Saturday, November 29, 2014

Goat Boy

Why aren’t there more zines like Goat Boy?

A few months ago, I was lamenting to my BrisVegas comrade, Tamara Lazaroff, about the lack of esoteric zines produced by DIY defenders; a whine-fest that resulted in the formation of the panel Spiritual Conversations with Punks at the Zine and Independent Comics Symposium (ZICS) in August. Tamara’s involvement in establishing this panel included the arduous task of finding zinesters whose work is spiritually or esoterically themed. Not an easy feat considering that the zeitgeist dictates topics of a fluffy nature. So, it was a delight to acquire Goat Boy (as part of a trade with its creator, Animalbro) and to discover that it’s a zine dedicated to the Greek god, Pan.

For the uninitiated, Pan, in Greek and Roman mythology, is the god of nature, shepherds, hunting, and rustic music. He is linked to the Spring Equinox and fertility, and is an archetype of male virility and rugged sexuality. His physical attributes – legs and horns of a goat – classify him as a faun or a satyr in art and literature and allot him the astrological sign of Capricorn. The Christianisation of Greek and Roman mythology marred Pan as the personification of Satan or Evil; an association highly popular in Victorian and Edwardian Neopaganism. Hence, his connection with the Devil card in the Major Arcana of traditional Tarot decks such as Rider-Waite-Smith.

Goat Boy is an old school zine. A straightforward, sixteen-page, black and white job, it doesn’t depend on glossy or pretentious production techniques to impress the reader because it contains a unique selling point: substance. The zine is a measured balance of text and images. It’s well written and loaded with narratives from various cultures, subcultures, and civilizations. The illustration selection displays the many interpretations of Pan by artists such as Sydney Long, Mikhail Vrubel, and Animalbro herself. Included are diagrams of the physical components that configure Pan, such as horns, hair, human and goat DNA, and the interconnectedness of these parts to the natural cycles and to the Divine.

The most surprising thing for me, though, was to discover that the American comedian, Bill Hicks, propagated (if that is the correct word) the concept of ‘Goat Boy’. His posthumous book, Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics and Routines of Bill Hicks (2004), contains evidence of this. The hero of the zine’s title is Bill Hicks’ version of Pan: a randy but good-natured goat through which Hicks celebrates his own irrepressible libido.

It’s refreshing to encounter a zine like Goat Boy amid the plethora of great nothingness that dominates modern zine culture. I hope Animalbro continues to create work of this caliber, and that it reaches a wide audience. She deserves the accolades. You can purchase Goat Boy and other works by Animalbro at and

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's Time: the Passing of Gough Whitlam

‘He was a man. Take him for all in all, I will not look upon his like again’Shakespeare (Hamlet)

‘Dying will happen sometime. As you know, I plan for the ages, not just for this life’ Gough Whitlam, 11 July 1916 to 21 October 2014

The passing of Edward Gough Whitlam, on 21 October 2014 at the age of ninety-eight, has divided the nation into Gough enthusiasts and detractors while generating a tumult of emotions from both camps - an almost spooky re-enactment of the 1975 Dismissal. Whatever the triumphs or shortfalls of his government were, it’s difficult to dispute Whitlam’s role in our country’s development. Labor politician, Tanya Plibersek, stated that it was fitting that Whitlam was Australia’s twenty-first prime minister because it marked our nation’s coming of age. Under Whitlam, Australia changed the way it saw itself, helping to create an open, inclusive, and compassionate society.

In its three short years (1972 to 1975), the Labor government under Whitlam activated, with lightning speed, the policies that engineered social change, dragging Australia into the modern era. For those who remember a pre-Whitlam Australia will recall a dreary and insular period of the White Australia policy, protectionism, and social conservatism; a sleepy, cultural backwater wangled by the Menzies government in the 1950s. Australia bypassed the 1960s altogether. While hippies experienced free love and wore flowers in their hair in San Francisco and other parts of the world, Australia was comfortably slumbering in a social and cultural coma.

To give a clearer picture, 1960s Australia went something like this:
  • left wing political movements were under routine surveillance
  • James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses, was banned, as was Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • there was no film industry to speak of
  • the music scene was a joke
  • talented Australians such as Germaine Greer, Clive James, Barry Humphries, Brett Whitley, and The Easybeats left the country to gain recognition elsewhere
  • the contraceptive pill was only available to married women
  • abortion was illegal
  • single mothers, homosexuals, and lesbians were ostracised from mainstream society
  • women and children abused in toxic nuclear families were invisible and lived lives of quiet desperation
  • women in general were treated as second class citizens and were denied the social and financial opportunities gifted to men
  • indigenous and new Australians (Italians, Greeks, and Lebanese) were low on the social and political rung (Aboriginal land rights were not recognised and indigenous people did not have the vote)
Need I go on?

