Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today, my guest is Caroline Casey. Caroline is a visionary activist astrologer whose unique vision of astrology, compassionate social activism, esoteric spiritual traditions, and humor is known to audiences internationally. She has a degree in semiotics from Brown University, and hosts a regular radio show, The Visionary Activist Show, on KPFA in the San Francisco Bay area.
With Sounds True, she’s the creator of an audio learning course on astrology from her unique perspective, called Visionary Activist Astrology: Become a Secret Agent for Transformation and also an audio program called Making the Gods Work for You: The Astrological Language of the Psyche, where she helps listeners learn how archetypal forces, symbolized as planets or gods, can help create change in our lives and the world.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Caroline and I spoke about how changing our language can change the world, the myth of Innana and how it relates to our culture specifically at this point in time, and we also talked about her view of 2012 and the myths that surround it, and finally, how to invite the Trickster Redeemer to play a significant role during this time when we most need it.
Here’s my rollicking conversation with Caroline Casey.
Caroline, you see the world through what I would call “an interesting lens,” a lens of myth, metaphor, a lens of the symbolic language. Can you describe a little bit for me, help me into your way of seeing, help me to understand it?
Caroline Casey: Yes, OK. Increasingly, since we’ve been cavorting, I’ve been dedicated to what I call “the mythic news,” that mythology is suffusing the secular and animating it. So just as kind of working things to put on our table, let’s say myth is a metaphoric animation of the intrinsic intelligence of nature. We’ll play with this. And metaphor is the incarnational garb whereby power enters the world. It’s the kind of invitation, the frame being that “co-operators are standing by, but they require an invitation.” And what is the function, also, of the artist within us? It’s to invite in.
In the astrological language, Venus says we don’t have to source everything. We don’t have to even know what to do, or to be wise or perfect, but instead to invite it in, going, “Come on in!” You know, that quality. So I’ve been increasingly dedicated to what is called “the Trickster Redeemer” within us all, and whose medicine is really the sine qua non of now, because it brews all of the other dedicated medicines together. And so we say, “as in nature”—you know the only completely reliable teacher. Some seeds only sprout after cataclysm; they only come alive after a flood or forest fire. And so by analogy, in us, some creative seeds only bloom in the midst of being cooked, and like, “Wow!” you know? That’s the return of the Trickster Redeemer, who is interested, again, in many forms.
We find the Trickster Redeemer within us and without in many forms. I love Scheherazade from the Arabian Nights, who, through her power of eloquence and learning, liberates not only women and the land, but even the tyrant who has murdered his own heart. It’s a different kind of hero dynamic because it adopts the strategies of nature. You know, in nature, whenever conflicting forces come together, spirals ensue, whether it’s galaxies or tornadoes or hurricanes, or pouring cold, moving cream into hot, still coffee, or hot smoke into cool, evening air—it’s all spirals.
So, to tease this into application and strategy about our language and our way of relating, which is to spiral: The dedication that says, “Live as though the desirable story were true,” and our assignment, really, to animate, magnetize, and spiral forth into the memosphere (a word I’ve coined, that I like) the most irresistibly all-inclusive story, going “Come! We need everybody! We need everybody’s awakened imagination!” and to frolic in the realm of culture, to insist that the healing of humans’ relationship to nature be the center conversation in what passes for public discourse.
Part of the model is that our dedication magnetizes opportunity, that we humans have unleashed such horrific rudeness on this beautiful planet that we, by ourselves, cannot resolve it—indeed, it’s by ourselves that we got into this pickle. It’s the collaborative model. We say a working definition of magic is simply a willingness to cooperate with everything! Again, it’s that spiraling kind of quality, so you don’t face off; you go, “Oh, well, spiral the thing!”
And part of the model is, as we look out into the world and see the increasing rocking and rolling that is inescapable for almost everybody now, the floods, the fires, the tornadoes, the hurricanes—I asked a great mathematician, a weather expert, whom I call a “mythmatician,” I go, “What do hurricanes want?” because he’s willing to talk that way.
He goes, “They want what we all want! They want peace! They’re trying to resolve conflict and move to the North Pole.”
So the greater the cataclysm we see out there, of these wild storms and tornadoes, speaks to us of the enormity of the imbalance. And so, for all of us to metaphorically in a sense step into the center of the whirling storm, and to adopt these forms of resolution and spiraling in our manner of being, then we begin to cooperate with the dynamic, and do cool out the thing. But everything is speaking to us.
I love, from the Bible, it says, Mene mene tekel upharsin, “the handwriting on the wall.” And apparently what it means is those who place all of their faith in money will be—well, the empire will fall. Well, the empires are falling! One of the frames—there’s many metaphoric frames that we can use, but we might say one of the models is: Empires start many thousand years, however far we want to go back, and it’s kind of, “Row, you bastards!” And then it begins to run on oil, and now it’s kind of going down. And underneath it is the graceful curve of the culture of reverent ingenuity, “cooperate with everything and cooperate with nature’s ingenuity,” kind of rising up. Again, part of our assignment as cultural change agents is to become irresistibly eloquent in the invitation: “Come on over, everybody!” from the thing that’s going down to the thing that’s coming up.
I love Alan Watts’s quote. He says, “No sense clinging to the rocks that are falling with you!” So you go, “Come on over, everybody! This is going down. That is coming up!” The quality of ingenuity and experimentation, that vital kind of evolutionary force is very alive, neck and neck with the death and the collapse.
I like noting that most cable news shows are brought to us by Viagra and Cialis, and so we say, in the mythic news, “Empire just can’t get it up anymore!”
So we go, “All right! Come on over to this realm of irresistible cavorting and spiraling,” inviting everyone to participate. We need the awakened imagination of right-wing golfers and inner-city kids, everybody! And we can certainly turn to the myth of Innana whenever you want, as a kind of guiding frame, as well.
