Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturn and Pluto: Are You Part of the Purification?
I received an astrological notice recently from my client and colleague Judy Goldberg, who is a vocational astrologer in Baltimore. I often forget to check the stars, and when I do, the goings-on of the planetary transits usually explain some strange emotional tensions or energetic conditions I've been experiencing. This time, Judy drew my attention to the fact that Saturn, the planet of focus, concentration, responsibility, and karma, is leaving the sign of Leo (my sun and rising sign), about to move into Virgo. Judy says this has been especially challenging for "the millions in the Pluto in Leo generation (born between 1938 and 1956). Before it moves into Virgo on Sept 2, Saturn will have conjoined the natal Pluto of everyone in this generation. Because Pluto is the planet of death, as well as rebirth and of power, we who share this placement have been made aware of our relationship to our own power — where we hold it, how we give it away. Many of us have experienced an ego death or the death of a loved one — particularly a child or a parent. Some have had breakthrough changes in life for the better and some are still in the soup."

In an article Judy wrote, she recounts a few things her clients reported during this time:

  • The past 5 years have been the most painful and stressful in my life, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It seems I was meant to be alone and separated from all things that were familiar, as if I was supposed to leave behind my past life and anyone who had been part of it.
  • I am fighting the ego to let go of old behaviors which no longer serve me. I am learning I must let go of the outcome.
  • I'm back in therapy working on old fears & past wrongs that I thought were long gone.
  • I feel change is on the horizon and urging me to engage with new people and places. I have a feeling that I just need to release all that I have known and it will come forward. ...that is the difficult part.
  • I am discovering that when I move with the universe instead of against it life is much easier.
I must agree that the past few years have been a kind of honing of the samurai sword for so many. I see it in my friends, clients, and in myself. It's easy to think of difficult periods as negative, but I honestly think everything evolves us and moves us into greater light. I can see that the many frustrating experiences I've been subjected to have irritated me so much that some of my more ugly defensive parts have surfaced and I've had a chance to examine and heal them. Some of the deep collective beliefs in human suffering have also surfaced, and these are not so easy to see and clear away.

Saturn now begins to move through the Pluto in Virgo folks' lives (born between 1956 and 1972), so the roto-rootering process continues, with new inner shadow issues to be focused on. Saturn brings "lack" to whatever it touches, as well as "binding force." Saturn narrows while Pluto concentrates. Saturn gives form and focus, while Pluto purifies the core of our being. Certainly one of the new hot issues will be taking responsibility for how you communicate, and what you communicate. We should see the liars in Washington, DC, brought to account. Can't wait!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Perils of Intuition?
The June/July 2007 issue of Scientific American Mind magazine contains some articles on intuition. One, "The Powers and Perils of Intuition," by David G. Meyers, falls in line with the scientific, brain-oriented slant of the magazine by examining potential pitfalls of intuition — things I don't personally consider to be much connected with intuition at all. He's looking at what can lead us astray from mental clarity, interpreting intuition mostly as "gut instinct." He speaks of "automatic nonconscious processes" that pervade our mental and social life, saying we go through life mostly on autopilot, and that intuition, according to Daniel Kahneman, is "fast, automatic, effortless, associative, implicit (not available for introspection), and often emotionally charged." He says our intuition is often affected negatively by 1) mental shortcuts called "heuristics" which can trigger illusions and misperceptions, (a fuzzy-looking object is farther away than a clear one, except on a foggy morning); and by 2) learned associations that surface as feelings and guide our judgments (we react negatively to a boss who looks like the father who abused us). He says, under the subtitle "Intuitive Expertise," that if experience informs intuition, as we learn to associate cues with particular feelings, many judgments should become automatic (like driving a car). He seems to lean toward associating intuition with "automaticity" (his word); his language emphasizes left-brain mental activity and never describes what a holistic intuitive experience actually is.

I think it is important to distinguish between instinctual responses (which are related to the reptile brain and survival) and our higher, intuitive knowing (which relates to the eternal part of our awareness, our soul). He is not doing this — but is keeping the discussion focused on automatic responses, prejudices, knee-jerk reactions, emotional distortions to judgment-making (snap judgments), and "nonconscious learning." Meyers is not speaking as one who is in the process of becoming mindful of the magnificent subtleties of superconscious perception, but one who is focused on thought processes, and how the body and emotions get in the way. He is not talking about a way of living where you are more in tune with and can perceive the soul in all living things, where you focus on trust as a way of life (without giving up logic and common sense), and refine your awareness to be able to work efficiently back and forth between the pre-form and form worlds, where you experience the powerful "mind of the heart" and its revelations of a new way of living, where emotion refines into empathic knowing and teaches us about universal oneness.

