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Blood Wedding : Death, Duende and the dark god in the chart of Federico Garcia Lorca

 

Duende : literally means “ghost” or “goblin” in Spanish…traditionally used in flamenco music or other art forms to refer to the mystical or powerful force given off by a performer to draw in the audience…unspoken charm or allure

(Merriam-Webster Online)

Cover image by Val Denham for Marc and the Mambas (7″ single ‘Black Heart’)

One of Spain’s greatest poets and dramatists, Federico Garcia Lorca was born at midnight on the cusp of 5th/6th June 1898 and was one of the first martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, killed by a Nationalist militia firing squad on 19th August 1936, his body buried in an unmarked grave which has never been found.

A leading light of the Spanish avant garde and a member of the influential group of poets and artists known as the Generation of ’27 (his passionate friendship with Salvadore Dali was intense enough to provoke Dali’s wife Gala into destroying many of Lorca’s letters in a fit of jealousy), Lorca’s plays and poems are characterised not only with the Surrealism which greatly influenced his writing, but by an elusive quality known in Spanish as Duende.

Duende is difficult to define. It can be literally translated as “elf”, or “magic” and relates to a type of earth spirit which in the folklore of Spain, Portugal and the Phillippines inhabits the Dionysian groves of wild forests, and the darkness of abandoned caves and wells. In art, particularly drama, dance and the music of Flamenco, it has come to mean a savage but ephemeral quality which possesses the work (and the artist) with otherworldly charisma and allure.

To understand the quintessence of Duende, there is no better reference than Lorca himself, who in a lecture he gave in Buenos Aires in 1933, describes it as ” a force, not a labour, a struggle not a thought”, “the mystery, the roots that cling to the mire we all know”, a creature who; “sweeping the earth with its wings of rusty knives”, “delights in struggling freely with the creator on the edge of the pit”. In contrast to the Muse, that creature of reason and the intellect, Duende “surges up from the soles of the feet”. It is everything that has “Dark sounds, behind which in tender intimacy exist volcanos, ants, zephyrs and the vast night pressing its waist against the Milky Way”.

What of the astrology of Duende? What might it look like in the birth chart? Again, Lorca gives us the key: Mystery and mire, death and darkness, volcanoes and the underworld – the imagery he employs to invoke this chaotic spirit is almost exclusively Plutonian.

Lorca’s birth chart has the Sun (creativity, identity) conjunct Pluto (death, tearing apart or destroying the self to be reborn) on the cusp of the 4th house; the ‘angle of the earth’ associated with roots, ancestry and all things hidden in and under the ground. There could not be a clearer astrological signature for a spirit who destroys in order to create anew and which might well revel in mortal combat with the poet on the edge of a well.

Federico Garcia Lorca

Astro databank Rodden Rating AA: Chart by Astrogold for Mobile

Although more usually a generational influence, when the the outer planets make their presence felt via contact with a personal planet or angle in a birth chart, the individual concerned can become a gateway for powerful forces, a spokesman for a generation or, perhaps, a channel for the inspiration of a god. Oliver St John in his book “Hermetic Astrology” writes; “Pluto conjunct the Sun transmits a magnetic force for transformation; the force is directed from the individual core of the person and so others tend to identify it with the person, although it is in reality an impersonal power”. With Lorca, (Sun/Pluto conjunction) the creative identification is total and permeates not only his poems and plays, but arguably his life as well.

Next time a song, dance, poem or performance speaks directly to your soul of dark mysteries and strange sorrows, wild woodland groves and the knife-edge of death on which we feel most alive, look in the chart for the signature of Pluto conjunct the Ascendant, Sun or Moon; Duende may be nearby;

“This knife/Left two men stiffening/With yellow lips/It barely fits the hand/But slides in cold/Through startled flesh/Till it stops, there,/In the quivering/Dark/Roots/Of the scream.”

From'Blood Wedding' (Bodas de sangre) : A folk tragedy in three acts' by Federico Garcia Lorca
Excerpt from "Hermetic Astrology" by Oliver St John, ORDO ASTRI IMPRIMATUR 2015

Astrology by Louise Of Arabia www.louiseofarabia.com

Antares and Alchemy in Picasso’s “Guernica”

This month’s Full Moon at 8 Sagittarius is exactly conjunct the warlike Antares (from Anti Ares; similar to, or rival of, Mars). Antares is one of the four Royal Stars of Persia, “The Watcher of the West”, linked with the death of the year in the seasonal cycle and also with the hour of sunset, when the Sun begins his journey through the underworld before his morning resurrection in the East.

