Tag Archives: horoscope

Some thoughts on yet another Ophiuchus astrology-bashing episode …

Well, it’s been a week! At the moment of writing, I suspect that my esteemed colleague and UK’s Astrological Journal editor Victor Santo Olliver is lying down in a dark room with a wet cloth on his forehead, recovering from no less than twelve radio interviews in the space of a few days, all devoted in essence to explaining why Ophiuchus is not and never has been a zodiacal sign.

If you have been hiding in a damp cave somewhere far away with no access to social media and have therefore not been exposed to the huge pointless fuss, first of all this short piece of mine from a previous Ophiuchus-fest will give you the bare facts of the matter. You may also wish to read a much longer, more erudite article by respected astrologer Deborah Houlding going into the issue in more depth.

Next, do read this Press Gazette piece in which Victor is quoted, which should give you some insight into the media’s generally hardening attitude towards astrology and the reasons for this.

I left a comment on Victor’s Facebook Page where he’d shared the above article, to the effect that what he had said was as ever, clear, accurate and to the point. I then went away and thought about the whole issue of why this especially frenetic attack by the media – producing many, many articles by a range of astrologers refuting what was being said – had flared up at this time.

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts, with thanks to Victor for stimulating them:

In this time of uncertainty and fear we are living through, I can understand why in general terms the media are trying to root out inaccurate misrepresentation –or fake news – which is dangerous in the political and cultural sphere. However, it seems clear that using this as an opportunity yet again to attack astrology is just another example of the left brain versus right brain cultural wars which have intensified ever since the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

A long-term problem is that the left brain cohort have never taken the trouble to investigate the large differences that exist between two discrete types of astrology. The ‘astrology lite’ of the popular press – at its best! – is well written by intelligent and thoughtful people and helps to put the lives of we small individuals into the context of a meaningful bigger picture, if only for a few moments of reflection in a busy day.

This astrology fronts a deeper, more powerful in-depth practice requiring years of study and practice to master at any useful level; It has a 6000 + year old tradition upon which to draw in terms of observation of the interaction between our solar system and the collective/ individual lives of the humans who inhabit it.

However, the standard bearers of the left brain cohort e.g. Dawkins and Cox, have never taken the trouble to embark on any in-depth study which would reveal the power and value of that astrology which lies behind its popular mask.

I was an astrology dismisser myself many years ago, until I took the trouble to embark on some serious study of the art and science which is astrology (since its major strength lies in combining right and left brain perspectives on the human condition) and have been a practitioner ever since. Until ignorant and prejudiced people decide to exhibit a little humility in properly investigating a deep and powerful field of knowledge before dismissing it, I fear we astrologers are not going to make any progress in reducing the increasing levels of prejudice which are being directed against us.

My own personal approach to this, and I know it is the approach of many fellow astrologers whose work I respect, is to ‘hold the line’ as it were by demonstrating through respectful, ethical, and well-informed and trained practice, an in-depth astrology which has been helpful and enlightening to innumerable numbers of people throughout history.

I think that engaging with an increasingly polarised and nasty public debate on this is pretty futile; all we can usefully do is set a good example by quality practice, as I have said above.

However, in the spirit of exchanging views, agreeing to differ, and not vilifying one another in the process, I realise that not everyone shares this view!

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Part 2: More on the Moon’s Nodes…

Well, as they say, it has been a week! Mine peaked – or troughed – late on Friday afternoon just after I had posted Part 1 and shared it on my Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page, when Facebook locked me completely out of my whole Facebook account, allegedly ‘to protect the security of our community’. You are my readers: do you think you need protection from me? (answers, on a plain postcard…)

Anyway, cutting a very long and tortuous story short, a saga ensued which involved utterly futile attempts to find an appropriate route through algorithmic obfuscations. In the end, my third email to the source of the previous (algorithmic) ones must have been so pungent (not rude, just pungent) that my account was suddenly restored late last night. I was most relieved, since I had been expecting a long haul – in keeping with two similar episodes in the last year – before what passes for normal service was restored.

Judging from the comments left on Part 1, both on my own blog/astrology Facebook Page and on the Pages of colleagues who kindly shared the post, there has indeed been a lightening of mood with some of us consequent upon this shift; an increase in matters communicative and educational/philosophically reflective in others; and, like me, downright disruption, despite which I too feel a lightening of mood this week. This has modified my feelings of exasperation and of being overwhelmed by matters Gemini/Sagittarius!

Back to  Basics

This variation in responses and experiences neatly leads into a reminder of some basic principles, also reiterated by Dr Liz Greene in her second webinar on Chiron which I attended yesterday (9th May 2020): when considering the likely impact of any transit, including the Nodes, you need to remember that the transit invokes the basic nature and strength of the original pattern in the natal horoscope, bringing it into relationship with whatever opportunities/challenges the current transit is offering. 

My own horoscope will serve as a case in point, but readers can easily apply the same principles to their own horoscopes and current transits. I’ve used a Whole Sign format for the houses.

(I’m assuming readers have a basic familiarity with what the Nodal Axis represents. For those who do not, here is a quick summary.)

Anne W Horoscope

Anne W Horoscope

As can be seen, the Nodal Axis is bolted exactly onto the MC/IC axis in the ninth/third houses, very appropriate for a career which has always involved teaching and education in one form or another: all the way from teaching Liberal Studies to bricklayers and gas fitters, through to university entrance qualifications in English to mature students, and thereafter to supervision of social work trainees, and latterly via astrology classes to any and every occupation – from bus driving to psychiatric consultancy.

When you add in that powerful pattern’s being part of a fixed T-Square with the twelfth House Sun/Moon conjunction, also taking in third house Jupiter in Scorpio widely conjunct the IC/South Node, you can see the powerful symbolic role played in the unfolding path of my life’s journey by the Moon’s Nodes. I’ve even written a research study about them!

