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A Gemini Letter

Malvin Artley
June 2008

Greetings friends!
I was recently sitting at the edge of a balcony in the middle of Hong Kong International Airport having a late-night meal of fried rice, watching the steady stream of people flow by on the way to their various destinations. It had been a long flight from North Carolina and fatigue, along with the tone of the trip, had me in a kind of surreal head-space. I had been back on family business and had not had time to adjust to the time changes. Events had conspired to bring me to this juncture, though, and I always did enjoy seeing new places and people. The airport at Hong Kong is an interesting place. There are 100 shops right there with just about anything a traveler could want in the way of material goods or food-even the ubiquitous Starbuck's. And, there are so many people, even at 11 PM. If you like to sit and watch humanity, it's a good place to be. As I sat there eating I could hear the strains of jazz music in the background. Maybe it was the long flights and lack of sleep, but I thought the music was turned up a bit loud for an airport setting. It must be fatigue, I thought. It was a little unnerving. However, being my first time anywhere near China and a music-lover at that, I had to go exploring to find the origin of the tunes. Wherever it was coming from, it was pretty good stuff, you know?

So, off I went with a happier stomach and something to fill the next three hours with, hopefully. I wandered around for the next little bit, looking at all the shops on the way as I kept my radar tuned toward the elusive music. I just could not seem to find it. I did see some rather interesting things in the shops, but we don't have the space to talk about all that here. Finally, after a little more searching, I found it-or them, I should say. Tucked away in a little pavilion next to a large lounge area and on a small stage at the end were three middle-aged Chinese dudes playing their hearts out. It was a bit disconcerting in a way. You can tell I have not seen enough of the world yet, but somehow I just not get my head around hearing all this good jazz coming from such a setting. There you go, though-music really is the universal language. It was pretty cool, and I enjoyed the remainder of my short sojourn in Hong Kong, even if it was the middle of the night.

Many of you have written in past weeks to enquire about my whereabouts and if I had stopped writing letters again. As you can see, I got waylaid. I really appreciate your care and interest, however, so I will tell you a bit about what has happened over the past three months through the course of this letter. Basically, I have been caught up in the same types of things that many of you have related to me-big changes in personal life, the state of the world, a deepening of spiritual commitment (which is being called upon with all of us) and a little bit of drama to make it all interesting. I have missed the last three letters in terms of the spiritual festivals because of all that has been happening around me-Aries and two Taurus full moons-but now that things have settled a bit I can get on with the regular program of letters. Thank you for your patience.

How I might best describe what I sense happening in the world right now is that there is what might be termed a large 'karmic ripening' for very many people. True to form, Pluto hovering around 0 Capricorn and stimulating the 22 Sept 2006 eclipse point (29 Virgo 20) has brought its share of calamity and momentous events with it-the Myanmar cyclone, the quake in China, the Tibetan 'situation', riots by truckers all over the world, food riots as well, the Maoist takeover in Nepal, a huge oil pipeline explosion in Nigeria, the Phoenix spacecraft landing on Mars, the Universal Studios fire, the Sudan Airways crash, America looking set to have its first black presidential candidate and Ireland rejecting the Treaty of Lisbon, to name but a few. Being the planet of major separations and endings, Pluto is bringing about that kind of result in the world, and it has been doing so since the first of the year. In July that will fade into the background a bit as Pluto retrogrades back into Sagittarius, but it will come back and grace us again with its presence in late October for a few more months, continuing its dance with us off and on until August of 2009. There is a lot of Plutonian energy in the world now, with quite a list of old issues being brought to the surface for reconciling, and no one seems to be immune. It is, shall we say, an unsettling state of affairs.

