2012: Random Musings From The Year The World Did Not End
Libran/Pluto rising daughter going off to run with the bulls in Pamplona. An adventuring mother like myself hasn't the clout to say a single thing about it, but it's so different when it's your own cub.
What is the difference between an expat and an immigrant, besides possession of a passport with "luck of birth" bestowed privileges?
Another 3:30 am, wake up I can't sleep tick, tick, ticking mind: an idea bomb ready to detonate, or just a restless fizzler? Cuppa tea and some pre-dawn astrology and we shall see.
Mercury going retrograde in Leo today, (until August 8th); manicure those claws, fine tune that growl, and beware the hazards of chasing (and biting!) your own tail.
Ah, semantics: someone coming to a Bali workshop asked if it's okay to wear "thongs" in Bali ... I discreetly told her that maybe it would be okay around the rest of the group at the hotel pool, but for sure not in Muslim Java. It turns out she meant flip-flops for the feet rather than stringy thing-ys for other parts!
It is possible to let go of an expectation without giving up hope.
Just arrived at Refugio Beach, 5 hours and 12 miles hike over the mountain from Santa Ynez. Oaks and hawks to palm trees and seagulls. A most excellent day.
Stretching out those new toe cramping hiking shoes with the biggest lemons I can find. When in an orchard...
I already feel the full moon advancing. Sliding through the dark on her belly. Silent but pulsing, gathering life force and light. Preparing to throw the switch that can illuminate, bedazzle or blind.
How can anyone possibly house clean without very loud, very upbeat music playing?
Life and its metaphors; suddenly Santa Barbara beach is so covered in oil I literally have to scrape it off my feet with a knife after walking. And Pluto keeps drilling away in his multitude of other forms; relentless and untiring. There are no solutions, but there is the constant comfort of loving friends. I am never alone.
Odd how when something hurts for long enough it morphs into something else completely; then hearing it named for what it truly is can be startling.
The difference between a good day and a bad one often comes down to how much "magic" is felt in it. So long as even just a glimmer remains, all is fine.
Got up at dawn and raced the sun up a few hills, and I won. But now here it comes, wearing its blazer.
Mars and Saturn are conjoined now through August 17th, in Libra. Make steel not war. Grinding edginess is almost an inevitability when the impulsive god of war, impatience and individuation, clashes sword to shield with the disciplinarian lord of obligations, laws and limitations. But this can also represent the forging of 2 great metals. If we can tolerate the heat and frustration without negative reaction, they can alchemise them into a strength and resilience that metaphorically provides us with the very material from which great and flexible, all powerful, bridges are built. Especially in the sign of diplomacy (Libra) where they now meet
It's actually fun packing for 6 months of guaranteed 85+ degree weather. Eat your hearts out sweaters and fleeces, you're staying put.
9 days to go and I'm 98% packed, just a hint at how ready I am to get back to Paradise/Bali, after an 8 month absence.
"Single" and "not in a relationship" are terms that so often miss the mark. This is a consciously chosen, happy state for some of us, chock full of love and rich and wonderful relationships. The days when you could only get a berth on the Ark as a double are over.
Then out of the blue comes galloping, another wide-eyed sleepless night.
Al Walker, my dearly loved friend and trusted CPA, suddenly left us today. I'll never forget a birthday when he called and woke me at 4:00 am to celebrate the actual moment I was born, who else has an accountant who would do that? We also sometimes did my taxes over a glass of wine. I was lucky to know him.
It's while navigating a particularly narrow path between sorrow and joy that we fully realise the infinitesimal space between them.
Facebook featured in a dream I had last night, so it's obviously seeped pretty far into this particular psyche. I'm horrifi-amus-ed.
The next place I lay my head down will be in Asia. Leaning crookedly against a tiny plexiglass window at 35,000 feet does not count.
Hong Kong: steaming hot shower (until practically dim-sum-ed), followed by industrial strength teeth scrubbing helps drag jet-lagged limp spirit back into casing.
