Monday, February 24, 2020


By the time we arrive at the MC, the 10th House Cusp, in the journey through the Houses, we are looking at the Elder, someone who assumes responsibility for the community. This is Saturn's realm. But how can a lone individual assume this onerous responsibility? It is by looking at Saturn in a different way.

Sitting Bull
During the 1st Saturn Return, we assume responsibility for ourselves, we begin to incarnate. And that is how Saturn is generally seen, as the worldly taskmaster, for better or for worse. He is a very mixed blessing in our extraverted culture.

In the 2nd Saturn Return we have, schematically speaking, done 30 years of incarnating. We no longer have to pretend to be an adult 😂 Seriously, Saturn is the bridge to the outer planets. At this time Saturn learns to be the servant to the outer planets, instead of trying (unsuccessfully) to boss them around. In other words, the responsibility is no longer 'ours', it belongs to something bigger than our narrow selves.


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So this is how the lone individual assumes this impossible responsibility: by recognising that it is 'not my will but thine'. This is Saturn, at his 2nd Return aged 58 or so, giving us the broad shoulders that the community needs of us. We quietly know that they are not our shoulders, but something bigger than that, beyond that, to which we surrender. The outer planets. Spirit.

And we can surrender in part because we no longer care so much about our reputation, a concern of the 1st adult Saturn cycle. If everything f*&^s up, so be it, we can live with that and what people may say. (This also describes the way in which Saturn-ruled Capricorn, with its mastery of the tribal tried-and-tested norms, earns the right to move into rule-breaking, transpersonal Aquarius.) There is undoubtedly some broader purpose at work that we do not know about and may never know about.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Depth Psychology of Chiron

I occasionally try to do away with Chiron. He is, after all, only the size of the Isle of Wight. But he keeps coming back, one way or the other. So although I’m not going to give him planetary status, I will generally pay attention if he is aspecting something important in the chart. Like in my own case, conjunct the Sun and square the MC and sextile the Moon.

But that still often leaves me stuck for something to say. Which ‘bit’ of us is he? It’s not enough to say ‘the wound’ because lots of bits of us are problematic and painful. Besides which, Chiron was a wise teacher for the main part of his life, it was only later on that he got wounded by the poisoned arrow, and was in pain to such an extent that he tired of living. Catch: he was immortal. But he sorted that, giving up his immortality in exchange for Prometheus being released from his torment.

Both Saturn and Chiron have been described as bridges to the outer planets, and that seems a fairly sensible thing to say, given their positions in the solar system, on the boundary between the visible and invisible planets. It is the invisibility (to the naked eye) of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto that gives them a different character to the inner planets.

The way I’m thinking about Chiron at present is that he is the principle of the wound in the sense of that kind of difficulty and pain that can only be addressed by listening to the outer planets: he is precisely that principle you get in depth psychology that says that it is through our intractable, painful bits that we find our souls.

Imagine the outer planets as the molten core of the earth – uncontrollable, transformative and nuking everything in its path when it breaks through the surface crust. Chiron is that fissure deep underground, that fault line, through which the molten lava can erupt. And Saturn is the crust itself, the form of the earth, over which the lava flows. The outer planets are not always out of control and disruptive, particularly if we know how to listen to them. In this case Saturn is more like machinery erected at the surface to direct the raw power coming from below. An oil rig, something like that.

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So Chiron is this fissure deep underground. It cannot be sorted on its own terms, and it cannot be understood in terms of surface mechanics, earth movers and such like, ordinary psychology. No, for there is always this threat from below, or what appears as a threat. The threat that is actually our souls if we are willing to go there.

So this is why Chiron often represents a part of life - depending on where he is in the chart – that doesn’t work very well. You cannot patch him up, because there is always that roiling underneath. I think Chiron conjunct the Ascendant can be particularly difficult. The Asc is our basic ability to express who we are and make our lives work. With this placement you can bumble along in life with nothing quite working, nothing ever going anywhere, and that can go on for decades. And the problem is that you’re trying to do ‘normal’, you’re trying to live your life like everyone else does, but somehow your heart is not in it, and you feel inadequate because of that. But once you go bugger that, there’s this thing I’ve always wanted to do, it’s not going to earn me much probably and I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it but I’m going to do it, then your life can start to work properly – not in ‘normal’ terms, but in terms of you feeling there is something essential that is falling into place.

So Chiron is a ‘wound’, but not an ordinary one. He only appears as a wound, and that’s why it’s said to be incurable, because you can’t cure a wound that isn’t a wound. What ‘cures’ it lies in making what is immortal in you mortal, just like Chiron himself did, giving earthly expression to that other drumbeat you’ve always heard.

The Chiron wound can make you feel like you don’t want to go on living, just like Chiron the centaur felt. But I think it’s a case of not wanting to live on particular terms, not if life has to be like this.

