Friday, May 27, 2011

Readings (Part II); the Importance of Being a Mess

I’ve decided to offer written astrology readings in response to specific issues and questions.
The more information you give me, the more specific I can be. Job, career, relationships, house-moving, impossible parent, horrible transit, life falling apart…. I’ll write about half a page. Price £30, or £20 if you’re hard up. My email address is on my profile on the right of the page.

It’s not my job to make decisions for people, but I might be able to point you in a useful direction. Nor is it my job to predict the future in a definite sort of way. But I’m happy to be nebulous!

I’ve been thinking how useful it can be to feel like you’re a mess and you don’t know what to do about it. That’s when a lot of change can happen, and often does happen, though maybe over a period of years.

There’s the light and the dark. The light is following your deeper interests, whatever it is that gives you joy. It is also doing the things that make you happy in an ordinary kind of way, and feeling it’s OK to do that – which, remarkably, people don’t always feel.

But I think it’s also important that there are periods where it all stops making sense, where much of what gave your life meaning no longer seems to. And you’re scrabbling around feeling like this retard who can’t make their life work, unlike all the jolly, directed people up there above your private underworld.

As an astrologer, you’re more likely to encounter people when things aren’t working, rather than when they are. And you can re-assure them that no, they are not a retard, it’s a normal and often necessary experience that gives depth to your life.

‘Spiritual’ paths are often presented in terms of movement towards the light. Towards ecstatic experience, union with God, your original self etc. But I think if you’re a teacher (which I’m not), your real job is often being around for people when their life doesn’t add up anymore. And helping them focus on finding their own way through it, rather than latching on to someone else's 'answers'.

It’s very easy for ‘spiritual’ teachers to stop their own underworld journeys, or even never to have been there properly in the first place. You can see it in them: the unprocessed scripts, classically the desires for power or sex or wealth or success, running alongside the undoubted gifts and insights and probably charisma. These people are betrayers. Their 'rightness' or their success is more important to them than you are. Ironically, betrayal can be what is needed, it can pull someone's world apart in a way that is ultimately useful.

I'm sceptical that teachers with followings can ever take people beyond a basic level. The next level, after you've heard what they have to say, is often claiming your power back by leaving! Followers create a collective projection and a handing over of power which even a good teacher can do little about. You see people hanging around for years, trying to advance themselves, when their next real step is actually to leave.

I think we often only end up an underworld mess if there is conflict in us, if there is a deeper element that goes no, I can’t live like that. You see many people happily leading their lives from relatively narrow motives or worse, but it doesn’t bother them.
They appear successful, and it’s we who can’t live like that who can appear to be the ones with ‘problems’. But as is so often the case, the reality is the opposite of what it appears to be. And part of what gives you depth in this sort of situation is that you are not having the approval of the world to make you feel OK about who you are. You have to find it for yourself, independently. But the confidence you emerge with is real, it stands on its own.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pluto in Leo, Pluto in Capricorn and Death

There’s a test coming out this year, costing about £400, that will tell you how long you are likely to live. It is based on the length of your telomeres, lengths of repetitive DNA at the ends of your chromosomes that help keep them intact. Every time the cell divides during the course of your life, the telomere shortens. Eventually it is no more, and then the chromosome itself starts shortening at every cell division and soon becomes ineffective and the cell dies.

So there is a general association between the lengths of your telomeres and how quickly you will start to age. It seems to hold as a general rule, though there are for example some species of seabird where the rule doesn’t hold.

The generation who are now entering retirement, for whom ageing is the big issue, are the Pluto in Leo generation. Pluto is associated with both the power to live and with death, and Leo is associated with youth. So this generation is likely to live longer than previous generations (Leo and youth) and also have a harder time accepting the process of ageing (Leo and youth again!) But also, some are likely to remain young in spirit as they age.

This is happening under Pluto in Capricorn, a sign that is associated with old age. So there is rich symbolism here. Puer aeternus meets senex, eternal youth meets old fogey. Opposites are needed to create an interesting synthesis, and this is what we have. The best of this Pluto in Leo generation will keep the power to live as they age, they will see their lives as having a future.

