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Capricorn and Life on the Farm

By Malvin Artley
January 2007

Greetings, Friends!

I trust that all of you had a great Christmas and that you are looking forward to the New Year's celebrations tomorrow evening. How does the old saying go? "A change is as good as a holiday."(?) Well, the events of the past few weeks have certainly proven to me that the saying is true, and I have seen its efficacy many times over the years. I was ready for a change this Christmas. Something inside me cried out for a change of scenery, of life, for something completely different. So, I decided that this year I would drive across to Melbourne over Christmas with a friend of mine. The open road has a certain appeal when one wants to clear one's head. We left early in the afternoon and it was a good drive, but in the evening we decided that we would stop on the way at one of the little towns and villages that dot the map along the Prince's Highway, rather than drive all the way into Melbourne. We were tired, worn out from Christmas preparations and ready to eat, but as we pulled into the town the main road was blocked off. Strange. We looked up ahead, but we couldn't make out exactly what was going on. There was a large steel structure across the road, by all appearances. The police cars were blocking the way into the town center and there were detour signs around the obstructed main street. The truckies weren't too happy about it and the local neighborhoods on the detour route were suddenly greeted with large road trains flying past their homes. It wasn't exactly a good omen for a stop-over. We were open for anything, though, and undeterred by a little 'road interest'.

So, we followed the detour around and eventually found a hotel. Once we were settled into our respective rooms, we went out to find a restaurant and maybe a little entertainment afterward. We were not to be disappointed. We hopped into the car and off we went. The parking fairies (you have to be in good graces with the parking fairies if you live in a metro area) found us a suitable resting spot for the car. Once the car was parked, we got out and started to walk toward the center of town, wanting to find out what all the fuss was about. Then we began to notice that everyone else in the town seemed to have the same idea that we had. As we got closer we could see what looked to me to be a large piece of farm equipment laid out across the main road. That was all I could make out in the dimming light and long shadows. I thought there had been an accident or that the thing had somehow gotten stuck or broken down. It was certainly painted in the colors of a piece of farm machinery-green and safety yellow. Being a city fellow, I didn't know any better. We had parked along the detour route and we, along with everyone else, were dodging the trucks as we all migrated toward the town center and the eventual satisfaction of our curiosity.

Finally, we spotted a hotel with a restaurant and got up the courage to ask one of the locals what was going on. The guy we talked to was very personable and friendly. You meet wonderful people wherever you go, but there is something about folks in country areas that is especially welcoming, and I was about to get a taste of life in the outback. Finally, after due enquiry, my piece of 'farm machinery' actually turned out to be a carousel that had been set up in the center of town. What a let down! I was disappointed, because I am always interested in machines, and carousels aren't exactly as interesting as a large product of mechanical engineering-at least to me. The kids of the town felt differently about it, as I was soon to see. I would get over it, though. So, why was there a carousel in the middle of the street? Yep, you guessed it-the town of Kaniva was about to have its annual Christmas street party, and we were just in time for the festivities! I would have to make do, I guess. You'll have to forgive a man who works on machinery for a living. One's consciousness tends to get fixed in certain grooves after a while, but it goes to show how our day-to-day concepts of life color our awareness of realities that are presented to us. My sense of community and aesthetics was about to be enriched (truly).

Kidding aside, it was a grand affair. One of the local bands had set up in front of one of the storefronts and soon the strains of classic Erich Clapton echoed through the streets. The pubs were jammed with locals soaking up the atmosphere and a few 'spirits' as well. There were kids everywhere, a few food stalls were set up, teenagers were making furtive attempts at romance, gangs of younger boys were running around with water pistols and my friend and I eventually treated ourselves to a 13 oz steak. It's hard to beat an outback steak. And then, by 10:00 (that's PM, that same night), it was all over. The streets were silent, the carousel was a lonely specter in the center of the town and the kids were all at home in anticipation of Father Christmas in a couple of days. Life was good. So, we returned to our rooms, wiser about the local machinery and customs, bellies bulging with steak and chips and in anticipation of the impending arrival of Father Christmas ourselves-and our trip ahead in the morning. Incidentally, if you want a café latte in Kaniva, at least, you generally get pointed to the coffee urn. Us city folk can be a bit presumptuous and ignorant of country life. It is a good life, though, and full of wonderful people.

