Saturday, November 07, 2009

The North Node

I’ve been toying with the idea that the North Node becomes more visible as we get older. The (North) Node, you could say, describes what we are here to become for karmic reasons, it describes the deeper issues that will sort, that will become empowered, if we become that Node. Because these things are deep, they are hard to see; in fact our life may apparently have had little to do with the Node, until after 40 years we look back and see how it all adds up.

So I dragged a few names out of my famous people list to see what turned up. Elizabeth II of England has Angular Node in Cancer, conjunct Pluto and trine to Saturn-MC. That is a powerful placement, and shows how seriously (Saturn) she takes her vocation (MC) that was given to her (trine) by her people (Cancer) who are the source of her power (Pluto). As she has got older, so has she become the matriarch (Cancer) of her country.

President Kennedy did not live long, so his ‘later life’ is his reputation since his death. His Node is in Capricorn, opposite Pluto. He is remembered as a great president (Capricorn, a sign of leadership and authority), and this is partly because of his early death (Pluto).

Rupert Murdoch has Node in Aries, conjunct Uranus and square to Saturn and Pluto. A very powerful placement. He has maintained his ability to fight and to initiate (Aries) into his old age, and continues to be a mould-breaker (Uranus-Node, which Obama also has.) It’s not necessarily very pretty having Saturn and Pluto in square to the Node, and you don’t feel there is much that Murdoch would not do in pursuit of power and wealth.

An odd one: the Batman story seems to keep going, with yet another re-invention in the last few years. I wondered if he has Node in Scorpio (re-invention continuing into old age), and sure enough he has. The chart I use is that for the first publication on 1st May 1939. Note that Batman does not have superpowers, unlike the Incredible Hulk etc. This is reflected in the astrology, where the superheroes tend to have Jupiter-Chiron aspects: superpowers (Jupiter) created by a wound (Chiron e.g. the Hulk’s exposure to radiation, Superman losing his family and home planet as a baby.)

Bob Geldof has the Sun conjunct Neptune of a musician and the Sun conjunct Saturn of someone who is determined to achieve; but as he has got older, so has his compassionate Node in Pisces become more prominent, through Band Aid etc.

Margaret Thatcher has Node in Leo. She was a singular leader, unable to adapt as time went on (fixed Leo) and adopting regal airs (Leo). She is loved by many (Node trine Venus) yet also did a lot of damage on a human level (Node square Chiron).

Prince Charles has Node in Taurus, conjunct the Moon and in a Grand Trine with Saturn and Jupiter. So here we have issues of wealth, which on the one hand Charles is comfortable with and which gives him security (Moon in Taurus), but which he has also grappled with (Node), using his wealth to create sustainable, healthy projects, such as his organic farm and the village of Poundbury in Dorset. This is the aspect of Taurus as Values: what value do I place on money, what do I consider important about money?

The answer that is perhaps predominant in our culture is that money is a value in itself, and the more you have of it, the more ‘value’ you have. The Taurus-Scorpio Nodal axis is interesting in this respect. There is often some kind of struggle around money and material values with this placement. While Taurus Node asks us to look at what value we place on money, Scorpio Node asks us to understand the power of money.

Getting that power right is what it is all about. With money we can have power over others. It can also have power over us, when its lack makes us feel disempowered, or when its presence makes us feel substantial and powerful. Money is a power, and that cannot be wished away, but its real power is as a resource to make things happen. We can do things, meaningful things, with money that we could not otherwise do.

So money in itself is not evil, and being wealthy does not make you bad, despite what Jesus said about camels and eyes of needles. (Who’d want to go to the Christian heaven anyway?) Like anything, it is about why you want it. It is an energy, and it can be used in healthy and unhealthy ways. Getting this one right is the lesson for many Scorpio Nodes, in the context of the general Scorpio inquiry into the nature of power.

Like Batman, however, Scorpio Nodes (such as myself!) also need to continue to re-invent themselves into old age.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Idea of Sufficiency

My Native American friend Xbox (not his real name, and anyway he’d rather be called Indian) talks about the idea of sufficiency. He does a lot of obscure reading and is a mine of unusual information and original conclusions. Anyway, he’d observed that when a tribal people were largely wiped out through disease or whatever, they would often return to their original numbers quite quickly, and then stay at roughly that number. It was like they would collectively have a sense of what was enough, what number could be supported by the environment. And from that came his idea that humans have a sense of sufficiency, of what is enough. Like when you’ve had enough to eat.

In a way the idea seems obvious and very sane, but our culture has lost sight of it. We no longer have any collective sense of there being enough people, or enough wealth, or having done enough work, or whatever. Prosperity no longer means thriving, it means greed.

Sufficiency is a Saturnian idea. A healthy Saturn sets appropriate boundaries and regulates the proper measure of everything. An unhealthy Saturn is empty inside, and endlessly compensates through ‘achievement’ and hard work and wealth.

It has become central to our collective sense of well-being that the economy is growing. It doesn’t matter so much that it should adequately provide for everybody. No, what matters is that it should be growing, so we are told, and we believe it. This is the negative Saturn at the heart of our culture. Things are bad in the UK at the moment because we are in a recession. No-one says well we’ve all still got enough to eat and a roof over our heads – and we could easily cater for those who haven’t – so what’s the problem?

Working long hours is part of the same thing. We feel good about ourselves when we’ve been working, which isn’t altogether a bad thing. But it is more than that, it is a moral thing, we feel like we are good people because we have been working, and we want others to know. I know a small farmer who will often watch kids TV in the day, and then at night he’ll get in his tractor, put on the lights and start working, and it looks to the neighbours like he is this incredibly hard-working farmer who is at it even in the evening. This over-identification with work is also negative Saturn.

