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Crisis and Reorientation

Malvin Artley
April 2009

Greetings Friends.

Greetings, my Friends! Fertile is the mind beset by conflict. No, I am not in the midst of some huge crisis of consciousness. I have a story to relate that will set the tone for this letter, the missive for the Festival of the Risen Christ, for it is well-known that the facing of conflict will more often than not give us cause to see things in new ways and impel us to break free of confining circumstances or old ways of living that no longer work. Such a dynamic is part and parcel of the energy of Aries, for Aries brings in the new. It begins the cycle of manifestation, archetypally considered, and anything new is quite often viewed with eyes askance. In this regard, one could say of Aries:

"In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." Cervantes

With these points in mind, and throughout this letter, here is a little offering.

I have found that periods of solitude, enforced or self-imposed, can cause one to think in ways often quite different from thoughts one would ordinarily entertain. When I was a kid there was a period of several years where we moved house a few times. The first couple of times had little effect because I was still in the same school and was still relatively close to all my old friends. It was an adventure moving house in those days. Of course, it is a different matter now because one has to be responsible for getting all that stuff from point 'A' to point 'B', if you know what I mean. In those days, though, it was fun - but then we had to move across town. My dad got a property allotment from the college where he was professor and we set up shop across the city. It was unfamiliar and it was at a time of life where certain changes had begun to set in and I was feeling a little awkward about the whole thing. After we had moved, I withdrew into myself. I was in a new school, amongst strangers and in unfamiliar territory. My family didn't notice so much, but to me the effect was quite pronounced and uncomfortable. So, I had a period of a couple of years of self-imposed solitude. I was friends with the next door neighbor, but that was about it. The 'Rooster of Solitude' in my Chinese astrology makes a lot more sense to me looking back on it all now.

A mind with too much time on its hands can be a troublesome thing. I can remember several times in my life where I had too much time on my hands, like that period. The time I spent withdrawn as a youth mentioned in the previous paragraph led to an intense interest in science for me. I had to have something to do with my mind - an outlet. I turned my time toward investigating technical things and producing a number of little projects, mainly electronic in nature. That put me on the path to the machinery repairs that I do for a living now. A little bit later it produced an interest in guitar and I ended up playing in bands for a few years for a living. A later brief period of solitude found me interested in astrology, and you can see what happened from there. A few years back I found myself in a period of solitude once again and I discovered that I enjoyed writing about things that interested me. It was done in private to begin with, but that writing eventually began to produce these letters. Often, before those times of solitude there was some sort of precipitating crisis of sorts that caused me to sit on my own for a time. In those times of withdrawal from the world certain things would begin to form an interest for me and those interests would be sparked by a book, a conversation, a 'chance meeting' or something along those lines. When we are involved in the affairs of this world such happenings often go unnoticed, but when one takes time to 'smell the roses' life takes on a different meaning. We get to feel our inner promptings.

Each time these periods of solitude have happened the pattern has been the same, and it is fairly universal with humanity. An event is precipitated, causing a crisis. Because of the stress induced, one's thinking has to change. We either withdraw or seek immediate help. Sometimes we do both. If we do the latter then often those conversations can spark something within us, leading us in new directions. It is perhaps an unfortunate thing if people agree with us and placate us, although a little of that is needed in times of acute stress - unfortunate because we are then less inclined to sit and take stock of ourselves. We fail to see the opportunity in such occurrences if we are made too comfortable unless they are pointed out to us. If we do withdraw for a time, though, then we begin to see meaning in what has happened, hopefully, if we do not give in to negativity. This is the moment where the opportunity can be fully seized. My first mentor here in Australia - a true spiritual friend - always said to me that one should never make a decision when one's mind is in turmoil unless it is absolutely necessary. He said the same in times where people were pressuring us. If we make decisions under pressure from someone and we are forced to lean a certain way then we leave ourselves open to being manipulated - used, in other words. However, if we take the time and let things settle, then doors open. The trick in all this is to find the peaceful center. Then, no matter what is happening around us, we will always know the right direction to move. The eye of the storm is the place from which the storm is directed.

Crisis, reorientation, effort in a new direction, eventual unity with others in that effort: these are the hallmarks and process of the sign Aries. True, this process is fairly universal in the human condition, but no other sign brings this particular process through so strongly as does Aries. Every new direction I have taken in life, for instance, especially when it has been self-initiated (also a hallmark of the sign) has brought me into a new sphere of people and I have met many great friends and co-workers as a result. It is this self-initiated effort and reorientation which has brought me the greatest benefit in life when I have found myself in unfamiliar territory - outside of my comfort zone, in other words. It is the same for all of us, really, if we can find that center and sense of direction.

