Brilliant Mars

October 16, 2020

Mars is unusually close to the Earth right now. Look for it overhead around midnight (it’s in opposition to the sun now). It will appear a bit more to the west every night (it’s retrograde until November 13th). Mars is so bright at the moment that you might mistake it for Venus: the “red planet” now has a blue or greenish cast.

Mars was technically closer to Earth last year, but dust storms on the planet hid its shine. You won’t be able to view Mars this close for another fifteen years.

Photo: David Craig

Proud Emblem of the City

October 9, 2020
Photo: Dick Daniels

An encounter with a pigeon could have great import, because pigeons are guardians of civilization.

Pigeons are intellectual birds, associated with education, government, and religious institutions. They roost in libraries, government buildings, university buildings, and large places of worship. Wherever there are cities, there are pigeons.

Because pigeons and other doves roosted in the first temples, pigeons became associated with the goddess. Mesopotamians believed these birds came to the temples to carry prayers to the sky deities.

The white pigeon, especially, is a messenger of the goddess. Aphrodite, Ishtar, and Astarte are sometimes pictured with the white dove, which is a pigeon.

The pigeon is the ultimate pro-social bird of complex society. Interestingly enough, while the Mourning Dove and White-winged Dove thrive in open spaces throughout North America, the Rock Pigeon (that introduced species most people are referring to as the “pigeon”) doesn’t survive outside of cities due to predators. Even in the city, Peregrine Falcons and Red-tail Hawks feed on pigeons.

Pigeon numbers are decreasing, although they are not at all endangered. Is this decline caused by an increase in urban raptors or is it a reflection of the anti-intellectual times we live in? Many people claim to hate pigeons, but pigeons are connoisseurs of human institutions and culture. The urban dweller and the pigeon have much in common.

Aries Rules!

October 1, 2020

Moon is full in Aries through Friday, October 2nd. Aries is the feel good full Moon of the year, also called the Harvest Moon. People are outgoing, energetic, social, spontaneous. Like any other Moon only more so. Aries moon can also be headstrong and combative, but the Sun in Libra balances that somewhat.

Mars, ruler of Aries, is retrograde now in Aries, until mid-November. A retrograde in its own sign is felt more intensely. The inner planets retrograde (Mercury, Venus, Mars) shake things up. Mars represents energy more than anything else, so prudence, reflection, and calculated inaction may be appropriate now. Not the best time for moving forward.

Mars rules dentistry, so I’m wondering what my checkup this month will reveal. I keep putting off diagnostic x-rays, thinking it’s senseless to pay for information about a problem I can’t afford to fix right now. I promised to have them done this time. Should I?

I do think of retrogrades of the inner planets as times when things get fixed. Mercury retrograde, especially, points to areas of life that have been neglected. Mercury, ruler of machines, health, and communication, is also retrograde starting the middle of October.

When both planets are direct again in late November, we can check back in and see if we’ve had twice the fun.

Reflections at Fall Equinox

September 25, 2020

Tis true without lying, certain & most true. That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing. And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse. The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth. Seperate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry. It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior. By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
~ from The Emerald Tablet of Hermes, translated by Isaac Newton

On Sex Roles and Matriarchy

September 18, 2020

This post is an excerpt from a conversation I had earlier this week, where I take issue with the idea that sex roles are necessarily a sign of subjugation.

Some eastern Native American tribes were/are matriarchal. These tribes had less extensive sex roles than European cultures and were less rigid in enforcing these roles, but they did exist. The Delaware were one matriarchal culture with flexible but hardly non-existent sex roles.

Delaware called themselves “A Nation of Women” meaning “we follow the women’s way.” Women owned all the land, even the land men hunted on. Decisions were made by the clan mothers, who were old women, and chiefs carried out their decisions. It was hierarchical, certainly, but not patriarchal.

When European men refused to negotiate treaties with women, only men, the chiefs dressed in women’s ceremonial regalia to participate in the negotiations and called themselves “queens,” because only women could cede land. The whole band would wait on the outskirts of the place where negotiation was occurring. The chiefs would take frequent recesses to confer with the women elders during the negotiations, because they could not make binding commitments without them.

