Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why Donald Trump will be the next US President



If Donald Trump becomes President of the USA, he will be the first to do so who has neither held political office nor been in the military. BUT he has been the star of a long-running reality TV show (The Apprentice), which nowadays gives the necessary gravitas. This as Saturn (reality, political leaders) squares Neptune (show business). And, as they say, politics is show business for ugly people - or at least, for people with strange hair styles.

To judge whether someone is likely to get elected as a leader, I look for 2 things: firstly, is their chart being empowered by transits, not just at present but during their subsequent term of office? And have they got more charisma than the other guy? It sounds ridiculously simple, but it always seems to be the guy with the charisma who wins. Clinton vs Bush sr, Bush jr vs Gore, Obama vs Hillary/McCain. Charisma is the ability to connect with people, it is a Venus quality, and the guys you don't like can have it just as much as the guys you do like.


First of all, Hillary Clinton. We don't know her birth time, but with her Sun at 3 Scorpio and her Moon at the end of Pisces (and Venus in mid Scorpio), she has no major transits coming up (maybe to her Angles if we knew them, but that alone probably isn't enough). So my first prediction is that Hillary will not be the Democratic candidate, let alone the next President. Transits apart, she doesn't have the charisma factor either - a lot of people find her hard to like, even if they agree with her politically.

Hillary has Venus in charismatic Scorpio, but it is square to Mars-Saturn-Pluto in Leo, giving her a hardness and aggression that overwhelms the Venus - her charisma probably only peeps out at quiet moments when there are no battles to be fought.


The only other serious Democratic contender is Bernie Sanders. There is some doubt over his birth time, but even so his Sun is experiencing an opposition from Neptune, and his Venus-Moon opposition has hard transits from both Uranus and Pluto. So this guy is in the game, and will probably be the Democratic candidate. If he does become President, it will be just for one term, as his transits will run out of steam, as will he, being nearly 80 by then.

Bernie Sanders
Then of course there is Donald Trump. He has Saturn hard-aspecting his Sun and Moon and North Node through to the end of 2017, and then Neptune starts to move in on his Sun, Moon and Node, admittedly from some distance, but that can easily be enough.


This is the man who wants to ban Muslims from entering the US, and to build a giant wall along the US-Mexican border. This is very Saturn. He also wants to 'make America great' again (as if it wasn't already the world's most powerful country) and this theme of redemption points to the future influence of Neptune on his chart.


Neptune is also influencing Sanders' chart, and it is more immediate, but here the meaning is I think to be found in his feeling for the ordinary American struggling to survive in the face of the greed of Wall St and big business. Neptune is also associated with socialism, which Sanders leans towards. He does not present himself as a redeemer in the Neptunian personality-cult sense that Trump does.


Donald Trump
Trump is the latest representative in the lineage of paranoid politics in the US, that whips up a fear of enemies from within, that began with the Salem witch trials, then continued later with a fear of Catholics and the Irish, then the Communists in the McCarthy era and now the Muslims, stirred up by Trump.


One of Trump's great strengths astrologically is that his Sun-Moon opposition in Gemini-Sag lies along (or near enough) the US Asc-Desc axis (Sibly Chart), while Trump's Desc at 29 Aquarius is 2 degrees off the US Moon at 27 Aquarius, making him very close to the American people, they feel he is one of their own. Sanders does not have this close connection: he is therefore more like an outsider looking in, able to see in a way that Trump can't, but he doesn't belong like Trump does. Trump is  a wasp (the German Drumpf family), Sanders has Jewish ancestry.


Trump is a few weeks older than that other wasp, George W Bush. Both have North Node in Gemini conjunct Uranus, describing the maverick, charismatic, right-wing quality they share. Both are from wealthy backgrounds, giving the sense of entitlement that can come with Leo Rising (which they also share), that perhaps makes it easier to dismiss others not just as inferior but as enemies.

This election is taking place in the closing stages of the Uranus-Pluto square, which has been with us since about 2009. This square traditionally brings political extremes (the last square was in the 1930s). In the UK we have it with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party. He is very popular, very left wing, and generally seen as unelectable.

