Friday, May 27, 2011

Nodal Shifts and Eclipses

Partial Solar Eclipse June 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm pdt,
Full Lunar Eclipse July 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm pdt, and
Partial Solar Eclipse July 1, 2011 at 1:54 am pdt

The month of June will begin under the influence of a partial Solar eclipse, the first in the Taurus(Ketu)/Scorpio(Rahu) axis series if you use a true node calculation, and the final one of the Gemini(Ketu)/Sagittarius(Rahu) axis series if you use a mean node. No matter which calculation astrologers prefer, the change of nodal signs is upon us sandwiching the lunar Rahu eclipse of June 15 between two partial Ketu solar eclipses. As we shall see, these two axes are associated with ancient mythological archetypes that may resurface under the influence of the upcoming eclipses.

Regular readers of this blog may remember that an eclipse is defined as an astronomical event in which one celestial object moves into the shadow of another. To find out more about how an eclipse works, check out the informative illustrations on Shadow and Substance . As the image below indicates, the first eclipse will be visible only from high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere such as Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and portions of northeastern Asia.

This image shows the partial solar eclipse’s path on June 1, 2011 through the different shades of red depicting the eclipse's visibility. The path of the partial solar eclipse begins at sunrise in Siberia and northern China at 19:25:18 Universal Time (UT). The eclipse’s path will travel northeast and end at 23:06:56 UT, just north of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean.

Keep in mind that solar eclipses always occurs during a new Moon when the monthly conjunction of Moon and Sun aligns on the ecliptic (the path of the Sun around the Earth), represented by the Nodes, and the Moon's shadow completely blocks the full light of the Sun from reaching the earth. During a full solar eclipse this phenomenon is dramatic, darkening daytime sky, and literally shifting its light and shadow patterns. The shadows that are cast on the earth during this time are a carbon copy of the eclipse above. It is rather surreal, and thus associated with psychological disturbances, shadow issues, and fear. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the new Moon’s shadow misses the earth, but passes very close to it. It is not as potent as a full solar eclipse, but still has a disturbing effect.

A lunar eclipse always occurs during a full Moon as the Earth itself crosses the ecliptic between the Sun and Moon. The resulting shadow cast by the Earth creates an eerie red glow on the Moon. Since a full Moon is traditionally viewed as a time of heightened emotional and psychic activity, the effects of a lunar eclipse amplify this energy and may give results ranging from the gift of new insight to the release of repressed emotions. It too may be full or partial.

The North and South Nodes of the Moon are actually points where the Moon crosses the ecliptic, the Sun's path in the sky.

The ascending or North Node, called Rahu, the dragon's head, is where the Moon crosses to the north of the ecliptic. The descending or South node, called Ketu, the dragon's tail, is where it crosses to the south. Rahu is described as the enemy of the Moon, or Negative Moon and may bring negative mental states such as psychosis, paranoia, illusion and trance. Ketu is called the enemy of the Sun, and as the Negative Sun it may bring self-doubt, lack of confidence and self worth, or its opposite megalomania. Because of their ability to swallow the Sun and the Moon and then return them imprinted with new information, Rahu and Ketu are associated and death and rebirth, they are viewed as indicators of karma.

Ancient sky watchers viewed the Nodes as dragon's head or tail that swallowed the Sun and Moon creating eclipses and signaling dramatic change. There are many allegorical stories about the snakes and dragons of the lunar nodes. In Hindu mythology, the story of the creation of the nodes has to do with obtaining the elixir of immortality. According to legend, there was an ancient battle between the devas (demigods) and asuras (demons) for the control of the universe. At the center of it was a great cosmic ocean that was being churned to find and release amrita- the nectar of immortality.

It was believed that any being who drank of this soma would live forever. The devas did not wish the asuras to have this nectar as they felt that the demons would use it for the wrong purpose. But the demon Swarbhanu was smarter than all the others and managed to secretly drink the divine nectar of immortality. When the Sun and Moon saw his deceptive act, they alerted the gods, which ultimately made them the enemy of the nodes. The gods sent Vishnu, disguised as the distractingly beautiful woman Mohini, to stop the demon. Before the demon realized what was happening, Vishnu cut off his head.

