Tuesday, January 23, 2007


In his review of 'The Good Shepherd', a film about the CIA, Philip Brown at Astrofuturetrends says: “The Sibly U.S. horoscope has Scorpio on the cusp of the 12th house and this is one reason why I do like this horoscope. Without buying into a whole lot of conspiracy theories, I think that the U.S. has a tendency to grow secret power cabals that operate independently of any oversight.”

I rather liked this point, and it got me reflecting on just how Scorpionic the USA actually is. And that therefore the Sibly Chart, which is markedly lacking in Scorpio/Pluto influences, cannot be right!

The USA is the wealthiest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen, and has been so for 100 years. I do not think that a nation could achieve this position, and keep it, without a significant Scorpio/Pluto influence. When I read a history of the USA some years ago, I was struck by how, in its path to becoming a world power, the USA was continually re-inventing itself in all sorts of fundamental ways: this was not the mere adaptability of a mutable sign, but a deep and vital and continual re-birthing, which is a classically Scorpionic characteristic.

There are also some of the less savoury characteristics of Scorpio, such as the suspicious, paranoid element that goes in for overkill in response to perceived threats and that seems to need a wholly bad enemy on the world stage, whether it is Communism or Terror. And the USA's use of power on the world stage is to a large extent covert. It does not generally go in for a lot of military occupation, like any normal empire, where its power would be visible to all. It has other ways of bending foreign countries to its will.

Then there is Philip Brown’s point about the secret power cabals, operating independently of oversight. In response to this, there seems to be a lot of mistrust of the government on the part of the American people, with high percentages, sometimes even majorities, of the population believing, for example, that the Moon landings were faked or that there are ongoing cover-ups around alien landings, UFOs and alien technologies such as anti-gravity machines and free energy. Which isn’t to say that some of these beliefs might not be right: it’s just the huge amount of mistrust and suspicion surrounding them, which is so Scorpionic, that I’m getting at.

Incidentally, I do find these sorts of conspiracies quite interesting, and I’m always hoping when I occasionally follow one of them up that I’ll find some good supporting evidence. But I never seem to. Maybe my problem is that I’m not fuelled by a need to believe in these things.

It is interesting that the Sibly Chart has gained such a following among American astrologers, for it is so un-Scorpionic. The Sagittarius Rising of the Sibly Chart (July 4 1776, 17.10, Philadelphia) seems to me to describe how America likes to see itself, and the image it wishes to project: generous, expansive, freedom loving, optimistic, and honest. And America is all those things, but it also has a Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Cancer, which does the job adequately. No individual or country finds it easy to look at its own shadow, and America finds it harder than most (as evidenced by its strong need to identify ‘Evil’ out there). Here I’m probably going to put my foot in it, but you could argue that the American fondness for the Sibly Chart expresses its reluctance to acknowledge its own shadow, and this must include America’s astrologers. Whoops! I’m just putting forward a theory! But not without reason. And it works both ways. You Americans can probably see aspects of the British shadow that are hard for me to identify.

So what chart should we use? I think we need to have Scorpio Rising at the very least. There seem to be 2 possibilities here. There is the 2pm chart for 4th July 1776, for which there is a certain amount of evidence. (See Nicholas Campion’s ‘Book of World Horoscopes’ for a detailed discussion of the various possible charts for the USA). And there is the 4pm chart for 2nd July, which I promoted in my blog of 4 Dec. This hasn’t just got Scorpio Rising, it’s got 12th House Scorpio (for the secret cabals), Moon conjunct Pluto and 8th House Sun. It gives the full measure of Pluto/Scorpio which I think a US Chart needs to have. (The 4pm timing is quite uncertain).

9/11 gave a lot of credibility to the Sibly Chart, because the Saturn-Pluto opposition of the time lined up along its ASC/DESC axis. But with the 2nd July Chart, Saturn-Pluto was squaring the MC/IC axis, which given 9/11’s prominence on the world stage (MC) and the way it shook America to its roots (IC), seems to me to be more appropriate.