Sufficiency is different to sustainability. The problem with our current western way of life, as we see it, is that it is not sustainable, due to climate change, limited resources etc. That’s a good start, but it’s not the real issue. Because awful things can be perfectly sustainable. The early USA slave culture was perfectly sustainable. Some wars seem to go on and on, they seem quite sustainable.

The reason we have reached a point of unsustainability is because we have lost sight of sufficiency. What we seem to be looking for collectively with all the climate change stuff etc is an economy based on sustainable greed rather than unsustainable greed. As I said, it’s a start, but it is paradoxical, because an economy, a way of life, based on greed always wants more, and so eventually becomes unsustainable.

So I think that the political buzz word needs to be sufficiency rather than sustainability. It takes the pressure off in all sorts of ways, morally and psychologically, as well as materially. But I think it is a mind-set way too far to be accepted, simple as it is. Perhaps Pluto in Capricorn will help, although it could just as easily mean more power (Pluto) to the banks and other financial institutions (Capricorn). Maybe we have to wait for Pluto in Aquarius in 14 years time, which will empower (Pluto) the progressive thinkers (Aquarius).


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sabotage from the Future?

The Large Hadron Collider is almost back in commission after its accident last year. It is the biggest atom smasher in the world and it is not American. It has been designed to discover the Higgs Boson, the current fundamentalest particle of all. For the super-conducting magnets which contain the stream of particles to work properly, it has to be very cold, and it has just been announced that it is now colder than deep space.


The quantum world does not obey the usual rules, and Niels Bohr, one of the pioneers of quantum physics, said that if you are not shocked by the laws of the quantum world, then you haven’t understood them. In this world, for example, certain events can only be explained by time going backwards.

I haven’t got too much of a problem with that, because if you look at neuro-pathology, you start to realise that the 3-D ‘external’ world, together with time, are created by the brain to create order out of our sensory input. As a model, it works pretty well, but that doesn’t make the external world real in a hard and fast way. Astrology also works, a lot of the time, at any rate. But it’s just another model, which is why it doesn’t always work. Just like our senses aren’t always reliable. And even if they are reliable, if you ask 2 people to describe the same event, you’ll probably get different accounts.

Anyway, the Large Hadron Collider. It was just starting to get up and running last year, amid a lot of publicity, when it had an accident. There was a liquid helium leak and it’s taken over a year to sort. And 2 physicists have seriously suggested that the damage may have been caused by Higgs Bosons (which of course have yet to be discovered) travelling backwards in time from a future experiment.

I doubt it is the true explanation, but I liked the idea that real physicists were suggesting it. Of course, the LHC doesn’t ‘know’ that it is going to be used to discover Higgs Bosons. Otherwise it could just as well send back some other particle. Which means that human intention must also be playing a part in creating this future that has not yet happened and from which Higgs Bosons could be travelling back in time to upset our plans.

I don’t know if the scientists are thinking that way. But it makes complete sense to me. Because so much of what we call reality is the product of people’s imaginings, if not all of reality. There is a deep way in which the world is a product of consciousness. Our culture, for example, gradually developed the idea that reality is material and follows empirical, rational laws and sure enough, reality obliged and we find ourselves in such a universe. Some ancient cultures developed the idea that there is a relationship between the movements of the stars and human affairs and sure enough, reality obliged and we find ourselves in an astrological universe.

I don’t mean all this in a superficial way, like reality is simply what you think it is. It’s to do with the imagination. The imagination seems to connect what is ‘in here’ with what is ‘out there’. So that when an idea about how the universe works stirs our imagination, it is because it is in some way real, and it’s probably hard to say which came first, reality or our idea about it. The fact that quantum physics is, properly understood, shocking, says a lot in its favour. If it is shocking, then it touches us, and that gives it reality.


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

I’ve just turfed up these notes from a Liz Greene seminar I was on probably about 5 years ago:

We are all subject to

Chiron’s pain in the face of life’s inequality and injustice;

Neptune’s yearning, arising from our vision of something eternal that was there before birth and awaits us after death;

Pluto’s realization of our ultimate powerlessness in the face of nature and the collective;

Saturn’s recognition of our aloneness, our separateness, our mortality and our ultimate insignificance in the chain of earthly life.

I don’t seem to have jotted down anything for Uranus. Any suggestions? How about:

We are all subject to Uranus’s sense of existential insecurity, that whatever certainties we have come to rely on can disintegrate without warning.


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Monday, August 10, 2009

Of Piggies and Buggers

I have recently read a couple of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi novels, ‘Ender’s Game’ and ‘Speaker for the Dead’. In the first of these, a young boy is intensively trained to become a military commander to fight ‘the buggers’, an alien race that at one point attacked humanity. Ender is trained for starship battle through the use of video games, and does become the military genius on whom the hopes of humanity are pinned. It turns out, however, that all is not quite as it seems. In the next book, set 3000 years later, Ender has become a Speaker for the Dead, who turns up when asked and recounts the truth of a dead person’s life: their real hopes and aspirations, as well as all the uncomfortable bits you’re not supposed to talk about. Central to this novel, however, is the presence of another alien race, ‘the piggies’, and Ender gets involved in humanity’s relationship to this race.

At one point Ender is a professor at a university, and we are introduced to 4 levels of ‘otherness’ which humanity has come up with in response to its encounter with alien races (so far, just the buggers, who it eliminated, and the piggies, with whom humanity is super-constrained, super-PC even, as a sort of contrition for what happened to the buggers). The names themselves are a parody of how we view the ‘other’. The 4 increasing levels of otherness respectively describe a human from another part of this world, a human from another world, another species that is nevertheless regarded as human and finally another species that is not regarded as human, such as animals.

