TMA This Week

What is “Astrology’s Place in the Plan”?

By Amy Shapiro | March 4, 2021

Boston Astrologer Isabel Hickey (1903-1980) is the author of two renowned books: Astrology: A Comic Science (1970), and Pluto or Minerva: The Choice is Yours (1973). (1) In 1976 she published It Is ALL Right, about astrology and beyond.

Affectionately called “Boston’s Spiritual Sparkplug,” Isabel was a healer and mystic with a deep understanding of the Bible. “Issie” to her students, influenced a generation of astrologers and was admired by many thought leaders, including Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Isabel Hickey  Placidus houses, True node
August 19, 1903
12:30 p.m.
Brookline MA; data given to Amy Shapiro by Isabel

In the Introduction to It Is ALL Right, (2) Isabel wrote:

“This book goes forth with the prayer that it will bring healing, hope and understanding to my brothers and sisters everywhere. It is written from my heart to yours. The title for it came a few weeks before the book was finished. In that in-between time — between sleeping and waking — I heard a beautiful voice say: “IT is ALL right. It IS all right. IT IS ALL RIGHT.” With those words came the consciousness of its truth; no matter what happens in the world of appearance it is all right. Right for that moment in time and space — right for the growth of the individual concerned. We ARE vibratorily connected to everything that happens to us. I have found that the reiteration of this sentence changes the feelings in the little self we call the subconscious and changes the consciousness of the outer self. It IS all right.”

It Is ALL Right applies Eastern mysticism to Western culture, illuminating enigmas — such as how to protect yourself with psychic forces, align with your Higher Self, transmute negativity, gain inner peace and energy, creative visualization and more. If a book could reincarnate, it has! It was first in Isabel’s Fellowship House Bookshop, then passed on to her daughter Helen, who saw it through a 10th printing (via New Pathways) before she passed away in 2005. In order to make the book more available and affordable in this pandemic, in 2020 Isabel’s grandson Donald transferred it to me for a New Age Sages paperback and e-book. (3) The following is from Chapter 16, Astrology’s Place in the Plan.

“Astrology’s true purpose is to help us find our way out of dependence on external influences so we can be free souls guided only by the light of our own inner being. Our birth chart shows us where we are in our evolutionary progress. It shows what we have as equipment for our present journey. It shows the talents we have gathered in other lifetimes through experience. It also shows the weaknesses in our character that can cause us difficulties until they are overcome.

We do not come unbound into this livingness. The birth chart shows what we have to work out in the present lifetime. It shows what grade we are in as far as the planetary school is concerned. Astrology also deals with seasons, and the cycles of life. Everything on the earth plane manifests in cycles. There are right times for action as well as wrong times. If we plant tomatoes in December in New England, they do not grow. This is an example of wrong timing.

There are seasons in our mental and emotional vehicles as well as in nature. There is “a time to sew and a time to reap.” Each cycle in our personal lives has its own meaning and its own purpose. Youth, maturity and old age are differing cycles. And understanding of the birth chart helps us to know what cycles are operating, and the right time to launch out into the mainstream of activity and when to wait until the cosmic tides change. There is “a time to be born in a time to die.” In between birth and death, we have time which we can use wisely or waste that time through unwise actions. This is where astrology can be of help.

At the moment of the first breath the incoming entity draws into its magnetic field the energy patterns of that particular time and place. The energy flow in the magnetic field of the earth is synchronized with the energy pattern of the incoming soul. Just as the soul picks its parents before it comes down into matter, so it picks the time of its entrance into a physical body. Whether it is a so-called natural birth, a premature birth or a cesarean birth makes no difference. The doctor on the physical plane may think he has made the decision to induce birth. He has not. It is the soul which decides when the timing is right and is compatible with his appropriate pattern.

A competent and dedicated astrologer can prove the validity of astrology. It is not fatalistic. The wise person can control the energies in his magnetic field and thereby rule his stars. Always the choice is there: to rule or be ruled. Like a skipper steering his boat on a vast ocean, he knows the tides and how to navigate the boat successfully; so the wise man learns to handle his energies and can use the cosmic tides effectively. This is what astrology is all about.

I can say from experience that astrology can be of aid in our ongoing. It shows where the road is smooth, and you can proceed without strain. It shows where the road will be rough, and it will be necessary to slow down, to proceed with caution and at a slow pace. It shows where the road is washed out, and you would be wise to take a detour. It shows when there are emotional storms coming up on the horizon. If squalls are coming up, it is smart to steer your lifeboat into a safe harbor to wait for the storm to pass. An understanding of the energies operating at that time keeps one from rushing into the storm. In everyday life if it is raining you put on a raincoat and take your umbrella and protect yourself against the storm. You do not resent the storm. The storms and beautiful days are all part of the living and learning process. This makes common sense, which among all the senses is the most uncommon one.

An understanding of astrology can be used to help man on his inner journey. When used in the right manner, it can be a tremendous help. A mini lesson in astrology may be of help. The planets are the energies that are operating, i.e., WHAT is operating. The signs that the planets are placed in show HOW the energies operate. The twelve houses show the areas of operation or the circumstances; WHERE the planets will operate.

When in astrologer talks of aspects in the birth chart, he is talking about the discordant or harmonious contacts between the planetary energies. These contacts show the wise use or abuse of energies in past lifetimes. If these energies are discordant in what are called mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Pisces and Sagittarius), they are faults that are just beginning to manifest, and can be changed by right thinking. If the energies are in cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), they are faults of the last lifetime, and can be changed by constructive action. If the discordances are in fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) they can be difficult, for the entity has set up his personal will against the will of his High Self for many lifetimes, which creates problems that can only be solved by the person’s relinquishment of his will. It must be a complete surrender.

A division of the signs that is very important is called the quadruplicities; the elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water. These elements are present in all living matter. The amount of energy one has in these elements depends, not on the Sun sign, but how many planets there are in each element. The individual with many planets in Fire signs is spirited, full of zest and enthusiasm and has boundless energy. He is the bouncy type that is always ready to go. The Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are the Earth signs. These individuals are stolid, practical, materialistic and down-to-earth. They count success by how much money and how many possessions a person owns. The Water signs – Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces – are emotional and live their lives through their feelings. They are sympathetic, affectionate, moody and psychic. More important to them than material things, is affection. They want to be loved. Their lesson is to learn that to get it they must give it. The Air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. These types are the intellectuals, and everything must be perceived through their minds. These four faces of God are in everything in the universe.

These elements show where our energies are concentrated, for they relate to the four bodies through which we function. Fire relates to the spirit, Water to the emotional body, Air to the mind and Earth to the physical body. These are the components that make up the physical body.”

Further in Chapter 16, Isabel brings us into the Aquarian age:

“As our planet revolves around the Sun in a yearly cycle, so our Sun revolves around another sun in a cosmic cycle of two 25,800 years. This is called the precession of the equinoxes. The movement of the vernal equinox goes backward along the ecliptic at the rate of about 30’ every 2,150 years or 50 seconds every year. Just as the calendar year is divided into twelve months, so the cosmic year is divided into twelve cycles we call ages. At the present time, we have been leaving the Piscean age and entering the age of Aquarius. For each age there is a great teacher, representative from the Most High sent to earth and called the Avatar of that age. Moses was the Avatar of Taurean age. The bull is the symbol of the sign Taurus. The story in the Bible of Moses destroying the golden calf was symbolic of his breaking up the worship of the bull. The Mithric religion of that time worshipped the bull. After that age ended, the Arian age followed, and Abraham was the leader. Aries is symbolized by the ram and the lamb. The lamb became the symbol of the Messiah. The Old Testament is full of symbolism that deals with the Arian age. The Shepherd Kings – the Shepherd who watched over his flock – washed in the blood of the lamb – the Lord is my Shepherd – the Lamb of God slain from the beginning of the world – Ram in India the name for God, – Isaac sacrificing his son to please God and then putting a ram in his son’s place; these are all symbols of the Aries dispensation.

