‘A Line in the World’ (Pushkin Press) by Dorthe Nors – Book Review (NetGalley)

When I was small my grandma used to tell me ‘we are Danes.’

I was brought up on the opposite side of that wild expanse, the west side of the North Sea in eastern England. A thousand years ago much of the language, even culture in my part of the world was Danish, Viking, and it was called the Danelaw.

And there are still archaic words of old Norse in use today in our rapidly disappearing dialect. So maybe we are, in some ways, still Danes.

Perhaps that’s why, when I began to read this ARC, I immediately felt at home. Although Jutland’s west coast from Skagen to the German border is north and west facing, opposite to our own, the author’s loose, short sentenced yet lucid impressionistic streams of consciousness took me not only across the divide of the North Sea, but also into the past, my own childhood often spent at the windswept seaside and walking wrapped up in barren marshland where the sky towers above you.

In the flat lands of eastern England there is indeed a psychology at play, much like the writer explains; the quietude does not disguise or distract you from the demons inside like a city does. Here you are more with yourself, and it can be difficult, even depressing, particularly in the winter.

She says ‘Our brown calves are wet with cuckoo spit’, fairly typical of her language which is immediate and sensory, creating a timelessness where past and present merge together, much like the schism of land and sea. She says, throughout the book, that we are defined by schism and I think I know what she means. A country is defined by its border; our selves from one another. A home has its boundary, which is both porous and selective.

In this book the elements are like beings, sometimes friends, but always needing to be respected; the waves like mythological Valkyries: the Norse gods, like Odin, remain in the collective memory of Scandinavians – and isn’t Odin rather ‘Christ-like’, hanging from that ash tree, the Yggdrasil, even if he put himself up there? Yes, our ‘civilisation is a snapshot’; we try to understand, perhaps make a mark and then we are gone.

Like my own coastline, Jutland is bedecked with massive wind turbine farms, which to my eye, have become a blot on the seascape as well as the land. Clean energy is to be encouraged, naturally, but these structures which she describes as white trees with circular branches, only have a limited lifespan. Once defunct they will cause a massive landfill problem – and the wind doesn’t always blow either.

But I particularly like the way she talks of the past in the present tense in many places, so fitting for this every changing, yet eternal landscape, which has had so many shipwrecks (the Iron Coast) and natural disasters through storms.

I loved her tour of the churches too with the artist, the maker of sketches for this book. My own part of the world is noted for its churches too, but in a different way. And I was not aware that the Reformation in Denmark was slower to whitewash church frescoes than in England and Holland, all very fascinating.

I like the way she describes paths in the landscape as being like memories, connections in the brain, synapses perhaps, testimony to human interaction with the environment and shaping it organically.

Her descriptions of the Wadden Sea, the island life, the bird life, are all beautiful too. I very much relate to the area here being a haven for wading birds, pretty much like my own part of the world.

But ultimately it is Skagen, the very northern tip of Denmark where North Sea meets Baltic, the spiritual pinnacle of the Danish and Scandinavian experience. The schism of seas, between land and sea, our selves from one another: life and death.

Like many, I have only visited Copenhagen when in Denmark, but this great city is in no way representative of Denmark any more than London is of England.

One day, perhaps sooner than I envisage, I wish to visit Denmark again, Jutland in particular, and take that trip from Skagen to Esbjerg and beyond towards the Frisian islands. I think I owe it to myself. Thank you Dorthe Nors for enlightening me – I have never felt more like a Dane.


Copyright Francis 2022

Frida Kahlo: Is There a Price to Pay for Genius? Astrology Musings

Photo by Olga Kalinina on Pexels.com

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic and celebrated symbolic-realist artists of the 20th century, but her short life was painful and ultimately tragic, yet nevertheless full. Is there such a thing as a trade off between genius and pain?

Such was her fame that even during her lifetime, in 1942, one of her paintings sold for over $3 million at Sotheby’s.

When I first looked at her chart I noted that the three so-called outer planets (which are invisible to the naked eye and therefore not luminaries) are in key sensitive points.

I have long thought that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and their supposed influences are something to be avoided, or overcome, even though they might put the individual in touch which certain deeper, darker and ultimately dangerous forces of our universe. Uranus may bring originality but can disrupt suddenly; Neptune may inspire but confuses and befuddles; and Pluto might provide intensity but undermines darkly.

At the age of 6 Frida contracted polio which left her with one leg shorter than the other. Later, through sports, she built up her body strength with characteristic resolve and went to one of Mexico‘s best schools.

A Life Changing Accident

Then fate intervened again when she was severely injured in a horrific road traffic accident in Mexico City in 1925. It was a life changing experience which she never truly overcame, but such was her intense lust for life and experience, she got through it, despite numerous operations, including a leg amputation later on.

During this early period following the accident, she began to paint and this was the beginning of her career which saw her later exhibiting as far a field as New York and Paris.

