Tag Archives: 4. The Big Picture

Jupiter/Uranus in Pisces do religion: Countdown to 19 September

You don’t have to be a very sage astrologer to work out that one of the likely backdrops to this upcoming 19th September 2010 Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at 29 degrees Pisces (the second of three during 2010/11) is going to be that perennial sustainer, challenger, inspirer, executor and persecutor of the human race – religion.

And sure enough, it is shaping up in bold primary colours already.

A major row has been rumbling in the USA since the end of August 2010 over the proposed location of  a Muslim religious centre close to the site of Ground Zero.Check out:

Last week the UK’s most prominent and respected scientist Stephen Hawking grandly announced that God was not necessary in coming up with an explanation for the origins of the Universe. This could be found in the laws of physics. The book “Grand Design”, set for release on September 9, has him saying: “because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing….”

New Hubble Image: Carina Nebula

New Hubble Image: Carina Nebula

In recent days, it has become world-wide news that the pastor of a small church in Florida, Terry Jones, is planning a less than conciliatory act of remembrance of the 9/11 atrocity by burning 200 copies of the Koran on the 11 September. This plan has been roundly condemned from USA Secretary of  State Hilary Clinton downwards. See http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/09/08/florida.quran.reaction/#fbid=lNzACjrNQ7c&wom=false

(NOTE: it just caught my eye in Google’s news headlines as I was signing off after publishing this post and doing some emails, that the pastor in question has called off his protest. How interesting that this should occur on the very day that Jupiter slips from combative, fiery Aries into the soothing waters of Pisces….)

And here in the UK, that anti-messiah and self-appointed High Priest of Atheism, the scientist and polemical writer Richard Dawkins, had planned to arrest the Pope when he visits the UK during 16-19 September, just at the exact point of the second Jupiter/Uranus conjunction.

“Campaigners supported by Prof Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist, had hoped to have Benedict XVI held over his supposed cover-up of child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

But leaders of the Protest the Pope coalition now admit that the Pontiff cannot be arrested as Britain acknowledges him as a head of state, granting him sovereign immunity from criminal prosecution.” Read more

The fingerprints of the Jupiter/Uranus combination in Pisces are all over these events. First of all, Jupiter and Uranus are planets associated with the ‘masculine’ dimension of life regardless of a person’s sex: outgoing and action-oriented.

Then, if we think of the mythology of Jupiter and Uranus, we have the arrogant and combative Olympian god Jupiter, who was always right, enjoyed laying down the law, (fundamentalism anyone?) and who threw thunderbolts from Mount Olympus at unfortunate humanity cowering down below. His ally Prometheus (I follow the Richard Tarnas view that Uranus in action most resembles the Greek god Prometheus) was an innovator who taught humankind the great arts of astrology, science and music.

He also decided that the gods’ fire was just what the human race needed to make them all-wise and powerful (without actually consulting any of them to see if they wanted this equivocal gift!) and proceeded to steal that precious substance, hidden in a fennel-stalk. Unfortunately he got caught and spent eternity chained to a rock having his liver pecked out by an eagle.

As I point out in my book “Jupiter Meets Uranus” ( AFA 2009) the Jupiter/Uranus combination can represent the very best in human aspiration, exploration, inventiveness and the sheer exuberance of being alive. However, arrogant conviction of their own rightness when working together can make this combination inflammatory, hubristic and downright destructive. We should therefore see both the positive and negative sides of this unique conjunction during the Jupiter/Uranus year of 2010/11.

The Jupiter/Uranus combination works out of the ‘left field’ more than any other combination of planetary energies. Its cycle is 14 years long.

In 1969 Man stepped on the Moon for the first time under an exact Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Libra. In 1983 with the conjunction in Sagittarius, the world’s first artificially made chromosome was created at Harvard University. In February 1997 with the conjunction in Aquarius, Dolly the Sheep, the first cloned animal, was announced to the world.

2010/11 is gradually revealing unique developments too for good and ill: the Large Hadron Collider’s vast experiment and what it may reveal. Craig Venter’s company’s creating of  the first artificial living cell – using highly sophisticated computer technology. The worst man-made oil spill in history. Scientists making hubristic statements about spiritual matters which go inappropriately beyond their reductionist terms of reference. Religious (and anti-religious) fanatics behaving in ways that no-one could have guessed or believed…..

