Direct Station of Venus Exalted in Pisces

With the the opening words to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, an underdog Scottish singer with the voice of an angel has captivated the world.

… I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving …

… Then I was young and unafraid
When dreams were made and used
And wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted…

With last year’s ingress of Pluto into Capricorn, a global economic crisis engulfed humanity and plunged the world into despair. Millions of unemployed have lost health-care benefits. Millions more are behind on mortgage payments. Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes to bank foreclosures. Staggering credit card debt for those who have lived beyond their means will never be repaid. Banks have gone into insolvency or are barely surviving on taxpayer bailouts from the government.

Such a desolate and hopeless landscape in which the world finds itself! The recent retrograde Venus in detriment in Aries had millions of people holding their heads in sorrow as they pondered depleted investment or retirement accounts decimated by the stock market crash of last fall. Each evening, the nightly news would be watched to find any glimmers of hope for a resuscitated economy or good news on the job front.

On Saturday, April 11, retrograde Venus made her ingress back into Pisces, sign of her exaltation. She would be stationing direct the next week on April 17 in the final degree of the zodiac, once again to ingress back into her detriment in Aries on April 24 at the Taurus New Moon. The world yearned for 13 days of relief as Venus stationed in her exalted sign in the most karmic degree of the zodiac.

… But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hopes apart
As they turn your dreams to shame …

 

Susan Boyle Birth Chart

That Saturday night, on the Britain’s Got Talent TV show, a homely 48-year-old spinster named Susan Magdalen Boyle, microphone in hand, fearlessly took the stage and faced the sneers of the judges and the audience. Ian Youngs, entertainment reporter for the BBC News, wrote:

“Last Saturday, viewers saw Boyle, with double chin, unkempt hair, frumpy appearance and eccentric demeanour, step onto the talent show stage and proclaim her dream of being a professional singer. The judges rolled their eyes and the audience pulled incredulous faces. Onlookers, on set and at home, were rubbing their hands at the prospect of another hopeless, deluded loser being crushed by a withering Simon Cowell insult. Then she opened her mouth and sang I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables. Her voice confounded all expectations — the judges’ eyes bulged, the crowd went wild and Boyle became an instant star.”

Over the next week, a YouTube video of her performance was viewed more than 30 million times by people around the world; many were brought to tears by the operatic beauty of her soaring voice as their hearts were pierced by her angelic presence.

… And still I dream he’ll come to me
And we will live our lives together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms
We cannot weather …

During her backstage comments, Ms. Boyle revealed that she lived alone in her village of Blackburn with her cat, Pebbles. She also stated that she had never been married; indeed, she said she had never even been kissed by a man. Her natal Venus is retrograde in Aries and square Saturn — one’s heart aches for the barren existence she has had to endure. It was also revealed that she is the youngest child of nine from a Roman Catholic family and that she had cared for her ailing mother until she passed away in 2007 at the age of 91. Susan had always aspired to be a singer, and her mother had encouraged her to audition for that British TV talent show.

… I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seems
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed …

To what can an astrologer attribute the sudden fame and global acclaim for Ms. Boyle? Surely, her nativity must contain a hidden seed that has now borne fruit. (1)

For each of us, there is a powerful degree in the zodiac that remains charged, or filled with life-giving power, throughout our earthly existence. This degree is that of our prenatal solar eclipse. Susan Boyle’s prenatal eclipse occurred on February 15, 1961 at 26° Aquarius.

Remarkably, now that she has become a worldwide symbol for the hope and faith required to never give up on one’s dream, we see that the upcoming conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune in late May, itself an alignment of hope and transcendence, will fall precisely on Ms. Boyle’s prenatal solar eclipse.

We may ask, “What about all of the other souls born in 1961 with this degree as their prenatal eclipse?” (2) At the time of Ms. Boyle’s birth, 15° Aquarius culminated on the Midheaven. Since the meridian of the nativity moves one degree each four minutes of clock time, a person’s MC is rather unique and can only occur once a day for a few minutes. Astrologers know that 15° of the fixed signs are the “power degrees” of the zodiac, and Aquarius is the sign that rules radio and television broadcasting.

