TMA This Week

Elizabeth Warren

By Mary Plumb | May 26, 2014

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was born on June 22, 1949 in Oklahoma City, OK (1).

If you don’t know much about her, the Wikipedia entry is a place to start, which includes her famous remarks at the 2012 Democratic Convention: “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged.”

I haven’t followed many politicians lately but Elizabeth Warren has stood out. Thanks to Kate Petty, who used Warren’s chart in her demonstration of solstice points in her recent, wonderful talk to our local NCGR chapter.

Warren’s birth time is unknown but there are some things we can see by using a sunrise chart. (The Moon was in Taurus all day.)

Elizabeth Warren, sunrise chart

I am going to note some midpoints in her sunrise horoscope; since the time is unknown, I’ll just point out a few midpoints that would have been in effect all day — no angles or the Moon are used. The quotes are all from Reinhold Ebertin’s The Combination of Stellar Influences. (These midpoints are visible on the 90° or 45° dial.)

Jupiter/Saturn = Pluto. “A person unafraid of any trouble or work in order to attain the desired aims slowly but surely, the demonstration of immense effort.”

Sun/Uranus  = Pluto. “A radical reformer, the desire to rearrange things.”

Uranus/Pluto = NN. “An untiring colleague, a continually active partner. The desire to accomplish immense tasks in team-work with others, the experience of sharing upsets or excitement with others.”

Sun/Pluto = Mars. “The desire to perform record achievements, over-exertion or overtaxing one’s powers, ruthlessness. The tendency to work to the point of a physical breakdown.”

Mars = NN (i.e., Mars is 45° from the North Node). “The desire to cooperate with others, comradeship and team spirit, a social conscience….Associations of people working together to a common end or purpose.”

Mars is emphasized by being connected to so many midpoints. It is also conjunct the fixed star Aldebaran, one of the four Royal Stars of Persia. Bernadette Brady has connected Aldebaran to success reliant on one’s integrity. She quotes Ebertin as saying the star  “gives great energy and that the person influenced by it can achieve many things but will make enemies.” (Anyone following her career will know this to be true.)  (2)

Of further note in terms of Warren’s popular appeal: the Sun and Venus are exactly parallel, increasing their connection. Uranus and Pluto are very close to exactly parallel as well, though this was an aspect that occurred for a longer time in the sky. (The Sun and Venus 23N26; Uranus is 23N39 and Pluto is 23N40.) As Kate demonstrated in her talk, the Sun and Uranus being precisely on the solstice point (i.e., Aries Point) brings this whole combination of influences strongly into the public eye.

The Full Moon eclipses in October 2013 and April 2014 have triggered her natal nodal axis. Her newest book, A Fighting Chance, was published a few days after the April 15 lunar eclipse.

Here are a few reviews which include discussion of her policy ideas.
The New York Review of Books

The New Yorker

May she be well and prosper.

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Bernadette Brady, The Book of Fixed Stars, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998,  pg. 231.

Note: For anyone interested in midpoints, here is an article I wrote last year on Oscar Pistorius.

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Where is Russia Headed?

By Gary P. Caton | April 28, 2014

Due to the presence of the t-square between Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto, astrologers had been worrying about the 2014 chart of the Aries Ingress for some time, long before the calendar year began. On March 3, 2014, Robert Hand gave form to these concerns by noting the correspondence of the angularity of these planets at the time of the Ingress, and the geographical regions where socio-political unrest was already brewing. At the time of the Ingress, Jupiter and Pluto were rising and setting near Washington, and on the MC and IC near Kiev, and Uranus was setting over Moscow. In summary, Hand wrote: “this coinciding of Jupiter-Pluto lines with both Washington and Kiev links the two places and, since Uranus is involved as well, makes the entire t-square active in both regions.” (1) Now, with retrograde Mars having joined the trio, and the Cardinal Grand Cross event behind us, we are left to wonder what exactly will become of the escalating tensions between these countries. A full-scale military confrontation is the worst-case scenario; the main question on many people’s minds is whether Russia will invade Ukraine any time soon.

I use a chart for Russia similar to one used by Adrian Ross Duncan, but set for December 25, 1991 at 7:35 p.m., the moment the CIA tells us the new flag was raised over the Kremlin in Moscow. (2) The following chart shows this horoscope on the inner wheel with transits for April 25, 2014 on the outside.

Inner wheel: Dec. 25, 1991; 7:35 p.m.; Moscow, Russia
Outer wheel: transits April 25, 2014

We can see that the April 25 superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun at 5° Taurus occurred right near the MC of this chart — and in a very close square to Saturn at 5° Aquarius. This time frame also correlates to a complete breakdown in diplomatic communications between the U.S. and Russia, as well as a decision by the G7 countries to pursue more sanctions against Russian interests. (3) Since the MC symbolizes leaders and national reputation and the 7th house is both business partners and “open enemies,” it appears, from the quick moving trigger of the superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun, that this chart for Russia so far works well.

Since my last blog for TMA was about the roles of Mercury and Pallas Athene in the Cardinal Grand Cross, it didn’t escape my attention that Pallas stationed direct at 25° Leo on April 7, in conjunction to the Ascendant of this chart for Russia. (4) I find it extremely symbolically apropos that we have a supposedly “minor” astrological archetype associated with the strategic aspects of war (asteroid Pallas Athene) activating the Ascendant of the Russian chart at the same time that they are involved in a series of highly complex machinations regarding the seemingly “minor” country of Ukraine. Some see Ukraine as a pawn in the “New Great Game” — a competition between the U.S. and NATO against Russia for influence in central Asia. (5) It is precisely the complex nature of such a political chess game that makes some see it unlikely for Russia to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (6) It may be that all this bluster from Russia is simply a blocking and/or a delaying tactic designed to keep the scheduled elections for May 25 from happening and thus continuing to deny legitimacy to the Ukraine government in Kiev. (7)

On that note it is interesting to consider another seemingly minor astrological factor that is creeping into a stationary conjunction with the Leo Ascendant for this chart of Russia. On April 27 the True Black Moon Lilith will station retrograde at 22° Leo. Since the chart we are using for Russia contains a conjunction between the Sun and the True Black Moon, this may not be a minor factor at all, and may go a long way toward explaining what is going on here. Kelley Hunter describes Black Moon Lilith as “an emotional intelligence informed by the wisdom of earthy instinct.” (8) It seems that Putin views the expansion of NATO into former Warsaw Pact nations as a broken promise, and is determined that it will proceed no further. (9)

In the short term, the final thing to note is one other station. The direct station of Mars, at 9° Libra on May 19, is very closely square to the Nodes in this Russian chart, at the South Bending. This could represent a re-connection with one’s deep ancestral roots, making this a very formative time in the evolution of this country. However, as it is the point where the Moon dives its deepest below the ecliptic, the South Bending is not strongly indicative of major outward manifestations. In my view, transit Mars stationing direct at the South Bending does not portend a major military event, such as an invasion.

In the long term, as Uranus forms the opening square to the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the national chart, we definitely see a nation at an important crossroads. It seems to some that perhaps Putin feels Russia needs to break free of identities imposed from the outside, to find its own true identity and move toward a Eurasian Union. (10) But since illusory Neptune is transiting the 8th house and the midpoint between the natal Sun/Black Moon Lilith/North Node conjunction and the MC, we may not be able to pin down the ideology that is behind these radical movements for some time to come.

