Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Sort of Astrologer Am I?

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I’ve sort of wondered recently, do I have a particular approach to astrology? I probably do, it’s just that I haven’t tied it into a bundle and called it something. I’m not sure I’d want to, because for me what is important is the astrologer hirself (pronounced with a Scottish accent), not the set of ideas around them. It seems to be a well-trodden path to establishing yourself as an astrologer that you need a book and a specialty, and that is what you are known for. Up to a point, that seems fair enough. But also, people can look really good on paper, and become well known and respected, without being that substantial as people. This idea gets raised a lot in Buddhism, where you have the famous teacher who knows everything there is to know and can argue and present brilliantly, but the guy with the real insight is the cowherd that nobody looks twice at.

For me, it’s the person that matters, and that applies right across all the counselling/ healing/’spiritual’ fields. I think astrology, because it is a craft based on such a multitude of ideas, is particularly prone to identifying substance with intellectual attainment. The well-known names in astrology are often not particularly known for their ability to read personal charts. They may be perfectly good at that, but it also seems to be an increasingly well-trodden path to stop doing much in the way of personal charts and to enter the academic world. Astrology has an issue with intellectual credibility, and the more it allows itself to feel wrong-footed by the establishment, and desperate to prove itself in their eyes, the more one-sidedly intellectual it is liable to become.

Because surely this is what astrology comes down to, the ability to sit down with someone and be of real help to them. And that is not just about the ability to read charts. More importantly, it is the ability to identify what the important issues are for someone that will help them move on, and to have sound, uncommon sense things to say about those issues. And this comes back to where you are as a human being. Have you had that initiation by life that allows you to see beneath the conventional surface to what is real? Is what you know really your own, is it lived? In astrological terms, have you allowed Neptune and Pluto to madden you and tear you apart, and have you seen what they were getting at? You may be 20 years old and have understood that, you may be 80 and still taking the world at face-value.

But coming back to where I started. Do I have a particular approach? Well I’m thinking it could be called polytheistic astrology. The planets as gods. Not planets as principles or even archetypes but as actual gods who have claims upon you. Gods whose presence you sometimes feel. Those ‘parts of the psyche’ that they represent are in a sense independent of you, not located purely ‘within’ you. The psyche as an objective reality, as Jung put it. As James Hillman said, the soul has become located within the person and not in the world, which is why he thinks psychotherapy has not helped make the world a better place.
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Astrology has a particular offering to the modern world in this sense, because it sees the synchronicity between inner and outer events. It sees, in other words, that the soul is in the world ‘out there’, that inner and outer are not separate, that there is an underlying unity.

And the gods also straddle this modern divide. If you have say Mercury square Mars in your chart, you could see it as a challenge to be bold in your thinking and speech; and if you are not bold, well maybe it’s going to come out some other way, maybe you’ll find yourself swearing aggressively at people. But also you could see it as the gods Mercury and Mars ‘out there’ making claims upon you that are conflicting because they are in incompatible elements, say Fire and Earth. And maybe the way to move it on is by propitiating them. You do ceremonies, build altars to them and their elements, invoke them and honour them. 

Often we use astrology as a psychoanalytic tool, and that’s well and good. But maybe we don’t need that analysis of how ‘our’ personality works. Because it’s not ‘ours’ anyway. You belong to the gods, not the other way round. If we honour Mercury and Mars, and let them know we want them to work together, then we can leave it to them to sort that out. They are much bigger and more powerful than us, it is in a sense not our place to try and sort them out. And what they might have in mind when it comes to working well together might be quite different to what we have in mind. It might involve some sort of deal. They might think it’s perfectly OK to swear and curse sometimes. The gods are not moral in a conventional sense.

I’m not claiming originality for this approach. It’s just what I lean towards. 3 years ago, in the middle of a series of Neptune transits, I felt I needed more vision in my life. So I drove off and did a ritual to Neptune that involved both the beach and a forest. 2 weeks later, to my surprise, I found myself getting ready to move house, setting in motion a chain of events that is still unfolding.

Astrology shows us that there is this much bigger understanding, bigger picture that is beyond our limited human grasp. It may not matter that much whether we understand ourselves in a psychological sense. People got on for thousands of years without modern psychology. What does matter is the understanding that there are these larger forces – which as an astrologer I identify with the Greek gods – and that our job is to feel them and honour them and live by them. That is the beginning of wisdom. Our life is not ‘our own’, we cannot dream up whatever we want and then ‘empower’ ourselves to have it. That is wrong-headed. As Jung said, Free Will is about doing gladly what we have to do.

