The coming week heralds the full moon in Gemini. The Gemini Full Moon is a regular favourite of mine, and I should probably declare my Gemini birth sign bias as I try, in this column, to objectively navigate the bewildering moral maze currently presenting itself to humanity. Charting an ethical path is particularly apt under this Gemini Full Moon. In common with all full moons, we find ourselves positioned between the perfectly opposed Sun and Moon, this week in Sagittarius and Gemini respectively. This astrological face-off creates an energetic tension that reaches its amplified peak under a full moon, the Sun’s powerful energy literally bouncing off the full face of the Moon (with its own particular energetic charge) to envelop Earth in the occasionally blinding cosmic crossfire.

The tension between Gemini and Sagittarius is therefore key under this full moon. Gemini is sociable, communicative, and rational, while Sagittarius has tendencies toward irrational, self-righteous hyperbole. We are therefore likely to find ourselves caught between arguing with indignation about something we passionately believe but know very little about and a reasoned detachment that could be interpreted as unopinionated or uncaring.

That tense Gemini/Sagittarius axis risks further exaggeration, as those appearing to be detached on an emotional or moral level are likely to wind up those already enflamed by the ‘correctness’ of their opinion to even greater heights of prejudice. And it naturally works in reverse; the more heated our self righteousness the more likely we are to be confronted by those capable of destroying our arguments, however impassioned, with cold facts and logic. As is so often the case at full moon, divisive thinking and behaviour reign supreme.

It’s not difficult to transpose these oppositions to the warring factions currently blighting the lives of millions and scorching the surface of our beloved planet. As discussed on previous occasions in this column, close examination and resolution of the conflicts evidenced in our own lives can be a meaningful way to minimise adding further pain to the well of collective conscious from which war draws its destructive momentum.

But, after that process of self-reflection, how can we set about adding consistently positive, creative contributions to the collective consciousness rather than merely preventing further harm? How can we fill the well of Love as a constructive, purifying antidote to the poisoned waters of hate? How can our very thoughts, words, and actions be employed to rebalance the scales of duality toward the equilibrium of peaceful and creative problem solving for the benefit of All?

I have two suggestions: mediation and collaboration.

Mediation is defined as the involvement of a third party in effecting an agreement or reconciliation. Between nations, this usually involves the diplomatic machinations of another nation. Between employers and employees, this might involve an independent arbitration service such as ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service) entrusted with fostering better employment relations across the United Kingdom. Between individuals, mediation might involve a relationship counselor or mediator to provide objective perspectives on overcoming seemingly irreconcilable differences. All examples of mediation could be said to provide a neutral space in which resolution, a form of healing, may be formulated-difficult to achieve in the isolation of subjective opinion. Under this Gemini Full Moon, mediation in any form may help us balance the prevalent extremes of detachment and self-righteous hyperbole and allow a freeing up of energy that can be more productively directed toward other, more positive, creative endeavors. This might involve the direct involvement of an impartial third party (often difficult to find, and professionals tend to be expensive), but in my experience, it can more easily and affordably be found in the ever-neutral natural world. It might seem a tad simplistic, but regular walks in nature can provide a less personally charged perspective from which progressive resolution may be initiated.

Hate is the enemy of a happy life.


Then there is the often misunderstood, maligned, and underestimated option of meditation or mindfulness. These age-old, very simple practices (a simple, practical meditation exercise is detailed at the end of this article) can help stem the incessant flow of reactive, distracting thought. Amongst many other benefits, meditation or mindfulness practice is scientifically proven to reduce physical and mental stress, decrease blood pressure, control anxiety, and improve attention span, but it also offers a welcome space between thoughts in which judgement and opinion are suspended, in effect creating a self-induced, mediated neutral ground of ‘no thought’ in which healing can occur. In many wisdom traditions, this incredibly effective process is also known as prayer-the conscious petitioning of and surrender to a mediating life force (however it may be named or defined) that holds an impartial but absolute understanding of the bigger picture in which we operate. Importantly, this Grand Mediator provides a unified perspective of the greater good in which we witness our vital role in evolution without getting too personally attached to the outcomes, allowing gratitude (another form of healing) to naturally arise.

Thy will, not my will.

(Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi)

As healing is brought to areas of conflict in our lives through any facet of mediation, we expend less energy maintaining the discord. We are liberated from the not so merry go round of victim mentality-the historic vagaries of who did what to whom- and can instead use the newly freed-up energy for altogether more positive matters. Revived and reanimated, we are inspired to work harmoniously alongside circumstance rather than perpetually against it. We align with All-That-Is to play our part in the bigger picture of evolutionary cocreation. It’s the grandest collaboration in existence; in truth, it’s the only one in town.

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

(Attributed to Charles Darwin)

And so to collaboration, my second suggested application of thought, word, and deed to effect unifying, constructive change in a world divided. As an artist, collaboration has always been attractive to me. Primarily, I love working with other people on creative projects. Occasionally, it has meant I have had to do less work to create something meaningful than if I had been working on my own. Sometimes it has allowed me to depend on others to do the stuff that I couldn't or didn’t really fancy doing myself. However, almost without exception, collaboration has resulted in work that has been greater in total than merely the sum of the individual contributions made. In my experience, something happens during a collaboration that activates a mysterious catalysing agent with an apparent vested interest in the eventual outcome of the cooperating parties. For want of better terminology, we might call what happens ‘magic’ or even perhaps ‘grace’ but, without fail, the alchemical process allows this enigmatic, animating catalyst to expand its beneficent sphere of influence and more transformative collaboration follows. I suspect the unknown catalyst might be Love. I suspect the process it activates might be what we call learning.

