TMA This Week

The Uranus-Pluto Squares: Serving the Needs of an Epoch

By Gary P. Caton | September 16, 2013

“The essential task of astrologers should be to
interpret human life in terms of the needs of the epoch.”
 – Alexander Ruperti (1)

In my last post on TMA’s blog, I predicted “the triggers for the Syrian crisis could very likely be transiting Sun, Mercury, and/or Mars to the charts of Obama and/or the July 4, 1776 charts. One time in particular to watch will be the period around September 12, as Mercury moves ahead of the Sun by 15 degrees. Hellenistic astrologers called this ‘phasis,’ or an appearance, as Mercury returns to visibility around this time.” (1) On September 9, just a few days before Mercury’s official appearance, a perspicacious remark by a news reporter (Mercury) changed everything about the direction of the Syrian crisis, turning it from an imminent military strike into a diplomatic discussion. (2) This change in direction happened as Mercury crossed 0° Libra, the autumnal equinox point, part of the World, or Mundane, axis. The tropical zodiac is based on the seasonal “turning points” of the equinoxes and solstices. “Tropical” probably derives from the Greek word tropos, meaning to spin or turn. Because the cardinal points mark the places of the turning of the seasons, world events often seem to turn in accord with planets crossing these foundational places in the tropical zodiac. For instance, the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened in March 2011 as Mercury crossed the vernal point (i.e., 0° Aries) in conjunction with transiting Uranus.
Chart: bi-wheel: U.S. chart, July 4, 1776, sunrise and transits for September 9, 2013
(The Uranus-Pluto conjunction at 16° Virgo on June 30, 1966 is also noted.)

In the transit chart for September 9 (outer wheel), we see the Sun crossing the degrees of the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunctions, which were in 1965-1966 at 17°-18° Virgo. This signifies world leaders (Sun) being forced to confront some of the collective issues of our times (Uranus-Pluto). We can also see that transit Mercury is square natal Venus in the chart of the U.S. cast for July 4, 1776 (sunrise). Venus symbolizes diplomacy in a mundane chart and the U.S. natal Venus at 2° Cancer is also on the cardinal or World axis. Transit Venus is in her own sign of Libra, thereby transferring some of her natural dignity to Mercury upon his ingress into Libra (a concept known as co-presence in Hellenistic astrology). Although it is more than any of us may have expected, or even hoped for, the significations for this event are therefore clearly stated in the transits to the July 4, 1776 chart.
Also, since transiting Mercury is 13° ahead of the transit Sun, Mercury is approaching a crucial turning point in its cycle. In Hellenistic astrology, if a planet will make the 15° separation from the Sun within a week, it is considered to be in “phasis,” or making an appearance, and the chart is seen to be saturated with the significations of that planet. Both the July 4, 1776 chart for the U.S. and the chart for September 9, 2013 meet these requirements: Mercury was 15° from the Sun on July 1, 1776 and on September 12, 2013 – both less than seven days from the events of the Declaration of Independence and the turning point in the Syrian crisis. Therefore, Mercury has overwhelmed and saturated an issue that had previously been considered only a Mars matter (a military strike as the only option) with Mercury’s signification of communication.

This coming together via communication is also a signification of what I call the Mercury Elemental Year of Water. (4) Because all three Mercury retrogrades are happening in water signs this year, Mercury spends much more time in water signs than the other signs. One of the primary qualities of water is moistness and cohesiveness. This also happens to be true of the year 1776. Both years represented opportunities for messages and messengers to find new levels of cohesion.

Furthermore, with the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunctions moving from Aries (1850-1851) to Virgo (1965-1966), we can see that the choice of communication over belligerence is clearly in alignment with the needs of our epoch. The day after Mercury reached 15° of separation from the Sun, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. (5)

I use a chart for Russia similar to the one used by Adrian Ross Duncan (6), for December 25, 1991 at 7:32 p.m., the moment the new flag was raised over the Kremlin in Moscow. (7) The following chart shows this horoscope for the “new” Russia on the inside; the July 4, 1776 chart for the U.S. next; the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in the third ring, and finally, in the outer ring, the transits for September 14, 2013, the day of the proposal agreement.
Chart: Inner: “new” Russia; 2nd: U.S. July 4, 1776; 3rd: Uranus-Pluto conjunction; outer: transits for September 14, 2013.

We can see in the outer wheel that transiting Mercury in Libra, still in “phasis,” or in the process of making a dramatic appearance out from under the Sun’s beams, is also in a t-square with the epochal Uranus-Pluto squares. This transit t-square is also in alignment with the nodal axis of the horoscope for Russia. Russia’s nodes are located at 9° Capricorn/Cancer; Mercury in the transit chart for the agreement is at the South Bending of Russia’s natal nodal axis. Perhaps this means we are finally leaving behind the belligerence of the previous epoch — the period between the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in Aries/1850-1851 and Virgo/1965-1966) — which saw two World Wars. Another hopeful sign that this may be true is the Venus/North Node/Saturn conjunction in Scorpio happening at the North Bending of the U.S. natal nodal axis at 6° Leo/Aquarius. Perhaps we’re seeing a defining moment of a new direction for the U.S. I have often said that alignments with/to the nodes represent opportunities for us to “renegotiate our sacred contracts.” (8)

Please, make no mistake, this author is far from naïve or unaware of the many hidden undercurrents and possibilities this alignment in Scorpio represents. There are numerous reasons to believe that this agreement may not be what it appears to be; the real issue here may have more to do with U.S. and Russian interests regarding oil and/or the dollar as the default currency for oil sales, aka the “petrodollar.” (9) Recently I have stated in at least two different public forums that I’m afraid political issues often serve as a veil that keeps us from seeing the incredibly simple and profound primary need of our epoch.

The Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in Virgo in 1965-1966 were the first conjunctions of this pair not to occur in fire signs for more than 700 years. (10) Shortly after this long reign of fire was ended by conjunctions in an earth sign, we humans saw the entire Earth from space for the first time. (11) The first photograph of a “full” Earth, known as the “Blue Marble Shot,” which became the inspiration for Earth Day, holds the secret to the most fundamental — dare I say elemental — need of our epoch. Virgo is the sign of proper stewardship of resources and of efficiency, order, and cleanliness being next to godliness. The gross excesses of the fiery Industrial Age must now be controlled and cleaned up if we are to have any hope of living harmoniously in alignment with the needs of our epoch and our planet.

In fact, when you look at the entire cycle of the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions through the four elements, an interesting economic pattern emerges. The last time the conjunctions occurred in earth signs (approximately 800 BC to 181 BC), as they are now, was when coinage of precious metals became the dominant currency. Copper, silver, and gold formed three tiers of coins for common, business, and state transactions. This system lasted through the air period that followed (from 181 BC to 582 AD). Many of the economic innovations that define our modern economy were introduced in the medieval Islamic world between the 7th and 12th centuries AD. (12) This period was defined by Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in water signs (from 582-1201 AD). It wasn’t until the 17th century that paper money entered Europe during the fire period (from 1343 until 1965).
After the earth conjunctions began in 1965, the U.S. abandoned the gold standard, which tied its currency to precious metal deposits, and instead negotiated an alliance via Saudi Arabia where the U.S. dollar would be tied to oil. Enter the petrodollar. Of course, this is in alignment with the July 4, 1776 horoscope for the U.S., which has Neptune at 22° Virgo conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Although an economy based on the burning of fossil fuels is not in alignment with the epoch defined by conjunctions in earth signs, this author is hopeful that the U.S. will continue to take the first baby steps under these waxing Uranus-Pluto squares away from the belligerence, waste, and pollution of the previous fire period toward a more sustainable future defined by alternative energies and the power of the pen over the sword. Perhaps then the fruits of the current cycle, which we are destined to reap at the waning squares (2064–2065), will be somewhat less bitter than those of the previous waning square cycle (1932-1934).

References & Recommended reading:

(1) Bell, Lynn, “A Conversation with Alexander Ruperti,”
TMA Dec/Jan 1997/98 #76 –pg 34.

