Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Of Cancers and Leos Part 2

Rather than talk about Leo exclusively during this month of the lion (at least until the 23rd of August) as I rightfully should, I will be continuing to talk about the strange connections between Cancer and Leo natives. This particular dynamism has become evident to me recently mostly by way of the media’s highlighting the life of the late Julia Child with the opening of the new Meryl Streep film, in which Meryl plays the 6’’2 pre-Internet cuisine impresario. Also, in a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine column, Michael Pollan discusses Child as being the real thing in the sense of her being a superb chef who relished her craft above media coverage and endorsement deals; she got her hands dirty and enjoyed it.

My interest in Child has more to do with her sun sign in that she was a Leo native yet her extreme passion for food was stated in her own words as:

“My favorite thing is eating.”

This kind of thinking would seem to have a significant connection to the sign of Cancer, which essentially is the quintessential sign of both nurturing, appetites and … well … emotional eating!

Last Friday I was speaking with a former neighbor who is also a New England Culinary Institute chef and instructor. What was interesting to note was that she is a Leo, yet her love of food really seems Cancerian somehow (and I don’t know her chart, so I can’t comment on the luminaries, etc.). Chef Sara also had the opportunity to actually cook for Julia Child some years ago, so I became intrigued as I noticed the connection once again between Leo and Cancer. Two Leos went gaga over food – where was the Cancerian in the room? Does there need to be one?

As in last month’s blog entry as to which is the true sign of high summer, Cancer or Leo, there is a definitive association between Cancers and Leos involving hot weather, food, sunshine and the nurturing of the young.

Another association between these two summer signs becomes illustrated as we examine the Cancerian nature of the moon landing (the moon –duh!), yet Neil Armstrong of said fame is a Leo. I may go as far as saying that there is an association between deep appetites and ego-based splendor. And why not? The sun and the moon remain in an intense relationship that essentially dictates our life here on earth. It would seem quite reasonable, then, to see how clearly Cancer and Leo remain connected; it as though together they make an original force with tremendous power. After all, they are the sun and the moon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Who Owns The Summer?

I am listening to Joan Osborne’s “If God Were One of Us” and remembering the nineties as I am working on this blog entry. And indeed she is a Cancer native. Her fleshy appearance and fluid vocals demonstrate what a musical crab can look and sound like.

Here we are in July 2009 and surely this month belongs to the crab. It is suddenly the blessed time of midsummer once again here in Vermont. This is the season the average Vermonter dreams about all year. We, in the northeast of the United States, have all experienced the longest day of the year more than a week ago and the move toward shorter days is upon us. Fear not, however, for we are only losing about a minute of sunlight per day and we have many hot months ahead of us delivered up with plenty of sun if we are lucky.

It is, nevertheless, quite strange that already by the beginning of July we are losing about a minute of sunlight each day; in essence, we are moving toward autumn via a silent trickle. As is always the case with time and the seasons – inevitably, they move on and perhaps it is this fact that makes the human condition so fragile. If we attempt to attach lasting happiness to seasons, weekend vacations, or even favorite times of day, well, it is inevitable that these brackets of time will come and go with no chance of capturing the exact moment ever again except through an old photograph or a recording. Inevitably, if we wait for the zenith of some occurrence, it will no doubt arrive quickly and great hardship will ensue as we await the next pinnacle of some such time or place to come again.

Trying to achieve the perfect spot and time to dwell in is no easy task. Ridley Scott’s monumental science fiction film “Blade Runner” examines from top to bottom the idea of human memory asking the question: are we simply the sum total of our memories? This is fascinating to ponder, but for our purposes here I will simply put forward the notion that happiness is doomed if we attach it to specific times and places for in our collective hearts we realize that all is transitory and that not one time can really be better than any other. The globe turns and the seasons change and the body ages.

This situation is certainly true of the summer solstice as well although most of us are just concerned that the temperatures stay warm. Most folks tend to wait for the arrival of the heat of summer and barely notice the calendar date, say, once we are in June and the sun is prominent enough for people to be convinced late spring is well under way. The beeches and outdoor cafes soon fill up. Some t-shirt and shorts types may experience the end of summer fears after the fourth of July celebrations are over (nothing is quite so shocking as waiting for fireworks, experiencing them, and then suddenly all of it being over), but generally many people consider the 4th of July festivities to be the actual kickoff of summer.