It is said that, for the individual, the action of Pluto is centered upon the lower mental levels of the solar plexus chakra-on what is termed 'desire-mind'-and that such an influence is most beneficial in spiritual terms, allowing us to rid ourselves of the creeping vine of attachments and preconceptions with which the lesser mind so dutifully binds us. In short, Pluto helps us to shed any sort of idea or feeling that is 'set in stone', in a manner of speaking, and which holds us back from embracing a larger and more universal view of things. For instance, how many of us had any idea a year ago that we would be paying so much more now to drive our cars or that there would be riots over food and diesel prices? Did our world seem so stable then as to think that we would never have to worry about our steady supply of food or material goods, or even how we would be getting or kids to school-or if the lights would even be on at the school? I wonder if we really realize just how unstable the world is at the moment. Is it not funny how our circumstances can change so dramatically in the space of even a few weeks? In the last few months I have had good cause to sit down and think about the relative impermanence of things-especially my own preconceptions about how life should be or proceed-and about how quickly and unexpectedly circumstances (and people) can change their course. Damn! Just when I thought I had it all figured out!

Indulging in our pride we keep chasing
after every fleeting image.
How strange that, being nothing,
we cultivate such grand illusions!*

What we are now experiencing in terms of changes in the outer world is but the first kisses awakening grander passions to come. Prices for fuel will steadily rise-sometimes dramatically rise. Everything will be affected, and in a big way. I was reading today, for instance, that airline officials are forecasting that, within a few months, people will have to pay 20% more for their air fares. The one official who was speaking said that, initially, people will kick and fuss. You reckon? If you think passions are flaring now, wait for another six months. The same official went on to say that over a couple of years no one would think anything of it. It would all fade into memory and be accepted. Well, that makes me feel better. I just shake my head in disbelief at the folly of it all at times. Are we that disconnected from what goes on around us that we that we just accept what comes? People are always griping about prices, yet they usually succumb and just pay whatever if they want or need something badly enough and eventually just accept it as a matter of course. Here is the thing, though. People do not generally change the way they think or live if they are comfortable. We so often need drastic change to shake us from our complacency or somnolence. Materialism is a terrible spiritual opiate most of the time-over-materialism, I should say. And, sadly, even if gas went to $10/gallon in the US (It is already there in England, folks.), you would still see people filling up the SUVs, complaining about it and then going about their daily affairs, oblivious to the fact that, even while they suffer for their comfort, someone is getting rich at their expense. It's a big con job. Many of us are guilty of this very sort of thinking in some way or another, and I put myself there, too. What is a soul to do?

Although we may not realize it at the moment, we are all about to get big lessons about detachment and impermanence. Only then will we see what really matters. The period from now until 2012 is bringing that to us. It was recently pointed out to me by a teacher that '[the pain of] samsara (being bound to the cycle of rebirths) most often brings us back to our spiritual home'. I knew what he meant at the time and I have had a lot of time in planes and otherwise to dwell on what he said. I was also told to simplify my life. That has had to happen, too. The spirit needs time and an unfettered mind to unfold. Simplification has been forced upon me in some ways and I have had to divest myself of certain concerns, emotional and material. I saw it coming. I did not know it would happen the way it did. It caused me to radically rethink certain ways of doing things and what certain things and people meant to me. I am glad for the experience now, but it sure made me sit up and take notice at the time-probably added a wrinkle or two as well. In terms of the human condition it was all fairly ordinary stuff, but it is different when it happens to us, isn't it? Right. The beauty of this sort of occurrence when it happens to us, however, is that it 'hits us where we live' and gets us to think about what is really important. Moms are important people, for instance. Sometimes one has to hop a plane when you don't know where the money is coming from, for example. Sometimes other people have to wait and it costs them while we sort these things out. Sometimes one has to scatter their plans to the winds for a time and see where things land later. A whole train of events gets set in motion that leads us to a different place than we expected. We have to let go of certain expectations.

We think, for example, we will live a certain length of time, or that those close to us will be around 'forever'. We make plans and chase after those plans, expecting certain things to come of them-but somehow things always seem to happen. Life rains on our parade. "Oh well, I didn't think of that tornado going through the center of town/the washing machine blowing up/the dog running off/getting pregnant/not being able to get that loan/winning the lottery/that certain someone coming into my life." What is important to us? Do those things of importance change when events conspire to take us from our comfort zone or even change our circumstances entirely? The question just asked, my friends, is what takes us 'home'. When we can identify the things and people of importance that never change due to our circumstances, then we are beginning to get a handle on just what it is we are supposed to do with our lives. It is about distilling the essence of our lives until we are left with a purer expression of who we are. That is what is being presented to us in the midst of all this change, thanks to Pluto and a few other factors.

