TMA This Week

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

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.”


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.


(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.


(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

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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.


(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,
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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.


(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

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Weekly Tune-In

By Mary Plumb | June 27, 2011

I have the natal nodes and a few planets (and the progressed Moon) in early degrees of the cardinal signs so, like many of you, have been sensitized, shall we say, by the ongoing transiting planets in early Aries, Libra, and Capricorn.

Like many of my friends and clients, there are situations in my life that are ongoing and challenging, showing up in obvious and visible storylines, as well as an inner insistence for me to keep facing whatever I need to see about myself.

The Sun now is in early Cancer and a curious thing happened this weekend. I woke up on Saturday morning, just after the Sun had squared Uranus in Aries (and was moving into opposition with Pluto — exact tonight on the west coast — and then to square Saturn in a few days), with a tremendous sense of calm and resolve. The Sun is completing the cardinal cross for these few days and I have such a sense of finding a missing element, so to speak. I feel as if I have connected to an aspect of myself that has helped stabilize what had felt like a wildly unpredictable situation in my life. It was just such a clear feeling of balance and poise. The externals have not changed, but I feel as if I am quite capable of dealing with whatever happens next. It feels like an energetic quality, or an awareness has appeared just in time for the road ahead. It was such a vivid experience of what might happen when a planet fills in a t-square and creates a grand cross.

I know things will keep changing, but I feel like I have somehow more of myself, or more clarity and strength, from which to proceed.

It seems that many fellow astrologers are in a particularly thoughtful mood as the week begins. Rather than focusing on outer events, I seem to have found many writing on more internal dynamics this week.

Thank you to all the fine astrologers out there spreading your good-hearted work. Enjoy.

Dharmarucci’s blog Illness and Vocation: Sun and North Node speaks to a certain type of sickness. “Astrologically, the Sun will be extinguished unless the outer planets are honoured, unless they are allowed to replace the ego as the guides to your life.”

Robert Wilkinson’s Navigating the In-Betweens ponders a lovely question: “When we’ve ended what we needed to end, and opened to a mystery that hasn’t shown up yet in a form we recognize, is there anything to do?”

Erin Sullivan’s The Elusive Neptune is a long, wonderfully eloquent and evocative article. I plan to read it slowly, at my leisure. Her thoughts include Neptune’s passage into Pisces as “the global transit of it as a collective experience of thresholding, transitioning and a sense of chaotic dismemberment of identity and chaotic loss of knowing who we are and what to do.”

The always interesting Frederick Woodruff’s newest entry is Gurdjieff’s Full ‘Stop!’ and the Full Moon. He offers some views of the nature of the Moon that are different from standard psychological astrology. “Within the cyclic dance between the luminaries, the Full Moon moment is akin to Gurdjieff’s ‘stop exercise’ The stop exercise was one of Gurdjieff’s most literal techniques to develop his students’ capacities for ’self-remembering.’ “

Terry Lamb is now writing a monthly overview, and a daily column at her Daily Success Guide at Daykeeper Journal. Of Monday’s Sun opposite Pluto, she writes: “This is a “Full Pluto” time, when we are taken into the deepest realms of awareness to see what remains to be transformed before Pluto returns to forward motion September 16. It’s time to go for it!” As for the month of June, about which we now have a bit of hindsight: “June brings another episode in our personal rebirth story, as well as that of humanity, of the whole planet. It is not advised that you hold your breath until the show’s over, because it will take too long. No, we have to engage fully in the process, breathe through it, and transform.”

Lynn Hayes’s Sunday inspiration: This present moment advises against too much anguished looking back in life. She ends her lovely blog: “Live fully in the beauty of this breath.  Right now. And turn your face to the Sun.”

Have a wonderful summertime week, everyone. As I always like to say, remember, we’re all in this together.

