August 3rd, 2011

Hu design

Astrology and spiritual path

I was working on some astrology yesterday and noticed something that hadn't quite clicked before. Clearly I have had some ambivalence about which mystical path to follow. One of the things that began to emerge yesterday was that Saturn appears to be related to Islam and Jupiter to Hinduism.

When I had my first Sufi initiation, I was undergoing a Saturn return (transiting Saturn was conjunct my natal Saturn) and transiting Jupiter was at the midpoint between natal Uranus and Pluto in my 12th house (a house of mysticism or unusual psychic states, among other things). I had just been through a period where transiting Pluto had been conjunct my natal Neptune: I had been reading a lot of mysticism and smoking a lot of pot. But now it seemed that it was time to move toward something a bit more disciplined, a bit more structured, and something that involved more social contact. Simultaneously, I was teaching as a graduate assistant for the first time (taking on an adult, Saturnian role to go along with the Saturn return). I had also been persona non grata with my parents for the 7-8 years since I had come out during the summer after college. Karmically (Saturn) that stuff was coming up (Saturn as parent figures). I also fell into a situation where a student, who was evidently trying to get his social bearings and who was somewhat out of step with his peers, flattered me with attention, and this triggered one of my quasi-mystical states in which it seemed that there was something extraordinary that connected us (like a past-life connection), something that subordinated typical social categories and that blurred psychic and emotional boundaries. Of course, a more prosaic scenario is that a temporary "loss" (or alteration) of perspective is typically a prelude to some sort of sexual indiscretion. As such people have done repeatedly in my life, while they're flattering me with attention (because they are in need of some attention themselves) they are also seeking out other opportunities to try to enhance their status, and will of course withdraw their attention and leave me hanging while they "move on," but usually not without some sort of hurtful culmination to put distance between them and me, once I have taken on the status of yesterday's news. So this kid portrayed a scenario in which I was supposedly making him uncomfortable, and reported this to my faculty supervisor, whose section he wanted to transfer into the following semester. Granted, I had quite a bit of maturing to do at that point, and I was probably talking to the wrong people (like other gay friends) about the situation, rather than seeking counsel from someone who might have been able to paint a more sobering picture before my feelings became as vulnerable as they did. Suffice it to say that it was a serious blow to my self-confidence as a teacher early on, and one that I probably still haven't recovered from.

So with all that stuff behind me, circumstances conspired that I was able to meet Javad Nurbakhsh in NYC during his 1992 American tour, and that's where I received initiation. I tried to follow instructions (such as to attend meetings--majlis--when my schedule permittted), but found the atmosphere of the khaniqah alienating once the festive atmosphere surrounding the Master and his entourage had died down and settled back into the usual routine. With transiting Jupiter still active between natal Uranus and Pluto, I visited my parents that summer and, while there, was reading Mark Thompson's Gay Spirit, which included an interview with Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy that dealt with their involvement with Swami Prabhavananda and the LA Ramakrishna Center. I began feeling a pull in that direction but wondered what to do with my sense of obligation or "loyalty" to the Sufi tradition in which I had been initiated. I did spend some time at the NYC Ramakrishna Center after that, in effect retracing some of the steps of Lex Hixon's (as well as Isherwood's) path, but it didn't quite take.

Things didn't really solidify until 2000, when I received a second Sufi initiation, into the Nur Ashki Jerrahi order. In retrospect, I came to see that transiting Neptune was conjunct natal Saturn. Finally I began to set down some roots in the Sufi tradition. I had steady contact with a local senior dervish and helped to set up a Yahoo group for the local Sufi circle, came out to the senior dervish, and also co-founded the GLBTQ Sufis Yahoo group.

The next time I felt a pull back in the direction of Hinduism, transiting Uranus was conjunct my natal Jupiter. So, there followed yet a third initiation. At present, transiting Neptune is approaching natal Jupiter, and will conjunct it over the next year. It makes sense, in retrospect, that there would have been a sense of disconnect (Uranus) after the initial attraction to the new path, now followed by a gentler, subtler attraction to explore it further in a quieter (Neptunian) rather than sudden and dramatic (Uranian) sense.



Hu design

Summer music

Well, I guess one of the things I've been doing the last few summers is to take some time to explore pop music. In the summer of 09 it was The Killers. I turned on to them after their most recent album had come out. (I'm always playing catch-up when it comes to pop music: hell, classical music, which is my main thing, is all about history--even when it's the history of modernism, which most people ignore, but that's their fucked-up-ness, not mine.) I bought their back catalog (including a couple of discs I picked up at WalMart--don't tell anybody!). I also managed to find a date on their then-current tour that I was able to make it to. I was glad that I had put the time into learning their songs before I went. One of the songs that made an even more vivid impression live than on the studio recording was their cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay." Following that concert, Joy Division became a research project, and an obsession (as it will). So I rented the Joy Division documentary and the feature film and started reading about them. Every once in a while it has become a necessity to go through both of their albums and my favorite singles and EPs. 

Last summer it seems the thing was to reacquaint myself with The Teardrop Explodes and to catch up with some of what Julian Cope has been up to since. I got sucked into his Krautrock Sampler and set about downloading as many of the albums he mentions as I could get my hands on. I think I found them all, except for maybe one or two. That helped to put Bowie's Berlin period into a broader perspective and also helped me to link ambient with synth pop, especially the darker forms of both of those.

This summer, after listening through my collection of Joy Division and The Teardrop Explodes, I wondered what else might be out there, so I started Googling around and found out about White Lies. From reading reviews (pro and con) and seeing what names the reviewers dropped most often, I found out about Interpol and The Editors. I'm a few years behind the times, but there is evidently a post-punk revival that is still going on.
There must be something wrong with me, but music like this really lifts me up somehow. Maybe part of it is the way it gives direct expression to aspects of myself that I try to keep hidden, so as to keep from bringing other people down (the insufficiently intelligent are so easily upset, after all). And, of course, there is something about the way these guys make being "depressed" or "depressing" (or whatever it is that the common people call it) appear glamorous and sexy. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the front men of all three bands are good looking:


So maybe it's nothing more than sublimated sex appeal. I dunno. But seriously, there's something about young men contemplating the darker and more difficult sides of life: it's a little like the British Romantic poets, maybe. Then there are people who say that dark is in fashion when there's a lot of anxiety in the air. I dunno.

Anyway, that's part of what I did this summer. :-)