As part of the process of promoting“Jupiter meets Uranus”, I have been doing some interviews. This one was particular fun to do, since Wendy of that excellent site The Know It All Astrologer sent me a list of questions which I was not expecting at all! The unexpected, of course, is useful for jolting one’s remaining brain cell into something approaching dynamic action….
What transit always shows up for you in surprising ways?
They all do, especially the long-lasting ones. The deep challenges that force our growth lurk in the realms of the unconscious, just waiting to hitch a ride on the nearest really tough transit. For example, I didn’t think that ten years of Neptune transits was going to involve an enforced descent into the Underworld for most of that period! However, the good news is that I have now emerged, much improved (unless you ask my husband….!) with enough notes to keep me writing for a further ten years.
What is your funniest transit or retrograde experience?
There are several, not all of which can be aired publicly! The one which comes immediately to mind is the occasion, in March 1985, when Saturn turned retrograde on my 28 Scorpio IC. In the middle of lunch with an old friend who at that time was a bank manager, without warning, I passed out. Just then, a friend of his, who was also a bank manager, was passing by the restaurant window. I came round and insisted on going home – very groggily, with a bank manager holding me up by each arm. Very Saturn in Scorpio, don’t you think?!
Would you rather be ruled by Uranus or Jupiter? Why?
What a question! Both those planets are strong in my horoscope, Uranus in the tenth house leading an eastern bowl shape, with Jupiter in the third closing the bowl, and the two in bi-quintile aspect. My Ascendant is also on the Jupiter/Uranus midpoint. However, if forced to choose I would go for Jupiter, provided the aspects weren’t too difficult. My reasons are probably dictated by the stage I’ve got to in life: that disruptive, eccentric, unpredictable, stubborn individualism characteristic of a Uranus-ruled life feels too tiring to contemplate now!
Jupiter’s boundless energy and optimism, ability to inspire others and be inspired by the more positive dimensions of life, and willingness to be open to a sense of meaningful connectedness to that which is greater than oneself, are especially attractive to me at this point.
What advice would you give to someone learning how to read their own chart?
One, there are dozens of ways of evading personal responsibility – resolve at the outset never to do so by blaming your horoscope or your transits for your difficulties in life.
Two, realise that objectivity is something to be aspired to, which can never be achieved by mere human beings. This being the case, try to recognise that you can be most objective and therefore most helpful by reading the horoscopes of strangers, provided you have appropriate training and supervision. When approaching your own horoscope, or those of your loved ones, you will inevitably colour the planetary picture before you with your own hopes and fears.
Three, the illuminating light which is gradually cast as your understanding of the symbols in your chart grows, will be wonderfully helpful in shedding light on your gifts, pains, motivations and aspirations. But bear in mind that possessing astrological knowledge has a shadow side – for example, I have never known anyone including myself who didn’t look at upcoming transits, especially of Saturn and Pluto, without a certain amount of fear. To help my astrology students with this, I used to point out that 99.9% of the human race from the beginning of time has managed to stagger through life without the aid of astrology! So – enjoy the fascination of deciphering the astrological map of your life. But don’t get too precious about it – and be aware that this wonderful knowledge has a double edge….
What astrology books do you re-read or use the most?
Anne Whitaker has been an astrologer since the 1983 Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius. She also has a long background in adult education, social work, counselling and supervision. Anne holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology where she studied with Liz Greene and Charles Harvey (1995-98 London, UK), an MA degree, and postgraduate diplomas in education and social work. Based in Glasgow in Scotland, she is now focusing on writing, and on running “Writing from the Twelfth House” which has just been included in the prestigious and prolific USA astrology blogger Jude Cowell’sTop 10 Astrology Blogs 2009.
(permission to re-publish this interview, first posted on 18 June 2009, has been given by The Know It All Astrologer)
900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
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….
“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” – Neptune, Uranus and Pluto cross the I.C.
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.
The first was written in July 1970, six months after the start of Neptune transiting the IC. I had no knowledge of astrology then…….
“…….My sister and I decided to take the dog and walk from our house, just outside the town, to a beach very exposed to the sea, well beyond the harbour. It would be a long walk, but it was a beautiful briskly windy sunny day – snatched from the usual bleak incessant rains of a Hebridean July.
