May, 2009


Mythic Prelude:

Plant Teachers

Yow! a couple of people on our planet have been wondering in the first week of May 2009. Is the Universal Festival Calendar now stuck in Egypt time, and is that why, for the first time, it now comes out a full week late?
Not really. It just seems to happen to almost everyone who leaves Egypt after several years here that our last few days don't wind down. They wind up, as our desire to wrap routine matters up fast triggers that ever-present Cairo Counterintention, and makes them take much longer. So perdone, as they say in Spanish. It hasn't been possible to wish you Happy Beltaine, as the UFC normally does at the top of May, or even say Feliz Cinco de Mayo on May 5. I write this from Istanbul, in transition from five years in Egypt to what could be as many years, or more, in South America.
Why make the move now? Because, as you know if you like to read these pages more than just now and then, many of us are convinced that the time to bring about the life changes we intend is now. This is why so many people are changing jobs and locations, and so many relationships are dissolving. Whether we understand the celestial dynamics of the time, or we're acting on a gut impulse or intuition to make our move, it is getting clearer and clearer that well before the momentous, transformative Summer of 2010, we'd best be doing what we want to do, in places where we want to be, in the intimate and communal relationships that will sustain us in the years to come, and will in turn require from us the most loving, brave and passionate energies we've got.
Besides, making the move this month gives us a chance to ride the powerful momentum of the celestial spectacle that has been heralded on these pages for almost a year. The eagerly awaited Triple Conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune continues to build and brew its possibilities until it comes into exact alignment on May 27.
If you want to skip the brief astrology material that follows here, scroll down to Why Peru?
There are so many pages on this site about the Chiron-Neptune dynamic of the years from now to 2011 (see links below), and about Jupiter's bravura turn within it this year, that only one point needs clarifying in the interest of balancing the almost addictive optimism that makes Hermes 3 inspiring to those who dream and intend our best possibilities, inane to those who believe we can never transcend the dark, corrupt limits of "human nature."
Conjunctions are the most intense and complex of planetary alignments. Some planet pairs have better basic compatibility than others; when Jupiter's fire and Neptune's water try to occupy the same space, the result can be enough steam to heat a zillion flats, or just make a huge hot fog that leaves everything drippier, but otherwise the same, when it lifts at last. The entire range of possibilities in the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune trifecta, in effect from now to July and again in the last months of 2009, is like a three-ring circus. Spiraling delicately in purple and white, there in the Magic Ring, are the most positive, true, enriching alliances of honest, efficient governance and finance (Jupiter), holistic, communal healing (Chiron) and inclusive, compassionate spirituality (Neptune), all linked in the altruistic, revolutionary celebration of Aquarius. Over in the Dream Ring, weaving around in gray and yellow, are the most negative, fake and toxic cocktails of bloated extravagance (Jupiter), woundedness and victimhood (Chiron) and glamourous, delusive fraud (Neptune) that have ever flashed and floated in the glittering mirror ball of Aquarius.
In the center ring, all the possibilities, from the best to the bleariest, are happening at once. And naturally, at a time when the scams and excuses that are no longer sustainable are all fighting for survival, we have been treated so far this spring to every species of fakery that Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune can craft when they meet in a state of fear rather than trust. Thus, at a time when governments are pretending to attempt but are really resisting useful remedies (Jupiter vs. Chiron) to a financial crisis caused by irresponsible speculation and chicanery (Jupiter vs. Neptune); and the American government remains unable to get the Federal Reserve to disclose who got how much money in the bank bailout debacle (more Jupiter vs. Neptune), our attention is forcefully seized by a deadly new flu virus. In Egypt, where there have been no signs at all of Swine Flu, President Hosni Mubarak makes the stunningly bozotic move of having every pig in the country killed (Jupiter vs. Chiron), and orders his ministry of information to spin a tale (Chiron vs. Neptune) of how the pigs are being "culled," not wiped out. And elsewhere, controversies erupt about why the pandemic must not be called Mexican Flu (that's insulting to Mexico) or Swine Flu (because Israelis object). It should maybe be called the No Clue Flu for human beings who are devoting much more time and care to arguing about the name of the virus than they are to stopping it from killing us. This is how it gets when the healer (Chiron) is squeezed to exhaustion between religious law (Neptune) on one side and political pressure and control (Jupiter) on the other.
As of May 6, the apparent pandemic seemed already to be abating. It is possible now that we can begin to reverse the negative-until-now trend of this month's great planet alignment, and begin to tap its best possibilities. How best to find and play the marvelous opportunities hidden within all the endless toys, tricks and diversions that the Spider uses to keep the ever-hungry and hopeful baby wide-eyed and waiting for more? A few prescriptions will come later.
How important is this month's very rare planet alignment? It's all relative. Most people will not see it, and will keep wondering when the economy will recover and why so many love unions are straining and breaking. Some will play it consciously, tapping their unexplored depths of empathy and creativity. Some will attach such importance to this moment in Earth's medicine theatre that they will time life-changing moves by it.
