Mythic Prelude:

The Price of Poker

Welcome to September 2006, and the 99th issue of the Universal Festival Calendar. As you know if you read the UFC prelude last month, the top of September is still in the strongest energy current of the Saturn-Neptune Opposition that was our topic a month ago, and that was exact on August 31. This month, again, our focus will be on astrology as well as on mythic matters, as the celestial dynamics of the months from August through November are crucial to the unfolding -- and our understanding -- of the 9-month birth cycle that spans August 2006 through April 2007. This gestation period, as we enter its second month now, is arguably as important to our soul evolution as the one that came almost exactly seven years ago, from August 1999 through the top of May, 2000.
So to those who'd rather read more about myth and a lot less about astrology -- there is, as Samuel Beckett put it, nothing to be done. We read and write about what is happening, and in the late months of 2006, the zodiac is one happening arena, with extraordinary alignments that come each month, and that have, as we shall see, a trend that resembles the dramatic build of a play. We started last month with Conflict, in the form of a planetary Opposition. This month we move to the Complications, in the form of the Weird Misunderstandings and Silly Risks that amp and squeeze the comedy. The plot will thicken and start to thunder, to put it mildly, next month and in November. We'll look at the astrology below, marked at the top and tail with Astrology Alert! rubrics for those who'd prefer to skip the angles and get to the heart load. The bottom line in all the star analysis is that in practical terms that we can feel and grasp, this current cycle of events will be rapid, overt and immediate, as long-overdue changes take shape, take wing, take bag, take pipe, take a dive, take a left and take a hit. So, as the month's main metaphor is games of chance, the show opens with the man who carries the golden hunger and the long odds as though he owns them. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Frank Sinatra.
Yes, that's right, folks. Old Blue Eyes has just walked into the casino, and he looks like a million bucks. He loves to do the same thing here that he does when he goes to 21 in New York. The minute he walks in the joint, they can see he is a man of distinction, and in seconds all the waiters know that Mr. Sinatra is here. They all line up behind the maitre d' to make a receiving line. Frank greets everyone in it by name, and gives him a $100 bill that he peels off a wad that looks as big as a cabbage. The sparkle in the room has just gone zoom, and everyone shines. Frank is, after all, ruled by Jupiter, and has those Sagittarius qualities: a comfort with and enjoyment of power, an ease with people of wealth -- and just look at the rest, as he jokes with Walter the sommelier in those lithe, impeccable pants. It's true what they say about Frank's pants: how from the moment the show begins until it's over and he's gone, he never sits down, even in his dressing room on breaks. That way those black silk stripes on his pants never get even a tiny wrinkle, so they're like black mirrors, and the creases stay so perfect they look like they could cut silk in mid-air. Look how he moves: the confident, regal stride, the magnanimity and generosity, and his excellent good humor as he's on his way to yet another swinging good time, with good food, good booze, good sex, good everything, the whole domain.
Why does it matter that Frank Sinatra would be excellent casting for Jupiter this month? Because, whether he really did it in life or just played it well, he was always a lucky gambler. He had fun, in money and love, with risks that can pay off big when one is lucky, and ache deep and long when one is not. Frank liked big gains and kept his losses low, except with Ava. He was never a gambling addict, or dumb enough to place the big bets when the odds were slim. We are going to see this month the kind of action that was generous enough for Frank to like most, though he never made a big deal of it. There were times when he'd get in the game, and times when he didn't buck the house, but helped out those who did, and got hit hard. Frank knew, secretly but well, one of the ideal Jupiter scenarios: solving problems so wisely and calmly that nothing seems to have happened at all, and everyone ends up happier and better friends than they'd been before. If we're lucky.
It will be exciting to see what happens to Frank this month because in late September, most of all the days from the Fall Equinox on the 21st through the 24th, the price of poker goes way up. And the odds get a lot longer because -- Astrology Alert! -- from Sept. 8, just as Saturn begins to move out of the "harmonious tension" of his 180° opposition to Neptune, Jupiter in mid-Scorpio moves into the disharmonious tension of a 90° square with Neptune. Neither of these hard-shouldered passes is likely to be the fizziest entertainment we've ever had. They will both stoke the sublime opportunity for change that the coming months offer us, though it is likely that the last week of this month, and next, will be misperceived as difficult, conflictive or crazy by some people, usually the ones so deeply stuck in expectations that still are not working that they can't see how radically the game has changed.
Before we scope out the house rules, a note about what is really in effect now, and what is not. An astrologer here and there will likely consider Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune to be related in a T-square -- that is, an opposition with a third planet between the other two, 90° from both -- but the "orb" of exactitude is too wide, over 3°, so a true, powerful T-cross does not form among these planets. Just wait, though. There is another T-cross in this month's chart; and there will be both a grand cross and a T-cross in the chart we explore next month, when Jupiter moves out of square with Neptune and squares Saturn on Oct. 25. While the action will likely be hotter and heavier in October than it is this month, September is not just a sandbagger. If anything, he's ready to bet the ranch, and he's chosen one dramatic moment to start moving the blue and yellow chips.
