Thursday, October 27, 2011

Steve Jobs and the US Midlife Crisis

I don’t use an Apple computer, but there is one in our house. It looks good, it works well, but I prefer my regular Windows PC. I was a bit amazed at the outpouring of hero-worship when Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO, died a few weeks ago. I didn’t know what I thought, and I also knew that if I said anything critical, it would probably not go down well.

I remembered Obamania in 2008, when Barack Obama could do nothing wrong in the eyes of many otherwise intelligent, liberal leaning people all over the world. At the time I was told by one astrologer that my problem was having Saturn in Sagittarius, which meant that I was afraid of having faith! Actually, I think that Saturn in Sag has given me a long lesson in where to have faith and where not to have faith, and to always be critical.

Let’s be realistic about Steve Jobs: the man was on a mission to conquer the world with gadgets. And he was brilliant at it. This is understandable in a man in his 20s or 30s, but if he’s still doing it in his 50s, then somewhere he has got stuck. That sort of heroic mould belongs to young men (I won’t try and explore women’s psychology here, I wouldn’t know): they want to achieve something, they want to be recognised, they want to excel, and other people are probably going to get trampled on along the way. The actual value, in itself, of the thing they are achieving is secondary. It is the glamour of the thing, what it stands for, that matters. And how you go about achieving your end also tends to be of secondary value. Steve Jobs turned Apple into the USA’s biggest technology company, and he was also known for his anger, for humiliating and belittling people, and for putting his employees under a lot of pressure. Apple was known for not being a happy company. All this is classic young man warrior stuff, but in the body of a dying middle-aged man.
Ad Break: I offer webcam astrology readings (£60 full reading/£30 update) and written responses to specific questions (£30). Price negotiable if you’re hard up. Contact me on Dharmaruci71(at)

It has been well-said that in the first half of life, men are ruled by Mars, and in the second half by Venus (and vice-versa, it is said, for women.) Mars is what I have already described. Venus is where you go hang on, what is this doing to me and the people around me? And what is the value, in itself, of the product? This changeover is part of the mid-life passage, which by no means all men go through.

It passes some by with no discernible side-effects, like Rupert Murdoch, for example, still trying to conquer the world in his eighties and still in good health. Some, like Bill Gates, change their values away from money and raw power and want to give back to society, which he is doing in a big way. He does have a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, so will always want to do something big. But all the same, in trying to free the world from malaria – which is hard to fault – he seems to still be in thrall to the glamour (Neptune) and obligation (Saturn) of achievement, albeit in a less crude form. These things are not black and white.

And then there are others who receive the wake-up call but choose to ignore it. Like Steve Jobs. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. It can be too easy to attribute someone’s diseases to what you criticise them for, what you don’t like about them. Sometimes cancer is just cancer. And maybe that’s all it was.

Click to Enlarge

But he was diagnosed as Uranus was starting to conjoin his Sun, and Pluto and Saturn were squaring his Ascendant. With this sort of concurrent demand for transformation, there has to be a connection. Because of our scientific culture, we tend to think in terms of simple cause and effect: Steve Jobs’ refusal to re-examine his life ‘caused’ his pancreatic cancer. But the relationship is synchronous, in the same way that astrology works on synchronicity, which Jung called an ‘acausal connecting principle.’ Two events with a symbolic relationship.

Astrology can help show these synchronous relationships, where one event is saying something about the other event. Not everything is synchronous, discernment is required. In Jobs’ case, not only do we have the transits, with their psychological, even metaphysical demands to awaken and re-examine; we also have medical astrology, in which Pluto and Virgo are associated with the pancreas, and Pluto was squaring Jobs’ Virgo Ascendant in 2003. Moreover, Jobs’ Sun was in the 6th House, affirming a general connection between his health and his realisation of his inner goals.

I suspect that Jobs was ruled by his Moon and Mars in Aries and that his Piscean Sun, which was unaspected, was used by the Moon and Mars for their own ends. Who was Steve Jobs apart from the companies he founded and built? It's hard to find out much about the man apart from his business career, suggesting an over-identification with that. It is possible to be fully and authentically identified with a project, if you are, say, an artist, but conquering the world with electronic gadgets? A Pisces Sun will eventually need quite different conditions than these to continue to move on and unfold.

Click to Enlarge

Apple itself was an expression of Jobs’ warrior cast of mind. Incorporated on 1st April 1976, it has Sun at 11 Aries in a Cardinal t-square with Mars and Pluto. Jobs’ Moon is at 7 Aries. This t-square is exceptionally dynamic. Uranus conjunct North Node makes it a mould breaker (Obama has this aspect in Leo), while the sign of Scorpio suggests issues to learn around money and power.

