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The Occultation Factor 09/09/2014

Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, permaculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The Harvest Moon is setting, opposite a rosy sky with Venus and Jupiter, as I set about winnowing a collection of somewhat random notes. The window beside me is open, letting in a chorus of crickets. How curious is that, the sound of those seldom-seen creatures? The air is calm, but, after several cool, dry days, I can feel the return of humidity. Tonight, heavy storms are expected, followed by a sharp drop in temperature.

I’m back from the North American Permaculture Convergence: have been back for a full week. There’s been plenty to do to catch up after being away for only three days during harvest season, including another round of weeding and thinning the volunteers in the herb area. The borage that I introduced last year has spread prolifically to two other areas: no need to allow it to sprawl where I’m wanting the echinacea and arnica and St. Johns wort to get better established. And I waded into the small forest of kale that have been threatening to choke out the groundnut vines in their very first year: It was a silly idea to put the kale there.

The convergence seems almost like a distant, dim memory already. But I do recall attending sessions on “permaculture in media” (mostly, to my surprise, about the role and future of the Permaculture Activist magazine), on the interpersonal side of ecological and community restoration (led by four strong women associated with Gaia University), and on wild medicine. 

And standing somewhat groggily in the breakfast line my first morning there, I noticed, just in front of me, a friend from way back, Ann Kreilkamp. Actually, I thought she might turn up there, though she was surprised to see me. We met in 1995, I think, at an astrology conference, although we had both been contributing to the now long-defunct magazine Welcome to Planet Earth since the mid-1980s. She’s been based in Bloomington, Indiana, for a while, has taken a permaculture design course, is a leader in transforming her community, and posts her own and others’ ideas almost daily on her Exopermaculture site. We had some catching up to do.

Fortunately, I took some notes at the sessions I attended. The ones most pertinent to the ongoing investigation here are from the one titled “Climate Crisis and Resiliency.” There was not a lot with which I was unfamiliar, except for some climate-change-tracking web sites, particularly these: Arctic News, the Dark Snow Project, Climate Reanalyzer,  and Climate Code Red.

The shocker, though, was “Roundup rain”: air and rainfall laced with volatile constituents of that toxic stew. Most of the Mississippi River basin–from the High Plains to the Appalachians–lies under that cloud. Oh well. What could be more important than continuing a practice that has failed from the start, but continues to yield plenty o’ profits?

A more hopeful highlight: David Holmgren spoke to the Convergence attendees via remote technology from his home in Australia. I watched it at the Convergence, but his talk is now available generally via this link. As an accomplished systems thinker and one of the two initiators of the permaculture process, Holmgren’s is a valuable voice, one of whose key perceptions at this point is: The worse the world situation gets, the more the permaculture movement grows.

That was an oft-repeated theme of the gathering: the evidence that permanent culture has become a movement.

Two bits of close-at-hand evidence: The corner site at the main intersection in my quadrant of the city, where a building burned down about ten years ago, and which has hosted a community garden for the past few years, has lately been designated a permaculture site. The city councilman for the ward has given it his blessing.

And: A young couple who live up the street stopped by about a month ago for some gardening-related talk. They introduced the word permaculture into the conversation. In this neighborhood that seems so sleepy, where nearly any summer morning or evening includes the drone of at least one lawn mower, I was amazed and pleased.

And so it goes: The big things get worse, much worse, while the small things get better and better.

When I make a forecast for a particular week, my primary reference point is the chart for the particular lunation: New Moon, Quarter Moon, Full Moon. The season chart, for the most recent solstice or equinox (aka ingress of the Sun into one of the cardinal signs of the zodiac), informs the season as a whole.

The chart for yesterday’s Full Moon is a humdinger.

FM-Sept-2014

To begin with, the Full Moon is a Super Moon: one when the Moon is at or close to perigee (closest to Earth: a monthly cycle). The exact opposition of Sun and Moon occurred at 8:38 p.m. Central time, well after sundown; thus, the Sun-Moon axis is not close to the horizon, and even further from the meridian. So at first glance, it might appear that the weather for this region would be unremarkable.