I think that the notion of death as extinction, as the opposite of life, tends to create pessimism about old age, which can seem like a long process of delaying the inevitable, even of denying it. The Pluto in Leo generation, functioning through Pluto in Capricorn can, and probably are, changing this. CG Jung analysed many old people, and he said that the unconscious did not behave as though it was going to be extinguished, it behaved as though it were going to continue. So life itself (the unconscious) does not see death as the end of life, and who are we to argue with that? Do we know better? We do not know, we cannot know, what death holds in store for us. But I don’t think deep down we feel it to be an extinction. It is a matter of which we trust: our feelings, or scientific materialism.

So Pluto in Leo will be the first older generation to have a fairly good idea, barring accidents, of how long they are going to live. I think Science is doing us a service here, because it will be giving us information we didn’t previously have. It will have huge consequences for the nature of old age, it will be uncomfortable for many, I find myself slightly balking at it, but I don’t think it serves anyone to ignore information that is there waiting to be had. It would be like a family secret, an elephant in the room.

What Science is capable of doing with that information, on the other hand, is not the same thing. It is one thing to discover information, it is another to take action with it. There are enzymes called telomerases that can rebuild telomeres, and you find a lot of these enzymes in cells that need to do a lot of dividing, such as stem cells (remember them?) and certain white blood cells. Here it is: scientists have injected telomerases into lab mice, and they have in many ways shown dramatic rejuvenation. The effects of ageing were not just prevented, they were reversed.

"What we were expecting was a slowing or stabilisation of the ageing process," Professor Ronald DePinho told the BBC. "Instead we witnessed a dramatic reversal in the signs and symptoms of ageing. These animals had their brains increase in size, they improved their cognition, their coat-hair was restored to a healthy sheen and their fertility was also restored."

There is a Holy Grail here. How long before the process is refined and a billionaire sets up a lab on his private island and injects himself with the stuff? It will be the fulfilment of an ancient fantasy. The first Emperor of a unified China, Qin Shi Huang, sent expeditions to find the elixir of life so that he could live forever. The emissaries never returned, knowing they would be executed when their mission failed. The Emperor ironically died as a result of Mercury poisoning, ingested to prolong his life.

This issue hasn’t entered mainstream discussion yet, but it will. Firstly under Pluto in Capricorn: power (Pluto) over old age (Capricorn). But then under Pluto in Aquarius: Science (Aquarius) appearing to defeat Death (Pluto.) Again, it will be the Pluto in Leo generation who will initially have most to gain from the possibility of rejuvenation. And it is a puer aeternus vs senex issue: that aspect of Leo, more than any other sign, that wishes to remain a child, versus the realities of life.

But which of us wouldn’t be tempted by the possibility of physical rejuvenation? For many of us as we age it is, or could easily become, a deep longing, and you can’t just say no to that. You could have a whole nation wanting it. Paradoxically, if you prolonged life indefinitely, people could not be allowed to have children. By extending life in one fundamental way, you curtail it in another.

This possibility and its implications feel almost too big to talk about, especially in just a few short paragraphs. But there is astrology around it worth pointing out, and the issue itself needs flagging up as one that seems to be on its way.

I think like nuclear power and GM, these things cannot be stopped. The issue is how we deal with them, what attitude to take. If you just say you're anti, that's all very well, but it doesn't change anything; it doesn't add the complexity and ambivalence that the wider culture needs, where the debate is often quite black and white due to the influence of politicians and the media.

Leo understands that life is eternal, that it is a deep, ever renewing source to be tapped into. That is the Leo path: to become that source, but each in their own unique way. Death, therefore is not to be feared, because it is not the end of life. But that is the self-aware, the integrated Leo. The archetype of eternal life will always be at work in a Leo, however aware they are. In its more primitive form, the archetype is literalised and an egotistic desire for eternal life is attached to material existence. The debate about rejuvenation, which has yet to start, could hardly be starting under a more appropriate outer planet configuration – the Pluto in Leo generation encountering Pluto in Capricorn.

