TMA This Week

The Profound Opposition of Mars, Venus, the Sun, and the Moon

By Adam Gainsburg | January 18, 2010

by Adam Gainsburg

Editors note: Readers may wish to re-read Adam Gainsburg’s earlier article on the Venus synodic cycle.

The final week of January 2010 will serve as the proving ground for a level of change not often discussed in astrological delineation.

Mars will oppose the Sun and Venus, while a Leo Full Moon forms precisely on top of the Mars-Venus opposition. This creates a double opposition of all the tantric planets: Mars-Venus and Sun-Moon. I use the word “tantric” to refer to a unification of opposites, and that principle is triply active here: masculine Mars conjunct feminine Moon, feminine Venus conjunct masculine Sun, and both pairs in opposition. Note that “masculine” and “feminine” here do not refer to gender but to the cosmological principles at play within all manifest existence.

The Mars Journey

The Mars-Sun synodic cycle is inconsistent in length. Although it is approximately 25 months in duration from conjunction to conjunction, it is the most erratic of planetary periods. From extensive research with several thousand clients and celebrity charts, I’ve come to name Mars’ phases (in order):

1. Self-Conception – conjunction
2. Gestation – post-conjunction invisibility
3. Birth – heliacal rise
4. Explorations – morning-sky ascending
5. Crisis-In-Identity – morning quadrature
6. Subjective Maturity – post quadrature, retrograde station
7. Transcendence – retrograde opposition, “midnight Mars”
8. ReOrientation – post-opposition retrograde
9. ReSurgence – direct station
10. Crisis-In-Destiny – night-sky quadrature
11. Service – post quadrature descending
12. Elder – pre-heliacal setting
13. Completion – heliacal setting, evening invisibility
(Editor’s note: The author’s terminology uses “quadrature” to represent a square.)

The Mars Journey Transcendence Phase

I propose that the retrograde Mars-Sun opposition on January 29 signifies Mars’ complete release from any limitation. At the opposition, Mars will be:

1. at his furthest geocentric distance from the Sun, which suggests Mars’ maximum individualization;
2. at perigee, that is, nearest to the center of the earth, which suggests the strongest magnetic field effect;
3. at his highest, brightest, and longest visibility in our sky, thus commanding our attention and the collective “story.”

Mars Journey

As shown in the graphic above, the opposition, which I’ve named the Transcendence Phase, marks Mars’ completion of the first half of his 25½-month journey, which began on December 5, 2008 with his conjunction to the Sun at 14° Sagittarius. The Birth into visibility at the heliacal rise was on January 15, 2009 at 15° Capricorn. As I see it, the aim of this current phase is the full exploration of the universe from within Mars’ eyes. He finds that he has attained the mundane goal (symbolized in the opposition), but not without the sense that something is missing.

A further astronomical trait of the Transcendence Phase is to consider that Mars is traveling at maximum retrograde speed, i.e., maximum internalization. In my view, Mars’ velocity acts as an alchemist for a burgeoning and powerful new archetype.

In classes, I often joke that Mars is the planet who always wins the vote on who hates retrograde the most; his nature is to exert outwardly. Now that he is retracing through the most space in the shortest amount of time, all that he has achieved (i.e., individualization) through the year-long development of his subjective self is questioned. Mars has nowhere else to exert himself as he sees the goal slipping away. What began as an unsettling feeling at the Mars retrograde station on December 20 quickly intensifies into a release from the structure of self-identity, in a kind of backwards death march into exact opposition to the Sun.

Of course, I am not saying that, at the Mars-Sun opposition every two years, all of humanity transcends into a beatific state of consciousness. Nor am I suggesting that everyone who is not born into the Transcendence Phase is doomed to never evolve. But there is an extremely powerful (rather than forceful) event at each Transcendence Phase. In my view, sentient life on Earth can find its bigger purpose, its life’s Desire, its dharma, through the combination of celestial factors listed above. Together, they create a portal into higher vision and purpose.

Sun, Earth, Mars graphic

I believe that this synodic transit catalyzes a deeper effect on us than our usual conception of a Mars-Sun opposition. The graphic above demonstrates how Earth is well within both bodies’ field effect, producing a choice between what we can see and know (Sun) and what we can do and accomplish (Mars). In a sense, our doing is extracted from the doer. This operates trans-cognitively, that is, beyond the limits of normal awareness. In my experience, meditation or any other practice with an inward focus has consistently proven helpful to actualize the transcendent potential. It has also been my observation that the influence of the synodic transit is as strong and lasting on an individual as any hard outer-planet transit and may bode equally so on the collective level as well.

January’s Transcendence

Mars at 9°48′ Leo will reach opposition to the Sun on January 29 at 2:36 p.m in Washington D.C. My assessment is:

1. We will gain a bigger view of how we can live more creatively and responsibly for our creations;
2. We can take center stage in our life, giving up those stages and causes that are not ours to star in;
3. We can perceive life and live it with more honor and inner authority.

As mentioned above, on January 15, 2009, Mars’ heliacal rise was in Capricorn; that sign can be seen to stand behind, or be the backdrop for, the current phase. Mars is now in Leo, the sign through which the longer Capricorn Mars Journey will transcend. This combination of zodiacal influences may be asking us to:

1. Bring all our service-oriented efforts forth and perform them in a way that allows us to validate ourselves;
2. Lose the heaviness of stress and control and take up the reins of the bigger adventure;
3. Retain the crucial importance of our life’s work, as we discover how to center in our deeper selves and not in the compulsions to organize life in prescribed ways.

Mars & Venus

Venus and Mars synodes

Overlaying the Mars and Venus visual synodic cycles together in the graphic above, we instantly see their symmetry — and their polarity. The pattern reveals a primordial and complex relationship that is also a profound expression of the intrinsic duality that governs the very basis of our material life.

Final Thoughts

The Full Moon at 10°15’ Leo on January 29, tightly aligned to the Mars-Venus opposition, will materialize the New Moon eclipse of January 15, 2010. This eclipse was insightfully covered by Gary Caton in last week’s TMA blog. Gary describes an “expansion-dissolution” dynamic that is strongly affirmed by the Mars/Moon – Venus/Sun opposition (from January 26 – 31), as is his read of the emergence of a “new power.”

Adam Gainsburg has authored three books, including Chiron: The Wisdom of a Deeply Open Heart. Adam is the founder of Soulsign Astrology and an active teacher and lecturer at astrology conferences since 2007. His work emphasizes the Heart’s evolutionary intelligence at the core of all astrological method. His next book, Bridges of Union (2010), will present a comprehensive delineation model of the phases in the Mars and Venus synodic cycles. Adam also records a monthly podcast on the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars and is developing an online tool to merge astronomical advances with astrological wisdom.

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Capricorn Eclipse: New Power Emerges

By Gary P. Caton | January 11, 2010

As if there weren’t enough juice flowing through the sign of The State (Capricorn), with the Lord of the Underworld (Pluto) taking up residence, now we begin a period where the Capricorn archetype will be torn open, erupting its dark shadow contents and forcing all the world to see. This is because an eclipse is essentially a rip in the fabric of time.

To really understand the power of an eclipse you must understand that time here on earth is fractal. It is measured by the constant repetition of the primal alternations of darkness and light. One day is made up of a light phase and a dark phase. Every 29 days we see the completion of the light and dark lunar phases. Every 13 lunations we see the completion of the light and dark solar phases via the seasons. With an average life expectancy close to 85 years (in the developed world), this means we will see nearly 29,000 daily cycles of light/dark and around 1040 Lunar cycle repetitions. This rhythm of light/dark is absolutely ingrained into our bodies and psyches. For instance, without the emotional processing dream-sleep of the nocturnal cycle, psychological disturbances will very quickly show themselves and we would basically go insane well within a lunar cycle.

When there is a disruption of this pattern, via an eclipse, the natural flow of the dark/light fractal is stopped in its tracks. There is darkness where there should be light. It is as if the Laws of our Universe are temporarily inverted, and the world is stood on its head. Granted, this happens somewhere twice a year, to a greater or lesser extent (depending on the power of the particular eclipse), but compared to the massive numbers of regular daily and lunar cycles, eclipses are fairly rare and therefore significant. So the eclipse becomes much more significant when thought of as a disruption of time. And, similar to sleep deprivation, things can get a little crazy — and rather quickly.