When the prenatal solar eclipse is calculated for Susan Boyle’s place of birth, the 20th degree of Pisces is rising, and the Galactic Center degree in 26° Sagittarius is culminating. From Charubel’s The Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolized, (3) we find the all-important rising degree symbol for 20° Pisces to be:

An angel blowing a trumpet.

Denotes one whose office will be to publish to the world some important message: a message having a bearing on the social or spiritual condition of mankind. A preacher, a lecturer, or some popular person.

It has been speculated that Susan Boyle will win the TV talent show and go on to become an international singing sensation with a multimillion-pound recording contract. Having been born at the Full Moon with an exalted Sun, and with Pluto conjunct her North Node, her life purpose is to become a powerful and transformational human being. Pluto stationed on her Descendant in 2007–08 and is now above her natal horizon for the first time in her life, so she is on her way to living her purpose.

Just when the world needed it most, an innocent and guileless soul with the voice of an angel stepped onto the stage of life and lifted millions of weary spirits up to higher ground. With each tear shed upon listening to her moving rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables, one more human being was immersed in the healing waters of a stationary direct Venus exalted in Pisces.

May every middle-aged woman afraid that her age would keep her from realizing her dreams be inspired by the courage of Susan Boyle. At the time of her exact progressed Mars–Jupiter opposition, she has become a blood transfusion for those who have been drained of hope.

… I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving …

Notes:

(1) Birth data are from Ms. Caroline Gerard of The Scottish Astrological Association, who obtained the birth certificate from the records office of the Scottish New Register House. The sole entry for Blackburn, Scotland listed in many astrology software atlases shows the incorrect latitude and longitude for a Blackburn in Aberdeenshire, not for the correct second Blackburn in West Lothian. Susan Boyle, April 1, 1961; 9:50 a.m. GMD; Blackburn (West Lothian), Scotland (55°N52’, 03°W38’).

(2) It should also be pointed out that the new U.S. president, Barack Obama, born August 4, 1961, has the same prenatal solar eclipse as Ms. Boyle.

(3) First published in 1898 and now out of print.

© 2009 Robert P. Blaschke

Note from Mary Plumb: A more extensive version of this article will be published by Maurice Fernandez in his Major Sky e-zine on the Taurus New Moon this week, April 24. Check his web site for details: Maurice Fernandez

Mars and Uranus off the Coast of Somalia

Mars conjuncts Uranus in the sky every two years and is exact this Wednesday, April 15, at 24° 27’ Pisces.

Four pirates attacked the U.S. cargo ship Maersk Alabama on April 8, the day before the Full Moon. Captain Richard Phillips offered himself as hostage so his crew would be released unharmed.

On Friday night President Obama authorized the use of force against the pirates if the danger to the captain escalated. On Friday, transiting Mars was at 21° Pisces opposite Obama’s natal Mars at 22° Virgo and square the U.S. Sibly Mars at 22° Gemini. As we all know, Navy Seal snipers killed three pirates and Capt. Richard Phillips was released unharmed. This is a successful Mars on display: the Navy Seals are rightly being praised for their sharp shooting skill and Capt. Phillips for his heroism and bravery in offering himself as a hostage so his crew would be freed. (1)

Of course, there are many sides to any story and, as one blogging headline noted (i.e.,“Doesn’t End Well for the Pirates”), the situation is more complex than the immediate and daring tale of rescue at sea might suggest. (2)

A news report this morning said that “the rescue ending in the pirates’ deaths could ramp up hostilities in the growing wave of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, in which crews and pirates have seldom been harmed.” Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, head of the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, said to reporters: “This could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it.” (3) The applying conjunction of Mars and Uranus suggests that this might be quite true.

On a personal note, I wonder where the parallels are: where are our own daring rescues-at-sea? How do we use this week’s planetary alignment? It’s not a frequent conjunction – the last was on April 28, 2007 at 17° Pisces, and we don’t see it again until April 3, 2011 at 1° Aries, which suggests an uncommon moment in time.

Mars with Uranus, of course, has lots of implications: we can fight for freedom and human rights or exaggerate selfish aims. The combination can heat up detachment, inspire quick response, be sudden, surprising, and aggressive, or brilliant, intuitive, and strategic. (Jeff Jawer describes the pair as “raging forces” in his column in this month’s TMA.)

