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A Marked Life 28/07/2016

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Hellenistic.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Expectations of a wet summer are being fulfilled, as the rainwater barrels have overflowed twice in the past five days. There’s been plenty of heat too: The garden is amazingly lush, with pathways narrowing as the squash plants reach out with their large leaves, and heavy tomato plants slumping. The contrast with the winter scene is astonishing.

The rain and heat make for plenty of hungry mosquitoes, however. And it’s been a bad year for Japanese beetles, chomping their way through the leaves of young trees recently planted in the park, raspberry, hazelnut, fireweed — grrrhhhh. (Since 1980, according to climatologists, the mosquito season has increased by about a month in the past decade. Seems about right.) 

Speaking of climate change, John Michael Greer takes a penetrating, unflattering look at the reasons for the failure of the climate change action movement — the one which, once upon a time, had notorious energy-glutton Al Gore as its poster boy. Duh!

It has me re-evaluating my own lifestyle, and it’s a mix. I did take a trip by plane this year,  and it’s been more than a year since I rode the intercity rails. I drive around the city less, riding my bike less, riding the bus more — more often making the choice to entertain myself rather than go through what’s required to go elsewhere. I keep the setting on the water heater turned down  — too much shade from the big silver maple next door makes a solar water heater impractical. When the weather is hot and muggy, I use a couple of fans and wear a wet bandana — neighbors look at me with dumbfounded pity when I tell them I don’t have air conditioning at home, have never liked it.

Of course, the garden and yard are included in my personal energy profile. I get herbs and food from the gradually expanding garden area while facilitating a little bit of presumably healthy natural habitat. It’s been years now since I’ve done any mowing  — almost daily, I pull weeds, and as needed I trim too-long grass by hand — so I’m not burning any fossil fuel there.

I can’t say as I’m there yet, but I’m on the path toward — as Greer puts it — “collapsing now and avoiding the rush.”

The life story of Mark DeFriest ought to stagger the mind of anyone accustomed to life on the “outside,” and lead one to ponder the queer workings of fate and the American criminal justice system. It popped into your writer’s awareness through a short piece on the site of astrologer and former BBC reporter Marjory Orr.

It would seem to be a tale worthy of the Brothers Grimm: a boy who had trouble understanding people but could build or fix nearly anything (watches, engines), who following his father’s death stepped into a steel-jawed trap embodied in his stepmother, leading to spending his adult life in prison, mostly in solitary confinement: an escape artist lately the subject of a documentary film.

The bare facts are these: At age nineteen, DeFriest collected the tools that his father had bequeathed to him, before the probate process had run its course, prompting his stepmother to have him arrested for theft; he was sentenced to four years in prison despite a diagnosis of mental illness; his thirteen escape attempts (seven of them successful) resulted in repeated extensions of his original sentence, his defiance of the prison system earning him twenty-seven years in solitary confinement.

What makes his case remarkable is the ingenuity of his escapes, born of amazing mental attributes: He has been described as an autistic savant, capable, after a brief glimpse, of imprinting his mind with the shape of a key, and being able to fashioning a copy from crude implements.

These are the basic ingredients for a bit of Hellenistic chart sleuthing, beginning with the likely rising zoidion when Mark DeFriest was born in or near Tallahassee, Florida, on 18 August 1960. Quick-study Gemini is the zoidion that comes first to mind.

The placements of the luminaries and planets would seem to fit what is known about him. To begin, Mercury — lord of Gemini — was in Leo, along with Sun and Uranus, on that date, in the third place (house) of the chart, emphasizing his involvement with his immediate surroundings — and potential isolation within his own mental constructs. Sun is in “domicile” (at home) in Leo, but opposite the ninth place (the Sun’s “joy”) — a mixed bag.


The Moon is also in domicile, in Cancer, and opposite Saturn, also in domicile and retrograde, in Capricorn — as a pair, indicative of grievous situations and experiences in regard to his parentage. Placed in the second and eighth places, they show trouble relating to possessions and inheritance.

The place of the father — the fourth — is another mixed bag. Venus is there, showing love and the desire to help coming from father. But Venus is “undignified” (in astrological terminology, “in its fall”) in the zoidion of Virgo. The image of The Tower in the tarot deck comes to mind. There is disaster associated with the father. Indeed, yes: Venus is associated with the zoidion Taurus, which in this speculative chart is in the twelfth place: the place of incarceration. There’s no help either from Venus’ being conjunct Pluto: only dire intensification, a plunge into the depths of human experience.

Mars has no particular dignity or indignity, in Gemini, but in the first place reflects an active, restless and indomitable spirit. And Mars’ angular connection to Mercury is another indication of an unusually agile mind.

The only remaining body in the Hellenistic system to consider is Jupiter, in domicile in Sagittarius. In a strong angular configuration with Sun and Uranus, an unwavering faith in himself, a firm sense of individuality, is indicated. A dignified Jupiter in the seventh place, opposite the first (the place of the self), signifies a partner capable of considerable assistance and support. And it is so: Despite DeFriest’s immersion in the prison system since he was a teenager, he is married to a woman actively campaigning for his release, having met her through a pen-pal list. The delay factor in Jupiter’s retrogradation is reflected in their ongoing separation by prison walls.

Mark DeFriest may get out of prison sometime in the next five years, as the institutional gears grind ever so slowly. That would fit with the general indications of the trigon (triplicity) lords of this speculative chart. Those are the planetary lords associated with his luminary (Sun or Moon) of sect (diurnal or nocturnal birth), in this case Moon in the water triplicity. With the sequence (Mars, Venus,  Moon) of the three lords keyed to twenty-nine-year eras marked by Saturn cycles, at his current age of fifty-six he is nearing the end of his most-dire second era represented by Venus “in fall” in Virgo. The dignified Moon of his third era holds the potential of much easier and comfortable times.

His ordeal is clearly shown in the solar return chart for age nineteen, the age when, for everyone, there is an opportunity for a “reset” indicated by the Sun and Moon both returning to their places at birth, along with a repetition of eclipses at the same zodiacal places.

At solar return 1979, however, Mars was with Moon — Mars “in fall” in Cancer. Not a good time to claim possessions. The previous solar eclipse fell in the tenth place (the place of the (step) mother) and the previous lunar eclipse in the fourth (the father). Plus, at the time of the return, Saturn, symbol of long-running trouble, was conjunct natal Venus.

It appears the end of the toughest times is on the horizon, as another reset is indicated at the second Saturn return in 2019, when Jupiter returns for the fifth time.

Alas, DeFriest is in some ways one of the luckier ones in a crumbling empire in which thousands who can’t or won’t adjust to a sick society — and addled survivors of the empire’s incessant wars — are dumped into (for-profit) prisons or onto the streets.

How does Mark DeFriest’s mind and spirit endure? For clues, see the movie.




Posted by zoidion in Photography.


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