So I’m a polytheistic astrologer. I think I’m probably also an evolutionary astrologer, but not in the sense that is normally understood: From WikiAn evolutionary astrologer works from the belief that souls reincarnate and evolve over many lifetimes and are therefore born with pre-existing experiences and orientations that affect the soul's current incarnation. In the evolutionary astrology paradigm, the natal chart is believed to show the soul’s intent, the life lessons of a person's present life, and to give insight into lessons and learnings of past incarnations. In the evolutionary astrology paradigm, the natal chart is believed to show the soul’s intent, the life lessons of a person's present life, and to give insight into lessons and learnings of past incarnations.

I only do past lives on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My point being that I don’t do belief if I can help it, in the sense of basing my thinking on ideas I cannot verify for myself. I can read evidence for past lives, but I have no experience of them. Nor am I aware of ‘pre-existing experiences’. Of course, we have an innate character that is not just the product of our parents and surroundings, that is observable, but you don’t need to invoke past lives to explain that – indeed, why explain it at all? I don’t mind past lives as a story we sometimes tell ourselves, but we need to dance lightly with it, not take it too literally.

I mean, the world we actually experience is not literally there, it is a product of the brain and an artificial separation into inner and outer, subject and object. So a fortiori I don’t think we can take something we do not generally experience, i.e. past lives, literally. And even more so the lessons we are supposed to have learnt in those past lives.

And the idea of a soul intent I can’t really buy either. I can buy the gods’ intentions, I’m happy with that. But I’ll leave that to them, it’s not for me to poke around there, like trying to open a flower bud before it’s ready. Besides, they might change their minds!

I’m evolutionary in the sense that I have observed that life is always moving on to some new stage. This is Pluto. You see it in plants and animals, not just in the course of their individual lives, but in the way species change over long time periods, and the way life seems to bring in new elements: that is Uranus. And you see it in people, in our own lives and in others’ lives. And usually I see my job as an astrologer as identifying how people’s lives are trying to move on (yes, it’s life, not them, that provides the impulse) and take the side of that bit that wants to move on. That is the main thing, everything else follows from that. If you answer that call to change, to become someone in a way more than you were (which often involves becoming less, stripping away the old), then you are doing that life needs of you. That is often a very hard thing for people to do, and some people move faster than others, some barely at all in the course of their lives. But I think most personal difficulties in a way come down to this. Are you prepared to change in the way that life is asking you to? And as an astrologer I can have a good idea of what way that is, that is where I can be of help.

So I am an evolutionary astrologer in the sense that my experience is that life is always moving on to a new stage in its own mysterious way, and my main job when I read a chart is to identify and back that process.

So there you have it: I’m a polytheistic evolutionary astrologer.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sapiential Deficit Disorder

A philosopher friend recently said to me that most philosophical writing fails due to ‘sapiential deficit’. What a wonderful phrase. This was in response to a blog piece of mine in which I’d said that I’ve always found most philosophy books unreadable. Maybe it could become a recognised syndrome, Sapiential Deficit Disorder (SDD), early diagnosis of which could stop the wrong sort of chap from becoming Prime Minister. Or President. Charging off to war for ideological reasons without thinking through the consequences.

A British MP, David Ward, has just made himself unpopular in the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day by saying that he was "saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza".

Now of course you’re not supposed to say things like that in public life, and I’m sure David Ward will soon be accused of anti-Semitism. Anyone who criticises Israel is liable to be called anti-Semitic. It’s throwing mud in the hope that it will stick. ‘Racist’ and ‘Chauvinist’ often get used in the same way.

But it made me think that David Ward is doing what politicians should do: showing leadership by speaking the truth. If you want high office as a politician, you usually have to do the opposite, fudge the truth and ignore inconvenient realities. I became aware of Barack Obama’s capacity for fudging early in his 2008 campaign when his spiritual mentor, Rev Jeremiah Wright, was shown in a video saying that 9/11 was America’s chickens coming home to roost. Of course it was true, but politically you have to say they were mindless terrorists doing it for no reason. So Obama denounced Rev Wright and severed his connection with him. What a thing to do, what a betrayal of himself. Probably the main cause of SDD in politicians.
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It’s the opposite of real leadership, which is standing up and saying something that you know to be true. It has that feel of integrity, solid ground to it, something you can live your life by. In the UK each party has it’s ‘maverick’ MPs who say what they think. I think they have a very important role. The most popular politicians are often those who manage to combine High Office with a degree of truth-telling. Like Vince Cable, the Business Secretary.