The women of Bali have the hearts of lionesses and the grace of gazelles.
Green ginger tea, fresh coconut juice, a bowl of beets (Tom Robbins style), trusty Mac and the Guardian on-line: a typical 4:00 am, blissful, "Aquarian in Bali" breakfast in bed. And perhaps another wee hint at why 'tis best I live alone.
Maybe the Moon really is blue tonight; the frangipani outside my window is beyond yellow yellow in the way that complementary colours are.
Spending early mornings exploring every inch of this village (Penestanan) that is my Bali home; a great way to put yourself on the map is to chart your own.
You know a spider is HUGE when you see one single strand of its web from 50 feet away, stretching across a span of at least 25 feet. I'm not about to seek out this particular spider-zilla.
We have a honeymoon couple next door, and they have practically barricaded themselves in. Ibu who makes the daily offerings is most perplexed at not being able to get in there to make the gods happy for them; tiny as she is, she risks life and limb putting the offerings atop the wall as close to them as is humanly possible.
I love Bali more than I can say.
Amongst its joys, Bali is a heady, sensual bombardment of aromas. It's early morning and I'm sitting in a tropical garden, a cup of green tea spiked with ginger and vanilla pods in my hand, and countless wafts of other delicious scents invisibly swirling around my head.
Fresh coconut/lime Wayanitas, or whatever one could possibly call a Balinese Margarita… yum.
Pluto station in Capricorn: does it feel like the Lord of the Underworld has his foot on your throat as he ponders whether to push down hard or lift off lightly?
Sept 20th: Tonight is Calon Arang in Bali, a night when an ancient tale of Black Magic (and ultimate redemption) is re-enacted. In our village there will be no adaptation for squeamish or impatient tourists, and the ceremonies go until dawn. Despite my wildly curious Mars in Scorpio, I don't think I can stay up all night, and the strongly stated advise is to stay at the temple until it ends as the dark spirits take this time to cavort wildly in the streets.
Taking no chances.
Coolest new toy; a bamboo hoola-hoop. I'm 8 again… and still pretty darned good at it.
The Balinese and their crisp, clear, un-fluffy, unfussy unsentimental, ego-less way of caring. Do I have enough time left in my life to learn this beautiful art?
It may be an old urban myth, but my Scottish Granny taught me to throw the hair from my hairbrush outside every day for the birds to use for nests... and I always have. I hope to spend my entire life in places alive with birds so that every morning I have this warm remembrance of that wonderful woman, and it matters not a whit if the reason is completely illogical.
My mosquito net just collapsed on my head, but every great frothy pile of muslin has a silver lining. Once I fought my way out I realised there's nothing between me and that glorious silver pearl of a full moon. Soaking up the rays and willing the mozzies away.
There's a repeating scenario in my life where I find myself on remote, long, pot-holed, badly sign-posted roads that lead to glorious places.
Keeping or getting even a semblance of order with Uranus transiting the IC, (to say nothing of Pluto poking his nose in there), is a question only another astrologer can(not) answer. The only thing that makes sense makes no sense at all, (which makes perfect sense with the symbolism); gallons of green juice, long scooter rides, keeping pendulum in hand, and mega, mega breathing.
18th Heaven and Earth Workshop... who'd of thunk? Huge thanks to all who have attended, and an extra long squeeze to those who keep coming back time and time again, making it such a happy bloodless family. Here's to 18+++ more.
Just back from yoga and there on my doorstep sits my daily delivered super green juice, (laced with beets, ginger and garlic). I'm not quite sure which is happier in Bali; my body or my soul.
Love living in places where you pack for a week away and a sweater of any description is not even a consideration.
Yikes, I was just busted by my yoga teacher (who is luckily also a beloved friend) texting during savasana. You can put the girl in Paradise, but…
Just crept into my hammock as the New Moon dawn creeps in over the ocean, surrounded by the ever present re-calibrating music of the ocean. Moved the whole group over to an east coast Bali beach yesterday, all seem happy, so glad to be able share one of my favorite hideaways with them.
