TMA This Week


By Mary Plumb | June 4, 2012

I’m not going to add much to the blogs I’ve collected on the Venus transit, which is upon us.

I know that I am in the midst of some here-to-fore untraveled turns in my life, and am seeing other loved ones having revelations in matters of the heart.

But, the personal heart aside, this is certainly the time to take in the wildest, most imaginative view, and I am very happy to have connected with old friend David Tresemer at UAC.

I have followed his work and reviewed his book on the Venus Eclipse here.

Here is his very interesting summary of practical approaches to the transit:

“1. All of our pictures of the world are powered by energy. Giordano Bruno termed these “erotic phantasms.” Eros — passion, desire, love/hate, Venus! — motivates and energizes phantasms — pictures of this-is-just-the-way-it-is, dreams, visualizations, ideas, worldview…. Rudolf Steiner described the same dynamic, though with less colorful terms. “Erotic phantasms” are not to be banished, as in “do away with all desire,” but more importantly to be recognized and worked with actively.

2. Eros/Venus will be stimulated and made turbulent by the eclipse on June 5/6 (the exact time mid-morning on the 6th is less important, as we are in this rare celestial event, by anticipation, right now, and will be for some months). That restless Eros will seek images to empower.

3. Marketers, especially of technological gadgets, have used and will use this undirected Eros. Going-with-the-flow on your part accepts that the world will be imagined by corporate marketers.

4. You too can direct that energy of Eros — can meet it — by creating pictures of the ideal for yourself and for the world. Not vague, woo-woo pictures but rather very specific and detailed pictures of anything that arouses your interest.

5. For example, with the situation at Fukushima still teetering on the edge of its largest explosion, you could imagine that the explosion does not happen, that heroic scientists work out how to remove the fuels to a safe place, and that all species develop a capacity to learn from and transform radioactivity. In terms of the mythic images in the VenusEclipse book , this means envisioning the taming of the magical fire-bird to subdue its expressions on the earth.

6. If you cannot formulate new pictures — if the world as you perceive it holds you in its thrall — then you can focus on the picture of how-things-are-right-now-as-you-perceive-them each night before sleeping. Look closely at the details, best without judgment, and hold the picture in your mind, for just a minute. Spiritual beings will take it up through the night, and in the morning (or in a few days) you will have an insight about how to penetrate even the most difficult problems.

7. In any case, take this opportunity to cultivate your relationship to ideals that engage Eros behind them. Those imaginations will focus your desire — the restless eros of this time — in ways that will be healthy for you and for everyone else.”

Here is his short video on the Venus Eclipse.

I am essentially seeing this beautiful, rare astronomy of the Venus transit as the indescribably wondrous cosmos providing earthlings with an exceptional, perfectly timed, and necessary infusion of Love. Not in a sentimental or self-referential way, but as a time in our journey through the heavenly spheres to harness and recharge the deepest layer of the implicate order.

In his 1995 article in TMA, I remember astrologer-physicist Will Keepin describing Love as what is held in the deepest layer of the implicate order. I am way oversimplifying and paraphrasing, but basically the explicate order is the visible universe, the manifest realm. The implicate order is the unseen, or unmanifest realm. It is the vast and fathomless ocean; its interface with the manifest world is the place where magic and miracles happen, the lands we all know about, and where mystics, shamans, poets, and healers dwell. And Love is what upholds it all; appearances aside, the world is indeed moved by Love.

The Sufis say that the world needs our prayers. Here’s to a magnified and empowered heart enveloping the earth and all her creatures.

Here are some more ideas on the Venus Transit:

The Meaning of the Venus Transit in June by Alison Chester-Lambert

The Venus Transits and the Return of the Divine Feminine by Govinda

Psychological Astrology and the June 2012 Venus Transit by Margaret Gray

Venus Transit: Astronomy and Science

And, whether you were at UAC or not, don’t miss Eric Francis’s coverage of the event at Planet Waves, including a wonderful collection of interviews:

Until next Love..

(1) The article Astrology and the New Physics, was revised and reprinted in TMA 10/09, available here.

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Solar Eclipse Reports

By Mary Plumb | May 21, 2012

Yesterday’s solar eclipse was visible on the west coast; clouds came and went gently, evocatively, as it began to unfold. Under the guidance of the navigator poet Norma Tarango, I was with a group of women doing ritual and prayer, a perfect environment from which to watch, feel, and engage with the gorgeous celestial event.

