The Great Conjunction

It’s been cloudy for days, and the forecast doesn’t show the skies clearing until some time next week. Of course, this is normal during highly anticipated astronomical events. Right!?!! So… who here was lucky enough to see the bright ‘Star’ (otherwise known as the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter) with their own eyes last night? Yay if you did!! As for me, at sunrise this morning I was able to find a way to see it, but more on that at the end of this post.

If you’ve been following my body of work (visual and written), you probably know by now that I’m a deep diver when it comes to personal growth and healing, much of which I’ve been able to process and accomplish through the creative process. Another most excellent tool I’ve found for this type of journey has been my daily journalling practice using a Tarot card as a prompt.

Most of the time what comes up speaks to things about myself that I need to work on, but lately what has been coming up has more to do with what’s going on in the outer world, including the Universe.

Yesterday I pulled a card regarding the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius, and what it might mean for us. Add the fact that this event was happening on the Winter Solstice,  it seemed even more auspicious than it already was. I wrote a piece about it at M.Ixchel’s Healing Arts on Facebook, where I regularly share some of the more interesting cards and readings that come up.

Anyway, I shuffled my newest beauty of a deck while thinking about the Great Conjunction, pulled out a random card, and tah-dahhhh!!! Hello ACE OF SWORDS!!! Again!!! Ace of Swords also came up last week (from a different deck). Spirit can be persistent, LOL.

So let’s start with some keywords for the ACE of SWORDS:

  • New Beginnings
  • New Ideas
  • New Thoughts
  • New Ways of Thinking
  • New Ways of Seeing
  • New Downloads
  • Increased Mental Clarity
  • Divinely Guided Communication
  • Truth
  • Justice
  • Re-alignment

In a nutshell, the Great Conjunction is considered to be the final activation for the long awaited Age of Aquarius – yeah, the one we’ve been waiting for since the late 1960s – and the list of keywords (above) for the Ace of Swords pretty much says it all. (Guess what song was running through my head this morning, LOL.)

Whether we can feel it or not, our generation is living through a truly historical moment of cosmic proportions at the moment. And everything that is going on in the world – the pandemic, racial and economic disparities, the new virulent mutation of the virus, political polarizations and dysfunction, more lockdowns, etc. – all of it is playing a vital role in triggering a truly seismic shift in human consciousness, which is completely in alignment with the tenets of the Age of Aquarius. Of course there is HUGE resistance to it, with the status quo fighting tooth and nail to keep existing systems the way they are, but that always happens when change is imminent. Remember the Luddites? Well, something like that, only on a larger scale.

At this point if you’re not clear on what the Age of Aquarius stands for, this iconic song offers a simplified version of what it means.

So… as we all know, the transformation of human consciousness usually doesn’t happen overnight. It can be quite a lengthy process, but it’s different for everybody. The primary reason for the bumpy and ambiguous timeline is this – each of us is a Soul having very human experiences every single day of our lives. And some of those experiences can be really hard and really painful, and they absolutely do bog us down. A lot.

For those who are experiencing the process of transformation, there can be periods of discomfort, where unidentifiable rumblings are occurring at a subconscious level. We may feel tired, agitated, or out of sorts for no explicable reason. This always happens before whatever is percolating rises to the surface and enters fully into our consciousness.

It is a birthing of sorts – an emergence of newly understood Truths that are clear as day, and as bright as the Saturn and Jupiter ‘Star’ on the longest night of the year.

What kind of subconscious rumblings are we talking about? Typically they involve stuff like questioning the societal structures and hierarchies that create disparity, division, and disharmony on our planet. This includes reflecting upon our own place or role within those structures and hierarchies. What have we agreed to that is not in alignment with our Soul or the Universe? That sort of thing.

This is the type of foundational shift that the Great Conjunction in Aquarius is all about, and that’s why it’s so important. It can completely change our world view, and this is huge in terms of exponential growth at every level – mental, emotional, spiritual – ALL of it.

So let’s see what the ACE of SWORDS has to say about it…

The sword [of Truth and Justice] passes through the crown to connect with Source Energy (Universe, Spirit, Goddess, or God of your understanding). The crown is symbolic of our head, mind, and Crown Chakra (where the Light enters), and its indigo gem is symbolic of our Third Eye Chakra – the portal and seat of our inner-knowings regarding sacred Truths.

