Sunday, June 10, 2012

Minor Thirds, Seriously

An interesting casting with an emphasis on a Minor Third of Voices. What does it mean to be serious?

Keycenter: C Ascending

Under me: A Major Seventh of Voices. Your current predicament is governed by an essential lack. The bad news: there is a hole in your spirit. The good news: it may be filled any number of ways – now is your chance. 

Under le: Fermata. The hold-up, the stasis you are experiencing arises from a mechanical, unconscious place within; if you look to find the conductor’s hand holding the orchestra in pause, you will see the hand is yours. 

Axis, over so: An Octave of Strings crossed with a Minor Third of Voices. Beyond the mundane aspects of the difficulties in front of you, the karmic challenge you are facing, the potentially transformative challenge to your life as a whole, involves finding emotional strength where there appears to be none: take heart – expressing a little courage will engender more courage. This is a serious moment for you as a being – how shall you respond in kind? Surely not with heaviness and drama - the Octave of Strings warns against that. What does it mean to be serious? Can you be strong yet light, committed yet open?

Over ti: A Conductor of Voices. The navigation of this transition must be spirit led. The lack in position 1 – what has been filling that lack to this point? Emotion, yes? Action based on despair? The feeling must be strong now, yes, but the spirit, the inner knowing, must direct. How can you hear this voice?

Hear a piano improv of this casting on soundcloud

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Soloist of Voices

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me,
he complains of my gab and my loitering. 
I too am not a bit tamed,I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
–Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"

What is it to be a soloist? It is a time when the attention of others turns to us – it is our moment to shine. It is a call to be articulate and sincere. It is a time when success or failure can over-inflate or crush our notions of self-worth; and it is a time to set such notions aside.

The suit of Voices embodies attributes of all the other suits. The push of the diaphragm, the contours of the mouth recall Brass and it’s creative fire. The vocal cords vibrate like the watery, emotional Strings; split down the middle like a double reed, they sing with air like the pensive Woodwinds. The voice as a whole gains its character, indeed can only manifest, in the vessel, the drum, of the body. 

The voice is a bridge between the inner and outer worlds: it communicates, expresses, prays. For all this, the suit of Voices is greater still than the sum of its parts: it speaks of who we are beyond thought, feeling, body, and movement; it sings the song of the Self.

What is it to be a Soloist of Voices? It is a time to express our innermost knowing, our most sacred desires, no holds barred; it is a time to be. It can be a lonely time, not everyone will encourage, support, allow... but oh sweet Lord, the ones who will, the ones who will.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dependence as a Force of Nature

The scalepoint of re or le descending in a casting indicates a point in process where Dependence is in play. This sometimes implies a kind of negative influence, as in something or someone glomming on and drawing away vital energy; but it needn’t always.

In Gurdjieff’s Ray of Creation as well in the cosmology of the Muzoracle, the last note in a descending scale represents the Moon. In the series of decreasing vibrations and increasing densities that is demarcated by the notes of the diatonic scale – cascading inward and downward from Unfathomable Source through universes, galaxies, stars and their systems – the particular line of which we are a part ends with our Moon: it is the force at the edge of darkness into which light can penetrate; it draws and absorbs that which is compostable. In a descending process, that is a process of Nature unfolding, this infinite darkness is sacred. The Moon is like a child at Earth’s breast: yes, it is hungry, and yes, it is the future.

In a casting, then, re or le descending, in addition to suggesting something or someone drawing energy, might also imply a force of nature at work. Case in point: in a casting involving relationships, a Unison of Brass was drawn crossing a Unison of Voices under the point of le. Unisons, of course, imply two (or more): a single sound source can not play two instances of the same pitch simultaneously. So we see here a unity of action (brass) coupled with an essential, karmic, soulmate kind of unity (voices) operating together as a force of nature: the querent, in this case, is a part of that unstoppable, sacred flow.

Musically, the point of le descending implies the interval of the Minor Sixth in relation to the casting’s key center; this could clearly be heard when the casting was played back, especially since both of the cards hitting on that point were Unisons. This brought a palpable feeling of longing to the position.

