TIME TO CUT AWAY THE BLINDFOLD: Commentary on The State, Organized Religion, Sexuality, Politics, Suffering and Transcendence (and associated Astrology)
The ongoing Saturn-Neptune square feels, for many, like a heavy fist pumping and priming the Heart. A different metaphor might suit you better, but essentially, it´s the sense of great vulnerability or sensitivity being confined or pressured by the need to expand, dissolve, surrender or to simply find a better form for expression. In a larger vein, it connects with the themes of the abuse of authority/power over the vulnerable, in classic conflicts between the state and inhabitants that do not comply or recognize its monopoly over the _legitimate_ use force and violence (seriously, that is part of the definition of statehood, a more classic articulation by Max Weber).
( For some background – My Bachelor´s Thesis was on the Epistemology and Ontology of Sovereignty in International Relations ….. I was quite disillusioned by the end of it, but went onto to explore how state-based-legitimacy is constructed through ritual performances in the (Indian) Parliamentary context for my PhD. Let´s just say that was an eye opener as well, as was the experience of navigating academia in a higher education context between the age of 16-25 in the US, Germany and UK. ( The politics of the Politics department and the in-fighting of academic feminism/academic feminists … * shudder * … it was not an experience I necessarily want to repeat) )
But back to the topic at hand – we´re all thinking it. Maybe not in these terms, but we see it rising up like a wave around us. The structures and institutions that seek to give us order and legitimate our lives, and that more ineffable, formless human experience of life, suffering and transcendence. Both seek to give us hope, and both often disappoint, in many ways. Though, once in a while, they do succeed.
These involve those who seem state-less, living beyond the concept of boundaries or territoriality – think of migrants fleeing through the waters, escaping draconian rule, spiritualists who refuse to bow down to Church-and-State and sanctioned forms of religion (and power), and so on and so forth. Thematically, I would link it with the Orlando tragedy, where over 50 human beings were killed by a lone gunman. (And some of the sad, sad, hate-posts that arisen).
Personally, I am a staunch LGBTQ ally. Whilst I have great sympathy and empathy for pain that minorities, women and non-heteronormative-men experience as they seek to navigate a very very ethically slanted, often patriarchal world – my heart goes out to these beings. I take heart in their courage to be what they are, even when the world quite literally seems to be against their very right to live-and-be. And the steps they take in defining their sexuality and gender, sometimes in the most public ways possible. That takes courage. In much the same way that minorities, women, men-who-refuse-to-live-in-traditional-definitions-of-manliness (and the intersections of all of the above) defy convention and simply be.
But for whatever reason, this particular community/movement has always sat close to my heart. Their understandings of God-Goddess-spirituality go to heart of things that, often, essentialist definitions of gender (and the spiritual metaphors or archetypes that ensue) often get stuck in. (You can tell I´m a fan of Judith Butler´s thesis that gender is a socially constructed, ritualized form of performance).
But back to Orlando. What a tragedy.
Whilst gun-violence isn´t an unfamiliar thing to the US of A, this particular act triggers many complex debates, one which unsurprisingly cut across the party divide (in an already heated build-up to the November election): alternate sexualities, gun control laws and the politics of fear and ethnic targeting/stereotyping.
I´m not even getting into the debate about who is right, wrong, good, bad, etc. Anything anyone says seems to trigger a Hillary/Trump/Bernie debate and who is ultimately the champion people need and why everyone else is misguided by thinking otherwise. It´s like the US and its election debate has eclipsed all else, and frankly – there´s a much larger world, let alone, Universe out there.
I would say there´s too much of the wrong kind of energy and focus being placed on the November elections – no matter who you ultimately support. It feeds in well into the political spin cycle that just keeps us separated and divided.
Personally I see the performance of democratic elections (especially Presidential elections) as a necessary means of social placation / keeping the electorate happy. It see it as the modern day version of the Roman mob and its need for theatre, spectacle, seeing the slaves fed to lions and the gladiators fall in the arena.
It´s a rigged system (and not just in the Democratic-super-delegate thing), it but goes a lot further and deeper than that. Time to cut away the blindfold.
