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The Past is History…

…the future is a mystery, but today…
today is a gift.
That’s why we call it the present.

Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), Kung Fu Panda

One thing I hear a lot—one thing I’m sure all astrologers hear a lot—is that astrology is fake. The trouble is that the “evidence” they use to draw these conclusions isn’t very sound in itself.

 

“Astrology isn’t (and/or can’t be) scientifically proven!”

Sorry, but how many people on this planet believe in some deity (any deity) whose existence can’t be scientifically proven, yet churches, mosques and temples still dot the world…? (Also, can I find a calculator that can count that high? •chuckle•)

Based on Wikipedia (and I’m referencing that because of too many individual citations), and excluding secular and those that don’t believe in a specific deity or group of deities (such as UUs, who emphasize knowledge), that number is something in the nature of 6.9 billion people. And that doesn’t even include agnostics, who generally believe there’s some sort of deity, but not much beyond that.

That’s more than ninety percent of the planet that believes in something you can’t replicate scientifically.

And you laugh at me for believing in astrology, the numbers of whom are probably a great deal smaller?

‘Scuse me while I laugh right back!

Astrology can’t predict shit!

Isn’t it interesting…

❧ …how a meteorologist can make a prediction based on available evidence and it’s called “a weather forecast”;
❧ …how a scientist can make a prediction based on available evidence (and sometimes not, depending on what they’re studying) and it’s called “a hypothesis”;
❧ …but an astrologer can make a prediction based on available evidence and it’s called “fake”?

So who died and made skeptics the authority on the difference between a hypothesis and bullshit?

 

(I was going to write at least a medium-length rant on how the future is malleable and no one gets it right and so forth, but I think I’ve said quite enough.) (Except I forgot about pointing out that there was a time where generals and kings never went to war without consulting an astrologer, and even saints practiced it once upon a time—check out Saint Augustine.)

The stuff in the newspaper/magazines…

…is pretty much junk and I wonder why they even bother publishing it?

I think most people get the idea that astrology is fake from these alone, and—to be quite honest—I don’t blame them.

 

What you see in periodicals is your sun sign (that I refer to by the Greek name of Helios), which most say describes your inner self. The reason that it never feels like the whole you is because it has never. Once. DEPICTED THE WHOLE YOU!

Even by itself, it doesn’t tell you enough, because where Helios is in the sky (or not, in the case of night births) also factors into your personality. If you’re lucky enough to meet two people who were born hours apart, you can see dramatic differences even without their charts. I went to school with a guy who was born approximately three hours earlier and we were as different as night and day! (Bit of a pun there, since being born in January means there was a literal difference of night and day.)

Depending on what the astrologer puts into their charts, we’re looking at steadily decreasing percentages of the whole picture:

❧ The luminaries are always present – the sun (Helios) and Earth’s moon (Selene)
❧ Modern and Hellenistic (ancient Greek) include the original planets (and exclude us): Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn
❧ The former also includes Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (unlike NDT, we actually consider Pluto viable!)
❧ Western astrologers usually include the ascendant [eastern horizon], the midheaven [zenith], the descendant [western horizon] and the lower heaven [nadir]. (I’ll be referring to these as the four vertices below.)
❧ Not to mention asteroids, Arabic lots (including the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit), the North/South Node and whatever else they want to throw up there

The average Hellenistic chart uses 2 luminaries + 5 planets + Part of Fortune + 4 vertices, which equals 1/12 (8.3%).

Even though I’ve been working on that form lately, I use 2 luminaries + 8 planets + 4 vertices in my basic charts, which equals 1/14 (7.14%).

At the most extreme is everything I mentioned above: 2 luminaries + 8 planets + 2 nodes + 2 basic lots (Spirit and Fortune) + the 4 “most important asteroids”(Ceres, Juno, Pallas and Vesta, who I guess were all planets for thirty-seven years) + 4 vertices = 1/22 (4.54%)

Good grief!

If you could only read 4.54% of a book, watch 7.14% of a movie or 8.3% of a television show, wouldn’t you think it’s absolute crap too?

Let’s break that down (and round up) using popular media:

❧ 5% of The Hunger Games is 19.3 pages of the print version. (I don’t know about you, but I make my decision within the first fifty pages, if not sooner.) In my digital copy (with the font and margins set how I like), that doesn’t even get you to Effie drawing Prim’s name.
❧ A New Hope (Star Wars IV) is 121 minutes long. 7% of the movie is 8.47 minutes. Shockingly, that actually gets far enough to introduce you to Vader, Leia and the droids! But not Luke or Han. And no lightsabers, either. (I skimmed through this video to the 8.5 minute mark to get an idea.)
❧ My new favorite competition show is Crime Scene Kitchen, which is an hour long. That’s only 4.8 minutes—barely longer than one of the commercial breaks!

