My View on the Modern Planets (and Human Nature, Too)

Last night on social media was kinda interesting.  Not too long ago, one of my favorite traditional/Hellenic astrologers Chris Brennan whom I follow on Twitter retweeted the following:

To which I replied publicly that simplicity is the highest form of elegance, with this simple diagram I made for my geomancy book:

Even if I made this specific image, the diagram itself is a traditional one that’s been in use for hundreds of years in Europe and the Middle East as a teaching aide to demonstrate the balance and symmetry of how the planets are assigned to the twelve signs of the Zodiac: the luminaries go to the brightest times of the year (in the Northern hemisphere), then the planets are assigned in their usual solar system order outwards, such that dark Saturn is given to the signs Capricorn and Aquarius, the darkest times of the year (again, in the Northern hemisphere).  All this diagram shows is exactly what @dahlia_anara posted in a graphical format.  Growing up, it was a mystery as to why the planets were given to the signs, but then, this sort of diagram seems to have been all but forgotten in modern texts; had I known about it in my early baby-ccultist days, this would have made everything make a lot more sense a lot earlier on.

For some reason, my sharing this image turned kinda viral, and some people were even put at peace by just seeing it; while it’s nothing more than a teaching diagram, it does reflect an underlying balance of the astrological cosmos, so I can get it.  Of course, with it being shared and favorited by so many, it did spark a few discussions and conversations, one of which was about why Saturn is the planet that gets that last position and not, you know, any of the planets that have since been discovered in modern times past Saturn.  This, of course, touches on an important, lively, and active debate (which doesn’t always remain good-hearted) on the approaches of modern astrology versus traditional astrology, and of course, I know you know that when I have Thoughts and Opinions, I let them be known.

Before I continue, let me preface this with the following disclaimer: what follows is my own personal view of astrology and its symbols that reflect my own practice and understanding of the cosmos, as informed by my studies, experiences, and works in astrology, geomancy, and other subjects.  Because I recognize that my practice is not your practice, and that my views are not necessarily representative of universal truths, you’re still free to hold any well-reasoned, well-researched, informed, and sound opinion, research methods, or approaches to astrology you want.  Understood?  We good?  Good.

Simply put, I don’t think the use of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) and asteroids (Ceres, Pallas, Chiron, etc.) are necessary to the practice of astrology, and while they may have some use, they’re by no means of large importance to me for several reasons.  The most physics-based of these is that many of these objects move so slowly through the Zodiac that they’re not of incredible importance for individual persons.  While the Moon changes her signs every two or three days, and Saturn just over every two-ish years, the trans-Saturnians shift their degrees and signs so much more slowly that two people born in the same seven- or twenty-year period will have identical or similar locations.  For mundane astrology, this is potentially useful, because these slow-moving planets are more helpful in defining whole generations of people or zeitgeists rather than how individual people form in their own individual lives; once the zeitgeist established by the slow-moving planets is understood, one can inspect the relationships that the planets from Saturn on down with the slow-moving ones to see how one relates to such a zeitgeist.  In both a phyiscal and spiritual sense, the slow-moving trans-Saturnian planets occupy a place between the planets proper and the fixed stars; yes, they still shift like planets do, but slowly enough to be imperceptible on a reasonable timeframe, much like the light of the fixed stars.

Of course, this is all on top of a more fundamental astrological reason why I don’t find the use of these modern planets particularly helpful: astrology was already complete before the formal discovery of Uranus in the late 17th century ce.  In the seven thousand or more years that astrology has been practiced since the earliest foundations of Egypt and Sumer were laid, we’ve had more than a little time to see, plot, experiment, test, and record our observations and theories with the stars, and though refinement and elaboration, astrology became as complete an art of science (in the old sense of “knowing things”) as anything ever could.  The methods of astrology that have been passed on down to us are elegant, balanced, and established on numerological and divine harmonies that together form a complete, interlocking system.  The system already works, so as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Writing this post also reminds me of a similar post I wrote from the very earliest days on this blog, back from when I was still in college.  The points in there are basically the ones I’m raising in the present post, but there’s one bit I wanted to highlight as well:

We’ve had 6,000 years to build up our knowledge of the intra-Saturnians, while we’ve had just over 200 for Uranus, 150 for Neptune, and not even a full century for Pluto. Finding the full meanings for these planets will take a lot more time than we’ve given it, and finding appropriate uses for them will take even longer. I’m not arguing for a static and legalistic school of astrology, but I don’t think that astrologers have been doing the right thing for their art for the past two centuries. We should be using traditional astrology as a stronger foundation than we are, but instead we’re assigning meanings to the planets “because it feels right” or “because it’s intuitive”. What happened the last time you tried to prove an answer on a test, or a fact to a judge, with “because it feels right”?

