Man or Animal?

I sometimes ponder the rhetorical question, is man a human being having a spiritual experience, or a spiritual being having a human experience? I don't mind the old-fashioned sexist language, because it's mostly true. And let's say, really, what I ponder is the relevance of the question more than the supposed issue itself, since, as most women I know would agree, it's a moot point. We are human, we are spiritual: we are one. We bleed, we live, we die.

I say: Beware of Spiritual. The word spiritual is a space-holder for a variety of other concepts, which it intentionally hides. Like the words love and monogamy, it is void for vagueness, and is a loose thread leading to a cover-up. Spiritual usually means something like, really deep and meaningful, or I don't get it, or held as sacred, or involving my concept of God/Goddess, or ritualistic, or having existence beyond the body, or involving an issue that only death will reveal, or being about love that is not romantic. Or, as I defined in the Scorpio series, life minus sex.

There is an old Yiddish expression (I doubt there are any new ones, but who knows) that goes something like, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." We tend to be divided and see the world in divided ways. Psychology, spirituality, philosophy and other disciplines, love to divide up the human existence: soul versus ego, spirit versus soul, gay versus straight, male versus female, personality versus self, self versus higher self, mind versus body, emotions versus mind, or God versus man, or hey, God versus Goddess. These models all have validity, each in their brief, flickering and hopefully short-lived moment, but they are pretty weak concepts, when you put them to the test. I say, let's get it on! God fucking Goddess! Goddess on top! I all-but laugh out loud when I hear of the mind-body-spirit connection mentioned, particularly by healers. How did they become unglued in the first place? How were they ever defined as such? Who set them at war?

Somebody did, you can be sure. Not all cultures suffer from this epistemological idiocy. But they tend to, once the missionaries get there.

One of the big debates in this region is about whether man is a man, or an animal. A lot of people are indignant that they are not one of the animals. Oy.

Oh, well, okay, I see the wisdom of the philosophy. Being human makes us immune from being eaten. But tell that to a 20-foot python.

If we can hold our nose and not take in the smell of the superiority complex this man/animal debate insinuates, and the direct evidence of a lack of connection to anything, we can see that the real issue is a split within human consciousness. Many of our kind think we are something more, or something beyond an animal, meaning a denial of what they think of as the animal nature. I wonder whether this question would have any relevance at all if sex (the expression of the supposedly animal nature) were not viewed as a moral issue. Obviously, we consider ourselves rather highly evolved for murdering people in what is really just gross predatory behavior (warfare), but have a lot of guilt about sex, and relegate sex to the whole animal thing. Do you ever hear a moralist say, Hey! Let's be more human and not slaughter those peasants! But every day you get anti-fucking rhetoric dressed up in the garb of spirituality: that is, and beware, fluffy, bullshit Sagittarius.

In Sagittarius we are confronted with the centaur, who is man and beast. This is undeniable, if you are looking at the symbol. It ain't chopped liver. Even if we have the image of the hunter and his steed, we have an image of humanity who is so close to his animal nature as to not be in denial of it. The centaur represents not the split of the animal/human nature, but the inseparability, and perhaps, the contrast. Most of the centaurs were a bunch of wild things, the Hell's Angels of mythology (as my friend Dave Arner put it). But their leader, Chiron, was as human as they come on this planet, playing none of the games of the gods and goddesses who were supposedly so superior to him. We can see, from Chiron, that to be in harmony with our animal nature is to be in touch with our humanity. Or, perhaps that state exists as a potential.

Here we have an illustration of the issue of sex, Sagittarius-style. In astrology we have the human signs (i.e., Gemini), and the animal signs (i.e., Leo). Sagittarius is the only sign that is both human and beasty. Someone wrote to me the other day: "With both Scorpio and Sag. prominent in my chart, I live them as both contradictory and complimentary. Have just spent a weekend with an Israeli friend indulging in delicious foreplay of politics and religion and in the deepest release of long held lust. A total Sag-Scorpio melding. Can't begin to imagine one without the other in this life."

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Space graphics above: Samples of the Center of Centaurus A, courtesy of APOD. Credit: E.J. Schreier (STScI) et al., NASA. Explanation: A fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, gigantic glowing gas clouds, and imposing dark dust lanes surrounds the central region of the active galaxy Centaurus A.

This link posted Nov. 27, 2001.