Science fiction gives a freedom to explore ideas about what it is to be human in ways that ordinary fiction cannot perhaps do so easily. In Speaker for the Dead there is an anonymous commentator called Demosthenes, and a rather brilliant point he makes is that humanity’s ability to declare an alien species to be human is not a comment on the moral maturity of that other species, but on the moral maturity of humanity.

I can’t help thinking of America in this respect, and its list of rogue nations, its ‘axis of evil’ (which the Obama administration is perpetuating). Orson Scott Card is an American. You can just see the generals out of Dr Strangelove calling the alien species ‘the buggers’ and ‘the piggies’, with no sense of irony or parody. The USA sets itself up as the moral judge of other nations. (For the astrology of this, see my audio-blog on America’s Preachiness.) For all Iran’s faults, America makes itself look ridiculous when it talks (as Obama did a few months ago) about wanting to admit Iran to the community of responsible nations. It will be a sign of America’s moral maturity when it is able to treat Iran as a nation just like itself, rather than as ‘other’. Then there may be progress.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think Iran should be stopped from getting nuclear weapons. I think it needs to be stopped. My point is that in trying to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran is behaving no differently to how America would behave in the same situation. Iran also has an ugly and intolerant ideology, but so does America. In a fundamental sense, nations are all the same, they have very similar motives.

Which is why I don’t want to single out America here, because it is in the nature of nations and of people to consider themselves superior. I once read an anthropological book which cited a tribe in the Amazon who did not consider the neighbouring tribe to be human. These days we tend to idealise indigenous peoples and Tibetans (when you see the word ‘Lama’, think bishop, it cuts through all the hyperbole. And when you think bishop, think Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers!) People have always tended to consider the 'other' to be less than human.

So America is an example of not just how all nations will behave in certain circumstances, but also how people behave individually and always have behaved, and that is really what Orson Scott Card is getting at in what is not just an allegory but also a great story.

Robert A Heinlein uses ‘otherness’ to raise taboo issues in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. What happens is that a human colony is set up on Mars, and everyone dies except for a human baby who is brought up by indigenous Martians, and who eventually returns to Earth. So he is physically human, but he thinks and acts like a Martian, in ways that are completely incomprehensible to humans. This first of all relativises the way we look at the world, but Heinlein goes beyond this and has the Martian human breaking just about every taboo going, including ‘free love’, murder and cannibalism. For him, it is an honour to be eaten after you’ve died, while ‘disappearing’ people who are threatening you is not a problem. In Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott card also looks at the murder taboo, when ‘the piggies’ kill a couple of people in a really gruesome way, but from the piggies point of view they are honouring the humans; eventually both sides have to discover the other’s point of view.

The point about taboos is that they are absolutes, they are laws written in stone, so consideration of their merits and demerits is impossible: to think about a subject, you have to suspend your idea of what you think the conclusion should be, and with taboos many people would think you are some kind of pervert if you did this, like you were half way to breaking the taboo. Paedophilia has entered the taboo zone much more strongly in recent years, paedophiles are the modern witches. I’m not trying to defend them, but rather to make the point that intelligent thought about this subject has become increasingly difficult.

There always have been and always will be taboos, these moral areas that cannot be questioned without bringing the questioner under suspicion. After Stranger in a Strange Land was published in the early 60s (presciently, given what happened later in the decade), half of the USA thought Robert A Heinlein had lost the plot, and the other half thought he was a genius. So these authors are serving a necessary function within the tribe, dragging back into consciousness parts of the collective psyche that have drifted into darkness and judgement. Of course, not everyone will thank them for it. As some guy said a while back, no man is a prophet in his own country.


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

THE SORTING HAT

I’ve started reading Harry Potter to my 8 year old, and having finished the first book, he is now reading it on his own, which isn’t his usual style unless a book has pictures. Those critics who praise Harry Potter say that the books get kids reading. But they leave it at that, implying that as literature they don’t rate it. I can see what they mean, but I don’t think the volume that I have read is badly written. It’s OK. Lots of originality and invention and making fun of narrow-mindedness, in the form of Muggles. Lack of poetry in her words, though not in her ideas. But unnecessary clichés, like wizards having to have pointy hats and grey beards and half moon glasses. She could make the magic stronger by not being quite so obvious and literal about it, and so bring the reader closer to how magic actually works: its connection to the mind and to intention, in all its complexity, and the lack of predictable, cause and effect relationship: you feel something has to some extent come about through your intention, but you could never prove it or probably want to, and you could never have foreseen the way it came about.

Now Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, that is something else.

I don’t know why so many Christians are anti-Potter (though the Pope has softened his stance in recent years), because if prayer isn’t an attempt to work magic, then I don’t know what is. In both cases you are vocalising something you feel strongly about in the hope of creating a favourable outcome. Maybe there are Christians who want a monopoly on their agent of magic, God. The difference with non-God magic is that you know you’re going to get a result: you can feel the power of your own emotion and desire heading out into the universe, and how could that not produce results? It may take years sometimes, depending on other things, but you know it’ll happen. With God – well maybe he will, and maybe he won’t, and you’d better pray he’s in a good mood.

Anyway, soon after Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts School for Wizards, the new kids are told what House they will be in. These four Houses are in competition with one another. The House they will be in is chosen by the Sorting Hat, which is put on their head, and it then makes its choice.

As it says:

Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see.
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.


The Sorting Hat then characterises the 4 Houses:

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Set Gryffindors apart;


Astrologically, that sounds like the Fire Element to me.

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;


This seems like the Earth Element.

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;


This is Air.

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those folk use any means
To achieve their ends.


Even the name Slytherin is Watery.