Meanwhile, research in separate studies in the UK and the US has revealed that the length of your telomeres, and therefore the speed at which you will age, depends on how educated you are. And that education needs to have taken place when young. The 'better' educated you are, the more slowly you will age.

As one of the Professors put it: "Education is a marker of social class that people acquire early in life, and our research suggests that it is long-term exposure to the conditions of lower status that promotes accelerated cellular ageing."

The studies corroborate well-established links between health and socio-economic status. But even if you acquire high status and education as you get older, it's the early conditioning that matters. Which suggests to me it's not just about lifestyle, it's also about how you think about yourself. Humans are pack animals, and we are deeply conditioned to think in terms of status, of pecking order. (Hence celebrity worship, which is nothing new.)
Our education system does not produce rounded people, but it does produce people who feel they are high status, and it seems to me that that feeling somehow translates into physical well-being. It's not fair and it's primitive, but it's there. It also seems to me a clear example of the mind-body connection that goes as far as influencing our DNA, but the researchers didn't go into that. With Pluto in Capricorn, we can expect plently more research into ageing (Capricorn) as well as its connection to social status, another Capricornian consideration.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Internet Writing and the Ownership of Ideas

I started wondering yesterday if Facebook was superseding my blog, because of the sheer amount of exchange of comments and links that you get on Facebook – including links to my own blogs. And the fact that my last 2 blogs were composed either of links or short, independent, paragraphs.

But no, my main blogging consists of longer pieces that would exceed by a long way Facebook’s limit. And then I thought there is a hierarchy (in a neutral sense) going on now in the publishing world, that goes in 2 directions. There is firstly a hierarchy of length and finish, at the top end of which you find books, which are highly edited and hopefully thought through at length, developing themes over hundreds of pages. Then you successively get magazine articles, blogs, facebooks and finally twitters, each of which become gradually shorter and less polished.

But then, in the other direction, you get a hierarchy of flow and exchange of information, at the top end of which is twitter, and at the bottom end of which are books, where you have to go to a great deal of trouble firstly to read and then perhaps to comment on an author’s work, and he/she may well not reply – or if they do, it may be a standardised letter. And to get the book in the first place, you have to find it and buy it. One of Britain’s national treasures, the anti-astrology Stephen Fry, is at both ends of this hierarchy, writing the odd book while maintaining a following of hundreds of thousands on twitter. Although if you have this sort of following, only a few of you can actually exchange information with the twitterer.

So you have this hierarchy - books, magazines, blogs, facebook and twitter - which going in one direction encourages depth of thought, and in the other encourages exchange and flow of information. In a way all this is obvious, and I’m sure it must have been said many times before. But I’m not going to search people out and credit them, partly because I thought of it myself, and partly because I don't see the need to do so.

Which brings me to another point, which is ownership of ideas. If someone directly quotes me, fair enough, credit me, though I won’t be heartbroken if you don’t. But if you take an idea from my blog and run with it, I really don’t mind if I am not credited with it – I would just be glad to see it out there, getting woven into astrocyberthought, unencumbered by a name tag. (NB I do, nevertheless, tend to credit other people for their ideas!)

Internet writing is not yet based much around money, it is hard to control, and I think that frees us from ownership of ideas. OK, you may one day put your blogs together into a book, but I don’t think it’s going to affect sales just because some of ‘your’ ideas have become well-known in an unattributed sort of way. Just make sure you write in an engaging style!

I think a lot of it is just egotism. Medieval religious artists used to not sign their names on their pictures. It was the work that mattered. And I think it’s the same with ideas. (There is something about publishing a book that can make some people feel they are real in a way they weren't previously, it makes them a 'name'.)

