Monthly Archives: July 2009

An astrologer racks her brain cell….

As part of the process of promoting “Jupiter meets Uranus”, I have been doing some interviews. This one was particular fun to do, since Wendy of that excellent site The Know It All Astrologer sent me a list of questions which I was not expecting at all! The unexpected, of course, is useful for jolting one’s remaining brain cell into something approaching dynamic action….


Interview between The Know It All Astrologer and Scottish astrologer Anne Whitaker


Anne W

Anne W

What transit always shows up for you in surprising ways?

They all do, especially the long-lasting ones. The deep challenges that force our growth lurk in the realms of the unconscious, just waiting to hitch a ride on the nearest really tough transit. For example, I didn’t think that ten years of Neptune transits was going to involve an enforced descent into the Underworld for most of that period! However, the good news is that I have now emerged, much improved (unless you ask my husband….!) with enough notes to keep me writing for a further ten years.

What is your funniest transit or retrograde experience?

There are several, not all of which can be aired publicly! The one which comes immediately to mind is the occasion, in March 1985, when Saturn turned retrograde on my 28 Scorpio IC. In the middle of lunch with an old friend who at that time was a bank manager, without warning, I passed out. Just then, a friend of his, who was also a bank manager, was passing by the restaurant window. I came round and insisted on going home – very groggily, with a bank manager holding me up by each arm. Very Saturn in Scorpio, don’t you think?!

Would you rather be ruled by Uranus or Jupiter? Why?

What a question! Both those planets are strong in my horoscope, Uranus in the tenth house leading an eastern bowl shape, with Jupiter in the third closing the bowl, and the two in bi-quintile aspect. My Ascendant is also on the Jupiter/Uranus midpoint. However, if forced to choose I would go for Jupiter, provided the aspects weren’t too difficult. My reasons are probably dictated by the stage I’ve got to in life: that disruptive, eccentric, unpredictable, stubborn individualism characteristic of a Uranus-ruled life feels too tiring to contemplate now!

Jupiter’s boundless energy and optimism, ability to inspire others and be inspired by the more positive dimensions of  life, and willingness to be open to a sense of meaningful connectedness to that which is greater than oneself, are especially attractive to me at this point.

What advice would you give to someone learning how to read their own chart?

One, there are dozens of ways of evading personal responsibility – resolve at the outset never to do so by blaming your horoscope or your transits for your difficulties in life.

Two, realise that objectivity is something to be aspired to, which can never be achieved by mere human beings. This being the case, try to recognise that you can be most objective and therefore most helpful by reading the horoscopes of strangers, provided you have appropriate training and supervision. When approaching your own horoscope, or those of your loved ones, you will inevitably colour the planetary picture before you with your own hopes and fears.

Three, the illuminating light which is gradually cast as your understanding of  the symbols in your chart grows, will be wonderfully helpful in shedding light on your gifts, pains, motivations and aspirations. But bear in mind that possessing astrological knowledge has a shadow side – for example, I have never known anyone including myself who didn’t look at upcoming transits, especially of Saturn and Pluto, without a certain amount of fear. To help my astrology students with this,  I used to point out that 99.9% of the human race from the beginning of time has managed to stagger through life without the aid of astrology! So – enjoy the fascination of  deciphering the astrological map of your life. But don’t get too precious about it – and be aware that this wonderful knowledge has a double edge….

What astrology books do you re-read or use the most?

The two astrologers who have most inspired and educated me have been Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey, with both of whom I was fortunate to study – unofficially from the mid-1980s and formally between 1995 and 1998. As reference books for my interest in mundane astrology, my three favourites are: The outer planets and their Cycles by Liz Greene,  Anima Mundi – the astrology of the individual and the collective by Charles Harvey, and Mundane Astrology by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey.

My copy of Stephen Arroyo’s Astrology, Karma and Transformation , that wonderful in-depth companion on the ‘stormy journey of the soul’ is now so well-thumbed that it is starting to fall to bits – and when I feel like some outrageous, light-hearted, funny, but deadly accurate astrological analysis I turn to Debbi Kempton-Smith’s Secrets from a stargazer’s notebook.


Anne Whitaker has been an astrologer since the 1983 Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius. She also has a long background in adult education, social work, counselling and supervision. Anne holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology where she studied with Liz Greene and Charles Harvey (1995-98 London, UK), an MA degree, and postgraduate diplomas in education and social work. Based in Glasgow in Scotland, she is now focusing on writing, and on running “Writing from the Twelfth House” which has just been included in the prestigious and prolific USA astrology blogger Jude Cowell’s Top 10 Astrology Blogs 2009.