When looking at mundane charts, it is important to remember that we rarely find one definitive chart for a country. Different charts can express different levels or aspects or incarnations of a country. In the case of the 2 July Chart (the date the vote for Independence took place), Nicholas Campion says: “Even the participants in the drama regarded this vote as the vital event in both political and symbolic terms…” And of the various 4 July Charts he says: “If the vote was taken on 2 July, on 4 July the collective aims, purposes and self-identity of the thirteen new independent states were adopted.”

So take your pick!

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Saturday, January 20, 2007


The chart for the first controlled nuclear fission reaction is set for 16.25, 2 Dec 1942, Chicago, Illinois. (Actually 15.25, but Solar Fire software gives the wrong answer!) As such it is a chart for all use of fissile nuclear energy, whether for peaceful or military purposes.

The main symbolic feature of this chart is the Saturn-Uranus conjunction in Gemini: the splitting (Uranus) of matter (Saturn). There could hardly be more apt symbolism. This conjunction is opposite the Sun in Sag, giving us what has become known as the nuclear axis, at about 8-10 Gemini/Sag.

What I am concerned with here, however, is the square that Uranus makes to a tight Chiron-North Node conjunction in Leo – an out of sign square, but still quite tight at 3 degrees. For me, this square is just as significant as the Saturn-Uranus conjunction.

Uranus is the Scientific Mind. Chiron is damage – and the possibility of healing. And the Node suggests some kind of important karmic lesson for humanity. It is Mind (Gemini) vs Heart (Leo).

I think that the achievement of controlled fission was a paradigmatic event for Science: we had finally begun to achieve mastery over Nature at its very core. As such, I think it can be taken as a chart that says something about Science itself. In particular, I think the Uranus-Chiron square is saying that it was a damaged or imbalanced attitude that achieved it, and that this reflects an ongoing problem within the scientific method.

And even at its most safe and peaceful, nuclear power is something that a lot of people have always felt ambivalent about. Even though we may not be able to articulate it, somewhere we feel there is something wrong about nuclear power.

If Uranus-Chiron is saying something important about Science generally, and not just nuclear energy, then we should be able to find a relationship between Uranus-Chiron and scientific breakthroughs.

What I found a couple of years ago is that there is a correlation between the PROLONGED hard aspects of Uranus-Chiron and the pivotal scientific breakthroughs that have changed our relationship to the universe. Because Chiron’s orbit is so elliptical, it sometimes makes hard aspects to Uranus for 30 years or more.

Here is a table:


Square......1518-50..Publication of........1543
........................Copernicus’ theories

Conjunction.1661-91..Newton’s Laws.........1687
.......................of Motion and Gravity

Square......1805-38..Darwin formulates.....1838
.......................theory of evolution

Opposition..1951-90..Discovery of the......1953
.......................structure of DNA?

What is key about these discoveries is not just the advances in understanding but that THEY CHANGED OUR CONCEPTION OF OURSELVES AND OUR PLACE IN IN THE UNIVERSE. And what they reflect, brilliant as these advances were, is a progressive DISENCHANTMENT, as we gradually moved from a living universe with a divine origin to one based on dead matter that can be manipulated by the use of reason. Both ourselves and the universe were gradually diminished.

The nuclear chart is not in this list, but that was a technological breakthrough, rather than a breakthrough in understanding of the universe. Nor are Einstein’s theories and quantum theory present: they fundamentally changed our understanding of the universe, but you could argue they did not disenchant it: quantum theory moved us away from a mechanical universe, and Einstein’s theories, amongst other things, expanded our notions of space and time.

So they key symbolism in all this is Uranus in hard aspect to Chiron: damaged brilliance. This has been a key theme in the direction of our culture for the last 500 years.

I think the damage lies in the separation between Mind and Heart that we saw in the nuclear chart, and I think it arises out of the very nature of the scientific method. When something is investigated scientifically, it is treated as an OBJECT, and this includes investigation of living things. Pushed to an extreme, this becomes inhuman. The world of living things is made up of subjects, not objects, and part of what makes us human is that we can see this – or rather, FEEL it. If we are taught to believe that the only real knowledge is scientific, and that our capacity for feeling does not contribute to this knowledge, then we become de-humanised. Yet this way of thinking has been a powerful current in our culture for a long time now. And it’s understandable because the scientific method has been spectacularly successful. So it’s natural to start thinking that science is telling us how the universe actually is, not just part of how it is.

