“My idea, then, is that a great work of art often has at its center a long floating leap, around which the work of art in ancient times used to gather itself like steel shavings around the magnet. But a work of art does not necessarily have at its center a single long floating leap. The work can have many leaps, perhaps shorter. The real joy of poetry is to experience this leaping inside a poem. A poet who is ‘leaping’ makes a jump from an object soaked in unconscious substance to an object or idea soaked in conscious psychic substance.”
So wrote Robert Bly in a pamphlet in the 1970’s reissued recently in Leaping Poetry, a magical essay on art, interwoven with many of his free flowing translations of poetry from around the world. This is his statement of the meaning of freedom, of a spacious movement inside one’s being that resides at the heart of a poetry that has the capacity to move us. This is the space, the impulse towards soaring inner freedom, that I propose lies at the core of the Capricorn archetype, a principle normally associated with the structures of society and consciousness and the nature of conditioning: within the heart of the home of Capricorn lies the deep seated yearning for inner freedom.
So powerful is this need that many defenses (Saturn) are created by the psyche underthe aegis of Capricorn, many armoured layers of protection against this potential leap of consciousness, this impulse for freedom. One part yearns for the leap, another part, fearful of chaos and all that might ensue in the new life (born free) generates restriction, born from anxiety. In this way we psychologically chose to participate in the strictures of conditioning that appear around us. By implication just as we chose them through fear, we could un-chose them as an act of liberation.
In fact this dialogue, between the scapegoat and that nimble explorer of the mountainside if you will, seems to be dominating great swathes of the world as Pluto advances further into Capricorn. Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria for example – so many countries in the hot spot of world events have a populace struggling to inform their leaders of their yearning for a more spacious life: they are leaping for their future. The fact that many die, that many are wounded by weapons (more often than not sold to said leaders by the western powers during the great free market bonanza of the 1980’s and 1990’s) is the risk of leaping, and the sure indication that man’s will to be is actually a far deeper impulse than that of mere survival.
As Pluto moves further into Capricorn the impulse to leap will only grow, as alongside it so grows the fear of the ever greater drop from the mountain. In this personal and collective struggle between the Saturn fear and bondage we encounter, much is linked to the very origins of civilization as we know it through the planetary south nodes of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto being in Capricorn. For much at the heart of civilization has stemmed from fear of the wild, of the variations of fear of death, the struggle to survive. From that fear the will to dominate arises, the need to control nature – one aspect of the armoured Saturn impulse as it expresses across the cultural dominance of the patriarchal model of society extant for around 8,000 years. This origin arose in the Cancer Age (roughly 6-8,000 B.C.E.) in which Jeffrey Green has argued for a sub-Age polarity within the Astrological Ages, placing the sub-Age of Capricorn as the critical transitional conflict between pre-existing matriarchal cultures and the dominator model: Making explicit the Capricorn origins of our current civilization.
The Ascent of Man
In his enormous work The Ascent of Man, Charles Eisenstein has argued wonderfully that in moving from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled agricultural one humankind traded an itinerant life in which there were variations in the quality of diet. But by far the greatest resource was free time and social bonding. Our move toward a more ‘secure’ life actually bound us into long hours of production with very little personal time or space for ourselves (the armouring of Capricorn, the constellation then of the growing inner need for chaos, for the courage to leap). This would reach an apotheosis in the Industrial revolution when the powerful engines of the economies of Empire were revved up noisily at the cost of the quality of lives of millions of adults and children who forced themselves to become automatons in service to the production line. In my view the collective trauma of the production line still dominates much of the conscious and unconscious goals of our culture today. Not least in the fantasy of the importance of endlessly driving the economy, people working slave-like hours for non-essential or even destructive employment (in terms of cost of resources or to the environment versus the actual value of the work for humanity or sentient life).
