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Petak/Džuma 17 Muharrem 1437

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Oct. 29th, 2015 | 11:03 pm

Planet of the day (according to Ibn 'Arabi): Venus

Prophet of the day (according to Ibn 'Arabi): Joseph

Lunar phase: Full Moon - Fulfillment (Phase names and keywords from Dane Rudhyar, The Lunation Cycle)

The Sun is in 6 Scorpio (in my 2nd house): Deep-sea divers. (Symbol for 7 Scorpio from Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala)

Overnight, the Moon will enter my 10th house (thus crossing my Midheaven). In the afternoon, the Moon will enter its Disseminating phase, whose keyword is Demonstration.

So, this past day I attended 4.5 hours of presentations and panel discussions and did some exploration of the surrounding area. I located the Bosnian Islamic center and am considering going there for jum'ah. Down the street from there is a Bosnian diner. It was okay. I have also picked up a few things at chain stores like Walgreen's and Target. The culture seems like a mix of midwestern and southern. In some respects it reminds of Atlanta. For dinner I went to a Bosnian restaurant that was a bit more formal. The decor is supposed to be reminiscent of the Balkans. The waiter explained to me how to stir the Bosnian coffee, wait for it to settle, etc. He was cute and I liked his manner.

On the plane I finished reading Emmanuel Todd's Who Is Charlie?, which was recently translated into English from the original French. He's a secular French Jew who critiques the prentensions of empires such as France and the U.S. I had read that it is a controversial book, and that the author had received some death threats. It indicts French Islamophobia and anti-Semitism--that coming from the supposed left as well as from the center and the right--and how these twin themes played out in the solidarity marches after the Charlie Hebdo and Jewish deli massacres and in other contexts as well.

Among the things it brought up for me were my experiences as an exchange student to France in my junior year of high school (Feb-Mar 1979). I stayed with two Jewish families, the first for a short time because my main host family was on vacation when I arrived. The student who stayed with my family in the States was an Algerian Muslim. He wore a leather jacket and wanted to appear tough and to be the class clown rather than a good student, but he was also very sensitive and loved my family. We quickly fell into a platonic friendship that was as beautiful as it was brief (3 weeks). Among the insights that has been bubbling up lately is that it was perhaps that experience that imprinted upon me the association of platonic friendship and the religious Other. I think that that speaks not only to my experiences in Sufism and in the Amma org, but also to experiences that I had with gay Muslims and with a Jain friend who was an undergraduate when I was in graduate school.

I have already written a number of times about the spontaneous "life review" that I experienced when I met X. What was remarkable to me was that it brought up feelings and images associated with friendships, relationships, and other types of relationships (student-teacher, family) in precise reverse chronological order, and then seemed to come to a pause with memories of when I was 17. On the one hand, that was a time when I had my first significant crush, wrote about it in my journal, and then my mother read that, freaked out, and shamed me about my feelings. But a year before that, there was my friendship with the Algerian boy. In a way, it may have been that experience that had more to do with my friendships with X and Y than the experience of my first crush did. Today I read a story from Gay Star News about a "straight" guy who wrote into to Reddit that there was a possibility that he and his best friend might be moving toward becoming boyfriends. Among the signs he mentioned were the following: "When we’re alone, he’ll move next to me and put his head on my shoulder. It’s kind of adorable. Now we’re physical all the time-not sexually, but he’ll lean against me if we’re standing together, or put his arm around my shoulder." X definitely engaged in those kinds of behaviors with me, not just in private, but in public (at the first Ma retreat I attended). And, like the guy on Reddit and his friend, Y and I would sometimes share a bed when we were on Ma retreats. I think that these experiences touched me in a vulnerable place because I had had such brief and intermittent experiences of male friendship when I was an adolescent, and then moved pretty quickly into the complications of having male lovers from sophomore year of college onward. Slowly, I'm coming to accept that it's okay that some of those issues came up when I was exploring spiritually in my 40s and, as a result of that exploration, all kinds of feelings were bubbling up to the surface. The fact that both X and Y turned me away as being unattractive or somehow predatory has stayed with me, and I am most definitely not over that. I think it has affected my relationship with my husband as well. Not really knowing how to get beyond that, I have worked with the idea of getting used to living a more emotionally frozen kind of life than I had previously thought I wanted. Some of that, of course, may just be a natural part of the aging process, but I suspect that some of it may also be due to emotional trauma that was not caused exclusively, or even primarily, by my fallings out with X and Y, but that may have a lot to do with family rejection and the kinds of alternatives that I sought out because of that. But definitely the failure of my friendships with X and Y brought those feelings up fairly loudly, and my emotional life has seemed to have been a lot more cautious and subdued since then.

