Women Under the Influence: An Interface (Part 1–Julian Assange)

by on Aug.03, 2011

It’s no small matter that the word influence derives from Astrology, since Astrology’s objective, in large part, is to elucidate the interplay of mythic characters engaged in mythic narratives, and subsequently apply those insights to the revelation of psychic material (á la, for example, Archetypal Psychology; or Freud also works (less well), et al, pick your poison, but some practice of Astrology has been influencing & informing human consciousness–at the very least–since the advent of human consciousness). As a practice, Astrology is both Socratic and Mystic in its aim to expand consciousness and its exaltation of same. I think the ancient folk knew what they were doing (“considered future generations”) when they fastened the old stories to the cosmic field–an inclusively visible, celestial overmind. Astrology, perhaps, proposed and provided the original framework for managing a collective unconscious, one timelessly reflected in the vast mythic map imprinted up there in the sky.

The word “zodiac” comes from the Greek zodiacus: “little creatures.” Horoscope (“watching hour”):  a map of the planets on the sun’s orbital plane (eclipse) at the exact time and place of one’s birth. What are the little creatures up to up there. One is born beneath a vibrating mirror of sky on which the little creatures play, one takes one’s first breath, one has a face now, is influenced and influential. Enfaced enfant. A karmic event that happens well in advance of Lacan’s discombobulated mirror, linguistic utterance, alterity, standard assessments, and so forth. I’m a doula, I’ve seen this. Like seeing in the Tiresian sense such a mirror–cosmic horizons replacing, as boundary, placental ones; a primal transcendence.

If Astrology, like Art, belongs to superstition (Latin, superstitio: “standing over in amazement; surviving; religious exaltation”), then in order to accommodate, in my own conscious assessment of reality, the existence of: the stock market, corporate personhood, wildly unbalanced distribution of global resources, the weather, “products,” “democracy,” the CIA, state of the union addresses, the fucking media (bar Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!, which I wish everyone had the wherewithal to watch or hear every day), bail-outs, wars on “drugs” & “terror,” or simply the brutal fact that our government’s chief occupation is mass fucking [moral] murder, etc etc, I have to either get extremely high, or constantly and radically re-evaluate the signifiers that determine cultural convention. Or both, which has proved a winning & recommended tactic thus far. Astrology is a system of signifiers, like language but without all the borders, hierarchies, privileged access, instability. Much like the innate & eccentric architecture of a poem, the arrangement of celestial bodies at any given moment rewards interpretive anarchy. Every living creature on Earth experiences and will always share with each other this celestial archive.

The stock market influences us. Money–which in essence does not even actually exist, has no essence, cannot be distilled, is merely a concept of a concept of a concept2 around which we’ve staked the entire human, if not panbiologic, enterprise–profoundly influences most of the us that we are. The stars and planets belong, do they not, to Nature? Maybe they don’t, I honestly don’t know (what does “Nature” consist of, i.e., what are its outer limits?) In any case they stand over us, precede us, and survive us. Form, configuration, pattern, signature, story–these persist (“as above so below”): reliable, democratizing, vibrantly pulsating influences, free of charge, and as such firmly posited as the enemy of empire (which deals precisely in the opposite of known knowns.) Like all omnipresent allies in the project of consciousness expansion (such as psychedelics, which don’t even get me started)–those indigenous vessels of clarity, democracy, collectivity, ecstasy, the sublime, the ultimately unknowable, unsalable (although I guess you can buy and name stars??), and uncolonizable–Astrology (some might say like childbirth, or a gift economy, or, no doubt, poetry) has been hijacked by the four horsemen and their fleet of hungry ghosts. Who merrily merrily merrily merrily keep razing the track on which they speed us along to their cherished apocalypse. Meanwhile, The Planet Formerly Known as ‘Pluto’ stands over us, laughing his ass off.

With this in mind, and as an overdue contribution to Montevidayo’s Influence Fest, I hope to present some of my earthly influences via some semblance of an astrological method in a series of dialogs between myself (“Sarah F”) and my gifted colleague/comadre S (“Sarah C”).