We have been in the Pisces age for 2000 years. Pisces is a water sign and its ruler, Neptune, rules the ocean. The Avatar of the Piscean age was Jesus. All through the New Testament the symbols portrayed the age of Pisces. The disciples were fishermen – “I will make you fishers of men” – the loaves and fishes – the sign of Pisces was the symbol the Christians used to notify their followers where the secret meetings would be – the mitred hat of the Catholic Bishop is in the form of a fish; these were all symbols of the age. Baptism was with water.

Now the Aquarian age is coming in. The keyword of Aquarius is I KNOW. It is an Air sign and deals with the mind. To the faith of the Piscean age will be added knowledge. We will know why we have certain belief systems. The many therapy groups of all kinds springing up all over the country are teaching how to come to dominion over thoughts and feelings. These are Aquarian concepts being brought to human consciousness. It is a group conscious age. It will be the age of true brotherhood, but we are in the process of cleaning up all the evils of the past before true brotherhood can come. There is always the necessity to clear out the poisons before the body can be healthy. Until the evils come to the surface and are recognized, they cannot be transmuted. Every area of living – collectively and personally – is being challenged, and what is wrong is coming to light.”

Prophetic, indeed, given all we have witnessed in recent years, and to this day!

Issie spoke to what the chart revealed like a light shining on your soul. I am grateful to have found her at a young age, as her teachings have guided my life. She taught: Before seeing a client, tune in, ask for guidance, picture your Higher Self connecting with the other’s Higher Self, to show you what he/she needs to hear for his/her highest good. This will give you confidence to know what to discuss, no matter how sensitive the topic. When Higher Powers guide the session, it creates a meaningful experience that serves both client and astrologer, bringing to life what it means to consider – be with the stars (con-sider), ever-moving cosmic energies that remind us of our universal heritage. The chart gives clues to the lessons or karmic burdens of a soul. Issie taught us to be spiritual detectives to lift the karmic veils and use astrology as a tool to transmute karma with grace and forgiveness.

Issie believed that consciousness determines reality, and people with the same chart can have different fates, based on their circumstances of birth and the soul’s karma: “We do not come unbound into this livingness.” For example, the 12th house ruler, it’s aspects, dignities, modal dominance, and outer planet aspects give clues of what the person has carried over from past lives, to form a cohesive soul picture. At the core of her chart evaluations was a compassion that sought the best in others, recognizing that we all do “the best we can with what we know.” She taught that astrologers carry a karmic burden for how our words make others feel. We are accountable spiritually for our interpretations and predictions, as our words carry enormous suggestive weight.

To learn how Isabel Hickey’s insights apply to you, see Your Cosmic Blueprint report. To learn more, her autobiography Never Mind includes memoirs by me and her grandson, Jay Hickey. Both available at the New Age Sages link below.

Footnotes:

(1) These first books by Isabel were posthumously combined and republished by CRCS with my editorial help, at the request of Helen Hickey. Helen and I later created a natal report drawn from Isabel’s text with Astrolabe: Your Cosmic Blueprint: A Seeker’s Guide, available via New Age Sages.

(2) The cover design by Isabel is a meditative graphic, with many meanings. Two that I appreciate are the wheel of reincarnation, and the oscillating polarities of space, time and consciousness.

(3) For years, resellers, taking advantage of its out-of-print status, were charging $50 – $300 for a copy.

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Our Aquarius moment..

By Mary Plumb | February 5, 2021

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.
Pema Chödrön

The reality of the terrible grief of many thousands of lives — and jobs, security, homes, habitats — lost in the last year is beyond comprehension.

And yet, creeping slowly along, getting more distance from the epic-changing celestial configuration that perfected in January 2020, (Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto conjunct in Capricorn) we have stumbled out of an especially dark and despairing passage and uncovered a precious gem in the rubble.

In December, Saturn and Jupiter came together in the air sign Aquarius. We are in the earliest days of a 200-year cycle of these two planets who line up to renew the inspiration and structures behind our social contracts, our collective agreements of how to make this shared world work. The air element brings the force of wind to disperse density, to bring freshness, and to prevent things from decaying beyond repair.

The Sun, Mercury and Venus have joined Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius, and the New Moon at 23° at Aquarius is on February 11th, at 11:05 a.m. PST.

(This chart is set for my location, Ashland OR. Placidus houses.)

The sky as a symbol for awareness is a familiar metaphor. In some traditions, the sky suggests the clear intelligence of the awakened mind.

The Vajrayana master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910 – 1991) wrote:

“Your view should be as high and vast as the sky. Pure awareness, once it manifests within the mind’s empty nature, can no longer be obscured by negative emotions…”

If there was ever a time to connect to the limitless field of possibilities inherent in the open sky, this is it. The Aquarius planets beckon us into the grand scope of the mind with its limitless capacity for imagination, creativity, fertility. Our visions and ideas and inspirations will follow our own leanings and proclivities, and are unique to each of us. And, we are all part of this great open-sky moment.

This is the sky beyond some fierce storm clouds. Saturn’s gravitas is in attendance, and yet there is a profound optimism when we participate with the great unknown that is longing to be born.

The effects of the pandemic and lockdown have engendered wildly different situations and responses for each of us. We do not know where we are going in this great unfolding, and we all know that we are involved in a profound upheaval in life as we have known it.

An old course is coming to an end and a new way is beginning. We know that time is short, the stakes are high and we are tied together in the matrix of all the elements.

Within the clear views of this storyline, I am thinking about the two benefics — Venus and Jupiter. Co-present in Aquarius now, they form an exact conjunction at the New Moon. We can find joy and happiness within the reality, surely one way to accept Saturn’s offer. There is a practice from the Buddhist tradition that is known as rejoicing. I see it as one of many superpowers for these times. Described as a one of the skillful means, we train the mind to notice the good in ourselves and others, to rejoice when good things happen to others. We rejoice at our own good deeds or successes, and rejoice for other’s good deeds as well. It is said to magnetize the virtue or grace of our actions as a means to bring more happiness and ease suffering for everyone.

Certainly, it lifts the spirits!

Be well, everyone.

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Mars and bedlam

By Mary Plumb | January 7, 2021

Hello friends,

I have a few immediate impressions about the events in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

I was so happy to wake up yesterday to the news that Raphael Warnock won the Senate seat in Georgia! Yay! Go Jupiter-Saturn in Aquarius! I was tracking the live feed of Congress so I saw the striking and confusing moment when the chamber was hastily emptied as pro-Trump mobs stormed into the building.

I noted the time was 2:15 p.m. and saw the the Ascendant was then at 8°48 Gemini, partile conjunct the Sibly Uranus ..uh oh, doesn’t look good. It was shocking to watch as the mayhem continued to escalate. (The lack of police presence was one especially distressing visual to behold.) Uranus is in the 6th house: the work and health of the nation, those in service to the nation.

U.S. Sibly chart with transits to the insurgency in the Capital
Placidus houses, True node (1)

On November 30 a lunar eclipse at 8°44 Gemini/Sagittarius was on the Sibly Uranus — that planet at that degree has recently been triggered.

Transiting Mars at 29°56’ Aries had a last inflammatory burst in the sign of his rulership (toxic masculinity?). One reporter described the “aggrieved and infuriated Trump supporters.” Trump’s Ascendant is 29° Leo; he easily fired up his fans that morning. “Fight for Trump!” was one cry in the crowd of supporters.

Mars transited into Taurus a few hours later, and the members of Congress collected themselves and reconvened to complete the immediate task at hand: verifying that Joe Biden won the electoral votes and was the next president — having that job settled brought a moment of calm. (Mars in Taurus, now co-present with Uranus, squares Saturn on January 13 and perfects the conjunction with Uranus on January 20 — obviously, extreme challenges ahead. This was a moment in time where a concrete action was taken.)

