Category Archives: Astrology

JULY/AUGUST–BREXIT IN THE STARS

Brexit is an amazingly precise enactment of the long-standing square between Saturn and Neptune which first reached perfection on November 26, 2015 and which will make its last exact aspect on September 10th, 2016. In fact, the only other time these two planets have made an exact square during this period was on June 18th, 2016…. five days before Brexit was voted in on June 23rd.

Astrology, which many believe works on the principle of “As Above, So Below” (a discernible synchronicity between planetary movements and earthly life) couldn’t have been more brilliantly illustrated than in this conflict between Saturn–the planet that symbolizes contraction and separateness–and Neptune, which is the planet of merging and union. And with the people of Britain confronting the choice between remaining in the European Union or leaving and becoming a separate entity, the classic fear that union will result in a kind of annihilation has been acted out and is taking its toll on our world.

Most of us can understand the emotions behind the Brits decision even if we don’t like the way the vote went. The fact that hatred of foreigners was part of this decision casts it in an ugly light. But the other side of this is the way in which corporate interests in pursuit of global markets have sought to erase boundaries to their own benefit. In fact, the square–the 90 degree clash between Saturn and Neptune–exposes the dark side of both planetary energies which in this case, shows us both the negative energy of Saturn (hatred/fear) and the destructive side of Neptune (breaking down barriers for the wrong reasons).

Saturn and Neptune can form positive aspects too: the sextile and the trine. And an exact sextile will be formed between them three times during 2019 –a time when hopefully we will find our way to merge in a structure that works for the benefit of all, and that allows humanitarianism to work hand and glove with practical reality. In the meantime, though, we will be witnessing more of the kinds of clashes we’ve been experiencing. It’s both fascinating and disturbing that so many of the Brits who voted to leave are now regretting their decision. Separateness is not in itself a happy state if it throws us out of relation to others.

The next–and last–square between Saturn and Neptune on September 10th is worth noting and watching. And so are our own inner conflicts between letting others in and keeping them away. We’re part of the whole picture. And our own inner reality doubtless effects the great sea of emotion that moves the collective mind.

 

MAY/JUNE: TRANSITS–ENERGY IN MOTION

When I first discovered how to compare the transits (planets in the sky at a given moment) to my own natal planets, the results were one of the reasons Astrology became a lifetime addiction. I found that if, for instance, Saturn was squaring my Venus, my love life went into a skid, or if Saturn was squaring my Sun, my self-confidence went south, I was overlooked professionally and I had to work harder than ever before.

On the other hand, when I had positive aspects involving Jupiter or Venus, everything seemed to proceed wonderfully. Just to clarify: Positive aspects are trines (120 degree relationships) between planets; sextiles (60 degrees)  or conjunctions, which brings the planets closely together in the same signs; Negative aspects are squares (90 degree angles) oppositions (180 degrees apart) or a difficult planet again in conjunction, right next to another. I met my husband when Jupiter conjoined my natal Mars (the symbol of masculinity) and I landed a once in a lifetime dream job when Jupiter trined my Sun and Neptune from a powerful angle of my chart.

Transits are straightforward and easy to clock. They are an example of energy manifesting in all its possible ways, either harmoniously or disharmoniously,  Watching how they work is a constant learning process. I remember one time long ago, when I was just starting to get familiar with astrology, I was mulling over the fact that Mercury in the sky was squaring my birthchart Saturn as I descended the steps of the New York City subway. I got on my train, it sped along for a bit and then halted abruptly in some dark tunnel as I stood squashed up against a crowd of commuters for some 30 minutes.

What is the disharmonious combination of Saturn and Mercury about? Delays, mechanical failures and unpleasant communications. And for some reason, knowing I was experiencing that aspect was a source of comfort to me. Why? I think it comes down to the reassuring awareness that life isn’t entirely random. There is a discernible shape and form to energy that–as far as I’m concerned–can give us more perspective.

A storm that comes out of nowhere and strikes suddenly and violently is more unsettling than one which has been predicted, happens and passes in the period of time anticipated. Knowing the transits can be much like a weather report. This kind of knowledge is helpful but it isn’t always entirely accurate (are weather reports?) and what it can’t predict is how well we will handle those changes life throws our way.

