Welcome to our new TMA Tuesday Blog: Astro-Rumination with Ross O’Brien
The following piece reflects on the Dec. 14th 2020 Eclipse at 23 degrees Sagittarius. The day The Mountain Astrologer magazine was adopted by Egregore, Inc.
I’d like to preface that what I’m about to write is not grounded in scientific research nor any kind of deep astrological understanding. As I write that, I realize that it may be superfluous because it should become painfully obvious the further you read into this blog, that I might actually not have any idea what I’m talking about. If I haven’t lost you already, I ask that as we embark on this brief journey together that we both accept that what is forthcoming is a collection of musing, meanderings, and personal reflections that have been sprinkled with a superficial understanding of astrology and a pinch of science, both of which were the result of about a thirty-minute Google search. If we can agree to those terms, then let us proceed and hopefully have some fun in the process.
The solar eclipse taking place on December 14, 2020 is doing so at around 23 – 24 degrees Sagittarius, which is just a few degrees shy of the designated center of our galaxy. As a somewhat embarrassing side note, it took me a long time as a child and perhaps a young adult, to realize that the candy bar was named after the galaxy and not the other way around. Since we’re on a tangent, it might be fun for you to know that the galaxy actually goes by different names in different cultures. China calls it the “Silver River” and in parts of Africa it is known as the “Backbone of Night.” Sorry (not sorry) if I just popped anyone’s ethnocentric bubble.
Are we having fun yet?
If you’ve never done an internet search on the galactic center, I highly recommend it. Among the mass of information that was probably conceived in a doomsday bunker somewhere in the “Emerald Triangle” region of Northern California, you will find some fascinating scientific and historical facts.
What is truly at the center of the galaxy is relatively new discovery. Though, it is fun to read through the centuries of educated guesses about where and what it was. It does seem, that with each educated guess the understanding of the center of the galaxy started to take clearer and clearer shape in the collective consciousness of the scientific community. That’s how it works, right? We get to assume that we’re right about something until someone proves us wrong and then the torch is briefly passed until the next person comes along and proves them wrong. I can’t wait to see what ends up being wrong about what we think we certainly know today.
I don’t think I’ve written a single word about the eclipse yet, have I? I wouldn’t get your hopes up. I’m not headed toward any clear destination here.
As best we know, the center of our galaxy is made up of a super massive black hole about 4 million times the mass of the Sun. That would be a staggeringly impressive statistic if my brain possessed the power to conceptualize it. Instead, when I try to picture a black hole 4 million times the mass of the Sun my mind goes pretty much black with nothingness. I don’t even know where to begin imagining. A swirling vortex of emptiness that has exceptionally large mass due to the way gravity works? Go ahead…. start drawing me a picture. I dare you.
Ok, so it turns out you can find a photo of it on NASA’s website but that’s not very much fun and I only promised you a pinch of science in this article.
I remember when I first met Rae Sapp from The Mountain Astrologer, she jokingly asked me what dark matter was. My very literal brain took the question seriously and I came back to her a week later with an answer. Obviously, it was not a scientific answer because this, as it turns out, is one of the currently unknown aspects of our reality. I realize that dark matter and black holes are two different things but because we don’t really know what dark matter is, I don’t know that anyone can definitively say that they aren’t the same thing. And in my mind, they sound a lot like the same thing so I’m going to draw a very weak corollary relationship between the two and then continue writing.
What I told Rae was that I thought dark matter was the part of myself that I didn’t have the capacity to access yet. I tend to think that I’m the center of the Universe, let alone the galaxy, so of course I made both the question and the answer about myself. Perhaps, we can chalk that up to my natal Venus in Sagittarius in the 1st house.
My narcissistic tendencies aside, I think there’s something worth discussing here. We always have aspects of ourselves that we haven’t yet come into contact with. We have blindspots. Put another way, there are many things about ourselves that we don’t even know that we don’t know. If you think you know yourself in totality, then imagine being dropped off naked in the middle of the Sahara desert with no money, no water, no food, and no idea how to find your way out. Whether we survived or not, we better believe that we would all discover new sides of ourselves in that scenario that were previously dormant due to the comfort of our modern lives. It wouldn’t even take a such a dramatic shift in context to get in touch those sides. For example, I know I have a lot of grief stored somewhere inside about some of the traumatic experiences I’ve been through in my life and yet I don’t often have access to those emotions unless they are triggered by some external stimuli that my nervous designates as similar to the conditions that were present during the moment traumatic impression. And yet through therapy, or some kind of contemplative practice, or even astrology, we can learn to access those dormant aspects of ourselves. We open up the aperture, so to speak, which enhances our potential as human beings to have a greater depth of understanding of our experience of reality, both individual and collective. That’s the lynchpin of empathy and compassion— understanding myself well enough to be able to relate and connect to others through shared experience of humanity. While we are on the topic of compassion, please forgive my proclivity to tackle some very large concepts with unjustifiable triteness.
Moving right along!
I find unlocking ourselves to be a fascinating proposition. It’s essentially the premise of every mystical tradition in the history of the human race. It’s also the premise of science, except applied outward rather than inward, metaphorically speaking.
We don’t currently know what dark matter is. Our current understanding of the galactic center, from a scientific perspective, is that it is a super massive black hole with a mass 4 million times our Sun. Those are snapshots into human observation and knowledge. There are things we know. There are things we think we know. There are things we don’t know. There are things we don’t even know that we don’t know. The same applies to the understanding of ourselves. As we continue to explore both our inner and outer cosmos, I find the galactic center to be poignant analogy for what we think we know and what might temporarily seem true only to be proven wrong at some future date. There is so little we truly understand about reality and outer space can serve as such a beautiful and humbling reminder of our own insignificance.
It’s an adage from somewhere that I’m too lazy to research right now but “they” say that what is true outside is also true within. And if there is any truth to that, then there must be a lot about the our inner cosmos that we have yet to learn. That is a truly thrilling hypothesis— that perhaps at the very center of our being is another super massive black hole 4 million times the mass of the Sun. And one day, we may learn to travel through it, or into it, or around it, or however one interacts with a black hole, to some other mystery lying beyond our current conceptions of reality. Who knows what is waiting for us in our future understanding of the Universe? But the thought of endless unsolved mysteries is enough to keep me filled with wonder and inspiration to plumb the depths of what might presently feel empty inside me, only to find that in fact something is waiting for me there that I have yet to understand.
I’ll end the same way that I began, with an easily Google-able fact: As a noun understanding implies comprehension, but as an adjective it is synonymous with compassion.
Sometimes, the truth can be poetic all on its own.
…Have I mentioned the eclipse yet?