Friday, February 21, 2020


So many familiar faces
I have known you all, as you have known me
Time and again, 
We meet when the Moon is hidden
And darkness is strong.

To you, so new, it seems I come from days long gone
From deep pits of forbidden spaces, almost forgotten
Yet I am always here, stirring your deep dreams
Your dreaming self knows me well, very well.

I am Hecate, Grandmother of all
Queen of the Night 
(strikes staff on floor 3x)

Queen of the dark and unborn Moon:

You will find me standing
With my lovely, fearsome, baying hounds
Where three roads meet
Speak well or not at all
And take the road I show you.

Mine is the realm of deep uncertainty
The changing before becoming
The choice of oblivion (strikes staff on floor 3x)
When the wheel of birth and death is turning
You’ll find me haunting the crank
Do not ask, just listen, and know.

It is I who hear Persephone’s underworld cries
It is I who see dim shapes of futures forming
I who bring the nightmare
And soothe the sleepless, disheveled souls.

I am your torchbearer and guide to the nether world
Where the visible meets the invisible
Where all things quicken and begin to grow
Always first in darkness.

Listen! I am speaking to you
(strikes staff on floor 3x)

From the dark side of the moon
From the hidden side of your life
From the ancient end of time
Your challenge is to know me
For only ignorance is truly dark.

by Diane Darling (2001)

The above performance excerpt is from "The Masque of the Goddess", Directed by Diane Darling and performed by members of her community in Sebastopol, California, in 2001.  Having recently finished a sculpture of Hecate,  I remembered this powerful performance and felt like posting the text.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reflections on Illness

I keep wishing I could post an inspiring article here, but truth be told, I've been sick.  For two months, and not much improvement yet.  With, after my doctor's tests and a visit to the ER, what they think is a mystery flu, and possibly a neck injury.  Maybe.  I can't eat.  I constantly have fever and chills.  Body aches, and a piercing headache that wakes me up without fail at 3 am every night (which I've gotten used to.  At least it's quiet, and as I wait for the aspirin and coffee to kick in, I continue to catch up on Mercedes Lacky's adventures in Valdemar.  What an imagination she has!  And I've come to feel quite fond of those Heralds and their Companions.)

Now we follow the labryinth like course of trying see what else it might be.............Listeria food poisoning infection? (it seems that those salad bars aren't always as healthy as you might think.  )  It can be confusing indeed trying to get tests for things.  Did you know that to get a blood test for Listeria you first have to be admitted to a hospital?  Catch 22.  You have to be very seriously ill before they'll test you.   I've started seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner, and am hopeful that the acupuncture treatments she gave me, and the Chinese herbs, will help.  And I'll keep pounding the pavements to see if I can get tested for things other than the endless flu, which all assure me, there is nothing they can do about.

I've been blessed in my life with a strong, Leonine constitution - this weakness and chronic pain is an experience I have not had much of, and I am amazed at two things.  I never realized before how fortunate I've been, and how much I've taken for granted. I think I've always driven my body like a truck - give it gas, give it some oil, and plow on regardless of all the ruts on the road.

The other realization is that, when you are sick and in pain, pretty much everything else goes right out the door in importance.  Your consciousness becomes focussed on finding, here and now, ways to NOT be in pain, and the body one inhabits rightfully makes its demands for loving attention.  This 70 year old body is now demanding its due on many levels, including spiritual and psychic.

Back in the end of December I had a revelation when I, literally, stumbled into a Benedictine Monestery  in an out of the way corner of the world, and found myself longing, deeply, for a contemplative life.  Shortly after that I ended my Facebook account, and reduced many of my contacts, even though this will undoubtedly impact my income.  I find I do not miss it...........I really have about 5 friends, not 500.  

I applied to a number of rural artist residencies for the summer (I recognize that most of them want 40 year olds, not 70 year olds, but what the heck.  Worth trying.)  If no one wants me, I'll still get into my car, Goddess willing, and drive East, probably ending up at my beloved Brushwood and Lilydale.  I'll do it slowly, with the attitude of a pilgrimage.  There are some wonderful parks, full of vibrant life, between here and New York.   Who knows, if my health returns, that trip may go so far as Avebury, or Glastonbury, or the Camino. 

Life is short.

Hindus believed that there were three stages of life:  Student, Householder, and Pilgrim.  You learn, you earn and pursue a career or family and contribute, and at a certain age, you leave, giving up a worldly life, and move into the life of contemplation and pilgrimage.  I understand that, now.  This is what has been calling me.

I don't know where that trail is going to take me, but unless this illness is fatal (which I assume it most certainly is not).......... after I finish my obligations that carry into May,  I AM RETIRED.  I will probably forgo AIRBNB for a few permanent tenants in my little "Enclave".  And I will have a great deal more time to write, think, and most importantly, talk to my cats and plants.  

 I am done with promoting things, with ambition,  with schedules.  I wish to find places of peace and contemplation that remove me from the the endless cacophony.............and I will do so, some of it, right here in my own back yard.  

Life is short, and a privilege.


