Synastic Snaps! Crackle! & POP!

Jenn Zahrt and Wonder Bright

I’m so excited, you guys, I barely slept a WINK last night. Which is no good, because today is a big day, today is the day that my bestie, Dr. Jenn Zarht and I launch our pop-up photobooth project, Synastic Snaps, in which we encourage people to have fun and play together in front of the camera with their friends to celebrate a special occasion.

And we couldn’t pick a better more special occasion for our inaugural launch, because we’re here in Arizona at the fabulous Wild Horse Pass Resort for ISAR’s 2014 astrology conference, “Stepping Into the Circle.” So we’re here with our tribe, a pack of astrologers running wild together under one roof and we feel right at home. There are open arms everywhere. It’s like a Hogwart’s reunion.

Jenn holds all the glyphs

We’ve got glyph sticks galore and more fun than you could shake any of those sticks at, and we are excited to share our project with everyone.

So I can’t really care that my website isn’t quite ready for its relaunch, or that there are broken links in it like stairs leading to nowhere or that I’ve never used strobes with my camera before or that I haven’t promoted this properly. If there’s anything writing on my blog every day (my remedial measure for my Mars) taught me this year it’s this: you are never ready, and that’s not the point.

The joy lies in the action, in the experience of becoming.

So come along with me and Dr Z, my little sweet potatoes! We’ll be putting out pix as we go on our Twitter feeds, (Jenn’s at @zahrtillery and you can find me at @starsofwonder) or you can follow along using the hashtag #synsnaps.

I’ll see you on the other side!

UPDATE: if you were one of the people I took a photograph of today and you took my card, but couldn’t remember the site to get the photo’s from, here’s the link again: www.wonderbrightphotography.com & thanks so much for all the fun and for sharing yourselves so generously with me today! If you post to FB or Twitter, please consider giving me some link love and linking back to this post or to the Synastic Snaps page. Bless!

Barbie in Capricorn

Here I am ABOUT TWENTY YEARS AGO showing my affection for Barbie while my beloved Aunt June looks on.

At the writing workshop I attended a month or so back Steve Almond gave us a prompt to write about an obsession. I wrote about my childhood obsession with Barbie:

Barbie is beautiful. She’s clean and shiny and smiling and perfect. She has everything she wants and no one can tell her what to do and everyone loves her and wants to be her.

She wears gauzy beautiful dresses like that woman that’s friends with my aunt and high heels and make up and everything in her world is right. She has a handsome boyfriend in uniform and they like to hump outside under the tree together. He’s a stormtrooper and his uniform doesn’t come off but she likes it like that.

Barbie has this way about her where it doesn’t matter what’s going on, she just always looks put together and happy. It’s not just her eyes or her hair or all her clothes – or the way she looks good in everything, it’s the way that it doesn’t matter what happens, she still keeps smiling.

A gopher can steal her head and run off with it down the gopher hole when you play Barbie Visits the Caves and she’s still smiling. At least I think she is, I never found her head, but I bet she’s still smiling.

She didn’t bleed when it happened, she didn’t let out so much as a yelp or a moan or a whimper, she just took it.

I didn’t. I was shocked when it happened. Outraged. I wanted revenge. It didn’t help that my mum couldn’t stop laughing. She felt bad about it, but she couldn’t stop laughing.

It was a struggle to get my clog wearing mum to ever buy me a Barbie, she was constantly pointing out to me that women don’t have proportions like that, that women aren’t made with teeny tiny hands and feet and a waist the size of their wrists.

But I persisted. I begged and begged for Self-tanning Barbie and wept and wept when Mum got it for me for Christmas only to change her mind when I opened the box and it smelled “chemical.” She let me get a different Barbie in exchange, but I don’t remember that Barbie, I only remember the one that got away.

 

After I’d finished reading the piece aloud Steve leaned forward and said, “there is more around the circumstances with the mother and the imperviousness of Barbie that could be unpacked.” I said, “you mean, this mother right here?” gesturing to my mum who was sitting beside me all red in the face ’cause she hates attention under the best of circumstances. The room broke into laughter and Steve’s face broke open in surprise. Steve asked my mum if she wanted to read anything about me in response. More laughter.

Thank heavens for my mum! And I won’t be unpacking anything around the circumstances with her here other to say that I’m so glad now that she insisted Barbie wasn’t natural or even desirable. And not for all the feminist, obvious things. But because of what Steve caught in the way I described her that I never noticed before.

