Some thoughts on… the place of astrology in our contemporary world

We live in a vast energy field of constant motion, most of which is invisible to us. The rippling patterns of order and chaos, which is the fundamental dance of creation, govern everything. I have come to see the art of astrology (helped by what I have grasped of what the quantum world has revealed to us) as one that enables us to map those patterns via the constant shifting energies of the planets in their orbits.

Astrologers take a step that, in our reductionist, materialist culture, pulls down all sorts of opprobrium and scorn upon our heads: We attribute meaning to those patterns.

Beginning in ancient times until the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century (which caused a split between form, described by astronomy, and content, described by astrology), the maxim “as above, so below” governed people’s worldview. Prior to the Scientific Revolution, we lived in a cosmos charged with meaning, an “ensouled” cosmos, where form and content reflected and informed each other.

Astrology and prejudice

Some of us still live in that cosmos. Others do not. Where you have such a powerful clash of worldviews, polarisation and prejudice can arise. I think that Victor Olliver, editor of the UK’s respected Astrological Journal, was right regarding his eloquent and well argued response to my doubts and questions about popular astrology in the spring of 2015. At that time, he pointed out that the real enemy of astrology is prejudice.

There is the prejudice from outside the astrological community (especially from much of the scientific community) from those who believe that our lives are the product of cosmic chance, and thereby devoid of meaning. And then there is the prejudice from those within the community — those who consider themselves to be “serious” practitioners — toward the populist, mass-market astrology that millions avidly consume across a vast range of media on a daily basis, looking for some glimmer of meaning in life.

What do we do about this? In reflecting on how I might “wrap up” Victor’s and my three-part debate, which generated a great deal of interest across the Web, the word “occult” came strongly to mind.

I pondered it for a few days. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the original meaning of the word is from the Latin “occulere,” i.e. “to hide, conceal.” It also (in a more physical sense) means “to cut off from view by interposing some other body,” as in, for example, the occultation of one planet or heavenly body by another.

Is astrology an “occult” practice?

The word “occult” in recent times has taken on a more sinister connotation, referring often to magical or supernatural practices of a dubious nature. As I reflected on it, I became more interested in the original meaning of the word, which has led me to a conclusion about the status of astrology, especially in our modern world: The true depth of what astrology can reveal about human affairs, both in the collective and the personal sense, will always be inaccessible to the large majority of people.

Astrology is an occult subject. As such, its influence and its great value are likely to remain masked, hidden from view, operating powerfully but behind the scenes of everyday life.

For example, in ancient times its practice was held in high esteem by Babylonian and Egyptian rulers, whose astrologer-priests scanned the stars and advised the kings (and sometimes, even, the queens!)  on the fate of their nations. There were no personal horoscopes. The general public was in no way consulted or informed regarding decisions made that affected all their lives. Astrological knowledge, deemed sacred, was deliberately kept hidden from ordinary view.

Paradoxically, in our time, mass-market popular astrology could be seen as fulfilling the function of concealing the real power of astrology quite effectively. Most of the public remain unaware of the depth that exists behind the mask of the Sun Sign columns, although I do agree with Victor that there is a very big difference between the nuggets of truth that a quality Sun Sign column can reveal and the kind of trashy stuff that some popular newspapers, magazines, and internet sites churn out.

A warning ignored

Sun Sign columns are also rather effective in raising the ire and spleen of reductionists who thereby are permanently deflected from benefiting from astrology’s true depth, which at times could have been life-saving as evinced in the powerful example of astrologer Dennis Elwell’s prescient warning in the 1980s.

In 1987, Dennis Elwell, the late well-known U.K. astrologer, wrote to the main shipping companies to warn them that a pattern very similar to that under which the Titanic had sunk was coming in the heavens very soon. He strongly suggested that they review the seaworthiness and safety procedures of all their passenger ships. His warning was duly dismissed. Not long afterwards, the U.K.’s Herald of Free Enterprise ferryboat went down, resulting in the loss of 188 lives.

Popular astrology—a stepping-stone?

It is true, as Victor pointed out in his robust reply to my challenge, that mass-market astrology is the stepping-stone that enables people who are seekers after deeper meaning to step from relative triviality to much greater depth.

