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!
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!
(...this essay can be found on p 20 of my new book ‘Postcards to the Future’, published Autumn 2021 and available everywhere from Amazon, includingAmazon UK. There are 59 other “Mercurial Musings” to choose from! Enjoy…)
Anyone who has ever written a regular column will know that there are times when inspiration is – not to put too fine a point on it – notable by its absence. At other times, so many ideas are flying around that catching one by the tail to pin it down is, to say the least, tricky. And – you never know, as the last deadline is met and you can now relax for a few weeks – which set of conditions is going to prevail the next time.
So, Reader, there I was, new deadline appearing over the horizon, and…nada. Nix. No–thing. At all. Braincell dry as an old chewed-up bone. In this situation there are generally two options: blind panic – or blind faith. I have six fiery planets. This is often a curse, let me tell you, but in the matter of column deadlines, it is a blessing. So, armed with nothing but blind faith, I headed for the office.
To pass time sitting on the bus, I check my phone. Ahah – there’s a message on Messenger. A colleague is beginning a new project for the international company he works for, an unusual company where his boss is an astrology appreciator. He is making a podcast series on Turning Points: asking people to talk for five minutes on the one decision which changed their lives forever. He is inviting me to contribute.
“Ping!!” went the braincell, hit by a mini bolt of inspiration. I had my topic. I’d ruminate on what it was that inspired me to take up, and continue, the long-term study and practice of astrology. That decision certainly changed MY life forever.
So – what was it ?
Was it my youthful awe as I watched the Northern Lights enacting their glorious colourful dance, just above the skyline near our house? Perhaps it was lying cosy in bed, listening to the roaring gales of January tearing the world apart – wondering what the Power was behind that raging wind. Was it the growing excitement, as I grew up, of being able to spot familiar constellations in the clear, unpolluted night skies of my native island?
Or – maybe the Fates had already decided, leaving me a clue to be decoded many years later, via the placement of Uranus, the astrologers’ planet, at 25 Degrees of Gemini, in the tenth house of my natal horoscope?
I have recently been revisiting the significance of the placement of Uranus’ discovery degree, ie 24 degrees 27 minutes Gemini,(i) in the horoscopes of those drawn to the practice of astrology. A dip into my horoscope collection, lifting out three male and three female birth charts, found that all six prominent astrologers chosen have this degree either conjunct, square or opposite natal planets, Nodes or Angles: the lately deceased and much-missed Donna Cunningham, Michel Gauquelin, Liz Greene, Isabel Hickey, Johannes Kepler and Noel Tyl. (ii)
Johannes Kepler Asc 24 deg 25 mins Gemini
Furthermore, when I was 27 years old, progressed Sun crossed asteroid Urania, placed at 19 degrees of Virgo in my first house, square tenth house Uranus. That year, as mentioned in an earlier column, I had a totally random encounter with a pair of astrologers who predicted my future astrological career.
So – did I choose that career or did I come in with it already chosen? Was it Fate, or free will? We will, of course, never be able to answer that question. MY conclusion, hardly stunningly original, is that we dance to the tune of both. There are times when the power of Fate feels strongly present. Other times, the unglamorous wrestle with inertia, poor judgement, and other ills to haul our lives into a reasonably satisfying shape feels very strongly to be determined mainly by our own conscious efforts.
In the latter case, a major ingredient in the shaping process, in my opinion, is the power of inspiration. At twenty-four years of age (second Jupiter Return, anyone?!) I was fortunate enough to have what I later realised was a mystical experience, something which has continued to inspire me. This may well have created a spiritual backdrop for the subsequent encounter with astrology as foreground; when I met those astrologers I was going through a crisis involving wondering what, after all, my life was FOR…not an uncommon state for one’s late twenties!
Their accurate reading inspired me to investigate astrology further, initially via the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies. On discovering that I, too, could produce accurate and affirming feedback from those strange marks on a piece of paper which seemed helpful to people trying to understand themselves better, I was hooked. For the rest of my life.
Astrology has continued to inspire because it continues to challenge me. It challenges me because we are working with living energies, patterns whose essential meanings we have established over millennia, but whose manifestations are endless and only partly predictable. Despite decades of experience, I still get that tight anxious feeling before every new client I see, being very aware of my responsibility at least to do no harm, at best to help the person before me see their life in a more constructive, bigger context.
I am, of course, always curious to find out what inspires people to engage with astrology – and to keep going once they get there. There is an occasional series running on my blog, in which astrologers tell their interesting, unusual tales of inspiration and – of course! – an inevitable amount of perspiration…
Want to share your story? Go on…
First published in Dell Horoscope Magazine ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ (from the January/February 2018 Issue), this essay can be found on p 20 of ‘Postcards to the Future‘, published Autumn 2021 and available everywhere from Amazon, including Amazon UK. There are 59 other “Mercurial Musings” to choose from!Enjoy…
One of the delights – and mild horrors – of writing a regular column to a deadline is that you never know from whence arriveth inspiration (feeling a trifle mediaeval this afternoon, forsooth…) – or if it will arrive at all: always the worst case scenario hovering as the deadline looms.
However, inspiration arrived in response to another deadline, two days before I was due to appear on Christina Rodenbeck’s popular The Oxford Astrologer’s regular Members’ Sunday slot on 12th September 2021, to discuss and promote my new book of essays, columns, articles and research
In addition to discussing the book’s content, Christina suggested we reflect on … ‘…the broad sweep of astrology in your time writing about it…’ Hmmm, I thought. Big topic.
The starting place
But it got me going…to hunt out the first thing I’d ever written – as far as I can remember – on the topic of astrology. And I found it:AA Summer School Report 1-5 June 1987…
‘…Titled ON BEING AND BECOMING AN ASTROLOGER, this year’s Summer School offered a varied range of experience from inner personal contemplation to consideration of the likely General Election result…’
This piece was re-published in my column in Journal as part of the 60 year celebrations for the AA in 2018. It made me smile to read what I had written in that 1987 report, rather tentatively, about computers and astrology. As I wrote in 2018:
‘…Few of us on that course had the slightest clue that astrologers, like everyone else, were merely tapping on a door which would shortly swing open to reveal an entirely new landscape of global interconnectedness which – for both good and ill – has already drawn in much of the population of planet Earth…’
One very personal memory strikes me as clearly illustrating that early entry into the entirely new landscape described in the above quote, which has revolutionised the world of astrology along with every other facet of our lives ever since.
It was around the mid to late1980s. I was sitting at our kitchen table in Glasgow chatting over morning coffee to our guest, USA astrologer Tad Mann, who had come up from London to talk to the Glasgow Astrology Group of which I was a committee member at that time. Suddenly Tad produced from the inside pocket of his jacket an object which looked like an elongated pocket calculator. It was, in fact, an early astrology calculator, into which he tapped my date, place and time of birth, and pressed a couple of buttons. I watched, fascinated.
Things got even more interesting. From another pocket he produced a small, square grey gadget which he proceeded to plug into the side of the calculator. Setting them both on the table, Tad then pressed another couple of buttons. The small square grey gadget was in fact a mini printer. A piece of paper looking exactly like a till receipt soon emerged – complete with all my horoscope data: Asc, MC, planets, Nodes and aspects. I was entranced. ‘I want one of these!!’ Not long afterwards, the (rather pricey) set duly arrived from the company in the USA which Tad had recommended.
Shortly after that, I was to be found sitting happily on a stall at a local Alternative Health event, doing 15 minute mini readings for clients from those very pieces of paper. ‘How on earth can you give me an accurate summary of my character from that till receipt thingie?’ I remember one client asking. ‘It’s the shape of things to come!’ I cheerfully replied, not realising just how true that comment was to prove.
