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In Search of the Soul of America


The Sun recently entered Libra, but through this year there has been some unusual astrology happening two signs away, in Sagittarius. It involves several of the recently discovered small planets that orbit our Sun, aligned with a strange body called the Great Attractor. The alignment is precise to the degree right now. I associate it with a kind of toxic spirituality that is on the loose lately. Taken one way, it can manifest as the desire for healing, or if taken unconsciously, as some inflamed, weird ideas and behavior. The grouping involves a little Pluto-like planet called Ixion, which I associate with the lack of moral or ethical consciousness.

We’re seeing this blatantly in modern politics. The campaign of 2012 is well underway, and so far it’s all about who you can screw over the worst. I know you may not watch the news, and if that is true, I can tell you that the political environment would qualify as unconscious, inflamed, and weird lately. I am as disgusted by politics as anyone right now. But as I was watching one of these “jobs creation” discussions recently, peering through the language and the deception, it occurred to me that politicians get away with what they do because most people don’t understand politics—that is, how the game is played, and who influences it from backstage.
 Most people don’t even know that it’s a show. Usually, you have to participate directly or watch from the first few rows to notice. It requires some experience to see the Democrat/Republican game for what it really is, and what it has become. Though the parties have different outward positions, most of the time those differences are about as meaningful as dividing the summer camp into the Blue and Gold teams for the mock Olympics. 

The summer camp is capitalism itself. Wall Street sets the most basic terms of our society, which you can tell (in part) because there is a stock ticker on every TV station’s news ticker rather than, say, the voting record of our representatives. Political campaigns are now all about the money invested by people who purchase influence, and the supposed issues we debate are a ruse. The flow of cash, lots of cash, determines nearly every decision. The ongoing debate over eliminating Social Security—I cannot believe I’m even typing those words—is about who gets their hands on that huge fund (Wall Street wants it desperately).

In order to convince us that we need to take away benefits that people have paid for their whole lives, and that every employer pours money into every week, we have to be convinced that it’s a bad thing, and to do that, we need to chill down the emotional temperature of society. We all have to be desensitized to one another’s needs. Usually this is done indirectly.

You may have seen a video of the discussion during one of the recent debates when eternal presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul was asked what society should do if someone who was healthy and didn’t think he needed health insurance (and didn’t want to pay the $300 a month) ended up in a coma. Should society keep him alive? The audience cheered at the possibility that he should be allowed to die. 

This was not at some homespun backwater political rally—it was at a Politico/CNN event, and the questioner was Wolf Blitzer. At the prior debate, something even weirder happened. Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC News, asked candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry: “Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?” At the mention of the executions, the audience sent up a cheer, during which Williams paused—then he finished his sentence. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, but the little kid in me feels nauseous that people would cheer about executions. Of course, we’ve all seen the “pro death” rallies in prison parking lots as someone receives the lethal injection, and throughout history executions have often been public spectacles. Perry replied, “No sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, very clear process in place of which when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s required. But in the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed.”

A thoughtful, clear process? That would be the same one, mandated nationally by the Supreme Court’s famous 1972 Furman decision. That process resulted in at least 13 false convictions in Illinois, which as a result stopped its death penalty in 2003. I cannot imagine not struggling with something like the potential execution of an innocent person at all. If he’s appeasing himself that there is Supreme Court review of each case, he’s kidding himself. That review is strictly at the court’s option. It is he who has the power of executive clemency; he signs the death warrant. He cannot, or will not, admit that he’s struggled even a little bit.

