Burness Band new live videos on Youtube

The sold-out gig with the massively talented Nick Harper (son of Roy but very much a talent in his own right) at the end of last year was a great success. Nick is a top chap and he was absolutely stunning in his musicianship and general performance. I played a short solo support set. There was a lot of love in the room!

After various delays (mainly Covid stuff), live 2019 Burness Band videos of ‘Electric Energy’ and ‘Mumbling In The House Of Commons’ are up on my Youtube channel

They were recorded in February 2019 at The Brunswick, Hove by Robert Cooper and Roy Weard, with final editing by Julian Tardo. Great to have a visual record of the band at that time, we did some good gigs from 2016 through to 2019. Fudge Smith – drums, Keith Hastings – bass guitar, Monty Oxymoron – keyboards, Cliff Dowding – additional keyboards, TB – guitar and vocals.


Astrology 2022 to 2025 – approaching a new world

Back in January 2019, I wrote what turned out to be a very popular blog on 2020 astrology, a combination of my own take and quotes from the work of other established astrologers. Reading back now, although I would change one or two things (for example, I am not a big fan of Bill Gates!), it wasn’t too far off the mark.

2021 and 2022 astrology – tension and conflict between old and new

The intensely stressful 2021 square between Saturn in Taurus and Uranus in Aquarius has been well documented by astrologers. It’s exact three times – 17th February, 14th June, 24th December – although its presence is likely to be felt up to late 2022. Tension and conflict between old (Saturn) versus new (Uranus), establishment (Saturn) versus radical change (Uranus), stability (Saturn) versus instability (Uranus). Taking responsibility for the individual and collective actions of humanity (Saturn in Aquarius) conflicting with shocks and instability in financial systems and a new awareness of the Earth (Uranus in Taurus).

“This confusion of new ways seeking form, amidst the bullying insistence of old greed-based economies, is likely to dominate through 2022, as the Saturn/Uranus square remains in close orb.” Roy Gillett, Astrological Association Journal magazine, Sep/Oct 21

Saturn began its journey through Aquarius at the end of 2020, the important Jupiter-Saturn conjunction having marked a major long-term shift away from materialistic values. Obviously that shift can’t happen overnight! Many individual and collective foundations for a better shared world will have been laid by early 2023.

2023-2024 astrology – on the cusp of revolution with significant long-term endings

Western astrologers are anticipating the first movement of Pluto into Aquarius since the late 1770s. The great destroyer/healer first dips into Aquarius during March 2023, where it hovers for just a few months before moving back into the last degree of Capricorn again. Pluto in Aquarius will really start to happen in early 2024, where it remains until 2043-44. Many reading here will already be familiar with what we can expect from Pluto in Aquarius – revolutionary upheaval of many kinds is on the cards. Amongst others, Marjorie Orr has written some interesting short pieces anticipating Pluto in Aquarius, here and here. Previous cycles show the type of world-changing events we can expect.

Many astrologers consider the last degree of each sign of the zodiac as crucial, a kind of “last-gasp” of old energy. Pluto is in the last degree of Capricorn for much of 2023 (the ending of tumultuous economic and structural upheaval that began when it entered Capricorn in 2008) and Neptune reaches the last degree of Pisces in 2024. The very end of a whole Neptune cycle of 164 years – a final burst of magical and enlightened energy, or should that be confused and delusional energy? Such are the mysteries of Neptune and Pisces.

2025 astrology – creating a new shared world

By the summer of 2025, the five outer planets of astrology – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – will be in very different angular relationships (trines and sextiles) to each other than they were in the dark days of 2020 and 2021. They will also be in completely different and more actively positive signs of the zodiac.

Strong new beginnings are shown by Saturn and Neptune entering Aries, lining up with both Uranus at the beginning of Gemini and Pluto at the beginning of Aquarius. Fresh, dynamic structures and ideals (Saturn and Neptune in Aries) across the world are indicated, combinations of original communication and thinking (Uranus in Gemini) with people power and revolutionary technology (Pluto in Aquarius). Due to the combination of fire and air signs involved, the down side might be that some of this turns out to be nothing more than “hot air” but it will still be an accelerated period of forward-thinking change, continuing in 2026. Bring it on!

With thanks to the late Andre Barbauld and his book Planetary Cycles (2016), published by the UK Astrological Association. Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Tim Burness acoustic set with Nick Harper in Hove, 27.11.21

Back on the streets with Extinction Rebellion

This is what democracy looks like!

Great energy with Extinction Rebellion in both Brighton and London at the end of August and the beginning of September. Since attending the Brighton debrief session after the now legendary April 2019 rebellion, I’ve been to nearly all of the big London events.

This time I decided to get a lot more involved with the local XR Brighton group and I’m very glad I did. The Rebel Rising event in August (kind of a warm-up for London) was a great success, it felt like a village fete with an edge! Talks included advice on being arrested, given by XR arrestees. Once up in London, with the help of others from Brighton, I took part in the pink table Crisis Talks. This was one of XR’s latest strategies to encourage more participatory democracy. Helped by the recent IPCC “Code Red for humanity” report, there were many in-depth conversations with members of the public about the current situation and possible ways forward. I did a lot of listening.

