Friday, January 21, 2011

The day before Jupiter moves into Aries

Partially for fear of copyright problems, partially because I love Windows Paint and always will,
I bring you Drunken Astrology homebrewed artwork.

There's quite a bit of information out there about Jupiter moving into Aries. Moving from Pisces to Aries is a monumental transition in the Zodiac- Aries is the beginning of the circle, the Aries Point, the first degree. Pisces is mutable water, Aries is cardinal fire. Pisces is sometimes labeled as a martyr sign, while Aries is labeled as the brash, reckless pioneer. Jupiter is the "greater benefic" of ancient times, the sign of expansion, generosity, optimism and justice. Jupiter is typically not associated with generational trends- it has a pretty snappy 12 year orbit. The general rule with Jupiter is that it expands whatever it touches. This is not necessarily always a good thing. Limitations and reality checks (usually applied by something like Saturn) rain on the parade of pioneering, expanding energy that is Jupiter. However, without such limitations, things can expand out of control.

The unique aspect in the sky right now is Jupiter conjunct Uranus. Let me tell you, the club can't even handle Uranus right now. I see Uranus conjunct Jupiter as Mario eating a mushroom- all of a sudden he grows, and suddenly feels invincible and throws fireballs. The "fireballs" are gonna come from fiery Aries, first as Jupiter moves into Aries and then as Uranus follows suit in March. Uranus and Jupiter conjunct and then moving into Aries is an indicator of increased freedom, challenges to current power systems, and new ideas and creative developments. It's a call to action. You may recall that, during the Cardinal T-Square this past August, both of these planets were retrograde- turned around, driven into a more introspective state. Now they're full-speed ahead.

We do have the opportunity today, however, to look at the anaretic degree through which Jupiter is passing. Now I must give credit to my Mother, Nikki Davenport, who was the first person I heard use the idea of the anaretic degree, and I feel it's a very strong point. The anaretic degree is the last degree of a sign (29 degrees). It is a powerful culminating point for the energy of the sign, a critical and potentially uncomfortable point of increased energy. It demands attention in relation to the energies of the sign, almost (as I see it) one last chance to make sure you're all packed before moving to the next sign. Symbolically speaking, I feel that this is a particularly challenging demand in Pisces, where Jupiter is currently at.

Pisces, ruled by the dissolving waters of Neptune, does not provide the clear, cut-and-dried information and development provided by other signs (ask any Pisces who's trying to explain something clearly and is accused of being too "vague"...). The challenge of Pisces is that it opens (well, maybe washes away) the door to the metaphysical world, and it's not completely clear. In fact, the metaphysical waters can be awfully misleading. This is how Pisces can be associated with both spiritual insight and substance abuse. So, the challenge with "packing our bags" at 29 degrees of Pisces is that what we take with us and what we leave behind aren't going to be entirely clear. Gemini might have a nice list of what we have and what's still available to grab, Capricorn might have everything sorted and organized. But Pisces? It's just a mist, or a deep pool. We have to use our intuition to reach in and feel what we need to take with us into Aries.

So what can we intuitively take with us from Jupiter in Pisces today? More than anything, I would say compassion. Jupiter in Pisces expands our sympathy (perhaps for many empathy) for others. We can feel others more as Jupiter moves through Pisces, and in entering fiery Aries (which by nature cannot function if it concentrates on Piscean compassion) we need that empathy in our suitcases. As Jupiter and Uranus move into Aries, worldwide change may also get alot more physical. The line between Pisces and Aries is associated with the Ascendant of the chart, the beginning, the point of physical manifestation. This is a day to feel the expansion of our intuition, our global awareness, and our ability to sacrifice for the good of others. This global, compassionate intuition is what we need to reach through and grab out of the mist to take with us as Jupiter pulls us into Aries.

What should we leave behind? Well, this would be a good day to achieve a more responsible handle on any sort of alcohol* or drug use that's been challenging of late. Leave behind the fear that what you're working on may not manifest physically. Leave behind the comfort zone of mental retreat that Jupiter may have helped you build (I know I have one.) That's not to say don't meditate, don't introspect, don't go to that quiet place where you feel re-energized and renewed (do it, especially today). Just don't let yourself get stuck in your own head, especially with all the things in the world that are changing as Jupiter prepares to burst forth into Aries. Don't be afraid of taking action.

