“I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh’s powerful work is known for its beauty, emotion, and color. Although many of the images are achingly familiar, he never sold a single painting in his lifetime. The irony is several of his paintings now rank among the most expensive in the world. Irises sold for a record $53.9 million, and his Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82.5 million. He is considered to be the greatest Dutch painter, perhaps after Rembrandt, but was poor and unknown during his lifetime.
The story of his life is tumultuous and extremely difficult read. It’s said he painted The Starry Night while in the throes of emotional torment. In the end, struggling with mental illness, he committed suicide at the age of thirty-seven. His story is a classic tale of a tortured genius. His biographers describe a difficult and temperamental man with deep psychological fissures from his childhood that only widened over time.
I have often pondered the tragedy of Van Gogh’s life. Did his art arise from his suffering? Why, we ask, did such genius go unnoticed or unrewarded during his life? Was his pain so difficult to be around when he was alive that the genius of his art was eclipsed by his personality? And, in a larger sense, why do so many artists suffer a similar if less dramatic fate? Is it true that sorrow can be turned into great art?
Many have wrestled with these questions and with the pain of their own artistic life. The path of the artist may relate to the spiritual path and to the capacity to live with a truly open heart. As I find myself much closer to the end of my life than the beginning, I am pondering my own life purpose, which has never really seemed to come into focus–I have never found the bliss that Joseph Campbell spoke of. I experienced a small measure of success in the corporate world, but have been unable to support myself through my creative work. I struggle. I strive. And yet the balance I seek eludes me.
Like Van Gogh the stars are also a source of wonder and inspiration to me. I have always known that my true home is somewhere out there, and living on this planet, however beautiful, has often felt like exile. Even as a child my longing to return to the stars was extreme. So I reach deep inside in search of meaning and rise each dawn to face the day, hoping to be of use and perhaps make a small difference with the words that come from my efforts. Hard lessons in my life have taught me that life is not about what we accomplish, earn, or own, but who we become as channels of loving kindness. I have come to understand that the truest and most powerful creative act is to become a compassionate being and to know the depth of the truth of Maya Angelous’s words,
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In the time we are experiencing in the world our loving kindness is often the most priceless gift we can offer.
“For the present is the point where time touches eternity.”
Earth wobbles as she spins and circles the Sun. This wobble is caused by the pull of gravity from the Sun and other objects in the Solar System, and the result causes our view of the sky to slowly change over thousands of years. In astronomy, this motion is known as axial precession, causing the sky to shift over time at the rate of one degree of arc every 72 years. In astrology this slow motion causes different stars to rise ahead of the Sun at spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, which marks the passage of the astrological ages.
Called the Great Year, and composed of twelve cosmic months that are the astrological ages, this cycle lasts roughly 26,000 years. The points of reference for this backward motion, called Precession of the Equinoxes, are the zodiac constellations that form the ecliptic, the Sun’s apparent path. Each age is about 2,160 years and we are now passing from the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius. This cycle is called precession because the motion is in the opposite direction from the Sun’s apparent direction through the zodiac in a year.
Another result of the wobble, which creates another frame of reference, occurs at the poles. Like a spinning top Earth’s axis causes an imaginary circle to be traced in the sky by the poles. As the orientation of the north pole shifts relative to the circumpolar stars, a different North Star moves into position. 12,000 years ago, the star Thuban, brightest star in the constellation of Draco, the Dragon, was the pole star.
A great wheel also exists at the heart of the Hindu tradition in phases that are called yugas. The Greeks and Romans had ages that ranged from an idyllic Golden Age that descended over thousands of years into the Iron Age. The changing of ages has long cusps, or transitional periods, and there are no precise demarcations of the circle where one influence stops and a new one begins. The duration of an astrological age is characterized by the archetypal energies of the constellation whose stars rise before the Sun at spring equinox dawn. We can only look back in time to sense approximately which archetype held sway and what experience humanity drew from to unfold our emerging pattern. The Age of Pisces, the Fishes, began about 2,000 years ago and has been marked by symbols and icons of fish.
Each phase of the Great Year is like a month, possessing a distinct and overarching quality of experience. The ages can be seen as spokes of the cosmic wheel, presenting a phase shift of archetypal energy designed to provide an evolutionary school room for developing humanity. Since the great cycle of the ages is a repeating pattern, perhaps we can learn something about our present and future from a better understanding of the past. What follows are brief reflections on past ages and a short look ahead to the Age of Aquarius. Next month I will explore that topic in more detail.
(Note: The dates given below are approximations, and the decidedly arbitrary lengths of the ages are arrived at by dividing the Great Year by twelve. Many believe the Age of Aquarius has already begun).
