TMA This Week

Six things I love about astrology 

By Anne Whitaker | February 20, 2012

(i)
 “Six thousand years ago, when the human mind was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”
(from The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler)
I love knowing that the rational, mythical, symbolic, and empirical art of astrology has been around for at least six thousand years. Our increasing contemporary awareness of the interconnectedness of all things was well known in antiquity: the ancient maxim “As above, so below” still applies. Astrologers operate on the margins of our fragmenting, reductionist culture. But we represent an unbroken line to a time that, in many ways, was wiser than ours is now. Being a tiny thread in that weave gives me a deep sense of pride, connection, and rootedness.

(ii)
I love being able to look out at the night sky, seeing the beauty of the lunar cycle and the visible planets in their ever changing, ever repeating patterns, knowing that being an astrologer offers one the privilege of perceiving not only astronomy but also symbolic meaning out there. I can still recall the exhilaration I felt on a freezing cold, clear night in January 1986 on a visit to the Outer Hebrides. My brother, a Merchant Navy captain, was able to point out Saturn to me – the first time I had ever seen that venerable planet with the naked eye. Saturn’s meaning was also present that night; we were on our way back from the wake for an old uncle who had just died.

(iii)
I love the fact that I started out as a dismisser of our ancient art and ended up its devoted practitioner. I had set out to confront my embarrassment at the inexplicable fascination I had developed for a subject that I considered to be beneath my intellectual consideration! This is the typical position of ignorance combined with arrogance from which many people dismiss astrology, not realising there is a subject of great depth and power beyond the Sun Signs of astrology’s public face. I embarked on a course of study with the Faculty of Astrological Studies in the early 1980s to prove to myself through study, rather than ignorant dismissal, that there was nothing to astrology. I have kept up an unbroken interest since then for nearly 30 years. If you want to read the strange story of how my astrological career began in a launderette in Bath, England, UK, check out this link!

(iv)
I love how literal astrology can be. Saturn met Neptune in November 1989 and the Berlin Wall came down. There was a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Libra in July 1969 when a huge co-operative effort of unique scientific endeavour put the first human on the Moon. The day Pluto first went into Sagittarius in January 1995, there was a massive earthquake in Japan and the city of Kobe went up in flames. At that same time, John Paul, the best-travelled Pope ever,  preached to an open-air audience of over a million people in Manila in the Philippines. To lower the tone somewhat, I was having lunch with a bank manager friend of mine on March 7, 1985, the day Saturn turned retrograde on my Scorpio IC. For no apparent reason (being sober at the time!), I passed out, just as another bank manager and friend of my friend was passing the restaurant window. They both ended up carting me home between them.

(v)
I love the impossibility of ever getting on top of, or to the end of, one’s astrological studies. I have never applied myself to Chinese or Hindu astrology, not yet feeling I have enough of  a grasp of the Western tradition into which I was born….and you can do hundreds or thousands of horoscope readings, teach hundreds of classes with thousands of students, and someone will STILL come up with a  manifestation of Venus combined with Saturn, or Mercury combined with Neptune, that you have never before come across or thought of.

(vi)
I love astrology for the help it has given me (and countless other people who are willing to look within and try to be honest about themselves) in understanding the quirks and complexities, the gifts and pains, of my personality and life pattern. My studies began as the next step in a lifelong quest to prove that our existence has some meaning, that we are not just butterflies randomly pinned to the board of fate, that we are each here because we have something unique to contribute to the Big Picture. Astrology has provided me with that proof. For that, and to that unbroken line of students and practitioners of our great art stretching right back to those ancient Chaldeans on their watchtowers, I will be forever grateful.

Thank you.

copyright Anne Whitaker 2010

Anne Whitaker lives in Scotland. She obtained her Diploma in Psychological Astrology from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, UK, after studying with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey from 1995-8. She has had many articles in print, including in TMA, over the years, and in 2009 her first book Jupiter Meets Uranus was published by the American Federation of Astrologers. Anne is currently studying for a Master’s degree, and planning to return to her astrological career after a ten-year break – courtesy of a long bout of Neptune oppositions to her six twelfth house planets……

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Mars Retrograde (with Venus in Pisces)

By Mary Plumb | February 6, 2012

The skies have been clear in southern Oregon this last week, and both Venus and Mars have been visible in the sky.

Mars is high all night, and beginning to set in the west as the Sun rises. Venus is now coming to her maximum brightness as an evening star, brilliant in the western sky after sunset.

Mars is close to the Earth and moving at his quickest pace in the retrograde phase as he approaches an opposition to the Sun on March 3rd.

Sometimes I turn on the cable news during the day between work projects to see what everyone else is doing. It’s probably always the case, but this past week all I saw was everyone fighting over everything: most obviously the astounding pettiness of the Republican candidates and massive arrests of Occupiers in California and Washington. Even more troublesome, the terrible increase of violence and repression in Syria, Egypt, Tibet — and Israel and Iran again getting to the brink of making serious threats.

We’re all living with Mars retrograde, so there he was, all over the place: outer turbulence, as in bloodshed, war and troubles of all kind are part of Mars’s hierarchy of meaning.

In the mysterious and multivalent world in which we astrologers dwell, each planet has innumerable guises.  Tem started a thread on Facebook about our experience with Mars retrograde, and there’s been a vigorous and lively conversation. (If you read TMA’s FB page, go to Tem’s January 28 entry; there are 81 comments so far.)

Mars retrograde has been dominating my view very personally these days, which may be more meaningful when I say that my natal Mars is retrograde in Libra and, by progression, it is now at 22° Virgo, still retrograde.

I do, perhaps, have a natural need and propensity to look inside, to go deep, go back and re-examine, again and again. So, I have been catching the iron of Mars these past weeks in different layers of experience.

Turning on the world news is one way to notice Mars. At another basic level, Mars is the men in one’s life. Practically every man in my life, i.e., friends and relatives, past partners and those with whom I am currently close are making an appearance.

(If you have gotten to my age without any hints of incompletion or messiness from your past, maybe you haven’t lived, at least not with the messiness of a retrograde natal Mars in Libra.)

