“Still it (Earth) moves” and astrology

People who argue against astrology insist that its pseudoscientific nature is clearly evident by the fact that the ancient art of astrology is based on the geocentric model of the universe.  The argument is very convincing, especially in the light of the epic enlightenment fight against the medieval dogmas. 

The story of the battle between the geocentric and heliocentric models of the solar system involves three erudite men, the Catholic Church, its Inquisition, and a humiliating apology. 

In the beginning was a man called Claudius Ptolemy (85-165BC). He lived in Alexandria, Egypt, wrote in Greek and was a citizen of the Roman Empire. He was an exceptional mathematician, geographer and astronomer. He proposed a geocentric model of the universe. In it the Earth was the still centre of the solar system. The Moon, Mercury, Venus and Sun were revolving around it and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were orbiting the Earth beyond the Sun. 

Ptolemy was not the first astronomer to present a model of the universe. Three and a half centuries before him Aristarchus of Samos suggested a model where Earth was revolving around the Sun. Unfortunately, he was not able to prove his theory in strong contrast with Ptolemy whose model allowed accurate predictions of the planetary positions and solar and lunar eclipses. 

Therefore for the next 14 centuries the geocentrism was the dominant view of the universe. The Catholic Church had endorsed it as it aligned with the Holy Scriptures. 

Until a man dared to questioned it. His name was Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). He was a real Renaissance man – mathematician, astronomer, physician and diplomat. He spoke his native Polish and German, wrote in Latin, understood Greek and Italian. He studied at the University of Krakow, the University of Bologna and the University of Padua.

In 1514 he presented his heliocentric idea that the Earth revolves around its axis and at the same time orbits the Sun. Afraid of the reaction of the extremely powerful Catholic Church he agreed to publish his book “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” at the end of his life and the legend goes that he woke up from his coma on his death bed just to see the book. 

It took 70 years for the Catholic Church to react to the book. In 1616 the Church issued a decree condemning the book and suspending it until it was corrected. 

17 years later another independent thinker called Galileo Galilei found new evidence for the heliocentric theory. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa (1564-1642) and became interested in astronomy when he was 31 years old. He used a self-made telescope to observe the sky and planets. He published his book “Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems” in 1632 in which he indirectly supported the Copernicus theory.

The book angered the Church and Galilei withstood a trial in front of the Inquisition. He was threaten by torture and sentenced to life imprisonment. Another legendary story says that even though he agreed to conform, leaving the trial he said “ Still it (Earth) moves”. It became an iconic phrase which we say when we stand up for our truth in the face of dark forces.  

Scholars did not accept heliocentrism until 1687 when the remarkable scientist Isaac Newton formulated the law of universal gravitation. The law explained how gravity could cause the planets to orbit the massive Sun and why the small moons around Jupiter and Earth orbit their home planets. 

It took two century for the Catholic Church to remove the Copernicus book from the Index of Prohibited Books. In 1992 Pope John Paul II expressed regret at the way the Church handled the matter and acknowledged the error. 

So, where is the place of astrology in this story? The answer to this question is easy and simple. Astrology does not endorse the geocentric model as it seems to at first glance. Astrology is interested in how the planets and stars affect the life of people on planet Earth. The point of  astrological observation is focused on the Earth and therefore the Earth is in the centre of the zodiac.  Still it moves, doesn’t it! 



Find out who you are -Part 2

The best approach to the ancient art of astrology is to accept its advisory nature. Consequently, the possible reaction to astrological advice could vary from complete ignorance of the information to taking action (internal or external) upon it. It is a choice people make.

Nevertheless, if you are interested in the quality of astrological advice you need to ensure you are not at the receiving end of wrong advice. In order to do that you need to find out what your ascendant sign is. (What is the ascendant you could find in my post, Find who you are – Part 1).

Personally, it took me a long time to realise that popular horoscopes in newspapers and magazines, on the websites and YouTube channels are based on the ascendant signs and not on the sun sign as I and many others assumed. 

So, if you are like me and read your astrological sun sign predictions and complain that nothing predicted and anticipated happened, it is because you read the wrong forecast. You need to look at the prediction for your ascendant sign – for example, I have Taurus ascendant and Libra sun so I must read the Taurus horoscope, not the Libra one.

