Being An Artist: 10 Big Little Lessons Just About Anyone Can Benefit From

Photo by CS Sherin, 2017.

CS Sherin, April 25, 2019

I walk the line between environmentalist and artist, fact-checker and mystic, activist and present moment being. I walk the line between critical thinking and faith in things that are unseen. And, the importance of realizing the miraculous within the ordinary and mundane is not lost on me.

“Lunar” by Chandra S Sherin, 1999. Monotype ghost: ink and watercolor.

With so much to navigate with mindfulness and discipline, I was fortunate to have an amazing art mentor at university who walked those same kind of lines, and who walked with me for a time. He took me under his wing, and helped me to mature as an artist and spiritual-seeking being. The most important things I learned from creating art at university remain relevant and core to my passion to this day. These are my ten biggest lessons about being an artist, which I have whittled down to this summarized little list:

  1. Art requires ongoing content. To create we must have: an ongoing impulse and need to create, ideas and perspective, and dedication to return again and again to blank objects (paper/clay/canvas/found object/etc.) and the various stages in between started and finished. If we don’t have these qualities, we will not be able to be an artist.
  2. Make big mistakes, not a lot of little ones. When a mistake is made in a work of art, that mistake must ultimately be embraced as a part of the process and piece. However, we need to dedicate enough energy and focus to doing our best and maintaining an awareness for most possible issues. This is to prevent a work riddled with so many little mistakes that compromise the purpose and effectiveness of the piece. Lots of little mistakes are much harder to track, fix or redeem. A big mistake is much easier to learn from and integrate into a process. A big mistake most often leads to better and more joyful ways to create and work in the long-term. Embrace the big mistakes: work with them and grow from them.
  3. Stick with the piece you are working on. When we draw or paint, for example, we may end up erasing or changing a lot of what was originally intended. Mistakes, layers, and reworked parts are not reasons to abandon a piece. Keep them. The work and layers may not ultimately be visible, yet keeping them creates a palpable energetic history that lives in the piece, as a work of art. It is also a conservation of materials. Instead of abandoning a “messy” piece for a fresh start, value the process and keep the layers as a living history, whenever possible.
  4. Distance, perspective, and time apart are all important. All the stages involved in creating, honing, and resolving a piece can leave us enmeshed…too close to the work to maintain useful objectivity and purpose. If the piece is not resolving and we begin to dislike what we see, it can become absolutely essential to know when to: get up and stand across the room to look at the piece from a distance off and on, turn it upside down and/or sideways to work with it from those angles, and to put it away and take some time away from it — in order to come back a day, week, month, or a year later — to see it with fresh eyes that are more able to appreciate it, know what it needs, or…that it is done, and it is great.
  5. Pay attention to both positive and negative space. It is not enough for us to observe, notice and draw the object or being in front of us. We must see what isn’t there, energy, and the empty space around that object and being as well. Until we recognize negative space and how it rests and moves around objects and beings, something will be missing from our work. This practice facilitates a more disciplined and objective process for still life drawings and paintings. It is also important to move back and forth and up and down throughout the process, rather than focusing on one small area at a time.
  6. Seek balance in completing tasks and challenges. We may give ourselves a challenge, and work so hard on accomplishing it, that what should be easy and straightforward becomes neglected — of poor quality or effort. Spread the effort and quality to every layer and task. Even if one part is daunting, don’t let it take importance away from the rest of the work. Hold every part of the work as valid and important.
  7. Art is necessary. An artist doesn’t create art in order to sell it. Earning money for art is payment for the result and quality. This is not the motivation for the act and practice of art. Artists create art because they must create art. The artists I most respect are the ones who go about their lives, always creating, with or without opportunities for public attention and sales. Selling and displaying art in galleries is not the point of creating. For us, art is necessary — an innate part of self and being — that takes many forms. Art is also necessary for the non-artist: it is therapeutic, enriching, informative, healing, supportive, challenging, and elicits various emotions and new thoughts.
  8. Be honest and kind. When we praise someone for the art they have created, it needs to be because it genuinely impacts us. Being nice is not the same as being kind or honest. We don’t need nice. We need vision, feedback, and perspective. We cannot grow as artists if we are not able to give and receive constructive criticism. Just make sure the constructive criticism is kind and honest. There is no reason to be brutally honest. We don’t need meanness either. Almost any true statement can be said with compassion. When we don’t know enough about art and creating, or the specific genre and medium, then we need to include that in our feedback. Honesty, real feedback, and kindness are all important.
  9. Set out to make something ugly. We need to challenge ourselves to put intense feelings and energy into making art that is ugly. Not only does this release us from crippling patterns of perfectionism, it also releases us from the restrictions of expectation and conformity. In addition, sometimes in seeking to create something truly ugly, we instead create something intriguing and new. Some of our most beautiful work may be inadvertently created by channeling the energy of anger or grief. While aesthetics, symmetry, and pleasing creations can and do have importance, it can be more important to leave all that at the door, in order to allow our emotions and raw energy to create without restriction. This can lead to hidden doorways of creation: new approaches and techniques.
  10. Consider context and need. This is a broad topic, but I will summarize three main aspects. One, there is always context, meaning, and need to be found as model and inspiration in Nature — no matter what medium or genre we work in. Two, we need to consider how our materials, use, and waste affect our health, collective health, and Nature — and adjust what we are doing, as much as we are able. There may be no ideal solutions, but some choices are better than others. Three, consider saturation level for the topic and genre. Do we really need to create another version of something that has been made over and over for decades or centuries? We must ask ourselves: do I have something different, unique, valuable to say? Is this practice? Is this something bigger? What is the intention? Is there a need for it?

