Friday, January 17, 2014

Capricorn Rising - In Celebration of a Monster


Capricorn Rising - sketch, digital - 2014, DS


"Not a marine mammal, the sea goat, better described as a goat fish, is a mythical creature with the head and upper body of a goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish. The sea goat symbol goes back over 4000 years, when it represented the Sumerian primordial god of waters, Enki. According to legend (similar to the Garden of Eden story of the Bible) at one time "there was not fear, no terror", and men lived in harmony. When mankind was thrust out of this paradise, at a time of crisis, Enki came out of the sea, and gave humanity the skills of civilization; teaching about cultivation, irrigation, (he was the god of sweet spring water as well.) granaries, and medicine. Never a trickster god, he represented balance and responsibility."

- via Astra Chrysalis concerning the astrological symbol of Capricorn


"Capricorn is a sign that represents an Herculean struggle between the forces of light and darkness - on the road to initiation, represented by Mars' exaltation here. Indeed, Mars and the Moon are said to create a 'fearful conflict' at the third initiation, the truly archetypal initiation of Capricorn, the Transfiguration, the ultimate triumph of the mental body over denser matter. Hence the Capricornian initiate is able to move between heaven and hell and 'raise the dead to life', bringing universal brotherhood into expression upon the physical plane."

- from the Esoteric Astrologer Capricorn page
(Note: included also is an interesting analysis of author, & Capricorn, J.R.R. Tolkien - b. January 3, 1898)



"The amphibious Sea-Goat dwells at the shoreline ‘twixt matter and spirit, guarding the Gate of the Return of Souls for mankind’s sojourn on Earth.

In ancient Orphic and Platonic doctrine, the Sea-Goat was the Gate of the Gods, wherein the souls of men, when released from corporeality, ascended to heaven through its stars.

Porphyry, in “In the Caves of the Nymphs” (300 BC) stated that souls that descend from the heavens to become incarnate on Earth pass through the celestial gate of Cancer (i.e. the original figure of the Crab, which runs from about 26º Cancer to 21º Leo in tropical degrees), and upon completion of their life cycle they return to the heavens through the gate of Capricornus (now almost completely spanning tropical Aquarius, from about 29º Capricorn to 29º Aquarius)."



***


Capricornus; a Brief Encounter

I am on a foreign shore. I'm not sure where it is, but it's probably somewhere up north, possibly the coast of somewhere like Norway.

I am alone, as I so frequently am, but from this I have always derived a kind of satisfaction, an uninterrupted, silent engagement with the world surrounding me. Today, it's just me and the sand beneath my feet, and the grey-green ocean waves lapping against the shore.

The skies are a murky grey, with that peculiar blue cast to the light that is only evident before a winter storm. The cliffs, both to the side and in front of me are high, but so shrouded in mist that the horizon is a featureless silhouette spread flat in either direction.

Which is where I found the first one.


I thought it was some kind of a wild goat, though all I could make out of its narrow form was a set of twisting horns on a long neck poking upwards through the mist. Its head seemed to waver back and forth, as if it was trying to make out what I was, wandering below. Like two isolated figures in a land of dreams, we silently encountered one another.

And then I saw the second figure. It was goat-like, like the first, but was somewhat closer, and I could make out it's shape more fully. Standing upright, like the first, it's horns penetrating the air above it's head like two thorns, it, too, gazed down at me. But there was something peculiar about the way it stood, While it's forelegs were evident, it's back seemed to slope preternaturally downward. And, while I couldn't actually see it's hindquarters, it was obvious that the creature was not one on four legs.

I continued to walk, but no longer feeling as peaceful. While the creatures on the cliffs seemed to represent no real threat, their presence on the cliffs seemed to indicate that I was a trespasser. My immediate response was to turn around and back-track the way I came, and I would have done... had it not been for the third creature.

This one was close, lying on a rocky tower, no more than fifty feet from the place I now stood. It was the strangest, most magnificent animal I had ever seen. As suspected, it did not stand on four legs, but it's hindquarters extended and ended like the tail of some large deep-sea fish, a marlin, perhaps, with its huge-tail fin gripping the rocks like some remarkable third appendage.

It's hide was hairless, it's underbelly somewhat livid and spotted like tthat of another marine creature, possibly one of the larger cetaceans, but its head was, undeniably, its most magnificent feature. Stately and regal as that of an alpha Ibex, but with a the gentleness and serenity of an Impala doe, he or she - it was impossible to tell - continued to gaze down on me... fearlessly, almost compassionately, as if my presence was somehow expected, and nothing remarkable at all.

It had large, almost reptilian eyes of some indescribable pale color, and it was the creature's eyes that held me in a kind of trance, broken only by the sudden shake of its head and the emission of a low horse-like snuffle. This was followed by an eerier sound, and it opened its mouth wide and arched it's head, but the sound which emerged now was louder and more compelling. It was a strange, almost whale-like call which pierced the air and echoed along the cliffs. And the other two creatures responded, one after the other with slightly different, but, harmonic replies. These calls were repeated in an almost orchestral array; a cadence and cascade of silvery notes sliding up and down the cliffs. There was something almost magical in the sound.

