Monday, 27 June 2016

What's next post-Brexit? Can the I Ching offers us some pearls of wisdom about what the future holds for Britain?

The I Ching or Book of Changes, is one of the oldest known forms of divination on the planet that is still practised today. It is especially interesting because its hexagrams were not only the first form of writing in China, but also because it was not considered both a science that explained the cycles of flux in nature, but was also simultaneously an exalted divinatory medium through which the humble seeker could ask for omens or advice from the spirits of fate, as well as maintain a relationship with the wise ancestors.

Within our family, the I Ching has come to be a source of guidance and wisdom - a high form of oracle - one that is consulted when in a moral or ethical dilemma, or for very important matters, where a wise and considered, but practical advice is required in order to make decisions.

I know I am not alone in saying that consulting it is rather like having your own personal Sensei or Mr Miyagi. It is a bit like having a kindly but firm Buddhist monk on your shoulder, guiding you, sometimes chiding you, but nearly always offering the most practical and startlingly incisive answers to your questions.

It was therefore to the I Ching that I turned for answers on Friday evening post Brexit results when., reeling from shock and numbness, I sought to make sense of what was happening. Although I have lived through many historic events in my lifetime, from the freeing of Nelson Mandela in 1990 to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, and even the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997,  Friday 24 June 2016 certainly counts as one of the most dramatic of days in my life when I found my foundations being rocked to their very core.

The hexagrams I got seemed to me so profoundly radical that I thought them worth sharing with the world.

Hexagram 23 - Splitting Apart

Even the name sounds appropriate, given the situation! Not only is the UK potentially about to split with the EU, but the UK itself may disintegrate if Scotland and Ireland decide to opt for independence because of their desire to stay within the European Union.

The Judgement: Splitting Apart. It does not further one to go anywhere.

If you read Confucian interpretations of this, the image of a house is often used in which the roof has split apart due to shaky foundations (perhaps because of an earthquake? This certainly felt - and was described by many - as just that - a seismic political event).  The Wilhelm translation describes this hexagram as being about the rising up of the dark powers of yin energy:

The dark lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light line by exerting a disintegrating influence on it. The inferior, dark forces overcome what is superior and strong, not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually, so that it finally collapses.

This metaphor gets even more interesting if we look at the image and changing lines in more detail.

The Image:
The mountain rests on the earth:
the image of splitting apart.
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.

Wilhelm then describes a mountain/structure (like a government) resting on the foundations of the earth and remarks that: 'Its position is strong only when it rises out of the earth broad and great, not proud and steep. So likewise those who rule rest on the broad foundations of the people.' The suggestion here is that Cameron and his Tory government will only stay in power as long as they are in touch with the people and have not become too elitist (or arrogant) to listen to the concerns of the electorate.

Many have taken the outcome of this vote to be a sort of rebellion, a cry for help from those people who have been left behind by automation and globalisation, who feel neglected by government and who therefore make easy pickings for rabble rousers offering simple solutions to what are essentially quite complicated issues.

But the oracle goes further, suggesting that the people also need to keep their end of the bargain:

They too should be generous and benevolent, like the earth that carries all. Then they will make their position as a secure as a mountain is in its tranquillity.

In other words, support your elected leader and go about things constructively - don't be like an earthquake and open up the ground beneath everyone's feet so that the entire structure disintegrates.

Of further interest is the time period given for this - October-November - which is when the Tory party conference is and fits with the three month timetable to elect a new party leader (and Prime Minister) outlined by Cameron in his resignation/concession speech.

The changing lines provide some insights into the development of the situation:

Six at the beginning:
The leg of the bed is split
Those who persevere are destroyed.

The description of this changing line seems rather appropriate, given all the political plotting that seems to be going on post-Brexit:

Inferior people are on the rise  and stealthily begin their destructive burrowing from below in order to undermine the place where the superior man rests. Those followers of the ruler who remain loyal are destroyed by slander and intrigue. The situation bodes disaster, yet there is nothing to do but wait.