This article is dedicated in loving memory of Peter Fletcher.

CS Sherin, Wild Clover | WildClover.org 2019©

Moodbooster: A Tidy Mouse And NZ Haka Dances

CS Sherin, March 20, 2019

Happy Spring Equinox to the northern hemisphere today! And, happy International Happiness Day!

This is a time to plant and nurture new seeds of hope, love, and goodness. I can help with that, and would love to work with you. Go to this page to learn more. 🙂

To celebrate today, I have two stories to share with you, that give me big feelings of love, hope, and goodness. I hope they cheer you as they do me.

First up, an extraordinary story from the UK (South Gloucester, to be exact) in a little garden shed. A retired man, Stephen Mckears, had a real mystery going on in that garden shed. He left tools out, and when he would come back to the shed, the tools would be put away in a nearby box. He started to think he had a poltergeist! Then, he set up a camera to film whatever was happening. It couldn’t be more surprising and delightful! Here is a link to the full story. Enjoy, and then come back for the next one. 🙂

Next, is the video showing students and bikers all over New Zealand performing Haka, a Maori ritual that expresses many different things (love, respect, grief) for many different occasions like, funerals, weddings and other major events. The video coverage of the Haka, shows the unity of bikers who are usually divided, and students all coming together to show respect for those massacred in the mosques. I have watched this footage over and over, and each time it gives me a true feeling of the power of love and respect — beyond words. This is the sort of strength and unity we need right now.

New Zealand students honor shooting victims with Haka dances, via PBS on YouTube, March 18, 2019


Navigating In And Between Worlds This Month

Astro Mood: Foggy And Mystical

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

CS Sherin, March 7, 2019, updated 04.10.2019

Right now the Sun and Neptune are as one in the sign of Pisces. It is Pisces season for sure. At the same time, Mercury is also in Pisces, and will be in retrograde mode until the 28th of March. This combination of big influences in the territory of Pisces and Neptune symbolism has an affect on all of us this month. So, let’s break this down into parts that are easier to digest. We’ll start with the sign of Pisces, then Neptune, and then how Mercury re-mixes it all. Then, I will give you some friendly advice.

It doesn’t matter if your Sun, Moon, or Rising signs are in Pisces or not. We all have all of the signs and planets somewhere in our birth charts. Collectively, we all deal with these energies and influences.

Pisces Energy

The sign of Pisces is symbolized by two groovy fish swimming in opposite directions, swimming along, letting go and moving on. Often, our greatest talents are the metaphorical “double-edged sword”. This means that what we are best at can also be the source of our greatest weakness and blind-spot(s).