Bring it on, Jupiter/Uranus!

We are waiting with bated breath for more left-field events: with a mixture of  fascination, awe, humour (sometimes if you don’t laugh you just end up crying….) dismay and disbelief. Well, given that Pisces is involved, the word ‘belief” has to feature somewhere….

 

"Jupiter meets Uranus" by Anne Whitaker (2009)

"Jupiter meets Uranus" by Anne Whitaker (2009)

To find up-to-the minute information on ‘Jupiter Meets Uranus’ : New Reviews, Pre-Publication Reviews, Promotional Interviews, etc

AND

many articles on the upcoming Jupiter/Uranus conjunctions of 2010/11

AND

a unique, unfolding research study of the lives of 12 subjects whose ages range from late 20s to early 80s “Tales from the Wild Ride”,

go to

http://jupitermeetsuranus.wordpress.com/

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850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Astrology – beyond the sun signs

I am just about to depart to the South of France (Mercury Retrograde, ash clouds and general planetary mayhem permitting!) for a week of family celebrations and simply have not had time to think up something new to offer my expanding band of readers here at Writing from the Twelfth House.

Always being keen to demonstrate that the great and ancient art and science of astrology has much more to offer than its popular face in the sun sign columns would suggest, I thought I’d re-publish the following article which appears on this site on the “Not the Astrology Column” page, but which a number of new readers may not have come across. It is written for the general public with no formal knowledge, but an open-minded interest in astrology.

Check it out, and let me know what you think! See you all again early September.

11th Century Horoscope

11th Century Horoscope

My career as an astrologer began in a launderette in Bath, England, in the 1970s – although I didn’t realise that at the time ! Befriending a little girl who came to chat whilst I did my washing, I met her parents, Gloria and Seamus; they were astrologers, they said, and would I care to come back to their place for a cup of tea? They’d like to draw up my horoscope, to thank me for entertaining their child. Well, I remember thinking, nothing better to do for the next hour…….at that  stage I was  scornful and dismissive of astrology, basing my judgement on the Sun Sign material in the media which struck me as general, banal and trivial. I did not know then that  there was a subject of great depth and power beyond  the Sun Signs.

I was puzzled  by my new  friends’ dismissal of  the Sun Sign columns – wasn’t that what astrology was all about ?. “We’re proper  astrologers” they said firmly. “ Your Star Sign (Leo, in my case) only puts one  character on the stage of your life. It’s impossible to describe who you are from only one factor.” They wrote down my date, place, and apparently vital TIME  of birth, produced various reference books and did complex-looking calculations. Then they drew up my Birth Chart or Horoscope : this was a map of the heavens for the precise time I was born. It was apparently an unusual chart  – lots of planets in the twelfth house, whatever that meant, and strong Pluto, Saturn  and Uranus influences. So what, I thought.

Anne W's Horoscope

Then came their interpretation into character analysis of the planetary symbols in my Birth Chart, in considerable depth and with a high level of accuracy. The experience shocked me to the core. How could they be so accurate about my career aspirations? How could they know what my deepest fears were ?How COULD they manage to describe my parents’ core characteristics and some of the key effects they’d had on me ? How could they describe so vividly the restless spirit  which drove me ? I had met them less than an hour ago. They knew nothing of my personal history or life experience.

Worse was to come. “You tell me you’re a total sceptic,” Seamus chuckled . “But your Horoscope shows that you have a deeply sensitive, spiritual side to your nature which you’re currently refusing to acknowledge, preferring to identify with the intellectual and the rationalist in yourself. But I can see from your Chart, and where the planets will be in a few years, that in your early thirties the spiritual dimension will come calling. You are very likely to end up doing something like this yourself.”

What nonsense, I thought. But I had no acceptable way of explaining in rational terms what had happened. Uneasily, I filed the experience away in the pigeonhole reserved for the many incidents occurring in my twenties which did not fit my existentialist  world view.

For my birthday that August, a friend gave me an odd present considering my scepticism – an astrology book. It was intelligently and sensitively written; I found myself compelled. My feelings were an uncomfortable mixture of attraction, rejection, fascination and embarrassment. What COULD I say to my friends and family?