Eclipses happen in families or series, with a new member emerging approximately every 18 years. This is the Saros cycle, first discovered by Babylonian astronomer/astrologers more than two millennia ago. Solar eclipses with very similar characteristics repeat every 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours; these eclipses are then part of the same family or Saros series. Any two eclipses separated by one Saros (6,585.3 days) share very similar geometries. They occur at the same node with the Moon, at nearly the same distance from Earth, and at the same time of year.

The current eclipse belongs to Saros Series 141, the last two of which occurred in January 1992 and December 1973. This series is made up of a total of 70 eclipses, of which the current January 15, 2010 eclipse is number 23. The family began on May 19, 1613. The first annular eclipse took place on August 4, 1739. Subsequent members of Saros 141 were all annular eclipses with increasing durations, the maximum of which was reached on December 14, 1955 and lasted 12 minutes and 9 seconds. This event was the longest annular eclipse of the entire Second Millennium. The duration of annularity of each succeeding eclipse is now dropping, yet our January 15, 2010 eclipse will still be the longest annular eclipse to occur this century, with a duration of 11 minutes and 8 seconds. Annular eclipses have such long durations because they occur at lunar apogee, when the Moon is farthest from Earth, and thus moving relatively slowly. Because the Moon is too far from Earth for the apex of its shadow to touch the Earth’s surface, the Moon will not completely cover the Sun.

graphic 1

This greater distance also results in the ubiquitous “ring of fire” (annulus = ring). Some ancient astrologers felt that the resulting ring of fire made annular eclipses especially malefic.

graphic 2

Certainly, when we look back at the last three eclipses of this family, we see some very powerful events unfolding near the eclipse and/or within the following six months (until the next solar eclipse). I have selected just a few of these that seem to clearly resonate with the zodiac sign of the corresponding eclipse.

Eclipse of December 14, 1955: (21° 31′ Sagittarius)
On the evening of December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring black passengers to relinquish seats to white passengers when the bus was full. Blacks also were required to sit at the back of the bus. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system and led to a November 13, 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.

Eclipse of December 24, 1973: (2°40′ Capricorn)
May 18, 1974 saw The Smiling Buddha, code name of a nuclear test explosion by India. It was the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, making India the world’s sixth nuclear nation.

Eclipse of January 4, 1992: (13° 51′ Capricorn)
On April 28, 1992, the two remaining constituent republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia — Serbia and Montenegro — formed a new state called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (after 2003, Serbia and Montenegro), bringing to an end the official union of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Bosnian Muslims, and Macedonians that existed since 1918 (with the exception of the period during World War II).

When we look at the birth chart for this series, we see two very powerful planets: Venus in her own sign conjunct the North Node (this is a North Node series); and Mercury in his own sign and conjunct Uranus. This seems to explain the theme we have seen recently of women, minorities, and smaller nations coming to the fore around these eclipses.

Solar eclipse: May 19, 1613 12:49:32 pm LMT; Washington D.C.

graphic 3

The chart for the current January 15, 2010 eclipse seems to echo the birth chart of the series in a few important ways. Venus is again conjunct the North Node, Jupiter is again conjunct Neptune, and Pluto is again in the sign of the eclipse.

Solar eclipse: January 15, 2010 2:11:55 am EST; Washington D.C.

chart 4


Within these commonalities, it seems we can form some reasonable expectations. Venus conjunct the North Node seems to symbolize either a female leader exercising her power in ways that disrupt the current status quo, or diplomatic situations/resolutions that have far-reaching consequences. This may also indicate economic complications for a struggling economy. The year 1974 was bad for the Dow and it also happened to be during a waning Saturn-Pluto square. However, this probably echoes what we already know — that unemployment will continue to lag behind a slowly growing economy. Still, Jupiter representing banks and Neptune representing fraud tells me we have not quite seen the end of the banking scandals.

Jupiter conjunct Neptune also symbolizes simultaneous expansion and dissolution — or expansion through dissolution — as was the case with Yugoslavia. The triumph of the bus boycott simultaneously expanded Civil Rights while dissolving segregation. The expansion of India into nuclear weapons also somewhat dissolved the boundaries of “the nuclear club.”  The five permanent members of the Security Council are the only nations recognized as possessing nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Several other countries with nuclear weapons have not signed the treaty and are not recognized as “nuclear weapons states.” There has been criticism that the five permanent members have created an exclusive “nuclear club” that only addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members: for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991, but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1994.

Of course, this nuclear issue brings us to Pluto, who is again in the sign of the eclipse. It is only a matter of time before we see more posturing from or toward the “rogue nations” of Iran and North Korea, so “predicting” that one or both of these situations could come to a head in the next six months seems like a no-brainer. However, it also appears obvious that both of these nations are attempting to use their potential nuclear status as a bargaining chip, making another round of escalating tensions equally as likely. Because of the lack of clear or firm support from either Russia or China, both of these situations are essentially stalemates, whereby the “rogues” can slowly inch toward the ultimate Promethean power (symbolized nicely by the Mercury-Uranus conjunction semi-square Pluto in the foundation chart of this series).

Russia and China, as the real wild-cards in these situations, brings us back to the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction. Jupiter symbolizes wealth and Neptune communism. One of the “paranoid” fears is that a cash-strapped Russia (or its scientists) could be selling off nuclear parts or knowledge to rogue nations, or even terrorists. The reverse is China, who has plenty of cashbut could easily expand into the Korean peninsula by allowing North Korea to do its dirty work and then swallowing them. The original division of the Korean peninsula occurred under the previous Jupiter/Chiron/Neptune triple conjunction in late 1945 (in the sign of Libra).

Whatever happens, it is likely to have serious repercussions due to the intense transit menu over the summer. When viewed as a series, it is easy to see the upcoming Capricorn eclipse as symbolizing some sort of destabilizing situation that may lead to a confrontation, or Cardinal Crisis, under the cardinal t-square transits of the summer. This, in turn, may beg a response from the U.S., with the next total solar eclipse of July 11, 2010 falling in the sign of Cancer and near our national holiday.

However, the closer we get to these much anticipated astrological events, I am beginning to expect less of them. Rather than “doomsday” scenarios, I’m inclined to think these events may be seen as less important to us in their moment than the fears and anticipation leading up to them seems to warrant. Cardinal signs represent beginnings. It is quite possible that the true import of what unfolds in this pivotal year will only be fully appreciated in hindsight. Someday we may look back and see that some small shoot emerged in the summer of 2010 that eventually grew into the World Tree or the “axis mundi” of a future World Order. Surprisingly, after the final analysis on this subject, my muse is asking whether we will indeed recognize it for what it is when we see it.

Gary P. Caton is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual exploration. Gary holds a degree in counseling and has developed a unique multi-disciplinarian approach to Astrology over 17 years. Connect with Gary at

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Hello twenty ten 

By Mary Plumb | January 4, 2010

The Full Moon eclipse (the last of 2009’s six eclipses) brought us into the new decade, one of many starry omens for the turning of the calendar year.

I thought about the idea of resolutions this New Year’s, and, aside from the synonyms (e.g., resolve, determination, perseverance, tenacity, strength, fortitude, courage), the dictionary suggests another meaning: “The point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out.”

Now, that sounded like an interesting way to think about our resolve as we turn, like Janus, to see both the past and what is ahead.

We know that the planets are moving towards the astonishing line ups that begin this summer and continue for the next few years. (For example, on one particular day, July 31, 2010: Jupiter and Uranus, conjunct at 1°- 4° Aries, straddle the U.S. Sibly 4th-house cusp. They will be opposite Saturn and Mars at 1°- 2° Libra, conjunct the Sibly Midheaven, and square Pluto at 3° Capricorn. The Moon that day will be at 14° Aries, opposite the Sibly 10th-house Saturn at 14° Libra; the transiting South Node will be conjunct the Sibly Sun; the transiting Sun will be conjunct the U.S. North Node; transiting Neptune, at 27° Aquarius, will be conjunct the U.S. Moon and transiting Venus conjunct the U.S. Neptune at 22° Virgo. Yikes!) (1)

Looking back at where we were last year at this time, many of us, certainly those of us aligned with such notions as hope and vision for a new approach (can we blame Aquarian planets in the birth chart?), were riding rather high after the election of our new president.

