Victor Olliver edits the UK’s Astrological Journal: I’ve had a column there – “Not the Astrology Column” since 2015, and Victor also edited my recent collection of 60 published essays, articles and columns ‘Postcards to the Future’. I recently read a piece of his shared on social media, reflecting on the links between sea, faith and his church connections (i), and was so struck by the similarities with a piece on a similar Neptunian theme I’d written some years previously (ii) that I sent it to him.
Photo : Anne Whitaker
Here are brief quotes from Victor’s piece, titled ‘The sea, the sea’:
From a young age I was drawn to symbols and spirituality, and have passed through many different religions, including Spiritualism. During Anglican church services one hears the phrase “the mystery of faith” and I like this a lot…
…And I have always obsessed about sea waves – how each is unique and dramatic. I mean to read Iris Murdoch’s novel The Sea, the Sea one day. The sea is “forever restarting,” as the poet Paul Valéry put it, and this idea makes me feel optimistic. I don’t know whether God speaks to me, but the sea does. It’s a language of the senses…
Here is a brief quote from my piece, titled ‘Sea as Church’:
The mind-calming, meditative facets of sea, and centuries-old church ritual, can lull us into peace, calming the heart and uplifting the spirit. Both sea and Church in their differing ways can restore a sense of the balance and interweaving of matter and spirit – “spirit is a lighter form of matter, matter is a denser form of spirit” – and provide a reminder that the small, limited, mundane world which we inhabit is set to the compass of eternity.
airborne virus upended our way of life in 2020. Major
cultural, political and environmental turbulence is
set to continue, radically altering the way we live on
(from P.S. Windows to the Future, the final essay in “Postcards to the Future” p 365)
As readers who have been following my blog in recent times can see, I have been continuing my Mercurial Musings (along with many other astrologers!), as our world situation becomes more turbulent and challenging with every month that passes: Pluto’s 2023/4 transition from Capricorn to Aquarius –which he enters on 23 March 2023 for the first time since the 1770s – is a major symbolic significator for the new world order slowly being born. No doubt I’ll be publishing a sequel to “Postcards…” before too long, at the rate I’m going! My major astrological interest these days is undoubtedly in the larger planetary cycles, which I have written about extensively in “Postcards…”, which brings 60 of my essays, articles and columns from 1995 to 2021 together. You can view the whole list HERE.
I’m writing this post – partly – for the time-honoured reason of tapping into the Festive Season market and offering my book – which has been wonderfully well reviewed, I’m happy to say! – as an ideal gift: as Juliet Sharman-Burke, psychotherapist, astrologer, tarot specialist, author and Administrator for The Centre for Psychological Astrology, said in her October 2021 review:
“Postcards to the Future” is the perfect book for the present time. Today so many people feel fragmented, too busy to concentrate on anything for long, overwhelmed and exhausted with the amount of information coming at them from the internet, the media and social network platforms and cannot face embarking a long complicated book which has to be read chapter by chapter to make any sense. “Postcards to the Future” offers a range of incredibly stimulating and wise bite-sized essays, articles, interviews and blogs covering all things astrological which can be dipped into by beginners and knowledgeable astrologers alike. There is literally something for everyone in Anne’s “ Mercurial Musings”.
Credit for the above poster: Dawn Durrant
However, the other reason is to say a big Thank You to those of you who so generously reviewed, sold and bought “Postcards…” during this year just passing. I also want to extend thanks and welcome to the many new subscribers to my blog since the wonderful Michael Wright thoroughly re-habbed and streamlined it this autumn. About time too, after ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’s 15 years on the Net!
So – despite the harsh times our world is going through at so many levels at present, I hope you can find some happiness and inspiration both during this Festive Season and the year to come. And – I’d love it if you bought my book, recommended it, and if possible shared this post to spread the word. I’m already putting my next book together: a compendium of writings and research into The Moon’s Nodes in Action including my latest mini-study which appeared onAstrodienst last month. So – if you want to be kept up -to-date, folks, do sign up !!.
