Tag Archives: ‘The Mountain Astrologer’

That toad, writing: still here after all these years….

Well, it’s clear from a number of emails and a few comments received, that “Why must that toad, writing, squat on my life?– part one –  hit the spot with a number of fellow writers! My favourite story for luring the reluctant writer to the toad-dominated desk was the one about the luscious bacon sandwich, all crispy with lashings of butter on extremely tasty sourdough bread, made the night before and left, wrapped in foil, sitting on the laptop as an irresistible morning bribe. Try it!

( yes, maybe there is a vegetarian option.Just haven’t come up with it yet….)  

My Writing Cave

My Writing Cave

photo: Anne Whitaker

Now, as I was saying….

For the first seven years of self-employment, my writing skills were channelled and honed some more. I wrote case notes for my counselling and astrology client files, confidential reports for GPs and psychiatrists, and endless handouts for my assertiveness training courses and astrology classes. Students were presented in every class with flurries of A4 sheets in a rainbow of colours. Goodness only knows what they did with them all.

“ You should be an English teacher, or a writer, Anne,” said a student one day.“ This astrology lark obviously doesn’t fulfill your literary side!”

“ Thanks for a very helpful and illuminating suggestion,” was my sarcastic reply.

By the early nineties, the writer in me must have decided that hiding her light under a bushel of other professional pursuits was no longer sufficient. In 1992 I had my first submission for many years accepted and published by a feisty new Scottish feminist magazine called Harpies and Quines ( their name briefly got them into a fight with Harpers & Queens!)

Between 1992 and 2001 I had some forty pieces of journalism, articles and essays published in a wide range of magazines, journals and newspapers from The Mountain Astrologer(USA) to Scotland’s award winning newspaper The Sunday Herald. I was the agony aunt in their “Mindworks”  supplement during the summer of 1999.

Then, at the end of 2001 I keeled over completely following a prolonged family crisis which triggered a menopause from hell. My sabbatical was mandatory; for months I could barely get out of bed. Life was a matter of surviving not merely from one day to the next but from hour to hour, racked as I was by acute anxiety, flushes, palpitations, chronic insomnia and exhaustion – all brought on by burnout and a severe hormone imbalance.

Did this shut the writer up? Not a bit of it. For the first six months, as a central plank in my sanity-saving strategy, I kept a daily ‘Gratitude Journal’. No matter how bad the day had been, each night I wrote down six things for which I was grateful, no matter how small.

For nearly two years I kept an imagery journal, to record the astonishing guiding imagery which arose spontaneously without any conscious intention or effort on my part. I still keep a brief daily diary and a weekly perspective journal.

Nine months after collapsing, I felt able to stagger into my office one or two afternoons a week. The very slow completion of my first book over the next year gave me a creative focus, which was a huge help in the protracted process of recovery. The book is titillatingly titled “Jupiter meets Uranus: from erotic bathing to star gazing– but is in fact a research study of the individual and collective manifestations of the 1997 Jupiter Uranus planetary conjunction, set in its mythological and historical context. It was published by the American Federation of Astrologers in April 2009.

I had a variety of articles on various topics published during 2001-7, and spent much of 2007 completing the first draft of Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness: a sceptic’s take on paranormal experience”, a memoir and rational analysis of thirty years’ intermittent (and not very welcome) paranormal experiences. Then came the setting up of this blog, which to my great amazement has now been going for over five years.

I serialised Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness on the blog from 2o10-12. It was so well received and commented on that I decided to publish it as a downloadable pdf. Note: available now!

And then, last year, under the spare bed in my husband’s study gathering dust, I found the manuscript of a children’s poetry book I had written thirty five years ago which was beautifully illustrated by an artist friend, Albert Ennemoser. Then, publishers loved it but said “Sorry, it would be too expensive to publish”. So we forgot about it and got on with life.

Now, thanks to the web – and digital printing –Rumbold Raven’s Magic Menagerie” , eighteen short poems featuring an eccentric, colourful assortment of animal characters: Dorelia the extinct Dodo, Feeble Fred the dozy frog, delightfully dreamy Salome Seahorse, and wellyboot-wearing Tiger Tigbaloo to name but a few, is now published.

Its first well-received incarnation is in pdf form, available from this blog. Hopefully, the print version will be out very, very soon, courtesy of BookViral. I am really looking forward to that! And so is granddaughter Lola, the inspiration for the book’s resurrection, to whom the book is dedicated.

And what next? Well, I have a few ideas bubbling away. The toad is croaking seductively in my left ear, even as I write…..I don’t think he will ever go away…..would I want him to? What do you think?

900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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This ground is holy: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 3

2. The Nodes and the numinous

In allowing some images to rise which might help me pull the the threads of the  thesis together, the one which most persistently presented itself was that ghostly picture of a man’s head and shoulders which must be the world’s most famous photographic negative – the one which appeared when the photograph taken of the marks on the shroud of Turin was developed.

For many people throughout the world, this is a sacred image of the crucified body of Christ, and a central symbol representing the Christian era. Regardless of one’s religious stance, it is not hard to see how this single awe-inspiring one-dimensional image conveys the symbolic essence of  what Christianity means.

It functions as a kind of spiritual hologram; in itself it is a one-dimensional holographic plate.(ii) But when the light of faith is shone on it, a three dimensional picture – physical, emotional, and spiritual, of  what Christianity means, arises for the observer.

Turin Shroud

Turin Shroud

http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/File:Shroud-of-turin.jpg

In contemplating the outcome of the research into the lives of both Mary Shelley and Marc, the idea of the natal Nodal pattern representing a symbolic  holographic plate has taken shape.