Astrologically, I think of various factors: Sagittarius, with its capacity for straightforward, refreshing honesty. Uranus/ Aquarius, which thinks nothing of breaking the rules and being original. Mars/Aries, which sees truth as a fight to be fought. Pluto/Scorpio, which wants to live by what is real, and is comfortable with unpalatable truths. The astrological factors can show the reasons for, or way in which, you tell difficult truths. Probably a bit clumsily, if like me you have Sag. But fundamentally it is a matter of integrity, and the chart doesn’t show that. Is this being a saint or a sinner or a chicken? You don’t know until you’ve met them.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 2 charts for Obama's Inauguration

In my vlog on Saturday I discussed the Inauguration Chart for President Obama, using the date of Monday’s public ceremony. A number of people responded but what about the official swearing in on Sunday, maybe that is the correct chart to use?

I think it’s an interesting one. There are 2 charts here, and I think they both represent different things. It’s a bit like the chart for the USA itself. Usually we use the Sibly Chart, based on the Declaration of Independence on 4th July. But the governmental declaration of independence took place 2 days earlier. It read: “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States.”

So we could see the earlier chart as having an emphasis on Congress and the governing of the USA, and the later Sibly Chart as having an emphasis on the people, on the nation as a whole.

And I think we could see these 2 swearing in charts in the same way. Sunday’s official swearing in says more about Obama’s relations with Congress, and Monday’s is more about his relations with the people. I was looking at the Moon as the people (standard in a mundane chart), so Monday’s seemed more appropriate to me. Should have explained myself at the time!

Monday’s chart has a trine from the Sun to the Moon, showing a President who is in harmony with the aspirations of the people. With Moon being conjunct Jupiter, it also suggests a people who believe in their President. 

And the Sunday Chart? Here we can see the Moon as the members of Congress. It is Angular, in Taurus and in a tight and applying square with 10th House Mars in Aquarius. So surely a theme of struggle, of fight (Mars) between the progressive ideas (Aquarius) of the President (10th House) and a Taurean Congress: conservative, anxious about money. By saying 'progressive' I mean wanting to move into a different future - for better or for worse.

And Saturn in Scorpio, opposite the Moon and Ascendant. A long drawn-out, purging, painful struggle. In which reality and common sense are attempting to prevail over what feels like a fight to the death by people who feel genuinely threatened. 

In both charts we see Sun-Mercury square Angular Saturn, a President who is having to struggle to get his ideas accepted, against Saturn in Scorpio, not a pleasant or very hopeful place to be.

All this at a time when Uranus-Pluto is hard-aspecting the American Sun. This seems to describe the political crisis in Congress, in which it is harder than usual  for the Democrats to get any laws through, due to the intransigence of a small section of the Republican Party. Over the New Year the country was brought to the point of ungovernability by the inability of Congress to reach agreement on a budget. Obama has to negotiate this crisis, and the Sun trine Moon in the Public Inauguration Chart suggests that the people will be on his side in this battle. And there will be an outcome, a sea change in American politics in the next few years as Uranus and Pluto do their work on the American Sun. What the astrology doesn't say is which way it will go.

Ad Break: I offer webcam astrology readings (£20 per ½ hour). Contact: Dharmaruci71(at) I’ll be travelling in Canada and the USA this year doing readings and informal talks – if you’d like me to drop by, let me know!

PS I am undecided about the meanings of mundane charts. Should I go with the traditional list below (can’t find where I got it from) or should I modify it? Venus below, for example, doesn't make a lot of sense to me; I prefer the meanings of the women of a nation and money, particularly our values around it. And what about foreign relations, surely one would expect some sort of 9th House participation? Particularly, say, around attitudes to foreign countries and their cultures?
  • Sun : Supreme authority in the State (the President/Prime Minister/Chancellor). Eclipses often signify the death or displacement of the head of state. National character and identity, major events, overall Weltanschauung.
  • Moon : The population, the popular mood; national security needs, basic necessities, women's issues, agriculture.
  • Mercury : News media and the Press, literature, all schools leading up to higher education; the post office and means of communication; political speeches, opinion polls, transportation.
  • Venus : Sufferers, disease, arrogance, defeat in war, death, anger, jealousy
  • Mars : The armed forces and police; violent crime, war, industrial concerns; when associated with Uranus may cause explosions, terrorism; with Neptune, treachery. Divisive elements in society.
  • Jupiter : Clergy and churches, religion, judges, law and court system, higher education, prosperity, publishing, banking, insurance; the 'upper classes'; philanthropic institutions (especially in association with Neptune).
  • Saturn : Property, the system of government, institutions and bureaucracy, economy, conservatism, infrastructure, law, control
  • Uranus : Administration, revolutions, progressive or radical movements, countercultures; power in its physical sense - electrical and nuclear, new technology, innovation.
  • Neptune : The arts, glamor, hope, idealism, covert actions, socialism; hospitals, charitable institutions; the navy. Under affliction associated with muddle, fraud, crime, scandal; brewing and alcohol, drugs; chemicals, footwear.
  • Pluto : Financial or political power, factions, oligarchies, big business, nuclear energy, mines; criminal detection, but under affliction the criminal underworld, death, catastrophes, dictators.
  • Ceres : Native needs to feel loved and nurtured, the reproductive issues of an adult woman, pregnancy, family bonds and relationships. Deals with grief, worry, negative emotions and places of perceived imprisonment.
Houses and Signs
Carter also associated each of the houses and signs with different aspects of politics and the state as follows:
  • 1st House-Aries : The nation as a whole, its self image and how it projects itself to the world.
  • 2nd House-Taurus : The economy
  • 3rd House-Gemini : Education; periodical publications; the post office, radio and transport; communications in general; science.
  • 4th House-Cancer : Land and housing; agriculture; the opposition in parliament
  • 5th House-Leo : All forms of national pleasure and entertainment; sports, general amusements; Society, children
  • 6th House-Virgo : The 'working classes'; left wing organisations; public health. The armed forces and civil service.
  • 7th House-Libra : Foreign affairs generally; war as well as treaties.
  • 8th House-Scorpio : Financial relations with foreign countries; public safety and crime.
  • 9th House-Sagittarius : The law; religion; philosophy; and science.
  • 10th House-Capricorn : Heads of state; government; national prestige.
  • 11th House-Aquarius : Parliament, especially the lower house. Local government.
  • 12th House-Pisces : Prisons, hospitals, homes for the aged; philanthropic societies; secret societies; monasteries and institutional religion.
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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Elixir of Immortality

