Anthroposophy and Astrology — PART 3: Mercury and Venus

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In PART 1 of the series Anthroposophy and Astrology we have discussed about the Horoscope, whereas in PART 2 we deepened the different zodiacs from an anthroposophical perspective. In this article we are going to talk about a very controversial topic: the inversion of the names of planets Mercury and Venus. For those not familiar with this issue, let’s jump right into it through this quote by Rudolf Steiner:

“Here I would like to add one thing, because misunderstandings have crept into the naming of the planets. In all occult nomenclature, what the astronomers call Venus is called Mercury, and vice versa. Astronomers know nothing of the mysteries behind this, because in the past it was not desired that the esoteric names should be revealed. This happened in order to conceal certain things.”

Egyptian Myths and Mysteries – Lecture IV – September 5, 1908

This is not the only time Steiner talked about it. Actually, there are many quotes referring to the same naming issue. I’d like to credit this important article by R. S. W. Bobbette that reports a huge list of Rudolf Steiner’s quotes about this topic. For the sake of this post we are not going through all of them, but if you’re interested check it out.

As you can see here Steiner is talking about the names of planets Mercury and Venus that were, at some point in history, interchanged. In his words, this was purposely made because it was not desired for the real names to be revealed. So Venus was called Mercury, and Mercury Venus. But why was that?

To understand the whole picture, the first thing I’d like to point out is that Steiner made a distinction between the esoteric (inner) knowledge of the Mysteries and the so called exoteric, outer knowledge. This is a very important aspect of the whole issue if we want to understand it correctly.

Mercury and Venus in the Copernican System

Now, with this distinction in mind, let’s take a look to the quote below. The quote is taken from the cycle of lectures “Spiritual Hierarchies”, and what’s interesting about it is that it comes with a diagram of the planetary spheres:

“You may be astonished at the sequence in which I have placed the planets [see picture below]. When the earth is here, and the Sun there, you would have thought that I should draw Mercury in the vicinity of the Sun, and Venus here. But no! For these Planets have had their names interchanged, in later Astronomy. That which is called Mercury to-day was called Venus in all ancient teachings, and that which is called Venus was called Mercury.

Thus, note it well, one does not understand the ancient writings when one takes that which in them is called Venus or Mercury for the Venus or Mercury of the present day. That which is said about Venus has to be applied to the Mercury of to-day, and what is said about Mercury to Venus. For those two designations were later interchanged. On the occasion when man turned the world system topsy-turvy, when the earth was deprived of its central position, the perspective was not only changed, but the designations of Mercury and Venus were also changed.”

Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI — 1909

Mercury and Venus — Celestial Spheres — Spiritual Hierarchies
A picture of the Copernican System described in Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI

The planetary arrangement in this picture is very peculiar. Here Steiner uses both the heliocentric model (Copernicus) and the geocentric model (Ptolemy) for the inner planets. As you can see the Earth, the Moon, Mercury, Venus and the Sun are drawn with both the heliocentric and geocentric orbits.

What Steiner is doing is starting from the heliocentric model that we all know. And he is arranging the planets in a specific position that makes possible the overlapping between this model and the old geocentric model. In doing so, he is suggesting that this overlapping is plausible. Honestly I don’t know why he doesn’t introduce the Tychonic System at this point, because what he is doing is basically describing it.

We are going to talk about it later as the solution to this riddle. But for now, let’s go back to Mercury and Venus. In the quote, Steiner says that “these Planets have had their names interchanged, in later Astronomy”. But was it really so? Did Copernicus inverted the names of these two planets? That would be something extremely well known by common astronomers because it has to do with the history of astronomy itself.

Physical Planets Where Not Inverted

To answer this question we can trust Dr. Elisabeth Vreede, first leader of the Mathematical-Astronomical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum. In one of her letters concerning the movement of Mercury and Venus she explicitly refers to this issue, saying:

“Now we can easily picture the relation of Venus or Mercury to the Sun in that they are both revolving around the Sun. In figure 7 [showing the Ptolemaic System] of the previous letter the deferents of Mercury, Venus and the sun, all of which rotate in the same period of time, one year, can be regarded as coinciding with one another. In that way we pass over from the Ptolemaic system into the so-called Egyptian [the System of Tycho Brahe!].