From typewriting to computing
So – the broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about it has taken me from sitting bashing out notes and reports from hand-drawn horoscopes on my old Brother manual typewriter, Tippex to hand, all the way to using highly sophisticated computer programmes which will, quite simply, do everything we need to do as astrologers. From instant push-a-button birth charts to all varieties of prognosticatory options both technical and interpretive, anyone from the very green amateur to the sophisticated professional can have any kind of software they wish, dependent on their finances and predilections. (I still lament the recent demise of the wonderful Io software which I had used since acquiring my first Mac computer in 1995).
The arrival of sophisticated computer technology has been a wonderful gift, also, to all writers – including astro-writers like myself. Apart from personal journals and diaries, which I still prefer to handwrite in aesthetically pleasing, arty books, I haven’t handwritten anything of a short or extended nature, for years.
Another revolution, too, has recently begun, as the larger planetary cycles have graphically shown in recent years. Amongst other astro-writers, I have had much commentary published on the implications of the transition from the 1803-2020 Earth Era to the newAir Era into which we shifted on the Winter Solstice of 2020. On that very day, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction’s arrival at 0 Aquarius announced the formative 20 year cycle’s settling into the Air element for the next 200 years or so. As we all know, that huge shift announced its presence through an air-borne virus triggering a global pandemic which has upended life on Planet Earth in just about every way possible since 2020.
Taking to the Airwaves : new approaches emerging
Astrology has taken to the air in a really big way. Platforms like zoom have enabled astro-education, astro-groups, astro-readings, and all kinds of astro-chat: wonderfully connective of members of our community to one another. Those and other social media platforms have enabled fatuous, divisive, misleading, and damaging as well as helpful, supportive and enlightening dialogue. It is, as someone observed ‘ …the Wild West out there…’
The broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about, practising and teaching our great subject has also seen the ebb and flow of dominant fashions, and the taking up of varying positions, within our world-wide community. When I started out, psychological astrology was clearly on the ascendant as the revival of astrology during the Sixties and Seventies ( but begun much earlier by the work of eg Dane Rudhyar) moved us away from the doom-laden fatalism of earlier times to the notion that astrology did not describe a world where humans were pinned to the board of Fate like butterflies.
We did in fact, said psychological astrology, have some negotiating room within symbolic energies which could and did express themselves differently depending on the level of conscious awareness individuals brought to their lives.
In recent years we have had the rise and increasing popularity of evolutionary astrology, as well as the revival of traditional astrology which has been reclaiming and refreshing approaches going back many centuries – recasting those perspectives for contemporary practitioners and audiences. There has also increasingly been much more liaison between practitioners and students in both East and West, and a welcome sharing of approaches and perspectives. All these changes have been made possible by the computer revolution which has totally changed the face of our world in every way.
I was asked about the broad sweep – this column has been a very broad, brief sweep indeed, from one person’s perspective only. One could write a whole book on the topic. Someone is probably doing so even as I write!
In conclusion: has widely available Astrology made us better human beings?
I feel as excited as anyone else by all the creative and diverse changes which have arisen. Younger generations of astrologers and astrology students, refusing to be hemmed in by the increasingly strident orthodoxy of scientific reductionism, are embracing the symbolic perspectives offered by astrology in a big way these days. However, I’m going to end this column, not in my usual upbeat way, but on a rather sombre note.
When I first started studying astrology I was awestruck by the insights into oneself that astrological knowledge could provide. Given this wonderfully enlightening gift, I naively thought that astrologers must surely be more enlightened and evolved people than the general population: more magnanimous, less critical of one another, more tolerant.
Well, I found out pretty quickly that they they aren’t. I come from a long background in adult education, social work and psychiatric work, as well as private practice therapy and counselling. I’ve also known many writers in my rather varied vocational life. So my comments are based on quite a wide range of sampling.
Astrologers are just as kind, compassionate, well-informed and magnanimous as other occupational groups. They are also just as bitchy, backbiting, judgemental, dishonest and intolerant as everybody else. In general terms – since I am fortunate to know and have known some wonderful astrologers who are also brilliant, compassionate human beings – I haven’t seen any evidence over the last forty years that convinces me otherwise.
We all have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do to fashion ourselves into better humans than we currently appear to be. Our present world is riven with all kinds of ugly, dangerous divisions. Those divisions are graphically described in the prevailing planetary patterns: unfortunately, our astrological community is not immune. Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and bring more fairness, compassion and tolerance into the ways we treat one another within our community. We have a planet to save. We could start by being kinder and more supportive to one another.
What are YOUR thoughts?
i) ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’ is available locally at Opal Moon, Glasgow G20, Watkins Books and The Astrology Shop in London, The Wessex Astrologer – and everywhere on Amazon, including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
Well, it’s almost that time of year again: the planet Mercury goes retrograde on Monday 27th September 2021 at 25 degrees Libra, not turning direct again – at 10 degrees Libra (conjunct my Neptune: I can hardly wait!) – until Monday 18th October. It should be an interesting/exciting/ rewarding/ frustrating/memorable three weeks especially for those of us who are ‘plugged in’ to 10-25 degrees of Libra, Aries, Cancer, Capricorn.
I’m feeling rather pleased about my Mercury Retro status this time. Transiting Mercury in my 3rd house at 25 Libra makes a lovely retro grand trine with 6th house transiting Jupiter and natal 10th house Uranus. For starters, this site is being revamped by my new web wizard – who just happens to know a lot of astrology himself, what a ‘co-incidence’ is that?! – during this particular Mercury Retro period. A very apt time to do such a thing. I’m also looking forward to more reviews etc coming in for my newly published book of essays, articles, columns and research“Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021”.They have been just great so far…
However, today’s story concerns what happened exactly on Summer Solstice 2021: the very day before retro Mercury was about to turn direct at 16 degrees Gemini. Who on earth in their right mind would choose that day to embark on a long journey? Well, I did – and what a brilliant story it provided. Settle back, Readers, and enjoy the trip…
MidsummerMercurial malarkey: Jupiter to the rescue!
In the beginning…
There I was, that morning, all packed – and multi-ticketed for us both. I had carefully planned and organised our four-stage eight hour journey to the sacred isle of Iona, off the North West coast of Scotland. Getting there involved a three-hour train trip to Oban, one-hour ferry crossing to Mull, one hour plus journey through Mull to Fionnphort, and lastly, a short ferry crossing to Iona. Include travel from our homes in Glasgow G20 to Queen Street station, plus a wait of between one and two hours half way up because of non-joined-up travel links, and you have what truly feels like a pilgrimage. Pretty apt, considering where we were going. Iona has been a place of prayer and pilgrimage since pre-Christian times.
I had been there several times before with my late husband Ian. On our thirtieth wedding anniversary spent on Iona a few years ago, we had made a pact: whichever of us died first, the other would make a pilgrimage back to Iona in their memory. I was fortunate on this occasion to have the company of my dear friend Emily. She and her husband were good friends of us both; her kindness and sensitivity made her the ideal person to accompany me. It would also be a great break for her. A very busy community activist – whose upcoming challenges included showing the Queen around our local The Children’s Wood/North Kelvin Meadow project the week after we got back! – she really needed a few days’ time out.(i)
Our trip had been postponed twice already because of Covid. Third time proved lucky: we both loved the idea of travelling to be there at the Summer Solstice.