Gentle, paradoxical Pisces is able to harmonize and swim with ease between worlds — even between those with conflicting purposes and ways of being. This is an ongoing gift and growing edge for Pisces. Pisces can become adept at utilizing the insight, creative skills, and knowing they bring back with them from deep journeying into the imagination and sacred dream realms. At the same time, they are mostly able to find ways to work in the mundane world in efficient, routine, and practical ways. They seek to be of real use and service to humanity, and to uplift their fellow beings (human and other living beings — they don’t discriminate). This is an immense talent. Pisces energy fills the following archetypal roles naturally: healer/shaman/psychic, teacher, priest/ess, musician, artist, magician, and rebel-champion for the underdogs.

The challenge and weaknesses, the other side of the Pisces gifts are clear: both porous and poor personal and psychic boundaries — which often lead to unhealthy relationships patterns — internally harsh self-punishment, and martyrdom. There is also the habitual reaction to escape painful and harsh realities via escapism: fantasy, drama, and any and every kind of addiction. Side effects may include a tendency towards self-pity, depression, and going to extremes when trying to find balance. In addition to this, when the Pisces energy has trouble balancing and navigating between non-ordinary and ordinary realities, they will also find that they become more easily confused, disorganized, and display confusing behavior towards others.

After looking at the main gifts, strengths, potential, and pitfalls of Pisces energy, it is important to also grasp the general qualities of this symbolic Zodiac sign: claircognizance, versatility, and emotional fluidity that changes often — carrying a huge range, from impossibly shallow to the deepest of depths — ebb and flow, finding and letting go. A Pisces is potentially courageous too, with an innate instinct and desire to help, heal, inspire, explore realities, affect realities, and create.

Pisces is mutable in approach — a yin energy, and water element. This means that Pisces, the psychedelic and practical fishes, are: flexible, adaptable, and compromise (to a fault). The qualities of yin and water make them: indirect, passive, receptive, secretive, intuitive, sensitive, empathic, creative, humorous, efficient, and seemingly irrational and subjective.

Pisces wants to deal with what is hidden and unseen by most everyone, and they don’t need to talk about it. They want to be of service to others without a need to be in the spotlight (even though they naturally do get the spotlight due to their talents). The big-hearted zaniness, humor, and passion of a Pisces is enchanting, despite their maddening self-sabotage that can creep in from time to time.

Neptune Energy

Neptune rules Pisces, and so, some of their main qualities are shared. Neptune is an outer planet, and so spends time in one Zodiac sign for the long-term, for years. Any interpretation of Neptune and other outer planets (like Pluto) in a birth chart needs to take into account that, no matter how big their influences are, the process is deep and over a long period of time. Neptune is in Pisces until around 2025, and has been there since 2012.
The symbolic and archetypal themes and influences of Neptune have a wide spectrum and different octaves — from inspiring to nefarious. Since we have a wide range of diversity among humans, in regards to ethics, values, qualities, personality, and choice — so too is there a wide range of possibility in each planet and signs symbolic meaning, patterns, cycles, and dynamics.

Neptune’s symbolic strengths reflect a choice and ability for: endless, enduring holistic altruistic thought. This occurs most often as creativity, invention, expression, and actions — in the realm of: art, music, dreams, sound, vision, ethics, spirituality, other realities, and energy. Neptune archetypes may include: the mystic, ascended being, genius, priest/ess, transformation, transfiguration, visionary, shaman/healer, transcendent/empowering music, art, creativity, spiritual care and modalities of energy work. It also includes values and actions that are inclusive and based on equality/equity — transcending duality, reactivity, and polarization.

Neptune’s shadow or blind-spots and weaknesses include: fanaticism, dogma, negative/predatory/parasitic cult-type behaviors and leadership, addiction/drug abuse, deception/con, illusion, confusion/mental fog, manipulation, and becoming stuck — in illusion, deception, manipulation, wounds, and/or confusion. Neptune is one of the giant gas planets. Gases can be far-out groovy, toxic, life-giving, stinky, light, or heavy. It’s all there.

