TMA This Week

Early Signs: Saturn Return for the U.S.

By Mary Plumb | November 29, 2010

The U.S. Sibly horoscope has natal Saturn at 14º48’ Libra in the 10th house. Transiting Saturn is now at 14º24’ Libra; the U.S. is just days away (i.e., December 3) from the first exact passage of its Saturn return (exact again in March and August 2011).

On Sunday, WikiLeaks again offered classified documents for public viewing, this time with many details embarrassing to U.S. diplomats. (Saturn, exalted by sign in the 10th, suggests highly visible, well-regarded professionals, and Libra rules diplomats.)

According to the Guardian: “The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.” (1)

Transiting Mars is also now opposite the U.S. natal Mars (21º23’ Gemini), which squares natal Neptune (22º25’ Virgo) as the documents have been given to the news outlets.

Sibly biwheel

The New York Times headline this morning, “Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy” seems to include keywords for these planets.

Neptune, which rules the media and, along with idealism and naiveté, can also suggest obscuration and distortion, is in the 9th house of foreign relations and publishing. The natal Mars square Neptune has been triggered when other compromising (or scandalous) details came into public view. (In the spring of 2004 when transiting Pluto was at 22º Sagittarius – conjunct Neptune and square Mars – the infamous and damaging photos of torture by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison began to be widely published. There are still human rights investigations going on as a result of those published photos, as well as incalculable damage to the U.S. reputation in the Arab world.)

Trouble-making Mars also showed up for President Obama who got elbowed in a basketball game and needed 12 stitches on his lip on November 26, the day before transiting Mars was exactly square his natal Mars at 22º36’ Virgo.

Obama biwheel

Of course, any aspect that impacts the Sibly Mars-Neptune square also will impact the President’s natal Mars, as they are square to one another, i.e., 21º Virgo/21º Gemini. (2)

The combination of transiting Neptune conjunct the U.S. Moon, which has been in effect all of 2010, and the Saturn return has combined to leave a sense of confusion and malaise in the air. The Sibly chart has Libra on the Midheaven, ruled by Venus at 3º06’ Cancer. The transiting South Node at 3º Cancer adds another temporary sense of woe, or diminishment of, the reputation of the U.S. Perhaps this also can be interpreted to mean that an overall feeling of happiness and well being in the country at large is connected to a careful observation of our assumptions about what really has value in our personal lives. (3)

In mid-January 2011, transiting Neptune makes its last exact pass to the President’s South Node and the U.S. Moon. Maybe then we’ll be feeling more confident in facing the demands of the time, sure to be obvious as Saturn continues to hold the U.S. to a high degree of accountability on the world stage.


(1) Reader Supported News

(2) It is not unusual for U.S. President’s to be strongly connected to the Sibly Mars-Neptune square. Some examples:

FDR’s Ascendant is 23º16’ Virgo (with Uranus nearby at 17º55’).

Jimmy Carter’s Mercury is 21º11’ Virgo.

Ronald Reagan’s Midheaven is 22º28’ Virgo.

George Bush, Sr.’s Sun is 21º22’ Gemini, square Uranus at 21º26’ Pisces.

George W. Bush’s North Node is 20º35’ Gemini, conjunct Uranus at 19º09’.

Bill Clinton’s Uranus at 21º09’ Gemini conjunct the North Node at 18º16’.

(3) Even CNN seems to be getting the picture – on the news this morning there was a segment, “Smart is the New Rich.”

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The Solar Return and Progressed Solar Return Charts

By Robert P. Blaschke | November 15, 2010

They say it’s your birthday
It’s my birthday too, yeah
They say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you

The Beatles; The White Album; November 1968; (Lennon/McCartney)

Turning 57 today and reaching his third Metonic Solar Return, your correspondent is happy to be alive. Having been given a terminal prognosis in December 2009, with the oncologist stating that there were only ten months left to live, this retired astrologer has spent the past year spiritually preparing for death, while practicing gratitude for each day that he is still alive and able to appreciate life.


Robert Blaschke, SR 2010

At the ages of 19, 38, 57 and 76, one finds that he has completed a Metonic Cycle (1) and that his Solar Return will have both Luminaries in the same Zodiacal degree area as at birth. This cycle is significant in that it indicates a conclusion of a 19-year chapter of life, with a new opportunity to realign the soul with the original spiritual purpose of one’s life. At 57, what one has accomplished since the age of 38 will now feel like a distant past receding into one’s memory, as the soul takes on a new mission in life.

For this astrologer, having founded Earthwalk School of Astrology in February 1992 at the age of 38, his retirement from private practice and teaching due to his health problems feels like a major life cycle has concluded. The path to peace of mind can now be found through the willingness to accept a simple fact of life – all things must pass.

Similar to the 18.6-year precessional cycle of the Nodal axis through the Zodiac, in which the third Lunar Node return occurs just prior to the 56th birthday, astrologers know that the years between the second progressed Moon return at age 54 1/2 and the second Saturn return at age 59 are highly significant. Ideally, at that time, a transition in life takes place away from one’s career goals and the soul now moves toward the development of a philosophical understanding of the meaning of one’s life.

In his Solar Return today, your correspondent is delighted to find a 9th house accidentally dignified Jupiter (also in dignity in Pisces), stationary direct, and in close trine to the Sun. This most fortunate aspect with the greater benefic should bring the necessary contemplative reflection over the next year in order to perceive the meaning of his life; as well as also serving to preserve the health (ruler of the 6th house) while bestowing hope, the enjoyment of good friends, and having a positive outlook on life.

For an independent individual with nine planets Eastern in his nativity, it will be a year of appreciation for the relationships in his life with nine Solar Return planets in the Western hemisphere. A joyous 5th house Sun is exactly the ticket for a weary soul who has endured a lot of physical pain, and the retrograde Venus (ruling the 11th) in dignity in the 4th has already begun to show her stuff through the recent visits of old friends from high school coming to our house for delicious meals, a glass of French red wine, much laughter, lots of love, and fond remembrances of our youthful escapades and follies.