I think that several factors are bringing some of these issues into focus at this time. One of them seems to be my solar return chart for this year. It has some astrologically interesting features, like an opposition between the Moon and Pluto, and a grand trine involving the Moon, the Sun, and a Neptune-Chiron conjunction. The houses that are affected are associated with characteristics such as the unconscious, the workplace, and education. As I have moved closer to my birthday, I have noticed that in my teaching I find myself weighing the effectiveness of my tendency toward discipline and organization against an assessment of whether or I not I am connecting with my students from a place of intuition and feeling. One student who has brought this issue to the fore is a non-major who started out well but who then disappeared for several weeks. After every missed assignment or quiz I would email him. At first he responded, but then he fell out of contact altogether. Eventually he was missing so much work that he was failing. I issued a warning grade for him, which also sends a warning to his academic advisor.  I followed up by researching the student database to see who his advisor is. As I did that, I saw that he had failed several courses in his major. I emailed him and his advisor, suggesting that he drop my course. That way he could receive a W rather than an F. I figured he would welcome an opportunity to avoid yet another F. His advisor wrote back to both of us, suggesting that he follow my advice. But every time I checked my class roster, I saw that he had not yet dropped. At 6 a.m. on the day of the midterm, he emailed me to say that he planned to take the midterm. He showed up, took the midterm, and got a near-perfect score. After the test he asked if it would be okay for him to play the piano in the classroom until the next class came in, since the piano at his house is in such bad shape. I said yes. I couldn't tell if he was improvising, or if he was playing a written composition that he had learned, but he can play. He showed up to the next class and turned in a near-perfect homework assignment. His work has a couple of quirks to it, but his thought process is transparent and it is clear that he is putting real thought into it. I don't know much about him, other than that he wrote one time to say he had missed class because he had to take a friend to the hospital in the middle of the night. Another time he missed several classes because he said he had attended a funeral out of state. After that he began to disappear altogether, but in one email he made a general reference to "problems." In the classes he has attended since the midterm, he has semi-discreetly used an e-cigarette in class. At first I did a double-take because I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing. He sits in the back row and no one else seems to have seen it, so I chose not to call him out on it. I didn't want to alienate him so soon after he had returned. I suspect that he may be struggling with addiction, to what substance or behavior I'm not exactly sure, but the extremes of his behavior seem to fit the profile of someone with some kind of addiction. Since the midterm he has kept his promises to come to class and to turn in his work. After giving it some consideration, I decided to allow him to turn in some of his missed work. I wrote to him and, as I predicted, he offered to do all of the missing work this coming weekend. I wrote back and suggested that he start out more slowly than that, and that he try to meet with me when I get back to campus. While I thought about this on the plane, it occurred to me that this is the first time in years that I have allowed myself to care about a student enough to consider doing things a little bit differently, if I think it might serve a useful purpose. Symbolically enough, when I was trying to put my backpack on as I was getting ready to exit the plane, the left strap of my backpack put enough pressure on my watchband that it cause it to break. It was as if the rigidity of my reliance on my timepiece (Chronos, Saturn) was being challenged. Earlier this evening, I went to Target and replaced my watch band with one that, it turns out, is softer and more flexible.

After finishing Emmanuel Todd's book, I returned to the current issue of The Mountain Astrologer, about which I had been feeling somewhat ambivalent. After reading one pretty good, and one so-so article, I began to read an article about the current square between Saturn and Neptune. I have a Saturn-Neptune square in my natal chart, and a number of things that this author wrote really resonated with me. It turns out that he began reading about astrology when he discovered his grandmother's library of Dane Rudhyar books. He is an astrologer and therapist in New Mexico, he's gay, and he and his partner (also a therapist) are really cute. One of his quotes from Rudhyar about autumn was very much in line with the music I performed on my recital and the things that I wrote about it. I emailed him and sent him the link to the recordings from my recital. Lately I've been thinking vaguely about returning to therapy, or something, and I haven't been sure how to go about it. In reading his article, it seemed to me that he might be someone I would like to get an astrology reading from. I'm interested in confronting my issues around feeling like a professional failure, and in trying to work with what I'm actually doing and feeling and perceiving rather than getting so caught up in how I think things are supposed to appear to other people. I think that quite a bit of what I am doing shows commitment and ability, but that when I feel ambivalent about my personal and professional self-worth, those feelings get passed on to my students and end up interfering with my work being even better, and better appreciated.

Well, I guess those are just a "few" of the thoughts that I have had lately, lol.



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