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The Bluebird of Happiness

By Malvin Artley
December 2005

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Are we having fun yet? For some reason, it doesn't feel like Christmas this year-or so I thought. I woke up the other morning wondering what the muse for this letter would be. The 'eye in the sky' had told me that it was time, yet nothing was coming. Give me a sign, I thought (without being too melodramatic about it). I had just finished breakfast and watched the morning news. It was all more of the same-crises, misery, erupting volcanoes, political unrest, and more Iraq footage. What a great world we live in! What wonderful scenes of hope and inspiration we are presented with as a daily supplement to our morning tea and muesli! One has to question what we feed our psyches as a matter of course. Things have been difficult for so many people of late. Everyone I speak to has 'a story' about why life is hard for them at the moment. Passing folks in the streets, one doesn't see a lot of sunny smiles. Why does it all feel so different this year? No one seems immune from some sort of inner turmoil in this "joyous" season of 2005. Then, I had an epiphany. In the distance, I heard the approaching sounds of thunder. Closer and closer, it came. The thunder became a roar. The sky is bright, though, I thought to myself. What is this din that I hear approaching? I went over to the window to have a look, and then I found my theme for the letter-to the tune of over 12,000 motorcycles roaring right past the house.

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!" Yep, they were all there, along with Santa and Kermit and Humphrey and Big Bird. Yes, all there-and on motorbikes. Santa looked a little different! People were lining the streets, waving and clapping, some filming the steady and seemingly endless procession of veteran bikies on Harleys, learners on Vespas, extreme dudes on dirt bikes and average Janes and Joes on their more elegant Hondas and Duccatis. The elderly came out from the retirement village and sat in their wheelchairs, waving and giving thumbs-up to the bikers who threw lollies (candy) to the kids that were lining the streets. Every bike had a theme and some were decorated to the hilt, but each one of them were also loaded with precious cargo-packages of Christmas joy to be donated to the Society of St. Vincent DePaul's for the less advantaged children of the area. The parade was made up of people from many disparate paths who all share a common love of motorbikes. It was set up to break down preconceived notions of bikies and to show that a love of giving is alive and well in one and all-an idea that should apply to every day of the year, and not simply a specific season. It is also a celebration of something with which every bikie can identify, which is a love of freedom and wide-open spaces, the lure of the open road (which is another manifestation of a love of the path of life itself), the freedom to be able to take a path less-traveled with an element of risk, rebellion and adventure that people in "cars" would never experience. It all sounds a bit like Sagittarian ideals, as we will see.

This letter will be more about current events than the more esoteric tone of previous letters, but in light of what is happening we need to go into that side of things so we can get an idea of what is on its way. Thus, before we get to the body of this letter, we need to debrief from the last full moon a bit first. I think most of you would agree that the full moon of Scorpio was productive of certain results that have left us all feeling a little worse from wear. I know for myself that I have heard my own personal Sermon on the Mount (the symbol for the solar degree in that figure) and it has left me feeling more than a little disheveled, but also sensitive of some very good things to come over the next few years. That full moon was indeed quite a powerful one and it has served to dredge up many things from each person's subconscious that need to be resolved before the next steps in life can be taken. I was thinking over it all the other day and it began to dawn on me that what has just been described about that action of Scorpio is the very reason why the Christmas holiday season is so difficult for so many. Think on it for a bit. We come into the holidays, at least in most western countries, at the advent of the Scorpio solar festival (full moon), which falls sometime in late October through most of November. Many things are brought up at that time for resolution, and most of it relates directly back to our early childhood, which is the time when we are most vulnerable and easily hurt. Then, what do we do? We go and spend time with the very people with whom the dynamic was formed-and we are supposed to feel celebratory. Well, most of the time we do feel happy to see loved ones. But the other 'stuff' in always there in the background-or in our faces, as the case may be. God has a weird sense of humor sometimes.

