Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Uranus-Neptune, Magic and Consciousness

A conjunction of 2 outer planets is a very powerful thing, it sets all sorts of new and transformative forces in action for many years afterwards. And we can use quite a wide orb when assessing its influence. The most recent such conjunction was Uranus and Neptune, which was exact in 1993, but operative for pretty much the rest of the nineties. And then, remarkably, since 2003 we have had a mutual reception of Uranus and Neptune, which acts like a conjunction, and so has prolonged the influence of the original 1993 conjunction.

A mutual reception occurs between 2 planets when each is in a sign that the other rules. So Uranus is in Pisces, a sign ruled by Neptune; and Neptune is in Aquarius, a sign ruled by Uranus.

I think that one expression of this continuation of the conjunction has been the continual development of the internet: we haven’t just seen an initial burst of creativity, followed by a period of adjustment. The creativity has gone on and on and shows no sign of letting up. We can expect this exceptional vitality to continue for at least another 2 years, when Uranus starts to enter Aries.

We can compare this to the previous outer planet conjunction, that of Uranus and Pluto in the sixties. This caused a huge social upheaval, with all sorts of progressive ideas coming in and old values being discarded and authorities being challenged. Its effects are still with us, but that initial burst of creativity did not last into the seventies, which were much more characterised by disillusion. If Uranus and Pluto had moved into mutual reception, the sixties would most likely have continued well into the seventies.

Uranus governs electronics and insights and progressive social ideas, and Neptune governs the imagination and the dissolving of boundaries. So we can see globalisation coming out of this, and its particular expression via the internet, where boundaries between people are dissolved (Neptune) electronically (Uranus) and new types of communities (like the astroblogosphere!) can spring up (Uranus).

It is sometimes said that people had much stronger psychic abilities when they lived tribally or as hunter gatherers. And the reason was that these abilities were needed. You needed to know where the game was, you needed to know where other people were and if they were safe etc. We are less psychic now, not because we represent some sort of degeneration from a pure original humanity (which is sometimes how it gets put: the idealisation of tribal people), but because we haven’t needed to be psychic. It’s like a muscle that hasn’t been used.

I have often thought that the internet is a good place for psychic occurrences, because it is such a fluid, immediate medium. And you NEED to be psychic if you are going to make friends and communicate coherently with all these people that you will never talk to or meet in the flesh. I keep getting this when I do email readings for people from all over the world. They keep accusing me of being psychic in my interpretations! Now this is not something I am conscious of. But it may well be happening, because to do a useful reading, you have to tune in to someone. To do this purely over the internet, you need to be ‘psychic’ – a modern word that kind of mystifies and sets apart and even rubbishes what is a perfectly natural human ability.

It is easy to think of computers as dehumanising, and they can be. But looked at in this kind of way, they can be humanising, boundaries that have developed over the last few thousand years are melting, as people re-discover their ‘psychic’ abilities when communicating over the internet. But we’re probably hardly conscious of it. This is a big collective shift in consciousness going on, particularly perhaps among young people. You NEED, for example, to have a sixth sense that tells you that your nice new friend is actually an old pervert who’s grooming you. Or not to open that attachment. Or that so and so has just emailed you.

On Monday I put up a post on Eris on this blog. Later on I also posted it at the Visual Astrology blog, and as I did so I changed the first sentence. I came back to this blog to make the same change, to find it had already happened, apart from one word! So magic happens on the internet, my intention alone was enough to bring about an event. What do you make of that?

Speaking of intentions bringing about events, here is an article from bbc news:

Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone.

A neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain will go on sale later this year. "It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer," said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv. "It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment naturally and intuitively," she added.

The brain is made up of about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, which emit an electrical impulse when interacting. The headset implements a technology known as non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) to read the neural activity. Ms Le said: "Emotiv is a neuro-engineering company and we've created a brain computer interface that reads electrical impulses in the brain and translates them into commands that a video game can accept and control the game dynamically."

Of course this isn’t quite the same as what I have been talking about. But it is still also about the dissolution of normal boundaries (Neptune) via an electronic medium (Uranus), and the bringing about of events by intention alone. And this is only the start. There have been plenty of lab experiments already where you wire a person or monkey’s brain up to a computer and they get something to happen by brain activity alone. But it is now just starting to go mainstream. It will be a common experience. And it will really get us all thinking about the nature of consciousness. In a sense it is nothing new, for we do it all the time when we move our body: we think it, and it happens.