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Astrology as if the Sky Mattered

By Gary P. Caton | May 9, 2011

Through sheer happenstance, I was extremely fortunate to find myself living near the small town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia in the mid 1990s.  This was when Robert Schmidt of Project Hindsight was beginning to share with the world his translations of 2,000-year-old astrology texts from the Hellenistic era. But for me, what really stood out were a handful of techniques that turned out to be relics from the even earlier Mesopotamian and Egyptian observational traditions. What I learned from Schmidt and Project Hindsight that had the biggest impact was that the observable phenomena of the planets matters greatly in our understanding of their qualities.

When a planet is “under the Sun’s beams” (later known as “combust”), that is, within about 15º of the Sun in a horoscope, it is invisible and incapable of being observed in the sky. Later, after separating 15º from the Sun, a planet achieves heliacal rise and escapes the blinding rays of Helios, i.e., the Sun, to appear as a Morning Star in the eastern sky at dawn. This first visible appearance of a planet was termed Phasis by the Greeks — which means “an appearance that speaks,” or a sudden dramatic showing of something. Thus, any planet that appears 15º or more in a counterclockwise direction (or earlier in the zodiac) from the Sun should be seen as highly intensified.

We can see evidence of this phenomenon in the Christian Bible, which states that wise men came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? — for we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.”  (As just described, “in the East” is the planet’s heliacal rising.) (1) Scholars who understand that the Magi were Zoroastrian priest/astronomers have suggested that the biblical account of the Star of Bethlehem was, in fact, the planet Jupiter making an unusual heliacal rise in Aries, a sign associated with the Jews, in 6 BC.  (2)

Therefore, from the point of view of an ancient visual astrologer, the inference seems clear: There has been a new appearance, or birth in the Heavens (heliacal rise of Jupiter in the East), and the Magi were in search of the correspondent birth here on Earth. As above, so below.

For a more modern example, let’s consider the horoscope of the United States of America, born on the 4th of July 1776. In this horoscope, the Sun is in the 14th degree of Cancer.

Going in a counterclockwise direction, e.g., earlier in the zodiac, we see Mars in the 22nd degree of Gemini. This separation of 22 degrees between 14º Cancer and 22º Gemini shows that Mars had recently made its heliacal rise and could now be seen as the Morning Star in the eastern sky at dawn. (The heliacal rise would have occurred when the separation between the Sun and Mars was 15º— as Thomas Jefferson was composing the Declaration of Independence.)

Another view of these morning sky planets comes from Ptolemy. He calls a planet that rises before the Sun (whether in the same sign or the next) a doryphory. Planets who are doryphory are seen as attendants, bodyguards, or a kind of John the Baptist figure to the Sun. The best meaning of the word is spearbearer. How apropos then that the USA, with its incredible military history and sprawling Military Industrial Complex, has Mars, the God of War, as its spearbearer!

We are currently in the midst of a very rare, once in a lifetime alignment of four planets in doryphory, where not one — not two, not three — but four planets rise before the Sun. (3) I put out a query to my Facebook friends in an attempt to find just how rare the current alignment is. Thanks to Dan Ciubotaru of Bucharest, Romania, I discovered that 1680 was the last time that Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter have been this close by zodiacal degree for this length of time! (4)

An alignment similar to the current one last happened in 1966. On August 11, John Lennon apologized for his infamous comment that the “Beatles are bigger than Jesus.” His comment had been republished (out of context) on July 29, as Mercury Rx became oriental and began moving into a morning sky stellium with Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in Cancer/Leo. So, we had four visible planets coming together in the morning sky, and the “Fab 4” were in the news for comparing themselves to Jesus. This was a huge turning point. The 1966 tour was the Beatles’ last.  The group eventually split up.  John Lennon continued to speak his mind and cause controversy.  He was murdered (or assassinated) in 1980. In retrospect, it seems that the “Jesus”  event can be seen as the genesis of John Lennon as a kind of public enemy number one, who later became hounded by the CIA for his political views.

