Saturday, June 11, 2022


You might have noticed that I keep returning to the question of whether Boris Johnson will survive as PM in the longer term. The recent vote of confidence, in which 40% of his MPs voted against him, has damaged him hugely. Neither Theresa May nor John Major lasted very long after 'winning' theirs. For Johnson, it is not just a matter of 40% of his MPS voting against him: it is also a matter of how many of the ones who voted to keep him also had strong reservations? 

The basic principle of astrology is that beginnings contain the map of the future. Leaders who last a long time are generally powered through their time in office by major transits from the start, and leave office when those transits come to an end.

If we look at the transits to the charts of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, the two long-lasting PMs of recent history, it can be seen that they had powerful transits when they first became PM.

Margaret Thatcher had Pluto conjoining her Sun, Saturn conjoining her MC and Uranus conjoining her Asc. 

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And Tony Blair had Neptune conjoining his Midheaven and Pluto opposite his Asc. What more do you want for powerful beginnings?


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Boris Johnson, by contrast, was merely at the tail-end of an opposition from Uranus to his Moon, which rules his Midheaven, and Saturn opposite his MC. There was gravitas required of him (Saturn) but also creativity (Uranus). And there was the concomitant instability of Uranus. It was more like he was there for a specific reason and time. He certainly didn't have the major Neptune and/or Pluto transits powering him forward that Thatcher and Blair had.

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He came in at a very unsettled time, while Parliament was paralysed over the Brexit legislation. His time as PM has been characterised by Uranus: he quickly won an election and on that basis moved Brexit on speedily. But then Covid and lockdown happened, and now there is the cost of living crisis, as well as the crisis over his leadership. There has been crisis management, but little stability.

This autumn his major transits begin. Pluto will start moving towards an almost exact square with his Scorpio Moon, and Saturn towards his second Saturn Return. These will probably be the defining transits of his downfall, because it was transits to the Moon and from Saturn that began his premiership. They could, technically, speak of renewal, especially with Neptune coming up to square his Sun soon afterwards. But given the importance of beginnings in astrology for characterising what comes later, I think it means the end of this unstable period and of his time as PM. Johnson was elected in an emergency, when a particular issue was pressing, and then another, and he was able to deal with them. That is the achievement he will be remembered for. He seized the helm at a time of huge transition and successfully negotiated its first stage.

But he will also reap the consequences (Saturn Return) of what many have felt to be a personal betrayal (Pluto squaring his Scorpio Moon) by allowing partying among his staff to continue regularly during lockdown. 

Exactly when he will go is not clear to me. But I think something could happen this autumn as Pluto and Saturn go Direct. 

A further piece of astrology is the influence of the Jupiter-Neptune opposition in Johnson's natal chart. The reason I mention it is because Uranus had just made his first pass over the Jupiter end of it when the vote of confidence, which was a sudden event, occurred. So it is clearly implicated. Uranus will make two more passes over his Jupiter-Neptune between now and March 2023. My guess is that he will go sometime between late Jan 2023, when Uranus goes Direct, and early March, when he crosses Jupiter for the 3rd time.

I hadn't previously considered Johnson's Jupiter-Neptune, because it doesn't make much in the way of personal aspects. But it clearly contributes to him being the larger than life character, full of big promises, that he is. Johnson has a heavily tenanted 9th House, of which Jupiter is the natural ruler. Also, he is a public figure, enmeshed with the collective, and I think in that situation the less personal planets (and Jupiter is on the edge of the personal: along with Saturn it used to be one of the 2 great mundane planets) can be seen as players in their own right. The part that Johnson's free-floating Jupiter-Neptune has played in the no-confidence vote has been a point of astrological interest for me, and a pointer towards using those planets towards an understanding of the whole of his public life.

Friday, June 03, 2022


Chiron is said to be ‘the incurable wound’. I think that is an existential statement. It is the discomfort of existence itself, caused by it not going the way we would like it to. ‘Discomfort’ is putting it mildly. There can be terrible amounts of suffering in this embodied earthly life. I guess I used the word ‘discomfort’ to make the point that however good it gets, it is never perfect. This is where the Buddha starts in his 4 Noble Truths, with the idea of ‘dukkha’ as the basic characteristic of existence. It is often translated as ‘suffering’, but that puts it too strongly, because we are not always suffering in an obvious sense. The word ‘dukkha’ refers to an ill-fitting chariot wheel that gives a bumpy ride. That is more like it.

You’ve got to watch what you emphasise, because this existence is something to be embraced joyfully, not escaped from. What effect has it had on the whole of western culture to have had the image of a guy being tortured to death on a cross as the central religious symbol? It certainly fits well with the idea of this world as being the devil’s domain, and the sooner we can escape it, the better. No wonder Christianity eventually failed as a collective religion.

CHIRON (Kheiron) - Elder Centaur of Greek Mythology 
Existence is only inherently unsatisfactory to the extent that we treat it literally and embrace it in the wrong way: embrace it as something that can always fulfil our desires in the way we want, our desires that have a ‘right’ to be satisfied these days – something that the natural world does not recognise. Does a gazelle on the Serengeti have a right to life and happiness? No, it had better watch out or it will get eaten.

This is where we can learn from Chiron. Mythologically he was a teacher, as well as eventually having an incurable wound that could only be assuaged by giving up his immortality. This tells us all we need to know: the Chironic wound is only healed by reference to something beyond embodied, conscious existence and its desires. Chiron orbits the Sun between Saturn and the outer planets. He therefore acts as a bridge, as does Saturn, to those greater aspects of life that we are not ordinarily conscious of: the 'invisible' outer planets.

