Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The End of the Reign of the Sagittarians

This week ended the month of Sagittarian birthdays that rolls around every year, and reminds me each time of how Sagittarians have shaped my life, for better and worse. I seem particularly prone to tangles with these folks, and this may seem ungrateful, but I feel that people should have a little 411 on how to deal with the quirks of people born under this strange and lonely star. I will try to be generous, for the sake of the Sag teachers and peers who have taught me so much about myself. But I won't candy coat-- these people are armed with some powerful barbed arrows and they run with scissors.


Sag affirmation: I know.

Sag people and their relationship to astrology: They dislike or distrust it as superstition, but often know a surprising amount about it. In fact, count on these folks to know a lot of esoterica about things they are skeptical about. They are interested in exact rightnesses and wrongnesses, abstract truths, but will retain amazing scraps of knowledge (and half-truths, and groundless suspicions) to compose their absolute black and white sweeping generalizations. Purely for the shits and giggles they will retain any and all kinds of information and postulate away to their hearts' content. I'm not saying they color the truth with their own opinions. Their own opinions are their absolute truths. Theirs don't need to be your truths; they appreciate the challenge of skeptics. They are strangely confident about their self-constructed realities. Take it as either absent-minded-professorism, child-like self-absorption, or independent thinking.

The Sag Lightbulb Joke: Q. How many Sagittarians does it take to change a lightbulb?

A. I don't know, I'll let you know when I get back from India.

Sagittarians tend to react to negative feedback from superiors or loved ones by traveling, or retreating deeply into their work. Sharing feelings and confrontation about emotional hurts are easily avoided this way. With Sagittarians, PROCESSING IS PUNISHMENT. They know their capacity to talk before thinking and accidentally hurt people, so any processings must - in their minds- be about faulting them about things they unintentionally did wrong. It's just a nightmare for them to be wrong.

A Phrase I Saw in A Movie That Makes Me Think of Sagittarians: "From gaol [jail] to the throne, he travels fastest who travels alone." (Seen written on a mirror in a background of some 30's Marlene Dietrich movie.) (Marlene was a Dec. 27 Capricorn, by the way.)

The Archetypes and Tarot Cards I Associate with the Sag:

Young/ immature type: Satyr -- tarot card: 0 The Fool-- adventure, carelessness, sponteneity, generosity, optimism.

Adult type: Centaur / Hunter-Archer -- tarot card: 1 The Magician-- Hephaestus experimenting at his forge, the "I wonder what will happen if I mix this and that" attitude.

Mature/ elderly type: The Hermit on the Hill -- tarot card: 9 The Hermit-- the mad scientist in his/her library reading alone by a single lantern, the spiritual seeker-of-truths-within, the teacher of inquiry and skepticism.

OK, now the Care and Handling part of the 411. SOME SAGITTARIAN FOIBLES:

The Sagittarian's Achilles' Heel: All of the Sag archetypes are prone to Foot in Mouth Disease.

It is almost a phobia for Sagittarians to simply not know something, and risk being thought to be stupid, or without an opinion, so they will habitually talk and THEN think. They will take a perceived accusation of Not Knowing Something personally, on very little pretext, and then often confirm how little (or much) they know as quickly as possible. The wise, balanced, and well-therapized Sagittarian takes this little adage to heart: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt," (Voltaire). My father, a Sag, will scamble to add his two cents of wisdom on any topic, even with specious sources (like NPR), even weighing in against eyewitnesses to an event. Sometimes he is so childlike and self-absorbed in his eagerness to be thought smart in trivial arguments, that if he wasn't so smart (in fact) one might think he was retarded. How do you get through to a Sag who spinning her/ his wheels trying to prove themselves right? My mother pokes and tickles my father to get him out of a spin. I try to make my grandmother (a Sag) to laugh to get her out of her spin. Do anything to let them know that you do not consider them a criminal for not knowing, reaffirm your belief in their good intentions and innocent (child-like, immature, self-absorbed) natures. Tickling may not work with your coworkers, however. Try making a small, limited (easy) inquiry that will be a slam dunk for them, so they can rebuild their self-confidence with you. Move on, they are attracted by movement. Just be direct if you can-- "if you don't know what's wrong then I won't bother telling you" won't work here.