And in the US both Trump and Sanders are at the extreme end of their respective parties. Like Corbyn, Sanders is very popular. But he is socialist, and the American electorate doesn't do socialism.

This year we also have a square from Saturn in Sag to Neptune in Pisces, that impacts on the US Sibly Asc at 12 Sag. And we can see both planets in the campaigns of Sanders and Trump. In the case of Saturn, Sanders wants to see proper governance of big business and to rebuild the infrastructure, whereas Trump plays of the fears (Saturn) of foreigners (Sagittarius) and wants to build walls. It is also the Saturn opposition of 9/11 (which also strikingly impacted the US Asc-Desc with Saturn-Pluto lying along it), so it is a time when fears can be played on. And it is Trump who has the close relationship with the US Asc.

So for 5 reasons, I think that Trump will beat Sanders: he has more personal charisma (Sanders has more integrity, but that's not the same thing); his chart is far closer to the US chart; America doesn't do socialism; the fear factor is big and probably decisive right now; and it is the Republicans' 'turn' after 8 years of a Democratic Presidency.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Wishes and Prayers

I've just started another blog at www.shamanicfreestate.blogspot.com. There's a mailing list on it if you are interested. Meanwhile here is the second post. Happy New Year!

In my last piece I said that I put shamanism - or it put itself -  on a back burner in the early noughties. That was true inasmuch as I stopped doing stuff and ran with astrology instead. But not true inasmuch as I was around someone doing it, though the guy concerned would not have used the word 'shamanism'.

We moved into a new house in Glastonbury in 2001, and I had the wish that a Native American teacher would turn up. And turn up he did, a few months later. A friend had rung saying there was this guy over from Canada who was a story-teller, teacher etc and was looking for places to run events from, so we said yes. And for the next 8 years or so Chip (as I shall call him) and/or Fish (his pupil) visited twice a year and did story-telling, teaching, sweat-lodges, pipe-ceremonies and individual counselling and healing. As well as some great conversation round the table.

So why did he turn up in the first place? Was it just because I wanted him to? I'm sure the bigger picture was playing its part, and there's nothing I can say about that. And I like sensing that dimension - which is most of everything - about which I have nothing to say, and never will. As Chip used to say (speaking from the Chippewa-Cree tradition), our individual human consciousness is tiny compared to the consciousness of the universe, so how can we individually know more than a miniscule amount about the universe?

That just seems to me so sane compared to the modern attitude, inflated by technological success, that sets human consciousness at the pinnacle of knowledge.

So yes, the bigger picture played its part. But I'd also wished he'd turn up. And looking back, it was a wish in the form of a prayer, though I didn't put it to myself like that, and that is also why Chip turned up.

It wasn't just a fancy, it was more of a desire that had a depth and sense of congruence to it, it felt right. And I think that is how prayers work, as in what we do in pipe ceremonies and sweat lodges and wherever else. There needs to be deep feeling involved that is beyond narrow personal desire. If you like, there needs to be a transpersonal element that connects to the wider web of all-that-is. And that gives it power. And it does not need to be 'realistic': that can just get in the way. A prayer is what comes out of our mouths spontaneously and in a heartfelt way. Who are we to say what is and is not possible? Spirit is beyond time and space: shunting things around on the physical level is the least of its problems. Getting us intransigent humans to look at ourselves and act in what is our own best interests is the really difficult problem!

Some people say don't think about your prayers in advance, because they need to be spontaneous. Personally I say dwell on them, think on what you really want for yourself and for others, and those wishes will grow inside you, so that when you are in the ceremony your words will have more power. And when your words have that power, how can there NOT be a response? When we feel something deeply, it connects us to the universe.

But we also need to be open to what that response might be. I know someone who used to treat her prayers like a shopping list, and say them in the full confidence that she would get exactly what she asked for, and as far as I could see, she rarely if ever got that. We may be specific in our prayers, and I think we need to be specific. And then open to the outcome, to the response, because there is something that knows more than we do that is responding.

Friday, November 13, 2015

ISLAMIC STATE, FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE WEST

NB I published this piece a few hours before the Paris attacks took place. I'd had an idea come to me about the way we project our own fundamentalism onto Islamic State, and I realised I had a blog to write. But the timing is interesting, as though the idea had drifted in to my mind from the collective.

