Saturday, December 30, 2006

THE PERSONAL GALACTIC CENTRE

It is not easy having an outer planet make a hard aspect to an inner planet, as it requires us to acknowledge and integrate a dimension from outside of the ordinary personality. But it is also part of what life is about, for if we do not have such aspects natally, we will sooner or later meet them by transit. Life requires us continually to transform ourselves and to connect with dimensions outside of our immediate, perhaps narrow, interests.

We are helped in this process by the fact that the outer planets are at least part of our solar system; they are gods that we can recognise through the stories about them. They are like us as well as being ‘Other’.

But when it comes to the Galactic Centre, there is no such overlap. The GC represents the evolutionary impulse within matter-consciousness in its widest yet most direct form. It is the force within the universe that makes all forms of life feel the urge to grow and unfold. And having it aspecting a personal planet is like being directly connected to a nuclear power station, without the usual series of steam turbines, transformers etc that make its energy usable by ordinary household appliances.

So if you can work with the energy of the GC, amazing things with wide significance will be achieved – after all, it is the evolutionary energy of the whole universe that one is being plugged into, so a wider significance is inevitable. On the other hand, it is also hard not to also be driven a little bit crazy by it. I think that George W Bush is a good example. For now I want to stick to 4 degree conjunctions and oppositions, but I’m going to make an exception in the case of GWB. His nodal axis is at 20.35 Gemini-Sag, and his Galactic Centre is at 26.07 Sag.

The thing about Sagittarians is that they are prone to feel that God is speaking through them anyway, even without the Galactic Centre getting involved, so I think the GC intensifies this possibility. With Gemini (North) - Sag (South) Nodes, it is easy (South Node) to feel you are the voice of God, and the lesson (North Node) is to bring in discriminating awareness (Gemini). With the GC sitting there, the lesson is that much harder. For GWB, who has a weak Sun – in the 12th House and square to Chiron – it is very difficult for him to sustain his individuality in the face of what he feels to be God speaking through him.

Saddam Hussein was executed this morning at just before 6am (local time) in Baghdad. The ASC was at 21 Sag, straddled by Mars at 17 Sag and Pluto at 27 Sag – an appropriate signature for a violent (Mars) death (Pluto). And there is George Bush’s nodal axis running along the ASC-DESC axis of the death chart. The Galactic Centre, of course, is involved as well, sitting next to Pluto at 27 Sag – less than a day after the exact conjunction, which only occurs every 240 years. And Saddam’s death has been a direct result of George Bush’s decision, or rather his directions from God, to invade Iraq.

There is a further connection with GWB’s chart, in that both have a Mercury-Pluto conjunction just below the ASC – in Bush’s case, I have always thought that it is this that has given him his ready association with death while in office, whether as governor of Texas or President of the USA.

To give a more positive example of the Galactic Centre in a chart, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet was born on 8 June 1955, with North Node at 26.21 Sag, and GC at 26.14 Sag (he also has Mercury opposite at 28.07 Gemini). I think that a characteristic of the GC in a chart is that one’s actions are connected to the Collective and can have a profoundly progressive, evolutionary effect on a wide scale. Which Berners-Lee has achieved through his invention of the Internet.

And which Neil Armstrong achieved through being the first man on the Moon. He has Moon (of all planets!) at 25.24 Sag conjunct GC at 25.53 Sag. Note the tightness of the conjunctions in this case and in the case of Berners-Lee, and how central to our culture their achievements have been. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, has DESC at 26.44 Sag, less than a degree off the GC at 25.53 Sag.

A few other figures with conjunctions to the GC are: Steven Spielberg (Sun 20 minutes off GC), Rupert Murdoch (Moon 1½ degrees, ASC 5½ degrees off GC), Tiger Woods (Moon 4.08 degrees, IC 2.34 degrees off GC), Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross (MC 4.13 degrees off GC), Billy Graham (Moon 3.03 degrees off GC).

Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma Bomber, had DESC within 31 minutes of the GC, as well as Moon, Uranus and Pluto more widely square the GC. He was at war with the government, and seems to have lived in a fantastical, extremist way, consistent with a personality unable to handle the extremely high voltage of the GC.

David Cameron, the leader of the UK Conservative Party, has his IC within a couple of degrees of the GC. We have yet to see what he will achieve, but being one of the 1960s Uranus-Pluto generation, and with it (widely) square to his GC, he has the capacity to creatively lead the UK through the testing times that the upcoming Uranus-Pluto square seem to portend – that is, providing he doesn’t identify himself too much with the outer planet/GC energy that is working through him. (Winston Churchill, a Conservative leader who certainly led Britain through testing times, had IC within 5 degrees of the Galactic Centre).

Prince William, 2nd in line to the British throne, has his ASC and Neptune within a degree of the GC, and his Sun opposite the GC within 3½ degrees. His Moon is more widely opposite it. So, however he turns out, he seems destined to be deeply involved in the events of his time: he won’t be just an irrelevant anachronism, another perfectly feasible outcome for a British king.

Of the people I know with close conjunctions to the Galactic Centre, I have noticed in a number of them what could technically be called a wonky connection with the bigger, wider issues of life: they are strongly connected to that dimension, but they also tend to become identified with it and make pronouncements around it that are simply wrong! One person I know of has Sun conjunct GC, and has spent the last 30 years as the leading disciple within a religious group. He’ll make pronouncements about anything, and takes what he says terribly seriously, but it’s all based around quite a skewed and limited view of human nature. Another person, with GC conjunct ASC, gets grandiose visions around what she can achieve – but then, to her credit, realises what she’s been doing when she falls flat on her face. Until the next time!