TS: OK, we’ll get to the myth of Innana in a moment, but I want to just make sure I’m tracking some of the things you’re saying. This word that you coined, “memosphere”? Tell me what that means and how you’re using it.
CC: Yes, well, first we say the memosphere is the realm of influence for the Trickster Redeemer within us all. The memes, which people define in different ways, are the kind of collective frame of metaphors that are circulating through the culture.
It’s also in the realm of ritual magic. I’ve been rereading a lot of my source inspirational material from when I was a tiny young person, and I love the novels of Dion Fortune, who was a great Kabbalistic scholar in England. She put some of her knowledge into a series of occult romance novels that are pretty fun and pretty radical. She says the function of private and ritual magic is that work done with intention enters into the collectivity of the species, of the human race. That’s the way we think of the memosphere, as a kind of embracing, atmospheric realm of images that surrounds and suffuses culture, and to engage in a conscious and playful dedication to spiral things out there.
It’s also part of the language. For instance, do we really want to say that something “went viral”? No! Let’s have some different words! “Infectious”? No, no, no! Let’s change this frame and play with the language!
You know, when I work with people in social action on the streets, even one word change can really change it from complaining to effective! Many teammates go, “Speak truth to power!” and we go, “Speak truth; be power! Let’s do it now!” When people on the street go, “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” we say, “What do we want? Better chants! When do we want them? Now!” And I like to lead the team or suggest to the team, “What are we creating? Peace! When are we creating it? Now!” rather than the demanding, supplicant, infantile kind of, “Ooooh! We want this!” You know, “tantrum yoga” is what my friend Steve Berman says.
It’s about the language of demands, and how do we get our team—I’m doing a lot of Trickster training for activists—to line up the language with the actual dedication and aspiration to democracy? I’m really up for what I call “democratic animism,” which is the willingness to cooperate with everything, the coyotes, the wolves, the quality of intelligence that we reach as a species, the quality of playful humility, and to draw upon the rich resources of mythology and also all actual animals and plants, going, “Two drops of coyote medicine and one of raven.”
I also love guiding ourselves and our team to customize our own Trickster Redeemer, and the play of literalizing metaphor. I have ongoing Trickster training councils, and one of the things we do is Saturn authority. It’s our goat! And so I say, “Let’s literalize this so that nobody gets our goat!” Our goat is ungettable, and it’s inescapable, too. It’s a very useful thing to introduce to a community, this language, because it really gives people creative and playful autonomy: “Somebody got my goat, but it’s trotting right back by my side!”
Where that expression comes from is that racehorses are all high-strung and in weird servitude, but they were given a companion goat that would calm them, a best friend that would calm them, this goat. And unscrupulous, up-to-no-good people before a race would get a horse’s goat, would steal the goat! So we go, “We’re getting our goat back!” In the metaphoric realm, we go, “Everybody’s got their goats? All right! It might trot off, but it’s going to come back!” and it restores good humor and autonomy. Like Dorothy’s slippers in The Wizard of Oz, we are rich with collaborative magic if we just remember it.
One of the things I like to animate for all of us is that we all have a magic mirror, meaning that the secular critic holds up a mirror to society and goes, “Look! It sucks!” in detail, “Bleah! There!” Which is important. You know, the critique comes first.
The Trickster within us all, with a wave of the hand, turns the mirror into a window: “But look how beautiful it could be!” And then, with another wave of the hand, into a door: “Let’s go!” Poof!
Everything is teaching us, you know? In the Russian revolution, in the Ukraine, Nestor Makhno and the Makhnovists, they were engaged in a kind of anarchist social experiment. Not in the terms that anarchism has come to mean, but just meaning a kind of collaborative democratic experiment in which everyone was welcome, but if you didn’t want to join, that was cool, too. They were the only province in Russia that had doctors and things, because their invitation was, “We’re engaged in this experiment, and if you want to play, that’s wonderful, and if you don’t that’s fine!” Everybody else was murdering whoever didn’t want to join the thing. Their only poignant form of vulnerability was that Trotsky said, “Surrender your army!” because they had the most effective army, and they were like, “No!” so he said, “Well, come for a meeting,” and they said, “OK,” and he killed them all.
Nonetheless, what we extract from that is that we’re engaged in this, and we’re magnetizing this, and this is where it’s going, and this is the creative fun, and this is the culture of reverent ingenuity, and this is the realm of collaborating with nature. We know we are so wealthy with our teammates. This is part of what I have been doing in radio for the past 15 years: Who’s doing great stuff? Where’s the critique (like “Bleah!”), and where’s the ingenious collaborative solution derived from nature? So the work of Paul Stamets on the mushrooms and the mycelia, the bio-remediation of toxins.
That leads us to, in the mythic realm, the wrathful dakinis, who are fantastic and eagerly awaiting their invitation to enter the world’s stage. And they are, again, mythic animations of the power of nature to metabolize poison on every level—heavy metals and whatnot, as you probably know. But the wrathful dakinis pre-exist Tibetan Buddhism. We’re going to a deeper, deeper level underneath the organized religious structure, to the vital forces of nature as they first appear in collaborative imagery.
The wrathful dakinis, they weren’t pretty! Tibetan Buddhism later made them pretty, but they weren’t pretty; they were beautiful! That has a kind of non-ornamental ferocity. They were at first depicted as part woman, part animal, like Coyote Woman, Crow Woman, very much like these ancient cave paintings are all kind of human-animal hybrids. We are nothing without the animal beings, and we need to derive part of their ingenuity and medicine to be fully, romping participants in evolution.
I love that the wrathful dakinis roar, that they take the toxin of anger and cook it into the tonic of wrath, which is fierce advocacy for life: “Roar!” They take the toxin of seduction, and cook it into the tonic of magnetism: “Bring everything alive!” Yet they are so playful that they would listen to somebody’s lecture, and laugh and weep loudly in the back of the audience. And the teacher would say, “Why are you laughing and weeping?” and they’d say, “We’re laughing because what you’re saying is nonsense, and we’re weeping because people are taking it seriously!” And they would do it with such dedication—in a kind of spiraling way—that the teacher would go, “You’re right! Let me study with you!” So these forces—again, myth is a metaphoric animation of intrinsic intelligence of nature—what metabolizes poison on every level, is certainly what we want to call into play.
