The Scarlet Letter
Volume IV, Number 1 | March 1997
Jewels From the Naked Brilliance
By Sr. Nephthys
I keep referring to them in friendly terms because they are a bit like pain: the gift that nobody wants. Boredom, Confusion, and Frustration are only some of the the "demons" that plague everyone that are really clues to what needs attention in our lives. In that sense, they're a lot like pain, since most of our REAL pains are the ones inside. This little triad of ghouls, along with their cousins, are counter-balanced by positive forces, the "jewels" that appear in our lives just when we need them.
About a year ago, one of those jewels fell into my lap, and it was called astrology. That jewel has opened the doors and windows of my very essence, showing me things about myself and the Universe around me that I had never imagined. More importantly, it has provided me with the tools to drive away Boredom, Confusion, Frustration, and all their irritating ilk. It has also answered some of my oldest, most insomnia-producing questions. Perhaps most important of all, it has put to rest many of my own personal demons, the ones that have names but that no one else can really know. We all have them.
So here I offer you some of those jewels in the hopes that they will open doors for all of you as well. The potential of the stars is as infinite as Nuit herself, and I am excited to see what this periodic offering of “Jewels” will bring in the future. For now, I offer you a story. The Story of the Zodiac...
“Push, Mother! Push!” The daughter held up her mother as she strained to bring forth her baby. A great heave of breath and a mighty push later, the fat baby boy laid on his mother's breast. She looked down at his head, covered with a thick shock of red hair, and thanked the gods for her healthy son. Through the window, she could see rams frolicking on the green hillside in the rising spring sunlight.
“What's his name, Mama?” the little girl asked.
“His name is Aries.”
Aries was a very headstrong little boy, full of fire and energy. His instructors looked at his bright eyes and flaming hair and knew his spirit would need discipline or he would become the tyrant of the class. Such a charming and handsome boy, all the other children loved him. So much that they would do pretty much anything he said. One day when he was not really a boy any longer, he got them all into trouble. He thought it wouldn't be so bad if it were all of them, but he felt so terrible about it, he stood up in front of everyone and asked that he receive all the punishment for what had happened. The teacher looked at him very curiously and asked why. See, bright little Aries knew that he had something that made others follow him. He also knew that it was bad to use that power to do naughty things. His classmates would not have created mischief if he had not been so bent on creating it. The teacher smiled at Aries, and told him to write down as much as he could think about leadership that was good and bad, knowing that he had already learned the real lesson.
As Aries grew older, his mother's health ailed, and after he was finished with school he stayed at home to help, his sister having married and moved away. Every day, he rose with the sun to go out and woke up old Taurus, the mighty bull who had plowed their field for years, it seemed. Some days Taurus was lazy and didn't feel like working. Those days, Aries just had to find something else to do, because when the bull didn't want to move it wasn't going to. Most of the time, though, Taurus was faithfully dependable to carry out the many heavy tasks of the farm. Aries enjoyed walking through the field of rich, black earth, moist and waiting for the tiny seeds to nourish and grow. Sometimes, though, he himself seemed to suffer from Taurus' laziness. Once, he let the field go untended for two weeks. The unkempt plants overran each other, creating even more work that Aries just did not want to do. He finally realized one day, staring at the overripe field, that to sustain himself required work, and he might as well just do it or else what was overabundance now would turn to barrenness later. The field was never untended again, except when Taurus said it was time for a break.
A few years passed, and Aries found himself alone. His mother had passed away, and he no longer found methodical life on the farm fulfilling. So he sold it at a handsome price, its fields having always been admired by the local farmers, and set out for the city of Gemini, fabled to hold mysteries no one in the hills could ever dream of. He met a pair of twins on the way, a blonde-headed boy and girl also heading to Gemini, so Aries and the two journeyed on together. Once there, they all decided to live together to make life a little easier financially, and also so they wouldn't be lonely. Aries spent his days writing, reading, and sitting around thinking about what the hell he wanted to really do with his life. He had to make sure he didn't spend too much time thinking or else his mind started going in circles, and then nothing was clear anymore. It was just like the twins. Whenever they argued, it eventually degraded into a circle of insults. But when they were working together, they came up with the most amazing insights. Watching them he understood that he needed to make the different parts of his head communicate together, instead of trying to think about his life in little bitty pieces. After that, he could sit around and think as much as he wanted to, and when he became frustrated, he knew it was time to stop.