So with the GC conjunction, I think there tends to be an unusually strong energy running through people that means they can achieve a lot, for better or for worse, and that at best can profoundly advance whatever collective unfoldment humanity is going through. In a personal chart, where it is strongly aspected, I think there can also be a need to separate out, and become discerning of, what seems to be the ‘voice of God’ within oneself. Because the GC can be very destructive if it is operating unconsciously.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

GALACTIC CENTRE: 4TH POSTING

It’s easy to feel pummelled by superlatives when reading about the astrology of the Galactic Centre, so I thought I’d begin my latest G.C. blog by comparing it to an onion. The G.C. is a black hole, an incredibly massive body about which we can access no information. It is a singularity, but out of singularities unfold galaxies and universes, which eventually collapse back into singularities: the journey of matter-consciousness over billions of years.

Which is a bit like an onion, the essence of which, the bulb, lives out of sight underground. But every year it unfolds into a plant – the universe – and eventually the plant/universe dies back into the bulb. But the bulb is enriched by its experience of unfoldment, it grows as a result. And who knows what sort of enrichment matter-consciousness goes through in its long journey from singularity to universe and back again. All we know is that some sort of enrichment, some sort of learning DOES go on. We know this because we have the experience of learning in our individual lives.

I don’t think that matter and consciousness can be separated. If we arrange matter in a certain way, then what we recognise as life is also present. If we synthesise some DNA, and put the right sort of gloop around it, there will be observable life or consciousness there. We KNOW this, it is not speculative or a belief. Logically, therefore, we have to say that consciousness is an inherent quality of matter, all matter, and that consciousness becomes more sophisticated and can even start to come to know itself as its material counterpart, the ‘body’, develops.

Evolution seems to show us that there is some sort of urge to unfold in matter-consciousness. I don’t think that the fact of evolution can be argued with. There is too much evidence for it. The mechanism for evolution is another matter. That does not seem to be well understood, and personally I think there is much more to it than natural selection combined with random mutations. I think, for example, that the urge to unfold and know itself that is inherent in matter-consciousness, and which is probably not scientifically measurable, also plays a large part.

Certain things are outside the remit of science. If you have an emotion, say anger, this can be described in terms of chemical pathways in the brain, electrical impulses and behaviour. But what it actually FEELS like to experience anger can never be described by the scientific method. Science can describe very well the objective, measurable correlative to a subjective experience, but it can never get near that subjectivity. It can never, in other words, get near the most important thing of all, which is the experience of being conscious, of having a body and emotions and feeling alive. Describing that needs to be left to the poets.

And I think that the urge to unfold belongs to this subjective but essential realm, which is present even in apparently inanimate stardust.

So to return to the onion metaphor, the Galactic Centre is the bulb beneath our feet, and we are the plant. It is our origin and source, and as such we will have a natural feeling for it, remote maybe, for it is perhaps billions of years since we were last in that form. It is like a distant bell sounding, or a sense of something that we only distantly recognise but which nevertheless sustains us.

In this sense the Galactic Centre has an affinity with the planet Neptune, the ‘womb’ of consciousness from which we arose and to which one day we will return. The G.C. also naturally provokes wider questions of purpose and meaning, and as such also has an affinity with Jupiter. Being an immense but hidden source of power – its existence can only be deduced – the Galactic Centre is also connected to Pluto.

The Galactic Centre introduces a new level of unknowability into astrology. The inner planets such as Mercury and Mars can, to some extent, be known as part of our conscious endowment. The outer planets – Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto – can be known to some extent, but they are more like gods we have to honour and collaborate with, and whose purposes we can only know in a limited way. At the same time, there are plenty of myths and stories around these gods, so we can know them as characters. The Galactic Centre, however, cannot be known at all. It is not a god with its own legends. Being a singularity, anything we try to say directly about it is not true. We can say what it is not – it is beyond time and space etc – but apart from that we can say nothing. It is the ‘Great Mystery’ at the heart of things, of which to some extent the outer planets also partake.

The Galactic Centre also points to the beginning and end of astrology itself. Before the G.C. we had the Sun, Moon and planets performing endless cycles around the earth (motion is relative, so it is just as true to say, albeit more complicated, that the Sun goes round the earth as to say the earth goes round the Sun: importantly, it is closer to our actual experience.) The G.C. puts astrology itself in the context of a larger cycle, the great inbreaths and outbreaths of singularities, in which galaxies are born and die. This makes our astrology relative and temporal, expressive of eternal truths yes, but in a particular form that will one day be swallowed up, allowing new gods to be born.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

THE GALACTIC CENTRE AND AMERICAN POWER

In her blog of 19 Feb 2006(collaboratingwithfate.blogspot.com), Kathryn Cassidy plots some of the hard transits of Pluto to the Galactic Centre over the last 500 years. She says: “If we look back over history we can see that this cycle always has a great deal to do with emerging nations and deep cultural transformations.” The conjunction of 1760/1, for example, coincided with the French losing all of their possessions in North America. In terms of the meaning of Pluto, what we are seeing are shifts in the balance of power (Pluto).

And it’s as if the Galactic Centre, being the most undifferentiated and powerful source of energy in the galaxy, simply intensifies whatever it touches – in this case, Pluto and all things Plutonic. Including, one could say, Pluto’s status itself, which has been downgraded to ‘dwarf planet’ during the current conjunction between Pluto and the G.C.

The cycle of hard transits from Pluto to the G.C. is reflected in U.S.A history, particularly in terms of its power as a nation.