(2) The Uranus Pluto Squares: A Crisis in Action
(3) Mediaite

(4) The Mercury Elemental Year 2013
(5) Washington Post
(6) World of Wisdom
(7) NY Times
(8) Tuning into the Subtler Signals in the Sky
(9) See Eric Francis Coppolino’s excellent and well researched astro-reporting from the last two issues of Planet Waves.
Planet Waves
Planet Waves
(10) Jenkins, Palden
Astrological Cycles in History

Uranus-Pluto cycles and the storms of history
(11) The Atlantic

(12) Wikipedia
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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The Uranus/Pluto Squares: A “Crisis in Action”

By Gary P. Caton | September 2, 2013

“The essential task of astrologers should be to
interpret human life in terms of the needs of the epoch.”

-Alexander Ruperti (1)

In my lecture tours criss-crossing the country over the last few years, one of the mainstays has been a series on the often overlooked, under-valued, and misunderstood planet, Mercury. (2) One of the best received lectures in this series has been “The Importance of Mercury to our Epoch.” I think people like it because I outline Mercury’s contribution within a framework they are more familiar with: the cycles of the outer planets. In this way, the lecture makes for an excellent introduction to the deeper mysteries of the Trickster planet.

One of the primary ways we define an epoch in astrology is via the outer planets. They are also called “generational planets” because their long, slow movements tie together collective themes. There are three fundamental outer-planet cycles we can follow: Neptune-Pluto, Uranus-Neptune, and Uranus-Pluto. Interestingly, two of these three cycles are currently anchored in signs ruled by Mercury. The most recent Neptune-Pluto conjunction was in 1891-92 at 8° – 9° Gemini, and the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunction was in 1965-66 at 17° – 18° degrees of Virgo.

When interpreting the needs of our epoch, we should be talking about the sign Virgo and its ruler, Mercury, as much as (if not more than) Aries and Capricorn, the signs of the current Uranus-Pluto squares. Since this Uranus-Pluto cycle began with conjunctions in Virgo, if we want to understand the deeper energies and issues of our times, we should look back to where the squares have come from.

(Editor’s note: This chart shows the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo, their current positions in Aries and Capricorn and their midpoint in Aquarius)

A perfect case study of this principle is President Barack Obama, with his natal Mars conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction degrees. He was elected in 2008, in part because he promised to end the wars in which we were engaged. And yet with his natal Mars conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions, during the current Uranus-Pluto squares he has been faced twice (previously in Libya) with the need to initiate military actions of his own. On August 21, as the transiting Sun and Mercury (25° – 27° Leo) moved through the midpoint of the transiting Uranus-Pluto square (26° Aquarius), there was a horrible chemical weapons attack in Syria, killing more than a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The transit Sun-Mercury of the attack was also on President Obama’s natal Uranus/North Node conjunction (26° Leo). Since then, the Obama administration has responded boldly with frank accusations. Secretary of State Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a thug and murderer,” unequivocally blaming him for the attack and adding that “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction.” (3) It seems clear from his statements that President Obama feels strongly that we, as a nation, must respond with force to the use of chemical weapons, whether or not there is international support for such an action.

As I write this (August 31), transit Mercury is rapidly moving in on the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction degrees in mid-Virgo, and President Obama has announced he will seek Congressional approval for military force. As synchronicity displays itself, Congress is scheduled to return to session on September 9, just as the Sun crosses the degrees of the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Yesterday, news arrived that Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending warships into the Mediterranean where U.S. ships have already been staged. (4) This is not terribly surprising, given that Russia is Syria’s most powerful ally, but it seems to this astrologer that perhaps Putin did not get enough satisfaction from foiling Obama’s pursuit of Snowden and is still happy to be the fly in Obama’s ointment. This may be mainly symbolic and say more about the ongoing relationship with our Cold War enemy “heating up” rather than being an iminent danger. But there are fears that a U.S. attack on Syria will be answered with attacks on Israel. (5) In such a volatile region, it certainly seems possible that even a limited U.S. attack could have unintended consequences, probably far-reaching ones.

So, what does the astrology say about how this very touchy situation will play out? A look at President Obama’s chart is not reassuring. Transit Mars is conjunct Obama’s Mercury and in a few days transit Mercury will be conjunct Obama’s Mars (exact on September 4). Even though these transits reflect the fact that he has clearly stated his intention and readiness to strike, it seems hopeful, under such rapidly moving triggers, that the President has taken the considered measure of seeking approval from Congress. What is more troubling is that the midpoint of the transiting Uranus-Pluto squares is precisely on Obama’s natal Uranus (25°16 Leo). This is exact on September 8 and is reflected by the sesquisquares of collective planets, Uranus and Pluto, to Obama’s natal Uranus/North Node. The additional aspects from transiting North Node/Saturn (now conjunct) and Pluto (sextile) to Obama’s natal Neptune do not inspire confidence against the possibility of unintended consequences from President Obama’s well-intentioned military plans.

Chart: Barak Obama natal and transits for August 31, 2013.
(The Uranus-Pluto conjunction at 16° Virgo on June 30, 1966 is also noted.)

Cause for further unease can be found when consulting any national chart for the U.S. cast for July 4, 1776. We see that the U.S. natal Neptune was transited by the 1960’s Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Since this is also activating the U.S. natal Mars-Neptune square, perhaps this sheds light on our continuous propensity to get involved in military quagmires during and since that time period. At the time of the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21, transit Mars was conjunct the natal Mercury of the July 4, 1776 chart. Since our President has previously stated publicly that there is a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons, this foreign attack is personal. Now transit Mars in Leo is applying to the U.S. natal North Node.

Chart: U.S. Sibly and transits for August 31, 2013.

The avid reader of this blog may remember my previous post pointing out that Mercury and Mars are very active during the next year in the solar return for any July 4, 1776 charts, and the historical propensity for enemies to surface under these alignments. (6) From this, one naturally suspects two things. First, the triggers for the Syrian crisis could very likely be transiting Sun, Mercury, and/or Mars to the charts of Obama and/or the July 4, 1776 charts. One time to watch out for is around September 12, as Mercury moves ahead of the Sun by 15 degrees. Hellenistic astrologers called this “phasis,” or an appearance, as Mercury returns to visibility around this time. Shortly thereafter, on September 16, transit Mars makes a conjunction to President Obama’s Sun. Second, even if the U.S. does not attack and manages to steer clear of a quagmire in Syria, the presence of figures like Assad and Putin on the horizon are still very troubling in the long-term. After all, it was during the previous occurrence of the 79-year Mercury/Mars synodic return cycle to the 1776 charts (the same cycle occurring again this year) that Hitler first came to power, and we eventually had to deal with him personally during our national Uranus return to its 1776 natal placement in Gemini.

(1) Bell, Lynn. “A Conversation with Alexander Ruperti,”
TMA Dec/Jan 1997/98, pg. 34.

(2) Recording of these talks can be purchased here

(3) Huffington Post

(4) HuffingtonPost

(5) Time

(6) The 79-Year Cycles of Mercury and Mars in the USA Horoscope by Gary P. Caton

A video of the author’s presentation on themes similar to this article (i.e., the 79-year Mercury/Mars cycle and the Uranus-Pluto squares) can be purchased here

Recommended reading:
Ruperti, Alexander. 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

Jenkins, Palden, Astrological Cycles in History

Uranus-Pluto cycles and the storms of history

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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Some thoughts on prediction and a personal story..

By Anne Whitaker | August 26, 2013

The question of whether it is possible to foretell the future is one which has preoccupied humans ever since we evolved into self-conscious beings and began to conceptualise past, present, and future — now thought to be around 80,000 years ago. Prediction has been around for a long time. Economists do it. Weather forecasters do it. Politicians do it. Physicists do it. Futurologists do it. 

Most of the foregoing predictors direct scorn and derision at the people who have done it for longer than anyone else: astrologers.

There is several thousand years’ worth of recorded empirical evidence — much of it stored on clay tablets, as yet undeciphered, in the basements of museums across the world — demonstrating that the movements of  the planets in our solar system correlate with particular shifts in “the affairs of men” (Shakespeare’s term, not mine!). 

This empirical observation continues into the present day in the consulting rooms of astrologers across the world. For example, a number of politicians and economists consult astrologers regularly. They are mostly unwilling to admit it, though we astrologers know who they are!

What we can, and cannot, do

Both astrologers and astronomers, via planetary observation, can look at and correctly plot the unfolding pattern of energies through space-time. After that, astrologers step into a different realm than that of observation of the external, material, planetary world. By looking at a section of any points or moments of the past, present, or future via a horoscope, they can examine the essence of that moment in terms of its meaning, and speculate with moderate accuracy about what some of the branches manifesting in the wider world, or in individuals’ lives, may be.