This brings us to the current morning sky alignment in Aries/Taurus. Until April 30, Jupiter was the doryphory, that is, closest to the Sun. On April 27, President Barack Obama silenced the “birthers” (whose cause had recently been joined by “The Donald”) by making public the long form of his birth certificate. At that time, the Sun and Jupiter were separated by only 16 degrees. We, therefore, had “an appearance that speaks” of Jupiter. The Rulership Book gives both certificates and foreigners to Jupiter, and at issue was whether our president is of foreign or native birth. (5)

April 29th was the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Princes are classic Jupiter figures, and a royal wedding is certainly larger than life. Bernadette Brady sees the doryphory as boding extremely well for the Prince.  (6) Like the Sun, oriental or morning sky stars are essentially fiery, or hot and dry in nature. They are about individuating and making distinctions between things. Assuming that William distinguishes himself from his father, Charles, by steering clear of any scandals, my guess is that, when William has an heir, Queen Elizabeth will pass the crown to him.

After the Mars–Jupiter conjunction on April 30, Mars became the doryphory closest to the Sun and, therefore, the closest “spearbearer” to the King. The next day, President Obama sent an elite team of military commandos to assassinate Osama bin Laden. Eight years to the day after George Bush proclaimed “mission accomplished,” the job of bringing the 9/11 mastermind to justice was actually completed. Eight years is a Venus synodic cycle, and Venus is one of the four current doryphory, along with Mercury.

The most striking thing about the death of bin Laden is that it marks something of an end of an era. Clearly, this event is the closest thing to closure we will ever have for the events of 9/11. While many public figures are saying Al Qaeda is still a threat, others seem to think that without its charismatic leader, Al Qaeda will vanish into the dusty history books. (7) In any event, we now have a clear marker, a  distinction between times. This is the fundamental purpose of morning sky planets: to individuate and make distinctions. Morning sky planets mark the birth of a new presence in the Sky and, therefore, the beginning of something new on Earth. As above, so below.

Judging from how events have unfolded, when Mercury passes Mars in the sky on May 20 and becomes the doryphory closest to the Sun, we can definitely expect some action of a Mercurial sort. Until then, we have some jostling between the other doryphory planets with a Mercury–Venus conjunction on May 9, and Venus–Jupiter and Mercury–Jupiter conjunctions on May 11. I’m sure ancient stargazers would have seen this as a sort of passing of the baton or some other kind of interaction between the attendants or spearbearers to the King. So, it seems we can look for more big news stories to emerge next week.

However, from a more participatory standpoint, perhaps if we honor these attending planets with our presence, our awareness, and our prayers or affirmations, they will take up a mission on our behalf. Get up early to see the amazing doryphory in the morning sky at dawn. Sing a sacred song, dance a sacred dance, or light a sacred flame. Let the Universe know that you know what is going on and are an active co-creator in the celestial drama. Ask for what you want or need in your life. Better yet, assert that you already have it and it is now on its way to you. Most of all, Carpe Diem! You might be surprised by what happens next. At the very least, you’ll feel a little more alive for having been part of such an awesome, once in a lifetime spectacle. Perhaps, in retrospect, you’ll see that this was a time when something very important in your life was being born.


(1) King James Bible

(2) Revealing the Star of Bethlehem

(3) Sky and Telescope

(4) Configuration Hunter

(5) The Rulership Book

(6) Visual Astrology Newsletter

(7) Global Public Square

Gary P. Caton is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual growth, exploration and transformation. Gary holds a degree in counseling and has developed a unique multi-discipline approach to Astrology over 17 years. Connect with Gary at Dream Astrologer

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Inspired by TMA

By Kate Plumb | April 18, 2011

I suppose you can blame it on the recent and ongoing Aries stellium as to why this staid old goat decided to start writing a blog. It was not something I brooded over for a long period of time; in fact, it burst forth, in good Aries fashion, from nowhere. This “out of nowhere” can be attributed to the fact that Aries is on the cusp of my natal 12th house. The current pile-up of planets in the sign seems appropriate for an initiative arising so spontaneously without any forethought.