One of the many interesting long chats was with a very likeable man working in recruitment for several very big financial companies in the City of London. He already knew a great deal about Extinction Rebellion. After a very long exchange about everything from greenwashing corporations to spirituality and the use of psychedelics, he left with a big smile on his face. “I’ve got a very important meeting just now actually, this will certainly start a conversation!”, he said, pointing to the XR sticker now prominently positioned on his lapel.

Major road junction occupied in Covent Garden

With a focus on the City of London, XR’s wide range of (often unreported) actions took place over a two week period – calling for an immediate ban on further investment in fossil fuels. On 23rd August and the start of the rebellion, there were many excellent inspiring speakers at the occupied road junction in Covent Garden. Later in the rebellion, I met up with good mate Joe Bridge for the Stop The Harm march, which culminated with further inspirational speeches outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Economist Kate Raworth was excellent, as was George Monbiot in this speech – We don’t do hate! We do anger! We do love!

There is much more I could write about here e.g. the press coverage or lack of, heavy-handed policing including the use of batons against non-violent protesters, and co-founder Gail Bradbrook’s jokes! But this is just a short-ish blog to put my support for XR on the record, as it were.

Do we want more capitalist business as usual, or do we want life on Earth? The politicians are currently leading us off the edge of a cliff. We must completely change our economic and political systems – individual and collective behaviour. Change is coming. Get out on the streets, everyone

Reminder that the giant corporations always have our best interests at heart – of course they do

Billie Eilish – astrological birth chart

With the second album Happier Than Ever released this week and the No Time To Die James Bond theme tune finally reaching cinemas at the end of September, 19 year old American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish continues her rise to global mega-stardom. Sun, Venus, Pluto and midheaven are all in Sagittarius at the top of her birth chart. These alone mark her out as being born with a huge potential for making a positive, energetic and inspirational impact on the world. 

Eilish began her rise to fame with the now legendary release of Ocean Eyes in November 2015. This coincided with an almost exact transiting conjunction of chart ruler Neptune to Billie’s 12th house Mars in Pisces – tapping into magical energy and illusory dreams of connection, simultaneously launching her into the 12th house collective consciousness. She released her first album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? under another Neptune transit in 2019. An unprecedented number of Grammy awards for someone so young followed

Venus in Sagittarius falls exactly on the Eilish midheaven, a position shared with David Bowie. She makes her popular mark on the world with an open-minded and exploratory approach to artistic self-expression, love and relationships. With so much Sagittarius in the chart, an exalted and protective position of Jupiter in Cancer – the sign of home and family – is important. Having been homeschooled, Eilish co-writes her songs with brother Finneas, with full support from her parents. A quick look at Finneas’s chart (born 30th July 1997) inevitably shows strongly supportive astrological synastry connections with Billie, as is common between siblings. Billie’s Venus-MC conjunction career goals are perfectly supported by her brother’s hardworking Mars-Saturn opposition – a trine from Saturn in Aries and a sextile from Mars in Libra.

Birth chart for Billie Eilish from https://www.astro.com

All change with Moon in Aquarius

Up until March this year, Billie Eilish had a very definite style, an often colourful but downtempo “anti-image”. Suddenly in March, she became a blonde bombshell and soon after a photoshoot in Vogue magazine shockingly portrayed her in corset and stockings. The Saturn-Uranus square transiting her 11th house Moon (and to some extent Neptune) in Aquarius stands out as important for 2021. The first conjunction of Saturn to her 11th house Moon in Aquarius was approaching in March, when the posting of her new hairstyle to her Instagram followers – over 87 million at the time of writing this article – received a million likes in six minutes. In June, transiting Uranus squared her Moon for the first time. Natal Moon in Aquarius is known for reacting unpredictably and individualistically – add a transiting square from Uranus and anything could happen! The Aquarian truth-seeking, emotional freedom and social conscience have all been clearly on display in interviews building up to the release of the new album.

The album Happier Than Ever is “dropped” (as they like to say now – we old-timers prefer “released”, like a tiger or maybe a hamster from a cage. Presumably the album is picked up again after being dropped…) this week and all the early signs are that it’s another massive success. Building on themes she has explored in earlier material, new songs such as the single Your Power get right to the point. With natal Pluto both conjunct Venus and square her Ascendant/Descendant axis, the darkness is never far away for Billie Eilish. 

The aspirational Sagittarius Sun forms a close conjunction to the Moon’s South Node in Billie’s birth chart, indicating that she is likely to feel a sense of fated “been there, done that” at times, as if her wisdom has been inherited from previous lifetimes. Her Gemini North Node emphasises communication and adaptability in this lifetime. There is also a mutual reception between Mercury in Capricorn and Saturn in Gemini – taking serious responsibility for her words and developing control and maturity around communication is a major life challenge. 

Born in 2001, Eilish is part of the Uranus and Neptune in Aquarius with Pluto in Sagittarius generation, a powerfully idealistic and future-orientated group. It’s an obvious cliche, but with her Sun in Sagittarius and Moon in Aquarius, Billie Eilish could truly be said to be a spokesperson of her generation. With Pisces rising, a predominance of mutable signs and an unpredictable Aquarian side, there will no doubt be many more changes to come.

