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Spiral of Rebirth

The Circle of Life

As from September 2019, this site is now a home for in-depth astrology. I’ll be posting my musings here – as and when the mood takes me. I’ll also share some comments from my astrology Facebook page on posts – for those folks not linked to me on Facebook.

However, my astrology Facebook Page is where I regularly publish all kinds of astrological stuff – blogs, videos and articles from leading astrologers for instance  – in fact anything astrological which takes my fancy and I think might interest YOU, dear reader. Do go over, visit for a while, leave a Like or even better, a comment. See you there!

To browse my astrology archives for articles from June 2013 – September 2019 on all manner of astro-topics, do visit Astrology: Questions and Answers

AND

There is a considerable archive going back to 2008 which you will find at the bottom left sidebar of the Home Page. It is aimed at ‘…those writers and readers who share my preoccupation with questions of meaning, mystery, pattern and purpose…, so you may well also find articles there, including some on astrology, which are to your liking!

Perpetual Planetary Motion

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Neptune and the ‘gift’ of uncertainty…

‘…The constant dance between form and formlessness, being and non-being, order and chaos, occurs in all epochs and at all levels.

Humans have created a range of paradigms and metaphors, from ancient myths to modern cosmology, within which to explore this dialectic. Our ancient Babylonian forebears envisaged the beginning of the world as a battle to the death between the great sea-serpent Ti’amat and her son, the Underworld god Marduk. He vanquished her, creating Heaven and Earth from her divided corpse. Meanwhile, the grapple goes on.

Astrology has its own language for this struggle, speaking through the polarity of Saturn and Neptune. Saturn at its core represents the drive to take form; Neptune’s teleology is that of dissolution…’ (i)

Tiamat Vs Marduk.

Tiamat Vs Marduk (Christian Johnson) reddit.com

Here we are – again. We do not need astrology to tell us we are in the throes of that epic struggle between Ti’amat and Marduk as the two hundred years long era of Jupiter and Saturn meeting in Earth comes to a messy and turbulent end. The ‘official starting date’ of the incoming Air era is on 2020’s Winter Solstice, when Jupiter meets Saturn at 0 Aquarius.

The signs are everywhere you care to look: covid 19 is brutally upending our way of living, which has largely depended on trashing Mother Earth since the outset of the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions. Fire ravaged parts of Australia in 2019, and is currently blazing swathes of destruction through California on the one hand, and the Brazilian rainforests in another. Destructive flooding is on the increase. Species extinction is advancing apace. Social inequality is worse than it has been for a very long time. I could go on and on…

Where astrology CAN be helpful, at least for those of us of a philosophical bent, is via the perspectives which studying the larger planetary cycles can provide. We can thus step back, zoom out as it were (quite the apt expression since much of the world is now Zooming!!) and with even a sketchy grasp of an historical timeline reflect upon the scary evidence of an increasingly divided world in turmoil – from a longer-term and possibly more optimistic perspective.

From observing both my own life and that of our wider communities, it seems that the most fear-generating dimension is the profound uncertainty which contextualises all our lives at present. None of us can plan with any confidence for anything. Just today, as I write this on Monday 14th September 2020, the covid ‘rule of six’ has come in in Scotland – but with different restrictions in other parts of an increasingly fragmenting UK as the shadow of an impending no-deal Brexit lengthens under a chaotic government with little apparent respect for the rule of law.

Neptune – as Chaos–  is surely gaining the upper hand. This been increasingly the case since Neptune’s entry into Pisces in 2011/12; Saturn is struggling to maintain order: his shadow, Fascism, with violence as its inevitable companion, is on the rise in various parts of the world.

As is often the case for me (and probably other writers…) when I’m reflecting on a possible column topic which has been chewing at me for weeks – in this case the Saturn/Neptune order/chaos dialectic, and where uncertainty fits in – I came across an essay in the wonderful aeon.com last Friday which was really helpful and illuminating, from a philosopher whom I only vaguely recollected from university philosophy (aeons ago, in my case!) – Karl Jaspers (1883-1969). The header quote on the essay stopped me in my tracks:

‘…To Karl Jaspers, uncertainty is not to be overcome but understood…’

Karl Jaspers

Karl Jaspers ( Astrodienst) 

Karl Jaspers’ work ‘…revolves around the meaning of uncertainty in an increasingly precarious and radicalising world…he is one of the very few existentialist thinkers…who did not seek to master, tame or conquer the unknowable and finite condition of human life. Instead, he tried to cultivate a relationship to this essential quality of life and engage it on its own terms…’ (ii)

Even a sketchy understanding of history reveals that our collective attempts in every culture under the sun ‘…to master, tame or conquer the unknowable and finite condition of human life…’  have been held in the vast context of that dialectic between Ti’amat and Marduk, Saturn and Neptune, order and chaos. We have lurched between those extremes, with spells of varying lengths in which we managed to get the two in balance for a time – for ever.

The twenty-year cycle of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions concluding their journey through the Earth element and entering the new Air era, can roughly speaking, be mapped onto the waning crescent of the ‘old order’ and the waxing crescent of the new. This gives us a time period from around 2000 to 2040, a time in which, to use Robert Hand’s vivid phrase: ‘…the past has minimum hold upon the present, but the present has a maximum hold on the future…’(iii)

We are in a unique time now: not only humanity, but the whole of Mother Earth and all her creatures great and small are suffering the pain and turbulence of increasing chaos as the old order loses its grip. But without Neptune to dissolve the deadening rigidities of Saturn past its sell-by date in any phase of civilisation or culture, life could not go on. Dissolution precedes renewal.

