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Trains, Planes and Arjuna's Journey

By Malvin Artley
October 2005

Greetings Fellow Travelers!

I have always been fascinated by trains. Sundays were a special day for me when I was a little tacker (small child). Every Sunday after church my parents would take me down to the rail yard in Burlington and let me climb around in my Sunday best on the big diesel locomotives that sat idle on God's day of rest. After a time one of my parents would board a passenger train with me and ride with me to the next town while the other would hop in the car, race across the city to the next train stop and meet us both there. A ride on the train-how good was that!? Of course, the days are long gone when one can just walk around such a place as a rail yard without asking permission or having to show that one is insured for millions of dollars. It was always a thrill to me to do things like that, and today I guess one would say I still do that sort of thing in my day job. Big machines have always been a part of my life in some way, and the little boy in me still enjoys hearing a machine hum into life and go about its appointed task after I have had a play with it. Nowadays the "play" is serious business since I make my living from repairing those machines, but it still speaks to something deep in my nature when I do so. To this day I can still sit mesmerized as a train rolls past and I watch the long caravan of rail cars clatter and rumble towards their final destination.

The Virgo full moon last month was quite effective in its work. The Pluto apex t-square to the full moon did its job of bringing things to the surface and clearing away psychic debris. Aside from the world disasters, it has been a month of wrestling with inner things for me and for others since then, and there has been a lot of psychic turbulence since the last full moon. I will get to the disasters in due course, but I want to address a more personal note on the fallout from the last full moon in order that we might get a sense of what is happening for a lot of people. As for me, I found myself in a situation where certain questions and possibilities had been put to me that was causing more than a little consternation. My entire life up to this point had come under scrutiny and I had to ask myself some hard questions about certain choices I had made in life. I had been going at all that pretty hard for about a week there when I had one of those moments you get sometimes-you know, the "Ah Ha!" sort of moment. Those sorts of realizations often come to me when I am driving and my mind is otherwise distracted by traffic. The crux of the matter was that I felt as though I was having to make major life decisions and that there were some parts of my life that I had been just totally mistaken about for most, if not all, of my time in this body. I had been given to reflection and had looked hard at where my choices have lead me. Some decisions have put me in good places. Others have not been so fulsome in their outcomes, to understate the matter, and those things had gnawed at me for decades (I'm dating myself here.).

But when the realization came, it was a very simple statement, yet so far-reaching in its ramifications for my life. The gist of it was that all the questions that were being directed at me, that I was having to make choices about and which were causing me so much angst were but the machinations of my own mind and thoughts that I had somehow appropriated over the years. Many of my doubts, fears, guilt, insecurities-and on and on-were constantly being thrown up to me and I had really worked myself into quite a state about it all. It was a classic Pluto phase and experience. When the realization came through, though, everything clicked into place and the madness I had felt suddenly stopped. I thought "What in the hell am I going on about!? There is no need for all this. The only voice I need to hear is the voice of my own conscience and inner direction. In all the times I have done that, I have made the correct choices." It is the only way we ever learn and learn correctly, even if (and especially when) we make mistakes in the process.

Choice must be made. If there was ever a theme for Libra, that is it. It has been discussed at length in past Libra letters. There are two basic ways in which we choose-with desire/mind or with inner knowing. The latter involves faith if we cannot see or directly sense what is on our path. However, that faith springs from self-knowledge and from capability that has been built up over many lifetimes of experience. At some level, we always know what is best in any choice presented to us when we operate in a strong sense of faith in ourselves. The average Libran type chooses according to desire or mind and the results speak for themselves. The Libran type who chooses in such a manner will often be extreme in some area of their life and will be the bane of everyone's existence as their mind jumps from one delectable possibility to the next-always on the fence and ready to drop the present choice for a "better" one. This is the lower Venus phase in the rulership of Libra. There is a higher Venus phase of choice in Libra that is marked by a much truer sense of discrimination and a refinement of mind. The lower Venus phase will still evidence from time to time, but the choices in the higher Venus phase are more motivated toward the refinement of life rather than the gross satisfaction of some desire or curiosity.