The above is an edited version of a 1200-word article, which will appear in the September-October 2021 issue of the Astrological Journal magazine https://www.facebook.com/AstrologicalJournal This is the bimonthly publication of the Astrological Association http://www.astrologicalassociation.com dedicated to educating the public on astrology since 1958.

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Less Is More – How Degrowth Will Save The World by Jason Hickel

Brilliantly joining the dots in a post-capitalist world

Economic anthropologist Jason Hickel leaves no stone unturned in this visionary and sharp analysis. This is a book about the climate and ecological emergency and how to solve it.

The first half of the book is a detailed overview of everything that is wrong and the root causes. The origins of capitalism are explored, particularly during the few hundred years leading up to the Industrial Revolution – how it rose on the back of organised violence, mass impoverishment and “the systematic destruction of self-sufficient subsistence economies”. A world view that separated humans from nature helped economic growth to became more important than human or planetary needs. Since the 1980s, “growthism” in developed countries such as the UK and USA has gone completely crazy.

Part two is all about the solutions. Hickel looks at the unquestioned assumptions of so-called progress. After a certain point, increased economic growth corresponds with a large number of social problems such as rising inequality, political instability and the deterioration of people’s physical and mental health. Chapter 5 outlines steps we need to take in order to survive – “Once we understand that we can flourish without growth, our horizons suddenly open up”. Hickel suggests ending planned obsolescence, cutting advertising, a shift from ownership to usership, ending food waste, and scaling down ecologically destructive industries. He goes on to look at how capitalism is organised around the constant manufacturing of scarcity – degrowth calls for abundance in order to render growth unnecessary.

In the final chapter, “Everything Is Connected”, the author presents a deeper opportunity for healing and recovery from the mess we are in. Learning from indigenous communities, we can develop a genuinely ecological world view and way of being. Behave as if all of reality is intimately interconnected – because it is.

One of the UK’s leading social landlords – Sanctuary Housing

The Book of Music Horoscopes

First class collection of short essays, birth data and birth charts

Masterfully compiled in 2018 by well known UK astrologer Frank Clifford, The Book Of Music Horoscopes features over 500 birth charts of famous pop, rock, soul, country and jazz performers. There are over 30 essays on the astrology of music, contributed by a wide range of experienced astrologers. With one or two brief exceptions, classical music and musicians are not covered.

Amongst the more well-known astrologers featured, Steven Forrest writes on Neptune’s journey through the signs, looking at the corresponding myths and moods for each 15-year time period since the 1940s. Psychological astrologer Lynn Bell contributes a piece on The Moon, the Musician and the Listening Public, which includes a brief analysis of Joni Mitchell’s chart.

Other short essays include a detailed look at the birth charts of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page by Mandi Lockley, Dave Grohl’s chart by Michelle Young and Madonna by Deborah Perera. I am proud to have contributed The Aquarian, Uranian Nature of Progressive Rock to the book, a slightly different version of which can be found here. Depending on taste, one or two of the essays are perhaps not up to the high standard on show, but overall this is a great book – tons of info and plenty to keep the reader entertained in general !

Why haven’t we tackled the ecological crisis and what can we do about it?

The following is a recent keynote speech for Nesta FutureFest by Dr. Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. A few pictures added by me. Available to view on FuturePlayer http://bit.ly/FuturePlayer

In these coronavirus times it’s common and understandable to hear people longing for when we can get back to normal. But “Normal” was responsible for creating pandemics and normal was not prepared for crises of its own making. Normal should have been prepared for the coronavirus crisis because pandemics were named as the most impactful, high-likelihood event on the Cabinet Office National Risk Register created as a result of the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act.

The coronavirus pandemic is of its time and also a shape of things to come. It is a white swan event. Look around and see all the swans! A variety of crises are already here or clearly on their way, with global south countries especially on the frontline as well as the most vulnerable people in our country. A coroner recently made legal history in the UK by ruling that air pollution was a cause of the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah. Researchers believe that 1 in 19 deaths in the UK are linked to air pollution.

Other white swan crises include devastating floods, water shortages, antibiotics and anti-fungal resistance, a crisis of soil fertility and of production of food from the sea and on the land.

Our bodies contain chemical and plastic pollutants that we can’t get rid of; except that a mother offloads her toxic build up of dioxins and PFOA, etc, onto her baby, through her placenta and her breast milk. We are setting mothers up to literally poison their babies with their own bodies (breast is still best).

Let’s really pay attention to what we are talking about here — we are living on the most beautiful, life-filled planet, and we are both annihilating it and removing the support systems that sustain us: the pollinators, the aquifers, the fertile soil, the glaciers that regulate water flow and temperature, that are leaving us right now.

A “Frontiers” science paper from January this year — authored by 17 ecological scientists, in institutions spanning the globe, said:

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its life forms — including humanity — is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp even for well informed experts”.

They go on to state: “Ours is not a call to surrender — we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future”.

