TMA This Week

Stepping into the Circle

By Mary Plumb | September 29, 2014

I am writing this after the closing ceremony at the ISAR 2014 conference in Phoenix. The event’s title, Stepping into the Circle, Embracing the Spirit of Community, has come to life vividly. The event began on Thursday the 25th with Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars in a fire trine.

At the opening ceremony we were honored (and delighted and amazed) with the Hoop Dance, a live rendition of the Man in the Maze legend of the Pima and Maricopa people, on whose sacred land the event was held. The Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, Arizona is a beautiful environment on the reservation of the Pima and Maricopa people, who partnered with ISAR to host the conference.

It has been a wonderful event, from the spectacular setting to the carefully designed schedule (not too hectic — space and time to appreciate each other), and, of course, the great presentations of astrologers from all over the world. (The guest/faculty list was composed of people from 23 countries.)

Congratulations and thank you to ISAR. Although the three people I will name were generous in their appreciation of all the (other) people who helped produce the conference, special thanks to Gisele Terry (who opened with a beautiful talk on the layers of symbolism within the circle that we entered together), Chris McRae, and Michelle Gould.

A spirit of community and inclusion within the world of astrology provided a backdrop for a number of brilliant and diverse speakers, some of whom I hope to invite onto this blog in the coming weeks. I had a chance to talk with many loyal friends of TMA and met many new friends — it was a glorious time. Thanks also to everyone who shared such warm appreciation to Tem and the TMA staff.

Onwards, to the Full Moon eclipse on October 8.

Have a good week, everyone.

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A tribute to the Sun

By Mary Plumb | August 4, 2014

The current lunation cycle began with the July 26th New Moon at 3°51′ Leo (with Jupiter at 2°20′). Mercury entered Leo on the 31st and conjoined Jupiter on August 2nd, also at 3°51′ Leo, beginning a new synodic cycle of that pair. Another synodic cycle begins with the Sun- Mercury superior conjunction on August 8 at 16°03′ Leo.

The current heat, fires, and drought on the west coast are bringing the Leo planets front and center. I’ve also been thinking about the astrological Sun.

I remember a simple technique that I learned from Robert Cole’s book, The Book of Houses (1980). It’s something I’ve used over the years (probably most often with Leo rising charts).

Cole spoke about one’s “four personal holidays” in the year: the days when the transiting Sun crosses each of the angles.

The Sun crossing the Ascendant is reminiscent of one’s birth. We are tender; I think he may have used the image of a newborn chick just hatching out of the egg. It certainly is the beginning of a new yearly cycle for the individual. I spoke with someone today who said she always feels the need to go to the beach and get the sun on her skin on the day the Sun crosses her natal Ascendant. (In this case, early Gemini is on the Ascendant; in the northern hemisphere it’s getting warm and a trip to the beach is possible).

The Sun crossing the nadir is the deepest, darkest, most personal few days. Cole wrote about honoring one’s ancestors, family, and foundations. Our interior private life is what is being charged with the life-giving sustenance of the Sun. I got a call from someone this week who has been sadly estranged from her son for many, many years. She called for emotional support as she felt deeply bereft about her son — it was his birthday and also the transit of the Sun at her nadir. We had never made the connection before, but she remembered that I had given her that day as a personal holiday to honor the family and the past. We both understood the depth of her dismay more clearly by recognizing that her son was born when the transiting Sun was at her nadir.

When the Sun gets to the Descendant, the doorway to the public at large, and to all significant others, opens. I think Cole wrote about compromise with others, i.e., listening to them, placing their needs and desires first (maybe only for one day!). I have used this often with clients in relationship matters. Observing this personal holiday in the year by being most receptive to others is a simple remedy that can cause magic to happen. I know someone with 4° Leo on the Descendant; it wasn’t hard to see ahead of time that last week’s New Moon (with Jupiter) might bring a promising invitation. Seemingly out of the blue, he got a very intriguing job offer from an old family friend who he hasn’t seen in 30 years.

The Sun crossing the Midheaven takes us to the top; we are at the peak of our year when we have a maximum view. We can see where we’ve come from and where we might go next. (Cole wrote about this as our “personal harvest day.”) All matters regarding reputation and career are in the forefront on this day as well.

If you haven’t noticed the ritual of watching the transiting Sun mark your personal turning points in the year, may it be a newfound delight.

Happy Solar Return to all Leos out there. We all bask in the radiance of the Sun!

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Judith Hill’s book on eclipses

By Mary Plumb | June 16, 2014

Every once in awhile I like to write about a book of particular interest for TMA‘s blog. Eclipses and You: How to Align with Life’s Hidden Tides, by Judith Hill, is a book with wide appeal. (1) Although written for the lay reader, there are lots of additions for practicing astrologers in this substantive but easy-to-read-and-apply book.

Judith Hill has an understanding of eclipses born from her long experience with clients and her dedication to astrological research. (Her first paid astrological reading was when she was 14. Now she is somewhere close to my age, so no need to mention how old she is; let’s just say she’s in her prime.)

The author has creative analogies for understanding the essential nature of eclipses and refers to earlier writers’ ideas on the subject, i.e., Robert Carl Jansky and H. S. Green. She speaks of the “tidal waves” of change at eclipse times and describes the four types of eclipses (i.e., North and South Node, Solar and Lunar) in detail. She first establishes the view of north node eclipses as being a “power surge,” or entry point of energy, while the south node eclipse is inclined towards “power outage.” Herein we see echoes of the often recognized view of the north node as the entry point for energy or information and the south node as a release or discharge point.

