An Old Concept: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

After posting the following in a comment on Facebook,  I feel motivated to repeat it here..

“If the “pro-life” people are really serious, if they really believe all life is precious (human lives, that is) why do they not build communities where single mothers-to-be can birth and rear their children. Providing them with medical care, nutrition, education, all the needs of the growing child. The world could be a different, and better, place.”

I hope the thought will appeal to others who are conflicted by the desire to save unborn babies and yet, at the same time, realize the disadvantages most of those unfortunate babies are born into.  Talk is cheap, as the old saying goes, so let’s put our money where our mouth is.  Truly save the children instead of just talking about it long enough to get them born and then deserting them.  Why do their lives cease to be precious after birth?

God Makes No Mistakes

I was an arrogant child. I thought I was smarter than God because I could see where he’d screwed up. While my mother prayed every night with us children sitting on the floor around her (since we didn’t have that many chairs) I blasted God in my mind for the early death of our dad, for our poverty. Later, knowing God could read my mind, I feared the hot cinders of his wrath raining down on me from the sky.

But rebellion boiled inside me, where I secretly sneered at the preacher’s daughter while envying her for her pretty blue Easter dress. I softened my pain by wrapping it in anger and built a wall around my vulnerability. My anger was not allowed to be expressed in the face of my mother’s prayers of thanksgiving for God’s love and tender care (ha!) so I kept it between us two.

One evening while my mother was thanking God for getting us a load of coal to get us through the winter, my teenaged brother Andy called from the kitchen after having refused to join the circle, “I’m the one who got us that load of coal!” Mom did not acknowledge his outburst but I was thrilled by it. “There,” I thought. “There, God.” And I was content to know I was not alone

Of course I would grow through the bruises and heartaches of living to become grateful for the life I had, to recognize that it was granted to me by a loving God. Who also let me find my own way to exist in this strange life on his beautiful planet. But also to realize that his love knows no limits, that he loves each and every one of us.

My gripe today is not against God but against a society that doesn’t value its people as God values us. We have groups called minorities who have been bullied and excluded due to their differences from the mainstream of society—people who even dare to use the supposed words of God to justify their insufferable actions.

Some progress towards equality has been made with the larger groups of minorities but one group that has been blatantly excluded includes gays and lesbians.

In the beginning of my realization there were such beings in the world I too felt uncomfortable with them. It just didn’t “feel” right. But having learned to question my feelings since my first run-in with God, I asked myself how it would feel to love someone of the same sex in the same way one loves someone of the opposite sex, that merging into a couple that makes the world glow with an intense joy that lights up our spirit.

How would it feel to be born with that difference, yet be told I must “have” or “pretend” to have that feeling for someone whom I can’t love? Otherwise to be told I’m bad, depraved, and out of favor with God. Because gay people recognize early in life that they’re attracted to their own sex even if the full realization takes place much later, it is obvious to me that when God created them, he did it with love. He did not make a mistake.

Just Call Me Scrooge

Just call me Scrooge, but I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love the love but hate the hate. Don’t preach to me about it being a celebration of Christ’s birthday. I know that. That’s the love part.

And I don’t hate the Santa Claus and gifts part either. It’s the memories that part brings up and the realization that many children will soon learn too early there is no Santa. That’s what I hate. And don’t preach to me about that part, either, about Santa being the spirit of giving, blah, blah, blah.

The memory of those children from the past blend with knowing that many children in the present will have no Christmas this year. They’ve joined the little ghosts that walk in the back of my mind. Like a Greek chorus. A mute one— because what can they say?

So now that I’ve made you indescribably sad let me add that phrase the elitists like to use: it’s the human condition. Distance yourself from it. What else can you do? Provide for your own and put some change in the Salvation Army’s bucket after you buy your Christmas turkey or ham.

But for God’s sake, don’t whine and carry on about it. If there’s anything I really, really hate it’s a whiner! Merry Christmas.