In the meantime, we need to cultivate qualities which do not come spontaneously to most humans, but need to be cultivated these days, probably more than ever before in our long and bloody history: humility, patience, and tolerance for one another in the face of our our many-faceted differences. Times of uncertainty create great fear, but also greater potential to renew ourselves. Let’s not forget that uncertainty can be a harsh, but profound gift – which Neptune is offering us right now.

Endnotes:

P.S. Of course, after writing this I couldn’t resist checking out Astrodienst for Karl Jaspers’ horoscope, and there it was, as I had suspected, right up there in the tenth house in Taurus: Saturn conjunct Neptune, focal point of a grand trine with Moon/Uranus in Virgo and Venus in Capricorn. Maybe we should all be reading him!

(i) From The Mountain AstrologerContemplating the 12th House: An Optimist’s Take on Self-Undoing,” by Anne Whitaker, in the Aug/Sept. 2014 issue.

(ii) From aeon.com (11.9.20) , an essay by Carmen Lea Dege who is currently writing a book on the theory and practice of uncertainty.

(iii) From “The Astrology of Crisis” Llewellyn Publications 1993, p116

(This post is a slightly edited version of my 31st Not the Astrology Column featured in the November/December 2020 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

Tiamat Vs Marduk.

Tiamat Vs Marduk.(Christian Johnson) reddit.com

1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Waxing and waning crescent phases – heralds of the future…

I first encountered the late, great mundane astrologer Charles Harvey when he gave a lecture in Glasgow in the early 1980s. At that point I was grappling with the intricacies of chart calculation (yes, folks, there was an era when we had no option but to do that manually!) and learning the basics of interpretation. I was then only dimly aware of the profound significance of planetary cycles and their bearing on our collective and personal lives.

One hour in that lecture theatre with Charles, quite simply, threw open a door for me to hitherto unknown, compelling territory where – to quote Charles quoting Plato (something he was very fond of doing) ‘Time is the flowing image of Eternity’: with the planets in their never-ending cycles being the instruments of Time. I have never forgotten that first introduction; fascination for the timing and wisdom planetary cycles have to offer has deepened as my personal time has unfolded.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”.(i) Whether the cycle is huge, like the 500 year Neptune/Pluto one, or small, like the monthly Sun/Moon one, the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new.

In considering the unfolding of any cycle, we can’t do better than to use the symbolic template of the monthly 29.5 days Sun/Moon cycle – easily observable in the night sky above us to guide us in our reflections, actions, and choices.

The crescent moon, first indication that the energies of a New Moon are beginning to take form in the world, does not appear until two or three days into the cycle. As a rule of thumb, that is around one twelfth of the whole 29.5 day period.

From that first encounter with Charles’ inspiring perspective, over the years of continuing to work with clients’ and students’ horoscopes as well as my own, I became increasingly fascinated with the developmental significance of the first and final twelfths of any cycle (equivalent to the waxing and waning crescents): not least because of the enduring fascination over millennia and all cultures, and its significance in mathematics, of the number twelve.(ii)

(I should perhaps declare the possibility of some personal bias here, though: as well as having far too many planets in the twelfth house, I was born in number twelve of the street in which my parents lived at the time!)

I slowly began to notice that the ending/balsamic/twelfth house phase of an old cycle seemed to carry clues – seeds – in an individual’s horoscope regarding what the major themes arising in the new one might be. Recently, it has occurred to me that one can apply this principle to the very much larger cycles of collective life too, something about which I am currently writing at some length.

Focusing for the moment on the opening twelfth of personal cycles, the one which ‘delivers’ most clearly is the 29/30 year Saturn cycle. I’ve seen innumerable examples over the years, of how the most significant changes which were decisively to shape someone’s life thereafter, appeared more clearly in the two or three years post Saturn Return, than in the year of the Return itself.(iii)

In my own case, I changed career, becoming an unqualified social worker on my Saturn Return. In the subsequent two to three years I qualified in my new profession, met my future husband – and began seriously to investigate astrology.

I had a bafflingly accurate horoscope reading in my late twenties following a chance encounter in a launderette in Bath, Somerset during the twelfth house phase of my first Saturn cycle: this shook my scepticism (based on the usual ignorance) to the core, sowing seeds of which I was then completely unaware which would later grow into a career of nearly forty years’ duration.

My previous column mused on the conundrum in which we are currently held this year, metaphorically speaking: the new Saturn/Pluto cycle which will force us to re-define how we live as a human collective has only just begun.

But two Jupiter/Saturn cycles – one of twenty years, the other of over two hundred years concluding the Jupiter/Saturn series through the Earth Element since 1803 – have yet to end, with a dramatic flourish at the winter solstice of 2020.

The 2000 to 2020 final Jupiter/Saturn cycle in Earth can be seen as the twelfth house phase of the long cyclic journey which began in 1803, as the Industrial Revolution started gaining the momentum which has totally transformed how we live on Planet Earth.

The first significant event of that 2000/2020 cycle, which took place at the ‘crescent moon’ stage, can be seen as 9/11, the terrorist attack taking down New York’s Twin Towers on 11 September 2001 which has resulted in a hugely disruptive re-ordering of geo-political structures right across the globe.

The other major world-changer which began to accelerate from 2000 has been the massive rise of a computer and smartphone-expedited inter-connected world.

Ever since Saturn moved into Aquarius in late March 2020, and lockdown has spread to varying degrees across the map in our collective struggle to contain the covid 19 epidemic, we have seen the seeds of a new world order emerge with the massive rise and spread of internet platforms such as Zoom.

It’s a very difficult time to be a human –  and the best break the planet has ever had from our increasingly destructive activities. 

I’m finding it useful to regard the first twenty year Jupiter/Saturn cycle in Air from Winter Solstice 2020 to Hallowe’en 2040 ( WHO chose those dates?!) as the emerging ‘crescent moon’ phase of a very long cycling of Jupiter/Saturn through the Air element.