The concept of “chief” itself is a Euro-centric one, that had even stronger male connotations in the 17th century. I doubt that a European man would have bestowed that title on any woman, no matter how powerful.

Delaware women fed everyone, which was another conventional women’s role. The men did not cook or clean the game, usually. The women also distributed the food, all the food, no small thing in a time where food was the most precious material good. Women conducted trade, because women controlled possessions and their distribution. Women’s control over food was an expression not of subjugation but power.

Because young women were often pregnant or breastfeeding, and because women have less upper-body strength, some division of labor by sex would have been natural. Such divisions make less sense today than in the past. For example, when moving from winter to summer habitations, Delaware women would carry all the possessions while men kept their hands free. That was so if the band was attacked, the men, trained in warfare, could fight back immediately. European men saw the amount of heavy lifting Delaware women did and concluded they were severely oppressed.

The modern concept of “gender” is a highly individualistic one, about expressing one’s “true self.” Many, if not most, indigenous American cultures did not see what we call “gender” as an expression of personality. Rather, what we call sex roles were taken as a way of giving to the greater community, based on needs of the whole, not the individual. If Delaware chiefs had to become “queens” to negotiate a treaty for the good of the tribe, they would undertake that sex role. It wasn’t about how they felt about themselves.

American pioneer communities also saw a breakdown in sex roles, with men and women both taking on activities that were highly coded as opposite sex in the cultures they came from. This was done for the survival of the larger family unit. This idea of gender as soul expression is not the way it has always been, even for White Americans.

I wrote about Gunlog Fur’s book, A Nation of Women, on my blog. https://hearthmoonrising.com/a-nation-of-women-part-ii/

American Indian cultures do challenge core ideas about matriarchy: that is is always peaceful or always non-hierarchical or always non-gendered. No culture fits the feminist ideal of what a “matriarchy” is, though it’s a fine ideal to strive for.

A book about matriarchies that I love is Matriarchal Societies by Heide Gottner-Abendroth. She only spends part of her focus on the Americas.

https://books.google.com/books/about/Matriarchal_Societies.html?id=awXIXwAACAAJ

She doesn’t fall into the trap of assuming all American Indian cultures fit a certain mold, though she doesn’t seem to have been aware of the Delaware when she wrote her book.

Perhaps the idea of what a matriarchy is cannot be fathomed at this point in history. Right now we seem to define it as an absence: an absence of sex roles or war or inequality or hierarchy. We can’t seem to define it in any positive way, even when studying cultures where women have power. In the 19th century, people defined matriarchy as anything better for women. The ancient Celts were called matriarchal then, though they aren’t today. We probably need to scuttle our current definition of matriarchy (or liberation) and find a better one.

Gone Fishin’

September 4, 2020

Not really, but doing other things.

Enjoy music from Lisa Thiel and video by Viktoria

Because for Me the Truth

August 21, 2020

Because for me there are certain truths
that have not been banished

to childhood
to antiquity
to cave men
to crazy people
to indigenous cultures
to cultural sensitivity
to impenetrable philosophies
to subjectivity
to literary genre
to suspended disbelief

Because for me the truth
has not been bounded

by scientific bodies
by quantifiable terms
by elegant equations
by peer reviewed papers
by foundational texts
by political correctness
by right-side-of-history
by Karl Marx
by Mary Daly
by the threat of a Twitter ban

Because for me the truth
has not been deconstructed

into hypotheticals
into reciprocals
into relativity
into subjectivity
into obfuscation
into obliteration
into bullying
into helplessness
into slogans
into silence

Because for me the truth
matters

even if you don’t understand
even if I don’t understand
even if it hurts your feelings
even if it’s ugly
even if it’s old
even if it can’t be monetized
even if you don’t like right-or-wrong
even if it changes things
even if it changes nothing
even if I’m the only one who cares