Sitting on a beach in Bali; talking about Goa; reading a book about Mongolia.
Our amazing work space; up in the air, surrounded by nature, glorious sunshine, and mere feet from the ocean. Does anyone know of a better place to be immersed in the elements than a tropical beach?
And then there was one. Everyone has dispersed and I'm now alone at the beach for 2 whole days. In a contented but exhausted afterglow. The sea and sleep are the solid gold of the moment.
Being completely alone; the least lonely place I know of. Regrouping and recharging with the sounds, colours and changing moods of nature as perfect company.
It's twilight and on my walk ran into a group of young men shooting something out of the coconut trees. Bats it turns out, which are apparently delicious fried. I kind of wish I hadn't asked.
Back to Ubud; the next ocean I throw this body into will be the Indian one.
Here it comes.
Here comes my 19th astrology workshop.
Every day's an experiment to some degree. Today: can a giant spoonful of wild royal jelly truly be the wonder remedy to completely counter 3 hours of interrupted sleep? The horary troops are arriving, and my quest is to at least appear bright eyed and bushy tailed (although not quite sure why I'd want to be seen as a squirrel?).
I love the hope, enthusiasm and anticipation that everyone arrives in Bali with. And that's exactly why I favour my own traveller side so much; new horizons inspire the positive.
Deb Houlding: brilliant lecturer. Clear, concise, patient impassioned and a master of her art. 20 rapt and happy students nestled in the rice fields of Bali.
This Horary course has given me back my "beginner's mind". How refreshing and exciting to sweep aside the cobwebs and staleness of what we assume we know inside out, and allow something so ancient and illuminating in
A curse and an irony for many "1st worlders" is a pressing desire for personal growth and transformation, but we want it without any personal discomfort or inconvenience whatsoever.
Shortest workshop ever, but packed with the most content ever. All highly understandable, applicable, and confirmation, (for this Sag rising who has it as her mantra) that the best is always yet to come.
Just facilitated 2 workshops in 1 month, so today I'm not moving out of my hammock. But it is quite a crowded hammock; pillows, sunglasses, reading glasses, iPhone, water bottle and all my horary books and notes. An obsessive's version of a day off.
There are days when raucous, heart-thumping, blood-stirring music is the only thing that works to get one's butt in gear for a deeply relaxing, calming, centring yoga practice. Another of life's endless paradoxes.
I wish the best gelato/sorbet place in the entire world wasn't quite so close to my house.
Watching a tropical garden grow confirms the glorious tenacity of living things, and the beautifully ordered chaos of nature's ever changing worlds within worlds within worlds. I've realised I spend at least one happy hour of every single day just staring at my own personal little garden of eden.
Total Solar Eclipse in Scorpio.
The hearts of the Sun and Moon go into complete darkness. (love that it is one of the most remote eclipses of the century), to connect in this marvellous, edgy, most intense of signs; seeding, challenging, purging. Be brave, honest, and prepare for absolute exposure of self and others... and to then let go let go let go let go let go let go let go let go let go.
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. - Buddha
Entitlement and gratefulness are both highly contagious, and I am now living slap dab in the centre of an epidemic of the 2nd, trying very hard to catch it. Here's hoping my megadose western immunisation against such things gets completely wiped out.
We're into rainy season; the gods form a chain gang and throw giant buckets down on us all night long, then the sun rises, the sky turns crystalline blue, and the island sparkles like diamonds all day long.
Back to client work. Much as I enjoy organising and running the workshops, and I'm never happier than when travelling; when I sit with an astrology chart in hand, then I know what a "calling" means. It's the greatest love of my life, (without actual blood in its veins), I'm beyond blessed to have a "job" that enriches my entire life with such meaning.
I want to clear everything silly, trivial and self-indulgent off my FB page, and dedicate it entirely to my beautiful friend Mimi Michael, so suddenly taken from us yesterday.