If a planet is unaspected, it can be hard for it to find expression, for the rest of the personality can put it to one side. It is interesting that Jobs was adopted. I knew someone who was adopted who also had an an unaspected Sun, and his life seemed to be for him a series of ‘important’ events that proved he existed. He was lacking a foundation. The nature of Apple is interesting in this respect, because it is not built on a stable product that can be developed over time, like say Microsoft or Google are. It is built on relentless innovation, the next big new thing. Jobs was always racing. What did he think would happen if he slowed down or stopped?

Jobs' Moon was also unaspected. The personal planet that was most joined up was Mars in Aries, which aspects 5 other planets. So one could say that it was Mars more than any other planet that ruled his life, subsuming both the Sun and the Moon to its desires and demands. The Moon, being in Aries, fitted well, but the poor old Sun in Pisces didn't have much chance. Jobs spoke about his life in terms of holding fast to what you want and going for it, and this is very Martian. As was his desire to conquer, to be the best, and his often unsavoury way of dealing with people.

Jobs was an American hero with a cult following. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the American ability to get things done and to re-invent itself and to think big. But you need something behind that, something you can come back to that is actually more important. Jobs heroic status in the US says a lot about that culture, that it is still adolescent. The US Neptune and Jobs’ Ascendant are both at 22 Virgo. He made technology (Virgo) sexy (Neptune).

I think America is starting to enter its mid-life crisis, which is a good thing, and Jobs may come to symbolise the end of an age – a golden age for some, depending on your perspective. Natally, the US has Sagittarius Rising and Sun conjunct Jupiter. Hence the expansiveness and optimism, but also the reluctance to grow up, to come down to earth, outside of all that futurism, and find who you are.

Click to Enlarge

When you enter the mid-life passage, things often stop working so well. This is happening to the US. It’s not just in a recession, which has happened before. China is at its door economically, threatening its pre-eminence, and that is new. It has had its credit rating lowered for the first time. It can no longer control the Middle East, the source of its energy, in the way that it has become used to. The US seems powerless in the face of Iran's nuclear ambitions. And the US progressed Saturn is, for the first time retrograde and starting to pick up speed, just as the US has experienced a Saturn Return. With Saturn, there is pressure to grow up, to move on to the next stage of life.

I have no desire to see America brought low, and America will remain wealthy and powerful for a long time yet. But its confidence is taking a knock and that is a good thing. Failure, or the perception of it, can bring out the best in people. And for America, its best may cease to mean economic and military eminence. What you’re looking for in the mid-life crisis is an ability to value things and people in themselves. With its Venus-Jupiter-Sun stellium in Cancer, America needs to learn to value itself for what it is, its own values and culture, regardless of its place in the world. You could say this is true of any country or individual, but with that stellium in Cancer, the US has a particularly rich and expansive home culture that, with the natal square to Saturn, has been undervalued.

Sun square to Saturn is a particularly difficult aspect when it comes to creating depth. With Sun square Pluto, for example, you will really suffer, or you may do something abominable, if you continue to seek power outside of yourself. But Saturn acts as a barrier that you cannot see through, a voice that tells you that reality lies 'out there' in position and prestige, and which may always seem to you a self-evident truth. You do not have the suffering of Pluto to make you question it, just the self-doubt of Saturn that keeps telling you your value lies in your achievement. It’s painful, but maybe not painful enough.

So the US will always have this niggling doubt about itself that it has been so good at covering up. This aspect is classically related to fathers and their achievement, or lack of it. The US grew out of, and rebelled against a burgeoning British Empire. It had something big to measure up to, and it succeeded many times over. But that niggle is still there. Look at the fascination with British Royalty, which says so much. When I do a chart, I focus on the major challenges. And in the US chart, Sun square Saturn stands out. The real measure of the US is not its ability to achieve, for that is a reactive pattern expressive of the Sun-Saturn aspect. The real measure will be when it can no longer be top dog – for China, with 4 times the population, will eventually beat it hands down. Will the US find another way of feeling at ease with itself? This is not easy for an individual, let alone a collective.

Site Meter

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Undead and Plutonian Change

3000 people took to the streets of Brighton dressed as zombies this weekend. Some of the anti-capitalist protesters in Wall Street have also dressed as zombies. Vampires, another undead phenomenon, have also been very popular in recent years. It’s not all just for kids, either. Anyone out there a True Blood fan?