Age of Leo – 10,600 BCE – 8440 BCE
The age of Leo may have been the mythical golden age referred to in many ancient legends. The date generally accepted as the final destruction of Atlantis correlates with the timeframe for the age of Leo. According to certain occult traditions Atlantean civilization reached its zenith during this age of kings and also failed whatever tests were presented. Symbolically, humanity’s task during this age was finding the light within, learning self-rule rather than being subject to external authority. All the legends of Atlantis point to the fact that this lesson was not fully learned or integrated. The astronomy work of researchers Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock convincingly argue that the Great Sphinx of Egypt was a lion that mirrored the sky and the constellation of Leo at this time.
Age of Cancer – 8440 BCE – 6280 BCE
Symbolically the oceans of Cancer swallowed up the external evidence of ancient cultures, but new discoveries in Turkey and India, dating to 11,000 years ago, are pushing back the generally accepted dates and ideas about the sophistication of civilizations that existed at this time. The evolutionary lesson for the age of Cancer related to new ideas about home and tribe. After the destruction of Atlantis humanity’s relationship with technology was stripped away and the simple values of the hearth and heart and growing food became the central focus.
Age of Gemini – 6280 BCE – 4120 BCE
Scholars believe this period was characterized by widespread migrations, which is a very Gemini theme. From a post-flood simplicity cultures expanded and spread out, perhaps in many cases as hunter gatherers. Mythically deities were twins, brothers and sisters, during this time. Shadowy origins of pre-dynastic Egypt puzzle researches as a brilliant and complex civilization seems to have sprung full blown from the sands of the desert. Historically the links have been missing, but ongoing discoveries are filling in the blanks. The lessons of the age of Gemini involved making new connections and reintroducing the curious rational mind into the repertoire of skills.
Age of Taurus – 4120 BCE – 1960 BCE
During the age of Taurus the Bull, Minotaurs, Apis bulls, and the Bull of Heaven dominated myth and iconography. Conventional wisdom declares this to be a time of primarily agricultural societies where the domestication of cattle and the mastery of the element of earth is displayed through an emphasis on fertility. Farming and centralized settlements reemerged. In what seems to be a stunning contradiction this period saw the Dynastic period in Egypt where monumental temples and tombs were built. The lessons of the age of Taurus involved humanity’s relationship with the physical world and possessions. Greed versus generosity were themes.
Age of Aries – 1960 BCE – 200 CE
Next the march of ages brought the ram-headed god Khnum of Egypt to the stellar throne. This period might be described as an age of heroes as the “lamb” was ritually slain and the mythic focus turned to conquest and a glorification of war. In this period sons became more important than daughters and inheritance through the male line replaced matrilineal succession. By 330 BCE Alexander’s conquests had established Greece as a major power and the force that seemed to provide the container for “modern” civilization. The lessons of the age of Aries included such positive characteristics as valor and such negative qualities as brutality and mindless exploitation and domination.
Age of Pisces – 200 CE – 2400 CE
The age of Pisces has seen the emergence of hierarchy in organized religion and the growth of monastic orders, following the pattern of the ill-named Holy Roman Empire. After the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE what became Christianity began to emerge. By 200 CE this thrust was well entrenched and we have seen increasing industrialization of parts of the world with the centralization of wealth. In the age the lamb of god became the fisher of men. The archetype of suffering has hopefully provided a schoolroom for humanity to become more compassionate.
If Aries is the first sign in the forward motion of the zodiac, then moving in the reverse direction of Precession Aries would complete a cycle. Therefore, the age of Pisces the twelfth sign, would have commenced a whole new cycle of precession. That we started counting time again two millennia ago might be seen as confirmation of this.
Age of Aquarius – 2400 CE – 4560 CE
From the disappearance of Atlantis nearly 13,000 years ago we have moved half way around the wheel of precession. This opposition of signs may well bring the ascension of sunken Atlantis, symbolically if not literally, in terms of reclaimed knowledge. Our understanding of how far back our story goes will be ascertained. As we approach the much-heralded age of Aquarius, the stars of the Water Bearer will replace those of the Fishes. At some point a new archetype for the Aquarian age will emerge and the diversity of this expression can already be witnessed in young people around the world. At the least we can expect a greater degree of scientific detachment. The already exponential growth of technology will continue, and early examples of this are electricity, space travel, and the Internet. The lessons of this age are similar to that of Atlantis; will the enlightened use of technology be used in service of the collective, or will unleashed forces destroy us again?
If we learn us lessons in the new age we will travel to the stars and meet the other beings who live there. Check in next month for a more detailed exploration of the Age of Aquarius. http://www.julieloar.com
(Huge thanks to Ted for this amazing review of Volume One in the Sky Lore Anthology series. It’s a thrill to hold two decades of work in my hands. If you’re tempted, there’s purchasing info for both volumes at the end of his review. Thanks in advance!)
