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Astrology Geekness and the Mercury Fascination Continued

You know it’s bad when you spend your Friday night going to an Astrology lecture.  I am officially an Astrology Geek, my sweet husband even suffered through it with me!

Last night we loaded up after a long day at work for both of us and drove across Houston to Body, Mind, Soul Bookstore to attend a lecture hosted by the Houston Astrological Society and presented by Kevin Burk, a Houston-based astrologer.  Burk has been doing research on Mercury retrogrades using very large data sets and statistics to study its effects.  His presentation was thought provoking.

Astrology has a long way to go to prove itself to the scientific community. But here is someone who is making a start.   Burk studied hundreds of thousands of court cases, looking to see if cases that were decided during Mercury retrograde periods were more likely to be overturned on appeal.  (It has no effect according to him. ) He also studied flight delays and other transportation data and tied this to the seasonal and irregular patterns of Mercury.   The results were unexpected and point to the need for further research and a great deal more funding. But the potential practical benefits are clear.  He found that there was a strong correlation between what sign Mercury was in and the number of transportation delays in huge sets of data that spanned decades and multiple forms of transportation in multiple locations.  Millions of instances of flight, train, and bus delays were sampled as well as car crash information.

He made some valid and interesting points throughout his presentation:

  1. Getting usable data has been one of the biggest challenges Astrology has faced in trying to validate itself to the scientific community.
  2. Statistics and Astrology both study of the seasons/cycles and the correlation of events.
  3. Large data sets are only now much more available online to anyone who wants to use them; only within the past 5-7 years did the data he used become available.
  4. Astrology and Statistics both study the correlation of events and involve the measure time.

I approached him after his lecture and spoke with him briefly about my interest in Mercury cycles and its effect on education, the work of teachers, and learning that takes place in classrooms.    He shared his opinions of how big of a subject that really is: ambiguous and nebulous.  We have such a long, long, long way to go in the realm of Astrology to catch up with the methods that scientists use to conduct research and prove their theories. To that, I really could not disagree.  I know this topic is WAAAY bigger than I am.

I always get new questions when it comes to astrology though, and then when I go far enough with those questions, I always reach a limit I am forced to accept.  It is a reassuring experience to meet that limit of understanding.  It means I can finally take a break.  We cannot know everything.  It acts  like a parental boundary for me, like a curfew, or a speed limit, or other rule or law.      It helps me settle down.  But that acceptance never lasts, inevitably, a new, burning question pops up and a new fascination that leads me on a fool’s errand or a hero’s quest, depending on how you want to look at it.  I’m such a geek.

 

Music and Astrology

It’s been four long months on various levels, with many personal life changes, a move to a new house, changing schools.  With the onset of the new school year, I’ve also changed teaching positions within my school, only six months after beginning my employment there.  My summer was also busy with moving.  All the packing and unpacking, and the countless decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of, which objects fit in my new home and what doesn’t.   This was followed by lots of teacher training in a new curriculum I am unfamiliar with. It’s been like being a rookie teacher again, starting over on many levels.  Starting over though, is my specialty, so I might be too much in my comfort zone.

As the dust settles a bit now, I’ve had a chance to go back to studying the stars with new perspectives and I’m impressed with how exploring my interest in astrology restores me to myself.  Through just reading and asking questions, I regain my balance and certainty about many things, but most especially my personal philosophy gets re-grounded, my sense of wonder re-expands, and my faith in the unseen world is often re-stored.  Right or wrong, it’s enough for me.  I don’t ask or need anyone’s approval or permission, thankfully.

My most recent interests have led me to a fascinating book by Ted Andrews entitled, Sacred Sounds: Magic and Healing Through Words & Music. Andrews was a teacher and an author.  He wrote many esoteric books, but his most famous book was about the relationship of humans and animals, Animals Speak.  He died in 2009.  In this book about music, and ancient bardic traditions, poetry and the power of words, much of what I learned through studying the lectures of Steiner and my Waldorf Teacher training was validated and reaffirmed, though re-framed in more modern language and with new possibilities and potentials expounded.

The most useful and interesting idea which Andrews relates in his book is the assignment of tones to each sign of the zodiac, an idea brought forward by Keppler, though it goes back to very ancient roots. This idea was also promoted by Max Heindel, and Rudolf Steiner, based upon the tonal fifths.  This is still very strong in the Anthroposophical teachings of today.