Saying nothing, I carried on reading. After a year, astrology still fascinated me. By this time – and by a series of odd coincidences – I had found out about the Faculty of Astrological Studies, based in London. It offered a year-long correspondence course with some lengthy exams at the end of it, leading to a Certificate of the Faculty.

I embarked on my studies in an empirical spirit. If astrology WAS indeed merely superstitious nonsense of little value, at least I would have arrived at a conclusion based on knowledge and practice, rather than ignorance and prejudice. I had moved on sufficiently from intellectual arrogance to the awareness that it was very unscientific, and highly irrational, to dismiss a whole body of knowledge without ever having studied it. I obtained my Certificate in 1983, by which time my studies had demonstrated to me that the astrological model had worthwhile insights to offer.

(I was to further my studies much later on, at the Centre for Psychological Astrology,  by commuting by plane from Glasgow to London from 1995-1998 to complete a three-year Diploma in Psychological Astrology with renowned teacher, writer and astrologer Dr Liz Greene.)

The teaching and practice of astrology became a major strand in my self-employed career from 1985 until 2001 when, following a long health crisis, I gave up all work (except writing!) for several years.

 

This wonderful universe

This wonderful universe

Working with the symbolic descriptions of collective and personal life provided by astrology was, and continues to be, a source of much insight.  It offers a route towards integration of the rational dimensions with the intuitive, symbolic and spiritual. Time and time again my clients used to tell me that their Readings helped them to see and to accept who they were more clearly –  and to make better use of the gifts they had been given.

Good astrological practice encourages people to take responsibility for their own lives, and supports their courage to be themselves.

We have not yet found anything which provides the ultimate answer to the puzzle of our  existence on this earth. Astrology is no exception – although it is a fine way of asking intelligent questions  about  what life may mean. It is NOT  a religion. The insights it offers do not interfere with whatever religious beliefs individuals may hold. But  its perspective offers two very important things.

Firstly, a picture of an holistic universe in which our movement through space and time is not  random,  but meaningful. Astrology’s great insight is that the shaping forces or archetypes which govern all of life including human experience, are symbolically connected with the planets and their movements in the heavens as time unfolds. This is enormously comforting to those of us who cannot bear the idea that the turmoils and struggles of this life are capricious and pointless.

Secondly, from the horoscope drawn up for the date, place and exact time  of birth, astrology can give individuals very useful insights into the characters who are enacting the drama of their individual life story. But it cannot tell who the director is, what the exact details of the plot are, or what the outcome of the play will be. Astrology, like quantum physics, can only deal with ranges of probability. The rest  is as it will probably remain – a mystery known only to the Deity.

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Note : this is an updated and slightly altered version of an article first published in Scotland’s Glasgow “Herald” as “Future beyond the Sun Signs” on 20.8.96. Copyright remains with the author.

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1300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010 Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Desperately Seeking Annie: Swimming in a secret sea (iii)

Where does the longing come from?

Early memories may carry clues – tucked up in bed, cosy and warm, safe and sound, listening to the winter North wind tearing the world apart. Night after night after night. Other nights, clear cold, wintry, still. Standing on the concrete of the garden path, gazing at the clear night sky above the roofs of the houses at the top of Ellison Road hill, awestruck with delight at the blaze of radiance dancing in the heavens. The Northern Lights, heavenly dancers.

(I have never seen them since childhood. It is my keen wish to see them again before I die.)

I used to ask myself : what vast Power generates the destructive energies of the wind, the visual delight of the Northern Lights? What are they for? Who performed the long, hard labour of setting upright on a Hebridean moor that great Neolithic astronomical calendar, the Callanish Stones? Why did they do it? What rites were performed there? What gods were honoured ?

Where does the longing come from?

For as long as I can recall, I have longed to know  why we are here, why the world with its staggering diversity of  teeming, turbulent life is here. I have tried to find out what our presence here may mean, whether it is random or not.

During my lifetime, the vast scale of  the Universe has been visually confirmed by the explorations of science far beyond the boundaries imagined by Darwin or Einstein. I have the Hubble images on my wall, and gaze at them every day. Their beauty, and the vastness they invoke, goes beyond the power of words to express.

We now know that our Universe is one of  many, that there may be a vast Multiverse: matrix from which arise countless Universes. We are so minute, here on planet Earth, the Solar System, The Milky Way Galaxy, home to millions of other stars. Why am I standing here, wondering why we are here and what it all means?

