Saturday, July 31, 2010

There's something weird about (Saturn moon) Rhea, alright

by Milky Way Maid

Scientists suspected there might be a ring of debris around Saturn's moon Rhea. But when the Cassini spacecraft flew by and took pictures, it found nothing. Hmmm.

From the article in the Monitor: "There are very strong and interesting and unexplained electromagnetic effects going on around Rhea," said Matthew Tiscareno from Cornell University, who led the imaging campaign. "But we're making a pretty strong case that it's not because of solid material orbiting the moon….For the amount of dust that you need to account for [the earlier] observations, if it were there, we would have seen it."

Full story is at

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Chicken-Soup Sign Cancer: The Crab, The Scarab, Other Shelled Critters, and The Crib

by Milky Way Maid

It may crush native Cancerians' sensitive feelings to learn that the the brightest star in the constellation Cancer, Lucida, is only a fourth magnitude star. It takes a sharp eye, or a telescope, to track the passage of Cancer across the summer sky. Come to think of it, four is both the magnitude of its star and the house of the zodiac which it rules. So there may be a certain apropos quality to the number four here.

Yet dim as it was, the Egyptians used Lucida to mark the summer solstice from about 2000 BC to 1000 BC. The Egyptians did not call it the Crab, they called it the Scarab, or actually Scarabaeus. The Scarab is the sacred beetle that rolls a ball of dung around, a ball in which it has laid its eggs for the next generation. Other Egyptian sources may have called it the Stars of the Water, or the Two Turtles, according to Rupert Gleadow in The Origin of the Zodiac. (Egypt does have river turtles, which are hard shelled critters just as crabs are.)

By the time the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes wrote of this constellation, it was called the Crab. He described it as being made up of two asses and a crib. The crib portion lies near the top, between the two asses, and is named Praesepe which is Latin for "the manger". The nebula in Cancer is known as the Beehive, flanked by the two donkeys, Asellus Australis (the southern donkey) and Asellus Borealis (the northern donkey).

The image of the manger and asses was transformed into one of a Nativity scene, a manger where the baby Jesus was laid, during the Christian era.

The Cancer native might not like to show their feelings outwardly. They retreat inside their shells, or cocoon inside their homes, and watch TV or surf the web. They may sublimate them into eating or overeating. They may become toxic people who poison the atmosphere around them with their unexpressed/suppressed, unprocessed feelings.
And yet they can be the most understanding and supportive friends and parents, who soothe your brow and offer chicken soup (either literal or metaphorical). They do not generally try to solve your problems for you, though they often offer the best advice you ever got.

They are the homemakers and hoteliers and restaurateurs of the world. They know just what will make a place feel like home, and they know how to make a cold impersonal hotel room liveable when THEY are travelling. They pack a few family pictures along, and maybe a special pillow, and some tea bags, and they'll be alright.

All too often Cancer is short-changed when one is evaluating the special skills of each sign. His or her executive ability is too often unrecognized. After all, one of the biggest skills a successful homemaker has is time management. What else? Well, there's people skills, akin to personnel management or supervisory experience. Often they set budgets and weekly menus. They actually do so many tasks that there is not enough space in this column to list them all, and I don't want to give myself a headache trying to do so.

Rulerships and Keywords: Feminine. Receptive. Watery. Parts of body: stomach, breasts, nutrition, digestion, uterus. Bakeries, boats, buildings, lakes, ocean, pools, plumbing or sinks. Country, home, mom, apple pie. All water creatures but especially the tortoise, blue topaz, lychnis, green jasper, euchite, agate, chalcedony, amber, the lotus flower. The Greeks, at least according to a list by Manilius*, assigned Mercury (Hermes) to rule over Cancer. The Greeks assigned it the herbs comfrey and mandragora oficinalis.

*The full Manilius list, as recounted by Plato, is as follows: Pallas rules the woolly Ram, and Venus guards the Bull,/ Apollo has the handsome Twins, and Mercury the Crab,/ Jove, with the Mother of the Gods, himself is Leo's lord;/ The Virgin with her Ear of Corn to Ceres falls; the Scales/ to Vulcan's smithy; while to Mars the warlike Scorpion cleaves;/ The Hunter's human part Diana rules, but what's of horse/ Is ruled by Vesta, with the straitened stars of Capricorn;/ Aquarius is Juno's sign, as opposite to Jove,/ And Neptune owns the pair of Fish that in the heavens move.

