Sagittarius 26° (December 19)
Open Sleigh is the name of the show we are performing tonight at Joe’s Pub. We aren’t really rehearsing this morning because last night got a bit messy. Exhausted, I fell asleep at like 7 or something and did miraculously wake up feeling rather rested. The vibe, though, wasn’t conducive to plowing into one last rehearsal; rather it was all about backing off and, in our separate corners, coaching ourselves to bring the best work we can to the stage individually. Unlike when you do solo work, you have a responsibility to a partner on stage; and when a piece is largely improvisational (just following certain guidelines in your separate mind) one only hopes that the direction the discourse will carry you will be flowy and/or jazzy or both, at turns. Anyway…we shall see what we shall see. Meanwhile the Blague reruns continue…
Okay, so, the Sabian Symbols. I can’t say they were invented, but rather perceived by a Libran astrologist by the name of Marc Edmund Jones (1888-1980) with the help of a clairvoyant called Elsie Wheeler. Stella and I first came across Jones in our formal astrological study through the London Faculty, but he’s an American, from St. Louis. To paraphrase that substitute for our own brain we call Wikipedia: Jones was interested in formulations he observed in nature and in the environment—as a fellow pattern queen, I totally relate—and he developed his own systems of thought. He was influenced by Christian Science and Theosophy (me too—the latter not the former) and set out to reformulate astrology. He devised the seven (Libra number) patterns in astrological chart interpretation we use everyday—and he published The Sabian Symbols in Astrology, “a book that renders a specific symbol and interpretive character for each of the 360° of the zodiac” and then, of course, he’s a Libra renaissance man, he wrote screenplays for early movies, became a Presbyterian minister and got his PhD from Columbia. You know, as you do.
So the Sabian Symbols: It’s fairly esoteric stuff. But here it is in a nutshell. There already existed a symbol system, associated with astrologer Alan Leo, that derived from occult divination, via meditation, and “intermediaries” (ooh, scary) working with an early Egyptian schema, from which the zodiac is originally based. If you didn’t follow that it doesn’t matter. Jones wasn’t into that existing system. So he and Elsie Wheeler, who had become his student and turned out to be pretty wildly mediumistic, headed to San Diego for energetic reasons—okay‑and he basically numbered 360 index cards, one for each degree of the zodiac, from Aries 1° through Pisces 30°, and kept shuffling them so neither he nor Elsie actually knew which was which when they were set before them; and she got pictoral interpretations via her spidey sense and they wrote them on the card. I think it all happened in a day. I hope you’re getting this…
Each degree on the astrological wheel was thus assigned an interpretation. For instance, the interpretation for today, 0-1 degree Aries is: “A Woman Just Risen from The Sea; A Seal is Embracing Her”. Seriously, that’s it. And, actually, this one I get (and to think Elsie didn’t know that this was 0-1° Aries is totes cool; because we have just left the mega watery womb of the sign of Pisces, ruled by Neptune, whose trident is that of the Great Triple Goddess of the Sea, and “emerged” into the sign of Aries, associated with birth and life, a pretty bloody affair—Aries rules the blood, governed by Mars, the war god, life being the ultimate fight. And, so, okay, this Sabian Symbol suggests that the energy of this day is about the birth of the new—something real, tangible, perhaps even if just a thought or emotion. And there’s that seal. I immediately hear Donovan’s “Celia of the Seals”. From what I know, seals are symbolic of inner guidance, privacy, insulation and protection—they are slippery and don’t like to be pinned down— while they are also emblematic of an amorous nature, as this animal is fervently driven on that score. This makes sense too: The sign of Aries is about individuality and being true, if not just plain old keeping, to oneself; and of course, Mars ruled Aries is about lust and libido, as well. I read somewhere that the seal was also approval. But I find that just too punny for words.
If I were to embrace the noble lie that the Sabian Symbols are “true”, which I’m going to do, for the most part, for the purposes of this year-long exercise, to see what doors of perception doing so might open, then my own Libran psychic take on this image would be thus: Today is a day of emergency. We are stepping into a new life, dripping from our past experience, perhaps, even refreshed by it. So much so that we needn’t go back. We must seek to stand on solid ground today; we must be delivered from the murkiness of our past experience, having let any primordial soupiness formed a new directive. On this day, we are one with a new mission—tell me about it—and we are reminded by the seal, who does indeed inhabit both the inner (water) and outer (land) worlds, that we can go forth “trailing clouds of glory”; for, yes, the water can also symbolize our original state of divine being which we mustn’t lose in our earthly pursuits. I find it wonderfully paradoxical, too, that the first moment of Aries, the premier masculine sign, is mainly characterized by the female experience. But that has some pretty primal significance too, as all life begins as female, doesn’t it? And we all come from the mother. Perhaps, we are more that seal, slippery and heavy lidded, fresh from the womb. Perhaps we are clumsier on land than we are in the sea. That is to say, we are bound to stumble and make mistakes in our terrestrial endeavors, a bit out of water—we aren’t from here per se, and we inhabit this planet but for awhile, bound to return to the sea of vast divinity. And hopefully we can avoid being clobbered and skinned alive by stupid, venal, brutish people driven by profit and greed. So maybe today we are meant to reflect upon and embody these thoughts. Just as we enjoy a more banal understanding that we have just emerged from winter and we can let ourselves be, like the season, fresh and new, full of promise and burgeoning growth. Are the notions of emerging from some divine womb or our winter cache really so dissimilar. Is winter not better viewed as a time that incubated us anew, rather than something we were dragged through. What was bred in us this winter that we can now activiate, what purpose can we now personify? Is getting where we want to go not generated from a deeper sense of coming from somewhere utterly divine. If we can embrace our own divinity, would that help us seal the deal of fulfilling our worldly destiny. Are we not the intersection of the inner and outer world made manifest—are we perhaps the seal that can open between the two.
I can do this all day. And in fact I have, off and on. I’m wont to explore how people born on this day might personify this particular Sabian Symbol. But Facebook tells me I don’t know many people born on this day. In any case that provides me an excuse not to compare and contrast the humans in my life with my own interpretation of this symbol. I certainly don’t have an extra Birthday Book hanging about, so I will have to let this one-sided dualogue of a conversation dangle. Maybe you have people close to you born on this day and you can draw comparisons between them and “A Woman Just Risen from The Sea; A Seal is Embracing Her”. I have to go rethink my own purpose I’ve emerged with on this first full day of Spring. I suspect it might entail saying a lot less per day about Sabian Symbols in these posts and to make sure I get to some storytelling on the vast subject of what I find to be weirdly synchronic and cosmically jokey about this life.
To view the original Sabian Symbol themed 2015 Blague corresponding to this day: Flashback! The degree of the Sabian Symbol may be higher than the one listed here as the symbols cluminate in the next degree. There are 360 degrees spread over 365 days.
Typos happen—I don’t have time or an intern to edit.*
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