Tag Archives: ‘The Astrological Journal’

Mercury Retro front line: status report…

Yes, well, much though I have learned over many years to use the three Mercury Retrograde periods per year to re-vise, re-visit, re-draft, re-vitalise (well, maybe not totally …) re-cover (eg  from previous Mercury Retrogrades) and any other re- you can think of, nevertheless I can never quite get over that mild shudder of not entirely excited anticipation when I see another one sidling up over the mercurial horizon.

18 June 2020 is day 1 of Mercury retrograding from 14 Cancer back to 5 Cancer. He then turns direct on that degree on 12 July 2020 but does not catch up with himself at 14 Cancer until 26th July 2020.

So – all of us with a strong Mercury signature in our birth horoscopes: eg Mercury ruling any of the four Angles of the horoscope but especially the Ascendant, conjunct any planets or Nodes, and with any planets, Angles or Nodes between around 10-20 degrees of Aries/Cancer/Libra/Capricorn, are going to feel the effects.

Pay especial attention to the houses involved. eg if you have the Sun at around 10-20 Cancer in the seventh house, do not expect straightforward clarity in your dealings with significant others during this time…( to put it mildly…)

I am a most Mercurial person, with Mercury ruling my Virgo Ascendant, conjunct Saturn, Pluto, Venus and the Moon, exactly semi -square Uranus, exactly sextile Neptune, and widely square Jupiter in the third house. So – I have had many adventures of a Mercury Retro nature.

If you’d like to be informed and entertained by a wander through my Mercury Retro article archive, just click HERE.

So – you will be wondering by now – how was the morning of DAY ONE for me? Reader, I will tell you. Try not to laugh too hard.

This tale concerns a passport. My passport. The ten-year one which expired during the last Mercury Retrograde in February 2020. I should have known there was going to be trouble…

The build -up to the Tale of Day One was a saga in itself. It  involved my hating the photo update for my new about-to-be-applied-for passport so much that I tore it up in disgust. (I know, passport photos are BAD, but I did not wish to have to look at this especially hideous one for the next ten years) This was about two days before UK lockdown, so – no more photo shops. Oh dear, I thought. A more sensible person might have concluded that in the absence of any possibility for travelling abroad, it would make sense to put the passport idea on hold.

Not me.

I loathe bureaucracy in any form – with Mercury exactly semi-square Uranus natally, explanation is hardly needed. And I have large handwriting. So my first effort to fill in the ghastly application form failed on two counts: one, my signature touched the edge of the sacred signature box. Two, I needed a countersignature and a new passport photo.

I found a delightful photographer and together (but socially distanced, of course…) we found an outdoor blank wall against which a second, less hideous passport photo was taken. No, I’m not showing it to you.

Then she had the bright idea of adjourning to a delightful secluded little-used local hidden garden. I needed a back cover photo for my “Sixty Shades of Astro-Musing” ( title provisional)  collected essays etc book which I’m aiming to have ready for next Spring 2021. According to my Editor, the delightful but at times stern Victor Olliver ( editor of the UK’s Astrological Journal) , “This is a perfect year for pulling that book together, Anne. So do get your finger out!” …or words to that effect.

We had a brilliant photo shoot despite the quiet space being invaded by six young children and their harassed mothers, desperate to take their kids somewhere they could play outside without getting to close to one another.

So – I now have a lovely back cover photo. All I need now is actually to organise said book…

Anyway, the new form, filled in correctly, duly countersigned by a ‘person of standing’ and a signed photo stating this was indeed moi, took me right up until – you’ve probably guessed it – the day before Mercury went Retrograde.

Having established that transiting Mercury retro would be squaring my second house Neptune, I had already thought “No way am I sending this application in until end July at the earliest”. However, having fortunately re-checked the submission guidance notes ( natal Mercury and Neptune are in exact sextile, so some saving grace here!) the application had to be sent in within a month of the photo being taken. Since the photo’s signature had had to be backdated to be the same day my countersignee had signed the application form, the month was nearly up.

