Archive for May, 2014

New Artwork – Elemental Dancer: Water and Sun

Elemental Dancer:  Water and Sun

This is my most recent completed artwork, which I started last year. As often happens with projects like this, the core drawing in ink came together quickly, and a portion of the color as well (via Prismacolors, my preferred medium) but then I ran into a color conundrum. The “Sun” portion of this drawing is based on a composite photo of the surface of the sun over an extended time-frame, and the version of this photo that I saw was very sepia in tone, which was not working well with the blue of the water. So I set it aside for a while, and then came back to it only recently to add in a bit more orange to contrast with the blue, and finalize the blending. Limited edition prints of this piece will soon be available at my Etsy shop (I just visited the printer with this today). I will also have some prints of this available with me at my booth at Unifier Festival next weekend.

The Burning Heart of Vesta


In keeping with Neil Gaiman’s directive to “Make Good Art” being reinforced in my life by multiple astrological configurations, I’ve been endeavoring to finish more of my growing quantity of “works in progress,” one of which is this drawing based on the action of the asteroid Vesta on my natal chart through transits and synastry over the past year.

Vesta is one of the larger asteroids in our solar system, smaller than Ceres, but comparable in size to the dwarf planets Ixion and Varuna.  In the Roman pantheon, she is the goddess of hearth and home, whose worship is remembered today primarily for the Vestal Virgins who guarded her eternal flame.  In astrology, Vesta represents our focus, that which we hold sacred and what we will dedicate ourselves to.  Since my own natal Vesta is retrograde in Leo in the 11th house, my focus is creative self-expression, preferably in service to individual development that furthers the evolution of humanity as a whole (Aquarian goals represented by the 11th house), but it can take longer for me to get there due to the retrograde motion, mostly because I have to think about it more. :/  Vesta can also show where we need to withdraw on occasion, in order to refuel our fires.  In my case, that 11th house placement requires that I periodically withdraw from my friends and social activities so that I may rest and recharge (often through the act of artistic creation). For the astro-geeks out there, my natal Vesta is also the point of a focused Yod with my Sun/Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and my Mars in Pisces all exerting pressure on Vesta through inconjunct aspects, and Ceres in opposition to Vesta providing the metaphysical pressure valve. All of which adds up to a lot of attention on Vesta.

This specific drawing may seem like an awfully chilly invocation of Vesta, but it is essentially indicative of the hope of spiritual renewal through Vestal focus in the midst of a “dark night of the soul” when the seeker feels blind and lost.  The emblem being painted in the seeker’s heart’s blood is the astrological emblem for Vesta.

This drawing contains a recurring visual theme in my art, that of the sacred heart.  I was raised with a syncretic mixture of Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, with icons and statuary from all three religions placed prominently throughout our home.  I was introduced to the concept of Pantheism as soon as I was old enough to read via a children’s book called “God is Everywhere,” and read world folklore and mythology voraciously from a very early age, so that I always looked upon each new pantheon that I encountered as being both real and worthy of my respect, whether or not I chose to worship any of its members.  This extended so far that at the age of around 8 or 9 I was direly offended by a teacher who claimed that mythology was “stories once used to explain how the world works that are untrue.”  My hand promptly shot up and I offended the teacher right back by saying “why do you say the Greek and Egyptian gods are mythology but not Jesus?”  Keep in mind that I regularly attended church and Sunday school, sometimes switching denominations from week to week depending on which schoolmate was trying to convert me.  I engaged in Bible study mostly because I thought it was fun – it appealed to the occult geek in me almost as much as astrological study does now – so I really wasn’t particularly interested in being disrespectful to Jeheshua Emmanuel or Yahweh, but I wasn’t going to cotton to any disrespect toward Isis or Zeus or Thor either.  I finally stopped attending the local Lutheran church when they started bad-mouthing other religions (the Mormons, in particular), right around the same time that I realized that they weren’t too keen on my saying the rosary or believing in faeries either.  😉  But I digress…

Most of my artwork is based on spiritual and psychological exploration, and contains symbols and imagery from mythology, folklore, iconography, mandalas, yantras, astrology, tarot, runes, oghams, I-Ching hexagrams, numerology, sacred geometry, dreams, totems, and so forth in varying amounts.  Sacred heart imagery figures prominently in much of it, mostly because I view the sacred heart symbol as a means of expressing the feeling of being split open to discover a deeper truth, and all of the myriad pains, trials, and passions that our hearts are subject to.  I don’t tend to link it to any one deity, saint, or spiritual path over any other – it is far more personal than that, much like each individual’s experience of the divine.

The real question posed by Vesta is the question our most crucial life decisions turn on:  What does your heart burn for?

Layering Lessons from Multiple Astrological Events

The past couple of weeks have been a bit intense astrologically, with the April 15th Lunar Eclipse, April 23rd Cardinal Grand Cross, and April 29th Solar Eclipse all making waves, especially for people with prominent Cardinal sign placements in their natal charts.  Reverberations from such events continue in our lives for some time after the initial event, with eclipses in particular setting the tone for the next six months in whatever areas of life they impact, as represented by the houses and signs they fall into in our natal charts, progressed charts, and relocation charts.  Since I have both luminaries and multiple planets in Cardinal signs and those signs fall in the angular houses of my natal chart, I’ve been feeling the effects of the square/opposition aspects leading up to that Grand Cross for some time (primarily since the Pluto/Uranus squares started in June of 2012).  These effects have been most distinctly expressed in the dynamic between my interpersonal relationships and my livelihood and the drastic restructuring of both.  Since astrology is one of the tools I use for making sense of the universe in the midst of significant life-changes, layering in the lessons of the eclipses over the next six months seems like a useful mid-range planning tool for navigating the larger life lessons that have come to a head with the Cardinal Grand Cross (and we Capricorns love our plans!).