For me, as an existential Scandinavian living in Vermont, it is a common feeling in my life to mourn for summer after the fireworks are over. A little voice inside my head states that an apex of some sort has already been reached. Anyway ...... this is too much talk about fireworks. What I really want to talk about is the summer solstice.

Few people tend to have solstice blues that result from knowing that the longest day of the year has already occurred.

For myself, however, I view the solstice as a completion of the waiting for longer days and the completion of the longest day cycle. “Achieving” the solstice seems a tremendous calendar goal for me. I use this ideation to jump at this month’s topic with concern towards the sign of Cancer and Leo.

An astrological riddle for me personally is whether LEO or CANCER has the ultimate connection to midsummer. Both of these signs are clearly associated with summer and lushness in nature, but my question is concerning the idea of whether the boiling sun glare of Leo is about midsummer (though clearly Leo arrives well after midsummer), or is it the changeable and ephemeral Cancer that connects to midsummer moonlight even more powerfully.

It is strange to think about Cancer as a “seasonal sign” because of the glyph’s obvious association to 6 and 9, which I like to connect to a strange yin and yang force (the oral sex reference works as well because there is no doubt that Cancer is very much about the mouth and about appetites:). What is noteworthy is that Cancer seems to be about summer nights where as Leo is about burning summer days.

I propose a new way of understanding Cancer and Leo – it would seem that they are both connected to the summer solstice. Ironically, it would seem that Leo is somehow more powerful because it is about Mars and the hot sun; yet, the moon is so much closer to the earth and obviously the moon controls the tides and the feelings in our bodies that come from the night waters – think dreams and other intense nocturnal behaviors!

Summer, then, would seem an amalgamation of Cancerian and Leonic themes. Summer babies are born via the maternal Cancerian and fathered and played with by Leo dads –gender lines can easily be crossed here, but not so much within the symbolism of these two very distinct energies that govern the very nature of summer for all practical purposes. The crab and the lion seem an unlikely pair, but together they create our summer memories, some of which will be photographed and poured over in time by the Cancerian family historians. Happy Summer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ms. Barr's Contact Info

Jennifer Countney Barr - Artist Birthday: June 3 Sun Sign: Gemini
I am the youngest of seven children born and raised in New London, Wisconsin. I liken this statement to being raised in a cardboard box. My mother made every effort to raise me with the Roman Catholic fear of damnation. This alone might explain my curiosity about other people’s human experience and my desire to find beauty through art. But, for me creating art is a cathartic process of expressing ideas about family, spirituality, nature and duality. I work on multiple artworks at a time on a table, easel or on the floor. I use pencil, ink, charcoal, pastels, wax, coffee, wine, oil, acrylic and water color paints. The surface of the picture may be layered with newspaper, pages from a book, wallpaper, wood, metal, paper or canvas. My style is a combination of photorealism and abstraction, allowing me to blur the lines of what is and what could be.

Jennifer Countney Barr – Fine Artist
1396 River Road, Montpelier VT 05602 Phone: (802) 229-5864

April 26 to May 3, 2009
Vermont Studio Center Vermonter’s Week Fellowship, Johnson, VT:
Mixed Media Paintings and Drawings created and shown at 25th Anniversary Gala.

May 2008
Group Show “Revelations” at Nectars, Main Street, Burlington, VT:
Mixed Media Collage Drawings based on the theme of interconnectedness.

Sept. 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001
South End Art Hop – South Burlington, VT:
Mixed Media Paintings and Drawings; abstract and photorealistic.

April 2007
“Spring, Sprang, Sprung” - Green Bean Gallery, Capitol Grounds, Montpelier: Drawings and Watercolor Paintings – photorealistic portraits of children, flowers and vegetables at various stages of growth.

“Serenity” - The Cobblestone Deli – Battery Street, Burlington, VT:
Mixed Media Collage Paintings of nature.

Sept. 2005
Women Helping Battered Women Arts Auction – Daily Planet, Burlington, VT:
Donated a large scale Mixed Media Painting titled “Nightmares”.

Nov. 2003
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Auction – Burlington, VT:
Donated for Auction a large scale Mixed Media Collage Drawing “Finding Common Ground” based on religious symbols from several major religions.

June 2001
Art’s Alive Fine Arts Festival – Church Street, Burlington, VT:
Collage Drawings at Echo & voted “Best New Vermont Artist”.