References & recommended reading:

(1) Robert Hand’s public Facebook page

(2) World of Wisdom
“On Christmas Day 1991, at 7:35 p.m., the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian banner.”
CIA Library

(3) The Daily Beast
Washington Post

(4) The Roles of Pallas Athene and Mercury in the Cardinal Grand Cross by Gary P. Caton

(5) Business Week
Wikipedia: The New Great Game

(6) Slate

(7) BBC

(8) The Dark Goddess Lilith by M. Kelly Hunter

(9) NY Times

(10) Foreign Affairs

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 24 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to practicing Astrology over 20 years. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer

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2014 and beyond

By Louis Acker | April 14, 2014

(Editor’s note: Astrologers from the old school will remember the enormous addition to our studies encountered in 1973 with the appearance of The Astrologer’s Handbook, by Frances Sakoian and Louis Acker. The book — and others that followed — are true and beloved classics. Reprinted in 1989, The Astrologer’s Handbook is considered one of the very best introductions to serious astrology ever published.

I was delighted to be directed to Louis Acker’s current work by a student of his. This is an edited section of an article that appeared on his web site on March 3, 2014. TMA will include further sections of the original article in this blog in coming weeks.)

As of January 2014, we are approximately halfway through the five-year Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn transit. This dramatic cardinal sign square is the dominating outer-planet aspect between 2011 and 2016. There will be seven exact Uranus-Pluto squares. The fourth exact Uranus-Pluto square took place on November 1, 2013.

The fifth one will be on April 22, 2014, at 13°34’ of Aries and Capricorn. This fifth exact Uranus-Pluto square is part of the exact 13° cardinal grand cross that includes Mars in Libra and Jupiter in Cancer.

The sixth exact Uranus-Pluto square is at 12°35’ of Aries and Capricorn on December 15, 2014. It is activated by Venus in Capricorn conjunct Pluto and square Uranus from December 20th through 23rd. This will involve aberrant sexual perversions in high places. Transiting Mercury in Capricorn also is conjunct Pluto and square Uranus on December 24, 2014. Leaked information from within the establishment — probably involving a whistleblower — will become a shocking major news story.

The seventh and last Uranus-Pluto square will be March 17, 2015. Mars in Aries conjunct Uranus and square Pluto between March 8 and 15, 2015 activates this last Uranus-Pluto square. This is an explosive, highly dangerous combination that could precipitate assassinations, riots, revolution, war, bombings, and industrial accidents.

For a swath of time from mid January through July of 2014, Uranus square Pluto is continuously activated, triggered by other planets transiting cardinal signs, thus forming t-squares and grand squares with Uranus and Pluto. This is largely because Mars in Libra and Jupiter in Cancer both have stations. while turning from retrograde to direct, that are in square or opposition to Uranus and Pluto. Jupiter is in opposition to Pluto and square to Uranus continuously from mid January to mid May of 2014.

Mars is in opposition to Uranus and square to Pluto between mid April and the end of June 2014. These Mars aspects have the potential to produce revolutionary uprisings throughout the world, as marginalized populations struggle to barely survive. Issues of social justice will be of overriding concern.

What is needed is for the masses to be educated as to what and who is controlling the major economic structures of the world, the banking empires that control the bought out and blackmailed economic and political systems in every country. Until the people of every country, race, religion, and cultural background understand that they have a common enemy in the globalist banking empire and the trans-national mega corporations controlled by the elitists, the people of the world will be divided and conquered as usual. The proliferation of electronic communications technology is spreading the knowledge of what is really going on even as the elitists are doing everything they can to dumb down the masses and spread confusion and disinformation. This process is spreading and increasing exponentially through alternative media as the controlled corporate media becomes increasingly discredited and unpopular. As this process reaches critical mass, it will be unstoppable.

The transiting Sun in Aries was conjunct Uranus and square Pluto between March 30 and April 7, 2014. This aspect suggests abuse of power by politicians and other important people that will fuel revolutionary sentiment. We have already noted the armed standoff that occurred in Nevada between a family of ranchers who had public grazing rights for over a century and the fascist BLM agents who tried to kick them off the land.

A total lunar eclipse takes place on April 15, 2014 (at 25° Libra), with Mercury conjunct Uranus at 13° Aries activating the forming exact grand square at 12°-13° of the cardinal signs. As the transiting Moon in Libra approaches the exact eclipse degree, it will also activate the coming grand square. The Moon will be at 13° Libra at 2:03 a.m. PT (5:03 a.m. ET) on April 14, 2014.

With transiting Mercury in Aries conjunct Uranus and square Pluto between April 12 and April 16, there could be a dramatic news story involving misuse of power and betrayal of the public trust that will inflame public anger against the corrupt economic–political power structure and fuel revolutionary sentiment. Such a breaking news story could trigger the crisis associated with the cardinal grand square in the second half of April.

Hard-angle aspects (conjunction, square, opposition), angular houses, and cardinal Signs (including Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) have a quality of immediacy about them. They indicate crisis situations that cannot be put off and require immediate attention. Failure to take timely, responsible action has undesirable, if not disastrous, consequences. A grand square indicates a condition in which attempts to solve problems in one area aggravate problems in other areas.

Decades of economic mismanagement and parasitical manipulation of markets by the elitist cabal of central bankers will result in worldwide economic paralysis. It will take years, probably decades, to sort out this mess and, in the process, many governments and major corporations will fall by the wayside. The elitists think that they can manage this chaos, come out on top, and set up their one-world currency, dictatorship, and military. This delusional thinking will bring about their downfall and demise.

For the first time in history, a large and growing percentage of the world population is starting to understand who the real perpetrators of economic collapse and social chaos are. The old methods of divide and conquer — including false flag attacks and problem-reaction-solution manipulation of public opinion that served the elitist agenda so well in the past — will no longer work and will, in many cases, backfire. Once 5% to 10% of the population understands what is really going on, the rest of the population has to encounter the newly (to them) revealed information. Even if they reject these ideas, in time, they will have to accept them as more and more truth is revealed and becomes obvious as current historic events unfold. We are on the cusp of a huge change in mass awareness. Everything that is created by human civilization, good or bad, is first thought of and motivated within human awareness. Whatever is created in this process is a reflection of the level of consciousness of the person or people who created it. Significant advances are usually conceptualized by a small group of more intellectually advanced and intuitive individuals, and then put into action by larger collectives of people. To significantly change mass consciousness is to change everything.

This process has greatly accelerated in modern times as a result of an enormous intensification of the cosmic energies that affect human awareness and all life throughout our solar system. This change is in progress now and will continue to intensify.

NASA probes — sent to other planets and their moons in our solar system over the last 30 years — reveal massive changes in brightness, magnetic field strength, atmospheric weather features, and other scientifically measurable phenomena. Massive changes are happening on the Sun and throughout the solar system, and not just on Earth. This has to do with our solar system crossing the plane of the galaxy. On a more subtle level, these same cosmic energetic shifts are bringing about a massive change in human consciousness on planet Earth.

© 2014 Louis Acker

Bio: Louis Acker is the author of The Astrologer’s Handbook, Predictive Astrology, The Astrology of Human Relationships, and many other books. He has studied astrology for over 55 years and is available for consultations and private instruction.

Please visit his website for details on his services. He lives in Crestone, Colorado and can be reached at: (719) 256-4057; email:

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The Roles of Pallas Athene and Mercury in the Cardinal Grand Cross

By Gary P. Caton | March 31, 2014

“Be realistic, demand the impossible.”

Anonymous graffiti, Paris, May 1968 (1)

April 21, 2014 will be the fifth of seven squares between Uranus and Pluto during the current decade. Because Mars and Jupiter are joining the action and creating a “cardinal grand cross,” a lot of people in the astrology world seem to think that this square (i.e., the fifth in the series) is going to be different, perhaps more like what we were expecting — a return of the widespread revolutionary fervor of the 1960s. I happen to agree, but for different, additional reasons.