Bear in mind that these planets are only very recently discovered and, while we can tap into our millennia’s experience of astrology to more quickly divine and refine the significations of these outer planets or asteroids, what we do know about them pales in comparison to what we know of the older symbols we’ve been using from the start.  Again, from my older post:

However, even until the early 20thcentury astrologers had not reached a consensus; Alan Leo wrote in 1909 that “Uranus has been given no sign by astrologers, though Aquarius has often been suggested”. As for Raphael, there is evidence to believe that he may have been writing just to get published: he wasn’t a good astrologer by anybody’s measure, and was more of a magician selling charms than an astrologer. He often didn’t provide reasoning or logic for his claims, and what he argues against is often borne out instead in practice (like the use of terms).

So, even over a century after Uranus’ firm discovery that it was a planet, astrologers still hadn’t figured out what to do with it in its entirety.  Trying to incorporate new symbols into an ancient system is difficult and time-consuming, especially for the first few introductions when the process of incorporation is still poorly understood, but at the same time, it bears remembering that the occult community wanted to keep up-to-date and “scientific” by bringing in whatever theories and discoveries they could from modern science to make their own arts seem more respectable and well-grounded.  Trying to bring in Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, the asteroids, and everything else modern science says exists into the art of astrology was an attempt at doing just that, but they ended up shattering some of the symmetries and balances that kept the system in check and functional in the process.

Plus, like I said before, astrology was already a complete system long before what we know as “modern astrology” came onto the scene.  Consider: while modern astrologers often give Uranus the ownership of electricity, computers, astrology, and change, all these things already had ownerships in the old system: Mercury ruled all sciences and arts of the mind, including astrology and alchemy, as well as devices and means of communication, like computers; Mars would have ruled over power generally, and Jupiter (through his mythological connections with thunderbolt-throwing Zeus) would have been a natural fit for electricity generally, with Mercury (again) for circuitry and wiring; the Moon rules over changes in general, along with the flighty nature of Mercury.  To shuffle these things from the old planets to the new doesn’t really do much except introduce duplication into the system generally; at best, we can use the outer planets for very specific needs, like specifically giving Neptune to the seas and to seafaring specifically even if these would have been naturally ruled over by the Moon and Mercury, but at worst, this serves to bring confusion into the system of correspondences and obscures the logic of why certain planets have domains over the things they do.

This points to my last, and most fundamental, complaint about modern astrology, and especially the viewpoints of many who use it (badly).  Many often say that, as humanity has continued in its existence, we have undergone processes of spiritual evolution, and so need more and newer planets to reflect that, being such progressed, evolved beings now than we were.  The only evidence I can see that agrees with that is the development of what John Michael Greer calls the “civic religion of progress”, which is a very modern, very peculiar cultural notion that humanity can only change in one way: onwards, upwards, and strictly for the better, that all change is inherently better than what we had before.  As JMG points out, consider smartphones: they may get more complex and support more functionalities, but they get more costly and damaging to make, often more fragile, with more restrictions and burdens on them than what we had in the past.  This isn’t progress, even if it is change.  I look around at the world generally, and I see that a lot has changed: we have more and more accessible and cheaply-made clothing, more cars and means to move, more weapons and more explosive or damaging types of them, more means of communication, and so forth, but underlying all that?  I see the same humans underneath it all that have been around since the first human could be recognized as such.

