Moon And Memory


I have been trying to work on my relationship with The Moon.

For much of my life, I’ve passed oblivious of her phases. With ceilings and cuboid rooms robbing me of my divine connection with the sky, on reflection, I don’t seem to be able to conjure up a single adolescent memory of her. If the Moon existed for me as a child, it was as a cartoonesque caricature – a crooked-chinned crescent occasionally anthropomorphised on animations. It feels almost like sacrilege to admit this – that the very mother of my being should have gone unnoticed for so long.

Yet, she was still present in the macabre fertility of my imagination; in my childhood fear of witches; the horror of the spinning dreamcatcher outside my bedroom, which, far from being a reassuring apotropaic talisman, was more of a web in which my morbid imaginings could become entangled. If Hecate was working her magic, it was here she kept me ensorcelled.

In my teenage years, that is where the nightmare of The Moon really began to creep in; The Goddess host of camping parties, ruling over insomnia, madcap thoughts, of music that transcends time and space, echoing on into the night. She makes the midnight leaves rustle in summer; enlarges the secret caverns within your skull. But, even then, she still only existed as a thing on mystic peripheries; a secret director of my fate, enwrapped in seeded memories, tender, nascent.


One of my most potent and intimate memories of her is of an invasion. At 21, I was living in the top-floor room in a three-storey house in Leominster. The room was blessed with a slanting sky-light. It must’ve been facing South, because, whenever the Moon was full, at her zenith, she would creepingly stare directly through that window, as though it had been built for that very purpose; the walls illuminated by her opalescent light.


Had you been naked in there with me, you would have seen your flesh rendered divine – a sparkling shadow of marble or howlite – a moonstone, secreted in skin, dribbled out into pearls, uterine, life-giving, dreamy, terrifying as it was beautiful; a thing that crawls into your bones, deliquescing sanity into delicious madness.

Not only madness, but mischief. When I moved in with a girlfriend in Newport, a student house filled with eccentric artists, budding photographers, and at least one repentant east-end gangster, I quickly realized the women had synchronized their periods to align with the full Moon, and, when I saw the great goddess waxing, I enjoyed teasing them with a knowing wink. They did not mind. I’ve always been both effeminate and androgynous. I exist very naturally within a sisterhood.

But, over-time, this madness turned malign. Instead of revering her, I came to fear the Moon. I noticed how crises seemed to naturally cluster around her. If she’s a midwife, then she was also Lilith, Mother of Abortions – mystic mistress of plans derailed, of all that goes awry.

On one occasion, I had planned to make a joy-ride on an untenanted boat. I was trying to make a film – an abstruse, psychological horror about a voyeuristic film-maker who finds himself pursued by the camera-wielding denizens of a nocturnal otherworld – and had conceived a scene in which the protagonist takes a dreamy boat-ride down The Wye.

I walked along the Wye regularly, and for months had been aware of a boat tethered near a weir, that I had yet to see anyone use. Confidently assuming it was abandoned, and could easily be commandeered harmlessly for a few hours, I excitedly put together a ‘cast’ to join me, even picking up an oar en route.

But alas! For the first and only time, as we approached that section of the river, on the evening of a full moon, we found a fisherman untethering the boat, looking with great hostility on such an obvious band of maurauders as ourselves. We left in a state of immense disappointment, our quixotic hearts bleeding. The film was never made, left to fend for itself on whatever plane absurd ideas go to die.

The very next day, the debut gig of a band I was to join was cancelled, when the drummer decided to quit at the last minute several hours beforehand. The only benefit of this was that, as the dispute turned into a fistfight, I got to see my rhythm guitarist deploy his incredibly balletic martial arts moves. To this day, I still consider the swiftness and grace with which he was able to disarm his opponent a masterclass of elegance.

On another occasion, a year later, the full Moon coincided with a trip to London. I had developed acute asthma only the month before, and found the journey extremely nerve-wracking. My partner at the time – (a queer sort of a fish, but good-hearted in her own prickly way) – had decided to donate her eggs to an NHS fertility program, for which she was prepped for about a month with home-administered, hormone-injections.

I wanted to be strong for her. But, the whole time, I was in a vulnerable state, adapting ineptly to my new condition; constantly afraid of having an asthma attack, of feeling my airwaves constrict within me, seemingly cutting me off from the rest of my body. Crowds make me panicky at the best of the times; the endemic pollution didn’t help either. I was in an extremely sensitive state, and remember being moved to tears by the sight of a homeless woman weeping outside of a fast food eatery, while its overweight frequenters walked pasted, oblivious, indifferent.