Andres states, “it is possible to transpose the astrological chart of an individual into a musical composition.”  When we do that, we can hear what is harmonious and what isn’t.”  Aspects become chords.  When a discordant combination of tones is present, we can play various musical tones that blend well with that aspect, bringing harmony to disharmony.    Here is a practical application of astrological knowledge, if it truly works and can be studied. In considering this, two of my favorite worlds come together:  Music and Astrology.  It’s hard for me not to get excited, my astrology-geekness exposed.

While these questions percolate, I continue to look at my students and try to find practical ways to meet them as individuals and as a group through relating to them, guiding them, and designing and pacing the work we do together.  I continue to explore how astrology can serve on a practical level to meet these human needs and questions in education, or if it’s little more than grabbing at straws.

My major area of interest is simple to explain.  A class of students born in the same year would all have very similar Jupiter and Saturn placements, so it would seem some generalizations can be made about a cohort of students.  I’ve also been very interested to study the Moon and Mercury placements of individual students, as much work was done on the study of how people process information, or “mental chemistry” by Marc Edmund Jones, a famous astrologer which would seem applicable to teachers. So, for me, all these ties together: Music, Astrology, Education.  More is there of course, like the moon phase at the time of birth which also brings out some helpful group qualities and individual characterizations and I am sure there is much more than these few things which astrology could bring to education, but these are the big elephants in room in my mind.  I’ve found one published teacher/astrologer online, though I have yet to read her publications.

I’ve thought about writing about these things and publishing them as e-books, or posting them to the popular TpT, Teacher Pay Teacher website for sale, though these are mere curiosities at this point.  I am still at the place of exploring this vast terrain, experimenting, and rudimentary application in my own classroom laboratory.  In my view, if something isn’t immediately applicable to a classroom or an immediate need, teachers are just not that patient or interested.  They have a total of nine seconds to have their lesson planned and prepped for the next day. They are very pressed for time.   On top of that, teachers are famous bandwagon jumpers.   So, in the end, I usually leave behind my temptation to turn this interest into a business and I go back to astrology and music as just a serious interest of mine, with potential to serve or help others.  There is also stubborn prejudice against anything which smacks of occultism, especially in Texas.  I have a long way to go to offer anything that feels safe on a professional level, or useful to other teachers, or seriously tangible. I don’t want to be part of some teaching fad and I truly loathe self-promotion, so I get quickly turned off thinking about things in terms of “business plans,” it all starts to feel cheap and gimmicky.   What really interests me is furthering common good and increasing knowledge, improving practices, helping students with cosmic knowledge that is applicable in the real world.  This is the type of goal often can’t serve two masters.

 

The Stars of Vincent Van Gogh

I recently viewed the Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and came away with new understanding and impressions of this well known master.  I admit I knew or remembered very little about him before attending this exhibit other than that he was the famous artist who cut off his own ear and who had painted Starry Night and Sunimg_4466flowers among many others. I always liked the intense colors of his paintings and the intricacy of his work.

His life story and the body of work was fascinating to behold in this exhibit which was segmented into various phases or periods of his artistic evolution.  When I came home from this exhibit, the impressions it left on me ignited my curiosity and I looked up Van Gogh’s natal chart and decided I might share what I found here.

 

If the sight of a natal chart confuses you, you certainly aren’t alone, but one of the best and most interesting ways to study astrology is to look at famous or historical figures, so I encourage suspension of your reservations.

Vincent Van GOgh jpeg

Reading more about this artist’s biography, I learned that he took up painting rather late in his life, at one point Van Gogh committed himself to a mental institution and while he was there, he created some of his best work.  My favorite piece in this exhibit was this garden scene at the mental hospital where he stayed. It was said that he would set up his aisle outdoors and the other patients would take an interest in his work.  My iphone photo of it below does not do it justice, but the colors in person made me feel serenely happy and glowing. Van Gogh himself was said to have reported that the people he met at the mental hospital were the kindest and most agreeable of people he had met anywhere in his life.

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Vincent Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853.  This puts his Sun in Aries, Moon in Sagitarius, with many planets and asteroids clustered tightly around the 10th/11th House and Midheaven which speaks to his broad influence on the whole world.   I was especially interested to see Venus and Mars conjunct in Pisces, and Neptune in Pisces straddling Midheaven in the 9th House.  There are no retrograde planets. Van Gogh’s chart shows Uranus at 6 Taurus.  Currently, in 2019 we are at Uranus 5 Taurus, so we are currently only 1 degree away from the second return of this planet to where it was when Van Gogh was born. In other words, Uranus has made two complete cycles around the sun since Van Gogh’s birth, almost exactly.