One of the delights – and mild horrors – of writing a regular column to a deadline is that you never know from whence arriveth inspiration (feeling a trifle mediaeval this afternoon, forsooth…) – or if it will arrive at all: always the worst case scenario hovering as the deadline looms.
However, inspiration arrived in response to another deadline, two days before I was due to appear on Christina Rodenbeck’s popular The Oxford Astrologer’s regular Members’ Sunday slot on 12th September 2021, to discuss and promote my new book of essays, columns, articles and research
In addition to discussing the book’s content, Christina suggested we reflect on … ‘…the broad sweep of astrology in your time writing about it…’ Hmmm, I thought. Big topic.
The starting place
But it got me going…to hunt out the first thing I’d ever written – as far as I can remember – on the topic of astrology. And I found it:AA Summer School Report 1-5 June 1987…
‘…Titled ON BEING AND BECOMING AN ASTROLOGER, this year’s Summer School offered a varied range of experience from inner personal contemplation to consideration of the likely General Election result…’
This piece was re-published in my column in Journal as part of the 60 year celebrations for the AA in 2018. It made me smile to read what I had written in that 1987 report, rather tentatively, about computers and astrology. As I wrote in 2018:
‘…Few of us on that course had the slightest clue that astrologers, like everyone else, were merely tapping on a door which would shortly swing open to reveal an entirely new landscape of global interconnectedness which – for both good and ill – has already drawn in much of the population of planet Earth…’
One very personal memory strikes me as clearly illustrating that early entry into the entirely new landscape described in the above quote, which has revolutionised the world of astrology along with every other facet of our lives ever since.
It was around the mid to late1980s. I was sitting at our kitchen table in Glasgow chatting over morning coffee to our guest, USA astrologer Tad Mann, who had come up from London to talk to the Glasgow Astrology Group of which I was a committee member at that time. Suddenly Tad produced from the inside pocket of his jacket an object which looked like an elongated pocket calculator. It was, in fact, an early astrology calculator, into which he tapped my date, place and time of birth, and pressed a couple of buttons. I watched, fascinated.
Things got even more interesting. From another pocket he produced a small, square grey gadget which he proceeded to plug into the side of the calculator. Setting them both on the table, Tad then pressed another couple of buttons. The small square grey gadget was in fact a mini printer. A piece of paper looking exactly like a till receipt soon emerged – complete with all my horoscope data: Asc, MC, planets, Nodes and aspects. I was entranced. ‘I want one of these!!’ Not long afterwards, the (rather pricey) set duly arrived from the company in the USA which Tad had recommended.
Shortly after that, I was to be found sitting happily on a stall at a local Alternative Health event, doing 15 minute mini readings for clients from those very pieces of paper. ‘How on earth can you give me an accurate summary of my character from that till receipt thingie?’ I remember one client asking. ‘It’s the shape of things to come!’ I cheerfully replied, not realising just how true that comment was to prove.
From typewriting to computing
So – the broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about it has taken me from sitting bashing out notes and reports from hand-drawn horoscopes on my old Brother manual typewriter, Tippex to hand, all the way to using highly sophisticated computer programmes which will, quite simply, do everything we need to do as astrologers. From instant push-a-button birth charts to all varieties of prognosticatory options both technical and interpretive, anyone from the very green amateur to the sophisticated professional can have any kind of software they wish, dependent on their finances and predilections. (I still lament the recent demise of the wonderful Io software which I had used since acquiring my first Mac computer in 1995).
The arrival of sophisticated computer technology has been a wonderful gift, also, to all writers – including astro-writers like myself. Apart from personal journals and diaries, which I still prefer to handwrite in aesthetically pleasing, arty books, I haven’t handwritten anything of a short or extended nature, for years.