The world is undergoing a major Pluto transit as it squares up to Uranus in the early cardinal signs, hard aspecting significant points in the charts of all the major powers. We are collectively undergoing a death, with much resistance and hanging on to the old, and maybe the young people dressed as zombies are acting that out for us. The young often sense the future better than we do, and maybe that’s because they are the future.

As you get older you get more ‘realistic’ and you try to stay engaged with it all and there is wisdom in that. But there is also wisdom in the instinctive youthful rejection of the adult world. It’s often inarticulate, but that’s no reason to dismiss it. There’s something for us in it, and it’s also a psychological necessity for them. The Occupy protests, which are occurring under the Uranus-Pluto square, are strongly resonant of the student protests of the 60s, which occurred under a Uranus-Pluto conjunction.

They are not just resonant, they are in a way the same thing one step on, being part of the same Uranus-Pluto cycle. The conjunction sows the seed, while the call to action is much more urgent under the opening square. The conjunction is a sign of things to come; the youth of the 60s saw the deep flaws in the system, but the economy was still boomimg. Now, under the dynamic opening square, the system is reaching decadence, and the protests have a more immediate relevance.
Ad Break: I offer full webcam astrology readings (£60) and written responses to specific questions (£30). Price negotiable if you’re hard up. Contact me on Dharmaruci71(at)

Uranus and Pluto are often described as ‘evolutionary’ in their function. I think that is putting a human wish on them. They certainly bring about change, each in their own way, but it can be anything but ‘evolutionary’. The last Uranus-Pluto square of the early 30s resulted in the Great Depression and World War II. And then we carried on as before. Different empires, a few tweaks like the UN, but same basic values.

And it is the same with the present Uranus-Pluto square. Things are certainly under pressure to change in a Uranian-Plutonian manner. Deep structures are under threat, the balance of power is shifting eastwards, there is protest and revolution. But to say it is evolutionary suggests that what comes afterwards will be better, and who can judge that? It depends on your point of view. Or you can try saying that Pluto’s ‘real’ intent is evolutionary, it’s just that we ignore it so he becomes destructive or something. But Pluto is not human, and evolution is a human idea, a recent one at that.

We are seeing the cruel side of Uranus-Pluto at present. Col Gaddafi was shot on capture in Libya. Most Libyans are delighted. It’s understandable. The Libyan authority wanted him captured alive and put on trial. Then they would have shot him, a year or two down the line. Parade the monster in a cage for a while, like they do with Death Row in America, then kill him. I think the Chinese system is more humane: a prompt trial, and a prompt execution. And let the collective deal with its own shadow.

We are also seeing the Greek people treated cruelly. They are subject to inhuman austerity measures at the behest of the EU. They are rightly protesting, and the cost-cutting may just drive the economy further downwards. But who is being cruel? Is it Angela Merkel, Germany’s leader? She doesn’t strike me as the type. Is it the Greek Prime Minister? He just seems to be doing his best to save the country. By being a member of the Eurozone, Greece can’t simply default, declare itself bankrupt, which in a way was what Iceland did in letting its banks go to the wall, costing foreign investors huge sums.

It is a cruel situation, created by folly: the Greek government’s overspending in an era of cheap borrowing, and the EU’s creation of a currency without proper controls. You could say the humane thing for the EU to do would be to simply bail out Greece properly and write off enough debt for it to have a good chance, rather than just enough to survive until the next crisis. But looming in the background are exactly the same problems with Spain and Italy, but much bigger, much less affordable. So the EU is paralysed. And so is Greece: in order to default it would have to leave the Eurozone, and it would be on its own, a small indebted country in a world of empires, its trading relationships severely compromised. And behind it all is the dream of a United Europe under threat.

Click to Enlarge

The EU is in a classic Plutonian crisis. You cannot move, nothing will work, because the paradigm itself has to go. The founding vision for the EU was the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This chart has Sun at 4 Aries, Asc at 6 Libra and MC at 7 Cancer. Pluto has already hard-aspected all these points at least twice.

The way that Pluto change often occurs, especially when there is a lot of resistance (as in this case), is that the entity is destroyed from within by the crossings of Pluto, until all that is left is a shell that one day finds it no longer has the will to go on living. This is what has been happening to the vision of the EU in its present form. The astrology tells me that no-one really believes in it anymore, and that we are simply going through the motions. There is no underlying strength or will to continue. An important crisis meeting of all the leaders has been going on in Brussels this weekend, at the same time as 3000 people dressed as zombies marched through Brighton.