However, the Moon is “ruler” of water sign Cancer, on the lower meridian, the longitudinal factor. That’s why, back in June, I called this week a “wet” one. In fact, the two signs involved–Cancer and Pisces–are the two wettest in the astro-weather zodiac. We are definitely primed for rain.

In addition, the Moon, in approaching fullness, has most recently crossed the position of Neptune, on the upper meridian of the season chart. Translation: The surge of atmospheric tides have gathered an additional and unusual amount of moisture from the south (the upper meridian). It is about to get dumped.

The other part of the forecast was for “turbulent winds beginning 10 September, especially 13 September,” related to the Mercury-Uranus opposition stretched across the horizon. (Moon’s next crossing is Uranus’ position on the 10th, and the Mercury-Uranus combination will be exact on the 13th.)

But there is an additional factor at play: the occultation factor. I’ve referred to it occasionally: It happens when the Moon moves exactly in line with Earth and another planet, briefly eclipsing the other planet. The Moon will do that to Uranus on the 10th, at 7:58 p.m. (according to Jim Maynard’s trusty Astrologer’s Datebook). That’s a special, although not rare, occasion. There are four other Moon-Uranus occultations in 2014: 14 August, 4 November, 1 and 29 December.

What makes this one of special significance is Uranus’ place on the ascendant, the eastern horizon, at the time of the Full Moon. When Moon reaches Uranus, occults Uranus, its characteristic forces will be unleashed:

Uranus symbolizing cold and negation, is the antithesis of the Sun, the dynamic principle of heat and expansion. . . . Imparting negative electricity to the extreme, Uranus induces highest barometric pressure, rapidly declining temperatures and through descending air currents from higher altitudes, conduces to greatest wind velocity. . . . Lower ranges of temperature invariably result . . . when configured with Sun or Mercury particularly. (George J. McCormack, A Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting)

The central belt of the North American continent will be affected by this outbreak of chill and accompanying turbulence, as the astromap makes plain. Note the red Uranus-Ascendant line.

FM_Sept-2014_astromap

But what is of particular concern is where the Uranus and (dark blue) Pluto lines converge, through the Gulf of Mexico: the offshore oil drilling region. Will high winds break an oil rig there?

Meanwhile, a vote in the U.S. Senate, on a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision, is scheduled for 10 September. Passage–or not–would likely move the nation a big step closer to a constitutional crisis.

It’s coming. The storms are gathering. The winds of change blow harder.

-<zoidion>-

Full Frontal 28/08/2014

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Long Emergency, Mundane, Urbanism, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: As it likely would be for even the most cursory sky-watcher, it is a special occasion when one has the opportunity to see both Venus and Jupiter in the predawn firmament. It instigates enough of a charge to make a return to sleep an impossibility: For one thing, it got me pondering how unusual it is for Venus and Jupiter–the “benefics”–to travel together concurrently with Mars and Saturn–the “malefics,” now visible after sundown–doing likewise.

Getting outside at dawn also enabled me to discover this little marvel:

IMG_2045

(That’s a bumblebee hanging on to the underside of a leaf on the anise hyssop plant, having spent the night there, apparently. A revelation to me.)

The morning’s visual beauties and wonders were inadequate, however, to prevent recalling one of the more salient sections in the latest posting on John Michael Greer’s Archdruid Report, titled “Dark Age America: The Population Implosion”: “the long-term consequences of industrial America’s frankly brainless dumping of persistent radiological and chemical poisons . . . changes to the North American continent that will endure straight through the deindustrial dark age ahead, and will help shape the history of the successor cultures that will rise amid our ruins.”

It’s the sort of thought that rears its ugly head whenever I reflect on the prospects for human life in Dark Age Minnesota–or whatever it’s called by its denizens. Even now, one only needs to enter the exurbs of the Twin Cities to cross into the zone of industrial agricultural contamination, where some of the world’s richest soil has been converted within a century and a half into a mere substrate designed for seeding with laboratory-engineered “plants” hatched and grown within a slurry of petrochemicals. (Within that radius, of course, the soils–not to mention the air and water–are different types of stews, producing different effects upon its inhabitants.)