What could possibly go wrong? I thought, having dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ in sight. As an astrologer, I knew the answer to that only too well. Mercury had been retrograde for the previous three weeks. Today, he was pausing before turning direct tomorrow. Having booked our break around Midsummer months ago without checking the ephemeris, this turned out to be a trickstery day for outward travel. Even if I had, the allure of being on Iona on the Summer Solstice would still probably have proved too strong.
I mentioned this apprehension to Emily on the taxi ride to Queen Street station. Emily knows little or no astrology beyond her Aries Sun Sign and Leo Ascendant, but keeps an open-minded interest. Just recently, she’d had her chart read by that very fine astrologer, my friend and colleague Christina Rodenbeck, thus finding out she had Mercury Retrograde in her natal chart. (I don’t read charts for friends or family). Christina had confirmed for Emily what I have noticed often over the years in clients’ and students’ horoscopes: Mercury Retrograde times don’t seem to be so disruptive for those with natal Mercury Retro.
” Don’t worry!” she said cheerfully. “I have Mercury Retrograde in my chart. It’ll be fine, you’ll see!”. Emily is possessed of a level of almost insane optimism, accompanied by dogged persistence, which has seen her take on and win through on challenges from which most of us would have run a mile. “I hope you’re right”, said I, trying to keep my natal MercurySaturnPluto at bay.
And she was. In spite of everything…
Everything began with our arrival at the railway station to discover that our all-important train to Oban had been cancelled. “***@***!!!” …may convey something of our reaction.
We were not the only cross-looking, confused travellers … and we had a pretty tight window for catching our Mull ferry connection from Oban. The first of many helpful encounters that day, a cheerful-looking, patient middle-aged rail employee, advised us thus:
“Leg it as fast as you can up onto Cathedral Street. The direct and the indirect buses should be parked there by now. Get on the direct one if you can. Good luck!!”
I don’t know if you’ve tried ‘legging it’ for a long detour taking in flights of steps whilst trailing suitcases and backpacks and food supplies (no hospitality on trains any more). Not recommended. But we got there, puffing – to survey a milling, muttering, shuffling horde of at least forty folk, a tour party who must have been booked en bloc on the cancelled train, waiting – largely unmasked – to cram onto the direct bus.
Emily looked at me. I looked at Emily. Even if we managed to get on, it would be a cramped, covid-risky journey. This was the point where Jupiter stepped in to help: the point where we offered the whole experience up to Fate.We were of one mind. “What the hell, we’re not doing that. Let’s see if we can get the next train up (there was no guarantee it wouldn’t be cancelled too) and if not, let’s just get on the first train going North and have an adventure! We can get to Iona tomorrow instead.” Much cheered by this, we trundled our cases off along Cathedral Street, retracing our steps.
Unlikely guardian angels – and shadow Jupiter!
Enter Tam and Dougie, two friendly Glaswegian characters who had hailed us on our way to the direct bus. “Where are you girls headed?” We explained both our problem and our decision.
“No need for that!” announced Tam, who turned out to own the bus company from whom ScotRail had hired the second, indirect bus. We were now standing right beside said bus. “Dougie here drives like a bat out of hell – if anyone can get you to Oban on time, despite all the stops he has to cover, he can!”
Moments later found us sitting on the roomy, comfy top deck, the only passengers on a luxury bus, normally used to convey footballers around the UK, equipped with its own kitchen and toilet. “The only problem with this bus is the toilet”, said Tam. “You really need to be (those of you requiring a woke style trigger warning, please shut your eyes for the next bit) an acrobatic anorexic midget to get in and out of it.” Reader, I can testify to the veracity of this statement. Had I not been nimble, slight, and small, I might still be stuck there…
“Wow, have we ever lucked out!” said Emily. I totally agreed with this as we tucked into our picnic lunches, enjoying a wonderful uninterrupted view: marvellous scenery on a beautifully sunny day as we headed North-West. We didn’t even mind arriving in Oban just in time to see the ferry on which I had booked us sailing into the blue beyond. Dougie had done his best, but there were too many stops – not one of which had any passengers waiting…
However, we encountered Jupiter all the way, including the very helpful ScotRail employee Greg (just in case he is reading this! ) who re-booked us on the next ferry and minded our luggage for the duration of our wait. The only exception was a bracing encounter with Jupiter’s shadow side: an overweight, red-faced, almost toothless bus driver at Craignure on Mull. His demeanour in response to our innocent question regarding the timing of the next bus to Fionnphort was so patronising and rude that it had both Emily and I riffing on revenge possibilities – evoking fits of semi-hysterical laughter in us both – to pass the time until the bus arrived.
We did get to Iona that evening: arriving at the jetty a mere five minutes before the last ferry departed.
And now – the horoscopes speak…
Our whole visit to Iona was an absolute delight, the return trip entirely straightforward. We agreed that neither of us had laughed so much for ages during those few days. On returning, of course, I put up a horoscope for the time we heard the Oban train had been cancelled. It is breathtakingly apt!
I’ll leave readers to do their own reflecting, just pointing out a couple of salient features. But it’s important to say that key symbolic pointers to the goodwill of almost everyone we encountered linked in strongly with two main features of Emily’s and my horoscopes (which I haven’t included here):
Her Jupiter is at 0 Cancer, conjunct my Mars at 1.5 Cancer. Thus the potent 0 Cancer Sun on Solstice Day, trine Jupiter at 2 Pisces which sits on the 7th House side of the Descendant of the Cancelled Train chart, without adding anything else powerfully reinforces the presence of the benevolent side of Jupiter in our lives on that particular day – and the few days following.
You can see the disruption to our travel plans in the third house transiting Moon in Scorpio, approaching an exact opposition to that ninth house Uranus in Taurus. Also – my third house natal Jupiter sits at 19 degrees Scorpio, conjunct the Cancelled Train’s IC. This evokes the reason for the trip – a pilgrimage honouring my husband following his death. Emily, too, had recently lost her dad.This significator in the death/rebirth sign of Scorpio is thus particularly apt for both of us.
Furthermore, despite Mercury’s position poised between retrograde and direct motion, which made this particular Midsummer’s day especially prone to communication snafus, note his location conjunct the North Node in his own sign. The stabilising trine from Saturn indicates that the purpose of this trip – with some determination and practical help – was going to be fulfilled.
As, indeed, it was…
i) I have featured the inspiring story of how Emily Cutts galvanised our Glasgow G20 community into collective action, taking on the developers and eventually winning a precious patch of local land for community use, in my upcoming book ‘Postcards to the Future’, in the Transits section, p 283, title Uranus through Aries: fire and fury. Emily’s own story of her inspiring campaign can be found on Amazon, title The Dear Wild Place. It’s an inspiring read!
I blame that bout of tendonitis in around 2015.(i) I had been running no less than three blogs ( yes, mad, I agree…) since launching myself on the Web in 2008, had had one print book and four e-books published, when it struck. The only cure, which took quite a while, was to severely lay off writing, working mainly through a dictation app. NOT recommended if you wish to remain moderately sane, by the way…
I am left handed, which did not help the problem afflicting my left arm and wrist. In the end, I had to make a decision – a hard one, since by then I’d begun the research for book number 5. Either proceed to carpal tunnel syndrome, enduring the rest of my life with it and related arm and wrist unpleasantnesses – or confine myself largely to short pieces from then on. So I chose the latter. This mostly took the form of weekly pieces for only one blog at a time, writing columns (at one point I had three, deadlines falling in the same two weeks every couple of months!) and continuing to send out longer essays and articles to a wide range of magazines and journals – something I’d been doing for around twenty years already.