There is a cornucopia of myths and stories from different cultures about the omens and portents of eclipses. The total full moon eclipse on December 10, 2011 was also visible here. The skies were clear on that marvelous morning, so we saw that one too.

This solar eclipse was spectacular. We had those special eclipse glasses, which I had never used before, that made it possible to look at it for a long time, really taking in the visual imprint. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Visually, the south node (dragon’s tail) imagery was striking. The Chinese thought that a giant dragon rose into the sky to devour the Sun. This is a south node, tail of the dragon eclipse — some things, perhaps qualities, thoughts, patterns, are at the very, very end and being eliminated from the body.

In many eastern traditions, eclipses are known as potent times to clear the energy channels in the body of stagnation and blockages, so the subtle energies can readjust and move more freely and with more harmony.

The immediate physical effect will last for at least the next few days, but the waves of symbolism and impact of the eclipse will continue to play out for many months.

Here are some good ideas about the meaning of this solar eclipse.

Marina at Darkstar Astrology writes on the constellation Pleiades, whose brightest star, Alcyone, at 0° Gemini, is conjunct this eclipse.

Jude Cowell at Stars Over Washington gives a wonderfully detailed report on the “Complex Financial Issues, Martian Actions, and Transport Concerns” shown by the eclipse set for Washington.

Len Wallick, writing at Planet Waves, has a very clear description of the astronomy of eclipses and a lovely take on its meaning. “Sunday’s solar eclipse will be of the annular variety, where the darkest part of the sky will be ringed by a circle of brilliant light — and what will ultimately prevail, once that which is out of place has passed, is the light.”

Peter Stockinger at his Traditional Astrology Weblog looks at where the solar eclipse chart is angular. He finds that “…this eclipse will have an effect on the United States in about six months time, which will be, of course, at around the time of the elections.”

Nina at Gryphon Astrology Blog looks at the possible effects on places where the eclipse is visible. She includes the chart set for Sacramento, the capital of California, where Saturn is on the Ascendant. “The California governor, Jerry Brown, had announced that the California budget shortfall had grown to $16B, in contrast to the estimated $9B, and that in addition to more program cuts, an increase in taxes will be needed. This is a state that already has the highest sales tax in the nation, and the highest top income tax rate. The economic difficulties that currently envelop California will continue with an added hit of drama.”

The solar eclipse New Moon in Gemini has many of us going on the road this week. Tem, Ann, and I will be heading to New Orleans for UAC and greatly look forward to seeing our fellow stargazers and planet lovers.

See you soon. Safe journeys to one and all.

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A Personal Taurus Report

By Kate Plumb | April 30, 2012

As a practicing astrologer, I am always struck by how much I learn from my clients. Last week, after a reading, a client told me how much I blew her mind by explaining the importance of her rising sign, instead of only her Sun sign, which she had been trying to fit herself into. This started my thinking about my own rising sign, 29° Taurus, especially now that we are in the Taurus New Moon, and Jupiter has been there for the last year with Venus still so beautifully bright in the evening sky. I have always known I was Taurus rising (my North Node is there, too), but the quality of my expression has changed significantly over the years.

Food has always been important to me; taking in substance seemed comforting. I went so far that, at age 13, I became bulimic, which lasted for 20 years. This dysfunction permanently sensitized my throat and, later, caused the loss of some teeth, because the enamel eroded from the stomach acids in the mouth. In high school, I sang in an award-winning choir and spent two years, once a week, telling a doctor what I ate and why (she would fall asleep). Although I was not much of a shopper, when I did purchase something, it was a handbag or purse of some sort, or a pretty box to put things in. I liked containers — places in which to hold something else. In my 30’s, I was attracted to a Taurus man who stayed in my life for 25 years. He could be described as a true “couch potato.” I marveled at his ability to lay on the sofa, watch TV, and “do nothing” for long periods of time. He worked one day a week and seemed so completely satisfied. Of course, he was a good cook and we ate well and often.

