• The Autonomy Issue

    Horoscopes for February 2018: How to Become Un-Numb

    The Autonomy Issue
    Horoscopes 3

    Everything you need to know about the Earth opening up and swallowing your planets or the other way around.


    Corina Dross is an artist, astrologer, and rabble-rouser best known for her illustrated card deck, Portable Fortitude. Based out of Philadelphia for the last ten years, she’s currently splitting her time between the East Coast and the Northwest.

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    February 2018

    Social statisticians have dubbed January the “most depressing month,” but February is the month when January’s secret crises break out into the open. Though spring is not yet here, new life is already stretching cold and sticky shoots through thawing ground. What has become numb and vacant in our souls begins to stir and unsettle. As numbness subsides, the rush of returning life often hurts, like the weak tingling of a limb after it’s fallen asleep, or the sting of blood in the face after coming in from the cold. This is what it means to be alive: we are always moving through these mildly painful transitions between states. Fear of pain can paralyze. Remember that pain is a pervasive, inescapable side-effect of being alive. Don’t let it discourage you from becoming un-numb.

    This is especially true as we find ourselves in eclipse season – the first eclipse in this cycle occurred on the last day of January, the second will happen on February 15th, and the energetic effects of both eclipses will linger until the end of the month. Eclipse seasons happen twice a year and bring with them disruption of whatever feels ordinary. They’re like the skipped step on the staircase that jolts you awake from a dream; whether you welcome them or not depends on how much you were enjoying that dream. Eclipses wake us up, helping us emerge from both nightmares and pleasant delusions to see what we’ve been ignoring.

    This month’s solar eclipse in Aquarius uncovers whatever has been hidden about the connections between our individual selves and the larger collective, about what helps us feel a sense of belonging, about integrating what we feel most deeply into how we participate in our social life. It’s a relational energy, and will most likely play out in our connections to each other. People with planets in Aquarius, Leo, Taurus, and Scorpio will be most affected, but for all of us this is above all a time of learning new information. Until the end of the month, it’s wise not to jump to any conclusions or make any far-reaching decisions, if you can help it.

    I’m available for readings this month (at flaxandgold.com/readings) to help you make sense of what’s stirring in your heart or dynamically pinging through your social world. As always, read these horoscopes for what’s useful and discard the rest. The astro-savvy are advised to read their rising signs first, followed by their Sun and Moon.

    “People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin


    In the summer of 1900, Isabelle Eberhardt – orphaned daughter of a Russian aristocrat and her anarchist tutor – buries her mother and throws herself into nomadic life in Algeria. Dressing as a man, she studies Islam, keeps servants, falls in love, and writes feverishly in an attempt to find some kind of spiritual truth that keeps eluding her. Other strategies include staying in constant motion, and vacillating between debauchery and piety. Her biographer describes a move into a house in the Jewish quarter of El Oued as comparatively domestic: “The apparent tranquillity of this period is interrupted by lapses of the household – servants included – into frequent, collective drunkeness, culminating after one binge in Isabelle’s smashing down her front door.” Dearest Aries, this month offers you a glimpse of whatever elusive truth you’ve been seeking, and you may find yourself smashing down your own front door to make sure you can keep it in view. Remember, though, that size of the aperture through which you view the world is much less important than the feelings that color your vision.


    For those who don’t understand that words can be medicine, the sickness persists as a form of monotony that takes the shape of the entire sky. These are the angry politicians and bus stop denizens who shout that we must destroy the tyranny of the horizon. Others among us write poems and dictionaries, rescuing rare words whose habitats have become dangerously destabilized by the teeming abundance of words more suited to serving as currency. But to use these rare, endangered wordsas they long to be used, it isn’t enough to press them between the pages of a heavy book. Rather, ask them to answer the strangeness you feel inside when you go to the place of questioning, longing, waiting, not knowing. Here, knowing the right words is the only way to release an internal pressure that could otherwise lead us to shake our fists at the sky, shouting the same obscenities ad infinitum. Your task this month is merely to begin making medicine, even if it begins as only vowels, only a string of inchoate howls.


    According to Paracelsus, the primary role of your sign is to trap what is volatile as a solid or a liquid. He was speaking of alchemy, with the understanding that human lives unfold like fractals within the larger symmetry of the universe. Whatever you believe about your place in the universe, this is a month when the volatility you witness (interpersonally, internally, geopolitically, existentially) is more likely to sweep you up into its rhythms of dissolution and separation unless you choose to do as Paracelsus would have you do and trap some of it in a fixed state. Approach the chaos of your life as a scientist with a thin glass plate, a microscope, and plenty of time to watch and learn.


    This month begins, like most of your months, amid ocean. You are not drowning, though, you are undulating gently on the surface. Mountains swell and dip, the horizon is not constant, but this is all in a day’s work for you. Your question this month is whether you’re waiting to wash up on the hard earth of some certain, definite future or if you’d rather soar up and away, navigating different kinds of currents as you watch the world twirl below you. In other words: the chaotic but ultimately predictable tone of your world will change this month, but you can choose to either move toward greater safety or greater freedom. Which of these is lacking most right now? Which has the most to teach you?


