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By John  Townley

If you're a regular on this site, you're familiar with the dozens of articles on astrological technique and theory, combined with a dearth of make-you-feel-good personality reinforcement using astrology as a prop for pop psychology, or pseudo-spiritualism in the same vein. And, if astrology is your main interest you're probably not aware that half of AstroCocktail's hits are on the music and maritime back pages hidden away in the corner in the dark. There's a story there, and it bears on the whys and wherefores of astrology itself, so relax and read on – best with a good pair of speakers or earphones on, because the illustrations aren't just pictures and article links, they're mostly a musical journey that parallels the journey of life itself – or my life, anyway – and it tells you why you see what you see here. Just click on the .mp3 links and listen -- to both the music and the words. It's an astrologer's tale, of visions and life passages, that take you stage by stage from an egocentric to an omnicentric view of life and the part the planets play in it. [Please pardon the varying audio quality, as some are final master recordings, other rough demos recovered from ancient analogue tapes.] So here's the story:

Like so many others, I abandoned college early on to go find myself – who was I, what was I doing here, where should I go and what should I do? Only music truly called, in the form of the Rev. Gary Davis [Davis background info], but inside I was fodder for the psychologist's mill – like, what was my restless, nagging “problem”, if I indeed had one?  Could digging into your childhood memories reveal all and solve the problem? It was the fashion (and still is) to “know who you are” and therefore confidently stride forward, secure in your personality [.mp3]. Geez, did I even have one? In the middle of a mysteriously failing teenage marriage (my wife was lost, too) [.mp3], I didn't really know.

That was until a series of visions [NEW article] changed it all, while I was engaged as a trip guide for one of New York's most prestigious psychoanalists (head of the Karen Horney Foundation, among other nationwide positions). The doors of perception were irrevocably flung open, and it left me with a universal overview, a lifetime syllabus, where chasing my “personality” (a major goal of so many astrologers) became utterly trivial by comparison, but still with no charted course. I was a step further along, but still chasing illusions.

Reincarnation: an endless recycle of birth and death, mixing and matching the same players?

One of those was reincarnation. It was all the rage, and it certainly sorted out the people you knew, filed by the life you thought you knew them from. I was ever skeptical, but I did seem to have some startling proof from my own daughter Deirdre [NEW article]. It seemed like individual life was a continuing set of recurrences from the last time through the next time round [.mp3]. Everything I did had echoes of another lifetime [.mp3]. Life was a continual, cosmic deja vu, the future chasing the past. Sort of a broader version of personality-chasing, when you think of it, but who did? It was so Eastern, and Eastern was in vogue, whether you were into the Maharishi or Theosophy. I was quite sure my last time round was in Scotland (my friends and family concurred), down to the feeling of the fiddle and the pipes [.mp3], very convincing.

But there was another theme, much more goal-oriented and quite Western, all about struggling achievements and finally going home to your rewards. Life was a pilgrim's journey through the confusion of the physical world, and your task was to get back home [.mp3], hopefully with a passing report card. My daughter's first song[.mp3] was about just that (at age three, she spontaneously played and sang it, unlistenable except to John Cage fans, but filled with playful variations on harmonics and beat tones in the micromoment). It was a favorite theme of half the songs in most gospel hymn books, not to mention Paul McCartney when the Beatles were at their height. Round in Eastern circles or a long and winding Western long journey home – what a conflict!

A long and winding road, the pilgrimage from one birth to one death: how much can one endure?

Finally, there was the ultimate compromise, the step beyond both. Maybe, that one-time road home was really a circle and you were there already, any point on a circle being both beginning and end.  Be glad right now, [.mp3] because you're there, regardless. Home can be where the house is[.mp3], if that's what comforts you, or just where the heart is [.mp3],wherever, whenever.        

In the end, you are left to marvel at what is here, from the beginning [.mp3] on. All is one. Suddenly you realize that fried chicken breast, that died for you, is ultimately part of the body of Christ [.mp3] – and so are you – the greatest sin is not to recognize it, and yourself, as parts of the amazing fractal mirror of existence [earlier article]. It's not called amazing grace for nothing. Notice the high level of adjectives that mean “beyond our ken” in hymns of every language and religion. To imperftectly see and touch what you can is science, to know that it still goes further is religion -- and it's all the same thing. That is all you know, and all you need to know.

And that is when I became an astrologer. The rest has turned out to be preceding and succeeding points on the circle, new views, each more amazing – and connected – than the last.

So, unlike what may seem to be more popularly “approachable” windows on astrology elsewhere, what you see on AstroCocktail is not so much about getting you in touch with your personality, or tuning you in to your past lives and spiritual journey, or giving you a planetary GPS to get you to fulfilment, home, and heaven. You can get that elsewhere, appropriate for whatever stage you're going through. Here, it's about marvelling at how the whole thing works, and observing it better in detail, both inside and out, because they are the same. You and I will never understand it all over any length of time (because it's already here, too late for that), but there is joy in every instant we're an aware piece of the process, and to know more is to embrace more, to live in constant wonder. It's all very personal (to me, here), and the moment I find out, or think I've figured out, something new to add, you'll be the first to know, or hear – right here...

More musical descriptions of all of this, how it came to be, and lots more, personally and historically, on these pages:

The Family Of Apostolic

Original Song Page

Music Page

Houseplantstudio Interview

Maritime Matters



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