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Magnetised 22

Magnetised

It’s ilovers 25n my imagination that I become the avenging hero. The beautiful princess. It’s in my imagination that I search for synchronicities, clues, correspondences. You are my soul mate. My twin flame. My past life lover. We’ve woven a new story with a thread of a new truth…we exchange souls in a kiss…

 “Relationships are about stories, not truth. Alone, as individuals, we each have our own personal mythologies, the stories we tell in order to make sense of ourselves to ourselves. That generally works well as long as we stay sane and single, but the minute you enter an intimate relationship with another person there is an automatic dissonance between your story about yourself and his or her story about you,” writes author Louise Doughty in her brilliant exposé of a Neptunian love-affair, Apple Tree Yard.

In the boundary-less, nebulous realm of cyberspace’s Neverland we become Tinker Bell, a Lost Boy. Amidst those seamless hours in altered reality, we escape the mortgage, the rigors of ageing, our sordid family dramas. We cloak our ordinary lives in a sparkling façade as we author new stories about ourselves. Artfully embellish the old rusty ones. In the spaces between the lines, in the tantalising silence of omission, we can be anything we want to be. beautiful_photographs_of_rain_42

Neptune’s long transit through Pisces— 2011 —2025 liquefies boundaries between what we think is real and true stirs the dark sediment suspended in the crevasses of our unconscious. Neptune infuses a numinous, otherworldly dimension into our mundane, often unremarkable lives. Offers a tantalising escape from the crass harshness of the world through hypnosis, meditation, shamanic journey, altered states of experience. False gurus, fake news, virtual reality porn, and Rebel Redeemer Dionysus figures enter our lives, mysterious White Knights carry us away in a sequence of algorithms… As Google and Facebook trawl through the vast data lake, hauling up a richly writhing catch of even the most intimate parts of our lives, we comply. Without a whimper. By the end of Neptune’s transit through Pisces personal privacy will be dead. A quaint anachronism cherished only by those ( perhaps with Pluto in Leo )  who remember what things were like once upon a time.
The look of loveThe porous membrane of social media offer the thrill of voyeurism and subterfuge but no anonymity. Surveillance pervades every quiet sanctuary of our existence and is an attentive audience in the circle of our Neptunian theatre  as we can play at being someone else, glamourise our drab dull lives, blur the boundaries just a little because, we tell ourselves, it’s harmless. And like any addict, we truly believe we can stop any time we want to. And like any addict, we loose all empathy for the feelings of those around us.

Writes sex therapist, Esther Perel, “In this relationship culture, expectations and trust are in constant question. The state of stable ambiguity inevitably creates an atmosphere where at least one person feels lingering uncertainty, and neither person feels truly appreciated or nurtured. We do this at the expense of our emotional health, and the emotional health of others… Ghosting, icing, and simmering are manifestations of the decline of empathy in our society — the promoting of one’s selfishness, without regard for the consequences of others. There is a person on the other end of our text messages (or lack thereof), and the ability to communicate virtually doesn’t give us the right to treat others poorly.” mermaid 8

Neptune’s domain is the liminal tidal zone where morality, ethics and what we deem to be true are sucked into the undertow of the ineffable. Swept along with bleached bones of Victims, Martyrs, and Persecutors.  Fantasy, glamour and magic gleam in the lustrous shell of illusion. Integrity sinks like a stone. We want the Hollywood ending that fades out with music and moonlight. We want the passion, the excitement that lifts us up where we believe we belong.

When we’re “love struck” we experience the euphoria associated with cocaine and alcohol. Our neural pathway that’s responsible for fear and judgement shuts down.  It’s impossible to be “sane” when our brain’s reward circuit is flooded with dopamine, cortisol, vasopressin and oxytocin. We’re blind, in the most deliciously submissive way, until the cortisol and serotonin levels return to normal. Yet the subterfuge and instant gratification can be addictive. And when things get too complicated in this parody of connection, there’s the innocent ease of “unfriending” another human being. Just like detonating all life on earthall it takes is one click.

loving coupleNeptune’s seductive siren call is hard to resist even with our own internal Saturnian checks and balances. Christian morality casts the devil outside ourselves, so we scapegoat those whose life style or religion frightens or confuses; those whose opinions enrage. We don’t mean to judge or blame. We don’t mean to deceive. We are the Victims of our whims, slaves to our addiction to distractions that dissipate our energy. It’s not our fault.
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The internet screens us from the next stage in love’s cycle—death and re-birth. And yet, Neptune in the sign of Pisces is about compassion, a love that cradles the passage of time gently in tender arms.