When the Libran is truly living their spiritual path, though, there is no longer the lower Venus phase in the decision-making process. Choice comes in an instant and it comes with a certainty that no external influence can shake. This is the Uranian rulership of Libra, and it carries with it the symbolism of "the iron fist in the velvet glove". Uranian choice is Soul-choice, which is conscious choice. Such Libran types can be powerful manifestors in their sphere of influence, and they bring the new and sometimes disruptive influences that lead to better conditions for themselves and all around them. These Libran types are rarer, to be certain, but one will always know them when they are encountered, largely because things are never quite the same afterward. Yet, they are better somehow due to the Libran influence. Conditions are more balanced (perhaps aligned would be a better term) after a good Libran encounter. With the preceding being said, it is my hope that everyone has made some good conscious choices out of and as a result of the dishevelment of the recent Virgo t-square. This brings us to the present state of the world.

We seem to have had some rather major natural world "events" (disasters from the human perspective) over the past couple of months-first Katrina, then Stan and then the earthquake in Kashmir. We also have the constant specter of terrorism thrust at us nightly in the news reports and the powers that be would have us believe that we stand the chance every day of some attack. The toll on life in recent years has been high and people in the affected regions have suffered terrible loss. Our hearts go out to everyone affected and we have given much collectively to those areas to help them rebuild their lives and even simply to survive. The world response has been unprecedented. There is great hope that comes from that, but we should be mindful that many sources have told us there are more of these events to come-in fact that they have only just started. Terrible though these have been, they are all part of nature's balancing act. So far we have been very lucky in western countries, but eventually these things will affect all of us in some way if they become more frequent and potent. Would we be ready if they happened in our regions? The US has had two major wake-up calls (9/11 and Katrina) and we are starting to realize that no one is immune or out of harm's way. Nature plays no favorites. The fact remains, however, that the majority of people usually survive these disasters and go on to rebuild their lives.

The point I am getting to with the preceding paragraph can be stated as a very simple question and goes to the very heart of Libra because it involves fundamental choices about life-paths-How are we to live or lives in the coming years? Or, we can word it a different way. What choices will we make with regard to our individual and collective future? I know people who live in a constant state of apprehension about what might happen in life-worrying about possible futures that seldom, if ever, eventuate. Their entire lives are based upon another simple question always prefaced by "What if……." This sort of thinking and choice is a classic example of the mind getting in the way of truth and paralyzing progress. There are a few people, however, who live by another axiom. They live "as if"-as if life is good, as if what they conceive will happen, as if the Creator is with them always and as if life will go on, no matter what happens. To live "as if" is to live in and by faith and inner knowledge. To live otherwise is to live with a mind sometimes (if not always) tortured more by the very possibilities it creates than by the events that actually come. I put my hand up. Yes, I have indulged in such mental self-immolation from time to time. Living "as if" has distinct advantages, though, and I have found that sort of thinking to open doors to whatever is needed. I may not be able to move the mountain by faith alone yet, but at last I can see my way over and around it now instead of seeing it as an insurmountable or impassable obstacle as was the case in the past. To live "as if" is to make a conscious choice about one's own destiny.

Conscious (Soul) choice is especially important in this particular Libra phase, both because of the clearing that has been wrought through the Virgo t-square and because this full moon is an eclipse, which intensifies the effect of any full or new moon. The Libran festival full moon for 2005 takes place at 12:14 PM GMT on the 17th of October. It will not be as intense a full moon as recent ones have, but that in no way lessens its importance in this cycle. Balance, which Libra also represents, is not always an easy process. With that, let us examine the dynamics of this full moon of Libra.

