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"The Craft - of life - as an artform"
Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952
"Prodigal Daughter" Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Jan. 9, 1999
Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology, The Professional Manual, by Noel Tyl, Llewellyn, 1994
Last Month I dove spinning head over heels into the subject of "Threat Response" as a component of Honor, Honor being the most vital self-defense an Initiate has.
Through the study of Noel Tyl's books on astrology, I've begun to regard Tyl's analysis of the position and condition of the Moon's Nodes in a natal chart in terms of the "Mother's Influence" as the source of our habitual response to threat.
One would ordinarily assume, in our culture, that threat-response is derived from a Father's teaching. And to an extent the form and nature of the response is influenced by the masculine side of one's Parenting (10th/4th House axis). But -- I am beginning to suspect that it is the Mother's Influence that teaches us to identify a threat.
Years ago, in a study of the mechanism of Initiation (why and how it has the effect it does), I worked out my own definition of the relationship between Initiation and the Tree of Life. To do that I had to challenge the traditional interpretation of the two side pillars of the Tree as "Masculine" and "Feminine" -- or "Form" and "Function" -- and in that process I arrived at a personal (probably original -- original thinking is what SF/F writers do for a living, you know, and it gets to be a habit) concept of what constitutes Masculine and Feminine; Father Archetype and Mother Archetype.
This chain of reasoning would require a whole, huge, abstract philosophical book to explain, (it took years to create) but I'll just tell you my off-the-wall conclusion because it was that conclusion which triggered my gasp of admiration for this episode of ST:DS9. Apparently someone in the ST:DS9 creative staff holds a somewhat similar view founded on different reasoning. Or maybe it's just my perception today because I've been putting together a seminar on karmic astrology that I must teach in March.
"Masculine" is our culture's perception of The Warrior Archetype transforming into The King Archetype.
"Feminine" is our culture's perception of The Artisan Archetype transforming into The Artist Archetype.
Any living human being is a mixture of Masculine and Feminine -- a mixture rarely evenly balanced. And in our culture, the only thing worth being is The King.
Note, my perception of Feminine does not lead to The Queen -- but to The Artist.
I have mentioned in this column, and in my Tarot Books (see www.simegen.com/reviews/rereadablebooks for The Biblical Tarot: Never Cross a Palm With Silver and news of the other 5 in that series) that I see our current, Hellenistic derived culture as built around a core assumption that Life is a zero-sum-game. The oft-repeated view "Life is a Game of Football" says Life is a Zero-Sum-Game -- the only way to "win" is if someone else "loses."
And it seems to me our threat-assessment and response is built upon that assumption. Any situation in which someone else Wins is a situation in which "I" Lose (6 Wands Reversed). It is the business of "The King" to see to it that his country (family) (I) does not Lose -- i.e. to prevent "other" from winning.
The thematic statement I saw in this episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine said (shouted) "Life Is An Artform, Not A Football Game."
In other words, "Life" is the result of the action of the fully developed Feminine. The "shape of your Life" is wrought by your personal application and interpretation of your "Mother's" (Natal Nodal Axis condition) training as an Artisan (Page cards) and Initiation into the mystique of Art (Queen cards).
"The Craft" that we so glibly discuss is actually the methodology of blending the skill-sets of Masculine (10th/4th House axis in the natal chart) with the Feminine (Nodal axis). The Craft is a path toward understanding Football as an Artform in which one team assists the other team to "win" and thereby "wins also" not understanding Football as a contest for dominance in which the objective is to prevent others from winning.
For most, "The Craft" is a term that refers to the systematic study of Magick in ceremonial application, Wicca being the best known example. But ceremonial magic works because it is congruent to (in "Correspondence" with) the shape of Life itself. And, for me, that's the essence of Wicca. Harmony not dominance.
The shape of our Life that we have Crafted is what most people refer to as karma. "Karma" is an artform. Karma doesn't come in "good" vs. "bad." Karma comes in "well-crafted" vs. "sloppily crafted" -- just like novels do.