I always teach that as we learn to discriminate the truth and anxiety signals in the body, we will absolutely come upon fear reactions, idea associations that may not even be our own, and old habits and thoughtforms. Everything must be examined and eventually dissolved, and new responses allowed to be generated freshly in each moment. The whole point of intuition is not that we are on autopilot — to me, autopilot is a way of being mostly unconscious because we are fear-based — but that we are moving totally in the other direction into full awareness and presence. The process of intuition development is about examining and dissolving fears (the blocks to direct knowing), and building new consciousness based on love and unity. With true intuition that we trust, we surrender to the One Mind that coordinates us all and all the actions in the world, and we don't interfere with and stop the flow of our insights and motives because we're afraid we might make a mistake. We learn to move through the world more intentionally and superconsciously — as Don Juan says, as "spiritual warriors."

I think at heart, science, spirituality, psychology, and metaphysics are all trying to describe the same thing. Personally, I'm not sure that articles like this one have a lot of value. Does it improve the quality of our life experience to know that we have automatic "intuitive prejudices" (another of Meyer's terms that seems like a misnomer to me; true intuition doesn't stop and lock down thought, doesn't ever become reactionary, because it's never in the past)? That we can master a skill so it becomes second-nature (again, not something I chalk up to intuition)? Isn't it obvious to anyone who's just lived for a little while that repetition builds habits and mastery? That earlier experiences, whether colored by positive or negative emotions, can affect the way we perceive similar present-moment experiences if we're not practicing centered mindfulness? Do we have to have science dissect these things for us? Or are the scientists doing it for their own sake so they can talk themselves into letting go into a freer, more expansive kind of knowing?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The End of Cheap Food
I wanted to pass this along, as I feel we
must start tuning in on the long-term effects of our actions, and not postpone a change in our behavior by absent-mindedly putting up with what doesn't serve everyone. My friend John Petersen, president of The Arlington Institute — which looks at future trends — recently sent out a message saying that he had met with a colleague who has vast experience in the food business and who had been head of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The man proposed that the world was running out of food, that for the first time in decades there was no surplus food in the markets and that his business was searching the world for surplus commodities where in the past they had always operated off of U.S. excesses. His professional opinion was that prices of food would increase substantially (3 to 5 times) in coming years. Within days, John also received this article, "The End of Cheap Food," by Gwynne Dyer, a London-based independent journalist and Global Business Network member. I have taken the liberty of editing a bit and highlighting the important points:

"The era of cheap food is over. The price of corn has doubled in a year, and wheat futures are at their highest in a decade. The food price index in India has risen 11 percent in one year, and in Mexico there were riots after the price of corn flour (used in making tortillas) went up fourfold. Before the WWII, most families in developed countries spent a third or more of their income on food (as the poor majority in developing countries still do). But after the war a series of radical changes, from mechanization to the Green Revolution, raised agricultural productivity and caused a steep fall in the real price of food. For the global middle class, it was the Good Old Days, with food taking only a tenth of their income.

It will probably be back up to a quarter within a decade, and it may go much higher than that, because we are entering a period when three separate factors are converging to drive food prices up. The first is simply demand. Not only is the global population continuing to grow, but more people are starting to eat significant amounts of meat. Animals need a great deal of grain, which means shifting huge amounts of grain-growing land from human to animal consumption. The mania for "bio-fuels" is also shifting land out of food production. One-sixth of all the grain grown in the United States this year will be "industrial corn" destined to be converted into ethanol. The amount of US farmland devoted to bio-fuels grew by 48 percent in the last year alone, and hardly any new land was brought under the plough to replace the lost food production. The food market and the energy market are becoming closely linked, which is bad news for the poor. As economist Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute told the US Congress last month: 'The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world's two billion poorest people.'

Finally, global warming will hit crop yields, but only recently has anybody quantified how hard. The answer, published in "Environmental Research Letters" in March by Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution in Stanford, California and David Lobell of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is quite simple: for every 0.9F hotter, crop yields fall between 3-5 percent. So 3.6F, the low end of the range of predicted temperature rise in this century, means a 12-20 percent fall in global food production." Ms. Dyer concludes, "The price of food relative to average income is heading for levels that have not been seen since the early 19th century, and it will not come down again in our lifetimes."