The result, half a Jupiter cycle later? I have actually arrived at book numero 5 anyway, albeit a very different one from originally envisaged: contents sixty published essays, columns and articles of mercurial variety. (btw I have a third house Jupiter square everything in the twelfth house, so this planet has been just a tad influential). Not only does this accidentally arrived at book have a title ie ‘Postcards to the Future’ and a subtitle ie ‘mercurial musings 1995-2021’ but it has also generated a small publishing company ie Writing from the Twelfth House Publications, and brought together a really experienced, talented production team, headed up by one V Olliver as editor.
And boy, has he been editing to within an inch of my sanity these last few weeks…but I jest… Compared to my last venture into having a print book published ie ‘Jupiter Meets Uranus’ by Arizona-based American Federation of Astrologers in 2009, it has been a breeze. Although I got on very well with the AFA editor, ease of technological transmission between Scotland and Arizona was much less flowing then than it is now. And I didn’t know her at all when the process began. I was just about on my knees, not to mention cross-eyed, by the time that edit was completed.
This time, the esteemed Victor has been editing my work, mainly through this column, for the last five years. We know each other’s literary weirdnesses. Not that I have any, of course…so book 5 edit has actually been a pleasure (well, mostly…)
It’s an interesting business, writing short pieces to deadlines. Here’s a flavour, extracted from one of my columns for the much-missed Dell Horoscope magazine, which you will find in ‘Postcards to the Future’ :
‘…Anyone who has ever written a regular column will know that there are times when inspiration is – not to put too fine a point on it – notable by its absence. At other times, so many ideas are flying around that catching one by the tail to pin it down is, to say the least, tricky. And – you never know, as the last deadline is met and you can now relax for a few weeks – which set of conditions is going to prevail the next time.
So, Reader, there I was, new deadline appearing over the horizon, and…nada. Nix. No–thing. At all. Braincell dry as an old chewed-up bone. In this situation there are generally two options: blind panic – or blind faith. I have six fiery planets. This is often a curse, let me tell you, but in the matter of column deadlines, it is a blessing. So, armed with nothing but blind faith, I headed for the office…‘(ii)
In the end, you simply have to have confidence and faith that your topic will appear from SOMEWHERE…in the above example, it appeared via a random phone call on the bus journey to my office – on the very day of the latest deadline. In the case of longer, more in depth subjects, the process can be rather different. As I put it in a recent AA Journal column: ‘…The idea usually lands in my mind either days or weeks before the deadline. If it refuses to go away and bother someone else, I know it’s mine to tackle…’
My approach is simple. The third time the idea drops into my mind and refuses to go away, I give in and start work. The last essay in ‘Postcards’ is titled Waning and Waxing Crescents: Windows to the Future and was published in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of TMA. The idea refusing to go away was that of linking the horoscope of Mary Shelley, born in 1797 during the waning crescent phase of the 200 year traverse of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions through the Fire element, with that of Greta Thunberg, born in 2003 during the waning crescent phase of the 200 year traverse of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions through the Earth element. What emerged and grew from that idea drove me hard for some weeks – but the end result was truly fascinating to me, and hopefully to my readers.
The subtitle of ‘Postcards’ ie “mercurial musings 1995-2021” offers clues both to the author’s horoscope – Mercury Ruler: conjunct, square, semi-square and sextile just about everything! – and the book’s subject matter. The hardest part for me of the whole editorial process was choosing the sixty pieces which were eventually included. (Let’s face it, Victor has by far done most of the other work, since I told him I’d rather pour hot melted butter into my left ear in the dark than have anything to do with anything technical…)
The range is indeed mercurial: from topics which deserve serious treatment ie ‘What is my job as an astrologer?’ , through a whole long section on planetary cycles, my current preoccupation, all the way to the quirky, ie ‘My Mary Shelley obsession: It has never gone away’ featuring unique synastry between a famous human (Mary) and a dead sheep (Dolly). Then there is a whole section titled ‘ Interviews: Featuring the Bacon Sandwich Motivational Technique, Plus Other Arcane Delights’. And lots more endless mercurial variety.
As I write this column, we are almost there…it’s now over to Ros, our meticulously Virgoan book designer, and Cat, hard at work on what will be a brilliant cover. Well, it’s all Victor’s fault, really, apart from the tendonitis. He is largely responsible for luring me out from behind that twelfth house sofa…
(i) ALSO: this is a collection of sixty selected essays etc going back to 1995. My students and more than one astro-colleague began suggesting that it was time for me to go back through my large stack of varied writings and put a collection together…yes, in 2018, the very year progressed Mercury, sitting stationary on top of my restless third house Jupiter, turned retrograde. Pretty apt, eh what?!
(ii) from ‘Fate, Uranus – and the astrologers’ degree…’.
I often get asked about the effect of the transits of the ‘Big Heavies’ ie Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, over the IC or root point of the horoscope. Here is my story of life-changing experiences occurring when the Big Heavies all crossed that point in my horoscope during my twenties, thirties and forties. Quite a long time ago now!! It’s been one of the most-read essays I have ever written, published in a variety of magazines journals and on-line publications over the years including Astrodienst. It is also one of the sixty essays, columns and articles which is featured in my upcoming book “Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021”.
Here is the essay:
Liz Greene once wryly observed in one of her seminars that, if you wanted a relatively quiet and peaceful life, you should arrange to be born when the outer planets were as far away from the personal planets and Angles as possible. I wish! say many of you reading this, as indeed does the writer, who has all the outer planets bolted onto all the personal planets and has had anything BUT a quiet life. (Encouraging note for the similarly challenged – I’m not young any more, but I’m still here –more or less! – and pretty happy with what I have been able to make of my time on this earth to date).
In similar vein, many people – depending on the horoscope yielded by their particular date, time, and place of birth – will never even experience one of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto crossing their IC ( for non-astrologers reading this, the IC symbolises the point of origin, roots and core of a person’s life).
However, I have had the lot – and am still here to tell the tale. Here it is….
In my horoscope the IC is conjunct the South Node at 28 degrees of Scorpio. Pluto, its ruler, is placed in the twelfth house conjunct Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Moon and Sun in Leo. As a child I would lie in bed watching the roses on the wallpaper turn into malevolent faces as daylight faded; I had to make bargains with them before they would let me sleep.
I read voraciously, and particularly recall the works of Victorian novelist H Rider Haggard whose myth-steeped descriptions of his characters’ adventures in Africa last century fascinated me. But da Silva, the Dutch explorer whose frozen body was found centuries after his death in a cave high up Mt. Kilimanjaro, transferred himself from “King Solomon’s Mines” to the wardrobe in my bedroom, on and off, for a couple of years. Getting to sleep was no mean feat with an imagination like mine!
My ‘real’ life – eating, sleeping, going to school – was incidental to my inner life which was full of what I felt were the really interesting questions : why are we alive, where do we go after death, do we live on several planes of existence at once, what is happening in other galaxies, if there are x million Catholics and even more Buddhists and Hindus, how come they are all Wrong and Damned and a few thousand members of the Free Church of Scotland are Right and Saved ?
And what would happen if you unwrapped an Egyptian mummy and I wonder if I could make a shrunken head like the Jivaro Indians and why did people paint pictures on cave walls thousands of years ago?
These were the issues which preoccupied me for years. No-one knew about them except my maternal grandfather. He had spent time taming wild horses alone in the middle of Argentina before World War 1, and in later life was the only Church of Scotland missionary to visit ill or injured foreign sailors of all religions in the local island hospital, despite the disapproval of the Free Church. “We are all God’s children”, he would say firmly to his critics – and to me. He died when I was eleven, after which I spoke to no-one until I grew up and left home about anything which really mattered.
