You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.
September 29, 2:13 am
Best evening for ritual: September 28 (Sunday)
Theme: Contemplating Partnership
The energy of tonight’s Moon is quieter and weaker than any of recent months, with none of the other planets contributing much of significance.
This is a time for gentle reflection on our relationships: friends, family, lover, or companion. Question how you approach relationship. Consider issues of power, need, dependency, and balance. If your relationship feels lopsided, tonight may offer some clues on finding symmetry.
Questions for this Moon:
How do I dance with others?
How do I blend giving with receiving?
Where is the center of gravity in my relationship?
How do I share best?
The Mabon issue of Starweaver’s Gems from Earth and Sky is now available on the web at www.telp.com. This is the one-year anniversary of Gems, and I’ve given it a facelift! Contents of this issue include
- Beginner Tutorial: Help! I’m Clueless about Paganism
- Celestial Gossip for October, November, and December
- Tarot Wisdom: The Fool
- From the Hearth: Broiled Asparagus, Tomatoes, and Onions in Balsamic Vinegar
- The Imaginarium: Olimaci Language Sketch
A new issue of Gems from Earth and Sky is published eight times a year.
The Sun enters Libra at the autumn equinox Monday morning, so this is an occasion to continue my series on the signs of the Zodiac.
Libra is a cardinal air sign, ruled by Venus. It is all about using communication to create harmony and balance between people. My mnemonic for Libra is “finder of the song”.
Libra energy is diplomatic, esthetic, sociable, and indecisive. Although air is the element of intellect, in Venus-ruled Libra air is more about communication and interaction, rather than academic abstractions. Libra seeks interaction, connection, and relationship, and the reciprocal give-and-take of thoughts and ideas is the medium through which this goal is pursued.
Libra often takes on the role of a harmonizer, negotiator, collaborator, lover, or counselor. Libra will seek to consider the needs of others and to smooth out conflict whenever possible. Libra, like all cardinal signs, is looking for self-understanding and a sense of identity. Ironically (and perhaps profoundly), Libra sees reciprocity and relationship as the key to self discovery.
Libra is susceptible to certain traps, mostly having to do with focusing on others rather than self: low assertiveness, difficulty with tough choices, and fear of independence are all common Libra troubles. Libra can also sometimes become caught up in appearances, more concerned with being attractive and surrounded by attractive people and things than with getting to the bottom of things. Libra’s desire for harmony can make it unwilling to “stir the waters”, settling instead for the appearance of contentment.
The indecisiveness of Libra is an astrological cliché, but it should not be assumed that Libra is unable to commit or choose. Rather, Libra is concerned with the consequences of decisions, for both self and (especially) others. Libra needs to feel that the evidence has been weighed, the different viewpoints considered, and the impacts thought through. This is a process that can take some time and deliberation (like a court case), but there is a conclusion to be reached in the end. Libra just takes more time and thought to reach the conclusion than more impulsive signs are used to.
Planets in Libra tend to operate through the filter of interpersonal relationships, uncomfortable with both the narrowness of self-focused activities and the loftiness of societal or philosophical concerns. More than the other cardinal signs, however, Libra has ways of connecting with the energy of the other elements. Its esthetic sense keeps it connected with the physical, and its focus on relationships ensures that emotional realities do not take a back seat for long.
People born under a Libra Sun are called to explore and create relationship. As a Libran grows and matures, he or she comes to see interpersonal connection as life’s most meaningful goal. If the person has strong interpersonal skills to begin with, this project can get off to a rapid start. That’s not necessarily a good thing, however, as an eager Libran can pursue relationship at the expense of self-centering and self-knowledge. The challenge will be to understand that a clear sense of identity is a prerequisite to a strong relationship. Libras whose childhood or other astrological influences give them a taste of nonsocial ways of living may actually have an easier time of it in the long run.
With the Moon in Libra, a person is likely to see relationships as a source of comfort, a safety net to retreat to when life’s challenges become too intense. The Libra Moon needs happy, easy-going friendships and romantic partnerships for nourishment and support, although they may not reveal this need to people outside their trusted circle. Whereas a Libra Sun is willing to work hard at crafting the perfect relationship, the Libra Moon needs relationships that are more-or-less free of trouble and issues.
Libra as a rising sign bestows a great deal of charm and “people skills”. Such people fit in naturally in a variety of social situations, and help others get along. They can also be flirtatious, engaging, and attentive to others. A person with Libra rising is never at a lack for something to do as long as there are people around. Behind the affable mask, however, there may be motivations that are more personal and private. Others may mistake the charm and attention for a deeper or more intense interest. Being easy to get along with is sometimes a mixed blessing. The challenge for people with Libra rising is to let other see your true needs and opinions, beneath your agreeability.