If you can’t make a decision on something to read or watch with that small of a percentage, how is trying to adjudicate your future that way considered sane?


I could go on about how astrology isn’t fake because there is no such thing as a coincidence (but I’m too lazy to look up the calculations) and there’s often more than one significator in the sky when something big happens (Mercury rules transportation and was in retrograde during the Miracle on the Hudson, but not during the Challenger disaster, which means something else was going on), but I don’t have the patience.

And none of that would convince the skeptics, anyway.

I’m Not Cute

I usually write something vaguely romantic and full of longing for birthdays—especially for Asher’s—but this year, I’m so caught up in my own…I’m not even sure if “fears” is the right word…that I wrote this instead.

Not a fan of the title (see above), but I don’t have anything better.


I’m not a shallow girl,
I’m no imitation
plastic
sugar-coated dream.
I’ve been to hell and back.
Scarred?
You’d best believe.

I don’t trust
the Guardians of the Gates—
one slip,
one wrong tone
and it’s too late.

They think they can help,
but they don’t know
the power they wield.
They see smiles and
I see flashes
of razor-bladed kindness
and the end of hope.

They don’t know
that their words
are a paintbrush.

Choose rightly and
I am depicted as my true self:
tested and annealed;
repeatedly thrown into the fire
and not perished.

Choose wrongly and
I’m a cute little girl,
constructed of maple cream
and pastel swirls.

Not thirty-five,
but five.

A two-dimensional princess
who has never been hurt,
screamed at,
abused
or wondered if death
would be preferable to life.

A pillow of sweet fluff,
oblivious to pain.

 

Nay, Guardians,
turn your gazes aside.
If you cannot reveal to him
the me that I am,
I’d rather keep to myself
and hide.

It is better to be alone
and unfulfilled
than to be coupled
and misunderstood.

This Amendment Will Not Run and Hyde

Here is the letter to the editor that spurred this editorial, and the short version for when I finally delete the image is that a local pastor (and known homophobe) is concerned that a forty-seven year old budget addendum is suddenly not going to be included anymore, despite surviving this long.

Below is the properly cited edition of my response, complete with formatting, (possibly) more pictures, links…and the last paragraph, since I kind of feel like they’re going to take it out, feeling it’s an attack on men.

What is the Hyde Amendment?

A follow-up to Roe v Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) that, “…blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortion outside of the exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnancy is determined to endanger the woman’s life…” (Salganicoff et al., 2021—hereon referred to the Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF, outside citations). The amendment has never become law, according to KFF; rather, it is a rider appended to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services each year.

Is it true that President Biden wants Congress to stop adding the rider?

While the president made such a statement during the 2020 campaign season (Salganicoff et al., 2021), the decision is not ultimately up to him. KFF says, “While campaigning during the 2020 presidential election, President Joseph R. Biden called for the removal of the Hyde Amendment from congressional appropriations bills. While the president may have a position opposing the Hyde Amendment, any change to the policy would require approval by Congress.” (Salganicoff et al., 2021) Meaning that—theoretically—as long as there are lawmakers who are against the government paying for abortion, the Hyde Amendment will continue to be enacted if said lawmakers can find sufficient support.

 

The next question is not in my original draft because I didn’t think about it until after submission. (Plus, they cap you out at three hundred words.)

Doesn’t Biden have the power to veto the Hyde Amendment if (say) Joni Ernst were to add it to the budget and garner enough support to get it passed?

CIVICS LESSON!

The president has ten days to make a decision on any bill as presented to him by Congress (excluding Sundays), at which point, he can sign off on a general veto or simply pocket it. (Line item vetos were discontinued in 1998; more on that in a minute. [Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, 2021])

A general veto requires the president to return the bill in the ten day period, often writing a note expressing his disapproval. (And it has to be within ten days, or it will automatically become law. [Historian, 2021]) Pocket vetos, conversely, are sat on by the president until Congress adjourns. In that case, the adjournment has to be session and not vacation, as the court system has repeatedly supported Congress on that issue (Historian, 2021).

Continuing to use Senator Ernst as our pro-life example, if Biden were to veto a budget bill with the Hyde Amendment attached, the Historian writes that the senator would have to muster a ⅔ majority in both chambers in order to “veto the president’s veto” (2021).