Another revolution, too, has recently begun, as the larger planetary cycles have graphically shown in recent years. Amongst other astro-writers, I have had much commentary published on the implications of the transition from the 1803-2020 Earth Era to the newAir Era into which we shifted on the Winter Solstice of 2020. On that very day, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction’s arrival at 0 Aquarius announced the formative 20 year cycle’s settling into the Air element for the next 200 years or so. As we all know, that huge shift announced its presence through an air-borne virus triggering a global pandemic which has upended life on Planet Earth in just about every way possible since 2020.
Taking to the Airwaves : new approaches emerging
Astrology has taken to the air in a really big way. Platforms like zoom have enabled astro-education, astro-groups, astro-readings, and all kinds of astro-chat: wonderfully connective of members of our community to one another. Those and other social media platforms have enabled fatuous, divisive, misleading, and damaging as well as helpful, supportive and enlightening dialogue. It is, as someone observed ‘ …the Wild West out there…’
The broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about, practising and teaching our great subject has also seen the ebb and flow of dominant fashions, and the taking up of varying positions, within our world-wide community. When I started out, psychological astrology was clearly on the ascendant as the revival of astrology during the Sixties and Seventies ( but begun much earlier by the work of eg Dane Rudhyar) moved us away from the doom-laden fatalism of earlier times to the notion that astrology did not describe a world where humans were pinned to the board of Fate like butterflies.
We did in fact, said psychological astrology, have some negotiating room within symbolic energies which could and did express themselves differently depending on the level of conscious awareness individuals brought to their lives.
In recent years we have had the rise and increasing popularity of evolutionary astrology, as well as the revival of traditional astrology which has been reclaiming and refreshing approaches going back many centuries – recasting those perspectives for contemporary practitioners and audiences. There has also increasingly been much more liaison between practitioners and students in both East and West, and a welcome sharing of approaches and perspectives. All these changes have been made possible by the computer revolution which has totally changed the face of our world in every way.
I was asked about the broad sweep – this column has been a very broad, brief sweep indeed, from one person’s perspective only. One could write a whole book on the topic. Someone is probably doing so even as I write!
In conclusion: has widely available Astrology made us better human beings?
I feel as excited as anyone else by all the creative and diverse changes which have arisen. Younger generations of astrologers and astrology students, refusing to be hemmed in by the increasingly strident orthodoxy of scientific reductionism, are embracing the symbolic perspectives offered by astrology in a big way these days. However, I’m going to end this column, not in my usual upbeat way, but on a rather sombre note.
When I first started studying astrology I was awestruck by the insights into oneself that astrological knowledge could provide. Given this wonderfully enlightening gift, I naively thought that astrologers must surely be more enlightened and evolved people than the general population: more magnanimous, less critical of one another, more tolerant.
Well, I found out pretty quickly that they they aren’t. I come from a long background in adult education, social work and psychiatric work, as well as private practice therapy and counselling. I’ve also known many writers in my rather varied vocational life. So my comments are based on quite a wide range of sampling.
Astrologers are just as kind, compassionate, well-informed and magnanimous as other occupational groups. They are also just as bitchy, backbiting, judgemental, dishonest and intolerant as everybody else. In general terms – since I am fortunate to know and have known some wonderful astrologers who are also brilliant, compassionate human beings – I haven’t seen any evidence over the last forty years that convinces me otherwise.
We all have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do to fashion ourselves into better humans than we currently appear to be. Our present world is riven with all kinds of ugly, dangerous divisions. Those divisions are graphically described in the prevailing planetary patterns: unfortunately, our astrological community is not immune. Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and bring more fairness, compassion and tolerance into the ways we treat one another within our community. We have a planet to save. We could start by being kinder and more supportive to one another.