So – it’s hardly surprising that their shift this week has been very challenging for me. In addition to circumstances already described in Part 1, I’ve been having one of my periodic “What am I supposed to be doing with the rest of my life/ I need some new input!! ” Mercury/Jupiter crises. You’d think at my age I’d have settled that one. No such luck…

The Nodes’ journey through the natal chart

The stronger the links are, then, between natal planets and Angles with the Nodal axis, the more powerfully we will experience the symbolic impact of that axis as it regresses through our horoscopes, taking 18 months to go through each sign and house – pulling the potent twice yearly eclipse seasons with it – taking 18-19 years to return to its natal position. It will bring the core challenges of that natal pattern along to whatever sign, house and planetary aspects it happens to be making in that 18-19 year journey.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Nodal shift into Gemini/Sagittarius and my tenth/fourth houses has already brought up powerful issues centring round having to balance the demands of domestic and vocational life. With the North Node conjunct the MC strongly pushing me to favour my vocational path, I’ve always been dragged back, usually unwillingly, to the South Node/IC position to deal with domestic matters from which I was unable to escape. It’s taken me decades to arrive at a reasonable balance between those two poles.

As I pointed out some time ago in The Moon’s Nodes in Action’:

‘…Identifying with the South Node position too strongly means leading a life which depends on using the abilities we already have to keep us safe from risk, challenge and therefore growth; whose main priority is comfort; whose mode is a habitual and largely automatic response to life.

Taking up the challenge of the North Node, on the other hand, brings with it a life which feels meaningful and open to new experience; which takes opportunities to develop innate talents and new insights and skills through responding positively to the impetus for change; whose mode is of acceptance of conflict and discomfort as a necessary part of developing as a person.

At the heart of the fullest, most creative expression of the struggle both collectively and individually lies a deep paradox – to move on as human beings we must individuate, follow the path of the North Node, and leave the South Node behind. But we must also make the return journey, to honour that which we ideally do not leave behind at all, but incorporate in our movement towards our own destiny…’ (i)

This personal example serves to illustrate a vital point about the Nodal Axis which applies to us all. We have to honour the challenges of the whole axis as our life path unfolds…

The current Nodal picture

Along with many of us, I’ve found the Nodal Axis’ transit through Cancer/Capricorn, crossing Saturn/Pluto in mid 2019 along the way, to be especially painful in terms of family, loss, and having to restructure life in ways that I would definitely not have chosen. No wonder the Moon’s Nodes, especially when they link with Pluto, have such a fated ‘feel’ to them. This was certainly one of the stand-out conclusions at which I arrived as a result of my own research into the Nodes.

I do not need to remind any of us of what a battering our world community has taken from the winter of 2018/9 as the Nodes have regressed through Cancer/Capricorn, culminating in the rise and spread of the grim pandemic now engulfing the world as the Nodal Axis shifts. Through the corona virus, our planet seems to be telling us in no uncertain terms that we need to radically change the way we live on planet Earth.

It’s fascinating to me as an astrologer (and I’m sure many other astrologers also think the same thing) that the shift of the Nodes into Gemini/Sagittarius has co-incided with several distinctive collective shifts. Here are just a few examples: One, the restlessness and desire to ease lockdown which is becoming more manifest in different countries despite the risk that certainly poses. Humans can only endure severe restriction for so long. We are too restless as a species, and this particular Nodal shift is amplifying that restlessness.

Also noticeable has been that the international search for a vaccine which would gradually bring us greater freedom has been ramping up, producing some promising results eg in the UK where human trials have already begun.

Furthermore at a more negative level for humans, though beneficial for the planet, has been the dawning of a realisation coming into clear focus now: the aviation industry, that supreme ally of human restlessness, is in severe trouble. We may never again be able to take to the air and see the world in the same relatively cheap and carefree way that we’ve come to take for granted in recent decades…

In conclusion– something else which strikes me as apt, and significant, is the North Node’s current presence in airy Gemini, midwifing the Air era beginning at this year’s winter solstice with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction’s dramatic arrival at 0 degrees of Aquarius. We are going to need the adaptability of Gemini and the optimism and vision of Sagittarius as we step into the great collective adventure of the next two hundred years!

Endnotes

(i) The Moon’s Nodes in Action’: p15

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Nodes enter Gemini/Sagittarius …communication goes nuts!

Honestly, I wasn’t going to bother writing about the Nodes’ ingress into Gemini/Sagittarius…until it happened on the morning of Tuesday 5th May 2020 (if you go by the True Node – more on this later) during the first formal zoom tutorial with my student group.

Immediately following this my week exploded into a flurry of admin, dealing with annoying domestic detail, numerous phone calls at inconvenient moments eg when I was struggling to make sense of my tax return, zoom chats, teaching – and group participation via two seminars, one on Saturday planned for some time, the other on Sunday, arising from a zoom meeting with a friend and colleague today. This upcoming weekend is suddenly full of zoom, zoom, and more zoom!

I haven’t been feeling hugely inspired of late, but the extraordinary ramping up of all things Gemini/Sagittarius in my life this week with the Nodes’ shift from Cancer/Capricorn has truly got me going. This shift places the North Node in my tenth house, South Node in the fourth house; my week has been characterised thus far by considerable frustration as I struggled to free myself from the grip of admin etc etc centred on matters concerning my domestic life, in order to follow the promptings of the North Node in the tenth and get on with writing my A A Journal column and another piece of writing still gestating.

The manifestations of this shift for me were so striking that I really feel inspired once again to return to reflecting on the Moon’s Nodes, and in this post, on the significance of  ingresses. Planetary ingresses (entries) into signs have fascinated me ever since I began to study astrology and to realise the striking correlation between newspaper headlines on the day after a planet had shifted from one sign to another, and events in the wider world. At one time I had a whole file full of dramatic press cuttings illustrating this eg a photograph of the Japanese city of Kobe on fire following a massive earthquake on 17th January 1995 – just as Pluto shifted into Sagittarius.