The next day, the operation went quickly. I remember the horror of seeing my partner wheeled back in afterwards, still knocked-out from the anaesthetic, oxygen mask on, heart-rate fluctuating wildly on her echocardiogram in post-operative distress.
Some people find the sound of heartbeats soothing. I do not. Anything that reminds me of my heartbeat makes me nervous – that ticking timebomb in my chest that will one day detonate, blasting me out of this reality.

We were rushed out of the hospital in undignified haste, and, due to some contractual oversight, my partner was given only a small fraction of the money we were promised – barely enough to cover our travel expenses.

Our journey back from King’s Cross was ill-omened from the start. Compared to the reasonably comfortable journey we’d had on the way down, the train was clogged with bodies. We were unable to find the seats reserved for us, or, indeed, any seats all. My partner became very angry and panicky, convinced she was having a post-surgical haemorrhage; for which she blamed me for my inability to assert myself in this scenario, bronchi spasming in my chest.

By the time we got back to Newport, we had a blazing row in the darkened station, in which I felt like I’d lost my mind. And I still remember the full Moon beating down on us, occulting serenity, her pearly embers inflaming everything with feverish unreason.


Events like this made me superstitious. Instead of being a time of mystery, maternity, and magic, I came to see the Full Moon as a time of danger – a time of the month to write-off the calendar – in which disasters, emergencies, catastrophes, were to be anticipated as a matter of course. Very often, I would deliberately avoid travelling or making significant plans around this time. And, when it could not be helped, I would contemplate her approaching fullness with dread.

You can easily see how, given such apprehensions, legends have built-up of this time as being one of transformation; where god-fearing men turn into werewolves; where the bestial, mad side of us we usually keep repressed, buttoned-down, well-hidden, comes screaming out into the light of night.

People try and hide their secrets in the dark. But The Full Moon lets us know nothing stays secret forever.

The full Moon shines just as brightly as noon, but in a completely different way. Hers is not the meridian of sunshine, where even the most northerly of places can come to seem as halcyon, as tropical, as an equatorial zone. Instead, she initiates mad carnivals of the unconscious; reminds us we are not just men, but animalistic dreams of the shamanic imperative.

If this is the time when tides fluctuate, when uterine linings slough-off to start anew, it is also a great purge of the mind – when the dark underbelly gives birth – when our brains and hearts vomit out all the perverse, overwrought feelings and thoughts, we usually reserve for nightmares.

As my knowledge of astrology deepened, I realized I was to blame for the souring of my connection with The Moon – that I had not been nurturing my half of the relationship. If we have a bad connection with the Moon, it’s because we have a bad connection with ourselves; because we deny the divine right of the unconscious mind to express itself. Because we are over-civilized depressives, abjuring the embrace of our own chthonic wildness.

Instead of misperceiving her as a malevolent demon, I reminded myself she is the First Mother, the object of countless aeons of sacrifice and worship – in many countries she far outweighed the Sun God in both reverence and splendour – The White Goddess of whom Robert Graves speaks.

Whatever I revere in either my imagination or my dreams, I owe to her. Without her, there would be no moods, emotions, fantasies, illusions; no surrealism, silliness, no sensuality, or divine nonsense – indeed, no colour or expression. Only the aching Apollonian tedium of what is obviously apparent.

I realized the times in which I had most benefited from these phases, were when, instead of resisting the Moon’s invitation to madness, I had gratefully yielded, accepted, ecstatically welcomed the temporary suspension of sanity.

When my notepads had exploded in a frenzy of prophetic nonsense; when, instead of hiding indoors to diminish her influence, I ran out, frothing and raving, into the meadows of the night, hearing the bestial roar of the wild, phantom animals lurking in every hedgerow, faery splinters emanating from grass stalks, the smell of moon-blossoms, spinning in corybantic circles until the whole world is attacked by vertigo, leaping simply for the joy of leaping, screaming simply for the joy of screaming, allowing my heartbeat to ramp up to tachycardia, then howling all the fear away.

If The Sun embodies what we can see, feel, and perceive, then The Moon is the mystery of everything we can’t. She is what we feel strongly, overwhelmingly, yet can neither fully articulate or grasp.

