TMA This Week

White House Garden

By Mary Plumb | March 30, 2009

On the spring equinox, March 20, Michelle Obama joined a group of middle school students to break ground for a White House herb and vegetable garden. (1)

The previous New Moon, on February 24, had the Sun and Moon at 6°34’ Pisces, with the asteroid Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and grain, at 7°12’ Virgo. The opposition from Ceres was the closest aspect to the lunation; we can see the asteroid’s signature in this simple, yet important, event.

This year’s garden is the first at the White House in 60 years since Eleanor Roosevelt’s “victory garden” during World War II.

Ceres is in Virgo from November 3, 2008 until August 3, 2009. Ceres, the largest asteroid and named for the Roman goddess of grain, signifies all things related to food production, i.e., agriculture, farming, gardening, horticulture, plants, and the nurturing of seeds. The White House garden is one highly visible sign of the tremendous growth in home gardens, as fuel prices and population concerns bring awareness of food sources, safety and availability to communities around the country.

Organic food and sustainable farming methods have many advocates, but Californian Alice Waters is famous for her efforts. She opened her first restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, in 1971, and has promoted organic and small farm products in her writing and cooking. Among her many food-related endeavors is the “edible education” project that has been introduced into many California schools. Keenly aware of the current crisis in childhood obesity, Waters teaches young people about food and is an advocate for policies that promote good eating habits. (2)

In a profile about her on March 16 on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Alice Waters said: “I have been talking nonstop about the symbolism of an edible landscape at the White House. I think it says everything about stewardship of the land and about the nourishment of a nation.” (3)

Another recent project founded by Alice Waters was the Slow Food Nation event in August 2008. This was a gathering of 50,000 people (“it was the largest celebration of American food in history”) in San Francisco in support of sustainable food production. (4)

Working with Slow Food and being a famous cookbook author and restauranteur, how delightful to find that Alice Waters is a Taurus Sun and Cancer Moon. She was born on April 28, 1944 in Chatham, New Jersey. Waters has the Sun in Taurus conjunct Mercury and the Moon in Cancer conjunct Mars and Ceres. (I did not find a birth time for her, but the Moon was in Cancer that entire day that she was born.) What a beautiful signature of someone deeply connected to Mother Earth and motivated to provide food and nourishment to the public.

One other telling astrological note: Michelle Obama has the natal North Node at 11° Cancer, conjunct Alice Waters’s natal Ceres at 11° Cancer. What a lovely connection between two individuals who are crossing paths in support of a highly visible project that is designed to bring nourishment and sustenance to many people. (5)

Notes:
(1) www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/03/20/Spring-Gardening

(2) wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Water

(3) www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/13/60minutes

(4) wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food_USA

(5) Michelle Obama, January 17, 1964; sunrise; Chicago, IL (41°N40’, 87°W39’).

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Venus Stops and Looks in the Mirror

By Mary Plumb | March 2, 2009

Venus, planet of beauty and love, is remarkable in the evening sky now. On February 27, she reached her maximum brilliance of 4.8 magnitude and, if you’ve had clear nights where you live, you’ve been able to see her at her very best.

She’s now as far from the Sun as she can be; she stands on her own out of the Sun’s rays and appears at her brightest. Venus is following the Sun; she appears after the Sun has set in the western sky. When she reaches this far distance from the Sun, she is also moving very slowly and about to turn retrograde. (Venus goes retrograde every 18 months for about 40 days each time.)

On March 6 Venus stations at 15° Aries and starts her deliberate walk all the way back to 29° Pisces.  (She actually gets to the degree of her station direct on April 11.) Since she is moving very slowly again, Venus stays at 29° Pisces until she moves direct on April 17.

Venus is the Evening Star now; the Greek astrologers called her Venus Hesperus (i.e., “setting in the West”). As she stops and goes retrograde, Venus is moving closer to the Sun. As she gets closer to the Sun she is less visible, and Venus will disappear from the sky for about two weeks beginning around March 23. Still retrograde, she will reappear in the sky before sunrise on April 3, now the Morning Star, or Venus Lucifer (“the light bearer” to the Greeks).

