Each afternoon I disappear into my Recapitulation Project (finding, revisiting, retyping, listing on a spreadsheet and working to turn into google docs, all for inclusion on an archival site as my “legacy”). With 456 items already catalogued, today I read through this unpublished 1986 essay and wonder, aside from our deepening alienation/atomization via technology, what has changed?
And here we are, two days prior to Autumn Equinox (9/22/21, 3:22 PM EDT); how many recognize and honor the annual phenomenon of this seasonal ephemeral balancing act that heralds the coming dark?
CON-SIDER ASTROLOGY (Before It’s Too Late)
I once spent twenty four hours in a Las Vegas casino. Where lights shine bright, all through the night. Robbed of the mystery of darkness, there is only the dazzle of day.
Much the same experience is given to us in cities. There, street lights, glowing, serve as small suns.
We have Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla to thank for this human alteration in nature’s affairs. Day and night, the swelling of day in the spring, of night in the fall, need not be noticed now. We can stay up all night all year long, thanks to these men’s inventions.
Indeed, our cities’ buildings are tall, closely spaced, and often enveloped in smog. The starry night sky is barely visible, with or without street lights.
Our inventions extend our range and our power. And they disrupt our original relation with the natural world. We have electric lights now; we have turned away from the stars.
The word “disaster” comes from the Latin “dis-aster,” “to turn away from the stars.”
When I was growing up, our wrist watches showed the relative sweeps of the second hand, the minute hand, the hour. Now our clocks are digital; they tick the time with no reference, no context. Each second exists apart from any other second. Each one a point suspended within infinite space. The alienation, the atomization, the fission of the human race proceeds from such trivial details.
I just bought a digital watch. Made in Hong Kong. Three dollars and seven cents, including tax. My first watch since high school, class of 1960.
Back then time still moved in swelling crescendos. We were teenagers, we surged with life.
How many of my peers move in digital time, they are robots, keeping time, wasting time, saving time, losing time, gaining time, dead to the life within. Others are dying, of heart break, AIDS, cancer, alzheimer’s.
Though some gardeners still plant by the moon.
And some still notice the effect of the full moon on the tides of human affairs.
And some write books on the pyramids and stonehenge, places where solstices were framed.
And some say the wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem were astrologers.
We hear these bits and pieces of information, we even remember the magnificent Biblical quotation: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.”
That quote too is treated as a bit, one more unit of information — separate from, equal to, any other bit. Each one digital, suspended. Each one lost, alone, with no value.
Computers are our latest inventions. We bow before them, become obsessed by them, give them power over life and death: today’s nuclear war machine is triggered by computers.
We have taken the natural order of things, and abstracted it to the point where the machine has replaced nature; we analyze nature as if she were a machine.
Instead of appreciating the nature of time and its complexity — there is another moment within this one, and another, larger moment which includes it — instead, we see, experience and model time in a linear fashion. Where time is a straight arrow line, where “progress” and “accumulation” are worshipped as gods and the truth of things is a vanishing point, somewhere (else) down the line.
We have grown so insular, we have retreated into our minds so far, we seldom notice the rhythmic cyclical workings of even our own bodies.
We make no sense of mystics’ mention of NOW as the echo of eternity, or even of the hippies’ motto BE HERE NOW.
I doubt the hippies made much sense of their slogan either. How could they? They too are Americans, inheritors of Europe, and European culture; they too experience time as a line, where the present moment is a mere point on the line and whenever recollected is gone, gone.
“What are you gonna’ be when you grow up?”, some ask their children. As if grownups stop growing, as if maturity is some magical state of suspended animation, where the goal has been reached, the deed done.
We owe our rational, goal-oriented consciousness to our largely unconscious and thoroughly pervasive experience of time as a line. Feminists call this the “male” mind; scientists call it the “left brain”; followers of macrobiotics call it the principle of “yang.”
Yin balances yang; right brain complements left; female bonds to male. Each energy has its return swing, exactly.
New moon creates full moon. Full moon swings to new moon, 14.5 days hence. How many moons is how long is how many times has this happened before.
We humans require patterns for our survival. Our lives depend upon our ability to recognize regularity in nature.
These days, we expect the worst. We expect to be detonated, burnt, blown off the earth. Earthquakes, volcanoes, nuclear reactions, what does it matter which disaster strikes?
The times we march to are so regular they are too regular they are like clockwork, clockwork orange, digital. Our fantasies of destruction serve us well, they compensate.
The sun’s daily progress through the heavens, the succession of day into night into day, the moon’s many regular phases, the quarter-yearly sun’s movement from solstice to equinox, the slow comings and goings of the planets through the starry night skies, the earth’s 24,000 year precession of the equinoxes — all these phenomena are, or once were, obvious to us. Each of them is cyclical, not linear, in its workings. Each observes its own time, encloses its own space.
We have reached the end of the line. The cycle of mechanicalness is breaking down. We can blow ourselves up, and those who are left will begin the same cycle again. Radiated, maimed, starving, unaware of the cycle just past, and therefore of human history, and history’s wars, we humans will be condemned to repeat ourselves.
Or, we can begin a new cycle now, before it is too late to remember. We can incorporate the previous cycle within us so fully and so consciously we will have finally broken the mold.
Pray we remember ourselves, the rhythms of our bodies, their attunement with nature’s own. Pray we re-member the sky above, its ever-changing patterns, mapping, mirroring, making sense of what happens on earth below. Pray we re-member that all our bits of information, our “facts,” gain meaning through their function as parts within larger wholes.
Astrology is a language which attunes us to the constantly changing and infinitely variable forms within space and time, circles and cycles, parts and wholes. Astrology returns us to the natural order, where everything is meaningful and nothing is lost.
Electric lights cannot blot out the stars without inviting disaster. The disaster is at hand. Fortunately, so is the cure. Consider astrology. Con-sider: go “with the stars.”