I have only seen this episode of Deep Space Nine once so far, but I think this is an Emmy quality script -- I think it may be an example of a "perfect" script, in the same category with Classic Trek's Amok Time. When a script's technical perfection reaches this level, it becomes easy to grasp the thematic statement, and the emotional impact of the story hits with pinpoint accuracy and no collateral damage.
Let me show you what I saw.
Teaser presents Ezri Dax (a humanoid intelligence carrying a symbiote who is also intelligent. Ezri is the resident Psych. Counselor on DS9) interacting with colleagues on DS-9. Portrait of a functional family. The discussion is about Judzia Dax, previous host for the Dax symbiote -- thus there is family history, though Ezri herself is new to this family.
Chief O'Brien is missing. He's gone off to "hunt" a woman who is missing, and for whom he accepts family responsibility. Now he's disappeared. The Functional Family response is to go hunt the missing person, and Ezri does this by going home to confront her mother - tense emotions there - because her mother can help find O'Brien where Starfleet can't.
Ezri has not been home (has been "missing" from home) for years, but nobody from "home" came "hunting" her.
She gets home and we see a portrait of a dysfunctional family -- juxtaposed to Ezri's extremely functional "family" on DS-9. The characters are introduced in the proper formulaic order.
1. The brother-the-artist-who-keeps-the-books for the family business. (he is the guilty party)
2. The brother-who-is-a-jock and runs the family business. (he is only implicated in the guilt)
3. The Mother who is turning the business over to the sons. (she's innocent -- except that she trained her children in assessing and responding to threat)
We learn that the Orion Syndicate (organized crime) is pressuring this family business. The mother won't play ball. The jock-brother will. The artist is caught in the middle.
The mother finds Chief O'Brien and we learn that the woman Chief O'Brien was hunting has been killed -- by the Syndicate? We see the artist brother break down and destroy his artistic product of years' work. We see he's been devalued by his "Mother" because of his art-vocation, and he's cracking under that strain (foreshadowing his guilt).
The dead woman had been on the payroll of the family company as a favor to the syndicate - a favor granted by the jock-brother. The artist knew; the mother didn't.
Portrait of Dysfunctional Family in confrontation. It comes out that the jock-brother didn't murder the woman. The syndicate didn't murder the woman. The Artist Brother did.
Why? He tells his story. Having seen him as Artist, we understand at once -- his ability to assess and respond appropriately to a threat has been destroyed by his Mother's refusal to nurture his Artistic Vocation. (she hangs his art that he finds embarrassingly bad in her living room).
His ability to "Craft" his Life as an artform has been crippled by a "Developmental Deficit" (to use Noel Tyl's phrase for a problematic Nodal Axis).
Juxtaposed to this, we see Chief O'Brien and Ezri assessing and dealing with the threat of the Orion Syndicate. Portrait of a functional family.
Final Scene: Ezri's mother asks if she caused this to happen as her tormented son is taken away by the law. Ezri is silent. She can't answer that. She turns and leaves without answering. Portrait of a functional daughter of a dysfunctional family returning to her functional family.
We didn't know Ezri before she received the Dax symbiote, so we don't know how dysfunctional she might have been. But now, she is definitely functional.
The dysfunction portrayed in this Artist is precisely what Noel Tyl, in Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology, The Professional Manual, labels "Developmental Deficit" and it is one obvious causative force that generates the Life-Shape that we usually refer to as karma.
It seems to me that if we refrain from Crafting our Life as an artform and insist on living it as a zero-sum-game we will always end up with repeating patterns of "inappropriate" threat-assessment and threat-response. This is messy enough for an ordinary person. For a Magician this is potentially dangerous. Power magnifies the effect.
To Send books for review in this column contact Jacqueline Lichtenberg.
Until I get the direct links installed here, you can find these titles by using copy/paste (in MSIE use right mouse button to get the copy/paste menue to work inside text boxes) to insert them in the search slot below -- then click Book Search and you will find the page where you can discover more about that book, or even order it if you want to. To find books by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, such as the new Biblical Tarot series, search "Jacqueline Lichtenberg" below.
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Reviewed by Jacqueline Lichtenberg