me Alberio in his telescope.  What looked through my binoculars like a generic white star, appeared as two stars, one faint white and another, clearly separated by a couple millimeters, fainter and very blue.  It was really cool to get it in the field of view and see the pair again.

Earlier, around 1:20 or later am, I had been looking at the late rising Moon, Vega and a couple other stars in Lyra.

Every time I managed to aim the scope at an objective and get a clear magnified view I became more confident and eager to see something else through the magic tube. 

When I remembered Alberio and got that I started to send an email to the RAC member who helped and encouraged me on my first observation outing.  It was a real thrill which I knew he would be pleased to hear about.  Instead I made a chart and will save the memory to tell him the next time we see each other at a club meeting.

I really like the group of people.  Their love of astronomy and committment to forming a welcoming community  is infectious. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Faulkner: The Goodwill of a Libra Author

I am reading Faulkner's Go Down Moses, with help from shmoop and wikipedia sorting out the many generations of characters.  I have read A Light in August, and The Unvanquished.  I am gaining realization of how kindly he saw every one of his characters- not a one, no matter how despicable their actions, is porytayed as any creature less than deserving of understanding.

I just looked up his chart and was not surprised to see Sun and Mars in Libra in the house of communication.  That Venus at the very end of Leo, and following a studious pack of planets in Virgo, reminds me of his wonderfully understated sense of humor.

And Saturn in that tight lineup with Uranus in Scorpio - what an excellent, revolutionary and at the same time very sobering portrayal of corrupted lives, exploring how they arrived at their corrupted state their struggle is as noble as that of the uncorrupted.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Difference Between Ram and Bull

I often wonder about difference between Ram (Aries) and Bull (Taurus) mascots in zodiac.  This morning I googled it and this is the first video that came up.
Ram vs Bull

This second one is 6 minutes longer with a more nuanced view of the relationship.
Bull Fights Ram

Venus just entered Taurus this morn after a long slog through Aries.  At last the planet of kindness is in the sign of perseverance and so ruling.

The chart for Sat night attacks on people on and around London Bridge shows Saturn not just rising but crossing the AC, as in entering the last house of fate from the first house of action.  Venus was lined up with Uranus in Aries...... the planet of revolution is in the final year of its explosive journey- through a spring that has almost 80 years of stored experience to release in its 7 year trajectory.

Kindness was not ruling on Saturday, but it was accompanying the blazing rocket hurtling through the high energy section of its expanded orbit.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Venus meeting Uranus

I just have to get this down.  I am thoroughly enjoying the Venus Uranus conjunction especially today with Moon lined up qith Jupiter.

My friend Renee from poetry days (actually Thurs nights) long ago (ac tually around 1985, 86) moved in a few weeks ago.  She teaches reading at the local school for the blind.

Last weekend we went to Rocky Mount to visit crippled Billy and got permission to take him for a car ride!!!  Big surprise.

Now today I find myself studying the braille alphabet and just trying to figure out how blind people get along in the digital age.  I am coming up with questions for Renee as I wonder about things.

A little post script.....this is one of the sites I landed on during my adventures.   Blindsided Movie Reviews

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Horse's Mouth

I am at that customer's house again, loafing after doing a bit of yard work, and picked up Newton's Principia again.  Here is yet another quote from the pen of a revered philosopher of nature that contradicts the thousands of authoritive declarations in modern science literature indicating that the ancients thought the Sun went around Earth.

Someone is mistaken in their history of so called science, and since I have read Plato's Timeaus I am inclined to take Newton's word over the multitude of modern authorities.

The matter of the heavens is fluid.

It was the ancient opinion of not a few, in the earliest ages of philosophy, that the fixed stars stood inmovable in the highest parts of the world; that under the fixed stars the planets were carried about the sun; that the earth, as one of the planets, drscribed an annual course about the sun, while by a diurnal motion it was in the meantime revolved about its own axis; and that the sun as the common fire which served to warm the whole, was fixed at the center of the universe.

This was the philosophy taught of old by Philolaus, Aristarchus of Samos, Plato in his riper years, and the whole set of the Pythagoreans; and this was the judgment of Anaximander, more ancient still..."