This period, when Venus disappears from the sky, was famously important to the Mayan astrologers who saw it as Venus’s descent into the underworld. The Babylonian astrologers considered Venus’s reappearance in the morning sky as the time to go to war.

Significantly, during the time Venus is invisible, she will conjunct the Sun. This occurs on March 27: Venus retrograde conjuncts the Sun at 7°16’ Aries. This is an important moment in this backtracking process. For all of us, Venus going back to meet the Sun suggests an opportunity to align our desires and our sense of delight with our creative purpose. The Sun symbolizes the drive for realization and fulfillment of purpose in each of us. Venus is in Aries, pioneering her own way, and impetuous and eager for the newest pleasure. She’s stopping soon, though; she can’t go any farther and must reevaluate and reconsider what it is she really wants. With the infusion of solar intent on March 27, we may find ourselves hearing a deeper — or subtler — call to what is our true heart’s desire. Whatever comes into our minds or hearts at that time may be showing us a notion of happiness that is truly sustainable.

Venus will go back to the very poignant last degree of Pisces. From April 12 to 23, Venus stays at 29° Pisces. This is in her sign of exaltation and a critical degree.  It’s as if we’re collectively reclaiming some deep sorrow, offering, or sacrifice. If that degree is sensitive in your chart, it may be a deeply personal experience of an exquisite yearning for love, tinged perhaps with an awareness of loss or impermanence, that somehow is revisited or rediscovered. Transiting Mars is also conjunct Venus on April 21 at 29° Pisces. Certainly that will be a passionate moment for some; a union of the masculine drive and feminine desire nature suggests a powerfully creative force. Venus, after all, has gone back to allow her mythological consort Mars to catch her again. The personal desire nature is focused and strong; how will we direct it?

Venus is now at 15° Aries, the degree of her station on the 6th, and her stories are starting to appear.  I’m thinking about a few people I know well and seeing hints of the retrograde themes thus far. One friend with Taurus rising has Venus stationing retrograde in her 12th house, near natal Juno in Aries. In a conversation this morning, she said she was feeling drawn to have a past life regression, or some sort of process to uncover what it is from the past that is impacting her current relationship life. Her natal ruler, Venus, is in Sagittarius, which is inclined to keep looking forward; this desire to look back and in to find a possible hidden motivation is not her usual style.

Someone else has Libra at the Midheaven. Venus is now turning retrograde in her 4th house and will cross back over the nadir before going direct. This person is weighing what she really wants to do in her career. A newly diagnosed health issue has suddenly gotten her attention. (Venus also rules Taurus, which is on the cusp of her natal 6th house of illness.)  She told me that she’s feeling like she needs to discover what she really loves to do and make that part of her work life.  She has made the association that when she figures out the next career move, it must be toward what she really loves to insure her health will improve. (She is not an astrologer.)

A gentleman (with natal North Node in Aries in the 5th) has been in a relationship for several years and has felt certain about wanting to move forward with a more serious commitment. Taurus is on his 7th-house cusp. Now, as Venus is slowing down and becoming more guarded and deliberate, his partner is talking about a commitment and my friend is suddenly unsure. He says this sudden feeling of caution has surprised him.

Another person I’ve spoken to recently also has Venus ruling the 7th house. She is happily married and feels confident with her partner, but she’s noticing that her circle of friends may be changing. There are friends in her life to whom she suddenly is not feeling connected. Nothing traumatic or difficult has occurred, just a gentle and gradual awareness that her values and her life have changed and certain people may not remain as close as they have been before.

We can all look to the houses ruled by Taurus and Libra to see where we have a chance to carefully reevaluate what we have and what we may really want. The degrees of Venus’s stations are also very important; in this cycle, that is 15° Aries and 29° Pisces.  In her regular motion Venus moves about a degree everyday. With the retrograde cycle, she moves slowly and spends about 12 days in each of those sensitive degrees.

Look in your own chart for where these degrees fall. If you have planets or angles at 15° Aries or 29° Pisces, this period will be especially important and personal for you.

