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Service, Community and the Australian Fires

Malvin Artley
February 2009

Greetings Friends.
I was walking through one of the leafier suburbs here in Adelaide over the weekend, my feet shuffling through all the fallen leaves. My thoughts were taken back to days of autumn in North Carolina and the huge piles of leaves in the neatly-raked yards of the neighborhood homes - fertile playgrounds for kids intent on ruining an hour's work by another family member. I used to really enjoy playing in those piles of leaves. There is a very distinct smell to them and I have good memories of all those carefree days of youth. My, how we forget to play as adults! As I kicked my feet through the leaves this past weekend, though, my thoughts were not so much on play. There was a big problem with all these leaves. You see, it is not autumn in Adelaide. The leaves do not normally fall here for another few months. As it turns out, southern Australia has just gone through the worst heat wave in a century and all these lovely leaves at my feet were sacrificial victims as the trees tried to save themselves from the glaring sun and heat stress by shedding these dead and damaged leaves. (A word for people who love their gardens from a friend of mine with experience in these matters - do not put water on leaves of plants on hot days. It will kill the leaves.)

One of the things I forecast in the Chinese New Year letter this year was extremes of weather conditions. I was hoping to be proven wrong on that one in some ways, but it has come true with a vengeance in many parts of the world. Aside from the heat wave here, the top end of this country has seen huge floods. At the other end of the Earth, there have been frigid colds snaps and huge dumps of snow. My sister was saying it was 3 (that's 3 F) in Tennessee the other day, with black ice on the roads. It is usually not nearly that cold this time of year. I asked her to send some of it down here. Europe has had big falls of snow, and we have only just started the most extreme month of the year during this period. On top of all this, Australia has just experienced its worst natural disaster on record - what will come to be known as the 'Black Saturday" fires of Victoria and southern New South Wales. At last count there were 166 dead, over 750 homes razed in the inferno and over 5,000 left homeless as a result. The fire front at one time stretched for over 100 km. We had fears of a repeat of 'Ash Wednesday' here in Adelaide, but we were fortunately spared. I am afraid this is not going to be a very happy letter. On the other hand, though, this being the Aquarius letter, the theme is service and service is sorely needed in times such as these.

We need to have a brief look at certain aspects of Aquarius to give us a backdrop on what is happening in terms of one's service work this year and then we need to have a look at the eclipse, which is the 'partner' to the one we just had at the commencement of Chinese New Year. Aquarius rules over a class of lives known as 'The Baskets of Nourishment', which are also known as the 'elemental lives'. This class of lives comprises the type of life that makes up all the forms of any type that we experience in life. They are form aside from consciousness, if such a distinction makes sense. They are the 'building blocks' of forms, if you like. They function largely unconsciously and as a result they are called 'the blinded lives', since they have no evolved sense of 'self' and thus no self-volition in the sense that we understand the term.

Aquarius thus has a curious connection with the elements - fire, earth, wind, water and ether - and it is the forms that these elements, and thus elementals, constitute that comprise the sacrificial base through which all activities take place in a worldly sense. As we saw in a past Aquarius letter (the exact one escapes me at the moment), the united functioning of the elements and elementals - and they are actually one and the same - form what we know as our bodies, or aggregates, to use the Buddhist terminology. Our bodies exist solely for the service of our consciousness and they are molded by that same consciousness. It is the same with all forms in nature. All forms are the result of the coming together of the elemental forces in response to the impress of an 'ensouling' consciousness. Hence, form is inseparable from consciousness. Without consciousness, form disintegrates and the elements are returned to their natural states. It is said that the elements form the support for the activities of consciousness. Therefore, it is not such a huge leap to realize that, since a form (or any phenomenon, for that matter) is manifested in response to some call for work or need for corporeal existence, the elements are united in service when thus 'en-formed'.