As Swarbhanu had already tasted the divine elixir, the disembodied head remained immortal and became known as Rahu. And the headless body became Ketu. Thus, because of this desire for divine nectar, Rahu is associated with intoxication and is an indicator of obsession with power and fame (immortality). Rahu on a physical plane gives insatiable desire to achieve, to conquer, and to possess.

Ketu is what remains of the body of Rahu, the headless tail. The lost head symbolizes the loss of the thinking mind. The headless body may also represent an enlightened being who is freed from the thinking mind. As opposed to Rahu's affliction of the mind, Ketu can afflict the body. It is a moksha-karaka, indicator of liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Ketu can bestow great insight and healing ability, or it may place obstacles that ultimately change how one thinks. It brings spiritual tendencies, ascetism and non-attachment to worldly desires and ambitions, and it balances the materialistic compulsion of Rahu with its impulse to enlightenment.

Eclipse patterns occur in pairs every six months when Rahu and Ketu align with that month's full and new Moons. As the Nodes are not physical, but two points at which the orbit of the Moon intersects the ecliptic, they are assigned the status of shadow planets, called chayya grahas in Vedic astrology. Depending how close the Nodes come to a new or full Moon will effect whether the shadow of the eclipse is total or partial. In 2011 all four solar eclipses are partial and the two lunar eclipses are full which has not happened since 2000 when the nodes changed from the Cancer(Rahu)/Capricorn(Ketu) axis to Gemini(Rahu)/Sagittarius(Ketu) axis. Rahu and Ketu effect eclipse patterns in two different ways. Rahu will have more effect eclipsing its enemy, the Moon, than the Sun; and Ketu will have more power to effect its enemy the Sun than the Moon. Thus we might even describe an eclipse by the node that effects it. So this summer's solar eclipses are considered Ketu eclipses, whereas the lunar eclipse will be a Rahu eclipse. This winter the eclipses will be under the opposite effect, Rahu will effect the solar eclipses and Ketu the lunar eclipses.

Rahu and Ketu are different from the other planets in that they move in a retrograde motion through the zodiac. The axis of the Lunar Nodes moves backwards taking 18 months to transit one sign and nearly 18.5 years to make a complete trip. Ancient astronomers tracked the nodes by calculating the average rate of motion called the Mean Node. However, in reality, the Nodes have a small wobble. Once modern astronomers obtained instruments sensitive enough to measure this wobble, they began to plot its course and call this position the True Node. Although the Nodes move around the Zodiac in a retrograde direction, the True Node is sometimes direct due to the "wobble" effect, whereas the Mean Node is always retrograde.

It is said that there is a curse on astrologers to disagree, and there certainly seems to be no agreement among astrologers as to which calculation is better to use in chart analysis. Although there are valid arguments supporting the choice to use either one, the primary difference is only becomes apparent when the nodes change signs. I tend to stick to one, the Mean node, and use it consistently. I also tend to think of some of these partial eclipses as "out of sign" eclipses, meaning the lunation occurs in one sign while the nodes are in another. To me this means that the effects are not as intense as when they occupy the same sign.

Using a Mean node in this summer's charts of eclipse patterns, the solar eclipses take place in the "out of sign" positions for the mean node calculation by at least 15 degrees, but the full moon lunar eclipse on June 15 occurs at 00:22 degrees Sagittarius with Rahu just seconds away at 29:29 degrees of Scorpio. And it seems that the lunar eclipse may be the most potent of the three, especially as it falls in critical gandanta degrees.

Gandanta is traditionally described as an inauspicious position causing misery to the area of influence of the planet. In Sanskrit gand means knot, or node, and anta means end. It refers to the juncture between water and fire, in particular last 3 degrees of a water sign, and first three degrees of a fire sign -- at the three distinct junctions: Pisces (Revati)- Aries (Aswini), Cancer (Ashlesha)- Leo (Magha), and Scorpio (Jyeshta)- Sagittarius (Mula). All the fire nakshatras of the gandanta degrees are ruled by Ketu and all the water nakshatras are ruled by Mercury which has a subtle connection to the nodes, especially Rahu. According to Prash Trivedi, "some wise men suggest that Mercury has a quarter influence of the nodes attached to it even when it has no relationship to them in a chart."

