by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tantalus, Station-Retrograde

 Tantalus by Gioacchino Assereto (circa 1640)

In looking up the word ‘tantalize,’ the big book of word roots I use said it came from two sources. One was ‘to drag or carry,’ to which the Greek evidently added the idea of ‘waving something about’ in the sense of making it impossible to ignore or not notice.

Thus when we’re talking about asteroid Tantalus, what we’re referring to isn’t the ‘thing’ which is attracting or provoking us…but rather whatever it is inside us which makes it impossible to ignore that thing, that gesture, that person, statement, idea, belief, stance, activity, difference, preference…or anything else.

Which means that in the most pragmatic sense, though asteroid Tantalus could always be taken to mean an opportunity to discover why something is important to us (or not important, depending), we will tend to react to Tantalus effects by thinking the other person or side of the coin (or question) will somehow solve our problem, fill our gap, scratch our itch, heal our ill…or whatever else.

Another thing to take note of here – the fact that the orbit of Tantalus only lasts 1.47 years, which is short for any asteroid (most main belt asteroids take half again as long). Moreover, Tantalus isn’t ‘just’ a main belt asteroid. Classed as an Apollo asteroid (the Apollo reference suggesting all such objects as ‘personal truth’ mechanisms) Tantalus cycles inward as it orbits, turning away from the (Jupiterian) search for objective knowledge in heading towards our Sun – the image of our individual, self-encapsulated consciousness.

In doing so, in ‘drawing a circle’ around such objects, Apollo asteroids evidently tell us what they are ‘about’ in the sense of how they will function… which in this case has Tantalus drawing a metaphysical circle around Mars plus Earth and its attendant Moon.

Mars plus Earth/Moon is all about what we, as creatures of the Earth want (Moon)… inclusive of all those Mars/Moon feelings which have us feeling ourselves going through all that wanting – you know, the Tantalus process. However this arises, however it is keyed in or set off, the energetic is ours.

Not that we tend to always act that way when it comes to Tantalus, the orbit of which seems to as often describe our fervent (Mars) attempts to ward something off or ‘keep something out’ of our life or world because we don’t want to feel, cope or face whatever that may be. The nature of that…and the means through which we will tend to respond or feel provoked individually is basically read through natal element – which explains easily enough why Person One (with Tantalus in water) may always get emotional whereas Person Two (with Tantalus in earth) tends to react to every problem as though it’s a threat to their earthy realm of operation.

Which of course leads us to the classic Tantalus problem: remembering that life is not only not just about us – but how that which happens in life is meant to happen so that we will learn from it.

However...remembering that fact - especially when either our defense or desire quotient rises in our throat?

That’s a human art form, against which the tug or push of Tantalus will tend to function as a distraction or focal point on our side which may well become problematic simply because where Tantalus is concerned we often wall others out (intentionally or simply as a matter of course) or are at least tempted to ignore everyone and everything because we're so focused on or 'consumed' by matters reflecting our native Tantalus.

And why that would be has everything to do with the Tantalus myth, a story which in most accounts begins with Tantalus being invited to dine with Zeus (Jupiter) - a scene which in an interesting variation on the famous Garden of Eden has Tantalus sitting down to a banquet consisting of all which could be offered by Knowledge (Jupiter) with the snake - in Greek terms - being Tantalus’ personal nature.

In other words it's his snake: his temptation within.

Tantalus of course accepts Jupiter’s invitation - one we know from other stories (such as that of Ixion) is as much of a challenge as a gift where mortals (or even demi-mortals) are involved. As with Ixion, Tantalus becomes fixated on that which Knowledge (Jupiter) can provide.

He is...tantalized by all he could know and could possess.

He is tantalized.

When Titan Prometheus came to a similar situation, he ended up stealing fire - the power of immortal illumination. It was a primal (Titan-ic) choice, one which was taken in order to empower humans - all humans.

And therein lies an important difference: Tantalus is purely about the Self. Whether it's a matter which originates with us or our being 'tantalized' by others, Tantalus is about our allegiance to our choice, whether or not anyone else is involved.

Even (often enough) whether or not someone else is affected. 

Prometheus Bound by Thomas Cole (1846-47)

Not that Tantalus was into anything as esoteric as fire. Nor was he evidently even a tiny bit deterred at the lasting wrath which rained down on Prometheus from Olympus on high - meaning Jupiter.

