Monday, May 31, 2010

Still More of Osensei's Astrology

This last blog of this series will focus on what Ueshiba Osensei had to overcome to fulfill his destiny as the founder of Aikido. He was born on the full moon, which is a time of large energy therefore big stress. A constant in his life was the tremendous amount of energy he had to deal with.

His sun in Sagitarius, moon in Gemini, and his Uranus in Virgo form what is called a T square to Uranus. These are 3 mutable signs. This means he had a tendency to weirdness and rebelliousness. He could be unpredictable. High strung. Too intense for ordinary life. People with this T square tend to be a law onto themselves. Self-willed. Others with this alignment are Emily Bronte, Thomas Beckett, Winston Churchill, the spiritual teacher Gurjieff, and Jim Jones. His nervous system was high wired. He could be restless. Possibly too unstable to cope with the mundane. In other words he was ready to do something off the charts. Or to be totally non-functional in the world.

His Sun in Sagitarius is oppositional to his Moon in Gemini. This means his head had a tendency to argue with his heart. This could lead to health problems, which he certainly had. Also this could lead to relationship problems and could make him a spotlight seeker. Again, these are energies that were present and to some degree acting on him. Whether they were outwardly manifest or not is another issue.

His Moon squared his Uranus. This can confer great ingenuity and talent, but can also mean one can be plagued with misfortune that occurs suddenly. While in Ayabe he lost 2 sons to illness. His father and mother also died during that period in the 1920’s. His son Kisshomaru said that that period was so painful to his father that he never spoke of it.

His Sun squared his Uranus. This means he was inventive and original, yet also that he had tendencies to be erratic and eccentric. He was a true Renaissance Man, literally one of a kind. Blessed with flashes of deep insight. But this alignment further delineated his tendency to be rebellious.

His Mars squared his Uranus. This means he had a strong urge to act out fantasies and dreams. On a positive note that means he could do things other people only dream about. This planetary alignment could have fueled a strong escapism or a strong spirituality. It also could bring about drug and or alcohol problems.

His Venus in Capricorn trined his Neptune in Taurus. This means he could have been brilliant in music and/or art. His chanting of the norito(or sacred Shinto prayers) could be heard for miles. And he was deeply into the study of kototama. So possibly his music found an outlet here. His mother was accomplished in letters and wrote poetry. Osensei himself wrote many doka or poems of the way. And he left a great legacy of calligraphy.

His Saturn in Gemini conjuncted his Pluto in Taurus. This alignment endows a person with the ability to perform work that has a far reaching effect. And this is very obvious. Less obvious is that this also confers a secret or very personal side.

His Mercury squared his Uranus, which gave him the tendancy to a very nervous disposition.

So we see there was a lot of activity around his Uranus, which is the planet of individuality. One of his most important precepts is “Masaka Agatsu” or true victory is victory over the “I”. So we can see he had a lot to overcome. A tendency toward rebellousness. Possible escapist tendencies. Potential drug and alcohol problems. A very nervous disposition. So off the charts intense that he could very easily have not coped with everyday reality. Self-willed to the extreme. We are fortunate that he was able to universalize his being and in the end became a servant of the universe, teaching people to let go and surrender to the more original nature of themselves and the universe. This could very easily have gone in other directions.

And his Sun and Moon being oppositional probably means that he was constantly being pulled in more than one direction. And this, coupled with all his Uranus activity, probably means that for him to have forged the path that he did was no easy task, to put it simply.

He passed away April 26, 1969. Saturn returns every 29 years to the house which it occupied at birth. So one’s final Saturn return comes between 86 and 88. According to Andrea Mallis, he died just on the cusp of his final Saturn return, meaning that he lived a full astrological life. This is also probably a sign that he completed his divine mission.

I found it fascinating to go over Ueshiba Osensei’s chart. Since I started aikido in October of 1969, I never personally met him or knew him. So just going over his planets and their positioning and interrelationships gives me a sense of the person, as opposed to simply the archetype.. I never could have done this without Andrea’s help. She has gone over my chart with me and guided me through many other charts, so I have possibly a rudimentary sense of all this. I hope you found this interesting.

I am including a re-working of the Cupertino video. I have re-formatted it. I would like to thank Andrew Le for sending me quotes of Osensei, Carl Jung, Albert Eintein, and Leo Tolstoy. I intentionally included them in the video because Osensei , while he is far less known than those others, deserves a place alongside or even ahead of those. And by seeing his quotes alongside of those of the more famous people, we are acknowledging this.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More on Ueshiba Osensei's Astrology

So let us move onto more of Ueshiba Osensei's birth chart, focusing on his fixed planets at birth. His Mercury and Venus were both in the sign of Capricorn. This means he was sobre, goal oriented, and had a pragmatic side. He was clear and rational. Disciplined in his thinking. He could get unemotional.