Thus began my Christmas holidays, and there were many more pleasurable twists in the journey ahead for me, but those might find their way into other letters. I felt renewed from the trip and gained a different perspective on certain aspects of my life as it is at the moment. Upon arrival back in Adelaide it was business as usual, though, and life resumed its standard pace-but with a difference due to the perspective gained on the journey. With that in mind, we have moved into the spiritual interlude of the year (with the Sun's ingress into Capricorn) and into the season wherein people begin to gain perspective on the year ahead and to hopefully make a firmer resolve toward achieving the goals they have set for themselves in life. My little interlude over Christmas did me a world of good. Since this is the final letter from me for 2006, I think it would be safe to say that most of us will be glad to see the back side of this year. When I was at uni (university), I had a classmate whose favorite saying was "Glad to see your back." (instead of 'you're' back) Basically, it is an insult and meant that he was happy to see the person referred to take their leave of him. That is certainly how most people I speak with refer to 2006 as a year. It is not that I mean to start this letter on a sour note or to end the year that way, but emotionally, it has been a difficult year for many. On the other side of things it has been a period of great realization, spiritual growth and the unburdening of the Soul from the binds of the past, so it has been a very good year, spiritually considered.

When the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn thus begins the most inward point of the year. In the northern winter the spiritual kingdom-the Kingdom of Souls-enters into its deepest meditative phase. It is a time of sabbatical from outer work and a period of the most intense spiritual focus. In a season wherein we are all supposed to be in retreat, most of us are in a frenzy of activity-buying gifts, catching up with friends and family, rushing to and fro getting the final preparations in order for the 'big day'-doing everything but what our higher Selves would like us to do. For those who are more sensitive to the call of the Inner Voice, such activity and outward, material focus makes one feel ill-at-ease and like what is expected of us from those close to us is wrong and an imposition, which it is from the inner perspective. Really, from December throughout most of January is a time of great spiritual opportunity and a period wherein a closer contact can be made with the Teachers on the inner planes than is possible at any other time of the year, except for the three major spiritual festivals (full moon periods) of April, May and June.

During the Capricorn interlude the Teachers cast their eye out upon the sea of humanity and they look carefully for signs of Life, if you will-for those people who have made real progress during the previous year and whose Light has increased significantly. In other words, during the winter interlude, and if we are under instruction by a spiritual Teacher, we are assessed as to our progress during the year. It puts one in mind of the Christmas Carol "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". We are checked to see if we have been 'naughty or nice' and whether or not we are ready to take the next needed steps ahead in our development. It is also a time wherein the Teachers take on new pupils, at least on the inner planes, because if a person has 'lit up' spiritually, so-to-speak, during the preceding year, then they are approached by Teachers on the inner planes if the time is right (if the karma of the person involved dictates such). Thus, the Capricorn interval, especially, is a time of great opportunity, of choice and of fulfillment if we are ready. This whole scenario just described harks back to the old saying "When the student is ready, the Teacher appears." What greater gift could we receive for Christmas? We may not take any note of it on the outer planes (in the physical waking consciousness), but it eventually filters through into our outer awareness. Conversely, if we have 'stepped backward' in our progress, then corrective measures are induced on the inner planes during this period that will work out in the year(s) to come in the outer life. We are often not conscious of those steps, either, but we experience them as compressive and limiting experiences later on.

This brings us to the rulers of the sign Capricorn itself. Each sign has three rulers: the orthodox, with which we are all familiar, the esoteric, which rules over our inner development and the archetypal or Hierarchical, which governs the archetypes each sign represents. Saturn rules Capricorn at the orthodox and esoteric levels. Saturn is the planet of 'getting what we are due'. At one and the same time, it represents ambition and achievement as well as restriction and loss. In the ambition and achievement phase of its working, Saturn allows us to 'ascend to the mountain top', which is an archetypal symbol of the sign. It presents us with opportunities for work, struggle and final achievement if we are able to master the requisite tasks. We are always tested upon such matters during the winter months. In the restriction and loss phase of Saturn's workings we are given opportunities to learn. We are stopped in our tracks in some way and made to look at our lives in order that we can take corrective measures. This is where the idea of New Year's resolutions comes into our consciousness.