When planets travel through gandanta positions, they take on a special power to unravel knots of karma and move on to the next level by transmuting water to fire. If a planets falls in the last three degrees of water sign, it is completing an old cycle; if it falls in the first three degree of a fire sign is beginning a new cycle. Some astrologers do not consider a retrograding planet to be under the effects of gandanta as it travels the opposite way from fire to water, but I do -- especially since Ketu rules the early degrees of all fire signs.

Gandanta is all about karma, and as Komilla Sutton writes in her book The Lunar Nodes: "Like beads on a necklace, previous lifetimes are interconnected by an invisible thread -- which is Rahu-Ketu." Both Nodes are indicators and lords of karma in the birth chart, and they reveal both our past (Ketu)and future (Rahu) karmas. When the shadow planets Rahu and Ketu undergo retrograde patterns through gandanta degrees the opportunity to address these karmic knots is amplified. One can either begin to understand and release past karmas, or one can tighten the knot and create new ones during this eclipse time period.

By the time of the lunar eclipse on June 15, 2011 Rahu will have emerged from the fires of Sagittarius, home of the galactic center, to the waters of mysterious Scorpio in the Nakshatra of Jyeshta. The Nakshatra Jyeshta contains three stars that the ancient seers described as an umbrella or earring. Its name means the eldest or most senior, and some scholars suggest that originally there were only 18 nakshtras with Jyeshta designating the last lunar mansion. I believe it may also have a deeper astronomical reference to the oldest part of our galaxy, the galactic center.

Jyeshta is the last step before we come back to a rebirth at the root of the Galaxy, literally Mula also called the Vishnuabi, or Vishnu's belly button, the center from which our entire galaxy grew. Depictions of Vishnu, the preserver, often portray him asleep dreaming on the coiled-up thousand-hooded Shesha Naga, with his consort Lakshmi, floating on the Kshira Sagar meaning 'ocean of milk,' the Milky Way.

These stars are also associated with the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. This snake handler may represent the legendary ancient Greek healer Aesclepius who learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another serpent healing herbs. Like the Nagas of Hindu mythology, snakes are symbols of wisdom, secret knowledge, and immortality. To prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal, Zeus killed Aesclepius with a bolt of lightning (also one of Indra's favorite weapons), and later placed his image in the heavens to honor his good works.

Astronomical images of Ophiuchus depict Aesculepius resting his foot on Scorpius, the Scorpion. In Greek lore the great earth goddess Gaia sent Scorpius to kill Orion, the Hunter, who had threatened to hunt down all the animals of the Earth. Scorpius stings Orion, who would have died had it not been for the intervention of Aesculapius. Aesculepius gave Orion a sip of the Divine Elixir, revealed by serpents, that restored him to health. In Hindu myth amrita is the divine elixir of mortality that Rahu so desperately desired and ultimately drank. So it seems the ancient Gods did not want humans or demons to drink this potion and share in the ultimate gift of immortality. It is an intriguing synchronicity or preview to its upcoming influence that Ophiuchus made the headlines shortly after the previous solar eclipse in January -- as I discussed in a previous post.

The Rod of Aesculepius has one snake and is the symbol for Ophiuchus and its healing energy. It is often confused with the Caduceus of Mercury which portrays two snakes coiled around a staff. The double snakes of the caduceus represent duality and the unification of polar opposites. Their spiral effect indicates an expansion of knowledge as well as the undulating dance of cosmic forces resembling the spiral of DNA and the ida-pingala spiral through the chakras. The modern medical significance of the caduceus appears to have arisen as a result the military adopting it for the US Army Medical Corps logo in the early 20th century.

