Thursday, November 17, 2022


Here we go. I'm talking personal, and it's about Pluto's abduction - indeed his rape - of Persephone, and then making her his wife. Love is not civilised, try as we might. Once it is 'civilised', what is left? Where are those claws that can hold you so fiercely in their passion, that will kill for you, and kill for their young? Those primordial eyes that stare so unreservedly and wantingly into yours?

Pluto is about to approach to within less than a degree of my retrograde Venus at 1.16 Aquarius.
Venus isn't Persephone, but she may as well be. All my life I have felt I have lost something of myself when in relationship, which doesn't mean there hasn't been good stuff as well. But there is the abduction. I feel like I am hobbling around on a walking stick, aged 64, in the love department, at any rate.

In other respects, my life is flourishing.... I have my first 2 books coming out this year, more being written, about to buy a house..... and yet the love area is still in the wasteland after 5 joyous and maddening years on my own, which is maybe the proper place to be when Pluto is about to conjoin your Venus.
Retrograde tells you to look at the past. What was it that I was giving away in relationship, on and off - with one 18-year on - all that time? With natal Venus opposite Uranus too, what was I splitting off from, in what way was I not being true to the whole of myself? There is such an enveloping conventional expectation around relationship, because it is such a big part of life, that it can take a long time to find what is true for us. And maybe the biological imperative has to have its say first. How can we know who is suitable for us, in a deeper kind of way, at that more tender reproductive age?
Now this post could go on for a while. I expect we have all been here one way or another, so I hope this speaks to you. WHAT IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR BEING IN RELATIONSHIP? What are those niggles we put aside in the hope they will go away, in the interest of all those other, maybe CONVENIENT, things that seem to work? For they will come back and bite you 20 years later. And it will be messy, but I'm not sure the universe is as bothered as we are about those messes, when it comes to the wider pattern in which it sees our lives.

This is the kind of question that Pluto-Venus aspects, natally or by transit, and Venus in Scorpio, raise. Pluto or Scorpio demands that we be instinctively true to ourselves, even when we don't have the reasons to support it.


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Is being with this person a compromise in any way? Are you allowing yourself quietly to go to sleep, rather than encountering the more abundant life that naturally comes with age? It is not a betrayal to admit these things to yourself. But that self-betrayal has to be acted upon, or it will eventually destroy you. You will die earlier than you might have, because the life will slowly leach out of you.

So I could go on about relationships. The need to learn to negotiate with your partner/spouse, and to be committed to that, existentially. Your whole life can be bound up with this person, and through that synergy and that commitment to being always honest, something very deep can be built. What more could one want? Love is something that needs to be built over decades, assuming the initial chemistry is there.

That is what marriage is about. The partnership is consecrated in the context of the Great Spirit, or whatever is your metaphysical context, and always the community. Such ceremony is a powerful thing. 
Even at my advanced age, that is what could be coming my way with my Pluto-Venus transit. Who knows? You can't second-guess transits. Personally, I have the capacity and the longing for that. Maybe, after a lifetime, this thing can work. Maybe I have been on my own for long enough to have earned the capacity to do this. I reckon :)
But what about relationships ending? I can often see it coming in the chart, and I always say don't take it personally, it needed to happen, even though it could hardly be more personal. And I won't shy away from it as a possibility in a reading, just as I won't shy away from death. If people call on us, it is not our job to be mealy-mouthed. It is to tell the truth. Requiring astrologers not to predict death is a betrayal of our calling.

Sometimes relationships are a lifelong commitment, and when they are that, it is a beatiful and maybe a rare thing, when it is about each becoming a more whole/balanced person, when negotiation about everything - and I mean everything - is possible. When - in astrological terms - each person is living according to the will of the gods/planets. But how often is it like that? That is what I feel Pluto-Venus is leading me into, but maybe not just yet.

