Archive for October, 2010


Things of Wood and Stones

October 27, 2010

Image Credit: Vegas Vortex

As the days become warmer and brighter, nature rouses from her winter slumber and looks ahead to the new growth of spring. The Wood, which has been at rest, storing and concentrating its energy under a winter blanket, now bursts forth with new buds, new life piercing Earth’s crust. The swelling Wood of spring initiates rebirth – a surge of rising energy, like the young lamb staggering up to nurse, like the dandelion whose growing edge can burst through concrete if it must. Wood is the energy of youth and growth: a new beginning, a vision of a whole new cycle. The Wood energy of spring is an expression of life at its strongest.

If we have followed nature’s way and taken a winter rest, we too emerge into spring “raring to go,” with clear vision and a sense of purpose. This is the season to plant seeds for a future harvest, to look ahead and make new plans, formulate new ideas, make decisions, and determine our direction for the coming year – and to take action.

Spring’s increasing warmth encourages us to stay outside more than we did in the winter. Warmth comes not only from physical heat, but also from the interaction of friendships and relationships. In this season, we want especially to take advantage of opportunities for growth through the observations and insights that come from others as well as from ourselves. It can be painful to see ourselves through different, and perhaps clearer eyes, particularly aspects of ourselves that we are unaware of. Similarly, it can be difficult to convey an unpalatable truth to others. While the energy of spring supports and challenges us to grow and change, we may feel discomfort from these processes. We can temper our pangs with the warmth of friendship, as well as with the recognition that we all experience growing pains in the process of realizing our potential.

Cedar shingles, abandoned house, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan


Image Credit: Danny Burk Photography LLC

Springtime is associated with the element Wood. In traditional Chinese medicine, the Wood element represents the liver and the gall bladder. The liver function is called the Official of Strategic Planning, the grand architect for our vision of the future; this official sees the directions we must take to live our lives in harmony with nature. Its companion, the Gall Bladder Official, gives the ability to make decisions and judge wisely. Making a decision is not a matter of choosing between equal alternatives. Through these officials we can see both new possibilities and the wisdom of the past, and thus see the clear and appropriate course to take. Without Wood’s vision and plan, decision and direction, no movement is possible – there is only frustration.

The Wood element within us governs our sense of vision, the emotion of anger, and the sound of shouting. When vision is stifled, we feel anger: we’ve made our plan, decided to act, taken aim, and suddenly our plans are thwarted. We’re told: “No, you can’t!” Everything that said “Go” is now blocked. At times like this, we commonly feel anger and frustration and want to shout – but then we can level out. If our Wood is healthy, we can readjust and begin again.

What of people whose Wood is chronically imbalanced, who can’t level out? Aside from the many problems that can arise in relationship to the liver and gall bladder, imagine the perpetual anger and frustration of those who feel blocked in all directions, to whom every interaction is a confrontation. Such people are unable to experience growth and rebirth – unable to experience springtime within; they sense growth and change happening all around them, yet are stuck inside themselves, their lives so chaotic they can’t see a direction, a plan, or even how to begin. Or imagine how it is for the person who can’t see the forest for the trees, who is so fastidious that nothing ever gets started because it’s never quite right? It’s not that one would choose to be this way; but for a person in a state of Wood imbalance, there seems only one choice – this is how it must be.

To help unblock stuck energy, acupuncturists choose among hundreds of acupuncture points, each with its own special quality, each uniquely appropriate for a patient at the right time in treatment. As patients, we can learn about a point’s special energy and “spirit” and use that insight to help nature do its healing work. Here, for example, are descriptions of two points on the Wood meridians:

Gall Bladder 24
is located in the seventh rib space in line with the nipple, and called “Sun and Moon ” The Gall Bladder Official requires clear vision in order to decide on a course of action. All possibilities must be seen and considered. When we are out of balance, we identify with only one position and become attached to it; in so doing, we lose our wise judgment. We see things as either black or white, dark or light. This acupuncture point creates a balance that enables us to see both sides impartially – to see by both the “light of the sun” and the “light of the moon.” From clarity, we can take action with certainty and strength.

Goddess in a Trichrome stain of Gall Bladder tissue

Liver 1, “Great Esteem,”
is located near the lateral corner of the nailbed of the big toe. This is the first point on the Liver meridian – the beginning of spring growth: the energy is present, the plan formulated, the way clear. Any new undertaking is accompanied by uncertainties and risks, but they must not thwart us in reaching our goal. It is in our nature to grow, to begin anew and take our first steps. “Great Esteem” grants us the confidence to surge forth with the power of springtime – to push ahead, give birth, and grow.

