Monday, July 29, 2013

Prince George, the Royal Family and the British

‘Woman has Baby’ screamed the front page of Private Eye, England’s leading satirical magazine. We are all absolutely delighted, Americans included, that the 2nd in line to the British throne has produced a 3rd in line.

Prince George has Sun in Cancer opposite Moon in

Capricorn, both in an applying t-square to Saturn in Scorpio. And Scorpio Rising. A bit like his Mum, who has Sun in Capricorn opposite Moon in Cancer in a t-square with Saturn and Pluto, the ruler of Scorpio. What sort of guy will he be when he’s grown up? Certainly conservative (Saturn, Cancer, Capricorn), with a strong sense of family and tradition. And private. 

But that does not mean not public. You can feel comfortable in public while remaining a private person. And if he is anything like his mother, who has pole-vaulted herself to power (Sun in Cap square Saturn-Pluto), then he will be a force to be reckoned with.

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It’s hard to know how it will play out. Certainly with that square from the Sun and Moon to Saturn, he will feel the weight of expectation on him. And he will also feel that from within: a need to work hard and, most importantly, make his mark. But not in a rebellious, Uranian way.

We don’t know the strength of his personality. There seems to me to be a line within the royal family that doesn’t have much force. His great great grandfather George VI, his great Uncles Andrew and Edward, and even his father William. The chart does not necessarily tell you this (though they all have a strong Pisces/Neptune influence). William has Sun and Moon in Cancer in the 7th. So he will live his life through his wife and family, nothing wrong with that, but Kate seems to be the one with the force of personality.

So we know that George will be naturally conservative and traditional, what we can’t yet know is whether he will be dampened by the expectations placed on him, or whether he will use them to come out fighting, to make something of himself, like his grandfather Charles has done. He does not, however, have the Neptune/Pisces influence that the more retiring members of the family have, suggesting he may be a fighter. But, with Venus in Virgo opposite Neptune in Pisces, women will 'see him coming', and he could end up idealising a woman who doesn't merit it.To start with, at any rate.

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Many Britons and Americans do not want Charles to be king, they want William. That is understandable in a celebrity sense. William has youth on his side, he is Diana’s son, and he doesn’t have Charles’ odd mannerisms.

But Charles has substance, he has struggled with his natal Sun in Scorpio square Pluto, and overcome what seems to be the old-fashioned bullying of his father, who has Sun conjunct Mars in Gemini square to Saturn. I don’t always agree with Charles, particularly over architecture, but he is his own man.

William may surprise us, you never know with people, but with his Sun and Moon also being opposite Neptune, he may be happy to swim along, being whoever people want him to be.

George has a pronounced Mars – conjunct Jupiter and Mercury, opposite Pluto and forming a t-square with Uranus. His father and uncle both joined the army (as you do) and have Sun square Mars. George's Mars suggests that while he will want to stand up for his country (Mars in Cancer), he may take an unusual route (Uranus). Mars in Cancer is perfect for an eco-warrior, for example. Charles also has Mars conjunct Jupiter in hard aspect to Uranus, and he has had to fight (Mars) for his unorthodox (Uranus) beliefs (Jupiter). Charles has Mars in Sag, which works well, but George's is in Cancer, where Mars is in its Fall, so it could be tougher for him.

So we may be seeing something similar to Charles here: a conservative, even old-fashioned personality, but at the same time with some quite individual beliefs that he is prepared to fight for. The opposition from Mars to Pluto suggests this will be a struggle and an important growing point for George. With Pluto ruling/dispositing his Scorpio Asc and Saturn, it may be this Mars struggle that is the making of him. Pluto may cause him to feel that his very psychological survival depends on it.

Another possibility with Uranus square Mars is that George will be gay. Now that would be a problem for the Royal Family! And for George. And with Mars-Jupiter, promiscuous. 

George has the Sun sign of his father’s Sun and the Moon sign of his mother’s Sun, so there may be a fairly textbook sort of inheritance here. The Sun is more visible, and what we may see is William’s gentle, family based character. But within he will feel the inadequacy of the Moon in Capricorn, that has strong expectations from his mother.

It’s a sort of double-whammy. There are the expectations of the male line (Sun square Saturn) which are institutional, deeply embedded, they don’t come from William’s personality.

And then there are the expectations of the female line (Moon square Saturn), and they are more personal. Kate comes from a very ambitious family, and she is very ambitious herself. Her Dad owns a mail order business, he is an ordinary small businessman, but that is not enough for him. He has created a family coat of arms, and Kate’s sister was dating a Duke’s son before Kate was with William. Kate just happened to go to this obscure Scottish university that no English person ever goes to, at the same time that William did, and when William’s previous relationship finished, so, magically, did hers. Now that is hard and calculating, but by the same token I think she will make a good queen, a good public figure. But I wouldn’t want to live with her.

Louis, the King of the Swingers
So poor old George has all that to contend with in his Moon in Capricorn square to Saturn, and the trouble with being a royal is that you are already top of the tree, there is nowhere for Saturn to go! Unless you do what Charles has done. And he, to his credit, is ‘notorious’ for pestering government ministers with suggestions and ‘What are you going to do about that?’ sort of thing.

Now conservative as Cancer and Capricorn may be, they are also Cardinal signs, they like to take action, they like to initiate (unless, like William, they are in the 7th House opposite Neptune: he will live that side of himself through his wife.) They bring about change, but not in a revolutionary Aquarian way. In the case of Cancer and Capricorn, they work within the tradition and develop it.