To my mind this is the central problem of science: it does actually tell us a lot of important things about the universe, and yet its methods inevitably tend towards de-humanising us. The universe has to be treated AS IF it is purely an object, and being imperfect human beings, we will gradually start to feel that it IS just an object. This is how I interpret that square between Uranus and Chiron.

I think it is a problem that we were destined to meet sooner or later, it is not just an aberration. And the problem is now very much ‘out there’, as we encounter climate change and a diminished environment, brought about by a dissociation of mind from feeling.

I don’t know what the answer is, except to say that somehow the scientific/technological/ rational mind needs to be brought into a healthy feeling relationship with nature. Which is something we all know.

Mythologically, there aren’t many stories about Uranus, though we do know that he was tyrannical – like the scientific mind can be in relation to other ways of knowing – and he was divorced from instinct (through being castrated by his son Saturn). It has been argued, by e.g. Liz Greene and Richard Tarnas, that in many ways Prometheus better embodies the astrological qualities of the planet Uranus and the sign he rules, Aquarius.

Interestingly, there is a mythological connection between Prometheus and Chiron, which I think tells us something about the meaning of the Uranus-Chiron square and therefore about this problem in our modern consciousness.

Prometheus was a Titan who had a strong desire to help mankind better itself. He taught us all the human skills and sciences. This did not go down well with Zeus, the king of the gods, who wanted to destroy mankind. Zeus grew more and more angry at humanity’s increasing abilities and powers. Prometheus was contemptuous of Zeus’ attitude. He taunted and humiliated him, and brought fire to mankind against Zeus’ express wishes. This was the last straw, and Zeus had Prometheus chained naked to a pillar high in the Caucasus Mountains, where everyday a vulture pecked out his liver, and every night his liver grew back again.

In this story Zeus seems to embody that part of our nature that doesn’t want to become conscious. He symbolises collective humanity that can feel threatened by people who have their own, individual values, rather like the rednecks in the film Easy Rider who shoot the hippy motorcyclists, hating their difference to themselves and secretly envying them their freedom.

In my opinion, however, it was Prometheus who was primarily at fault. He could have got away with bringing fire to mankind if he had been more diplomatic, if he had not deliberately taunted Zeus. Zeus was not really at fault – he was simply nature being nature. Prometheus’ fault lay in his hubris, his over-identification with the cause of advancing mankind, and his consequent failure to pay his dues to nature.

Modern Science, at its worst, is in some ways like Prometheus. It desires progress for humanity, but using only that part of our nature that observes, measures and reasons. In its hubris, scientific and technological progress comes to be seen as the only real progress. Our instinctual nature, that has its own ways of knowing, and that is the source of our life energy, is relegated and discounted. What results is a humanity that is only half-alive, a humanity that, perhaps without knowing it, is suffering like Prometheus in the Caucasus Mountains.

In the myth, Prometheus is rescued by Chiron, and it is here that we see the creative potential of the astrological Uranus-Chiron relationship. Chiron was known as the wisest and most righteous of the centaurs. He became the king of the centaurs, and brought up many of the heroes and sons of the gods. One day he was accidentally wounded in the knee by an arrow, let off by Hercules, that had been dipped in the poisonous blood of the Hydra. Chiron was in agony, and the wound would not heal.

After many years of this, Chiron tired of life. However, being an immortal, he could not die. Eventually, however, he did a deal with Zeus, whereby Prometheus was released from his torture, and Chiron descended to the underworld and suffered death in Prometheus’ place. Moved by Chiron’s actions, Zeus placed him in the constellation Sagittarius in the sky.

Chiron was a centaur – half human, half horse – so his wisdom is of a sort that is not alienated from nature. It is a wisdom that grows out of nature and therefore takes into account the whole being. Chiron rescuing Prometheus represents a transformed Science that does not undervalue any of our human faculties and that does not disenchant the universe. So the myth is saying that to re-enchant our universe we need to become part of nature again – the horse - whilst not denying that which makes us different from the rest of nature – the human body emerging from the horse. There needs to be a creative synthesis between the human and the animal which, because it exists in the figure of Chiron, is a real possibility rather than just a nice idea. This seems to be the central message for us in this myth, and therefore the central healing message contained within the astrological Uranus-Chiron.

