Ah. A new “shock” has been delivered to our mental instabilities of late with the “new discovery” of the constellation, Ophiuchus, scattering the commoners in all directions searching for a guru who can tell them what this should mean to them. Much OMG’ing amongst the Twitting crowd proceeds. Much neurotic hand-wringing and subsequent hand-holding will now ensue at this incredibly devastating piece of information. Astrologers who excel at the economic and political game of marketing all jump on the bandwagon to comment on the comments launched by the commentators in the infotainment centers known as “the news,” to increase their clientele and their bank accounts because someone in a chicken little costume has gone screaming around the village.
Hopefully, by now, the media-generated hysteria over this constellation has waned and a more coherent and intelligent discussion can take place. The question a good counselor of any ilk (and/or anyone with a developed sense of awareness) asks when presented with a crisis is, “Why now?” What is, indeed, the purpose of generating lots of energy around this particular constellation at this particular time? We will not find it in headlines, but only through some reflective thought. For those who would like a more political and social discussion on the corporate media’s need to create pseudo-crises among the masses, please read Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine.
SORTING FACT FROM FANTASY
First, let’s take a deep breath and take a look at what is more real than imagined. I have included the opening picture to provide a visual of the exact whereabouts of the constellation Ophiuchus (please click image to enlarge). As we can see, Ophiuchus does not lie on the ecliptic at all, the spatial bandwidth where all the other constellations of the zodiac reside. Yes, it is very close, hovering just above and between Scorpio and Sagittarius. In more close-up photos which may be found on astronomy sites, it’s feet just touch upon the ecliptic. However, its bulk is well north of this line. Ophiuchus actually overlaps a very large portion of Scorpio and, if we were to buy into the notion that it is a “new” zodiacal constellation, which it is not, we would have to factor in the idea that people born under the sign of Scorpio would have two signs to contend with as their solar rulers. We could, in fact, include so many constellations, stars, objects from the Kuiper belt and meteorites in a natal chart interpretation that we’d have nothing meaningful to say to a client. Both client and counselor, in such circumstances, would be reduced to winding up a wad of yarn so full of degrees and orbs and multiple conjunctions and squares that we may well be injured if we were to wander about for too long in its mess. And that is exactly how corporate america and its media managers want us to spend our time: staring at the maze of wool they throw at us rather than weaving the sweater – connecting the dots, so to speak.
The truth is that Ophiuchus has been known to both astronomers and astrologers alike for millenia and there is good reason why it has never been included in the twelve signs of the zodiac: because it isn’t one. However, there is a message within this constellation that is quite intriguing and prescient for our times and its re-appearance at this time is a lovely bit of synchronicity.
OPHIUCHUS THE SERPENT HOLDER
Ophiuchus is known as the serpent holder, featuring a human figure holding a snake around its waist and its hands directing the serpent’s two ends in opposite directions. The right-handed (masculine) side of the serpent stretches out laterally over the constellation of Scorpio, while the left-handed (feminine) side points in an almost vertical ascent toward the North.
The serpent represents the great ouroboros; in it’s curled state, it symbolizes the feminine (Shakti/Yin) aspect of the cyclical rhythms of life leading unto death leading unto life again. She is depicted in cave drawings and petroglyphs and found in nature in various forms, most notably in the spiraling shell of the aquatic nautilus. She also commands the air, as jungle snakes are able to alter their body shape and intelligently utilize air currents and thermal lift to travel from tree to tree.
The feminine form of the ouroboros is found not only in the earth, sea and air elementals, but within the fires of the hearth, which women have tended in temples and in homes throughout our existence as a species. Hers is the tail we follow when we descend into catacombs and caves for transformative ritual. She warms the food we take in and the beds in which we sleep. She dwells in all realms and her serpentine path both through the cosmos and through our physical lives forms the desires of seekers willing to experience the mysteries of the unknown. In the Tao, she is known as The Way, in the Kaballah, the No Thing, in Buddhism, the Eternal Void. She is the dark and impenetrable primordial womb. From this unnameable and unknowable place she leads us into physical manifestation and guides us out again when our time is done here. Hers is the domain of the birthing of all life and the right brain regions of dreams and visions and the quiet murmurings of human voices in the night. She moves, in undulating fashion, through and within all of our mundane activities. She dwells within the coccyx, coiled and awaiting a spark from the power of the masculine element to initiate her ascent through the chakras of the spine. This is why egyptians wore the image of the coiled and erect asp around their foreheads. Within Ophiuchus, the left hand of this snake points upward, toward her source, reminding us from whence we have come and to which we shall return.
