Anne Whitaker's blog exploring astrology's many highways and byways…come and join me!
Author: Anne Whitaker
My main blog is 'Writing from the Twelfth House', exploring astrology's many highways and byways ... updated September 2019 after taking a break from 2016. (Also - check out an extensive article archive May 2008 - May 2016: celebrating our connections with '...mystery, meaning, pattern and purpose...')
'Astrology: Questions and Answers' is now an astrology article archive June 2013- August 2019. Drop by and enjoy browsing its many and varied topics!
Psychological astrologer, writer, teacher, mentor: MA, Dip Ed, Dip Social Work, Dip Psych Astrol. Working in person and on Zoom.
It’s all identity politics’ fault. Trying to come up with a Big Picture context for this 21st century phenomenon has led me all the way to contemplating the so-called Aquarian Age, such a cultural cliche by now that I usually prefer to let the ageing braincell focus on fresher topics. However, bear with me. I think I’ve got to something which might intrigue you.
But first, a definition of identity politics by Nicholas Campion in his book Astrology, History and Apocalypse: such politics involve ‘groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social or cultural identity [who] tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.’
Does this suggest the shadow side of the Leo theme to anyone? It certainly does to me.
Given that polarity, i.e. the interplay of opposites, is a fundamental generator of the life force (think egg, sperm and first division of fertilised egg here), this by astro-logic brings us to Aquarius, Leo’s opposite. Aquarius is fundamentally concerned with the group. As the Aquarian and English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748- 1832) so famously stated of the utilitarian principle in A Fragment on Government:
‘It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong’.
To be clear: I do not subscribe to the touchy-feely idea that the Aquarian Age, if it exists at all, is bringing or will bring an era of universal brotherly love (or siblinghood of person if you prefer). The evidence from our contemporary world would suggest otherwise. Moreover, Nicholas Campion has collected around 100 dates for the supposed commencement of the Age of Aquarius from around 1260 AD to around 2300 AD.
However, I am intrigued by Carl Jung’s notion, set forth in his essay ‘The Sign of the Fish’ (from Aion, Volume 9, Part 2 of Jung’s Collected Works ) that when world ages change, i.e., when the first point of Aries can be seen against the backdrop of e.g., the constellation of Aquarius, having shifted backwards from its 2000 or so years’ traverse of the previous constellation of Pisces – roughly the era of Christianity – we begin to perceive/project the Divine differently.
We have been going through an enormous technological revolution in recent decades as science makes huge strides. Mapping the human genome, expanding our view of the vast universe we inhabit via wonderful Hubble then James Webb telescope images, and linking much of the human population via the Internet and mobile phone technology are but a few examples. You could even argue that a new religion is arising: Scientism, which holds that only the 5% of the cosmos which we can perceive through our senses or test out through the procedures of reductionism, is worth considering.
It is my view that, as societies become increasingly secular and materialistic throughout the world, we are beginning to project the Divine onto science and technology … even to the extent in some quarters that the prolonging of human life indefinitely into some kind of techno-immortality is perceived as eventually being possible. Pushing the boundaries of science forward just because it can be done conjures the spectres of Dr Frankenstein and his monster, immortalised in Mary Shelley’s modern myth, Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus. It also speaks strongly of the shadow side of the Aquarian theme which doesn’t mind how many individual lives it disrupts or destroys in the name of revolutionary change.
Hence its Leo shadow opposite arising, in the shape of identity politics as defined at the start of this column.
Reflecting on the stubbornly fixed positions which have increasingly been taken up in recent times – as expressed in political discourse, religious conflicts and environmental activism – has evoked for me the fixed cross in the horoscope’s astrological symbolism (shown below): this comprises the four angles upon which every chart hangs: Ascendant (AS), Imum Coeli (IC), Descendant (DS) and Medium Coeli (MC or Midheaven). Since the Ascendant-Descendant horizontal axis speaks of the here and now of our individual and collective lives, how about placing Aquarius on the AS with Leo opposite on the DS? Thus, we see the march of technological progress for the supposed benefit of us all (Aquarius) , not presently getting along too well with individual identities (Leo) in various forms.
The IC-MC axis speaks of roots (IC) from which our future direction (MC) arises. The Taurus IC is the ground on which we stand, our Mother Earth. Scorpio on the MC opposite speaks of the deep crisis which our home planet is facing. If humanity is to survive into the future, we need to develop radically different ways of living. The old materialist order is currently dying – the evidence is everywhere. The question is, what will replace it?