Yes, we have developed elegant, complex, and abstract philosophies, governments, civilizations, technologies, but these are all window decorations to the real humans who, after all these countless myriads of years, still need to breathe, eat, sleep, shit, fuck, love, fight, kill, speak, learn, wonder, wander, live, and die.  I read ancient Greek, Chinese, and Mesoamerican philosophers, historians, and graffiti artists who bicker and complain about the same damn things that we bicker and complain about nowadays on the Internet about our fellow man.  The names and places we know, the media and languages we use, the projectiles we use to kill and hunt, the clothes we wear and rip and mend may have all changed over the years, but our underlying understanding of the human condition and what it means to experience humanity has been relatively unchanged the world over.  In short, humanity has remained more-or-less unchanged since we first came around, changing on the whole neither for the better nor worse.  That’s why, even in our modern and “evolved” time, we still turn time and again to the help and wisdom of our ancestors and to traditional, indigenous, and truly ancestral systems of knowledge, because not only have all those who have gone before us experienced everything we do now, they also had more time to process, understand, and correlate everything, and have since joined all the others who have done just that.

Spiritually evolved as a species my sedentary ass; individuals can certainly get to the point of spiritual development where they undergo such fundamental changes, but by that point, they’re no longer human and no longer bound to this mortal coil of humanity (cf. Buddha, Christ, spirit guides, orisha, etc.).  Plus, consider that, biologically speaking, sea sponges are just as evolved as humans are; trying to claim that humans as a whole are now “spiritually evolved” in a way we weren’t before is just forcing the notion of progress onto humanity simply because time has elapsed, ignoring what it is we are, what it is we do, and where it is we live.  But, yanno, if all you do is sit in a classroom all day without paying attention to the teacher or doing the classwork, you’re not going to get better grades by virtue of just sitting at your desk longer than anyone else.  It takes Work to get better, and not everyone does that Work, much less our entire species, and much less than that in an automatic process.

In that light, it makes even more sense how complete the system of astrology really is without having to bring in the modern planets and points in the sky.  If humanity hasn’t appreciably changed, as I claim and see that it hasn’t, then why should we need to change the models and systems of our realities to reflect some misguided sense of progress and evolution that hasn’t happened?  Astrologers have gotten along fine and have gotten accurate results in prediction and understanding people for thousands of years without incorporating them, so I see no reason to change the system, break its balances, and introduce needless confusion into the mix.  There’s plenty that can be innovated, discovered, or invented in the systems of traditional astrology without having to make it “modern”, just as how geomancy can be extended in its techniques and skills and understanding without bringing in new figures or elements into the mix.

Now.  All that said, do I think the modern planets and asteroids have no use at all?  No, I don’t.  I don’t think they’re necessary to practice astrology or magic, since everything they could represent is already represented by the main seven planets, but they can offer insights and specific details that can be helpful.  When I look at a horoscope, I treat the outer planets and the asteroids like I do fixed stars: I give them a very tight orb, and I don’t consider aspects unless they’re exact or approaching an exact degree.  When I interpret them, I first use the main seven planets to get an idea of what the chart as a whole is about, then I look at the outer planets and asteroids (when they matter!) to get a deeper idea of what the seven main planets are talking about.  I don’t look at an aspect between, say, Mars and Neptune and go off about this relationship willy-nilly; I first look at how Mars, Venus, and the Moon act, and see what such a relationship between Mars and Neptune clarifies amongst all that to see what specifically is meant.  That, I feel, is a more responsible way of using the modern planets, but again, the only benefit it affords is a specific insight to a specific detail to other factors already present and more clearly visible in the horoscope.  Helpful?  At times, sure.  Necessary?  By no means.

And, of course, don’t forget that “more evolved” or “newer” doesn’t necessarily mean “better”, and that the more things change, the more too do things stay the same.  Just as Ecclesiastes 1:9 says: “what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

On Supporting People Spiritually

Note: this post was written a few months ago during a bit of a chaotic period in my life.  I was angry and hurt, as were several others around me, and I don’t consider that to be the best time to write, so I shelved the post.  However, I wanted to get the message out, and I figured I may as well post it now that I’ve cooled off, because this is something I want people to know.

When you become good enough at magic, spirituality, or whatever, you will often get the urge to spread what you’ve learned and done.  Not everyone, granted; not everyone has a parenting instinct, and not everyone is meant to be a parent physically or spiritually.  That’s fine.  But some people are meant to do just that.  Some people are meant to initiate others, to guide others, to teach others, and depending on one’s own spiritual tradition and practice, that urge can be realized into action in different ways.  Some people start online classes while others write books, while still others will spiritually adopt people into a godfamily of sorts, making them part of their spiritual house.

