I sit here on the morning of what the media are calling the “first Super Blue Blood Moon Trifecta since 1866,” shaking my head a bit at the word they missed–“eclipse.” But then how many types of “first” can you say in tandem before that mouthful reaches the point of the absurd? Perhaps this is it. The sun’s rays poured in through my living room windows at the exact minute the eclipse was total. I’d woken early today in hopes of seeing something of the image even though I knew readers on the West coast–not those of us here in the East–would be blessed with that picture of the century moment.
As I scoured my recent photos, various shots from the cosmos, the arts and other very random pictures, I remembered a perfect sunrise shot locally by a family member on one of the steepest hills leading to the tennis center. The scene pointed to that 1000-word moment one tries to capture with a click.
We’re on the last day of the first month of the new year. If for nothing more than the symbolism, this “Trifecta eclipse” might have only been more perfect had it fallen on New Year’s Day. The blood orange Moon, a rare vision for me, is mesmerizing. I’d seen one in a nearby rural area where one could occasionally catch sight of a deer wandering through the yard some years back. That night, the enormous red-orange globe–like a blood orange–loomed so large before my eyes, I felt like I could nearly reach out and touch it. Thinking back now, I wonder whether my enchantment at such a sight had made the Moon grow in my mind, like the fish that got away, the vision of the perfect (wo)man who just walked by, that almost lottery win…
Some of you might relate this to that Bo Derek “10” fascination. It wouldn’t be even remotely close since Dudley Moore in that movie was at the apparent end of his Life Cycles Crisis transits, around age 42, when he was simply attempting to recapture his youth through this bikini clad beauty with corn roll braids as she ran on the beach. For me, this is captivating in the sense of our breaking through those things we tend to take for granted in our lives, to allow us to see the true magnificence of the cosmos itself with the naked eye. For me, it’s not a matter of my racing halfway around the world to hear the birds and wildlife suddenly go very still and silent as we watch that Sun-Moon conjunction or opposition lasting x number of hours before life returns to whatever one presumes is normal again. My experience with the blood orange Moon might best be described as something I experienced in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala, India each morning, fully aware that I was in India, seeing a lovely clove tree outside the window but hearing what sounded like monks chanting at a monastery I never got to see. One is simply awed by sensation of that moment. Yet if I never get to experience that kind of blood orange Moon again, I’m still richer for my having seen it once or twice before.
We can reflect on this eclipse–especially this “Trifecta” eclipse. I think it’s important. The first of the new year, the opportunity to envision upcoming tomorrows where we can fulfill dreams, wishes, goals… We can also learn from the history we haven’t considered yet because we can experience through the reflection what we may not have thought we needed to learn before. I’d like to think there’s always more to learn through both envisioning and reflecting. Hopefully we gain more understanding in the process. For this reason, I’ve chosen to blend a period of history with this eclipse, not focusing so much on the eclipse itself as I am on a period of history that was over before most–or all–of us were born. (Don’t worry. I’m not ignoring astrology here, I promise.)
I had originally intended to do this article this past weekend because of Holocaust Remembrance, but it’s also relevant to these thoughts of the eclipse so I’ve decided to blend the two through this reflection to the past and the eye to the future. I hope you’ll bear with me.
I grew up hearing tales of the Holocaust from relatives, family friends, my friends’ parents, and from classmates as we shared tales they’d heard. At 10, I read my first book about the Holocaust–The Diary of Anne Frank. At 15, a serious accident left me hospitalized for three months. In that time, I needed to learn to walk again. When I wasn’t in learning and practicing stage of walking again, I also read several books about the Holocaust–tales as horrifying as Spinoza with verbal descriptions of those true-to-life nightmares. Some time after I was discharged from the hospital, one of my older brothers arrived home from where he was stationed in Germany. I remember my mom crying as he showed her photos of Munich and Berlin where she had been years before, when she was in her teens and studying at the music conservatories in preparation for her concert career. These photos now revealed cities still haunted by the ravages of war in the decades before. Blackened buildings on a once tree-lined strasse or two brought back so many memories for her. For me, beyond her tears, I saw Ortonesque views of cities, surrealistic scenes to challenge my understanding at that time.
This film is Robert Desnos’ poem, “J’ai tant rêvé de toi” (I Have Dreamed of You So Much).
