Alchemy Summer School

"Terra non est centra mundi"

The best quote I've heard all month came from Paul Holdengraber, the director of public programs at the New York Library who said that he approached all his subjects with "a euphoria of ignorance", which is exactly how I feel about my course.  Like him, I'm producing Science and Alchemy School because I'm fascinated by the topic, and I'm excited to have some really great speakers enlighten us as we learn how two profound systems of inner growth-- astrology and the Enneagram-- are modeled in our planetary system, and how, in turn, we are, in our biological make-up, products our planetary system.  We belong to each other.  Not only is the universe's unfolding a fascinating story, but it's the cradle for our own psychological unfolding, and as both narratives come together in the 21st century, enabled by technology and research, there is also profound meaning.  Science and mysticism are revealing themselves to be intertwined in fascinating ways in our modern-day universe, so these are exciting times.

Another quote I heard this week was from Russ Hudson's talk on the historical context of the Enneagram.  "It takes time for ideas to cook."  That's an understatement.  In about 150 AD, a Alexandrian astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician named Ptolemy wrote Almagest, which became the standard textbook on astronomy for generations of students to come.  Indeed, for the next 1200 years, it held its place as the authority on the planets and stars, how they moved around the earth, which was the centre of the universe. 

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.   Image from Wikipedia.

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.  Image from Wikipedia.

It took a man named Nicolaus Copernicus in the mid-sixteenth century to get the gumption- and the science together- to challenge Ptolemy's ideas, and his resulting book was ignored by the Church.  Copernicus was a Polish cleric who studied religious law, medicine and astrology, (since it shed light on the nature of his patients' illnesses), and as he did so, found that Ptolemy's calculation tables were a little cumbersome.  Over the course of his adult life, he developped a heliocentric model of the universe, and his ideas didn't become accepted until the 19th century. 

Talk about taking a while for ideas to cook.  Yesterday, Joanne Wilson profiled a city in South Korea that decided to go without cars in one particular neighborhood for one month.  It took TWO YEARS to convince everyone to get on board.  People just didn't think it could be done. 

I love new ideas.  I soak them up, although sure I get threatened by my fair share of them.  But I like to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible so I'm never taken by surprise. 

Science and Mysticism: We Need An Interdisciplinary Approach to Life

It turns out that Neil deGrasse Tyson has some pretty strong views on astrology.

Last week I was watching an interview that he did at SXSW last year, and something he said jumped out at me.  The interviewer was Christie Nicholson, a contributing editor of Scientific American Magazine.  She was reading him some stats from the National Science Foundation's 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators (a national survey that's been done every year for over 30 years) to get a reaction from him about what he thought of the state of scientific literacy in the US. 

Warmly regarded as "the peoples' astrophysicist", Dr. DeGrasse Tyson is a big advocate for scientific education for children so they don't fall prey to pseudoscience, and he and American creationists often get at each other's throats over how the universe came to be.  So because creationism contradicts science, I'm not defending the former, but Christianity does tend to get lumped in with astrology and other mystic traditions when his discussions turn to pseudoscience.

Anyway, one of the stats Nicholson used to build a case that America was still highly illiterate in science was that more than 40% of Americans see astrology as highly scientific.  Which is a crazy stat when you think about it.  Astrology is so not mainstream, or acceptable to bring up in conversation in almost any public context besides dates, yet more than 40% of Americans think it's "highly scientific"  I don't know what the definition of "highly scientific" is, as opposed to just normally scientific, but I will say that anyone who has ever had their birth chart read  is blown away with the accuracy of the readings, and after having mine read, and I've spent hours and hours dissecting mine lately, I can't say enough about the value of having it read. 

In my opinion-- and the Greek philosophers agree with me here, so I think I'm in good company-- if you don't know yourself, your knowledge that you've accumulated is dust in the wind.  "Know Yourself" was incribed in one of the pillars at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, which forms the basis of the Western tradition itself.  Science came later with Aristotle's drive for objectivity and logic, but Aristotle was definitely informed in his studies by the Delphic Oracle: "Knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom", he said.  I don't want to be put in a position of having to defend astrology, as it's the Enneagram that's my first love, but I mean, the West does have a fascinating mystic tradition that deeply informs us about our nature as human beings, as well as a scientific tradition that is just as honorable, but gets all the attention.  Both, in my opinion, need to share the spotlight. 

