Rock Review: Yes, ‘Close to the Edge’ – Close to being perfect.

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The Classic 1972 Progressive Rock Album.

Probably my favourite all time prog rock album, ‘Close to the Edge’ (Elektra/Rhino CD) by Yes.

I was quite young when this came out in 1972 and didn’t actually hear it until later in the following year, when my elder brother brought it home. I think I had heard ‘Fragile’ by then too, the band’s 1971 release, which kicked off with ‘Roundabout’, one of Yes’ more ‘accessible’ numbers for a young boy. Nevertheless, I remember being pretty impressed by the whole album.

Spiritual sound

However, when my brother put ‘Close to the Edge’ on our family hi-fi, at first I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The slow start of planetary, naturalistic sound, the incredible weaving together of all the different movements of side one, took some time for me to appreciate, but now it’s like one epic poem, a vast spiritual movement of sound that is hard to describe, in words. It just has to be experienced, let it take you somewhere.

I still particularly like the ‘I Get Up I Get Down’ section, so beautiful, bringing together all the singing talents of the band, not just Jon Anderson, but also Steve Howe and Chris Squire.

Five virtuosos

Which leads me to a major point. Has there ever been a better example of five incredible talents working together, at the top of their game, producing such a masterpiece? I would doubt it.

Jon Anderson’s unique voice and inspirational lyricism; Bill Bruford’s peerless percussion; Steve Howe’s sheer virtuosity on six and twelve strings; Chris Squire’s uniquely lyrical bass and underrated singing; Rick Wakeman’s pure genius and dexterous flair.

It would prove to be a small window, sadly. Very soon, Bill Bruford would be on his way, followed soon after by Rick Wakeman. But what a beautiful, ornately made window it was. It was of its time.

Woven together

Side Two for me is equally impressive. I can still quite easily listen to ‘And You And I’ on repeat. I love the start, with Steve Howe hitting the harmonics on his twelve string, the way Rick’s synth plays over the top is so joyful, full of life. And like all Yes tracks, it’s difficult to envisage how they all put this together, so differing are the elements, but they come to together beautifully, woven by lyrics which are both hard to fathom, yet totally fitting – a Yes trademark.

And the final track, ‘Siberian Khatru’. Heaven knows what it’s about but if I had just one track to take to my desert island, I think it would be this.

Atmospheric

Great, catchy guitar riffs to start off and great rock playing by the whole band, but soon the wonderful group singing harmonies come in to play, adding a great atmospheric and naturalistic feel.

Then all the virtuosity of the band kicks in – indescribable. Especially, towards the end when they sing pairs of mysterious words with lots of reverb, which may, or may not, be related… but it works, it means something, though I don’t know what it is. And did I mention Steve Howe’s jazzy guitar on the outro?

Just how it should be, long reign the mystery.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

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Pablo Picasso, Creative Tour de Force – Astrology Musings

abstract painting

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It’s easily overlooked that Picasso was not merely a painter.

You can include sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, writer, poet and playwright to his considerable repertoire.

Even what he is best known for, Cubism, is like an attempt to solidify a two dimensional form.

With a Leo ascendant, there is a powerfully creative approach to life.

His ruler, the Sun, in Scorpio in house 4, anchors him deeply in the fathoms of psychology and in the ancestry, symbols and mythology of his and the collective genetic past.

Appreciation of beauty

So much has of course, rightly, been made of this. But he also has Venus in Libra in house 3.

Here is an appreciation of beauty (and women) and a need to express it verbally and through written form: writing and poetry.

This Venus is in a loose sextile to a house 5 Moon in Sagittarius, giving him wider creative expression for this trait.

Then there’s Mars, his sun ruler, in Cancer in house 12. Here is the emotive energy which can erupt from the subconscious through creativity, aided by the sextile to inspirational Neptune in Taurus in house 10.

Constructive transformation

But it’s his Taurus house 10 which is most interesting.

Here we have Saturn and Neptune in a loose conjunction, with Jupiter and Pluto doing the same later in the sign, opposed to Mercury in house 4.

