9 Aug 2021

Billionaire Man and the Climate Emergency


Dead trees, parched earth, Lake Amistad, Texas

I'm reblogging this thought-provoking blog post from I Can't Believe it!, written by my other half. There's a question for you at the end - please feel free to comment and say what'd you'd do with a billion pounds.

 What would you do if you had a billion pounds?

Would you follow the technological dream of science and the colonial dream of new physical horizons, and fund a space program to take humanity another step down this road that has supposedly served us so well for hundreds of years – exploitation of supposedly virgin lands, ignorant of the life that is there? Become so convinced of the magnificence of your own ego and exceptionality, that you insist on being one of the first to go into space? Even model your spacecraft to resemble a large penis as you exhibit your contempt for lesser humans?

Or would you do something to help repair the earth and nature that has been ravaged by that technological/colonial dream, to the degree that our ecosystem is now under extreme threat, both in its loss of biodiversity, in its drowning in its own pollution, in the breakdown of its long-stable climate – all effects which have been made worse by you and your like, the rich and powerful extracting money from ‘the system’ to a degree that is surely obscene and has deprived the public purse everywhere of the means to ensure a decent life and environment for all, even undermining the democratic systems that of course put limits on your individual power.

Psychologically, the first path is chosen in humanity’s adolescence, the creation of ego that we all go through. Some appear to remain arrested at this increasingly narcissistic stage – ageing egos going in a circle of their multiple houses, yachts, private jets, exclusive parties, security obsession, separation from the masses. 

But modern psychological knowledge means we now know that this ego process is just the first stage of our development, as we grow to maturity, transcend our individual ego concerns and becoming co-operating adults and gradually becoming wiser and more spiritual. Our concern is wider than the individual; it is the good of the whole and all its parts.

Of course, this is also the perspective that will enable us to address all those problems that we have created in the world around us. Restoration of our living ecosystem becomes of paramount importance, the space ego trip seems somehow irrelevant. Not that we should not have more space programs, but that they are hardly today’s top priority.

So what would you do with your billion? And if you had more than one billion, why? What a weight of responsibility to have so much money, the weight of so much of the earth on your own shoulders? What on earth would you do, and why?

The ideas came to me after reading Prof Tim Jackson’s excellent post on The Billionaire space race; the ultimate symbol of capitalism’s flawed obsession with growth. Do read it.

 


3 Aug 2021

What would you like to see more of in the World?

 


Twelve years ago today, on 3rd Augsut 2009, I completed my one hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, as part of artist Antony Gormley's "One and Other" project.

I'd been randomly selected from those who applied to stand on the plinth (my  daughter entered my name without me knowing) and on reflection it was one of the most memorable things I've ever done, although it was both scary and challenging at the time.

My granddaughter - my first grandchild - was born while I was on the plinth, making the event even more significant, and today is her 12th birthday. She's now pre-teen, and will be a teenager in a year's time. I'm currently musing on what sort of world - the world we're in right now - she's going to inherit.

Ahead of my stint on the plinth, I asked friends and family "What would you like to see more of in the world" and they provided plenty of words expressing different qualities.  I read these out while I was up on the plinth, many of them receiving cheers and applause from the crowd down below (they also cheered enthusiastically when I announced the birth of my first grandchild, news of which had been shouted up to me by excited family down on the ground).

In these current times of uncertainty, pandemic, upheaval and ever-encroaching climate change I feel the need to reiterate and re-share some of the words I read out as a reminder and a memory-jogger of collectively held aspirations for a better world. We can always do better.

It's easy to be complacent, especially after 16 months of lockdowns and disappointments, so it's good to remind myself (you too if you take this on board) that we all have the power - the "power of one" (ourselves) -  to work towards something more positive in the months and years ahead. And to remember that children - like my increasingly grown up granddaughter -  are our future.

While I was on the plinth I read out most of the 94 words sent to me by family and friends saying what they would like to see more of in the world. Everyone involved offered words which have qualities and meanings that are universally understood and go beyond the personal.

It's time to reconnect with them and live them.