Although she suggests a professional astrology session for a more specific delineation, Hill also offers a great range of practical ideas for how an eclipse in each sign (both solar and lunar) will impact each of the twelve signs. She is proactive and remedial in approach. Chapter 3: What Can I Do? has suggestions for minimizing the potential negative impact of an upcoming eclipse. (The book has a table for eclipse dates from 2013-2023 which includes the nodal type.) Chapter 6: For Those Who Read Charts has timing tips, notes on planets connected to the eclipse including interpretations by south or north node polarity, and more.

The author’s descriptions of the zodiac signs are informed by her knowledge of many areas within Classical Western Astrology —mundane, horary, vocational, electional — and especially her expertise in medical astrology. Each section includes Medical Effects and Cautions for eclipses in each of the twelve signs, and more specifics as they are relevant for the eclipse’s possible health-related manifestations in each of the other signs. (For example, the section of Cautions for a Pisces eclipse — either solar or lunar — begins: “Anyone on psychiatric medications should be vigilant at this time because Piscean eclipses are highly stimulating to the subconscious mind. Persons suffering from depressive disorders may notice the increasing pressure wave of these eclipses.”)

Hill’s range of interpretations is also noteworthy. A partial description of arenas that may experience “positive or negative waves” at a Virgo Eclipse for Aquarius and/or Aquarius Rising reads “health transformations and improvements, research and analysis, service to others in crises, accounting, financial details, sexual issues and practices, psychoanalysis and self-understanding, spiritual investigation, medicines, health renewals, liver and bowel purification, spouse’s income, health of others, public crises, practical sciences, animal and pet health, arcane research and metaphysical studies. This is a most important phase in an Aquarian’s personal eclipse cycle. It is often the time to dedicate yourself to spiritual, financial, and physical renewal. Correct your mistakes. Discipline, consistency, attention to detail and patience are now required of you.”

Judith Hill offers a great deal of useful information for practicing astrologers, as well as giving the more general reader an exceptionally helpful tour of “aligning with life’s hidden tides.” I think many of you would enjoy her book.


(1) Judith Hill, Eclipses and You: How to Align with Life’s Hidden Tides, Stellium Press, 2013. Available for $15.95 from:

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Maya Angelou

By Mary Plumb | June 9, 2014

My thanks to Frank Clifford for the idea for this week’s blog, and his permission to include his observations about Maya Angelou from his Horoscope Detective column (TMA Apr./May 2011). I will begin with a slightly edited excerpt from Frank’s article, add a few of my own notes, then link to some other writers on Miss Angelou’s horoscope. 

Frank Clifford: 
“Sun–Jupiter in Aries Personified

What of those born under the conjunction? In Aries, the Sun–Jupiter person may have a naïve, somewhat innocent take on the world — a blind faith and perhaps a passionate belief that their personal truth will be embraced by others. With this combination, there’s a generosity of spirit, an innate faith in life, an all-consuming hope that’s inhaled at the start of each new day, a fresh quality of exuberance, and a thirst for adventurous enterprise. One may have a strong sense of destiny, of being on a mission — taking up a quest — but sometimes an exaggerated sense of one’s importance (haughty arrogance), a need to play god or to overextend oneself and live life in the moment, though beyond one’s means. There may be high expectations and a desire to be seen as the front-runner, an urgent need to claim one’s birthright, and an eager pursuit of affluence and influence.

Acclaimed poet and activist Maya Angelou has a Grand Passion for life and is an inspirational example of embracing one’s potential, putting one’s heart into life. ‘Life loves the liver of it,’ she has often said. She has written of the triumphs, frustrations, hopes, and joys of the human experience in six volumes of autobiography. The theme of her work encapsulates the positive message of Sun–Jupiter in Aries: the refusal of the human spirit to be hardened. 

Chart Data:
Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928; 2:10 p.m. CST; Saint Louis, MO, USA (38°N38′, 90°W12′); AA: from birth certificate, as quoted in Contemporary American Horoscopes by Janice Mackey and Jessica Saunders (Astrolabe, 1990).

Maya Angelou, natal
The 1994 Current Biography Yearbook notes her ‘inexhaustible capacity for renewed hope, determination, and love.’ (1) Essentially, her philosophy is to engage in and experience life with courage. Angelou says, ‘You may encounter many defeats but must not be defeated.’ In true Aries style, she notes, ‘One must learn to care for oneself first, so that one can then dare to care for someone else.’ In May 2009, the Maya Angelou Academy opened at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center. The Academy is designed to help students fulfil their academic or career potential.

Dr. Angelou is a charismatic, 6-foot empress of African-American pride (whose father was ‘much too grand for his colour’). She stands tall as an imposing, positive embodiment of a Sun–Jupiter conjunction (ruling her Leo Ascendant and 5th house): a woman of honesty, integrity, and dignity, living a full life without false modesty or excuse. In her colourful life, she has journeyed from being the first female and first ‘negro’ trolley conductor in San Francisco to a dancer, actress, and nationally treasured symbol of hope, whose literature, poetry, and speeches touch that which is human and universal in all of us (Neptune rising). Her poem for President Clinton’s first inauguration, On the Pulse of Morning, was a soaring call for peace, justice, and harmony. Maya Angelou read this poem at the ceremony on January 20, 1993 (as transiting Jupiter in Libra opposed her Sun–Jupiter, and her progressed Jupiter–Ascendant Astro*Carto*Graphy line closed in on Washington, D.C.). She spoke of the conjunction’s philosophy of being present and vigilant in living life to the utmost: ‘Give birth again to the dream … lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings.’”

(1) Current Biography Yearbook, ed. Judith Graham, H. W. Wilson Co., 1994.