How could we have failed to act and continue to do so, how can our so-called plans be so deeply inadequate? It is a time requiring a true emergency response, not unlike that of a war economy, though I prefer to think of a postwar reconstruction — we have been and are at war with nature.

Have we failed so badly because of the ‘tragedy of the horizon’? — — because the crisis is not affecting us enough now for us to step up and act. This is the hypothesis of the former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, from his 2020 Reith Lecture. Can that really be the case, even with the wildfires and the experience of Covid19? Covid, as a zoonotic disease, is a clear example of nature’s response to our abuse.

I would argue there has been and continues to be a systemic failure of leadership, within the media, business and of course politics. This is not to discount those voices who are and have been shouting as loudly as they can, though I might suggest to them that doing so whilst glued to a government building will add much amplification to their messages 🙂

A 2016 report called Thinking the Unthinkable, based on interviews with leaders across the world, made it clear that our leaders are perilously inadequate at facing the very real possibility of extremely difficult, non-normative events.

I believe our leaders are rendered unwilling, by the culture of our political economy, to confront the reality we find ourselves in. It’s a culture that has led to a new market in the building of bunkers for the super rich, in an attempt to survive what is called “The Event” when our civilisation collapses.

We are not simply talking of significant risk and harm here, rather of existential risk.

An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Last June the government’s own climate change committee issued a warning that we should prepare for a 4 degree warmer world, despite having said in 2008 “The Committee’s judgement… is that if a 4°C rise were reached, extreme consequences potentially beyond our ability to adapt would arise”. In fact, there is, according to Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre, a widespread view that 4°C is:

  • incompatible with an organised global community
  • beyond ‘adaptation’
  • devastating to eco-systems
  • And highly unlikely to be stable

We can’t be sure of when impacts will arrive and and how deep they will be, because the climate science community is still figuring out climate sensitivity effects. But Sir David King, former government Chief Scientific Advisor, is not alone in believing that we are already breaching climate tipping points and that we do not really have any so-called carbon budget left.

Also there are second and third order effects that arise with overlapping crises; thus outside the domain of physical sciences. They are studied via a variety of disciplines which feed into a lesser known branch of social science: collapsology. The path we are on — based on actual emissions as opposed to inadequate and unmet promises, points towards the collapse of our civilisation, endless war, famine, and billions of people dying.

Crimes Against Humanity are being committed right now on a vast scale. It really is hard to get your head around.

So let’s stop pretending we have got this one, or we are about to sort it out. We’ve failed. We have passed thresholds, meaning we are in the age of consequences and the severity of those consequences depends on our ability to prepare, to adapt; and the extent and urgency with which we are willing to go into full, effective and meaningful, emergency mode.

The “Frontiers” authors go on to ask: “what political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action?”

And then they state: “The predominant paradigm is still one of pegging ‘environment’ against ‘economy’; yet in reality, the choice is between exiting overshoot by design or disaster — because exiting overshoot is inevitable one way or another”.

The public are with them it seems. A recent survey by B lab UK says that 76%* of the UK population believe that capitalism either isn’t working properly or is harmful AND 72%* believe that businesses should have a legal responsibility to the planet and people, alongside maximising profits.

As Mark Carney states: “The current generation, with our horizon fixated on the current news, business and political cycles, has few direct incentives to solve the issue, even though the sooner we act, the less costly it will be; for an issue that can only be solved in the present, we have to value the future.”

While hinting at the systemic nature of our predicament, Dr. Carney falls short of naming that the current system actively incentives harmful behaviour, keeps us focussed on the current, with little ability to care for the future (bear in mind the future means our children’s lives), as well as containing feedback loops that shape our values. The $560 billion global advertising industry, growing in their power to shape consumerism, the algorithms in social media, deciding what we see, and so on.

It is known from the work of ‘The Spirit Level’ authors, Wilkinson and Pickett, for example, that income inequality affects trust, many aspects of personal and social wellbeing and our ability to consider and act on climate change. The richest 10% are also responsible for 50% of emissions and if we were to bring the carbon footprint of the richest down to that of the average european, emissions would go down by a third. Meanwhile global south countries are not in a position to pay for measures to transition to a green economy, due to vast wealth inequalities between countries. This is caused in large part by the systemic looting enabled by secrecy jurisdictions, aka tax havens, and the biggest facilitator of this neo-colonial plunder is the UK and our crown dependencies and overseas territories. If we want to work together on this, we need to stop rigging the system, in a way that is costing governments of the world the equivalent of an annual nurses salary every second.

This is a time for truth telling and speaking out and I’m especially calling on leaders of institutions and businesses to come out and make career risking statements about the inability of our current political economy to address the apocalyptic situation we are in.

I was once invited into the inner sanctum of a ‘corporate responsibility’ retreat in a FTSE100 tech company to be a ‘critical friend’. The senior manager who was there said to the group, ‘I love this company, I feel like I can be my true self here and say what I think’. In my session, I said to the group, ‘Here is the evidence of your wholesale tax dodging. How can you pretend to care about inclusion and then participate in such inequality-creating corruption?’. In the coffee break, the same senior manager took me quietly to one side and said: ‘Thank you so much for saying what you did — there’s no way I could have done that’.