Barbie is impervious. Nothing gets to her. She is always the same, blessed with a preternatural way of always being exactly happy with everything that happens to her. She appealed to my Capricorn Venus, (no surprise there, of course, her Saturn is in Capricorn conjunct my Venus!) she’s resilient and unbending. She’s self-contained and doesn’t need anyone else in order to have a perfect home and a perfect life.

I’ve said it before, but Venus isn’t really friends with Saturn. Saturn is all about limits and boundaries and Venus is all about inclusion. A Capricorn or Aquarius Venus experiences a certain amount of distance between the object of her affections and the receipt of them. It makes for an uneasy alliance.

For the first time I share the revulsion my mum always felt for Barbie. I never got it before. The clothes were just play, the hair, the nails, the high heels, all of that was just for fun. The real heart of the matter was always that she couldn’t be hurt.

And of course, that’s ridiculous. I’ll bet Barbie wasn’t at ALL happy to be dragged down that gopher hole! I’ll bet she wanted to kick and scream and tear that damned gopher’s eyes out. She just couldn’t. She was so used to faking it that she just kept smiling, and the farther he dragged her down the hole and the dirtier her hair got, the less it all mattered, because she had to just keep smiling that dumb ass smile the whole time.

I just googled “Sad Barbie” and now I’m really sad. I found some cool pix, but man, people are SAD. The one above will lead you to a tumblr about self-harming if you click on it. You’ve been warned.

 

 

 

Maleficent and the Crisis of Fury

you know the tale

I took my nephew to see Maleficent Wednesday. Of course, T, being only four and a half, found it a little hard to follow. With his little feet just reaching the edge of the seat he kept turning to me, saying things like, “why is she crying?” and when I told him, a follow up of, “why did he cut off her wings?” and then much later, at the end, his hand stuffed into his Raisinet box digging for the last ones, “why are you crying, Auntie?”

Because I seriously cried so hard! I didn’t expect to, it surprised me. But it was really moving, and not just because it was lyrical and Angelina Jolie took my heart by storm, but because it was redemptive and I believed it. I wanted to.

I needed a redemptive Mars tale.

there is evil in this world 3

This Mars in Libra transit has been a doozy for me. When Mars stationed direct squaring my Sun last month I swear to the Gods something crawled out from under my 12th house rock that I thought I’d slaughtered years ago. A great big ugly, sloppy, mean spirited beast that looked suspiciously like ME! ugh. In a fit of night terror I ripped apart the fragile threads between me and that guy I mentioned a couple months back. It only took seconds but the damage was done.

Of course, there’s loads more to the story, but the important thing, the thing I want to share here is, that a.) Mars sucks don’t play, b.) the 12th house can bite my ass isn’t something you ever get to sell or move out of. And that c.) you can run, but if it’s yourself you’re running from then there really isn’t anywhere you can hide. Like, ever.

There’s a scene towards the beginning of the film where Maleficent’s sidekick brings her the news that her former love, the man who viciously betrayed her, has had a child. Jolie plays it perfectly. Her eyes reflect such deep pain at the news that I quietly gasped in sympathy, but if you’d looked down at your popcorn even for a moment you’d have missed it. She looks away briefly and when she raises her head again her face has transformed into a grim smile, animated purely by malice. It’s pitch perfect, her transformation from grief to rage.

i'm the evil

You can feel the relief of it, the shiny fabulous weight that is lifted in the way Jolie sheds her sorrow and embraces the purifying rage sweeping through her, clearing away all doubt, all sadness, just washing it away, replacing it with clarity and purpose.

It’s a perfect Mars moment. Liberation from victimhood, catalyzing your grief into rage. A wild, dangerous freedom that will trap you just as surely as martyrdom if you’re not careful.

Sigh. I remember feeling like that. Not recently, but long ago. Mean, hateful, vengeful. I haven’t felt it in so long, but you don’t forget. When the pain runs so deep the only way out is annihilation, of yourself or the person who caused it and that moment when it gets crystal clear it’s not gonna be you. This is Mars at its core. The molten lava pouring out of you in that moment is a profound aspect of creation, but it’s the devil to harness and it will turn on you. It will cut a bitch, and if you’re not careful, the bitch it cuts might actually be the one wielding it.

The way I felt last month when I snapped and crossed over wasn’t even close to how ugly I’ve been in the past, but it revealed to me some hurt left there still lurking in the shadows. It revealed what I have yet left to do. Because the true gift of Mars isn’t the vengeance, or the fury, it isn’t even the liberation from victimhood, but the purpose. The real gift of Mars is the battle it reveals you must fight and the worth of fighting it.

now I have lost you 1

I’ve quoted Rob Hand talking about Mars before, but his take on Mars is so perfectly depicted in Maleficent that it bears repeating here. Hand says that the real worth of Mars isn’t in fighting against things, it’s in fighting for things. Belonging to the nocturnal sect, the sect of the Moon, Mars demands unconditional commitment, it requires tests of will power and stamina. It belongs to warriors and athletes, to people who do impossible things, simply because they said they would. It’s a raw wild power that defies ration or logic, and bows only to the force of feeling.