Here is the purpose of strong physicality, the constructive approach, the need to transcend it, expand it and ultimately transform it into something else, the latter examined and inspected deeply, with great intensity.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Birth of the USA: Astrology Musings

close up photo of people holding usa flaglets

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July 4 is rapidly approaching and as mundane astrology is one of my most favourite fields within the discipline, I thought it about time to take a look at the ‘birth chart’ of the most powerful country on the planet – The United States of America.

Now in any birth chart the exact time is critical and the timing of this event is disputed. Independence was formally declared on July 2 1776.

So which chart?

What did occur two days later on July 4 was that Congress finally approved the declaration’s wording, possibly around 5:10 PM in Philadelphia. This is the information often used to calculate the USA chart. However, it would appear that the actual signing took place on August 2 1776. So what do we use?

I’m going for the one that I’ve seen most commonly used and am most comfortable with, July 4 5:20 PM in Philadelphia.

On this chart, the mutable fire sign Sagittarius is rising.

Go West

I think this is quite fitting, Sagittarius likes to push boundaries, always moving on and exploring.

It also suits many of the national myths, the Louisiana purchase, the pushing westward, the continual expansion of states, plus America’s strong interest in the world – and beyond. It also suits the nation as a whole, being a ‘nation of immigrants’ so to speak, with a vast mix of cultures and peoples. Very Sagittarian.

Family Values

Nevertheless, the ruler of the chart, Jupiter, is in Cancer in a very full 8th house. Jupiter is exalted in Cancer and is also conjunct Venus, bringing images of happy, emotive and serious patriotism, and a love of home and family – and Mom’s Apple Pie.

This could explain the enduring sense of pride most American’s have in their homeland, despite more modern trends.

Investment of Sentiment

The full 8th house also includes the Sun and Mercury in Cancer. This indicates just how deep these patriotic sensibilities go, that much time has been invested in this over two and a half centuries. American identity is very much wrapped up in this.

Interestingly too, the strong 8th house emphasis in a wider sense is indicative of America’s strong involvement in international finance and multi-national corporations.

Jupiter also rules the 4th house of this chart, showing that in areas like the rural and agricultural communities, there will always likely be a strong investment in the patriotic cause and the promotion of home and family values.

With all the Cancerian influence in this chart, a look at the Moon is essential. It’s in Aquarius in the 3rd house, which shows the ‘humanitarian’ ideals brought to bear in education, in local communities and the systematic promotion of the family and home.

The Patriot against Hard Business

However, there is a challenging square aspect between the Sun and Saturn in the 11th house. The overall course of the nation, this strong sense of patriotism, often clashes with more hard headed, conservative or otherwise, trends in the elected assemblies and legislature.

Neptune in the 10th house reveals the strong idealism of national aspirations, though it is in difficult aspect to Mars in Gemini in the 7th house. In diplomatic matters there often a tendency to high verbosity, which may not smooth the course of negotiations to say the least, and this would tend to clash with the higher ideals governmental institutions effuse. The latter also symbolises the kind of conversation going on at the time of the agreement of the Declaration text.

Intriguing future

Looking to the near future, transiting Pluto will soon complete its 248 year cycle in the 2nd house in Capricorn. In other words, it will be reaching the point it was when the Declaration was being created. Maybe it could symbolise the slow, albeit painful, rebirth of the nation?

It is quite clear that the next few years will be fundamentally difficult in governmental, financial and security issues and will mark a major turning point for the nation, with many changes, much intrigue and political skullduggery. 

Even before then, sometime around January 2020, when Saturn and Pluto conjoin in Capricorn, it’s also likely to culminate in some major event or decision affecting these areas.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

This is Us

A most important link to my ‘partner in crime’: here Milly Reynolds and here Milly’s Website who produces crime fiction and other genres.

affection blur boy close up

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Poem: ‘Dark’

Dark

Rook on the roadside straight ahead
you step aside casually
only just avoid my wheels.
Is that why I smile at the mirror
see you promptly step back
to continue to pick and prod
and pull at roadkill entrails
some straitjacket driver provides?
Like the crow, the raven, the jackdaw—
few are as bright as you, so dark
in colour and reputation

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Astrology Musings: Jupiter, time for re-appraisal?

cheerful close up coffee cup

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As we are rapidly approaching the Summer Solstice and the Sun’s entry into Cancer, I wanted to contemplate Jupiter and his traditional exaltation in the Cardinal Water sign.

