December, 2008


Mythic Prelude:

The Quandary

Hello. Welcome, and byaaayoooongg! to the Universal Festival Calendar for December, 2008. The sound effect you have just heard is one of the words we experiment with now to describe that feeling of being upended by a wave of water, of having lost one's footing on the floor, or, more unnerving still, of feeling the floor drop from under our feet as the deepening Chaos brings forth all of our amazing inventiveness in both creating and solving problems, and our longing for some marker, some beacon or sound, that helps us feel we are headed in the right direction, which will bring us out on the other side of the difficulty we are in now.
We have come to the moment in our mythic story and heroic history for taking the Night Journey by Water, in the rite of passage we navigate by leaving what is known and loved for another country that is unknown and feared.
The two passengers in the boat, who are usually taken to be a Mother and Child, are dejected at having to leave the old shore. They are not at all excited by the journey ahead, and are not thinking of the brightest possible outcome of new, cohesive spiritual consciousness among all human and other conscious beings. The Night Journey by Water is not grim yet when it begins under the gray sky shown by Pamela Colman-Smith in the Six of Swords from the Rider Waite Tarot. The fearful part is in imagining what may come when the gathering darkness envelops us.

What can make the Night Journey by Water especially terrifying for many people is not only the absence of light, but the deepest Silence we have ever known as we hear no floating markers, no bells and no calls -- and we fear that we are completely alone in this journey when everyone else on the planet is, in fact, also going through it. We are not at all alone, but experiencing the fear that we are is a voyage that some of us will have to go through now.