August 2000
“On the Line” Daily Planet – Burlington, VT:
Charcoal & Mixed Media Drawings hung on a clothesline with clothespins.

Sept. 1999
Rhombus Gallery – Cherry Street, Burlington, VT:
Mixed Media Collage Drawings & Paintings

Aug. 1999
Arts Alive Chair Painting – Main Street Landing, Burlington, VT
Donated a hand painted chair with a water nymph motif to benefit Arts Alive.

May 1999
Teaching Collage Style Drawing at So. Burlington High School
Volunteer based class for 40 students for Career Day creating Collage Style Drawings using the theme of “Life’s Road Map”.

Sept. 1998
Very Special Arts – Burlington, VT
Donated a pastel and mixed media drawing entitled “Roosters” for Auction at $3000.00 to benefit the Vermont based children’s organization.

May 1997
Steve’s ICE CREAM in Newtonville, MA
Charcoal Drawings of children, a Victorian house, a French model; self portrait.

Sept. 1996
CafĂ© Moca – Boston, MA
Mixed Media Drawings & Poetry reflecting imagery and impressions of city life.

June 1996
“Rebecca” St. Cloud Playhouse
Abstract and Photorealistic Mixed Media drawings and paintings of Women
paired with the play “Shirley Valentine”.

May 1996
“Lost & Found” at Keihle Visual Arts Gallery at St. Cloud State University, MN
Mixed Media drawings and paintings with the theme of opportunities and losses.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Nature of Twins

Hi all! I am very slowly getting used to being a father. Most activities have increased in scope and intensity except for sleeping! I feel older now than ever before, yet there is also a freshness to the life experience that has truly grown since Abigail and Josh arrived on the scene on April 2nd.

It has been interesting to see my own twins in action during the last months and to ponder the phenomenology of “twindom” – I consider this performed work to be put to good use in this month’s Gemini blog.

As I write this post I am listening to old Prince music and truly there is no better musical communicator than his royal badness. His music and presentation are proficient and transcendent and he is a fantastic band leader and multi-instrumentalist. In a word, an amazing Gemini. The man is a million personas at any one time. So glad that he is still doing music. He and Miles Davis – double Geminian musical proficiency at its height.

So who or what is a Gemini? Well, supposedly this sign tends to manifest the very idea of twindom!There is a twoness to twins, obviously, and as far as my own twins go, I imagine that as they grow older they will be having to work on the problem of what is me and what is my sibling and, perhaps, what is us together. Already one can notice the definite complexity of the Gemini. Anyone who spends time with a Gemini native understands that there are many folks appearing from out of that one human body and mind. I have known many Geminis over the years and indeed they are communication specialists and seem forever youthful both in appearance and in demeanor. Often they are great talkers and tend to act as butterflies flying from one rapid social transaction to another. They also tend to forever be on the go.

This month I would like to simply feature a Geminian artist. She is the Vermont artist, Jennifer Countney Barr. Jennifer has been a friend of my wife’s and it has been a pleasure getting to know here and her husband, Rick. Jennifer works in a variety of mediums, but her favorites generally involve works on canvas. Jennifer captures the complexity of color and texture and always produces work that is rich in meaning and theme. She makes amazing collages.

So what makes Ms. Barr particularly Geminian? Well, there are a number of qualities that do. When Jennifer walks into a room she has a youthful appearance and cheeriness that is impossible not to be lifted up by.

Her art is as complex as she is. Best of all, Jennifer is ever changing as is her artwork! The Geminian is forever fascinating.

Behold, then, my Cancerian wife at left and the Geminian artist on the right.

Happy Twinning!
Please view Ms. Barr's Profile and Bio below:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Trio of Tough Taureans

Ahhhh, how the soothing temperature shifts and how the bird songs of May have been washing over all of us in beautiful springtime Vermont! As I sat on our deck the other evening, I watched the neighbors actively feeding a fire that they had built in their fire pit. The smell of smoke was heavenly as various tendrils of hickory lifted off into the cooling night breezes. Our neighbors were gathered around a newborn and a multitude of generations intermingled as the fire was fed. In the distance you could hear the sounds of nocturnal birds crying in the distance. All in all I would call this a perfect Taurean moment. A simple enjoyment of the season and the outside world is important to the Taurus native. The typical Taurean scene of a bull lazily chewing in a verdantly green meadow communicates this same feeling of earthy contentment. What else could the month of May possibly be about?

