4 Capricorn Lessons for Christmas…

My wife is a 1st generation Persian-American, meaning her parents didn’t grow up with Christmas movies and dramas. So she missed out on a lot of traditional Christmas movies like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snow Man,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and, one of my favorites, “The Bishop’s Wife.” Even though, as a Muslim, I’m no longer enchanted by Christmas anymore, it was nice to re-discover some of these movies through older eyes, since I hadn’t seen a few in decades.  I realized that most of them had themes that related to what’s often associated with Capricorn. Only fitting since Christmas happens during Capricorn season. Some were more obvious than others.

“The Bishop’s Wife,” speaks to that on a more subtle level, considering the leads are two Capricorn actors, Cary Grant and Loretta Young, in the original film. In the 1996 remake, “The Preacher’s Wife,” Dudley the angel is again played by Capricorn Denzel Washington. (It’s also noteworthy that the Capricorn angel’s assignment and foil, the Bishop/Preacher, were both played by Pisceans—David Niven in the original and Courtney Vance in the remake.

Capricorn Cary Grant (Dudley), Pisces David Niven (The Bishop), Capricorn Loretta Young (The Bishop’s wife)

As for shared themes, let’s skip the most obvious one that they all talk about remembering that it’s Jesus birthday. Not all of them do it, but enough do.

Here are FOUR lessons:

1. Life is precious, so don’t waste it being angry. This is clear in “Rudolph,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Santa Claus is coming to town,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and several others.   Life can be long, as only Saturn, Capricorn’s planetary patron, can attest. Most of the things you could feel inclined to be pissed off about have changed, even if you haven’t.  And if those things or people haven’t changed and you haven’t changed, then being pissed off hasn’t worked either.  So you might as well let that go.  I guess Christmastime is as good a time as any.

 2. Appreciate yourself and your gifts as precious and unique.  The messages in the stop-animation movies are continually that it’s okay to be different and unique.  Now that may seem more an Aquarian theme, admittedly, but I think it works with Capricorn as they share a planetary patron, Saturn. I also think that the lesson isn’t so much about the gift, but having responsibility for that gift. That’s all Cappy, baby.  You can and do something about the gift. You only have to find your place for it.  And finding your place could come from hard work and breaking away from the pack like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, or it might find you, like one Christmas eve when Santa comes to ask if you’ll lead his sleigh that night.  But time and patience will render the perfect opportunity for you to share your gifts with the world.

3. Don’t confuse the essence of who you are with the way you narrate your story. Every single one of these dramas mess with time and plot on some level, whether it’s a time-traveling all in one night like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” the alternate universe of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or the memory erase of Dudley the Angel in “The Bishop’s Wife.” Even the more modern tale, “A Christmas Story,” has the lead narrate a childhood story without revealing his present.  True to form, the planet Saturn, also named Chronos–Father Time–teaches that time is a matter of perception. In fact, Capricorn shows us a trick of perception with time. There are some Capricorns (and folks, in general) who feel that time is something that must be constantly managed and controlled to achieve their destiny. Not saying they’re wrong, because sometimes that happens—they manage their microseconds and achieve everything they want.  Other kinds of folks and Capricorns, have to live long enough (and even that doesn’t always have to be long) for life to find them and unfurls their destiny and fame, like Dr. King or Zora Neale Hurston in due time.  We can believe that we’re masters of time, but it’s more our perception that makes time seem like it’s our servant.  What we’re really focusing on, as these Christmas dramas remind us, is that we live by our essence, not the tick-tock of the clock or how we see our lives in chronological order. However, you project your essence, whether it’s like Scrooge to think that time’s money or the sum total of useless, nonsensical moments because you’re suicidal, like George Bailey, is up to you. But that may not be the real you. You can change your story and order of it to match your essence.

