Saturday, April 30, 2011


As someone pointed out on my blog last week, not only was Prince William born on an eclipse, but both his father’s marriages took place on eclipses – total eclipses! You start to think that maybe Prince Charles consults an astrologer. I wouldn’t put it past him, because he is quite an open-minded guy who goes his own way. It is very difficult to carve out your own life if you are a British Royal, but he has managed to do so. I’d put it down to his Leo Rising, which stands in contrast (in his case) to his conservative Sun and Moon in Scorpio and Taurus respectively. Leo-Aquarius is the axis of individuality, that enables us to break free of the expectations of everyone around us.

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Because Charles has Leo-Aquarius on his Asc-Desc, this tendency is basic to who he is. And to William’s Mum Diana, who had Moon in Aquarius opposite Uranus. Not so William, where I’d say it is just a part of him. Uranus the rebel (which rules Aquarius) is opposite his Mercury and Venus, so he can be quite individual/original in his thinking and his relationships. We have yet to see it in his thought (though Neptune will be activating that over the next few years), but by marrying a ‘commoner’ he has done something Uranian in his relationships. So that Uranus is active. But it only seems Uranian to William’s young eyes. Kate has a deeply conventional and ambitious chart (without strong contacts to William’s), and I think before long William will be wondering what he has done (though we probably won’t get to hear about it.)

Uranus will be squaring William’s Moon (wife) at 5 Cancer through to the end of 2012. Uranus is the awakener. I think Kate will change now she has got what she has wanted for so many years, and I think William is going to be wondering who he has married. The next 2 years are going to be difficult and unsettled for him in his marriage. You do not want to get married with a hard Uranus-Moon transit coming up (or Uranus-Venus for that matter.)

It is interesting that Diana died in 1997 as Pluto was finishing a hard transit to William’s Venus-Uranus opposition, and now he gets married as Neptune is finishing a hard transit to his Venus-Uranus. It connects the two events. And his Venus is also closely conjunct Chiron, so there is a wound here. His Mum’s death and the trauma of it have affected his choice of partner. He is seeking healing. It is unconscious, and Kate looks like she fits the bill. Put another way, if one of your parents is absent or dysfunctional or just completely unlike you, you may not learn how to relate to members of that sex, who to trust and who not to trust, and you may have to learn the hard way. Also, with Moon in Aquarius in a t-square with Venus and Uranus, Diana was deeply unconventional and unsettled and wanting to break free. It’s like William has instinctively chosen the opposite of Diana, because it was that desire to be free that resulted in her death. And, in the strange way that fate seems to work, William’s marriage may well end up with him feeling trapped like his Mum did. But how else do we learn?

Back to the Royal Eclipses. Eclipses are not as powerful as they used to be, because we now know when they are going to happen, and we don’t get to see most of them, either because they are only visible somewhere else, or if you are British because of the weather.
In earlier times they would have been an unexpected event that upset the basic course of nature, that plunged the world into semi-darkness during the day. How strange, how awesome, what are the gods trying to tell us, what great event does it portend?

Astrology has lost touch with the raw power of observed celestial events as it has retreated into the mathematics that makes those celestial events predictable. At the same time, a richness of symbolism has developed, facilitated by that predictability, which contains its own sense of awe and wonder. But it has kind of left eclipses, the most powerful event of all, as the poor relation. Eclipses are catalysts, often powerful ones, but they do not occur regularly enough or in short enough cycles to get the kind of attention and worked through symbolism that, say, the Uranus-Jupiter conjunction would receive.

That said, Bernadette Brady has done a lot for eclipses in her book Predictive Astrology. Eclipses come in Saros Cycles, which can last up to 1500 years, and the various solar and lunar eclipses that occur in a year will belong to a number of different cycles. So you have to go long-term historical to make sense of these series.

An eclipse cycle begins as a partial eclipse and builds over centuries into a total eclipse and then begins to fade again. So a total eclipse, when it occurs, has been growing for a very long time and has a corresponding depth and power to it. An eclipse, and particularly a total eclipse, that impacts your chart is going to have a very powerful effect on you.