 

28 Jul 2021

Taking responsibility, making choices

Model of Rosa Parks choosing & taking responsibility by sitting in a "whites only" bus seat. Montgomery Civil Rights Center, Alabama

It seems that our prime minister and government here in the UK are focussing just a little bit more on the need to be cautious, wary and considerate of others after 10 days of what has felt like a "way hey!" gung-ho, let's-let-it-all-hang-out approach to the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Words of caution are creeping in (Q - why weren't they emphasised right from the start?) as many commercial outlets are still requesting people wear face coverings. The large crowds at the Euro2020 matches, the opening up of nightclubs and the return of open air festivals are crowd magnets. Scenes of people mixing and mingling as if nothing has happened begs the question of how many people will pick up the virus from this so-called return to normal? Numbers of cases from 19th July are yet to be seen, even though  cases generally appear to be going down. That's because the figures shown are for prior to this date. We'll know more in a couple of week's time.

Coronavirus, the pandemic, Covid-19, the Alpha, Beta and Delta variants - call it and them what you will - the current situation we're right now in the UK is one where the importance and significance of being autonomous, making wise choices and taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions is paramount.

Regardless of whatever the government and scientists say (personally, I think the scientists have the edge here, and have had for some time) we have to be responsible for ourselves and consider the needs and safety of other members of our society - the "herd" if you like - regardless of who they are, what they do, what they look like and whether or not they have been vaccinated. Just because the government has said we can get back to normal it doesn't mean we should.

One of the key features of astrological psychology as a tool for personal growth is that it places taking responsibility for ourselves, our lives and what goes on within them into our hands, and our hands alone. It becomes more difficult to blame anyone else if things go wrong as the buck stops with us. This might be the government's plan, but in my opinion personal responsibility should have been emphasised and reiterated long, long ago. People need frequent reminding of such things.

Here comes the astrological psychology bit. Using the birth chart as a tool and a non-predictive guide, we find it offers us choices. Once we’re aware that we can exercise choice in our everyday lives, things are unlikely to be the same again because we’ll be responsible for the direction our life takes, and no-one else.

At this point I want to briefly mention the fact that underpinning the Huber Method of astrological psychology is Assagioli’s psychosynthesis, which leads us - through the use of the birth chart -  towards integration of the personality. This is a kind of ever “onwards and upwards” approach towards our own individual wholeness.

An important way of working towards this greater wholeness can be achieved by developing our own sense of self, which is astrological psychology is symbolised by the Sun. The Sun can be likened to the conductor of an orchestra, the captain of a ship, the leader of an expedition - it's the Sun/conductor/captain/leader who calls the shots, makes the choices and the decisions.

However you wish to see the role of the Sun, it’s a very significant planet, and one which is involved in the development of our sense of self, our autonomy, our ability to take responsibility - and as well to accept that yes, we do sometimes make mistakes.

 The Sun, the sense of self and the will   

The Sun in astrological psychology is linked to the use of the will in psychosynthesis. We have 3 main types of will:

  • the strong will which gives us determination and the capacity to keep going
  • the skilful will which endows us with sound common sense and the ability to be flexible and adaptive as we work towards our goals, and
  • the good will which enables us to include others and to work selflessly for their benefit as well as our own. 

If we're individually putting our Sun/sense of self to work in the current pandemic situation we're anxious to move on from, then all aspects of our individual  will which we might engage with are relevant. There's the need to be strong and determined and keep going through these challenging times. There's the ability to be flexible and adapt our behaviour along the way, and the situation also requires a large amount of good will towards others as well as ourselves, so it becomes a win-win situation where we can all help and support each other. 

 

I suspect anti-vaxxers and "no mask" wearers are unlikely to agree with much of this; it's my personal viewpoint formed over years of experience of working with people using astrological psychology and psychosynthesis, plus a good dollop of common sense.

12 Jul 2021

I don't do predictions

 

Using Astrological Psychology, I have a unique method of timing to draw upon when looking at someone's chart. It's called Age Progression and it enables me to understand where that individual is psychologically in their own life journey. I can relate to the stage of life they're at and understand what kind of issues might be around for them. I don't predict what might happen; I look at what's going on for them right now.
 
Some time ago, an article with the title "I don't do predictions" in a newsletter for professional astrologers, set me thinking about this particular phrase. It’s one I've often used when setting up a meeting with a client. The saying “I don’t do predictions” was something that an astrologer had picked up on and it had jarred with him when he’d heard a graduate of the Astrological Psychology Association - not me - use this very phrase. His article  was about prediction of all kinds, and was not just aimed at astrology. It was well-reasoned and the points raised were clearly discussed. He was from a scientific background; the graduate from an arts background. Having used this same phrase myself countless times, I understood her stance - but could I understand his viewpoint as well? This set me thinking about prediction in general, both in the astrological context and in the wider framework of the scientific world.