Note that the sword in the image is emitting energetic waves outward from it. This is literally what happens when we raise our own vibration through practices such as meditation, yoga, prayer, practicing gratitude, etc.. Our energy merges with, elevates, and affects the energies all around us. The more that everyone engages in elevating their own vibration, the more the energy will be amplified, thus benefitting the entire planet. It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of the collective to affect change.

The cards you see in the background (see above) are the Major Arcana Tarot cards associated with the Great Conjunction:  SATURN (World), JUPITER (Wheel of Fortune), and  AQUARIUS (Star). Their abbreviated story goes like this:  Attainment, integration, karmic re-alignment, and the cosmic reset button (World), together with change, turning point, and Universal Laws (Wheel) segues unequivocally toward healing, renewed hope, and divine guidance (Star).

And HOW will all of this will be manifested?  It will be through the message contained within the ACE OF SWORDS (see keywords above), i.e. the awakening stages of enlightenment within the collective. How beautiful is that!?!!!!!

Now is our moment to clear out old energies and upgrade to a new paradigm and worldview. This unfolding shift in consciousness and resulting correction (re-alignment) is the antidote to the course of destruction that humanity has been on for a very long time. What an exciting time to be alive!

Now… as promised, and given the overcast conditions this week, this is how I was able to locate and view the Great Conjunction at sunrise this morning. The images below were captured using the SkyView app on my iPhone. The red line demarcates the actual horizon. Isn’t technology amazing!

Sunrise this morning with Mercury kissing the Sun, and Venus up above.
And there they are, Jupiter sitting directly in front of Saturn!!!
Given that the sun was visible at sunrise, I was hoping that Saturn/Jupiter might be bright enough to see when they rose above the horizon at 10:03 a.m., but… clouds of course, LOL

Tarot Deck: Elemental Power Tarot by Melinda Lee Holm, illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason

The White Umbrella: Imitators in the Long Shadows of Cultural Appropriation

Man Changing into Thunderbird by Norval Morrisseau, 1977

The backstory: Toronto artist, Amanda PL, has been called out for cultural appropriation and plagiarism. Widespread outrage within First Nations and artistic communities resulted in the cancellation of her upcoming exhibition. To make matters worse, a video was released where she and her boyfriend used racial slurs and mocked Asians. This has sparked a heated national conversation about cultural sensitivity, cultural appropriation, and white privilege.

by Amanda PL

So… after studying the articles, interviews, videos, extensive commentaries, and thinking long and hard on this, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say some controversial things that to date nobody has pointed out. They are details that I feel are important to the broader conversation – mainly around the “white privilege” backlash that Amanda PL is experiencing.

I find it curious that she repeatedly emphasizes her status as a Toronto-born Canadian, but carefully omits information about her cultural heritage. You see, I strongly suspect that Amanda PL is a “hyphenated” Canadian, which raises the question of whether the accusations of white privilege even apply in her case. Although she is Canadian by birth, her parents likely immigrated here, but from where, she is not saying.

In Toronto, 75.8% of the population consists of people who are foreign-born or who have at least one parent born outside Canada (2011 Census). This girl has a slight, but detectable accent, she mentions spending time on the Mediterranean (on her website), and she calls her boyfriend, Bibi, a common nickname in the Middle East. And at the risk of falling into the realm of murky stereotypes, her hair and facial features suggest the look of a classic Middle Eastern beauty. Why is this important?

Toronto artist, Amanda PL

Many people are angry (and I’m paraphrasing here) that this “white girl” is appropriating a marginalized culture, the historic subjugation of which contributed to her elevation as a white, privileged Canadian. While she does appear to come from privilege of some sort, I seriously doubt that she is representative of white European colonialism that lead to the cultural genocide of First Nations People. Her story – the story – is more complex than that.

I am not in any way defending her, but it might be worth examining how families navigate the complexities of long-standing cultural issues, warts and all, of their newly adopted countries? Even second-generation Canadians often don’t seem to quite get the hang of it and can view the world through a lens tinted by the baggage of their immigrant parents.

In the case of Amanda PL, when confronted by her astonishing display of willful naiveté, it seems that she is trying very very hard (through misguided methods) to claim and build her Canadian identity while simultaneously shedding or negating her own ancestral roots, whatever they may be.

To be viewed as “other” within a bigoted dominant culture is no easy life, as indigenous people know all too well. For a hyphenated Canadian to be working so hard to erase the hyphen in their identity, only to turn around and crash the wounded boundaries of an marginalized cultural group… well, that’s just sad.