For the population, the death penalty is about blood lust. For politicians, it’s about demonstrating who is boss, and I believe that it’s a form of modern-day human sacrifice. Note that if economic conditions persist and the unemployment rate stays where it is or gets worse, Rick Perry is the person we’re most likely to have as our next president. This does not worry me as much as the spiritually vapid social environment we’re living in, evidenced not only by all those people who raise a cheer about lethal injection or letting a patient die, but by everyone who makes a point of being cold to the needs of others. It does not worry me as much as the people who consider themselves spiritual who think they are going to meditate away the bad people—that’s as ridiculous as Perry’s plan to pray for the federal budget deficit to go away, and I think we need to recognize that fact. I don’t think the solution to the problems we face will be a political one. But I think that along the way we will have to understand politics. That is not the final destination. The final destination is understanding ourselves. And we might start with understanding the disconnect that is allowing all of this to happen, and the way it’s being exploited by a kind of opportunistic infection. Choosing not to participate in politics does not make one immune. This is particularly true given that we’re experiencing an artificially created economic crisis concurrently with the same forces wanting to remove the social safety net that is the only thing between what we have right now and an actual depression. Most working people curse the poor and not the wealthy for their problems, but they have a lot more in common with the people they look down on. And this whole mental complex has developed into a kind of sadistic mania.

We have to ask ourselves how this can be happening. I think we need to cultivate an understanding of what is happening within humanity, and I mean that on an individual level (you and me), then multiplied out by however many people there are. What we think of as “the media” is prohibited from discussing this issue as a matter of personal ethics, and it’s not a small matter. Politics is currently all pumped full of religious rhetoric, which is a ruse for something that’s essentially a spiritual problem. Let’s consider the conjunction happening in Sagittarius for a picture of how that looks. Sagittarius is the sign associated with the spiritual quest, or quests of any kind for that matter. I like Alice A. Bailey’s description of that sign the best: the arrow represents the one-pointed direction of the soul determined to be conscious, free, and most importantly, determined to travel on its path of initiation or discipleship.

Sagittarius is on one level about the centaur (who shows up there in some representations of the sign, because it’s in the constellation Centaurus), and this describes the spiritual question of, ‘Am I a man, or am I an animal?’ The whole war against sex that politics is currently so drunk on plays off of that very conflict, and it’s a septic conflict at the moment: it’s infected. If we take Sagittarius on what you might think of as a more evolved level, it’s about the quest of making contact with one’s soul. And here, our society and many people in it have a little problem. The way most people are trying to handle the infection factor, and many other attributes of the issue, is with painkillers. This is represented by Pholus, which is about intoxicants; those include everything from alcohol to video games. One of the mental states of Pholus is being so drugged that you’re out of contact with yourself, and as a result, out of control. Hylonome is the next factor—a planet about grief and how we deal with it, extending from the most personal response to mass eruptions in society. It’s about “the cry of the poor” (a cry growing louder by the day) and how we respond to it. Hylonome can have a suicidal or “senseless” quality. We must suppress an enormous amount of grief just to get through the day. We do so every time we turn away from pain and suffering, every time we walk past someone we could afford to help, every time we train ourselves to be insensitive. We might dress this up as “having boundaries,” or we could say that to be alive right now, many think it’s necessary to live behind walls.

You can think of people who cheer about a patient dying, or inmates dying, as a wall. What is behind that wall? The answer is a world of pain. This would be better served in a therapy room, and is safe enough in one’s living room, but when it becomes expressed as public policy, we all have to be concerned. I have also mentioned Ixion, the small planet hanging out in this neighborhood, the one that’s about lack of morals and ethics; in a word, depravity, disguised as religion (nothing new, I know). Ixion has been working over the Great Attractor for several recent years, evangelizing the weak with the idea that there is no difference between right and wrong. As for the Great Attractor itself. What we know is that it’s a supermassive, pumped-up, radioactive deep-space point that even astronomers have a hard time understanding. It’s not what you would call human. Nobody has ever seen it. Its existence is inferred by many clues, such as all the galaxies rushing in its direction—more than a million of them. But it’s rushing away at the same time. If Sagittarius has anything to do with our soul’s quest, this is an extremely tense situation—and to some degree we are all in it. We might start to work out our situation with a basic understanding of cause and effect. Every effect has a cause, every cause has an effect, and the two cannot be separated, no matter how fast we run, or how blotto we try to make our awareness. In a word, this is the law of karma. Much of what we seem to struggle with is free will: we can choose to be compassionate or not, for example. If we have free will, then we need karma as a governing agency. We currently live as if cause and effect have no relationship. We don’t need to prove the point one way or the other—we just need to look at what is so.
Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue Studio
  • Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue Studio

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