I love a late, great kahuna friend of mine, an actual kahuna, not somebody who took a weekend workshop, but raised from birth. She said she had to learn the dark arts of poison and whatnot, but not to use them. She said, “In a person or a culture, the killing points are the same as the healing points. The difference is intention.” It’s that access to the strategic point in a person or a culture that changes things, and we want to know about that and choose.
What I also mean about this ingenuity of nature that we want to cahoot with and cultivate within and without: If we love democracy and freedom, let’s say, as a good way to go—and there’s all kinds of wonderful things emerging about actual democracy in nature. It’s not a human idea. Our concepts of leadership are changing, and of leadership in nature, and deriving the models of leadership. For instance, in the movie, I Am, and in many people’s writings, they give this great example of the red deer. The red deer have a large bull, their primary guy, and they say, “Oh, he must be the leader who makes all of the decisions.” We go, “No, actually he’s the sperm donor.”
What they show is that when there’s a decision to be made in the herd about which watering hole to go to when—and it’s crucial, you know, to arrive after the predator animals have left, but not so late that the herd is dehydrated. And what’s shown is this beautiful thing: At a certain moment, the deer will start to look up, and they’ll look in the direction of one or two water holes, and when 51 percent of the deer are pointing in one direction, they all get up and go. We go, “Yes! This is democracy!”
And for a long time, I’ve really been wanting to derive the model of leadership from wolves! I was living with a wonderful wolf-dog for a long time, and a friend, Michael Fox, head of the Humane Society, also chimed in and said, “You know, wolves don’t operate on dominance. They operate on charisma.” Charisma, in wolf culture, means who initiates play best. It’s not just play—it’s like “Let’s go hunting! Let’s do this thing!”—but play is very high on their list of criteria. They even do theater in which the alpha wolf will bring a bone in, and then the other wolves will surround it in a circle, in a ritual theater going, “I bring nourishment! Ha, ha, ha!”
I go, “The leader who engages the ingenuity of the group? Wow! I could support that model of leadership in every realm! What a good idea!” And then, back to the Uranus realm: If we love democracy, and leadership and democracy are to be found even in nature, then to react to anything is to carry around a portable prison for one’s self and for others. To cultivate an ever-larger repertoire of responses is to ally ourselves with nature’s ingenious evolutionary drive, which, in astrology, we call “Uranus, the Trickster.”
Uranus and the outer planets really represent large forces of biological and social change and deconditioning—and each one of them has a kind of quality. They’re ramping now! In the far, foreseeable future, Uranus squares Pluto, which says, out of Pluto, out of devastation and the descent into the underworld, comes ingenuity and inventiveness in our own personal lives and collective experiments with each other.
That might take us to the myth of Innana, if you’d like a little, brief version of it.
TS: Yes, let’s go there! Now, just to give a context for it, you are saying that the myth of Innana has a particular relevance to our current situation?
CC: Absolutely! You want to know how?
TS: Yes, I do!
CC: So Innana really is the Venus cycle. We know that all myths, actually, and fairy tales, really, carry on a culture’s knowledge base. The Innana myth is the Venus cycle in the sky. Very briefly: Venus will be the Morning Star for nine months, approximately, and then get so close to the sun that she disappears, which is called “going to the underworld.” And then she will emerge as the Evening Star for nine months, and then the same cycle repeats.
Briefly, the very condensed version is that Innana, Venus, who lives in Iraq, in Sumer, underneath Iraq, she descends to the underworld, in which she is stripped of everything external from which she has derived her identity. The very short version goes that she takes off her crown, everything except her sense of humor when she arrives in the underworld, where she is hung on a meat hook. But she has a great friend, her sukkal (a wonderful word!), who is her best friend, named Ninshubur, who descends and brokers her release, a kind of hostage negotiation deal. It says that she can come back up as long as she sends down a replacement, so she emerges, she comes back up, and everyone is grieving except for her lover, Dumuzi, who is still in his fine clothes and does not rise from his throne.
Innana goes, “Mmm! I’ve got to send down a replacement. Everyone was grieving but you. I guess it’s your turn, boyfriend! You go on down and learn how to navigate the depths, and I’ll stay up here.” She lounges around to recover for some time, going, “Wow! That was really intense!”
And then—Sumerian poetry from 2,500 years ago is very trippy!—it says one day she is contemplating the wonders of her own vulva, going, “Oh, it is so fabulous to be a woman!” and at that moment, it occurs to her that she will become a Trickster Redeemer, that she will sail to the island of the god of wisdom, who has become a tyrant—and we can think of this in many ways: madmen, or orthodoxy, or universities, or whatever. And she, with her good friend, her sukkal, she sails to the island of Enki, the god of wisdom, who has become a tyrant, and who has stolen human culture and left toxic celebrity mimics in its wake.
What she does, as a Trickster Redeemer, is she does not fight him, but she gets him drunk with this fabulous liquor she’s brought, and she outdrinks him! As he gets drunk, he bestows back on her these qualities of culture called memes. It’s interesting that it begins again with the erotic arts, so the first thing he gives to her is he says, “I give to you the meme, the cultural quality of amusing the phallus and tickling the vulva!”
And she says, “I take that!”
And then ensues he gives her mathematics and writing and architecture and mythology and dreaming, and all of the elements of culture. But it’s kind of adorable that the erotic arts lead, or at least equal to the likes of writing, you know?
She puts all of these qualities of culture in her boat, and she sets sail with her sukkal, and back to humanity. It’s a Promethean kind of a deal. The tyrant-god wakes up and says to his assistant, “What happened to culture?”