For all of us, Venus retrograde is a chance to look again at what we cherish, to let assumptions about what is dear to us fall away, to acknowledge what has changed, and to move onward with confidence that our real heart’s desires are within our grasp.

For a wonderful sojourn with Venus, I highly recommend Anne Massey’s Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols and Myths. She explains beautifully the geometry of Venus’s stations in the sky and a great deal more. I reviewed it for TMA here.

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The Seventh Harmonic

By Mary Plumb | February 23, 2009

On February 19, Neptune and Pluto were exactly septile. This is just one in the current series of septiles between the two planets (beginning in 2001 and ending in 2012). The septile is a 7th-harmonic aspect, which is 1/7 of 360°, or 51°26′. This time, transiting Saturn has also been in a 7th-harmonic aspect with each planet – it is biseptile (103°) to Pluto and triseptile (154°) to Neptune.

What to make of all these crazy numbers?

First, let’s consider the number seven: In mathematical terms, it is an irrational number, i.e., a number that cannot be represented as a simple fraction, a number that is “uncountable.” To the mind of the symbolic thinker, the number is associated with all that is strange and unusual.

To quote an anonymous web author: “If we were to examine every class of occult teaching from the Hindu, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hebrew, or modern school, whichever one may choose, in every case – and without a single exception – we will find that the quality of the number 7 stands for the expression of that mysterious God force in Nature.”  (1)

We get a glimpse here of why astrologers associate the septile with larger forces of destiny at work, or fated events.

While trying to get a grasp of the septile aspect, I went back to John Addey (1920 – 1982), a key voice in bringing Pythagorean understanding of numbers into modern astrology. He wrote Harmonics in Astrology in 1976; it is now back in print after many years. He writes that the number seven (and the 7th harmonic)  ”is a difficult number to pin down” and “somewhat elusive to interpret.”

I tend to trust him in this matter, as the gentleman had two natal septiles: between Saturn in Virgo (6°) and Mercury in Cancer (14°), and between Jupiter in Leo (15°) and the Sun in Gemini (24°). (2)

More recently, Michael Meyer and Edward Gillam have written extensively and thoughtfully on the topic.

Closer to home, TMA publisher Tem Tarriktar wrote in his 2004 article that it was the “dominant planetary aspect of this decade.”  Do read it here, as Tem references the aspects’ previous appearances at significant moments in history. I also mentioned this septile in an earlier article, having been taken with Robert Wilkinson’s name for it: the aspect of “grand irrationality.”

And now, here we are with the aspect partile in the sky again. Almost all of the earlier partile aspects in this series (16 out of the 17 aspects that formed between 2001 and 2008) had Pluto in Sagittarius, and now Pluto is solidly in Capricorn.

Whereas barely a few months ago, media outlets hedged around suggesting any similarity between the current situation and the Great Depression, now, with Pluto firmly ensconced in Capricorn and joined by Saturn, there is a media fixation on the worldwide financial meltdown, and words such as “collapse” and  “catastrophe” are part of the daily headlines. In an article called “Soros sees no bottom for world financial ‘collapse,’ ” published on the very day the septile was exact, for example, financier George Soros said, “the world financial system has effectively disintegrated,” adding that “there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis. (3)

This is occurring at the same time that others are anticipating widespread euphoria about the Age of Aquarius: “When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars,” etc.  Although Jupiter and Mars have been conjunct in Aquarius many times since 1900, now Mercury, Neptune, Chiron, and the North Node are there as well. This is a moment when the Aquarian capacity to unleash heretofore untapped creative potential for the good of the whole is quickened enormously.

Neptune and Pluto, the higher octave planets, have us feeling as if we’re on a precipice. Joined by Saturn, the feeling is tangible. In many sectors, people are deeply anxious; there is a pervasive fear of what’s ahead. Others are tuning in to the great possibilities and mysteries of an unborn magnificence that our time is about to witness.

Many of us are experiencing both, along with other strange permutations as well!

