Let There Be Love

My daughter is getting married in less than one week, on the anniversary of her and her partner’s meeting 14 years ago. A wedding under these circumstances appeals to the romantic in me. 
However the politico part of me has been opposed to the idea of marriage since Women’s Liberation days.

Marriage is a great institution; but I’m not ready for an institution
— Mae West

Nevertheless, the preparations for this wedding have made me reassess my intolerance of marriage. Radical Feminist meets old Romantic…..

 Yes that's me! 1967

Yes that's me! 1967

When I was married in 1967 it was still very much a man’s world. A bride was supposed to be a virgin dressed in white handed over by father to husband and she then took her husband’s name. Only he could raise the mortgage from the bank, sign the legal documents to buy a house, or get insurance. 
The woman was expected to be a stay-at- home housewife and got “housekeeping’ or ‘pocket’ money from his wages. Her work wasn’t regarded as work – it counted for nothing in the” real world”. This unspoken hypocrisy that completely ignored (and continues to ignore in our Gross National Product) women’s unpaid work such as raising children, care-giving, housework etc etc) still outrages me, despite the changes that have occurred since the bad old days.
 
In only a blink of the historical eye, marriage is now no longer a prison for women; no longer an oppressive institution that treats women as items of property, handed from father to husband.
But it has a history that is hard to dismantle and even harder for feminists to forget. For at least 3 thousand years, marriage was propagated by the State, the Law and Religion as an institution that forced women into unvalued slavery of kitchen, bedroom and children. Your biology was your destiny; if born with a penis your power lay out in the public sphere, while the birth right of vagina meant you were allocated the background of private arena. Marriage as a trumped up legal form of prostitution kept women financially dependent, tying them and their children to the men who ruled their lives.

 An Arranged Marriage. Vasili Pukirev 1862

An Arranged Marriage. Vasili Pukirev 1862

A wedding formalised the marriage in law, granting a moral imperative for the couple to have children within the sanctioned family unit. Birthing children out of wedlock was considered a sin of the highest order and accorded great shame to a “ruined” woman and bastard child. The male instigator was considered a “rake” but not shamed and not cast out of the bosom of the legitimised family circle.


The family unit was seen as society in embryo. The patriarch was the head, the woman his helpmate, the children his to control. The family unit was the means by which transference of property and power through patriarchal lineage was accomplished and ordered.

 Romeo and Juliet - A Love Song. (N.Z. Movie)

Romeo and Juliet - A Love Song. (N.Z. Movie)


Because of their warring fathers it was taboo for the star-crossed tragic lovers Juliet and Romeo to marry.
http://www.nzfilm.co.nz/film/romeo-and-juliet-a-love-song#

The tragedy and glory of Love is that it transcends heterosexuality, race, religion, age and custom. In Aotearoa at least, our patriarchal inheritance is being chipped away. Our culture is becoming more and more accepting of love’s various couplings; gay marriage, civil unions, racially mixed marriage, second and even third marriages with children from both couple’s past all intermingling  -   and even no marriage at all. All these lifestyles are becoming socially acceptable as family units in which to rear children.


Nowadays, women are expected to be financially independent and a married couple make their own financial arrangements with the bank and the law. In the case of divorce, the law of Aotearoa protects women and children to a limited extent. Since 1971, there are social benefits to support women with their children if they leave their husbands. Celibacy before marriage is mostly not expected for women (for men it never was). Many couples marry after living together for some time with no social stigma. Living together and having children out of marriage is common. Illegitimacy and its accompanying shame is thankfully a relic of our near past.


Really there is no seeming reason to marry at all - yet people flock to do it.
Couples willingly make the choice to spend huge amounts of money on their Big Day.
A wedding has become a big expensive party where vows are exchanged. The happy couple say upfront to everyone that they promise to be together for better and for worse for the rest of their lives. Making an extraordinary public promise like that may well seem worthy of the expense?
According to the fawning mainstream media, a Royal Wedding is the apex of all weddings. Yet a royal wedding is actually quite unlike weddings that the rest of our society practices. A royal wedding is a horrible blast from the past - still very much a formal treaty according security to an heredity lineage, maintaining power and status of a privileged class, and economic certainties between the two families of origin.

Our weddings these days don’t cement family dynasties. Only the elites who rule the world with their money and power have the need to protect their self-interests and investments in this way.
Nevertheless, us commoners mimic our ‘betters’. Many women - who after all drive the wedding preparations – do seem to treat their wedding day as an excuse to be Princess for the day. Although they are most certainly NOT selling themselves like lambs to the slaughter, as Diana Spenser did.

 “It’s all about me” is a dominant theme in the current commodified culture after all. There are TV programs about Bridezillas and Big Fat Gypsy weddings that seem to encourage these spectacles of people behaving badly or extremely.


So getting hitched has always been with us and always will, while humans continue to propagate the species. And we are creatures of ritual. Even when the rituals are unhinged from the actual belief system they once clung to, and become superstitions - they seem to bring peculiar comfort to us.


Our culture has precious few rituals that are meaningful and gather us in a real sense of belonging to family and community. Funerals are such formal gatherings, but are sad occasions despite the socialising and food. Weddings however are both formal and happy, bringing together past and future. They celebrate romance and beauty, they have flowers, and they make us cry as we look to the future with hope. 
Weddings celebrate love sweet love.

 Psyche and Eros. Francois Gerard 1798

Psyche and Eros. Francois Gerard 1798

Raise the rafters! Hoist
them higher! Here comes
a bridegroom taller
than Ares!

Lucky bridegroom!
Now the wedding you
asked for is over
and your wife is the
girl you asked for;

she’s a bride who is
charming to look at,
with eyes as soft as
honey, and a face
that Love has lighted
with his own beauty.

Aphrodite has surely
outdone herself in
doing honour to you!
— Sappho the Greek poet who was writing in the 6th century BCE - and THAT’S a long time ago

The whanau of both bride and groom gather to wish a happy new life together and celebrate their own part they have played in that couple’s life. Through the rituals and customs the guests honour love, fertility, life itself.

O Bride brimful of
rosy little loves!
Come now to your
bedroom to your
bed and play there
sweetly gently
with your bridegroom

And may Hesperus
lead you not at all
unwilling until
you stand wondering
before the silver

Throne of Hera
Queen of Marriage
— The immortal Sappho again

Hera is the Greek Goddess who presides over Marriage. The Romans named her Juno and she is the one who gave her name to the month of June.


This Goddess was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing, so a wedding in Juno's month was considered most auspicious.
The popularity of June weddings also comes from the Celtic calendar. On the Day of Beltane, or May Day (May 1st), young couples would pair off to court for 3 months and then be wed on Lammas Day, (August 1). Youths were impatient, and so the waiting period was shortened to mid-June, the height of summer.


Stag parties were first held by ancient Spartan soldiers, who kissed their bachelor days goodbye with a raucous party. There’s a stereotype in patriarchal culture that men are indeed wild and marriage domesticates them. Stags rut and roar so give metaphoric licence to the idea that a groom is kissing goodbye his youthful wildness. ‘Wild’ these days equates to out on the town, drunk and disorderly. Stags are wild animals that are hunted down by men and there are many humiliating rituals drunken men can inflict upon the groom-to-be under the influence.


Hen’s parties are the parties that women throw on the eve of marriage. Held by the bridesmaids for the bride, only a generation ago, these were sedate afternoon affairs known as kitchen showers. Everyone bought along a gift for the bride to help set up her home.
When I was a young bride in the 1960’s, people were shamed if they lived out of “wedlock” – the word itself, indicates the idea of jail. Times have changed radically. The sexual revolution overtook us all and women have become ‘liberated” from the thrall of chastity until marriage.


Hire-purchase and credit cards have ended the idea of saving up for material goods and spending within our limited means. Buy now, pay later is the maxim. Marriage invitations often instruct the guests where to shop and more often or not, the couple are already living together in a very well provided home.


