Monday, May 30, 2011

Moonwalk: Gemini

 




New Moon Solar Eclipse
June 1, 20112:03 pm PDT
(7:03 pm UT)

© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved


Two-in-One. The facet of Gemini most people know, even if they barely know anything about astrology, is the Twins’ famous split personality. When viewing Gemini as a Moon sign, it’s good to start with symbolism on a feeling level. Why does there need to be two of you?

If Gemini were born as a singleton symbol, s/he would create a sibling or partner just to have someone to talk to. Chatty, quick, and versatile, this Moon sign is all about communication. If you’re a Gem Moon, I suspect you talk to yourself more than most of the other Moon signs, and it helps to personify your inner listener to avoid feeling a little crazy. In fact, I’m sure Gemini gets so facile at these self-dialogues, “talking to yourself” is normal. When done well, positive self-talk is the building block of self-confidence and material manifestation.

We create and become what we think and repeat to ourselves in our minds.

As the sign of Gemini itself represents duality, self-talk has its upside and downside. The upside of your Inner Twins is always having someone to talk to in your mind and an uncanny ability to wade through a lot of mental input for having “brains times two.” Gems often are experts at handling mental matters.

On the side of the more challenging, I can’t think of Gem Moon without remembering the cartoon angel and devil I grew up watching. One sits on each shoulder of the person being tempted to do something wrong.  We all know or have experienced Gemini’s “evil twin.” The evil twin is often shocking because the good twin can be such an angel by comparison. Appearance of the evil twin comes from dis-integration. Most of the time, Gem Moon can integrate these extremes of self. When s/he can’t, all hell breaks loose. I know someone who finds Gemini cold rather than hailing from The Hot Place in this dis-integrated state. After observing Gems who turn to ice and appear to lose all feeling, this individual is convinced they come from another planet. If the Gem in your life “goes cold,” know you’re witnessing that dis-integration.

I want to talk about the buildup to dis-integration, before it happens, because there are practical ways a Gem Moon might be able to cut off at the pass his or her downhill slide to ET (Evil Twin, which doubles well for the chilly extraterrestrial metaphor, too.) There was a delightful and very funny man with Gemini Sun I used to date years ago. He had the best description ever for the challenging side of his Gemininess, applicable as much or more to Gem Moon: “I beat myself up with my mind.”

Ouch! Anyone with Moon in an air sign or even earthy but mental Virgo can relate to this malady. Gemini Moon is especially prone to it.

What do you do when endless thought loops threaten to overtake you? When you can’t stop the chatter in your head? When this mental treadmill keeps you from a good night’s sleep? If Gemini Moon can develop strategies for this issue, s/he has it made.

Mind Over Chatter

The cut-offs can be extremely simple. When stuck in endless thoughts, it’s all about breaking a pattern that has gone “vicious circle” without your permission or desire. That means doing something different to break the circuit of your synapses firing like a machine gun with no off switch.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. If you know tapping or emotional freedom technique (EFT), do it. Here’s an intro video. While designed to address negative emotions, tapping is effective on circular thought loops because they precede emotions. (See header below). You may ultimately feel frustrated, stuck, and hopeless or battered by your unstoppable mental chatter.
  2. Splash cold water on your face.
  3. Find an image that “wakes you up” and breaks the pattern. Example: Cher slapping Nicolas Cage in the face in Moonstruck and saying, Snap out of it. I don’t recommend physical violence on anyone, including yourself, but …
  4. A few gentle taps upside your head can wake you up out of your mental rut just enough to attract your attention away from the drilling expedition you’re doing into your gray matter. The qi gong practice I do involves cupping your hands and doing this gentle tapping on your head and other parts of your body. Feels great!
  5. Use White Chestnut flower essence. This could be the best remedy you’ll ever discover, as it actually helps dispel runaway thoughts by simply taking a few drops of tincture under your tongue several times a day for a few weeks. You may feel results anywhere from a few days to a week or two. If it’s a chronic issue, periodic rounds of this essence could be the best thing that ever happened to you. [1] [2]



Thoughts Precede Feelings

My birth mom was a Double Gemini. I learned much about Gemini Sun and Moon from observing her in our 15 years together after we were reunited.

Some Geminis can seem high-strung or even mentally fragile. I saw why when I observed my original mom. She was nearly paralyzed by her emotions most of her life, which seemed directly connected with her inner dialogue about things that happened to her. In earlier times, people called what she did ruminating. She stewed on, or over thought situations, she considered unpleasant until the thoughts built to fears that overwhelmed her. She helped me see that what we think about things precedes how we feel about them. You may have noticed at holiday gatherings how memories differ from one family member to the next. In fact, sometimes you wonder if all of you are talking about the same event. One may have reacted in anger, another in amusement, another in observer mode of others’ reactions. They were telling themselves very different stories about the same event, a mental process that led to unique emotional reactions.

When these thought-to-feeling patterns become kneejerk and lifelong around certain subjects, the Moon in Gemini can truly become his or her own worst enemy—the reason for nipping those runaway thought loops in the bud. Breaking these patterns is Gemini salvation. Not only can Gems do it; we all can do it at times when our minds are off and running in a way that does not serve us.

Charmers

Geminis are among the most charming people on the planet. When they extrovert their mental abilities, they are social butterflies, good at the chitchat many more introverted types find foreign. Gems tend to look forever young and have a range of mental interests that boggle the imaginations of the other eleven signs. Gemini skills are such an asset in both business and pleasure. Find a Gemini you really like, observe his or her behavior, and send yourself to vicarious charm school. If you’re already a Gemini Sun or Moon and/or have several planets in Twin, watch another Gemini, anyway, and pick up some new tips!


Gemini Mind Float Experience

If you have Sun, Moon, or Mercury in Gemini—or a lot of air that gives you the same hyperactive mind that the sign of Gem is prone to—let’s do a practice this month to learn how to give your brain a break.

  1. Find the gentlest, most calming music you can muster.
  2. Lie on your bed or in your easy chair while you listen to it. Put an eye shade or cool cloth over your eyes to eliminate all stimuli and relax your facial muscles.
  3. Imagine you are floating on a cloud. Your only job is to let your brainwaves rest. Imagine an EEG where the waves are sweetly calm like ripples on a lake, even to the point of mesmerizing boredom. Float here for as long as possible, at least 15 minutes.
  4. Every time a thought enters, acknowledge it and let it go. For example, you’re worried about your kid’s bad report card. Say to yourself three times, “Report card, report card, report card,” then let it float off on your calm brain waves. Do this treatment on anything that comes to mind, even if you find yourself doing it for most of the 15 minutes the first few times.
  5. If you fall asleep, nap a little. Modern literature tells us napping is good for us. The mind that rests well works best. (See Take a Nap! Change Your Life by Sara Mednick and Mark Ehrman.)
  6. When you get up or wake up, no talking for ten minutes. Many Gems still need to learn that silence is golden. Space between words is as important as margins on paper and blank lines between paragraphs. Don’t be the oral version of sentences that all run together giving listeners, including yourself, no room to breathe or absorb the input. If you love to communicate, “white space” around your words is a crucial part of doing it well.