And, yet, and this is the what held me, the calls were tinged with melancholy. It was as if the creatures were trying to convey to me the meaning of our encounter, but, all I was able to translate was this overwhelming feeling of sorrow. It was as if we were the last four remaining creatures in all the world.

DS, January 18. 2014

*

"And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams-
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams."

- from To One in ParadiseEdgar Allen Poe (b. January 19, 1809)

*

"A terrible sense of desolation. It hung over me for years. If I were to
believe in the stars I should have to believe that I was completely under
the reign of Saturn. Everything that happened to me happened too late to
mean much to me. It was even so with my birth. Slated for Christmas I was
born a half hour too late. It always seemed to me that I was meant to be the
sort of individual that one is destined to be by virtue of being born on the
25th day of December. Admiral Dewey was born on that day and so was Jesus
Christ... perhaps Krishnamurti too, for all I know. Anyway that's the
sort of guy I was intended to be. But due to the fact that my mother had a
clutching womb, that she held me in her grip like an octopus, I came out
under another configuration - with a bad set-up, in other words. They say -
the astrologers, I mean - that it will get better and better for me as I go
on; the future in fact, is supposed to be quite glorious. But what do I care
about the future?"

- an excerpt from The Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller (b. December 26, 1891)

*

"Dreaming is the vehicle that brings dreamers to this world," the emissary said, "and everything sorcerers know about dreaming was taught to them by us. Our world is connected to yours by a door called dreams. We know how to go through that door, but men don't. They have to learn it."

- from The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda (b. December 25, 1925)

*

the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
grave visitations
what is it that calls to us?
why must we pray screaming?
why must not death be redefined?
we shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
and whirl on a pane of glass
an afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
the hands of he and the promise that s/he is blessed among women.

- from Dancing Barefoot, Patti Smith (b.December 30, 1946)
(for a great live version, go here... and, from the same concert: Because The Night)

*

"But the seventh self remained watching and gazing at nothingness, which is behind all things."

- from a prose poem by Kahlil Gibran (b. January 6, 1883)
(a BBC Gibran page)

*

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

- from the memoirs (via Wiki) of Isaac Newton (b. December 25, 1642)




The seal of Roman Emperor Octavian, himself, a Libra. Now, why would a Libra use the symbol of the sea goat to represent his reign? Because, obviously, Capricorns rule!



As you might've suspected by now, this blogger was born under the auspices of the astrological sign known as Capricorn, (December 22 through January 20). My birthday was several weeks ago, December 31 to be exact... but then, nothing is terribly exact on the cusp of the year. Because here, once again, we've come to another portal; and one which might lead anywhere.

From very early on I had an interest in astrology, promoted by my mom, whom I suspect had the bloodlines of a gypsy. This was to last until I formally studied astrology and learned to draw up a natal chart... specifically my own. The prognosis was not good. My chart was overwhelmingly under the control of two signs... specifically Capricorn and Scorpio, the most maligned and misunderstood signs of the Zodiac*. Worse still, my sun shone in the darkest of houses, the 12th house, the house of death, the unconscious and, well, madness. In short, I was, in the eyes of an astrologer, a monster.

End of my astrological inquiries. (I'm reminded of my best friend, Moo, who, when prompted by the company - who drew up her computer chart - for feedback and/or her response, ripped up the horoscope and mailed it back to them pronto. It's the sort of thing I wish I'd done.)

Interestingly, after all those years - and, counting from day one of my life, this amounts to over a half century - I find I have a confession to make. In very odd ways, that unfortunate chart was true; I am a monster.

But then, this post was inspired by a monster... namely the sea goat... who came to me in the latter hours of the afore-mentioned day and said (figuratively, you understand): "Happy Birthday, Capricorn". But, I immediately understood that this greeting was directed, not only to myself, but each and every person born around the cusp of the year; hence the image, and hence this post. It is, in a way, a celebration of  our monsterhood. So, arise, my fellow creatures - and  let's celebrate.

First of all, it becomes necessary to set the record straight. The sign of Capricorn - and its constellation, Capricornus - is not now, nor ever has been, symbolized by a mere goat... except, perhaps in the Middle and/or Dark Ages. That is, the delightful period of human history which brought to us the bubonic plague, regarded anything with horns as Satanic, and burnt "heretics" like Joan of Arc - herself a Capricorn- at the stake.
A goat's eye.

Rule of thumb: any astrological source referring to you, Capricorn, as a goat - which is comparable to regarding the Sagittarian centaur as a "horse" - is suspect and should be wholly and unduly discarded (i.e., rip it up, and send it back).