More often, and here maybe I am on my soapbox, the relationship is more about each person carrying part of the other person's psyche. You be Mum and I'll be Dad. I think it is usually as simple as that, though in unique ways. Venus' House, the 7th, is the House of projection. And it can't be easily spoken about, because how sexy is it for the guy to say you are his Mum? You gotta have a good time in bed - and if that isn't Pluto-Venus, or Venus in Scorpio, I don't know what is. Raw, immediate, consuming on all levels. And maybe you can have that good time if you don't admit to the parental stuff.

But of course it's not usually either/or. A productive relationship will tend to be both the impulse towards honesty, and the carrying of bits of each other's psyche, which reveals itself over time, and needs to be navigated. (Falling in love, IMO, is the result of the initial and unconscious editing of ourselves to be what the other unconsciously needs us to be: suddenly we feel 'complete', we have found our 'soul partner'. Until they aren't.)

People grow apart. A relationship can have a beginning, a middle and an end. Our dogmatic religious background tells us that it must last for ever, and moreover be consecrated by God, or something has gone wrong, and who is the guilty party?
I watch a fair bit of Jordan Peterson, and I appreciate his free-thinking, pragmatic analysis of many areas of life. I also appreciate his standing-up for marriage. But he doesn't appreciate the benefits of a relationship ending. It is usually messy, it can be distraughting, but it can be deeply necessary. You can feel like you were meant to come together precisely because you would come apart in a messy way, and learn so much about yourself in the process. That can almost be the purpose of romantic love: to glamour us into exactly the place we need to be from which, 20 years later, we shall emerge bloody and bowed, vomitting up seawater on the beach, but with all that weird unconscious shit - which we like to attribute to early life, but really who knows - becoming conscious. It may make us a bunny-boiler for a while, but that isn't a permanent condition. It is maybe no more crazy than the initial condition of being 'in love', which feels divine, and maybe it is, but it it may also be a necessary trick to get us where we need to be. This is all Venus-Pluto stuff.

There is so much we can learn from our attractions and our visceral involvements. If we are prepared to be honest, at least with ourselves. And don't underestimate the unique joys of solitude. Venus in Virgo perhaps. But that is another post. Finding in yourself what you previously experienced, as a mere pale reflection, through the other.
I have 2 years of Pluto conjunct Venus to run. I get the Tower Card and the Death Card quite regularly. My Venus is Aquarian and Uranian. There is something outside the norm to be encountered and lived. There is a death of the old paradigm. But the outcome will be authentic, and the opposite of compromise, if I grasp the new life that is always Pluto's gift.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022


I'm going to talk about Jordan Peterson, and topics that spin out from that. I won't give you a blow by blow account of his chart. I don't often read chart interpretations of public figures, because I get bored. What is it that I want to do when I pull up a chart? I want to seize one or two features that grab me, and shake them like a dog tearing meat from a carcass. And digress as I will. So long as I stay interested, my reader probably will too. 

If you haven't seen Jordan Peterson, look up him on youtube. I watch him interviewing people for several hours every week. He is the great scourge of wokeness. His position as a psychology professor in Canada became untenable some years ago when he opposed a directive about what pronouns he should use when addressing people. He was not going to have his speech legislated for, though on an individual level he is always respectful and compassionate. But still a fierce arguer, exceptionally sharp, with decades of psychological research at his fingertips. He is deeply interested in people, which makes him a good interviewer. He isn't trying to trip them up, in contrast to what we have become used to.

You can see the Sun-Mercury-Moon-Saturn Grand Trine in Air in his chart. The realm of ideas comes very naturally to him, it is his gift. With Mercury also square to Pluto, there is a dynamic depth to his thinking. Moon in Libra gives him empathy, the ability to see from the other person's point of view, which stands out in his interviews. But it is an airy empathy, he stays objective.

Earthy Taurus Rising makes him practical. He is not interested in ideologies, but rather with what works. His main personal Water is Venus in Cancer, hidden away on the IC and unaspected. I think this is why he gets emotional so easily. The emphasis in his personality is intellect, so emotion creeps up on him and takes him over. It is people and their suffering and the ability to help them that moves him to tears.


