Dear Friend and Reader:
So, it’s been a year since we heard, and experienced, the fell news about the supposed election of an insane person to the United States presidency. And as that year has gone on, day by day, the news in the public sphere has been of disaster and disorder, injury and insult, seemingly with no bounds and to no end.
Particularly since the total solar eclipse, it’s been one national crisis after the next, whether born of intent, neglect, or some seemingly natural process. A series of major hurricanes, followed by a vast swath of northern California burning up, interlaced with threats of nuclear war, escalation of the war in Afghanistan, revelation of a war in Niger and of American military presence in a total of 172 countries, and most lately, a tax plan that would take more than a trillion dollars in new national debt and put it in the pockets of billionaires. God, that was a long sentence. That’s how it is.
We have cabinet officers whose job seems to be dismantling the agencies they run; we witnessed a very, very strange massacre in Las Vegas; we are seeing the belching forth of an entire universe of sexual abuse, including by the president himself; we have American citizens drinking from contaminated wells used to monitor Superfund sites in Puerto Rico, and on and on. Anyone who comes near TV or the internet is getting a steady stream of these things into their consciousness.
This is just what we know about. Here we are, "the greatest nation in the world." What could possibly go wrong?
Life on Earth is challenging, stressful and at least a little dangerous, often under the very best conditions. Even where things are relatively calm, it often seems that death and danger are nearby; and if not, we still experience the pain of the rest of the world.
There are the significant challenges of everyday existence. Does anyone know anyone whose life is not touched by addiction or cancer or a serious car accident or an immune system disorder?
It Takes a Busload of Faith — and No Hope at All
As Lou Reed said, it takes a busload of faith to get by. I am concerned that many people are clinging to hope — for example, the hope that things will get better. I consider hope a paralytic agent, one that interferes both with faith and with taking informed action. In fact, there is no hope right now. The world is too far gone. If we can admit that much — that is, if we have the courage to admit it — maybe we can wake up, work together and start making some decisions.
Essential to this is admitting that many people are in a weakened state, whether from physical illness, burdens both practical and emotional, or a state of exhaustion. We will need to tap our deepest and most sincere spiritual resources and find seemingly new sources of strength. Each of us must do what we can, whenever we can; we must break free of false self-obsession and actively work to support our communities, and to share our resources and our knowledge.
We must support one another in being happy. I would encourage you to find time for the people you care about. Do your job with passion, not merely to get it done. When you can intervene and make the right thing happen, go out of your way to do so. We must get off this strictly-for-cash economy and support existence generously. If you have some extra money, make sure you divert some of it to who and what you know is the right thing, and remember: that’s not enough.
As the technological environment completes its takeover of the human nervous system and sensory experiences, we are as a species becoming rigid and robotic, and losing our sense of play. If we are going to get out of the problems we are in, we will need to learn how to play with one another; which means to trust one another, feel one another and anticipate one another’s needs.
We will need to learn how to have fun making the world a better place. We don’t need entertainment. We need the pleasure of collaboration and of doing the right thing. I will say this again and again: we must learn to trust one another, and to give one another the solid ground on which that trust can be built.
A Rapidly Changing Environment
We’re now experiencing a series of sign changes by slow-moving planets. This does not happen often; the last time was in the years leading up to 2012. When this happens, the color, tone and energetic quality of life can shift rapidly. Most of these changes occur in the background. As profound as they are, they are easy to miss, and to miss them means to miss the opportunities they present.
This began in mid-October with Jupiter’s ingress into Scorpio. In terms of understanding life on Earth, Scorpio is one of the most valuable signs to understand.
Since Saturn left Scorpio in late 2014 (dipping back in for part of 2015), there hasn’t been much going on in that sign. True, there have been a wide diversity of esoteric planets and asteroids. While useful, they are not exactly easy for most people to dial in.
Saturn in Scorpio (late 2012 through 2014, and part of 2015) was not exactly wet. It added heaviness to a sign that, due to the times we’re living in, comes with a needless sense of weight. Most of that weight is the result of our collective and individual reticence or outright refusal to consider the subject matter described by Scorpio, most of which relates to sex, death and change. (If you’re a Scorpio and you feel like you spook people, this is why.)
While Pisces has been described as the "dustbin of the zodiac," actually in our age Scorpio gets this distinction. It’s where we throw everything we’re afraid of, or are embarrassed about.
Before Jupiter’s arrival, the most recent Big Thing to happen in Scorpio was the 2016 Mars retrograde there. That came along with the pussy-grabbing recording, the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency, and the majority of white women voting for him nonetheless. I would have thought the pussy-grabbing would have been a deal-breaker, though for a lot of women, the candidate with the pussy was the deal-breaker. I am still trying to wrap my head around that. With Mars retrograde, we got a look at the dark and dreary side of Scorpio.