I have found contemplating this metaphor of the astrological fixed cross, which condenses the polarised conflicts of our current era into four fundamental themes, powerfully illuminating.
We need to find a way forward: from our present stubbornly fixed shadow positions, to a situation where respect both for the dignity of individual rights and for the greatest good of the greatest number is harnessed and directed towards respect and care for our Mother planet. Perhaps the consequences of the harsh pressure on all our institutions and structures via the long 2008-2024 transit of Pluto through Capricorn will force us in the direction we need to go when Pluto settles into the revolutionary sign of Aquarius from November 2024.
I certainly hope so…
This is an edited version of an essay which first appeared in my The Astro-View from Scotland column in Dell Horoscope Magazine (2019), and most recently on pp 325-8 of “Postcards to the Future”, my collection of 60 essays, articles , columns and research from 1995-2021.
This month, we reflect on the key transits and 84 year cycle of Uranus, the great Disrupter of the zodiac. We also take time to consider the Chiron cycle of 50 years, and its impact, sharing some moving stories. Chiron is best known in his mythical garb as the Wounded Healer; we also consider him in his perhaps lesser well-known role as the Inconvenient Benefic.
In this conversation, we share some very funny personal anecdotes regarding Uranus transits’ capacity to turn life upside-down with (eventually) positive outcomes. We also share some deeply moving personal stories both from our client work ( anonymously of course) and from our own lives where one can see both the wounding and healing dimensions of the Chiron archetype at work.
So – take a break, settle down, and enjoy our dialogue as you reflect on how those two great planetary forces have impacted on YOUR life…
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts...”
I’ve been an astrologer for a long time now. I’ve long shed my cherished illusion that having the profound gift of astrological knowledge with the deep insights it can offer into self, other people and the wider world, must surely make one a better person. This one did not surface very well from being dipped into the acid bath of Life as it Actually Is on Planet Earth.
Photo: Mezquita, Spain, Anne Whitaker 2018
Astrologers are just the same as everyone else when it comes to the spectrum of human behaviours from light to dark. You can offer a range of people the illuminating lens of astrological knowledge all you like. Each person, be they client, student or practitioner of astrology, will surely bring to the view through that lens the person they actually are. Astrological knowledge, as Solzhenitsyn points out here in general terms with such eloquent wisdom, is utilised for good or ill depending on the person who engages with it.
It has been with all this very much in mind that I have been contemplating the proliferation and explosion of engagement with ‘astrology’ in its widest possible definition as the social media revolution has taken off in recent years. I’ve spoken enough with colleagues I respect, with my students, and with open-minded members of the general public, to know that this has been a decidedly mixed gift brought to us by the amazing advances in technology which have swept our world along in recent times. I have had a number of essays published on this topic, as I observe the vast symbolic shift taking place as revealed by the larger planetary cycles. We are caught up in the turbulence of a New World Order emerging.
“…We can expect more stunning scientific leaps forward, and new ways for the human community to organise itself in the next two hundred years, as we move into the Air era with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0 degrees Aquarius in 2020, followed by Pluto’s (final) shift into that sign in 2024. Let’s hope we can use our ingenuity and our interconnectedness in this epoch arising, to find methods of organising our communities which no longer depend on destroying the Earth upon which we all stand…”
Personally, I have been heartened and inspired by the open-minded interest in astrology ‘beyond the sun signs’ shown by many of the young people I engage with these days. The 18-35 demographic in particular are true seekers after constructive contexts within which to place their lives as their world becomes ever-more turbulent and difficult as the environmental /cost of living crises intensify. However, I am also pretty appalled by the sheer amount of facile and often dangerous rubbish under the umbrella term ‘astrology’ which has found its way via social media into the public realm. I know amongst my colleagues and the wider public that I am not alone in this view.
In my recent collection of 60 published essays, articles and columns “Postcards to the Future” I have a whole section in which I mull over the issue of ethics and practitioner responsibility in the practice of astrology. This seems a good time to share one of the pieces from that section. Experienced and responsible astrologers cannot stem the tide of rubbish which ebbs and flows along with the genuinely enlightening and valuable astrological material ‘out there’ these days. But we can raise issues centring on good practice. We can also set a good example of ethical and responsible astrological education and practice which some aspiring astrologers and teacher might care to emulate.
