Happy New Year! I’ve spent much of the holidays gardening, and finding unexpected treasures, img_3060like an aubergine plant full of nascent  eggplants, happily hidden in the semi-shade of an abundant salvia. In a similar spirit, I just went through my old blog posts, which I had set to private when I rebuilt the site last year. I was so heartened to reread the many wonderful comments from thoughtful people in various parts of the world that I decided to reinstate some of the posts, without realising this would set off a deluge of notifications to subscribers. Sorry! I should know by now not to do anything major to my website while Mercury is still retrograde and in fact in one of the most vulnerable points of its cycle as it appears from our vantage point to turn stationary direct.

Despite my objections to Mercury retro paranoia it does insist on being a factor worth paying attention to. I experience it as much internally as externally, and find myself far less communicative than usual. Hence the lack of any writing here for the past few weeks. But going through old material is a perfect activity for a Mercury retro/end of old year/beginning of new year phase — just as long as you don’t mistakenly create a string of redundant emails like I did. Again, my apologies.

For many of us the New Year won’t feel like it has really begun until the first New Moon after the retrograde ends, which will be January 28. This is also Chinese New Year, and the end of Metal Monkey and start of Fire Rooster. This is one of those years when the Western symbolism of the sky/earth relationship matches the Eastern, with an emphasis on fire signs, especially vivid in March, August and December. This suggests a year of rapid change and accompanying conflict. On the plus side, inspiration, intimacy and connection will be readily available. Just watch for burnout, egomania, and mistaken enthusiasms.

(It is a fascinating element of digital life that despite scientism, astrology, which from a modernist view has no basis, with its enduringly pre-Copernican perspective and lack of hard evidence, has experienced a renaissance. I wrote about some of the reasons why the sky still impels us despite, or because of, this apparent dissonance, in my collection of essays Sky Mirror.)

Back to the issue of heat: here in southeast Australia of course it is summer, and we are in the grip of an ongoing sequence of heatwaves. I live in a classic Victorian, uninsulated and as charming as it is hopeless at countering weather extremes (I am fated to live in unpractical but beautiful homes). My dog lies in the darkest part of the hallway, long-suffering and still. We will take refuge this evening in a friend’s air-conditioned house. I’m learning that in extremity heat wrecks plans and thus dissolves the ego just as well as the cold does, if not more so. It’s harder to cool a house than to warm it. Heat sticks around if the temperature doesn’t dip enough at night, and becomes a constant that quite radically changes behaviour. Sitting in cold water and sticking one’s head in the fridge become a novel kind of joy: the great pleasure of feeling cooled. The fans whirr incessantly, but the air still moves slowly, thickened by the heat. Even the bugs are too hot to fly. I flop from seat to sofa to bed, alternately gazing at screen, book and phone, searching, more slowly than usual, for the next elusive but inevitable inspiration, connection, realisation. My preferred food is now very cold watermelon, my favourite drink iced water.

Somehow in this experience of strong heat, and in the hiding from it, are clues about the year to come. We must do what is necessary. Survival will become a more widespread issue. We will become aware of the flimsiness of our collective insulation. All of this is already happening. Which reminds me of a great quote from Doris Lessing, who wrote stirringly and scarily of future dystopia, that it is easy to see what will happen in the future, for the seeds of it are already here. As more of an optimist by nature, I persist in believing that the inventiveness and inner morality of human beings will continue to develop, and that something very good will be born out of the ecological crisis we are stumbling towards, weighed down by greed and acquisitiveness. In that spirit, this year I am pledging not buy anything new that is not entirely necessary, and I have a list of what those things will be. I’ve unsubscribed from all shopping related emails so I won’t see those tempting sales that catch me in a weak moment. Wish me luck, for I love a bauble. But that spirit of buying a thing because it is there is getting us in a right sticky mess. And I think that the conscious movement to detach from consumerism needs to step up a notch. I will report back later…..

Whatever you are doing this year, I wish you wisdom in action, compassion of heart, and health of body and mind. Sent with much love, Lara.

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