Monday, February 11, 2013


In March 2010, I wrote on my blog: "In 3-5 years time, with Pluto and Uranus starting to make some serious aspects to his natal Moon-Pluto, we may see a process leading to the Pope's resignation, the first to do so since 1415." Maybe, because of these transits, there is more to today's resignation than just old age? Or maybe it's just old age.

Below is the original post:


Friday, March 26, 2010

Popegate 2010-2015

So the Pope is at last under direct pressure over his role in the long-running cover-up over paedophile priests, many of whom were quietly moved to other parishes, where they could, and did, carry on as before. It’s about time the Pope came under scrutiny, because he was in the thick of the cover-up for many years when he was the previous Pope’s Enforcer, or ‘Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’, formerly known as the Holy Office, the historical Inquisition.

As I wrote 2 years ago, “Ratzinger (as he then was) also had authority over other matters including clerical sexual misconduct. In 2001 he issued his notorious “Crimen Sollicitationis”, which affirmed and clarified the Church’s right to keep secret its own investigations into clerical sexual misconduct. In other words, he legitimised the cover-up that was going on. Under normal circumstances, he would have been prosecuted for inciting people to withhold from the police information pertaining to serious crimes.”

Look at the fancy Latin name they gave to it, Crimen Sollicitationis. You just know there’s a scam going on.

The current case involves a paedophile priest at a school for deaf boys in Wisconsin. Complaints were made to the Vatican office in 1996, and it seems there was no response.

There are no doubt dozens of other similar cases in which Ratzinger was involved, but the trouble is that he was at the very top, and people at the top rarely take the rap. You just have to look at the Iraq torture cases involving the US army. It was the lowly soldiers who were charged and convicted, not the senior officers who presided over the culture.

So I have no doubt that Ratzinger was involved in the paedophile cover-up in a big way for many years. But I doubt that he will take the rap for it, at least in the near future. Even if the secular authorities went for him – and the Church seems to remain above the law in many ways - I think it would be very hard to prove anything. The most we can hope for now is a damaged reputation.

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What we see in his current transits is the tail end of a Uranus square to his MC and Mars, and Saturn conjunct his Moon, which rules his 5th House of Children. So his position could be under a certain amount of pressure and destabilising influence and attack for the rest of the year, but that will probably be that. For now.

His natal Moon in Libra is also square to natal Pluto. So it could get very heavy indeed a few years down the line when Pluto and Uranus begin to hard-aspect his natal Pluto and Moon. Pluto will also be culminating his long passage through Ratzinger’s 10th House of career and reputation. (He became Pope just as Pluto was entering his 10th House.)

The paedophile issue will run and run, because there is too much pain involved for it not to. It has been going on for years now and only seems to get bigger. And it is only just starting in Europe.

So for now and for the next year or two the Pope is looking like he’ll remain untouched, albeit under a certain amount of pressure. But the nature of the issue put together with the astrology suggests to me that the noose will gradually be tightening.

It looks to me a bit like Watergate, but set over a longer time period. For the next couple of years, the Pope will be able to blame others. But in 3-5 years time, with Pluto and Uranus starting to make some serious aspects to his natal Moon-Pluto, we may see a process leading to the Pope's resignation, the first to do so since 1415.

I can back this up with another major transit, Neptune square natal Saturn. The Pope’s Saturn is in Sag in the 9th House, a classic position for religious authority (the Dalai Llama also has this placement; the previous Pope had Pluto in the 9th). This authority could begin to diminish in 2011 when Neptune enters the sign square to Sag, Pisces, a process that could deepen until the exact square of 2014. Saturn is also our physical structure, and being in his early 80s, this transit could reflect an increasing frailty over the next 4 years.

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The Pope’s Solar Return for 2014-15, relocated to Rome, has Pluto conjunct MC opposite Jupiter conjunct IC, forming a Grand Cross with Mars and Uranus. There is also an eclipse along the ASC-DESC axis. This will surely be the year when he ceases to be Pope, and Pluto’s involvement in both the Solar Return and by transit suggests to me it will not simply be the gentle passing away of a much-loved pontiff.