I had a daft situation arise a while ago, that got me thinking about this. I had interpreted some charts on my blog, and someone was miffed because they had apparently put on Facebook and Twitter the idea that these charts needed interpreting, and were now claiming ownership of that idea and wanted me to credit them. Note they had not actually interpreted these charts, they had just had the idea that someone else should do so, charts which were in the public domain anyway. It was a ridiculous situation.

Internet writing is transitory, and the ideas get passed around. Some of my readers weren’t very enthusiastic when I experimented with audio blogs, because what they wanted to do was read my pieces quickly and move on. That is also how I work on the internet. I pick up the basic ideas and move on. Longer pieces, such as you’d get in magazines or books, often also have just a few basic ideas, but expounded at length. That is why I resist giving talks or writing magazine articles.
Because it seems to me it often involves trying to find a way of saying something in 10 pages instead of 2, or finding a way of talking for an hour instead of 10 minutes. For the same reason I often find it hard to read astrology articles in magazines, or listen to astrology talks.

Significant ideas can be communicated quickly, and you will keep your audience. And the audience can interact. On the blog, we exchange comments. If I’m talking, I like to keep it brief and then see where the ‘audience’ takes it. Ownership of ideas starts to seem a bit daft in this sort of context. It’s for wannabe bigshots who take themselves far too seriously!

I don’t know where that leaves ownership of photos, but again, with so many people putting their pics on the net and passing them around, it’s hard to keep control of what is ‘yours’. I don't know who 'owns' the pictures I use on my blog, and I'm not sure what purpose it would serve to put a name under them, though I would do so if asked.

With both ideas and pictures, whatever the rights and wrongs of ownership, the fact is that we have a situation that is very hard to control. The net is a free-flowing universe in its own right, and I think the best thing is just to let go and be part of it. The free flow and exchange of information is its strength and getting too hung up on what is ‘yours’ just gets in the way of that. You are playing into the hands of those who want to over-control the net.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pluto in Aquarius

Pluto will move into Aquarius in 12 years time. Aquarius is associated with birds, and Pluto is associated with irrational fears. Saturn also has this association (Pluto took over some of the functions of Saturn.) Hitchcock’s film The Birds was released in March 1963 with Saturn in Aquarius square to Neptune (film).

Under Pluto in Aquarius we are likely to see a rise in cases of Anatidaephobia, which is defined as a pervasive, irrational fear that one is being watched by a duck. The anatidaephobic individual fears that no matter where they are or what they are doing, a duck watches.

Anatidaephobia is derived from the Greek word "anatidae", meaning ducks, geese or swans and "phobos" meaning fear. As with all phobias, the person coping with Anatidaephobia has experienced a real-life trauma. For the anatidaephobic individual, this trauma most likely occurred during childhood.

Perhaps the individual was intensely frightened by some species of water fowl. Geese and swans are relatively well known for their aggressive tendencies and perhaps the anatidaephobic person was actually bitten or flapped at. Of course, the Far Side comics did little to minimize the fear of being watched by a duck.

Sometimes that fear can become so intense as to completely stop a person's ability to maintain daily functioning. Unchecked, Anatidaephobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with the person's social life, their personal life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Anatidaephobia touches every aspect of a person's life.

Meanwhile, from Greg LeFever on Facebook we read that The White House has finally released a photo confirming the death of Osama bin Laden:

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Monday, May 02, 2011


The man who 2 years ago won the Nobel Peace Prize has now gained an equal amount of political capital through achieving the death in a military operation of America’s public enemy No 1, Osama bin Laden.

Let’s make no mistake about it, bin Laden was not a ‘bad’ man in the sense of being worse than any political leader who is protecting, through military means, the interests of his people. Obama protects the interests of America, and bin Laden protected the interests of the Arab world. It is very hard for many Americans to hear this, because 9/11 was such a wound to the American psyche, and America sees itself as a moral leader on the world stage.

In Buddhism there is a category of being known as gods who are not used to suffering, so when they do suffer, it is terrible for them, reality itself has been upturned. This was what 9/11 was for America.