This past year I have been a companion to a very elegant woman with natal Moon in Taurus conjunct her North Node, which is exactly conjunct mine. Her Moon and our North Nodes are at 2° Taurus, the degree of this month’s New Moon. She has a beautiful home full of antiques and fine art. She dresses in her mother’s museum-quality jewelry and hand-me-down dresses and suits. (Her mother was a friend of Coco Chanel’s.) We talk over cocktails and watch Edwardian England miniseries. In some ways, I’ve noticed that my life is becoming more like the lives of the English upper class, the “Taurus” in our world. I have begun to wear essential oil perfume (particularly for abundance), and diffuse my house with aromatherapy candles. I am wearing jewelry. We go out to eat in the nicest places, or I cook. We have seats at elegant fundraiser dinner parties and go into NYC to hear the Philharmonic. I am gardening more, and recently found myself taking a soil sample for the first time in my life. I practice yoga and feel comfortable in my body for the first time in my life. My “inner space” is being nourished. We play bridge. I am getting my piano tuned, taking art lessons, and am ready to join a choir again. I still have to watch my neck in yoga, but now, with a new pillow, my cervical spine (neck) is completely relaxed and I am sleeping better.

I do not know whether these feelings and experiences of deep satisfaction are coming because I’m 63, and looking downhill (or upwards, as the case may be), or if they result from my notion that, as I have 29° Taurus rising, I have to get Taurus “right” in this lifetime. Or perhaps this is just a result of the intensification of the Taurean energy at this moment in time. I do know that identifying with all the positive attributes of one’s rising sign feels comfortable. Margaret Hone, in the Modern Textbook of Astrology, says the Ascendant is “of greatest importance…every trait of character deduced from any other part of the chart must be considered in relation to the type of person evincing it, as shown by the Ascending sign.” Charles Carter says that the first thing one sees about a person is the Ascendant, as does Isabelle Pagan.

Recently Neptune has squared my Ascendant and, as it is sesquiquadrate my Ascendant natally, I’ve been reliving the idealization and delusion inherent in that aspect. It seems to me, though, that as the clouds have parted, I am connecting more deeply with my Taurus Ascendant and living a far richer, soulful life as a result.

Kate Plumb is a certified NCGR Level 4 Counseling Astrologer. She was also certified by Jim Lewis in A*C*G. She first studied astrology in 1971 (thanks to her sister) with Rod Chase and Alan Oken in Brooklyn Heights, and later with Zoltan Mason in his bookshop on Lexington Avenue. She has written for TMA, teaches classes, and sees clients in her home office in Sag Harbor, New York. She has recently started a blog at

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Mars and Neptune in their Ongoing Dance

By Mary Plumb | April 16, 2012

Mars always gets attention — now, with its station direct and slow, slow forward motion. He turned direct at 3º40’ Virgo on April 13, and doesn’t enter a new degree until April 21.

The direct station was a bit more than one degree from an opposition to Neptune at 2º26’ Pisces.

The beginning of the current synodic cycle between Mars and Neptune was the conjunction on February 20, 2011 at 28º31’ Aquarius. Neptune dipped into Pisces and then went retrograde in June 2011, backing up to 28º Aquarius again, where Mars at 28º Leo opposed it on November 7.

Mars turned retrograde in January 2012, and now has turned direct, just short of exact opposition to Neptune.

This is their first aspect (although not partile) since Neptune ingressed into Pisces in February 2012, where it will stay until 2025. Mars is fully attending to Neptune in Pisces now. Mars’ actions and desires can reflect Neptune in all its complexity, foibles, and wiles.

A new synodic cycle between these two planets will begin on February 4, 2013 when Mars will conjoin Neptune, back at 2º12 Pisces.

The degrees of the conjunctions (28º Aquarius and 2-3º Pisces) are keys to the unfolding meanings of this combination of planets. You can look at your horoscope for the houses that hold these signs to begin to trace what circumstances and conditions in your life are open to this intricate weaving between Mars and Neptune. Together, they have many layers of symbolism and possible expression.

Something I have noticed in these past few days are various situations that I can describe as bringing us the opportunity to face (Mars opposite) something that we would prefer to avoid (Neptune).

I am thinking about Neptune’s association with veils, deceits, and what is nebulous or obscured. But here is Mars, straight from his long, internal dialogue and ready to take a stand for some new, deeply felt, broad or encompassing action or idea.

