Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Astrology of Onward & the Onward Poet-Salutation

For the 2021 Graduating Class of Sandberg Art Institute

by CAConrad

Thank you for asking me to talk about astrology, and I start by saying that whether it is part of my worldview is not an interesting subject. What is more exciting is seeing how the zodiac frames our lives inside its systems of interpretation. As artists, we often aim our attention to critique culture by studying its mechanisms of control and behavior. Tarot cards are reimagined and reclarified with new decks printed all the time, and we can likewise challenge some of the aspects of astrology for an upgrade.

Capricorn is my Sun Sign, and I relate to many of the things said of us, that we work hard, push ourselves to hone our skills, and consistently improve our practice and, ultimately, our craft. Our symbol is the goat; one of the stars in the constellation, Capricornus, is dedicated to the goat nymph Amalthea who nurtured and suckled the infant Zeus until he rose to power to rule over Mount Olympus. Capricorn is a philosophy of "onward," meaning to move continuously forward, never stopping, never allowing others to come between us and our goals, and this is incredibly helpful for artists. 

Years ago, Black Mountain College poet Jonathan Williams showed me a letter from the poet Robert Creeley, who signed the bottom of the letter, Onward. I remarked to Jonathan about liking this choice of salutation, and he told me that he and Creeley had a conversation about it once. He was looking for the best way of saying what we must do, which is to be on a continuous path forward. It was beautiful, the more I thought about this placement, directly at the end of a letter, encouraging his reader, saying we must not stop!

Over the last four decades, I have known hundreds of poets, painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, and nearly all of them stopped doing their creative work. When I began writing poetry in 1975, I had no idea that my first book would not be published until 2006, nor did I imagine wanting to stop writing because it would take more than thirty years of hard work to reach that point. Onward we go! The uses of astrology often ask about the compatibility of lovers who are other zodiac signs, but what if we choose to see how our astrological traits can be of value to others? If we think of this belief system as a place to build community, then for Capricorn, instead of the competitiveness our horoscopes constantly accuse us of embracing, what if we channel it for change? Know your strengths, and in my case, it means to remind my friends how much their art means to me and not allow them to become former artists who stop making what they love.

We also do not have to quietly settle for definitions and prescriptions from astrologers. Capricorn is a goat with a fishtail--- a mergoat. Astrologers often say our goat upper-body strength helps us climb to the summits we desire, no matter how far away. They also say our fishtail is our weakness, making us unstable in water's subconscious depths. I disagree, having enjoyed balancing within myself these reputed conflicting halves. Much like the Great Sphinx of Egypt, it is not that the human head needs to tame the lion body, but instead needs to become at one and harmonious with the muscular, wild, fierce lion, and this is precisely the same with Capricorn.  We learn to incorporate our deepest feelings, synchronizing with the underwater source of potential power by cultivating trust in our abilities and allowing our strong, forceful fishtail to steer us in the direction we most want our lives to go. Whenever we Capricorns prove astrologers wrong and make our two halves work together, we are unstoppable!  We must not allow the suspicious doubts of others to interfere with the possibilities of our self-actualization, fully embracing all we have to offer our lives and the world.

Try this: replace "lover" in your horoscope with "community." Replace "should" with "could" and place "art" whenever they tell us about the things we need to do. Evaluate your zodiac sign for yourself, questioning everything until you have your personalized appreciation of the stars. Your life and what you want to create are quite possibly beyond the understanding of certain astrologers, so accept that you have a larger lens on the matter and find it yourself. You are now graduating from the Sandberg Art Institute, and it is up to you to love what you learned enough to continue making the things you came to Earth to do. Congratulations, and may you help the world around you thrive along with you!

Friday, July 9, 2021

On the BASILICA HUDSON podcast!!!


MANY THANKS TO Melissa Auf der Maur, Allison Young, & everyone at Basilica Hudson for having me on your podcast with the amazing Kate Durbin & Cat Tyc!!!