I’d like to include a heartening interpretation of Neptune septile Pluto (as if it appears in your natal chart) from the book Astrology 101: Beginner’s Guide to Reading Your Chart by Gyan Surya.  (4)

“You have a destiny to fulfill as a midwife of the spirit, having the need and ability to transform and transmute the deepest reaches of your being. This is felt as a divine imperative in your life, and despite any personal sacrifice, you never waver from the path. It is your mission, and you realize you are meant to share the fruits of your efforts to assist others with their transformation. You have great insight, compassion, understanding, and imagination, as well as a profound acceptance of and reverence for the cycles of life, death, rebirth, and transformation. You gravitate naturally to the role of the spiritual surgeon, supporting and nurturing while also prodding, testing, and tempering. You are deeply committed to penetrate through illusion and uncover the bare, unvarnished truth. Any work in the area of depth psychology would be ideal for you. You may often be aware of the hand of Spirit guiding your decisions and directing your process of unfoldment.”

Many thanks to my sister, Kate, a very fine astrologer, for suggesting this septile as a topic for a blog. And to my esteemed colleagues and good friends, Tem Tarriktar and Robert Blaschke, for taking time for conversations with me as I tried to formulate my thoughts on such a big idea. Thank you all. This blog is truly a group effort. Yeh Aquarius!

References:

(1) the number seven

(2) John Addey, June 15, 1920; 8:15 am BST; Barnsley, England (53N23, 1W28); birth data:  “A”

(3) Reuters article

(4) Astrology 101

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Caroline Kennedy

By Mary Plumb | January 5, 2009

Caroline Kennedy announced her interest in Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat in December. Kennedy (November 27, 1957 at 8:15 am in New York, NY) is a Sagittarius Sun and rising sign, with Moon conjunct Chiron in Aquarius. (Birth data rated AA, from the birth certificate.)

Kennedy’s natal Moon at 15°56′ Aquarius and the progressed Moon are both on the Aries point, that sensitive point which takes us into the world or public life (Moon = AP). A Mars Pluto conjunction at 1° Capricorn occurred on December 28, and was a strong pressure and push on the Aries point in all horoscopes. Her progressed Moon entered Capricorn on December 26, just in time for this conjunction, which, as mentioned, triggered not only the natal Moon at 15°56′ Aquarius, but also the progressed Moon, newly landed on this so-called ‘world axis’ and thereby, acutely sensitively placed. The natal Moon on the Aries point promises a life-long emotional connection to the public at large.

A closer look at Kennedy’s chart shows that her Ascendant/Midheaven midpoint is at 16° Scorpio, also on the Aries point (Asc/MC = AP). The Asc/Mc midpoint shows where the personal identity and public image meet; it is a combination of these two primary angles in the horoscope and shows where the personal and public self come together. With the AP here, Kennedy has a very strong thrust towards a public role to help fulfill her destiny. She has been known by the world since she was a small child. Her personal identity has a very public life.

I find this a good demonstration of the stimulation to the Aries point; our roles in the larger world (depending upon the individual natal chart) may have come into some focus recently by the force of Mars and Pluto.

This seems like a rather sudden change in visibility for Caroline Kennedy, having been someone known for guarding her privacy, even though she is one of America’s most famous women. Although she has the natal Sun in the 12th house (with Saturn in the 12th, close to the Ascendant), the ruler Jupiter is at 23° Libra in the 10th house on the brilliant fixed star, Spica.

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Full, Full Moon

By Mary Plumb | December 7, 2008

This week’s Full Moon, exact on Friday, December 12 at 8:38 am PT, is especially dynamic and we have a week upon us where paying attention to our emotional reactions and keeping steady amidst strong stimuli may be a very good idea. The planets suggest a volatility and passion in the air. The Full Moon has a grand cross in mutable signs: The Sun in Sagittarius has just past its conjunction to Mars – this was exact on December 5 – and Mars squares Uranus in Pisces on December 10, and Saturn in Virgo on the 15th. The Full Moon at 21° 02′ Gemini, therefore opposes Mars, which squares both the Saturn and Uranus. These two planets, Saturn and Uranus began their long (i.e., through July 2010!), challenging, creative, maddening opposition on November 4. The long term stories playing out for us all – around defenses, fears, self-limiting beliefs, finding a move to make in spite of imagined or real opposition – get easily triggered this week. We may be overstimulated and too quick to take offense. Giving and taking is essential this week – two mutable oppositions squaring one another certainly implies a stimulating engagement with many others, both individuals and their points of view and ideas. It is extremely creative and engaging – a wide view or vision of where we are heading may show itself brightly and clearly, and enthusiasm may lighten the heart. A Full Moon always offers the ahah! moment, and this one especially so. Look for what is both useful at this time, (Saturn) and on point towards the future (Uranus).