She was luminous, energetic, adventurous, honest, generous, fun, bright, a little wild, a lot spiritual, and ever kind and loving. An eternally youthful Aries/Gemini with a flaming spirit and a heart of gold. You are loved forever and will never be forgotten Mims. And now you've reminded us of how fleeting life is, and to never, ever waste a minute of life, as you never, ever did.
Preparation for the our Balinese village cock-fights begins. No matter what we think, (they horrify me), it is part of this culture, and we in the west certainly have questionable standards around the treatment of the animals we eat. That aside, as an astrologer I have noted they always occur under the most intense of transits. As Mars approaches the conjunction of Pluto and the square to Uranus, the energy palpably intensifies, and with it these brutal, primal practices manifest.
Hyperventilating and salivating at the same time; I've just realised that I can technically travel by train from London to Singapore, (Trans-Mongolian being the original goal). Let the planning begin, and with it the modern day traveller’s greatest challenge... visa collecting.
How intelligent are snakes?
We rescued 2 frogs from a snake in my garden today. The frogs make loud, piteous sounds which are easy to track. I'm getting quite quite good at it, you just bang the ground hard with a broom next to the snake's head and shock it into letting go, then the freaked out frogs make rapid leaps to safety. Nothing heroic about it, the snakes are harmless, (for humans). It's different frogs, but looks like the same snake. He's not having a good day, and is I imagine, less than thrilled with me. If I could snake-speak, I'd suggest that if he wants dinner, that he leave "my territory" immediately.
I had just finished typing this when I looked up, and the snake had come into my room (there are french windows onto the garden). It was just inside the door, it's body raised and it was looking straight at me. And now I scare it off, and it just keeps coming back and cruising the steps.
Hello Pluto/Mars conjunction. I am no longer confident as to whose Territory this actually is.
In 2 weeks I'll be in India; and as with any deep and complex love, my heart both soars and pounds in anticipation.
What to do when the loudest nocturnal insect on the planet moves into the garden, and will only be silenced by turning on the brightest lights? Oh, and by the way, it's 3am. I think we have a "Breezes through the Palms" scenario going on, and disgruntled Mr Snake from last week has put Buzzsaw Cricket up to harassing that nosy, frog-freeing human lady in the giant brick box.
Train tickets from Shropshire to China almost bought, with a month in Mongolia to trek and explore, (starting mid June, 2013). It would seem that the Gobi Desert, night in gers and fermented mare's milk are in my future. Who would have ever thunk?
Booking my trip, and in Berlin I have a window of 12 minutes to make a connecting train on to Moscow, the agent says it's just fine, they are always exactly on time. I thought Germany was on planet earth too, but apparently it has moved to some other astonishingly punctual galaxy.
Close to leaving one Hindu land for another; one owns my heart, the other stokes its fires.
Gripe: Westerners in the 3rd world expecting kudos for being philanthropic/heroic/good when they are just behaving as any guest should, (generously and politely), especially when this supposed "sacrifice" also entails being waited on hand and foot and having your standard of living increase manyfold.
My flight to Mumbai is at 12:40 pm on Saturday, and the Indian Embassy says I will have my passport + visa back by 8:00 am that morning, (they've had it for weeks). Attempting to practice serenity, serenity, serenity; but these choppy little waves of panic sneak in every chance they get
Passport arrived, with just minutes to spare.
I already miss you, Bali.
Next post, Bombay.
Leaving light and bright Bali in the middle of a sunny day, then landing in dark and dense, intense Mumbai at midnight, is a bit like jumping off a butterfly and landing on a scorpion. But the people are kind.
In Kuala Lumpur, for the 1st time ever, I heard a public announcement over the airport intercom, reminding passengers that drug, arms, and human trafficking, was against the law.
2 years ago I was here in Goa, and after scouring the coast chose this location for a workshop. I have had moments of doubt since, but now they are all gone. It is far more beautiful than I even remembered. Just spent hours walking the beach and the village, talking to the locals, and wondering how on earth I always end up in such exquisite places (Jupiter on the IC?).
I will be happy here for the next 6 weeks.
My new name is "Madam"; all of India agrees.
