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Beyond Thunderdome: The Life and Times of Scorpio

By Malvin Artley
November 2005

Greetings, my Friends!

Been to the 'back of beyond' lately? People tend to think that the desert is a barren, lifeless place, devoid of wildlife and inhospitable to all but the most hardy souls or those just crazy enough to live there. As I found out recently, though, there is plenty of magic in that rusty ground covered in salt-bush and flecked with the occasional lonely gnarled tree. One of my good friends recently reached one of the more dreaded milestones in many people's lives-the 50th birthday. Some folks prefer to hide away, forget the whole thing and stay perpetually some other much younger age. Not this one, though. In true Yang woman style she went all-out and invited her closest friends and family to a big bash-out in the middle of the desert, where the 'roo and the emu play. Since we are in the month of the Pig Traversing a Mountain, it was entirely appropriate that we had to travel six hours across the ranges and desert to join in. The actual party was held at the Silverton Hotel, one of the most photographed and filmed pubs in Australia. It is the hub of a little community of about 50 people, but in its day the place was a boom town of 5000. Anyway, how many times do we turn 50? Little did we know hers was a party not soon to be forgotten, and for many reasons. She is a Scorpio, I might add, and the events that surrounded that milestone had everyone's favorite sign (yes, Scorpio) written all over them.

Scorpio is the sign most associated with what we might call 'Baptism by Water'-the sorely testing trials in which there is sacrifice of the lower nature, the desire-nature is finally overcome and the life is then fully consecrated to the life of Spirit. We find this whenever the Sun or the Ascendant is placed in Scorpio in a person's natal chart. This is not to say all Scorpios are undergoing baptism, but the unconscious knowledge of what Scorpio entails is perhaps why the sign gets a lot of bad press from the other signs. To the esotericist, this baptism is what is known as the second initiation, one of the most painful. There is not much water in the desert, however, and as we left the lush green grass and flowing fields of the Mt. Lofty Ranges on the way to the celebrations the scenery became much starker by contrast and decidedly dry. I was thinking as we drove along about Scorpio and about Plutonian and Martian themes as the desert unfolded along the road. We have had quite a bit of rain in Adelaide over the past months, but not much of it has made it past the ranges. I suddenly felt a shift in the energetics of the landscape and a strange vulnerability as the harsh conditions made themselves apparent. Along with the baptism by water there is also a sort of 'desert experience' with Scorpio, too, at some point in the life. We stopped along the way several times and the silence was almost palpable. The land in the Australian 'bush' has a power and a serenity all its own. One can feel the metal in the land, the strength and the enduring quality of the life there. These are things that Pluto imparts to a person, and which Scorpio ultimately conveys, provided one assimilates the lessons of the experiences undergone.

I have to tell you. Flies are very friendly in Oz. When one gets out of the car in the desert the dear little things come out in droves to greet you. They want to get very close, in your face, up your nose and they love to see what you are having for lunch. I like to share, but I had to keep reminding myself: "Flies are God's creatures. They perform a very valuable and useful service. Harmlessness is a great virtue. This is a good experience for me because it tests my patience and tolerance." Still-God love 'em-I rather prefer to stay indoors than to break bread with that multitude. There are often things that niggle at Scorpios throughout life, especially when we consider that Mars is the esoteric and orthodox ruler of the sign. It is a sign, along with the other fixed signs, that finds it difficult to let go of things and thoughts (which are also "things"). Mars has been called "the great get-evener", and when it is teamed with Pluto-as it is in the orthodox rulership of Scorpio-we have a very potent combination for change, which usually means a shattering catharsis first. There is a strong energy of conflict with Scorpio that Mars initially brings about and which Mercury later resolves, but it is a conflict that brings release from the pull of the lower passions. It is not an especially tolerant sign in its lesser manifestations, and the Mars/Pluto pairing gives the 'sting in the tail' for which Scorpio is renowned when things do not go their way.