Of course, Saturn had just opposed Uranus on Election Day (November 4, 2008) and it seemed that the good guy won and maybe things would be looking up.

After a remorseless buildup, in November 2009, Saturn squared Pluto for the first hard time, and they stay within a little over a degree from an exact square this whole month. Saturn at 5° Libra is going slowly now, in the degree of its station retrograde on the 13th, and heading back to meet Pluto for the second exact square on January 31st.

Saturn and Pluto, the grim reaper and the planet of obsession, are a mighty pair having their way with us. We all know what we’re dealing with now (at least as far as media reports go) and it doesn’t feel quite so hopeful as it did last year. The display of greed, corruption, and insensitivity to basic human needs is too obvious to repeat here. There are many fine commentators, astrological and otherwise, on such phenomena as the big squeeze play between the characters on Wall Street and Main Street. Global financial crisis is one theme in the story, of course, (the distraction of the adorable Balloon Boy notwithstanding), but there are many other such scary tales (i.e., climate change, more troops to Afghanistan, instability in Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, etc.)  that have a compelling grasp on our attention.

We all know that the movements of the planets tell the myths and tales of the times, and those of us alive now are part of that unfolding. Perhaps it takes a somewhat religious (or crazed?) turn of mind, but here we are, all together, and privileged to be here for whatever time we each may have.

The planets move within and without. Saturn and Pluto and the rest resonate with their counterparts in the human soul and call forth the toughness to match the daunting nature of the times. On whatever level we place our attention, that is, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, or any other as yet unnamed domains of human experience, we can apply the resilience, courage, and fortitude offered by the great lords of the sky. We have the inner resolve to meet any difficulty or darkness and invite the light of presence, human being-ness, to hold us tightly.

We are accompanied now, of course, by Jupiter, Neptune, and Chiron — still together in Aquarius — so we are all collaborating in this stirring moment in the human story. Jupiter moves into Pisces on January 17th, so this time period encourages practicing compassion, cultivating a mystical turn of mind, and collecting invisible resources. There are all kinds of simple ways to keep ourselves healthy, happy, and whole so we are easily part of the solutions in the days ahead. Neuroscience research suggests that meditation, poetry reading, music, walks in nature, and all manner of other such lovely and simple activities, help keep the brain regulated and improve our ability to process negative emotions. Restoring our own nervous systems and brain chemistry may never have been so important! (2)

Yesterday, as I was making soup and thinking about what to write this week, an artist-great cook friend sent me a Rumi poem, Buoyancy. The beginning lines speak to me of these beautiful, exquisitely dark/light, and always magnificent, times:

Love had taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.

I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn’t.

I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold your voice.

I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.

I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence! (3)

I love especially the line: “I used to be respectable and chaste and stable, but who can stand in this strong wind and remember these things?” That addresses so gently the tremendous struggle that we experience at dark moments in the soul. Perhaps we will have infinite kindness towards one another as Saturn and Pluto press some of us to face “the chief dramatic complication” in our lives and do our best to carry on nonetheless.

The Tibetan scholar Dr. Robert Thurman said in an interview in which he was speaking about the Dalai Lama’s teaching: “I think the Dalai Lama’s basic message is: world peace through inner peace. A new way.” He also said in that interview: “People simply say ‘no’ to more coercion and violence.” (4) Now, perhaps that is a good mantra for the workings of Saturn and Pluto within ourselves as well — simply saying “no” to tyranny and fear and the violence in our own minds and emotions. The harsh aspect between the two planets may suggest a ruthless assault on all that is not helping us and the world to move forward.

I’d like to mention the writer and activist, Arundhati Roy, born on November 24, 1961. (5) Astrologers will see signatures for activism in her natal chart, with the Sun conjunct Mars in Sagittarius and square Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. She also has Neptune, Mercury, and Venus conjunct in Scorpio. Described as being “hopelessly in love with the world’s have-nots,” Roy has the perception of a mystic and poet. (6) At a talk at the World Social Forum in Brazil in 2003, she ended her presentation on “confronting empire” like this:  “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

(1) Thanks to my good friend, Doug Kellogg, for pointing out this particularly striking day.    
(2) Read (and listen to) The Neuroscience of Compassion for a start.
(3) Read the entire poem here.
(4) Good Radio Shows
(5) Wikipedia
(6) The Witness

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The Lunar Eclipse of 12/31 and Teddy Kennedy’s Legacy

By Claudia Dikinis | December 28, 2009

Our New Year’s Eve lunar eclipse at 10° Cancer/Capricorn is a singular mark on the Senate’s December 24, 2009 final vote on its health care reform bill. The next step is for the House of Representatives to cobble together their version of the bill with the Senate’s.

Political sausage is ugly in the making, so expect fresh rounds of blistering harangues, rehashes of “death panel” conspiracies, and spicy but stale accusations of Nazism and Fascism.

But before we are forced to return to the ugliness of business as usual, commemorating 2009’s last eclipse holds special significance. This celestial event falls on the Ascendant and Descendant cusps of liberal lion of the Senate, Teddy Kennedy.

Health care reform was “the cause of my life,” he stated during the closing days of his life. Had he lived to see the historic Senate vote (beloved wife Reggie was on the Senate floor to witness it for him), this astrologer thinks he would have shouted, “Darn good start!”

Teddy Kennedy was diagnosed in late May 2008 of a lethal brain cancer called Glioma. There is no cure and most sufferers die in a matter of months. For luckier patients like Kennedy, they survive about a year.

After a valiant struggle, Kennedy succumbed late in the evening of August 25, 2009, about a year and a half from the date he endorsed Barack Obama for president (Jan. 28, 2008). It bears mentioning that there is a 29-year age difference between Teddy Kennedy and Barack Obama – the equivalent of one full Saturn cycle. When Kennedy said he was handing over “the torch of a new generation” to Obama, astrologers know he wasn’t kidding.

The December 31 eclipse on Kennedy’s Ascendant axis shows how:

A person’s chart lives on and continues to resonate during key transits and eclipses;
How a chart reveals the legacies, legends, and dynamic histories of key national figures; and
Provides a glimpse into the hearts of those who know intuitively that life is a seamless web transcending generations and enduring beyond one single person’s incarnation.

Teddy Kennedy grew from a spoiled playboy into a man who could bear and contain that level of soul responsibility.

Regardless of whether one identifies as a progressive or conservative (labels that took on heavier baggage with four oppositions of Saturn-Uranus in Virgo-Pisces), or whether one is a Kennedy fan or not, his devotion to the fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves became his life’s mission

Edward M. Kennedy

Edward Moore Kennedy (nicknamed Teddy by an older sister) was born Feb. 22, 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression. He was just shy of nine months of age when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in November of the same year. Teddy was born rich and would never know a day of hunger, homelessness, or denial of a whim. Even so, this man with a compassionate Pisces Sun and Virgo Moon conjunct Neptune found it natural in later years to reach beyond the boundaries of self to champion others.

Kennedy was elected nine times to the U.S. Senate and served a total of 46 years. He outlived his two iconic brothers – one a president, the other his Attorney General – and left a body of social, legal, and economic reforms that are unmatched.

Kennedy’s Pisces Sun is empowered by an out-of-sign conjunction with Mars and Mercury in Aquarius. Mercury (exalted in the sign) is drawn into the opposition with Kennedy’s Moon-Neptune conjunction in Virgo. Freedom-fighting Mars in the every man sign of Aquarius, coupled with Sun in oceanic Pisces, spurred Kennedy to strive ever harder for social justice.

Mercury’s out-of-sign tie-in to Moon and Neptune also made him a marvelous storyteller and spellbinding orator. Kennedy loved to sail (Pisces/water), and whether he was on his sailboat or “sailing” on oratory or raucous song, this man of large appetites and huge emotions lived an unfettered life.

Mars’s placement by itself, however, was always a bane as well as a boon for Kennedy. The warrior planet is posited in mutual reception with his Uranus in Aries. He had a lightning wit for sure. Also a knack for “cutting to the chase,” which allowed him to slice into the core of any issue. His caustic barbs blurted to anyone with the guts to invoke his Irish ire in the Senate were another story. Sometimes the lion suffered from a momentary case of paw in mouth.

