Astrocreep: Serpentember

"Death: My Irony Surpasses All Others!" Odilon Redon, lithograph from
his “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” series circa 1881.
Published  September 2014
"Death: My Irony Surpasses All Others!" Odilon Redon, lithograph from his “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” series circa 1881.

“Death: My Irony Surpasses All Others!” Odilon Redon, lithograph from
his “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” series circa 1881.

Much of zen thought and self-help boils down to learning to chill the fuck out and accepting unpleasant emotion, events, situations in life. This is a pretty legit M.O. because lots of heinous bullshit happens that we can’t control, and freaking out about it often heaps extra suffering on top of the ample amount with which we have already been provided. In Buddhism, this is exemplified by a parable in which the Buddha describes pain as an arrow piercing your flesh, and naming the second arrow as self- inflicted—our dwelling and ruminating on the pain from the first arrow.

If you’re an action-oriented type of guy, you might bristle at this mentality. We ought to strive to lessen suffering when we can, certainly. We ought to resist, when we can, however we are able, situations that conflict with our values. But on an emotional level, struggling against unpleasant realities does, in a sense, waste precious energy. What if, on an emotional level, you just uncritically accepted everything that happened to you? I’ve been trying it out lately, and it is helping me cultivate Divine Nonchalance. More importantly, it allows me to see the absurdity in everything and find entertainment in everything from injury to inconvenience.

This point of view carries with it a certain air of detachment. As you detach from the plane of existential suffering, as far as I can tell you do not enter some high holy plane of the enlightened, where Jesus is your fluffer girl and Moses does your nails. Rather, you journey inward, to a paradise of thought and whim inside your mind. It’s rad as fuck. In the words of Willy Wonka, “There is no life I know to compare to pure imagination.”

If aloof observation begins to send you on an amoral hedonistic rampage, you’re doing it wrong. I mentioned values earlier—the accepting mind is actually just for your heart. You don’t get to snuff out the intellectual part of your existence… well, at least, not always. Sometimes it’s really nice to. By the time you’re reading this, it might be too late—but if you can manage to stay sober for the full moon in Pisces on September 9th, you’ll experience a lot more intensity and magic than if your senses are muddled. Life Hack: Don’t Ingest Poison to Trick Yourself Into Having Fun! This One Crazy Trick Really Works. The Housewife Discovery the Major Pharmaceutical Companies Don’t Want You To Discover.

 


Aries
Ram, your imagination has been out marauding. Your desires are stampeding across the perceptions and needs of other, just a smidge. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot you want out of life and the people around you right now, and that’s great, but you are getting a little ahead of things. Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s so, yet. The ferocity of your dreams attracts others to you. The forcefulness of your will is a boon to your passions. Indeed, of all people, you are well-equipped to manifest reality  with your desires. But only if you do it gracefully, otherwise reality will react like a stubborn teen, with a knee-jerk opposition. Wouldn’t you, too?

Taurus
That you are read as gruff when you feel matter-of-fact, or even sweet, is an occasional source of irritation to you. But you’re learning to convey your warm intentions to others lately, which is very wise of you. Some people never learn to balance their own experience of themselves with how others react to them. Congratulations! Keep at it. In the next month, tempering your personality and making accommodations for others will lead to substantial rewards in friendship and business alike. (No one who knows you would dare suggest that you change in this way, Taurus. So I’ll take this bullet, only because I care.)

Gemini
As a complex person, your social life and interests span across more worlds than many. It adds richness and intrigue to your life—who wants  to be a big fish in a small pond or a a big fish in a big pond, even, when you can flit from lilypad to lilypad like a dragonfly? But as you relish your travels and experiences, remember those you leave behind. Make sure you’re giving something back to people, especially those who can feel like part of the scenery. It doesn’t have to be much, luckily, because you don’t have a ton of energy to spare. Just dispense graciousness and affection. Do this, and both koi and pond scum alike, all around the world, will rejoice at your arrival.

Cancer
An object of your hard work has recently come into fruition, and while you’d hoped to feel a sense of satisfaction and completion, instead you are faced with the reality that the end of every task is merely the start of another. Oops! All of life is labor, I suppose. I suggest you seize this (perhaps fabricated) occasion by decreeing yourself a new person.  Whether your new self has a couple extra letters at the end of your name, a new uniform, makes 25 cents more an hour, or simply got to cross an item off a list, it’s up to you to decide how she looks and behaves, who she is. Construct your new accomplished persona, and perform it until you become it. It’s up to you.