But what of ingresses which are not planetary, ie the ingresses of the Moon’s Nodes which we are discussing here? Is it worth paying attention to these points of ingress in personal life? Or collective life? Have you had any striking experiences this week illustrating the energetic shift of the Nodes from one pair of signs to another? Has your mood lightened ( despite lockdown) in response to the Nodal shift from water and earth (Cancer/Capricorn) to air and fire (Gemini/Sagittarius)?

I’d be interested in my readers’ thoughts on this topic, whilst I write in some more detail about the Moon’s Nodes in general, and in Gemini/Sagittarius, for next week.

450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

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What is astrology?…since you ask…

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

(Arthur Koestler from The Sleepwalkers)

The story of humanity is one of an unending attempt to create some recognisable order from the chaos of our earliest origins. In order to survive and evolve as a species, we have  created contexts for ourselves over many millennia from our interpretations of the world around us.

Modern science has shown us that we are part of an interconnected universe of mind-boggling complexity, in its minutest essence a vast energy field, ever moving and changing to the shifting dance of waves and particles – chaos and order forever interweaving, forever returning to and arising from the Quantum Vacuum, or in Buddhist terminology the Void, or in Western spiritual terminology, the Ground of our being.

The vivid quotation from the philosopher Arthur Koestler illustrates the origins of the ancient art and science of astrology – literally ‘the study of the stars’, whose basic precept “as above, so below” demonstrates that our modern understanding that we live in an interconnected cosmos is not a new idea at all.

It has been around ever since we fragile humans, vulnerable to the vagaries of a tempestuous earth with its storms, earthquakes and floods, began to evolve a context of meaning by plotting with increasing sophistication as time went on, the movements of the heavenly bodies in the starry skies above us.

From observing the regular patterns and cycles followed by those heavenly bodies, and recording with care what links there seemed to be between such movements and the ebbs and flows of human life, the early astrologer/priests began to be able to determine (with varying degrees of accuracy – prediction in any field of endeavour has never to this day become an exact science!) the fate of the king and the nation according to the movements of the planets.

Personal horoscopes plotting the patterns of individual life were unheard of then. Individual personal horoscopes are not to be found until the fifth century BCE: the oldest known personal horoscope is from the year 410 BCE.

Modern-day astrology is very different from the fate-ridden pronouncements of the past. The twentieth century saw big shifts in our understanding of science, history and culture which moved us from the Modernist era of  ‘grand narratives’  describing with confidence and conviction the way we are as humans, to an altogether less certain set of perceptions.

Just as modern science has shown us that there can be no absolute objectivity since the presence of the observer can be shown to influence the outcome of the experiment, so we now live in a Postmodern era where we understand that we are embedded in the unfolding action of the plot of life on Earth. Thus we shape our ‘reality’ even as we are living it – and indeed recognise that there are probably many ‘realities’. Absolute truth is not what it once was!

Astrology, too, has moved with the times although there are still many reputable and respected practitioners who stick closely to traditional methods of interpretation and prediction rooted in antiquity. Knowledge of astrology doesn’t result in harmonious agreement – even if it is to differ! – amongst astrologers. Far from it. In that respect, we are just as riven with conflicts and disagreements as any other human group.

Modern psychology, rooted in the great insights of Freud and then Jung who was basically a mystic, more eclectic and open minded in his knowledge base than Freud, has had considerable impact on how astrology is now taught and practised.

In antiquity, the planets were seen as gods whose interaction with and action upon humans’ lives determined their fate. Jung’s great contribution to the modernising of astrology in the 20th century was his formulation – from the study of universal myth – of the concept of the collective unconscious, an updating of the ancient idea of the World Soul.

This collective unconscious comprises a group of energy patterns or archetypes, an idea taken from the Greek philosopher Plato, which are present in all cultures across the world and which shape every aspect of human behaviour.

Jung’s view was taken up by the first of the great psychological astrologers Dane Rudhyar in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and further developed by other astrologers, most notably well-known Jungian analyst, astrologer and author Liz Greene whose fusion of mythology, Jungian psychology and astrology further shaped the model known as Psychological Astrology which has become very influential in the thinking of many contemporary astrologers, myself included.

To be continued….

********

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‘At the still point’: awaiting the Aries New Moon…

We tend to think of the annual 20th March equinox, the day the Sun enters Aries, as the symbolic beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. But you could argue that its true beginning takes place with the New Moon in Aries: this year, that does not happen until the 24th March 2020, when the Sun and Moon meet at 4 degrees 12 minutes of Aries.

Image of Moondark

Moondark

You could further argue that the period from the Pisces New Moon, this year having fallen just three days ago on 23rd February at 4 degrees 29 minutes of Pisces, represents the Moondark, or balsamic period, or end phase of the whole astrological year – which began with the 15 degrees  17 minutes Aries New Moon on the 5th of April 2019.

Today thus finds us at the new crescent phase beginning the whole zodiacal year’s Moondark. It also finds us on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar, a six week period of contemplation leading to Easter Sunday which falls each year close to the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.

So – how does that profound, doubly symbolic invitation to withdraw and reflect on the year that’s gone, sit with you?

For a very long time, I have been happy and grateful to draw spiritual inspiration from writers of all religious and spiritual traditions – or none. What I seek is grounded wisdom and perspective, wherever it comes from, to guide my life. I also love the comforting, ancient power of ritual. One of my personal Ash Wednesday rituals is to read to myself sections of T S Eliot’s great poem sequence Ash Wednesday. Here is the quote which on this Ash Wednesday has most moved me,:

‘…this is the time of tension between dying and birth/ The place of solitude where three dreams cross…’ (i)

I am in a deeply withdrawn, sensitive, pensive state in this year’s Moondark just beginning, feeling very open to our collective vulnerability and suffering as fragile creatures on a tiny planet.

Having been born in Moondark in the very last hours of the monthly Sun/Moon cycle, I am very aware of the need periodically to retreat, contemplate, take stock – a fundamental aspect of human experience which is being squeezed out by the 24/7 freneticism of contemporary living, to the increasing detriment of our collective mental and physical wellbeing.