In its other form, the serpent represents the fully extended masculine (Shiva/Yang) principle of kundalini power ascending through the human body to activate the full force of our chakra centers. His force arises from his coiled queen in our collective, truncated tails – the coccyx. His domain is the active, expressing its form and structure on the physical plane. Within Ophiuchus, the right arm of the snake extends laterally, representing the physical aspect of the divine cross (please see my previous article “Understanding the Cardinal Cross of 2010”). The divine masculine energy builds buildings and space shuttles and tesla engines. The light contained within his sphere of left-brained formulas and hand-eye coordination developed the printing press, the abacus and the reed ships that launched the dreams of the feminine into unknown waters and further onto distant shores. His volatile tumescence drove the first spike into the rails that held sway as our means of terrestrial travel for centuries. The masculine measures things and calculates degrees and constructs things. He brings the imagination into physical form.
We have long forgotten that the spiritual directive of these masculine doings falls in the hands of the primordial mother. It is her breath that gives life to the world of things. We have forgotten that both vital energies exist within each and every one of us, to be expressed based on the need at hand. Reflection and action require a union within.
The Tao, in its instruction for leading an authentic life, clearly states, “Remember the yang, but keep to the yin.” This means that the foundation of our worldly life should always come from the receptive, yielding wisdom element (yin) of ourselves, while also knowing when to use (remember) the yang to bring that wisdom into physical manifestation. We have, in fact, turned that instruction upside down, allowing yang to overrun itself, destroying the yin in its wake.
A tragic, yet perfect, contemporary example of this can be found in the 2003 murder of Rachel Corrie, a young woman who, while trying to stop a Palestinian home in the Gaza strip from being destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces, was crushed by an american-made Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier. At the moment of her death, she was on her knees, desperately attempting to protect the dwelling and its inhabitants from annihilation by wrong, irrational and imbalanced masculine violence. He ran her right over, without remorse.
Lest I be written off immediately as anti-jewish by a corporate/media-driven hysteric, remember, history has never ceased to repeat itself. The costumes all change, but the metaphor remains the same. There are examples of this kind of blasphemous behavior unfolding on every continent on our planet right now, at this very moment. They involve persons from every skin color and religious background known to humanity. In our own country, CEO’s of our gas and oil companies continue to forcefully ejaculate their toxic chemicals into our mother earth (known as “fracking”) in their mentally disturbed attempts to extract ever more resources for profit from her already seriously damaged body. And, in their psychosis, they condemn their own children to a future of poison, misery and poverty. Those of us who remain dependent on these energy sources are equally responsible for the physical, social, economic and spiritual diseases we will pass on to our progeny.
Whether contained in the story of a 23-year-old woman murdered in a middle eastern desert or in the tale of the continued rape of our ancient lands, herein lie the bodies of truth: our “collateral damages” stacked along the roadside of yang allowed to spin out of control.
Our christian religions have reduced our current scientific and social languaging around the constellation of Ophiuchus to a guy controlling a writhing snake around his waist. In the hands of our church fathers, that snake has come to mean the superficial and false notion of female weakness and the deliverance of evil to the world through Eve. In our forgetting of our pre-history, we have defiled and demeaned her teachings, her spiritual power and her very womb. We have lost our mental and moral compass in a world bent on simply doing without the counsel and guidance of the feminine voice. Eve’s consumption of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge does not represent some patriarchal notion of a fall from grace. It represents Eve’s internal knowing of her origins, of her rightful ability to take in and hold within herself all of the permutations contained in the cycles of life. Yes, indeed, in her eating of the fruit, she confirms and honors her relationship with the sacred, cosmic serpent, which answers to no human authority.