We´re fighting over our symbolic champions and their stated agendas, but when in power, no one truly knows who can bring what kind of real change. Please bear that in mind. They are not free agents and when whoever-does-take-office, there will be a system in place that does limit their choices.
But by all means contribute your energy to awakening and spreading awareness, but don´t feed the cycle of fear, hatred and aggression. I also feel we need to shift the focus somewhat to recognize other things happening in the globe simultaneously. If this post does trigger you, sit with it, and write a piece in reflection and post it on your FB if you like.
Back to the topic at hand …
On a more positive note, the Vatican´s recent re-cognition of the status, dignity and centrality of the Magdalene in its understanding of Christianity is a step forward. Some see it as an institutional means to placate women wanting real opportunities to be seen as equal to their male peers within ths religious institution (without actually having to push for that in real-time).
It reminds me of something I came across whilst I was researching a women´s quota Bill in the Indian Parliament. Male MPs would cite that women were symbolically the head of the nation in religious mythology and so real representation would no longer be required. Of course the real issue wasn´t with mythological constructs per se, but (in practical terms), the unwillingness of male MPs to yield power. It would be interesting (and frustrating) to see if such a thing repeated itself in the Christian context (i.e. arguing that we don´t need women bishops because the Magdalene is the Apostle of the Apostles…..).
I´m planning on being in India for the first (officially-recognized) feast day of St. Mary Magdalene on July 22, 2016 and am communicating with various churches to see if they are going to hold these celebrations. I had an idea to visit at that time, but it just came home to me as a need I had to fulfil in my own Path. Who knows, perhaps these exchanges might lead these institutions to organize and celebrate the event more publicly. And something might happen.
In Chennai, Tamil Nadu (for instance), there´s only 2 Churches devoted to the Magdalene – amongst hundreds of others. It is important to get these kinds of changes and raise awareness of them where one can (if that aligns with your own politics). It´s interesting to note that irrespective of Vatican-issued statements, many Christians are still unaware that the Church retracted its view on the Magdalene-as-fallen-woman in the 1960s! It was kind of published as a footnote someplace …
Feel free to do the same, if it appeals to you. Reach out and ask your local church (if they celebrate feast days) if they´re aware of the recent announcement and if they have something planned. That is if you´re interested.
Part of my spiritual journey strongly connects to the earliest years of the Christ story (as it does many other spiritual traditions) and I keep getting taken to spiritual sites associated with Biblical figures, or receiving coded messages from the text of the Bible in dreams – really specific things that I would have no way of knowing consciously. I tried reading it as a child, but the violence in the Old Testament put me off it. I suspect I´ll be reading it again soon, but with the Gnostic Gospels by my side as well 😉 (Thank the God/dess for Nag Hammadi!)
Looking at it from the long-term perspective, I do see these attempts of the state & forms of organized religion at trying to grant ´official´ recognition to spiritual truths, his-or-herstories of suffering and exclusion as steps in the right direction. Irrespective of whether it is something these institutions of power do for their own, narrower, purposes – the wider effect is one that will go beyond their scope and expectation entirely.
As an astrologer, I take faith in the sheer immensity of scope that Eris-Uranus has unleashed of late. Though, without glossing over the fact that the world we Birth with Her, often, shall evolve a degree of reactionary violence. There´s no escaping that side of the Eris myth – as people and institutions used to the status quo will not always respond to change well. The Saturn/Neptune square will of course bring out every belief system on the planet, fueled by righteous indignation and rage that that is of course the only game in town.
The best thing we can do, is to keep an open heart no matter what our diverse faiths and beliefs may be. You are entitled to believe what you believe, but so is everyone else. The state-and-religious-institutions (Saturn in Sagittarius) are powerful focal points to project the collective fear of the unconscious onto as either the edifice of salvation or persecution (Neptune, recently turned retrograde, in Pisces). These exchanges are a reflection of the deeper energetic currents that surround and in-form our existence upon this Earth-plane (and many others).
I hope you have enjoyed this reflection and that it may prompt your own reflections. There are many other ways and levels that this plays out in more heart-opening, illusion-dissolving ways.
Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD
Image: Wappen Furstenwerder.PNG. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.