    Consider the octopus that can camouflage itself perfectly to the ocean floor, or flush scarlet with white spots, that can squeeze itself into tiny shells or pull debris around it to hide from predators – and all the while sees not with eyes but with sensors on each and every tentacle that can also taste and discern in ways we cannot imagine. Picture yourself this month as an octopus disappearing in a sleek jet of color, leaving only a dark wake. Picture how easy it is to disengage, to not be where they are looking for you, to no longer look like whatever they thought you were. And all the while, as the rush of freedom and flight caress your body, propel yourself toward whatever (or whomever) you most want to take in and absorb and discern properly, with your full attention.


    When does the present become the past? In long periods of relative calm, the present extends gently forward and backward, offering memories like bouquets of spring flowers and hinting at treasures yet to come that also mostly resemble bouquets of spring flowers. After a crisis, though, a violent rupture tears through “before” and “after” and for a long time the present persists in looking only backward, fixated on that “before,” on the rip, and on the possibility of mending the rip so that the present can again stretch gently in all directions. Dearest Virgo, this month asks you to do whatever you must to restore your time continuum, to recover the possibility of a future. Whether your crisis was long ago or so recent that you are still turning over in your sleep to reach out for a missing beloved, whether it was personal or global, whether it is over or still continuing, this is the time for you to gently but firmly turn your vision forward, trusting the past to take care of itself and catch up with you when it can.


    I place before you two sources of illumination: the filament and the diode. In the first, some bright and shiny material becomes incandescent through electricity and maintains its radiance as long as the filament can withstand the pressures of ignition. For a light bulb filament, turning on the light causes much greater stress than leaving it to burn indefinitely. The diode in LED lights, meanwhile, acts as a valve – the electrical impulse moves in one direction only, from one of its terminals to the other. There is no degradation in light for decades, as there are no fragile parts that strike each other and degrade. Yet while the diode offers indefinite illumination, the quality of light it offers can feel harsh and flickering. LEDs are a logical choice for resource consumption, but not for beauty. Dearest Libra, this is a month that promises to illuminate much in your life that you’ve been longing to see and understand. Choose wisely what kind of light you shine on the situation – and remember that reality and ugliness aren’t always the same.


    It can be an effort to remember all the people you are connected to, who love you, who are rooting for you and wanting you to be happy. Especially if you’re largely alone in your daily life right now, immersed in work or school or winter depression, all those ties may feel theoretical or precarious. And yet, there is a force at work this month working to offer you back these friendships and this love as something very near at hand, like a warm blanket you’d reach for in the middle of the night while still mostly asleep. Something easy to find, easy to stretch over you, easy even to forget about as you fall back asleep. Hardly any effort required – except to remember that they are there, and that you deserve warmth.


    The xantis yak is an animal that grants wishes – particularly the wishes of abacederians who are looking for an impressive mammal to fill the “X” slot of illustrated alphabet books. Only in these pages does it appear, looking much like an ordinary yak, or rather much like the first yak to appear in an online image search for all of us who don’t see yaks in our ordinary lives. Call on the xantis yak this month when you’re looking for something that doesn’t yet exist but should – something that ought to be pervasive and ordinary – or something that does exist, but at a heartbreaking distance from our ordinary lives.


    When climbing the central staircase of a vast public library in some bustling metropolis where the libraries stay open all night long, you find on the third floor a room that looks familiar – or rather the books in it all look like books you’ve read once, though the titles are slightly different, and the stone lions guarding the entryway resemble lions you remember from another library or museum in the city of your birth, and even the patrons with carefully parted hair and studious expressions resemble friends you once saw on the periphery of your own inner circle of friends in some earlier decade of your life. Don’t let your joy in rediscovery be diminished by everything being a little different, a little off-center from your memories. Rather, recognize you have a chance right now for a fresh start with as little disruption as possible. Appreciate the very things that are different between what you once knew and what you’re now encountering.


    Alchemist J. D. Mylius’ 1628 text Anatomia Auri helpfully illustrates an alchemical recipe for transforming what is base into something exalted. The steps along the way show all sorts of creatures mingling, canoodling, merging, and dissolving in a glass jar. Some of the pictures are cheerier than others, but in the middle when things are looking sort of dark – a crow begins to putrefy and then its head and soul are separated – Mylius reminds us: “the remaining ash is not to be despised.” Sure enough, from the ash of this dissolved crow arises an elixir known only as “the first degree of perfection” and then more regal looking creatures with puffed out chests and rose trees growing around them. Your assignment this month is not to despise any ash that remains after your metaphorical crows have dissolved into ex-crows. You are closer than you think to peacocks and roses


    What good is science, you may wonder, if it has not yet equipped us with the power to see the full spectrum of light, beyond even infrared and ultraviolet – reaching to the longest and shortest waves imaginable, almost meeting at that point where what we call light begins to shift into sound or something else? Only then will we be able to speak with the whales, or read the sigils they tattoo all over their vast bodies, currently invisible but enticing us with the promise of reading whales like books with no human intermediary to tell us what they ought to mean. Remember, in the midst of your frustration, that intermediaries are everywhere, that mediation itself is inescapable. This is why it’s necessary to imagine what we cannot prove, and to defend the imaginary as its own realm, subject to a different logic. In other words: when you feel trapped this month, draw a door on a blank wall.

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