What they can’t do, (with some notable exceptions, which I hope readers of this blog may offer!), is to see exactly, and with consistency, how those branches are going to manifest. Historically, our track record on hindsight is much better than it is on foresight!

There have been some spectacularly accurate predictions made by astrologers in the public realm over the centuries; a famous one was made by Luc Gauricus in 1555 to the effect that King Henry II of France (then aged thirty-seven) was in danger of death in his forty-second year, by a head injury incurred in single combat in an enclosed space. And five years later Henry duly died of a lance splinter which entered his eyes and pierced his brain.

There have also been some spectacular failures, e.g., to predict that the Munich agreement of 1938 would lead to World War II. 

A new model slowly emerging

We do much better at describing the essence of a pattern, but identifying the exact branches is much more hit and miss. Personally this cheers me, since it appears to suggest a creative balance between fate and free will in the universe; chaos theory in contemporary physics also has strong parallels with the astrological paradigm. Both the language of astrology and the language of quantum physics tells us that not everything  is pinned down.

Indeed, a view and a model are slowly emerging, despite considerable resistance from the diehard defenders of reductionism, which can demonstrate convincingly that the lenses of astrology and quantum physics are focusing on the same underlying, all encompassing Reality.  

The perspectives offered by contemporary writers, astrologers, depth psychologists, and scientists, such as Richard Tarnas, Liz Greene, the late Charles Harvey, Stanislav Grof, Brian Swimme, Rupert Sheldrake, and others — including very recent books by astrologers Armand Diaz and Kieron Le Grice — have been of inestimable value to me in the last few years. I urge any readers of this blog who are keen to expand their own perspectives to explore their work.

Consciousness holds the key

My view, based on my personal experiences and those of clients and students over 30 years, as well as extensive reading and study, is that the key dimension in determining how a particular planetary pattern will play out in a person’s life is the level of consciousness at which they are operating at the time the inevitable challenges of life come their way. 

Most astrologers have had the humbling experience of looking at the horoscope of a client which looks so difficult that the impending consultation feels very stressful, but upon encountering the client, they meet someone who has faced, dealt with, and grown through hard experiences that would have flattened a less aware person. We can never predict the level of awareness of a client we have never met, although we can have a pretty good idea that, e.g., Mars conjunct Saturn conjunct Pluto square the Moon is going to be no walk in the park.

I am personally very hesitant about both the accuracy and the wisdom of predicting at all, especially for individuals, in any more than a “describing the core and speculating about the branches” kind of way. Predicting that a specific branch will manifest may well close down possibilities rather than open them up, which also takes us into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, when Uranus was about to cross my Pisces Descendant in 2005, beginning its seven or so years’ traverse of my 7th house, I became concerned about what this might mean for my marriage. The rather problematic implications of Uranus’ impact on the relationship realm that practising astrologers see every day in their students’ and clients’ lives, as well as their own, worried me.

However, a profound, totally unexpected spiritual experience on my husband’s part linked both our spiritual journeys into walking the same path at the same time. This has had a supportive, deepening effect on our marriage and not one I could possibly have envisaged before Uranus crossed my Descendant. 

My personal prediction story

Having just made what I hope is a coherent case for specific prediction being a practice of dubious merit and only intermittent accuracy, here is my own striking experience of being on the receiving end of a specific prediction I never asked for, at a time when I was a typical astrology dismisser, i.e, I considered that astrology was rubbish without ever having taken the trouble to study it.

Bath, Somerset, England, June 1974: I was engrossed in the Sunday evening chore of doing washing in the launderette on the London Road, near where I lived. It was a liminal time in my life. After having resigned from a lecturing job, I was preparing to leave Bath, and a return to the Outer Hebrides was imminent. 
A strange looking couple came in, accompanied by a little girl of about five years old. The woman was tall, slender, with long dark hair, a very scruffy Afghan coat, and a distinct look of Cher (of Sonny and Cher fame). The man was smaller than her, slight, with unruly greying hair and a mischievous face. 

I carried on with my laundry. The little girl was chatty; soon, she was putting money into the dryer for me, I was telling her stories, and we had become great friends. I met her parents. They were both artists and astrologers. (Editor’s note: “Seamus” and “Gloria” are fictitious names.)

“Not the kind who do that stuff you see in the papers,” said Seamus scornfully, having noted the fleeting look of disdain which crossed my face at the mention of the word astrology. (I had given one of my mature students a very hard time a couple of years before for her public devotion to what seemed to me a subject unworthy of someone of her intelligence.) Seamus said, “We are the real thing.”

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in their cramped basement kitchen, drinking tea, and being charmed by Seamus. His combination of erudition, intensity, conviction, humour, and blarney was irresistible. 

An unsuspecting client . . .

“Do you know your birth time?” he asked. “Yes, 7:35 a.m.,” I replied. “Why are you interested in that?”
“Because I am going to draw up your horoscope”, he replied. Whether I wanted such a procedure embarked upon or not was of no consequence to him. So slain was I by his charm that I didn’t offer any resistance. 

As I watched, interested in spite of myself, Gloria and Seamus assembled a hefty tome, a slim pamphlet, blank sheets of paper, a calculator, a fountain pen, and a newly sharpened pencil. The tome was an ephemeris, they informed me —  a list of the planets’ placements everyday at noon for the whole of the 20th century. 

Seamus took a blank sheet, carefully drawing a circle freehand in its centre. He then proceeded with great rapidity and fluency to insert squiggles — “Planets!” — and numbers around the inner edge of the circle. He then drew lines within a smaller inner circle — “Aspects, or links between the planets at the time you were born.” He and Gloria then sat back, gazing with silent preoccupation at the image they had created.

The chart from 1974:

Anne Whitaker, natal 1974

I can still recall very, very clearly what followed.

Seamus, looking at his drawing and only briefly at me, gave an astonishingly accurate description of my father’s complex, domineering, idiosyncratic and wayward character. That was bad enough, not least because it reminded me of certain aspects of myself! Worse was to follow. 

“You are a person rich with creative gifts,” he said. “But you need to know and face more clearly the more difficult facets of your own nature. It’s time to do that, since you are approaching 30 and your Saturn Return.” With that, he forensically summed up those parts of myself which I knew were there, but had tried very hard to avoid facing or admitting to anyone — a very common and human failing that Saturn transits expose and challenge on a cyclic basis throughout our lives. I was feeling by this time as though I’d been hit on the side of the head with a sock full of sand.

Then, with true rhetorical skill, he delivered the punch line. “You tell me you are a total sceptic now,” he said. “But stop fooling yourself. You have a deeply spiritual nature, which needs to find meaning and connection with something greater than yourself. Until you manage that, you will be driven by the same restlessness that still drives your father, and you will not find inner peace.”

There was a long pause.

“And I can see, from where the planets will be in about seven years’ time, that the Big Picture is going to come seriously calling at your door. In your early thirties, you’re going to end up either doing what I’m doing now, or something very like it.”

I was utterly shocked. I had known those people for less than an hour, most of which had been spent walking back from the launderette to their flat and organising cups of tea. They knew nothing about me of any significance. How could they produce such specific and accurate material from marks on a piece of paper? I couldn’t even begin to get my head round the prediction. It seemed beyond absurd.

Slowly, I carried my laundry home. There was no way I could find to make sense of the experience I had just had. There was no file inside my head into which it could fit. 

Seven years later

Seven years later, a friend gave me a copy of Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology. I had no idea why, but had enough respect for that friend and his opinions to begin reading. About three pages in, I had the strangest sensation of someone pulling me into the book, saying “Come here, you’re for me…” I still have this battered old copy with my signature on it — February 1981. 

And my transits at the time? The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Libra exactly conjunct natal 2nd-house Neptune and exactly sextile natal 11th-house Mercury (my ruling planet); Uranus crossing the natal IC; Neptune beginning a long opposition to the natal 10th-house Uranus-Mars conjunction, and trine to the natal 12th-house Sun; Pluto trine natal Uranus and sextile natal Sun; North Node conjunct natal Mercury. A summons, pretty much . . .
In February 1981, that prediction, (which I had never quite forgotten), and the feeling of fascination, compulsion, and exhilaration which Alan Oken’s book triggered in me came together in a way that has profoundly shaped the whole of my subsequent life.