Yes, I’m making a huge assumption, but if my assessment is accurate, and I suspect that it is, how profoundly unfortunate. Canada’s immigration policies, on principle, have always been based on respect, diversity, and inclusivity. Is it all just an illusion for some? Sadly, the answer is probably yes.

Imagine how great Amanda PL’s art could be if she were brave enough to create a hybrid of her family’s cultural origins influenced by the Woodland Style. Now THAT would be original. Unfortunately, as an uneducated, self-taught artist struggling with identity issues and a lack of imagination, she has stubbornly latched on to the justification and delusion that her plagiarism is adding something valuable to the Canadian cultural landscape. Clearly, her Native Studies courses have taught her nothing. As one person commented, either she had a really bad teacher, or she was a really bad student.

Amanda PL is likely struggling with issues that I know little or nothing about. But I do know this:  children of immigrants who grow up in Canadian schools have to reconcile the Western values they learn there with often conflicting cultural values in the home. They can’t help being a little confused and a product of both. Trying to deny or hide it is deeply problematic on so many levels, including psychologically. Many hyphenated Canadians have and are struggling with identity issues, and are being vocal about it. I’m sure they would have some very valuable insight to add to this conversation.

In conclusion, and regardless of any underlying factors, Amanda PL seems unwilling or unable to understand that she has crossed a line. I would also add that the owners of the Visions Gallery (new to the art world) were remiss in their duty to ensure the integrity of every artist and exhibition they host. How did the situation get this far? Has this young woman (who studied at York and Lakehead universities) been encouraged for the past five years by a long list of enablers who themselves were lacking in cultural sensitivity and knowledge of artistic protocol? Everybody knows that while it’s okay to copy “the Masters” when you’re a student, you DO NOT ever try to exhibit or sell it as original work, right?

That nobody has called her out before now underscores the systemic shortcomings in Canada that allow very troubling problems like this to manifest. It is every mentor and educator’s responsibility to ensure that every student gets it. We obviously still have a long way to go. Sigh…



“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.  Marcel Proust

In 1983, my boyfriend gave me a set of Viking Runes. By that time we were a few years into our relationship, and it was typical for him to go on about ancient secret societies, Stonehenge, Mystic Christianity, Druids, Kundalini yoga, TM, Gnostic teachings, Freemasonry, the I Ching, the Dead Sea Scrolls, peyote rituals, Native American Shamanic vision quests, auras and chakras, etc. etc. To be honest, most of it was way over my head, but it did serve to fertilize my already burgeoning interest in esotericism. (More on that in my next post.)

Algiz – Protection

The Runes had an unusual but compelling smell, the kind you savour in one long inhale, and they were pleasing to the touch, smooth yet rough all at the same time. I quickly discovered that they provided uncanny insight and guidance when seeking counsel on various issues, especially during times of difficult personal challenges. Over a thirty year period, I consulted the Runes sixty-seven times, with gaps as long as seven years in between.

The last time I took them out was in early 2013, after my uncle Red’s funeral. I was exhausted and burned out after a frenzied decade of serving on multiple committees and boards for various arts organizations. Out of twenty five possible Runes, I pulled Sowelu from the pouch that day. Not surprisingly, it counselled that this was a time for recharging, regeneration, and that it might be necessary to retreat, “… a voyage inward for centering, for balance.” This was a confirmation of what I already knew in my gut.

In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left you. Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist

More recently, I’ve been studying the Tarot, which is a more complex system of counsel and tapping into the subconscious. In fact, today’s blog post was originally titled, Tarot, where I wanted to share a eureka moment I had this week about newly revealed layers of meanings in some of my artwork – symbolism which I had previously been completely oblivious to. For example, I realized that my painting, Song of Ages, which I conceived partially as a visual ode to grieving mothers, was also an unmistakable variation of the Empress (Mother) in the Thoth Tarot Deck. (More on that in my next post.)

So… as in Proust’s perceptive quote above, my most recent studies have resulted in seeing with new eyes, and as a lifelong seeker of wisdom and clarity of vision, the pursuit of fresh eyes has always proven extremely useful while navigating the complexities of living and loving. The real nexus point of the journey toward now began many years ago, and it involved a boyfriend and the gift of Runes.

The Book of Runes, by Ralph Blum

Photo credits:  Michelle LaRiviere

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