This suggests the need for us as a human community to learn patience and humility in the face of the regulating planetary cycles which have been symbolically pointing out two very significant things to which we should be paying close attention.

One, we have come to the end of a whole way of living on Planet Earth which has become increasingly unsustainable by any of the creatures inhabiting it. Two, it is going to take us at least the next twenty years, realistically, to re-shape our world into a new order which hopefully will be an improvement.

This will be led by an emerging generation of young folks whose ideals, on the whole, seem to be more collective and environmentally responsible than the materialistic baby-boomers of my generation whose race is almost run…

Endnotes

i) The Bible: Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Verse 1 King James Version (KJV)

ii) https://gnosticwarrior.com/meaning-of-the-number-12.html

iii) For an in-depth article related to this topic, see “Shadow Transits – A Hidden Forecasting Tool” by Frank Clifford: https://www.astro.com/astrology/tma_article150504_e.htm

(This post is a slightly edited version of my 29th Not the Astrology Column featured in the July/August 2020 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

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1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Some thoughts on Secondary Progressions…stepping into Mystery…

From the time I discovered Secondary Progressions as a Faculty of Astrological Studies student in the 1980s, they have fascinated me. This fascination was amplified as I slowly became an experienced astrology teacher, using my classes (as you do) for the brilliant qualitative research opportunities ‘on the hoof’  that they undoubtedly provide.

Standing Stone at Samhain
 Standing Stone at Samhain

When you first go round a class of a dozen students, tracking their Suns changing signs by secondary progression, discovering their corresponding life changes as well as your own, it does rather cause you to scratch your head – after you and your students have come down from the sheer buzz of it all – and ask 

“But why does astrology work ?And why does a purely symbolic technique like SPs seem to work too ?” 

My aim here is to offer a personal reflection on Secondary Progressions, sharing my clients’ experiences of those mysterious symbolic tools, as well as my own. My observations are also offered to experienced practitioners in such a way that they can take a moment: to step back from their astro-toolkit and be freshly awestruck by the essential Mystery which SPs evoke.

Most of all, I’d like to intrigue and inspire readers who are fairly new to astrology to begin their own journey into this misty, awesome territory.

To read the whole of this essay, first published in the UK’s Astrological Journal in 2017 and The Mountain Astrologer magazine in 2018, click the link below:

Secondary Progressions: April – May 2019

Standing Stone at SamhainStanding Stone at Samhain

250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Some thoughts on yet another Ophiuchus astrology-bashing episode …

Well, it’s been a week! At the moment of writing, I suspect that my esteemed colleague and UK’s Astrological Journal editor Victor Santo Olliver is lying down in a dark room with a wet cloth on his forehead, recovering from no less than twelve radio interviews in the space of a few days, all devoted in essence to explaining why Ophiuchus is not and never has been a zodiacal sign.

If you have been hiding in a damp cave somewhere far away with no access to social media and have therefore not been exposed to the huge pointless fuss, first of all this short piece of mine from a previous Ophiuchus-fest will give you the bare facts of the matter. You may also wish to read a much longer, more erudite article by respected astrologer Deborah Houlding going into the issue in more depth.

Next, do read this Press Gazette piece in which Victor is quoted, which should give you some insight into the media’s generally hardening attitude towards astrology and the reasons for this.

I left a comment on Victor’s Facebook Page where he’d shared the above article, to the effect that what he had said was as ever, clear, accurate and to the point. I then went away and thought about the whole issue of why this especially frenetic attack by the media – producing many, many articles by a range of astrologers refuting what was being said – had flared up at this time.

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts, with thanks to Victor for stimulating them:

In this time of uncertainty and fear we are living through, I can understand why in general terms the media are trying to root out inaccurate misrepresentation –or fake news – which is dangerous in the political and cultural sphere. However, it seems clear that using this as an opportunity yet again to attack astrology is just another example of the left brain versus right brain cultural wars which have intensified ever since the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

A long-term problem is that the left brain cohort have never taken the trouble to investigate the large differences that exist between two discrete types of astrology. The ‘astrology lite’ of the popular press – at its best! – is well written by intelligent and thoughtful people and helps to put the lives of we small individuals into the context of a meaningful bigger picture, if only for a few moments of reflection in a busy day.

This astrology fronts a deeper, more powerful in-depth practice requiring years of study and practice to master at any useful level; It has a 6000 + year old tradition upon which to draw in terms of observation of the interaction between our solar system and the collective/ individual lives of the humans who inhabit it.

However, the standard bearers of the left brain cohort e.g. Dawkins and Cox, have never taken the trouble to embark on any in-depth study which would reveal the power and value of that astrology which lies behind its popular mask.

I was an astrology dismisser myself many years ago, until I took the trouble to embark on some serious study of the art and science which is astrology (since its major strength lies in combining right and left brain perspectives on the human condition) and have been a practitioner ever since. Until ignorant and prejudiced people decide to exhibit a little humility in properly investigating a deep and powerful field of knowledge before dismissing it, I fear we astrologers are not going to make any progress in reducing the increasing levels of prejudice which are being directed against us.

My own personal approach to this, and I know it is the approach of many fellow astrologers whose work I respect, is to ‘hold the line’ as it were by demonstrating through respectful, ethical, and well-informed and trained practice, an in-depth astrology which has been helpful and enlightening to innumerable numbers of people throughout history.

I think that engaging with an increasingly polarised and nasty public debate on this is pretty futile; all we can usefully do is set a good example by quality practice, as I have said above.

However, in the spirit of exchanging views, agreeing to differ, and not vilifying one another in the process, I realise that not everyone shares this view!