Concluding thoughts

It’s good for us all — especially people like me, with seven planets in fixed signs! — to get jolted out of our positions now and then by experiences that don’t fit our frames of reference. Hopefully, the jolt will have the effect of breaking down some of our old defences and letting new experience and new knowledge enter our lives.

I re-interpreted Seamus’ prediction in the light of my own subsequent astrological knowledge; it was pretty obvious by then how he had got there, as was the timing of it.

I still think about the encounter with him, his child, and partner nearly 40 years later. Did his prediction, at some subliminal level, point my life in a direction that it would not otherwise have gone? I will never know. But I do know, as a result of our encounter, that whatever my reservations are about the wisdom of offering such specific outcomes to people, astrologers sometimes have the power to do just that.

Whether they should do it is another issue altogether!

Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, UK. Anne blogs at Writing from the Twelfth House at  and returned to her astrological practice in May 2012 after a very long sabbatical. 

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Vince Gilligan: Astrologically “Breaking Bad”

By Coeli Carr | August 11, 2013

The hottest Hollywood property these days is arguably Vince Gilligan, the creator and  executive producer of “Breaking Bad,” the critically acclaimed and iconically revered television drama now broadcasting its final eight episodes.
The narrative premise of “Breaking Bad” is hardly mainstream: As the series starts, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a milquetoast-type high school chemistry teacher, with a wife, a child, and a second one on the way, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Highly motivated to provide financially for his brood, he decides to use his skill set to cook exceptionally high-quality meth, and enlists the help of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a chem-inept former student with drug connections.
Describing the series as a tale of Mr. Chips becoming Scarface, Gilligan, who also writes and directs for the series, has now paved the way for his protagonist — currently a drug kingpin who’s created a persona for himself called “Heisenberg” — to take whatever justice Gilligan and his team of writers have decided to mete out.
But for the astrologically minded, perhaps the bigger question is not how “Breaking Bad” ends, but what makes Vince Gilligan capable of descending, via his birth chart, to the hellish depths that Walter White now calls home.

Vince Gilligan, sunrise chart

Here are some answers:
1. Out-of-the-box thinking. As an Aquarian, born February 10, 1967, in Richmond, Virginia (source: Wikipedia; no birth time listed), Gilligan espouses non-conformity. So does White, by virtue of his choosing the anarchistic profession of meth maker and dealer. The Aquarian bent for reveling in decimating old structures and ways of thinking is mirrored in White, who essentially explodes his old self, metaphorically wakes up, and reinvents himself. White becomes a revolutionary, replacing one form of death for another.
Even the show’s title, “Breaking Bad,” smacks of Uranian energy. It’s a phrase used in the southern part of the U.S. and refers to swerving off the moral path. That sudden lurch — White’s decision was relatively spontaneous — is a spot-on description of the archetype.
2. Yod with apex to Aquarian Sun. Gilligan’s Sun is at 21° Aquarius, the apex of a yod in which the planets in sextile are Pluto at 20° Virgo conjunct Uranus at 24° Virgo, and Jupiter at 27° Cancer. Gilligan’s proclivities to turn the expected upside down — his futuristic side had found a nice home writing and producing for the sci-fi series “The X-Files” — gets an additional boost from Pluto’s and Uranus’s delight in life-and-death transformations, as well as Jupiter’s expansive desire to nurture and be involved with family.
The effects of the yod’s energy are a strong presence in “Breaking Bad”: White’s motive for getting into the meth business — the decision (Sun) that upheaves (Uranus)  his life — is to expand (Jupiter) resources for his family in the face of his impending death (Pluto), and a willingness to entertain death (Pluto) and literal explosions (Uranus) to achieve his goal (Sun),

3. Three-planet conjunction in Pisces. Had Gilligan been born at 1:30 a.m., his Moon would have been at 0° Pisces. I’ll assume a later birth time for him, which would situate his Moon in early Pisces, conjuncting his Mercury at 8° Pisces and, by bridge, to Venus at 14° Pisces. {Editor’s note: The chart is set for sunrise.} (Even with a very late Aquarian Moon, the conjunction holds.) This Moon-Mercury-Venus line-up in seductive and illusory Pisces suggests he’s a storyteller with a vivid imagination. He’s unafraid to tackle intensely emotional narrative scenarios, and is comfortable addressing values, deceit, and the mother (Moon) and wife (Venus) aspects of the Feminine.
In “Breaking Bad,” White’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), the mother of his offspring, is not merely aware of her husband’s drug activities, but is fully onboard criminally. She runs a car-wash business as a money-laundering (Pisces) enterprise. Slippery Pisces encourages shape-shifting, an activity her husband excels at. After five-and-a-half seasons, most of the world is still unaware of White’s true business and alter-ego.
Gilligan’s Moon also trines his Mars at 29° Libra, which likes to go after what it wants with a partner. To mount a television series, Gilligan obviously needs a sizable number of cohorts. Similarly, to accomplish his goal, White needs to work closely with another person — Jesse, at first, and later with larger drug entities — but competition (Mars) is still part of the Libran equation. 
4. Grand trine in water. Gilligan’s trining planets are Saturn at 28° Pisces, Neptune at 25° Scorpio, and Jupiter at 27° Cancer, which suggests the abilities to blend creative disciplines and to imaginatively explore issues of life and death, as well as a huge generosity toward family. In “Breaking Bad,” White’s desire to be his family’s Santa Claus (Jupiter) allows him to organize and create a business with a product that’s worth the price and to become its chief executive (all Saturn), thereby finding an imaginative (Neptune) solution, albeit one using tactics involving death.
5. Sun square Neptune. This is an aspect suggesting a blurring of ego with a view toward expressing compassion and seeking communion with the Divine, sometimes through drugs and sometimes involving deceit. White takes on (Sun) a fake (Neptune) persona behind which he can cook meth (Neptune), and becomes a father figure (Sun) to Jesse. He also tries to reach God in the best way he knows how — by becoming a deity in his own mind. 
6. Six planets in water signs. Gilligan’s placement of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and presumably his Moon, in water signs confers a generous amount of sensitivity toward others. But, as Liz Greene points out in her early book, Relating, “The symbolism of the water signs contains three cold-blooded creatures: the crab, the scorpion, and the fish,” which, she says, are “close to the archaic natural roots of man and very remote from the world of rational, differentiated human thought.” She also notes this type’s acquaintance with the darker side of human nature.” Sounds a lot like Walter White.
Given the absence of Gilligan’s birth time, one can make only a rudimentary assessment about what makes this exceptionally talented and likable man (as reported by colleagues) tick. The pleasure here is that, even with only the basics to work with, the spillover from his personal life to his creative expression in “Breaking Bad” is solid.
As Walter White says on the end-of-series poster, “Remember my name.” Astrologers know it was Gilligan’s to begin with.     
Bio: Coeli Carr comments about archetypes in pop culture on her web site AstroLass.

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Lorraine Warren: Hunting Demons in “The Conjuring”

By Coeli Carr | July 14, 2013

Summertime movie audiences notoriously like their big-screen experiences to be boisterous, larger-than-life, and explosively focused on good guys vanquishing evil in whatever form the bad guys dish it out. In “The Conjuring,” which releases on July 19th, those dark forces happen to be demonic. And battling them head-on is ghost-hunter and clairvoyant Lorraine Warren, an authentic yet rare type of action hero who’s mired in the sort of plots that Hollywood could not have dreamed up on its own.

Warren, now 86, and her husband Ed (1926-2006), a demonologist, were a formidable team. Together, they investigated paranormal occurrences and hauntings, the most famous probably being the Amityville Horror case in the mid-1970s, which provided the raw material for several movies. The house-haunting that the duo investigates in “The Conjuring (with Vera Farmiga portraying Warren and Patrick Wilson playing Ed) involves malevolent entities swarming through a rural home in Harrisville, Rhode Island, in 1971.

The personal and professional information the viewer learns about Warren through “The Conjuring” is one way to approach her birth chart. Born on January 31, 1927, at 6:40 p.m. in Bridgeport, Connecticut (birth data confirmed through Astro-Databank), Warren, with Neptune a prominent part of her horoscope, has never been a stranger to the spirit world.

Warren’s Ascendant is 0° Virgo, conjoining her 12th-house Neptune at 26° Leo. The 12th house is traditionally associated with places of confinement, and Warren’s life work has involved her selfless and spiritual (Neptune) assistance to families literally imprisoned in their own homes with demons, intent on possession, in the captor role. Evil forces are capable of literally jailing the living, as doors slam shut and lock and disembodied forces push people down stairs into metaphoric dungeons.