Hen’s parties still include lots of cackling and clucking but seem to have taken on something of the stag’s behaviour. They often involve strippers, lewd, uninhibited behaviour, drunken free-for-alls and not a chaperone in sight for all those silly hens.


Tying the Knot
In many cultures around the world -- including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings -- the hands of a bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple's commitment to each other and their new bond as a married couple. The customs differ in patriarchal cultures but always this commitment meant the woman must honour and obey her husband. And never ever – usually on the pain of death – commit adultery. Men might marry more than one woman, or take concubines or mistresses with impunity in the older cultures. The woman must never stray. Otherwise the honour of her husband is under threat.
Nowadays, commitment to each other is still a big part of the marriage vows, but we believe (despite ongoing consistent evidence) neither man nor woman should stray from their sexual commitment to monogamy. Despite human nature, and the nature of love itself (the God of Love is such a fickle creature!) we trust we will stay the same forever and forever. Forgetting that Love is both willful and blind. 

 Eros. Sidney Meteyard

Eros. Sidney Meteyard

Bridal Party
The bridal party is a tradition that has been established for many centuries. For a long time the purpose of the bridal party was to fool evil spirits. The bride's friends dressed similarly to her in order to confuse any virulent presences that might be lurking about. Today bridesmaids are there to support the bride in the stressful times during the wedding.
The Flower Girl's role was once, not simply to spread petals down the aisle but, with her shield of virginity, to protect the bride from the Devil.

 My cute little sister Linda and me are the Flowergirls at our Aunty's Wedding 1951

My cute little sister Linda and me are the Flowergirls at our Aunty's Wedding 1951

Today, the ring bearer can be a girl, boy, or even a dog….


Best Man
According to tradition, only an unmarried woman could be a Maid of Honour, and only the brother, best friend, or father of the groom could be the Best Man. In ancient times, men sometimes captured women to make them their brides. A man would take along his strongest and most trusted friend to help him fight resistance from the woman's family. This friend, therefore, was considered the Best Man among his friends. In Anglo Saxon England, the Best Man accompanied the Groom up the aisle to help defend the Bride.


The original purpose of the Bridesmaid and the Best Man was to aid in the abduction of the Bride, get her to church on time, and keep any hostile family members away! Now the Bridesmaids usher the guests to their seats, the Best Man carries the ring, and offers a toast. The Bride stands to the Groom's left during a Christian ceremony, because in bygone days the Groom needed his right hand free to fight off other suitors.


Being given away
is a tradition that evolved from the days when men bought brides from fathers or, even worse, captured them. The tradition of the father giving away his daughter has its roots in the days of arranged marriages.

 My proud Dad and Bridesmaids dressed in Green

My proud Dad and Bridesmaids dressed in Green

Daughters in those times were considered their father's property. It was the father's right to give his child to the Groom, usually for a price.
Now in many modern marriages the mother and father ‘give away’ their grown-up, independent daughter as a symbol of their blessing on the marriage, rather than thinking of the dependent girl being handed over as property to the husband-to-be.


Ring
With no beginning or end, the circle was the symbol of eternity, not only to the Egyptians, but many other ancient cultures. The hole in the centre of the ring also had significance. It wasn’t just considered a space, but rather a gateway, or door; leading to things and events both known and unknown. To give a woman a ring signifies never-ending and immortal love.

Some believe that the oldest recorded exchange of wedding rings comes from ancient Egypt, about 4800 years ago. Sedges, rushes and reeds, growing alongside the well-known papyrus were twisted and braided into rings for fingers. These materials didn’t last very long and soon were substituted with rings made of leather, bone or ivory. The more expensive the material, the more love was seen to be shown to the receiver; the value of the ring also demonstrated the wealth of the giver.


The Roman’s also eventually adopted this tradition but with their own show of masculine power. Rather than offering a ring to a woman as a symbol of love, they awarded them as a symbol of ownership. Roman men would “claim” their woman with the giving of a ring. Roman betrothal rings were later made of iron signifying strength and permanence. The Romans were the first to engrave their rings.


It was not until about 860 that the Christians used the ring in marriage ceremonies; even then, it was not the simple plain band as we know it. It usually was highly decorated with engraved doves, lyres, or two linked hands. The institution of Church discouraged such rings as ‘heathenish’ and, around the 13th century, wedding and betrothal rings were considerably simplified, and given a more spiritual look which was very aptly expressed by a Bishop when he dubbed it a “symbol of the union of hearts.”


A 12th century pope decreed that weddings would be held in church and that the brides were to receive rings. He also decreed that the time between engagement and marriage should be lengthened, which boosted interest in engagement rings.

diamond-is-forever-300x238.jpg

One of history's earliest and smallest engagement rings was given to English Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. She was two years old at the time.
But it wasn't until Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented a diamond to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 that the tradition of offering the most enduring gem on Earth took hold.
Diamonds set in gold or silver became popular as betrothal rings among wealthy Venetians toward the end of the fifteenth century.


These days, the majority of brides receive diamond engagement rings.
There's no dispute that DeBeers singlehandedly created the market for the diamond engagement ring with a simple sentiment in a 20th-century ad campaign: A Diamond is Forever.
As it turns out, the slogan might outlast the product, as socially conscious brides steer away from the products of the war-torn, corrupt diamond industry.

W&K wedding ring on finger.jpg

In the symbolic language of jewels, a sapphire in a wedding ring means marital happiness.
A pearl engagement ring is said to be bad luck because its shape echoes that of a tear.
Aquamarine represents marital harmony and is said to ensure a long, happy marriage.
Snake rings dotted with ruby eyes were popular wedding bands in Victorian England -- the coils winding into a circle symbolized eternity.

Wedding rings through different stages in history have been worn on different fingers, including the thumb, and on both the left and right hands. However, according to a Roman tradition, engagement and wedding rings are still worn on the fourth finger of the left hand (the ring finger). There was thought to be a vein in this finger referred to as the ‘Vena Amoris’ or the ‘Vein of Love’  that was said to be directly connected to the heart. (not true, but still a romantic tale that has stuck fast in popular culture.)


The Bride
In Greek nymph is the word for bride. The word nymph represented the fertility and beauty of the natural world for the nymphs were the minor goddesses who presided over each tree, stream, mountain or lake of the Greek countryside. There were nymphs of rivers, springs, streams, seas and rain itself. Nymphs were the spirit of individual trees and plants, as well as of sacred groves. The Hesperides were nymphs of the evening and famous for their garden in the West that produced the tree that grew golden apples.

 Gail - my eldest daughter - Nymph of the MacKenzie Country

Gail - my eldest daughter - Nymph of the MacKenzie Country

White Gown and Veil
The blushing bride’s face would be hidden beneath a veil — a symbol of her virginity and to protect her from unruly spirits.


The veiling of the bride has origins in the idea that she's vulnerable to enchantment, so she must be hidden from evil spirits. The Romans veiled brides in flame coloured red veils to scare off those spirits.


Perhaps the most evil of spirits, in an arranged marriage is the threat that the groom, who is perhaps seeing the bride for the first time, won't like what he sees. The veil saves everyone some embarrassment in the short term.


In Denmark, brides and grooms traditionally cross-dressed to confuse evil spirits….
Generally, as well as being used to ward off evil, the bridal veil has long been a symbol of youth, modesty, and virginity. A veil symbolises the virginal hymen that must be rent by its owner’s first sexual penetration. Tearing the veil was considered good luck.


Queen Victoria started the Western world's white wedding dress trend in 1840 -- before then, brides simply wore their best dress. White is the symbol of purity and chastity. The Victorians were renowned for their double standards in sexual mores - one standard for men and another for women. So men didn’t have to wear the white suit.