Here is the extract:
The ethics of astrological practice: a Question needing an Answer…
I like it when the day throws up a compelling hot topic for my blog first thing – even if I am still half asleep at the time! A particular exchange of questions and answers recently with two commenters on Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page woke me up very quickly. (Names have been changed) Angela:“Do you do astrology ?I would love to have mine done sometime but I don’t know who does it? Any ideas?”
Ryan:“I’ve stumbled upon dozens of bloggers who give readings, you just have to look…”
Me: Ryan, it may well be the case that one can stumble upon lots of bloggers doing readings, but Angela needs to be careful to choose someone who is well experienced and qualified, preferably with their work insured and supervised, with an adequate degree of experience in reading horoscopes, counselling training, and a well developed sense of awareness of the power and responsibility that is taken on by virtue of reading people’s horoscopes. The late, much-missed Donna Cunningham, if you care to visit her excellent SkyWriter blog, has written about the negative and irresponsible things that some people can say when reading their fellow citizens’ charts. It would be instructive for anyone contemplating booking a reading to go over to Donna’s blog and read about some of this alarming material, which by its existence emphasises the importance of prospective clients choosing carefully if they wish their charts to be read constructively and responsibly. Here is a short quote from Donna Cunningham’s 4.12.2014 post, which supports my response to Angela and to Ryan: “…For many years, I had a monthly advice column in Dell Horoscope Magazine, a Dear Abby type column in which readers wrote their problems and I answered based on their astrology charts. Part of the job description for that column seemed to be putting out fires that other astrologers have set, for I got many letters from readers who were devastated by the way their chart reading was handled. These letters pointed to the need for true and responsible professional training in our field and the need, especially, for a certain amount of counseling training. Like it or not, counseling is what an astrologer does each time a client comes for a reading….” ….from Awful Things Astrologers Say to their Clients
My background in astrology I have been an astrology practitioner, teacher and writer for over thirty years now. However, I remain awestruck by the power that astrology holds, when used responsibly with compassion and sensitivity, to offer creative and constructive guidance to clients as their lives unfold. It is incredibly affirming to be able to say – either directly or by inference, depending on what that particular client needs at that time – “Here is your unique little chip of the cosmos into which you were born. Use the energies therein as best you can, given the gifts and limitations we are all handed at the outset – which I will try to convey to you as honestly and constructively as possible. Try to work with those energies well enough to be able to hand your chip back with a little more light shining through it at the end of your days.” A sense of connection to an unfolding, meaningful energy weave where each of us has a thread to contribute, is a wonderful antidote to the feelings of anomie, disconnectedness and woundedness which so many people seem to be feeling at this time of great turbulence and upheaval. However, the task of placing another person’s life in a context for them which makes their life’s current challenges easier to bear, helping them to work with often very painful circumstances as constructively as possible – how many people come for astrology readings when life is bowling smoothly along? Not many, in my experience! – is not straightforward, easy, or to be embarked upon lightly. It should not be embarked upon lightly or casually. I can still recall, in the early days of my astrology practice, being extremely grateful that I had had a number of years of social work, psychiatric work, and counselling practice in which to ground myself. There is nothing quite like having to face the limitations of your capacity to help other people, which is a major dimension of social work, to ground you and keep you humble when taking upon yourself the power that being an astrologer brings. I was fortunate enough to have been a student of Liz Greene’s for most of the 1990s. An entry requirement to study for the Diploma in Psychological Astrology which I completed in 1998, was that all students be in therapy for a year. It was made clear to us, in Liz Greene’s inimitable way, that we should not take upon ourselves the responsibility of being astrological practitioners without having the experience of a long seat in the client’s chair ourselves. Concluding comments So, Ryan, I do hope that my response to your casual comment, with which no doubt you meant no harm, has not left you feeling too winded! And I thank you for making it, thereby giving me the opportunity to put forward my own thoughts regarding the great capacity for doing ill as well as good that astrologers take on when they read their fellow citizens’ horoscopes. ‘At least do no harm’ is the bottom line of the medical profession. It should be ours too. Angela, if you are reading this, do not be too put off. There are many competent, compassionate, realistic, empathic astrologers out there. Just take your sweet time to make sure you seek out a good one!