Where are the business leaders with the backbone to risk their careers for the truth? Those who can admit that many corporate business models would collapse if the ‘externalities’ of pollution, biodiversity loss, health impacts, and social costs were internalised? Business models built around aggressively persuading people to buy things they don’t need, things that will soon break through built-in obsolescence.

When will business leaders admit that the straight-jacket of profit over purpose incentivises the damaging of our world? When will they call out the absurdity of a system that insists on growth regardless of whether social and environmental wellbeing is growing too? Can they truly stomach a system that enables monopoly power and erodes democracy? A system where money, funnelled through a global network of corruption, buys advantage; subverts the media; manipulates behaviour; and weaponises big data?

It is time to speak out, the political economy emperor has no clothes on and it needs to be said by you, business and institutional leaders. The path we are on can easily lead to fascism; hear the call of your greater responsibility here.

Questioning the status quo is often dismissed as ‘extremist’ or ‘anti-capitalist’, but all I’m doing here is calling for a system that puts measures in place to protect life. What’s extremist about that? Don’t we all want to live? We shouldn’t have to protect the economy, as if it is an emergent natural phenomenon — it isn’t- we have choice — the economy we choose should protect us. There’s a bounty of ideas for better economic systems, which prioritise the wellbeing of people and planet. I’m asking us all to set aside preciously held ideological positions, to have a coming together, a grown up conversation. There’s a bounty of ideas for making incremental system changes — this isn’t about pulling some huge lever that points from one system to another whilst foregoing all the immediate action we could be taking. And, there are 9 different schools of economic theory all with things to offer. Many economies are in reality a blend of approaches.

So this is not about throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water — if business and markets within the current set up can rapidly decarbonise our energy systems, then let it happen soon, though without furthering global injustice.

The ecological crisis isn’t all about carbon however. We need to consume less and lower our energy usage. The IPCC has been clear on that point. Where is the systemic drive for that? Why isn’t the system willing to step into a wartime economy, as it has had to before when faced with other existential threats?

Let us be honest- this isn’t a failure of the system- the system is working perfectly well, with its goal to convert nature and human labour into profit and economic growth…

The political economy is wedded to GDP growth. Growth requiring extractivism, consumerism, and “excretivism”- plunder, gorge and waste. The logic of cancer. Growthism advocates are trying to tell us a new fairy tale where we magically can now have green growth.

A two part literature review essentially seeking evidence for green economic growth, assessed 835 papers, screened from a base of 11,500. The authors stated “We conclude that large rapid absolute reductions of resource use and greenhouse gas emissions cannot be achieved through observed decoupling rates, hence decoupling needs to be complemented by sufficiency-oriented strategies and strict enforcement of absolute reduction targets.” In plain english we can have growth or we can avoid a climate and ecological catastrophe. The argument that we can have both, is untrue.

This does not preclude growth in certain sectors or in countries whose economies are developing. But overall we need to let go of GDP as if it is measuring something only positive and work with other measure sets, several already designed, that include measures of ecological, social and personal wellness.

Ha Joon Chang, a reader of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge has said that a foundation of democracy is ordinary citizens challenging economists, because power politics are far more important in determining what policies get implemented than economic theories.

Citizens Assemblies at national, regional and international levels have been used to tackle challenging issues and there is a growing body of work understanding how to optimise their effectiveness. In such deliberative processes, ordinary citizens could work with economists, and other experts, to assess issues that are contributing to humanity’s crisis point and help design alternatives.

There seems to me to be a desperate attachment to a “no value lost” transition — leaders are hoping for incremental, “politically-realistic” changes from a business-as-usual mindset, dominated by vested interests. We are playing a lethal game of appeasement with nature. Can we stop lying to ourselves? We fucked up and there’s a price to pay. And those with the most resources have to pay it- as in times of post war reconstruction.

So we are experiencing a kind of denialism, a form of bargaining. And this includes pernicious greenwashing. Listen to what Barclays, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and BlackRock have to say about their green credentials and then look at who is funding the destruction of the Amazon and new fossil fuels across the world.

The capture of rational thought has gone so far that a so called Nobel prize for economics in 2018 was given to William Nordhaus who suggested 4 degrees of warming was actually optimal (this work has been thoroughly debunked by Professor Steve Keen but the damage is done, the work helped to shape and justify policy thinking for years).

The political economy is a manifestation of a diseased way of thinking and feeling. A disease that has, however, not infected humanity forever, as far as I can tell. And it does not seem to infect all cultures. Indigenous people in the algonquin languages name this disease Wetiko. We are so infected with it, it can be hard for us to imagine living differently.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a scientist and decorated professor, as well as an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In Braiding Sweetgrass she describes that when she asks her students for examples of how humans are destroying nature, they provide her with plenty. When she asks how humans interact with nature in a way that is beneficial to nature, the class is silent.

With sweetgrass disappearing from its historic locales, Robin and her students wanted to find out how harvesting practices might be causing its demise. In one method pickers pull the whole plant up from the roots, in another they snap the plant off near its roots. They carried out a field trial, observing both methods alongside a control area where no harvesting took place.