However, to understand the profound link that exists between your unique chip of energy and the larger, meaningful cosmos, you will need to seek out a good astrologer to offer you a sensitive and revealing portrait of your moment of birth via your horoscope.

Those of us who are in-depth practitioners know that a quality astrology reading with the right astrologer at the right time can be truly life changing.

Only a small percentage of people who read Sun Sign columns take that step into deeper territory. Most do not. Either they are quite happy with the superficiality they find there, or they spin off into active enraged prejudice, and sometimes very public condemnation, of our great art…

As I said to Victor Olliver by way of conclusion to our most instructive debate, pondering on the word “occult” has led me to quite a peaceful place. I can now abandon any prejudice I may have toward my colleagues who are Sun Sign astrologers: they are offering a valuable service in providing a smoke screen.

This helps greatly to maintain astrology in its true place as an occult activity, perhaps leavening the ignorance and crassness of our materialist, consumer age  — but from behind the scenes.

Concluding thoughts from academe

I have recently been reading an excellent book by astrologer, teacher, and writer Dr. Bernadette Brady, Chaos, Chaosmos and Astrology. In her book, Brady quotes fellow astrologer and academic Dr. Patrick Curry’s view that the practice of astrology is  “…an instrument of enchantment, a way in which humanity encounters mystery, awe, and wonder….,” and that in order to maintain such a position it is “…necessary for astrology to be marginalised by science…” (1)

I was very happy to encounter this viewpoint put forward by fellow astrologers whose scholarship and viewpoints I respect. Their views have eloquently endorsed my own.

Readers, what do you think of this viewpoint?

I’d be most interested to hear.

Galaxy...

Galaxy…

Endnotes:
(1) Bernadette Brady, Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology, Sophia Centre Press, 2014, p 71.

****

1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Some notes on Cycles in a time of crisis

“Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after
them,
Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations…..
Ah who shall soothe these feverish children
Who justify those restless explorations?”

from “Passage to India” by Walt Whitman

Introduction

I love this quote: standing back and looking at world history in the large scale, it becomes clear that those ‘restless explorations’ are not in any way random: they are shaped by the large cycles of history as described by the planets in their orbits.

Furthermore, individuals who are ‘plugged in’ via their natal horoscopes to the degrees at which key planetary cycles end and begin – eg the 13 degrees Leo conjunction of Saturn and Pluto which occurred in the middle of August 1947, or the Jupiter Uranus conjunction of 5/6 degrees Aquarius in February 1997, are challenged to live out those ‘chips’ of planetary energy as major contributors to their lives’ stories.

Also, the cycles belonging to those planetary combinations, eg the 33-38 year cycle of Saturn/Pluto or the 14-year cycle of Jupiter/Uranus, become of great significance in the unfolding pattern of their individual lives, as well as the human collective of which they are part.

In these notes, whilst briefly mentioning the larger overarching planetary cycles, I am focusing mainly on the cycles which are of immediate concern to us now, as we sit in the eye of a circling series of collective storms, contemplating an increasing threat to the long-term survival of planet Earth, our Mother as the biggest one. My aim is to provide those of you who are just beginning to get to grips with the larger, more complex – and fascinating! – dimensions of astrology beyond the merely personal with some initial perspectives hopefully to whet your appetites.

To read the whole of this article, which I’m happy to say was published on Astrodienst yesterday, please click HERE:

Solar System

2500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

 

 

Do you have an astrological twin?

Here, I am talking not about blood twins, but astrological twins, and how via astrological symbolism we can see how we unconsciously ‘twin’ with those people who complement our own energies.

Twins

Twins

Linda’s Question:

I’ve always found twins fascinating. What’s even more fascinating is the kind of relationship that develops between people who aren’t blood relatives of any sort, yet seem to be “cut from the same cloth”. We talk about being “simpatico” – has anyone ever done any studies on such people to see if there are similarities in their charts?

My Answer:

Well, most regular practitioners of astrology do this kind of research at least informally as part of both their work and their own lives.

For example, I used to wonder why most of my close friends and associates, work colleagues and bosses were Sun Virgos, Pisceans and Aquarians. Then I had my horoscope drawn up.

I found that a key axis in the horoscope, ie the Ascendant/Descendant which describes how you meet the world, the persona you present to that world, and key relationships you draw to you – was in the signs of Virgo and Pisces. Thus quite unconsciously I was drawing to me relationships with people whose solar energies symbolically complemented my own….