Van Gogh’s earliest period of painting focused on laborers, and then went on to study the portraitimg_4472s of ordinary people. Van Gogh did a tremendous amount of sketching as well and many of those sketches were also displayed in the exhibit.

So many of his pieces incorporated wheat, or scenes from the countryside of common laborers. Below is a slideshow of the quick snapshots I took of a few of the pieces as I went through the exhibit.

 

 

 

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is so much to consider here.   Let’s start with the overall idea with Uranus cycles. I recommend looking at what Richard Tarnas has to say.  If I could sumamrize, Tarnas uses historical examples and ties them to the long cycles of the outer planets, Pluto, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, and weaves their cycles into periods of human revolution throughout history, as well as periods of artistic renaissance, and periods of scientific innovation among others.

By Tarnas’ estimation, “Uranus-Pluto alignments mark a precise succession of the birth of historically crucial figures born during one alignment whose contributions flourish in close coincidence with subsequent alignments.” He mentions Van Gogh and Van Gogh’s relationship with Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s birth marks so well the arc of history in terms of “artistic revolution, heroic idealism, and erotic emancipation.”  In addition, Van Gogh’s significant move to Paris and his meeting with Gauguin in 1885-1886 is marked by a Jupiter-Uranus alignment.

Those of us alive today all share with Van Gogh the experience of living through a period of Uranus in Taurus.  Those who we might know who were alive during the Great Depression and the Second World War know Uranus in Taurus to even greater degree as they would now have completed the full cycle of Uranus around the sun and would be at least 84 years old or older and would have experienced this placement twice.   Van Gogh was born with Uranus in Taurus, 2 Uranus cycles ago, or 168 years ago.  He took his own life at age 37, putting him at the time of his death close to the beginning of the Uranus opposition of his life, also known as the mid-life crisis.  The Uranus opposition is a common experience which everyone experiences between the ages of 37-41.  This also would have put Uranus in the sign of Scorpio for him during his Uranus opposition. Probably not coincidentally, Scorpio is one of the more intense and transformative of the twelve zodiac signs to traverse.  Perhaps it is stating the obvious to say that Van Gogh simply could not endure the intensity of the Uranus in Scorpio transit, the mid-life Uranus opposition, with his various mental and physical conditions. (Doctors has diagnosed him with a form of epilepsy in addition to his mental illness.)

I think the other main points of interest which stand out for me in Van Gogh’s natal chart are the Venus placement and Neptune placement in Pisces.  Venus is the personal planet most closely associated with one’s aesthetic sense, and it is common for astrologers to look to the Venus placement for artists.  Neptune is the planet most closely associated with mysticism and spirituality, or one’s relationship to the divine.  Pisces is often considered one of the most spiritually-oriented, and perhaps also one of the more androgenous of the signs.   I also learned at the exhibit that Van Gogh had studied seriously to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. He was known to study the bible intensely for hours.

In seeking out what other astrologers have to say about artists and their planetary placements, I found the following article interesting.

Artists and Astrology

The author studied the charts of a sample of artists and compared them to a control group to look for what showed up as common placements in the charts of artists.  The author of the article points out that Cancer rising is a prominent trait for 13% of artists that were studied as opposed to 9% of control group. Van Gogh also has Cancer 21 on his ascendant, as well as Saturn in the 11th House, which occurred in 12% of artists sampled, as opposed to 7% in the control group according this this article.

I feel certain that this glance into Van Gogh’s life and his natal chart has only scratched the surface and that it is likely that so much more has already been written on this topic whether astrologically or otherwise but I hope you enjoyed sharing this glimpse with me.  I have a new appreciation for this troubled soul who left such a huge mark on the world through his devotion, innovation and serious dedication to his art.


References

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. New York:  Penguin Group.

Photos of Van Gogh’s works taken in person by L. Gabelsberg at Museum of Fine Arts Houston, June 23, 2019

Link to Van Gogh Exhibit Video, MFA Houston 


Side Note: For more about our current Uranus in Taurus cycle specifically, which will last from 2018-2026, you can read the following article about Uranus in Taurus.

*Many astrologers talk about the transformation or revolution of monetary resources, currency, or the disruption or changes to banking.  Perhaps some look to block chain or other forms of currency as innovation or even disruptive forms of change/revolt.