We have looked at length about the connection of Scorpio with humanity in previous letters on this theme. It is the sign that is most peculiarly human in some ways, for it governs the group of Lives called The Human Hierarchy (our highest spiritual essence). From the lowest to the highest, Scorpio holds sway in human terms. In the early days of life on this planet-and really all along-there have been moments where human life has been reduced to a kind of existence akin to what we read of in works like Lord of the Flies. The basic tenet in that work is that, without society, we are often reduced to savagery and anarchy. We saw a little bit of that with the recent Katrina disaster. Society (which the occultist would call the beginnings of 'group life') is the glue that holds us together and gives us the training ground for higher living. Without socialization there is no real hope of release into the higher realms. Although Mars brings conflict and Pluto brings destruction and endings, these are things that bring us together in pursuit of the common good. When driven by the lower passions, the Scorpio type is the archetypal anarchist, who lusts after sex and power and who can lay waste to those closest to them through the machinations of their minds. This is the lower Mars/Pluto Scorpio type.

However, when the more subjective and spiritual side of Mars and Pluto take hold of the Scorpio native, life becomes quite a different kettle of fish. In the early stages of the Scorpio life everything is irritating and the urge to dominate is strong so as to bring some sense of control into the person's life. The lower Scorpio seeks only to dominate the outer world and others in a battle for control. As we know, though, there is no such thing as personal control when it comes to spirituality. Life takes over and the burning desire of Soul-life begins to pull attention away from the lower passions. This is the point at which the desert experience comes in for the Scorpio type because the lower passions are then seen to be unfulfilling and devoid of life-true Life. There is naught else to do then but to kill out the pull of the lower passions, to give up one's pride and to submit fully and completely to the call of the higher Self. Nothing of the lower world is suitable to the aspiring one at that point and they wander in the desert-the lone voice crying out in the wilderness for relief and sustenance in the dark chasm that is only the representation of their own tortured mind. There is where we find the likes of Dante's Inferno. Scorpio is the sign that indicates the world disciple, with all its trials and triumphs.

In the pursuit of the total dominance of the lower nature no stone is left unturned. Wherever the lower passions are felt, there they are ruthlessly rooted out. It is at this stage where Pluto's role in the life of Scorpio becomes integral to the process. In short, the subconscious must be cleaned up. The dark caverns wherein the forgotten, yet still-living, habits of thought and desire are found must be lighted, seen for what they are and resolved. As we know, Pluto rules the Underworld, and Mars adds its share of fire and brimstone into the pit. Many readers will know that Scorpio is the sign under which St. Paul-the architect of Christian theology-was born. The problem was that when he sculpted many of the axioms that became part and parcel to the Christian faith, he was heavily under the influence of the higher Mars/Pluto emphasis of Scorpio. Sex, for instance, was relegated to the dust-heap of human activities, the complete dominance and subjugation of the lower desires was the order of the day and the militancy of the Christian faith as it is practiced in the more fundamentalist sects of the religion was born. It was not a healthy mix. The love of Christ was replaced with the hatred of the lower nature and all those outside the faith. Everyone became sinners instead of sparks of the divine. Tolerance and understanding was replaced by zero-tolerance for anything other than the letter of 'God's Law' as he understood that, and life for the average Christian was made a battle between good and evil rather than a celebration of Life, as it should have been. This is all classic Pluto projection and out-picturing.

The desert experience finally culminates in a great battle-all internal-the outcome of which is orientation of the mind toward the higher life. The battle is intense, though, and to the death, subjectively speaking. In short, all situations in the person's life are changed for good, and for the good. People grow and change, thankfully, and eventually the war with the little self dies out, the lower nature is filled with Light and becomes one with the Soul. Then there is a steady intercourse that is set up between the higher and lower via Mercury and the Scorpio stands clear as an initiate-a conscious, living Savior, rather than a destroyer of Souls. This latter phase is the ultimate promise of Scorpio. It is at this point when the human becomes a true communicator between the higher and lower worlds and fulfills the ultimate destiny of the human family, for that role of communicator and way-station is the primary function of our humanity on this planet. So, take heart, my Scorpio friends. Yours is a great path, however troubled at times, and it is the story of every person, regardless of what the other signs think. It is perhaps because Scorpio is the sign that ultimately rules humanity on many levels that people have so much trouble with it-because we sense unconsciously what is to eventually come for all of us and it makes us uneasy. Scorpios are great at holding up mirrors in which we see ourselves. This is why they are so good as psychologists and investigators.

