Uranus, Neptune and Pluto: they’ve all crossed my 1C – and I’ve survived to tell the tale…

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.

Photo: Anne Whitaker

” 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 !

Chandra Observatory: Beautiful Uranus

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.

and –

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


2,500 words

©anne whitaker 2023

Growing Up : “Debutante”

This short story,  continuing the theme of Growing Up, first represented earlier this year by “My Hero the Villain” was first published a long time ago in the Scottish literary magazine Calgacus, now defunct. It explores a pubescent youngster’s beginning to define herself in her own terms, outwith those of peer group or family, with some of the unexpected and unwelcome consequences of setting out on one’s own voyage of discovery….


The heavy stone which she had thrown, discus-fashion, sank into the viscous brown sludge, sending thick splutters on to the bank. She had been warned many times not to go near the canal; now she knew why. Falling into that slime would be a vile way to die.

Then she thought of the clear sea, the swoop of graceful birds, the long curve of white sand, the grassy dunes. She had to get there!

Until now she had always gone the safe way – driven in Father’s car to the far side of the beach, walked with him, returned with him…..until I go THIS way, the beach will never be my special place. It will never belong to me……

But I’ll have to cross the canal first…..apprehensively, she studied the fat chipped black pipe which ran from one bank to the other. She walked slowly towards it; the stink of the sludge made her retch. She shut her eyes and clenched her fists, screwing up courage.

She had planned this day for long enough…..when I am thirteen, I will make an expedition across the fields to the beach, all on my own. I will lie on the dunes and sunbathe, I will wade into the sea, watch the birds and explore the beach, all on my own…..

Quickly, shutting out thought, she tied her little bag of sandwiches, lemonade, towel and swimsuit on to her back; she rubbed the soles of her sand – shoes with her handkerchief to make sure they wouldn’t slip. The pipe was about twelve feet across, eighteen inches wide. She climbed on, taking a deep breath to avoid inhaling the stench of the sewage. She balanced very carefully, pretending that the pipe was a low bench in the school Gym, and started walking.

She was across. It had been easy. But her legs shook. There had been one or two moments when terror almost threw her off balance. She did not look back.

The morning was clear; coaxed by the warm sun, a gentle perfume distilled from the clover and forget-me-not and nameless little plants nestling in the turf under her feet began to mingle with the air. Butterflies, bees and flies buzzed and drifted round her; a light breeze made the yellow gorse flowers dance.

Not far ahead, the ground sloped up towards a low ridge; its sides were spiked with straggling whin and twining bramble bushes. At the top sagged the rusty remains of a fence; disdaining to use the teetering stile, she swung herself nimbly through a narrow gap between the lowest barbed wire strand and the sandy soil. Not much of a fence, she thought, noting the fading wisps of wool clinging to the wire; anything can get through now.

Beyond the ridge, the ground was a patchwork of springy turf, bogs, and oily stagnant pools. Cautiously she picked her way; she had heard grim stories of this deceptive, shifting sand leading to the estuary. Sheep were often lost in the dark here, sucked into the treacherous bogs, and last spring a tinker had vanished without trace. The thought made her shiver. Still, it was safe enough during the day.

She felt thirsty. Sitting down on a firm bank of turf, she drank lemonade and watched the insects in the pool beside her. There was a large fly, struggling helplessly, trapped in a globule of peaty oil floating on the surface. A water spider was paddling lazily around the edge. The fly caught its attention. The spider made straight for the drowning fly, grabbed it, hauled it out of the oily globule, dragged it still struggling towards the bank, and vanished into its lair. She watched, fascinated. A pond skater skimmed the surface. He was too big to fear the spider. He’s the boss around here, she thought.

Suddenly, another fly fell foul of a tiny oil slick. She watched in anticipation. Another water spider homed in and pounced. As the insects battled their way to the bank, she picked up a stone and dropped it, right on top of them. Victim and predator disappeared; the ripples destroyed the stagnant calm of the pool. She watched for a few moments and was overcome with desolation. Abruptly, she got up and walked on.

The breeze grew fresher and she could smell salt on the air. The ground ahead was firmer now; she moved into an easy stride, soon reaching the last fence to cross between her and the shore. Below the fence was a solid stone boathouse which had withstood tide and weather for over a hundred years. Half a mile down the shore lay the open sea.