This is not something to be taken lightly.  People who give birth to real children make that relationship for life.  People who initiate people into being their godchildren make a lifetime bond of another kind, one that can’t be reneged upon.

Yes, I’ve heard the arguments that a mother eagle will, once its chicks are old enough, push them out of the nest so that they can fly off and do their own thing.  Eagles, after all, don’t permit freeloaders.  Wolves, too, once they grow old enough will eventually split off from their litter and form their own pack or form part of a small one, but usually leaving to make their own if they’re strong enough.  Many animals need that time on their own to develop and become independent, strong, and fierce to the point of beautifully savage.

We are not birds.
We are not dogs.
We are humans.

Human.  Fucking.  Beings.

Animals might survive on their own in the wild.  Humans do not.  Humans build families, houses, tribes.  We move together.  We fight together.  We watch each other’s backs.  We trust each other.  If everything fails, then we either die together or we split up to make new tribes.  What we don’t do is kick someone out to make them do better on their own.  We do better by being better together.  If we fight, we fight together; if we fight amongst ourselves, we work it out.  The Bedouin, one of the world’s most famous nomadic tribes, encapsulates this all: I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, my cousins and I against strangers.  You uphold the sanctity, power, protection, and preservation of your in-group (house, clan, coven, order, whatever) against all others.  That’s how this shit works.  When you have a follower or godchild, you support them forever unless they leave on their own for their reasons or unless they are directly attacking you; that bond, however strained, cannot be broken.  You do not decide to rescind support for someone you spiritually get involved with like that.  You coach them, you teach them, you instruct them, you chew them out, you bitch them out, you smack them, but you do not forsake them.

If you have a problem with that, then you shouldn’t bother supporting others.  If you can’t uphold that, then you’re not ready to support others.  Be careful and be absolutely sure of yourself when you take on the responsibility of having a follower or godchild.  Once you make that commitment, you can’t go back on it.  If you turn your back on your spiritual family, you have more problems than just earning my ire or losing my respect.

49 Days of Definitions: Part III, Definition 2

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy.  These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff.  It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text.  The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon.  While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirteenth definition, part III, number 2 of 4:

Many (places) are uninhabited by humans; for where the world is, the earth (is) too, but man is not on every earth.  The sea is large as well as the earth, but heaven by itself (is as much as) both the sea and the earth.  [And he wanted to say that, by its magnitude, heaven is (as much as) both the earth and the sea, so large as the two of them may be, since by taking everything into (itself), it encompassed it and it contains it enclosed within (itself).]

Now that we know that all things are within God and that God is in all things and beyond them, we have a more-or-less panentheistic notion of creation: God is both immanent (within creation) and transcendent (beyond creation).  Just to make this clear, this is distinct from pantheism, where God is in creation and creation is God; the two are synonymous in pantheism.  However, we have good evidence from earlier definitions that Hermetic philosophy is panentheistic, not pantheistic.  Panentheism is common in much of tribal, primal, or primitive religions, though it tends to be relegated to fringe or mystic movements in some of the more common religions known nowadays.  However, this definition helps build the case for a Hermetic panentheistic worldview.

We can kinda continue the definition from before by including mankind: wherever there is heaven, there is God; wherever there is the world, there is heaven, thus there is God; wherever there are humans, there is world, thus there is heaven, thus there is God.  However, this definition makes it clear that there are places that are in the world where no human lives: “many places are uninhabited by humans”.  Yes, it is true that humans live in the world, but there are places where there are no humans: either places too far out of reach for us, or places inhospitable to us.  After all, “where the world is, the earth is too, but man is not on every [all] earth”.  In other words, although there is the potential for human inhabitation in any given place where there is a foundation for it, such potential is not always realized for one reason or another. 