It is said that there are three astrological signs that act as catalysts in the lives of people - Aries, Taurus and Capricorn. When one is born with any of these signs as their Sun or Ascendant then they tend to act as catalysts in the lives of people around them. As a result, they tend to invite the same sorts of experiences to themselves. What this means in terms of one's personal life is that these signs bring drama into one's life, coaxing us constantly to take a fresh look at ourselves. Of course, 'drama' is also part and parcel of the human condition, but these signs especially seem to have more than their fair share of it. We need to keep in mind, though, that one's natal signs are only one of a set of three, since the persona has three distinct levels, and as a result, I would offer the following: natal Virgos, Librans and Aries Sun-signs can do this for us emotionally, whereas natal Capricorns, Aquarians and Cancerians can do that for us in the realm of ideas. There is a theory for you. From this, we can see that virtually anyone can act as a catalyst in one's life, but those three signs natally - Aries, Taurus and Capricorn - can act as that like no other.

For those unfamiliar with the scientific terminology, what exactly does a catalyst do? Well, chemically, catalysts moderate reactions. It is defined as:

"a substance which accelerates or retards a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change."

Otherwise, a catalyst is defined as "a person or thing which produces change". Looking at the three 'catalyst signs', I have seen so many times when people born under those signs have produced reactions in people and had huge dramas as a result, only at the end of it to look around them, scratch their heads and say, "What in the world are you all going on about?", completely oblivious to what they have just precipitated. This happens for the most part when the person is unaware of how they affect people. For the benefit of those people who know me who have those signs as part of their nature, I am not singling you out or pointing a finger. It is simply a dynamic. Every sign has its modus operandi, its lessons and its gifts, and we can be largely unconscious of it all, and often are. I have to smile to myself, though, when I see it happening, as a sense of confirmation. Astrology does, indeed, work. It is almost as if those signs are used as unwitting agents of change when they are found in people's charts by Sun or Ascendant. Aries does it by introducing new ideas. They are great starters of projects, but they often seem not to carry them through, instead leaving the finishing to someone else, often much to the consternation of the 'finisher'. The Aries has other projects to start, of course, and has not the time to wait around to see the old one finished.

Taureans instigate change through sheer force or dint of effort. It is difficult to stop a Taurean once they get their minds set on something. Many are the ones who have been left worse for wear in the wake of a determined Taurean. The esoteric ruler, Vulcan, is constantly hammering away, reshaping the life. With Capricorn, change comes through 'what must be' and through work. For the Capricorn, status is the measure of worth or success and success can be all-important to them. It is, in its way, the most ambitious of the signs. Ambition is the great driving force with them and their greatest source of consternation as a result. For the Taurean, the greatest upset comes when the thing desired is denied or when security eludes them. Such a state of affairs causes a loss of self-esteem in the Taurean. For the Aries, the greatest frustration in life comes for them when people ignore them. I could do this sort of thing for all the signs, but we are particularly focusing on these three in part because they also lead to some of the most exalted spiritual states of any of the signs in the zodiac.

Aries leads us to the point where we ultimately gain control over all the forces in the 'three worlds', but especially the realm of ideas. Taurus leads us ultimately to the revelation of the divine. Taurus lends itself to the opening of the 'divine eye'. Capricorn ultimately leads us to the 'mountain top' of spiritual life and thus off the cycle of life, death and rebirth. One of the key things to realize about all three of these signs is that they can confer a profound sense of executive ability in the world. They are the signs of the 'world executive', if you will - Aries through the world of ideas, Taurus through the eventual release of the control of and the proper channeling of desire and Capricorn through the control of the material forces and capital of the world. The first two, Aries and Taurus, are particularly important to us right now because they govern two of the three major spiritual festivals of the year - the one under consideration now (Aries) and the next and most powerful one, Wesak (Taurus). For the people reading who are born under one or more of these three signs, consider yourselves to be the prime agents for change in the lives of people and yourselves. It is not always easy, but the eventual rewards far outweigh any difficulty if rightly handled. We will cover more about Taurus in the next letter.

Aries is governed by the planets Mars (orthodox), Mercury (esoteric) and Uranus (hierarchical). In the orthodox rulership, Mars brings conflict and self-assertion with Aries. This is the headstrong expression of the sign, bringing those crises which lead to reorientation. If the Aries type can rightly handle such conflicts and look for the meaning in them that leads to the esoteric ruler, Mercury, which is the lord of the mind. The esoteric rulers never apply unless one is more or less on the spiritual path. The esoteric rulers govern the life of the disciple, the 'learner'. Mercury itself produces conflict, but it is a much more subtle type of conflict. Mercury confers the ability to see all sides of a question. It is the 'messenger of the Sun', the 'mouthpiece of the Logos'. Mercury through Aries brings in ideas that change the world. Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Erdos (mathematical genius), Rene Descartes, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Ratzinger and Johann Sebastian Bach are examples of such by sun-sign. People who had Aries rising who were more under the influence of Mercury than Mars with respect to Aries are/were Louis Armstrong, Che Guevara, John Lennon, Alexander Graham Bell and Deepak Chopra, to name a few. These people were not beyond causing controversy in their day, but they do or did bring 'down' ideas that changed the shape of things. They were or are pioneers in their fields and their ideas eventually unified masses of people in directions new to the world.