Mary Plumb:
Maya Angelou’s natal Sun is at 15° Aries and there are many connections to the current cardinal planet transits, which other bloggers below have noted. I looked at the solar return preceding death, set for her place of residence, Winston-Salem, NC. Her death was seven weeks after her birthday and she died at home. I am assuming she was there for her birthday, as reports said she had been ill for a while. (1)

solar return 2014

Saturn is ruler of the solar return 8th house (Aquarius cusp). On May 28, her death day, transiting Saturn was at 18°42’ Scorpio, conjunct the natal nadir, i.e., the end of the matter. (See natal chart above: the natal Midheaven is 17°39’ Taurus.) Jupiter, ruler of the natal 8th house (Pisces cusp), had come to the solar return Ascendant. 

I have an informal study going on regarding the natal Porphyry 8th-house cusp being activated at the time of death. I have seen that degree being triggered by an eclipse (both Full or New Moon, either directly or by square) prior to the death, or by a progressed or transiting planet coming to the cusp.

In this case, Angelou’s 2014 solar return Midheaven is 22°40’ Pisces, on the natal Porphyry 8th cusp.

Here’s something interesting also that is purely anecdotal, not the result of research: in Angelou’s secondary progressed chart, the (Porphyry) 8th-house cusp is 6°46’ Gemini. She passed away on the day of the New Moon at 7°21’ Gemini. (It is interesting also to see Jupiter, ruler of the natal 8th house, directly on the progressed Descendant.) Travel well, Maya Angelou.

progressed chart to death, May 28, 2014


Here are others’ thoughtful words.

Tara Green wrote Maya Angelou, tribute to her life, with lots of biographical notes and astrological details. Writing about the transits at her death: “The planet Uranus — higher consciousness — was exactly on her Sun, with Pluto squaring her Sun and Jupiter squaring it as well. Jupiter is of course exactly on her natal Pluto, taking her back home. Pluto in Capricorn is opposite her natal Pluto. Mars  is very close to her natal Moon in Libra, and Saturn is Retrograde as at her birth, exactly on her I.C., the roots, foundation, and ending-of-life point. Neptune, planet of spirituality, is close to a square to her North and South nodes, indicating a peaceful journey back to spirit and source from where Maya and all souls originate.“

Amy Eliott writes Maya Angelou: Voice of Power, Humanity, Grace at Planet Waves: “The Aries Sun, her chart ruler, is closely conjunct Jupiter, which powerfully brings to mind one description of her as a ‘professional hopemonger.’ The Sun is also very tightly square Pluto — to within about 1/6 degree — and along with Jupiter these form a t-square with her natal Moon in Libra. This appears to underscore the intensity, or ‘Sturm und Drang,’ as she once put it, with which her life was punctuated.”

Steve Kinsman writes A Brief Biography of Maya Angelou, plus her Horoscope. (This site also features some photos and video links.)
“There is a t-square between the opposition of the Sun-Jupiter conjunction to the Moon and their square to Pluto. (Sun-Pluto 180 degrees from the Moon; Sun-Jupiter and Moon all 90 degrees from Pluto). This t-square in cardinal signs is driven almost obsessively (Pluto) to make a profound (Pluto) difference within the world one inhabits……Finally, the Moon’s position is always notable in a horoscope, because it reveals the ‘reigning psychological need’ of the individual. It reveals what we need to feel like we belong. It is indispensable to our psychological well-being. For Maya Angelou, her reigning psychological need — with her Moon on the cusp of the third house of communication — has been to get her message out, through the form of writing. The extreme proliferation and volume of her writings is seen by the Moon’s strong square to Pluto.”

And this excerpt from Elisabeth Grace ( in her recap for Thursday, 5/29/2014: Curiouser and Curiouser. “Maya Angelou, the beloved author, poet, activist and Tony-nominated actress, passed away. On Facebook, one of the many heartfelt tributes I read included a friend’s reaction to hearing Miss Angelou speak:

‘This woman has access to the same words as everyone else. How is it she puts them together more beautifully than anyone, and with such ease?’ In awe of her power then. In awe now…

That powerful way with words is suggested, of course, by her horoscope. Immediately we see nebulous Neptune sitting right on top of a queenly Leo Ascendant — opposed by action hero Mars, suggesting a need to be seen as the charismatic projection of a sublime, lyrical, soulful ideal. Alternatively, this pattern could have been expressed as a bewildering or suppressed sense of personal identity — at least in the early home life. The suggestion of suppression (a ‘caged bird’) is echoed by potent Pluto challenging her Sun in warrior Aries. A need for poetic social expression and thinking (a caged bird that sings!) is suggested by an idealistic connection between Mercury and Venus in Pisces. Also of interest: rebel Uranus running wild — and rising ahead of the Aries Sun — suggesting a need for uncompromising freedom and unconventionality — especially in her vocation. Miss Angelou managed the potential of Neptune well and became an inspiration. Her last Tweet: ‘Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.’ RIP.”

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Venus and Mars are alright tonight

By Mary Plumb | May 5, 2014

On May 11 Venus and Mars will be in opposition at 9°30’ Aries/ Libra. If the skies are clear, both will be visible — Venus, the morning star in the east rising ahead of the Sun, and Mars visible all night.

Venus and Mars are conjunct about every two years. The most recent conjunction, on April 6, 2013, was at 19°57’ Aries. Venus always travels close to the Sun and Mars is always direct at his conjunction with Venus.

But, Mars is always retrograde (or near his station) at his opposition to Venus. (Again, just visualize that Venus is always near the Sun while Mars goes retrograde when nearing opposition to the Sun.)

We know that Mars is completing his retrograde phase on May 19 at 9° Libra. A planet moves slowly at its station and the degree has staying power. Mars is at 9° Libra from May 7 to June 1: Take note as upcoming transits visit that degree.

At the opposition, planets are 180° apart, as far apart as they can be; their contours, functions, qualities, assets, and essence are directly recognizing and mirroring each other.