Medieval Christianity got us in the way of thinking that there is only one reality, and we have continued to think in that way since modern science superseded Christianity. Thinking that there is only one reality is a definition of fundamentalism.
 

It all comes back, according to one theory, as to whether a religion arose in the jungle or the desert. In the jungle there are many realities, and you get polytheism. In the desert it is much more like one reality - the sand, the blue sky and the scorching sun - so you get monotheism. Which of course isn't always fundamentalist, but it lends itself to it more easily.

Christianity and Islam both arose in desert countries.

It can be hard to see our own fundamentalism in the West. I guess it's hard for anyone to see their own fundamentalism, as it's a shadow quality, one that we don't want to admit to. You just think that what you are seeing is the truth, the way things are. "Of course God didn't create the universe, there is no evidence for it; whereas there is plenty of evidence for the Big Bang." It depends HOW you think that: some are quite happy to think that and let others have their own views, whereas others - the 'New Atheists' -  want to root out religion wherever they find it. 


Others may not go that far, but when you hear the mocking tone as soon as you mention e.g. tarot or homeopathy (which in my view are essentially divinatory rather than scientific), then you know you haven't just got disagreement - which is fair enough - but a degree of fundamentalism. And that mocking tone is very common, it can be almost de rigeur amongst some academics.

The real fundamentalists, of course, are over there in the Middle East, particularly in the form of 'Islamic State'. Or, as even the BBC calls them, 'so-called Islamic State'. Or, as David Cameron calls them, 'ISIL' - a name they stopped using a while back. Either way, the official line seems to be to refer to them in such a way as to suggest we cannot possibly take these people seriously.


Which is understandable, even desirable, but it is also a case of collective projection. It is hard for us to see the extent to which we view our own form of knowledge - science - as the only form of knowledge, and our political system - democracy - as better, as superior, as more evolved, the only acceptable system. No, we are tolerant and fair, we seek real knowledge and a better world. 

Witch Hangings
It is people like Islamic State - and Islamists generally - who are the real ignorant fundamentalists. Of course, particularly in the USA, there are plenty of Christian fundamendalists (Europe having exported many of its religious extremists to the New World several centuries ago), as well as scientific fundamendalists, but at least they can unite in pointing the finger of intolerance at IS.

And we are right in thinking all these things about IS. They really are all these awful things that we say they are. 


But we also enjoy judging them, disapproving of them, it makes us feel superior - well, some of us, at any rate - and that, I think, can be the sign that we deny those same qualities in ourselves. And it's an unconscious process. People are sincere in their hypocrisy. When we disapprove, we are saying to ourselves that we have none of those qualities in ourselves. But we do. We all have tendencies to fundamentalism, intolerance and violence.

Ironically, IS is an almost direct creation of the West, it is a shadow thrown up by our own imperialism - it is therefore part of us rather then just something 'Other'. It went something like this. Iraq was ruled by its Sunni minority. The West ousted the Sunnis and put the majority Shias in power, the 'democratic' solution. The Shias then discriminated against the Sunnis (because they are not an 'advanced' democracy like America and the UK), and the Sunnis fought back in the form of IS. This was predictable in advance, which is why I say IS is an almost direct creation of the West. IS, it seems, was created by ex-officers from Saddam's army, who knew all about fighting, and they put Al-Baghdadi as the figurehead, to give it religious legitimacy. At least, that is one story of how it came about.


IS has a very powerful idea behind it - the re-creation of a Caliphate stretching across the Middle East and beyond - so its origins will quickly be engulfed by mythology. (Rather like 9/11 was).

IS - or even the Taliban - versus the West is the latest version of the the old struggle between Islam and Christianity. Historically, they seem to be as bad as each other. Islam had been encroaching on the Byzantine Empire - which was Christian - for centuries before the Crusades began. When the West invaded Iraq, like it or not, it was carrying this mythology of the ancient enemy. You can either be conscious of it or unconscious of it, and if you deny that history - as a politician has to, at least in public - then it becomes unconscious.