Click to Enlarge
This Gemini New Moon Solar Eclipse

Eclipses are more powerful lunations and tend to catalyze turning points and change. The house where 11+ Gemini falls in your chart and any planets it activates will determine some of the areas of life and issues the New Moon will trigger for you this month. On the side of being more proactive, the New Moon is always a good time to start something new for the immediate weeks ahead. An eclipse is ideal for starting something new that really matters to you, things you want to have positive repercussions from this month’s starting point.

The Sun/Moon conjunction for this New Moon trines Saturn—an opportunity to ground in reality your intentions for this new 28-day cycle, remembering that the intentions you set will resonate like the sound waves of a chime, ringing for months to come because of the eclipse.

The North and South Node are on the Gemini/Sagittarius axis this month, featuring mental pursuits, learning, and communication. Contemplate how you can take advantage of a positive manifestation trend in these areas of your life.

With Mars, Venus, and Mercury in Taurus, there is slower moving fixed energy underlying the exciting mental and communicative energy of the Gemini Sun/Moon. This can be grounding or frustrating, depending on your tolerance for “set up.” The Gemini New Moon bring great ideas and a desire to run around and do a lot of things while the Taurus planets in the New Moon chart are likely to pull you back to a slower pace. This kind of combo is great for the conceptual stages of ideas and plans, where you plot your course while the Taurus planets invite you to plod it out more slowly, getting there. This allows you to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s along the way, probably resulting in a much better outcome for being thorough in procedure.

Jupiter sextile Neptune can be a time where you can dream big and conjure up vast plans. As Neptune is transiting rather close to Chiron, travel, learning and personal expansion will tend to have healing crises and perhaps resolutions attached to them. These pursuits are bigger than usual for growth and gains, if you seize the opportunity to work with them.

As we continue the long cycle of Uranus square Pluto, contemplate issues of freedom, progress and breakthrough and how they “square off” with matters of power and transformation. This is a time of great shake-up as the ‘60s were when Uranus and Pluto were conjunct in Virgo. I was talking with some of my close and spiritually oriented friends this weekend about how strange the energy feels “out there” right now. The best way I can articulate what I feel comes from an expression in Star Wars—a disturbance in The Force.

Life is morphing and changing form at deep levels—mentally and spiritually as well as physically with climate change and other drastic earth changes like tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes. My friends and I each said the same thing in different ways. We’re not who we used to be, but we’re not yet who we are becoming. The in-between feels strange, formless, and foreign. It feels like a frontier with no traffic signals or reference points. A sort of miserable malaise can overtake you, if you let it.

Don’t. These are the times to evoke what I call radical trust. If astrology teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that life is cyclical and rough patches pass. We got through the ‘60s, and the shake-up still resonates with the ultimate, positive difference it made in so many areas of our lives.