Lorraine Warren, natal

With Neptune so aligned with her persona, Warren is extraordinarily sensitive both to people and situations. “The Conjuring” makes this point when Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) approaches the couple in the parking lot after they’ve given a lecture. (You can catch a glimpse of the real-life Warren, who plays a lecture attendee, in the lower left part of the screen.)

Perron is desperate. The audience has already witnessed the ever increasing evil generated from “the other side” that the Perrons – her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters – have endured in their new home in Harrisville. Ed, who is extraordinarily protective of Warren, hints at a previous job-gone-bad in which Warren’s Neptunian porosity has left her unprotected from an exorcism’s fallout. “Whatever Lorraine sees takes a toll on her,” he says. But Warren is firm in her compassion to assist, citing the couple’s mission.

Warren’s Neptune, which rules both her 7th and 8th houses, is also the apex of a yod, with Uranus at 27° Pisces in the 8th house sextiling her Moon at 22° Capricorn in the 5th. As part of her work with clients, she deals with Uranus’s highly unpredictable and wickedly out-of-nowhere underworld behavior emanating from her house of death. Fortunately, her earthly and practical Capricorn Moon recognizes the spiritual life-and-death stakes, and the movie isn’t shy about featuring the rosary beads that are wound around her hand, almost like a bandage.

Her 5th-house Moon reflects Warren’s emotional (Moon) commitment (Capricorn) and responsibility (Capricorn) to children and their adult caretakers who, because of their inability to protect their offspring, are similarly in need of a shepherd who’ll risk (5th house) it all. Warren’s Moon is also opposed by Pluto in the 11th and, because of Scorpio on her 4th-house cusp, it’s clear that she is at “home” in the collective. However, the pull between powerful Pluto – and its association with either literally saving souls from death or damning them – and her Moon wreaks havoc with Warren’s personal commitment to her own daughter, whom the film shows to be tended to by Warren’s mother. With Neptune, sacrifice is a given.

Warren’s Saturn in the 4th house further underscores the responsibilities tied to protecting the literal homes of her clients, and sheds light on what the Warrens’ home has come to represent. In their own domicile, out of a profound sense of responsibility, is a so-called “museum” filled with artifacts from their house-haunting projects that are safer when kept as whole objects, rather than being destroyed.

Early in the movie, a reporter interviews Ed, who explains the story behind a creepy doll so powerful that it’s kept in its own glass enclosure, a clear example of the “rules” that Warren’s Saturn demands in the home. The Harrisville case also has its own “toy,” a circus-themed music box whose mirrored design can reflect spirits, again evoking Warren’s “responsible mother” role in the 5th house of playthings. Literally, every toy must be in its place – the order of the universe might depend on it.

In addition to her yod, Warren has another prominent configuration in her chart: a fixed t-square, with Mars at the apex at 20° Taurus in the 9th house and conjunct her Midheaven. Mars squares her Neptune-Ascendant and her Venus at 28° Aquarius.

Warren’s Mars suggests a public career (MC) as a fighter (Mars) for the status quo and security (Taurus). This placement also needs to support her personal 12th-house spiritual connection with divine forces (Neptune) which links to her Ascendant. Neptune opposes her 6th-house Venus, which rules her Midheaven and conjuncts her Descendant. The sign Aquarius gives Venus its capacity to love and be the light bringer (Uranus) in a highly idiosyncratic (Uranus) way, tying those progressive energies to an 11th-house North node.

Further emphasizing Warren’s Aquarian proclivities toward intuition and seeing the future (Uranus) is her Sun-Mercury conjunction at 11° and 14° Aquarius in her 6th house. Her chart ruler, Mercury, is tied to the Sun, further underscoring her purpose (Sun) in life, through her work (6th house) to liberate (Uranus) people from spiritual disruption and tyranny (Uranus) through the media (Mercury).

With respect to the timing of this movie, it’s worth noting that Jupiter, the ruler of Warren’s 5th house of entertainment, is at 3° Pisces in her 7th house, in an out-of-sign conjunction with Venus. In May and June 2012, Neptune, which rules motion pictures and also rules her 7th house of dealing with the public, conjoined Jupiter at this degree and made its third exact pass in March 2013. This fall, and in early 2014, Neptune will contact that point again.

Whether this transit brings Warren additional recognition, acclaim or instills greater public awareness of her work, it’s a nice bit of conjuring. The good kind.

Bio: Coeli Carr comments about archetypes in pop culture at

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The water element prevails

By Mary Plumb | July 8, 2013

As I approached this blog I thought about the upheaval in Egypt, the San Francisco plane crash, the Quebec train crash, the gruesome soccer match in Brazil, Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon — no lack of remarkable events.

But on Sunday — with Jupiter and retrograde Mercury in Cancer and the dark of the Moon with both luminaries in Cancer and also Saturn’s stationing direct in Scorpio — I was feeling a bit moody and decided to just wait and listen for a theme to write about.

Melanie Reinhart was the first person I heard use the term “metalog” to describe the phenomena of “that which we are speaking about is also arising.” In the transparent world we astrologers often inhabit, this is something that happens naturally and often – that which we are attending to makes an appearance.

So, I was thinking about Saturn’s station when I got a call from someone in NYC (who also happens to be getting to the last pass of the first Saturn return). Saturday (Saturn’s day) had been a big disappointment — a job he had seriously been counting on fell through.

On Sunday he was on a day trip from lower Manhattan to somewhere outside the city to escape to a friend’s swimming pool on a gorgeous summer day. He left the apartment with barely enough time to take the subway to Penn Station, to catch the train to have an afternoon away from the immediate confines of the city.

The subway that happened by first was not an express, but the much slower local, stopping at every stop. He methodically recounted the name of each station to me on the phone. It took forever, but he did get there just in time to catch the train to a sunny afternoon.

What a perfectly literal Saturn station conversation. And yesterday the transiting Moon was applying to oppose Pluto and square Uranus. The urgency to get away, to get free of something, to break out is a familiar sensation these days. But Saturn’s station is like the local train…we go slowly, no stop can be overlooked, no shortcuts taken. We may feel frustrated by the pace with so much of importance to attend to, but when we respect the unfolding of time, events proceed properly.

The Theosophists and Alan Leo spoke of Saturn as character building. In Scorpio our character is formed in the dark tunnels of subjectivity and in the magnetizing power of our attachments and desires. Emotional insight, coming to understand a deeper reality, comes from staying right on the edge of intensity – this is one of Scorpio’s gift.

Saturn may keep us waiting; patience and restraint are the ingredients in the current emotional caldrons.

Saturn inclines towards solitude and loneliness, but we won’t stay there. It’s a temporary and ever-fluid state — Saturn is moving directly, gloriously, towards Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces. (Saturn trines Jupiter precisely on July 17 and Neptune on the 19th.)

Saturn brings the humility to accept the restraints and limitations in our experience. We can bypass the ubiquitous seductions of our culture — no one has everything they want; every one of us has a portal of emptiness and isolation inside which a deeper fulfillment and meaning may actually dwell. Saturn rewards the yogis and ascetics, as well as the builders and architects.

The water signs are mute. All are connected to the occult, the hidden aspects of our experience and the matrix that gives birth to form.

There is creative and gentle magic in the air these days with the generosity of water signs lining up in ongoing harmonious configurations.

With Cancer we are carried further on the timeless journey home – home to wherever we feel safe and to whatever feeds body and soul. A Cancer theme is our remembrance of the past and our yearning to belong.

Cancer is the beginnings of life, the myths and realities of our origins; Scorpio brings constant death and resurrection and Pisces pulls us away from the material and into the poetry of the soul life.

The water trilogy, shining from above, show that fullness and emptiness, the exquisite and the brutal, the soft and the firm, are all part of the wholeness of life from which we never can be separate.

We may not know where we are going but we know we will get there.

Happy Cancer New Moon week, everyone!