Due to the intense pain and the resulting depression she also developed a drinking habit but always lived life to its fullest.

‘The Heroine of Pain’ What Does the Astrology Say?

There is little wonder that in her native Mexico she is referred to as ‘the heroine of pain‘ – ‘la heroina del dolor’. She certainly seems to have had that air of greatness about her which only few achieve during their lifetime – but at what price?

She has Leo rising with Mercury in the 1st house. Here is the lust for life and creativity and to express it.

However, her ruler the Sun is immersed in the ocean of a 12th house Cancer conjunct Neptune, forming the most difficult and trying figure in the chart.

This subconsciously embedded conjunction is opposed by a practical Mars conjunct Uranus in the 6th house of health and efficiency. This activation of the 6th/12th house axis might well have been behind the motivation to seek a career in medicine in her early teens.

A Potential Career in Medicine

She would appear to have been as much interested in mental as well as physical health, especially so as an exalted Jupiter is also in the 12th house quite close to her north node; she might well have become a doctor of psychology or psychiatry if things had been different, yet other medical paths could have suited. But it wasn’t to be. Any aptitude toward practical medicine was firmly rebuked by fate, steering her toward creative art with a symbolic edge.

Whilst Neptune close to the Cancerian Sun might at best be inspirational, its major influence is to subconsciously confound and upset, affecting her psychologically. This may suggest the subconscious symbolism of her art. Sun Cancerians are family orientated but happiness in this area of her life was to prove elusive.

Opposing the Sun/Neptune conjunction, Mars/Uranus only antagonise and disrupt, the martian strength being exalted in Capricorn, yet is physically embattled and irritated by revolutionary Uranus. The exact opposition between the Sun and Mars illustrates the intense attraction to men she had but also the difficulty in maintaining steady relationships, even though she only married one man – twice.

This opposition of conjunctions effectively energises the whole chart, mimicking the explosive drama of her life.

A Ribbon Around a Bomb?

Psychologically Frida was deep, intensely emotional but had an exacting attitude too. Her Venus, ruler of the MC and 10th house of career, is closely conjuct the undermining influence of Pluto in the 11th house, challenged by Saturn from the 8th. This also reflects her intense relationships and friendships, her difficulty with them, as well as her interest in feminine identity. Venus Pluto and a Taurean MC suggest the intense realism and symbolism of her art.

Her Moon exalted in Taurus in the 10th house is also void of course in the last degree of the Bull. Whilst this might add a certain steadiness to her emotional responses, she might also have felt as if she was always fighting against time. Void of course Moons are difficult to assess in natal charts, but this is my take.

She was once described as being a ribbon around a bomb. Whether that is accurate or not, she was certainly one of the most naturally gifted, intensively creative female artists of any period. Iconic indeed.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com
What the cards reveal: Centre card, consciously; left card: subconsciously; right card: manifesting.


Copyright Francis 2022

An Account of Fascinating Friendships with Hesse and Jung

Miguel Serrano, a Chilean diplomat and writer was certainly a man with some controversial opinions.

However, I didn’t let that stop me from reading this rather charming yet deep little book documenting his friendship with two 20th century European notables, namely the writer, poet and painter Herman Hesse and psychologist Carl Jung, who both lived in Switzerland.

Serrano didn’t get to know them well until they were in their final years. He includes correspondence with both of them. Herman Hesse was a highly influential author of books like ‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘Siddartha’. His main concern was for the individual to find himself by breaking established rules. Serrano is clearly enchanted by Hesse’s sensitivity.

But it is perhaps Serrano’s late relationship with Carl Jung which is the most significant of the two. Serrano is completely in awe of Jung’s towering intellect and spirituality, and with good reason. Jung is perhaps the nearest anyone has come to achieving a true scientific spirituality by utilising hitherto controversial methods (to some), such as astrology, to gain insight into an individual’s psyche. Bearing this in mind, the lightning bolt which struck Jung’s favourite tree on the day he died seems to gain in significance.

In just over a hundred pages, the author has managed to convey the essence of these two important minds, and he seems to have been blessed with genuine affability to allow him to form deep, significant friendships. Our overall understanding of these two men is all the better for it. I would certainly recommend this book.

Copyright Francis 2021

Soul: The brightness must be lit up, the fire must be kindled. (Reblog)

Black Books Jung: What’s going on in this darkness? “Light must be created. You must create it out of raw matter that you’ve received. It must still …

Soul: The brightness must be lit up, the fire must be kindled.

Carl Jung on Synchronicity — Writers Ink—Writing and Stuff (Reblog)

The following was posted by Psyche’s Call with Donna May on Facebook. I’ve used the entire quote and without edit. Any copyedit errors belong to the origin, not to me. (Thank you ever so much.) Obviously adding to our other posts on the same subject.     [Sadly “Synchronicity” is all too often tossed about […]

Carl Jung on Synchronicity — Writers Ink—Writing and Stuff