I find the best way to deal with the strange disorientation (it might work for you, too) is to stay in observer mode and use the anchors in my life that are most solid for me. These include family, close friends, and connecting with a world of like-thinkers on the Internet. It’s our positive trust that we are moving toward the new reality of One Consciousness and one family of humanity that will keep us sane and grounded, month to month—and, of course, add a great sense of humor. I hope Humor Month on The Radical Virgo helped!

~~~

Photo Credit: Two Moons © Sweetheart29 | Dreamstime.com

NOTES

1. White Chestnut is a Bach flower remedy. It is also made by the company FES, the same formula, different label called Healing Herbs. It can be purchased in most health food stores, Whole Foods, or similar types of establishments. You can even find remedies at Vitacost at a discount. (I buy almost all my vitamins and health products online there.) Buy a one-ounce empty amber or blue glass dosage bottle with dropper in addition to your remedy. Fill it about ¼ of the way with brandy or apple cider vinegar as a preservative. Fill just below the neck with spring water. Add 2-4 drops of the remedy. (Use your intuition for what feels right.) You can keep reusing and refilling the dosage bottle with the same remedy. (Do not reuse the bottle without sterilizing if using a different remedy, as they are vibrational and the pattern of the previous remedy will linger.) Pour a little boiling water to rinse out in-between uses. This will make your “stock” bottle—the one you purchase from the store—last for a long time. There is no need to take essences at the stock level.

2. For more on flower essences, check out these past posts:



Disclaimer: The references on flower essences in this article do not mean to imply any recommendation or certification of any individuals or companies mentioned. It is provided purely for informational purposes. Please make your own determination about the quality of the services and products offered. This article and the others referenced are not meant to constitute advice, nor are they meant to replace medical or psychological treatment.


Moonshift! This Moonwalk is the last in the series of twelve, which we started under the Cancer Moon in June 2010. We have now strolled across the lunar surface of every Moon sign. Starting next month, the Moonwalk will merge with the monthly New Moongram, available by free subscription only at the top of the sidebar. If you don’t already subscribe, I hope you will! You’ll still get the monthly New Moon chart, some concise comments about it, reference back to previous Moonwalks by sign, and these Moongram extras: thoughts on the Sabian symbol and a mini-meditation for each new Moon.

Soon I’ll announce more changes on The Radical Virgo to make time for my research and book project during the second half of this year.

Other reminder: The special on my Chiron 101 Summer School e-class ends June 1. Purchase now in the sidebar to save $20 ($59 before June 1, $79 afterwards). There are 20 maximum spaces, and they are filling up. Class begins July 11. See announcement for details.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Funny Movies for the Signs


© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Whether you want to tickle your Jupiter sign, your Sun sign, or a sign where you have a number of planets, this Zodiac Movie Guide is guaranteed to bring signs of laughter. If you don’t subscribe to Netflix yet, what are you waiting for? Please share your other faves and the sign you think they fit in the Comments. It’s time for Radical movie therapy!


Aries – The four Indiana Jones movies, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Heroic adventures with plenty of laughs along the way. Harrison Ford is the perennial hot hero, and his character is hilarious.

Keeping Up with the Steins, a movie about dueling bar mitzvahs that takes Aries competitiveness to new heights of ridiculous and actually made me laugh so hard, I could barely breathe. Stars Jeremy Piven, Jamie Gertz, Doris Roberts and Garry Marshall, among others.  All this and a kid finds himself.

TaurusTrading Places. Eddie Murphy is a streetwise hustler who trades places with a banker (Dan Akroyd) to learn if money really makes the man—and to fulfill a bet.

Death Becomes Her (1992). This one is actually good on either end of the Taurus/Scorpio continuum. Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep star in this black comedy about two women who discover the secret of eternal youth—and some of its drawbacks. We know Tauruses love beauty and physicality, but this flick takes it over the top!


GeminiJeff Dunham: Platinum Comedy, Vol. 4 (2009). Netflix describes Jeff Dunham as “not your father’s ventriloquist.” His array of alter-ego puppets suggest someone having a multiple personality disorder breakdown on stage. Jeff’s comedy is edgy, witty, fast and irreverent. His colorful cast of characters include Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Jose Jalapeño on a Stick, a purple creature named Peanut who seems to be on speed, an old fart named Walter, and a few others you might want to discover on your own. Reinforce your sides. They’ll be splitting. Sometimes you’ll think to yourself, maybe I shouldn’t laugh at this, but you just won’t be able to help yourself. And you Gems thought you had problems with a dual personality. Imagine juggling this crew.

Network (1976). This classic cautionary tale is a dark comedy where a news anchor loses it on the air. His outrageous antics boost ratings and predict some of the outlandish reality TV that has become everyday fare. Dubbed by Netflix “an Oscar-winning masterpiece,” it gave us a heads-up on the trashier side of television that we can now see with a flick of the remote. It meets all the Gemini needs—issues of mind, communication, and information, and is definitely a curiosity.



Groucho Marx, Duck Soup
You know, you haven't stopped talking since I came here? You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

CancerJulie and Julia (2009). Amy Adams stars as a bored foodie who decides to spice up her life by cooking and blogging about all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s classic French cookbook. In a dual story, Meryl Streep plays Julia Child to the hilt. You’ll laugh and cry and want to stuff chickens with her.

Moonstruck (1987). Cher and Olympia Dukakis both won Oscars for their performances in this slice-of-life romantic comedy about an Italian-American family in Brooklyn. Family? Moon? How Cancer can you get. A main character even works in a bakery. Also stars Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, and John Mahoney.

LeoThe Birdcage (1996). Another one of those films that works on both sides of a continuum, this one is Leo/Aquarius for the show within the show and the acting that must take place, primarily by a real queen—and Aquarian for its gay theme. Armand (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane) own a Miami drag club. When Armand’s son announces he’s marrying the daughter of a conservative Senator (Calista Flockhart and Gene Hackman), the charade of creating a “normal” family begins with Albert putting his cross-dressing talents to good use in an emergency. Others in this star-studded cast include Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski.

The Lion King (1994). Certainly, for Leo there should be at least one kids’ movie to entertain his or her considerable Inner Child. Could this be more Lion topic perfect—about a young cub who longs to be king who faces competition from his uncle? There’s also an element of Leo gold. The Lion King has been the largest grossing animated film of all time.

VirgoThe Road to Wellville (1994). This satire on 19th century health habits is as timely today as it was back then, especially for the Virgo who will admit to obsessing on the subject. The all-star cast includes Matthew Broderick, Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, Dana Carvey, and John Cusack.

Monk TV show (2002). Meet or revisit the defective detective, played by Tony Shaloub. Monk is so Virgo; he’ll make your Virgo planets squirm while they’re laughing. This show had a great ensemble cast. It’s set in San Francisco and wonderfully quirky.

LibraAdam’s Rib (1949).  Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn play lawyers married to each other who end up on opposing sides of a spousal attempted murder case, and it’s murder on their relationship that was sweet, till then. One of my favorite movies of all time.

It’s Complicated (2009). Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin are ex-spouses, Jack and Jane Adler, who accidentally wind up back in bed together—which complicates everything, including Jane’s relationship with the new man in her life, played by Steve Martin.

ScorpioYoung Frankenstein (1979). One of the funniest movies ever written, Mel Brooks takes the classic creepy tale to places no one would ever imagine. With company like Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Terry Garr and Cloris Leachman, how could it be anything but goofy?

M*A*S*H (1970). It’s classic. It’s dark comedy with sexy shenanigans. Army doctors patch up the wounded in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in the Korean War, only to send them out to be shot full of holes again. While most of us are more familiar with the TV version that came after it (also a great rent), this movie fun to revisit as the template for what followed on television. Stars Elliott Gould, Donald Southerland, Tom Skeritt, Robert Duvall, Sally Kellerman—an another unforgettable ensemble cast. 

Rupert Everett, My Best Friend's Wedding
It's amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.


SagittariusNash Bridges TV show (1996). Played by Don Johnson, both Don and Nash are Sagittarians on the streets of San Francisco. (I love the sequence that ran for awhile where we get to see Nash’s birth certificate.) Nash is a wisecracking underground cop who heads the Special Investigations Unit. As much a comedy as a cop show, Nash is my favorite TV show of all time, and that’s a tough call for any Mercury in Libra. I love ensemble casts, and this one is golden: Cheech Marin as Nash’s sidekick Joe Dominguez, Jeff Perry, Annette O’Toole and others too numerous to mention. Have Sag adventures in your easy chair and get ready to fall in love with a guy you can’t tame and wouldn’t want to. I cried when the series ended.

Educating Rita (1976). A modern spin on the Pygmalion story (what could be more Sag?), Julie Walters plays hairdresser Rita, who is determined to better herself. Alcoholic professor Dr. Frank Bryant (Michael Caine) becomes her reluctant tutor. She blooms, and together they learn some things about life and love.


CapricornNine to Five (1980). Fed up with their sexist boss, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton indulge in revenge fantasies. Fantasy turns to reality when they think they have inadvertently poisoned him (Dabney Coleman). The ladies cook up a plot to cover their tracks and turn the good old boys’ network on its ear.

Risky Business (1983). High schooler Joel (Tom Cruise) takes advantage of his parents’ absence on a vacation to turn the family home into a brothel. He’s enterprising! A Cap executive right down to his briefs. Tom Cruise does a famous lip-synch in his skivvies that catapulted him to fame and fortune. Life imitates art once more—and big business.

AquariusNorthern Exposure TV series (1990). It’s well-worth reliving life in Cicely, Alaska, a frosty town full of unusual individualists. They may as well have called the place Uranus on Ice. Stars Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin, John Corbett and many other total characters.

Mambo Italiano (2003). This one’s a treasure about an Italian-Canadian young man, who must ultimately come out with his old-fashioned, immigrant parents, played to archetypal perfection by Paul Sorvino and Ginette Reno. Luke Kirby is so loveable as Angelo, I wanted to adopt him. This story about the pain of being different and how love ultimately breeds acceptance will warm the cockles of your heart and keep you in stitches all the way.

PiscesChances Are (1989). This romantic comedy and another one of my all-time faves stars Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr. and Mary Stuart Masterson in a tale about reincarnation gone slightly amuck. It explains a lot about how coming-and-going from Earth works. You get a strong intuition you’re hearing the unvarnished truth hidden in humor. People with Pisces planets will appreciate a tale about someone who wants to get into a body instead of out of one.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979). Graham Chapman in a peculiar British comedy about a recluctant Messiah. The ending is the funniest and most Neptunian finale I’ve ever seen—one you’ll never forget.


Don’t forget to share your faves and the sign they match!

~~~

Photo credit: © Ariwasabi - Fotolia.com


Like my movie reviews? If you haven’t read my full-length piece on Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lighting Thief, check it out. It’s a great film for Outerplanetary People. You’ll see all the major PUNCs portrayed in their mythical personae and a few others thrown in like Venus/Aphrodite.


Chiron 101: Summer School: Don’t miss your chance for a $20 discount. Early bird special of $59 ends June 1. The class is filling up, and the maximum number of students is 20. The earliest this course will be repeated is in 2012.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Astrology and Humor


Taurus Rising


© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved


I had an encounter with a woman many years ago—someone very “proper.” She couldn’t understand why I use humor so liberally when talking about Chiron, because Chiron is “so spiritual.” I have a very different perspective, namely:

We’re closest to God when we’re laughing.

I don’t know how anyone could think that God, Spirit, the Cosmos—or Chiron—could lack a sense of humor. (How could anyone endure ongoing pain without learning to laugh?) We’ll get back to Chiron. For now, let’s start with “opposites attract” and just go around the zodiac for a minute. This, to me, shows that beauty and absurdity are both part of creation. Tell me this these magnetic matches aren’t a hoot!



Aries/Libra – Me-me-me meets Us-us-us!

Taurus/Scorpio – Touchy Feely meets, Don’t touch me! You don’t know me that well! (with apologies to Flip Wilson and his unforgettable character, Geraldine).

