TMA This Week

Saturn, Venus and The Dragon’s Head

By Melanie Reinhart | September 23, 2013

A warm hello to TMA readers, and grateful thanks to Mary Plumb for offering me the opportunity to write a piece for this blog …

Currently, there is a triple conjunction of Saturn, Venus, and the North Node in Scorpio, and as you may already be aware, relationship themes are in the astrological view-finder! (Saturn-Node is exact on September 25, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. GMT, in 9°25′ Scorpio.) This is my cue to mention that Mary and I have been friends and “fellow travellers” for more than 20 years — a lovely metalogue of Saturn-Node-Venus, which amply signifies deep, long-term soul-connections between people. Thank you, Mary.

“Metalogue” is one of my favourite words. It means “that which we are speaking about is also arising.” (1) In astrology, we also do the reverse – we speak about that which is arising. Although astrology may reveal striking answers to our questions about life, I like to think that the Universe is also asking questions of us! Not requiring “correct answers,”  but open-ended and exploratory questions which invite personal enquiry into the nature of experience. So, taking this approach, I begin to muse on some of this week’s “presenting questions”.

Firstly, an equinoctial pause in honour of the Libra Equinox yesterday (September 22, 2013; 20:44 GMT). Equinoxes occur twice annually when the tilt of the Earth towards the Sun levels up to vertical and begins to shift the other way. These are good times to let go of the pressure to “make decisions” and attune to the feeling of pause, hiatus, and space, while we ourselves are perhaps being re-balanced. Click here for a truly extraordinary video — BALANCE as you’ve never seen it! The link was sent yesterday by a friend with Jupiter in Libra. Another metalogue!

Venus: Of Love and Loss

The Venus-Saturn combination sometimes gets bad press, so let’s “unpack it” a little. Venus is the “goddess of Love,” a general significator of “relationships” in the horoscope, and shows what or who we value or attract, or attracts us. Aphrodite’s son by Ares (a Mars figure!) was Eros, whose name has become synonymous with desire, the active aspect of astrological Venus. Perhaps this Saturn-Venus conjunction (exact last week, on September 19 at 20:53 GMT) has already reminded us how, where, and when the pathway of certain desires may have been “limited” (Saturn), putting fulfilment out of reach to help us find Love and Value inside ourselves (Venus). Saturn-Venus transits may also help us unhook from addictive or co-dependent patterns in relationships, or enable us to see that the arc of a relationship is indeed over. Saturn invites us to mature in the area of life it touches, so this combination lends us the “substance” (Saturn) to deepen existing relationships (Venus) or to invite further commitment (Saturn). Indeed, Saturn-Venus aspects are often seen in the astrology around significant meetings and marriages.

Venus describes the process of learning about loving … what happens when the honeymoon is over and we need to process irritation, disappointment, and a range of other feelings which bring romance down to earth, sometimes with a resounding c-r-a-s-h!! Unfortunately, our education does not equip us very well for these rites of passage. So it becomes Saturn’s job, congruent with his exaltation in Libra, ruled by Venus. We must find our own way — another time-honoured Saturn theme!

As the goddess of ”love, harmony, and beauty,” Venus also presides over how we react when we lose the things and people which reflect these precious, valuable qualities. What are our own “default defences” against the painful feelings around this kind of loss? Do we immediately move on, defiantly deciding to “go elsewhere” (Venus in Sagittarius)? Do we lose confidence (Venus in Capricorn)? Become vulnerable and clingy (Venus in Cancer)? Buy something we can’t really afford (Venus in Leo)? And what might Venus-Saturn in Scorpio be asking, or drawing our attention to? Unprocessed hurts? Incomplete mourning? Rage, resentment? Appreciation of those who’ve stood by us in hard times?

Most importantly, Venus is about how we relate to ourselves, and concerns the inner, personal quality of VALUE, and the “values” and priorities that flow from this essential feeling. Externally, Venus refers to our “valuables,” what (or who) we have “invested” in, and what “returns” we hope for.

Can you “locate” and feel the quality of Value inside yourself? Just as it is? Or does it depend on someone or something? Like getting approval? Like being wealthy, or being considered beautiful? To me, the symbol of Venus is a hand-mirror inviting us to truly see the “face” of our own soul, as a reflection of the preciousness of existence. Is it really possible to love what we do not value? Perhaps the lack of this feeling leads us to try and import Value through getting, having, and owning “stuff,” including other people?

Scorpio: Warrior of the Depths

In case you hadn’t noticed, the paragraphs above are somewhat Scorpionic in approach! This sign invites us to journey into the depths of our own experience, thus rendering it more transparent to consciousness. Although we may meet our “dragons” along the way, we faithfully pursue the truth of our personal existence, and beyond. The goal is transcendence, but the path may take us through realms of great density, emotionally and mentally. Scorpio is a fixed water sign, and “holds” areas of feeling yet to be processed and released, and which therefore call us back to attend to them. The Scorpio way is not to “skip over” these things, but to go down with them into the dark places of soul and to later emerge transformed.