I love the Sabian Symbols. I can't remember if I've talked about them before. They are a list of images described through a series of channeled messages that took place in Balboa Park, San Diego in the early 20th century. Each degree of the zodiac received an image describing its importance through a particular image or symbol. They may seem frustratingly cryptic, but can be interpreted and applied to many things. They even mean different things to different people, but their significance can be helpful in interpreting astrological points. You always round up for the Sabian symbols, so we would look at 0 degrees of Aries for Jupiter today (at 29 degrees of Pisces). I included the symbol before as well, because I think both are important. Here's how I interpret them for the Jupiter ingress tomorrow:

29-30 Pisces: "A majestic rock formation resembling a face is idealized by a boy who takes it as his ideal of greatness, and as he grows up, begins to look like it."

This is one of my favorite symbols. It reminds me of Michelangelo, who they say had such a strong power of visualization that he saw his artwork in the rock upon which he worked, and simply freed it from the surrounding slab. Likewise, the 29th degree of Pisces represents the open door of visualization. When we are sensitive (like the young boy in the symbol), we can plant the seeds of what we want to manifest, whatever it may be. As we hold onto those seeds, the grow develop, to the point that we actually become the foundation that we have planted for ourselves. We have the opportunity to identify with that intuition, compassion and service and become those things.

0-1 Aries: "A woman just risen from the sea; a seal is embracing her."

From the watery depths of the Piscean sea, we burst forward into the real world. But we still have the knowledge and experience from that intuitive passage through the waters of Pisces (perhaps embodied by the seal). We are equipped, in this fresh start and point of manifestation, to use embrace we know and perceive.

What happened when Jupiter last popped into Aries? Well, it moved in for a few months this past summer. Though brief (it went retrograde and returned to Pisces, the moved forward again and is about to return), think about this summer and changes you saw or felt. Full speed ahead this time!

*by no means should we not indulge in a responsible amount of tall, frosty brew. Pisces is often associated with the adult beverage industry- and I've learned alot about beer that I'm hoping (hop-ing?) to keep sharing with you guys!

Keep checking back everyone, I got a bunch of stuff in the works- peak oil, the astrology of the world's beer regions, and Chiron.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ophiuchus- the 13th Zodiac Sign astrologers already knew about

Forgive my quick reaction to the news:

A lot of you Sagittarians out there may be a little concerned about the "news" that there is a 13th Zodiac sign called Ophiuchus. Don't worry too much just yet!

This astronomer, Parke Kunkle, is just stirring up excitement and getting attention by proposing that our Zodiac is out of date and missing a sign. This, however, is nothing new, and I am adamant that this gentleman not take credit for something that astronomers and astrologers alike have studied for thousands of years. It's called the Procession of the Equinoxes.

The western zodiac was developed in ancient times in relation to where the chief constellations (or signs as we know them) were located in relation to the equinoxes and solstices of the year. Aries is associated with the spring equinox, Libra with the fall equinox, and everything else falls in between. This is the system that has been used, and continues to be used with great accuracy, in Western Astrology.

There is another system called the Sidereal zodiac, and this system accounts for the procession of the equinoxes. This term simply means that the signs of the zodiac have moved from their original placement thanks to a very slow rotation of the earth's orientation to the heavens. To get an idea of this, picture a top. You spin it, and it spins very quickly around the axis. This is the earth's rotation. But you may also notice the odd, much slower wobbling of the handle of the top. This same motion occurs with the earth, and it changes our orientation to these constellations. This Sidereal zodiac is used extensively in Indian Astrology, or Vedic Astrology. India has an ancient heritage of astronomical and astrological study, and this sidereal zodiac is in common use there today.

In addition, this 13th sign, Ophiuchus, has long been known by astronomers and astrologers alike. It's there, along with other constellations that litter the sky close to the ecliptic.
This is a little small, but this shows the ring, called the ecliptic, which is essentially the path the sun takes around the heavens. The constellations closest to this line were associated with the even division in ancient times of the ecliptic path into the twelve different sections of the Zodiac. The constellations are by no means neatly cut into perfectly even 30 degree sections (just take a close look at this picture, you see that Leo is walking on the ecliptic, Cancer's got one claw on it, Pisces is sort of snagged on it, etc.). Rather, they are associations based upon their proximity to a mathematical division of the sky, based upon the four points of the Spring and Fall equinox and Winter and Summer solstices. This association has been long studied, and long used, with great accuracy. In Sidereal astrology, the shifting forward of this same division to keep up this association with the processed position of the constellations today has been used as a different system with great success in its own right.