Seeing the transits play out is a wonderful way of observing ourselves and how reactive or proactive we’re capable of being. It can also help us to rise above the changes and stop feeling victimized by difficult experiences, passively reacting to what happens. Or to famed astrologer Dan Rudhyar put it, it’s not events that happen to people but “people” who ” happen to events.”

 

MARCH/APRIL: MARS/CLINTON/SANDERS & TRUMP

I’m sure that many astrologers are carefully studying the current presidential front-runners’ charts, trying to see if they can figure out who will be the winner. In fact, I’ve seen quite a number of analysis of Clinton, Sanders and Trump’s patterns and bold statements along with very hedging ones of their chances. But predictions aside (it’s always a mishmash of conflicting judgments) what are their characters? And isn’t it intriguing that all three have Mars–the planet that rules our drive, survival instinct and life force–in fire signs?

Fire signs are always spirited but each in a different fashion. Aries, for instance– the hero (scout or warrior)–is where Bernie Sanders has his Mars. Being in its own sign, Mars functions very powerfully in Aries and Mars is always about courage, action and forward movement.

Sanders has his Mars very close to his Moon (his time of birth is uncertain, so how close is impossible to tell) and Mars is also very clearly in opposition to Venus which is in Libra. Venus craves harmony and connection while Mars tends to be a pot stirrer and is a loner by nature. This aspect works to temper Sander’s aggressive behavior so that when he comes on strong, he does not want to cause harm. His Mars gives him a burning desire to lead and fulfill the role of hero, while the aspect also gives him an edge of diplomacy which may sometimes work for him and sometimes undermine him.

As for Clinton, she was born with Mars in Sun ruled Leo– the King/Queen (ruler of the solar system). Mars in this sign needs to be in charge and also to be the center of attention. Mars in Leo can be very forceful and effective but because Clinton has her Mars in an exact conjunction to tempestuous Pluto, she is extremely power conscious and can be ruthless. What’s more, Pluto–known as the cosmic transformer of consciousness–drives her to push the limits too hard so that she is forced to end up being humbled by facing her own human limitation. She also has Mars and Pluto close to Saturn which can limit the effectiveness of her aggression and also hold her back.

Curiously, Trump also has Mars in royal Leo and in his chart, it is very strongly placed–within 2 degrees of his ascendant–a position which amplifies its action to the nth degree. His Mars makes him overly aggressive–rushing forward to do battle, attacking first. It also serves to intensify his sense of entitlement: He feels that he is the one who should be in control and dominate others–the undisputed king. This is why he engages in shouting matches and out shouts everyone else. His Mars is even more firmly supported by being in a trine with his Moon and the fiery quality of these aspects suggest that his tendency is to burn too hot.

Archetyically, Clinton and Trump are enacting the roles of King and Queen, while Sanders is fulfilling his role as Hero and Scout. With Mars in fire signs, all three are all passionate and riveting, but the force of their natures manifest very differently due to the placement and aspects brought to bear on their inborn aggressive drive.

No wonder the political climate is so heated right now!

 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY: THE REFUGEE CRISIS IN THE SKY

Astrologically, nothing could more perfectly mirror the conflict between self-interest and compassion that is currently raging around the Syrian refugee crisis than the recently formed square between separative Saturn and empathic Neptune which first went exact on November 26, 2015 and will remain in play for the next year, reforming on June 18th, 2016 and September 10, 2016. (based on GMT).

On the world stage, those public figures who call for a close down of the borders like the “straight talking,” and “down to earth,” Donald Trump are almost cartoon representatives of the Saturnian stance while the altruistic types who advocate succoring the refugees–President Obama and the Pope, for instance– are playing out Neptune’s role in this collective drama. And their behavior is a strikingly classic enactment of our own conflicts between letting others in and keeping them safely distant.

Saturn and Neptune are two planets that are particularly difficult to reconcile and when they clash they pose seemingly insoluble dilemmas. People born with hard aspects between Saturn and Neptune in their charts often live out one or the other of these planetary energies: opting to be closed and cynical (Saturn) or sacrificing themselves to prop others up (Neptune).

Saturn, a stern, practical and testing energy is the outermost “personal planet” which–as Isabel Hickey described it–stands guard at the threshold of the higher consciousness represented by the “outer” planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. And Neptune, ruler of the sea, symbolizes that collective sea of feeling that unities us all and makes us one, flowing and boundless.

