Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Great Wave - an Archetypal Image of Japan?


Throughout the Japanese quake ordeal, this image kept coming into my mind...

It is a woodcut by the Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai called "The Great Wave at Kanagawa." Some have interpreted this to be a depiction of a tsunami, although others beg to differ. Take this write-up from Wikipedia as an example:
"Behind the Great Wave at Kanagawa" (神奈川沖波裏), from 36 Views of Mount Fuji, Color woodcut, 10 x 15 in; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Although it is often used in tsunami literature, there is no reason to suspect that Hokusai intended it to be interpreted in that way. The waves in this work are sometimes mistakenly referred to as tsunami (津波), but they are more accurately called okinami (沖波), great off-shore waves."
It now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below is their interpretation of it:
The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji), Edo period (1615–1868), ca. 1831–33
Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849); Published by Eijudo
Polychrome ink and color on paper

The preeminence of this print—said to have inspired both Debussy's La Mer and Rilke's Der Berg—can be attributed, in addition to its sheer graphic beauty, to the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain. The turbulent wave seems to tower above the viewer, whereas the tiny stable pyramid of Mount Fuji sits in the distance. The eternal mountain is envisioned in a single moment frozen in time. Hokusai characteristically cast a traditional theme in a novel interpretation. In the traditional meisho-e (scene of a famous place), Mount Fuji was always the focus of the composition. Hokusai inventively inverted this formula and positioned a small Mount Fuji within the midst of a thundering seascape. Foundering among the great waves are three boats thought to be barges conveying fish from the southern islands of Edo. Thus a scene of everyday labor is grafted onto the seascape view of the mountain.
Perhaps a graphic depiction of the water element 'eclipsing' or becoming stronger than that of earth - an elemental imbalance?

I still think it is odd that this image seems to have seeped into the collective consciousness of many people of my generation in recent years. A former colleague of mine introduced me to it a few years ago - in fact, within a few months of September the 11th 2001 - when talking about Japanese architecture. More recently, a colleague of mine pinned this image up on her pinboard at work. Around September 2010, she was struck down by a mysterious illness involving epileptic-like fits that is still not fully diagnosed...and she never came back to work...I wonder what made her choose it?

Hmm...




Another astrologer's take on Astrology and the Quakes

I thought this article by Ed Tamplin was fairly interesting. (http://www.edtamplin.com/articles/earthquake%202005.htm)

It shows that to try to use a scientific model within the context of astrology i.e. trying to isolate or reduce the significator of the event to just ONE astrological phenomenon, and then attempting to replicate these results to other similar disasters just doesn't work...

Hmm, perhaps I need to re-examine my own 'take' on the lunar nodes and stop trying to make soli-lunar phenomena into a 'one size fits all' model for explaining all earthquakes everywhere...Perhaps a pointless exercise?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Supermoon phenomenon and the Japan earthquake


A recent prediction by astrologer, Richard Nolle about the link between the impending 'Supermoon' on the 19th of March and natural disasters such as the Japan quake and tsunami of the 11th of March has sparked some controversy in the press of late.

The Full Moon on the 19th of March 2011 will be the closest that the Moon has gotten to the earth in approximately 18 years (close to the length of one Saros cycle in terms of eclipses). Naturally this has led to speculation that its gravitational pull on the liquid beneath the earth's surface will be greater, thus triggering volcanic eruptions and earthquakes as well as phenomena such as tsunami's.

NASA scientists, however, beg to differ, saying that even the combined gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon (which straddle either side of the earth during any Full Moon) is not enough to affect tectonic plate movement. See this article: NASA Scientist Explains Science Behind 'Supermoon' Phenomenon.

Having said that, although I should make it clear that I am extremely sorry for the devastation it has brought to the people of Japan and do not wish to make light of this terrible tragedy, it is interesting that the earthquake itself was enough to affect the earth's axis, shortening the day by a few microseconds. (See: Day the Earth moved: How the earthquake tilted the world's axis by 25cm (and could even cost us a microsecond a day)

Naturally such arguments are based on standard 'cause and effect' models, rather than the cosmic sympathy paradigm used by astrologers that doesn't involve 'rays' of any kind, so the two camps are actually speaking different languages. Or rather, because scientists are not able to physically 'measure' the relationship between the Moon and the Earth beyond that of gravity (and opposed to any other more sensitive or subtle relationship that might exist between them) they are not willing to admit the possibility that there may be a connection that they are not yet aware of. Which is typical I s'pose. On the one hand, they are not prepared to speculate beyond what they know, which is fair enough. However, they always act as if they have the definitive answer, which is not so cool as far as I am concerned, because in a lot of circumstances, they say stuff as if it were the final word on something, only for that theory to be disproved several years later.