Nowhere do we see our progress during the year better indicated to us than through our intimate relations during the Christmas period. It is one of the most joyful times of the year, as well as one of the most painful. There are countless stories of broken family relations at Christmas, of arguments, hard feelings, separations and 'missed steps' or opportunities between intimates during a time of year when we are supposed to display all that is best within us. Sometimes such confrontations and crises are meant to move us on from destructive and abusive relationships when we cannot do it consciously or any other way. Other times such conflicts arise because we do not see past our own issues and take the necessary corrective measures. In other words, if we do not look inward and find the root of what is causing the conflict, then we set ourselves up to repeat the same scenario over and again until we get it right-until we finally gain the essence of the experience. Saturn governs the essence of experience. On the whole, most people find Christmas to be a joyful time of year (that is to say, the entire period from December through January). The true gift of the Christmas season is that it shows us where we have achieved and where we could perhaps do a little more work. We should be careful in our assessment of such matters, however, because the most obvious answer is not always the correct one. On the whole, we could rightly say that if the choices we make during the Capricorn interlude take us upon a path that will lead us to greater spiritual potency and freedom in the New Year, then we have chosen wisely and correctly.

Capricorn represents all that is best (highest) within humanity and all that is worst (most materialistic). That is why we see extremes of both sides of the sign during the Christmas season. I keep going on about Christmas because it is a good example, because most of the readers of these letters are Christian/Westerners and because it falls squarely within the Capricorn interlude. The entire Christmas/New Year's period is embraced by and representative of Capricorn. Other traditions have their holidays during this time as well and they probably experience similar dynamics. I simply offer Christmas as an example because it is familiar to most readers, not as an archetype of the sign. In Capricorn we see the most spiritual and altruistic motives come out in people, and I refer to the time of the year here as well as the expression of the Capricorn type. We also see the grossest materialism. There is more money spent during the Christmas season on people's selfishness than at any other time of the year. Of course there is a great spirit of giving in that and selflessness as well, but the end result is that a huge amount of money is spent that could go to better uses. How many useless Christmas gifts did you get this year? Perhaps the better question to ask is, how much did we give to those in need this year? Christmas typically marks the greatest time of giving to social causes, too. So, we can see that Capricorn is a real mixed bag in terms of how it manifests-all the best and the worst. It is how we choose that determines where the next year takes us, so Saturn thus guides us along externally and inwardly.

To cap off the discussion of Capricorn for this year, if we look at the archetypal ruler of the sign, which is Venus, then we see the principle of justice, fair play and right relations working out, all of which Venus represents. Ultimately, the Capricorn interlude should lead us to a much clearer sense of what is just and true in our lives. It should lead us to the pinnacle (the mountain top) of our essence and thus to self-mastery. The combination of Venus and Saturn is a most powerful combination when it comes to 'the righteous way' of living. With Venus we have the path of love. With Saturn we have the path of truth. When the two are joined and in harmony (through right-choosing and right-relating) then our success (spiritually speaking) is assured. No one ever achieves their best in life unless love and truth are one in one's efforts. If we live our truth in the fullness of love, then there is no other way than 'up' so-to-speak. Our progress takes on a life of its own and we are literally impelled forward along our way. We feel a sort of irresistible force that will not allow for anything but our fulfillment as Souls, even if that means we have to make some very painful choices and ones that might seem wrong, ill-conceived or even cruel to the outer observer. No one can second-guess the higher Self, and painful choices can and often do lead to stunning and beautiful outcomes. When 'Saturn and Venus are aligned', figuratively speaking, there is no impediment to the higher Self and we can literally and figuratively move mountains. Thus, we come to a consideration of the dynamics of the full moon figure for this Capricorn Solar festival of 2006.

