Jean Houston often took her dog on after-school walks down Park Avenue in New York City. One day, distracted by grief over her parents’ divorce, the 14-year-old girl accidentally knocked down a frail old gentleman. But he just laughed as she helped him to his feet, and thus began an extraordinary friendship. As she relates in her autobiography, A Mythic Life, Houston and the whimsical, erudite little Frenchman she called Mr. Tayer took walks together several times a week in Central Park, discussing everything under the sun. He sparked her mind by asking profound questions, and opened her eyes to exciting concepts about the nature of reality and the oneness of all life. In fact, he greatly inspired her later writing related to myth and human potential, in widely-praised books like The Possible Human.
After a year and a half of enlightening companionship, Mr. Tayer suddenly stopped showing up for their appointed walks. It wasn’t until years later that Houston discovered the old man had died. In graduate school, someone handed her a book by the great priest-scientist-mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, full of fascinating concepts that sounded strangely familiar. Only then did she realize who her companion on those strolls actually was.
It was a great gift, says Houston, to have met this extraordinary man at that vulnerable time in her life. “To have an elder call one forth in such a time of confusion is to stay awake and not shut down, as so many adolescents do. Because Mr. Tayer gave me friendship and stretched my mind, it stayed open at a time when it might have diminished or scarred over from grief.”
If you were lucky, you too had a teacher who cheered you on or stretched your mind. But even if no one stepped up for you when you needed it most, it’s not too late to shift your perceptions and change the story you’ve living (for tips on how to do that, read or listen to anything by the brilliant Jean Houston!)
The Gemini New Moon (June 3, 3:01 a.m. PDT) is a great opportunity to expand your mind. The Sun, Moon and Mercury in airy Gemini, sign of learning and mental activity, are all in orb of opposing Jupiter in far-seeing Sagittarius and squaring Neptune in mystical Pisces. In other words, the visionary Jupiter-Neptune square that’s colored the entire year (which will be exact again on June 16) is once more dominating the landscape. Mental and verbal energy are extra strong, and we have the chance to learn something valuable by considering different viewpoints. With Jupiter in retrograde motion, it’s good to look backward for answers, perhaps by taking a refresher course on something that was once meaningful to you or by reconnecting with those who’ve stretched your mind in the past.
When air and fire get together, however, there’s always the danger of blowing hot air. Carried away by passion, folks are apt to say too much or try too hard to make a point – whether or not their facts are correct. But the truth may also be open to interpretation now. As the poet Wallace Stevens reminds us, “Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around a lake.” It’s a sentiment that Teilhard de Chardin would no doubt agree with, fond as he was of perambulating in nature.
So at the Gemini New Moon, clear your mind by getting out into the fresh air. Find the truth that’s revealed in nature. And consider taking along a companion like young Jean, who needs the sunshine of your friendship and wisdom to help her bloom into all that she can be.