SUNRISE: January 16, 2018

January 16, 2018. Photo: Ariana Reines.

“analogies are dangerous”

Muriel Rukeyser

I ASKED MY TEACHER how he came to learn astrology. Misery he answered. Misery is a good school I said. The best, he answered. Laughter. 

I asked him how he’d made my chart eight years ago, whether he worked with an ephemeris in some form. He doesn’t have Internet now and he certainly didn’t have it then. I asked the planets where they were when you were born, he said. I rather believed him, while disbelieving, or I believed him with a sense of humor, the only way one can believe anything, perhaps the only way one should believe anything, including the world in front of one’s nose, the falling bombs, the bugs skittering across the prison floor...

OK, but I let my two normcore assimilationist brain cells think their obligatory thoughts: that he must own an ephemeris, that he might have had access to one, that he might even have put my birth data into one of the innumerable chart-generators online, at someone else’s house, in someone else’s office; why not; he may well have done so and nevertheless also asked the planets where they were when I was born. 

When I read a book, he continued, I’m not exactly reading, I’m comparing. I’m comparing what I know innately to what’s written on the page. 

I know that kind of reading. That’s poet’s reading and I’ve been doing it forever. I think it is more and more common, though the metrics by which to measure innate knowledge against delusion and quackery are only in very early stages of beta testing.   

What I was really after was ordinary, practical information about how he integrates astrology into everything else he does when he heals. I didn’t have to ask this question aloud. He heard it. On this path, he began, using a construction I have never known him to use, on this path humility is essential, and your first task, always, always, is to help.

Humility is surely required if you have the power directly to quiz planets as to their location at such and such a moment. The Greeks and their old, forever unheeded counsel against hubris is likewise well known. In any case.

I’m not sure the asceticism of Misery School or the extreme humility required if one intends to hold and make longterm use of, offer longterm service by the employment of divine gifts is for everybody. It might come off a little gray, like the Internet gray of today’s sunrise, cut by a single clitoral glow.

Nevertheless I believe we all have these capacities. Whose infrastructure must be rebuilt. This stern New Moon is commanding both ambition and an ethics.

And so, from the bitcoin of the mind, with eclipses in view as well as an array of other gifts I’ve prepared for you this week, and even though I thought I’d be writing you something different this morning, two tiny things.

1. Don’t look back. Not today.
2. Things are grim, I know, but they’re also ridiculous, thus not without erotic promise.  For example, here is Capricorn Marlene Dietrich, looking back to mourn without directly doing so, turning her excellent bones toward the absurd kleig lights of the future, like the hard femme moon giving birth to herself above us and below us in a few hours.

Rest in Power, Dolores.

Marlene Dietrich sings Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” 1964. Video, black and white, sound, 4 minutes 27 seconds.

Ariana Reines is a poet & playwright. She astrologizes at