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Lean Logician 22/03/2017

Posted by zoidion in Hellenistic, Long Emergency.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Could it be an omen, coming minutes after the equinox moment? Stepping outside into a gray dawn, a cardinal greeted me from a hidden perch in the cedar tree, its voice piercing my heart. A single call. Above and to the south, Moon and Saturn peeked through small gaps in thin clouds. Then an hour of wispy and puffy clouds, accented briefly by a band of red in the east, before the sky was blanketed for half the day.

Letting whims direct my walking, my feet took me to welcome strips of woods — box elder aplenty, their limbs stretching out and dipping down at contorted angles — and the brown close-cropped grass and murky ponds of the golf links. 

That morning bird’s song seems a reminder to turn from the manifold evidence of the dysfunction of this time, and instead sing the praises of one who sang in prose of the elements of an enjoyable lean way of living. The subtitle of David Fleming’s Surviving the Future captures the place of play in meaningful human and natural connections—and yes, the split between “human” and “natural” is, well, unnatural.

Anyway, the subtitle is: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy.

Actually, though, he didn’t give the book that subtitle. And he didn’t work his work into that book form: neither that one nor the much bigger Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It.

By the time Fleming died suddenly 29 November 2010, a month short of seventy-one, he had amassed a great collection of short writings, much of it ecological and social wisdom in the form of definitions. No wonder he had made only a few copies and shared them with a few close associates.

His friend and mentee Shaun Chamberlin shaped it into the two posthumously-published books.

Who was this David Fleming?

Beyond, that is, someone who described the characteristics of localization as the normative and inevitable level of social organization, that will resume once the anomaly of globalization plays itself out.

Evidently, he possessed the personality, the temperament, of a happy warrior: one who conducts his battles with joy, knowing full well the magnitude, difficulty and inevitable losses of the struggle.

For a measure of astrological understanding, at least a date and place of birth are available: 2 January 1940, Milford, England, southwest of London. Little, however, of his early circumstances and upbringing is public knowledge.


Day or night? That is the starting point for any effort toward approximating a natal chart, and whether Sol or Luna is luminary of sect (diurnal or nocturnal) determines which planets are triplicity (trigon) lords for which stages of life.

For Fleming’s chart, Sol is in the zoidion of Capricorn, Luna in Libra. If Sol is luminary, the triplicity lords are Venus, Luna and Mars in sequence; if Luna is luminary, they are Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter. Each of the appropriate three is in turn “lord” of an era marked by a cycle of Saturn around the zodiac. (This system is very well described in Joseph Crane’s Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy.)

Here’s a clue to the essence of who Fleming was: “ . . . the book brings space and intelligence and wit to areas that are normally written about in lumbering opinionated prose. In a genre weighted down by tribalism, righteousness, political rhetoric and scientific data, his words come like a fresh breeze. Where other books would feature graphs, he has woodcuts of the English countryside.” (Dark Mountain)

Spaciousness, intelligence and wit cast together — along with the emphasis upon playfulness and celebration — strongly suggest that Mercury in Sagittarius was ascendant at his birth. In addition, this Mercury is in a diurnal relationship to Sol: rising before Sol. More potency in directions of investigation, synthesis, communication.

His evidently lean physique also points in that direction. (Also, his mother’s status as an award-winning crime writer is reflected in Virgo — where Mercury is also lord — in the tenth place.)

If so, his birth was nocturnal, in the hours before the wintry dawn.

That considerable energy and vision (or delusion) would be linked to his intelligence was “baked in”—Mercury in the chart, regardless of time of day or night, is at the focal point of a Mars-Neptune axis.

Surely, Mercury would have to be prominently placed in his chart: He was evidently a man of ideas above all, one who was continually reworking his writing, never satisfied. His great, sprawling work Lean Logic was anything but lean, and was only published posthumously, then trimmed down to manageable size by his mentee.

These factors speak to a natal Mercury not only mutable (in Sagittarius, in “detriment” opposite Mercury’s domicile in Gemini: continually seeking a more comprehensive view of the big picture), but also likely angular (near horizon or meridian): probably in the first or tenth place.

Thus, if the foregoing suppositions are correct, Mercury was “lord” of Fleming’s first era of life, which included his studies in history at Oxford University and a varied career in manufacturing, marketing, advertising and financial public relations (according to his Wikipedia biography).

