TMA This Week

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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Sun-Mars, Part Two

By Mary Plumb | April 22, 2013

Warmest welcome to the Sun, Venus, and (even) Mars in Taurus, after the events of the last week had the country on edge.

There are lots of astrological factors involved and I link to many fine blogs below.

I wrote about the Sun-Mars new synodic cycle in last week’s blog, and I wanted to mention it again as it captured my/our attention in this past week.

As we know, the Sun and Mars were conjunct at 28º08’ Aries on Sunday, April 17. What I hadn’t noticed (and thanks to Kathy Allan for pointing it out) is that they were also parallel in declination, intensifying their connection.

Part of my personal draw to this conjunction is that I have a sensitive point in my natal horoscope at 28º Libra. I knew that events surrounding the conjunction would be very obvious in my life. That was the motivation last week to write about working with the inner Mars and the shamanic possibilities of a new synodic cycle.

The marathon bombing was on Monday the 15th and, like some of us, I was riveted to the news.

Although that horror dominated the headlines, on April 16, the Constitution Project, a nonpartisan legal research and advocacy group, issued a report that concluded: “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” in the years after 9/11. (1)

On Wednesday the 17th, the explosion at the fertilizer plant, in West, Texas, killed at least 14 people.

Outer events marked by Mars and the Sun were painfully, dramatically obvious.

I watched a lot of coverage of the events in Boston. I felt that Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the suspects, was a good demonstration of Mars and the Sun; he was direct, impassioned, and forceful when he spoke. When asked by reporters what he thought had caused his nephews to commit such acts, he spoke of the brothers as being unable “to settle themselves and thereby hating everyone who did.” (2) I don’t really know how he meant this, but “settling” oneself reminds me of befriending one’s interior self. It was a rare public comment that hinted at the inner struggle with Mars, side by side with the shocking and violent acts we had been watching. It struck me as a fairly psychologically aware statement amidst the chaos, violence, fear, and anguish of the days’ events.  We know that a disenfranchised, disempowered Mars can act in aggressive ways.

Aside from my fixation on the unfolding events, how did Mars appear in my immediate life? On Wednesday, the day of the conjunction, I burned a batch of beans in my favorite pot, leaving a lingering scorched smell and inedible food. Soon after that, the space heater I had rolled into the kitchen inexplicably lost a wheel and fell over, leaving a dent in the bamboo floor. I also had a friend whose young child was badly burned in a fire in her school chemistry class and a client reporting to me from Hawaii that the Sun had been “blood red” at sunset the previous night.

I decided it might be wise to meet Mars a bit more directly and went to a challenging midday yoga class that was quite soothing — meeting fire with fire, so to speak. (Still feeling a bit frayed, on Friday I went for a detoxifying herbal wrap at a local spa, which was also therapeutic and relaxing until the heat got too intense and I had a momentary arising of panic.)


(1) New York Times

(2) YouTube 
Here are some astrologers with astute observations on the events in Boston. May we have an easier week, Full Moon eclipse and all. 

In Astrology Update April 2013: Boston Bombings, Current Patterns, Lara Owens writes on recent events in “this dear old world of ours.” She analyses the chart for the Boston bombing and ends with what sounds like a good idea: “So what can we do during such difficult times? As much as you can, STAY OUT OF TROUBLE!”

Here’s a blog from a prolific (un-named) astrologer at Astroblog, with many specific details, including a timeline of events in Boston, the chart for the City of Boston, midpoints for the chart of the bombing, the explosion in Texas, and the suicide bombing that killed 27 in Iraq on the 17th. 

Of the horoscope for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: “A date of birth has been released — the planets on his day of birth revealing a young man of many contradictions, frustrations, conflicting needs, low self esteem, feeling disempowered, wanted to be somebody, given to fantasies of being in control by challenging the system, issues with father/authority figure archetypes and The State, sensitive side over-ridden by cold and detached frame of mind, deluded thinking, highly impressionable, clear capacity for cruelty. These are his worst-case scenario potentials — capable of being aggravated or accentuated — in effect, triggered by transitory planetary movements.”