All of this evolves into an interesting thing about Knowledge - and therefore the astrological Jupiter. While Jupiter influences can represent the expanding of our life and world, they can also represent the need to go "too far" in order to learn not to overstep our bounds or abilities - or sometimes just the limits of good sense or established tradition.

All of which Tantalus evidently didn't know (or didn't care about), as no sooner was he given access to everything Knowledge (Jupiter) could provide but Tantalus went and stole from same.

And what he stole? That was nothing simple. What Tantalus focused on as the object of his desire was ambrosia, that ‘nectar of the gods,’ the source of core immortal nourishment.

Moreover, once he got the ambrosia home, Tantalus began handing it out, 'selling' people on his ability to provide all the power they would ever need.  

And people bought it…which brings up the other side of the Tantalus symbol: the wanting something to be true, whether that's a reasonable thing or not. This is an incredibly human habit I was reminded of when reading an email from someone about 'Pinocchio Girl' - an ‘early years’ auto-biography released recently as an eBook (link to Amazon US).

I've released the book for many reasons...and yes, I  understand that some will find it very hard to read. But that fits - it's about child abuse, and child abuse is one of those things which is entirely distressing on a truly human scale.

However, for someone to tell me how in my ‘coming clean’ I had inadvertently invalidated their assumptions about me? That's Tantalus. Sorry though I might be that their expectation was disappointed, I knew that wasn't about me. I know I became an astrologer (in part) because metaphysics helped explain what I didn't learn growing up just as surely as that growing up taught me how important it is to care about people both in their physicality and their spirit.

All of which is probably why astrology became my hobby.

The bottom line here is that I understood this person had been tempted to believe what they wanted to believe about me  without making the effort to be or become factually informed - all of which is very Tantalus, as is the standard ('I want to be known') Tantalus-like response where we try to seize control of the situation and re-inform the other party based on our (Jupiter) knowledge of Self.

Thus we come to the place where the Tantalus ability to focus - if we can avoid becoming fixated - becomes a plus: if we can recognize a 'Tantalus dynamic' for its 'Tantalus quality,' we can defuse it. My first read of that email left me a bit defensive. But as I focused on how this couldn't be me and thus was a classic Tantalus projection, my being 'caught up' in a flux of defensiveness (remember how Tantalus orbit 'isolates' Mars, Earth and Moon?) melted away.

And that's the Tantalus answer: to think things through until you arrive at the (Apollo asteroid) truth by going beyond the feeling of being 'tantalized' to where our full (solar) consciousness can refocus us.

As for me, I’ve had to learn this lesson about how people who may offend or even harm me - how they have their own issues. So what is projected on me is not a reflection on me.

In fact, it may well be that some of what gets 'dished out' to any of us in this world and life is so we will reflect, so we will remember that Tantalus and being tantalized is all about isolation - our isolation - in a state of mentality which can either exclude our consciousness or provide us with a specific situation through which we can better understand our Self and others.

Which would seem to be the positive of Tantalus, a wave energetic which tempts us to try out what doesn't work so we can discard that and thus identify the truth.

You know, that reality of Jupiter Knowledge.

Yes, that truth.

And yet…even as I say that, as fast as Tantalus reveals things, Tantalus also tempts us to forget.

Tantalus really is a strangely self-feeding process - one which describes how easy it is to mislead ourselves. The Tantalus process is one which teaches that the idea and feeling is not equal to the truth of reality - and what it means for us to grapple with that difference.

Tantalus is truly personal – almost blindingly so. It’s lack of perspective can delude, making all into a pretty lie against which truth has little weight, making Tantalus the asteroid which often seems to fulfill the function many people think should be attributed to asteroid Lust, but isn’t.

Lust is about the passion with which we ‘do’ or attend to something. Tantalus is the ‘what’ – the thing which arouses a Lust-driven response.

In any case…as of April 4th, Tantalus will be going retrograde at 4 Taurus, a degree known for a brittle sort of tension the Sabian symbol describes as ‘A WIDOW AT AN OPEN GRAVE’ - an image which pictures both loss and survival at the same time. This is the energetic which will be evolving and dissolving upon us in whatever form or formats. With 4 Taurus being a first decan (between 0 and 9) degree of an earthy sign all about mastering our security, events are likely to be trying or unsettling directly in response to our most ‘separatist’ efforts – especially where we attempt to ‘hide’ from some truth we know about ourselves, our life or something we would be doing if we hadn’t given in to some ‘temptation’ which ‘felt good’…at least at the time.