Last week, Mars was directly opposite Venus — she at 22°34’ Pisces and Mars in Virgo. In the tradition of rulership, Venus is exalted in Pisces. I am beginning to write with Venus at 27° Pisces, considered her very degree of exaltation, capable, perhaps, of her very best behavior, insights and qualities. Neptune has just moved into Pisces, providing a long, soft backdrop to all Pisces planets. 

On the day of the opposition between Venus and Mars, I woke from a dream; had an unexpected visit (explained below); and received phone calls and emails from males that I can loosely categorize as having some significance in my masculine/feminine dance.

One striking event involved a gentleman who I had not seen for a few months. He was a close friend who had played a very supportive role in a very stressful time last summer. He dropped by unannounced (which alone puts a Scorpio Ascendant into panic) to tell me about a situation — from a year ago! — that he was very mad at me about. I felt like I had entered a psychic battlefield. I was stunned, but did my best to take the high road and take responsibility for my part in (what seemed to me) a long ago miscommunication. That worked for a few minutes, but then it seemed that my willingness to be vulnerable riled him further and, in my own tribute to Mars, I had a fit and asked (told?) him to leave.   

Talk about Mars retrograde bringing unresolved issues (with anger, with men) from the past. This event was quite literal and personal between him and me but there are other layers too.

Overall, with transiting Mars conjunct progressed Mars (both retrograde), I would say I’ve felt an increased intensity on all levels of experience. One day, I had a near panic level of internal anxiety, along with a few very demanding days of client work.  (Mars is naturally relentless.)

I felt so stressed, I didn’t know what to do … but then, the light goes on: I’ll clean the bathroom! Yay! The stovetop too gets a fine scrubbing before I have settled down. (All homage to Mars in Virgo steering me to take action in something practical.)

Psychologically, Mars retrograde can signify the retrieval of memories of actions left incomplete; we may see patterns long hidden. A clue with a retrograde is to look within. I won’t need to comment further on this thought, but a close friend of mine (not an astrologer) dreamt last week that I was remodeling my bedroom.

Knowing I was in the realm of a deep clearing, I had some sessions with a healer (a technique called BodyTalk) to help all of this inner activity move along constructively. She strengthened my connection with certain male ancestors, including my grandfather who died when I was very young but whom I remember as a very kind and soft-spoken man. There was also retrieval and releasing of a very traumatic event in my (long deceased) father’s life that was apparently still impacting me. As we are sometimes acutely aware, the past, the present and the future can collapse into a timeless moment.

Bringing in Venus again, in basic psychological understanding, we see the opposition aspect as one of projection — the notion that we attract from life itself what we cannot see in ourselves, to be part of our path towards wholeness.

The Venus-Mars opposition (exact on February 1) was being squared by the transiting Moon at 24° Gemini on February 3rd, when Neptune entered Pisces. There’s something about the influence of this (very intimate) planetary combination — the Moon, Venus and Mars — that will be an ongoing theme during Neptune’s time in Pisces.

Planets in opposition stand apart from one another across the vast expanse of space and can illuminate the other from afar.  We could say that the wisdom from the masculine and feminine forces have been at their most visible and striking.

Mars cuts, separates, distinguishes, compartmentalizes. Venus merges, wants connection with all that is. It’s a conversation and dialogue that transcends inner and outer.

Venus is powerful in Pisces, what does she want? Maybe she knows what she wants, and Mars may be willing to negotiate. He’s in retreat after all and re-evaluating his approach.

Here are a few other stories from my week:

I have a friend with Pisces rising; the transiting opposition is across her 1st and 7th houses. She engages directly with the interchange of the masculine and feminine energies in her business life (she works in large and small business settings), and is also in a dynamic love affair. She seemed to be living in the opposition of Mars and Venus last week and wrote a beautiful poem in which she spoke her insights into the wounded side of both the masculine and feminine.

I know a man (with natal Saturn at 23° Gemini) who made what he said was a “sorrowful but necessary” choice this week. He let go of a musical partnership with a lovely outer muse (Venus in Pisces) to commit to another lady who has been a long and loyal friend.

I heard from a friend about a corporate meeting where the men in the group very much dominated the conversation and the (far fewer) women felt trampled upon and ignored. (This is a quite sophisticated company where such things don’t usually happen, but Mars retrograde can reveal its shadow of aggression and insensitivity.) After the meeting, the women spoke up (Venus in Pisces), and the company is beginning another close look at gender issues.

I heard this morning about an unresolved dispute about money (from 20 years ago) that got sorted out and settled in the last few days. The dispute originally involved two men, and a woman facilitated the reconciliation. The people involved are moving ahead in business matters with a fresh understanding.

Venus moves into Aries on the night of February 7th (Pacific Time). In her forward motion she will meet (still retrograde) Mars in an inconjunct (i.e., “they don’t see one another”) aspect at 17° Aries-Virgo on February 22nd.  She will ingress into Taurus on March 5th and conjoin Jupiter at 9°, where both will trine Mars at 9° Virgo (and Pluto at 9° Capricorn) on March 13th.

That’s a moment in time before Venus moves into Gemini on April 3rd. She will square retrograde Mars on April 7th. Mars is then at 3°  Virgo, the degree of his direct station on April 13th. Venus is slowing down for her retrograde on May 15th, and squares Mars, now direct, again June 4th, right before her eclipse of the Sun on June 5th.

Heaven only knows what will be happening by then, but for now, I am taking respite in the lessons accrued as the eternal lovers have acknowledged one another from across the vast sky.

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Welcome to 2012

By Mary Plumb | January 2, 2012

I had some quiet evenings, as the year turned, where a few people instinctively gave voice to Janus, the god of doorways and thresholds, and asked everyone about their most memorable experiences of 2011. It was surprisingly appealing to glance backward and scan the calendar year. I’m sure many of you had similar moments of marking the passage of time.

The media are full of reports looking back on the astounding series of mundane and geopolitical events of the year. As the Uranus-Pluto square becomes precise, astrologers know that the “astounding” and “unparalleled” nature of recent events is a harbinger of what is to come. (1)

Truly, events of the year were exhilarating (the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street…Your Heart…Your Higher Self, etc.); daunting (joblessness, under-employment, millions of Americans with no health care, etc.); incomprehensible (Fukushima and the resultant uncontained radioactivity); impressive (a halt, temporarily, at least, to the Keystone XL Pipeline); sobering (the ongoing brutality of the repression of such exhilarated and empowered human beings), and everything else.