(Suggested Reading: “Hans Ulrich Obrist, in Conversation with Julian Assange,” Part 1Part 2)


Sarah F:

Monica beat me to establishing the astrological roots of the word influence, but that’s probably because her sun is in Cancer (July 1, according to FB) and Cancer is a cardinal sign, while my sun is in mutable Gemini. In fact, both my rising sign (Virgo) and moon sign (Pisces) are likewise mutable, and this overlay of mutability upon my character (and/or destiny) proves challenging to myself and others. My Pluto/Uranus Conjunction Conj. my Ascendant (more on the significance of a Pluto/Uranus conjunction, esp as examined by Richard Tarnas, in a future Interface) no doubt influences my fascination with, and admiration for, Julian Assange:

Julian Assange, natal chart

Julian Assange, not surprisingly, is a Scorpio rising, with Cancer/[Sagittarius] Sun, and 12th house Scorpio moon. (I just have to confess at this point that Cancer & Scorpio are, generally, not my faves.) Saturn in Gemini in his 7th house (I also have a 7th house Saturn, so I know how much it sucks), opposing Jupiter/Neptune conjunction in 1st house, 9th house Mercury in Cancer trining 1st house conj., and of course his north node CONJ Mars, in 4th house Aquarius/[Cancer], squaring 1st house conj (!) and trined with 8th [Scorpio] house (!) Venus in Gemini. A Libra Uranus in 11th [Aquarius] house, Pluto not far behind in 11th house Virgo (just past the infamous Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the late 60s, in Virgo, under which my generation was born and which may yet {you never know} prompt us to initiate, or at least gatekeep, a Revolution, which the two signs, as combined force, epitomize). Saturn opposes 1st house conj. Almost looks like a thunderbird diving into his 1st house! I love this chart, don’t you? It’s so obvious. Also, Cancers seem to be hounding me! (Or maybe they’re helping me?!) Julian Assange had a significant relationship with his mother, as I recall from that New Yorker profile, like most Cancer types (absentee dad, I think, for JA). Cancer is the sign of the mother, and is ruled by the moon. But Julian Assange’s chart is ruled by Pluto (duh) due to his Scorpio ASC. Uranus squaring his sun accounts for the hacking genius, not to mention, due to this dynamic’s configuration, his strong impulse to apply this genius to caring/sacrificing for & servicing the illumination of the collective. Oh, I just enlarged the chart and realized that both Jupiter & Neptune conjunct in the 1st house are RETROGRADE. But I don’t really know what that means. I am profoundly influenced by the prospect of facilitating liberation in others.

Sarah C:
Sarah is not “hounded” by Cancers, she is attracting them to her. She is inviting them. We attract the signs we are most “behaving” like, who we want to become…or, we are just hanging out at places where they are most likely to be (for example, do you hang out in Opium dens? Then you will feel hounded by Pisces.  S&M clubs and the US Senate? Scorpios. Clinic waiting rooms, interior design studios, or Eleusis? Virgos.  Scrabble tournaments? Geminis. Where is Sarah hanging out? Maternity wards? Artist residencies? Kitchens? As Cancer’s opposite sign, I am tempted to write, “Kleenex aisles?” Because as all Capricorns know: Cancers are cry-babies who can’t get with the “real world!” Oh what? Meow meow feelings hurt, Cancer, meow meow? Or, this could just be residual anger at my own mother, who is, in fact, a Cancer).

Is it naive to be thinking, still, about Astrology? After all, Darwin, Freud, the good folks at Pfizer, Hitchens, the market, the inquisitors, hell the LIGHT OF CHRIST, have shown us time and time again that agents outside the mind, outside the market, outside of rational behavior, do not make meaning, do not influence us. We need not bow to the golden calf or pay attention to moon phases or carry a bit of our baby blanket in our pocket. None of that will protect us and we don’t need “protecting” from anything. Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age, remarks on the great lack of vulnerability we now experience from things outside our “mind.” We don’t need exorcisms. We don’t need to look to the sky for answers. The answer is this: You’re crazy, get a prescription, get a job, and all the “evil” things happening to you ARE ALL IN YOUR MIND and, because you’re not organized.  Get a day planner. Go for a run.

