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.