4. Know what you want and be ready to hold on to it. Christmas/Capricorn season rolls around to remind us what’s important, especially since a lot of our true desires get buried through the years, not just the year.  I was most intrigued by this lesson in “The Bishop’s Wife.”  SPOILER ALERT!, in case you’re like my wife and haven’t seen it:  The Bishop almost comes to blows with Dudley the Angel over his wife. Dudley smiles, saying his work is done, even though he had indeed fallen for the Bishop’s wife and thus had almost fallen as an angel. (I suppose Dudley even had a stirring of his own desire too. Dudley reminds the Bishop that he had prayed for guidance, thinking what he truly desired was a cathedral. Dudley came to guide him toward his real desire: the love of his wife. It’s interesting because Dudley does this for every character in the film, getting them to tap into their true and deepest buried desires. Like those characters, once that desire surfaces, then it can fly and become our destiny, if we let it.  Christmas is a time to tap into that. A precious time to unwrap our real gifts that have been wrapped so lovingly by the Cosmos and to cherish who and what matters most as the best way to be present.

And here are some horoscopes to contemplate the season as well:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/zodiac-lounge-your-horoscopes-this-week-1223-1229#ixzz2oPGQoFKS
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Nothing like the Sun…

As Venus prepares to retrograde in Capricorn, I can’t help but think about what she and her retrograde signify in our larger American society. One manifestation of my recent thoughts on her comes from my studies in Islam. In Islamic thought, there’s the concept of Allah (G-d) as reflective of two principles: Tanzih and Tashbih. With the concept of Tanzih, everything in the Cosmos is unlike Allah as Allah is incomparable and transcendent. It’s the opposite of thinking that God is everything and everything is God. With the concept of Tashbih, everything relates or is like Allah in that Allah has those traits or is the source/embodiment of a trait that we express as well, like love or mercy. One interesting distinction is that Tanzih often emphasizes how Allah has distance from us through wrath or judgment. Tashbih relates more to the mercy and compassion of Allah.

If you’re curious about how Venus relates to race, racism or injustice, you might want to start here with Nick Dagan Best’s amazing correlation between Venus cycles and African American history. In that blog post, Nick does an amazing job of illustrating that the similitude function of Venus warps in American polity when it comes to race. It becomes a dissimilitude instead of a similitude. This dissimilitude between what’s perceived as Black & White is what’s at the heart of the unjust experiences of Black people. In fact, it was a few weeks before the last Venus retrograde in May 2012 that much of Black America was mobilized to bring George Zimmerman to justice for the murder of Trayvon Martin in late February of that year. And then he got off this year. I’m not in the position to debate the measure of justice Trayvon’s family received as I didn’t watch the case closely. However, it’s become apparent to many that the “Stand your ground” laws and practices are coming under question, like with the cases of  Marissa Alexander in Florida (again) and Renisha McBride in Detroit, MI. With the McBride case about to go to trial, I find it all too strong a parallel with what we were contending with during Venus’ last retrograde.

But what set me flowing about Venus retrograde as a manifestation of Tanzih or what’s incomparable is the rash of “blackface” shenanigans we had this past Fall. Here’s a piece from fellow Ebony.com writer Jamilah Lemieux about it.  But a thought occurred to me this year about blackface that hadn’t before: it would seem some White folks find being a Black person in costume incomparable to their own experience without wearing brown or black make-up. That’s bizarre since I’ve never donned any White make-up to be any number of White people I’ve been in my life.  It’s as if the color of a Black person’s skin becomes the only pathway to finding a shared point of humanity in “being” or looking like the person. This not only shows a paucity of imagination, but empathy as well. It’s as if for these folks, some of them even good hearted in wanting to pay tribute to some notable Black person, Blackness is a thing so incomparable to their own Whiteness, so tanzih in their own experience, that they can not enter the guise of someone else without painting themselves. That’s profoundly sad. It’s not even maddening for me anymore.