Neptune can also suggest what we can’t see in ourselves — perhaps a complex hidden in some infantile, undifferentiated place in the psyche, or caught in an addictive pattern that keeps us deluded, but perhaps feeling secure.

We may now find ourselves facing an addiction (quiet or blatant) or a part of our inner lives that is burning to be recognized and transmuted into fuel for a greater good. (Yea! Neptune in Pisces.)

I am, for the moment, going to assume that Neptune in Pisces will bring us all easy access to its best qualities — this is an oversimplification for sure, but that’s Mars in Virgo, asking for simplicity.

My recent experiences have been subtle, mostly in conversations that were about sensitive matters. Mars-Neptune can be gentle and skillful in using just the right amount of carefully calibrated energy in delicate situations.

And bringing an uncomfortable or delicate situation into an open dialogue can bring good results. Mars in Virgo likes results. This is a quality that will remain accessible to us for a while, due to the slow staying power of the Mars station.

In some circumstances, it may be wise to wait a bit before going full speed ahead; some things being presented to us now may be representing someone else’s desire, and not be really what we want.

Mars moves through mutable Virgo until July 3 when it crosses the cardinal point at 0º Libra. Mutable signs relate to our thinking, perceptions, and states of mind. There is flexibility, adaptability, perhaps even hesitation in knowing what we want to do next. With individuating Mars carrying Neptune’s penchant for the unseen worlds, it may take some of us a while to feel what decisive move is next.

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The Vernal Ingress Chart for 2012

By Gary P. Caton | March 26, 2012

The chart for the moment of the Sun’s entrance into Aries has always been a very important factor in mundane astrology. Traditionally, this chart is cast for the capital city of a country or region. Since we cannot cast the countless charts required for a holistic worldview, this analysis will focus on the chart for the United States. We will also look at things that all ingress charts have in common — the aspects, or relationships, between the planets at the time of the vernal equinox.

The first thing we notice is that Mercury retrograde and Uranus are both conjunct the Sun at the vernal point. This is an extremely rare alignment, which hasn’t happened since the year 755AD! (1) Since that year may not contain much history that can inform our modern world, let’s simplify a little bit. As the late, great Robert Blaschke taught us: “Sun-Mercury inferior conjunctions have a recurrence pattern, falling in the same degree area of the Zodiac as part of a cycle that has durations of 13, 33, or 46 years between conjunctions. After 79 years (33 + 46), or after 125 years (79 + 46), inferior conjunctions can recur in the exact same degree of the Zodiac, or within a one-degree orb of the starting conjunction’s degree in that sign’s cycle.” (2) The following table shows the inferior conjunctions of retrograde Mercury and the Sun near the Vernal Point of 0° Aries over the last 125 years.

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 21, 1887: 1°10′ Aries

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 20, 1920: 29°25′ Pisces + 33

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 23, 1933: 02°16′ Aries + 13 = 46

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 21, 1966: 00°29 Aries + 33 = 79

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 24, 1979: 03°20 Aries + 13 = 92

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 21, 2012: 01°35 Aries + 33 = 125

When perusing the historical record for these years, do we find any correlations to current events? One of today’s hot topics is women’s rights, specifically reproductive rights, which have been brought into question by many Republican politicians. (3) Right away, something jumps out at me: Susanna Salter was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas on April 4, 1887, becoming the first woman elected as mayor, and the first woman elected to any political office in the United States. Looking onward to the next date in our list, we see that on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th — and deciding — state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, which prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. In 1933, Frances Perkins became the first woman in a Presidential cabinet, and served as Secretary of Labor during the entire Roosevelt presidency. The National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest feminist organization in the United States, was founded in 1966. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an ‘international bill of rights for women.’ The United States is the only developed nation that has not ratified the CEDAW. (4)

Despite support from both Presidents Carter and Clinton, the U.S. Senate has never ratified the treaty, due to opposition from conservative politicians. (5) In 2009 Senator Barbara Boxer led a campaign for ratification of CEDAW, saying, “It’s a shame that the U.S. stands with countries such as Iran, Sudan and Somalia in failing to ratify the treaty.” (6)

The trend for the Mercury retrograde years outlined above begs the question: Is there any chance that 2012 will be the year the U.S. ratifies the CEDAW? In order to look at this question, we must cast the ingress chart for Washington, D.C., on March 20, 2012 at 1:15:01a.m. EDT.