The result showed the sweetgrass actually thrived with either method of harvesting, if the indigenous wisdom law of leaving more than half unharvested, was honoured. Surprisingly, the place of most demise were the control areas, where no harvesting took place at all. So sweetgrass wants us to pick her, we are in a reciprocal relationship so long as we honour the agreement.

What relationships do we need to have with nature in these modern times? And I really mean relationships. What agreements do we need to honour? Where are these questions being asked in the mainstream discourse in tackling the ecological crisis? They need to be foundational. We can set this right.

Another name for wetiko is patriarchy. A paradigm of domination, of one group by another, of humanity over nature, one that leaves us feeling powerless, separated and with a sense of scarcity. The shift that we need is profound. Systemic shifts can be both fed by and be an enabler of the shifts we make internally, as individuals and within our communities.

There are other forms of power coming into the force- the power of what Miki Kashtan calls the soft qualities — traditionally seen as feminine and accessible by all of us regardless of gender. The power of humility and vulnerability, the power of truly feeling these times, then of letting go of the attachments we have to the numbing comfort and status afforded to some of us, telling the full truth of what we are bearing witness to.

There is a true force in the power of no longer giving a shit what the system will do to punish you if you step out of line. Thus the power of collective action, especially civil disobedience, which expresses the inflammation of a system that is diseased.

In Extinction Rebellion’s Money Rebellion we are organising financial civil disobedience and actions targeting banks and economic institutions calling for change. This includes conditional commitments where some are pledging to withhold mortgage payments if others join them. It includes taking out loans with banks and giving the money to those resisting and repairing the harm that is being caused by the bank, with the rebel having little if any intention of repaying. Some of us will withhold the percentage amount of tax money that the UK Government is using to fund destruction, such as through the subsidising of fossil fuels- we are the worst offenders in Europe- and projects like HS2 and the road building programme. We do this in solidarity with those who can’t afford the debts they have, and mass non payment therein may be considered by some.

Space for dialogue and change can arise when you disrupt the operation of “normal”.

The demands of XR Money Rebellion, targeting government, banks and wider institutions, are:

  • Tell the truth: our political economy distorts priorities and rewards harmful behaviour; it is hard-wired to create crises and destroy life; we must set aside differences and confront why we have failed to act.
    Act now to stop financing and enabling destruction, fully disclose their social, climate and ecological impacts, and reorientate their purpose to minimise harm, repair the damage, and prepare for crises.
  • Champion Citizens’ Assemblies at all key levels, including global, with mandates to design a regenerative political economy in service to all people and life on earth.

There is already greater interest in transformative approaches to democracy- so that we can (in George Monbiot’s words) rewild democracy, bringing it back to the people, through deliberative processes like citizens assemblies and participatory budgeting.

So I don’t want to go back to normal, but what I do want us to do, is to reimagine what a new normal might look like.

Where climate anxiety can debilitate or create panic stricken burn-out, facing and feeling our grief and remorse together, has proved to be liberating, opening up the space for imagination, courage and vision.

Let our grief and remorse break us open in a way that means we are ready to build a new world, as this paradigm falls to pieces around us.

In the words of Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins, let us move from What Is to What If

  • What If we redesigned our economy and our production so it mimicked nature — abundance within boundaries and nothing wasted?
  • What If we redesigned our democracy, so that it was orientated towards providing our basic needs, repairing the harm we have done and planning for, and adapting to, the crises to come?
  • What If we cancelled HS2 and used the money instead to support our farmers to transition from factory farming, pesticides and fossil fuel fertilisers, to agro-ecology, which offers one of the biggest hopes for carbon capture and storage- in healthy, life filled soils.
  • What If a Global Citizens Assembly, and there’s one on the way inshallah, brought our beautiful human family together to address systemic issues? Like tackling our corrupt global tax system. Like bringing about a global crime of Ecocide. Like redesigning the foundations of business so that it is purpose led?
  • What If we prioritised using all the latest knowledge to rapidly heal from the trauma we are all carrying, in different ways, our own version of wetiko, to restore our dignity and free our capacity?
  • What If we decided to repair the harm caused by years of colonialism and racism?
  • What If we used our skills where they were most needed, with a deep sense of living in our purpose, on the way to becoming worthy ancestors?
  • Rob Hopkins has a book full of these “What IF’s” and I’m sure you have your own..

SO What If we all took part in civil disobedience, refusing en masse, in meaningful and mischievous ways, to participate in a system that is killing life on earth? What If we did that in solidarity with all the communities of resistance across the exploited world? And What If that sparked the change that so many of us are longing for…

I’ll end with this quote that I love from Martin Pretchel’s book, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, recounting his time living as a shaman with Mayan people :

“Mayan tradition does not teach that the Gods want people to be sinless or perfect, but they believe that the Gods love beauty, eloquence, fine clothes, great music, fine poems, bravery, high animal spirits and gratitude.”

Thank you.

