Thursday, April 26, 2018

War & Human History

 From 2001 A Space Odyssey
Humans have been making war since...for ever. Early on it was mainly a matter of raiding to obtain access to more of everything - plunder, pillage and rape, rather than any effort to change societies or cultures. Later, things changed - or did they?

In a piece from two years ago David Covucci wrote:
The Oldest Instance Ever Of Humans Doing War On Each Other Was Just Unearthed
When was the first war, though, the first time humans saw other humans and were like, chilling with those dudes would be cool, but bashing their heads in with sticks would be even chiller?

The answer is 8,000 BCE, according to scientists at Cambridge University. Skeletal remains of a group of foragers massacred around 10,000 years ago on the shores of a lagoon is unique evidence of a violent encounter between clashing groups of ancient hunter-gatherers, and suggests the “presence of warfare” in late Stone Age foraging societies.

The fossilised bones of a group of prehistoric hunter-gatherers who were massacred around 10,000 years ago have been unearthed 30 km west of Lake Turkana, Kenya, at a place called Nataruk.
Good stuff, humans. Kill everybody. All the time. As hard as you can.
I'm not often given to writing about war, as a topic, but a question at Quora the other day had caught my eye.
What was the most important war ever fought in human history?

Predictably several answers to the question offered up World Wars 1 and 2. I was interested in some other ideas though, ideas about wars from further back in time, and the likely outcome for human history had victory gone the other way.

Matt Le Page suggested the undeclared Anglo-Spanish war of 1585–1604, specifically the English defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588.

If the English lost, the Spanish would have likely landed an invasion force and succeeded in overthrowing Elizabeth I, thus obliterating the Anglican church. Rather than becoming the most formidable sea power in Europe and, thus, being able to project that sea power, England would have become a Spanish vassal, making it much easier for Spain to “rub out” Protestantism in the rest of Europe. Furthermore, the notion of “Great Britain” would be strangled in its bassinet.

In alignment with this, England most certainly would never have been able to colonize areas in the New World, chiefly around what is now the United States’ east coast. Spain would have colonized the coast from St. Augustine northward, discovering and settling the eventual cash-cow of Virginia, as well as the strategic New York harbor/lower Hudson River region. There also most likely would never be a “New England” and subsequent “Great Migration” to British North America. It would also mean no “New Netherland” as the nominally Protestant United Provinces would be absorbed into the Spanish-Hapsburg network, their autonomy and naval forces neutered.
In essence, what we would see is Spanish empire from the Tierra del Fuego to Greenland. Let’s also not pretend the Spanish would let there be a “New France”, either. The massacre at Fort Caroline is evidence of this.

So, we’re talking about a world with no United States or Canada. Seems like this would have rewritten history completely.

Eric Zimmermann argued for the Battle of Thermopylae.
The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece..................Had not the Spartans, Thespians, and Thebans held the pass and allowed the other Greek forces the ability to muster a defense against the invading Persians it is entirely likely that Alexander the Great would never have had Aristotle as his tutor, and never have spread Hellenization to the known world resulting in the rise of classical culture and the offshoots it created.

All of Western civilization depended on this one band of Greeks holding the pass to Thermopylae and they did it successfully.

Further back in time still, others suggested the 8th century Umayyad invasion of Gaul - had the Umayyads won this war, most of Europe would be eventually conquered, Islamified and would be speaking Arabic. Or, The Second Punic War (218–201 BCE), one of the deadliest wars in European history, led to the end of the small scale republic and formation of the Roman Empire whose cultural impact is still existing.

It's a fascinating thread of answers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Astrology - The Mystery

This was my first ever blog post, dated 11 August 2006, when it was unlikely to have been read by anybody. I repeated it 5 years later in 2011, and feel inclined to give it another re-airing today, illustrations added. My views still haven't changed.

I don't know how astrology works. Nobody does. Most astrologers find some way of explaining it. Some are unacceptable, even to me. This is how I see it:

The Universe is full of energies, forces, elements of which we know very little, if anything. More and more is being discovered as the years pass. I believe there are "energies" for want of a better word, or perhaps a better description would be "a kind of atmospheric soup", to which our human bodies react, starting with our first breath after birth, as a separate entity from our mothers.

With our first breath we are "imprinted" (again for want of a better word) with a pattern or blueprint based on the mix of energies at that very minute, in that particular place. This imprint blends with the genetically inherited flesh and blood from which we are formed. From centuries of observation, it would appear that these "energies" have some connection with the planets and lights (Sun & Moon) in our solar system, and their movements around the ecliptic. The planets themselves could be acting, to our eyes, in a way akin to the hands of a clock, indicators of cycles of time, overlapping cycles, repeating cycles - a complex network of cycles.

