Monday, July 25, 2011

Celebrity Moon Sign Series: Grigori Rasputin's Moon in Taurus

You find me a man who can look this terrifying pulling on his beard, and I'll write a post about him just for that.

As a change of pace from the admittedly delayed Celebrity Sun Sign Series, I thought it might be fun to examine a famous celebrity's moon sign. While the sun sign is the overriding profile of our identity (or ego), one of the things any astrologer will tell you is that it's not the whole story. This is one of the limitations of newspaper horoscope readings. The sun sign is the description of our conscious ego-identity, and we reflect this even in how we discuss our sun sign ("I'm a Pisces"). The moon sign, on the other hand, is our emotional, instinctual identity. Our moon sign demonstrates how we react, what we feel, our habits, our intuition and our comfort zone. If you examine your moon sign, you may find that many things that you feel and do reflect that particular sign as much as your sun sign. Especially in the case of famous people in history, an examination of the moon sign can shed light on some of the things about such people that seem to be on a different wavelength entirely from their sun sign.

Our subject in today's post is one of my favorite people (and beers) of all time: Grigori Rasputin.

You know an historic figure has infiltrated popular culture when you can have him animated AND in a pint glass.

Grigori Rasputin was born in a poor village in Siberia, January 22, 1869. His sun sign was Aquarius, a sign associated with humanitarian concern, mental ability, groups and organizations, and simultaneous eccentricity and objectivity. Rasputin lost both his brother and sister when he was still a child. This loss, coupled with his ostensibly supernatural childhood abilities, led to him to grow into a rather unique young man. He spent some time, possibly as punishment, at a monastery in Verhoturye. He became very devoutly religious, and even after marrying and having children, he left home to become a wandering pilgrim. After visiting various holy sites, including Jerusalem, he eventually made it to St. Petersburg. At the time, the nobility of Russia especially were interested in the occult and unique spiritual ideas. This interest provided a very receptive environment to Rasputin's unique (in typical Aquarian fashion) spiritual identity. He became a "healer" with a strong following in St. Petersburg, and eventually entered the realm of political influence when the Tsaritsa Alexandra sought his aid in helping the hemophiliac prince, Tsaravich Alexei. Hemophilia, a genetic disease in which an inability of blood to clot leads to excessive internal and external bleeding, was not as well understood back then as it is today. Much of Rasputin's "healing" council may have simply been common sense, including avoiding aspirin (which thins the blood) and ensuring Alexei received adequate rest (to lower blood pressure). This relationship endeared Rasputin to the royal family, and he soon became an important member of royal politics.

Many of Rasputin's identifying traits thus far clearly reflect his Aquarian sun sign: Logic, humanitarian concern, an ability to synthesize a great variety of experiences and knowledge and apply it with an emotional distance. Plus, "aloof" is one criticism associated with Aquarius, and what's more aloof than leaving your family to become a wandering monk?

But it's Rasputin's moon sign, and his instinctual, impulsive tendencies that really paint the picture of what came to be known as the "Mad Monk". Rasputin's Taurus moon sign is associated with physical comforts, emotional and financial security, and pleasure in various forms. This provides a much more physical aspect to Rasputin's emotions, in contrast to the objectivity of his Aquarian identity. This dichotomy, amongst other aspects of his natal chart, shows his unique combination of group involvement and personal, physical charisma. In practical terms, he become deeply influential in Russian politics and seduced great numbers of women, physically and emotionally, at the same time. The mad monk, indeed. He is famous for his belief that, to overcome sin, one had to indulge in it. Indulge he did.

Opinion about Rasputin became increasingly divided over time, and eventually, members of the nobility who were made uncomfortable by Rasputin's political influence plotted to kill him. Ironically, perhaps, the most famous aspect of Rasputin's life is his remarkable death. He was, in one night:
Poisoned with cyanide.
Shot. Four times.
Bound and wrapped in a carpet.
Flung into the freezing Neva River.
The most terrifying, part, however, is that he died not from any of these- but from drowning in the Neva, after escaping his bonds.

Although there has been debate about the accuracy of this death account, much of Rasputin's life reads like legend. His unique Aquarius-Taurus sun-moon combination reflects the amazing mixture of flesh and spirit present in Rasputin's life. Plus, if after almost 100 years, people are naming beer after you, you must have done something interesting.

What about you, readers? Do any of you have Aquarius sun signs or Taurus moon signs and feel an affinity for Rasputin? Was he a holy man or a creepy crackpot? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Conflicting view and changing times of Astrology and Feng Shui

When one begins to approach Astrology or Feng Shui, it's easy to be intimidated by the conflicting schools of thought in these fields. There is a diverse history in Astrology and Feng Shui alike, which has led to diverging thoughts on the practice of each. Compare such challenges to, say, mathematics, which despite similar divergence of theories in the past (" 'Zero' you say? Poppycock!") now seeks to pursue the most objectively accurate methods (except maybe stuff like theoretical physics). Astrology and Feng Shui are not based on objective proofs, but rather subjective proof. It's about what works for individuals.