This healing occurs through Chiron’s descent into the Underworld, which ends his suffering, as well as Prometheus’. This may seem to contradict the alleged incurability of his wound, but I think it is only incurable if addressed on its own level. The collective Chiron is incurable, because collective humanity doesn’t think in terms of radically transforming itself. Here Chiron simply reflects some of the inherent limitations of the human situation. On an individual level, however, it would seem that Chiron’s wound is curable – if we are prepared to be radical enough, if we are prepared, like him, to descend into the Underworld. Perhaps Chiron in the individual chart could be said to reflect where we need to engage in this sort of transformation, or suffer the consequences!

So becoming a part of nature again is not an easy process, because it involves this descent into the Underworld, a death and a rebirth. It involves being torn apart and put together again. It involves surrendering everything we think we know. It is not something we can ‘add on’ to our present selves, which is exactly how the one-sided rational intelligence thinks. That is not the nature of real transformation. The scientific attitude, which has the illusion that it can understand and control nature, has to be surrendered. The rational mind itself, which has overreached itself in our culture and suffers from the illusion that it alone has real knowledge, needs to be surrendered. It is life that is king, not the human rational intelligence and will. Our ability to observe, measure and theorise needs to be in the service of our whole being and the whole of life, rather than attempting to dominate it. The rational, scientific attitude goes very deep in our culture, it has become one of its foundations. So it is not surprising that the services of Pluto are required to transform it. However, I think that this sort of transformation is unlikely for large parts of our culture, particularly as Science continues to be so successful on a material level. But at least the individual is free, if necessary, to undergo this death and rebirth.

What this transformation is perhaps reaching out towards is something primordial, an ancient memory of what we were like before Science and before Christianity. What we may encounter in Pluto’s realm is Chiron in the following form:
“In an old vase-painting he appears in a robe covered with stars, with an uprooted tree over his shoulder carrying his spoils of the chase, and with his dog beside him: a savage hunter and dark god.” (1)

This encounter in the Underworld may result in the emergence of a new type of consciousness, a merging of this dark god of old with the critical intelligence and self-awareness of the modern mind. It is this, perhaps, that the North Node in the nuclear chart is pointing to – it is speaking of our destiny as human beings, which is to resolve these apparent opposites: our rationality and self-awareness, with all its Uranian freedom and radical insights; and the deep well of instinct, natural wisdom and enchantment that Chiron embodies.

(1) The Gods of the Greeks by Kerenyi p160. Quoted in The Astrology of Fate by Liz Greene.

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Friday, January 12, 2007


The Age of Aquarius has no clear starting point. The various ages are based around the fact that the vernal equinox moves backwards very slowly, due to the way the earth spins (Confession: I don’t understand it). The vernal equinox, which occurs in spring when the day and night are of equal length, is the point at which the Sun is at 0 Aries, and this point moves backwards in relation to the constellations at a rate of about 1 degree every 70 years. Our astrology does not take this into account (though Vedic astrology does), so that for what we would call say 24 Sag, the Vedics would lop off about 23 degrees (the amount the zodiac has shifted since about 90BC), and call it one degree Sag. So the point we call 0 Aries - the beginning of the astrological year - has been moving backwards and is now, in reality, somewhere in early Pisces. Which makes this the Piscean Age. When it reaches Aquarius, we will be in the Aquarian Age.

When it will do this is a matter of debate. Do we, for example, treat the constellations as they actually are, or do we use the artificial division into 30 degrees each that our astrology uses?

Whenever that date is, it is clear to me that we are moving from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age, if only from the point of view of what is the defining source of knowledge in our western culture. The ultimate source of authority in the Piscean Age was Christianity, whose central motif is the figure of Christ on the Cross – a Piscean motif, if there ever was one. Our new priests of the unseen are the scientists, science has become the ultimate source of authority. And Science is associated with Aquarius.