Copernicus also proceeded in such a way that he left out the deferents of the lower planets and transplanted the center-points of their epicycles into the Sun, and had Earth also revolve around the Sun. We can here incidentally make the remarkable discovery that in figure 8 the Copernican sequence of the lower planets: Earth, Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, occurs of itself; while in figure 7 the old esoteric sequence of Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, is adhered to.

Without going in detail now into the very complicated question of the “transposition of Venus and Mercury”, it can be shown here how it is that both Ptolemy and Copernicus call the same heavenly body “Venus” though giving it a different place in the sequence.”

Elisabeth Vreede – Year 1 – Letter VII – March 1928

So long story short we can say two things at this point:

  1. The Copernican System interchanged the position of the planetary spheres of Venus and Mercury (as seen from the Earth) compared to the old esoteric sequence;
  2. The inversion didn’t concern the actual physical planets!

On top of that we can say that taking one planet for another would have been almost impossible even by mistake. This because in ancient times they identified planets by their speed and not by their position.

Basically the ancient sequence of the planetary spheres was made taking the planets from the fastest to the slowest. The slower the planet, the closer it was to the perfect—immutable—world of the fixed stars. On the contrary, movement and change were a sign of imperfection, hence assigned to the Earth. For this reason the quicker the planet the closer it was to the Earth.

The Inversion of the Planetary Spheres

As Vreede clearly stated, the Copernican System altered the ancient sequence of the planetary spheres—not the name of the planets. But to better understand why Steiner said that Mercury and Venus where interchanged we really need to understand what a planet is from an esoteric standpoint.

Here’s what Steiner said about it in the cycle of lectures “Spiritual Hierarchies”:

“When the Ancient Rishis said the word Mercury (they did not use that word, but we take it as an example), did they mean by it the physical orb of that name? No! — even the ancient Greeks did not use it in that sense; what they meant was the totality of spiritual beings belonging to that planet. Spiritual world and spiritual beings were spoken of when, in the centres of secret knowledge for instance, the word Mercury was pronounced. When the disciples of that sacred knowledge spoke of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn pronouncing these words in their different languages, they expressed the gradations of spiritual beings.”

Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture I — 1909

And again, from Lecture VI:

Thus you see that in reality we do not find the outer spheres or dwelling places of the Hierarchies so much on the single planets as in the regions which are limited by the orbits of the planets. If you think of the whole surrounding space from the earth up to the Moon, it is filled with Angel-activities; and if you think of the spheres from the earth to Mercury, it is filled by the activities of the Archangels, and so on.”

Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI — 1909

Mainly, the Spiritual Hierarchies dwell in the empty space within the orbit of a planet, and not on the planet itself. For this reason when we talk about “the Moon” from an esoteric perspective we are referring to “everything within the orbit of the Moon”.

In the ancient Ptolemaic System (geocentric model) each planetary sphere—each heaven—was included inside the orbit of its corresponding physical planet. This because men were still able to have some experience of the spiritual realities surrounding Earth. The Copernican System (heliocentric model) instead was entirely based on mathematical calculations and physical observations.

Of course the heavenly spheres of the so called inner planets (Mercury and Venus) are difficult to determine physically because their orbits overlaps (see the diagram above from Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI). Nevertheless, this is necessary to reintroduce a model able to taking spiritual realities into account.

The Solution: the System of Tycho Brahe

As I mentioned above, in Spiritual Hierarchies (Lecture VI) Rudolf Steiner is basically talking about the system of Tycho Brahe. Just compare the diagram above with the picture below and everything will fall into place:

The diagram shows a possible representation of the actual solar system. It might be very complicated using it to explain astronomical laws, nevertheless it is very close to the human experience when we look at the sky from Earth.

It is a geo-heliocentric model, meaning that every planet but Mercury and Venus move around the Earth, whereas the internal planets move around the Sun. Of course Mars, Jupiter and Saturn don’t really move around the Earth! But from our perspective, they do.

I don’t deny it. This system is very awkward from a mere material perspective. However it’s a model that is able to bridge human spiritual experience with the current dominant astronomical model. That by the way is not only very abstract but also puts mankind in a sort of void, cosmic cemetery.

