High summer's solstice sun has risen and set over Stonehenge, but for most of us in the northern hemisphere, the summer holidays have yet to fully kick into gear. Schools are about to finish for the academic year, and the potential for long, lazy days and nights, punctuated by the minor irritation of our children, still lies just ahead.
This week's Capricorn Full Moon gives us plenty to contemplate whilts dozing on our sun loungers by the pool, on the beach, or simply in our sweltering backyards. As we try to keep our cool over the next couple of weeks, there is likely to be a simmering heatwave of tension between our family and professional lives, our intimate domesticity, and our public persona. This moon invites us to maintain a healthy balance between the two.
For cosmological reference, each full moon provides a dynamic axis across the heavens between the exactly opposed positions of the Sun and Moon. The resulting energetic tension between our closest moon and star in two opposing astrological houses (with Earth somewhere in between) is said to have a major influence during each full moon period.
This coming week, while the Moon sits in Capricorn (careers), her beautiful full face will be illuminated by the Sun lounging directly opposite in Cancer (home and family). However, the burning summer tensions might be felt acutely between the hardworking, ambitious nature of Capricorn and the often dependent, clingy, security-loving Cancer. That lazy dependency in the coming days might well lead to another cancer trait: resentment, should any of our domestic securities feel threatened.
Which leads me full circle to report on the most recent tumult in British politics and its current malaise of seething resentments and deceitful incompetence. It was under last year's Capricorn Full Moon that the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, resigned from his post in light of his proven perpetual fibbing. Despite his resignation as Prime Minister, he retained his Member of Parliament (MP) status, which allowed him to continue flaunting his lumbering, disenchanted presence in Parliament until two weeks ago. Once again, he has been forced to resign before being deposed, having been found to have knowingly lied to fellow MPs about parties held in Downing Street during the COVID pandemic lockdown.
The scandal, now known as "Partygate," was thoroughly investigated by the non-partisan Privileges Committee of MPs, and their report's condemnation of the former prime minister's actions was damning. Johnson immediately labeled the committee a "Kangaroo Court," which would have promptly led to even heavier sanctions had he not seen the writing on the wall and resigned. "This is rubbish." "It is a lie," he said of the cross-party committee’s conclusion that he had deliberately and repeatedly misled the house, an offense all the more serious because he was prime minister at the time.
I'm not sure why anyone might be taken aback by the outcome of the inquiry. Johnson has a history of deception and hypocrisy. This is someone steeped in generationally bestowed white male privilege, who was sacked from the Times newspaper as a reporter for making up quotes and from the Conservative frontbench for lying about one of several extramarital affairs. However, the committee made it quite clear that although the report's criticism of Johnson's character and conduct on every single one of its 106 pages was key, the more pressing issue evidenced by his case was that of declining public trust in British vehicles of democracy. Boris had deliberately undermined the systems of governance that rely on MPs and the public being able to trust ministers telling the truth, and ultimately, despite his protestations of innocence (more lies), he has had to face the public consequences of a deep-seated lack of integrity.
Unsurprisingly a report published this week by the Institute for Public Policy suggests that trust in the British political system has fallen to an all-time low since the pandemic. The survey of 8,000 Brits found that just 6% of the public have full trust in the current political system, while a staggering 89% support constitutional reform. Is this an overdue cue for change, perhaps?
This column often stresses its conviction that the circumstances we experience unfolding around us are keen reflections of our individual and collective states of mind. However uncomfortable it is to consider, the attitudes and actions of the public servants we have elected to office directly reflect prevailing social and cultural attitudes, to which we all contribute. What can we learn, then, from these not unfamiliar recent scenes in Westminster? Is the rampant lack of integrity characterized by fabulist political leaders like Johnson, Truss, or Trump in the States a sad indictment of our own? Are we prepared to lie, to put others at risk, or to incur expense to further our own personal agendas?
This isn't an isolated scenario peculiar solely to Britain and its increasingly disunited kingdom. Internationally, the political and economic systems we have been banking on (quite literally) continue to willfully lay waste to the planet while egregiously lying about doing so. Those systems, like the ideology upon which they are precariously balanced, are no longer fit for purpose. Even with drastic intervention and governance, it may already be too late to prevent humanitarian disaster currently unfolding under unrestricted free market influence.
While our latter-day Neros—Boris, Truss, Sunak, and their attendant long list of entitled blithering idiots—preside clueless over the capitalist sacking of their Rome, the "security" of British democracy and its capacity to deal with the tragic, crucial issues of our day have been critically undermined. At a time when fair and just societies appear to be a footnote in some distantly recounted fairy tale, we find ourselves at an unprecedented junction in human and planetary history. We can either continue on our current path, hell-bent on central bank-sanctioned planetary destruction, or we can chart a revised course toward a sustainable future in the hope that the damage we have already wrought can be limited.
The only politics that matter now are those that might arrest our rush towards the brink. If Earth systems collapse, nothing else counts. Yet every day government and media produce a new distraction, hypnotising us with spectacle after meaningless spectacle. This is how we go down, gasping and gurning at the antics of those who claim to govern us.
Post-pandemic, divisions between the haves and have-nots are widening, with heavily policed borders further separating wealthy nations from those most acutely affected by war, famine, and climate disasters. These divisions are being reinforced. In the name of their populations, the richest governments aim to retain what law-enforced economics has led them to believe is rightfully theirs, even if historically accrued through colonial pillage, theft, racism, genocide, sexual violence, and slavery.
