Sunday, April 29, 2007


The Scottish National Party (SNP) is a centre-left political party which campaigns for Scottish independence. It currently regularly polls the second highest number of votes [after Labour] for a political party in Scotland. The SNP has 6 of 59 Scottish seats in the UK Parliament, and 25 of 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament, where they are the official opposition. (Wiki)

This Thursday 3rd May, elections are being held for the Scottish Parliament, which was established in 1999 under the present Labour government, devolving certain powers to Scotland. All the signs are that the SNP will emerge from the election as the largest single party in the Parliament, displacing Labour, though without a majority. Polls among Scottish people have regularly begun to show a majority wanting full independence.

This is not good news for Labour, as it currently has 39 MPs in Scottish seats (compared to the Tories’ single seat), and independence will make it that much harder for them to win general elections in England. There does seem to be an unstoppable momentum developing, however, and I think it is a good thing. Small countries (like Ireland) seem to do well economically within the EU, so I don’t think they will have to worry on that score. But more importantly, the Scottish are a separate race to the English, by whom they have been effectively ruled for centuries, and I always think it’s a good thing if a people can govern themselves. I think it’ll be good for England too.

I also think that the smaller the country is, the easier it is for the individual to feel that they count, that they can make a difference. In a democracy, what does an individual vote count for? Absolutely nothing. It makes no difference at all. The individual is powerless at a national level, and often at a local level, and the outcome you are therefore most likely to get in an election is herd-think, rule by the unconscious mob-mind – and remember Hitler was initially elected democratically. Of course, democracy does have the ability to chuck out a leader who is a bad lot, and that is a strength. But as Churchill said, Democracy is the worst sort of political system - apart from all the rest!

I digress. Time for some astrology, and a chart for Scotland. This is not easy, as we can't be entirely confident of the year of its founding (842 AD), let alone the actual date. Scotland was formed from the conquest of the Pictish kingdom by the Irish kingdom of Dalradia (in what is now Argyle) by Kenneth MacAlpin. In his ‘Book of World Horoscopes’ (from which the above information comes), Nicholas Campion says: “We do not know precisely which year the union took place. However, if we set a chart for the Aries ingress of 842, that would fit with the astrological practice of the time, as practised in the Arab world, in which the Aries ingress prior to an important political event would have signified that event. Given that military campaigns usually took place in the summer, there is an excellent chance that the Aries ingress of 842 immediately preceded the Dalridian conquest of Pictavia.”

So we have a chart for March 16 842, 16.21, Edinburgh.

Click to Enlarge

In my blog of 18th March, I pointed out that the next day’s partial solar eclipse at 28 Pisces was conjunct the UK Moon at 29 Pisces (1066 chart) and square the UK Uranus at 29 Sag. I continued: “Uranus is, amongst other things, about splitting, and only today Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist party, has been announcing his plans for how a Scottish government would work and his plans for a referendum.”

So there you have it, with the added point, that I hadn’t clocked at the time, that the Scottish Pluto is at 27 Pisces! So that eclipse really did have a lot to do with Scotland’s desire to break away from England (Uranus) and assert its own power (Pluto). On top of this, Pluto is squaring the Scottish natal Pluto by transit this year. So the astrology seems to suggest that this week's elections are likely to play a crucial role in Scotland’s moves towards independence. And the Scottish chart, artificial as it is, is already looking like it might work.

The Scottish chart has Moon at 7 Aries conjunct Uranus at 13 Aries (an interesting correspondence with the UK 1066 chart Moon square Uranus). Freedom and independence are important to the Scottish people. This Moon-Uranus in Aries is square to Mars at 14 Cancer, showing that we are dealing with a warrior race. If we add on Saturn-Neptune in Capricorn, we have a Cardinal t-square, which becomes a Cardinal Grand Cross if you add on Node in Libra. With this sort of astrology, I am amazed there haven’t been more rebellions, and given that conditions are now right, it can only be a matter of time before Scotland is independent. Maybe it is their Saturn in Capricorn that has kept them realistic about independence and actually quite at home in the Union, through the Protestant work ethic that they share with England (1801 chart - UK Sun at 10 Capricorn conjunct IC).