The Lunar Eclipse started things out with Venus in Pisces trine Jupiter in Cancer amping up sensory values, and the Moon conjunct Ceres on the North Node in Libra opposed by the Sun on the South Node in Aries.  There was a sense of fateful choice here, concerning abundance and nurturing in particular (as represented by Ceres), with the ego (Sun) sticking to the patterns of the past (South Node) and the emotions/instincts (Moon) leading toward a more fruitful future, if we could just get over our fear of change long enough to embrace it!  In my case, the eclipse fell across my 1st/7th house axis, governing my identity and my relationships, with the Moon/Ceres/North Node in my 1st house.  In connection with the Cardinal Grand Cross and the impact of the ongoing Pluto/Uranus squares on my natal chart, the Lunar Eclipse emphasized the sense of being at a major crossroads in my life.

I’ve briefly discussed the Cardinal Grand Cross here, with a heavy emphasis on Pluto because its ongoing transit through my natal 4th house and impending transit of my natal Venus, Sun, and Mercury is much on my mind lately and fueling my current Pluto studies.  Whether natal or transiting, a Grand Cross is covering all four elements in either cardinal, fixed, or mutable signs, with the energy invoked going in all four directions at once, which can emphasize a sense of being stuck or trapped.  With cardinal energy the trapped feeling especially is emphasized, as cardinal energy is initiatory, action-oriented, and so it’s looking for a place to go but being both pulled and pushed in all four directions at once it can’t really commit to going anywhere.  With Uranus in the mix, I found that this energy felt alternately frenetic then pinned in place by Plutonian control, so the actual day of the Grand Cross I wound up being much more energetic and social than I expected, but then spent the next several days in a hectic work/social schedule that was clearly too much for me, as evidenced by the fairly drastic lupus flare-up that I experienced as soon as I got a full night’s sleep after all that activity (Pluto putting the kibosh on all that rampant Uranian electricity!).  Uranus in Aries has been slowly moving out of conjunction to my natal Moon and opposition to my natal Uranus on my Ascendant/Descendant axis, and at the time of Cardinal Grand Cross was almost exactly conjunct my natal Vertex in the 7th house.  So the sense of a fateful crossroads being invoked in the Lunar Eclipse was even more emphasized for me by the Cardinal Grand Cross, as the Vertex represents a twist of fate in relation to a person, place, or event.  In addition, Mars retrograde transiting my 1st house and conjuncting my natal Uranus/Ascendant has had my fiery lunar Aries temper bubbling just under the surface and constantly in danger of erupting every time I feel as though my forward progress is being thwarted, which during Mars retrograde in Libra seems to be most of the time!  Thus, a lot of the reverberations of the Grand Cross for me have involved finding ways to channel my energy and agitation when my conscious will comes to an impasse.  There is a strong feeling here of the need to rewrite the rules under which I have been living (Pluto), and side-step old patterns of dealing with problems, like Alexander slicing through the Gordian knot (the thought of which always has my inner comic book geek quoting Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias of The Watchmen:  “Lateral thinking, you see.  Centuries ahead of his time.”).  This is heightened by Jupiter in my 10th house opposing Pluto and demanding that I re-make my career with more faith and vision.

The Solar Eclipse’s Mercury/Sun in Taurus conjunct to my natal Saturn trined Pluto in Capricorn beginning its transit of my natal Venus/Sun/Mercury in my 4th house.  Since a Solar Eclipse happens during a New Moon, it has an initiatory quality to it, a time of new beginnings characterized by the occultation of the ego by emotions and instincts and then the ego’s subsequent revelation after the darkness – as if our natures are revealed more fully by first hiding them and then drawing the curtain away again, emphasizing what was hidden.  This is all the more true when it taps into Pluto, which governs mysteries and secrets.  Mercury conjuncting the Sun and Moon in Taurus emphasizes communication of Venusian matters (since Taurus is ruled by Venus).  These include our values, love, pleasure, the arts, and creature comforts.  Since all of this is occurring in my natal 8th house, there is the potential for deeply transformative results from this kind of communication, and since this eclipse conjuncts my natal Saturn, that challenges my inhibitions and feelings of limitation.  Yet Saturn never challenges us without also giving us the strength and discipline to overcome those challenges, so here I have to face my ego, emotions/instincts, and my modes of expression in both a practical and artistic manner (Taurus/Venus) in order to work through Saturn’s challenges.  A tall order perhaps, but one in keeping with the challenge of my North Node in Pisces in the 6th house, as discussed in this blog’s first post.   In connection with Mercury’s propensity for connecting duality and oppositions, this is even more appropriate to my natal chart and my Nodal Axis, given the opposite placement of signs in all of my houses.

These three configurations are emphasizing an ongoing pattern of life-lessons I’ve been wrestling with over the past couple of years, with the changes required by those lessons about to come to a head over the next few months – right across that six-month swath of eclipse influence.  If I had to distill their underlying message for myself in a nutshell, it would most likely end up being some variation on Neil Gaiman’s advice to “Make Good Art.”  😉  Everything in my life may be going through a major overhaul, and the path before me is murky at best, but all of that trapped cardinal energy looking for an outlet has the creative engine seriously fired up, so I’ll take that as a good thing.  🙂