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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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Here comes Mercury Retro…what happened last time?

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…

Midsummer Mercurial malarkey: Jupiter to the rescue!

Me on Iona: Half woman, half bicycle…

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. 

However…

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…

Intrepid Emily

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…

Us on the bus

 “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…

Endnote

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!

Me: half woman, half bicycle

(This post is an edited version of my 37th Not the Astrology Column featured in the September/October Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

2000 words ©Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

How NOT to write a book…thanks, progressed Mercury retrograde!

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…

Endnotes

(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…’. 

(This post is an edited version of my 36th Not the Astrology Column featured in the July/August 2021 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

1250 words Copyright Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

The life changers: Neptune, Uranus and Pluto cross the I.C.

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….

The Underworld - Ancient Egypt
The Underworld – Ancient Egyptian style

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!

King Solomon’s Mines First Edition

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.

Venus rising

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….

******

Endnotes

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.

and –

“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from ‘L’Allegro’ by the English poet John Milton

*********

The Underworld: Ancient Egypt
The Underworld

2500 words Copyright Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Reviewing the Spring Equinox 2021 as the Summer Solstice approaches…

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)

Later…

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 Harris made 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 Merkel are 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…

Endnotes

(i) Via Twitter:www.cnn.com 05.31 20/01/21. 

(This post is an edited version of my 34th Not the Astrology Column featured in the March/April 2021 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

1500 words Copyright Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Isn’t synchronicity a wonderful thing?

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.

from: depositphotos

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…’

Email: aquariusrisingglasgow@gmail.com to book and obtain zoom link

Cost is £5 for non members.

depositphotos

Endnotes

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.

 Find Anne on Facebook, Twitter @annewhitaker, Instagram at stargazerh12,  https://anne-whitaker.com/ and email: info@anne-whitaker.com

600 words ©Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Reflecting on Chiron as his Aries journey continues…

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!

Introduction

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. 

…and 21st…

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 bournNo 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.

Inconvenient…but beneficial

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… 

Endnotes

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.

 Find Anne on Facebook, Twitter @annewhitaker, Instagram at stargazerh12,  https://anne-whitaker.com/ and email: info@anne-whitaker.com

1700 words ©Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Mars enters Cancer…a watery protest !

“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. 

Mars protesting (iron – ically)!

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.

Endnotes

  1. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mark_hyman_429768

(This post is an edited version of my 25th Not the Astrology Column featured in the July/August 2019 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

Mars

1000 words ©Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Waiting – for the Aries New Moon…

I always seem to have a favourite word. Maybe that’s one of the hallmarks of being a writer. It’s probably tiresome for other people when I cram it into conversations. By now, I’m sure you are quite desperate to know what the damn word is this time. Ok. It’s ‘liminal’. From the Latin ‘limen’ meaning ‘threshold’, it refers to that stage in life when one is hovering…departing from what is in the past: not quite at home here in the present: not quite arrived there, in the future…it’s an uncomfortable, fluid state to be in, but highly creative and full of potential. 

It’s where we all are as a human community as we struggle with varying degrees of success to cope with the covid 19 pandemic which has ravaged the world in the last year. We are also at a critical point in the whole astrological year: the period between the New Moon in Pisces and the New Moon in Aries is a time of dissolution of the whole cycle of the preceding year, to allow new energy to begin to arise, this year from 12th April onwards with the New Moon at 22 degrees of Aries.  

Lunar Wisdom
Lunar Wisdom

How about this contemporary usage, definition from Wikipedia: ‘…More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change… During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt…’ I don’t know about you, but this to me sounds just like where we are collectively on planet Earth at present.  Let’s hope in the long run – which we baby-boomers likely won’t live to see – we end up with something better than the mess we have now. 

‘As above, so below’ : no contemporary astrologers have come up with a pithier definition of the essence of our art than did fabled Ancient Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus in the equally fabled Emerald Tablet. Hermes was envisaged as apparently hovering between the divine and human worlds. Down here in that all-too-human world, thinking about Hermes in relation to the world ‘liminal’ is providing me with some inspiration; much needed in my case, as I hope some new plans are at last beginning to bear fruit in the early years of a new Jupiter cycle.

 Jupiter cycles have always been a big deal for me, since third house Jupiter at 19 degrees 07 Scorpio squares all six of my Leo 11th and 12th house planets. I wrote about the dubious but transformative delights of this astro-lineup in my very first column for Dell Horoscope magazine, now sadly no longer with us.. 