Part of the confusion between the two may come from the alchemical tradition in which a crucified serpent represents the “fixing of the volatile,” or, making the elixir of mercury, a legendary curative, by removing the ‘volatile’ or poisonous element. The picture is derived from the Biblical story of Moses, who erected a brazen snake as a charm against plague. The crucified snake, also known as the staff of Flamel in alchemical circles follows this meaning, but in mystical terms. The snake in alchemy represents poison, so the crucified snake represents removing the volatile aspects of the potion the alchemist was working with in order to create the fabled "elixir of mercury" also known as the elixir of long life, or immortality. Once again snakes symbolism is connected to the quest for soma and immortality, but has been confused with negative Biblical associations.

There is much debate over the rulership, debilitation, and exaltation signs of the Nodes. Many Vedic astrologers insist that Rahu is exalted in Taurus and debilitated in Scorpio, while others suggest the opposite. The reasoning has to do with making a choice between Rahu's materialistic (Taurus) and occult (Scorpio) sides.

I, however, agree with Prash Trivedi's assessment that Gemini is the exaltation sign of Rahu, and Sagittarius is its sign of debilitation. Mercury rules Gemini whose dual nature is represented in the caduceus as well as in the laterality of the brain and nervous system. As I discussed in a previous post, Mercury rules both the intellect and nervous system. And through the signs of Gemini and Virgo, we may see how the brain and nervous system works on an energetic level. As Rahu is a severed head, it is all about sensation and thought actions governed by the brain. Trivedi assigns Scorpio as the mulatrikona sign for Rahu as it resonates with Rahu's mysterious, intense, secretive, desirous, and poisonous nature. With a Scorpio mulatrikona, Rahu is poised to get what it wants through any means, be it aggressive, coercive, secretive or mystical.

No matter what rulership you use, or whether you use the True or Mean node, it seems the final karmic release of Rahu in the gandanta degrees of Sagittarius was the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Whether true or faked, this act ended the 9 year karmic period that was triggered by the world altering event of 911, when Rahu was in Gemini, its sign of exaltation. Finally, the mastermind/bogie man was removed from play, and put to rest at the bottom of the ocean (Mar/Jupiter conjunction in Revati). As Rahu enters Scorpio, and fire is quenched by water, it begins to conceal its wisdom, discovered in the fires of the galactic center of Sagittarius, in an alchemical transmutation to the physical form of water with the yang held within the yin. Instead of energy being released outward, it starts to be stored and carried inward.

In Taoism and Chinese medicine the planet Mercury is associated with water. Mercury will be transiting the Sun during the first two eclipses this summer assisting in the alchemical transformations. The Chinese character for Water is shui. I've always been struck by how this character resembles the hexagonal structure of water. Dr. Emoto has captured a piece of ice about to melt, and the crystal that forms looks the same as the Chinese character for water -- shui.

Emoto's research has demonstrated that water is a messenger medium in part because of its polarity and hydrogen bonding that forms hexagonal molecules. What is also intriguing is that liquid Mercury also makes a hexagonal shape when exposed to iron (ruled by Mars and the signs Aries and Scorpio).

Water takes on the energy of thoughts and words around it, just like the planet Mercury that rules the gandanta degrees of water signs, molecules of water records thoughts and words that effect its shape and can transfer this information through its ubiquitous network on earth. So what might the waters of Scorpio transmit to Rahu? Keep in mind that Scorpio is ruled by Mars, indicator of energy. So Scorpio's nature is literally energy, or fire, held in water.

In Western Astrology the sign of Scorpio has two symbols: the Scorpion which represents its lower expression, and the Eagle or Phoenix which represents it higher nature. The Scorpion can be aggressive, venomous, and downright deadly. But the Eagle and Phoenix soar above the chaos of the world. And the healing Phoenix, who's tears can raise the dead, renews and transforms itself by releasing the fire in its water molecules and burn to ashes, only to rise again. Again fire in water. But it's release is part of a rebirth. I think Scorpio often gets a bad reputation for being vengeful, controlling and manipulative. Yes, it can express itself that way, but it also can be devoted, inspiring, talented, and focused on the great unknown and mysteries of the universe. Rahu, like Mercury, can also be inspired by the sign its transiting as well as the energy of planets aspecting it. So Rahu in Scorpio is powerful, intense, shrewd, and has concentrated energy to fulfill its desires and/or destiny.

