Holy Birthings

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.” *

512px-William_Blake_006 Hecate

Spirit and matter

Is not the beauty of the Christmas spirit a celebration of the birthing of the holy child, the god incarnate? Might this celebration begin anew in every birthing as yet one more infinitesimal experience of the miracle of spirit and matter manifest as one?

“Eternity is in love with the productions of time.” *

William_Blake_-_Sconfitta_-_Frontispiece_to_The_Song_of_Los

Matter and spirit are then the form of manifestation in this earthly dimension. No need to transcend the physical, as if you could outside of death, but more to be present to this eternal now; to experience this unique distinction in style and quality of creation’s possibilities. What we call the physical, necessarily then, is embodied spirit. If, or when we are only spirit, it would not be here in this earthly human form.

The Language of Image

Although the modern, much more recent term, is inner and outer space, before this objectified view, heaven was not an outer space separated from an inner form. Who knew where we were but for a small glimpse above into an unfathomable eternal realm. Even the stark contrast of hot star and cold space that we have now measured was unimaginable from this perfectly temperate earthly home.

Spirit and matter bound together as the marriage of Heaven and Earth might now seem an impossible image to carry us along the human journey, and we might still refuse its simple truth that there’s nothing to transcend, nothing split apart, and that it’s only the images we carry telling us differently. Seemingly opposite, spirit and matter are a lover’s embrace necessary for this earthly realm to make manifest in just the way we are in the here and now. In the vastness of space as we now know it, how could it be more sacred, more miraculous?

Blake_Experience_Introduction

In the West in particular, the historical struggle against the elements has become cemented into an idealization of spirit, opposing it to matter as if the two could be separated in this human form of embodied senses. Perhaps too much disregard and devaluing of matter is primarily what has brought us to the brink of ecological and socio-political disaster.

I know I am not alone in the mourning of the loss of these ancient images that embedded a sense of belonging to creation; the miracle and necessity of it. Image itself, seems to be relegated to that of the fanciful or child’s play. No wonder we are so burdened by a dire sense of reality that compels us so passionately and deeply. Is it perhaps in faint recognition of the loss, the burden of action, desire and responsibility so painful that to claim a sense of belonging stifles the heart into a sense of longing?

“And we are put on this earth a little space that we might learn to bear the beams of love.” *

Love

Traditionally, matter has associations to the feminine and the body; matter, from the root mater, or mother, as in mother Earth as compared to father sky. Matter is often “what’s the matter,” a question, perhaps spiritual in nature, that seeks to identify problems within matter. If overly identified with spirit, we are prone to make unfair claims on matter’s part in the mess of life. But is it not to spirit’s desire that we find the urge to hasten, neglect, chastise and blame the flesh, along with the matter of earthbound being? What if these lovers called a truce and could see the impossibility of any absolute separation, but rather see the space between as degrees and qualities of perception? …and then perhaps lived through a caring for their mutual needs in this eternal dance?

To rise from history to mystery is to experience the resurrection of the body here now, as an eternal reality; to experience the parousia, the presence in the present, which is the spirit; to experience the reincarnation of the incarnation, the second coming; which is his coming in us.

Norma O. Brown

If a more feminine receptivity were to take a deeper root in psyche and find a truer relationship to the spirited masculine, a conversation might take place in which a room is then prepared for the marriage, a holy communion, or Jung’s coniunctio. Perhaps we need the second birth, even the perpetual holy birthing, to realize and actualize what the marriage of Heaven and Earth makes possible through this amazing earthly human experience.

*All quotes and art, except where noted, William Blake

Meditations on Astrology

“Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
But now was turning my desire and will,
even as a wheel that equally is moved,
The love which moves the sun and the other stars.”

Dante’s last line in Paradise

Last December, shortly after my mother passed away, I signed up for Adam Elenbaas’s Hellenistic Astrology course*. How little I understood then the timeliness of this course of study with its potential for reseeding and sustaining me through the subsequent changes in my personal life. The class is difficult, challenging me to discipline my study habits and to align them with the teacher’s plan and vision – for learning now, and eventually, for practicing astrology on my own.

Here goes a first attempt at articulating some thoughts I have about astrology, which like alchemy, I see primarily as a practice for deepening my understanding of the human experience, where the map can align with the territory, revealing a new depth perspective of the landscape. There are countless details yet to incorporate before this new language can begin to be more fully articulated. Astrology itself, is a big world, filled with many diverse voices and perspectives.