That same incisive Mars-Uranus mutual reception finally taught Kennedy how to set safe boundaries around his Moon-Neptune conjunction. The lion could bite. The lion was finally protected.

As this sensitive, but often egotistical, Pisces man (with Jupiter, the Sun’s traditional ruler, in Leo!) matured – and grew into his natal Saturn – he devoted himself to a life of good deeds, redemption (he was a devoted Catholic), and atonement. (The night of July 18, 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne, a Kennedy staff campaign worker, lost her life when Kennedy’s car careened off the side of a narrow bridge. It was alleged that Kennedy was drunk at the wheel and lost control of the car. Kennedy was charged with fleeing the scene of the accident, but not with Mary Jo’s death.)

Teddy’s bouts with alcoholism, philandering, a broken back suffered in a plane crash, the assassination of two brothers, and the death of his older sister Kathleen, exacted a heavy toll. Outside events proved to be what was necessary to force Kennedy to embrace his unaspected first-house Saturn posited in duty-laden Capricorn.

The aforementioned tragedies tempered the anger, the ego, and the bluster. He donned the mantle of family patriarch and stand-in father for Jack and Bobby’s children. It was then that Kennedy fully embraced his destiny. The long road of a privileged yet tragedy-burdened life combined to make him a champion of the common people — the liberal lion of the U.S. Senate.

Lunar Eclipse

As mentioned above, eclipse Sun conjoins Teddy’s Ascendant and the Moon conjoins his Descendant. The eclipse itself is a South Node event highlighting the past, family, deep feelings, endings, and the final rest of those who have passed on.

Pluto, Venus, and Sun oppose the eclipse Moon and all flow into a t-square with Saturn positioned at 4° Libra. Teddy’s natal Ascendant joins Pluto, Venus, and Sun in the 8th house of the eclipse chart, the house of legacies, death, and inheritances. It is the house also associated with insurance and corporations.

Looking at the same planets placed in Teddy’s chart brings the Capricorn crowd in alignment with Teddy’s first,house unaspected Saturn. Although none are far enough along by degree to conjoin Teddy’s Saturn, Venus will by January 17 (two days after 2010’s first major Solar Eclipse). It will take Pluto many years to meet Teddy’s Saturn. This will occur close to and just after the USA’s first Pluto return of 2022-2023. However, the twin themes of identity (first house) and legacy/inheritances (8th house) are merged here in the charts and more will be revealed as the eclipse cycle of 2010 unfolds.

Saturn, currently in transit through Libra, is squared by the eclipse Sun, Moon, and the Capricorn players, Pluto and Venus. Venus is also in mutual reception with Saturn until mid-January 2010. Retrograde Mercury at 19° Capricorn stationed on December 26 while conjunct the North Node. This signals that the health care bill’s final form will be the result of a renewed battle between corporate special interests (Pluto in Capricorn) seeking to undermine advocates of a structured health care bill that favors fairness (Saturn in Libra).

As the United States moves closer to its 8th Saturn Return (Dec. 3, 2010), it will also make its 8th waxing square to the USA’s vulnerable Cancer Sun. The stress of that, combined with energy offloading from the cardinal t-square (transiting Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus), may force legislation that removes insurance company mandates and proposed IRS penalties. The failure of the U.S. economy and looming bankruptcy of the health care system itself may do for the public what it cannot do for itself.

Perhaps in the end health care reform will arise out of the sheer burden of necessity (Saturn). It may be that the Saturnian lesson Teddy was forced to learn personally will push the United States as a country into evolving, into manifesting something closer to the true reform Teddy Kennedy envisioned.

The Sabian Symbol for eclipse Moon is “A Clown is Caricaturing Well-Known Personalities.” Alongside the impersonations and send-ups of politicians from the likes of Leno, Letterman, and SNL, we can look forward to more biting sarcasm from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central.

Politicians will not disappoint. The usual suspects will hit the airwaves in all their majesty. Exaggerated claims made by the buffoonish Sarah Palin and the Kabuki Theater of right wing court jesters such Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck will continue unabated.

The Sabian Symbol for eclipse Sun is “Pheasants Display Their Brilliant Colors on a Private Estate.” Privilege, position, and power are clearly indicated by this Saturn-ruled Sun position. As Lynda Hill outlines in her brilliant Sabian Symbols book, “360 Degrees of Wisdom,” we have some keywords to consider: “Glorious houses and estates. Lawns and gardens. . . .  [the] Aristocracy and the ruling elite.”

The two eclipse degree symbols are either a Greek tragedy or a Greek comedy. At this stage, I’m not sure which!

Buffoons and elites will mingle this New Year’s Eve while the USA, looking a bit like the Titanic, still relies on the working class to rearrange the deck chairs. Let us hope that relief is on the way.


Edward M. Kennedy; Feb. 22, 1932; 3:58 am, EST; Dorchester, Massachusetts (42°N17’, 71°W04’). AA
Lunar Eclipse; Dec. 31, 2009; 2:12:45 pm EST; Washington, DC, (38°N53’, 77°W02’).

© 2009 Claudia D. Dikinis

Claudia D. Dikinis (Starcats) is an astrologer, poet and writer located in Santa Monica, California. As founder of AstroConsultants of Santa Monica, she maintains a thriving practice as a full-time astrologer and writer. To learn more about Claudia, her services and check out her Starcats astrology articles and blogs, visit her website: Starcats You can also email Claudia at

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A New Model for Full Planetary Phases: The Venus Journey

By Adam Gainsburg | December 1, 2009

With the current leveling of our structures and bodies by the transiting Saturn-Pluto square, along with the exposing of both our illusions and further visions a la the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune stellium, one might wonder if there’s any other sky story worthy of our attention now. In fact, there is, this January.

Since 2003, I’ve actively followed the synodic cycles of Mars-Sun and Venus-Sun, both through extensive sky-watching from many locations and through researching my client and celebrity files. I’ve investigated how ancient sky-watching wisdom from Babylonian, Egyptian, Celtic, and other cultures might be brought to bear on contemporary psychological and consciousness development today. I wish to go further than mundane considerations — but certainly not exclude them — and to meld our ancient and current skills for the purpose of exposing how a more complete vision of our astrological future might be engendered. It seemed to me that our post-postmodern focus on a more complex, yet integrated, emotional, psychological, and spiritual life was asking to be integrated with the ancients’ masterful awareness of direct-sky watching. If viable, such a marriage would further deepen us into what it means to be terrestrial and celestial simultaneously.

This January, the two most transformational events in the synodic lives of Mars and Venus will occur within two weeks of one another — what I have named Transcendence and Transmutation. These phases in the Mars-Sun and Venus-Sun cycles are the templates for our deepest inner and best outer masculine and feminine selves. They are our personal Shiva and Shakti, our own sacred masculine and feminine.

Synode-Nativity Work
Only through the synodic cycle do we see the larger developmental intention, the natal planetary phase, any relevant star testimonies, and important visual attributes of the birth moment. To understand how synodic and natal delineations work together, first assess the entire natal condition of the planet in question — i.e., sign, house, aspects, dignity, etc. This is the native’s core masculine (Mars) and feminine (Venus) wiring, their personal masculine and feminine ‘story’. Next, frame that multivalent image within the native’s planet-Sun synodic cycle — by phase, and by visual and physical attributes. Similar in concept to lunar phases, synodes are wonderful framing devices for natal and personal transit work. With both being considered, and in proper relationship to one another, a more robust and complete picture of someone’s full nature emerges: not only who someone individually is but what someone collectively contributes to the larger human unfolding. I often describe the natal synodic picture as a personal masculine/feminine dharma.