Gemini/Sagittarius – Curious About Everything falls for Already Knows Everything. (What’s left for poor fact finder Gem to share with this person?)

Cancer/Capricorn- Home Sweet Home meets Home Sweet Office.

Leo/Aquarius – Look at Me goes gaga for Look at Them!

Virgo/Pisces – Manners and Orderly is drawn to Might Be Drunk and Thrives on Disorderly


Humor Is Conflict

Conflict is one of the mainstays of humor. As thoroughly modern students of astrology, we like to call the “hard” aspects stressful, but by whatever name we call these tensions, they are a hotbed of hilarity. As another for-instance, let’s look at signs in square and the strange bedfellows they make. Just imagine some of their conversations …

Aries square Cancer – Adventurer and Homebody

Taurus square Leo – Down to Earth and His or Her Majesty

Gemini square Virgo – Flitting Factoids and Thorough Analysis

Cancer square Libra – Too Worried About the Kids to Ever Leave Home and Dying for a Romantic Getaway

Leo square Scorpio – Light (Sun) meets Dark (Pluto)

Virgo square Sagitarrius – Self-Doubt and Never Any Doubt

Libra square Capricorn – Beauty and the Corporate Beast

Scorpio square AquariusPrivate Cave and Public Love-In

Sagittarius square Pisces – Higher Education and High as Education

Capricorn square Aries – Step at a Time and Hit the Floor Running

Aquarius square Taurus – Sit-In and Just Wants to Sit

Pisces square Gemini – Feeler falls for Thinker


You could do this, conceivably, with every aspect that creates interchart tensions: quincunx, semi-square, sometimes the conjunction. (In fact, if anyone has any “good ones,” please share in the Comments.)


Humor: The Ultimate Survival Tool

No one wants "the crabs."
When life gets too heavy there’s only one thing to do—make light of it.  The first symptom that I have lost my sense of humor is when I’m crabby—and it has become chronic.

When I went through a very difficult time with my husband’s health some years back, I felt I had lost my connection to Spirit—and my sense of humor. That only gave more weight to my theory that they are closely connected.

Though I didn’t figure this out during that dark time, I now see that when humor does not come spontaneously due to depression, overwhelm, fatigue—whatever the cause—we need to seek “passive humor” opportunities. There’s the wonderful story about how Dr. Norman Cousins found relief from severe arthritic pain by watching funny movies. That’s my recommendation for passive humor—or funny TV shows, humorous books—whatever is your favorite medium where you can sit and receive amusement. Clear the cobwebs out of your mind and just take it in. You’ll laugh.


"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. ~ Norman Cousins

The physiological benefits of laughter are legion. The best article I ever read on this topic is How Laughter Works. It’s worth 10-15 minutes of your time to read the whole thing. It’s a thrilling read, and it will leave you laughing—more!


Jupiter, Your “Humorous”

If there’s an astrological funny bone, it’s your Jupiter. (The other humerus is the long bone of your arm, so the funny bone or elbow is part of it.) Hitting the “funny bone” feels very strange, even painful. A bundle of nerves are routed though it—and it’s easy to see the double entendre there. We need to laugh to release tension and nervousness. We often find funniest what “hits home” the most.

Here are some observations on what the various astrological archetypes find funny or do to make us laugh:

Jupiter in Aries:  Pointed humor. Quick witted. Example: Robin Williams, whose Jupiter in Aries opposes Neptune. He taps into the collective unconscious and channels whatever comes through faster than a fire out of control.

Jupiter in Taurus:  Jokes about money and food—like where his or her next dollar or cookie are coming from. Example: Jack Benny, whose routines were primarily about his being cheap and vain—beauty being another Taurus preoccupation.

Jupiter in Gemini: Speech or communication patterns that have a pattern of two or twin opposites and “good messenger” timing. Example: Bob Newhart, known for double-takes (Gemini duality), his deadpan humor, and his artful use of the pause. Deadpan humor is another Gem-duality, when something is funny because it is delivered with such seriousness.

Jupiter in Cancer: Jokes about family, hometown or neighborhood. Example: Humorous mystery author, Janet Evanovich, who writes about a blue-collar pocket of Trenton, NJ, known as The Burg in her numbers novels. (Laughter alert: A movie based on the first Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money, will be out in January 2012, starring Katherine Heigl as Stephanie.)   Also, Garrison Keillor, whose fictional hometown of Lake Woebegon, MN keeps us laughing on A Prairie Home Companion on National Public Radio.

Jupiter in Leo: Humor that makes fun of views other than his or her own. (My beliefs rule!) Example: Bill Maher, who considers anyone stupid who believes in “the talking snake,” his buzz words for the Garden of Eden story. He produced the movie, Religulous (2008), which discredits religion as ridiculous.

Jupiter in Virgo: Plays with language and “does it wrong” for laughs.  Example: Comedic pianist Victor Borge, who would read a sentence and punctuate it with silly sounds that you could easily imagine a comma, period, or question mark to sound like. Some of his other antics: He’d turn music upside down, botch a concerto, or play two different songs with each hand. He liked to turn proper Virgoness on its fussy ear.

Jupiter in Libra: Relationship humor, of course. Example: Rodney Dangerfield. “Take my wife—please.”

Jupiter in Scorpio:  Sexual humor, humor about the mysteries of life, gallows humor, sometimes a little twisted and/or macabre. Example: David Letterman. (You always knew he was a little off!) Swami Beyondananda gets the prize for mysteries of life humor with Jupiter conjunct Mercury, firing pun after pun about consciousness.  

Jupiter in Sagittarius:  Exaggeration, humor that’s over the top. Also those minister, priest, and rabbi jokes. After all, they’re about religion, one of Sag’s favorite topics. Example: Woody Allen. Jupiter in Sag conjuncts Sun and Mercury and is part of a T-square with Chiron and Saturn.

Jupiter in Capricorn: Occupational jokes and ones about aging. Example: Peter Sellers whose Jupiter in Cap opposes Pluto and trines Sun/Mars. He made a joke of the occupation detective in his bumbling Inspector Clouseau movies, the antithesis of the “together” Capricorn businessman archetype. With Mars in his Jupiter configuration, his comedy was very physical. Another example: Johnny Carson, with Moon/Jupiter conjunct in Cap, did an over-the-top caricature of psychics as Karnac the Magnificent.

Jupiter in Aquarius:  Humor that flips off the powers-that-be and cuts them down to size. Example: Matthew Brodderick. He played his Jupiter sign as the ultimate rebel charmer in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, one of my all-time favorite movies. Ferris drove the principal of his high school literally crazy with his clever defiance of authority and catch-me-if-you can nerve.

Jupiter in Pisces: Impressionists, another one for religious humor. One of the best examples of this is comedian/ ventriloquist Jeff Dunham whose puppets are like multiple personalities inside him screaming to come out. His Jupiter in Pisces conjuncts Chiron and trines Neptune. One of his characters is Achmed the Dead Terrorist, a literal skeleton of his former self. Jeff’s humor is edgy, and his puppets speak what many people think but would never have the nerve to say. In a very Jupiter in Pisces way, he’s tapped into the collective “humorous.”(Interesting note: Jeff’s birth data is not easy to find, differs in a couple of places, and the most likely correct data is 4/18/1962 in Dallas, TX.) Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson, born just a month later with the same configuration, expresses Jupiter in Pisces (conjunct Chiron) with his goofy, pliable facial expressions, becoming any face and every face.