Sarah F:

You’re bringing to mind Dale Pendell’s notion of shamanic comportment and wagers, as outlined in a recent Conduit interview:

One approach is to say that all of the voices come from inside us, or from some collective unconscious, or from complexes, or whatever a rational humanist interpretation might be We could map that onto an older system, a shamanic system that says there are entities and powers and spirits about, which can speak. There’s a lot of tradition behind this worldview. In classical times, for example, there was a big debate about whether the Delphic Oracle spoke in her own voice or whether she was actually possessed by a god who spoke through her. We could take a shamanic approach and say, ‘Maybe the string of bad luck that you’re having, for example, is because some entity is displeased with you. Maybe you broke some taboo, maybe it was completely by accident, you hit a bump or took a turn too quickly.’ Sometimes, we can displease the gods quite innocently. Maybe it will be prescribed for you to do a pilgrimage, make an offering, something to re-establish harmony and beauty in the world. That’s another way of going about it. . . Taking this a bit further, we could ask, ‘How could a tobacco offering at the base of a tree change anything?’ Or, ‘What difference could saying grace before eating a meal make?’ I mean if you really think about it, practically, reverie is a waste of time. In fact isn’t eating really just a waste of time? Why not just swallow a pill and get on with the things that are really important? Like making money, something real. This is where it comes down to a wager. You can’t really prove it either way, but if we look at how people have done it for a long time, before this great anomaly of advanced civilization, we find that all people everywhere were truly more shamanic. Even Nietzsche came to that: ‘A sense of gratitude is seemly.’

Sarah C:

Assange thinks he is no longer victimized by the vulnerability Taylor alludes to (b/c of his retro Neptune, as Sarah mentioned? A lack of the recognition of porousness? Drinking wine without water? Underestimating the sacred?) Bringing secrets to light: didn’t he learn from the Fairy Tales that if you mention to Baba what you saw her doing with her skeleton hands, you get killed? But if you act as if you saw nothing, you can push her into an oven while her back is turned? I’m not saying that I endorse this course of action. I know smart people would suggest bringing up the honest truth to clear the air with the witch. She certainly will see reason and explain why she has a pair of animated skeleton hands sorting seeds! I just know, with my strong forward Neptune and Pisces rising, that life is blurry. I can’t tell the secrets that should be kept from the ones that should be brought out to the light of day. Sarah F. has Pisces moon. Porous boundaries. Too much wine and too much water all at once. Are we drunk or just drowning? Assange is trying to get us in the life boat but we know Neptune will never let that boat make it all the way across.

Sarah F:
I think Assange knows what he’s doing and has made his peace with the witch. I think the witch has his back. I don’t think he’s bothered by the life boat or by any nostalgia at this point. He’s just a pawn. He goes on. Maybe he’s more vulnerable than you give him credit for (we have not discussed his 5th house Chiron in Aries!), in fact has succumbed to it, is like so objective as to be practically reducing himself to a mere interwebbed fractal. Except for his embrace of hierarchy, the (albeit clinical) messianic tendency, which I reject. But, whatever, at least he’s keeping it real. And as it happens I unequivocally support his stance, even though I really despise information, I can’t take any more information, I’m buried in the rubble of information. I’m talking about transparency, about secrets: which I really hate, even more than information. I hate secrets. I hate other peoples’ secrets. I have nothing to say about my own.


Stay tuned for our musings on Marina Abramovic (The Nothingness That Is), Cave Art & The Venus of Hohle Fels, Plant Medicines & the Doctrine of Signatures, The Art of Cruelty & Hiromi Ito’s “Anjuhimeko,” Sustained Mourning & its Shamanic Components as a Functional Aesthetic, Maya Deren and “the time quality of a woman,” and potentially more.

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18 comments for this entry:
  1. Jeffrey

    I look forward to “The Art of Cruelty & Hiromi Ito’s “Anjuhimeko,””! I am not sure I ever told you, Sarah, but I wrote a long article about that poem in 2007. Would be happy to share…

  2. Johannes Göransson

    I object to this depiction of cancers as Cry Babies.