Midlife Crisis: Retrieving Your Soul

The midlife crisis is no joke, although it may look that way, to people my age who find it endearing that young people over forty are horrified when they find a gray hair. I try to remember the time when I thought forty was old, but I must’ve changed as I now consider myself to be young at sixty-nine.  And the loveliest thing about my gray hair is the ability of my beautician to make it any color I like.

I don’t mean to belittle the point here. The midlife crisis really is a once-in-a-lifetime deal and it really is serious. When I say you are on a journey to retrieve your soul, even though you didn’t know until now it had been misplaced, I’m not just speaking metaphorically. This is a crucial time in your life.

Have you been jogging along the right path lately? That’s the question that comes up when you reach your late thirties to early forties, a period of about four to six years. It’s been ten to fourteen years since you experienced your first Saturn Return and faced the first big milestone on your soul’s journey. But maturity is not an overnight process. Along with the new insights you gained back then you most likely had a job to maintain, a family to provide for, and all that goes along with being a responsible member of society.

Now transiting Saturn will enter the picture again when you’re about 42, but this time only as part of a complex series of transits that have already begun, to bring the new results to light.  By opposing its position in your chart, it’s asking “How are you doing so far on the halfway mark to your second Saturn Return?” And your cranky reply may well be “Would you quit being so serious for awhile? I’ve got all these other issues to deal with so you can just wait your turn!”

The other three transits just passing are Uranus opposing Uranus, called your “Uranus Opposition”, Neptune square Neptune, and Pluto square Pluto. All of these transits represent a complex of self-evaluations and choices you are making about your life. It is a process. Although I experienced my Uranus opposition first, many of you are experiencing your Pluto square first, as Pluto has been traveling faster recently.

Pluto is associated with psychology and some believe he even represents the soul. Since this is a one-time transit, it represents a life-changing crisis in action on a deep emotional and psychological level. It often begins with a growing awareness of our mortality. We become obsessed with the loss of youth and other signs of aging, and feel a deep sense of loss along with other intense feelings: of grief, depression, rage, jealousy, betrayal, isolation and disempowerment.

What’s really triggering these feelings is an internal process in which the unconscious is awakening, and something within us is crying out for greater depth of meaning in our lives. In Jungian terms, this phase represents the confrontation with our “shadow” and we are faced with the “demons” of the past. Through internal and external experiences we become more aware of those parts of ourselves we have repressed, buried, rejected, denied, projected and ignored.

It’s time to begin recognizing, owning and integrating these unlived parts of ourselves. In order to heal our wounded child it is also time for us to endure the pain and face the past, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. This phase is not just about death, it is about birth and renewal.

For most people, the Uranus opposition follows and occurs between the age of 40 and 42 (others nearer to 38 or 39) which is at the midpoint of its 84 year cycle, the amount of time it takes to travel around the zodiac. Since an opposition is much like a full moon this transit of Uranus reveals what we have become in the first half of our lives. As we begin to see ourselves more clearly we also begin to feel an urge to free ourselves of attachments to the past in order to build a new identity. We want to explore new possibilities, do things we’ve never done before.

We want to reconnect with the parts of ourselves we’ve repressed. According to Jung, if we successfully navigate this midlife transition “Above all we will have achieved a real independence and with it, to be sure, a certain isolation. In a sense we are alone, for our “inner freedom” means that a love relation can no longer fetter us, the other sex has lost its magic power over us, for we have come to know its essential traits in our own psyche.”

The time of the Uranus opposition is exciting because we now have the impetus to make changes necessary for our growth, and can find ourselves inspired to follow our dream. However, our dream is undergoing a revamping by our Neptune square during this midlife experience.

We are faced with a crisis of ideals. During the Neptune square we may feel terribly disillusioned and depressed as we begin to see a gulf between what we once idealized and the reality in our lives, also reflected through our interaction with society. Now is the time we  face whether what we have become matches our ideal self. And, even if it does, we need a new dream to guide us in the second half of our life. What shall it be? This is a time many of us begin to question our religion as well as our spiritual and philosophical beliefs and whether they are still valid. We may feel an absence of meaning, the lack of a sense of purpose, or find ourselves in a state of mourning for the lost dreams of youth. By studying Astrology during this time in my life I experienced an entirely new awareness of the Divine Order of the Universe, God’s creation.

