from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

for anyone who fears that their somewhere is nowhere...

Mercury, archetype of communication and movement, has been 'on station' after his retrograde phase (see here:, and is now about to move forward again. Expect some confusion still while we readjust to the new qualities of energy; and since the motions and aspects of some of the other outer planets, with a longer cycle, suggest that we may still feel, as we might have for a while, like something or someone is playing dice with our lives, with a pull first this way then a resistance that way, hold still for a bit longer and let things unfold. (That was an awful lot of commas.)

Wisdom consists of not being pulled apart by apparent contradictions, instead withstanding the conflict, and resting at, acting from, the centre of one's being. It's possible to learn not to push the river. (Perhaps. That's still mostly theory for me!)

Joseph Campbell once said: 'If the path ahead of you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.' So if yours is a little murky, maybe that's a consolation?

'Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength.'

Pema Chodron, 'The In-between State'


  1. Oh yes, Roselle, that does ring true and reminds me that while being in the middle and having a clearer view of things generally – in particular oneself – can invoke an uneasy sense of superior wisdom which might well be a dangerous illusion.
    (My turn to apologise – not for commas – but an awkwardly long first sentence!)
    But maybe that explains why my being in an in-between phase (as I think I am) feels distinctly queasy and unbalanced. My only way of coping is to step outside; only then do I feel able to balance better. Tai Chi every week really helps this.
    Could I ask, Roselle, without appearing to take it all too literally, does Mercury affects us all in the same way or does birth-sign have a bearing? I'm Cancer, J and son Jeremy (home indefinitely for time-being while he reappraises his life) are both Scorpios. Full of complexities and triangular problems not for airing here! And I have to say I'm still not sure about what I think of astrology, especially surrounded by disparaging sceptics. I'm unsure, I suppose, because I'm sceptical about being a sceptic.
    Yes, the way ahead does seem murky, doesn't it? Shall try not to 'push the river' (better phrase than the hackneyed 'go with the flow')
    Lots of love,

  2. Miriam, I always love reading your thoughtful and intelligent comments. Thank you for them, and for raising the thorny and interesting issues you do. I'm going to respond to this in two parts, as it's too long for one comment box!

    Tai Chi - yes, I can see how that would so help the balance on the middle way! And yes, i think it's important - for me anyway – to remember that my opinion is only my opinion, and we all have those! I smiled at the sceptical about being sceptical comment - I relate to that!

    Oh well you've opened a can of worms with that astro-q, which is why I didn't respond last night. There's a book to write on all this, and at the heart of it is our relationship to the planets as causative or acausal principles. That's difficult to address in many ways, of course, because it raises such big philosophical/ontological/cosmological issues that I can't possibly start to address here.

    My own view, as briefly as I can make it and as to some extent I've explored here before, is that we live in a participatory universe, in a vast web. All aspects of the web will in some ways mirror every dynamic and cycle, and we can look at some parts as being the 'natural order writ large' – where we can 'read' movements and tendencies more easily. All symbolic systems offer this insight – eg tarot and myths and archetypes, etc.

    In this view, the planets, seen as constellations of archetypal (and mythic) energies since – well, kind of forever, since the origins of storymaking, perhaps – in the human consciousness mirror aspects of the human psyche which of course is itself a mirror of larger wider more-than-human qualities. (There are many books on why which planet has ascribed to it which energy-dymanic.)

    For now, let's say that the principles behind the 'reading of the stars' – again in my own view, not universally seen like this – are to do with scared geometry, the principles of which, in music, you will be very well aware of (there's a very important co-incidence/connection/correspondence between music and the spheres, as I'm sure you also know; and it has a correspondence in our psyche).

  3. PART 2!

    So, according to this model, not only does each planet in itself exhibit a very distinct pattern of movement and quality of energy, but it will also find resonance in us. So, depending too on the geometric relationship between moving planets, the earth, and the qualities in us that, according to our natal charts (if we too partake of a particular celestial/cosmic climate at the moment of our birth), are particularly attuned to certain planets and degrees of aspect, we will tend towards certain relationships with the cosmic climate. This interconnected vieew of the universe was prevalent still during the European Renaissance, but we largely lost it at the Enlightenment (though it was still preserved in the music of eg Bach, and its sacred intervals – which is why it's so beautifully moving still; and also in Georgian architecture) and during the scientific revolution. OK so far?