It is interesting that under this regime, Libra is given to Vulcan the smithy, since it is the only man-made object among these constellations. Pallas seems apropos to Aries, since she sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus her father, and was usually clad in full armor. Venus to Taurus, and Mars to Scorpio, and Neptune to Pisces, are as we have it now, and I can understand Apollo for the Twins (His chariot is pulled by TWO horses) although Apollo's sister was Pallas Athena. Jupiter as ruler of Leo seems odd but then again Leo is the kingly sign. It's really kind of cute that they assign Ceres to Virgo; it seems so obvious. Diana also seems an obvious choice for Sag, tho we have no idea what they were thinking of by assigning Vesta to to either Sag or Capricorn. What does Vesta have to do with goats or horses or any livestock?? Tis a puzzlement indeed. And what about this Mercury rulership over Cancer? Well, Cancer's many 'hands' make her a multi-tasking demon. Other than that, nothing comes to mind.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review: “Occult America” follows hidden thread of spiritual seeking throughout American history

by Milky Way Maid

A new book by Mitch Horowitz, "Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation," reveals a previously ignored thread in American history, the progress of the personal spiritual search. Horowitz writes that “The arcane philosophies grouped under the name of occultism represent an unheralded thought movement in America's national life, one that not only placed horoscopes into nearly every daily newspaper, but that transformed a young nation into the launching pad for the revolutions in alternative spirituality that spanned the globe in the 20th century.”

The medieval church had succeeded in squeezing every type of nature worship, astrology and cosmology and related arts, into a dark basement with Satanists and black magic purveyors. But during the Renaissance, church reforms allowed studies of Greek and Roman pantheons, culture, and science; later they discovered old Egyptian texts. Europeans became fascinated with the idea of a subculture of adepts in all the hidden arts or crafts. In spite of astrologers being forced out of respectable colleges during the so-called Enlightenment, European royalty “maintained discreet ties to occult societies and impresarios.”

Across the sea, a new nation became home for religious refugees from Germany and elsewhere. In 1694, and group of Germans were led by Johannes Kelpius to Pennsylvania, where they could practice the arts of astrology, alchemy, numerology, and mystical Christianity. They were followed soon after by the Quakers. Upper New York state was quite a hotbed of religious fervor, giving rise to the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Spiritualism, Mesmerism, and assorted other 'cults'.

Nowadays it is an open secret that many of the Founding Fathers were members of the Freemasons. Their occult symbols still decorate our paper money, and it is said that their geometry is hidden in the layout of the national capitol in Washington, D.C.

The mid-1800's produced another spurt of spiritual self-discovery in Transcendentalism, shepherded by intellectuals like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Their brand of religiousity was separate from organized religion; in fact they insisted that the only true place of communion was within, not in a church. Transcendentalists drew upon terms from 'Hindoo' texts as well as Hermetic principles.

During the same period, Spiritualism was born and flourished in a phenomenon that has not been matched. A craze for seances, table rapping, and mediumship could never satisfy the incredible yearning for communication with those who have passed on. And I might add, that it is a yearning that is still being actively taken advantage of in the modern media.

Fortunately other, more intellectual, threads of occult wisdom balanced them out. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky created the Theosophical Society, the intellectual equal of Emerson and Thoreau. Blavatsky came to America in 1873, and two years later founded her Society in New York City. It was dedicated to reintroducing Hindu and Buddhist ideas not only here but in India, to which the Society moved within a few years of its founding in the States. Its influence was enormous but in surprising ways. A young Mohandas Gandhi came into contact with her followers while he was still studying in London in 1889. Gandhi credited the Theosophists with bringing him back to Hinduism.

Another thread of American spiritual activism is called New Thought. Founded by a New England clockmaker named Phineas Quimby, it focused on mental healing, sometimes with the aid of Mesmerism. Quimby treated a young lady named Mary Baker Eddy, who drew upon her experiences to found the Christian Science church. You may find related elements in Norman Vincent Peale's power of positive thinking, Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Dale Carnegie, (How to Win Friends...), and for that matter in Wayne Dyer (You'll See It When You Believe It), Norman Cousins (humor therapy) and The Secret.