To use another analogy, Chiron is like a crack in the earth, up through which the lava of the outer planets can flow, and Saturn is like an rig at the surface, giving form and shape to that lava.
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Chiron shows us where we need to listen to the outer planets if we desire the joy and meaning that ordinary existence can never provide: the ordinary existence that is lived through the ego and its desires, rather than through a surrender to the universal spirit that runs through the cosmos, which is really what we are.

Chiron surrendered his immmortality in return for Prometheus being unchained from the rock in the Caucasus, where he had his liver pecked out every day, as punishment for bringing fire to humanity. This suggests a sympathy on Chiron’s part for what Prometheus had done, bringing us spirit and imagination – if you like, bringing us the outer planets. And also the trouble it can cause.

We see this trouble at the time of major outer planet transits, when new life is trying to be born, either through the creativity of Uranus, the ensoulment of Neptune, or the death and renewal of Pluto. Humans like what is familiar, what is known, and at these times we will often hang on to what we know, trying to fix our lives so that they keep working as they always have done, to avoid what can seem like the madness that is trying to enter our lives. This hanging on to the old can cause a lot of suffering: it can make us ill, it can even kill us.

The outer planets mean business, they embody the Necessity, capital N, for life always to be moving on and unfolding. Chiron is here the pain we experience when we resist this call: but he is also the joy and wholeness we feel when we answer it. Chiron is half horse, he is both human and animal, he represents the joy of that union: spirit (human) and body (animal), the joy of incarnation, which is what we are here to do.

So Chiron on the one hand tells us that embodied existence is inherently uncomfortable, even deeply painful; but it is a pain that teaches us deeply and in an ongoing way; and that we are here paradoxically to embrace that unsatisfactory embodied existence, the pain is not something to be shied away from. That pain is something that can keep us embodied, it is like an anchor, that can stop us attempting to float off to some heavenly realm. Chiron is an antidote to spiritual bypass.

So wherever Chiron is in your chart – assuming he is somewhere of significance – then that is where you need to listen to the outer planets. If you don’t, then your life will probably not work in that aspect. If you try to do ‘normal’, then you will feel wounded, inadequate. A wound that is incurable on its own level.

A good example is the soul illnesses that many people get, those ones that are hard to diagnose and demonstrate and cure, so that you can often suspect you might be malingering! In fact you are not, it is real, but it will not be healed by conventional medicine, which does not have a concept of a soul dimension to the illness. You need to listen deeply to the spirit within you if you want to get well, it needs a slow revolution in who you are, a different basis from which to live meaningfully.

If you have Sun conjunct Chiron, say, then your whole identity needs to be based around listening to the Spirit, to the outer planets. It is not a part-time thing. This is not easy. If you have that conjunction in Aquarius like I do, then the sign itself gives another shove away from conventional existence. It is much easier to do what everyone else does, the tram lines are well laid down and you get all sorts of benefits like belonging and acceptance and certainty.

So Chiron is not easy. He educated some of the Greek heroes, like Jason of Argonaut fame. So he demands heroic efforts from us to rise to his challenges. You might sometimes feel it is too much, that when you chose this life – assuming that is what happens – that you bit off more than you could chew. I think it only feels too much when we doubt the outer planets. They are what give us the superpowers to rise to the occasion. You cannot be a hero by willpower alone, something that is bigger than human needs to be working through you. That is why we can't help admiring heroes and heroines.

The one thing not to do is to identify with the wound and to blame your parents for it. Parents have much less effect on who we are as adults than we are led to believe (see The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris.) Don’t blame anyone for it: it is there in you to be grappled with, wherever it came from. It can take a lot to understand Chiron and to rise to his challenges. We may make lots of wrong turnings along the way, we may spend years wallowing in his pain.

I’ll bring in a political example. Politicians are not notable for their self-knowledge, for they are more motivated by outward events. Tony Blair has a wide Chiron-Midheaven conjunction in Capricorn (as well as many other aspects to Chiron.) If any career needs to be a calling, this is it. And you saw it with Blair. He never said it, but he felt he was doing God’s Will in invading Iraq. He formally converted to Catholicism soon after stepping down as PM – Chiron in the 9th, Capricorn here being traditional religion.

At the time of the Iraq War in 2003, Blair was nearly 50, just starting his Chiron Return, and over the next couple of years it also crossed his Midheaven. This was the time when he became ‘toxic’ to voters, because many felt he had misled them over the real reason for the war. They felt he had the blood of our dead soldiers on his hands.

So you can see the kind of weird Chironic mix that was going on. Blair couldn’t help but turn it into a calling – part of his wider project of saving the world from nasty dictators through military intervention. But being a politician, he didn’t have the attunement to his own deeper motives, the ability to be honest about them, that is required to listen to the outer planets: the voice of God, if you like, to put it in Blair’s language. What he thought was the outer planets was very mixed with his own motives.

I won’t attempt too much of an analysis of them, because it is hard to know. It is interesting how certain many people seem to be of politicians’ motives, when really we don’t know, it just takes a bit of honesty to see that. In Blair’s case, I think it is fairly safe to say that mixed in to the brew was his wish to go along with America, whatever it was they were doing. And, of course, his personal ambition, which is not a crime, you need it to get anything done, unless you are a saint. But he no longer seemed able to listen to dissenting voices, a sign that his ambition, his desire for a ‘legacy’, had got out of balance.