Lest he forget during lighter moments the Sword of Damocles that hangs over his head, in which further tumor recurrence and additional metastasis of the cancer could occur at any time, the exact conjunction of Pluto and the North Node in the 6th house of health should keep this astrologer unwavering in his appreciation for the gift of life, and help him stay focused through daily prayer about the possible nearness of his death at a time known only by his Creator.

The Solar Return is calculated for the exact time that the transit Sun conjoins the natal Sun each year. These charts, in order to be precise, must be calculated to the nearest degree, minute and second of solar Zodiacal longitude, as the Sun moves one minute of arc in about 24 minutes of time. A forecast for the year between birthdays can be found in these horoscopes, and they reflect the transits that are in place at the time of the birthday. These transits hold their influence for a full year.

The seriousness of your correspondent’s medical condition could be seen in the exact Saturn-Pluto square forming at his last birthday, with the greater malefic in the 6th house. Perhaps it was the Mutual Reception between the Sun and Mars that helped to strengthen the will to live. The chart ruler, Venus, in detriment and in an angular square to Mars, brought on a plethora of physical misery during the last twelve months; with Mars-ruled infections, rashes, inflammation, and acute physical pain being the crosses to bear. The closest aspect to the Sun is always crucial in the Solar Return, and the exact trine to Uranus provided the necessary metaphysical understanding about one’s preparation for death and dying.

At age 56, Uranus arrives at the waning trine to its natal position. This marks the 2/3 point in the 84-year Uranus cycle. Both Dane Rudhyar and Alexander Ruperti wrote (2) about the significance of this aspect and how it symbolized a possibility for a Third Birth, one in which the soul could ideally begin to “radiate through the personality that spiritual essence which was its destiny to manifest.” This would only be possible, however, if the individual had “assimilated into his conscious ego some of the contents of the collective unconscious” (since a Second Birth at the waxing trine of Uranus to its natal place at age 28).

Robert Blaschke, SR 2009

Also at age 56, a multiple of eight years, a seventh Sun-Venus recurring synodic cycle commences and this is reflected in the Solar Return for that birthday by the Sun and Venus having both returned to the same Zodiacal degree area as at birth. An eight-year relationship cycle draws to a close, and a new karmic chapter begins. (3) At his last birthday, this astrologer had a 7th house Venus, within four degrees of his natal Venus, along with an angular Moon conjunct the Descendant, exact to 03′ of arc.

The happiest event of this past year has been the return from South Africa to the U.S. in April of my fiancée, Carol. Without her love, companionship and daily help with my disabled condition, I would have been unable to survive and weather the onslaught of the physical pain brought on by a severe and nearly lethal infection in September. Along with my 30-year old daughter, these two splendid women (who have a synastric Moon-Venus conjunction between their two horoscopes) have been the Light and Love of my life. (4) That Venus-Mars square, of course, produced some spectacular arguments; however, the affection and good feelings would always return soon afterwards! I have to say that with the 8th house Mercury, the thought of dying was on my mind constantly ever since I received the terminal prognosis.


Alan Leo, writing in The Progressed Horoscope, (5) spoke of one’s Progressed Birthday each year, when the transit Sun would conjoin the secondary progressed Sun. This event takes place as many days after your birthday as your age. He wrote that “in the case of highly strung and sensitive people, after the age of thirty these natives would perhaps live more through the progressed rather than their radical horoscopes.” Following this, Leo also stated that “it was not until the transit Sun had conjoined their progressed Sun each year that a renewed impulse of vitality and energy would be experienced.”

The above tri-wheel chart shows this astrologer’s nativity in the inner wheel, secondary progressions calculated for 56 days after his 56th birthday (15 November to 10 January = 56) in the middle wheel, and his Progressed Solar Return for January 10, 2010, when the transit Sun precisely conjoined his secondary progressed Sun, in the outer wheel. The two tables below the chart show that the calculation of the Progressed Birthday was made to the degree, minute and second of longitude for the transiting Sun. (6)


Blaschke, Pr SR

The Progressed Solar Return is every bit as relevant each year as the standard Solar Return. In fact, for sensitive souls, after the age of thirty, this Progressed Birthday horoscope may even be more accurate than the chart calculated at the birthday. In the case of your correspondent, the rising degree was exactly conjunct his Pluto during a year with death knocking on his door; the Moon was exactly conjunct his natal Sun, and a Sun-Venus superior conjunction occurred in a year when his fiancée returns; and retirement is clearly seen in this chart with a 12th house Mars. An angular Neptune is on the Descendant, rather fitting for Carol and the sacrifices she has made to love a guy in my condition.

Tri-wheel 2011

Looking ahead, 57 days after my birthday today brings us to January 11, 2011. On that day, the transit Sun will conjoin my secondary progressed Sun, a day later than last year because I am one year older. The ruler of the Progressed Solar Return, an exalted Mars exactly conjunct my natal North Node, looks promising and with a Sun-Mars conjunction in the PSR 3rd house, Volume VI will perhaps get written.


(1) The Astrologer’s Astronomical Handbook; Jeff Mayo; L.N. Fowler & Co. Ltd.; 1965. After a period of 19 years, New and Full Moons recur on the same days of the year. The Metonic Cycle is 235 synodic lunar months, or 6939.69 days in length; exactly 19 years.

(2) Cycles of Becoming; 2nd Edition; Alexander Ruperti; Earthwalk School of Astrology; 2005.

(3) See the author’s Astrology: A Language of Life; Volume IV – Relationship Analysis for a more detailed analysis of this 8-year cycle.

(4)  With a Fallen Moon and a Venus in detriment, both in Scorpio, the fiancée and the daughter were concerned with his possible death.

(5) The Progressed Horoscope; Alan Leo; L.N. Fowler & Co. Ltd.; London; 1906.

(6) Some astrology software programs will calculate transit-to-progressed aspects; but only to the day and do not include the time. One has to manually calculate exactly when the transit Sun and the secondary progressed Sun both arrive at the same second of arc.

© 2010 Robert P. Blaschke

Mr Blaschke is author of the Astrology: A Language of Life series in five books: Progressions; Sabian Aspect Orbs; A Handbook for the Self-Employed Astrologer; Relationship Analysis; and Holographic Transits. His books and class, lecture and workshop CDs can be found at: Earthwalk Astrology.

