Tag Archives: New Year

The Pisces New Moon: a time for contemplation, not action…

Every year, the time from the New Moon in Pisces to the New Moon in Aries can be seen as the zodiacal year’s 12th House phase, its Balsamic phase: Moondark of the entire annual zodiacal cycle.

I was born at the very end of Moondark, with the Moon only three degrees behind the Sun, and both those Lights plus three other planets in the twelfth house of my horoscope. So – twelfth house/Balsamic/Moondark phases of any month, year or indeed planetary cycle whether progressed or by transit affect me very deeply and interest me profoundly.

I have learned over decades to live with those complex stages reasonably productively, so I hope that my musings in this post during the approaching Moondark of the whole year of 2020/21 will  provide productive food for thought and appropriate contemplation!

Moondark describes the end of any cycle – the 12th house phase – whether we are contemplating the monthly Sun/Moon one or the epoch-defining 500 year long Neptune/Pluto cycle. It is the time of withdrawal and dissolution of energy – think of wintertime, the stripped trees, the cold, barren earth – a time of dark power in which the old order dies at a number of different levels, so that fertile energy can emerge from the womb of the night.

It occurred to me some years ago that this ancient astronomical pattern of the yearly phases of the Sun/Moon relationship and its attendant meaning in the yearly cycle had been taken up and overlaid – as with so many of the old pagan yearly traditions – by Christianity. Easter and Christ’s Resurrection could be roughly mapped onto the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere around the 20th of March each year, followed by the Aries New Moon and the beginning of Spring.

In Christianity, the forty days preceding Easter when Christ retreated into the wilderness to wrestle with various temptations, to fast and to pray, is known as Lent: a time of watching, waiting, self-denial, contemplation and prayer.

The March/April period each year is also observed at various times by other religious traditions including Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism. The  ancient longing, waiting for the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere and with it the renewal of Spring has deep roots: to a time when our ancestors’ whole existence was predicated closely upon the path of the Sun and the Sun/Moon relationship.

Thus, despite all the sophisticated technological trappings of 21st Century living, my feeling based on observation of my own, my clients’ and students’ lives over several decades is that at a deep psychological level these ancient patterns still affect us whether we are consciously aware of them or not.

That wonderfully poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt puts it beautifully:

“…Balsamic begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun…Our physical energy is necessarily as low as our psychic energy is high. We’re at a threshold, ending one cycle while anticipating a new one round the corner. We might want to get into motion, but our bodies are tired. Our clarity and focus wane, like the Balsamic Moon herself, rising thinner and fainter each morning until she eventually disappears altogether, lost in the Sun’s glare. This is the Dark Moon.

Much of the time we won’t know whether we’re finishing up or leaning toward the future, whether we’re being truly psychic or simply dreaming – which is why this is a better period for introspection than for action. Without the dormancy of winter, spring’s (or the New Moon’s) seeds cannot mature…”(i)

So – this is the Moondark phase of the whole of 2020/21 about to begin with the Pisces New Moon on Saturday 13th March. And –  right now is the Moondark phase of the whole month from the New Moon in Aquarius on 11 February 2021.  I feel pretty amazed that I was able to get out of bed today, never mind write a blog post! as Dana Gerhardt wisely says:

‘…this is a better period for introspection than for action…’

So – it might be productive for us to spend some time just now and over the upcoming Pisces New Moon period in reflecting on the ending phases of those major cycles which we all share: the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, the 18-19 year cycle of the Moon’s Nodes, the 27-year cycle of the progressed Moon, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn, and the 50 year cycle of Chiron.

What were you doing in the last year or so – the Moondark period –   of each of those cycles? What had changed by the time the new cycle had begun to take shape after 1-2 years? Depending on your age, you may by now be able to look back through eg three or four or more cycles of Jupiter, or eg two cycles of Saturn? What themes can you detect which have unfolded through these cycles and repeats? I have really enjoyed working in this way over many years with my clients, students and mentorees – and myself. There is much understanding and learning to be gained from such reflection.

There is already plenty of commentary of varying quality across the Web regarding the nature of this upcoming Pisces New Moon, and what we might expect it to bring. I’ll be sharing (on this blog’s Facebook Page) one or two of what I think are the best of those writings as the Pisces New Moon waxes.