The Ultimate Muse, keeping us searching for a mysterious transcendent perfection we know can never master. If the sun empowers us with the majesty of egoistic accomplishments, then Selene teaches us surrender to time-cycles, cosmic forces, far greater than ourselves. She does not mature us, but turns us back into children, and that is the greatest maturity of all.

One cannot know the unconscious without knowing fear.

And fear is the beauty of The Moon.

Astro-Diary: Chiron in Aries 2019 (And Past Transits)


Chiron 1

Hello! And welcome to my very first Astro-Report. I am writing this article to commemorate the occurrence of a very significant transit: the entrance of the minor planet Chiron into the zodiacal house of Aries. As Chiron has been in Pisces since February 2011, its departure heralds the ending of a nine-year cycle, and the beginning of a new aeon of fire that will see us through to 2027.

So, what can we expect from this new seismic shift in the stars? Let’s first look at the character and attributes of Chiron, and the effects of his past transits, to have a better impression of what is to come.
Who Is Chiron?

In ancient Grecian myth, Chiron was known as ‘The wisest and justest of all the centaurs.’ While most centaurs were considered savage barbarians, Chiron was noted for his civility and wisdom. As the semi-divine son of Kronos and Philyra, he was the teacher of many great heroes – (Achilles, Jason, Heracles and Perseus, to name a few) – renowned for his polymathic knowledge of music, healing, herbology, astrology, archery, and prophecy. A renaissance centaur if ever there was one!

In many ways, Chiron was far superior to his human counterparts and pupils. He represents the perfect synthesis of human and animal; of using your baser instincts and urges as the foundation for transcendent greatness. He is the recognition that wildness and civility – the Apollonian and Dionysian – do not have to be kept separate, but can be resolved into a perfectly harmonious whole. That we need both of these qualities, not only to be fully human, but to go beyond our humanity, into far stranger realms. Like most therianthropes, Chiron is a shaman, and the lessons he has to give have a distinctly shamanic flavour: that pain and suffering are often the quickest portals to power and wisdom.

It’s also worth noting that, as a physical celestial body, Chiron is a hybrid. Not quite horse, no quite man – not quite planet, nor quite comet, but both. He brings the unexpected together for the bizarrest of fusions. As In myth, so in reality.


Chiron in Astrology

So, if Chiron is all about going beyond, then his zodiacal placement often shows where, or in what way, you are likely to go to extremes; the conventions you flout; the fringes you explore. He is the rebel, the maverick, the pioneer. Energetically, he is redolent of Uranus and Sagittarius. He moves both quickly and deeply. He is a mover and a shaker, and you can expect everything to be radically uprooted when this powerful centaur is on the make.
Significantly, as the most heroic of teachers – (heroes are, by definition, characters who suffer and confront magnificent obstacles to achieve their greatness) – he shows us the areas of life in which our learning and activity will be fast-tracked. He plunges us into wild new adventures; radical new perceptions – leads us into the exciting unknown – steels us to face challenges and trials that at any other time we would not sanely consider, imbuing us with the fiery desire to achieve heroism and greatness in the highlighted field. He makes us willing to encounter suffering; to risk pain and loss for the realization of greatness.
These lessons will often be quick, exciting, shocking and painful. Like an archer manipulating his bow, we will be stretched into shapes and situations we never thought it would be possible to assume. Boundaries will be crossed. What was peripheral and esoteric soon becomes normal and conventional. If we are first shocked at the sight of a centaur as a cryptozoological marvel, by the time Chiron is done with us, seeing a big foot or lake monster cross the road won’t even make us wince.


Chiron is Pisces and Aquarius

To know where we’re going, it helps to reflect on where we’ve been. Chiron’s move into Pisces – (first as a false start in April 2010, then fully in February 2011) – saw a big shift away from Aquarian eccentricity and scientific rationalism, to the twin-fishes’ more mystical and emotionally boundless waters. Allow me to speak from my own life.

Chiron’s transit of Aquarius occupied most of my teen years. Almost overnight – (it now seems in retrospect) – I went from being a well-behaved, sensible, obedient child, to being a parti-coloured wildling. I became a cross-dresser; grew my hair androgynously long; listened to technically demanding prog rock; delighted in exhibiting flamboyantly unconventional behaviour; developed an intense disdain and distrust for all authority figures, while falling in love with maverick, Aquarian writers like James Joyce and William S. Burroughs. I was only interested in pushing intellectual, political, and conventional pursuits to their absolute limits. Having been raised a Christian, I became a staunch atheist and scientific materialist.


