The Language of Music – The Language of Astrology, Part 1
(I wrote Part 1, this one, last night, October 31, and Part 2 tonight. But let’s start with Part 1, and you can consider these perspectives before I add Part 2 tomorrow.)
Tonight, I listened to guitarist Susmit Sen, founder of the musical group Indian Ocean, and now working in Susmit Sen Chronicles and The Big Band Theory, giving a talk at TEDxKnowledgeCity. I love his music and would love to have his chart, but that’s not the focus of this article. The subject of the article–breaking boundaries–inspired what I’m writing now, thanks to his taking time to transition through different kinds of boundaries set in our lives and making the comparisons to the language of music. The segue was brilliant. For starters, it brought to mind a small group to which a few of us astrologers belong on Facebook. It’s about the same thing I’m addressing here.
“We as human beings have the knack of creating these boundaries in our minds out of nothing. We create boundaries out of knowledge. Knowledge is something that’s supposed to give you wisdom; but once a person gets knowledge, the person says, ‘Don’t tell me. I know. You do not know.’ For me, knowledge is something which is something finite because whatever you know is something finite in your mind. And the knowledge that is there in the universe to get is infinite. So anything divided by infinity is zero. So what are you really proud about? So why are you forming these boundaries? You know, language becomes a boundary in various, different ways. And different kinds of boundaries manifest themselves in language,” Sen said. Breaking boundaries through music: Sushmit Sen at TEDxLBSIM
This paragraph set the stage for my thoughts taking off from here. Yes, different kinds of boundaries do manifest in language. Susmit, as my mother did, as I still do, as any musician does, challenges and tests boundaries–or the lack thereof–through music and how it will be written, developed and even interpreted.
Every composer, every musician will interpret the music just a bit differently in some way. An additional trill, an innuendo one can hear in the ways the musician achieves those perfect moments of crescendo and decrescendo, the pitch perfectly hit on the strings whether on the instrument itself or with the vocal cords, the harmony perfectly placed in sync with the other instruments and voices performing at the same time. I suspect even the animal kingdom does something along the same lines. I hear rhythm in rain, and even that often makes music to me. It’s an altogether different sound than the silence one hears in snowfall on a winter’s night. I think what makes the difference lies in the beat we hear inside.
And it comes across to the audience who will either get it and love it, or cringe at each note until it’s done especially with the likes of some composers I wouldn’t dream of subjecting you to! Susmit Sen creates a sound that simply resonates with me so I listen for the new sounds whenever he shares another piece he’s done.
The language of music…
Sometimes, the language of music, as Susmit noted in his talk, depends on the dialect or even the accent, I suppose, just as it does in the styles of play. I was searching again tonight for a favorite piece my mom, a concert pianist, played for me when I was 3. It’s one of the few things I remember of my childhood, actually; but this is a very special one.
I called it “the Butterfly,” not knowing the name of the piece back then. I wouldn’t have remembered at that age anyway, of course, and I doubt even Chopin would have known it as “the Butterfly” either. But the nickname stuck because the melody clearly allows the butterfly to dance and frolic in the garden from flower to flower on a sunny day as a happy punctuation mark in an otherwise ordinary period of time.
While the person who posted this one seems to think it’s called “Butterfly Wings,” I’ve never heard that name before, but that’s what speaks to him/her, I suppose. I’ve chosen this one, however, because it closely resembles my mother’s touch on the keys–or rather the familiar sound now in my memories of what I heard as a child and through the years I still had her in my adult life. F. Chopin : Etude op. 25 n°9 in G flat major
I listen to these Western classical styles now and clearly recognize the sounds of my own tendency to favor the works of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky in terms of the various influences peeking through the notes and remember my mother urging me to lighten the touch, that I didn’t need to “pound” the keys as I first did in attempting to recreate what I heard from some musicians. But alas, it was their language that enabled them to pound the keys. It wasn’t the language I spoke either.
Astrology also has its own language. Those of us who work with it daily, whose work centers on this as a career as much as it is a pursuit of perfection even when we can’t possibly achieve perfection because there will always be something missing, a point we could have, should have seen and noted, an angle, a nuance in the patterns the individual chart we’re in the midst of analyzing and interpreting takes on.