The forethought came in the selection of what to blog about. I’ve read a few blogs, both astrology and non-astrology related, and I’ve noticed that one has to have something to say, and my inspiration for this blog was the February/March 2011 issue of TMAThe Archetypal Roots of Astrology. Glenn Perry wrote a piece in that outstanding issue entitled The Emerging Field of Archetypal Cosmology, in which he mentions a new book by Keiron Le Grice called The Archetypal Cosmos. I bought the book and read it.

Le Grice presents an outline “of a new mythic world view through an exploration of the theoretical basis of archetypal astrology and its application to mythology, psychology, and contemporary spirituality.” (1) After exploring Campbell and Jung, Le Grice explores the theorists of the new paradigms of thought, i.e., David Bohm, Fritjof Capra, Teilhard de Chardin, Erich Jantsch, Stanislav Grof, Rupert Sheldrake, and Brian Swimme. All these thinkers are challenging the orthodox scientific worldview as being full of dichotomies — subject and object, cause and effect, mind and matter, nature and spirit. They present a more holistic and unified worldview that recognizes the interconnectedness of all phenomena.

So where does astrology come in? Le Grice feels that what happens in the human soul or psyche, and is then enacted on the world stage, is very much related to the physical structure of the universe, to the pattern of the planetary alignments in the cosmos. In other words, both cosmos and psyche are made of the same “stuff,”meaning that we carry and bring forth the universe’s deepest intentions.

As a long-time astrologer, now devoting myself to a full-time practice, I am wondering why more people don’t come to see astrologers. Are they afraid that we know something more than they do about their lives? In reading Le Grice’s book, I was struck by the thought that if more people understood the theoretical basis upon which many astrologers operate, as embodied within the new paradigms in science, the hesitation and fear would be alleviated. Learning to gently use the planetary symbols (because symbols are mysterious) by watching them work in our lives could greatly increase a more relaxed and open attitude toward astrology by the general public.

From mid-March to mid-May, we have three Mercury-Jupiter conjunctions in Aries, a New Moon in Aries, as well as Uranus and Mars entering the sign of new beginnings. It’s time to expand our minds and our philosophies, to start a new journey in expanded consciousness. We are so lucky to have this understanding in our tool box. I am even learning to love retrogrades, as there seems to be less time pressure to get it right the first time. And that is something this Capricorn loves.

(1) Keiron Le Grice, The Archetypal Cosmos, Floris Books, 2010, pg. 21.

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 at

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Short and Sweet

By Mary Plumb | March 21, 2011

I took a wild and windy drive these past few days from Ashland to San Francisco and back through a major storm that came with the SuperMoon. After some jittery days when radiation and earthquake scares rippled through the west coast with the shifting of the plates, my close companions and I landed in a deeper version of the simple truth to “choose love over fear” and so we went to the airport to pick up our special visitor.

At the beginning of the drive, we saw a massive, perfect double rainbow off to the east. It appeared to be the essence of rainbow. It was ecstatically bright for a moment, then gone. There were furious and lashing winds and hail most of the rest of the trip, and it took all of my attention to keep the car steady. As we got closer to the end of the drive, there was again a singular, perfect gift from the sky — a brilliant and dazzling lightning bolt flashed straight ahead.

It was a wild and momentous journey and it led me to take a break from thinking about the ongoing worldly calamities to indulge in homage to Uranian magic.

These days we go to sleep at night not knowing what the morning will bring. That is always true, naturally, but with the tremendous force of Uranus at 0º Aries, this is an equinox like no other.

What if we could really just start all over again? What if the regretful, sorrowful, anxious, depressed, gloomy, bluesy, hopeless, helpless, depleted, dismayed, disturbed, and despairing parts of our brains could be re-fired with the inspiration, bliss, and newness brought to us by the potency carried in Aries? We may have moments of unimaginable innocence, and a simple and pure motivation to fully give back to this life with our whole hearts and beings.