Who are the figures in the boat? They may be the saddest Christmas shoppers in American history, as tens of millions of Americans will do much less holiday shopping than they've done all their lives, at stores they've known and loved for generations, but which are now about to become nostalgic memories, as retail companies all across America plan to close many of their stores by the New Year, or at the end of January. The Christmas shoppers who used to love buying presents at Eddie Bauer (closing 27 stores after Christmas, more after January), or the Gap (closing 85 stores), or Disney (closing 98 stores, more after January) or Sharper Image (closing all stores), or Macy's (closing 9 stores) or Circuit City (filed for Chapter 11 protection) know that they may be seeing for the last time their favorite Christmas places and people, the ones they've so enjoyed seeing again every December for 20 years, 40 years and more. The brave buyers get to spend so much less money this year, but they want to put it in the hands of the store people they love. The sales clerks, who know they won't have a job at this store a month from now, may find it hard to make eye contact with their old friends, for fear that one will start crying, and then both will.
What do the passengers in the boat think about as they glide and rock through a night of no light and no sound, to whatever is waiting on a far shore? Do they want to be the first ones to land at the brightly-lighted dock and marquee saying "You Made It! Congratulations! Free Home Loans and New Cars Here!"? Someone will. Or do they think to themselves that as of today, Dec. 1, it is 50 more days until America gets a new government? Do they ask if we have the luxury of waiting for 50 days to deal more intelligently and truthfully with the economy of the United States, and the whole world? Clearly, we don't have that kind of time. And no sooner do we finally realize this, than we find ourselves now on a boat going through a night no one knows how long, to a beach where anything could be waiting. It's scary, all right. Unless we see the world as Hildegard von Bingen did, and we imagine arriving in a world that looks like this:
As the Sun goes up high on the day the Night Journey ends, and we see the whole world well under the full light of day, we can first make out as we go toward the shore that there are people on the beach getting ready to roast vegetables on skewers over open fires. Beyond them, as we get closer, we can see people working in the fields, and making clothes and household things out of reeds and wood. We've arrived just in time for the people's Yule feast. In the fire circle for the winter solstice, the warriors, the farmers, mothers, teachers and dancers are getting ready to play the Return of the Light at the Winter Solstice. They will chant and dance and drum through the night, as they rejoice in the abundant blessings of their community and their home on Earth. Before they celebrate, they fuel at a light feast that tunes them in both heart and throat. They sing a blessing:
Our hands will work for peace and justice.
Our hands will work to heal the land.
Gather round the harvest tables.
Come in peace and bless the land.
If this isn't enough to scare the hell out of a new arrival, what in the world is? Imagine being in a place like the Winter Solstice festival of the Hawaii Fire Tribe. There are no church buildings to be seen anywhere. The people do ceremonies of embracing and loving strangers they've never met, and they even do the thing most human beings most fear to do. They sing. And if all of this were not freaky enough, the Yule ritual has an unimaginably weird new wrinkle now that many new arrivals in 2009 have brought their memories of Christmas with them, and want to celebrate it next time in a more Earth-friendly and "authentic" style.
The Christmas story has been as compelling as it is for so long because even for those who find the Christian religious paradigm unpalatable, if not toxic, there is still something to be said for the moment in which a weary world is lifted by tidings of great joy into a new time when human beings live as brothers and sisters in peace and good will, free to associate with and to love anyone. From 2009, the radical new twist in the Christmas ritual will be that we spend the hours just before midnight mostly just sitting quietly with our animals and eating a little or not at all, as Mary and Joseph must have done on the night Jesus was born. If they did not have enough money for a better inn and had to stay in a stable, they likely did not have a hamper of lamb kebabs, rice and okra with tomatoes. They probably had almost nothing to eat. So the most authentic thing to do between dinner and midnight on Dec. 24 - 25 is an evening of fasting and meditation with our animals, during which the Blessed Event comes. The Sun is reborn now in the days from the Winter Solstice, in whatever form he takes as his own incandescent star body, or as a human child who carries the divine frequencies into human form, or as a healthy, laughing boy carried into the circle in a wheelbarrow by clowns of the Sun dressed in orange and gold.
The days begin to get longer now as the year comes to rebirth, and it begins heading for the time of festivity and rejoicing in the spring, when the Moon rules the Summer Solstice, and the Green Man laughs again. So the always encouraging news is that the Winter Solstice itself, the very rebirth of light, comes right in the depth of our Night Journey by Water. It is easy to feel that the Sun isn't there at all now, as we enter the depth of the Night Journey later this month. The people who doubt the Sun now that they can't see him are fearful. But as we'll see, the Sun is always there, whether the human beings can sense him or not.
Right now the concept of Don't Worry! There's Summer Fun in '09! is a very hard order to sell. But the middle of next year really is a time of many joyous experiences. A happy 2009 is right on the money astrologically, and it's more money than we imagine ourselves having at the moment. Jupiter the King, the judicious ruler and party animal; Neptune the Actor, the creator of illusion and fantasy for the celebrating heart; and Chiron the world healer in a time of broader- based communal healing, all come into a magnificent Triple Conjunction from April through August 2009, and again from November 2009 to the top of January 2010. The spring and early summer of next year are a time of satisfaction at the goals that influential individuals and communities have attained, and celebrations of our energy and creativity. At least this is how it may be played by those who are proactive in seeking to bring about a New Country. More and more of them see 2009 as the Year of Preparation and Training for the challenges that come in the summer of 2010. These phases in the Chiron-Neptune Drama of 2008 - 2011 are listed in links below.