Now, what’s the only problem with the model of Tycho Brahe? The only problem is that the name of the planetary spheres (orbits) of Mercury and Venus—which corresponds to spiritual realities—are inverted!

So as you can see if we were to switch these names we would be able to marry the spiritual model with the material model. And if—as Steiner said—this inversion was made on purpose by the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, nowadays we could purposely switch them back, holding the flag of the New Mysteries.

In Conclusion

The literal interpretation of Steiner’s statements about the inversion of the planets Venus and Mercury is nonsense. It is based on the materialistic bias that a planet is nothing but a physical object orbiting in outer space and not a community of living spiritual beings (heaven or planetary sphere).

The lack of this preliminary distinction could lead to absurd theories. Taking blindly Steiner’s words many Anthroposophers believe that the planet Venus is actually Mercury and vice versa. And from that dogmatic perspective, quoting Steiner’s harsh words on Astrology, they feel entitled to trash the entire astrological tradition as rubbish.

This article speaks not only in defense of Astrology but also in favor of Anthroposophy that—freed from a dogmatic attitude—is able to bring a precious impulse for the renewal of modern astronomy.

Saturn Retrograde in Sagittarius 2017

Reading Time : 3 minutesSometimes the Universe wants us to be aware. And to do that we can’t rely too much on the outside world; we have to count on ourselves. The following weeks are going to be demanding, since today Saturn is joining the Retrograde Club. When Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Saturn are all retrograde things are not easy. This because usually awareness comes with struggle: it is the impact with reality that makes us open our eyes. But it is also true that we can’t learn the lesson always the hard way. And maybe, this time there is too much to handle. I know it’s wrong to generalize. We all have our own battles to fight, and the meaning of each planet strongly depends on the individual. But despite any particular interpretation, the level of emotional processing that we are asked this time is very high. We are challenged at the same time on our beliefs (Jupiter), relationships (Venus), sense of security (Mercury) and now also on our moral sense. Let’s see together what this Saturn Retrograde is all about. The ruins of an old church as a symbol for Saturn Retrograde in Sagittarius

Saturn Retrograde in Sagittarius

Saturn is a very slow planet. In fact, it is going to be retrograde for almost 5 months: from April 7 to August 26. This means that its effects are not necessarily going to manifest right away. Nevertheless, they will inevitably be felt. This is after all how Saturn usually works: it gives you all the time to get ready, but you’d better be when it hits. Saturn Retrograde in Sagittarius is about ethics and morality. We could say that it’s a sort of moralizing energy that easily turns into bigotry. Do you usually feel morally superior to other people? If that’s the case, this long lasting transit could be very important for you—as an opportunity. When a planet turns retrograde, it mainly affects us inwardly. In that sense, Saturn acts like the super-ego: it constantly reminds us our moral flaws, making us feel guilty for everything. The more you resonate with this behaviour (if you are a person who tends to blame other people, for example), the more this inner voice is going to torture you. It literally turns on you. The lesson to learn here is to be just. You shouldn’t judge other people on the basis of your moral standards without trying to put yourself in their shoes. Also remember that the way you treat other people is going to reflect on the way you treat yourself. I don’t usually quote the Gospels, but this verse makes the point quite nicely:
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Saturn Symbol

When will all this end?

Usually, I don’t like this question. But in this case I think it’s totally understandable. So, here’s the list of the end dates for the retrograde planets I mentioned above:
  • Venus goes direct on April 16
  • Mercury goes direct on May 4
  • Jupiter goes direct on  June 10
  • Saturn goes direct on August 26

Venus Retrograde in Aries 2017

Reading Time : 3 minutesVenus is going to be retrograde soon. From March 5 to April 16 we are going to see her moving backwards in the sky. In this article we will explain the general meaning of Venus Retrograde, as well as her entrance back into Pisces.

A red flower, symbol for Venus Retrograde

First off, Venus Retrograde. As every planet moving backwards, Venus Retrograde directs her energies inside instead of outside. This means she is mainly going to affect your inner life. This is a moment for second thoughts, because among other things Venus represents our judgment. And in Aries (where she is in detriment) she is not good. She is the cause of decisions made on a whim, rushed conclusions and self-overestimation issues. This because Aries simply can’t listen to reason and always wants to be right.