So Charles got married on 2 total eclipses, which is an extraordinary bit of timing. These marriages really were/are about something. One way of interpreting an eclipse, which Brady uses, is to look at the chart for the 1st eclipse of that series, because that is how astrology works: it is about everything being contained in beginnings, which makes astrology a Scorpionic, rather than an Aquarian, art.

So Charles’ 1st marriage, which occurred on 29 July 1981, 2 days before the eclipse. This eclipse cycle began in 1639.

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Brady’s interpretation using midpoints contains the following: “Unexpected events involving friends or groups place a great deal of pressure on personal relationships… the individual would be wise not to make any hasty decisions since information is distorted and possibly false.”

Well, Charles was really in love with Camilla, Diana didn’t know this – and Charles was maybe also kidding himself – and this put an intolerable strain on their relationship.

Charles’ 2nd marriage took place on 9th April 2005, the day after a total eclipse. This eclipse cycle began in 1103.

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This eclipse took place in Libra, opposite Pluto and on the Venus Mars midpoint. Brady says it all:

“A very sensual family of eclipses, ranging from sudden sexual passions and lust to birth and procreative drives. This series is not subtle, and can catch people off guard and confront them with their own very deep passions which may have been hidden for many years.”

Finally, we have the eclipse under which William was born. It was not total, in fact it is part of a series that ends quite soon, in 2036, having begun in 792.

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It is a coincidence that the Sun and Moon are just a few degrees off the eclipse under which William was born, but it does emphasise the importance of the cycle for him.

Using Sun-Moon-Jupiter on the Mars-Uranus midpoint, and Mercury on the Venus-Saturn midpoint, Brady says this:

“This is a difficult eclipse family, as its members bring unfortunate news concerning friendships or relationships. You will be dealing with ideas of separation or the ending of a union. However, although the picture may look glum as the eclipse takes effect, the actual results are quite positive. You will quickly grasp what has to be done and fast action can bring good results. The theme of this eclipse is action concerning personal relationships.”

We’ve dramatically seen the effect of this eclipse once already, with the death of Diana. It could equally well point to an ending with Kate, and that could be early in the marriage (“You will quickly grasp what has to be done” – combine this with William’s Uranus-Moon transit over the next year.)

There is the broader issue of the monarchy itself, because as Brady has pointed out, this series began 10 years before King Egbert, who was the first king to (briefly) unite England, came to the throne. So this eclipse series could end with some sort of ending for the monarchy, in 2036 + or - 10 years. There isn’t a big republican movement in England, and it seems unlikely that we would want rid of our kings and queens. But it’s perfectly possible that Scotland or Australia, for example, could do so. Scotland going republican would be a particularly big event, because it would suggest a break-up of the UK itself.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The British Character and the Royal Marriage

Mercury started moving forward again today, and almost like clockwork I’ve felt like writing again, after a gap of a week or so. I think the Mercury retrograde periods (which happen for 3 weeks 3 times a year) subtly change my writing. They move it on, though I couldn’t say how. I experience Mercury retrograde as a powerful and positive period, even though practical affairs are likely to go awry if you don’t take care. I think they go awry because it is a time for thought and for gathering yourself after a period of activity: the collective mind is not so focussed ‘out there’ keeping the world going round!
There are 2 conflicting sides to the British character. On the one hand we are very traditional and respect our elders and betters. On the other hand we believe that no man is better than any other, and will riot to prove our point. You can see this conflict in the UK Chart.

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The Sun is in conservative, hierarchical Capricorn; and the Moon and MC are in patriotic, conservative Cancer. So the conservatism would seem to be what is most fundamental. It is disrupted by Uranus Rising in Libra, which squares both the Sun and MC. Uranus is protest and rebellion, and being in Libra, it takes place when there is perceived unfairness. I’d say the Tory party is the Capricorn/Cancer bit, and the Labour Party the Uranus/Asc bit, though of course they overlap. You’d expect the Tories to be in power more often, which is what seems to happen.