By the early 1970s, social change was germinating. The Labor party's 1972 campaign’s catchphrase, It’s Time, adds up to 32/5, which signals a shift in consciousness. Whitlam was extolled as an Agent of Change (Uranus bi-quintile the Ascendant/Uranus quintile Jupiter on the Midheaven/Moon semi-square Pluto). A psychically loaded birthdate – 11 July – expresses Messiah-like qualities. Such was his persona that he was applauded for introducing reforms that were already in place (such as no-fault divorce and the removal of troops from Vietnam). A mythological figure with a penchant for cherishing ideals that weren’t always practical, Whitlam reached for a higher ground (first house Neptune square Jupiter on the Midheaven). An influential 26/8 life path denotes a visionary leader of Roman God proportions with the ability to direct the Australian Labor Party out of the wilderness of twenty-three years of conservative rule.

A Stellium of planets in Cancer (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and Pluto) indicates a strong humanitarian streak. Whitlam was genuinely interested in and concerned about people. He cared deeply and intensely about his country, and had the ability to regenerate it (Scorpio Moon as chart ruler in the fourth house). A fourth house Scorpio Moon can dramatically end certain life phases, as illustrated by the dismissal of Whitlam’s government on 11 November 1975 (transiting Sun eclipsed his natal Moon). Altruism is expressed via the Jupiter conjunct Midheaven quintile Uranus aspect:

‘In spite of repeated disappointments, he never lost that faith in humanity. This, above all, made him such an attractive human being’
Mungo MacCallum, political journalist
The Whitlam family’s own experience of living in the post war electorate of Werriwa highlighted the disadvantages in education, health, housing and infrastructure that were prevalent in Sydney’s western suburbs. Whitlam tried to correct the deficiencies that Australians in the new suburbs such as his were facing (even up to the 1970s, Sydney’s outer areas such as Blacktown and Penrith lacked sewerage systems, for example). For Whitlam, government was an instrument to improve life for all Australians. He took public service seriously (Sun conjunct Saturn sextile Jupiter on Midheaven).

As a politician, Whitlam was incorruptible (Jupiter conjunct Midheaven). He shaped public opinion and didn’t pander to focus groups or big business (Jupiter conjunct Midheaven quintile Uranus square Moon semi-square Pluto/Moon quintile North Node). Whitlam possessed an independent mind and a unique way of looking at the world. Quick witted and good with words, he had a wide variety of interests and an impressive body of general knowledge (Mercury sextile Jupiter/Mercury conjunct Pluto), qualities severely lacking in our current batch of political leaders. He also believed that education was the key to equal opportunity.
A highly physical Taurus in Jupiter sits on the Midheaven. Liberal frontbencher, Malcolm Turnbull, states that what people remember most about Whitlam is ‘a bigness, a generosity, an enormous optimism’. Indeed, at 194 centremetres tall, he was an inescapable human tower of power and fortitude. Smugness is often associated with this aspect. Modesty was never Gough Whitlam’s strong point:
‘He was someone who, whether in a small room … or at a public event, everyone else seemed to fade to black and white, while this giant of a man – physically, intellectually – appeared in full colour and dominated wherever he was’Anthony Albanese, Labor politician.

To list and elaborate on the changes brought about by the Whitlam government would require a sizeable amount of blog space. I don’t need to regurgitate what is already (better) articulated across the internet and in modern history books. But I do want to mention Whitlam’s commitment to culture (Stellium in Cancer/Venus conjunct Pluto/Venus sextile Jupiter-Midheaven), because it’s one of those formative things that shaped me as a young person, especially the birth of one of his more exciting ventures, that of a youth radio station in 1975 - Double J (now Triple J). Idealistic young Australians in the late 1970s and 1980s enjoyed the opportunity to form bands and develop their craft free from exorbitant financial constraints. Punk rock, with its anti-establishment philosophy, gained momentum in the mid-1970s as both a musical genre and a lifestyle choice. This newly found DIY culture influenced kids from the suburbs to create some of Australia’s most innovative and experimental music. Double J was instrumental in giving this underground scene a voice. In retrospect, it’s difficult to believe that the following bands – some of them considered unlistenable – were given air time:
~ Severed Heads ~ Tactics ~ Boys Next Door ~ The Birthday Party ~ Radio Birdman ~ The Scientists ~ The Saints ~ SPK ~ The Riptides ~ Machinations ~ Laughing Clowns ~ The Triffids ~ The Go Betweens ~ David Virgin ~ Primitive Calculators ~ The Stems ~ Died Pretty ~ Sekret Sekret ~ Sardine ~ Do Re Mi ~ X ~ The Eastern Dark ~ Wet Taxis ~ The Celibate Rifles ~ The Sunnyboys ~ Cosmic Pyschos ~ The Hard-Ons ~ The Plunderers ~ Pel Mel ~ Mark of Cain ~ La Femme ~ The Riptides ~ Makers of the Dead Travel Fast ~ The Numbers ~ Toys Went Berserk ~ The Moodists ~ Box of Fish ~ Scared Cowboys ~ XL Capris ~ TISM ~ The Whitlams (of course) …
Love or hate him, it’s almost impossible to feel indifferent about Gough Whitlam. I’m not alone in my yearning for that era when politics was open, positive, and about governing citizens instead of managing the economy at the cost of civil liberties. The Whitlam government certainly had its flaws, but it always pushed the boundaries of stifling conservatism. Before fear and greed kicked in, vision was still considered an honourable quality in a leader. Gough envisioned that Australia could be a progressive, exciting, and benevolent society where equality of opportunity belonged to everyone. Oh, how far we have fallen. In the name of Edward Gough Whitlam, we need to maintain the rage.