Angelina Jolie projects this quality perfectly. She was born to play Maleficent. She isn’t just perfect for the part, her chart is perfect for the part. She was born with Mars conjunct the Moon on the midheaven. For better or worse she embodies the qualities of Mars and always has. Like me she was born during the day, so Mars doesn’t naturally act in her favor, it took something for her to overcome the darker side of the energy. She is notorious for her destructive tendencies as a young woman, for her drug use, knife play, depression and anger. Things only changed for her when she got involved with humanitarian causes in 2001.

After that her focus switched. She stopped obsessing on her own misery and became focused on others and what she could do to affect change. I think she understands both sides of the coin Mars offers, because she’s lived through it. She could tell the story of Maleficent because at heart her story is real to her. It’s real and it matters.

I swear no harm will come

So what I loved about Maleficent is how it tells the story of the evolution of Mars, from the shadow side of it, the ugly, angry, wrathful, must-make-things-bleed experience, to the powerfully redemptive glory of it. Because Mars is also that part of us that gives us backbone, gives us courage, makes us stand up for the things we believe in. It shows us where we need to face our fears.

Maleficent is a wonderful retelling of Sleeping Beauty because in this version it isn’t the princess that wakes up from a death like slumber. In this version it’s the villain who wakes up, it’s the villain who saves the girl and in saving the girl, she saves herself. Now that’s a fairy tale for our time. That’s a myth we need, a story to tell our children. A story to tell ourselves.

I’ve been in a terrible stew for the past month, wrestling with my demons. Every time you let yourself down there is a hangover afterwards. Time was I ignored it, ignored what it was telling me, but I’ve learned now, I’ve learned that you can’t ignore it, you can’t leave it, it won’t go away on its own. The only thing for it is to face it head on.

Because the only good thing about seeing that you’ve made a terrible mistake is that you are no longer blind to your failing. It grants you choice. It’s a great and terrible thing, because it means waking up, and waking up isn’t always easy, but there is power in it. Raw, latent, gorgeous power.

I can feel it flexing in me now, shiny and dark, unfolding like wings. I don’t know where it’s taking me but I trust it. It won’t let me down. It won’t falter.

Leaving the theater my nephew grabbed my hand, pleading, “hold my hand, Auntie!” We walked past a kiosk with a young woman blowing bubbles and T ran after them for a bit. When he asked if we could get one I said yes, of course, because I’m a complete and total sucker. We spent the rest of the morning creating little iridescent worlds, chasing them, popping them, and then making some more.

He didn’t have to ask why I was crying again because I didn’t. I might have squeezed him a little too hard once or twice, but he didn’t seem to mind. After all, there were bubbles to blow.

12th House of Loss & Transcendence

There’s a church in Glendale with the strangest sign out front. It lights up clean and bright at night. I passed once in the daytime and there was a security guard out front with a dark navy jacket with the word “SECURITY” emblazoned on the back. I asked if I could take a picture of him in front of the sign but he said, “no pictures, no pictures” and looked at me like I was trying to steal it.

I can still see him, all gruff and grizzled and silver haired, mad at me. It’s stuck in my mind’s eye. Him guarding that sign, keeping it safe.

And you know what? I wish I had security guarding my FAITH CENTER sometimes. When my faith gets shaken I often wish there was something standing between it and the outside world, some force that could alleviate the worst effects. But in truth I’m less and less convinced that yelling at people or trying to instill fear is the best way to go about it. In fact, the more my faith gets rattled the more convinced I am that the best security is almost always to open, not close. To surrender, not stand on guard.

But learning this didn’t come easy. I was born with my Sun in the 12th house of Loss & Sorrows. I’ve been losing what I wanted most since I was about nine years old. What I see now is that the actual things I’ve lost aren’t important, what’s important is how I’m just wired to think of things from the perspective of loss or gain, so I’ve felt losses acutely and feared them consequently. It’s taken me many years to appreciate how loss is actually a gift. Loss is a great teacher because it reveals the fundamental truth of reality. Resisting this truth causes more sorrow then the losses themselves.

