Saturday, 6 August 2016

Letter From The 12th House

(Note on the title - In Astrology the 12th House is a portal of observation onto and into the inner workings of the mysteries of life. Rather like the vantage point backstage in a theatrical production where the work done is not seen by the audience. The 12 House is the area where hidden enemies lurk and any planet located there, is weakened in its force and activity because it can’t find full expression out on the main stage. )

Fern at Hera's Temple
This is a critique of a tour on which I was recently a participant. It was a 12 day tour of the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece and was entitled An Adventure into the Roots of Astrology, Mythology and our Collective Evolution.

It was headed by an American Astrologer named Kaypacha and a Canadian self-styled mythologist called Dionysus otherwise known as Rene Cyr who lives in Greece. 
There were about 35 participants mostly women - a real United Nations of a group. The group fell into loosely 3 sub-groups – the rowdy North Americans, the more restrained European bloc and the English-speaking contingent (from Ireland, England, India, Australia and Aotearoa).

It may appear to some readers who were on the tour, that I am the churlish, bad fairy at the party. For the tour obviously fulfilled the (mostly) American contingent who wax lyrical on the groups’ Facebook page about the ‘awakening’ Kaypacha stimulates, and the ‘open hearts’ they are still experiencing. However, only just over a third of the FB’s page 35 members are contributing to the page. There is a silent majority that I may or may not speak for. But speak I must.

Of the other 2 sub-groups within the tour, there were those among the Europeans and the English Speakers who were already committed Kaypacha fans. And then there were the rest of us who were not familiar with Kaypacha’s particular brand of Astrology. We had come along wooed by Dio’s 38 page itinerary promises and the idea of Mythology and Astrology being practised on site in

” the isles of Greece, the isles of Greece
Where burning Sappho loved and sung….”

I’m a practicing and teaching Kiwi Astrologer of nearly 4 decades and have studied mythology all my life. I found the tour to be a complete fiasco - deeply disappointing on the personal, political and people levels. It was also a financial rip off.
I hold both men, the astrologer/guru and the guide/mythologist, equally responsible for the failings of the tour.

The biggest disappointment was the inability of both leaders to bring the group into a cohesive whole. They led an exciting group of amazing women who held individually and collectively so many resources and so much wisdom.

Poseidon's Temple

On our first evening together, we took our initial bus ride to Poseidon’s temple where we were to witness the Full Moon rising over Cape Sounio. This was the first occasion we were all gathered together. 

Kaypacha got on the bus and went round introducing himself and hugging each person. This ritual was a bonding of himself to each individual, but as we were seated in a big bus, in no way a group welcome. 

There was no attempt to bring unity to this group of strangers then or any time after that. We milled about at the temple but nothing much happened. There was no Opening Circle, no Full Moon Ritual, or even mixing together. 

We did get one time when all were gathered together, after 2 or 3 days of distress due to mismanagement of time, long gruelling hours spent on the bus, mistakes made in booking rooms at the hotel etc ad nauseum.
However this circle was taken as an occasion for both the leaders to have a go at the group for complaining too much (about the leaderships’ own mismanagement!)  We were also thoroughly told off for being “illiterate’ because some of us had not read Dio’s 38 page long itinerary.
This was not a joyful occasion and certainly not a great “bonding” session.

We were never properly introduced, named each other to each other, or shared together as a whole group all the reasons we were here, or the backgrounds we came from.

The closing circle in Athens was the next time the group came together and 3 of us (including myself) were locked out by the guide who informed the people asking our whereabouts that we “hadn’t wanted to be there” – an outright lie. It seemed an apt punishment for the stroppy members of the group who continued to challenge the mistreatment of participants and challenge the way things were done.

It takes some time for strangers who come from different cultures to start conversations and find out a little about the other. By the end of the tour we were really getting to know certain individuals, which was great. However overall, our 10 days together seemed an extraordinary squandering of a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for us all to really open up to each other and create potential friendships and fellowship within the collective.

Kaypacha is charismatic and has the gift of the gab with a lovely voice to go with it. He has an intuitive ability when reading features of an astrological chart. Or rather, for summing up a personal insight that strikes home for the listener, by extrapolating certain aspects in their horoscope.  This encapsulation however, did not always ring true. In one case he caused distress and ongoing dismay to the recipient whilst he played to his audience of laughing fans

His type of astrology is what I would call “New Age” – yes he’s a California Dreamin’ kind of guy, good looking in that American way.

Posing at the Pool
 His astrology is based on Jeff Green’s Evolutionary Astrology that arose in the 1980s and ‘90s. I don’t think he has done much study in any other type of astrology – and why would he, when it seems to hit the spot for so many lost, searching souls.
Pluto, the North Nodes of the Moon and the minor Asteroid Lilith are (over)-emphasized and past lives are treated like fact.