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Paula Deen: From the Frying Pan into the Firestorm

By Alex Miller | July 1, 2013

On Wednesday, June 19, 2013, the National Enquirer released transcripts from a deposition taken from noted TV chef Paula Deen in a racial and sexual discrimination suit by a former employee. According to her testimony, Deen replied, “Yes, of course,” when asked if she ever used the “N-word,” and also admitted to telling racial jokes “in the past.” Deen went on to place this in context, describing an incident early in her first marriage when a black man held a gun to her head during a bank robbery (something not likely to endear him to her), and also related instances of recounting “a conversation between blacks” to justify her use of the pejorative. Deen also admitted to briefly considering giving her brother “a true Southern plantation-style wedding” in 2007, before realizing how the media would portray that. When questioned by her restaurant manager, who is now suing her, as to what that meant, Deen allegedly replied, “Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n*****s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties…you know, in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.”

The public response was immediate and devastating for the Food Network star, age 66, known for her high-fat, high-calorie, down-home Southern-style cooking. On June 21st, Food Network executives decided not to renew her contract when it expired at the end of the month, costing Deen her salary of $50,000 per episode and bringing their 11-year relationship to an end. Not content with the future, Food Network is apparently trying to rewrite the past, pulling all old episodes of her series from syndication — she has simply vanished from the air.

Smithfield Foods (of Virginia Ham fame), with whom she has had an endorsement contract since 2006, cut ties on June 24th, and retail outlets Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot followed suit on the 26th, stating they would no longer carry inventory on her line of cookware, health and wellness products, and fresh food items. On the 27th, Deen lost another endorsement contract with Novo Nordisk, manufacturer of diabetes drugs. (Deen had been diagnosed with the disease in 2009 but did not alter her cooking style or disclose her illness until 2012, when she announced her endorsement deal with the Danish pharmaceutical company whose main export is insulin.) Caesars Entertainment also stripped her name from four buffet casino restaurants in which they had partnered with Deen, who still co-owns two restaurants in Savannah with her sons and brother.

The litany of corporate rats leaving the sinking Deen ship rolls on — by Friday June 28th, Deen had lost product deals with Kmart, Sears, Walgreens and J.C. Penney. Also on the 28th, Ballantine Books announced they would not be publishing her forthcoming cookbook, Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up (despite a huge increase — more than 1000% — on pre-orders for the new book at since the story broke) and was also canceling her five-book contract.

The plunge down the rabbit hole seems complete for Deen, recently named the fourth highest-earning chef in America by Forbes magazine, which estimated a gross income of roughly $17 million in 2012 for the Southern cuisine diva. The rise to fame and wealth was a stupendous one for the Albany, Georgia native, who began her culinary career as “The Bag Lady,” selling box lunches from her home kitchen in 1989, developing this into a full-fledged catering business and then opening her first restaurant, “The Lady & Sons” in Savannah in 1996. She self-published her first two cookbooks in 1997, and 11 more have followed, with the 14th to have been released this fall by Ballantine. She has also written an autobiography, It Ain’t All About the Cookin (in which she relates a story of being blocked by Food Network when she wanted to present her viewers with her recipe for a “Sambo burger”). Television came calling in 2002 in the form of the Food Network, when the “Paula’s Home Cooking” series premiered, shot in her home kitchen, followed by “Paula’s Party” (2006) and “Paula’s Best Dishes” (2008).

After canceling an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today show on Friday June 21st, Deen released a video apology on YouTube, where she stated, “Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me, but it’s what’s in the heart, and my family and I try to live by that. I offer my sincere apology to those that I have hurt and I hope that you forgive me because this comes from the deepest part of my heart.” Deen later rescheduled with the Today show and appeared live on Wednesday the 26th in a tearful, sobbing segment reminiscent of Tammy Faye Bakker. Giving answers somewhat sympathetic, but also somewhat inconsistent, Deen stated, “I’m no actress, what you see is what you get. … I is what I is, and I’m not changin’,” a declaration of dubious utility given the circumstances.

Born on January 19, 1947 (time unknown), Paula Deen’s chart reveals a driven, career-oriented individual, with a potential for business success but also devastating loss. A mini-stellium of Sun, Mercury, and Mars in late Capricorn is joined by centaur Pholus and asteroid Paula, the last possibly subconsciously suggesting to her parents the name they would give her.

The Sun at 28° Capricorn with Mars at 25° suggests someone driven and energetic, with a strong will and a desire to excel. But there can also be a spontaneity to that placement which can prove a handicap, especially with Mars also conjoined by Mercury at 26° Capricorn, which can evoke sudden outbursts or unfortunate statements without due consideration of the consequences. There isn’t a lot of verbal control with this pairing, but Mercury’s detail orientation and communication skills and Mars’ tireless energy do add to the business acumen suggested by the strong focus on Capricorn, which also houses the Moon (its degree unknown, but in that sign all day), a perfect alignment for a cooking (Moon) professional (Capricorn). Pholus here at 24° Capricorn is also unfortunate, as it relates among other things to a certain level of toxicity, in this case allied to Mercury’s rulership of communication, sometimes capable of sparking mean-spirited or poisonous utterances.

But perhaps the most difficult aspect of this combination is the Sun’s placement directly in the cross-hairs of a Galactic Grand Cross, comprised of an exact conjunction with the Pulsar at 28° Capricorn, an exact opposition to one Black Hole at 28° Cancer, an exact square to another at 28° Libra, and a looser square to a third Black Hole at 26° Aries. Pulsars are stellar remnants which rotate rapidly, emitting radio or x-ray signals at regular intervals. They are informational in nature, and persons with strong contacts often gravitate to the media, as Deen finally did with the TV work which made her a national celebrity. Black Holes, the remnants of stars which have collapsed into pinpoints of such gravitational power that not even light can escape them, are very difficult to deal with. They can provide enormous reserves of energy, not always easy to tap into, but also sap strength and vitality, and tend to build one up only to tear one down. Their essence is one of change and transformation, a sudden, sweeping and unexpected alteration in the status quo, and they can be devastating in their effects. Deen’s stupendous and breathtaking fall from grace, with the virtual self-implosion of her empire within days, is typical of the kind of havoc they can wreak when roused. In particular, her total disappearance from the Food Network airwaves, no longer available even in rerun, is classically Black Hole in nature, making her effectively invisible.

The Sun and Mercury also oppose asteroid Pandora at 29° Cancer, making Deen subject to the release of unintended consequences of a disastrous nature, simply by being who she is (Sun) or via statements she has made (Mercury). Pandora’s conjunction with the Black Hole at 28° Cancer, conjoined by transit Venus (worth or value) at the height of the corporate bailout, is likely the spur for this sudden turnabout of fortune.

Current transits and eclipses colluded with Deen’s fall. Neptune had come to its retrograde station at 5° Pisces less than two weeks before the Enquirer story broke, from where it was exactly conjoined her natal asteroid Damocles, that point of doom hanging unseen and unsuspected overhead. The Lunar Eclipse of May 25th at 4° Sagittarius also t-squared Damocles, activating it further and evoking its latent potential for destruction.

Additionally, the ground was well prepared weeks before the May 17th deposition, when a Lunar Eclipse at 5° Scorpio, conjoined transit Saturn, exactly squared her natal Saturn at 5° Leo on April 25th, activating career matters but also potentially engendering loss or limitation. That point is natally conjunct Pluto at 12° Leo, this combination promoting a steely determination to succeed and attracting the many millions of dollars Deen has accrued, but also creating the possibility of a devastating collapse in career ambitions at some point in the life.

When Deen’s statements became public knowledge on June 19th, an exact transiting square between Mars and wound-maker Chiron at 13° Gemini and Pisces was exactly conjoined by asteroid Phaeton at 13° Gemini, the whole forming a t-square with natal Venus at 12° Sagittarius, to which transiting Uranus at 12° Aries was exactly trine. Mars represents Deen’s actions, while Chiron suggests nonconformist, maverick behaviors causing a fatal wound, and Phaeton signals a sudden, explosive and total breakdown or self-created destruction. All of this became focused on natal Venus’ emphasis on earning potential, personal values and ethics, with Uranus providing a severe shock to the system. Mars/Phaeton was also just coming into orb with natal Uranus at 18° Gemini, ruling shocking, controversial acts or statements, and linked to racist attitudes in the form of its rulership of xenophobia, a fear of “alien” persons.

There was also an exact union of the Sun and Jupiter at 28° Gemini that day, exactly inconjunct Deen’s 28° Capricorn Sun, and focusing attention (Sun) on her life philosophy or beliefs, reputation and social status, and interactions with the court (all Jupiter).