The period since the end of last year has caused a fair amount of insecurity in many sectors of society. We can no longer take material things for granted. The cost of energy is at the heart the cost of producing and transporting all material things the world. Why do we think there is so much importance placed upon the supply of oil? We are buying into a song and dance in many ways, though, fueled by our very fear-a fear of having to go without. People who lived during WWII know what that is all about, but they survived and thrived afterward. There is no shortage of oil, for instance. That is a lie. As a good friend of mine recently pointed out, the shortage is not about oil, but in refining capacity. There is a lot we are not being told, which leads us to the main point about what is happening: What we are being pushed to do in this time period is to confront our deepest fears and to look at what is vital to our lives. It will mean different things to everyone, but high up on the list is one's approach to their spiritual life, if they have one. If they don't then there are many of those who just might 'find God' in the next year or so. Wouldn't that be good? What, astrologically, is causing all this, then?

I have mentioned Pluto on the Capricorn Aries point. I have mentioned that it is stimulating an eclipse point, which was a South Node eclipse (endings, sorrow, completion, breakups). This is very liberating stuff. It is empowering, too, because we learn to think about things in another way. We learn to let go and, in so doing, embrace new ways of living. Pluto seals the door on evil. Evil is defined esoterically as that which has outlived its usefulness and should be left behind, but which is willfully engaged anyway. In short, it is that which separates us from the higher Self, and thus has a very wide range of scope. Pluto rules one of the 'money houses' of the zodiac-most specifically, Scorpio and the sphere of life experience for that house is termed 'other people's money', sexual partners and transformation. We just had two full moons in Scorpio, and Pluto is going to be very prominent in the world as we have seen earlier. Pluto is paving the way for a new vision of things to come by helping to rid us of outmoded and skewed modes of thinking. A great many truths about people in power are coming out now, and the populace has never been more skeptical of governments and big business in many ways. This is a healthy thing. Pluto is setting us up, in a manner of speaking. It is causing uncertainty in the collective psyche by pulling up issues we did not know were there (Pluto rules Hades-the Underworld). We do not feel entirely safe any longer. All over this planet there is a growing sense of uneasiness-that something is just not right. However, this is an internal unrest in the human psyche, not one based upon outer facts, so much as we might think. If there is anything in your life that just does not feel right to you, think to yourselves, "Where is the lie? What is wrong with this picture?" We need to ask it primarily of ourselves, though.

So, Pluto rules 'other people's money'-insurance, financial institutions, stolen goods, shysters, corruption, legacies-ring any bells? Be aware, too, that Pluto also rules earthquakes, world wars and havoc in general. I am looking at November and the looming US election. Keep your eyes open, and on Palestine, Israel and the US, all of which are strongly affected around that time. Still the Western world rattles its sabers at Iran. What are we being set up for there? Iran is the last great petroleum reserve the West can get its hands on. As for the nuclear threat Iran is presenting to us, frankly, I do not get the sense the Iranians are anywhere near being able to develop nuclear weapons in the next years. There is a lot of bluster with Iran (having Leo rising and Aries sun), whether it works out into fact or not. And, President Jimmy Carter, recently speaking about the 'Iranian problem', rightly pointed out that Israel reportedly has between 100-200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, though this is unconfirmed. I would expect that would make the Iranians just a bit nervous. If you want to hear bluster from a Leo type, make them feel insecure or dishonored. Did I mention that Pluto also rules nuclear warheads? Again, we need to ask ourselves what is wrong with this picture, as well as with so many others. I like the old bumper sticker that reads: "Just one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day." Let us hope nothing like that happens.