The potential is great over this stretch of time from now into 2025. Yet, the dangers we face are clear as well. Much is on the line. Much is in crises. And the deceptions and illusions have been revealing themselves at great length for some time. Yet something more and better is going on than it seems. The unseen matters. Pisces and Neptune energies do need containers, grounding, and light in order to be made tangible for us. We need to deal with these energies and influences in ways that use equal parts common sense, logic, and intuitive creativity. Otherwise what needs to be built upon will get lost and forgotten.

What is not to be missed here is the impact the Mercury retrograde of this month has on this Pisces/Neptune energy, given a spotlight by the Sun.

Mercury Retrograde
With Pisces/Neptune Vibes

Mercury retrograde is usually a time to expect the unexpected, to prepare for obstacles, delays, roadblocks, and inconveniences. When we accept, and even expect and make time for, possible issues/problems/delays, we create an energy of adaptability that plays well with the Universe’s ebbs and flows. The Universe likes us to be specific about what we want, but it also wants us to be loose and flexible with how things may happen (not according to our plans). Welcoming a delay or perceived problem as an opportunity for new awareness and opportunities may seem radical or weird, but it is true wisdom that gains respect from the Universe at large.

Usually mercury retrogrades are not times to begin something completely and utterly new, or to sign contracts that are completely new and unexpected. It is not usually a time to get a new contractor, seek a new service, or find a new doctor. Yet, life isn’t neat and tidy, and we can’t live our lives dictated by the symbolic and archetypal information from astrology. So, what I have found is that when we must engage in and trust something completely new during a mercury retrograde, it is helpful to accept and prepare for anything and everything going wrong. When it doesn’t, we can be jubilant and thankful. When it does, we can be relaxed and open to inspiration, having prepared for the unknown and unforeseen best we could.

However, this mercury retrograde (March 5th — March 28 2019) isn’t quite a usual one. This Neptune/Pisces influence defines it, and it will last until the end of this month. A lot can happen in a month. Since the flavor of this month is deep, tender, magical, and paradoxical Pisces — as well as, the vast and confusing mystical potentials of Neptune — we are in for a lot of inner emotional, psychic, creative, and spiritual content that keeps changing and fluxing about. Don’t believe everything you think, hear, or see this month. And don’t forget it either.

No matter how much self-work you have done, if you are not dealing with and facing your inner pain, passions, longings, dreams, and activated wounds — Neptune working with Mercury in retrograde will get you — they will get the better of you. It has already started.

A virtual Neptune fog is in place right now, set to place us all on a mystical journey that will be ample in emotional ups and downs, illusions, delusions, inspirations, and the promise of healing and transformation — if we don’t get stuck. The kick to it is that, the fog makes everything confusing and confused. Things are not what they seem, and what you think and feel one minute may be contradicted by your own self in the next. Be sure to ask for help when you need it, and take breaks from whatever is really intense. Balance the ordinary with the non-ordinary as needed.

When we cannot handle all the pain and harsh reality of this broken world, we may seek to escape a bit, and maybe we even do it productively and constructively. That is impressive.

Maybe we know how to honor and respect our dreams, inner worlds, and sacred imagination. Perhaps we know how to balance the two worlds. Yet, what we are processing collectively is too much — for one generation or two to process, let alone an individual. So, the call is to face our own inner wounds that are activated right now, and apply all the reasonable and wise self-care we can to it. Even while we feel confused, dizzy, cloudy, and spun about — know that the mist of this fog will disperse and lessen. But for a time, this month, we will all get a bit lost.

Photo by Goran Vučićević on Unsplash

Lost, wandering, and confused are all real locations, and even religious-type experiences. Watch out for the cult-like responses to it though — that trap of becoming addict to the spiritual highs, and master of the power that comes with it — without ethics or care.

Better to apply the medicine of nature, water, breath, creativity, friendship, and healthy boundaries to all and everything.

Remember to treat water, in particular, with great care, respect, and honor. Consider water as our true/symbolic self and true god at this time. How are we treating, interacting with, using, caring for it? Water is essential to Pisces. Water is life. Pisces needs baths, showers, drinks of water to regenerate. At the same time, water is at the center of many of our crises environmentally, and related to class and privilege. Something to sit with, and see what messages from other worlds and in between worlds that may arise this month.

Needless to say, this is a special time to tend to our dreams, keep a dream journal, create and respond to what our dreaming selves are doing.