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The 2010 Venus Rx Mid-term Elections

By Gary P. Caton | October 25, 2010

American politics has regularly scheduled elections, although this regularity has only been in place for the last hundred years or so. Congress introduced a universal Election Day in 1845, but 1914 was the first election year where all Senators were popularly elected. Since then, every two years (even-numbered years), we have had Federal elections on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Therefore, the earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest possible date is November 8. Astrologically, this puts the Sun between 9º-15º Scorpio, in the tropical zodiac.

Members of the House of Representatives serve a two-year term before facing an election. U.S. Senators serve six-year terms; however, their terms are staggered — every two years, about one-third of the Senate is elected. So, our President is elected every four years and our Congress holds elections every two years. This sets up a phenomenon known as “mid-term elections,” since they are Congressional elections near the midpoint of the four-year presidential term. Historically, these usually don’t turn out well for the party of the President; in the past 17 mid-term elections, the President’s party has lost an average of 28 seats in the House, and an average of four seats in the Senate. (1)

Astrologically, this mid-term phenomenon begins to make some sense when viewed through the lens of the synodic cycle of Venus. Because of a 13:8 resonance with Earth, Venus has one of the most regular cycles of any planet. She completes five synodic cycles in almost exactly eight calendar years, tracing a five-pointed star in the sky.

This means that every eight years Venus makes her retrograde conjunction with the Sun near the same degree of the zodiac. Furthermore, these conjunctions drift backward through the zodiac about 2.5 degrees every eight years, so after twelve conjunctions and 96 years, any particular arm of Venus’s five-pointed star will change zodiac signs. Since 1930 (and through 2026), one arm of the Venus star has resulted in retrograde conjunctions in the sign of Scorpio. This means that, for the last 80 years, one in four federal elections have been held with Venus retrograde. Since 1970, Venus’s retrograde conjunctions with the Sun have drifted into mid-Scorpio and, thus, have been very close to Election Day.

When understood as a visible phenomenon, Venus’s involvement with U.S. federal elections begins to make even more sense. While only one in four federal elections currently occur during Venus retrograde, half of them occur with Venus invisible. At the mid-point of her eight-year cycle, Venus makes a superior (e.g., direct) conjunction near the same degree as the retrograde conjunction four years earlier. When Venus is conjunct the Sun, either retrograde or direct, she is not visible in the sky — she is either passing in front of, or behind, the Sun and cannot be seen within the bright solar glare. At the mid-term elections this year Venus is invisible. (Venus retrograde is conjunct the Sun on October 28.)

Currently, the U.S. Presidential elections happen with Venus shining brightly — either as Morning Star in the sign of Libra, or as Evening Star in the sign of Sagittarius. Two years later, at the time of mid-term elections, Venus is close to one of her conjunctions with the Sun in Scorpio, unable to be seen. Thus, the brightest planet in the sky at the time when any President is elected becomes hidden when he faces mid-term elections. With the President’s party usually faring poorly in mid-terms, this visual disappearance of Venus every two years seems to correlate with the vagaries of voter opinion.

It is almost as if the American voting public suffers from a kind of “buyer’s remorse” and they decide to take back the support they gave only two short years ago. The upside of this is that it seems to activate the system of checks and balances the Founding Fathers put in place. It is not often that one party controls all three branches of government. The downside is that it provides an opportunity for a man, who once brazenly passed out money from Big Tobacco right on the floor of the House, to now possibly become the leading lawmaker in this country and third in line to the Presidency. (2) Yet, even the long dark shadow of corruption via corporate money in American politics makes sense in terms of Venus. Following the chain of dispositorships, any July 2 or 4 charts for the U.S. show Venus ruling Saturn in Libra, who then rules Pluto in Capricorn. In the Sibley chart, using whole sign houses, this is all happening in the financial houses: the 2nd, 8th, and 11th. Perhaps Venus’s retrograde intrusions on our election processes are here to teach us a lesson.


Recent polls have suggested that voters are more negative now about re-electing members of Congress than in the last five mid-terms, including the 1994 and 2006 elections, which saw dramatic shifts of power in both houses of Congress. (3) Mercury was retrograde at the 2006 election, and Mercury and Venus were conjunct the Sun in Scorpio. In 1994, the North Node of the Moon was conjunct the Sun, and Venus was retrograde in Scorpio, with Jupiter in Scorpio as well. The 1954 election saw a reversal in both the Senate and the House — a Democratic majority shift in the Senate, which would last until 1980, and in the House, which would last until 1994. In 1954, both Mercury and Venus were retrograde in Scorpio and Saturn was conjunct the Scorpio Sun. Astrologically speaking, it appears to this astrologer that if we were going to have a reversal in both houses of Congress, we would see more emphasis in Scorpio than we have this year. It is possible that the House may change to Republican control, but probably not the Senate.

Venus elections

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 DreamAstrologer

(1) Wikipedia
(2) New York Times
(3) Gallup

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Thoughts on Venus

By Mary Plumb | October 18, 2010

I’ve been thinking about Venus a lot lately. She has recently been at maximum brightness in the evening sky and stationed retrograde on October 8 at 13º14’ Scorpio. Venus will turn direct on November 18 at 27º39’ Libra. Her retrograde phase is coming to the midway point when she conjoins the Sun (at the inferior conjunction) on October 28 at 5º30’ Scorpio.

Deborah Houlding wrote an amazing article in the Feb./March 2010 issue of TMA, wherein she explains the cycles of Venus in great detail.

One of her many points is that modern astrologers consider her cycle to begin at the inferior conjunction (coming on October 28), but that early sky-watching astrologers would have seen her superior conjunction as beginning the cycle (which would have been January 11, 2010).

At either conjunction, when Venus is within a 17’ arc of the Sun, she is cazimi, which is Arabic for “in the heart of the Sun,” or being favored by the king. (1) I know very few people with this configuration. I spent time recently with someone who has natal Venus cazimi; my completely subjective experience was of being with a deeply open-hearted and generous person.