Aquarius has the idea of unity in service inherent within its nature, given what we have just seen. The idea of groups is so engrained in the Aquarian consciousness that, for an Aquarian to think about 'going it solo' in some area of life is almost an anathema. Yet, the bond that intimacy engenders is one of an Aquarian's great fears. It is the sign's great contradiction, in my view (and every sign has its own contradictory pattern). "I would do anything with you, but I have to be free in order to do so" - in other words, not bound to a person or circumstance in any way. Such is the catch-cry of Aquarian experience. Yet, it is the very intimate relationship to the form and the work to be done that is the primary testing and burning ground of the Aquarian. The 'way out', or the door to fullness of life for any Aquarian type is to throw themselves whole-heartedly into some act of service to something greater than themselves and to give their all to it - by choice. Aquarius is said to be the sign that exemplifies the 'world server'. It carries the "Light that shines on Earth, across the sea." To put it differently, Aquarius casts its light out over the vast and oft turbulent sea of human emotion and feeds the souls of those hungry to be free from the bondage of form or circumstance.

We have another dichotomy in Aquarius too: the battle between the desire to possess form and structure and the need to give all thus obtained in service to others. Aquarians can be quite possessive in their own way, as can all the fixed signs. The key phrase for the sign at a worldly level is "Let desire in form be ruler." Aquarians can do well in business and politics because they have a good sense of form and the value connected with it. Being the sign opposite Leo, they like to rule in their own way, too, but with Aquarians rulership is more about social or group concerns than it is about personal power, as one would see in the worldly Leo type. The key phrase for the sign when the higher purpose is more awakened, however, is "Water of life am I, poured forth for thirsty humanity." When thus polarized, the Aquarian has learned the lessons of non-attachment and generosity and then gives his or her love of form as a service to others. It is one of the signs where the lessons concerning compassion and the uniquely Buddhist term 'bodhichitta' (the mind of enlightened service) are most potently learned. It is precisely through having to give up or by being deprived of what is desired that the Aquarian learns that form or phenomenon, in and of itself, is an empty construct and therefore of no lasting or true value. All that really matters, then, is life and love towards one's fellows. All Aquarian types know this at some level, even if in most cases it simply manifests as the famous Aquarius aloofness, non-committal attitude or rebellion against any sense of structure or regimentation, as evidenced in the worldly type of Aquarian.

All this being said - and I say these things with all love and fondness to my friends who are Aquarian types (and you are many) - nothing will stir a good Aquarian type to action more quickly or profoundly than someone or some suffering being in need. The suffering of others stirs the Aquarian soul to an extent not often found in the other signs. It is their rallying cry, precisely because they have experienced it. It is said that the gods yearn for a human birth because it is only in this human form that the experiences of joy and pain, love and loss, passion and bereavement - indeed, extremes of many types - are experienced to the extent that we, as humans, can. Nowhere else, it is said, can compassion and the mind toward enlightenment be developed to the extent that human beings can manifest. And, the thing about it is, once one realizes that the pain we experience is no different to that of others and often not as great, then one realizes that - "Well, hey! I'm just here on this Earth with all my friends." A good Aquarian will never turn away a sincere request for help if they can do anything about it. To many Aquarians, there is nothing better in life than a good friend - and lots of them - and they know all of the friend's friends, too.

We have had a very sad few days here in Oz and there are many people in Victoria and southern New South Wales who can now use a good helping of Aquarian spirit. True to form, the response from people throughout the country has been overwhelming. The relief centers have been inundated and help has had to be turned away because there were simply too many people showing up with aid. There was a cartoon in the paper today that pretty well summed up the spirit of things. It showed the two Australian icons (Kangaroo and Emu) holding up a burned-out crest and looking rather charred themselves, with one saying, "We've lost everything" and the other replying, "We still have each other." Life reflects consciousness. I get the strong sense that the Aquarian ethic will be called upon a lot this year, and the world over. And people will respond. Crisis and hard times bring out the soul in people - the best in people. We need to keep that in mind throughout the times to come, and in the next month to be certain. Aquarius is about community, whether it is the combined mass of cells in one's body or a national or regional group, but more than that, it is about that community coming together in response to a sensed need - in a call to give of self. With that, let us have a look at the full moon and eclipse.