And with William and George, we see both Sun and Moon in Cardinal signs, whereas Charles (Scorpio-Leo) and Elizabeth II (Taurus-Leo) both have Sun and Moon in fixed signs.

So this is a sea change from Fixed to Cardinal that we are seeing, as well as a move away from the classic royal sign of Leo (which is also Philip’s Moon.) This change, I think, was initiated by Cancerian Diana.

More than most, members of the royal family have a collective rather than an individual existence: the latter is discouraged. So we should expect to see currents in the collective more than usually strongly represented in their charts. And look at the UK Chart: Sun in Capricorn and Moon in Cancer. Same as Kate, other way round to George. That is the close involvement with the collective.

And Cardinal Signs have to take action, like Diana did, rather than just endure, like the fixed Queen and Charles do (Charles has created a niche, but still within an overall traditional status quo).

So William and George will be continuing the process of change begun by Diana, bringing the Royal Family into the modern age. William is doing this already by virtue of marrying a ‘commoner’, and it may continue to be through his wife, rather than off his own bat, that the change continues.

I’m not, incidentally, saying that all this is a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just what is happening, in the same way that I am not saying that the Royal Family itself is a good or a bad thing. It’s not really to my taste, but it seems basic to the human collective that they need someone on a pedestal, whether it is Stalin or Angelina Jolie or Prince William, and we could do worse than the rather dull British Royal Family. The British deal with it by putting them up there and then giving them no power, and the Americans have emulated this by doing the same, or nearly the same, with their Presidents.

Prince William was born on an eclipse, and Bernadette Brady has said that this eclipse was part of a series that arguably began about the time the English monarchy began, back in the Dark Ages. And this eclipse series is due to end around 2030, when William will probably be king.

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So the end of this eclipse series suggests some sort of ending for the British Monarchy. I don’t think society is moving in an egalitarian direction, I’m not sure societies ever have, it is natural to people to look up and to look down and to want to move up the scale. The Monarchy is very popular. So I think it will be some sort of reinvention of itself, a new treetop that suits the society we will have become, and George with his Cardinal Sun and Moon will, along with William, be taking the steps necessary for this to happen. And that may be the ‘achievement’ that his Saturn requires.

The re-invention could lie somewhere along the Cancer-Capricorn axis, because that is fundamental to the UK Chart and, now, to the Royal Family: astrologically, they are becoming closer to the country and its population. And this is a move begun by Diana. The initial refusal by the Queen to fly a flag at half-mast at Diana's death says it all.The Queen represented the distance from ordinary people, the inhumanity even, and Cancerian Diana, who had family at the centre of who she was, drew an unprecedented response from the British people.

As Ian Hislop (editor of Private Eye) has pointed out, England is losing its stiff upper lip (a consequence of the needs of Empire and fear of the mob emotions of the French Revolution) and is returning to original over-emotional character (for which it was known abroad).

And the Royal Family is being carried along in this current. It is ironic that they are known as the Royal Family, for in a way that is exactly what they are not. The Cancer-Capricorn axis sets the needs for nurture and privacy and family against the needs of the world, and from the moment they are born, the senior royals have a strong and overwhelming place in the world: they are Capricorn from the word go, and this inhibits the development of Cancer, which is the main function of early life.

And this is also part of our national character, in that the ruling classes are sent off to boarding schools aged 8, away from their families, in order to prepare them for the world. It's a tribal thing. This is premature, and interrupts their emotional development and ability to bond with other people.

The boarding school system is thriving, and there seems to be a lot more pressure on the kids to perform than there was in my day. At the same time, you look at old Etonian David Cameron, the guy is clearly into his wife and family, and plans to send his kids to state schools. So I think that also says quite a lot about how we are changing.

Cancer-Capricorn is the basic axis of Prince George's chart, showing a need for him to balance the needs of family with the needs of the world, and the square to Saturn showing that this will be a struggle, a growing point if you life, for both principles need to be honoured.

So we see this shift in the astrology of the Royal Family, beginning with Diana and running through William, Kate and George, that constitutes a re-balancing of Cancer-Capricorn, that will allow them to be much more like an ordinary family (Kate is a 'commoner'). This shift, you could say, began with Princess Anne, who is of the Uranus in Cancer generation (progressive ideas about family), and whose children do not have titles: who ever hears of Peter Phillips, her son?

Britain is still dealing with its legacy of Empire and what that did to us. That is why we still don't know quite what our place in the world is, and why to some extent we still idealise, through the boarding school system, the breaking of young children in order to produce tough guys to run the country. In many (though not all) ways that seems to be softening, we are becoming more feelingful, along with the Royal Family. I think that is why Margaret Thatcher was so loved and hated, because she was so Capricorn (Saturn Rising in Scorpio) at the expense of Cancer. The fact that she was so hated says a lot about the strength of the Cancer element within the nation. 

Prince George, with his Capricorn-Cancer axis, and the struggles he will have to go through because of the squares to Saturn, will mirror the kind of change that is slowly occurring in the country as a whole.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Geography of the Underworld Part 1

In 2006 Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet. I wrote then that it said something about our relation to the Underworld that we would do such a thing. I am, however, now feeling more forgiving of the astronomers, because in the last few weeks they have named 2 more Moons of Pluto on the principle that the names, like the previous 3, had to be mythologically related to Pluto. So now there are 5 known Moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx.

So while on the one hand we seem to have given the Underworld less significance, on the other hand we are now giving it more complexity, deliberately so. It feels like it is being honoured.