 Victoria and Albert 1840

Victoria and Albert 1840

Garter
Back in the 1300’s, it was believed that taking a piece of the bride’s clothing would grant the guests good luck. This led to many guests literally tearing cloth from the bride’s dress (yikes!) So, in an attempt to stave off greedy luck-seekers, many brides began to throw items to guests that could be easily removed and that included her garter. Some grooms even began to remove the garter and tossed it to the men as a means to prevent tipsy male guests from trying to do the deed themselves. Eventually it became customary for the bride to throw her bouquet at the female guest


Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and a Sixpence in Your Shoe
"Something old" represents the bride's link to her family and the past. The bride may choose to wear a piece of family jewellery or her mother or grandmother's wedding gown. "Something new" represents hope for good fortune and success in the future. The bride often chooses the wedding gown to represent the new item. "Something borrowed" usually comes from a happily married woman and is thought to lend some of her good fortune and joy to the new bride. "Something blue" is a symbol of love, fidelity, and purity of the bride.
 A sixpence in her shoe is to wish the bride wealth in her future life.


Flowers
Would you consider walking down the aisle clutching a bundle of garlic and dill?
Well, if you're a stickler for tradition, you might want to think about it. Until modern times, brides did carry garlic and dill. The practice probably originated from the time of the Plague, when people clutched the herbs over their noses and mouths in a desperate effort to survive.
Survivors of great tragedy can affix tremendous protective powers to anything that has provided comfort, and the herbs made it into the ceremony marking renewal.
So the first bouquets consisted of herbs, but later orange blossoms and apple blossoms became de rigeur. These blossoms were wedding flowers because they represented the Virgin form of the Goddess, whose maturity produced the fruit.

 Edith - my mother - with Bouquet of Red Roses

Edith - my mother - with Bouquet of Red Roses

However it is the sublime rose – queen among flowers - that has traditionally (for at least 4000 years!) symbolised the beautiful blossom from which all humankind enters the world. La Rose in French means ‘maidenhead”. The Virgin Mary’s mother Anne was said to have conceived her daughter whilst smelling a rose. The rose has always been connected with the Goddesses of Love and still today a rose is shorthand for love and romance. White roses for the virgin’s purity and red for passionate consummation.
Over time, brides have added different flora to their bouquet, and a whole dictionary of meaning has arisen to define each type of blossom.
Flowers are incorporated into the wedding ceremony as a symbol of fertility, for blossoming flowers are the sexual organs of plants.


Music
 Princess Victoria established the tradition of playing Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" during her wedding processional in 1858.


Confetti
Sugar-covered almonds representing the bitter and sweet parts of life — served as a snack or, yes, as something to throw at the newlyweds as they made their exit. Rice, cakes, grain, fruit, sweetmeats, biscuits - even peas in Czechoslovakia - are thrown at newlyweds. All of these are representations of fertility wished upon the newly- weds.
Rose petals for love have long been used. Confetti is a late comer – a cheap imitation of the older food and floral items. Puritan New Zealanders wouldn’t want to ‘waste” food by throwing it away.

 Edith and David in confetti storm in post WW2 frugal, Calvinist Dunedin

Edith and David in confetti storm in post WW2 frugal, Calvinist Dunedin

Cake
The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where revellers broke a loaf of bread over a bride's head for fertility's sake.
The custom of tiered cakes emerged from a game where the bride and groom attempted to kiss over an ever-higher cake without knocking it over. The origin of the tiered wedding cake also lies in Anglo-Saxon times. Guests would bring small cakes to the wedding and stack them on top of each other. Later, a clever French baker created a cake in the shape of the small cakes and covered it in frosting.

In my time in New Zealand wedding cakes used always to be fruit cakes. The custom was that young women of marriageable age would take a piece home, place it under their pillow and dream of their husband-to-be.

 My Wedding Cake 1967

My Wedding Cake 1967

Good luck
There are dozens of good-luck, bad-luck traditions followed by different cultures around the world. In Greek culture, a sugar cube is tucked into the bride’s glove to “sweeten” the marriage. For good luck, Egyptian women pinch the bride on her wedding day. The English believe a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck.


Aftermath
The groom carries the bride across the threshold to bravely protect her from evil spirits lurking below.

HoneyMoon
The honeymoon is a carryover from the days when grooms abducted their brides from the neighbours. Through time, those abductions became fun-filled, ritualized enactments of captured brides. Those escapades in Norse tradition, led to a prolonged ritual in which the bride and groom went into hiding for 30 days. During each of those days, a friend or family member would bring them a cup of honey wine, so that 30 days of consumption equalled a "honeymoon." (honey- month)


Weddings today - like just about everything - have been corrupted by commerce.
But watching my daughter and her partner prepare for their big day has been a lesson for this cynical elder. The loving care, craft, thought and imagination they have invested into this event to create a day of beauty - for everyone - has been a revelation.
They seem to be driven by a dream of Love. Love celebrated and honoured, despite fractured and dysfunctional families, and maybe because of - and for them too.


These two dear people, who are tying the knot, are both artists and creatives - yet above all romantics. He proposed in Venice, after asking me for her hand. (They had been living together and running a business for 10 years already.) What a gallant!
Pragmatics both - yet wedded to beauty in their hearts.

 Phoenix and Chevron's Wedding Preparations November 2014

Phoenix and Chevron's Wedding Preparations November 2014

So take it away Nat King Cole...

Let there be you
Let there be me,
Let there be oysters
Under the sea,
Let there be wind
And occasional rain,
Chile con carne
Sparkling champagne.
Let there be birds
Sing in the trees,
Someone to bless me
whenever I sneeze.

Let there be cuckoos,
a lark and a dove.
But first of all
Please
Let there be love
red rose.jpg

We Three Kings of Orient Are...

We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain,
Moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

The East has once again become a source of fear and loathing in the West. War wracks most of the Middle East and religion as ever, is the raison d’etre for the murder of innocents. Muslims wherever they may live, have become our ‘enemy’, and the Holy Land has become hell on earth. The N.Z. political elite has made a pact with the American-led devils of 5 Eyes and is hell-bent on sending troops into Iraq to fight the mad Arabs. 

three kings ravenna mosaic.jpg

Peace on earth and goodwill to all men has a hollow ring as we enter this 2014 Christmas.
A timely reminder then, to recall that the Christian story we Westerners celebrate at the Summer Solstice – the Nativity of Jesus Christ – comes from the East.
 I present to you a voice from the past telling the tale of the three wise men/ kings who followed the star of hope and peace so long ago into the Holy Land.
She’s the wife of one of the Magi who travelled across the Oriental desert to find and herald the promised Messiah 2000 years or so ago.

hypatia.jpg
Here’s a picture of my husband at work in home in Alexandria.

Handsome isn’t he? He’s gone off to Bethlehem right now to give the official astrological stamp of approval for this latest Messiah. They’re paying quite well – for an astrologer that is. He didn’t want to go at first – he’s such a creature of habit and likes his home comforts, but really, I pushed him into it. He knows I am quite capable of taking care of business as usual. Anyway, it’s good for our relationship to have a bit of a break, working and living together as we do. Good for his male ego too – a bit of glory and eternal fame – while he kicks up his heels on the journey.

While he’s gone, I’m taking care of the astronomy business; looking after the observatory with a couple of girlfriends, as well as continuing my usual nightly work of watching and plotting the celestial bodies, then writing up all the observations.
But to get to the point, I had this idea. While I was packing up the camel for my husband, organising and ensuring he had all the necessary horoscopes and other documentation he needed for this Messiah’s confirmation, bingo the light!
I thought I should write a book to give his journey some historical background. And it won’t hurt the reputation of Astrology either, to make some order in all the conflicting cultural evidence that’s floating around at the moment.
I will have to write under a male pseudonym – the tiresome patriarchal yoke we suffer under as women at present – you’ve just got no idea. I thought I might write under the pseudonym of Ptolemy.

