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Turn, Turn, Turn 05/08/2017

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Hellenistic, homesteading, Long Emergency, Mundane, Photography, urban agriculture.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The growing season has been a predominantly pleasant and productive one in the upper Mississippi River region. Only a few bumps have thus far appeared on the path to harvest: the state’s earliest-ever tornadoes, and — in the first week of June — a hailstorm that pummeled the more tender leaves and prompted a call for snow plows a few miles from this reporter’s domicile.

Now, amazingly, the first dry, golden leaves are falling. I noticed it first in front of the house, under the river birch tree. Later in the day, as I reached around, under, above the arching canes — reaching for the heavy clusters of fruit — of the elderberry bush, I could see some of its compound leaves, now a pale yellow.

The days are beginning to be noticeably shorter here as the month of golden Leo proceeds. The first reminder of summer’s imminent end arrived this week, right on cosmic schedule for this region.

The week has been a busy one, particularly due to the sequence of harvesting, stripping, mashing a great plenty of elderberries — all from one bush — and beginning the wine-making process. Nearly two weeks earlier than in 2014 and 2015 — I skipped wine-making last year, letting friends pick the fruit for medicinal syrup.

The hands-on work has been welcome amidst the mental and emotional work that has attended sessions at two conferences: the first Transition National Gathering at Macalester College in St. Paul, and a grassroots democracy conference. Both have been energizing tribal get-togethers, and both have been reminders of the urgency of the world situation.

At the latter event, Jill Stein and Ronnie Cummins spoke about “connecting the dots” of a myriad of efforts and organizations — about the need for mutual support on the issues of food, climate, health and democracy. Stein outlined a fourfold emergency response, transforming renewable energy (unspoken though: a much-reduced energy diet from North American standards), food, transportation and ecological systems. Cummins emphasized the huge cadre — 519,000 — of elected and appointed officials in the US, and — without relying primarily on their receptivity — their charge to serve their constituents. 

Much change is in the air: For example, in Minneapolis the herbicide-loving majority on the Park and Recreation Board is on the way out of office, due to public pressure and failure to receive further endorsement.

Cummins referred to other numbers: five hundred million small-holding farmers worldwide, along with two hundred million herders, fifty million industrial farmers, and two-and-a-half million organic farmers. All of them are wrestling with tidal waves of systemic change.

Vital — not a single cure-all — is waves of practical, on-the-ground support in natural processes that can restore land and oceans. Reversing many destructive trends, cooperating in Gaia’s restorative powers  — possible yes, but how likely, especially given such views, with the backing of big money, as this:

We can talk about the complexities of Monsanto as a ruthlessly capitalistic company all day long, but their products, the technology itself, is safe and it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around that. . . .  Here is this company with a rather checkered past, on the one hand, and on the other hand, this technology seems to be able to do the world a lot of good. How do we reconcile those things? – Trace Sheehan, producer/writer of “Food Evolution”

Ah yes, what an oh-so-natural-sounding title, eh? And such a benign attitude: as if the “complexities” ought to be regarded separately from the technology. (What a prospect: nine billion humanoids, all watched over by machines of loving grace.) But actually, for decades on end, food has been given a series of technological shoves.

Anyway — you certainly don’t need (or, likely, want) a lecture on the workings and notions of industrial agriculture. You’ve likely been doing your own homework, and drawing your own conclusions, for quite a while.

At bottom, the message of “Food Evolution” certainly would seem to be: Let’s keep business-as-usual going, despite its manifold reported failures.

I really don’t see that approach to the current existential crisis getting off the ground, so to speak.

The breakdown of ecological, economic, cultural, political systems is undeniable — unless, probably, one is paid to deny.

My own vision of the glories of genetic engineering — and its accompanying regular use of herbicides, leading to the emergence of super-weeds — includes the testimony of one with first-hand experience in the early stages of  restoration. Sitting around a conference table at the Transition event, one presenter talked of ten-foot-tall “trees” of ragweed on her modest-sized tract formerly rented out for conventional agriculture: descendants of those that survived the chemical attacks. Those would have to be cut down with saws or chain-saws, and the fields worked over by her goats in subsequent years.

Grief, acknowledged or not, is ever-present. One presenter, a local community college teacher, had invited several of her students to bring their stories to a session of “climate grief.”  Several were from Somalia and Ethiopia, conveying the perspective of increasingly frequent drought years, of “pirates” (at least initially) seeking to drive away shiploads of industrial wastes, of mass dislocation and political repression stemming from the illegal sale of agricultural lands to Chinese investors, for food exports.

Some analysts of Gaia’s systems are convinced that the tipping point is already past, some others that three years remain — until 2020 — in which to begin reversing the trends.

Not all was grim and dire: There was a teleconference with Shaun Chamberlin in the UK, sharing audio and video clips of the late happy warrior David Fleming. And, after the gathering’s conclusion, a walk with several first-time visitors from the campus to the gorge of the Mississippi River, witnessing a glorious sunset and noticing the different plants along the way.