Transiting Mercury was at 27° Capricorn, conjunct the U.S. Pluto (27° Capricorn). The U.S. is approaching our Pluto return. Transiting Pluto was 24° exactly opposite Sibly Mercury at 24° Cancer. The Sibly chart (the national character) has Mercury opposite Pluto. There are lots of ways to think about this, (plutocracy, etc.) but I’ll just mention the streak of paranoia that is part of the temperament of the U.S. that has been noted by historians. (2)

Transiting Moon is 21° Libra, in the Sibly 10th (“the whole world is watching”) and applying to the transiting Mercury-Pluto conjunction, which is picking up the natal Mercury-Pluto opposition.

As I mentioned above, there are myriad ways to analyze this moment, see how we got here, and consider what’s next.

There are reams of causes and meanings and interpretations that we will be thinking about and discussing and integrating for a long time. For now, I’m going to let my nervous system settle down.

We have a guest writer tomorrow with another view.

Take good care everyone.

Footnote:

(1) United States (Sibly chart), July 4, 1776. 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA.; transits: January 6, 2021, 2:15 p.m. Washington, D.C.

(2) U.S. historian Richard Hofstadter wrote “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” in 1964. “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”
Harpers Archive

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The Mercury Elemental Year of Air 2021

By Gary P. Caton | December 9, 2020

“Air differs in essence in accordance with its rarity or density. When it is thinned it becomes fire, while when it is condensed it becomes wind, then cloud, when still more condensed it becomes water, then earth, then stones. Everything else comes from these.”
—Anaximenes of Miletus, circa 546 BCE (1)

In the Western philosophical tradition there is a group of pre-Socratic philosophers who are collectively known as “monists” (from the Greek “monos” meaning “single” or “one”) because of their differing ideas regarding which one of the four elements was the primary source from whence all other things emanate or flow. In seeking to understand the “first cause” of the Universe, these philosophers were taking an important step in rational thought. Their explorations would influence later philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle and help form the bedrock of Western Civilization.

Anaximenes uses the idea of density to explain differences in elemental substances in a way that makes common sense, and has also become fundamental to understanding the classical Hermetic Arts of Alchemy, Astrology and Magic. Even a child can see that Earth is more dense than Water, because when you throw a stone in a lake, it sinks. Likewise, everyone has witnessed the steam that rises into the Air once the Sun comes out and heats things up after a rain. Thus, the four elements can be arranged by their level of material density. This in turn forms a ladder by which things can move up (via rarefaction) or down (via condensation). This idea would go on to be central to the entire Ptolemaic Cosmos, which is arranged in a series of concentric spheres, with God at the most rarefied top; the stars and planets in a series of descending spheres leading down to the four elements, and finally to us. (2)

This basic and fundamental understanding of the elements, begun by Anaximenes, is extremely important to understanding classical Astrology as well as its sister arts, Alchemy and Magic. The idea that Air is simply Water which has become hotter and less dense, gives us important clues in how our Mercurial experiences of one year might differ from another. Because Mercury’s synodic (or solar cycle) is 116 days on average, this means there are three complete cycles during each calendar year. It also means that Mercury’s retrograde periods generally happen with an emphasis on one elemental triplicity, wherein Mercury spends an inordinate amount of time in the signs of one element, rather than the others.

Over the course of six or seven years, this elemental emphasis arising from Mercury’s retrogrades moves through the four elements in reverse zodiacal order, from the fire signs, to water signs, to air signs, to earth signs. I first became aware of this phenomenon through Erin Sullivan’s seminal work, Retrograde Planets. (3) I spent many years in intense study on this topic myself, resulting in my own tome: Hermetica Triptycha Volume One: The Mercury Elemental Year. (4) In Chapter Five of my book, I focus on the practical implications of understanding the way the four elements transform one into another via the classical four qualities: hot/cold and wet/dry.

The diagram above is known as the “square of opposites” and is used to demonstrate the basic interplay between elements. Once we understand that water is cold and wet, while air is hot and wet, then we can see the fundamental difference between air and water is that of density, energy and direction. This has enormous ramifications. For instance, with an understanding of the Mercury Elemental Year there were astrological reasons to have optimism that 2021 would be very different from 2020 — long before it was known whether effective vaccines for Covid could even be produced.

As we can see in the diagram above (from the ground-breaking ephemerides in my book), the nature of 2020 was defined by the Mercury Elemental Year of Water, which has the qualities of coldness, moistness and downward or inward movement. Just as the alchemical symbol for Water is a downward pointing triangle, we were forced to spend much of 2020 in isolation. However, 2021 is defined by the Mercury Elemental Year of Air, which has the quality of heat and moisture and is symbolized by an upward pointing triangle. Now that we know that effective vaccines for Covid are being produced, we have evidence to back up the astrological assumption that things should be very different in 2021.

I have written at length for TMA about the many reasons why the shifts between elements for Mercury’s retrogrades continue to be an obvious source of socio-political change (5). Because they share a quality (moistness), the shift from water to air is not quite as dramatic as others, but there should still be a noticeable difference in public discourse. In Alchemy, Air operations involve separating or sifting of entangled or enmeshed materials or ideas. One of the main things we need to accomplish is some objectivity about what has happened to the World. In 2020 we saw a lot of emotional appeals (Water) based on ideas and evidence that not everyone yet agrees on. With Mercury spending more time in the Air signs, we should be able to get more objective information about what exactly happened, what was effective, and what was not. And this, in turn, should give us better ideas about where we are heading.

This is especially true because the element of Mercury’s retrograde is the same element into which the Great Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn are now shifting. Just as moisture converts to vapor and rises in the presence of heat, our emotional attachments to entrenched ways of life will now be challenged by the need to look at things from a higher perspective. Take for instance the change in direction around the concept known as “peak oil.” It was once thought that our demand for oil would keep growing and eventually a dwindling of supply would force us to change. But now, the pandemic has forced us to change and realize we can do things very differently. This in turn, has led some to see “peak oil” as a dwindling of demand as lifestyles begin to change post-pandemic. (6)

A long term investigation of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction cycles, such as the one undertaken by my friend, Kelly Lee Phipps, clearly demonstrates that cultural diversity seems to be one of the socio-political features of Air cycles. (7) In particular, the cultural mixing that occurred in the post Alexandrian conquest era (Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Air signs from 344-245 BC), is seen to be crucial to the later formation of Western tropical astrology as we know it — with Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hindu and European ideas all coming together in Alexandria. A later Air wave (Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Air signs from 1226-1286 CE), saw great cultural mixing via the silk roads of the Mongols, and the seeds of a later European Renaissance.

From this we can expect that one of the features of 2021-2022 will be new ideas that force us to re-consider long held assumptions about the world. Air is moist and cohesive like water, but unlike water, which tends to gather and remain in pools — air is hot and active which leads to more interchange and mixing between these pockets of relative similarity. This sounds like the perfect antidote to the increasing polarization we’ve seen recently in socio-politics. As we get back out into the world and begin mixing together again, I think it’s very possible we will find that we have much more to learn from those with different viewpoints than from those who already share our ideas. In fact, it is considered a basic tenet of Jungian psychology that — especially in the second half of life — we need to move away from our habitual patterns (i.e., dominant function) to explore and integrate the unknown parts of ourselves (i.e., inferior function) in order to become whole. This has certainly been true in my own astrology career. I began, as most did at the time, as a modern astrologer. But discovering, learning and integrating more traditional material has led to my greatest growth. With the Mercury Elemental Year of Air and Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, 2021 represents a great opportunity for us all to discover, learn and integrate new ideas, philosophies and social energy.

References and recommended reading:

(1) For more on Anaximenes, see for instance The Ancient History Encyclopedia.

(2) Wikipedia: Celestial spheres

(3) Sullivan, Erin. Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 2000, pg. 67-76.

(4) Available via Rubedo Press
also available on Amazon

(Reviewed in TMA June/July 2018)

(5) I outlined the transition from Earth to Fire in 2017 for this TMA blog.

(6) See for instance a recent article in Bloomberg.

(7) Divine Inspiration Astrology.

Bio: Gary P. Caton is a transdisciplinary astrologer who maintains an active sacred relationship with the living Sky as his temple. Initiated as an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Find out more at DreamAstrologer.