In honour of the occasion I shall treat you to some titbits from my forthcoming manuscript about the idea of the Messiah and how astrologers got tied up into predicting it.
You are no doubt aware, most learned audience, that there is a prophecy in the Old Testament of the Jewish bible - Numbers 24:17 There shall come a star out of Jacob.


The star we know by the name of Sirius, was named by the ancient Hebrews Ephriam, the Star of Jacob. In Syrian, Arabian and Persian astrology it was called Messaeil – the Messiah.
The Messiah in Middle-Eastern traditions is a saviour - or sacred king - who periodically died in an atonement ceremony as surrogate for the real King of the Jews. The Semitic religions practised human sacrifices longer than most other religions, sacrificing children and grown men in order to please blood-thirsty gods. The priesthood of the Jewish god insisted that one man should die for the people…. So that the whole nation perish not. That quote is from the New Testament John 11:50 and shows that the Gospel’s Jesus was certainly not the first in the long line of slain and cannibalised saviours -  which actually extended back into prehistory. Although he may have been the last.


The Jews suffering under the Romans, were in the grip of a messianic fervour. They believed that this historical time was the scripturally predicted End of Days, when their suffering would be worse than anything which had gone before, and that the promised Messiah would come to end it and establish a Kingdom of God on earth. The title Christ is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means The Anointed One – the anointing being reserved exclusively for the King of Israel.

 Romans destroying Jerusalem

Romans destroying Jerusalem

After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD the originally Jewish Movement became a gentile one and all kinds of mythic elements entered the story of Jesus.

It is important to remember there is no historical figure of Jesus. The real Jesus made no impression on his contemporaries. No literate person of his own time mentioned him in any writing. The Gospels were not written by anyone who saw him in the flesh or lived in his lifetime. The Nativity story is agreed by scholars to be a very late addition and the birth and childhood of Jesus are not even mentioned by Mark whose Gospel is the earliest.

The names of the apostles attached to the bible’s books were a fictional. The books were composed after the establishment of the Church. The Catholic encyclopaedia admits that there is no extant manuscript that can be dated earlier than the 4th century and most were written even later. The oldest manuscripts contradict one another. The Gnostic Marcion first collected Pauline epistles about the middle of the 2nd century.

The details were accumulated  -not particularly from Jewish sources – and Jesus became a composite of many stories attached to every saviour-god throughout the Roman Empire.
He took his title Christ which means anointed from the Middle-Eastern saviour gods like Adonis and Tammuz born of the Virgin sea-goddess Aphrodite- Maria.

 Birth of Adonis

Birth of Adonis

Like Adonis, Jesus was born of a consecrated temple-maiden Mary. Just as in the Jesus myth Adonis was born in the sacred cave of Bethlehem which means The House of Bread. He was eaten in the form of bread as were Adonis, Osiris, Dionysus and others. Like Attis, he was sacrificed at the Spring Equinox (we call it Easter) and rose from the dead on the 3rd day, when he became god and ascended to heaven. Like Mithra and all other solar gods, he celebrated a birthday nine months later at the Winter Solstice – Christmas (old English Cristes Maesse  - Christ’s  mass). The day of death was also the day of his cyclic re-conception.

Scholars’ efforts to make Jesus into a real historical figure and to eliminate his pagan roots and collective psychology have proved hopeless. Like a mirage, the Jesus figure looks clear at a distance but lacks approachable solidity. His sayings and parables came from elsewhere and even the Lords Prayer was a collection of sayings from the Talmud and many derived from the earlier Egyptian prayers to Osiris.

Of all the saviour and Sun gods worshipped at the beginning of the Christian era,
Osiris probably contributed more details in the evolving Christ figure than any other.
During the first century BCE the Osirian religion was very well established in all parts of the Roman Empire.


Already very old in Egypt, Osiris was identified with nearly every other Egyptian god and was on the way to absorbing them all. He had well over 200 divine names. He was called the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods. He was the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd, Eternity and Everlastingness and the god who made men and women to be born again.


Osiris was to the Egyptians the god-man who suffered and died and rose again and reigned eternally in heaven. Egyptians believed they would inherit eternal life just as Osiris had done.
The same mixture of magic and religion in the worship of Christ and Osiris is very apparent. For example, the notion of resurrection through identification with a resurrected god by eating his flesh, which is the basis for the Christian salvation idea.


Mystery cults everywhere taught that ordinary men could be possessed by the spirits of such gods ad identified with them as “sons” or alter egos as Jesus was. It was the commonly accepted way to acquire supernatural powers as shown by the charms used by magicians.


The coming of Osiris was announced by three stars, in the belt of Orion which point to Osiris’ star Sothius – (Sirius). This is the brightest star in the sky and rises annually in the east. 
The three stars herald the birth of Osiris, for the coming of the Saviour is the season of the Nile flood. 

 Flooding of the Nile 1895

Flooding of the Nile 1895

These three belt stars are named Mintak, Anilam and Alnitak, and were collectively called The Magi until well into the Middle Ages.


In Rome early in the Christian era, Magi were priests of Mithra - who was the original Persian Messiah. The word Magus (plural Magi) means magician, and the name for astrologers was synonymous with magicians and priests in many cultures of the Roman Empire. For example Magos was Persian, Chaldeos Babylonian, Prophetes used by Cabalists. 

 Mithra and Priests

Mithra and Priests

The Christians too took this word and their disciples Simon and Peter were both called Mage in the Acts of Peter and Paul and in Matthew 10:3. These men were examples of Essenes who worshipped the Sun-god (whose priests were Pater, Petra or Peter) and who were gradually assimilated into the Christian story. Christians were very reluctant to discredit any of the Magi and their astrological magic.


(The word Magus is found in our modern words magic, magician and imagination.)
So the three wise men who are inserted into the Christian story– and I speak from the Nile’s mouth being a wise wife of one of those three men – are there because they were Persian/Essenic astrologer-priests, who were skilled in dream interpretation, astronomy and astrology.


Roman Christians retained the Magi in the Gospel version of the birth of Christ because their presence emphasised the evidence of the child’s divinity. Their presence also assimilated Jesus from the original Jewish prophecy mentioned earlier from Numbers - There shall come a star out of Jacob - which is Sirius, meaning Star of Jacob.


Sirius is a fixed star, the brightest star in the Northern hemisphere and found at 13 degrees of the zodical sign Cancer. Cancer is the sign of the Mother and for Sirius rising to symbolise the birth of a divine child is very appropriate. 

 Zodiac of Denderah

Zodiac of Denderah

In the Egyptian zodiac of Denderah, Sirius is symbolised as the resting place of the soul of Isis, the mother of Osiris and is considered a very favourable luminary.


Traditionally the three Magi bore gifts for the Messiah -Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Gold is a precious metal and has always been the symbol of the Sun – our life-giving star and of course represents the King spreading his light afar. 

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King for ever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign.
— Melchior

Frankincense is a gum resin obtained from certain trees in East Africa and Arabia. In pure form it is colourless but it also comes in shades of yellow. 


It has a balsamic smell which intensifies when heated and it burns with a bright white light. It was important as a medicinal in the ancient Arabic trade, and it was valued by the Jews as one of the four constituents of the incense burned in their Sanctuary (Exodus30:34.)

Frankincense to offer have I,
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him, God most high.
— Casper


Myrrh appears at two crucial points in the Christian mythology; at the birth of Jesus and at his death. Myrrh represented the mystic Virgin mother who was known as Miriam, Mari, Myrrha, Myrrh of the Sea.


The pagan’s version of Mary was temple-maiden Myrrha  - who gave birth to Adonis (the Lord) in the same cave in Bethlehem. Myrrh was used as an aphrodisiac incense in Adonis’ rites. Its thorny twigs probably formed the mock crown of the sacred king at the time of his death when he gave his blood for the world.

 The Wine Mixed with Myrrh by Tissot

The Wine Mixed with Myrrh by Tissot


In their story, Christians also called it the Crown of Thorns.
Myrrh was an emblem of Mara a common oriental name for the spirit of death. Myrrh symbolises death and rebirth of a god and was identified too with his holy mother.