Given that I’d rather never go abroad again, ever, than go through the previous pantomime for a second time, I gritted my teeth. Nothing for it. I had to take the completed passport application form to the UK Post Office’s ‘check and send’ service on the first day of Mercury Retrograde.

So, yesterday morning, I triple-checked everything, even bringing a chequebook in case my bank card fell down a drain on the ten-minute walk to the local Post Office. (Retro Mercury is in a water sign, was my reasoning). I also left the house just before 10am in order to avoid the social distance queues which build up everywhere as the average day wears on.

‘Great! ‘I thought as I strolled in. No queue. Alas – there was a new person behind the perspex screen who had no idea how to do a ‘check and send’ procedure. My heart sank. After much conferring with two equally bemused looking colleagues, she announced that the fellow who knows how to do it would not be in until 12pm. Could I come back then?

So – I’m sure you can guess my thoughts as I cleared off. However, having run into a friend and her delightful little daughter playing bubble-blowing in the nearby Botanic Gardens, followed by a trip to one or two shops for necessary supplies, and a lovely socially distanced chat with my hairdresser who was in fine form as he painted his salon and tried not to laugh at my home haircut, I returned home in a pretty chilled mood to drop off shopping –  there to await High Noon and my return to the Post Office.

Walking down the street at the appointed time towards the said P.O., realisation dawned that  I had left my phone AND  banker’s card on the armchair in which I’d been sitting in our third floor bay window, enjoying a cup of tea in the morning sunshine. Swearing under my breath, I had no option but to return and collect both items.

Yes, reader, there was a queue outside. And a queue inside. However, I spotted the genial chap who had regretfully knocked back my earlier attempt during the last Mercury Retrograde. He recognised me ( I wonder why?!), waving me over to the appropriate counter.

All went wonderfully well until I stuck my current account bank card into the machine to pay the eye-watering sum it now costs to get a passport. I’d been using a different contactless card throughout months of lockdown to avoid using money – but this card could not be used for large payments.

Try as I might, I simply could not remember my current account card’s PIN. Aaaargh! There followed some moments of angst on both sides of the counter, not to mention in the queue now building up behind me. However, the lovely chap serving me eventually saved the day, having initially told me that the payment transaction now having been cancelled I’d have to go home and find my PIN number. He had already written down on the ‘check and send’ form that the payment method was by card.

Having consulted the  nitpicking instructions, though, he discovered that one scoring-out was allowed  in the labyrinthine process of application and said “Do you by any chance have a cheque book with you? I can score this payment notification out and you can write a cheque instead. ” I never thought I’d ever be happy to write a cheque for over one hundred pounds. But I was verging on the ecstatic as I handed it over. “Great,” he said happily, sealing the relevant package and tossing it into his OUT tray. “Since you’re only re-applying rather than ordering a new passport, it should be with you in three weeks or so.”

Just in time for the end of Mercury Retrograde, it would seem…

1450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

 

 

 

 

 

Astrology – beyond the sun signs

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

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

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

11th Century Horoscope

11th Century Horoscope

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

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

Anne W's Horoscope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This wonderful universe

This wonderful universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Winter Solstice Book Review: “The steps of the Sun” by Paul F. Newman

At the Winter Solstice 2009, Paul F. Newman writes:

“The winter solstice, the shortest day, is for us in the northern hemisphere the
Sun’s lowest possible point. Its declination or latitude measurement is as far
south of the celestial equator as it is possible to be. These steps of the Sun
mark out the turning phases of our year and the customs we have attached to them….

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….and Anne Whitaker reviews “Declination in Astrology The steps of the Sunby Paul F. Newman ….

The Steps of the Sun

DECLINATION in Astrology

Declination measures the position of planets North or South of the celestial equator, which is the Earth’s equator projected into space. As Paul F. Newman demonstrates in this broad ranging and informed study, it is a measure which has been used at least since Neolithic times, notably in the most famous solar temple in the world, five thousand year old Stonehenge. Do we astrologers use it today? The answer to that question is probably – not much.

