19 Jun America ~ Solar Eclipse in Cancer – June 21st, 2020
On June 21st, the annual journey of the Sun reaches its climax at the solstice, leaving the mental agonies of Gemini behind for the dreamy sentience of Cancer.
In the northern hemisphere, the solstice is the Sun’s climax of light, heralding the dawn of summer. But like everything in 2020, even the worshipful summer solstice is getting tons of shade thrown at it, for it arrives alongside a total solar eclipse. This will be the final solar eclipse in Cancer for many years to come, concluding a process of evolution that began in July of 2018.
Think back to that time. What has changed since then?
Symbolically speaking, a Solar Eclipse represents a very powerful moment when the Moon overshadows the Sun. You can imagine that for a moment, the past (Moon) blocks out the light of the future. (Sun)
Everyone knows that a computer’s memory needs to be refreshed and restarted. In order for software to be updated successfully, your phone or laptop needs to be turned off and started back up again. On a cosmic level, this solar eclipse may feel like that.
From the ancient Hermetic perspective, a Solar Eclipse was referred to as The Alchemical Marriage, which is the most sublime and powerful expression of Duality (Sun and Moon) merging into Unity. Thus, Solar Eclipses flood the collective psyche with fertile energies that intensify the evolutionary themes of the moment.
The soil of all future growth is made much richer by digging into the past, unearthing its secrets, bones and treasures. Fortunately, the sign of Cancer is especially gifted in the reflective art of history. This is the sign that is associated with the power of memory itself, where the mind is like soft clay taking deep impressions of everything that walks through it.
In Ancient Greece, Orphic priests were said to drink from the “pool of Memory” in order to experience perfect wisdom. At this eclipse, you will drink deeply from this pool, immersing yourself in echoes from the past.
Memory is more than mere images. It is a flood of sentience and feeling. The first sip dissolves the notion of history as being something written by the victors. In Cancer, the past is revealed as a living myth, an evolving story not written in stone but shaped and sculpted by the art of remembering.
In ancient Greece, Memory (Mnemosyne) was said to be the mother of the nine muses. Thus, the muses created a library of memory through the arts. And artists do not simply record the past. They interpret it, shape it, and illuminate it to inspire revelation and catharsis.
At this midpoint of 2020, the history and destiny of America has become a focal point for a global reflection upon the past. America, the luminous emblem of independence and democracy, has been confronted by its very dark shadow of imperial greed, slavery, and oppression. This hangs heavy on the shoulders of the whole world.
Submerged in the memorial past, in search of resonance with the moment the world is in, many sympathetic and understanding voices emerge. One of these is the great 20th Century poet, Allen Ginsberg, who used his voice to confront the American shadow in service to humanity’s awakening. Though it sounds like it could have been written yesterday, Ginsberg wrote the following observations in his journal on July 4th in 1959:
“The stakes are too great—an America gone mad with materialism, a police-state America, a sexless and soulless America prepared to battle the world in defense of a false image of its authority.
Not the wild and beautiful America of the comrades of Walt Whitman, not the historic America of William Blake and Henry David Thoreau where the spiritual independence of each individual was an America, a universe, more huge and awesome than all the abstract bureaucracies and authoritative officialdoms of the world combined.”
Ginsberg’s American dream was lost before it was found. Three years earlier Ginsberg had written a poem called America which captures so much of the heartache of the collective shadow: the whole milieu of imperialism and mass media manipulation.
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
Ginsberg personifies America as an entity, confronting it with his discontent and disappointment. He reflects upon his personal memories of being an outcast. (queer, pot-smoking Jewish, Communist) And he confronts the brutality of the war machine and its mass media mind control.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Though written as a stream of consciousness, Ginsberg’s America is not just a rant to incite discontent or promote his political cause. He was answering a poetic calling to speak for the common people of America, just as his poetic ancestor, Walt Whitman believed must be done.
In fact, for Whitman, poetry wasn’t just a vehicle for expressing political discontent. He believed poetry was a political force in and of itself. In his preface to the first edition of Leaves of Grass (1855), Whitman foresaw that:
The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors … but always most in the common people.
As an inheritor of this genius of the common people, Ginsberg’s work was always in dialogue with Whitman. But it was an even deeper voice from the past that was responsible for Ginsberg’s initiation into poetry. And this was none other than the great Romantic mystic, William Blake.
Ginsberg claimed that in the summer of 1948, when he was 22, Blake appeared to him in a vision. According to Ginsberg, William Blake rose from a book reciting “Ah! Sun-flower” from Songs of Experience. He recalled,
“It was no dream…the voice rose out of the page to my secret ear never heard before . . . And Blake’s voice in the vision says: “Love! thou patient presence & bone of the body”
This message of love that Blake touched Ginsberg with is what gives purpose to his poetry. It is what separates his message from a communist tract or a political tirade.
America when will you be angelic?
The waters of memory may flow into old wounds, erupting in great storms of emotional agony. But this can offer understanding and inspiration that help to birth new worlds. The poetic imagination seeds new life and new love into the waking world. Blake sought liberation from centuries of European wars and the materialism of the Enlightenment. And Ginsberg was eager to liberate America from the political, corporate, and military ideologies through a spiritualized conscience.
In the 19th century, Whitman knew that America’s shadow of industrial greed would would need to:
“be confronted and met by at least an equally subtle and tremendous force infusion for purposes of spiritualization, for the pure conscience…and for absolute and primal manliness and womanliness.”
As poets, William Blake, Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg had a clear vision that was guided by love, which naturally poised them against the regression and oppression in their times. But they did not merely oppose the dominant narrative. Instead, they envisioned the transcendence and healing that was possible in the world. So even as Ginsberg spews bitter words in America, he does so with the Blakean message of love and magnanimity in his heart.
He summarized his poetic intentions in his 1973 poem Who:
From the Great Consciousness vision
Harlem 1948 buildings standing in eternity
I realized entire Universe was manifestation of One Mind—
My teacher was William Blake—my life work Poesy,
transmitting that spontaneous awareness to Mankind.
It was not a US President, but the poems of Blake and Whitman that taught Allen Ginsberg about tolerance. Ginsberg once lectured about this saying that these works taught him:
“how to cultivate tolerance towards his own thoughts, impulses and ideas—the tolerance necessary for the perception of one’s own mind, the kindness to the self necessary for acceptance of that process of consciousness and for acceptance of the mind’s raw contents, as in Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’”
Poets see through time and space. They are blessed by visions beyond their cultural conditioning. As devotees of the muses, poets write history as an act of love. They write when they are victorious and when all is lost. In dark times such as these, the light that poets offer is a great gift, and should not be denied. Poets know the suffering of the world. But they also see the tremendous spirit in humanity, the divine aura that is undeniably holy.
Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel.
At this Solar Eclipse in Cancer, set the intention to cultivate tolerance towards your own thoughts, impulses and ideas. Before you expect the world to become angelic, you must heal the conflict within yourself.
As the past merges with the present, long lost wisdom will reach out to you from beyond the veil. Greet the voices that rise up to speak with you, for these are your ancestors and your teachers. Whatever struggles you may be enduring at this eclipse, let the waters of memory nurture a moment of quiet inspiration, that fills your heart with beauty, freedom and boundless joy.
paintings by Margaret Cook, Illustrations for 1913 Edition of Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’
photographs are 19th century historical records of unpacking the statue of liberty in New York Harbor.