The issue of men in religious positions, like any position of power, getting up to sexual shenanigans is an old story. Normally it is adult female pupils that the male teachers are sleeping with, and different cultures have different attitudes to this. Amongst Native Americans, for example, it is assumed that the teacher will be sleeping with his female pupil. In our culture it has recently become an absolute no-no, which I think has a lot to do with the influence of puritanical feminism and its fear of male sexuality. Timothy Leary was once asked if he'd slept with any of his students, and after pausing for a moment, replied that he couldn't think of any he hadn't slept with. The French sculptor Rodin slept with most of his young female models, to the extent that he felt obliged to let them down gently if he didn't feel so inclined. In rural Ireland, the Catholic priest usually had a female housekeeper, and it was understood that she also shared his bed. My view tends to be that if 2 adults decide to sleep together, it's not really my business, and if one of them happens to be a teacher and the other a pupil, well it can be messy, but so are a lot of relationships, and people often learn from that.

The above, though, is a bit beside the point when considering the Catholic Church, which has managed to twist and pervert to an unprecedented degree the sexual desires not just of its priesthood but also its lay congregation. A lot of the trouble seems to lie in the training of the priests, who from a young age are hidden away in boys-only seminaries and taught that sex is dirty. Consequently they suffer from arrested development, and their repressed sexuality finds unhealthy outlets. I don't think celibacy (which was originally introduced for economic reasons) is so much the problem, because hypocrisy is always an honourable way out.

Personally, though, I think they should do away with priestly celibacy - they can leave that for the monks and nuns - and not let a priest near a congregation unless he is married. They also need to look at the training that causes the problem in the first place, but the trouble is that you are up against religion, which often has a doctrinal, rather than pragmatic attitude to its practices and trainings. So far, the Church has shown no sign of common sense on this one.

I wonder also if priestly paedophilia may be a power issue. These priests are bummed up as spiritual and superior, but in reality they have been neutered, they are men in skirts, they are disempowered. Apart from the odd cowering parishioner, perhaps the only time these ghosts of men feel they have any real power is when they force themselves on children.

I watched the film 'Doubt' recently. It is set in a Roman Catholic School in the US, and involves a tussle between a male priest who is a teacher, and a nun who suspects him of being a paedophile. You never quite find out if he is, but it is also clear that he has enormously helped the boy with whom he is also suspected of sexual activity. The film gives the issue the moral complexity that you find in real life, rather than the simplistic black-and-white demonisation that you find in the tabloids.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Mythology of the Moon

The Moon is the same size as the Sun. At least, that is what our minds tell us. And sometimes she is a lot bigger. But, we have been told, our minds are wrong, and the Sun is a vast amount larger. So what does that say about the relative importance of the masculine and feminine principles in our culture? And how do we need to think if we want those principles to be balanced?

If we want to be balanced human beings, then we need to believe our senses above what we have been told. Has anyone actually seen the Sun as larger than the Moon? NO, they haven’t. There is a logical case for it, but that is just one perspective. It doesn’t make all the others wrong.

In early Greek mythology, the Sun was subordinate to the Moon. I don’t want to go in the other direction and undervalue the masculine principle, but this is interesting. Astrologically, the Moon is our emotional/instinctual/physical nature, and it is something of a given, it is stable, it is what it is. Up to a point. It can be relied on. Functioning well, it keeps us on-planet and healthy and possessed of a certain instinctive wisdom about living. Whereas the Sun is a more dynamic principle, it will take us somewhere, it is our future: but it also doesn’t know who it is, it keeps messing up, and in our early years at any rate it needs the protection of the Moon.

There are a number of goddesses associated with the Moon in Greek Mythology. I’ve been searching around for some illustrative stories, but I haven’t been able to find any. There is Selene, who kissed the youth Endymion while he was asleep, and he has been asleep ever since. And Acteon watched the chaste goddess of the hunt Artemis while she bathed naked. For this, she changed him into a stag and had him torn apart by his own hounds.