On February 26th, Mercury ingresses into Pisces bringing a sense of fresh starts to the  solar annular eclipse (Pisces 8 degrees. Saros 19 South.) Astrologer, Bernadette Brady writes that this family of eclipses promises pleasant surprise, lucky breaks, joyful wins that will be life changing. There’s a subtle change in tone, a shimmering supernatural quality in this seeding moment as this new moon merges with Neptune. An opportunity to align with the Divinity within, to transcend our mortal addictions and delusions.

In the alchemical process of our life journey, we will all encounter the searing singe of loss, the choking confusion of betrayal, the languid silence of a lie. We may see our own horns and scaly tail in those we rescue or try to redeem until we truly know, in the words of Robert Bly, that every part of you that you do not love will regress and become hostile towards you…beautiful_photographs_of_rain_53

We will know that no one can rescue us or redeem us. That the tears and protestations of the Victim are charged with a force that provokes a rush of rage. That we can swim not drown a wave of other people’s regurgitated opinions the helpless, hopeless places assigned to us the frenetic dispersal of our precious energy on meaningless connections. We will know that our holy truth is anchored by stillness and reflection. That we can travel to Neverland but we don’t have to stay there forever.

Tom Odell Magnetised

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Wings

brad-pitt-and-angelina-jolie-mr-and-mrs-smithAmidst the unrelenting scrutiny of the media’s Cyclops eye, amidst the vaporous flurry of voyeuristic speculation from those who will never know any of the back story, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have uncoupled.

Power struggles in relationships have soared to new heights of psychological sophistication with easy access to often dubious “self-help” offerings on the internet. We can diagnose our partner as being a Narcissist or having signs of Asperger’s syndrome. We can play Victim, Rescuer or Persecutor in the tawdry soapie of our own lives. Labels, like headache pills, can be an easy way of dealing with the symptoms, but not the cause.

roses“Toxic relationships can sneak up on almost anyone. And controlling behaviour on the part of a partner knows no boundaries—people of any age, gender, sexual orientation, or socio economic status can be in controlling relationships, playing either role,” writes psychologist, Andrea Bonior in Psychology Today. I disagree. Toxic relationships don’t sneak up like thieves in the night, robbing us of our joy and our autonomy. We create them all by ourselves. Adult power struggles resemble “the terrible twos”. We use avoidance, manipulation, verbal and very often physical abuse to get our own way. We stamp our feet and sabotage moments of tenderness or connectedness. We withhold or demand sex. The old Berserker brain takes charge. Reason, compassion and wisdom fly from the bloody battle fields.

The September, autumn (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere) equinox is marked by the Sun’s passage into the zodiac sign of Libra. Traditionally associated with the ritual of marriage and the ethics of contracts and spoken agreements in our relationships. Every relationship we embark upon requires a negotiation of boundaries: what is mine and yours, what is ours, and what we both agree to share with our friends and families.

268621642-290x290The anatomy of love and desire requires boundaries and structure whether it’s the ritualised control and submission of bondage and sexual play; or the intricate web of rules that we weave around ourselves when we become a couple. What do we share and what do we keep private? Do we stay friends with our ex on Facebook? What do we share and what do we withhold? Do we spend our holidays together or apart? Does honesty always nurture trust and intimacy? How do we come together and stay present for one another amidst the distractions that trip-wire closeness? How do we soothe and repair those bruised silences that hang like dust motes above our sensitivities? Sex therapist, Esther Perel believes, “relationship boundaries are not a topic that you negotiate only once. Your personal and couple-dynamic boundaries may change based on your relationship or your individual preferences at varying stages of your life. The most successful couples are agile, and allow this to be an open and ongoing discussion. ”

Artist, husband and father, Eric Pickersgill’s series of photographs, Removed, depict the wings-7phantom limb of our treasured devices that signal our busyness and unapproachability. This invisible addictive force that splits our attention and takes us away from those who are physically present.