What about timing? By transit, Pluto and then Uranus will be hitting this Moon-Uranus-Mars-Saturn-Neptune-Node from 2011 onwards, at the time of the next Scottish elections, and a year or two after the next UK general election. So the move towards independence will probably be greatly empowered by these transits and the run-up to them: it seems reasonable to suppose that these 2 elections will result in greatly increased numbers of SNP MPs in both the British and Scottish Parliaments, with probably a clear majority for the SNP in the Scottish Parliament from the 2011 election onwards. This will only be the start of the Pluto transit, and we can expect to see full independence as the Pluto transit to the Grand Cross finishes about 5 years later, around 2015/2016.

Interestingly, Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP, was born on 31 Dec 1954, giving him Sun at about 9 Capricorn conjunct Node at 5 Capricorn, which interacts strongly with the Scottish Grand Cross, and indicates a re-empowerment for him, through Pluto, from about 2011 onwards as well.

Back to the Scottish Chart. The Progressed Chart has Node conjunct MC in 2010, and the converse Progressed has Pluto conjunct MC in 2010. So the Government (MC) will have some sort of encounter with its destiny (Node) and be re-empowered (Pluto) around 2010.

So the astrology for Scotland around both the 2007 and 2011 elections suggest to me that the SNP is going to gain considerable ground in both, probably becoming the largest party this time, becoming the majority party in 2011, and this setting the stage for moves towards full independence in the succeeding few years. Looking at it the other way round, events now and where they seem to be going lend plausibility to the 842 Aries ingress chart for Scotland.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Buddhism has what is known as the ‘no-self’ doctrine which, applied to all phenomena, becomes the doctrine of emptiness (of which there are a number of kinds!) It’s easy for all this to become very heady – which some Buddhists can be very prone to – but the basic idea is that our sense of who we are is not fixed and enduring. As astrologers we’re on familiar territory here, because we regularly observe ourselves and others changing in times of major transits. But we only believe it partially: if we feel criticised, for example, we tend to want to defend ourselves, to protect our sense of who we are, instead of looking at the criticism with equanimity, and taking it on or discarding it as we feel appropriate.

So this is the reason for the ‘no-self’ doctrine: as human beings we treat what is a working construct – the self or ego – as something permanent, something that gives us a sense of security in an uncertain universe.

And this easily translates into the interplay between Saturn and Neptune. We do need a sense of self, a sense of ourselves as a centre of experience, but we need to get it right. Too much Neptune, and you’ve got someone who isn’t very present, who is too dreamy, lacks a strong sense of what they think and feel, and cannot achieve practical results; they find it hard to take responsibility for their lives, and may become parasitic and manipulative. Too much Saturn and you have someone who certainly knows what they think and believe, but their self is rigid, it is like a great wall around them, and it tends to be based mainly on their ability to earn money and recognition and respectability, along with a sense of superiority to others who are less ‘successful’. OK, I admit it, I’ve just had an encounter with someone like this, who has Sun-Saturn-Jupiter conjunct in Capricorn, and it was bruising!

So while we’re here on this planet we need an ego, a sense of self. There may be other realities before or after death where we don’t need a sense of self, but I wouldn’t know about that. If consciousness continues after death, it’s quite possible that Saturn as embodiment disappears, and we are just left with Neptune, in which we do not experience ourselves as being at the centre of things, and there is no protective barrier between ourselves and reality. That is the Buddhist view, along with the idea that we cannot handle it, and we flee back to embodied existence. That is where I part company with e.g. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, because I don’t believe that I was born just because I couldn’t handle Reality. I’m on this earth because it’s a beautiful place to be, and I want to fully appreciate that before I die. Nor do I believe I have a ‘purpose’ being here: that seems to me to be a bit of an abstraction, it takes me away from my experience, which is that I do what I do, and I feel very happy about quite a lot of it.

So whether or not anything continues after death, what I do know is that I’m here, and that I need a strong yet flexible sense of myself. I need Saturn in order to feel I’ve arrived, that I’m real, and that I am building and creating myself; but I also need Neptune to let go of all that, not to take it too seriously (“It’s only money,” as I said last night to someone who had lost some), to allow in new experiences and perspectives, and to remember that others, with equal validity, are also centres of experience.

And it’s not just an intellectual exercise in having the right attitude. In a society based on a one-sided Saturn, I think that generous actions, doing stuff for other people purely because you want to (NOT ‘ought to’ – that’s Saturn) helps get the balance right. Because practically speaking, the best way to understand the no-self doctrine is to be unselfish, but not in a self-sacrificing way.