Well, I can certainly think of a few inferior and duplicitous politicians (not to mention party unelected spokesman) whose reckless, self-serving and frankly, dangerous, actions have managed to unseat the ruler - David Cameron - and possibly even the entire British government - from power. No doubt, as the days go on and people begin to take sides in the Tory leadership contest, we will hear more mudslinging through the media aimed at various ministers and David Cameron. Interestingly, the contagion also seems to have spread to the Labour Party - we can definitely see various people vying for position and attempting to climb the greasy pole of political ambition.

However, what about the country, in the meantime? Does that just slide off the edge of the cliff, into the abyss? Or is there some hope of salvation?

Well, here the I Ching provides us with a ray of hope in the form of the second changing line:

Six in the 5th line:
A shoal of fishes. Favour comes through the court ladies.
Everything acts to further.  

Wilhelm now makes a very pivotal point:
Here, in immediate proximity to the strong, light-giving principle (yang) at the top, the nature of the dark force undergoes a change. It no longer opposes the strong principle by means of intrigues but instead, submits to its guidance. Indeed, as the head of the other weak lines (so, the chief opponent or troublemaker - is this Boris?) it leads all of these to the strong line, just as a princess leads her maids- in-waiting like a shoal of fishes to her husband and thus gains his favour.

Does this suggest that Cameron's position may yet be salvaged through an intervention by either one of his female subordinates or indeed, his wife, Samantha? It seems to me that Boris may well be coming to realise the enormity of what he has done and what is at stake for the country. he certainly seemed very sheepish when he gave his post-Brexit vote speech  on Friday, in which he looked rather shell-shocked and, indeed perhaps even fairly sheepish, about having won and bringing down his respected leader.

We know that he has waivered on Europe in the past (with one MP perhaps unkindly suggesting that he has had more positions on Europe than the Kama Sutra). Could he yet have a change of heart, realise the precariousness of his position, and indeed, make a deal with Cameron behind closed doors, brokered by his wife or someone like Theresa May? Or is he and his fellow Brexit errs forever tainted by the stain of lies, deceit and less than honourable intentions?

And could this line also be referring to the electorate? Some people are already expressing voter's remorse now that it is emerging that they have been lied to by the 'Leave' campaign. Could a groundswell of support for a second referendum actually gain momentum and become a reality now? Submitting to the higher line does seem to suggest coming round to the Prime Minister's way of thinking, and not the other way around.

Indeed, as if to confirm this, I find it fascinating that David Cameron has Hexagram 23, line 6 active in his Human Design chart in the unconscious North Node, which in astrological terms, sits at 23-24 degrees of Taurus. In his natal chart, this point sits opposite his natal Neptune in the 8th house of joint agreements and alliances. Furthermore, it is interesting that transiting Jupiter in Virgo, which has just come off of a very dramatic trine to Pluto in Capricorn (= big changes to institutions, dramatic reforms of the establishment) is now heading for a trine with this point. So, could we see these developments occurring in keeping with this timing? ie. could this agreement be struck when Jupiter reaches this degree, which is mid-August 2016? There is no doubt that Cameron is facing a personal crisis - like me, his Sun has been under siege from a square by Pluto - which does explain the considerable personal pressure he has been under since December 2015 and which he will continue to feel until mid August 2016. This transit  seems to call on a personal transformation in the way we respond to major crises, especially those triggered by outer events, so in many ways, this whole experience does seem to be a test of some kind for David Cameron - one that forces him to let go of ego and submit to higher principles. Indeed, some have criticised him for becoming too arrogant and out of touch with his electorate - hubris which may have led to his current downfall. (remember the steep mountain image from the beginning?) So some form of adjustment was clearly needed, which the poll result may well have indirectly yielded.

And yet, at the same time, transiting Jupiter has been heading for a conjunction with his natal Pluto in Virgo (which is also conjunct his natal Uranus) which suggests that, from bad can come good - there is the potential to rise like the phoenix from the ashes of this personal tragedy and become not only  a better man, but also a force for good in the world. We will see these themes echoed in the next hexagram, which hints at servant leadership and a need to rid oneself of character flaws in order to become what the I Ching terms 'central and correct' - that is, a better person and a role model.