Site Meter

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Crazy Ones

Here's to Uranus, currently being empowered by Pluto:

Ad Break: I offer full webcam astrology readings (£60) and written responses to specific questions (£30). Price negotiable if you’re hard up. Contact me on Dharmaruci71(at)

Site Meter

Saturday, October 15, 2011

As Above, So Below; The Quantum Origins of Life

This picture has been doing the rounds on Facebook. It’s a great example of the idea of ‘As Above, So Below’, which is a symbolic truth rather than a literal truth. If you were to push the comparison between brain cells and galaxies, it would probably break down fairly quickly. All the same, the pictures are similar and the comparison has deep appeal.

Why? Speaking for myself, it makes me feel connected. It is a Neptunian experience. Why do our brains work like this? It is worth remembering that outer reality is a construct of our brains – space, time, left, right etc – and that includes the brain itself.

We forget this. We have created a dream, and the dream has become real. It is humanity’s enduring amnesia. Anything that reminds us of what we have forgotten resonates, it reminds us of home, of where we came from. And the universe, so impossibly large and far away, is at a deep level a construct of our minds. This picture reminds us of that, it reminds us that we are not just the brain cell, we are also the galaxy.

This is also why astrology works. The universe out there is just our minds writ large. If you can read it, it not only gives you self-knowledge, it gives you that sense of connection and homecoming. As with the brain/universe metaphor, astrology works on poetic/symbolic truth, so pushing the metaphors in the wrong sort of way, particularly with the literalising methods of science, will cause them to break down.

Strangely, literal truth and symbolic truth connect through astrology and other divination systems. Astrological truth can also be literal truth, such as ‘Given your work situation and the strength of the astrological factors affecting it, you will almost certainly have a new job in 6 months.’ But it doesn’t work the other way around: literal, observable truth doesn’t easily lead to psychological and metaphysical truths, not unless you’re sensitive with it, which is not part of the remit of the scientific method.

I bought an edition of the New Scientist recently, because it promised an article on the quantum origins of life. As usual, they were spinning an article out of a few maybes, and even then it was about biochemical processes using quantum effects, rather than on the origin of life. But the title was thought-provoking.

I view quantum theory as the point at which the scientific method starts to break down. Science is a model, and like a metaphor, it breaks down when pushed too far – like to the nano level and beyond. Or to the galactic level and beyond: look at the ‘dark energy’ fiasco. Quantum theory has required considerable ingenuity to make it work and even then, after 100 years, a coherent and proven model of that world has yet to fully emerge. The tinier the world that science explores, the more it explodes into multidimensionality and irrationality and indeterminacy.

So when I read about life having quantum origins, I thought that was about right. The ‘rules’ of consciousness are more similar to the rules of the quantum world than they are to the rules of everyday science. Perhaps you could also talk about the galactic origins of life, in that the ‘rules’ of the galaxy require it to consist of 96% unknowable, unobservable ‘dark’ energy, which is again rather like consciousness in the sense of its predominant ‘Unconscious’.
Ad Break: I offer full webcam astrology readings (£60) and written responses to specific questions (£30). Price negotiable if you’re hard up. Contact me on Dharmaruci71(at)

Incidentally, I think ideas about humanity having been seeded by aliens is part of the same poetry as the brain cell/universe picture. We live in a literalising age, and people easily make fools of themselves when they insist this poetic truth is a literal truth. But that doesn’t make it mere fancy. Poetic truth, mythological truth needs to be experienced as real, as more real than literal truth. Get your head round that one!

So the more science pushes to the extremely large and extremely small, the more it is pushing at boundaries, boundaries between consciousness and matter. The scientific method is based on a hard distinction between inner and outer, on there being a solid, real world ‘out there’ that can be measured. An elementary training in philosophical thinking would make it clear that this outlook is a case of ‘let’s suppose for a moment’. But the undeveloped, the uncivilised human mind wants simplicity and certainty, and mainstream science seems only too happy to provide this.

Particularly with the nano world, it has been clear for a century that we are no longer dealing with a solid, separate, ‘out there’ world. Not just because of its indeterminacy, but because it is known that at this level you can’t separate the observer from the observed. This insight has not been carried through to mainstream science, perhaps because the effect of the observer is not so obvious on an everyday level, and because of its subtlety.

But on the nano level, we are dealing with a place where the connection between matter and consciousness is clear, and where the rigid boundary between ‘subject’ and ‘object’ starts to break down. Quantum Reality has huge philosophical implications that have been explored by some authors, but even after a century have not reached the mainstream in a rigorous way.