Perhaps the current attention being drawn to the constellation of Ophiuchus is a collective unconscious desire to reunite and re-establish the sacred balance between the female and male aspects of this symbol, to step into a marriage of a higher order than the ones currently being dismally played out around us in our contemporary social, political and economic realms. There is a very good reason why more than 50% of american marriages fail. A conjugal vow taken now means no more than standing on a street corner and flipping a coin to see if we will keep our promises. Or not. Increasingly, our choice is more Not than Often. We must pause to consider that the fault lies not at the heart of the people involved, but that our acceptance of the limited conceptions of the structures of both our intimate and international partnerships are without honor or fulfillment for any party involved.
THE SERPENT HOLDER, THE GALACTIC CENTER
AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS
Ophiuchus contains no stars of any magnitude to register with astrologers who use fixed stars in the interpretation of charts. It does contain a large amount of star clusters and is located very close to an area of interest that has gained attention over the last several years for its importance not just in the Mayan Calendar of events, but in the field of astrophysics as well: The Galactic Center. The serpent itself plays a very large part in understanding the human brain and the construction of DNA in many cultures in South and Central America. There is, indeed, a reality here that is currently seeking our attention. The left half of the serpent literally points to the Galactic Center’s location, like a tour guide with a raised hand very clearly calling out, “Hey, over here!”
According to Dr. Jose Arguelles, the Mayans call the center of our Galaxy The Mother Womb or The Galactic Butterfly. They believe this fathomless orifice forms the gateway to other galaxies beyond our Sun and represents the ultimate Consciousness. This ultimate Consciousness organized all matter and gave birth to our own solar system. The Maya have been, for centuries, very focussed on all things that arise from this center and believe that the future of humankind ultimately depends on what occurs there. They believe that bursts of communicative energy have and do issue forth from The Mother Womb and transform life on earth.
In addition to practicing professional astrology, I am also a craniosacral (and integrative, structural bodywork) practitioner and, as such, have often wondered if the pelvic, sacral and sphenoid bones in humans may, in fact, be our own butterfly-shaped bio-satellite dishes which, if tuned in and aligned correctly, may be able to engage in (or already are) receiving the non-verbal, energy wave messages emanating from the core of our galaxy. Is it possible that we might possess within our bodies our very own version of the Very Large Array? The shapes of all three bones are quite remarkable for their resemblance to that multi-colored winged creature: the Galactic Butterfly, as well as their likeness to our gigantic, astronomical listening dishes we have pointed at the heavens at various locations around our planet to see if something or someone might be out there. I believe Jung might agree that these facts push the limits of coincidence into the realms of synchronicity.
Trained also as a professional actor in the Alexander technique, I came to understand how each of these bones (along with all the others) quite literally resonate and vibrate in response to the varying pitches and tones of the voice. In fact, the exercises in the Alexander technique are specifically designed to remove inhibitions of the myofascial system in order that these “bone sounding boards” can do their job: send out the voice clearly through space in order to connect with the audience. T.S. Eliot wrote: “Let your words reach out . . . into the silence.”
Perhaps the very design of our bodies was meant to allow us not just to project out powerful resonance signatures, but also to receive them as well. Could our primordial Mother be reaching out to us through the silence of the universe? If massively distant radio waves can bounce onto satellite dishes, why cannot pulses from the Galactic Butterfly not also bounce onto our sphenoid and iliac bones? Perhaps we could even imagine that the fascinating, web-like matrix of organic bone material is necessary to receive the signals from the Mother Womb and transmit them through the body. A human mother communicates with her own womb child in a profound biological way and, if Hermes was correct, “as above, so below.” Perhaps all listening devices made out of inorganic materials actually block her voice. It might even be possible that the sphenoid (located in the brain) could be a receiving dish at a higher elevation in the body that then transmits signals down the spine and into the next receiving dish, the ilium (the pelvis), which then transmits the information to the sacred seat of the sacrum and coccyx, where her earthly daughter lies, coiled and waiting for its spark. And, perhaps, those signals are encoded to be disseminated to humanity through the non-verbal resonances of biochemical and electromagnetic cellular communication.