Many Vedic astrologers suggest that as Rahu shifts from Sagittarius to Scorpio there are changes in status of Jupiterian archetypes such as leadership (Middle East), political and philosophy structures (revolution), royalty (the latest Royal wedding), politicians, and teachers (Oprah Winfrey retires).

The last time Rahu transited Scorpio was 18 years ago from November 1992 - May 1994. Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd president of the United States two days after Rahu entered Scorpio and began its transit of the US natal Sun (Scorpionic America Chart - November 15, 1777, 12:46 pm, York PA). And as we all witnessed the Clinton administration was very Scorpionic indeed, filled with political intrigue, all sorts of reform after 12 years of Republican rule, sex scandals, the 1st bombing of the World Trade Center, as well as prosperity and peace.

The Waco seige of the Branch Davidians lead by teacher David Koresh brought scandal and death to 76 people also occurred in the spring of 1993.

In addition Rahu in Scorpio amplified intense water-related weather dramas such as a devastating tsunami that killed 202 people on the small island of Okushiri in Japan and a severe Blizzard that hit the eastern U.S. bringing record snowfall and other severe weather all the way from Cuba to Québec.

In technology Intel introduced the Pentium Processor, the World Wide Web was birthed at CERN, and the first human embryo was cloned.

In popular culture Michael Jackson was accused of fondling a 13-year-old boy that led to an out-of-court settlement -- and years later the grown boy recanted his story; River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on Halloween; and revelations about the affairs of Princess Diana and Prince Charles were released in Andrew Morton's book Diana's True Story followed by leaked tapes of telephone conversations which negatively reflected on both the royal antagonists.

You may already see the recurring themes in today's headlines. This year we've already seen super storms, typhoons, tornadoes, massive flooding, earthquakes, and tsunamis; the first cloned sheep-human hybrid has been bred to produce human livers for transplant; CERN is still making headlines as it searches for the God Particle; and the golden child of Princess Diana, William, has breathed fresh life into the monarchy with his 70 million dollar royal wedding.

What I remember most from the last time that Rahu was in Scorpio in 1993 was significant changes to my work, including a toxic spill in the building of the biotech company that ultimately resulted in me making huge changes to my career and personal life. I created an alternative art space that brought me and my art out into the public eye, and went through a difficult divorce as I was being called to follow a more spiritual path. A doorway literally opened up for me to exit my previous life in favor of a new one of my own creation. The final degrees of Scorpio are linked to such portals by the nakshatra Vishaka.

Thus Rahu in Scorpio may bring the natural extremes of both this sign and planet: great devotion or rejection, toxicity or healing, revolution or deception, fear or courage. Moreover, Rahu will be in Scorpio during the what many people believe to be the shift of the ages: the end of the Mayan Calendar. I can't help but believe that Rahu in Scorpio triggers the door at the galactic center and gives us an opportunity to pass through a portal to new dimensions in our lives.



Monday, May 2, 2011

Beltane Fires Up the Underworld: Corpse Bride, Corpse Priest/Pope, and Corpse Warrior

This year the spring festival of Beltane brought in some very interesting themes around death -- apparently in a corpse trinity: bride/bridegroom, priest, and warrior.

Corpse Bride/Groom

The Royal Wedding of William and Catherine appeared to be a fairy tale romance come true. Although the May Queen and May King had a picture perfect wedding that points to a return of Camelot, there were also strange undercurrents of apocalyptic and death themes or necro-nuptials that accompanied the grand global event. As Tracy Twyman writes in her essay, Necro-nuptials: The myth of the Virgin Queen/Corpse Bride embedded in the Royal Wedding:

In other words, by virtue of the fact that both of the spouses are really marrying and breeding with the god or goddess of the underworld, it negates the taint of the human sexual congress. It is instead a heiros gamos, the sacred marriage of the gods. . .While the king and queen are possessed by the god and goddess, their souls are down in the underworld, dead, holding the places of the god and goddess as substitute sacrifices. In alchemy, this is spoken of as the chemical wedding of the king and queen. They represent opposing universal energies which annihilate one another when they unite in marriage. Out of this, the new king, the “gold,” is born. . . Because of these connections, the specter of death hangs over the royal wedding.