Situated in the heart of the constellation of the Scorpion, Antares has a malefic and vengeful reputation, and is at his most destructive in the chart of one of the most infamous events of the Spanish Civil War, the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica. Carried out by aircraft sent by Hitler to support Franco’s troops, the bombing lasted for almost four hours and resulted in the near destruction of the town. The attack is widely considered to have been the first recorded instance of total war, where civilians are deliberately targeted.

In the chart of the bombing, Antares is conjunct Mars; increasing the martial character of the event and escalating its destructive nature. Mars is retrograde but still within the 5 degree orb of influence. Retrograde planets often have difficulty in expressing the best of their nature and this is Mars behaving very, very badly. The expansive North Node is close by: Paired with Mars and Antares, the Head of the Dragon becomes a ravening beast, devouring all in its path.

In Picasso’s chart, the Moon exactly conjunct Antares enabled him to reflect and articulate public outrage at the bombing of Guernica by creating one of the most powerful anti-war paintings in history.

In his mural inspired by the event, the Moon in her role of woman and mother takes centre stage. Most of the figures in the midst of the carnage are women; wives and mothers on their way to market to buy food for their families. (The bombing occurred on a Monday, day of the Moon, and traditionally market day in the region). The Moon also governs our childhood and early family life: Picasso recounted that at age three, he was almost killed in an earthquake. He witnessed the near destruction of his village and this, and his subsequent fears for the health of his mother and (then unborn) baby sister later inspired the scenes of annihilation in Guernica. In contrast to more traditional depictions of battle which glorify conquest and victory, Picasso shines the Moon’s light on the dire consequences to the innocent. Working through Picasso’s chart, the Moon as bringer of peace and Lady of Grace is able to effect a miraculous alchemy, transmuting the destructive nature of Antares into an enduring call for peace.

By Louise Of Arabia www.louiseofarabia.com

Image of ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso (Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid)

Charts by Astrogold for Mobile

Right thoughts, right words, right action: Reflections on the New Moon 15th May 2018

This month’s New Moon falls at 24 Taurus 36, conjunct fixed star Capulus; the sword hilt in the constellation Perseus. By Ptolemy’s reckoning, this star is of the nature of Mercury and Mars. It bestows a determined and headstrong nature, not easily swayed from its chosen course; Shakespeare chose Capulet (derived from the same Latin root) as the name of one of the reckless and headstrong lovers in his most famous romantic tragedy

The first aspect the New Moon makes is a trine to Mars, exalted in Capricorn, further underlining the warrior-like energy of this New Moon. The harmonious nature of the aspect encourages us to temper our actions with intellect, much as Minerva’s gift of a shield of wisdom helped Perseus combat the Gorgon Medusa and the sea monster Cetus. There are parallels to be drawn with the Buddhist concept of ‘right action’; the sixth part of the Eightfold Path which counsels us to act honourably and with respect for the lives and will of everything living.

One of the greatest achievements of the magicians of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was to develop a system of correspondences where tarot cards, mythology, astrology and Kabbalah are interlinked. In this system, the myth of Perseus and Andromeda corresponds with the tarot card ‘The Lovers’, Gemini the Twins, the Hebrew letter Zayin (meaning ‘sword’) and the path on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life which links Binah (Saturn, Wisdom, Understanding) with Tiphareth (the Sun, Beauty, Harmony) The essence of this path, and the opportunity of this month’s New Moon, is the alchemy which arises from the fusion of opposites, the balance between the senses and the intellect, and the harmonious unity of the personality with the higher self which leads to knowledge of the true will:

“The boat responded

Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar

The sea was calm, your heart would have responded

Gaily, when invited, beating obedient

To controlling hands”

The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot

New Moon chart set for Greenwich, London 11:48 GMT via AstroGold for mobile

Astrology by Louise Of Arabia www.louiseofarabia.com

The Art of Parties: Salvador Dali’s Surrealist Cookbook

Chart set by AstroGold for GMT. Info from Astro-Databank Rodden Rating AA

Showman of the surreal Salvadore Dali was born with Sun in Taurus, a sign renowned for an appreciation of the finer things in life – including a love of fine dining. Dali claimed that he was drawn to the pleasures of cooking from an early age, saying that “Beauty should be edible – or not at all”: His dedication to the culinary arts bore typically exotic fruit when he published “Les Diners De Gala”; a lavish compilation of fantastical recipes dedicated to the wife he adored, featuring creations designed to challenge the skills and palate of the most adventurous cook. This is not a cookbook for the faint of heart: The lucky diner can look forward such delights as frog pasties, a modern take on the Chinese delicacy “Thousand Year-Old Eggs” and an eel-based triumph called “Conger of the Rising Sun”.