Chart: April 21, 2014, Washington, D.C., 2:15:28 p.m.  Geocentric, tropical, whole sign houses

The first reason I see this square as potentially more active than the first four is that the asteroid Pallas Athene has recently stationed near the far midpoint of Uranus-Pluto. I wrote an article for the print edition of TMA in 2012 about the historical impact of this asteroid stationing on each side of the separating Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the cultural revolutions of May 1968, in France and elsewhere around the world. (2) It seems obvious to this astrologer that the nature of this asteroid had a re-vivifying effect upon this conjunction that was beginning to separate significantly. In a word, the nature of Pallas Athene is hot — in the sense of the Aristotelian qualities.

Because of this hot or active nature, I believe that Pallas can be seen as an octave transformer between Mercury, Jupiter, and Uranus. Also, all these archetypes are associated with somewhat unbounded mental creative principles, so we could say that these four bodies constitute a sort of “archetypal complex.” Since Air is a volatile, yang element, the phenomenology of the experiences related to all these archetypes is likely to be characterized by the experience of release, creative breakthrough, and unexpected emergence into new possibilities. We can see in the horoscope for the fifth Uranus-Pluto square (above), that Pallas Athene is making a trine to Mercury, a semisquare to Jupiter, and a sesquisquare to Uranus. So these archetypally-related bodies are also related via aspect. This chart appears to have the potential for a tremendous release of pent-up mental or social energy.

Along with the connection between Pallas Athene and Uranus-Pluto, there is another interesting tie to the year 1968 that is active throughout 2014. This is related to a phenomenon I call the Mercury Elemental Year. All three of the Mercury retrogrades in 2014 will happen in Air signs, just as they did in 1968. Furthermore, because it has been 46 years, Mercury will trace almost exactly the same path through the sky as in 1968. (3) Every single Mercury synodic event — be it his stations, conjunctions with the Sun, or elongations — will happen within a degree of where it did in 1968.

The preceding tables are from a 51-page report I compiled in the winter of 2012. This e-book report contains 125 years of ephemerides for the Mercury Elemental Year, along with theory and instructions on how to use these cycles for personal transformation. (The report is for sale via my website for ten dollars.) (4)

The basic idea is that since, each year, Mercury spends about as much time in one single Elemental triplicity as the other three elements combined, this single element represents themes that reverberate and echo most deeply throughout the collective discourse. Thus, this year, the most profound themes communicated socially will be Airy ones. In addition, we have a series of aspects between three or four Airy planets in the chart for the fifth Uranus-Pluto square. So, what can we expect all this Airy energy to look like?

First, let’s go back a few years to see how this pattern has played out recently. Just before the first exact Uranus-Pluto square, we were under a Mercury Elemental Year of Fire, and within one day of an inferior conjunction of Mercury Rx, with the Sun at 29° Sagittarius, a street vendor in Tunisia practiced self immolation, setting himself on fire in protest and beginning what became known as the Arab Spring.

In late 2012, as the Mercury Elemental Year was about to move into Water, I wrote a blog for TMA suggesting that in 2013 a protest movement could gain the kind of mass cohesion (water) we saw via the Summer of Love movement in 1967, 46 years earlier. (5) Sure enough, in Brazil that year, we saw a mass movement, with not just hundreds of thousands but millions of people taking to the streets; there were an estimated one million people out in the streets of various cities on June 20 alone. (6) These were not only the biggest, but also the most successful protests — from the point of view of the protesters — thus far in the current Epoch of Revolution, with many protester demands being met by the government. (7)

So now we have a worldwide protest movement that is maturing and gaining cohesion. It is time for the protesters to get smart and use what they have learned. Looking back, we can see that the May 1968 movement in France was in large part an intellectual revolution, as it was inspired by the artistic sensibilities of groups like the Situationists. (8) An important event leading up to May 1968 was the Strasbourg scandal. (9) A group of students managed to use public funds to publish a pamphlet, which circulated thousands of copies and helped to make the Situationists well known throughout the non-communist left. (10) Although it is thought that some of the core revolutionary events of 1968 may have been the brainchildren of as few as one or two dozen people,  ultimately the general strike would involve 11 million — more than 20% of the population of France. (11) (12)

In 2014 we have another chance to see a repeat of the energy of the fabled 1960s. Just like the Mercury Elemental Year of Water in 2013 helped to bring and hold millions of people together in Brazil, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air should find the People united and activated around powerful ideas. The alchemical symbol for Air involves an upward-pointing triangle, symbolizing volatility. As a yang or masculine element, it is the nature of air to move up and out. And the lessons of Mercury and Pallas seem clear — small planets and small people matter. Sometimes they seem to make all the difference.

References & Recommended reading:


(2) “The Synergy of Pallas Athene with Uranus-Pluto,” TMA June/July 2012 issue. Online readers can find a link to the article here.

(3) Mercury synodic events (Stations, Maximum Elongations from and Conjunctions with the Sun) recur near or in the same zodiacal degree every 46, 79, or 125 years.
The planetary synodic periods were well known to Mesopotamian astrologers and indeed made possible the birth of ephemerides and horoscopic astrology. Later, Ptolemy used them in his Almagest. The modern astrologers Ruperti, Munkasey, and Blaschke have done in-depth research on these cycles.

Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS Vancouver, WA. Re-published 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA.
Michael Munkasey, “Station Cycles” — an as yet unpublished research article shared with interested members of the community.
Robert P. Blaschke, Astrology: A Language of Life: Volume 5 – Holographic Transits, EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA, 2006.

(4) Dream Astrologer

(5) The Mercury Elemental Year 2013

(6) Wikipedia and Reuters

(7) Wikipedia

(8) Wikipedia

(9) Wikipedia

(10) Library Nothingness

(11) Wikipedia

(12) Wikipedia

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration, personal growth, and transformation via the Living Sky. Gary has studied and practiced Spirituality for over 24 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline Astrology practice over the last 20 years. Visit Gary at his website Dream Astrologer

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The Ukraine in Crisis

By Alex Miller | March 24, 2014

As above, so below. It’s the guiding dictum of astrology — what’s going on up there in the heavens has a reflection and reference down here on planet Earth. But to what, exactly, does this apply? The ancients who devised this maxim only knew of seven moving lights in the sky. Today we’re aware that almost two million bodies are out there circling our sun – do they all evoke manifestations on this terrestrial plane, or does astrology only apply to objects of a certain size or venerability in our collective consciousness? And if it applies to everything, then how do the movements of these lesser bodies express themselves in the world around us?

When everyone and everything, from individual to nation state, is undergoing the same general transit, as for instance, Uranus square Pluto, why do some people and places stand out more than others? What draws this energy to specific entities who act as proxies for the stimuli we all receive? It may well be these previously ignored “minor” bodies, as the story of the Ukraine’s struggle illustrates.

What has been described by William Hague, the U.K.’s First Secretary of State, as “certainly the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st Century,” has been playing out in the Eastern European state of the Ukraine. (1) Protests against the administration’s pro-Russian policies and trade agreements began in November 2013, and escalated to the point of bloodshed in late February 2014, when the administration enacted a law making it legal to use live ammunition on protestors, resulting in more than 70 deaths. Within days, President Viktor Yanukovych had been impeached by parliament, fled the capital, and sought refuge in Russia, holding a press conference where he termed his ouster a “bandit coup,” while Russia denied the legitimacy of the interim government, which scheduled new elections for May.