I think a good image for a balanced Saturn-Neptune, and a balanced self, is a cell membrane. It’s tough, it lasts for years, it contains, yet it is flexible and delicate and porous.
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Monday, April 23, 2007


Astrological symbolism can sometimes work itself out very literally. I have noticed this in the case of Saturn, whose presence can result in the building or demolition of walls (one of Saturn’s meanings is to do with defensive boundaries).

Israel was founded in 1948 with Saturn at 16 Leo. The country has just finished its second Saturn Return, and during this period has been erecting the Israeli West Bank Barrier which, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, has succeeded in reducing terrorist attacks on Israel.

Construction of the Berlin Wall began on Aug 13 1961, with Saturn at 24 Capricorn. Demolition began in November 1989, 5 months short of its 1st Saturn Return. This wall was erected to stop defections from East to West Germany, and was known in the East as “The Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart”.

Glastonbury Festival, now the largest Festival of its kind in the world (and down the road from me) began as Glastonbury Fayre in June 1971. In the year 2000 100,000 tickets were sold and there were a further 150,000 gatecrashers. This caused such public safety concerns that its future was under threat, so the outcome of the Festival’s Saturn Return was the erection of a huge fence in time for the 2002 Festival. It certainly worked, but my experience at the Festival was that while the criminal element was hugely reduced, which was a relief, a lot of the interesting characters were also not there. I guess this is the price of Saturn: he is needed for social order, there is no way round that, but that means rules that edit out whatever doesn’t fit, which can be interesting, wacky and creative as well as criminal. But in myth he did eat his own children, so we have to expect it.

On April 10 this year, the Americans began the construction of a wall around a Sunni district in Baghdad. The chart for America’s efforts in Iraq – the Iraq War – is set for 5.33am, 20/3/2003, Baghdad. This chart has Saturn at 22.45 Gemini closely conjunct the IC. The Moon, being the closest ‘planet’ to the earth, triggers the energy of all the other planets. On April 10, the Progressed Moon of the Iraq War chart was at 21.28 Sag, almost exactly opposing the natal Saturn. So again we have a connection between Saturn and the erection of walls/boundaries.

Will the Baghdad Wall be successful? Saturn in the April 10 Chart is of course opposite Neptune, which must be the stupidest time conceivable to start building a wall. What has become apparent lately is that despite the hugely heightened security in Baghdad as a result of the American ‘surge’, the bombers are still getting through, the most prominent case being the bombing of the Parliament building. This is probably a function of Mars’ present passage through Pisces. Mars was in Pisces in the Baghdad Wall chart, and in this sign is probably very good at flowing through walls if it needs to. So the Baghdad Wall probably won’t work very well.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


A short article on the front page of the local newspaper is announcing a house for sale that has a front door carved in the shape of female genitalia, while the inside of the house has been turned into a Tantric Sex Temple. It’s business as usual in Glastonbury, UK. The local Catholic Church has a youth march up the High St every year, but last year proved to be the final one, due to those nice young Christians confronting many of the crystal-selling wand-purveying shop staff in the High St, spitting at them and calling them Satanists etc. This event made the headlines of the local paper.

Glastonbury has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, and in the Middle Ages it was home to Glastonbury Abbey, one of the 2 great places of Christian power in England, along with Canterbury. All that changed in the Reformation, and all we have now are the ruins. It’s a small town in Somerset with a huge number of healers, astrologers, shamans, charlatans, tarot readers, psychics, mediums and just about every religion you can think of. The High St, according to Vajramala, is like Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, and she complains that you can’t even buy a pair of knickers. Mind you, it gives me an enhanced appreciation for Woolworths and Morrisons, which someone once described to me as “Gateways to Ordinary Reality.”

Of course we get a lot of tourists, and just as a lot of Brits are prepared to believe the wild claims that Native Americans sometimes make, so too are many Americans prepared to believe the invented religions and spurious claims to authenticity that you get in Glastonbury. There is, for example, an artefact called ‘The Blue Bowl’ that was arranged to be ‘discovered’ 100 years ago, and it’s put about that it is the Holy Grail. One American I know felt very disillusioned when a group of us were looking at the chart for the ‘discovery’, and not taking remotely seriously this claim. She had thought for years that it was literally true, and had brought over parties of tourists from the USA where she introduced them to the ‘Holy Grail’. Mind you, there are plenty of Brits who are prepared to believe this sort of stuff, often members of what I call the English Head-mysticism tradition. They’ve often got degrees, they know about lots of ‘occult’ things, often spurious (in my opinion), such as the Glastonbury Zodiac, and they mistake their ‘knowledge’, which is endless, for wisdom. My considered response is a desire to strangle and pulverise and dismember these people, not out of hatred, but from a sincere wish that out of such annihilation something real may emerge.