I doubt JK Rowling used astrology when she invented these Houses: it more points to the truth of astrology, that it uses patterns or archetypes that are universal, that are inherent in us, and that anybody creating from that level of the mind will reproduce those same patterns. Even the order in which JK Rowling puts the Houses corresponds to the order in which we find the Elements in astrology: Fire, Earth, Air then Water. (If you think about the first 4 zodiac signs and their elements, you’ll see what I mean.)

These Elements come before the signs, they are a more basic category into which people can be grouped. The zodiac signs corresponding to an element are the 3 different ways in which that element can express itself. And then within each sign there are 3 decanates of 10 degrees each, giving us 3 different types of each sign, but perhaps I’ll leave it there!

Harry Potter himself is a Leo, his birthday being on either 30 or 31st July, so it is appropriate that he should be in fiery Gryffindor. JK Rowling’s birthday is 31st July, so she is deeply identified with her creation, he is an expression of her own unique imagination.

It is well known that Leos often have a father who is in some way absent or wounded. Liz Greene goes into this in The Astrology of Fate, where she relates Leos to the myth of Parsifal and the Holy Grail. It is as if, being Leos, they have something special and unique in themselves to uncover, and the presence of the guiding father archetype would hinder this. The absence of the father is at once a loss of soul, and at the same time a challenge to repair that loss.

Bill Clinton’s father died before he was born, and Barack Obama’s father cleared off when he was very young. Both are Leos, and both have brought their own hard-won and unique values to the Presidency of the USA. (Clinton, Obama’s Democratic predecessor, was interestingly known as the first black President, though not in the way Toni Morrison intended when she said it.)

JK Rowling’s mother developed multiple sclerosis when Rowling was 15, and died when Rowling was 25. I think for women Leos we need to look for absent/wounded mothers. Though Rowling wasn’t that young when her mother became ill, she was still relatively so. From Wiki: Rowling commented, "I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter.” Rowling said this death heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much more detail about Harry's loss in the first book, because she knew about how it felt.

Both Harry Potter’s parents, of course, were killed by Voldemort when he was very young, so in making Harry a Leo JK Rowling is again expressing an astrological truth. Even Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter in the films, is a Leo, though I don’t know what his father is like.

As I put in a post on Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Tolkien had them both aged 50/51 when they set off on their great adventure. This is the time of the Chiron Return, and Chiron was the educator of heroes. This doesn’t make Tolkien an astrologer, as Chiron hadn’t even been discovered when he was writing. But it does kind of suggest there is a universality to astrology.

Harry’s enemy, Malfoy, is played by Tom Felton, whose birthday is 22 September, the same as Bilbo and Frodo. But I don’t think that means an awful lot!


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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Life Creates the Universe, not the Other Way Round

Lynn has put up a piece on “biocentrism, a belief that life creates the Universe… An "external" reality, if it existed, would by definition have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind.” (more…)

It’s good to be reminded of this. In western philosophy, this position is known as Idealism, “the theory that maintains that the ultimate nature of reality is based on mind or ideas. It holds that the so-called external or "real world" is inseparable from mind, consciousness, or perception.” Kant was an idealist, while Buddhism maintains that the universe is Mind created.

Idealism is contrasted in the philosophy of perception with Realism “in which the external world is said to have a so-called absolute existence prior to, and independent of, knowledge and consciousness.” And in the philosophy of mind it is contrasted with Materialism “in which the ultimate nature of reality is based on physical substances.”

All this can sound fascinating but ultimately still just an idea. That Idealism is not just another philosophical position, Buddhist or otherwise, was imprinted on me quite forcibly about 25 years ago when I read Oliver Sacks’ The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat.

Sacks is a neuropsychologist, and his book tells the strange tales of some of his patients, all of whom who had various brain dysfunctions. There was, for example, the man who could tell you what something was in general - e.g. that it is a playing card – but not what is was in particular - e.g. that it is the Jack of Hearts. And there was another patient who had the opposite brain damage, so that he could tell you it was the Jack of Hearts, but not that it was a playing card.

Then there was the person who had lost his sense of ‘left’, and could only experience the right-hand half of anything. So he would eat a meal with his right hand, and would eat only what was on the right half of his plate, and then pull his plate round to the right and eat the right half of what was now there, and so on. These patients did not necessarily have a sense that anything that was amiss, even though they had not always been like that, because the part of the brain itself concerned with that function had been wiped out.

As bizarre example piles on bizarre example (including, of course, the man who mistook his wife for a hat), the reader realises in what a profound and basic way his/her external reality is created by the brain. You realise that Idealism is not just a philosophical position, and that the function of the brain is not to order and make sense of a 3-D reality ‘out there’: that 3-D reality itself is created by the brain. It’s quite shocking when it sinks in.

And this brings me back to the start, the idea that “Life creates the Universe”. I find this idea so refreshing. Our basic western conditioning is that the material universe created life, and that is all we are. This deadening materialism is something we all have to struggle against if we have any spark of imagination. So it’s great to see it turned on its head, and see that science itself, pursued far enough, subverts the philosophical materialism that it has done so much to bring about.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Dark Side of Pluto in Capricorn

I can’t find this news item now, but I read the case on Monday of a pensioner in the UK who recently attended a demonstration. It turned out his car number plate was recorded by a CCTV camera and passed on to the police. At a later date, because of his number plate, he was stopped by the police and questioned under the anti- terrorism laws, and told that if he did not answer all the questions they asked him, he would be arrested. He asked himself “What sort of country am I living in?”

So it seems clear that the police are quite prepared to use the anti-terrorism laws to intimidate people engaged in valid protests. There have been fears of this for some time, and it has been hard to know how much of it is paranoia by people who dislike authority, full stop. So it is interesting to see a concrete case of this sort of abuse, a case that suggests that it is becoming widespread.