His assistant says, “Well, you got drunk, you got outdrunk, and you gave them back to Innana!” So he sends demons after her, which is important for all of us. It’s like you’re not yet in the free and clear. But she’s so pumped up on bravado and friendship, and the exhilaration of the experiment, and her own trickster, that she’s really just standing on the boat and fending off the demons with play, and she sails back to humanity and restores culture. Then there is cultural renaissance, and humans can have a wise and collaborative and ingenious culture.
It’s perfect! It says those who make it back from the underworld—and not everyone does! It’s rough out there!—earn the right to participate in being cultural Trickster Redeemers, restoring actual collaborative culture to humanity. That’s a perfect one, and it’s perfect for now: Pluto’s descent to the underworld, and then out of that comes the Uranus Trickster ingenuity and the revitalizing of renaissance. Again, a renaissance happens in the realm of culture, and it has no dogma or ideology. It’s irresistible. It’s not against anything. It’s irresistibly magnetic. Yes.
And then we might want to think about what are the fuels we cultivate. Everything literal is also metaphoric, so the fuels our culture runs on—I love a great Trickster ally, Bob Gough, who works on the Native American reservations, putting up sustainable energy. He gives to us, from a young student named Curtis Kataba, the wonderful word “indigenuity.” We go, “Yes, that’s exactly what we want to excavate and animate in ourselves.”
When he’s talking to evangelical Christians, he says, “We don’t want the fuels from Hell!”-—and he shows photos of the oily, fracking coal thing—”we want the fuel from Heaven: the sun and the wind!”
And they say, “Oh, that’s just right!” That is the metaphoric agility and play required now, and it does crack people up!
It’s also the realm of everything we like. We go, “Well, Wikileaks is an interesting democratic nutrient.” And so the mythological version would be, “We have Wiccanleaks, and Wiccanleaks is just saying, ‘May anything that is up to no good be revealed, rendered harmless, and become an occasion for mirth!'” You know? How do we play?
TS: OK, Caroline, now here’s what I’d like to ask you: As I’m listening to you, I’m getting a feeling for the mythopoetic, metaphoric language precision that you use in understanding what’s happening in the world. You have these seven principles that you call “visionary activist principles,” and the first one is, “Believe nothing. Entertain possibilities.” You call that “Principle Zero.” That’s our Trickster, because there are really eight principles here.
Here’s principle one: “Imagination lays the tracks for the reality train to follow.” As I’m listening to you, I can see this emphasis that you place, this love that you have of using our imagination to “lay the tracks.” But does the reality train really follow our imagination, or do we just imagine things and say, “Hey, that’s great! That’s imagination! Wonderful! I’m glad you’re imagining that! Good for you”?
CC: Well, believe nothing, but experiment, experiment, experiment. And there are countless fabulous examples as a strategy for personal or global conflict. Start with the desirable vision, the story that could engage everyone, rather than what we laughingly call “realism.” Because if we start with what’s “realistic,” which is really in the realm of the Reality Police that kind of patrols the borders of imagination, we go, “Oh, no!” If we start with the desirable vision, then avenues of ingenious synchronicity open up.
You know, one of the things that I do know—because I invite everybody to experiment, to believe nothing, but entertain these possibilities—is that Uranus, the Trickster, is about synchronicity, equality, and democracy. We go, “What’s the connection there?” Almost immediately, when I wondered that internally, events arranged themselves externally in such a way that it made it very clear that when we look down at somebody or up at somebody, there is no synchronicity. There is no magic.
You know, we have different roles onstage, but backstage, we’re all like, “Hey! How are you doing?” straight across the board. When we do that, the crucialness of ally etiquette is, when we treat each other well straight across—which doesn’t mean being nice; “nice” comes from the word nescius, which means “ignorant”—the rate of synchronicity increases dramatically.
I just kind of offer this for people to experiment with. The implications are way cool, because it means the dementors of doom and boom may have more money and lawyers and relentless death dealing whatever— I love Eddy Izzard saying, “What does the schedule of these tyrants look like? ‘Death, death, death, tea, death, death, lunch! We can hardly get down to the gym!'” But if we treat each other well, even if the dementors that have more money or lawyers, there’s no magic in that. If we treat each other well, then we are in cahoots with nature’s evolutionary ingenuity, and things open.
Part of the model of the astrological language with which we’ve played, visionary activist astrology, is that the planets represent living qualities of intelligence that suffuse nature and reside within each one of us, connecting us to these larger forces. Saturn represents focus and authority. Saturn is the part of us that knows how to define things, take vows, dedications, but Saturn’s terrible at realism. We take a vow and we go, “I intend, I want to do this, but how?” and then we get depressed and go, “Oh, it’s against all odds!”
But against all odds are the odds the Trickster likes, so Uranus and Jupiter represent the kind of trickster booking agency. They go, “Oh, don’t worry about how!” In this high-frequency field, you’ll be amazed at how “how” happens! The dedication strengthens each person’s signal, but it then specifically just kind of opens the path. The Saturn part of us, dedication, magnetizes opportunity, and Saturn’s job ends there. Jupiter and Uranus then chime in and say, “We’ll do the booking! We’ll do the path-opening in ways that will make you bark with laughter, and realize that you couldn’t possibly have controlled or determined ‘how.'”
It’s a worthy experiment that I’ve forever been doing, that I’m proffering this, going, “It’s a really great experiment to undertake, and it seems also really strongly counseled.” We all know how reassuring it is when those synchronicities increase. Does synchronicity actually increase, or is it always like wonderful British author Terry Pratchett says: “Ingenuity is sleeting through the universe until it hits a receptive molecule, and then it’s like, ‘Boom! Shakespeare'”? That’s a great metaphor. We want to become receptive and available, going, “We are available for this. We are dedicated to this kind of quality of breakthrough.” Or each one of us is really being invited to say, “What is our cultural medicine that we want to brew and contribute to the team now?” And then avenues of ingenuity, possibility, synchronicity do indeed open from that.