At a personal level, we will need to ‘go with the flow’, disruptive though it may well be, as much as we can. It’s a good time for letting things hang loose, not making any definite plans and expecting if we do, that things may very well not go smoothly.

At a collective level, what strikes me most powerfully as this zodiacal year ends is how weary we all are now of the lockdowns and restrictions necessitated since last March 2020 by attempts with varying degrees of success to control the Covid pandemic sweeping the world. There is increasing hope, as Spring gathers pace, that we will gain some freedom at last as the pace of vaccination speeds up, and the rates of infection gradually diminish.

So – let’s hope that we can all keep our heads above turbulent waters, and learn a bit more from whatever experiences come our way, as the month unfolds prior to the Aries New Moon on 12th April, the true beginning of the astrological New Year…

Endnotes:

(i) from Dana’s Moonwatching series on Astrodienst: https://www.astro.com/info/in_dg_balsamic_e.htm

1100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2021

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

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

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Winter Solstice: an evocative poem

Tonight we will  flick drops of malt whisky onto our fully lit and decorated tree on the night of the Winter Solstice. Midwinter magic has returned!We do this every year – and every year I remind family members present for the ritual that this tree has a very ancient pedigree. Looking for a poem which captures both the feeling and the history, I found this one to share with you, wherever you are this night:

Ancient Akkadians honouring their Tree of Life

Ancient Akkadians honouring their Tree of Life

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Susan Cooper 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Advent Quote: “This being human” by Rumi

I thought it would be appropriate to offer a reflective piece of poetry as this especially tempestuous year ends: we need all the wisdom we can receive, especially in relation to the dark thoughts, the shame and the malice from which no person is immune – could we but take responsibility for those shadow qualities in ourselves as individuals and nations, refraining from projecting them onto others, the world would probably be less fractured than it is….

“This being human” is by far the most popular and most often read of all the quotes I have posted on my blog in the last few years. Here it is once more. It holds so much wisdom.

” This being human “

The poet Rumi

The poet Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all
even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honourably,
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

from the Persian poet Rumi

(1207-1273)

An astrologer cranks up her brain cell for 2013….

After a very long sabbatical spent resting, reading and writing, I am happy to have returned to working as a consultant astrologer and teacher since 1st May 2012. I have done a number of interviews over the years. 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….and boy, at the start of 2013, do I need all the brain-galvanising help I can get….

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Anne Whitaker

Anne Whitaker

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….!)

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?


The two astrologers who have most inspired and educated me have been Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey, with both of whom I was fortunate to study – unofficially from the mid-1980s and formally between 1995 and 1998. As reference books for my interest in mundane astrology, my three favourites are: The outer planets and their Cycles by Liz Greene,  Anima Mundi – the astrology of the individual and the collective by Charles Harvey, and Mundane Astrology by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey.

My copy of Stephen Arroyo’sAstrology, Karma and Transformation , that wonderful in-depth companion on the ‘stormy journey of the soul’ is now so well-thumbed that it is starting to fall to bits – and when I feel like some outrageous, light-hearted, funny, but deadly accurate astrological analysis I turn to Debbi Kempton-Smith’s Secrets from a stargazer’s notebook.

However, in keeping with my re-engagement with work as an astrologer and teacher, I am now moving into re-framing my relationship with astrology in keeping with the ” new paradigm…. emerging in Western civilisation, led by transpersonal psychology, chaos and general evolution theories, and the human potential movement…. ” in the words of Armand Diaz, a fine writer and author of Integral Astrology which I am currently reviewing. I have also greatly enjoyed reading Bernadette Brady’s book Astrology a place in chaos – which also re-contextualises astrology for the contemporary world. And – have been given The Archetypal Cosmos by Keiron Le Grice for Christmas and am really looking forward to reading it!

(permission to re-publish this interview was given by The Know It All Astrologer)

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Let’s talk some sense about Mayan Calendar Prophecies….

This post from last Spring 2012 seems much more relevant  NOW as Winter Solstice 2012 hysteria begins to build….what do you folks out there think of it all?

“…. Have you heard about millenarianism? It is at the root of the current hype about what dire events are supposed to happen at this year’s Winter Solstice, according to the latest versions of Mayan calendar prophecy.