If you were ever a reader of Atlantis Rising magazine over the course of its impressive twenty-year flight, you will likely have seen, and been drawn to read, some of Julie Loar’s regularly-featured and highly-polished astrology articles upon first publication. The recent good news is that they have just become even more accessible together in this self-published retrospective anthology collection—without having to wait to catch the next one on the fly—in the wake of her extensive interest in and wide-ranging knowledge of this fascinating and always controversial subject, whether ancient mythic, modern discursive, or cutting-edge technical (!).
The subject of astrology stimulates a lot of creative writing in our time as it has for many centuries, having been the commonality and primary core subject, as C.G. Jung noted, of many if not most traditional wisdom traditions leading up to and including his own most impressive additions to modern psychology, as the mix and clash among religious, scientific and pop variants still contend for mind and shelf space. Of course there is a lot of student-level enthusiasm as well as some amount of backsliding in all this robust output of writing—not to mention the entertainment genre—so something has to be good to maintain its position on the front lines of conversation at the astrology brew pub. Julie’s selection of forty articles in five major categories of her highly varied and successful previous outings, virtually as they first appeared, are still highly topical, in this first, Ancient Sky Watchers volume, and they do indeed rise to a high level of interest and accessible value, being well worth the read—one at a time before and after tea or in binge mode—especially if you are looking for a fresh, comprehensive and well-researched take on this perennial subject, either as student, professional consultant, critic, or occasional curious onlooker.
It is a real treat to find an author in this fascinating subject area so simultaneously knowledgeable, sophisticated and articulate about the prehistoric mythic traditions of Egypt and Sumer vis-a-vis those of ancient Greece and Rome, the approaches and strategies of an experienced modern astrological consultant, and the more recent discoveries in space science from ground-based telescopes and satellite instrumentation—all referencing the impact or influence on our lives of many kinds of very real celestial objects now known and understood in greater detail than ever before. It’s not easy to provide an entry into the basics of celestial mechanics, whether for students of qualitative astrological interpretation or quantitative scientific rigor, but Julie goes to some length to make this subject approachable with her writing and teaching skills for either group. Being able to visualize (and understand!) the varied daily motions of Earth, Moon, and Planets, not to mention the longer-term cycles of eclipses, comets and the grand Precession of the Equinoxes, is the point of entry into the cosmic sky-watcher game (beyond just looking, which is cool enough), and if you have not bothered to look up at the sky—urban dwellers in night-lighted areas are most disadvantaged—then this is a place to begin to get your bearings.
Like Julie, I have been a lifelong sky-watcher as both astrologer and amateur astronomer (and unlike her, a design engineer of space-satellite instruments), and I have to admit that I have learned an enormous amount from the original publication on her articles over the years before meeting her in person a decade or so ago. As an astrologer, I was most lacking in knowledge of the mythic and historical origins of ancient astrology, and in that, she is probably as good as anyone now in print, to help us understand the viewpoint and philosophy of the ancient interpreters of this universal cosmic art-science or pre-scientific art that has been continuously available to all people of all cultures virtually for all time—in fact it is probably the most universally shared common human experience ever on our little ”blue dot” (to echo Carl Sagan) of a water planet in the outer reaches of the Orion Arm of the ever-so-glorious Milky Way Galaxy. Julie ranges through many familiar subjects on the astrology agenda, often with a tip of the hat to Joseph Campbell and a few other luminaries, to making strikingly original observations about ‘sky paintings’ on the cave planetarium walls near Lascaux in France (‘animals of the hunt’ as a very early “Zodiac” with the Pleiades depicted) to the Dendara Zodiac in Egypt (symbol for Zodiac sign Cancer correctly interpreted and understood, possibly for the first time).
If we ever wondered what was going on with the mytho-poetic stories of the legendary gods and goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean world, many of whom are now up in the constellational sky, go no further than any number of sophisticated recapitulations and explanations along the way of the Titans and Olympians who, then as now, populate our astrology archetypes. Julie presents the pantheon with sympathy and insight—and scholarship. One can spend a great deal of time spinning through various re-tellings of these yarns without much accumulated insight, as I did, before focusing on Julie’s understanding, among other things, of the category of the feeling for “the Sacred” in the ancient world. In a sense these poetic stories were the religions as well as the ‘movies’ of those times and, though varied and ever-changing, they had a similar cultural place understood by the natives, just as their story-board correspondences are understood by us today. The truth is that the people of these earlier times, though certainly less educated and knowledgeable scientifically, were mostly just as smart and passionate within their range as modern people, however much our somewhat condescending idea of “progress” may be in need of remedy. Of course times were very different then—the very thing astrology helps up to understand in the most meaningful way! If you have not yet been initiated into the grand scheme of the Platonic Year, this is the place to perk up to a more than merely fascinating historical hypothesis.