Perhaps a gift from this spring equinox is an increased ability to notice the present moment. One of my friends (who is very sensitive to subtle energy) lives on a farm and keeps her hands close to the earth. Last night she said, “All you can do is look around and see what needs to be done, and do it.”

Venus is traveling with Neptune now. On Saturday, the two will be conjunct at 29º44’ Aquarius, just before Venus moves into Pisces, her sign of exaltation. Amidst all the other aspects that are occurring now, this suggests a kind and gentle note to our story these days.

Love to all. Have a good week.

(P.S. This title Short and Sweet refers to this blog itself, and also to my special visitor, my Sun-and-Venus-in-Taurus granddaughter.)

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Janus Month 2011: Looking Back on Eclipses in 1638 and 1639

By Dale OBrien | February 28, 2011

This is Part 2 of a blog that began on January 3, 2011.

The month of January was named for two-headed Janus — one head looking forward into the new year, another looking back. Nowadays, we typically look back only during the last days of December, and then, usually only back into the past year. Astrologers particularly tend to favor looking forward, especially in early January. However, I beg your indulgence to not only look back at these recent eclipses, but also to look way back, to 1638 and 1639. The lunar eclipse on December 21, 2010 was on 29º22’ Gemini; an eclipse was on the same degree in 1638. The solar eclipse which followed was at 13º38’ Capricorn on January 4, 2011; there was an eclipse at the same degree on January 4, 1639. Rather than speculating from astrological keywords about what these recent eclipses portend, I will examine correlations between then and now, with observations from events (primarily in North America).

As I mentioned in my previous Mountain Astrologer blog, it is my contention that a rare eclipse, i.e., hours before the Winter Solstice, “upstages” the Winter Solstice in terms of its historical significance. In my earlier blog, I wrote about my interpretation of December’s 29º Gemini lunar eclipse. Herein, I will look at events from 1638, when the lunar eclipse occurred at the same degree.

In colonial New England, 1638 was a year of firsts, when fundamental assumptions were shaken up in a variety of arenas. (1)

March 1638: A controversial, charismatic, self-appointed religious leader, Anne Hutchinson, was tried and convicted for religious heresy. She was banished from Massachusetts on November 8, 1638. (All other religious leaders of the time were male.)

April 3, 1638: Preacher John Wheelwright was banished from Boston.

June 1, 1638: The colonists experienced their first earthquake, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

June 25, 1638: The first documented North American celestial event, a lunar eclipse, occurred.

December 20, 1638: The second documented lunar eclipse occurred less than 14 hours before the Winter Solstice.

In summary, in 1638, the presumably stable earth trembled, the skies darkened, and authority was challenged by popular (and threatening) troublemakers who were consequentially banished. (At the time in the New England colonies, the political and religious authorities were one and the same.)

If we compare those themes to 2010, we can now see unprecedented earth changes, eclipses at the same times, popular (and threatening) troublemakers (namely, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning) uprooted from where they wanted to be, due to actions that each took without approval of the authorities.

Solar Eclipses January 4, 1639 and January 4, 2011
As mentioned above, the December eclipses of 1638 and 2010 were both followed by solar eclipses at 13º38’ Capricorn on January 4. The Sabian symbol for 14º Capricorn is: “An ancient bas-relief carved in granite remains a witness to a long-forgotten culture.” (2) The Sabian symbolism implies that solar eclipses on this degree might deal with matters long ago set in stone or with significant political and cultural precedents. I will look back to 1639 to see what was manifesting politically or culturally between January 4, 1639 and the Full Moon of January 19, 1639, i.e., in the waxing Moon after the solar eclipse.