January 2010
On January 11, Venus will conjunct the Sun in her superior conjunction, marking what I call her Transmutational Underworld Phase (TMU), at 4:00 pm ET at 21°32′ Capricorn (tropical zodiac). TMU lets us know that Venus is invisible (co-rising with the Sun) and moving at her most rapid direct velocity. What the ancients observed, and what holds true for us today, is the correlation of the superior conjunction to a transmutation of those energies standing in the way of better, more appropriate expressions of Venusian functioning (the planet under synodic consideration).

graphic shows Venus behind the Sun at superior conjunction (Jan 11, 2010)

Venus behind the Sun

The visual experience of superior conjunction is of course an invisible Venus. Within us, however, even today, we sense/know that the Sun and Venus alchemize together to act as a doorway into what has been called “the underworld” for millenia. We can further understand the superior conjunction to force the Earth and Venus into a spatial polarity to one another, with the Sun positioned as their archetypal midpoint. The Sun inhabits the vesica region, the intersecting ripple patterns of influence of both planets.

graphic shows Venus-Sun-Earth archetypal ‘displacement’ at superior conjunction

Venus Sun Earth
When this is observed on a nativity, in phase progression or in mundane work, an archetypal loss occurs. What is lost here is not the content of the individual psyche — personal fears and contractive patterns — but the blueprint of our otherwise natural relationship with Venus. We (Earth) effectively lose ourselves as our own feminine (socio-physiological) center. We further find that it’s been replaced by the alchemical Venus + Sun being described above. This type of synodic transit event catalyzes a deeper effect on us than a traditionally conceived Venus-Sun conjunction. It’s been my observation that its influence is as strong and lasting for an individual as any hard outer-planet transit, and may have equal impact on the collective level as well.

Venus’ Journey is consistently 19-months in duration. From extensive research with thousands of client and celebrity charts, I’ve come to name Venus’ phases (in order):

1. Self-Conception (Transmigrational Underworld – see graphic #3 for explanation)
2. Gestation (Transmigrational Underworld)
3. Birth
4. Adolescence
5. Maturity
6. Queen’s Descent (Surrender & Discovery)
7. Transmutational Underworld (see graphic #3)
8. ReBirth
9. Queen’s Ascent (Remembering & Embodiment)
10. Wholeness
11. Crone
12. Completion (Transmigrational Underworld)

Venus’ Underworlds
Venus experiences two distinct underworld periods associated with each of her Sun conjunctions. They are entirely different in visual quality/experience and inner meaning, as may be obvious to many. The first phase, Transmigration, sees Venus retrograde at inferior conjunction (thus invisible), effectively shifting the previous cycle to the next. The most recent Transmigration took place on March 27, 2009, when Venus transmigrated out of the former Leo Journey (8-17-07 to 3-26-09) and began the current Aries Journey at 7°15′ Aries. Transmigration is the Omega/Alpha point in humanity’s developing feminine nature. The lessons learned or avoided through our Leo Femininity (prior cycle) are now being worked out through Aries (current cycle). How we’ve embraced ourselves in acceptance and love, how we’ve discovered or avoided ourselves as creators of our world, now is put to the test. This Aries Journey may be about acting from our creative natures, bravely testing new ways to relate, facing our fear of connecting with different kinds of people, and defending what’s important. It’s an active, experimental, and heart-driven Feminine. Keep in mind that the terms ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ do not refer to gender and gender issues, but to core principles inherent in each woman, man, and child.

Venus phases
Transmutation Phase
In contrast, and the subject of this series of articles, Venus’ next Transmutation Phase on January 11 (superior conjunction, invisible, fastest direct motion) immerses Venus in the core transformative process within the current Aries cycle. TMU is the midpoint of any journey and marks Venus’ precise changeover from morning-sky to night-sky (albeit invisibly). The governing intention of this and every other phase, however, remains Aries. To clarify this idea for those new to synodic delineation, we can form the question, How will Aries’ femininity develop/grow/evolve through her transition from morning-sky, to invisibility, to night-sky? Or, how will Aries’ femininity, the sign of the overall journey, radically transform from 29° Scorpio — her first disappearance in the morning sky — through 14° Pisces — her first reappearance in the evening sky? Scorpio through Pisces are the signs Venus inhabits while moving through the Transmutation Phase (TMU).

TMU occurs at the temporal midpoint in each Venus Journey, indicating that its purpose is to shift us from morning to evening Venus, yet still within that Journey’s developmental arc. Venus enters TMU having completed her entire morning-sky period with all the impulsiveness, violence, and entitlement ascribed to early morning Venus for thousands of years. She will exit, though, as Night Star, exhibiting all the benevolent, goddess-like qualities we’ve equally inherited from the past.

The Queen’s Ascent and ReBirth Phases
In her evening-turned-night period, Venus’ movement ascends — growing brighter with each passing night, sending her benefic-ial rays to touch more of the sky (increasing magnitude). While the entire transition occurs within this Aries Journey, she will emerge from TMU stripped of inhibiting assumptions, orientations, and needs, such as impatience, impulsiveness, and anger. Venus’ evening emergence is her ReBirth Phase, which occurs on February 23, 2010 at 14° Pisces, marking her night-sky heliacal rise or EF (“evening first”).

Interestingly, late February through early March will see the meaning of Venus’ ReBirth phase (entirely distinct from her earlier Birth Phase) become wedded to the dialogue between Jupiter and Uranus. Venus will conjunct Jupiter at 6° Pisces on February 16 while still invisible (yet close to reappearing), and Uranus, visibly, on March 3 at 25° Pisces, in the ReBirth phase. This celestial transference of information between Jupiter and Uranus through our feminine functioning will play out a core theme of rebirth. How so? When the Venus arrow moves from Jupiter to Uranus, we are beckoned to surrender our cognitive superiority and dissociation and the rote seeking of hollow, yet seemingly expansive, experiences. Instead we can redirect that energy into inventively crafting our new creations with others. Now, set this delineation into the larger frame of Venus’ ReBirth Phase — collaborating on new plans with others, seeking nurturing and liberating situations, and an earnest yet naïve optimism — and Venus’ ReBirth, as an evolutionary response to her prior Transmutation, can trigger a newfound capacity to boldly create with others where pre-set beliefs and fears reigned before. The real-time results will be profound for many aligned to Venus’ rhythms, either archetypally or activated through natal sensitive degrees to these synode hot spots.

The New Moon at 25° Capricorn on January 15 and the conjunction of the North Node with the Sun-Venus superior conjunction at 21° Capricorn are two additional events playing important roles in Venus’ Transmutational Underworld Phase of 2010. Colleagues are encouraged to add these events into their own investigations into the Venus-Sun synode.

This January, feminine Venus and masculine Mars will align their most transformational phases with one another. On the 11th Venus reaches superior conjunction with the Sun, known herein as her Transmutational Underworld Phase. And on the 29th, Mars enters his retrograde opposition to the Sun, what I call his Transcendence Phase. The Moon meets up with Mars during Transcendence as well, forming that month’s Full Moon. This creates a powerful set of polarities:  Sun (masculine) and Venus (feminine), Mars (masculine) and Moon (feminine). This is one of the most potent sacred science formulas for activating seed potential, changing our internal rules about who we are and what our options are, and most importantly, forging a robust and mutual partnership between our inner masculine and feminine selves. With Mars highest, brightest and visibly reddest, and Venus invisible behind the Sun, it’s time to devote to our deepest desires (red Mars) which emanate from our deepest heart (invisible Venus).

Adam Gainsburg has authored three books, including Chiron: The Wisdom of a Deeply Open Heart. Adam is the founder of Soulsign Astrology and an active teacher and lecturer at astrology conferences since 2007. His work emphasizes the Heart’s evolutionary intelligence at the core of all astrological method. His next book, Bridges of Union (2010), will present a comprehensive delineation model of the phases in the Mars and Venus synodic cycles. Adam also records a monthly podcast on the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars and is developing an online tool to merge astronomical advances with astrological wisdom.

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Waterloo at the FED?

By Mary Plumb | November 23, 2009

Although I am not an especially close observer of financial matters, Pluto’s last transit over the Sun in the horoscope of the Federal Reserve on November 10 does coincide with a rather obvious event.

A little over a week later, a “lifelong fight” by Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) had a significant step as the House moved closer to an audit of the privately held (and massively influential) bank.  H.R. 1207: The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 is “an epochal development in the relationship between the government and the country’s quasi-governmental central bank.” (1) Astrologers will have no trouble recognizing Pluto’s transit over the heart and creative life of any entity as being “epochal.”

In other interesting language, Alan Grayson (D-Florida),  a strong supporter of the bill, said, “Today was Waterloo for FED secrecy.” (2)

Federal Reserve & Pluto on the Sun

For a few quick observations, the Federal Reserve chart has Cancer ascending with the Moon in secretive Scorpio. Ron Paul’s natal Mars and Jupiter are in Scorpio right on top of the Moon.  Another close-to-exact connection is Paul’s natal Pluto at 26°28’ Cancer conjunct the Federal Reserve first-house Neptune at 27°31’ Cancer, which seems to speak of Paul’s persistence in taking on what many perceive as the nebulous workings of the bank.