As Pluto squared 12th house Venus, Moon and Sun, then crossed the IC conjunct South Node from 93-95, what was left of my family of origin fell apart in a particularly painful and tragic way. I had to make choices in order to protect myself from the destructive urges of other family members which involved separation from loved ones which is probably permanent. The major decision I made during those years was that the blood tie does not give others the right to destroy your life. I was indeed fortunate in having an astrological framework, which helped to provide a meaningful context for the pain.
As part of trying to process what was happening, I decided to compile a family history, returning to my native island to collect some oral material from old people who knew my family back a couple of generations. The day I sat down to write it up, transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the South Node, within half a degree of the IC. During the same week, I looked back through some old writings of my own, finding two unpublished pieces.
The first was written in July 1970, six months after the start of Neptune transiting the IC. I had no knowledge of astrology then…….
“…….My sister and I decided to take the dog and walk from our house, just outside the town, to a beach very exposed to the sea, well beyond the harbour. It would be a long walk, but it was a beautiful briskly windy sunny day – snatched from the usual bleak incessant rains of a Hebridean July.
We took a curving route through the town, then via an outlying district overlooking the navigation beacon. This landmark had winked its electric eye reassuringly at the mouth of the harbour for as long as I could remember. Approaching the district cemetery, my sister walked on by, but I slowed down, never having passed through its gates. Only men attended funerals in the Outer Hebrides when I was growing up.
“The sun is shining on the dead today!” I called to my sister. “Let’s go and pay our respects.” She wasn’t too keen. “Have you ever visited Granddad and Granny’s grave?” I asked.
“No,” she said. ” I suppose we could do that.” We pushed open the heavy creaking gate. The graveyard, beautifully tended, sloped gently down to within a few hundred yards of the sea. I realised that I did not know where my father’s parents lay.
” I remember where Daddy said it was,” my sister said. “Follow me. With our English name, it shouldn’t be difficult to find.”
Our paternal grandfather had been posted to the Outer Hebrides before the First World War, meeting our grandmother on his first trip ashore. English gentlemen were a great rarity in these parts; very desirable “catches” to aspiring island girls like Granny, who had by all accounts been a handsome, strong and wilful young woman. He was well and truly caught; apart from a period of war service he remained in the Outer Isles for the rest of his long life.
His death devastated my grandmother. They had been married for fifty two years. I remember sitting with her in her bedroom, she who had always turned herself out so elegantly propped up in bed, an old singlet of my grandfather’s failing to conceal her droopy, withered breasts from my young eyes. Up to then I had never known the desolation of not being able to console another human being – or that old people ever cried. She wept and wailed and moaned, repeating: “I don’t want to live any more. What’s the use, what’s the use now he’s away? “
Live on she did, doggedly, for nine years, lightened only by a late addition to the family. I was fifteen when my brother was born. Granny was eighty two, and half way senile. The child was called Frederick, after Granddad; as the novelty wore off Granny slipped into senility, a querulous fractious husk, and finally just a husk, and a medical miracle, carried off at eighty six with her fourth bout of pneumonia.
I was at university when she died, having become so distant from her by then that I felt nothing but a vague sense of relief ….
“I’ve found it !” I had fallen behind my sister in my reverie. She was standing about twenty yards away; I hurried to the spot. It was a plain, simple grave. A low railing ran round it. The headstone was in sandstone, with only the facts of their births and deaths etched on it in gold lettering. Noting with satisfaction, which my grandmother would have shared, the absence of ‘fancy versification’, I stood and looked at the grave.
Without any warning, for I had felt quiet and composed, there was a rush and a roar in a deep silent centre of my being; a torrent of desolation and grief swept through me. I wept and wept and wept, quite uncontrolled.
There they were, half my being. Where had it all gone: the passion of their early love; the conception of their children; her sweat and blood and pain as she thrust my father into the world; their quarrels, silences, love, laughter, loneliness and grief; their shared and separate lives? And this was it. On a hot beautiful day with the sea lapping on the shore and the seabirds wheeling and diving, a few bits of cloth and bone under the earth, an iron railing and a stone above.
I was not weeping just for them. Overwhelmed by total awareness of my own mortality and that of all human beings before and after me, I had never felt so stricken, so vulnerable, so alone.” (i)
The second piece, however, written in the autumn of 1971, at the end of the Neptune transit to the IC, whilst Neptune was 0 Sagittarius, shows that something else was now emerging from the underworld which would offer me inspiration and support :
(The ‘pibroch’ referred to is the music of lament played on the Scottish bagpipes)
“ It was a clear autumn evening. Peter called just after seven; he was going out to practice some pibroch. Would I like to come along? It was a rare time of balance – in the weather, in the satisfaction of work which was still new enough to be stimulating, in the fact that Peter and I were falling in love.
Peter drove several miles out of town, winding slowly up deserted country roads to a hill above a small village. Taking out the pipes he began to blow them up, and after much tinkering began to play. To avoid distracting him, I strolled slowly down the road. Peter was standing on a bank of grass at the top of the hill; on his left was a little wood. On the other side of the road was a ditch thick with whin bushes.
Beyond the ditch was a rusty, sagging fence; on the far side of the fence, smooth, mossy moorland dotted with whins, their vivid yellow colour fading into the deepening dusk. In the distance I could just see the Highland hills, purple and rust, gathering shadows in the autumnal twilight.
A myriad of stars, taking their lead from Venus, was growing bright with increasing intensity. A mellow harvest moon was slowly rising, casting a glow on the hills. The air held a hint of cold. I could feel the melancholy music of the bagpipes flowing through me like a magical current.
Reaching the foot of the hill, surrendering myself completely to the intensity of the moment, I lay down in the middle of the road. Spreading out my arms, I gazed up at the stars.
A gentle breeze blew over my body, soughing through the reedy grass. Drifting with the music through the night sky, slipping away from awareness of myself or the present, I was a timeless spirit of the air, travelling the vastness of space on the notes of the pibroch. An unobtrusive rhythm, a pulse, began to beat; growing more and more steady, it became a whispering message in my mind :
‘ There is nothing to fear,’ it said. ‘ There is nothing to fear.’
An image of my lying dead, under the earth, came to me. Such images, occurring at other times, had filled me with panic and disgust. Now, there was none of that. I could gladly have died at that moment; my flesh would return to the earth and nourish it, my spirit would soar to infinity. The pulse continued, flooding me with its light :
‘ There is nothing to fear, nothing to fear, nothing to fear….’
At that point of spiritual ecstasy, I felt the absolute reality of my soul.
Such a moment might have lasted a second, an hour, or a hundred thousand years; but the music ceased, and the chill which was gradually taking over my body drew me back gently into the present…….” (ii)
The knowledge that such a vitalizing sense of connectedness was possible, glimpsed during the above experience, kept me going through the long struggle to believe that life had an overall meaning, and to find my own way of offering my energy creatively in the years which were to follow.
When Uranus crossed the South Node/IC in 1980/81, I began to study astrology, thereby fulfilling a prediction made by an astrologer I had casually encountered in a laundrette in Bath in England in the early 1970s. I also met, moved in with and later married my partner – his Scorpio Moon is conjunct my IC and South Node, and he has an Aquarian Sun and Venus. All very appropriate symbolism for the timing of the Uranus IC transit !
His steadfast support, combined with the deep awareness of teleology which many years’ practice of astrology brings, have been vital for my personal and professional growth and development from the time Uranus crossed the IC until now, (ie end 1995-early 1996) as Pluto moves off that point.