The preceding is not to say that Aries types are the only ones to have new ideas, but Aries is the archetype for such. Every year with the Aries Festival the tone for the impress of the next steps ahead for humanity is set and those ideas that will bring forth the divine in every person are anchored in the mental continuum of the planet. Aries confers "the searchlight of the Logos, seeking that which can be used for divine expression." It states "I come forth, and from the plane of mind, I rule." It manifests as "The Light of Life Itself" - that dim point of light at the center of every being which, fanned over the long eons of time, eventually blazes forth as the fully realized and enlightened Christ-Self. It is the 'alpha', which leads inexorably to the 'omega'.

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth - I came not to send peace, but a sword" - Matthew 10:34

"For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

"For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" - Matthew 10:35

"A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." - Matthew 13:57

The preceding quotes from the Bible, aside from being largely quotes by the Christ of the time overshadowing Jesus, beautifully illustrate what Aries is really all about. Buddhist practitioners, for instance, recognize that the seat of the divine mind - the Buddha mind or nature - is anchored firmly in the heart chakra. The ideas that Jesus gave to the world at the time flew in the face of orthodoxy. He was hated for his words by those in power. They were revolutionary words, yet so beautiful in their simplicity and clarity. They were liberating words and planted the seeds of future full enlightenment in the hearts of people at the time. Those words still do that. They are timeless and immortal. It was the same for Shakyamuni Buddha in his day and time. It is the same for any person who plants the seed of the divine in the minds of people. Anyone who follows his or her true heart will automatically come up against resistance and scorn by those who wish to keep the status quo, be it friends, family, community or lovers. We spoke of the spiritual friend in the last letter, and the true friend does exactly what is described here - they confront us for us to be true to our hearts if they know we are living falsely.

The mind of wisdom (the voice in the heart, if you want to call it that) is like a sword. It cuts away our preconceptions, our erroneous thinking, our unhealthy attachments to the world and our ignorance to the truth. Once that is done, then our rise into the Light of the Christ (Bodhisattva) is assured and unstoppable. Aries leads us to the feet of the risen Christ, until we realize fully that it is us in reality, and that we have never really been separated from that. Crucified (figuratively) by the resistance of others, pierced through the heart by the sword of truth, we walk the path of the great Bodhisattvas of the world and eventually, unfailingly, join their ranks. This is the promise and reality of Easter, the Festival of the Risen Christ. If we follow the words of the great Teachers of the world - though our ideas or way of life may seem absurd to others - we can achieve what others deem impossible.

The full moon takes place in Australia on the 9th of this month at 11:56 PM AEST (1:56 PM UT). The Sun is at the 20th degree of Aries, the Sabian symbol for which reads:

"A young girl feeding birds in winter."

This symbol says a lot about compassion. Food is scarce in the wild during winter and the young girl in the symbol is showing care for the less fortunate creatures in her vicinity in the act of feeding them. If we remember from the previous letter, though, the symbol for the Sun in that letter was also about a young girl and a white lamb. The feminine is emphasized in this figure, the same as in the one for the full moon just passed. In this symbol, though, we are not told how cold it is, if there is snow, or anything else, other than the fact that it takes place in winter. Winter is a time of retreat and seclusion, a time when we are more prone to reflect upon things rather than go outside and involve ourselves in activity. Winter can be a frustrating time of year for many because they do not like or wear the cold very well and they get cabin fever from having to stay indoors too much. The same is true of the mind when one is confined and it has no engagement with the 'outside'. In the symbol the young girl goes outside and feeds the hungry birds. She performs a constructive and caring act. If we are confined in our mental space we have choices to make about what to do with our thoughts. Thought must lead to some sort of activity - to a manifestation of some sort. We need to do something with what we think. Will it be constructive? Just ticking over? Self-destructive? It is up to us, but in times of seclusion we have to especially guard our thoughts well.

