Takeaways from Five Days on the Farm
“The world wants what you have to give.”
That’s my major takeaway from five days of doing readings and meeting the community that has gathered around Chenoa Manor, a non-profit sanctuary for rescue animals nestled in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia.
I was invited to Chenoa by its founder, Roberto Teti, to meet the Chenoa extended family, do astrology readings, and give a talk on my vision of 2015 as the opening of the Aquarian Age.
“Dr. Rob” is a sort of modern-day Dr. Dolittle. He maintains a veterinary practice, but his work with animals goes far beyond the realm of what we think of when we hear the word “veterinarian”.
Since acquiring Chenoa a decade ago and turning it into an animal sanctuary, Rob and his fellow Chenoa trustees have attracted 230 animals, many of whom would never have survived otherwise.
There’s Rhonda, the one-eyed turkey. As I was doing readings in the main barn, Rhonda spent one afternoon sauntering through the grass nearby in the company of one of the large tortoises who roam the property. Like an old couple taking in the sunshine, they ambled slowly along together, the tortoise munching the lawn while Rhonda pecked in the dirt. Each time the tortoise would lower his head for a bite of dandelion, Rhonda would peck along with him, then look over as if to ascertain if he was following her lead. I couldn’t tell if they were the ultimate cosmic Odd Couple or if Rhonda had decided to adopt him as her baby and was trying to teach him how to eat properly.
There’s Betty, the pig who was shot by a hunter’s arrow and survived. (When Rob was called to help load Betty into a van to take her for emergency surgery, he brought a rescue pig from the farm along with him to the scene of the shooting. “I thought maybe it would help her if there was another pig there,” Rob recalled. “Well, Sebastian walked up to her, sniffed her from head to toe, then put his teeth around the arrow and yanked it out of her side.”
“I didn’t find out until later that St. Sebastian was killed by an arrow,” he mused.
The Emperor is the alpha goose on the farm. He has a thing for the ladies. He stalked at least two of my female clients while I was reading their charts, getting close enough that I had to back him away with my chair. On one such occasion, he stopped honking, lowered his head and gave me a look I’ve only ever seen a dog pull off before. “I’m sad at the way you’re mistreating me,” he seemed to say. He then made a low whining sound, and waddled sadly, dramatically off toward the other geese.
You can read about some of the other animals and their stories here.
How the World Changes
Talking to Rob one day, I was marveling at seeing so many different species of animals sharing the same space, apparently unworried by the other animals. They seemed free, content, and vibrant. “I’ve never been anywhere like this before,” I said. “I wonder how many people have ever experienced anything close to this.”
I asked him if he had a theory as to why Chenoa works the way it does. “I think it’s because we don’t demand of the animals that they be anything other than who they are,” he said. “They’re free here. Free to be themselves.”
Chenoa continues to exist thanks to donations from supporters and the work that Rob, his co-trustees Heather and Adam, and a small army of volunteers donate to the farm. Saturday was “volunteer work day” and as I watched the volunteers interact with Rob, Adam, and the animals, I couldn’t help but feel that the animals and nature devas of Chenoa were giving back at least as much as they received.
This notion was validated time and again in my conversations with my clients. We are all seeking harmony, peace, vibrancy, beauty – and here was a place that seemed to say, “Soak it in. There’s plenty more where that came from.”
Rob had not informed that my readings would be taking place outside, en plein air. On the day we arrived, I did two readings in the main barn – which is open to the air on two sides – and another on the grass beside the barn.
My first reading started just minutes after we arrived, following a long day of travel that included a flight from Atlanta to Philadelphia, a stop at the train station in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up my colleague Morgan Rowe and her Home Is__ Project collaborator Gabriel Baron, then the drive from Wilmington to the farm.
I was hot, a little tired, and perhaps a little overwhelmed by the powerful energy of the place. And then, 20 minutes into the first reading, a massive goose-fight broke out right in front of my makeshift “desk”! Talk about culture shock. Two geese beating each other with one wing while trying to bite the other wing off as another dozen geese milled around them, honking and flapping…
Once I settled in to the rhythm of the place, though, I couldn’t imagine doing the readings anywhere else. Sure a rooster and Rhonda the one-eyed turkey would occasionally come and pull the plug on my laptop, but the energy of the place was so vibrant, my biggest challenge was trying to keep up with the information and inspiration that were flowing through me to the clients. And there’s nothing like hitting the really sensitive point in a reading and looking down to see a giant tortoise looking up at you or feeling Nevis the border collie snuggling up to you and putting his paws on your knee.
The best way I can describe it is that Chenoa is a place where the animals, plants, humans, ancestors, and nature spirits are all living in communal harmony.
And, perhaps not coincidentally, most of the people I got to read for at Chenoa received a deep initiation into the purpose their soul chose to pursue in this lifetime. The day before we went home, Morgan and Gabriel interviewed me for their documentary project. Gabriel asked me what I loved about astrology and I said, “The moment when a client gets it – and I know her life is going to change forever.”
Over and over, during my five days on the farm, I found that my clients knew what they wanted: they just needed permission to trust what their heart was already telling them. They needed permission to own their dreams and claim their desires. They needed validation that the vision in their hearts was not only allowed, but actively supported by the Universe.