Vale, Gough.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Return of Kate Bush

‘Kate Bush is that old-fashioned thing: an artist’Mark Radcliffe, BBC broadcaster

Kate Bush’s return to the stage with her Before the Dawn concerts in London feels like the second coming. Not surprising, considering that her first and last performance was in 1979. Apart from brief spikes in commercial success over three decades, Kate has avoided the entertainment industry machine. She is an anathema in the music business because a) she is serious about her craft, b) she loathes celebrity culture, and c) she plays by her rules. You don’t get a lot of a), b) or c) in these market-driven times.

I remember seeing Kate’s celebrated video for Wuthering Heights on the Saturday morning music show, Sounds, in 1979. I was mesmerised by its entirety: her impressive vocal range; her gypsy-inspired outfit; those witchy, agile dance moves; Dave Gilmour’s whiny guitar riff … like many people of my generation, Kate Bush never really faded from my consciousness; a testament to her multi-faceted capacity to create exceptional music.

Kate’s resurgence amongst the refuse of BeyoncĂ©-type divas is timely, thanks to the current Jupiter transit which touched her natal Leo Sun-Uranus conjunction in mid-August, prior to her concert series commencing on 26 August. Jupiter entered Leo on 16 July 2014 for a thirteen-month residency. The giant planet prompts us to expand our experience. It represents optimism, joy, and abundance. With Jupiter in Leo, we gain opportunities to blossom through creative self-expression. Kate said that her decision to return to live performance was based on a ‘real desire to have contact with the audience that still like my work’. Radio2 broadcaster, Michael Ball, who attended the final concert in early October, described it as ‘sublime towering artistry’.

Jupiter in Leo tends to focus on image, and the subject of Kate’s physical beauty as a young woman is unavoidable (natal Jupiter in Libra conjunct her North Node). Fortunately, her Aquarius Moon accentuates originality (and possibly eccentricity) and counterbalances any egocentricity her Leo Sun holds. Her Sun, Uranus and Moon combine with Mars in Taurus and Neptune in Scorpio to form a Grand Cross in Fixed signs. The Sun-Uranus link is indicative of ingenuity. Uranus in Leo on the point of a T square makes Kate a trailblazer with a tendency for obstinacy (she split from her first record company, EMI, because she wanted more control). She needs to work toward her Libra Jupiter-North Node conjunction and learn to compromise a little. Mental intensity comes courtesy of a Virgo Mercury-Pluto conjunction. Taboo subjects are explored with intelligence and weaved through ephemeral vocal and instrumental arrangements that draw on folklore, esotericism, and sensuality (Mars-Neptune opposition). Her 1982 song, The Dreaming, is a great example of this:

It isn’t surprising that due to an overwhelming response to her long-awaited comeback, Kate Bush has been nominated for two Q Awards: Best Act in the World Today and Best Live Act. She became the first female artist to have eight albums in the UK charts at the same time. Her songs have been covered by a diverse range of musicians, from Futureheads and Placebo to Coldplay and Tina Arena. It’s as if the world is celebrating her universal appeal under the Leo Jupiter cycle. Deservedly so.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days on Earth is a fictitious account of the 20,000th day of the life of Australian musician-songwriter-author-screenwriter-composer-actor-national treasure, Nick Cave. Filmed during the recording of his 2013 album Push the Sky Away, this documentary blurs the line between fantasy and realism; gently mocking the modern anathemas of reality television and social media, and our insecurities of having to document every sordid detail of our dreary lives for the approbation of others.