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Just in time – October Full Moon

By Mary Plumb | October 28, 2020

Although nothing in the outer world is especially soothing/comforting these days — an understatement as we are seeing a global surge in coronavirus cases and on the verge of the U.S. election that has rendered many of us all but unrecognizable to the rest of us — to find a moment of unity seems far away.

But, let’s never forget Venus — to the Romans she was, among her many correspondences, a goddess of victory.

She is in Libra until November 21.

Victory! Yes, indeed, but over what?

With so many raging moods, arguments, uncertainties and distrust amongst us, I’m personally attempting to reawaken the gifts that this strange time — born within lockdowns and seclusion and accompanied by the ever-present masked faces — has offered. Isolation has created a chamber for which some of us (those, perhaps, in the most fortunate circumstances) have been able to use well.

Venusian qualities of grace and relatedness are here for our benefit: What if everything is unfolding perfectly and in complete harmony, right now?

We can potentize the equanimity of Venus in Libra and we know it will change. It will move, it will tip over into bedlam or chaos or anxiety, and yet there is a timeless moment of equipoise within reach. The inward-dwelling-ness of the pandemic may have ripened our souls to respond to such an opportunity.

Full Taurus Moon
Oct 31, 2020
7:49 a.m PDT
Grass Valley CA (39n02, 1221w04)

Consciousness studies, meditation masters and physicists tell us that we are always participating in a wildly, grandly, heretofore unseen future. A massive creative experiment is upon us now: the Full Moon on October 31 is at 8°38’ Taurus/Scorpio, with Uranus eagerly, boldly, and exactly there with the Sun and Moon. Our interior experience (and the public life) are longing to be upgraded — we are taking another big step towards a new version of ourselves and our world. Let’s include whatever ghosts — or demons or unrequited loves or hatreds or aching resentments or terrors — the Scorpio season may be showing us. Scorpio understands that welcoming and embracing our whole selves is the surest way to disarm our most shameful or toxic habits.

Have a blessed All Hallows’ Eve, Taurus Full Moon and All Souls Day (November 2), one and all.

See you on the other side.

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“Why be Vulnerable?”

By Kate Plumb | October 15, 2020

I find it often difficult to write these days as there is so much to write about and so little time to put thoughts into words. I start a blog one week, and it is irrelevant the next. However, I recently read a piece in the New York Times that revealed a perfect and timeless solution to our current anxiety and fear as we watch the dance that Mars is making through the end of the year.

Siraad Dirshe’s article was titled “Bravely Choosing to Be Vulnerable.” (1) The author explains that the word “vulnerable” came into mainstream conversations through Brene Brown’s research, and her widely watched 2010 TED Talk. (2) Dr. Brown’s research focused on hundreds of interviews with individuals who felt a strong sense of belonging to a greater community. She concluded that all those interviewees had one thing in common — they all had made a choice to be vulnerable.

In Dirshe’s article she explores, what does being “vulnerable” mean? She cites writer Rachael Elizabeth Cargle, a public academic and lecturer who says that being “vulnerable” means allowing others to see what you are ashamed of.

There are many situations — especially these days — that may lead us to feeling vulnerable: being homeless; being unable to pay rent; the loss of a loved one, or a job; financial insecurity or experiencing unrequited love; feeling lost or afraid, or feeling a pervasive sense of loss for whatever we used to have, and no longer do (including our precious environment.) Most of these experiences illicit shame. It is this shame and not speaking about it that prevents us from being vulnerable. Although these admissions can be quite terrifying, the article concludes that it is to our benefit us to let down our walls, which are exhausting to maintain.

“Bravely,” the first word in the article’s title, caught my attention. Bravely relates to Mars. If you have a strong Mars in your natal chart, you are likely inherently brave. Mars entered Aries, where he is especially forceful and headstrong, on June 29th and will not leave Aries until January 7, 2021. Mars usually spends six weeks in a sign — this year he is spending six months!

Although Mars does a retrograde loop every two years, the retrograde has not occurred in Aries since between July 1988 and January 1989. If you have any memories of that time, you may see similarities between then and now. (I keep a journal: I burned my foot on the coals of a forgotten beach fire that August, and was laid up in bed with my foot in ice water for many days.)

Mars burns, incites and ignites. Placed in the fire sign Aries, this tendency of Mars doubles down. Mars in Aries can also indicate accidents if we are moving too quickly without a clear direction. Acting rashly can have negative consequences with Mars retrograde. Using this retrograde time (through November 13) to slow down, turn inwards and choose to bravely become vulnerable.

Looking back to Mars’s most recent retrograde in Aries: Summer and fall in 1988 brought forest fires (750,000 acres in Yellowstone burned); a severe drought across the Midwest produced heat waves that cost lives; riots in Tompkins Square Park, NYC when police enforced a curfew; a major earthquake across the Nepal/India border; two big oil rig explosions in the North Sea; a major cyclone in Bangladesh; Hurricane Gilbert in the Caribbean (the second most intense tropical cyclone in history); Pan Am Flight 103 (the Lockerbie bombing), and a major railroad accident in Paris. The U.S. Presidential election was between Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush. Dukakis was ahead when the Bush campaign created its famous Willie Horton ad focusing the voters on the fear of black violence.

The time prior to 1988 when Mars retrograde was in Aries was 1973. The Watergate Scandal was unfolding in August 1973; Mars was in Aries and turned retrograde in mid-September. (The break-in had occurred June 1972.) Forty-eight government officials, including members of the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon, were eventually convicted of wrongdoing in the attempt to obtain inside information by burglarizing the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate building.

By July 1973 it was revealed that Nixon had tapes of his meetings in the Oval Office. When Nixon was finally forced to release the tapes, it was apparent the tapes had been edited, as there were gaps in the conversation. (Vice President Agnew resigned in October 1973 over a matter unrelated to the Watergate scandal.)

On November 17, 1973 (with Mars retrograde in the same area it was in September of this year) Nixon made his famous statement, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” On August 9, 1974 Nixon resigned.

I guess the lesson here is be careful of what you say or what actions you take during a Mars retrograde period in Aries. It might just come back to bite you. Remember it is not what you say that counts in astrology but WHEN you say it….

What is a solution? Do not make Nixon’s mistake, but rather turn inward and bravely choose to be vulnerable. Face and admit what you are ashamed of; let it move out of your system. Tell someone you love them, share your feelings.

Mars rules actions — it is spending so much time going back and forth in one area of the zodiac and actions taken in the outer world will get you nowhere, fast. Plans can instead be re-worked, redrawn or withdrawn. Use the remainder of this retrograde time most wisely by turning inward. Use the time to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. Choose to be brave by becoming vulnerable.

Footnote:
(1) New York Times, print edition, August 16, 2020.
Why Be Vulnerable? is the title of the digital version.

(2) Dr. Brown’s 20-minute talk, The Power of Vulnerability, as been viewed over 50 million times and it one of the 25 Most Popular Ted Talks of all time.

© 2020 Kate Plumb – all rights reserved

Bio: Kate Plumb, “cycles scientist,” is a certified NCGR counseling astrologer who teaches at various locations in New York, and sees clients in her home office. She is also certified in Astro*Carto*Graphy. Website: kateplumbastrology.com. Kate can be reached at kateplumb23@gmail.com or (631) 725-9133.

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An Important Message From Saturn

By Saturn Speaks | August 5, 2020

For a long time now I’ve been aware of a number of misdeeds happening on planet Earth. A great number of humans have been ignoring my rules and regulations.

The problem got so bad that in 2008 I enlisted the help of Pluto who came on board. He had the task of implementing my agenda and was happy to help. Since then he’s been pointing out to humans that their survival and the survival of the Earth is at stake, but even this life and death message hasn’t changed things. It seems that it’s going to take a bunch of us up here in the heavens, working together to sort out this mess.

January 12, 2020: The Sun, Ceres, Pluto, Saturn, Mercury alignment

So in January this year Mercury facilitated a meeting between myself and Pluto. And since Pluto and Ceres have been on speaking terms now for a few years, I thought it was a good idea to invite her along too. After all, this concerns the Earth and she knows quite a lot about
that topic.