“…This book is rich in everything! It is a collection of articles combining personal experience, Astrological Research and fabulous observation. Anne Whitaker writes in a personable, and entertaining style, drawing us deep into the beautiful world of Astrology. From Anaretic degrees to the role of the Moon’s Nodes, Anne shares her perspective and experience, inviting the reader to think about their own experiences and adding to their knowledge. This is a book written by a great teacher and one which I recommend to my students, as well as to all who have a passion for this ancient subject…”
An example: the Jupiter Cycle Think for a moment about your life pattern: most of us begin secondary or high school between the ages of 11-12. The essence of this stage is that of opening up to a bigger, more challenging life. Hopefully as we are exposed to a broader subject range and more in-depth study, we begin to see more options appear, with new possibilities. Maybe we experience our first trip abroad, learn a new language, develop new passions (in more ways than one!). Or we may relocate with our family, eg if one parent takes on a new post in another country. Astrologers view this 11-12 age in symbolic terms as the first Jupiter Return. Astronomically, if you were born eg when the planet Jupiter was at 19 Taurus of the 360 degrees circle of the Sun’s path through the heavens as viewed from Earth, (where it is now, on 20.7.23) it will return to that position every 11.6 years throughout your life: 11-12, 23-4, 35-6, 47-8, 59-60 and so on. Core meanings, new possibilities Each time, the core meaning is the same, as new possibilities of one kind or another open up, taking your life further along the path of discovery and learning. Jupiter’s symbolic action works in this way in essence for us all, although there are many branches of possible manifestation arising from the Jupiterian core. Each person’s horoscope offers a different ‘take’on the core principles or characters of each of the planets occupying Life’s stage as revealed by a horoscope or birth chart drawn up for the date, place, and all-important exact time of birth. Working creatively with Cycles, Fate and free will A competent and experienced astrologer can be very useful in helping you via examination of the planetary symbols and other features in your horoscope, to understand yourself and your world more clearly. S/He can also, by examining the unfolding patterns of your life via the planetary cycles, look backwards into the past, examine the present, and give you some idea of the essence of what is coming up next. This can help you to understand your past, live more realistically in the present, and ‘set your sails to the prevailing wind’ as a new cycle takes shape and unfolds over the next few years. Through this interaction both you and the astrologer are ideally working creatively with the balance of Fate (eg your Jupiter cycles will always begin with Jupiter in Taurus if your birth date is 20.7.23) and free will or agency depending on your particular life circumstances, the degree of self-awareness you have, and the choices you make. Thus, knowledge of the core meanings of each of the planets, and how their cycles unfold as Time passes, can be very useful even to those of you who have an open-minded interest in astrology without necessarily knowing very much about it. Talking Cycles with Ana Isabel : Part One Ana and I have now had several enjoyable conversations on a variety of astrological topics including Anaretic Degrees, Fate and Neptune; Ghosts, Spirits, Impressions and Predictions; and Astrology’s Dragons (the Moon’s Nodes) in the last year or so.
Last week, we embarked on a conversation about one of my favourite astrological topics, the cycles of the planets. Exploring our work with students, clients, and examples from our own lives, we touched on the 11-12 year cycles of Jupiter (as per the example offered earlier in this post) , the 29-30 year cycles of Saturn, that planetary taskmaster who challenges us to shed our illusions, take responsibility for the reality of who we actually are, and grow up. We also touched on the 18-19 year cycle of the Moon’s Nodes, whose South Node point shows us where we have come from, and the North Node which guides us, like a constant Northern Star, in the direction our soul needs to go in this life.
Enjoy listening, do leave a comment to let us know what you think or share your own experiences…
****** We will be returning for Part Two before long, discussing and exploring more cycles including the fascinating 50 year return cycle of Chiron, the Wounded Healer as he is commonly known. Watch this space!
Victor Olliver edits the UK’s Astrological Journal: I’ve had a column there – “Not the Astrology Column” since 2015, and Victor also edited my recent collection of 60 published essays, articles and columns ‘Postcards to the Future’. I recently read a piece of his shared on social media, reflecting on the links between sea, faith and his church connections (i), and was so struck by the similarities with a piece on a similar Neptunian theme I’d written some years previously (ii) that I sent it to him.