Oprah was born on a Friday, Venus’s day, and is a very famous example of natal Venus cazimi (more about her later.) (2)

Whether we consider the inferior or superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun as the beginning of the cycle, Venus has a very regular 8-year cycle that creates a pentagram, or 5-pointed star, in the sky. Just click below for a graphic showing the perfect geometry in her orbit around the Sun:

Venus synodic cycle

If we could see from above the earth (located at the center of this diagram), the pattern looks like this:

Venus rose pattern

(I believe that Neil Michelsen’s book, Tables of Planetary Phenomena, published by ACS in 1990, was the original source of this – and many other beautiful planetary mandalas.)

There has been a lot of fine work published on planets’ cycles with each other, i.e., synodic cycles, in recent years. Robert P. Blaschke’s work on planetary cycles (delineated in his 2006 book, Holographic Transits) opened a new world to me in understanding cycles. I’ve heard him lecture on the subject several times and have read his book, but it may take me a lifetime to hold it in mind as deeply as Robert does.

In a recent TMA blog Robert writes on long-term cycles of Venus and Mars.

Nick Dagan Best is another astrologer teaching on synodic cycles. He has a lecture posted on You Tube on Venus and Mars Retrograde Cycles.

TMA guest blogger Gary Caton also understands synodic cycles and explains them clearly in his analysis.

And lest it get lost forever in the blog archives, let me also refer you back to Adam Gainsburg’s unique and beautiful take on the Venus (and Mars) synodic cycles. Here are links to his two-part series from December 2009 and January 2010

Along with this broader view of Venus’s cycles around the Sun, there are lots of ways to notice Venus’s activities in our lives — from financial affairs to personal matters of the heart. Aside from her ongoing flirtations, trysts, and dalliances with Mars (Venus and Mars are both in Scorpio now and were conjunct on October 3 at 13º), Venus in Scorpio can be seen as relating to economic conditions that impact our shared financial outlook.

Much has been written about the ongoing U.S. financial woes. Astrological signatures abound. For a few examples of current aspects to the U.S. Sibly horoscope: transiting Pluto (3º05’ Capricorn) opposite natal Venus (3º06’ Cancer), ruler of the 10th house of the national reputation; transiting South Node, now at 5º Cancer conjunct U.S. Jupiter at 5º56’, ruler of the Sagittarius Ascendant; transiting Neptune at 26º02’ Aquarius conjunct the U.S. Moon (27º10’), ruler of the 8th; the upcoming U.S. Saturn (ruler of the 2nd house of the nation’s assets) return, partile three times from December 2010 through August 2011. There was also a total solar eclipse at 25º01’ Capricorn in January 2010, directly on the U.S. (2nd house) Pluto (27º33’) and Mr. Obama’s natal Saturn (25º20’).

Economics professor Robert H. Frank wrote an article yesterday on the ongoing, ever exacerbating unequal distribution of wealth, which clearly ties two Venus-in-Scorpio themes together, i.e., finances and relationships. “Divorce rates are another reliable indicator of financial distress, as marriage counselors report that a high proportion of couples they see are experiencing significant financial problems. The counties with the biggest increases in inequality also reported the largest increases in divorce rates.” (3)

But wait! I just noticed, not only is transiting Neptune on the U.S. Moon, but the U.S. progressed Moon is 26º07’ Virgo, conjunct progressed Neptune at 26º16’ Virgo. (4)

Maybe we really are ready for a new political media star! Here’s where Oprah comes in again: She did join Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart this week in their joint Rally to Restore Sanity/and/or Fear to America. And she looked larger than life as she beamed in from the satellite to give everybody tickets to get to Washington on October 30.

Not only was Oprah born with the rare Venus cazimi, but Neptune is also at the bending in her natal chart, i.e., square the nodal axis.

Oprah natal

If her birth time is correct, her progressed Moon at 29º55’ Sag is conjunct the natal Ascendant (29º38’), and her progressed Ascendant (4º43’ Pisces) is conjunct the natal Part of Fortune (4º06’Pisces).  (How much more famous can she get?)

Oprah natal & progressed
Four degrees Pisces is, coincidentally, the degree of Jon Stewart’s natal Jupiter and Stephen Colbert’s natal Saturn. Now that’s a team I could get behind. (5)


(1) “As astrologer John Frawley has explained…. cazimi, being right in the heart of the sun, is like being allowed into the very throne room or private chambers of a great king. This is the fortunate position of being highly favored by the sun, like a king who brings only a select few into his private chambers and bestows wealth and privilege upon them and listens to their deepest concerns with a mindset to help them.”

(2) I was first alerted to Oprah’s Venus cazimi by Edith G. Thayer in her book, Stars Over America (2000).
Data: Oprah Winfrey; January 29, 1954; 4:30 a.m.; Kosciusko, Mississippi (32ºN53′, 89ºW35’)
For years astrologers used 2:30 a.m. (or 7:50 p.m.) for Oprah’s birth time, but according to AstroDataBank, this time of 4:30 a.m. was verified by astrologer Robert Marks when he appeared on her show in 1988.
“In October 2006, Bob Marks wrote in the NCGR e-newsletter (October 8, 2006, vol 32): ‘I was on Oprah’s show in May 1988. Oprah’s producer, Diane Hudson, gave me the birth data. Oprah was born at 4:30 a.m., not 2:30. I confirmed this birth time with Oprah herself after the show. Oprah said that nobody knows for sure, but this time is what she was always told.’ “

(3) New York Times

(4) For a darker look at the implications of the U.S. public fixation with the media, check out Chris Hedges’s column Retribution for a World Lost in Screens.

(5) No birth times are known: Jon Stewart: November 28, 1962; N.Y., N.Y.; Stephen Colbert: May 13, 1964, Washington, D.C.
Source: Wikipedia: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

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Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

By Mary Plumb | October 4, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, CEO, and President of Facebook, was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York. (1)

I read an article in The New Yorker about him and just saw The Social Network, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. (2) The movie is based on a book (i.e., The Accidental Billionaires) that is, at least in part, fictionalized.

Since there is no known birth time as yet, I’ll look at Mark Zuckerberg’s sunrise chart.

Mark Zuckerberg, sunriseI’m just going to make a few observations about his business success from his solar horoscope, although the movie has a lot to say about his personal life (i.e., romantic and professional relationships). And with a strong Taurus/Scorpio dynamic in the natal, as well as six retrograde planets, there’s obviously a lot of material there to speculate upon.

