It is one of the oldest tricks in the book to re-name something of ‘power’ and conceal its affective capabilities and influences behind its own negative or opposite effect and meaning. The entire history of so called ‘western civilizations’ is shot through with this subversive strategy; religions have been built upon it, wars have been fought in pursuit of it and people have been disenfranchised of their rights and rites as a result of it. These tangled webs of deceit are now unravelling in the world, it is a failing strategy, and yet, at the same time those pathways of empowerment that once fed the roots, trunk and branches of the Tree of Life are opening again for the people, you and I, to walk in freedom. There is one small caveat however ~ for that freedom to be fully restored, the planetary soul must be cleansed of the divisive disease that has sought to disempower the people in this way.
Between the lunar eclipse at the midpoint of the 10th lunation and through to the full Moon of the 11th lunation the celestial story has followed a labyrinthine pathway that leads deep into the belly of the goddess, the heart of the ‘mysteries’. We have followed the red thread woven within the planetary matrix and seen how, if the myths themselves are stripped back to their older forms, the patterns made by the planets, stars and interplanetary bodies reveal the pathway as well as the history of subversion through which it has become hidden.
At full Moon on the 6th of November we arrive at the ultimate threshold of this ancient pathway. This is a place that signifies timely ‘endings and beginnings’ and the augeries tell us of arrival at a point in which ‘crossing over‘ becomes the central theme of this Full Moon. This is the the same road that later became known as the ‘via combusta’, the ‘burning road’, and in so doing, an attempt was made to obscure its original meaning and significance. But, such roads are built with soul stuff ~ though their outward forms may change, beneath all they do not die.
At this time there is a perfect synchrony at work and, throughout Samhain 2014, an almost uncanny series of conjunctions have been revealing the cosmological power and beauty of the journey. It began with the full Moon and lunar eclipse in mid Libra with Weaves the Web and we entered the heart of the labyrinth on the new Moon and solar eclipse at 0° Scorpio with The Red Thread. Now, older resonances connect into the earth realms through the current chart, a rich vein of symbols and ritual remembered in earth and stone. The Moon is exhalted in Taurus and Sun, Moon, Earth and stars bring the planetary matrix alive as we walk the this sacred pathway at the thinning of the veils and reach the place of re-emergence under the light of the exhalted full Moon once more.
In the previous posting here, An Ecology of Power, the chart for Samhain was cast for zero hours UTC on 1st November, this being the calendric date most commonly associated with the cross-quarter fire festival in its more familiar guises of Halloween and All Souls. The astrological midpoint between the September equinox and December solstice, however, falls at 15° tropical Scorpio and with the Sun reaching this point in the zodiac the full Moon, exact at 22:24 UTC on November 6th, aligns perfectly with this place in the celestial wheel. This is also the terminal point on the Via Combusta.
The Via Combusta, now considered to occupy the degrees between 15 Libra and 15 Scorpio, was already know to Al Biruni, one of the founders of geodetics and a great scholar of comparative calendrics, the earth sciences and astronomy. Al Biruni was well travelled and in his time, the 11th century, saw a flourishing of these sciences as medieval Islamic culture brought knowledge from the east alive within the western lands again – so, while we can celebrate the return of the knowledge he brought, we can also surmise that the roots of the deception around the ‘via combusta’ is old. Its latin root is a ‘dead’ giveaway. While talismanic magic that used astrology and connected with pagan practices and ways was still present in the west, the work of evangelical christian scholars and scribes had already spent at least five centuries scourging the art and the people’s ways of much of its past meanings. The ‘burning road’ sums it up.
The negative astrological meanings attached to this zone derived from the Sun and Moon, which were interpreted as being in their fall in Libra and Scorpio respectively. That they became associated with downfall is a convenient astrological truism in this context. Being opposite the signs in which the Sun and Moon are exhalted, Aries and Taurus, the fall indicates a loss of power and influence. Affairs undertaken in connection with this zone were considered doomed to crashing failure……but, as we have found here before, once the lie is stripped away, we discover that this could not be farther from the truth and this is further illustrated in the story unfolding now.
Here, the Sabian symbols for both the Sun and Moon speak of the necessity for maturation, uniting the young and the old in the common search for freedom and empowerment. The youthful stages of becoming human, based on learning through experience, are highlighted through the Sun ~ in the human journey this is about building a body of knowledge. The Moon highlights the challenge to put teachings ‘hard won through experience’ into action ~ this is about pro-actively being that body of knowledge. The key words for 15 Scorpio are ‘Future Oriented Growth’, and, for 15 Taurus ‘Character’.