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Mercury Retro front line: status report…

Yes, well, much though I have learned over many years to use the three Mercury Retrograde periods per year to re-vise, re-visit, re-draft, re-vitalise (well, maybe not totally …) re-cover (eg  from previous Mercury Retrogrades) and any other re- you can think of, nevertheless I can never quite get over that mild shudder of not entirely excited anticipation when I see another one sidling up over the mercurial horizon.

18 June 2020 is day 1 of Mercury retrograding from 14 Cancer back to 5 Cancer. He then turns direct on that degree on 12 July 2020 but does not catch up with himself at 14 Cancer until 26th July 2020.

So – all of us with a strong Mercury signature in our birth horoscopes: eg Mercury ruling any of the four Angles of the horoscope but especially the Ascendant, conjunct any planets or Nodes, and with any planets, Angles or Nodes between around 10-20 degrees of Aries/Cancer/Libra/Capricorn, are going to feel the effects.

Pay especial attention to the houses involved. eg if you have the Sun at around 10-20 Cancer in the seventh house, do not expect straightforward clarity in your dealings with significant others during this time…( to put it mildly…)

I am a most Mercurial person, with Mercury ruling my Virgo Ascendant, conjunct Saturn, Pluto, Venus and the Moon, exactly semi -square Uranus, exactly sextile Neptune, and widely square Jupiter in the third house. So – I have had many adventures of a Mercury Retro nature.

If you’d like to be informed and entertained by a wander through my Mercury Retro article archive, just click HERE.

So – you will be wondering by now – how was the morning of DAY ONE for me? Reader, I will tell you. Try not to laugh too hard.

This tale concerns a passport. My passport. The ten-year one which expired during the last Mercury Retrograde in February 2020. I should have known there was going to be trouble…

The build -up to the Tale of Day One was a saga in itself. It  involved my hating the photo update for my new about-to-be-applied-for passport so much that I tore it up in disgust. (I know, passport photos are BAD, but I did not wish to have to look at this especially hideous one for the next ten years) This was about two days before UK lockdown, so – no more photo shops. Oh dear, I thought. A more sensible person might have concluded that in the absence of any possibility for travelling abroad, it would make sense to put the passport idea on hold.

Not me.

I loathe bureaucracy in any form – with Mercury exactly semi-square Uranus natally, explanation is hardly needed. And I have large handwriting. So my first effort to fill in the ghastly application form failed on two counts: one, my signature touched the edge of the sacred signature box. Two, I needed a countersignature and a new passport photo.

I found a delightful photographer and together (but socially distanced, of course…) we found an outdoor blank wall against which a second, less hideous passport photo was taken. No, I’m not showing it to you.

Then she had the bright idea of adjourning to a delightful secluded little-used local hidden garden. I needed a back cover photo for my “Sixty Shades of Astro-Musing” ( title provisional)  collected essays etc book which I’m aiming to have ready for next Spring 2021. According to my Editor, the delightful but at times stern Victor Olliver ( editor of the UK’s Astrological Journal) , “This is a perfect year for pulling that book together, Anne. So do get your finger out!” …or words to that effect.

We had a brilliant photo shoot despite the quiet space being invaded by six young children and their harassed mothers, desperate to take their kids somewhere they could play outside without getting to close to one another.

So – I now have a lovely back cover photo. All I need now is actually to organise said book…

Anyway, the new form, filled in correctly, duly countersigned by a ‘person of standing’ and a signed photo stating this was indeed moi, took me right up until – you’ve probably guessed it – the day before Mercury went Retrograde.

Having established that transiting Mercury retro would be squaring my second house Neptune, I had already thought “No way am I sending this application in until end July at the earliest”. However, having fortunately re-checked the submission guidance notes ( natal Mercury and Neptune are in exact sextile, so some saving grace here!) the application had to be sent in within a month of the photo being taken. Since the photo’s signature had had to be backdated to be the same day my countersignee had signed the application form, the month was nearly up.

Given that I’d rather never go abroad again, ever, than go through the previous pantomime for a second time, I gritted my teeth. Nothing for it. I had to take the completed passport application form to the UK Post Office’s ‘check and send’ service on the first day of Mercury Retrograde.

So, yesterday morning, I triple-checked everything, even bringing a chequebook in case my bank card fell down a drain on the ten-minute walk to the local Post Office. (Retro Mercury is in a water sign, was my reasoning). I also left the house just before 10am in order to avoid the social distance queues which build up everywhere as the average day wears on.

‘Great! ‘I thought as I strolled in. No queue. Alas – there was a new person behind the perspex screen who had no idea how to do a ‘check and send’ procedure. My heart sank. After much conferring with two equally bemused looking colleagues, she announced that the fellow who knows how to do it would not be in until 12pm. Could I come back then?

So – I’m sure you can guess my thoughts as I cleared off. However, having run into a friend and her delightful little daughter playing bubble-blowing in the nearby Botanic Gardens, followed by a trip to one or two shops for necessary supplies, and a lovely socially distanced chat with my hairdresser who was in fine form as he painted his salon and tried not to laugh at my home haircut, I returned home in a pretty chilled mood to drop off shopping –  there to await High Noon and my return to the Post Office.

Walking down the street at the appointed time towards the said P.O., realisation dawned that  I had left my phone AND  banker’s card on the armchair in which I’d been sitting in our third floor bay window, enjoying a cup of tea in the morning sunshine. Swearing under my breath, I had no option but to return and collect both items.

Yes, reader, there was a queue outside. And a queue inside. However, I spotted the genial chap who had regretfully knocked back my earlier attempt during the last Mercury Retrograde. He recognised me ( I wonder why?!), waving me over to the appropriate counter.

All went wonderfully well until I stuck my current account bank card into the machine to pay the eye-watering sum it now costs to get a passport. I’d been using a different contactless card throughout months of lockdown to avoid using money – but this card could not be used for large payments.