There was an online poll for the new names called Pluto Rocks!, and the winning submission was Vulcan, sponsored by William Shattner (Star Trek). It was, however, rejected by the committee on the grounds of not being related to the mythology of Pluto. And, of course, a Vulcan in Star Trek mythology is a purely logical being, and the whole point about Pluto is that he disrupts our idealisation of reason, which can make us think we are masters of the universe; he insists that our loyalty should be to life itself rather than to our theories about it. So the astronomers, whether they knew it or not, made a powerful archetypal statement.

Shortly after Pluto was demoted we experienced the biggest economic crash any of us remember – by some measures, like over-borrowing by banks and the time taken for the economy to start to recover, it has been bigger than the thirties. Pluto as a god of riches is associated with the economy. (Uranus in hard aspect to Pluto usually creates recessions.) After 5 years of this deep recession we now seem to be honouring the underworld again, that place that brings us down to earth by destroying hubris, and the western economy seems at last to be starting to recover. 

This connection of the demotion of Pluto to the Great Recession may seem whimsical, stretching it, but I’d say as an astrologer that it is a matter of how seriously we take these powers. For a Greek Tragedian, it might seem a simple matter of cause and effect.

So what is this Underworld that Pluto rules? For the ancient Greeks, it was the place you went to after you died. For us astrologers, it is a psychological place or state. 

Hades is the Greek for Pluto, as well as the name for the Underworld itself, Pluto’s realm: so I shall be using the terms Hades, Pluto and the Underworld somewhat interchangeably.

For the ancient Greeks, the Underworld was literally out there, invisible to us living humans, and located at the ends of the oceans or beneath the depths of the earth. I suspect it wasn’t a belief held as rigidly, say, as the medieval Christian heaven and hell. Or as rigidly, say, as a modern who might say it is ‘only’ a psychological state and of course the underworld doesn’t exist ‘out there’.

I think the sense of ‘in here’ and ‘out there’ is a construct of the brain, and therefore not to be treated as a rigid distinction. When I die, I want a coin put in my mouth to pay the ferryman (Charon) to carry me across the Styx – or is it the Acheron - into Hades. As an astrologer, it makes perfect sense for me to feel like that, given that the Greek Lord of the Underworld is a major part of my cosmology.

For me, the Underworld is both within and without, in the same way that the gods/planets are both. I think that an ancient Greek would have experienced the gods with their demands as ‘out there’, while not at the same time experiencing any loss of personal freedom and choice. (Unlike the Christian experience at its worst with its rigid god.) It is like Jung said, that free will is the freedom to do what I have to do. That sums it up nicely for a modern.

When the planet known as Pluto was discovered and named after the Greek Lord of the Underworld – or, strictly speaking, the Roman god - I think that legitimised for astrologers the internalisation of the Underworld. It meant we could use the Underworld to describe that place we go to when we undergo a psychological death. And that would include anything that threatens the security of the personality we have built up, such as taboo areas. Things we feel we are not ‘allowed’ to be.

In the same way that the Underworld is deep below the earth, so is our personal Underworld deep within – and it is not just personal, it is collective. The Underworld is what we encounter when it is time to change, and it is life itself that brings that about. It is fundamental to life that it keeps changing, unfolding, moving on to the next stage. We see that in the natural world, and it is the same for human consciousness. When we resist it, illness often results.
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So another word for the Underworld, in a way, is life. The life force deep within that is beyond our personal planning and control, and that does not belong to us, we belong to it, and it is in this sense that the Underworld is collective.

I think that the discovery of Pluto has changed the metaphysics of astrology, which is itself a part of the Western Esoteric Tradition that can be traced back to the Hellenistic culture of late antiquity, with its mixture of Greek philosophy and indigenous religious traditions. Here we find Platonism, which “focused on the attainment of a salvational gnosis (‘knowledge’) by which the human soul could be liberated from its material entanglement and regain its unity with the divine Mind.” (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed by Wouter J. Hanegraaff. Actually, what's starting to look like a better read is The Elixir and the Stone by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. It's a history of the western magical tradition, learned yet readable.)

There you have it: ‘liberation from material entanglement.’ The worldview implied by Pluto is the opposite of this. Pluto takes us deep within to a place where the body and all aspects of the psyche are sacred. Where the psyche and the body are both the expression of the same life-force, which is the same force that powers the universe.

Our task is not to free ourselves from material entanglement – with all the renunciation and suppression of desire that go with that – but to honour the life that flows through us and to experience the beauty and the sweetness of life. The Underworld is not just a dark place: it contains, for example, the Elysian fields, but more on that later.

Pluto and his Underworld are there to return us, after 1000 years of a relegation, even demonization, of the body and materiality, whether through mainstream or esoteric religion, to a more balanced, natural humanity.

Indigenous spirituality doesn’t have this renunciative flavour at all, wherever you look. And that says to me that this deeper experience of life through the body and nature is what is natural to people, and that the ideal of freedom from material entanglement is a corruption.

And this is exactly where Pluto takes us. The Underworld is a place of authenticity, of wholeness, where we are asked to acknowledge and honour the whole of ourselves. Maybe collectively as astrologers we have not asked ourselves rigorously enough what our philosophy is. Are we fully a part of the western esoteric tradition, or do we need to reject a central plank of that tradition? In a way Pluto makes astrology ‘shamanic’: a religion of ‘this world’ inhabited by spirits, by gods such as Pluto and Mercury for whom we are the mediators.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Outer Planets, Nietzsche and the Madness of Groups

Last week’s blog turned into a 5000 word article on the Underworld, so I thought I’d see if I could first publish it elsewhere, a mag or something.