Saturn — in difficult astrological circumstances (“in fall” in Aries) — was “lord” of his second era, when he began his opus. (The world at that time — the 1970s — was marked by the first shocking reminders that Earth is a finite planet unsuited for economic systems based on infinite growth.)

The third era, with Jupiter in Aries as “lord,” would be expansive and pioneering, as he made connections with many notable individuals and groups — including participants in Transition Towns projects — discussing and working on alternatives and successors to global market-based economies and cultures.

A major event was the publication in April 1999, at age fifty-nine (the conclusion of his Saturnian era), of his article “The next oil shock?” in Prospect magazine, interpreting the International Energy Agency’s report of the previous year as indicating an impending global oil crisis. (Fleming had a long history with the subject, though for nearly two decades denial and derision regarding such works as The Limits to Growth and Overshoot had been nearly total.) Later, he revealed that Fatih Birol, future chief economist for the IEA, met with him after reading the article and admitted that “you are right . . . there are maybe six people in the world who understand this.”

It was a defining moment, as that age is for most people: It is the year when both Jupiter and Saturn return to their places in the birth chart.

It was especially potent for Fleming.


By that time, by secondary progression (counting one day after birth for each year of life), Mercury had gone slightly more than one-quarter of the way around the zodiac, and was now conjunct natal (in-sect) Mars: representing a message with considerable impact. In addition, the progressed upper meridian, along with progressed Luna, had reached conjunction with natal ascendant: a merging of professional role with personal capability.

One more thing: progressed Sol was now conjunct the Lot of Fortune, which refers to the natural flow of life’s events. (The Lot of Fortune for Fleming’s nocturnal chart is exactly opposite where it appears — the X inside the O — in this Time Passages-generated chart. The Lot of Fortune is determined by the angular distance between Sol and Luna, but in the Helllenistic system, one reckons from the luminary of sect: in this case, Luna.)

Fleming had now fully connected with the substance of his life’s work, and was receiving recognition for it. He would spend the rest of his life exploring, defining and re-defining, and communicating the implications of his comprehension: Lean Logic, his summary of how to live fully with less . . . energy, stuff, distraction. And more carnival.

Within the Hellenistic system, nothing need be said — at least initially — about Sol’s zoidion, Capricorn. As the luminary out of sect, Sol is not inherently prominent. Placed (speculatively) in the second place from the ascendant, Sol is obscure. (As one who was evidently not propelled by a sense of self-importance, his was not a “solar” personality.)

Luna’s place is rather different: In the eleventh place relating to highly social activities, Luna is strengthened by a close trine with Venus, Luna’s “lady” or “ruler” (in modern astrological terminology). Plus, Venus is in-sect. These are symbols for someone with the capacity and skills to move easily and gracefully through social situations. Judging by some stories — particularly, that of sending one of the few prized copies of his opus to his future editor after an hour’s phone conversation — he was adept at reading and cultivating compatibility.

As for astrological temperament, using the system advocated by Kelly Surtees — combining zoidia and lords of ascendant and Luna, along with season of Sol and phase of Luna — the distillation is: sanguine: buoyant and cheerful.

Just the sort of person to make a quick, unannounced exit.




Dark Mountain

Transition Voice

Chelsea Green

Astrology Institute

Kelly Surtees

The Year Without Summer 29/12/2016

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Event, Hellenistic, History, homesteading, Uncategorized, urban agriculture, Weather.
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New lunar crescent and Venus, January 2014

Twin Cities ephemera: There’s not much to look at out there, what with the yard blanketed by what remains after a foot-and-a-half of snow meets with an inch of rain. The weather was so wild on the twenty-fifth that after “sundown,” a single flash of lightning lit the sky, and thunder seemed to roll across the flats near the Mississippi River and up and over this small ridge and upland.

Oh, there is a bit to note: rabbit trails, for instance, and the evidence of their munching on what was left of broccoli and kale leaves, and the fertilizer the rabbits leave behind. (Their little pellets of poop are strewn all along their trails, leaving me to wonder if they eject them as they run? They certainly don’t stand stock still when I surprise one, as they don’t blend into the landscape now. I think they munch and run, back to wherever they’re safe.)

The black currant bushes under one of the pear trees serve to remind me to take some cuttings come February. I cleared out some of the black raspberries out front: space to install some more currants, once they’ve had a couple of months to start roots indoors.

A big tree rat (aka “squirrel”) nest came splattering down on the ground, under the river birch, in the course of that big storm. A few small birch branches too.

But we were lucky: Very little rain froze on the branches, and after the rain, a howling wind dried the pavements before the temperature dropped below freezing.