Whoever wrote this paragraph on Wikipedia sums it up pretty well:

A small number of sidereal astrologers (such as Walter Berg) wish to include other constellations, such as Ophiuchus, in their zodiac and use 13 signs instead of 12. While Ptolemy noted that Ophiuchus is in contact with the ecliptic, he was aware that the twelve signs were just conventional names for 30 degrees segments (especially since the Aries sign had ceased to be in contact with the Aries constellation already in his time).
For the purpose of determining the constellations in contact with the ecliptic, the constellation boundaries as defined by the International Astronomical Union in 1930 are used. For example, the Sun enters the IAU boundary of Aries on April 19 at the lower right corner, a position that is still rather closer to the "body" of Pisces than of Aries. Needless to say, the IAU defined the constellation boundaries without consideration of astrological purposes."

Those 30 degrees segments are what we base astrology on, and they are just as meaningful today as when they were developed by the Babylonians thousands of years ago. The dates, if you compare the IAU's determinations to the dates given by Kunkle, are basically the same. Much like the Babylonians made their conventions in ancient times, Astronomers made similar conventions of how they saw the Zodiac in 1930. And it doesn't have anything to do with traditional western astrology.

So Sagittarians- don't let some astronomer from Minnesota tell you what your zodiac sign is. Ophiuchus has many interesting ramifications that you can study in relation to your chart (and I'd be happy to point you in the right direction about what you could study in relation to it), but so do other stars that don't fit in the zodiac signs. There's nothing wrong with Ophiuchus. But nothing has changed! There's no new discoveries here! You're still a Sagittarius!

If only it wasn't so early (and I had to go to work)... I'd drown my frustration in a hearty winter brew of some sort. Say what you will about Minnesota astronomers- but they sure have some great beers up there!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The return of the Celebrity Sun Sign Series: Mao Zedong

The communist legacy of Mao Zedong... or how to trim your beard in installments

It's been a few months since I posted about someone for the Celebrity Sun Sign Series here. We're still in the sign of Capricorn (we actually just had a partial solar eclipse yesterday in the sign of Capricorn, which generally indicates a time of new ventures and building new structures within the framework of Capricorn (career, resources, the earth and practical matters, professional life, etc.) We discussed a little about Capricorn during the creation of the unfortunately Robitussin-esque gruit ale, but just to overview the energies of Capricorn again:

Capricorn is associated with winter, and (for the Northern Hemisphere at least) the period in which the sun's warmth and light are farthest away. This is a strong archetypal description of Capricorn, with it's practicality, no-frills earthiness and professionalism. It is a sign associated with ambition and responsibility, of doing what needs to be done with tenacity that often borders upon stubbornness and coldness. This description fits well with an infamous but perhaps poorly understood social revolutionary- Mao Zedong.

Mao Zedong, like Che Guevara, has an instantly recognizable face- but thankfully one that is not so readily available on kids' t-shirts at your local Hot Topic (an agonizing issue I don't even want to get started on). You may recognize his giant visage hanging up in Tienanmen Square:

A sense of conflict between China and the Imperialist West first came to a strong peak in the Opium Wars of the mid 1800's, the same time period that Neptune was discovered and moved into Pisces, a period in which Opium drama such as that in China increased. Trade disputes involving the Opium trade (which the Qing Dynasty sought to prohibit) eventually led to two wars, both of which China lost. In the wake of the first of these wars, Britain took control of Hong Kong and gained new trade rights, along with charging the Qing Dynasty millions of dollars in reparations. This, along with the second opium war, destabilized the Qing Dynasty, and contributed to its collapse in 1912 when Mao Zedong was a young man. Mao Zedong grew up in a poor peasant family in Hunan province, though his father eventually gained more financial security as a grain dealer. His heritage is fitting as a Capricorn, in that his climb up the hill of success did not begin as easily as it could, and indeed his long struggle to achieve success would require tenacity in the face of hardship.