And perhaps this is what those who work with the multitudes of asteroids (last I heard, now numbering about 18000) have been trying to say to those of us who don’t work with them. It’s their own effort to achieve that moment of perfection, that point we just know we’ve needed to reach and have managed to find it as surely as one seeks the Fountain of Youth or the Alchemist’s precise formula for creating gold, just as the astrologer who works with Fixed Stars or any other techniques finds to be the case for them.
That’s the thing about astrology: it is a language. Remember when you once thought astrology was just when your birthday was because that meant you were whatever sign you were? And the more you read, the more it started to hit you a bit like osmosis (isn’t that how we learn to talk as babies even? “Mama,” “Dada,” “baba…”). That precise moment may be as vague for you as it was for me. I honestly don’t remember when it happened. But with that in mind, listen to the difference in sounds from Walter Kaufmann who had escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1934 and headed to India as a Jewish refugee. Scroll magazine wrote a marvelous article about him, in fact. Kaufmann eventually composed the All India Radio Caller tune. His music carries the distinct flavor of Jewish melodies interwoven with Indian music, and the effect is magical, marvelous, and downright mystical.
Like the musician, one cannot simply pick up the instrument and language of astrology any more than we can a musical instrument without learning to play it, without hearing the nuances in our own minds or, equally important, in the core of our being that simply resonates with what we’re doing enough to make that magic. Now please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about “bending the powers that be to make things happen in our way.” I’m talking about that magic that comes from inside you, when it just feels right to put a crisper interpretation, a more subtle sound, a slight embellishment without prevarication rather just making it clearly your own, the staccato of the bow across the strings at the perfect moment, the schmaltz–chicken fat–added to that passion spot in the next passage…that something that makes what you’re doing come alive with clarity and freshness.
That is the language of astrology too.
The language of astrology sets us apart as distinct individuals with these same inflections in our voices, just as Susmit Sen notes about the grating “FRIES” in the voice of a person at a fast food stop in an American airport. We seek to be unique in our careers, a total turn around from when we’re in our childhood, praying we’re like everyone else so we fit in. Now, better that we stand out for the intrinsic value we can offer to the person who appreciates the art whether music, writing, painting, sketches, tattoos, skateboarding, composition, movies…or even astrology.
Some astrologers talk about their own charts in their efforts to teach. Others don’t. Some work an hour, two, even four hours before a reading with a client. I can’t imagine it! I want to allow the flow to happen when I’m in the session with the client. That’s what works for me. It doesn’t make others better than I nor is the reverse true. It’s simply a matter of it being what it is.
Compare yourself to other astrologers for the sake of learning things you might find resonating with you and other things you might be horrified to see, that you couldn’t imagine doing that (whatever) to another person. But at the end of the day, you–like all the rest of us in the world, whether we’re involved in one facet of this profession or any one of the other countless careers in which we might be working–still need to live with yourself. Remember you’re an “ordinary” human, just like the rest of us. That also means you need to be true to yourself–and be yourself in whatever you’re doing. Ordinary Human – OneRepublic
I would imagine most of us came from the same place of orientation inside ourselves when we began to consider studying astrology. That makes us more real to each other because we most likely began a quest to learn more about ourselves, our charts, and our lives–and discovered something amazing enough to have that lightbulb moment in the process, that this was indeed a real field worthy of our time. It makes us just like everyone else who has ever studied a thing–and it makes us totally unique for the individualized journeys each of us have taken.
If you don’t like the journey, you can, I suppose blame it on the cosmos–or the “stars,” but you might want to dig more deeply to find out whether you’ve really gotten as much of a grasp as you think you have just yet. Now don’t take that as a put-down, rather as a voice of encouragement that said to me some months ago about esoteric astrology and its still seemingly singular language–at least for me, “You’ll know: You just haven’t heard the language that speaks to you yet.” (Thank you, Robert Wilkinson of Aquarius Papers. Indeed, it’s all about the language….and thank you, Susmit Sen, for inspiring this article!)
Blame it on the “stars,” if you must, but hold tightly to the passion that makes you keep reaching for the stars, reaching for the point you’re missing, and reaching for that magical moment inside you when it all clicks and you’ve made it through one more rough spot in this journey we call astrology. That, dear reader, is the language of astrology. All of the Stars – Ed Sheeran – from “The Fault in Our Stars”