Saturn: Time, Heritage, and Substance

As “Lord of Boundaries and Limits,” Saturn may bring the challenge of passing through the portal presided over by “The Guardian of the Threshold.” This figure traditionally represents an accumulation of unconscious fears, forebodings, toxic emotions, and negative judgements of ourselves and others, arising with such intensity that the only way through is a radical shift of consciousness. Saturn’s process reveals the root cause of suffering: the thoughts we are “possessed” by, and the flack that results from believing and acting upon them. When we truly see this “dragon,” the “Guardian of the Threshold,” we are allowed to pass.

Indeed, the “Guardian” may be revealed as the “Wise Old Man or Woman” in disguise. Here, I think of Jupiter, Saturn, and Chiron communing in their ongoing watery trine, a prominent theme of the year — read Mary’s July 28 blog. Faith and feeling rule the day, as we see that deep inner work proceeds on a “need to know” basis. We can rest assured that we do not have to “understand everything” in order to allow healing or awakening.

The Nodal Axis: Interweaving the Opposites

The transiting Nodal Axis, or “Axis of Destiny,” locates where eclipses occur. Each “eclipse season” contains at least two eclipses, one Solar and one Lunar, at the New and Full Moons, respectively. The “season” starts about a week before the first eclipse, ending about a week after the last one, offering twice each year an auspicious time for quiet reflection, a time to withdraw like the light of the Sun or Moon “withdraws.” Karmic issues are magnified, as are the benefits of meditation and inner work. In psychological terms, our contact with the unconscious is heightened, and we benefit from being willing to meet whatever arises with compassion and in a spirit of enquiry. Startling insights may come, freeing us from entanglements that have finally run their karmic course.

Eclipses do indeed bring endings, which range from subtle to really obvious. If we approach their seasons with a willingness to do whatever it takes to help us accept and let go, the strength of renewal that follows can be profound. Contracting our sphere of activity and emotional involvement with others can be useful at these times. The next eclipse season is coming up soon, lasting from about October 11th until November 10th, and the current Saturn-Venus-Node interactions lead into it.

The current Saturn-Node conjunction may reveal “forces of destiny” strongly at work. Pay attention to synchronicity, watch your dreams, let yourself be guided, and commit to take action where it is indicated. Things take shape and form where Saturn is involved, and we are invited to “make real” that which “matters” to us, moving from the realm of theory into the world of practicalities, shape, and form. In other words, to “walk our talk”! Check out the date list below and see what Saturn-Node brought into your life during its previous conjunctions.  What entered to shape your destiny? And now? What is ‘showing the way’ or asking to be given form?

Venus-Saturn-Node: Receiving the Energy

With this triple conjunction as a curtain-raiser for the forthcoming eclipse season, contemplate, expect, or perhaps even cultivate some of the following:

Insight about relationships, past and present (and perhaps future?)
Rich, deep feelings, passion and desire. Develop the capacity to “hold” and savour these experiences, rather than suppressing them or being at their mercy.
Deep letting go — “something” is ending
Tender melancholy, joyful solemnity
Quiet, internal rejuvenation
Recognition and release of negative judgements about self and others
Meetings with people significant to your destiny, “fellow-travellers”
Moving beyond mourning into appreciation of those who are no longer part of your physical life, due to death or separation
Appreciation of long-term connections with people who are in your life now
Connection with the soul’s deepest sense of Value and values
Awareness of where and how discipline is needed
Being given the “task list” for the next phase of your life

And finally …

Let’s not be afraid of melancholy. In Medieval times, this experience was respected and understood to generate deep philosophic insights. Now, however, the merest hint of it risks being pathologised and medicated out of existence. Current propaganda encourages us to be “up, bright, and shiny” all the time, but perhaps the soul-movement of the current Saturn-Venus will allow us to revalue, appreciate, and perhaps even enjoy (Venus) our own melancholy moods (Saturn). Try letting yourself feel like a melancholy but happy Hermit, while in the midst of “it all.” Saturn-Node-Venus will love this sadhana!(3)

Footnotes and references:

(1) From Gregory Bateson: Mind and Nature – A Necessary Unity, Bantam Books, NY, 1982.

(2) Click here for an article on Melanie’s website, with more detailed suggestions about honouring Saturn.

(3) Sadhana is an activity consecrated to worship, for devotion or spiritual development.

(4) See also Saturn: Time, Heritage and Substance, Starwalker Press, UK, 2013. The Kindle edition should shortly be on special offer from your usual Amazon site, once their “MatchBook” promotions have been rolled out. Ebook edition: for a 50% discount (until November 17th, 2013); enter the code BH64S when you check it out here.

Bio:  Melanie Reinhart has been a professional astrologer since 1975, and is a prize-winning Diploma-holder of the Faculty of Astrological Studies, of whom she is also a patron. She received the Charles Harvey award in 2004, for “exceptional service to astrology,” and has taught for leading astrology schools in the UK and abroad. She runs a thriving practice offering individual readings to an international clientele. Books include: Chiron and the Healing Journey, Chiron, Saturn and the Centaurs, Incarnation, and a contribution to the anthology The Mars Quartet. Visit her website for articles, useful resources, and a calendar of her workshops and lectures.