Astrology works with planets and connections between them, with zodiac signs and zodiac houses. All these parts are organised in a certain way in the birthday zodiac chart. The organiser is the ascendant. So, if you read that your 6th house of health and routines is governed by Venus or Mars it is because your ascendant sign is Taurus. Or if you are Leo ascendent your 7th house of one-to-one relationships will be ruled by Uranus. 

The system could be described as similar to your house. In your house there are private rooms such as bathrooms and bedrooms, living rooms for more public life, studies for work or hobbies and a basement and attic for secrets, memories and ghosts. But the most important part of the house is the outside door – you enter the house through this door. That is your ascendant – where you face the world and the world meets you. That gives the ascendant a vital quality, a very important characteristic. The ascendant shows how the world perceives us.

You must grasp the huge difference – the ascendant shows how other people see us not how we see ourselves. Between these two experiences lies a huge field of different perceptions. 

Take the recent case of Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister. He thought of himself as a tough master who implements crucial reforms. His subordinates and advisors however regarded him as a bully. (His a    scendant is Leo).

So, the ascendant sign could show us not only what people will say about us in private conversations or professional surveys but it indicates our blind spots in our interactions with others. Furthermore, the ascendant defines these first 30 seconds during which people form their impression of us. Will they like us or not? Our ascendant sign is to blame for the answer.

Pourquoi pas La Boheme!?

Christchurch local theatre, The Regent Centre, scored really high this week. 
After the recent broadcasting of the exquisite performance of Puccini’s opera Turandot by the Royal House of Opera, on Tuesday the theatre showcased the most loved Puccini opera La Boheme.
What a joy for all opera lovers in the area! 
The theatre was packed despite the dreadful weather. The wonderful staff were doing a fantastic job as usual. They were especially good at politely leading the late comers to their seats when the show already started.
The event was organised by the Hurn Court Opera charity. 
This charity gives the opportunity to young, promising singers to express their talents and to have much needed experience on stage.
Although La Boheme is an opera from the19th century, the story still resonates deeply with the endeavours and desires of any generation.
The dominant theme is tragic love –  at the end,  the flower-girl Mimi dies in the arms of her lover the poet Rudolfo.
Yet, the opera has many another layers. In its centre are four penniless young artists, – the poet Rudolfo, the painter Marcello, the musician Schaunard and the philosopher Colline. They live in the Latin Quarter of Paris and grapple to buy food and heat their rooms in the cold winter. 
But the four friends share everything in the most selfless, generous way. 
Rudolfo burns his manuscript to warm the room for his friends. 
Schaundard earns some money from an eccentric English gentlemen and he buys food for his friends and takes them to the cafe Momus to celebrate Christmas. 
When Mimi is dying, Mussetta, the lover of Marccelo, sells her earrings to ensure Mimi has medication and a muff. 
Colline sells his warm winter coat to raise the money needed for Mimi’s care. 
The opera audience does not know whether the four artists are talented or not. 
What the audience gets to know is that all of them are fully dedicated to their creative pursuits and nothing, even very dramatic circumstances, could make them earn money in more mundane jobs. Is that suffering in the name of art or stupidity? 
On the other hand, when the four friends do have money the party goes on. They love beautiful women and they give them treasured presents. They accept that their lovers live with rich sugar daddies  and at the same time suffer jealousy. They support the love affairs of their landlord but are deeply morally offended by the fact that he is married. 
Who says human beings are rational?
The artists of the Hurn Court Opera told the story passionately. 
Their performance was a breath of fresh air. The singers are very gifted with beautiful and powerful voices.
 I will not be surprised if I see some of them one day on the stage of world-class opera theatres. 
The director of the set design Michael Hurt deserves some special applause for the clever way the stage decor was transformed between the acts. 
Interestingly, the Metropolitan Opera New York will host the performance of Le Boheme from Friday, 21st April until 9th June 2023. If you are interested here is the link bit.ly/3mQCRRx

Find out who you are!

If you are happy reading popular horoscopes or you have a certain opinion about the scientific roots of astrology, you probably need to quit reading this post. Before saying “Good Bye” to you I would like to point out that Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were two of many distinguished scientists who were interested and practised the ancient art of astrology. 