Federal Reserve & Ron Paul

Here are some links to a few of the many astrological writers on the Federal Reserve chart:

A few years ago my friend Don Cerow alerted me to the significance of the Federal Reserve and he’s written extensively for years on the subject. If you go to Athena’s Web and scroll down to The Freedom Trail and follow the links, you can read a recent series of his analysis of the U.S. chart and Fed chart in relationship to Pluto’s transit into Capricorn.

Consulting astrologers will enjoy a blog entry that imagines the Fed as a client in the astrologer’s office, just as the transit of Pluto is upon itself.

Bill Meridian’s classic article, The Horoscope of the Federal Reserve, is a thorough treatment of the matter and has been updated since its original publication in 1985.

Washington D.C. blogger Jude Cowell brings Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke into the mix here.

And, for a non-astrological explanation of the Resolution from London’s Financial Times, Auditing the central bank: a jolly good thing!

Your comments and observations about the events are most welcome.

Chart data:

Federal Reserve; December 23, 1913; 6:02 p.m.; Washington, D.C.

Ron Paul, August 20, 1935, Pittsburg, PA;  from Wikipedia

Footnotes: (1) The Big Money

(2) The Progressive Mind

Additional reference: House panel votes to Advance Paul Plan on Fed Audits


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Chiron Calls

By Mary Plumb | November 2, 2009

Chiron stationed direct at 21°13’ Aquarius late at night here on the west coast on October 30.  There was a Full Moon eclipse on February 9 at 20°52’ Leo, so this degree area is especially responsive again.

Chiron station

There are other significant celestial events at the station: Saturn is newly in Libra, the Full Moon is today, Jupiter is just moving forward (as of October 12), and Neptune turns direct on November 4.

As always, there are many windows to peer through when noticing events as they parallel the sky. And there are many levels of manifestation and countless expressions of the movements in the heavens. I’m writing a few stories from my own life as the wisest of the centaurs has turned around and is slowing, slowing, slowing, and tenderly, carefully, moving forward again.

Chiron can signify a wound. Words fly out of some half conscious part of our selves and are magnetized right into someone’s most recent, or most finely tuned, point of sorrow. We’re not in our usual parameters of time with Chiron. We may slip into a new and heightened consciousness. It can happen very quickly and there is no going back — only slowly, gently, allowing space for the grace that we trust will descend again.

Enhanced by Neptune’s delicate presence, some are feeling a fragility and vulnerability that is hard to bear. On the day of the station (in close aspect to my natal Mercury, Jupiter and Pluto), I said too much to a close loved one. I’m waiting for the moment to make amends.

In another Chironic episode: On Saturday I got a phone call from a sometimes aloof (i.e., Uranus connections between us) but beloved family member. It was a longed for and cherished conversation, which was indeed a healing connection.

A dear friend’s natal Sun is at 20° Aquarius. Her Ascendant is 22° Taurus, the same degree and sign as her elderly father’s natal Sun. She flew across the country late last week to sit with her father at the hospital after he suffered a brain hemorrhage and had surgery. The family waited guardedly with him as he hovered between this world and another. He left this mortal coil early this morning, surrounded by his family and their prayers. Here Chiron’s appearance relates to the father’s illness and wound and as the shape-shifting, shamanic principle of traveling between worlds.

Chiron is also a guide on the journey to wholeness or completion. Some Jungian therapists speak of the individuation process as shamanic, in that we can retrieve parts of ourselves heretofore lost, discounted, or abandoned. This healing can be initiated at the cellular, physical, or spiritual levels — and all levels seem to interconnect with each other.

At the station, Chiron is barely moving. Chiron gives the gift of a new perspective, which in some traditions has to be practiced with diligence and inner gentleness. It can be accompanied by acute awareness of pain, emptiness, being different or left out.

This weekend, I spoke with someone who is in a healing journey with a shaman. At this moment in the therapeutic process, having re-visited a critical early wound, she is literally at the time where she has been instructed to “practice the new perspective.” Chiron signifies the recapitulation of a wound, the insight gained, and the necessity to practice the change in awareness that then stimulates new neural pathways in the nervous system. In this case, the Chiron station is conjunct Mercury, which is aspected by Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto.

I have friends in a challenging relationship. The composite chart has Saturn conjunct the South Node at 21° Aquarius. Late last week they came to the decision to break off all contact (for now, anyway), after a series of difficult and painful disagreements.

Another friend has struggled for years with digestive issues. She is an alternative health care professional and has tried everything. She is thrilled to have received a definitive diagnosis (i.e., celiac disease) on Friday. (She said, Mary, tell them it’s been 40 years!) She has a Moon-Mars conjunction at 21° Leo in the natal horoscope — the Chiron station in opposition brought a significant new perspective for her long-standing digestion (Moon-Mars) issues. The Moon and Mars are part of a fixed cross in the natal chart, suggesting the persistence of her symptoms and her huge relief now.

Someone else I am very close to has Venus, the Moon, and Pluto in Leo. The Venus/Pluto midpoint is precisely at 21° Leo. Transiting Chiron stopping directly opposite that very sensitive point has brought intense awareness of her deeply familiar feelings of abandonment and aloneness. She has been grappling with her emotional history for a while now, but the Chiron station has sharply and painfully articulated what she now feels is the primary wound at her emotional core.

At times like these I often consult the I Ching. Yesterday I threw hexagram #8: Holding Together. In The I Ching Workbook by R. L. Wing (1979), I read: “The individual human spirit is nourished by a sense of connectedness to the whole of human awareness….You will be able to glimpse yourself as a part of a whole, which will both amplify your individuality and annihilate it. Do not fear this, for it will not diminish your self-awareness but rather spotlight it against a more profound background.”

I think these words are a beautiful description for these days with Chiron, Neptune, and Jupiter continuing to travel together and moving forward again. May we all find the way home to our own true selves.

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Mars in Leo & the Cardinal Crisis

By Gary P. Caton | October 26, 2009

On October 16, 2009 Mars began his longest transit of Leo since 1962-63. The 1962-63 time period saw publication of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and the Cuban missile crisis. The 1962 Mars into Leo ingress chart cast for Washington, D.C. has a Taurus Ascendant.

Chart for Mars ingress to Leo: October 11, 1962; Washington, D.C. (38N54, 77W02); whole sign houses

Mars ingress to Leo, 1962

Mars rules the 12th whole-sign house of prisons and secret enemies, and the 7th whole-sign house of open enemies. Mars is also the exaltation ruler of the 9th whole sign of Capricorn, which signifies religion, churches and preachers, as well as the Law. Mars with the North Node in the 4th house of this chart represents a popular movement of the People in opposition to the Government. I find this chart to be very fitting for these two rather important historical events, both occurring during Mars’s prolonged stay in the sign.

Mars’s October 16, 2009 ingress chart cast for Washington, D.C. has Sagittarius rising.

Chart for Mars ingress to Leo: October 16, 2009; Washington, D.C. (38N54, 77W02); whole sign houses

Mars ingress to Leo, 2009

Mars, once again, rules the 12th whole-sign of secret enemies and prisons, as well as the 5th whole sign, which is related to ambassadors and “high society.” Mars is also the exaltation ruler of the 2nd whole sign, which has to do with banks and stock markets. Mars is located in the 9th whole sign, which suggests issues of religion and law, and  international communications and travel.

We could speculate from the above that we can expect important events related to spies or “secret enemies.” This could suggest anything from terrorists or insurgents, to countries that are secretly undermining or, at the very least, not cooperating with our agenda. However, with the 5th and 9th also activated, it seems that we are actively negotiating with these countries to deal with the various hidden agendas.

There are, however, more compelling reasons to pay attention to this Mars ingress chart, as it has several parallels to the U.S. Sibly chart.

The most obvious parallel is that both charts are Sagittarius rising and so they share the same house structure. Leo is the 9th whole sign in both charts, the house of the Sibly North Node. Furthermore, on July 20, 2006, the Sibly secondary progressed Mars turned retrograde for the first time in American history (at 18°42’ Libra). Finally, Leo is the sign of the Sibly secondary progressed Ascendant.