When Pluto was still transiting the IC, but from Sagittarius, I applied and was accepted for a major astrological study course. The very day that Pluto was exactly on the South Node and about to cross the IC for the last time saw me beginning the first year of study. I felt a powerful sense of standing on firm inner ground after the turbulence and trauma of the last few years – of being in the right place at the right time, of having done what I could, for now, with my family inheritance – of being ready to move on to the next growth cycle.
Now that the outer planets have crossed the IC and moved into the Western hemisphere of my Horoscope, I feel liberated from much of the pathology of the past, and more able to use directly in the world the undoubted creativity inherited with it. Nor do I need any longer to make bargains with the shadowy figures who emerge when the light of day is dimming….
i & ii : Both extracts have been published both together and separately in several articles in the USA, the UK and Australia, eg in “Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” which appeared in the UK’s Astrological Journal, 1996, and was then reprinted in Considerations magazine (USA) in the same year.
“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from ‘L’Allegro’ by the English poet John Milton
Is it Covid, or is it me? Or you? I am finding, these days, that Time seems to drag interminably on the one hand, and whizz by at warp speed on the other. Coming round slowly as usual over my morning cuppa (not a morning person, me…) I was jolted awake by realising that it’s almost Midsummer. How did that happen? It seemed like it was the Spring Equinox about five minutes ago. Much has happened/not happened since then…depends on what level of lockdown you’ve been enduring where you are, I guess!
So, I thought I’d revisit the post I wrote for the UK’s Astrological Journal at the time of the Spring Equinox 2021: taking stock, as it were, of where we were then, and where we are now, as Midsummer approaches. Your thoughts, as ever, are most welcome!
Normally, I don’t have too much bother coming up with a column topic. The idea usually lands in my mind either days or weeks before the deadline. If it refuses to go away and bother someone else, I know it’s mine to tackle. Either that, or final deadline looming has a miraculously stimulating effect on my inert capacity for creative cogitation.
Not this time.
I have been in what can best be described as ‘zombie slug’ mode, as the latest covid lockdown has deprived all of us of most activity involving direct social contact with our fellow human beings. I share the apprehension of many worldwide who have been shocked at the full frontal assault on democracy provoked by Trump in the dying embers of his less than successful presidency. Tomorrow, 20th January 2021, is Inauguration Day in the USA.
What shape is 2021 going to take? The astrology of the new Air Era which began on 2020’s Winter Solstice has produced much commentary from me and fellow astrologers across the globe. I feel dispirited at the thought of coming up with anything relevant to say in my current mood.
However, dragging myself out into the dank, cold, grubby murk of a city morning for the usual walk, I found the cheery defiance of new season’s snowdrops sprouting merrily in the local park more inspiring than ever before. Their simple yet powerful reminder that Life goes on despite the antics of humans, cheered me up.
‘I know!” I thought. “I’m going to have a look at the 2021 Spring Equinox horoscope – and not allow myself to be intimidated by knowing that knowledgeable and erudite commentaries from experienced mundane astrologers are even now being penned the length and breadth of lands various…’. ( yes, I know no-one pens anything very much any more…it’s just a figure of speech)
After three days’ procrastination, a much cheerier mood prevails as I begin perusing this year’s Spring Equinox chart. The USA now has a presidential President in Joe Biden; despite the pall of covid hanging over us all, he set the tone for an inspiring Inauguration.
And the women – wow!
First off, we now have the first black/South Asian female Vice Ppresident: two firsts rolled into the formidable Kamala Harris. Next up, the accomplished Dr Jill Biden as FLOTUS. Then Lady Gaga’s knockout rendition of the USA’s national anthem. And the magnificent poem performed superbly by 22 year old Amanda Gorman.
Also: in the roll-call of Biden appointments, this from CNN on Inauguration day:
“At least six major news networks have assigned women to lead White House coverage of the Biden administration, raising the profile of female journalists in an institution long dominated by men”(i)
But more on the women shortly…
This Spring Equinox horoscope certainly holds some cheer for us: Jupiter is closely conjunct the Aquarian MC, trine Gemini rising, as he moves away from Saturn. Both Saturn from the 9th house and Jupiter from the 10th are trine a 12th house Moon/North Node/Mars combination in Gemini. This suggests some cautious optimism and focused energy arising behind the scenes in our world-wide community, with plenty new ideas coming slowly to the fore – hopefully as the covid infection and death rates slowly fall with the gradual rise and impact of mass vaccination programmes.
That Jupiter on an Aquarian MC does suggest that rich male benefactors with a social conscience might divert some of their squillions toward the common good – eg helping to get the world vaccinated. Come on, Besos and Musk. Step up!! ( ps 8.6.21: They haven’t as yet…what a surprise.)
Meanwhile, we are in for a whole year of Saturn square Uranus, which first kicked off from March to July 2020. This year, their squares are exact at the following points: February17th (7 deg Aquarius/Taurus) + June 14th (13 deg Aquarius/Taurus) + Dec 24th (11deg Aquarius/Taurus). Much has already been said, and will be repeated as 2021 unfolds, concerning the intractable and potentially violent taking up of intransigent, polarised positions politically and culturally from which we have suffered so much in the year just gone.
However, as I reflected on the many variations on the battle between the old and new order arising already from this alarming square, my eye fell on the Venus/Neptune conjunction, sitting right next to the equinoctal Aries Sun.
I realised that its 24 deg Pisces midpoint fell on the Saturn/Uranus midpoint. Suddenly – honestly, I’m not making this up! – a vivid image came to me: Gustave Moreau’s 1866 painting of ‘Venus Rising from the Sea’. I’ve always preferred this version of the mythical birth of Venus (from the severed genitals of mythical sky god Uranus castrated by his mythical offspring Saturn and cast into the briny, supposedly off the coast of Cyprus …) to Sandro Botticelli’s much more demure Venus, painted sometime in the 1480s, arriving onshore draped prettily within a seashell. Moreau’s Venus, as can be seen from the accompanying image, is much more authoritative, tougher- looking in her beauty – pretty formidable, in fact.
(No – I could not resist checking my battered copy of Michelson’s wonderful Tables of Planetary Phenomena to see what was going on in 1866. Yes – in July and August that year, there were significant Saturn/Uranus aspects: with Saturn at 6 deg Scorpio waxing trine Uranus at 6 deg Cancer + Saturn at 7 deg Scorpio waxing trine Uranus at 7 deg Cancer. Some co-incidence, eh?!)
Now – back to the formidable, authoritative women who are very much part of our current world picture.
In 2019, we had Greta Thunberg coming to the fore with the South Node conjunct Saturn/Pluto in the Spring, taking ineffectual male politicians to task in the face of a building world-wide climate crisis, and winding up as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. She succeeded in turning vague anxieties about the planet into a worldwide movement calling for global change.
My Jan/Feb 2021 NTAC column concerned the provocative ‘silver blob’ commemorative statue to Mary Wollestonecraft, arguably the world’s first publicly influential feminist via her famous 1792 tract ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ and mother of the prescient Mary Shelley. Shelley warned us – via ‘Frankenstein’ published in 1818 – of the consequences of science being allowed to run unchecked by either compassion or ethics.
That statue, unveiled on 10th November 2020, succeeded in raising the ire of women across a wide spectrum – in the same week that Kamala Harrismade history by becoming Joe Biden’s Vice President. The horoscope of the statue’s launch – which includes the four key female asteroids Ceres, Juno, Pallas, and Vesta – shows strong, combative female energy being very much to the fore, reflecting in microcosm what is currently going on across the world. Female leaders from Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon to New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Germany’s Angela Merkelare generally making a better job of leading their countries through the covid crisis than their male counterparts.