As is the case with any horoscope, whether personal or mundane (worldly/event), there are at least two distinct layers to the interpretation that comes out of the figure. On the surface, this will be a period full of surprises and turns of fate. In the 'underbelly' of the chart, we find the potential for obsessive thinking (seems to be a common theme of late), graphic resolutions of double-bind scenarios (also a common theme) and for potentially quite dramatic change. This full moon takes place on the 4th of January 2006 at 12:57 AM AEDT (3rd Jan at 1:57 PM UT). The tone or key note for this figure, aside from the Capricornian dynamics, is seen in the symbol for the solar degree, which reads:

"A fire worshipper meditates on the ultimate realities of existence." 13 Capricorn

The reference to fire-gazing or fire-scrying, as it is sometimes called, is all-too-apparent. What is it about fire that draws our attention like nothing else will? It is hypnotic, trance-inducing and carries us away to the far reaches of our being. Well, our very essence is fire. We are fiery Beings, as seen on the inner, subjective planes. Our ultimate reality-our highest Essence-is fire itself. Our universe is warmed and run by fire. We are the products of the fire of countless suns. The higher Self is a Fire that warms, nourishes, burns away and cleanses. It is a Fire that liberates and moves us forward in evolution. Without Fire, there is no life. So, anyone who has an ability to scry fire has a key to the very mysteries of life itself. The higher Self is beyond all temporal time, beyond all personal boundaries, eternal and ultimate. Fire contains within it all the keys to transformation. It is no wonder, then, that the original interpretation for this symbol was 'the subjective quest for ultimates beyond mortality', as coined by Dane Rudhyar. Therefore, we have the summation of Capricorn in this symbol in certain ways. Firstly, there is the reference to meditation-that is, interlude, pause and contemplation. And, secondly, there is the reference to Truth, Essence, our highest goals and the transcendence open to us in this season of the year (and at all times, really). Fire is our highest good.

The counterpoint to the preceding symbol is found in the symbol for the degree of the Moon, which reads:

"A hand with a prominent thumb is held out for study." 13 Cancer

Palmistry is both a study of character and of destiny. In the thumb is found an indication of a person's will-power. The bigger the thumb, the stronger the will. The stiffer the thumb, the more intractable and stubborn the persona. So, in this symbol we find a clear reference to willful thinking. A strong will is needed if one's spiritual destiny is to be fulfilled. We just have to be careful in the process that we do not become unbending and intractable in the process, unless it is called for to overcome some obstacle. In such a case, we have an example of what might be called 'tough love'. Since the Moon always opposes the Sun during solar festivals, the symbol just described highlights what will be 'in our face', in a manner of speaking. It is that which we must examine, that of which we must become aware and, in many instances, overcome, since the Moon represents the past in esoteric matters. However, the Moon also represents emotions, and many people have exhibited the most stubborn and immovable emotional states in recent months, often without them even realizing it. The surfeit of Earth in the Chinese charts for the past few months has shown that very clearly. The scene is set then, for the dynamics of this full moon: personal will and transcendence, both very Capricornian qualities.

This brings us to the obvious and to the underbelly in this chart. On the surface of the chart (the obvious), the Moon trines Uranus, which is picking up speed since it is now direct. That also means that Uranus is sextile to the Sun. At its best, this augers well for personal transformation, positive experiences with the same, unusual occurrences with that and sudden twists of fate that will serve to bring that transformation about. This is a very humanitarian and broad-minded setup if we are open to receiving the wisdom. The problem is the Moon's degree and the other aspect patterns of which it is a focal point. That brings us to the 'underbelly' of the chart.

There are two types of interlaced and regular aspect series of which the Moon forms the release point. The first is a rather striking 'tetrahedron' of undecile aspects, the other three points and the base of which are outlined by the South Node, Venus and Pluto. Now, if there has been a double-bind scenario in which you have been enmeshed, you will have an opportunity to see the dynamics of it over this period and, perhaps, break yourself free from it. This is a powerfully compulsive and entrenched sort of 'love-triangle' combination. People will either break free (Pluto/Uranus) or they will become even more hopelessly enmeshed (the other three points). There are midpoints in this chart that indicate over-thinking on matters of the heart, a lot of erotic imagination (which is fine if the relationship is sound), but also illusions about love, common tragic destinies, a lack of self-control and peculiar destinies in love. It all sounds like the makings of a great soap opera. The saving grace here is that the Moon will be powerfully activated by the other regular aspect pattern-a quintile kite.

The quintile is an aspect that brings 'artistic or creative use of crisis situations'. The Magi Society of astrologers has maintained for a while now that quintiles bring catastrophes with them. I have certainly seen this to be the case, especially when there are regular patterns of quintiles. Since the Moon is the release point of the pattern, the implication is that people's intractability will provoke crises that will bring about some pretty surprising results. We may not see it on a world scale, but it is very likely in personal relations. Once released, however, and once the dust settles, some very unusual and creative energy can be released that can go a long way toward a greater spiritual expression for people. I started writing these letters after such a crisis, and I had never thought of such a thing before. It just came to me 'out of the blue', but it has brought me a lot of joy since. The other three points of the kite are Jupiter, the Sun and Neptune, a powerfully creative trio of influences.