Nerves are raw these days and people are on edge. Mars went direct after spending a long time retrograde in Taurus and in a square with Saturn, and the energy of that is nothing short of enormous frustration. Now that it is direct there is a lot that is being shed by people, the dynamics of which are shown by how that square aspects things in an individual's chart. Not only are there fiery emotions being expressed right now, but we literally have fires breaking out all over. Here in Adelaide we just heard of one of the importer's shops burning down today, which happens to be where a few of us had been teaching classes. Now we will have to find new venues. There has just been a big fire at an oil refinery outside London. There have been race riots in Sydney. All around people feel as though they are about to pop under their internal stresses. What is actually happening, however, is that we are all being moved to new locations and circles of people. Mars works under the energy of The Destroyer (albeit beneficently), and it always brings in those conflicts that set us free of restricting circumstances. And, although such conflicts can be heartbreaking in the ensuing maelstrom, better conditions will eventually come about and we will find ourselves in better relationships with people-hopefully. The reason why this would be so is that Mars has been squaring Saturn, and Saturn is all about placement in the world and in groups, as well a the karmic necessities that lead us to the next stops along out journeys. The square indicates that there is struggle in the process, though, along with new qualities being built in.

Keeping these points in mind as we go along, we can now get down to the business of the Sagittarius festival for this year. We are being presented with new goals now. There is always a reorientation that occurs when the Sun makes its ingress into Sagittarius. The clearing work of Scorpio, which is the lord over the period just passed, leaves us wanting and feeling emotionally decimated sometimes. We are then left with the feeling: "Well, what else is there to life? Will this pain and struggle ever end?" Although we have conquered an inner demon or two in the process of Scorpio, what is there to look forward to in the months to come? These sentiments are fairly common for people this time of year. Yet, in some strange manner, Light sings out amidst the darkness when the Sun enters Sagittarius and we are given a clue to the solution of our Scorpio impasse and sojourn in the emotional desert. Idealism returns and we feel once again that life is worth living and we have something worthwhile towards which to strive. These are the key words of Sagittarius: idealism, noble goals, struggle toward those goals and freedom at the journey's end.

It is of interest to note that the solar period of Sagittarius is one of the most heavily-traveled times of the year. Sagittarians are renowned for their exploits and love of travel. With the Thanksgiving holiday in the US and the start of the Christmas shopping season in the West, people are on the move. For many folks, the goal that is sensed for the immediate future is what they will be buying other people for Christmas. Well, I guess we could say that the search for that elusive Christmas gift is a noble goal that takes us outside of ourselves for a brief time every year and which does evidence a Sagittarian ideal-that of struggling along the way for the benefit of others. Those crowds in the malls can be a formidable obstacle to overcome. Still, it is our ability to love and to give along the way that counts, not what we get for ourselves in the process.

What we are given every year during the Sagittarian period is an inner sense of renewal and a reorientation toward some higher objective. Sagittarius is the sign most associated with philosophy, after all. In our struggles throughout life we learn to be philosophical about things. It gives us a mechanism for explaining what would otherwise seem a strange sort of dance through reality. Sagittarians know all-too-well that without a good goal there is no reason to live. It would be better to plant oneself in front of the television and become a couch potato, languishing in the Avitchi of reruns of Green Acres and late-night info-mercials, for example, than to live with no direction or purpose. Whether the goal is material or ethereal, it is rare to find a Sagittarian that is not 'out there' trying to achieve something. You have to hand it to them. At least the Sagittarian will get up and make a concerted effort to better situations, or themselves. So, we have come through a difficult patch this year. What will our next steps be? Where will the coming months lead us? That is always the burning internal question on everyone's mind during the lead-up to the Christmas holidays, is it not?