Conditions in the natal chart and levels of manifestation are always a primary consideration, of course, but in keeping with the current motif of courage on the high seas, I would say that the house that holds 24° Pisces in your horoscope is begging to be refreshed and exposed. The conjunction suggests that the contents of the particular astrological house in question are ready to be out in the open and have a grand new cycle in life.

One best possible road for Mars and Uranus is to be an impeccable warrior for truth in the houses’ concerns. Trust the passion for freedom and the inclination towards upsetting your comfort zone, and tell the truth to yourself at all costs.

Press yourself onward and upwards. There may be nothing to lose. Pisces, after all, can relinquish a point of view and fixed reference point with ease and grace.

Imagine for a moment that the coast is clear for you to head in any direction forward in your life. Where are you excited about going, what brings aliveness to your day? What actions inspire your most courageous heart? Harness that quality, because these two great planetary beings don’t come back to such intimate contact for two more years.

(Come to think of it, the conjunction is exact on April 15. Tax revolt, anyone?)

Notes:

(1) online.wsj.com/article

(2) www.talkingpointsmemo

(3) online.wsj.com/article

Great astrology blogs

Nancy Sommers began writing Starlight News as a “response to the dismal first days of the Bush administration.” I have read her work often since then and she has gotten better and better. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Sommers is an informed political observer as well as an exceptional astrologer.

Her astrology is sophisticated: She uses a variety of techniques, including converse directions, solar arcs and midpoints, and they’re always clearly demonstrated.

This morning’s blog includes the transiting Uranus conjunction to the Spring Equinox charts in Britain and France, the current Pluto station opposite the U.S. natal Venus and the transiting Uranus square to natal and progressed point in Israel’s horoscope.

This week’s entry is shorter than usual; I suggest you go back through the archives to see the depth and specificity of her predictive work.

Nancy Sommers has a large following; there are interesting comments added to her blog as well.

TMA readers will recognize San Francisco astrologer Jessica Murray, who has written on the U.S. horoscope and various cultural issues for the magazine. Interested “in pressing astrology into service to provide perspective during the urgent times we are living in,” her MotherSky Blog is a showcase of her fine writing and social justice instincts. Murray is superb at capturing historical and cultural themes as they unfold through astrological signatures.

(You can also read TMA’s review of her wonderful 2006 book, Soul-Sick Nation.)

And, for my last suggestion of blogs not-to-miss, watch a ten-minute (the You Tube maximum) course on the History of Western Astrology, Chris Brennan’s wonderful synopsis.

He’s also got an article on great news for all astrologers – the AstroDatabank database in now online free from Astrodienst! (I can finally move an old Dell computer off my overloaded desktop – I only kept it to access the software.) This is a wonderful service to all astrologers, and Chris warmly and appreciatively explains the story.

White House Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(2) wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Water

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

(4) wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food_USA

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

Lights Dimmed on Broadway

Actress Natasha Richardson died in New York City on March 18, after a head injury suffered in a fall during a ski lesson on March 16. She was born on May 11, 1963 in London (1). The birth chart has the Sun at 20°15’ Taurus, squared by Mars at 19°29’ Leo and Saturn at 22°41’ Aquarius. (Mars and Saturn are opposite one another and both square the Sun.)

The February 9 solar eclipse at 20°52’ Leo was conjunct her natal Mars, which, therefore, triggered the natal pattern.

The Combination of Stellar Influences, Reinhold Ebertin’s classic text on midpoints, calls the Mars/Saturn midpoint, “the tendency to get hurt or injured.” (2) In aspect to the Sun, representing the life force, this can suggest an injury that is life threatening.

As the last planet visible to the naked eye, Saturn represents the terminus, the boundaries of life as we can see it. In 1986, Saturn turned retrograde by progression; at her death, progressed Saturn was exactly back to the natal degree, i.e., 22°41’ Aquarius.

A further indicator of an accident or injury is seen by transiting Mars at 1°14’ Pisces, opposite natal Uranus (1°09’ Virgo). The progressed Midheaven had also come to 1°03’ Virgo, conjunct natal Uranus. Both points were therefore opposed by transiting Mars.