(permission to re-publish this interview, first posted on 18 June 2009, has been given by The Know It All Astrologer)

900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

About a Tree: could elf ‘n safety please leave the building?!

There has always been collective fear. At some profound inner level, we know as human beings just how fragile we are, very temporary tiny blips of matter clinging to a small speck of planetary gravel hurtling through space/time at vast velocity. We spend a lot of time, energy and sheer ingenuity setting up an intricate variety of personal and social defences to shield us from this fact.

But we are still prone to outbreaks of mass panic. Does anyone remember the Millennium Bug against which it cost millions of dollars world-wide to protect ourselves? I seem to recall that a Hong Kong taxi driver’s meter going slightly wonky at midnight on the dreaded day was about the stretch of it….

Now we have Swine Flu. The UK populace, to offer one small global example, is being whipped into a frenzied lather over an infection which, so far, we are told kills no more people than average winter flu which has been around for a very long time.It may in time turn out to be very serious indeed. It may not. In the meantime, could we all please calm down?

The apparently increasing tendency to panic, over-react and attempt to protect ourselves from any imaginable risk, great or small, reminded me of an upsetting incident which occurred in our neighbourhood four years ago. I wrote an impassioned article about it at the time, and thought it might be timeous to publish it here, as a reminder that we badly need collectively to try and find a way of getting a grip!!!  Restoring an appropriate sense of proportion regarding what constitutes real danger, and what does not, appears to be increasingly required.

I hope you enjoy this piece, and that it will strike a chord with a few readers….


About a Tree

“ Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? ”

(Joni Mitchell ‘Big Yellow Taxi’)

Not always. We knew what we had. Now it’s gone. Well, no….we have been left its remains as a perpetual reminder. Ten sturdy feet of mature trunk, a shocking, new slash. Then nothing. Our fabulous beech tree, probably planted when Napoleon was our national enemy, is no more.

Felled - by elf 'n safety....

Felled – by elf ‘n safety….

Seventy five feet, one hundred and fifty years. Home to owls, crows, jays, pigeons, sparrows, robins, squirrels, insects innumerable. Marker of the four seasons, slow to leaf in spring. Last year, I began to note the date in May of its first greening.

Now it’s gone.

Overlooking a city river, and one of the public parks for which the city of Glasgow is famed as ‘the dear green place’, we live three floors up – opposite the beech tree. It stood centred in our vision from the oriel window of the front room. We liked watching the sunset filter through its wide spread branches and plentiful leaves. Insomniac often in the pre-dawn, I used to stand drinking a comforting cup of tea, watching the slow morning light reveal the beech in all its familiar detail, and listening to its very own dawn chorus.

Happy, I’ve gazed at the tree. Sad, grieved, I have been comforted by its steadfast presence. It has always restored perspective to know that the beech tree was witness to the joys and sorrows of  many predecessors, in this hundred and ten year old building which has been our home for the last twenty years.

Nature anchors and balances all of us. It gives us our life and absorbs our death. It reminds us that there is an immutable cycle of birth, growth, maturity, decline, death and rebirth; we share that with galaxies and gnats alike.

To city dwellers, green spaces and the trees that dwell in them are vital though unseen supporters of health and well-being of mind, body and spirit. This Spring, we  found out how much the old beech tree meant to many of our neighbours.  I was not the only one standing at a window or on the street in tears, watching its protracted and unseemly destruction. Ours was one of many households who phoned with questions, anger, grief and challenge.

We were given only one day’s notice that tree clearing would be taking place on our street – could we please park our cars elsewhere for 13th and 14th April? We were not consulted. None of us imagined that the “tree clearing” would include the felling of an old, mildly diseased (as we all are, over the age of fifty !) but still beautiful, substantial and much admired tree.

What sort of society have we become?

Had our local community, via the Community Council, been consulted; had the explanations and reassurances, provided in extremis to individual households after the event, been given in advance; had apologies been offered for distress caused; then the loss of our tree might have been easier to bear.

There are times when one “small” incident illuminates the values of the whole culture within which it occurs.

The “small incident” of the destruction of our local tree illuminated two strands in our current social weave with stark clarity.

One, failure in bureaucratic decision-making to quantify the positive physical, emotional and spiritual impact of the natural world on the humans and other creatures who are embedded in it, in both local, national and global management of our Earth.