As Stephen Forrest recently put it, rather pithily: "There was a time when the 'recognized authorities' knew that the earth was flat, that Issac Newton said it all, and that heroin and cocaine were cutting edge medicines . . ." Say no more!

I don't think astrologers would mind so much if they were just more honest about the limitations of the scientific model, as well as how relative it actually is. If anyone doubts that for a minute, watch this documentary and you'll see what I mean. (See: BBC Horizon - What is One Degree?)

Of course, astrologers can be just as bad when it comes to claiming that astrology offers a failsafe way to predict future events. Plainly, in practice, this is not always the case. Astrology is a tricky and slippery business, as I have discovered on numerous occasions, including this one, where I have ended up re-calculating the Quake chart about three times!

Astrology is not simply an ancient science or technique, as some like to argue for the sake of credibility (in a world where science and rationalism are so highly valued, astrologers and those who value the role of intuition and imagination, are often ridiculed, and thus try to find a legitimised place within that society) - it is a divination system and as such, depends on an animistic worldview, which may include spirits, angels and the ideal of everything, including planets, having soul and consciousness. It also often surreptitiously implicates the astrologer themself in some way. A case in point is this chart, which has ended up mimicking the angles in my own natal chart . Strangely, this earthquake also occurred exactly one month after a rather dramatic event in my own life, showing me the subtle connection between perceiver and what is perceived that some quantum physics studies have some clearly illustrated, to the horror of many mainstream scientists.

At any rate, without wishing to get involved in that debate again (See my previous posting on Solar Flares) I thought we might look at a chart for the Japan quake to see if it has anything symbolic to say to us about the quake...

The quake took place at 14:46pm about 100 kms off the coast of Sendai, Honshu. As far as I can tell, the co-ordinates for it are as follows: 38.322°N, 142.369°E. These are according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Programme.

Significantly, the chart has Leo rising, pointing to issues of leadership, especially kingship. It is common knowledge that in recent years, Japan has had a relatively large number of leadership/government changes and has slowly been losing its position as the world's third superpower, thanks to the rise of its neighbour, China. In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4, Henry Tricks, the head of The Economist's Japan Bureau, said:

Although Japan is still a tremendous powerhouse....more recently, the picture that the outside world has of Japan is a much bleaker one - one of economic stagnation and deflation, and this to a certain extent, represents the problem that Japan faces in terms of being the fastest ageing country on earth, the country with one of the lowest birth rates on earth, and politically, there's been a turnover of governments that is breathtaking in its speed , and shocking in the sense that I think in the last 20 years, there have been 14 prime ministers....It reflects a growing sense that Japan has lost its way...
(See: BBC Radio 4 - Japan's Food Dilemma)

Note the theme of old vs young, birth vs old age mentioned here, which chimes in with Japan's natal chart's (I am using Marjorie Orr's info which is 12 noon on 11 February 1889, Tokyo) nodal axis, which falls in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn....More on this in the next posting when we discuss Saturn in detail.

The new prime minister, Naoto Kan, only recently came to power, succeeding the Richard Gere-like figure of Junichiro Koizumi, who was only in power for 5 years (2001-6). Commentators are already saying that, like Hurricane Katrina did for George W. Bush, this event has the potential to make or break the current regime and affect Japanese politics for years to come. (See: Post-tsunami Japan looks to PM Kan for leadership)

Interestingly, Japan's current Emperor, gave a speech on TV five days after the disaster - a rare appearance from this essentially ceremonial figurehead. But what is interesting from our point of view, is that the Japanese Imperial family traces its ancestry back to Jimmu, the first mythical emperor, who in turn is said to be descended from the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu. Known as the 'land of the rising sun', Japan's national flag is a red sun disc on a white background. Sun symbolism is known to have been associated with the Imperial court since at least the 7th century. A sense of this divine connection is well-expressed in this article written for Time magazine in 1945 about the role of the Emperor during World War II called: Japan: The God-Emperor -well worth a read. It is perhaps apt then that in this chart, the ruler of the Leo Ascendant or rising sign, is the Sun.

