Monday, July 8, 2013

Deepening

What does it mean to deepen?

Having recently read some literature on past lives and the soul, I noticed vertical language creeping in to the authors' conceptions about the journey of the soul, whether it be through one lifetime or through several. Frequently I see phrases like "a higher level of awareness" or "ascending to a high plane of existence" so that the physical plane is described as "lower". Also, the word "transcendence" crops up a lot (quick etymology: transcend = Latin for beyond + climb).

Since a class I took last fall about conceptions high art and low art, I began to ponder the fantasy of verticality. As a culture, it would seem that up is good and down is bad. Vertical language abounds, and even in literature on the soul's journey, the privilege of "up" rears its head.

Why should this be so? Why do we amputate the downward dimension of verticality? A survey of Western history would likely provide some answers; the Western mind seems to have grown wings and   left both the horizontal earth and its vertical depths behind in the ascent to heaven.

As a student of depth psychology, I am most interested in the phenomenology of the deep and of the process of deepening. I ask myself, rather than try to "rise above" my troubles or escape them in some way, what would it mean to deepen into them and see what they have to tell me?

I know all too well the gravity of the downward dog; my stresses and traumas dog me and pull me downward in depression towards the ground. Perhaps I ought not to judge that too harshly; perhaps the depression is a necessary component of the deepening process. I think to be "soulful" does incorporate a bit of sadness in it; perhaps our puer ascensionism has taught us as a culture to get rid of that and to climb ever higher in spiritual transcendence and manic moods which escape the psychic necessities. Necessity comes from the Greek ananke, which is etymologically related to the noose around the neck, a tightening, and our word "choke". I think the downward aspect of verticality can feel like Necessity's hands gripping around the neck so that to deepen, we can get depressed and constricted by forces which feel fateful and implacable.

Perhaps the great question is how we relate to the downward dimension of verticality. How does consciousness relate to the experiences we call "deep"? How do we bring an intelligence to depth so that the unseen and hidden recesses can become articulate and speak to us?

I began to think of my own childhood yesterday, recalling the patterns I enacted as a child which, to my delight, I still enact as an adult. I thought, what if our personalities are set in childhood (even as young as 4 years old) and the unfoldment of our lives is a deepening of those patterns rather than a leaving behind as we "grow up" into adulthood? As James Hillman relates in his book The Soul's Code, what if instead of growing up, we grow down?

I think of the astrological patterns which make up my natal horoscope. What if my journey is to deepen into them? My Moon-Pluto conjunction is giving me special trouble of late, especially as the current Uranus-Pluto square falls directly on top of it. What if the 30-year's-worth of the traumas and stresses rising to the surface through Uranus' shocking insight are asking for greater depth rather than "rising above" or "moving beyond"?

I'm not yet sure what it means to deepen, be it deepening into my embodied patterns of behavior and response or the celestial map of the horoscope. I don't think our culture teaches us how to deepen because it privileges "growing up", "transcending", or "evolving" and "moving beyond". When one wants to deepen, one must grope in the dark. Perhaps Hermes must take us there because it is he alone who can guide us into Hades.

My call to myself is to deepen into myself. I am going on intuition here, guided by depth psychologists, poets, mystics, and amateurs who traffic in what can't be seen. I think I have been doing that for the last decade, but the new awareness brought to me by my troubles and traumas have re-visioned my mind's eye.

Perhaps it's time to live a new way.

I'll report back from the depths.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jupiter Discarded...and Recovered?

Saturn's transit through Scorpio has kept me cloaked in black, veiled like a captivating mourner seeing the world through night-shade lace. Looking through that gauzy blackness, nothing is what it seems. I find myself "seeing through" all over the place, and while that frame of mind bestows depth, it also brings melancholy and soulfulness.

To balance the scales, Jupiter has been kicking around in my mind, throwing parties and feasting with an excess that knows no tomorrow. Reading C.S. Lewis and watching "royal" films of late has invigorated reflection on Jupiter and the nature kingly planet.