We took a curving route through the town, then via an outlying district overlooking the navigation beacon. This landmark had winked its electric eye reassuringly at the mouth of the harbour for as long as I could remember. Approaching the district cemetery, my sister walked on by, but I slowed down, never having passed through its gates. Only men attended funerals in the Outer Hebrides when I was growing up.
“The sun is shining on the dead today!” I called to my sister. “Let’s go and pay our respects.” She wasn’t too keen. “Have you ever visited Granddad and Granny’s grave?” I asked.
“No,” she said. ” I suppose we could do that.”
We pushed open the heavy creaking gate. The graveyard, beautifully tended, sloped gently down to within a few hundred yards of the sea. I realised that I did not know where my father’s parents lay.
” I remember where Daddy said it was,” my sister said. “Follow me. With our English name, it shouldn’t be difficult to find.”
Our paternal grandfather had been posted to the Outer Hebrides before the First World War, meeting our grandmother on his first trip ashore. English gentlemen were a great rarity in these parts; very desirable “catches” to aspiring island girls like Granny, who had by all accounts been a handsome, strong and wilful young woman. He was well and truly caught; apart from a period of war service he remained in the Outer Isles for the rest of his long life.
His death devastated my grandmother. They had been married for fifty two years. I remember sitting with her in her bedroom, she who had always turned herself out so elegantly propped up in bed, an old singlet of my grandfather’s failing to conceal her droopy, withered breasts from my young eyes. Up to then I had never known the desolation of not being able to console another human being – or that old people ever cried. She wept and wailed and moaned, repeating: “I don’t want to live any more. What’s the use, what’s the use now he’s away? “
Live on she did, doggedly, for nine years, lightened only by a late addition to the family. I was fifteen when my brother was born. Granny was eighty two, and half way senile. The child was called Frederick, after Granddad; as the novelty wore off Granny slipped into senility, a querulous fractious husk, and finally just a husk, and a medical miracle, carried off at eighty six with her fourth bout of pneumonia.
I was at university when she died, having become so distant from her by then that I felt nothing but a vague sense of relief ….
“I’ve found it !”
I had fallen behind my sister in my reverie. She was standing about twenty yards away; I hurried to the spot. It was a plain, simple grave. A low railing ran round it. The headstone was in sandstone, with only the facts of their births and deaths etched on it in gold lettering. Noting with satisfaction, which my grandmother would have shared, the absence of ‘fancy versification’, I stood and looked at the grave.
Without any warning, for I had felt quiet and composed, there was a rush and a roar in a deep silent centre of my being; a torrent of desolation and grief swept through me. I wept and wept and wept, quite uncontrolled.
There they were, half my being. Where had it all gone: the passion of their early love; the conception of their children; her sweat and blood and pain as she thrust my father into the world; their quarrels, silences, love, laughter, loneliness and grief; their shared and separate lives? And this was it. On a hot beautiful day with the sea lapping on the shore and the seabirds wheeling and diving, a few bits of cloth and bone under the earth, an iron railing and a stone above.
I was not weeping just for them. Overwhelmed by total awareness of my own mortality and that of all human beings before and after me, I had never felt so stricken, so vulnerable, so alone.” (i)
The second piece, however, written in the autumn of 1971, at the end of the Neptune transit to the IC, whilst Neptune was 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.
When Uranus crossed the South Node/IC in 1980/81, I began to study astrology, thereby fulfilling a prediction made by an astrologer I had casually encountered in a laundrette in Bath in England in the early 1970s. I also met, moved in with and later married my partner – his Scorpio Moon is conjunct my IC and South Node, and he has an Aquarian Sun and Venus. All very appropriate symbolism for the timing of the Uranus IC transit !
His steadfast support, combined with the deep awareness of teleology which many years’ practice of astrology brings, have been vital for my personal and professional growth and development from the time Uranus crossed the IC until now, (ie end 1995-early 1996)as Pluto moves off that point.
When Pluto was still transiting the IC, but from Sagittarius, I applied and was accepted for a major astrological study course. The very day that Pluto was exactly on the South Node and about to cross the IC for the last time saw me beginning the first year of study. I felt a powerful sense of standing on firm inner ground after the turbulence and trauma of the last few years – of being in the right place at the right time, of having done what I could, for now, with my family inheritance – of being ready to move on to the next growth cycle.