Perhaps most telling is a combination of transiting asteroid Paula at 23° Pisces exactly opposed natal asteroid Nemesis at 23° Virgo, a point related to vengeance, retribution, and undoing, which was itself conjoined to natal asteroid Karma at 21° Virgo, suggesting a moment of comeuppance or a fated circumstance based in past behaviors.

It’s hard to say where all this leaves Paula, amid the tatters of her butter-braised culinary empire. Her many fans seem to be sticking by her. As mentioned above, advance orders for her next cookbook shot up more than 1000% on before Ballantine cancelled its publication; two of her already published cookbooks have risen to the top of the bestseller list; lines still stretch around the block for her Savannah restaurant, and the Food Network’s Facebook page is blowing up with angry messages decrying the decision not to renew her contract. She may one day rise phoenix-like from the fallen soufflé of her ambition, a la Martha Stewart. But for now, the mistress of Southern comfort food appears to be one very dead duck, with or without orange sauce.

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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The Me Nobody Knows: Edward Snowden’s Mercury

By Eric Francis | June 24, 2013

When Edward Snowden’s birth details arrived by mail from Elizabeth City, North Carolina this week, as I cast the chart I knew he was going to have an interesting Ascendant. That turned out to be true — his cluster of planets in Gemini is rising — though there is a subtle point: Mercury.
Before we get to that bit of analysis, we learned overnight Saturday, right during the Full Moon, that Snowden managed to catch a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow. From there he was expected to fly onto Cuba, then according most reports, he has been granted political asylum in Ecuador.
Snowden was reportedly accompanied out of Hong Kong by a member of WikiLeaks legal team named Sarah Harrison. Hong Kong authorities allowed him to leave the territory despite the United States requesting his arrest, in essence telling the United States to bugger off. In a statement, Hong Kong said that the United States had not properly completed legal documents justifying the request and therefore there was no legal basis for detaining him.
Snowden commenced his trip just as Jupiter was conjunct his Sun in the last degree of Gemini, exact to a few arc minutes. Astrology students may note that while this is exactly how Jupiter is supposed to work — right down to representing accompaniment by an international attorney — it doesn’t always. But it’s fun when the astrology textbooks are right.
Jupiter, which has been prominent in his late-Gemini chart throughout the events that ensured on June 5 when The Guardian released a secret court order compelling Verizon to hand over telephone records of its customers, seems to have given Snowden some cover, protection and a touch of the exotic. Everyone who has seen this chart has marveled over this Jupiter transit, as well as noting that the charge of espionage was revealed on his solar return.
Jupiter has certainly “expanded” his reputation — Snowden is currently the most famous person in the world — someone who we may never know or understand, or perhaps it’s better to say someone who will never fully let on who he is. The presence of Jupiter is one illustration of various pundits claiming that he’s too big for his britches. But that remains to be seen.
Let’s take a look at that Ascendant, about which I have a comment before we even look at any planets. Snowden has 12+ Gemini rising. This is remarkable for two reasons — one is that it’s the exact opposite degree as the United States Sibly chart. This is a kind of “identical twin” kind of setup and also it means that the U.S. and Snowden will experience transits to their Ascendant simultaneously.

Snowden natal

The one that jumps out right away is the Saturn-Pluto opposition that happened a month before the September 11 incident. That opposition went right across 12+ Gemini/Sagittarius. The United States was directly affected. And so was Edward Snowden. It’s my impression from this transit that Snowden was profoundly influenced by the events of 9/11/01 and that his response — to join the military and then work as an intelligence analyst — was sincere.
In particular, Pluto on his 7th house cusp during that incident felt like the attack was personally directed at him. Saturn transiting his Gemini Ascendant was a call to a mature response, again experienced as a direct call to action.
Now for some planets. Snowden has four major points in Gemini: the Mercury, the Sun, the North Node and Mars.
Of those four points, just one — the Ascendant ruler Mercury — can be found in the 12th house. Some would call that the chart ruler; some would say it’s a significator for Snowden.
When there are planets around the Ascendant it’s helpful to study the chart closely to sort out what stands for what. We have three bold points in the 1st house — the Sun, Mars and the Node. That’s the image of someone direct, outgoing, clear in their intentions and focused on their mission — all could be used to describe Snowden.
Then Mercury is in the 12th house. The 12th is the hidden zone, a kind of blind spot. Mercury is the Ascendant ruler and the dispositor of all those planets. It’s running the show from behind the scenes. That’s the big question mark over this chart; the point of mystery; the version of Ed Snowden known only to himself. 

When you consider the fact that he has four points in Gemini and therefore eight or sixteen different points of identity (Gemini tends to multiply), that Mercury in the 12th house clearly knows a lot that it’s not saying. The question over his intent is therefore seemingly amplified. But just because we don’t know everything does not predict what we don’t know. There are indeed a lot of possibilities.
Neptune opposing his Mars and Sun adds to the sense of mystery, a sense of an encounter with the unknown. Mars opposite Neptune is not necessarily easy for others to experience; it can describe an intensity about the person, a willingness to take risks, and also a kind of “walk through walls” quality: powerful Neptune aspects like this one can give a person a sense of boundaries that only they understand.
Jupiter and Uranus oppose Mercury, in Sagittarius in the 6th house. This adds to the clear sense of mission and drive — and also describes Snowden’s intelligence as well as his tendency to get himself into international intrigues. Jupiter and Uranus are retrograde, adding more seeming mystery about his motives and his sources.
He has the Moon in Scorpio in the 6th house. All in all, this is the perfect chart for someone who handles confidential information and who actually can keep a secret.  But he chose to reveal a surveillance program that was in itself damaging to the American people and its government. He did everyone a favor by making this public.*
My take on this chart is that in sum, it reveals a person who makes his choices based on authentic values, even ones that are articulately stated — but he has the aura of doing his own thing due to Mercury in the 12th and the oppositions from Neptune. He lives with this tension as the struggle with his conscience. Most people can sit on that tension and ignore it. Snowden’s astrology is too bold for that. The Mars, Sun and Node in his 1st house demands correct action; it’s the embodiment of dharma.
He has not revealed everything about what he does or why he does it — and for that matter, neither does anybody else.

Editor’s note: This is a correction from the earlier version of the text which read: “But he chose to reveal those secrets of activity that were, in fact, damaging to the American people and its government.”

Bio: Eric Francis is a TMA contributor and editor of Planet Waves. Listen to his weekly podcast at Planet Waves FM.

A note from The Mountain Astrologer: Be sure not to miss Eric’s new article on the astrology of Monsanto and GMOs in the new Aug./Sept. edition, which is available now (in print or digital) by subscription. Please go here to order a subscription.

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Heath Ledger

By Mary Plumb | June 3, 2013

Actor Heath Ledger was born on April 4, 1979 in Perth, Australia (no known time). He died on January 22, 2008 of an accidental prescription drug overdose. (1)

Heath Ledger, sunrise natal

His father is participating in a documentary called Too Young to Die. He showed a reporter the actor’s journal that he kept during filming of The Dark Knight, for which he posthumously received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The movie opened six months after Heath Ledger died. On the last page in his journal, he wrote “Bye-Bye.”(2)

Sun in Aries, Venus in Pisces, and Jupiter in Cancer are all in their signs of exaltation; they are the honored guests in someone else’s home. This gives prominence to the Sun and both benefics, certainly a life with much grace and fortune. The Moon was in Cancer all day, her sign of rulership. (He came from a prosperous and philanthropic family; the Sir Frank Ledger Charitable Trust is named after his great-grandfather.)

Mercury, Mars, and the south node are all in Pisces. Mars is ruler of the Sun in Aries and is conjunct Mercury, which is retrograde and in its detriment in Pisces.  The water planets show sensitivity and empathy; the Cancer Moon responds to life and is popular with the public. Mercury and Mars show deftness with language; he was known for subtlety in expression and the range of roles he played. (3)

Using whole sign houses and a solar chart, Mars is also ruler of the 8th house, the conditions of death. The debilitated Mercury rules the 3rd and 6th and is conjunct Mars, dispositor of the Aries Sun and ruler of the 8th-house.  Sadly, he died alone from “accidental intoxication from prescription drugs.”