The climax of the Jupiter-Neptune square, on Sept. 24, in fact caps a very serendipitous week, as major astral events and solemn sacred feasts all cluster within a few days. The Fall Equinox (Sept. 21) is followed almost at once by the New Moon in Libra, this time with an annular solar eclipse visible in the southern Atlantic from South America to west Africa. Then the Muslim month of Ramadan, the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and India's great autumn Navaratri all begin on the 23rd. And, in what may be the most wonderful serendipity of all, the feast of Obatala, orisha of justice, order and peace, falls on the 24th, the same day that Jupiter -- the Greek principle of justice, order and a hearty good time -- is feeling anything but magisterial, and wishes he could not only keep his brother Neptune well outside his velvet rope and red carpet, but hook him on the gold chain Homer says Zeus has, and swing him to somewhere between Belize and Bithynia, more than a couple of time zones away from here.
But it's not to be, not this time. For the whole month of Sept. 8 to Oct. 8, Jupiter, the lord of religious authority and civil order, is determined to play chicken on a galaxy-class dragstrip with Neptune, the planet of mysticism, compassion, deception, illusion, theatre and dance. Both are so caught in their importance, and their lust to dare and do what they damn well want, that the usual restraints of law and custom, modesty and common sense all drop away, all bets are off, and there's no telling what impact their ego flexes will have. This is a moment when Jupiter's native optimism and joie de vivre can be lured into risky business by the Sirens' song, with predictable results in catastrophic losses from foolish moves. We will not get more detailed about this than a Virgo author (Sept. 14) has to be, though it's likely that the roulette Jupiter and Saturn are about to play on the zodiac wheel will matter a lot more to us than whether a hall full of astronomers thinks Pluto is really a planet. One sign that the big, serious questions are coming due is that human beings busy themselves with the little, silly ones, or gather like Constantine's bishops at Nicea to disagree for the gallery, then deliver as one the conclusions that the emperor wants.
What kind of practical effect will this Jupiter-Neptune square have? It's likely to be about the money. The key principle of any Jupiter-Neptune combination is speculation: that is, a decision or project based on uncertain conditions and imperfect knowledge, or a risky investment that could come up emeralds and roses, or turn your bank account into a pinata. When Jupiter and Neptune are well-aligned, the odds are good; a Jupiter-Neptune trine is in fact one of the "windfall" aspects in which speculations are lucky and gains come without effort. In a Jupiter-Neptune square, however, gambles go south. Get-rich-quick schemes flicker and sting. Philanderers get caught. This is relevant because Jupiter is not only the patron planet of unfaithful husbands, but is too quick-natured and spontaneous to be a believable liar, so that when his robe is down and the jig is up, he will try any desperate, dopey excuse. Like this beauty: the wife of the notorious bounder Kirby Higbe, the Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher of the 1930's, surprised her husband in bed with another woman one afternoon. Higbe jumped out of the bed, ran out of the room and down the stairs, then looked back up at his wife and yelled, "It wasn't me!" We are likely to hear this line a lot in late September, as those who have crafted or bumbled into the dumbest new disasters all find their ways to say, It Wasn't Me. Are such people likely to maintain poker faces when they need them? It's your bet.
So in honor of Kirby Higbe and the Dodgers, and Brooklyn, but more because Wall Street is the seat of speculation in the U. S. economy and the epicenter of boom and bust in history's rolling game of chemin de fer, our picture of this month's Jupiter-Neptune square is cast for the moment when the square reaches exactitude in New York, New York:
This certainly is a chart in which those little town blues seem to be melting away. If, as some astrologers say, the top half of the chart is the spiritual and the lower half is the physical, then the opportunity that this month presents for world-moving spiritual entertainment is very high. Four empty houses at the bottom of the chart imply that early autumn in New York will either be free of material obsessions, or will not be notably grounded. Sun, Mars and Venus in the 7th house of marriage and partnerships suggest that much of our focus on and around the 24th will be on building and rebuilding relationships. How easy or tough will this be? First the most encouraging news: the Moon and Mercury in Libra, and Jupiter in Scorpio, are all in the 8th house of death, transformation and other people's money, suggesting that changes that begin or increase in the last quarter of September will be well-managed with a compassion that is often slow to arouse in human beings, but is on hand this month.
The less comical news is the T-cross in this chart: not the alleged one with Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune, but the close and acute one that really does form as Venus in Virgo conjunct the Moon's South Node (Dragon's Tail) in the 7th house, and the North Node (Dragon's Head) in Pisces in the 1st house, all square Pluto in Sagittarius in the 10th, at a tight, tense orb of a little over 1°. The likely story here is that mass movements will continue to grow and large public meetings and demonstrations will be held through this month, culminating on the 24th. We have a very valuable opportunity to get rid of old, unworkable ideas and practices -- and handle as it comes the nostalgia for old habits that have are about to leave the building for the last time. Never in our lifetimes has the room been so full of people folding their arms and raising their voices against what they don't want to hear -- and never has the luck been better for agreements on viable, sustainable plans and arrangements that can replace the unsustainable crimes and follies we have now.