Hard Self-Criticism

As you can see having second thoughts comes naturally here. Venus stops (literally), turns and says: what am I doing? The first step of this process is ruled by a very strong Mars in Aries. This means we can expect us to be very hard on ourselves. That self-criticism will regard the particular House (area of life) affected by the transit—especially if we have messed it up. Just check 13° Aries on your Natal Chart.

My advice is to simply accept it. Everybody is hard on themselves sometimes. After all we need to be, in order to grow and learn. It’s all right. But if your Saturn (basically your super-ego, the voice of your conscience) is very strong, it may be distressing. So keep that in mind and don’t overdo it.

Overwhelming passion

Venus is of course the Goddess of Love. From this perspective, her transit in Aries (which also featured a conjunction with Mars) had a strong passionate symbolism in the last month. But was it maybe too much? When retrograde, Venus tends to second-guess her feelings: “Was it just sex? Am I really in love with him?”. To answer such questions is not going to be easy, since the passion of Aries clouds your judgement.

My advice is to just take your time. Let everything settle down a bit. Again, Venus stops because she needs a break. All this has been intense, maybe too much. Her personal boundaries are at risk, and she feels like she is too involved. Just slow down.

Venus Retrograde back in Pisces

On April 4 Venus will be back in Pisces. This is a happy ending scenario since she is going to be in the sign of her exaltation. We are talking about universal love and compassion, fueled by both romanticism and wisdom (Jupiter). This means that although in this process you will encounter many doubts and second thoughts, eventually you will be able to shed light on your feelings.

At best, it is true love. In the worst case it wasn’t, but you will be nevertheless able to clearly recognize your mistakes, to the point you won’t be angry with him (or her).

In conclusion, I’d like to point out that Jupiter is still retrograde (and it will be up to June 9). When both the benefics are retrograde, it can be a challenging moment, since we can’t count on them for protection. Still, we are definitely encouraged to transform both our belief system (aka Shadow Work) and  the way we judge people.

 

New Moon in Aquarius 2017

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JAN28, FULL MOON @ 9° Aquarius

Each new moon occurs in darkness—like a seed sprouting underground. The doors of the skies are opened and new astral forces can penetrate into the orbit of the earth. Every month this process happens under the auspices of a zodiac sign, which leaves its mark on those energies.

Let’s take a break from the Cardinal T-square. Yes—it is still there—but the upcoming lunar month seems to detach from its energies. Actually, we should say “from all energies” because the Moon and the Sun (always in conjunction on a New Moon) are not making any aspect. With no other planet. No one.

It’s like a month off, an opportunity to move away from it all—and just breathe. Sometimes January feels like it, right? Everything stands still under a blanket of snow. Nature rests, and it’s time to just observe in silence without acting.

Sabian Symbol @ 9° Aquarius

When I can’t find many clues about a planet or—as in this case—a conjunction I take a look at the Sabian Symbols. Their story is very interesting, so I highly suggest you to check them out. In a nutshell, they are 360 symbols related to each degree of the Zodiac. Modern astrologers often use them as an intuitive tool to think out of the box.

The New Moon occurs at 9° Aquarius. Here’s the corresponding Sabian Symbol commented by the great astrologer Dane Rudhyar in his book An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformations and Its 360 Symbolic Phases:

PHASE 309 (AQUARIUS 9°)

A FLAG IS SEEN TURNING INTO AN EAGLE

KEYNOTE: The dynamic incorporation of new social values in individuals who exemplify the spiritual potential and greatest significance of these values.

[…] All that is implied here is the vitalization of a powerful symbol, its embodiment in a living reality, i.e. in a person able to fly in consciousness to the highest spiritual realm. The archetype is given living substance and wings. The Image has become a Power.

I really like this symbol. The flag turning into an eagle means—as Rudhyar suggests—that what we usually consider as an ideal symbol must become a living being. The POTUS for example should embody the ideals that US citizens project on him. Ok, I know—please don’t laugh—I’m not saying that Trump is going to become that eagle.