Try as I might, I simply could not remember my current account card’s PIN. Aaaargh! There followed some moments of angst on both sides of the counter, not to mention in the queue now building up behind me. However, the lovely chap serving me eventually saved the day, having initially told me that the payment transaction now having been cancelled I’d have to go home and find my PIN number. He had already written down on the ‘check and send’ form that the payment method was by card.

Having consulted the  nitpicking instructions, though, he discovered that one scoring-out was allowed  in the labyrinthine process of application and said “Do you by any chance have a cheque book with you? I can score this payment notification out and you can write a cheque instead. ” I never thought I’d ever be happy to write a cheque for over one hundred pounds. But I was verging on the ecstatic as I handed it over. “Great,” he said happily, sealing the relevant package and tossing it into his OUT tray. “Since you’re only re-applying rather than ordering a new passport, it should be with you in three weeks or so.”

Just in time for the end of Mercury Retrograde, it would seem…

1450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

 

 

 

 

 

One cycle begins, another hasn’t ended…2020, the year of being stuck…

The moving finger writes…

The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”(i)

That opening quote from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has been running through my mind for weeks. It has such a fated Saturn/Pluto flavour…

press.uchicago.edu

press.uchicago.edu

The word Fate is derived from the Latin ‘fatum’…literally ‘thing spoken (by the gods)’, a dictat which is not negotiable. It’s an uncomfortable, awe-inspiring word, one with which humans throughout history have never managed to get comfortable, for all our contemporary cleverness and increasing technological sophistication.

Living within the bleak symbolic terms of reference of Saturn/Pluto as its new 33-year cycle gets under weigh,  tends to make us more contemplative of how far the writ runs of our ability to control very much at all.

I have just had a very brutal reminder of this. My husband Ian and I were married a few months before the November 1982 Saturn/Pluto cycle began, and he was felled on 12th January 2020, the very day of its ending, by a fatal stroke. I am grateful that he exited this life fast, with minimal suffering and very peacefully – just as he always said he wanted to go.

However, as well as coping with the shock, grief and loss, I have been processing a deep sense of awe in the face of what feels like Fate.

Having been born with (far too many!) Leo planets in the twelfth house, it has always been my way to seek creative perspective on whatever happens to me, mine and the wider world by setting personal dramas in the context of a bigger picture, if possible.

I wrote this column in the contemplative, twelfth house phase of what has been an exceptionally hard year for our planet and its occupants. The New Moon in Aries to me always signifies the true beginning of the year. In 2020 it occurred on 24th March, just after Saturn’s ingress into Aquarius on the 22nd March.

Along with many other astrologers, I have been awestruck in contemplating the symbolic drama taking shape and playing out in our tiny corner of the cosmos in the last couple of years in particular.

The Uranus/Pluto square separated at last with Uranus entering Taurus; Neptune’s ongoing transit through its own sign of Pisces eroded all kinds of boundaries, shattering our illusions of separateness and independence worldwide; Saturn/Pluto gradually claimed centre stage from 2019; and the last Jupiter/Saturn conjunction cycle in Earth for over 200 years is preparing to conclude, entering the Air element with a highly dramatic flourish – with Jupiter and Saturn meeting at the winter solstice 2020 at 0 Aquarius.

Astrologers have been aware for some years that we are going through a period of epochal change: a world turned upside down, right now by corona virus, as I sit in social isolation at my desk trying to make sense of it all.

I’ve been puzzling for some months over a contradictory symbolic picture: on the one hand, we are at the beginning stages of one of the most important, harshly challenging cycles, ie the 33-38 year Saturn/Pluto cycle; on the other, we are not only approaching the end of the 20 year Jupiter/Saturn cycle begun in Taurus in the year 2000, but the end of a whole era of that cycle’s moving through the Earth element.

This shift, ‘…the transition of the conjunction from one element to another – the ‘Mutation Conjunction’ – has always been considered to be of particular importance marking a major shift in emphasis and orientation in the world…’ (ii)

As most countries in the world struggle with the virus,  its effects and implications, the above symbolism in its contradictions seems to be describing our collective state with an eerie accuracy. World-wide events attendant upon the ending of the 1982 Saturn/Pluto cycle and the beginning of the new one in January 2020 have made it brutally clear to us as a human community that our cavalier, exploitative behaviour towards our Mother planet since the start of the Industrial Revolution has got to change if we are to survive. Business as usual is no longer an option.

In order to ram that point home to us so that we don’t return to ‘business as usual’ when the corona virus crisis passes, as we have done with previous viral outbreaks eg swine flu and the SARS epidemic, this particular virus crisis is different in scale and degree.

All our organisational systems from health to education to finance and business are being upended. Everyone is feeling the pain, one way or another. Anyone could die of this virus, even Trump or Bolsonaro. (Quiet, in the cheap seats!…)

That beginning/ending pattern suggests to me that our painful learning process, sufficiently protracted and purging that we will not (or cannot ) return to our old ways, is set to continue for quite a while to come. We have to get to the very end of the old Jupiter/Saturn order which began with the conjunction’s first venture into the earth element in 1802. That does not happen until the winter solstice of 2020. Until then, we remain in both symbolic and literal quarantine, in detention, one way or another – caught and penned in between a beginning and an ending.

However, as the Irish poet W.B. Yeats famously observed:

“…If Jupiter and Saturn meet,

What a crop of mummy wheat!…”(iii)

This rather melodramatic statement, typical of Yeats’ style and very appealing to a Leonine Celt like myself, is essentially positive.

The times we are living through for the rest of this tough year and beyond, are turbulent and pivotal as we shift from one great historical epoch to another. The shift looks likely to reset humanity’s ways of living with one another and our fellow creatures on Mother Earth.

