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Forecast: Fall 2014 19/09/2014

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Long Emergency, permaculture, urban agriculture.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The small green orbs of the hardy kiwi keep on dangling as the leaves that hide them turn yellow. Daily now, I give several a gentle tug, but no, they aren’t ready. Even so, I’ve sampled a couple that I’ve found down on the deck: tart, yet tasty, with the familiar kiwi consistency.


I’ve chopped down the mini-forest of sunflower stalks that made it a challenge to get to and check on one of the hazelnut seedlings that I put in the ground on the day before the solstice. (The seedlings are the same size they were three months ago, but I have confidence that they’ll be erupting with visible new growth six–well, make that seven, no, eight–months from now.) A mycologist friend tells me that a bed of the stalks makes a good medium for growing oyster mushrooms, but neither she nor I have been able to find definite information. Perhaps I’ll get an answer when I attend next month’s stop of the Radical Mycology tour. In the meantime, I plan to proceed with further chopping, laying the chips in part of the south garden–ironically, the shadiest spot in the yard.

A couple of evenings ago I attended a small gathering to watch and discuss a Bioneers conference  presentation by Michael Pollan–a presentation from five years ago. I had been invited to be present to talk about my own urban homesteading efforts and my involvement with local Transition Town groups. The presentation was a sobering reminder of how much–and how little–has changed in the interim. Pollan talked about the emergence of the healthy food movement, and the perception that Pres.-elect Barack Obama was prepared to take steps to support that movement–IF it grew so loud and forceful to force him. The old make-me-do-it politics.

What with the continuing juggernaut of Big Ag and its allies within the federal bureaucracy, it’s clear that the movement has yet to attain such power. And yet–as I heard at the North American Permaculture Convergence, some small-scale community-based projects are getting positive reviews and funding from the big Department of Ag. Why? Because some insiders fully recognize the rough shape of the woes before us–recognize that the industrial-scale agricultural system is crumbling, and recognize that it is vital to support viable alternatives.

Some of these alternatives are becoming an integral part of primary and secondary education: The group heard from three people involved in the Spark-Y Youth Action Labs, which engage students in hands-on projects in aquaponics, vermi-composting, and algae and mushroom cultivation. These are becoming commonplace.

Several people during the discussion picked up on Pollan’s observation that many more people–as in millions–would be / are needed to be involved in food production in this country, to make the difficult transition from industrial to sustainable agriculture. And yet they could not imagine conditions that would induce such numbers to repopulate the nearly-empty countryside. 

I can: further stages of economic collapse foreclosing on urban housing and employment prospects.

They could only imagine would-be farmers unable to afford sky-high land prices. 

I can imagine relocated urban peasants striking deals with struggling farmers to live and work on-site, doing the grunt work in place of the too-expensive machinery and chemicals. Alas, many will take sick from exposure to polluted soils and waters, but that is one of the unfortunate aspects to be expected of the hard and uncertain path toward an ecotechnic future.


With only a few days left of astronomical summer, anxiety about the coming winter is increasingly palpable. It’s curious how the expectation of an “easy” winter has been so roundly punctured. Now, many folks seem to be dreading another winter like last winter.

But first comes fall. And following the early frost, mostly in the northern half of Minnesota, a beautiful Indian summer is in the offing. Details below.

Outline for the season in the the Upper Mississippi River basin: Autumn 2014

The region receives a partial respite from the persistently wet and cooler-than-average conditions through the previous three seasons: a welcome run of generally warm, dry, pleasant weather, including most of October. Wintry weather arrives on-time during Thanksgiving week. Overall,the season sees a shift to a drier-than-average trend.

Week by Week

New Moon: 24 – 30 September

Cool, dry

First Quarter: 1 – 7 October

Some rain early in week, continued cool

Full Moon (Lunar Eclipse): 8 – 14 October

Warmer, drier

Fourth Quarter: 15 – 22 October

A little rain, a little cooler

New Moon (Solar Eclipse): 23- 29 October

Warm front, drier

First Quarter: 30 October – 5 November

A little rain, cooler

Full Moon: 6 – 13 November

Significant, possibly heavy rain

Fourth Quarter: 14 – 21 November

A shot of cold, then warming again; dry

New Moon: 22 – 28 November

Snow, blustery; a classic wintry Thanksgiving

First Quarter: 29 November – 5 December

Severe cold following heavy snow

Full Moon: 6 – 13 December

Persistent cold, intermittent snow

Fourth Quarter: 14 – 20 December

A shot of unusual cold, then warming; dry

Libra Ingress 2014

Primary indications: Fire sign Leo and Jupiter at lower meridian (warm, pleasant), but Jupiter square (~ ninety degrees) to Saturn in Scorpio (stormy, cold extremes). Sun in Libra (mild, somewhat dry) ruling fire sign Leo, Venus in Virgo (slight moisture) ruling Libra.



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.


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.


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.


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