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What prompted this post was Peterson and Religion, specifically his attempts to rehabilitate Christianity. I can go with that, but what I can't go with is his attempts to make it all OK, his apologetics. He doesn't critique it, and I think that is revealing. For example, putting the figure of a man being tortured to death as the central image of a spiritual tradition is really not OK. Sure, Jordan draws down lessons around suffering and the shadow, which are valid. But still. What, for example, are children supposed to make of that image, what is it telling them about the nature of the world? What has it done to our culture as a whole to have that gruesome image at its centre for so long? It is not surprising, perhaps, that we now have so prominently a nihilist materialism, a universe that has no point to it. That image has the knocked the life, the joie de vivre, the reason for living out of us.

So, Religion. The 9th House. He has Capricorn on the Cusp. That is why he wants a tradition. Someone with Pisces there just wants the direct experience of God, who they experience to be everywhere. The ruler of Peterson's 9th, Saturn, is in the 10th in Aquarius, retrograde and part of his Airy Grand Trine.

Saturn on its own has required Peterson to make his mark (Saturn) on the world (10th) in a way that renews the status quo (Aquarius). We can learn a lot about signs from the one that comes before, which they grow out of when they are functioning well. Aquarius grows out of Capricorn, suggesting to me that Aquarius needs to earn the right to break the rules, by learning them and living them (Capricorn) first. Otherwise it can be a mindless rebellion, albeit maybe necessary for a while.

We live in a culture where the traditions have largely died out. I have spent a lot of time on that edge of appreciating and wanting tradition, yet enjoying the freedom to reinvent that that lack gives me. I wrote a piece to coincide with the publication of my book The Medicine Wheel that has that sort of contemplation in it. You can find it here

We astrologers, of course, each have our own relationship with the astrological tradition. It is a tradition that has had to be resurrected, but it seems to have brought with it plenty of egregore, the energy that comes from centuries of collective practice. That is why it works so well. Not for any scientific reason: astrology soon becomes a nonsense when approached like that. It works because of the divinatory capacities of the individual astrologer allied to the stage 4 rocket booster of the egregore around the tradition. We can be grateful to the astrologers of the past for building the energy field that we both draw on, and renew in the act of drawing on it.

Maybe psychotherapy has an egregore too, coming from all those therapists since Freud? Maybe it is gaining in power? It is a ceremony, after all.

So tradition can be a good thing, a powerful thing. Intricate layers of symbolic meaning build up over the centuries. If you've been in a traditional sweatlodge, you'll know that everything, down to the smallest detail, carries meaning in that ceremony. And those meanings have a power that comes from all the people in the past who have done sweatlodges from whatever tradition.

But we can't be part of those traditions, not really. We have to reinvent our sweatlodges. And our astrology. There is an edge in this that I think is very important. An edge that I think can only really come from having lived through major outer planet transits, and the deeper alignment with who we really are that they bring about, if we allow it. I think that gives us the right to break the rules and reinvent. How can you, for example, bring forward our understanding of Pluto transits unless you have lived through some, and know their nature on your pulses, deep within yourself? 

Traditions have the bad habit of setting themselves in stone, because people want that kind of certainty. Astrology is as guilty of this as any tradition, but I am not railing against it, for I think it is inevitable and even necessary for maybe most of us at certain points in our lives.But it is those who want it set in stone who will resist those who want to keep renewing the tradition (which is an ongoing thing).

So, back to Jordan Peterson. He wants a spiritual tradition (Capricorn on the 9th House Cusp). But he also wants to renew it (the ruler Saturn in Aquarius). And he wants also to impact the world with this renewal (Saturn in the 10th). Saturn is retrograde. I'm never quite sure what to say about retrograde planets. They are going backwards, and Peterson is reaching back into the past as far as he can go, which is to the Old Testament, on which he has given a series of lectures, available on Youtube.