The true turning points  in life seem to leap into three dimensions – emotional, physical, spiritual – from the holographic plate on which the basic pattern of the person’s destiny is etched. That pattern is most appropriately carried in the Nodal structure. It holds images of  the light  of the quest for meaning through the Sun; reflection and containment of that light through the Moon; and grounding in Life’s unfolding process through their orbits’ particular relationship with the Earth’s plane.

In every synastry in Mary Shelley’s case; in every key event  in both Mary’s and Marc’s  lives, running backwards and forwards in time and in the symbolism of all the birth charts, one can see, shimmering through the really critical turning points,  the ghostly, but quite distinct holographic plate of both Mary’s and Marc’s natal Nodal patterns.

The four Nodal Moments, though sketchier because of their being only one section cut through each subjects’ unfolding life pattern, nevertheless also carry within them the basic shape of the natal Nodal blueprint. Robin Heath’s comment is apposite:(iii)

“……….astrology appears more and more to behave like a hologram. You can perform almost any technique with the data, turn the chart inside out or slice it up, and still the symbolic pictures remain.”

Perhaps that  powerful spiritual image of the sacred Shroud arose for me because in reflecting on the meaning of what I had seen at the core of all the different ‘takes’ on the Nodes at work in a range of people’s lives, I felt myself to be in the presence of the numinous, the sacred.

I find it impossible to describe adequately my feelings when I realised that  in Mary Shelley and Marc’s lives, with each synastry and every major event and turning point,  the natal Nodes and their attendant patterns had been painted, not faintly or casually, but in bold primary colours that could not be missed. I had a powerful sense of being in the presence of something ‘Other’ , something which was not circumscribed by the mortality of one individual in one lifetime.

The resonances over long periods of time which were so evident in linking Mary Shelley’s Nodal pattern with the contemporary controversy over how far we humans should overstep our limits in altering the very building blocks of life, focused by the appearance of Dolly the Sheep – and the links I found with my own horoscope, hers, and the time I had chosen to write about her – really struck me.(iv)

I did not expect my research into ‘The Moon’s Nodes in Action’ to present me with such a strong  suggestion that we all have our destiny, that certain potent times in life present events and turning points which are initiations into  the furtherance of that destiny – or that outwith our lives there may be  some intelligent ‘Other’ observing and/or guiding  that  movement. But  that is the feeling which persists in me as a result of this work.

I have always reacted with a degree of impatience to the theorising, usually with little empirical evidence to support it, which takes place about the Nodes – now I’m rather more respectful! But it feels good to have done a fairly substantial piece of practical exploratory work demonstrating the theory in action.

As the Indian astrologers have been telling us for centuries, the Moon’s Nodes really do seem to be connected to the workings of Fate in the shaping of personal destiny.

Nodal Axis

Nodal Axis

References and Notes

(i) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, Vol 12, p 55

(ii) a hologram is “an image produced on photographic film in such a way that under suitable illumination a three-dimensional representation of an object is seen”. Oxford Paperback Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 4th Edition, 1994

(iii) The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 78, April/May 1998, Letters p 11

TO BE CONTINUED

Previous Posts in this series:

The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One

Major and minor chords: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 2

and next….

“In my end is my beginning….” The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 4


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

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An autumnal treat from ‘The Mountain Astrologer’ magazine

A real treat awaited me on my return from holiday today. In my office mail was the first of  six free issues of “The Mountain Astrologer” – recognised as the world’s leading astrology magazine – and a free CD of  The Mountain Astrologer’s “Editor’s Choice” : 43 previously out-of-print articles from TMA in the 1990s, now available on CD. What had I done to deserve this largesse? My 1997 article on “The Saturn Cycles” had been included in the pick.

And what a treat it is! The blurb on the CD tells us that the articles are written by ….” Rob Hand, Dana Gerhardt, Bruce Scofield, Donna Cunningham, Bill Herbst, Jessica Murray….and other leading writers”….

Having had a very quick skim through the articles list, and an appetite-whetting dip into some of them, the great strength of this collection is immediately evident. It demonstrates that the astrological paradigm can usefully illuminate the whole range and depth of human experience, way beyond the shallow scope of the Sun Sign columns.

The Mountain Astrologer : Oct/Nov 2010

The Mountain Astrologer : Oct/Nov 2010

www.mountainastrologer.com

Article titles reveal this range, from Michael Thurman’s brilliant Big Picture exploration of  overlaps between “Astrology and the New Physics” , through Bill Herbst’s careful and constructive tackling of  the not uncontentious combination of “Astrology and Psychotherapy”, right down to what happens (or should happen!) in “The Astrological Consultation”– seen through the lens of the long experience, expertise and professionalism of Jane Ridder-Patrick.

The history of astrology is also explored, as is symbolism and synchronicity, creativity, questions of fate and free will, Vedic astrology, traditional methods, different astrological techniques, interviews with influential astrologers – even astrological gardening. In short, this is a collection which no serious astrologer can afford to be without.

Importantly, many of the articles will also hold value and interest for the open-minded general reader.

At a practical level, the CD works in an entirely easy manner: I stuck it in my Macbook, and off it went without a hitch. Contributors are listed in alphabetical order of first names, which pleased this “Anne” no end! And the final treat in an unmissable collection is the front page of the very first issue : for December 1987/January 1988, featuring ” Astrology explained” by Tem Tarriktar  – still with us, both of you, after all these years!

To order this wonderful collection, go to www.mountainastrologer.com (using the back issue order form and typing in “I want the CD”  instead of back issue numbers.)

Introductory prices through December 31, 2010 : $19 for current TMA subscribers, and $26 for non-subscribers.

The Mountain Astrologer : Oct/Nov 2010

The Mountain Astrologer : Oct/Nov 2010

450 words copyright Anne Whitaker/The Mountain Astrologer Oct/Nov 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