You see, the model is that there are parts of all of us that are realistic and everything, but what I’m honoring is the return of what’s been so long exiled, the Trickster Redeemer, which is the part of us that likes “against all odds”! There’s the realistic part of us that goes, “Oh, weep, weep! Oh!” But there’s a part of each one of us coming alive now, that we want to encourage—a great word, “encourage,” which means “to feed the heart”—that likes “against all odds,” that appears on the world’s stage, that appears in nature when everything is at its darkest and most dire. In this time of dire beauty, that’s when the Trickster Redeemer returns.
Mythologies are full of this! Part of the myth of the Grail legend, which is kind of hovering around us, too, is that the Round Table was composed of shining, radiant individuals who were pretty equal, even within a kind of king myth, and it was dedicated to the well-being of the community. That’s what real heroism is for. At the ending of one cycle of the Grail legend, all of the really spiritual people leave! Gawain leaves, Arthur goes off to hang out in Avalon and take Pilates classes, Merlin goes off with his yoga teacher, they all leave! They go, “We want to go be completely spiritual people,” and they leave the world in the hands of the strictly secular, and here we are today.
All of these myths are awaiting animation. So we say, “Well, the Grail legend didn’t exactly end. It was put on ‘pause,’ and we want to hit ‘play.'” You know? We’re calling back, in culture, in all of ourselves, “Come on back! Return!” Because the Grail legend does leave things waiting for the “play” button, because it says Arthur did not die. He goes to Avalon “to await the world’s call at a time of dire necessity for positive leadership.” And we go, “Now! Now would be really good!”
In the same way, one of my favorite Trickster Redeemers from the South—well, it’s really a couple—is the great Voodoo queen ancestress, Marie Laveau, coupled with High John. High John. The Conqueror/Trickster/Redeemer comes over as a synchretized being with African servitude, slavery, but he addresses the tyrant, liberates even the tyrant, and finishes off with a laugh. In the same way as King Arthur, it says he didn’t go away. He goes to reside in High John the Conqueror route “to await the world’s call.”
This call-and-response, for all of us, it costs nothing to say, “I don’t believe in anything, but anything that could help, come on in!” And that’s part of the function of art and also the marketplace. The Trickster god lives in the marketplace in almost all global mythology, which is very heartening. The marketplace is not meant to be some corporate mall! It’s meant to be the zocalo, the caravans awry, going, “Look, here’s spices!” And it’s where the storyteller lives! It’s “Here’s spices from Syria, and here’s this ingenuity from Mexico, and here’s all this coming in!” And so, yes, the marketplace is a sacred place.
That’s also a whole other huge realm that you’ve been a great mistress of, in a sense, which is restoring the sacred play of money, that it be a positive fuel for a renaissance. We step into intimacy with everything that’s daunting, and a kind of metaphoric agility. I love a great friend of mine who is a complete money mistress in ways that are, “Oh! Teach us!” She once had a conventional job before she made a gajillion dollars writing novels that she loves. She said that she knew, she was taught that money was an ally, and it’s good to make it like an animal ally.
And I go, “Ooh! This is a fun way to go! Your money animal!”
She said that being an Aries herself, it was a low-maintenance animal. All she had to do was rub it on the head and the belly, and tell it to go out, and it would always bring back opportunity and wealth.
I go, “That’s fun! Let’s play with that!”
This realm of marketplace and money is taking things way back to what is the originating impulse, and how to give it fresh, vital expression for now, and be up for this all-inclusive renaissance that wants to happen. That’s the model of leadership. So when people say, “Oh, we’re so disappointed in Obama!” or “We’re so disappointed in the political realm!” I say, “That’s very boring. That’s very predictable. That’s very reactionary.” Again, it’s about cultivating, assuming the cultural lead, magnetizing the desirable story, going, “This is where we’re going.”
When we go to the deeper levels of Saturn and the realm of complicity, if our own team could release into Pluto’s bubbling cauldron compost bin our addiction to righteous, finger-wagging disappointment, release our complicity in that dynamic, then we get to a deeper substructure of the whole creative cavorting. It’s a whole, wonderful, deep realm, this word “complicity.” Not shame, not blame, but it just means whatever’s going on, we are lending it creative juice.
If we know that as a frame, we can choose to inhale our chi, our creative energy, from an undesirable story, and exhale it into the desirable story. I like to say to the team, “Let’s inhale “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Let’s suck in that g, and exhale it to where it belongs, which is everywhere! A pragmatic mysticism! A democratic animism!” What it leaves is “the Kindom of Heaven is at hand”! Much more fun and true, and actually more in keeping with the liberating teachings of Jesus, which were co-opted by Paul, as the early Karl Rove, into a corporate-supporting thing)! Anyway, it’s the liberation of all teachings, and that also means cultivating one’s direct autonomy: no priesthood, no mediation, but direct, intuitive connection is really what we’re going for.
I love the default setting of the one channel whose language I really love, Esther Hicks channeling Abraham or whatever she’s doing. She says we can’t convince or argue or change anybody, or bond them or whatever, or legislate them into doing the right thing, but we can see each person connected to their own wise autonomy. And that is a very worthy default setting as an experiment, even in small kerfuffles when somebody’s talking loudly at a concert, you know? At first we go, “Shhh!” which then sets up this tension, and we’re almost waiting for the person to do the bad thing again, because part of us is kind of like, “Oooooh! Grrr!” And then just letting that go, saying, “No, I see them connected to their own wise sense of appropriate decorum.” And it works! I’ve seen this! It also engages our own perversity, which is that part of us is kind of hoping for the person to do the bad thing again so that we can be righteous.
We really want to throw into the cauldron all of these worn-out phrases and terms and mythologies. Righteous indignation is a fuel that serves empire, and so, regardless of what we call ourselves, if we’re finger-wagging righteous, we’re serving empire, and we’re serving the finite game of the Reality Police. Again, is our manner of relating and offering, “Ooh la la! Woof! Woof! Wanna play?” or of imposition, “No, no, dum, dum, dum”? That has to do with our tone of voice and our language and our manner and our intention.