For some time, I have thought that not enough is made of Jupiter, astrologically speaking. Here he is, the so-called Greater Benefic, but astrologers seem to spend so much time (myself included) hand wringing about Saturn, the ‘outer planets’, the minor planets, asteroids and comets, anything it seems except poor old neglected Jupiter.

Psychological angst

It’s as if anything that is potentially ‘good’ can’t be worth examining closely, nor would it make a ‘good’ subject for a book or an article.

The emergence of so-called psychological (and Sun sign) astrology is probably the reason for this, over the last 70 years or so.

Have we become so obsessed with pain and misfortune as life’s necessary harbingers of psychological growth, that we forget to enjoy ourselves? What ever happened to accentuating the positive?

Time for a Reappraisal

So what is Jupiter? The largest planet, we are told. He spends around a year in each sign, part of his 12 year cycle around the zodiac. He is, traditionally, associated with opportunity, expansion, good fortune, optimism, joviality, but also an overblown wastefulness and ‘devil-may-care’ attitude in difficult aspect.

When I think of Jupiter, I can hear the composer Gustav Holst’s wonderful take on the big planet, the happy, strident, jovial musical themes, the touch of patriotism, and the ocean of opportunity and expansion – all linking to Sagittarius, Pisces, and his exaltation in Cancer (patriotism).

The Greater Benefic

So why is Jupiter exalted in Cancer? Well, it was considered that his benefic qualities were best shown through caring, protective and nurturing ways. Not a bad thing.

However, as the Greater Benefic, surely he is potentially good in any sign? What about Jupiter in Aquarius, for example. If Aquarius stands for humanitarian ideals, with which it is often associated, then a well aspected Jupiter in Aquarius should be mighty fine, you would think. That sounds pretty exalted too and doubtless there are examples of prominent humanitarians who have had such a Jupiter position.

Of course, if Jupiter is challenged through aspect, one might expect to see some rather less positive tendencies.

Out of control

I once knew someone who had Jupiter rising in Gemini in difficult aspect to Mars. Though very generous and fun to be with, when he wasn’t talking or boasting or gambling, he was drinking. His life was indeed a mess, his birth chart had few ‘grounding’ indications, like, yes, a prominent Saturn perhaps or several planets in earth, for example.

Right now Jupiter’s in his own sign of The Archer (retrograde), so he ought to be overall benefiting long distance travel, philosophy, growth in general, depending on where he might be transiting in individual charts, though Jupiter in Sagittarius really ought to create an overall sense of optimism. Are we feeling it?

The Good News

However, with Saturn and Pluto conspiring together in Capricorn and Uranus threatening to turn a few things over in Taurus, it’s very easy to forget the good things.

I have often thought over many years that we do not make enough of Jupiter. Perhaps we should have ‘good news’ astrology, with a concentration on Jupiter and Venus? Only joking.

And there’s one word that isn’t used enough in regard to Jupiter: Opportunity.

See Blue Sky

When Jupiter does not bring good fortune to us when we might be expecting it, perhaps we are missing the boat. Jupiter can represent blue sky thinking – but you have to do more than think, you have to act and get out there into it. Go for it.

Opportunity is what it is, but you must act upon it and not wait passively.

So here’s to Jupiter, the old king of the gods, our jovial friend. Cheers and good health and good fortune to us all.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Poem: ‘England’s Glory’

man person men old

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He taps the roll up on his weathered
seat, strikes the match
towards him as an old man should, a box
of ‘England’s Glory’ and tobacco bag
thrown at me, as if they weren’t
all his worldly goods.

“No thanks, I don’t.”

He shrugs as if it’s my loss,
cups the yellow light with
the nonchalance of a friend, his hands
raw and dirty. He draws, a near
toothless mouth collapsing
like worn bellows;
he exhales, deftly aiming a spit
of spare flake to his right, while knotty
fingers wipe wet lips— the sound
of sandpaper on wood. And so
the coughing starts. There’s little else
to fill the new day.

* ‘England’s Glory’ is a brand of match

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019