But if you surrender, if you release yourself from the need to protect yourself from the inevitable, from loss, from failure, from betrayal, from the certainty of it, than you will tap into real power. Modern interpretations of the 12th house always say it’s about transcendence, but I’ve never seen a good explanation of why. In my opinion this is it, this is why. It’s because when you accept loss as inevitable life becomes precious. It becomes real.

Faith is its best when it comes to accepting things as they are, not as we want them to be. There’s this virulent notion in our culture that faith, the kind “you gotta have” is there for you to keep believing impossible dreams, to get you the money, the man, the house of your dreams, to keep your babies safe at night and to never let anything bad happen to anyone ever. And when bad things happen to you, it’s somehow your fault because you didn’t believe enough.

But real optimism, real joy, real faith starts from accepting things as they are, not as we want them to be. It’s no good wishing you hadn’t spilt the milk. If you want to clean it up you have to accept the fact of it, you can’t pretend things are anything other than what they are. And it requires determination to do so. It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to swallow some very bitter pills if you want to live in this world.

The Five Remembrances of the Buddhist faith speak eloquently to this:

I am subject to aging, I have not gone beyond aging

I am subject to illness, I have not gone beyond illness

I am subject to death, I have not gone beyond death

I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me

I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.

Impermanence is the one absolute we can all unequivocally count on. How we be with that is all that we can control or should even attempt to.

It’s a paradox that the experience of being alive should make being mortal so hard to embrace. But accepting it is a relief. Accepting it makes it beautiful. Accepting it makes the present moment so precious.

I can’t say I accept it 100% of the time – more like 20% of the time, but that’s, like 20% more than I have since I was about nine, so I’m counting it a win. When my ex and I split I remember vividly at the heart of the anguish, at the heart of the despair, at the heart of the darkness, this overwhelming alertness. It was like being woken up.

So the funny thing is that I remember my faith most when I’ve lost something I really wanted, because it’s always then that I need to remember it most. It’s always when you’re down in it that you know what your faith really is or isn’t. I’m glad this is mine.

I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me

This is the center of my faith, and the truest security I’ve ever known.

 

Full Hearted

Space Heart

I used to think a broken heart was something you had to put back together, like a favorite dish that fell on the floor and would never be the same again. Now I see that heartbreak often comes from the need to expand. Like a snake shedding a skin, your heart is just too big for the cage you’ve been keeping it in.

 

 

driving on sunshine

What? What the WHAT?!! This is so cool! This couple have created a way of making roadways solar powered, snow and ice free, with storm water run off/treatment and the capacity to run electric cars on the actual road they are driving on. They’ve already got over $200,000 of the $100,000 they asked for on Indigogo, but dang, they could be changing the world, five bucks doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.

Via The Daily What

T minus four days

Mars is now stationed at nine degrees Libra, squaring my Sun, thank you very much. My recent health problems aside it’s been 100 degrees out for the past two days here in LA and I don’t do well in the heat. I seriously considered sleeping in my car in the underground parking garage tonight. Meanwhile everything’s all burbly burbly under the surface, this full Moon made me keenly aware of what’s next and what I need to do and yet I’m still feeling a bit frozen, I have been for the past month, really, as evidenced by my short posts here. Seems like a perfect time for a Ukulele rendition of a Slayer classic, no? I don’t feel as though I have the right tools for the job, but it doesn’t matter, somehow it’s got to be done and truthfully there’s no time like the present and if I wait around for better tools I might miss the joy of working with what I’ve got.

Time to take some action, methinks. Ready, set, go!

Christ, where am I?

It’s super super hot and hard to concentrate or do much of anything but lie around watching youtube videos in one’s bathing costume. I wish I had a big ol’ plastic pool in the middle of my floor with a hose and maybe a sprinkler. All my thoughts run off and away from me the moment I actually look at them.

 

360 degree view of the world

This guy is totally living the life I’d like to be living. 600 days traveling all the continents on a motorcycle. Gorgeous.

the Topography of Tears

The most marvelous thing showed up in my FB feed this morning. Gorgeous, stirring images of microscopic close ups of tears. Rose-Lynn Fisher started taking pictures of tears in the middle of a difficult time, spurred on by the question that came to her, would my sad tears look different than my happy ones? So she started taking pictures of them, of hers, of others, just to see what happened.

The names of her photo’s are almost the best part: Tears of Change (seen above), Tears of Laughing Till I’m Crying, Tears of Timeless Reunion, Tears of Ending and Beginning, Tears of Possibility and Hope, Tears of Elation at a Liminal Moment… Oh! There’s more. Go check them out.

I don’t feel like crying at all right now, but these pictures make me wish I did.