Will this new year soon arising bring more brutality towards the vulnerable and the innocent, orchestrated by those currently in power whose humanity has in many cases become increasingly debased? Or will it signify a new generation arising, whose values are not rooted in accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of our Mother planet, ready to challenge the structures of  old order?

Thankfully, we are seeing strong evidence of the latter option arising already, as the new Saturn/Pluto cycle slowly begins and we move towards a new Jupiter/Saturn cycle at 0 degrees Aquarius, beginning at the winter solstice 2020. We need radical change, and we are going to have it over the next few years, one way or another…

The Big Why?

In contemplative moments such as this, poised in the stillness of a whole year’s Moondark, being temperamentally inclined to brood on questions most sensible folk prefer to avoid much of the time, I tend to return to The Big Why, and its attendant questions: Why are we here at all? What does it all mean? What am I to do with my small life?

It would appear from numerous surveys one tends to come across both in print and social media, that despite conventional religions losing ground, most people are just as inclined as they have ever been toward some sort of faith, some belief that despite its painful, turbulent dimensions life has meaning.

In times of suffering and turbulence, one of the great offerings of astrological knowledge, despite its being a double-edged gift with just as much capacity to scare us as to offer enlightenment, is a pointing through its symbols to something both collectively and personally meaningful going on. Looking through an astrological lens reveals patterns, not randomness.

Astrology is not a religion or a belief system – but it offers a clear lens through which to look out at the vastness of Mystery in which we exist, inviting us toward some form of belief that there is a bigger picture of  which we are all part, however small.

Personally, I have found that lens to have been a vitally important tool on my own journey toward a deep faith that we are all part of the One; even the dreadful things in life which afflict us both collectively and individually are woven into a tapestry of meaning, at some level which we are too ill-equipped to comprehend.

I find it supportive and comforting to centre myself in that faith when times are tough for the world – as they certainly are right now – and for those to whom I am personally connected with bonds of friendship and of love.

And for myself. My dear Aquarian husband Ian died peacefully on 13th January, having been felled with shocking suddenness by a cerebral haemorrhage on 12th January 2020: the very day of the ending of the most recent Saturn/Pluto cycle in Libra under which we were married in 1982, and the beginning of this new one now taking shape. Apart from the shock and grief of his dying, I am awestruck by the fated power for us of that brutal timing.

For those of you who have been wondering why I have not posted here since 10th January, that is the explanation.

The uses of Moondark

Moondark at its best is a contemplative time: time to take stock both collectively and personally.

Humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.

Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.

It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the time from the Pisces New Moon each year to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us: to take stock of the year that was coming to an end, ponder our successes and our failures, our joys and our sorrows,  and set some realistic intentions to pursue for the zodiacal year ahead.

Will you be taking stock? I certainly shall…

Endnotes

i)  from ‘The Complete Poems and Plays of T S Eliot’, Faber and Faber Ltd 1969, p 98

Image of Moondark

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“ in my end is my beginning”: Paradox and the Saturn/Pluto cycle…

As my tutorial students would tell you, my big love and fascination in the vast range of possible obsessions offered by astrology is: cycles. No, not bi-cycles. Planetary cycles. Large and small, I love them all. But whether the cycle is huge, like the 500 year Neptune /Pluto one, or tiny, like the monthly Sun/Moon one, the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new.

Cycles: beginnings – and endings

In East Coker, the second of T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, he began that section with “In my beginning is my end,” and ended it, “in my end is my beginning”. This rather paradoxical juxtaposition bookends the whole of life. Every beginning carries the seeds of its ending, every ending, potential for new beginnings. However, generally speaking you don’t find much astrological musing on the topic of cycles’ endings – or their slow beginnings. Especially in this particular Western cultural phase, expedited by faster and faster broadband speeds and ever more sophisticated technology, the emphasis is on satisfying the wants (often as opposed to the needs) of NOW.

The problem with this, however, is that Life on our planet still continues in its ancient, cyclic way, to which humans are still physically, emotionally and spiritually bound. Chronic disregard for this reality is now throwing up huge problems for us from the state of the planet to the increasingly fragile state of some of our young folks’ mental –and physical–health.

Here is an example, from a recent issue of  The Week which compiles ‘the best of the British and international media’: in a hard-hitting piece entitled ‘Deaths of despair: why Americans are dying young’, Joel Achenbach in The Washington Post says

‘…Whether as a result of economic hardship, stress, the lack of universal healthcare, loneliness or family breakdown, people just aren’t looking after themselves properly, and are making destructive life choices…’

The importance of  paying attention

So – in my (it is alleged…) contrarian way, I am here to muse on the endings, or balsamic phases, of cycles and the great importance of paying attention to them, especially as we approach the ending/new beginning of a whole 37-year Saturn/Pluto cycle. As everyone must be aware by now, astrologers or no, we are not living in a particularly easy light-hearted time either collectively or individually. To put it mildly.

That excellent astrological writer Dana Gerhardt observed some time ago in relation to the balsamic phase of, for example, the 29 year progressed New Moon cycle:

“When will it end?” is everybody’s first question on learning they’ve entered a progressed Balsamic phase. No matter how colorfully I paint its virtues, they peer beyond to a bleaker landscape, to a three-to-four-year sentence of all loss and no gain. I can see it in their eyes…. I tell them this is the richest spiritual time. I tell them when my own progressed Balsamic phase was over, I had nostalgia for it. I cheer: “You will too!” But it’s a tough sell….”

I would certainly endorse this from my own experience some years ago, of beginning a new phase in my career journey when no less than four major cycles were coming to an end over a period of almost a decade. I should have taken astrology’s advice, not that of my own ego!

The consequence was a long period of enforced retreat, triggered by a long family crisis and my subsequent energy burnout an enriching and deepening time, but very tough whilst it was happening… until the Progressed New Moon told me it was time to emerge and begin again.