A Taurus Sun, Zuckerberg was born on a Monday, the Moon’s day, and the transiting Moon was in Scorpio all that day. (3)

He has natal Uranus conjunct the South Node in Sagittarius and Chiron conjunct the North Node in Gemini. On his Facebook page, under Personal Interests, he writes: “openness, making things that help people connect and share what’s important to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism.” (4) He has also said: “hacking isn’t about ‘breaking and entering,’ it’s about ‘being unafraid to break things in order to make them better.’ “ (5) I think these words suggest those aspects, which stand along with the complex and private themes in the chart signified by his four Scorpio planets.

Facebook started on February 4, 2004, with transiting Neptune at 13º Aquarius conjunct the Sun at 15º Aquarius (15º of the fixed signs are on the Aries Point).

FacebookThis certainly is a strong signature for capturing the zeitgeist or spirit of the time in a way that would have global implications. The Sun also gains prominence in its position at the bending, square the nodal axis at 16º Taurus/Scorpio.

The Moon, sensitive to the mood of the public, was in rulership in Cancer most of the day of the FB launch. At about 8 p.m., the Moon moved into Leo, picking up a different kind of prominence and strength as it approached the Full Moon at 17º Leo on February 6.

The Facebook launch occurred during a period of eclipse activity to Zuckerberg’s natal horoscope. His natal Venus is very strongly placed in Taurus and on the Aries Point. (On his birthday, Venus traveled between 14º43’ – 15º56’ Taurus.) Talk about an ability to attract wealth! (6) And, with natal Pluto, Saturn, Moon, and Mars in Scorpio, a penchant for attracting powerful opposition as well.

As mentioned above, the lunar nodes were in Taurus/Scorpio at the launch of Facebook. Zuckerberg’s natal Venus (and Mars) was triggered by the lunar eclipse at 16º15’ Taurus on November 9, 2003. (Natal Mars is retrograde at 19º Scorpio.)

The next eclipse season was in spring 2004. On April 19, a solar eclipse at 29º49’ Aries was conjunct his natal Mercury at 29º05’ Aries. (On his birthday, Mercury traveled from 29º05’ to 29º44’.) And, on May 4, 2004, a lunar eclipse at 14º39’ Taurus again fell on his natal Venus-Mars opposition.

There are several exact sextile aspects in the natal chart, suggesting a tremendously focused intent: Saturn (12º15’ Scorpio) is exactly sextile Jupiter (12º38’ Capricorn), and Pluto (0º06’ Scorpio) is exactly sextile Neptune (0º59’ Capricorn).

Mark Zuckerberg is a key player in a fascinating cultural phenomenon. Aaron Sorkin, the screenplay writer for The Social Network, said in an interview that this is “a classical story of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and jealousy.” (7) Sounds like a list of keywords for the Taurus/Scorpio axis, doesn’t it?

(1) Birth date and all biographical material from Wikipedia

(2) The New Yorker

(3) The Moon traveled from 10º – 24º Scorpio on May 14.

(4) Facebook

(5) As quoted on Wikipedia, from an article, “Geek Power: Steven Levy Revisits Tech Titans, Hackers, Idealists,” which appeared in Wired magazine in April 2010.

(6) His net worth in 2010 is listed as $6.9 billion.

(7) The New Yorker

Chart data:
Chart 1: Mark Zuckerberg, May 14, 1984, White Plains, New York, Sunrise chart

Chart 2: Facebook launch: February 4, 2004, Boston, MA, Sunrise chart

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Chiron and Neptune

By Mary Plumb | September 27, 2010

What a strange few days it has been.

I was thinking about a topic for this blog and Neptune and Chiron kept coming into my mind. Although their ongoing conjunction is in orb between 2008 – 2011, they are now both retrograde at 27º Aquarius. Since Chiron was only discovered in 1977, this is the first series of conjunctions we’ve had the opportunity to experience.

In my personal life, the presence of these planets has been strong: These last few days I’ve been contemplating impermanence, as an old family friend is in a coma and near death.

I also have someone in my close extended family with 27º Aquarius on the Ascendant. She has Neptune conjunct the Midheaven in the natal chart — unsurprisingly, she has dealt with addictions, but the deeper issue may be about acknowledging and grounding her spiritual gifts and heightened sensitivities.

She is in a powerful moment in her healing journey now as the wounded healer is on the Ascendant  — the wisest of the centaurs has come right to her awareness and into her life directly. Chiron conjunct Neptune is so literal in this case: healing her natal Neptune. Neptune has heretofore been difficult for her, as it can be for all of us. This is a multidimensional process — subtle, powerful, potentially life changing, and also very delicate. I can feel the presence of the invisible worlds around her. Chiron is also the shaman, the bridger of worlds; she is surrounded now by people who can guide and hold her into a new state of being.

So, I knew I was being drawn to the archetypes of Chiron and Neptune in my personal life, and I wanted to try to find examples from the global sphere to capture this illusive pair. I knew I was feeling this combination, but putting it into coherent words is another matter.

I had a few obvious ideas as a starting point: The Moon, of course, signifies the public in a national horoscope, and the U.S. Sibly Moon is 27º Aquarius, so somehow the U.S. public is experiencing a long spell of confusion. We are symbolically going through an extended healing crisis. Everyone is feeling confused and that we’ve lost our way — the Tea Partiers, the progressives, all of us on “main street” are feeling some version of anxiety and lack of direction. The latest wave of home foreclosures is a sign of the basic insecurity that people across the nation are experiencing.

President Obama’s South Node is at 27º Aquarius; he is going through some sort of (temporary) diminishment or loss of energy and we are all feeling something similar.

A politically-minded friend (not an astrologer) described her sense of disillusionment with the president yesterday. She said, “What seemed at first like the triumph of the little guy has started to feel like the slickest move yet.”

Transiting Neptune and Chiron on the national Moon: We are all somehow delicate and easily wounded. I was thinking about all of this on Sunday as I took my usual walk (too late to swim) at the lake. (The lake! Ah Neptune, who doesn’t love to be by large bodies of water?)