Two, failure by organisations and their personnel to treat their fellow human beings on whose behalf they are operating with respect and courtesy. Unpopular decisions have to be made at every level, everywhere. Society could not function otherwise.These decisions can be right, wrong, or equivocal. But they could be presented with care and courtesy within a context of adequate consultation. The opposite is the norm.

I won’t trouble the reader with all the details of the explanation we were given. No doubt the decision to chop down our tree was right, wrong or equivocal depending on the lens through which one views it. But there is one element  worth singling out which, once again, illuminates the bigger picture. The tree was described as “a danger”. A branch, weakened eventually by disease, might fall off and hit someone. A flash flood might weaken the roots, causing the tree to crash down on the walkway below.

For heaven’s sake, what is wrong with us?

Western society is currently losing its sense of proportion as it sinks into ease, comfort, convenience – and avoidance of risk of any kind. We need to stop distracting ourselves by projecting our underlying collective fear of the consequences of what we are doing to our planet, onto the ubiquitous, ordinary risks which have always threatened us all in every second by the very fact that we are alive.

Instead, we could turn our civic energies to the local task in our small nation of improving Scotland’s abysmal record on recycling, and the global task of consuming less fossil fuel. I feel confident that I am not the only person who views, with growing horror, the present tendency to consume civic energy and money performing increasingly ridiculous pre-emptive strikes on imagined risks which might be sue-able.

Every time we look out of our third floor window at the large chunk of empty sky where the ghost of our tree still hangs, we feel a pang of impotent anger and sadness. In time this will fade – but the truncated corpse which the Parks Department elected to leave (” to promote bio-diversity”….!! ), remains as an eloquent reminder that our neighbourhood has been diminished.

The destruction of our much loved local beech tree may well add to a sense of alienation from the natural world, and feelings of impotence and apathy in the face of bureaucracies whose judgements of what is important to human beings are narrow and shallow. On the other hand, it may have the opposite effect, making us more aware than before of the importance of the natural environment, and more determined that this local area will not be ‘managed’ without our involvement.

I hope that our angry and pained local reaction, piecemeal though it was forced to be by lack of notice, will have some impact on the busy and no doubt overworked and harrassed folk in the Parks Department. Putting appropriate value on Nature’s importance to overall well-being, and  courtesy to their fellow citizens, should be fundamental parts of the ‘best’ they are probably trying to do on our behalf.

(written in April 2005)

1100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


“…. the miracle of the living soul ….”

All my life’s work has been with people: as an adult education teacher in many settings, as a psychiatric social worker, as a private counsellor, trainer and supervisor of counsellors – and as a professional astrologer and astrology teacher. At the core of this apparent vocational diversity has been, I now understand, the same drive. It is that urge to find meaningful contexts for my own tiny, ephemeral spark of life, whilst offering some affirmation to others that their tiny flame matters too: it is worth struggling to get our light to burn with a purer and brighter radiance.

Something ineffable and charged can on occasions arise in deep communication between one person and another – those in the helping professions and their clients are by no means the sole partakers of this context. There is a moment in which the feeling of safety, intimacy, trust, empathy and openness of exchange becomes so intense that the level on which two people are interacting shifts from ‘ordinary’ to numinous.

The Diamond Soul

The Diamond Soul

In that moment, (to my subjective recollection) both souls are held, in a state of grace, in the palm of some vast invisible benevolent Hand. Both sparks of life are suspended in a sense of the sacred….

Such a state can never be evoked. It can only be bestowed – fleeting, memorable, perhaps life changing.

Coming across the following quotes recently thus struck a profound chord:

first, from Jung –

“ That is why I say to any beginner: learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of the living soul. Not theories but your creative individuality alone must decide.”

Carl Jung from “Contributions to Analytical Psychology” quoted in Self and Society Vol 27 No 1 March 1999, p 22.

second, from ‘Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson, p 51 –

“ When people come to speak to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the ‘I’ whose predicate can be ‘love’ or ‘fear’ or ‘want’, and whose object can be ‘someone’ or ‘nothing’ and it won’t really matter, because the loveliness is just in that presence, shaped around ‘I’ like a flame on a wick, emanating itself in grief and guilt and joy and whatever else …. To see this aspect of life is a privilege of the ministry which is seldom mentioned.”

(‘Gilead’, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is a wonderful novel in which, towards the end of Rev John Ames’ life in 1956, he begins a letter to his young son, setting down all that he wishes to communicate which impending death will otherwise render impossible.)

I urge you to read it for its humanity and its wisdom.


450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page