I think, though, if you leave something spurious for long enough, what you get is an established religion that does act as a genuine vehicle for something more profound. Who says mythology has to be based on historical fact? Let’s just not confuse the two. But I’ll never be able to take seriously the idea that Christ or the Buddha, who were only in their early 30s, could possibly have had the level of wisdom they are credited with. At a certain age you have to start trusting your own experience, and I ask, has anyone reading this ever met anyone in their early 30s with a full quota of the sort of experience-based insight that you can very occasionally get in old people? And how could you tell, apart from knowing someone well? I also find hard to take seriously the idea that a military general, i.e. Mohammed, could have been God’s special messenger, unless it was the Old Testament God, which fits quite well.

In our astrology discussion group, which meets every couple of weeks and is generally quite anarchic but fruitful, the subject of a chart for Glastonbury keeps coming up. We base it on the date when Glastonbury was given its charter, which was on 23rd June 1705. The calendar has shunted forward by 11 days since then (it seems to have taken us a long time to establish exactly how many days!) giving 4th July 1705. But there’s no time of day given. But there is a traditional technique of putting on the ASC the planet that you reckon rules the chart or the event. This is how one of the Gemini Rising charts for the USA was generated: Uranus, the planet of revolution, was held to have ruled the Declaration of Independence, and it was in Gemini at the time. And why not? Astrology is based on the idea that there is a relationship between symbolic reality and experiential reality, and which end you want to start from seems to me a matter of choice. Which isn’t the same as fiddling the chart to fit the facts, i.e. the dark art of rectification, which I nevertheless practice, intellectually indefensible (to quote Nick Campion) as it is.

So what we were left with was deciding what planet to put on the ASC. Neptune seemed the obvious choice, Glastonbury being genuinely a place of pilgrimage, psychic experiences, multiple religions and candy-floss spirituality. We kept returning to this one every so often, and of course plenty of bits fitted, but we weren’t going Wow! Apart from anything, it made the ASC Aries, while Glastonbury can be a very hard place to make anything happen.

A friend reminded me a couple of months back that Glastonbury is traditionally the Isle of the Dead. I’d never really thought about it before (having been here 8 years) but I realised that yes, Glastonbury is a kind of Underworld, people are drawn to live here for reasons they don’t understand (or sometimes spat out very quickly), and almost invariably get immediately shoved into some deep transformational process, often painful, and at double the usual rate of intensity. That’s what happened to me when I moved here in Oct 1998, and things haven’t slowed down since. And now it’s feeling like time to go, I’m realising that I have been in an Underworld all this time without quite knowing it, and that I’m slowly emerging into a more ordinary, concrete, collectively-lived reality again. And because it’s an Underworld, it’s not a place for overt achievement, for 10th House stuff. I’ve found it’s been a good place to build up skills, and do some good work, but it’s always held back, I can keep things ticking over but not much more. If you want to achieve things while living in Glastonbury, I think you often need to have your work elsewhere. And that, I think, is why you get so many wonky projects going on in Glastonbury, all these courses and teachers, for example, where more often than not there’s something a bit odd about them. And plenty of people who can’t see that.

So yes, Glastonbury is an Underworld, and therefore you can argue it should have Pluto on the ASC at 18 Leo. As soon as we looked at this one, everyone started going Yes! This one feels right! There’s still some questions about the Moon, but not on my part: 4th House Sag, it welcomes pilgrims and visitors from afar by the bucket-load. And Moon conjunct Chiron: I notice it time and again when people visit, something gets moved on or healed for them. And Sun conjunct Jupiter in 11th House Cancer: there is a strong community dimension to Glastonbury. It’s square to 9th House Neptune: it’s a ‘spiritually’(Neptune) based community, a good bit of it daft and weird (Neptune). There’s plenty more I could say, but I’ll leave it there.

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