A post from September 11, 2020. Here is what I would add:
What does it mean to have language acquisition skills? Every good writer has a well-developed language center in the brain. This language center can be connected to ‘procedural skills’ that might be in an adjacent center in the brain. Procedural skills having to do with the language center that affects our skills as writers.
On one extreme we have “Introduction to Text Linguistics.” That was a book assigned to us in my first major-fulfilling English class. On that same extreme we have the proper teaching of speech and language to very young children, where words are assembled through phonetics (NOT the whole-word method, for god’s sake) and then identified on a piece of paper. On the other extreme are writers who have incredible procedural skills as to how their writing is developed on a given day, how these procedural skills mix with our current consciousness, which, on a good day, creates miracles on the page.
I mention all this because this post has to do, in part, with how discourse has developed, especially over the last thirty years with the advent of word processing. (I have particularly excelled under the modern word processing regime far more than I would with a typewriter.) The other part of the article is about Steven Forrest’s writing on two books, covering two outer planets, written 22 years apart (as well as what Forrest’s writing is about related to astrology, which is what this blog is for). It is interesting to contemplate how we might adapt to different style/substance regimes that will develop over the NEXT thirty years. We writers who are older might want to think about this from time to time.
Discourse is a funny thing. In its written form it may have originated, or at least began in earnest, with Ts’ai Lun, the inventor of paper, around 100 C.E., and accelerated in the 15th century by Johann Gutenberg, who brought forth what we would now call the printing press, through a synthesis of many elements. (Ts’ai Lun and Gutenberg were considered by one source to be the 7th and 8th most influential people in human history.)
I think of discourse because I write, of course, but also because I was in the middle of what might have been the 3rd or 4th or 5th wave of discourse production, the use of word processing. At this writing I am 50, and was privy to the beginnings of the Apple McIntosh, originally hitting us around 1985 and maybe the first “windows”- oriented system. I wrote high school papers using the library’s McIntosh, since I didn’t have one.
I entered university in 1988, when there were computer clusters and more advanced McIntoshes, and joined the alternative paper (The Student Union) in 1991, eventually being one of its “non-editors” through about 1993. We had a software program called “Pagemaker” which we used to convert articles written like paper to “print-out friendly” pages on our 11×17 tabloid. Articles could be juxtaposed in any way preferred on those pages simply by moving the physical scope of an article anywhere on a page. And then published — not, of course, until we pasted the pages onto the larger 11×17 page and sent it in to the printer. But it was still an advance over typesetting machines.
These were the beginnings of word processing. Over the past thirty years, with Windows computers of increasing processing power combined with the increasing reach of our ability to answer nearly any question or curiosity we could possibly ask through doing a Google search — which, of course, was a major improvement over the web browsers of the 1990s — I have noticed the style, even the content, of discourse has changed.
Even the simple act of being able to move any words around anywhere and not have to write, with a typewriter, from the beginning to the end, linearly, without being able to insert words or whole paragraphs or write the damn article in whatever order we choose, makes a difference in how we organize our thoughts and our words on the page. If this is not apparent to you yet, compare the writing on a New York Times article from 1985 to one in 2003 to one in 2020.
Or compare this. Stephen Forrest wrote a book called “The Book of Pluto” in 1994, and 22 years later he wrote a book called “The Book of Neptune.” I have both of these books on my lap. They are the perfect barometer of this writing style change. Of course, what I wanted to do was discuss Stephen Forrest’s Book of Neptune, until I was reminded that a compare-and-contrast would be delightful to lay out and discuss.
Let’s just say that Stephen Forrest learned a whole new style of writing. Better? Perhaps. More reflective of his age and wisdom (and consciousness) developed over the twenty-two years between books? Yes, that too.
Just excerpting from the Book of Pluto, he has a section for Pluto in each of the houses, and subsections within each of the houses entitled “In The Tradition,” “Your High Destiny,” “Your Distorting Wound,” “Your Navigational Error,” “The Healing Method,” and “The Energizing Vision.”
I always get fixated on Pluto in the 10th House since my Pluto is there in my natal chart, although, it did relocate to my 11th house, and stayed there, at the age of 18. From what I can tell, Stephen Forrest tends to think that the natal chart has some primacy over the secondary relocation chart. About a year ago, I watched a video of him talking about the relocated chart being “in its place” relative to the lessons we have to learn which are only in the natal chart. The relocated chart “has its place.”
Anyway. I always like the “Your Navigational Error” of Pluto in the 10th House. It goes like this:
“Would you stroll across a sunlit meadow for a million dollars? Not to put thoughts in your head, but I feel a high degree of confidence in my ability to predict your answer.