Many of us have thought deeply and written predictions about 2012; there are many wonderful words and interpretations about what Janus is seeing just over the horizon.

Right now, having just come back inside from seeing the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus, all visible in the evening sky outside my front door, it seems this blog will be simple (and personal).

To Venus, I want to always remember to give loving appreciation to those around me. I have had some very kind and unexpected gestures come my way in the past few days and that is a gift beyond measure.

And to Jupiter, may your rolling thunder continue to guide us all in keeping unshakeable faith and boundless joy close at hand in 2012.

And to Luna, the Moon — Queen of Heaven, purifier of the soul, holder of unconscious powers, dreams, the One Thing referred to in Hermetic texts — may your mysterious allure always keep us drawn towards the potency of union within ourselves and with all that is.

Looking farther out in the planetary spheres, Neptune is in its waning days in air sign Aquarius. The interconnectedness made phenomenally and elegantly possible through technology is about to move into a different element and bring another quality of experience.

The transparency carried by Neptune moves into the tender sphere of water (Pisces) on February 3. Human intimacy and personal connection prevail in the world of water.

Saturn in Libra is now in trine aspect to Neptune, both at 28 degrees. This suggests the bridging of heaven with earth; the mystical life (Neptune) becomes an ordinary reality (Saturn).

Although I see in myself (and clients and friends) the connection between the two planets now, I will also defer to geometric exactitude and say that we haven’t fully seen the perfect, elegant, easeful and graceful power of that alignment yet.

The absolutely precise to-the-minute trine doesn’t perfect until October 10, 2012, in the water element, when Saturn at 0°37’ Scorpio will trine Neptune at 0°37’ Pisces. (The exact trine will also repeat in June and July 2013.)

The transparency and luminosity of Neptune shifts from air — the conceptual realm of thought, our global nervous system being wired to a frequency of interconnection — to water and the knowingness of the feeling function.

Associated with the dissolution phase of the alchemists, water softens the hardened places. There may be places inside where a metallic, slight numbness of soul melts into the emotional flow of the water element. “Dissolution works on the heart and id to release buried emotions that conceal or distort our true nature….. this means showing our pain and revealing our wounds, which is where the gold of our being is often trapped but still intact.” (2)

Neptune is protected by Saturn’s calm containment; there is safety in this melting, open vulnerability; proper guardians are witnessing and we won’t get too far lost in the vastness of Neptune’s boundarylessness.

For some of us, dissolution comes with a bit of a feeling of moisture, or a hint of sentiment. For others there are great floods of tears cleansing all corners of the heart and memory. As I wrote in a blog a few months ago: “The ‘breakdown of crystallized thought (or the altering of belief systems) is the primary objective of the first two operations of alchemy.’ To alchemists, ‘the release through the eyes of dissolved salt in tears signified that dissolution really broke down thoughts and feelings.’ ” (3)

Jnaneshvar, a 13th-century Indian mystic, wrote similarly: “When salt dissolves, it becomes one with the ocean. When my ego dissolved, I became one with Shiva and Shakti.” (4)

Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939) also writes beautifully of such matters. (5)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
That I had a beehive here inside my heart.
And the golden bees were making white combs
And sweet honey
From my old failures.

In yoga traditions, there is an association with bees and the heart  chakra (anahata). The bee’s honeycomb is a hexagon, a six-sided figure that can be viewed as two interlocking triangles, symbolizing union of the masculine and feminine (Shiva and Shakti). The heart is sometimes called “the cave of the bees,” and there are specific breathing practices to open the heart. (6)

However we move forward from here, many are suggesting that an open heart is a reliable ally.

Welcome to 2012, everyone. I’m so happy to have your warm companionship on the way!

References:
(1) To say it in a few words: “Pluto lets us look directly at what is most ominous, difficult, threatening, or dark, and experience a hint of the eternal radiance that that fearsomeness is masking. Uranus takes us — wildly and willfully, fearlessly and fiercely — to let shock have its moment, and to respond to life’s strange newness with reverence and openness.”
Return to Basics

(2) Dennis William Hauck, The Emerald Tablet, Penguin Arkana 1999, pg. 159

(3) Mars, Saturn and the Moon

(4) One True Name

(5) Last Night As I Was Sleeping

(6) Bhramini Pranayama is known as the “Humming Bee Breath.”

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Return to Basics

By Mary Plumb | November 14, 2011

Yesterday, on a windy walk at the lake, I was thinking about astrology and time and space. Not in any complicated way, just the simple notion that as astrologers we basically watch the movements of the planets through time and along the ecliptic.

Around Ashland, the cozy little town where I live, people at the coop or the post office often ask if there’s anything special going on with the planets, almost as if they only “do something” at certain times. We astrologers know that it’s always special. It’s always an intricate and overlapping unfolding of cycles. That’s part of the challenge of talking about the cosmos in language that will be helpful (and comprehensible) to people.

At any moment there are countless geometries happening within the solar system, and we often take it apart and consider one aspect or a particular cycle of planets. There’s always something compelling to notice and be informed by, as many astrological writers help us see.

On my walk by the lake, which is large and surrounded by the gentle — and biologically diverse — mountains in southern Oregon, I remembered the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. This is what was revealed when the telescope was pointed at an apparently blank section of the sky, leading scientists to the current assessment that there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

Being in awe of that grand expanse, I thought I would write this week’s blog on something simple — a few words about each of the planets. The heavenly spheres are always in perfect unison and harmony. Here’s a short remembrance of each of the planets; a visit to the basic ground that astrologers have watched from timeless time.

Saturn is how we finesse our fate, engage our responsibilities, and carry on with composure and inner stillness.  We stand, both upright and relaxed, use just the right amount of pressure, and know we are being moved by purpose.

Jupiter is our trust in the goodness of life, our connection with joy, and the knowledge that our compass points towards meaning.

Mars holds anger. It shows where we can agitate for the good; use the right amount of heat and a calibrated forcefulness. It is our place for impetuousness, and where we are inflamed by both kindness and rage.

