Sunday, June 7, 2009

Full Moon in Sagittarius: Time Travel to 1925

The Full Moon in Sagittarius is a great time to travel and explore, as this is perhaps the most questing of all lunations. And indeed, I spent the afternoon at a place I've never been: Governor's Island in New York Harbor, less than a mile from the southernnmost tip of Manhattan. It was also spent in a time I've never been (except for possibly a previous life)--the 1920s. There was a Jazz Age Lawn Party that encouraged picnickers; the centerpiece was an achingly exquisite band, Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, that played such red-hot tunes as "Sweet Georgia Brown." There was an actual wooden dance floor on which you could fox-trot, shimmy, do the Charleston, or just kick up your heels while making "jazz hands." Also on the premises were two societies you could sign up for: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker.

I have been drawn to the 1920s ever since age 11 or so, even though my version of the Charleston is more like a Boston, and I cannot wear my hair in a flapper bob because I would look more like Little Orphan Annie than Clara Bow. Yet I find myself admiring and even relating far more easily to such Lost Generation literary luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dawn Powell (a lesser-known literary giant), and the first generation of film stars, than the hottest names of today, many of whom seem to have little-to-zero class, in my most nonhumble opinion. As for the music, jazz before it was co-opted and homogenized to "swing" makes me want to get on the dance floor and do my pseudo Charleston, and also get more than a little bit naughty, while techno and hip-hop make me want to flee clutching my violated ears.

Astrologically, what put the flame in Flaming Youth and the roar in the Roaring Twenties was Neptune (the collective dream) transiting the fiery sign of Leo (what does the lion say, children?). On an even deeper level, Pluto had entered Cancer in 1914, the beginning of World War I, which effectively ended the Victorian age and began transforming at a very deep level (a Pluto action) what constituted home, hearth, and femininity (Cancer is, bar none, the most feminine sign of the zodiac). The combination of Neptune in Leo and Pluto in Cancer was certainly dramatic and crucial for women. Prior to the 1920s, only actresses and prostitutes appeared in public wearing noticeable makeup; then it became more common to see the girl next door wearing lipstick and other cosmetics, possibly even smoking a cigarette. The ideal beauty went from being curvy (plump by today's standards), with masses of upswept hair, to a thinner, flat-chested "garconne" as epitomized by Coco Chanel, who managed to blend glamour with practicality (she virtually invented costume jewelry and the women's suit). Another stylistic manifestation of Neptune in Sun-ruled Leo: sunglasses, and the suntan, which for the first time became a fashionable symbol of moneyed leisure among people who did not have to toil out of doors for a living. (These days, of course, thanks to the depleted ozone layer, sunbathers are more likely to apply SPF 85 to every inch of exposed skin.) Prohibition of alcohol (another Neptune thing) only served to make "painting the town red" a more daringly appealing mission; speakeasies thrived. Other types of "vice squad" morality were being challenged as well. Car ownership jumped during the '20s, and the backseat of automobiles gave young, unmarried, unchaperoned couples room to experiment. The proliferation of "petting parties" (an apt expression of Neptune in Leo) guaranteed that even young pedestrians could join in on the fun. Puritanical older people fretted over the so-called loose morals of the younger generation, but they were fighting a losing battle. Magazines of that era announced it was "sex o'clock in America." Shameless, nonshockable flappers (so named because they wore their galoshes unbuckled), even if most of them were not as outspoken and articulate as their heroines Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker, rolled down their garters and rouged their knees, which you could see flashes of as they frenetically danced the night away. Freshly minted Lost Generation argot includes such terms still in use today as "getaway car," "racket," "underworld," "sugar daddy," and "hot pants."

But what about the influence of Uranus, the closest of the outer planets? Well, Uranus happened to be in Pisces for most of the 1920s. Uranus is revolutionary by nature, and I believe its flowing trine aspect to the sign Cancer, where Pluto was transiting throughout that decade, further helped women's rights; fittingly, women in the U.S. were finally given the right to vote in 1920. Uranus in Pisces also translated into new technologies (Uranus) such as radio to disseminate such Piscean phenomena as music and the first soap operas (soppy, never-ending stories literally sponsored by soap manufacturers). Silent film (a perfect representation of Pisces, since this water sign rules film and the water element is not verbal) peaked; not so coincidentally, the first "talkie," The Jazz Singer, was released in 1927--the year Uranus entered loud Aries. The square between Uranus and Pluto was not exact until the early 1930s, which signified the Great Depression as well as a "New Deal" in the U.S. and the rise of Fascism in Germany; that is really a whole other blog post. But during the late '20s, this fiery placement of Uranus ensured that youth would still flame...yet like its unofficial poet laureate, Edna St. Vincent Millay, it was burning its collective candle at both ends, and finally burned out altogether (another Aries trait) in the wake of the Crash (a Uranus action) of 1929.

Uranus has an 84-year cycle, spending 7 years transiting each sign of the zodiac, and reentered Pisces in 2003/4. Right now Uranus is at 26 degrees of Pisces; the last time it was in this degree was 1925. Neptune is now in Aquarius, and Pluto is in Capricorn--both, in other words, directly opposite from the signs of the outermost planets during the 1920s. So I can say without entirely joking that the 2000s have been the 1920s turned upside down. Alcohol is now legal, yet so many other prohibitions or severe restrictions are in effect it is easy to forget that they were no big deal in the U.S. back then (e.g., marijuana was legal until 1937) or even very recently (e.g., security measures). Indeed, I was irritated yet unsurprised that I was not allowed to carry my St-Germaine cocktail (an enticing mix of champagne and St-Germaine liquor, made in France from elderflowers, served on the rocks with a twist) I'd purchased back to my picnic blanket--drinking was restricted to the area where cocktails were sold. And of course, everyone had to flash their ID before they were allowed anywhere near the makeshift bar.

With Uranus once again transiting Pisces, nostalgia for the 1920s has gained momentum over the past five years--at least in New York City, the capital of the original decade-long party. Such regular or semi-regular '20ish events as "Shanghai Mermaid" and "Dances of Vice" are popular; BAM has recently been showing silent films with live music, the way it was done when these films were new. Retro cocktails, albeit legal for those of drinking age, are now more fashionable than Cosmos and Appletinis. As today proved, interest in the decade that roared is strong enough to draw hundreds of people--many of whom dressed in vintage apparel for the occasion--to a Jazz Age Lawn Party. I myself had such a swell time hanging with friends and hepcat strangers on a sun-drenched lawn that I didn't want the day ever to end. For many reasons, I was definitely not in the mood to take a 10-minute ferry ride back to the present.

"In the meantime, in between times, ain't we got fun?"

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