In the middle span of her territory Julie, as a very well experienced consulting astrologer, fills in all the blanks that many readers will be looking for in the always telling areas of personal interest with “cook-book lists” of astrology planets, signs and aspects, the working tools of the trade in astrology chart art, which will tell you, from time to time, about wherever you might begin to fit into various developmental sequences, as a Sun in Aries, Moon in Pisces, cuspal ascendant and the standard stops in between. Her approach in such thematic articles adds immeasurably to the flat newspaper entertainment style (which, sadly, is all many people will ever know about astrology), and brings it all back home with insights only an experienced and conceptually sophisticated analyst can succeed with in a brief offering. It’s not a substitute for an in-depth ‘reading’, but her itinerary is always thought-provoking and often spot-on. She’s been a guide on many Egyptian tours, too, and has specialist knowledge in this area of ancient sky watcher lore for mainline Graeco-Roman astrologers who came in at the intermission of the astrology movie.
Perhaps the most intriguing and possibly surprising aspect (there’s a timeless astrology term) of Julie’s presentation is her enthusiasm and detailed knowledge of state-of-the-art scientific discoveries in more modern astronomy and astrophysics (more interpretative scholarship). The impact they will have on the meaning and development of astrology for astrologers (note: we are not astrologists but hope you get the gist of astrology ) in the future will doubtless be great—even revolutionary—as it attempts to assimilate the existence of various big moons, little asteroids, dwarf planets, the rocky Kuiper Belt, the icy Oort Cloud and the mysterious—and quite likely astounding—discovery of either a huge new planet termed, “Planet Nine” (was that where John Lennon was from?), orbiting in the far reaches of the outer solar system, or as Nemesis, a small companion proto-star in an extreme orbit nearby our solar system. This is the modest tip of the iceberg of Julie’s more ambitious project of revisioning astrology, now going forward as we may look back at her musings over the course of the astersand disasters of our still new Century 21. Julie Loar is a star in her own right who knows about the real stars way out there—the real subject of astrology that, sadly, has been lost behind much of the yet most valuable modern planetary astrology (a very complex subject in its own right in any event) … and much, much more.
This is how Volume One of Julie Loar’s “Sky Lore Anthology,” Ancient Sky Watchers, ends—in an exciting rush into anticipation of future science breakthroughs … and of course, the meaning of them to be discerned by and for those of us who know … it ain’t all random grains of sand on the beach, folks. If you are one of us, you will not be disappointed, and if you are a sceptic, you will learn a lot that will make you very thoughtful. This is a major publication event in the astro-theme world … with Volume Two (As Above, So Below) also available now … and also to be acknowledged in review ASAP.
Click the first link below to buy Volume One on Amazon in print or ebook. It’s also available from Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.
“Precious pearls are formed by friction.” Goddesses for Every Day
Cancer is a Cardinal Water sign that marks the Summer Solstice and adds the powerful quality of emotion to the mental nature of the preceding sign. Cancer acts like the womb, and is the Universal Mother principle, providing the vessel from which all forms are born. Cancer energy is highly instinctual, nurturing and protective, longing to make a home and build emotional connections. Learning to stabilize and steady the emotions is the path of Cancer.
The Goddess Sign for Cancer is the Clam Shell, symbol of the ocean from which Cancer’s traditional symbol of the Crab emerges. The Goddess Sign for Cancer expresses the sentiment that precious pearls are formed from friction. Shells, which are containers of the life that emerges from the ocean, appear in numerous cultures as images of the goddess. Sometimes it is the Cowrie shell, which is widely revered, and is suggestive of a woman’s anatomy. The goddess Venus also mythically emerged from the ocean on a clamshell. The sign of Cancer is ruled by the Moon, so Goddesses which appear in the sign of Cancer include lunar goddesses from diverse cultures as well as goddesses of the sea. Cancer goddesses are nurturing, often creators, and are linked to the ocean which is the source of all life. They are protective mothers who guard the home, keep the hearth fires burning, and honor their ancestors and ancient traditions.
Hestia was the firstborn Olympian, older even than Zeus, and was the daughter of the Titans Kronos and Rhea. Her name figures in an ancient Greek expression, “start with Hestia,” Meaning “Begin at the beginning.” She is the symbol of the hearth fire at the center of the home. Satet is an Egyptian goddess who was thought to release the Nile flood each year at the summer solstice. Each year the great goddess Isis shed one magical tear, which would be caught by Satet in her jar and then poured into the river to begin the flood.