But neither of these particularly bring out the nature of the Moon. And then I thought why does it need to be Greek? After all, we are dealing with universals here, ‘archetypes’, that are found all over the world under different names. And it’s not like astrology is some pure tradition with solid roots in Greek mythology. No, I think it’s been cobbled together piecemeal, like any tradition, and all I’m doing is a bit more cobbling. The important thing here is to have stories that illustrate the nature of these astrological gods.

At root, astrology is a bunch of stories about gods that are then crystallised down to principles, and then get turned into stories again, but about the person you are doing a reading for. It’s not a ‘science’, it’s an art. The person has their own story about their life, and as the astrologer you tell them a story about themselves that resonates and clarifies their own story and they go wow! And the reason it works is that there are only so many stories, and they all have an archetypal, a universal, root, so your story is going to be in there somewhere, and the astrologer’s job is to find it and tell it compellingly. And as an astrologer how can you talk about the Moon or any other god(ess) compellingly unless you’ve read their biographies?
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So I’m going to tell you a story about the Moon and I want you to listen, because it’s a true story. It is called The Dead Moon, and it happened long ago in East Anglia, which is a flat, windy, marshy area in the East of England. It was before the marshes were drained for farmland and they went on for miles and at night it was easy to get lost in them. There were hidden pools and snags and creepers that would wrap round your legs and pull you down. And worst of all, if the Moon was not shining all the bogles and sprites and creatures from hell came out, and there were many stories of men returning home on a dark night after a drink too many who wandered into the marshland and were never seen again. Or, in some ways worse, who were found the next day out of their minds with terror, curled in a ball, crying for their mothers, and were never the same again.

Now the Moon heard about what happened when she was not shining. She had a tender heart, she cared about the people of the marsh, and she thought she had better see for herself what happened when she wasn’t shining. Maybe, she thought, it’s not as bad as people make out.

So one night, at the dark of the Moon, she went down to the swampland, disguised in a cloak and hood over her shining yellow hair. And she started to walk forward into the marsh, the only light being the stars and her feet where they poked out under her cloak.

And presently she started to hear things and sense things. A witch, a bogle. The dead, who’d been taken by the marshes, rose up with empty eyes, staring blindly around. Dead hands, covered in slime, reached out to her.

And then she slipped on a snag of peat, and it reached round and trapped her foot. She struggled against it, and it only made it worse. Presently her wrists were trapped as well and she could hardly move. And then she heard a terrified yelling from afar. A man had wandered into the marsh and was lost. Slimy dead hands were brushing against him, voices were whispering his hidden fears and secrets, witches would appear as beautiful women and beckon him, and he would stumble forward into a mud pool. Bogles would appear out of nowhere and scream terrifyingly in his ears.

The Moon’s instinct was to help this man. She forgot about her own peril and struggled again to be free. As she did so, her hood slipped over her head and her light shone brightly and warmly and all the terrors of the night fled. The man could now see firm ground and ran off, too terrified and relieved to inquire where the light had come from.

And then she remembered her own predicament and struggled again, and her hood fell forward over her head and her light went out. And the creatures of the night descended on her. They knew who she was, knew she was their old enemy who stopped them in their dreadful ways, and they decided to put an end to her once and for all. They plunged her into a deep pool and covered it with a large boulder and that was that, the Moon was dead.

Back in the villages people waited for the New Moon as they always did, for that would be when they were safe again at night. And they waited and waited and the New Moon never came. And the bogles and boggarts and things of the night grew ever more confident and came out of the marshes and knocked at people’s doors and broke the windows and stole the children.

And no-one knew what to do. They consulted the wise woman of the village, and she said let me think about it. In the meantime, put a pinch of salt, some straw and a button on your doorstep each night and that will keep the horrors out.

