That's the Sh*t!

If you ask children of a certain age where babies come from, they may offer that mothers produce them through defecation. Although to an adult that may seem both crude and absurd, considered from a child’s perspective it makes a certain amount of sense. After all, we tell them that mother has a baby ‘in her belly’ and children have more familiarity with the productive capacities of the colon than the uterus.

My neighbors for many years were of German heritage, and in their house they had a plaque of a child sitting on a toilet, with a gold coin above his head. This, they explained to me, was the geldsheisser, literally the gold shitter (Google it for a variety of great images).

In Spain, it is the custom to eat lentils on New Year’s Eve. Now, due to the fibrous nature of lentils, they pass through the digest tract relatively intact. As a result, one can count on producing a pot of little coins on New Year’s Day, beginning the year with an indication of prosperity.

If it all seems a little second grade to you, remember that these things date back to a time when second grade was pretty much the high water mark of human understanding. But it is clear that what is most and least valued are tied together in our psyche in some ways.

A slightly different approach comes from the alchemists. In the photo, you can see that the bird - a symbol of birth and generation - is gilding the sleeping woman, simultaneously covering her in gold (albeit gold ex alimentum) and inseminating her. This moves the creative process back one step, yet continues the relationship among feces, gold, and creative power.

In popular culture, we continue the relationship between that which is most and least valued. Passing around some potent cannabis, one may proclaim “this is really good shit.” When my band was first starting out, we asked a professional musician to help us out with some musical direction. On those occasions when we got into a good groove, he would boom through his microphone, “Yeah! That’s the shit!”

The relationship between gold and feces may seem ironic to us, but a more sophisticated understanding is also possible. We can see that even the most valuable things eventually decay and are made base, as Chris Griffin reminds us in one episode of Family Guy as he pointedly tells a pastry, “I’m turning you into poop!”

Each New Year’s Eve, the Saturnian image of the white-bearded Old Year standing by the newborn New Year must make us aware that in 365 days that infant will have its turn at age and decrepitude. The awareness that all things are ultimately transient can move us towards a spiritual perspective, seeking after that which is not subject to decay and change.

We can also move in the other direction, along with the alchemists, who sought to change base substances into gold, which does not tarnish. The alchemists sought to save matter, to infuse it with spirit and thus make it into gold, which is as near to an eternal substance as they knew. Today, we have mountains of plastic and stockpiles of refined nuclear material that offer a very different view of matter as eternally enduring, and we may be like Midas, questioning the wisdom of everlasting material.

Why begin 2014 with a discussion of these things? The New Year coincides with the Capricorn new moon, which is closely conjunct the planet Pluto. Astrologically, we would say that this configuration sets the tone for the coming year.

Pluto is associated with the sign of Scorpio, and the image is of death and rebirth, of the transformation that comes from the cycle of life and death. Pluto is also associated with both the colon and the reproductive organs (elimination and generation) and also with money (gold). We can use waste as fertilizer, and decaying vegetation provides the food for future plants. Life grows out of death. Scorpio is also associated with healing, where a trip into difficult territory is often needed. As Jung said, it is in the muck of the unconscious, with all its past emotional wounds, that we find the gold of healing and the self.

Capricorn is an Earth sign, bringing us into the material realm. Yet the sign of the seagoat (whatever that is) is not about raw materials so much as product, the end result of careful planning, planting, harvesting, and then fabrication. It is the sign of the farmer, not the hunter-gatherer. It is Saturnian, and thus it is industrious. Capricorn is also about our institutions, to which we turn our attention when our basic needs (Cancer) are met.

The rulers of Capricorn and Pluto are in each others’ signs, forming what astrologers call mutual reception. This cooperative aspect has fueled a great rally in stocks over the last year or so, and has also helped Plutocratic powers like banks, government spy agencies, and other power brokers. Yet Pluto works by intensifying that which needs to change, bringing things to an extreme so that they can begin a counter-swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction.

New York City recently elected progressive Bill De Blasio after two decades of Plutocratic rule by Rudolf Guiliani and Mike Bloomberg. De Blasio was elected after an eclipse in which Uranus opposed the Jupiter of the city’s chart, and he was sworn in less than an hour before the sun’s conjunction with Pluto. Perhaps he represents this turning from one extreme to its opposite.

On a macro level, 2014 is likely to be another year when we see a struggle between Plutocratic and progressive forces. This will be intensified, particularly in April when the Uranus-Pluto square hits the U.S. sun. Change is needed, and this new moon signals that further changes (for there have been many already) is on the way.

On a personal level, we are also in a position to rethink our relationship to money. Sure, it is fine to want change for the other person, but you don’t want anything to happen to the corporations that make up your pension portfolio, do you? What is your ultimate disposition towards possessions? Are you competitive? Cooperative?

Saturn encourages us to consolidate. Look to where you spend both your money and your energy. What can be winnowed away from your life to create new space for more valuable projects to grow?

Pluto demands the we go deep in the process. What do we really value? What are we really about? If we could create a world where we were could be more concerned with being than surviving, would we do so?

2014 is a year to roll up our sleeves and dive into the depths, finding the gold coin, in whatever form it takes for us. Most new moons are about setting intentions, about deciding where to go - they look to the future. This new moon is more about setting priorities: given the time and resources available to you, where will you devote yourself? Where do you find your true self in the world?

Where is the real shit?