All this changed for me when Chiron entered Pisces. While its Aquarian transit taught me many things – not least the importance of defiance – with time, what had once been shocking and new was now stale and dogmatic. Aquarius had hardened me, making me selfish, elitist, unempathic, and excessively left-brained.

Pisces came along and changed all this. All my hard and fast classifications were gradually overwhelmed and broken-down, drenched under a tidal wave of emotionality – emotions I had once ignorantly dismissed as ‘irrational’ and unworthy of attention. My scientific and left-brained rigidity was undermined by a sudden up-surging of sensitivity and paranoia – an awareness of the paranormal, occult, and unexplained – of all that we try to dismiss, that continues to lurk deeply and inexplicably in our minds.

Having been vehemently opposed to the reality of such things, my life became dominated by the intense study and practice of spirituality, religion, meditation, and yoga. Over the following seven years, I cultivated my intuition; learned to enter trance state and generate visions at will; developed an awareness of some of my past lives and greater purpose within the grand scheme of the cosmos, whilst also fast-tracking my study of astrology, myth, dream analysis, and other mystical pursuits.

On the flip-side, I also suffered the consequences of these extremes: major depressions; loss of relationships and close friendships in the face of changing perceptions; severe nervous breakdowns and panic attacks; isolation, loneliness, and suicidal ideation.
As this cycle came to a close, I began to realize that spirituality was not the answer to everything I had initially taken it to be – anymore than science, technology and medicine had been previously. It had to be understood within a greater framework of all the other dimensions of life. That’s why there are twelve zodiacal houses – not just one! No single element or approach is right. We need integrate them all.


Chiron and The Uranian Underworld


I hope that, by illustrating Chiron’s influence over my own life and progress, you are beginning to get an appreciation of how this challenging centaur works. He is Uranian in the sense that he only introduces us to the new by killing the old. To make us into radical novitiates and converts, he first uproots all that has become conditioned and habitual. Only by challenging these things is he able to make massive shifts in our perception. This is often painful, and demands a psychological death of some sorts – cognitive dissonance in the extreme! But that is simply Chiron’s modus operandi. Education is as much about unlearning as it is about learning.

The Wounded Healer

This is where the famous reputation of Chiron as ‘wounded healer’ comes in. Chiron was incurably wounded after being shot by a poison arrow. In spite of his prodigious knowledge of herbology, this great healer could not heal himself. He requested the gods revoke his immortality so he would not have to spend the rest of his life in unceasing pain.



In its transits, this myth shows not only how we must face our mortality, but the mortality of different version of our self; the mortality of our philosophies, beliefs, and ideologies. It is the letting-go, transformation aspect of the centaur; the part of us that must be wounded to let divinity in. Our scars are our history. Chiron teaches us to embrace these scars, and accept them as part of an ever-changing identity. Our Piscean extremes have to be integrated and put to rest to fully let the newness of Aries in.

Chiron in Aries

Aries is the spoiled, but brilliantly lovable child of the Zodiac. As The First House, it represents the self, the ego, our self-image, our public persona and relationship with our body and personal health. It is our desires at their most direct ‘I want it and I want it now’ level. Chiron shifting into Aries will see all of these qualities and issues becoming of paramount importance.


One of the most important Ariens of the last century was the comparative mythologist, Joseph Campbell, whose ultimate dictum was ‘Follow your bliss.’ The next eight years will be about following your bliss – about putting your own fulfilment and quest for meaning above your responsibilities and commitments to others, or finding a harmonious way of reconciling the two. Tradition, duty, and self-sacrifice are likely to go out the window. The only duty will be authenticity – of being one’s full self, utterly and truly.

The buzzwords to look out for are: independence, optimism, impetuosity, adventure, fun, authenticity, positivity, risk-taking, leaps-of-faith, energy, activity, youthfulness, fearlessness, confidence, a go-get ’em attitude etc.

On the other side of the spectrum, the risk factors are: egotism, selfishness, conflict, lack of empathy, refusal to see another’s point of view, impulsiveness, not thinking things through, being non-committal, flakiness, conflict, argumentation, self-gratification, arrogance, shameless self-promotion, people-pleasing, restlessness, naivety, making big demands of others without accepting demands on yourself, inequality of expectation, intolerance etc.
Trends of Chiron in Aries

If you want an idea of what’s to come over the next 8 years, you need only look to the summer of 2018. Between mid-April and mid-September of last year, Chiron entered Aries, before a retrograde cycle pulled it back into Pisces. Think of that period as being a taster session, as what occurred during that time will be expanded upon heavily over the next few years.