Meanwhile, Christina has a piece which begins with a quote from Nietzsche, one version of it being: “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” 

 I found another related one by Nietzsche: "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

So I wondered about describing crowd behaviour, or the behaviour of a nation, astrologically. I think what happens in a crowd is just an extreme form of what is going on all the time. We believe things, we are in the grip of dreams, that the group around us hold. It seems like Neptune.

You see it with the nationalisms of different countries. People deeply in the grip of certain beliefs, which cannot usually be justified, about their nation and about themselves as members of that nation. It is part of our identity. Americans, Israelis, Russians, Chinese, Germans, British, Japanese – all in the grip of something particular to their nation. And you see it as soon as one country is threatened or affronted by another, a crowd reflex that is an instant siding with one’s own nation right or wrong. And this is a different thing from loyalty, or patriotism, which is a thoughtful appreciation of what your country has given you and the things it is good at, and no illusions about your country’s shortcomings either. Reflective vs unreflective Cancer.

So Nietzsche would see nationalism as collective madness, patriotism as individual and sane.

I’m not saying that all aspects of a group are mad all the time, some good things sometimes happen through collective action. But I think there is always some madness there, even if it’s just a degree of demonization of other groups. It’s very noticeable in protest movements, whether against the excesses and injustices of capitalism, environmental degradation, GM foods, nuclear power etc: the protests are necessary, but they get very mixed up with anti-authority rebels-seeking-a-cause type stuff, people who find it hard to imagine that there exist bankers and fund managers who are reasonable open-minded people doing a job that is necessary and useful. Or GM technicians who aren't Monsanto-monsters, creating plants that may be of help to the world. And that polarisation is self-defeating, cos once you've demonised the opposition, they ain't going to listen to you cos they'll rightly think you're a nutter.

As Nietzsche said: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” 

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In an astrological chart, there are the personal planets, which are the Sun through to Saturn, and the collective planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. When you get a group, there is less room for the personal planets which separate us and make us distinct, because they are all bumping up against each other. It is much easier for that which we have in common, the collective planets, to take over. And it has its own momentum which is hard for an individual to resist. 

If we had been born in Germany early last century, how many of us would not have felt thrilled and uplifted by the Nuremberg rallies? I know I would have done, they were so overwhelming (and terrifying) if you watch them on film, which I highly recommend (‘The Triumph of the Will’). I would also have had a side of me going hang on a minute, well as I grew older I would have, but as a teenager? Who knows. And academics, supposedly thoughtful people, were just as vulnerable to this human tide, this tsunami.

We all have that bit of us that longs (Neptune) to join the collective in this sort of way, to lose ourselves in that warm sense of belonging and certainty, that connection with the old myths (‘The Chosen Race’) that hold the group together and make it special.

I’m going to assert that if you think you don’t have that side, if you think as a German you wouldn't have felt to some extent the allure of Nazi Germany, then you are probably kidding yourself, you would have been among the first to have been swept up in it. It is only by recognising that collective animal within that we begin to have a choice not to act on it.

Of course these days we make Hitler and Nazi Germany entirely ‘Other’, it stands for exactly what we think we are not. That, at any rate, is the respectable group attitude, and in so doing we remain just as vulnerable to those collective forces. The crowd thinks in simple, black and white terms.

The outer planets describe different aspects of this crowd consciousness. Pluto is the survival instinct, that aggressive reflex when another group threatens us, and the ability to throw away our own life in its service. On this level, the survival of the individual does not matter, all that matters is the survival of the group. Pluto also gives us the ability to surrender our life for another on an individual level, but that is different, that is something that
rightly awes us. You see this collective throwing away of life in war, where soldiers on both sides are willingly brainwashed into thinking that right lies solely on their side, the enemy are the bad guys and that makes it easier to kill. Of course within that you get individual acts of self-sacrifice by soldiers who still also think the enemy are the bad guys, so it gets slightly complicated.

Pluto is also the group secret, that which you must not name.  A group casts a shadow, and the more rigid a group is, the more highly it thinks of itself, the stronger the shadow, the more they need to reject certain others as ‘not us’. You get this in 'spiritual’ groups a lot, as well as in nations. And the secret is some attribute of the group which they would rather not admit to and which is seen as belonging outside the group. A simple example would be a marriage within a wealthy family. Money is nearly always a factor here, the marriage would not take place without the presence of large amounts of money and/ or social standing. Does anyone really think Kate would have married William if he hadn't been a prince? Of course she wouldn't have. I’m not damning her, it’s normal behaviour and always has been. But you are not supposed to say it. It’s other people who marry for money or position, not Capricorn Kate. (That’s why royal marriages are fairy tale marriages, because in them it’s all right to marry someone just because they are a prince/ess.)

On a ‘spiritual’ Facebook group recently I naively pointed out that dividing members into those who could post anything and those who couldn't was creating inhibition, and maybe that distinction should be removed. Nobody said anything, the silence was deafening, like I’d said something I shouldn't.  I'd thought I was being helpful. Actually I was pointing out something at the heart of the way they are, a division into 2 classes of people, and the higher class want it to remain like that, it's their secret.

Nietzsche: “Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed.” 

Neptune on this group level best describes the specific aspect of insanity that Nietzsche was referring to. Neptune is the ocean, he is the breaking down of the barriers of ego-consciousness (which we need for day to day living), and so he is the dissolution of the thinking individual in the group dream. And it’s that recognition that you are in someone else’s dream that is not your own that is crucial to the development of consciousness. Of course, none of us thinks we are, we all think we are our own person.

