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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


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.


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