Before I go on, I probably should tell you I actually started writing this over a week before the eclipse, but the words weren’t quite there. They brought to mind my creative writing teacher in college. I can’t believe his name keeps slipping back out of mind as I almost grasp it. And yet I can also tell you with a warm smile that my memory of him brings Peter Falk to mind. (Oh yes! I just remembered his name! Funny. Peter Falk wasn’t Italian, but my dear creative writing teacher–and if any of my profs who might read this see these words, they’ll know immediately who I’m thinking of–was Italian. Without my having mentioned Peter Falk, they might not know, but that is a dead giveaway.) I adored this man, my Peter Falk prof, for his demands on me almost as much as I still adore the English prof who has remained a steady force in my mind and heart all this time when I call or write to spend time with him, even when I fall silent and hope he hears me thinking of him. But it was my Peter Falk prof who forced me to move through my writer’s block. The rest of what I would learn in my writing career came from those things we learn in the experience as much as we do in life. That lesson I learned from Stephen King in the only book of his I ever read–On Writing.
Periodically, I still get writer’s’block, and this article is proof of that. But here’s where I want to bring up the reflections of a different kind, the kind encouraging me to write of a man I never met until many years after his death, who has drawn my attention in the last year or two with an equally compelling force not unlike the kind Kahlil Gibran still has in my life. His name is Robert Desnos, the author of the poem above, “J’ai tant révé de toi” – “I Have Dreamed of You So Much.”
If you asked me why Desnos, I’m not even sure I could find the words to do so. But make no mistake, the presence of such a magnetic draw indicates what may be seen as the validity of an unseen point of resonance. This kind of draw is analogous to our recognition of the resonant point in the undecaquartisextile (165°) and its aspect patterns– as real and as palpable and tactile as any other point one can actually see in the astrological chart.
I’m still new in my discovering Robert Desnos and his work now seems like one of those fated or predestined moments making me wonder “Why now?” Even in the most desperate moments, he seemed to have a sense of humor–or at least the stories about him seem to imply he did.
The following, from page 35 of “The Writing Life: The Hopwood Lectures, Fifth Series” edited by Nicholas Delbanco (University of Michigan Press) varies from the version Susan Griffin told apparently third hand from Odette (a writer and Holocaust survivor). Whichever of the two versions one tells, one finds much charm in the one being read at that moment, leaving the reader with a sense of “this one is best” in each!
“French poet Robert Desnos was in Buchenwald; he had been arrested for his activities in the Resistance. The story is that Desnos and all the men in his barracks were marched to a room and told to strip in preparation for being deloused in an adjoining room. They understood what that meant, and Desnos turned to the man next to him and said, ‘I read fortunes. Let me see your palm.’ The man, stoop-shouldered, eyes wet with fear, held up his palm. Desnos looked at it and shook his head. A long life-line, he said, but I see trouble in business down the line and trouble with your daughter. The man, stunned at first, laughed. And others laughed. And soon all the men in the room were standing around naked, laughing, with tears in their eyes, reading one another’s palms. The guards were so disconcerted that they ordered the men to get dressed and marched them back to their barracks. The next day a transfer order came through and many were sent to a work camp and some survived to tell this story. Desnos was not among the survivors. Surrealism began with the idea that freedom of imagination could transform life, and in this instance, if the story is true, it did.”
Now we can look at Robert Desnos’ birth chart after I point to another detail that seems to be sadly missing from Astrodatabank. In her book Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life (University of Nebraska Press, 2003), Katherine Conley writes on page 15 in chapter 1, The Automatic Sibyl as Rrose Sélavy, “Robert Pierre Desnos was born on 4 July 1900 at 6 A.M.” She doesn’t offer a footnote. Ironically perhaps, this time is offered as an Astrodatabank Source Note for the Gauquelin birth time reference while André Breton states “between 6 A.M. and 6:15 A.M.” I initially used the midpoint of Breton’s time for the chart but something still didn’t feel quite right. Normally I’m a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) kind of person with timed charts; but the Returns, when accurate, open a world of information and even validation to me at times. Do I normally use rectified charts? Not really, no. But this one just demanded that I look more closely if at all possible. And why not? I had the date of his arrest by the Gestapo and the date and place of his death as well as the cause. There was enough here to ask John Davenport to test the two times and get his thoughts.
“He died in Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia on June 8, 1945,” I said. “He had typhoid. I even know the date he was arrested now if you want that. He was arrested on February 22, 1944, apparently in Paris since he was a writer for Aujourd’hui [Note to readers: My French studies came in handy, and I remembered “aujourd’hui” – French for “today”] at the time.”