David Crook at Stellar Insights Astrology writes on The Boston Marathon Bombings. He notes connections between the recent event, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and this week’s eclipse. “Traditional methods further confirm a strong link between today’s bombing in Boston and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The antiscia or solstice points for the 1993 event shows the Ascendant at 26° Gemini, with the Boston Marathon bombing Moon also at 26° Gemini.” David also notes the Aries ingress chart: “The 2013 Aries ingress (Spring Equinox), which sets the tone for the astrological new year, has the highly volatile and explosive Mars-Uranus conjunction in Aries rising at Boston, Mass. The same chart for the US capital has a Pisces Ascendant with the Mars-Uranus conjunction further below the horizon, so not as powerful.”

Ed Tamplin’s Political Astrology tracks events of the past week. This entry begins with Mars Madness and includes the earthquakes in China and on the Iran-Pakistan border and the Marathon bombing.”Besides the obvious connection of the Sun and Mars combination to acts of violence, the most obvious factor is the nefarious Neptune setting in Pisces. Neptune is in the longitude of the auspicious Fomalhaut, a combination described by the authoritative Vivian Robson as ‘secret enemies, or violent death through secret enemies’.”

Eric Francis wrote this entry at Planet Waves while Boston was still in lockdown: The War Comes Home, to Boston. He has the charts for the Tsarnaev brothers and the event chart. “Mercury is that planet that ruled the Virgo ascendant of the Boston Marathon bombing chart. So it’s very much the star of the show at the moment, and is very much about a developing story that fits a much larger pattern of events. Mercury — illustrating a young individual — is about to lead authorities back to a larger group (Uranus), but we don’t know what happens next. That’s because Uranus always indicates something unpredictable happening.”

In The Astrology of the Boston Bombings, written the day after the event, Leah Whitehorse looks back to the Aries New Moon chart. “In the last New Moon chart I noted ‘The problem is that Mars is conjunct Eris shortly before the New Moon, which brings a compulsive, competitive edge to this lunation. It’s every man for himself in this position.’ Now we are just over a week away to the beginning of eclipse season, where light becomes dark and the unexpected happens. Sometimes events occur before eclipses.”
She also takes note of Orcus. “I notice that asteroid Orcus (a trans Neptunian object) is directly conjunct the Ascendant. Orcus is named after a God of the Underworld who was ‘the punisher of broken oaths.’ With Neptune lying on the Descendant opposite, it makes me think that the person or group who committed this terrible act feel justified in their actions — like they are meting out punishment.”

In The Astrology of the Boston Bombings: Shaken to the Soul (written on the 17th), Beth Turnage looks at Boston’s symbolic significance in U.S. history, and connections from the current event’s chart to the 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing charts. She makes what seems to have unfolded as (at least in part) an accurate assessment: “Aside from a weak association to Alexandria, Egypt, the charts do not support foreign involvement. However, local location associations to Pisces are Massachusetts locations — Fall River, Lowell, and New Bedford. This is a person who lives somewhere close to Boston, Massachusetts, possibly in one of these three towns.”

Thanks to all these astrologers and many others who try to help us understand what on earth is going on. All comments and suggestions for other links are warmly welcomed. 

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Meeting Mars: Inside and Out

By Mary Plumb | April 15, 2013

Brightest in the sky at the opposition, Mars is now invisible to us, hidden by the light of the Sun. (1) Mars and the Sun are traveling closely together now for an extended time, most of the month of April. (This is not always the case, since Mars’s orbit is eccentric.)

The synodic cycle of Mars and the Sun is the period between two consecutive conjunctions of these planets. The synodic cycle with Mars is not totally consistent, but somewhere around 25-26 months. The actual length will be between 762 and 819 days, with an average length of 779 days. (2)

On Sunday, both planets were in the 26th degree of Aries, and they come to the all-important conjunction on April 17 at 28º08’ Aries.

Ann Coulter was born a week before a Mars-Sun conjunction. Based on a sunrise chart, her natal Mars is 18º Sag, with the Sun at 16º. (3) Although she has always been known for her sensational rhetoric, this past week she went even farther than usual in making a joke about murdering Meghan McCain (John’s daughter). Most people didn’t find it too funny. (4)

The threat of a missile strike from North Korea, the gun control issue and today’s explosion in Boston show Mars’s current and obvious place in the news.

We may or may not be directly involved with these matters, but we are all coming under the spell of a new synodic cycle.