Mari, like the Egyptian Isis and the Hindu Devi, is an overarching Great Mother goddess who is the source of all life. Her name and nature has come down to us in many forms, including Mariamne in Greek, Miriam in Hebrew and the English Mary. Hina is a great goddess of Hawaii who is the eldest of the indigenous Hawaiian pantheon. She is known all over Polynesia and the Pacific. Nu Wa, called Lady Dragon, is a Chinese creation goddess who sculpted humanity from mud long before the similar story appeared in Genesis.
Oshun is a goddess of the Yoruba people of West Africa, and is one of their seven great Orishas, or spirit beings. Her domain is the fresh water of rivers and it is believe that she is the owner of the rivers. Leucothea, whose name means “white goddess” is a Greek sea goddess. Her nature comes from the image of whitecaps on the ocean or in the foam of the tides. In one story it is Leucothea who rescued the hero Odysseus from drowning. Ajysyt is a mother goddess of the Turkic Yakut people of Siberia. Her name means “birth giver,” and she is also called Mother of Cradles. She is present at every birth, and women invoke her to relieve the pains of childbirth.
Devi is the Sanskrit world for “great mother,” and was merged into many Indo-European names. Devi is cosmic force, and she is the creator, annihilator, and re-creator of the universe, which she holds in her womb. Kaltes is a goddess of the Uguric people of Siberia. She is a moon goddess who watches over birth and sometimes she is a shape-shifter like the moon. Ngame is a lunar creator goddess of the Akan people of Nigeria. She creates all things by shooting life into new beings through the power of her crescent-shaped bow and life-giving arrows. She is also the mother of the Sun.
Mother Goose is the familiar character from children’s nursery rhymes, but her origins are ancient. Egyptians recognized the Nile Goose, called the Great Chatterer, who laid the cosmic golden egg from which the sun god Ra emerged. Birds appear as companions of the goddess across cultures and reaching far back in time. Selene is a Greek goddess of the full moon. In classical times she was the daughter of Thea and Hyperion. Selene was depicted with wings and sometimes she was shown riding on a bull. More often, she rode across the night sky in a silver chariot drawn by two white steeds. Ilithyia is a Cretan goddess who acts as a divine midwife. Women in childbirth prayed to her as a “liberator” who freed the infant from the womb.
In the northern hemisphere it is high summer and the time of greatest light. It is a common time for weddings, starting a home and honoring the hearth. We can celebrate a symbolic bonfire, releasing energy from the past that needs to be available for new forms. It’s liberating to invoke these great mothers and dance around a bonfire, dreaming of what we desire to birth.
Aim for the Stars and Keep Your Feet on the Ground
Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign and embodies the idea of illumination that results from the joining of balanced power in the two prior signs, Scorpio and Libra. Sagittarius energy is philosophical in nature, seeking wisdom and an understanding of fundamental archetypal principles. While its opposite sign Gemini tends to gather information, Sagittarius looks for wide and varied experiences that ultimately lead to spiritual understanding. The path of Sagittarius is to learn the patterns that lie at the root of our problems and challenges. This search can lead to true perception and the ability to focus and direct the fire of aspiration.
The Goddess Sign for Sagittarius is the Bow and Arrow, and this symbol affirms that we should aim for the stars and keep our feet on the ground. In traditional astrology, Sagittarius is symbolized by the Archer, who is a centaur. Many goddesses, in fact some of the most ancient, are huntresses who live in primeval forests and guard the animals who live there. For these goddesses hunting is not sport but a sacred act of reciprocity that is represented in women’s lives and the Earth herself. The Sagittarian hunt can also be seen more symbolically as the quest for wisdom, engaging the fire of aspiration that takes us into a larger view of the world. Goddesses that are included in Sagittarius represent wisdom, dreams, providence, fortune, the voices of oracles, and horse goddesses who are kin to centaurs. Because Sagittarius is ruled in astrology by the sky god Jupiter, a mythical latecomer, goddesses of light, wisdom, thunder and lightning are also included.
Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt. She is equivalent to the Greek Artemis, although Diana is thought be of earlier Italian origin. Diana was envisioned as riding across the sky in a chariot drawn by two white stags. Much later, she and her twin Apollo were born on the Greek island of Delos. Many temples to Diana were later converted to churches dedicated to Mary. Danu is the ancient mother goddess of the Celtic Tuatha De Dannan, the “people of the goddess Danu.” They were believed to be a magical race of beings skilled in the lore of the Druids. They are linked to the legendary fairy folk who live beneath the hills. The root of Danu’s name means “overflowing abundance,” which is a likely connection to a Sagittarius goddess.