Science is getting closer and closer to the seat of personality. For some, this will prove that consciousness is merely an epiphenomenon of matter, an illusory by-product of chemical and electrical activity that can be manipulated just like anything else. For others of us, perhaps, it will show that consciousness and matter are inseparable, it will re-enchant the physical world we live in, which has for so long been separated from, even inimical to, the world of ‘spirit’. And even then, I suspect there will continue to be something elusive and essential that cannot be explained scientifically. We may be able, for example, to provide an objective, physical description of what goes into creating the subjective experience of ‘I’. But you can never describe the experience itself. The closer science gets to this physical description, the more the inherent limits to its type of knowledge will become clear. We have nothing to fear. We are being slowly led into a fascinating contemplation on the nature of consciousness.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Eris and our 100 Year Collective Journey

In practice, Pluto tends to be the planet most used to describe the times we live in. This is because until recently it was the outermost planet, and therefore had the strongest effect on a collective level. Pluto has of course been downgraded to a dwarf planet, but that hasn’t stopped astrologers treating him as a full planet. Which suggests we can do the same for Eris, another ‘dwarf planet’, larger than Pluto and with an orbital period of about 500 years, double that of Pluto.

So the Pluto period we are living in (which is just changing from Sagittarius to Capricorn) needs to be seen in the wider context of the Eris era that we are living in. Eris is the planet that has the most powerful effect on our times, and Pluto and Neptune and Uranus are subsets of this.

So far, so logical. But I’ve found it hard until now to get much of a handle on Eris in Aries, and I suspect others have as well. But if you bring in visual astrology, in which Eris is passing through the constellation Cetus, it becomes easier to unpack.

I’m covering ground I wrote about the other day in my last post on Eris (please read this first). But it occurred to me that this point about Eris being the most defining planet of our times needs emphasising, particularly as, through Cetus, it is possible to get more of a sense of her influence.

Eris averages about 40 years per sign. Her orbit is highly elliptical, so that she spends far longer in some signs than others. She is spending over 100 years in her present sign of Aries, so for our generation Eris is not really a personal planet. She moves much faster through some other signs, so Eris could be considered a personal planet for the people who live through those times. For us she is pretty much a planet belonging to mundane astrology (though as a static element in the natal chart she can be interesting, particularly for people who represent a collective in some way. Just forget the transits.)

In the same way that Eris mischievously threw an apple into the wedding feast, an event that eventually brought about the Trojan War, so we can see Eris as a catalyst, as small events leading to large results. But it is not just any old large result. With Eris being in Cetus, the monster of the deep, the results of Eris’s actions are to transform the collective, for better or for worse.

So 9/11, which occurred at 8.46am on 11 Sept 2001 in New York (with Mars appropriately on the bow of the Archer of Sagittarius), has Eris at 20 Aries square to the MC at 17 Cancer and opposite to the ASC at 14 Libra. (Hmm...New York is the Big Apple (Eris), just as it was the Twin Towers (Saturn in Gemini) that got hit.)

9/11 was a small event relative to what followed, if you look e.g. at the carnage in Iraq. And it deeply transformed the times we live in, collective consciousness went through a huge shift. Pluto in Sagittarius describes part of the nature of that shift: the bursting onto the world stage of religious fundamentalism, whether it was the nationalist Islamism of the Middle East, or the God-driven American desire to impose democracy on the rest of the world.

(Incidentally I tend to doubt conspiracy theories, but here was a real one: the American government’s successful conspiracy to persuade Americans that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. It shows how unintelligent, and how easily manipulated, the Collective can become in times of crisis.)

The same was true of World War I. It completely changed the world, and was catalysed by the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, with Eris opposite the ASC and square to the MC, just as with 9/11.

I think that Eris is very empowered being in both Aries and Cetus. Aries is a good sign for initiating ‘trouble’, and Cetus is the perfect constellation for a collective planet wishing to have an effect on a collective level.

Regardless of the specific nature of Eris, her current placement in Cetus (1930-2036) suggests that we are living through an era in which the Collective is all-important: there can be great and positive transformations on a collective level, and the worst excesses of the mob-mind (as we saw with both Japan and Germany soon after Eris entered Cetus).

So this is the wider, 100 year period we are living through: a time when the collective is very powerful, and humanity is going through some sort of journey in this respect. Add in Eris in Aries, and we have a period in which that collective journey is being continually stimulated by catalytic events which open everything up, bring about the best and worst of humanity, and through that enable us to understand ourselves.