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the president can no longer kill the Hyde Amendment by itself and leave the budget bill intact, as decided in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) (Cornell Law School, n.d.). In Clinton, the Supreme Court declared that President Clinton’s vetoes of portions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 were unconstitutional after six members of Congress failed to persuade the District Court for the District of Columbia of the rightness of their case. (Cornell Law School, 1998)

Is Planned Parenthood the leading abortion provider in the United States?

PolitiFact agrees in a 2017 article that that is the case; however, it’s important to note that, “There’s no complete, centralized database that tallies abortions, much less breaks that number down by providers” (The Poynter Institute, 2017). Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s 2019-2020 report (the most recent available) points out that only 3% of their services are abortion, while 52% centered around testing and treatment for STDs (Planned Parenthood, 2021). So unless Pastor Royston and his ilk are suddenly concerned with the “abortion” of chlamydia, HPV and others, there is no provable way to determine who racks up the most each year.

As for whether Planned Parenthood is “wealthy”, bear in mind that thirty-three states and the District of Columbia abide by the strictures set out by the Hyde Amendment, leaving women no choice but to use low-cost providers. In sixteen other states, the Department of Health and Human Services (or whatever each state may call it) has its own budget allotment for abortions, which means that low-cost clinics may not make as much money (Salganicoff et al., 2021).

What probably won’t survive is the question of how many men are in Congress.

Why is this important? A complaint I’ve heard time and again is that male lawmakers are pushing laws that make decisions about female bodies without any consideration toward women’s autonomy. Sure, it’s not their fault that 75% of the Senate and 75% of the House is made up of men (for a total of 405 [Congressional Research Service, 2020]), it’s their constituents’; but when you consider that any man has any power at all to make decisions about women’s bodies, the idea is galling.

 

For more information about the Hyde Amendment, select the KFF link in the references section.


References

Congressional Research Service. (2020, December 4). Women in Congress: statistics and brief overview. Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43244.pdf

Cornell Law School. (1998, June 28). Clinton v. City of New York (97-1374). LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/97-1374.ZO.html

Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Line-item veto. LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/line-item_veto

Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. (2021, January 1). Presidential vetoes. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from https://history.house.gov/Institution/Presidential-Vetoes/Presidential-Vetoes/

Planned Parenthood. (2021). Planned Parenthood 2019-2020 annual report. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/67/30/67305ea1-8da2-4cee-9191-19228c1d6f70/210219-annual-report-2019-2020-web-final.pdf

The Poynter Institute. (2017, May 15). Glenn Grothman says planned parenthood is leading abortion provider. PolitiFact. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2017/may/15/glenn-grothman/glenn-grothman-says-planned-parenthood-leading-abo/

Salganicoff, A., Sobel, L., & Ramaswamy, A. (2021, March 5). The Hyde Amendment and coverage for abortion services. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/the-hyde-amendment-and-coverage-for-abortion-services/

A Priestess’s Manumission

This is sort of a supplement to my book Exilium, so if you've never read it, you may be confused.

But then again, if you know anything about Roman slavery, or have read The Passion of Mary Magdalen, you may know what I'm talking about to some extent.

If you haven't read any of them, not a problem—you're about to get educated. (If you don’t mind spoilers, that is.)

[Caveat: this is a citation-free zone; I'm just going off what Elizabeth Cunningham wrote. If you want to do your own research, I suggest checking her notes section.]


In Roman marriage, ownership of the wife was notionally given to the husband through a document called the manus. (Slaves also had manus, so you can see how much the Romans cared about their women!) There were, however, cases where the manus was retained by the father, who could then manage and punish their daughters as they saw fit.

That's right! If Daddy caught you cheating, he could kick your little ass.

Or kill you, like he did with Paulina's sister in Passion.

(Pardon my spoiler, there.)

I don't know how it actually worked, but in Exilium, I presented an interesting notion about priestesses and their manus. Since I don't think I explained it very well—if at all—I thought I'd make a short post about it.

 

In Julia's world, a girl's manus was granted to the temple at the time of her initiation. This gave priestesses a wide-ranging set of freedoms, but could also make fathers very angry if, for example, the high priestess declared an orgy—the priestesses' fathers could not punish them for ruining the families’ reputation, because the paterfamilias was now the temple, as personified by the high priestess.

Serving the temple was also the fastest way to manumission, as if the priestess sought to marry a man of whom her high priestess approved, the manus would be burnt in the sacred fire and the priestess would be freed to do as she pleased.