Trying to do things differently…

Looking over my last few posts, I can see my preoccupation with cycles generally and this Saturn/Pluto one in particular. Hardly surprising, being so ‘plugged in’ to it from birth myself. In “Some notes on cycles in a time of crisis” published recently on Astrodienst, I offered this very brief summary of Saturn/Pluto’s challenges:

‘…In essence, Saturn/Pluto lets us off with nothing, either personally or collectively. We are forced into increasingly tight corners, whilst the pressure is ramped up on us to face and deal with the present consequences of past decisions, some of which might not be of our direct making. The environmental crisis which has become so vivid this year with the Nodal Axis joining the dance of Saturn/Pluto throughout 2019, is a case in point…’

As I write today, on 4th January 2020, Australia is ablaze, and on USA President Trump’s directive – apparently without running the plan through Congress first – Qasem Soleimani, top general and one of the most powerful men in Iran, was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad airport early today. His deputy was also killed. According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the airstrikes disrupted an “imminent attack” in the region that put American lives at risk. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vows for “harsh revenge.”

Collectively, Saturn/Pluto = warfare of one kind or another; relentless consistency every time.

Our political masters worldwide should study history via the planetary cycles, see if they can just for once learn something from them. It would make a change to be making war on the issues that really matter e.g. climate change, increasing social and fiscal inequality, widespread homelessness, equal rights for women worldwide, inadequate healthcare to name just a few contemporary problems urgently in need of war being waged upon them. Wouldn’t it be great if most of our countries in the world weren’t being run by narcissistic psychopaths?

Personal power and insightful choices

It is one of Life’s great ironies, pointed out by Carl Jung some time ago, that as individuals we probably have more control and choice over how collective energies manifest than eg nations do. In order to exercise that control and choice, however, we need to work towards more conscious awareness of  what our personal issues are – and how we go about making choices in relation to what Life throws at us. This is where astrology can be such an enlightening help.

Working with awareness, we can see patterns shaping up, get some idea from our first encounter with them eg Saturn/Pluto opposing/conjuncting/squaring our personal planet(s) what challenges they are offering – then with some reflection and perhaps therapeutic/astrological help when necessary, work out what the planetary gods in question are asking of us over the several years in which long-term transits/progressions are in operation as they slowly apply, become exact, and separate.

To quote Dr Liz Greene from one of her 1990s seminars at London’s Centre for Psychological Astrology:

“You have to give the god what the god wants…and if it’s Mars, don’t offer a bunch of flowers!”

I’ve never forgotten this sage advice, and have passed it on many times both to clients and students. However, like all good advice, most of us to our detriment fail sometimes on the good advice front. As I admitted earlier, I failed to pay attention to what the planetary cycles were telling me, with very harsh results.

The wisdom offered by planetary cycles: a general overview

In nearly forty years of working with clients, students, and with my own process, I have found that sharing wisdom offered by the planetary cycles has been very useful in helping to set Life’s sails to go with the prevailing winds at any given time. I routinely take people through the 11-12 year Jupiter cycle, the 7/8-year stages of the 29/30 year Saturn cycles, and the progressed Sun/Moon cycle.

Depending on the lunar phase at which a person was born, a progressed New Moon can fall in any year of life, eg at age four. You can then see that in 29/30 years’ time, another progressed New Moon in a new sign, usually a new house, and making different aspects to the natal planets, is describing the early start of a new life phase.

I recall a recent client who experienced progressed New Moons at those very ages. She could see how a whole challenging process had arisen as a result of a significant event at the time of her first progressed New Moon when she was four years old, and how life changes at her second progressed New Moon in the next sign had symbolised a new start – feeling like an important stage along the road of freeing herself from old negative patterns.

It is really moving, and powerful, to see eg how the theme of opening up to new adventures of mind, body and spirit develops as eg clients’ and students’ Jupiter cycles unfold: age 11/12, then 23/4, then 35/6 and so on depending on the person’s age at the time of a reading, or in a class when we are doing some qualitative research within the group.

A great gift of astrology, perhaps its greatest gift, is this: it shows us that we are part of Something vast and meaningful, not mere random accidents in space/time. That knowledge offers a great challenge: to take our tiny ‘chip’ of that vast energy field as revealed though the symbols in our horoscopes, with its pains as well as its gifts  – and strive to leave the world a slightly better place on our exit than it was when we came in. Grand achievements are not mandatory. Just being better, more fulfilled human beings as a result of having an extra, symbolic, source of potential insight is quite enough…

The degree to which a person’s life responds to the promptings of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto transits and cycles – and the 18.6 year cycle of the Moon’s Nodes – depends very much upon how strongly that person is ‘plugged in’ to that particular planet or point, its transits and its cycles. It is also very important in contemplating the planetary cycles, to realise that each cycle carries the same basic developmental template within it: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new.

So – as any cycle comes to an end, typical feelings are: restlessness and ennui; lower energy available to put into the key areas of life/activities governed by that cycle; dissatisfaction with what once seemed to work quite well, but now does not. In the case of the larger cycles’ endings, eg Saturn/Pluto, Uranus/Pluto, Uranus/Neptune, life can sometimes plunge us into circumstances of extreme difficulty or pain, at times through upheavals and hurts not directly related to our actions or choices. Some might prefer to call this the action of Fate…

However, it is also most important to note, as  that wise poet TS Eliot observed,

“in my end is my beginning”:

Germinating, hidden below the churned-up earth of cycles’ endings, are also the delicate seeds of new beginnings. I have always found it helpful for myself, students and clients to relate this to our solar system’s tiny monthly cycle of the sun and moon, clearly observable in the heavens above us. The delicate sliver of the waning crescent moon which we can sometimes see if the skies are clear, indicates that an old cycle is in its dying days. Then nothing is visible for another couple of days. It’s important to remember that the New Moon, and a new cycle beginning, takes place in the dark.