Lore notes 4 Taurus as a degree where negotiations require a true ‘give and take’ quality in order not to create negative responses personal or karmic – which with Tantalus on station may time the revelation of something you didn’t want to know. Or maybe the truth of some situation, one you had thought lost (ended, forgotten, abandoned) but which is merely waiting input – yours or someone else’s.

Or maybe you’re going to be embodying Tantalus on station at 4 Taurus by going out and ‘tempting’ people to get involved in some movement. Maybe you’re a teacher who will take the days around Tantalus’ station to tweak a lesson plan in some interestingly quirky way which gets young minds thinking.

Whatever we do now, it’s likely to feel a bit odd, even foreign – another quality of 4 Taurus which here may well favor those who are changing their tune or otherwise doing a ‘turnaround’ on some subject which good or bad has a ‘tantalizing’ effect on their mindful psyche.

One other thing to consider here, however…and that’s the incoming solar eclipse at 8 Taurus, a degree which by any (5 degrees of orb) estimation is conjunct the 4 Taurus Tantalus station.

Tantalus/Phaethon being our current concern, Phaethon brings in a quality of ‘hard-headedness’ which either because of lack of understanding or simple hard-headedness (or maybe being ‘dug into’ some position) ends up playing against our better interests.

The error? By and large, the error of judgment being described here concerns an act undertaken or decided ‘in the moment’ or at least without proper understanding (as talked about above with regards to Tantalus – the ‘assuming that you know’).

Given Mirach and Dionysus respectively at 0 and 1 Taurus, there is a ‘youthful influence’ (or influence on youth) left behind which is not going to be directly affected by the eclipse itself, but which we are in all likelihood already aware of as a factor which has somehow contributed to where we are today -  whether we cleaved to it way back when or or rebelled against it.

That’s just a fact, atop which we also have the presence of two fixed stars at 7 Taurus: Schedir and Hamal.

Known for being akin to the tofu of fixed stars, Hamal – or ‘Alpha Aries’ as astronomers call it – most often marks a some first-person quality as a distinct talent or distinction when in conjunction with some point or the axis of a natal chart. For instance…Hamal conjunct Mars (Mars = strength) might well appear in the chart of an athlete where Hamal conjunct Mercury (Mercury = thought, communication) would suggest more of the intellect, debater or writer.

But even if un-aspected in the natal chart, whenever Hamal is activated it manifests as being or becoming ‘independent’ in whatever manner.

And yet…then along comes this eclipse. Eclipses are known to bring out whatever we have ignored or denied – the ‘shadow’ of our strength. And that makes Hamal being eclipsed, and its being involved in this two-month ‘breaking down’ period preceding the eclipse a time when we are likely to see people exhibiting their strengths (or at least the appearance of strength) while also revealing that latent shadow. The last time this current eclipse cycle occurred was back in April of 1995,  s are cyclic, the last time this eclipse cycle came around was back in  of us who makes this a time when the pluses and minuses of independence and how we may have handled (or not handled) not merely the pleasures of independence but freedom’s responsibilities are now playing out.

And where they are playing out, they are not likely to manifest as anything genteel.

As for Schedir, it’s not only very different from Hamal, it’s also about our ‘shadow’ – that person we are but don’t like thinking we are. Those qualities, especially where magnified by Hamal, are more than likely to be brought out over the next month or so, especially in the chart of anyone with a planet, node or axis (vertical or horizontal) between 3 degrees and 13 degrees of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius.

And of course it follows that if you have more than one point which falls under these auspices, even more attention should be brought to bear on what goes on now. You probably already know things are in flux. Soon whatever ills or lurking inconsistencies will be exposed, exposing us to what we didn't want to know. feels like one vast season of all things uncomfortable. And well it might: Tantalus is most known (and in Greek terms, loathed) for the act of butchering, cooking and serving up son Pelops as food for the gods.

The Olympian gods, in this case.

In many ways we can see this act – as horrible as it is – as the consequence of Tantalus having sat at Jupiter’s table. It’s a reminder about how we need to be mindful of what we expose ourselves to – our ‘appetite’ for things, as it were – while remaining conscious and aware of how what we think we want sometimes turns out to be a reality which is not merely less than satisfying, but something we can’t…or don’t want to know we have to swallow.

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