This blog post gets a little bit hippy.... 
you have been warned!

I feel like the seasons turned yesterday. All of a sudden the trees I can see through the window when I sit on my settee are bright in their spring green clothes. It seems as if they were bare bones just a few days ago, even whilst their cousins on the horizon had already filled out with leaves.

This was mirrored by a similar internal shift of seasons of which, let’s face it, I am in desperate need and welcome most heartily. I’ve mentioned before that I read my horoscope each day and month, but I don’t know if I’ve touched upon the I Ching. It’s a book I turn to regularly for a period of time and then abandon for months on end, but when I do use it I always feel that it contains valuable advice (or perhaps it’s more consolation). In very simple terms, the concept is to use a random method to generate six numbers between 1 and 9, and these refer you to a passage of the book which can provide guidance with the particular circumstances which have led you to consult it. I know, but what can I say, if you get something out of it, who cares if it’s not the most scientific methodology? (Hold the word science in your mind because I’m going to come back to it.)

The thing I like about I Ching “readings” is that they give me a way to approach a problem from a different viewpoint. Waski Squirrel (wonderful YouTube pen reviewer, science teacher, and general all-round good egg) was talking in a recent video about growth mindsets versus fixed mindsets and I know I’m well and truly in the fixed mindset category. For the record, I don’t think either option is a bad thing and that it’s a greyscale anyway. However, I do acknowledge that I have a tendency to focus on just one aspect of an issue and things like the I Ching help me to broaden my outlook. All of which is to say that yesterday morning I did my first I Ching reading for many months and, yes, it did throw up something to consider about realigning myself with the important things in life.

That in itself is a preamble to illustrate the fact that I was clearly already in a bit of a hippy mood, which explains why one of Adventure Denali’s YouTube videos really struck a chord with me. Now, this particular lady takes writing in her journal to extremes, and usually I am a little too impatient to watch much of her output, but I was in a rare receptive mood. I watched her talking about how she uses her journals and for once her advice about unburdening your feelings really struck a chord. Now, when I write it is usually with a mind to posterity (albeit, a tiny, obscure posterity where my journals probably don’t ever get read) and I prefer to keep the wormy, unpleasant parts of life inside my head. Yesterday, however, I picked up my journal several times to see if I could banish a few of the gremlins I’ve been harbouring for the past eighteen months. Now, I see this as very much a chicken and egg situation – it’s just as likely that I’ve finally processed some upsetting things sufficiently that I’m ready to write them down as it is that writing them down will help me to process them – but either way processing and writing are happening and I feel the burden easing a little.

All of which brings me to science and another YouTube channel I enjoy, that of the astrophysicist Dr. Becky. In one of her videos she took great pains to explain that generally scientists are not opposed to religion. Some hold religious beliefs, others do not, but there is no widespread antagonism, just a sense of ‘live and let live’. That’s as it should be and I applaud it, I think we should all choose our belief system and allow others the same freedom. What makes this very odd is that Dr. Becky also mentions astrology in her videos and the tone there is very different indeed. I get the impression from her that astrology is senseless, can be completely debunked scientifically and is therefore open to ridicule. Well, I like me a good old double standard! What particularly interests me in this is that if Dr. Becky had lived two millennia ago (and all other things were equal which they would not have been), her trade would have been astrology rather than astrophysics because astrology is the father of modern astronomy. Astrologers were the ones studying the stars and planets, gleaning information, trying to make sense of what they observed and to apply their learning to the human condition. In another two thousand years, the science which Dr. Becky is undertaking today will look as absurd to the scientists as astrology does to her; she will look like a pagan sitting in a cave divining the meaning of the universe by casting bones. When we have been out and observed the universe in person, we may well question how the primitives of the twenty-first century could have believed that numbers typed on a screen constituted “proof” of all manner of astronomical imaginings.

In reality, I am neither wholly enslaved to astrology nor entirely trusting of science. If you can’t bite it, it isn’t gold – there are a lot of unproven assumptions in the world and I’m open to things which seem to make sense on a practical level. I can’t see much practical use for quasars in my current circumstances, whereas pondering the I Ching and reading my horoscope does improve my outlook on things a little. If nothing else, all this astrology versus science is giving me the seeds of an amusing short story. So, back to the notebooks to jot down my thoughts.

I predict we’re all going to have a wonderful day and if we don’t, just this once we’ll blame the quasars!

8 thoughts on “The seasons of things

  1. I once worked in a office shared with a astrological paper. Of all the employees only one or two believed in astrology. They were a funny group of people.

    1. I can imagine! I can entirely understand why most people find the idea of being guided by something as obtuse as the perambulations of the planets and stars rather silly. I would, however, question whether it’s any more silly than being guided by television documentaries, advertisements, the “normal” press, some 28-year-old internet celebrity, your aunt Beryl, politicians, someone who taught you domestic science when you were 15, or your pet rabbit. We all take advice from every conceivable source and we somehow weave it into a fabric which suits us. If I could be bothered, I’d quite like to learn how to draw my own astrological chart and interpret it, but I fear that one’s passed me by for this lifetime. Mind you, should a vacancy arise in astrological field whilst I’m searching for employment I’ll certainly give it a shot – I might fit in quite well.

  2. Quasars! Wow, Pam. That is the word of the week. My sister has a degree in astrophysics and it is fascinating. This is an interesting and very hippy post. I like how eclectic your You Tube tastes are. I don’t ‘follow’ astrology, but I can tell you when someone is born under a certain sign based on a number of quirks. I think the key is not to be enslaved to any one thing to the exclusion of others.

    1. Ha! You should see the YouTube channels I don’t own up to watching! Two American guys trying every flavour of Krispy Kreme donut? Sign me up!! I have a love-hate relationship with science. It’s a subject I found impenetrable at school yet I have been in love with the idea of space travel from a young age and that’s one of the most scientific fields imaginable. Likewise, I’ve always been torn between a healthy disregard of flakey hippy things like astrology, witchcraft, and herbal remedies, and a natural inclination towards astrology, “health foods”, and unctions which purport to be vaguely herbal (although I still have no time at all for this “witchiness” that is so popular among young ladies). I used to love hanging out in Culpeper The Herbalist when I was young and they had a shop in Norwich. Long, long gone now. I still miss their Stephanotis bath salts….

    2. One of my favorite saints is Hildegard of Bingen. I read her book Physica which was fascinating. She was mystic/naturalist/polymath/composer/physician all rolled up into this amazing woman. I think you would love her.

  3. Things are finally starting to green up around here, too. It’s so lovely to watch!

    Thanks for the Adventure Denali YouTube link – I’m a sucker for journalers. I love starting my day by writing in my notebook!

    1. Hi, Katie. I consider the trees, in fact the view from my living room window, my consolation prize for living further out of town than I would ideally wish to. I have very mixed feelings about the flat I moved into a year and a half ago, but I forget them as soon as I look out of the window. I like Adventure Denali because she has such an eclectic channel on YouTube, with the ferret, the uke, the violin, and trotting off into the wilderness at the drop of a hat on top of all the pens and paper.

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