His Jupiter was along with his Mars in the sign of Leo. That means he was expansive. Had a big sense of things. Bold.

His Saturn was in the sign of Gemini. This means he was a very hard worker(cutting all those trees down in Hokkaido, organizing the fire brigade in Ayabe, farming and raising not only food for himself in Iwama during the war, but sending the surplus to feed the hungry in Tokyo). Very Serious about things. Studious and bookish(also highlighted by his moon in Gemini). An example of a planet transit is that Saturn every 29 years returns to it's original place on your birth chart. This usually signifies important events in one's life. At 29 Osensei left to help colonize Hokkaido.

His Uranus was in the sign of Virgo. This means he had an original approach to work and at the same time brought very practical ideas. He was obviously a good teacher. People with this in their chart are builders(creating a unique martial art), inventive, humane. Others with their Uranus in Virgo are Harry Truman and Albert Einstein. This can also mean erratic health problems, which did indeed plague Ueshiba Osensei.

His Neptune was in Taurus. He was very practical. It is interesting that this also confers a tendency to be stuck on money and possessions. Others with Neptune in Taurus are Albert Schweitzer, Isadora Duncan, and Herbert Hoover. Obviously he transcended this limitation as he was definitely not stuck on money and possessions.

His Pluto(planet of power) was also in the sign of Taurus. He was driven by the need to do and build things. Others with this planetary alignment: Hearst, Taft, Lenin, Adler, and Van Gogh.

The next blog will focus on what he had to overcome to fulfill his mission as Ueshiba of Aikido. I including a video done earlier at the Hongu grand shrine located in the Shingu area:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ueshiba Osensei's Astrology

I've been meaning to do this blog for awhile. In late fall I had Andrea Mallis( do Ueshiba Osensei's chart. I guess the tremendous amount of energy around this has been gathering to where I am going to start. Now Andrea is top of the line. She does sports astrology and can often be heard on some of the KNBR sports talk shows. I asked her to do Osensei's chart with his birthdate(December 14, 1883) and birthplace(Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan), yet lacking his precise birthtime. Yet a pretty comprehensive chart can be done with just the information available. I have over the past couple of years found Andrea's council and accuracy to be very insightful and valuable. So I am going to start. And from this chart I found this to be very much the Ueshiba Osensei I felt I knew(through books and people who directly knew him) and at the same time I had surprising insights into areas that without the chart I would not have suspected existed.

His sun is in Sagitarius. This would make him religious and fun-loving. His moon is in Gemini, which means he was rather bookish about his feelings and tended to have a bookish side. Now these planets are fixed at his birth. There are also the fact that planets move, or that we go through various transits during the course of our life. In astrology it is important to realize this. Planets represent various energies. And the planets fixed at our birth give incredible information and insight in to a person's nature. Now he was obviously religious and spiritual. But his fun-loving side? He had a great love of adventure and in his native Tanabe was a legend around New Years when mochi or rice cakes are made and served. Giant mallets or hammers are used to pound special rice into mortars thus producing the rice cakes. Osensei was so strong that when he swung the giant mallet he would break the support used to make the mochi. This got to be such common knowledge that he was awarded a place of honor at these so he would not swing and break more mortars. He was very scholarly(his mother's influence?) when younger, reading the classics and showing a great interest in spiritual matters. He wanted at a very young age to become a monk, but his father would not allow this. So bookish. And his son Kisshomaru, the second Doshu, wrote about his father that he had difficulty in public showing any affection for his wife Hatsu. So the Gemini moon in further evidence.

Another important planet Mars was in the sign of Leo at his birthtime. This is a great sign for athletes. Mars is energy, assertion, aggression, which are vital for a top or in this case an elite athlete. And Leo is a very exalted sign to have your Mars in. So Osensei was blessed with having the astrology of an elite even uniquely gifted athlete. For comparison, Barry Bonds has his sun(also an important planet) in Leo. Other things that come with this placement, a Noblesse Oblige (Osensei was blessed with the fact that his family had money and his father was able to do things like build a dojo and bring in a judo sensei so that Osensei could train following the Russo-Japanese War, and he bankrolled Osensei's move to Hokkaido with what was estimated at the time at a quarter of a million dollars), a strong sense of personal integrity, and a highly competitive nature. Even though aikido is non-competitive and stresses inner development over outward victory, Osensei honed himself in life and death matches and encounters. For this a well-placed Mars was undoubtedly important and even necessary.