The full moon of Scorpio for 2005 takes place at 12:57 AM GMT (11:57 AM AEDT) on the 16th of November. There are some important esoteric aspect patterns in evidence that we will discuss in due course. It is not as difficult as some of the more recent full moon periods or the one to come in December (Hold on to whatever you can find. That should be a good ride!). However, there are some aspects that continue on the theme of the Mars yod that occurred about the time Mars went retrograde. We have the following aspects in evidence:

The only standard aspect to the Sun/Moon axis is a trine to Chiron, which gives a bit more emotional ease. That will be a welcome relief to many. Chiron speaks of intimacy levels and inadvertent wounding, but it is well-aspected in this chart. Therefore, any wounding that comes will be more calculated and overt. There is also a semisquare by Venus to the Sun/Moon axis, which will highlight certain irritations and anti-social behavior in some quarters. It puts me in mind of the flies in Broken Hill-irritating, not the most seemly sort of attention, but not altogether harmful in any major way. On the whole, this is not a major concern, but it will highlight stresses in relationships if there are any to be addressed.

The main aspect pattern to watch in the figure is the t-square formed by the Saturn/Neptune opposition that has been with us for a while now with the retrograde Mars at the apex. This brings spiritual frustration and conflicts in a big way, but people's outlooks will be changed for the better once the energy of the retrograde Mars is finally released and distributed. We should be mindful, though, that the dynamic of the Saturn/Neptune will not fully release until after July of 2007. It will move in and out of aspect orb because of Saturn's retrograde motion until then. We have a little longer to ponder upon and test our spirituality. This also has the added effect of stifling material ambitions. In all, this is a very good aspect for spiritual contemplation, but it makes it difficult to be very effective in the world.

There is a Grand Trine formed by Mercury, Saturn and the North Node, indicating that we should definitely make the effort to build strong communications with all new people who come into our lives and to fully extract the essence of new situations in which we find ourselves. This leads us to the degree of the Sun for this figure:

After having heard an inspired individual deliver his 'Sermon on the Mount', crowds are returning home. 24 Scorpio

The Sermon on the Mount immediately brings to mind the fact that we will be challenged to transform some of our most deeply-held beliefs in coming days. This symbol fits in very well with the Saturn/Neptune square just discussed. Many will react to what is presented to them by rejecting what they hear out of hand. It will be too uncomfortable to them. Some will hear the message and will build upon it, thus responding to a greater need. Whatever happens, opinions about a great many things will be changed after the influence of this full moon passes. Be aware, though, that the 'Mount' is really only a symbol for the inner place of our communion, and the 'Man' in the symbol is but the higher Self speaking to us, which can be an ordeal in and of itself. This brings us to the next point:

There is a septile triangle with the Sun at the apex, also involving Saturn and Uranus. This will open a door to the inner realms wherein new, beneficent structures can be put in place. Saturn and Uranus together are always about building the Temple and introducing new structures. Business and technology could benefit greatly from this triangle. So will seers and sensitives. This triangle will allow the 'Man on the Mount' to be more clearly heard. There is a quintile triangle involving Uranus, Pluto and the South Node. This triangle points to inventive ways of restructuring old social constructs. In many cases such a triangle can seem destructive or calamitous in mundane terms, but 'social architects' will have a field day with this triangle. Be watchful of power struggles throughout the world. There will be many twists of fate with this one.

Venus is not very happy in this chart. It squares the Nodal axis and is quincunx to Saturn. Relations will be strained under this influence. There will seem to be many fated occurrences around relationships with this pattern. Some will come undone, but such endings will later be found to have been necessary. There will be internal conflicts about what or who to hold onto, along with certain blocks within relations that will surface. Be mindful that many of these things are meant to be, but it will be a major sense of frustration for people. Mars is particularly stressed in this figure, being squared by both Saturn and Neptune. We are being primed here, folks. The pressure cooker is on and we don't seem to know if we are coming or going. All primal ego drives are frustrated or just plain dissolved into another place. This will add to its destructive force when it releases on the 11th of December, just before the full moon. Times will be "interesting" then, my friends. This leads us, finally, to the last point-the degree of the Moon for this figure:

An Indian warrior riding fiercely, human scalps hanging from his belt. 24 Taurus

If you remember from the discussion of the Mars yod, this was the degree where Mars made its station and began that yod. It has made several others since. The symbol for this degree sounds more like a Scorpio symbol than a Taurean one, but the two signs are polar opposites and similar in their destructive capacity, as well as their capacity to build. The image of Kali comes to mind, too, with strings of human (male) heads as her belt-the giver and taker of life and the enabler of the form life.