In Astrology, there are two main "zodiacs"- the orientation of the 12 constellations that we use in chart interpretation. They are the "Tropical Zodiac" of Western tradition, based on the position of the constellations 2000 years ago and their synchronization with the seasons (Aries begins at the spring equinox, Libra at the fall equinox). The other zodiac is called the "Sidereal Zodiac" and is based on the precession of the equinoxes (the slow, rotating-top motion of the Earth over time that leads to a gradual movement of the constellations in space), rotating the position of the zodiac signs backward approximately one sign. This system is used extensively in India.

In Feng Shui, there are similarly two "styles": Classical or Traditional (Compass-oriented) Feng Shui, and Western Feng Shui. Classical Feng Shui incorporates one of the oldest and still fundamental tenets- "form school", or the symbolic and elemental orientation of the physical environment in relation to your residence. In addition, Classical Feng Shui makes use of the Luopan (geomancer's compass) to orient the bagua (octoganally shaped map of the significance of each section of a dwelling). The Flying Stars school of Feng Shui is based in the Compass school and incorporates a more time-sensitive analysis based on the date of construction of the building. A numerical map of the area is made, with cyclical changes over time that are analyzed for individuals. Western Feng Shui, on the other hand, covers BTB (Black Hat Sect) Feng Shui (pioneered by Thomas Lin Yun and incorporating a more Buddhist heritage than traditional Feng Shui), and traditional "form school" principles, as well as a general amalgamation of techniques from throughout the history of Feng Shui that carry weight and meaning to Western Audiences. The most immediate difference between the Classical compass-based and Western Feng Shui is that the classical method orients the bagua of elements and life experience based on the magnetic directions, while the western approach always orients the bagua based on the location of the front door.
So which of all these should people use? The good news is: there's no right or wrong answer. The bad news is (you guessed it): there's no right or wrong answer. This frustrating ambiguity can be discouraging, leading many to question the validity of the entire system. I have had my doubts on more than one occasion, and have had my share of hiatuses caused, in part, by inability to decide what the heck I was actually studying. By odd chance, for one of the first times since obtaining it, my anthropology degree came to the rescue. Anthropology as an academic science has changed perspective countless times over the years, and while different traditions will always compete, one undeniable consequence is that culture and thought are subjective. Anthropologists have studied why different cultures and people do such and such thing. Some have said that it's a reflection of common thought processes we all share, others have said that culture arises from particular environmental needs. None of these convinced me entirely when I was getting my degree, but the variety did show me that our culture, our history, our individual experience and thoughts we share in our society are all variable.

This leads us to the question of: Which kind of Feng Shui or Astrology is right? Ultimately, my belief is that it depends on the individual and the culture and time period to which they belong. This individual viewpoint tempers our reality, our relationships, our perspectives. It also, I believe, affects the field of forces around us in which we consciously or unconsciously participate. That is, myself and most of the "Western World" don't just practice Tropical zodiac Astrology- we participate in it. It reflects our heritage, and consciously or subconsciously, it works. India, meanwhile, participates in Sidereal zodiac Astrology- and it works, too. The two aren't mutually exclusive, either. They share common traits and dialogue, especially as our global world gets more and more connected.

In similar fashion, both Classical and Western Feng Shui are reflections of the heritage, culture and mentality of different times and places. Both share common traits, ideas and goals (such as the importance of balance and the creative and destructive cycles of the elements). Admittedly, Feng Shui is more specifically endemic to China. However, it has undergone development over thousands of years, as any school of thought would do. It has now achieved a universality that can be applied, with some cultural translation, all over the world. Traditional Feng Shui and the developments of the Compass school are meaningful and applicable to anyone, but in many cases, residents and their places of work and living in the Western world work well with "Western" Feng Shui- that is, we can participate in it with a more immediate conscious and subconscious sense of meaning.

As I mentioned, everyone has a unique and culturally relative perspective, and as such these different schools of Astrology and Feng Shui will resonate differently from person to person, while continuing to share these common traits and goals. I've read articles and correspondence about these issues, Feng Shui in particular, that have such vitriol, such dogmatic certainty. In the problems that face our modern society, dialogue like this is the last thing anybody needs. We should be aware of how our culture and outlook affects our different approaches to Astrology and Feng Shui.

The issue of precession in the Sidereal vs. Tropical is nothing new in Astrology. However, Indian Astrology places greater emphasis on prediction and houses then on the significance of the signs of the Zodiac. Western Astrology, on the other hand, comes from a long heritage of psychoanalysis and self-exploration, and in astrological counsel the Tropical zodiac is accurate and indispensable. Two different schools of thought, tailored, in a way, for different cultural perspectives.