What are YOUR thoughts?
i) ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’ is available locally at Opal Moon, Glasgow G20, Watkins Books and The Astrology Shop in London, The Wessex Astrologer – and everywhere on Amazon, including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
I blame that bout of tendonitis in around 2015.(i) I had been running no less than three blogs ( yes, mad, I agree…) since launching myself on the Web in 2008, had had one print book and four e-books published, when it struck. The only cure, which took quite a while, was to severely lay off writing, working mainly through a dictation app. NOT recommended if you wish to remain moderately sane, by the way…
I am left handed, which did not help the problem afflicting my left arm and wrist. In the end, I had to make a decision – a hard one, since by then I’d begun the research for book number 5. Either proceed to carpal tunnel syndrome, enduring the rest of my life with it and related arm and wrist unpleasantnesses – or confine myself largely to short pieces from then on. So I chose the latter. This mostly took the form of weekly pieces for only one blog at a time, writing columns (at one point I had three, deadlines falling in the same two weeks every couple of months!) and continuing to send out longer essays and articles to a wide range of magazines and journals – something I’d been doing for around twenty years already.
The result, half a Jupiter cycle later? I have actually arrived at book numero 5 anyway, albeit a very different one from originally envisaged: contents sixty published essays, columns and articles of mercurial variety. (btw I have a third house Jupiter square everything in the twelfth house, so this planet has been just a tad influential). Not only does this accidentally arrived at book have a title ie ‘Postcards to the Future’ and a subtitle ie ‘mercurial musings 1995-2021’ but it has also generated a small publishing company ie Writing from the Twelfth House Publications, and brought together a really experienced, talented production team, headed up by one V Olliver as editor.
And boy, has he been editing to within an inch of my sanity these last few weeks…but I jest… Compared to my last venture into having a print book published ie ‘Jupiter Meets Uranus’ by Arizona-based American Federation of Astrologers in 2009, it has been a breeze. Although I got on very well with the AFA editor, ease of technological transmission between Scotland and Arizona was much less flowing then than it is now. And I didn’t know her at all when the process began. I was just about on my knees, not to mention cross-eyed, by the time that edit was completed.
This time, the esteemed Victor has been editing my work, mainly through this column, for the last five years. We know each other’s literary weirdnesses. Not that I have any, of course…so book 5 edit has actually been a pleasure (well, mostly…)
It’s an interesting business, writing short pieces to deadlines. Here’s a flavour, extracted from one of my columns for the much-missed Dell Horoscope magazine, which you will find in ‘Postcards to the Future’ :
‘…Anyone who has ever written a regular column will know that there are times when inspiration is – not to put too fine a point on it – notable by its absence. At other times, so many ideas are flying around that catching one by the tail to pin it down is, to say the least, tricky. And – you never know, as the last deadline is met and you can now relax for a few weeks – which set of conditions is going to prevail the next time.
So, Reader, there I was, new deadline appearing over the horizon, and…nada. Nix. No–thing. At all. Braincell dry as an old chewed-up bone. In this situation there are generally two options: blind panic – or blind faith. I have six fiery planets. This is often a curse, let me tell you, but in the matter of column deadlines, it is a blessing. So, armed with nothing but blind faith, I headed for the office…‘(ii)
In the end, you simply have to have confidence and faith that your topic will appear from SOMEWHERE…in the above example, it appeared via a random phone call on the bus journey to my office – on the very day of the latest deadline. In the case of longer, more in depth subjects, the process can be rather different. As I put it in a recent AA Journal column: ‘…The idea usually lands in my mind either days or weeks before the deadline. If it refuses to go away and bother someone else, I know it’s mine to tackle…’
My approach is simple. The third time the idea drops into my mind and refuses to go away, I give in and start work. The last essay in ‘Postcards’ is titled Waning and Waxing Crescents: Windows to the Future and was published in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of TMA. The idea refusing to go away was that of linking the horoscope of Mary Shelley, born in 1797 during the waning crescent phase of the 200 year traverse of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions through the Fire element, with that of Greta Thunberg, born in 2003 during the waning crescent phase of the 200 year traverse of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions through the Earth element. What emerged and grew from that idea drove me hard for some weeks – but the end result was truly fascinating to me, and hopefully to my readers.