As we grow, the planets and their movement - transits - continue to have relevance, because our imprinted circuitry is sensitive to them, especially as the planets pass over certain areas. From my own experience, this occurs on a much lesser scale than the text books indicate. The outer, slow moving planets can affect our lives to varying degrees at a few specific points in any life span...but not every day, every week, or even every year. Most of the time we are free-wheeling, following an inborn blueprint, living our lives using free will, making our own mistakes, enjoying our own triumphs. A few times in a life, though, the Cosmos steps in and a particular configuration of planets trigger the imprint and re-direct matters. Even then it remains in our hands as to how we react to this re-direction. These especially sensitive configurations occur cyclically.

Astrology has a long, long history, reaching back further even than we can know. Knowledge passed down through centuries might well have become mangled, mis-translated, or politically censored and manipulated from time to time, a similar fate will have applied to the Bible and other holy books.

In ancient times people tried to understand the unknowable in the best way they could. They used fables, deities, archetypes, and strange symbolic glyphs to describe ideas which could not otherwise be explained. Generations of astrologers have updated these ancient concepts using modern expression, but the unwritten core of astrological knowledge remains within its modern understanding.

The notion that planets, and various accurately measured points on an astrological chart can affect our lives may seem incredible, yet there ARE patterns. Just as the planets move in regular defineable cycles, there are rhythms and patterns in all our lives. There are patterns of personality which can be seen to emerge based on positions of the planets and the angles they make with one another at the time of birth. There are patterns in the stages of our lives. There is a rhythm, in time to the slow dance of our planets.

COMMENTS from 2011
I agree, T, what we know amounts to a head of a pin in the scale of the universe.

Gian Paul This post of yours, Twilight, merits to be published not only once every 5 years, but every year. Make it a habit!

A personal reflection: it's all larger than just human destiny. Admittedly our own life/life experiences are the best ground for observation, but many other entities (states, corporations, associations, even conspiracies etc.) obey astrological patterns. What's created has by definition an hour of birth, hours of peaking or bottoming out, of death and renovation. So it's not only us little human individuals who are concerned.

mary beth
this is, by far, the very best articulation of my own position on astrology and its gratifying to see it out here in print. may many see it.


This is how I missed my subway stop last night. There was a voice in my screaming: Astrology really works! I was reading the article in the Mountain Astrologer on the Wikileak founder Assange and was looking at the transits when he supposedly "raped". Huh, Venus Mars conjoined his natal Uranus/Pluto and much more... It does work, but there are no two same ways of how we'll accept it, because it's not just mental, it's emotional, archetypal, social...

James Higham
I don't know how astrology works. Nobody does. Most astrologers find some way of explaining it. Some are unacceptable, even to me.

You seem to have a fair grasp of it now though.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Music Monday ~ Composer of Opera & "the Caruso of Rock" - Two Birthdays.

Is there any reason to compare Leoncavallo and Roy Orbison ? It's an unlikely pairing. Both were born today, 23 April, 79 years apart - is that where similarity ends?

Ruggero Leoncavallo 23 April 1857 – 9 August 1919) was an Italian opera composer and librettist. Although he produced numerous operas and other songs throughout his career it is his opera Pagliacci (1892) that remained his lasting contribution, despite attempts to escape the shadow of his greatest success. Pagliacci owes its continuing success in part to the composer’s ability to balance humour, romance, and darkly violent moods. My post on Leoncavallo from 2012 is HERE.

Born 79 years later, in Texas on 23 April 1936:
Roy Orbison
Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) was an American singer-songwriter known for his distinctive, impassioned voice, complex song structures, and dark emotional ballads. The combination led many critics to describe his music as operatic, nicknaming him "the Caruso of Rock" and "the Big O". While most male rock-and-roll performers in the 1950s and 1960s projected a defiant masculinity, many of Orbison's songs instead conveyed vulnerability. His voice ranged from baritone to tenor, and music scholars have suggested that he had a three- or four-octave range. During performances, he was known for standing still and solitary, and for wearing black clothes, to match his dyed jet black hair and dark sunglasses, which lent an air of mystery to his persona.

"Caruso of rock" eh? Something there to consider? A quick look at both natal charts.

