Aries: New Year, Spring & Horses – ChatterLog April 2014

Aries, The Ram

Greetings everyone and welcome to the Spring 2014 ChatterBulletin! Remember last time I talked about January being the start of the “calendar” year, but in Astrology and Nature, New Yearbegins with the 1st sign of Spring – the sign of Aries, and the month of AprilSpring (not winter) is the time of new life, and new growth in Nature. Notice we are just now beginning to come out of our “winter doldrums” and months of hibernation. The blooms and the blossoms are bursting through (finally), the weather is gradually warming up – well almost – and we hopefully have a little more energy. And I’m sure I speak for most New Yorkers here when I say we have had one of those very long winters and can’t wait for springtime!

Blooming Bleecker Street, NYC April 26, 2014 © Louisa J. Curtis

Speaking of Spring and the New Year, shortly after I sent out the Winter newsletter back in January, we also entered into the Chinese Lunar Calendar’s New Year, and The Year of the Horse, which is also my animal, being born in 1954. There are 12 animals in Chinese Astrology (just as there are 12 signs in Western Astrology) and the cycle of animals takes 12 years to complete. Consider this: I have completed 5 cycles, in Astrology Leo (which is my Sun Sign) is the 5thSign, in Numerology my number is 5, and I live on the 5th floor. And yes, this also means that I will be turning 60 later this year, which is a crazy thought all by itself. But surely it has to be a good thing to be turning 60 in the year of your own animal, right? So our theme for this newsletter is New YearSpring, and Horses

I grew up in an area called The New Forest in England, which is now The New Forest National Park, where about 3,000 New Forest Ponies essentially roam freely, although technically they are owned by New Forest Commoners. To read more about these CommonersPonies, the Verderers, and the 5 Agisters who work for them (yes, I said 5), The New Forest and more, please click here. I also reached out to local wildlife and nature photographer Mike Read, who happens to live in the same town my mum lived in, and whose calendars she would send me every year so I could have pictures of our beloved New Foreston my walls in New York City. Since Spring is all about new life, then what better to show you than a young foal with its mother…

New Forest Pony Foal © Mike Read

Interestingly (or not) I have never felt that drawn to Horses, even though I was around them growing up. I don’t dislike them, I think they are magnificent creatures, just not when I’m riding them! I identify more with my Western Astrological animal, the Lion for Leo, or more simply Cats. Growing up in the English countryside, there were a few standard activities that one learned as a child, one of which was horseback riding. Thus we were sent for lessons at a local stable in the small town of Brockenhurst, where the rather “seedy” Gerald Rickman instructed his young pupils… The horses ranged from the larger, lumbering steeds that were so tall you needed a stepladder to climb up on them, to the much smaller ponies, with names like “Bracken” and “Slipper,” and although they moved a lot faster than the bigger horses, they were notoriously naughty and far more difficult to control. Please Note: These were not the wild New Forest Ponies, although they may as well have been…

New Forest Ponies During Drift (round up), Near Brockenhurst © Mike Read

One year, during our school half-term break, my sister and I were booked in for a riding lesson, but because it was probably Easter break, they were busy and we did not get our preferred choice of rides. Instead, we found ourselves on the smaller ponies – the ones who could smell your fear a mile off! Fast-forward (literally) to the surrounding countryside and picture my out-of-control pony bolting through the bushes at breakneck speed, with me hanging on for dear life! Until we reached the road, that is, where, instead of falling on to perhaps some nice soft grass on the verge, I waited until we were right in the middle of the road where I promptly landed in a heap on the hard tarmac. The other riders were not far behind me and scampered across the road in hot pursuit of the runaway pony. To add insult to injury, one of those horses actually trod on me and I ended up with hoof-shaped bruises – no kidding.