The 1760 conjunction, for example, saw the beginning of the revolutionary activity that eventually resulted in American independence from Britain.

The square of 1817-19 came between the war with Britain of 1812 to 1815, and the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which proclaimed the United States' opinion that European powers should no longer colonize or interfere in the Americas. This was a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States.

The opposition of 1910 to 1912 occurred as America rose to prominence as a world power.

During the square of 1969 to 1970 we saw the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War, as American public opinion turned against the war and America, the world’s most powerful country, gradually withdrew from Vietnam and lost its first war. America came to know the limits of its power.

With the current conjunction, and with the present situation in Iraq, we have to see its meaning as the next stage in the cycle after Vietnam, which is a loss of global power for America. I have blogged about this before in terms of America’s progressed Mars and Saturn going retrograde for the first time ever (see e.g. blog of 1st Dec 2006), but the Pluto-Galactic Centre cycle drives the point home further. We are entering a new time when American power will not be what it was. The Vietnam War showed America the limits of its power. The War in Iraq will probably come to be seen as the beginning of America’s actual decline as a superpower. This will be George Bush’s legacy to the USA and to the world.

So we are also seeing the completion of a cycle for America, that began with the Pluto-Galactic Centre conjunction of 1760 and the very beginnings of America's rise, through to the closing square of 1969-1970 and the first signs of the end of the cycle, and finally through to the conjunction of 2006-7 in which, in my opinion, we are seeing the early beginnings of an actual fall from power.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

PLUTO AND THE GALACTIC CENTRE

As I was saying in my last post, I think the Galactic Centre points us to the vast journey of matter-consciousness as it unfolds from the singularity of a black hole, and back to singularity again billions of years later. Within a singularity, matter-consciousness is in its primordial state, beyond all the categories such as space and time that we impose on reality in order to make sense of our experience. It is the function of our various mystical traditions to help us deconstruct these impositions and gain insight into our real nature, into ‘the mind of God’.

The Galactic Centre, therefore, involves us in both the wider evolutionary journey of consciousness, and the individual journey each of us has to bring a reflective awareness to our own particular share of that wider consciousness.

The outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, each in their own way address both this collective evolution and our individual paths of unfoldment. So transits to the G.C. by any of these planets will intensify their function, particularly the conjunction, which ends an old cycle and begins a new one.

Over the next year we will be experiencing a conjunction of Pluto to the Galactic Centre, at just under 27 Sagittarius. It may be some years before we understand what this transit is about, as we are talking about a deep shift. But these things often run in cycles (tip: if you’re doing a reading for someone, and they have say transiting Neptune opposite their Sun, look at what happened when it made a square all those years ago, and how the current transit may be helping to move on those old issues).

The last time Pluto conjoined the G.C. was at about 24 Sag in 1758-60. The big thing that has happened since then was the Industrial Revolution and with it our exploitation and destruction of the environment. Crucial to the Industrial Revolution was the steam engine, and it was during the 1760s that the first condensing steam engine was developed by Gainsborough and then Watt. The increased efficiency of the Watt engine finally led to the general acceptance and use of steam power in industry. Pluto empowered the Industrial Revolution.

Now, 246 years later, as Pluto agains conjoins the G.C., we are encountering the consequences of that Revolution and, for the first time, environmentalism entering mainstream politics. In the UK, the Tory leader David Cameron has in the last year brought the environment onto the political agenda as a serious voter issue for the first time. After some years of questionably warmer winters, this year it is undeniable. Swallows have begun wintering over in England for the first time. Bears in Spain are not hibernating for the first time. And so on. Like the 1758-60 Pluto transit, the timing is pretty close to the transit (unlike what one might have expected for such a deep shift.) I am aware there have been environmentalist politicians, such as Al Gore in the USA, for some years. But it has not been seen as a major political issue.

And it is an evolutionary shift. The Industrial Revolution was something that would inevitably have happened sooner or later as part of humanity’s technological evolution. And with it came humanity’s less than perfect attitude towards the rest of the planet, an exploitative attitude that I think had always been latent. Yes, early indigenous peoples seem to have had a more harmonious and ‘sacred’ attitude to other life forms. But, strangely enough, many large mammals died out in various parts of the world around the time mankind first arrived there.

So now another shift is being asked of us through Pluto’s current conjunction to the Galactic Centre, in which we will have to address our exploitative attitude to the environment as revealed by the last cycle. And just as the Industrial Revolution took a while to get under way, so too will the crucial entry of environmentalism into mainstream politics, empowered by undeniable evidence of climate change and increasingly scarce resources, take a while to make a real difference.

We also need to ask why Pluto and why Sagittarius? How does the symbolism relate to these events? Pluto in Sag can only describe certain aspects of the situation, because the other planets are also there as well! Concurrent with the development of the steam engine, for example, was a Saturn-Uranus conjunction square to Pluto, which is a much more satisfactory signature for technological development, with Pluto being the empowerment of industry that this development led to. We could also see Pluto as emphasising the creation of riches (Pluto) through the exploitation/rape (Pluto) of the environment (and people), the great expansion (Sag) this involved, and the sense of meaning (Sag) this material progress has given to our lives. And this raises another issue: the expansion (Sag) of riches (Pluto) – i.e. an endlessly growing economy – gives us collectively a sense of purpose and meaning (Sag). A great deal of collective soul-searching as to what constitutes the purpose of human existence will therefore be required if we are to address the problems created by our ‘progress’. The Galactic Centre is demanding of us a philosophical (Sag) death and rebirth (Pluto).