Venus, natally placed in Aries, rules the natal first and eighth houses. If the birth time is correct, the Ascendant is 13° Libra. At the time of the accident, transiting Venus was retrograde and conjunct the Descendant at 13° Aries. As a sad tribute to both Aries’s insouciance and life’s fragility, the actress was reported to have been laughing and talking after the fall. It was only after several hours that her injuries became apparent and her condition deteriorated with shocking speed. It was subsequently determined that the “blunt blow had caused internal bleeding which formed a clot (an epidural haematoma) which in turn placed pressure on her brain.” (3)

Tributes from friends spoke of her “luminosity,” “radiance” and “generosity,” all qualities astrologers can readily imagine when seeing the beautiful fire trine in her birth chart: Moon (23° Sagittarius) trine Venus (21° Aries) and Mars (19° Leo).

Sadly, the lights on Broadway were dimmed the night after she died for a minute as a tribute to her passing. Natasha Richardson’s progressed Ascendant had come to natal Neptune at 14° Scorpio. One feels that her memory will live long. May she rest in peace.

Notes:

(1) www.astro.com/astro-databank

(2) Reinhold Ebertin, The Combination of Stellar Influences, Wurttemberg, Germany: Ebertin-Verlag, 1972, p. 156.

(3) scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com

Two Free Spirits

Only if you were completely lost in some netherworld last week could you have missed the showdown between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart. Jim Cramer’s appearance on The Daily Show was on Thursday, March 12; the Sun was conjunct Uranus that evening. Excitement was high in those parts of the world where everyone is tuning in to try and figure out what on earth is going on, or at least looking for a few laughs to help enjoy the passage of time.

Although I don’t have exact times for either of them, their birth dates and places are known. Jim Cramer, born on February 10, 1955 in Wyndmoor, PA., has the Sun and Mercury in Aquarius. (1) (The Moon moved from Virgo into Libra at about 2 a.m. that day. My guess, just from seeing him a bit, is on a Libra Moon.) Very funny man Jon Stewart, born on November 28, 1962, has Sun, Moon and Mercury in Sagittarius. (2) I’m looking at sunrise charts in this article.

As befits the hype surrounding the moment — not to mention their success and prominence in their respective work — both men are larger than life characters.  Both Cramer and Stewart have a strongly-placed Jupiter in close aspect to Uranus. Cramer has Jupiter at 22° Cancer conjunct Uranus (at 24°), and Stewart has Jupiter at 4° Pisces opposite Uranus at 5° Virgo.

Cramer has Mars at 19° Aries, applying to square Jupiter and Uranus at 21°- 25° Cancer; that fits his manic presentation and overall enthusiasm. (Mars is also sextile the Sun at 21° Aquarius.) The bravura of the cardinal square is obvious in his personality; he is, after all, the creator of CNBC’s “Mad Money.”

Both men, however, underneath the respective “snake oil” (i.e., as Stewart recently referred to them) aspects of their personas, are deeply serious. Each has Saturn in a fixed sign in aspect with the Sun. Cramer’s Sun at 21° Aquarius is square to Saturn at 21° Scorpio. Stewart’s Sun at 6° Sagittarius sextiles Saturn at 7° Aquarius.

Most commentators agreed that their widely hyped “showdown” was a fairly substantive talk. I was personally impressed by Stewart’s ability to keep the focus on the bottom line: His natal Saturn (7° Aquarius) was influenced, shall we say, by the January 26 solar eclipse at 6°30’ Aquarius. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this eclipse was also conjunct the US Sibly second-house South Node (6°36’ Aquarius), i.e., “Where did all the money go?” With Stewart’s dignified Saturn in Aquarius right at that spot, he has taken a place in asking the hard questions. (He has also spoken about his personal rage at the financial mess, i.e., his mother lost a lot of money.)

As a final thought, we’ve often considered the Pluto-in-Leo generation as living large and leaving a mess for Virgo to clean up. This was a pretty good picture of that notion in action.  Jim Cramer, of course, has Pluto in Leo and Jon Stewart has Pluto in Virgo.

