THE SHORT OF IT
As I was strolling along the streets of Boulder the other day, feeling a tad melancholy not only because my blog doesn’t have many readers, but also because, around here, as you get closer to the mountains in midwinter, your days end more quickly than for those who have the good sense to live farther from the imposing front range of the Rockies; close-in, the cold settles on you rather early in the day as the sun drops behind the mountains, and you feel the cold impinging on your soul even if you don’t feel convinced that you even have one — as all this was happening, I decided, acting on impulse, to pay a visit to my astrological mentor, Mountain Monsoon, who lives atop a ridge somewhat west of downtown Boulder, giving him much longer near-solstice-days and a much vaster view than what I get down here in the (comparative) lowlands. When I arrived, driving carefully on the unplowed, two-rut road that winds up the slope to his cabin, he was basking in winter sunshine on his back porch, sitting under the solar collectors that powered a small heater at his feet, smoking a fine cigar and drinking some of the (admittedly illegal but nevertheless excellent) whiskey he concocts in his home distillery. As is his habit, he said nothing as I approached, merely waving me to a chair, offering me a cup of the good stuff, toasting my presence in a manner simultaneously offhand and sincere.
“Single malt,” he said at last. “From a single distillery: my own. What’s not to like?”
I drank and enjoyed the sun for a few minutes, lighting the offered stogie from the proffered match.
“What brings you up from the lowlands?” he said after a few minutes. “Problems with women?”
“Nah,” I said.
“Problems with – “
“Well, my blog, for one thing.”
“Ah!” he said. “Blog-readers are a fickle bunch. Maybe you need a different approach.”
“Maybe,” I said, drinking and smoking.
“What’s it called? ‘Astrology, Politics, and History’? Right?”
“Yes,” I said. “Good memory.”
“Well, you have at least one enthusiastic reader.”
“I’m grateful. Also for the excellent whiskey. But if I drink too much to drive – “
“—which you probably will, am I right? Anyway, yeah: you can sleep on the cot. Glad to have you about. You bring tea for the morning?”
“Of course,” I said. “Silver Dragon. Great stuff.”
He nodded approvingly, gazing sunward like the captain of a ship gazing over a rolling sea.
“You wrote about Neptune squaring the U.S. ascendant recently, didn’t you?” he said at last.
I said that I had, but that, more recently, I’d had an entry called “The Long of It” in which I talked about the significance of the Long Count horoscope for contemporary times.
“Ah yes,” he said. “I remember. A subject about which you wrote a fine book, if I remember correctly.”
“Yeah. It didn’t sell all that much. People have not that much interest in history, these days.”
“Maybe they agree with that Joyce fellow that – how did his literary alter ego put it – what’s his name?”
“You mean Stephen Daedalus?”
“Indeed. How did he put it?”
“’History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken’?”
He paused, still gazing westward.
“So, refresh my memory,” he said. “Review what you said about the Long Count; then we can talk about Neptune squaring the United States ascendant, a subject you should go back to, considering all that malarkey about the purported Russian hacking of U.S. elections, the stuff going on in Hollywood, the ongoing – what shall we call it? lack of commitment to truth on the part, it seems, of even intelligent people in this rather strange country, including that rich guy who seems convinced that he’s running the show. An osmosis of ignorance, I’d say. Sounds like Neptune, doesn’t it?”
“It does indeed,” I said.
“But first, for review. The Mayan Long Count and the present? Your conclusions?”
“Well,” I said, “here’s the twenty-five-cent version: the horoscope for the Long Count – a period that began in 3114 B.C. and ended in 2012 A.D. – points to patterns of social development characterized by authoritarian militarism, lack of requisite feedback mechanisms, and a pervasive imbalance (between, among other matters, authority and bureaucracy) led, over the course of just over 5000 years, to planetary illness manifesting now in global warming and the evident ecological imbalances of the planet, with the warming coming on us as a planet-wide fever arising in response to mentioned illness-imbalance; also, a problematic (to put it mildly) combination of delusion and aggression, driven by unconscious elements, producing militarism best categorized as psychotic even if it now seems like the norm.”