There is what is known as the ‘esoteric ruler’ of each sign – I think Alice Bailey channeled them – but they are quite interesting, and could be said to show the signs functioning at their best. In the case of Sagittarius, normally ruled by lofty Jupiter, the esoteric ruler is the Earth itself. It is characteristic of Sagittarians to be passionately involved with the visionary, idealistic, philosophic realms, but not to be so interested in more ordinary matters. They need to come down to earth and ground their vision. As one Native American elder said: “Don’t tell me about your visions unless they grow corn.”

So this esoteric ruler, the earth, points to one of the major lessons for Sagittarius. And I think that this current conjunction of Pluto to the Galactic Centre in Sagittarius is raising this issue, and raising it in a Plutonic way: we need to acknowledge the earth beneath our feet or die, it is a survival issue. Though we have become very good at manipulating the earth element, it has become in the service of a mad dream of endlessly expanding prosperity. When I say ‘mad’ I mean it literally. We are no longer involved with the earth in the sense of a simple recognition and appreciation. We need to collectively ground this Sagittarian quest, and learn to find meaning again in the simple provision of our material needs through a give-and-take, appreciative attitude to the planet. It is a new synthesis that is required, because we cannot unlearn that new technological power that the last conjunction of Pluto to the Galactic Centre gave us, and which is also part of our collective evolution.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

THE GALACTIC CENTRE

Well Pluto conjoins the Galactic Centre this month (and will do so twice more next year). The Galactic Centre moves at just 84’ per century. It is a black hole that is the gravitational centre of our galaxy, and it apparently both eats up stars and spews out new ones. What it means astrologically is up for grabs, as it was only identified in the 1960s, though the Mayans had some sort of take on it, and they called it Hunab Ku.

The thing about black holes is that all the usual rules of physics break down, time and space go out of the window, and we are left with a fantastic symbol for primordial consciousness, with all its creative potential – consciousness before all the constructs we add on in order to make some kind of sense of our experience, and before the arising of this really weird notion we are born with, that we individually are the centre of the universe; before, in Buddhist terms, we have artificially divided the universe into Subject and Object. The Galactic Centre is Mind, capital ‘M’. It holds the key to the nature of consciousness, and our job individually as human beings – perhaps - is to bring some sort of new awareness to that consciousness. That original consciousness is so vast and mysterious that no individual human being can become aware of more than a part of it: this is where I feel at home around Native American mysticism, and move away from Buddhist mysticism and its hubristic notion of an omniscient Buddha.

Living in Glastonbury, UK as I do, there was inevitably a shop in the High Street called Hunab Ku until recently, and it sold legal psycho-active plants, as well as a few illegal ones under the counter. No doubt they helped people connect with the Galactic Centre.

Back to the way we impose structure on consciousness. Oliver Sacks’ book ‘The man who mistook his wife for a hat’, which I read many years ago, gives an account of the author’s experiences with patients with neurological disorders. So far, so medical. But what is fascinating is what happens to these patients. One, for example, loses the ability to recognise generalities, so that he can tell you that a playing card is the Jack of Hearts, but not that it is a playing card. Another has the opposite disorder, so that he can tell you it is a playing card, but not which one it is. Another loses all sense of ‘right’, so that he eats the left hand part of the food on his plate (he cannot see the rest), and then moves his plate round to the left, and eats the left half of what is still there, and continues in this way. All pretty bizarre, but you are left dumbstruck at the implications: the way we experience the world is intimately and profoundly shaped by the hard-wiring in our brain. What seems to be ‘out there’ is almost entirely a construct of our brain that enables us to cope with our experience. Personally speaking, and I cannot prove this, the only reality I cannot deny is other beings, particularly other people, and the impact they have on me. Other people are real, and knowing that I guess helps keeps me sane. Other people experience themselves as a centre of consciousness just as intensely and individually as I do, yet we are profoundly interconnected, there is something very deep that we share, even if I don’t know those people.

So like I said, the Galactic Centre seems to me to embody this original, undifferentiated and endlessly creative consciousness. And we are on a journey through time and space to bring some sort of new awareness to this consciousness. We are like the individual petals on a flower, each bringing a unique aspect of this awareness, and contributing to a whole.

For a good introduction to the Galactic Centre, see Lynn Hayes article.

It’s now a day since I started this, and the great thing about blogs is that they don’t have to be polished articles. Or I’d never do them. Yesterday was the first time I’d ever thought about the Galactic Centre. What I’ve realised since then is that as an astrologer I take the movements of the heavens seriously, they symbolise the movements within our consciousness. And by ‘symbolise’ I do not mean an abstract analogy but a real, living, inter-connected correspondence. Astrology normally concerns the cycles of planets around the Sun. But by bringing in the Galactic Centre, we are adding a whole new dimension to astrology, a dimension which we have to add to maintain integrity within this body of knowledge.

The Galactic centre is a black hole, it is a ‘singularity’ beyond the normal laws of physics, it is akin to the state of matter before the ‘big-bang’, and akin to the state of matter after the universe collapses back in on itself (assuming it ever does), and certainly describes a galaxy after it has collapsed back in on itself, in which its sheer mass concentrated in one place becomes too great for the atomic structure of matter, under intense gravitational forces, to avoid collapsing – and with it, time and space break down. We are dealing with infinity, infinite gravity from which light cannot even emerge, but from which, mysteriously, new stars can be born.

