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Vashon Island, Friday, May 25, 2007

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SPhoto by Arun Kale.
Photo by Arun Kale.

On Birds and Dreams

By Judith Gayle

SOME SAY life is an illusion, a home movie projected by the collective unconscious on our personal viewing screen. In these days of heavy Neptunian influence, there seem to be a number of different realities playing out at once. We've got a split-screen going on, a multiplex, and it's hard to know which one to follow carefully, which to keep an eye on, which to ignore.

When I was a little kid we'd go to the drive-in on Saturday night and park in the section for the movie we'd picked; if you turned around and looked out the back window, you'd see three more giant screens showing three other films. When I got bored with whatever my parents had chosen, I'd turn and watch the other three, eyes darting from screen to screen, trying to make sense of them without dialogue. Lip reading, it turns out, is next to impossible, so I was forced to watch body language, response, costume, backdrop to get an idea of what was going on. It was good training for decoding these early years of the 21st century -- most of politics, I've found, is performance...maybe even most of life.

With Neptune opposing structured, responsible Saturn, we've had a series of shocks to the dearly held notions about our society, our leaders, and our nation that are akin to being absorbed in an epic movie and having the film break and the house lights come up. You know how cranky that makes you, especially if you were enjoying yourself. I remember the film breaking at a showing of Star Wars, years back, that I momentarily feared would lead to riot. Neptune has gone retrograde now, backing up again to let us consider our discomfort with the realities that are clamoring to intrude on us and, perhaps, notice how shabby the theater seats are and the many rips in the screen. We have plenty to be "dis-illusioned" about. We need to put down our popcorn and notice.

Neptune governs liquids, of course, so it's no surprise that we find ourselves embroiled in oil wars. In the last weeks we've seen a daily increase in gas prices to an all-time high, doubled since January. So far this year, Americans have spent an extra $20 billion dollars in fuel costs, and we have only begun the season associated with travel. One of Mr. Bush's "benchmarks" for Iraq is their pending legislation to approve shared oil revenue, giving American interests a big boost. As Iraq sits on a vast oil reserve, you can almost imagine George licking his lips in anticipation. The Iraqi government, however, is hedging on passing any laws that offer too many concessions to foreign oil companies, leading to speculation that they will be replaced in the coming months for not moving quickly enough. There's a Neptunian myth-breaker, right there -- the Iraqi government is not "sovereign" if the American president can replace it at a time "of our choosing."

Water continues to be a problem, with environmental protections turned back on over 60% of our waterways. We have drought in many sections of the country, flooding in others. The Christmas tsunami and Katrina showed us the power of water -- and the bureaucratic resistance of government institutions to rescue or restoration. Melting ice caps will raise the sea level 20 feet in the coming decades, and heat is projected to suck up what moisture remains in desert areas.

Here's a little Neptunian factoid -- we spend billions on bottled water each year although there are no indicators that it is safer or better in any way than what comes from the tap. We will, experts say, find ourselves in global water wars at some point.

Another thing Neptune calls its own is health care. All of the Democratic hopefuls are proposing universal health care of some kind; they've taken the pulse of the public and found it sickly and underserved. Mike Moore presented his latest documentary, Sicko, at Cannes last week, receiving rave reviews from even so unlikely a promoter as FOX News. We are ALL impacted by the staggering cost of drugs and medical care in this nation, with many millions uninsured. Affordable health care -- like fuel, like water -- is one of those things that people cannot do without...but have had to.

We have a number of systemic emergencies in this nation and around the world and still we continue to dream old dreams, no longer relevant but comforting. Such is the nature of Neptune, which takes the sharp edges off reality...for a while. But the Saturn-Neptune cycle is designed to bring political upheaval and social revolution. As that ratchets up, it makes us restless and unhappy, and we throw our bottled water at the screen, demanding that the film be fixed so we can sink back into our seat and dream on. The very nature of Saturn makes that impossible.

I have a living, breathing example of Neptune energy living at my house. His name is Sunshine, my much-loved canary. Sunny was named for that which is missing in the long, gloomy Missouri winter; Sun gets me through those seemingly endless monochromatic days with a song as glorious as a spring morning.

Sunny was born in an aviary and given to me as a gift. I felt sorry for him, without his noisy family. He was used to a tiny cage, but I put him in a big one so he could spread his wings. Freedom lover that I am, I find that caging birds confounds my heart -- it's not quite "right." But only the male canary sings, and only when he's alone, so unless I was going to raise a passel of birds, I was going to have to assuage my guilt. I bought him a mirror to hang in his cage.

We call the mirror Buddy, and Sun loves his Buddy -- in fact, it's his life. He gazes longingly at Buddy, pecks at it looking for response, sings it his considerable song. Buddy has a little bell on it which is constantly a-tinkle, since Sun "fights" with Buddy in a flurry of wing-flap and chirp, surely courting behavior. Sunny leaves his companion only long enough to feed and bathe -- at all other times you will find him staring at the canary-shape looking back at him.

In these few, temporary days of mild weather in the Pea Patch, I've opened the windows to air the house, and Sunshine has begun to listen to the mating calls of the many wild birds that live around my feeders. He will cock his head, warble a note or two -- and then I'll hear Buddy's bell jingle. The mirror is what he has; it's his tribe and his fixation. Beyond the mirror there are only bars. Sunny is a caged bird, destined never to try his wings for long, happy flight or fend for himself in a larger world.

The illusion of Buddy as a companion brings me to ponder how we humans do that, too. How we fixate on what we know, default to our comfort zones, insist on our illusions. When I remove Sun's mirror to clean it, he becomes nervous and disoriented. He's hooked, like we're hooked on our own particular tribal norms and value system. He's dependent, like we're dependent on the consumerism that has proven, in these last years, to have dangerous ripples around the world. He's distracted, like we're distracted by our routines and duties, our pleasures and addictions. He's content, like we're content to let somebody else "do it," take responsibility, make the calls that impact our lives. And yes, he's caged -- don't think we aren't, as well. We're caged by our own apathy and fear, and by the lazy notion that what we do doesn't make a difference.

When planets go direct, we are carried along by activity and discovery; when they go retro, we are given necessary time for reflection and consideration. With Neptune retrograde, we have another opportunity to look around us and see what's there. Some of us may discover that we're looking in a mirror; others will see the bars of the cage for the first time. Others of us might observe our lives, like I observe Sunshine's; notice the absolutes, consider the possibilities. There are always barriers to freedom -- many of us count on them, pretending they make us safe. Some of us don't want to hear the wild birds sing. Discovering what we really think about these things is a vital internal journey.

The energies upon us today are calling for change and demanding our cooperation, but first we have to get a detailed picture of what "is." Our nation, and others, are changing quickly and going in directions many of us find disturbing. If we think that's the responsibility of the politicians, then we need a wakeup call about how political realities define every detail of our lives. Would you remain in your seat, watching the last of a movie, no matter how fabulous, if you knew the theater was on fire?

In this retro period, look for truth wherever you can find it. Mind your dreams; they will inform you. Take stock of your reality, note what needs changing, and decide what you want. Understand that the changes at hand aren't some great cosmic punishment. They're a continuing journey toward liberation. Be brave and ask yourself the following questions -- the ones, mercifully, Sunny will never ask himself, but the ones the awaiting 21st century demands we answer: What's beyond the mirror?  What's beyond the bars of the cage?  When will we find our wings?

CREDITS: Managing Editor: Priya Kale. Webmaster: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Proofreader and Fact checker: Sara Churchville. Horoscope Editor: Jessica Keet.

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