In 1999 I took ayahuasca a couple of times in the Amazon jungle, and it made me aware of what I think was Chiron. It was a sense of deep pain, which I would experience from time to time anyway, but it became clear that that pain was what grounded me, connected me to the earth, it had a sort of weight to it. And then I became aware that I learnt from it, it was an ongoing source of learning. And it wasn’t something that could be put into words and certainly not to be psychoanalysed. It was uncomfortable, but very creative, and not to be ignored.

Previous to that, in the early 90s, I had driven myself into a corner by pressurising myself to ‘achieve’. And I ended up realising, like Chiron, that I didn’t want to live on those terms, I didn’t have a will to live if it meant living like that. I didn’t feel depressed or suicidal or anything, I just knew that I had to find a different way of being. This was as transiting Pluto was squaring my natal Sun-Chiron. And it was, appropriately, to do with work, my Sun-Chiron being in the 6th House. So I’ve had to spend years undoing the notion of ‘achievement’ in the way I work (note I also have natal Chiron square MC) or pushing and pressurising myself. That may work for some people, it’s quite ‘normal’ in a way, but it ain’t going to work if Chiron is involved in the 6th and 10th Houses. So it means I ‘do’ less, but what I end up doing has a quality that it never had previously.

So Chiron I think has this unconventional, outsider, even scapehorse quality to him. If Chiron doesn’t aspect anything major in your chart, you may be able to ignore him. But if he say conjoins your MC then you probably have something important to do in the world, and the ‘career’ aspect of your life will never feel right as long as you judge yourself in conventional terms. You need to do what the outer planets want you to do, and that can take a long time to come to fruition – it’s not like deciding to become a plumber and getting on with it. What you do may not have a name.

Gordon Brown, the last UK Prime Minister, has Chiron conjunct MC. Everyone knew he wasn’t Prime Minister material, but he was determined to get the top job, and he made a hash of it. But he also has another side to him, he is a feelingful bloke, he wants to be of help. He doesn’t preen himself, he has more humility than say Blair (another Chiron MC man). But because he wouldn’t, couldn’t listen to his Chiron, he ended up in a conventional job, making a hash of it. And the same with Blair, look how hated he is. You could say his faith foundation is a blundering attempt to get it right with Chiron. And George W Bush - Moon conjunct Chiron, Sun square Chiron: the debate about him has not been whether or not he was a bad President, but whether he was the worst or only second worst!

So I think Chiron can be a sort of curse if you haven’t got the wherewithal to step outside of conventional life and its expectations and judgements – and that can be a really difficult call for many people – and let the outer planets decide how you’re going to live.
(First published here in 2012)

Monday, February 03, 2020


In his speech today about the post B economy (he wouldn't say the word because, he says, it is history!) Boris Johnson flew the flag for free trade, claiming it has benefitted the world economy enormously. For some, it undoubtedly has. For others, not so. 

In his very readable book '23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism' by Cambridge Economics Professor Ha-Joon Chang, the author favours evidence over ideology, and shows how harmful free trade often is to developing economies. How do you start your own industries if your country is flooded with cheap goods from abroad? This is often the price countries have to pay for help from the IMF. Which of course is run by America.


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America was protectionist in its early days, it had to be. And now it is being protectionist in its attempts to sort the huge trade imbalance with China. This is Trump putting common sense before ideology. So Johnson is only presenting half the picture, and maybe as a politician that is necessary, up to a point.

But as we enter a new era of Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn, more protectionism seems almost inevitable. Saturn and Capricorn both like to set boundaries and curb excess. Pluto in Sag was globalisation and free trade (which of course is only ever partly free). Now we are having a corrective to its excesses. 

Words sometimes become value judgements, so globalisation, which often merely means shutting down your factories at home and using cheap labour abroad, is 'good'. And protectionism, which can mean fostering your home-grown industries and resisting a flood of cheaply made imports, is 'bad'. This is just ideology, it is not thinking. 

Cheap Labour in China (it will be the Philippines next) means that our goods become throwaway. I read that the average garment is now worn just 4 times. So with protectionism will come more expensive goods that we do not throw away so easily. This will be another manifestation of Saturn in Capricorn.

So I say bring on a bit more protectionism, and let us be more connected to what we buy by having more of those goods made at home. This, of course, is not astrology, just my opinion, but I think the astrology is on my side.

And here is maybe my biggest wish for Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn: that an age dawns where limits to economic growth are set, that quality and efficiency and sufficiency become the unthinking value judgements (given that we seem to have no other way of functioning collectively.) The transformative power (Pluto) of common sense (Saturn in Capricorn). The current era of endless economic growth is not sane in a very basic way. Collectives, of whatever political persuasion, are rarely sane. But maybe we will have a bit of sanity, at least for a bit.