Am I going to have a car accident now because Mercury is in retrograde? Am I safe from car accidents the rest of the time because Mercury is direct? Shall I initiate nothing for the next month because the planets are more powerful than the clarity of my vision? Shall we all just sit around and wait, hoping not to awake the sleeping astral giant of calamity? Will June 2008 be not worth living due to something as insanely shallow as a little misfortune, even if it does come? Are fortune and luck what we are living for anyway–elaborately constructing our lives so as to catch the planetary winds at just the precisely perfect moment so everything will be ok?
Stop it right now everybody. Come on. Can we please look life directly in the eyes again here?
Chaos is always present. We don’t get to draw tidy boundaries around it and pretend the rest of life operates according to some magical order. A lot of times there is no control, and everything is chaotic, and there is no god or law or element organizing everything and making things happen for a reason.
We are so afraid of admitting that there is chaos, and become greedy for explanations. But chaos is always out there, just beyond the edge of our imperfect explanations. Even when Mercury is not in retrograde! Myths and archetypes just give an operating framework within the chaos.
Which is all good. I love that. I saw Indiana Jones on Monday and take rueful energy from its image of disheveled scholarly heroism—a hero who winkingly apologizes for his own cornball sincerity even as he smashes power hungry commies (and capitalists, this time) in the face, chases away the demons of unreason, glorifies fieldwork (!) as the real route to knowledge of the world, and (especially) bears witness to magical-realist secrets that the scientific framework can never incorporate. Indy’s a real fucker, but he’s also perfect. How do I even know what kind of scholar I am without that image? Would I have even thought to research culture as an object, wear khakis and live in the tropics, or button up for the ivory tower without that image?
Astrology—the idea that I’m a Scorpio/Aries in a productive cycle at the height of my powers—is the same. There’s a lot of energy in that archetype and myth, even if there is no literal “truth” in it at all. Experience is the only thing I have, the only thing that I can honestly say is true. I like having some structure, but the control it gives is a game.
Archetypes and myths are interpretive. Not explanatory. They create meaning and outline possibilities for action in an uncertain world. They are not the reason that things happen. I am (sometimes). Other times there’s no reason to be found at all.