On the whole, this is a chart that holds a great deal of frustrated energy within it. The release points are fiery and explosive. The gains to be had in terms of understanding and revelation are formidable, though. To stand quiet and centered in the midst of it all is the test. See the circumstances to come as clearing and as heralds for the dawning of something new and good. The world disciple is being awakened. Can we not see that recent disasters have made us acutely aware of shortcomings, motives, strengths, the value of communities, the crying need for the forgiveness of old enmities and for harmlessness? The signs are all around us, yet most people in the developed world seem to go about their lives blissfully unaware that anything is going on other than global warming and the usual machinations of governments and bureaucracies. Revolutions in thought are coming, however. Scorpio is always good for that. Simply realize that when things and people come at you it is the reaction of the mind and emotions that indicate most to us and are of immediate import in a personal sense. As always, though, it is most important that we serve in times of crisis rather than giving in to panic and our own need.

The trip to Broken Hill was like a Scorpio Dreaming. We went from lush land to a desert full of flies. Even in the midst of that, though, we saw abundant life, great energy, good people, communed with like-minded people, shared a good celebration and then went our separate ways. We saw magnificent sculptures out in the middle of the desert. If you ever get a chance, go to see "The Living Desert" sculpture site just outside of Broken Hill. It reminded me of the symbol for the solar degree in this figure, and it definitely spoke to us. Art has a way of moving the Soul that no other medium can. There are a dozen sculptures there by artists from all over the world-full of the hearts of their creators, and standing as timeless, silent reminders that speak volumes about the life that moves the hearts of us all. The pub where the party was held was the watering hole for the cast and crew of Mad Max II, appropriate given the times in which we live and the life of the battling Scorpio native. The next day we all went to the original mine that eventually brought about the birth of Broken Hill and BHP Steel-the largest steel manufacturer in Oz. The mine was a lesson in human suffering, built upon the very lives and suffering of Cornish miners and children as young as 8 years old (yes, they worked in the mines at that age). That is a story in itself. Anyone who wants to know how far we have come with industrial relations and why it is so important that we get things right in that regard should take a tour of the Daydream Mine just outside of Silverton. It will leave an unforgettable impression. Do I sound like a tourist ad? I don't mean to.

As we drove back to Adelaide through the parched land there were storm clouds on the horizon-thick, black and ominous. The lightning was quite a light-show, and soon the rains came. On the way up it was a strange sight to see signs marking flood paths in a land that is bone dry. We soon found out why the signs were there. During a break in the rain we stopped at a culvert and watched the high, swiftly flowing water in amazement. It had only rained a short time, but the land was drenched to overflowing, and we had to move quickly to miss the next lot. We found out the next day that there had been cyclones in Broken Hill the night of the day we left, and that it had been declared a disaster area. The storm brought a lot of water with it, though, and the land and people there were appreciative of that, I am sure. We also found out the roof had been blown off the pub where we had celebrated the night before and it had landed in the men's toilet. Desert wandering, pestilence, human suffering, underground labyrinths still echoing with the memories of nearly blind, opium-addicted, suffering miners, storms, healing rain, hardy people and a magic landscape-our trip had it all in terms of Scorpio, and we didn't even plan it that way. You want an ad? "Come to Broken Hill and experience Scorpio first-hand. You'll never be the same again!" I jest, of course.

I have heard a lot of people comment on how strange and psychically difficult things have been of late. The planets show it. Like the barren land, though, there is strength, power and Life at every turn. All we need do is to open our eyes and really look. We tend to see and judge circumstances in relation to our comfort levels, or lack thereof, but that is not what Life is. Life is in the love that we give and feel. It is in the legacy of the better world we leave behind when the breath finally leaves the mortal sheath. Many of us have been inwardly uncomfortable for some time now. What of it? The joy of communion and the beauty of life overcomes all that. Self-forgetfulness is a virtue much-prized these days, yet the Western world lives in a perpetual dream of comfort, the 'good life' and the next sound/video bite from the computer or television. What will be the gains made from such "living"? If we truly love and serve, none of that matters at all. Can we turn off the tellie and gaze into the eyes of our loved ones instead? You might be surprised at what you see. If you look just closely enough, you might just see a smile coming back at you, as well as your own reflection. How good is that? No 'dream life', just good loving and sharing. I can't think of a TV show or computer game that beats that. Where would we be if, someday, the lights went out and wouldn't come back on, or the car wouldn't start? We may actually have to live together for once. What would that be like? Ask a developed Scorpio. They will tell you.

Blessings, my friends.