Gail Bradbrook

Stephen Arroyo – a modern master of astrology

Stephen Arroyo - Astrodienst Astrowiki

It is fairly safe to say that Stephen Arroyo would be included in any list of the most influential and popular western astrologers over the last fifty years. Arroyo’s books have been translated into over 25 languages and continue to make their mark on the world. Several of them are still astrological bestsellers. 

Beginning with the groundbreaking 1975 debut of Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements, Arroyo’s work has masterfully integrated astrology, psychology and related fields such as counselling and spirituality. Various astrological organizations, including the Astrological Association, have awarded him prizes through the years. Arroyo’s books are characterized by an intelligent and accessible approach using clear, precise language. 

A quick look at Stephen Arroyo’s chart (born at 5.35 pm in Kansas City, Missouri on 6th October, 1946) shows an Air emphasis, with Sun in Libra and Moon in Aquarius. The best of both show up in his writings – an often beautiful presentation of original ideas, with a charming and quirky sense of humour never far away. Close aspects between the inner and outer planets, including Sun sextile Pluto and Moon trine Uranus, show a cosmic kind of guy! A more challenging close square between ruling planet Mars in Scorpio and Saturn in Leo has no doubt been a motivating creative force.  

The new book

Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Methods and Meaning (2019)

The new collection of Stephen Arroyo writings was released at the end of 2019, a small volume and an ideal companion to his previous books. Those familiar with Arroyo’s work will recognize familiar themes but there are various snippets of new information and fresh perspectives too. 

The first chapter is a detailed interview with Arroyo, previously published in both a Serbian astrological magazine and The Mountain Astrologer. Arroyo answers a range of questions and describes how he initially came across astrology through studying psychologist Carl Jung, then going on on to study and build on the work of astrologers such as Dane Rudhyar and Charles Carter. Elsewhere in the book, Arroyo explores familiar themes of clarity, simplicity and viewing the chart from a holistic perspective. “Polish that lens… because astrology is a way of seeing… that’s why it depends so much on the individual practitioner and his or her personality and level of consciousness.” (p. 46) 

Going against current trends for cramming the birth chart full of “extras”, the author cautions against using too many factors in chart interpretation. Do astrologers want to help people understand their lives and themselves more clearly, or do they want to confuse the client by adding more and more detail, so that eventually just about anything can be rationalized. Arroyo keeps a focus on the fundamentals of the birth chart, including an interpretive technique using Subtones.

Whilst fully embracing astrology’s healing power and the huge potential for contributing to and interacting with both psychology and science, Stephen Arroyo also stresses the need for humility on the part of astrologers and astrology. As usual, he is pointing the way forward.

Previous books

Astrology, Karma and Transformation: Inner Dimensions of the Birth Chart (1978)

Still a modern classic and great for beginners or advancedastrologers. This has been something of an “astrological bible” to many. The depth of Arroyo’s writing here is extraordinary and the author has said that Saturn and Pluto transits were involved when he wrote it. Perhaps the only criticism is that so much is packed into one single book, sometimes in the form of very long sentences. But this is hardly a complaint.

The outer planets are covered extensively with many examples of aspects and transits to the birth charts of people with relatively ordinary lives. This makes a refreshing change from astrological literature that deals only with famous people, or people with severe problems of one kind or another. The chapter on Saturn is excellent, particularly the journey of Saturn through the twelve houses. 

This book is not only full of essential contemporary astrology. Arroyo also draws on his considerable experience of other tools for spiritual and psychological growth. He has a background in marriage and family counselling (see chapter on Karma and relationships), and his many references to various spiritual teachers, Eastern religions, Western psychology and the Edgar Cayce psychic readings add to the spiritual power of Arroyo’s writing.

Chart Interpretation Handbook: Guidelines for Understanding the Essentials of the Birth Chart (1989)

Some astrologers consider this the best basic astrological chart interpretation book on planet Earth! For anyone interested in understanding the essentials of astrological birth chart interpretation, this is an excellent starting point.

Arroyo builds on his other internationally best-selling astrology books here. In fact some of the content is directly lifted from previous work (e.g. Astrology, Karma and Transformation) but the book is no less value for money as a result. Step by step, Arroyo uses clear, modern language to reveal the essential meanings of any birth chart. Wisdom and clear intelligent insights spring from every page and even an experienced astrologer can benefit from Arroyo’s imaginative and precise use of language.

Unlike some of Arroyo’s early work, the Chart Interpretation Handbook is nicely laid out, due no doubt to the editing skills of Jerilynn Marshall who Arroyo enthusiastically acknowledges. It’s all here: the four elements and the twelve signs, key concepts for the planets, the planets in the signs, the ascendant and midheaven, the houses and planetary aspects. And, true to Arroyo’s sense of humour (always bubbling away beneath the profound depth of his writing), there’s even a couple of cartoons.

Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements: An Energy Approach to Astrology and its Use in the Counselling Arts (1975)

Astrology, Psychology & the Four Elements by Stephen Arroyo · OverDrive:  ebooks, audiobooks, and videos for libraries and schools

Another classic and a genuinely pioneering book that still reads well today. Arroyo presents a language of energy that helped establish a new field of astrological psychology, ushering in at least some degree of acceptance of depth astrology, both in the helping professions and by the general public.