Leoncavallo born 23 April 1857 in Naples, Italy at 4 PM (Data from Astrodienst)

Orbison born 23 April 1936 in Vernon, Texas, USA, at 3.50 PM (Data from Astrodienst)

The very obvious similarity: lots of emphasis in both charts on Taurus, sign ruled by Venus, planet of the arts. Leoncavallo had Sun conjunct Pluto (darkness and intensity), Venus and Mercury conjunct Uranus (the unexpected and/or modern) along with Mars nearby also, all in Taurus.

Orbison had Sun conjunct Uranus, with Mercury and Mars conjoined, all in Taurus.

What they were thought to share - that gravitaion towards a classic style with operatic tone - where's the astrological signature? I could be wrong on this, but I'd look towards Saturn for this kind of thing. Orbison had Saturn in Watery, emotional Pisces somewhat uncomfortably yet workably semi-sextile Venus in Aries, and helpfully sextile Mercury and Mars in Taurus - so Saturn does link to his personal planets.

Leoncavallo's Saturn was also in a Water sign, Cancer and linked to Mercury and Mars in Taurus by helpful sextile. So both men had a Watery Saturn making aspect to personal planets.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on PLUTO in TRANSIT

I shall blame this post on the fact that transiting Pluto is currently sitting smack dab on my natal Mercury in Capricorn. I knew, from previous experience when transiting Pluto sat on my natal Venus in Sagittarius some 15 or so years ago, that I'd be experiencing something out of the ordinary, and transformative. Back then I was, eventually, catapulted from the UK to the USA - how transformative was that!?

As passing readers might recall from recent posts, yes, something out of the ordinary has happened - again with Pluto again conjunct a personal planet. A diagnosis of breast cancer. Thankfully the discovery was early, via mammogram, and dealt with by a quick surgery procedure (lumpectomy). There had been no spread to lymph nodes and margins. That experience was plenty scary and, to a point, transformative too! These words from astrologer Jan Spiller's brief piece on Pluto hits home:

The goal of PLUTO : to experience total self-mastery and fearlessness in any situation. This can only happen when you accept the process of passing through your personal terror for the sake of Right Action.

From a piece at Kepler College website:
In modern parlance it is common for people to look at important changes – relationship or marital status, professional change or moving, even starting a yoga class on Tuesday nights, as “transformative.” However, these changes seem more part of normal life and normal adult development and they usually occur within other defined structures; they are therefore more like “first order change” – there is alteration but the organism or individual, maintains its continuity. This is not the kind of change to consider when we describe astrology’s Pluto.

The word “transformation” is defined as a change in form, shape, or appearance. Its Greek equivalent is “metamorphosis” and, we know from Ovid’s famous poem of the same name, metamorphosis not always an improvement. Positive transformation is rare in our lives.

Most transformations or metamorphoses are kindled from life-shattering events: Near Death Experiences, visitations from angels or aliens, warfare, imprisonment or becoming a victim of a violent crime, natural disasters, grave economic collapse, life-threatening illness or disability, or when one loses loved ones and home, like when the tidal wave and nuclear disaster happened in Japan or when Hurricane Katrina hit..... Here we encounter life’s essential fragility, sometimes the impinging presence of evil, including that which is within us. These are involuntary changes that are more like “fate”.

From an excellent piece Doing Pluto by astrologer Eric Francis, of Planet Waves
Mythology and astronomy cast Pluto as the lord of Hell, but astrology tells another story. No astrologer, it is safe to say, underestimates Pluto or takes him for granted, or none does so for long. Largely thanks to the work of Jeffrey Green and his spiritual mentor, Yogananda, we recognize Pluto as the evolutionary engine in the astrological chart. While society may twist and crumble, and while emperors may rise in power, on the inner level, Pluto is the ultimate influence we cannot deny. Anyone who has consciously gone through a Pluto transit have seen and this at work: Pluto is the uncompromising force for change, the catalyst for growth, and the slowly moving point of no return. Once Pluto has been through our lives, and it does not happen often, nothing is quite the same.

Scrolling down further:

Unforgettable Fires

When Pluto makes contact with degrees where it or other planets were when we were born, we get a phase of direct experience, called a transit. It is simple to pick these times out of the ephemeris and the most hardened skeptic would agree that something was up. At such times, we have always reached a limit.

The limitation Pluto imposes has less to do with adhering to outer structure, expectations, or following a programmed sense of inner responsibility (like Saturn), but rather imposing the necessity to follow one's evolutionary path. This is to say, under Pluto's guidance, we are compelled to respond to the necessities of our soul's journey. To do this, we are presented with circumstances that teach us we indeed have a soul, and that it actually has a mission. However you may feel, these ideas turn out to be beyond the grasp of most people, who simply wonder why they are in pain and don't get what we now call the lesson. For this reason, we can get a sense of why the world so often feels like it is devoid of soul energy, of the expression of meaningful inner truth. And we can see why so many people require incredibly painful experiences in order to grow or wake up.