But, as the Yeats quote so vividly states, out of the decay of the old order comes vibrant new growth. So – let’s all grit our teeth, be stoical, start where we are and do what we can to help effect the change that needs to come.

Saturn is now in Aquarius. Let the symbolism inspire us!

Endnotes

(i) This line originates in English in Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the poem ‘The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam’, 1859

(ii) Baigent, Campion and Harvey in “Mundane Astrology” (publ. 1984, 1992,1995), p185, who also describe the conjunction as ‘…the ground base of human development which marks the interaction between perception of ideas, potentialities (Jupiter) and their manifestation in the concrete world.’( Saturn) (p184)

(iii) This quotation is from the first verse of  ‘ Conjunctions’ from one of W. B. Yeats’s most obscure collections of poems, the “Supernatural Songs.”

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(This post is a slightly edited version of my 28th Not the Astrology Column featured in the May/June 2020 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

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press.uchicago.edu

press.uchicago.edu

1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Part 2: More on the Moon’s Nodes…

Well, as they say, it has been a week! Mine peaked – or troughed – late on Friday afternoon just after I had posted Part 1 and shared it on my Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page, when Facebook locked me completely out of my whole Facebook account, allegedly ‘to protect the security of our community’. You are my readers: do you think you need protection from me? (answers, on a plain postcard…)

Anyway, cutting a very long and tortuous story short, a saga ensued which involved utterly futile attempts to find an appropriate route through algorithmic obfuscations. In the end, my third email to the source of the previous (algorithmic) ones must have been so pungent (not rude, just pungent) that my account was suddenly restored late last night. I was most relieved, since I had been expecting a long haul – in keeping with two similar episodes in the last year – before what passes for normal service was restored.

Judging from the comments left on Part 1, both on my own blog/astrology Facebook Page and on the Pages of colleagues who kindly shared the post, there has indeed been a lightening of mood with some of us consequent upon this shift; an increase in matters communicative and educational/philosophically reflective in others; and, like me, downright disruption, despite which I too feel a lightening of mood this week. This has modified my feelings of exasperation and of being overwhelmed by matters Gemini/Sagittarius!

Back to  Basics

This variation in responses and experiences neatly leads into a reminder of some basic principles, also reiterated by Dr Liz Greene in her second webinar on Chiron which I attended yesterday (9th May 2020): when considering the likely impact of any transit, including the Nodes, you need to remember that the transit invokes the basic nature and strength of the original pattern in the natal horoscope, bringing it into relationship with whatever opportunities/challenges the current transit is offering. 

My own horoscope will serve as a case in point, but readers can easily apply the same principles to their own horoscopes and current transits. I’ve used a Whole Sign format for the houses.

(I’m assuming readers have a basic familiarity with what the Nodal Axis represents. For those who do not, here is a quick summary.)

Anne W Horoscope

Anne W Horoscope

As can be seen, the Nodal Axis is bolted exactly onto the MC/IC axis in the ninth/third houses, very appropriate for a career which has always involved teaching and education in one form or another: all the way from teaching Liberal Studies to bricklayers and gas fitters, through to university entrance qualifications in English to mature students, and thereafter to supervision of social work trainees, and latterly via astrology classes to any and every occupation – from bus driving to psychiatric consultancy.

When you add in that powerful pattern’s being part of a fixed T-Square with the twelfth House Sun/Moon conjunction, also taking in third house Jupiter in Scorpio widely conjunct the IC/South Node, you can see the powerful symbolic role played in the unfolding path of my life’s journey by the Moon’s Nodes. I’ve even written a research study about them!

So – it’s hardly surprising that their shift this week has been very challenging for me. In addition to circumstances already described in Part 1, I’ve been having one of my periodic “What am I supposed to be doing with the rest of my life/ I need some new input!! ” Mercury/Jupiter crises. You’d think at my age I’d have settled that one. No such luck…

The Nodes’ journey through the natal chart

The stronger the links are, then, between natal planets and Angles with the Nodal axis, the more powerfully we will experience the symbolic impact of that axis as it regresses through our horoscopes, taking 18 months to go through each sign and house – pulling the potent twice yearly eclipse seasons with it – taking 18-19 years to return to its natal position. It will bring the core challenges of that natal pattern along to whatever sign, house and planetary aspects it happens to be making in that 18-19 year journey.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Nodal shift into Gemini/Sagittarius and my tenth/fourth houses has already brought up powerful issues centring round having to balance the demands of domestic and vocational life. With the North Node conjunct the MC strongly pushing me to favour my vocational path, I’ve always been dragged back, usually unwillingly, to the South Node/IC position to deal with domestic matters from which I was unable to escape. It’s taken me decades to arrive at a reasonable balance between those two poles.

As I pointed out some time ago in The Moon’s Nodes in Action’:

‘…Identifying with the South Node position too strongly means leading a life which depends on using the abilities we already have to keep us safe from risk, challenge and therefore growth; whose main priority is comfort; whose mode is a habitual and largely automatic response to life.

Taking up the challenge of the North Node, on the other hand, brings with it a life which feels meaningful and open to new experience; which takes opportunities to develop innate talents and new insights and skills through responding positively to the impetus for change; whose mode is of acceptance of conflict and discomfort as a necessary part of developing as a person.

At the heart of the fullest, most creative expression of the struggle both collectively and individually lies a deep paradox – to move on as human beings we must individuate, follow the path of the North Node, and leave the South Node behind. But we must also make the return journey, to honour that which we ideally do not leave behind at all, but incorporate in our movement towards our own destiny…’ (i)

This personal example serves to illustrate a vital point about the Nodal Axis which applies to us all. We have to honour the challenges of the whole axis as our life path unfolds…

The current Nodal picture

Along with many of us, I’ve found the Nodal Axis’ transit through Cancer/Capricorn, crossing Saturn/Pluto in mid 2019 along the way, to be especially painful in terms of family, loss, and having to restructure life in ways that I would definitely not have chosen. No wonder the Moon’s Nodes, especially when they link with Pluto, have such a fated ‘feel’ to them. This was certainly one of the stand-out conclusions at which I arrived as a result of my own research into the Nodes.