“Go with the earlier time,” John replied after some time. This makes much more sense, and I checked tertiaries also.”
“How interesting! First time I just sensed it, thanks,” I said in reply. “That Jupiter is what tipped me off,” I said. “And in the 6:05 AM [Solar Return] chart, 12th house is rising!
“Certainly, the death chart is the guiding one for me, but then the tertiaries work better for arrest as well,” John answered, giving great additional pointers in validation he always seems to sense might pique my interest. “The natal conjunction with Uranus also shows with transiting Uranus square the progressed ASC, with transit Mercury [lung disease] on the P2 MC [using a quotidian chart for day of death].”
For me, just the element of suspicion–no validation of either Gauquelin’s or Katherine Conley’s use of the 6:00 AM time, and the additional 15 minutes of time in what André Breton had–was enough for me to try to see if I could hone in a bit more closely. I tend to fall shy of calling this a serious rectification. It was too easy for such a label, more like a hunch, and John confirmed that hunch. I didn’t ask John whether he’d call it a rectification or a follow up, but it felt good to me. It seems to have felt the same to him. That was good enough for me.
In all fairness to the various assessments I saw in Astrodatabank in one biographical comment or another, perhaps others will be astrologically concerned about whether or not they can determine Desnos’ sexual gender preferences. I am not. On the other hand, I brought this up since one site indicated he was gay, another pointed to his having a very passionate marital relationship with his wife. In respect to Desnos and those with whom he had any degree of intimacy, such statements would probably have best been left to him instead of to any of us. Truly, who would or should care?! I mean no disrespect to anyone who disagrees with me. I just feel there’s so much of that “us or them” mentality these days, I’d like to value people for who they are as individuals and wish all others could see the beauty in that thought. Whether or not this person or that one appreciates this feeling, I still believe we all belong to the world family.
The chart opens to an Eastern, 4th quadrant dominated chart with a balanced North-South split. It seems to me that Desnos’ 4th quadrant offered what he would have been inclined to show publicly, the image he might have carried as the public face of his career while remaining somehow distinctly separate from the rest of the population in the most private side of his life–who he was beyond the writing, his emotions as they connected to what he was writing without ever revealing the other side of his world. Perhaps it was protective, of course. After all, consider his need for privacy as he worked with the French resistance while focusing on staying alive. And lest you miss it, take note of the out-of-sign opposition of Saturn Rx in Capricorn in opposition to Neptune–and again, we see the Peeling of Life’s Onion. In this case, I remember in what might be an à propos moment of Günter Grass’ use of “peeling of the onion” in an interview. (No, I hadn’t taken it from him, rather I discovered this trivia when Grass died a few years ago. I’ve been saying the Peeling of Life’s Onion at least a decade now. It might even be longer. It suits the description of the emotions connected to such an aspect.)
There is another side to this chart that I don’t ordinarily consider when I see the 4th quadrant rising–the “symbolic journey.” But the chart’s ruler, the Sun, sits in the 12th house as part of a 6-minute partile conjunction to TransPluto. In this case, such a placement makes me wonder whether I’m looking at a two-layer focus to that emphasis. Robert Wilkinson of Aquarius Papers speaks of the Divine Mother, Parvati, and addresses TransPluto in an early article, “Global Spiritual Astrology – Neptune Conjunct Chiron in Aquarius Opposition TransPluto a.k.a. Percephone or Divine Mother Pt. 2,” as “vast redemption of life after a period of darkness or death.” But unlike his article’s focus on a Neptune-Chiron conjunction in opposition to TransPluto, Robert’s description offers me 12th house symbolic insights on the Sun and its conjunction to TransPluto. In the natural zodiacal chart, Pisces makes its home in the 12th house with Jupiter, its traditional ruler, and Neptune, its modern one. I tend to see more clarity in the collective consciousness rather than the delusional lack Robert mentions in the article. For me, this is where the relationship of the 12th house symbolism pulls all of the pieces together in an amazing show of unity via Neptune’s additional 12th house connection through its antiscion at 2 Cancer 42, forming a 1-minute partile conjunction to the 12th house cusp of the Desnos chart.