Of course, much depends on whether he chooses to gamble again - usually he is lucky because of his natal Moon-Jupiter conjunction in the 10th house, which sextiles his Ascendant, which is why he has become known as the 'lucky politician' but I think his luck temporarily ran out as a result of Pluto. Uranus rules his 5th house of gambling, so it could well be that he decides to opt for another roll of the dice. Jupiter's upcoming positive transits to the North Node and Neptune do suggest that Fate may yet have plans for him and that he hasn't quite finished playing his hand. So let's see. The next hexagram certainly hints at this possibility...

Hexagram 42 - Increase

As a result of the changing lines, this Hexagram then metamorphoses into - Hexagram 42 - Increase. Now here is where things REALLY get interesting.

The Judgement:
Increase. It furthers one to undertake something.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

Although this sounds as though it will ultimately produce a positive outcome, I do wonder whether this will be after a period of struggle? In one of the commentaries about this hexagram, it is suggested that '...continuous decrease finally leads to a change into its opposite, Increase' as is mirrored in nature by 'the waxing and waning of the moon and in all of the regularly recurring processes of nature.' Does this suggest that the UK needs to sink to an all time low before it is ready to ascend again? Possibly, although I do not like the sound of that, especially from the perspective of the UK economy, I have to say! With the Pound (and share prices) already in freefall, I don't fancy another recession so soon after 2007/8; nor, I am sure, does anybody else who has to earn a crust on this little isle.

However, there is another way of looking at this. It can also be seen as the leader making personal sacrifices that benefit the whole. In I Ching terms, this is because the hexagram for 'Increase' is formed from the previous one as a result of the top line dropping to the bottom of the hexagram.
Thus, Wilhelm writes:
A sacrifice of the higher element that produces an increase of the lower is called an out-and-out increase: in indicates the spirit that alone has the power to help the world.

This spirit, of course, is embodied in the qualities of humility and service and in the concept of servant leadership, which is a fundamental idea central to the Confucian interpretation of the I Ching. Indeed, in the first paragraph concerning this hexagram, Wilhelm writes:

To rule truly is to serve.

We have all recently been reminded of this concept by the tragic death of Jo Cox, in the aftermath of which David Cameron himself spoke movingly about how politics should be about public service. Many MPs saw her death as a wake-up call to politicians to stop putting spin and ego before public service - something that many feel was lost on both camps during the EU Referendum campaign - and may well have led to the divisiveness we see now in the aftermath of the vote.

It does therefore seem to imply that Cameron needs to pull himself together, put aside his ego and feelings of betrayal and defeat and be prepared to roll up his sleeves and do what he can to redeem Britain's economic situation and position in the world for all concerned, even if just as a Tory backbencher and MP for Witney. In doing so, he may find that this new humble approach wins him favour once again with the people.

It is therefore interesting that Cameron's natal Neptune, a planet firmly associated with both sacrifice and philanthropy, happens to rule his 6th house of work. Traditionally, this house is also the house of servants, so this all seems to have a poetic ring to it.

According to Wilhelm:
Sacrifice on the part of those above for the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude that is extremely valuable for the flowering of the common wealth. When people are this devoted to their leaders, undertakings are possible, and even difficult and dangerous enterprises will succeed.

Such enterprises are implied in the action of 'crossing the great waters' mentioned in the Judgement - could this include getting a new deal for Britain from the EU? We'll have to wait and see. It certainly does seem to suggest that his career in politics is far from over.

However, there is a warning about seizing the moment:
The time of increase does not endure, therefore it must be utilised while it lasts.  

Now, here we have two possible indicators of time. The involves transiting Jupiter, which is due to sextile Cameron's natal Neptune between mid-late July 2016 - a transit that only occurs a few times every 12 years.