This full moon is an annular lunar eclipse occurring on the 21st degree of Leo. The exact time of the eclipse is 2:08 PM UT, with the full moon taking place 11 minutes later. The solar and lunar degrees for both events are the same. This will not be an easy eclipse. It is a South Node eclipse, indicating completions or endings, breaks in relationships and/or losses of some sort, but those will clear the way for something better to come in. South Node eclipses could be likened to a sort of karmic 'spring clean' and thus an end to attachments in whatever area of life is indicated by the planets or angles upon which the eclipse occurs. In that regard, I have a 'heads up' for all those readers who were born between mid-October 1950 and the first part of August 1954: Have a thorough health check-up toward the first part of next month. This eclipse will fall very close to or on your natal Pluto. Health problems can manifest with eclipses to Pluto, and this one will be activated by Mars for a week on either side of 3 Mar 09. It will receive another Mars activation in mid-December of this year when Mars makes a retrograde station within 1 degrees opposite the eclipse point. It will then transit the point opposite fully in mid-May of 2010. Please mark those dates on you calendars. The health should be watched by those readers affected during those times. Fortunately, there is no outer-planet activation of this eclipse, but it is a very strong eclipse nonetheless.

For those readers with the Pluto activation, there are three main areas in which this eclipse is likely to manifest: financial, relationships and health in the 'nether regions' (the lower abdominal region of the body, with a special emphasis on the sexual organs and organs of elimination). South Node eclipses to Pluto can bring the loss of someone dear in some way (and take this past weekend as an indicator of what this eclipse can bring), affairs or break-ups, financial upheavals (especially relative to insurance, legacies and 'other people's money') and sudden changes in long-standing situations that have gone past the use-by date. If your Pluto is activated by this eclipse, your life is likely to be transformed in some way - and ultimately for the better. Pluto is the planet that governs major transitions and feelings of power.

The other reason I mention that the health should be carefully watched over those periods is that Neptune is the lord of eclipse and that can indicate obscure or hidden health problems and toxic conditions (poisonings). As well, Neptune is joined by Chiron at the eclipse point, and that asteroid can figure large in matters of healing and health. Ultimately, this will be an eclipse that will bring spiritual healing when all is said and done. On the world stage Neptune as the lord of a South Node eclipse can indicate insurrections, fraud, financial fluctuations, blocked legislations, scandals and floods. The Obama White House is already started to feel the doggedness of the conservative cause, for instance. Again, the dates to watch are those mentioned in the preceding paragraph. On a positive note, Neptune indicates the highest in spiritual aspiration and the need for an absolute adherence to truth in one's life. Under the influence of this eclipse we will be shown where we have been untrue to ourselves if we have activations in our chart, as well as being shown all that is best and good within us once we come out on the other side of it. Above all else, Neptune calls for us to become aware. It is the planet that governs sublime insight and truth at all levels and perspectives.

As for the full moon, the Sabian symbol for the solar degree reads as follows:
"A disappointed and disillusioned woman courageously faces a seemingly empty life." 21 Aquarius
The one thing we should carefully consider with this charming and uplifting symbol is that Neptune is indeed very active in this full moon and therefore things are not always what they seem. Often with Neptune we have to look at the higher or more subtle meanings at work behind the scenes. This is a symbol that points to calling upon one's will and resilience in difficult circumstances. We very often have the feeling when we are parted from someone close, for instance, that life will somehow be empty and that our lives might not ever feel so fulfilled again. That can apply just as much to situations as well as people. Feelings such as those are a trap, however, and keep us from moving forward in life. The lesson with this symbol - and especially with an Aquarius full moon - is that we are never alone and that a life of service is one of fullness and ultimate reward, even if we must 'go it solo' for a time. If we put ourselves out amongst others there is no way one can ever realistically be alone. It is in the nature of all human relationships for us to feel periodic disillusionment, but in the end we most often realize that it has been or own misconceptions and projections onto other people that have caused our disillusionment - not the people themselves.