Life imitates Art for Hollywood’s  Power Couple. Transiting Neptune conjunct his Chiron, transiting Saturn opposing her Sun, transiting Neptune Square her Sun. They very publicly perform their final role: the intractable stand-off and ultimate catastrophic exit that is divorce.

hypnosis-1Borders and barriers have been a feature of the Saturn Neptune square over the past months – 26 November 2015, June 18, and September 10, 2016. This aspect was also triggered by the September 1 eclipse. The refugee crisis in Europe. Brexit. The machinations that are more like a tacky reality TV show than politics in the US. The beginnings of another property bubble burst, and the slow realisation that  without jobs, people will not longer be “consumers” .

The sense of being in “a fog” (Neptune) or feeling that we are lodged between the proverbial rock and the hard place (Saturn). Too much Saturn and we atrophy. Too much Neptune and we escape or seek redemption through something or someone who takes us away from the harsh reality and limitations of the drab burnt out ends of our lives. Asks speaker and author, Brené Brown, “What boundaries need to be in place for me to stay in my integrity to make the most generous assumptions about you?” 

Connection is an energy. It manifests when we feel seen, heard, and validated. When we draw nourishment and strength from our relationship. When we feel like allies not foes. When we find our own  wings to fly between the spaces and the coming together. When we can tolerate the Mystery in one another and gaze upon each other with loving eyes. img_8584

Birdy – Wings

 

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Smooth Operator

African Baobab TreeAnd so it’s Christmas. You’re worn to a frazzle. The sleeping  herpes virus has awoken and painfully alerted you to its presence. You drive to the doctor. Then to the pharmacy. It’s nothing really in the great scheme of things. A bit of discomfort, especially in the heat, this time of year.  But it’s something about yourself you don’t want to share on Facebook, or with your former or future lovers, or with your insurance company, advertisers, or the government – or leave hanging up there in the cloud do you? Well if you own a smartphone darling, it’s thank you for sharing.  You are leaving a trail of dots that can be joined. There’s nothing stopping the multi-trillion “Smart things” business now.  The internet lives in your wristwatch, the locks on your doors, your car, in your eyewear, in your phone. Our physical world is on the brink of morphing into a virtual one. We’re tiny frogs in hyper-connected water that’s hotting up.imagesW7IIH6N5

And yet in this interconnected world where we are all stardust, all part of the Great Design, what’s so ominous about being transparent? Is this Western need for individualization and privacy passé? An anachronistic foible of ageing Baby Boomers? A dinosaur in a quantum age?

Christopher Mims, science and technology correspondent for Quartz writes that 2014 is the year of the internet of things. And the internet of things will replace the web and tell us what we want – continually. No surprises. No spontaneity. It will moderate our lives, anticipate our thoughts and feelings – till we’re too dumbed down to wonder, whose life is this anyway? “The web will survive, just as email survived the arrival of the web.”  Science Fiction, Double Feature.  We are but players, joined by invisible threads that urge us to buy more stuff, that know exactly where we are and what we’re doing. We may feel important, special, seen. But there is a price to pay for our narcissistic  specialness.

BI prophet and founder of 9sight Consulting Dr Barry Devlin, writes in a recent blog post: “ The sad truth is that we have lost most of our privacy already, having entered into a Faustian pact to share, both knowingly and unwittingly, the details of our daily lives.”

images8KWPVDZDIt’s a trade-off. Like most things in life it must be made with as much consciousness and alertness as we can muster in our dazed and dazzled minds. At it’s best it’s a symbiotic relationship. At it’s worst it’s parasitic. In exchange for everything there is to know about our lives, Facebook and Google give us social networks and information we may find useful – or not .

“Even the acceptance that our smartphones report our location minute by minute is driven by a consensual belief that we may be offered a coupon for a nearby coffee shop at any moment. The payoff for ultimate traceability… Which aisle in the supermarket are you in? What about some very specific retail therapy recommendations? These, and other soon to emerge toys, have the addictive quality of sex to many of the current generation of CMOs and proponents of big analytics,” writes Devlin.

Dave Eggers’ The Circle: A Novel is chillingly prophetic in the same way that George Orwell’s 1984 was 30 years ago.  “The world has dorkified itself,” he writes about the insidious encroachment of technology in every aspect of our lives. Oh, but this is just a novel, he cleverly states up front. A chilling read and well worth slipping into your own Christmas stocking. Big Brother is watching us in our dorkified new world – every breath you take. Every move you make. Every bond you break … every time we use our credit card or phone a friend.