Both sides of the British character are on display at the moment. We have had protests against the government spending cuts, and protests against the huge hike in student fees, which as anyone can see, will only increase social divisions: student fees come in the form of loans, but what if you’re clever but from a background that isn’t used to loans? Debt can be terrifying.
In Bristol, in the ‘alternative’ Stokes Croft area, there have over the last year been civil disturbances at the prospect of a branch of Tesco’s opening; subsequent to its opening last week, there were further disturbances, the storefront was destroyed, and it has closed. I’m sympathetic to what the demonstrators have done, because you wouldn’t have a chance of stopping Tesco by any other means. It sends out a big message.

But the coming week belongs to the traditionalists. It will conclude, of course, with the Royal Wedding, but it has begun with David Cameron coming out in favour of internships for the children of friends and colleagues. He says he feels very relaxed about it, and he would, for he has an aristocratic Moon-Jupiter conjunction in Leo. David Cameron is a Libran, and I think he does believe in fairness in his own way. But it’s like he can’t help himself. His Jupiter in Leo (privilege) exactly conjoins the UK Jupiter. That is why he is so relaxed about it. It’s the same mentality as George Bush handing out contracts in Iraq to corporations with which he was personally connected. He couldn’t see a problem: they’re people we know and trust and can work with.

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David Cameron’s position on internships came out yesterday as the Moon conjoined Pluto in early Capricorn, conjunct the UK Sun. The leader (Sun) maintaining the power (Pluto) of the privileged classes (Capricorn) through their children (Moon).

George Bush has Leo Rising, and Cameron has Leo Moon. And I think this behaviour is as much Leo as Capricorn, for while Capricorn is hierarchical, at best it believes you need to earn your place in it. Leo, on the other hand, is more likely to give you a free ride if it believes you are ‘special’. That can be great for promoting talent, but crap if the specialness amounts to no more than being ‘one of us’. OK, all this is an emotive issue for me, because I grew up around people who believed in privilege and the sense of superiority that comes with it, and I could have taken advantage of that. But I’m an Aquarian, and apart from the unfairness and disrespect to other people involved in privilege, my experience was of a very narrow world in which there was little room to be individual.

If you’re narrow in the first place, then that privileged world seems self-evidently a good thing to be part of, and people who opt out seem at best a bit weird and at worst like they need psychiatric help .

I wish William and Kate well in their marriage, but I only find it interesting sociologically, as a case of the British class structure affirming and celebrating itself. I won’t claim to be immune to the appeals of the occasion, and I wouldn’t believe any British person who said they were immune. I’d say they probably weren’t being honest with themselves. The tradition is too deep and too much part of us not to feel it in some way. I won’t make a point of not watching the wedding, but I could well be doing something I find more interesting.

I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary when Princess Diana died, but I think that was because it was more about a popstar or a religious icon dying than a member of the Royal Family. Diana had some unusual qualities and was also a bit of a mess, but that’s no different to 99% of us.

So what about the astrology of William and Kate’s marriage? I thought it might be useful to look at the charts for Charles’ 2 marriages first, as they might give us a clue what to look for.

First of all, Charles and Diana.

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I’d say the 2 main indicators are the Sun (the husband) and the Moon (the wife). Charles is Sun in Leo sextile to Jupiter and Saturn. Leo is the king/prince, and Saturn-Jupiter is the collective involvement. Leo and Jupiter also show his ease with taking a mistress, which for him is traditional. A royal marriage, not to put too fine a point on it, is a mating. (The actual matings were witnessed in previous centuries.)
It is a farmyard event that occurs for reasons of bloodlines and politics. Personal compatibility is not part of it, and there was pressure for Charles and Diana to marry each other. Charles was arguably just about old enough to know better, but he didn’t. In this context, mistresses and lovers make sense.

The Moon is in Cancer, showing Diana’s function was to be a mother, which the Moon likes. But it is conjunct Mars, and widely square to Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto. This is a very unhappy Moon. Disempowered (Pluto), moody and angry (Mars in Cancer) and the victim of a collective occasion (Saturn-Jupiter). As she said, she felt on the wedding day like ‘a lamb to the slaughter’. It was her decision, and let us not take that away from her. But it also seems to have been manipulative on the part of the older generation to put an unsure 21 year-old in that position. She was, again not to put too fine a point on it, groomed.