The estuary had receded to a narrow ribbon of water, quietly waiting for high tide to give it back its eddies and currents. There was nothing but sand, scored by tiny channels of water, patterned by sand ribs, worm castings and the narrow footprints of gulls, between her and the village which straggled along the green hillside across the estuary.

It was hard to believe that this was the treacherous Mussel Ebb, with its unpredictable patches of sinking sand, where the tide came in so erratically, so deceptively, that you could find yourself cut off on a sandbar in moments. The Mussel Ebb had claimed many lives; even strong swimmers had lost battles with its powerful and insidious currents.

Just now it was tame; gulls picked idly in the channels, big smooth stones embedded in the sand were drying themselves languidly in the sun.

Lazily, she draped herself on the scrubby grass between boathouse and shore. She was hungry; bringing out the sandwiches and lemonade she ate, chuckling to herself……I wonder how Latin is going?…..Reaching for another sandwich, she took a deep breath to fill her lungs with sea air. A sweetish, sickening odour caught her throat. Decay.

Clutching her bag she stood up. Nearer the boathouse the smell was stronger. Nothing round the back. Round to the North side. Lying huddled against the wall was a bundle of dirty woolly rags; holding one hand over nose and mouth she crept nearer. The bundle was a decomposing sheep; close to it were the remains of a tiny lamb. She backed away, nauseated. She had seen dead sheep before; but the sight of the mauled corpse of such a tiny creature struck at her. There was nothing to be done.

She turned again towards the sea. She walked fast. The shoreline now seemed deserted and lifeless. The image of the lamb’s congealed and bloody eye sockets infected her vision. She noticed only old, pitted bones of sheep and dead birds.

The sound of the sea grew closer. She could see the dunes now, and the stiff marram grass leaning over in the light breeze. The terns’ cries reached her, faintly.

The terns! She thought of them with fascination and fear. During the nesting season they patrolled the beach, endlessly vigilant. Dogs, children, adults; the terns made vicious swoops on all who threatened their young. She would have to face their protective wrath.

Wrathful Terns....
Wrathful Terns...

artwork by Pamela J. Blair….pamela.blair@virgin.net

Her father had often assured her that these birds only threatened; they never actually attacked. But she could never quite believe him. She had dreamed once that a tern pecked a hole in the top of her head. Her brains, bloody mush, spurted out……but they don’t nest at this end…I’ll worry about them later……

She loved the texture of the sand in the dunes. It was warm, welcoming; a few gentle wriggles were enough to mould it into a perfect hollow. Lying on her back, eyes shut in the strong midday sunlight, she stretched her body taut, then slowly relaxed and lay limp. She felt her body dissolve into the sand; her mind dissolved into fantasy.

…..She was the only survivor of a ship wreck, strolling along miles of golden sand on a desert island, her hair bleaching, hanging wild down her back and her naked skin brown and smooth and salty with sea water…..she was a Pharaoh’s wife in ancient Egypt, rowed down the Nile in a royal galley with slaves straining at the oars, watching men hauling huge stone blocks from the shore for the Pyramids, while overseers stood by with whips……she was an Inca woman of noble birth, bound and calm, chosen as a sacrifice to the mighty Sun God……

Hunger pangs at last called her back. She ate and drank leisurely, enjoying her solitude. But her body puzzled her; a pulsing inner warmth was slowly rising, causing her to long for something whose nature she could not identify. Impulsively, she stood up and threw off her shorts and shirt. She was naked in the powerful eye of the sun.

Crossing her arms, she hugged her shoulders; then she moved her hands slowly, hesitantly down the front of her body. Smooth, warm skin over jutting ribs, tight little stomach and prominent hip bones. She looked down. In the sun’s glare she saw that the fleshy delta between belly and thighs was no longer smooth but fuzzed with downy hairs.

She stood for a moment, hands resting on thighs, studying, wondering. Then she shook herself, as if jerking out of a trance, and lifted up her bag. Tugging out her swimsuit she quickly put it on. She leapt out of her hollow, ran over the top of the dunes, careless of the tough marram plucking at her legs and stabbing her feet, down the shifting sandy slope to the beach.

The tide was still quite far out. She ran, faster and faster; through the bank of shells, across the high tide mark strewn with seaweed. Her feet smacked the hard wet sand.