This idea of hovering between the divine and human worlds might be of some comfort and inspiration also to those of you readers who are ending one cycle at present, without being able to see how the energy of the next one is going to form. Standing in this liminal place, one cannot bully, cajole or entreat the new order to reveal itself. There is divine time, and there is human time. 

This may sound pretty mystical, but my feeling – from both personal and professional  experience– is that the deeper wisdom of our soul knows the direction in which we need to proceed in order to become all we can be, and how long it may take to get there. The astrological cycles can put us in touch with that spark of divinity within each of us,offering profound insights into what a waning cycle has been about, and what the newly-forming one might bring. They also teach us that‘… there is… a time to every purpose under the heaven…’ (i)

Our egos, located in human, ordinary time, can often rail against this when we don’t like what we see of the shape of things to come, or how long a particular transitional period is going to take. Try consulting your ephemeris, as I did at the end of 1998, to realise that I was about to have a series of sixth house Neptune oppositions to twelfth house planets lasting from 1999 until 2012, as well as the ending/beginning of five major cycles. It was some immersion, I can tell you. Did my ego rail against it? You bet. I had to quit my career in 2002, and did not begin to surface, via writing on the Web at first, until 2008, not returning to consulting and teaching until 2012.

But guess what? I now look back on that period, when I felt liminal approximately twenty-four hours a day for years, as the most soul-enriching of my entire life. One of the many lessons I took from that period was to pay close attention especially to the feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction and uncertainty which herald the end of, for example, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn which we all share. Many of us recall – or are experiencing now! – the turbulence and pain of the end of our twenties, from which most of us emerged or will emerge by around the age of thirty-three with a much clearer idea of who we are, and most importantly, who we are not.

Those difficult feelings and experiences occurring in the twelfth house phase of any major cycle are part of the dissolution of the old order of that part of our lives. An ending must take place– so that new energy may arise, taking us forward to the next stage of our unfolding.

 Astrology’s great gift is to show us that we are not random butterflies pinned to the board of Fate. We each have our small, meaningful strand to weave into life’s vast tapestry. In the end, it was consent to my tough and frightening period of liminality, patient waiting, the love and support I was fortunate to have, and trust in the wisdom of the Unseen that got me through. So, my liminal fellow travellers, take heart. The old order may be waning, but something fresh and new is surely arising…

Endnotes:

(i) Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 King James Version (KJV)

Lunar Wisdom
Lunar Wisdom

The astro-view from Scotland” was the bi-monthly column I wrote for Dell Horoscope Magazine from January/February 2017 until the last issue of  Dell in March/April 2020. This is a slightly edited version of my ninth column which first appeared in the May/June 2018 issue.

******

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

Some thoughts on the Spring Equinox horoscope 2021: powerful women arising!

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 felt dispirited ( my thoughts in mid January 2021, with a column due the next day!!) ) at the thought of coming up with anything relevant to say in my then mood, best described as ‘zombie slug’ mode. The latest covid lockdown has deprived all of us in the UK and many parts of the world of most activity involving direct social contact with our fellow human beings. 

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)

2021 Spring Equinox + Asteroids

2021 Spring Equinox + Asteroids

Later…

After three days’ procrastination, a much cheerier mood prevailed as I began 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!!

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: February 17th (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 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 Harris made 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 Merkel are 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…

Endnotes

(i) Via Twitter: www.cnn.com 05.31 20/01/21.  © Anne Whitaker 2021 1250 words

(This post is an edited version of my 33rd Not the Astrology Column featured in the March/April 2021 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.)

1200 words ©Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

 

The Pisces New Moon: a time for contemplation, not action…

Every year, the time from the New Moon in Pisces to the New Moon in Aries can be seen as the zodiacal year’s 12th House phase, its Balsamic phase: Moondark of the entire annual zodiacal cycle.

I was born at the very end of Moondark, with the Moon only three degrees behind the Sun, and both those Lights plus three other planets in the twelfth house of my horoscope. So – twelfth house/Balsamic/Moondark phases of any month, year or indeed planetary cycle whether progressed or by transit affect me very deeply and interest me profoundly.

I have learned over decades to live with those complex stages reasonably productively, so I hope that my musings in this post during the approaching Moondark of the whole year of 2020/21 will  provide productive food for thought and appropriate contemplation!