Charles and Camilla got married on a New Moon in Aries. I think the sign of Aries shows the 'bugger-what-the-public-thinks' attitude, which I support.

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The square to Saturn in Cancer in the 12th is this public opposition (conjunct the UK Moon at 19 Cancer.) But Saturn is weak in Cancer, and the trine from Sun-Moon to Pluto empowered Charles and Camilla to go ahead with ease. Saturn also shows the age factor in this marriage. Saturn comes onside as you get older and know how to work him. I think in this case it points to a happy marriage and public approval over time.

It is said that you should get married at a Full Moon, so that the Moon is equal to the Sun. Under a New Moon marriage, the wife can get eclipsed. Or the husband – the Sun and Moon can sometimes swap places. If you are young when you get married, this is probably worth taking into account. But if you are older, as Charles and Camilla were, and each person knows who they are, then I don’t think it need be a problem. It could point to a wonderful harmony, which is how close friends speak of Charles and Camilla together. Sun, Moon, Venus, North Node conjunct in Aries, trine to Pluto. The Sun has conjoined the Node in both Charles’ marriages, so they have both been necessary and important for him.

Uranus is a contrary planet, and his square to the Sun (the king) in the UK Chart describes the perverse response of the great British public to a royal marriage that was, for once, happy and real. We hated it. What we wanted was a fairytale marriage, which this most definitely was not.

I don’t know the exact time that William and Kate will be married on 29 April, but I think 11.30 isn’t far off.

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Like his father before him, William is getting married with Sun trine to Pluto, which is empowering for him. It also rules the Ascendant, strengthening its influence. The Moon is the more interesting one. In these royal marriages, it is the one marrying in who has to do the adjusting, and in this case it is Kate. The Moon is in Pisces, it is Void, and it makes no aspects apart from a wide out-of-sign conjunction to Uranus. For the first time, the heir to the throne is marrying a ‘commoner’ – i.e. an outsider, and this is Uranus. The lack of aspects and voidness suggests to me that Kate will be in a sense on her own within a strange institution, and that her identity will be subsumed (Pisces) into the marriage and the family. This is not necessarily an unhappy destiny (albeit not a very interesting one) for Kate. She has Sun in Capricorn and Moon in Cancer (just like the UK Chart) so feels very comfortable being part of the conservative establishment. The North Node is also on her Sun-Moon axis, so she has something important to learn by being in this position.

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BUT her Sun and Node, and possibly her Moon, are square to a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Libra. A lot depends on how this square plays out. A straightforward reading is that she is fiercely aspirational and is willing to become disempowered in order to attain a high social position. This could also describe the Moon in Pisces of the marriage chart. It is, of course, all quite unconscious. I think this is what is actually happening because of her background and previous behaviour. She was brought up to be socially aspirational (her Dad created a family coat of arms, and Kate’s sister was at one point seeing the son of a Duke.) And she spent her twenties fiddling about, clearly seeing eventual marriage to William as the purpose of her life.

And the square in her chart could in theory do for her. She could remain a cipher for the rest of her life. Many women have. But we live in an age where it is no longer acceptable for women to be ciphers. Unless they are in the Royal Family. But Kate Middleton was not born into the Royal Family.

So I think the square from the Sun to Saturn-Pluto describes Kate eventually having to break free of the disempowering position in which she has put herself. And the Moon-Uranus of the marriage chart describes both the suffering (Pisces) this will put Kate through and the disruptive effect (Uranus) this will have.

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It may not mean the end of the marriage. With Sun and Moon in 7th House Cancer, William is intensely, perhaps even suffocatingly, relationship and family oriented and would resist his family and marriage being broken up. Pluto will begin to conjoin Kate’s Sun in 4 to 5 years time, and will finish with squaring her Saturn-Pluto in about 11 years time. Also in 4 years time, her Progressed Venus will change direction, adding to the case for a shift in her marriage.