Oh, it is beautiful passage.  His remarks about the Greeks, Chaldeans and Egyptians are not to be missed.  The difference (to me) is staggering, between what the old philosophers wrote and what authoritative sources repeat about them. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I learned a new expression just in time to use it to describe Mercury stationed with Uranus in Aries--savage.  Miguel was pissed at his dad for leaving them, Nati and the two boys, at the store.  I was pissed at having to give them a ride.  But I got a kick out of their definition of savage.  Alfredo said, "If a kid does something bad and the teacher flips their card- that's savage."

"No!" Miguel elaborated, "if a kid does something bad and the teacher flips their card, and they say "I don't care"...THAT'S savage."

I also got a great description of a guy driving through the WalMart parking lot (this is not product placement- it is real life) boppin his dreaded head to the music on his stereo and sayin "Yeah, it's the weekend!"  Even though their dad was in the savage dog house they had fun talking about the happy dude in his car. 

Wiped my savage away.

Ahh, Moicurey you little devil you!  It finally passed Uranus at 1:11 this morn.  My son was packing for a morning flight to Key West - he finally found a job he wants and was really happy to be clearing out of town for a while.

Ahh!  Peace and quiet now.  But Mercury still has a week left in Aries and even then, when it crosses into the Taurus early breaking region, Venus will still be gliding ever so slowly through crisis ridden, exciting yes....but not peaceful, Aries.  

I am on the couch with today and tomorrow off!  My study topic for this last station turned out to be currency -- I got a stack of Wall Street Journals from a customer and the financial section is like Greek to me.  Last night while my son was packing I was reading wiki articles about fiat money and the history of central banks.

And Hindi, I found a cool site that teaches Hindi to beginners today.  You won't believe this, but it's a fact, I did not know 'namaste' is Hindi for 'hello.'  I thought it was just a word used in ashrams or churches.  Nope, that's how they say hello.  I'm amazed.

Mercury is, I would say, in second gear now and will take about a week to shift into third.  It's a five speed little sportster.  It went 27 minutes yesterday,  goes 30 today and will cover 35 tomorrow.   That's an average acceleration of 4 minutes/day/day.  By the time it gets up to fifrh gear it will be on the far side of the Sun and accelerating about 10 minutes/day/day.  Its velocity by then will be over 2 degrees 10 minutes/day, more than 4 times as fast as we 'see' it moving now.

Of course we rarely actually see it with our eyes, we can only track it through super sensory perception, as Rudolf Steiner called it, meaning we have to use memory and intellect, above and beyond sensory experience to know where the little cattle theif is, much less which way it's going.  We have to follow the few light impressions it leaves, like a humter following deer tracks across rivers and through deep brush, and use our wits to figure out where it is.  That's spirituality.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Favorite Sources of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

In the last post I resisted the urge to look up a quote I made from the Yoga Sutras.  (Trying to reduce time spent composing posts) Of course I had to look it up afterwards, which lead to discovery of a revered commentator on the sutras. 

So today I'm taking time to write about my favorite sources for studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and then will finish by clarifying the quote in the previous post.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with Translation and Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda:

My first source is a skinny book I spied in the library stacks on my way to the elevator.  I was checking out a book on the Rig Vedas which turned out to be way over my head.  I had never heard of the yoga sutras, but the same customer who inspired me to look up the Rig Vedas turned out to have a different version of the sutras.  The one I found was a translation with commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda.  Some of his American disciples had recorded his talks about the sutras and made a book of them in 1978.

Satchidananda's commentary is a bit like yoga for dummies, I took to it like a cheap bottle of ammonia, using it on all my dirty mind's splotches.  Amazing stuff I thought, and marveled that it had been so readily available all my life.

After a year or two studying Satchidananda's little paperback (I eventually purchased my own used copy) I got to wondering what the words in sanskrit sounded like.  The Satchidananda book has each sutra written first in Sanskrit, followed by a phonetic spelling of the Sanskrit in English, then a fairly literal English interpretation of the Sanskrit.  All sutras from the first two chapters had, in addition to the translation, a page or two of commentary about what the individual sutra meant in the context of the whole collection.