Please do read and enjoy Lynn Hayes’s take on the subject: Jon Stewart and the CNBC Smackdown

Footnotes:

(1)    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Cramer
(2)    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Stewart

Treasury Department at the Full Moon

Last week my blog took a more pleasurable turn — towards Venus and her potential to charm — but today I am looking again at the U.S. Sibly and President Obama’s charts.

Obama has had several aspects in his progressed chart perfect in these past few months. Perfected progressed aspects are always significant in a life time; since they move slowly and gradually, once they are exact, an important life theme may be noted. Looking back a bit, in June 2008 his progressed Mercury conjoined progressed Mars at 23° Libra, aligned with the beautiful fixed star, Spica.

Progressed Mercury (23° Libra) squared progressed Saturn (23° Capricorn) on November 11, a few days after the election. This is certainly the signature of serious business at hand, an inner readiness to face Saturn’s realities, and maybe even the ability to be gracious, eloquent and inspiring at the same time (Mercury in Libra with Spica).

Now, Obama’s progressed Mars (ruler of the Aries progressed Ascendant) is square to progressed Saturn. This was exact on March 3, within a few days of front-page news (and photos) of Obama’s hair starting to turn white since the inauguration. Leave it to Saturn to leave his mark of sobriety and gravitas whenever he can.

My interest was piqued this weekend by an NPR report saying that the administration has been caught off guard by the magnitude of the problems and that the financial crisis is happening so quickly that events are running away from them. A New York Times article this morning made similar points. Basically, the staff, i.e., the people needed to run the Treasury Department, is not in place to deal with the complexity of problems.

Granted, the Treasury Department has inherited an unprecedented mess. “With the economy plunging into its deepest recession since the early 1980s, the Treasury has been put in charge of vast swaths of the economy, including rescuing the financial system, the housing market and the automobile industry.” (1)

We know that one keynote of this time is the ongoing opposition between Saturn and Uranus. The necessity of keeping systems and structures (Saturn) up and running, and at the same time, flexible enough to respond to unprecedented challenge (Uranus), is obvious everywhere we look.

The Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, was born in the same month as the president. (2) Both are sun sign Leos — Geithner was born on August 18, 1961, and the President on August 4. Obama has already had the transit of Neptune opposite the natal Sun (2003-04). Geithner has the Sun conjunct Uranus and the North Node, suggesting a unique capacity for visionary leadership. However, the transit of Neptune opposite his Sun will be exact for the first time on March 19, then in August 2009 and Jan 2010. Hopefully, this Neptune transit will increase the Secretary’s ability to surround himself with people of creative imagination, and diminish any tendency to deny what is happening in the economy.

Being an astrologer attuned to Pluto’s just-beginning long passage in Capricorn, I generally agree with commentators who say that the government is not recognizing what is really going on, i.e., the depth of change that is necessary to address the demands of the time.

I think many of us recognize that the people in charge need to think differently and act quickly in response to what is unraveling. I found it disheartening that the same Wall Street minds who, in part, are responsible for the financial mess were chosen by the Obama administration to fix it. (Geithner was former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin, currently working in the Treasury Department, were secretaries of the Treasury under Bill Clinton.)

And, I think that much of the current criticism of the President is childish; this is a long-term problem and there will be no quick fixes. I also trust something about Obama — his presence, his heart, his capacity to sense the future, not to mention the astrology that ties him so strongly to this moment in history.

President Obama gave his very well received address to Congress on February 24, within a few days of Jupiter’s one-time exact opposition to his regal Leo Sun. (If you missed it and want to see Jupiter at his best, watch it on YouTube.  It may very well lift your spirits. (3)

Interrupted continuously by standing ovations, this was Jupiter on display with a Leo Sun. Most reporters praised the talk as striking the right tone between optimism (i.e., “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before”) and a sober assessment of the country’s economy.

A quick sketch of the U.S. chart reminds us of some of the rough roads ahead: The first exact transit of Pluto opposite the U.S. Venus at 3° Cancer is not until May 2, to be followed by partile aspects again on December 26 and August 9, 2010. To say that actual loss of assets – as well as a pervasive fear of even greater loss – is a nationwide concern might be an understatement.

