When I was growing up on the east coast of the US in the ’50’s and ’60’s, “17-year locusts” were a messy, noisy pest. They were kind of like women’s menses, they came, they went, you ignored them, life went on.
I forget who it was that said that scientists are really the devotees of the Great Mother, but if you’ve ever had them in your life, you know that they are. None of Her creatures are beneath their notice, and now there is all this scientific knowledge about the significance of these bugs, and it’s all over the Web, and I love it.
For example, take this from the New York Times:
… For periodical cicadas, evolution favors growing up in sync. They can find protection from ravenous birds in huge numbers. There simply aren’t enough birds at any moment to eat a few billion cicadas at once.
This strategy has worked so well, in fact, that cicadas have lost their other defenses. They even fly sluggishly. When errant cicadas emerge in the wrong year, they are quickly eradicated by birds — along with their errant genes.
For a fast-growing cicada, Dr. Simon suspects, natural selection favors patience. “It’s better to wait till everyone catches up,” said Dr. Simon. As a result, evolution favors a long life in cicadas.
Only some of the periodical cicadas in the eastern United States are emerging at the moment. They’re known collectively as Brood II. In other regions, other broods emerge in different years. Last year, for example, Brood I emerged in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. All told, there are 15 broods lurking in the ground around the United States. Twelve have a 17-year cycle, and three have a 13-year cycle.
To study all these broods, Dr. Simon and her colleagues usually spend spring traveling around the country. (This month she’s heading to North Carolina to check out the southern edge of Brood II.) The rest of the year, they study the insects and their DNA. In a new study published in April, Dr. Simon and her colleagues reported that the common ancestor of all the periodical cicadas in the United States lived four million years ago. …
The study cited here, which I find highly interesting in general, is actually a detailed discussion of why members of different cicada species would switch back and forth from a 17-year to a 13-year cycle, without getting into issues of why such cycles would exist in the first place.
As a Jyotishi, it is clear to me why such cycles exist: this bug is Saturn-tropic (sensitive to Saturn’s 29.5 year period around the sun). If you add 17 and 13, you get 30, which is close to that period. It is clear to me that at some point these bugs got slowed down from a Jupiterian period of 12 years to this 13-year period, and then to the really long 17-year period that would be triggered by the Saturn return of the brood. The 17-year period has now become dominant because in recent ecological conditions, as a Saturnine (read “slowed-down”) organism, the longer you hide and perfect your development, the more likely you are to survive. So the Saturnine principle of delay and dragging development out through time has predominated over a direct realtionship to the actual period of that planet.
I am looking forward to further study of this bug’s genome, and in particular, can we sequence the entire genome, please? This critter is worth it, because I am sure that some of what’s in there is how and why life forms respond to the planets.
Just as a general observation, the reason why planetary periods don’t make ordinary sense is that the entire harmonic system represented by the planets is fractal. You’ve got everything responding to multiple relationships, and if you look at a one-dimensional element like a planetary period in and of itself, you can’t see why that period should exist. But if you look at the limits, it gets easy to see. For example, take the periods of the slowest and fastest visible planets: the Moon and Saturn. The moon’s synodic period with the Sun (what we call “a lunar month” in the vernacular) is ~29.5 days. Saturn’s orbital period around the Sun is ~29.5 years. Given those numbers, how can you try to pretend to me that what we’re looking at here is not a system of fractals?
Getting back to the case in point, here is other evidence that this bug has a serious relationship with the planet Saturn:
1. Harmlessness. This bug is not a predator. It looks like it should be, with its black body and red eyes, but that’s protective coloration. True Dnyan yogis, who also belong to Saturn, are the same way.
2. Renunciation as a life style. This bug is a great renunciate. It hides invisibly and in solitude, taking part in zero worldly activity, for unbroken periods of 13 and 17 years.
3. Pure Food. Through its entire life, this bug eats no solid food, living off of a pure diet of tree sap, which it experiences, quite accurately, as the Nectar of the Great Mother.
4. Meditation. Because of its Sattvic life-style, this bug’s meditation on the Great Mother remains unbroken for its entire life. The only reason it can’t go on the spiritual path is that, because its conscious mind is not yet complete, it cannot meditate on its self-nature which is Lord Shiva, represented by the planet Saturn.
5. The Periodic “Saturnalia.” Whenever this bug is actually seen, it’s a noisy, disruptive, sex-obsessed, hegemonistic niusance, and once it gets all of that genetic programming out of its system, it then disappears as if the whole scenario, and the usual world in general for that matter, had nothing to do with it. The fruition of spiritual practice is NEVER understood, not even when you’re only a bug.
Another thing that I would like to point out to those interested in spirituality is how far back your dedication to a particular spiritual Path is formed. When the as yet unindividuated life forms that are these periodic cicadas eventually attain the human form and become fully individuated, and then go on the spiritual path, they will find that the only spirituality that they are finally capable of is that of the devotees of Lord Shiva, or the Dnyani. This fact has nothing to do with the contents of their conscious human minds. This fact is rooted in their relationship to the human and animal mass minds, and beyond that, to their relationship to God, who is the one who conditioned them this way, long before they had conscious minds, and indeed it is said quite accurately by the Sufis that this is in fact determined by God from the first inception of the most primitive gas form that later evolved into that individual.
And the hell of the above, from a human point of view, is that the more you practice ANY Path, and the more experience of any kind you attain for that matter, the weaker your ego becomes, and the more you are necessarily thrown back on the particular Path which was yours from the beginning, and which you may experience, quite accurately, as something that really has nothing to do with you. The sad fact of the matter, from any egoic point of view, is that our spiritual Paths, quite structurally, cannot have anything to do with us, because they are from God. Our human egos are simply that by which God is veiled, and in the process, so are our Paths. If it weren’t for the Avatars, Masters, and Saints of God, there would simply be no way out of this double-bind for us. None!
Jai Meher Baba,