Myrrh-resin1.jpeg


It is a gum resin from a tree in Arabia used by Egyptians in the mummification process, which may account for its death symbology.
The Christians wrote myrrh into their story as a prefiguration of their god’s death. Myrrh was also offered to Christ on the cross (Mark15:23) The three Mary’s at the crucifixion bore the same title as the three pagan death goddesses – Myrrhophores – bearers of myrrh.

Myrrh is mine,
Its bitter perfume breathes
A life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
— Balthazar - Rev, John Henry Hopkins 1857


According to a Roman Almanac the Christian festival of Christmas was celebrated in Rome by 336 AD. As Christianity took hold over the West, Epiphany became the day on which the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus was celebrated.

Epiphany.gif

And so I bring these fragments and tatters of lost knowledge to remind you dear reader that stories come and go, but nothing is new under the golden sun. Each ruling regime builds its own myths of power upon the foundations of what has gone before. Superstitions are only remnants of older rituals that have lost their context and therefore their meaning, leaving behind something that still resonates deep within the collective memory.

The Christian story is rapidly being replaced by a corporate capitalist narrative. Hopefully this too will fade and die if the human race can survive our contemporary power elites and earth-destroying systems.

 Tarot Star by Thalia Took

Tarot Star by Thalia Took

The three wise Magi (and their wives) remind us to gaze heavenward and honour our humanity in the wider context of our amazing universe. The star they plotted and followed urges us to look for meaning in our lives within the seasonal cycles of this living planet. Imagination is the true magic. Celebrate hope, birth and the wonder of children this Xmas.

Modern Priestess

I had always thought my profession would be a good one for me as an older woman, because fortune-tellers are more often than not portrayed as old wizened witches. Age then becomes part of the mystique of Reading and is good for business. Furthermore as long as I can see and talk, I can do my work. In fact being a tarot reader is one of the few jobs when being older becomes a badge of respect and not a reason for redundancy.

 Fortune Teller, Albert Anker 1880

Fortune Teller, Albert Anker 1880

And now I am an elder I find it liberating to observe myself as a grumpy old woman living on the edges of the global village, dispensing wisdom gleaned from experience and of course like any witch worth her salt, raging against the of the light.

Yet what is it that I as a fortune-teller actually do? The quick answer is telling peoples’ fortunes from a pack of picture cards and a horoscope. But If I invoke The High Priestess – one of Tarot’s Arcana – here is her response.

The High Priestess as Tarot Reader

 Deviant Moon Tarot 

Deviant Moon Tarot 

As a tarot reader and astrologer I give readings for people. Yet that word reading is ambiguous and one of those slippery words that the English language is full of. It has multiple meanings that depend on context for definition.

St Augustine when musing on the nature of time said ”I know what it is, but when you ask me I don’t know anymore.”

What does it mean to read? What happens when we read? The experience is qualitatively different when we read a newspaper, a scientific treatise, a novel, or poem. It’s different when we read out loud than when we read silently “in our heads”. When we give a tarot or astrological reading we are sharing the reading aloud with someone else – telling the story. But a tarot reader can read the cards for her/himself silently too as a meditation.

Lately I have been calling myself a symbologist because symbols are my stock and trade. So a tarot reader is someone who interprets a symbolic language. Working with pictures is still ‘reading’ in much the same way as we read a dream. What is the nature of this interpretive experience? 

  Oswald Wirth

Oswald Wirth

Reading in an interpretative way for self or other is different to the kind of reading we do in our daily lives, which is usually primarily directed towards information gathering. Normally the words on the page are meant to be taken literally – they are tools to get the job done and accomplish the business of the marketplace etc.

Then there’s the kind of reading I do heaps of – reading novels, biographies, poetry. It is then we come across the transformative power of words which have a much more spacious meaning.

Stepping into a poem or a novel is a bit like the pagan Priestess entering into a temple to conduct her divinations. The poem once entered becomes a kind of sacred space where extraordinary things are bound to happen. 

 Egyptian Princess, John Waguelin 19th Century

Egyptian Princess, John Waguelin 19th Century

 Roman Priestess, 1519 Antonio da Correggio, San Paolo, Parma

Roman Priestess, 1519 Antonio da Correggio, San Paolo, Parma

As soon as the frontier of the poem– its literal meaning - is crossed, the reader gains entry to a place that is no place – vast in extent and signals are registered directly on the heart.

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry-
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll-
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul
— Emily Dickenson © 1873
 Emily Dickenson

Emily Dickenson

There’s a non-verbal aspect of reading which just can’t be expressed in words even though words take you there. When we read, the mind and heart join together with the imagination taking us into an ineffable zone.

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke observes “most events are inexpressible taking place in a realm where no word has entered”. 

 Rainer maria Rilke

Rainer maria Rilke

To add to the paradox the words a poem utilizes are no different from the words in a newspaper. The same ones appear in both places and the same dictionary definitions apply. How then can we account for the difference between a poem and what is not a poem?

Confusion reigns around this paradox especially in religious texts like the Bible or the Koran which are taken as “god’s word” .These books are by nature poetic and enigmatic, nevertheless many readers insist on taking them literally as if reading a newspaper.

I think astrology and tarot are like a form of poetry – astrology employs glyphs, correspondences to the natural world and mythology, while tarot uses the visual codes of art. But both use words to work the patterns. If practiced successfully, these symbolic languages represent a way of knowing that is totally “other” than that of the scientific method which is itself steeped in literalism. 

Astrology/tarot work with consciousness operating under a different set of rules than the literalist and technologist culture we live in.

Most importantly, astrology and tarot like all oracles are oral languages.

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day
— Emily Dickinson © 1872

Tarot readers are part of an aural and oral tradition, and belong to a long lineage of oracular workers. Fortune-tellers are certainly one of the oldest professions in the world – and are aligned with the harlot who has taken that phrase as her own. Indeed, the act of prostitution in many ways imitates a tarot reading in its intimacy between strangers.

 Tarot of Delphi

Tarot of Delphi

A reader, like a Priestess is an Oracle - a word that means 'to speak' (oraca). An oracle was considered the voice of god - the gods - and through the oracle we heard the divine word. Temples in the ancient world were always a place of oracles and divination. Dream interpretations and trance mediums were normal ways to receive the word of the divine = divination. For thousands of years, oracles were consulted on all important affairs of state in the ancient world.

Oracles are ambiguous and can be interpreted in more than one way.

“Words of an oracle are like a seed. They are densely packed, filled with meaning. They contain inner dimensions which become apparent only in the course of time.”
— An adage of the ancient Greeks

Interestingly foresight and hindsight are inter-related and we often only understand an oracle’s power in hindsight.

The tarot card of the High Priestess embraces meanings related to both seeing into the future as well as holding memory and wisdom from the past. She sits in a space between time.

 Sybil

Sybil

The Delphic Oracle’s adage “Know Thyself” is vital for a Priestess and tarot reader. An oracle must come through a clear channel which requires self-understanding. A seeker attempts to watch and listen, aligning her/himself with the cosmos in which everything is alive and has meaning (is sacred). The belief behind tarot reading is that the universe and self are one; tarot reading is a practical expression of this belief. We have to “read” or divine the meaning of the cosmos, rather like a sacred weather forecaster.

 Wildwood Tarot

Wildwood Tarot

My job as an astrologer and tarot reader allows me the privilege of considering other people’s private and subjective lives. (consider is a word whose root source meant ‘at one with the stars’). Inner and outer space are aligned and the cards or the horoscope are a mirror that reflects both.

My role is similar to that of a confessor and server of absolution just like the local priest - or witch dispensing folk therapy.