And isn’t that what we all need? I believe almost all of us secretly know what our purpose is; we’ve just absorbed so many lies and so much shame along the way, we’ve half given up on our dream. And there’s a lot of pressure from the System, the Matrix, to keep us in a state of self-doubt, fear, and confusion. Because if enough of us choose to really follow our bliss and live as creators rather than consumers, then the Matrix must ultimately collapse.
Another thing that came through consistently at the farm is that we are the generation who came here to experiment with new ways of living. Many of us have lurched towards this generational goal over the past 15 years, often with unfulfilling results. But, the Cosmos is saying, now is the time. You just have to recapture your youthful belief that anything is possible. Before now, the time wasn’t yet ripe. But now it is.
This doesn’t mean we all need to start a farm or “go back to the land” and sing Kumbaya around the campfire together. Chenoa Manor is the unique result of a shared vision and commitment that has happened in a specific place with specific people (and animals and trees).
The grand experiment is for you to dare to do what you love and to connect with those of like mind who will benefit from your gift and who will support you in becoming more and more fully you.
This is how the world changes: not in some grand, sweeping, revolution, but in groups of three, four, twenty, or thirty people getting together and deciding to change their lives together.
This is Not the Sixties
I had not looked deeply into the symbolism or energy of today’s Aquarius Full Moon before my Chenoa trip. But as I move more and more into letting go of my old identity as astrologer DK Brainard and open myself to a new identity I might describe as one with Life, flowing for the good, I’m not surprised that the Chenoa experience happened to coincide with this energetic.
In his book An Astrological Mandala, the late, great astrologer and philosopher Dane Rudhyar equated the 8th degree of Leo – where the Sun is at today’s Aquarius Full Moon (July 31) – with a Shiva-esque energy of destruction. “The old order is confronted by the youthful drive for a new way of life and a new sense of values,” Rudhyar wrote.
Rudhyar’s keywords for this degree, CATABOLIC ACTION, evoke the image of a violent chemical reaction. I think of a corpse or a compost pile: in order for the obsolete original substance to be transformed into useful material, the chemical bonds of the old substance must be broken down. The old body (or banana peel or apple core) is attacked by air, water, bacteria, bugs – even fire – until the chemical bonds that held it together are snapped. Over time, a new body is formed, one that can be used by Gaia to grow new life.
But, as Rudhyar points out, there is a certain amount of chaos inherent in the process of breaking down the old. The revolutions of the last Pluto cycle wreaked a lot of havoc and brought a hell of a lot of needless suffering.
The mind recoils at the thought of more warfare, more bloody revolution. And: this constantly reinforced threat of terror and chaos is the primary instrument the System uses to keep us locked in the prison of our comfort zones.
The 8th degree of Aquarius, where the Moon is full, gives us an alternative to the bloody, destructive revolutions of the past world cycle. Rudhyar associates the Sabian image for this degree with mental archetypes: “We are at the stage of vision: new forms are revealed to the consciousness, as well as new ways of meeting people in social relationships.”
It’s worth stating once again that the period we are in is the natural evolution of the last Uranus-Pluto hard aspect: the 1960s. We are not here now to reenact the revolutions of the 1960s; our job is to build on the good that came out of that era and use it as inspiration to develop a new society based on the spiritual values that the 1960s generation brought into the mainstream.
We learned a lot about communes and communal living from the Hippies of the Sixties. It’s easy to look at the mistakes made by past generations and conclude, as the entrenched powers of the dying System would have us do, that “communal living just doesn’t work.” But I see the appropriate keyword for this symbol to be MODELING. While the styles and values of the past that the wax figures symbolize will generally not be appropriate for our era, we can still learn from them – and then go on to create our own unique models that future generations will, in turn, build upon.
Aquarius is the sign of the mad scientist, the mental revolutionary, and the eccentric inventor. It has a vision for the future that actually comes from the future. Aquarius understands that because the forms – the mental archetypes – that it is downloading into the world are so ahead of our time, the only way to get from here to there is to experiment.
In the Aquarian ideal, each of us – like the animals wandering the grounds of Chenoa Manor – is free to be our own unique self. Aquarius understands that we each have a gift to share and that we are all wounded and weird in our own ways. If we can just arrange society so as to emphasize the giftedness of each being and allow space for each being’s weirdness to exist without harming the others, then we can live in heaven on Earth.
Aquarius is also the natural networker of the zodiac, and in this we are abundantly supported in a way that previous generations could barely imagine. It is so easy for us to encourage one another. It’s so easy to find a group that shares your values. No matter where you live, you can connect through the miracle of instant global communication and support your tribe or reach out for support. And when your group of four people connects with my group of forty people and we now connect with this other group over here….before we know it we’ve created a micro-climate, a small but potent confederation with the power to influence both the economy and the culture.
And beyond that, Nature is always there. The plants, animals, and ancestors are rooting for us to do this. They want harmony as much as we do. And they are just as alive as we are. So we are never alone.
As Perry Farrell sings in one of my favorite Jane’s Addiction songs, “If you want a friend, just feed any animal.”