“Yes,” he said. “Now I remember. I read your book. I think you’re right.” He paused, then said, “So that was ‘the long of it.’ And what, in your view, is ‘the short of it’?”
“Well, for one thing,” I said, puffing cigar smoke into the cool but sunny air, “what you just mentioned: Neptune squaring the United States ascendant.”
“Yes. What do you make of it?”
“Well,” I said, “I was thinking of asking you that question.”
“What do I think of it?” He laughed uproariously. “You lookin’ for new material for the blog, eh?”
“Well,” I laughed, feeling the effect of the excellent whiskey and the high-quality cigar, “people might pay more attention to a wise old sage like you, Mountain.”
He laughed again as he refilled our glasses.
“And after all,” I added, “you served as a mentor to me all those years back.” As I said this, I found myself wondering at Mountain’s chronological age. I felt certain that he had been around many more than my sixty-eight years, but I realized that I really had no idea, though I had tentatively concluded, decades ago, when he already had a full white beard and a much-lined face, that he was like a joyful Tithonus, eternally laughing and drinking in his mountain retreat, casting a cold eye on the follies of humankind. He had taught me much.
He drank and smoked for a long minute, apparently pondering but perhaps emptying his mind of all irrelevant data, which I had known him to do before.
“Well,” he said at last, “let’s look at the evidence. First, the United States’ Neptune is where in the U.S. horoscope?”
“In the 9th house,” I said. “Intercepted in Virgo and in a close square to a 7th house Mars.”
“Exactly,” he said. “We’ll get to Mars in a bit. But Neptune in the 9th suggests what?”
“Deception and confusion about or in dealings with foreign countries?”
“Yes,” he said. “Now consider recent happenings: all this hubbub about Russian hacking and the like, but with very little evidence – and the so-called ‘evidence’ so far presented comes from what groups?”
“Well, for starts, the CIA.”
“Yes. They used to be called ‘the Foreign Service,’ I think. Ninth house again. It seems that we project that Neptune onto foreign countries, seeing it as symbolizing deception by foreign countries, though it seems more accurate to see it as an ongoing deception and self-deception, on the part of this country, in all relations with foreign countries.”
I nodded, taking a few notes.
“Can you think of another organization that deceives so readily, so often, and so cruelly? And do you wonder that millions of people who have never trusted the so-called ‘Intelligence Services’ before suddenly seem ready to believe what those people say about Russian hacking? The documents released so far contain all sorts of allegations, offered by so-called investigators who got hand-picked, so to speak. Hardly a trustworthy process.”
“Hmm,” I said.
“Now,” he went on, “as you know, I have no love for that monster Trump. I can’t think of a human being I consider more despicable, but I think it both troubling and fitting that during this Neptune transit, the U.S. people elected a fellow who can’t seem to tell truth from falsehood – or who doesn’t wish to do so. But we should remember that the transit-in-question has to do with the United States’ horoscope, not with Trump’s – at least not yet – so it applies to the nation as a whole. We should consider Trump a symptom of a larger problem – a national problem, one we’ve had with us since the beginning, as you have pointed out in previous blog-installments, if I remember correctly. Under such a transit, you can expect deception and obfuscation all over the place. Mars comes into the picture because the deception will have to do with aggression, or, more particularly, with the way this country does what it always does: links lies to warfare, taking foreign countries as enemies and deceivers even though a vast amount of evidence suggests that the United States takes a back seat to no-one when it comes to deception and aggression.”
“So,” I said, “you don’t believe that Russia did this hacking?”
“I take the position of that Stephen Daedalus fellow, whom we mentioned earlier, when, somewhere either in Ulysses or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, someone asks him whether he believes in God. He says, ‘I neither believe nor disbelieve.’ I would add: I want evidence, not innuendo; I want information, not disinformation; and I want as my informant someone I can trust. All of this has to do with Virgo, the polar opposite of Neptune-ruled Pisces: what you have to cultivate if you want to navigate successfully through a challenging Neptune transit: precision.”
“Yes,” I said. “I agree.”
“Let me refill the jar here and we can talk more. Maybe we also should go inside. The sun’s going down.”
“On civilization?” I asked rhetorically.
He laughed, pointing me toward a chair by the fire.
To be continued….