by Boots Hart, CAP

Sunday, November 24, 2013

ISON: Beyond Us

Comet ISON Oct 08 2013
(photo credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon Sky Center- University of Arizona, October 2013)

Of all the things in this solar system wearing odd names, the one I’d like to know as the ‘who thought THAT name was a good idea’ winner in my book is the Oort cloud.

I’m sorry…but hearing people discuss the Oort cloud inevitably conjures up images of seals line up ‘oort-oort-oort-ing’ as they slap their flippers together.

Just sayin’…

But the word has come up of late – specifically with reference to a comet with the interesting name of ISON (yes, all capitals). Otherwise known to the astronomy logs as C/2012 S1, having come from the distant reaches of our solar system (call it a quarter to Sedna territory) ISON is at this very moment diving towards the Sun – although ‘diving’ is probably not quite the word as I’ve never heard of any reports about jackknifes with double twists coming out of NASA.

In any case, what we are describing is an object (ISON) which has come from “all the way out there” to “all the way in here” – and when we say ‘in here’ we rather mean it. At it’s closest, ISON is predicted to come within 0.0124 AU (1,860,000 Km or 1,150,000 miles) from the Sun.

And when you’re talking about the Sun, that’s close. To give us some idea of how close we’re talking here, Mercury – the planet which lives beyond the realm of sunblock – only gets to within 0.307 AU from the Sun. (As a reminder, one AU is the distance from the Sun to Terra Earth.).

So we’re talking close. Toasty close.

Speaking of our solar system philosophically and metaphorically, to those who believe in the micro-macro reflection of All, this means a lot. It might not refer to any earth shattering event (we certainly hope not – especially literally!), but it’s important all the same. After all, the farther you go ‘out there,’ in theory what you are referring to is the “bigger picture” or the “broader brush stroke” or the “background issue.” That’s the ‘out there.’ When we speak of fixed stars in astrology, they always have a ‘coloration’ more than an ‘action,’ they’re more of a ‘quality’ or esoteric challenge to us which we will tackle however we tackle it rather than the finite description of some object or objective of the moment.
‘Out there’ is the situation, the background against which all else we are doing gets set. Such qualities may be static (as in being a representation of our orientation or ‘where we’re coming from’)… or they may be pro-generative, which is to say, such ‘out there’ quotients – be they fixed stars or anything else ‘out there’ may describe that which motivates or challenges us. 
Over the millennia, astrology has collected a reasonable body of lore on the so-called “fixed” stars. Oort cloud occupants are a newer research topic seeing as we’re just discovering such objects. But we do know a couple of them. Dwarf planet Eris (discord) is thought to orbit at the edge of the Oort cloud. So that dwarf planet Sedna (representing our being challenged to mature/deal with issues of maturity in our own right) definitely orbits in the Oort cloud…what does it mean that Eris orbits at the edge of this place?

Everything beyond Planet Neptune is by astrological definition, that we cannot know – not for sure. We can imagine, we can dream. We can intuit, we can hope. We can have faith, we can act on faith, we can continue trying because we have faith there’s a reason to keep on trying even when with every moment our doubts and self-questioning grows louder.

(Yes, there’s a reason why Neptune is the #1 problematic marker in astrology. Nobody loves their Neptune…and nobody loves to hate their Neptune!)

The point is…beyond Neptune lies the Kuiper Belt: realm of all which we cannot know for sure. And at some point (around the Eris orbital range) the Kuiper Belt becomes the Oort cloud – the place from which comes all the long-period comets (like Halley) as well as all the centaurs (like Chiron) come from.

So we think in terms of how astrology suggests comets (in general) bring news or ‘information from afar’ and we know this is part of what ISON is about. Then we check the records (JPL, NASA and such) and we note that unlike Halley and Chiron, scientists list ISON as ‘non-periodic.’

Metaphysically, we would think ‘non-periodic’ refers to a one-time issue, idea or event. But then again, it may refer to a one-time chance, a once-and-for-all transformation of your life or attitudes – a lot of things.

Scientists aren’t all positive ISON is going to make it through it’s close encounter with the Sun.

Some things come to us and then just…fade away. Or to look at this metaphor from the position of our life as the Sun, some things come at us and we just burn them to a crisp before they can get to us.