To quote respected historian and astrologer, Dr. Nicholas Campion, from “The Great Year (1994, 331):

“….Millenarianism has been a political force in Europe for almost two thousand years….Its flames have been fanned by social and economic dislocation, but its militant power has always derived from an ideology that preaches that destruction is necessary before the world can be reborn….”

There have been bouts of millenarianism for a very long time, despite which we are still here. The most recent one occurred at the Millenium –

Anyone remember The Millenium Bug which was going to reap dire havoc worldwide? I seem to recall a Hong Kong taxi driver’s meter going a bit wonky after midnight, but that was about it.

And here we are, as the world goes through one of its periodic bouts of more turmoil than usual, at it again.

Mayan Calendar

Mayan Calendar

crystalinks.com

It is only March and I am already getting rather fed up of being asked whether I think the world is going to come to an end at the Winter Solstice. My answer is usually that I doubt that very much. But then no-one knows anything for sure, not even Richard Dawkins……

This morning, having a trawl around the Net, I found this very sensible, very erudite, very detailed and very LONG article by astrological historian and Mesoamerican Astrology researcher Bruce Schofield, PhD.

His trenchant comment is that 21st December 2012 ” is most likely going to just be another Friday full of last minute Christmas shopping….”

To read the full article and become fully informed for your future discussions with your local Prophets of Doom, click below:

“Fear-Driven Doomsday Rant Has Badly Misinformed the Public”.

(many thanks to Mary Plumb and this week’s Mountain Astrology Blog for including a link to this article) ….” ( March 13 2012 ) 

UPDATE 13.12.2012:  Mary Plumb has her own thoughtful reflections on the Mayan Calendar issue in this week’s Mountain Astrology Blog

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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New Year Quote: “This being human” by Rumi

I thought it would be appropriate to offer a reflective piece of poetry as the New Year begins : we need all the wisdom we can receive, especially in relation to the dark thoughts, the shame and the malice from which no person is immune – could we but take responsibility for those shadow qualities in ourselves as individuals and nations, refraining from projecting them onto others, the world would probably be less fractured than it is….

” This being human “

 

The poet Rumi

The poet Rumi

 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all
even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honourably,
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

from the Persian poet Rumi

(1207-1273)

A Festive Kiss – with a twist!

I captured this arresting, quirky Festive image in my home city of Glasgow, Scotland, whilst strolling along by the River 
Kelvin through the tunnel under Queen Margaret Drive bridge. Snapped with my  mobile phone camera which takes great pictures, it  affirmed the famous (at times infamous!) glaswegian sense of humour. Think Billy Connolly….Who else but a Weegie would have taken the time and trouble to suspend a large clump of mistletoe just above the heads of potential passing kissers?

Festive Kiss with a Twist!

Festive Kiss with a Twist!

photo: Anne Whitaker  14.12.2011

It cheered me up immensely in the midst of a difficult week. I offer it out in the hope that in the midst of this highly-charged time, when both the joys and the griefs of life come into sharp focus, it will give someone out there the laugh they need just at this moment.

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

River Kelvin Dec 2010

River Kelvin Dec 2010

200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

The year 2011 begins……with Dylan Thomas and ancient Akkadians !

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……

Today we took our Christmas Tree down. This day is always ‘throat-slitting day’ in the calendar of our New Year. We rarely wait for Epiphany to carry out this doleful task. After New Year’s day is over, the richly decorated, multi-coloured glowing beauty of our tree ceases to bring us comfort and magic in the heart of winter, and stands 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.

Here I stand, in the bare, empty, dusted, wiped, hoovered space left behind. What comfort is to be found in this bleak moment? My husband has the right idea.He is off to the pub with my brother – the third tree-dismemberer.

I stand, and stand, remembering the magic, remembering how we flicked some malt whisky on the fully lit and decorated tree on the night of the Winter Solstice. We do this every year too – and every year I remind my  family members present for this ritual that  this tree has a very ancient pedigree. Consider the following quote, from :     http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_tree.htm

“……The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the ancient Middle Eastern practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them. Of course, these were not really Christmas trees, because Jesus was not born until centuries later, and the use of Christmas trees was not introduced for many centuries after his birth. Apparently, in Jeremiah’s time the “heathen” would cut down trees, carve or decorate them in the form of a god or goddess, and overlay it with precious metals……”

 

 

The need to bring comfort and 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. 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 that the life force is still with us – just gathering its strength in the dormancy of winter.

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500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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