Less than a week after that, Russian troops effectively occupied Crimea, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine on the Black Sea, which houses a major Russian naval port and is predominantly ethnic Russian in population. Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted these facts as justification for the occupation. U.S. President Barack Obama issued harsh statements denouncing the action and threatened economic sanctions, but Western European nations are heavily dependent on Russian natural resources, and their cooperation in any punitive action is uncertain. In early March the Crimean parliament voted to unite with Russia, scheduling a public referendum vote for March 16th, to endorse or overrule that decision.

The Ukraine is yet another nation state currently under the gun of the Uranus-Pluto square, that defining aspect of our times, signaling the clash of the old order of entrenched power (Pluto in Capricorn) and the forces of individuation, freedom, and revolution (Uranus in Aries). Born in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union, whose member state it once was, the Ukraine gained its independence on August 24, 1991 (5:31p.m. Local Time, Kiev).

The current crisis is part of its normal “growing pains”: with its revolutionary, freedom-loving natal Uranus at 10° Capricorn, Ukraine is facing its first Uranus square, analogous to an individual assuming adult status and responsibility at age 21. But with transit Pluto currently in conjunction to that natal Uranus, these growing pains have taken a bloody and violent turn.

Such is the general celestial backdrop of the turmoil, but we can probe deeper to understand why this region in particular has been so volatile of late. Lots of countries are receiving hard aspects from the Uranus-Pluto square, so why does the Ukraine in particular stand out?

That story begins with the movements of asteroid Ukraina (#1709), named for the country. When the anti-government protests began on November 20, 2013, transit Ukraina was in late Aquarius, simultaneously squaring Saturn and approaching a conjunction with Neptune, and exactly conjunct the Black Hole at 28° Aquarius. The square to Saturn indicates the discontent with the government’s policies; the approaching conjunction to Neptune signals a period of confusion, and upcoming turmoil and chaos, while the Black Hole contact adds the potential for the situation to mushroom out of control and result in an unexpected reversal of the status quo, a dramatic turn of events that completely destroys the current reality.

By late January 2014, Ukraina had moved on to Aries and its conjunction with Uranus (exact on February 8), which remained in effect until February 28th when Russia invaded the Crimea. The intervening period coincided with the protests escalating to full-scale rebellion, then revolution (both Uranus-ruled) with the ouster of the unpopular Yanukovych and the establishment of an interim government.

The saga continues with the placement of Ukraine’s natal asteroid Kiev (#2171), named for the Ukrainian capital, which, at 10° Cancer, exactly opposes the nation’s Uranus. Any revolutionary movement is more than likely to originate here, a pattern already established in 2004 with the “Orange Revolution,” a bloodless coup based in civil disobedience and centered on Kiev, which prevented a rigged presidential election from going into effect. So, it’s not just the Ukraine’s Uranus that is being jostled by the Uranus-Pluto square; this is forming a t-square with the national capital’s celestial namesake. Adding fuel to that fire was transit Jupiter, planet of inflation, excess, and over-reaction, which came to conjoin Kiev and oppose natal Uranus in mid-February 2014, just as things began to heat up. Within days the government’s overreach had killed over 100 people, and Jupiter fanned the Uranian flames of rebellion in Kiev to topple the administration.

But Jupiter hasn’t been traveling alone. Right beside him in the heavens has been another namesake asteroid, Moskva (#787), the Russian name for Moscow, indicating Russia’s involvement in the crisis. Moscow’s importance in the Ukraine’s future is well established by the presence of its natal asteroid Moskva at 22° Scorpio, on the Ukraine’s Midheaven at 27° Scorpio, representing its government, which is to some extent under Russian domination with this placement, all the more so given its additional conjunction with the nation’s Pluto, representing power, control, and manipulation, at 17° Scorpio, and Damocles, that sword of doom hanging unseen overhead, at 19° Scorpio.

On February 27th, Moskva came to its direct station, a period where it is stationary in the sky and packing considerably more punch than normal, at 9°55’ Cancer. The next day, Russian troops occupied Crimea, as Jupiter evoked an inflated, outsized response to the crisis from the Russian capital.

Crimea has its own place in the saga, with its eponymous asteroid (#1140) coming to retrograde station on February 1st at 10° Libra, filling in the gap in the natal Uranus-Kiev, transit Pluto-Uranus-Moskva-Jupiter t-square to form a perfect Cardinal Grand Cross. When the first anti-Russian-policy protests broke out on November 21, 2013, transit asteroid Russia was at 10° Libra, exactly squared natal Kiev, exactly squared natal Uranus, and exactly where transit Crimea would station in little over two months’ time.

Astute Ukrainian astrologers might have intuited Crimea’s topical importance by the pair of Lunar Eclipses that conjoined its natal degree in the Ukraine chart. At 20° Libra, Ukraine’s asteroid Crimea was hit by the Lunar Eclipse of October 18, 2013 at 25° Aries, and will be again at the upcoming Lunar Eclipse at 25° Libra on April 15th. Russia’s involvement in the crisis is prefigured by a pair of Solar Eclipses, one at 5° Scorpio last May in opposition to the Ukraine’s natal asteroid Russia (#232) at 4° Taurus, which will be conjoined by the next Solar Eclipse on April 29th at 8° Taurus.

Major planetary stations had an effect as well. On March 6th, the very day the Crimean parliament voted for union with Russia, transit Jupiter (ruling politicians and foreign policy) stationed at 10° Cancer, exactly hitting the Ukraine’s Kiev-Uranus opposition. Transit Moskva was still conjoined Jupiter, and the two were still square to transit Crimea, then at 6° Libra. Transit Russia was at 22° Scorpio, close by transit Saturn, which had just come to its retrograde station at 23° Scorpio four days prior, with both points closely squared the Ukraine natal Moon (its people), at 22° Aquarius, and forming a t-square with its exact Mercury-Jupiter conjunction at 25° Leo. This is a combination representing political rhetoric and voting. Saturn is harsh crackdowns and repression, but also borders, which Russia violated in its occupation of Crimea.

The referendum in Crimea on March 16th went as expected. With a long history of Russian domination, a majority ethnic Russian population, Russian troops in the streets, and no spot on the ballot for maintaining the union with Ukraine, it’s not surprising to see an estimated 95% vote in favor of secession.

When the votes were cast, the Sun at 25° Pisces was squared asteroid Simferopol (#2141), named for the Crimean capital, at 27° Gemini, which was exactly opposed the Galactic Center at 27° Sagittarius, indicating something of global import or attention. Mercury, ruling the voting process itself, was at 28° Aquarius, on the same Black Hole that asteroid Ukraina had occupied when the anti-Russian protests first erupted. Mercury was trine Simferopol, indicating the dramatic support for the Crimean government’s decision to secede. Asteroid Ukraina, now at 29° Aries, was conjoined asteroid Phaeton at 26° Aries, a point noted for ill-considered decisions and choices leading to disaster.

Asteroid Moskva had returned with Jupiter to sit directly atop the Ukraine’s natal asteroid Kiev at 10° Cancer (exactly opposing its Uranus), with transit Kiev at 4° Pisces closely conjoined both Neptune, ruling secession, and asteroid Pandora, noted for the unleashing of unexpected, dire consequences, at 5° and 3° Pisces. Asteroid Russia, at 24° Scorpio, was prominent in the drama as well, as it conjoined Saturn, ruling governments, as well as repression, at 23° Scorpio, with both trine the Sun and square the Ukraine’s natal Moon (the people) at 22° Aquarius. Asteroid Crimea at 4° Libra opposed asteroid Icarus, noted for rash, reckless actions heedless of the consequences, at 6° Aries, and more broadly opposed Uranus, ruling both revolution and independence, at 11° Aries.

On Friday, March 21, Vladimir Putin signed a treaty accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation. All that remains now is to see what response, if any, will come from the West.