Finally, with regard to aspects with the Moon, the Moon is also the tie-point to two quindeciles-one to Pluto and the other to Venus. If you want to obsess about love, then write about it in your journals or actually write a romance novel. Quindeciles are all about obsession. If there is an actual relationship about which you are obsessing, though, it is perhaps better to take a step back from it and cool your heels until after this period passes. People can get into a lot of personal trouble if intimate personal relationships take precedence over spiritual realities right now. Let's face it-the Moon is powerfully aspected in this chart, even though most of the aspects are 'esoteric', and the tendency will be for people to focus much more on emotional matters than they do on the higher Self over the next month or so, that Self being where they actually should direct their attention. I have seen time and again that regular patterns of the lesser-known aspects do indeed manifest powerful and far-reaching effects in people's lives, and in world events. Let us be clear, then-if we focus upon the 'surface' (Sun/Moon/Uranus), then we can effect some very positive, humanitarian and far-reaching change in our lives. If we focus upon the 'underbelly' (the aspect sets to the Moon) then we could be due for, as we say in the South, a 'whole heap of trouble'-and for some time to come.

Other than that (isn't that enough?), we find Mars squaring the Nodes at the apex of a t-square. This configuration interferes with the natural flow of people's instincts, introduces disharmony into communities and causes disruption of associations. Actually, this can be a good thing in relation to this chart. Unless I miss my guess, there will be certain 'deal-breakers' for people under this dynamic. Since Mars squares the South Node, the dynamics of the tetrahedron described before will probably tend more toward resolution of entrenched double-binds than toward further entrenchment. As is the case with any solar festival, the emphasis is upon movement forward spiritually rather than staying stuck in past patterns. Mars, as the agent of the Destroyer (which is actually a beneficent Force), acts in a very positive light in this chart.

Finally, Mars is also applying toward its conjunction with Pluto, which is exact on the 13th, adding further fuel to the fire (or should we say Fire) and we should see a good cleansing energy manifest around that time. Saturn is also slowly approaching its opposition with Neptune (yet again), which is exact on the last day of February, so we are beginning to feel the effects again of that opposition, if we remember from before, which brings a crumbling of belief structures, instability in relations, killing out of worldly ambitions (this aspect is great for spiritual/meditative work), a lack of self-confidence and a dampening of will-power. Last, but not least, Jupiter is square to Uranus, which can yield brilliant insight, broad vision and visionary plans, but it also introduces an air of impracticality and the possibility of sudden losses due to that impracticality or inattention to details. So, there we have it-all the best and all the worst.

Thus we bring to a close another series of letters for the year 2006. For those who have had a difficult year, I can say the following with certainty-the 'hard yards' that you have experienced in this period will set you on a course which will eventually bring you the joy for which your heart has yearned for so long. We all see ourselves and those around us much more clearly now than we did this time last year, do we not?-and that is a very good thing. The knowledge we have gained will enable us to live our lives more fully in the years to come and-more importantly-to live our lives more in accordance with our higher Truth. Now, it doesn't really get any better than that, does it? As we have seen, this full moon period speaks to us of that very thing. To attain to our highest Essence-the Amrita of Spirit-is the goal for every seeker who has walked or will ever walk this world. Every year we are given the reminder of that and an opportunity to approach it closely in the Capricorn interval. May you choose your course wisely, my friends, for these times are fraught with karmic pitfalls. There is so much of our ancient karma that is crying out for healing in order that we can move into the future unbound by the past, and it pokes its head out at every opportunity. It is my wish for the New Year that we all have a much easier and more productive time of it. I am ready for a change myself. I enjoyed my holidays and the change gave me fresh perspectives on things. Change your routine every now and then-and for goodness sake, have some fun! May every piece of farm machinery you encounter in your life turn into a carousel, if you catch my drift. Life isn't always what it seems. A change will give us perspective that routine often kills out. I could sure use another holiday, though-you know?

Happy New Year, All!

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