In “my” own yard, bounteous, beautiful food is streaming forth — along with a great hatch of ravenous Japanese beetles. (They are especially fond of the cylindrical pale-purple flowers on the anise hyssop — for intoxication apparently, not for food.) The first big heads of broccoli are contributing to many a breakfast scramble, the cucumbers are about to produce their green deluge — though I missed one, now yellow and destined to yield seed for next year’s crop.

And the other day, a hummingbird briefly zoomed in and hovered, visiting perhaps in search of artificial food — none of that here.

When I look, observe and see, I find beauty aplenty.

Always, there is majesty in the sky and in the movements of the sky beings. Luna is in the glorious pre-Full phase, leading to the lunar eclipse (not visible from North America). And then, the greatly anticipated Great American Solar Eclipse of 21 August. Interest is running at a frenzied pitch. Even Newsweek has run a piece on the astrological significance for not-really-president Trump.

The astrological community, of course, has been abuzz for many months, focusing particularly on the fact that the eclipse hits Trump’s so-much-in-evidence Mars as well as his ascendant. As could be expected, there were a variety of interpretations among the astrologers who presented the “Eclipse Master Class” via AstrologyHub.

Can he remain in office? It’s hard to imagine, given the ongoing intensifying political circus. Will he go — soon or later?

It seems that too few astrologers have made extensive studies of eclipses’ significance, how long their effect lasts and starting when.

Ben Dykes, translator of ancient astrological texts, opined that events of early December 2017 — when Saturn reaches a trine (one-third of the zodiacal circle) from the eclipse point — will offer hints of what is to come, while the main period of intensity of effects will run from March to October 2019. The eclipse occurring at the end of the zoidion Leo indicates the conclusion of a situation — of a would-be king occupying his throne (or Offal Office)? He foresaw scandal primarily involving Trump’s children — Venus in Cancer at right angle to Jupiter in Libra in the eclipse chart, repeating the pattern in Trump’s natal: Jupiter being lord of the fifth place (children) in the natal — but  not being  personally harmed in a physical way.

Saturn in the first place of the eclipse chart, cast for Washington, indicates much national trouble, since Saturn is lord of the second place. One doesn’t need astrology to see that, but it does confirm a deepening “time of troubles”  for this mismanaged nation, this unraveling empire.

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Eclipse queen Bernadette Brady pointed, in part, to previous eclipses on the day before at nineteen-year intervals, thus at the same zodiacal degree. In 1979, there were nuclear-weapons tests by the USA, UK and USSR; in 1998, there were provocative terrorist attacks in Kenya and Tanzania that were answered with US attacks on Afghanistan, and a significant satellite launch by North Korea.

Now, again, the Korean peninsula is on edge, with Chinese, Russian, Japanese and American military forces and populations watching anxiously. Brady interprets the imminent solar eclipse as denoting danger from action in haste or in seeking revenge (Mars close to the eclipse point): patience is of great importance, as is how one acts while waiting; legal and constitutional crises are in process.

The sense of crisis in Washington, especially, is obvious and deepening.

What has been little noted, however, is the symbolic impact of the Great American Eclipse on the chart of the office of the presidency. The configuration of the former upon the latter confirms the extreme pressures brought by various claimants to power and the highly-charged state of the people at large.

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Recognize: The nature and functioning of the presidency will be deeply and irrevocably altered by the events of the coming months. It will be some time before the shape of the new dispensation is evident.

Significant news and hints of largely hidden developments can be expected around and soon after the Mercury direct station — at the eclipse degree — which occurs on 5 September.

As for the Gaian crisis: Well, Saturn’s entry into Capricorn — where Saturn is lord in the most serious, down-to-earth sense — occurs only thirty-six hours before Sol enters Capricorn on 21 December 2017.

Crunch time, folks.

-<zoidion>-

Be sure to catch Australoger Ed Tamplin’s commentary.

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Drought to Deluge to . . . 17/01/2017

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Event, forecast, Long Emergency, permaculture, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s another bump time around here, as the temperature drifts up to the freezing mark and beyond. Through several days the sky was brilliantly clear, with a wonderful planetary show: Venus quite bright and high in the west after sundown, with Mars much fainter and a little further ahead (from Sol). (Venus needs until early October to catch up, after a retrograde dance early March to mid-April.)

Before sunup, Jupiter is at zenith, directly above the bright star Spica, with Saturn low in the east. (I admit I haven’t spotted Saturn yet, more than thirty degrees from Sol.)

That — up! — is where most of the outdoor majesty is to be found just now in these parts. Though there are corridors and spots where real Earth breaks through. 

Reading — very slowly and episodically — Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota helps me recall and cultivate a fuller sense of the surrounding territory.

One day I recall from the past year involved a quick trip to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, close by the lake called Mille Lacs, where the large-scale shallow fishing waters and rich rice marshes along adjacent rivers provided much sustenance. Long-story short, the sense came that this was a place of much activity in a very large and sparsely populated region, which included the (typically) stupidly named Rum (instead of Spirit) River pathway to the Mississippi. A place of importance.

Just being there, I felt . . . something — something about energy flows, at least across the surface of the Earth.