So I’d say that Kate will spend the early years of her marriage adapting to her new life and having children. After that, she will begin to change, to want to become more who she is, and this struggle will go on for 5 to 6 years – at the end of which Neptune will start to square Prince William’s Descendant, his relationship point, and will go on to square his Sun and Moon in the succeeding years. William will also have Prog Venus conjunct Node in about 11 years. So the outcome of Kate’s struggle for her own power will then lead to a period of major change for William. I’ve probably delved too far already into their personal lives, so I don’t think I’ll try and guess an outcome – whoops, I’m an astrologer, I meant predict! But you could say that in terms of changing the Royal Family, Kate will be taking up where Diana left off. And if she does stay, her Sun-Saturn-Pluto will eventually make her the real power within the Royal Family. With Neptune Rising and opposite Sun and Moon, William is able to become, for better or for worse, whatever those around him need him to be.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Outer Planets and the Anima Mundi

Two days ago we entered a new phase in the main transit affecting the world, the square from Uranus to Pluto. Pluto was effectively standing still for a week or two, and then on Saturday he started to go backwards from 7 Capricorn, as Uranus continued to move forwards in early Aries. By early August they will be within a degree of an exact square to each other.

Pluto is the basic energy, the life-force, that keeps the planet going, and Uranus is disrupting this and taking it off in new directions. Pluto rules the economy (because it is so basic to our ability to live), and with Uranus challenging Pluto, it is hard to have continuity and steady development, which is what you need for a thriving economy. The last 3 Uranus-Pluto squares – the present day, the 1930s, and the mid-1870s – were all associated with long recessions, or depressions, depending on what you want to call them.

To see clearly, we need to get it out of our heads that a recession is inevitably ‘bad’. Of course, for many individuals there will be economic hardship. But confidence and mood are big factors not just in how we experience a recession, but also in how long it lasts. And that mood is strongly influenced by the idea that an economy needs to be growing (note: NOT long-term sustainable, or developing) to be healthy. So as soon as economic indicators come in saying that e.g. the economy shrank by .1% for the last 2 quarters, then we are told we are in a ‘recession’, which is ‘bad’, and you start getting a feedback loop, based on confidence, that makes everything worse.

However, if e.g. sustainability is your criterion for the economy, then a downturn does not necessarily affect your basic measure of economic health: it may even heighten sustainability, and everyone might breathe a sigh of relief that resources are being used in a more balanced way, and there will be enough left for future generations. It would be an entirely different mindset that has a healthy feeling relationship with the planet, based on reciprocity. Another criterion for a healthy economy could be 'sufficiency'.

From the point of view of Uranus and Pluto, human affairs are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Their only concern is that humanity is always moving on to the next stage, and when you get a hard aspect between these 2 planets – every 35 years or so – then we are collectively pushed into a new era. The old era has reached a natural point of decay, whether we recognise it or not. You can see this process happening like clockwork, if you look back at the last 3 hard aspects: the present day square, the 60s conjunction, and the square of the early 30s.

The big question is that, since Uranus-Pluto change is in principle evolutionary, is there then necessarily some kind of collective progress going on? It is, I think, a comforting belief that gives meaning to suffering and the sense of participation in a sort of divine plan.

But I don’t think the facts bear it out. Humanity does not learn on a collective level for very long – why should it, for each generation naturally wants to learn for itself? – and our relationship with the planet is now f?@*ed (no other word will do) in a vast and unprecedented way. Our consciousness has changed, but the main actual progress has been technological.

That said, Uranus and Pluto ARE evolutionary: put another way, life has a natural urge to advance, to become more complex and responsive. You see it with the development of species. And you see it on an individual level with people as they learn (by no means always) from experience and become more uniquely themselves, a species of one.

But humanity collectively is more problematic. The physical evolution of our species may or may not be happening, but that is not the issue. (It may however be that in some respects our brains are atrophying, in that we no longer need to respond so creatively to our immediate environment.) The issue is collective human consciousness. If you say it necessarily evolves over time, then you take individual choice away, because that is the nature of conscious evolution. Uranus and Pluto are only evolutionary if that is what we want. We can’t avoid their cycles of decay and renewal, life has to keep changing. And on a collective level, good choices will sometimes (all too rarely) be made. And whose consequences last for a limited period.