Lewis speaks of Jupiter in his Discarded Image as a planet with which we've lost touch. Lewis points to the debasement of tin, Jupiter's metal, as symptomatic of our jovial loss. While tin is cheap and utilitarian now, to the medieval mind it naturally belonged to Jupiter because it was the shiniest of the planetary metals: it emitted light more than any other. Jupiter, king of the gods: light, goodness, abundance, healing, vigor, magnanimity. Sun-centered astrology would seem to supplant the king of the gods and put Apollo in his place. In my own Apollonic thinking, I've always seen the sun as primary, so I have been confused as to why Jupiter was king and not Apollo. Reading Lewis, I have begun to understand Jupiter more fully and am surprised at how little I've known of the planet.

Caveat: Jupiter is no stranger to my life. My own horoscope looks like a bacchanal blundered through: Sagittarius rising, Mercury exactly conjunct the jovial Ascendant, Venus and Neptune following closely behind, Jupiter in the 9th square my Ascendant...I mean, how could I have gotten so far without Sagittarian C. S. Lewis' medieval revelation of the planet? My experiential knowledge grants me some access to the planet as I reflect on my own life and proclivities, and I certainly can read like a textbook example of Jupiter. I've often seen my life as a sort of dialogue between the Scorpionic-Saturnine elements so dominant in my horoscope on the one hand, and the gas giant himself with all his children on the other.

Jupiter side: "Party and play! Indulge! Learn! Grow! Laugh! That's what life is for, enjoyment!"

Saturn-Scorpio side: "You're going to die. It could happen anytime, even in the next moment. All things have a price. Contraction must follow the expansion. Be ready. It's going to hurt."

Sounds like the roaring 20s followed by the Great Depression. A few days ago, I saw The Great Gatsby (the new Baz Luhrman film). Did Jupiter make an epiphany to inaugurate Jazz Age? In our popular memory he would seem to have taken the reigns of that era and driven us off the rails in an explosion of prosperity and excess. I haven't read Fitzgerald's novel, but the film conveys a hollowness, a void at the center of the iconic story. Under all of that Jupiterian excess lies the bitter pill of Saturnine loneliness. Gatsby's own struggle up the mountain from extreme poverty into nouveau riche royalty is like turning the coin from the Saturn side to the Jupiter side.

But, Gatsby falls again, life cut short, a steep price paid. Maybe the story supports the debasement of tin? The story of Gatsby seems a cautionary tale against the Jupiterian, but maybe the story is about how to handle Jupiter with depth and integrity? Jupiter can often seem superfluous, lacking in substance, wasteful, greedy, a consumptive swarm of locusts. But perhaps this is a mishandling of Jupiter? Perhaps Jupiter requires depth, requires the lessons of Saturn so that Jupiter can be truly magnanimous, a word which means "great soul". Perhaps Jupiter needs the soulful depths of Hades, the melancholic sadness of heavy Saturn so that the king of the gods can truly appreciate and value the good things life has to offer. I sense that true Jupiterian greatness and wealth must begin in a very small place, in the little appreciations of life and the satisfactions with the present, appreciations which ground Jupiter's expansion and far-reaching vision of the future and possibility. Gatsby wasn't appreciating much of what he had - none of what he had was meaningful because only the absent Daisy bestowed worth and value.  The bitter pill: he had nothing at all, even though it seemed to the world that he had everything. Jupiter as cosmetic, a facade. Maybe Gatsby is, after all, a story about Saturn, the king of the gods reduced to falsifying make-up in this leaden tale.

I suspect it's impossible to "know" a planet in its abstraction, to conceive of Jupiter outside of its mythic network of connections with other planets. No god travels alone, as the Neoplatonic saying goes, but have we been remiss as a larger collective and debased the tin? Writing in the early part of the 20th century, Lewis said we'd lost him. It's difficult to talk about him without his father, Saturn, invoked. Can there be moments of joy, ease, health, of feeling that life will go on and on? Jupiter sounds like the province of the young, but Jupiter was a father, too, a mature being. "Jupiter" comes from "Zeus Pater". I can speak from my own dark nigredo musings and say that a beneficent father in my psyche would be most welcome: a true Zeus Pater, a sense that I will go on, that I can be more than my old curmudgeon-y bitchings. Lewis gave us a reborn Narnia with Aslan's summery return; Tolkein (and I would say, Peter Jackson, really) gave us the Shire, a Jupiterian image of goodness and life worthy of saving at any cost. Maybe there are other images worth seeking out that can help illuminate the magnanimity of Jupiter?