Aurora_zodiac

Practice

Astrology, in the most basic sense, is a way to see and discover the vast array of correspondences between heaven and earth, between the ideal or archetypal realm, and the everyday world of our lives and the patterns revealed over time. The astrological chart then, is an image of the skies from the perspective of Earth. The “wheel” shows the positions of the planets from two distinct perspectives:

  • Primary or geocentric motion: the clockwise east to west motion that we observe from sunrise to sunset.
  • Secondary, or heliocentric motion: the counter-clockwise motion of the planets relative to the constellations or zodiac.

Cosmology

Astrology, like alchemy, can provide yet another form or structure for an initiation into a personal experience of the eternal mysteries, the Divine will of the gods, of which we each share a portion of both their glory and fall, or what the ancients referred to as fate.

Fate: late Middle English: from Italian fato or (later) from its source, Latin fatum ‘that which has been spoken’, from fari ‘speak’.

Throughout human history, and in a variety of cultures, astrologers have provided us with the tradition of tending to the “wandering stars” as signifiers of power for their ability to move contrary to the backdrop of the fixed stars. Perhaps the awareness of this secondary motion, sparked the idea that we too, could either harness their powers, or be harnessed, depending on our knowledge and alignment with the heavens. If fate itself is a power, perhaps, we too, could understand it, or least be present to its impact upon us.

That we are situated, a human body on this tiny planet, in such a largely unknown cosmos, when not taken for granted, is humbling. Perhaps through the recognition that astrology offers us a vision of alignment with the cycles of the planets, we might feel all the more that we too, must belong. We are after all stardust! In some ways, we have lost the sense of connection to the underlying powers of any unseen world, just as we no longer remember the stories of the ancient ones.

Viennese_zodiacI am grateful to have found an astrology teacher who suits me well. Adam is immersed in a variety of esoteric traditional studies (See his excellent series on the Hermetica), and views astrology as yet another practice that can mirror back to us the ways we are aligned, or misaligned as the case may be, to the cosmos. Through this embodied life, with all of its joys and sorrows, we are, all of us, offered an experience of something so much greater than what meets the eye.

Are we able to embrace the totality of our personal experience as necessary parts of the whole and so align ourselves into a radical acceptance of the need for cooperation with each other and the powers that be?

Antoine_Caron_Astronomers_Studying_an_Eclipse

Fear

Traditional, or Hellenistic astrology, unlike more modern forms, did not shy away from the idea that each of the planets held distinct qualities and influences, and with the exception of Mercury, were considered either benefic or malefic, depending on the qualities of their illumination. Jupiter, big and bright, is considered a benefic, and brings expansion and good fortune, Saturn, with its darker nature, and the farthest away of the seven known planets, was seen as malefic, associated with the time-bound, finite qualities of living beings and, until the more recent discoveries of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, also served as the end of conceivable time and space.

The ancients, of course, were more vulnerable to the hardships of life, and hence, to a fear of the unknown with the need to seek and find meaningful tools for survival. The idea of fate, that the heavens could “speak” our predicament, was deeply embedded in day to day existence of many peoples and often related to” divine will” whose powers were transmitted through earthly conduits, such as demigods and royalty. To seek access to the divine gifts of the gods was a way to harness power for both mystical and political practices.

While some moderns might argue that rational thought replaced the superstitions of astrology, and that we are better off for it, one must not only ignore the technological context of objective reality in any given era, but might also reflect on the condition we now find ourselves in. If for us moderns, it is no longer true that we can directly experience the state of the world through feeling her mystery, awe, beauty, fear and joy, and if we have become incapable of seeing that the use of technology and political norms has brought us to the brink of destruction, then we are left with a meaningless “nothing but” world of bucket lists, calendar dates with a heap of destruction in their wake.

 

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The Natal Chart

As I am just beginning to learn the basics of reading a natal chart, useful patterns already begin to emerge. As I ponder the meanings of planetary positions, aspects, house placements and dignities, a story emerges that resonates deeply within me. 

Any form of an interior practice should, I think, take nothing on faith, but keep all questions front and center. As well, questioning need not deter one from engaging the practice. As with other forms of contemplative practices, trusting in the process as a potential for opening oneself deeper into reflection becomes another precious gift.

My prayer is for the humility to release me into current life changes; to stay with this new practice; to trust and accept in tending to the work, and that it may bear fruit worth sharing.

  • Along with the Nightlight Astrology class experience, I am also grateful to KoneKrusoKronos for his astrological reflections that can be found here:

https://konekrusoskronos.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/the-mother-of-all-sciences/

https://konekrusoskronos.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/astrology-spiritual-alchemy/

*The ideas presented here are strictly my own interpretations.