On the surface, it appears that 20,000 Days evolved organically: casual encounters with ghosts from Cave’s past; spontaneous dialogue with Bad Seed member, Warren Ellis; a stilted session with a Freudian psychoanalyst; and nostalgia for a particular moment in time while rummaging through archival material. The film is, in fact, a carefully structured collection of staged scenarios in which Cave and his contemporaries improvise within the boundaries of a storyboard.
What I surmised from this stylish documentary is that Cave is a stable and secure individual in synch with the creative process. At age fifty-six, he should be. Cave is portrayed as a self-assured and slightly pompous figure, but we can forgive him for that. After all, he is Nick Cave. He describes Boys Next Door and Birthday Party members, Rowland S Howard and Tracey Pew (who have passed away), as ‘being born already formed’; a fitting juxtaposition for himself who hints at only having just arrived. Cave has grown into his Sun in Virgo and it shows throughout the film.
Through the viewfinder that is 20,000 Days on Earth, I see the man with a Stellium of planets in Virgo (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Pluto). There is concentrated power within a Stellium. It provides the individual with focused energy, perhaps even with tunnel vision. Indeed, 20,000 Days omits the big picture. It concerns itself with routine, and the lens captures Cave’s fondness for the nitty-gritty of writing ingeniously. He is the office worker in a respectable suit, stabbing keys on a manual typewriter like a Luddite. Words are scratched in blue ink and highlighted with fluro marker pens in bulging notebooks containing typed notes cut and pasted in the old school way. Cave’s cosmic DNA confirms that he values the practical details of work, a point not entirely missed by the filmmakers.
For me, the highpoint was Cave’s stopover at Warren Ellis’ home in France, where they share a meal of eels and black tea. It is through Ellis’ amusing anecdote of singer Nina Simone (and her addiction to champagne, cocaine, and sausages) that I grasp how meaningful and fertile their relationship is.
You have to marvel at Nick Cave. He has successfully covered ground in various art forms, yet remains a marginal and mythical figure in the music industry. 20,000 Days on Earth dispels some of the myth by showing a grounded side to the man many revere as a Goth God or whatever. With tight Moon-Pluto and Venus-Neptune aspects in his birth chart, we need to keep believing in the mythology of Nick Cave (a point that he touches on during the driving scene with the actor, Ray Winstone).

Friday, September 5, 2014

Spiritual Conversations with Punks

I was invited by the lovely zinester, Tamara Lazaroff (Prisoner of Macedonia fame), to be part of this panel titled Spiritual Conversations with Punks at the Zine and Independent Comics Symposium (ZICS), Brisbane in August 2014. I almost chickened-out due to nerves, but was glad to finally go through with it, as it was an irrational fear that I needed to conquer sooner rather than later. The panel consisted of Bianca Valentino, creator of the zine Spiritual Conversations with Punx, Andy Paine who has a radio show on Brisbane's 4ZZZ (and who creates a truckload of spiritual DIY material), and the wandering seer of Brisbane, Sarah Muller, who writes and publishes the most eloquent poetry you'll ever read. I'm flattered that Tamara thought I was punk enough to be on this panel. The discussion covered the often overlooked topic of spiritual content in zine making. The talk was well-received by a supportive and interested audience. That hackneyed phrase is true: feel the fear and do it anyway.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Astrobabble goes to Repressed Records

Due to disappointment and lack of support, I have ceased dealing with all Australian zine distribution centres. I wish them well on the rocky road to zine-hipster Hell.

On a lighter note, issues nine and ten of Astrobabble are available at Repressed Records in Newtown, Sydney. Repressed and Red Eye Records are now the only two stores on the planet stocking my zine. Sure, I've shrunk my readership base to less than zero, but it is easier for me to manage zine distribution entirely in my home city while I work on getting a life. Repressed Records is located at 413 King Street Newtown and is staffed by the irrepressible Nic Warnock, who I hear is a bit of a legend in the Sydney music scene. Oh, those young people and their rock 'n' roll ...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Astro Shite for April 2014

The much talked-about (by me) Cardinal Grand Cross peaks on 23 April. Your quest to take on and complete various projects fails, thanks to being pulled in four directions (and not in a sexual way, I might add). This transit teaches you that multi-tasking is severely over-rated. Do the unthinkable: choose one task and complete it. What?! The period between 5 April and 3 May is one of your most spiritual. Escape the daily grind by grinding fair trade coffee beans in the Byron Bay Hinterland while loosely draped in cheesecloth. Mercury enters Aries on 7 April, awkwardly coinciding with the Section 18C amendment. Say no more.
Aries superfoods: onions, tomatoes, chilli