(1) The News

Bio: Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of “The Galactic Calendar,” and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society. His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. His work with deep space points and asteroids appears monthly at DayKeeper Journal. Alex can be reached for comment or services at

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House guest

By Mary Plumb | March 17, 2014

Saturn’s station on March 2 at 23° Scorpio is within a degree of my natal Ascendant. There is nothing like the grim reaper so close by to bring death to the doorstep.

I know several people who have passed over this week, not just an older friend, but also a few heartbreaking endings for two people in their youth.
Censoring myself, a worthy Saturn trait, I thought I cannot write about death again for the blog.
Happily, the perfect antidote arrived — astrologer Don Cerow, who is in Ashland as part of an extended tour. He is the guest speaker at our NCGR meeting tonight.
I was on the phone with a family member (experiencing both a sudden, devastating loss and a very surprising and hopeful turn in his life) when Don showed up, handing me a pink flower-laden blossom from the cherry tree. It was a beautiful gesture of the rebirth and renewal that always comes, that will come, after death.
The Moon had just entered Libra when we looked at the chart of the moment to begin orienting ourselves to the current picture.
The Moon moving through Libra will be triggering the cardinal square today: Moon squares Jupiter at 2:03 p.m., opposes Uranus at 3:49 p.m., and squares Pluto at 7:12 p.m. (All times PDT)
Although the necessity and immediacy of the surprising changes inherent in the symbolism of the cardinal signs is in sharp focus today, Don talked about this celestial pattern forming as a step, a shock point, one of many, as we move towards the future.
Don has a long view. His book, When the Dragon Wore the Crown, is the basis for the presentations he is giving on the tour. (1) For 40 years he has studied two ways to orient ourselves against the backdrop of the heavens (what he refers to as the Center and the Circle): the slowly changing North Star and the Vernal Equinox point moving over time, i.e. the precession of the equinoxes.
Precession is allowing the Spring Equinox point to drift back through the constellations, giving us the different ages, i.e., Gemini, Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, etc. His work traces cultures (beginning in 5000 BC) and includes Chinese, Sumerian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Hindu, Norse, Native American, and Mayan myths, artifacts, archeological pieces, and natural phenomena. He sees the constellations as they are echoed on Earth via the records of history and as they are concurrently marked in the stars at different epochs of time. When we went out to see the (cloudy) sky, Don said that with clear skies you could see 7000 years of history across the night sky. Now, that’s a view that can put things in a different perspective.
For thousands of years the astronomical marker of the North Celestial Pole was Theban, a star in Draco the Dragon. The Dragon (also drawn as a snake in constellation maps) crawls between the Great Bear and the Little Bear (the big and little dippers) in the northern sky. Theban is not a bright star; its location as the place in the sky aligned with the North Celestial Pole is its significance. The heart of the Dragon is the star location that directed us northwards for at least a thousand years. 
At our current point in time, the North Star, the star around which all the other stars seem to rotate, is Polaris in Ursa Minor (the Little Bear). According to Don’s research, Polaris is still moving towards exact alignment with the North Celestial Pole; that will occur in 2100 AD. We talked about the North Celestial Pole being connected to the crown chakra in the human being. Don feels that, as a species, we are moving towards that perfect alignment with Source, a heavenly marker that he connects with the long cherished notion of the Aquarian Age.

As I say prayers for the dear departing souls whom I know, I am also trying to understand what is happening in the Ukraine and Venezuela, and remembering the poor souls on the plane from Malaysia that disappeared; the bitterly impoverished victims of drought in southern Pakistan; the thousands of refugees in Syria; the victims of violence in the Central African Republic and the South Sudan; the many thousands in Haiti and the Philippines still suffering from the effects of the 2010 earth quake and 2013 typhoon. A friend appearing at the door with a flower in hand can be the most welcomed sight in the world.

(1) Don Cerow’s West coast tour continues through April. Check his schedule here.

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Time with Venus…

By Mary Plumb | March 10, 2014

Just thinking about blog subjects is a creative venture.

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching (anxiously) as Mars retrogrades, heading back to perfect the cardinal cross in April, not to mention the April 14 lunar eclipse, the day of Pluto’s station retrograde.

Volatility and abrupt, upsetting, and precarious moves are obvious everywhere we look. This week alone I know of six people who have suddenly decided to move.  (1)

However, amidst the intermittent chaos of the cardinal energy, I wanted to write about something else: Venus, now reaching her maximum brightness as a jewel in the morning sky. (Do get up and see her when you have clear skies.) It was only after I started writing about Venus that I realized that Sunday was my Venus return.

Venus conjoined the Sun on January 11 at 21°11’ Capricorn in her retrograde phase. (2) That degree will remain highly sensitive for awhile, at least until the next conjunction. (3) If you have 21°- 22° Capricorn on an angle, or with the Sun, Moon, or other important placement in the birth horoscope (or solar return), all matters of Venus significations will be pronounced. (4)

On January 11 at the conjunction with the Sun, Venus was invisible, of course. She started to appear in the morning sky before dawn around January 17 and made her direct station on January 31 while conjunct Pluto at 12° Capricorn.

The Morning Star, or Venus Lucifer (“the light bearer” to the Greeks) Venus will move to her farthest point from the Sun (maximum elongation) — and rising well before the Sun — on March 22. Look in the early morning sky, as the waning Moon will pass by her on March 26-28.

I remember Arielle Guttman’s work on the Venus Star Point (VSP), her terminology for the degree of the conjunction of Venus with the Sun prior to an individual’s birth. The degree of the prenatal conjunction, in which Venus can be either in retrograde or direct motion, is predictable and easy to calculate. Guttman wrote about that point as symbolizing “the manner in which we reach inside of ourselves to reflect the love, beauty, and heart-felt self-expression we innately possess and share with others.” She also suggests that the Venus Star is reflecting the concept of Eros, “a deeply moving, creative life force.” (5) (It is clearly an evocative point; the conjunction occurs when we are in the womb.)

There is a five-pointed star pattern formed by Venus’s orbit in relationship to the Earth, and the Venus conjunctions occur in only one of five signs. We are all born as part of a particular star pattern, with all five points forming to create one full star. (6)

Whether we consider the inferior or superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun as the beginning of the cycle, Venus has a very regular eight-year cycle that creates a pentagram, or five-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 – the Venus rose pattern:

Venus rose pattern

If you want to keep it simple, just take note of your pre-natal Sun-Venus conjunction and look for connections with people in your life.  I had a lovely friend whose VSP (the degree of her prenatal Sun-Venus conjunction) is at 23° Scorpio, the degree of my Ascendant. She is someone I have greatly admired and loved. She passed away suddenly with Saturn stationing on and transiting that degree. I will never forget her.

On a happier note, my first husband’s VSP is within 2° of my natal Moon; my VSP is is within 2° of his Moon and is also on our son’s Ascendant and our granddaughter’s Mercury. Today is also his birthday – Happy Solar Return, Christopher.

Here’s to remembering all of Venus’s gifts as we learn to cherish our world and each other in all ways.


(1) As I was beginning to write today, I got a call from an astrologer and her niece passing through Ashland, checking out the area for a possible relocation. I did not know them before today, and I met them for tea, as ever curious about the timing — and always open to a distraction when I’m about to focus. They both have planets (e.g., the Moon and Mars) at 13° Aries; their stories could be the subject of a whole blog, but back to my topic.

(2) See Gary P. Caton’s blog for much more on this conjunction. (Here’s a link to his podcast on this conjunction.)