Article by Neil Gumenick


And they’re off and…….Rumi

October 25, 2010

Nobody comes into this world wanting the other person to win - Caroline Myss

Image Credit: Party Down Entertainment

It’s rigged — everything, in your favor.
So there is nothing to worry about.

Is there some position you want,
some office, some acclaim, some award, some con, some lover,
maybe two, maybe three, maybe four — all at once,

maybe a relationship

I know there is a gold mine in you, when you find it
the wonderment of the earth’s gifts
you will lay aside
as naturally as does
a child a

But, dear, how sweet you look to me kissing the unreal:
comfort, fulfill yourself,
in any way possible — do that until
you ache, until you ache,

then come to me

– Rumi


Back to Olympus: Spring Racing Carnival

October 25, 2010

Phar Lap



Identity: Immortal animal. Son of Poseidon and Medusa

Descripton: Winged horse.

Symbol: Golden bridle

The Greek Myth

When the gorgon Medusa was decapitated by Perseus, the two children she had been carrying, who had been fathered by Poseidon – Pegasus, the winged horse, and Chrysaor, the golden warrior – sprang fully grown from her body, whereupon the Hero promptly mounted Pegasus and made his escape.

Pegasus was a gentle and very beautiful creature. Although he appeared as a winged horse, he possessed many nole characteristics that could men to shame. The morgal, Bellerophon, son of Glaucus, was asked to destroy the Chimaera, a fire breathing monster. Before setting out on this mission, he consulted the seer, Polyeidus, who advised him that its success depended on his catching and taming the fabled Pegasus. Bellerophon sought the beast and found him drinking quietly from a crystal pool. Using a goden bridle that Athene had conveniently presented to him, he was able to catch Pegasus, mount him and set off on his quest. So successful was this team of man and winged horse that Bellerophon’s services as a hero were much sought after by mortals and immortals alike. One day, however, he overstepped the mark by presumptuously undertaking a flight to Olympus on the back of Pegasus. Zeus, being affronted by such conceit, sent a gadfly that stung Pegasus under the tail, causing him to rear and send his rider tumbling back to earth. Pegasus, on the other hand, completed the journey to Olympus, where he was made welcome by all the gods.

Image Credit: Marvin908

This story is a shrewd illustration of the folly of assuming that something or someone is subject to our will and cannot function successfully without us. When it comes to the crunch, the boot often turns out to be on the other foot. It is unwise, therefore to take any situation for granted as the ‘lesser’ person or beast may be the very one to teach us a much-needed lesson in humility!

Upright Meanings

A quest or mission. Escape. The ability to elude difficulties, or rise above problems.

Reversed Meanings

A lesson in humility. Being taken down a peg or two.

Psychological Comment

The Pegasus syndrome, as exemplified in the legends of Perseus and Bellerophon, is concerned with the innate ability possessed by some people to negotiate difficulties by rising above them, on the one hand, and the danger of overreaching themselves, on the other. Although an advantage at times, if overused this kind of detachment can misfire, as it does not always encourage the trust and confidence of less resilient types. One should therefore be careful to take into account the feelings of others and avoid falling into the trap of taking people or situations for granted.

Pegasus is also indicative of a specific mission in life which the enquirer will always find the time and energy to pursue, although the path to its fulfillment may be strewn with difficulties and limitations. This may be seen in those people who manage to carry out a long and protracted study or discipline in spite of impoverished circumstances, family commitments, or even physical disability. Such people are seldom ever really depressed; they appear to fly over the top of the situation, as it were.

Extract: Olympus: An experience in Self-discovery by Murry Hope, published 1991, The Aquarian Press

Winged Horse revetment, Cerveteri, 5th Century BC


The Book of Changes: Qian Zhen

October 22, 2010

secret duk-duk ceremony - Tolai people, Papua New Guinea. Photo by Rod Eime

Image Credit:  Rodeime Travel Stories & Photography


Let the seeds develop in their own way

Thunder appears in the sky and awakens the myriad creatures, filling them with vitality. It is the right time to cultivate crops, but you must take care not to forge ahead; nothing can be forced to grow in a hurry.

A setback may occur, but if you adhere to the proper principles this event will resolve itself, and you will have an abundant harvest.