Nietzsche with his notion of the Superman was ironically taken up by the Nazis with their notion of the Master Race. But Nietzsche’s Ubermensch or Overman was precisely the person who has broken free of the group, rather than the sub-individual subsumed into the group dream that characterises a member of the ‘Master Race’.

Uranus is the creative spark, he is active at times of change. When the herd in its madness needs to go from one insanity to another, Uranus is the catalyst. (Like I said earlier, the group is not all mad all of the time, but I think there is always some madness there.) Uranus is the planet of democracy, and in democratic government you see this continual division/split into different parties, with politicians arguing a position for party reasons, rather than because sanity requires it. 

And if you have stepped outside the collective dream, the group can see you as the mad one. Nietzsche again: “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Neptune-Pluto and the Dreamtime

A few weeks ago I was told in a dream that we are continually imagining the world into being. Sounds about right to me. It’s Neptune.

On an everyday level, it’s like when you clearly intend something and it happens. It doesn’t always happen, but it still does happen more than you’d think, and you can feel the connection with your intention when it does. I think it works when the intention comes through us, is deeply felt, rather than being thought up. It gets called the Law of Attraction these days. But I prefer to think in terms of dreaming or imagining. Or even praying.

And it’s the same on a metaphysical level. Life (Pluto) is continually intending the universe (Neptune). That’s why science has got stuck in its progress at the quantum and galactic levels – the ‘irrationality’ of the former, and the unknowability, 96% dark energy – of the latter. It has come up against the limits of treating something like it’s separate and ‘out there’ when it’s not: the universe we see is profoundly connected to the human mind, on a level at which we find it hard to be aware.

So the basic power in the Universe is Pluto. He is the power behind both life and matter. He is that basic power in us that takes over when we just need to survive. He is what makes us keep wanting to live – and if in some ways when you’re honest with yourself, and there’s a feeling of I’m not sure I want to be around, then there is a Pluto challenge, that is where you can find your soul (Neptune). You don’t fight the feeling, you go into it and see what it’s saying.

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And this basic Pluto power intends, dreams the Universe and it happens, perfectly and immediately. Neptune is both the intention and what is dreamed into being, and they are the same thing. This is really how Evolution happens. It clearly does happen, look at all those DNA connections and physical similarities. But forget about natural selection and mutations and competition that takes billions of years. It’s not that. Life forms dream themselves into being, continually, and new forms can arise very quickly because this dreaming process is very powerful. But it is life itself doing the dreaming, so there is a wholeness and beauty to it, what science might call a balanced ecosystem. 

The closest scientific mechanism to this dreaming is the discredited Lamarckism, the inheritance of acquired characteristics, where you need eg a longer neck, and you could say it is dreamed into being collectively for the next generation.

Perhaps our job as humans is to make that dreaming conscious, which is why we are hit and miss at it, and why we even forget about it. It’s a remembering of how the whole show works, and in doing so we make it conscious. In one form or another, it seems to be present in all indigenous traditions.

But it is not something willed, or that we can control very much. When I hear people like Melinda Gates saying their children can be whatever they want to be, I think no it’s not like that, there’s all sorts of hidden pressure in there to become something, it’s not the freedom she is presenting it as: ‘The American Dream.’

It is more like the universe dreams us, and our job is to become conscious of that and live it. It is a deep thing, it connects us with what is most fundamental and powerful in life. Another way of saying it is that the astrological chart shows the way archetypal forces, the gods, are each and together making claims on us; the chart is a map of that dreaming.

And I think we can spend most of our life as a preparation for that sort of deep dreaming connection – if indeed life has that in store for us. It’s not our decision. In ‘The Shaman’s Body’ Arnold Mindell (founder of Process Work) says: “Parapsychological and alternative medical powers appear regularly as part of the development of the shaman but are… considered secondary to the overall development of the fluid, or flexible seer, whose goal is to live on a spiritual path.”

Exactly (though I don’t go much with the word ‘spiritual’). This is what is not understood very well in our culture. You so often see it, people who have a bit of a feeling for homeopathy or shiatsu or astrology or being a medium or a shamanic healer or a psychotherapist and they go off and do a few years training and get a certificate and they are off out there practising it and for so many of them it becomes their identity (Mindell again: ”None of the shamans I have met identifies himself as such the whole day long. The word shaman.. refers to one who works only part-time as a spiritual guide and healer”.)

And it becomes their identity because they have not had the decades, yes decades, of learning not to have an identity in that ordinary way. Where life keeps taking it away from you until you get the point. I’m always banging on about this when people are having major transits and can’t carry on as normal and feel bad or inadequate, and I say this is a major part of the transformation, you are having to live outside of the conventional tags that give you an identity, and conventional people may indeed think less of you for that, and it’s not easy, but learning to live with that really deepens you and gives you insight.

Professionalism is the curse of the modern-day healer. If you’re a professional you’re supposed to know the answers and have the trainings and certificates and straight teeth and brush your hair and have a well-designed web page and all the rest of it, and if you’re an accountant then that’s fine and necessary. But the best healer may appear a shambling mess who turns up late and who is happy to say I don’t know. Or maybe they appear quite ‘professional’, but that is a disguise if they are good. Professionalism is about having a respectable identity, it’s not about being a ‘fluid seer.’ I’d go so far as to say that such people, who may be in the majority, don’t do much real good, in fact may do more harm than good. Most psychotherapists I have met don’t have much natural insight into people, though they have plenty of words and professional empathy, and their training is no substitute for that insight. (The archetypal psychologist James Hillman was of the opinion that psychotherapy has done more harm than good.) But it doesn’t have to be like that. (This is the point at which I lose several subscribers!)

