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Bluegrass Days

By Malvin Artley
April 2006

Greetings, My Friends!

Music and I seem to be getting reacquainted in a big way recently. I was walking through one of the many markets in Adelaide a couple of weeks back when I heard the familiar strains of an instrument that is seldom heard in Oz. Standing on the corner at the entrance to the marketplace was a busker playing his heart out on a banjo, and doing very well at it, too. He was playing a lot of old bluegrass songs that I had heard as a lad growing up in North Carolina. As I walked past him I was pleased to throw some coins in his banjo case. I was taken over by a case of nostalgia for the land of my birth and was full of expectations for my then-upcoming trip back to that land, first for a conference and then to see my family. As it has turned out, even though I am still overseas in the US on the familial leg of my journey, the trip has more than fulfilled my expectations and has ‘reset’ me in many ways. Later on I went back and spoke to the young man and told him of the music of my youth, the memories his music evoked (not that my youth was that long ago) and how much I appreciated what I was hearing of his playing as it resounded through the labyrinth of the market. It was a portent of things to come for me, a reminder of my roots and of what has been good in my life—a reminder, too, that life has many gifts it presents to us in the most unlikely manner at times and also of the simple joy that one’s Soul through its expression gives to all those around us.

When I arrived in the States I was thrown into the astrology pre-conference of the University of the Seven Rays as one of six astrologers on a panel. The theme of the conference was on the Reappearance of the Christ and the focus was upon the awakening of the Christ-energy within the heart of every person (‘Christ’ being a non-denominational, generic description of the Soul within everyone). Thus, the pre-conference meeting was geared toward the exposition of that within the charts of the participants there, as well as the blocks to that expression. As it turns out, there have been many celestial events in recent times that have highlighted both aspects of that energy, and some still to come —the Soul’s expression and the blocks to it. We are just finishing with an event that has brought forward many things within us that have blocked our Soul expression, which is the retrograde station of Saturn. We will speak more of that in due course. There is also another event about to occur, and which is nearly within orb of its station, which will bring a fresh new impulse to the Soul’s work and which will serve to shatter any lingering blocks to that in the coming cycle of the Soul’s work. That event is the direct station of Uranus in Pisces—the sign of the World Savior—which will last for a couple of months. We will speak more of that later, too.

To set the scene for this letter, however, we need to begin with the general meanings of the solar festival of Aries—the Easter Festival, the ‘Festival of the Risen Christ’. What does that mean for people? Aries sets the benchmark for the work of the World Teachers throughout the year. It is a sign that acts as a catalyst for spiritual growth, along with the signs Taurus and Capricorn. Every great Teacher acts as an example for the Teacher within each of us, though—the Soul. The Easter story, as well as the life of Jesus, is a reminder and an allegory of the long evolution of the Soul of every person and of the sure and certain knowledge that we will all eventually attain the same status of the Christ, hence His admonition that “These things you have seen me do, you will do also, and even greater.” Easter is thus meant to be a time of great celebration—the celebration of the joyous life of the Soul and of the divine within every person, not just of the Christ. There is always a fresh impulse that hastens the unfolding expression of the Soul at the full moon of Aries every year, that impulse acting differently upon each person for the year. At that time there is an ingress of new energy, followed by a process of clearing and adjustment in the months that follow and finally ending with a new direction in the life somehow due to the intensification of the Soul’s Light. We are each liberated a little—and sometimes a lot—around the time of Easter every year, and that should be a great cause for celebration.

When most Christians think of Easter they are given to thinking first of the Crucifixion and then of the Resurrection. I recently had a very powerful dream wherein I came upon a group of people who were undergoing a literal crucifixion, but who were also still alive. It was a gruesome scene and gave me the most sickening feelings upon waking. Perhaps I was picking up upon the collective sense of the impending Easter season and the symbolism of that time in the Christian calendar. The clearing process mentioned in the previous paragraph is what the Crucifixion actually represents. Thankfully, I was not in the group undergoing the ordeal, though, although it was still upsetting. I was in a group who was engaged in driving out the nails that held them and in then taking their tortured bodies down so they could be freed and healed. In reality, Easter is more about the healing the Soul brings in the rising above one’s limitations and about the love that gets evoked in us through aiding others. The specter of crucifixion evokes powerful emotions and ancient memories of terror in people. Somehow, the image of Jesus on the cross is anathema to the true message of the Easter season, however, even if he was liberated and ascended to the throne of God. Little as we realize it, our very Souls are the ones ‘nailed to the cross’ for us, sacrificing Their freedom so that we might grow in spirit and have life. We are the cross to which the Soul is nailed. Christ and sinner—are we not both?