The symbol for the degree of the Sun reads thus:

"The sight of an autumn leaf brings to a pilgrim the sudden revelation of the mystery of life and death." 25 Libra

Even the smallest everyday occurrence has the potential to trigger revelation in one's life. Every experience also has the capacity to bring one a sense of transcendence above the material concerns of life. To the one who moves in timing and in oneness with the rhythm of the Soul every little episode in life is a teaching aid to a further understanding of the grand plan in which we play our little parts. Hidden in this symbol is a recognition of cycles, especially the timing of life and the passage from it into greater freedom and service upon the moment of death. Also contained in it is the realization of one's placement in time and the season of the Soul in which one is living at the moment. These are the possibilities presented to us at this Libra festival, along with the usual suspects of partnerships, choices and living according to a higher Law. We will also come to know more about the reasons behind the dramas of life and death that are brought into our lounge rooms via the media every day. Revelation has the Soul implicit in it, so we should watch and listen very carefully this month for the inner Voice that is the Soul.

The full moon axis makes a t-square (which is very common) with Chiron as the apex point. Chiron as the apex of a t-square brings its share of discomfort, but it is not a major pain like a Saturn or Pluto apex (like in the Virgo moon) would be. The only other aspect Chiron makes in the chart is to Mars, which is a trine. On the whole, Chiron is strengthened by that trine, so the painful side that is usually attributed to Chiron will not be in evidence so much. This is much aided by the fact that the Sun is conjoined with Jupiter, giving a much greater sense of expansion and a magnanimous nature to the mix. This full moon should foster some good and abiding relationships, especially when we consider that Venus is trine to Saturn. This will not be a full-on party/disaster full moon. It should, however bring rewards for those who have given much and who live in an inclusive manner. For those who are honorable, honors will be bestowed through this full moon. There is always a warning with Chiron, especially when there are squares or oppositions to it, not to be careless or flippant with people because the possibility for inadvertent wounding is always magnified with such aspects.

The Sun is sextile Pluto, meaning that powerful alliances can be formed. If there are disasters that are to occur in the Libra period then the cooperative nature of Libra, along with the Sun/Jupiter conjunction, will bring a lot of aid very quickly and should greatly help relations between nations. This is always the silver lining in a disaster. Although people suffer and die, the ones left behind should live in a better world as a result-if not immediately, then further into the future. If ever there was a full moon to show it, this one shows the possibility of uniting in common cause and of seeing the reality of goodwill along nations. It sounds almost idyllic, and I know the realities are far from that, but some very good seeds for future cooperation and good relations can be groomed under the impulse of the 2005 Libra festival. The worst-case scenario is that the Sun/Jupiter conjunction will act as gasoline on the fires that are already burning in international relations and the lower, more extreme elements of Libra would come out. I opt for the brighter future.

The symbol for the Moon supports and also counterpoints what has just be delineated and reads thus:

"The possibility for man to gain experience at two levels of being." 25 Aries

Most all of us lead double lives. We live in the material realms, identified with them for the most part. Yet, the reality of our being is that this plane of existence is illusory and the true nature of our being is something much more potent and all-encompassing than what we know here. We get glimpses of these expanded realities from time to time and we are reminded then of the reasons for our faith and our belief in a higher Power. In this eclipse, the reading for the Sun's symbol stands in front of the Mon's symbol and all but blocks it out. The revelation of life and death stands in the way of the realization that there is no life or death-only passage from one state of consciousness to the next. Both of the solar/lunar degrees speak of some sort of revelation. It is possible for the two to be as one vision. Life as a human being does not have to be "either/or" (i.e., life as material or life as spirit). It really should be both and simultaneously. That is the goal, anyway. But, what has all this to do with current world events and how does it relieve a grieving, striving world? This last question brings us to an aspect that has been dogging us for a while now-the Saturn/Neptune opposition.

The just-mentioned aspect is one that causes deep disgruntlement and questioning with regard to spirituality. It brings up all sorts of doubts, fears, frustrations and disillusionment. Disasters have a way of doing that, too. There are fundamental choices being presented to us at every turn now. On the whole, we are all being called upon to re-evaluate what it means to live spiritually and how to integrate that into our lives. How much time each day do we spend with our higher Self, for instance? How do we make allowances for everything we need to do? How do we live a balanced life in a world that seems so out of balance? At the moment we feel frustrated at every turn when we try to address those questions. Yet, we must address them somehow. Revelation will come, as will balance in the world and in life. There will be an intervening struggle until we stop wrestling with our own minds, though. It is the old conundrum of how we make the tea cup let go of our hand. We rush around searching for higher realities and the mysteries of life, only to realize that the answers lie within us all along. It all sounds like New Age double-speak , but the fact remains that many feel trapped by life and they are searching for a more elegant solution to their problems. The problem lies in that fact that, although a change would be nice, there is so much lethargy that our ambitions for a different life just tend to go to sleep on us. It will be thus until Saturn moves away from the opposition.