Speaking of waking up, Pluto deals with the subject of sex on the hormonal, orgasmic and control-based levels, the ones we usually prefer to ignore, or to ignore the power of. These issues will come up as real-life circumstances; we get to choose how we handle them.

There's plenty of advice around the net on "surviving Pluto transits". While these are well-meaning, and no doubt can prove helpful to some readers, I avoided them. The first time I even considered searching for pieces on the topic was in preparing this post. I was aware of the Pluto transit to a personal planet of mine, that was all I needed to know. I find other peoples' experiences and other astrologers' ideas on coping to be less helpful than just doing what comes naturally to me, myself and I - hoping that'll be enough!

I am not going to obsess about the remaining time Pluto will be around my chart, nor will I think too far ahead to the time Pluto will visit natal Sun. It's quite likely, anyway, that by then, there will have been the call: "Come in Twilight - your time is up!"

Astrology is a fascinating and useful tool, but at times like this it feels more comfortable, to me, to put my chart on the top shelf, out of my direct line of daily vision.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ A.A. Milne, E.H. Shepard, Christopher R. & Winnie the P.

Watching a DVD of the 2017 biographical drama film "Goodbye Christopher Robin" this week reminded me that here was another of those magical collaborations we encounter from time to time, partnerships which bring forth something that becomes almost legendary. I've mentioned a few such partnerships in past the top of my head: Billie Holiday and Lester Young, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. Author A.A. Milne and artist E. H. Shepard make up another such pair. In this case though, sadly, it is said that neither man was too happy about the success of their collaboration, because it overshadowed their other work. Milne's famous son Christopher Robin was also unhappy about his involvement. That does seem a tad ...erm... ungrateful all round, doesn't it? Perhaps, from their point of view, their lives were taken over in ways they had neither planned nor foreseen - they were all taken in directions they would rather not have pursued. Still, millions of children and adults have reason to be grateful for what emerged.

This set of first editions is priced $16,500

The film, by the way is well worth a look.

My 2009 archived post on A.A. Milne is HERE. I'm curious to see A.A. Milne's natal chart against that of E.H. Shepard. Both charts are set for 12 noon as birth times are unknown. Click on chart image for larger version.

A.A. Milne born in London, England on 18 January 1882.

Milne's is a very Earthy natal chart: Sun, Moon and Venus in Capricorn. Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter and Pluto in Taurus. Uranus in Virgo. Air enough to crank up his writing skills came from Mercury in Aquarius and Mars in Gemini. A Grand Trine in Earth links Uranus to Neptune & Jupiter to Venus, perhaps to Moon also. Moon's position isn't exact as shown, due to lack of a birth time.

Shepard's chart isn't as Earthy, his Sun and Mercury are in Fiery Sagittarius, but there's still emphasis on Taurus from Neptune and Pluto, with Mars there too. Uranus is in Virgo in both charts, so the pair shared an Earthy generational tone, along with millions of others.

Both men had served in World War I, they suffered from memories of the horrors they had experienced. I'm tempted to connect their ease of collaboration to Chiron (the mythological Wounded Healer) in Taurus, sign ruled by Venus, planet of the arts. Chiron is conjunct Jupiter and Neptune in Milne's chart; conjunct Neptune and Mars in Shepard's. Their writing and drawing collaboration could well have afforded a means of healing their mental wounds.

E.H. Shepard born in London, England on 10 December 1879.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bicycle Day

Filed under "Trivia":

Today, 19 April, is Bicycle Day - as Sir Michael Caine would say, "Not a lot of people know that!"

"Bicycle Day does not, as one might expect, celebrate the ubiquitous two-wheeled mode of transport, beloved of city- and country- dwellers alike the world over. Rather, it celebrates a particular historical event that involves a trip on a bicycle.

‘Trip’ is the operative word here, as Bicycle Day commemorates the first time Dr. Albert Hofmann intentionally took Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) having accidentally discovered it three days previously. Following the deliberate 250mcg dose he started to feel a little odd, so decided to ride his bicycle home. What happened on that trip would lead to LSD becoming a very popular recreational drug – not without its problems though, which is why taking LSD is not a recommended way to celebrate Bicycle Day.

Instead, why not read Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest while listening to ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’? Trippy, but perfectly safe."