Crazy? Maybe. If it is possibly true, the pope is out of a job, and so are most conventional scientists. Let us remember that the wavelength of a gamma ray had never been measured until some guy in a lab coat first imagined that gamma rays could exist and then invented a device to measure a gamma ray. And, then, an astounding thing happened: gamma rays were discovered! John Talbot’s book, The Holographic Universe, clearly demonstrates that imagination (yin) always precedes invention (yang).
Astrophysicists are also highly interested in the communications emanating from the Galactic Center. It is not only the brightest area of our Milky Way, but also contains a massive black hole that both sucks in stellar matter and discharges vast amounts of material (in a phallic jet stream) that give birth to new stars and planets. It seems mythology and science are in agreement on the importance of this centralized area of our galaxy – there is, indeed, something important going on here. We have come full spiral and are able to witness the great cosmic serpent spiral dance of the yin/yang principles in their act of creation: the vagina taking unto herself and tranforming the raw alchemical elementals and the phallus realizing its true creative potential in manifesting it back out into the material universe. Both creative forces – giving and receiving – lie within the sacred bowl of the pelvis. Men must learn to give now and women must learn to receive. The heart of tantra lies within this place and dynamic and we have the ability to experience it in any activity in which we engage.
The entwined serpents of South American mythology also provide insights into the integration of the masculine and feminine brain to form higher mind. The Colombian archeologist and anthropologist Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff notes that the Desana of the Columbian Amazon believe the human brain to be divided into two halves. In western science the space between the two halves is known as the corpus callosum and is the integrating area of the left and right sides of the brain. This is where each half crosses over to the other side and they have to “talk” to each other. No surprise that data demonstrate that women have a much higher density of neuronal and vascular connections through the corpus callosum than men do. This is one of the reasons why women have had far less difficulty in crossing gender role boundaries and achieving success in conventional male realms (science, business, etc), while men have shown very little ability to cross into the female roles of the intuitive shaman spiritual guides and nurturers of life.
In the Desana culture, the within the fissure between the two halves of the brain “two intertwined snakes are lying, a giant anaconda and a rainbow boa, a large river snake of dark dull colors and an equally large land snake of spectacular bright colors. In Desana shamanism these two serpents symbolize a female and male principle, a mother and father image, water and land . . . ; in brief, they represent a concept of binary opposition which has to be overcome in order to achieve individual awareness and integration. The snakes are imagined as spiralling rhythmically in a swaying motion from one side to another.”¹ Our collective mental and sexual activities would improve greatly if undertaken with this imagery in mind.
Though the westernized brain appears unable to grasp a non-heirarchical relationship between its masculine and feminine attributes, indigenous peoples from all over the world have understood this concept dating back through our prehistory and possibly even to our very origins as homo sapiens. They are the rhythms that governed our days and nights long before we even realized our nakedness. I am not sure why the white western european academics cannot make the leap into this simple, sophisticated comprehension of the human mind and the ebb and flow of life in the cosmos but, thus far, they’ve fallen short of the task. Please refer to my previous article, The Physics of Oz, for more on this subject.
Nonetheless, astrophysics has assisted in scientifically documenting and confirming the activities the Maya have long known are occurring within The Galactic Center (which is specifically located in Sagittarius A Star). Most interestingly, in March of 2005, Dr. Scott Hyman (yes – what other name should any scientist who spends his time gazing at our galaxy’s vagina have?), announced that his analysis of low frequency radio wave images taken by the VLA in New Mexico of the Galactic Center during 2002 “detected an intermittent signal that seemed intelligently directed. The signal consisted of five highly energetic radio emissions of equal brightness that lasted 10 minutes each and appeared every 77 minutes over a 7-hour period from September 30 to October 1. The discovery has left Professor Hyman and the entire astronomy community “scratching their heads”. The scratching of the heads is not surprising. Perhaps modern technology will one day catch up with ancient wisdom. But this hard data does confirm the Mayan’s assertions that the Galactic Center is communicating something intelligent.