Pluto lets us look directly at what is most ominous, difficult, threatening, or dark, and experience a hint of the eternal radiance that that fearsomeness is masking.

Uranus takes us — wildly and willfully, fearlessly and fiercely — to let shock have its moment, and to respond to life’s strange newness with reverence and openness.

Neptune brings the true wonder that nothing is as it appears to be; that reality is not linear after all; that we can glide in and out of pools of bliss and pools of activity, all the while being aware of everyone and everything else.

Chiron, the ever-present knowledge that a glance, or a breath, or a thought, is a gesture through which our perceptions both open and close; where we experience both trust and caution, each perfectly at the right, out-of-the-ordinary, moment.

Mercury gives us thoughts that have wings; shows us when agreements and details are important; tells us to pay attention at the crossroads and teaches that our nervous systems can always be kept supple and fluid.

Venus, of course, lovely evening or morning star, Hesperus or Phosphorus, who shows that amorousness, beauty, contentment, harmony are always nearby and that Love truly is all.

And, we stay in our own physical bodies by the always generous warmth and gold of the Sun, intertwined with the cool, calming silver of the Moon.

After this bit of anchoring in the tried and true, onwards to some of the week’s many other marvelous stories from the skies: We’re in the last decan of the Sun in Scorpio, which makes its twice yearly square to Neptune on Sunday. We’re approaching eclipse season — a solar eclipse on November 24 at 2°36’ Sagittarius, and the lunar eclipse on December 10 at 18°10’ Gemini. (TMA blogs on these are in the works now.) Mars in early Virgo, slow and steady, will trine Jupiter in Taurus on Wednesday; the Great Attractor prevails. Nessus and Pholus, Eris, Sedna, Makemake, Haumea, and all the other dwarf planets, asteroids, and Centauric bodies continue in their magical paths around the Sun.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

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Halloween Greetings

By Mary Plumb | October 31, 2011

The New Moon was on October 26th at 3°02’ Scorpio. The Sun will be at 18°04’ Scorpio for the Full Moon on November 10th.

Mercury and Venus are close together now in late Scorpio and will move into Sagittarius on November 2. Our (e.g., my?) mood may be brighter then. For now, it’s the fixed water sign that has me in its grip.

Even if we aren’t thinking of zodiac signs, the visible world now — at least in the northern hemisphere — shows much about the essence of Scorpio. The dark is lengthening; the deciduous trees are dropping their brilliant leaves and standing bare and exposed, and, thanks to America’s undying consumerism, Halloween has become an ever more elaborate and extravagant commercial venture. We can see hoards of dreaded and fearsome creatures walking in our most conventional neighborhoods. (1)

It is of course our modern version of the ancient festival of Samhain. (2) According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and entities to pass between the worlds to mingle with humans. In the 8th century, the Catholic Church began calling these days (November 1st and 2nd) All Saints and All Souls Days, where we remember the dead. (The word Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve.”)

The whole month of November is dedicated to praying for the souls in purgatory. The word is from the Latin, pugare, to purify or to purge, and is the place the souls of the dead go to prepare for heaven.

Many traditions honor the dead. Tibetan Buddhism has many prayers and practices to help the dead, who are believed to be unable to generate merit for themselves. It is considered very beneficial to offer possessions of the deceased to others who are in need. A much loved object that the dead person gave to you in this life can be offered to the lama in memory of the person and for all those who have died. This is said to bring great benefit and to assist the dead in their transition.

I have a friend (with Scorpio rising) who is a hospice nurse. In the middle ages, hospices were a place of rest for travelers; those weary and needing shelter and food were taken in and cared for.

One primary idea in hospice care is the underlying assumption that the dying are travelers going on to the next place. (3) It is a way station; it is not the end. Religions offer many versions of what lies beyond this life, but the sign of Scorpio takes us into these transitional states.

My friend tells me that it is common for people very near the end of their lives to try to get out of bed, to try to take off their clothes.  They commonly say, “I want to go home,” or  “I want to get out of here.”

She also confirms what many of us have seen—people die very differently. Some struggle all the way and resist until the end; some appear to have a graceful and peaceful transition.

In the period of time that a life is ending and the person is preparing to die, all kinds of situations arise. In this in-between time, layers of incomplete or unredeemed life stories may have a chance to finish before the journey begins. Sometimes it is the remaining loved ones who have to let the departing ones go, echoing another great theme of Scorpio—the land of our deepest emotional attachments and intimacy with others.

I know of someone who is in hospice care now. Her beloved older dog has just predeceased her in death. She is bereft, but perhaps the portal is a bit more porous now, making it easier for her to leave.

Unless it is a sudden death, most illnesses involve a decline of the physical forces and a retreat into a different reality. People spend time in an inner passageway; many see and talk to their loved ones who have gone on before.

The sense of release and expansion of light can be unmistakable to those in attendance at a person’s death, as is the unspeakable poignancy of then feeling the body turn cold and vacant. The leaves that were so bright and cheerful are now gone, and it is in that starkness that we are placed closest to the greatest unanswerable mystery.

Scorpio’s most literal association is with physical death, and Scorpio takes us into the realm of death over and over in this life. But there are many different kinds of death experiences: sometimes it’s as simple as outgrowing something, or something outgrowing us.

Scorpio beckons us to venture into the heart of darkness that the death of a loved one opens for us. This is practical as well as symbolic. Healers have always known, and now medical doctors have documented, that unexpressed grief is a major cause of illness—cancer, heart disease, and arthritis have all been statistically linked to a grieving process that has been thwarted. This is the land where Scorpio, the proud eagle and the humble dove, dwells. We will all die, and we will all be bereaved many times in this life, Scorpio planets or not.

The acute realization that life will never be the same again is a gift of Scorpio, as is the delicate process of trusting, sensing, having a glimpse that something new will be born.

Scorpio attunes to the hidden forces. We can’t see the mystery that is unfolding in life. We can sense it, and may become familiar with states of boundless joy, profound despair, and the whole fierce range of emotion that is our lot. But Scorpio gives us the magician’s key to open to the healing force of life itself always moving through us. We are all going to die, and except for an exceptional few, we do not know when.