Alternatively, it is also worth noting that Increase is generally associated with the abundance of late Spring (so around May) when everything is growing like the clappers. This is usually when the UK tends to hold elections of all kinds, so could this hint at a general election, as some politicos are suggesting might happen if the Labour party also self-destructs?

We'll have to wait and see. But for now, this divination is enough to reassure me that 'all's well that ends well.'

Friday, 29 January 2016

Intuition and Science - a Follow-up

"The heart as lion is truly king of beasts, a bestial King, and our inner beauty, our dignity, nobility, proportion, our portion of lordliness, comes, as lore of character has always assumed, from the animal of the heart."

- James Hillman

I came across this article in 'Psychology Today' about the the science of intuition  - yes, what a paradox - and thought I would share this quote with you by the scholar who wrote it because it sums up just how difficult it is to be taken seriously be academia or the establishment if you are not prepared to talk in terms of 'numbers and science':
I was aware, of course, that intuition had a bad reputation. It was seen, at best, as a woman's gift in a man's world. Intuition is denigrated by a Western culture obsessed by "facts" and science. it struck me that the only way intuition could be accepted was to subjugate it to the methods of science itself-an apparently absurd contradiction. I've since learned that like all the either/or arguments, such as nature vs. nurture, the fact is that neither really has primacy. Both interact. And can be made to reflect each other.[1]
As well as pointing out that intuition is probably synonymous with the survival instinct, he also makes a commentary on modern society and the inadvertent consequences of elevating science and logic to what some might call a religion:
In elevating rational-scientific thinking, and dismissing intuition, the Enlightenment confined its approval to a very narrow band of human intelligence - logical, deductive, proof-oriented mental operations. That intelligence has brought us the scientific revolution, high technology, and a great many material goods. But it does not take an intuitive genius (all geniuses are) to observe that the wanton application of this line of thinking now endangers human society and its terrestrial home. The earth is so terribly befouled and overpopulated that our very advances now threaten our very survival. By their very nature, the study and control of these titanic forces cannot be accomplished by exact science.[1]
I think, as a species, we realise this on some deep, dare I say it, intuitive level. Hence the rise in popularity of television series such as 'Jordskott' in which we are returned to the natural home of intuition - the animated world of myth where imagination, intuition and nature intersect. Because these things are intimately connected.

As Thomas Moore recently wrote:
The natural world is not made up of objects but of presences, profound metaphors, living signs telling us the secrets of life.
This is the world of the mundus imaginalis, so elegantly described by Henry Corbin, where the laws of physics do not apply and where things like astrology and divination become possible.

This is something which the sages of old totally understood, not because they were 'primitive' and didn't know better, but, perhaps, because they were wise and understood the way the world REALLY works.

In a talk delivered to the Jupiter Trust in 2008, Angela Voss puts it another way.

At the risk of a gross oversimplification, one could say that one of the ways the Aristotelian and Platonic methods of philosophising became differentiated in the Renaissance was through the opposition of human and divine modes of seeing and understanding the world. Human modes were characterised by rational, theoretical and analytical attempts to grasp the world of nature through the observation and deduction of sense-perception, whereas divine modes embodied a deep intuitive sense of transcendent principles governing and emanating throughout creation, apprehended only through the highest intellectual principle in the soul which recognised the images of its divine source.  The former entailed the separation of the observer from the object observed, the latter direct participation in it in order to know it.  The former took place in time, the latter in a timeless place beyond the working out of cause and effect.  Such contrasting modes lie behind the statement of Henry Corbin that “the Active Imagination is not a theory, it is an initiation to vision.[2]

Indeed, Henry Corbin, like many sages and initiates of old, realised that in order to achieve such vision, one had to change one's perception entirely of how the world works until, as Tom Cheetham puts it, the world turns “inside out” and reveals its hidden secrets.[3]

According to Voss, this "act of intellectual penetration...depends on a vital, dynamic connection between the soul of man and the soul of the world in a cosmos illuminated and animated with divine energy." This is the animated world of the poet, the shaman and the seer - the world of legend and myth - a completely alien planet to that of the scientist.