Mercury enters your sign on 23 April followed by the New Moon in Taurus on 28 April. These cycles set the scene for slow and steady movement. Savour the moments and be grateful for them. Revitalise a stagnant undertaking, like that failed two-minute noodle perm, under the Mercury-Jupiter-Pluto connection, and watch it spring to life. Expect unexpected down time around 2 April, as Uranus activates your house of retreat and lowers your blood pressure in one fell swoop.
Taurus superfoods: beans, peas, carrots

Venus’ affirmative energy helps you shift old zine stock and provides inspiration to create fresh DIY masterworks. You’ll be in a gregarious mood until 23 April. Your social experiences get (even more) twisted and unpredictable between 2 and 14 April, crashing Instagram with your snapshots of alternative uses for dental floss. Eeeek! You’ll have time to reflect on your dickhead actions at the end of the month when you’re ostracized by the Gods to the house of prisons, hospitals, and mental asylums out of embarrassment.
Gemini superfoods: asparagus, sprouts, mushrooms

The Sun, Mercury, and Venus highlight work issues on 2 April. Your slippery boss may have wet dreams of replacing you and the rest of the staff with androids while he organises his trip to Tahiti, but fortunately, Venus steps in to steer you in the direction of teaching, writing, and some healthy zine-making activity. Yay! The New Moon in your social sector on 28 April gives you the green light to expand your network by moving in creative circles.
Cancer superfoods: fish, lettuce, parsley

Uranus generates restlessness from 2 April, urging you to stowaway on a ferryboat to see where it takes you: terminus #8 at Circular Quay, I presume. Experiment with unconventional philosophies such as Compatibilism and Cannibalism, but watch your cholesterol level. The Sun, Mercury, and Venus combine in your professional zone to help you make your mark with that inevitable Leo stamp - lipstick. Nobody can pucker a pout for success the way a Lion can.
Leo superfoods: eggs, raisins, lentils

Your most romantic period begins on 5 April. You’ll radiate desirability in an office administrator kinda way. Comprises are negotiated and others are content to meet you halfway in the open-plan office behind the stationery cupboard. You get an extra dose of lovin’ on 12 April when Neptune joins in. Fine wine, scented candles, and that tin of Catholic biscuits reserved for the executive department help set the scene for a special rendezvous. Late April is an excellent time to broaden your world by activating the right side of the brain with wanky-arty pursuits.
Virgo superfoods: beetroot, figs, almonds

The Full Moon in your sign combined with the Cardinal Grand Cross adds tension to a nagging issue. This is not the time to sweep your dirty laundry under the carpet or to air the two birds in your bush. In fact, this cycle asks that you avoid idioms altogether. They’re a dime among the pigeons. The Moon and Mars fly the flag for peace, while Venus and Neptune provide compassion. Ask what you can do to improve the planet without tapping a tambourine with your hip. Look to fellow Librans - Ghandi and Simon Cowell - for inspiration.
Libra superfoods: celery, corn, spinach

Creativity peaks for many Scorpions between 5 April and 3 May, thanks to the artistic force that is Venus. You’ll be bursting with ideas for zine creation. Get excited and share your passions with kindred spirits. This transit demands that you quit your usual scheming and scamming and have some fun for a change. Oh, I forgot; scheming and scamming is your idea of fun. Silly me!
Scorpio superfoods: rhubarb, kale, liver

Between 17 and 24 April, values surrounding money and how it’s distributed amongst family will weigh heavily on your mind like Gina Reinhart on a ski lift. The days of frozen TV dinners stuck to the kitchen ceiling are over now that Venus is adding her personal touch to your seedy share house. Expect an interesting twist to your love life between 2 and 14 April when you’re greeted by your concubine with a Chinese burn. Despite the discomfort, you go about your business with the zest of an orange. Avoid spray tans.
Sagittarius superfoods: red cabbage, parsnips, oats

There is change on the domestic front for the Goat between 2 and 14 April. You are drawn to the Vortex hot spots of Sedona, Montserrat, and Rooty Hill RSL. The New Moon on 28 April sparks a creative surge. Traditional art techniques are resurrected as you ditch the Modbook Pro for a Goat Hair Mop 3/4. Relationships will have an exaggerated but transformative quality between 17 and 24 April, thanks to the Pluto-Jupiter tango and some seriously sexy Bomba rhythms.
Capricorn superfoods: cheese, prunes, rye

‘Abundance’ is the keyword under the Venus transit between 5 April and 3 May. The hot action money date is 12 April when you hit the local TAB and blow two weeks’ pay. You’ll want to lounge around your abode more than usual under the New Moon of 28 April. Get you living space sorted by weeding, cleaning, and purifying it. You may not believe it, but undertaking housework is an act of magic. Ask any witch.
Aquarius superfoods: barley, apples, figs