So, given that the cycles of the planets around the Sun describe the cycles within consciousness, so too does the great in-breath and out-breath of singularity to galaxy and back to singularity describe a much wider cycle, or journey, of consciousness itself – from a time before any differentiation has happened, right through to all the different life-forms, including human, that consciousness seems to evolve into, and with all the learning and transformations that are involved, and back to a singularity again, but a singularity that has, hopefully, been in some way enriched by the journey of consciousness-matter that has occurred. I don’t think we can separate matter and consciousness, mind and body. We tend to do this unconsciously, due to our Christian heritage, but astrology would not work if they were separable. We inhabit a living universe.

A big question for me is “Does human consciousness progress?” From the point of view of this incredible journey of consciousness from black hole to unfoldment and back again – a perspective which the Galactic Centre opens up – it seems to me that something supremely important is going on through time, in which human consciousness, which is so particular, has its own role to play. From the narrower perspective of the last few thousand years, I cannot use the word ‘progress’ about humanity. Civilizations rise and fall, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and within which we keep finding individuals who are outstanding. Our civilization too will fall, one day. The emergence of outstanding individuals, who are not simply a product of their species and circumstances, seems to characterise human consciousness, unlike other earthly life-forms. But humanity does not seem to learn on a collective level. The 20th century had more wars in it than any previous century.

So, empirically, human consciousness does not seem to me to progress collectively, although different potentials do seem to open up at different times in history. At the same time, astrology teaches me that our nature is to be found in the heavens and, in the widest sense, in that incredible journey of consciousness over billions of years that the Galactic Centre reveals. The nature of that journey is necessarily beyond the grasp of one individual human, but the fact of it remains a source of wonder.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

CONVICTION POLITICIANS

Politicians frequently present themselves as “conviction politicians” in order to convince voters that they are principled, that they will not be swayed by the demands of political expediency and career aspirations. What it comes to mean when they are in a position of leadership is somewhat different and less favourable: it tends to mean that they are the sort of politician who will pursue a particular course of action regardless, that they have a certain ‘gut instinct’ as to what is right that they are determined to pursue.

Margaret Thatcher, the 1980s UK Prime Minister, was a seen as a conviction politician, and for a while it worked. Britain at the time was ‘the sick man of Europe’, and some basic economic housekeeping was needed, and she did it. But because she was functioning from ‘conviction’, she was also very rigid, and in the end this was her undoing.

‘Conviction’ is not an air quality, astrologically speaking. It is a ‘gut instinct’, and it is rigid. It is Scorpionic. I have always thought that to have such convictions about the right course of action – which can be an appealing quality to voters – you need the ability to ignore inconvenient facts. Not consciously ignore, but actually be opaque to them, so that to you it’s as if they don’t exist. So here we also have a Neptunian quality, the ability to delude oneself.

Margaret Thatcher (born 13th Oct 1925, 9am, Grantham, England) has Saturn Rising in Scorpio, which gave her her ruthless (Scorpio) and patronising (Saturn) ‘gut instinct’ about what was best for the country. She also has a Neptune-Moon conjunction in 9th House Leo, conjunct the MC, which is where we see the delusory side to her that became more and more clear as time went on. When her son had his first child, she made a public pronouncement that “We are a grandmother” (i.e. the royal ‘we’ - her Moon is in Leo). This was apparently the moment at which her cabinet ministers began to think she really had lost it. But in my interpretation, and delusions of grandeur aside, this Neptune also gave her the ability to shut out inconvenient facts, to delude herself so that she could maintain her convictions. Moon-Neptune in the 9th also gave her the remarkable ability to turn something as basic as economic prudence into a religious crusade. Her MC is in Virgo, and I think there is a sense in which she genuinely – and quite rightly - felt herself to be serving the country. For someone so rigid and one-sided, it is surprising that her Sun is in Libra. I think she is Libran in the sense that she is permanently polarised, always seeing two sides, but rigidly pitting one side against the other. The square from Sun to Pluto probably doesn’t help.

George W Bush is another conviction politician. (Born 6 July 1946, 7.26am, New Haven, Connecticut). Though he may or may not be able to understand a page of print in front of him (opinion seems to be divided here), he certainly does not base his decisions on reason. His believes in his gut instinct and that it will ultimately be proved right. It is a sort of magical thinking. That is why, for example, there was very little planning as to what to do after the successful invasion of Iraq, and he was able to keep repeating the mantra of ‘staying the course’ over Iraq, in the face of all the facts.

Sometimes politicians are saying something for the sake of expediency, and we know it’s not true and we know that they know it’s not true. It’s not entirely satisfactory, but that seems to be part of how politics works. What is worrying about conviction politicians like George Bush, however, is that they will say things that are patently not true, but you get the sense that they actually believe what they are saying.

Astrologically, GWB has Pluto Rising in Leo and Sun in Cancer, between them giving him his ruthlessness and primitive, unconscious ‘gut instinct’ way of operating. I don’t want to offend anyone here, but America has a capacity for electing stupid leaders like Bush and Reagan almost BECAUSE they are stupid. “Ah, you’re thick like me, I can trust that!” And the genius of these leaders is that they know exactly the sort of stupid thing to say that will win them votes. Like Ronald Reagan saying about his ballet dancer son, “He is not gay. We made sure of that!” Or George Bush saying, “People misunderestimate me.” Oh yes, you’re not one of those tricksy, liberal intellectuals, we can trust you!

To be fair, the UK and the US have a different method of electing leaders. In the UK, our leaders are elected by their fellow MPs (or, in the case of the Tories, were until recently), so being the new kid on the block with mob appeal ain’t going to get you elected leader. What I admire about the American system are the checks and balances built into it which are proving so effective at present.