But back to where I started: my dream where I was told that we are continually imagining the world into being. A scientific ‘proof’ would be to consider the brain, and how much we take for granted in a deep structural sense – space and time, up and down, me, the world ‘out there’, left and right, up and down – all are a creation of our brains. Even the brain itself is such a creation. The brain is continually manufacturing, or dreaming our reality.

And I think this is a basis for a whole philosophy, a whole way of looking at the world. And it has a fluidity built into it. And the astrological chart is a way of contemplating the universe’s dream of you at the moment you were born.

On a collective level, there is also a dream. And it tends to possess the collective, like a dream will possess the unconscious individual. Again, you can probably see it in a national chart. In the UK, with our conflicting dreams of equality and hierarchy/royalty, you see it in Sun in Capricorn conj IC, square to Uranus Rising in Libra: the Angularity makes the dream that much more powerful.

A collective dream can change, and that is where individuals come in, with a powerful dream working through them that engages their collective. Like Margaret Thatcher, with her Saturn Rising in Scorpio (purging 'dead wood' in an uncaring way) conjoining the UK 2nd House (economy) Neptune (she attracted worship and hatred in equal measure).

But though that connection was powerful, and she could fight to the death, I think that collective dreams, and changing them, have their limitations. For we are not dealing with dreaming that is particularly conscious by individuals who have, through long preparation, stepped out of an ordinary way of defining themselves, into something much more fluid, the kind of fluidity and creativity (Uranus) that belongs to Neptune and the Dreamtime and where, in a sense, all things are possible.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Tale of Two Whistleblowers: Edward Snowden and Julian Assange

Last week I noticed that Eric Francis had written a blog on Edward Snowden, his birth time having recently come to light. I thought well I’d like to write something, but I’m not going to look at Eric’s analysis beforehand. So here goes.

My first impulse is to compare him to that other world-famous whistleblower, Julian Assange. I think I want a term other than whistleblower, because it implies that Snowden and Assange are heroes speaking out against wrongdoing, and I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

You can imagine the essay title: “Are there any circumstances under which it is right to reveal your country’s secrets?” Discuss in 900-1000 words. On my Facebook it is usually less nuanced: Snowden is a hero. No-one calls him a traitor.

Snowden revealed the fact that the US government is engaged in mass surveillance to a much greater degree than was known about. And that he didn’t want to live in such a country, which was why he revealed the info. He didn’t reveal the content of such surveillance.

This was very different to Julian Assange, an Australian who revealed American secrets en masse, and it was all content. What US ambassadors really thought of such and such a leader, details around agents in Afghanistan etc. And when confronted with the possible human consequences of his leaks, newspaper editors were shocked by Assange's coldness. The diplomatic cables: think about it, we may not like the US or Saudi Arabian governments or whatever, but peace is a fragile thing, and they are the governments we have, and to deliberately undermine the basis of communication between those countries seems to me very wrong. And it wasn’t even his own country, what business did he have doing that?

Assange has Sun in Cancer square to Uranus and trine to Moon in Scorpio. He is a cold, intellectual guy, but the wateriness of the chart suggests he is very emotionally driven and probably not very conscious of that either: his ideas about authority and the need to subvert it are rationalisations of a load of unresolved childhood stuff, I suspect. Like the fact that he lived as a child in a cult for a while where there were secrets. Moon in Scorpio. And now he reveals those secrets that the adults have. It may be as simple and as childish as that.


This split from emotion is classic where Uranus is involved, where we see it in a square to the Sun. It gives genuine idealism, that can also be inhuman in its application.

As you can see, I have a definite view on Julian Assange!

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With Edward Snowden, it is less clear cut. Like Assange, he has Moon in Scorpio, so maybe he had childhood experiences around secrets that fuel him – but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.


But he is also very airy: Sun and Asc in Gemini. Assange has personal Air – Mars and Venus – but his basic nature is Water.

The birth time that Assange gives for himself is 3pm, which gives him Sagittarius Rising. If we go with that, then we have both Assange’s and Snowden’s personal expression – Asc – on what I call the Axis of Truth: Gemini-Sag. Sag tends to be more messianic than Gemini. But that is relative, for both have a Jupiter involvement with their Ascendants. Assange has Neptune-Jupiter conjunct Sag Asc, and Sun square Uranus; Snowden has Sun opposite Neptune and Asc opposite Uranus-Jupiter.

So in both cases not only do we see this ‘Axis of Truth’ but also Uranus – idealism, subversion of authority, breaking the rules; Jupiter gives a religious mission; and Neptune, which is what? We’ll come to that.

Not only is Snowden a double Gemini, but Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, is on his Asc opposite Uranus. I wouldn’t have given him a job in intelligence if I’d seen that Uranus, because Uranus finds it very hard to stay within the accepted rules. I might have given him a job as an agent working abroad, needing to find ingenious methods of spying. But even then, you’d never be quite sure if he was a double or triple agent, due to all that Gemini.

With someone like this, with all that Gemini talent, they can do an organisation a lot of good and then do it a lot of harm in a tricksy way, almost as if they are balancing light and dark, the 2 poles of Gemini.

And then Moon in Scorpio. Gemini-Scorpio is an even more tricksy combination. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, also has Sun in Gemini and Moon in Scorpio. His Sun is conjunct Venus, and he is enormously popular, with the right joke for every occasion, he clowns around. And he has this darker side which keeps peeping through: Gemini has that anyway, but bring in Scorpio and you have it in spades. There are a string of incidents involving lying and extra-marital affairs and even one in which he appears to condone a violent act. And, I always feel, an element of the nasty right winger who will get the country up and running but who doesn’t really care about people.