You’d think that was bad enough, right? But as I was struggling to my feet and attempting to recover myself and my pony, a car drove by, which sounds reasonable enough considering it was a road we were standing on, except that this particular car contained one of my headmistresses from school. I prayed she had not seen me. The next week, I was back in school again and was mortified to discover that I would be sitting at the “top” table in the dining room at lunchtime with you guessed it, the headmistress. Without hesitation, she leaned in my direction and said in her terribly “English” accent, “Was that you Louisa I saw in the middle of the road…” or words to that effect. My face went redder than the beetroot I was probably eating. It was bad enough that she had seen my equine demise, and recognized me from her moving vehicle, but to then bring it to the entire table’s attention was completely mortifying for me… After that, I stuck with ballet and swimming.

Papa Feeding New Forest Ponies: August 16, 2006 © Louisa J. Curtis

Continuing with the Chinese Astrology for a moment because interestingly, this year is specifically the Year of the Wooden Horse, which immediately brings to my mind Greek mythology and the story of The Trojan Horse. In brief, the King of the Gods Zeus had a daughter with the King of Sparta’s mortal wife Leda, and that same daughter Helen was married to Menelaus. After a quarrel between the goddesses AthenaHera & Aphrodite, the beautiful Helen was abducted by Paris and taken off to Troy, hence Helen of Troy, and this dastardly act brought about The Trojan War, which lasted many years. Another interesting note about Helen of Troy (formally Helen of Sparta) is that two of her siblings were the twins Castor & Pollux, and it is Castor & Pollux who are connected with our 3rd sign of Spring – Gemini.

Illustration of The Trojan Horse

But back to the War: The city of Troy finally fell to the Greeks after they devised a cunning plan by constructing a Giant Wooden Horse (inside which were hidden a select number of soldiers) and left it at the entrance to the city. Then they pretended to sail away in defeat. The Trojans, being curious creatures and probably ready for the war to be over, pulled that big old horse right inside their gates thinking it was a victory trophy. That night however, the concealed soldiers crept out from inside the horse and opened up the city gates, thus allowing the Greek army (who had sneaked back again from their ships) to enter, conquer the city, and decisively win the war.

And while we’re talking about wooden horses, anyone remember the classic 1950 British World War II movie, The Wooden Horse based on the book by Eric Williams, in which a group of prisoners attempt to escape the infamous German POW Camp Stalag Luft III (the same camp in which the perhaps better-known movie The Great Escape starring Steve McQueenJames Garner and Richard Attenboroughalso took place) by digging a tunnel that was concealed underneath a piece of exercise equipment, or more specifically, a Vaulting Horse. It’s a brilliant story about a lot of grit (literally) and determination that tells of how these prisoners strategically worked together as a team, some of them as the physical “exercisers” while others were the physical “diggers.”

From the Movie: The Wooden Horse Image Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Another interesting note is that through our discussion on HorsesThe Year of the HorseThe Trojan Horse and The Wooden Horse, notice how it all brings us conveniently back to the topic of War – which is associated with Mars, and our sign of Aries. The Planet Mars, who rules over Aries, the Ram and our first sign of Spring, was the Roman God of War. Then we had Ares (notice the similarity to the word Aries) son of Zeus & Hera, who was the Greek God of War and one of the Twelve Olympians (yes I said 12). But how many of you know where the word April, the month Aries rules, comes from? Well, thanks to my teacher, I am going to tell you: April is derived from the Latin word Aperio meaning, “to lay bare, to expose, to view, to open and render accessible (at this time).” Spring is therefore a time for all creatures (both human and otherwise) to open themselves up in preparation for the rest of the season and the coming year ahead by taking in this newborn energy and life. This is also why people born under the sign of Aries are said to have a “spring” in their step (hmmmm…) because they are the most energetic of all 12 signs.

Horses © 2014 Elizabeth DeRamus Photography

I recently noticed a post on Facebook by Birmingham, Alabama photographer Elizabeth DeRamus. It had been ages since we’d been in touch, so I reached out to her and asked if I could show you one of her beautiful images. Now consider this for a moment… In Chinese Astrology, the Horse is connected to the element of Fire, which is Red, and it is no big surprise that the color for Aries, the 1st Fire sign of the zodiac and the Planet Mars that rules it is also RedIn Chinese Five Element theory (there’s that number 5 again!), the Horse is in the Fire group. The Horse month is in the middle of summer (my birthday is in August in Leo, which is the 5th sign of the zodiac, and our 2nd Fire sign). The Horse is the strongest Fire animal in all 12 zodiacs. 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse. Wood can help Fire to burn, so Fire can last longer.” And 2014 is more specifically The Year of the Green Wooden Horse, and the color for our 2nd sign of Spring and our 1st Earth sign of Taurus is also Green… Hmmm…