You’ll be at home in your watery element when Venus and Neptune occupy Pisces from 5 April. Immerse yourself in the ocean and reconnect with your cosmic environment. April is the month for self-care, so be gentle with yourself. Financial matters are emphasised on 15 April. Cluey detective work unearths hidden capital lodged inside your Converse Chuck Taylors. I love it when the Universe solves those perplexing money mysteries.
Pisces superfoods: bilberries, cucumbers, dates

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Cardinal Grand Cross

April 2014 heralds a rare astrological event. The ongoing square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn peaks when Jupiter in Cancer and Mars in Libra participate to form a Cardinal Grand Cross. These planets create a stressed, crucifix pattern: two pairs oppose each other and two pairs square each other. This challenging configuration indicates a demand to confront and transform established social and political structures that are corrupt and broken.

The Cardinal Grand Cross is shaped by these aspects and plays out in the following way:
  • Uranus square Pluto: radical social, economic and political upheaval, national debt crises, sexism and gender issues, racism and ethnic cleansing, intolerance
  • Jupiter opposite Pluto: extreme philosophies, fundamentalism, megalomania
  • Jupiter square Uranus: dangerous ideas, cult leaders, religious instability
  • Mars square Pluto: power struggles, military action, destruction, enemies
  • Mars opposite Uranus: impulsiveness, rebellion, ambushes, explosions
  • Mars square Jupiter: risk taking, tactless manoeuvres, rash actions, accidents and injuries
The T-Square of Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto lasts all of April, peaking on 23 April 2014. Any restlessness caused by Uranus will be exaggerated by Jupiter. Pluto will intensify this transit further, resulting in a crisis of sorts (observe the political conflicts in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, and the Ukraine, for example).
Moreover, the climax of this Cardinal Grand Cross takes place between two eclipses: a Lunar Eclipse on 14 April 2014 followed by a Solar Eclipse on 28 April 2014. Traditionally, the Lunar Eclipse is a time to release old wounds and fears, and transcend negative patterns that delay personal development. The Full Moon in the Air sign of Libra is reflecting the light of the Sun in the Fire sign of Aries. This Eclipse is about acknowledging others (Libra) and recognising that they mirror our own actions, beliefs, and expectations (Aries). Gandhi’s quote, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’, applies now. It’s a call to Humanity to set aside our differences and embrace our commonality to create the society we want to live in.
The Solar Eclipse on 28 April 2014 is a time to reflect on how past actions have influenced present circumstances. Both the Moon and Sun are in the Earth sign of Taurus, bringing determination, focus, and an old school work ethic to achieving goals. As we move into this New Moon, creating a ‘gratitude list’ of the things that make us ‘wealthy’ (both material and spiritual) and how we can share that wealth with others is worthwhile. Making this commitment to share our wealth, however we define it, creates a practical vision for an ideal world.
We are already witnessing a groundswell of change. The March in March event which took place in major Australian cities around 16 March 2014 is one example. Frustrated by the status quo, ordinary people showed their distrust and disgust with current social, political and religious frameworks by taking to the streets in peaceful protest. Despite bias reporting by mainstream news agencies, it wasn’t a Big Day Out for the lunatic fringe but the coming together of all people demanding ‘outings of truths’ within religious organisations, global corporations, and political institutions.
It's crucial that a docile society such as Australia cultivates the art of galvanising radical change before we lose what freedoms we have left. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. The struggle for individual rights will endure possibly until Pluto’s ingress into the constellation of Aquarius in 2023. In the interim, progress is possible if we resolve old problems with new methods. Nowhere is this message stronger than in the workings of the Cardinal Grand Cross.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Astro Shite - 2014 Overview

Your ongoing experiment with self-discovery continues this year, thanks to Uranus, the planet of sudden transformations. Explore unconventional practises like fermenting your urine to the sounds of Einsturzende Neubauten in the name of performance art. Jupiter activates Uranus in your sign twice in 2014 (between February and May, and then September to October). The surprises will be colossal, they will be unpredictable, and they will be electrifying. You never thought Clive Palmer and his dinosaurs could be this much fun, did you?
Aries strengths: dynamic, brave, initiating

The action happens in the second half of 2014 with Saturn and Jupiter working together rather cordially. Finally, long held plans for change come to fruition. Jupiter brings progress to stagnant domestic situations, while relationship lessons are best understood with the help of wise Saturn. Adopt a flexible attitude when organising your daily routine. Ditch the Coolendar app and plan your days around your feelings and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Taurus strengths: diligent, persevering, solid