I-Ching Cards, Chao-Hsiu Chen

Comparative Sabian Symbol: 9 ° Taurus: A christmas Tree decorated


Saint Mary of the Cross: Sabian Symbols

October 18, 2010

Natural....a thicket cross for a paradigm shift

Image Credit: Courier Mail, Brisbane

It is finished – Mary MacKillop’s is now a Saint and Brand MacKillop is alive and flourishing with the marketing and donation campaigns. No doubt about it, sainthood is a healthy cash cow for the stakeholders.  However, if the coffers have received a good influx of moola that is going to be directed towards helping those on the margins of society – the fringedwellers – that kindled young Mary’s sense of social justice and equality; then all is well in this opal-hearted land of sweeping floods and flashing plains….

A few days ago, I checked out Mary’s natal birth chart, in particular, the Sabian Symbols – and the hairs fairly rose on the back of my neck, and surges of energy twinkled through my body – she has the most amazing, beautiful Sabian Symbols.  Mary incarnated with everything she needed to fulfill her Sacred Contract. 

I am not going to offer my interpretation of what they mean. I will just present them and allow the words and the imagery to wash over you, and if, like me, you get a surge of warm fuzzies, know you are connecting to the energy of Saint Mary of the Cross.  This is how the Sabian Symbols work – they are ‘jumper leads’, if you like, from one human energetic battery to another………that might be a little flat…

Twelfth House

Poseidon 18 Leo – A teacher of chemistry

Chiron 30 Cancer – A daughter of the American Revolution

Eleventh House

Appollon 12 Cancer – A Chinese woman nursing a baby with a message

Ninth House

Zeus 27 Taurus – A squaw selling beads

Eigth House

Waldemath Dark Moon 10 Taurus – A Red Cross nurse

Vesta 26 Aries – A man possessed or more gifts that he can hold

Cupido 24 Aries & Vulkanus 24 Aries – An open window and a net curtain blowing into a cornucopia

Pluto 19 Aries & Ceres 19 Aries – The magic carpet

Seventh House

Uranus 22 Pisces – A man bringing down the new law from Mount Sinai

Pallas Athene 16 Pisces – The flow of inspiration

Mars 7 Pisces & Kronos & Pisces – A cross lying on the rocks

Moon 6 Pisces – Officers of dress parade

Sixth House

Osc. Lilith 24 Aquarius – A man turning his back on his passions and teaching from experience

Lilith asteroid 21 Aquarius – A woman disappointed and disillusioned

Ademetos 18 Aquarius – A man unmasked

Mean Lilith 16 Aquarius & Neptune 16 Aquarius – A big businessmen at his desk

True Node 30 Capricorn – A secret business conference

Fifth House

Sun 25 Capricorn – An oriental-rug dealer

Mercury 24 Capricorn – A woman entering a convent

Venus 14 Capricorn – An ancient bas-relief carved in granite

Hades 6 Capricorn – A dark archway with ten logs at the bottom

Saturn 8 Capricorn – Birds in the house singing happily

Jupiter 7 Capricorn – A veiled prophet of power

Third House

Juno 30 Scorpio – A Halloween jester


Saint Mary MacKillop…..and the rest of us….truly human.

October 17, 2010
Autumn in the Fitzroy Gardens, 1894 by John Mather

And this, they say, is Melbourne in its prime:

the air crispened as though for taste,

sunlight playing among the burning sugars,

a green defiance flagging limbs,

the files of trees like dreams commanded outright.

Elm and linden, pine and maidenhair,

so many sentinels of life,

they rise up from their own shadows, proclaiming

an earthed vitality, a sky

they cannot see, and the sun’s cascading fire.

Mather is gone, of course, and the vine of years

fastens the tighter for its offered fruit:

but still the woman pauses on the path,

her child engrossed by the lit palings

and half immortal like the watching statue.

It comes to me that this is the life of the mind –

a passage made on another’s way,

silent attendants holding out their powers

even as Fall asserts its own,

a readiness to wait if pause is given.

‘More than you remember’, the poet said,

‘stays green all winter.’ Nature’s art

persists in mind and eye as well, the two

staying the puzzled heart with rumours

of buried gold and a road come round again.

 ~ Peter Steele, Jesuit Priest and Poet

Welcome to Fitzroy Gardens on the Web



On the occasion of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop 17 October 2010


Fr. Paul Mullins, S.J.  Parish Priest

Contrary to what is being put out in various publications, Mary MacKillop is not Australia’s first saint. She is, however, Australia’s first canonised saint.