The other big astrological factor that has caused so much pessimism in recent months was the Saturn activation of the 20 Feb 2008 eclipse which is, thankfully, all but finished. However, it will go on to activate three more South Node eclipses in the space of a year-one in mid-September (3 Mar 2007 eclipse), another in September of 2009 (14 Mar 2006 eclipse) and the last in late October 2009 (22 Sep 2006 eclipse). The 14 March eclipse will be big because it will have the Saturn/Uranus opposition across it, which also comes into effect in November of this year. That opposition often ushers in extremism and radicalism in politics and social movements. It has also heralded assassinations of people within those movements (such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X). It also falls on a square to Mars in the US chart and is very close to the US Neptune, which is not a good omen for stability. In fact, it indicates some sort of 'event', and right at election time. There is a fair amount of conjecture about what this will mean for the US. I am going to reserve my opinion at the moment. There is no point in stirring the pot just yet, but I am going to look into this further.

Saturn will also be activating some North Node eclipses during the next year, too-the 7 Sep 2006 eclipse at 15 Pisces in late September this year, and the 19 Mar 2007 eclipse at 28 Pisces in mid-October 2009. The North Node activations by Saturn should bring some new starts with them or at least some fated occurrences. Aside from its association with radicalism and assassinations, the Saturn/Uranus opposition has also ushered in some major movements in the arts, which is also an indication of rebellion, forward thinking and breaking out of old patterns of thought. We had the Impressionist Movement in 1874, the Surrealist Movement along with the birth of the Jazz Age in 1920 and Op-Art in the mid-Sixties, along with a good deal of innovation in Rock-and-Roll. What will we see in 2008? Who knows? However, it is an Earth Rat year, which always brings big change with it. People are protesting higher prices. There are wars and rumors of war. Folks everywhere are getting fed up with many aspects of life in this material world and there are some very reactionary factions, virtually in every country. I said in the Chinese New Year letter that I expected 2008 to be a very important year, historically speaking, and it already has been-but I think the best is yet to come. With all the astrological indicators just mentioned, how could it be otherwise? Oh, I forgot to mention-there have also been some brilliant inventions during the Saturn/Uranus periods, such as a perpetual motion machine (John Worrell Keely), if you can believe it.

So, with the preceding paragraphs we have the overview of what has been and is going on over 2008/2009. It has been an unusual year with respect to the fact that we have had two May full moons ('Wesak' moons). The long and the short of what the extra Taurus festival means is that an extra measure of Light has been shone upon everyone's respective paths. As a result of the extra influx of energy into our planetary life, and particularly of Taurean force, the 'ground beneath our feet' seems a bit more unstable than it did, even though extra Light has been thrown into some dark recesses of the collective psyche. What we are presented with because of the solar festival that has just taken place is the way that Light will be distributed amongst humanity. With that, we need to take a look at the full moon of June, which is the chart for the Festival of Humanity-the Gemini Solar Festival. For this year it is also the date of the Tibetan Wesak Festival-Saka Dawa.

The full moon just took place on the 19th of Jun 2008 at 3:30 AM AEST (18 Jun 2008 at 5:30 PM UT). This has been a powerfully-felt full moon, especially occurring, as it has, so close to the Summer/Winter solstice. We find the Moon conjunct Pluto and the full moon axis square to Uranus. Many people have found this to be quite unsettling, and it would be if it activated key points in your own chart. The full moon axis is also conjunct the Cancer/Capricorn axis Aries points, so there is an amplification of its energy and also a greater scope for its effects upon the world stage. The Sun was at the 28th degree of Gemini, the symbol for which reads:
"Through bankruptcy, society gives to an overburdened individual the opportunity to begin again."

What more can we say? Do you feel overburdened? Is everything all a bit too much? How many times have we heard about a looming world-wide financial collapse? Gemini transmits the 'Light of Interplay', so this full moon is a big one for relationships of all types, especially with regard to our relationship with 'higher powers', spiritually speaking. The only true bankruptcy is when the Light of the Soul cannot find its way into outer expression-in other words, when a person is what we might call 'morally or spiritually bankrupt'. If the Soul is active in a person's life, then any sort of crisis will tend to draw out that Light and thus exhibit its own special genius or gift for handling adverse conditions. For the person who really seeks to do the right thing by people and to exhibit goodwill, then a way will always be found out of difficulty. That person will have a 'second chance' when needed. The higher Self (or 'The Universe', as many people are fond of saying) will provide it.