And so to return to intuition and why it is so often associated with instinct. In trying to explain the difference between intuition and knowledge in his text, aptly entitled, On the Mysteries, Iamblichus, the Syrian Neoplatonist, called intuition a “unitary connection with the gods that is natural and indivisible,” while " separated from its object by some degree of otherness.”[4]

Which may be why attempts to study, quantify or analyse it usually fail in some way, as Jung discovered to his cost.There is a reason why nobody worth their academic salt cares to advertise or admit to using or subscribing to Jungian ideas or theories in the world of psychology anymore - these days, it is all about CBT and other equally dry and soulless forms of therapy. And people wonder why so-called 'mental illness' is stigmatised instead of seeing it as a call to initiation and transformation  - as the shamans do. 


[1] D. Cappon, 'The Anatomy of Intuition' in Psychology Today, May 1993 -
[2] H. Corbin, Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi (Princeton, 1969, repr. Mythos, 1981), 93
[3] Tom Cheetham, The World Turned Inside Out: Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism (Woodstock, Conn.: Spring, 2003)
[4] Iamblichus, On the Mysteries, I.3, trans. E. Clarke, J. Dillon & J. Herschbell (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Studies, 2003), 13

Saturday, 19 July 2014

TNATC featured in Soul & Spirit Mag

Great news! The New Astrology of Towns & Cities is featured in 'The Bookshelf' of the August issue of Soul & Spirit Magazine.

Described as "unusual and inventive," it made the top right hand side of the page! Very gratifying after all that hard work.

Thanks S&S!

Friday, 16 May 2014

A tribute to Harold Wigglesworth

Today, the 16th of May 2014, would have been the 100th birthday of Harold Wigglesworth, whose book, the author of The Astrology of Towns & Cities, I recently had the privilege of updating for publication in 2013 - the 40th anniversary year of the original publication. I thought it would therefore be a fitting tribute to provide some background about the man for those who may not be familiar with him.

Harold was born on the 16th of May 1914 (birth time unknown, although we do know that Harold has Scorpio rising) in Waddington, West Yorkshire. The middle son of a village schoolmaster, he trained as a musician at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Northern School of Music) after leaving school, where his chosen instrument was the trumpet. Unfortunately, Harold’s musical career was cut short by the outbreak of war. According to his daughter, Sue Findlay:

Unfortunately, thanks to World War 2, he never had the opportunity to make music his profession and after being demobbed he retrained as an accountant, though he never lost his love of music and for several years played in the local brass band. He met his wife, Margaret, when she was evacuated from Coventry and billeted on my grandfather's house. My mother worked for Rover on the jet engine project. They married in 1947 and settled in Clitheroe. They had two children, Susan and Robert.

His interest in astrology was sparked during the late 1950s after borrowing a book about it from the local library. It was to become a subject that he would take very seriously, viewing it, as many did during this period, as a science. He subsequently joined the Astrological Association, contributing several articles to the AA Journal and was a regular correspondent of Martin Harvey, a British astrologer based in Brazil. 

Sue recalls:

Dad always claimed that astrology wasn't fortune telling and that he couldn't tell people with any degree of certainty what would happen in their future but that the natal position of planets gave a fair indication of what might occur in a person's life and how they would react to a situation. I have to say, speaking from a personal point of view, he was always spot on.

His enthusiasm for the subject led to the initial publication of the Astrology of Towns & Cities in 1973 after winning the newly created AA Astrological Prize in 1970.

Sue told me that:

He was delighted when his Astrology of Towns and Cities was published as he'd put a great deal of effort into the research necessary, all of which was done in the pre-computer age.
Sadly, Harold passed away of a heart attack in 1983, his wife, Margaret, following ten years later, in 2013. He is survived by his two children, Sue and Robert.

The timing of these publications, is therefore rather fitting: the print version coming out in September 2013; and the Kindle/eBook versions in March 2014.

Anyone wishing to order a copy may wish to take advantage of the flash sale at the Lulu Bookstore. Details below:

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