As Venus and Jupiter, the two bringers of joy and bliss, meet in the sky in the sign of Gemini now, I wonder what we can learn from the union of the two benefic planets. Maybe now is a time for cultivating a Shire in the soul, a time to bring golden Spring back to a frozen world...






Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Things On My Mind 4/10

Things on my mind lately:

Roses

 I am mad for roses as of these past two days, which is odd for me because I have traditionally found rose a complicated essence to enjoy. Sometimes I love it, sometimes it's cloying and soapy. Well, right now, I love it! Gone are the soapy, lemon-y, fruity facets I always found so problematic. Instead, I feel like I just get the flower full-on, no breakdown, just one streamlined, fleshy essence that demands a respect worthy of the Queen of Flowers. Rose is Aphrodite. At the moment of writing, I wear Frederic Malle's superb rose perfume Une Rose. I also like to combine it with patchouli as I did last evening through bathing in the camphoraceous, earthy oil and layering on Une Rose afterward. Rose and patchouli have long been paired, and I marvel at their aggressive, demanding, passionate relationship. Which facets do they share in common? Why do they love each other so much?  They smell wonderful together - some geometric pattern aligns in their souls and they resonate in beautiful harmony. It's a Scorpionic pairing if I ever smelled one: equally aggressive and interior. All phenomena pull me into themselves through their images, yet the pairing of rose and patchouli somehow speaks of the little death of orgasm in its seizure of the senses. Life is operatic tragedy. The Rape of Persephone.

Emergence

 I know this phenomenon by its other name, Complexity Theory. Recently there was a Radio Lab rebroadcast of their episode, Emergence. I listened to it, having already read a few beginner's books on the topic, and I was floored by the episode's wonderful structure and fresh, coherent, intelligent perspective. I always appreciate Radio Lab's ability to combine deep scientific, abstract ideas in personal, humorous, and relevant terms. The Emergence episode has me immersed with a enflamed frenzy on the topic of complexity. I also came across complexity through Bosnak's archetypal psychology book, Embodiment, where he framed the psyche as a complex system. I am obsessed with the notion of the psyche as a complex system, or in fact the very outcome of the combined neurons in the brain. I go to the brain image because the episode I listened to, a scientist gave the example of a though being the result of many neurons working together, but a single neuron is not the thought. It is only the neurons together that results in the thought. Awesome!!!! And what the hell does it mean?! There will be more blog posts as I continue to muse on the relationship between complexity theory or emergence (I like emergence better, I think!) and image/soul/psyche/imagination/life/death, you know, all the things I think about ALL THE TIME! It never stops, you guys.

Jane Monheit

Back to roses. In fact, she's what got me into roses in the first place because to me, her voice is the image of rose petals, fleshy, speckled pink and white,  and covered in a heavy dew. Her voice conjures a peach, too, because to me roses have a peachy facet - at least they do as informed by Guerlain's stunning rose perfume, Nahema. So, when I hear her voice, I see the rose, feel its texture in my body, smell it's complicated essence which has fruity facets of peach, which then leads me to the soft, velvety fruit-rose combo. It's a pretty amazing full-body image (the distinction is superfluous to me now - they are the same, image and body) to encounter through the sound of a human voice. I think this speaks to the power of Voice as a resonance of the soul. Voice has the power to create images as much as anything else - I love to continually meld the senses through imagination, the great alembic of them all, and move among sensory perceptions like a delighted synaesthete. Her song, "Like a Lover" is what I imagine myself singing to God as a true ecstatic Sufi drunk on the wine of the Beloved, skin oiled with the combination of rose, oud, musk, incense, patchouli, ambergris, jasmine...




Saturday, April 6, 2013

Depth and Perspective

I can imagine that type of person who lacks depth. There's a sense of un-realness about them with their surface-y glint of artificially manufactured industrial colors. It's like they're always happy, an insistent refusal to get lose it in the mud and get dirty, get connected. Or, they're simply one thing: surface.

