How does one climb to the top of a mountain? The obvious and annoying answer is 'one step at a time'. However, there are many answers to the question and procedures for the same. The Vajrayanist would say, 'Envision yourself at the mountain top, act as if and you will achieve all' (It's one of my personal favorites and never fails to get a roll of the eyes and a groan from the listener.) The Zen Buddhist would say 'Become the mountain. By doing nothing, all is achieved.' The American would say, 'Hire a helicopter and let that puppy plant you there!' (Another favorite, but not always affordable or practical.) Most people would say 'Why bother? Let's watch it on the tellie tonight, love.' A true mountain trekker would hire all the gear, go into training for a month or so and meet the mountain head-on at the appointed time, reveling in the challenge and the beauty of it all. A person in the third world who lived in the area would simply shrug their shoulders, smile at all the silly westerners and be like the Nike ad and 'just do it'. If a horse was available they would be sensible and ride up. Common sense is a marvel to the mind of fantasy.
I recently partook in a climb up a mountain. I was with a tour group and the question was asked, "How far up is this place we are going?" "Oh, it's just a short little walk", we were told. 3 ˝ hours later I arrived, but the trek up was the interesting part. If you have ever tried to do anything the least bit physically challenging at high altitude one soon finds that a thing as simple as breathing can be a bit daunting, especially if you are climbing and you look forward on the path, only to see a seemingly endless track in front of you. That helicopter starts to sound mighty appealing at about that point. What you find after a while, though, is that you have to slow right down, take measured and even steps and find a rhythm that works for you without passing out from lack of oxygen. Our group soon resembled a bunch of winos on a long march in the way we were walking, some complaining the whole way up, others resolute, while still others were chatting away (which is one thing you are not supposed to do in those instances), happy as Larry, as we say here. The latter are the ones everyone loves to hate on treks like that.
I found that I had to set a rhythm between my heart, my legs and my breathing and I recited endless mantras in my head while I did it. It helped me to keep the rhythm and I felt that it sort of cleared a mental path for me. Maybe that was just the altitude, but anything that works - well, hey. I wasn't going to argue the point with myself. I made real headway. Then after a while I had the realization come over me that the same procedure could and should be used for any sort of trying situation - physical or otherwise. One of my teacher's words came to mind: Make certain you own needs are met first, otherwise you have nothing to give to anyone else. Nothing like a bit of stress or adversity to drive the point home. I thought back to other stressful situations and thought of how my little task could have been useful in those times. Basically, what is needed in times of stress is to pull one's head in, cut back on any extraneous activity (such as ceaselessly talking about how good this mountain-climbing was for us, how this was supposed to be hard and how purification is good for the soul) and chiseling away at the task at hand until the goal is reached or the stress factor has passed. As is often stated in occultism, "Plodding is ever-desirable." And plod we did. We eventually got there, though. It was worth the trek at day's end, although that helicopter option might not be such a bad idea in the future.
The preceding is part of the reason I did not send out a Cancer Festival letter this year. I was overseas on 'family business' - an obvious Cancerian theme - except that I simply didn't bother to fill in the gaps for people about which 'family' the business involved. I needed to be in a private head-space, although when I got back to 'civilization' I found out the reason for my trip away was common knowledge. It matters little. I had the chance to go and I needed to take it, even though times are a bit lean with the economic situation. I had some things I needed to research, and my expectations were met beyond my fondest dreams. My research will be coming out in my writings over the next few years, but for now I need to fill in a few gaps about Cancer and Leo and the three eclipses we are experiencing at the moment, two of which have already passed.
The themes pertinent to Cancer this year as I see them relate precisely to 'family business' - one's inner or spiritual family. This inner group (or ashram as it is sometimes called) can be either small or quite extended in some cases, and there are few of us who realize the full extent of it. What is important to realize here is that there are relationships on the inner side of life that are often more meaningful to us that our outer contacts. Cancer is a curious sign. Most people associate it with family, nurturing, women in general and motherhood. However, it is the sign that rules mass consciousness - instinctual consciousness, if you will - and as such, it conveys an energy that tends to bring disparate factors or people together into union. It is the first 'group' sign that we encounter in our journey around the horoscope wheel. It was the sign under which the first human beings of Earth took incarnation many millions of years ago.