So we can say, with the current Uranus-Pluto square, that change and renewal are coming about. But you can’t second-guess the choices we will collectively make. During the last square, Germany and Japan made certain choices that led to WWII. Those countries moved towards becoming less conscious.

All that said, the sum of human history remains meaningful, in fact the whole history of life on earth is meaningful. It has all had its impact on the anima mundi, the world soul, an idea that goes back to Plato: Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related. (Plato: the Timaeus.) The modern version of this is the Gaia Hypothesis. It’s not something you can ‘prove’, only feel. In a sense, the Anima Mundi is Neptune.

(By the way, some readers make the mistake that because I occasionally quote people like Plato, I must be learned. I'm not. My knowledge is very sketchy, and if you sit me down with a book that's at all academic, I switch off. I haven't got a clue, for example, what 'The Timaeus' is!)

With Uranus-Pluto, we know that big change is happening, and we can also describe the type of change. Pluto is the basic force of life that will, if we want it to, move us onto a more conscious level collectively. And Uranus is the great Disrupter and Progresser and Awakener that moves it all along, that facilitates the often sudden shift from one stage to the next, like a young bird cracking its shell.

With Uranus and Pluto now both moving into the square (from opposite directions), the speed of change will be intensified over the coming months. The necessary sense of crisis and instability that accompanies Uranus-Pluto will intensify.

We have already seen this instability and sense of crisis growing over the last couple of years – as Uranus and Pluto have come within range of each other – economically, politically and environmentally. Economically, we are a long way from being out of the woods, even though we continue to take hope from the latest sets of figures.

The debt problems seem intractable. Politically, there is the intensification of polarisation that you see under Uranus-Pluto both across the Middle and Near East and in the US.

We can expect a highly polarised US Presidential Election campaign next year – and probably polarisation within the candidate selection race as well, particularly in the Republican Party, involving its right wing ‘Tea Party’ movement.

Sarah Palin’s star, however, will no longer be rising, as transiting Neptune, which gives charismatic appeal, has now finished conjoining her Sun, Mars, Saturn in Aquarius; and Uranus-Pluto will next year have finished with her Venus (popularity). It would seem that her period of appeal will therefore be over. Prediction: she will declare her candidacy, and be knocked out after Uranus makes his final conjunction to her Venus, Prog Mars starts to separate from natal Venus and Prog Moon from natal Neptune. Not so Mr Obama, where Neptune will have moved on from squaring his MC to an applying square to his Moon. So his election-winning charismatic appeal will still be there, for better or for worse. He will also be experiencing a Progressed Full Moon (applying), which suggests a peak in his life.

The crisis that doesn’t seem to interest voters much is the environment and our profligate use of her resources. I think the Pluto Discovery chart, which has Pluto at 17 Cancer, warns us of the Power (Pluto) of Nature (Cancer), which can be for us or against us. The first Pluto Opposition is in 5 years time, while Uranus-Pluto is still operative. So I expect this crisis to intensify.

In a way it is the Spectre at the Feast. It is the issue behind all others that we still effectively ignore. But you can’t separate the earth from human consciousness. It is the ground of our consciousness. The increase in natural disasters from oil spills to flooding to earthquakes in recent years is like something we are repressing coming out at the edges. Somewhere we KNOW, and it seems so huge and it threatens us so much that we don’t want to know, and the more we try to keep it down, the more it will express itself as an autonomous, destructive personality. We have effectively treated nature as an enemy in our use of her, so that is how we think of her, and the natural disasters kind of ‘prove’ this.

The earth herself is the collective unconscious in its widest sense. She stores the imprint of the whole history of life. We are not separate from that, we are integral to the animus mundi. And there are profound patterns to life that we will never know: how can one small human consciousness ever know more than one small part of life? We sense this, and experience it as a profound mystery, the unknowability of life.