Back to GWB. He also has Moon conjunct Jupiter in Libra in the 3rd House. This is the chart of someone who potentially has a good mind, who in fact probably DOES have a good mind when he bothers to use it. But the Moon is conjunct Chiron, so there is a problem with it, and it is square to the Sun in Cancer, which seems to win out. Maybe some years down the line, when Pluto hits this square, and his father has died and he has some distance from the failure and humiliation of his last 2 years in office, he will be able to reflect on the shortcomings of gut instinct on its own, and in so doing empower his Libra Moon. Don’t get me wrong, ‘gut instinct’ is a powerful and necessary part of our make-up – and who would not be ruled by it when faced with a survival situation? – but it can also get things terribly wrong if reason and reflection are not also properly honoured.

GWB’s Sun in Cancer is in the 12th House, so here we see the Neptunian element that seems also to be necessary to make a conviction politician, the ability to delude oneself and so maintain self-belief by shutting out inconvenient facts. This Neptunian element (which we also saw in Thatcher) also gives a redeemer quality to the politician, that they are in some sense going to save the country, whether it is from terrorists (in GWB’s case) or from the Trades Unions and bad economic practices (in Thatcher’s case).

Finally, we come to Tony Blair, who I think has behaved like a conviction politician in the worst sense over Iraq, but who I do not think is otherwise a conviction politician in the full-blown sense. He certainly campaigns like one. In 1997 he presented himself as the redeemer of the country, and people believed it in droves. Quite what he was redeeming us from wasn’t clear, but no-one seemed to mind. Yes, we had a bit of Tory sleaze and they’d been in power too long, but the UK was basically muddling along OK and prospering economically.

Tony Blair was born 6 May 1953, 6.10am, Edinburgh, Scotland. We can see the redeemer and the ‘shut out inconvenient facts’ elements from his 12th House Sun, as well as from the fact that his premiership has been characterised by continuous major Neptune transits to his MC, Moon and then Sun. It is only now, as they are coming to an end, that his ability to hang on to power is evaporating. We can also see his ruthlessness in his Sun square, and Moon opposite, Pluto.

Apart from Iraq, however, Tony Blair is able to stand back and use the air element. He has been able to have ministers in his cabinet who back Gordon Brown as PM. Most remarkably, he has managed to work with Gordon Brown, who has always schemed against him. He had no choice politically but to have him as Chancellor, and I think it is remarkable that he has managed to work with him for so long, and to put the interests of the party first. As Charles Clarke said of Brown, “He is totally un-collegiate.” Full-blown conviction politicians like Bush and Thatcher can’t take dissent, which they see as plain wrong-headed and treacherous. Like Bush, Blair has 12th House Sun square to an air Moon, but the square does not seem so one-sided in Blair’s case. Which goes to show that you often need a fair bit of information about the person to do a good astrology reading.

Neptune and Pluto have featured a lot in this analysis. Perhaps the ultimate conviction politician was Adolf Hitler, who had a Neptune-Pluto conjunction that made no major aspects to the rest of his chart, meaning that the power of the collective could flow through him unhindered by his personality. And it worked for a while, but his inability to stand back from it led to Germany’s downfall. And this is another aspect of the conviction politician, which is that they are a vehicle for some powerful need within the collective, which gives them their power, but because it is so powerful it can easily take them over and make them unable to direct it wisely. Neptune: channel for the collective; Pluto: the sheer power of the collective.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

THE URANUS-PLUTO GENERATION

In yesterday’s blog I talked about the Uranus-Neptune generation, who were born in the 1990s and who, via developments on the Internet, are already beginning to make their particular presence felt. There is another generation that will start to make its presence felt in the next few years, which is the Uranus-Pluto generation of the 1960s. Being in their 40s, they have no doubt been making an impact already, but I am thinking of the sphere of national politics, where it is hard to become prominent until you are at least in your 40s.

This conjunction was intensely political when it happened in the 1960s, with all sorts of radicalism, protests and liberalising measures occurring. So we already know something of its nature from those times, and therefore something of the flavour which this generation will bring to politics as they gain power. And the symbolism of the Conjunction itself tells a similar story: rebellion (Uranus) against power (Pluto); the empowerment (Pluto) of radical, progressive ideas (Uranus).

Between 1962 and 1968, Pluto moved from about 11 to 22 degrees of Virgo, with Uranus in conjunction with it through all of that period. Pluto has now finished making a transiting square over the last 7 years or so to that part of Virgo, empowering that generational potential (which exists in about 1/14 of the population of the West). Between 2006 and 2009, Uranus is/will be opposing those points, activating that generation in all sorts of unexpected ways. Saturn will also be conjoining those points in 2008/9, ensuring that the Uranus activation manifests itself concretely and prominently.

By way of precedent for this sort of analysis, we can look the only other outer planet conjunction of our age, which was as far back as 1891, when Neptune conjoined Pluto at 9 Gemini. Adolf Hitler was born 2 years previously, with Neptune and Pluto at 1 and 5 degrees of Gemini respectively, and making no major aspects to the rest of his chart. This meant the conjunction could operate outside of the control of his ordinary personality, making him an undiscerning channel for the zeitgeist, in his case for the German collective inferiority complex of the time (unlike e.g. J.R.R Tolkien, who had the conjunction in square to his Pisces Moon, giving him a powerful and discerning ability to engage with the mythic dimension). It was as transiting Neptune finished opposing Hitler's natal conjunction in the early 1930s that he rose to power.