I was powerfully struck by the arrival of Moreau’s formidable Venus in my mind’s eye as I contemplated the Spring Equinox’s Venus/Neptune in Pisces in relation to that intractable-looking Saturn/Uranus square. It strongly suggested this to me: if the angry and dangerous stances of opposing camps are to be slowly dissolved and gradually transformed into more constructive, co-operative positions as this (yet another!) crisis year for the world unfolds, it is likely to be the energies of formidable, authoritative, powerful, compassionate women which play a significant part in enabling such a transformation…
Sometime last summer 2020 I was chatting with DL Gordon, Chair of Aquarius Rising, the West of Scotland Astrological Association which I founded in August 2001 with a group of my then students. ‘How about doing something for us next year?’ she asked. It has been a running gag for some years now amongst my former and current students (I have either 5 or 6 twelfth house planets, depending on house system) that my preference is to hide behind the twelfth house sofa, sending my astro-musings out in written form rather than appearing in person.
However, the very recent momentous shift into what will be a two hundred year Air era seems to have given me a prod to get out there and declaim in person. ‘Ok!’ I said. ‘How about a Q n A session – say next May 2021?’ That seemed sufficiently distant for me not to have to think about it for a good while. ‘You’re on!’ she said.
So – here we are. It’s May 2021, and I’m doing a Q n A for Aquarius Rising – looking at the wider issues in astrology rather than folks’ actual charts – on Tuesday 25th May at 7.30. (See details below) To set the tone, here is DL’s question, which raises all sorts of interesting issues:
If there’s a particularly difficult theme in our charts, do you think this is an indication that the Universe wants us to pay particular attention and work hard on that area of our life or is it the Universal equivalent of the parental refrain ‘don’t touch that, it’s too burny!’
I think I’ll kick things off by addressing this one. My plan is not to prepare anything, but just to respond to what both DL and Tina (both students of the Mercury Internet School of Psychological Astrology run by John Green, for which I do some student mentoring ) select from questions already submitted, or from the session’s chat box. As you will see from DL’s promotional blurb below, there will also be a mystery guest joining us from about 7.45 pm.
Now – about synchronicity. The key task of this super busy week has been checking the second edit of my next book ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’, due to be published in autumn 2021 – also the 20th anniversary of the founding of Aquarius Rising! My esteemed Editor, Victor Olliver who edits the Astrological Association’s Journal, does not mince his words. ‘Anne’, he said a couple of days ago, ‘you have a new book to publicise. Never mind this twelfth house stuff. Get your ass out there and do some PR!’
So – do come along to our Q n A on 25th May. And – feel free to ask me any questions you like about my new book!
And now: over to you, DL:
‘…This month, we’re delighted to have persuaded our founder, Anne Whitaker, to venture out of the Twelfth House to host an Astrology Q&A session for Aquarius Rising. This will be suitable for all levels and will be dealing with general Astrology questions rather than looking at individual charts. Anne will also be bringing along a mystery guest with a particular interest in the Asteroids! I’m expecting this to be popular so please submit your questions in advance and as soon as possible to avoid disappointment…’
What does Chiron mean to you? Have you experienced his symbolic energy as healing? Wounding? As the ‘inconvenient benefic’, kicking open doors to places you’d never have thought to go? Does he simply not register as any kind of recognisable influence in your life or those around you? Or have you simply not given him much thought as you work with your horoscope in relation to your life?
Lots of questions. Let’s address them now!
Chiron moved into Aries on 17th April 2018, dipping back into Pisces for a few months in the autumn of that year, settling into his journey through Aries on February 18th 2019, where he will remain until 2026/7 when he shifts into Taurus.
Chiron’s orbit is very irregular. If you’d like to go into the detail of this, Cafe Astrology is the place to go for some very clear tables. However, his return cycle is a steady 50 years: we all have a Chiron Return at that age. This Aries return is especially significant since it represents the end of a whole 50 year period from 1968/9 when Chiron was last in Aries. The shift from Pisces the last sign of the zodiac to Aries the first is always more radical than any other – and fierier, more disruptive and far-reaching at a collective level.
Chiron in Aries – 20th Century
50 years back from 1968/9 takes us to 1918/19 and the turbulent aftermath of the First World War. Some of us still vividly remember 1968/9 with the student riots in Europe, the protests in the USA against the Vietnam war, and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King against the turbulent backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. We also remember that wonderfully pioneering event of the Moon landing, a stunning example of humanity’s kicking open a door to a place no-one throughout our whole history until that moment thought we would go.
Early on in Chiron’s transit through Aries, ruled by the red planet Mars, preparations for the first human mission there envisaged for the 2030s are well under way. The Mars 2020 rover has been studying the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen. This is a major step forward in the preparation process. Some of us baby-boomers, if we live a long life, may well see the first blast-off taking humans in Shakespeare’s famous words about death, to “…The undiscovered country from whose bourn. No traveler returns…” ( Hamlet act 3 Scene 1) The Mars explorers know they will not return to their home planet…
No doubt there will be much more speculation across our various media outlets regarding what this shift may mean both collectively and individually. It has already begun, as a quick google search will testify!
Back to first principles
However, I have found my reflections returning me to contemplation of first principles: the questions at the start of this post are in fact my own interrogations both of my experience of Chiron’s symbolic energies in my personal life and my professional practice.
In response to those questions, on looking back I can say that I have seen Chiron, in his popular ‘wounded healer’ mode, most notably in colleagues and acquaintances with Chiron prominent in their charts eg 2nd, 6th or 10th Houses and/or strongly linked with planets, Nodes and Angles. They have found their way into caring, alternative healing or medical/nursing contexts, usually propelled there by family and/or personal wounding they were consciously or unconsciously seeking to assuage.
I have also seen situations where the wounding dimension was well to the fore and people struggled to see any healing in what they were experiencing – quite often at the Chiron Return point, when the whole horoscope’s Chiron aspects are triggered. This is where as an astrologer it is so vital to tread carefully in seeking to offer a context to deep pain and suffering which may offer some comfort and hope without raising unrealistic expectations – and to know when we are coming up against our own limitations eg in lack of specific expertise in dealing with questions of health and healing.
Here, it is important to have a network of reputable and experienced practitioners in various healing modalities who might be able to offer some support which builds on what one has hopefully been able to clarify for the client.
It was the late astrologer A.L. Morrison who coined the term ‘inconvenient benefic’ as a facet of Chiron’s actions – I can see on considering the placement of Chiron in our solar system, his source for this interpretation. Chiron appeared in 1977 between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. He can be seen as the one who unlocked the door between the safe boundaries of the known system contained by Saturn, lord of form and structure, security and stability and the outer planetary realm of Uranus –lord of misrule, breaker of custom, known code and convention. It is very threatening to be kicked out of safe territory into the unpredictable and unknown. But often it is just what we need although we don’t appreciate it at the time.
I have certainly seen this Chironian dimension in action by transit or progression with clients who turn up for readings after a long process where life has given them a good kicking (sound familiar, anyone?!) but who emerge out the other end realising that the kicking was necessary to get them to move in a direction they would not have been brave (or foolish!) enough to see held considerable positive benefits for them.