Moondark describes the end of any cycle – the 12th house phase – whether we are contemplating the monthly Sun/Moon one or the epoch-defining 500 year long Neptune/Pluto cycle. It is the time of withdrawal and dissolution of energy – think of wintertime, the stripped trees, the cold, barren earth – a time of dark power in which the old order dies at a number of different levels, so that fertile energy can emerge from the womb of the night.

It occurred to me some years ago that this ancient astronomical pattern of the yearly phases of the Sun/Moon relationship and its attendant meaning in the yearly cycle had been taken up and overlaid – as with so many of the old pagan yearly traditions – by Christianity. Easter and Christ’s Resurrection could be roughly mapped onto the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere around the 20th of March each year, followed by the Aries New Moon and the beginning of Spring.

In Christianity, the forty days preceding Easter when Christ retreated into the wilderness to wrestle with various temptations, to fast and to pray, is known as Lent: a time of watching, waiting, self-denial, contemplation and prayer.

The March/April period each year is also observed at various times by other religious traditions including Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism. The  ancient longing, waiting for the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere and with it the renewal of Spring has deep roots: to a time when our ancestors’ whole existence was predicated closely upon the path of the Sun and the Sun/Moon relationship.

Thus, despite all the sophisticated technological trappings of 21st Century living, my feeling based on observation of my own, my clients’ and students’ lives over several decades is that at a deep psychological level these ancient patterns still affect us whether we are consciously aware of them or not.

That wonderfully poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt puts it beautifully:

“…Balsamic begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun…Our physical energy is necessarily as low as our psychic energy is high. We’re at a threshold, ending one cycle while anticipating a new one round the corner. We might want to get into motion, but our bodies are tired. Our clarity and focus wane, like the Balsamic Moon herself, rising thinner and fainter each morning until she eventually disappears altogether, lost in the Sun’s glare. This is the Dark Moon.

Much of the time we won’t know whether we’re finishing up or leaning toward the future, whether we’re being truly psychic or simply dreaming – which is why this is a better period for introspection than for action. Without the dormancy of winter, spring’s (or the New Moon’s) seeds cannot mature…”(i)

So – this is the Moondark phase of the whole of 2020/21 about to begin with the Pisces New Moon on Saturday 13th March. And –  right now is the Moondark phase of the whole month from the New Moon in Aquarius on 11 February 2021.  I feel pretty amazed that I was able to get out of bed today, never mind write a blog post! as Dana Gerhardt wisely says:

‘…this is a better period for introspection than for action…’

So – it might be productive for us to spend some time just now and over the upcoming Pisces New Moon period in reflecting on the ending phases of those major cycles which we all share: the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, the 18-19 year cycle of the Moon’s Nodes, the 27-year cycle of the progressed Moon, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn, and the 50 year cycle of Chiron.

What were you doing in the last year or so – the Moondark period –   of each of those cycles? What had changed by the time the new cycle had begun to take shape after 1-2 years? Depending on your age, you may by now be able to look back through eg three or four or more cycles of Jupiter, or eg two cycles of Saturn? What themes can you detect which have unfolded through these cycles and repeats? I have really enjoyed working in this way over many years with my clients, students and mentorees – and myself. There is much understanding and learning to be gained from such reflection.

There is already plenty of commentary of varying quality across the Web regarding the nature of this upcoming Pisces New Moon, and what we might expect it to bring. I’ll be sharing (on this blog’s Facebook Page) one or two of what I think are the best of those writings as the Pisces New Moon waxes.

At a personal level, we will need to ‘go with the flow’, disruptive though it may well be, as much as we can. It’s a good time for letting things hang loose, not making any definite plans and expecting if we do, that things may very well not go smoothly.

At a collective level, what strikes me most powerfully as this zodiacal year ends is how weary we all are now of the lockdowns and restrictions necessitated since last March 2020 by attempts with varying degrees of success to control the Covid pandemic sweeping the world. There is increasing hope, as Spring gathers pace, that we will gain some freedom at last as the pace of vaccination speeds up, and the rates of infection gradually diminish.

So – let’s hope that we can all keep our heads above turbulent waters, and learn a bit more from whatever experiences come our way, as the month unfolds prior to the Aries New Moon on 12th April, the true beginning of the astrological New Year…

Endnotes:

(i) from Dana’s Moonwatching series on Astrodienst: https://www.astro.com/info/in_dg_balsamic_e.htm

1100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House