I may seem a little cynical with the preceding remarks, but I do it to purpose and with my tongue firmly in cheek. I do so, too, because we need to take stock of things now and see what in our lives has value, what it is we need for the times ahead and, more importantly, what we need to leave behind. 2005 has not been an easy year. It has been full of calamities and upheaval. More importantly, it has been a particularly difficult year psychically for many folks. I will talk more about that with the New Year letters, Western and Chinese. This has been a year that has particularly seen the fallout from the Saturn/Chiron opposition that was with us for some months, and which brought so much poignancy with it. That same aspect will be back with us in the first half of 2006. I say all this because the coming full moon will be harder still than the Scorpio full moon and will bring many more major separations and 'psychic explosions' with it, all in the lead-up to 2006. Oddly, 2006 will not be as difficult on the inner planes as was 2005, and we have seen some moderating influences grace us with some relief from what would otherwise have been a most distressing year for the human family.

With that, let us have a look at the dynamics for the full-moon figure of December 2005. This full moon will take place at 3:16 AM AEDT on the 16th of December (4:16 PM GMT on the 15th). As I said before, this will be a particularly difficult full moon. The reason for that lies in a triangle formed by the Mars/Saturn square mentioned previously which is also sesquisquare on both ends to Pluto. This triangle is bisected by the axis of the full moon, with Pluto conjoined by the Sun and the Moon in semisquare to both Mars and Saturn. Saturn is retrograde on top of that, meaning that the normally structuring energies of Saturn do not work as well in the outer world. This is a full moon that will see many endings and things falling into disarray. By analogy, we could say that the pressure cooker has been going full bore while Mars was retrograde, and all of a sudden the lid has blown off. Tempers are flaring and there have been strange fires. Pluto is seeing to it that the frustrating energy of the base square is released, but it usually does so through cathartic means.

The symbol for the solar degree says a lot about the primary energy of the figure, and it reads thus:

"A bluebird perched on the gate of a cottage." 24 Sagittarius

This is supposed to be a very joyful degree. The way it feels at the moment, however, someone has shot 'the Bluebird of Happiness'. There seems to be little Christmas cheer this year. Yet, the melee that we feel going on around and inside us is illusory, the product of years of conditioning that is coming unglued, the safety of our defense mechanisms coming undone. That is exactly what the triangle just-described is doing for us. Nothing feels sacred or safe any more. Life feels ominous to many and ill-defined, especially if we watch too much television. There is an old song by an Aussie band-The Skyhooks-called "Horror Movie" in which they sing about the TV news every night. "Horror movie right there on my TV……..Horror movie, it's the 6:30 news." That is the steady evening fare with which we feed our psyches every day. However, where all this is leading us to is a very good place, indeed. Remembering that one of the key notes for Sagittarius is freedom, what greater freedom can there be than to be rid of the heavy burden of psychic detritus that has weighed us down for years? The issues about which we are being made aware are symbolized for us in the symbol for the lunar degree, which reads thus:

"Children skating over a frozen village pond." 24 Gemini

Dane Rhudyar interprets this symbol to mean 'triumph over entropy'. "Issues", as we understand the term in the New Age vernacular, refer to static modes of thinking-psychic tapes that play over and over in our mind and desires, and which keep us stuck and programmed into what are often negative and restricting patterns of thought. Most people would throw in the fact that we might all be skating on thin ice with this one. Our defense mechanisms (which is what an 'issue' actually is) are most often a veneer, the façade that we present to others instead of the real, inner person. What this actually points to, however, is our need and ability to be able to glide over our difficulties and to find the joy in what is otherwise a frozen situation-a psychic impasse. In the symbol the children are actually skating. They have not fallen into the freezing water below. They are, in fact, enjoying themselves in the beauty of the winter scenery, and they are employing a mode of transport not ordinarily used over water. The implication here is to use the imagination to somehow get beyond the perceived iciness in which we find ourselves-if indeed we are in such a state-and to move with more grace in situations than we would ordinarily call upon. Then, maybe, we may actually find that the Bluebird of Happiness was only momentarily absent.