In my blog the other day ‘The Galactic Age of Sagittarius’, I was arguing, based on the equally slow movement of the Galactic Centre, that we live in a Sagittarian Age, an era of ‘sky religion’, where the ultimate nature of things is to be found in the Christian heaven, or the Muslim paradise etc, though that age is coming to an end, and in 200 years we will be in the Galactic Age of Capricorn.

To say that we are moving from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age is the conventional way of seeing things, and it makes sense. The Galactic Ages are my own invention, and they also make sense. But now that the Galactic Centre is part of astrology - and its presence is undeniably fundamental - I think we have to view its 2100 year journey through each sign also as an important Age in itself. So how do we reconcile these 2 systems?

The 2 systems are coming from opposite ends of the psyche. The first system is based on the apparent movement of the Sun in relation to the constellations – that which is brightest and most conscious and differentiated within ourselves; and the other system is based on the movement of the Galactic Centre in relation to the constellations – that which is most unconscious and least differentiated in us, but which is no less powerful for that, and which connects us to our primordial origins and the universal process of evolution.

So with these 2 different symbolisms being in relation to each other, we are in a position to give more clarity to each of them. The Solar Piscean Age (as I shall call it) is not just an age where things are more generally Piscean. It is more specifically an Age where the individual, differentiated consciousness, the ideal human being, if you like, is pointed in a Piscean direction, thinks of itself in Piscean terms. And the ideal human in this Age has been the Saint, one who is above worldly desires, connected to God and working for the benefit of others.

The Galactic Ages connect us to the whole process of unfoldment of matter-consciousness, from singularity to universe and back again, and the meaning of that journey. The Galactic Ages, in other words, deal with cosmology – our conception of the universe in its totality, and by extension, humanity’s place in it. In the west, we are drawing towards the end of the Sagittarian Age, which began in about 80AD, and has had a Christian cosmology as its most defining influence: the universe was created by God, who is a sky god, somewhere up there, and who is also an authoritarian, jealous, fundamentalist God. These are all Sagittarian themes.

The Solar Piscean Age has to a large extent overlapped with the Galactic Sagittarian Age. These signs are square to each other, which suggests that our creation myths – as found in the Old Testament – and our ideal human being, in the form of Christ, do not rest easily together. Christ’s message was one of love, whereas the Old Testament universe was ruled by fear of God. And this contradiction runs right through the church, particularly in its orthodox Catholic form. At the same time, both signs are Jupiter ruled, and the God of the Old Testament is held to be the same God as that of the New Testament.

So what does the future hold? What are the natures of the Solar and Galactic Ages we are moving into, those of Aquarius and Capricorn respectively? I think we can see signs of them already. In the Solar Aquarian Age, the ideal human is rational, scientific, benevolent, forward-thinking, original, individualistic and non-conformist. We can see this emphasis in schools – R.E. (religious education) has a lowly place on the curriculum, the Piscean saint is no longer our ideal. Whereas Science has a very prominent place in the curriculum. And the education system concentrates on the development of the rational mind – one-sidedly, some might argue. And the universe we are moving into – the new Galactic Age - is no longer one created and ruled by Yahweh, by God’s Law (Sagittarius), but one based on Natural Law (Capricorn).

This process is still in a transitional stage, as we have not reached these new Ages. But the combination of Aquarius and Capricorn is an interesting one. On the one hand, we can see them working well together: the scientific Aquarian living in a universe governed by natural law. And to the extent that the co-ruler of Aquarius is Saturn, which also rules Capricorn, this will work well. But Aquarius is also ruled by Uranus the rebel, and will feel trapped in a cosmology that is too relentlessly mechanical.

In 2000 years or so, the Solar and Galactic Age points will coincide (in late Capricorn or early Aquarius), an event that only happens about every 12,750 years. It is a point at which humanity can feel fully at home in the universe, when we’re not scratching our heads, so to speak, and wondering why we are here, and putting ourselves at odds with nature. The last time this conjunction occurred would have been around 8750BC, just before agriculture became widespread and large-scale settlements arose. It was a time before ‘civilisation’ and developed technologies and all the problems that come with them, when we would have known our place in the universe much more clearly.