It is fascinating that the U.S. has been dealing with either Iran or Iraq for much of the time that the Sibly secondary progressed Ascendant has been in Leo, i.e., since the early 1970’s. Prior to 1962-63, Mars had an extended transit through Leo in 1915-16. This was the time of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which reneged on T.E. Lawrence’s promise of a unified Arab region in return for their allegiance to the Allied powers against the Ottoman Empire in WWI. Instead, Britain, France, and Russia divvied up the Arab lands into spheres of influence, which eventually resulted in what we now know as Iran, Iraq, and Israel. This was a turning point in Arab relations with the West and planted some of the seeds of the current cycle of violence in which we find ourselves embroiled.

It seems to me that part of America’s destiny is to moderate the imperialistic urges (our own and others) symbolized by the natal Sibly Leo North Node in the 9th. America was formed during the height of British imperialism. We defeated the British and expanded past the Mississippi largely with the help of French imperialist ambitions. The post WWII era was defined by the Cold War, which was essentially a contest to see who would be the biggest “superpower.” If this was not literal imperialism, it can be viewed as a competition between American and Russian national egos. Now we find ourselves partnered (in one way or another) with all three of these nations in attempting to deal with the direct consequences of this collective imperialism. The compelling coincidences or synchronicity of this convergence of national interests in the Middle East region once again should not be lost on us.We may be faced now with an opportunity to balance the mistakes of the past century.

Perhaps it is now time that America can become a world leader by example, rather than by force or meddling. By joining in the efforts to limit greenhouse gases, control nuclear proliferation, and expand global economic ties, President Obama has already taken huge strides in this direction. However, until foreign forces leave Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly even Iran, we cannot really say that this period of history is finished, can we? For a new chapter to begin, it seems that the international community will have to allow the nations of the Middle East to have control over their own destiny, to sort things out on their own, or at the very least without constant military interventions. Viewed historically, it appears to me that Mars in Leo could be a test of our resolve to begin to do just that.

In fact, viewed historically, this Mars transit appears to be part of a much bigger picture. As astrologers, we all know we are now coming under the aegis of the transiting  Uranus-Pluto squares. These planets’ alignments have been historically important for the U.S. Mars and will activate the mid-point of the forming transit Uranus-Pluto squares three times while in Leo. This is extremely important for the U.S. because the Sibly natal Midheaven/IC axis forms the mid-point of the natal Uranus-Pluto waxing gibbous angle of 131°. Mars will be forming this same angle, and also the tri-octile or sesquisquare (135°) to both ends of the forming Uranus-Pluto square three times over the next 8 months. This aspect configuration is known by different names, such as Arrowhead, Thor’s Hammer, or God’s Fist.

Some astrologers view this configuration like the t-square, with the energy originating in the tension of the two square planets (in this case, Uranus-Pluto) and finding an outlet through the apex planet (in this case, Mars). This means we must use the apex planet, Mars, to find creative solutions to the square or the tension of the square could erupt suddenly and perhaps destructively. This perspective reflects the use of this configuration as a tool, like an Arrowhead, and seems to be demonstrated in the possible nuclear deal brokered by the U.S. between Iran, Russia, and France. We could effectively divert the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon — at least in the short term.

Other astrologers see the energy flow of this configuration originating with the apex planet (Mars in this case). This image is more like a Hammer or Fist. Mars, then, must find a way to wield the power and dynamic energy of the square planets, Uranus and Pluto. Again, we need to find a way to use this constructively and creatively, or the energy can become destructive. A hammer can either be used to crush an object or to drive home a connecting agent, such as a nail or dowel. Perhaps this hammer can be used to begin to construct the framework for the grand vision of President Obama and the U.S. becoming a leader in alternative energy.

Mars will remain in Leo until June 7, 2010. Mars entered the “shadow” of retrograde immediately upon his ingress to Leo. He stations retrograde on December 20, 2009 at 19°42’ Leo. This is a little more than a degree from the fixed-cross eclipse of 1999 at 18°22’ Leo. The direct station is March 10, 2010 at nearly 0° Leo – very close to last summer’s eclipse degree (i.e., 29°26’ Cancer). Mars does not clear the “shadow” of the retrograde until he passes the initial retrograde station in mid-May 2010. The most important transits during this period, as I see it, will be the tri-octile or sesquiquadrate aspects to Uranus and Pluto and their mid-point. These will occur throughout the months of November, January, and May and will set the stage for whether next summer’s dramatic cardinal alignments, and perhaps even the Uranus-Pluto squares, will be experienced as a destructive or creative crisis.

About Gary P. Caton:

In addition to practicing Mundane astrology, Gary P. Caton hosts the FREE Goddess Astrology pod-cast which illuminates the current cycles of Venus and the Asteroid Goddesses and is the best reviewed astrology pod-cast on iTunes! Gary is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration, holds a degree in counseling and has developed a unique multi-discipline approach over 17 years. You can connect with Gary at www.DreamAstrologer

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A Big Week

By Mary Plumb | October 12, 2009

Within a week President Obama went from the stunning disappointment of traveling to Copenhagen, replete with exaggerated media attention and fanfare, to having Chicago eliminated for the 2012 Olympics, and then to the equally stunning surprise of winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

What happened in his personal horoscope within that week?

As a background theme: the President has Scorpio on the Midheaven, which symbolizes his public life and reputation. Scorpio is ruled by Mars, which is natally placed at 22°35’ Virgo. Transiting Uranus, of course, has been opposing Mars since summer 2008. And 22° is a particularly sensitive degree: Uranus stationed retrograde at 22° in June 2008 and, after moving back and forth a bit, it stations again at 22°, this time going direct on December 1. So, generally, Obama’s reputation is subject to the quick reversals signified by the volatile and eccentric Uranus. Obama, natal

Looking more specifically, transiting Mars was applying to oppose natal Saturn in Capricorn (co-ruler of the Ascendant) for the trip to Copenhagen. The opposition was exact on October 6; some obstacle had come to a head and was behind him when the Nobel Prize was announced on October 9. Transiting Venus came to consort with Mars as well — Venus was exactly conjunct the President’s natal Mars late on the 8th.

Obama’s progressed Mars travels through 23° Libra, the degree of the beautiful fixed star Spica, for only a few years in his horoscope. In October 2008, Mars arrived at 23° and will move to 24° in mid 2010. The President’s progressed Moon was at the very end of a sign when he went to Copenhagen, at 29° Aquarius. On October 6 the Moon moved into Pisces, just in time to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.


Obama, progressedThe mysterious, shape-shifting, projection-laden, out-of-the-ordinary, yet expansive/possibly magnificent conditions described by the rare and refined combination of Chiron, Jupiter, and Neptune is part of the picture as well. Disappointments (Neptune), unusual experiences (Chiron), great honors (Jupiter) are all hovering around the President’s Ascendant. Jupiter is closest right now: the bringer of reward and accolades goes direct on October 12, within a degree of Obama’s Ascendant.

With this combination of influences, the Aquarius archetype is obviously pronounced.  We can imagine for a moment that the Nobel Prize might signify some of the best of Aquarius, i.e., the ability to see beyond what is currently apparent, to demonstrate clear, deep thinking, to have genuine independence from practical restraints, and to recognize creative possibilities hidden from our ordinary view. As Rick Tarnas has proposed, rather than Uranus, it may be Prometheus — the wisest of the Titans who tricked Zeus and stole fire from the gods to give to humans — who is resonant with the sign of Aquarius.

Psychological astrologers say that it’s never a good idea to argue with an archetype. Putting cynicism and doubt about the prize being awarded to the President so early in his term (and on the same day he was debating a huge expanse of troops in Afghanistan) aside, maybe the Aquarian ability to offer an experience of mutual hope and bring inexplicable events is setting a very high bar that the President and all of his companions (that’s us, friends) can indeed accomplish.

There was an air trine in the sky on the day of the announcement: the Sun at 16° Libra, and the Moon in Gemini complete the trine to Jupiter. (1)  (Oct. 9, 2009; 9:00 am GMT; Oslo, Norway)


Nobel Prize AnnouncementCertainly, as transiting Saturn is about to cross the U.S. Midheaven, our reputation as a nation is at a crucial turning point and the U.S. can demonstrate a new kind of responsible leadership in the world. (2)

(1) “Mr. Obama was not told of the award in advance and only found out about it when he was awakened by his press secretary at 6:00 am (1000 GMT), an hour after the decision was announced in Oslo.”
Times Online

(2) The Sibly Midheaven is 1°03’ Libra. Transiting Saturn will be exactly there on November 8 and continue through the summer of 2010.