And is there not a diluted reflection of that protectionist model in our own personal lives? Do we not strenuously defend our own material gains, inherited or earned by whatever means, for the benefit of our own families over those who might truly be in need? As the climate crisis starts to encroach on our own privileged lives, will we have already dismissed the lives lost or destroyed in poorer nations as the sad collateral damage of our war on the planet and each other—a series of unfortunate events over which we had no control? Let’s hope that the climate summit discussions hosted by French President Macron in Paris last week will lead to reductions in the levels of unserviceable debt inherited by the poorest countries, now exacerbated by the climate crisis they were least responsible for creating. The two-day summit, aimed at devising a new "global financing pact," was attended by heads of state, government officials, and other top officials from more than 50 countries but was snubbed by the current UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. That's a turn-up (or not) for the books.
If the overriding issue here is a deepening lack of integrity in the public, where is it more important for that trend to be addressed and reversed than in the areas of our personal lives over which we still retain control? If we continue to buy into the accepted consumerist web of deception, we deserve nothing less than a future dominated by dissatisfaction and fear delivered in Amazon packages. We fear the lack, the attack, the feeling of missing out, ironically being cheated, not being good enough, aging, and ultimately, death. Do we truly need all the stuff we have led ourselves to believe is vital for our happiness?
In light of the proven evidence that Earth's soil is poisoned and depleted of nutrients, her forests are burning and shrinking, her oceans are overfished and polluted, coral and sea life are dwindling and dying, her rivers are full of sewage and hormones, and her air is thick with toxic micro plastics, now prevalent in human placenta, how can we modify our behavior to reflect the desperate need for change? What can we do? What changes can we make in our thoughts, words, and actions that might induce change around us and prevent further suffering?
Might it be possible for us to use less and regularly resolve to give up something more without any real detriment to our joy in living? Could we commit to eating less meat while supporting local organic farming and horticulture? Can we strive to buy fewer new items, insulate our homes, and tend to an allotment or garden for organic homegrown produce without using peat-based compost and chemical treatments? Can we avoid purchasing plastics and man-made fibers, fly less frequently or not at all, minimize the use of cars in favor of walking and public transport, drive slower to save fuel, constantly find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, use toxin-free cleaning products, shampoos, soaps, and cosmetics, refill rather than replace, use natural flea treatments on our pets instead of nerve agent insecticides , avoid all use of insecticides, and engage with and create local community initiatives to address the climate crisis on our doorsteps, all while finding joy in these actions?
Very little is needed to make a happy life, it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
(Marcus Aurelius 121-180 AD)
These commitments make simple common sense because the rapidly advancing truth of climate change is plainly visible around us. We don't need government backing to know that such actions are the right thing to do; we can trust our own integrity and intelligence. We can ignore the incessant flow of seductive consumerist propaganda that deceptively encourages a "buy now, pay later" philosophy. A significant part of the world's population and our delicately balanced biosphere are already paying a substantial price for our insatiable appetites for more. We should never again purchase a piece of "keep calm and carry on" merchandise that epitomizes a very British head-in-the-sand divorce from the consequences of our actions. Circumstances will only begin to improve when we find our own truth, our own intelligently informed integrity, and live by it.
And that requires an internal dialogue—a personal process of inner evaluation that utilizes the available information and experience. Everyone's dialogue is individual, but each viewpoint and subsequent action link to the collective whole. In pursuing an undefiled, intact integrity, we seek not to isolate, separate, or protect ourselves and our little personal worlds. Instead, we aim to align and connect with the intelligent nature that animates everything in existence—the bigger picture. This intelligent force of evolution drives purpose in every particle, every cell, every planet, and every star system in every unfolding moment. A connection to this unified truth, considered by many wisdom traditions to be our greater self, is where all healing begins. It is where creativity plays its harmonious signature tune of change for the benefit of all.
Life is from the inside out. When you shift on the inside, life shifts on the outside.
Scientific research asserts that it takes only 25% of any population to think in a certain way in order to reshape an entire society. The idea that a committed few can influence the many and sweep away social conventions is one of the last bastions of hope for those of us who recognize the dire need for change. Adding one's thoughts, words, and actions, however seemingly insignificant, to that swelling percentage is vital work, driving minority opinion to reach the critical mass needed to reverse a majority viewpoint. It is an invaluable endeavor, the power of which should never be underestimated. As we come closer to these revolutionary social tipping points and our opportunity to change the world for the better, our representatives in government will modify their policies and practices to remain electable. With our own integrity intact, the integrity of leaders and representatives will follow.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
A plan of action emerges under this Capricorn full moon. Unless we develop and exercise our own integrity as a constituent part of our daily lives, we cannot expect the people around us to do the same. While we continue to seek benefits at another's expense, why would our cultural and political representatives do anything different? To ignore the mounting evidence of climate breakdown and the already significant suffering is to stain ourselves with the same manipulative, deceptive brush wielded by Boris Johnson and his ilk. Through their thoughts, words, and deeds, inveterate liars publicly renege on any semblance of integrity that doesn't suit their self-serving, delusional narrative. Should we stand accused of the same?
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.
(Matthew 7: 15-16)
Under this Capricorn Full Moon, let's commit to immediate integrity of thought, word, and action that can help provide a secure and sustainable future for generations to come.
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
(John Wesley, Founder of Methodism 1703-1791)
NB: For those unaware of the vagaries of the British Honours system, at the end of their tenure, each prime minister can submit a list of names they would like to see honoured by the monarch with various hierarchical antiquarian titles such as a knighthood, a lordship, or a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). These titles are then attached to the recipient’s name, i.e., Lord or Dame whoever, Sir John Jones, or Joan Bloggs MBE. The notion is that those honoured have in some way benefited British society during the departing prime minister's time in office. In practice, these usually go to staunch political allies and flunkies. Johnson was no different in this respect, spraying his favour liberally in Tory Brexit-supporting circles, but he did also appoint his personal hairdresser and dog walker to the Order of the British Empire for parliamentary service.
Man of the people our Boris. Great hair.