I was recently told the story by a friend of mine about a young woman she knew who was in difficulty and whose favorite expression was "It's all good!" Whenever things came up that were difficult to handle, "It's all good." After hearing it from the young woman to the point of driving my friend around the bend, she looked at the young woman one time after hearing the offending phrase and said something to the effect of, "Uh, no! It is not all good. Actually, it really sucks! Get some perspective here!" I am told the look on the girl's face was priceless. My friend is a good motivator. In the same vein, I am reminded of the billboard for Snickers candy bars that has been around for a bit here where Mr. T (of the 'A' Team series) is holding up a Snickers bar, pointing menacingly and exclaiming "Get some nuts!"-in other words, don't get too attached to misery and stop whining (if you saw the accompanying commercial as well). Instead of the bad habit many have of just rolling over and accepting things, stand up and do something about whatever is presented if we can. The symbol for the Sun speaks of society lending a hand to those who honestly need the help, and that should happen. However, one should make every effort to ensure that one does not end up in such a state to begin with. Our choices are most often the signposts of the course leading to our destination. Very soon we will not be able to rely on handouts from the governments of the world. We will have to work, and sometimes hard. We could take some lessons from those who have lived through privation and difficulties. All I am saying here is that we should not expect to be looked after by people in power. We are all going to have to become a lot more self-responsible and interdependent in the coming years.

The worst thing a person can do when they are weighed down by life is to withdraw from contact with people, unless it is specifically to meditate on what is to be done. Once that is done, however, whatever is gained through the time of retreat should be vigorously applied. Spiritual teachers through the ages have admonished their pupils in kind. "Work, my brothers!" is a favored catch-phrase used by one such Teacher, and we are constantly reminded by religions to 'spread the Word'-to do God's/Allah's/Buddha's work and make sure the dharma survives and thrives in the world. 'Society' in the symbol for the solar degree is as much a symbol of the universal Life, God, the higher Self or whatever you want to call It as it is for human society. "God helps those who help themselves", as the saying goes, but the point of Gemini is that we never work alone. We always have to interact with people. We always have to relate in order to survive and thrive. Most importantly, though, we have to relate to our inner, or higher, Self.

Relating is the key to how we will get through the times to come, and I am talking about relating at all levels to all people, with whomever we come into contact. Plant a garden with your neighbors, for instance. Share food and fuel if it comes to that. Look after the neighbor's kids if they need to go somewhere. Talk about what is going on. These are small examples, but the point is that we are going to have to depend upon each other more and more and at a more intimate level than we are comfortable with in Western society at the moment. Above all, share conversations with others about things of real importance in your life. You never know what people might gain from what you say, or what you might gain for that matter. Hey, things are not all good, but we can work through the hard times. The same friend I just mentioned gave me some important information when I needed it the most. My outlook is certainly a lot better as a result-all because we were frank and shared a conversation about some matters of importance to us. What I am saying here may sound all-too-obvious or even silly, but it is amazing how often people clam up at the most critical of times, and especially when they are the most stressed. A Snickers bar might be a good ice-breaker at such times. Chocolate is therapeutic, no? Kidding aside, stand up and be heard if something is not right, especially if you struggle with it.

The Moon was at the 28th degree of Sagittarius, the symbol for which reads:
"An old bridge over a beautiful stream is still in constant use"

Well, maybe not for long-not with the Moon conjoined with Pluto and square to Uranus in this figure. This symbol conjures up many associations and all are of significance in the current state of world affairs. In human terms, a stream can be either man-made or it can be a timeless part of an ancient landscape. How old is a natural stream? Who knows? A stream performs several functions, though. It provides water for surrounding life. It forms a natural barrier for those who cannot cross it, or it at least makes transit more difficult. It provides homes and feeding grounds for countless lives. It provides a natural drain for the landscape and, not of least importance, it provides a place of rest, beauty and reflection for the human mind. A stream is a symbol of life-force, life's blood, the ever-flowing succession of lives that lead us first to rivers and finally to the ocean of Infinite Life. It is ever-present, ever-provident and always sustaining. A stream could be seen as the sustenance we receive from 'something higher'-the Soul or Spirit.