They probably never will, if you look at the history of religion. Religions tend to have a mainstream that is sustained by simple, collectively-held certainties, and a mystical heretical fringe composed of individuals who have their own unique relationship with the truth. Science is no different. It has many of the characteristics of religion. One of this year’s Nobel Prize winners discovered a new form of crystal, and had to endure years of ridicule before his ideas were taken seriously. That’s religion for you.

Site Meter

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Mid-Life Crisis

We all know about the mid-life crisis that corresponds to Uranus opposite natal Uranus, occurring sometime between the late thirties and early forties. I’d noticed that this ‘crisis’ seems to go on longer than that, and also that all the outer planets reach challenging points in their cycles between our late thirties and mid-forties: Pluto square Pluto, Neptune square Neptune, Uranus opposite Uranus and Saturn opposite Saturn. Chuck in that over-egged asteroid Chiron, and you have the Chiron return at 50-51.

I think Uranus gets singled out because his effects are often dramatic, but I think it’s much more accurate astrologically to talk in terms of a mid-life passage that lasts for up to 9 years. Events usually occur in this period that can cause us to reconsider our values, what is important to us, and to make corresponding, and often major, changes. Often it means finding OUR values as opposed to the ones we grew up around. The choice always remains ours: you see some people, subject to distressing events that confound their expectations of life, coming out the other side as though nothing has happened.

This 9 year period could be seen as pivotal rather than as the whole change, because that search for a life that is authentically us, and not just the product of unexamined hopes, fears and compulsions, is a gradual process, often taking decades. Mine began in my early thirties, and twenty years later it is still going on. But that 9 year period, where all the outer planets hard-aspect their natal positions, was when I made a decisive change from one life to another, that put me out there on my own. It is always a solitary journey; you no longer have the implied affirmation of others. The source of authority moves firmly within.

The Jungian analyst James Hollis writes about this extended period of change in his book The Middle Passage. Here is an excerpt:

I call the period roughly from 12 to 40 the first adulthood. The young person who knows, deep down, that he or she lacks a clear sense of self can only try to act like the other big people. It is an understandable delusion that if one comports oneself as one’s parents have, or rebels against their example, one will thereby be an adult. If one holds a job, marries, becomes a parent and taxpayer, the confirmation of adulthood will surely follow. In fact, what has occurred is that the dependency of childhood has partly gone underground and has been projected onto the roles of adulthood. These roles are not unlike parallel tunnels. Out of the confusion of adolescence one walks through them with the assumption that they will confirm one’s identity, provide fulfilment and still the terrors of the unknown. The first adulthood, which may in fact extend throughout one’s life, is a provisional existence, lacking the depth and uniqueness which makes that person truly an individual.
Ad Break: I offer full webcam astrology readings (£60) and written responses to specific questions (£30). Price negotiable if you’re hard up. Contact me on Dharmaruci71(at)

These tunnels are of an indeterminate length. They endure for as long as the projected identity and dependency upon them still seems to work. It is next to impossible to tell a thirty year old who is productively working, married and expecting a second child that he or she is still in a form of extended childhood. The parent complexes and the authority of the roles offered by society have sufficient power to attract the projections of anyone still exploring life in the world. As suggested earlier, the Self, that mysterious process within each one of us which summons us to ourselves, often expresses itself through symptoms – loss of energy, depression, sudden fits of rage or over-consumption – but the power of the projections is such that one may keep the larger questions of the journey at bay.

How terrifying it is, then, when the projections wear off and the person can no longer avoid the insurgence of the Self. Then, one must confess to powerlessness, to loss of control. The ego never was in control but rather was driven by the energy of the parental and collective complexes, sustained by the power of the projections onto the roles offered by the culture to those who would be adults. As long as the roles have normative power, as long as the projections work, the individual has managed to forestall the appointment with the inherent Self.

The third phase of identity, the second adulthood, is launched when one’s projections have dissolved. The sense of betrayal, of failed expectations, the vacuum and loss of meaning which occur with this dissolution, creates the mid-life crisis. It is in this crisis, however, that one has the chance to become an individual – beyond the determinism of parents, parent complexes and cultural conditioning. Tragically, the regressive power of the psyche, with its reliance on authority, often keeps a person in thrall to these complexes and thereby freezes development.

In working with the elderly, each of whom has to face loss and anticipate death, there are clearly two categories. There are those for whom the life remaining is still a challenge, still worthy of the good fight, and those for whom life is full of bitterness, regret and fear. The former are invariably those who have gone through some earlier struggle, experienced the death of the first adulthood and accepted greater responsibility for their lives. They spend their last years living more consciously. Those who have avoided the first death are haunted by the second, afraid their lives have not been meaningful.

Site Meter