Of course the armour of Capricorn fuels this drive through the paradoxical rotation of weaponry, which is made in the industrial nations of the west and is sold to nations which are then years later mobilized against by the very nations that armed them – supposedly in order to protect the people of such nations from their misguided rulers: who were judged perfectly sane when the ‘products’ were sold them. And so the engine of conflict drives on. We produce weapons, sell them, then produce more weapons to be used to destroy the weapons that we sold. In the process we are guaranteeing a future need for weapons, which in our factories and large corporations allied to the army we will be ready to make again. This is the rotation of the scapegoat Capricorn and it lies like a deep wound in the shadow of the Western powers. As protectors of the world’s dispossessed we facilitated some of their dispossession in the first place. The heroic ego then enjoys coming to centre stage to rescue…
That civilizations rise and then fall is a given considering the very existence of the plural term. The citizens of Easter Island had a good deal via a fertile sea and a bountiful land with large trees ideal for making boats in order to harvest a living from the sea. Eventually lots of boats and not enough trees, and not enough time for the trees to grow large enough for the future boats, then no working boats and no trees – then no civilization on Easter Island.
The parallels in the modern era seem concerning from certain perspectives. For example the U.S. military is the largest single purchaser of fuel in the world, and consumes an amount equivalent to a country like Greece: in the above cyclic imagining of weapons production in the world the underlying fantasy of the armouring of the world is that the cycle is endless. For each destructive wave lays a space for more construction. Unlike, however, certain slash-and-burn techniques of the hunter-gatherer cultures in which this idea might be paralleled, there is no fallow period in which the ground recovers. Human history is dominated by war, by large-scale conflict, as it is a product of the armour of the Saturn project.
Furthermore the very fuel of this cyclic process was made by the accumulation of ancient forests and vegetation over millions of years. We will not be able to wait for this fuel to regrow. The lifecycle of oil can be measured in geological ‘deep time’ not in the relatively short term tenancy of a civilization, or the blink of an eye of a given culture.
Pluto’s South Node
As Pluto moves further into Capricorn it comes ever closer to its own south node and the south nodes of Jupiter and Saturn. These conjunctions will occur in 2019 and 2020. In personal terms maybe this seems far off. In the terms of a civilization though, this is mere moments before the dominant signature of personal and collective transformation (Pluto) encounters its own past (south node of Pluto) and the history of the beliefs and structures of civilization itself (south nodes of Jupiter and Saturn, alongside the south node of Pluto in Capricorn). This is as clear a signature of a given culture, of civilization even, coming to a reckoning with itself, and its own core assumptions and premises. We have the privilege of living in interesting times…
Spiritually the power of leaping is that it resonates with the part of our nature that is free from gravity – that part that transcends space and time. This is the power of Pluto the Goat. Capricorn as an archetype holds the essential structure of space-time. It is the great signature of form.
The secret beating inside the Goat’s heart as it flies up the mountainside is arising from the palace beyond space and time that the most transcendent impulses in art and religion have touched upon: the vision of divinity, the freedom of the spark of that divine world in every heart. The Course in Miracles argues that space and time only exist on one level in order for us to gain the courage and levity to make the deepest leap we can make into the truth of our divinity. The escape velocity required for this to happen is powered by forgiveness – a quality only necessary inside the space-time continuum. For once one is forgiven one realizes (inside the leap as it were) that there was nothing to ever forgive. Paradoxically it takes the experience of forgiving every aspect of one’s life, thought and being, forgiveness of every aspect of the world’s life, the life of others and any and everything that ever happened, in order to experience the true weightlessness of the forgiven who can realize that they never needed forgiving. Maybe this is the state related by Christ walking on the water.
The core holding pattern of Saturn-Capricorn is guilt, and the resultant fear and anxiety held around the guilt. This is the dynamic of the scapegoat, the emotional beast of burden who, laden with the heaviness of the world and the complexes of the people, was sent out into the desert to die. This is the archetype that Christ took on – sent out to die, accepting and embracing that option as a privilege, as an opportunity to reveal that gravity can be reversed. This was his new testament.
Whatever happens in the world now, this source of leaping exists as a potential in the creative life and spiritual will of human kind and sentient life. As Spring suddenly starts to brighten the world outside my window once again and I enjoy the shock of the new buds brightening the passing canvas of winter, I chose Pluto the Goat, agile on the precarious slopes of the mountain where few could find their feet, as my symbol for negotiating the downslide of the current form of civilization that we have collectively dreamed into being on this beautiful earth. Within this agile leaping are new dreams yet to be that could at any moment spring into life.