Chiron and Humor

Most humor derives from pain at some level. We laugh about what hurts. Pain is a generic term that encompasses discomfort, embarrassment, anger, exasperation, friction, annoyance and many other feelings. Consider how you felt the last time someone was being a pain—and you can probably add pains by other names to the list.

The most positive Chironic characteristic is to make lemonade out of lemons. That’s what humor does. It takes what’s sour, adds the sugar of laughter and the water of our tears, if we laugh so hard we cry, and whatever we’re going through is suddenly bearable.

Chiron is prominent in the charts of many comedians, often in aspect to their Jupiter. While too wide to be considered a conjunction, my own Jupiter and Chiron are in the same sign—Scorpio—and I definitely feel the connection between what hurts and what humors.

In the channeled material, A Course in Miracles, we are told that miracles are changes of perception. When someone heals, we often say, It’s a miracle! Laughter changes our perception by putting pain in perspective.

Laughter is miraculous, and those who help us laugh are miracle workers.

Self-awareness and transformation—the gifts of astrology—are serious business. The more serious the subject, the more we need laughter to compensate for what we go through in the process of growth and evolution. We need to be the “light” at the end of our own tunnel.

I’d like to see a lot more humor in astrology—and a lot more astrology in humor. I don’t think it’s possible to heal without it.