Photo : Anne Whitaker
Here are brief quotes from Victor’s piece, titled ‘The sea, the sea’:
From a young age I was drawn to symbols and spirituality, and have passed through many different religions, including Spiritualism. During Anglican church services one hears the phrase “the mystery of faith” and I like this a lot…
…And I have always obsessed about sea waves – how each is unique and dramatic. I mean to read Iris Murdoch’s novel The Sea, the Sea one day. The sea is “forever restarting,” as the poet Paul Valéry put it, and this idea makes me feel optimistic. I don’t know whether God speaks to me, but the sea does. It’s a language of the senses…
Here is a brief quote from my piece, titled ‘Sea as Church’:
The mind-calming, meditative facets of sea, and centuries-old church ritual, can lull us into peace, calming the heart and uplifting the spirit. Both sea and Church in their differing ways can restore a sense of the balance and interweaving of matter and spirit – “spirit is a lighter form of matter, matter is a denser form of spirit” – and provide a reminder that the small, limited, mundane world which we inhabit is set to the compass of eternity.
Chiron moved into Aries on 17th April 2018, settling in to go direct by February 18th 2019, just before the whole world was upended and traumatised by a world-wide pandemic, and is now half way through his journey in that sign just as we are emerging from the havoc generated by Covid-19 to the accompaniment of the worst war on European soil since the end of World War Two.
Chiron remains in Aries until his final exit in 2027. This half way point seems good timing for taking stock as covid-related deaths (upwards of 3 million at the last estimate), economic damage and social devastation take their toll with world financial stability looking less than reassuring . We are a very wounded human community at present; we seem intent in many ways on wounding rather than healing both ourselves, our communities and nations, and most seriously of all, our Mother Planet.
I find it compelling that a century ago (i), as the world was emerging traumatised from the ghastly upheaval of the First World War of 1914-18, Chiron was preparing to move into Aries on February 18th 1919, co-inciding with the deadly Spanish Flu of 1918-20 in which 25–50 million (generally accepted) people died.
As Dr Liz Greene says in her eagerly awaited new book on Chiron (ii):
“…Healing Chiron’s wound, in my understanding, doesn’t lie in trying to create a perfect society or never experiencing suffering again, but in each of us coming to terms with the roots and nature of our own individual pain, bitterness, and sense of victimisation, and finding ways of working with these experiences creatively rather than trying to make them go away or finding someone or something to blame…”(iii)
As Chiron currently moves through the middle degrees of Aries, I thought it might be apt to share my own reflections back in 2018 on the nature of Chiron, as he prepared to leave Pisces and begin his long traverse of Aries. The essay was published on Astrodienstthen, offering some perspectives as well as addressing a number of questions raised in my own practice and teaching, including:
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?
I hope you enjoy the essay – feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences of the workings of this most complex, paradoxical astrological archetype as we eagerly wait for Dr Liz Greene’s new work on Chiron.
(i) The orbit of Chiron is pretty irregular, but it returns to its own place every 50 years: The last time Chiron was in Aries was from 1968–1977, and before that, it was 1918–1927.
(ii) ‘Chiron in Love: The Astrology of Envy, Rage, Compassion and Wisdom‘ is due to be released on September 20 2023 byThe Wessex Astrologerwhere copies can be pre-ordered. Happily, other Liz Greene titles are now also available from Wessex Astrologer including ‘The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest’ by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke. Must-have books!
(iii) Quoted from UK’s The Astrological Journal, July/Aug 2023, p15, from an extract taken from ‘Chiron in Love: The Astrology of Envy, Rage, Compassion and Wisdom‘.
‘… I had not come across this before, but you really touch on everything I have wondered and thirsted to understand about the purpose of the 12th house, and navigating it. I‘m certainly inspired to embrace these ideas and uncover more!
…Thank you again for sharing such eloquent wisdom. ..’
One of the great pleasures of being a writer is the affirming feedback from readers and appreciators of one’s work which appears from time to time. I’ve had various requests recently to republish some of my writings on the Twelfth House: that most hidden, elusive, mysterious ‘place in space’, which tends to get a pretty bad rap! The lovely feedback shared above (with the sender’s permission) has inspired me to do that now.
The Twelfth House is hard to understand, difficult to grasp – and can take those of us with planets in that house ( five, in my case! )(i) a long time to work out how to “live in the world, but not of it” with which, essentially, we 12th House people are tasked.