My own predictions are this; that we will see a massive rise in polyamory, transsexuality, alternate gender identities – (non-binary, genderfluid, etc.) – and LGBT culture. Issues relating to feminism and gender politics will continue to be agitated. Anti-shaming culture and neo-liberalism will continue to thrive. A sense of Entitlement as a birth-right – (and civil rights activism in general) will be on the rise.

As self-advancement becomes a virtue, the dynamics of relationships will change. People will select partners as a means of achieving personal-freedom and excitement, rejecting traditional notions of compromise and duty. Careers will be chosen over love; freedom over family. Whirlwind romances and flings will take precedence over long-term relationships and saturnine commitment. People will seek out alternative relationship dynamics, hence the advancement of non-monogamy. It will be a good time to become self-employed, start your own business, develop solo projects, etc. However, if you are too impetuous, and totally refuse to co-operate with others, these things may fall through as quickly as they were begun.

Expect to see – (initially, at least) – many break-ups, divorces, and changes of relationship-status as people let go of connections that have becomes stale or out-moded. It will be a good-time for dating and meeting new people; but forming long-term connections may be more difficult (unless very flexible and open).

Personality cults, personal fitness, and self-helps gurus – (particularly those that promise personal gratification/realization) – will flourish. Extravagances in fashion and declarations of identity. A noteworthy time for cinema, branding, comics, photography, and painting/portraiture. At its worst, the superficial may eclipse the deep; and, in contrast to the aggrandisement of social justice warriors, there may be an opposing trend towards dictatorships and racially exclusive nationalism. A lot of excitement – but a lot of naivety too!
That’s all for now! Feel free to message me any questions or queries to

Poem: Sagittarian Moon


It feels rather invasive

When you wake up

In the middle of the night

And find the moon climbing in

Through your window

With Saturn and Mars

Not far behind

Haven’t those beautiful bastards

Got anything better to do

Than to spy on my sleeping form?

The security guards of the sky

With their celestial CCTV

Slink through the doorjambs

As I dream of making

The crucial mistake

Of pissing where I eat

Oh, Sagittarian moon!

Stop pressing your face against the glass

Just jump into bed

And keep me company

So I don’t have to feel

So alone


Poem: Bathing in the Moon


The Moon is my teacher
But where is she in the human body?
In every cell, a crystal,
A tiny micro-filament
Attuned to her lunar flux
You do not need a shuttle to go to her;
You can make her come to you
All her history, she will tell you
You just have to sit down, listen
And close your eyes.

Poem: Venus in Retrograde

CGI IMAGE: MERCURY Magnetoshere. The magnetic field of Mercury is too weak to protect it from the full force of the sun. It has a magnetic field, which means that part of its core is molten. The Solar Wind buffets MercuryÕs thin atmosphere.  In the process, it puts on a spectacular light show. Sodium atoms give off the yellow light. (Photo Credit: ©  Hive Studios)

Disillusioned and dismayed

Venus in Retrograde

I am lacking in clarity

But I can see clearly enough

To see that nothing is clear

The Sun and Moon interchange

Like thugs getting upset

Over some lost parlor game

With everything as it is

How can I escape

This perpetual stalemate?

But the House Martins are still happy

So why shouldn’t I be?

Accepting Obstacles: The Serendipity of Delay


Mercury has been in retrograde for at least a week now, and Saturn has been sticking his disruptive fingers into all of my pies. Over the last two weeks, I been beset by constant delays, aberrations, changes of plan, cancellations, obstructions, and complications; and, I’ve no doubt, many of you reading this have been too.

But the serendipity of obstruction and misfortune should not be overlooked. It is very easy to meet frustrations by becoming frustrated; very easy to meet complications by allowing our thought patterns to become complex. What these trying times really demand are patience, fortitude, clarity, acceptance, and farsightedness. If you are able to cling to these five virtues, no matter what, then no disruption will be able to unbalance your stability, no delay will be able to obstruct the free-flow of your spirit.