Fortuna is the Roman goddess whose domain is good fortune, as her name suggests. She was worshipped far and wide in the Roman world. People visited her shrines to appeal for her positive intervention in their changing fortunes, and she was usually depicted on a grand scale. Tyche, whose name also means “fortune,” is a Greek mother goddess who likewise has dominion over fate and luck. She is usually depicted standing on a wheel, blindfolded and winged. A statue found in Petra, Jordan, shows Tyche’s face within a zodiac, which is supported by the winged goddess of victory, Nike. It was said no ruler of Antioch had the ability to act without Tyche’s favor.
Bilquis is an Arabian goddess from Yemen who scholars equate with the legendary Queen of Sheba. Bilquis was half djinn, or genie, on her mother’s side, and was endowed with magical powers and great wisdom. One lineage considers her to be the mother of Menelik, the king of Ethiopia, who was Solomon’s son and part of a dynasty that extends to present-day Rastafarians. Minerva was the goddess and keeper or guardian of Rome itself, although she is Etruscan in origin. Her name derives from an Indo-European root that means “mind.” Minerva was seen as the actual embodiment of wisdom. Athena, or Pallas Athena, is a famous Greek goddess of wisdom. The owl, who is able to see in the darkness, is her sacred animal. The Greeks named the city of Athens for her in gratitude for the gift of the olive tree. In a contest for the honor, Poseidon struck a rock on the Acropolis and created a spring, but Athena won the day when her olive seed sprouted and bore fruit.
Sapienta, whose name means “feminine wisdom” is another archetype of wisdom. Wisdom was sophia to the Greeks and chockmah to the Jews. The Latin Sapienta thrived as a hidden goddess of philosophical inquiry between the fifth and fifteenth centuries when the sacred feminine was considered heresy. In a similar way, Shekinah, the feminine side of God in the Jewish tradition, is seen as the principle of light that dwelled at the very heart of the Jerusalem temple. Sarah, who is described in the Bible and the Quran, is really a goddess in disguise. Her name means both “goddess” and “princess.” In rabbinic literature her gifts of prophecy were greater than those of her husband, Abraham, since Sarah received her prophecies directly from God rather than from angels. As a human woman she was a Chaldean princess who brought both wealth and status to her husband.
Pandora was a Greek goddess whose name means “all giver.” Her story is an example of how powerful goddesses were diminished as the patriarchy ascended to power. In the early myths, Pandora was married to Prometheus and she dispensed only good gifts to humanity The identification of “Pandora’s box” was a later invention and a translation mistake. The container was a honey jar, a pithos, which poured out only sweet blessings. Bona Dea, the “good goddess,” was a healer whose special rites were celebrated on December 4, the date she is honored in Goddesses For Every Day. She was shown seated on a throne and holding a cornucopia. She was worshipped in gardens of medicinal herbs where sick people were tended.
Rhiannon is a Welsh horse goddess who name derives from Rigantona, which means “great queen.” She was made famous in modern times by means of the popular song of the same name written and sung by Stevie Nicks. In the magical and mysterious ways of the Goddess, Nicks liked the name when she read it in a novel but was unaware of the myth until after she wrote the enduring song. Rolling Stone magazine rated Rhiannon as one of the greatest songs of all time.
Wherever the idea of wisdom is found in traditions around the world it is always seen as feminine. I believe it’s because wisdom can be seen as a container in which we gather our experiences and knowledge. Because vessels are always feminine, and true wisdom involves compassion, it is an essentially feminine and receptive quality—something we attain and hold. During the time of Sagittarius we can call upon powerful goddesses of wisdom and light to guide us through the dark time of the year.
“Trust in dreams, for in them is the hidden gate to eternity.”
An intrinsic wisdom lives inside a seed. The small miracle trusts that if planted in rich soil, watered by rain, and warmed by sunlight, the seed will break out of its shell, sprout, and grow according to its template of hidden potential. Perhaps that potential will yield a fragrant lily or a mighty oak. The seed doesn’t doubt its future, and it unfolds and grows according to an inherent destiny.
Perhaps it is only humans who fear what is contained within our potential. For many reasons we lack the will or heart to follow the path of our own becoming. We hold back, doubting our gifts and our deep longings. Maybe we define success in the wrong way, believing we need fame and fortune, rather than joy and fulfillment, as indicators that we’ve “made it.”
I have come to believe the key to the dilemma lies in our inability to perceive the nature of our unique and individual templates. Because we don’t really know ourselves, we don’t know the nature of our “seed self.” Therefore, we can’t comprehend the vision of our expanded expression, and we remain blind to what is possible. Or, we try very hard to become a pine tree when we are meant to be a lilac.
