The well-used brushes of artist Martin Reyna. Photo by Danielle Voirin.
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
THE MOON is in Virgo as I write, and Venus is soon to be. We will spend some time in the energy of the Feminine. With dual rulership over Taurus and Libra, Venus is the creative portion of ourselves...the cradle of fertility, the celebration of beauty, the repository of desire, the patronage of art. Moving into earthy, practical Virgo, we must remind ourselves not to get so bogged down in details that we miss the big picture, or critical to the point of destruction rather than refinement. But surely it will, for a time, warm a world that seems to me to have grown cold in its ambitions and aggressions; my own Venus on the mid-heaven may be speaking now, but it seems to me that we cannot afford to become any more loveless and survive.
With Mars in the forefront so often, it will be a relief to bask in some feminine energy. I saw that the investigation of Chris Benoit, the professional wrestler suspected of using steroids who killed his family and himself a few weeks ago, took a turn yesterday. The tox screen revealed that he was most recently injecting testosterone, his body containing ten times the normal levels. A reporter noted that it was legal to do so and that a lot of men rely on it.
Professional wrestlers, like all action hero prototypes, are cartoons of male energy. I, for one, have about had it with the uber-male construct. It's a cross between a badly scripted soap opera and a destruction derby, reminiscent of events at the Roman Coliseum where the Great Unwashed, purposely distracted by a canny emperor, cheered for the bloody death of the loser -- a marathon of muscles, fierce growls and the cult of violence. And while the Benoit event is tragic, it shines a light on this whole form of "entertainment." Any number of people seem to think that these events are not scripted presentations, but "real" battles of the biggest and baddest. Mars, thy name is vanity.
Still, there are higher octaves of entertainment available. It interests me that when things go hard-edged and lethal in the world, the arts begin to compensate for the brutality, offering optional views of society. In an era where art has been largely forgotten, where schools do not encourage or fund the arts, and where corporate bottom-lines dictate what comes to the public eye, we still seem to get informative reflections of our sociological condition through the artist's eye. That's because life IS art, and art, life. We cannot "distract" ourselves WITH ourselves and think to escape reality for long.
In the last few years, two authors have shown us to ourselves in very entertaining ways. Even more fascinating than their staggering popularity, their epic series of fantasy stories were written years ago, of one piece, and delivered in installments that captured our imagination (and a good many of our bucks.) I'm talking, of course, about George Lucas and J. K. Rowling.
George Lucas created a review of archetypes in "Star Wars" that kept us on the edge of our seats for decades. His most recent, and last, installment gave us a time-fractured look at the "end of the beginning." The "happy ending" came in the third of his films, while the great threat to liberty came at the last of the three most recent, as flashback -- and, some say, warning. In "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," we learn how servant to the Evil Empire, Darth Vader, rises like a dark phoenix from the sorrowing, vengeful Anakin Skywalker when his beautiful wife, Queen Padmé Amidala, Senator of the Galactic Counsel, dies giving birth to twins, Luke and Leia.
While we are focused on Anakin's metamorphosis, it is Amidala who speaks for light. As Anakin grows ever closer to the manipulating Chancellor who will become the Dark Emperor, Padmé is the voice of sanity. "What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?
" she asks him. "This war represents a failure to listen. Now you're closer to the Chancellor than anyone. Please, ask him to stop the fighting and let diplomacy resume
." When all is lost, and the Old Republic has voted for the Declaration of the New Order, she is the one who sees clearly. "So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.
Over a decade ago, J.K. Rowling created the stunning world of Hogwarts, the school for young wizards and witches that exists outside the notice of the plodding, mundane Muggles. The recently released fifth movie of the Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," finds Harry falsely accused and brought before the suddenly uber-conservative Ministry of Magic -- young viewers who missed the book will be introduced to real life, in this movie. Indeed, Hogwarts itself has been turned over to a woman who appears to be formed from equal parts of Bush paranoia and faux cheerfulness; Cheney secrecy and manipulation, and the aesthetics of long-dead cosmetics queen, the relentlessly pink Mary Kay. Even the press has turned against Harry, with only the equivalent of the witchy "rags" giving his defense a twitch and a shout. This is the story of the young'uns banding together to prove Harry's innocence and make right their darkened world of authority run amok. To quote Harry, "Let the rebellion begin.
The Rowling books have been credited with an upsurge in children's literacy, brought kids back to reading. Devotees pre-order the books, to make sure not a single reading moment is lost by having to stand in lines at bookstores. The world is breathlessly awaiting Rowling's seventh, and last, offering this month, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Here we'll, presumably, learn if Harry lives through his final attack by Lord Voldemort, his sworn enemy since infancy. Like Frodo in "Lord of the Rings," we may be left wondering.
Lucas and Rowling created modern classics, using the age-old good versus evil theme. It's as fresh a topic today as it was in Shakespeare's day -- this is the human condition, nothing new under the sun. I'm sure you'll recognize it; it's George Bush's favorite subject. And let's give credit to these authors for throwing some gray into the deluded black/white scenario that GW favors. "Evil" does not live outside us, waiting to pounce -- it lives within us, waiting to surface, as pointed out by Lucas. Repression is not something that is foisted upon us unwittingly -- we accept it, bit by bit, piece by piece, until it overwhelms us with mundane logic and bureaucratic banality, rendering authority untrustworthy, as Ms. Rowling illustrates to our younger generations.
A recent article on the Potter movie enticed a blogger to whine about pundits politicizing entertainment that is meant to allow us to escape reality. "What next, the Hardy Boys investigate the Valerie Plame leak?
" writes this poster. "Nancy Drew is sent to Iraq? Where does it stop?
" Lord help us if it ever does! It is art's responsibility to inform, to inflame, to reveal, to reflect -- art is life writ large; it leads us to embrace critical thinking, feel our feelings, examine our condition, connect our dots. It teaches us about life; it introduces us to shades of gray. It teaches that "soft" Venus can sometimes eat her young -- that "hard" Mars can throw itself on its own sword for the greater good.
Venus and Mars appear greatly out of balance today as we seek a new paradigm, and they must come to a respectful partnership, soon, if this planet is to continue its evolution. Male energy must meet female in collaboration. We have seen Mars passion, too much of it these last years -- we must welcome in Venus compassion, creation, appreciation. We have seen war's message of death; we need a strong dose of beauty and art and lovingness to bring us back to life. Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter: neither bulging with muscles, neither howling at the moon -- real heroes. Leia, Hermione: not wimps, not helpless, but sharp and determined and resourceful -- real heroines. Brains, not brawn -- heart, not vengeance. The prototypes we admire in our fantasies are what we need to embody ourselves.
Life imitates art, they say -- and vice versa. Of course! We're the artists, we're the admirers of art, we're the art itself. That was a bit Chopra-like, but you get it. The colors we paint with are the ones inside ourselves -- the songs we sing are the ones that spill out of our hearts. We have our own style of wizardry, our Jedi skill to rely on -- all we seek is within us. So go create some beauty today, in honor of Goddess, in honor of life...for love's sake. For your own.
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