Steve Jobs gave us a magnificent glimmer of what might be next in his last words, generously shared with us by his sister, Mona Simpson, in her beautiful eulogy at his funeral. (4) She said that her brother’s very last words, as he looked over the shoulders of his family members surrounding his bed were, “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”

(Mercury in Scorpio was opposite Jupiter in Taurus on October 16, the day of the funeral, marking this lovely report from a traveler between the worlds.)

References:

(1) Time

(2) Wikipedia

(3) “Linguistically, the word ‘hospice’ is derived from the Latin hospes, a word which served double-duty in referring both to guests and hosts.” Wikipedia

(4) New York Times

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The Birth of a Movement

By Eric Francis | October 24, 2011

Earlier in the week, a friend documented the birth data for the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to a poster that was circulated announcing the event, the first protest was called for noon on September 17 in New York City. That’s good enough to cast a chart. Just what about this chart says “occupy”?


(Note Mercury at the top of the chart, the planet of messages and messengers in the house of corporations and governments. Many planets not shown in this rendering are aligned with Mercury — see the table below.)

The first thing that leaps off the page is Mercury, the messenger. Mercury is strong in this chart: placed in Virgo, one of the signs it rules, and being the most elevated planet in the chart. It is located, along with the Sun, in the 10th house of governments, the corporate system, and, in general, influence, reputation and fame.

It is little wonder that this movement has gone national so fast. This, despite Mercury and the Sun in a mutable sign; notably, the coverage took off after the Libra Equinox, with the Sun in a fast-moving cardinal sign and making aspects to Uranus, Pluto, and Saturn — the T-square that is defining our moment in history.

Mercury in the powerful 10th house translates to “speaking truth to power.” So far as I can see, whatever constitutes power is going to be getting the message. What happens as a result remains to be seen, but Occupy Wall Street is coming across in their boardrooms loud and clear. Mercury in Virgo is also about thoughtful, intellectual leadership in an era when one usually has to be an idiot to get on TV.

Contrary to the spin that this is a confused movement looking for a message, it is the embodiment of a message. In one month, the movement has re-framed the discussion about the economy. At the time of this little gathering, the national discussion was about why we could not pay to rebuild bridges in Vermont after Hurricane Irene. But how come we have trillions for bank bailouts and wars and executive bonuses? Now suddenly we’re talking about economic equity, job creation, single-payer healthcare, and putting the Glass-Stegall act back into place.

This chart also has a powerful 11th house, with Venus and Saturn, the two planets best placed in Libra, shining out. Venus and Saturn are great friends in this sign. So many people are sympathetic because they already understand the issue, or rather, they understand how all of the issues being raised by the protesters (the public) are related.

Yet, there’s another important factor: Mercury is hooked into a lot of energy coming from a group of minor planets in mid-Sagittarius. You may not be a fan of the minor planets, but this chart helps clarify how they work. Mercury at 14+ Virgo is picking up the energies of many of the subtle planets and a very large, not so subtle, point called The Great Attractor (see table below, with 90-degree sort focused on 14°+ mutable). The Great Attractor at the core of this chart helps us understand how this movement got so big so fast.

A few days before the first Occupy event, I wrote an article about the Pisces Full Moon, called The Chaos Generator. This was a strong Full Moon, and it too aligned with the cluster of minor planets in Sagittarius, but not as closely as Mercury, which nails it to a fraction of a degree, right at the moment of the first gathering. When you align a fast-moving planet with a group of slow-moving planets, you ramp up the power of the fast planet, giving it extra purpose and influence.

Here is a thought from that article: “The Pisces Full Moon also makes a square to the solar eclipse in Gemini earlier in the year (both are in mutable signs … this will add public resonance — eclipses have that sensation … it’s a potential turning point, which includes all of the themes associated with the planets in Sagittarius.”

Minor planets in the Occupy Wall Street chart, focused on 14+ degrees of the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces) which function as one influence. Many planets are aligned with Mercury, the most powerful planet in the chart. Included in the alignment are Sappho, which brings people together, and Panacea, which is about far-reaching solutions. Ephemeris calculation from Serennu.com.

I also pointed out the presence of the Great Attractor, located at 14+ Sagittarius, which was part of the aspect structure.  (1) “Whatever aspects the Great Attractor takes on part of the energy — especially a conjunction. People who have natal planets in aspect to the Great Attractor can have an odd kind of charisma, where they seem untouchable. It’s as if they have an invisible boundary around them that makes you keep your distance but want to get closer at the same time. The word attractor is used because everything is rushing toward it, but nothing can ever keep up.”

Continuing: “It can also have a magnifying effect on whatever is there, like a cosmic repeating station that might take the relatively subtle theme of a planet or asteroid and broadcast it outward. Remember, the Great Attractor is the mass of many thousands of galaxies; it’s positively enormous. Then things come along and line up with it, and that’s exactly what we have going on now.”

I concluded the article, “The simplest way to say this is that unless we take our political problems to a higher level, what you might call a spiritual level, we’re going to be caught in the same game endlessly. The issue is evolutionary. We might ask ourselves not about when we’re going to come up with a solution to our political problems, but rather to the problem of politics.”

An interesting factor about Occupy Wall Street is that it is being run as a collective. There are mass meetings, called general assemblies, that are held a couple of times a day. It is further organized into working groups that take on specific tasks, but there is no name or face associated with Occupy Wall Street. It does not have an ego identity and nobody is “claiming credit” for it. This is actually a reasonable first step in solving the problem of politics. Obviously, the absurd rules of the U.S. Senate have outlived their use; it’s dumb to allow one drunk politician to hold up progress for the whole country.

Each of us will influence how this unfolds with our choices. Leadership is now in plasma mode. This is a new mental environment for some and perfectly natural for others, but it’s the environment we are in. We are in a different universe than the ‘freaking out is mandatory’ environment of the post-9/11 decade. How we think and feel will contribute to the greater body of this thought movement. This is not merely a sit-in or series of protest marches, but an evolution of thought in a highly quickened psychic environment. I suggest you learn to navigate the energy. It’s lighter and requires more agility, and if you stay flexible, you can have a lot more fun.