So step off the grid this Christmas. Meet those you love in real time. Embrace the spirit of Christmas with real hugs and real kisses.

Smooth Operator  songstress Sade’s molasses voice melts the world away…

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Give Me Love

john_lennon_yoko_ono_rolling_stone_kiss_17pju56-17pju5cI chose a TV-free, news-less diet many years ago. I have no idea what’s trending, what’s new, who’s saying what on Facebook, because in the shrug of human evolution the fundamental challenges stay the same.

We still struggle to accept each other’s “otherness”. We still sink into the oblivion of psychological fusion with something or someone who mirrors our own version of our own story about the world. We are anesthetised by a monochromatic life where everything fits with our version of “reality” our belief in what is “right” and “wrong”.  We react to the bits that niggle and jar us out of our somnambulant complacency with outrage or distain. “Love for ourselves, despite our imperfections, can come alive only when we also risk loving others – accepting their imperfections. And then we understand how starkly our attitude to ourselves, and especially the presence or absence of a feeling of self-worth, is mirrored in the larger society we are collectively creating,” writes Stephanie Dowrick.

“Boundaries” like “Co-dependence” are words that have lost their conflagration. The Sun is now in the boundary-less sign of Pisces, where it meets a line-up of planets, transiting at this time through the silent darkness of the heavens. The Piscean quality of beatific new love feels, tastes and smells so sweet because we see reflected in the eyes of our Beloved, our own Divinity. We breathe in his essence through diaphanous hearts; we invite him in through our transparent minds. We rock him gently in the soft bosom of our in-breath and our out-breath. In his gaze, we greet ourselves.

Love, like Life, is a tight-rope walk that requires vigilance and balance. There is no “right way” or even a “wrong way” to place one foot in front of the other on this eventful journey, and we are all travellers on the same road.

A friend, recently returned from a month in Pune, in India, was shocked to discover that not all Indians are “spiritual”. And that in contrast to western individualism, the general view in that industrialised, polluted, over-populated part of our world does not embrace her values of sanctity of life, gentleness, cleanliness or even common courtesy.  In the hologram, we see what we want to see, until it morphs into shadow. Beneath the immaculate robes of the guru, behind the altar of the priest and within the troubled heart of a golden-haired celebrity or sportsman, we find our own self-doubt and hubris that haunts like a hungry ghost. And yet we are so often shocked and saddened, outraged or betrayed, when our idol or loved-one must inevitably topple and fall into the salty soup of humanity.

We live on a binary planet with an illusive Moon that appears to be much bigger than the Sun when she is in her ripe fullness.

It is within the dappled shallows of contrast that we experience our duality. It is within the interplay of intense passion and the insecurity of possessive love in adult relationships that we discover our suffering. It is within the net of psychological fusion that scoops us like flapping tadpoles, confused and dying, unable to breathe alone. It is down the dark depths of our own narcissism that we draw up muddied water to discover the Lotus Flower of our soul’s beauty.Photograph by Eiko Jones TADPOLES SWIMMING

“The cure for narcissism,” writes Thomas Moore “is to move from love of the self, which always has a hint of narcissism in it, to love of one’s deep soul.” It is in this place of quiet stillness that our differences become obsolete, that the chitter-chatter of our self-protective questions crackle underfoot, a carpet of russet autumn leaves in the sunlight. It is in this place of quiet stillness that we need no longer struggle or strive. It is in this place of quiet stillness that we discover Love is all there is.

Tadpoles Swimming – Eiko Jones

Ed Sheeran –  Give Me Love

 

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Bad Moon Rising

I am often touched, more often confounded, by the alacrity with which we share the most intimate details of our lives on social networking sites. We proudly show and tell – our holiday pictures, our new kitten, what we ate last night. Share our plans for the weekend. We fervently express our frustrations, share our delights, our heartbreaks, in the safety of cyberspace. We are relational creatures. And social networking sites give us a safe illusion of community, of friendship, even love, without the messy bits we inevitably encounter in the flesh. We are attracted by bright shiny things – what’s trending, what’s new. And just like in our often messy “real lives”, how often do we pause to question, think, pay attention, before we accept someone else’s version of “the truth”.  As we chatter unceasingly, like birds on a wire, how often do we question the hive mind? Ask ourselves, “is this really true?”