It turned out also that there is a body to make sure that information like this is not misused, but that they have very limited powers when it comes to dealing with the police.

I am more sympathetic now to David Davis, the Tory MP who resigned last year in protest against the gradual erosion of our civil liberties. It is interesting that it should be a Tory who made this protest, and that it has been Labour who have overseen these developments. You would have thought it would be the other way round.

Britain has Sun in Capricorn square to Uranus. I think that Uranus will protect us from the extremes of Pluto in Capricorn, for the people will rebel if things go too far. Davis himself has Sun in Capricorn opposite Uranus, so he is well-tuned in to this characteristic of the British. We want an orderly, lawful society, but only up to a point.

Pluto in Capricorn describes an age of state control, and these days it is through information. The main manifestation I have seen of it so far has been the government’s incompetence at controlling the information it has about us. There has been another wave of information loss over the last week. 140,000 medical records have gone missing from the NHS, and the RAF has lost a ‘dirty’ file on some of its personnel.

One way or another, information about us is passing into the wrong hands, and Pluto is only starting its journey through Capricorn. I think it’s important to remember, however, that it is not all bad, it is not all evil authority out to get us. This information also serves some good purposes, like tracking down dangerous drivers, and arresting criminals.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pluto in Capricorn and the rise of Christianity

I’m away at the Sunrise Celebration in the South of England, so I’ve pre-published one or two blogs. I’m doing Astrology and Tarot readings. It’s the first time for about 5 years that I’ve been to Festivals, having been needed for some years to take Vajramala out to her horses every day. But I’m free of that now, and in a few weeks I’m off to Glastonbury Festival as well.

So here is a piece by Ed Tamplin that gives us historical perspective on Pluto in Capricorn:

When Pluto moved through Capricorn from the first century 42 AD, St. Paul had experienced his own “plutonic transformation” on the road to Damascus. It set him on a new path of missionary zeal. Meanwhile the Romans at the height of their empire began building Londinium. But their pagan gods were about to fall. Over the next millennium the face of Europe changed under the new banner of the cross. Each time Pluto accessed Capricorn the rate of Christian influence multiplied.

Christianity was a perfect vehicle for Pluto. Here was a religion whose foundations were built on death and resurrection. Jesus taught the resurrection as a Doctrine of Rebirth. One must be willing to die to their former selves to access the true kingdom of heaven. And the martyrdom of the early saints was a physical embodiment of the same principle.

The Roman hierarchy’s suppression of the seeds of change greatly empowered the process. During Pluto’s return to Capricorn in 287 AD, Emperor Diocletian, presiding over a then divided empire, instituted mass Christian executions to stem the religious tide. These mass killings were famous for their failure, and during the same period Constantine the Great was declared the new Emperor. Constantine’s baptism into the new faith would elevate Christianity to the religion of the state, and assist him to reunite the empire.

The following entry of Pluto into Capricorn witnessed the material phase—temple building. It came in the form of the grandiose reconstruction of the most famous church outside the Vatican—the magnificent Hagia Sophia of Byzantium. Dedicating the new building, (which utilized columns from the wondrous Temple of Artemis), Emperor Justinian declared, “Solomon I have exceeded thee.” By Pluto’s fourth and final cycle of the first millennium the devout Frankish King Charlemagne had subjugated the Saxons to Catholicism, in establishing his vast European Empire. The religion and the state were now united across the majority of mediaeval Europe and Eurasia.

The universal church had grown from the true believers to an institution, with its attendant hierarchal corruptions. In doing so it had inadvertently made itself a target for Pluto’s major charter of Reformation midway through the following millennium. On 31 October 1517, with Pluto back in Capricorn, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. It led to a new divided Christianity rising like a Phoenix from the old. (more…)


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Astrology Works

Astrology divides me. On the one hand I am awed and enchanted by the fact that it works. On the other hand, I can see no reason why it should work, and this gnaws away at me. And I do not know to what extent this is a creative opposition within me, that keeps me on my toes; and to what extent it is my cultural conditioning, an over-emphasis on rationality that leaves no room for an ultimately unknowable universe.

Anyway, here is a contribution to this conundrum (which I don't think has a definitive answer), called Why Astrology Works by Brad Kochunas:

I recently read two marvelous articles written by Ivan Kelly, a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan, appearing in Psychological Reports, a respected journal in the field of professional psychology. (1) In them, Kelly quite astutely, I believe, dismantles modern astrology with the assurance of a seasoned academician. He notes a wide variety of claims made by astrologers and, to my mind, convincingly raises arguments that are perhaps unassailable by those practicing and believing in astrology as a discipline that literally and accurately describes and predicts human personality. I submit that it would be folly to attempt a point-by-point rebuttal to his arguments. He has us; the jig is up for an astrology conceived as an empirical discipline. (more...)


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Bilbo and Frodo: Virgos on their Chiron Return

Bilbo and Frodo Baggins share a birthday: 22nd September. This much is clear from ‘A Long Expected Party’, the 1st Chapter of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. That is all the birth data we have.

The Lord of the Rings is not set within our historical time period. It is in a sense outside of time. Middle Earth itself, while described in great detail, is imaginary, even though we kind of feel we know it. (This is because Tolkien’s creation is rooted in a lifetime of study of European myth.)


Google Middle Earth

At the same time, Middle Earth is described through reference to our world. I therefore feel free to take the position of the Sun on 22nd Sept as an astrological pointer to the characters of both Bilbo and Frodo.

Between 1931 and 1972, which more than covers the time of the writing of The Lord of the Rings, the Sun on 22nd Sept was always at 29 point something Virgo. Since then, due to precession, it has started to appear in Libra. And before 1931 you could find it at 28 point something Virgo. So Bilbo and Frodo have their Suns at 29 Virgo.