Pop-astrology is primary based on the Sun signs. Sun signs depend on the birth month. Everyone could find their Sun sign and read their astrological forecast for the next day, week, month  or year. Sometimes predictions are fun and could resonate with something we have experienced or hope, most of the time they are vague and boring. 

My guess is that this brutal simplification of the ancient art of astrology happened for marketing reasons. Attracting readers is easy and efficient – everyone knows their day and month of birth.

Let’s think about it! There are 8 billion people on planet Earth and it appears there could be 670 million people with the same personality and destiny (assuming that every Sun sign has an equal amount of births) if we follow this logic. Furthermore, the Sun’s entrance to the signs is not fixed, it happens on different days during the years, therefore the birth year is important and you need to check your Sun sign – it could be different from the one you have always believed. Even further, in case you were born on the Sun sign-changing days which sign identity do you possess – one of the moving out sign or one of the entering into sign, or both?

It is obvious that other parameters are needed to specify the data. One of these parameters is the Moon sign. The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth. It takes it around 28 days to go through the zodiac, so, the Moon spends approximately 2.5 days in each sign. Locating the Moon sign narrows the alleged 670 million people with the same Sun sign to the much lesser group of people who have the same Sun and Moon signs. 

More data is needed for pinning down the Moon sign . This time that is the actual time of birth. Uncovering this data could be complicated. Some countries register the time of birth on the birth certificates (some states of the USA), some countries (UK) do not. Some parents and grandparents know the birth time of their children and grandchildren, some do not. Every known fact in this direction is helpful – maybe you know that you were born in the morning or afternoon or during the night, etc. In any case, an experienced astrologer will help you find out your time of birth through questionnaires for the major events in your life.

The actual time of birth is crucial because it defines the structure of your birth chart. The birth chart shows the exact positions of the planets in the sky when you were born. The first sign from which your birth chart starts developing is called the ascendant. Very importantly, the ascendant is changing every two hours in 24 hour period!

Now, your first, not complete but more reliable astrological picture appears as a result of identifying your Sun sign, your Moon sign and your ascendant. You are not an anonymous member of the 670 million people group and the authentic you starts taking shape.

Much more about astrology and what all these signs mean in the coming articles.

Cold exposure is hot!

Cold exposure provides a wide range of health benefits and practice takes many forms. People who were born or live in countries  such as Norway carry out cold therapy for at least a half of year. 
Those who live near the sea or river can connect with local groups for swimming in cold water. 
The wellness industry provides the latest hit – the Finnish cryo cabin which is great for recovering after challenging physical activities. Its computer is very close to what I imagine as artificial intelligence. 
Or, you may practise the Wim Hof (The Ice man) method. 
His method combines gradual exposure to cold combined with breathing techniques and exercises. 
If you are interested in his method you have a few options: 
Firstly, sign up for his boot camp in Poland where you may be lucky to be guided by the one and only Wim Hof. 
Secondly, join a day dedicated to the Wim Hof method in the local luxury hotel. The guide will be a certificated instructor of the Wim Hof method. 
Thirdly, follow my example and upload the WimHof app on your phone. I just paid my subscription for the third year running. 
I hope you realise that these methods of cold display demand time and money – the two things we are always short of. 
Therefore I offer you a simple, ingenious solution – take a 2 minute daily dose of cold shower and reap the benefits of cold exposure without investing time or money (even saving them!).
I took this idea from the Wim Hof app and gradually tailored it to my needs and lifestyle. 
I began modestly by having a cold shower each morning for 1 minute and when I felt ready I increased the time to 1.5 minutes and then to 2 minutes. I tried staying longer under the cold water to discover that a cold shower for 2 minutes works best for me. It is long enough to deliver the benefits and short enough to keep me doing it every day.
I start with a hot shower and then turn it cold. The timer alarm on my phone helps me to ensure the exact time.
As a result I have taken my daily dose of cold exposure for the last 2 years and I am still going strong. The benefits are tremendous. 
However, one thing is worth mentioning – every time you go under the cold water you encounter stress and shock regardless of how long have you been practising. 
The way you deal with the stress depends on your personality and the context. Some people just jump into the cold water and feel the shock.
I approach the challenge differently by firstly exposing my arms, then my feet, followed by my face. Then I endure the stronger shock of exposing the front of my body and finally the crescendo – the cold water is pouring over my shoulders, back and head. And after that, bliss – I stay under the freezing cold water and enjoy it. 
Every day is different. 
Sometimes I pray for the phone alarm to ring for the end of the session, sometimes I want to stay in the shower much longer
Some days I am so eager to have the shower and to experience the bliss, another days I do not want to do it and it takes all of my willpower. There are days when the shower stays hot. 
The reasons for these deviations vary but nowadays I know that the body and mind will request the cold shower again without fail.
Because very pleasant things happen outside the cold shower programme apart from some  excellent blood test results. 
I become calmer, more creative and more adaptable. Even if you have a calm temperament I assure you that you will experience a degree of improvement. Life feels good. 
If life brings upheavals which you usually avoid or procrastinate about you will begin to face them head on with full self awareness that despite the stress or pain you undergo you will endure and solve. 
And not only that – the solution which you have found is simple, practical, cost and time effective as it is the 2 minute daily dose of a cold shower. 