I imagined myself like this and asked myself, how would I avoid becoming this? What would I think of to keep me grounded and "in perspective"? Basically, how would I maintain doubt? 

Honestly, I'd think about death. Not only physical death, but death as shadow, as the obscurity of Hades that is psychic reality. The shadows in objects foretell other perspectives; they indicate that somewhere on/in this phenomenon lies another side I can't see - there's another perspective beyond my own. 

So, perhaps the shadowy, deep, melancholy, and soulful facets of life (described by Scorpio/Pluto and Saturn/Capricorn in the zodiac) serve to remind us of other perspectives. They depressively fall away from the solidity of any wholeness; the break down the shiny surface by piercing it with black holes. 

Scorpio's penetrating deconstruction breaks down whole-some perspectives through vital power struggles, through negation and death, through the little death of orgasm. There's a fixity to negating, penetrating Scorpio that resembles alchemical black's literalizing concreteness (one must become "blacker than black" to move past the nigredo and toward other colors). Capricorn's azure experience does not share this kind of depth experience - it's a goat of a different color. 

I imagine the blue Capricorn goat and its verticality. Up the mountain it goes and back down it falls again, the interval diminished. Goethe described blue as active in its receding. It's like Eurydice always fading backwards into shadow, just out of reach of Orpheus' pleading hand. Melancholy used to be a sin, as nasty and insidious as the big seven. The lethargic apathy of melancholy actively countered the ascensionism of Christian divinity. The blues take us back down again. This seems like the negating of Scorpio shadows, too, though the feeling tone between the two is different.  Black can feel nothing, numbed, or at least frozen, whereas blue has sadness in the mix, a nostalgia, and desiring yearning. (Blue is also attributed to Aphrodite.) 

Can blue and black mix? Absolutely. I think they can flow into each other and tint one another so that black shines a bit with a reflective sheen and blue deepens into an incredible ombre spectrum. Important for me are the ways in which these emotional and physical experiences of sadness, melancholy, yearning, nostalgia, serve to deepen us and describe what we understand as psychological - an intelligence of soul. 

So, I keep these colors, these experiences, these gods, these images close by. I pay attention to how these experiences inform what I understand to be depth, how my soul reflects itself. I pay attention to how they activate my imagination, to what images present themselves to me as my perceptions - I notice how they stimulate an attempt to see from another perspective and encourage the movement of the soul (Aristotle said the essence of soul was movement, like Heraclitus spoke of the imagination as a river that always flowed). I imagine a sphere, seeing the side closest to me brightly lit, white and luminous. As I follow the shape of it around, I notice it fade into eventual obscurity. That change of shade and perception of depth makes me ask, what does the other side of this sphere look like? And who can see it? 
Imagine if I looked at another man behind the sphere looking at it, too. The shadow alone would indicate to me another perspective, but add to it the man looking at the back of the sphere and my imagination is on fire. What does he see?? Any why can't I see it, too?? Or can I...

Something tells me that through black depth and blue shadow we can...

I also sense that depth is character. The etymology of character speaks to a mark on the soul, an imprint. I imagine that shiny, cosmetically wholesome surface dinted so that suddenly one notices it has depth, that it's not just a reflectively aggressive sheen. Depth and character seem to inform each other. And we're back to melancholy, the obscure meditation on death, the breakdown and critical penetration of doubt that builds valuable character.

We know someone is "real" through these qualities, or that they have "real character". Sad shadows are longing close by, preventing singular, blinding white wholesomeness. 





Friday, April 5, 2013

Robert Lepage and Voice: Imagination

Visionary theatre director Robert Lepage has set my mind on fire with his brilliant ideas on the voice. Here's the clip:



All nine parts are worth a watch, but the idea of Voice has captivated me. My background in music has sensitized my ear so that when attending the theatre, it is my primary organ of perception. I think that imagination is perhaps the soul's attempt to put a face to that numinous Voice. Therefore, when I hear speaking, particularly speech honored through art, my barometer for its soul-resonance is the activity of my own imagination.

I've noticed that if Voice and Language/Speech are not in synchrony, a damn halts the river of my imagination. If my imagination takes hold and images present themselves to me on the vibration of Voice, I know that the performer is in tune. Perhaps Language was imagined/created as a vehicle for Voice, specific little containers that shape and mould Voice according to "eachness" (William or Henry James coined that term..). 