What it is communicating we do not know and it would be quite naive to assume the vacuous new age smiling mantra that “it’s all good.” For all we know, the message may be that we really screwed up as trustees of the planet and the great divine has chosen to simply isolate our viral effects and reboot the computer program a la´ “The Matrix” film trilogy.
The Mayans did calculate that our planet will come into alignment with the Galactic Center in 2012, though I think the guessing of the exact date by all kinds of western guru wannabe’s to be an extraordinary waste of time and energy (some argue for 12/21/12, some for 11/03/11 blah blah). Earth does travel through the galactic plane in much the same wave pattern as those represented by the fractal sine and radio wave pictures above, undulating on unseen ocean waves. This wave pattern not only resonates with our earthly seas, but also bears a striking resemblance to the spiral dance of DNA and the alternating yin/yang symbol of the Tao. The fact that our serpentine feminine/masculine representative, Ophiuchus, is in very close proximity to our event horizon leads me to surmise that a serious re-thinking of our relationships and power relations, in whatever social, cultural, political and economic contexts within which they are unfolding, needs to take place. Immediately. There is no time to waste in deconstructing this mess we’ve made and re-consecrating the marriage among equal, co-creators of our universe that was annulled by a diseased patriarchy long ago. Otherwise, the comatose “Bride” will rise with a vengeance and enact justice on her own. A viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant films, “Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2,” should get the point across. Or maybe the Cosmic Mother will just take a long-delayed bathroom break and we’ll all drown.
Those who “wait for it to happen,” have missed the entire point. As the Hopi state, “You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people this is The Hour.” The point lies in the preparations already made to meet the event, no matter its form or outcome, even death. There is no guarantee of wine and roses here, only that something will happen. Americans in particular have harbored the wine and roses movie ending for far too long, at the expense of billions of our planetary co-inhabitants. That’s not a good karmic scenario for us.
Are we complete within ourselves and others when the unknown happening transpires? What is the stuff of which we are made when we find ourselves down to our last t-shirt and pair of pants? Maasau, the creator of the people in Hopi tradition, gave each human being two things: a blanket and a stick. Our individual and collective survival and future may well be determined by what we can do when stripped down to just those two things. Regardless of whether or not we will face this as a reality, it is worthwhile contemplating ourselves under such circumstances.
Coming into balance within, we will come into balance without. The martial, medicinal and meditative arts of Taoism teach these principles and practices. So do many other traditions – the Tao is simply The Way that found me and which I have followed for decades. It’s sense of aesthetics, wisdom and practical application has never failed to inspire along the way. Astrology has also given me a richness of meaning and language that I never found in my trainings as a psychotherapist. I am glad for its empowering insights of celestial and terrestrial self awareness. There are many ways, each beautiful in its own right. A good friend of mine follows the Aztec teachings and has traveled the path of the Mexika now for many years. She is grounded, centered and self-possessed in her walk down the the long road. These are the kinds of people to watch and learn from. Observe how they carry themselves and move through space. They actually walk a very quiet walk, without a lot of talk talk.
Hopefully, you will have found The Way that works for you long ago and have dedicated yourself to it. If you have not yet done so, do it now. Right now. Those who have not done their homework before the exam comes will fail the test. It is my own belief that those who rely on power over others (of resources, gender, class, race, age, flora, fauna, etc) will find no purchase in the new ground under our collective feet. Those who have aided and abetted those who rely on power will have a difficult time holding their own as well. Those who have cultivated the internal ability to listen to the rising and falling of the energies of the Mother Womb and the rhythmic cycles of nature and have developed the practical skills to respond to and act when her timing is right will do much better during finals.
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation
¹Reichel-Dolmatiff, Gerardo. 1981 Brain and Mind in Desana Shamanism. Journal of Latin American Lore, 13(1):73-113.