The blurb on the back of the book asserts, however, that declination is “an ancient art of astrology currently undergoing a vital revival” and Paul F. Newman is to be congratulated on presenting the topic in both a practical and inspiring way which should have a number of astrologers checking Norths and Souths in future!

One of the problems with astrological practice is that there are so many techniques and approaches available that the practitioner, intent on earning a living, has to prune this cornucopia to a workable minimum of personal favourites.

As one reads through DECLINATION in Astrology The steps of the Sun”, it becomes clear that declination provides easily accessible tools, which can most definitely enhance the art of analysis.

I have two favourites from the toolbox. The first is Out of Bounds planets – overstepping the declination boundaries set by the Sun, vividly describing ‘awkward squad’ tendencies in those who possess them!! The second is  planets on or near Zero declination, the equatorial point dividing the earth into Northern and Southern hemispheres, and therefore in Newman’s own words “a potent and critical position”.

Readers familiar with Paul F. Newman’s writing will recognise the quirkiness and diversity of the examples from film, poetry, soap opera and science fiction he draws upon from his own wide reading to bring the book’s theory to life. We have “Tarzan of the Apes” rubbing shoulders with that late great astrologer John Addey (out of bounds Mercury); with Liberace (out of bounds Venus, you’d never have guessed!) ; with a famous “Photo of the Beatles”; with Mickey Mouse, the Elephant Man and “The Twilight Zone” to name a very few.

My favourite, as a poetry lover, is Paul’s brilliant and haunting analysis of Coleridge’s “Rime of the ancient mariner”. It is only after the old navigator crosses the equator ( Zero declination) and sails South, that all the strange events following the killing of the albatross unfold…read on, and experience the scary allurement of Neptune’s realm….

Paul F. Newman skilfully weaves astronomical declination theory together with key aspects of mythology connected to the solar journey throughout the four seasons of the year. The artwork is his own: he has produced diagrams which are both clear, and soothing to the brains of spatial dyslexics like myself who have rather a struggle with the astronomical basis of our great art.

This is an accomplished book which deserves to be widely read, contributing as it does to the updating and publicising of a dimension of astrology which until fairly recently has been somewhat neglected.

 

Paul F Newman

Paul F. Newman is an astrologer, astrology teacher, writer and contributor to many journals including ‘The Mountain Astrologer‘ and  ‘The Astrological Journal’, author of “You’re not a person–just a birth chart” and  “DECLINATION  in Astrology The Steps of the Sun”

He can be contacted at pneuma@ukonline.co.uk

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Paul F. Newman 2009

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Introducing first guest writer: Paul F. Newman

 

” THE ODDS AGAINST SCIENCE FICTION.”

The odds might be scarier than the stories

by Paul F. Newman

(This article was first published in The New Writer, No.66, May/June 2004)

‘ “…don’t submit articles about rejections to magazine editors. It’s all been said before and there’s nothing new to add on the subject…” [Suzanne Ruthven, The New Writer Nov/Dec 2003].

This is not an article about rejection. It’s more about getting stuck some place in a zone between light and shadow. “Sf”, as the insiders like to call science fiction, appears to be a thriving genre. And it is. The problem is that just about every life form seems determined to write for it. I thought it only fair to pass on my experience of the current odds (in 2004) for getting a short story published in some of the leading monthly science fiction magazines.

Firstly, to define my credentials, “hard” sf has never been my line; I’m much more of a “soft” man myself. That means, like most of the sentient universe, I’m more interested in the fiction in science fiction that the science in it. There are certainly publications that do veer more towards the hard stuff, like the American Analog for instance, whose writer’s guidelines tell you that they prefer “stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse.”

Well, fair enough. If you’re a rocket scientist I foresee no problems for you there.

The Twilight Zone....

The Twilight Zone....

But if your mind is whirling more in flights of fantasy than in astronautical units you might deduce you were quarking up the wrong tree with Analog and feel more at home with three other of the market leaders: Fantasy & Science Fiction (US), Asimov’s Science Fiction (US) and Interzone (UK).

