(This piece was originally published via Patreon November 21, 2021 @ 2:27pm. It's been republished here in its entirety, without edits.)
First, I want to thank y’all for your continued support. I especially want to thank y’all for your extra vocal and positive feedback as of late. It’s been inspiring me and giving me the confidence to explore and experiment with my writing and practice in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
This piece is one of those experiments. Let me know what you think?
The Eroticism of Saturn
The “eroticism of Saturn” is a phrase that I’ve been turning over in my mind for much of the year.
While the initial impetus for thinking that phrase is a person no longer a part of my life, the words have stuck with me like a 90’s earworm. Continually emerging at the oddest moments, highlighting as only strange juxtaposition can, when a tenuous thread of synchronicity has been made available to tug.
My explorations of planetary attunement via evocation took a pretty hard turn into devotion to celestial spirits last year. And the spirits, as they do, seem to have offered up one of those threads for tugging.
Following along the trajectory of “make contact with the planetary spirits” has lead quite naturally to investigating the decans, the lunar mansions, and the many associated daimons. It’s had me thinking a lot about the fundamental importance of polarity in astrology.
Sun and Moon. Malefic and benefic. Greater and lesser. Superior, inferior. Day and night. Above below…
But then there’s always this hidden third anytime there’s two. Day, night and twilight. Sun, Moon and Nodes, or Earth, or you, their viewer. Duality and liminality. Or perhaps, duality and monism. But that’s getting a bit far from my point.
One of the things that I keep circling around is the inter-relationship between the eclipse/nodal cycles and the major outer planet synodic cycles playing out right now and the way it seems to be reiterating the story of the ‘Fall’. The split between humanity and Nature that marks the dominant colonial-capitalist culture.
Concomitant with that perceived separation from Nature is a fear of her. Built into that fear, or perhaps the deepest heart of it, is the fear of death itself.
The Gemini/Sag Nodes were the Mercury/Jupiter polarity. Discreet separate symbols, and everything being everything oneness. Bits and bytes of data vs. wisdom. The liminal between – complex multiplicity. The Taurus/Scorpio Nodes are up next and I think those are asking us questions about the (seeming) difference between our material bodies – incarnate and mortal – and our deeply held sense of self as being more/separate from/greater than “just our bodies” – i.e., as being a soul or some other kind of meta-physical immortal “self”.
Yes, this is where all the polarity = gender thing comes in, too. Or rather why, imho, we ought not throw out gender in astrology, but be exceedingly critical about how/when/where/and why we use that particular lens in our astrological work. An elementary reading of polarity=gender in astrology quickly sheds a lot of light on the roots of misogyny and misogynoir in aforementioned dominant culture comes in.
So, there’s the diurnal/nocturnal split – day vs. night, Sun vs. Moon. But there’s also another split between the two lights and Saturn. Saturn rules the air and earth signs the flank the time of year when the Sun is most southerly.
One of these really tenuous hard to even articulate threads that I’ve been exploring through working with planetary and celestial spirits is this darkness = mystery thing that… I’m probably not supposed to say more about.
…there’s a reason Saturn is connected to silence after all.
Anyway, here’s this the rest (and the original inspiration) of the different kind of writing that I want to share with y’all today.
Eroticism, Death, and Sensuality
I mentioned previously that I’m a patron and supporter of Sasha Ravitch’s work. In her Patreon/discord corner of the interwebs she’s leading a group of us through reading Georges Bataille’s Eroticism: Death and Sensuality. We’ve only just discussed the introduction, and like all books that really hit for me, I find that reading at a slower pace allows time for the world to reflect back to me the new connections made (and possible).
Despite my affinity for absurdity and general existentialist bent, I haven’t actually read much of The French Philosophers(TM). What little I have read has always struck me as… self-evident.
Just like the very first sentence of Eroticism.
“Eroticism, it may be said, is assenting to life up to the point of death,” says Bataille. I immediately felt a resonance with the echoes of this “eroticism of Saturn” thought that’s been with me throughout the year.
In the margin I wrote “Alex Honnold, Free Solo – ascent.” Other scribbles in the margins included “yes, Buddha’s enlightenment, the temptations of Mara, and the sexy ladies turning to corpses,” as well as a reflection on my meditation teacher pointing out that the best case scenario for romantic love is “hoping that your partner will die first so that they never have to experience the suffering of living without you.” Yes, that shit was grim. AF. If you really contemplate it though, in the context of decades plus lifelong partnership, he was right.
