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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


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.


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