The subtitle of ‘Postcards’ ie “mercurial musings 1995-2021” offers clues both to the author’s horoscope – Mercury Ruler: conjunct, square, semi-square and sextile just about everything! – and the book’s subject matter. The hardest part for me of the whole editorial process was choosing the sixty pieces which were eventually included. (Let’s face it, Victor has by far done most of the other work, since I told him I’d rather pour hot melted butter into my left ear in the dark than have anything to do with anything technical…)
The range is indeed mercurial: from topics which deserve serious treatment ie ‘What is my job as an astrologer?’ , through a whole long section on planetary cycles, my current preoccupation, all the way to the quirky, ie ‘My Mary Shelley obsession: It has never gone away’ featuring unique synastry between a famous human (Mary) and a dead sheep (Dolly). Then there is a whole section titled ‘ Interviews: Featuring the Bacon Sandwich Motivational Technique, Plus Other Arcane Delights’. And lots more endless mercurial variety.
As I write this column, we are almost there…it’s now over to Ros, our meticulously Virgoan book designer, and Cat, hard at work on what will be a brilliant cover. Well, it’s all Victor’s fault, really, apart from the tendonitis. He is largely responsible for luring me out from behind that twelfth house sofa…
(i) ALSO: this is a collection of sixty selected essays etc going back to 1995. My students and more than one astro-colleague began suggesting that it was time for me to go back through my large stack of varied writings and put a collection together…yes, in 2018, the very year progressed Mercury, sitting stationary on top of my restless third house Jupiter, turned retrograde. Pretty apt, eh what?!
(ii) from ‘Fate, Uranus – and the astrologers’ degree…’.
Is it Covid, or is it me? Or you? I am finding, these days, that Time seems to drag interminably on the one hand, and whizz by at warp speed on the other. Coming round slowly as usual over my morning cuppa (not a morning person, me…) I was jolted awake by realising that it’s almost Midsummer. How did that happen? It seemed like it was the Spring Equinox about five minutes ago. Much has happened/not happened since then…depends on what level of lockdown you’ve been enduring where you are, I guess!
So, I thought I’d revisit the post I wrote for the UK’s Astrological Journal at the time of the Spring Equinox 2021: taking stock, as it were, of where we were then, and where we are now, as Midsummer approaches. Your thoughts, as ever, are most welcome!
Normally, I don’t have too much bother coming up with a column topic. The idea usually lands in my mind either days or weeks before the deadline. If it refuses to go away and bother someone else, I know it’s mine to tackle. Either that, or final deadline looming has a miraculously stimulating effect on my inert capacity for creative cogitation.
Not this time.
I have been in what can best be described as ‘zombie slug’ mode, as the latest covid lockdown has deprived all of us of most activity involving direct social contact with our fellow human beings. I share the apprehension of many worldwide who have been shocked at the full frontal assault on democracy provoked by Trump in the dying embers of his less than successful presidency. Tomorrow, 20th January 2021, is Inauguration Day in the USA.
What shape is 2021 going to take? The astrology of the new Air Era which began on 2020’s Winter Solstice has produced much commentary from me and fellow astrologers across the globe. I feel dispirited at the thought of coming up with anything relevant to say in my current mood.
However, dragging myself out into the dank, cold, grubby murk of a city morning for the usual walk, I found the cheery defiance of new season’s snowdrops sprouting merrily in the local park more inspiring than ever before. Their simple yet powerful reminder that Life goes on despite the antics of humans, cheered me up.
‘I know!” I thought. “I’m going to have a look at the 2021 Spring Equinox horoscope – and not allow myself to be intimidated by knowing that knowledgeable and erudite commentaries from experienced mundane astrologers are even now being penned the length and breadth of lands various…’. ( yes, I know no-one pens anything very much any more…it’s just a figure of speech)
After three days’ procrastination, a much cheerier mood prevails as I begin perusing this year’s Spring Equinox chart. The USA now has a presidential President in Joe Biden; despite the pall of covid hanging over us all, he set the tone for an inspiring Inauguration.