However, what happens if a dam is put across the stream or there is a protracted drought? What sustains the land then? What sustains us? Well, life moves to wherever it can find water, or it simply dies out. The implication from the lunar degree being conjoined to Pluto and square to Uranus likely means one of two things-either the blocks that have kept the stream from flowing will be removed by unforeseen forces or the flow of the stream will be cut off in some way. If we get too caught up in worldly affairs and worries over the state of things, then the flow of spiritual energy to us can be disrupted, even cut off in severe cases. There have been many instances throughout history of people simply dropping dead from an emotional shock of some sort. In most cases, though, if we get stressed over some worldly matter, then the most likely outcome is that we get distracted from our spiritual path somehow. We forget what is important to us. What is more important than 'the water of Life' itself? Yes, we may have to deal with certain things out of karmic necessity, but that never means that we should forget or neglect what really sustains us in the midst of that. This symbol for the lunar degree is the counterbalance to the symbol for the solar degree. With the solar degree we looked at bankruptcy and second chances. With the lunar degree we have the opposite, which is the natural flow of things, the beauty of life and the hidden, but very real possibility that we may have to move on and not get that 'second chance'. This latter point would happen, of course, if the 'stream' dried up.

What if there has been a block to the flow of the stream and that block is suddenly removed (and suddenness is certainly imputed with Uranus and Pluto here)? Uranus and Pluto are the great 'block-removers' of the solar system. What would happen downstream? Well, the old bridge could be washed away. Symbolically, bridges represent links between people and links to the 'inner' worlds of Spirit. The land could be flooded for a time, but in the end it would certainly mean renewal for the land. Commerce and interchange between people on opposite sides of the stream could be disrupted for a time. If the bridge is washed out there could be major headaches for people on both sides of the stream until the bridge could be rebuilt. So, we have several distinct possibilities with the Gemini energy this year, as we have seen. Either there will be greater and greater disruption of people's lives, there will be a lot of illness or death or (hopefully) this energy will bring with it a wonderful renewal and renaissance of spiritual life world-wide. I know what I see on the surface of things, but I will not go there. I know what I work toward, and that is a sort of renaissance or renewal.

I know I have gone on a bit about these symbols, but they are important for understanding what is going to be happening subjectively for humanity over the next year, for the Gemini Festival indicates how the enormous spiritual potency that has poured into the planetary life during the Aries and Taurus interludes this year will be utilized and affect humanity en masse. We have copped a huge influx of spiritual force this year. Many people have felt it. Many people have suffered as a result. Many have died. We have seen it in the natural disasters that have happened in Myanmar, China and even now in the US-the worst flooding in 15 years-and these are only the ones that immediately come to mind. We must stay in communication. We must keep things moving and tend to the health of the stream, whatever that means to us.

Aside from the factors just mentioned about the full moon chart, the Sun is trine to the Neptune/Chiron conjunction in Aquarius, both Chiron and Neptune being retrograde. This trine indicates that there is spiritual clarity to be had from whatever happens and that some amazing opportunities and insights are possible. This trine also points the way toward visionary application of the energies brought in by the previous three spiritual festivals. We would see such application when the Saturn/Uranus opposition comes into effect. This latter point is further bolstered by the trine between Saturn and Pluto, along with the sextile between Venus and Saturn. Mercury is unaspected and at its direct station (It is now direct.), indicating a sort of meditative pause or point of tension, but it is unaspected, so communications and commerce may suffer a bit this year. This whole chart points to a state of affairs wherein we will have, of necessity, to deal with certain karmic obligations of more than usual scope (both individual and collective), but at the same time foster and tend to a greater connection to and appreciation of the spiritual factors in our lives. Mars is at the midpoint of the Chiron/Neptune conjunction, indicating emotional disruptions, conflicts, fanaticism, dissatisfaction, charismatic people and 'going where the grass is greener'. Herein lies one of the main triggers this year for 'karmic ripening and necessity', along with Uranus and Pluto. Finally, a further damper is put on economic affairs by the sesquisquare between Jupiter and Saturn. It is a bit of a pessimistic aspect. On the whole, though, one could not ask for a better chart for clearing away obstacles between people, obstructions in spiritual practice or disruption of planetary life as a whole (on a more strident note).