New Hubble Image: Carina Nebula

New Hubble Image: Carina Nebula

(http://blogs.sacbee.com/photos/2009/09/hubble-telescopes-latest-image.html)

It’s a long way from the Metaverse to the eccentric Rev. Dr. de Sousa in his green plus fours and his rusty bicycle, teetering precariously from his gloomy rectory to his sombre church during the late nineteen fifties.The small island town in which I grew up, a place of some five thousand souls, was remarkably well served for churches in those days. There was no shortage of  Christian establishments in which I could place myself in an attempt to find some answers to my big WHY.

The Episcopal church was regarded with suspicion because of its uncomfortable perceived closeness to Rome.

There was the United Free Church, where Popery would have shrivelled to a cinder had it ever crossed the threshold. Serious Christianity was practised here. No flowers, no music (apart from precenting), definitely no graven images. An old testament God hung out here. Fun and laughter were not encouraged.

Then there were the Seceeders, whose precise denominational and doctrinal position remained a mystery to me throughout my youth. I knew they had split off from some other lot, and therefore regarded themselves as “a cut above” – but above what, I never quite established.

Then there was the plain old Church of Scotland. The minister, a mild, thin, bookish looking soul who had been at school with my father, bore the distinctly uninspiring nickname of “Optic” which had stuck with him since his very short-sighted schooldays. His spectacles, I was convinced, really were made out of the bottoms of milk bottles.

I used to attend his sermons with hair rollers under my Sunday hat as a mute and invisible but satisfying form of protest. He had had a charisma bypass, and took boredom to punishing levels. However, I always liked the Benediction at the end …...In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost…” it always seemed to come from somewhere other  than him, although he was saying the words. This sense never failed to confuse me…..

We went there on our intermittent forays to Church, depending on whether inertia or guilt dominated my mother’s frame of mind on a Sunday evening. Trips to Church were usually minus my father, apart from hatches, matches and despatches.

A spiritualist medium, describing my father’s wayward character to me with remarkable and eerie accuracy not long after his death, said he was a man “who knew his God.” Wherever Dad’s God hung out, it was not in any of the establishments on offer in our mid-20th century small Scottish town.

Personally, long before my encounter with the medium, I always thought my father’s God was out there in the distant hills where he went to poach deer, or in the eye of a storm at sea.  Not that we ever talked about such matters. The only time we ever discussed my spiritual life was when, aged twelve, I realised that I could not face replacing the utter tedium of seven years of Sunday School with the probable continuing tedium of Bible Class, which is where you went on entering secondary education.

An epiphany prompted my nervous and tentative approach to my father. We had recently aquired a Readers’ Digest World Atlas, a huge book which I could barely lift. I was riveted by a double page spread of the whole world, with countries coloured in according to religion. I realised that day how many world religions there were.

Although Christianity appeared to hold its own across the world, it was visually clear  that the great majority of the world’s population – which was a mere two and a half billion in total when I was doing my big religious sums – believed in something else altogether.

I then looked for the tiny isles of the Outer Hebrides, coloured Christian pink. Next, the top island where I lived, barely discernible in the context of the whole world. A wave of inescapable logic washed me away that day. It simply did not make sense that a few thousand members of eg the Free Church of Scotland considered themselves to be right and saved, leaving almost the total remaining population of the world wrong and damned regardless of the integrity and sincerity of their differing beliefs.

My mind buzzing with this powerful realisation, I told my father that I didn’t want to go to Bible Class. I now wanted to do some of my own reading and work out religion for myself.  “Fine” he said. “Don’t go, then.”

At the age of twelve, that was it for me and Christianity, for a very long time, although I continued under pressure to attend church intermittently and always enjoyed singing the hymns at hatches, matches and despatches.

The longing, however, continued, like a barely audible ghost of a sound, echoing my heartbeat….