The Gift Of Perspective

An Artist’s View On Perspective, Astronomy, And Astrology

The Most Crowded Place In Our Galaxy (The Milky Way). Arches Cluster in the constellation of Sagittarius. Credit: NASA/ESA 2015

Please take a moment to do the following before reading further:

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, drawing the breath from below and around your belly button.
  • Hold the breath in for a couple seconds.
  • Then, release it slowly through your mouth like an audible sigh.
  • Now, smile. Yes, even if you don’t feel like it, and it feels kind of fake. Smile, and then release any tension you are holding in your body with another belly breath in and out.
  • Take one more deep breath, in and out, in the same way. Then, smile again.

Now, consider this. You are here:

  • You are an inhabitant on the planet Earth, also known as: “The Good Goddess”, “Gaea”, and Terra Mater
  • The Good Goddess: Terra Mater, is the 3rd planet from her (relatively young) Sun, which is known as: Sol or Helios
  • Our Helios solar system orbits the galactic center of our slightly warped barred spiral galaxy, which is called: The Milky Way
  • We are within the minor Orion “spur” (near the Sagittarius and Perseus major arms) of the Milky Way
  • Our solar system is estimated to be one of 10 – 100 billion solar systems in our Milky Way galaxy. 
  • Astronomers now estimate that there are at least 100-200 billion observable galaxies in the Universe.
  • At the galactic center is Sagittarius A, which is near the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius.
  • Sagittarius A Star, in the Sagittarius A area, is a newly discovered radio source, and is also near the location of what is believed to be a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.
  • The first photograph of a supermassive black hole was shared on April 10th, 2019. This black hole was taken from a neighboring galaxy to Sag A*, M87. Messier 87 is further away, but larger than the supermassive black hole in Sag A*.
Artistic rendition of the Milky Way galaxy, created Sept. 12, 2013.
NASA_JPL-Caltech/R.Hurt

It is still a mystery what the true nature of our universe is…

It is important to keep in mind, that the Earth itself is invisible within scale of size compared to some of the universe’s most gargantuan heavenly bodies.  If the Earth is invisible in scale to some heavenly bodies, what does that make us? What is beyond invisible?

Yet, we are present and in relationship with all that is. This is amazing and good to orient ourselves in this way, beyond the mundane, while remaining rooted in facts of reality, as we know them so far!

This is what we call perspective on the grand scale…thanks to astronomy.

About Perspective

Perspective is personal and subjective.  And it can change suddenly, with a new experience, new thought, and by getting distance from things we have become too mired in.

As an artist, I find that when I work on a piece, sometimes I become too close to it, and lose perspective — much like a teenager focusing too much on one feature — losing all perspective on actual proportion and objectivity. 

Often, I need to walk away from a piece of art I am working on, stand at a distance, look at it upside down, and even put it away for a while in order to see it with fresh eyes, and as it really is. When I do that, then I can appreciate it, and know what it needs, or that it is done.

Differing perspectives can grant us new glimpses of reality that we hadn’t considered. This can actually shift our mindset and cycle of thoughts and habits for good. Perspective can give us  space  to breathe, imagine, and create anew. 

Perspective can release undue pressures, and refocus our attention on facts of core, maybe overlooked, importance. If you did the breathing and smiling exercise at the beginning, and then read the astronomy “you are here” facts, did that change your mood and perspective in any way?

Our minds too often fixate and replay old thoughts and stories without taking in enough of what is happening, what is real now, and the scale of our experience across the dimensions of time and space. Breaking out of those confines means opening ourselves to new thoughts and points of view, literally, figuratively, and through movement, like travel.

Myth, Mysticism, and Symbolism

While astronomy is able to give us that amazing perspective on the grand scale, as demonstrated at the beginning of this article, astrology accomplishes this as well, only in different ways.

Symbolism and mythology are, and have always been, a basic foundation in all schools, cultures, eras, and approaches of astrology worldwide. It has also always been a way to frame the spiritual and mystical with symbolic interpretations of our life experience on Earth from our viewpoint “below” that reflects some of the “above”.