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The Libra Ingress Chart

By Gary P. Caton | September 21, 2009

Astrologers have inherited a truly rich history, and we modern astrologers would be wise to integrate more of its lessons. For instance, having some time ago researched the astrology around the Black Death of the Middle Ages, I was not surprised when the swine flu erupted onto the scene earlier this year, even when it was labeled a pandemic. After all, medieval astrologers blamed another triple conjunction in Aquarius — that of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — for history’s most famous pandemic. However, when one looks more closely, it is easy to see that that triple conjunction did not occur at the time of the outbreak itself. Rather, it occurred at the Sun’s ingress into Aries in 1345. This is a clue about the vital importance of these moments of ingress.

One of the most powerful tools for the mundane astrologer has always been the ingress chart — cast for the capital city of a country at the precise moment when the Sun enters the cardinal signs, which mark the solstice and equinoctial points and, thus, the foundation of the tropical zodiac. It was by using these charts that I correctly predicted (in the Dec. 2002/Jan. 2003 issue of The Mountain Astrologer) that the war in Iraq would face significant opposition before its first summer was over. When one views the 2008 Aries ingress through the lens of classical astrology, it becomes quite clear that the unusual nature of this chart depicts the third worst year in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Jupiter in Capricorn is in fall in the 2nd whole sign house, and Mars in Cancer is in fall in the 8th. The dispositors of those planets, Saturn and the Moon, respectively, are conjunct in Virgo in the 10th and opposite their fallen dispositor, Mercury in Pisces, in the 4th. In short, this chart says: Fall, Fall, Fall. And that’s the way it was. So, let us have a look at 2009 and gaze into the crystal ball that its ingress charts provide.

A general rule in traditional astrology is that if the Ascendant of the Aries ingress chart is in a cardinal sign, the chart remains valid for three months only, and it is necessary to draw further charts for the Sun’s entry into Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. The 2009 Aries ingress, which has an Aries Ascendant (when cast for Washington, D.C.), is one such case. So, the Cancer ingress is the chart we have been living under for the past three months. You may remember that the summer solstice was closely accompanied by a New Moon and the asteroid Vesta. I have noted that Vesta represents a process of compression and contraction much like the first stage of birth labor. The uterus is pressing in on all sides, but the cervix has not yet dilated, so there is no place yet for the baby to go! Doesn’t this describe the emotional turbulence surrounding this summer’s health care “debate”? Curiously enough, the Libra ingress is also closely preceded by a New Moon, which is again conjunct one of the Asteroid Goddesses, Pallas Athena. Pallas symbolizes a release of the pressure from the Vesta stage and a springing forth into the birth canal (or wormhole) that leads to our future. Let us hope it is so! You can read more material about the Goddesses on my Web site and my Goddess Astrology page on Facebook.

With this general sense of the process of rebirth in mind, what else does the 2009 Libra ingress chart show us?

Libra Ingress



When the chart is cast for Washington, D.C., we see an Aquarius Ascendant. Right away, this tells us that President Barack Obama (who also has Aquarius rising) will be making some prominent appearances. This is no surprise, but this theme is backed up in a couple other places. The Moon is a mundane chart represents the people and where their attention falls. In the 10th whole sign house, this Moon is focused on the executive branch of the government. The president himself, symbolized by the Sun, is in the 9th whole sign. This suggests that his attention is on legal and foreign affairs. But what about health care, you may ask? We must assume that, after his speech, the president will once again leave this process to the legislative branch. In fact, the Sun in the 9th is suggestive of him signing into law some new initiative(s). The Congress itself and legislation are symbolized by the 11th house. With the Sagittarius Midheaven there, ruled by Jupiter rising in the 1st whole sign, we can again assume some progress.

When we begin to look at the dispositorships for this chart, we can flesh out the picture further. The president, symbolized by the Sun in Libra, seems to be on a diplomatic mission of peace, since the Sun’s dispositor is Venus. Located in the 8th whole sign (Virgo), Venus symbolizes a concern with the details of our financial relations with other countries. In the sign of her fall, she is unable to exercise her power due to circumstances beyond her control. Because Venus reports to a retrograde Mercury in his own sign and conjunct Saturn, this astrologer thinks it not unlikely that President Obama will once more feel the need to call on former Democratic Presidents Clinton and/or Carter for support. I also predicted earlier this year that, since Mercury retrogrades are moving from air signs back into earth signs, we may see political issues from the years 2002 and 1996 re-emerge, as Mercury was following the same pattern in those years as well. Specifically, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process may be up for renegotiation, since Obama’s mediator had meetings with Netanyahu earlier this year. Juno’s current return to Obama’s natal placement of 0° Aries seems to be an indicator of success in such endeavors.

A broader look at the dispositor trees for this chart gives us a feeling of the overall spirit of the time. Since there is a mutual reception, Mercury in Virgo cannot be the final dispositor of the entire chart. A fallen Mars in the 6th whole sign house, in mutual reception with a fallen Moon in the 10th, suggests that issues of public health will be on the people’s minds and perhaps demand to be addressed by the president. The fallen Sun in the 9th may indicate a call for some voluntary restrictions on travel to ease the possibility of spreading contagious illnesses. A fallen Venus in the 8th also suggests that public mortality (perhaps from war as well as flu) will be perceived as somehow under the control or influence of special circumstances.

The saving grace of this chart seems to be Mercury in his own sign of Virgo. I feel that he is protected by his conjunction with Pallas, the patron of heroic endeavor — the Palladium was one of the most sought-after protective talismans in ancient Greece. Since Mercury is the final dispositor of all other planets except Mars and the Moon, this suggests that the media, ambassadors, trade/commerce, and communications of all kinds will be very active and prominent. However, Mercury also faces a few challenges here because he is retrograde, conjunct Saturn, and invisible. I do not embrace the concept of “combustion” for planets hidden by the Sun; instead, I view them, as does Bernadette Brady, to be planets not entirely of this world. Additionally, the Underworld journey is the natural mythic province of Mercury, so I believe that he is not necessarily “weakened” by this phase, particularly since he is past the point of interior conjunction with the Sun and thus can be seen as rising or on his way up and out of the “special world” of the Hero.

The journey to the Underworld is steeped in diverse mythology. Joseph Campbell notes that it is part of the Universal path of the Hero. In astrological symbolism, we can see that the invitation to the Underworld harkens at every turn. Midnight comes to us each day, beckoning us to explore the subconscious Underworld of our dreams. The New Moon visits us monthly, asking us to explore the ebbing of our vital force and the quiet place within. The winter solstice is a time of spiritual seeking and rededication of our life path. The heliacal setting of a planet into invisibility (as it moves within 15–18 degrees of the Sun) asks us to explore the unconscious qualities of that energy in ourselves and our environment. But as astrologer–shamans, we also know that each of these markers is only a point in an endless cycle — a cycle of rebirth! What this placement suggests to me, then, is a more spiritual focus for Mercury and Saturn, rather than material. In addition, invisible planets (particularly in the 8th whole sign house) often represent forces behind the scenes that later burst out in dramatic fashion (symbolized by the movement toward heliacal rise and rebirth into visibility as morning star). We can hope that this represents the triumph of decency and genuine concern for our fellow citizens over the interests of big insurance, lobbyists, and corrupt politicians.

Brady, Bernadette. Visual Astrology Newsletter, August 2009;

Burk, Kevin B. “Essential Dignities,” in TMA, Aug./Sept. 2009.

Caton, Gary P. “Saturn’s Perihelion,” in TMA, Dec. 2002/Jan. 2003.

Caton, Gary P. “Avian Flu,” in Considerations, Vol. XXI, #1.

Caton, Gary P. “Mercury Elemental Year,” Major Sky, Pisces New Moon Edition.

Caton, Gary P. “Goddess Astrology Re-Visioned,” in TMA, Aug./Sept. 2009.

Caton, Gary P. “Obama’s Juno Return,”

Houlding, Deborah. “Ingresses,”

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