So, for better or for worse, we should begin to see politicians rising to prominence over the next few years who have the 1960s Uranus-Pluto conjunction strongly in their charts. In the UK, we have one example already in the form of David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party. Born 9th Oct 1966 at 5.51am (rectified) in London, he has the Uranus-Pluto conjunction widely conjunct his ASC in Virgo, and opposite a Saturn-Chiron conjunction in Pisces. It is too early to know him well, but he quickly and unexpectedly (for a Conservative) made a stand on environmental issues.

Virgo is associated with both technology and the orderly cycles of nature. It is the advances in technology that have led to the environmental crisis – in which the cycles of nature are being disrupted – so it is a very Virgoan issue, and entirely appropriate that a politician with a prominent Uranus-Pluto conjunction in that sign should be leading the way. So I expect to see the effective addressing of the environmental crisis to be one of the radical approaches that this generation will be bringing to us, both from within and from outside of mainstream politics. No doubt they will have other radical surprises up their sleeves as well.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

URANUS-NEPTUNE and THE INTERNET

According to a programme about the Internet that I was watching recently, the modern mass culture that we live in may eventually come to be seen as an aberration. Before we had modern methods of communication such as TV and modern means of transport, cultures and communities would have been much more locally based. Now, with the Internet, small communities are again springing up through sites such as Myspace and Youtube, much of it based on shared musical interests. This means, for example, that bands that would not previously have attracted a large enough audience to merit the large companies releasing their records, are finding a following through these sites. Increasingly, bands do not have to attract a mass audience in order to succeed and become widely known.

There is also the blogging phenomenon, where bloggers such as myself are regularly read by a certain number of people, but probably not enough to merit publication in a book or magazine. Apparently there are 60 million bloggers worldwide. I’ve only been blogging for 5 months, but I’m delighted by the opportunity that the Internet has given me. Because if you write, what you want more than anything is for people to read what you’ve written. And the occasional appreciative comment by a reader makes a big difference to my enthusiasm for my blog. So the Internet is giving so many people the chance to be creative, whether through writing or music or film, in ways that are not possible in the wider mass culture.

And people are gradually spending more time on the Internet, where they can follow their special interests, rather than watching the television. And even the TV is gradually splitting into more and more channels.

The presiding deities of this cultural renewal are Uranus and Neptune. The outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto govern the wider movements and transformational shifts in the Collective, and these currents intensify when 2 of the outer planets aspect each other. The most powerful aspect is the Conjunction, which sets in motion a whole new phase lasting 100-400 years. These Conjunctions occur very rarely, yet there have been 2 in the lifetimes of most of us: the Uranus-Pluto Conjunction in Virgo, which lasted for much of the 1960s, and the Uranus-Neptune Conjunction in Capricorn, that lasted for much of the 1990s. So the times we have lived through have been unusually transformational, and we are still living through the gradual unfoldment of those Conjunctions.

Uranus and Neptune conjoined in 1993, so the establishment of the Internet in 1996 occurred well within the penumbra of that Conjunction. And the symbolism is apt: Uranus – electronic communication; and Neptune – the creative imagination and the dissolution of boundaries. Since 2003 Uranus has been in Pisces, which is ruled by Neptune, and Neptune has been in Aquarius, which is ruled by Uranus. So there has been what is known as a mutual reception between these 2 planets, which is a bit like a Conjunction, prolonging the effect of the original 1993 Conjunction, and ensuring that the Internet will continue its intense early phase of development for some time yet. Exciting as it is, we are still only at the beginning of the Uranus-Neptune cultural renewal that the Internet seems to promise.

Many of these developments come from young people, and what we will need to look out for in the coming years will be the impact of those born under the Uranus-Neptune Conjunction, some of whom are now reaching their late teens, but most of whom are still early to mid teens or younger. They are already an important part of the networking that is occurring on the net, but their involvement, and the particular influence they have to offer, can only increase. In this way we will come to understand more fully the nature of the 1993 Uranus-Neptune Conjunction. Our generation has become part of its unfoldment, but it is from those born under the Conjunction that we will see its strongest and fullest expression. Watch this space!

It is not usual to see a generation having an impact so young – they normally have to wait until they are old enough to occupy influential positions to do so, or at least be in their early twenties and become pop stars. But, through the Internet, this generation is helping to shape our culture while still in their teens.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

BORN ON THE 2ND OF JULY?

In his ‘Book of World Horoscopes’, Nicholas Campion says, “The birthday of the USA is celebrated on 4 July, but in fact the crucial vote for independence was taken on 2 July 1776, and constitutional historians…. never tire of pointing this out. Contemporary press reports were in no doubt that this was so… Even the participants in the drama regarded this vote as the vital event in both political and symbolic terms.”

I doubt we shall ever have THE chart for the USA, whose chart is usually based on the 4 July Declaration of Independence, but for which the timing remains a matter of debate. In my first ever blog I argued for the Gemini Rising chart on 4 July, only to be informed by one Vedic astrologer that the usual 12 degrees Sagittarius Rising chart (Sibly) is in fact the right one. It must be comforting to be able to have that sort of certainty.

So there seems to be a strong case for a July 2nd Chart. As for the timing, all we know is that it was soon after lunch, based on the arrival time of a certain delegate from Delaware called Rodney, who had been called in to help swing the vote in favour of independence.

Even without a definite time, however, one crucial feature of the chart changes from the various 4 July charts: the Moon moves back from Aquarius to late Capricorn, where it conjoins Pluto at 27.36 Capricorn. The Moon in a mundane chart is the People (and the Sun is the Ruler).

SO ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AQUARIUS OR CAPRICORN? With Aquarius we can look at keywords such as freedom, democracy, progress, humanitarian, non-conformity. With Capricorn we can look at keywords such as cautious, conformist, conservative, hard-working, hierarchical.