I think part of the visionary activist frame is we can’t do anything by ourselves, really. It is collaborative cahoots in some way. We can’t even be the people we want to be. But that’s the purpose of vows, going “I want to be . . . This is the direction I’m going in. Oh, spirit of ‘woof!’ that animates the universe [or whatever metaphor we feel friendly with], hold me to this. That is the art form of the customized Trickster Redeemer I want to be.” That’s a useful supportive frame. And again, experiment, experiment!
So yes, absolutely imagination lays the tracks for the reality train. If we can conjure it and put it into the field, it assumes molecular reality. Telling the desirable story magnetizes matter into being. It wants to happen.
TS: Now, Caroline, a couple of times you’ve talked about the planets, and obviously you’re an astrologer, a visionary activist astrologer. When you talk about Saturn, Pluto, Neptune, what does it mean for you, in a sense? Meaning, how do you see these planets out there in the sky influencing us, as energy signatures that we’re connected to? What’s your view of this?
CC: Well, I don’t exactly view it primarily as influence. It’s a beautiful language—disguised as whatever we think it is—of the interrelatedness of everything. It reminds us we’re in a storytelling creation, that everything is talking to us all the time by its shape, its color, its song, its rhythm. And if we humans just approach the world with informed, reverent curiosity, we’d be back in the cahooting, cavorting dance. It is a language. So the planets are real, and they also symbolize. We live in a symbolic creation, so they are real, everything is real, and everything is symbolic.
We say there is an energy that we might call “the sun,” which is real, but all cultures—prior to our own kind of industrial thing—would invite the light of the sun to animate that culture’s desirable story. You know, we’re going back 32,000 years to the cave paintings where they’re inviting the animal powers out of the walls. We know all of the standing stones—Malta and Egypt and Stonehenge and whatever—they’re inviting the light of the sun at the equinoxes, solstices to illumine a picture at the back of the cave. We’re offering this story to be animated by the light force!
Then the planets are the reflected light, in some sense, of the sun, but each one of them is a quality, and it doesn’t mean, say— What the planets represent are qualities of intelligence in nature’s organization that suffuse everything, and that reside within us. When we do a birth chart, it’s a map of what was going on when we were born. It’s just a stylized, factual map. It’s a real map, a symbolic map of our navigating instructions to ourselves, and also a symbolic map of the interior community of us in which each planet represents a quality of intelligence, and part of our gift to be contributed to the world in customized, unique ways, to each one of us. It’s a beautiful language. It is witty and horrific that it’s become the gold standard of academic scorn, but it is a profound language. All cultures have had an earth-sky story, and all cultures grow their own astrology.
Right now, the deepest kind of astrology is a kind of choreography map of what wants to happen. I don’t think we need astrology or anything, but it is one of the great divination systems as an intuitive assist to guide us to our own intuitive sense of a pattern and a strategy and timing. Ideally, it’s really meant to support our own sense of resonance, that it speaks to something in our blood, going, “Yes! That’s right!” and it offers a frame. It offers, again, like the magic mirror, a critique.
Astrology can be misused like any language, where people go, “Boogity! Boogity! Prediction! Boogity, boogity!” but that’s spiritual harassment. That’s not really what it’s for. It’s a critique: “This is what could happen. This is the disaster.”Disaster means dis aster, “against the stars.” Dis means “underworld,” where our souls speak to us. The opposite, in our own language, is “consider.” Con means “with,” and sider is “the stars.” When we pause to consider, we line up our inner and outer selves with the larger collaborative dance. We become agents of principles, rather than subject to laws.
Yes, I love this language more and more and more! It is astounding at its useful specificity in personal counseling, but also I do a lot of readings for the culture as it organizes, because we don’t have isolated crises. We have a crisis of isolation. We want these unifying meta-stories, so it’s all one large thing in many, many forms of expression. On one level, it’s about our loss of collaborative willingness.
This is where the mavanogia chimes in from the twelfth century: We go, “Co-operators are standing by!” All of the mythic people are speaking to us very much. In the twelfth century, the mavanogia, a very old story, as Welsh Arthurian legends are written down, but it’s quite a bit older than that. There’s a great moment when the elders get together and they go, “Uh-oh! The men just found out they have something to do with children, and it’s not going to be good for women or the earth for a while! Humans are going to set forth on their individual path until the earth, herself, might die,” they wrote in the twelfth century, “and then, at that point becomes the opportunity when humans will keep all the value of their uniqueness, but will join once again in kinned collaboration and redeem the world.”
They wrote that in the twelfth century! They’re pitching it to us in that language, and I go, “Absolutely!” We’ve set forth on our humanistic, individual forms until the earth, herself, might die—with a loss of kinship not just with the earth, but with each other, until a certain crisis point. Humans then, as one, then two, then three, then it enters the memosphere as an invitation, are willing to keep their uniqueness, but join once again in the realization that we’re all part of one large, pulsing dream. And that there’s no sorrow or blessing that we don’t all participate in, in some way, if we’re not narcoleptically pharmaceuticalized, that we feel that and we’re resonant. Yes, everything’s rooting for us!
TS: Now Caroline, when you consider, with the stars, 2012 and the current astrological situation we’re in, which many people have commented on, what’s your view?
CC: Ah, yes, right! Well, I’ve got a lot of different layers to it. On one level, I’m a little bit allergic to the fetishization of 2012, the shadow part of which is a kind of spiritual colonialism in which recently semi-informed people claimed the calendar of a culture that they know little about. On the other hand, I have a friend who is an actual Mayan scholar, and who years ago, in the early ’90s, pointed this out to me. He was one of the people who is an actual Mayan scholar, he’s an academic, he’s head of the department of archeoastronomy at the University of Maryland. And he did excavate one of the vases, with two other archaeologists, which shows the seven lords of time gathering to create time (August 13, 3814 BC), and they do, indeed, say, “They will reconvene on December 21, 2012 to reinvent time, and they’re giving a huge party, and everyone’s invited!”