You’ll continue to find plenty of it here on The Radical Virgo.

~~~

Photo Credits: Famous Dog © Willeecole - Dreamstime.com; Happy Sun © Tetastock - Fotolia.com; Humorous Blue Crab © Benjy - Fotolia.com


Next on Humor Month: Funny Movies for the Signs



Chiron 101: Summer School: Don’t miss your chance for a $20 discount. Early bird special of $59 ends June 1. The class is filling up, and the maximum number of students is 20. The earliest this course will be repeated is in 2012.


Monday, May 9, 2011

An Interview with Steve Bhaerman and His Alter Ego, Swami Beyondananda



© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved


Astro-Savvy, Cosmic Comic Kicks Off 
Humor Month on The Radical Virgo

You know him as Swami Beyondananda. You’ve met him in the Radical Virgo sidebar in The Daily Laughsitive. Now here to help us kick off Humor Month on The Radical Virgo is Steve Bhaerman, aka: The Swami. I know you’ll agree that a cosmic comic is in the right coordinates, landing on this asteroid in cyberspace!

Welcome, Steve.

JM:  Swami has been a long-time part of my metaphysical experience. It doesn’t seem like it was long after I was chanting Om with a vast sea of others at the Harmonic Convergence that I was first introduced to you and your hilarious work. I thought—then and now—that you’re the most unique comedian I’ve ever encountered.

How long have you been The Swami, and what is the genesis of the act and character?

SB: First of all, it was a total surprise to me. I say I got struck by enlightening during a brainstorm. I was living in Michigan. I had just lost my dream job, which was teaching autoworkers at Wayne State University in Detroit. I had to take a job, so I took one for the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan doing tree work. And while I was doing that, I was desperately trying to write a second serious book on education. I had published a book on my experiences in Washington, DC doing an alternative high school. I found myself going to work everyday wearing a jumpsuit, chipping brush, in a hard hat and so on, wondering, If I’ve taught at Wayne State University and had a book published by Simon & Schuster, how did I end up here?

And the universe had a very interesting idea for me. I got put with this new guy who was a brilliant psychologist disguised as a truck driver. He made a suggestion. “You know, you’re a writer, why don’t we start a little anonymous, humorous newspaper?”  And so we started a newspaper for the guys at the shop. It was totally made-up. We created them as characters in an ongoing, interactive situation comedy. It totally changed the workplace and changed my life because I recognized, first of all, the power of humor to bring new ideas in under the radar and to help people deal with difficult things in a user-friendly way. And I also recognized that I have the ability to produce humor that actually works.

And so, in the midst of doing this paper, this name flew into my head—Swami Beyondananda. I didn’t know what ananda meant. It means bliss. But at the time, I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew that all the swamis had ananda after their names. Beyondananda flew into my head, and a year later in 1980 when I was starting a holistic publication in Ann Arbor, my partner in this venture and I decided that we needed humor, because in those days people tended to take their spirituality very seriously. We initiated the Swami as our cosmic, comic mascot. It soon became the most popular feature in the paper. And then when I got the message to pursue humor as a full-time career, it was obvious that that would be performing as the Swami.

JM: So the Swami was born around 1979-80?

SB: The first column appeared in January of 1980 and the publication that my friend Josh Pokempner and I created was called Pathways. We used the Swami in a mock ad. Remember in the old days. There were these ads for Famous Artists’ School? We’re looking for people who want to draw?

JM: The ones on the back of the matchbook?

SB: That’s right! We did the Famous Gurus’ School. We’re looking for people who want to draw on higher consciousness. Then we had mock letters sent to Swami:

Dear Swami, loved your leadership training. Please send followers.

Then we had various techniques that the Swami introduced including tantrum yoga. Use your anger to heat your home in wintertime. Everything you ever wanted to know about sects … and, of course, since dogs are natural heelers, teach your dog to heal.

JM: Your background is even more colorful than I’d imagined—the genesis from climbing trees and doing tree work and how it took you to the newspaper. I’m excited to have that history. And moving onto our next question:

Astrology is just one tool and belief system associated with “the New Age.” I have always disliked that label for its inaccuracy. This type of wisdom has been around for thousands of years. From the perspective of the non-believer, there’s plenty to laugh at and make fun of, especially when encountering the extreme archetype of what I call a smiley-faced metafoofoo. You know, the individual who’s not very grounded and believes in every channeled entity, including radio signals picked up through his or her fillings.

SB: (Swami breaks into song) Fillings… nothing more than fillings …

JM: What aspects of “comic consciousness” get the most laughs?

SB: Well, you know, I think that the alchemy of humor has two elements that create energy in a joke or make something funny. One is surprise, and the other is emotional charge. So, if we’re talking about an issue that has a lot of emotional charge … and these are often emotional issues for people, whether they be relationships, body image and health, money, etc., etc. If you combine dealing with an issue like that with surprise, then you get a great laugh. And so when I first started out in the early ‘80s and then performing in the mid-‘80s, prosperity consciousness was such a big, big deal—and yet everybody who was pursuing prosperity consciousness was broke. And so there were all these money mantras. The Swami figured out that two of the biggest things people were interested in were having more money and losing weight.  So Swami came up with a mantra that was guaranteed to help you lose weight and have more money at the same time. It was, Everything I eat turns to money, and my drawers are full of cash.

JM: (Laughing.) I love it! That is hilarious.

SB: That always got big laughs, first of all, because it’s a nice surprise and also because it’s making fun of two of the biggest issues that people get to deal with. I find that that’s what gets laughs. You know, I’m an insider, as you hinted with your astrology question. In other words, I wouldn’t say I’m a true believer in everything, but I’m open-minded … and so, being an insider, I have more permission to make fun of these things than the outsider who’s looking to shoot holes in it. I am simply looking to point out areas where, in our human shortcomings—or actually short-seeings—we don’t recognize this particular contradiction. For example, all the people that get worked up about how you shouldn’t be judgmental.  So, the Swami says, I think judging is terrible! And people who blame are the cause of all the world’s problems.

And, of course, people laugh at that—the contradiction.

JM: And contradiction’s a big part of it, isn’t it? I think that’s where we’re the funniest.

SB: It’s a dance between the right and left brain, the intuitive and the logical brain. And so, the power of humor and the power of surprise is putting things together that wouldn’t normally be associated, while tricking the mind into thinking we’re going one place while we’re going somewhere else. Years ago, somebody asked the Swami, Swami, how do you feel about wild game preserves? And Swami said, Oh, I think they would taste terrible! I would stick with strawberry.

JM:  Steve, I know you’ve used astrology personally—the Vedic system, I believe. One of my colleagues who has studied various systems observed that it’s amazing how, whichever star path you use, Western or Vedic, you usually get to the same answers or conclusions. (There are many paths up the mountain.) What do you find particularly funny about astrology, astrologers, and the way we look Up for guidance?

SB: First of all, in regards to Vedic astrology as opposed to Western astrology, I want to quote Bob Dylan. He said, “You don’t need a Veda man to know which way the wind blows.” Now, my friend Jeffrey Armstrong is a Vedic astrologer, and it seems that somehow it all works out anyway—that these tools are simply instruments that people use to enhance their seeing, to enhance their intuition. Often the information comes, and if it weren’t through that tool, it would be from a different tool. People need to ask themselves, those who really want to reach out and tap into the Akashic record or the universal or whatever you want to call it, what resonates with them. The intention of getting this information is very powerful.

Now, of course, over the past few hundred years, Western science has pooh-poohed this whole notion of astrology. Yet, as we’re learning in physics, we are in a relationship with everything in the physical universe. It makes sense that certainly, if the Moon can impact the tides, menstrual cycles and so on, it’s certainly possible that the heavenly bodies have an interaction with all human bodies in this matrix. In gleaning these patterns, there is a tremendous amount of intuition and wisdom. For example, you mentioned earlier before we started the recording, that Mercury is retrograde.[1] Now, when I first heard about that, I said, “Well, who cares? What’s the big deal?” But in years and years of hard-learned lessons about Mercury Retrograde, I’ve gotten a lot of respect for it as a period of time when you want to be reflecting rather than trying to move things forward because the universe will have a better idea.

I think in a certain sense the sciences that are open to understanding are coming to realize that all bodies have relationships with all other bodies and that astrology may very well be proved by physics.

On Mercury Retrograde:  I’ve gotten a lot of respect for it as a period of time when you want to be reflecting rather than trying to move things forward because the universe will have a better idea.

JM:  Thanks for sharing your chart with me as part of our interview, published here “Western style” for the Radical Virgo readers to look at, since that’s the orientation of most of us. There are a set of features in your chart that are exciting to see, given what you do. First, your Jupiter, which indicates among other things your sense of humor, is very closely conjunct Mercury, the planet of communication. I suspect it would be impossible for you not be funny, even if you tried. Jupiter is in Scorpio for you (we share that), and one of the many expressions of that Jupiter sign is to laugh about the mysteries of life. How has your sense of humor served you, both in and out of your work as a comedian?

Click to enlarge

SB: By the way, they’ve now passed a law in California where, if you’re not satisfied with your astrological alignment, you can have your sign legally changed.

I spent my “deformative years” in New York City. My dad was a very funny guy. He wasn’t a professional comedian, but he used humor. What I noticed is that he really used it to bring people together. I grew up in a housing project and I learned to use my sense of humor when the big kids would ask me for money.  I’d look at them and I’d say, “I live here. If I had money, would I be living here?” And they’d leave me alone.