“What if the meadow contained nine deadly buried land mines? Now your answer enters more distinctly into the realm of individuality. My guess is that some of you would abruptly change your minds about the stroll, while others would start balancing the joyful prospect of the cash against the probabilities of more cataclysmic eventualities.
“Let’s add a third condition: there is a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex pursuing you. Across the meadow lies your only escape. Suddenly taking your chances with those land minds has more appeal.
“Before we add a fourth condition, let’s sit with the image for a moment. There you are, nervously light-footing it across the sunny grass, torn between scrutiny of each footfall and jittery over-the-shoulder considerations of our Jurassic friend. Are you appreciating the sheer beauty of the meadow? Are you mentally designing the dream-home you might build there with the million bucks? (Do you even remember the million bucks?) Probably not. Under that kind of pressure, more aesthetic, creative interests recede into the background.
“Our fourth condition: the dinosaur is a fake, one of Spielberg’s clever illusions. There are no buried land minds; it was a lie.
“Your behavior in the meadow makes sense, but only on the basis of the information you believe. If we stopped you and said, “You know, when you get that money, I’m seeing a Frank Lloyd Wright design up there on that rise –” you’d look at us as though we were utterly mad. You would be perfectly convinced that you were behaving in the only possible way, given the threatening realities.
“The illusory realities.”
Believe it or not, that passage and that chapter in the book was one of the most inspiring things I read in the run-up to my moving across the country, something I decided to do while so many other people would have stayed put where they are. I was called brave by several people for that, but I depended on reading things like this to come to my decision.
Thank you, Steven.
I am going to add a little bit about what he says in the Pluto-in-the-signs, including Pluto in Virgo, for more than anything else to give you more of a sense of his writing style in 1994. In his Pluto-in-the-signs, there are subsections for “The Passion,” “The Style,” “Blind Spot,” “The Shadow,” and “The Saving Grace.” In his section in Virgo called Blind Spot, he remarks as follows:
“Ideals are difficult to attain. Perfection is a merciless standard by which to judge oneself.
“Here’s an attitude that simultaneously guarantees impressive accomplishments and total despair: “I’ll be happy when I get this exactly right.” It may work fine with cooking dinner or getting a computer program running, but when it comes to working on the more purely human level of life, it will certainly fail. We will never be happy. What man or woman is “perfectly sane?” Or even “shaped perfectly?” What relationship has no rough places, no immortal understandings, no epic frustrations? Life is messy business, and one of the secrets of existence lies in knowing when to say, “This is good enough!” And relaxing, enjoying, appreciating — we might add forgiving.
“Difficulty accepting reality — that’s the key blind spot for Pluto-in-Virgo. Let me emphasize that I speak of “accepting” reality. This is utterly distinct from the question of whether one sees reality. Seeing reality clearly is an enterprise at which Pluto-in-Virgo can whup Pluto-in-Leo before breakfast. But to accept reality — especially one’s own flawed reality — and not be brought to despair by it: that’s the art that Virgo may lack.
“If Pluto-in-Virgo falls into that idealistic trap, it paradoxically ceases to appear idealistic at all. Instead, it descends into cynicism, a sense of doomed impossibility, and hypercriticality.”
This was the state of discourse in 1994.
(The back of the book also offers two astrological software programs, and you can just imagine what 1994 technology for astrological software was and how that’s all we had to use. Another thing we should ask David Cochrane about, since he worked with these charting sources from the 1980s on).
Moving forward 22 years, and The Book of Neptune, I want to focus on Neptune in the 2nd house, which is where my Neptune relocated to when I moved to CO (it started in my 1st house by birth, but I want to use this relocated type as I find it more apropos in some very important ways. That doesn’t mean that I won’t eventually come around to Neptune in the 1st house, it’s just the passages I want to use right now.)
This section of the book spends about six pages each on Neptune in each of the 12 houses. He goes into a lot of other aspects of Neptune, such as aspects between Neptune and the other planets (I have a moderately strong Mars-Neptune square, a strong Neptune-Pluto sextile, a very strong Jupiter-Neptune semi-sextile, and a weak Venus-Neptune conjunction, for example). He has a nice little section on page 78 summarizing how we should meditate with each planet’s aspect to Neptune. Neptune-Venus “loving empathy,” Netpune-Mars “warrior mind.” And so forth. Then he gives entire chapters on each planetary combination.
The summary for Neptune in the 2nd house goes as follows:
“Honoring your attainments on the Path — and avoiding the underestimation of your actual evolutionary state. Choosing appropriate and effective levels of inner practice. Being “willing to pay for it.” Benefits deriving from relationship with sacred objects: statues, stones, relics. Proving one’s self-spiritually.