Prediction and foretelling

If you look up the word “Prediction” in a dictionary, you will find its definition is “foretelling”. Literally, it means to “speak before” (pre-dict) an event. Most of us want daily predictions. We watch or listen to the weather forecast, and our lives are quite strongly influenced by predictions made by meteorologists. We will tuck an umbrella into a bag if rain is forecast without even thinking about it. But what about scientists who predict, for example, the effects of global warming? They have been doing this for countless years and yet it is only now that it is becoming more urgent and headline news. Yes, global warming is happening. Of course, scientists can only predict trends and suggest possible outcomes, which is what I suppose those astrologers who do predictions might say.

Now consider astronomers who always seem able to state categorically that the distance between Planet A and Planet B is so many billion light years ? They are predicting or foretelling in a way. As a child I could never understand how they could know such things, state them publicly and be believed. How could they know? No-one had ever travelled that distance before! It’s all based on scientific modelling and the knitting together of known facts. But don’t quote me on that.

Global events
 
I've read in astrological journals about the workings of the planets, where transits for the coming months are discussed and interpretations made on their movements and positions and how these might relate to worldwide events. I'm not trying to knock the skills and techniques used by the well-seasoned and experienced astrologers who look at global events from a historical perspective, which may usefully highlight trends.

Although I don’t do predictions, I don't sit in judgement of those members of the astrological community who do. I know astrologers who are skilled at predictive techniques, and I embrace “astrodiversity” even though some of it leads down paths I would not wish to follow. As a novice astrologer, I learned predicting techniques, and had to use and apply them as part of the course I was studying. I felt very uncomfortable when I tried to commit my findings to paper, in the form of a mock report aimed at the person whose chart I was looking at. Fortunately this was not for real, and was part of an assignment. I never did it for real. It just didn’t feel right. Stuck in a limbo where I could not progress further without embracing predictions, I heard Bruno and Louise Huber speak at an astrological conference in the 1980’s and what they offered in the way of person-centred astrological psychology struck a profound chord for me.

Four questions
Louise Huber spoke of four different questions about astrology. These were:

1) Future 2) Character 3) Development 4) Meaning of Life
  • Future: Louise suggested that Saturn rules questions about the future. People ask “What will happen to me?” or “What does the future hold for me?” There is a fear of the future, a need to know what is just around the corner, a need to be in control and a dependence on being told what will happen by the astrologer. Methods used in answering such questions are prediction, and the use of progressions and transits. It is a formative part of any astrologer’s learning experience to experiment with progressions and transits. 
     
  • Character:
    Louise saw questions about character traits being ruled by the Moon. People will ask the astrologer to elaborate on what problems they have, or what abilities they have. They are more in touch with their emotional needs and seek clarification for these areas of their lives. The methods used to answer such questions will be to apply character analysis together with some psychological methods, drawing perhaps of the work of Freud and Jung and using other techniques such as Gestalt and Transactional Analysis. 
     
  • Development:
    By this, Louise meant personal development. Here the Sun rules. Questions might be about independence, autonomy and freedom. The person will ask “What can I do to reach self-realisation?” Methods used to answer these questions would be Psychosynthesis and the Huber Method which involves the whole chart and person, the 5 levels of human existence, the aspect structure as life motivation, the integration of the three-fold personality, the Dynamic Calculations, the House Chart and Age Progression. Here we are moving away from the “stuckness” of Saturn and the emotional responses of the Moon. We enter the realm ruled by the Sun, which represents the mind, the decision-making process and the will. If we can claim our Sun, and become truly autonomous, we will not need to ask an astrologer “What does the future hold for me?” as we’ll be out there creating it for ourselves.
     
  • Meaning of Life:
    This is the area where the transpersonal planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto rule. The questions are deep and penetrating and include such topics as “Where am I coming from and where am I going?” and “What is the meaning of my life?” Methods used to answer these questions include esoteric astrology, which gives an understanding of the evolution of humankind. Transformation and spiritual crises would be considered along with the laws of spiritual growth. The circle in the centre of the chart would be used, plus the Low Point experience, the Moon Node chart and the use of all three charts in an astrological counselling session. These questions take us beyond the realm of the Sun and our own autonomy and move us towards asking “What can I do that will make a difference to my family, my society, and ultimately to the world?”
     