The essay you are about to read has been published in several places in recent years: you will find it along with other varied writings in my recent acclaimed collection of sixty published essays, articles, and columns “Postcards to the Future” in the section titled ‘Where I live (behind the sofa…”) where some of my writings on the Twelfth House appear. From this, and the title of the essay ie ‘Contemplating the Twelfth House: an optimist’s take on self-undoing’ you may gather that I have come to relatively peaceful terms with the pains – and the considerable gifts, which can flow from being a lifelong occupant of territory where
… all forms disperse, and flash back into life again where boundaries are impossible to draw where our experiences dissolve into our collective, tribal, familial, and personal past where the seeds of the future lie where ‘reality’ and ‘imagination’ overlap where paranormal experience takes place where religion and myth’s ‘sacred time’ resides which myth describes which the collective unconscious evokes which can be perceived as God, Goddess, the Void, Brahman, the Zero Point Field
I often get asked about the effect of the transits of the ‘Big Heavies’ ie Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, over the IC or root/origin 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… Encouraging news for those of you currently going through one of those: I am still very much here!
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 latest book “Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021”.
Please feel free to share YOUR stories of those powerful transits. It’s how we all learn…
Here is the essay:
Liz Greene once wryly observed in one of her seminars that, if you wanted a relatively quiet and peaceful life, you should arrange to be born when the outer planets were as far away from the personal planets and Angles as possible. I wish! say many of you reading this, as indeed does the writer, who has all the outer planets bolted onto all the personal planets and has had anything BUT a quiet life. (Encouraging note for the similarly challenged – I’m not young any more, but I’m still here –more or less! – and pretty happy with what I have been able to make of my time on this earth to date).
In similar vein, many people – depending on the horoscope yielded by their particular date, time, and place of birth – will never even experience one of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto crossing their IC ( for non-astrologers reading this, the IC symbolises the point of origin, roots and core of a person’s life).
However, I have had the lot – and am still here to tell the tale. Here it is….
In my horoscope the IC is conjunct the South Node at 28 degrees of Scorpio. Pluto, its ruler, is placed in the twelfth house conjunct Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Moon and Sun in Leo. As a child I would lie in bed watching the roses on the wallpaper turn into malevolent faces as daylight faded; I had to make bargains with them before they would let me sleep.
I read voraciously, and particularly recall the works of Victorian novelist H Rider Haggard whose myth-steeped descriptions of his characters’ adventures in Africa last century fascinated me. But da Silva, the Dutch explorer whose frozen body was found centuries after his death in a cave high up Mt. Kilimanjaro, transferred himself from “King Solomon’s Mines” to the wardrobe in my bedroom, on and off, for a couple of years. Getting to sleep was no mean feat with an imagination like mine!
My ‘real’ life – eating, sleeping, going to school – was incidental to my inner life which was full of what I felt were the really interesting questions : why are we alive, where do we go after death, do we live on several planes of existence at once, what is happening in other galaxies, if there are x million Catholics and even more Buddhists and Hindus, how come they are all Wrong and Damned and a few thousand members of the Free Church of Scotland are Right and Saved ?
And what would happen if you unwrapped an Egyptian mummy and I wonder if I could make a shrunken head like the Jivaro Indians and why did people paint pictures on cave walls thousands of years ago?
These were the issues which preoccupied me for years. No-one knew about them except my maternal grandfather. He had spent time taming wild horses alone in the middle of Argentina before World War 1, and in later life was the only Church of Scotland missionary to visit ill or injured foreign sailors of all religions in the local island hospital, despite the disapproval of the Free Church. “We are all God’s children”, he would say firmly to his critics – and to me. He died when I was eleven, after which I spoke to no-one until I grew up and left home about anything which really mattered.
As Pluto squared 12th house Venus, Moon and Sun, then crossed the IC conjunct South Node from 93-95, what was left of my family of origin fell apart in a particularly painful and tragic way. I had to make choices in order to protect myself from the destructive urges of other family members which involved separation from loved ones which is probably permanent. The major decision I made during those years was that the blood tie does not give others the right to destroy your life. I was indeed fortunate in having an astrological framework, which helped to provide a meaningful context for the pain.
As part of trying to process what was happening, I decided to compile a family history, returning to my native island to collect some oral material from old people who knew my family back a couple of generations. The day I sat down to write it up, transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the South Node, within half a degree of the IC. During the same week, I looked back through some old writings of my own, finding two unpublished pieces.
