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VISIONARY ACTIVIST ASTROLOGY
I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose. And that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship. Behind the harsh appearance of the world there is a benign power.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Think of your life as a spiritual detective novel. Each aspect of your life, especially the really quirky, maverick parts, are clues to your task, your destiny, and your gift to the world. Astrology invites us to see life as a web of myriad meaningful patterns. Those moments when we apprehend and perceive patterns give rise in us to feelings of reverence and awe (ah!) - two very healthy attitudes that have been the central foundation of great civilizations, but are sadly lacking in our own. Gandhi spoke to this point when asked what he thought of Western civilization, by replying that he thought it was a good idea. Reverence, awe, and positive spiritual intrigue are the primary dynamic qualities that the language of astrology seeks to awaken in you.
Entertain the possibility that you are an undercover agent parachuting down to this beautiful planet in its time of need. Astrology is a language that catalyzes your memory of your mission. Each of us has some crucial task to perform in the Grand Intrigue, a task that will not only transform us personally, but also transform the entire climate of culture. By responding to astrology's invitation to participate consciously in evolution, we cultivate the infinite capacities of being fully human. Our affinities, those things to which we are strongly attracted, lead us to our gift, and hence to our way of serving the larger community.We can then give a gift to the world that could be given by no other; we can do a work or work a magic that could be effected by no other. The astrological language embodies a world view in which each of us is honored and cherished as a necessary evolutionary experiment, and is encouraged to bloom. When we bloom we become generous and vice versa.
The Lakota saying O Matake Oyasin, for all my relations, defines community in the largest sense, to include all of creation. Through this saying the Lakota remind us that all our actions want to honor the spirit in all things - bugs microbes, rocks, animals, plants, planets. Magical kinship should be encouraged at all times, for it is what makes life bearable.
Some styles of spiritual practice arise from the premise that the world is merely a seductive illusion to be transcended through detachment. There is not a lot of room for humor in this approach, for this is serious business, a kind of goal-oriented, solo, M.B.A. approach to enlightenment. Down to Gehenna, or up to the throne, he travels the fastest who travels alone, says Rudyard Kipling, speaking for those who value speed and expediency. (But is it the most interesting fun possible?) If you truly adhered to that philosophical strategy, you probably would not be reading this now, because the orientation of this book is that life is to be embraced as an ally to be transformed rather than transcended. We want to become completely involved in the responsibility of shaping reality for the greater good of all our relations. For us potential life enthusiasts, astrology defines the task of being fully human as discerning the pattern of evolutionary intelligence, the liveliest possibility at any moment in time, and aligning with that.
There are two primary Buddhist paths toward enlightenment. Hinayana, which means lesser vehicle, is the path of (strictly) personal salvation, whereas Mahayana, the greater vehicle, is devoted to the salvation of all creation. The astrology of this book aspires to the Mahayana path of full self-cultivation, participation, reverent curiosity, and concern for the well-being of other creatures and thus encourages us to become increasingly conscious players on the team of creation.
This astrology weds spiritual magic and compassionate social activism to create Visionary Activist Astrology, because one without the other does not work. Vision and spirituality by themselves can be too ungrounded, detached, narcissistic, or oblivious. For example, there was a great blooming of interest in metaphysics and
Eastern spiritual practices in Germany in the 1930s, but without sufficient sense of compassionate social responsibility.
Yet activism by itself is too dreary and overworked to be effective. We all know people who are doing noble, hard-working good, yet who have a gray pallor of infighting fatigue, symptomatic of magic deficiency. They are tyrannized by realism, alienated from their innate capacity to draw upon larger resources to heal and revitalize themselves.
Visionary Activism invites us to participate actively in shaping and creating our personal and collective reality by embarking on an adventure of joyful maximum self-cultivation. The third Websters dictionary definition of maximum is an astronomical term for the moment of greatest brilliance of a variable star.
Astrology describes us as living in a Kairos, or fulcrum moment. The future is not fixed (but its not broken, either). Our actions can tip the fulcrum either way, toward the life or death of innumerable communities of creatures living on this planet. By voting with our imaginations, we determine the outcome.
The all-too-visible forces of greed are stupidly lumbering along, dragging everything in their net toward the abyss of planetary systems collapse. But the forces of human ingenuity and artful compassion, allied with the world of the invisibles, are sprightlier, sleeker, and smarter, and they know how to dance away from the chasm. If imaginative people can use their powers to release creation from the net, then the forces of greed can hurtle themselves into the abyss (to be transformed at a later time) without taking the rest of us.
Believe nothing, entertain possibilities.
Astrology is not a belief system; it is a language of the dynamic interplay between our interior life and the exterior world. The astrological language grants us access to the invisible realm it describes, and provides the vocabulary with which we can begin a detailed investigative exploration of the psyche.
There is really no astrological evidence that science is anything more than a medieval superstition, says my fellow astrologer Stephen James. If our curiosity stops at the hurdle of how could this work? we cannot apprehend astrology. Modern, mainstream thinking does not encourage us to entertain the possibility that astrology is useful. You might get busted by the Reality Police, who will pull you over and give you a citation for stepping outside proscribed domains of thinking. The only approach to proscribed knowledge is experimental verification for oneself. Jump across the chasm of doubt, land on the side of the astrological worldview, and see for yourself whether it works. Aspire to be a pragmatic philosopher who is willing to check out anything, as long as it is useful. Test every proposition in the fires of actual experience.
Better to create prophecy than to live predictions.
The word prediction comes from the same root as predicament, which is nearly always something unpleasant; prophecy, however, implies collaboration with the divine in order to co-create the most interesting, ingenious, and loving world possible. Our work together is thus a prophet-sharing venture.
In service to that goal, this book is an invitation to experiment, engage, and form alliances with forces that reside within our psyches. These forces connect us to very real corresponding external sources of support, which we will call gods. We need all the help we can get.
True help is always reciprocal: whatever we help serves us. The word therapy means healing, but its original meaning was to serve the gods. Similarly, the Mayan word for human meant one who owes the gods. We serve the gods, internally and externally, in a dance of reciprocal generosity. When we work for the gods, they work for us.
Through invocative essays, this book aspires to expand your range of intimacy with the god-forces represented by the ten planetary bodies other than the Earth (including the Sun and the Moon). We first summon these gods by simply thinking about them in their myriad mythological guises. In each planetary chapter, you will encounter the gods through myths and stories. You will also be given contemplations and rituals you can enact to collaborate with these creative forces in your life. Ritual brings the myth alive and vitalizes the dance with the archetype through which the specifically nuanced energy of the universe flows. Ritual further allows us to transcend passivity and become active agents in creating our own lives.
Each planet has its own mode of expression, so each chapter will have its own atmosphere, nuance, and structure. Begin by diving into the zodiac and then swim into the planets. If anything seems too complex or the terminology seems too astrological, simply let it was over you. You will absorb and retain what is most useful to you now.
All that is required to profit and prophet fully from this book is a sense of humor and a desire to do good in the world. This is neither a textbook nor a self-help book, but rather a guide to self-cultivation and gleeful participation in the larger world.
Creating this book has been a complete workout for me, and for almost everyone else even remotely involved in the process. Because one of our working principles is that we invoke whatever we think about, the material in this book makes for pretty lively living. Writing each chapter absolutely invoked the myths, virtues and demons of that less thematic force or god.
No less is expected from you, O playful reader, as you embark on this journey in which your soul will travel through obstacles and recollect its destiny in order to become a creator. Together we will stoke the fires of our imaginations and awaken our potential to become co-creators of a new emerging guiding mythos, a synthesis of collective aspiration.
From the Trade Paperback edition.