I do not need to remind any of us of what a battering our world community has taken from the winter of 2018/9 as the Nodes have regressed through Cancer/Capricorn, culminating in the rise and spread of the grim pandemic now engulfing the world as the Nodal Axis shifts. Through the corona virus, our planet seems to be telling us in no uncertain terms that we need to radically change the way we live on planet Earth.

It’s fascinating to me as an astrologer (and I’m sure many other astrologers also think the same thing) that the shift of the Nodes into Gemini/Sagittarius has co-incided with several distinctive collective shifts. Here are just a few examples: One, the restlessness and desire to ease lockdown which is becoming more manifest in different countries despite the risk that certainly poses. Humans can only endure severe restriction for so long. We are too restless as a species, and this particular Nodal shift is amplifying that restlessness.

Also noticeable has been that the international search for a vaccine which would gradually bring us greater freedom has been ramping up, producing some promising results eg in the UK where human trials have already begun.

Furthermore at a more negative level for humans, though beneficial for the planet, has been the dawning of a realisation coming into clear focus now: the aviation industry, that supreme ally of human restlessness, is in severe trouble. We may never again be able to take to the air and see the world in the same relatively cheap and carefree way that we’ve come to take for granted in recent decades…

In conclusion– something else which strikes me as apt, and significant, is the North Node’s current presence in airy Gemini, midwifing the Air era beginning at this year’s winter solstice with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction’s dramatic arrival at 0 degrees of Aquarius. We are going to need the adaptability of Gemini and the optimism and vision of Sagittarius as we step into the great collective adventure of the next two hundred years!

Endnotes

(i) The Moon’s Nodes in Action’: p15

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Nodes enter Gemini/Sagittarius …communication goes nuts!

Honestly, I wasn’t going to bother writing about the Nodes’ ingress into Gemini/Sagittarius…until it happened on the morning of Tuesday 5th May 2020 (if you go by the True Node – more on this later) during the first formal zoom tutorial with my student group.

Immediately following this my week exploded into a flurry of admin, dealing with annoying domestic detail, numerous phone calls at inconvenient moments eg when I was struggling to make sense of my tax return, zoom chats, teaching – and group participation via two seminars, one on Saturday planned for some time, the other on Sunday, arising from a zoom meeting with a friend and colleague today. This upcoming weekend is suddenly full of zoom, zoom, and more zoom!

I haven’t been feeling hugely inspired of late, but the extraordinary ramping up of all things Gemini/Sagittarius in my life this week with the Nodes’ shift from Cancer/Capricorn has truly got me going. This shift places the North Node in my tenth house, South Node in the fourth house; my week has been characterised thus far by considerable frustration as I struggled to free myself from the grip of admin etc etc centred on matters concerning my domestic life, in order to follow the promptings of the North Node in the tenth and get on with writing my A A Journal column and another piece of writing still gestating.

The manifestations of this shift for me were so striking that I really feel inspired once again to return to reflecting on the Moon’s Nodes, and in this post, on the significance of  ingresses. Planetary ingresses (entries) into signs have fascinated me ever since I began to study astrology and to realise the striking correlation between newspaper headlines on the day after a planet had shifted from one sign to another, and events in the wider world. At one time I had a whole file full of dramatic press cuttings illustrating this eg a photograph of the Japanese city of Kobe on fire following a massive earthquake on 17th January 1995 – just as Pluto shifted into Sagittarius.

But what of ingresses which are not planetary, ie the ingresses of the Moon’s Nodes which we are discussing here? Is it worth paying attention to these points of ingress in personal life? Or collective life? Have you had any striking experiences this week illustrating the energetic shift of the Nodes from one pair of signs to another? Has your mood lightened ( despite lockdown) in response to the Nodal shift from water and earth (Cancer/Capricorn) to air and fire (Gemini/Sagittarius)?

I’d be interested in my readers’ thoughts on this topic, whilst I write in some more detail about the Moon’s Nodes in general, and in Gemini/Sagittarius, for next week.

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On the Taurus New Moon: Holy Dharma with Heron…

After enjoying a beautiful sunny late Spring day, my spirits have just been further lifted by a most wonderful sight just after sunset: the gorgeous silvery crescent of the New Moon in Taurus, with Venus, Taurus’ ruling planet, close by. 

A very striking aspect of our current lockdown has been how, in a variety of ways, we have been turning back to the natural world for comfort. I cannot believe how many people I saw on my daily walk today who were out tending normally unruly and neglected looking local gardens. I’ve been especially enjoying the joyful singing of  the many species of birds on our local area: I think they’re celebrating the lack of traffic and cleaner air…

Tonight I was thinking about birds, and suddenly remembered this piece I had written some years ago, in celebration of the heron, one of my favourites. It seems apt to share it with you on this waxing Taurus New Moon, as we turn back to Nature, our mother, for comfort in these dark and difficult times: 

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

“…I love herons. Their elegance: long, lean, streamlined curves over water, poised, waiting. Their focus: totally in the moment, poised, waiting….to strike sharp and swift. I love their languid flight: long wings lazily beating, slow concentrated strength and grace.

I live in Glasgow, Scotland – UK city with the most green space. My flat overlooks the river Kelvin which flows through the West End’s Botanic Gardens. On the riverbank, throughout the Gardens, all kinds of wildlife abound: amongst the over-fed pigeons and importunate grey squirrels the occasional kingfisher, an otter once seen on Boxing Day, sometimes a cormorant or two – and several herons taking up favourite positions along the river bank.

