Brian Foo via society6.com

If you missed part one, you can catch it here. These posts form a two part series about what you can look forward to with a Saturn Return.

I recently gave a tarot reading to a friend of mine and she remarked that she was surprized that I was still practicing tarot. That seemed like something the “Old Isthmus” would do. And I thought what a strange comment that was because I hadn’t realized how much I had changed. You’re so practical now, she clarifies. You’re so into these practical things. Joining groups, chairing meetings, all of it. And she’s right; in the past I never concerned myself with ideas about civic engagement, leadership and what not.

The Saturn Return has consolidated a lot of my responsibilities to society. A prosperous, vibrant, tolerant and creative society doesn’t just happen by magic or by virtue of inertia. And contrary to a lot of articles I read, leading a meaningful, happy life is very much a social endeavour that is deeply tied into the participation in the creation of shared meaning. Whenever we talk about happiness or satisfaction in the west, we always focus on the individual. But without shared meaning, shared narratives, shared metaphors that are authentic, we are lost in our own idiosyncratic, solipsistic fantasies or, as is very common, we become easy prey for systems of meaning that are inauthentic, harmful and do not accurately reflect our reality.

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I had a friend ask me the other day about meditation. He’s a hard working, luxury loving Taurus sun with over half his planets ensconced within the 2nd house of values and possessions. Not surprisingly, this young man eventually went on to get his MBA at Harvard and has had a very successful career. Now he leaves his place for work at 6 am only to return at midnight to crash and do it all over again. He’s a consultant which means his work often consists of trying to fix other people’s problems all day.

Work is really stressing me out, he confides, but the whole “stop and breathe thing” doesn’t seem to be working. No matter how hard he tells himself to calm down, it doesn’t work. So he asks me about meditating. And I’m no expert, but two things have become very clear to me.

Lesson the first: Don’t waste time trying to dictate to your unconscious what to do.

Even from a strictly neurological viewpoint,* your unconscious is immeasurably more powerful and millions of years “older” than the newer, inhibitory structures of the brain. Trying to get the “newer” frontal lobe to put the brakes on a cascading anxious reaction from the “reptile” brain is an exercise in (further anxiety fueling) futility. A perfect example of how this can fail is when you actively supress a thought or emotion only to have that backfire and amplify your unwanted reaction!

The lower/older structures of the brain have primary pipelines right into your body, giving them the first call in regulating (or disregulating) your emotions, your physiology, and the frameworks by which you perceive the world. They work on the premise of survival. You want to try to rationalize your body out of survival mode? That’s like believing you can control a startled wild horse by using your bare hands to muscle it into your control.


Better to respect and ride the beast, than to be trampled underfoot, no? Meditation will give you the tools to do this.

Lesson the second: Meditation is cumulative!

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Every now and then, during meditation, I’ll cry. They aren’t tears of distress, nor of purely parasympathetic arousal (I’ve got supported bridge pose for that!). They represent the meeting of two trains of inquiry I’ve had for awhile regarding ethical behaviour.

A Rwandan genocide survivor at the Gisozi memorial in Kigali looks at pictures of victims of the genocide, in which 800,000 people died. Picture: Reuters

The first train of thought extended from a discussion regarding non-harm and mass consumerism in which the collective conclusion was the inability to avoid harm and focusing on minimizing it. Despite my dissatisfaction at this conclusion, I could not think of another way to approach living in a system of logic that devalues human life and life in general by replacing that value with the exchange value of capitalism. So, my rationality failing me, I relegated this problem to my unconscious to crunch on.

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This post described the reason for the O.div’s continued existence, but I will also comment here on its subsequent discontinuation. The O.div was a project that began to honour the Greek god, Dionysos. Over the years, that purpose became more contrived. I have since come to see that everything I did for god in the past was very childish and in a way, rather perverse, although it was undeniably real. The old ways of experiencing the gods have run their course. As such, I now have great difficulty in relating to the O.div’s old posts and the attitude in which they were written, even if I still agree with what I wrote. Of what happens now, I feel no desire to speak of. However, I will quote one of my favourite Christian mystics, San Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross) who wrote:

In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not.

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Original Title: the odivinorum lives again
Original Post Date: August 27, 2007 @ 6:30 pm

on this day of our full lunar eclipse.

After over a month of being inaccessible, the dns has finally been renewed. In its period of digital convalescence, the odivinorum was suddenly forced to grapple with the stark reality of its finitude: Why does this blog exist, does it really matter, etc. On its 2nd year anniversary on this domain name (over 3 years if you count ye olde livejournal days), the Odiv had a classic existential crisis. And I have to admit, the possibility of losing all this writing didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. Because I still have all the important thoughts I’ve shared here in my head and I could write it all out again, although not verbatim; details rarely concern my Sagittarius-heavy, Mercury-weak chart.

So why continue blogging? Because maybe these words might spark ideas in someone else’s head, or maybe they could help illuminate more obscure arenas of discourse, but above all that, I like to think of the Odiv as something less cerebral, like a siren, or an alarm call. Sounds deliberately created to arouse, annoy, and awaken, forming a constant 24 hour fixture in the aural landscapes of the modern metropolis. A modified excerpt of an email I sent to a dear friend yesterday:

Modernity, it seems to me, is a society in a constant state of crisis… which is really profoundly tragic in a way b/c ppl rarely thrive on uncertainty and the unknown… What an ontological nightmare we have on our hands, and yet, what unprecedented existential opportunities… Modernity’s song is the endless wail of the alarm call, of the siren. At least, I wish it could be. A song that pierces the dreamlike, unconscious grooves and rhythms of everyday life, a song that warns us of danger or that signals the occurance of an accident, of damage, of trauma. But most of all, it is sometimes a song that promises hope for anonymous aid, aid that rushes towards a scene of an equally anonymous violence. That the state will temporarily suspend its drive for meaningless productivity and efficiency, that even the machine itself must bow down, must make space for emergency aid, is something that excites me.

Henri LeFebvre spoke of the desire to reinstate the Festival into “everyday life”, but the Festival at its heart is a violent, Dionysian celebration, and modern culture is founded upon the denial of Dionysus and the desacrilization of matter. To reconstruct the Festival today is inauthentic. But the screaming ambulance, the bellowing firetruck, these vehicles in a state of emergency, represent one of the only kinds of genuine recognitions of the material world created by the state, one of the few, true moments of disruption and humanity in modernity.

So. Let my posts be like alarm calls…