The problems we have created with the environment are incredibly difficult to solve, for we cannot easily conceive how 7 billion people could live in a sustainable way on the planet, even if countries co-operated, which they won’t. Neptune in Pisces represents the new dream of how we could do that; but it also represents the loss of the old dream, the sense of hopelessness even, that needs to come first. I think that sense of hopelessness is already there in the collective unconscious, but we are not admitting to it. Acknowledged, it is a good thing, it is soulful (Neptune). Alternative energy sources and ways of life remain the dream of a few.

The nuclear problem in Japan, occurring just as Neptune was about to enter Pisces, is synchronous. Nuclear energy still represents the dream of unlimited energy supplies, and while we have that dream, it is hard for an attitude of sustainable use of resources to come about.

Even if nuclear power isn’t terrible environmentally – I don’t think there is a clear answer here, and I don’t think dogmatism against nuclear power helps – it still represents an attitude of taking as much as we can from Nature without giving back.

So we get a total picture from the outer planets here: Uranus-Pluto describing an intensifying sense of crisis around the environment as Pluto moves towards its ‘natal’ opposition; and Neptune’s Ingress into Pisces representing a loss of faith in the stand-alone power of Science (Neptune in Aquarius); a collective sense of loss of vision and even despair as Neptune further establishes itself in Pisces; but also the distinct possibility of a new, more holistic vision as Neptune moves towards the end of Pisces and on into Aries in 12-15 years time. This will be the time when Pluto moves into Aquarius, when the shadow of Science will have to be faced.

Let's get really cosmic: the North Node is currently conjunct the Galactic Centre. This happens every 19 years or so. But it has happened at the same time as a Uranus Ingress and a Neptune Ingress, and at this turning point in human affairs. (By the way, I subscribe to the idea that 2012, if it is indeed significant, happened in 2010 at the lunar eclipse on the winter solstice.) We are starting to discover earth-sized planets, and therefore the possibility of life, around other stars. It seems like a matter of time. It is as if what is happening here now has wider significance, that consciousness with its cleverness and potential for self-centredness always eventually reaches the sort of impasse we are in now. It is our Battlestar Galactica moment. The Anima Via Lactea is watching.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Nature of Pluto

Last week I was writing about Neptune, and what seems to me to be his most fundamental meaning, which is the stories, or myths, that describe our world. All those descriptions are simply stories we tell ourselves, rather than hard, ‘objective’ realities. This applies even at the most basic level, where we divide the world into subject and object, and into the senses of time and space, all of which enable us to order and make sense of our experience.
They are structures imposed on experience by the brain and shared by others, so they seem objective. But they are just stories about how things are. They are the world of appearances. Neptune is the undivided reality behind it all – the ocean – but Neptune is also the mythopoeic imagination that helps us makes sense of the ocean.

But there is another planet out there with Neptune, namely Pluto, and he is even more distant. We know he is Lord of the Underworld, that he rules the economy and power and hidden things and the shadow and death and transformation. But along with Neptune, he also describes the most fundamental realities. What, in Pluto’s case, might this be?

I think that the clue lies in the word ‘power’. I think that Pluto is the most basic force of all: the power to live, the ‘life-force’, if you like. Pluto is what keeps us wanting to stay alive, he is our instinct to survive, and he is the urge that created the universe in the first place. Out of that comes Neptune and the stories that enable us to make sense of it all.

But he is not just a unitary, nameless force. The life-force has an inherent tendency to unfold, to transform. Pluto is also a god of riches, and these riches are what comes out of that transformative power. This is why Pluto is sometimes described as ‘evolutionary’. Life is never static, it is always moving onto the next stage, even if that is death. This evolution may be conscious or unconscious, but it is always there.

The word evolution implies development, which in turn suggests becoming more advanced. Although evolution is a scientific word, it still therefore carries the suggestion of a direction, of a purpose, which is quite interesting, as though the scientists cannot help themselves. To see life as a material process that has just happened to become more complex, but which does not have any inherent direction or purpose, is to deny something deep within ourselves, something we feel deeply about being alive. And that feeling comes first, before reason. Reason helps us order and make sense of experience, but experience is always primary. We are often taught the other way round, that reason is what is ultimate and that is what makes us 'advanced'. It is one of our modern insanities. At least religion, for all its faults, does not think like this. Pluto, of course, was demoted to a dwarf planet a few years ago, and that says it all.

