A Different Christmas Carol!

Για Ελληνικά πατήστε εδώ

So, this is Christmas.  At this time of year most articles, even astrological ones, concern predictions for the New Year, Christmas or what we call Winter Solstice.  It would be a good idea to write about how wisely people in ancient times were celebrating the longest night of the year as a holiday of Light, because this point was the one that marked the gradual return of sunlight to the world. Or maybe about how they perceived the circle of life, which is so beautifully tied with the circle of Nature. Unfortunately for you, I’ve decided to write about something that while is connected with the spirit of Holy-days, is not directly found in it- at least not as it is experienced today.

In this year that is soon to pass, world facts, local facts, facts all around me, have had a huge impact on my way of thinking – or to be more specific on the way I perceive things and consequently Astrology. With the risk of becoming didactic – which is not at all my intention – I feel that this is a good time for all of us to consider what it is that we are (or aren’t, for all of those that dislike this time of year) celebrating.

Some will follow the religious path, confess, pray, receive the Holy Communion. Others will be sandwiched in long mall lines to buy things they don’t really need or think they need and buy even more stuff for others too. Some will spend holidays at work or alone; some on the streets – a result of this so called modern way of life, the homeless people. Some will laugh and some will cry; some will be hungry spiritually and others physically. This is how things are. This is life.

Bad penny: Bah! Humbug!

Let’s remember the most famous Christmas tale written by the one and only Charles Dickens, that of Mr. – I’m an- extreme case -of Melancholic temperament – Ebenezer Scrooge. Ebenezer would be a good lad, though I’m afraid, his lousy childhood made him cold as ice. He believes that Christmas is a fraud. The only thing that matters to him is money. Consequently it is a very logical conclusion that of Ebenezer, for one that keeps looking everything in the spirit of … money.

Our hero is a misanthropist, workaholic, really stingy and does not show compassion, love, or any kindness to anyone, not even to himself. His behavior is noted by higher authorities and on Christmas Eve the ghost of his deceased business partner (with a character similar to Ebenezer’s) comes to warn him to change or else he will be damned as he is, chained on Earth by his own greed. As a last chance to choose his fate, Ebenezer is told that he will be visited by three Ghosts: the one of the Christmas Past, the one of the Present, and the most notorious one, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

The Ghost of Christmas Past reveals how Ebenezer’s hatred for Christmas was generated. Except for his father abandoning him, he also lost his sweetheart when he was at younger age (both round Christmas time). You see he kept postponing the marriage until he felt that he had enough money to support a family. Of course Ebenezer is never pleased about his financial situation: he always wants more and more money. So the girl eventually loses her patience and breaks off the engagement. This makes Ebenezer even more bitter-hearted and blames everyone else except for himself.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is next. This Ghost among other things shows him the nasty situation under which his clerk is living. Under- paid of course (Ebenezer was a lousy boss indeed) and with a fragile, sick child for which the poor clerk cannot provide medicines to cure it. Even our stingy hero’s heart is touched and his compassion is awakened.

This Ghost makes a final important point: it reveals two loathsome, subhuman creatures looking like a distorted image of children and names the boy as Ignorance and the girl as Want. Then it warns Ebenezer: ‘Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased’.

The clock strikes midnight and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, appears ‘like a mist along the ground’. This Ghost is really scary; dressed in a long black cloth, silent and intimidating. (Does it remind you of someone that also carries a scythe as an accessory? Yes, that’s the guy.)

 It’s not a surprise that this Ghost shows him a funeral in making, a funeral to which no one wants to go. No one cares about the deceased person and many poor people are actually glad this guy is dead because now they won’t have to pay back the money they borrowed with blood sucking terms. The deceased person’s fortune is being stolen, scattered and sold. Ebenezer asks for some kindness in death, and the Ghost shows him another funeral, that of his clerk’s boy. The boy died, due to Ebenezer’s denial to provide a better income so that the clerk could help his child.