And the women – wow!
First off, we now have the first black/South Asian female Vice Ppresident: two firsts rolled into the formidable Kamala Harris. Next up, the accomplished Dr Jill Biden as FLOTUS. Then Lady Gaga’s knockout rendition of the USA’s national anthem. And the magnificent poem performed superbly by 22 year old Amanda Gorman.
Also: in the roll-call of Biden appointments, this from CNN on Inauguration day:
“At least six major news networks have assigned women to lead White House coverage of the Biden administration, raising the profile of female journalists in an institution long dominated by men”(i)
But more on the women shortly…
This Spring Equinox horoscope certainly holds some cheer for us: Jupiter is closely conjunct the Aquarian MC, trine Gemini rising, as he moves away from Saturn. Both Saturn from the 9th house and Jupiter from the 10th are trine a 12th house Moon/North Node/Mars combination in Gemini. This suggests some cautious optimism and focused energy arising behind the scenes in our world-wide community, with plenty new ideas coming slowly to the fore – hopefully as the covid infection and death rates slowly fall with the gradual rise and impact of mass vaccination programmes.
That Jupiter on an Aquarian MC does suggest that rich male benefactors with a social conscience might divert some of their squillions toward the common good – eg helping to get the world vaccinated. Come on, Besos and Musk. Step up!! ( ps 8.6.21: They haven’t as yet…what a surprise.)
Meanwhile, we are in for a whole year of Saturn square Uranus, which first kicked off from March to July 2020. This year, their squares are exact at the following points: February17th (7 deg Aquarius/Taurus) + June 14th (13 deg Aquarius/Taurus) + Dec 24th (11deg Aquarius/Taurus). Much has already been said, and will be repeated as 2021 unfolds, concerning the intractable and potentially violent taking up of intransigent, polarised positions politically and culturally from which we have suffered so much in the year just gone.
However, as I reflected on the many variations on the battle between the old and new order arising already from this alarming square, my eye fell on the Venus/Neptune conjunction, sitting right next to the equinoctal Aries Sun.
I realised that its 24 deg Pisces midpoint fell on the Saturn/Uranus midpoint. Suddenly – honestly, I’m not making this up! – a vivid image came to me: Gustave Moreau’s 1866 painting of ‘Venus Rising from the Sea’. I’ve always preferred this version of the mythical birth of Venus (from the severed genitals of mythical sky god Uranus castrated by his mythical offspring Saturn and cast into the briny, supposedly off the coast of Cyprus …) to Sandro Botticelli’s much more demure Venus, painted sometime in the 1480s, arriving onshore draped prettily within a seashell. Moreau’s Venus, as can be seen from the accompanying image, is much more authoritative, tougher- looking in her beauty – pretty formidable, in fact.
(No – I could not resist checking my battered copy of Michelson’s wonderful Tables of Planetary Phenomena to see what was going on in 1866. Yes – in July and August that year, there were significant Saturn/Uranus aspects: with Saturn at 6 deg Scorpio waxing trine Uranus at 6 deg Cancer + Saturn at 7 deg Scorpio waxing trine Uranus at 7 deg Cancer. Some co-incidence, eh?!)
Now – back to the formidable, authoritative women who are very much part of our current world picture.
In 2019, we had Greta Thunberg coming to the fore with the South Node conjunct Saturn/Pluto in the Spring, taking ineffectual male politicians to task in the face of a building world-wide climate crisis, and winding up as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. She succeeded in turning vague anxieties about the planet into a worldwide movement calling for global change.
My Jan/Feb 2021 NTAC column concerned the provocative ‘silver blob’ commemorative statue to Mary Wollestonecraft, arguably the world’s first publicly influential feminist via her famous 1792 tract ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ and mother of the prescient Mary Shelley. Shelley warned us – via ‘Frankenstein’ published in 1818 – of the consequences of science being allowed to run unchecked by either compassion or ethics.