He has perfected a professional package that is serving him very well indeed and affording him a great lifestyle. He has a global presence through his website and his weekly Pele Reports. He seems to have women all over the world who are willing to set up workshops for him in many, many international destinations. He breezes in with all administration work done for him, presents with finesse and style, and breezes out with a lovely fee in his hot hand. Nice work if you can get it…

This particular tour was a different kind of deal. The guide Dio/Rene had done all the preparation alone regarding the planning of the itinerary, the administration of booking hotels and managing of the money. However, this tour differed from a workshop. Instead of a capable administrator and instead of staying in one place for a weekend or a few days, we were a large group moving round the countryside, with a captain who was incapable of time-management.

Kaypacha had obviously done no homework previously, no checking of Dio’s planning. When he arrived, he came with his three daughters in tow and was obviously all set for a (working) family holiday.
His package just didn’t fly in this situation and his attempts to make it work were often thwarted by Dio’s gross mismanagement and financial disarray.

However when one (moi!) complained, he would shift the blame to Dio. Dio in turn, would blame Kaypacha when one talked to him.
When in doubt, they would both blame the group. Which worked a treat because women are so very good are taking the blame on themselves.

At a guess, about 2/3 of the folk were there for Kaypacha. The theme of the tour - Astrology and Mythology – seemed to be a side show for them. I have never been within coo-ee of a guru before and was astonished by the servile and fawning nature of the devotees’ enchantment. Even those who were critical of how the tour was unfolding were unwilling to criticise Kaypacha.
First rule of thumb for a novice like me - a guru can do no wrong.
A cult is defined as a sect devoted to a particular system of beliefs or religious worship; a devoted attachment to a person, idea or activity.

I found myself smack bang in the middle of a cult on the Peloponnese peninsula. 

Athena - Pallas Athene in Astrology

The written undertaking that Dio had earlier given us about how the astrology/mythology of each god/ess would be explained in our personal charts as well as on site, never really happened. 

What Kaypacha discussed in his set presentations (often on the bus) was pretty basic beginners’ astrology (Californian style) and he was certainly not prepared to talk to anyone about their personal charts.

In fact he appeared to have done no preparation on anyone’s horoscope and no research about any of the actual god/essess and their mythology working in anyone’s individual makeup.

He might give a talk on say Pluto and its generic meaning and then while all the beginners (probably about 2/3rds of the group) raced round afterwards flapping their charts and asking what does it mean in MY chart? – he seemed blithely absolved of any responsibility to notice or respond. 
This left the astrologers in the group to get on with the work of teaching the beginners.

As I had come to Greece for a holiday from work, I was not particularly inclined to do this except for my close friends and sub-group.

In astrological terms I think the tour really highlighted the oppositional polarity between Leo and Aquarius.
Kaypacha has a huge stellium (group of planets) in Leo in his astrological makeup.
Leo needs each individual to pledge loyalty to him and his shining can only be done when he feels personally appreciated and loved by his adoring subjects.

A collective of individuals however, to operate as a healthy happy group needs to feel connected and loyal to each member. Aquarius is about team work. The challenge for Aquarius is to feed the need to be part of a group without losing one’s unique sense of self within that group.
That balance was alas never achieved by Mr Leo and his band of merry devotees who seemed oblivious to the silent disaffected on the edges.

Woman off to War

Beautiful Greece with its blue, blue sea was the backdrop to this scenario with its romantic, archaic temples and oracle sites. 
Every morning we woke to beautiful ruined Greece – and thus the criticisms and toxic energy that happened every single day of the trip due to constant mismanagement, were always mitigated by that amazing place and its people.

Zeus - or Disneyland?!

As an aside; Americans as a group are seemingly unaware of the impact they make as they superimpose their cultural mores upon other cultures and situations. 
At times, this group amazed and appalled me in their treatment of Greece and the remains of past civilisation, we were privileged to visit.

From my Downunder viewpoint, it was if all places are just another version of Disneyland. Early on Kaypacha described a couple of sites as “piles of rubble”.

I find this as disrespectful/offensive as someone who can’t cover up their legs or bosom in another religion’s temple. And I’m an irreligious person.

And then there was Dioynsus, our other leader. 
Here was another man who talks a lot without listening. He was a master of dates and facts and his enthusiasm for his adopted homeland was impressive. Nevertheless, an encyclopaedic knowledge however prodigious, does not make for depth of scholarship. 

A walking Wikipaedia is one thing but the underlying philosophy is another.
His lack of knowledge of the last 30 years of Women’s Studies in Mythology coupled with his telling of the stories from an unbridled masculine viewpoint was frustrating. Add this woeful lack of Goddess mythology (working within a predominantly female group) to his constantly calling us “girls” despite having been asked to desist….