I don't yet know the relationship between Voice and Language, but I can tell when words lose their souls through stripping away musicality, resonance, and beauty -all of which seem to be the essence of Voice...

It's as though this thing called Voice wants to be imagined in so many different ways, wants to be imaged....

I am lead more and more to the synthesis of all senses - image/imagination has components of all five senses, and I like the way that Lepage's idea of Voice can support the aural component to imagination.  


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Saturn in Scorpio: Blacker Than Black

Sadly my blog writing has diminished in the face of my pressing thesis deadlines. However, it is precisely the "pressing" that I want to write about today. The weight of what I'm calling a "black Saturn" is steadily increasing in gravity and mass, and the leaden experience of this psychic and planetary phenomenon has me struggling to make sense of it all.

To describe what I mean, I'll open up the terms "black" and "Saturn" here and then discuss them as they are fusing together.

First, my understanding of "blackness" comes from alchemy. The color system of the ancient and cryptic art describes qualitative, essential changes throughout an opus of transformation and refinement. The word alchemy itself means the "black arts", drawing its etymology from the black soil of Egypt's Nile delta. While alchemy takes  "material" and subjects it to processes that result in many color changes, the shadow of blackness seems to hover behind the hued spectrum of tinctures like Hades hovers behind all phenomena. The death-shade of black deepens all things and breaks down daylight assumptions, drawing all phenomena back down into the Underworld of soulful essence.

Black in alchemy is a stage of the work wherein the material turns dense, putrified, heavy, stinking, rotting, broken-down, and concretely literal. It is a sticky tar that pulls all things back into itself like a black hole. No light escapes the phenomenon of black so that it negates all things, including itself. No outside reflection is possible during the blackening of the work, making this a most difficult and emotionally terrifying time - that is, if the blackened state allows feeling at all. Symptoms of depression abound here, and one can imagine the deadened state where one's vitality recedes into shadow like Eurydice vanishing under Orpheus' fatal backward glance. No light, no hope, no feeling, no future. Only death, darkness, and despair.

Not exactly a dance around the maypole.

Hillman's foundational essay "The Seduction of Black" in Alchemical Psychology goes into depth about the dreaded alchemical darkness, so I won't expound too greatly upon the shade here. But I do want to draw out a few aspects from the tar based on my experiences.

The experience of black brings with it obsessive thoughts. The concrete literalness of black that does not allow for imagining outside of and around the phenomenon keeps one locked into physical manifestations that are only physical and nothing else. The alchemical maxim, "Beware the physical in the material" applies aptly to black, for black's negating activity deadens phenomena into "just" appearance and nothing else. A singleness of meaning emerges so that one cannot reflect, imagine, or break free - one is locked in fearful dread beneath the Sword of Damocles that prevents the imagination from flowing. In particular, the concretization of black results in symptom-obsession. The body's rotting, decay, and disease is a theme of black, and the blackened mind frequently sees only these things. This is especially difficult for anyone with complicated relationship to his/her own body (I suspect that is a lot of people). The puer aeternus type has special trouble with alchemical blackness because the eternal youth resists the mortality and limitation of a physical body. As the fiery puer is always on the threshold of possibility, black's negation of that possibility through decay and rot give the winged youth a really hard time.

In addition to black's dense negation and literalization (singleness of meaning), the shadow
deconstructs. Black in alchemy is a breakdown of the material, resulting in what could be understood as "breakdown states". All things known and solid begin to rot and decompose. Like Hades calls all daylight phenomenon back to into depth through reveries of mortality, death, soulfulness, and melancholy, alchemical black pulls the rug out from underneath so that nothing has any firm ground to stand upon. Object permanence goes away. Nothing knowable, nothing for sure, nothing safe. Black continually challenges essence so that as soon as one has a grasp on things, black's hand obscures through deconstructive tendencies so that one knows nothing. Constant self-negation and criticism abound. As every thought is overturned and broken down, the miasma of existential despair hangs in the air over the chemistry table.