Thus the union of the May Queen and her consort the May King symbolize the fertility and rebirth of the world, or death of the underworld represented by winter. The Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh is a modern adaptation of this ritual drama loosely based on some aspects of the pre-Christian festival of Beltane. During this ritual the May King is killed by the Queen's handmaidens, then brought back to life by the May Queen resembling the ancient Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris on which it is based. In the ancient myth, Isis collects the torn up pieces of Osiris, but must fashion his phallus out of gold in order to restore him for proper burial. As she brings him back to life to rule the Underworld, she also magically conceives his heir, Horus to rule over the physical world. As I pointed out in my last post, there are many symbols linking the Royal pair to Isis and Osiris. The world media went gaga over the event, and followed every move and celebrity detail. Most of all they praised Kate Middleton for breathing new life into Britain's outworn Monarchy.

Corpse Priest/Pope

Not to be out done, on the same day the Vatican exhumed the coffin of Pope John Paul II as part of his beatification that was viewed by millions of devoted Catholics in the biggest event since his funeral in 2005. This beatification was held yesterday, May 1st, on the day the church celebrates the movable Feast of Divine Mercy. As we know May 1st also marks the fire fertility festival of Beltane as well as the communist holiday of May day. The coincidence is ironic, given that many believe the pope played a key role in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and in the cover-up of the global sex scandal in the Church. The ceremony, the last step to sainthood, included exhuming his body from below St. Peter's, parading a vial of his blood, and presenting a virginal French Nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, believed to have been cured of Parkinsons by his miraculous grace.

Corpse Warrior

And to complete this corpse-filled weekend, last night President Obama announced that US forces had killed Osama Bin Lauden -- on the 8th anniversary of Bush's famous "Mission Accomplished" announcement. The disturbing celebrations in the US of crowds cheering Bin Lauden's death speaks to the repressed rage and fear of our collective. Like the burning of a "straw man" Osama Bin Lauden has been sacrificed in this brilliant political publicity stunt. There have been many reports that Bin Lauden has been long dead, perhaps as early as 2001 (click here for more). But he is continually held up and used as public enemy number one, the big bad, the boogie man for both sides of the US political system. So now that Bin Lauden is officially dead and gone, killed in Pakistan, after spending trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives fighting the war on terror where he was not located, what is next?

President Obama made the announcement last night, May 1, 2011 at 9:35 EDT which gives an event chart a Scorpio rising ruled by Mars. At this time Mars was exactly conjoined Jupiter in Pisces, a configuration that was also repeated in the navamsa chart. When the planet of war conjoins the planet of wisdom, it suggests a justified or philosophical purpose for the action taken. Moreover, this powerful conjunction fell in the 27th and last nakshatra of Revati indicating this action could indeed mark the final chapter of the modern myth created on 9/11. However, this rising sign in Scorpio falls in the nakshatra of Anuradha just degrees from the 2012 election chart that has a stationing Mercury (to retrograde) on the horizon that pointing to a more manipulative explanation -- a political move punctuated on the 8th anniversary of the failed "Mission Accomplished" propaganda of the Bush administration. As we saw from Obama's re-election announcement, he may be the cleverest trickster of them all.

Moreover, Mercury rules the 8th house of death in this event chart from its debilitated position in Pisces in the 5th house of creativity. It is aligned between the Mars-Jupiter conjunction and an exalted Venus opposite Saturn in Virgo. This powerful alignment of planets in the house of fertility and romance are linked to the house of death and transformation. It remains to be seen what this apocalyptic corpse trinity will manifest -- perhaps we will get a glimpse on the Summer solstice when the Sun reaches its height of power.