The deeper meaning found in astrology asserts that we matter, and have a right — a place (birthright) in the scheme of things in this galaxy — whether we have power, wealth, recognition, privilege, or anything else or not.  This is fertile ground for symbolic and archetypal self-exploration (the microcosm reflecting a macrocosm) and mysticism.

Zodiac Anatomy. Art by: Limbourg brothers circa 1411/1416, US-PD.

The 12 Zodiac Signs

The twelve zodiac signs, used in western astrology charts, are largely rooted in names and stories that come from Greek, Roman, and even Babylonian and Egyptian mythology and symbols.

The western zodiac signs are symbols based on the zodiac constellations, yet they are not the same thing. The zodiac was documented by ancient astronomers, many of whom were also astrologers at the time. Astronomy has since moved well beyond the twelve signs used in astrology.

It is important to understand this: astrological signs aren’t astronomy’s constellations. The constellations are numerous, vast, and literal. The astrological zodiac signs are symbolic, limited to twelve, and are related to our point of view from Earth. Astrology’s signs aren’t real in the astronomical sense. They are symbols created by math and the Sun’s relationship to the Earth throughout a year’s time — something called the ecliptic. The astrological zodiac is an area in the sky that is seen from our, on the ground, point of view.  Astrology is personal and symbolic. Yet, that doesn’t limit the depth and relevance of this esoteric tool.

The Astrological Birth Chart

The birth (natal) chart is the foundation for most every kind of personal report in astrology. The astrological birth chart is an imprint of us, our total life here, from the vantage point of our geographical placement (latitude and longitude) and time of birth entry on this planet, and again, in relationship to some of the main heavenly bodies in our little solar system neighborhood.

The birth chart contains personal potentials in the many areas of life — from the deep and shallow, daily and routine, to the mystical and esoteric. The planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies used in astrology are utilized as symbols that enrich our point of view, and help us to gain new perspective about ourselves and our possible life trajectories.

In addition to the 12 zodiac signs, western astrology uses:

  • Mythology and mythological archetypes
  • Symbols: elements (earth, air, fire, water), modes of dealing with change and collaboration (fixed, mutable, cardinal), and yin or yang energy
  • Aspects, which are dynamics of energy, based on degrees of relationship between heavenly bodies and our time and place of birth
  • Ancient to modern methods/calculations based on the heavenly bodies’ relation to when and where an individual (or other event) is born on Earth, down to minutes, latitude and longitude  

The birth chart itself:

  • The chart is a mandala (circle) that is divided into 12 sections, called houses, which represent different areas of life, from the personal and private to the public and transpersonal
  • The calculation of the astrological birth chart is the basis for all other calculations and reports made in astrology
  • The birth chart is relevant for the individual’s lifetime, and covers nearly every important area of life with some surprising detail
  • The birth chart encompasses a lifetime, therefore time is represented (past, present, potential future), yet it is also timeless — filled with spectrums of layered potentials, strengths, and challenges

Astrology is an incredible timely, yet timeless tool, which can illuminate many things, including: influences, patterns, cycles, inheritances, and dynamics in our now, in our past, and even our potential future. The main heavenly bodies in our solar system, in western astrology, represent qualities of personality, lessons, patterns, cycles of energy, phases, and time, as well as dynamics and tendencies related to myth-inspired archetypes.

For the astrologer, the planets and other heavenly bodies of focus (asteroids and mystical points, for example) amazingly mirror our inner and outer realities in perplexing, yet accurate ways. The tool is complex and layered.

In looking at only one or two aspects of a birth chart, like the Sun sign, Rising (ascendant) sign or Moon, the big picture is missed, and  key facts may be missed or misinterpreted. This is most often due to other areas of the chart that are more dominant. This can significantly change an interpretation and understanding. For example, I had a client that was an earth Sun sign, but never felt it was accurate or applied to her. It wasn’t obvious in the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, but she was actually predominantly a water person, with all of her other planets in water signs. When I explained her natal chart to her in a consultation, she found relief and happiness in hearing, finally, aspects of her own experience mirrored accurately for her in the astrological interpretation.

Experiencing the in-depth interpretation of a birth chart is an esoteric and mystifying perspective, and so interesting to experience and share.

No belief required.