I’m pretty sure the answer is not just in telling folks to step out their “Tanzih” zone and reach for more Tashbih. I think we can find a more nuanced way to appreciate space for both. That’s what made me think of Shakespeare’s Love sonnet 130:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

What’s beautiful about this sonnet is how Shakespeare expresses how we can have the idea of the incomparable yet find love and appreciation all the same without denigration. A love sonnet is naturally under the auspices of Venus. A Venus in Capricorn is an astrological marker for how Venus seeks to find and experience value in the world of competence and materialism. Taken together, I hope we experience events, whether it’s the McBride case or Alexander case, or, heaven forbid, something new, that help us bridge the gaps in our imagination and empathy. That we find more space for tashbih and reserve the space for the incomparable for Supreme values that borrow from the Divine, but can never embody wholly as humans. One of those values is not your skin color, though.

Happy Full Moon!

Here’s how the Venus retrograde may manifest for some by Sun, moon or rising sign this week:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]


Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/zodiac-lounge-your-horoscopes-this-week-1216-1222#ixzz2nlP9euLq
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What a half-billion egg recall is really about…

This morning, while only thinking about having eggs for breakfast, I saw that there’s a half-billion egg recall because of a salmonella breakout in 17 U.S. states.  I was flummoxed because I couldn’t recall when I’ve seen a 1/2 billion recall of anything.  And let’s be clear about something here: we’re not really talking about a recall as much as throwing all that food in the trash! Of course, someone might test some of the eggs, but the truth is that these companies have fouled up and fouled up big!

The short answer for why this happened is greed.  Astrologically, there may be a slightly more complicated answer: Pluto in Capricorn.  I’m not blaming Pluto in Capricorn as much as suggesting that Pluto in Capricorn can help explain why this is happening.  (I think it’s silly to blame planets for what humans do. Planets relay choices to be made in the cosmos, but we’re the sages or idiots who make them.)  First, a few words about Pluto, Capricorn and what it means when I say Pluto is in Capricorn.

The Planet Pluto

Astrological symbol for the Planet Pluto

Pluto is still a planet for astrologers. Why? Because what a planet means for astronomers is not the same as what it means for astrologers.  A planet has layers of meanings related to many kinds of activities, people and places on earth.  For astronomers, what is or is not a planet is defined far more technically and scientifically.  Pluto relates to the idea of the underworld, intensity, metamorphoses that bring irrevocable change, the riches of the Earth (where we get Plutocracy), and dark aspects of our psyches we resist acknowledging.

Capricorn, the sea goat

Capricorn is best thought of as a zodiac symbol that directs us to seek out our destinies or to evolve. A lot of people only focus on Capricorn as a goat, but it is a sea-goat. This means that it is an animal of the sea AND land.  It is concerned with taking primal force and energy as suggested by its connection with the sea and transforming it into a creature that climbs mountains, reaching the highest heights.  Saturn is the spokesperson and chief of staff for the sign of Capricorn. Saturn is a planet that relates to how we experience structure, discipline and the meaningful roles we are to play in life, like parent, son, executive, doctor, etc.  So some measure of Capricorn is going to be colored by its serious and sobering spokesperson Saturn, whether he’s in that sign at any particular time or not.

Right now, Pluto is traveling through the sign of Capricorn and will be until 2024.  (This is like when the Sun travels through a sign for 30 days, as it is in Virgo, but we’re talking about a slower moving planet over a longer period of time.) Now when we combine all of what we understand about Pluto and Capricorn, we gain insight into several kinds of possibilities of manifestation or meaning: metamorphoses in how we deal with primal force/power, whether it’s our own, the Earth’s or other creatures; we start thinking about and re-thinking how we experience structure and “regulation” of the “riches of the Earth”; and we have to be willing to evolve from those dark places where we’ve resisted even to look.

This massive egg recall is just one manifestation of what Pluto in Capricorn means.  You can’t get more primal than how we relate to animals and the riches of the Earth.  Stacking hens on top of each other and breeding them for plumpness or for eggs with no consideration for the chicken is asking for a cosmic ass-kicking (and recall), all in the name of greed.   Greed stems from fearing there won’t be and can’t be enough.And we can pat ourselves on the back thinking that greed is only something for the rich and big corporations. But that’s not true.  Big monster farms are not the only people who may have to break a few eggs now.  We all do.