We have already discussed about his inauguration speech. And—let’s face it—he is far from even resemble the ideal POTUS. But in my opinion it’s not important the way he presents himself. What really matters is what he is actually going to do. So, is he really going to make social justice? What do you think? We will see.

Lovers in the Sky

Venus and Mars are in conjunction. This powerful encounter—occurring in the emotional sign of Pisces—is all about love and romance. It tells a struggling story, though. The planets can’t reach each other (separating aspect), as Saturn gets in their way—squaring the conjunction.

It’s almost like the Saturnian energy (could be an authoritarian father, a stifling job, or the lack of money) is preventing the beloved (Venus) to reach the lover (Mars)—who’s leaving the country in search of fortune (he is actually about to change sign).

As you can see Astrology is able to depict in the sky human dramas that are able to inspire us all. Do you feel any connection with it? Let me know in the comments below.

Secrets Revealed

Mercury has reached Pluto. When the planet of communication is in conjunction with the ruler of hidden powers things get very interesting. There can be both whispered secrets and manipulative liesTwitter .

From a social perspective—since Pluto represents the financial elite—this can also be the beginning of an interesting dialogue with Trump. Nevertheless, the square with both Jupiter and Uranus do not bode well for the short-term future.

Venus in Aquarius: Free Love and Poliamory

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Yesterday, Venus entered Aquarius. This transit is all about Love and Freedom: two topics that I hold dearly, especially when they go hand in hand. There are many ways you can combine these concepts. To name a few: freedom of love, loving someone unconditionally, being free by loving what you do, and so on.

As a gay man, the most important in my life has obviously been freedom of love. As you may know I’m Italian, and my country has approved a law for same-sex civil unions only this year. Alas, we are far behind many European countries when it comes to civil rights for the LGBTQ community. Just consider for example that Spain introduced same sex marriage ten years (!) ago.

We still have much to do to fight homophobia in this country. For most of the people freedom of love comes free—they take it for granted—but for us it still has a price.

For example, in Italy is quite rare to see same-sex couples walking hand in hand on the street—even in big cities. It may seem an insignificant detail, but freedom is also expressed through small, spontaneous gestures. Most of us still feel uncomfortable to do so.

That’s why this law has been a revolution for us, perfectly attuned with the energies of freedom and progress flowing from the AquariusTwitter .

Free Love and Poliamory

Regarding love and progress, have you ever heard of Polyamory? It is the modern reinterpretation of the free love concept of the 60s-70s. According to wikipedia:

Polyamory (from Greek πολύ poly, “many, several”, and Latin amor, “love”) is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships where individuals may have more than one partner, with the knowledge and consent of all partners. It has been described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy”.

What do you think about it? Personally I think that the idea behind polyamory is perfectly understandable, so I don’t have any problem with that. Nevertheless, I have to say that in my opinion it requires a high level of personal development—on both sides—to be put it into practice in a honest way.

Let’s face it: people have the tendency to hide their weakness behind high idealsTwitter . Poliamory could just be one of them. And I’m not saying that all people embracing this lifestyle are lying to themselves. I’m saying that sometimes people don’t want to face what’s wrong in their relationship, so they label it in a fancy way pretending that everything’s alright.

So, is monogamy over? I don’t think so. I think we are going towards a motley society made—as a mosaic—by pieces of many colors. But I think Monogamy is more likely going to remain the main one. This because monogamous relationships are already hard—imagine how complex they could be just introducing a third person! You definitely need more than a good reason to do so.

And please don’t think that if you have Venus in Aquarius in your Natal Chart you can’t be monogamous! It just means that you love progress and modernity, and your relationship is going to reflect that, somehow. On top of that, you also need to put in the equation at least your fifth, seventh and eighth house to get the whole picture.

 

Venus in Scorpio, a Nasty Burn

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Sometimes life is wierd. Simple, everyday actions sudenly go wrong and you find yourself injured—stuck in a hospital for three weeks. This is at least what doctors are saying, and no—I’m not talking about me.

Last week my boyfriend had a bad burn, caused by a hot water bottle that blew up behind his lower back. I am still cursing that damn thing. How can an object so small and common make such a damage? I still can’t figure it out.