(The graphic is from a 1909 postcard entitled "Good Corn Makes Good Hogs")

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live Earth: Let's Start Looking at What Can Cause the World to Truly Shift, and How We Create Healthy Flows Instead of Apathy. . .
I pulled this off a newsletter I receive from Gail Richards of; I am intrigued with ideas that catch fire, with passion and how far it goes, with personal courage — in this case exemplified by Al Gore. She says, "There are events in each era of history that become signposts. On 7-7-07, Live Earth became one of these. At this writing:

* Over 2 billion people watched or listened in some way to 24 hours of concerts held in eight international venues to increase awareness of global warming and create commitment for change,
* Over 6 thousand future spin-off events were scheduled,
* Over 10 thousand support websites were launched, and
* Over 10 million video streams were accessed.

How did this happen? It happened because one person shared his passion. In this case, it was Al Gore sharing his passion to educate the world on global warming. His message turned into a Power Point™ presentation which he shared with one audience at a time, one city at a time. His presentation turned into the pages of a book which turned into an Academy Award winning documentary, which turned into one of the most pivotal events of this century, Live Earth on July 7, 2007, the catalyst for what has the potential to become the most far-reaching lifestyle change movement ever seen."

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rainer Maria Rilke's Advice to Mankind

God speaks to man only once, just before he is born,
then he silently delivers him out of the night.
But the Words, that man hears,
the cloudlike Words, are:

"Explore all of your senses,
follow them to the edges of your loneliness;
then surrender your veils and masks to me.

Within all things burns a fire,
but those things also have vast shadows,
that hide my presence.

Experience everything: beauty and fear.
Man must only keep trying: no feeling is beyond reach.
Do not separate yourself from me.
Very near is the home,
that you call life.

You will recognize it
by its wholeheartedness.

Give me your hand."

(this poem was translated from the German by my friend Rod McDaniel, who lives in Heidelberg)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Death and the Heart
I received word a few days ago that one of my longtime clients, an attractive vital man in his late 60's, had died suddenly. He'd been coming to me for readings for many years, and I often felt he used the sessions as a kind of socializing and nurturing, for he seemed a bit of a loner. He always wanted to change — to move from his small apartment, to get a job, to have more friends. He was no slouch — he'd been a successful chemist, traveled all over the world, lectured, and so on. But now he was restless, anxious, and I think, feeling rather purposeless. I saw his potential and many paths for his self-expression, but each one I suggested, he might try shallowly and briefly, but somehow it would fail or he'd have a "yes, but" that negated the flow of energy. In the last few months he began to complain of back and leg pain and I recommended a great osteopathic bodyworker, who he saw, but as usual, it didn't help for long. Then he had a cough, and I still didn't put two and two together, since he looked so vibrant, and it had been his habit to complain. The last time I saw him, only a little while ago, I was drawn to "lay it on the line" with him, and said he was right up on a huge life choice: either he had to take action on some of the things he said he wanted, in other words, actually decide what he wanted and express himself toward that newness, and release his energy, or it would turn in on itself and he would start dying. He took it well, and thanked me for being honest with him.

He made a few motions about finding a new place to live, but within weeks had stopped trying. He called to tell me someone had taken him to the hospital for tests, and he was waiting to find out if he had cancer. He was quite scared. I did my best to calm him, and asked that he call me in the morning to let me know. Next thing I know, he's died. Yikes! Of course, I have to examine myself: why did I not see it had become physical? I saw the energetic pattern clear as a bell. Perhaps I'm always looking for the positive spin? Not realistic enough? Would it have helped if he'd found out earlier? Or would it have meant a life in chemo and misery? Ohhhhhhhhhh. It's so hard to feel helpless! And I feel I must use this experience to help me better my own life; that's what he would want, I'm sure. To know he was valuable to me. But what helps the most? Believing in someone's potential? Speaking of the most realistic, materialistic actualities? Does the latter lock people in to a reality that goes nowhere and keeps them "down"? Does the soul's eye view avoid real issues and problems? There has to be a good balance here. . .

One thing for sure: we must keep expressing ourselves authentically, we must have courage to change and evolve, to live with surprise, in the heart, not just the scientific, rational head. Fear is so often the vibration of diseases, and they thrive in that culture, like mosquitoes love the swamp, and mold loves the fruit in the dark corner of my frig's hydrator drawer. I see that wherever I am like my client, where I have my excuses to not evolve, there is a foothold for degeneration.