Thus, the world is strictly greater than the inhabited world; phrased another way, the world is greater than humanity.  Not only that, but heaven is greater than the world: “the sea is large as well as the earth, but heaven by itself is as much as both the sea and the earth”.  Thus, there are places where humanity (such as it is physically) cannot even possibly go that aren’t even of this world.  Thus, we now know that heaven is definitely greater than the world, and the world greater than humanity.  This is evidence for there being multiple levels of reality, multiple worlds that are nested in some way with some worlds inside other, bigger worlds.  However, this isn’t something necessarily strict, however; though we know that humanity is less than the world, we don’t have anything quite equating humanity with Man yet.  In other words, there may be more to Man than just what we know of as human beings, but that’s as yet undecided.

The next part is another probable gloss of the compiler, much as the “I think that…” sentence in III.1 was; in other words, somewhere at some point added a bit more commentary to the Definitions.  Here, the commentor seems to rephrase the rest of this definition: “by its magnitude, heaven is as much as both the earth and the sea, so large as the two of them may be, since by taking everything into itself, it encompassed it and it contains it enclosed within itself”.  In other words, this seems to be a conjecture that because “heaven by itself is as much as both the sea and the earth”, heaven is the same magnitude as the world in terms of size and location.  What this means in terms of magnitude for something without a body and cannot be measured in the same way, however, is unknown to me; trying to measure a body against something without a physical basis isn’t very helpful.  However, by comparing them in essence, we might say that the heavens are as varied, as multiformed, as complex as the world, while still being one whole as much as the world is one whole and is full of things.  Still knowing so little about the world and heaven yet, it’s hard to draw many comparisons between the two, much less equivalences while knowing they cannot be identical.

However, the addendum goes on a little further to say that “by taking everything into itself, [heaven] encompassed [the world] and [heaven] contains [the world] enclosed within itself”.  This is more evidence for the notion that the world is contained within heaven, not partially but entirely; there are no places in the world that are not also part of heaven, but there are places in heaven that are not part of the world.  The world is fully contained within heaven, since the world was “taken into” heaven.  This phrasing makes it sound like the heavens kinda absorbed another realm within God but not within heaven, as an amoeba might eat something else; I’m unsure.  I don’t think the verb “take” indicates quite this, but that heaven absorbed the influences given to it to form something inside itself; this is somewhat corroborated by the account of Hermes as given in the Corpus Hermeticum by Poemandres (chapter 1, part 8):

And I say: Whence then have Nature’s elements their being?

To this He answer gives: From Will of God.  [Nature] received the Word (Logos), and gazing on the Cosmos Beautiful did copy it, making herself into a cosmos, by means of her own elements and by the births of souls.

Special Snowflake Syndrome

Whenever I engage in a conjuration of one of the bigger angels, or chat with a god during a special offering, I end up shooting the shit with them about any number of things: things I’d like to see happen or done in my life, various questions about practice and theory in terms of theurgy and thaumaturgy, and gods-know-what-else.  At the end of these little discussions, but before I wrap it up and dismiss or leave the spirit, I ask this:

Is there anything else at this point you would teach me or tell me?  Is there anything else you would have me learn, know, or do?

Such a simple question, but with such a vast effect.  A good third of the total information I’ve ever gotten from conjurations comes from asking this.  The spirits, after all, often know a lot more than we do and how we relate to them.  Getting their feedback in understanding our roles in the spheres they work in and how we stand in relation to them is invaluable advice, and if you’re not asking this when you engage with spirits you’ve built up a relationship with, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

I started asking this on my own to the angels when I was first getting really involved with the elemental angels “way back when” (all the way back in 2011, baby, all those two long years ago), mostly out of a desire to know what the fuck it was I was actually doing.  I still feel this way often enough, but back then, I was really feeling like I was just blundering and blustering about blindly in the darkness and then suddenly spirits happen.  So, naturally enough, one of the first questions I wanted to know was “why am I doing this?”, and I haven’t really been able to get a satisfactory answer, neither then nor anytime since then.  In other words, why am I practicing magic?  Why am I called for this, why am I doing this?  Ever since I started asking, nearly every spirit who has the purview and interest enough to answer has replied the same: “to do magic”, like it’s my primary and chosen vocation or something.