I was in some sort of Chiron-Neptune trance for my walk. It was an exquisite day and the air felt still and perfect.  When I got back to the car, it had been broken into and my purse had been stolen. Quite a lot of cash, credit cards, my Rescue Remedy, etc — all the necessities of modern life.

It took awhile for me to register what had happened. I went through the necessary motions of calling the police and canceling the cards. But my mind had been so far away, in contemplation of greater matters (i.e., thinking about Neptune and Chiron and feeling connected to my friends in their acute healing crises), that it took until this morning to notice that I was in a bit of shock. I was vulnerable. I had been violated and wounded (Chiron). My boundaries were too porous (Neptune).

Transiting Saturn is strong now, too; at 7º Libra, it is at the bending, that is, squaring the nodal axis, now at 7º Cancer and Capricorn. A planet square the nodes is at a critical point and must be integrated into our awareness. With Saturn, we have to look at our own responsibility for what is happening. In this car episode, I have to wonder why I was so foolish as to leave a crack in the window and so much cash in the car?

As I was writing this, a friend called to tell me about an acute violation. A clear agreement in her closest partnership had been broken and she is dealing with a deep sense of betrayal and renegotiation of boundaries. (Again, Chiron wounds and Neptune allows permeability.)

True to this pair, I’m not sure what my main point is here in this blog. I do have a sense that what I was thinking about is also arising in my life, and that it is somehow connected to the magical boundary-less display I can associate with Chiron and Neptune. Although I wanted to focus on examples of Chiron and Neptune in the broader sphere of world events, somehow it all got very personal and close at hand.

As another astrological note, I have the South Node conjunct my solar return Ascendant (19º25’ Cancer) this year. This is the degree of the total solar eclipse on July 11 at 19º23’, so the experience of loss suggested by the South Node is an ongoing theme for me this year.

I’m glad the Moon is in Taurus today and I have no clients. I need to tend to the practical matters of getting a new wallet, driver’s license, etc.

I’ll look forward to your comments and insights.

Have a good week, one and all.

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South of the Border

By Audra Stenger | September 13, 2010

A third mayor in less than a month has been assassinated in Mexico. (1) This act has come on the heels of a gubernatorial candidate also being assassinated this June. (2) These political killings are on top of the estimated 28,000 murders of civilians in the past four years due to the war on drugs. When I pause to think about that number, I realize that it is about the same as the population of the town I live in. (3) The president of Mexico and other politicians are seriously considering legalizing drugs because they believe that all anti-drug policies have failed. They are looking at the success of nations that have decriminalized drugs, such as those in Europe, for their inspiration.

Most of us here in the United States  cannot really imagine what daily life is like south of the border. The last time political candidates were assassinated here was nearly fifty years ago during the turbulent 60’s. What is going on astrologically for Mexico? The current t-square.

According to Nick Campion’s The Book of World Horoscopes, Mexican astrologer’s use an independence chart set for September 28, 1821, at 6:00 pm. (4) Let’s take a look at the chart and then a bi-wheel chart with the current planetary transits.

Mexico horoscope

Mexico’s radix chart has a t-square between the Sun at 5° Libra, opposed by Pluto at 28° Pisces, squared by Uranus conjunct Neptune conjunct the MC (29° Sagittarius 0° Capricorn, and 6° Capricorn, respectively). The current alignment of Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto in a t-square is aligned directly on Mexico’s radix t-square, indicating a very difficult time period indeed.

In mundane astrology, the Sun represents the ruler of a nation, national character, and major events. In Libra, we can see Mexico’s leaders as nice guys, always trying to make peace, but especially trying to avoid conflict. Pluto represents dictators, the underworld of organized crime, death, financial and political power. In Pisces, we can see that a national collective obsession to avoid the criminal element by diving into the spiritual waters of their own unique blend of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs. We also see that religion (Pisces), i.e., the Catholic Church, is also the power (Pluto) there. Neptune rules drugs, ineffectiveness, covert actions, fraud and scandal. In Capricorn, drugs become big business. Uranus represents revolutions, as well as progressive to radical movements. In Sagittarius, Uranus represents the high idealism of revolution, but also the lack of long-term planning that plagues a country without sound infrastructure or social services.

Neptune and Uranus conjunct the MC, which represents the government itself, shows the marked tendency for Mexico’s government to be stricken with inefficacy and sudden swings in policy. Uranus is the ruler of Mexico’s 11th house, which represents the legislature. Being conjunct Neptune, the legislature faces the same conundrum as the leader: it is lost in the Neptune fog of idealism, failing to use resources and rule effectively.

Mexico’s Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct and nothing says big bureaucracy better than that! Trined by the Neptune-Uranus conjunction, there is probably a lot of talk about things changing, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Neptune-Uranus conjunction of their revolution must have led more than a few people to wonder, after it was all said and done, what really changed? This conjunction causes whatever progressive ideas and policies that could help the poor and needy to evaporate into nothing in the heat of a siesta.

Mexico & transitsLooking at the bi-wheel, with the current alignment of planets, we see that transiting Saturn is conjunct Mexico’s Sun, indicating an immense stress level, with pressure from all sides and the feeling that there is no way out. Mexico’s Sun is also opposed by transiting Uranus (and Jupiter), which have been conjunct Mexico’s radix Pluto. The criminal gangs and mafia (Pluto) in Mexico have had a huge (Jupiter) and unexpected (Uranus) killing spree (Pluto) of political candidates and office holders (Sun).

Mexico’s radix Uranus-Neptune conjunction has been transited by Pluto, which is now poised to cross over Mexico’s MC. Again, Pluto, symbolizing the criminal underworld, has begun to do business in a radically new way — using car bombs (Uranus) to keep their drug money coming (Neptune) and to increase their power (Pluto). The criminal gangs have, for all intents and purposes, taken over the government (conjunct MC and Uranus, which rules the 11th house of the legislature).

But there is hope. Perhaps the current president and government will do something radical to destroy the criminal underworld. With transiting Uranus conjunct radix Pluto, decriminalization of drugs could very well be the solution. Doubly so with transiting Pluto on Mexico’s MC. At first, there could appear to be a complete destruction of the government, yet from the ashes the phoenix will rise. Transiting Saturn on the radix Sun will, hopefully, provide enough support for the president to implement new laws to tackle this horrific criminal war on the peoples of his nation.