(1) Editor’s note: From an earlier article by Eric Francis: “Among the many strange marvels of the sign that contains the galactic center is another galactic point called the Great Attractor, located at about Sagittarius 14 degrees and two minutes.” EricFrancis.com

 

Eric Francis is the editor of Planet Waves

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The Autumn Equinox

By Mary Plumb | September 19, 2011

Ah! We’re a few days before a necessary and perfect moment of balance and equipoise. (1)

The autumn equinox, the Sun’s ingress into Libra, is at 2:05 a.m. PDT on Friday, the 23rd.  At the moment of the equinox, the center of the Sun is aligned directly with the earth’s equator. This alignment is precise and distinct, as are the moments at the solstices. The solstices are the moments of the Sun’s furthest north and south declination. At the summer solstice, the Sun reaches its furthest north declination, which corresponds to the Tropic of Cancer. The winter solstice is when the Sun reaches its maximum southern declination, which is over the Tropic of Capricorn.

But soon, the Sun is directly aligned with the equator, midway between its extreme possibilities.

All layers of experience — in balance, weights, measure, equipoise, symmetry, and proportion — are at hand, offered by the great celestial beings that are carried through the zodiacal constellations.

In mundane forecasting, the equinox and solstice charts are studied as indications of the affairs of the state. This year’s spring equinox chart (set for Washington, D.C.) was notable, with seven angular planets making it an especially strong chart whose influence will stay for the entire year. (Charts are in Whole Sign houses)

Spring Equinox 2011In comparison, this autumn equinox chart is a less potent horoscope, i.e., no angular planets.

My point is not to diminish its significance (and I look forward to your insights), but rather to suggest that we are still under the very strong influence of the spring equinox chart.

In the spring chart, carrying the potency of both cardinal signs and angular houses, the Moon is conjunct Saturn in Libra and opposite Mercury conjunct Jupiter in Aries. As a simple picture, we can describe this as greatly divergent opinions and world views that are contained and expressed with conviction and certainty (dignified Saturn).

We might say that an enthusiasm for tolerance and generosity (Jupiter) meets an incalcitrant status quo (Saturn). Both are fueled by the square from Pluto in the 4th house. The 4th house represents the people and what is felt at the level of instinct. Pluto is pure potency and brings necessary upheaval; its placement in the 4th suggests that the creative/destructive urgency of Pluto is a quality that the U.S. populace is connected to this year. Pluto carries the life/death motif and certainly we can see that many in our populace are walking in some treacherous conditions, i.e., no jobs, home foreclosures, etc.

But the strongest, or at least the most obvious, marker for the year is the angular Sun conjunct Uranus. (Uranus also gets back to 0° Aries for its station direct on December 10.) We’ve seen rebellion and revolt and shocking circumstances in all dimensions this year. The Arab Spring (2), an earthquake affecting all 13 original colonies, and the current occupation of Wall Street (The American Revolution begins Sept 17th) (3) are a few visible examples.

This week’s equinox Sun is opposite Uranus and square Pluto. It won’t be long before those mighty, inspiring, exhilarating, terrifying collective forces have their way with us again, but for now I am thinking of resting in the lap of Venus.

Venus and Mercury are both in their places of rulership in the equinox horoscope.

If my family, friends, and clients are typical — and I think they are — I suspect many of us have had troublesome, painful, and profound insights within the arc of personal relationship this past week. Transiting Venus in Libra is newly out of the turbulence of her opposition to Uranus (September 17) and square to Pluto (September 18). Venus is quietly at home in Libra. In the equinox chart, she is shouldered between the warmth and life-giving force of the Sun (0° Libra) and the steady, cool commitment of Saturn (17° Libra).

Mercury in Virgo rules both Ascendant and Midheaven in the equinox chart. The moment suggests that discriminating awareness is available, if we notice it. It is not a glamorous or loud picture, but a quiet reflection of the nature of reality. We can recognize where we are in life, in both our outer and inner circumstances. Clear perception and precise communication is indicated; we can find the words to express what is important in our hearts. (Mercury in Virgo, ruler of the 1st house, is in the 1st house.)

Amidst the wilder swings, may we all be restored for a moment of blessed equanimity at this autumn equinox and enjoy each and every one of the others! Have a good week, everyone.

Footnotes:

(1) e·qui·poise n (formal)
1. a condition where weights are in balance or there is a balance between different social, emotional, or intellectual influences
2. something that creates a balanced state, usually by counterbalancing some other force or thing

(2) Wikipedia

(3) Occupy Wall Street

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Mercury Opposite Neptune

By Mary Plumb | September 5, 2011

Mercury makes its last (of three) oppositions to Neptune on September 8. Mercury is at 29°04’ Leo and will be visible in the morning sky briefly, as it will be conjunct the first magnitude star, Regulus. (1) Neptune is retrograde and has slipped back into Aquarius. The first opposition was on July 28, with Mercury at 0° Virgo and Neptune retrograde at 0° Pisces. Mercury was retrograde from August 2 until the 26th. The second opposition, on August 8, was with both planets retrograde at 29°53’ of their respective signs. Now the last opposition is upon us, again at the 29th (critical) degree.

So the great grace, obscuration, and mystery of that illusive planet has had influence over our thinking and interactions for the past several months (taking into account Mercury’s shadow period).

Neptune was the Roman name for the god analogous to the Greek Poseidon, the very moody lord of the seas, rivers, and steams. As water surrounds the earth, he was called the “Embracer” and the “Sustainer of the Earth.” With his trident he could create stormy seas or cause the earth to tremble; another of his names was the “Earth-Shaker.” Neptune’s trident could also “subdue everything, pacify it, immerse it in fog, and blanket it in forgetfulness.” (2)

Aside from the continual bad economic picture, the news (Mercury) from the east coast was all about the weather. There was a 5.9 earthquake on August 23, followed by hurricane Irene that has brought the worst flooding in nearly a century throughout southern and central Vermont. Throughout the mid-Atlantic and New England, streams became rivers and the rivers took over, washing away roads, downing trees, and leaving many still without power. (The Sun at 29°31’ Leo opposed Neptune on August 22; in a heliocentric chart, the Earth was then conjunct Neptune.)  Right now, Texas is engulfed with fires and wind, while the southeast is being deluged with more and more rain.