For this month’s column, I would like to explore three Taurean figures all of who exemplify the solidity of this sun sign. These three figures are male, so sorry ladies not to include you in on this one, but the point that I am driving home in this instance involves three long-lived males of societal prominence in American life. And these 3 gentlemen have certainly lived life to the fullest!

The first figure who I would like to mention is Pete Seeger who recently turned an amazing ninety! This man of song and social activism exemplifies the very best of Taurean qualities. Pete’s solid approach to living rests in his values of social justice and achieving peace and equality for all peoples. At his ninetieth birthday party celebration in New York fellow Venutian Bruce Springsteen said of Pete Seeger that: “At ninety, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself.” This phrase truly exemplifies what a morally strong Taurean can accomplish! The Taurean super citizen is grounded enough to teach others by example no matter how dysfunctional or compromised others around them appear to be. The fixed sign of Taurus can teach others how to “live right” in this complicated world. I have always loved the phrase that appears on Pete Seeger’s banjo: “This instrument surrounds hatred and causes it to surrender.” No more beautiful life credo has ever been written on any instrument.

Recently deceased Studs Terkel also is a prime example of the “super world citizen”. His life work of bringing the history of the common person out into the front of American privileged life is extraordinary. Terkel possessed an unparalleled enjoyment of hearing people’s personal stories and recording them for history, but I also believe for his own individual enjoyment. Indeed, there is no stronger device for the study of history, than simple oral tradition. Terkel was as tireless and as solid as they come and within his examination of people’s lives within the pages of his books, it is easy to see how American social policy was eventually steered towards the light through his efforts.

Finally, I would like to raise another figure up to the light as a Taurean dynamo and that would be good old Willie Nelson. In the tradition of Seeger and Terkel, Willie has stubbornly stayed on the road playing that extremely beat up nylon string and connecting with causes such as Farm Aid. Willie has not changed his image or his music to match the times, yet old and new fans coming under his spell are instantly transported to a place of the best that the heartland offers to Americans of all faiths and cultures. His music and persona exemplify a belief in the land itself. Also a noteworthy Taurean quality of Willie’s is his love of marijuana; Taureans love their earthly pleasures, right?! British studies have recently linked a decrease in Alzheimer numbers among men forty and older who moderately smoke marijuana (conversely men under forty who smoke are putting themselves at risk for prostrate and respiratory diseases!). Older gentlemen, then, especially Taureans should be able to enjoy their earthly pleasures without the guilt!

Learn to be grounded by spending time listening to Pete, Studs, and Willie telling their stories.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I think that most people simply love the spring! There can be little doubt that this time of year creates at least in New England a sense of explosive energy that is perhaps like no other season that exists in the calendar year. It is a time of incredible growth and new things coming at everyone at top speed: the garden begins to grow, the projects pile up at work (depending on the industry) and the light begins to glare from the sky; we suddenly remember sweating as we begin to worship the sun anew.

People simply go crazy during the spring in Vermont; when that sun finally comes out from behind the clouds life begins again in Burlington as if the government were spraying the masses with Oxycontin and cocaine from the sky. Large waves of color sweep through the previously brown fields and forests as birds begin to sing – loudly – when just a few weeks ago there was simply a cold silence ever present in the outside world. Even if it snows or hails – the sun will eventually clean up the mess.

As far as my reasoning goes, after the spring equinox occurs on March 20th, we, in the western hemisphere, have entered into the time of Aries. And if nothing else, the Ram is all about super powerful beginnings and forward movement. Up and up is the direction. Burn baby burn!

The Aries sun sign manifests the energy of spring, which is virtually unstoppable once it gets going. Newness and power are the birthright of this forward moving sign. I contend that Aries is also the most athletic sign with natives born in this time period of the year having tremendous nervous energy to use for projects; most Aries will have a nervous foot tapping or roving eyes that keep scanning the room for the next interesting thing to pursue. Both the male and female Aries exemplify a natural physicality that is second to no other astrological sun sign. They are competitive and eager to be number one in virtually any area of life and they will delight also in the pursuit of this action. Aries loves action and even loves the love of action!