Finally, making the ultimate point, the Ghost and our hero are transferred to a graveyard where the Ghost points Ebenezer to a scruffy grave, with his name written on it and realizes that the dead person he was shown was actually him! This is the crux in the story for Ebenezer that comes as a shock. So strong that shock is that he asks for mercy and a chance to change.

He wakes up in his bed on Christmas day. He realizes that he’s been given a second chance. Our hero is transformed: he embraces life and people with his newly found compassion and charity. He embraces his family and offers his heart and belongings to those in need.

The story ends with these words: ‘Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms.  His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

I hope that the meaning of this story is rather obvious. I find it to be very much in the spirit of our times, as Ebenezer is found everywhere, in different expressions, in all of us. Most importantly things are a matter of perspective: how we see things that happen to us, or to others.

Putting things under another perspective, life we are given, however this life is meant to come to an end. One truth that cannot be distorted, cheated, or ignored. Material world is meant to turn to dust and through this dust, new life to come. Exactly the same way in which under the thick layers of snow, cold and darkness in this season, new life is slowly cultivating, patiently awaits for the light and heat to return, to break out again. Nevertheless this is the circle of things, and this is the exact point we keep ignoring. This circle has to do with the external reality but it is also connected with the inner reality, our life.

Despite what anti- age creams and medicine suggest, we – to my extreme disappointment of course! – remain mortal. Whatever your theology or culture about this or the next life may be, we should agree, that this one life, the one you are currently living is important. So, the ‘now’ becomes important. Because there isn’t another moment like this one, it is a moment of your personal, unique life. And in a wise chain of moments that’s called life, this moment, that will never return, is connected with the next and the past one. In this wise chain, we are meant to break out new life sometimes and others to patiently wait; sometimes we’ll be on top and sometimes at our lows. But no matter at which part of the wheel we may find ourselves we can know that lows and highs are part of the game. There’s an oldie I really like that says:

‘I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden,
along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometimes.
When you take, you gotta give, so live and let live, or let go.’

If we signed in before incarnation I think the agreement would probably resemble those lyrics. Enough about us, though. We’ve seen that life, each and every single one, is important. We’ve also seen that it doesn’t come with trouble free guarantees or with the promise to be on top of the tree. And lastly, that each moment of it is important, not because of the nature of time, but because this is our time to live and moments have their meaning in each life whether we aware that or not.

You better think: War is over (if you want it).

One way to understand how moments connect with each other is to use Astrology. And this is because Astrology as mentioned in the very first article in this blog (Astrology, an apple and a stairway to Heaven) is the tool that enables us to see the larger picture, including that of our life as a whole. Prediction is to describe a moment in a life that has not yet come to pass. In the same way in Horary charts, separating aspects show what happened in the past and the applying ones what will happen next. Of course the horary chart is the absolute hymn to ‘now’, to the particular moment for which the chart is cast.  And this is why we are advised to use Astrology with respect – the Universe is not as obsessed as we may be about a particular matter we keep asking about.

The other great moment is the one that marks a person: the moment this person is born, its natal chart. You were born once and you have only one natal chart – you see the Universe fortunately (or not) is not casting a thousand charts for one matter (that’s us) but strikes only once.

This unique chart we are given and through it we try to understand our purpose and our chain of moments to come. The problem is that one can get so involved in his uniqueness that neglects the fact that his chart, as his life, is so closely connected to other people’s and with the larger groups within which he exists: what happens to the human next to you, affects you, even if this affect is ‘minor’ or non comprehensible. It affects you, because you exist in the same wider circle that person does – consequently one way or the other another’s moment will have a result, direct or default, on yours. His grief is your grief.  His happiness is your happiness too – or it will be at ‘half past ten’ moment of your life. Of course one cannot see how this person, losing a job for instance, in the other end of the world affects his life. Well, that person that has no longer a job will not buy what another’s company is selling so in the long run you’re minus one on whatever it is that you do. Or perhaps, that person is a cousin of your boss and he fires you, to give the job to him - and so on with the scenarios, that here are only used to make the connection between us all more tangible. What concerns me here mainly is the fact that, what happens in the other end of the world has an impact on everyone because in the end, we all live under the same sky and by the way, on the same home, called Earth. The problem is that apparently we see ourselves as aliens – otherwise I can’t really explain our negligence.