    So to start to answer your q: interestingly, I'd have guessed at your being Gemini and J Libra; v interesting that I'm picking up something in the sign PRIOR to your own in both of you, and picking up an airy intellectual quality in you both too (Gemini and Libra, the previous signs, respectively). What's pretty certain is that you will both most likely have 'inner planets' - probably Mercury and/or Venus – the intellectual and the lover-of-beauty – in those air signs, closely tied as those planets are to the movement of the earth. But that's a digression, and it's interesting also to see you both under your sun signs and think 'oh yes, I can see that too!' (SO many of my family and close friends are sun-Scorpios!) And while I'm on this digression, I want to pick up your throwaway comment on triangular relationship: VERY interesting you used that word, as Cancer IS in triangular relation, on the zodiac, to Scorpio! - A relationship of 120 degrees.

    If we go back to my starting premise, that all is connected and everything is a mirror, should we so wish to see that, it brings me to: according to this theory, there are 'comfortable' harmonious aspects, which are the trines and sextiles – relationships between planets, and between houses, signs, and planetary aspects on the individual horoscope – where even traditionally 'tricky' movements are reasonably easy to relate to, but this trine relationship, like any aspect astrologically, demonstrates an intenser-than-usual (ie unaspected) relationship. Then there are aspects that traditionally are 'hard': disharmonious, conflict-ridden; but where we learn.

    So yes, the movement of Mercury through the heavens will mirror something that we may all be experiencing, whether or not we are conscious of it. Since it's been moving through Scorpio, those with Scorpio suns (or indeed other planets in their natal chart in Scorpio) will have been feeling it most keenly, perhaps; as will those with the sun or other planets in square to Mercury - a relationship of 90 degrees, very uncomfortable, or in opposition to – say in Taurus. Those with a number of planets in trine, in water signs - Cancer, Pisces – will be aware of the tug but it might not be as challenging, or perhaps it is simply more easily compensated for (harmonious relationships).

    But Miriam this is very simplistic, and it's impossible to say to what extent which planet/aspect will (appear to) have an impact on us and in what area of our life, without a full and detailed horoscope as a birth chart drawn up.

    Once upon a time I could do that, but not any more.

    Phew! Must walk the dog! Rx

  4. Oh and Miriam when I spoke of symbolic systems I should have included kabbalah and alchemy. Rx

    1. Wow, Roselle! Call that simplistic?! I shall have to read and re-read very carefully, but I'm so grateful to you for taking time to explain something from this hugely complex subject. I do tend to see Jung's synchronicity (have always felt a strong sympathy with this but dare not mention it in the company of most scientists and other hyper-rationalists) as connected with astrology. I also see that one of the main uses of astrological divination is in one's own very particular interpretation of it, which, if it helps one to understand something differently and proceed is all that matters. Rather like how I perceive the I Ching. I run a mile when people go on about evidence! Even J believes that evidence is not hard and fast or the whole truth.
      The thing I have to admit is that I know sod all about scared geometry, music and the spheres! I realise now that if I have any musical intelligence it's instinctive and emotional rather than intellectual, though I love analysis and looking at harmonic progressions: how the mood of the music can be reflected not only in the sound but visual appearance of certain notes. Bach's sacred intervals I have encountered many years ago and have forgotten. Shall look up. I know it, I'm pretty certain, but couldn't define it. Anno Domini, sadly. My brain really is going soft, I fear.

      Now, I've a tome of stuff to think about in your generous reply and I shall print it off and scrutinise, then come back for more!
      Incidentally, I'm thinking of arriving two days early on Iona (Thurs, i.e.); maybe if you're there then we could talk more about this. I'm also keen to talk again about music with you, though it's possible you'll be disillusioned by my lack of scholarship. No apology meant!
      Love and thanks,
      PS Tentatively: did you receive my email about Mentoring? There really is no hurry and your plans for the next year look enticing and all-absorbing (for you as well as us). It'll take months for me to get organised enough to send anything so really no hurry.

  5. Silly me, of course I know about sacred intervals, having found a brief ref (in none of my music history books) by googling. Intervals fascinate me: amongst other things, how they mirror each other, and so transform, in their inversions. Eg a minor 2nd (C to D flat, say) becomes a major 7th when inverted (D flat to C). Some will say that the spooky, rivetingly sinister interval – the diminished 5th (the devil's interval, Britten, I think, called it) – is the same both ways but it isn't, strictly speaking, because of its relation to augmented 4ths (same sound, different notes, enharmonically speaking: C sharp and D flat are the same note on the piano and in notation but are slightly different according to laws of physics.) Sorry, this is very technical but I bet you know it anyway.
    Anyway, as you say, a can of worms. We've barely scratched the surface.


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