Although the 180° aspect highlights polarity and the outer world is enticing or demanding, or certainly interesting, polarities exist within our own natures as well. In many traditions, the awareness of opposites is a powerful portal for growth.

This Venus-Mars opposition is especially curious since the planets are in one another’s signs — Venus in Mars-ruled Aries and Mars in Venus-ruled Libra.

In a well-known mythological tale of Venus and Mars, Venus, although married to Vulcan, is enamored with Mars. Vulcan, the god of blacksmiths in Roman lore (his Greek counterpart is Hephaestus), manipulates fire and forges metal. He makes an invisible net to catch the lovers; in some renderings, this is for the amusement of the gods.

Another layer of interpretation, preferred by the alchemist Paracelsus and his followers, describes the net as being of a particular substance that was thought to be an important step in the path of the Great Work. They spoke of the melding of opposites as an important process in one’s inner life.

Iron (Mars) and Copper (Venus) are known as the King and Queen of the metals. Copper is eager to combine with other metals, while Iron is hard, rigid, and capable of great resistance. “On average, women have about 20% higher copper serum than men and for iron it is the other way round, with men having a one-third higher iron level than women in their blood.” (1)

“Iron, or Mars, is the minor malefic, furnishing man with energy, courage, resistance, aggressiveness, and forcefulness. …But iron has the distinction of itself, either permanently or temporarily, becoming magnetic. It thus exhibits an independence and force not possessed by other metals.” (2)

“Copper is a metal of reddish color — soft, pliable, yielding, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is an even better conductor of electric force than iron, but is incapable of retaining that force and itself becoming energetic. Iron is a harsh, forceful metal, but copper is mild and gentle….It is truly the metal of union, for it is always more contented when alloyed with another. It thus entirely lacks that independence of character that distinguishes iron, and must ever have a stronger companion upon which to lean.” (3)

Copper, like Venus, has the power of attraction; it combines with other elements to form alloys and transforms other substances into complex salts; because of this versatility in transforming and combining, “the alchemists called copper meretrix metallorum, the harlot of the metals.” (4)

The opposition is a moment of perfect equipoise. If we attend to it, we may be gifted with maximum awareness of the energy at hand. With Venus and Mars surrounding the earth on either side, the opposition can be a time of enormous self-awareness, observation and balance. We know from the law of correspondences that a seemingly simple adjustment (i.e., do I need a little more – or less – chocolate or berries – Venus? or garlic or ginger – Mars?) can impact the intricate and subtle functions of the endocrine glands and their hormones.

Here is an essay by homeopath Peter Morrell on The Healing Power of Metals. It introduces the qualities of the metals with simple suggestions on how to notice their harmony or imbalance in our own bodies and psyches. Remember, both Venus and Mars are needed; they work together, always uniquely calibrated for maximum accomplishment.

(1) Quote from an extract from Nick Kollerstrom’s book, The Metal-Planet Relationship. Skyscript
(2) Brotherhood of Light
(3) ibid.
(4) Borderland Research
Quote from: The Secrets of Metals, Wilhelm Pelikan, Anthroposophic Press, N.Y., 1973.

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Sun-Mars opposition on Tuesday

By Mary Plumb | April 7, 2014

I’m sitting in longed-for sunshine on Sunday afternoon. I know the weather has been rough and it has been a long, long winter in many parts of the country; I hope that many of you are beginning to feel a kinder spring.

Using that word “kinder” is probably an antidote to my current thoughts, which have been moving today towards Mars as a key point for this week’s blog.

The Mars-Sun opposition, the midway point in its synodic cycle, is on Tuesday with the Sun at 18°56’ Aries and Mars retrograde at 18°56’ Libra. The synodic cycle of Mars and the Sun is the period between two consecutive conjunctions of these planets. (1) The cycle begins at the superior conjunction when Mars is in direct motion and conjunct the Sun. The cycle reaches the halfway point at the opposition between the Sun and retrograde Mars. The current cycle began on April 17, 2013 at 28°08’ Aries. (2)

Mars is tangling mightily with the other planets in the cardinal cross and is now is carrying his spurs and sharp knife point right out into the open, visible to all, just as his opposition to the Sun is his greatest visibility in the sky. (3)

It is easy to see the mess out there, not to mention how badly everyone is behaving, but what about the mess in here?

This is a perfect and precise moment to have a face-to-face encounter with whatever is bothering or irritating us, (or more strongly, with whatever feels threatening, frightening or challenging).

Sometimes just noticing what is irritating us can bring a slight adjustment and Mars’s potential for trouble or rage is diffused before we become frantic (Uranus), or caught in a cycle of obsession (Pluto) or grandiosity (Jupiter) in these next weeks as the infamous cardinal cross lights up our world.

At the opposition, maybe we can turn towards what is difficult or painful and carry on with a revelation that will assist as we go forward. We can take this as a shock point in self-awareness — and invite whatever is obstructing our well being to come into view.

Meditators, energy workers, martial artists and yogis have a direct channel for using this currently deeply impassioned Mars constructively. Uranus at best gives a breath of view, someone mentioned to me today that they try to “rise above” the current difficulties, which may be Uranus speaking. That strategy may work for some and at some moments, but in the circles I travel in the notion of “dropping down” or “waking down” into difficulties has taken hold. This is more the realm of the messy, lower chakra, Pluto stuff, wherein we stumble in an eternal moment of obsession or we are coerced by the grip of a demon from the deepest dark.

Mars is fierce, but in Libra can also be more subtle, skillful and nuanced than usual.

Some days it seems we need all the skills and tools and remedies we know of to manage the intensity of the energy that is building, and releasing and building again. The cardinal emphasis brings ongoing choice points to step into the current moment. No time to look back, what is important is what we do now.