Well and good, but it’s not specific enough to my tastes and leaves much to be desired.  And yet, it’s problematic for me in another way.  If I’m chosen to do magic, what are the limits of magic?  If my frameworks and theories of magic indicate that its power is basically unlimited (in its own ways according to certain circumstances and conditions), then doesn’t that give me a huge power over the world, myself, and others?  Doesn’t that make me, well, special?  Being chosen by the spirits to do spiritual work certainly isn’t a common calling; with it still being a necessary calling and a needed role to fill, doesn’t that make me extra-needed by creation?  Doesn’t that make me, in some way, a kind of mini-savior?

Barring the natural difference in people due to talent and genius, I believe that one of the defining attributes of humanity is that we don’t necessarily have fixed roles among ourselves.  Every species has its own role to play in the larger scheme of things: predators control populations of other animals, fungi help dissolve and decompose to recycle materials into the biosphere, and the like.  Humans, according to a Hermetic view, help maintain the sephirah of Malkuth, the sphere of existence that meshes the material universe with the spiritual cosmos; humanity can be seen to be this sphere’s “choir of angels”, so to speak, maintaining and working with this sphere as our job as part of the larger creation of things.  However, this role can be endlessly complex, due to the complexity created from humanity’s interaction with both the universe and the cosmos, or what I call the human world.  Among ourselves, we have different roles to play, different jobs to discharge, and different strengths for which we are uniquely suited that only we can fill, a strong indication of one’s True Will or spiritual purpose, where we fit into the larger machine of creation.

Still, seeing what we’re good at, what we ought to discharge in this sphere, and ultimately who we are can be a dangerous thing, and leads to something I often term “special snowflake syndrome”.  According to Urban Dictionary,

A malady affecting a significant portion of the world’s population wherein the afflicted will demand special treatment, conduct themselves with a ludicrous, unfounded sense of entitlement, and generally make the lives of everyone around them that much more miserable.

The danger of this disease is that the sufferers rarely, if ever, know that they have contracted it, and continue about their merry way under the assumption that EVERYONE ELSE is the problem.

(If you ever look at the social justice or otherkin tumblrs, you’ll know what I mean.  If you haven’t read them, never do this.)

Why do people develop this?  It’s because they begin to see who they are, which is a good thing, but get an unfounded sense of vainglory, pride, and self-importance at who they are, which is a bad thing.  They think that because they’re the only ones who can be them and do the things they do, this makes them special or otherwise rare in the world, and end up developing a persecuted savior mindset because why can’t you treat them like the unique holy thing that they are, bawwwwwwwww.  They don’t need to consult others or get external input on what they’re doing or supposed to be doing, because clearly they already know everything they need to know about their special role.  Like a snowflake, they must be unique, and therefore are to be cherished by the masses.  I see this developing in no small number of magical people who suddenly realize “o hej, I can do magickqzs!” and think that they are the biggest shit ever.  Sadly, in the process, they actually do become the biggest shit ever, but not in the sense they desire.

I like to keep myself well-grounded and humble enough to prevent this from happening to me, bordering on self-depreciation and overmodesty.  In fact, it’s why I make a special prayer of humility fairly often to keep myself from getting too carried off in my own delusions of grandeur.  Even if I’m one of the few chosen to do magic, why should I be necessarily praised for essentially just doing my job?  Even if I’m a holy power chosen by the Almighty, why wouldn’t I recognize that same in every other human and entity alive?  Maybe it’s the weirdness and glamour of magic itself that still strikes me as weird, that fascination with this arcane and maligned yet powerful art that can change the course of nations and individuals alike.  But even so, can’t I say the same thing about my computer science skills and my current workplace, where I work with significant economic data used in thousands upon thousands of contracts and analyses daily across my country and the world?  Can’t I say the same thing about the jobs and work of others, too?  Can’t I say the same thing about others generally, too?  Just because I’m chosen for a particular necessary role doesn’t diminish the necessity of other roles or those chosen for them.  Just because I’m helping out the world in my own small way doesn’t make me a savior for the masses, it makes me a small gear in the great machinery of creation.  Just because I’m told to do magic doesn’t make me special, it makes me understand that my minor job in a world of jobs is the best one for me and I’m the best person in a world of people for it.