So I go, “I like that thing!”
And my friend, Dr. John Carlson, said, “It’s not an Aztec vision, like ‘You’re all going to die!'” although that’s an interesting mythology. You know, in the Aztec vision, each world is born of and will die of its thematic element. In the Aztec realm, we were born of and will die of motion, you know, earthquake, or business. We were born of and will die of business. The Mayans leave it more open, in a complex realm. It’s the reinvention of time, and so I’m rooting for it, with some justification, as a kind renaissance time. We say “prediction” (almost always a negative thing) or “prophecy” (kind of fun), but really we do not have a fixed future.
If it’s used as a kind of deterministic thing—or let’s just put on our work table that that which makes us passive is toxic, and that which engages us in a dynamic way is tonic. However, I think in the democratic animism and pragmatic mysticism of our ancestral allies, it’s crucial that there are some things that we want to retire. They’re not useful mythologies: the idea of importance, specialness, and chosen people. Let’s throw that into Pluto’s bubbling cauldron! It belongs to empire and the finite game, and it’s part of what’s leading us to cataclysmic death and complete grumpitude and high dudgeon and meanness.
And it comes up in many sneaky forms. You know, when people go, “I am one of the seven archangels from the Pleiades, who is in charge of the evolution on Earth!” my attitude is to go, “Well, whatever your faux, slightly toxic, empire mythology, welcome aboard! We need everyone! Leave your importance behind, but we need everybody!” I like putting the distinctions on. Even in shamanistic traditions, we say all religions, all gods, want to be liberated from the past confines of human imagination. In that realm, everything is up for satire and play. There’s nothing so sacred that it can’t be critiqued, even in the realm of shamanism—and I know many great shamans.
But there is a kind of addiction to having an enemy. It’s not always, but there’s a kind of “These people are against me, and these forces!” And I go, “Can we release our complicity in our addiction to having an enemy? Can we reframe the dynamic, and release that sense of status or importance?” Remember that when Innana goes to the underworld, she is stripped of everything external from which she gains her identity, but also importance and status. If we aspire, as I do, to move our emotional default setting to “Woof! Woof! Wanna play?” then it is the playful thing, but we release importance, seriousness—this is a whole kind of larger thing—and status, and are willing to engage and shape shift with metaphoric agility so that we have no stake in hierarchical status or importance.
That seems to be one of the cleansing descents into the underworld: a willingness to examine all teachings with reverent irreverence, going, “Is this conducive to inviting everyone in to play? Does it have any sneaky, empire-supporting specialness?” Which is a lot! I’ve studied in many esoteric schools, some completely dingy. There was great usefulness in all of them, but some of the metaphors were useful for a time, and then wanted to be retired. The Gurdjieffian model: much great teaching, but a dangerous metaphor: “We who are studying are becoming awake. Others are asleep.” Specialness alert! And we go, “Mmm, I think it wants to be thrown into the cauldron of Trickster democratic animism.” You know, “Flag on that play! Pulling status! Five-yard penalty! Declined!” In the Trickster model of language, that’s a wonderful play. We want to suffuse ourselves with spiciness! It’s not nice; it’s spicy!
Groucho Marx has given me many wonderful exit lines that were great when in a tyrannical circumstance. I love the line, “I’ve had a wonderful evening. This wasn’t it!” We leave jolly! Sometimes, on occasion, when I’ve playfully gone into the Abrahamic religions and said, “The story is kind of trippy, but like a shipwreck, beautiful barnacles and corals have grown around it,” sometimes somebody will come up and say, “I’ve never been so offended in all my life!” And I’ll go, “Ah, but the day is still young!” The play!
Also with radio and whatnot: being provocative, but willing to be playfully provocative, wanting everybody to be liberated. When people get into harumphitude, I go, “Fair enough. Let’s join hands and jump into the cauldron together. And if there’s anything in either one of us that is self-important or not dedicated to the good of all, let us be cleansed of that.”
Some people back away in horror, but some people are like, “Oh! Yes! Sure! How unusual!” The unexpected response is liberating to everyone. I used all of my frequent flyer points to upgrade to business class so I could talk to warmongers, and it worked pretty well! It was always a degree of difficulty getting ratcheted up, but if I didn’t get solid and grumpy, there was a point of agreement in which every one of them could agree that the only solution to terrorism is a wonderful life for all children! They all agreed with that. At one point, talking to a guy who goes, “Well, I teach military intelligence at Berkeley, and I was commander of a ship that bombed Iraq in the first Gulf War, and you probably think I’m a horrible person.”
I was like, “No.”
He’s like, “No? No? Oh! Well, let’s talk!” And we got to a really interesting place.
I said, “All wars are a failure of imagination.”
He said, “I can’t agree with that.”
I went, “Well how about this one?”
He says, “Yes, this one’s completely stupid.”
And I go, “Well we’ll start there and work out.” The idea of what is meaningful, you know?
The wonderful movie, The Lives of Others, is about how the sociopathic heart can bloom again. We don’t know who comes alive, we cannot presume to judge, but we want to leave the possibility open; the trickster model is to leave room for others to behave in unexpectedly appropriate ways. We’re not counting on it, we’re not expecting it—because expectation is, indeed, the partner of disappointment, it’s another way of carrying around a portable prison—but we’re willing. It’s like if we go to a party or an event or a teaching expecting, and instead of saying, “Oh, I knew that wouldn’t be good!” if instead we go, “I’m willing!”
Uranus the Trickster says to each one of us, “I will connect you to the coolest things possible and open the path, and all I want from you guys (and Gaias) is willingness.”
And so we go, “Hey, what the hell! We’re willing!”