Looking at the planets from a different perspective, within a few days of the August 8 opposition, I was in the middle of a classic kind of Mercury-Neptune event. It involved a greatly confused series of communications, a narrative being (apparently) manipulated to favor one version of events (while undermining others), and a vast range of possible meanings and outcomes. I expect that the final opposition of the planets this week will bring a different version of events to light.

In her book, Neptune in Focus, Rosalind Thorp writes beautifully about the energy of the planet, “by far the most complex of all the planetary influences.” She writes: “In its positive expression, Neptune’s energy inspires a need to know or find out, a wish to discover. It causes fascination. In its negative expression, this energy is known as deception. It causes suspicion.” (3)

The far away planet Neptune, carrier of the exquisitely subtle, stands once more across the zodiac from Mercury, ruler of the nervous system, the hands, and the respiratory system.  This suggests that a balm of forgetfulness or forgiveness can be poured into the nervous system. The opposition aspect can symbolize other people, of course, as well as our own extended awareness or view. I’m thinking it would be a fine time to receive (or give) a massage or other healing modality. We can also be in the company of those who are comfortable with the greatest range of Neptune, from its uncertainty, doubt, and artful concealment, to its certainty of transcendence and the unseen.

Here’s to the flooded parts of the earth drying out, the parched places receiving much-needed rain, and the unsolved mysteries in our individual lives all being offered for the common good.

Have a good week, everyone.

References:

(1) EarthSky
Thanks to Edmond Wollmann for posting this.

(2) Gods and Planets, by Ellynor Barz, Chiron Publications, 1993, pg. 17.

(3) Neptune in Focus, by Rosalind Thorp, Pallas Designs, Inc., 2003, pg. 15.

 

Mary Plumb can be reached for private sessions at mary@maryplumb.com

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Mars, Saturn, and the Moon

By Mary Plumb | August 22, 2011

I began to assemble my thoughts for this blog on Sunday after tuning briefly into a discussion on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.

Although at one point I thought the guests laughed a bit too heartily when talking about all the world’s problems, I was interested in a segment on global unrest. The conversation was generally about all of the countries in turmoil (i.e., the U.K., Israel, Syria, Lebanon, China, Libya, etc.) having unique problems, which can be distinguished from each other. But Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs had what I thought was the most interesting view on the turbulence. (1)

Sachs sees the unrest as interconnected and essentially under the theme of “popular frustration with governments not meeting the needs of the people.” He said there is a “pressure cooker” in the U.S., where problems — unequal wealth, a large underclass, high unemployment, a distrust in the legitimacy of government, a woeful educational system and infrastructure, no coherent energy policy, etc. — are at a boiling point.

This is a view most astrologers can appreciate as we move ever more closely towards the much heralded, much dreaded, exact Uranus-Pluto squares coming to us very soon. Some see that signature as the emergence of a completely different world, a world seeming at times to be going both towards madness and elation.

Many have noted Mars’s ingress into Cancer on August 3. Mars then squared Uranus and opposed Pluto (August 9 and 10). On the 16th, Mars crossed the degree of the July 1 solar eclipse (9° Cancer), and this week, Mars will square Saturn. (2) The Moon in Cancer will be conjunct Mars for its square to Saturn early on Thursday morning (PDT).

Planetary symbolism is always evocative, so I will attempt to speak to this particular combination in this short blog.

As I’m sure will sound familiar to many of you, I am full of dramatic and (usually) difficult real-life client stories from these past few weeks. Loosely under the theme of an exaggerated Mars, there have been many traffic tickets, accidents, admittances to psychiatric wards, incarcerations, and other such situations that may hint at Mars’s destructive power in the human soul.

Mars was known as Ares to the Greeks. His twin sons were Phobos and Deimos, also known as fear and panic, now the names of the two Moons of Mars. Mars is self-interest, and if it is functioning well, we can assert ourselves without dominating or submitting to others. Phobos and Deimos are kept in their proper place, ready to act, but not constantly engaged.

In thinking about Mars square Saturn, aside from troubles upon troubles, we can imagine a warming and yet moist energy coming to meet our edges, our bones, and our limitations. It reminds me of the fertile ground where land meets the sea.

Uranus, just beyond the threshold planet, calls the unseen creative life forth into being, but Saturn, of course, knows limits and requires definition. Psychologically, we know that Saturn is about understanding our limits. Saturn is also connected to the process of crystallization.

Saturn’s metal is lead and, in alchemical and tantric traditions, is associated with the base chakra. Lead is “the heaviest of the seven metals and is the starting point for their transformation into gold.”

The ancients thought that lead was the oldest metal; it is “known for its stubborn durability and resistance to change.” (3) According to the 15th-century alchemist, Paracelsus, “the cosmos is fashioned from three spiritual substances: the tria prima of mercury, sulfur, and salt.” (4) In the texts, the symbol for salt is a square, showing that the work of transformation begins in dense, imperfect matter. (Hello, all of us human beings.  Saturn connects us to this earth, like it or not!)

The “breakdown of crystallized thought (or altering of belief systems) is the primary objective of the first two operations of alchemy.” To alchemists, “the release through the eyes of dissolved salt in tears signified that dissolution really broke down thoughts and feelings.” (5) I find that a wondrous thought to contemplate with the Moon and Mars in Cancer squaring an exquisitely defended Saturn in Libra.

Cancer contains our sustenance, our primary nourishment. While acknowledging the possibility for a temporary unleashing of infantile rage in some of us, to try out another idea — maybe we can see Mars in Cancer square Saturn in Libra as a moment in time that quickens our capacity to mobilize support for those who really need care.

Mars in Cancer likes to feel connected, even in its solitary pursuits. I plan to keep Phobos and Deimos at bay this week and (in deference to Saturn) pay attention to the ever loving valor of Mars to carry forth with both the wildness and gentleness at hand.

Care to join me? I’d enjoy your company.

References:

(1) Among his many accomplishments, Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty. To find out more about Jeffrey Sachs, go the this web site. 

(2) Speaking of the summer eclipses: on July 6, Mars came to the June 1 solar eclipse degree (11° Gemini), and on July 25 the red planet crossed the June 15 lunar eclipse degree (24° Gemini).

(3) Dennis William Hauck, The Emerald Tablet, Penguin Arkana 1999, pg. 317.