Saturn dominated people are riveted to the reality of the material world–the law of the jungle– and they feel threatened by the dissolving and unifying action of Neptune which they make every effort to block and keep out. These two planets can harmonize, though, as they do when they form sextiles or trines. And then, instead of being fearful and contractive, Saturn’s action becomes disciplined and steadying, supporting Neptune’s all-encompassing compassion and enabling it to manifest more effectively and realistically,

Watch these two planetary energies play out over the coming year and think about what they’re really about: the universal push and pull between these differing drives which are being enacted within us and outside in the world.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER: PLUTO’S TRANSITS

When Pluto began creeping up towards a close square to my Sun in late 2010, my whole world began to crumble. First my dissolving marriage crashed in a particularly mortifying way and then I embarked upon what turned out to be the extremely difficult process of disentangling myself from the life I’d created for myself in France–something I’d imagined would be as simple as casting off an old garment, but which instead dragged me through three confusion-filled and grinding years.

I’d foolishly assumed it would be easy to walk away from my moribund relationship, sell my house, pack up my belongings and fly away to my native land. I’d always lived my life that way:  pulling up  stakes when I felt the urge–unfettered and free. But this time, life didn’t cooperate. I was ready to go but nothing fell into place. Instead I found myself taking a  forced detour through limbo land.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the relentlessness of Pluto’s lengthy transit and how painfully humbling this planet’s influence can be. Pluto came within a one degree orb of my Sun (it was proceeded by Saturn conjunct my Sun) in late February 2011, moved into an exact square to my Sun by late January 2012 and continued to move back and forth within that tight square until late September 2013, finally moving slowly and excruciatingly out of orb.

Only then did I reach the point where, although not on the terms I’d hoped for, I was able to leave France and go my way. But the process I went through to get to this point was one I can only describe as pulverizing. During it, I lost all sense that I had any control over events, I had no idea what was happening from one day to the next, was dragged over the coals of my past and forced to face myself in ways that were hard to bear.

Sound like fun? Pluto’s effect is–in my mind–more powerful and devastating than that of any other planet. It forces us to confront our dark side–and the flip, or bright side of this experience is that by making us more aware of our lowliness as well as of our powerlessness it clarifies our relationship to the divine. In this sense, Pluto can represent the classic Job experience. It brings us what appear to be senseless trials and tribulations which test our faith and mettle. It has the power to transform and purify us in a way that nothing else can.

When I look back and acknowledge how much useless egotism I released during that Pluto transit and how I was forced to stew in my own juices  (which is the classic way Pluto performs its alchemy) the whole experience acquires a meaning and value it was impossible to appreciate while it was happening.

Pluto’s transits are long lasting and profoundly challenging. Right now, those born in the time frame that puts their birth suns in Pluto’s path: in the neighborhood of January 7th, April 7th, July 9th and October 10th are in the throes of a transformational process that is bound to radically shift their perspective. But Pluto can form aspects to any one of the planets in our birth charts and knowing about these aspects and what they can involve can not only help us understand our own experience but hopefully to cope with it more gracefully.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

Predictive charts can be a source of inspiration or agony to astrologers, especially when we set them up for ourselves. For myself, I routinely do precessed solar and lunar returns (see *Articles on this site) and they are often very visually apparent, as in those charts that turn up with, for instance, Mars right on the fourth house cusp (my last year’s return)–a clear augury of accidents–or Venus unafflicted on the cusp on the seventh house–a promise of blissful relations with a partner.

The planets can be dramatic and expressive in these kinds of charts–or they may not speak so loudly (a dull period?)  or in a way that lends itself to clear-cut interpretation. The transits are also highly significant whether they are fleeting (involving the closer, more fast moving planets) or long lasting (involving Jupiter, Saturn or the “higher” planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto).

How do we use the information we receive when looking at return charts, transits or progressions, though? Sometimes it can be downright scary–or worrisome and depressing–and I’ve known more than one astrologer who has worked themselves into a state of dread over what they saw coming up in the not too distant future. The problem with interpretation is that we are bound to envision the future through the lens of what we already know. The future existing somewhere “out there” obviously evolves from the now, but stuck in now as we are, we tend to project our current issues, or what we already know on what we see coming up–effectively wearing blinders that we’re not aware we have on.