At this point I want to take an opportunity to interject something that will become a regular feature of these letters, and that is the Chinese perspective on many of these matters. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Chinese astrology, along with the western chart (and not in distinction to it) gives a much fuller interpretation of events and people than is otherwise possible with either system alone. I will begin the process this month by giving an overview of the month in very general Chinese terms. We should keep in mind that the Chinese month starts at the new moon, so the full moon marks the mid-point of the month, and the highest point of the month as well. I will probably find it necessary to do a short new moon letter now for at least a year so we can get a flavor of their months. With that, let's have a look at the month of the Sleeping Dog.

There is another t-square in the chart, with the Saturn/Neptune opposition having mutual squares to Mercury, which forms the apex of the t-square. This t-square warns of self-deception and of problems with finances and business/commerce. It will be problematic for communications and the spin doctors will be out in force. It would be advisable to check into all facts before jumping into things feet-first, because things are not all that they seem this month and the media is likely to be skewed in certain directions more so than usual. Venus is square to Uranus, meaning the two main rulers of the sign are at odds. In a sense, a choice must be made about how we make our choices for some people this month. This also adds a note of high independence in matters of the heart and quite unusual associations between people.

Venus forms a Grand Trine with Saturn and the North Node. Alliances and friendships fostered under this full moon will be long-lasting and loyalties will be maintained. New people will bring added strength to all associations. Mercury is in trine to Uranus bringing some quite original thinking onto the world scene. Libra is a mental sign and discrimination of the positive sort will find added strength under this full moon period. The Moon is trine to Pluto, indicating a deep devotion to ideals, especially when we consider the symbolism for the solar and lunar degrees. Mars is still quincunx to Pluto and retrograde, but the yod from last month is no longer operative, so tensions will be eased in comparison to the last full moon. Still, the need for change-and especially the force of change-is strongly with us as we move toward the December interlude and the direct motion of Mars.

As much as I love trains there is one small problem with them: You never have any choice about where they go. Still, it is good to feel the motion of the cars under you as it rolls along, the communion with the people on board, the shared journey and excitement about the destination. It is also fun to hear about why people are going on the ride and to listen to their own train stories or simply tales of life in general. For most people in the world train rides are simply a way of getting back and forth to work and it is but another necessity in their day that receives scant notice. It never made any difference to me why I was on a train or the type of train it was. The journey was always the best part of the experience for me. Life is like that, too. Yes, the route is predictable by rail, but the Soul is like that, too. There is usually only one main task to perform in one's life, a task set forward by the Soul at the end of the previous life. And, like the journey by rail, the Soul's journey has but one main destination, too. It is for us to discover what that is, though, and no one can really tell us what that is. One of the great joys in life (and also one of the terrors) is discovering just what that purpose is and then to live it to the fullest, sharing the journey with our fellow travelers. We can get off any time we like, even though we might find ourselves stranded for a time until the next ride comes along. But, the final destination is always the same and there is always someone to share it with. Sharing is a big part of why we are here. I know that a little better now after recent experiences.

I hope your own journey through life is smooth and without major hiccups as your life clatters and rumbles along. Hopefully your choices have been such that you have been on the right track (Oh, I could come up with heaps of really bad associations with "the railway of life" here. I'll spare you, thankfully.). Whatever happens, however, I hope you can live your life "as if" and thus fill it with love, faith, inner certainty. The path becomes clearer then, and much simplified. Take time to enjoy the scenery as life goes by, too. It really is a lovely journey, especially when it is shared.

Happy trails!


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