Neptune exiting Scorpio transits the IC: across the sea, into The Deep:
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)
Neptune transits the IC: 0 Sagittarius, bringer of inspiration:
The second piece, however, written in the autumn of 1971, at the end of the Neptune transit to the IC, whilst Neptune was at 0 Sagittarius, shows that something else was now emerging from the underworld which would offer me inspiration and support :
(The ‘pibroch’ referred to is the music of lament played on the Scottish bagpipes)
“ It was a clear autumn evening. Peter called just after seven; he was going out to practice some pibroch. Would I like to come along? It was a rare time of balance – in the weather, in the satisfaction of work which was still new enough to be stimulating, in the fact that Peter and I were falling in love.
Peter drove several miles out of town, winding slowly up deserted country roads to a hill above a small village. Taking out the pipes he began to blow them up, and after much tinkering began to play. To avoid distracting him, I strolled slowly down the road. Peter was standing on a bank of grass at the top of the hill; on his left was a little wood. On the other side of the road was a ditch thick with whin bushes.
Beyond the ditch was a rusty, sagging fence; on the far side of the fence, smooth, mossy moorland dotted with whins, their vivid yellow colour fading into the deepening dusk. In the distance I could just see the Highland hills, purple and rust, gathering shadows in the autumnal twilight.
A myriad of stars, taking their lead from Venus, was growing bright with increasing intensity. A mellow harvest moon was slowly rising, casting a glow on the hills. The air held a hint of cold. I could feel the melancholy music of the bagpipes flowing through me like a magical current.
Reaching the foot of the hill, surrendering myself completely to the intensity of the moment, I lay down in the middle of the road. Spreading out my arms, I gazed up at the stars.
A gentle breeze blew over my body, soughing through the reedy grass. Drifting with the music through the night sky, slipping away from awareness of myself or the present, I was a timeless spirit of the air, travelling the vastness of space on the notes of the pibroch. An unobtrusive rhythm, a pulse, began to beat; growing more and more steady, it became a whispering message in my mind :
‘ There is nothing to fear,’ it said. ‘ There is nothing to fear.’
An image of my lying dead, under the earth, came to me. Such images, occurring at other times, had filled me with panic and disgust. Now, there was none of that. I could gladly have died at that moment; my flesh would return to the earth and nourish it, my spirit would soar to infinity. The pulse continued, flooding me with its light :
‘ There is nothing to fear, nothing to fear, nothing to fear….’
At that point of spiritual ecstasy, I felt the absolute reality of my soul.
Such a moment might have lasted a second, an hour, or a hundred thousand years; but the music ceased, and the chill which was gradually taking over my body drew me back gently into the present…….” (ii)
The knowledge that such a vitalizing sense of connectedness was possible, glimpsed during the above experience, kept me going through the long struggle to believe that life had an overall meaning, and to find my own way of offering my energy creatively in the years which were to follow.
Uranus crosses the IC: Enter Astrology!
When Uranus crossed the South Node/IC in 1980/81, moving from Scorpio to Sagittarius, 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, in 1995 I applied and was accepted for a major astrological study course with Dr Liz Greene and the late great mundane astrologer Charles Harvey, gaining my Diploma in Psychological Astrology in 1998. The very day that Pluto was exactly on the South Node and about to cross the IC for the last time saw me beginning the first year of study. I felt a powerful sense of standing on firm inner ground after the turbulence and trauma of the last few years – of being in the right place at the right time, of having done what I could, for now, with my family inheritance – of being ready to move on to the next growth cycle.
Now that the outer planets have crossed the IC and moved into the Western hemisphere of my Horoscope, I feel liberated from much of the pathology of the past, and more able to use directly in the world the undoubted creativity inherited with it. Nor do I need any longer to make bargains with the shadowy figures who emerge when the light of day is dimming….
i & ii : Both extracts have been published both together and separately in several articles in the USA, the UK and Australia, eg in “Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” which appeared in the UK’s Astrological Journal, 1996, and was then reprinted in Considerations magazine (USA) in the same year.
“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from ‘L’Allegro’ by the English poet John Milton
There are perennial questions repeatedly asked by astrology students, clients, and members of the public concerning topics which puzzle or challenge them – and astrologers. I have three favourites: twins is the first. What are the other two? Keep checking this blog and you’ll find out!