It’s a very different feel, going to an event expecting or willing. Then we’re an agent of democratic play. And to leave room for people to behave in unexpectedly appropriate ways is like the New York phrase, “You never corner a mugger.” You leave somebody a way out. Now we’re back to the spiraling model, and there are just wonderful, prosaic examples of this, because once we start to play with it, they start to pour in.
To a niece of mine, going to visit fundamentalist, pretty hard-core relatives who strongly disapproved of divorce, and she’d just gotten divorced, I said, “Leave room for them to behave in unexpectedly appropriate ways, but don’t count on it!”
She goes, “Ugh! I’ll try!” And then she called up and she said, “Well, they met me on the porch with folded arms and disapproving glares, and said, ‘As you know, we strongly disapprove of divorce, but he was so boring and we’re really very happy for you! Come on in and have some pie!'”
You know, just leave room! Don’t count on it, but leave room as a kind of democratic well-wishing to invite out, because you never know!
TS: Now Caroline, you’ve hinted at and actually said many things about this during our conversation, but as my final question for you, I’d love it if you could just summarize and underscore, for somebody who wants to develop more of the Trickster Redeemer in themselves, I’d like to have more of that archetype alive in my life, the Trickster Redeemer. I’ve been inspired by this conversation! What are the steps that I would take?
CC: Well, first, for the fun of it, I’m in favor, myself, of composting the word “archetype,” just for the fun of it. Because it’s kind of Jung’s word he invented, which sounds a little bit mechanical and containing—”living force,” or whatever. I think the invitation, really, in a sense, is each one of these intelligences represented by a planet is beseeching us. All of nature and creation is awaiting our willingness and our wonder to join back in the collaborative dance, and so each one of them resonates within ourselves. Just to repeat: Uranus, especially, says to each one listening, “I will connect you to the coolest increased rate of synchronicity. All I want from you is willingness.” So we need a proclamation of our availability for play, our willingness to experiment with moving our emotional default setting to “Woof! Woof! Wanna play?”
Now, it does take some practice, and that’s why I’m really dedicated to how we reframe things, how we tell stories, the language we use in a playful way, and that is kind of practicing so that we’re available, for the moment, to be danced into play. Just a brief example: We practice these things, you know? We’re practicing eloquence and language, and there’s many ways that you and I might cahoot to offer such, and there’s many ways that I offer such in radio and different forms of engaging with the likes of myself.
A brief example is that I was synchronously invited to a big scientific conference on water, the problems of water, and the ingenious solutions. It was the world’s leading engineers and scientists and cold fusion experts from around the world. Briefly, I was invited as a guest, and I saw on the web site, it said, “Caroline Casey will lead a water ritual during lunch at the Swedish Embassy with Homeland Security and whatnot there.” And I go, “Oh! Holy moley! Let me think of something!”
We mentioned astrology early. I had just a moment, and as I went to speak to them in the midst of their fancy Swedish Embassy lunch, somebody handed me a bunch of yellow flowers. Yellow flowers, yellow roses, are sacred to Oshun, the water goddess. We were right on the banks of the Potomac River, and I said, “Well this is self assembling!” I said to each scientist, “In all of our blood lives the myth of the restoration of the waters of life.” And they all paused. Something in them wanted this spoken to.
Then Homeland Security and the Coast Guard and the leading scientists were all completely willing to walk to the banks of the Potomac River and toss these yellow roses in as an announcement of our willingness to collaborate with the spirit of water to resolve the horrors that humans have inflicted on water. They were all completely willing. And that night, at the party, a very fancy party full of scientists, they all became mystics! The Indian engineer said, “I am an engineer! I thought that was either science or just silliness, but I can do both!”
That’s part of our dynamic: to wed what has been falsely estranged as a ruse of the Reality Police. Pragmatism and mysticism love each other! Science and mythology and reverie and spirituality love each other! These are false divorces. So everybody wanted to become a mystic! The cold fusion physicist guy comes up and says, “Well, to be a physicist, you’ve got to be a mystic,” and then everybody wanted to be a mystic!
The next day, unplanned, there was a man with an ingenious invention, surrounded by press and important people and everything, and it was a machine that ran on one tablespoon of gasoline and the rest on water, but it wasn’t working. Mercury was retrograde, but I refrained from saying that. It’s tense, embarrassed, the press is there, a lot of pressure, it wasn’t working, great embarrassment. The cold fusion expert physicist steps up and says, “I think it needs more pressure,” and leans on the machine. It’s not working.
I saw the moment and I just stepped in. I put one hand on the machine and one hand on the inventor, and I said to the inventor, “Do you vow that this technology will never be used for war?”
Without a second’s hesitation, he said, “I do.” And the machine went, “Va-va-voom!” Everyone was so delighted and liberated that it wasn’t just them, that there are larger forces and humans in cahoots. Everyone was like, “Wow!”
It’s like that for all of us: we practice, we prepare, and then the moment opens where, in a clean, non-important way, you just step in as an agent of playful and profound redemption. As we cultivate that in ourselves, these opportunities do open. It’s a constant practice, dedication, play, but really play! It does take some dedication to decondition into this play realm and into the linguistic realm, and into the playful realm, but that’s what I love most!
TS: I’ve been talking to Caroline W. Casey—I think that W might stand for “Woof! Woof!” Caroline has created two audio programs with Sounds True, very playful, very informative programs. One is called Visionary Activist Astrology: Become a Secret Agent for Transformation, and it’s a six-session audio series on becoming a secret agent for transformation. It’s also a six-session audio series on really understanding the language of astrology from a very creative standpoint, connecting the energies and the language and the symbology of the planets. She also has created a program called Making the Gods Work for You, a performance audio based on the book of the same title, The Astrological Language of the Psyche: Making the Gods Work for You.
Caroline! Woof! Woof! Thank you so much! It’s always great to connect with you!
CC: Woof! Woof!
TS: SoundsTrue.com: many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.