Taurus, the Bull

So now, while we’re talking about the color Green – Green not only relates to the money that the practical Taurus likes to earn, and to their precious stone the Emerald, but also to their naturally Green Thumbs and gardening abilities. A few years ago in May 2011 for the Taurus newsletter I featured several garden photographers, but this time I wanted to mention one particular photographer from that group again, because not only is Saxon Holt, a Taurus, he was born on April 22nd, which is Earth Day – how perfect is that? It’s no accident that the Earth sign of Taurus begins with a celebration called Earth Day… and it’s no accident that Saxon Holt photographs gardens! So here are a few images from a new project Photobotanic Extractions inspired by his love of botanical illustrations.

California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita ‘Monica’ © 2013 Saxon Holt

California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita ‘Monica’ © 2013 Saxon Holt
Photobotanic Illustration of California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita ‘Monica’ © 2013 Saxon Holt

Not all Taurus photographers necessarily photograph gardens – the Taurus loves many beautiful things, including great food, music and art. So another photographer I’m showing you this month is Charlotte, NC-based photographer Mitchell Kearney, a “late” Taurus born on May 19th (right before we head into Gemini). I particularly wanted to show you some of Mitchell’s “artist” portraits, since it ties in nicely with Taurus’ love of the arts, along with his captions.

Claudia Borgna: Visual + Performance Artist © 2008 Mitchell Kearney

Imagine a work of art which utilizes the lowly “trash bag” as it’s primary physical ingredient in such a transformative approach as to force you to reconsider the concept of REcycling. Claudia’s ephemeral tongue-twisting works of art which exceed the limits of speech to wordlessly touch your heart strings with her highly minded need for emotional engagement on a global scale at this moment.

Mail Order Brides: 21st Century Troubadours 2003 © Mitchell Kearney

Visited Charlotte back in 2003, during their residency at the McColl Center for Visual Art, and left such a delightful dent in our space/time continuum that we have been changed forever, for the good of Wo+Man kind…!

John W. Love Jr.: Poet + Creative Artist © 2011 Mitchell Kearney

My relationship with John extends over many years and revolves like the earth around our sun. I am in awed by the creative heat, which John gives off, constantly…! His multi-discipline approaches to his creative work are astonishing examples of the finest mind of our times.

Michele Tejuola Turner: Visual Artist + Educator © 2013 Mitchell Kearney

In response to her sensitivity to the issues which surround her, ‘Tejuola’ works out her thoughts about a subject on the surface of large dried African gourds – carving & painting the story to life, in her own special way – quietly. Like all things African, ‘Tejuola’ deals with an issue from all sides and her art is all encompassing – literally and figuratively – her canvas is a far more global form, a pear-like form which allows her to carve & paint figures and text over & under the round, female womb-like form, telling the story of an idea… a person… or a family of people. Her picture-stories reveal the wisdom of her family and her care for those who have come before us, who are to be remembered for their strength. My task was to share her fortitude on this road called life – her life & her resulting art making. ‘Tejuola’ has gifted me with a far greater understanding of the human condition than I had previously known.

In closing, I have to give a mention to Kseniya Simonova, an incredible Performance Sand Artist and winner of Ukraine’s Got Talent back in 2009. Photographer and old buddy Kristofer dan Bergman recently mentioned her on Facebook, and when I clicked on the link and saw what she did, I simply had to share it with all of you, so please click here to see her winning performance on YouTube. Now, not only is what she does amazing and incredible but also how fitting is it that this girl is a Taurus, born April 22, 1985, and even better, our Taurus is literally making art with the Earth itself! Click here to see yet another of her amazing videos on YouTube in which there’s a Horse, of course!

Sand Animation by Kseniya Simonova

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