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To read the first two parts of “Swimming in a secret sea” click HERE

The next episode will be

(iv)

Not Finding

Fortunately, it was a peat bank we hit. That cushioned the impact, saving the car from much damage. Uncle Patrick had stopped singing “Abide with me”: for once, he was completely silent. Perhaps he was wondering how to get the car out of the ditch. Aunt Maria, white faced, was leaning over into the back of the car where I had been jolted onto the floor behind the driver’s seat. No one had heard of seatbelts  in the 1950s. “Are you all right, dear?” she said anxiously. “I think so,” I said. “Maybe I’ve bruised my knee, that’s all.” ….

to be continued

(note: inspiration for the title of this series of posts was taken from a book which I read a very long time ago but whose haunting title I have never forgotten: “Swimmer in the Secret Sea by William Kotzwinkle)

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1300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Book Review : “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos” Brian Swimme

The Whirlpool Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy

Brian Swimme “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos” (Orbis Books April 2003) pp115

For as long as I can remember, the questions cosmologist Brian Swimme raises in the Preface to this wonderfully lucid, accessible and poetically written book have fascinated me:

“Where did it all come from? Where is the center of reality? Where is the heart or source of the universe? Where is that place where everything sprang forth into existence?”

In “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos” he sets about confronting these questions, with due modesty, and without “any naive expectation that we will now answer with certitude questions which eluded our ancestors.” He does so in a positive and optimistic spirit, stating that “the opportunity of our time is to integrate science’s understanding of the universe with more ancient intuitions concerning the meaning and destiny of the human.”

Swimme makes it clear that cosmology isn’t simply about scientific teaching about the facts and theories of the universe. It is “a wisdom tradition, drawing upon not just science but religion and art and philosophy” .

The book centres on the major cosmological discovery of our time: that the Universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago and (in Swimme’s own words from his website)” ….is so biased toward complexification that life and intelligence are now seen to be a nearly inevitable construction of evolutionary dynamics.”

His approach in explicating this shattering discovery is one of evocation rather than merely conveying the facts, although he does the latter extremely well in language which elucidates rather than obfuscates. It is hard for people like me, who lack a grounding in science, to get to grips with the kind of world in which we live from the perspectives of  modern physics and cosmology, when so much of what is now known is so counter-intuitive to how our five senses perceive both the earth and the starry heavens.

Each chapter I read, from The Sun at the Center, through Looking Down at the Milky Way, via The Large-Scale Structure of Space and Time, to A Multiplicity of Centers, helped me to understand  more clearly than I ever had before not only the nature and structure of “the vast ocean of the cosmos”, but also evoked a deep sense of the numinosity of belonging to that cosmos.

Everyone interested in humanity and the new story, which is being revealed to us by modern cosmology, should read this book.

400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Evoking the Twelfth House

A tiny frog, barely half an inch long, flopped, dead, on the tip of a teaspoon as I gently lowered it toward the plug hole of the kitchen sink. Soon, I’d turn on the tap and its fragile little body, already liquefying, would be washed down the drain.

Tiny frog on lotus bud

Tiny frog on lotus bud

Yesterday, it had been leaping around, full of life, inside the  plastic refrigerator box in which I had created a little aquarium with water, moss and stones. The tadpoles which I had brought home a few weeks previously had all survived. Satisfaction and pleasure at having achieved this, however, was tempered with the growing knowledge that these delightful new pets would soon have to be returned to their original habitat.

But this little fellow would never go home.

This small incident, which occurred well over thirty years ago, offered such a poignant illustration of the transient fragility of life that it has never left my memory.

There are times when something apparently tiny and fleeting can illustrate much larger truths.

The constant dance between order and chaos, form and formlessness, being and non-being, seems to occur in all epochs and at all levels. Humans have created a range of paradigms and metaphors, from ancient myths through the world’s great religions to modern cosmology, within which to explore this dialectic.

Cosmologist Brian Swimme in his inspirational invocation of ‘The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos’ speaks of “each instant protons and anti protons…… flashing out of, and …… absorbed back into, all-nourishing abyss……” The abyss is his term for “a power that gives birth and that absorbs existence at a thing’s annihilation.”

Astrology has its own name for this inchoate territory where everything, tiny or vast, which has ever had form dissolves back into the primal waters of the Source. It is called the Twelfth House.

In my horoscope the Sun, Moon,Venus, Saturn, Pluto, and Mercury the planet of communication and writing are all to be found in the Twelfth House. I have been preoccupied with the mystery of whence we arise and where we return since I opened my eyes to the world. Thus it doesn’t require much of a leap of imagination to work out why this website is called ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’……

400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page