In Connecticut, on January 14, 1639, principles for the framework of a new government were approved. Called “The Fundamental Orders,” these guaranteed “liberty of speech.” Prior to this written agreement, any powerful leader or minor group could unilaterally change or create new rules of government. With the new agreement, such capricious actions would no longer be allowed. The Reverend Thomas Hooks, whose sermon partly inspired these “orders” said, “The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.” He closed this influential sermon by saying, “As God has given us liberty, let us take it.” No overt allegiance to England was specified in these orders. Historically, this document is seen as, in essence, the first constitution in colonial North America.

Looking further at the imagery of “set in stone,” sometime during 1639 the Henry Whitfield House was built, which still exists to this day. It is the oldest house in Connecticut and the oldest stone house in New England. The year 1639 also marked the creation of the first printing press (“type set”) in North America, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1639, also in Cambridge, Harvard University (America’s first corporation) was named after the late Reverend John Harvard, who willed his library, land, and money to the university.

January 2011: What Was “Set In Stone”?
What parallels can we see in 2011 and beyond? Assuming that 1639 is a viable correlate, then January 4 through January 19 of this year should correspond to significant governmental precedents or the re-emphasis of very old political and cultural precedents. Some events from this time period follow:

In early January, nationwide, “Tea Party”–influenced Republicans hold the most state House majorities in 80 years, plus a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nationwide, the rights of union and state workers are targeted by the newly elected representatives.

It is revealed that at least $10 million in anonymous hedge fund money was spent on the recent 2010 elections. It is also revealed that two of the wealthiest men in America, the Koch brothers, bankrolled most of the “Tea Party” and Republican candidates, such as the new Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker.

The 112th Congress opens on January 5. House Majority Leader John Boehner wields an oversized gavel and promises to end “business as usual.”  Boehner said that Obama’s health care plan would be challenged as part of a deficit reduction plan. Boehner is also pushing for the “privatization” of Social Security. Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. lose House voting rights. A bill to rewrite the 14th amendment is submitted.

The so-called “Democrat,” President Obama, installs a former executive of J. P. Morgan as his new chief of staff. He also promises less federal regulation of Wall Street and big business.

Obama meets the leader of China and offers multibillion dollar trade deals on behalf of a few big U.S. corporations. He says nothing about human rights abuses in China or about their lax ecological practices.

The Federal Reserve declares that there will be no “quantitative easing” for struggling municipal governments. (This is the same Fed that bailed out Wall Street, General Motors, etc.) Goldman Sachs invests $450 million in Facebook.

Meanwhile, recent poll results indicated that 61% of those polled want tax increases for the most wealthy.

Recent U.S. Census results find approximately one in six Americans living below the poverty level, and this figure is especially high for those over 65.

On January 10 in Tucson, Arizona, a moderate Democratic Congresswoman and others are shot and wounded; a federal judge and several others are killed. Afterward, some representatives leave office or announce their intention not to seek another term. Other representatives decide to start carrying concealed weapons.

The U.S. government subpoenaed an Icelandic parliamentarian regarding WikiLeaks.

Overseas, protests stir in Tunisia and stirrings of unrest begin in Egypt and elsewhere.

Can we assume that corporate government will continuously rule the U.S. for many, many years to come? Perhaps. However, there are major differences between the 17th and the 21st centuries. Astrologically, outer-planetary bodies have been discovered since 1639, and significant outer-planetary ingresses and aspects make this quite the time to watch!

(1) Historical references from: Colonial Wars

(2) Lynda Hill, The Sabian Symbols As An Oracle, 1995, A White Horse Book, Avalon, Australia,

Dale O’Brien has been a full-time astrologer since 1991 and a member of ISAR (C.A.P.), AFAN, and NCGR, a Jim Lewis-trained Certified Astro*Carto*Graphy Interpreter. His writings have appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, From Here to There (An Astrologer’s Guide to Astromapping), and elsewhere. Dale has taught astrology at all levels and has presented, conventionally and experientially, for UAC, ISAR, NCGR, and elsewhere, as well as on radio. He is also trained as a Dream Tender. Dale lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Contact him at or visit his website:

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