I know someone with a stellium (including Moon, Mercury, Neptune, and Ascendant) in Libra, with the Sun at 28º. After years of living a rather hermit-like life, in a remote area in the mountains with lots of time spent alone, she has moved to a new state and is currently surrounded by a crew of men who are quickly building her a simple and efficient new dwelling. I know two other people who have been exhausted and ill for several weeks — one with Chiron at 27º Capricorn and the other with the Sun/Moon midpoint at 27º Cancer. Someone else, with three planets in Capricorn, including the Sun at 26º, was suddenly offered a much longed for new job.

As in myth, when not visible, Mars (like Venus) can be thought of as being in the underworld, where real change can occur; we change from the inside out.

Maybe we can get on better terms with Mars and start this round (lasting until the next conjunction in June 2015) with our blood clear, our vitality strengthened, and the essence of courage integrated into our very cells.

I don’t expect to have a fully formed strategy (some of you might), but I’m keeping my attention on an awakening passion and direction from my heart of hearts. I imagine that the pure essence of each of our unique selves is being anointed by the ever ready Mars, who wants to fulfill the purpose of the Sun.

Look at the houses with Aries — and Scorpio and Leo — on the cusp if you want to make this grand archetypal event more concrete or accessible. (Although Mars joins the Sun every two years or so, there are only six times in 200 years when they meet in Aries, where Mars has rulership and the Sun is exalted: March 29, 1902; April 14, 1934; April 2, 1981; April 17, 2013; March 20, 2028, and April 5, 2060.)

You can also set a chart for your place of residence for the time of the exact conjunction (e.g., 5:19:54 pm, PDT), on April 17th, to see connections to your birth chart and how this new cycle is part of your life story.

In the spirit of personal inquiry, the days around April 17 are also suited for observation of anger, or where we feel powerless or victimized. For some, anger can be available to us when other more tender or vulnerable emotions are stored just beneath a more solid edge.

Sometimes the presenting symptom of Mars seeking attention is irritability or depression. We may or may not recognize it in ourselves; others may see the signs as a clue to our state of mind.

Someone I spent time with recently seemed to be in a childlike, almost regressed, state, and I thought about that first Mars return and the self-definition and autonomy that may have been thwarted in this person’s case.

Psychologically, Mars is connected to individuation and a distinct sense of self and autonomy. The first Mars return at around age two is a crucial developmental stage, where things can be amiss, leaving an incomplete or less than fully developed sense of our own autonomy and “right to be here.” There are therapeutic models that aim to recreate and rebuild developmental stages that we may have passed through without having correct or complete support.

The Sun and Mars suggest infusing passion and meaning into life, which sounds simple enough until you spend time with someone consumed by depression or a feeling that life is meaningless or absurd. (5) But onwards we go, each individually tasked with finding purpose in these both fractured and resplendent times.

Mars rules muscles and blood, so physical activity can a good remedy to regulate our Mars; sometimes vigor and a display of strength, or taking a dare, is the right call. But, there are other moments when the movement is subtler. If we think of the Sun as the essence of our being that connects us to all that is, and Mars as the protector whose desire is to serve the Sun, we may have an interior moment whereby we can understand Rumi’s words: “What you seek is seeking you.”

Mars rules knives. As another (I realize, subtle) ode to Sun conjunct Mars, the first century mystic Rabia said (she did not leave anything in writing): “I am so afraid of separation I do not even own a knife.”

Onwards to the next moment, challenging and sweet, all at once.


(1) Last year, close to the opposition, I wrote about The Sun-Mars Synodic Cycle

(2) Astrology, A Language of Life, Vol. V: Holographic Transits, by Robert P. Blaschke, Earthwalk School of Astrology, 2006.

(3) Ann Coulter, December 8, 1961, New York, N.Y. Wikipedia

(4) Huffington Post

(5) AstroFix: the blog of an astrology addict has 146 phrases for Sun-Mars aspects, including: “Fighting against authority. Fighting against yourself. Inner tension caused by fighting against your own best interests. Depression when there are no worthy opponents and nothing worth fighting for. Depression through not reaching your potential. Depression through not taking opportunities. “I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody.” Depression through boredom. Needing goals and challenges to reach your full potential. Needing goals and challenges to feel vital and alive. Seizing the moment. Setting the bar higher and higher. Having a direction. Having aim. Directing your energy toward something. Having things to do. Physical activity as a way to get in touch with your core self. Needing outlets for aggression and hostile tendencies. Needing activities to funnel your competitive spirit into. Identifying with champions, fighters, heroes and heroines, and people who generally kick ass.”