The grand cross suggests that we may feel the urgency for a big change and yet, we may not see where or how. Patience may be a nearly impossible but urgently needed quality this week! Have confidence that the ideas and visions of the Gemini/Sagittarius Full Moon will be exploding with creative ideas for the future, rather than feeling that someone else is cramping our style.

At the Full Moon, Mercury is on the World Axis at 0°25′ Capricorn, conjunct Pluto at 0°33′ Capricorn. With the swift-footed messenger of the gods traveling closely with the harbinger of the massive re-structuring of power centers that is beginning to sweep the globe, we can expect that critical events from various world hot spots will be dominating the news. The conjunction, occurring at the same time as this volatile lunation, suggests that we may see – at best – significant compromises being found, or, at least beginning to be imagined, as well as – most likely – increased tensions and explosive dialogue around many world situations.

I like to return to the ongoing transit of the South Node in Leo and the North Node in Aquarius, now with Venus, Chiron and Neptune all in Aquarius and pulling us all towards the future waiting to be born. We each have a personal role to play or gift to offer (Leo) that is ready to be employed for the good of the whole (Aquarius). There are many altruistic motivations, projects and ideas we can join with. With this Full Moon, some of us may be happy to get through a stormy few days with equanimity and grace, or at least not too many hard feelings.

Here’s to the ongoing work of understanding our own natures and our place in the greater story of the day – it is surely a magnificant Full Moon for illuminations in all departments of life. Here’s to having the courage to see ourselves and our own situations with brilliance and heart.  Enjoy!

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The Aspect of the Year?

By Mary Plumb | November 3, 2008

Much has been written on the upcoming Saturn Uranus opposition, exact on November 4. This is the first in a series of five exact oppositions that will last until July 2010. The previous opposition between these planets – representing the old and the new, the status quo and the visionary – was between April 1965 and January 1967 when there was also a series of five exact aspects. One very striking thing about tomorrow’s aspect is that it is angular in Washington, D.C. Saturn is conjunct the Midheaven and Uranus at the IC. This is a very graphic picture of the importance of this aspect for the US – as if we needed another clue to the fractious, groundbreaking, nature of this US election.

The symbolism of this planetary pair is being echoed in lots of ways: I heard a woman in an interview about the economy saying, “It’s as if you’re afraid to breath, and you know you have to breath.”

So, here’s to many deep, easy breaths as we find our collective and creative way to the other side of the opposition..

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Monday morning notes

By Mary Plumb | October 27, 2008

I’d like to share a few points made last week at our local NCGR panel on the elections. Obviously this election year has been a great year for astrologers shall we say, as the planets are speaking so starkly. (I especially mean in terms of the overall zietgist of the times, predicting the winner is another matter.) Each speaker focused on one of the key players charts (i.e., Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin) and we all had far more to say than time to say it. We also looked at the election day and inaugural 2009 charts.

Talking about Ms Palin, I was struck by the prominence of Neptune. Now that we have correct (?) birth times for Palin and McCain I see that her progressed Ascendant is conjunct his natal Venus, which is also on the natal US (Sibly) Neptune in the 9th house. The US chart has Mars square Neptune – along with other symbolism (e.g., a tendency to be aggressive (Mars in the 7th), towards an ill-defined (Neptune) enemy,  the 9th house signifies the media and the square from Mars suggests a powerful/effective tendency for the media to be used as an instrument to distort. Also, the solar eclipse previous to the election was on August 1 at 9 Leo. This was conjunct the Ascendant in Washington, D.C. and had Venus (24 Leo)  opposite Neptune (23 Aquarius). As a simple translation: a media savvy, telegenic woman is part of the theme. (Money matters also loom large, but that’s another story.)