A teacher of mine once shared a humorous anecdote to illustrate our reluctance. A caterpillar once gazed up at a butterfly and proclaimed, “You’ll never get me up in one of those things.” And so, rejecting the metamorphosis of the cocoon, and the exquisite creature he could become, the caterpillar continued to crawl on the ground. Sadly, the caterpillar never tasted flight or grew glorious wings. That is a loss for all of us.
What does it take to reach out of our own element and sense of safety and trust? What can be gained by risking? Sometimes, after a risk, life is never the same. Maybe we experience a loss as a result, but we are deeper, wiser, and hopefully more compassionate. Maybe the risk brings great joy. Either way we learn what we’re made of by taking the leap and seeing where we land. It’s often been said to watch where we light up, know what excites us, and when we lose a sense of time when doing something we love. This knowledge is precious.
. . . take a chance today–it could change your life . . .
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi
For several weeks I’ve been struggling mightily with a now-diagnosed sinus infection. I thought the problem arose from a dental issue, and I was waiting for an appointment with a specialist. However, my new physician (once I finally realized I needed a different kind of help) described the ongoing infection as “smoldering,” and I thought that was apt. The pain has been intense, bordering on intolerable, and I’m now taking antibiotics to fight the germs. Was it misplaced stoicism that caused me to suffer or preoccupation with turmoil in my life?
The iPhone picture above was taken yesterday afternoon from my deck–a freeze frame moment in time as I rested and recovered. The day was glorious; it’s one of the blessings of summer in my mountain town. It was a priceless expression of serenity, a blissful snapshot as the small sailboat glided across Lake Pagosa. The picture is like a post card for summer in the mountains, and I was transported to a state of grace and gratitude.
As I gazed at the image, the metaphor was not lost on me and reminded me of another famous quote from a Breton fisherman, “O God, thy ocean is so great and my boat is so small.” I wondered what the sailor on that small craft was thinking and feeling as he was drawn around the lake by sweet breezes. Was he caught up in the beauty of the moment? Could he imagine the potential canvas his journey created that was worthy of a Da Vinci? Or had he taken to the lake to escape some great sorrow in his life?
Life is at all times a blend of grief and joy, beauty and pain. Nothing lasts and everything is in a constant state of change, a shifting kaleidoscope of experiences. We can’t control what happens to us most of the time, but we have a choice how we respond. We can rage, or we can accept. We can deny, or we can change. I’ve always felt the Prayer of Saint Francis, as it’s usually called, is the perfect prayer. We are challenged to meet all of life with what Buddhists call equanimity. Serenity comes from the right blend of acceptance, courage, and wisdom. I aspire to these qualities and to the peace that can result. Sometimes it comes in a moment of bliss when we are offered a gift of such rare beauty and significance.
“We must let go of the life we have planned to be able to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
Metamorphosis is a total change of form, or morphology. We are familiar with the caterpillar that spins a cocoon and is completely transformed inside the chrysalis, changing from a crawling creature into a majestic being with glorious wings. In biology the chrysalis is the hardened outer shell that protects the vulnerable caterpillar as it goes through the stages of transformation. Symbolically, the chrysalis has been used to represent a sheltered state or stage of being in which something or someone is utterly transformed.
For those who are committed to spiritual growth, it seems that life is a constant chrysalis. The Buddha taught that life in form is temporary, and if we cling to the form, we suffer. We are constantly challenged to leave the past behind and embark upon an unknown journey. We are often tested by what life presents, and I believe the measure of our “suffering” is equal to the amount of our resistance and expectation. We have to be willing to surrender in order to be transformed–willingness changes everything.
We live in a time of profound change, even turmoil, and if we are to survive we must also be transformed by the change occurring around us. Joseph Campbell also said, “You enter the forest at the darkest point where there is no path. Where there is a way, it is someone else’s path. If you follow someone else’s way you won’t realize your potential.” I find those words equally thrilling and terrifying. Entering that dark forest takes courage, but our willingness to take the unknown step leads to metamorphosis.
A Chinese proverb states that a teacher opens a door, but we must enter by ourselves. Looking back at times of profound change in our lives we can see how our choices made all the difference and where courage changed our lives. As we face the dark forest, or ponder an unknown path, we have a choice. We can cling to the familiar but illusory safety of the ground, or embrace the dissolution of our earthbound consciousness, pass through the open door of transformation, and soar on wings of spirit.