Over the last 12 months I sent a different story to each of these magazines in turn. These are the results.

Fantasy & Science Fiction politely declined my riveting story of two men taking an excursion into a sideways world within two weeks. (That is, it was declined within two weeks). In a personally signed letter from the Editorial Assistant in New York I was thanked for submitting it, but regretfully informed that it didn’t grab his interest this time. I had no clue as to whether it might have grabbed his interest at a different time or whether it was complete crap at any time. But I was most grateful for the swift reply.

Britain’s Interzone took four months to reject my next effort. A cheeky little tale of a near future when everyone’s higher selves were visible behind them. The setting was a casino, as it would be of course. To be fair, Interzone never led you to suspect that they would be particularly eager to receive your latest masterpiece in the first place. The small-print paragraph headed “submissions” on page 3 of their magazine baldly stated the required word range and little else, except what they would be unable to do: like reply if there was no return postage or accept responsibility for loss or damage to unsolicited material etc. Without a website to its name (what century are we in?) there was none of the cheery encouragement to writers that I found on the sites of the American magazines.

However I would soon learn what I was up against. The closely-printed rejection form enlightened me that Interzone was now receiving about 200 manuscripts a month. You didn’t have to be an Analog reader to figure out that with an average of just 5 stories published each issue – and with favour obviously going to any known writing names in the field – you had about as much chance of entering the Interzone as entering the Twilight Zone, or of having a sherry with H.G.Wells.

Well probably more chance with H.G.Wells. On a good day his Time Machine might be working.

I was left with the distinct impression that Interzone would be happier if all these people would stop sending in manuscripts and take out subscriptions instead.

I had more or less abandoned all hope of ever hearing back from Asimov’s Science Fiction. My powerful drama of four people on a cruise ship being dangerously affected by the invisible gravitational point at the second foci of the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun and activated (naturally) at aphelion, had probably caused it to disappear from the earth plane itself in mutual sympathy. But my impatience was premature. Seven months later the polite rejection arrived.

Not a signed letter this time but a standard though nicely-worded apology that informed me that unfortunately my piece had “failed to rise above the other 849 seen that month”. Yes, 850 manuscripts a month. That was the figure quoted as being received at Asimov’s from which, the stated figures suggested, only one unsolicited piece might fight its way through. Like a determined sperm I suppose. Why were all these blind hordes writing science fiction stories anyway? I reckon ninety per cent of them must be aliens. It’s obviously all a conspiracy.

But in the end I began to feel truly sorry for the science fiction editors on the receiving end of all this. What an existence. The poor devils, red-eyed and exhausted, doomed to plough forever through an ever-replenishing pile of eccentric bilge. How much more could they take? Being cursed by the gods in Ancient Greece was of nothing in comparison.

I pictured one of these skeletal individuals – I’m talking about the editors, not the ancient gods now – muffled against the storm, collapsing homeward on the subway train. With head swimming through doppler shifts and time dilations, eyes lowered to avoid recognition (in case anyone offers them a new story), their gaunt frame belies a spirit still clinging to the slender hope that tomorrow the number of submissions might actually start to decrease.

A suspicious-looking man in black, obviously a government agent disguised as an old-fashioned ticket inspector, stops before them fumbling with something inside his uniform. Is he going to produce a metal clipper or a ray gun? No, instead he extracts a scrappy sheaf of papers with a menacing flourish and asks if there would be any chance of getting his manuscript published. At this point the sky falls in and the editor, crying “Enough!” crouches submissively to the swaying floor, sobbing and crying like a baby pulverised by meteoric infall…

Hey, maybe there’s a story there.

Paul F Newman

Paul F Newman

 

Paul F. Newman is an astrologer, astrology teacher, writer and contributor to many journals including ‘The Mountain Astrologer’ and  ‘The Astrological Journal’, author of “You’re not a person–just a birth chart” and  “Declination in Astrology The Steps of the Sun” He can be contacted at pneuma@ukonline.co.uk

1000 words Copyright Paul F Newman 2009