As is often my practice these days, I drew traditional Tarot into each position of this casting after the initial interpretation was well underway. The card drawn under this position – also moving downward – was the Eight of Wands, which implied immediacy and reiterated a unity of direction and purpose.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Traditional Tarot and Direction in Muzoracle Castings

In traditional Tarot, reversed cards – cards that appear upside down – are controversial: some readers give reversal a great deal of weight, while others disregard it entirely. This is especially true in the case of the Minor Arcana – indeed, many decks use pips instead of images and are identical in either direction, like our modern playing cards.

Using Tarot in conjunction with the Muzoracle has been explored elsewhere here in the Addenda; generally, after the Muzoracle is cast a Tarot card is drawn for each position in the casting. In this context, the direction of the Tarot cards relates them to ascending or descending scales: upright Tarot cards travel upward in the direction of intention, while reversed cards travel downward as part of the flow of nature. Neither direction is inherently positive or negative. Reversed Tarot cards in Muzoracle castings don’t become their opposite or more intensified as they do in traditional spreads; they simply take on a different role. In fact, in the context of the Muzoracle, we don't even use the term "reversed" – Tarot cards are simply ascending or descending. Viewing Tarot through the lens of ascent and descent gives the Tarot deck quite a different feel, and makes an interesting study on its own.

Things can become especially lively when, within a position, the Tarot card travels in the opposite direction of the scalepoint and its attendant Muzoracle card. In the example at top left, a Major Seventh of Brass was cast over the point of so, followed by the Six of Swords "reversed" drawn to the same position. While the Seventh of Brass is interpreted over so, the point of Challenge, the Six of Swords is traveling in the opposite direction, and is interpreted under ra, the point of Vitality: ra is the tritone, or “opposite” of so. Finding a scalepoint's tritone is easily accomplished using the chart below, which can be found as well on the foldout flap at the back of the Muzoracle Handbook –  note so and ra, as found in the above example. 

click for larger image

Another example: at right we find a Tritone of Voices crossed with the Harmony Card under le, with the Sun  traveling upward from the opposite direction, from "re." Thus we have the following dynamic: a pervasive sense of urgency regarding a relationship is weighing things down, while an ubiquitous optimism may be keeping the core of the problem from being addressed. In the following position, we find a Conductor of Percussion over fa, with the Nine of Pentacles traveling downward from... fa as well. Due to the ambiguous nature of tritones, the "opposite" of fa ascending is fa descendingsame deal with ti, check out the chart. (If you're interested in the whys and wherefores of that, go here.) What we see with the Conductor is a time of real, physical leadership being revealed, coming to the fore; the Nine speaks of a relaxed, enjoy-life confidence needed in order to navigate a transition.

Happy casting! –jsk

Friday, January 20, 2012

Called to Improvise

At first glance, the Improvisation Card may seem to be about facility and technique, about being able to “take a solo”  or “hold down a groove” that impresses. While these things – facility, technique, self-confidence, razzle dazzle –  can certainly come into play while improvising, they are not at the heart of it; successful improvisation is about listening and maintaining a flow. In a group situation we must maintain an awareness of what the other musicians are doing; if they are listening in return, a meaningful conversation can take place. If indeed we are “taking a solo,” then yes, what we create is for the moment in the spotlight; nevertheless, we are not an island – as we all know, there’s nothing like a loudmouth who doesn’t listen and is “always on” to spoil everybody’s fun. If we are improvising entirely on our own – solo at the piano, for instance – listening and flow still are foremost: we have to be continually aware of what we just played and respond accordingly; our soliloquy must be coherent.

Drawing the Improvisation Card, I am called to listen and respond. Yes, my aim is important, yes, the big picture is important, if I have one in mind; but what’s here now? What is called for now? What can I bring to this conversation with Life that is meaningful and appropriate – now?

The image on the Improvisation Card is a Flower of Life Labyrinth. Within the flower, much is possible: from the points within the centers of its individual circles emerge all five of the Platonic Solids, which are equated with the five suits of the Muzoracle: Brass/Fire/Movement; Strings/Water/Feeling; Woodwinds/Air/Intellect; Percussion/Earth/Body; and Voices/Aether/Wholeness. Upon entering the labyrinth I am immediately confronted with questions: which way to turn? The point of the labyrinth is not to get out, but to be present while within.

What is here now? What is called for?