(1) The synodic cycle with Mars is not totally consistent, but somewhere around 25-26 months. The actual length will be between 762 – 819 days, with an average length of 779 days. (As noted in Astrology, A Language of Life, Vol. V: Holographic Transits, by Robert P. Blaschke, Earthwalk School of Astrology, 2006.)

(2) I wrote several blogs about that conjunction: Meeting Mars: Inside and Out and Sun-Mars, Part Two.
From the April 22, 2013 blog: “The marathon bombing was on Monday the 15th and, like some of us, I was riveted to the news.
Although that horror dominated the headlines, on April 16, the Constitution Project, a nonpartisan legal research and advocacy group, issued a report that concluded: “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” in the years after 9/11.
On Wednesday the 17th, the explosion at the fertilizer plant, in West, Texas, killed at least 14 people.”

(3) Bonus feature: the skies were clear and I got up early (5 a.m. PT) this morning to see Mars in his glory. Spica was there too, to the left and below Mars, both in the constellation of Virgo as she lays close to the horizon in the west. A few moments later, Venus appeared between the rooftops as she rose in the east. Now, that’s a nice way to start the day — I hope you get a chance to see the planets in the morning sky too.

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January 11th’s Venus/Sun Conjunction

By Kate Plumb | January 13, 2014

Saturday morning marked the midway point of the Venus retrograde cycle, when Venus conjoined the Sun. She has left the evening sky, setting after the Sun, where she was so beautifully bright. Venus moved closer to the Sun until the morning of the 11th, when they conjoined at 21° Capricorn. We will not see her again until Venus rises ahead of the Sun in the morning sky next month. Venus has gone retrograde or “underground.”

What does a retrograde cycle, or “going underground,” mean? For a period of time a planet is turning away from its regular path around the Sun and into a different mode of operation. This celestial occurrence coincides with a time when a reflective person has an opportunity to consider what has been assumed, and orient himself/herself away from the past, or what is expected, toward a more personal and unique approach to whatever that planet signifies.

Since it is Venus that is retrograde, we are reformulating our values, our desires, our feelings, what we are attracting to ourselves, what satisfies us, our relationship to money, our relationship to others, our motives, what we want from love, the price we pay, our relationship to our women friends, our ability to weigh, compare, and balance, how we look, how we get the “sweetness” of life, how loving we are, and the value we place on love. 

Venus’s retrograde began on December 21st at 28°58’Capricorn, the beginning of this time of questioning. Some of the above mentioned aspects of life might not feel as effective or personally satisfying as in the past. We might be undermining ourselves (or another), or under or overvaluing ourselves (or another) or some material item. The retrograde cycle demands we turn inward, reflect, and ask, “Why did I do that?” or “How did I get myself into this situation?” “Is this what I want?”

The reevaluation process might have been occurring in our unconscious, without our being aware of it. The conjunction of Venus and the Sun marks the moment when we become acutely aware that something has been unsatisfying in our emotional life. The Sun represents our self, our life purpose, our intention, and the direction of our life. When Venus meets the Sun, our purpose (Sun) shines through Venus (love, money, values), and through that connection only what is truly authentic to us can survive. If what we have been feeling/loving/valuing is not truly an expression of our innermost selves, it will be noticed by the Sun, giving us an opportunity to reevaluate.

Using whole sign houses, this conjunction occurs for everyone in the house with Capricorn on the cusp. Those people with planets or angles at 21° Capricorn (or 21° Cancer, Libra, and Aries) may be especially impacted. This time period will also be important for those with Venus as chart ruler, i.e., those with Libra or Taurus rising. 

We have from now until January 31st to integrate this new understanding. Venus will then move forward in direction, staying in Capricorn all through February until March 6th, when she will enter Aquarius and move into new territory. During this time period, we can deepen our commitment to whatever we hold dear and precious. It is the beginning of a new round of experience in our love life and the values we live by. The next Venus/Sun retrograde conjunction will occur on August 15, 2015, this time in Leo, offering our next opportunity to reorient ourselves in our feeling life away from the usual and toward what is more unique to us. Here are three stories — one historical example, one current event, and one personal experience — to illustrate the Venus retrograde principle.

Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755, with Venus retrograde conjunct the Sun. Venus is the ruler of his Taurus rising chart. (1) Hamilton’s life contained every conceivable aberration in the areas of love and money that could possibly be imagined. From his obscure and impoverished childhood (born out of wedlock and orphaned), through the rest of the many facets of his life — from working as a clerk at age 11 for the outpost of a New York trading company in St.Croix, where he reconciled currencies from all over the world, to the pinnacle of his career with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and becoming Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury — he encapsulated a Venus retrograde phenomena. 

Hamilton envisioned, and through sheer persuasion, founded the modern nation state with its emphasis on a strong financial footing, a budget, a funded debt, a tax system, a central bank, a customs service, and the beginnings of a stock market and speculation. He understood the value of funded debt, that is, in order for this new country to be deemed viable in the world’s eyes, the U.S. had to borrow and pay back money with interest. He went against the norms of the time; before his efforts, the Continental Army had been severely undersupplied with food, clothes, shoes, and ammunition because Congress had no authority to collect taxes to pay for supplies.

This man who was responsible for the founding of a modern, functioning nation also left his widow impoverished at his death. Gouverneur Morris, a U.S. Founding Father and its first millionaire, organized a secret subscription service among Hamilton’s friends to provide for his widow and children.

Another example of the aberrations and unusual circumstances encountered by a natal Venus retrograde person is the fact that the married Hamilton — his wife was from a prominent New York family — had an affair and, rather than keeping quiet about it, published a 90-page pamphlet explaining and defending himself.