During his pontificate Pope John Paul II canonised some 500 saints and beatified 1340 people. There were those both within the church and beyond who thought he was far too zealous in this matter of canonisations; a slower, more wary approach should have been the practice. Pope Benedict XVI has been less zealous than his predecessor in this matter. However, it is my suggestion that we should not be surprised by the number; rather we should expect more. Consider the image of heaven which is described by John in the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation: “I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands.” John suggests that the number of saints, those who spend eternity with God is countless.

That is why I say Mary MacKillop is not Australia’s first Saint, but she is the first Australian officially recognised by the Church and raised to her altars.

There has too been much discussion about Mary’s progress to sainthood. In the modern world people are wary of the proclamation of miracles, and so they should be. The whole procedure is for many, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, mediaeval.  It is viewed with scepticism and bewilderment in an age where much of what is witnessed has a logical and rational explanation. Pope John Paul II simplified the process to sainthood, but it still requires two miracles before the Church formally declares a person a saint and is thus to be revered by the universal church.   The verification of a miracle is an exhaustive process and the miracle itself can only be attributed to God. The person who is being considered for canonisation is recognised as the intermediary. However, whatever or not of miracles the person being examined for sainthood must fit the criteria which God has laid down and which is evident in the scriptures. Sainthood is open to all of us, but to qualify we must fulfil certain criteria.

Consider what the prophet Micah told us: “what is good has been explained to you, man; this is what God asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” (6: 8). Move to the New Testament and we have abundant criteria by which to measure the sanctity of others and our own.  Consider the beatitudes in the fifth chapter of Saint Matthew’s gospel.  Finally, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the same gospel, reflect on the depiction of the Last Judgement. Aside from whatever miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Mary MacKillop, it is abundantly clear that Mary’s life, measured against the demands of the scriptures, indicates her essential humanity and her sanctity.  It is my contention that only the churlish could not rejoice in Mary’s recognition by an international organization – this, I suggest, is true for believer and non-believer alike.

Mary MacKillop reaches across the great divide of Australian society, both the one which existed in the 19th and 20th centuries and which exists today. Her life speaks to all decent people.

The product of a dysfunctional family, Mary MacKillop knew hardship, misunderstanding, illness and rejection. She recognised the value of education for all in an age when women in particular did not have the opportunities for education that their male counter-parts did, and which many thought unnecessary. She was able to withstand the rejection of her own faith community. She travelled extensively in an age when it was difficult to travel, all in the name of helping others. She had friends both within her Catholic community and in the wider Christian community when the divisions between the Christian denominations were accented; bigotry on both sides was common. Mary MacKillop inspired friendship and loyalty because she was both loyal and a friend. She was supported by a Jewish benefactor.

St Matthew depicts the Last Judgement when we will be called to give account of ourselves: “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” ( 25:35-36), Judging by this standard, God’s standard, Mary MacKillop must be among those who have inherited the Kingdom prepared since the foundation of the world.

 Her commitment to the poor, the outcast, the despised, those who had no voice or power in society is undoubted. Her commitment to her God is also undoubted. Mary MacKillop had, as may be judged humanly every reason to be bitter; she had every reason to doubt God. She experienced personal tragedy- the drowning of her mother; she was questioned and condemned by her own church community.  She was treated with suspicion; she was intelligent, courageous and faithful, a visionary who did not allow the less courageous, the frightened and the small- minded to lessen her enthusiasm or destroy her faith.

 Mary MacKillop is recognised in the Catholic World as Australia’s first canonised saint, but she belongs to a long line of faithful people, both Australian and others. They are the millions of people who have enlivened human history with their courage, fidelity and their quiet witness. Among them are people whose lives are unheralded and whose names are known only to their families and friends; those whom they touched in the most gentle of ways.  God knows these people, these saints.  

As a primary student at a Josephite convent school in the late 1950s I, like my class mates, was taught the Penny Catechism – although it cost 3d in my day.

“Why did God make you”? was one question. The response was: “God made me to know him, love him and serve him here on earth and to be happy with him forever in heaven”. All very neat  and I believe it.

 But to know, to love, and to serve all require a learning process, learning experiences. Mary MacKillop learnt from her life experience. She was stronger for the cross which she carried every day. Thus to know , to love and to serve God was her way.