By the time I was in the 4th-5th grade, I was class comedian. You know you’re chosen by God as a class comedian the first time you’re sitting in the lunchroom and you make somebody laugh so hard, that milk comes out of their nose. It’s a sign from God.

So, I always had humor—and, of course, every child at some point is told to get serious. When I went off to college, I was told to get serious, and I really, really, really tried. I tried to blend in and tried not to make waves. So, I’m in a sociology class with about 250 other very, very bored students. I’m in the space between sleep and deep sleep. And out of the corner of my ear, I’m hearing the professor, and she’s talking about social mores. And she said, “Who can define for us social mores?” Without even thinking, I’m standing up, and in this kind of comedic Tourette’s, what comes out of me is (singing), “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”

And, of course, everybody laughed, except for the professor, who gave me a D.

JM: Oh, how unenlightened.

SB: Well, I earned the D is all I can say. That was that.

JM: I really love what you say about comedy bringing people together, because I really think that’s what it does. It joins us in our vulnerable places where we all are the same—where we all want the same things and feel the same things—and have the same fears, laughs and joys. That’s the thing about comedy I love, and thank you for verifying that you were born to do this.

SB: I want to make a comment about that—a very important point that you just made, because we are separated by the beliefs in our heads. We’re brought together by the love in our hearts. When we create whole-hearted laughter people can laugh, not out of nervousness, but because they are whole-heartedly vulnerable. And we put people in their hearts in the space of unity, and that’s why laughter is a resolution. You know, when you tell a joke, the punch line is the resolution of the joke, just like the end of a verse is the resolution in poetry or in music. That is the release of energy at the end of the joke. There is often an aha on the way to the ha-ha—an insight. And that’s the enlightenment that comes from lightening up.

We are separated by the beliefs in our heads. We’re brought together by the love in our hearts

JM:  A second set of features is most interesting in your chart, Steve. I’m a specialist in Chiron, the planetary body discovered in 1977 named after the “wounded healer” of Greek mythology who mentored heroes. He was inadvertently shot by a stray arrow, wounded by Hercules, his favorite student. As a result, Chiron had lingering pain because he was the son of an immortal and could not die. Astrological Chiron in your chart is at the midpoint between your Sun and Jupiter, creating a kind of cosmic sandwich. The Sun is who we are when we shine. Chiron has to do with the wounding/healing and wholeness cycle. And we’ve already covered Jupiter, what makes us laugh.

How do you see the role of comedy in healing pain?

SB:  As the Swami says, there’s only one kind of pain worth having, and that’s champagne. Beats real pain. I think that many comedians are the wounded healer archetype. I think I got off luckier than many, but often humor is a way to transform pain. I’ll give you an example. An inadvertent example. When I first started doing my talks on the healing power of laughter, one of the people in my workshops was a psychotherapist, and he said that when he first began his practice, one of his clients was a young woman who had been sexually molested by her grandfather. And he realized, of course, that this was a very, very delicate issue. And so, he was walking on eggshells, trying to make sure that he said only the right things that didn’t hurt her. And then he asked an innocent question. His question was, When did your grandfather molest you?  And her answer was, Before he died. And this guy thought that that was a very funny answer … and he began laughing. And all of a sudden, he’s laughing at this girl’s pain. There’s a part of him that’s starting to freak out: My God! I can’t be laughing! But he couldn’t stop himself. And at some point, she began laughing. The two of them laughed hysterically. She laughed until she cried. After she cried, that was the first time that she was ever able to talk about this experience.

If you think of e-motion as energy in motion, it’s possible for one emotion to open a gateway to access another one. Laughing and crying—you’ve seen that, where sometimes people are in the midst of great pain. Sometimes at a funeral or a wake, they begin laughing because there was something that they remember that was funny about that person … and then they start crying.

Laughter’s an emotional gateway. First of all, it’s a way of releasing emotional tension through laughter … but there’s often insight and awakening in the wake of that laughter. At that point, we wise up loving after waking up laughing.


Before Steve answered this question, we had a side discussion about his Chiron configuration and his four planets in Scorpio—the fact that he has a Libran veneer but a lot of Scorpio energy. He shared this Scorpio story.


SB:  We had this neighbor, who tended toward neurotic, and she’d create these big kerfuffles, and then she’d wonder why people had a problem with her. So after creating this one kerfuffle, she called me on the phone, a bit contrite, and she said, “Does everybody in the neighborhood hate me?” I said (the first sentence very sweetly), “Of course not. There are people here who don’t even know you.” There’s the Scorpio–and the Libra.

I commented about how he’s a relationship healer, not just on the level of one-to-one, but when you understand the Scales of Justice are the symbol for the sign of Libra, it also covers the political unrest that’s the collective not getting along.

SB: I’ve always had this issue with justice. When I was 12 years old, preparing for my bar mitzvah, I went to Hebrew School. I loved it. I loved learning a new language; I loved preparing for it. Then one day, a new teacher at this after-school program told us that we should only associate with other Jewish people. I raised my hand and I said, “That’s not what I learned in my family.” I grew up in a housing project. We had Italian kids, black kids; we had Jewish kids; we had white Protestant kids—just everything. She went uh-oh—and knew she lost me. At that point, I just turned the off switch to religion. It had to do with this perception of injustice.

(I share with Steve a similar experience.)

I think a lot of people who are turning into this new signal have had that distinction, that they have had a longing for spiritual connection but religion doesn’t really do it. I read somewhere—I forgot who said this—about the difference between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is our connection with the divine. Religion is crowd control.

As a species, this gets into my work with Spontaneous Evolution, my book with Bruce Lipton: We are now called upon to evolve spiritually and psychologically from Children of God to Adults of God.

(I share with Steve a resource that has helped me see stages of spiritual evolution, Finding Your Religion by Scotty McLennan.)

There’s a very interesting book I’m reading now about the political brain—about the right and left brain. The right brain, of course, is the open and expansive, reflective—it’s our connection with the infinite, love, etc.. The left brain is our rational, logical brain. Both of these brains are important. We need to expand and sometimes we need to protect ourselves and we need to contract. Rabbi Michael Lerner, who publishes Tikkun Magazine, he wrote a book called The Left Hand of God. He talks about the right hand and the left hand. The left hand has to do with the right brain—the expansiveness, this all-loving, all-encompassing God. But in this world, we also need a discernment of the left brain of our rational mind to help us distinguish between the parts of this amorphous goodness that’s really good for us and the parts that are simply disguised as goodness and are something else. We need both parts of our brain. We need them in the political domain, and of course, we have two political parties. Swami’s joke is that he dreams of someday when the elephant will lie down with the donkey and not roll over on him.  Because the two political parties, I think, are toxic distortions of feminine and masculine archetypes.

We have the Republican Party that tends to be a distortion of this masculine principle of control, domination, linearity, etc. We have the Democratic Party, which seems to be a distortion of the feminine principle, where—if I can be blunt—for the past 25 years, the Republicans have been playing hard ball and the Democrats have been playing hardly have balls. We have the toxic abuser on one side; we have the toxic enabler on the other side. The work that I’m doing with my buddy Joseph McCormick in the Transpartisan Alliance in reuniting America, brings the most functional aspects of both the masculine and feminine principles, progressive and conservative, together to function as an integrated whole rather than as dueling dualities.

On politics: I think the two political parties are toxic distortions of the feminine and masculine principles. We have the toxic abuser on one side; we have the toxic enabler on the other side.

JM: This is a perfect lead-into my next question, because I need to share something with you about Chiron. The different planets “rule” or are associated with various key ideas and even parts of the body. The part of the body Chiron is said to rule is the corpus collosum of the brain or the place where the right and left brain merge. Everything with Chiron has to do with pulling together and integrating masculine/feminine, light/dark, and so on.

SB: Wow, how cool is that?

JM: Way cool! When you were saying that about the political arena, I was getting chills. What’s really exciting for me about our conversation is that even though we’ve gotten there from different paths, you’re saying all the same truths and conclusions I’ve come to—as two vintage boomers—we’ve converged to the same truth. I find that exciting, and it confirms what you said earlier about how the tools just bring us to the same core principles about the universe.

SB: That’s excellent. Bruce Lipton and I found in writing Spontaneous Evolution that the next phase of human evolution is recognizing that we’re all cells in the body of a new organism called humanity. We are now at the population density level where, obviously, the institutions we’ve established to deal with reality are not doing their job. They’re doing the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to be doing. We need to have a new organizing principle. That organizing principle is recognizing that we’re cells in the same organism—and what’s good for humanity is good for us as individuals. We don’t lose our individuality by doing that; we actually gain more freedom, because we gain freedom from our own programming … and we also gain freedom from having to defend ourselves against other healthy human beings.

I’m noticing that people are finding many, many different ways to say the same thing because many of us are attuning to the same signal coming from this new organism called humanity that exists in the field but doesn’t yet exist in physical reality. 