So I think it is worth being circumspect around Edward Snowden. He has sacrificed himself – there’s Neptune! – and the understandable response of the authorities he has characterised as what happens when you “speak truth to power.” Snowden is young, he is just coming out of his Saturn Return – and he has certainly created a place in the world for himself, which is very Saturn Return, as well as idealistic Aquarian, the sign on the MC.

But that statement that he is speaking truth to power seems na├»ve and polarised and even a bit self-important. Governments need secrets. Corporations have commercial secrets, which they need to protect. Would it be ‘speaking truth to power’ to reveal them? And the same with governments. They need to be secretive, for example, if they are investigating criminal networks, whether it is bombers (not ‘terrorists’, which is a political term), drug importers, sex traffickers, money launderers, paedophile rings, illegal arms dealers, phishers, the mafia and the assorted cyber-criminals who are now using modern communication methods to advance their activities.

It is the government’s job to keep track of these people. The government is there to protect us from them, and would not be doing its job if it was not engaged in surveillance of this new electronic world that has opened up. If I start sending emails or texts with words like guns or nitroglycerine or child porn in them, I want a computer to pick up on that and pass it on to a person who can investigate further. I hope my government is doing that. Maybe the Edward Snowdens of this world don’t realise that there really are bad people out there, and always have been, who will do us immense harm if the government does not protect us, and that mobile phones and the internet are a way of organising themselves without detection – unless we have mass surveillance of those media.

It’s a choice of how we want to live, really. And it’s not a choice between government invasion of our privacy or a free society. It is a choice between mass computerised government surveillance and an increasingly dangerous society where criminals have much more power than they used to.

OK, so we don’t want our ‘privacy’ compromised. For some people that is much more of an issue than for others, some people won’t eg be on Facebook, not because they have anything to hide but because they don’t want information about themselves being picked up by google and governments.

It’s kind of understandable, especially if you are say more a private Scorpio than a tell-it-all Sagittarius. But remember what it was like even 100 years ago when most people lived in villages and everyone knew everyone’s business and if a crime was committed, there was probably a good chance everyone thought they knew who’d done it. Suffocating. I’d much rather today’s situation, where computers know much of my business and maybe a few people who I don’t actually know have looked through some of my stuff, maybe just because I am unwittingly friends with someone who is in turn unwittingly friends with someone dodgy on Facebook. But at least they won’t be GOSSIPING about me. 

That would be much worse. Living in a village and being GOSSIPED about because my hair is too long and I don’t work 9 to 5, and where I can’t advertise I’m an astrologer because that sad tosser in a skirt (the vicar) controls the local magazine (true) and where I could get suspected of crimes just for being different. (That said, it is also true that gossip is what makes life interesting.)

What Snowden revealed was the fact that much more surveillance of the US (and UK) public was going on than people knew about. I think he has probably done us a favour by doing that. It needs to be out in the open. But his reason for doing it is that he doesn’t want the surveillance to be happening to that extent. Quite possibly, he doesn’t want it to be happening at all, he seems like he could be that kind of idealist. Sun opposite Neptune, Uranus-Jupiter opp Asc. And as a double Gemini, he may change his mind in a few years.

Now let’s take the government’s side for a moment. We liberal, educated types can be anti-government, anti-authority in a way that is unthinking and in a way child-like. The US was even set up on an anti-authority/royalty basis (though they do seem to love William and Kate and don’t like Charles and many seem to have strong views on the succession) to an extent that it is very hard for its leader to actually lead, and where the anti-government feeling runs across the political spectrum in a way that it doesn’t in Britain. And where suspicion breeds suspicion.

But maybe the US government has some good reasons for engaging in domestic surveillance to the extent that it is, and some good reasons for not telling the public. Had any of us considered that?

And the reason is this: the mass surveillance necessary within the world of modern electronic communications has run ahead of the public’s willingness to accept such surveillance. So what should a government do? It is an urgent matter, for immense harm can and will be done in a short time by the various groups of people mentioned above. In the case of the US and UK governments, as Snowden revealed, they have gone ahead and engaged anyway with the sort of surveillance they thought was necessary. And I am grateful to them for that, I trust them because they have done that. This is the point at which I know I will lose quite a few subscriptions to my blog, but I know I can’t afford to think in those terms.

Of course, there will be abuses. The surveillance is happening anyway, it is here to stay, and the job of ordinary people is to press for it to be well regulated. In this sense Snowden has done us a favour (in the UK as well). Because the government felt it had to keep quiet about it, it meant the surveillance couldn’t be properly regulated. Even with good regulation, there will be abuses, even major systemic ones. The surveillance in a way is police work, and we know how corrupt police forces can get, and how you keep needing investigations which if we’re lucky have some sort of independence. But that doesn’t mean you do away with the police force, and I think it’s the same with surveillance.

As for the US bugging the EU and other countries, well I think they’re all at it, and it’s a case of all’s fair in love and war. First we heard it was the nasty Chinese stealing US commercial secrets, then we found out the US were themselves bugging the Chinese and EU, next thing we know it will be EU governments bugging the US and the Chinese and whoever else they can. This is a side issue, it’s international relations as usual. I don't think Snowden had the right to reveal what his government was up to in this respect.