Dioynsus/Rene Cyr

He also sported with pride an ignorance of astrology which worked to his detriment when telling the stories of ancient Greece to this particular group. He repeated his stories interminably, a trait that became fairly insufferable as the disarray of gross mis-management was revealed.

Dio would have been a good guide if that was his only role, as he has mastery over a breadth of information. However his performance as a tour manager and decent leader was abysmal.

He had hoodwinked so many of us by his long emails and written promises of what we would be doing in Greece. So sad only about a third of each day’s itinerary was covered. The covenant he made with us was breeched time and time again.

I can’t bore you with a blow-by blow account of the difficulties we encountered, under his governance, however here are a few examples of what we were fielding.

The first evening when we visited Poseidon’s Temple (where the Full Moon circle did not occur), was marred on arrival, by Dio telling us to our consternation we each had to pay to get into the site (12Euros!) and would be paying for each site we visited hereon in.

On any tour the responsibility for payment is normally taken by the Tour organiser and the fees included in the overall tour fee. On this tour, that cost 200Euro per day, at each temple site or Museum we visited, we each had to line up in the long queues and pay for ourselves!

Alas when protesting about this exploitative and time-wasting practice, Dio assured us he had sent each one of us beforehand an itinerary outlining this fact.
Most of us have never yet seen this mythical itinerary.

Another day early on the tour, after long hours on the bus the day before, and already missing out on many of the promised activities and sites - we were herded into the “bloody bus” (as it not affectionately came to be known), early after breakfast. 
The group were still strangers to each other as we set off on an enormously long trip to an unknown destination. After visiting a site we were then herded back on the bus in the heat of the day and travelled for many hours. We finally – due to protest – stopped at 6pm for “lunch”.

We were parked on a layby beside a busy motorway. The view was a gas station. The stopover had no toilets, but many hungry dogs on a dusty grassy knoll covered with dog poohs. Dio’s Greek wife and mother-in-law cooked up leftovers from last night’s dinner – which were very nice, but nonetheless leftovers – and we departed once more in the bus. 

Olympian cafe
The temperature was in the ’30 degree zone most of the time we were travelling. Generally we would get to a site (mostly unshaded) in the heat of the afternoon – 2pm to 5pm was Dio’s favourite time to visit an archaic site.

One (classic!) time when I fruitlessly suggested we visit Olympia in the morning time rather than hitting it mid afternoon – Dio told me there were no vegetarian options in the village of Olympia for the vegetarian’s lunch. 
At the hotel of his choice the vegetarian option that day was canned peas. Olympia naturally was full of gorgeous cafes and eating places all with beautiful Greek (vegetarian) food.

Speaking of food…. during, the tour we received passable, but sometimes inedible food in places where Dio had obviously made a deal with the owners. 
One particularly memorable meal was in Athens. Dio had recommended the lamb fricassee which Kaypacha and others dutifully ordered although they had to make do with the chicken fricassee. Kaypacha’s description of this mess did it justice. “Hercules’ Snot!”  My fish was dry and old and not eaten.

Hercules' Snot!
One option which I and many others had signed up and paid for was a 4 meal special for 100 Euros.

We didn’t receive two of these meals. Our last night on a terrace overlooking the Acropolis at the Maiandros restaurant we were fed the buffet . The rooftop was tiny and our tables so jammed together it was pretty impossible to even move as we ate. The food was mediocre.

The only really lovely meals we enjoyed were in places we found and paid for ourselves.

Both male leaders seemed to have an adverse allergic reaction to anyone wanting to shop. 
Presents for the family aside, shopping for me is an anthropological expedition. I love to meet the shopkeepers, who are of the locality and see what is on offer and how it is presented. Souvenirs are not necessarily what it’s all about. 

Being called into a bus after a 10 minute toilet break, having been travelling for hours is a hardship.
Being called away from a picturesque mountainous village is a torment. 
Being summonsed by a man blowing his bloody horn is hell.

Man Blowing His Horn
No more tours for me! 
No more guru/astrologers blowing their horn for me.
No more trusting fine words and paying cash up front for me. (still waiting for a receipt hahah)

The good news is I have gained an amazing set of friends from the world who feel like friends for life. 
Beautiful friends who share a passion for astrology and other related symbolic systems. 
Beautiful friends who are loving, supportive and healers all.

And then there’s Greece and the Greeks – what can I say!  Extraordinary place, where the water runs more clear and pure than you ever see in Aotearoa. 
Dwelling of Goddesses and Gods who have fed my consciousness since I was old enough to read. 
Motherland of literature and philosophy that nurture my soul and my mind. 
Place of the ancestors who sustain my professional and vocational life. 
Divine homeland of Oracles that are as old as time itself.

You get by with a little help from your Friends

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