JM: It’s exciting to be on the brink of all that. We live in interesting times, indeed.

SB: Yes, that’s what’s exciting about it … and they say that crisis and opportunity are really two sides of the same coin. As we see the crisis, we can look at it as the caterpillar deconstructing. We can look at the opportunity as the butterfly being reborn.

On Evolution: The next phase of human evolution is recognizing that we’re all cells in the body of a new organism called humanity.

JM: I love that your Chiron is in Libra, which is a rather rare placement, because in Chiron’s very uneven elliptical orbit, Libra is the sign where Chiron spends the least time, only 1.75 years out of every 50. As the planet of healing in the sign of relationships, your true calling would have something to do with creating better relationships in the world. You have a big emphasis on the 6th house of healing—many planets there. So, it looks like healing relationships and bringing that Libran balance to the world is a big part of your mission.

Tell us about some of the ways you’re doing that, because I know you have some newer projects that truly show you “living your chart” in these areas.

SB: That’s very, very interesting. My earliest interests, besides humor and baseball, included politics. My first landing spot after graduating from college was Washington DC. I was an intern teacher there, got involved with a lot of political activity, and found myself turned off to many of the political things going on … I’ll give you an example.

One of the people I met early on in my political endeavors was a world-famous expert on communal living, but unfortunately, nobody could stand to live with him. We would see these contradictions between the ideal and the real deal. And so, when I set out on what I would consider a spiritual journey to really understand psychology and spirituality, as a prerequisite to functional politics, that took me to many, many different paths and practices. Before I began writing my book with Bruce Lipton, I had this idea that I’d write a book called Healing the Body Politic because I recognized that so much of what I learned in holistic medicine would indicate that politics is a series of relationships. We’ve been practicing Newtonian politics, where we have one force acting on another force, and you’re seeking to be the most dominant force.

In the wake of writing that book with Bruce Lipton, Spontaneous Evolution, which does deal with politics and economics, I’ve been working with Joseph McCormick, as I mentioned who is the creator of the Transpartisan Alliance. Joseph’s background is probably as different from mine as you can imagine. He grew up in a very conservative, Catholic family. He was an Army Ranger, a member of the Christian Coalition, and ran for Congress as a Republican. When he lost his election in 1998, he began an individual process of transformation. It began with a dark night of the soul, and he ended up bringing together leaders of very diverse groups. For example, Moveon.org and the Christian Coalition—getting these leaders to connect and be in relationship with one another.

He and I just completed an e-book called Reuniting America: A Citizen’s Tool Kit for Transforming the Political Game. We are now in the process of turning that into a print book. The work that we are doing together is this healing work—when you create a sacred circle, when people with very different and opposing ideas can sit with one another in the context of respectful listening, invoking the powers of love. That’s what he does whenever he begins one of his circles. The power of love and oneness transcends the separation of religion and other belief systems. He has been able to create extraordinary breakthrough with ordinary citizens. My path right now is to support him in that and bring in an entirely new, integrated political order that honors the exact thing you were talking about. The transformational power of Scorpio in the context of Libran relationship.

JM: I’m in awe of how you live your chart. You are such an example of someone who has taken his chart factors to the highest level. It’s a joy to behold.

Let’s go back to being funny for just a minute here. People who read this blog know that I am a shameless punster … but I don’t hold a candle to you when it comes to endless wordplay. I believe puns are ruled by Chiron in astrology. The reason? Chiron orbits between Saturn (grounding) and Uranus (brilliance, inspiration, lightning bolts of wisdom, and that surprise factor you talked about). Chiron helps us bring the cosmic wisdom—and corn!—down to earth. It acts as a kind of transducer. It takes the high-vibrating cosmic info and slows it down for an earthbound landing and helps you place it right smack in the middle of a sentence. Talk about healing. There’s nothing that upsets the applecart of one’s stuck energy in a good way like a well-placed pun, even a groaner. Gets you right out of yourself and your concerns to see how absurd and multi-level the universe really is. It’s a reminder of how we must laugh at ourselves to survive.

Are you a spontaneous punster or set-up punster? Or both? How have words played into your life?


SB: What an interesting and loaded question. There’s a lot of stuff in there. I’d say that I hear funny. I’m auditory. I’ll hear—for example—I make up names. There’s a woman who can’t stay in a relationship because of her name. Her name is Frieda Knight. A guy asks, “Are you Frieda Knight?” and she says yes. Then, you remember Aristotle Onassis. He actually has a nephew who was a survivalist in Idaho. Know what his name is? Xavier. Xavier Onassis.

The question a lot of people have is why do people groan at puns? The reason why people groan at puns is because puns often do not have the emotional charge needed to create a full-blown laugh. I’ll give you an example. When I lived in Texas years ago, I was asked to be a judge at the annual O. Henry Pun-Off. I found that I was bored; because it would simply be a strand of words that people would have strung together that didn’t really have any connection with our emotions—which is kind of like mental masturbation. So, when people are throwing this wordplay around, first of all, they have to be able to make a connection with an emotional issue in order for the pun to land in a way that’s more than as just a little mental game.

What I’ve found is that, again, when someone might ask the Swami about their weight (switches to his Swami Indian accent), “Well, it’s psychological—an unresolved edible complex. You think something’s edible, you put it in your mouth.” Because it has an emotional charge, people find themselves laughing before groaning. We do have audiences that tend to groan. It’s rare these days, and then Swami says, “I see you’re groan-ups. So everybody, let’s groan up.” And I create a thing where everybody groans and then release that energy, because that’s what prevents humorhoids.

I discard a lot of puns because they don’t have enough charge to them. There’s not enough surprise. It’s predictable.

JM: I have never heard someone separate that out as well as you have. I have never thought about why a pun doesn’t land well. Wonderful!

SB: We laugh because we’re surprised and delighted. It goes back to the baby playing peek-a-boo. Now you see it; now you don’t. The punch line in a joke is always invisible until it’s revealed. Usually, it’s 1, 2, 3. One creates the premise. Two builds the premise. Three provides the surprise.  I’ll give you an example.

A minister, a priest, and a rabbi (there’s 1, 2, 3)—they are having a serious conversation about what their legacy would be. They’re answering the question, When you’re lying there in your casket, what do you want people to be saying about you?

The minister says, I want people to say he was a leader in his community and a good family man.

The priest says, I want people to say he was a spiritual man and had a kind heart.

And the rabbi says, I want people to say, “Look! I think he’s breathing!”

One, two, three. Start, reinforce the set-up, then surprise.

JM: In your opinion as the wise Swami Beyondananda, what do we most need to heal on earth now—and how can laughter help?

SB: Let me bring the Swami in to answer that, OK? Here he comes.

OK, let me tell you something. What we need now is to wake up laughing and wise up loving. Why laugh? I’ll tell you, because there’s definitely something funny going on. And when we laugh, we create the space between thoughts where enlightening can strike. Then we have an aha in the wake of the ha-ha. Yes?

Wise up loving, because the true power that we have is love. In the head we have beliefs that separate us. And believe me, what people believe is unbelievable. We need to leave the static of the head for the ecstatic of the heart. The more we expand our hearts, the less we are going to need to shrink our heads. And the good news is that love is more powerful than fear, otherwise we’d be singing, “All You Need is Fear.”

JM: Steve, lastly, let’s tell our readers where they can get more Swami from your website, books, and so on—and how they can bring you “live” to their town. I saw you in Sacramento last December, and I have to say, I’m still laughing inside. My insides feel like quivering Jell-O every time I return to the scene in my mind.

SB: There are two ways you can do it. You can go to wakeuplaughing.com. Swami’s schedule is there. You can also click on Swami’s Store. There are books, CDs and  DVDs available—also e-books and digital downloads, so you can have plenty of comedy for very little money. We have what we call the Fool Enchilada Special, which gives you all of Swami’s comedy, either digitally or in real-time CDs, books, and DVDs.

You can also find Swami Beyondananda on Facebook. We have a Facebook page and lots of stuff going on there. You can get Swami’s Daily Laughsitive in your in-box to make sure that you preserve regular hilarity.

If you want to bring the Swami to town, there’s a contact page on Wake Up Laughing or you can send the Swami a message on Facebook. You can request some information on that. It so happens that we’re going to be in Fairfield, IA May 13-15 at a longevity conference where I’ll be performing. In June, we’ll be on the East Coast at the Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts. We’ll be in Montpelier, VT, and New York City as well. If you are on the East Coast or in the Midwest and you’d like to bring the Swami during that period of time, we still have some openings for living room events and other special appearances. Just write info@wakeuplaughing.com.


Steve, thank you so much for sharing your work on The Radical Virgo in both the Daily Laughsitive and this interview. Most of all, thanks for helping launch Humor Month by telling us more about you and your wonderful work. I’d like to end with one of my favorite quotes.


Laughter is carbonated holiness. ~ Anne Lamott


This must be true. Swami is very warm and fizzy—and wholly!

~~~

Steve Bhaerman is an internationally known author, humorist, and workshop leader. For the past 25 years, he has written and performed as Swami Beyondananda, the "Cosmic Comic." Swami's comedy has been called "irreverently uplifting" and has been described both as "comedy disguised as wisdom" and "wisdom disguised as comedy."  Author Marianne Williamson has called him “The Mark Twain of our times.”

Note

[1] This phone interview took place on April 13, 2011 beginning at 10:00 am PDT, initiated in Rocklin, CA.