(3) Although most modern astrologers (i.e., Robert Blaschke, Gary Caton, Adam Gainsburg, Daniel Giamario) consider the start of the Venus cycle at the inferior conjunction, Deborah Houlding’s article, The Beauty of the Venus Cycle in TMA Feb/Mar 2010, considers the start of the Venus cycle to be the superior conjunction. It is important to remember that Venus has an “enduring symmetry.” No matter where one considers the start of the Venus cycle (i.e, at heliacal rise, at the inferior conjunction, or the superior conjunction), Venus will always make the five-pointed star in her eight-year journey with the Sun and the Earth.

(4) Robert Blaschke’s research showed that the Venus cazimi (i.e., “the heart of the Sun”) degree in a prominent place in the natal horoscope would bring an important relationship into the life during the time of that transit.

(5) Quotes from Venus Star Rising: A New Cosmology for the 21st Century by Arielle Guttman, Sophia Venus Productions, 2010.

(6) See Arielle Guttmans’s work for more on this. Here is her comment from an earlier blog:
“Our friends, families and special relationships — the important people that populate our lives – fill in the other four points of the Star. Together, then, when all five points are activated within our own special group, the group is empowered by the full star of Venus — something very powerful, magnetic, enduring, creative, and transformative in our unfolding spiral evolution. Check out the relationships on the star of Venus. I have found it quite a profound way to look at the heart and soul of how we connect and with whom we connect on our journey.”
Venus: Enduring Symmetry

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Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Life & Death

By Alex Miller | February 17, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the more talented character actors of his generation; versatile and empathetic, he added interest and verve to many supporting roles, but had the stamina and range to pull off lead parts as well. A four-time Academy Award nominee, he won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2006, for his brilliant performance in the biopic Capote. Also a stage performer, Hoffman garnered three Tony Award nominations for his work on Broadway, most notably Death of a Salesman in 2012.

But as is often the case, with great talent comes great challenge. Hoffman struggled with addiction from an early age, first checking himself into rehab at age 22. In a 2006 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft, Hoffman recalled that era, replying when asked if the problem was drugs or alcohol, “It was all that stuff, yeah, anything I could get my hands on … I liked it all.” Hoffman continued to battle alcohol throughout his life, and had at least one drug relapse in the intervening years, again checking himself into rehab in May 2013 for heroin and prescription medication abuse.

Hoffman’s return to drug use spurred a recent separation from his longtime partner Mimi O’Donnell and their three children, and he was living in an apartment attached to his Greenwich Village office when a friend found him lying on the bathroom floor on February 2, 2014. A needle still in his arm, Hoffman had died from an apparent overdose; police found upwards of 50 bags of heroin and several bottles of prescription drugs in the apartment. On February 5th the lights of Broadway were dimmed for a minute in his honor, and his death rated a front-page obituary in The New York Times.

Born on July 23, 1967, Hoffman’s talent and his issues with addiction are both apparent. (1) Neptune rules both dramatic arts and substance abuse or escapist behaviors, and at 21° Scorpio in the natal chart, it’s a potent presence. Trine the Sun and square the Moon, Neptune is a dominating factor, providing creativity, sensitivity, and the amorphous quality needed for an actor to convincingly portray varied characters, stepping out of himself into an alternate persona. (2) The square to the Moon hints at an emotional conflict as the basis for Hoffman’s issues with addiction and substance abuse, perhaps originating in early childhood.

Several minor bodies colluded to push Hoffman along the path to drug use. Tightly conjoined Neptune is asteroid Bacchus at 20° Scorpio, and in tight square is asteroid Dionysos at 20° Leo. These are essentially the same deity, the Roman and Greek versions, respectively, of the god ruling intoxicants and inebriation, altered states of consciousness divorced from harsh reality. Asteroid Panacea, named for a daughter of the healer Asclepius, whose focus was medicinal cures, conjoins the 9° Virgo Venus from 7° Virgo, indicating the strong attachment Hoffman had for drugs. The word “panacea” of course has also come to mean a quick-fix cure for all problems or ills, much in the way Hoffman used intoxicants to dull or erase whatever pain he felt.

An exact square from Saturn at 12° Aries to Mercury at 12° Cancer tells more of the tale of Hoffman’s success; this combination indicates a career in some media-related venue, and also promotes a retentive memory, vital to any actor in retaining pages of dialogue, especially on stage, where there are no second takes. It also hints at the substantial vocal (Mercury) control (Saturn) that enabled him to slip seemingly effortlessly into the Truman Capote character, with a stunning and eerily perfect portrayal of the famed writer’s verbal eccentricities. The fact that Hoffman could believably portray real-life persons, as well as fictional characters, is a testament to his versatility. (Uranus’ station retrograde at 16° Aries last July, exactly conjunct his natal Saturn, may have been a contributory cause of his sudden, unexpected [both Uranus] death [Saturn].)

The Academy rewarded his bravura performance as Capote with the best actor Oscar on March 5, 2006, and the skies reflected his success that night. Asteroid Hoffman (#1662) at 21° Taurus was squared asteroid Oskar at 24° Aquarius, while an exact opposition from asteroid Philippa (#977, for Philip) at 5° Aquarius to Saturn (career, success, public recognition) at 5° Leo was shored up by Philippa’s conjunction with transit Venus (popularity, actors, entertainment, the Lesser Benefic) at 0° Aquarius. This transiting opposition was anchored to Hoffman’s natal chart by an exact t-square with natal asteroid Hoffman at 5° Scorpio, a point that was hit exactly by the Lunar Eclipse of April 2013, just before Hoffman checked himself into rehab.

When Hoffman was found dead in his Greenwich Village apartment on February 2nd, the sky again portrayed the scene, with asteroid Hoffman at 12° Aquarius closely conjoined the Sun at 13° Aquarius, signaling that a Hoffman would be big news that day. Also within orb is asteroid Greenwich (#2830) at 5° Aquarius, exactly squared natal Hoffman, with that transiting Hoffman/Saturn conjunction squaring his natal Greenwich at 16° Taurus, reiterating the importance of that location both to the day’s events and in Hoffman’s biography. Asteroids Philippa and Panacea conjoined at 10° and 16° Gemini, united Hoffman personally with the agent of his death. With the addition of the conjunction of natal asteroid Sisyphus at 18° Gemini squared natal Pluto at 18° Virgo, there is a sense of a repeating, futile pattern (Sisyphus) resulting in death or destruction (Pluto). Philippa/Panacea also opposed an exact pairing of transit Bacchus and Karma at 12° Sagittarius, suggesting a fated or inescapable destiny (Karma) ensuing from the use of intoxicants (Bacchus).

Hoffman’s talent will be sorely missed; we can only speculate at the future roles this actor, now in his prime, would have brought to life for the world to share and enjoy. When Broadway dimmed its lights in his honor at 7:45 p.m. EST on February 5, 2014, asteroid Philippa had just crested the 14° Gemini Midheaven, a fitting celestial tribute to the passing of one of our brightest stars.


(1) Source: Wikipedia

(2) Author’s note: no time of birth is available, but the Sun changed from 29° Cancer to 0° Leo that day, both in trine to Neptune, and the Moon passed from 16° to 29° Aquarius, any degree of which would be in square, if loosely.

Bio: Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of “The Galactic Calendar,” and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society. His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. His work with deep space points and asteroids appears monthly at DayKeeper Journal. Alex can be reached for comment or services at

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Stars of the Silver Screen

By Jan de Prosse | February 10, 2014

[Introductory note from blog editor, Mary Plumb:

On Saturday I was driving to a neighboring town to hear local acupuncturist and Chinese scholar, Ken Bendat, speak on the Wood Horse Year (also known as the Cloud Horse). Our local NCGR group hosted Ken at our last meeting and I was rather taken with his talk: his discussion of the symbolism and the quite different view from Chinese astrology to the Western approach. For me, Ken’s talk was a provocative introduction to a different mythological view.