On this Night, though, the voyagers by boat who are crossing the waters of the heart in dead silence and pitch darkness are leaving everything behind: the house and the car, the TVs and the computers, the iPods and cell phones and all the other blinking, beeping things that have made life productive, or at least more bearable and amusing. As a few splinter groups from these people wander off from the main community and settle in other places in the years to come, their descendents will invent ritual dances in which they spin while holding their ancient mobile phones up to the sky, invoking the signals that once were there, and we pray will come again. It is a whole New World.
This grand master myth of the New Beginning, the Founding of Arcadia, has a comic trickster stream to it too. Some American retail stores, who plan to shut down some or all operations two months from now, are still selling gift cards and certificates for stuff that will not be there on the shelves in a week because the store you are standing in right now will no longer exist. It appears that there is no legal or ethical requirement that retail companies who are gaining money by the sale of gift cards to be redeemed at their stores, but are about to close their stores, must inform the buyer that the card has be used right away. The clerk is not obligated to tell you: Please use that card before Jan. 14, because this store is closing then. If you ask about this, the store staff must tell you the truth. They're just not obligated to warn you. This method of raising money is part and parcel of the rules of "Bankruptcy Planning," by which a company really can stuff itself with as much cash as it can grab under whatever terms, then hide behind Chapter 11 to avoid having to deliver the goods to buyers and repay creditors.
This is a classic, mythic trickster move, probably old hat for all grifters before Gilgamesh's grandfather was a kid [c. 2750 BC]. Some people never figure out the pitch, and they always get feasted on by those who flourish in times of profound change. The moment of a New Beginning is a field day for flamboyant performers like Hugo Chavez, for whom chaos is almost an artist's medium. The seven weeks from now, as the USA's gradually evaporating old regime yields to the coming of the confident new combination, have not even begun. It is not even Dec. 2, and already Chavez has welcomed Dmitri Medvedev of Russia for happy hugs and smiles, along with a Russian fleet who will soon be doing joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan Navy. Fidel Castro, the veteran Irritator, will in time seem a charming, nostalgic figure compared to Hugo the Tormentor in the eyes of those who are desperate to hold control even as the reins snap and the levers of power break off. And look: rules and alignments of power may be changing by the day now -- and here we are in a boat in the dead of night, being rowed along by a Boatman to whom we haven't yet been introduced, but who we hope knows where he or she is going. If only we had a way to get some news.
This is another thing that is hard to take about the Night Journey by Water. Those who used to watch over 4 1/2 hours of television a day, and got hours of electronic stimulation beyond that from music players and cell phones, are now cut off from media and propaganda for weeks at a time. Some of them will be beset by fearstorms, and so desperate to regain their bearings, that they will manufacture whatever blinker they need, even if it leads them astray. The recent Venezuelan vote, monitored by the Carter Center and other reputable election monitoring agencies, was a stunning, affirming victory for Chavez, his party and his program. His opponents gained a few "symbolic victories" like winning the mayor's race in Caracas, while Chavez's candidates took over 70% of the vote -- a lot bigger than a landslide in the mind of anyone except the American mainstream media, who've been nearly unanimous in declaring the result in Venezuela a "blow," even a "defeat" for Chavez. When the chaos gets darkest, people will cling most needfully to what they want to believe.
Even if it kills them. It is well known by now that US Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed recently during a speech when he first seemed to get stuck on a word or a phrase, then seemed to weave or shudder on his feet, then fell over. Mukasey was then surrounded by FBI agents for the 10 minutes that elapsed before a medical team came to treat and evacuate him. Naturally, we are curious about what he was saying when he suffered his stroke, or his seizure or other loss of consciousness. It started just as he was finishing this sentence: "And I am hopeful that some time from now, after the next Administration has had the chance to review the decisions made and the legal advice provided, it will acknowledge that despite any policy differences, the national security lawyers in this Administration acted professionally and in good faith and that the country was safer as a result." On the words "as a result," reports say, Mukasey began to repeat and mumble words, then swooned onto the floor.
What's one likely sign that you're too kind to have a satirist's temperament, while I certainly am not? I'll bet you didn't wonder as soon as you heard about Mukasey falling over during his speech whether this might be the beginning of yet another Aquarian trend: a flood of news stories about public figures who tell lies, then lose consciousness and collapse in mid-speech. I'll bet you didn't envision dozens, maybe hundreds, of nervous, sweaty men in suits going:
"The fundamentals of our economy are sound glork glubba glubba gluhh." Thud! he goes, and someone asks, Is there a lawyer -- ahhh -- a doctor in the house?
"The surge is working. The Iraqis want us there until 2012, and gyurrk gagabuuuh." Blump! he goes, and please, don't crowd around. Let him breathe! Medic!
"Privatized prisons holding millions of drug convicts are sustainable, and consistent with every American's rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happi -- gyuuhhgggh pah pub buh." Crash! And so on. Does this image, of dozens of public liars all slowly falling over like tall trees, have its appeal? Yes, absolutely. Its revenge value and sense of poetic justice can't be beat. But on the premise that Nietzsche was right in writing "Distrust those in whom the impulse to punish is powerful," it is best to move now from seeing trouble and imagining penalties for it to finding the way out of our Quandary.

