Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The generational planets- history repeats itself

By and large, one of the driving themes of Astrology is the idea that life functions in cycles, and that through these cycles we learn and grow. The planets from Saturn inwards to the Sun tend to complete their cycles within our lifetimes- giving us the opportunity to experience how they effect all the parts of our lives as they pass through our individual charts, and what happens when the cycle starts over (the planet's "return").
"Don't make me repeat myself."

In contrast, the planets beyond Saturn (Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto) move so slowly that their effects tend to be felt by generations and societies, effecting long-term and widespread trends in how people react, relate and work with one another. A couple of my earlier posts were about the astrological trends that different generations share. In this post, I have a list of events happening in the next couple months dealing with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto- and what happened last time these planets were in this position.

They say history works in cycles- so does astrology. It's always surprising what themes you can learn from the past- and right now there's a ton:

Trans-Saturnian planets were unknown to ancient people, and were only discovered within the past few centuries. The time period of their discoveries tend to correspond to the attributes ruled by each planet, as has been determined in the time since their discovery.

Uranus (Gr: Prometheus, gave fire to humanity)- Discovered Mar 13, 1781

-Mar 12, 2011 – moves into Aries

- Uranus brings shocking, sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary change in an unpredictable way

- Uranus into Aries (the beginning of the Zodiac) brings a new cycle of “change” in the world. No coincidence that Obama’s campaign slogan was “Change”

- Uranus last entered Aries in 1928- just prior to the Great Depression (change) as well as the FDR’s “New Deal”, which was at the time controversially socialistic and unique. Around the world, technological revolutions and governmental changes began to take place. Revolutions in agriculture, society, etc. were commonplace. Then we had WWII- when the revolutionary changes at breakneck pace in disparate nations finally butted heads

What if… Revolutions in green agriculture? Do-it-yourself culture takes off in new way? Revolutions in society? Worker equality?

Neptune (Gr: Poseidon, God of the Sea)- Discovered Sep. 23, 1846

- April 4, 2011 – moves into Pisces.

- Neptune dissolves the physical world wherever it touches. It represents changes in consciousness, which can include idealism, spirituality, creativity, delusion, confusion, drugs and alcohol.

- Pisces is ruled by Neptune, and is a sign typically associated with empathy and compassion as well as confusion. Neptune last entered Pisces in 1847- A year later the Communist Manifesto (compassion and idealism) was published. Impressionist painters flourished (and drank a lot of Absinthe). Opium came into use, Darwin’s theories “dissolved” the old structure of Christian theological doctrine, and Anesthetic (compassion + drugs) began to be used in hospitals.

What if… Medical Marijuana? New philosophies about people and society? New drugs or vices? New discoveries in science that question religion (… or new discoveries in religion that question science?)

Pluto (Gr: Hades, God of the Underworld)- Discovered Feb 18, 1930

- Moved into Capricorn already

- Pluto is deep, underlying power struggle and change. While Uranus changes like a bolt of lightning, and Neptune dissolves like a wave, Pluto builds like an earthquake and breaks down structure to build new ones in its place. It rules necessary change and uncomfortable healing.

- Pluto was last in Capricorn from 1762 to 1779- A time of tumultuous breaking down of power structures (British rule over the colonies) to make necessary change. Pluto in Capricorn will be a time of power struggle.

What if… Poor countries fight back against rich countries? Changes to corporate society? Great changes in culture, society… re-opening old injuries to heal correctly?

That about covers a lot of the major themes. I know "times they are a'changing" is a slight cliche these days, but it really holds true. Get ready for an eventful 2011...