Thinking more led to reading more, and that led to writing more. So much more, in fact, that the twins began complaining about how much space he was taking up. Since he wanted to stay friends with them, and because he really did need more space, he moved into his own home. He had been wisely frugal with his savings and his writings provided him with supplemental income Free to do as he pleased in his own home, Aries became very hermetic. He was comfortable and happy, enjoying creating space that was his and only his. He left only to purchase things he needed, usually for his pets and plants, whom he regarded as his family and friends. After a while, though, he became depressed at having made his life nothing but a daily routine of perpetual ponderance devoid of other people. He'd become like the crab, Cancer, in his fish tank: always hiding in the corner unless it was absolutely safe to come out, and he wasn't sure how he'd gotten that way, either. It's time to stop sitting on my ass and hiding all the time, he said to himself as he gazed at the moon.
The next day, he sat on an airplane bound for the Caribbean, the land of eternal sunshine. After three days of soaking up the rays of the sun, he began to feel alive again. He hadn't written anything creative in months, and now felt the tingling of his brain and the burning of his fingers once again. Still, Aries was tired and unmotivated, until one evening he met a gentleman named Leo. Leo had hair as yellow and bright as the sun itself, and spent his days creating the most beautiful art Aries had ever seen. He poured his soul out onto the paper and canvas. It seemed everything Leo did came from the very center of his being and was untouched by the ugliness of life. Unfortunately he was sometimes arrogant about his ability and would become boisterous and authoritative. The proud one would become the hungry one. These were also the times he could seem to paint or draw anything he felt was worthwhile, and instead of becoming a little more grounded, he would become angered at people if they didn't give him the help he felt he was owed. Aries learned from Leo and took with him both his inspiration to create, and his lesson to be responsible. Back home, Aries threw himself into his work. He decided that his old ways of disorderliness and clutter needed to go, and organized his work into something he could make some sense out of. It took him a while, though. In sorting his writings into categories, he found he sometimes missed the forest for the trees. In other words, he tried to be too specific in organizing his life. Finding he would repeatedly fall into this trap despite his efforts to keep sight of the big picture, his work would begin to lose meaning. He persevered, however, and cultivated a working system that not only gave him more rime to do other things, but also increased how much he wrote since he could actually FIND everything! Since he no longer holed up in the house all the time, his work, took him to various places in the city, and one day met a beautify woman named Virgo. They became friends, and she proved to be immensely helpful when Aries need to have his head pulled out of the trees. She provided clarity and precision to his life, and seemed to have a gift to analyze problems and solve them quickly. However, she was sometimes too analytical, and at inappropriate times. Together, though, they helped each other see when the other needed a little clear sight.
After a time of warm friendship and stimulating experiences, Aries and Virgo fell in love with each other. Their relationship was filled with bliss and happiness as they climbed the steps of the Libra building, where all contracts between people were negotiated and signed. This was to be only the first of many negotiations between the two of them. The young lovers quickly learned that to bind two lives together, in spirit or in law, required maturity and compromise, or they would denigrate into fighting. They also discovered that maintaining their individuality was just as crucial to their relationship as their teamwork was. A careful balance had to be maintained between the self and the other for them to be happy together: too much emphasis on one, no matter how much love it was done out of, created chaos. The scales on the wall of the Libra building reminded them every time they walked past it.
The young couple reveled in their time together, giggling like children under the blankets on Saturday afternoons. Giggles turned to moans after a time as they learned to explore each other. What makes you tick? each wanted to know about the other. Exploration of the unknown realms of their bodies and minds led the young lovers down seemingly perilous roads, but they drank up what life would offer them, just for the mere experience. Hours were spent dancing the night away at Club Scorpio, a haven for both the creative and the lecherous. In searching the heights of life, they inevitably encountered the depths of despair. Meaninglessness crept into their lives unseen as they gradually began to wonder about the horrors of the world around them. Joy and beauty seemed worthless next to the seeming power of evil to them. Aries dreamed of the blackened silver scorpion emblazoned upon the door of the dub. Except in his dream, it always descended into a hissing snake, waiting to strike at him and those he loved. He wondered how they could have been so happy such a short time ago, blissfully unaware of the evil and catastrophe that strike so many the world over. Gradually, they came to understand that life cannot exist without death, light without dark, day without night. One begets the others in a continuous cycle. They learned that the balance that governed their relationship governed the entire Universe. Aries' dreams changed: the scorpion became a soaring eagle, flying high to get the REAL big picture. In that realization, doors to the unknown realms of the spirit flew open, providing knowledge and opportunity that transcended their mere mundane existence.