Sol was there to oversee proceedings as a neutral observer, shining a direct spotlight on the Earth which really helped me in particular, but we’ll get to that part of the story a bit later.

At our special gathering in January, when massive bushfires swept across Australia, Ceres let us all know that she no longer has any control over the flora and fauna systems of planet Earth, which is a matter of grave concern to her and indeed to all of us up here. Even the seasons on Earth are out of kilter, so we could see how worried Ceres had become.

I’ve known for some time that time is running out down there on Earth. Many of you will be aware that I know quite a lot about time, as I have been in charge of it for as long as I can remember. I’ve orbited the Sun once every 29 Earth years more times than I can count. I still have plenty of time up my sleeve, but I could see that the Earth and its human population was in dire need of intervention, so I decided to recruit some assistance and that’s where Sol really helped out.

Sol helped me to look much more closely at the issues on planet Earth, and as I examined all the problems I happened to notice a very small, quite tiny virus that inhabits the micro level of creation. It immediately caught my attention. On closer inspection I realised that this virus, that they have called COVID-19, and I spoke the same language.

Thanks to Sol’s shining light, I could see that COVID-19 has exactly 29 proteins, so I knew right away that we shared the same physical structure and values.(1) He’s a mini version of me! I knew that he could be relied upon to get to the core of the problem on Earth and really help to get my message across.

My new buddy set about the task at hand. He’s been doing a really fantastic job. I am really so impressed at how efficiently he’s gone about it. A lot of people are behaving responsibly and are conserving the Earth’s resources. Ceres is happier too, because there’s less pollution and a lot of people are growing vegetables and planting more trees.

People on the Earth are starting to learn how to be more responsible and self-disciplined and beginning to think long term. Oh I know, there is a lot of fear and anxiety, but that’s an essential part of my plan. It makes people more cautious and thoughtful. They become more sincere and ethical too. I’ve used suffering and hardship before to educate people on Earth.

It seems that this is the only way to get my message across. But even now there are some people who think that my reality is an illusion. What concerns me the most are the irresponsible people on Earth who won’t face up to the reality of the limitations of the Earth’s resources. Unfortunately, there are some people who still aren’t getting my message, so it will be a while yet before my work is done.

So COVID and I will keep working hard to do what we must do, to put in place some obstacles, hardships, restrictions, limits and boundaries that will teach people how to be responsible and disciplined and recognise the limitations of earthly reality. Once this lesson
is learned I’ll get to work rebuilding.

As I said before, I have plenty of time, but sadly the Earth doesn’t. All of us up here have been really worried about the Earth. For eons, we’ve looked upon her vast array of beautiful and unique life forms. Only the Earth has these wonderful plants and amazing living
creatures. It’s unique and special and it must be preserved.

We all love the beautiful view we see every time the Earth passes by and we look forward to it, but we’ve noticed how much has been lost on Earth in such a short time. When Ceres let me know the full extent of the problem, I knew that it was time I took some drastic action.

Footnote:

(1) Researchers have discovered that COVID-19 has 29 proteins. Four are structural and 25 allow the virus to sneak in and invade the body. Chemical & Engineering News

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Sheltering together

By Mary Plumb | July 29, 2020

Every one of these days has felt crowded to me, complete unto itself, like a long chapter of a novel whose denouement seems to move farther and farther into the distance somewhere.

The physical and quantifiable evidence of these strange and stressful times — global pandemic, financial chaos, joblessness, borders closed to travelers ­— is everywhere, as is the immeasurable impact on our health and well-being.

The great difficulties of these last months that have kept us enthralled can be encapsulated by the current bundle of Capricorn planets. (1) Although we are all living through the same skies and the same planetary archetypes, our outer situations vary enormously, as does our access to resources, both within ourselves and in our environment.

But for everyone, losses are piling up — loss of lives, jobs, businesses, health, homes, gatherings, ceremonies — and a dark and foreboding grief is not hard for many of us to sense. We can also move from the weight of the current events, and join the unleashing of the enormous creativity and cultural liberation arising, as we align with the actors and impulses taking a seat at the new collective table that is forming.

Whatever life situations existed for us before the lockdown have not gone away, but rather have increased in magnitude and intensity. This current pressure cooker of conditions is something we are all living with, and what we are experiencing in our interior lives and how we are coping is an inquiry I am immensely curious about.

Like many of you, my circumstances require that I am often alone these days. Sometimes the quiet and solitude is a calm and restful cocoon, a blissful mix of sacred space and retreat. At other (random and suddenly changed) moments, what was snug and safe feels dense and oppressive. The contracting qualities in my mind can become claustrophobic and nearly panic-inducing. In conversations with friends and clients, I hear different versions, but the experience of extreme emotions and mental states are common nowadays.

I know I’m not alone in this; there are countless reports of a world-wide increase in depression and anxiety. In a study I heard about that seems relevant, the subjects were given a test, and when it was completed, they walked down a hallway to get the results. On the way, they passed two tables, one with a plate of cookies, the other with a healthy snack. If they had been given a very difficult test, the person would take a cookie (or two), while those who had taken the easier test chose the healthy snack. The interpretation was that taking the hard test depleted their resources to the point that a quick fix was needed, but after an easier test, subjects felt good and were able to make a better choice for themselves.

Now for the pivot to an antidote: A toast to the resources of the sign of Leo, where the Sun reigns until August 22. At its most positive and regal, Leo symbolizes our sovereignty, our true nature, our heart essence, and the still point within — wherever/however we have a taste of eternity, of being off the grid, and out of the matrix of our thoughts and concepts.

We all have unique ways of opening to and experiencing this timeless nourishment of the soul — something to be heralded and remembered often these days. With practice, as the yogis have shown, this beneficial state can be accessed with a few deep, slow breaths, and an emphasis on the exhale.

Joy is carried in this magical between-the-worlds state, familiar to many, including artists, musicians, and practitioners of esoteric and devotional arts. If we draw on the interplay between mysticism and science, some physicists believe that 93% to 95% of the matter that makes up the universe is “dark matter” or “dark energy,” essentially what can’t be seen or understood. (2) This is the realm of the truly creative, unseen forces that guide our world.

This state of deep relaxation, or access to what can be called our true nature, has a direct parallel in the physical body. There is the sympathetic nervous system that provokes anxiety and is triggered during stress or perceived danger, while the parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to calm.

There are clearly many difficulties in everyday life now.  The Covid-19 virus and our digitally-enhanced lives can generate fear and anxiety, which is unpleasant but also hard on the immune system. Our collective moment requires a lot from us: Befriending Saturn by noticing our edges of fear and changing the tone, or coming back into balance, can be very helpful in cultivating patience and in taking the long view necessary for the road we seem to be on.

I hope these simple thoughts are helpful. How is everybody doing? Please share your stories/comments below.

Footnotes:

(1) For those interested in a recap, Saturn and Pluto began a new 35.6–year synodic cycle on January 12, 2020 at 22°46’ Capricorn. We’re midway through the series of three Jupiter–Pluto conjunctions in their 12.46–year synodic cycle. The first conjunction was on April 4, 2020 at 24°53’ Capricorn, then on June 29 at 24°06’, and, lastly, the one on November 12 at 22°51’ Capricorn.

Saturn–Jupiter are still in the Balsamic phase of their 19.8–year synodic cycle, as we trudge through these ending days of their 200 years in the earth element. They have been conjoining in earth signs since 1802 — the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — and the year 2000 was the last conjunction in earth signs. The next conjunction, December 20, 2020 at 0°29’ Aquarius, begins a 200-year period of conjunctions in air signs.

(2) Physicist David Bohm, who had extensive dialogues with Krishnamurti, the Dalai Lama and other spiritual masters, developed a complex theory about the nature of reality and existence. His ideas, including the implicate and explicate orders, are discussed by William Keepin, Ph.D. in TMA article Astrology and the New Physics: Integrating Sacred and Secular Sciences. Dr. Keepin’s article was originally published in TMA, Aug/Sep 1995, and reprinted in TMA Oct/Nov 2009.