Now that the outer planets have crossed the IC and moved into the Western hemisphere of my Horoscope, I feel liberated from much of the pathology of the past, and more able to use directly in the world the undoubted creativity inherited with it. Nor do I need any longer to make bargains with the shadowy figures who emerge when the light of day is dimming….
i & ii : Both extracts have been published both together and separately in several articles in the USA, the UK and Australia, eg in “Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” which appeared in the UK’s Astrological Journal, 1996, and was then reprinted in Considerations magazine (USA) in the same year.
“Of Cerberus and Blackest Midnight Born” is a quote from ‘L’Allegro’ by the English poet John Milton
2500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009/2017
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
Imagine, if you will, a Bushman in the middle of the Kalahari desert conversing with a visiting Tibetan, in their respective languages, regarding the best way to get to Stornoway in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. One would suspect that the route might not become easily evident !
Speaking symbolic language
It’s rather like this for astrologers, whose view is holistic and whose language is symbolic, living in a culture whose prevailing terms for describing the world have been shaped by scientific rationalism for the last two hundred and fifty years. In our collective efforts to try and make sense out of life on earth there is no ONE language which can possibly describe the whole picture. We need the description provided by rational science. We also need the description provided by symbolism. We need all the help we can get.
Star Sign astrology as found in the media is too limited to tell us much about personal life or world affairs. It focuses largely on the position of the sun in the heavens on any given day, equivalent to trying to tell the story of a complex play with the main emphasis on one central character. It can thus never offer much more than entertainment. This is the form of astrology which is vilified by people who don’t know that there is something much more profound hidden behind the “Star Sign” mask.
Astrologers have noted for several millennia that there are meaningful links between the planets’ movements and the rhythms of earthly life. They plot the position of the planets from the same starting point as astronomers and mariners do: using the 360 degree circle of sky from 0 degrees Aries or the Vernal Equinox (see image); this is where the sun’s path or Ecliptic (see image), in its movement into the Northern hemisphere in the spring, crosses the plane of the celestial equator. Astrologers divide the 360 degree circle from 0 degrees Aries into twelve sectors of 30 degrees each, called Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and so on.
This frame of reference against which the planets are located, known as the tropical Zodiac, should not be confused with the constellations which originally gave the signs (or 30 degree sectors) of the Zodiac their names. By drawing up a map of the heavens (known as a Birth Chart or Horoscope) of a particular moment in time in relation to this tropical Zodiac, astrologers can draw a symbolic picture of anything or anyone born at that moment.
Uses of astrology
Thus astrology has many uses : eg in the business world, to help plot and understand market trends and economic cycles; in medicine, to provide clarification of individuals’ predispositions to particular health problems, and most useful modes of intervention; in analysing the inner meaning and outer manifestation of major events in the affairs of nations and the wider world; in choosing favourable moments to begin new enterprises; in the analysis of personal relationships; and in providing individuals with a clearer understanding of who they are, and why they do the things they do.
Each of the planets symbolises a different archetypal force, a shaping principle. As the planets move in their ever-changing weave through space and time, so the shape, meaning and manifestation of the pattern of life shifts from minute to minute, day to day, year to year and epoch to epoch.
Along with many modern astrologers, I have come to think of astrology as another form of physics: basically, it charts, maps and times the shifting dance of the energy patterns of our solar system – then offers grave offence to minds of a limited, conventional cast by ascribing meaning to those patterns ! Most people do not realise, however, that the association of particular meanings with the movements of specific planets has been demonstrated through empirical observation and recording of the heavens for over six thousand years – since the astronomer/priests of ancient Babylon first stood on their watch towers, scanning the stars.
Astrology’s symbolic language tells us that everything is connected, materially and spiritually – we are all part of the One.
The moving picture – Pluto
To illustrate this, let us choose the action of the furthest out planet, Pluto, whose status has been downgraded recently. Try telling astrologers who work with deep collective and individual crises, as the energy of Pluto continues its weave in the planetary tapestry, that Pluto is of little consequence now! Continuing empirical observation of Pluto’s symbolic action does not support this view at all….
The planet Pluto represents raw, primal power, taking its name from the much feared mythical god of the Underworld. It is connected with the processes of death and regeneration which keep the life cycle going at every level.