Life in the square

I usually take the tube to Euston station and walk towards Tavistock Square when I visit Bloomsbury in London. Fate, in the face of roadworks, diverts me to Gordon Square.  
The Square is snuggled between the tall, dark-purple coloured Edwardian buildings. The instantaneous feeling that this park is somehow unusual comes to me. The park is not so meticulously maintained as Tavistock, somehow it is less organised, more left on its own. 
Yellow paths cross the bright green grass. Birds are singing and one of them flies to a birdhouse in a tree, pokes around it for a while and playfully disappears just before I focus the camera. 
A young mum pushes her pram into the garden and with a deep sign of relief sits on one of the benches. She tenderly takes her baby out of the pram and protectively embraces her. The picturesque Hansel and Gretel style cafe at the entrance of the park opens for service.
A green sign next to the cafe presents unclear pictures of strange people dressed in fashions from  the last century. 
Only if you stop and read the text under the photos (or you may already know) do you learn that behind the fence around the park, across the road, is Number 46 Gordon Square, the house that accommodated the famous Bloomsbury group in the first half of the 20th century. 
There is extensive literature about this influential group – “The Old Bloomsbury” and the new generation of “The Bright New Things“ that transformed the group into “The New Bloomsbury” of the Jazz Era. 
The group was controversial. Its members definitely were ahead of their time. They had a rebellious approach to creativity and to the way of living. From the distance of the first quarter of 21st century the group seems avant-garde and old-fashioned at the same time. Two Bloomsbury Group themes are fascinating for me:
1. The Bloomsbury Group was a “family of choice”. 
The group members were families, friends, lovers, spouses and colleagues. They maintained life-long ties of affection, mutual support, understanding and acceptance. They provided a safe environment where everyone could be themselves without fear or embarrassment. The truth was their ideal and experiments with innovations and sexuality were strongly encouraged. 
They were an informal group, with loose ties, yet, they existed as a group for 30 years. 
2. Bloomsbury was a group of equality. In 1904 four Stephen children – brothers Adrian and Thoby and sisters Vanessa and Virginia moved to Number 46 Gordon Square after the death of their father. 
The future creator of the painting “Conversation”, Vanessa chose the house. The siblings were in their 20s and were free from having any adults to supervise their social interactions that conventions of the Victorian era demanded. The two sisters met the friends of their brothers (mostly graduates from Cambridge) on an equal footing. They openly and honestly discussed with them every aspect of life without any taboos.
During their lives Vanessa and Virginia not only acted as a glue and caring “mothers” for the group but developed very successful careers as a painter and a writer. 
Many people think the group was “privileged and perverse”. Group members definitely were talented and provocative.
Dorothy Parker said it geometrically “They lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”. 
Was it the charm of the bohemian Bloomsbury that inspired their imagination and their open mindedness? 
Was it possible that the intimate beauty of Gordon Square, its safe greenness and its peculiar yellow paths influenced their lives? 
One thing is for sure – there was no other place on the earth wherе The Bloomsbury Group could be born.