I will. On May 25, I'll arrive in Cusco two days before Jupiter conjoins Neptune, with the intention of staying in Peru for three years or more, perhaps through the end of 2012.
Why Peru?
For all the compelling reasons a Virgo can list, not least the practical point that Llewellyn Worldwide will publish my book Dance of the Moon in July. A month later Llewellyn's Sabbats Annual 2009, to which I'm one of the contributors, will be on the shelves. For one who intends a book-signing tour in late 2009, Peru is a much better base than the Middle East. Other factors make it, at least for me, the best possible place to be now.
Like Egypt, Peru and Tihuanaco in Bolivia have mysterious sacred sites so ancient that one proverb says even the gods have forgotten how old the Cyclopean walls of Sacsayhuaman are. Like the monuments of Giza, Abydos and Baalbek, the Peruvian holy places defy our understanding, and invite us to approach them in a spirit of surrender and acceptance.
Like Egypt, Peru has a tradition of shamanic sound healing practice done with the voice and with entrancing instruments like the Peruvian whistling bottles. Sound -- for one's own practice, for ceremony, for festival -- seems to carry beautifully when one is in pure silence, 11,000 feet up in the Andes.
Like the ancient Khemitian civilization, the Inca too thought of their main sacred site as the axis mundi, the central pole of alignment between Sun and Earth. The Giza pyramids have been shown to be in the exact center of our planet's land masses; the original name of Cusco in the Quechua language was Qosqo, meaning "navel" or "centre." This is why for many centuries, the Inca celebrated, on June 24 at Sacsayhuaman, the great annual Sun Festival of Ind Raymi that their descendants shown here still enact today.
Is it even remotely conceivable, anywhere within a light year of a chance, that a ceremony like this, with dancers and other celebrants costumed as the neters and the sesh -- the "gods" and the people -- of the ancient Khemitian civilization could be held today at one of the Nile's great sacred sites, free of interference by religious authorities and the all-pervasive control of that publicity-obsessed Paris Hilton of Egyptologists, Zahi Hawass? None whatsoever. Yet in Peru, and for that matter in other parts of South America as well, the sacred mysteries of the past are not only very much alive, but are free to flourish in the light of the Sun. While the rites of Isis are still alive in Egypt, they survive mainly in the chants and symbols of moulid folk festivals and in the secret activities of believers who identify themselves to one other with glances and code words, and offer fellow devotees the kind of assistance that comes, as we'll soon see, to those who are determined to sing to the The Lady the praise that is her due.
Another point for Peru is in this astrocartograph. The yellow Sun and green Chiron lines near Cusco, both pointing left to the Ascendant, mark this as a place that favors emergence, and the projecting of intentions for individual health and creative success, and communal and planetary healing. Near Piura in the northwest corner, where the blue Jupiter line -- on the Ascendant again -- crosses the purple Uranus line, is the "extraordinary good luck zone" in this map, where the time lag between intention and realization may shrink to almost nothing, so that miracles can seem to occur. Is moving to Peru an unfastened gamble, as I've never been there and speak only a little Spanish?
Perhaps. But put yourself por uno momento en zapatos mios. Figure that you know for a fact, as I do, that your astrocartograph has been absolutely on the money for all five of the places where you've lived for five years or more. And you also knew that the place shown here is "your most exciting place to be," according to astrocartography pioneer Jim Lewis, where "you are blessed by unusual good fortune . . . daring ideas work, genius manifests" and -- amazingly for a Virgo -- you "learn to think on a broad scale . . . inventing your own idea of universal purpose." Considering the matter in these terms, and assuming that the time for action is now, in 2009, which choice would be crazier: going there before one is muy fuerte en Espanol and otherwise perfectly ready, or not going there at all?
The move is not really so unusual or daring. Many people have already headed to South America, including one of my friends from Dahab. Some people even say that Peru, and Cusco in particular, is the place to be in 2012. If this happens, and Sacsayhuaman winds up crawling with metaphysical touts and people claiming to channel Manco Capac, then it will be time to head somewhere else. The Lady of the Forest will say where, just as the Lady of the River did when I was in Egypt.
For those who want to work as bravely and play as joyously as we can toward the liberating of our planet and our people into a new time of spiritual awakening, sustainable economy and communal embracing, the advantage of South America gets more evident with each passing year. At a time when most of the "developed" world is fighting tooth and nail to save the unsaveable and preserve dying political and financial institutions, it is clear that some of South America, at least, is doing what it can, as fast and as passionately as it can, to invent a present and future that will free and empower its people, and bring them into new synergies that were once unthinkable, but are surging and emerging now. Some of South America is getting comfortable with chaos, understanding well the principle of emergence that brings forth new possibilities when we focus less on what we don't want to lose and think we can stop or control, and spend more effort in visioning what we can gain together.