It started pouring rain, much needed in this southern Oregon valley. I was happy and relaxed and enjoying the drive through the vineyards and farms to Jacksonville. The rain made me a bit disoriented for a moment and a thought formed in my mind: “I have no idea where I am, I’m just following the road.” What caught my attention was how relaxed I was, with none of the familiar anxious thoughts that tend to whip through my mind: i.e, I’m lost!, I’ll be late!, Yikes, I don’t know where I am!, etc. It was just a lovely moment where my short road trip was basking in the deep, ongoing, ever-present grace of the unknown; just keep on moving. For a moment, no edge or challenge from Uranus or Pluto or Mars or Saturn, just a delightful balm in the heart (and a display of Mercury retrograde in Pisces conjunct Neptune). Sometimes we really don’t know where we’re going, just keep on following the road.

TMA Managing Editor Jan de Prosse offers this week’s blog. We are in a series of Jupiter-Pluto oppositions (exact on August 7, 2013; January 31 and April 20, 2014). Her article finds Jupiter-Pluto hard aspects as a marker in the horoscopes of three very famous actors.

I so appreciate all the recent blog writers; my marbles are not quite all settled into place since my bump-on-the-head incident last summer. Getting there, for sure, and in the mean time, I am completely enjoying others’ contributions to TMA’s blog. Thank you, one and all.]

Stars of the Silver Screen
by Jan de Prosse

Many thanks to my dear friend Kate Sholly for her invaluable assistance with this article.

I wondered: Why do some people succeed beyond all expectation in the movie business? What might I find in the birth charts of hugely popular 20th-century movie stars? I considered three charts — male matinee idols from my parents’ generation. (I also fell under their spells growing up.) I evaluated the charts in terms of the significators of film stardom in the realm of Hollywood. All three of these extraordinary lives were marked by a Neptune–Uranus aspect (Neptune rules film), a challenging Jupiter–Pluto aspect, prominent Aquarius/Leo, and a strong Venus placement. Remember, too, that whenever any of the outer planets are involved, the successful manifestation of gifts depends on grounding in Saturn.

Neptune–Uranus aspects indicate people who dream of a better world. Stressful Jupiter–Pluto aspects (like the square and opposition found in these three charts) mark people who challenge lofty ideas. These men were trailblazers in their chosen field of endeavor. According to Stephen Arroyo, Jupiter–Pluto bestows “tremendous unconquerable courage,” which would certainly be necessary to make a mark in a competitive profession. This aspect also conveys “innate abilities to determine the motivations for people’s behavior,” a talent that would definitely come in handy in the acting profession. (1)

Paul Newman
This marvelous man has a Jupiter–Pluto opposition conjunct his Ascendant–Descendant axis and Saturn (in the 10th house of career) trine Pluto. The Jupiter–Pluto aspect relates to power and opportunities, and there were plenty of both in this man’s life. Paul has Pluto on the Descendant opposed a stellium of Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus straddling his Ascendant. Besides his stellar career in the cinema, in midlife Paul and a partner started a business selling his own salad dressing recipe, branched out into popcorn and spaghetti sauce, parlayed that into a money-making enterprise, and donated all the profits to charity. By the time Paul died, millions had been given away to all sorts of worthy causes. Another sideline, summer camps for children with life-threatening illnesses, had gone international. This was a man with a huge destiny, an important role to play in this life. Jupiter in his chart made him bigger than life, lent him confidence and optimism, and along with his Moon in Pisces and Sun in Aquarius, accounted for his philanthropic ideals. (2)

Saturn trine Pluto added a stabilizing influence, allowing Paul to be constructive and to be seen as a hard worker. A prominent Saturn also gives the native the discipline to do what is necessary to reach his goals and can lead to genuinely earned and long-lasting success. (A person can’t bypass Saturn on the road to success.) In Paul’s case, Saturn square his Aquarius Sun adds humility to the mix. Paul felt lucky and wanted to help those less fortunate.

One of Paul’s best known roles was opposite Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Neptune in Leo in the 7th house trine Mars and Chiron suggests a glamorous fantasy career. Astrologer Priscilla Costello says that Neptune uses the imagination but is controlled and focused. Having Neptune conjunct the North Node lends a fated quality to the fame and fortune that Paul enjoyed.

Jack Lemmon
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for another Aquarian, a gifted comic actor who was an excellent dramatic actor as well. (Comedy is harder to pull off.) He played an extremely convincing alcoholic in one of his finest roles, in the movie Days of Wine and Roses.

Like Paul Newman, Jack also has a Jupiter–Pluto opposition conjoining the Ascendant–Descendant. Priscilla Costello says this about Jupiter–Pluto: “Luck blends with ambition and determination to create material success.” He has a Sun in Aquarius–Moon in Leo opposition and the Sun square Saturn. (3) The latter generally indicates pressure to succeed from one’s parents, making the native insecure and thus propelling him forward. In other words, this aspect gives a person the motivation to strive toward his goals. Jack fulfilled his dream: He had a prolific career, starring in dozens of movies. His Neptune aspects gave him the ability to do well in any creative field, and his Mercury–Venus conjunction square Mars lent him the charisma he needed.

Cary Grant
This silver-screen heartthrob was known for his suave demeanor. His leading-man roles were mostly light comedies, like the classic Arsenic and Old Lace. He never seemed to take himself too seriously. In this man’s chart, we find Jupiter square Pluto. (Both Paul Newman and Jack Lemmon have the opposition.) We can expect the square to manifest similarly to the opposition, granting power and fame. Venus, Pluto, and Jupiter form a t-square in this chart, and Libra on the Ascendant adds to the Venusian energy that made Cary seem so smooth, sexy, and approachable. Cary’s Venus–Pluto opposition might suggest that he was a controlling person — but compelling and passionate as well. Women were definitely attracted to him. Jupiter in Pisces in the 5th (Leo’s house of creative endeavors, such as acting) lightens the energy of the t-square. He also has Leo on the cusp of the 10th house of career. (4)

Cary has a Moon–Saturn conjunction in Aquarius straddling the IC; the Moon is also in an out-of-sign conjunction to his Sun in Capricorn. Saturn near the IC means there was probably a taskmaster in his early life, a parental figure who pushed him to excel. His Venus–Pluto opposition suggests the need to work out anger toward loved ones, perhaps the demanding parent.

The common elements in these three horoscopes are indeed striking. Looking at their charts, it would be hard to imagine any of them leading mediocre lives outside of the spotlight, but that might have happened if any of them had failed to live up to his immense potential.

Notes and References

1. Stephen Arroyo, Exploring Jupiter: The Astrological Key to Progress, Prosperity & Potential (1996, C.R.C.S. Publications).

2. According to Priscilla Costello, The Weiser Concise Guide to Practical Astrology, Weiser, 2008, Jupiter is the great benefactor who “generously bestows wealth, success, honors, gifts, and graces … He oversees growth and expansion on every level.” Pluto, on the other hand, “has to do with increasing your wealth … and possibly … distributing it with the intention of improving society. Pluto can evolve from a drive to amass material things to a detachment that enables you to dispense with them.”

3. Although the accuracy of Jack’s birth data is in question, the Moon in Leo seems to fit a famous actor’s chart. In this case, the Moon is in mid Leo with the questionable 2:00 p.m. birth time, so it is fairly safe to assume that the Moon was in Leo all day. The Moon conjunct Neptune would also be an indicator of a career in the film industry, and the North Node, as part of that conjunction, gives Jack’s entire movie career a fated quality, as it does in Paul Newman’s chart.