Finally, to wrap things up, I have looked at the charts for the other three spiritual festivals (one Aries and two Taurus full moons) this year and I wanted to leave you with a few brief words about just what has been imparted to our planet through those festivals, as I see it. The first of them, taking place on 22 March 08, was quite powerful. There was a Great Cross conjunct three of the four Aries points. That Aries festival set a whole chain of events in motion, showing us the trend of times to come in that there are likely to be shortages, high prices and disruptions of the flow of goods world-wide. There were riots about food prices in the third world after that full moon. With Pluto and Mars involved in the Great Cross, tensions in the Earth's crust began to reach a breaking point, too, which were brought to a head after the first Taurus full moon on 20 April 08. The general theme of the former full moon was one of a building or increasing inner conflict (Great Cross), with the result that people and places all over would reach a breaking point under the right conditions. That full moon was a perfect instigator of change, right in line with the subjective side of the Year of the Yellow Rat. The stage was thus set for change, conflict, rebellion against restrictions and the old order and a more objective, saner view of the world.

The first Taurus full moon in April was about the need for hard, focused spiritual work. Its main feature was a kite involving the full moon axis bisecting the Saturn/Pluto trine. On the surface such a configuration would appear to be fairly easy and beneficial. In the long run it will be. However, the planets involved in the midpoint structure (which a kite always implies) speak of renunciation, separations, melancholy, the 'tragic destiny of a woman', privation and hard work. It's wonderful stuff. One of the biggest indicators from this combination (Sun/Moon/Saturn/Pluto) is enforced change. For example, I had to fly back to the States just after that full moon due to family illness, so the full moon hardly augured a fun time for me. I did not want to go back at that particular time or under those conditions, but it goes to the point of what I just said about that full moon. However, the trip did set some beneficial things into play for me to come at a later date. The energies of the kite were true to form, and it helped me to clarify my path somewhat (Taurus shines 'The penetrating Light of the Path', whereas Aries transmits 'The Light of Life itself'.) Just after that full moon we saw Cyclone Nargis, the China quake, tornadoes through many southern states of the US, huge pipeline and mine explosions, etc. My little journey was tame by comparison.

The last of the Taurus full moons-the blue moon of Taurus-was about facing realities, looking past pretense, addressing tensions and coming back to earth emotionally. That full moon was on the 20th of May. There were two sobering T-squares in that chart: Sun/Moon/Saturn and Moon/Venus/Neptune, the last listed planet in each trio being the apex of the respective T-square. The first one is about emotional and vital-force difficulties, while the latter is about emotional fantasies, eroticism, dreaminess and feeling duped. Not a one of the three charts this year has been easy, and we just had our little Gemini chart to top it all off. I think after all this quite a number of us are ready for change in a big way and for the better. There is so much with these figures about looking at life squarely in the face, seeing it for what it is, getting ourselves in the right place to pursue a more spiritual way of living and dealing with the obstacles to that kind of life. It is not an easy place in which to be, but the benefits will stay with us for life-maybe for lifetimes-if we do things properly now.

And so it has been. Soon enough, I tired of the music at the airport. The guys were good, but 'lounge jazz' has a short shelf life, if you know what I mean. Anyway, it was time to board yet another flight in what was turning out to be an epic journey, at least for me. At least I had accomplished what I set out for in my trip back. Things were being looked after with my family. I had seen everyone I could in that short space of time. I had drunk enough iced tea to float a battleship and had my fill of southern food. It is strange what we miss from our youth, especially when we live abroad. I had matters pressing in Oz, though, and another phase of my life to get on a better footing. Does it ever stop? I wonder sometimes. What would it be like to have no concerns? I am beginning to think humans cannot live without them. Worry gives us something with which to occupy ourselves. I know better than that, but you have to wonder what all this fuss of living is about sometimes. As I sat one final time at the balcony where I had eaten my recent repast, I watched the endless stream of people file by. Some were in a hurry. Others strolled along casually. Some looked weighed down with cares. Still others laughed and carried on with their fellow travelers. (Those people had obviously had better flight connections than I!) I wondered what was going on in their minds, if they were there on business, pleasure, out of necessity or because they like airports. Any one of those people could have been a great Soul or a common criminal-a savior or a thief. I certainly could not tell by looking, but I could just about bet that nearly all, if not all, of them were important to someone else and to their society in some way. I felt a sort of peace and belonging with that thought. Even though I was in a strange place, the people there felt the same as they did anywhere else.