Sarah Palin is, in part, a media/Neptune phenomena – consider, for instance, that she has given no press conferences, yet has appeared on Saturday Night Live, along with Tina Fey, who has been a media sensation herself with her spot-on imitation of Palin. Think of some of Neptune’s qualities in this regards- chameleons, shape-shifters, glamour, actresses, artifice, seduction.

I also noticed that the first exact Saturn/Uranus opposition on November 4 is exactly angular in Washington, D.C. Saturn is conjunct the MC and Uranus at the nadir – very powerful picture of the great importance of this opposition in the US.

I’ll post the relevant charts as soon as I can. At the moment, I’ve  got a minor household emergency to attend to: my hot water heater blew last night, due apparently to pressure build-up. (A householder’s responsibility I was heretofore unaware of.) In any event, pretty good picture of transiting Uranus in my natal 4th house opposite transiting Saturn in the 10th – i.e., I’ve got to get the blog written, I’m late…

Cheers! Be back soon…


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Tension Building?

By Mary Plumb | October 5, 2008

Almost everyone I talk to these past days – friends, family, colleagues, clients – is getting familiar with some version of anxiety.

Even here, in relatively quiet southern Oregon, the tension symbolized by the ever-closer (exact on November 4) opposition of Saturn and Uranus is keeping many awake at night.

Saturn, the lord of time and constraint is being confronted directly by his mythological enemy, Uranus, lord of chaos and excitement. They represent starkly contrasting archetypes – the old and the new; stability and upheaval; status quo and an urgent or shocking call for change.

It’s enough to make me long for the good old days (i.e., 2005 and 2006) when Saturn was opposite Neptune in the sky. Then, the keeper of time and tester of limits was facing a nebulous opponent; things were harder to define and impossible to see clearly. At best, Neptune invites working with art, music, meditation and essentially relaxing into a boundary-less state of surrender. That may have been easier to do then; now Uranus’s impulse to dare and awaken is engaging with Saturn and the feeling in the air is quite different.

The god of the heavens and night sky, Uranus is seen as the function that opens the mind to a vaster, bigger picture of what is possible. Saturn’s inclination is to resist change and, at worst, to cling to what has always worked in the past.

It’s not too hard to see Saturn and Uranus in a big conflict out there in our world now. Considering the acute drama and increasing bitterness in the US election; the incomprehensible “shock and awe” moves on the financial stage; the anxiousness around loss of freedom (and money!); the tendency to experience society as divided between rapid reformers and amoral libertines; the “endless” wars and so on, it’s no wonder we’re having some sleepless nights.

If we consider things psychologically, however, the planets provide guidance to our personal lives. An opposition offers – or, more rightly in this case, demands – the chance to become aware within ourselves of inherent tensions. Tension between our own past and future; between what we most deeply fear and where our greatest and boldest ideas lie; between what know about ourselves and what we can only imagine. The opposition invites acceptance of factors and forces that seem diametrically opposed – the chance to come to terms with internal paradoxes that are easier to see outside of ourselves – all those other guys out there are the ones acting badly, aren’t they?

We can consider this in our own habits. Saturn’s favorite stance is one of defense. It may be easier to hold a tight rein on ourselves, or on a behavior or attitude that we are accustomed to, rather than inviting that invigorating moment when a highly uncertain future seems more creative and exciting than terrifying.

Depending on the natal horoscope, of course, some of us are more impacted than others by this particular planetary theme. As a first thought, those in their Saturn returns now, those of us close to our 29 or 58 birthdays, have the acute awareness that we are on the verge of a future quite different than where we thought we might be at this point in life.

I plan to add further ideas on this point within the next few days. I’m especially keen on looking at the natal chart to see Saturn’s sign and house position as a big clue to where we can individually access the stability, the inner ground and security that is authentic for us and is an inner template to keep returning to when the ride feels rocky.




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