Nowadays we do not call our Islamic enemies 'infidels'. We call them 'terrorists', which amounts to the same thing. In reality, we are engaged in a power struggle with Islam in the Middle East, just as we were 1000 years ago, and just as we did then, we de-humanise the enemy. Just as they de-humanise us.

The 1st Crusade occurred in 1096, and its immediate aim was to allow pilgrims access to the Holy Land, which had been denied to them since it came under Muslim control; its ultimate aim was to re-unite the 2 branches, East and West, of Christendom.

1096 was the aftermath of a Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Aries. Uranus-Pluto hard aspects, which occur every 40 years or so, herald periods of radicalism and power struggle. The conjunction is the most formative of the aspects, and Aries, as the 1st sign of the zodiac, begins things, by going to war if necessary. The Crusades began something - the power struggle between western Christianity and Islam - that continues even now.

The actual crossings of 2 outer planets churn up what is underlying, but we often don't see the results until a few years afterwards. Like the 11th century Uranus-Pluto conjunction. And like the Uranus-Pluto square of the late 20s-early 30s: Nazism came in its wake. And the conjunction of the mid-60s: the summer of love and many of the protests followed afterwards.

And it's the same now. Uranus and Pluto finished squaring in early 2015, soon after IS made its first big gains, but the real battle is only just beginning. 


And the main point I want to make is that Islamic State - 'so-called' or otherwise - is not just evil and 'other': it embodies tendencies that we all have, and more than that, it arose almost directly out of us westerners acting on those same tendencies, creating a situation of mass slaughter in Iraq: has IS killed as many people as the 250,000 or so killed by the sectarian fighting in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Evolution vs the Perennial Philosophy



I don't believe that consciousness 'evolves'. Evolution is a 19th century abstraction that we impose on our experience. And I'm suspicious, because the primary mechanism for evolution is 'survival of the fittest', a harsh and unforgiving ethos that merely reflects the capitalism of the day. A Creation Myth (for that is what it is) that justifies the worst in human nature.

A few months ago I had a dream in which I saw a speckled moth, beautifully part of and belonging to its surroundings, and at the same time I understood that evolution as we know it told us virtually nothing about how this moth came to be.

I'm not a creationist. You could say I'm a metaphysical agnostic: I just don't know how these things come to be, and I don't think they can be understood in any simple 'rational' way.

I think that Evolution is generally understood mythologically rather than scientifically. This is because most of us haven't seriously studied the evidence, yet so many accept it as a fact that you don't seriously question. It is therefore mostly a belief. We accept it because it tells a story about how we came to be, that is more acceptable nowadays than the Biblical creation myth. We accept it more for emotional than intellectual reasons.


There is nothing wrong with this. We need stories about the world that are emotionally appealing. It has always been this way. These stories contain truths about existence, and ideally you need some of them to contradict each other, just so we don't think we are in possession of the 'one truth'.

The problem with evolution as a story is that it twists life into a brutal struggle, and reduces the scope of existence to the visible, material world. (As quantum physicists have asserted, it is consciousness, not matter, that is primary.) Evolution is a story posing as an unassailable fact, that continues in an inverted form the brutal creation myth of the Old Testament.

It is this resonance with what came before that contributes to the emotional appeal of evolution. Intellectually we are satisfied because evolution opposes the religion we have left, emotionally we are satisfied because it resembles that religion, with the added bonus that humans are now at the top of the Great Chain of Being instead of somewhere in the middle.

It is because of this emotional appeal that Evolution is firmly accepted as a theory on the basis of evidence that would be laughed out of court in most other scientific disciplines. There is more direct evidence, for example, of homeopathy working, but again for emotional reasons, that evidence is frequently rejected.


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No-one has seen evolution occur, the most we have directly seen is a bit of adaption to circumstances, which is not the same thing. The evidence is partial and circumstantial. Something has gone on, we know that from the fossil record. And DNA studies show that all forms of life on earth are closely related to one another, which is a wonderful result.

But how a whole new species arises is not understood. Assuming it is consciousness, not matter, that is primary (though that statement itself suggests a divide between matter and consciousness that I don't think exists), I think new species are dreamed into being by consciousness, as much as they are generated by physical processes.