In Feng Shui, consider the cultural differences in our homes. Feng Shui developed thousands of years ago in part to help locate the best place to actually build one's home, which direction it should face, and (in the case of Flying Star Feng Shui in particular) incorporating when the house was built and the placement of occupants within the home. This compass-based orientation is quite common in Asian countries, and speaks to a common cultural concern. In the "Western" countries and cities (of Europe or North America), we seldom have concern for the exact time that our building was constructed. Especially with the burst of the housing market bubble, few people have the luxury of choosing what direction their home should face. The western version of the bagua in Feng Shui is based on the location of the front door, providing easier orientation. The cyclical, elemental importance of the bagua remains intact, but reflects our modern limitations in building choices and information, as well as the importance that we place on our careers (for both men and women), and the individuality that is highly prized by young and old (since each individual room or office can be oriented based on this western bagua). These different schools share many important traits beyond differences such as bagua orientation, and simply reflect different cultural perspectives and realities.

We should share in the commonalities between these diverging schools, for the positive benefit of all those who seek the counsel of these ancient healing arts. It is fruitless to prove which of the various schools of thought in Astrology and Feng Shui are right or wrong. Both of these arts wouldn't be increasing so drastically in popularity and demand unless they were needed by an increasing number of people. Instead of choosing the right or wrong school, we should support each other in choosing the most applicable, in respect to individual and cultural perspective. The diversity of the world is open now as it has never been. Don't fight about it! Let's learn from it and work together to find what is significant and meaningful for individuals!

Here is a list of further articles, some quite short, that touch on this subject matter:

And check out my introductory article on the significance of space:

Readers, what do you think about the diverging schools of Feng Shui and Astrology? Do modern lifestyles require a new perspective or not? Let's discuss!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jupiter in Taurus- Here, have a homebrew

Imagine yourself in a calm, peaceful beer garden. You're surrounded by friends, all generously buying rounds for each other of exquisite German Helles. The sounds of birds and the comfort of friends and familiarity are a reassuring backdrop to your optimistic mood. It's time to discuss expansion, new possibilities philosophy- with a strong dash of patience. Let's not rush in here. Have another beer and relax first. Mmm... crispy hops with rich malty body, in a big stein covered in the condensation of the cool evening mist. Like a painting.

Sounds nice? That's Jupiter in Taurus. Jupiter moved into the sign of Taurus hot off the Aries presses on June 4th. The energy of Jupiter in Aries was unquestionable over the past year- pioneering, individual action and risk taking. Pure initiative, with a goal of building a different, more positive future. A bit brash, at times. With this energy, and Jupiter's conjunction with the even slower-burning Uranus in Aries, we saw the sudden rise of protesters all across the Middle East. Freedom, energy, change through action, all these became themes of the past few months. And, sure enough, change is happening, though with the swift repercussion that comes with swift action. Jupiter in Aries was not about holding back. Jupiter in Taurus, however, kind of is.

Taurus elementally is a fixed earth sign- the most stable, and stubborn, combination that you could get in the zodiac. The stability of Taurus fits well with it's associations: possessions, values, tastes, pleasures- that which we accumulate and hold onto and enjoy. Taurus represents patience, perseverance, and security. For action-taking Jupiter in Aries, this is a jarringly different pit stop. But it's a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy the "finer things"... like homebrewed beer, for instance. This may befit its own post, but the rulership (overriding association) for alcohol is usually Pisces- dissolving boundaries, changing consciousness, opening imagination and delusion at the same time. If you're drinking beer to get drunk, it's probably a Pisces situation. However, particularly in the growing culture of beer appreciation in recent years, the variety and rich components that make up decent beer may fall under the rulership of pleasureable Taurus. If you're smelling the beer before you drink it, considering the carbonation, thoughtfully savoring the rich variety of flavor without focusing on alcohol intake, or doing all of this while actually getting your hands dirty and making more, I'd say it's a Taurus situation.

"Crap, here comes Jupiter. Better get another keg ready."

Though a homebrew is never unwelcome, there is of course a more negative side to Jupiter in Taurus. Caution can lead to reluctance to take needed action. As Jupiter expands its senses, and sense of physical stability, it can be quite enticing to simply stay put. The balancing act with Jupiter in Taurus is to relax and enjoy the pleasurable opportunities that grow, while at the same time maintaining a perspective on when action is necessary. Jupiter in Taurus can grow stronger, more stable, more prosperous, and as long as it doesn't get drunk on all of this our philosophical sides can grow in a new Taurean way. From Hajo Banzhaf and Anne Haebler's Key Words for Astrology, Jupiter in Taurus: "Religion/Philosophy: Epicureans of ancient Greece. Sensual happiness in life within a circle of good friends is the highest goal in life." We can't ignore our physical needs. Jupiter in Taurus is a great time to come down to Earth... and have a beer.