Saturn's experience is often similar to black. Saturn as lead is dense, heavy, oppressive. Saturn as the
lord of boundaries governed death and fate (he also ruled astrology). The image of the Lord of Time with his sickle as the grim reaper stood as a figure for Death. Alchemical lead has much in common with alchemical black. Both are putrid, stinking, heavy, sticky, dense, immovable. Saturn's experience of mortality and decay are coated in an oily sheen of blackness. To have him passing through the sign of Scorpio, blackest of the black, packs a double punch of alchemical darkness.

The astrological Saturn cannot be totally conflated with blackness; after all, his color is blue, not black. Saturn is a structure builder; Hades/blackness breaks down all structures. Saturn's melancholy does stem from the acceptance of endings; it is a movement forward via depression and regression. If the soul has special connection to death, Saturnine melancholy is one vehicle by which the soul looks to Hades. Saturn asks us to think of death. It also asks us to think of matter: bodies, forms, cohesion, and through death, the pneumatic essence of these things. As death throws phenomena into relief through shadowing, blackened Saturnine reflection also asks us to think of what matters. Death is coming: be present. Do it now.

Saturn in Scorpio's call to depth has been a frequent theme lately, and the emotions are intense and sometimes terrifying. Confronting mortality face to face has changed me, and I find myself often called to silence in an obscure, profound way. While I know I haven't died, the alchemical nigredo (aka, blackening) and Saturn's dense lead impart the feeling of dying to consciousness. The attitude of the grave prevails.  The blackened reflections of my own interiority are reshaping my life so that I may live more fully, deeply, and soulfully. Saturn in his black cloak challenges me to see through phenomena, to see through matter to what matters. What I envisage is like nothing I've expected, and the images that present themselves around my in-sighting and seeing-through are numinous and illuminating. As I look to the shadows of all things, the resulting conversation with my own soul are some of the most profoundly meaningful and important I feel I've ever had. No going back. Final.

Hades' deconstruction has also begun to erode some of the limits (Saturn) in place. I start to realize that some of the walls and assumptions I've built up are faulty, useless, and damaging. Some of the foundational ideas upon which I've embodied my life are beginning to seem ridiculous and and unnecessary.

I begin to feel like Rilke's Eurydice, completely unrecognizing the old Orpheus that calls her back to an outmoded, shallow, unexamined life. My life now become both of the lovers.


Quietness

Inside this new love, die.

Your way begins on the other side.

Become the sky.

Take an axe to the prison wall.

Escape.

Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.

Do it now.

You are covered with thick cloud.

Slide out the side. Die,

and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign

that you have died.

Your old life was a frantic running

from silence.


The speechless full moon

comes out now.

      -Rumi









Friday, January 18, 2013

Vitamins

As I was finishing my workout today and taking my vitamins, I reflected on the meaning of a vitamin: something your body does not produce itself but which it still requires to function.

What a concept, right? Your body needs whatever the particular vitamin is, but it doesn't make it. It's like a vitamin is a confirmation of lack, and affirmation of incompleteness, and a demand on lifestyle and how we relate to the environment.

In our time, and in the particular culture within which I write this, vitamins are everywhere. Industrial reproduction renders the threat of deficiency-related disease and breakdown minimal, but in the past, and even in other parts of the world, that's not true. Bodies are bent and malformed because those little bits of stone and earth are not present in a diet.

In my continual act of epistrophe and lenses through which I can imagine a phenomenon, the old Lord of Lack himself, Saturn, popped up.

