The Triumph of the Feminine Daemonic: Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” (2018)

“Horror films unleash the forces repressed by Christianity—evil and the barbarism of nature. Horror films are rituals of pagan worship. There western man obsessively confronts what Christianity has never been able to bury or explain away.”

—Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, p.269

“The Eternal Feminine propels us onward.”—Goethe, Faust, II. V.

Whenever I approach the Crossroads of Art and Spirit, I hope to encounter newfound understanding for a given medium’s ability to express the Numinous. The effect of such an encounter on me is multidimensional—emotional, intellectual, and spiritual—and I require several days of processing before I can begin to consciously articulate the artwork’s Numinosity to others. In the case of American writer/director Ari Aster’s critically acclaimed 2018 debut feature film, Hereditary, I became hooked after my first viewing on the evening of June 8 (and dashed back to the theater for a second viewing 9 hours later) not just because the film is wonderfully Saturnian in its mood or because it courageously dares to cast an unflinching gaze at the culturally taboo subjects of the rejection of maternity, children’s deaths, and PTSD, but because it delivers a surprising whopper of an occult philosophy that showcases the Feminine Daemonic (in all Her Chinnamasta head-chopping glory, no less)!

chinnamasta

Be advised: This film review contains spoilers for Hereditary!

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Pulled Within: The Astrology of June 2018

Perhaps I should change the title of this post to read, “The Astrology of the Rest of the Month.” My participation in the amazing 9th United Astrology Conference, which ended on May 30, and subsequent life upheavals have delayed the writing of my monthly AstroCast column, a mass forecast relevant for all signs, by a good 12 days or so. But better late than never, eh? The transits in place as of today actually serve as a very good springboard for examining the overall theme of the month that I’m calling “Pulled Within,” as the Mars Retrograde and other key features of the month betoken an inner harnessing of the planetary energies. Let’s have a closer look.

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 4 & Epilogue

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

“He went like one that hath been stunn’d

And is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man

He rose the morrow morn.”

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (lines 623-626)

The atmosphere in the Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel conference room where Dutch astrologer Karen Hamaker-Zondag taught her United Astrology Conference 2018 post-conference workshop on May 30, 2018, definitely felt gloomy and funereal. In many ways, the dimly lit and shockingly cold space would be a fitting Plutonian environment for delving deeply (six hours’ worth of learning in a single sitting) on the subject of “What Do You Really Want with Your 8th House and Pluto?”

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 3

All of the amazing concurrently running astrology workshops and classes comprising the 9th United Astrology Conference, recently held here in Chicago from May 23 to May 30 at the Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel on Michigan Avenue, definitely made it hard for me to choose which world-class teacher’s talk I would attend at any of the time slots for each day. At times I wanted a truly trans-historical, “big picture” perspective on the Cosmic Intelligences at work in all of our lives, while at other times my Virgo Sun Sign made me want to take a more granular view of planetary energies, focusing on present or imminent planetary transits. And while so many of my fellow Americans were planning on celebrating the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 28, through the time-honored tradition of outdoor grilling and family barbeques, the fires I wanted to zero in on instead were those of “Mars Transits and the Mars Cycle,” my first class of the day, which was taught by astrologer Donna Van Toen.

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 2

The main conference days of UAC 2018 were Friday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 29, though I also elected to participate in Karen Hamaker-Zondag’s 6-hour-long post-conference workshop on May 30 on the subject of the 8th House. These glorious days of intense learning, fellowship, socializing (I organized a small-group dinner outing to Greek Town for out-of-state conference attendees the night of Sunday, May 27) and partying (the Chicago “Roaring Twenties”-themed jazz party and silent auction on Saturday the 26thwas lots of fun) were definitely presided over by Airy and Watery Elemental forces.

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 1

I’ve had a week to process the conclusion of one of the most formative experiences of my life: the 9th United Astrology Conference (UAC), which was held here in Chicago from May 23 to May 30. Sponsored by the International Association for Astrological Research, the American Federation of Astrologers, the National Council for Geocosmic Research, the American College of Vedic Astrology, and the Association for Astrological Networking, UAC is the world’s largest international astrology conference, and it gathers every three, six, or nine years somewhere in North America. I felt so lucky to have had this 2018 9th gathering take place so close to my house, which definitely helped as a cost-saving measure; I certainly wouldn’t have been able to attend if it were held elsewhere.

Cover of program

Cover of the UAC 2018 printed program. I feel like the little girl on the swing is a perfect portrait of my inner child, bob haircut and all!

This week-long “staycation” for me was prompted by a profound inner urging to not just accelerate the developments of my skill sets in astrology as a profession, but to heed the soul’s prompting to undergo a profound journey of self-discovery and self-actualization, a journey which entailed a major healing process for me as well—one that I didn’t (consciously) know that I needed. So many of us ask “the biggies” about what we are doing here on this earth, the lessons our incarnation brings us (as well as how to resolve past lessons so we don’t tote around so much karmic baggage!), and how to find our true purpose by maximizing the gifts we were born with and living a fulfilling life of self-development and service to others. And through it all, we acknowledge the acutely limited time allotted to us as mortal beings, which definitely adds to a sense of urgency to “figure it all out” before we grow too old and convince ourselves that our dreams have eluded us.

As Above, So Below

That’s the beauty of studying astrology. By highlighting the interrelatedness of the cycles found in the “Greater”/Cosmos with the cycles in the life of the “Lesser”/Individual—yoking together an understanding of “the Without” with “the Within”—astrology affirms a worldview based on the assumption that Divine Intelligences exist and are constantly orchestrating a meaningfully notated symphony of All That Is. Using the tools of astrology, people can pinpoint the section of the symphony that they are tasked to play and see how their individual parts relate to the whole. I’m not using this musical metaphor blindly  because the perfection of numbers (yes, I’m a Pythagorean!) is at the heart of it all.

The greatest joy for me as an astrologer is to hold up that veritable cosmic mirror to a client and see how he or she lights up when coming to a profoundly joyful acceptance of their Being and Becoming as revealed through the language of planetary positions and placements in their natal and progressed charts. The “Aha!” moments of self-recognition are facially expressed with widened eyes and huge grins: yes, that’s why I knew I never wanted children—Saturn in Cancer in the 5th House!

I had a plethora of such “Aha!” moments myself throughout the entire magical week of UAC 2018. If you’d care to take my hand, I’ll walk you through my experiences by day, each of which seemed to have its own distinct Elemental character.

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My “Polytheism” Discussion on Magick Radio Chicago: Saturday, May 12, 2018

It’s been a little over a week since I appeared on Magick Radio Chicago as the sole guest invited to speak about Contemporary Polytheism (episode 134). Hosts Drew Prince and Alicia Nell Mitchell (a.k.a. “Galaxy Goddess”) asked me questions and we had a lively two-hour discussion, ranging from the 10-fold criteria I see as essential to a Polytheistic Worldview, to the points of commonality and difference between Polytheism and the broader Pagan movement in the West, and so much more.

Here’s the MP3 file for your aural pleasure!