It's not at all complicated as I make it seem; the back cover calls Swami's advice practical and down-to-earth and I wholeheartedly agree.  There's also a handy glossary and index in the back and some helpful info about pronunciation.  That book effectively communicated yoga's all encompassing depth of wisdom to me.  But eventually I wanted to hear the sutras.

Dr. Katy Poole video of chanting the first three sutras:

My search for the sound of the sutras landed at SanskritForYoga by Dr. Katy Poole.  This is a link to the video which introduces the First Three Sutras.

Kofi Busia (audio): chanting all four chapters of yoga sutras:

Once I got those first 3 down I went off in the interwebs to search for more.  The result was and here is a link to his text version of the first chapter.  He has a link at the top right for the audio.  Eventually I recorded the file for chapter 1 on my little digital voice recorder (aka dvr) and discovered a more handy method of playing them.  I put index stops in the file so I can jump right to the sutra i'm currently trying to memorize.

I like the large font for the devanagari script on the kofibusia site.  (I think Devanegari is the name of the letters used to write Sanskrit) Big letters aren't just for kindergartners, I often wished for a set of placards with each letter to hang around the walls of my study.

Hindibhasha site for learning Devanagari script:

There is a site called that has  assembled all the characters according to vowels, consonants etc with clickable files for sound and basics about the character.  I can't use it on my phone since it doesn't have flash. It is a fun way to learn the script used to write the sutras.  Nowadays, I use the wikipedia article on Devanagari.  It is nowhere near as fun as the hindi bhasha site but it does have more extensive info. extensive translation and commentary of sutras:

The last source is one I keep open in the list of pages on my phone's browser in addition to the kofibusia page.  I go to the kofibusia page when I just need  a quick look at a sutra I can't quite remember.  When I want a word-for-word translation I go to  I put another link to swamij at the very bottom of this post.  I picked the page for sutras 2.26-2.29 because it includes the sutra I thought I was quoting in my last post.

This brings us to the promised clarification.  In my last post I  mentioned a sutra listing an 'end of desire to know anything' as one of the symptoms of liberation.

I thought it was the sutra that indicated an end of desire to know anything, but the sutra only alludes to the seven insights without actually naming them.  Swami Satchidananda (book) lists the seven insights in brackets with the translation of the sutra:
27. Tashya=his; saphada=sevenfold; prantabhumi=in the final stage; prajna=wisdom.

One's wisdom in the final stage is sevenfold. [One experiences the end of 1) desire to know anything more; 2) desire to stay away from anything; 3) desire to gain anything new; 4) desire to do anything; 5) sorrow; 6) fear; 7) delusion.]

Comparing the above translation (which does not include the beautiful commentary by Swami Satchidananda) to the translation by we get introduced to the commentary of Vhyasa as a source of the specific insights.  Below is the paragraph by Swami Jnaneshvara with the list (copied straight from

"Seven types of insight: The commentator Vyasa describes these seven insights briefly. It is important to understand that the insights are meant to be indicative of the final stages of discriminative knowledge, not that these are to serve as a checklist, or goals of powers to attain. These seven are a reflection of the consequences from the whole process of Yoga described in the Yoga Sutras

1. The deep inner sources of future suffering, which would have played out as karma, have been identified, and the mind is no longer drawn towards those thought patterns.

2. The root causes or deep impressions providing the potential for that karma to play out have been removed, with nothing more needing to be done with them.

3. Through the mastery (nirodhah) attained by deep absorption (samadhi), the wisdom of realization has been attained.

4. Discrimination has brought sufficient discriminative knowledge that nothing further remains about which to inquire.

5. Buddhi, the higher discriminative aspect, has fulfilled its purpose and stands alone, with nothing more to do.

6. The activities of buddhi, no longer needed, come to rest as a stone, which has rolled down a mountain, having no need to arise again.