But still the Moon never came. One day, in the pub, the local men were drinking and talking about the Moon’s absence. And a stranger heard them and he was the very man who had been rescued by the Moon all those months earlier, and he realised it must have been the Moon, that soft light she gave out. So he told them what had happened and where it had happened.

So off they went to the wise woman again and she said you must rescue the Moon. You will have to go at night with stones in your mouths and hazel twigs in your hands and you mustn’t speak a word until she is recued. And they were afraid and said won’t the horrors get us first, and she said just do as I say. She is buried in a pool under a large boulder.

So they went at night, and the horrors were grabbing at them, but they kept going and finally they reached the place where the Moon was buried and together they levered the boulder. Out came a woman in a cloak and hood and they thought she must be dead, but no she threw back her hood and the Moon’s light shone as brightly and softly and radiantly as ever, and before they knew it she was up in the sky again, a Full Moon.

And she was shining into every nook and cranny in the marsh, and there was not a bogle or a boggart or creeping dead thing in sight. And since then the Moon has continued to shine, and particularly strongly, it is said, in the marshlands of East Anglia.

So I think this story says quite a lot about the nature of the Moon. She is tender-hearted, she cares about people, she protects them, she wants to make sure they are happy and well. She is the Mother archetype.

But I think she is also more than that. I don’t think it is stretching it too far to say that she is also a mediator with the Unconscious: she helps us deal with our demons. She is not trying to DO anything, she is just being her natural self, shining her gentle light. And that is the way I think we can best deal with our demons. Just stay conscious, stay with them, but don’t let them take over or undermine you, keep that gap between them and you.

The Moon is happy with who she is on a basic, natural, emotional level. The Sun is maybe not so, he wants to go places, he uses will, he has vision, he tries to change things – all these things have their place. But the inner realm, the inner depths, are different. They are not the Sun’s realm. You need to stop and be aware of your feelings and think well of yourself.

Mercury is also a mediator between conscious and unconscious: he will, for example, carry the dream messages from Neptune’s realm. But a healthy Moon gives us the ability to feel comfortable with this darker place, the ability to absorb whatever comes our way from it.

The Moon comes out at night, her strength is for when we turn inwards, when we are just with ourselves. You can look at the Moon and feel her warmth, her comfort, her encouragement when it’s all getting a bit much.

And I think she is neglected nowadays. People are under pressure to keep busy, not just to survive, but because being busy, working long hours, is seen as a validation, it makes people feel virtuous, good about themselves. And the prospect of just stopping can create anxiety, for we may have to feel those uncomfortable feelings.

But the Moon will look after us. That is her nature. When we are children, she is the mother. When we are adults, she is the mother on another level, helping us feel nourished, banishing unnecessary anxieties and fears, taking us down and into ourselves and supporting us on those difficult inner journeys.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Mythology of the Sun

I had my bluff called after my last post, in which I declared myself a polytheistic evolutionary astrologer: a reader showed it to someone at the San Diego astrological society, and they want me to give a talk in September on the theme of the planets as gods. I thought well I don’t know much more than the few paragraphs I’ve written in the post, and I get a bit reluctant around planning talks, but I’m going to agree. I like it once I get going. So thank you to Simone for acting as catalyst, and I think the next few blogs are going to be on this theme. Writing blogs gets me to research and think in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise do.

You can view the planets as principles, as a list of ideas, and that has its place. That seems to be what they were in traditional western astrology. The idea of the planets as archetypes, as presences, as gods, is more modern. But it works well for me. Life as an ongoing response to the claims made by these presences. You could see them as ‘yours’, as sub-personalities. But I prefer to see them as transpersonal, as belonging to the soul of the cosmos.

Hubris is when you think it is you that is in control, and Nemesis is the eventual result of that. You see it with political leaders.  They can start out tuned-in to the collective, being used by wider forces to effect change. But then they claim their position as their own in a narrowly personal way, they think their power is their own, rather than given to them. I think this happened to Margaret Thatcher. Love her or hate her (those seem to be the only 2 responses most Brits have!), there was a job that needed doing. Economic housekeeping. And, if you like, the collective was using her to do that job. And she did it. And then she should have gone. But she stayed on, increasingly dictatorial and intolerant, until she was ousted. Nemesis.