The second example of a Venus retrograde story is the case of Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, which appeared on the front page of the New York Times on January 11th. Arrested on December 12th for visa fraud and for making false statements about her treatment of her domestic worker, she was also apparently strip-searched. The diplomatic crisis between the world’s two major democracies highlighted the cultural discrepancies between the two countries. As was written in the Times: “While Americans reflexively came to the defense of a maid who the authorities said was subjected to abuse, Indians reflexively sympathized with the diplomat.” A cultural abyss opened up between the U.S. and India — a clash of values (Venus). The diplomat was expelled from this country while her husband and two young daughters, all U.S. citizens, remained in New York. Khobragade, like Venus, is now alone on an inward journey, in retreat, because of cultural differences in value systems.

The third example is my personal story. Having just had my birthday on December 23rd, I have Venus retrograde in my Solar Return chart for the year; in fact, it is on the Ascendant. I expect to have experiences this year that will help me clarify what is important to me. Working on a friendship with my ex-partner, whom I had not communicated with (except through lawyers) for eight years, I feel there is still some chemistry between us. But instead of being the aggressor and going after what I want (how the relationship began 40 years ago), I am taking a different tack. I am exploring my more feminine side (Venus), being more the seductress than the seducer (Mars). We will see how it turns out. I feel the change inside me: valuing myself more and not being so needy for an external fulfillment.

In summary, the Venus retrograde cycle gives us a span of time where some fundamental change in our feelings and values can occur. Whether conscious or unconscious, Venus’s retrograde cycle takes us on an inward journey where what we like and dislike, what we attract or push away, can be more clearly defined. Retrograde cycles are very special but the outcomes might not be evident right away. I suggest waiting until March 6th, when Venus leaves Capricorn, before making any definitive pronouncements on the matter.

(1) This birth time for Hamilton is rectified using medieval techniques by Regulus Astrology. Alexander Hamilton; January 11, 1755 NS; 1:23:37 p.m.; Charlestown, St. Kitts-Nevis. (17N08 062W37).
Regulus Astrology

Bio: Kate Plumb is an NCGR, Level IV astrologer. She is on Facebook and is available for astrological consultations. Please visit her at Kate Plumb Astrology, email;or phone (631)725-9133 if you are interested in making an appointment.

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The 2014 Conjunction of the Sun and Venus in Capricorn

By Gary P. Caton | January 6, 2014

“Chronos is time at her worst. …Chronos is the world’s time.
Kairos is time at her best. …Kairos is Spirit’s time.
We exist in Chronos. We long for Kairos. That’s our duality.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach (1)

In the course of the 19-month visual (or synodic) cycle of Venus with the Sun, Venus makes two conjunctions with the Sun. The conjunction of Venus with the Sun while Venus is in retrograde motion is known as the interior, or inferior, conjunction, as Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. The conjunction of Venus with the Sun while Venus is in direct motion is known as the exterior, or superior, conjunction, as Venus passes on the other side of the Sun from the Earth. These two conjunctions happen about nine-and-a-half months apart.

The charts for these conjunctions are quite revealing when applied to a personal horoscope. The natal sign and house where any transit Sun-Venus conjunction occurs is often a clear focus of Venusian activity for the subsequent nine months. I have also found that when a transit Sun-Venus conjunction conjoins a natal planet, the nature of the person’s experience of that planet undergoes a profound shift. Finally, I’ve noticed that it is valuable to look at the whole chart of the conjunction to discern the contributions from the rest of the planetary pantheon on the conjunction itself.

Rather than a fleeting transit of a day or two in duration, when viewed through a synodic lens the influence of this Sun-Venus conjunction can be seen to last for nine months, until the next conjunction of the Sun and Venus. In this way, the Sun-Venus conjunction chart also functions as a mundane forecasting tool. For instance, in my blog for TMA last April, I diagnosed the chart of the Sun-Venus-Uranus conjunction in Aries to be largely about polarity, showing the need for “devils to tear down the ivory tower of Plutocracy, but also to rebuild a new world.” I also pointed out that the two yods in the chart for the conjunction were the most significant features. (2) A few months later, along comes Edward Snowden, a young man to whom these “fingers of God” were clearly pointing, with their apex points being conjunct his Ascendant and Moon.

So what do the next nine months have in store for us, in terms of the awareness (Sun) of Venusian qualities, like our ethics, aesthetics, and social ties? Or, as Alexander Ruperti wrote, what does this chart tell us about the necessary examination of “the cost of ones desires and all previously assumed values” that it portends? (3) Here is the chart of the Sun-Venus conjunction of January 11, 2014 (drawn below for the U.S. capital).

With the Sun-Venus conjunction rising over Washington D.C., I believe this indicates that our nation needs to do the soul searching and self-examination that Ruperti tells us is the real gift of this alignment. This is not a big surprise, given the shock waves of the massive spying efforts that were revealed under the previous conjunction. Still, it is a hopeful sign that the evaluation of “the cost of ones desires and all previously assumed values” may actually happen.

What will this examination/evaluation look like? The other notable aspects in this chart are a very close sextile of an 11th-house Saturn to Sun-Venus-ASC and a very close square of Vesta in the 10th to Sun-Venus-ASC. Let’s take a look at these separately and then see what they may mean together.

In a mundane chart, the 11th house is primarily about Congress and legislation. By extension, it also represents friends of the nation, i.e., other nations with which Congress forms treaties. Deborah Houlding says that Saturn in a mundane chart represents “public sorrow and disappointment.” (4) Again, there are no surprises here, as Congressional approval has recently hit all-time lows, plummeting into the single digits. (5) However, Saturn is also traditionally associated with elders and authority figures, so Saturn in the 11th could signify congressional leaders and/or the leaders of foreign countries whom we consider our allies. Being a sextile, this could suggest that pressure (Saturn) from Congress and/or foreign dignitaries (11th) could be helpful in producing tangible action and results.