Cancer conveys the 'Light Within the Form', which is said to be the dark light of matter, awaiting the stimulation of the Soul. This 'dark light of matter' does not pertain to the 'dark matter' of current science. Rather, it is the light which all material substance gives off (latent energy or latent heat), and this becomes especially magnified when matter is brought together into groups or aggregates of form. Cancer is the sign that governs gestation and eventual birth and thus has a rulership over the binding together of the aggregates or bodies of a person (the bodies of the lower self: physical, astral/emotional and mental). It governed infant humanity when the aggregates or bodies as we now know them were integrated under the impress of the higher nature - Soul, higher Self, what have you. Cancer is a sign that governs integration of a kind, leading to the ability to function as an individual in the world. That is one of the primary purposes of family life, to enable the child to be integrated into society at large. The family is where we first learn to relate to others. Carried on to a higher turn of the spiral, as esotericists are fond of saying, the same could be said of the disciple in the ashram. The ashram is the training ground that enables and empowers the disciple to function eventually in full spiritual capacity and community. The family and the ashram both provide stability, care, nurturing and training in the larger responsibilities of life, mundane and spiritual. Thus, in the past I have termed the Cancer Festival the 'Festival of the Ashram'.
This year the Cancer Festival took place at an eclipse. At this juncture we will consider the two eclipses that took place in the sign Cancer and then move on to the discussion of the next solar festival, the Festival of Sirius (Leo). This is an unusual period in that we will have a total of three eclipses, whereas normally we have two at a time, twice a year for a total of four a year. The first eclipse took place at 7:38 PM AEST (9:38 AM UT) on the 7th of July 2009. This eclipse was a North Node lunar appulse eclipse. Appulse means that the moon is not actually eclipsed by the earth, but it does pass through the Earth's penumbra, meaning its light will be slightly dimmed. It is still classed as an eclipse, though, even though we will not see the Earth's shadow on the Moon. The eclipse of 6th of August this year is also a lunar appulse eclipse, and also conjunct the North Node.
The second eclipse took place at 12:35 PM AEST (2:35 AM UT) on the 22nd of July 2009. This one was a total solar eclipse with a South Node emphasis, thus highlighting finalizations, leading to a new cycle of life in some area, depending on what it contacts in one's chart, whereas the two lunar eclipses are indicative of emotional expansion and new relationships. The third eclipse takes place at 10:39 AM AEST (00:39 UT) on the 6th of August 2009. As stated, it is an appulse lunar eclipse with a North Node emphasis and it marks the full moon of the Leo Solar Festival, which I call the 'Festival of the Disciple'. That solar festival has also been called the Festival of Sirius.
This trio of eclipses are all of the 11 South modified Saros series (no. 136 of the standard Saros). They are about sudden change, sometimes violent or tragic. The inaugural eclipse for that series took place on an Aries point (0 Cancer) in 1360 and it ushered in a period of instability in Asia, starting with the collapse of the Blue Horde (one of the Mongol empires) in 1361, resulting in a period of civil war in what is now east-central Russia. Its activation also instigated one of the largest naval battles in history (almost one million men) in China in the last years of the Yuan Dynasty on Lake Poyang in 1363. In fact, the 22 July eclipse passed over Lake Poyang. It was said to be the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st Century, not to be surpassed again until June 2132. The period of the eclipse that began the series in the early 1360s also saw another instance of the Black Plague in Europe and the French invasion of southern England. There was not much in the way of good news in the world at that time.
In recent times the 11 South series of eclipses has brought similar sorts of energies. With the 11 South eclipse in 1901 the NYSE had its first crash, there were racial tensions in the US South with the Mars activation, as well as the coal strike of 1902, the end of the Boer War, the establishment of the High Court in Australia, and the beginning of work on the Panama Canal, so there were some good changes to be had along with tensions with that eclipse. The eclipse of 1919 in this series was different, though. The first activation saw the eruption of Volcano Kelut in Java, which killed 16, 000, but also saw the confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity, which revolutionized the science of the day. The next activation was the Wall Street Bombing of 1920, killing 38. Subsequent activations saw violent riots in Cairo and Alexandria, a major geomagnetic storm, the arresting of Mohandas Gandhi for sedition, the independence of Egypt from England, the founding of the Turkish council by Ataturk, the sinking of British submarine L-34 and the first purges by Stalin. The June 11 South eclipse of 1937 was violent, too, seeing the bombing of Alicante, Spain, The Czech mobilization against Germany, the recognition of Franco's government, a night club fire in Mississippi, the invasion of France, the Battle of Tobruk, the first rumors of the coming attack on Pearl Harbor and the fall of the Bataan Peninsula and the ensuing death march.