I know I have rambled on a bit here, but there has been a lot to tell. So much is happening in the world now, and so quickly, too. People have asked me, what advice would I give, especially in light of all that has been discussed in these short pages? To start with, whoever you encounter in your life is there as an opportunity, a demonstration of commonality, a celebration of difference and has a message for you-and you for them. They may not always be pleasant, but they are important enough to be there with you. I am not being corny or 'New Age' here. It is our business to care, to learn and to help if need be. It is also our business to move on when the task or encounter is done. Life must flow forward. Secondly, think about what you would do if, say, the ATMs stopped working or the power was off for a few days, or longer. Would you have enough resources to get you by for a few weeks? This is not doom-saying or forecasting. It can happen and it has. It will happen increasingly. Not too long ago gas supply was cut off to large parts of Melbourne for a few days. It was inconvenient, but people made do. What did people do without phones or computers? Many of our parents remember. Don't horde, but put a few necessities aside. There are a lot of families from 'the old country' who have cellars stocked with enough food to get them through for a pretty good while. It is just what they did in those countries. It is a good habit to have. They are forever sharing things from those cellars with family and friends. That is just what they did in those countries. It is a good habit to cultivate. They watch each other's backs. We could all get in the habit of that

Keep enough cash aside to get you through for a period, if something arises. The banks will survive without it, believe me. Plant a fruit and vegetable garden and get back in touch with your mother-earth and birth. The food tastes better than most anything you will get in a shop and you are better off for it. Find cheap transport and keep a little petrol in reserve-safely, of course and if you can-and make sure your car is in good order. If you live in a city you don't need to. Get a bike or get used to walking. Again, you are better off for it. Get to know your neighbors, if you can or can stand to. You never know when you might need them. Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit. Most of this is common sense, but don't for a minute think that life will go on as it has for the past twenty years in the West. I am not saying civilization will collapse. I am not that silly, but I can see a time very soon where there will be periods when we may have to do without certain things for periods of time. Our modern civil structure is a very tenuous thing in some ways and is very vulnerable to disruption.

As for long-term planning, I would answer that with a couple of questions, and this will bring the whole point to this letter and the Gemini energy for this year to a point of focus and practical import. Firstly, did you count of spending so much more for petrol/gasoline a year ago and what effect has it had on you? And, secondly, at the end of your days here, looking at your life now and if you keep going as you are, will you be able to say to yourself that you are happy with the way things turned out? There are two points to be made:

  1. We cannot count on things remaining the same or even that things will turn out they way we would like. We must be in a position where we can adapt to any circumstance. Only then will we be secure. Nothing in this life is permanent and the only certain thing coming to all of us is our own passage from this world. We simply do not know when that will be.
  2. Our spiritual connection, both within ourselves and with others, is of supreme importance in these times. That is really what will get us through any difficulty-not by 'divine intervention', but through the effect it has on our thinking. It is an emboldening, all-encompassing and eternal influence. It brings forth our genius, and we all have that spark. It takes us where we need to be and with whom we need to be. We should all see to it that connection is fostered, maintained and increased on a daily, if not moment-by-moment basis.

There is nothing else to be done. As it has been told to me and to many, tend to your health, meditate well and practice kindness and compassion to all beings. If we do so, all will come to us as need be.
Blessings to all of you, my friends. It is good to be back.
Much love,
20 June 2008

* Rumi, from Gardens of the Beloved. A Libran in his day and one of my faves.