Natori Moore's
Soul Food Astrology: Stellar Recipes for Good Living
left logo panel
This Month

Join our
mailing list!

Tilting toward the Antipodes
By Natori Moore

On the occasion of the
November 2003 Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius

For all great adventurers
who reach beyond known worlds

The British were once -- and some might argue still -- one of the great civilizations of the world. Despite the violence, tyranny and royal begettings and beheadings with which their dominion was won, the English have nonetheless produced great inventions, literature, music, systems of law and politics and standards of weight and measurement. And of course there's the wonderfully civilized British ritual of afternoon tea.

Yet an English speaking person, no matter how far flung from the British Isles, may find it difficult to get outside the ubiquitous British cultural influence on the world to see from an alternative perspective. Such an alternate perspective might never have occurred for me -- an ever-proud but slightly Anglophilic American -- were it not for my happy discovery of the existence of the Antipodes (an-TIP-o-dees) Islands.

The Antipodes are a small group of islands roughly 820 kilometers or 550 miles southeast of New Zealand, named as such since they contain the geographic coordinates precisely opposite on the globe from Greenwich, England. We may be familiar with Greenwich, England as the point from which we calibrate the time zones of the world, but are we aware of the Antipodes Islands as its geographical opposite? For the British Navy centuries ago, travel to the Antipodes by ship was dangerous and the islands became a metaphor for any journey considered treacherous, foreign and extremely far away. In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick asks in jest to be sent on an errand to the Antipodes rather than endure the verbal barbs of Beatrice.

Awareness of the Antipodes Islands occurred for me as a result of taking a World Literature class. Our reading assignments included seemingly random texts from various countries of the world. Random, that is, until the day we read a poem by a New Zealander who got beyond the historic British colonial gaze toward New Zealand by boldly writing from a New Zealand native's perspective. A commentary on the poem explained that the Antipodes were the geographic opposition point to Greenwich, England. Suddenly, there arose in my mind an organizing principle around which the disparate southern hemispheric literatures we'd been reading -- Pacific Island, Asian, African, Australian, New Zealandic -- could turn. As England and the northern hemisphere has Greenwich, the southern half of the world has the Antipodes. Awareness of this centralizing geographic point in the southern hemisphere made these countries and their cultural expressions seem no longer so distant, disconnected or strange, as I now conceived of them as part of the same, albeit polarized, system. The word Antipodes, in fact, literally means "opposite foot." Though the term is defined in relation to the point at Greenwich, awareness of two poles -- rather than one -- is a start at global understanding.

According to South African astrologer Anita Noyes-Smith, a rising awareness of the southern hemisphere in the early years of the 21st century is as it should be, and right on time. The merging of the eastern and western hemispheres was a prominent political and sociological theme in the 1960s. Today, the merging of the northern and southern hemispheres in world consciousness is what's at hand. The northern hemisphere, long dominant in population and industry, must increasingly blend with a southern hemisphere coming into its own. Confirmations of this idea of an emerging world balance between top and bottom as well as right and left surface in intriguing places. For one, a political self-test at suggests an expansion of our familiar horizontal left-right political distinctions to include a vertical social dimension based on an authoritarian-libertarian continuum as well.

Discovering the existence of the Antipodes was, for me, like finding the Jungian shadow of my entire intellectual education. Said education had been unwittingly centered on Greenwich clock time and British cultural norms. As an astrologer, I'm still better at calculating and interpreting charts for the northern hemisphere. I'm nuts over Jane Austen, the BBC, Wuthering Heights, the Who and Colin Firth, among other British exports. Yet my history books were full of tales of occupation by countries such as Britain, Spain, France and the Netherlands in southern hemispheric countries -- pointing their cannons, invading armies and cultural assumptions at southern countries without being willing to listen hard for these countries' real needs or original perspectives in return. This attitude of imperial dominance, though still demonstrated by countries in the world today -- including my own, may with the force of the emerging tide of cultural and political input from the southern hemisphere be pressed to change.

People often travel to far-flung spots on the globe to witness solar eclipses -- on a Sagittarius eclipse perhaps even more so. Yet we don't have to go to the Antipodes Islands, reachable only by boat even today, to understand the Sagittarian concept of awareness of far away places, and to attempt to view the world from the perspective of these places. It's telling that the totality of this November 2003 solar eclipse is only visible from Antarctica, the southernmost point on the globe. The Earth ever strives for balance -- as its inhabitants learn to perceive from multiple directions and stand on both feet to create an even distribution of resources and power. If we continue, no matter where we live, to learn from the opposites in our midst -- opposites of both place and opinion -- we can successfully benefit from the idea of tilting toward the Antipodes.

1 Curnow, Alan. "The Skeleton of the Great Moa in Canterbury Museum, Christchurch" in One World of Literature by Shirley Lim and Norman Spencer, editors. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993.

2 Thanks to Jim Shawvan for this link.

Other Articles
Related Articles:
Steve Martin Gets Serious
Jay Leno: Late Night Comedy's Regular Joe
Star Quiz
other articles

Printable version of this article
home | this month | bio | articles | services | books | links
Return to index of articlesIndex of services