This year’s themes are productivity and apprenticeship. Based on the movements of Saturn and Jupiter, you’ll require sustained effort to get out of bed and put on your pants. Focus on professional planning in the first half of the year by consulting Mark Bouris on how to master a smug and superior attitude. Mercury parks his butt in your sign for an extended stay, stimulating your mind with stimulating peeps on stimulants. Jupiter’s influence clears any writer’s block that may be holding you back, so 2014 should be a productive zine making year for many Twins.
Gemini strengths: multifaceted, adaptable, sharp

If you’ve blown all your cash on Craps and Baccarat over the Christmas period, take stock. This year, a fresh money cycle begins under Jupiter to save you from financial ruin. Personal development is another hot topic. Ouch! Check-in with yourself and see what areas need improving. Return those upper arms to the tuck shop lady, and exchange pies and lattes for Pilates. Don’t wait for external forces to bump you along; be bold and initiate change. David Bowie once said ‘turn and face the strange’, which means he wants you to look at Noel Fielding.
Cancer strengths: intuitive, imaginative, devoted

Jupiter enters your sign in the second half of the year, jump starting a twelve-year cycle of growth and adventure. You have renewed faith in humankind; Scorpios and Virgos think you’re a sucker. 2014 could be the year when you get the hell out of the country before Tony Mokbel catches up with you. Your days of living inside a whiskey barrel will cease when Saturn provides domestic stability. You move into a Kevin McCloud-approved bunker carved into the side of a grassy knoll in Winchester. The second half of 2014 sees many Leos achieving success with major projects. You will be at your most powerful, moving mountains and grassy knolls with poise and ease.
Leo strengths: benevolent, loyal, robust

2014 is like two years rolled into one for the efficient Virgo. The first half of the year will be busy and outgoing. By July, external activities slacken and the remainder of 2014 takes on a reflective tone. Mars activates productivity, so you’ll achieve more than usual, despite the fluctuating external situation. This isn’t the year to chill out in the kidney-shaped swimming pool while listening to Daft Punk and sipping Pepsi. Take on the perzine challenge of our time, which is to create a zine for every day of the year without going crazy. Neptune eases the stiffness in your mind and heart, enabling you to take a soulful approach to romance for a change. Marvin Gaye would be proud.
Virgo strengths: refined, self-effacing, secure

With Mars and the Karmic North Node inhabiting your sign this year, life-changing choices are possible if you are considering reinventing yourself like Jocelyn Wildenstein. Rad! Major events throughout 2014 will have a touch of destiny about them. If you experience de-ja-vu repeatedly, then you’ve been there before. The Gods want you to re-visit lost passions and re-ignite them with bangers and pinwheels. Mars triggers your sign for the first time in over thirty years. Assertive-compliance issues will be on the agenda. Restore the balance between other people’s needs and your own.
Libra strengths: aesthetic, charming, tactful

2014 will be a year of extremes. Fortunately, that’s the way you like it. Anything else would be, well, in between. Mars activates the personal sphere of your solar chart. Achieving mastery over you mind and subconscious actions is a predominant theme. Your professional world expands in the second half of 2014. A job change, promotion, pay rise, or exploring a second career are all possible after July. Distance yourself from superficial relationships, no matter how good they look in latex, and pour your efforts into fundamental concerns. Your actions will determine future success. I guess they always do.
Scorpio strengths: cryptic, erotic, committed

A mid-year shift by Jupiter brings action, adventure, and that ring of confidence often found in toothpaste commercials. Financial matters are a priority until July. Sorting your pecuniary dramas ensures that you’ve got time and money to play with later in the year. Your career zone will be one of your least active, which is a blessing considering the flying trapeze routine you’ve been trying to perfect since Christmas.
Sagittarius strengths: sanguine, animated, adventurous

Every eight years, Venus extends her stay in your sign. This cycle gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the Love Goddess and enhance the romance in your life. Overhaul your appearance so that the outer reflects the inner you. Sorry, but turtlenecks and wombat sleeves are definitely *out* under this transit. You’ll spend ample time in the public domain thanks to Mars and the North Node, so you don’t want to prance around like a Frank Thring wardrobe disaster.
Capricorn strengths: dependable, pragmatic, sagacious

Life gets busy for the Water Bearer from July onwards. A new cycle in love and relationships begins under Jupiter, while Mars and Saturn combine to help you power forward professionally. Overall, 2014 is shaping up to be a sound year, and there isn’t more I can add to that.
Aquarius strengths: unique, unconventional, gregarious

That clichĂ© ‘your health is your wealth’ will apply to many Pisceans this year, now that Jupiter asks to focus on well being. Uranus, Mars and the North Node combine to help reshape your finances in unconventional and innovative ways (think bitcoin). The Universe throws you in the spotlight for most of 2014. You’ll crave excitement and danger where work is concerned. Admiring your office furniture and developing ‘computer shoulder’ are not part of the script. Get involved in physical action like tree lopping or garbage collecting. Have the courage to follow your instincts on leads that are thrown your way.
Pisces strengths: psychic, gentle, tolerant