Jupiter in Scorpio, Through November 2018
So now we have Jupiter, the "greater benefic," otherwise known as Jove of "by Jove" fame, which translates to jovial. Jupiter in Scorpio will have two basic effects and a wide flurry of side effects. One will be to magnify the crisis. We’re seeing this in the countless reports of sexual misconduct that have been coming into the open in late October, flushed to the surface by Jupiter. That has yet to end. What seems to shock everyone is the nearly ubiquitous extent of sexual assault. Everyone has either experienced it personally or is close to someone who has.
This is calling for healing. We now have a concept of what sexual healing is imminently necessary, now. We face a challenge in that even most therapists are too embarrassed by sex to go into any detail about the subject matter. Most therapists also lack the proper training to do so. Somewhere, somehow, we must open up to this form of learning, which will mean releasing all moral judgments about sex. Sex is not a moral issue. It’s a basic feature of life, like air and water.
Thankfully, the other effect of Jupiter in Scorpio is likely to be a lightening up of the whole sex "issue," and the ability to regain some sense of play. Right now, the current definition of sex seems to be "that which has a victim" rather than "that which we do for creativity and fun." While we are getting the victimhood out of our systems, let’s do some trick-or-treating, which as everyone knows is a fun custom associated with a holiday commemorating dead ancestors.
Jupiter in Scorpio is also a reminder that wholesome, responsible sex requires knowledge and even some wisdom (a Jupiter thing). Kids should not have two children by age 16. One kind of knowledge is comprehensive sex education, which has largely been supplanted by the nightmare of "abstinence only" indoctrination. We need actual facts about, and familiarity with, our bodies, and the emotions they take us through. We need to account for what sex does to relationships.
The other kind of sexual knowledge falls under the general category of what you might call Tantra — the previously occult wisdom associated with the philosophy of sex-as-existence. There is no limit to the depth of knowledge attainable using sex as a metaphor for existence, and as a mode of healing and of creative expression.
Yet for as long as we’re attached to the power trip of sex, we will never get there. Sex must be seen as a vehicle to facilitate the healing process, rather than as a means of getting power over someone, messing with them, monetizing the relationship, an opportunity for blackmail, etc. Power exists at the far end of the sexual spectrum. Once you leave that side of things, you move increasingly toward love, pleasure and creativity. Remind yourself of this anytime you get caught in any form of a sexual power trip.
Saturn Across the Galactic Core, and Into Capricorn
We have time in this month’s column for one more transit (of several big ones taking hold in 2018), and that would be Saturn in Capricorn. Saturn arrives in the first of its two home signs (the other being Aquarius) on Dec. 20, 2017. This transit will first provide a sense of what’s missing — and then ripple into an even bigger sense of what must be done about it.
Before Saturn arrives in Capricorn, it makes a conjunction to the Galactic Core, which is in very late Sagittarius. Let’s focus on this, and leave the family, corporate and government Capricorn stuff for the December rodeo.
Speaking in my role as the rock and roll shaman of astrology, I consider Saturn moving across the Galactic Core a major initiation for the human race. Of all the planets to master while living here on Earth, Saturn is the most important, because it addresses structure and time. It’s possible to think you can live without those things, though even if you’re a yogi who hangs out in a cave for 20 years, that’s still about structure (the cave) and time (20 years).
The Galactic Core is like an enormous beacon summoning consciousness to the core of our spiral island in space. Most of us are only dimly aware we live on an island of 300 billion stars, give or take a few. We live on the outskirts, between two spiral arms, which is a metaphor for why our world seems so God-forsaken.
Over the next six weeks or so, Saturn, that central computer associated with structure and time, will encounter the Galactic Core, which contains a giant black hole. That’s a meeting of the physical with the anti-physical; of time with the timeless; of a very strange form of energy with all known forms of matter.
Let this event bend your consciousness in the direction of actual spiritual awareness. Let it take you out of the structures that contain your mind, and show you something larger. This is not merely conceptual; or rather, it’s no more or less conceptual than you, personally, are. Let yourself be guided to the future, because there is one, and you are it.
About the Artist: Jess Shepherd
Jess Shepherd (BSc MSc DipSBA FLS) is a full-time, practising botanical artist, curator and publisher who is about to embark on her biggest project yet – The Blue Flower – where she will be travelling across the globe in her search for the most beautiful blue flowers. It will be a journey not only of scientific value but also artistic discovery. Trained originally as a botanist, Jess tries to inspire us to think beyond our experience whilst pushing the capacity for botanical art to bring greater awareness of plants and the environment. The leaves featured here are part of her Leafscape collection where she set out to challenge our sense of scale, its value and how we measure it.