In the West we have been imbued with the fact that Christ died for our sins in that terrible manner and we are made to feel somehow that it is our lot in life to have to go through agony to attain to Heaven’s gates, the ‘wages of sin being death’. That was a message that was drilled into me through the church in my youth and it has taken a good many years to finally esponge that from my mind. What we are not taught so much is that true love overcomes any need for suffering and that all we need do to achieve liberation is to love as fully as we can and to wisely give of ourselves as best we can in all situations. ‘Giving’ can mean many things, however, and we are often not conscious of what we are actually giving to people. The Soul is the fountain from which that giving springs, and that most often works unconsciously in people. Far from being a season marked first by agony and then by liberation, the Easter season is a time wherein we should instead be fully focused upon the full flowering of the Soul’s Light in our natures and of overcoming the obstacles to that within ourselves. We only feel crucified when we fail to rise above our limitations. We only nail ourselves to the cross of matter by failing to let go of the very matter to which we are ‘nailed’. The celestial events of recent months have shown us a lot about what Easter is really about, if we care to look. They have shown us first about our limitations. Now, they are set to show us about the liberating power of the Soul. What we are about to be shown will often not be what we expect, however. Then again, what we will be shown can be exactly what we expect—but with a few twists thrown in for ‘amusement’ (further growth, in other words).

This Aries period started out in grand fashion with a complete solar eclipse (new moon) that traced a path over Africa, Turkey and which finally went on to cast its shadow over western China. It is classed as a minor eclipse, although it will remain in effect for the next 4 years. It occurred on the 9th degree of Aries, the symbol for which reads: “A crystal gazer”. This eclipse, though minor in the realm of outer events, will have profound implications in the subjective worlds, because it is going to bring about the most intense inner questioning and over the next four years at varying times as the eclipse point gets activated. The eclipse was trine to the retrograde Saturn, and that will bring up all manner of insecurities in people. Retrograde Saturn trine or sextile the Sun can bring about edginess and a feeling of disconnection from the greater order of things, which is contrary to the meaning most astrologers would attribute to it. However, such a feeling does impel a person to restructure their thinking, so the aspect eventually brings about a better and more attuned sense of order. The ‘crystal gazer’ is, in fact, one’s own higher Self gazing down upon its creation and gauging its potency and effect upon the outer world. In short, we are all being measured and adjusted as to our fitness to serve and love under this eclipse. With that, let us begin to unravel what is, what has been and what is coming from this Easter season, for this Easter season, unlike others, is like a bridge between the past and the future and it represents some very potent possibilities for those who are ready to love and serve more fully. The eclipse has set the tone for the season. The other planetary events will show us the ‘whys and wherefores’ of how the Crystal Gazer will do Its work in coming months and/or years.

The key thing besides the eclipse at the moment has been the retrograde station of Saturn (Saturn sitting still in the sky) that has caused so much frustration for people over the last month, especially, and which is very slowly being released since the 5th of this month. The effect is felt as though one has been put in a pressure cooker and everything feels stuck. There are many karmic scenarios being played out now. Saturn governs one’s life-path and the choices one makes. Clearly then, one’s travel on the life path has felt stuck and we have been unable to make proper choices around things, which will last until Saturn moves off its stationing point (mid-May). This dynamic is particularly true if the station contacts or makes hard angles (square or opposition) to planets or angles in one’s chart—especially Saturn. The thing I have found, too, is that the aspect can be within a few degrees of exactitude and still be strongly felt. It does not have to be at 1 degree of orb, as is the usual case with a transit. How does this play out, then? Let’s have a brief look at the planets as they would be affected by the station. The following meanings apply if the Saturn station is conjunct, square or opposing the following planets/asteroid:

Sun—consolidation and deep inner questioning. This is second only to the station of Saturn to its own place in importance. It eventually brings one what is due. It gives an initial sense of disconnection leading to great wisdom due to the struggle for freedom.
Moon—not a kind or easy time. The world seems to beset one and there is a deep sense that one is being very much imposed upon by life and that it is not much worth living. Sentiment is stripped away. The realities of emotional life are revealed. In the end, the life is seen in its reality, not as we would like to imagine it. Clarity of emotions is the result.
Mercury—this is not a time to sign any major contracts. Don’t worry and face the facts is the motto for this station. It gives a great deepening of insight, though.
Venus—changes of heart. Emotional home-truths are brought to the fore. New relationships are established, old ones are deeply questioned and there can be a sense of despair, often leading to breaks, but also to greater self-awareness. This aspect moves one more closely into the groups which are the focus of the work of the Soul for the next cycle, because Venus rules the causal (Soul) body. There are very frequently money woes that contribute to emotional upset with this station.
Mars—frustration, pure and simple. The life feels absolutely stuck and all attempts at initiating new action seem futile. This leads to a re-evaluation of how one’s energies are best put to use. It brings illnesses if things are pushed too far.
Jupiter—long-term planning. This one is not so spectacular, but it does bring a loss of ambition and a lack of joy for living. It is a deeply inward time and one wherein outer plans should be put on hold.
Saturn—this is, perhaps, the most important one of the lot because it is the Saturn station to its own place in the chart. Saturn defines one’s karma, and it is one’s karma, along with the work the Soul seeks to do in life, that defines one’s life path. This station dredges up all sorts of security issues, monetary issues and profound questioning of one’s path in life. The focus and the outcome of this station should see one plotting a secure path for the future based upon a careful examination of all facets of one’s life. If there are money troubles, look to the father for the issues and the answers why. This is very sobering and cannot be rushed. The aim is freedom from past conditioning and confining circumstances and people. Choice feels virtually impossible under this influence. True to the form of Saturn, the person under this influence is held to account until the final karmic thread is released. The seeds of the indecision will be found in the events in the period of roughly 7-14 years prior to this station. This has been true in virtually every case which I have been privileged to examine.
Uranus—nervous trouble precipitated by violent upset. This one is very touchy and causes a person to withdraw from the world. It eventually leads to practical application of insights, though in the interim in can bring seclusion from the world and frustration of higher insights.
Neptune—the world seems a cold place and unsympathetic to higher insights. This eventually leads to changes in one’s belief structures, hopefully upon more realistic lines. Later, the life becomes more magnetic because of the focused power of Neptune.
Pluto—loss. There will be endings under this influence, but they will seem very fated at the same time—and probably are. The best course is to accept whatever comes and to rebuild the life upon more realistic avenues, because the real loss here is one of sentiment and idealism. Freedom is the end result of this station.
Chiron—the most profound sense of or actual heartbreak, leading to great inner healing. Inner gifts eventually unveiled and great magnetism results.

Get the picture? Well, it gets even better. As stated, Saturn went direct on the 5th of April. It will stay within orb of its stationing degree until mid-May. At that time there is a direct station of Uranus at about 14 degrees of Pisces, so all the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces) will be strongly affected. It will be within orb of its stationing point by mid-April. I will save the effects of the planetary contacts until the next letter. Mark this well, however: There will be lasting, exciting and life-changing events throughout May and June, but especially toward the end of May. Life will seem renewed and much more will be right with the world then, as it would seem. Unless Uranus makes hard aspects to Venus, Chiron or Saturn, there will be a sense of brightness and excitement. Otherwise, expect sudden changes and/or reversals in relationships and one’s life path.

Additionally, Pluto had been stationing and went retrograde at the last of March, so there will be many changes in the way people subconsciously do things and react to the world. Look for very strong and/or strange reactions in people, especially if Pluto has stationed upon planets in one’s chart. Thankfully, Mercury is direct now, so it will be easier to communicate with people. You might even be able to get the car to start. So, there we have it—the undertone of the planetary energies in the lead-up to the full moon on the 14th of April. With that, let us look at the dynamics of the full moon itself and see what the Festival of the Risen Christ holds in store for us. The symbol for the degree of the Sun sets the tone for the solar Festival, and it reads thus:

Blown inward by the wind, the curtains of an open window take the shape of a cornucopia. 24 Aries

There are supernatural forces at work on us in the world, and they are very powerful and life-changing at the moment. This symbol compliments the symbol for the eclipse that just occurred. Whereas the Soul as the Silent Watcher was gazing outward upon the life at the eclipse, now the onus is upon us to take the energy of the eclipse and to mold the mind into a more useful instrument. The inner must give shape to the outer, in terms of one’s life. That is the promise of this full moon—a life more fully suited to the Soul’s plans and much clearer in its presentation. The following planetary dynamics are in evidence.