There was not much in the 1955 11 South eclipse, even with the Saturn activation of 1958. Hence, such eclipses do not always bring bad news. With the 11 South eclipse of 1973 we saw the beginning of impeachment proceedings against Nixon, the death of Juan Peron (Saturn activation), the murder of Martin Luther King's mother in church, the Weather Underground bombing of the US State Department, the Haicheng quake in China, killing 2,041, the control of the Khmer Rouge over Cambodia, the Tiananmen Incident in China, and an explosion in an ammunition factory in Finland. With the 1991 11 South eclipse we saw the founding of the European Union and the de-targeting of the US by Russian nuclear warheads, but those were the good points. There was a long transit if Neptune, followed by Uranus over that eclipse from February through the first half of the year, which was the crisis in the Balkans that led to the Bosnian Conflict. There were also large explosions and earthquakes, violence in Bombay, but also the removal of trade barriers in Europe. All through with this series of eclipses there have been wars and disasters, but there have also been reforms and new orders instituted.
So, in all, what do we have for the Cancer eclipses of this group this year? Eclipses at full moons are always lunar eclipses, whereas solar eclipses take place at new moons. For general information and for the more esoteric meaning of eclipses, an eclipse is either a conjunction or opposition of the Sun and Moon at the Moon's nodes. Thus, we have three factors at play: the Sun, representing the life force, the psyche and the 'present problem' (what is being worked out this life); the Moon, representing the past, inherited abilities and liabilities, what is being moved beyond, one's emotional needs and; the Nodes, representing one's instinctual nature and drives. Eclipses, then indicate changes of direction (Nodes) the highlighting of specific emotional needs and the calling forth or waning of certain inherited traits (Moon), and the integration of greater faculty into one's psyche, often as the result of an event that will bring change and/or crisis, often both (Sun). Eclipses will affect us if the eclipse point is on or opposite a planet or angle in the chart, and activations take place when planets transits over or opposite those points. Eclipse points generally stay active for several years, thus they can be activated many times. An 'activation' results in the precipitation of an event. Eclipses bring about change and life-changing events, often in a way that ordinary planetary transits or progressions will not. Eclipses often indicate major turning points in one's life. An indication of what is to come can often be sensed at the time of the eclipse, but the actual events presaged by them are not realized until the activation by planetary transit occurs.
The first eclipse at 16 Capricorn will be activated by Mars at the two weeks at mid-September this year. The next Mars activation after that is not until the end of 2010. It had the following Sabian symbols associated with it:
"A man studying a mandala in front of him, with the help of a very ancient book." Sun, 16 Cancer
"School grounds filled with boys and girls in gym suits." Moon, 16 Capricorn
In terms of the solar festival, the degree of the Sun holds sway. However, for the effect of the eclipse, the degree of the Moon is the one of import. The meaning for the solar festival is clear. A mandala is not the easiest thing in the world to define. Without taking too much space to do so, a mandala is the representation of the Pure Land of a Buddha, or fully realized being. Some sources call mandalas a representation of the cosmos or universe, but that is not wholly true. A mandala is the environment of a deity (Yidam) with all the features and beings being found therein. What this symbol actually refers to, I would venture to say, is a Vajrayana practitioner in the early stages (generation stage) of practice learning to visualize what will eventually become his or her eventual spiritual 'home' or Pure Land, which he or she will create over many years, perhaps centuries, of time. In the end, the mandala of one's practice ceases to be an ideation. It literally becomes one's abode and environment after one achieves full enlightenment. The 'man studying' could be said to be the disciple in training in the ashram, the mandala his or her eventual 'mountain top' of realized consciousness, and the ancient book is the 'user's manual', if you will - the scriptural instructions for attainment. Visualize the mountain top, then act 'as if'.
The degree for the eclipse holds the key to the method of attaining the solar degree, metaphorically speaking. 'School grounds filled with boys and girls in gym suits' can be seen as a simile of disciples involved in common spiritual practice. We would normally see such a united sort of practice in a monastic setting, but it does not necessarily have to be so. The emphasis here is on organized play, physical training and exertion and common goals. Without the effort, there is no attainment. Without group effort, progress is much slower and we lack the training that 'social interaction' can bring. There is no gender bias in the symbol, either. All are equal under the Sun. One symbol emphasizes study, whereas the other emphasizes application and play. The two must go hand-in-hand for any sort of real or lasting attainment in life.