Not that I have anything against goats. They're interesting creatures. For instance, they're the only animal with horizontal, rectangular pupils in their eyes... which enables them to see at a 330 degree angle (humans see at a 185 degree angle). And here's a fun fact: goats can climb trees! No shit (though shit, in fact, is the operative term describing the industry to which these goats contribute)!

Goats in a tree, found here(click to enlarge)


Capricorn, or Capricornus, was and will always be, a sea goat, one of the most ancient of mythological creatures. That's how the Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks** and possibly even the Picts knew both the constellation and the astrological sign. It has been associated with mermaids, unicorns, the great god Pan, the Makara and the prototypical dragon. And it was ruled by Saturn; not the cold, crotchety Chronus (essentially Greek) personification cited by astrologers, but the real planet of Saturn - the most beautiful, mysterious, and yet, recognizable planet there is - as well as its mysterious god Saturn, who reigned over the Golden Age of Rome, and was celebrated around the time of the winter solstice with Saturnalia.


(Left) The Zodiac of Dendera  (Right) Alabaster statue via Tutankhamun's tomb

If you really want to understand the possible character traits of Capricorn, ignore this sort of analysis (however, for the ladies, this one is pretty), which cuts you out to be some cold, calculating money-machine, the quintessential corrupted CEO, power-mad but as dull as a door stop ... or, perhaps, some plodding idiot with your feet planted firmly in the ground and blue-bottle flies buzzing around your tiny, boring, conservative head. Lies, lies, all of them lies. Instead, just take a good look at yourself, and the others who share your place in time... some of whom I've quoted here, but, lists of which can be found here and here, and here (w/ photos).***

You're about as "bland" as Marylin Manson, as "cold and calculating" as Janis Joplin, as "business-like" as Pink Floyd's Sid Barrett, as "dull" as Stephen Hawking, as "down-to-earth" as Isaac Asimov, as "uninspired" as Alan Watts, as "conservative" as Martin Luther King Jr., or J.D. Salinger (see note below) or Simone de Beauvoir, as "plodding" as John Delorean, as "dry and humorless" as Charles Addams (The Addam's Family), Graham Chapman (Monty Python), and/or Rowan Atkinson (Black Adder & Mr. Bean), and as "power-mad" as Michael Stipe or Saint Therese. In short, you're nothing like what most pop-astrologers insist you are.

On the other hand, let's hope we all have the longevity of America's darling, Betty White!

And so, once again, happy birthday, Capricorn. And if you are not a Capricorn, but know one, pass this on. They might thank you for it. Meanwhile, I'd like to close this out with two very-much-alive Capricorn tune-smiths, Annie Lennox and David Bowie. May they rock on - and may we all rock on - forever.






A vintage video of DB and another Capricorn, Marianne Faithfull, can be found here.) (BTW, for one of the better rock auto-biographies, do read "Faithfull"...)


 * An interesting correlation between those two maligned signs, Capricorn and Scorpio: Capricorn covers the cusp of one designated solar year, while Scorpio covers the cusp of the Celtic lunar year, in early November. Portals upon portals.


** The Greeks had a legend which has been used to demote Capricornus from a sea goat to an ordinary goat: the story of Pricus. but this is predated by the Sumerian sea-goat god, Enki. (Note: another link of interest in this dispute.)

*** On a more sobering note, there's another ingredient in the astrological soup and, that is, the differing aspects of sidereal and tropical astrology, changing the applicable dates associated with each sign. In other words, due to the changing positions of the stars over time, those being born in December today, might very well be Aquarians. I'm not sure how this works exactly...


Note on J.D. Salinger (January 1, 1919-January 27, 2010): In a timely fashion, the American PBS station has just broadcast a documentary about Salinger. The man, like Howard Hughes (another Capricorn) became a recluse after the success of "The Catcher in the Rye", and after viewing the film, one can see why. He had a truly fanatical fan following, up to and including Mark David Chapman, who later used Salinger's famous character, Holden Caulfield, as an excuse to kill John Lennon.


Added link: A goat to love.



6 comments:

  1. Beautiful as always, otherworldly, and ... I'm supremely glad that on no walk on the beach have I ever come across one of these sitting there looking me in the eye.

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    1. And, as always, thank you.
      As it stands, I spent all of yesterday writing this post, only to decide today, that it's all wrong, and I have to begin again!
      But, I think you've given me the right entry point... I'm visualizing these creatures in the wild right now.

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  2. Gosh, when you do astrology Dia, you don't mess around. Of course, I agree that the only way to understand these things is to take the longest view, the unseen, primal, profound and at the same time mundane. Happy Birthday!

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    1. Oh, I don't suppose I ever "mess around"... if I can't do it right, I don't do it at all. As for the long view... I don't think I'm capable of anything else. ;-)
      Thanks, TB.

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  3. Wow. You've outdone yourself with this post -- this glimpse into the depths of Capricorn-being.

    You've done us Capricorns proud, Dia AND given us a wonderful artistic representation. Superb work.

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    1. Thank you, BG! I'm not sure what possessed me... unless it was the spirit of a Sea Goat! :-)

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