Think the moment of conception of a new human or a new animal. Without the very sophisticated technology of IVF, a very recent phenomenon in terms of our technological progress, this cannot be observed – although it may well be sensed, especially by a child’s mother…similarly, some of us may sense, at that liminal point, that something has changed, something new may be emerging. And then – that beautiful slender silver crescent of the waxing new moon appears in the sky, two or three days after its total absence. We are on a new journey.

We can apply that basic template both to individual planetary cycles, eg the famous 29/30 year Saturn one, and to the cycles of planets in combination eg the 172 year Uranus/Neptune cycle or the vast 500 year Neptune/Pluto cycle. The latter began in the 1890s, and we are still only moving off from the first sextile one hundred and thirty years later…an average human life will only encompass two full Saturn/Pluto cycles, and perhaps part of a third one.

Saturn/Pluto in particular

So – what can we do as individuals to navigate this significant Saturn/Pluto ending/ new beginning with some degree of useful awareness?

What I write here can only be of general guidance. How things work out for you in particular depends on your personal horoscope and its patterns. However, the more strongly this combination occurs in your natal chart, then by transit/progression as your life unfolds, the more potent the challenge is going to be. It’s also helpful to note the houses/Angles/Nodes  ruled by Saturn and by Pluto.

For example, I have Saturn/Pluto in the twelfth house conjunct Mercury, Venus, Moon and Sun, all in Leo; Saturn rules the fifth house, Pluto the IC/South Node conjunction. All my major life challenges have circled round children (others’, not mine), home and roots – and how to extricate and direct my powerful creative energies and vocational drives from the mire of family fate and from the consequences of unwise choices, often not made by me.

The first piece of advice – I do realise, of course, that it may well not be to your liking, since it certainly wasn’t to mine! – is have patience. This is a pretty long cycle ending and beginning, so things are likely to have been difficult for you in one way or another, along the lines of what I outlined earlier, for around a couple of years, perhaps more. Similarly, it is likely to take around that amount of time for the energies of the new cycle to take form and focus so that you can see the way ahead more clearly.

There is no point in pretending that the combination of Saturn and Pluto is not tough. I used to find with my classes that the aspects from which new students recoiled the most, and the transits they most feared the more they learned, were those of Saturn and Pluto, both separately and in combination through their cycle. Pluto manifests the raw creative and destructive power of the life force; Saturn tries to shape, control and focus that power.

This dynamic in our collective lives has always produced life or death struggle of one kind or another. Individuals plugged in have a ‘chip’ as it were of that powerful energy pattern to wrestle with, and hopefully learn to channel wisely and constructively, throughout their lives.

As I said at the outset of this esssay, ‘…In essence, Saturn/Pluto lets us off with nothing, either personally or collectively. We are forced into increasingly tight corners, whilst the pressure is ramped up on us to face and deal with the present consequences of past decisions, some of which might not be of our direct making…’

The next piece of advice is this: try to get some perspective on what the challenges are now, and how you might best deal with them as the new cycle starts to unfold. To do this, go back to the beginning of this cycle, note the dates, and check out what was going on in your life then. Then note the dates of the waxing square, then the opposition, then the waning square. There are of course the other aspects as the cycle waxes and wanes. But let’s stick with the biggies for now.

Those of you young folk who have not yet lived through a whole cycle, take especial note of the nearest of the biggies to your birth date. Some of you older readers will be able to go further back – it is worth making the effort to do so: both for the life insights it may well give you, but also regarding your family history in many cases, since Pluto usually seems to have connections to issues of family fate and its consequences which have woven into the fabric of the present time. Some of that material, and its influences on your life, can be usefully recognised, mined and processed during Saturn/Pluto periods.

Let’s do it now.

The first Saturn/Pluto conjunction of the last century occurred in October 1914 at 2 Cancer, and May 1915 at 1 Cancer. The second followed on August 11 1947 at 13 Leo. You can look up the first squares, opposition points, and waning squares of both those cycles in a 20th Century Ephemeris – or google them!

The last Saturn/Pluto exact conjunction occurred – once –  in November 1982 at 27 Libra, applying for a year before, separating for a year afterwards. The waxing square was exact in March 1993 at 25 Aquarius/Scorpio, then again at 24 Aquarius /Scorpio in October 1993, and finally at 27 Aquarius/Scorpio in January 1994. The opposition was first exact in August 2001 at 13 Gemini/Sagittarius, then in November 2001 at 14 Gemini/Sagittarius, lastly in May 2002 at 16 Gemini/Sagittarius. The waning square was exact in November 2009 at 2 Libra/Capricorn, then in January 2010 at 4 Libra/Capricorn, then finally in August 2010 at 3 Libra/Capricorn.

The end of the 1982/2020 cycle occurs, with the new Saturn/Pluto cycle starting slowly to form, on 12th January 2020 at 23 Capricorn – a much anticipated, feared, and discussed planetary event as a new decade begins (or an old one ends, depending on your stance on the matter!). If you care to do so, you can go forward in the 21st Century Ephemeris to plot the waxing square, opposition, waning square and ending dates of this new cycle.

A personal example

As the Saturn/Pluto cycle begun in 1947 drew to a close in 1980/82, little did I know that a whole phase of my personal and vocational life was also ending, and a new one was set to begin. I knew nothing then of astrological cycles and their significance. I met my husband in 1980, marrying him a few months before November 1982 and the start of the Libran Saturn/Pluto cycle. I also began studying astrology in 1980, commencing serious work on the Certificate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies in November 1982.

Each of the four key stages of  that unfolding cycle from 1982 up to the present time have brought very challenging, painful and difficult issues of a family of origin nature for me to cope with, as well as with my husband’s family since I took on a step-parent role with our marriage. These times also represented key stages in the development and unfolding of my parallel careers as a social worker, trainer, and private practising therapist along with developing an astrology consulting, writing and teaching practice.

However, as the cycle has moved towards its slow conclusion from the waning square in 2010, I have been aware of an increasing feeling of deep satisfaction with how an initially tough life pattern has turned out, beginning with  my birth seven weeks prematurely and an expectation that I would not survive. I am experiencing the long-term rewards from hanging on in there, at times having to struggle very hard to deal with and free myself from old family complexes as much as possible which were getting in the way of my professional and relationship lives.