So he is starting from first principles in his attempts to renew Christianity, which I think is the right place to start. But, as I said earlier, he wants to make it all OK. Maybe he will find a way of making the OT injunction to stone gays to death OK, I don't know. Traditions make mistakes, they get things wrong. Maybe the worst kinds of mistakes are the oldest ones, because they become such articles of faith. If you're going to renew a tradition, you need to be able to say where you think it has gone astray. After all, Christianity for most people in the UK, at any rate, has pretty much died out. That doesn't happen if it continues to nourish people. So you have to look at where it went wrong. 

I am not personally Christian, my inclinations are more pagan/shamanic/old gods.  But I can appreciate that there is a powerful spirit in Christianity, in Christ in particular, that has built up over two millennia. You can't ignore that. It is something that speaks to all of us, is part of all of us, just by the fact of our living in this culture. I think maybe the best approach is to allow Jesus to be there as a spirit, but don't allow the special, totalitarian claims that have historically come with that. As astrologers, we have lots of gods living side by side. That pluralism is a guard against fundamentalism, the idea that there is only one reality.

Peterson is drawn to tradition for reasons given, and Christianity is our tradition. But it's not just that. He also has a Jupiter-Chiron conjunction in Pisces, square to his Mercury. This speaks strongly of suffering, sacrifice and redemption. In other words, Christ. Maybe you could say it is his Cap 9th that is drawn to the Old Testament, and his Jupiter-Chiron that is drawn to Christ/the New Testament.

Peterson's Jupiter-Chiron is opposite Pluto in Virgo. There is the death and renewal/resurrection. There is nothing wrong with all these attributes of Christ, for they are part of any spiritual tradition. I think the problem is that they have been made the whole instead of the part, and therein lies the imbalance. Making a part the whole is  one way that fundamentalism arises, and when you have a state religion, as Christianity became, that is always a possibility. We want simple rules and certainties, and that was what Christianity provided.

Peterson has North Node in Leo in the 4th. He sees the valuing of the worth of the individual as a remarkable achievement of western culture, with its roots in Christianity. He uses the western abolition of slavery, which has been a human universal, as an example of this valuing.

So back to my reason for writing this piece: Peterson's social and religious conservatism (Cap 9th and 10th, prominent Saturn), which I can go with, for tradition is a necessary thing, but his reluctance to criticise Christianity, which I cannot go with. 

The Houses are where we incarnate the planets. The 9th is the type of religious practices and institutions we seek. But Jupiter is the planet of spirituality/religion. It is how we are inwardly. There is an inner/outer distinction between planets and houses that is not absolute. Peterson has Jupiter in Pisces. For all his lengthy exegeses on the Bible, Peterson longs inwardly just to surrender to God. This also describes his openness to psilocybin and other psychoactive susbstances.

But Saturn is much stronger in the chart. So at the end of the day, the tradition about God wins out over the direct experience of Him. Peterson has a tight Mercury-Jupiter square, and a wide Sun-Jupiter square. He is challenged to open himself to God. The same may be said of his 12th House Mars, which is square Saturn and opposite Neptune. I would argue that this issue describes the principle challenge in his chart and therefore in his life.

It is an incremental thing, as I know from my own life. Peterson doesn't exactly lack in self-confidence, in trusting his inner guidance and knowing. But it begins with observation, he is a scientist. Earthy Taurus Rising and strong Saturn. His starting point is not the inner, which is that of the mystic. He is doing the opposite journey. When it comes to that complete surrender, he cannot fully let go. He takes refuge in tradition, in the Word, and trying to resuscitate it. That is why he does not critique Christianity as he should: he cannot afford to.

I was prompted to these considerations by Peterson's description of his home, in which every area has been deliberated on. I could not do that, even though I appreciate the aesthetic sensibility behind Peterson's efforts. There has to be room for chaos, room for areas of the house that are for the spirits. That seems like basic respect to me. Peterson is big on what he would call trait orderliness. My observation of him over the last few years has been of him becoming increasingly open to the spirit dimension. He is emerging from a Neptune-Sun square, which has that kind of effect. But his intellect may in the long run be too powerful for his own good, he may be too brilliant and prolific in his biblical apologetics to be able to stand back from that in the way that is needed to give Jupiter in Pisces full rein. Who knows?