So, for those of you who are newer patrons – hello! Welcome! Thank you so much for your support and joining us here in the Starbear’s Den. And, yeah, if you don’t already know, anything that facilitates drawing connections between death, Buddhism, and rock climbing is already impossibly fucking cool in my book.
The Two of Pentacles
This morning, while doing my ‘decan walk’ style reading of T. Susan Chang’s 36 Secrets, the metaphysical connection just made itself apparent.
As I was reading, I stopped to share a thought as it emerged over in the book club channel of Sasha’s Discord. After posting, I realized this might be something that would make sense to share with y’all too, as it relates more broadly to the Taurus/Scorpio nodal cycle and the Eclipses. Which, to be fair, was part of the reason she suggested this book to begin with.
This is the thought I shared this morning:
This isn't a thought about the text per se, but a connection that just jumped out at me as I'm reading the chapter for Sagittarius I / 8 of Wands in 36 Secrets.
On pg. 179 Chang writes about the six minor cards with poor astrological dignity, in reference to the 2 of Pentacles she says that it is has to "act at a great distance, but it provides connection; it provides an upswing out of dark places."
This made me think about continuity/discontinuity, and the 'charge of the erotic' as the awareness of being at a threshold or gateway to the dissolution of the false dichotomy of two, or pathway between the two.
Which I guess does tie back directly to Bataille. In the introduction I scrawled "the eroticism of Saturn" on pg. 24 next to this sentence, "[a]nd then, beyond the intoxication of youth, we achieve the power to look death in the face and to perceive in death the pathway into unknowable and incomprehensible continuity - that path is the secret of eroticism and eroticism alone can reveal it."
As I've been thinking more about this throughout the day, what I want to emphasize about the connection I made between Chang on the minor arcana associated with decan rulers in their detriment and Bataille on the connection between the erotic and death is this: continuity arising out of discontinuity is reflected and accessed through indignity in the chart.
The 2 of Pentacles, which Chang remarked about acting at a great distance, I read as making deliberate choices based on results that are unknowably beyond our reach. That’s Jupiter in Capricorn.
Without the abundance of resources that allow one to forget the potential (grave) consequences of mistakes. Which requires us to act on faith that unknowably distant impacts will be benefitted by our immediate actions.
That’s how we go about making change.
Taken to the extreme we can think about choosing to do anything in spite of the fact that we’re all going to die anyway.
Similarly, I think the other planets in signs of their detriment provide the opportunity to get a taste of continuity arising out of discontinuity.
Mercury in Sagittarius (8 of Wands) approaches the ‘continuity of speech and thought’. Speaking faster than one can think is certainly a metaphor for ‘Swiftness’, the title of this card. Mercury in Sagittarius learns the wield the “venerable and dreadful weapon of the tongue” through the hands-on experience with clarity and confusion. Thus folks with this placement often become exceedingly skillful writers and speakers. Even the occasional word salad ends up being brilliant and informative.
You can run through the same sort of thought process with Venus in Aries (4 of Wands), Jupiter in Gemini (8 of Swords), Venus in Scorpio (7 of Cups), and Venus in Virgo (9 of Pentacles) too.
So basically, I’m thinking – wondering out loud and inviting you to weigh in as well – about the planets in those little pockets where they have some minor dignity within a sign of their detriment or fall, as being planets uniquely suited to dodging false dichotomies. Slipping into the liminal space between the state of experiencing continuity and discontinuity of self.
Venus and Mars will be the rulers of the new nodal cycle and they'll be traveling in tandem for quite a long while to usher the new cycle in. They were the rulers of the luminaries eclipsing off (starting off) the cycle, and their positions perfectly pulled in the ongoing Saturn/Uranus square. Their next conjunction is in Capricorn, a sign ruled by Saturn.
All that to say, I think there's much fruit to be born from exploration of our visceral somatic responses to, and sensual associations with death. Because I think that our taboo and unprocessed feelings about Death prevent us from being able to re-enter right relationship with Nature.
Fear of Death = Fear of Nature. The erotic is "assenting to life up to the point of death." Therefore, on the road to restoring our relationship with Nature (i.e., surviving the dual crises of capitalism and climate desecration), we must enter into healthy partnership with Death.
Thank you, as ever, for sharing your time and day with me, reading all these words. I hope they find and serve you well.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections, however connected they may or may not seem. Feel free to share here or in the patron-only discord (I’m posting a fresh link just after this). <3