The word -- thanks to Steven Rosenthal for the tip -- seems to have come into the English language from the Latin quando -- When? -- in the late 16th century, at about the time the British needed a new word to describe their agonizing new situation of not being able to do anything about the threat of the Spanish armada from the time when the first hints of a coming attack began until the galleons finally sailed in 1588. Just as the British knew a very difficult situation was coming, but did not know When, we are in the same boat now as we navigate the 50 days from this writing on Dec. 1 to the arrival of a new American government on Jan. 20, 2009. We know continued economic shocks and other sobering surprises will keep coming at us, but we don't know When. And we don't know When it will change for the better, or When it will end -- and the wait before we know seems, to some people, unbearable. So what can we do to help ease this suffering? What are the best ways to play the seven weeks of Quandary that are ahead of us?

First, by recognizing that as we do not have clear markers in physical and emotional space, we must understand the nuances of mythic time in which we live now. One of the important ones for this moment is the planet Pluto. On Nov. 27, he moved into the sign of Capricorn for a transformational tour that will run until early 2023. The main news here is that the cosmic principle of death and regeneration, the garbage disposal truck who hauls away the outworn and moribund, and brings the new (Pluto) is in the sign ruled by Saturn, the principle of authority, tradition, institutional procedures and conventional methods. So what must come now is a wholesale withering and blowing away of governmental, corporate and religious structures that are no longer vitalized by the faith and love of their people, and must now be replaced by others that do, in the workable, commonsense, practical terms of characters like Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and Stephen Hawking, all of them Capricorns who tended to be much more interested in designing a better stove or lens that gets the job done than in dwelling on any ideology or dogma about what the stove should burn, or the lens should see.

The inevitable energy flow of this Year of the Rat is coming to its climax, as the urgent issues of food and water that became more evident to us at the top of 2008 have by now turned critical. In the months from now to Jan. 26, 2009, when the next Year of the Ox comes, our focus naturally goes to guidance in sustainable Earth-based living. Like Hugh Newman's lessons on Stone-Age Survival through a knowledge of Earth energies, crop circles and secrets of the stones. And James Howard Kunstler's "Zombie Economics" (Nov. 27), which asks "what kind of economy are we going to live in if the old one is toast? . . . [I]t will have to be based on activities productively aimed at keeping human beings alive in an ecology that has a future. Once you grasp this, you will see that there is no reason to despair and more than enough for all of us to do, so we can recover from the zombie nation disease and get on with the next chapter of American history . . . To be specific about this new economy, we're going to have to make things again, and raise things out of the earth, locally, and trade these things for money of some kind that we earn through our own productive activities. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is optional. The only other option is to go through a violent sociopolitical convulsion. We ought to know from prior examples in world history that this is not a desirable experience. So, to avoid that, we really have to put our shoulders to the wheel and get to work on things that matter, and do it at a scale that is consistent with what the world really has to offer right now, especially in terms of available energy."

