Friday, October 14, 2016

Neptune in Pisces and the Submerged Museum

Reading ‘The Changing Sea Scape of our Times’ by Antonia Case in Womankind magazine (#7, February-April 2016) prompted me to examine the current Neptune transit and its place in the zeitgeist. More specifically, it got me thinking how Neptune and Pisces relate to the artwork of English artist and naturalist, Jason deCaires Taylor, the article’s intriguing subject.

Jason deCaires Taylor is a British born underwater sculptor who has gained worldwide recognition as one of the first artists to integrate contemporary art with the conservation of marine life. His artificial coral reefs installations divert tourists away from endangered natural coral reefs, providing these systems the opportunity to regenerate.

One impressive example is Vicissitudes, meaning changeability. Submerged in the Caribbean Sea in Molinere Bay, in the world’s first public underwater sculpture park, stands a circle of Taylor’s cement figures. With defying postures, they face outward, holding hands in an unbreakable link while algae and other marine life slowly alter their bodies over time. Within years, these sunken artworks will be transformed. Taylor’s work is a commentary on humanity’s relationship with the natural world and the need for conservation, decay and rebirth. Works such as Vicissitudes portray how human interaction with nature can be positive and sustainable, and that living in a symbiotic relationship with nature is possible.

The connection to Neptune in Pisces is discernible (to me, anyway). Planet Neptune transits the constellation of Pisces between 2012 and 2025. Neptune is Pisces’ ruling planet. Both are synonymous with water, especially the depths of the ocean, and both have a comprehensive understanding that all life is interconnected. As a gaseous and nebulous planet, Neptune’s boundaries are elusive; we are unsure of where the planet begins and ends. Neptune acts as one of the planetary gateways to a consciousness that is free from the limitations of Saturn and all planets inside Saturn’s orbital path (that is, the planets that are visible from Earth). Neptune symbolises the urge to dissolve a rigid sense of individuality and separateness in order to reconnect to the underlying unity of all life, qualities synonymous with Taylor’s work. His underwater sculptures plug into something primal - the ocean is too boundless and overwhelming for us mortals to comprehend. Once these manmade figures are submerged, they cease to belong to the material realm. Instead, they become part of the mystery that is the sea and, ultimately, life.

One critic described Taylor’s installations as ‘enigmatic, haunting and colorful commentaries about our transient existence, the sacredness of the ocean and its breathtaking power of regeneration’, but you can make up your own mind:

Neptune and Pisces rule museums, art galleries, and libraries. For Taylor, the ocean is an exhibition space and museum, embodying unlimited room, natural lighting, and infinite visitors at all times. It acts as a sacred place to conserve and protect objects of value for posterity. Taylor bemoans the fact that many of us don’t regard our oceans as sacred – we don’t see the sea.
The Neptune-Pisces cycle signals the importance of compassion and empathy. Global issues associated with Pisces are surfacing, such as rising sea levels and growing concerns over the availability of fresh water in parts of the world. Both Neptune and Pisces rule art and culture, and artists such as Jason deCaires Taylor have a role to play in engaging people on an emotional level. On writing, Taylor had placed approximately seven hundred underwater sculptures around the globe, generating masses of robust marine systems. His largest underwater sculpture to date, Ocean Atlas, located on the western coastline of New Providence in the Bahamas, is a metaphor for modern times: Ocean Atlas is burdened by the weight of the ocean pressing down on her shoulders. It symbolises global warming and the load that will be carried by future generations if we don’t take action. Ambiguity, confusion and passivity are hazards to growth and healing during a Neptune-Pisces cycle. We drift along with the oceans current at our peril. Only with self-actualisation we get to see the sea.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Remembering Bowie

It’s been seven months since David Bowie’s death - 11 January 2016 - and the outpouring of feeling is ongoing, the evidence of which can be found on social media and in the various cultural events held in his honour throughout the world. It’s difficult to pigeonhole David Bowie as an artist and as an individual; he represents many things to many people. His natal chart reflects his multi-faceted and contradictory nature, where layers of personality and talent seemingly clash, causing internal frustration but manifesting outwardly creatively, sometimes brilliantly, sometimes not. Here, the Air element is powerful. In the early stages of Bowie’s career at least, this airy quality overshadowed his more subdued and traditional Sun in Capricorn, which hid away in the twelfth house, the horoscope’s sanctuary. Bowie’s story reflects what some astrologers call ‘growing into our Sun signs’, the mythology for which Capricorn as tenacious goat climbing the proverbial mountain to reach its pinnacle is noted for.
Outwardly, David Bowie embodied the qualities normally associated with the air sign Aquarius – scientific, futuristic, progressive, prophetic - despite his Sun’s placement in pragmatic Capricorn. With Aquarius rising, the planet Uranus becomes chart ruler, giving Bowie an alternative edge. Uranus’ glyph resembles a satellite designed to explore the far reaches of time and space, a theme often repeated in Bowie’s early work. His 1969 breakthrough single Space Oddity, released close to the moon landing, covers cosmonaut Major Tom’s existential space journey. Through classics such as Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, Life on Mars, Starman, Moonage Daydream, and Loving the Alien, we learn of the visions and possibilities forgotten on the earthly plane.
His chart ruler, Uranus in Gemini, in the fifth house of romance sextile Pluto in the seventh house of relationships alludes to Bowie’s experimental and transformative sex life. He was magnetised by the gay scene, which was still underground in the early 1970s, and became a camp icon in an era when homosexuals lived in fear of discovery. Critics such as the queer writer John Gill condemned Bowie for using and betraying gay culture for his own commercial gain. Nevertheless, Bowie set a precedent that heralded in a new generation of androgynous stars who were successful in the 1980s: Gary Numan, Boy George (Culture Club), Marilyn, Phil Oakey (Human League), George Michael (Wham!), Morrissey (The Smiths), Pete Burns (Dead or Alive), and Steve Strange (Visage) who appears in the Ashes to Ashes promotional video:

Bowie was aware of his role as an interpretative performer and the fact that his personas only had a short life span (one or two albums). He found it easier to write for his characters than for himself (twelfth house Mercury) and wasn’t sentimental about them; he could move on (Aquarius rising). Bowie's image developed as time progressed, earning him the moniker of ‘pop chameleon’ (chart ruler Uranus in Gemini):
‘… I wanted to be the instigator of new ideas. I wanted to turn people on to new things and new perspectives … I decided to use the easiest medium, which was rock n roll, and then add bits and pieces … so that by the end of it I would be my own medium’
Occultism flavoured Bowie’s life and work up to his last recording. His twelfth house Stellium (Sun, Mars, and Mercury) indicates a rich inner world and psychic possibilities. The Sun and Mercury in this sector of the chart function as mediums for the expression of mythic or archetypal images in the collective unconscious through art or some form of psychic work. Bowie had the capacity to bridge the conscious and unconscious, and communicate to an audience what was operating in the murky depths of the psyche:
‘All I knew was that there was this otherness, this other world, an alternative reality, and one that I wanted to embrace’

The above is a extract from the next issue of Astrobabble, copies of which I will be flogging at Manly Zine Fair in September. See you there.