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tarot Magic

My recent trip to Melbourne for the Festival of the Photocopier included a visit to Sticky, located in the Flinders Street tunnel under Degraves Street. Visiting the shop in person, as opposed to online, is a far more valuable way of keeping abreast of new titles and zine news. Unfortunately, I have to travel all the way from Sydney to do it. It was worth it though, as the amiable Fulsome Prism (who staffs the shop) introduced me to some choice zines, one of which was Bastian Fox Phelan’s latest offering, Tarot Magic.

Naturally, I got excited about the existence of an esoteric zine that wasn’t mine. I’m unaware of other DIY titles that cover arcane subjects, so discovering Tarot Magic was a bit of a revelation. As the author expresses in the opening page, ‘this zine is an unapologetic love letter to the deck of cards that helped me become my own best partner’. Tarot Magic is a tarot reading in itself, and documents Bastian’s adventures with a pack of cards designed and printed by The Collective Tarot, a creative/esoteric co-op based in Portland, Oregon.

The Collective Tarot uses images loosely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Interestingly, it contains the Suit of Bones, which I feel represents the Earth element and our questions concerning structure, support, and finding ground in a wobbly world.
Tarot is Bastian’s preferred method of engaging in healthy dialogue with herself. It’s a self-care ritual where she can safely process negative emotions and experience the ‘thing’ that has many guises – magic/intuition/instinct/gut feeling/insight/sensitivity/sixth sense/divine guidance/Universal consciousness … call it what you will. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for magic in Western culture. Many health care workers treat magical thinking as a character defect that needs correcting, yet magic can provide answers to questions that remain unresolved despite mainstream approaches to problem solving.

Tarot, like astrology and other divinatory tools, is a creative way to check-in with yourself and re-connect with suppressed feelings. It’s an opportunity to pause and ask: ‘What am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling this?’

It’s refreshing to see another esoteric zine bobbing around the sea of perzines and artist books that defines twenty-first century DIY culture. I don’t feel like the maverick so much. It requires a certain amount of bravery to produce a zine like this, so I commend Bastian for taking it on. Tarot Magic is an enchanting read, and the fact that one of our finest zine makers has created it is reason enough to go there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Likeable Bon

Astrobabble, issue ten, has hit the streets of Sydney and Melbourne. It’s available at Red Eye Records and The Sticky Institute respectively. I have also placed a few free copies at Beyond The Ordinary in Balmain, Phoenix Rising Bookshop in Glebe, and The Buddha Bar in Newtown.

This issue completes the cycle which documents the twelve astrological signs in zine format; a project I started five years ago with the intention of cajoling a zinester with whom I was fixated. Ironically, but not surprisingly, it had the opposite effect. Still, what I gained from creating Astrobabble more than made up for my disappointment in love. Or so I keep telling myself.

Anyway, as you can see from the image above, issue ten delves into the life of renowned AC/DC front man, Bon Scott, with whom I share the Sun sign, Cancer. Bon was a thoroughly enjoyable subject to research. He is mythologised in a way that contradicts his sign, but as is usually the case with idols of the stage and screen, Bon had a vulnerable side that was often overlooked for his more appealing rock ‘n’ roll persona.

Sources abound with evidence of Bon’s polite, sensitive, and considerate nature. In many ways, he was a textbook Cancerian; a pipe and slippers man who loved his family and close friends, and abhorred the pretensions of the music establishment.

That aside, the most surprising discovery was his so called ‘toilet poetry’ that masked a talent for writing (Mercury sextile Jupiter). For years, I failed to recognise Bon’s words as anything other than mediocre. I ignored lyrics to High Voltage, Long Way to The Top, Jailbreak, Ride On, Let There Be Rock, and Highway to Hell simply because the point of AC/DC is to mindlessly rock out to the music. Thanks to a Mercury conjunct Pluto aspect, Bon took the writing of AC/DC’s lyrics responsibly and seriously, with a wit and deviousness sorely missing in song writing today.

Bon was also a prolific letter writer and sender of postcards. His correspondences reveal an intuitive feel for language, in which anecdotes are told with zest and humour. Rarely did he forget to mail Christmas and birthday cards to family and friends while he was on the road. Like a pre-office obsessed Nick Cave, Bon constantly carried a notebook and pen, jotting ideas for songs as they came to him, regardless of where he was, what he was doing, or who he was doing it to. He would have made a respectable zinester. Imagine the tales between those covers.