Another useful tip for the rest of the Night Journey comes from the Galactic Creation Cycle devised by Swedish Mayanist Carl Johan Calleman. Whether his elaborate design of 13 tun cycles leading to October, 2011 is really "the Mayan Calendar" as some people claim, or it is not -- and there is no consensus of endorsement about this from Mayan daykeepers -- the fact remains that Calleman's forecasts have proved increasingly prescient for the ten tun periods (each 360 days) that have elapsed from the first "day" of his cycle on Jan. 5, 1999 until the end a few days ago of the "Fifth Night." His prognosis, that the Fifth Night of 2008 would see economic upheavals and a shift of the financial center of gravity from west to east, has made his newest comments eagerly awaited. Now that we have entered a new 11th tun in Calleman's system since last month, he expects that in the Sixth Day (Nov. 13, 2008 - Nov. 8, 2009), many will "break away from hierarchical control and guided by their intuition find a path towards increased wholeness. This is when the hierarchies will really start to break down, probably largely in a chaotic way. Yet, this is exactly the kind of chaos that is needed for the recreation of an Enlightened world." In "The Shift from Chaos to the Enlightened world," Calleman writes that "the enlightened world can only emerge out of a series of transformative pulses, including periods of destruction . . . The paradox to understand is that the very process that seems to break down the world economy and political dominance is also the one that paves the way for Enlightenment."
What else to do between now and Jan. 20? Get proactive at the local level, like the people of Greenland, who have just voted to become a sovereign nation, deciding in a referendum to begin a process that will end with complete political and economic independence from Denmark. The overriding issue for the Greenlanders was a desire to gain control of their country's abundant Arctic resources. They have a good chance to survive and to prosper, as they are already operating in nature's tempo, which responds at once to opportunities at heart speed rather than head speed.
What else? Welcome the arrival of Barack Obama. His election is only the first step in a journey of a thousand miles, but it is the essential step, and it is encouraging that it was taken so confidently by such a huge number of newly-empowered people. There will be more to say soon about this unmistakeable man of destiny and the many resonances among his birth chart, the Chiron-Neptune Conjunction of 2008 - 2012, and the Scorpionic America chart that is the true birth design of the United States. His Astrocartograph for South America will be worth exploring when the time comes, especially Obama's whole electrical system of planetary lines going through Venezuela. For now, all that needs to be said is what the people say in Arabic here in Sinai. Obama, al hamdu li'llah. Obama, thanks be to God.
What else? Remember that in the I Ching's climactic hexagram After Completion, water is over fire . . . for now. But it cannot stay there for long. Soon either the water puts out the fire, or the fire evaporates the water away. Or -- the two reach an accommodation, so plenty of water keeps flowing where it wants to go, and just enough fire keeps burning to sustain the elements in balance. Right now, in the middle of our Night Journey, it looks like all water all the time. When we are in Chaos, which is always dark and fluid, we can't see the fire at all and we may forget that it's still there. But look again at Hildegard's mandala of the world, as we saw it above. We may not be able to see the ring of fire that blazes beyond the darkness of the sea. But that does not mean that the fire has gone out. The Sun is always there. And so is our own light, whether we are aware of it or not. It has been invited to display itself this evening, in fact, Dec. 1, as the Moon joins Venus and Jupiter in a triple conjunction that has been known to coincide with celebration, laughter and pleasure. You'll see the two planets in the west now and for a few days more. Venus, the brighter one, does not seem to have overtaken Jupiter yet, but the two planets are in the same degree of the zodiac wheel, and it is time to spread some love and celebrate. For the Maya, Venus was Quetzalcoatl, Lord of Light, whose coming into combination with another planet was always a momentous event, this time a happy one.
When does the Night Journey end, and when do we get out of the Quandary? The beach usually starts to get visible not long after we've stopped disliking and fearing the darkness, and we've decided instead to tap its creative possibilities. The deeper and darker the Chaos gets, the more certain that when the Light comes again, it will be more radiant, causing life to grow in new places.
When the sky looks the way it does in the Six of Swords card above, writes Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov, "The sky is grey … You would very much like to receive the warmth and light of the sun, but it’s impossible. You have to wait for the clouds to go away, and while you are waiting you have the impression the sun has abandoned you. Not at all; it’s just that you are below the clouds. Take a plane so you can rise above the clouds: nothing can intervene between you and the sun anymore; it’s there, and it’s shining non-stop. If you feel abandoned inside, it proves you’ve come down too far below the clouds, and once you’ve done that, of course, there’s always a screen depriving you of the benefits of the spiritual sun. Well then, since the feeling of being or not being abandoned depends on you, why not change your state of consciousness? Why remain in such a low place, where every minute of every day a screen intercepts the light? Who is preventing you from climbing up to receive the sun’s blessings?"
Who indeed? And how to climb up to receive the sun's blessings? Two possible ways: celebrate the Winter Solstice feasts that are sacred to the Sun, most immediately the December feast of light that comes at Yule, Hanukkah, the birth of Mithras and many other solar deities, and the birthday of Jesus at Christmas. One worldwide sound ceremony in which hundreds of crystal bowl groups participate is the Global Harmonization coordinated by Circle of Sound, in which people join to play on the bowls and hold in meditation the intentions of Acceptance, Compassion, Peace, Unity and Love.
The other way for now? Keep climbing, and sing while you do it. Excellent for the lungs and, surprisingly, for one's balance. Keep Holding that Frequency.

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The Chiron - Neptune Conjunction of 2009 - 2012:
Prelude: The American Election of November 4, 2008
Prelude Supplement: And the Winner Is . . .
Act 1: Conflicts: The Neptune Return of April 11, 2009
Act 2: Complications: The Triple Chiron-Neptune-Jupiter Conjunction of May-August, 2009
Act 3: Turning Point: The Exact Chiron-Neptune Conjunction of Feb. 16 - 17, 2010
Act 4: Crisis and Climax: The Crosses of Summer, 2010
Act 5: Denouement: The Near Chiron-Neptune Conjunction of Nov. 2 - 3, 2010
2012: The End of What?

Copyright 2007 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.