Mao graduated from school in Hunan, and attended Peking University, where he was introduced to the Communist Party of China. In his earthy, Capricornian practicality, Mao was concerned with labor struggles and the issues of land and resources in the powerfully disparate landscape of feudal, imperial China. Capricorn, as a Cardinal sign, adds an element of assertion where fixed and mutable signs may be more passive. Mao was adamant that radical revolution was necessary for the people of China.

"Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."

Mao Zedong
This quote may sound more like the stereotypical Aries energy of "Shoot first, ask questions later" than the reservation and conservative nature associated with Capricorn. However, this strong statement shows Mao Zedong's commitment to action without compromise, his determination to build the structure of a new government. His conservative nature is evident in his fun-free determination to achieve. And achieve he did...

Mao and the Communist Party of China began to expand in the 30's and 40's, and soviet strength grew in China. The US- backed president of China at the time, Chiang Kai-Shek, and the Kuomintang (the party in power at the time) began to forcefully resist this growing communist strength. Eventually, however, Chiang Kai-Shek and the government forces were defeated, and he retreated to Taiwan. In 1949, Mao Zedong became Chairman Mao of the newly formed People's Republic of China.

The ambition and professional achievement of Capricorn can sometimes lead to a sense of coldness or lack of emotion. This analysis may be a good description for the following period of Mao Zedong's leadership. Following the establishment of the PRC, Mao Zedong implemented sweeping land reforms, executing wealthy land-owners as examples and redistributing lands to the poor. In addition, former officials of the Kuomintang as well as many intellectuals and former employees of western companies were killed. An estimated MILLION people were killed in the land reforms, 800,000 in the "Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries".

Mao further attempted to keep an iron fist on insurgency through his "Anti-3/Anti-5 Campaign", in which people were encourage to root out anyone suspected of political dissent. He also put down the Kuomintang Islamic Insurgency in 1953, an attempt by former members of Chiang Kai-Shek's government to lead Muslim Chinese against the Communists. Mao Zedong tolerated none of this. In his characteristic no-frills style, he also during this time implemented a new Simplified Character Chinese alphabet that reduced the number of strokes and details in written Chinese in an attempt to increase literacy. Through help from the Soviet Union, the PRC established heavier industrial development. Shortly thereafter, Mao Zedong implemented what is perhaps his most infamous program- the sadly ironic "Great Leap Forward".

In opposition to the more heavily industrial economy of Soviet Russia that many of his comrades supported, Mao foresaw an economy based on agricultural strength as well. To implement this, he formed "People's Communes", basically consolidating the disparate rural agriculture of China and forcing peasants to contribute to these, as well as small-scale metal production. Several factors combined in this instance- the use of new unscientific agricultural systems in the communes, reduced incentives for individuals, and the culture of fear of being "purged" for dissent amongst officials in the party. This combination lead to a drop in grain production while at the same time scared party members exaggerated the quantity of grain being produced in different areas, leading to a larger proportion being taken from rural areas and allotted to urban areas and export. No food was left, and between 1959 and 1962, 30 MILLION PEOPLE STARVED. It was the largest famine in human history. Imagine if the Jewish Holocaust happened 5 times in a row. Historians disagree as to whether or not Chairman Mao knew about these circumstances...

Mao Zedong died in 1976, ending a very uncomfortable few decades of rapid change, seen by some as very positive and others as very negative. In any case, China would never be the same again.

Mao Zedong also developed a bit of an odd "Personality Cult". People began to put his picture everywhere, carry a book of quotations by him, etc. In some ways, he is viewed with an aura of superhuman power. The cool, confident air of godliness is, perhaps, a trait shared by many of the more well-known Capricorns, such as Elvis, Cary Grant, or (perplexingly) Rush Limbaugh. While I feel I can say without political bias that spewing unmitigated hate on the air is disgusting, Rush Limbaugh is loved by many, much as these other famous people, or Mao Zedong himself. Being good or bad doesn't necessarily dictate either success OR how much one is adored. Capricorn is a sign that can achieve, good or bad. Whatever it may be, Capricorn gets it done. Period.

Fun times with Chairman Mao! Hope you guys enjoyed this post- look forward to another post soon about Neptune and Oil.