Thanks to TMA Publisher Kate Sholly for recommending this recent interview by Krista Tippet with Pauline Boss, author of the 2000 book, Ambiguous Loss.

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At Home with Hestia: a return to center

By Brian Clark | May 5, 2020

Our world changed in a heartbeat — anxiety frequently accompanies sudden and unexpected change. And when the anxiety of change is elevated, the instinct to imagine often turns to visions of ruin or doom; hence, telling mythic stories during this time can be of assistance. Myths turn our imaginative eye to the symbols and archetypes that sustain our humanness. They support us in the process of seeing through the literal world. How might we see through, or find a way of thinking about, the viral symptoms that are capturing our day-to-day headlines?

Symptoms are signposts to the soul. Soul does not consign the Coronavirus exclusively to an exterior reality or an event, but also identifies its inner dimension. An unwelcome visitor has been brought to the doorstep of our global village. What do we do? What would Hestia do?

I find it extraordinary that around the world the governments’ guidelines are directing us to stay home, to seek the shelter of our home-place! We are all called home to Hestia’s hearth to regain our focus, to relocate our center, to realign our values, to reflect upon, and to recover what’s been lost — and we have time to be contemplative and creative. [*]

Worldwide, we are advised to return to Hestia, the divine image of stillness and quiet. In her presence we may get a glimpse of what this time means to us, whether with personal reflections on family life, our rituals, our values, or collectively in terms of our humanness and greater humanity. The first stage in any profound transition is to go quiet — in this stillness we can feel Hestia’s embrace.

Hestia was the first-born child of Cronus and Rhea. She was the first of the Olympians, the first to be devoured by Cronus, and the last of his five children to be disgorged from his belly. The god Zeus escaped this fate, yet he always acknowledged his sister Hestia as the first goddess and the one to whom appropriate sacrifices must be made before family meals.

Hestia is first- and last-born. Being centered and focused on the inner world, she remains untainted by the world outside. Hestia is not found on the outer rim of the wheel, but is situated at its center, carrying qualities of stillness, discretion, centering, quietness, and stability. While uncomplicated by the world, she is not indifferent or unmoved by its suffering. Her spirit pervades places of sanctuary, refuge, and asylum. In the still atmosphere of the central hearth she creates the space for images to gather around. She is host to both guests and ghosts, providing the psychic room and nurturing space within which inner images can breathe. (1) Hestia is hospitable to all who arrive at her door.

Hestia welcomed the uninvited visitor as guest. The goddess knew that the voice of the divine spoke in many tongues, through many vessels, and in many ways; therefore, whoever arrived on the doorstep was welcomed. Even the diseased were offered hospice, as this was her way of healing. I am reminded of Rumi’s beautiful poem The Guest House, always appropriate, but ever so in the climate of today. (2)

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

As a goddess of hospitality, her presence is invoked in the guest chambers of the hospices and hospitals through rest, quiet, and stillness. She is the balm carried on our prayers and healing images for those in hospices and hospitals.

Few myths, statues, or temples remain of Hestia; she is rarely personified, yet before life became focused away from the home, she was the most honored goddess, worshipped at the center of every household. By Classical times Hestia was not included as one of the twelve Olympians, having been replaced by Dionysus. Hestia and her brother Hades are the only two siblings who remain separate from Olympian family dramas. Their places are internal, interior, introverted.

Few images or altars survive to remind us of their worship or importance. As gods of place, both Hestia and Hades have been re-placed and dis-placed, potent clues as to what we have culturally and psychologically done with these archetypes, these essential aspects of instinctual life. In a modern context Hestia’s hearth has become displaced onto the hustle and hurry of life, the lack of time and busyness of the outer world. As an image of the center, Hestia is not personified nor remembered by outer images and icons. In many ways she is missing, lost in the unconscious, yet ironically the governmental decree to shelter-at-home invites us to honor the goddess once again, to revive her presence and authority at the center of our lives.

Central to our psychic life, Hestia is the sacred center — the goddess who honors sacred space and protects sacred images. Hestia is hospitable, welcoming guests and ghosts to gather around her hearth, as here, with focus and attention, we tell and hear the stories of life.

As the hearth, Hestia is the center and focus of the home, the curator of family life, offering a place where our circle of ancestors can gather. As custodian of the hearth, she personifies the fire burning at the heart of life, the fireplace of the home, and the flame lit in the city center. She is the Olympic flame that will burn even though the games cannot be played. She sustains the inner world, but has been forgotten in the stampede of outer life. Formerly consigned to the unconscious, she has reappeared in the center of this pandemic.

The myth reveals that the instinct for centering ourselves, personified by Hestia, is the first divine child consumed by Cronus, the Titan god of time. Saturn, Cronus’s successor, is characterized by authority, organization, management, and control of the outer world; along with time, this all devours the presence of mind needed to be centered at the hearth of our inner world. Hestia personifies the last qualities to be released by the cartel of Cronus. We are called back to the hearth to contemplate the creative act of centering.

Has Cronus, as we’ve known him, finally released enough control to reset our human priorities, values, ethics, and integrity?

When we do not honor Hestia, we dishonor an archetypal pathway that connects us to our center, our stillness, our inner life. We risk being drawn out before we have fully repaired our relationship to Hestia. She invites us back to the hearth to reset and re-center the world that forgot her, a world brave enough to be still. A world still enough to heal.

[*] Editor’s note: Vesta is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Hestia. Asteroid Vesta is the brightest asteroid in the sky and has an orbit of 3.63 years.

Footnotes:

(1) Barbara Kirksey, “Hestia: A Background of Psychological Focusing,” from Facing the Gods, edited by James Hillman, Spring Publications, Inc. University of Dallas, Irving, TX, 1980, p.110. The author explores the etymological connections between hospitality, host, hospital, ghost, and guest.

(2) See Rumi, The Guest House.

Bio: Brian Clark is the creator of the Astro*Synthesis distance learning program which has been shaped from his experience as an astrological educator and counsellor over the past 40 years (www.astrosynthesis.com.au). Brian has his BA (Hons) and MA in Classics and Archaeology from the University of Melbourne, and has been honoured with lifetime membership from the state, national, and professional astrological organizations in Australia. His books and articles have been translated into numerous languages. His newest book, Soul, Symbol and Imagination: The Artistry of Astrology, is a reflection on his vocational path in astrology. Brian now lives in Tasmania with his wife Glennys and dog Rufus.

 

 

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Pan and the Pandemic: Love in the Time of Capricorn

By Brian Clark | April 14, 2020

Our word pandemic arises from the Greek pandemos, formed from the two ancient words pan, meaning “all,” and demos, meaning “people.” Pandemic implies all people. It was first used in the mid 17th century as an adjective suggesting of, or belonging to, all people — the public; its use as a noun was recorded in 1853. (1) Today, in the atmosphere of 2020, it is a well-worn word. When used, it reminds us that we are all the same, all on the same journey, and all susceptible to the same forces.

Coronavirus is a pandemic disease; the very sound of the word evokes anxiety as it threatens our world. Lives and livelihoods are at risk. We are gripped by the instinct to panic.

It was the great god Pan who lent his name to our word pan-ic, as when someone was frightened by his presence, a state of fear and anxiety was evoked. Imagining his exceptionally loud voice or the mere sight of the goat-footed god alarmed the ancients. Imagining the presence of the god could invoke panic. What was imaginal became physiological. Pan personified the archetypal constellation of pagan power and Nature in all its beauty and in all its savagery. Honouring Pan, being pantheistic, acknowledges the gods who dwell in the natural world.