7. Pure consciousness, Purusha, stands alone, in its true, eternal Self."

That's my rundown on my favorite sources for studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 

Here is the link to page with Seven Types of Insight. Chapter One: Sutra 27

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Moon Leaving Pluto in Capricorn

When I started the Our Sky fb group a few years ago I imagined it as a source of support for days like today.  My Capricorn friends were having their Pluto transits and I wanted them to have a place to talk about that.

Well, so far it has seemed like a waste of time.  I realized almost immediately how little my friends knew about astrology and got right down to business giving them a good education.  In the process I learned a lot that never was covered in all the astrology books i've studied over the years.  If I hadn't learned so much I really would consider all this effort to have been wasted.  None of my Capricorn friends have any idea how Pluto is associated with the loss of innocence they've experienced in the last few years.  So far I have failed as a community educator.

That may sound depressing, but these are the kind of thoughts that go with the end of a long Moon meets Pluto day.  And today was a doozy.  The only thing I had going for me was serious sobriety.  I never thought turning away from social interaction would be the most important step in finding what I wanted, but it worked like magic.

Today I thought of Frankenstein's monster.  I was trying to describe the feeling I get almost every time the Moon comes around to Pluto and Mary Shelly's character was the closest I could come.  More like a third or fourth generation.  I imagined instead of suicide he had found another monster, a female created by some other ambitious doctor of science, and they had made love and bred. 

When that exiled frame of mind associated with Pluto comes over me I wonder if anyone else feels it on these Moon and Pluto days.  I feel grateful for astrology and the knowledge of the planetary cycles.  I feel grateful for preceding generations that have cleared a path to the present.  I never occurs to me that I could curse them for my miserable monstrous existence.  I know in a matter of days, well right now more like a couple of weeks, the Moon will line up with Jupiter and my soul will come so close to leaving my body that it will feel like i'm gliding over Raleigh suspended from a high tech balloon.

Tonight, as I came up from the Plutonian depths of the day, my mind came back to the yoga sutras.  The one that surfaced in my mind is from the second or third "pada" which I think is kind of like chapter.  It's one of the sutras that gives some idea of what it will be like when the aspirant reaches liberation.  Kind of like symptoms, but in this case of freedom rather than pathology.  It says there will be no more desire to know anything.  There are a couple other desires that finally burn away, but that one about knowing things is a hard one to imagine.

That's right, another one is no desire to avoid things.....I  am NOT going to look it up. 

&   *   &   *   &   *   &   *   &

I joined the local astronomy club.  When I volunteered for an event I was paired with a guy who does chemistry for a living.  He showed me a spectro, the gizmo they put on telescopes to get those beautiful bars of color all broken down into hundreds of little lines.  I asked him questions about things I could not understand in science and wished I could stay an extra shift just to learn more from someone with good answers.  I really wanted to know.

An astrologer is supposed to know about heaven, which covers a lot of territory.  I usually tell myself it is ok to study because people will have the same questions I have and will be grateful and happy to pay for good answers.  But today the sense of despair, as the Moon moved into Pluto's first house, got pretty intense.  At one point, near the end of cleaning a house I thought I should just give up in making a living as an astrologer.  There are so many reasons not to engage in the practice and they are just as good as the ones for pursuing it.  As the thought to give up flashed through my mind the knowledge of the Moon's position followed.  I was in my car, I breathed a relaxed sigh in the warm sunlit front seat.  I started up the car.  I looked to see if anyone was coming and pulled out into the street.  I was on my way home, where I am now.

Yesterday, or maybe Sunday, I spent at least half an hour, at least, I love playing with the numbers, figuring out when Pluto would stand still and when Mercury would over take Earth on the inside lane.  Today Pluto moved less than two seconds along the ecliptic.  It is in the same degree and minute as yesterday and will remain there through the next few days.  Venus is still going extremely slow, its motion is like a plane that seems not to ne moving because of the angle of its path.  I love knowing these things, looking at the numbers that barely change before and after I struggle with these thoughts that seem to hang on to the walls of my mind like Frankenstein's monster listening to the people talking in the blind man's humble abode.

This need, this drive to bring the monster into the fold.  I really love knowing the Moon is passing Pluto when that feeling comes over me.  I'm no where near liberation but there's plenty of time.