I can certainly see the Capricorn (which is also to some extent explained by Sun in Cancer square to Saturn), with the added dose of paranoia and over-control explained by the conjunction with Pluto. Pluto is also about survival and how we do it, suggesting to me that much of the relentless drive and hard work (Capricorn) of Americans goes back to the real issue of survival that faced the early Americans, an issue that is well past its sell-by date, but which is still running (which the importance attached to Thanksgiving suggests). America is also strongly hierarchical, based on money – I heard the other day that the richest 10% of Americans own 90% of the wealth. Another important factor in favour of Capricorn is that if the people were Aquarius, we would expect to see a disjunction between the Government (Cancer) and the people (Aquarius), whereas the US government does seem to embody the character and will of the people, as evidenced by its remarkable stability.

As for the American people as Aquarius, I do not see them as radical, progressive or unusually humanitarian. The American populace seems to be characterised much more by conservatism, control and even meanness towards the less better off. Of course there are many Americans who are not like this, I’m talking much more in terms of how the country as a whole seems to function.

BUT, I hear you say, what about freedom and democracy? In the West we do have remarkable freedoms to speak our minds openly and publicly, to vote in and out our governments and to criticise them, and to lead our lives as we wish to. Of course there are limits, some of them unfair, but historically the situation is remarkable and who knows how long it can last? But these freedoms are not particularly American, they are part of the Age we live in. If anything, we could say they have grown out of the old European culture that both America and modern Europe come from.

As for Democracy, what is it? I realised recently that a big part of the reason I have not been able to understand the difference between Republican and Democrat – the British ideas of left and right wing not quite applying – is that in many ways what we are seeing are tribal loyalties. And I think that this is mainly how democracy works. You are e.g. a Republican voter or a Labour voter because your parents were, and it helps define your identity, your natural sense of wanting to belong.

Some years ago I read about a small African country with a relatively benign dictator, and the Americans were putting economic pressure on the country to become a democracy (no doubt for unsavoury reasons of their own). This dictator’s case was that if they became a democracy, the country would divide itself along racial and religious lines in ways that it currently wasn’t. Fair point. And we see this process in Iraq. Brutal as Saddam’s regime was, Shia and Sunni were able to get along at a local level, even though the government was a Sunni dictatorship. Now that we have ‘democracy’ in Iraq, these 2 communities are slaughtering each other. Extreme cases can sometimes be revealing, and in this case I think it reveals the tribal nature of democracy. It is essentially about tribes jostling for power, with a certain percentage of independent voters.

I think Aquarius describes the ideals of democracy, but the actuality is much better described by the Cancer-Capricorn axis, with a dose of Pluto thrown in, that we see in the US 2 July Chart.

What about the Angles for a July 2 Chart? In the Book of World Horoscopes, 4 pm is cautiously suggested, based on an undocumented source. This gives ASC-DESC axis at 27 Scorpio-Taurus, and MC-IC axis at 10 Virgo-Pisces. I’m not going to give an exhaustive analysis here, just a few things which work quite well. Scorpio rising: the US seeking of power and wealth is well known. We can also see this in Moon-Pluto in Capricorn in the 2nd House of wealth. Natal Uranus at 9 Gemini squares the MC-IC axis, reflecting the revolutionary and democratic origins of the country. Uranus is also in the 7th House, indicating the US desire to bring its democracy to other countries (or even impose it.) The Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 1891, which ushered in a whole new age with the US playing a central role, occurred at 8.38 Gemini, squaring the MC-IC axis.

Pearl Harbour occurred on 7 Dec 1941, with transiting Uranus (Bombs) at 28 Taurus, conjoining the natal DESC (House of Open Enemies). On Sept 11 2001, the Saturn-Pluto Opposition was squaring the MC-IC axis, shaking America to its roots (IC) and dominating the world stage (MC). In the early 1930s, as the Great Depression kicked in, Neptune was conjoining the natal MC. In 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated and the Cold War was at its peak, Pluto was conjoining the natal MC. In the late 1960s, a time of radicalism, protests, idealism and ‘flower-power’, Neptune conjoined the ASC, softening, perhaps, the hard-nosed drive for power and control. In the early 1990s, as Pluto approached the ASC at 27 Scorpio, the US won the Cold War.

The Pluto and Neptune transiting conjunctions to the MC and IC are perhaps the strongest single test of the validity of the timing of a chart, and this USA chart of 4pm, 2 July 1776 seems to pass with flying colours.

I’ve probably been a bit harsh on America so far, which I don’t want to do, so I would like to point out the Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Cancer (in all the USA charts), which describes their expansiveness, adventurousness and hospitality. It is, however, in the 8th House, meaning their big (Jupiter) home (Cancer) is in someone else’s country (the Indians, as well as the later economic imperialism). Natal Neptune is in the 10th, trine to the Moon, and though they obviously also had their own interests at stake (and who wouldn’t?), the US did play a crucial role in saving the world last century from German and Japanese imperialism. Their role in reconstructing Japan and Germany was remarkable and unprecedented, and reflects sadly on the current cock-up in Iraq.

In my last blog I was referring to the US Progressed Sun, Mars and Saturn, the 1st of which is changing sign at present, while the other 2 are going/have recently gone retrograde. Progressions work on the principle of a day for a year, so the Prog 2 July chart lags about 2 years behind the Prog 4 July chart. This doesn’t make much difference, as progressions mark long-term phases, which come in and pass away gradually, without necessarily having precise starting points. So what I said about the USA in the last blog still applies.

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