And his sun in Sagitarious trines(re-inforces) his Mars in Leo. This is excellent for athleticism(His son writes that his father by jumping in the air and grabbing his legs with his arms and making himself into a ball could go 5 feet in the air), physical strength(it is recorded that during one season in Hokkaido he personally cut down 500 trees and by his own account this was over 700). He possessed great will power. He was a winner. Again competitive, and aggressive. So even with his early love of study and spirituality he was not by any means just a philosopher.

I can see we have just touched the surface of this project. So more soon, including some planetary influences he had to overcome. He was not blessed with an easy life. And the completion of his mission entailed the victory over things that might not be evident to the casual student. So more soon. And sooner as opposed to later. I am including a video of Osensei in his later years with some revealing slow motion shots:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iron Man 2

I guess you see what comes first in May to signal in the tide of summer blockbuster movies. This year it is Iron Man 2. I was amazed how much I liked Iron Man in 2008. Robert Downey Jr makes a great Tony Stark. Larger than life. Flawed. At the same time human. I loved his recent Sherlock Holmes. And he brings that same combination of charm and the ability to sense then seize the moment to Iron Man 2. AS in Spider-Man 3, the main opponent to Iron Man is success and acceptance. Often a hero, such as the early periods of Spider-man and Batman must battle public opinion as to whether or not they are truly heroes. Here Iron Man has himself brought about a period of peace and stability in the world by himself being a nuclear deterrant. And of course nothing can consume you quicker than success. So it is a fascinating film about how Tony Stark must come to grips with forces that either want a piece of him(the government) or want to destroy him for their own ends(Justin Hammer and the scientist/villain Vanko). He must also deal with the fact that the power source that is creating Iron Man is slowly killing him. And we get more resolution about the Tony Stark/Pepper Potts romance, which takes another step forward. In the original Stan Lee/Don Heck comics she and the chaffeur Happy Hogan(I love Jon Favreau, I think his Foggy Nelson in Daredevil was great) were simply cartoon caricatures. AS the strip progressed she was drawn prettier and prettier until she became a love interest for Stark. Here she replaces Stark as CEO of Stark Enterprises.

Scarlett Johansson plays one of my favorite Marvel characters, the Black Widow. The Black Widow as I remember was originally a Soviet spy and therefore a villainess in one of the earlier Iron Man stories. She later got a connection with SHIELD and became a heroine. Being a '60's character she was strongly influenced by the Emma Peel character played by Diana Rigg. Her outfit became black leather combat suits. She began utilizing martial arts instead of super powers, also homage to Mrs Peel. She had a great run in Daredevil in the '70's where she and Matt Murdock moved to San Francisco and were a team. These were drawn by Gene Colan and were very very good. I always preferred her to Elektra as a partner for Daredevil. Ms Johansson does a good job playing Natasha Romanova, the last name giving the character a tie to the Russian royal family. She comes in undercover for SHIELD. Robert Downey Jr's line is "I want one." Gwynneth Paltrow refers to her as "an expensive sexual harassment suit about to happen". The martial arts sequences with her are part of a trend in films I don't particularly care for. Like some of the sequences in "The Dark Knight" they are speeded up and the movements are unclear intentionally to add an effect to the film. All her sequences are computer enhanced. Diana Rigg did a lot of her own scenes. My sense is that people might just begin to gloss over the martial arts in the way the media has begun to portray them. I don't know if anyone would think of taking up martial arts from watching the sequences in this film.

This film is seen as a trilogy, with 2 films now done. There is a Thor film coming out soon. Then a Marvel Avengers film. Then Iron Man 3. A good job so far.

I put out an quick new video on irimi nage. Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chetty's Lullaby

I fell in love with this song. It was sung in Italian. At the time a mother and her two sons were training. She taught Italian and I gave her a cd of the song and she was gracious enough to transcribe it for me. She translated it also, but I no longer have a copy of that. It was written, I believe, by Chet Baker for his son Chet Jr. with his second wife Halema, a beautiful Indi-Pakistani woman who is featured in some memorable William Claxton photos which made it to some memorable album covers. Even though it seems a romantic song it is a lullaby to Chet's young son.

If I were playing it now I would follow Marianne's very capable playing much better than I did two years ago. And the trumpet work is somewhat primitive by what I can do now. But having listened to it recently, I thought the whole thing works enough to present it. Today is the twenty second anniversary of the day Chet passed. He fell out of the window of the Prinze Henri hotel in Amsterdam. His death was somewhat mysterious. There is speculation he was killed. That he committed suicide. At this point we'll probably never be certain. And the original is available on youtube if you type in his name and the song's title. It is very beautiful. But his music is still alive and still inspiring people, and that is the point in presenting this. I had to learn the lyrics in Italian, which was challenging. I had to remember them. Which was hard. But then I memorized Amatsu Norito and Kami Goto in Japanese, and that is exponentially harder, believe me.