This article is just a brief peak at Mexico’s radix chart and current transits. Here in the United States, we have our own issues with the current transiting t-square — governmental bureaucracy, corruption,  and high death rates due to violence and lack of social services. Let us pray that our brothers and sisters to the south (whose former land many of us now live on) can find a way through these trying times and create a country that is safe and prosperous for all. And may we here in the U.S. be able to do the same.

Copyright Audra B. Stenger. 2010 All Rights Reserved.


(4) The Book of World Horoscopes, Nick Campion, The Wessex Astrologer Ltd.,  2004, pp. 210-211.

Audra Stenger started in astrology more than 14 years ago while working as a paramedic. She has a bachelor’s degree as a Physician’s Assistant and has passed Level 1 testing for NCGR. Audra employs a variety of techniques in her consultations including Vedic, Medieval, and modern. She also offers a free monthly astrology newsletter. Her website is She can be contacted via e-mail:

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Laughter Yoga

By Mary Plumb | September 6, 2010

Maybe because it’s Labor Day and I’m thinking about all the people I know who are out of work,

Maybe because I had a conversation with an old friend this week whose time in this world is drawing to an end,

Maybe it was seeing at all the funny glyphoids Tem has posted on our Facebook page (and how many of you are responding to them!),

Maybe it was that my dear cat, Zellie, died last week,

Maybe it’s because my face is covered with poison oak and (as Saturn gets ready to cross my 1st house ruler) I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll have permanent scars,

Maybe it’s the jovial one, Jupiter, about to slide back into Pisces (on Thursday),

But, somehow, I thought I found something really great. Maybe I’m the last one to hear about Laughter Yoga but I just read about it in The New Yorker magazine and laughed my head off while reading it. (I know laughing is good for you!) It was started by Dr. Madan Kataria, (“the Guru of Giggling”) a medical doctor from Mumbai, India.

Here’s a link to a video about the New Yorker article.

And, the official Laughter Yoga site (Global Movement for Health, Joy and World Peace)

Have fun everyone, and have a safe holiday and a good week.

Mary Plumb and the TMA staff

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The Tillman Story

By Mary Plumb | August 23, 2010

Pat Tillman was a professional football player before serving as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was tragically killed by “friendly fire” in 2004. A documentary, The Tillman Story, was released nationwide on August 20, 2010. It tells of the cover-up about the details of his death and his family’s determination to understand what really happened to their son.

Tillman was born on November 6, 1976, several hours before a lunar eclipse at 14°41′ Taurus.

Pat Tillman natal

He died on April 22, 2004, two weeks before a total lunar eclipse on May 4 at 14°42′ Scorpio.

Pat Tillman

The fixed signs at 15° are connected to 0° Aries, the potent Aries Point, by an eighth-harmonic aspect of 45°. The Aries Point brings an individual into public awareness or shows what that person is known for in the world. [1]

Looking at midpoints in Tillman’s natal horoscope, not only is the natal Sun (14°27′ Scorpio) on the Aries Point, indicating a heroic (solar) role in the public eye, but the Sun is also on his Ascendant/Midheaven midpoint, which connects the two most important angles in the horoscope. (On the 45° dial, his Ascendant/Midheaven midpoint is the closest to the Aries Point, further indicating its prominence in the horoscope.)

45 Sort

This midpoint (AS/MC) symbolizes the linking of the personality (Ascendant) with what we show the world in public life (Midheaven). The Sun conjunct this most significant midpoint suggests a person whose life purpose and unique creative drive (Sun) seek expression through the synergy of the personal (Ascendant) and public (Midheaven) identity. This midpoint picture is a strong indication of fame, or of someone whose life touches many.

Tillman was a renowned professional athlete when he enlisted in the Army in 2002. A member of an elite infantry unit, he served in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed on April 22, 2004. At the time of his death, his progressed Sun, at 12°10′ Sagittarius, had come to a conjunction with his 12th-house natal Neptune at 12°38′ Sagittarius. This is also conjunct the U.S. (Sibly) Ascendant at 12°21′ Sagittarius.

Tillman tri-wheel

A sad story indeed — the nation as a whole (the Ascendant) was touched by the loss (Neptune) of a hero (Sun). A Neptunian theme is further shown by the distorted story told to Tillman’s family about the conditions surrounding his death.

At Tillman’s death, his progressed Moon, ruler of the 8th house, was at 14°13′ Taurus, opposite the natal Sun at 14°27′ Scorpio. On that day, transiting Mars was at 20°38′ Gemini conjunct his Descendant, which is also conjunct the U.S. Mars (21°23′ Gemini). The Moon was in Gemini (6°52′) at Tillman’s death as well; his brother Kevin, who had enlisted in the army along with Pat, was riding in a vehicle not far away when Pat was killed.

Tillman tri-wheel

The U.S. Sibly horoscope has a square between angular Mars and Neptune, suggesting confusion or obfuscation (Neptune) in battle (Mars). At Pat Tillman’s death, his natal horoscope and transits aligned directly with this aspect in the nation’s chart. The capacities inherent in his life (i.e., his natal chart) and the time of his death converge with a key dilemma (i.e., Mars square Neptune) in the national psyche; thus, his story has a continuing hold on the nation’s consciousness.

Following on the Neptune theme, The Tillman Story opened nationally on August 20, 2010. The Sun was at 27° Leo, opposite Neptune at 27°Aquarius, the degree of the U.S. Sibly Moon. (Transiting Chiron was at 28° Aquarius.)

Whenever I read or think about current U.S. war stories, strategies, and statistics, I remember Robert Blaschke noting that the Sibly Mars in Libra went retrograde in 2006. As Robert has noted, this suggests that a re-evaluation of U.S. military policy might be a good idea.

The New York Times review of the film describes a lot about Pat Tillman and his family. “The Tillman family — especially Mary, Kevin, and Tillman’s widow, Marie — emerge as noble souls still choking on their rage and frustration. Kevin, who had not spoken publicly of his brother’s death, is seen reading a bitter, excoriating statement at the hearing. This devastating film persuasively portrays them as finer, more morally sturdy people than the cynical chain of command that lied to them and used their son as a propaganda tool.” [2] (Propaganda is another theme tied to Neptune.)

