Death and Facebook

I experienced my first Facebook bereavement today. A friend of mine whom I didn’t realise had cancer had passed on, and I only found out when his brother (whom I didn’t know) sent me a Facebook message and broke the news.

I try and cultivate the responsible use of Facebook, carefully managing my privacy settings and posting only news of genuine amusement or interest (as opposed to flooding others’ newsfeed with Farmville updates). I know Facebook has its critics but it appeals to my Gemini Sun and my Aquarian 3rd house, and I use it to support existing relationships.

Still, nothing prepared me for the news of a relationship prematurely terminated in this manner. And yet, I am grateful for it, for I might never have found out otherwise.

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Pluto in Capricorn at the movies

In 2009, I posted that Disney Pixar’s Up, an animated film featuring a septuagenarian as its key protagonist is unprecented. I surmised that this reflected the new age of Pluto in Capricorn, where our perceptions about age (Capricorn) are being transformed (Pluto). That the film is an animated feature aimed at children is also significant in that the sign of Capricorn, while representing age and wisdom, produces natives who are supposed to get younger as they grow older.

Up proved phenomenal success, earning nearly US$300 million in the US alone and $450 million in the rest of the world, hugely profitable given that the production budget was about $175 million (source: Box Office Mojo). Grumpy old Carl became a household face in weeks. Sure, there have been films about old people getting young, and Ron Howard’s 1985 Cocoon is one example, but the pensioners in Cocoon eventually had to leave on a spaceship to retain their youthfulness. Carl is old and youthful.

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Healing Pluto Problems

In honour of Pluto going direct on 11 September 2009, I thought I’d share some thoughts about Donna Cunningham‘s book, Healing Pluto Problems, whose title I’ve borrowed for the title of this post.

I picked up this book on Neith’s recommendation. It is not as heavy-going as Judy Hall’s Hades Moon, which I’ve written about here and also like for different reasons. Rather, Cunningham’s book contextualises Plutonian issues (deep transformation, sex, death, guilt, resentment and so on) in terms of the things one can do to mitigate their effects, whether one is the Plutonian or on the receiving end of one. And it could well be both — Plutonians tend to attract other Plutonians.

Being a Plutonian herself, Cunningham exhibits great empathy for the depth and intensity of Plutonian feelings. If there are ‘problems’ with being Plutonian, it is not the natures of Plutonians that are put on the line, only a lack of understanding (and resources) in wider society to address them. The book does not victimise Plutonian native either — each one is required to take responsibility for their own actions and feelings, and the author is quick to point out that the unevolved can quite easily turn their Plutonian power on others and themselves.

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‘Active laziness’

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (1992) is an interpretation for the modern world by Sogyal Rinpoche a collection of texts commonly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Sogyal Rinpoche interprets some of the ideas from the ancient texts for the modern world, and argues that the lack of respect for death in the modern world prevents us from living life to its fullest potential. This is not, however, license for hedonism, to do what you like, ‘cos we’re all dying anyway’. It is, in fact, a call for more responsible living, rather than less. Death is a fact of life, and death is encountered in every facet of life, not just the physical — we may experience the death of an idea, the death of a relationship, a feeling, a way of life, and so on. In other words, death speaks to impermanence. The death of our physical bodies is just one aspect of that process.

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Down the (rabbit) hole

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I came across this poem in Sogyal Rinpoche‘s The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (1992) (Will say more about the book another time).

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Hades Moon II: The darkness that is mine

Parts I and III.

cups05Judy Hall’s book spooked me (in a good way) because nearly everything she described about the Hades Moon I recognised from my own life. Now, I like working with astrology, but there are times when the general descriptions in astrology ‘cookbooks’ don’t necessarily apply, and thus require creative interpretation. Because Hall’s book focuses on individuals with the Pluto-Moon aspects, and thus their specific life circumstances, description and implication of the aspect become that much more personal and vivid. The Hades Moon is not about behaviour or circumstance but about psychic experience so deep there are few words to describe it.