Globalisation, which has intensified since the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the early 1990s, and of course Pluto in Sag, is a key word here. On all sorts of levels, humanity is becoming like one big nation in the context of which we see our own local reality. This is very new, it has never happened before, and it is the journey that Eris in Cetus is taking us through. It is an unprecedented collective transformation, brought about by Eris at her most catalytic in Aries, and in possibly her most natural constellation (as the most collective planet) of Cetus.

So this is what Eris in Cetus is telling us. We’re now all in it together, whether we like it or not. Eris has been showing us since the 1930s how awful we can be together, but also what we can achieve. Look, for example, at the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, which was also described by the Pluto (empowerment) Uranus (radical ideas, progress) conjunction of the time. So again we can see the Uranus-Pluto conjunction taking place within the wider context of Eris and the long transformational collective journey she is taking us on.

Eris has taken us a long way since 1930. We have become increasingly aware of our collective nature in its heights and depths, and there are still 28 years to go till she leaves Cetus. So you can see why so many people have been talking for years about a coming collective shift in consciousness, about 2012, and so on.

I’ve always been a bit sceptical, I tend to think that transformation happens primarily on an individual level, and that you can’t place much faith in people behaving intelligently in large numbers.
But I think Eris is showing us, over a long period, that it doesn’t have to be like this; she is showing us a new vision (Aries) for our collective depths (Cetus), she is showing us how to work together. Which is timely, because without global co-operation in the coming decades, we will cease to flourish, our survival will be threatened. So it needs to be possible, it has to be possible, and Eris is showing us how.

Who knows, maybe Barack Obama is part of this new collective possibility? Because if it doesn’t happen in America, and soon, then it’s not going to. Being English, I back off with distaste from the religious zeal surrounding him. I don’t like it at all when he begins with “Good afternoon believers”. If he was English, I’d take it as irony. But Americans don’t do irony. And he is raising huge expectations in people. But his South Node conjoins the US Sibly Moon (the people) in Aquarius, and Neptune will soon pass over them. And his North Node conjoins the Royal Star Regulus. So something very strong is happening, and it would be strange if he didn’t end up as President one way or another. He is too inexperienced for anyone to be able to know whether he can deliver, whether he can work with Congress, people are having to hope here, which isn’t really what you want when electing a President. But a collective shift is urgently needed, and none of the other candidates seem to be offering it.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Our Sci-Fi Future

Here's one for Pluto in Aquarius (2023-2043):

From bbc news

Machines will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029, a leading US inventor has predicted. Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people's brains to make them more intelligent said engineer Ray Kurzweil. He said machines and humans would eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health.

"It's really part of our civilisation," Mr Kurzweil said. "But that's not going to be an alien invasion of intelligent machines to displace us."

Machines were already doing hundreds of things humans used to do, at human levels of intelligence or better, in many different areas, he said.

"I've made the case that we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence by 2029," he said. "We're already a human machine civilisation, we use our technology to expand our physical and mental horizons and this will be a further extension of that."

Humans and machines would eventually merge, by means of devices embedded in people's bodies to keep them healthy and improve their intelligence, predicted Mr Kurzweil.

"We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains through the capillaries and interact directly with our biological neurons," he told BBC News. The nanobots, he said, would "make us smarter, remember things better and automatically go into full emergent virtual reality environments through the nervous system".

Mr Kurzweil is one of 18 influential thinkers chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century by the US National Academy of Engineering. The experts include Google founder Larry Page and genome pioneer Dr Craig Venter.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Eris, the Zodiac and Cetus the Sea Monster

In my piece of 13th Feb, I referred to Bernadette Brady’s recent article in which she traced the path of Pluto through the constellations in the sky. This is not the same thing as the zodiac, even though the zodiac was originally rooted in certain of the constellations, those which lay behind the path of the Sun through the sky, also called the ecliptic.

The zodiac now is rooted in Earth-Sun based events. So Aries begins at the spring equinox, the point in late March when day and night are of equal length; Cancer begins in late June at the summer solstice, when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky; Libra begins at the autumn equinox; and Capricorn begins at the winter solstice, when the Sun is at its lowest in the sky. So there is a reality to the zodiac, it is just not what you would think it is.

You can work this out for yourself. Look up Equinox on Wikipedia. You will see a table of all the equinoxes and solstices. Go to spring equinox 2008. It occurs at 5.48 GMT on 20 March. Look this up in your ephemeris or astrology programme, and you find the Sun at 0.00 Aries. And you can do the same for the other 3 points.

Admission: I wasn’t aware of some of this until the other night when I managed to find it out from someone at our astrobabble group who is technically more proficient than I.