     
Code of Ethics
 
Still thinking of what set my mind turning over this “I don’t do predictions” statement, I am reminded of the APA Code of Ethics. Written by Bruno Huber and used by APA since it was founded in 1983, it includes the following clause:
 
“We regard astrology exclusively as a diagnostic tool, with which we recognise differences in character, problems of the human psyche and of psychological-spiritual development. Thus, astrological knowledge should above all be used to gain self-knowledge and as therapeutic help, as well as a means for solving conflicts - and not for prediction of the future.”

Did I get to understand where the scientists might be coming from?
 
Well, yes, in a way I did. I know many people with a scientific background and I listen to and respect the views and opinions of those with a scientific background – and in turn I expect them to listen to and respect me, and my astrology. But some aspects of the scientific do seem to smack of the sterner side of Saturn - certainty laced with a shot of rigidity, stirred well with plenty of facts. Then modelled to perfection to present a forecast or prediction which many people in positions of power hang on to tightly. The good news is that more leading edge scientists are beginning to agree that things cannot be so cut and dried, that science is not always right because there are things that can’t be explained - so those transpersonal planets are maybe doing their bit in ways we cannot yet begin to imagine.

As for astrological predictions, cue here the development of the Sun - the individual, the self, the will, the autonomy of the person, the ability to choose and create our own lives - and enter the essence of the Transpersonal planets which will help us understand what really is the meaning of our lives.

 

29 Jun 2021

Whatever happened to Lobby Ludd? Some Mercurial musings.

 

Family Group in London, 1950s. Personal archives. Is that Lobby Ludd in the hat?

An inconsequential incident at home has provoked a few Mercurial musings, mainly about how ingrained the symbolism of the planets is in our daily lives and our culture.

The question, "Whatever happened to Lobby Ludd?" arose as my husband was  giving a touch of fresh paint to the area between our kitchen door, which leads to the utility room and also has a door  giving access to the garage. I call it the lobby. He calls it an alcove. Daughter calls it a porch.

Using the word “lobby” had us both remembering a certain character called Lobby Lud, who was around in the late 1950s/early 1960s when we were taken on seaside holidays with our respective parents – me to Clacton-on-Sea, him to Blackpool and Scarborough.

Mercury, the winged messenger
As I remember, Lobby Lud was a mystery man who roamed around the resort, probably wearing a trilby hat and carrying a newspaper. People were encouraged to look out for him, and if they recognised him from his picture in the newspaper, to approach him and say “You are Lobby Lud and I claim my £5”.



The whole thing was a promotional ruse to get people on holiday to buy a daily newspaper. As I recall, it was probably either The Daily Mail, or The News Chronicle who ran this event, and it was done to boost newspaper sales. People often didn’t bother to buy a paper whilst on holiday so this was a way to encourage them to do so, with the potential £5 as the prize. £5 was quite a lot of money in the 1950s. Enter the planet Mercury and some of its manifestations in our world. We speak of mercurial minds, mercurial wit, and the speed at which this planet orbits the Sun in our solar system is relevant here. 
 
Mercury, closest to the Sun, completes its orbit in 88 days as opposed to our 365 days for Earth, with Saturn clocking up 29 years. Mercury, in astrological parlance, symbolises speedy communication of all kinds plus the learning and gathering of facts and sometimes snippets of useful information. English-speaking Newspapers have adopted the qualities of this planet of communication in their names, such as The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, and The Telegraph all have associations of speed and communication. Other regional newspapers attach a Mercurial association to their name by using the word Courier. 
 
Mercury, renowned as a trickster too, is also known as the messenger of the gods. The delivery company Hermes uses this name, which is the Greek version. Hermes was the Greek god of trade, language and travel, amongst other things.

Back to Lobby Ludd carrying his newspaper, and with a nod to Mecury in trickster mode, the whole thing had a quaint, slightly quirky ring to it. I don’t think my dad ever saw Lobby Ludd when we were out and about – or if he did, he tried to get me, but an innocent young child at the time, to go and challege Lobby and ask for the £5. I would never have dared to do this, but I was always on the lookout for a man in a trilby hat, carrying a newspaper when we were walking around in the central promenade area near the pier.

Those were days of innocent holiday family fun alright. In Clacton, as well as Lobby Ludd, there was a concert party on the pier twice daily and live entertainment and shows to go to. Today’s holiday makers are more likely to go to a multi-screen cinema with a bar, and read the news on their smart phones or tablets. And more often than not it’s only the older generation who have a folded, well-thumbed tabloid tucked under one arm. 

The essence Mercury prevails, but now it comes in different, technological forms.