Our marriage has survived and deepened, my Aquarian husband having provided unwavering support both personally and professionally. Through some tough and at times tragic family challenges, I have slowly and gradually learned something which I believe only Saturn/Pluto could have pushed me to learn, but which growing older with less life force to waste has helped along: to focus and channel my Leonine creative energies as much as possible into constructive vocational pursuits, thereby honouring my path. And most importantly, not to waste that life force on those who are unwilling or unable to benefit from my efforts.

Learning the very hard way that you can’t make anyone do anything for what you see as their own good if they don’t wish to – or can’t – is an excellent lesson for a Saturn/Pluto control freak!

I still love astrology as much as ever. The difference, though, as this cycle closes and a new one arises, is this: my desire to work directly with clients has waned, as has my desire to have any public role other than through my writing and a limited amount of teaching and mentoring. However, my awareness of the need to claim and honour the role of Elder, to offer as much support as I can to the next able generation of astrologers arising, especially in my local area, is growing. 

Beyond being aware of the gifts as well of the limitations that come with ageing, and of the importance of living as much as possible in a soulful way in the present moment, sharing whatever time we may have left with my husband, close family members and friends, I have little idea of what new creative challenges/opportunities the new Saturn/Pluto cycle may bring. I’m not too worried about that, feeling freer in spirit now than I have ever felt – despite the dismal state of the world at present as we grapple with unprecedented turbulence and a planet under threat…

In Conclusion…

To paraphrase Jung’s point, mentioned earlier: individuals working in a conscious way can have more power to shift the balance of a difficult planetary pattern in a positive direction, than collectives do. I have long believed that if we want to change the world, we need to start with ourselves, and work outwards.

We are currently experiencing the end of an important, powerful, challenging and formative planetary cycle, and wondering what this next Saturn/Pluto phase will bring. It is my hope, therefore, that my musings in this essay may offer some pointers  regarding how to approach and understand the phase that is passing – and to gain some perspective which will help in facing the upcoming Saturn/Pluto cycle with greater understanding and insight.

3,600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

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Some Otherworld thoughts in Capricorn’s dark season…

It is the season of Capricorn. I am gazing through our wide bay window towards the shadowy hills, as city lights illuminate a cold, rainy early January night.  A very bare bay window. Where have all the jewels of multi-coloured reflection gone? Back to the ‘Otherworld’, the Romantic in me thinks. Waiting, waiting for another year…

Yesterday we took our Christmas Tree down, this year aided by our kind and helpful neighbours, their assistance a welcome ray of brightness in an otherwise doleful day. After New Year has arrived, the time of festivity and celebration is over.

The richly decorated, multi-coloured glowing beauty of our tree then ceases to bring us comfort and magic in the heart of winter, standing before us reproachfully (as we imagine), waiting to be dismantled, recycled. We cannot bear to prolong this post-festive inevitability. And now it’s done, gone.

Here I stand, in the bare, empty, dusted, wiped, hoovered space left behind. What comfort is to be found in this bleak moment?

The need to bring comfort, cheer and significance to that cold dark time in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun’s warmth seems a distant longed-for memory, is a very ancient one. Here are the ancient Egyptians, honouring their Tree of Life:

This thought comforts me, as it does every year. I like to feel part of the ancient river of humanity as I stand here in my 21st century bare bay window.

Dylan Thomas’ famous line from the poem  “And death shall have no dominion” comes to mind:

‘Though lovers be lost, love shall not……’

This tree may have been sacrificed by us, but its spirit lives on in that bare window space, inhabiting another world, waiting to be given form yet again when the seasons turn and we feel yet again a powerful need to affirm in the cold season of Capricorn that the life force is still with us – just gathering its strength in the dormancy of winter.

350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

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Saturn/Pluto and the fear it raises: contemplating astrology as a healing and a wounding art…

A week or so ago, there was a question on one of the astrology discussion groups I drop into from time to time – from a newcomer to astrology. This person was very concerned about how to deal with ‘transits and predictive work’, commenting on how anxiety-inducing it was for so many people when they contemplated upcoming challenging transits eg Saturn/Pluto, both in relation to themselves and how they could talk about tough upcoming patterns with their clients.

Chiron - Wounded Healer

Chiron – Wounded Healer

This reminded me of an article I had written some time ago for the Centre for Psychological Astrology’s in-house magazine Apollon on that very topic. It is called “Astrology as a healing and a wounding art”(i) and deals precisely with the anxieties that everyone has to face who begins to dig beneath the surface of the Star Sign column level of popular astrology.

In the article, which you can access via the Endnotes to this post, I decided to interview a number of my astrology students who had been studying/practising astrology for some time, regarding what they thought were both the healing and the wounding aspects of astrological study and practice. The results were most interesting. I hope you find reading the article useful – do feel free to leave your reactions via comments.

As you may imagine, there were a number of responses to the worried astro-newcomer’s questions and concerns. Here is what I wrote, which struck me on re-reading it as having quite a Saturn/Pluto tone to it. Hardly surprising, since I have a Mercury/Saturn/Pluto line-up in my own horoscope…but I think that there are certain tough realities which need to be faced if you are going to take up the practice of astrology. Maybe those of us who have been practising for a long time don’t spell them out clearly enough…

“…I used to start my astrology classes by pointing out to students that 99% of the human race had got through history and their lives without knowing any astrology and had managed to get by. I also used to point out to them that while astrology is archetypally predictive, its track record on actual specific prediction is historically pretty unimpressive.

I also told them the story of Prometheus, who stole the fire of knowledge from the gods and was severely punished as a result.

Astrology is a wounding as well as a healing art, and if students/practitioners can’t make their peace with that reality in such a way that they can be of constructive value to their future clients, they should take up something non-threatening like e.g. stamp collecting…”

Endnotes

(i)“Astrology as a healing and a wounding art”

Note: the link will take you through to the pdf Issue 3 of Apollon – scroll down and the Contents page will tell you where to find my article. There is also a brilliant article by Liz Greene called ‘Wounding and the will to live’ –  about Chiron – which I would urge you to take the time to read.