(4) Wikipedia
“Sulfur embodied the soul (the emotions and desires); salt represented the body; mercury epitomized the spirit (imagination, moral judgment, and the higher mental faculties).”

(5) Hauck, pg. 157.

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The Dalai Lama and the President

By Mary Plumb | July 18, 2011

Before our usual blog, here is a special note from TMA‘s publisher:

Dear Readers,
As many of you know, we’ve been working on a digital version of The Mountain Astrologer to go along with the print edition. All print subscribers to TMA will have free access to the digital edition, starting with the October/November issue, for as long as their print subscription is current. (And we will be printing a paper version of TMA for years to come.) We hope to make digital-only subscriptions available as an option in late September, and we will announce the digital-only price at that time. Watch our Web site for updates.

For now, check out our free sample issue, posted here as a digital flip-book. Using a Mac or PC computer, you can view the entire June-July 2011 issue. Zoom in on any page, bookmark pages of interest, write sticky notes, do an issue-wide search for any word, and even (roughly) translate the text to other languages. (On a smart phone, not all these features are included.) Future digital issues of TMA will have the capability to print pages, as well. As time goes on, we will add exclusive content and special features to the digital edition of TMA.

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We encourage you to subscribe at this time, while we have a 7-issues-for-the-price-of-6 sale in effect (until August 31). You’ll then have free access to the digital edition of TMA as a part of your subscription. If you want a digital-only subscription, however, you should wait until late September, when we will be set up to do that.

Current (and new) subscribers, also note that there are just two weeks remaining in our half-price back issue sale. Details here.
Thanks, and happy transits!
–Tem

The Dalai Lama and the President

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama met with President Obama on Saturday, July 16th. Dalai Lama translates as “Ocean teacher“ or “Ocean guru.”

“In religious terms, the Dalai Lama is believed by his devotees to be the rebirth of a long line of tulkus who are considered to be manifestations of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara.” (1) The “bodhisattva of compassion” can be seen as a demonstration of superlative qualities of the water element: the natal Sun in Cancer is connected by harmonious trine to Jupiter in Scorpio and Saturn in Pisces. (The Sun is disposed by the Moon in Virgo, which is conjunct Neptune.)

For this week’s blog, my idea was to get away from my current fixation with Nessus and Pholus and look at the Dalai Lama’s composite horoscope with President Obama. This horoscope of their relationship has the Sun and Moon in Cancer, placed directly at the IC.

The day of the private White House meeting, Saturday the 16th, the transiting Sun was at 24° Cancer, conjunct the Moon, Sun, and IC of the composite horoscope —  a lovely omen for a fertile and nourishing connection between them.

But then, to my surprise (thinking the Centaurs were only rummaging through my personal chart files), here comes Pholus — it is exactly conjunct the Midheaven (and opposite the Sun and Moon) in the composite. Both gentlemen were born with the Sun opposite Pholus; some essential patterns in their respective lives carry the signature of the Centaur Pholus.

Barak Obama natal

One description of the Sun opposite Pholus could be that the life path or character is developed by consistently meeting unusual experiences, experiences of a “different order,” or events that catalyze radical change.

One theory about the astronomical Centaurs is that they come from outside our solar system, perhaps the Kuiper belt. Like Chiron, they are visitors from “somewhere else.” They all have unstable orbits and are influenced by the larger planets, whose paths they cross. (Chiron links the orbits of Saturn and Uranus; Pholus links Saturn and Neptune, while Nessus links Saturn with Pluto.) This “cross-orbiting” phenomenon is part of their distinctive astronomical classification.

Some early keywords for Pholus — as listed on Juan Antonio Revilla’s website — are exodus, nomad, and homeless. (2)

We know a lot about the President’s mixed heritage and early travels, (i.e., some years in childhood spent in Indonesia). (3) His birth in  Hawaii has been tirelessly chronicled by “the birthers” — who seem, at last, to have lost steam. A new book, The Other Barack, The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father, suggests that before he was born, “his parents may have considered putting him up for adoption.” (4)

The Dalai Lama was born to a poor family in Tibet. When he was two he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He began his monastic education away from his family at the age of six and fled his homeland in 1959 to India to escape Chinese oppression.

To our modern thinking, the mythical centaurs signify transformation — changing from one state to another. The gods are immortal, but the centaurs are mortal. In the myth, Pholus is curious about the arrow that has wounded Chiron. In trying to help, he pulls the arrow from another injured centaur.  The poisoned tip of the arrow kills Pholus. He dies quickly, not lingering like Chiron — thus, his connection to events moving very quickly and turning points in life whereby circumstances and consciousness transform suddenly. (That such a small arrow creates such devastation also shows Pholus’s association with the “small event, big results” theme.)

Nick Anthony Fiorenza, on his website, The Astronomy and Astrology of the Centaurs, writes: “In this light alone, it might be worth watching tendencies to help others who may be wounded or in dire trouble, but at the cost of unexpectedly and severely hurting self, even mortally.” (5)

In his religious life, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in Washington last week conducting the Kalachakra Empowerment, which was attended by 10,000 people. “His Holiness reminded the attendees that his favorite prayer was that of Shantideva: ‘For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world.’ “ (6)

Pholus has a 92-year cycle, and it is now at 14° Sagittarius. Strangely, it was at 12° Sagittarius, conjunct the U.S. Sibly Ascendant, on January 20, 2009, when Barak Obama was inaugurated. I guess that somehow the subtle and curious Pholus is part of the quality of this administration.

Here’s a webcast of the Dalai Lama’s comments on the meeting with the President.

Footnotes:

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Juan Antonio Revilla’s website

About the Centaurs, Juan Revilla writes

“We must make new myths for the 21st century,
and the Centaurs are here to teach us that.
We have to be creative,
we have to cross barriers and break paradigms.
We are the whales, we are the dolphins,
we are not afraid of chaos.
There’s a new pact, a new covenant
between mankind and Earth in the making…”

(3) “Of his early childhood, Obama recalled, ‘That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk — barely registered in my mind.’ “ Wikipedia

(4) “The excerpt of the book says it is unclear whether Mr. Obama intended to have his son adopted or if he was fabricating the story to appease immigration officials.” New York Times

(5) The Astronomy and Astrology of the Centaurs

(6) Dalai Lama.com

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