Furthermore, the sign opposite to Leo in the zodiac wheel is Aquarius, and you know the old saw about opposites attracting!

Anne W's Horoscope

Anne W’s Horoscope

(click on image to enlarge)

Time and again I have known marriage/relationship partnerships where one person is Sun Leo and the other Aquarius, or vice versa.  Or Sun Taurus and Sun Scorpio. Or Sun Capricorn and Sun Cancer. And so on, all round the opposite pairs in the Zodiac circle. I am married to an Aquarian, and his Aquarian brother also has a Sun Leo wife – so we are one small illustration of this!

Also, when I got around to drawing family horoscopes, I discovered my father and mother both had Virgo as their Ascending signs. My brother and sister both have the sign of Virgo strongly emphasised in their horoscopes. My husband has a Virgo Ascendant, as does my (Sun in Pisces) stepson, and my stepson’s stepfather, who used to be married to my sister (work that one out….)

Any set of family horoscopes has similar variations on key themes, where the planetary placements and the zodiac signs in which they fall symbolically tell a vivid story of interweaving energy patterns, both clashing, compulsive and harmonious – as in life lived out.

Furthermore, in thirty fve years of teaching astrology classes to a very wide range of students ranging in occupation from bus drivers to consultant psychiatrists (who both turned up in the same class one year) I found over and over again that the planetary pattern of the horoscope which I always drew up for the date, time and place of the start of the class was reflected in striking ways in the horoscopes of the students who turned up.

images

One year stands out in my memory. I began the class when there was a line-up of several planets in the dark, intense and powerful sign of Scorpio. The class composition that year was like no other before or since: all ten of the students had a preponderance of planets in Scorpio and/or strong emphases on the planet Pluto, ruler of the sign Scorpio.

I enjoyed teaching the class , an intense and powerful bunch of people who absorbed every word I said ( I think….!) but said very little. It was exhausting though. Like teaching a black hole!

On a totally contrasting note, there was another year where the dominant energies of the horoscope for that class were much, much lighter and “buzzier”.

The sun and other planets (as I recall) were concentrated in the signs of Virgo and Libra, with the planet Mercury dominant. This symbolism was expressed in a hardworking, charming and co-operative, and highly communicative  group of students who were very easy to work with.

Two students from that group, Doreen and Sheilagh ( just in case they happen to read this – I know they will not mind being mentioned! ) had such similar horoscopes that I asked them to sit beside each other, commenting that they would find a great deal in common. Over a quarter of a century later, they are still very good friends…..astrological twins in spirit…..

I hope this gives you a flavour of what it is like observing, through the lens of astrological symbolism,  the shifting dance of interconnected energy comprising our small earthly world. AND –

 Do, please, share your stories!

Twins

Twins

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

 

Image
Spiral of Rebirth

The Circle of Life

Well, I’m back to posting on this site which is now a home for in-depth astrology…come and join me! You can also read some of the comments which have been left on my astrology  Facebook Page , some of which I’ll also share on posts here.

The site at present is a work in progress – earlier content will disappear, new material emerging..now you see it, then you don’t…somewhat “Alice in Wonderland-ish” …but keep dropping by – there will always be something new to entertain, inform and inspire you astro-wise on the Home Page.

ALSO

My astrology Facebook Page is where I 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!

Most frequently asked questions: how does astrology explain twins?

A very frequent 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!?
Gemini the Twins

Gemini the Twins

My Answer:

During nearly twenty 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 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 about twenty 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….

After writing this piece I googled ‘astrology and twins’ to see what came up, and was pleased to find on my favourite astrology site, Astrodienst, that other astrologers including Dr Liz Greene had come to much the same conclusion.

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 excellent blog Sky Writer, where she has an excellent piece on the astrology of  twins.

Then come back and let me know what YOU think!

 

Gemini the Twins

Gemini the Twins

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

After eight years, big changes at Writing from the Twelfth House…

I spent the whole of 2007 wrestling with a dinosaur-like resistance to embracing the new technological world unfolding and wrapping itself around us all whether we liked it or not. Eventually, I decided to go with creative openness and joined it, setting up “Writing from the Twelfth House” in May 2008. I still can’t quite believe how things have opened out from that early start.