The death of bin Laden is, for America, primarily revenge for 9/11. It is as simple as that, and many Americans will be rejoicing. Of course Barack Obama, like any US President, will make speeches about the justified death of a bad man. But it is sweet revenge. That is why there are crowds outside the White House chanting “USA! USA!”

The method of bin Laden’s death shows all too clearly why many in the Arab world have a big problem with America. It took place in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistan government, which has cravenly attempted to take some of the credit for the operation.

In cutting off a head of the Hydra in this manner, several more will replace it, as the fires of anti-Americanism are stoked in Pakistan. It is a matter of national dignity, and it is the Islamists who are standing up for it. If America wants an Islamic revolution in nuclear-armed Pakistan, they are doing exactly what they need to achieve it.

You can see it from both sides. It is not a moral issue, though it ought to be. It is a matter of instinct and survival. America is vitally dependent on Middle East oil, so it will do what it has to in order to ensure those oil sources are under its control. This infringes the sovereignty of the Arab world, and it fights back by whatever means, including flying passenger jets into buildings.

It is tempting to take the Arabs’ side because they are the underdogs, but what would they do in the same position? There would be a determined attempt by many to impose Sharia Law (as opposed to Coca-Cola) on the rest of the world.

This war is not Jupiter, Human Law, or righteousness, which is how both sides present it. It is a struggle for survival on both sides, which is Pluto.

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As the operation to kill bin Laden ended, Pluto rose over the Eastern horizon. Jupiter was also Angular, but hidden on the IC next to Mars in Aries. Jupiter, if you like, provides the justification for the war (Mars) at home (IC). But Pluto was the planet being given expression to (ASC). Pluto and the hidden Mars show the secrecy behind the operation.

The operation began at 22.30 and was over at about 23.15, so I estimate bin Laden died at 11pm. Any black ops readers care to comment?

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What about 9/11 and the death of bin Laden? Saturn is the planet that describes the reaping of consequences. The Asc of the 9/11 chart is at 14 Libra, exactly conjunct the US natal Saturn. Since last August, when the hunt for bin Laden began in earnest, Saturn has twice crossed the 9/11 Asc, and has one more crossing to go, in late August. So bin Laden/Al Qaeda have reaped the consequences for 9/11. 9/11 itself was a reaping of consequences for the US (as US Saturn conjunct 9/11 Asc shows), and there will be further consequences to reap for the killing of bin Laden. Given the movements of Saturn (not to speak of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction), there could be more major events before the end of August. From the point of view of Al Qaeda, there has to be major retaliation or it will be seen as a sign of weakness.

With both Progressed Mars and Saturn now moving backwards (for the first time) in the US chart, American power is on the wane, and the death of bin Laden is a temporary success in a war they cannot win.

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We don’t have a birth time for bin Laden, but the date of 10/3/57 seems to have some credibility. And it gives a mutual Mars connection with Barack Obama: Obama’s Mars at 22 Virgo opposes bin Laden’s Sun at 19 Pisces; and bin Laden’s Mars at 25 Taurus is opposite Obama’s MC at 29 Scorpio. With Bush, who failed to capture bin Laden, there was a mutual Uranus connection: Bush’s Uranus squared bin Laden’s Sun, and bin Laden’s Uranus conjoined Bush’s Asc.

Under Bush, bin Laden was an elusive figure and we weren’t even certain he was alive. Bush stoked the fires of collective anger against him, set him up as public enemy No 1. All this is Uranus. Whereas Obama isn’t one for creating scapegoats, and in a straight fight (Mars), he won.

At the same time, the US has Mars at 21 Gemini square to Neptune at 22 Virgo. Gemini is light and dark, and it is in the 7th House of foreign countries, so having a foreign enemy is almost necessary for the US, and there is glamour and delusion (Neptune) and dubious legality (9th House Neptune) around it. Obama’s Mars at 22 Virgo is at home in this national complex. So even though he doesn’t stoke the fires of enmity like Bush did, he buys into the badness of America’s enemies.

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