Now Virgo isn’t a general description of the character of hobbits, but rather these 2 particular hobbits. For the general nature of hobbits, I’d probably say Capricorn (respectable and cautious), Taurus (they like their food – remember second breakfast!) and Virgo (clever with their fingers and unobtrusive). Very earthy creatures!

Bilbo and Frodo, due to their Took ancestry, had something else going on. It was rumoured that there was fairy-blood in the Took line, and occasionally a Took would take off and have an adventure, though this was always hushed up by the family.

But adventures are not what you think of when you think ‘Virgo’. Being Virgo does help, however, if you are a burglar like Bilbo: unobtrusive and observant. And if you are on an adventure, Virgos are likely to do so in the service of something, rather than just self-gratification, which was certainly the case with Bilbo and Frodo, who both found themselves heading off into the unknown rather reluctantly. As for the invisibility which the ring bestowed, here we see the 2 hobbits encountering the opposite sign of Pisces.

Using the Sabian Symbols for Virgo 30 we read: Having an Urgent Task to Complete, a Man doesn’t Look to any Distractions. Well that just about sums up the quests that these 2 hobbits were on.

There is, however, another astrological pointer we can look to: Bilbo was about 50 when he set off, and Frodo was 51. In both cases we have the Chiron Return. Dennis Elwell has this to say about Chiron: “On the subject of Chiron, it is as significant as any planet, but I do not go along with the 'woundedness' interpretation… when you are dealing with Chiron in practical work it is better to remember that his mythological namesake conducted a school for heroes…. As old Chiron trains us up towards accomplishments we never thought we could achieve, we need to be able to take the dare, to have an irreverent disrespect for the wise ones who say this or that can't be done. Chiron's style borders on cocky impudence, but perhaps its basic function is to persuade us that nothing is impossible.”

So there it is. The Chiron Return is a time for achieving what we thought impossible, which is exactly what Bilbo and Frodo did at that age.

In the 2 of Wands of the Mythic Tarot deck, we see Jason stepping out on his quest, with his teacher Chiron behind him in a cave. Jason’s quest is to recover the Golden Fleece, which is being guarded by a Dragon. Bilbo’s quest is to recover gold from a Dragon, and he did this on his Chiron Return. I said that Tolkien knew his mythology!

Chiron takes us to the point where we are on our own, where, if you like, we need to discover our own inner teacher. We tend to associate heroic quests with youth; but the real quest is to find the deeper independence of spirit, the gold in our souls, that usually requires age and years of testing. It is in the nature of human consciousness to be collective, to gain its security (unconsciously) from thinking the same as others. Chiron takes us out of that, and this is why there is often an ‘outsider’ quality to those with a marked Chiron. This ‘outsider’ quality, which is also their ‘wound’, forces the issue, as psychological security cannot be found in acceptance from the collective.

Frodo and Bilbo were never the same again after their adventures. Bilbo returned to Hobbiton, but he never fully belonged. He was viewed with suspicion by the more conventional hobbits, even though they appreciated his money. Frodo was so stricken, so marked by his ordeal that he never returned, but went on to the next stage across the ocean with the elves.


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Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Astrology of Sex-Strikes; the 3-month Mars-Venus Conjunction

On Wednesday, thousands of Kenyan women went on a week-long sex-strike in protest at the government’s internal squabbling. The wife of the Prime Minister is supporting the strike, though she refuses to comment on her husband’s opinion of the matter. It is his dispute with the President that is at the centre of the impasse.

The PM’s wife, Ida Odinga, ‘refused to be drawn on whether the fiery wife of President Mwai Kibaki would join the movement. Questioned whether she would ask Mrs Kibaki to join her in the strike, she replied: "Please let me not answer that question, you can ask her." Lucy Kibaki has a notoriously fiery temper.’

It’s fun, but the women are in earnest. They fear that the row could lead to further unrest: after disputed elections in Dec 2007, 1500 people died and 300,000 were forced from their homes. Ida Odinga points out that this tactic worked in Liberia when it was at war. Sex is not talked about in public in Kenya, so the issue is deeply embarrassing for Kenyans.

The strike began on Wednesday, time unknown.


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As you can see, there was a Mars-Venus-Moon-Pluto t-square. So the women of Kenya (Venus) are taking action (Aries) through sex (Mars). They are very angry (Venus conjunct Mars in Aries) on behalf of the people (Moon) and are engaged in a power-struggle (Venus square Pluto) with the government (Pluto in Capricorn), who they do not see as serving the needs of the people (Pluto in Cap opposite Moon). The resolution of this t-square lies in the missing sign, Libra, which is a workable peace between the Presidential and Prime Ministerial factions.


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Kenya has Sun in Sagittarius square to Pluto, so the country naturally tends towards power struggles (Pluto) around its leaders (Sun), and probably eventually it will be a dictatorship, which Sun in hard aspect to Pluto often indicates: misuse (square/opposition) of power (Pluto) by the leader (Sun). Russia, Iran, South Africa and Zimbabwe all have Sun in hard aspect to Pluto.

Kenya also has Mars at 5 Capricorn, which is closely aspected by this week’s Moon-Mars-Venus-Pluto t-square. So the Kenyan men (Mars) are under attack (square Mars) from angry women (Venus in Aries conjunct Mars).

As the strike ends, so on that exact day will transiting Venus move out of an applying square to the Kenyan natal Mars.

Sex-strikes by women have a long history. At the end of last year, the women of Naples threatened a strike unless something was done about illegal fireworks on New Year's Eve. They were inspired by the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, in which the women of Athens refuse to have sex unless their men folk forge a truce with their rivals from Sparta. The recent Naples strike would have taken place under a Mars-Pluto conjunction. The campaign began some time before in a town called Lettere, possibly around the Venus-Pluto conjunction in November 2008.