She hit the shallow water at full speed; ran on, gasping and shuddering as a splashing fountain rained, icy, on her skin. Thigh-deep, she struck out and swam in the calm sea.

She exhausted herself with swimming; near the shallow again, she turned and floated on her back, limp as a strand on bladder-wrack. The motion of the incoming tide soon bore her shorewards, depositing her gently on the sand.

The sea had soothed her. Calm, untroubled, at peace, her body felt as clear and clean as the gently rising waters. Unhurriedly, trailing her toes across the sand ribs, she strolled back up the sand ribs, she strolled back up the beach; the water trickling down her body quickly dried salty on her skin in the day’s heat.

Dressed now, she stood looking over the dunes to the beach which curved along the bay into a rocky cove. Above the rocks, its thin soil struggling silently with the sea’s erosion of the privacy of those resting there, was an old ruined chapel and churchyard. On a clear bright day like this it didn’t seem far. But it was a walk of at least two miles from where she stood. The chapel dated back to the fifteenth century; in it rested the bones of the earliest MacLeod chiefs. At night, so it was said, you could see the eyes of the dead shining in the churchyard. She had never visited it alone.

The terns’ nesting grounds began half way along, in a sheltered dip below the dunes. She watched them; they wheeled and dived ceaselessly over the sea…..I wonder if they ever sleep?…..smiling at the thought, she stepped down the slope to the beach, and began to follow the high tide mark.

As she walked, eyes combing the miscellany of objects cast up by the sea, she remembered the discovery she had always longed to make; two summers ago, a transparent green bottle with paper inside it, the ink running slightly. Wild with excitement, she had run yelling to her father. He opened the bottle. She could still recall her bitter disappointment. It contained religious pamphlets from Ireland.

Here, another bottle. Empty, with a label on it in a foreign language. Lots of seaweed. She stamped on it, bursting the small dry bladders with satisfying pops. Tiny, exquisite pastel-coloured shells. A rusty can. She remembered it from last summer when she had cut her foot on its jagged lid. A dead seagull, one wing still half-raised in its last struggles.

She always delighted in the little crab skeletons which, somehow, remained intact. And the glass shapes; once, bits of broken bottles – now, worn utterly smooth by the action of countless tides. A fish box – ‘Leiper, Aberdeen’. A small sausage-shaped balloon; sagged, rubbery and clammy to the touch…..wonder what that was for?…..

Absorbed, she forgot about the terns until they suddenly began their attack. Screech, swoop and dive…screech, swoop and dive! She felt panic rising, but fought it down. Recalled her father’s words…..Don’t worry! They wont attack you…they’re bluffing…..But alone on a bare beach with the sun’s warmth ebbing and the tide rising and these fierce creatures threatening her, she felt small and unprotected. She tried waving her arms and shouting, but they only grew louder.

Despite her alarm, there was a tight knot of stubbornness in her…..I’m not giving up the rest of my day for them!…..Crouching low, she ran for the protection of the dunes, huddling down in the steep curve between dunes and beach. It worked. The terns, mollified, flew away to the sea’s edge. She raised her head cautiously and watched them.

They were swooping low; she thought she noticed something moving. Peering carefully, she gasped with delight. No wonder they had been so insistent! The beach below her was dotted with wobbly little bundles of fluff tottering towards the sea. The baby terns were hatching! Not daring to move, she watched the parents shepherding their young.

After some time she grew bold; longing to see the chicks more clearly she began to edge, still crouching, towards the sea. As she crept her hand touched something warm and smooth lying in a hollow in the sand. Unthinkingly, she picked it up and squeezed it. It broke in her hand and thin clear liquid dripped out of it. She stared at her hand; sliding into her cupped palm from a ruin of shattered eggshell, blood and jelly came a half-formed tern. She screamed and threw the mess down; it spattered on the sand.

She rubbed and twisted her hand convulsively in the dry sand, over and over again. She stood up then and wiped it hard on her shirt.

Standing awkwardly, tears spilling down her face, she stared across the beach, her eyes drawn to the chapel above the rocks. The air was growing chilly; she shuddered at its touch.

She could not stay in this alien place. Her gaze shifted from the chapel to the chicks, to the mothering birds, to the incoming tide. Bending down slowly she picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder.
The sun was moving westward, the light fading. Turning on her back on the screeching terns and the looming sea, she climbed wearily over the dunes to begin the long walk home.

2600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page