Pan is the only Greek god I know of who was reported to have died. In the 1st century C.E., Plutarch gave an account of a sailor, Thamus, hearing a mysterious voice shouting out a message as he steered his ship along the western coast of Greece. As instructed, Thamus proclaimed that the great god Pan was dead, and the news spread fast throughout Tiberius’s Roman Empire. The Christians interpreted this to mean an end to the pagan era, the demise of all pagan and Nature gods. Under the new regime, Pan’s image was used to characterize the Devil. “Great Pan is dead” has come to symbolize institutional collapse, the nadir of a cycle, or the end of an era — more on that later. For now, let’s meet Pan the god animated in our instinctual responses to fear.

In Greek myth, we will find numerous genealogies for Pan: fathered by Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Odysseus, even Penelope’s suitors; mothered by Penelope or a variety of nymphs. There are many Pans. (2)

Of the many, perhaps Pan’s most commonly known DNA is from the union of Hermes and Dryope, as told in the Homeric Hymn to Pan. Dryope, after giving birth to her “goat-hooved, two-horned son,” panicked. As soon as she saw his fierce face “covered with beard,” she fled, abandoning her son. Proud of his son, Hermes clasped the newborn in his arms and carried him to Olympus to show the other gods, who were all pleased and, hence, named him Pan: “And Pan was the name they gave him for pleasing the hearts of them all.” (3) The immortals welcomed Pan as part of their divine family. As god, as archetype, Pan is ensouled on our psychic terrain. But by prohibiting this god from our natural terrain, the divine Pan is dishonoured every time we plunder the forests, every time we maltreat an animal, every time we pollute the natural environs.

At the end of Phaedrus, Socrates offers up a prayer to the local deities: “Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and the inward man be at one.” (4) It is a wise prayer resonant today, since our outwardness seems so out of kilter with our inwardness.

Pan and the Pandemic
What might Pan have to do with pandemic? Well, probably not a lot, except that myth and its inhabitants loosen a way of thinking, allowing symbols to take us to new ways of imagining and perceiving. With alternate ways to think of Pan, we may be less terrified of his booming voice or not as repulsed by his face. The presence of symbol is not to clarify or to explain, but to engage us in mystery.

For instance, “The Homeric Hymn to Pan” is Hymn 19, the same serial number as COVID-19! It has been reported that the transfer of the virus from animal to human may have been passed from bat to pangolin to human. Ironic that “Pan” (even though the word pangolin originates in Malay) shows up again, but even more poignant is that the endangered animal is sought for its medicinal properties. I make no meaning of this except to recognize that, when researching the symbolic world, synchronicities abound, as we enter through a portal to a world where linearity and literality no longer form timelines nor causal relationships. They reveal through images, thoughts, senses, feelings — not statistics or facts. We are in mystery, the sacred space revered by gods, but which often causes panic in the secular world, such as the stock market roller-coaster ride, panic buying, doomsday, or naive predictions.

How might we think of Pan in midst of the pandemic? Pan is Nature, both beautiful and treacherous. With Pan dead, so too is Nature. Gods do not die, but they can be dislocated, denied, and silenced. With Pan dead, so too is our relationship to Nature — to all forms of Nature, to Nature’s pantheon. While trees, animals, rocks, hilltops, and valleys may be assigned to a god, they are Nature’s deities and speak through all the spirits of nature, whether embodied by dryads, devas, elementals, nymphs, or satyrs. Nature is not just godlike, it is God.

In his beautiful tribute to Pan, D. H. Lawrence speaks of the death of Pan as if the mechanistic world has replaced Nature, a world now mastered by humans who locate the god in the machine. Our pantheon no longer includes our Nature spirits, but is pervaded by mechanistic gods. Lawrence poignantly pleads:

“A conquered world is no good to man. He sits stupefied with boredom upon his conquest. We need the universe to live again, so that we can live with it.” (5)

Nature is Pan, all the trees, all the animals, all the stones — all of us. Gods do not die, yet they can be repressed. As James Hillman emphasized, Pan still lives. He exists “in the repressed which returns in the psychopathologies of instinct,” and it is these psychopathologies that assert themselves in panic. (6) Let’s remember that at the heart of this big word psychopathology is the invitation to study the soul’s suffering. Without Pan the soul suffers, the mind is anxious. A hybrid, a goat-man, Pan is an imaginal figure who is instinctual, not civilized.

Pandemic returns us to Nature. Planes are not flying, air pollution is decreasing, birds are singing. Pandemic also isolates us, inviting us to return to quiet and stillness, having been lost in our mechanistic, nature-less world without Pan.

Pan, Capricorn, and the Devil
No doubt Capricorn is an “old goat,” as the zodiacal constellation of either a horned goat or a sea-goat was recognised as early as the second millennium B.C.E. While known as a goat to the Persians, Syrians, and Hindus, this constellation was identified by the Babylonians as a goat-fish. It may have been the Assyrians who first superimposed the image of the goat-fish onto the constellation about mid 7th century B.C.E., around the same time that the Arcadian shepherds told stories of their god Pan.

The Greeks found a correlation to the stellar image in their myths of the horned goat-god Pan who, when frightened by the monster Typhon, jumped into the sea and transformed himself into a sea-goat, identified as the goat-fish god Aigipan, one of the many Pans. The Greeks made another mythic connection to the constellation through Amaltheia, Pan’s sister. Amaltheia was the goat-nymph who nursed the young Zeus when he was concealed from his father Cronus, the Titan king. Grateful, Zeus immortalized Amaltheia in the heavens as the constellation of Capricorn. Zeus took one of her horns and filled it with the fruits of the harvest. This plentiful symbol was the Cornucopia, the Horn of Plenty, an emblem reminding us of the abundant resources underpinning this sign. As a bountiful mother substitute, Amaltheia constellates the polar opposite to Cronus, the devouring father. Cronus is the predecessor of Saturn, the deity who astrologically rules Capricorn.

The oppressive side of Saturn, ruler of Capricorn, exposes the rigidity and anxiety of the authority complex that underscores the myth of this constellation. In Capricorn, we are confronted with the split between Pan’s instinctual drives and Saturn’s devouring and controlling aspects that attempt to exert power over what feels compulsive and unknown. An obsession for perfection has no room for Pan. Capricorn is vulnerable to striving for perfection. But success, excellence, and accomplishment are too often measured in terms of consensus and corporate directives, not the soul. In the split between the public need for perfection and the private sense of failure, we see that anxiety and pan-ic can become constellated. Pan returns us to “All.” What are our communal responsibilities and objectives for caretaking our natural world? The Capricornian myth reminds us that this search for sovereignty and control of our lives can be nurtured by an ancient wellspring in the guise of Amaltheia, the soror mystica of Pan. (7)

In the myth, we are reminded that Cronus, as the regent of the old order, and his son Zeus, the light-bringer and leading god of the new era, are adversaries. In Capricorn, a collision between these two ways often occurs: the way of the father versus the way of the son, or the way of the leader versus the way of the people, perhaps the public life versus the private life. Capricorn is a symbol of autonomy and self-reliance won through the confrontation, perhaps battle, with the authoritative ruler of the old way, who controls through fear and uncertainty. In the Tarot, the old order is the Devil, symbolizing the fearful and limited patterns that enslave the individual. Without hope or reason, the individual is bound by a limited reality constructed out of the Devil’s concrete world of materialism and desire. Fearful of progress and change, the Devil imprisons his own creativity and potentialities in a world that offers no possibilities or choices. “Better the Devil we know” — perhaps pandemic reminds us to acknowledge Pan and the devils we deny. (8)

As the astrological ambassadors of Cronus and Zeus, respectively, Saturn and Jupiter symbolize this mythic template. Together they rule the last four signs of the zodiac, and during the pandemic they pass through Capricorn to meet at the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice. They conjoin in the first degree of Aquarius, the midpoint of their four transpersonal signs. While Aquarius’s mythos calls forth other gods, Saturn still rules the sign.