So in 2000 years or so we will have another chance to feel at home in the universe. We have taken the evolutionary steps of developing technologies and civilisations, but it has inevitably put us at odds with nature, and alienated us from the instinctive knowledge that we too are part of nature. Perhaps, in 2000 years time, as the Solar and Galactic Ages come together again, we will find that new synthesis, and then begin on the next cycle of evolution.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007


There is a debate raging in the UK at present about the proposed production of human/mammal hybrid embryos for the purposes of medical research. Human egg cells are hard to procure in any quantity, so the idea is to get hold of say a rabbit egg cell, remove the nuclear DNA, put in human DNA, and allow the cells to multiply for a few days to create an embryo on which experiments can then be carried out. The embryo would then be destroyed. We are assured the embryo would not be a hybrid, but 99% human.

Half of me shudders at this proposal, and the other half is excited by what could be achieved. And this reflects the divisions we find amongst people around scientific progress, though what I usually encounter there is partisan support for one side or the other. Public debates about anything seem to be characterised by polarisation, and even otherwise intelligent people often see just one side of many important questions.

The one I encounter most is health care, where you have the conventional medical establishment rubbishing alternative medicine such as homeopathy, and you get some alternative medical practitioners really reluctant to give any credibility to conventional medicine. They’re as bad as each other in my book.

One of our government ministers has recently rubbished organic food, saying there is no scientific evidence that it is more nutritious (fair enough), but then dismissing it as a ‘lifestyle choice’. The minister, David Milliband, is a ghastly young Labour man, and his patronising attitude makes me want to punch him, hard. On the other side of the debate, I know proponents of organic food who dismiss the scientific argument without even investigating it – they have a gut level conviction that organic food is better (which it may well be), but which they do not feel the need to justify.

In the case of genetic engineering, I think I’m the only person I know who thinks there might be benefits as well as drawbacks to it. People simply don’t want to know. And these same people consider their viewpoint to be in some way more enlightened. Well I don’t. To my mind it’s just ignorance, the same sort of ignorance, or unexamined gut-level response, that creates the mob mentality.

An example I like to give is that of the use of bacteria to produce human growth hormone. The relevant DNA from a human is spliced into some bacteria, which are then allowed to multiply, and the hormone is harvested and used to supplement a lack of it in some children, who would otherwise grow up to be dwarves. As far as I know the bacteria have not escaped into the wild and produced mutant monsters. This bit of genetic engineering seems to me to be such a good thing. But you won’t get the anti-GM brigade giving it any credit. They’re probably the same people who in recent years managed to deprive dwarves of a livelihood by stopping the film/theatrical world from using them to play the parts of children.

One of the arguments used against scientific progress is that it may be misused. The critics are right. Any scientific advance that can be misused almost certainly will be misused. Which probably applies to most scientific advances. But on its own, it is not a sufficient argument against any particular scientific advance. It is just one factor to be taken into account.

I suppose at this point I’d better drag in some astrology, or I’d have got you here under false pretences. What struck me about the human/animal hybrid issue is that it is occurring with Chiron in Aquarius. And in July, Chiron will reach the middle of Aquarius, a point which can describe the defining issues of a planet in a sign (like Pluto being 3 months short of 15 Sag when 9/11 occurred).

Chiron is uniquely part human and part animal. He is a centaur, and he is wounded. And he is in the sign of Aquarius, the scientist. Chiron is moving towards Neptune in Aquarius, so maybe we also have the figure of the mad (Neptune) scientist, one who is blurring the boundaries (Neptune) between animal and human (Chiron).

Knowing that there is this symbolism behind the issue has affected how I feel about it. It makes me want to give more credence to the side that shudders at these experiments, because the symbolism is telling me there is something wounded about it.

A good book on this subject is H.G.Wells’ ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’, a short, visionary novel, published in 1896, about a mad scientist who creates human/animal hybrids. It’s a gripping read, and the full text can be found on the internet.

There is a connection between Chiron and Uranus, the ruler of Aquarius, and scientific advance, which I did some research into, but I’ll leave that for another blog.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Well I got up to Christmas time and I thought I’m going to have a week off blogging, I want a break, and before I knew it I’d done 5 posts in succession on the Galactic Centre. And all out of my own head, because the GC hasn’t yet got much in the way of accepted astrological meaning.