I like working with people. I believe change can only come through collaboration.

(Alain de Botton)

Earlier this year, I was thrilled to collaborate with the British concert pianist Richard Saxel on a performance of the Robert Schumann piece Waldszenen, (Woodland Scenes), a composition of nine individual musical sketches for piano depicting various European Forest landscapes. Schumann’s work has a clear narrative with a specific entry and exit point, suggestive of a long and meandering pathway through the various scenes and woodland experiences. Richard invited me to make artistic responses to each of the nine musical sketches, and I was delighted to give it a go, slightly unsure of what I might produce and whether Richard would like them enough to pursue the collaboration for public performance. I listened to Richard’s CD recording of Waldszenen on repeat and began to paint a series of nine abstract watercolour paintings, each taking a day to complete over nine days. Richard later informed me that Schumann himself had written each musical sketch on a separate day over a nine day period.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

(Vincent Van Gogh)

Fortunately, Richard liked the paintings that emerged, and we were both astounded in discussion of the work by how many visual and musical correlations I had subliminally created, particularly as an artist previously renowned for being “as musical as a pencil".1 The small watercolors were digitised and readied for projection on a huge scale, and we began to rehearse. I dread to think how many thousands of times Richard’s fingers had to hit keys during his perfect playing of the piece. I had to press the projector remote control button less than thirty times and still managed to get the timing wrong more than once.

We eventually performed our Waldszenen collaboration during an arts fundraising concert in which Richard played in darkness as enlarged images of my paintings were projected onto a cinema screen the size of a house. Each woodland scene was accompanied by its related painting, all at the touch of a button…. and a few piano keys. The audience feedback was very positive, and we have further performances of the piece scheduled for 2024.

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"Concert Pianist Richard Saxel performing Schumann's Waldszenen accompanied by projected images from artist Mark Weighton, September 2023."

I am very proud of the work, which, of course, was reliant on Richard’s musical virtuosity. I was very pleased with my paintings, but to see them projected at that size as an integrated part of the whole ‘live’ experience was a powerful and emotional adventure for me. The vivid watercolors augmented by Richard’s masterful interpretation of Schumann’s work and the presence of a receptive audience had created a viscerally emotive event neither Richard nor myself could have predicted or expected, and therein lies much of the collaborative beauty that unfurled.

Concert doesn’t mean standing up like a target in front of thousands of strangers. It means coming together. It means harmony.

(Gayle Forman)

In aligning with other aspects of the ongoing, creative process of evolution we can find ourselves working toward a common cause even if we have no immediate idea of how that will eventually manifest. In collaboration, we operate largely with faith in that common intent, trusting that the other participants will creatively exercise their unique abilities for the common good. This also rings true in our physiology. We do not question the process of breathing or the millions of intelligent reactions and decisions happening every second within the cells of our bodies in order to keep us functioning and alive. A grateful alignment with these natural processes, these tiny beings within our larger being, allows the body to be nourished, to heal, to grow and provide a vehicle through which individuated consciousness can express its unique contribution to the bigger evolutionary picture.

As above, so below.

(Hermes Trismegistus)

What a relief then to recognise our entire lives, physically, mentally, spiritually as the truly collaborative process that they are, every part dependent on every other. For the whole to progress every aspect must progress. For optimum benefit to accrue every aspect must share in that benefit.

Could we not then come together under this sociable Gemini Full Moon with the common intent of employing thought, word, and action in united collaboration for the benefit of All? If we can become even a smidgeon more aware of our interconnected nature whilst adding a modicum of mediating compassion into the conversational mix, we may find new ways to resolve old disagreements and heal past wounds. As wounds heal, let’s use any newly revived energy to unite in shaping a concerted, enthusiastic attitude for collaborative living, with others and our planet. All together now...

Every problem emerges from the false belief we are separate from one another, and every answer emerges from the realisation that we are not.

(Marianne Williamson)

A practical guide to meditation

As promised, here’s a simple, practical guide to kick start your meditation practice, should you fancy it. Recommended as you first rise in the morning or just before you retire to bed in the evening...or both.

Switch off the devices; no distractions.

If necessary, let others in your household know that you do not wish to be disturbed for a short while. Create a quiet, relaxed space with a chair in which you can sit comfortably with a straight back (option to light a candle or incense should you wish). (Wrap yourself in a blanket if it feels right.)

Sit with a straight back and concentrate solely on your breathing until your thoughts start to slow down. Don't beat yourself up if your uncontrolled thoughts keep distracting you; just acknowledge those thoughts, observe their origins, and swiftly return your concentration to the breath-quite literally, the physical sensations of breathing in and out and only this.

When the mind finally calms (5 minutes), i.e., when the gaps between thoughts get noticeably longer, a sense of spaciousness may be experienced. Explore it. Feel it. Listen to it. Relax into it and dwell in the spaciousness as long as it feels comfortable, returning concentration to the breath when thought intermittently arises. Don’t worry if the spaciousness doesn’t turn up immediately; it undoubtedly will with a bit of practice?

To finish, gratefully acknowledge that spaciousness as your own: a safe, happy, healthy, and, above all, peaceful space to which you can return at any time simply by focusing on your breath.

Return to awareness of your body, surroundings, and day to day activities, hopefully imbued with peace. You will have begun to savour "a love of already satisfied desire." (Albert Einstein) It's better than telly.


1 Manchester Evening News 1996.