Apollon Issue 3

Apollon Issue 3

500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

 

Some thoughts at the Winter Solstice:

 
……a quotation from “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach states……
 
“ Gloom we have always with us, a rank and sturdy weed, but joy requires tending.”
Barbara Holland
 
 
Winter Solstice 2018 by Anne Whitaker

Winter Solstice 2018
by Anne Whitaker

This has never seemed truer as we approach the end of what has been a very difficult year, our human community across the world riven with even more – and more angrily polarised – conflicts than usual.

It is becoming much harder, since young Greta Thunberg’s resolute pounding on the door of our resistance to facing the truth of our planetary crisis, to avoid facing certain harsh realities. It’s been a year for being confronted with those, both individually and collectively. Many of us are feeling pretty dispirited, exhausted, lacking in optimism for the future.
 
So, what to do?
 
Having an astrological perspective is a great help, at least in being able to stand back and realise that we very clever 21st century folk are not immune to the turbulence which has followed the unfolding of the human story throughout history. The planetary cycles are telling us quite clearly, as I outlined in my recent article on Astrodienst, that we are at a time of extraordinary, epochal change.
 
 
For the old order to die, and the new one to emerge, we need to go through a form of collective death and rebirth.
 
 
How can we help this along, and in our own small way contribute to a more positive world in the future?
 
Personally, I find it helpful always to return to Jung‘s view: if there’s something wrong with the world, with society, with nation or with family, then there’s something also wrong with ME; so, taking responsibility for who I am and where I’m at, is the first step in changing the world for the better.
 
In other words, start where you are, and do what you can, to bring some light into the dark both at this solstice time of year, and during the year which is fast approaching. As the wise quote says, we need to keep ourselves from becoming too gloomy, and cultivate joy wherever we can.
 
Today, I had a lovely experience of doing just that. I met up with a young friend who has just completed her first term at university. After many very difficult years, she has gradually found a firm place on which to stand in her life: in a mutually supportive relationship, she knows what her future vocation is now, and her studies are focused on some very clear goals. She is fizzing with enthusiasm and excitement, and has done extremely well in her first term’s exams.
 
It made me feel joyful to share her enthusiasm and her optimism for the future. As an older person, being able to support young folk like her is a simple and positive way to keep the rank weed of gloom at bay, and cultivate a positive approach to whatever our future proves to be.
 
So – what’s your recipe for cultivating joy as 2020 approaches? Do share!
 

Winter Solstice 2018 by Anne Whitaker

550 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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As Saturn returns to Pluto in Capricorn: some notes on Saturn Returns…

I’ve had quite a few messages of late, asking me why I haven’t posted here for a few weeks. Well, like almost everyone else to whom I speak, I’ve been feeling the pressure and heaviness of a very challenging year since Saturn began to catch up with Pluto in Capricorn last Spring 2019, coming within three degrees of exact conjunction in April as they met the South Node in Capricorn. Recent weeks have thus been a time for some rest and reflection. 

Saturn...

Saturn…

As I wrote in one of my recent articles exploring various dimensions of this fearsome conjunction:

‘… In essence, Saturn/Pluto lets us off with nothing, either personally or collectively. We are forced into increasingly tight corners, whilst the pressure is ramped up on us to face and deal with the present consequences of past decisions, some of which might not be of our direct making. The environmental crisis which has become so vivid this year with the Nodal Axis joining the dance of Saturn/Pluto throughout 2019, is a case in point…’(i)

I am currently writing a reflective piece on what we should try to learn from a not very much discussed topic, ie the end or balsamic phase of planetary cycles, which I hope to post here soon. So – watch this space!

Prompting me to write today have been several conversations I’ve had, not all of them directly in person, with people coming up to experiencing their Saturn Returns at this time: both the first at age 29/30,  and the 59/60 second Saturn Return.

Since the 1981/2 Saturn/Pluto conjunction cycle ends, with the new one beginning, on 12 January 2020 with the two meeting at 23 degrees of Capricorn along with the Sun, Mercury – and Jupiter not far behind – those folks at the end of their twenties and fifties are facing a profoundly defining transition during their Saturn Returns since theirs involve Saturn/Pluto as well as the other planets.

Every completing of a Saturn 29/30 year cycle is  a time of being invited, in essence, to separate out as best we can from who we are not, in order to become more fully who it is we actually are meant to be.

The Second Saturn Return carries additional gravitas, because it represents a challenge to sum up what the whole Saturn cycle since age 29/30 has been about. From the Third Return on, if we live that long, coming to terms with life’s approaching ending is the biggest challenge any of us will face.

So – I decided I’d share the reflective work I have done on the Saturn Returns, to give those of my readers, younger and older, some food for thought and hopefully support in facing a challenging life stage coming up as this year ends and 2020 begins. The most recent version, published in The Mountain Astrologer magazine, is at the end of this post.

For the record, and to cheer up anyone who is feeling dismal about all this Saturn/Pluto stuff and impending Saturn Returns, I was born with several personal planets conjunct an exact Saturn/Pluto conjunction, and have been through two Saturn Returns which triggered my natal Saturn/Pluto combination.

I’m still here, still standing, still productive, not too displeased with how my life has turned out. So my writing is born not out of theory but out of surviving some very tough challenges – both of my own making and through things over which the only control I had was over the attitudes I decided to adopt…

Buddhist wisdom considers dealing with adversity as the process of “Forging the Diamond Soul”. I found meditating on this a great support in some very hard times, both past and recently.

I do hope you enjoy this article and find it helpful in getting the best out of your upcoming Saturn Returns:

The Saturn Cycles by Anne Whitaker

Endnote:

(i) Posted on Astrodienst 17.9.19… Some Notes on Cycles in a Time of Crisis

650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

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