Before I say any more, I have to declare an interest: I have the Galactic Centre conjunct my Saturn, widely conjunct my Moon, and sextile both my Sun and Ascendant. With my Saturn and GC in the 3rd House, it is not surprising that I should be writing about it. And with a staid planet like Saturn being the strongest aspect, the GC is not so likely to go to my head, as it can so easily do. But it also means I am less likely to do something earth-changing. I’m just likely to do quite a good job of writing about it – giving ‘form’ to it. And it happened because I let go of Saturn, so to speak, in deciding to have a break from blogging.

The Galactic Centre is at just under 27 Sag, and moves at just under a minute a year. From the point of view of a human lifetime, it is effectively stationary. It will move just over 1 degree in the course of a human life. So instead of one fixed point – the earth – astrology now has two, one very close to home, and one extremely distant, with the planets and their cycles positioned between them. (The stars, of course, are also fixed, but in our astrology they are a background that shapes, rather than elements of the psyche). These planets – or gods – partake of both fixed points. From the point of view of the earth, these gods are like us, only more powerful. From the point of view of the Galactic Centre, these gods are archetypal forces, elusive and subtle enough to be an expression of Absolute or primordial consciousness, consciousness as it was before time and space and the universe unfolded from its black hole ‘singularity’. That was a bit of a mouthful, wasn’t it?

So the planets mediate between ourselves and what we feel to be the ultimate nature of things (which is not something fixed, but alive and vast and beyond the grasp of any one human consciousness). And as the planets move outwards, they become less recognisably human and more the expression of something other, something bigger and wider than ourselves. If there is anything that Pluto is not, it is a human being. Pluto represents the death of everything that to us is ordinary and human – and in that death lies the possibility of an experience of something very real, not conditioned by the fears and insecurities and delusions that seem to be part of being human. Funny thing, but whenever I write about Pluto I feel him turn up in the room behind me. I'm sure he won't mind me telling you.

From a wider point of view, the Galactic Centre is not a fixed point. It moves through a complete sign in about 2150 years. Which means that it moved into Sagittarius in about 80 AD, and into Scorpio in about 2100 BC.

It’s about the same time-scale – 25000 years for the whole cycle – as the precession of the equinoxes, which gives rise to the various ages, and describes the apparent slow movement of the Sun at 0 Aries in relation to the astrological constellations. (We are currently moving from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age, which is allegedly an age of brotherhood. Huh!) They are probably therefore astronomically related phenomena, and perhaps someone could enlighten me here? I guess the answer is that the GC moves along with the stars in relation to the Sun, it is part of the same background, and its movement through Sag is part of the same fiction, due to precession, that we tell ourselves about the signs the planets are in. Presumably the GC occupies a fixed place in the sky at about 4 Sag, and always has done, if you include the precession of the equinoxes (like the Vedic astrologers do). Or am I completely muddled? Can anyone follow me?

So this slow movement of the GC suggests that humanity’s relationship to the Absolute changes over time, we see it through different eyes. We are currently in what we could call the Sagittarian Galactic Age (which has about 200 years to go), and before that we were in the Scorpionic Age. What might this mean? You could say that this relationship to the Absolute is the most fundamental relationship of all. It concerns why we are here at all and what constitutes a fruitful life. It concerns the metaphysical underpinning to life, on which we all have our own ideas, formulated or unformulated, wrong-headed and derivative or intelligent and considered. It concerns religion and ‘spirituality’.

You could say that the present Sagittarian Age is one of sky religion, often of a fundamentalist nature, which fits well the meaning of Sagittarius, as well as fitting in well with what has been going on, in the ‘civilised world’ at least, for the last 2000 odd years. The real nature of things is not to be encountered here on earth but somewhere else, in the Christian heaven or in the Muslim paradise or, in Buddhism, beyond the endless round of death and re-birth. And people often hold these beliefs dogmatically, particularly when they are part of a religious organisation or society where you believe what you believe because your neighbour does.