Other roles I play are:-

  • Lost Property Officer – finding lost objects lost pets, lost property, lost souls.
  • Complaints Dept.
  • Professional Friend
  • Counsellor, Therapist.
  • Guide to appropriate social services such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Sexual Abuse Survivors Support.
  • Coach, motivator, mentor.

A tarot Reader is a facilitator of creative processes in oneself and in others, for we are adept at uncovering creative potential and facilitating consciousness- raising.

The beauty of using the symbolic language of astrology or tarot is that it acts as a meditative tool for support on a spiritual path or in developing one’s own intuitive faculties. Yet it is practical too and encourages decision-making and problem solving.

One of its side-effects of course, and maybe what the greater public thinks of its main raison d’etre, is prediction. I think a reader is doing the same kind of job as an economic or weather forecaster – predicting the emotional financial or political weather for an individual or event.

Astrology and tarot are navigational tools for time travel through the past, present and future.

 Delphi

Delphi

I proudly practice one of the Oldest Professions, despite being still seen as the harlot by the social arbitrators and gatekeepers of the mainstream of modernity, such as the media, the scientists and rationalists/sceptics.

Like a whore, readers are now practicing in a marginally safer climate than we have occupied previously for hundreds of years. However that safety is still tentative.

Presently in NZ as workers we do have our own classification under the Entertainment Industry and we are protected by Statute for legal and tax purposes. Yet it still feels as if we kind of live under the radar, on the edges.

 The Fortune Teller, Maccari

The Fortune Teller, Maccari

When looking at the role I play in my professional life as a tarot reader and the lifestyle it engenders - especially vis a vis the mainstream culture – I do feel very much within the tradition of the oldest profession.

I feel like an old witch on the outskirts of the village, peering into my crystal ball of prediction at fairgrounds or at the corporate parties or within the homes of private citizens having a party (I’m the Entertainment and often costumed to reflect that role). I am as cloistered as any nun whether I’m working from home or from the local Community Centre.

The media rings me up and wants statements they won’t pay for about the state of the nation, and if they do report me it’s garbled or distorted or badly edited. I’m treated like a heretic and excommunicated from society’s institutions such as University, locked out financially as well as from discoursing intellectually on a level playing ground.

 Minoan Tarot

Minoan Tarot

As a tarot reader I am working with the picture stories of my European culture’s heritage and its treasury of symbols in encoded form. I work in an oral and aural tradition which belongs to the story-teller, the old wife telling her tales, the keeper of old stories.

I use tarot like a story that is a medicine which strengthens and supports the individual and the community.

Us High Priestesses/tarot readers are modern storytellers and are the descendants of an immense and ancient community of holy people, troubadours, bards, cantors travelling poets, bums, hags and crazy people.

 Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Clarissa Pinkola Estes who wrote Women Who Run with the Wolves writes she once dreamt she was telling stories and felt someone patting her foot in encouragement. She looked down and saw she was standing on the shoulders of an old woman who was steadying her ankles and smiling up at her.

She said to the old woman “no, no come and stand on my shoulders for you are old and I am young”.

“No, no” she insisted, “this is the way it is supposed to be.”

Clarissa saw then that the old lady stood on the shoulders of a woman far older than she, who stood on the shoulders of a woman even older, who stood on the shoulders of a woman in robes, who stood on the shoulders of another soul, who stood on the shoulders…..

Clarissa believed the old dream-woman about the way it was supposed to be.

The nurture for telling or hearing stories comes from those who have gone before. We draw our power from a towering column of humanity joined to one another across time and space, elaborately dressed in rags or robes or nakedness of their time and filled to bursting with life still being lived.

 Songs For the Journey Home

Songs For the Journey Home

to cure sometimes to help often, to comfort always
— 16th Century French Proverb


Bibliography
John P. O’Grady  in The Mountain Astrologer p49 Issue Aug/Sept 08
Clarissa Pinkola Estes  Women Who Run with the Wolves

Pluto Unmasked

In December 1972, an historic photograph was taken from space, of our Planet Earth. For the very first time we humans saw our home planet as a beautiful blue ball against a backdrop of the dark space of starry infinity.
The spacecraft Apollo 17 on its way to the Moon shot that first photograph of Earth in its round, blue beauty.

 Since then this photo has become the most frequently published, the most famous photo of all time. Its use as an icon by everyone on the globe forever altered human consciousness – of ourselves, of earth and of our place in the cosmos. That photo unleashed a new idea into our world as powerful as any idea history has previously let loose. 
The photograph offered to humanity a vision of a beautiful yet vulnerable home planet and celebrated the birth of global consciousness.

Of course the global village had been conceptualised earlier than 1972. John Lennon’s popular song Imagine released in 1971 encapsulated the entrancement with and yearning for this idea of unity.

Imagine there’s no countries –
It isn’t hard to do…
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the worldyu-huh,
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one –
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.
— John Lennon

Yet a picture communicates in a different language. The power of the idea that the world-is one, burst into flower deep within the human family’s consciousness, when that famous photo of our blue Earth was published over and over again. The incomparable sight of our home viewed from space elicits a profound emotional response. It made real – as only a visual image can – that a new connection was established between humans and their home planet.

It seems to me that even the wisest of philosophers of the Renaissance or the most daring minds from the past could not estimate the real size of our planet. Earlier, it seemed unmeasurably great, almost infinite. Only after the middle of this century did man ( read human (ed.) – having gone up above the Earth into space, see with surprise and disbelief just how small the Earth really is. Some saw it as an island in the limitless ocean of creation. Some compared it to a spaceship with a crew numbering more than 6 billion.
— Pavel Popovich on the USSR Vostok, 4th August 1962
Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty – but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That’s where life is: that’s where all the good stuff is.
— Loren Acton on the USA Challenger, 8th July 1985

3 years has passed since that first photo, and the creation of the World Wide Web has revolutionised our lives with its instant communication that unites the planet in ways we could never have dreamed. 
Since 1972, space travel and its technology have undergone huge change. Humanity has become used to pictures from space – we have seen the sparks of light in our sky turn into astonishingly real physical worlds before our eyes. The different planets and their Moons in our solar system have revealed themselves. Even the faraway reaches beyond have bewitched our curiosity thanks to the Hubble telescope.

And now in mid- July 2015 (just a few days off the 46th anniversary of men landing on our Moon) there was a brief buzz in the world’s media when humanity was presented with another historic picture.
On the far, far outreaches of our solar system, Pluto was photographed. 12,000 kilometres away, we Earth-dwellers saw the extraordinary sight of Pluto in its glory.

If ever we need reminders that humanity is capable of reason and ability to work collectively, co-operatively in a peaceful endeavour – well here we have yet another transcendent example.

The commentators reminded us the vehicle (New Horizons) that snapped the Pluto shots was launched on January 19th 2006. The computers on board are 10 years old (gasp - Old as!!!!). 
It takes as much power to run as that of a domestic frig (the modem has the power supply of 24 K). 

The jubilant team of scientists who worked on this project have devoted two decades of their lives to this project. When New Horizons left Earth, they couldn’t pinpoint exactly where Pluto would be - but the flyby arrived within 72 seconds of when they expected it would.

New Horizons is the size of a grand piano and is still now hurtling beyond Pluto and its fellow Charon - out into the vastness of the dark matter we call space. It will take 16 months to transmit the data load of 50 gigabytes of Pluto photos etc, back to Earth as the little robot travels onwards deeper into the Kuiper Belt.

Those clever happy people at NASA will study and share this brand new knowledge with us. The euphoria those scientists felt on July 15th – is also shared by all of us humans who were moved by this momentous accomplishment.

It makes me proud to be a human here and now. Like listening to a Mozart opera or reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables for the first time, this is a sublime moment that makes the human heart swell with grace.

pluto scientists.jpg

As an astrologer I was intrigued to see what the heavens would speak about this event. Yet the skymap we call the horoscope, didn’t transmit the symbolism of this moment as strongly to me, as did the events that were occurring simultaneously in the world itself, during that momentous week.
It was a Big News week, and I began to explore the nature of these momentous events in conjunction with the planet revealing its face for the first time. 

