I’ve been doing my homework on New Orleans since moving here a little over a month ago; still trying to comprehend its deeper meaning in the grand scheme of human evolution; still trying to understand what this place may have to teach us as we approach our proposed due date in 2012 for the birth of a new species some are calling Homo Luminous.
As part of my research, I took a look at the sidereal birth chart for New Orleans, calculated from the date the U.S. officially took possession, December 20, 1803, and it became a de facto American city. On that date, in an official ceremony in New Orleans’ French Quarter, a representative of the French government transferred the city into the hands of the U.S. The French flag was lowered and the American flag was raised.
The chart shows four planets, Mars, Sun, Mercury and Chiron, conjunct the center of the Galaxy in the first twelve degrees of Sagittarius. All four planets are squaring Saturn. What this suggests, in a nutshell, is that New Orleans may have a special, karmic role to play in highlighting issues related to 2012. In particular, it may be destined to play the role of the Wounded Healer on a global scale during these final years leading up to the end date of the Mayan calendar. This theory is strengthened by the Jack of Hearts birth card associated with New Orleans in the ancient, Egyptian divination system known in modern times as The Love Cards. The Jack of Hearts is also referred to as the Christ card, embodying the energy of the Martyred Savior.
A picture of New Orleans has gradually emerged, over the course of its three hundred year history and now with sharper focus during the first decade of the 21st century, as a city of extremes, equal parts debauched and inspired, embodying both the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. This polarized situation is embedded in the very geography of the place. On the one hand, from a strategic standpoint, New Orleans is ideally situated at the mouth of the Mississippi River where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. For this reason, it was considered the crowning jewel of the Louisiana Purchase. On the other hand, the city is nestled on a precarious crescent of land, half of which is now below sea level, between a flood-prone river and a flood-prone tidal lagoon. To make matters worse, New Orleans is a favorite destination point for the extreme weather trajectory commonly known as Hurricane Alley, whereby hurricanes begin as seedlings from as far away as the west coast of Africa, gaining strength as they move across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Sea and finally into the Gulf of Mexico.
Viewed from the negative side of the equation, a case could definitely be made for the notion that New Orleans is a vortex for disaster, both natural and man-made. The indigenous population of the area that later became New Orleans was virtually wiped out by various European diseases that arrived along with Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Subsequently, Spanish and French colonists tossed the nascent, disease and disaster ridden city back and forth like a hot potato for most of the 18th century before finally handing it off to the U.S. in 1803.
Throughout its long history, New Orleans has endured much more than its share of misery and heartache. In a collective, urban version of the Hero’s Journey, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong here many times over, and the survivors of each new calamity have had to decide how to respond in the face of nearly unrelenting adversity. A century and a half of slavery created a festering wound at the city’s core from its earliest days with crippling consequences down to the present, including poverty, illiteracy, urban violence and de facto segregation. Massive, periodic flooding, caused by hurricanes, mega-storms and failed levees, has brought the city to the brink of extinction on a number of occasions. City-wide conflagrations have devastated the landscape and the people. Widespread yellow fever and cholera epidemics wiped out large segments of the population throughout the 19th century. And let’s not forget wave upon wave of often desperate immigrants who have made New Orleans one of the world’s true melting pots even while taxing its infrastructure and meager resources at various times.
In his recent book, Bienville’s Dilemma, Tulane University professor Richard Campanella characterizes the role of post-Katrina New Orleans on the world stage as “the ultimate warning, test case, metaphor, prophetic voice and inspiration” for the times in which we live. This describes the parameters of the Wounded Healer, or Martyred Savior, archetype to a T. Think of the Tower card in the major arcana of the tarot. From one perspective, the tower represents the human spinal column with its rainbow colored chakras lined up from root to crown. Lightning strikes the tower from all sides and on all levels simultaneously. The old, outdated structure is completely blown apart. A hurricane moves through town and washes it all away. An opportunity for something entirely new and inspired is inherent in the destruction.
What will be created in place of the old? This question has been passionately debated by the people of New Orleans (with neighborhood groups multiplying like rabbits), and to a lesser extent, the nation and the entire world, for the past five years. There is no definitive answer yet, but one thing is for certain, the creative juices are flowing here as never before. And for a city who’s dominant ethnic group, the Creoles, derive their name from the root word “criar,” meaning “to create,” that’s saying a lot.
(to be continued…)