Saturn in the 11th sextile the Ascendant could also signify historic legislation. On my public Facebook page for my Goddess Astrology podcast, I recently mentioned that Venus stationed retrograde on the day of the winter solstice. (6) The last time Venus did this was in 1762. The following year saw the Treaty of Paris, signed on February 10, 1763, just after Venus stationed direct on February 1. This was a major international treaty that not only ended the French and Indian/Seven Years War but saw France cede Canada (New France) to Great Britain. Possible correlates in the current Gestalt are the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as perhaps a ground-breaking treaty putting limits on new technologies, such as drones, spying, and data-mining.

In this chart Saturn is actually the helpful news, with the challenge being the square to Saturn from Vesta, Goddess of the sacred flame. Vesta represents the principles of focus and sacred-making. In the Thema Mundi, the square is given the nature of Mars, that is to say, separative or “dry,” in the Aristotelian sense of the word. (7) So, the square from Vesta represents a challenge to separate the wheat from the chaff and bring into focus that which really matters, that which is essential to life. Remember, the shelf life of this chart is only nine months, and only so much can be accomplished in that time. What is most important? Will we deal with the real issues and make them a priority or continue to be distracted by the “sacred cows” of various minority groups?

On a personal level, I think the challenge this conjunction brings for each of us over the next nine months is to find a way to experience Sacred (Vesta) Time (Saturn). Kairos is the Greek word for the concept of sacred time. While Chronos is quantitative, the sense of how much time we have, Kairos is qualitative, the sense of a sacred or special experience of time. Simply put, Kairos is quality time. So this chart begs each of us to examine the question: when, how, where, and how much are we “doing time” in our lives versus experiencing quality time? If there is an imbalance, it is our responsibility to reduce the excessive and increase the deficient. If we can first hold the tension of these opposites without being reactive, we can gradually bring them together over the next nine months. Like the master in Verse 77 of the Tao, we can thus “string the bow of our lives.” (8) By bringing our lives into accord with the Way of Heaven, we can make them capable of great things.

This may sound very idealistic, but a big part of my practice involves providing people with the practical tools to manifest the ideal into reality. One of these tools is the free Goddess Astrology Podcast. (9) On the next show, I’ll be talking quite a bit more about this Sun-Venus conjunction chart from a personal standpoint. Judging from the reviews on iTunes, many people find it quite helpful. TMA readers are invited to tune in for free! Also, I provide my subscribers with many more tools, including monthly special reports and extended podcasts on the progress of the Venus cycle via the lunar conjunctions. These reports provide astronomical, mythological, and sociological metaphors with which to understand the current alignments, as well as journaling questions designed to provoke insight into how the processes are manifesting in your life. (10) No matter how one may decide to personally engage with it, my experience has shown me that many people find great value in, and transformative experience through, following the Sun-Venus cycle. May the next nine months provide the sincere seeker with the experience of Kairos and all the quality time they deserve!

(1) Goodreads

(2) The Conjunction of the Sun, Venus and Uranus in Aries

(3) Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS, Vancouver, WA. Re-published in 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA

(4) Skyscript

(5) Gallup

(6) Goddess Astrology

(7) Wikipedia


(9) listen via iTunes Goddess Astrology

(10) Interested readers can check out all the reports and podcasts for the previous nine-month cycle at the link below to see if a subscription may be of interest. Venus Aries ES 2013

Recommended Reading:

Robert P. Blaschke, Astrology: A Language of Life: Volume 5 – Holographic Transits, EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA, 2006.

Arielle Guttman, Venus Star Rising: A New Cosmology for the 21st Century, Sophia Venus Productions, Sante Fe, NM, 2010.

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 24 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to practicing Astrology over 20 years. Visit Gary at his website Dream Astrologer

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January 1, 2014

By Mary Plumb | December 30, 2013

Sometimes, I become very aware of the complexity and subtlety in the ways we astrologers inhabit this world. This can happen when a non-astrologer friend makes a comment or asks a simple question that somehow requires an intricate response — or, at least, evokes in me a chain of thinking about how to begin to talk about the way I see the planets’ movements and geometries at any particular moment or about any particular subject.

There is, of course, immense variability in how astrologers practice: the methods and techniques we use, the personal philosophies and beliefs that inform our approach, and how we apply our art — that is, to what end are we working? But essentially, we astrologers are living in a shared world of watching and listening to the motions in the celestial sphere, in that charming and olden-times phrase, the vault of the heavens. We know that something is being conveyed or signified by the motions of the planets.

So, we have embarked on this glorious and timeless journey of uncovering meaning (and inspiration, poetry, fascination, justification, explanation, beauty, distraction, amusement, understanding, solace, etc.) as a guide to our days.

The calendar year 2014 begins with a New Moon on January 1. It’s not often that the calendar year starts precisely with a New Moon — a celestial omen for the reunion of body and soul, mind and matter, will and desire. The Roman deity Janus, the god of thresholds, passages, and doorways, gives his name to the month. This year, his look ahead on January 1 carries the richness of a New Moon potentized by Pluto’s lumbering walk in the hidden darkness and Uranus’s magnificent and immediate grasp of the greatest possible view, with Mars striking at both. (Pluto conjoins the Sun and Moon; Uranus and Mars are opposite one another, and both square the Sun and Moon.)

Saturn in Scorpio and Jupiter in Cancer are holding a trine (which was exact in July and December 2013, and will be again in May 2014) in the water element. Our inner resources, our intimacy with self and others, and our faith in the flow of life itself provide a gentle container these days. The emotional bonds of personal connections are perhaps most obvious in households that are welcoming new babies now, or those guiding family members at the end of their life, but we are all moving along in the cycles of birth and death.