The numbers in this chart are relatively simple: there are two "favorable" 120° trines, between the Libra Moon in the 8th house and the Aquarius ascendant; and between Mercury in Libra in the 8th house and Neptune in Aquarius in the 12th. All of this brings a time when the feminine influence on hearts and actions is strong, and wise women can be well heard, and also when our intuition and sympathy, our spiritual understanding of the soul cords that connect and resonate among us all, are very keen. We are well placed to see with uncommon clarity what is happening now, and what is coming. If all our cards were this high and harmonious, we'd be holding a pat hand and trying to look calm. But the kicker, the down card that isn't matching anything else and seems determined not to, is in the T-square among Venus, Pluto and the Moon's Nodes, and the square between Uranus in Pisces in the 1st house, and the Sagittarius Midheaven. These can help us understand what kinds of long, loopy risks are in that Jupiter-Neptune square, and how much the blindest, most vainglorious players are likely to lose for themselves and others.
Friction between Venus and Pluto usually manifests as compulsion, a helpless urge -- in the brain and the fancy, as well as in the glands -- to get at any speed, hold in high heat and keep at all costs whatever lover, peak or prize one throbs to have. Friction between Venus and the Nodes entails an unwillingness, even a petulant refusal, to agree with or adapt to others. Friction between Uranus and the Midheaven ups the percentages that favor hasty, impulsive moves that cost a ton. Friction between Pluto and the Nodes takes the preening, pouting meanness of the mistke-prone moment from the bedroom, the green room and the board room to a world tour as whole nations and alliances harden positions, refuse to see the other's point of view and adopt as the posture of the time the less than helpful response -- when there actually is a response -- that if you don't know what's wrong, I'm not going to tell you. This stress between Pluto and the Nodes is usually felt as the weariness of obligations and associations that are burdensome at best, heart-killing and tragic at worst, and could hardly come at a heavier time, when so many feel that work, relationships and community, even life itself, are like a failed romance: the time of passion, zest and joy is over, the thrill is gone, and all that remains is the grind of duty until one loses the fear of breaking habit or being alone, and accepts or actively moves to the moment of parting. Yes, we know this gloom and anxiety will pass. Yes, we know that as inevitable changes come, those who are most bent on holding on to what they think they have will dig in and fight tooth, nail and buckshot against the new ways that so many see as wiser and better. Astrology Alert Over!
The more this goes on, and the more reckless the most assertive players get -- as it's no fun holding a big hand unless somebody else at the table is willing to call your bet -- the harder it can be for most human beings to feel that they are powerful enough to do or affect anything. And the more we are inclined to doubt that the light can prevail against the darkness, when the reality is that the dark forces are not stronger, just better organized. And the easier it is to wonder whether God is really Dagwood Bumstead: decent and well-meaning, without a mean feather in His being, but usually asleep: in his bed, on his sofa, at his desk, or in the backseat of the carpool vehicle that he rides to and from work, but never seems to drive. It is no wonder that so many question which team God likes, or whether He/She/They is even in the ballpark. Never has the Egyptian proverb been so relevant: The one who is angry at God is more devoted than the one who loves God, because the one who is angry at God is thinking about God all the time.
"In the end," as Thomas Merton wrote, "the contemplative suffers the anguish of realizing that he no longer knows what God is" -- Merton's point being that the moment one sees that God is not a "what" or a "thing" but a "Who," the soul becomesmore aware of its own "personal and inalienable voice," and its responsibilities in relation to the ultimate I Am.
Including its responsibility for using time, and seeing clearly what can and cannot be done in whatever time and occasion the moment brings. The Cloud of Unknowing, the anonymous 14th-century "book of privy counseling," has this to say about whether one can afford to believe that nothing is possible, and effort is pointless: "And so take good care of time and how you spend it, for nothing is more precious than time. In one little time, however little it is, heaven may be won and lost. A sign that time is precious, is that God, the giver of time, never gives two times together, but always one time after another. And he does this because he does not wish to reverse the order or regular course of causes in his creation. For time is made for man, not man for time. In his disposition of time, therefore, God, the ruler of nature, will not diverge from the natural movement of the human soul, which consists of just one stirring at a time. Thus, we shall not be able to claim forgiveness of God at the Last Judgment, when we are called to give account of the spending of time, by saying, 'You gave two times at once, and I have only one stirring of soul at a time."
There will be no last judgment, of course, and no separation, and no hell. And those who are here in and after 2012 are likely to have a new perception of time as something that is neither singular nor linear, but multiple and circular, shaped like either a tube or a spiral scroll, depending on what one wants and believes. And in the end we may be far more accountable to the Universal Soul, and the choices we made before we came here, than to any fantasy about "God" as a being different and separate from ourselves. We chose to he here, and our only real option is whether we are going to play as bravely and resourcefully as we can the hand that we dealt ourselves. How to play it? For openers, by choosing the most like-hearted table and players, and showing up on time for the games.
So many opportunities. And they will increase in the months to come, as more and more awakening people see that the most useful virtue in the time to come is not courage, though it is certainly in the final four, along with love, serenity and the surest sign that love is present: playfulness. So ante up. I'll see your dream and raise you a day. Keep Holding That Frequency.

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     Copyright 2006 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.