An amusing (in retrospect…) and quite significant example of this ‘inconvenient benefic’ aspect of Chiron in action can be offered from my own life a long time ago. My husband developed mumps, and had such a sore throat for several days that he could neither speak nor eat anything that wasn’t liquidised, and certainly could not bear to smoke. Chiron was then transiting his Gemini Midheaven. He quit smoking for good…
Chiron’s Return at Midlife
It makes sense that Chiron doesn’t feature very strongly in a person’s life if not prominent by horoscope placement or by aspect. However, even in such cases, if Chiron directly transits any of the personal planets or Angles, it is very unusual for there to be a ‘dumb note’ struck. It also seems to me that the Chiron Return at age 50 registers with everyone, but especially strongly when Chiron is a powerfully placed and aspected symbol.
A long time ago – I no longer have the chart or notes for reference but still remember the situation – a woman with Chiron conjunct her Moon consulted me not long after her 50th birthday. Chiron had recently returned to that natal conjunction. I recall that Saturn by transit was also probably involved. I asked her whether there was a difficult issue currently involving a key female in her life, and she said yes, that her mother-in-law to whom she had been very close had recently died and she was having difficulty getting over this loss; her deep grief seemed to her to be out of proportion.
I then asked if she had had a similar loss in the first year of her life. It turned out that her own mother had died when she was less than a year old, and that she had felt bereft of mothering until her mother-in -law came into her life, hence her great difficulty with the current situation. Both the client and I were deeply moved by how powerfully the Moon/Chiron symbolism had spoken on Chiron’s return to its natal position. But realising this also helped the client to make more sense of the depth of her grief, and hopefully to process it more consciously.
Chiron and our deep ancestral wound…
In approaching what Chiron’s symbolic action may bring in our own and clients’ horoscopes, it seems to me to make sense to hold those several facets I have described in this post in mind as we reflect.
However, there is a deep layer which has meant more to me than any other, which I first came across in an article by Liz Greene called ‘Wounding and the will to live’ in Issue 3 of Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology (1999). This article is now available on Astrodienst, and I would strongly suggest that any readers interested in exploring Chiron’s meaning at profound depth should read it.
Here, Liz Greene points out re the centaur Chiron’s unhealable wound, that “….the wound exists in the collective and is ancestral..”
My understanding of what she is saying is that where Chiron appears in our birth charts represents our ‘chip’ of the accumulated woundedness of humanity over the ages. It is not our fault that we have this particular ‘chip’ allocated to us, any more than it was the centaur Chiron’s fault to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in the centaurs’ battle with the Lapiths during which he was grazed in the thigh by a poisoned arrow which would not heal because it was dipped in the blood of the Hydra.
We are not directly responsible for our personal share of humanity’s wounding. But if we can work with as much honesty and humility, and as little bitterness as possible with that share as indicated by Chiron’s placement in our natal chart, then we can begin to transform that woundedness into something which can be offered for the healing of others. This process can ultimately help us to grow sufficiently that our personal wound becomes an increasingly smaller part of who it is we are able to become.
I have used this understanding of Chiron in many client readings now, and have found that it offers inspiration and consolation. Much of that healing flows from helping clients to accept that the wound is not our fault – but it is our responsibility to choose how we deal with it. No doubt the fact that I have found this deep message a consolation in my own work with ancestral wounding, also communicates itself to my clients without my having to say a single word about my own process…
Published on Astrodienst in 2018 as Reflecting on Chiron, as his Aries trip begins …
Anne’s new book, ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’ will be published at the end of Summer 2021 by Writing from the Twelfth House Publications.
“Seems you can’t outsmart Mother Nature…” Mark Hyman (i)
Mars has just moved into Cancer – a good time to entertain you with a small but telling local tale which spans one recent two-year Mars cycle. Natal Mars in Cancer – I know, I have one of those! – doesn’t get the best press. But boy, are we tenacious and persistent when we are deeply angered. So – this is an excellent Mars in Cancer story as far as I am concerned, although the managers of our local Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park would almost certainly disagree.
I have had the good fortune to live right beside Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park for many years. A long, wide, sloping path takes you down into the park, then levels out to follow the banks of the river Kelvin for a couple of meandering miles, eventually leading up onto Kelvin Way, Glasgow’s world famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Kelvin Hall, and Glasgow University. I have lost count of how many times I’ve done that walk in all weathers – usually wet, this being Glasgow of which I speak.
The right hand side of the path opposite the river is rich in vegetation – the usual untidy seasonally varying greenery and self-planting tree seedlings so beloved of Nature left to herself (clue here to what’s coming…). Locals of all ages frequent the path: couples, individual walkers, small children, parents, cyclists, runners, dogs. A favourite landmark of mine for all the years of walking this stretch has been two small, modest springs of iron-rich water, a few feet apart, arising from the soil close to the path. These springs have been leaving red deposits in the earth for as long as I’ve noticed them. I really like them – and have only just now realised that, perchance, having Mars in Cancer means like responding to like…
The springs only occasionally flowed slightly over the path; one needed merely to sidestep them. I don’t think any of the locals walking there regularly would have described this as a nuisance. However, the Powers That Be took it into their heads to have other ideas: very possibly when Mars was last in Cancer.
Thus began a concerted series of slowly escalating attempts to block the very modest occasional tricklings of iron spring overflow onto our riverside path. First of all, there was the digging of a long ditch along a thirty-foot stretch of the path, just below where the springs arose. This was slowly filled in with loose stone chippings by several workmen, in between checking Facebook etc on their mobile phones. For a while, this seemed to have been successful. No overflow.
However, having begun to take a somewhat displeased interest in this process – could the money in materials, wages and time not have been better spent funding rent for premises for a local youth club, for example? – I began to notice that the soil all along the length of the ditch was growing soggy. This didn’t bode very well for the health of the local vegetation, up to their knees now (metaphorically speaking) in iron-infused spring water.
A few months later, I noticed that the iron springs had soaked their way along the stone chippings. The overflow was starting up again. Only there was more of it this time. Cue more time, labour, Facebook-checking, expenditure. An exit pipe was duly installed below the path from beneath the offending springs’ location, discharging by now an increased volume of spring water into the river Kelvin opposite. For some time, success. No overflow onto the path.
However, this temporary bureaucratic respite didn’t work for long either. The soggy soil got soggier and longer in area, and we noticed that the red deposits at the outlets from the two springs had markedly grown. Hmmmm, I mused to myself, becoming increasingly interested in this escalating war. “I think those springs are getting angry!” My companion, like me not a great friend of formal henbrained authority, agreed.
The next round – as can be seen by the accompanying photo – consisted of even more labour, more Facebook checking with maybe a smattering of Instagram this time, and the creation of a low wooden fence the whole length of the unsuccessful ditch and the equally unsuccessful stone chippings. That might well have funded a part-time park keeper to empty the bins more frequently. Just a thought….
After a few months of this, you could now see the results. To my delighted astrologer’s eye, the iron springs got especially pissed off as Mars flowed through Cancer, liberally staining the offending wooden fence with iron deposits, depositing a big splat of watery iron beside it, and flowing liberally all the way across the path.
A few days later, I encountered two men, the younger wearing a red jumper ( you couldn’t make this stuff up!) gathering what turned out to be iron water bacterial samples for his PhD research. The other guy was his supervisor. I regaled them with the story of how those wonderful little iron springs had gradually risen up and stuck it to the Powers That Be. Then – as you would – I informed them that in symbolic terms the planet Mars rules iron, anger and the colour red. ‘Wow, put that in your PhD!’ quoth the supervisor to his student. And off I went on my way, punching the air in a victory salute on behalf of those wonderfully Martian springs.
In the very small and the very large scale – as we are currently finding out – Nature will always win in the end. We would do well to remember this, now, right across the globe.