Until I read Eric Francis’ delineation of the Capricorn Moon, I could never really identify with textbook descriptions of the Cap moon as ambitious, money-grabbing, and so on. It is likely that many with Cap moons come across that way because they channel their repressed emotions into tangible achievements, as if to say ‘If my material circumstances are okay, I’m okay’. The impact of Pluto aspecting this fragile but tough moon never really crossed my mind until, in consultation with Eric Francis himself one day, he said, ‘Pluto aspecting your moon gives me the sense of hanging onto a cliff by your fingertips’. He meant having both planets at their anaretic degrees, or the last degrees of the signs. My Pluto at 29+° Virgo was in exact trine to my moon at 29+° Capricorn.

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The rough beast slouches, or Pluto on the move I

Pluto has finally turned direct a couple of days ago after months in retrograde for its last tour of the last few degrees of Sagittarius. And I think we’re all feeling it in various ways. What is likely to be common for many is the theme of death and rebirth, metaphorically speaking. What is outmoded — lifestyles, ideas, institutions — must be destroyed and something else rebuilt.

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Sex and Zen II: Quelle probleme?

Part I

Le PenseurWhen asked how to deal with the ‘problem’ of sex, Krishnamurti gave this answer:

Why is it that whatever we touch we turn into a problem? We have made God a problem, we have made love a problem, we have made relationship, living, a problem, and we have made sex a problem Why? Why is everything we do a problem, a horror? Why are we suffering? Why has sex become a problem? Why do we submit to living with problems, why do we not put an end to them? Why do we not die to our problems instead of carrying them day after day, year after year? Sex is certainly a relevant question but there is the primary question, why do we make life into a problem? (The Krishnamurti Reader, 167)

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Pluto and the ‘alchemy of desire’

Pluto system

I recently stumbled upon this article by Elizabeth Spring called ‘What’s Pluto Got to Do With It? The Alchemy of Desire’. I like it for its clarity and personal nature, and yet that it does not over-simplify the experience of a Pluto transit which tends to impact individuals in complex ways. And even if one is unfamiliar with astrology, Spring’s observations are insightful in themselves.

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Jump – leap – fall

I watched a documentary on TV last night called 9/11: The Falling Man, and later read the article on which it was based by Esquire journalist, Tom Junod, with regard to the collective repression surrounding the photographic image of a man jumping from one of the ill-fated Twin Towers, out of fear, desperation, even courage, we will never know.

What struck me in that story is the question that it may have been ‘improper’ for the man (and others like him) to have jumped. I don’t understand. What does it mean to die improperly? What makes one form of dying more acceptable than another? And most of all, what qualifies the living to judge? Maybe when death itself is the cause for pain and suffering to the living. It is not that you have died, but that in dying you have hurt me. Put brutally, and I don’t know how else to put it, we blame the dead for dying.

But even so, I still don’t know why one form of dying is more acceptable than another, why jumping is so terrible, as opposed to enduring the burning flames and the crush of the rubble. What drives a young woman already wracked with grief at the loss of her father to be so enraged by the suggestion that he might have jumped, to refer to the man that did jump as ‘that piece of shit’? How can grief for one and compassion for another be so perceptibly divided? Maybe it has too many associations with jumping ship, with cowardice, with sin. Do these mental associations tell us the truth of why these people jumped, leapt or fell, from the buildings? No, but our need to interpret their motivations says more about us than it does about them.

Maybe it has to do with the picture, not the event itself. The picture confronts us with the act of looking at death, with engaging with a raw and honest truth we’d rather not know about — as Junod puts it, we want the right to look away. We want the right to say we don’t care, and the Falling Man, like Kevin Carter’s photo of the vulture and the starving child, makes us look, not at the horror of the event, but at the horror at realising we didn’t really want to have to look at all.

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