All our planets are named after the ancient Greek god/desses. I think of the god/desses as symbolic archetypal stories that describe the huge impersonal life forces that we are all subject to on Earth. There are god/desses that describe the powers of Love and Beauty, War, Religious experience, Communication and Travel etc etc. Astrology is the art/science tradition of describing the combination of these different forces in our lives.

If humanity unmasks a god named Pluto, what might we expect?

 Pluto by Agostino Carracci, 1592

Pluto by Agostino Carracci, 1592

Pluto is the Greek god of the underworld and in psychological parlance the unconscious. He rules the land of the dead. Charon (the planets’ travelling companion Moon) is the ferryman who transports us to Pluto’s realm. In mythology Pluto wears an invisible cloak when he comes to the land of the living so we mortals don’t see him until he has violated and taken us down.

Now we mortals have violated the god’s invisibility and gazed upon his face.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 as fascism was on the rise; atomic energy was being harnessed to soon create the atomic bomb and nuclear power. Pluto’s name is Death and power is this god’s game.
Under Pluto’s influence we have to face power, whether it be our own or power of others over us. When impersonal force/fate knocks us down, or we are visited by such events as rape, violent crime, compulsive or obsessive behaviour - Pluto is laying his cold hand upon us. We must then face the dark journey to his realm and learn how to (hopefully) empower ourselves. The alternative is to stay forever in his Underworld.

His name originates from Plutos meaning wealth. He is the god who turned everything the compulsively greedy Midas touched into gold – and as Midas discovered to his horror - death. 
Pluto’s wealth is underground – whether its oil, gold, diamonds-  we have to dig for his wealth in the darkness of his realm.

In astrology the passage of Pluto marks a decay, death, and rebirth cycle when we must plumb the depths, eliminate and clear out any toxic waste, break taboos.
Pluto moves us into the unconscious areas of shadow and transgression before we can breakthrough into the light once more.
Get the picture?

During the week when Pluto ceased to be a symbol, a myth and a faraway planet in the cold outreaches of our solar system and we saw the god for the first time, this happened;-

1. Iran agreed to a long-term nuclear deal with the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany.  Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities in return for the lifting of crippling sanctions.

This is widely seen as an historic peace deal reached between the East and the West that was twelve years in the making and took the last 23 months of negotiating.
Iran is on the verge of economic bankruptcy, its oil and gas industries have been crippled and its employment high. Its assets overseas have been frozen and its people been subject to travelling sanctions. The sanctions had destroyed Iran’s private sector and its public sector was struggling.

The deal signals a new birth for Iran. Its young population is in the majority. The under 40 years old are highly educated, and if the Treaty is ratified many professional people who had left can come home. Iran is a home to many religions and different ethnicities, and has not only a high rate of education, but highest in the Middle East for women. Modernity has a strong hold on Iran. This deal is good for the democratisation of Iran for it will encourage civil society.

Iran is a country that has been demonised in the West. Remember Ronald Reagan naming it as one of the ‘Axis of Evil’…Pluto always describes our demons.

Now this deal brings the country back into the world community. It opens the potential for diplomatic resolutions for issues such as Syria. 


A rebirth of relationships between East and West has been seeded.

2. Greece was humiliated and punished by the troika (representing the European nations) the big three money thugs who are part of the world’s 1% elite. Greece was forced - on its knees - to a deal that sacrifices its sovereignty, despite its people’s democratically expressed wishes.

http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/07/europes-vindictive-privatization-plan-for-greece/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook
 

For some time, the world has watched an ongoing shaming of this country. We have been bystanders viewing the classic scenario of the strong bullying the weak.

 Athens Soup Kitchen

Athens Soup Kitchen

This is Pluto’s well-worn terrain. Historically the world has been witness to this scenario many times; notably after World War 1 when the winners financially punished Germany and pushed it into impoverishment and ultimately Nazism.

Under Pluto’s eye, in 2015 the rulers of the European Union behaved like a dysfunctional family, scolding the Greek scapegoat who has been disobedient and unable to follow the authorities’ irrational ‘rules. 

Stricken Greece was asking for some debt-relief and aid to better grow its shrunken economy. Despite, and probably because of its show of democratic power in the referendum, the Greeks were bought to their knees, as the Euro Troika forced upon them an impossible deal of austerity and privatisation. An austerity that has already been proven to create misery, is self-perpetuating and self-defeating. 
And Doesn’t Work.

pluto greek demos.jpg

Greece is a sinking shipwreck that the world watches as the inevitable occurs – a catastrophic collapse of a nation. 

The future of the Euro Union, with the moneymen at its helm is at stake too. The Titanic springs to mind – a mighty accomplishment that its creators heralded as invulnerable, until it met an iceberg rearing out of the mist. I would suggest that Greece is that iceberg.

I think it deeply ironic that Greece is the home of the idea of democracy.

The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace –
Where Delos rose, and Phoebe sprung!
Eternal Summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
— Lord Byron 1819

3. China’s sharemarket experienced a near-death experience – the Plutonic symbolism is startling. China experienced a financial earthquake that lost 3 trillion dollars (10 times more than the Greek debt). Tens of millions of its small shareholders investments (working class families’ savings) were wiped out. China’s government massive intervention calmed the market somewhat but the markets – epicentre of China’s economic reforms - continue to be highly volatile, with more slippages continuing.

China’s future remains unclear. It has a capitalist stock market, being played like a casino by tens of millions of freebooting speculators, right in the middle of a society purporting to be socialist and run by a communist party with a deep affinity for rigid interventionist controls. Its uneasy fusion of communism and free-market economics is a system with no precedent and no operating manual.
This contradiction running like a fault line throughout the world’s second biggest economy, makes outcomes impossible to predict.

4. Major tech glitches in computer software took down three large corporations in USA.
United Airways, the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street Journal’s websites - all ground to a halt. 
Planes were at a standstill amidst scenes of chaos, trading stopped in the Stock Exchange (centre of the world’s financial business) and the Journal’s website flatlined. Immediately the public was told it wasn’t a co-ordinated cyber attack, but the mystery still remains as to what really did happen.  

 "I'm in Hell" at United Airways

"I'm in Hell" at United Airways

Just a “very bad day”? 
A rather dark mystery (mystery is Pluto’s fodder) that serves to tell that the technology we take for granted is not bullet-proof. 

These three companies are all business operations that rely on massive computer systems. Automated software is complex (involving millions of lines of computer code) and a single error – even a misplaced text - can grind the whole system to a halt.

Whether human error or deliberate hacking creates a breakdown, Pluto’s little joke has highlighted how easy chaos can happen. Our increased dependency on undependable things has been displayed, putting us on warning how incredibly quickly a cascading failure can lead to pandemonium.

5. In Aotearoa, milk prices crashed disastrously due to a slump in the world markets and the next day Fonterra cut 523 jobs in lower and middle management.
Pluto rules elimination and ruthlessness.
Fonterra is a good example of the way neo-liberalism works in our small country.
More than 4000 of its 18000 world-wide staff earn at least $100,000 per year, while 17 staff earn more than $1 million annually.
The Chief Exectutive Theo Spierings earns $4.18 million p.a, following a $660,000 pay rise last year.
The redundancies the elite management are making are justified in the name of “efficiency” (exactly why they had all those people working before is a mystery to me – presumably before they were let go, they were all involved in inefficient work). The savings the diary giant (monopoly) is presumed to be making is said to be up to $60 million (don’t hold your breath) but meanwhile $15 to $17 million will be paid out in redundancy packages.