    The Weeper

  3. Sarah Fox

    Jeffrey, I would love to read your article–“Anjuhimeko” is my favorite thing in the book.


    Oh meow meow Johannes!

  4. John

    Yes to astrology as consciousness expansion – it seems a willful dissociation to not experience ourselves as beings within a celestial organism/story. And not seeing celestial bodies/spaces as animate is at best a denial of the majority of human visionary knowledge. It brings to mind Terrence McKenna:

    “The brain-mind system is a quantum-mechanically delicate enough system that incoming input from the morphogenetic field can push cascades of chemical energy one way or another so that in the act of daydreaming or psychedelic tripping you’re actually scanning the field. If that were the case, what we call the imagination is actually the universal library of what is real. This possibility, to me, is very empowering, and I suspect this is the truth you learn at the center of the psychedelic experience, that’s so mind-boggling you can’t really return to ordinary reality with it. If thinking about the heavens as organic, integrated and animate makes this more probable, I’m all for it.”

    Almost the only thing that could have helped Ron and Nancy Reagan not become agents of apocalypse is if they’d had a better astrologer than Joan Quigley. And if astrology moves us closer to understanding the cosmos as an animate story we inhabit, then where does that leave the Parties (Tea, Democratic, Republican, Nazi, etc.) of the Apocalypse? They are consciously or unconsciously at war with discovering meaning in the universe through the perception of its animation. Of course to challenge the dominant understanding of the cosmos is a difficult political act (Giordano Bruno, Galilleo) but there is something to gain, yes?

    PS Nothing wrong with weeping, JG. In fact, I would put out a call for more weeping, were I the anthologist of North American emotion.

  5. Johannes

    I was joking. I’m full of weeping.


  6. Sarah Fox

    I should clarify that some of the most significant people in my life are Cancers, including my grandmother, my daughter (Cancer rising), an amazing baby AND his mom who let me encapsulate their placenta, and a few distinguished others. Cancers are always there at the threshold, in tears. Also, as you’ll note, I’m not Cancer-free: Jupiter & Mercury conjunct in 10th house Cancer. Do I expect (or exhibit) grandiose emotional drama in my work and public environments? Do I have anxiety that I am not perceived as a “good enough mother”? Am I exceedingly impressionable, obsessed with thoughts about feelings, skilled at procuring social benefit via my “sensitivity”? Of course.

    And speaking of Mercury folks, it just went retrograde, which explains why your postal worker is on crutches, your visiting mother-in-law (whose flight was delayed for 7 hours because an air traffic controller got struck by lightning) spilled her Chardonnay on your new laptop, and your conversations are constantly interrupted by people saying “What?” to you.

  7. Lara Glenum

    What does Cancer rising mean? Cuz I’m that, too.

    Does it mean that people frequently mistake me for Johannes, aka the Weeper?

    It’s true, we do like to fling tears out of our eyes while doing death drops at public spectacles. Here’s a recent picture of us at a Cancer convention:


    Not sure who the dear is.

  8. Lara Glenum

    I mean deer! The dear deer.

  9. JoeA

    “Because as all Capricorns know: Cancers are cry-babies who can’t get with the “real world!” Oh what? Meow meow feelings hurt, Cancer, meow meow? Or, this could just be residual anger at my own mother, who is, in fact, a Cancer).”

    As a Capricorn with the same Mother, I give this post a double thumbs up. Surprised that this post doesn’t have a Mister Rodgers tag, however.

  10. Sarah Fox

    Good point Joe. I’ve added the tag, for your convenience.

  11. Lucas de Lima

    There is no party without a shaman. People need to stop eating vegan mush, look at stars, and touch themselves.

  12. Jared

    I’m prompted by this to think of the whole Mayan calendar thing and the move from a geocentric to heliocentric worldview. The premise of the Mayan calendar is that it is galaxy-centered, possibly an even more holistic *world*view. But I don’t know how galactic influences intersect with the zodiac. Any thoughts?