So I find myself wondering what fraction of the current population could survive here once industrial agriculture fully founders, leaving its attendant diseases in its wake.

 

This week, though, amidst that internal noise, I’ve been enjoying the shift in atmospheric fronts. First a warm southern one, then a cooler and dryer northern one.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to make myself try to get much done when the atmosphere is muggy.

It wasn’t that last week was hot: not at all, at least around here. Oh, the techno-weather guys got all in a flutter about nasty heat and heat indexes (indices?) scheduled to threaten our very lives on the 21st and 24th.

Didn’t happen. Not even close. The cloudy shroud persisted, and the abnormally low number (two!) of ninety-degree temperature days for the season held steady.

However, the weather was not quite as this prognosticator figured: “warming, dry, windy.” Correct on the first item, wrong on the second: The damp air that accompanied the warm front enabled localized showers and thundershowers to pop up on several days. And the wind stirred only before those showers rolled through. Otherwise, the days seemed to drag on underneath a nearly suffocating blanket.

To illustrate: On the 23rd, a day with no showers, I hand-washed and wrung out five or six shirts and at noon hung them on the line outside to dry. Six hours later, all of them were still wet, not merely damp. Admittedly, the line is not in the sunniest of spots: the sun’s arc sinking lower. But still . . .

So through the murky days I put off one outdoor project: clearing and seeding with a ground cover (hairy vetch, Vicia villosa) this season. The sisters were hampered a bit, despite my efforts, I’m convinced, by the relatively poor soil where the three-years-gone elm tree’s root system remains underground. The idea is get the vetch started fixing nitrogen this season and at the start of next season, then cut it down and plant vegetables. This week for that project.

Another: putting spigots on the rain barrels. Dipping in the watering can–gotta give those cucumber and squash plants some moisture so they can inflate, right?–and lifting it out again is a shoulder-killer. Gotta quit doing that. But that task requires empty barrels, and they’re full again. Oh well, no hurry: sometime before the snow flies.

There’s a big difference between Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius and Saturn-ruled Capricorn, the signs on the lower meridian in the lunation charts for these past two weeks, respectively.

Sagittarius is a fire sign, thus indicative generally of warm and dry conditions. That’s what we had for the week of the warm front.

For this week of the New Moon, we have cooler, wetter Capricorn.

It’s actually been a refreshing week, up to today, when storms threaten. It was striking to note the cooler air on the morning of New Moon day, the twenty-fifth, as the New Moon was near the lower meridian of the season chart. The next morning was cooler still: fifty-nine degrees at sunup, with a high temperature that day of only about seventy.

I was tempted to use the word autumnal, but I held back: I expect a generally warm–and dryer–fall for this region: a shift in the pattern in place since the start of last winter. (Jupiter in fire-sign Leo near the lower meridian is a potent feature of the season chart.)

As these weather fronts moved north and then south, I found myself awakening one morning to this phenomenon as comparable to a military operation. I found myself reflecting on the tragedy of two men in Ferguson, Missouri: a young black man walking in the street and a white policeman who became his killer. And I found myself reflecting on the military invasion and occupation of Ferguson: an expression of aggressive Mars and intimidating Saturn marching together in Mars’ own sign of relentless Scorpio.

And I recalled the timing of the previous domestic military occupation: the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. Mars was in his other sign, quick-acting Aries, along with the Sun, “exalted” in that sign.

In an era when America is in the early stages of bringing its empire home, it is chilling to ponder when and where might be the next incident to provoke another demonstration of might against America’s own–and practice for a broader uprising.

It is disturbing–to say the least–to recognize how this nation has built arenas of alienation. As Charles Marohn has put it in his “Stroad Nation” piece:

“It’s obvious that our platform for building places is creating dynamics primed for social upheaval. The auto-oriented development pattern is a huge financial experiment with massive social, cultural and political ramifications. . . . What I see with Ferguson is a suburb deep into the decline phase of the Suburban Ponzi Scheme.”

And as America discovered in the 1960s, there are a great many places primed to erupt.

Read Marohn’s piece, and awaken a bit more.

For truly, these are times that try (wo)men’s souls.

-<zoidion>-

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