But is that bad? Or is that good?

Another thought on the Oort cloud: as the ‘outer layer’ of our solar system, it is the Oort cloud which first receives the 'tidal’ energetics of the Milky Way – and it is this small but recordable galactic push-pull which is thought to be vital in releasing new comets from the Oort cloud. You know…so they can head on into the solar system and wander through our metaphysical neighborhood. And though it’s not like Earth is just down the block or anything, it is interesting to think of this particular comet – which was only discovered on September 21, 2012 – being part of the reflective and reflexive process of existence which has now got a whole bunch of people sort of breathlessly watching this comet.

Will it survive its encounter with the Sun?

We do have a few notes on ISON, which are as follows…after a photo sessions with the Deep Impact spacecraft in January/February 2013 (Deep Impact is on its way to study Comet Tempel), Hubble in April/May 2013 and the Spitzer Space Telescope in June (this is a comet with a good PR firm, no question)…on October 1st, ISON got very (very) close to planet Mars.

Comet ISON moving through the signs
And since we know that Mars was at 21 Leo on October 1st, we know where ISON was. SO...using the standard astrological 5-degree conjunction orb, things which manifested in your world or life between September 23rd and October 9th or so (give or take a time zone) will have paved or poked your Mars/ISON quotient in terms of being an action or activation point at which something which you didn't know about began to manifest. That Mars is involved suggests something which involves action or passion or drive or aims. That an ‘unknown’ like ISON was involved may mean you didn’t understand ‘what was coming at you.’

We each would have reacted in terms of a.) where our natal Mars is charts and…b.) wherever 21 Leo falls in our birth charts. The nature of this combination when looked at through Mars’ position suggests unknown encounters and tests of perception which we may or may not prove apt at. Because lore on this degree says matters come out best if/where/when we are able to apply a sort of ‘insightful sensitivity’ to the situation, ‘the thing which happens’ and ‘what it means that it happened’ may…or may not be connected.

That’s probably part of what we need(ed) to think through. You know, as part of the thing ‘coming at us.’

 Comet ISON in parallel (conjunction by degree) with Mars
(diagram courtesy of JPL Small Body Database Browser)

As of November 17-18, ISON was seen passing fixed star Spica, putting it at 24 Libra, a degree which focuses on how we deal with the subject of relationships at a purely personal level which has everything to do with our ability to care as much for ourselves as others and as much for others as ourselves. That Spica and Arcturus are both currently at 24 Libra doubles up on asking us ‘how brilliantly’ we’re handling our affairs, particularly when it comes to the question of responsibility – to/for ourselves or for others.

And just to make things lively? Just as ISON shows up, so does Rhadamanthus – a symbol of transcendent justice. Wherever we see Rhadamanthus, rising to the higher (less me-oriented) sense of justice is either required…or being questioned. (And no, that’s not a swell choice.)

 Comet ISON at it's perihelion point (closest approach) with the Sun
(diagram courtesy of JPL Small Body Database Browser)
On November 22nd, ISON dropped below Mercury, which would put it in mid-Scorpio territory. So as of November 22nd, this ‘thing coming towards us’ (which remember, is part of us/our lives we are not aware of or not wanting to think about) becomes mental and emotional. It may form a blockade, it may just represent something which sticks in your mind, it may signal the surfacing (the ‘beginning to see’) something or some situation with far greater clarity – a sort of ‘in your face’ clarity.

It’s about this time that SOHO (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) will pick ISON up and track it on towards it’s appointed rendezvous with its perihelion – it’s closest approach to the Sun, and thus to our life.

The SOHO spacecraft
(image credit: NASA, December 2011)

This event which will happen on November 28, 2013 (Thanksgiving Day), after which ISON will grow brighter.

That’s right…metaphysically, we can expect that whatever this confluence of ISON/Sun represents in your life to become something brighter or of ‘greater magnitude’ after the technical perihelion. AFTER the comet begins to turn away again from the Sun.

From our mind.

From our life.

As an astrologer, I can’t say I think ISON is the do-all, be-all of transit passages. But in looking at the dates provided, comet passages are just as real and just as valid a part of the universal tapestry as anything else. So…if you look back to July and you follow life events forward, are you now in a position to see and live your personal opportunities, new, old, expected, renegade and otherwise?

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