“Bet the house.
“Leaking energy: Wasting time on practices that are no longer useful given your actual evolutionary condition. Dithering self-doubt. Complications stemming from financial confusion.“
Wow, this screams at me! Even as I finish a men’s group program where we do spiritual morning practices every day, I question to what degree these practices are helping me, which ones I should use, and how I should look at these things in relation to my spiritual evolution. And growing up in a place (a part of metro NY) where spirituality was not valued makes a difference here. Let’s quote on:
“Classically, the second house is called the house of money. We will soon see that its actual meaning carries us far beyond the financial realm, and not just because we are talking about lofty Neptunian concerns — in fact, when we consider its lower expressions, we will see that money ranks near the top of the list of people’s favorite Neptunian addictions.
“In the second house, we often encounter issues of self-confidence, along with actual financial ones. The key is that the former can masquerade as the latter. In the second house, we wrestle with our willingness to take care of ourselves, or reward ourselves, or to be kind to ourselves. We wonder if we have what it takes. These are the psychological dimensions of the second house. In thinking about Neptune in this position, we will need to deal with them — as well as with the more purely practical financial and material definitions of the symbolism.”
Let’s stop here and focus on the writing. On the consciousness expressed by Steven Forrest, consciousness that is different in tone, content, and maturity from his book 22 years earlier. Go back to the Pluto section and compare it to this. And if that’s not enough for you, I’m going to continue to quote more of the most relevant sections of this chapter of this book.
“Say you have Neptune in the second. Here’s a question for you: How much are you willing to invest financially in your own spiritual journey? This is a totally concrete, dollars-and-cents question. If you’re not willing to invest financially in your spiritual journey, what does that say about you? What does that say about how much you value the spiritual journey — or how much you value yourself? We bounce right back to questions of self-worth, in other words.
“Sometimes, given the realities of modern life, it costs money to take care of your soul. That feels uncomfortable to say, and I suspect it sounds a little uncomfortable to hear. We can always sit in meditation — that’s free and always will be. But there are certain experiences we might need in order to support that inner journey. And a lack of money — perceived or real — can potentially place an obstacle between us and having those experiences. If you have Neptune in the second house, there’s a good chance that issue is going to get stirred up. And we need to be alert to the possibility is that the real issue is self-worth, with money only acting as a kind of paper tiger.”
This whole chapter is going to be totally relevant to our understanding of having Neptune in the 2nd house, but I want to skip ahead to one of the later theses in this chapter, as follows:
“Now let’s get right to the heart of the matter. The spiritual path, broadly and inclusively defined, embraces so many different levels and practices They range from mundane things, such as attending church on Easter, up to nine-day fasts in the desert. Earth is kindergarten through the twelfth grade. There are many primitive souls here. Let’s respect them and have compassion for the suffering they inevitably create for themselves. They give evidence of their condition through their abject materialism, by a denial of spirituality, by believing that violence will solve things. We’re not making fun of them, we’re not busy feeling superior to them — we’re just looking at them with clear Neptunian eyes.
“And then, at the other end of the spectrum, we have, for one example, the Dalai Lama. To me, he illustrates a very lofty state of Neptunian evolution.
“Now imagine that I have dinner with the Dalai Lama — a happy thought. Halfway through the meal, I put down my fork and I say, “Dalai, I hope this doesn’t seem pretentious of me, but I’ve been meditating now for several months, and I’d like to share a few tips with you.
“I hope you’re laughing! I am laughing too. What’s wrong with this picture? Obviously, I am in no position to share meditation tips with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is in a higher grade than me”…
“The aim with this configuration is not to avoid spiritual inflation — that is generally not an issue here — but rather to attain clarity about exactly where we are on the spiritual map. If we have clarity about where we are in the journey, we will avoid inflation and egotism. But we will also avoid the equal and opposite error of deflation — which is a soul-cage very much available to you if you were born with this configuration.”
I’m excerpting a little later:
“And if we took that yogi out of the cave and sat him down in that rural church, he would be respectful of these simple souls doing their simple practice, but he would not benefit from being there. He is already too advanced to be helped by that kind of church.
“The point is that if you underestimate yourself spiritually, you will be drawn to practices that are no longer effective for you. That’s the core trap for people with Neptune in the second house. That is the heart of the matter.”
Thank you, Steven.
For your expansion of consciousness over the years — though, as a general rule for everyone, we need to be careful with this later talk, to avoid the practice of snobbery, which I think you understand well; and also, for your willingness to engage with the discursive advancements that our word processing and information gathering technology has afforded us.