It puts yesterday into perspective: the circuit of a few miles to visit the frozen leviathan known as Mississippi. As the first wispy clouds began to ride out of the south, Luna went about sinking in the west. In Islands of Peace Park, in Fridley, along the route of the onetime Red River oxcart travel — not so very long ago: less than two hundred years — the ragged icy surface of the Great River covered the ceaseless surge from upstream. (I admit I know little of the character of “management” of the River, and how the dams in the realm of ice restrict or enhance the flow.)

In the long-underwear chill, there were also marvels to behold in the snow-covered floodplain: large fungi on dead trees, the texture and color of ice in ponds that melted to slush until the day after Christmas, the large rough tipi.

But few, I suppose, are inclined to linger much: Might as well move on. Which I did, mostly on the smooth ice nearest the shore. I stopped a number of times, but briefly. Enough to press one knee into the snow to get a photograph or three.

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Islands of Peace: Well, I’d keep that singular, since one of them is in the middle of the Mississippi and would require a heroic stroke as swimmer or paddler, or admittedly, an outboard motor. In a warmer season.

Definitely peaceful, however — except for the distant downstream roar of traffic on the multi-lane across the flow.

As many climatologists have been pointing out for some time, climate disruption includes such phenomena as rapid shifts between extremes, such as the very recent flip from extreme drought to flooding and sudden massive snowpacks in California and Nevada. This was the obvious big weather-related story of Full Moon week.

A story at Salon.com provided a good short summary.

“Just during the storm that hit Jan. 7 to 10, there were 52 reports of extreme precipitation (meaning more than eight inches of rain in a three-day period), with several measuring twice that. Strawberry Valley, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas, got an amazing 20.51 inches of rain during that storm — more than Los Angeles typically gets in an entire year . . . The percentage of the state that is defined as “drought-free” has almost doubled overnight, from about 18 percent to 34.5 percent, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.”

The season chart for the region, based on the December solstice, indicates overall a few more incidents of rainfall during this normally rainy season there: this thanks to Venus near the lower meridian. Even though Venus was in dry, cold Aquarius.

But the classic indications for a period of over-the-top precipitation show up in the Full Moon calculation (the approximate midpoint for the series of storms in that atmospheric river): Venus and Neptune at the lower meridian. At the same time, Mars (reliably a warming if not also drying influence) had reached one of the midpoints between meridian and horizon — there are four, not shown on the graphic, located at nineteen degrees of Pisces, Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius. (Warming was a crucial factor in determining the elevations above which precipitation fell and remained as snow.) In addition, Saturn at one of those midpoints in the season chart was forewarning of severe storms to come.

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These storms, however, with all their attendant destruction and adaptation problems, bring only partial and temporary relief to the exceptional drought. Planetary indications for spring 2017 are emphatically in the direction of renewed drying: The vernal equinox chart puts Mars exactly on the lower meridian at Fresno in the crucial Central Valley. Indeed, the chart overall is weighted toward the triplicity of Fire, and the significance is obvious.

The past few years have given many foretastes of what is to come in spades (or mine-size haulers) during the heat of the summer and beyond. Be ready for wicked heat and drought, punctuated with wildfires and industrial mismanagement on a scale and with an intensity previously unseen.

Count on it: Summer 2017 centers on the period of Sol and Mars in their very hottest combination (in the zoidion Leo, where Sol is lord), especially in August, building up with great force and drama, and releasing following the solar eclipse on 21 August.

It will be yet another time for a mass shedding of denial: a veritable incineration of resistance to recognition of human-forced warming. It will be quite revelatory to witness  who’s willing to discard the blinders, and who’s not.

Besides fires and the misadventures of products of industry, massive crop losses appear very likely. This eclipse path will cut across the U.S. agri-biz “breadbasket” — It won’t be pretty. In part, it will be demonstrative of the degree to which some agriculturists have been moving away from industrial ag orthodoxy. There are many thoughtful and observant experiments afoot in the realm combining permaculture principles and agroforestry, as well as plain old intelligent conservation measures. How they come through the Fires of August will likely be most instructive.

But there’s no getting around it: A massive crisis essentially across the path of the eclipse must be expected, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Truly responding to it will test and redefine the interests of the Trumpencers especially: the ones who are rising up against the same old same old.

Can Trump actually at his ripe immature age grow? All year he’s being pressured by circumstances to develop some gravitas: Do it or die. The one who’s approached the presidency as a lark, another apparent stage for ego-based displays and appeals to the “lesser angels,” is in the process of being constrained: Saturn’s lengthy visitation. Is the Donald willing to act as more than a defiant, tantrum-prone clown figure, to reach the realization that greatness is as greatness does?

No doubt it will be quite a show. But hey, America loves emotional dramas, right?

-<zoidion>-

Once again I must emphasize: Every region needs researchers / observers well versed in astro-weather techniques, working to identify, well in advance, periods of heat and drought, storm and inundation — and informing those willing to listen, and heed. The task doesn’t require computers, satellites and the Internet. It can — and eventually will — be done with ephemerides, tables of diurnal planetary motion, and tables of houses.
Just as in olden times.
It will even be fun. And it will be a service toward the survival and renewal of our respective communities.

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