In fact there is a mirroring of the one in the other, each side reflecting the astrological significance of its opposite sign. Modern psychology, shored up by our contemporary mythological interpretations, have pitted light and shadow against each other in planetary oppositions ~ however, in Living Astrology we look to an innate understanding less coloured by an antagonistic psychological dynamic of polarities in which the meanings of the one are the soil in which the seeds of the other are sown and grow. Here we are looking at integration within the whole.
The seeds of future maturity are sown in the Taurean field of physical experience that will become the living library of the elder in later life. The fields of Scorpio hold the keys to knowledge of life and death where we encounter the will to transcend the limitations of the physical while returning to and remaining in it. Both talk of embodying a deeper understanding of Life’s cycles of becoming as an expression of movement within the spiral path of creation. The challenge is to transcend the limits and limitations belonging to both these realms of experience and to, in the process, forge, develop and use well the tempered edge of an empowered soul in the world. In essense, completing the circle of life so that it can be renewed is at the heart of the rites attached to Samhain which embody the deeper knowledge, and this year in particular is resonant with the empowering energy of this undertaking.
In our time, within the secular life of our technological age, we live a more surface oriented lifestyle. The significance of the transitions that mark the major thresholds of experience are now woven into the everyday, but, almost to the point of invisibility. We still enter the same phases of growth and maturity, transiting from child to youth, youth to adulthood, and adulthood to elderhood, but, unless ours is a culture with strong traditions in which a living link with its indigenous roots is present, it is unlikely that we will find these thresholds celebrated, held within community and honoured as such. However, astrology can help us reconnect and find our way ~ significantly, the qualities spoken of here are also archetypal characteristics of the eighth house and Scorpio, embodied in living tradition on a cultural level and linked through ancestral inheritance in the personal sphere.
Some astrologers have speculated that the pathway of transformation buried beneath the ‘via combusta’ once ran the entire length of Scorpio, a notion that was already changing amongst Al Biruni’s contemporaries, but, which reached back to times when precession of the equinoxes saw the zodiac align the equinox with the first degrees of Scorpio in the zodiac wheel. We see through the patina of time and the accumulated propaganda of a history written by the self appointed ‘victors’.
Through the Sun and Moon illuminating these thresholds again, an opportunity to find new forms for the rites emerges. On the global as well as personal level this means healing the split between this world and the ancestral, between this and the subtle realms of spirit. It is a deep rift, but, the entire Samhain period, is primed time for us to dedicate ourselves to healing the wound.
On November 6th the Sun and Moon also link in with Chiron at 13 Pisces. Here, experience enables the healer to act through the role of mentor and it is mentors, those made wise through experience, who hold the ritual space. Not everyone is made wise through the benefits of experience however.
Ours is a time in which cultural vaccination against developing experience and mature wisdom is inbuilt into the dominant culture ~ not only have we been lulled into a passive relationship with the learning available, inured against strengthening our own ‘knowing’ immune system, but, we insure against accident and take out ‘life’ insurance policies. With the current full Moon trine Pluto and the Sun quincunx Uranus and sextile Pluto we are brought face to face with the absurdity of this notion. The field is primed for change.
There is also, deeply seated within popular culture, an inherent obsession with eternal youth, and a pernicious accompanying prejudice against aging. At the same time the cultural State regulated agenda sees maturity used as the instrument of oppression – the puer (eternal youth) culture is ruled over by the senex (the old man), more in an expression of jealousy and resistance to passing on wisdom, than of fulfilling the mentoring role the senex is equally capable of.
In some manner Mercury recalls the eternal youth and Saturn the senex, or ‘wise’ old man. The Greco-Roman myths, however, are rife with the jealous rivalry between the generations. In a culture based on competition, this is perhaps understandable. But, the ideal and precursor of this relationship, collaborative partnership, is better represented in the interaction between mentor and mentee. In fact, to further illustrate the subterfuge, the word ‘competition’ in its own root form means ‘to petition the gods together‘. The mentor is the guide in how this is fulfilled.
The shift represented here is also from lateral co-operative to vertical heirarchical relations and parallels the transition from the matriarchal to the patriarchal epochs, both in their respective relations with Nature and through the way in which relations with the divine and with spirit was enshrined and culturally endorsed. This has had serious effect on how we experience ‘power’ and our own manifestations of it out of balance. That shift was long in developing, but, when its polarity did arrive it was swift, and radical in its effects ~ those effects have shaped the modern world.
But, this world is crying out for a rebalancing to emerge, between male and female, young and old, and a re-honouring of the indigenous knowledge of ‘collaborative relationship‘ that enshrines maturity within a culture and society, and, at a more profound level, within Nature.