The modern landscape is littered with both successful and moribund belief systems, but at least we have all had a chance to try them out for ourselves. And how many bookstores, not to mention talk shows, would have been boarded up if not for sales of myriad titles on how to fix your own head. The unfortunate result, in my opinion, is that Americans have settled for philosophy a la carte, or to put it another way, believe whatever you want to believe. We are too lazy for rigorous mental exercise, and probably won't even read someone's book if he/she is not also an entertaining speaker. That is our loss. America has been truly blessed with some gifted and wise people, and we would do well to dig out their old books and learn from them.

Moon Will Make It a Grand Cross in Cardinal Signs in August, 2010

by Milky Way Maid

A Grand Cross is not the end of the world kind of aspect, but it a challenge. Fortunately, the cardinal signs rather like a challenge. As a personal reference, I once knew a first-degree Aries whose hobby was shopping and holding rummage sales. She often offered an item that was her personal challenge piece, by that I mean something that she challenged herself to sell. I recall one time it was a small Christmas tree, something so pathetic it was cute, in a Charlie Brown kind of way. She was eventually offered two dollars for it, and she had to force herself to not seem overly eager to take the money. So then once she sold that, she took on another challenge piece; I think it was a pair of black tiki god tumblers, the kind you sometimes get as a souvenir in theme restaurants.

Looking down the road at August, we find a Grand Cross forming in early degrees of the cardinal signs. On August 6, 2010 Uranus and Jupiter will be in Aries (at zero and three degrees, respectively); the Moon will be at three degrees of Cancer, opposing Pluto at three degrees of Capricorn, and then there is a trio of Mars, Saturn and Venus in Libra (at 5, 1 and zero degrees, respectively).

President Obama's natal Venus is at 2 degrees of Cancer, and in have natal Mars in an early degree of a cardinal sign, too. I will let you know how that plays out for me. I recall Saturn transits over that Mars which left me feeling extremely tired; had to make myself get plenty of sleep to cope with that one. Fortunately that was a short transit!

Possibly some of you know cardinal natives who are rather difficult to be around lately. Aries natives particularly did not like when Saturn first ventured into Libra, their opposite sign. Oh, do they hate when their way is blocked! Right now I have some Capricorn friends who have been going through some tough times; one has been dealing with a divorce and forced sale of his home, and another has been getting sporadic work. Please try to exercise your compassion muscles wherever you can.

Please also note that on Aug. 3, Jupiter squares Pluto, and the following day, Mars squares Pluto at three degrees Libra/Capricorn. Kaye Shinker of astrologicalinvesting dot com believes that the public (Moon) will be incensed that they have been hoodwinked by the Wall Street crooks. She feels that the scandals perpetrated by Bernie Madoff, Enron, Worldcom et al have been just the tip of the iceberg.

Astrologers all over cyberspace are weighing in with their predictions and interpretations. Maurice Fernandez says in his article, “Time of Radical Shift: A Look into the Coming Cycle” that “the situation heating up is like a piece of molten iron that can be beaten into a better form, personally and collectively.” Raye Mathis, writing in Venture Inward magazine, states that the cross is a time of great change when life is giving you a kick in the behind to force you to deal with the deep hole you have dug for yourself. She states that it is a time when one can re-create oneself and make deep inner changes.

What else might be affected by this Grand Cross? I have speculated that since Libra is the sign of marriage, and Jupiter rules law, and Uranus is the unusual or the shake-up, that same-sex marriage may be a burning issue this summer. Either same-sex marriage will become the law of the land or it will be outlawed. On a personal level, many of us may face trials in our marriages, and some may break up/separate (Uranus) or have a divorce finalized (Saturn).

Rather than sacrifice a long-term marriage that has been basically happy, it might be better to go off to separate retreats during this transit, to avoid saying terrible things that one cannot retract. Wait until after the transit has passed before making any final decisions on separating. Go to couples therapy afterward, or to a marriage enrichment weekend, to relearn how to reach each other emotionally.
Carl Jung described the cross as two pairs of opposites, which only meet at the center.

I am reminded of the sages of India, who point out that the only way to keep from getting unmercifully tossed off the spinning Wheel of life is to move toward the serene center, from which vantage point one may observe the maelstrom churning around you.

So again, try to keep the image of the spinning wheel of life in your mind's eye as all of us get tossed around this Grand Cross this summer. The center is the place to be. Whatever works for you to get tuned into your center is what you want to do plenty of. Some options: Meditation, craniosacral massage (or just using your still-point inducer), or going to a quiet nature preserve or a daily nature walk.