Are we even capable of looking clearly ahead? So many factors need to be weighed in predictive work and I’ve heard more than one astrologer remark that sometimes one kind of technique works and sometimes another is more accurate even with the same person. If we could only fly above all the intersecting energies that seem to manifest in events then we’d be capable of seeing the whole picture, but being immersed in it instead..down “in” it what we need to remember at all times is that are own anxieties and points of view usually lead us astray.

What’s the solution aside from remaining humble and open minded? That’s really about all we can do… and as I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs..keep on learning and never imagine or think that we have a corner on the truth.

JULY/AUGUST: DIFFERENT STROKES

A few years ago I discovered to my astonishment that my great-great-grandfather who was a New York physician was also a respected astrologer (who didn’t charge for his work). I stumbled across this surprising fact when googling him which brought up an article written in 1882 entitled “Astrology Verified,” by William Q. Judge. My great-great grandfather who was lauded in the article apparently practiced a branch of astrology known as Horary astrology which is based on setting up a chart to answer a specific question–a very specific kind of astrology which I didn’t know much about.

In the article Mr. Judge made this provocative statement: ” In my experience with Horary astrology I have found that some persons have not naturally the proper cast of mind for giving a correct reply to a (Horary) question, which, by another reader of the figure would be justly answered, and, again, that one who will always be correct in Horary questions may be quite unable to do well with a nativity.” (An astrological chart of an individual.)

Intrigued, I began to delve into Horary astrology myself and found immediately that Mr. Judge’s thoughts on this made quite a lot of sense. Horary astrology is fascinating and it’s based on entirely different techniques than natal astrology. I fell in love with it because when used correctly it can be amazingly clear and straightforward. Horary questions work best when they are direct and simple. Will I get the job? The answer is going to be yes or no. There’s no juggling around to come up with an easy to accept response. It is as pragmatic as detective work. It’s also lots of fun.

There are Horary astrologers who are brilliant at this art the most renowned being John Frawley who has written several books on the subject. As to whether Horary astrologers are as adept at natal interpretation, I’ve yet to find out. But there’s no question that these two branches of astrology diverge widely. Sadly,though, the recent popularity of Horary astrology has led to even more divisiveness among astrologers who are notoriously opinionated about their own specialties to begin with. Traditional and Horary astrologers  have  a tendency to sneer at other astrologers and to arrogantly proclaim that their approach puts “modern” natal astrologer to shame because it is so direct and provable–not nuanced in the way that natal astrology can be.

Still, this kind competitiveness and arrogance gets played out in many fields, the human ego being what it is. Personally, I think that what the brilliance of Horary astrology shows us is  that astrology is an endlessly fascinating field that lends itself to many applications. It also constantly challenges its adherents to keep learning and keep their minds wide open if they hope to be any good at it.

JUNE: “AS ABOVE, SO BELOW”

In these modern times, I don’t think that many astrologers–even remotely–believe that the movements of the planets cause anything to happen. What many ascribe to instead is the Hermetic Doctrine, “As above so below,” which tosses the notion of cause and effect out the window and posits instead that there is an intimate connection–or unity–between everything that happens within a particular moment.

With this in mind, studying the patterns of the planets at a given moment–or any isolated pattern–holds the potential to pinpoint the characteristics of that moment down to minute details. Carl Jung described this as “synchronicity” and while it’s an abstract concept it can have a completely concrete application. An astrological chart is a manifestation of this concept and though many astrologers may speak in a way that gives the impression that the planets cause us to possess certain characteristics, that’s really just a by-product of the process of interpretation and not meant literally.

I met an astrologer years ago who confessed to me that he’d lost interest in astrology–and actually stopped doing it–because he made the discovery that it wasn’t based on cause and effect. I really can’t imagine why this disappointed him so much. I think many people–especially those who consider themselves to be “scientific” imagine that astrologers believe that the planets effect us, as if they were shooting their various rays down upon us and manipulating us like puppets. And they despise astrology and those who are involved in it as a result: a complete misunderstanding,

To paraphrase Hellenistic astrologer and author Joseph Crane, astrology has an observable basis in the movement of the planets through the zodiac  but it is an art of interpretation–not a science. It could be better described as a theoretical “system.”  So does the fact that, for instance, the Sun and Mars, the most masculine and aggressive planetary energy will conjoin exactly at 15:57 GMT on the 14th of June suggest that more intensity and adrenaline related activity will be in the air at that time?  Or when Mercury–the “planet of the mind,” forms a disharmonious aspect to Neptune (known as “Nebulous Neptune”) on June 23rd at 18:37 GMT does this indicate that more confusion and mistakes will be occurring?