Perched Dove Marking a Mercury Direct Station Point
by Ted Denmark, Ph.D. Avery, CA May 3, 2017
I had spoken with Julie earlier in the morning for a bit longer than usual about our various plans and current affairs, and now I was getting my highly-esteemed, shiny chrome-plated Pavoni espresso machine cranked up for a morning Peru blend with the usual 2% organic Clover Dairy’s half cup of milk. The very bright sunny morning was a bit shocking after so many rainy overcast days this now mid-spring season, which has already become the wettest season on record in Northern California. For some reason I impulsively happened to look up and out the east window on my right hand and noticed a mid-sized bird on the wing, about 50 yards away, flying a diagonal course towards the house. I immediately noticed that this was not a common bird to see in this area, so I looked more carefully as it approached. It was smaller than a Raven and larger than an acorn woodpecker commonly seen at this higher level in the air lanes habituated by the local feathered bipeds. I could see the curious white markings on the underside of its wings, of a kind I could not remember ever having seen before.
Wow, this could get interesting, I thought, as I remembered I had left the telephoto lens on my trusty little camera from a successful quick shot of a clever and cheeky ground squirrel that had climbed to the top of the house totem pole, an old snag left over from a forest fire many decades ago, to get its portrait taken. As soon as the grayish flyer made its way to the top perch of a recently expired Ponderosa near the southeast corner of the house, and after setting its position, I made my way into the living room to get the camera and make my way outside to see if this pole sitter was still going to be there when I arrived. It was. I cranked up the camera and quickly twisted the function rings for max zoom at infinite distance and stopped all the way down.
I put the bogey at mid-screen, and not wanting to waste any time betting on the whimsical behavior of always jumpy bird life, I squeezed off the first shot. The backscreen viewfinder on this camera is not particularly good or bright enough outside on a sunny day, but I thought my chances were good enough. I couldn’t really get the orientation of the bird because it was too far away to actually see in the setup (this is not a DSLR or even mirrorless camera), except to notice it was there. I waited a half second and squeezed off another. I was having to hunch down a bit to remain in the shadows while still having the perch in view above the roof overhang, which was not exactly comfortable … so I looked around and moved back on the deck to get under another roof overhang that would allow for a full standing posture while steadying the camera on the nearly redwood post. I arrived and squeezed off a third shot, beginning to feel confident that I would have at least a few shots to tidy up in “post production” (no pun intended until noting).
At that moment the barely visible bird talent made a short series of three calls, clearly those of a dove that I had often heard in the bushes on the hill behind the house, but I had only succeeded in seeing the originator of such calls scurrying around on the ground a few times in all the years of living out on my Sierra ridge. These were clearly the loud and distinctive “coos” of a dove, delivered the moment before this lovely charmer jumped up and flew away to the east, the direction from which it had come just a few moments before. So, the three coos were a good match for both the date and the number of shots I had taken … just in time.
I walked back into the house to sit down with my “continental breakfast” and take stock of the next amazing description of a civilization in my Star Elixirs book done by my old friend Michael Smulkis, now recently deceased. I mused to myself, “I’ll have to call Julie and tell her this dove story—she always loves to think of doves, the symbol of our Pleiadian home world.” Another curious thing about this novel perched-bird sighting, I had noted, since Julie and I had briefly discussed this in our morning update, was that the planet Mercury was about to “go direct on its station point” in about an hour. Lots of curious things always happen on these Mercury station points, either as it goes retrograde (now having a more widespread understanding among hip folk) or turns direct, like today. In fact this dove caper, I had realized, began at the very minute (9:33 a.m.) of the station point! This really was amazing, and unlike anything I had ever witnessed in my escapades in birdland! I chose to wait a few more minutes before calling Julie so I could finish the last bites of my breakfast and have a moment to ponder why this might be happening—of course, I could already think of several situations to which it might apply.
But no need to wait any longer, the phone was ringing, and it was the dear sweet beautiful lady herself, calling with a tone of excitement, to tell me that she had just come back from our lot in Pagosa Springs, CO where three large loads of dirt were being dumped by truck for the eventual base of our house foundation. I let her describe a few more of the details before telling her of my rare and likely propitious dove sighting just a few minutes before. It only took us a couple of moments to realize that my bird sighting and photo op had occurred at exactly the same moment as her trip out to the lot to christen a load of dirt being delivered to our building site … and indeed at the very moment of the Mercury Direct station point (!). Excitement was in the air and on the ground.
Nothing quite like this had ever happened before: that is, simultaneous events, one for each of us, timed to coincide with a super-classic astrology aspect that we both always note with some anticipation and gravitas. It was also true that I was just finishing the transcription and edits of our Telepresence Conference 64 of the *Five Star Series* … which was about “revisioning Astrology” (!). Well, this would be “one for the books” … one of our very own books in the series of bird antics with a highly suspicious backlog of meaning for our navigation through the twists and turns of life. We finished our call with ‘high fives,’ and I soon finished my breakfast and went to my media computer to download whatever I may have gotten in my morning mini-shoot.
Get Ted’s new book, Winged Messengers, at Amazon. Click on the image.