Saturn’s largely unaspected influence in the full Moon chart emphasises how the pragmatic nature of maturation through experience affects all fields of life. Gaining maturity, in our sense, also means becoming empowered, a consequence the post industrial senex State will do everything to suppress, if not kill off ~ control, Saturn style, rules when fear invokes his shadow. Saturn’s own myth illustrates the close ties between fear and arrogant misplaced pride, but, this too is changing ~ our world demands it of us!
It is time we learnt from if not re-wrote the myths and, in so doing, released our psyches from their hegemonic influences and renewed our own mythos ~ one way to do this is through ‘re-riting’ life. Re-instating the rites of life, through their celebration, renewing their forms, and honouring of the cycles of life and our own places in them, is essential work whose fulfillment is in our own hands and no others.
The poigiancy of this is emphasised through Mars at 8 Capricorn, within 3 degrees of Pluto, and both are building energy towards conjunction within days of the full Moon. In fact, Mars is conjunct Okyrhoe, named after the seer known as Swift Runner, one of the interplanetary bodies known as ‘Centaurs’. Her orbit spans those of Jupiter and Saturn, so she can be seen as a bridge between the two. Looking a little deeper into Okyrhoe’s story will throw some light on this. This present conjunction with Mars could also be seen as the signal to martial energy in service to the power of foresight, and, in Capricorn this brings the penetrative power of the ‘seers’ eye to bear on the underlying power structures of the State.
Okyrhoe is closely linked with the powers of prophecy and seership. In the myth she was a nymph, the daughter of Chiron, and it was he who mentored Apollo, the divine youth, in the skills that Apollo himself later became the patron deity of, healing, music, divination and prophecy.
Okyrhoe’s own prophetic powers were cthonic, rooted in the oracular traditions of the Earth Mother, linking her with the Delphic Pythia and practices of divination originating in this root. In contrast Apollo, ultimately, and for all his patronage, was, however, a solar god.
Ironically, in the myths it was Apollo who later suppressed the original matriarchal powers behind these sacred practices, killing off the dragon ‘Python’ and opening the road for the ascendancy of the patriarchal solar sects, But, the myths usher in the ‘ironic’ and Okyrhoe, through her prophecies was herself, perhaps unwittingly, instrumental in this.
She foresaw her father Chiron’s mortal wounding, as well as the ascendancy of another great healer, Asclepius. Asclepius will figure shortly, however, the prophecy surrounding Chiron fell fowl of the gods, they did not like having their plans exposed, and as punishment Okyrhoe was turned into a mare and cast into the sky realms by Apollo. Ironically again, Chiron’s legacy lived on in Apollo, who some say surpassed the old Centaur in skill, if not knowledge – but, what Apollo, another eternal youth, lacked was Chiron’s wisdom. Here Chiron embodies the older form of the senex, the pragmatism of the shaman who works in respectful union with the forces of nature and understands the interdependency of life and death, the necessary dialogue between the incarnate and spirit. None of Chiron’s powers of divination and wisdom, it seems, could prevent Apollo from casting the saturnian shadow of the solar cults through his own brilliance, a reflection of both youthful folly and unchecked arrogance. Does Apollo mark the break in tradition…….is Apollo following a more egotistical dictate that flourished under patriarchal rule and ultimately sought to wipe out the indigenous wisdom of the shamanic ways?
The far reaching effects of such a transmission between mentor and mentee are pertinently reflected in our times as, while we have aquired great skill in developing technologies, their contemporary application, particularly within the sciences, is far more involved in the often blind pursuit of knowledge through them, rather than through wisdom in their creation and uses. It is all too obvious that the headlong rush of this pursuit is bringing about great and perhaps irrevocable change, but, the rhetorical question asked by Mars conjunction with Okyrhoe is ‘can we be wise to the portents‘ and ‘turn the energy of this time around to affect a global maturity‘. As Chiron advises, this is a matter of radical healing.
Mercury is at work in this too, conjunct with another asteroid, Asclepius, who, via Mercury’s intelligence and awareness, gives a clear reminder that the healer is yet present within us all. Asclepius attained the ability to overcome death and revive the mortally ill and wounded. These are technologies that speak of a profound understanding of the life-death-life cycle, but, they too are linked with the serpent power. Asclepius abilities were also foretold by Okyrhoe and these, appearing tantamount to hubris, not only seriously pissed off Zeus, but, upset Pluto into the bargain as well. Through Ascelapius intervention and healing powers Pluto, the god of the underworld, saw his realms becoming depleted of souls and witnessed his rulership over their fates in the underworld diminishing. Pluto petitioned Zeus to intervene.