Madam is having a splendid time; scootered up with another Honda, a Heroes Pleasure, or maybe it's Pleasure's Hero? Had to beg for a helmet, as no-one wears them, except for me.
I am absolutely positive that no clam was ever this happy.
Madam and Hero, off on an adventure. Galibaga, Goa, Paradise. I do believe I'll come back here for the end of the world, in just a couple of days.
I have a dinner date this evening. Yet another charming, adventurous, funny, kindly, gay Englishman. Seems to be my new "type"... no complaints here.
Dec 20, 2012
Happy End of the World to everyone, and may tomorrow mark an even Greater and Happier Beginning.
Luckily, endings are always followed by beginnings.
Hmmm, north or south? Which glorious beach to wander along today; under the glorious (but still true!) guise of workshop research.
My friends are on my mind. Love to you All; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Heathen, Agnostic, Atheist, Animist, and all the countless others. I'm grateful to live a life where every single day I meet living, breathing proof that religion is no more significant than eye colour. It is our individual hearts that have the final word.
Oddest thing, Indian mosquitoes don't like me. In a week haven't had a single bite, and they are certainly around, and giant. I'm using a natural repellent spray, but it's never worked this well before.
Oh, and the wonderful nightly natural fogging the staff does might help, burning coconut shells, spices and incense, and presumably messing with their radar.
Bowing down to small, but significant, mercies.
In this normally blissfully quiet spot, Xmas Eve in India turned out to be 8 hours straight of monotonous, ear-plug defying, mind-numbing, sleep-killing, heart-pounding, mega-decibel, electronic "music"; 8 pm to 4 am. This was punctuated only by periodic fire crackers; not fireworks, no pretty colours, just sudden, dynamite strength, deafening explosions.
A morning of catch-up sleep is my Christmas present of choice.
New Years Eve in India plans are now: 2 earplugs per ear, a whole Ambien, and an extra strength cocktail.
Happy, (Quiet) Xmas to All.
In a cafe, on a beach in Goa, mesmerised by some Israeli kids arguing vehemently with the waiter over getting the wrong coffee. I look up and there's a Tibetan Buddhist monk, in full garb, strolling the shoreline. All in one single minute of life.
In a conversation with an Indian man, he referenced a friend of his as: "exactly the same age as you, 59 or 60 years old". He didn't pose a question; he had absolutely no doubt as to my age. And he made no attempt at flattery; it simply wouldn't have occurred to him to do so, (why?).
The contrast between Asian directness and our western tendency to coddle each others' egos is so striking that it quite takes you aback, (I had just spent time with the lovely Brit, who "swore" I could have been in my 40's). This little encounter made my day... in an oddly life affirming way. I walked away grinning ear to ear. Besides, I am just a little bit flattered, in 6 weeks I'll be 61, and he thought I might only be 59.
Electricity down, laptop battery dead, it is impossible for me to work. I am forced to go lie in my hammock and read my book.
Flamenco has its roots in Keralan folk dancing, (saw some and it's fabulous), Goa makes its own tequila, (but legally can't call it that, it's agave spirit ), and takeaway here is called a "parcel", (more shades of a colonial past). Oh, and Indian red wine isn't half bad, (hic).
Educating Evelyn... it never ends.
This is the 2nd Kindle I've accidentally murdered; the next one gets an evelyn-proof, armoured case. Thanks be for warranties, and world-wide book exchanges. All is not lost, I just looted the hotel bookcase.
Perhaps this should be embarrassing to admit, but I am not growing into that sweet, kind, little old lady who honestly doesn't mind a bit when charming, ultra-liberal, parents move into the hut next door with their adorable, high decibel, frequently squalling offspring.
The beach discos are gearing up; the kids next door are sugaring up, and I am about to rev up my scooter and head for the remotest, quietest beach I know of, for the night.
I know, I know; you can run, but you cannot hide. The exact same or similar might just follow me there, and if they do, I'm counting on my friends, humour and irony, to take me by my hand and walk me right into this next year.