That statue, unveiled on 10th November 2020, succeeded in raising the ire of women across a wide spectrum – in the same week that Kamala Harrismade history by becoming Joe Biden’s Vice President. The horoscope of the statue’s launch – which includes the four key female asteroids Ceres, Juno, Pallas, and Vesta – shows strong, combative female energy being very much to the fore, reflecting in microcosm what is currently going on across the world. Female leaders from Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon to New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Germany’s Angela Merkelare generally making a better job of leading their countries through the covid crisis than their male counterparts.
I was powerfully struck by the arrival of Moreau’s formidable Venus in my mind’s eye as I contemplated the Spring Equinox’s Venus/Neptune in Pisces in relation to that intractable-looking Saturn/Uranus square. It strongly suggested this to me: if the angry and dangerous stances of opposing camps are to be slowly dissolved and gradually transformed into more constructive, co-operative positions as this (yet another!) crisis year for the world unfolds, it is likely to be the energies of formidable, authoritative, powerful, compassionate women which play a significant part in enabling such a transformation…
Sometime last summer 2020 I was chatting with DL Gordon, Chair of Aquarius Rising, the West of Scotland Astrological Association which I founded in August 2001 with a group of my then students. ‘How about doing something for us next year?’ she asked. It has been a running gag for some years now amongst my former and current students (I have either 5 or 6 twelfth house planets, depending on house system) that my preference is to hide behind the twelfth house sofa, sending my astro-musings out in written form rather than appearing in person.
However, the very recent momentous shift into what will be a two hundred year Air era seems to have given me a prod to get out there and declaim in person. ‘Ok!’ I said. ‘How about a Q n A session – say next May 2021?’ That seemed sufficiently distant for me not to have to think about it for a good while. ‘You’re on!’ she said.
So – here we are. It’s May 2021, and I’m doing a Q n A for Aquarius Rising – looking at the wider issues in astrology rather than folks’ actual charts – on Tuesday 25th May at 7.30. (See details below) To set the tone, here is DL’s question, which raises all sorts of interesting issues:
If there’s a particularly difficult theme in our charts, do you think this is an indication that the Universe wants us to pay particular attention and work hard on that area of our life or is it the Universal equivalent of the parental refrain ‘don’t touch that, it’s too burny!’
I think I’ll kick things off by addressing this one. My plan is not to prepare anything, but just to respond to what both DL and Tina (both students of the Mercury Internet School of Psychological Astrology run by John Green, for which I do some student mentoring ) select from questions already submitted, or from the session’s chat box. As you will see from DL’s promotional blurb below, there will also be a mystery guest joining us from about 7.45 pm.
Now – about synchronicity. The key task of this super busy week has been checking the second edit of my next book ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’, due to be published in autumn 2021 – also the 20th anniversary of the founding of Aquarius Rising! My esteemed Editor, Victor Olliver who edits the Astrological Association’s Journal, does not mince his words. ‘Anne’, he said a couple of days ago, ‘you have a new book to publicise. Never mind this twelfth house stuff. Get your ass out there and do some PR!’
So – do come along to our Q n A on 25th May. And – feel free to ask me any questions you like about my new book!
And now: over to you, DL:
‘…This month, we’re delighted to have persuaded our founder, Anne Whitaker, to venture out of the Twelfth House to host an Astrology Q&A session for Aquarius Rising. This will be suitable for all levels and will be dealing with general Astrology questions rather than looking at individual charts. Anne will also be bringing along a mystery guest with a particular interest in the Asteroids! I’m expecting this to be popular so please submit your questions in advance and as soon as possible to avoid disappointment…’
“Seems you can’t outsmart Mother Nature…” Mark Hyman (i)
Mars has just moved into Cancer – a good time to entertain you with a small but telling local tale which spans one recent two-year Mars cycle. Natal Mars in Cancer – I know, I have one of those! – doesn’t get the best press. But boy, are we tenacious and persistent when we are deeply angered. So – this is an excellent Mars in Cancer story as far as I am concerned, although the managers of our local Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park would almost certainly disagree.