AstroFix: Sun Mars aspects

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By Alex Miller | April 8, 2013

On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 and 27, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two cases involving same sex marriage. On Tuesday, opponents of California’s controversial Prop 8 referendum, which denies marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples, had their day in court, and on Wednesday, it was the turn of the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) supporters to defend denying federal benefits for same sex spouses legally married in one of the nine states currently allowing these unions.

Three major celestial configurations told the story in astrological detail.  Prominent among these was a t-square incorporating the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square and Wednesday morning’s Libra Full Moon. With Pluto at 11º Capricorn squaring off against Uranus at 8º Aries, the struggle involves entrenched power and calcified social structures versus the energies of change and innovation and the rights of individuals to order their lives as they see fit. 

This basic conflict was enhanced by the Full Moon, with the Moon at 6º Libra opposing the Sun at 6º Aries, bringing awareness and fruition to the issues highlighted. With the Moon was asteroid Justitia, named for the Roman goddess of justice, at 7º Libra, here representing the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) and its members. Also here was Sappho at 2º Libra, named for the ancient Greek lesbian poet, and a general symbol for gay-themed issues. With the Sun, in addition to Uranus, that revolutionary change-maker and forward-thinking rebel, was Venus, planet of love, romance, and partnership, at 5º and 6º Aries, over the course of those two days, and Mars, planet of sexuality, at 11º Aries.

This would be enough to tell the tale, but two other patterns emerged that further describe the issues at hand. These comprise two Yod patterns, also known as “the Finger of Destiny,” which indicate a fated, karmic resonance for the time. The first involves Pluto as well, in a close sextile to Saturn at 10º Scorpio, both of these inconjunct to Jupiter at 10º – 11º Gemini, at the apex of the Yod, from where it is conjoined by asteroid Themis, Justitia’s Greek counterpart, at 14º Gemini. Pluto and Saturn are in mutual reception, meaning they inhabit each other’s native signs, and have a special reciprocal relationship. Pluto in Capricorn is an image of generational change and transition coming to social forms such as marriage, while Saturn in Scorpio is an image of conservative traditions encountering deeply transformative energies, particularly in the sexual sphere. Jupiter in aspect to both of these suggests a broadening of how society interprets these issues, as well as reiterating the importance of the Supreme Court in these events. With Themis close by, the inescapable conclusion is that the social scope of justice and equality is extended.

The second Yod is of the “pierced” variety, meaning that in addition to the three planets of a standard Yod, there is a fourth that opposes the Apex planet and bisects the sextile at the base of the pattern. In this case the central opposition is from asteroid Hera, Greek goddess of marriage, at 28º Virgo, to asteroid Eros at 23º Pisces, at the Apex, or focal point, of the Yod. Today Eros is generally considered to be representative of erotic passion, but in ancient times he was viewed as patron of homosexual unions in particular, so together these polarized energies quite simply and clearly spell “gay marriage.” Forming the arms of the Yod are asteroid Ganymed at 20º Leo, named for Zeus’s mythic cup bearer and boy-toy lover, another gay-themed point, and TNO (Trans Neptunian Object) Rhadamanthus at 22º Libra, named for a Greek mythic judge of the dead, once again bringing the theme of justice and the court into the planetary picture for the day. During the period of the two days when the Supreme Court heard arguments on these issues, the Moon opposed Eros, conjoined Hera, and then went on to conjoin Sappho and Justitia as it reached its full phase, an indication of public engagement on the issues represented by these points.

Asteroid Juno is also involved. Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage, is at 4º Aquarius closely trined Sappho, Justitia, and the Full Moon in Libra, and more broadly forming a loose Grand Trine with Jupiter/Themis.  Juno is also square to Saturn, suggesting a conflict between the traditional form of marriage and the egalitarian views of Juno in Aquarius on the issue of who can legally wed.

Rulings from the Court will likely not be handed down until the end of the current session in late June, but initial auguries based upon the audio recordings released, which detail the questions asked by the Justices, suggest that the Court is unlikely to make major changes, but to decide these cases very narrowly on their own merits, and not as a reflection of the changing social norms on the issue of same sex marriage.

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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