Though to what purpose they are dreamed into being is a mystery, part of the Great Mystery, the unknowability of existence.


This piece was prompted by an article by astrologer Glenn Perry, in which he sets the development of astrology in the context of a purported 'evolution' of human consciousness, in which he (wrong-headedly) declares "It must be emphasized that human awareness at this stage (4000 B.C.-1500 B.C.) was still quite dim, more like a toddler’s consciousness than a modern adult human."

Evolution has become central to the way we think about life, and it is natural to take the step of thinking of evolution as not just a physical process but as a mental/emotional process.

Evolution implies progress from an inferior stage to a superior stage of life. It is not just saying that change occurs - which would be fair enough - but that there is a value to it that makes the later stage in some way 'better' than the earlier stage.

It is one way of making sense of human history, but I think it is hard to get away from the implication that we are more 'advanced' than our forebears. I don't think this is justified, and if you junk that idea, then I think you have to junk the whole idea that human consciousness 'evolves'.

I used to have a Canadian Indian friend visit (yes, they call themselves Indians, not native this or that) and he was brought up speaking the language of the Chippewa Cree and immersed in their stories and philosophy. One thing that impressed me was their subtle understanding, through the stories of Wisahitsa, of the human ego and the tricks it gets up to: one of those tricks would surely be the self-important idea that we are 'superior' to our ancestors! Philosophically the tradition is keenly aware of how unknowable the universe is, refusing, for example, to take a position on what happens after death. And their philosophy and psychology is set in the richly imaginative context of the traditional stories, which my friend was able not just to tell but to expound on their meanings.

The usual patronising evolutionary story is that early people had their wonderful participation mystique with nature, which we have lost, but that is the price we have had to pay for the development of self-awareness, individuality, a strong ego and rationality.

In "The Passion of the Western Mind", astrologer Richard Tarnas says that it has been the task of masculine consciousness to forge its own autonomy and then come to terms with the great feminine principle in life, and thus recover its connection with the whole. This will constitute "the fulfillment of the underlying goal of Western intellectual and spiritual evolution." (p442)

In "The Philosopher's Secret Fire" (pp 263-6), Patrick Harpur takes issue with this position: "Evolution is a spirit notion which soul does not recognise. Traditional societies do not evolve. They live within a mythology which contains all imaginative possibilities, Earth Goddesses no less than Heraclean egos... Because we are changing, we think of ourselves as evolving. We are not. We are literalising the old myths...  If the rational ego is to disappear it is more likely to be destroyed by the ricochets of ideologies made in its own image."

My experience with my Indian friend suggested to me that early peoples are NOT lacking in rational egos - if you think about it, they needed to be a lot more creative and thoughtful than we need to be just to survive, apart from any philosophical sophistication they may have had - but rather, that ego has not become divorced from a sense of participation in nature.

As the poet Ted Hughes said: "The story of mind exiled from Nature is the story of Western Man."

I think that is the real story.

I think there are perennial truths about existence that have always been available to people from the earliest times, along with elements in our nature that can take us away from those truths. And the big truth we have lost is a felt sense of our participation in nature. What has gradually developed over the last few thousand years - ever since Plato and his separation of 'ideal forms' from nature - has been a massive loss of soul.



For a great exposition of this theme, see Anne Baring's book The Dream of the Cosmos. She explores this idea in the context of a well-researched account of the shift from lunar to solar mythologies.

There has been dazzling technological progress, and in a way it is natural to assume that makes us more 'advanced' than people who do not have that technology - as if we personally invented it! But I don't think it has made us more whole as humans.

What has developed has not been the rational ego - that has always been there - but the rational ego divorced from nature. Nature as something we can separate ourselves from and look on dispassionately, out of which has come at least as much harm as good, as the environmental crisis testifies to.



I think it is possible to view much of the technological progress of recent times as a mad dream created by an out-of-control rational ego. We didn't need all this technology for tens of thousands of years. It has been produced by a crazed mind, crazed because it has lost its roots in who it is.

The world we live in needs re-dreaming. We need to recover the perennial truths of existence, in which we are participants in, rather than observers of, the cosmos, and use that as a point of balance.