Landscape Guy has a wonderful saying for those times when everything just seems to be going wrong: “The Moon must be in the House of Caca.”
I’m not sure that I’d go that far, but the last few days have made quite clear that Mercury is, indeed, in Retrograde. And, I’ll gladly blame Mercury for the odd computer glitches, the miscommunications, the travel hangups, the fact that, this afternoon, the guy at the deli asked me if I wanted lettuce and tomato on my BLT (Hecate: “Yes, please. Thank you. That would be lovely.” Then they gave it to me on whole wheat, when I’d asked for white. (I asked for a Stolichnia martini once and the waitress came back to my table and said, “We don’t have that vodka you asked for, but we have Stoli.” Hecate: “Yes, please. Thank you. That would be lovely.” A bit later the waitress came back. “Were you making fun of me?” Hecate: “No. Not at all.”)) etc. It doesn’t surprise me that the chaos gets turned up a notch during Mercury’s travel backwards.
But for the really big problems of our time (out of control corporatists, a weak, peevish president, a planet responding to centuries of abuse, riots in London that will cost more to clean up than would have simple social justice (hat tip: Susie Madrak,)) as the Bard explained in Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars – But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” For “underlings,” I guess we can substitute: lazy, spoiled Americans who’d rather watch another episode of Dancing with the Stars (OK, we’re Pagans. I guess that I should substitute “Robin Hood,” or “Buffy,” or “True Blood” for DwtS) or head off to The Mall to buy more empty material promises of happiness than dig in and do the necessary work.” But the result is the same.
I think I was in my late twenties when I came to the (startling, for me) realization that many of the problems in my life were due, more than anything, to the fact that I kept wanting to pretend that things would work out even when, deep down, I knew they wouldn’t/couldn’t/probably shouldn’t. I won’t say that a lifetime of Disneyfied fairy tales and, later, bodice-ripper paperbacks, and, even later, New Age/New Thought tomes hadn’t given me reason to imagine that if I just believed “enough,” I could turn a sow’s ear (of a job, of a lover, of a relationship, of an organization) into a silk purse. But, in the end, those Candlewicks didn’t have to work too hard to make their sale. It took a few painful demonstrations (I can be a remarkably slow learner and then there’s the whole stubbornness that comes from a Moon in Taurus (so perhaps I can convince myself that the fault lies in, if not my stars, then my Moon)) for the universe to convince me that, generally, ignoring reality is not a very good idea.
And I think, in too many ways, that’s at the core of many of our major troubles. We know what needs to be done. It’s just that it’s so damn hard.
We know that deregulation leads to people who have to have “rape and pillage, then burn” tattooed on their forearms far more than it “encourages ‘innovation'”. We know that trickle down economics doesn’t even trickle (much less, gush) down. We know that you can’t continually shit where you eat without rather quickly being reduced to a diet of shit. We know that major recessions turn into depressions absent a WPA effort. We know that infrastructure crumbles unless you rebuild it. We know that we can’t treat teachers, police, and first responders like crap and expect to be supported in our old age by an educated next generation, to live in a safe society, or to be attended in the ambulance by someone who isn’t more worried about making their rent than they are about our medical care. We know that conducting the endless wars of empire is even less basis for a system of government than “strange women lying in ponds distributing swords.” We have, if nothing else, the benefit of a long, recorded history.
And, yet, we either allow ourselves to be beguiled one more time (this time it will be different; I really believe it this time) or we just can’t muster up the will to deal with reality. (And, Goddess knows,”the struggle” can be tiring, can feel thankless, can be difficult to maintain the face of teavangelical activism.) It’s easier for Obama to believe that if he just comes to DC as a “transformational” president, keeps trying to “reach out” in a spirit of “bipartisanship” to the Republicans, well, then “the culture of Washington” will “change” and, suddenly, it will all be OK. It’s easier for each of us to go on shopping at Walmart, watching tv, telling ourselves that someday we’ll “move to the country” and live in a lovely Pagan paradise. It’s easier to hope that maybe a technological miracle will come along and create energy at the same time that it removes carbon from the atmosphere. It’s easier to do a spell that will definitely, positively, surely this time give us the winning lottery numbers.
But, in fact (pace, Ms. Rich for being taken a bit out of context), “we can’t live like that: we take on everything at once before we’ve even begun to read or mark time; we’re forced to begin in the midst of the hard movement, the one already sounding as we are born.” We didn’t, entirely “start the fire. It was always burning, since the world’s been turning.” But, as we all really know, eventually, a poorly-built structure will crumble and someone will have to dig out from the ruins and begin the painful work of reconstruction. Eventually, you’ll have to leave the can-never-hold-a-job abusive partner, pay off all the bills s/he ran up, work two jobs to get things back on track, start over again (and the longer you wait, the more bills s/he’ll have run up). Eventually, we’ll have to restrain corporations, develop a reasonable method of sharing our resources, stop polluting our planet, find a way to restrain population.
Which is all a longer-than-I-planned wind-up to saying:
*Chaotic times makes it even more necessary for us to breathe. Ground. Center. Engage in a serious daily practice. The temptation is to ignore these as unnecessary luxuries now, while London, the stock market, the planet are burning. The truth is that chaos makes daily practice even more necessary. We are none of us so amazing that we can deal with this mess without breathing, grounding, centering, practicing.
*Now, in the middle of a Retrograde Mercury, is a wonderful time to go back and finish unfinished business. Straighten things out. Get your files in order. Stock your pantry. Darn those holy (and holey) socks. In the words of Westeros, “Winter’s Coming.” I don’t think anyone knows exactly when it’s coming, how long it will last, or how cold it will be. But you’re unlikely to regret having gotten your house in order.
*If you can grow any of your own food, or can barter a service (doing taxes, cleaning house, computer repair) to someone who does, do it now.
*Find one thing you can do to help to Repair The Web. Do it. Now. Keep doing it.
*And, in the end, for times when Eris and Discordia reign, I can’t offer better advice than Wendell Berry‘s:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
May it be so for you.
Picture found here.