Sun at 4 degrees 20 minutes Taurus. Moon at 4 degrees 20 minutes Scorpio
Following the solar eclipse at the New Moon in Aries, we now have its companion eclipse, a darkening of the Moon. This one draws our attention to the Taurus-Scorpio polarity. The Sun has moved into earthy Taurus, where the vital energy that emerged at the vernal equinox becomes stable and productive. In Taurus, under the rulership of Venus, we rejoice in the world's luxuriant beauty and revel in our own embodied existence. "It's good to be alive!" we feel, as our senses reawaken and the world begins to leaf out and bloom. Our Taurean side encourages us to care for our own comfort and well-being, to hang onto life and enjoy the good things of life, and to create beauty around us.The Scorpio Full Moon counterbalances this enthusiasm for life and comfort with the sobering reality of death and decay. In the midst of the fresh, naïve enjoyment of the world which comes so naturally in spring, we are reminded of the other side of the life cycle. We can live fully, and protect life fully, only when we take death into account. We become fully human at the moment when we realize that there are people and things for which we would be willing to die. Scorpio also insists that we face the darker motives of human beings and the inherent corruptibility of human institutions.Death has been on my mind lately, as I have been watching American and British cable television. Clicking my way through the channels for a movie or news broadcast worth watching, I've been struck by the quantity and intensity of violence and terror pouring out of the screen at all hours of the day. International news broadcasts report mainly on war, terrorism and genocide. National and local news programs focus on homicides, abductions, natural disasters, fatal accidents, and terrorist threats. Films (even some love stories and comedies) tend to be saturated with blood and gore. The most successful current TV dramas are nearly all detective shows with plots revolving around horrific murders, abductions and sex crimes. Occasional relief from murder and terror can be found in (often violent) sports broadcasts and news items on corruption and nonviolent crime.Violent death, terror and cruelty as entertainment are not new, but contemporary film and television programs heighten their impact through the mesmerizing effects of technology, both in the methods of killing and torture portrayed and in the filmmakers' command of special effects. One might think that this dramatic intensity would bring viewers to a realization of the violent and lawless aspects of contemporary society and help bring about change. In fact, however, it seems on the whole to do the opposite. We remain seated in Taurean comfort on our living room couches, observing the horror through the frame of the television set, achieving a type of emotional catharsis but secure in the knowledge that at any moment we can shut the violence off by remote control. We imagine that we have power over death (Scorpio). The violent acts (whether fictional or factual) shown on the screen are not permitted to disturb our view of our society as positive, civilized, based upon humane values and the rule of law, and on the right side of history. They are set apart, safely contained within the TV box as mere aberrations in the progressive unfolding of our way of life, rather than being revealed as intrinsic to it.Occasionally, though, the truth of the pictures ceases to be entertainment and becomes a life-altering reality. Without the broadcast of the Abu Ghraib photographs over television news, the reality of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated, terrorized, molested and killed by American service personnel could not have been conveyed to the American public.We also learn from television about people who are not bracketing off violence but instead taking on the full implications of the conflicts in which their own countries are embroiled. Recently I saw a remarkable report on public television about workers at the National Museum in Afghanistan who quietly risked their lives over a period of years by hiding works of art from the Taliban, who planned to destroy them. Thanks to their courage and dedication to their cultural heritage, many priceless works were saved. As I write this, word has come from Baghdad of the death of Marla Ruzicka, a young American woman whose story I first heard on ABC News two years ago. Her life and death seem to me to exemplify the meaning of this Full Moon/Eclipse. Having learned that the United States government was not documenting the loss of civilian lives resulting from American military actions in Afghanistan, Marla founded an organization to gather this documentation and present the results to the government so that injured victims and survivors could be compensated. She lobbied Congress, chatted up the press, and traveled the roads of Afghanistan and Iraq, going village by village, family by family, with the aid of local teams, to draw out the stories of the maimed and the dead, the bereaved and the orphaned, those whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed. She was determined that the innocent victims of war not be forgotten. By all accounts, Marla loved life and had everything to live for. A vivacious blonde, famous for her laughter and her parties, she did not long for an early death but chose to invest her life in helping others salvage what life they could from the death that had exploded all around them. At 28, she was hoping soon to get back to a more normal existence in her new apartment in New York. On April 16, Marla and her Iraqi co-worker were traveling on the Baghdad airport road when a suicide bomber attacked a nearby supply convoy. Their car was engulfed in flames. According to the New York Times account, a medic at the scene found her still conscious with burns over ninety per cent of her body. Her last words were, "I'm alive."