Yes, I may be a special snowflake, but there are also a lot of snowflakes out there.  It’s only upon microscopic inspection that any one snowflake can be meaningfully differentiated from the others; at any other larger distance, snow is one large undifferentiated mass (barring contaminants, pollution, or dense packs of ice, of course).  Snow falls and is natural, and each flake contributes to the weather; we enjoy the snow, but we don’t necessarily care about or notice any one particular flake.  One snowflake does not make a blizzard and lasts for no time at all on its own.

Essential Dignity

Being what I am and growing up the way I did, politically speaking, I’m pretty liberal.  I don’t often like to talk about politics, mostly because it’s become to polarized as of late to the point where it’s pretty pointless, but it doesn’t stop me from getting on Reddit (/r/politics/) or Wonkette to read up on current and political events and periodically getting incensed by some of the BS I keep reading, political or otherwise.  It’s gotten so bad that I, horrible at remembering who’s who amongst the talking heads, can pick out a number of politicians or other political speakers by face and name.  For someone who almost takes a perverse pride in not keeping up on pop culture, this is kinda embarrassing.

I’m gay.  I think the government should collect taxes to provide for the people in whatever ways the people agree to.  I think people should benefit each other though a centralized collection agency to distribute funds and resources appropriately for all people to benefit equally from the system.  I think the government should protect one’s ability to choose (birth control, religion, speech, gun control, marriage, etc.) instead of enforcing one of many choices (often from a particular religious standpoint).  These are only a few of the positions I take on current events and issues, and I’m not bringing this up to discuss them here.  I understand that a lot of these positions make a lot of people angry, often irrationally so, and some of these traits (namely the one that drives me to date, love, and fuck whom I will) will also incite violent or murderous tendencies against me, which is really a shame.  And I know many politicians or popular leaders, both in my country and in many others, who claim that I’m an abomination and deserve death for my oh-so-sinful ways because I’m just so icky.

And I look at pictures of these political and public leaders claiming for my death or incarceration, or the politicians trying to legislate that all people follow the tenets of a particular line of a particular sect of a particular religion no matter how draconian they may be, or those who insist on taxing lower-income people at higher rates than higher-income people across the board.  I see them next to the headlines of the awful, bigoted things they say, which makes me angry at their faces and pictures.  I don’t do emotion very well, but anger and I get along nicely, and I indulge myself in that kind of fiery feeling when it comes to policy and politics.  Sometimes, I want to turn their heated rhetoric right back on them.

But then I realize that if I took away the headlines and just had the pictures…well, I’d just see pictures of people.  Older men and women in suits.  Sometimes younger people leading other people.  People who are human, just like me.  People who had a mother and a father with their own problems.  People with their own hopes, dreams, aspirations, worries, and fears.  People who were born and who will eventually die.  People who have illnesses and day-to-day concerns about their health and livelihoods, no matter how fortunate or unfortunate.  People who had an upbringing with experience that taught them the things they know.  People who laugh and cry and get angry and get sad and fall in love and fall down heartbroken.  People who sometimes work and who sometimes relax, who sometimes like getting mired in the world and who sometimes need to escape.  People who have their own set of circumstances, context, and setting to deal with and who gave them the head start or handicap they have.  People who breathe, who bleed, who get sick, who get injured.  People who are human, just like me.

I realize that I and some of the politicians and leaders may have differences of opinion or philosophy, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still people.  Even though our thoughts on the world shape it for ourselves, it doesn’t change the fact that they still have to live and work with other humans.  If I were to swap the names and political views of two politicians, one whom I liked and one whom I disliked, it wouldn’t change their nature from essentially human, with all the dignity and damnation that humanity accords. 

In astrology, the planets aren’t constant in their power.  Depending on where a planet can be found, how fast a planet’s going, or what other astrological factors combine with the planet, its strength or ability to exert force on the world can wax or wane.  This strength is called dignity, which can either be accidental (based on non-locational astrological factors) or essential (related to the zodiac and the planet’s location in it).  Different planets are strong or weak in different places in the zodiac.  However, humans aren’t planets, and humans are greater than the sum of all the planets and elements and all the other forces in the cosmos.  Humans, unlike planets, never wax or wane in their essential dignity.  Humans always have dignity, no matter which human.