Some astrologers will think that it does. Most traditional astrologers will adamantly disagree. I believe that it’s always interesting to–as objectively as possible–step back and observe at these times and  draw my own conclusions. Try it.

 

 

MAY: PLUTO’S NAME DAY

Many traditional astrologers don’t even factor Pluto in, scientists have dismissed it as a dwarf planet but from my own observations, this tiny but radiant sphere of ice and rock seems to signify an energy that is frighteningly powerful. I remember how my first astrology teacher, Isabel Hickey, refused to even talk about Pluto during the years I knew her and it was clear that–for some reason–she considered it to be a very dark and disturbing influence.

How do planets names get chosen? Pluto’s name was apparently picked out by an eleven year girl–the daughter of one of the scientists involved in its discovery–and this name was announced to the world on May 1, 1930. Is it an accident that Pluto–which was assigned as the planetary ruler of Scorpio–was the Greek god of the underworld and representative of the tumultuous depths below the surface of the world which can erupt into the light completely changing the surface of the known landscape? Because this is how this planet’s energy seems to show itself when it forms an aspect to or within a natal horoscope.

Pluto was within one and a half degrees of a square to the Sun and Moon during the recent lunar eclipse of April 4th and since eclipses set energetic patterns in motion, the disruptive energy of Pluto is part of the astrological picture for some time to come. I know that in my own life–hours before Pluto turned retrograde and at the same time that my natal Pluto exactly conjoined the nadir (bottom) of my progressed chart on April 16th– my world was rocked to the core by a hideous power struggle, an unnatural death and a transcendent experience that shifted my consciousness.

This was a classic Plutonian manifestation. And there are likely to be many others who have been similarly impacted by this powerful pattern during those periods of exact aspects involving Pluto at 15 degrees of Capricorn (birth dates on or very near January 6th, April 6th, July 8th, October 9th) or any number of planetary hot spots in their natal chart which an astrologer could pinpoint. On a global level as well this energetic pattern is currently dominant (think of Nepal’s horrifying earthquake for instance) and will tend to linger.

In short what Pluto seems to be all about is violent destruction which must then be follow by complete reconstruction. It is known astrologically of the planet of death, rebirth and transformation. And while it doesn’t always show itself in such dramatic ways, it nonetheless seems to shift the parameters of people’s mindsets and their personal landscapes.

APRIL: THE ECLIPSE EFFECT

Some people still seem to view eclipses with alarm and to consider them to exert dangerous influences on events. But are they really harbingers of doom? The ancients feared them because they seemed to have the power to black out the moon or in the case of solar eclipses, to momentarily plunge the world into darkness.

In the earliest astrological texts eclipses really were described as evil portents, usually signifying the death of kings who would be overcome by usurpers (the symbolism here, of course, is obvious). But today the majority of astrologers think of eclipses in quite a different way–as activators of points they set off in individual horoscopes or markers that depict time frames.

Eclipses occur several times a year in pairs. A solar eclipse will generally be followed by a lunar eclipse and if either one falls within 5 degrees of a planet or the cusp of an angle in the horoscope (normally by conjunction, though oppositions are also considered) the effect is said to bring attention and activity to that planetary placement and what it represents. What’s more, these effects are reputed to last several years in the case of solar eclipses (months in the case of lunar eclipses) and the duration is based on the actual  length of the eclipse.

The total lunar eclipse of April 4, 2015 occurs at 14 degrees of Libra and is connected within a degree to the lunar eclipse that occurred on October 8th, 2014 which happened when the Sun was 15 degrees of Libra and the Moon was 15 degrees of Aries. This shows that events on those two different dates are somehow linked and that they would activate the same issues which would come up on the first eclipse and be resolved on the following one.

Prenatal eclipses–those that occurred within six months preceding birth–are also said to pinpoint sensitive points in individual horoscopes that remain active throughout a life time. But these points aren’t particularly negative or anything to get in to a panic about.  In fact the way eclipses are now viewed in astrology makes them an intriguing phenomena for study and for observation rather than frightening events that prompt us to run for cover.