Now the funny thing with Aries is that other sun sign natives actually can very much enjoy the company of Aries when the Aries is in competitive mode because Aries shines during this moment. The sun that burns on the spring beach bringing in the happy cries of seagulls and returning geese is pure Arien energy released into nature. And when an Aries is performing at the peak of its capability all are suddenly blinded. A blazing start to a season of growth begins here!

As a double Libran, I am always fascinated by the Arien energy for its incredible explosiveness and consistent power.

Lest you believe I know something about astrology, I present to you my own Aries children, Joshua and Abigail – both of whom will surely kick my Libran ass into a real understanding of sun sign number one!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Understanding Pisces or Pisceans is never easy. Although I have had numerous friends and two mothers-in law with this sun sign, it is still challenging to define them exactly. Since we in the northeast are now entering once again into the time of Pisces, I thought to share an experiential viewpoint of the twin fishes.

Before meeting my most excellent wife, I was a very lonely man. I believe that this specific time period was towards the end of winter in 2003. The skies were gloomy as I sat sulking. As I looked back at my life, it all seemed quite painful and meaningless. I stood alone upon the cliffs overlooking Lake Champlain at Oakledge Park in Burlington. I was cold and twilight was beginning to settle. I felt exhausted and did not feel life; I felt death. As I sat quietly in the stillness involved in this negative vibe, I suddenly started to hear cracking and dripping. Wow! Winter was around BUT the lake was starting to defreeze and the dripping became louder and louder until I realized that all around me was water flowing and moving. Soon I had escaped my prior feelings of no movement and no life. This I believe is at least one of the powers of Pisces. It is all about water flowing and morphing and flooding and dripping and if we realize that the planet is mostly water, well then, water is no small deal. It would appear that water ultimately controls all.

As I write this month’s astro piece, I am also pondering the huge belly of my pregnant wife. The twins in there are floating in water and though they are not supposed to be Pisceans according to the delivery predictions, I can’t help but feel that they are Piscean symbols nonetheless attached to cords and swimming inside a living fish tank.

Anyone reading about astrology will inevitably get to the entries about Pisces saying that they are old souls and the Buddhist in me acknowledges that perhaps if they are really old souls, they just might not be coming back after this lifetime at all. Perhaps they are off to Nirvana upon the end of this life. This being said, then, let it be known that to nail down a Piscean is just silly and a waste of time. It is a nebulous and undulating creature that has many artistic, psychic, and healing abilities. These natives tend to have liquid eyes that stand out even from their rising sign characteristics. Keep gazing into those eyes and you will see a whole aquarium in there! Perhaps the first celled creatures that came out of the primordial ooze were Piscean – liquid made flesh! Other physical characteristics that stand out in Pisces individuals seem to be a kind of porpoise quality in the body or a flipper-like quality in the arms. I am not saying that they all can or like to swim, but can you imagine them suddenly morphing back into a mermaid or into Poseidon? I realize that this is a stretch, but give it a try next time you are having an intense conversation with a twin fish.

Pisces tends to absorb all like an emotional sponge and needs real solitude to recover. Though the same can be said about Cancerians to a degree, I feel that the Cancerian recovery from stress is markedly different. The Cancerian will simply need to eat some home cooking-style comfort food (OK – a lot of it) and more or less upon the conclusion of the meal be recovered. Not so for the Piscean. They are going to need much more time and much more solitude to extract themselves from everything and everyone that has globed onto them. This is what happens when a liquid creature comes onto land – all kinds of things stick to it suddenly and it is painful to them. They need to stay well lubed like a tadpole.

The other typical connection with Pisces is of course the planet Neptune, which in astro terms always bespeaks illusion and nebulousness. This could take the form of pursuing many relationships and marriages such as in the case of Elizabeth Taylor, Piscean par excellence or the multitude of conflicting images and stories we have of America’s first president, George Washington. It is noteworthy that one of the most enduring images of him is his crossing of the Potomac River on the bow of that little skiff. Old George even connects to a Piscean image with the myth of him pleading guilty upon the chopping down of the cherry tree. This image has been portrayed many times and often there is an illusionary quality to it.

Please see the image for this month, which is so Piscean! It is the book cover to author evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin’s “Your Inner Fish”. I got the chance to read it before it hit the shelves of the major book stores through a friend of mine. Though I am no scientist, I understand that a major premise of the book is that we are all carrying vestigial fish elements in our skeletal structures. Perhaps in a fashion, we are all Piscean. You go Tiktaalik roseae!