In all likelihood, what I had was Covid, before it became widely known.  I am glad I survived.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Eric Francis on American Instability

Planet Waves

An article I felt like posting because it seems very relevant to me.

Americans Can Sure Take a Beating

 (and your February monthly horoscope by Eric Francis)

Jan. 30, 2020 

Dear Friend and Reader:
Yesterday we took a trip to Khortytsia, an island along the Dneiper,  in the Ukraine. We visited some graves that date back to 3000 BCE, long before the Cossacks. I had the feeling of being in a place where a lot has happened. It is worn and tired land that needs to be left alone for a few centuries. That is probably not happening anytime soon.
The kinds of instability Ukraine has endured the past century are outside the ability of most Americans to conceive. Yet based on its astrology, the United States is at a breaking point where the way of life we have known noticeably changes.

This is not about any infiltration from the outside. It’s about our state of mind. We simply must grow up, or be put in a series of increasingly compromised positions. It’s time to embrace the idea that things can get a lot worse, even if met by our best efforts to make them better.

Pluto Transits: The Point of Enforced Growth

The current astrological backdrop still involves Capricorn. Through February, Saturn remains in Capricorn; its first ingress into Aquarius will be March 21.
The immediate Saturn-Pluto conjunction that we’re experiencing is part of something much larger, which is the U.S. Pluto return. Pluto has a 248-year orbit, and transiting Pluto (the actual planet) is in the process of returning to its natal position at the time of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and Articles of Confederation (1777), our first constitution.
If things are going well, if one has graduated from the Saturn return and has fired one’s parents as overlords and likes going to work every day, the Pluto square is a point of leverage. If one has not taken on the role of their own inner Saturn, the Pluto square can be a kind of rolling disaster.
Most people don’t make it to their Pluto oppositions; if you live a very long time, you might. (Ram Dass was close.) Very few institutions of any kind make it to their Pluto return, but the United States is unusual in that we have maintained a continuous government for nearly one Pluto cycle. For comparison, France is currently in its Fifth Republic since its 1789 revolution; the UK reconstituted itself in 1801.
I’ve traced a few past U.S. Pluto transits in this article. They are always turning points, but the return is the return. They always present challenges and in the minds of the early practitioners of astrology, were not especially friendly. (All planetary returns were described as evil by 2nd century master Vettius Valens.)
Having Pluto in Capricorn as a natal placement makes sense for the United States. Though we have a lot of legitimate complaints about our federal system, its abuses and its genocides, electing a leader was a radical notion in that era. The framers seemed intent on avoiding a monarchy and hereditary entitlement to office. They understood the concept and reality of a tyrant, who in effect was the law, and owned the government as private property.

Separation of Powers

The defining spirit of our government is not so much “democracy” but rather separation of powers. The most cursory study of the United States Constitution (Articles 1, 2 and 3) delineates the three branches of government, which are co-equal, which have oversight power over one another, and create a system of checks and balances. That alone is our insulation against tyranny; against any one branch deciding that it is the law. Political parties can to a real degree subvert this separation, which is what we are seeing currently. The Republican-controlled Senate is trying a Republican president before a Republican chief justice. (And everything is the fault of the Democrats!)
Now, at the Pluto return, this structure, this notion of equal branches, is getting a stress test. We are seeing just how eroded it has become. We are paying the price for having neglected important separation of power provisions — such as forgetting that Congress alone has the authority to wage war, and relegating this to the Executive.
For those who understand that the American system is not perfect and has led to much exploitation, mayhem, murder and genocide, you might be especially concerned now that the few actual safeguards against this are being smashed.
The defense is arguing, essentially, that the president can do whatever he wants, because he is the president and it’s automatically right. Does this now “trickle down” to your state government, your city and county government, or the school board? Might makes right is not the rule of law. Far to the contrary.
Here in the States, we have a love affair with the cops. We are just smitten; there is a new series created every 15 minutes. Between Forensic Files, Cold Case Files, 48 Hours, The FBI Files, Miami Vice, The X-Files, Car 54, Twin Peaks, The Mod Squad, Adam-12, Dragnet, Cops, Charlie’s Angels, Hill Street Blues, Reno 911!, and various permutations of CSI and Law & Order, you would think that the American public might take interest in the law.
As in, the actual law, not some fictionalized concept. The law has a purpose, which is to present us with a set of boundaries and agreements for us to live by — and to keep powerful people from going out of control.
We understand that it’s one thing to get a speeding ticket, and we also understand that you don’t offer to bribe the cop by the side of the road. We understand that you can go to court and, if you know what you’re doing, you can get the ticket reduced or dismissed. And if you’re sick of getting tickets, you slow down.
This is not a fine point of our society. It is the essence. The law is not supposed to be made up on the spot. There are procedures, and we usually have access to them, enhanced by knowing what they are and being motivated. Often this takes money, which is a serious flaw; and there are lawyers who take cases pro bono, there are organizations, and we have the press to bring attention to issues, which sometimes works. In any event, the main requirement is not being ignorant. And that, it turns out, is a lot of work.
I understand, from decades of covering criminal, civil and administrative law in-depth, how serious the problems are. And yet they would be worse without the protections that our system makes possible.
More than a decade of Pluto in Capricorn has made a bad (but often workable) situation worse. And now we are seeing the results of that.