 Farmer Murray Beach

Farmer Murray Beach

Pluto rules anything we might call ” mega”
Fonterra's highest earners
•    $100,000 - $200,000: 3482 staff
•    $200,001 - $300,000: 402 staff
•    $300,001 - $400,000: 138 staff
•    $400,001 - $500,000: 66 staff
•    $500,001 - $600,000: 29 staff
•    $600,001 - $700,000: 13 staff
•    $700,001 - $800,000: 15 staff
•    $800,001 - $900,000: 6 staff
•    $900,001 - $1 million: 8 staff
•    $1 million - $2 million: 13 staff
•    $2 million - $3 million: 2 staff
•    $3 million - $4 million: 1 staff
•    $4 million - $5 million: 1 staff

None of these high-earners have of course been made redundant. Redundancy is for the losers at the bottom of the ladder.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/278949/fonterra-defends-top-salaries-after-cuts

pluto cows.JPG

"Fairly Ugly” 

The scale of the drop in diary prices overnight –  10.7 percent - came “as a shock” to the federated Farmers and pushed down the NZ dollar by about 2% against the American dollar.
This drop is the ninth consecutive fall and the whole milk price affects Fonterra’s forecast payout to its farmer shareholders.
The backbone of the economy of Aotearoa is dependent upon our farming primary industry.

The government prides itself that the dairy industry is ‘unsubsidised’. 
However dairy farming’s unsustainable practices directly causes massive environmental degradation of our waterways and soils with immunity. It pays no carbon-tax. Is this not a form of subsidisation?

If you doubt what is actually going on in the dairy industry's continued pollution of the waterways of Aotearoa, please read this:- 
Dr Mike Joy: Paradise Squandered;New Zealand’s Environmental Asset Stripping.
http://www.nzfishingclubs.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2014-Bruce-Jesson-Mike-Joy-Lecture.pdf

Citizens and animals alike are all actually heavily subsidising the dairy farmers –Everyone is paying – and will go on paying for a long, long time for this pollution. 
Pluto rules the toxic, the hidden costs, the muck at the bottom that was buried in secret.

What the follow-on effects will be on the slumped world milk prices will be on our small country’s so-called “rock-star economy” is hard to say. But we are already in a precarious situation due to the neo-liberal policies that both Labour and National parties have adopted since 1984.

Over the last few decades an experiment has been conducted by its leaders upon us Kiwis. An extreme version of deregulation and privatisation has dismantled our welfare system. Aotearoa has become “vastly more unequal, lost the majority of its industries, opened itself to capital flows that were supposed to create competitive businesses and new jobs, but never did. Foreigners with money speculate on our non-productive assets or push up our dollar to take advantage of high-interest term deposits. “ 
http://bat-bean-beam.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/how-new-zealand-works.html

Aotearoa is not alone in this trend – it is part of a world-wide movement that has sold us de-regulation, consumerism and increasing inequality. Commercial interests consistently shape all politics and policies at the expense of human and environmental concerns.

Since that 1972 photo of planet Earth, humanity’s leaders and shapers of policy have constantly denied or ignored any understanding of the fragility of our home planet.

Despite the intellectuals, creatives, scientists and humanitarians battling constantly to be heard, nothing has prevented the ongoing barbarity of war, genocide, disparity of wealth distribution, slavery, misogyny, racism and religious intolerance.

The human species seems hell bent on despoiling our planetary nest with horrendous environmental destruction, unleashing mindless climate change and an historic extinction of other species which runs parallel with over-population of desperately impoverished humans.

We seem to believe that we are gods who can act with impunity upon our habitat. Despite our clever monkey minds, it is as if we cannot recognise our human dependence on the environment, or comprehend that we need the planet more than it needs us.

As a species we have been peculiarly blind in our inability to change our national or global social, political, economic and legal structures that could make a reality of this imperative.

From space I saw Earth – indescribably beautiful with the scars of national boundaries gone.
— Muhammad Ahmad Faris from Syria Soyuz TM3, July 1987

Now in 2015, despite the change of consciousness accompanied by the extraordinary technological realities of global communications and travel, the scars of national boundaries seem ever deeper. 

he five big events of mid-July I’ve listed will all have unknown consequences. But if I link them all into the Pluto archetype then we can be sure they are depositing us earth inhabitants somewhere along the spectrum of the decay, death, rebirth cycle. Metamorphosis is always the driving necessity of this Plutonic cycle.

I believe that Earth - particularly in relationship to the human species - has entered a hospice stage of development, as we steer our Ship of Fools to the precipice of no-return catastrophes. This would place us on the decay/death part of Pluto’s cycle.

I am hoping that Pluto’s unveiling might begin to give us hope in believing we can transform ourselves through the huge changes that are coming up for us all. We might then begin to move into the rebirthing and regenerating stage.

One of the biggest global unifiers that has occurred throughout our world since the 1970s is the creation and rise of a new global empire

George Orwell’s strangely prescient novel 1984 has come to pass. In an Orwellian coup a global empire has been born in the name of freedom that has granted us its opposite.

We have named it globalisation without paying much attention to whom and what is behind this name. Its ideology we call neo liberalism which has enjoyed a rapid rise to power over every aspect of our macro and micro lives.
The ‘Market’ rules supreme over its’ level playing field’.
The gradual removal of barriers to international trade has intensified competition which is worshipped like a god itself.
International cities have become more and more similar. MacDonald’s here, MacDonald’s there. Pay with your Mastercard or Visa everywhere and anywhere you go….the world for sale.

This is a new Empire, but unlike the Roman or American Empire, it is one of global capital and corporations. These giants have taken over - by stealth - national governments, media outlets, once publicly-owned assets. The huge conglomerates that are banks and corporations have acquired enormous and seemingly unlimited power over both individuals as well as our nation states. They go on consolidating their power every day. 

Under neo-liberalism 1% of people now rule the world. In January 2015, the share of the world's wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year. 

According to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam, the wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world's population,.
On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world's wealth by 2016.
In NZ the top 1% own 17% of the wealth of NZ.

This elite have all kinds of cunning ways not to pay taxes to the common wealth. Instead they take our taxes and tithe us in hidden ways (environmental degradation being only one of these).

Ordinary folks’ wages and living conditions are constantly driven downwards to fund the impossibly rich’s bank accounts. When the banks fail due to their greed, as in 2008, ordinary folks’ taxes pay for their bailout.  Dirty politics have ensured that spying by governments on the populace is taken for granted. Foreign investors buy our houses and land.

Bill English ( Minister of Finance) spouts that Climate change can’t be incorporated into any economic policy because there would be’ too much red tape’…Auckland’s Supercity councillors discuss selling our city’s assets – privatisation marches inexorably onwards…

Free trade costs the earth.
Soon our NZ government will have signed over our sovereignty under a new trade agreement –TPPA ; a deal that is being negotiated and will be signed in secrecy. This deal will lock Aotearoa into even more minimal regulation. Commercial considerations rule supreme over any of our cultural, social or educational realities.

All of what I have written here about the global takeover fits the Pluto constellation like of glove. Devouring, greedy, all consuming, power-hungry; enormous wealth and unequal distribution; demonising of the ‘Other’, stealthy power machinations, dirty politics.

The unified world is suffering energy depletion, climate change and migration on a previously unimagined scale – all due to this global empire of the wealthy elite and their minions such as John Key, Tony Abbott and others of their political ilk. 

Capitalism is being inevitably altered and will become unworkable soon enough. 
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun

It may be a combo of external factors such as extreme weather events, a world plague, oil prices falling, another bank crisis, and desperate refugees/migrants flooding into already overloaded countries – that will trigger the domino effect of the world’s house of cards.

Or the social order and functional infrastructures might implode from within (such as we are witnessing in Greece) due to impoverishment and despoliation of the natural and social environment, helped along by punitive monetarist financial policies visited upon the suffering populace. 

It may be all of the above – but whatever and however, we have gazed upon the face of the god of Death and must accept Pluto’s challenge to begin the work of killing off the untenable so we can regenerate a different kind of world. We must begin to visualise a future for our human family that reflects the beauty and harmony of our Blue Planet, our Home Planet.