The symbol for the degree of the Moon gives us the key to the main energy of the eclipse and the counterpoint to the meaning of the solar festival. It reads:
"Intoxicated chickens dizzily flap their wings trying to fly." 21 Leo
This symbol refers to what can happen when one receives a premature expansion of consciousness or is given too much of something desired too soon. For some reason, the whole idea of the economic bailouts going on throughout the world comes to mind with this symbol. If people have the idea that a huge injection of money into the very institutions that contributed so much to all the economic problems we have is going to somehow fix those problems, perhaps this symbol is somehow apropos. The idea of intoxication in this symbol fits very well with Neptune as lord of the eclipse, too, since Neptune rules that sort of thing. 'Drunk with power' comes to mind as a phrase, also. If there is any sort of energy that will cause separations and heartache with this eclipse, this is the energy that would bring that about - the sense that one can do the impossible, flout the rules or go off somehow on some half-cocked notion or 'vision' of things - "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!." You get the idea. There is a tendency with Neptune as lord of an eclipse to somewhat lose one's sense of proportion in things. Neptune can both reveal and obscure, depending upon how we react to it. The safety in all this lies in the fact that, whatever happens, the effects of the eclipse will be made clear, and soon, because Saturn is linked to the Sun in this figure by a quincunx, and a tight one at that. This eclipse will ripen certain aspects of a person's or national karma in some way and precipitate it.

Saturn linked to the Sun by aspect adds to the somber tone of the eclipse symbol for the Sun, too, but it is not all doom and gloom. Mars is conjunct Jupiter, adding greatly to the energy of the figure, which could be a bad thing with an eclipse like this, but they are also sextile to Venus and conjunct the North Node of the figure, indicating fortunate meetings with people, energetic associations, possible sexual dalliances (and perhaps those would lead to the break-up of other long-standing relationships) and possible financial surges. As far as the sexual component of the figure is concerned, Venus squares Pluto, indicating profound changes within relationships and intense love affairs. People will not be able to ignore what has ceased to work in a relationship that comes under the stress of this eclipse or what needs to change (again, the timing is the same as earlier listed in this letter). Lastly, Saturn is linked to Chiron - the infamous Magi Astrology 'heartbreak transit' - which also indicates possible affairs and break-ups of already-existing relationships. In all, this eclipse, more than any in recent memory that I have seen, portends dramatic and/or sudden shifts in relationships of all types, but especially intimate relations. We'll see. If nothing happens to you directly in your own life around the first part of next month, it will probably be a non-event for you.

We will leave at this for this installment. The world is a different place to what it was even six months ago. Between the extremes of weather, shortage of or inundation by water, financial instability and public unrest due to all of the above and then some, as I said in the last letter, this year looks to be a very memorable one, too - as was 2008. There seems to be no place in the world - at least the civilized world - that is immune to some sort of drastic change. The one thing that is rapidly emerging from all the change occurring is that, besides the fact that things cannot go on as they have, the need for concerted and united action by communities and nations is needed as in no other time since the last World War. We need each other, and we need a dramatic return to common-sense values and more 'human' values - you know, like the old-fashioned notions of 'love thy neighbor', compassion, genuine care for others, etc. It is not that we (as the world) have forgotten or lost those values. It is more like they have been set aside or blind-sided by other factors. What we are getting now is a good old dose of truth - a proverbial 'wake-up call'. The Earth as an organism cannot support humanity in its present state. We, as humans, have to come to terms en masse with the fact that we are literally cells in a vast organism - elementals in our own way, and certainly 'blinded lives' in many ways - blind to ourselves and blinded by others. Neptune will teach us through this eclipse to see and in other ways as well.

Lastly, if you live in Australia and are able to help the victims of the fires, please do so. The response, as we have seen in this country, has been stellar, but there is still a great deal to do. Communities have to be rebuilt, as do the lives of those who lived through the fires. It is the same all over the world - in Gaza, Iraq, many of the one-time wonder economies such as Ireland where the system is literally going belly-up - in so many areas and ways. As a good friend said to me just tonight, everyone has their 'fire-storm' now. This in no way mitigates what has happened here. It simply highlights the fact that, no matter where one lives, one's help is needed, and very much so. Service to others must prevail over self-service. In that, the good Aquarians of the world (and indeed all good people of the world) have much to teach us and much to commend them. Let us raise our water jars high, then, and pour the contents therein to everyone who needs our help until empty. The world needs what we have. It is a great joy to be of service!

9 Feb 2009