In this chart, the Sun is in Pisces in the eighth house. During my research into my dissertation, I discovered, thanks to Deborah Houlding's Book, Temples of the Sky, that the Eighth House was known by some Graeco-Roman astrologers, including Firmicus Maternus, as Epicataphora, which is Greek for 'falling down into the Underworld.'

Houlding writes:
Significantly,... Firmicus [Maternus] also oncludes older Greek terminology, which informs us that the 8th house was known as Epicataphora , which means 'falling down into the Underworld.' The 2nd house was known as Anaphora,'rising up from the Underworld,' illustrating that although both were regarded as portals to the underworld and incorporated darker elements in their symbolism, there was an important distinction - the 8th was the portal of entry, the 2nd of release.
Getting back to the Sun and its relationship with the earth, an article in the Japan Times suggests that originally, the Japanese Imperial clan initially worshipped an earth-bound agricultural god/kami, before their heads were turned skyward by the Koreans.

According to Michael Hoffman,
"Among the various fifth- and sixth- century noble clans, over which the Imperial clan had as yet failed to establish more than nominal supremacy, were several that worshiped an ancestral sun.

The Imperial clan, at this stage, did not. Its primary deity was the agricultural kami Takamimusubi. It was contact with Korea, Matsumae believes, that reoriented the royal family's gaze from the earth sunward.

Sun worship was common in the Korean kingdoms," he explains, "and royal founding ancestors were frequently named as children of the sun. In order to deal with these kings on an equal basis, the Yamato rulers had to claim lineage of equal dignity.

The sun's majesty was self-evident; the earth's apparently was not."

Perhaps this earthquake, on a symbolic level, could be seen as the earth gods taking revenge for being discarded and ignored?

Here it is perhaps worth mentioning that the same Radio 4 programme I mentioned earlier also talked about the growing food crisis in the world and how Japan needed to re-look at its current food importation practices (foreign relations) and the continuing trends towards eating more meat and Westernised food, as opposed to traditional staples such as rice - which in ancient times, was considered to have a soul and to be an almost 'holy' food. This has meant that the Japanese have been slowly redefining what it means to be Japanese because of their slow Westernisation and changing food practices. In the Quake chart, we have Taurus on the Midheaven, suggesting that perhaps this is something that the Japanese should strive for once they recover from this disaster? In order to find more sustainable ways of continuing to feed its population and maintain a strong economy in the future - and of course, both food and economic matters (particularly banking, agriculture and property) are very much governed by Taurus. Certainly, in the wake of the quake, much of the news coverage turned both to the lack of food supplies, mainly due to the disruption to exportation and importation of goods, as well as the sharp drops in Japan's financial indicators on the global financial markets and the Bank of Japan's attempts to stave off a crash - all Taurean-ruled stuff.

However, in terms of the earthquake itself, I think the most important significator in the chart is Uranus, planet of disruption and chaos. Uranus is making a conjunction to Mercury and, like the Sun, is also located in the eighth house, along with the stellium of planets I mentioned earlier, including the Sun and Mars. The Uranus-Mercury conjunction also makes a t-square to the lunar nodes, and given the links to the nodes in other quakes (see, for example, my post on Insomnia and the Chile Quake, as well as the follow-on - The Lunar Nodes Continued) it does not surprise me that this combination of planets might somehow be connected to the earthquake. Both are located in the 'Underworld,' it is an apt description of a monster rumbling below the surface, causing natural disasters above the surface. Strangely, the Sun is completely unaspected, suggesting a sort of isolation, Japan being cut off from its cultural heritage and leadership on some level...Or the leadership seeming to be somehow removed or detached from its people emotionally in the wake of the disaster, as George Bush was accused of being after Katrina.