The more we see our lives as a response to the claims of wider forces - in astrology, to the planets as gods - the more our life goes somewhere, unfolds, the more it paradoxically becomes our own. And you could argue that if we see the planets merely as archetypes within the psyche, we are more likely, subtly or otherwise, to see them as belonging to us.

Astrology begins with the planets. You can do astrology with just the planets – their movements, and the angles between them. You can’t do this with the zodiac signs on their own. They have to have a planet in them to mean anything.

And the planets begin with the characters of the gods that function through them. And that brings us to the ancient Greek mythology around each of them, along with the principles that they embody. I think as astrologers we need to know something of the mythology behind each of the planets to get a proper feel for them. It is a kind of foundation.
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So a good place to start is the Sun, or Helius. In early Greek mythology he is, interestingly, subordinate to the Moon. Every day the Sun drives his four horse chariot across the heavens from his magnificent palace in the far East to his equally magnificent palace in the far West – from the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? And in the West he unbridles his horses and they graze on the Islands of the Blessed.

 And at night he sets sail with his chariot and horses on the Ocean Stream, which goes right round the world, in a golden ferry boat made for him by the lame smith Hephaestus. He sleeps soundly in a comfortable cabin. So that is his daily life. 

The main story we know about him is that his son Phaethon was once plaguing him to let him drive the chariot across the sky. Phaethon was a young man, and of course he wanted to drive his Dad’s car, particularly as it was a Lamborghini. And the one thing you don’t let young men do is drive sports cars, even if they can get the insurance. Phaethon wanted to show off to his sisters, look I can do what Dad does.

Helius was very reluctant, as the horses were wild, and if you didn’t handle them firmly would go out of control. But eventually he gave in. And he told his son that if he flew too high, the earth would freeze, and if he flew too low he would scorch the earth.

So off Phaethon went. But of course he couldn’t control the horses. They were going all over the show – far too high, and people on earth were shivering; far too low, and the crops were getting scorched. Zeus, angered, kill Phaethon with a thunderbolt, and he fell into the river Po, which is in northern Italy. His grieving sisters were changed into poplar trees on its banks, and weep amber tears.

So what does this tell us about the Sun? The Sun is the principle of individual consciousness, and it takes a lot of handling. Handled with the skill of many years practice, we can manage our lives in a balanced way. It seems to be about balance – neither too close, nor too far away, and life flourishes.

So we can’t expect to understand our Sun and the sign it is shaped by, and the house it naturally functions through, when we are young. At least, not very well. It takes the skill level of a master horseman, or maybe  a jet fighter pilot!

Are we driving the Sun or is it driving us? I think that is mid-life crisis stuff. Classically, we spend the years 20 to 40 (very roughly) unconsciously living the lives we were brought up to lead. Even if we try not to do that, that early conditioning still often operates in the way we go about things, the way we shape our goals. That is the Sun, the four horses, driving us.

And the mid-life crisis is the point at which we start to wake up. We realise that the old life was not our own. And we question. And we begin to steer the horses, to steer our own life.

And when we do, it is a splendid thing. Our life flourishes, and the lives of those around us are helped to flourish.

Helius sees everything, but he is not very observant. And he let his son loose on his horses before he was ready. He is subordinate to the Moon. And he is not one of the main gods like Zeus or Poseidon. So maybe that is saying something about the individualised consciousness which we astrologers take him to represent. Maybe it is a fragile thing, a new thing. Helius doesn't show much wisdom or observation. Our Sun, that sense of who we uniquely are, is easily lost. It needs to be developed over years. Even Helius, master horseman, and with a son who was say 16, still had a long way to go. Professional competence and being a parent aren't necessarily the same thing as having wisdom.

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