Unfortunately, the temple's ownership could also trip a girl up, as Julia eventually learned.

[Original cover painting for Exilium, which I rendered in black and white.]

If you read the "Not-So-Historical Notes" at the end of Early One Morning, you know what happened to the other priestesses and their manus. But the nature of the kerfuffle over Julia's during Exilium was a little vague.

As high priestess, Julia officially owned her own manus; however, since it was on an institutional basis (as the temple personified, you may remember), she wasn't a freedwoman. In light of this, when Pontius kidnapped her, Livia was automatically promoted to high priestess and the control over everyone’s manus went to her.

Officially, only the Virgo Vestalis Maxima (and the emperor, of course) were superior to the High Priestess of Isis and only they could force Livia to sign over Julia's manus or that of any other priestess. In practice, however, the priestesses answered to the provincial prefect; so when Pontius threatened death or other bodily harm to the priestesses if Livia didn't sign over Julia's manus once he'd decided to keep her as his personal priestess, the high priestess hurried to respond.

Theoretically, once Julia betrayed Pontius and he exiled her, her manus should've been passed to whoever was receiving her in Ireland. However, it somehow got left behind in the rush to kick her out (he likely didn't have his own copy and would've had to go to the provincial record office), so that was the basis of the upset—Julia's manus being on file without a change of possession meant that Pontius still owned her and could do what he pleased. Without her manus, Lucius had no recourse against Pontius forcing Julia into marriage, which is why Lucius paid two hundred denarii and agreed to take as her his concubine. An executor was never appointed, of course, which is how Lucius was able to marry Julia without legal repercussions.

Though if you read the book, you know that Pontius got his way in the end.

Let’s be brave!

By some crazy stretch of the imagination, I decided it might be interesting to post my first attempt at a natal chart analysis. (My own, of course, but the chart of a former celebrity crush is in the offing.) One, so you could see what I can do (and I can show my mommy, who is very supportive…*giggle*) and two, so my astrology mentors (such as they may be) can comment and offer pointers.

I only did the sun (which I refer to as Helios) and its aspects, so here we go…!


(original linked)

17° Capricorn ~ Sixth House ~ Peregrine

Things like health, serving others and small animals drive you, which is why you love cats, studied health and worked in retail. As with many Capricorns, organization, attention to detail, time management and obedience to rules are of primary importance to you. Should someone be foolish enough to violate those four things—especially in relation to any sixth house issue—may the gods help them, because you will not be so inclined toward mercy.

While you often feel as if Capricorn doesn’t resemble the true you, you have a correctly-placed sense of Helios being the luminary of the Dayanara that lives deep inside. Your outgoing, enthusiastic and talkative nature may be the drywall, paint and carpet that make up your house, but your strongly-held Capricornian beliefs are the foundation of yourself and very little will ever change that.

 

Aspects

Conjunct Venus: you long to find a partner who is like you in both mind and spirit. If someone can’t see the world as you see it—or in a very similar fashion—they’re simply not worth your time. You understand that there’s no such thing as a “fixer-upper” partner, and that they have to come willing to work on themselves under their own motivation, or not come at all.

 

Square Midheaven: Having supervisors that don’t understand the way you work is something you find irritating. To you, the workplace should be one of trust and obedience to the rules; not one where your superiors hover over your shoulder and yell at you when they don’t like what they see. You (and your Leo self) would love to be at the top, but question your worthiness and hesitate to try being yourself in order to get there.

 

Square Lower Heaven: it probably doesn’t surprise you that not having a “husband, daughter, home and career” (as you’ve always wanted) bothering you actually appears in your chart. If you were doing this chart analysis for someone else, you might write that not having their “white picket fence dream” is a source of grief for them, and—reflecting on your own life—might cause tears in envy of others.

 

Quintile Pluto: death may not bother you as much as it does others. You’re the type that sees the funeral industry as more of a career and less of a thing to be ignored until the last minute. If you could apply your Capricornian nature to death, change and reincarnation, you certainly would.

 

Sextile Mars: when family conflict comes into play, you want to be the mediator. Not one to let resentment fester, you try to work things out with others. When the situation between you and another is untenable (like you and your mother), you find value in airing your problems in therapy. Having a shoulder to cry on when family problems arise is important to you, as is the ability to learn where to set boundaries and how to enforce them.


Wow, that looks really nice with the planets as bullet points/accompaniment!

If you're curious, the Midheaven is represented by the Milky Way, and Lower Heaven (imum coeli) is indicated by a cenote.