Leo
Life is full of unexpected tragedies,  which is what makes existence so painful and unfair. But sometimes, also, it’s full of unexpected pleasures. That’s why we have to try to stick around. In the immortal words of Team Dresch, “Sometimes I can’t remember/Why I want to live/Then I think of all the freaks/And I don’t want to miss this.” Why do I bring this up? You might be wondering, since perhaps shit doesn’t feel so dire for you and hopefully, at least, you are not considering checking out. You need this reminder though— you need to remember that the full spectrum of experience is what we are here to experience. Take it all in, because though trite it may sound, this is how and why we are alive. All of it.

Virgo
One of my all-time favorite Virgos, the brilliant writer Jeanette Winterson, has just celebrated her birthday. In her torrid and elegant novel The Passion, she describes herself and you thus: “Hopeless heart that thrives on paradox; that longs for the beloved and is secretly relieved when the beloved is not there.” That’s your heart, and you’re bound to be less grumpy if you own that, if you embrace your contradictions and allow yourself to be the complex (and often difficult) creature you are. If you can cultivate a fondness for this dimension of yourself, your dear ones are more likely to find your rough edges endearing. Think of it as leading by example.

Libra
Your grace and equanimity has people guessing about what lurks below the surface. Just as the speculations about Libran Will Smith’s sexuality  threaten to outlive his relevancy as anything other than the father of some extraordinarily talented children, speculations about what your calm demeanor hides threaten to eclipse your delicate and sweet sensibilities. If you learn to tip your hand just a little  and reveal something of the tender truths inside, people will be able to appreciate you for the richly human figure you are. Don’t be afraid to shift this boundary on what’s personal and public—anyone who abuses what you share isn’t worth your time, and if they reveal this about themselves—that’s information you need.

Scorpio
The canon of Alcoholics Anonymous  and Adult Children of Alcoholics is rich and bountiful, replete with salient advice even for those of us with an amicable relationship to booze. So many of their gems involve using acronyms as mnemonic devices (one of my favorite things ever). One such treasure is HALTS: it stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Sad, and it is intended to be a checklist that you consult when you discover yourself reacting intensely to stimulus. If you find you are HALTS, deal with your physical needs and then return to that  which was causing you difficulty. This month, I want you to add to HALTS. Find out what physical needs trick your mind into freaking out. Maybe you’ll find that you’re really just Horny or Stressed.

Sagittarius
Did you know that Nicki Minaj is a Sag? And though everybody loves to hate on her—whether it’s for excessively sampling Sir-Mix-A-Lot or for her complicated, arguably problematic tune “Lookin Ass.” She’s so controversial! Do you think she gives a fuck? No way dude. Neither would you. All that drama is happening on another level, and that level is way below the one upon which you chill. You might need a reminder of that this month, when some unpleasant gossip reaches you. You can’t control that shit, and it reflects more on the slanderers than you—to anyone who matters, at least. You can’t get them to keep your name out their mouths. Whatever. Free publicity.

Capricorn
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so they say. I’m as suspicious of that as you are, and this month it feels like someone is reaping the benefits of a lot of your behind-the-scenes exertion. Calling them out is uncomfortable at best and at worst, widely regarded as a bad look. There is no satisfying solution to this predicament. The high road, well-trod by the Capricorn goat hooves, is to keep doing what you do and hope that your authenticity shines through and sets you above the posers. While grim acceptance is well within your nature and your comfort zone, being coddled isn’t—and that’s the salve I’ll suggest for your injured pride. Let someone sweetly coo to you, let them feed you sweets.

Aquarius
Compromise is possible in some affairs. A fair middle-ground can be met in some matters. Some things can be done in half measures. But some states are inherently extreme. While a day can be partly cloudy, and your stomach can feel a little hungry, you can’t be a smidge dead or a touch pregnant. Temper your moderate nature with an increased awareness of the drastic  complexion of some circumstances and you will be able to act with the decisiveness that your comrades are depending on. Waffle, and you might end up on the wrong side of a decision— which is to say, it might end up being made for you instead of by you.

Pisces
Feed your perverse interest in human behavior by attending more social gatherings than you normally would, this month. Share your observations with an unexpected companion and you might forge a new friendship or a helpful networking opportunity. If you stay within your comfort zone, you run the risk of being misread as bland, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Your life philosophies, which border on the mystic, can remain ineffable and unexpressed. They can be subtly conveyed in the undercurrent of your stated perspectives on the world, and even if it grates against some of your more introverted tendencies, this is what the public is hungering for.

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