Gruit Ale update

Hello everyone- time for a quick update on the Gruit Ale process. I brewed the Gruit Ale several days ago, using dark dry malt extract, rehydrated dry brewer's yeast, and these herbs:
Sweet Gale (2 grams)
Mugwort (1/5 oz)
Yarrow (1/5 oz)
- to make a gallon size batch.
And after 5 days of fermenting, it stabilized at about 6% alcohol content. Time to transfer over to the gallon jug to dry "hop" ("dry hopping" is the term for letting hops sit in the beer as it ages, before bottling, to provide aroma and richness without adding bitterness). Here's a picture of the
primary fermenter next to the herbs sitting in the jug. I used a little bit of mugwort and yarrow, along with a hefty scoop of our Saturnian herb, Wintergreen:

After getting the herbs in there, I slowly transferred the beer into the jug. Now the herbs will steep while the beer ages and gets nice and rich- a few weeks.

Assuming nothing gets contaminated, the beer should mature into a rich, malty concoction with unique herbal notes and a slightly minty aroma. Expect an update when it's time to bottle!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A winter solstice project: Gruit Ale

I've fallen a bit behind in my Celebrity Sun Sign Series the past month or so. I've stayed busy with alot of other pursuits- both practicing and discussing friends and coworkers' natal charts, and trying to study more myself (to avoid making any foot-in-mouth statements on here, I hope!). I've also studied more about the history of beer.

Did you know that beer wasn't always made with hops? Prior to 1400 AD or so, hops were relatively uncommon in beer, or if present were often part of a widely-varied herbal mixture known as Gruit.
Hops, in beer, provides three important components: Aroma (nice, but not necessary), Flavor (more important), and preservation (essential in the grimy, fridge-less middle ages). In modern, pasteurized beer, hops is really only essential for aroma and flavor. Back in the day, however (and in the present amongst home-brewers and unpasteurized beers), hops and the essential oils contained therein help preserve beer and protect it from contamination. Hops contain alpha acids, which help combat microbial development and deter wild yeast formation. Hops also have a sedative effect.

Brewers before 1400 desired these same 3 qualities that hops provide today. They sought this combination through a mixture of herbs, some of which are still quite common today (while some of which you'd have to drive to Quebec or Scotland to get a hold of). This mixture varied from area to area, but traditionally contained:

Bog Myrtle (aka Sweet Gale)- a bittering, antiseptic herb with a mild narcotic effect
Wild Rosemary - an aromatic, antiseptic herb with therapeutic aspects
Yarrow- a sweet, aromatic herb with stimulant and healing properties, used in traditional medicine globally

Other common additions:
Mugwort- a sweet, slightly bittering herb known for promoting restful sleep and intense dreams
Wormwood- a profoundly bitter, antiseptic herb best known as a component of Absinth
Heather- An herb used in ale by the Celts since antiquity
and whatever other astringent green things happened to be lying around (from spruce branches to bacteria)

(Keira Knightley as a Woad. As in "Woadude, what is she wearing?" The Picts (proto-scots) were known to paint themselves with woad, and use heather in their ale)

As my Belgian Dubbel nears completion of its bottling phase, I figure there's enough warm weather this week to squeeze in one last brew for the year- a Winter Solstice Ale made without hops, using a traditional gruit combination.

I thought about how to link it with astrology. Well, the winter solstice is on the 21st, the day before the sun enters Capricorn. This time is also the traditional week of celebration of the Greco-Roman Saturnalia. And what other planet/God happens to be the rule of Capricorn then- Saturn?
Saturn is associated with control, the lessons of time, ambition and karma. Interestingly enough, in ancient celebrations of Saturnalia, roman slaves and their masters were said to trade places temporarily (a very poignant twist of Saturn's theme of control...). Throughout the northern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year has social and spiritual importance in many areas of life. To celebrate, I decided to add one of the herbs ruled by Saturn to the gruit shopping list:

Just kidding. Henbane, though used to make a probably quite dangerously narcotic beer in the middle ages, is exceptionally poisonous and should not be ingested.
I'm gonna try Wintergreen. A small amount of this should just add a little excitement to the flavor of the gruit and pay a little homage to Saturn in the process.

Expect pictures and updates in the days ahead!