Burns are hard. They are probably the worst kind of injuries you can get. They loose liquids, you are exposed to infections and the skin is not able to regenerate easily by itself. It takes time—if not a surgery—and you need to be very patient.

Furthermore, hospitals are like holes in spacetime. If you stay in bed long enough they start to mess with your head. Daylight and night time blend together—eclipsed by articial light—while restelessness, pain and meds welcome you in Wonderland.

Apparently, this is burns time. The staff of this department is very busy because a lot of people get hurt trying to start stoves or fireplaces (guys, please don’t use alcohol!). Personally, I like to think that this is the bad influence of Venus in Scorpio which—when this blog is published—will be in Sagittarius. Let’s talk about it.

The Skin according to Astrology

In Astrology the planets ruling the skin are Saturn and Venus, which give us two very different perspectives on the matter.

First of all, being the Reaper, Saturn has power over all dead things. Furthermore—as the Guardian of the Threshold—he also rules all sorts of borders and boundaries. Combining these symbols together we’ve got “dead borders”. This is obviously related to the skin considered as the border of our body which—at least on the outer layer—is made of dead cells.

In regards to Venus, we can say that she rules beauty, as well as pleasure or—in this case—well being. All women know that a luminous and young skin is the secret of beautyTwitter —otherwise why bother with lotions and makeup? Our well being is seen by the skin, too.

Boundary (Saturn, earth element) and appearence (Venus, air element) are the two pillars of the skin according to medical astrology.

The Goddess and the Serpent

Scorpio is ruled by Mars and Pluto. It is the sign of death and rebirth, so every process of regeneration deals with its energies. This also applies to skin regeneration—just think about the well known metaphor of the serpent changing its envelope. This is mainly due to Pluto’s influence on the sign.

What about Mars instead? This fiery planet—the God of War—is the lord of all injuries. This is the main reason why the goddess of pleasure is not well here. Beauty and contentment are both sacrificed on the altar of deep regenerationTwitter that requires a blood toll. Ironically, in my previous blog I compared red wine to blood, just inspired by Venus in Scorpio.

In conclusion I’d like to say that I don’t believe that a single planetary transit is able to affect people in such a deterministic way. As you may know I look at the sky looking for inspiration, not for mass predictionTwitter . If you want to use astrology to dispel the darkness of an unclear event you should always—always—go back to your Natal Chart.

Have a good week.

The Voice of the New Moon in Libra 2016

Reading Time : 2 minutesEach new moon occurs in darkness—like a seed sprouting underground. The doors of the skies are opened and new astral forces can penetrate into the orbit of the earth. Every month this process happens under the auspices of a zodiac sign, which leaves its mark on these energies.

As always, October is influenced by the forces of Libra which carries balance, harmony and beauty. As the moon reaches the Sun it is impregnated of his vitality, ready to dispense it to all the zodiac on its monthly cycle.

The Lady of the forces of Libra is Venus—the Goddess of all beauty and mother of every contentment. I watch her transiting in Scorpio, thinking about how Nature is able to be so beautiful—even while it’s dyingTwitter . You can almost feel it in the taste of red grape berries, harvested to be pulped and turned into wine—it really looks like blood.

uva

As Nature begins to transform its vital forces, the world of men is inspired by Jupiter through a renewed sense of justice. I can see him battling in the sky with Mars which—in Capricorn—becomes the bearer of all individualistic actions. It’s like an epic fight between two opposite forces: sense of belonging to a just society versus personal gain.

We have all experienced this struggle. And it would be too easy to label Mars as the bad guy: sometimes the best choice is to do whatever is right for you regardless of anyone else—especially when it comes to survival. But we know that surviving isn’t living, and in the end we all need a place to belongTwitter . It really depends on where you are right now in your life.

And you? Which side are you on?

Personally, I feel like I am in the middle. Mostly I am focused on myself and my personal gain, but I try to always look at other people’s perspective. I don’t like to mistreat others or be disrespectful, but I am still at the center of my little world. And when I say little, I really mean it because in the end when you filter reality through a single point of view your experience can only be restrictedTwitter .