The Buddhist term, Monkey Mind, means “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”. It is our insatiable curiosity, our restless minds that both sanctify and bedamn our humanness.

In my quest for what lies beneath, my Monkey Mind seized “The Filter Bubble”,  which offers Eli Pariser’s appraisal of a silent revolution which will have far-reaching implications for each one of us… until we choose differently. With no fanfare, as Saturn squared Pluto on December 4th, 2009, Google began personalising its search results to each user. Like jellyfish, we floated benignly into the Bubble. Few people paused to absorb the implications and far-reaching repercussions of a world that will be shaped to fit like a suit of armour. A world where we may think we have choice, but where we go through the motions of our lives, reacting to stimuli like Pavlov’s unfortunate dog. The “personalised search for everyone” now flourishes in a  world where so many of us feel unimportant, invisible, unloved,  and where now there is someone out there who  suggests what we would like to buy, where we would like to eat, tells us what we should be doing next. Google now tracks every move you make, from where you were logging into yesterday to what browser you were using, to make guesses as to what sites you’d like…even if you are logged out. For now, Google says it will keep our personal data to itself, in the feeding frenzy for highly profitable personal data, other companies are gobbling up our credit ratings, the medication we use, the music, movies, sport and holidays we enjoy.

Our monkey minds have created a deluge of information, so the allure of The Ark is a safe bet in a rising ocean of crashing stimuli.  By 2014 we’ll need new units of measurement, new power plants to cope with the deluge of blog posts, tweets, Facebook status updates, and emails that ricochet into cyberspace every single day. Two years ago, Google chairman, Eric Schmidt claimed that  in 2003 we were creating as much data every two days as had been recorded between the dawn of civilisation. That torrent of data is accelerating faster now.

Most of us naively assume that when we Google something we all see the same results, but since December 2009, this is no longer true in the “Filter Bubble”. Algorithmic observers watch our every click. Search engines are biased through our narrow lens of perception, so we see through the one way mirror darkly our own preferences and prejudices reflected back to us. As our attention deficit focus flickers through the  swirling sea of information – we sink comfortably into a custom-made world that is inhabited by our favourite people, palatable ideas. We sit back as all the potentially disturbing bits fade away, we we all live happily ever after in Pleasantville.  Even our choice of language is confined to the banal, and subjective, “like”. So we “like” a friend’s post to bump up visibility. And with the same limited choice of word, would we “like” the atrocities in Syria?

Says Eli Pariser,…“my sense of unease crystallised when I noticed that my conservative friends had disappeared from my Facebook page. Politically, I lean to the left, but I like to hear what conservatives are thinking, and I’ve gone out of my way to befriend a few and add them as Facebook connections. Their links never turned up in my Top News feed…Facebook is doing the calculations and noting our links, deciding what to show us and what to hide… Proof of climate change might bring up different results for an environmental activist and an oil company exec.” No more chance encounters, no more jarring collisions of ideas or cultures.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, claims that Facebook may be the biggest source of “news” in the world. With ominous bravado, he announces, “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa,” And some sources say 36 percent of Americans under the age of 30, garner their “news” from social networking sites. Are we regressing into a “global village” where we stay behind our fibre optic screens, wary of strangers? Where we interact only with those who share our world view, bolster our biased beliefs. Like little children we go out to play, while the Cyclops stare of our new iPhone watches where we go, knows who we call, what movies we like, what we read… Are we doing a lot of talking, with scant connection beyond the narrow niche of self-interest? We can, to a certain degree, choose to buy a certain newspaper, or watch a certain news channel, knowing that the editorial team’s bias suits our perception. We can choose not to have a Facebook account or an iPhone.  But for me, that would be like denying the invention of the wheel. Byron Katie says, “placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience. Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.”

Perhaps our liberation lies in the mercurial brilliance of our Monkey Minds to investigate our own filter bubbles where we live with our own stories. To pause, consider, before we become anesthetised by the lack of oxygen in our own biased beliefs. To be discerning, aware, of what words and images we imbibe. Says Byron Katie, “An uncomfortable feeling is not an enemy. It’s a gift that says, get honest; inquire.” We will not see the bad moon rising, unless we choose to.

 

Photography by Tacit Requiem – Full Moon Rising

Creedence Clearwater Revival Bad Moon Rising

 

 

 

 

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