    Lovely post…

  13. Sarah Fox

    Thanks Jared! As the oldest of 6 children, I was also very moved by your (first) post on Proliferation and domestic indeterminacy. I look forward to reading your second installment!

    The Mayans had their own Astrology based on 20 Sun Signs and 13 “Galactic Tones” that corresponded to their 260-day Tzolkin Calendar. The Maya system of calendars and almanacs is considerably more complex than our Gregorian calendar (itself a revision of the Julian calendar which was designed through consultation with the ASTROLOGER Sosigenes of Alexandria). The Maya used this Tzolkin calendar as their “Sacred Round” to designate ceremonial events and for divination. One theory about this 260 day calendar is that it was based on the length of human pregnancy, and was developed by midwives to predict due dates. Ix Chel, the Maya fertility goddess, is the mythic overseer of this calendar. You can learn your Mayan Sun Sign and Galactic Tone by plugging your date of birth in at this site: http://www.mayanmajix.com/TZOLKIN/index.php I know next to nothing about Maya Astrology except that my Galactic Tone is 12 (“Understanding”) and my Sun Sign is K’at (“Seed”), which I only discovered about 5 minutes ago.

    That Maya had other calendars in addition to this sacred Tzolkin calendar, including a solar calendar known as Haab’, Calendar Rounds which incorporate the short count and the long count, as well as supplementary calendars such as the “Lord of the Night,” “Moon Age,” and “Venus Series.” It really is, as you suggest, a prophetically galactacocentric worldview, holistic as well as multidimensional/multivalent in perspective scope, and certainly cyclical rather than eschatological. Thus, the popular fantasy that 12/21/12–the date the Maya Calendar concludes its “13 baktun”–will bring about an instantaneous “end of the world” is more a reflection of the dominant culture’s imaginative limitation (death drive) than any valid reading of the Maya perception of time. Mayan scholars instead suggest that the Maya did not conceive of an “end of creation,” but rather the conclusion of “Great Cycles” and the beginnings of new ones. In this sense–of using calendar systems based on astronomical phenomena to prepare for and predict future events–the Maya Calendar intersects with the Western astrology (based, as we know it, on a 2nd C. AD treatise by Ptolemy) utilized above.

    But yeah, this is all pretty complex and considerably over my head, or maybe involves too much math/physics. Returning to Terence McKenna, he suggested that our current situation of planetary crisis and the acceleration of time could, paradoxically, be hurtling us toward a kind of birth rather than extinction: “not driven by the momentum of bad historical decisions, but something that’s built into the laws of physics. We are literally on a collision course with an object that we cannot precisely discern, lying just below the event horizon of rational apprehension; nevertheless, our cultural east is streaked with the blush of rosy dawn. What it portends, I think, is an end to our fall, to our sojourn in matter, to our separateness. We are truly going beyond ambiguity, beyond syntax. It lies now so close to us in historical time, by virtue of us having collapsed our options in three-dimensional space, that you need only close your eyes, have a dream, take a shamanic hallucinogen, practice yoga, and there you will see it–a universal attractor, and we’ve fallen into its basin of attraction…. The ride to the end of history is going to be a white-knuckled experience. I offer this metaphor in the hope that it may make the trip to the transcendental object, glittering at the end of time, an easier ride.”

  14. Sarah Fox


    Think of the rising sign as more your “public face,” ego, appearance, your “energy” as others would characterize it, while the sun sign is more like destiny, innate gift or purpose, karma. A rudimentary explanation, but so much depends–for astrologers (and I’m no astrologer)–on the entire chart. You’re Sag (according to FB)? Would be interesting to do an astro comparison of you & Johannes. Then we might be able to figure out who that dearling deer is.

  15. Sarah Fox

    Lucas: right on.

  16. Jared

    Just getting back to this, and you confirm my own readings of the Mayan cosmology, sparse and infrequent as they have been. Thanks for the link, have not had time to see if there is an easy way to look up my Mayan birth signs. Lastly, McKenna’s quote is wild and certainly seems to capture the geist of our present moment. Thanks and hope to see more!

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