Anne and Friend compose the latest blog post....

Anne and Friend compose the latest blog post….

image by Paul F Newman

I’ve written masses, made a number of good new internet friends and contacts, had heartwarming exchanges with more folk than I can count – to which the comments on my blog posts are testimony – published four e-books, and much, much more…it’s been, and continues to be, a blast.

However, I am now specialising: focusing on my blog Astrology: Questions and Answers, its Facebook Page, a bi-monthly column for the UK’s  Astrological Journal, a USA  bi-monthly column beginning in Dell Horoscope magazine in January 2017, regular reviewing, and articles for quality astrology magazines like the Mountain Astrologer and in 2015, publication on the Astrodienst site.

And – despite my love of variety and challenge, I can’t do everything!

So – do drop in to the extensive trove of articles which you will find on this blog, now an archive where you can still purchase my books, enjoy the Posts I Like and RSS feeds, email me, and make contact  HERE should you wish to book an astrology consultation, or tuition. New material on the same core themes of “Writing from the Twelfth House” will from now on be appearing on its companion Facebook Page.

NOTE: I have quite a number of Followers of this blog who are primarily interested in my astrological writing. If you folks would care to drop by Astrology: Questions and Answers, and sign up for emails/posts from that blog, you will be able to continue reading my astrology posts.

And finally – a heartfelt THANKS to all you good people who have inspired me and livened up my days by reading, commenting and emailing me over those last eight years. Without your support, I would probably have packed the whole thing in ages ago!

Spiral of Rebirth

The Circle of Life

400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

 

“I am the Soul of Nature”…

“…I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters,

I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.

From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return…”

(from ‘The Charge of the Goddess’ Traditional, by Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk)

There are very few clear evening skies in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. If you’re rushing up Byres Road on the way home on one of those rare nights, especially when you cross the Queen Margaret Drive bridge, look out for a small woman standing still, gazing at the sky. That’ll be me, admiring the wonderful, fragile beauty of the waxing New Moon.

 Even in the city, in the increasingly hurried pattern of 21st century life, it is possible to maintain a connection to the cycles of the seasons and the rhythms of nature. It’s increasingly recognised that regular contact of this kind is an important component in establishing and maintaining the kind of inner balance and peace that promotes happiness.

One of the many advantages of living in a small country like Scotland is that access to the great outdoors is not difficult – half an hour out of Glasgow, for example, it is possible to disappear into lovely countryside and forget the existence of the city very quickly. Try it !

It doesn’t matter how stressed you are, how much angst you are carrying. A couple of hours of  tramping across the hills, often in rain and wind, focusing on nothing more complex than  where you put every footstep in order to avoid disappearing up to your waist in a bog, is guaranteed to purge out at least some of it.

Over many years of  walking, I have offered the hills both my joys and my sorrows, and  have found validation for the former and solace for the latter. In homeopathic medicine, broadly speaking, you treat an ailment with a very dilute form of the toxin which caused it.

I have found the homeopathic principle works very well with bleakness of the soul or spirit. That condition can be effectively treated by choosing weather and landscape to match your mood, and immersing yourself in it for a few hours. Meeting bleakness with bleakness has a powerfully cleansing effect.

Complementary to this is the powerfully life-affirming effect that natural beauty can have.

"I am the Soul of Nature...."

“I am the Soul of Nature….”

Standing on top of a favourite hill on a sunlit day, looking at stunning panoramic views, listening to the joyous song of a skylark, feeling at one with the wind and the landscape, has on numerous occasions made me feel so glad to be alive that I have wept for joy.

These experiences may fade in the face of the rigours of an average life. But if you repeat them often enough, you develop a sense of being part of the great round of nature, where joy and sorrow, youth, maturity, decline, death and rebirth all have their part. You also learn, slowly, the importance to being a happy person of being able to  “grasp the joy as it flies”, celebrate the moment, “seize the day.”

_______________

ENDNOTES

(This is an edited version of an article first published in “Self & Society”(The Journal of Humanistic Psychology) (UK)Vol 27 No 5, November 1999, then http://www.innerself.com : Innerself Magazine (USA), and most recently – March 09 –  in ‘ The Drumlin’, the Newsletter of Glasgow Botanic Gardens as “Happiness and the Healing Power of Nature” . )

550 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page