The importance of this journey through uncertainty is that it gives us the ability to connect with a larger spiritual purpose. Formal religion has its place but how many of us drop our spirituality in the collection plate every Sunday and forget about it the rest of the week? Religion is no substitute for spirituality. That sounds suspiciously like something my eldest daughter says, that “school is no place for children”, which is why she home schools. But that’s a decision she made after she had two more children near the time of her midlife crisis.

At this time of our life we have the opportunity to connect with the core of our being more than ever before, to help us make decisions about what we really want to do with the rest of our lives. All these values are activated following closure of the transits, not during the transits themselves. At last we feel free to express our gifts, unhampered by the restrictions of the past. At last we can retrieve our souls from obscurity.

Spiritual Reality Of Astrology

Spiritual reality underlies our physical world. We are individual manifestations of Spirit in physical form. Like leaves blowing in the wind, loose from their mooring, we appear to be separate, but we are all connected. We are all one. If you find it hard to feel brotherly love for some of Earth’s inhabitants, don’t feel bad. Just remind yourself to pray for their souls. We all come from the same source but some of us have lost our way.

It may seem strange when you first begin to study Astrology, but you’ll find out it represents a greater Truth. By analyzing aspects between planets in our solar system Astrologers can explain things that take place here on planet Earth. Dr. Carl Jung, the psychologist, studied Astrology and sometimes used it in his practice, creating the term synchronicity to describe the alignment of Universal Forces with the life experience of an individual. A birth is the beginning of something new, whether a person, a nation or some other entity. The United States was born on July 4, 1776 because that’s when we declared ourselves to be an independant nation.

By studying the movement of the outer planets as they transit through the astrological signs and form aspects with one another, we can understand the larger patterns of what is going on with the people on Earth. The zodiac consists of 360 degrees, thirty to each of the twelve signs, Aries through Pisces, and the divisions of that circle forms aspects that correspond to the meaning of the number. For instance a square aspect is 360 degrees divided by four to make 90; an opposition aspect is 360 divided by two to make 180; a trine 120, etc. The most important thing about these transits is that as they cycle through the heavens they represent long-term change and turning-points on Earth in matters corresponding to what that planet represents.

The word “cycle” is relevant. All cycles begin with a conjunction of two planets, i.e. at the same degree in the zodiac, and as the faster planet moves away from the slower planet a new planetary cycle begins. With the outer planets this means something new is happening on planet Earth. As the planets continue to cycle they create later aspects that show turning points or crises in the evolution of what began at the conjunction. Some cycles last for hundreds of years, the shortest cycle in the large social realm being the twenty-year cycle between Saturn and Jupiter.

Strangely enough, their conjunction in the year 1840 began a pattern that lasted 120 years, of every United States President elected in a zero year dying in office.* The first one was William Harrison, elected in 1840, who died of pneumonia; after that were Lincoln 1860; Garfield 1880; and McKinley 1900, all three assassinated. Elected in 1920 was Harding, who died of a heart attack and in 1940 Roosevelt, who died of a stroke. Then in 1960 Kennedy was elected and later assassinated, raising the total to four who were assassinated. Up until 1840 not a single US President elected in a zero year had died while in office. The fact that Jupiter and Saturn were beginning a new cycle in all of the zero years tells us synchronicity was at work. Simplistically, Jupiter represents the king or leader and Saturn the grim reaper.

On the other hand, instead of the 20 year cycle, often referred to as “Tecumseh’s Curse” we have another odd incidence of three presidents, Adams, Jefferson and Monroe, all dying on the fourth of July, two — Adams and Jefferson, dying on the same day in the same year. The presidency did not exist in 1780, but John Adams had occupied the office during the first zero year of 1800. Thomas Jefferson was his Vice President, succeeding Adams as President a year later, and Adams and Jefferson both died on the same day, the Fourth of July, 1826. James Monroe, who had been elected in 1820 also died on the Fourth of July, 1831, five years after Jefferson and Adams. 