In October 1997, the chief of the Military of Colombia, General Mañuel Bonnet publicly called for a sex strike among the wives and girlfriends of the Colombian left-wing guerrillas, drug traffickers, and paramilitaries as part of a strategy — along with diplomacy — to achieve a cease fire. At the start of that month, there was a Mars-Pluto conjunction, and a week later there was a Venus-Pluto conjunction.

In 2003 there was a 2 month sex-strike by Cameroonian women over the destruction of crops by cattle. During that time, Mars squared Pluto and Venus conjoined Pluto.

In September 2006, wives and girlfriends of Colombian gangsters called for a sex-strike to curb gang violence. At the beginning of that month there was a square from Mars to Pluto, and at the end a square from Venus to Pluto.

So in all cases we hard aspects between Mars (men and sex) and Pluto (power struggle), and Venus (the women) and Pluto. In some cases Saturn (abstinence) is involved, and even then not necessarily as a hard-aspect. This suggests that the real issue is the power struggle, rather than the forced abstinence. And the tactic often works!

It is an interesting time for relations between men and women, because Mars and Venus are undergoing a 3 month conjunction – mid-April to mid-July – which is very rare. I can’t find another example of it. It is happening because Venus, which usually moves much faster than Mars, went retrograde for a while recently, and as she backed into a standstill in April, so Mars came up to join her. After a planet has stood still, it only picks up speed again slowly, slowly enough in this case for Mars to be able to keep up with Venus for a while before she finally leaves him behind in July.

For a short time in April, Mars was conjunct Venus and Uranus in Pisces. Then there was a 2 day period where Venus was exalted at the end of Pisces conjunct Mars in early Aries, the sign it rules. This was the time to hit the bedroom, and if you didn’t, I can only offer my condolences, because you are unlikely to see this aspect again in your lifetime. You just missed out on the best sex you are ever going to have.

Until the end of May we have Mars conjunct Venus in Aries. It’s an excellent time for starting relationships, for hot sex and for plain-speaking. But that can so easily turn into a fight, with neither person able to see the other’s point of view. From early June to early July, Mars will be conjunct Venus in Taurus. This will be a lot easier, and a time to focus on pleasurable activities together. After that, Venus will start to move away from Mars, and the 3 month focus on relationships will draw to an end.

The US Progressed Chart (Sibly) has an exact opposition from Mars to Venus at the end of May, and a one degree orb for a year either side of that.


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With Prog Mars in Libra and Prog Venus in Aries, each in the other’s sign, issues of war versus diplomacy are being strongly raised. It is fascinating that this opposition should be exact in the middle of a very rare 3-month conjunction of Mars and Venus. There has been a new approach to foreign diplomacy under the Obama administration, and this coincidence of transiting planets and progressions suggest the intensity and urgency with which negotiations are being conducted, whether or not we hear about it in the news.

The Prog opposition is in the 4th-10th house axis of the US natal chart, indicating that America’s standing in the world, and the perception of that at home, are involved; and this opposition is also in the 2nd-8th house axis of the prog chart, indicating that the weak economy (2nd) and reliance on foreign resources (8th) are also factors behind the new diplomatic strategy. But you didn’t need astrology to tell you all that!

Progressed Chiron is just over a degree from Prog Venus in Aries, and this suggests to me obstacles that will not easily be overcome due to America seeing things too much from its own point of view (Aries). This chimes well, for example, with Obama's outraged denunciation last year of the idea that 9/11 was in any sense 'chickens coming home to roost'. If you cannot understand why your enemies would want to attack you, then you are only going to have limited success in negotiating a peace.


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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Astrology of Nuclear Fusion

In June the Americans are going to conduct a nuclear fusion experiment, in which they will simultaneously fire 192 lasers at a pellet the size of a ball-bearing containing heavy hydrogen. The total power of the lasers will be about 500 trillion watts – more than the whole of the USA uses at its peak – but it will only last for a few nanoseconds. The idea is that this burst of energy will heat the hydrogen up to the millions of degrees required to initiate nuclear fusion and that, crucially, the amount of energy released will be significantly greater than that required to initiate the reaction – of the order of 10 to 100 times as much, it is hoped.

If it does work, then it will be a landmark in the 50-year quest to produce controlled nuclear fusion, which is a kind of Holy Grail, promising unprecedented amounts of energy, an unlimited supply of raw material – water – and a virtual absence of waste products. So far all we have had is uncontrolled nuclear fusion, in the form of hydrogen bombs, which are that much more powerful than fission explosions.

It will take several hours for the lasers to recharge. What will be needed for viable production is to have several pellets being lasered every second. So presumably very large arrays of highly efficient lasers will be needed.

At the same time, an international consortium is building another sort of experimental reactor in France. It is called ITER, and the idea here is to ionise the heavy hydrogen so that it can be contained in a magnetic field, and then heat it up to 10 million degrees or so, at which point hydrogen fusion will begin (just like in the Sun). The plasma would obviously melt any physical container, hence the need for the magnetic field.

The basic chart for nuclear energy under human control is for 2 Dec 1942 at 15.25 in Chicago, when Fermi achieved the first controlled fission reaction.


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This chart had a progressed New Moon in Jan 2007, showing the new era of nuclear power stations that is upon us, as well as the nuclear proliferation which has begun in recent years. The Progressed chart for Hiroshima – the chart for nuclear weapons – remarkably had a New Moon 2 months earlier in Nov 2006, again showing the nuclear proliferation that we are starting to see. It is generally some years between a Prog New Moon and the seed it has planted becoming visible.