A woman of vision, generosity, and courage, all that she did was underpinned by her faith in and her love of God, nurtured by her devotion to the Eucharist. Mary MacKillop is a great Australian but, more than that, she is an embodiment of what it is to be truly human.

 Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.    

~ Mark Twain

Sermon and quote swiped from St Ignatius Parish, Norwood, South Australia


A Calvinist and a Catholic walked into a bar…….

October 17, 2010

Sister Maria Casey, from the Sisters of St Joseph, was in Rome when the announcement came from the Vatican and says Australians need a holy icon in the face of today’s hardships.

“We have the economic downturn, we have high unemployment, we have racial problems, we have the whole problem of reconciliation,” she said.

“I think Australians need an icon or a model of goodness and holiness at this time.”

~ Extract ABC News, December 2009

Old Church, Wooroolin, Australia

As Blessed Mary MacKillop is being given her gong as Saint in Rome, I would like to bring out of the footnotes of the MacKillop biographies, the fortysomething year friendship she enjoyed with Joanna Barr Smith (nee Elder): a Presbyterian and prominent hostess in Adelaide’s social circles who, bless her cotton socks, was never swayed to covert to Catholicism – despite Mary’s gentle proselytizing and private prayers that she could shepherdess Joanna back into the folds of the True Flock.

A true daughter of the Church, Mary was possessed with that ego-evangelical flaw of Catholic certainty that only Catholics get to go to Heaven.  (As a true daughter of irreverent Australia, I wonder how long it took Mary to look over the brick wall…………..)

Joanna did her bit to safeguard Mary’s work than anyone would give her credit for. If Mary had been successful in converting Joanna, it would have been an Ego victory, a Shadow jewel in her crown, and also quite a coup to have ‘snagged’ the wife of such a wealthy and prominent man: a bustled silken bum warming the front row pew!  I applaud Joanna’s resilience and certainty in her own role in Mary’s life: that of unconditional acceptance,  friendship and support.

I do believe that Mary and Joanna were true anam cara to each other: two sides of the same coin. They had a beautiful Sacred Contract with each other and with the developing social and cultural landscape of Australia. Mary had the faith, the vision, the determination and one heck of a lot of clout from the cosmos (more about that later); and Joanna was perfectly positioned as the daughter of a wealthy man, the wife of a wealthy man, to provide the wealth, the networks –  and as a member of early Australian merchant aristocracy – to pull some strings to get Mary and her Order the needful things for their work. Including a convent.

SLSA: B 59767

Joanna Barr Smith, 1908

Born Joanna Lang Elder on 11 October 1835 in Fife, Scotland (where my great-great grandmother was born), Joanna was the seventh child and youngest daughter of George Elder and Joanna Haddow Lang.  The Elder Family, on arrival in Australia, would become wealthy pastoralists and public benefactors. Read more 

Joanna would marry the son of another Scot-emigrant wealthy pastoralist in South Yarra, Melbourne on 15 April 1856, Robert Barr Smith, and her story would be buried under the achievements and career of her husband. However, if you know anything of the strength of 19th Century women and how influential the wife of wealthy man is, you will not dismiss Joanna as a ‘trophy wife’.  Joanna would give birth to 13 children, six of whom died in infancy.

Joanna and Robert first met Mary in the 1860’s, when Sister Mary (as she was then called) first arrived in Adelaide. The Barr Smiths would be among Mary’s most liberal and consistent supporters of her work; her friendship with Joanna lasting until Mary’s passing in 1909.

Indeed, it was Joanna, at the age of 78 herself and a widow, who paid for Mary’s resting place when her remains were transferred from the Gore Hill Cemetary on 29 January 1914, to the Chapel of the Mount Street Convent, to be reinterred in front of the altar of the Blessed Virgin.

In a letter she wrote to Sister Mary when Mary was in Rome in 1873, Joanna says:

If this is your first visit to Rome, dear Sister Mary, what a rare enjoyment it will be to you. There you have so many means of enjoying it that other people have not. Your habit will be an open sesame to you where my flounces and furbelows would be a bar to my entrance – for I have not abandoned yet the world, the flesh, and the devil – and still prefer a dress of silk to a gown of cotton”.

Don’t you just love a friend like that!!

Joanna passed to her well-earned rest on 23 October 1919, in Adelaide, twelve days after celebrating her 84th birthday. Let us light a candle for Joanna on the 23rd of October – I know Mary would like her dearest and dauntless daughter of desires to be remembered, because no Saint is an island.

The Devil Wears Prada