Delays and obstructions only upset us because we get too attached to our self-created notions of how the future should be. We tend to order our idealized futures very precisely, like a Japanese Zen Rock Garden, with every event, occurrence, and happenstance in its perfect place. So, if something happens that we have not planned, we find it difficult to compute. Our minds struggle to comprehend it, because, logically, it goes against the structuring of our beautiful, perfect plans.

But nature is not structured. Or, at least, not structured in the way we think of structure. Nature moves at its own pace and by its own set of immutable laws. It understands the serendipity of destruction and delay; it knows that every event and occurrence has its part to play in the never-less unfolding of the cosmos.

If a tree grew to its full height in a day, it would likely be lacking in complete strength and stolidity, and tumble down as quickly as it arose.

Plans function in the same way. Very often, we are impatient, and as soon as we visualize a new plan or aim for ourselves, we want it to come into effect immediately. But just how think how dangerous it would be if our intentions worked that quickly!

Imagine you want to be a rock-star. How would you cope with the transition from being an unknown amateur playing empty pubs to performing for millions overnight, and being hounded everywhere you go? Or say it’s your ambition to be great businessman and entrepreneur running a global conglomerate. How you would deal with from being self-employed on a small basis, to suddenly being responsible for thousands of employees, and billions of dollars worth of investments and business transactions? Very likely you would be overwhelmed in a moment, and feel like shitting your pants. Dreams that haven’t been properly prepared for can often seem like nightmares. We need delays and slow developments sometimes so that we can mentally develop the patience, fortitude, and responsibility necessary to bring these long terms goals into fruition. It also gives us time to consider if we truly want the thing we believe we are striving for.

One good example is in a story from the Hare Krishna cannon, told to me by a monk friend of mine.

There was once a young prince who was the scion of a prestigious ruler. But his talents went largely unnoticed by his father, who much rather fancied his brother to be his kingly heir. Upset at being thwarted so, the prince renounced courtly life, and determined that he would one day become the ruler of his kingdom, and that it would be far greater than his brother’s or father’s ever was.

But first, he realized, if he was to be an effective ruler, in control of many people, then he would have to learn how to control his own mind.

So, he gave up his possessions, and disappeared into the forest to spend years meditating and practicing austerities. Eventually, his hardship and effort paid off, and he became enlightened. Krishna was so moved by his devotion, that he appeared to him personally, congratulated him, and gave him a kingdom of his own, even more glorious than that of his father’s.

But the young prince was enlightened now. He had no interest in becoming a ruler. He knew the external world was but an illusion and a fist full of dust. Why would he presume to have the wisdom and power to rule the lives of others?

But Krishna insisted, and he became his own king, imparting the lesson that: only once we have disciplined ourselves, and overcome all selfish ambitions and desires, are we truly in a fit state to live out our dreams.

So do not despair at delay. Accept it, and let it be the weight you lift to improve your strength and fortitude. If you ride it properly, things may turn out far more joyously than your mediocre and silly plans ever could have allowed.

I leave you with these words of Lao Tzu:

The way forward seems to retreat

The level road seems rough

The bright road seems dark

The Tao of Taming Emotions


I felt a resurgence of emotionality and sensitivity this morning now that Venus is in Cancer, which is something of an unavoidable necessity, after the detached, hyper-creativity of being in that wild, protean horse, Gemini. But while it is important to be aware of our emotions, we must recognize that emotions are but a single aspect of the dynamic interplay of the universe, and treat and use them accordingly. Too often people are heavily controlled and influenced by emotions which we really should not be seeking to give validity or physical expression to. As the Taoist Alchemists warn us, ‘we must not take the servant for the master, or a thief for our son – the consequences would be dire’. Remember who is the ruler in this game. You are the one having the emotions – not being had by the emotions.

Still, there is something of a tendency to worship emotions in The West. We go to the cinema or the theatre, and admire the actors who are most able to whip themselves into a frenzy of passion, love, or anger. But even Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, questioned whether this approach to artistic forms is really healthy for us. These emotionally unstable characters seldom appealed to me. It was the stolid men and women, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, who were always able to keep their cool, even in the wildest of scenarios, that captured my imagination. In this attraction, I can see some of the elements that first led me to Taoism: the emphasis on perseverance, equanimity, and staying centred, no matter which side of the wheel of fortune you happen to be. A true Taoist rises above emotions, circumstances, fortune, misfortune, and all transient things. He is only concerned with the immortal, and the eternal, the changeless and ever-creating but uncreated Tao. He sees emotions for what they are, fleeting clouds across an eternal sky – things to be aware of, not to be controlled by.