Add an odd postscript: Adams had retired to his farm and penned elaborate letters to Jefferson. On July 4, 1826, he whispered his last words. “Thomas Jefferson survives.” But Jefferson had died at Monticello a few hours earlier.

Astrologers feared Reagan also would die in office and he nearly did from an attempted assassination on March 30, 1981 (Hinkley’s bullet missed Reagan’s heart by just one inch). Some believe that Reagan was spared assassination because the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction in 1980 was a special one in that it was also a Grand Mutation – when the conjunction switches to air signs. All the previous conjunctions involved earth signs. We might also add that Nancy was consulting an Astrologer daily about his movements while they were in the White House – whether that actually kept him safe, I don’t know.

As for George W. Bush, the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction in 2000 was unique in that both the earth and air signs were involved. So far, the closest Bush has come to death was on January 14, 2002, when he fainted after choking while eating a pretzel. Of course his term is nearly over and we pray that no harm will come to him.

For the past while, a series of aspects between the planets corresponding to what Astrologers call irrational degrees has been occurring, creating an opening between worlds, allowing alternate realities to disrupt our lives. Disruptive because they’re early precursors of accelerated changes that we know are coming although Astrologers cannot predict the outcome. On a personal level, when the forces of change seem to be trying to sweep us into deep waters, it is time to eliminate non-essentials from our lives, ridding ourselves of the poisons we’ve let creep into our bodies and minds, which have been steering us away from our inner truth and enlightenment. An activity that would help us to do this is chanting or singing, even if only in our minds, the simple words of a song written by Hal David and set to music by Burt Bacharach. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, not just for some but for everyone.” 

This is the message the Universe is trying to send us.  Because we have free will, it is up to us how we respond.  But we also know there are two sides to everything – will we respond by loving our fellow man and trying to do what’s best for the entire world, or will we grab all the glitter we can hold and run?  Either way is synchronistic, but we must make the better choice.

If we can hold onto the best that is in us, if we can banish hatefulness and intolerance from our lives, we can claim the positive side of the coming world changes.

*Only one other president has died while in office, so the total for those dying in office who were also elected in a zero year is seven out of eight. The exception, Zachary Taylor, was elected in 1849 and died on July 9, 1850 of gastroenteritis. He was stricken on July 4th, after attending various Independence Day ceremonies. That evening he began having abdominal cramps which steadily worsened. Like virtually all Presidents, there were many people who might have wished Taylor dead. Because of theories that Taylor might have been poisoned, most likely by strychnine, his body was exhumed on June 17, 1991. With permission of descendants, samples of it were analyzed. Some arsenic was found, but in quantities said to be too small to cause harm. This has not satisfied some commentators, who find flaws in the testing methods.

The Myth in the Race for the Presidency

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”  —  Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince (1532)

News Flash: In a little village in Kenya called Nyangoma-Kogelo, people gather around the radio listening to the latest update on the voting in Iowa, United States of America. According to the radio, one of their own, who has blood kin still living in the village, is winning in the first step of an election leading up to choosing the new president of that faraway country. Before the year is out, Barack Hussein Obama could be the leader of the strongest nation in the world.

It is of such things that myths are made, and herein lies proof that beneath the horrible events in America during 1963 and 1968 the tattered dreams of liberty survived. In spite of the rampant corporate greed and dirty politics that has besmirched the face of America its heart still beats to the drums of the promise of liberty and justice for all. This election year is proving to us that the bright and shining future we once envisioned for America, although hard to see beyond the recent carnage of war, still waits if only we have the courage it will take to reach it.

We must, above all, have a strong leader, one whose fortitude is proven. Although wonderful speeches gladden our hearts, we need a leader who can take on the fiercest dragons and withstand their fire. As worthy as he is in many ways, this is not Obama. Although he has it in him to be a great statesman, his moment is not yet. When he is more seasoned his time will come, and then his relatives in West Kenya will once again gather around their radios or televisions — and listen with pride.