Arroyo transcends the boundaries of astrology and psychology, developing key words and concepts for the astrological elements and houses. Depending on where you are with your astrological studies, this book could be read as more of an intermediate level text. It is not an introductory cookbook describing planets and signs of the zodiac.

Arroyo aims at a deep and sophisticated understanding of the fundamental energies involved in astrology and does a great job.

Person-to-Person Astrology: Energy Factors in Love, Sex and Compatibility (2007)

Perhaps lacking the punch of his earlier work, this is still very high quality writing. The author commented that it was written more for the general reader and independent thinker.

The first few chapters explore a wide range of issues related to both astrology’s lack of widespread acceptance and the problems of forming healthy relationships in the modern world. Arroyo refers to the “mass psychosis” of the modern Western lifestyle that bombards us with commercial images and unrealistic expectations. Our ability to form relationships with each other is one area that suffers as a result. The author suggests that if more people opened their minds to what serious astrology has to offer, they would find a much-needed, precise, insightful tool for self-understanding.

Arroyo gradually moves on to explore astrological basics such as the four elements, the twelve signs and the rising sign. The personal planets and relationships are covered in great depth, with countless everyday quotes and examples from many years of observation. 

Relationships And Life Cycles: Astrological Patterns of Personal Experience (1979)

Book Review: Relationships & Life Cycles by Stephen Arroyo | RealAstrologers

A masterful and entertaining volume on the astrology of relationships. Early in the prologue, Arroyo explains his approach here: “Sometimes one must concentrate on tuning in on the LIVING nature of ideas by having fun with them, and this can often be more significant for students of astrology than systematic and dry attempts to be deep and meaningful”.

The majority of “Relationships And Life Cycles” is comprised of workshop transcriptions, much of these being naturally presented in a question and answer format. There are five sections: The Individual’s Capacity For Relationship, Techniques Of Chart Comparison, The Use Of The Houses In Chart Comparison, Understanding Transits, Some Thoughts On Astrological Counselling.

Numerous astrological perspectives on common everyday relationship experiences are scattered throughout the text. At the same time, all the theoretical basics are covered e.g. the Sun and the Moon, Venus and Mars in the different signs of the zodiac, aspects between the charts of two people (particularly involving the planet of commitment, Saturn). The section Understanding Transits could almost be a separate book in itself, there is an excellent few pages here on the journey of Jupiter and Saturn through the different houses of the birth chart.

Exploring Jupiter: Astrological Key to Progress, Prosperity and Potential (1996)

This book is the very essence of Jupiter. From its apt title, to its generous use of many famous chart examples, to Arroyo’s trademark insight and wisdom on every page, Exploring Jupiter is positively a winner.

While outlining a framework for understanding Jupiter in the first chapter, the author comments: “…I cannot help but feel that Jupiter’s bigness and broad vision is inextricably linked to the perennial human search for a larger truth and for an experience of oneness with the universe”. The range of natal charts throughout the book reflects this, each one accompanied by a brief biographical account and astrological notes. Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, Eleanor Roosevelt, Michael Jordan, Robert Redford, William Blake are just a few of the charts covered.

Arroyo refers to Jupiter’s ancient rulership of Pisces as being significant, and the book is written with this in mind. Otherwise much of the book is built on the standard cookbook approach: Jupiter through the signs, Jupiter through the houses (arranged by element), Jupiter aspects in the birth chart and so on. The chapter on transits involving Jupiter is particularly good.

Practicing the Cosmic Science: Key Insights in Modern Astrology (1999) 

El extranjero » Blog Archive » Practicing the Cosmic Science. Key insights  in modern astrology, by Stephen Arroyo

A very broad range of often neglected issues are covered here. Many of them will be familiar to anyone who has been practising astrology for a number of years. For those starting out, the observations, insights and suggestions will be tremendously supportive.

Arroyo uses many excellent quotes from a vast range of sources to discuss astrology and its position in the modern world. Is it a science, a language, or a healing tool? What can it show you? Can it inspire you? Can it help you understand what other human beings and you yourself are going through in this life? What are the skills and qualifications necessary to be a good astrologer? How much should you charge? What kind of one to one connection can we make with other people? Do we have the necessary listening and communicating skills?

Since 1999 when this book was written, things have perhaps got better for anyone attempting to practice intelligent and genuinely consciousness-raising astrology. Most obviously, an increasing percentage of western society are now aware that astrology is not just about newspaper horoscopes. On the other hand, some changes in society are mixed blessings. As discussed in chapter 7, widespread use of computers by astrologers has cut out lots of tedious calculations, but the valuable period spent pondering the birth chart may be lost, thus potentially lowering the quality of interpretation. Similarly, although not anti-technology, Arroyo observes “there is a general degradation of standards in virtually every field that is widely promoted on the internet”. Twenty years later, these comments are more relevant than when they were first written.

The above article was originally published in Journal, the magazine of the Astrological Association https://www.facebook.com/AstrologicalJournal Thank you to editor Victor Olliver. This is the bimonthly publication of the Astrological Association http://www.astrologicalassociation.com dedicated to educating the public on astrology since 1958.

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

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