Overcoming emotions does not mean becoming austere, insensitive, uncaring, and dull. It means complete freedom. No more being seized by anger. No more being suffocated by sorrow. No more danger from being driven by volatile, selfish desires, or being restricted by groundless fear. Complete freedom, complete liberation. We think of happiness and romantic love as the highest states to which one can aspire. But there is something beyond happiness, something beyond romance.

Some have called this love, bliss, nirvana, enlightenment, God, the transcendent, peace, Heaven, the eternal. But words simply are not fit to describe it. When one attains this state through regular meditation, purification, and alchemical work, you realize that this bliss is liberating, because it is not dependent on anything. You feel happy because you are happiness. You feel loving because you are love. It does not arise because something good happened to you, or disappear because something bad happened to you. It transcends such mediocre considerations.

Even when we lose touch with it, there is no fear. Even when we feel we have lost track of The Way, we know it is always there. We know the sun hasn’t died when the night-time appears, or that the sky hasn’t been destroyed just because we are now under a roof. It is the same with the Tao. It is ever-present, always there, no mattered how obscured the lens of our organism might become.

As Liu-i-Ming often advised “Use the temporal to touch the primordial; use the transient to touch the eternal.” Use your emotions as prima materia that can be governed and transformed into something else. Do not be guided by your emotions; rather, guide your emotions to where you want to go. These are the true metals and chemicals of the alchemist, the base elements that he seeks to refine and purify. Harmonize them, and use them wisely, and you will truly be able to achieve what Chuang Tzu refers to as, ‘going beyond the gods’.

Surviving Saturn

Of all the gods in the astrological pantheon, Saturn is probably the least lovable. Whether he comes in the guise of the child-devouring Cronus, or the vicious, martial Kali with her necklace of severed heads, it is often very difficult to find affection for this crotchety, old saturnine force that seems to be completely intent on adding as much difficulty to our lives as possible.

In astrology, Saturn is the planet of delay, of obstruction, old age, maturity, hard-work, toil, responsibility, and the all around oppressive heaviness that comes with the burden of being a creature bound by time. When Saturn is in an unfavourable aspect – as he is right now, currently in dual opposition to both Mars and Mercury, and in conjunction with the Moon – our lives suddenly become a lot harder and a lot more ponderous. No doubt many of you are feeling this effect. Whether you’re frustrated by delays, temporal sluggishness, an amalgamation of burdensome and often conflicting responsibilities, or a cruel, and seemingly insurmountable workload, its tonnage is probably finding a way to weigh you down.

I know it is with me! I recently took on a new writing job, and have to complete at least four articles on Buddhism and Meditation by the end of the day. I shouldn’t even be writing this right now – I should be working on the articles I’m actually getting paid for! But money has always been a negligible incentive to me, and I wanted to have a brief moment of fun sharing my thoughts with you, before I get to work.

In spite of all this, we must find a way of loving Saturn. Only through the onerous difficulties that he presents us with are we able to become stronger, more indomitable people. Delays teach us patience. Obstructions and obstacles teach us to be flexible and persistent. Responsibilities teach us to be pure and selflessness, putting other’s interests and needs before our own. And hard work forces us carry on, even when we feel tortured, exhausted, and wounded, never giving up, and eventually mastering perfect equanimity and resolution of mind. Saturn may be a hard task-master. But he does love us, and ultimately only wants us to possess the same invincible wisdom and strength that he possesses himself.

During times such as these, it is Lao Tzu’s inspiring quote “There is nothing that cannot be overcome, there is no limit,” that I find myself chanting as a mantra in near constant repetition. One can never hear this reminder too much. Think about what it really means. Reflect on it. Meditate on it. Witness the true limitless power that resides within you, and you will be able to engage with every day with all the courage and impassive bravery of a samurai entering into battle. Only through repeated hardships, do difficulties become easier and more bearable. Welcome these difficulties into your life as you would a beautiful lover. Peace of mind may be an easy companion to acquire when times are joyous and restful, but unless we practice maintaining that inner serenity, even in times of oppression, then all our training will be of little, practical purpose.

I leave you now with another of my favourite quote from the Tao Te Ching, which I hope will give you the same conviction of will and spirit that it so often has to me:

Forging ahead shows inner resolve

Hold your ground and you will last long

Die without perishing and your life will endure