So far, this election year has revealed that, on the Democrat side, a black man can run for president and win the primary vote in Iowa, a state where less than 3% of the population is black. That a woman can reach third place in the same contest and leave a few male candidates in the dust. The second place winner, an all white male, is not gay or we would have a third category attesting to our progress in keeping America’s promise of liberty and justice for all. But this man is a great fighter for justice.

We also have another party from which to choose. On the Republican side the winner in Iowa is a former Baptist minister, and the second place winner is a candidate of the Mormon religion. Winning third place is a former actor, politician and lobbyist. The fourth place, won by the last of the most viable candidates, is a man with a calm countenance that belies his myth, the old warrier who fought the dragons of olden times and offers his aging wisdom to his country and its young warriors.

A new world order is on the horizon whether we seek it or not, and we must choose our agent of change carefully in order to make the right choices in the future while not sacrificing our integrity as a nation. Only in preserving the good from the past can we hope to stay on the right course in the future.

And even if we stray from our course, we should do as Washington Irving did when traveling in a stagecoach, find comfort in shifting our position and being bruised in a new place. 

Update: January 8th, New Hampshire, the second battle: After a tight race the First Woman wins on the Democrat side and the Old Warrior wins on the Republican side.  The arena will move to the state of Michigan for the next Republican battle, where the *First Mormon will attempt to wrest the scepter from the hands of the Old Warrior. In the next Democrat battle, in South Carolina, the First Black will try to regain his earlier lead over the First Woman.

*Although the First Morman’s father competed for the nomination in 1968 but lost, as will he who is trying to fulfill his father’s dream.  In the past other candidates have vied to be the “First” of their kind but this year marks a turning point in history.  Whether they win or not, the Firsts have broken down the barriers of the old order in preparation for the new. 

King, Kennedy and the American Revolution

All of us, from the wealthiest and most powerful of men, to the weakest and hungriest of children, share one precious possession; the name American. — Robert F. Kennedy

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bobby lately. In watching still another year end as I go further into my dotage, I’m reminded of other years from the past that cry out to be remembered, the year 1968 being among the most poignant. When the announcement came over the television set that Bobby Kennedy had died from the assassin’s bullet, I called my husband at work, tears streaming down my face. “Now they’ve killed Bobby,” I cried.

Who were “they”? I didn’t know, but like many Americans I felt the presence of evil. A black miasma skulked amongst us as if waiting to see what we held most dear as a people so “they” could take it away. The feeling had lingered since that shocking day four and a half years before, on November 22, 1963, when our beloved president was taken down by an assassin’s bullet. As a nation we had never recovered, the shock still reverberating throughout our psyche like a terrible wound that would not heal.

Then another wound, the assassination of our great Civil Rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of our fallen president was on his way to a planned campaign rally in his bid to get the 1968 Democratic nomination for President. Just after he arrived in Indianapolis, he was told of King’s death and advised by police not to make the campaign stop. It was in a part of the city considered to be a dangerous ghetto. But Kennedy insisted on going. He found the people in an upbeat mood and realized they didn’t know. In breaking the news of King’s death he referred to his own loss of his older brother and quoted from memory the Greek Poet, Aeschylus. “He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”

Just two months later, on June 5, 1968, while celebrating his victory in the California primary Bobby said to his supporters only minutes before he, too, was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet. “I think we can end the divisions within the United States. (W)e can work together in the last analysis. . . We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country.”

Some say that in 1968 America came close to political disintegration. Millions of people opposed the war and the military announced in early 1968 that it would draft 300,000 more troops. Americans were dying in Vietnam by the hundreds and young people lost confidence in our leaders and in the official version of reality. There was a movement afloat, a revolution at hand before our beloved leaders who had brought hope to the country were cut down. Although the war was later ended and the troops brought home, after 1968 many of us detached ourselves from the painful public square and turned our attention on matters closer to home.

Surprisingly, though, we ended up rearing children who became educated, sensitized and responsive to their natural and political environments. Adult children who were able to agree or disagree without rioting in the streets, who also have inculcated and are passing down the dreams that King and Kennedy inspired in their lasting contribution to the ongoing American revolution.