We Must Do Our Part

The law is not something that ultimately exists outside of us. It has to be internal, and mature people understand something of natural law. One does not refrain from stealing because it is illegal; one refrains because it’s wrong, and we understand that.
Every action of every person cannot be enforced on penalty or at the point of a gun. So the law, honoring the law, enforcing the law, and personal responsibility all play a part.
However, we have a little problem where crimes by very powerful players are concerned. What we call “white collar crime” — essentially, criminal acts by rich people or government officials — often goes unpunished and even more often, unrecognized.
We have a clue that a problem exists, though who exactly was punished for the grand rip-off described in The Big Short? That is, the economic meltdown of 2008 from which many profited wildly, and continue to do so?
On one level, it’s unsurprising that for so many people, the conduct of the president and his administration does not map as wrong. Oh, strong-arming a client state into doing what the president wants? That’s normal, right? Not as a matter of American foreign policy but to benefit his political prospects personally. It is amazing any taxpayer tolerates this. We all know it is wrong, whatever smooth talking, soft peddling and utterly boring lawyers may claim.
Then there is this idea that “he’s the president and he can do anything.” Then there is the cult of personality level. With Trump, more than most presidents, you “love” him or you hate him. But what, exactly, is the love about?
The United States has a love affair with the cops, but is this really about the law, or the exercise of authority? Because we have an even bigger lust for authority itself. This is ironic given how we claim to be a free people and to love freedom and we sing about “the free and the brave” at every sports event, from the Superbowl to Little League.
That’s the thing — freedom requires bravery. That line from a song is about something. Freedom also demands something more important — a sense of responsibility, both for yourself and for something greater. It is not enough to partake in the American Dream merely by making money (which for most these days, in reality, means surviving).

Americans Let Their Leaders Get Away With a Lot

What we are seeing today did not emerge from a vacuum. We are experiencing decades of abuses, and the gutting of basic American foundational traditions. Even if we go back to the Reagan administration, which began a project of smashing the social safety net of presidents Roosevelt and Johnson, we can learn a lot.
In that one Saturn-Pluto cycle, nearly everything has been privatized. Nearly everything is by design a capitalist enterprise, existing not for its own sake but for profit. The sales pitch here is always, “Vote for me, and you too can be rich.” The reality is more like, we will sell the Post Office / parking meters / turnpike to the highest bidder.
Over and over again. Vote for me and you can and will be rich! Vote with your wallet! And then we get endless rolling tax cuts for the extremely wealthy — which is a major factor in what we are witnessing. Most of the Senate personally benefitted from the Trump tax cuts, and for that to have happened, one had to be extremely wealthy. But still, we believe it, and it seems we support these measures both because they are deceptive and because we believe that someday we too might be that rich.
This is pure hypnosis. Notions of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” are part of the long American sleepwalk into the current moment.

The Other Love Affair

Our other love affair seems to be with being lied to. If a sucker is born every minute, we also have a passion for hucksters — with the whole breed of Professors Harold Hill and profferers of snake oil that have roamed the land through our history. Yes, con artists have been around forever, but it seems only in the United States do we elevate them to the level of cultural icons and kick them $200 from our debit card at 4 am to cure heart disease.
The thing that disturbs you about Donald Trump, if anything does, is that he’s a con man. This is plainly obvious to everyone who is looking and who can see. Most New Yorkers knew this by 1990. But a lot of things get in the way of looking, or seeing, or remembering. Most of them are family issues, which are infused with the refusal to grow up.
In my observation, Americans can sure take a lot of abuse — in particular, the abuse of being lied to, over and over, no matter how much we lose, no matter how much pain this causes, no matter who gets killed. Sure! Saddam Hussein knocked down the World Trade Center! Whatever, it sounds good. He looked just like Hitler on the cover of Time.
There is a great extent to which you get what you want from life. To get something better, we have to be honest about what that is, and make some choices about what else it could be. And that is difficult to do when people have not only been beaten down, but long ago decided that something better was not possible.
And then there are all those who are “content” with what they have, or afraid of any change at all. This is a common situation that has vexed mankind for eons. Every now and then, someone fights back, and it’s a big story.
Anyway, the con artist is on trial. All of his lies are exposed. Consistent with his 30 Leo ascendant, described by the image “An Unsealed Letter,” we know it all. We know the conduct, and we have had the crime explained to us — ongoing.
Now, all we need to do is care. I mean actually care, enough to get angry and to push back and take action. That is asking a lot, when so many people are pleasantly hypnotized, or who think there will be some great reward for their complicity. But not nearly as much as we would be giving up. There is no great reward for anyone at the end of this.
The U.S. Pluto return is about taking responsibility or paying the price for not doing so. A lot is at stake. I am curious who really cares. 
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