I just wish more people could realize the essential dignity of others as well as their own.  I’m not calling for some utopian brotherhood of man for us all to awaken to (though that’d be nice), but it hurts to see other people denigrating others as being less than human.  When you lay invective against the “Other”, making them seem animal or feral or viral or subhuman, you make it easy to mistreat them, even if you don’t believe the invective yourself.  When you forget that other people are still people, you forget that they have a stake in the world just as much as you do.  When you neglect another’s essential dignity, you make it easy for others to neglect your own dignity, perpetuating a cycle of hate and denigration.  And when you forsake the dignity of another, you prepare yourself for committing acts that are themselves inhuman and unfit for humanity.

Please, guys.  If you find yourself making a joke, or a snide comment, or even an unspoken thought that makes some “Other” inferior to yourself, that denigrates them, or that neglects their own personal, human concerns, catch yourself.  I don’t know how many of my readers do this, or whether this little rant of mine will at all affect the greater world, but come on, guys.  Part of the Great Work is to reclaim our race and heritage, which is both divine and human.  If all things are divine, then all things at one point or another are One, and thus we are all equals in the cosmic scheme of things.  Maintain that equality, remember that we all have the same essential dignity.  Treat others accordingly.

I brought up my political views above to make a point about polarization and differences of views not being a difference in essential humanity, not to discuss them with my readers.  That’s not the focus of this blog or this post, and any comments trying to discuss them or incite a debate on these topics will be deleted.

Strict Subsets Misunderstood

I have a love-hate relationship with humanity, really. I love individual persons, or at least, more than I do groups of people. The geomantic figure Populus, for instance, demonstrates my reason fairly well: it represents a mass of people, as well as total passivity. Whatever energy is put into the figure turns the whole mass into that energy; all it requires for action is some stimulus, after which the whole thing follows through. The problem is making sure the stimulus is the correct one, which is always harder than it sounds. Individual people, on the other hand, are better represented by Populus’ inverse, Via: it is a symbol of solitude, but also of complete change. Within one’s self, they have all the energy and direction to accomplish anything. Again, the problem is that they need the right direction, but more often than not, the effects of many people are more strongly felt than one person.

I was reading an article on how fragile the Internet was (a post on that coming soon!), and one of the things listed was how the Internet is quickly becoming a big box store. Take, for example, Facebook. Its Facebook Connect program allows people with a valid Facebook login to use a variety of other services such as AIM, Hulu, Digg, Blogger, Twitter, and so forth. This article talks at length about how this is becoming more and more the case. Essentially, Facebook is following a “one-stop shop” model on the Internet. Convenient? Certainly! Helpful? That remains to be seen.

Something I can always count on in humanity is its collective ignorance; even when some people rightly point out the correct way to do things, or when others do the wrong thing and should be noticed for it, the majority of people ignore the lesson and continue doing something the way they have been. Take, for example, the article posted above. Since its primary topic is on Facebook logins, one may search (on Google or Bing or what have you) “facebook login”. Normally, this query would be reserved to find the actual Facebook login page, which is what many people apparently did. Observing the comments (almost 50 pages), the vast majority of them are people confused about “Facebook’s new layout” and wondering why it won’t let them log in.

Yes, most people mistook that blog site for the Facebook login page because they were looking for “facebook login”. They were so confused that they found the comment box and posted their concerns or anger at not being able to log in. They were so confused that they didn’t read the other comments explaining that this wasn’t, in fact, Facebook, nor did they read the giant warning in bold text at the beginning of the article explaining that this was, nor was it ever, Facebook. Massive groan.

My housemate had a similar story: her mother was trying to login to Facebook, but was at her GMail login screen. My friend was utterly confused at what her mother was trying to do, and her mother explained that Facebook sends her emails. Thus, her email must be Facebook. Or something like this; the apparent logic is lost on me.

I suppose a number people have forgotten that the Internet is more than just the WWW, and that the WWW is more than just Google’s services or Facebook. Or, probably a better rephrasing of this is that most people never understood this in the first place. The Internet is not, at its heart, a profound secret held under pain of death: it is a collection of networks based directly off human systems and previous technological systems that people, by and large, already understand. That so many people continue to be illiterate (metaphorically and literally, judging on people’s grammar and spelling) is shocking, and I wonder sometimes how many places manage to continue running without total collapse.