Yes, it is obvious that South America's new leaders are hardly the gray, prudent, predictable politicians who make men in pinstripes croon and purr. Hugo Chavez in particular seems a composite of Ralph Kramden, the miles gloriosus (braggart soldier) of the commedia dell' arte, and a kind of ebullient Mark Antony in a paratrooper's jumpsuit. Yet he has refused to be corrupted by economic hitmen, has survived the jackal assassins and a US-backed coup, and his party won a huge victory, with some 70% of the vote, in Venezuela's latest election. His Ecuadorean colleague Rafael Correa won re-election a few days ago with a 52% majority in a field of nine candidates; and in Bolivia, Evo Morales represents the once-unthinkable: a national president of indigenous rather than Spanish ancestry. Time will tell whether any or all of these men will be unspoiled by power and celebrity, but for now the likeliest bet is that there are simple, practical reasons why they're enjoying widespread support, and stunning results in elections that have been verified as clean by the Carter Center and other observers.
It's very dangerous, disturbing stuff. Empower people, give them a chance to participate in the broader-based initiatives of politics that is actively communal rather than passively classist, free them from feudal hacenderos, northern imperialists and the predatory grasp of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, give them higher standard of housing and health, and a chance to get a job instead of a beating if they dare to become literate, and who knows what new outrages may ensue? They may even pass legislation as unimaginable as Bolivia's Resolution 219 (March 30), which states that "native animal and plant species are considered to be [the country's] natural heritage . . . the State must use appropriate measures to maintain, use and develop them. The state will protect all genetic and microorganism resources within the ecosystems . . ."
The Queen of the Forest
The operative word here is all, as in the revolutionary concept that every single living species has the right to live and be protected, and be freed from genocidal activity on the part of the State, its institutions and agents of foreign influence. Imagine. After four decades of the US War on Plants -- uhhh, oops, War on Drugs -- after billions of dollars in bribes and poisons have been poured onto the coca plant in particular, with no tangible result beyond the lavish enrichment of murderous cocaine cartels, Bolivia has gone where other nations in South America may go also, to affirming that no human person or agency has the right to eradicate what grows abundant on what looks like God's Green Earth to some, and the domain of La Reina de Silva to others.
"Eventually," wrote Terence McKenna, "the right to determine our own food and drug preferences will be seen as a natural consequence of human dignity, as long as it is done in a way that does not limit the rights of others. " Such self-determination could even include exploring such mindscapes as this ayahuasca-inspired art by Pablo Ameringo. We could even be close to solving the question of whether plant teachers who help to trigger images such as these are hallucinogenic, creating images that are really
not there, or psychedelic: that is, expanding the mind and opening the doors of perception so that we can see what is normally invisible to us when the intellect is attempting to act as the self-appointed police force of our consciousness. Either the beings we see here are the products of a very vivid imagination -- or ethnobotanist Morgan Brent may be right in saying that the Amazonian jungle, with its abundance of plant teachers, is "the ultimate night club," offering realms of experience that are no less true for having been, until now, beyond our imagining.
The Egyptians had much of this nailed, as "opening the doors of the horizon" was no mere metaphor for action in physical space, but had to do rather with crossing into new domains of consciousness. The plant teachers who assisted with this process are well-known, even if Egyptologists have yet to hoist aboard the irrefutable evidence collected by forensic chemist Svetlana Balabanova in 1992. In the eleven Egyptian mummies she tested, she found nicotine in all of them, cocaine in eight and hashish in ten -- enough to indicate that not only was there very ancient contact between the Americas and Egypt, but also, long before Cleopatra was acquainted with opium, Egyptians may have been using Indian hemp for something more than rope.
Take Seshat, the Mistress of Numbers, one of the two netert (along with Ma'at) who were said to be the consort of Thoth. The mysterious emblem atop her head is not a star, as Egyptians always drew them with five points. If it's a flower, then we wonder what kind, as the ancient Nile artists were
exact in their rendering of plant and animal forms. But -- imagine that this seven-pointed shape is a stylized version of the well-known leaf pattern shown at right, and it all makes perfect sense that the Lady of "hidden things" or "mysteries" -- the meaning of sesheta -- would have a cannabis stalk emerging from her crown chakra.
So all honor to the Numberer, and all the other emanations of the Lady of the River and the Star of the Sea, and honor too to those who are brave in their devotion to her, like these men.
They helped and protected me when I went to make my last offerings for now at the Temple of Isis in Philae. Thanks to Ahmed (R). He intercepted the guards who tried to stop me from singing the Nefer Aseti (Beauty of Isis) chant in her mammisi or birth chapel, and kept the armed men well stroked and distracted until the sacred melody was properly sounded and done. Thanks to Mohamed (C), who guided me to a Thoth chapel I had not found before, gave me some of his own incense and diverted the tourists until my meditation was done.
Thanks to his father Mahmoud too. He may have been just that third man who shows up to get baksheesh when two others are receiving theirs. Or he may have helped me more powerfully than the two others, in ways that I couldn't see. There are days when one never knows, and it seems best to be generous, especially with servants of Isis who are subtle in their manner, and work more effects than their words and moves give away. Blessings to all three and all others in Egypt who helped me Hold That Frequency.

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The Chiron - Neptune Conjunction of 2009 - 2012:
For Prelude (November, 2008) and Act 1 (April, 2009), see UFC Index
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
Copyright 2009 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.