If we look at the world today we are being faced with certain decisions. Many have lost their jobs and livelihoods and some have lost their homes. Certainly for most of us, finances are stretched. The world is a worrying place. These worries cause a sense of confinement for many people. Hope is lost very often when the cares of the world overtake us. What will we do? What do we do with our thoughts? Do we try to escape the negativity we could so easily experience? Most people have families to care for in some way or another. The clear indication in this symbol and a theme which is so often repeated in these times is that we need to show compassion and care toward others in hard times. We have to get out of the comfort zone, into the cold reality of life and transform negativity, if there is any, into care for others. The symbol for the Moon in this figure goes along the same lines. It reads:

"A rabbi performing his duties." 21 Libra

There is not a lot to be said about this symbol as it is really self-explanatory. The rabbi is serving and seeking to inspire his charges. He draws upon the age-old traditions of his faith and dutifully, even joyfully, performs his tasks. This symbol says a lot about the application of inherited or ancestral wisdom. Between the two symbols the message for this full moon and for the year in terms of new ideas and projects initiated is plain enough: we have to motivate ourselves toward compassion for others and application on our spiritual lives, whatever our tradition. There is something quite unique about this full moon, though, because the ways this will all work out will hold hidden gifts or twists of fate. There are regular and enmeshed geometric patterns of quintile series aspects in this figure.

There is a quite powerful triangle formed of said aspect series by the Sun and Saturn, with Pluto at the midpoint in tredecile aspect to both planets. This configuration will give rise to the need to change one's entire value system. Quintiles, if you might recall, need crises to activate their potential. The Moon and Venus are the 'release points' for this triangle, further emphasizing the power of the feminine in the reorganization of people's outlooks. The women of the world have a huge role to play in the coming world order, equal in every way to the role of men. It is generally women who keep the family and community stories alive and pass on the accumulated wisdom through the generations. Women are also generally more geared to the role of caregivers. Of course, it is not the sole role of women to do so, but they generally play more of a part in that than do men. This triangle also warns of the threat of loss in relationship or health. If so, the loss would occur due to some psychological reason - a projection, unaddressed problem or self-sabotage. Guilt has to be watched any time Pluto is active in a configuration, too. Venus squares Pluto in this figure, so the threat of affairs is very real as a reason for the breakdown of already established relationships.

Added to the preceding sentence is the fact that Venus also forms a small stellium with Mars and Uranus, Uranus being the midpoint of the stellium. This is a configuration that can denote dangerous liaisons, but at the very least, intensified passions of all sorts. It is an aspect that speaks of high nervous tension. There is a quintile rectangle formed by the full moon axis and the nodal axis. Ordinarily, this would be a configuration that would indicate meetings with people, but since it is formed out of quintiles, such meetings will likely be between quite unusual or gifted people and there may be major flare-ups of issues between people with the initial meetings. Any time one finds this many quintiles in a chart there is always the possibility of sexual issues arising, for the aspect is often implicated in such issues. Coupled with what we just saw with the Venus/Mars/Uranus stellium, sparks could fly!

There is tremendous creative potential in this chart. This is a year that will see the development of ideas that might seem totally out of left field, so-to-speak. The creative potential is amplified by the fact that the full moon axis forms any 'easy opposition' with Jupiter, the greater benefic. Jupiter, as well, is conjoined with Chiron and Neptune, an alliance which the Magi astrologers would say is quite magical and magnetic in its own right, even though the orbs are a little wide for their liking. In all, then, this is a figure which speaks to the very heart of everything we have discussed in this letter: seclusion, the fermenting of ideas, crisis, the discovery of new ways of thinking and doing things and the absolute necessity this year of getting out in the world and applying our spirituality, whatever it is, to the fullest. Take time for yourselves. Ideas will come to you.

True solitude and seclusion is really only a state of mind and has nothing to do with physical surroundings. The times when I have acted best in times of tension are when I knew I was 'centered' and the results have almost always been good. Eventually, when crisis comes, we learn to step back a bit in that moment and take even a brief moment and simply observe. The best idea in the world might come in the blink of an eye if we can do that, and they often do. I am not always able to do that but it gets better over time. Even so, regular times of quiet during the day are a huge help if we can set them aside. We don't write symphonies, poetry, compose letters, tinker with our inventions or anything else constructive when there is a fire on the stove or when the kids are screaming in our ears. We all need peace. We all absolutely need inner peace.

The Soul may call forth what is best in us at times on the burning ground of life, but we seldom if ever hear the voice of the highest except in times of stillness. Sit with yourselves until your mind cannot take it any more, then see what comes to you. I have the feeling you will be most pleased and surprised at what dawns on you if you can channel that energy into something good. There is so much locked away in us of which we know little. And, if what you think seems absurd, give it a try anyway - within reason, of course. You never know, though. If you try, you may actually find that something you thought not very likely before - that absurd thought you had - is actually the very thing for which you had been looking for some time. And, if people don't like it - well - too bad! :-)

I look forward to hearing about what all my strange friends have been up to!

Blessings, and Happy Easter.
8 Apr 2009