So the zodiac as we use it is purely a projection onto the sky, but it has its own reality, and it works. But I also think it is through a glass darkly: we are astrologers because we have a visceral sense of the connection between earthly events and the sky, and modern astrology to some extent gives us this. But it is obscured, it is through a glass darkly, because the actual stars are not involved.

You get a much purer and more powerful sense of why you are an astrologer once you start bringing in the stars, and basing at least some of your astrology around sky events you can actually see.

But this wasn’t what I set out to write. I wanted to say something about Eris, because Catherine at Visual Astrology has come up with a list of the constellations that Eris has passed through since 1507.

Eris is larger and considerably further out than Pluto and was only discovered in 2003. She was classified as a dwarf planet about 18 months ago, along with Pluto and Ceres. Because her passage is so slow – moving just under a sign during the whole of the 20th century – it is hard to relate her to the life of an individual person. Astrology sees life as an interlocking series of planetary cycles or part cycles, but Eris’ movement during any one of our lives is so negligible that it is hard to see her as part of this.

This doesn’t make her any less powerful, but she needs to be seen in the context of the much longer cycles of human history. In theory, being the outermost planet of all by a long chalk, she should be the most powerful of all – yet only visible in her effects if you take a sufficiently long view. She properly belongs to mundane astrology.

Eris was a goddess who mischievously threw an apple into a wedding feast, sparking a row that eventually resulted in the Trojan War. So small causes leading to large effects. She is a catalyst. For example, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 occurred with Eris opposite the ASC and square the MC: this event was the trigger for World War I.

In 1930, Eris moved into the constellation Cetus, the sea monster, just a few years (not long for Eris) after moving into the sign of Aries. She will be in Cetus until about 2030, and in Aries until 2044.

Cetus is the whale, which in ancient times was viewed as a monster of the deep. Cetus is therefore a symbol for the collective unconscious. Put the Eris Ingress into Cetus alongside the Eris Ingress into Aries in the late 20s/early 30s, and you have a very potent and warlike combination.

The 1930s saw the rise of collective consciousness in its most destructive form, which this Eris/Cetus/Aries Ingress aptly describes.

Pluto was discovered in 1930, a planet that like Eris can be about small causes leading to large effects; and that like Cetus symbolises the power of the collective.

Nuclear energy was first experimentally achieved by Enrico Fermi in 1934, when his team bombarded uranium with neutrons. Nuclear energy, like Eris, has the quality of small causes (the nucleus, a tiny part of the atom) leading to huge effects. It’s first use was destructive (Eris in Aries) and its impact on the collective has been massive (Cetus), it really has been like a monster emerging from the deep, for better or for worse.

More broadly, this combination of Eris, Aries and Cetus suggests that we are in a long period where the collective can easily be stirred up, often to destructive effect. And we could see the 20th century as the triumph of the collective mind. Democracy became more widespread, for better or for worse. Communism in Russia and China saw society much more in terms of the collective than the individual. Globalisation has its strengths, but the world is also increasingly becoming one westernised mass culture.

In 1937, America changed the date of the inauguration of their Presidents to 20 Jan, at 12pm, a time that since 1949 has had Menkar, the brightest star in Cetus, on the Ascendant. (See my posting of Of Presidents and Sea-Monsters.) This suggests that the President has become less of an independent force, and more of an expression of the collective will. Under this aspect, the best sort of President will be very tuned in to the collective, and able to creatively direct it; while the worst will be not much more than a reflex of the mob-mind.

With Pluto entering Capricorn, a sign of society rather than the individual, we are not likely to see any let up in the near future of the forces attempting to subsume the individual into the collective. On an ordinary level, we can see this in terms of the various crises - environmental, economic, nuclear - that we are facing collectively, and the resultant insecurity that creates. Individuality is seen as a luxury by an insecure society.

But perhaps from 2024 onwards, as Pluto enters freedom-loving Aquarius, and Eris starts to near the end of her long sojourn in Cetus and Aries, there may be more room for the individual.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Pluto's Cycle through the Stars

In her latest Visual Astrology Newsletter, Bernadette Brady has the really interesting idea of tracing the path of Pluto through the heavens from early last century to well into this one. It is interesting not just because Pluto in many ways defines the times we live in, but because Pluto strays way off the ecliptic and so passes through constellations that are not a normal part of the zodiac, but which still have their traditional meanings.

Here is a key excerpt:

"Pluto's cycle through the stars.