In astrology, Saturn as a planet is concerned with structure and with building. He is a master of formation, matter, earth, manifestation, limit, and embodiment. In my education on Saturn, I learned to think of him as the principle of lack, as a facet of our lives where we are not handed a free lunch and told instead to make it ourselves. Astrologically, Saturn is a tough and bitter pill to swallow because he demands the we make ourselves with our own two hands rather than depending on someone else (usually Mommy) to take care of us and make us who we are. Saturn is the part of us that pushes us toward completion, to determination (etymologically, to the end of any phenomenon and thus its purpose), toward maturity, towards achievement, towards a greater sense of understanding surrounding Matter and Time. But, Saturn is also the part of us that feels the most sorely lacking, the most calloused because of all the "work" surrounding it, and because of that we are either driven to build and make something of our lives on this earth, or, well, that's all there is. You can accept it or run away from it, and probably we all do a little bit of both. I've seen Saturnine people who can be pretty big babies, real task masters that set very, very high bars (Why would they not expect it of others? They set high bars for themselves), and I've seen them as really grounded and serene precisely because of the acceptance of limits, lack, and failure as part of existence (whatever "existence" means...I still don't know if that means incarnate existence or something that incorporates - "to bring into the body" - more lofty and spiritual that deals in realms outside of the body and into the obscure - Saturn is also master of the occult and the traditional ruler of astrology). I think Saturn could definitely be involved in what we call the mind-body relationship, especially if body is not defined literally as just what's inside my flesh casing. I say this because of that notion of incorporation, of taking something "outside" the body and bringing it in and making it part of the structure we too simply call a body.

Which brings me to vitamins. And my idol Patricia Barber's endlessly clever song, "Hunger," from her album Mythologies: 


I wonder if Saturn has something to do with these little pills? I mean, if we think of our bodies as needing something, and vitamins are what we need, then the way in which we live, the shape our life takes, the form of our lives, must incorporate these helpful elves and their acquisition. Even down to our daily routines and rhythms (more of a Virgo thing), what we make of ourselves is integrally connected to what's missing and necessary. So, I'm fascinated by the way in which we engage in the Saturnine activity of making ourselves, and how that creation is delimited by what we lack.

Now, the fun game of imagining what else could stand in for a "vitamin" begins! We perceive a lack of all sorts of things (and I would say that the "organ" of that perception within us, or maybe outside of us dictated by larger groups or a culture, is Saturn), and that lack makes us get out there and find it.

I remember reading in Liz Greene that Saturn and Jupiter form a pair, imaged as a donkey compelled to move. The agent of this compulsion comes in two forms, Saturn and Jupiter: Jupiter is the carrot dangling in front of the donkey, and Saturn is the switch smacking the ass' ass. Two ways of operating, both with the same end result. Greene described the Saturn/Jupiter relationship as a spiritual problem, since both have bearing on how we interpret what we understand as higher power, as purpose and meaning. It's kind of a God question: is the cosmos benign and generally good and purposeful, or is it a place of hardship, of striving and exertion?

I don't want to diverge too far down that path, but I only bring up that example to play with other notions and models, and to start pointing to alternate views of Saturn within the complex itself. That word I used earlier, serenity, is another Liz Greene interpretation, and I really like it. I agree that serenity is perhaps the best Saturn can offer us, and an acceptance of limits, even such a minute reminder of lack as vitamins, can perhaps lead us to a different relationship with time, body, and space.

Imagine a life where I had to go out actively searching for calcium! How much of my time and energy would that take?

I am indeed living that life, though. Right now, calcium = thesis/grad school. And for those of you reading, no doubt there is some pocket of life, some arena, where you're actively searching out calcium.

Usually the sign in which Saturn is placed in the horoscope makes a statement about how we go about getting our vitamins, and the sign also makes a statement about what those vitamins are. In other words, the sign in which Saturn resides tells us what's missing, and that's generally what we seek most because we feel the hunger of that lack so acutely. And for added fun, any planets tied to Saturn by aspect also feel its touch, becoming a vehicle of necessary incorporation. Sun-Saturn conjunction? The "who am I and why am I here" question becomes a mineral to seek out and incorporate. Venus-Saturn square? Love, relationship, worth and esteem, and self-reflected in other become the essentials to build a life around (with the added bonus of the square's feeling of irreconcilability. Yay, aspects!)

We've all got Saturn somewhere, and it does not operate outside the web or field of phenomena known as a horoscope (or as I like to imagine, a mythic field of gods or mythic images), so we'll all have to figure out what we're missing and how to get it. Or, to use the imagery of Capricorn's goat climbing that mountain, somewhere in us is a sense that we must get to the top. We're not there yet, but our ends require it (determination), making it necessary.

May we all find what we need and continue to engage determinedly and serenely (with supple joints!) the upward climb towards fulfillment.

(Remembering that there are good things down in the valley, too!)