In the eclipse/full moon figure we find the full moon axis as an 'easy opposition' with Saturn trine the Moon. This will be a good eclipse for bringing things into being and establishing new relationships. Venus was still conjunct Mars, though departing, which adds to the relationship emphasis, although Mars was square to the Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction, giving an air of caution about getting too excited about the possibilities presented. The square by Mars also warns against jumping the gun and not considering consequences before acting. It is a 'gambler's aspect' and carries a high enthusiasm with it, but that can work for good or ill. It is simply a signal that in anything new one should proceed with caution and consider all aspects before committing to anything that arises with the eclipse activation in September or the ones thereafter over the next few years.
The second eclipse (the solar eclipse on the 22nd) was felt quite strongly at the time and in the days that followed. This is the one to watch in terms of world events, and it will receive its first activation by Mars in mid-October this year, so we do not have long to wait. I was in China at the time of the eclipse and was very fortunate to have been able to see it. The days that followed confirmed my suspicions of things to come. I was able to see the effects. It was a destabilizing eclipse and brought about some sudden events. We had a bus crash (minor - no one was hurt) and a thwarted would-be thief (a local, not one of ours) later on that day. We were witness to arguments and the like and the general mood was quite tense at times. The new moon had the following Sabian symbol associated with it (since the Sun and Moon were conjunct):
"A daughter of the American revolution." 30 Cancer
In this distinctly American symbol we see a glorification of the past, which is also quite a Cancerian trait. Dane Rudhyar put his interpretation of the symbol quite fittingly: "Here we have…..the ancestor who was perhaps a violent revolutionist or rabble-rouser - or even a fugitive of justice - acquiring a halo of respectability. The tradition that was once born of revolution now extols 'law and order'." This eclipse will bring those original tendencies to the surface and perhaps (even hopefully) end the glorification of certain aspects of our past. Patriotic sentiment can be a dangerous thing and this is one eclipse that will tend to bring an end to or challenge misguided sentiment or falsehood of any sort.
In the eclipse figure the Sun and Moon were linked to Pluto by quincunx (making it very powerful and obsessive) and trine Uranus, marking it as one very transformative eclipse. The four entities just mentioned formed a mystic triangle (in itself a very transformative configuration), with Uranus square to Pluto. In addition, Venus was in a very tight square to Saturn, indicating strained emotions, feelings of a lack of care, miscommunications, money woes and strained relations between men and women. If this eclipse fell on planets or angles in your chart, mid-October is the time to watch, as the first activation of it will take place at that time by Mars. Being a South Node eclipse, it will tend to bring schisms and endings, depending upon the nature of the planet or angle involved.
The July 22nd eclipse will affect a few countries directly - the US (Pluto), Afghanistan (Mercury), Cuba (Saturn - they may lose a leader), North Korea (Venus - there is likely to be little love lost on them if they continue to carry on), Palestine (Moon - I would watch them and the US in particular) and Britain (Jupiter - probable legal matters). Eclipses to Pluto can be particularly troublesome in a national chart because there is usually something lying under the surface waiting to come out. In a country's chart activation of an eclipse on Pluto can indicate subterfuge and plots, as well as financial instability. October is a month particularly loathed in the US financial sector due to dips and crashes in the market in the past. Saturn will activate the Sept 06 eclipse at 29 Virgo at the same time, which brought a lot of violence with it in its own right. It will affect the North Node of the NYSE and Iran's Mercury. The Mars activation of that eclipse in Aug 08 brought a fair amount of calamity with it (a week on either side of 21 Aug 08), although the opposition of Mars to that point in Apr 09 was of little note. We'll see what October this year brings, but I can tell you now it will likely be an unsettling month.
Now, before moving on to the third eclipse, we need to have a brief look at Leo for this year and see what stands out. In the scheme of the zodiac one could say that what Cancer binds together, Leo brings to a point of focus and utilizes. Leo, as most people who know anything about astrology are aware, marks the apex of development for the human ego. One needs a healthy sense of ego to be able to do any sort of real work in the world, as well as a developed sense of self-discipline, which is also one of the hallmarks of the sign. A Leo type true to their own nature is always one with a clearly defined sense of purpose and their own self-worth and with a determination to make their imprint on the world or environment around them. Leo is said to be the most vital of all the signs and its nature thus is movement. The Leo type must move or make progress in some direction. For the Leo to do otherwise is to cut off themselves off from their very essence. Leo thus moves outward into manifestation and produces great works (there is nothing small about Leo) and all who come within their influence will tend to be caught up in the wave of enthusiasm that is so naturally Leonine.