4. In Practical Astrology, Priscilla Costello lists these qualities of people with Venus–Pluto aspects: “erotic magnetism … boundless creativity … can generate and regenerate resources/money.”

Bio: Jan de Prosse is Managing Editor of The Mountain Astrologer magazine.

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A Golden Heart

By Fern Mercier | February 3, 2014

(Our blog author, whilst marveling at the literary establishment that ignores astrological arcana, digs for golden nuggets while unravelling the mysteries of the silver threads at the heart of the recent novel, The Luminaries.)

Since reading Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, I have searched for reviews to supplement my understanding of the book, but have found very few that mention astrology, and then only fleetingly. As the very architecture of the book, not to mention its contents, is informed and infused with astrological wisdom, this may illustrate how fundamentally marginalised astrology is from the mainstream gatekeepers of our cultural practices. One particularly obnoxious New Zealand reviewer states: “a five finger exercise webbed together by the dubious dinosaur cement of astrology.” This quote, despite coming from a nasty, misogynistic review, seems to sum up the overall underlying attitude toward astrology of the English-speaking world’s top reviewers — The Guardian, NY Times, Telegraph, The Listener, etc. — although their reviews of the book itself are much kinder, wiser, and more insightful than our sour-grapes resident Kiwi.

And, of course, the Man Booker judges saw fit to give Catton the prize from a field of first-class world writers. (1) This speaks of the vivid power of her writing, the intricacy of her plot, and the marvelous mis-en-scene she creates in the Wild West gold digging town of Hokitika during the mid-1860s.

I found the book hard to put down — it is a lively murder mystery that lured me in with a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter. Every sentence led me on, or doubled me back to fit a puzzle that was challenging to de-code, but fun to try. I’m not sure if the style of writing, which reminds me of Charles Dickens, was meant to be a parody or a tribute to the great 19th-century Victorian novels. The compelling setting, the intricate descriptions, the multiple story-lines, the old-time chapter headings, the melodrama, the confessions and revelations from realistic characters — all of these combine into a classic confabulation that turns back into itself, ending at its beginning. Extraordinary!

And then there is the astrology. The first page gives us a Character Chart where the 20 main characters are identified as signs and planets, with places identified as astrological Houses. The dead man, Crosbie Wells, is classified under the heading of Terra Firma, and orbiting around him are seven characters who represent the Planets. There are also another 12 male characters who are grouped as Stellar, and who symbolise the zodiac signs as identified in the astrological charts that Catton provides at the beginning of each Part. Each chapter within each Part is set on the day of that chart. Each chapter has a heading that tells of the astrological influences at work, e.g., under Mercury in Sagittarius, we are introduced to Walter Moody, who is identified as Mercury in the Character Chart and moves under the force of Reason.

The book is long, but has an unusual structure. The first Part has 360 pages! (360° in the zodiac wheel). There are 12 Parts, with each part having exactly half the word count of the one that came before it, so the book curls in on itself — a sphere within a sphere.

This is complex, cunning, mind-bending wit, and yet you don’t have to know astrology to enjoy the experience of reading this intrigue. The astrology enhances the experience, yet not knowing it obviously doesn’t diminish the engrossing tale, as most of the reviewers testify.

I find Catton’s knowledge breathtaking, and her structural and writing achievement marvelous. I quibble over one of her characters using the tarot cards, as they weren’t part of the English-speaking world’s experience until the very late 19th century. Yet her overall historical reconstruction is absorbing. I do find disconcerting her traditional astrology’s patriarchal bias that gives form to a cast of all male characters (except for the feminine Moon and Venus). Although I grudgingly acknowledge the overwhelmingly masculine presence in that neck of the woods at that historical time, the lack of women among the “12 good men and true” of the zodiac still jars a feminist perspective. And indeed, Margaret Shepherd — playing Moon to her husband’s tyrannical Saturn — has a significant role in the plot despite her absence from the Character Chart. Perhaps she didn’t quite fit Catton’s schema? (The 13th sign?)

However, I love the author’s unique and thoughtful astrological interpretations. And I love the very thought of a major book that utilises astrology in such an intellectual, genius way as a poke in the eye to the chattering classes, who, in general, despise the very notion of astrology.

Having poured over Catton’s sunrise horoscope (Libra Sun with combust Mercury and retrograde Jupiter and Moon in Aquarius), I laugh at the reviewers critiquing her “cool” and “detached” style. (2) I guess it takes all that elemental airy elegance, combined with the sting in the tail of Saturn in Scorpio, to ruffle the feathers of the establishment.

Kirsty Gunn in the Guardian states:
“But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it. That’s the point, in the end, I think, of The Luminaries. It’s not about story at all. It’s about what happens to us when we read novels — what we think we want from them — and from novels of this size, in particular. Is it worthwhile to spend so much time with a story that in the end isn’t invested in its characters? Or is thinking about why we should care about them in the first place the really interesting thing? Making us consider so carefully whether we want a story with emotion and heart or an intellectual idea about the novel in the disguise of historical fiction… There lies the real triumph of Catton’s remarkable book.” (3)

I suspect Gunn is right in one way — the book is like a shaggy dog story. The whole shebang revolves around a dead body. Indeed I am still struggling to understand why Catton designated Terra Firma — our planet Earth — as a dead man. In astrology’s metaphysical wisdom, the cosmos, with all its planets, is alive and singing. I admit that the distillation of astrology’s symbolism into each character and scene creates a strangely detached puzzle that may appear ultimately to be without heart — for indeed lying at the centre is a dead man whose heart does not beat. So on one level the story indeed becomes “a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat.”

Yet if Terra Firma is symbolised as a dead body, then this idea does carry a moral and emotional weight. Earth, the dead centre, is exploited and murdered by Venus and Mars, and ignored by Jupiter and Saturn, who are engrossed in their own worldly squabbles of ambition and power. Maybe the author wants us to resuscitate the dead, empty centre, to rethink our attitudes toward our planet. She revives the Romance of the 19th century in style and substance, she re-animates our history in our quest for gold and greenstone, and reveals Crosbie Wells’ heart-breaking pleas for his brother to show some love (e.g., humanity). She carefully embeds an ancient, yet reviled, metaphysical knowledge that is at the heart of most Western cultural traditions into the foundations of her book and demands we read the story through its lens.

Is Catton intimating that perhaps our modern materialist version of Earth is a dead idea and needs to be restored? Reclaim the past to better re-view the future?

I don’t agree with Gunn that the story has no emotion or heart. The love story of the two luminaries, which ends and begins with the Old Moon in the Young Moon’s arms, is a heartfelt, even romantic, tale that is both old and new — and so worth reading!

(1) Man Booker Prize

(2) Eleanor Catton, September 24, 1985; London, Ontario, Canada.

(3) The Guardian

Bio: Fern Mercier is a professional Reader, teacher, consultant, writer, and educator in Astrology and Tarot. Auckland City, New Zealand is her home base. She has been practicing Astrology and Tarot for nearly 40 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in history and English from Otago University (1968). Fern discovered Tarot in the early 1970s; her first deck of cards was a 16th-century woodcut reprint from the British Museum. She has taught at several national and international conferences and her writing has appeared in numerous publications. She is also a frequent guest on radio and TV. She presented “Tricks of the Trade – Lifting the Veil of the High Priestess” at the LETS Symposium in Sante Fe on the Day of the Dead in 2010. This was the first Tarot gathering to be available worldwide through a live-stream video webcast program. (If you’re interested in oracles, sibyls, and the history of the High Priestess, you can download her presentation here.)

She can be found on the web at: or email:Fern Mercier

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