In the morning, Luna in waning crescent phase winked several times through holes in the clouds, before dancing lines of snow flurries began snaking down the streets.

Thank the gods of earth and storms that there was no repeat of the terrible winter of 1996, when a January thaw brought at least as much rain that was followed by a temperature plunge to minus-thirty. (“Up north”: as low as minus-sixty.) Everything was ice-coated until March. I remember sitting in my former house — the one with the big old asbestos-wrapped octopus furnace — that night as the temperature dropped, hearing the wood in the studs pop-pop-popping. A chilling sound.

2016 ought not pass away without reference to what occurred two hundred years ago: “the year without summer” in Europe and northeastern North America.

In the latter, the mild winter of 1815-16 fueled renewed debate over whether there was a trend in that direction: The “Dalton Minimum” era of low sunspot activity, which began in 1790, was the subject of  much discussion in scientific circles.

But few scientists knew about a great volcanic eruption in the East Indies, and fewer realized what an effect it would evidently have the following year on the far side of the globe. The ever-astute Benjamin Franklin, however, was among those who had noted the coincidence of the eruption of Laki (Iceland) in 1783 and the strange, dangerous weather that followed.

Excessive rainfall, frost, even snow through what should have been summer 1816 plagued the regions mentioned, and produced food shortages and riots, famine, religious revivals, epidemics and migrations: Many New Englanders gave up on their rocky farms and set out for the Midwest. (That is why there is a band of territory from New England to Minnesota that falls within Colin Woodard’s identified cultural region of Yankeedom. See his book American Nations.)

As detailed in William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman in The Year Without Summer, chaos and calamity followed the eruption at Tambora in what is now Indonesia in April 1815. Some examples:

On Monday July 8, frost struck crops from Maine to Virginia . . . The morning of July 9 brought even colder temperatures and hard frosts . . . From Sweden to northern Italy, and Switzerland to Spain, great rain-bearing clouds seemed to darken the skies every day . . . As reports of the damage to grain and vineyards poured into Paris—where the Seine rose eight feet over several days—priests directed their flocks to pray for an end to the deluge.

Some blamed the recent resurgence in sunspots. In Italy, where the winter had been very severe (including historically unprecedented snowfalls), the situation was so dire that an astronomer in Bologna predicted that life on Earth would come to an end on 18 July—until government officials had him put in jail. (Perhaps that particular date was identified because of the prior conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn—the primary reference point for economic and political matters—on 18 July 1802.)

But recent compilations of anecdotal and scientific evidence, the Klingamans’ among them, point toward Tambora as the major factor.

The astrological evidence is also instructive, using the Aries solar ingress for 1815 as a base map. Again, as with astro-weather maps, the lower meridian and the bottom of the chart (representing what is on or under the Earth) contains appropriate symbols for a potential upheaval. It is Mars, planetary lord of Aries, “exalted” (maximally strengthened and effective) in Capricorn close to the point of the prior solar eclipse (at nineteen degrees Capricorn, not shown in the chart below, the inner ring showing the Aries ingress configuration). Adding to Mars’ potency was its closeness in declination—angular distance from the ecliptic—to Uranus and Neptune, those two large planets a few years away from conjunction.


Another placement of note is Venus setting on the western horizon while placed in Aries, opposite its/her domicile in the ascendant, Libra. That, together with the square angle to Mars, is a strong indication of trouble. (Astrologers using the Hellenistic system of delineation would likely emphasize Mars—the “malefic,” the troublemaker, the cutter—as the force “overcoming” the more peaceable Venus because of Mars’ placement “before” Venus.)

Trouble came quickly, with a major eruption on 5 April and an even greater one on 10 April, the one referenced here. It occurred close to local sundown, on the day of a New Moon in close alignment with that prior Venus position. Bear in mind that at New Moon, Luna is between Earth and Sol: a time of high gravitational force upon Earth.

And interestingly, Mercury (the messenger)—in apparent retrograde motion at the time of the Aries ingress—had caught up with Pluto (the god of the underworld) at the time of the catastrophic second eruption of Tambora.

By the time of the Aries ingress of 1816, there was another dire portent, unseen and unremarked: an exact square (ninety-degree angle) between the yet-to-be-discovered bodies, Neptune and Pluto.

That year came the deluge of destruction.

Alas, Gaia is no more pacific now . . . not when provoked.


[ See also earlier post, “Planets and Civilizations.”]

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