In Scorpio – plumbing extremes
Pluto was observed against the 30 degree band of sky known as Scorpio from its entry in 1982 until its exit in 1995. Both Scorpio and Pluto are connected to the deepest, darkest and most extreme facets of life: during this time, for example, we had to face the rise of Aids, famine in Africa, and a dredging to the surface of the most taboo issues, especially incest and child abuse. This period also forced us to begin to realise more clearly than ever before that, if we continue to abuse the Earth, we put our collective survival at risk.
In Sagittarius – expansiveness and greed
But things change. In January 1995 Pluto shifted into the 30 degree sector of sky known as Sagittarius. This sector is linked to the planet Jupiter, symbolising the urge to expand – in experience, knowledge, wealth, wisdom, and understanding of what life means. It expresses itself (amongst other related branches) through connections with Higher education, long distance travel, exploration of all kinds at all levels, the law and ethical structures, religious beliefs, the packaging of information to offer a better perspective on a bigger picture, and especially the willingness to gamble and take risks.
In the famous thumbnail description of the money markets being dominated by greed and fear, Sagittarius represents the greed end of that spectrum!
Pluto’s shift into Sagittarius brought us the biggest information packaging and disseminating system ever known to humanity – the Internet. Via stunning images brought back by the Hubble telescope, we have travelled to the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond. Recent advances in science and medicine continue to raise ethical issues on an unprecedented scale, regarding our tampering with the very basis of life itself and what the consequences may be.
The rise and spread of religious fundamentalism has dominated the period, with some devastating consequences most notably 9/11 in the USA. In our own little country the UK, the National Lottery became the focus for our hopes of greater wealth and a better life. The whole period has been characterised by unfettered optimism: from this arose collective and individual fiscal recklessness, with disregard for consequences on an unprecedented scale.
In Capricorn – facing consequences
Pluto traversed Sagittarius from January 1995 until the end of January 2008 when it dipped into Capricorn for a few months, returning to Sagittarius in the middle of June 2008. As I write, with the money markets still in turmoil, Pluto is due to re-enter Capricorn on 28 November 2008, where it will then remain until 2024.
When the outer planets change signs, the energy patterns dominating our collective life also shift. What does this shift mean, in general terms? It means that the times of expansiveness, excessive optimism and risk-taking are now over. A more sober and cautious view of life must prevail as we face the consequences of our behaviour since the mid-Nineties.
Sagittarius is ruled by expansive Jupiter. Capricorn is ruled by stern and cautious Saturn, the planet of consequences, and represents the fear end of the greed/fear spectrum. Thus it didn’t require brilliantly perceptive astrological observation of this approaching shift, to be able to predict a major collective ice bath of realism at all levels. For example, the rumble of the impending train wreck of our collective financial arrangements could be heard during most of 2007. Then in 2008 came the crunch.
The sign of Capricorn, and its ruling planet Saturn, is known for its association with prudence, realism and good judgement at one end of the spectrum – and fear, gloom, pessimism and harshness at the other. You cannot escape the consequences of your actions, is the message that this sign and planet bring.
All the help we can get….!
Pluto is about to traverse Capricorn for a very long time. The planet of purging and regeneration, Pluto’s movement is connected to the death of old forms so that something new and more constructive can arise. Knowing this may offer some insights to help us modify our wasteful and destructive ways for the better. As renowned astrologer Liz Greene observed some time ago in one of her seminars: “ Saturn pushes us to separate out from what we are not – in order to become more fully who we are.”
We human beings urgently need all the help we can get from as many sources as possible to enable us to become more fully who we are: ie one strand, whose presence cannot be allowed to dominate the weave in the web of life. If we approach its wisdom in these turbulent times in an open and thoughtful way, the ancient language of astrology can aid us in developing a perspective appropriate for our times: one grounded in the humility and realism we need in the tough period which lies ahead.
Note : this is an updated and edited version of an article first published in Scotland’s Glasgow “Herald” as “The Cycles of Heaven and Earth” in November 1996. Copyright remains with the author.
1500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
To read more about the shift of Pluto from Sagittarius into Capricorn in 2008, check out StarIQ , a USA based site which publishes quality astrological articles on current affairs( and many other topics of general interest ) which are accessible to non-astrologers seeking to deepen their knowledge of a great subject.