In addition, we find two t-squares, one with Saturn at the apex (Mars and Jupiter forming the defining opposition) and the other with Jupiter at the apex (Saturn and Neptune forming the opposition). As if this weren't enough, there is what is called a 'hard rectangle' formed by the Sun, Moon (in opposition), Mars and Jupiter (also in opposition). And…these three configurations are all interlinked. Again, I ask you: Are we having fun yet? The Saturn-apex t-square is a frustrating one, with Saturn constantly throwing a wet blanket over the otherwise over-exuberant and overly optimistic expression of the Mars/Jupiter opposition. It feels as though there is never any let-up and there is constantly some thorn among the roses we encounter in life, however sweet. The Jupiter apex t-square is a bit of an odd-bod, as we say here. The Saturn/Neptune opposition has been with us for some time, as you know, and it is pointing to a reorganization of our belief structures, which has been steadily going on for most of 2005. Jupiter at the apex accelerates it all, but it is not a helpful dynamic. It causes people to act on things out of timing and takes away the vision that would normally come from a Jupiter/Neptune square. In effect, issues get clouded with such a t-square. The hard rectangle points to conditions that will force a greater application toward the resolution of difficulties than would otherwise be the case, especially since Mars and Jupiter are involved. On the other hand, it could really aggravate things and cause people to act inappropriately, giving further credence to the warning for the Year of the Rooster Crowing at Noon: Act only in right timing and with good presentation. 2005 could very well go out with a roar. On the whole, this is a very tense figure.

There is only one planetary trine in the chart, the other two trines being to the Moon's Nodes. That trine is between Jupiter and Uranus, giving great breadth, scope and humanitarian appeal to all efforts. It adds to any creative power, with which this chart is greatly endowed. If this chart is rightly used, the potential for creative work is enormous. In fact, that is the most positive expression of this figure. In the outer world, though, this chart will give rise to conflicts of all sorts, as well as calamities. When the dust has settled and the issues have been seen in the cold light of truth and reason, happiness will eventually reign, and it will be due in large part to the energies that have been brought forward by this and the previous full moons. The Gardeners of our Spirit are working overtime these days, and there is a great mound of weeds that is being pulled out all over. Take heart, because the year to come will be easier in many ways, and that happiness will have its roots in the very turmoil we are seeing now.

There were over 20,000 riders in the procession that day, which is not a bad effort. It was like a long, roaring serpent of tinsel, machines and people stretched all the way from the sea to the hills, disappearing in the midday sun. And people loved it! It was particularly poignant for me, though, because it brought back a memory and underscored the tone of the recent weeks. Last year in the Sagittarius letter I wrote of going to see my Aunt Mary at Thanksgiving holidays every year when I was a kid. You see, she was a bikie in her youth, and that is how she and my uncle met. It is still difficult for me to imagine a tiny, five-foot-tall woman riding a full-sized motorcycle in her 20s by herself, but she did. And, she was also a Saggie. She passed over on Thanksgiving Day this year, and it was also her 83rd birthday. She lived a good life, gave a lot to her community and was loved by a lot of people. She was also fiercely independent and ruled the roost while my uncle was alive, and in a time when that sort of behavior was unheard of. In the end, she was an exemplary Sagittarian-high-minded, full of good humor and a lot of accumulated wisdom, always giving, always a touch rebellious-and always difficult to keep up with. As I watched the last bikers disappear over the hills, I thought of her and how much she would have loved to be a part of the proceedings. Thanksgivings will never be the same for me, and it felt like the end of an era. She achieved many of her goals this life, and now a new journey stretches out before her. She is free now, as well, and I can only imagine the joy she must be feeling now that she is no longer encumbered by her frail little body.

Many of us are finding ourselves on new journeys now. Some people who have been with us for many years are leaving, others stick around, but situations simply cannot remain the same. Many eras for people are ending, but that is a good thing as life unfolds. It is pointless to live in nostalgia. There are big things coming for those who are willing to expand their thinking and change their minds. This is always the promise of Sagittarius. The rewards in life are awarded to those who dare and strive to achieve. In the coming years let us all set our goals high and live as though there is no other purpose than to attain them. Maybe then, at the end of our sojourn here, we can then look back on our lives and say to ourselves, "Yes, I lived and loved a good life. There is good purpose to all the struggle we go through!"

I reckon there are motorbikes in heaven. Have a safe and joyous holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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