(This blog is based on a TMA Planet Tracks article I wrote in 2007; since the film just came out, I thought a revision might be interesting.)

References and Notes

[1] Jessica Lynch is another infamous soldier in our time. I wrote about her for TMA in 2003: “U.S. Army private Lynch was born on April 26, 1983. Her natal Mars is at 15°21′ Taurus, on the Aries Point. Could there be a clearer picture of a famous female soldier (i.e., Mars in a feminine sign)? Natal Mars is also directly on Lynch’s natal Sun/Chiron midpoint, suggesting that a wound or healing is part of her personal warrior archetype.”

Jessica Lynch’s birth data: April 26, 1983; 7:45 a.m. EDT; Palestine (Wirt County), WV, USA (39°N02′, 81°W24′); A: news report

Jessica Lynch testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on April 24, 2007, the same day that Kevin Tillman spoke. She said: “I hope whatever comes out of this hearing will be good news for the Tillmans,” Lynch said in her prepared statement. “This is more about them than it is about me. The Tillmans have been lied to so many times, it’s hard to tell what took place….Our stories are similar,” she added. The military “either didn’t take the time to tell the truth or find out what really happened.”

[2] New York Times


Chart 1: Pat Tillman, November 6, 1976; 9:39 a.m. PST; Fremont, CA, USA (37°N32′, 121°W59′); AA: Pat Taglilatelo quotes birth certificate in hand.

Chart 2: Pat Tillman’s death, April 22, 2004; 7:30 p.m. AFT; Khowst, Afghanistan (33°N22′, 69°E57′); from news reports, quoted on AstroDatabank: “Tillman was killed that day near Sperah, Afghanistan (about 26 miles southwest of Khowst) at about 7:30 PM local time.”

Chart 4: Tri-wheel: Inner wheel and house cusps: Pat Tillman, natal; middle wheel: Tillman’s chart progressed to April 22, 2004; outer wheel: U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776; 5:10 p.m. LMT; Philadelphia, PA, USA (39°N57′, 75°W10′); Source: Nicholas Campion, Book of World Horoscopes, Chart 370.

Chart 5: Tri-wheel: Inner wheel and house cusps: Pat Tillman, natal; middle wheel: Tillman’s chart progressed to April 22, 2004; outer wheel: April 22, 2004; 7:30 p.m.; Khowst, Afghanistan

TMA writer Mary Plumb is available for private consultations. She can be reached at

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Julian Assange: No Secrets

By Mary Plumb | August 2, 2010

The publication on July 25 of the Afghan War Diary by WikiLeaks occurred within one day of Saturn’s last opposition to Uranus (exact on the 26th). A truly non-mainstrem media, WikiLeaks is based in Sweden, in part, at least, because the laws there protect journalistic sources. The leaking of the 90,000 documents of internal U.S. military logs of the War in Afghanistan can be seen as Uranus; the subsequent search for (and, presumably, punishment of) those responsible for the leaks can be seen as falling within Saturn’s province.

Aside from the evidence of possible war crimes, including details of the actual numbers of civilian casualties and targeted assassinations, the documents speak to the confusion of aims and alliances in the war effort.  

Not only is this war the longest in U.S. history, but July has been the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces. The planet of war, Mars (in detriment), and the planet of accounts payable, Saturn (in exaltation), conjunct on July 31 at 1° Libra, announced this grim tally of death. Peace activists hail the documents as having importance in turning public opinion against the war. Certainly the timing suggests that it will have an impact, and maybe one day, we will look back on it as a significant step to ending the war.

(Some have likened this publishing of classified documents to the Pentagon Papers, published in 1971 in the New York Times. Daniel Ellsburg, subject of the new documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America, leaked the papers, which many feel began to turn the public against the Vietnam War.)

Whatever the political or ethical judgment one might have about the situation, WikiLeaks is a striking display of an opening (Uranus) of controlled information (Saturn); or exposure (Uranus) of information against the will of the status quo (Saturn). Jupiter is conjunct Uranus and this is the biggest leak in intelligence history. (Pluto, symbol of concentrated power, is agitating all three planets from very close by.)

I saw an interview with WikiLeaks spokesperson Julian Assange on July 28. (1) This week, as Mars conjuncts Saturn and both oppose Uranus and Jupiter, he could have been reading from an astrologer’s notebook. He said that everybody knows there are no simple solutions to the war, but  “maybe now is the time for ‘restructuring the war’ in Afghanistan.”

When asked about the leaked documents being a “threat to national security,” Assange turned that back to the question of what we actually mean when we talk about national security.

And, yes, he agreed, all organizations (Saturn) are “alarmed” (Uranus) by what we (i.e., WikiLeaks) release; he calmly said, “that is true.”  

He also said he keeps going and stays hopeful because of the “people from inside organizations who want change.” Maybe that’s a good way to summarize this complex interchange of planetary energies. I’m going to try that as a motto: keep going for change, even from the darkest, most hidden or scared places in my mind and memory. Just keep relaxing, breathing, and not resisting the profoundly changing life currents suggested by this confluence of planetary aspects.

I have a personal story about Saturn and Mars. Usually, I have a fairly brisk pace when I walk to yoga class; I like to get moving in the mornings. But on Saturday morning, after awhile, I noticed how slowly I was walking. I felt like I was crawling in slow motion the short distance from my house to class. I really did wonder, “What is going on with me? I feel like there’s lead in my body.” The class was slow and steady, and I mentioned to a friend afterwards that I had felt particularly sluggish and tired and appreciated the slow pace of the class. She surprised me by saying that she felt the same, in fact, she thought everyone was tired and moving slowly. If you haven’t guessed where I’m going with this, later that day I remembered Saturn was exactly conjunct Mars that morning.

Here’s to Saturn and Mars — moving us all through time and space at just the right pace.


(1) Julian Assange – now there’s a fellow whose horoscope I’d like to see. He was born in 1971, so all we know for certain is that he has Uranus in Libra and Neptune in Sagittarius. Here’s a fascinating article about him from The New Yorker magazine: No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency.

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