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The Discovery Chart for Pluto has Pluto in Cancer and the Sun in Aquarius. Pluto is Pluto, but I think we can assume that the moment he was discovered also has a particular message to tell us. Pluto in Cancer tells us that the power to live (Pluto) comes from nature (Cancer) rather than from the rational, scientific ego (Sun in Aquarius). Pluto is non-rational (as opposed to irrational, meaning out of step with reality.) Pluto is something we feel, we sense very strongly, it is the sense of life that comes before any thought about it.

Pluto has a reputation for being dark and destructive. But it is not quite like that. It is more that there is this evolutionary urge, there is life trying to move on to the next stage, because that is its nature, and something is in the way, so it cannot but push against it: that is what we experience as dark and destructive. It is like the roots of a plant breaking the flower pot that was previously a helpful container, but which has now become too small for it. Of course, it may not be obvious to us that is what is happening. To push the metaphor, the flower pot has been there for years, we have decorated it beautifully, we are very fond of it, and it has come to seem like an integral part of the plant.

So with Pluto we need to be able to distinguish between what is real and essential to our lives, and what belongs to a passing phase, however integral it may have been.
A Pluto transit can even involve moving people out of our lives, people with whom we may have been very close, or family members, because they stand in the way of the next stage unfolding. This is where Pluto can appear as ruthless, and that is because he is ruthless. Whatever stands in the way of the primary imperative, the imperative from life that it should grow, has to go.

The growth of an individual person is only superficially directed by the conscious personality. What we think of as ‘me’ is part of a larger project, and not necessarily the most important part. You can find under a Pluto transit, for example, that the energy and motivation you had always taken for granted, as ‘yours’, has been switched off. Hubris is when we think that the conscious personality is in fact in control.

Pluto will always surprise us. And he gives us the power to live our lives. When he has done his work, when he has destroyed everything standing in our way – and it can feel like it is our self that has been destroyed! – then he leaves us with a great opportunity to seize hold of the seed of something new and run with it.

One of the powers of Pluto is the ability to function independently, to stand alone. I don’t just mean this in the sense of earning a living. You can do that while remaining at a deeper level unconscious and derivative in your values. Pluto gives us the power to break free of what we have inherited and to find something that is truly our own.
There is often a wasteland and struggle and self-doubt to go through first, and the process can take many years. But you often see it in Scorpios, or people with Sun-Pluto contacts: it is like life is always pushing them to stand alone, to break free of any figures of authority – however helpful and beneficent – and to find their own voice. We are also on Uranus territory here, but it is Pluto that gives the underlying power.

I have a Moon-Saturn conjunction at 15-23 Sagittarius. It was as Pluto finished passing over these 2 in 2006 that I began this astrology blog. I had begun writing astrologically during the transit. Saturn is authority, in this case not over other people, but in the sense of having strong foundations. And that is what the blog has given me over the years. I have not been part of any astrological establishment, I do not have any certificates, and I have had to learn to take myself seriously as an astrologer without all that. Knowledge from others and their encouragement is what most of us need to start with, but in any discipline you reach a point where you need to go your own way, where you may need not to have the approbation of the establishment behind you.

This is what Pluto wants us to do, to individuate. It seems to be a particular quality of humans that you don’t find to the same degree in animals and plants. It is particular to the way that Pluto as life-force expresses itself in humans: the urge to separate off from the collective thought patterns and behaviours of the species and create something that hasn’t been there before. A bit like what evolution does on the material level, which is to create new species of increasing complexity. It’s as though with humans Pluto takes evolution onto another level, a more conscious level, and asks us to create a new species within, a species that will only ever be one of its kind, but which can inspire the same process in others.

After writing this, I looked up in what sign Pluto is exalted - where it functions most creatively - and many astrologers consider it to be Leo. Which fits, because Leo emphasises uniqueness and individuality. At the same time, for Leos that can amount to gifts that come early and which they then coast on. (Mick Jagger?) Pluto and his travails give those gifts substance and depth.

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