So it looks like we have another 200 years of this to go before we start to see the Galactic Centre through another lens. But 200 years is also a short time, it is only 10% of the GC’s time in a sign. And though there is no lack of religious fundamentalism in the world, it has nevertheless become possible in the last few hundred years to opt out of the religious orthodoxies, and it is this, perhaps, that is the sign that the GC is gradually coming to the end of its time in Sagittarius. I don’t think ‘sky religion’ is all bad – it’s just not to my taste. I don’t see anything in principle wrong in seeing life in terms of light and transcendence. And the idea of an immortal spirit does appeal to me. It’s just that Sagittarius often also has a well-known reluctance to engage with the earth element running alongside, and informing, its enthusiasm for light and transcendence. And this reluctance weakens people and makes them vulnerable to the crusading, dogmatic element, with all its false certainties, that we also find in Sagittarius.

This disregard for the earth element is reflected, as the GC nears its term in Sag, in our environmental crisis. Chiron (not the usual asteroid) is the image that makes up the constellation Sagittarius, and he is also an image of nature wounded: he has the body of a horse that has an incurable injury to its knee.

In Europe, the time when it was least possible to be heretical was probably from around 1000 to 1500 AD, when the Catholic Church was at its most powerful, and this would have started around the time the GC reached the middle part of Sagittarius; just as, in our own time, Pluto reached the middle of Sagittarius in 2001 at the same time as militant Islam reached a peak through 9/11 and the events following on from it.

So what might the Galactic Centre in Scorpio have meant – i.e. from about 2100BC to about 80AD? Scorpio is a strongly instinctual sign, for Scorpios the instincts and nature are what is sacred and a source of power (Scorpio). This is much more characteristic of tribal, ‘pre-civilised’ religion than it is of Sagittarius, and this is what, to a much greater extent, we would have found in those times. A friend of mine who is Native American, and a teacher from the Chippewa-Cree tradition, refuses to speculate about what came before or will come after this life – for him it is unknowable – and his ideal is to be a balanced human being, entirely content to be here on the earth.

Scorpio is also associated with the planting of a seed – just as a Pluto (Scorpio’s ruler) transit can plant the seed of some new way of being, and just as Christopher Columbus planted the seed of New World settlement through reaching America in 1492, while Pluto was in Scorpio. A seed is something small and hidden, yet powerful in its unfoldment.

The ‘Axial Age’, a coined termed by Karl Jaspers, lasted from 800 to 200BC, while the Galactic Centre was in Scorpio, and was a time when many of the early revolutionary thinkers/mystics were alive in Europe, India and China, men such as Confucius, the Buddha, the authors of the Upanishads, and many of the Greek thinkers. During this period, according to Jaspers, “the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently... And these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today". (Wikipedia)

As with the events around the GC in Sag peaking in the middle of the sign, so too did the Axial Age begin soon after the Galactic Centre reached the middle of Scorpio.

So what might characterise the Age we are moving into, the Galactic Age of Capricorn? The GC is nearing the end of Sag, so we might expect to see a few signs of what GC in Capricorn might be, even though it’s 200 years away. What immediately springs to mind is the religion of materialism. I don’t think there was ever a Golden Age when humanity was not materialistic. It’s just that we’re a lot better at it these days, to the point where the creation of wealth for wealth’s sake has become a sort of widespread religion, an ultimate value that gives meaning to many people’s lives, or so they think. Even the creation of the wealth we need to live on is given an inflated moral value, particularly in the USA. (So you can take care of yourself - good, now do something interesting!) All this is a relatively recent phenomenon, and may therefore signal the Age to come: the Age of Mammon! It may be that we ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to mankind’s ability to worship material wealth. More positively, it may be an age when people with real wisdom, based on age and experience, will come to be valued more – hierarchy in the best sense. Sagittarius, with its bias towards the ‘puer’ archetype, reflects our modern youth culture that does not know how to value old people. And the tendency of organised religion to worship dead images of perfection instead of valuing real people. What we're likely to get in the Capricornian Age is the 'senex' archetype, which at its worst is the "appalling old waxworks" - Prince Charles' description of the current Chinese leaders.

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