Given that the basic nuclear chart describes all uses of nuclear energy, the 2007 Prog New Moon could also be seen as describing the latest experiments in achieving nuclear fusion.

The chart for man-made nuclear fusion has to be the chart for the first H-bomb, which was exploded in the Pacific on 1st November 1952.


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In the basic nuclear chart, the central symbolism is the Saturn-Uranus conjunction: the splitting (Uranus) of matter (Saturn). In the fusion chart, the central symbolism is the Saturn-Neptune conjunction: the fusion (Neptune) of matter (Saturn). Both charts have an angular Pluto, showing the sheer power involved.

This year Jupiter-Neptune is hard aspecting the Angles of the fusion chart, showing the resurgence of this 50-year old dream. The Holy (Jupiter) Grail (Neptune) of technology (Aquarius). Over the next 6 years, Prog Saturn-Neptune will cross the Prog MC of this chart. So nuclear fusion (Saturn-Neptune) will be achieving a much higher public profile (MC).

Straight after that, Uranus then Pluto will hard-aspect the Moon-Saturn-Neptune-Uranus t-square. This suggests all sorts of developments coming out of that higher public profile.

The astrology suggests to me that finally controlled nuclear fusion is coming our way, for better or for worse. I expect to see the first power station around 2020, as Pluto finishes empowering the natal Neptune of the fusion chart.

One of my first blogs, back in 2006, was on nuclear issues, which you can read here.


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Friday, April 03, 2009

The Dorothean Triplicities

I’ve started listening to one of Bernadette Brady’s studyshops on medieval astrology. There is something called Dorothean Triplicities, out of which you can generate planets that rule the 1st, 2nd and 3rd parts of your life respectively. I tried it out at my astrology group last night, and it seemed to work pretty well.

I’ll describe the technicalities later, but I’ll use Barack Obama’s chart as an example.


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Using the technique, we find that Mercury rules the 1st part of his life, Saturn the second and Jupiter the 3rd. These periods are not set number of years; rather, by listening to someone’s life story, you can see where the periods change over.

So Mercury and the first part of Obama’s life. It is in Leo, and what his background does seem to have generated, for better or for worse, is a unique individual. Mercury is also associated with thought and curiosity and travel, as is Jupiter, which Mercury is closely opposite. All this fits with his early years. In his chart, Mercury rules the 8th, which describes his exploration of his ancestry, and the 5th, which describes the creativity that led to his books.

I’d say that he has moved into the second phase of his life, which is Saturn. Say no more! You could say it started around 1996, when he first assumed public office, as a member of the Illinois Senate. I’d also say there had been a gradual shift from Mercury to Saturn going on for some years before that. His Saturn is strong in its own sign of Capricorn, and in his chart rules the 12th House, describing his responsibilities (Saturn/Capricorn) for the collective in its widest sense (12th).

The final phase of his life will be ruled by Jupiter. It is in Aquarius in the 12th, conjunct his Saturn, and ruling the 11th House. So I see the last part of his life as being expansive, with a return to the community-based work of his earlier years, but with the world as his arena. He will be a world statesman, with a vision for the future.

I don’t understand why the Dorothean Triplicities are as they are, but this is how you generate them. Firstly, you need to identify the leading planet. If the Sun is above the horizon – a diurnal chart – then the Sun is the leading planet. If not, then you have a nocturnal chart, and the Moon is the leading planet. You then note the element the Sun or Moon is in, and read the following chart:


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In Obama’s case, his leading planet is the Moon (nocturnal chart), and it is in Air. So we read the Air line, which is Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter. As the chart is nocturnal, we swap round the first 2 planets, and we get the series Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter.

In the case of say George W Bush, he was born with Sun in Cancer in the 12th. So the Sun was above the horizon, and it is a diurnal chart. So the Sun is the leading planet, and it is in water. Reading this off, the relevant planets are Venus, Mars and Moon respectively.


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So Venus in Leo ruled his youth. He was the eldest son, the prince of a political dynasty (Leo) that was also wealthy (Venus). He indulged himself (Venus in Leo) and did not seem to fit in anywhere (Venus sextile Uranus). Venus rules the 4th House Libran Cusp, which is the political home he grew up in, and it also rules intercepted Taurus in the 10th, which describes the difficulty he had in establishing a career.

The second phase of his life, which I would say is now ending, is ruled by Mars, and I’d say this phase began when his life began to work: he began to be able to take effective action, which is Mars. This was from 1988 onwards, starting with being part of his father’s successful run for presidency, then making money through his share in Texas Rangers, and then his career as Texas governor and then US President. Mars rules the 10th House of career in Bush’s chart, describing how his ability to take action translated into career success.

Bush described himself as a ‘War President’, which is very Mars. His Mars is in Virgo, which you would expect to be analytical and considered and service-based. But it is also unaspected, which means that it functioned on its own, without being reined in by the rest of the personality. It was primitive and confrontational, and was ultimately disastrous for American foreign policy. It only seemed to be Virgo in the sense that he had a clear idea of who his targets were, too clear even, and therefore simplistic.

The final phase of his life, which I’d say he is now entering, is ruled by the Moon, which is in 3rd House Libra. Bush governed more by instinct than by reason, and this final phase of his life may be a time when the wreckage of the last years of his Presidency may give him pause for thought; it may be a time when he brings thought (Libra/3rd) to his instinctive responses (Moon), and develops a more balanced view (Libra) and even some wisdom (conjunction to Jupiter). The Moon square to his Cancer Sun further describes this need to balance head and heart. With the conjunction of Jupiter to the Moon, however, he may also return to his youthful self-indulgent ways, and develop a complacent view of his political career.


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