I have had the good fortune to live right beside Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park for many years. A long, wide, sloping path takes you down into the park, then levels out to follow the banks of the river Kelvin for a couple of meandering miles, eventually leading up onto Kelvin Way, Glasgow’s world famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Kelvin Hall, and Glasgow University. I have lost count of how many times I’ve done that walk in all weathers – usually wet, this being Glasgow of which I speak.
The right hand side of the path opposite the river is rich in vegetation – the usual untidy seasonally varying greenery and self-planting tree seedlings so beloved of Nature left to herself (clue here to what’s coming…). Locals of all ages frequent the path: couples, individual walkers, small children, parents, cyclists, runners, dogs. A favourite landmark of mine for all the years of walking this stretch has been two small, modest springs of iron-rich water, a few feet apart, arising from the soil close to the path. These springs have been leaving red deposits in the earth for as long as I’ve noticed them. I really like them – and have only just now realised that, perchance, having Mars in Cancer means like responding to like…
The springs only occasionally flowed slightly over the path; one needed merely to sidestep them. I don’t think any of the locals walking there regularly would have described this as a nuisance. However, the Powers That Be took it into their heads to have other ideas: very possibly when Mars was last in Cancer.
Thus began a concerted series of slowly escalating attempts to block the very modest occasional tricklings of iron spring overflow onto our riverside path. First of all, there was the digging of a long ditch along a thirty-foot stretch of the path, just below where the springs arose. This was slowly filled in with loose stone chippings by several workmen, in between checking Facebook etc on their mobile phones. For a while, this seemed to have been successful. No overflow.
However, having begun to take a somewhat displeased interest in this process – could the money in materials, wages and time not have been better spent funding rent for premises for a local youth club, for example? – I began to notice that the soil all along the length of the ditch was growing soggy. This didn’t bode very well for the health of the local vegetation, up to their knees now (metaphorically speaking) in iron-infused spring water.
A few months later, I noticed that the iron springs had soaked their way along the stone chippings. The overflow was starting up again. Only there was more of it this time. Cue more time, labour, Facebook-checking, expenditure. An exit pipe was duly installed below the path from beneath the offending springs’ location, discharging by now an increased volume of spring water into the river Kelvin opposite. For some time, success. No overflow onto the path.
However, this temporary bureaucratic respite didn’t work for long either. The soggy soil got soggier and longer in area, and we noticed that the red deposits at the outlets from the two springs had markedly grown. Hmmmm, I mused to myself, becoming increasingly interested in this escalating war. “I think those springs are getting angry!” My companion, like me not a great friend of formal henbrained authority, agreed.
The next round – as can be seen by the accompanying photo – consisted of even more labour, more Facebook checking with maybe a smattering of Instagram this time, and the creation of a low wooden fence the whole length of the unsuccessful ditch and the equally unsuccessful stone chippings. That might well have funded a part-time park keeper to empty the bins more frequently. Just a thought….
After a few months of this, you could now see the results. To my delighted astrologer’s eye, the iron springs got especially pissed off as Mars flowed through Cancer, liberally staining the offending wooden fence with iron deposits, depositing a big splat of watery iron beside it, and flowing liberally all the way across the path.
A few days later, I encountered two men, the younger wearing a red jumper ( you couldn’t make this stuff up!) gathering what turned out to be iron water bacterial samples for his PhD research. The other guy was his supervisor. I regaled them with the story of how those wonderful little iron springs had gradually risen up and stuck it to the Powers That Be. Then – as you would – I informed them that in symbolic terms the planet Mars rules iron, anger and the colour red. ‘Wow, put that in your PhD!’ quoth the supervisor to his student. And off I went on my way, punching the air in a victory salute on behalf of those wonderfully Martian springs.
In the very small and the very large scale – as we are currently finding out – Nature will always win in the end. We would do well to remember this, now, right across the globe.
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.
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…