The Sun is trine to the retrograde Pluto. Inner strength, power and purpose is being unfolded. Obstacles are being beneficently removed. Aside from the full moon axis, the Sun makes no other aspect. The symbol for the degree of the moon shows us what is being thrown into relief and awareness. It reads thus:

A butterfly with a third wing on its left side. 24 Libra

This symbol implies mutation and development of new powers and/or abilities, borne out of the retrograde Saturn station and the stationing of Uranus to come. The focused power of the Crystal Gazer will cause persistent, steady and long-term changes within all of us. The ‘third wing’ which we are to grow is a gift from the past Soul-history which the Saturn station has released and brought forward in time with karma.

There is a t-square with a base opposition of Mars/Pluto, both square to the apex Mercury. Communications will be fraught under this influence and people will be inclined to force their ideas upon others, to speak out of turn and there will be a great tendency to verbal conflicts on all sides. Count to 50 before you speak—if you can wait that long. Be careful around sharp objects and be careful not to fall, either. Sure-footedness, both in action and in speech is the order of the day. In addition, there can be sudden changes of heart because there is an applying conjunction of Venus to Uranus. There are possibilities of affairs and sudden new loves here as well. Jupiter is moving slowly in retrograde motion toward a trine with Uranus, which comes fully into effect in mid-May. Relationships begun now should be viewed very cautiously because of the t-square just mentioned. We still have the Jupiter/Neptune square in effect, so all things should be very carefully considered, due to the fact that illusions can be magnified under the effect of that square. Look very closely at the undercurrents of relationships and affairs of the heart for the next couple of months. There are likely to be some surprises—and some not-too-pleasant ones—in the background. Being the full moon of Aries, this period marks sudden starts, but also a tendency to brashness and foolishness. All actions should be very carefully considered. At the same time, too, all possibilities that present themselves should be held up for examination, because there can be some real gems in the midst of all the excitement.

It is said that a change is as good as a holiday, and the winds of change are beginning to gather force. I have felt both—change and holiday—in recent weeks. I had but little idea of what awaited me when I was standing there listening to my banjo-picking mate in the market, but I was looking forward to getting away and seeing all my friends and family. I knew I would reconnect with parts of my past and that there would be new opportunities. At the conference, I saw a mate I had not seen in 13 years, and the connection was just as strong, if not stronger than the last time I saw him. Old mates, we are. Groups like the ones at the conference always hold old connections with past loves of all types because we all reincarnate in groups. There are renewed calls for greater love and service, and refreshing points of view. There are always surprises and some things we would rather forget as well. It is the same with family, too. With large groups like that we are simply working with extended families on the inner planes, and the dynamics are no less potent at a personal level than they are in the setting of a nuclear family. On the whole, the conference was a great success and the energy of the emerging Christ within each of us was very much present. We’ll see how it plays out during the year.

In the weeks to come, let the music of the Soul play upon the chamber of the heart and resonate out clearly for all around us to hear. Life is full and demands an open heart for the fullness of experience to work its magic upon us. And, if new music is heard, give a listen. My old mate of 13 years ago claims music as his greatest service—and a grand service that is! Nothing opens the heart like the resonance of two or more Souls in harmony—in harmony of purpose, of life, of goals, of shared experience and of simple human loving. Is that not what we all want out of life—that common sharing of life and love? The Christ within—the true risen Christ—holds that promise and example for us. Let us all hear the call, and the music of the heart and of the spheres will guide us all to a better place—and to exciting new dimensions of living! May it be so for us all. As my friend in the market was heard to say on our parting:

Have a bluegrass day!

Blessings to you all this Easter season and in the year to come.

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