Defeating old age and death is an ancient dream of humanity. The Elixir of Immortality. The first Emperor of China went mad from Mercury poisoning in a vain attempt to avoid old age.

From Wikipedia: “Comte de St. Germain, an 18th century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.”

I don’t dismiss these stories. Somewhere I believe they are true.

As an astrologer, I want to interpret this quest allegorically, as the alchemists may have done. Eternal Life is found not in a chemical compound, nor even in Jesus, but in the qualities of Leo, ruled by the Sun, the source of Life. This is the Leo quest: to find that very individual wellspring deep within, that keeps one young well into old age, and which paradoxically connects one to the universal source of life. And makes hir the life and soul of the party.

[Hir, pronounced here with a Scottish accent: my neologism to avoid the ungainly him/her]

But we live in a literal age where matter is more real than the soul. And science, the religion of matter, is hot on the trail of the Elixir of Immortality.

Telomerase. During our lives, our cells keep dividing to maintain and replenish the body. But a cell and its descendants can only divide so many times. What happens in cell division is that the chromosomes in the nucleus, the brains of the cell, replicate and divide, and in this process the ends of the chromosomes, the telomeres, get a bit tattered. Eventually, they get so tattered that the functional DNA is exposed and the cell ceases to function. This seems to be one of the primary causes of ageing.

The function of telomerase is to reverse this process, to rebuild the tattered telomeres. But our body only produces so much telomerase. Correlations have been found in humans between longevity and the production of telomerase.

Mice engineered to lack telomerase aged very quickly. Activating telomerase production dramatically reversed the ageing process. Researchers feared it would also lead to cancers, but it didn’t.
Telomerase may be the Elixir of Immortality. It has not been tested on humans yet. But if you see any ageing billionaires starting to look young again, it may not be botox and facelifts. One or two of them with nothing to lose are surely trying it already.

Pluto will be in Capricorn until 2024. Capricorn is associated with old age, Pluto with death and transformation. A synchronous time for finding a way of limiting, if not halting, the ageing process. And the generation entering old age at this time have Pluto in Leo. Leo is the child, the youth, so they are a generation that on the one hand can become more youthful in spirit as they age; but on the other hand they can be a generation that fights old age, firstly with botox, and with telomerase if they can get hold of it.
Ad Break: I offer webcam astrology readings (£20 per ½ hour). Contact: Dharmaruci71(at) I’ll be travelling in Canada and the USA this year doing readings and informal talks – if you’d like me to drop by, let me know!

Meanwhile, last year researchers discovered that in either 774 or 775 AD the earth was struck by a massive blast of gamma rays . German researchers reckon it came from two black holes or neutron stars colliding and merging in our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. Others reckon it was a solar flare.

But which year was it? And what was the cause? In both those years there was an opposition from Uranus in Gemini to Pluto in Sagittarius. Uranus suggests an explosion, which could be either a solar flare or colliding black holes. Pluto is nuclear energy, and Sagittarius suggests Fire from a long way away i.e. it wasn’t the Sun but the black holes. I’d expect Leo if it was the Sun.

And the year? In 774AD Jupiter joined Pluto, suggesting a massive event, and again suggestive of distance.

So that is my astrological take: it was 774AD, and it was colliding bodies.

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