By email: Helene’s question:
How does it work when you do a birth chart for twins? Or two babies born the same minute at the same hospital? Can two people have the same horoscope!?
During many years of teaching astrology classes, I found that the above questions came up very frequently.
It is important at this point to emphasise to readers who are familiar only with Sun Signs that to get ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place AND time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun or Star Sign alone.
A number of years ago, I decided to address the typical questions students asked about twins (summed up by Helene’s questions here) via one of the tutorial classes I ran for my more advanced students, all of whom had a good grasp of the basics of astrology, and some of whom were already practitioners in their own right.
One student – let’s call her Anna – was the devoted aunt to a set of twins in their mid teens, a boy and a girl – let’s call them Angus and Miriam. These two had been born less than fifteen minutes apart and had almost identical horoscopes.
I had formulated a theory about twins and astrology which I wanted to test out, so I obtained permission via Anna from Angus and Miriam’ s parents as well as the twins themselves, to calculate their horoscopes and discuss them anonymously in class.
My method was to put up on the board only one horoscope since there was so little difference between the twins’ horoscopes, and ask the students to take an hour to prepare along with me a basic outline of the key characteristics revealed by this one horoscope. We did the preparation as though we were preparing a birth chart for just one person.
The class knew nothing about either of the twins, and I asked Anna to observe us, but not to make any comments at all.
Once we had written up the outline, we spent the next hour discussing our findings with Anna, who knew her nephew and niece well.
I am writing this after a gap of some years and no longer have the notes for detailed reference, so can only give a summary of the essence of what emerged from our discussion.
Anna found our summary from the one horoscope of the basic characteristics of both her nephew and niece to be very accurate. What was very clear was that certain traits were held in common, but that the rest were, as it were, divided up between the twins. To put it very simply, looking at a range of traits: 1,2,3 and 4 were recognisable in both; Miriam manifested traits 5,6 and 10 whilst Angus lived out traits 7, 8 and 9.
This very interesting and enlightening experiment does not of course constitute any kind of proof: but it bore out my impressions from reading about the similarities and differences in the lives of twins about whom I had read, as well as my own observations of twins I had come across from my own experience, as well as the few horoscope readings I had done for individuals who were twins.
What was this impression?
Coming back to the analogy of the horoscope revealing the characters poised on life’s stage, waiting for the moment of birth to kick start the action of the play, it seemed that twins unconsciously chose which characters on their joint stage they were going to live out jointly – and the ones which they were going to live out separately.
The experiment which I did all those years ago with my students, Anna and her nephew and niece certainly bore out my theory….
As far as two people born at the same time in the same place is concerned, yes, they would in effect have the same horoscopes. You would certainly see considerable similarities if you studied both their lives over time. But each character on the stage at a given moment in time has a range of possible modes of expression. Thus the influence of different family circumstances and different opportunities, etc, would call forth a range of possible responses from the same basic character.
To read much more on this topic, do go over to the late master astrologer Donna Cunningham’s blog Sky Writer, where she has an excellent piece on the astrology of twins. I’ve also written a piece on Astrology, Twins and Epigenetics, if you’re interested in exploring a brief scientific ‘take’ on the topic…
Then come back and let me know what YOU think!
This post “From the Archives” was first published along with some other Twins posts on my Astrology: Questions and Answers archive blog which is packed with a range of astrology articles over a wide spectrum of topics aimed at both experienced astrologers, advanced students – and newcomers. Do pop over and have a browse! There are also some ebooks to buy: just click on the covers.
Delighted to say the Kindle ebook version of ‘Postcards’ is now out and selling well already…here’s the link for all reviews and worldwide purchase details…
Here is a short extract of me reading one of the 60 articles, essays and columns:
Six Reasons Why I love Astrology
I’d also like to take this opportunity to say thank you again to all family, friends, students, former clients, mentorees, astro-colleagues and lovely folk I don’t even know, who have so generously supported “Postcards” in various ways since publication of the first paperback version.
I’ve had several requests now for signed copies, so here’s a special thank-you offer (sorry, it’s for UK folk only, it’s too costly to post overseas): if you email me your postal address and send £15.00 to my PayPal a/c at firstname.lastname@example.org (normal price £18.00 plus postage) I’ll send you a signed copy by return.