What is interesting is that, while raising the level of the healer to new heights brought Asclepius into dis-favour with Zeus and saw the master healer exciled to the celestial realms, his roots were nevertheless recognised as he was confined within the stars of the constellation Ophiucus, the wielder of serpent energy. Zeus intervention, however, is a clear illustration of an elitist strategy of disempowerment through seperation, here of powers innate to the earthly realms by exiling them to the heavenly realms. ‘Divide and conquer‘ by any other name, this has been such a central strategy to the heirarchies of the patriarchy.
Mercury and Asclepius tell us it is time for the more ancient healing traditions of the Earth and the healing powers of Her serpentine energies to be remembered, brought back into awareness and restored to the earth realms. But, Samhain is also the time in which this connection is activated through ancient sites that were carefully built to encode this memory, and, in them and the immense investment our ancestors made through them in us, the Sun is setting on the old solar culture…..
As if now to emphasise this, as well as the gateway of transition beyond death, the Sun is also conjunct the asteroid Atropos, symbolising the meeting place of the alpha and omega points in the cycle. Atropos was one of the three fates, her role being to cut the thread of life that her sisters, the ‘daughters of the night’, had spun and measured. This conjunction brings an even stronger emphasis on beginnings and endings, and in Atropos we can see the danger in an atrophy of the life force belonging to the ancient pathway of initiation; however…..the knowledge of the ancients has been left for us hidden in plain sight.
Out in the land, every day at dusk, the setting Sun sees the literal and symbolic solar influence occluded by Earth’s own physical and nocturnal powers. There is at this time of day a palpable energy shift that can be felt as this happens, particularly at the megalithic sites, and especially where the alignments of the stones with which they were built incorporate the quarterly and cross quarterly Earth/Sun alignments. One such sacred place is the great ceremonial centre of Avebury in southern England.
With powerful understanding and ingenuity the great stones of Avebury were placed inside an earth circle to hold enhanced resonance between the serpent powers of Earth and the stellar realms, potentiating them within the sacred circle. The southern entrance of the circle is marked by two giant megaliths and at sunset on 6th November the shadows of these gateway stones unite, their energy fields forming a charged threshold at the circle’s entrance.
It was within the charged energy of this shadow land that the skin of the old year would be shed by the celebrant, a cleansing that strips down to the bone, the core essence, and allows the soul to re-enter the cycle of life renewed – it is a rite of death and re-birth and in its undertaking we cross over the ‘bone road’. The thinning of the veils is embodied in Avebury Henge.
The ritual fires that accompanied this rite have been passed down to us in what we call bonfires, a memory of the ancestral rite of ‘Bonefires’ burned at this time of year.
In our time Avebury remains open and active, a meeting place of ancient and modern peoples. This is a powerful ceremonial, learning and ritual centre and the energies present within this site and its megaliths point to another level to this phenomenon.
Avebury’s makers, without a doubt, had a wider active range of perception than modern humans and were able to see the vibrational layers within the bandwidths of energy beyond the visible spectrum. The megaliths hold testimony to this. This is not as far-fetched as the orthodox science would have us believe ~ even though we rely on devised technologies, external to the human vehicle, to detect and measure these bandwidths, humans are naturally endowed with the organic technology that makes their perception possible. In fact, if we engage with it we discover that our innate indigenous and organic technology is the more sophisticated, by far.
The necessary knowledge, foresight and wisdom to build a site like Avebury would have been more intrinsic to the life experience of a people who had not suffered the dumbing down, suppression of, and apparent seperation from these ancient human faculties, as we predominantly have. But, we can do something to change this. Our abilities have not died, they are, for the most part, dormant within us. It is through direct experience that we become re-empowered.
One way to undertake this healing is to observe these rites once more. Sharing this path and being in circle with the ancestors and each other at such times strengthens the effect, and, holding circle at sites like Avebury can bring profound shifts in a person’s life ~ we are reconnecting with and awakening the powers of the stars, the Sun and Moon, the Earth within our own paths. All the powers at work here belong to Nature, our own indigenous nature and the natural world around that we are held in and given life by. This renewal of the ancient’s innate faculties and knowledge, the seer’s eye, the diviner’s senstivity and the shaman’s rites of passage, with all the accompanying shifts in relation to the cyclical and sacred nature of Life, are deeply empowering and can bring great healing to our planet. In fact, it will…..with that one small, but, significant caveat. In seeking to renew life and set our sight free, we must collectively and individually cleanse ourselves on the ‘bone road’. In this way we are taking a resonant and powerful step towards healing the soul of the world. I’m sure many a witch and shaman would agree……
Top Image : H R Geiger
Second Image : Winter Avebury