Astrology is an esoteric spiritual tool that can provide pivotal and helpful insights, which come from interpretations of symbols in relationship to each other that are based on astronomy, mythology, and earth-based symbols, patterns, and cycles.

We do not need to believe in astrology in order for it to be useful and real. It is just like how we have no need to believe in a paint brush, a wrench, or in clay in order to use and benefit from any of them…just like we do not need to believe in meditation in order to practice it and benefit from it.

Astronomy VS Astrology?
How About A Holistic Vision Of Both/And

Instead of lumping astronomy and astrology together, and instead of comparing them as competing practices, I find that it is much more reasonable and fulfilling to abandon the either/or approach in favor of a more holistic both/and approach to different disciplines, and ways of seeing and interpreting things.

Astronomy is a scientific discipline that gathers and develops information, research, evidence, discoveries, theories, and facts about our physical existence on Earth, in this solar system, galaxy, and universe. All of the information and exploration, as well as the images, and growing knowledge about the true nature of our universe is the result of a legacy from ancient astronomers that evolved into what modern astronomers and scientists now provide. It is captivating and inspiring to learn about and explore. Astronomy is fascinating and inspiring. It certainly has the power to lift us up into breathtaking and mind-boggling new perspectives. We need that!

And, despite the adversarial and dismissive tone taken by some scientists and astronomers about astrology, astrology also remains strong and relevant. They may call astrology a pseudoscience or placebo all they want, if that is what they need to do in order to distance themselves from astrology and assert their specialized authority.  However, this doesn’t change the fact that astronomy can and does enrich the ancient and vast traditions of astrology, yet…it can never replace it.

As someone who has overcome great odds with the help of creative and spiritual tools and techniques, I understand the importance of spiritual practices — meaning, ritual, and the rich sacred value of symbolism, intuition, and imagination.

There is also great value found in ethical science, logic, and critical thinking.  I refuse to abandon either one. We don’t have to.

A holistic approach and vision means that science and spirituality don’t have to agree, speak the same, or see the same…AND neither one can, or needs to, replace the other. They are individual, loosely related, and part of a whole — which is much bigger than either one.

Most of us need some sort of deeper meaning and context in order to enrich our lives, and experience fulfillment — we often don’t limit that deeper meaning and context to one discipline, genre, or perspective.

Our intelligence (emotional and intellectual), and our spirit (energy and consciousness) thrive when we are able to place meaning, and a deeper sense of purpose into the fabric of our lives — while also addressing, in real ways, what is broken, what needs to be faced, and what needs to be encouraged — in order to begin or continue healing. Partly, this often involves weaving many different aspects, disciplines, and points of view together. We are well within our rights to synthesize and adapt what we see, learn, and know. Our ability to work with symbols, mystical aspects of life, and apply deeper meaning within scientific claims and discoveries is a part of our unique perspective and being as humans.

Free Will, Fate, And Improvisation

As human beings, we have free will, choice, action, instinct, common sense, intuition and presence. This is despite qualities and energies that seem to be or are, in some sense, fated or fixed. We are not bound by fate entirely, in life or in astrology — even though there are some fixed dynamics in life and personality in some ways. 

For the most part, l i f e is an improvisational dance…unpredictable and changeable.

Maybe what is really needed, is to discipline our thoughts and emotions; practice awareness, and exercise our sacred imagination for collective and personal benefit and enrichment. If this is true, it is good news, as long as we are willing to face and take responsibility for our shortcomings, continue learning, growing, and respond and act on the information we are given in the best ways possible — unique to each of us. That means looking at our blind-spots, wounds, and shadow qualities as much as our gifts, talents, and amazing potential.

This also means doing the work we are meant to do seriously and earnestly. Still, it is important to not take ourselves or each other too seriously! Good humor is essential. 

Good humor helps us to endure challenges and hardships, maintaining sanity and balance. The best comedians illuminate what is wrong in a way that awakens and frees us, via real heart, mind, and belly laughter. The best comedians touch on truths that jolt us into really and joyfully seeing how weird we and life are, and the dysfunctions that we deal with in our culture. Good humor relieves some of the pressure points of pain, and gives us space to breathe and clarity to see, process, and address it anew. Any discipline, from the scientific to the mystical, can benefit from maintaining humor.