I had a chance to observe this first-hand while I was away. Leo rules the higher nature of Italy and half of our tour group was Italian. (Leo also rules the higher nature of Rumania, too, as well as the personas of France and Russia). The Italians in our group were always the first up the hills, the first into the sites, the most expressive of what was great about their culture (and it is a great culture) and they had the best equipment. I say all this with a big smile and a sense of humor, but it was interesting to watch. They were lovely people, as was everyone in our group (and we Yanks and Australians weren't any too shabby, either. Had to throw that in, you know?), but the urge to move outward, the urge to make an impression, to get things done and to do things very well were all there in our Italian friends as a cultural sort of emphasis. It is Leo in the Soul of the Italian race that has given the world their great art, larger-than-life civilization (Roman Empire), their giving nature and their huge diaspora throughout the world. The Leo type is a natural disciple and ruler. Leo must somehow manifest its gift. With that, let us have a look at the Thursday eclipse.
The third eclipse has the following Sabian symbols associated with it:
"A human soul seeking opportunities for outward manifestation." Sun, 14 Leo
"A train entering a tunnel." Moon, 14 Aquarius
In the solar symbol we see exactly the themes of Leo just outlined. This eclipse, being of the North Node, will tend toward opportunities for manifestation. Its first activation will occur in mid-November this year by Mars. It will be active in the charts of the NYSE (Uranus), China (Mars and Pluto), Cuba (Jupiter), Egypt (Neptune), France (Pluto), Iran (Asc), Iraq (Asc), Israel (Saturn), North Korea (Pluto), Russia (Asc), Britain (Venus) and The Vatican (Mars). In all, the period between now and the end of the year will be an active time in world affairs.
The eclipse figure shows Jupiter as lord of the eclipse, marking it as being expansive and beneficial. It is in a wide conjunction with the Moon in Aquarius. The full moon axis is in an easy opposition with Mars, adding to the sense of enthusiasm and energy. Mars is in an applying square to Saturn though, which will tend to frustrate things, so we have a sort of push-pull effect in this figure - enthusiastic on the one hand and frustrating on the other. It is a classic sort of 'two steps forward, one step back' sort of scenario. Much good can come from the opportunities presented, but we have to be willing to accept that there will be certain obstacles to overcome in the process. Those obstacles are indicated in the lunar symbol of the train entering the tunnel. We need to keep in mind that the tunnel leads through the obstacle, and though it may be dark in the tunnel, we will eventually come through on the other side. Again, what we are being shown here is to exercise caution in what comes up for us, but the opportunities are there and real and worth pursuing.
Travel has a way of changing a person. I certainly feel differently about things since I have been back. I feel like an alien in a strange world, as one of my tour companions put it - in the world but not so much of it any more. That will change as the demands of life assert themselves once again, but the memories of the trip will stay with me. Besides, I have many hundreds of pictures which will stir memories, imaginations and spark insights - and with which I can endlessly 'entertain' my friends! You will see some of those pictures in my books and on my (eventual) web page. I'll have to get that done one of these days. Eventually, though, something needs to manifest from within me around this trip. I can feel it brewing in there somewhere. We'll see what the eclipse activations bring. I'll see what life brings me and calls me to do in the months to come. For now, though, it is back to work, to my friends and to life here in Oz.
May the eclipses and the energies of these two solar festivals bring blessings and opportunities to you. We live in a very potent time, spiritually considered. If you feel like life is like climbing a mountain in high altitude, maybe smaller steps are the order of the day. Perhaps a kindly porter will be sent with a horse. Maybe - just maybe - some mad American will drop by with a helicopter (I'll have to try that some day.) I am not making light of things here, actually. We don't know what is going to happen, but I do know that we will not likely have conditions for inner growth like these next few years again for some time to come and we need to make the most of them. Yes, the world makes demands and we have to fulfill our obligations, but after that, what has real meaning to us? That is what we have to answer for ourselves. What will we achieve? What will be our legacy? What will we be remembered for as the ancestors to our future generations? That is what is before us if we could but see it. The tunnel on our path in life may seem dark, or it may not, but the important thing to know is that we will come out on the other side, still on track. The journey is ever-present and unfolds around us. The destination is always assured. Our attitude about the trip is what is important, not the little bumps along the way. I always liked journeys by train.
Safe travels, my friends. May all blessings go before you.
3 Aug 2009