And I also think he had no right to reveal the domestic surveillance, even though it may have done his country a favour. Or may not, who knows. I think if your government is out and out destructive like say a Nazi regime, then there is a case for that sort of betrayal. But America is in no way like that.

Governments are not just composed of idiots. Things happen for reasons, sometimes, frequently, idiotic things, particularly when the politicians are in charge. And issues are not clear cut. What Snowden did was a deep and serious matter. How many people did he consult before he did what he did? We don’t know of any. He has Sun-Mars conjunct in the 1st House, he acts on his own. With Moon in Scorpio, he certainly feels deeply. But does he think deeply? Not necessarily as a Gemini. In fact, he could be brilliant at rationalising his actions to suit what he feels, and with Neptune opposite his Sun, he may believe it. The Moon in Scorpio may be running the show, as indicated by tr Node passing over it right now.

If Snowden is allowed to reveal the secrets he’s not happy about, then surely everyone else has the right to reveal the secrets they are not happy about.

I can understand he doesn’t want that sort of mass electronic surveillance going on. But it’s not the one-sided issue he seems to present it as. There are good reasons for it, and we will all have our own viewpoint.

I think this is my big issue with him: what makes him think he has the right to take on his own a decision that affects all of us?

Maybe, though, there is a kind of fate at work. Gemini is the sign of facts (as opposed to their significance, which is Sagittarius). Snowden has Sun conjunct North Node in Gemini. There is something fated here around facts and information, that involves the collective (opposite Neptune.)

And the North Node is involved again by transit: it is about to conjoin his natal Moon in Scorpio. A time of reckoning around secrets, a theme of betrayal. And his Solar Return for last year has an applying t-square of Moon in Cancer, Uranus and Pluto. A betrayal (Pluto) of his homeland (Moon in Cancer). The astrology doesn’t tell us whether the betrayal is justified or not, we have to make those judgements ourselves.

I think it is hard with natal Sun opposite Neptune to know yourself without a broadened sense of who you are, maybe through an imaginative vocation, or maybe it is redemption through being a sacrifice to the collective. On a purely personal level, what Snowden has done is also part of his path of self-knowledge. An outer planet takes years, decades to start to understand. I feel there was a fated element to what Snowden did, like the collective needed someone to let it know what was going on. But I think it will take a long time for him to understand fully why he did what he did, and he may at times regret it.

I would like to know his personal history. Why the need to sacrifice himself (Sun opposite Neptune)? Were there secrets in his childhood (Moon in Scorpio)? It is like a Myth has hold of him that he is living out, and maybe the Fates ordained that. After all, he also has Uranus opposite Asc and Sun trine Saturn-Pluto: a lot of collective influence on his chart.

And, rather amazingly, a collective yod with Chiron in the 12th at the apex, Saturn-Pluto and Neptune at the base. Chiron is another planet of sacrifice and scapegoatery, and it's in the collective 12th House. Mars passed over his Chiron a week before the leaks were published on 6th June, showing the significance of this yod. Before that, the Sun passed over his Chiron on 20th May, the date he fled to Hong Kong.

In the near future, Saturn will cross his Moon. This will be his personal adjustment to his new circumstances, particularly home (Moon). Scorpio/Saturn could describe prison, or that very Scorpionic country to which he has just applied for asylum, Russia. The North Node has yet to cross his Moon, so there is more to unfold in this story of the revelation of national secrets.

It is interesting trying to analyse the chart of someone whose destiny has become so irrevocably tied up with the collective. He is not eg a politician who has the choice to step out of that. I don’t think an analysis is possible without considering that collective dimension, which is so much like Fate. He will never have the free will which we in the West like to think we have, but which is so dependent on material security.

In a way it’s not as if he has done something terrible. He just said what a lot of us probably suspected anyway, but now we know it. It is, at the same time, one of the biggest intelligence leaks in history, and I don’t think one individual has the right to do that to his country. On the other hand, as I said, maybe the collective wanted it and that was the way it had to happen. His Asc-Desc axis lines up along the US Asc-Desc axis.

 I’m left with a feeling of ambivalence in a way that I didn’t feel with Julian Assange. But then Snowden is a double Gemini with Mercury Rising. The trickster rules his Sun and Asc. Mercury has this way of tricking us into a deeper awareness, of causing secrets to be revealed, and maybe in that sense Snowden is a tool of the gods, and his personal destiny is not that relevant.

Snowden is also of our times in the sense that Pluto in Capricorn has the straightforward meaning of government (Capricorn) secrets (Pluto), and with Uranus currently in square to it, this exposure is kind of inevitable – it is a collective awakening (Uranus) to the shadow side (Pluto) of government (Capricorn). And Snowden’s 2012-13 SR Moon hard-aspects this collective movement.

But shadow side doesn’t mean ‘wrong’. It just means not acceptable to consciousness as it now is. It therefore means that what Snowden has done is part of the collective coming to terms with this aspect of what the government does on its behalf.

The type of betrayal of secrets that occurred with Snowden and Assange is new (Uranus in Aries): it is not about betraying one country to another, it is about betraying governments to the public, letting the people in on what is done on their behalf, in a way making the public more responsible (Capricorn) for what is done in its name.

The US particularly seems both idealistic about its form of government, yet deeply suspicious of the actual governments that idealism produces. Astrologically, this is described by natal Sun in Cancer in square to Saturn in Libra, which the Pluto-Uranus square is starting to hard-aspect. This is the wider context in which Snowden’s – and Assange’s – actions need to be seen. It may not be about the US government ceasing to do what governments have always done, but of the people realising that and finding a way of coming to terms with it.