Games have always held a particular fascination for me. I love ultra-geeky games like Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, as well as more conventional fare such as Monopoly and Solitaire. I’m not a great player at any game, mind you – but I do get into them!
When I first discovered the world of tarot, I immersed myself in the debates concerning the origins and history of the tarot cards. In one camp were those convinced that the tarot cards had been designed as a cryptic repository of occult secrets. In the other camp were those equally convinced that the cards had been created for the “trivial” purpose of a card game, with their symbolism being accidental. As with most extreme dichotomies, the truth no doubt falls somewhere in between.
My own style when confronted with arguments like these is to question the premises. In this case, both camps seem to take it for granted that no “game” could be designed with a serious or spiritual intention. This assumption is an artifact of our own times, when recreation has become very narrowly compartmentalized. It was not always so, and in fact it is not difficult to find many instances where the boundaries between recreation, instruction, and real-life task blur.
I’ve lately been reading Rules of Play, a book on game design by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. This is an interesting but somewhat frustrating read, being a textbook on a subject that has not yet solidified. The authors dip into an impressive range of topics that appear relevant to game design, from cybernetics to complexity theory to behavioral psychology, without ever managing to settle down into any kind of recipe for good game design. They don’t even quite manage to define what a game is, but a key idea is that a game creates a kind of special zone of time and space in which the player faces challenges or competition under artificial constraints. Games, perhaps, are a kind of safe rehearsal area for visiting the struggle of life in microcosm.
The authors favor the term “magic circle” to describe the way the game zone is set apart from the flow of ordinary life. Within the circle, you follow the rules of play, both explicit and tacit, while the rest of life waits outside. This naturally led me to think of the other kind of magic circle – the creation of sacred space for ritual, magic, or divination in my own spiritual practice.
Spiritual work has some things in common with games: the separateness, the immersion, the rules. Yes, rules. Obviously, there are rules for those practicing a formal spiritual system: patterns of ritual and such. But even those who practice a freer, more spontaneous spirituality work within a set of assumptions about the nature of things and the process of spiritual growth – special assumptions that we may not share with others or work with in our mundane lives. Spiritual practice presumes some system of belief and praxis, even if that system is somewhat fluid and permeable.
Meaning changes inside the magic circle. The ace of cups is just a piece of cardboard with art on it when I’m thumbing through a new deck. It is a harbinger of bliss when I’m doing a reading, and fodder for stalling tactics when I’m playing the game of tarot.
The authors return repeatedly to another concept: meaningful play. Play becomes meaningful when we are engaged in actions that move the game forward toward some kind of goal. The player’s actions need to have some visible effect on the state of the game, and that effect must be integrated somehow into the overall arc of play, not an irrelevant sidebar. Game play falls apart of we lose this sense of doing something that makes a difference – and so does spiritual work.
Furthermore, many of the most successful spiritual practitioners are devoted to the importance of playfulness within spiritual work.
So is all this that we do – ritual, magic, divination, meditation, prayer, contemplation – some kind of game?
Although there are many shared qualities, there is an important difference. A game is truly self-contained. Winning at Monopoly just means you won at Monopoly. You can’t bank the play money or go stay in your Park Place hotel. In spiritual work, on the other hand, this is exactly the hoped for result: that what we do inside the magic circle changes how we live outside it.
The promise of spiritual work, it seems, is to capture that special intensity of focus that comes when we set aside a special time and place and take up a different set of rules – capture it and release it back into life at large. We don’t want to just step out like we step out of a game, we want to somehow carry the work along with us, expanding the magic circle rather than stepping over it. (This image has given me a new sense of meaning around the classic Wiccan closing “The circle is open but unbroken”.)
Best evening for ritual: September 14 (Sunday)
Theme: Shifting Dreams of Peace
Saturn and Jupiter are still closely trine at this time, filling our daily life with plans od productivity and success. But this Full Moon offers an alternative to that energy, with the Piscean message to let go of plans and go with the flow.
The message is subtly affirmed and strengthened by a triple conjunction of Mercury, Venus, and Mars in Libra. There is strong energy in our personal relations at this time, apparently disconnected from our pragmatic concerns. With the Moon in Pisces this night, we can unleash the potential for harmony and bliss that resides in our personal relationships. This is a good night to experience the spiritual facet of love-making. (Venus and Mercury are helping physical, sexual Mars feel as comfortable as he is ever likely to be in Libra.)
Magic tonight can bring healing, relief from the stresses of the day, and introduce a dreamier, less focused quality into our lives once more. The energy liberated during this Moon will not integrate too readily into our daily affairs, but it can be a pleasant or profound interlude.
Affirmations for this Moon:
I am fully connected.
I am at peace with the world and with those I love.
The currents of love run deep and unseen.
We will merge in the dreamscape.