He had been known to suffer from insomnia. Soon after his death, his former fiancée Michelle Williams said: “For as long as I’d known him, he had bouts with insomnia. He had too much energy. His mind was turning, turning turning – always turning.” (Mercury ruling the 3rd conjunct Mars.) The autopsy reports were complicated and delayed amidst the massive media assault that accompanies the sudden death of a public figure. (Transiting Mercury was exactly conjunct Neptune at the actor’s death, squaring his natal Uranus at 20° Scorpio in the 8th.)

transits at death, Heath Ledger
Ledger had also been suffering from exhaustion and a respiratory infection that he caught while filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Christopher Plummer, an actor in that movie, said: “We all caught colds because we were shooting outside on horrible, damp nights. But Heath’s went on and I don’t think he dealt with it immediately with the antibiotics… I think what he did have was the walking pneumonia.”  This is another echo of an inherent vulnerability in the lungs — debilitated Mercury ruling the 3rd (the lungs) and the 6th (illness).

Along with the charisma granted by the exalted benefics, Ledger was also known for intensity; he had natal Sun applying to an opposition with Pluto.

He has a daughter, Matilda, born on October 28, 2005. She has Sun in Scorpio conjoined Jupiter (a larger-than-life father). The Sun is applying to square Saturn in Leo, speaking of the early loss of her father. Her north node is 13° Aries, conjunct her father’s Sun. The Sun rules his solar 5th house; the transiting north node was on his Sun when his daughter was born. (In a photo I saw of her, she looks exactly like her father.)

Matilda was born on a Friday (Venus’s day), with Venus conjunct Pluto at 22° Sagittarius.

Matilda Heath, sunrise natal

I like to look at the prenatal solar eclipse set for the place of birth. Heath Ledger’s PNSE was 7°30’ Pisces, giving even more emphasis to natal Venus at 7° Pisces. This PNSE chart set for Perth has the critical degree 29° Sagittarius on the Ascendant. On the day of his passing, Venus and Pluto were conjoined in the sky at 29° Sagittarius.
Heath PNSE

As a hint of the potency of a planet’s station, Mars stationed retrograde at 12°27’ Cancer on November 15, 2007, squaring his natal Sun. On January 7 transiting Mars retrograde, at 27° Gemini, squared natal Mars. He died on January 22 with Mars at 25° Gemini, out-of-bounds at 26°N49’.  (This is the degree of the station direct a week later. The autopsy suggested that he died close to 2 pm in NYC; Mars was on the Ascendant then. See the chart above.)

Furthermore, Ledger died at the Saturn return. The second exact passage was two weeks before he died, on January 9, within two days of the transit Mars square Mars.

The solar eclipse before his death was on September 11, 2007 at 18° Virgo conjunct the natal north node in the 6th. Transiting Uranus at 16 Pisces opposed the eclipse, which is on the natal south node. Furthermore, the transiting south node was at 7° Virgo, conjunct natal Saturn.  (The north node was conjunct natal Venus.)

bi-wheel: Heath natal and pre-death solar eclipse

I was very sad when he died. I thought he was a mesmerizing actor. No surprise, my natal Sun at 8° Pisces is on his PNSE and natal Venus.

(1) Biographical material and quotes from Wikipedia

(2) Huffington Post

(3) In an article called An Appraisal – Prince of Integrity With a Lightness of Touch (written right after his death), film critic A.O. Scott wrote about Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain: “What made the performance so remarkable was that Mr. Ledger, without betraying Ennis’s dignity or his reserve, was nonetheless able to convey that truth to the audience. This kind of sensitivity — the ability to signal an inner emotional state without overtly showing it — is what distinguishes great screen acting from movie-star posing.”
New York Times

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Jackie Robinson (“42”): Civil Rights Pioneer

By Jan de Prosse | May 20, 2013

Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson is known to many as the man who broke the color barrier in the late 1940s by becoming the first African American to play major league baseball, ending the racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues for six decades. He was actively recruited by Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey had wanted to find a person of color who could rise above the sustained harassment he was sure to receive, and in Jackie Robinson he found just the man he was looking for.

As a baseball fan, after seeing the movie “42” I became curious to see what Robinson’s chart would show about this trailblazer’s talents and abilities. Not the least of these was the ability to withstand the virulent abuse that he suffered from racist members of the public (and some of his teammates) and the tremendous pressure that he endured to succeed and prove to the world that he deserved to play in the highest echelons of the sport of baseball.

Let me say that Robinson’s natal chart and the chart of his first major league game do not disappoint! Robinson was an all-around magnificent athlete, and (as his chart will show) definitely had the temperament to fulfill his destiny and turn the other cheek in the face of unimaginable opposition.

When an astrologer looks at Robinson’s birth chart, she will notice that he was born at the New Moon.
Jackie Robinson: January 31, 1919
6:30 pm CST
Cairo, Georgia
Source is B: bio/autobiography

Jackie Robinson natal

He has two notable conjunctions in his chart: Venus–Uranus and Jupiter–Pluto. And he has Saturn rising in Leo, which symbolizes public prominence and the hard work and obstacles that must be overcome. Venus conjunct Uranus in the 6th near the Descendant represents doing something new in a public sense. (This conjunction also suggests explosive personal relations.) The several oppositions in his chart, including Venus–Saturn, reflect the push–pull between his private life and his controversial public life.

Robinson’s Aquarius stellium in the 6th (including his Sun and Moon) definitely relates to work in service to humanity. One of the things I had hoped to find in his chart was something to indicate that his fate had been thrust upon him (in this case, by an ambitious and open-minded baseball manager), and his 6th-house stellium represents his true calling. He was here to change the face of this sport forever.

Jupiter exalted in Cancer conjunct Pluto in the 11th gave Robinson good fortune in interacting with groups — but Pluto makes this hard! This man’s life was never meant to be a walk in the park. Because of Saturn in Leo, he was able to subsume his ego to take responsibility for others. And what a huge responsibility he shouldered!
There is a preponderance of fixed signs in Robinson’s chart, so he was stubborn but certainly persistent. And his dogged persistence may have saved him from collapsing under the strain of what he was attempting to accomplish.

There is lots of communication in this chart — lots of aspects. However, Mercury in Capricorn is virtually unaspected (except for a quincunx to Saturn), so he probably needed to make constant adjustments in the Mercurial arena. This means he had the tendency to think before he spoke, which would have been a godsend whenever he was being goaded to lose his temper. Mars in Pisces trine Pluto-Jupiter has backbone, and Mars is conjunct the Descendant, which adds prominence. This watery Mars placement undoubtedly helped him to keep his cool. (If Branch Rickey had selected a man with Mars in Aries, this would probably have been a very short story with a bad ending.)

April 15, 1947 was the day of Robinson’s first major league game, playing first base for the Dodgers in Brooklyn (time unknown); we constructed a noon chart for this event.

Robinson’s first major league baseball game
April 15, 1947
Brooklyn, New York

Event chart: first Major League game
As it happens, the Moon was in Aquarius all day; it conjoined his natal Sun–Moon, so Jackie Robinson was obviously exactly where he was meant to be. Mars is in Aries in this chart, and the transiting Sun is also in Aries trine his natal Saturn and sextile his Venus–Uranus conjunction.

The event chart shows that Robinson was having a reverse nodal return (also called a half-nodal return) which can show a turning point in one’s destiny. Transiting Jupiter formed the apex of a t-square with natal Saturn opposite Venus–Uranus, which indicates powerful conflicting energies during that time, but also tells us that this man had the wherewithal to face the music. (Incidentally, he was selected Rookie of the Year at the end of the 1947 season.)

Besides his cultural impact, Robinson had an exceptional baseball career and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. The irony of Jackie’s legacy is that, today in the early 21st century, relatively few African Americans choose the sport of baseball. (The black players you see are mostly Hispanic.) I have heard it said that baseball is not considered “cool” in the ghetto; most black athletes choose either basketball or football. However, in 2004, Major League Baseball adopted a new annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day,” when every player on every team in both the National and American leagues, wears the number 42 on his jersey. What a fitting tribute to a wonderful man!

My sincere thanks to Nan Geary for assisting me with the astrology for this blog.

Bio: Janette deProsse, TMA‘s Managing Editor, has learned almost everything she knows about astrology from editor Nan Geary and from reading and re-reading every single word that has been published in The Mountain Astrologer since the Leo/Aquarius issue (Feb/March 2000). Her extracurricular passions include reading, Latin jazz, baseball, European travel, playing Scrabble, and watching Downton Abbey on DVD. She lives on two wooded acres on Rattlesnake Road with her partner and two marvelous cats.

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