Our chart, the essence of what we are, manifests in its interaction with the world. No matter the perception, or philosophy about the world one has, the fact is that we are tied to others, in the same way the planets and elements are tied together, reflecting the Cosmos. The other important thing that Astrological symbols teach us is that we can be unique, to represent our own principals, but at the same time to be tied and depended to the others, without being devalued and without devaluing something else. Say, for example we have Mars and Venus. They represent - they are - two entirely different principals.  But they are both equally important and necessary. Their individual importance however does not break the inner tie that binds them: they are both planets. As such they are destined to move, at their own speed and with their own personal baggage, but nevertheless together and along with the other planets, to reflect a person or a moment in a chart.

Chain reaction: love, the great reformer. 

Let’s expand the circle’s meaning. We manifest into the world not only through our existence, which in itself is important, but also through our actions and even through the absence of it. For all the above each one is responsible: an action (or the lack of it) creates a reaction which triggers a new action and so on, creating what we call a chain reaction. This could manifest inside a person, between two people, in a group of people, in a country, in a continent, in the world; in the Cosmos.

 This is the point from which the perception of one person changing the world was generated. For most people this is an unrealistic idea. The reason one finds this idea unrealistic is the fact that we are taught to perceive things through calculations and statistics. We live in a Mercury era. We are taught to dissect things to see what’s inside them despite the fact this dissection ruins them. We are taught to perceive our existence by dividing it from the rest of the world. And then we begin to entirely live in our microcosm, our petty interests, lost in our emotions and thoughts, separated by the rest of the world. A lonely way of life and a way of life that only brings frustration as it is against our very nature. However the truth to my view is far from what we ‘think’. The truth is that the only way to realize our self is in its manifestation to another.

The biggest trap in modern world is the belief that we have to (or can) intellectually understand everything. This is a very logical thing to do, if you are fixing your car or dealing with your computer. This is not a very good approach though, if you are trying to understand the nature of Love, Freedom, Compassion and other abstract ideas. If it were so, then one that had fallen in Love would be able to describe it, analyze it, take a picture – and probably post it on social network and become a millionaire: ‘Love uncovered!: it is red, weighs about 1 tone, 6 feet height, it is made of 5 parts of chili peppers and 4 parts chocolate, looks like a trampoline and smells like beef stew!’(Or trouble!)

So, the bad news is that we can’t understand everything using our logical process. The good news is that despite the fact we know nothing about the important things in life, we can perceive them in a default way. We can’t dissect Love, but we can feel it once we find it. We can’t dissect Freedom, but we can feel it once it’s lost. And we can’t dissect Compassion, but we can experience it when we receive or offer it.

This is the reason that I believe that one, and every single one, can indeed change the world, simply by adjusting to what really matters. Mr. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it more eloquently: ‘and now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.’

And what is essential is, to use our time, the moments that shape our life, in a meaningful way. To get there, we should start honoring the time we’re given. To do that, we must first accept our mortality and then take the responsibility for how our time is spent. That is entirely up to us.

I’ll say goodbye to 2012, with some wiser words, spoken by Mother Teresa:

‘We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’

My best wishes for health, prosperity, love and peace to all!

Postscript:  Many months have passed since this blog was launched. I’ve started  it feeling that perhaps I could, in the long run, cover the need of those that want to learn (or think) more about Horary and Astrology in general, or philosophizing occasionally and have some fun while learning. This was my personal bet: writing about important things, making terms and techniques comprehensible, without ridiculing them, and not in any case becoming consequential just for the sake of it or in fear that what’s written will not be taken seriously.

Beyond any expectations, people from all over the world shared my interests and sense of humor, filling my inbox with encouraging messages, questions and suggestions! I can only send many thanks from my heart to all of you, along with the promise to continue exactly as I’ve started - and occasionally become more surreal!