The performance was organized by Maurice Gregoire, who at the time was running the Peninsula Regent. Even though it was way to soon to do a gig, it had the effect of my learning some songs and continuing with music. Chet spent about 9 months in an italian jail, and , by his own account in his incomplete autobiography" AS Though I Had Wings", came out speaking fluent Italian. By the way, the book is an interesting read. Chet was a music major at El Camino College in Southern California, with a minor in English. I think he could have been a writer if that is what he wanted. Apparently he drove so fast that his pianist, Russ Freeman, refused to ride with him. And he told his wife Carol that if he could not be a musician, he would have been a race car driver.

So now we go back to late March of 2008:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

more local "Iwama" news and personal cinco de mayo

Things have begun to heat up concerning the potential aikido living situation in Boulder Creek. If any more are interested, please contact me( The more people we have the cheaper the rent would be. For more info please scan recent blogs.

Tomorrow is cinco de mayo. It was three years ago that I took up the trumpet again. I rented an instrument and went home(at the time the East Hills of San Jose) to try to make a sound. I was determined to try to play with an orthodox embrouchure(two lips instead of the upper lip and tongue I used in middle and high school). What possessed me to start again? It was that I was listening to the music of trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker. I started with singing along with his vocals, then I decided to try to play. That first session was very mixed and somewhat discouraging. But towards the end some notes from "Let's Get Lost", the first Chet piece I ever heard floated out and I decided to continue.

Some interesting and coincidental dates: Chet Baker passed away on May 13, 1988, so I started within about a week of the 20 year anniversary of his passing. Also, at the time of his passing he was 58, and that was the age I was when I discovered his music and started to play again. In the early to mid-60's Chet was the victim of a brutal assault and suffered the loss(or very severe damage to) his upper front teeth. And according to Artt Frank Chet also suffered nerve damage to both sides of his jaw. He was told he would never play again. He was local for awhile. His mom had a house in Milpitas and he pumped gas at a local gas station. It took about 3 years for Chet to make a comeback and play again in front of an audience. He was supported during this time by the friendship of Artt Frank, who has written a book about those "lost years" in Chet's life during which he made a comeback against almost impossible odds. Hopefully that book will be published shortly. I will definitely post information here about it in my blog.

My thought process was that if it took Chet 3 years to learn to play without teeth(he had dentures) then I could give the trumpet 3 years as well. So three years to learn how to play. It has been a fascinating journey. I've had a few friends and students to play along with. I've had wonderful advice and encouragement from Artt and his wife Lisa, as well as their friend Lucille. Mainly it is about self-exploration and self-expression. I think the recent "Isn't It Romantic?" is very good. My technique and ability to follow music needs work. But in terms of expressing an inner lyricism, and, as Artt puts it, "Being able to tell my story", I feel good. So I'll go for another 3 years and see if I get any closer to being able to play like Chet. And I don't seek to copy him. But he himself was strongly influenced by a Miles Davis album "Birth of the Cool". And he himself said while he didn't copy Miles, in listening to it he found who he was. So that is my intention around Chet and his music. There is something behind the lyricism, the legendary cool and the same time the emotional fragility and vulnerability he expresses that awakens something in me.

Now the next part is very subjective. It is my sense, and I do not wish to offend anyone with what I say. Along with my sense of Ueshiba Osensei's aikido, I think Chet Baker's sound and music are unique. I believe his sound double helixes, just like Ueshiba Osensei's movement and chanting. I believe he was a very original soul very much in touch with the soul's original creative power. I think music just came to and through him. I feel he played from a place very close to what Ueshiba Osensei called the "divine realm". And being such an original soul so close to what we may call the source energy, I think he found it very difficult to be here in this world so dominated by thought form energy(war, winning, control, fear are major thought forms that tend to control the world). But he brought into being music that is still very unique. He is categorized by many as an exponent of the cool jazz(or west coast jazz) of the '50's as if he never moved past that. Yet his lyrical magic and the fact that when he free formed his compositions were often times much better than the standards he played are often overlooked by people who simply categorize him as a certain type of jazz player from a certain era. I told Artt Frank that I think of him as pure magic, that maybe given more time or slightly different circumstances to his life and that he could have been curing cancer with his playing.

The video below is from youtube and is the First Chet piece I ever heard. It is one of his most famous. Notice the emotion that his airy and almost effortless vocal style can create. How it can take you to another world. And the second of his trumpet solos is brilliant.Every once in awhile I get up the nerve to play try to play it along with him. Enjoy!