In the tropical zodiac, Capricorn heralds the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere, the nadir of the solar cycle. The beginning of Capricorn marks the turning of the Sun; the darkest moment has passed, and the light-bringer, the new torchbearer, emerges. In the Roman calendar, this was marked by the Saturnalia. At this time, Christians celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ, the antithesis of Pan. This marks the ending of the year, the old order. About one-third of the way through Capricorn, the New Year is born. Like great god Pan, Capricorn heralds the end of an era, the bottom of the cycle. At the darkest point in the journey, another round begins. As we approach the nadir, sanctions and limits are often introduced to remain in control and ensure that the situation remains static and unchanging. Similar to the work of the Devil, life can be locked up in a state of fear and homeostasis, leading to depression and powerlessness. Tradition and the past need to be honoured in Capricorn, yet not to the extent of imprisoning the new order which wants to emerge. Fearful of progress and change, the Devil imprisons his own creativity and potentialities in a world that offers no possibilities or choices.

Enchanted by the sweet sound of the wind blowing through the reeds, Pan tied them together to make his beautiful instrument of the panpipes. From Nature, music arises. During the pandemic, Pan is alive in the music that has poured out of the windows and balconies onto the streets again, in the banging and making noise to appreciate the work being done, and in the anxiety we all are feeling. Pan’s music is the natural and instinctual creativity embedded in our being. The Devil arises when it is not allowed expression, devoured by our fear, enclosed by fixed beliefs and self-interested values. Imprisoning creativity locks us in a two-dimensional materialistic world where power is derived through status and possessions. Imprisoned in this world, panic arises, driving us into a compulsive round of satisfying physical desires. Creativity inspires the imagination, which brings the freedom to fertilize a new way of being. But first we must acknowledge the end of the cycle. Pandemic is the nadir of the cycle.

Astrologically and metaphorically, we are in the tropics of Capricorn. In 2020, a host of planets are at a crossroads in Capricorn, as if the heavens repeat the theme of the ending of institutional, governmental, and corporate control, as Pan and his pandemic return the establishment’s focus back to the health of the people. Governments introduce new rules; treasuries release more resources — the qualities of Capricorn are brought into focus. But the health of the populace depends on Nature, not corporate cartels. Pan is Nature in all its manifestations. We are no longer — actually never were — able to control the natural world; it’s just that, before, Pan had not shouted loud enough for us to panic. Perhaps now? And will we remember this after the pandemonium (Pan-Demon-ium) has passed?

Love in the Time of Capricorn
How sad I feel, as I walk down the empty streets and look in the vacant shops and stay a metre-and-a half away from any other human being with whom I might cross paths. Yet the sky is a beautiful bright blue, the birds are singing, and my garden is profuse. Within a heartbeat, our familiar world is no longer out there, at work, on the streets, in the cafes or pubs. It is home, a return to Hestia’s hearth; we have been called inside, for our outward nature to be more still.

It is a time of Capricorn — of social distance and self-isolation. The world has changed; it’s no longer business as usual. Like any time of great upheaval, there is a possibility of initiation; Capricorn initiation suggests the descent into the fears of loss of purpose, of instability, of control, of economic collapse. The first stage of any initiatory transition is generally recognized as separation, either a physical and/or a psychic separation from the community and conventional life. We are in the separation phase: quarantine and closed boundaries. Forced into an unknown situation, the initiation takes place through encountering in ourselves and others what is repressed and needs healing and liberation. Then we are able to return to a more integrated world with appropriate boundaries and integrity. At least, that is the theory: Capricorn implies hard work, focus, integrity, respect. Capricorn’s soul-making process is authenticity which is inside, not out.

How do we love and relate in a time of Capricorn? Authentically, I feel. We make room for it All — especially what we fear. We return to Pan and find a way for our instincts and pagan self to be acknowledged in ways that suit our nature, not damage it. We form relationship to our professional self, that self we profess to be, not the one we make up to win favour and reward. We respect the other, not because they have things but because of who they are. We honour boundaries so that others can be who they are, not what we desire them to be. Love in the time of Capricorn allows us to bring quality, integrity, and sincerity back into our relationships through returning to that in ourselves.

Astrologically, Capricorn has that in-built paradox of being a trans-personal sign, yet sensitive to feelings of aloneness and rejection — feelings often denied in the pursuit of outer rewards. The pandemic brings this paradox to light; loneliness, depression, and sadness are felt in our isolation as we pass through this time. But this is a feeling, not a reality; negative feelings are feelings, too, not realities, unless we make it so — another Capricorn paradox. Perhaps we are being called to reach out through these feelings to find our authentic humanness.

How Will It All Pan Out?
Pan, as a pagan god of Capricorn, must feel so displaced to see his landscape desecrated by mines, logged to death, crowded with animals raised to slaughter. But our inner landscapes are crowded, too, with acts against the Self. We start here.

How will it all Pan out? I don’t know. I do know that in times of uncertainty, we want to know and often seek the assurance of oracles and diviners; hence, astrological predictions will abound during this time. And astrology is very assuring because at its heart is the reality of the cyclical process, so evident in 2020. But perhaps we need not to know the outcome at this juncture so that another knowing can emerge out of our being present and participating in the process that involves us All.

I return to another Pan, a heroine who emerged at another time of great transition when the natural world was ceding to the civilized one, when Prometheus stole the fire and gave it to humans, and when the Goddess was trampled by the heroic cults.

Her name is Pandora, which means “All Gifts.” In her urn was a pandemic of disease, and when the lid was taken off all these viruses were released amongst the entire human race. (9) But left at the bottom of the urn was Hope, the great gift that the Goddess passes on in times of pandemic. It is not wish fulfilment, nor expectation or optimism, not even prophecy. It is the deep knowing embedded in every human being, underneath the fear, the disease, and the desires. Hope is the human quality passed on in times of pandemic that guides and motivates us all when all seems to be lost.

Postscript
Another Pan goddess is Panacea, the daughter of Asclepius, the god of healing, who also lends her name to herbs and medicines. Her name derives from the ancient Greek pan and akos, which means “remedy”; hence, panacea is the cure-all. Modern scientists in our labs across the world are researching and formulating the panacea for our pandemic. Alchemists sought to formulate the panacea in their laboratories; therefore, like them, it is critical to remember that our pandemic disease is not cured solely by a physical vaccine, but also through the healing of our relationship to the Self and the World.

Footnotes:

(1) Merriam-Webster Dictionary

(2) For reference to the many Pans, see Timothy Gantz, Early Greek Myth, Volume 1, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1993, pp. 110–111. See Theoi.com.

(3) “The Homeric Hymn to Pan (Hymn 19)” from The Homeric Hymns, translated by Michael Crudden, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001.

(4) “Plato, Phaedrus” from The Essential Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett, The Softback Preview, 1999, p. 851.

(5) D. H. Lawrence, “Pan in America,” Southwest Review, Vol. 11, no. 2, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas (January, 1926), p. 113.

(6) James Hillman, Pan and the Nightmare, Spring Publications, New York, NY, 2007, p. 27.

(7) The soror mystica is an alchemical reference meaning “mystical sister,” the anima or equal partner to the alchemist. In this image, Amaltheia is Pan’s partner in Nature, the nurturing and caring sides of our natural world.

(8) Of interest, a beloved childhood character, Peter Pan, took the goat god’s name. Disney’s characterization excluded the darker tones that underlay the original character created by James Matthew Barrie.

(9) I am reminded of the mythic theme that Melanie Reinhart so aptly amplifies with Pholus, another hybrid on the margins of the civilized world. See Melanie Reinhart, “Pholus: ‘The Lid Comes Off,’” from Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs, Starwalker Press, London, 2011, pp. 215–234.

Bio: Brian Clark is the creator of the Astro*Synthesis distance learning program which has been shaped from his experience as an astrological educator and counsellor over the past 40 years (www.astrosynthesis.com.au). Brian has his BA (Hons) & MA in Classics and Archaeology from the University of Melbourne and has been honoured with lifetime membership from the state, national and professional astrological organizations in Australia. His books and articles have been translated into numerous languages. His newest book Soul, Symbol and Imagination: the Artistry of Astrology is a reflection on his vocational path in astrology. Brian now lives in Tasmania with his wife Glennys and dog Rufus.

© 2020 Brian Clark – all rights reserved

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