Aries and Virgo decided it was time to go somewhere else. The city of Gemini had been kind to them and they had learned much, but they had an itch to GO, to see the world!P Off they ran in a beat up van with spray paint on the sides, going where their whim told them to. They saw places they had never even heard of, met people with strange accents, and partook of the lives of others generous enough to share what they had. Ideas of all sorts abounded in their heads. Ways to change the world forever, they thought. The occasional argument would arise when one of them would get too fervent in their desire to impress an opinion upon another. They had to learn to temper their philosophies and ideals: not everyone has the same ideas about the Universe. After a while, tired of moving around all the time, and after many questions and direction-asking, they found the great Universities Sagittarius. The knowledge of the entire world was held here, or so they had been told. “Ye Shall Know The Truth, And The Truth Shall Make You Free,” proclaimed the granite stone wall of the main building. Aries loved staring at the formidable statue of Sagittarius himself, the legendary hunter and artist of the ancient myths. Aries also fancied himself a hunter and artist: the hunter of truth and artist of beauty.
The great school provided the adventurous couple with many avenues down which to travel. Time between classes was spent together discussing their higher ideals and what they wanted to BE in the world. Ambition drove them to learn more and more, and not unseen by their instructors. They were considered the brightest stars of their class, and their status in the community was assured following their graduation. They both received promising jobs at the Capricorn Corporation, which had a silly looking goat on the letterhead. Secretly Virgo began to think that most of her bosses behaved like goats, caring nothing for the fluctuations of human life. Aries, however, pursued his career with the same fervor Virgo resented so much in her superiors. Ambition almost broke the young couple apart. They had forgotten the rule of the balance: the career is there to stabilize the home, and the HOME is where you live, not at work. They learned together when to stop and pay attention to what was really important. Soon after, a small plaque went up on the wall. It said: You cant take it with you. It was a saying one of their school friends often said, usually when someone around him was exhibiting some sort of extreme materialistic behavior. It was their reminder to themselves to keep their priorities straight.
In the process of reorganizing those priorities Aries and Virgo began realizing there was an entire planet out there that needed helping. The same horrors that previously propelled their depression now became impetus to do something about them. They took their resources and knowledge and sought out others like them that wanted to fix the ills of their home planet. Together, they formed Aquarius, an organization of people designed merely to come up with ideas about how to fix what was wrong,) and if there were willing members, perhaps fund some of these ideas. Their symbol was a man carrying water: it idealized their philosophy of helping those who need it. The organization flourished with people from all walks of life, all of them with profound ideas about how to change the world. Unfortunately, egotism and self righteousness began infiltrating their precious think tank. So many big egos with so many big ideas all in the same place began to conflict as each member tried to say that HIS way was right. As he watched in horror while his work crumbled around him, Aries remembered one of the first lessons he had learned: he had a gift that would make people listen, and follow if he let them. So he invoked his power and bade his friends to forget their egos, that they had come together to help others, not themselves. They had forgotten that in helping others, they DO help themselves, far more than by just being selfish. They all stopped for a moment, then looked at their friends in turn, renewing their fraternity and their hope for a better world.
Aries and Virgo continued their work with Aquarius, hoping their efforts would do some good somewhere. Yet each still felt empty in a way. Stiff yet unfii1filled. Aries, having lost his direction, slipped into a deep depression. He fought his misery any way he could, with sleep, with food, and eventually with drinking and drugs. He deluded himself into thinking his life was still fine, that he was just a little bummed out, and that things would be okay again soon. Virgo stood by and watched her lover slip further and further way from her: he had long ago rejected any of her efforts to help him, denying anything was wrong. After a while, she just didift talk to him anymore. So he sat and stared at the pair of fish swimming in his expensive fish tank. he'd bought in an effort to quell his despair. Virgo took her pills, and slept. Long into the night, Aries gazed at the swirling fish he'd named Pisces, around and around. Just like the demons swirling in his head. As they danced in the light of the tank, they alternately turned dark and light. One dark, the other light, then vice versa. He remembered the balance, and the darkness lifted slightly. Virgo stirred in her sleep, and dreamt of intertwining dragons, flying about each other in the sky, one black, one white, as they swirled about the sun. Her forehead unimproved a bit. There in the darkness, one by the glimmering light of the water, one by the hazy fog of dreams, they understood the totality of Existence, the continuity of everything. The balance does not rule the Universe, it IS the Universe. In its duality is singularity, and in that singularity is the beginning of everything. Aries slowly lifted his head, a great weight seeming to have been lifted from his shoulders. Virgo arose from her slumber, shaking off the sleep, then suddenly remembering her dream. She smiled to herself, and then at the approaching shadow that came to accompany her in the bedroom.
Nine moons later, Aries and Virgo lived comfortably at the farm that had been Aries' constant companion through childhood. Upon looking at a map he had obtained from a colleague at Sagittarius, he realized that he had literally come full circle. From the farm, to Gemini, to their travels and Sagittarius, and back to his farm, he had traveled a circle on the map. He smiled inwardly. Outside, through the window, he could see the rams frolicking on the hillside in the rising spring sunlight. Virgo called to him: it was time...