While the Sun-Venus conjunction forms a square to the Moon (with the Sun as a bridge to both), the Moon and Venus did their own thing in the chart by having a mutual reception. Jupiter and Saturn were also each in their own signs, giving me a sense of Desnos through the heartbeat of the chart: Everything he did, all he responded to and conceived moved through his emotions and sense of love most likely from the spiritual sense. But I’m assuming from that spiritual sense since his Venus falls in the 12th house. From there, he was probably the kind who strove to achieve his finest work in whatever he was doing with a true sense of the nurturing and loving that comes from one’s wanting to make the world a better place through what is often said of his writing–“rich imagery.”
At the Nebraska Press site, a review of Katherine Conley’s Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life begins, “Katharine Conley reevaluates the surrealist movement through the life and works of one of its founders. Desnos was as famous among the surrealists for his independence of mind as for his elaborate “automatic” drawings and his brilliant oral and written performances during the incubational period of the group. He stayed with the official surrealist movement in Paris for only six years but was pivotal during that time in shaping the surrealist notion of “transforming the world” through radical experiments with language and art.”
A second bridge in Desnos’ chart–this one through Mars–reveals both Jupiter and Uranus in opposition to Mars. Most people wouldn’t call Jupiter and Uranus conjunct, and I’d have to think a bit before calling this one a conjunction if it weren’t for the bridge each has from Mars. The chart lends more complexity as well through a 5th house Jupiter and Saturn semisextile (remember, they’re each in their own sign of rulership although Saturn is within orb of a conjunction to the 6th house cusp), resolving in an 11th house intercepted Blooming Undecaquartisextile (UQSXT) at 16 Gemini 27.5. This UQSXT then establishes a 19.5-minute partile conjunction to Pluto at 16 Gemini 47!
Keep in mind that the 11th house, where Pluto is located, is where we not only see friendships, hopes, dreams (as in wishes), but also where we find associations/joint projects among friends or business associates for a common cause. This becomes a critical point to note: While we may see Uranus loosening the earth for Pluto to dig more deeply for the rebuilding of any structure, Jupiter will often interact with Pluto through “run ins” in some way with authorities, including police. During the period in which Desnos worked at the Aujourd’hui journal, we might say he had done some additional work for the Réseau AGIR (the French Résistance) by making false identity papers. It was here that the Gestapo arrested him on February 22, 1944.
Of course such interactions could have been very positive ones. The undecaquartisextile patterns point to highly sensitive points and focus on the areas covered by the houses in which the three points fall. We can assume the interactions will be positive; but ultimately we need to consider the activities of the houses as well as the planets and possible luminaries involved. This particular UQSXT shows Jupiter as the body I would call a bridge between the social (terrestrial) and outer (extraterrestrial, or ET) planets of Saturn and Pluto which should send up some red flags right there. But take note as well that Saturn in this UQSXT pattern also is forming a square to the Moon and could also be said to oppose that Sun/TransPluto opposition in a T-square. In this case, the Moon now becomes the bridge since it squares the Sun and Saturn. The Moon’s 3rd house placement warns us of changing conditions. While I’m looking, of course, at his natal chart, remember we don’t know the time of his arrest. Even if the Moon hadn’t been interacting with any other bodies in the chart by square, it might have formed a square to the Ascendant or the MC at the time of the arrest–and then remember, we haven’t even considered the Solar or Lunar Returns!
We read of times like the Holocaust or even of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India on November 26, 2008 or the public school (some news called it a military academy) in Peshawar, Pakistan on December 16, 2014, and we may mourn the lives lost. Tragically at the second level, most of us couldn’t even name one person who lost his/her life in any of these three events. The same would be true if I added the more recent events in Paris, London, Turkey or any other nation, terrorist or domestic: We might not be able to name any of those who lost their lives.
On January 31, 2018, the “Super Blue Blood Moon [Lunar Eclipse] Trifecta” fell at 11 Leo 37 with the Sun in Desnos’ 7th house and the Moon in his first. This eclipse, combined with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this view of Robert Desnos, a bit of his life and his works, seemed like the perfect time to weave these three together. Desnos couldn’t have created as he did had he been less sensitive than he was, and yet he showed the courage to make his voice heard in his effort to save lives. We all know Anne Frank’s name and Elie Wiesel, Otto Schindler and those whose claim to infamy was their thirst for blood. What better time for us to remember this event than by learning one more name? Perhaps this is something we can all try to do each year–to share just one more name and something about that person so the effort to obliterate their having lived will have failed too.