The fish ladder by the weir is a choice spot of theirs. Another pitch is partly concealed by vegetation, right below the Humpbacked Bridge leading to steep steps rising to the upper, more cultivated part of the Botanic Gardens.

Most days, I take a well-travelled route down from my house – crossing the Humpbacked Bridge, up the steps, through the Botanics past the Kibble Palace. This splendid circular, domed Victorian glass house hosts fine sculptures, elegant glass panels, a well-stocked pond – with some very old fishy friends adept at dodging the coins and wishes raining down on them on a regular basis – and a wonderfully displayed selection of plants and flowers from many parts of the world. It is a local jewel.

Strolling around those familiar, well-loved landmarks, I always enjoy occasional sightings of the heron. We can never decide how many herons there are of the same age and appearance. Maybe we are seeing the same one, over and over? Conversations like this weave together a very disparate, loose group of park regulars of all ages with a variety of views and opinions about the Botanic Gardens’ wild creatures. But the heron is a favourite; we always report sightings to one another.

We are inured to plentiful rain and bad weather as the default position for our local climate; stepping out into a pleasant, crisp, sunny morning  is therefore an immediate delight, especially with the Botanics emerging into the full glory of Spring.

Whilst appreciating this beautiful morning, my head was also full of the usual thought traffic as I contemplated the day ahead. The Buddhists speak the truth: we are only ever partly here. In each waking moment of our short, precious lives, we are usually distracted by something or other from being fully present. Thus we rarely savour fully the Holy Dharma of this very moment which will never come again.

Suddenly, my attention was totally focused on a sight I had never seen before. The heron was perched in full view, half way along the left-hand side of the Humpbacked Bridge!

I  stopped dead.   “Should I stay watching right here, or try to creep closer?” I wondered, full of excitement and apprehension. Deciding on the latter option, I tiptoed very very slowly onto the eight-foot wide bridge, veering to the right in order to edge along the opposite side of the bridge to the heron.

The wild creature seemed absorbed in his own surveillance operation, long elegant neck moving slowly from side to side, eyes glinting in the morning light reflected off the quietly flowing river. Whether he had spotted me or not, he was paying me no attention. Barely able to believe my luck, I inched along  extremely quietly until – to my great amazement – I was level. We were only a bridge width apart. Never in my life before had I been so close to such a large wild bird.

The morning was still. The heron, briefly, was still. I was still. The Holy Dharma moved with the air currents across the bridge, the heron and me. All was One.

Japanese Heron Painting

Japanese Heron Painting

Hours might have passed. It was probably less than a minute. I caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of my left eye. A slender young man dressed all in black, carrying a rucksack, i-pods in his ears, was rapidly approaching the bridge. Stealthily, I crept forward a couple of feet, heading off the bridge toward the steps, still hugging the side opposite the heron. He still didn’t budge. For a fleeting moment I thought “Anne, that wild creature is tuned to you. He can feel your goodwill….” Then the rationalist dismissed such a thought. Still….

The young man was about to step through the gate onto the bridge. I held my finger to my lips, indicating silence; with my other hand palm up,  I signalled to stop, waving him over to my side of the bridge – hoping this unknown young man might share a rare experience. But he ignored me. As he marched past us the heron took off, winging his lazy languid way downriver. Waving goodbye, I stood for a moment – partly watching the heron, partly watching the young man’s back as he tramped up the stairs.

In that moment I truly felt the force of life’s duality: on the one hand, such gratitude and joy that the heron and I had shared a pure, holy moment of Oneness. On the other, deep sadness that the young man, shut in with his technology, had missed it. Carl Jung’s comment, which comes to me often, came to me then: “Our task in this life is to reconcile the opposites”…..

….and a ps to this story….a couple of weeks later, I was strolling home through the Botanics by the river Kelvin on my way home, having spent the afternoon at my office.There on the riverbank, in  places where I had never seen them before, were – to my amazement and delight – two herons….”

Endnotes

This is a slightly edited version of a post which first appeared on this blog in 2015.

Japanese Heron Painting

Japanese Heron Painting

1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Saturn/Pluto at Easter Eve…

This is our first Easter since the unfolding, relentless Saturn/Pluto cycle which began on 12th January 2020. The archetypal story of suffering, crucifixion, death – and rebirth, let us not forget! –  which is at the core of the Easter message, feels profoundly appropriate now as our human community travels the dark night of the current corona virus crisis. At present we have no idea of when, or how, we will emerge. So we wait, and hope…

Here are my thoughts, which I first wrote at Easter Eve some years ago. They seem even more apt now:

Iona Cross, Full Moon, August 21 2013

Iona Cross, Full Moon

photo: Anne Whitaker

“…There is a stillness about Easter Eve. Whether you are Christian, hold another faith, or none, the underlying archetypes of the Easter journey are common to all human experience.

We have all, unless we have led a supremely charmed life, been cast out into the wilderness at one time or another. Life has crucified us all, to a greater or lesser extent. We have been in the Underworld, have known what it is like to go through experiences so severe that we die to our old selves. Then there is the wait, the wait in darkness, fear, and not knowing.

Will we ever emerge, reborn? And when we do emerge, who are we now? Who recognises us, acknowledges and honours where we have been?

And the most profound  question of all: what should we do with the life which has been given back to us?

As ever, in times of waiting, the great poets have been there before us, giving a context, bringing collective dignity to our individual struggles. Here are some magnificent lines from T.S.Eliot to see you through this dark night, before the Easter light returns:

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” …” (i)

Endnotes

(i) from T.S.Eliot ‘s “East Coker” No 2 of  The Four Quartets

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Iona Cross, Full Moon

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