If we start the cycle as shown in Figure 1, you will notice that Pluto moves through the top of the constellation Orion and actually sits on the tip of the club. This last occurred in the year 1914 and as Pluto moved onto the weapon of the great heavenly warrior king, World War I erupted. Pluto will, of course, be on Orion's club every 248 years, so it is interesting to note that in the previous occurrence in 1666 that it was the year of the Great Fire of London 2 - 6 September, 1666.

Pluto then moves towards the ecliptic and crosses it (moving south to north) and as it crosses over this point of the two hemispheres, it also passes between the feet of Castor and Pollux, effectively splitting the two twins. It is "coincidences" like this that remind me that the sky, for astrologers, is an enchanted place, for the central issue of the mythology of these twins is that of polarity. Thus to have Pluto, with all its symbolism of polarity in modern astrology, cross from one hemisphere to the other and, at the same time to be "splitting" the heavenly twins is a strong pictorial representation of the nature of this constellation and this planet. Now the last time Pluto split the twins and crossed hemispheres was in 1930, the time of the Wall St Crash and resulting world Depression.

From 1951 to the late 1960s Pluto was traveling through the stars of Leo and entered this constellation through the head of the lion, stressing, I believe, the heady arrogance of the West as it fought against communism and strove for global capitalism in this period. However as Pluto "rolled" down the back of Leo, in 1962/3 it reached the star Zosma. This star is the point where the lion's back was broken by Hercules and as such is associated with the theme of perpetrator /victim. It is a star of suffering, of minority causes and of being "crushed" by a heavy hand. In this period of the early 1960s, as the US was establishing a military base in South Vietnam upgrading the conflict of the Vietnam war there were also race riots in Birmingham, Alabama. The authorities heavily crushed the African-Americans at that time and this lead to the eventual arrest of Martin Luther King. From these two issues - the race riots and the upgrading of the Vietnam conflict, lead to the emergence of the Peace Movement of the 1960s as well as the human rights movement respectively. Thus as Pluto "rolled" down the back of the Lion and over Zosma the floodgates of human rights and of the peace movement opened."

This article isn't yet out there on the net, but you can get the newletter emailed to you free every month if you go to and subscribe at the bottom left of the page.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is there anybody out there?

Why is it that on the one hand there have been loads of claimed sightings of alien craft over the decades; and yet the extensive monitoring of the skies for radio signals showing signs of intelligent life has yielded not a sausage in 50 years?

SETI (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence) researchers have just had a conference called The Sound of Silence to discuss the problem of the sky yielding no signals. Some said that it’s not enough to sit and listen, we need to be putting signals out to other universes so that in 20 or 30 years we might get a response. What if aliens also have the same attitude and are just sitting and listening for messages, with no-one actually putting them out there?

There is another problem, however, which is that if another race turned out to be hostile, it would give them helpful information in order to attack us. So there is a security issue. But Seth Shostack at the SETI institute is not worried: “It’s quite paranoid, given that the one thing we know about aliens – if they do exist – is that they are very, very far away.” He notes that we have been announcing our presence for decades: “Military radar signals have already penetrated deep into space, and early broadcasts of Star Trek and I Love Lucy are washing over one star system a day,” says Shostak. “If they’re listening, they already know we’re here.”

Which still for me leaves the problem of alien spacecraft (which doesn’t seem to have been part of SETI’s agenda). I’ve never seen one, but there are too many documented sightings to dismiss the phenomenon. Many sane people do see these things, and they have been photographed. I tend to think they are fully real, but not real in the same way that, say, a fridge is real. I think there is a lot in what Jung said when he claimed that sightings of flying saucers are projections of the collective unconscious that fit the way modern people look at the universe. I guess hundreds of years ago someone might have met the Virgin Mary or something like that. As I say, these experiences are no less real, and have no less objective content, than ordinary experiences. They are not ‘just’ projections. And they really are communications from another dimension.

I read a book called Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur about 10 years ago, and he makes the same sort of point around all sorts of unusual experiences which are real, but which can never seem to be finally pinned down and proven in the way that the existence of a fridge can be. And he showed how people’s experiences of aliens had changed over the decades since World War II, and how this could be seen as a reflection of general changes in the culture, including science fiction writing.

So as I say, I think this dimension is fully real, but quite possibly not in the normal sense. I guess I’m tempting fate here, and I’m going to find myself beamed up one night!

Pluto has still got a little more work to do in Sagittarius this year. It makes it an appropriate time for the SETI conference, and perhaps also for an indisputable visitation from aliens. Especially as Pluto is also still near the Galactic Centre.

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