Until there's a marriage between science and mysticism, the West will continue to struggle with terrorism, global warming, racism, and disease.  We not only need more informed people, we need wiser people who are self-aware and emotionally intelligent to solve these problems. 

DeGrasse Tyson's rejection of astrology in his discussion at SXSW reminds me that he's an Enneagram Type 8, one of the dominant traits of this type being skepticism and a categorical dismissal of anything that appears weak of "fluffy", and it just shows what you can miss out on when you're identified with the personality.  In essence, he's proving his own point that when you don't know the facts, you're subject to being led astray.  Astrology, the Enneagram, whatever: the whole Western mystic tradition helps you come home to yourself.  Knowing astrophysics without knowing yourself is cool for a while until life comes crashing down on your personal life or whatever kind of mid-life crisis elicits your soul-searching.  (By the way, I love DeGrasse-Tyson and have a TON of respect for what he does.  I just wish we saw eye-to-eye on this subject, and I don't wish him any crises- I just hope he has ears to hear when life does throw him a curve ball.)

I'm proud that my course offers both scientific lenses on the self (astronomy and neurobiology) and mystic lenses on the self: Astrology, the Enneagram.  Both are crucial for a integrated view on the world.  It is going to blow some minds, people.  I'm very excited.

Licencing Illustrations

The process and expense of getting professional illustrations for your workbook is almost not worth it, but I'm finding the process of putting this class together such a rush, and such a heart-opening, creative experience that I want people to feel what I'm feeling in colors, textures, and brushstrokes.  I don't know if that's being fiscally irresponsible or being a good producer, but I have to say I'm tempted.

For Foundational Knowledge, for Growth, Wonder

I updated my "About page" the other night.  I wanted to get out from my brain onto "paper" why I was starting this business and why I was offering a class called Alchemy Summer School.  It's not anything poetic just yet, but hopefully will become that way with edits. 

Alchemy Summer School- Getting ready for launch

As I sit waiting at the car wash, I thought I might as well blog from my iphone.  I've been working on my Alchemy Summer School page, so take a look over there and tell me how it looks. It's not finished, but if you like the general direction I'm going with it -- or even if you don't-- please tell me. There's a one minute video that will knock your socks off --that I'm looking for feedback on-- but again, it's still in beta mode.

Yesterday I received word that the wonderfully gifted astrologer Marina Ormes has accepted my invitation to teach with us this summer, so -- as she was the last one-- I'm very happy that I can proceed with full speed now.  I'm going to start advertising the Alchemy class on Monday next week, and I'll be "coming out of the closet" as a blogger- so leave please some comments in the comment spaces below any of my posts you're in flaming agreement or disagreement with and I'll respond.

Good feedback, constructive  feedback. I want it all. I know some of you read the blog every day so I'd appreciate if you let me milk you for all you're worth at this point in the game.  I know I have some pretty sharp readers.  Some of you stop by every so often, and I hope you feel free to share your wisdom as well.

As popular venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson says, it's nice to have supporters in your blogging community-- very nice-- but the contrarian ones are the ones who keep you on your toes and keep you honest, hard-working, and humble, and nothing would honor or delight me more than to have a handful of contrarians.  (I also accept cheerleaders, btw).  Open up a disqus profile and I hope to see many of you regulars on the other side when this is "live".

As I sign off today, I feel very lucky.  I may not know exactly what I'm doing (I actually don't), but I feel like this vision would happen with or without me, and I'm just along for the ride.  When I sit back and think about where society is going spiritually, environmentally, technologically, and in other ways over the next twenty to fifty years, I get excited to think that I might be part of that discussion; I want people to know themselves, and find out how interesting they are once they get past the conscious layer of their inner world, and my heart beats to that rhythm.  I'm a servant to my calling, though- you can't wrestle with it, argue with it or force it- you roll with it.  As Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says, when someone offers you a seat on a rocketship, you shut your mouth and get in.