Supersensitive people who can't handle a rough-and-tumble verbal tet-a-tet shouldn't tangle with a belligerent Sag. They tend to privately dismiss (watch them delete delete delete your words as you are talking, changing the subject as soon as you pause) those who contradict them, even if they don't say as much as a peep of argument. But trust that they will think about your point of view later. They want to know about it, because at their heart's heart, they do want to KNOW everything.

Cooking with Sagittarians: Beware their concoctions: smell, ask what is in it, THEN taste.

The Centaur hunter/mad scientist is more concerned with expediency than flavor. I have heard about a Sag adding tequila to a bloody mary mix, just to save a trip to the store. My father steamed up our house for days boiling down sap from Box Alders, abundant on our property but a poor cousin to the real thing, the Sugar Maples. He yielded about half a pint of super sweet syrup that nobody would use. This was to save the money we would usually spend on locally made, flavorful REAL maple syrup. The jar was faithfully taken out by him, and the mold boiled off, until he had -- all by himself-- eaten the entire disaster over a course of years. My grandmother (a Sag) wanted to use up some old dried goods, so she added a cup of powdered milk and a cup of Ovaltine to three packets of Swiss Miss cocoa mix, which she then served to an unwitting collection of guests who she was sure wouldn't notice the taste. If she doesn't ask, and nobody says anything, then she is sure her meal-experiments were fine.

She uses this same philosophy with family members who might be sick, hurt, or angry (even if she isn't the culprit). If they don't loudly and directly complain, then things are obviously GREAT. Can you believe she's a practicing minister? The cobbler's kids have no shoes, the minister's kids and grandkids have no nurturing.

You can often find Sagittarian-Americans who are left to their own devices for a meal eating while standing, lost in thought, staring out a window, spooning up cold leftovers that should probably be heated out of the pot in which it was originally cooked. I'm not saying they are uncivilized, just preferring expediency to flavor. In these experiments they can seem "unburdened by the thought process" -- but more accurately they are "unburdened by consideration of anyone else's thought process."

I do know one Sag, a teacher of mine, who is a remarkable, if expedient, cook. Once she wrote a healthy vegetarian cookbook, making a lot of experimental concoctions along the way. Her brown bread is a solid German rye she calls The Wings of Life, which my family calls The Wings of Death: each small loaf is five pounds of solid bread product. If you threw it at someone it could be considered assault with a deadly weapon. But it has a lot of protein, it is simple to make, it doesn't harm the planet, it's EXPEDIENT.

In Summary: Sagittarians make good leaders in group models where practical analysis is more important than consensus, such as in the exact sciences. Sags might be heard to say "This is not a consensus, there is a right answer here." If you love touchy feely gray-area types of relationships, thought-processes, or philosophies, don't expect support from the Sag, but be as open as you can be to their (often cutting) insights: they do have vision and it can put murky situations into high black/white relief, and it is based on knowledge. Just CHECK THEIR SOURCES before you stake your life savings on their stock tips. The real world is a strange place to the Sag, it is their playground, their science lab, and their library. Give the Sag enough space to think and formulate opinions, and s/he can be your best teacher.

I could go on- but I think it's time to watch another Judy Holliday movie. Coming soon on this blog: Celebrating the Greastest Holliday, the smartest dumb blonde in all of 1950's Hollywood.


A Correction and An MP3 Link for Cypher in the Snow.

In my blog the other day, I wrongly referred to the music of Cypher in the Snow as "punkabilly." The band's banjo player my friend Lala reminded me of their real sound (which I haven't heard since their live shows of the late 90's) with this no-frills link to a page of high-quality MP3s of songs from their album Blow Away The Glitter Diamonds Stolen From The Crown. If you bought the CD it included a real treasure map. Have a listen: they are obviously not punkabilly but circus-punk.