There are countless potentials for how we will individually experience the turning of the year. One clue is to be proactive: You can look at Capricorn in your natal chart and infuse that area of your life with a fierce invitation, a tender willingness, and a resounding openness to be changed by the events on the horizon.

What a time we are privileged to be alive in!

Much love and respect to all my astrology friends, near and far, known and unknown, for being my dear and hearty companions on the way.

Happy New Year!

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ISON…once more

By Mary Plumb | December 2, 2013

Melanie Reinhart’s Comet ISON blog from last week generated a record response: 198 “likes” and 91 “shares” on TMA’s Facebook page.

Please do read her beautiful analysis if you missed it last week.

It’s not just astrologers who have been fascinated. Astronomers have been watching ISON since its discovery in September 2012 and “knew they had a special opportunity to watch a pristine comet come in from the very edge of the solar system and make its first (and apparently only) swing around the sun.“ (1)

Referring to ISON’s unusual trajectory since its discovery, and especially its startling appearance close to the Sun (i.e., perihelion) on November 28, Karl Battams of CIOC (NASA Comet Observing Campaign) wrote: “We’ve had a crazy year, an even crazier past few months, and a truly insane couple of days. But everything we get out of this will make it more than worth it, and for me it’s just a privilege to have played a part in this unprecedented and extraordinary event.” (2)

(Here’s an awesome video of ISON’s perihelion. Remember, aside from its current trivialized usage, the word “awesome” is connected to a capacity to feel awe. “Genuine awe is when something is beyond our capacity to rationalize it; it is incredible and we only experience it at the level of our soul.”) (3)

And here is Melanie’s graphic from last week for November 28.
ISON perihelion

As Melanie noted, the mystic Rudolf Steiner wrote provocatively about comets. One of his ideas is that comets all have a specific purpose and arrive in our solar system at the cosmically ordained time. (4) Many are millions of years old; they travel into the inner solar system from the Oort cloud, or, as recently discovered, from the asteroid belt. (5)

Steiner sometimes referred to comets as connected to the astral body, i.e., a subtle realm connected in many energy systems to the emotional body.

This view of comets coming into our solar system and collecting astral/emotional debris has long appealed to me. (With natal Sun, Moon, and Ascendant in water signs, I seem to cling to emotional debris.)

In the spirit of recording immediate impressions of such a magnificent and mysterious celestial omen, I have a few personal stories.

On November 25, I caught a glimpse of someone with whom I have a rich (and incomplete) emotional history, someone that I hadn’t spoken to (or even seen) in several years. I asked for a meeting, which was a surprise; he said I was very brave (I was). The conversation played out over the evening and was so, so helpful — soothing, forgiving, honest. I left feeling so refreshed, as if a stubborn scar had been truly, surprisingly, magically transformed.

On Thanksgiving Day, I had dinner with a few family members, with whom there had also been awkwardness and unspoken regret and recrimination strongly in the air in the past years. We spent three days together and it was also an amazingly comfortable and easeful time. At first, I was thinking rather ordinarily that time really does heal wounds, and I did notice planetary symbolism that spoke to the happiness and graciousness we all felt. (6)

But then I remembered the comet! And had a whole new view of how this happened — the collecting of emotional residue and clearing the energy felt absolutely true. I also believe in the possibility that our simple actions and experiences can be magnified and offered for the good of the whole. Hail ISON!

I spoke with my sister Kate, an astrologer in New York (I’m in Oregon). She had a similar experience on Thanksgiving Day. She spent part of the day with long known friends, connections that had also previously been colored by the hint of remorse that also disappeared; the emotional air was cleared and fresh and new for them as well.  (See Footnote for another astrological detail.) (7)

As Melanie Reinhart wrote last week: “If we can allow our imaginations to sense and feel the meaning of the images suggested here, we participate in a deeply personal way with these energies. ‘Our’ meaning is unique to ‘our’ journey, and we do not need to impress it on anyone else, as it is not ‘the ultimate truth.’ The experience of meaning is sufficient unto itself.”

We’d love to hear your ISON stories.


(1) NBC News

(2) ISON Campaign

(3) The Path of Awe

(4) “Slightly later, on 18 April 1910, Steiner discussed these points again, more briefly and from a slightly different angle: ‘Just as the movements of the planets circling the sun correspond to the regular events in the evolution of humanity, so the appearance of a comet corresponds to an influence that runs counter to the regular events. Rosicrucian research has demonstrated that every comet exerts a particular influence on human evolution.’”
RS Archive

(5) From an article dated August 2, 2013: “PARIS: Astronomers on Friday said a vast cemetery of comets lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, some revived by a nudge from the Sun after millions of years of dormancy, a finding that would overturn conventional thinking about these wanderers of the Solar System.
‘We found a graveyard of comets,’ said Ignacio Ferrín of the University of Anitoquia in Medellin, Colombia. ‘Imagine all these asteroids going around the Sun for aeons, with no hint of activity. We have found that some of these are not dead rocks after all, but are dormant comets that may yet come back to life if the energy that they receive from the Sun increases by a few percent.’ ”
Science Tech Daily

(6) As for the day itself, you may remember that Jupiter in Cancer, dispositor of the Sun in Sagittarius was opposite Venus in Capricorn that day (of ISON’s perihelion).

As for the personal charts: I have late Scorpio ascending; the visiting son has early Scorpio ascending. His progressed Ascendant has come to the degree of my natal Ascendant. His progressed MC degree has also come to my natal MC degree. His father (my former husband) has Taurus Ascending natally; progressed Venus has come to 6° Virgo, my natal and our son’s progressed MC. (Progressions move slowly and, when precise, have a significant impact.)

(7) Interestingly, in this case, her friend’s progressed Venus has also arrived at her natal Ascendant degree — a story, as in my case, of progressed planets in one chart coming to a natal angle in the other’s chart.

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