An Ancient, Diverse Legacy

The history and use of astrology in conjunction with astronomy has been going on since ancient times.  Astronomy and Astrology were one in ancient times  —  identical twins, in a way  —  who later parted ways (circa 1400–1700).  Astrological tradition has continued in different ways throughout history and around the world:  Egyptian, Hellenistic, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Indigenous, and Renaissance Europe.  Each had and has their approach and system/rules for calculations, perspective, and symbolism.  Many are complex and layered.

Byzantine Mosaic Of The Zodiac Wheel. PD

There are esoteric, evolutionary, humanist, classic, modern, ancient, many Indigenious systems and schools of thought. There is the Heliocentric (Sun-centered, using Sidereal zodiac) or Geocentric (Earth-centered, using Tropical zodiac) differing ways to calculate houses, varying degrees for orbs, and more . There are countless origins, approaches, technical details, and facets to astrology.

For example, one school of astrology is Jyotisha, also known as Hindu (Indian) astrology. In more recent history, the Western world calls it Vedic astrology. Hindu beliefs about karma influence Hindu astrology. Also, Hindu astrology uses the Sidereal zodiac. In contrast, Western astrology usually uses the Tropical zodiac.

In ancient times, astronomy and astrology were most often united, rather than separate. Religion and mythology were integrated with the mathematical calculations and observations related to the night sky.

Here is a general and rough estimate of a timeline for some ancient astronomy-astrology origins:

  • Indigenous worldwide (ancient BC)*
  • Mesopotamian/Sumerian (6000-4500 BC)
  • African (3900 BC)
  • Irish (3200-2900 BC)
  • Babylonian/Chaldean (3200 BC)
  • Egyptian (3000 BC)
  • Indian (2000 BC)
  • Mayan (2000 BC)
  • Chinese (1500 BC)
  • Greek (700 BC)
  • Hellenistic (525 BC) Egypt: conquered by Persians, Mesopotamian influence
  • (332 BC) Greek/Roman: Alexander the Great, Greek influence mixed with Babylonian (“Chaldean wisdom”), Horoscopic, and Egyptian
  • Ptolemy (140 AD)
  • Aztec (1300 AD)

*Western history has no firm dates for Indigenous star knowledge and teachings, yet there is an established legacy among Nations and tribes around the world, that belong in ancient BC, before or like — the estimated Sumerian, African, and Irish astronomy origin dates.

The countless approaches in astrology differ greatly, even within one system. There are different calculations within and between systems, different orientation (earth-centric or sun-centric), different symbols, and different philosophies.

Astrology has ancient roots globally, and it endures. The global longevity, with room for different viewpoints, methods, new discoveries, adaptations, and approaches, is evidence of its ongoing usefulness as a tool for personal development that seeks to be aware of being present in the universe, connected to universal qualities, cycles, patterns, and potentials.

However each of us gains new and expansive perspective, it is a gift that aids in our enrichment, well-being, and development. The sky is the most expansive physical reality we experience in this life. Becoming curious and interested in the many ways we can nourish our lives in relationship to it, the better!

A Greener Life Event, Hosted by the Coulee Region Sierra Club

If you are looking for an event in the New Year to get some inspiration and support with like-minded people who care about the Earth, Nature, and the health of our communities — the event I am presenting for on Tuesday, Feb. 5th could be just the thing!

This event was rescheduled due to the polar vortex in January. Below is the current information.

The Greener Life with CS Sherin

Feb 5th, 2019
7 pm – 8:30 pm 

Location: Ho-Chunk Nation, Three Rivers House (724 Main St. in La Crosse, WI)
Hosted by: Coulee Region Sierra Club

Description: Explore a holistic approach to sustainable living with Chandra (CS) Sherin, author of “Recipe For A Green Life”. We will address some of the most pressing issues of our time that impact our environment, habitats, wildlife, resources, and collective health. We will learn about the importance of a holistic approach to sustainable living, and the positive impact we can have through our daily habits, choices, and do-it-yourself recipes. We will discover and discuss the most effective sustainable living choices we can make, at home and with our families. ~ Coulee Region Sierra Club

RSVP this event on Facebook 

 

Visit the official Recipe For A Green Life blog