“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant” – Salvador Dali

In Dali’s recipes, just as in his paintings and sculptures, crustaceans are a recurring motif. He was fascinated by the contrast between the soft innards of crabs and lobsters and their armour-like shells: The sign of Cancer (the crab) was rising at Dali’s birth, giving a nature and outward identity which is intuitive, empathic and very sensitive to the moods of others but also adept at hiding their own emotions behind a protective mask or ‘shell’. A powerful (often photographic) memory is one of the gifts of this sign, which Dali used to advantage when recalling the dreams which inspired many of his most famous works.

The shyness usually associated with a Phlegmatic/Sanguine temperament is not immediately obvious in Dali’s case; his great fame and the enduring popularity of his work is likely the result of the Moon’s placement in Aries on the 10th house cusp. The Moon on the Midheaven usually promises a life lived in the public eye, while attention-getting Aries shouts ‘look at me!’ The Moon shining a spotlight on Aries – key phrase ‘I am’, is also beautiful astrological shorthand for one of Dali’s most famous paintings “Metamorphosis of Narcissus’.

Nevertheless, there was a strongly spiritual and deeply contemplative side to Dali, shown by his fascination with the world of dreams, fantasy and the occult, never more evident than in the creation of his own Dali Tarot deck.

” Take me, I am the drug. Take me, I am the hallucinogenic” – Salvadore Dali

The Phlegmatic nature can often find intoxicants a powerful distraction, but Dali appears to have avoided this, once famously stating; “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs”. The Phlegmatic/Sanguine type is highly adaptable but needs to work on maintaining focus and direction Harmonious relationships are highly important to the happiness of the Phlegmatic/Sanguine; many of his most famous pieces were produced following his meeting with his muse and future wife, Gala. Nine years his senior (Capricorn on the 7th house cusp can often indicate an older partner , Gala took charge of the day-to day management of his life, providing him with the tranquil and structured environment he needed to produce his best work. So important was his marriage, that Dali often acknowldged its significance by signing his artwork with both his and Gala’s names..

“Repulsion is the sentry that guards the gate to all that we most desire” – Salvadore Dali

Closely conjunct Mercury (Rx) and disposited by the Moon, Mars is Dali’s significator of manners; the planet through which the temperament expresses itself. Mars in Taurus, the sign of his detriment, bestows a stubborn and uncompromising streak; volatile and confrontational when crossed or when jealous feelings are aroused. Mars is in the sign of Venus, Lady of the Geniture (most dignified planet in the chart); these two planets working together contribute a deep sensuality and significant erotic drive to Dali’s nature and his work.

Mars is exactly conjunct Algol; the brightest star in the severed head of the Gorgon Medusa. As John Frawley writes in his article on Fixed Stars in issue 22 of ‘The Astrologer’s Apprentice’ (www.johnfrawley.com); Algol is a warning against the potentially dangerous consequences of untrammeled desire; ”Medusa can be read as the seduction of desire for all the things of the material world” which kills the soul, reducing it to stone. However, significant artistic achievement is possible when Algol’s powerful desire nature is channeled creatively. From Medusa’s blood sprang Pegasus, whose “wings allow him to aspire towards the heavens”; the symbol of aspiration born from desire and “the Hippocrene from which poets draw their inspiration”.

Mars is disposited by Venus, goddess of the arts, dignified in her own sign in the 10th, allowing Dali to positively channel the influence of Mars and Algol into works of art which fascinate us even as they speak to our hidden fears and desires.The fixed star Algol is also linked to intoxication; both the name Algol and the word alcohol are thought to be are derived from the same root, the Arabic “Ra’s al Ghul” (the demon’s head).

Which brings us back to the pages of “Les Diners De Gala”, and Dali’s recommended ‘remedy for sobriety’; the “Casanova Cocktail”: A heady potion not for the fainthearted,  as a birthday toast to Dali there can surely be no better choice.

CASANOVA COCKTAIL

The juice of 1 orange

1 tablespoon bitters (Campari)

1 teaspoon ginger

4 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons old brandy (Vielle Cure)

1 pinch Cayenne pepper

“This is quite appropriate when circumstances such as exhaustion, overwork or simply excess of sobriety are calling for a pick-me-up. Here is a well-tested recipe to fit the bill. Let us stress another advantage of this particular pep-up concoction is that one doesn’t have to make the sour face that usually accompanies the absorption of a remedy. At the bottom of a glass, combine pepper and ginger. Pour the bitters on top, then brandy and “Vielle Cure.” Refrigerate or even put in the freezer. Thirty minutes later, remove from the freezer and stir the juice of the orange into the chilled glass.

Drink… and wait for the effect.

It is rather speedy.”

By LouiseOfArabia www.louiseofarabia

Title inspired (with thanks) to Sylvian, Karn, Jansen and Barbieri