Saturn rules the U.S. second house, which symbolizes the banks and financial institutions of the nation. In August 2009, when transiting Saturn gets to 22°25’ Virgo it will conjunct the U.S. natal Neptune. Looking back for a moment, on December 31, 2008 transiting Saturn stationed retrograde at 21°46’ Virgo, within a degree of the U.S. Neptune. But it doesn’t cross exactly until August. This certainly gives credence to the widespread suggestion that many more U.S. banks will fail before we are out of the woods.

The U.S. progressed Moon (how the people feel now) is square both natal and progressed Uranus. Next week, on March 19, the progressed Moon (6°59’ Virgo) is square progressed Uranus (6°59’ Gemini). On May 16, the Moon’s square to natal Uranus is exact (8°55’ Virgo to 8°55’ Gemini). We all know that Virgo has a tendency to worry, and squares in mutable signs can increase nervous energy and heighten anxiety. The national psyche has the jitters; we can’t find anything to settle in to. CNBC commentators notwithstanding, maybe the whole country should switch to decaf for these next few months.

Notes:

(1) Geithner, With Few Aides, Is Scrambling

(2) Timothy Geithner’s birthday, August 18, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, found on his Facebook page.

(3) Many thanks to my good friend, Peggy Markel, for the suggestion.

Venus Stops and Looks in the Mirror

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seventh Harmonic

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

What to make of all these crazy numbers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

(1) the number seven

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

(3) Reuters article

(4) Astrology 101

Hugh Hefner: Leader of an Empire

After reading a short interview with Hugh Hefner in Time magazine, I became curious about his 8th house and decided to investigate.

Hugh Hefner is the famous American entrepreneur who founded Playboy magazine in 1953. He is now a film producer and book publisher; he owns a record company, theaters, a model agency, gambling casinos, and a limo service — and he also markets Playboy bunny paraphernalia. (You’ve undoubtedly seen those mud flaps with the image of a Playboy bunny on trucks in the U.S.). By the time Hefner was 40, he was worth well over $100 million.

He was raised in Puritanical fashion by Methodist parents in a typical Midwestern home. It would seem that he has fallen pretty far from the tree, though. In 1960, he founded the Playboy Club and began to live the lifestyle that is now typified by the word “playboy.” Let’s see what his chart can tell us.

Hugh Hefner, April 9, 1926; 4:20 p.m. CST; Chicago, IL, USA (41°N51’, 87°W39’); AA: Birth certificate in hand.

Hefner has no planets in the 8th house — only Chiron.

Hefner chart

Since he was raised in a household where demonstration of affection was not allowed, perhaps the presence of the Wounded Healer means that intimate relations with other humans (of the feminine persuasion) serve to compensate for the lack he suffered in childhood. But he has the Sun in Aries (close to the 8th-house cusp), so whatever he does, he will do it his way. The Aries Sun, ruled by Mars, symbolizes intimacy based on eroticism.

Hefner has Mars in the 5th house of play, and Mars is in Aquarius, lending him detachment (as opposed to intimacy). Since Hefner brags that he has slept with at least 1,000 women, he does not appear to favor longevity in his sexual relations.

He is definitely in a Venusian business, and he has the Moon and Venus in sensitive Pisces. In our culture, the expression of vulnerability is not appreciated in the male of the species, so Piscean men tend to hide their sensitive nature. The Moon in Pisces speaks of dissolving boundaries — ignoring or rebelling against societal rules, which Hefner certainly did when he first pushed the envelope of allowable nudity in a respectable magazine. He is quoted as saying: “I never intended to be a revolutionary. My intention was to create a mainstream men’s magazine that included sex in it. That turned out to be a very revolutionary idea.”

It is interesting that he has Puritanical Virgo on the Ascendant, but that placement would certainly give him a strong work ethic.

I would certainly expect to find a prominent Jupiter in this man’s chart. Well, it’s in the 5th house, where it exaggerates the recreational aspects of sex. And he has inflatable Jupiter square Saturn in Scorpio in his chart.

Lastly, Hefner has Uranus on the cusp of the 7th, leading to unconventional relationships. But this man is beyond unconventional; he himself did quite a bit to demolish the existing conventions in the 1950s, when he first pioneered his own unique recipe for success in a male-dominated world.

 

Biographical data is from Lois Rodden’s AstroDatabank software.

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