Turning to the tsunami, it may be significant that the Moon, ruler of the tides, is making a square (frictious) angle to Neptune, god of the ocean, which in turn, is trine the nodal axis and conjunct Chiron. Neptune and Chiron are to be found in the seventh house of the 'other,' of relationships both with friends and enemies. Along with a stellium of other planets in Pisces, including the Sun and Mercury, this suggests a heavy emphasis on the ocean and water-ruled phenomena such as the water supply, which of course has been threatened in the wake of the nuclear disaster. It also suggests that the waves themselves may have taken on a sort of animistic identity - a life of their own - and to those running away from its grip, it must have felt like some sort of hungry sea monster swallowing everything in its path...

The latter, positive aspects between Chiron and the nodes suggest that out of these fated (nodes) actions, healing can come - Chiron representing a significant wound that needs caring for, as well as gurus or teachers who have much wisdom to impart. It will be interesting to watch and see if any philosophical, healing or religious figure emerges in the months to come who can offer Japan some guidance in how to, for instance, move past the great wound that was Hiroshima - another cultural memory that has come to the fore with the nuclear explosions generated as a consequence of this natural disaster.

Naturally, with the focus firmly on the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant, one has to consider the role of Pluto in the Quake chart. Although close to the north node, Pluto is not actually forming a conjunction, so we cannot say that it plays into the nodal axis the way that it did in the Chile chart. It is in Capricorn, ruled by Saturn in the 5th house of the chart - which is associated, ironically, with birth, pleasure, as well as good fortune. However, it is also square both to Jupiter, the planet of good luck, and to Mercury, which we have already established, is conjunct to Uranus. Naturally, with radiation sickness becoming a worry, its is perhaps symbolically apt that Capricorn happens to be the sign ruling the 6th house cusp - the house of health, illness and daily life - and, in traditional astrology, is the house of bad fortune. (See for example, Vettius Valens or Firmicus Maternus)

As I mentioned earlier, Pluto rules the sign of Scorpio, which in this chart, governs the 4th house cusp or IC, which elsewhere, I have described as the darkest part of the chart - perhaps apt for such a dark 'planet'. This is the house of property, family and wealth. It is also the house associated with endings in horary astrology - the end of the matter, as well as death, so perhaps it is the nuclear story that will be what defines this particular chapter in Japan's history? This seems to be confirmed by the square to Mercury and Jupiter (albeit that the orb is quite wide to Mercury - 5 degrees) - the latter falling in the 9th house of learning, culture and beliefs...

Naturally, Uranium, is also a key mineral used in the nuclear process and so Uranus must also be seen as a secondary indicator of the nuclear meltdown, which was, in itself, a by-product of the earthquake.

Jupiter is approaching an opposition with Saturn (with an orb of 5 degrees) which is in the 3rd house of communications. Clearly this disaster, which is now being billed as worse than the Three Mile Island event, and on a par with Chernobyl in terms of scale, is not going to result in good PR or improved support for the current regime - according to reports, voter support for the Prime Minister and the centrist Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which he leads, had sunk to around 20% before all this happened, so this may well be the straw that breaks the camel's back. My sense is that, in terms of timing, that the the nuclear disaster is likely to reach its peak when these aspects perfect or reach exactitude....

One ray of hope may lie in the grand trine between the lunar nodes, Neptune and the Part of Fortune - also in Libra in the 3rd house of local communities and communication, along with Saturn. This large and harmonious triangle feeds into a diamond, with a minor grand trine created by the north node, Neptune and the part of Fortune.

According to Dorian Greenbaum, a scholar of Vettius Valens, 'The Lot of Fortune is calculated by taking the arc from Sun to Moon by day and projecting it from the Hour-marker; by night from Moon to Sun.' Greenbaum writes that Vettius Valens interpreted it as follows:

'The Lot of Fortune, being connected to the Moon and the physical body, is able to show physical well-being and acquisition of goods, which presumably will lead to some kind of happiness.'

Essentially, it is about worldly fortune and good health, which bodes well in the 3rd house - the house in which the Moon is said to rejoice. This perhaps suggests that this event will eventually bring local communities closer together and get the notoriously Stoic and repressed Japanese to express their feelings a bit more openly - with each other and with the world.

In the next posting, I wish to look more closely at the role of Saturn and it relationship/synastry to previous charts for significant nuclear events involving Japan, including the bombing of Hiroshima...