 

 

 

My New Favorite Word

The word daimon, as used by James Hillman in The Soul’s Code, is my new favorite word. It is like a seed but also a guardian angel.  In Hillman’s book he describes his “acorn theory,” which holds that “each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived.”   In other words, we each have our uniqueness and our purpose.

Hillman sates, “The soul of each of us is given a unique daimon (think “demon,” but good not evil) before we are born, and it has selected an image or pattern that we live on earth. This soul-companion, the daimon, guides us here: in the process of arrival, however, we forget all that took place and believe we come empty into this world. The daimon remembers what is in your image and belongs to your pattern, and therefore your daimon is the carrier of your destiny.” We could think of this daimon as the guardian angel.

Hillman helped me view quite differently how a child’s essential spirit seed relates to the blueprint of the natal chart.  This daimon then, perhaps would have been the guiding spirit who helped select the best possible conditions or select the positions of the stars for the most optimal time, choosing the parents, and the exact time of conception and birth, thus creating the particular pattern in one’s natal chart and the blueprint or code that would be employed for the particular life.

The daimon then, as an entity, precedes the natal chart. The guardian angel precedes the natal chart blueprint, or maybe even helps bring it into existence.  Therefore, we gain different access to different answers by discourse with the angels than we do through study of astrology.  That is not to say that one is “better” than the other, but different. Study of stars will help one gain understanding and connection to the angels will gain a different understanding. I think we need both, and more.

Many questions could branch out from there for further consideration.  Do we get paired with this daimon for only this one life or many consecutive lives through reincarnation? Does this daimon travel with the same soul indefinitely?

 

 

 

 

Mercurial Meanderings

During this Mercury Rx this March, I cleaned house on the Eagle Eye website and temporarily disabled the Eagle Eye Facebook page, using this as a beneficial time to purge the old.   

The purging almost meant gutting the entire Eagle Eye project, but I stopped short, thanks to my daughter, feedback from a friend, and the help of a book, Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman.  Thanks to all of this, I have a new personal goal this Mercury Rx and this season of Lent: transform extreme pessimism into something closer to mild or moderate optimism. Mercury Retrogrades are considered a good time for all kinds of life review and research. This seemed as worthwhile as any form of research I could contrive.

Taking on a new teaching job in January has meant many things, not surprisingly, my astrology pursuits by necessity have taken a back seat to my more immediate demands, such as learning all the myriad software programs now used by classroom teachers and grading stacks of multiple choice tests for first graders.

Pondering the world through an astrological lens and sharing my thoughts with an eye towards what the stars indicate has given me a helpful way to try out different perspectives and has been a gateway for self-expression, but astrology and writing blogs doesn’t pay bills and my teaching job does and teaching keeps me grounded.

I have for my entire work life concerned myself with how to improve education and this has evolved through many different questions and quests. The first quest was becoming a mainstream teacher.  This was followed by investigating alternative forms of education like Montessori, Waldorf, Sudbury, and homeschooling to get a picture of the various educational philosophies.  The next quest was starting new schools. I played a significant part in starting a Sudbury school and a Waldorf school. Then came the quest to learn how to help a fledgling Waldorf school become a mature one. Along the way I learned a lot about faith and hard work and a little about how to work with others and create a community, something I knew almost nothing about when I began.

My most recent quest has felt like a big departure from the world of education and schools: Sharing Astrology as a tool for understanding self and others.

A dear mentor put it to me like this recently, “If you have four or five targets, you don’t load all four of your arrows at once.”  I admit to asking myself, “Why then has astrology become such a target interest after so many years with most of my targets in education? ”

If educators could develop a keen eye for that special germ or seed of greatness that a child may hold, which he or she will unfold and develop in the future, how different of a place could schools be?  How do we improve our “eyesight” and help young individuals unfold themselves in the right way for their present stage of development ?

Education for most students is too often a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Teachers can help ignite the potential of a student through sincere interest in them and close observation. Add to this a little understanding of the planetary forces and our universal cosmic timeline and teachers can work more creatively to meet the needs of the student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Valentine Week

All week we will be experiencing the effects of Mars conjunct Uranus in late Aries. On Sunday the Moon joined this cluster and is now in Taurus as of Monday.

Balancing our personal wants and desires with concern for our relationships with others will be key.

What better time than the week of Valentine’s Day to focus on our relationships?

Aries expresses through the self, through I, me, mine, but will grow from learning about the needs of the partner, the Libra balance point.