March 20, 2012
1:15:01 a.m. EDT
Washington, D.C.
Tropical zodiac
Whole sign houses

Aries Ingress 2012

We see that the traditional malefics, Mars and Saturn, are also retrograde, so it appears things could be “taken back” regarding significations of these planets and the houses wherein they reside. Traditionally, the 11th house signifies the Congress. Saturn in the late degrees of Libra, and retrograde, does not look good for major advancements by the U.S. Congress. Given their current dismal approval rating, I’m sure this is not a surprise to anyone. However, some might argue this could indicate a reversal of some previous position held by Congress, or perhaps even a reversal of Congress itself. It should be noted that with a mutable sign on the Ascendant, the shelf life for this chart is only until the Libra ingress. (7) So, this chart does not speak directly to the fall elections, but does speak to a good portion of the campaign season.

Mars retrograde resides in the 10th house of this chart. This is traditionally the house of the President, the “party in power,” and generally people in authority. Therefore, we should not expect a lot from the President during this time. This makes sense also because he is likely to be fending off attacks from his rivals in the fall election. However, if we read this generally as things being “taken back” from people in authority, this chart could be good for political minorities and groups like Occupy. In fact, the major good news in this chart is that both of the traditional benefics, Venus and Jupiter, are conjunct in Taurus. Since this is the traditional home of Venus, and Taurus is the most traditional financial symbol, this conjunction (and its Earth grand trine with Pluto and Mars) could bode well for slow but sure continued financial recovery.

Since the 6th is the house of workers and employees, we could expect both job growth and advancement of workers’ issues and rights.

Returning to our original question, but from a different angle, we see the very rare conjunction of the 0° Aries Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Uranus falling in the 5th house of the horoscope. This house is generally concerned with entertainment and pleasure, but more specifically with birth, children, and sexual concerns. So, clearly the bizarre throwback nature of public discourse around these issues is likely to continue.

Women’s issues are signified by Venus, and since she is in her own sign, near her greatest brightness, and conjunct Jupiter, it seems perhaps we can expect some progress in these areas, although maybe not from Congress. Venus in the 6th seems to indicate that the fight over framing women’s and sexual issues as health issues (6th) versus religious issues (conjunct Jupiter) will continue, and could possibly end up in court. Also, the plight of women seems to be tied to, or perhaps will find solidarity with, the general plight of workers.

The final and perhaps ultimate consideration in this chart is Rahu, aka the North Node of the Moon, which is rising. Rahu is an extremely complex figure and can plunge any area of life he controls into chaos and mystery, as well as random, uncontrolled growth without wisdom or understanding. At the very least, this suggests that this year’s eclipse season will be very important and perhaps perplexing for the U.S.

Solar eclipses are traditionally an important mundane factor. We have an annular solar eclipse on May 20 at 0°20′ Gemini, which is visible in the western U.S. Gemini is the 7th house of the vernal ingress chart, which governs foreign affairs and relations with other countries, both friendly and hostile. It is possible that some unexpected and/or misunderstood (at least at the time) foreign relations issues will come up in the next six months. Often these events are timed to when planets cross the eclipse degree. The important dates to watch for this eclipse season are as follows: May 5, Mars squares the Nodes at the South bending (opposite Neptune who is nearing the North bending); May 24, the eclipse ruler, Mercury, crosses the eclipse degree; June 12, Jupiter crosses the eclipse degree, and, on June 26, Venus stations direct near the eclipse degree.

References and further reading:

(1) Using Dan Ciubotaru’s configuration hunter website, I found that the previous triple conjunction of Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Uranus within the fist six degrees of tropical Aries was in the year 775 of the Common Era. Configuration Hunter

(2) Robert P. Blaschke, Retrograde Mercury in Taurus: Recurring Cycle for Goldman Sachs & Global Financial Crises, April 26, 2010.

(3) See, for example, any of these recent articles in The Huffington Post:Women’s Rights


(5) Feminine Equal Rights

(6) Discord Expected Over Women’s Rights Pact

(7) Skyscript: Ingresses

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 23 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993, his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to practicing Astrology over 19 years. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer

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Six things I love about astrology 

By Anne Whitaker | February 20, 2012

 “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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

(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.)


(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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