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Asteroid Notebook:  Achilles

By Alex Miller | September 9, 2013

Asteroid Achilles is named for a mythic Greek warrior, one of the heroes of Homer’s Iliad, a chronicle of the Trojan War. Son of a mortal king and a divine nymph, Achilles’ mother attempted to cheat Fate of a prophecy that her infant son would die young by dipping him in the waters of the river Styx in Hades to render him invulnerable. In this, she was largely successful, but she had to hold on to him by something, and so Achilles’ only weak spot was the heel her hand covered as she immersed him in the river. In due course, Achilles grew to manhood and gained a reputation as a fierce, unconquerable warrior of the invading Greek army, who caused the Trojans to quail at the sight of him. Eventually he was killed by the hapless Paris, who had started all the trouble by eloping with Helen; his poisoned arrow was guided to Achilles’ one weak spot by Apollo. Our term “Achilles Heel,” a point of vulnerability, weakness, and potential undoing, stems from this mythological incident.
Astrologically, asteroid Achilles (#588) shows prominently in the charts of famed military men, such as Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as one might expect, given Achilles’ mytho-poetic identification with war. But it also serves as a marker of where we are vulnerable, susceptible to congenital weaknesses and character flaws that have the potential to unseat us despite our best efforts and overall competence or strength. It is the chink in our armor that brings disaster, often self-inflicted.
A number of scandals and downfalls this summer have reflected Achilles’ tendency to bring low the high and mighty, exposing their vulnerable underbellies and bringing to the fore character traits that have proved to be their undoing. 
One of the more visible, and portentous, activations of the astrological Achilles heel was the case of Mohamed Morsi, erstwhile president of Egypt, and its first democratically elected leader.  Just inaugurated on June 30, 2012, barely a year later his many missteps and abuses of power brought the largest mass protests in Egyptian history into the streets. On July 3, 2013, Morsi was deposed by the military, and now Egypt faces further turmoil and strife, with a possible escalation into all-out civil war, as Islamist supporters of the Morsi regime clash with secular elements of the society and the military grows increasingly abusive in the display of its authority. 
Morsi, born August 20, 1951, has natal Achilles at 5° Gemini, which had been hit repeatedly by transits in the period leading to his downfall. (1) Neptune came to its retrograde station at 5° Pisces, in exact square to natal Achilles, less than a month earlier, and was still at that degree when Morsi was deposed. This transit eroded support and focused attention on the religious zealotry and bigotry that had begun to characterize his administration. Saturn had just formed an exact inconjunct from 5° Scorpio in the prior two weeks and was coming to station at 4° Scorpio, still within orb, just five days later, indicating Morsi’s vulnerability in career matters and imperiling his status as Egypt’s chief executive. A lunar eclipse on May 24 at 4° Sagittarius opposed natal Achilles, setting the stage and softening the ground for transit Achilles, which, at 8° Virgo for Morsi’s fall, was fresh from squaring its natal degree in late June.
Also of note were two political sex scandals that flared across the summer sky. San Diego mayor Bob Filner and “sexting” New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner both broke new scandal ground in late July, when, on July 22nd, a sexual harassment suit was filed against Filner, and on the 23rd, Weiner held a press conference to fess up to the latest allegations that he had sent nude photos of himself online. (An earlier, similar scandal had forced him to resign his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011.)  
Filner’s troubles eventually mushroomed into more than 20 women accusing him of improper sexual conduct, advances, and harassment (including two women, both survivors of sexual abuse, that he hit on at a conference where they were presenting their stories). After a week-long hiatus to receive counseling, Filner was eventually forced to resign as San Diego’s mayor, effective August 30th. Weiner attempted to plough through his latest sexting revelations, continuing his campaign for New York mayor with a frank mea culpa and yet more promises not to re-offend, but his support disintegrated, and he went from leading contender to single digits in the polls. He remains on the ballot for New York’s September 10th primary, but this second round of scandal has likely sunk his political aspirations for good.
Incredibly, both men share a birth date, September 4th – Filner in 1942 and Weiner in 1964. So both men were receiving an exact conjunction from transit Achilles at 11° Virgo to their natal Suns when their respective scandals broke, evoking their vulnerability to inherent personality defects. Additionally, both men sport powerful natal Achilles placements that highlight the nature of their indiscretions. Filner’s natal Achilles at 14° Virgo straddles the gap between his Sun at 11° Virgo and Mars at 21° Virgo, emphasizing both the fundamental centrality (Sun) of this character flaw to his nature, and also honing in on the sexual component, via Mars. During the period of his discomfiture, Filner also experienced an Achilles return, with the transit asteroid ending up at 20° Virgo, conjunct natal Mars, when he resigned after just nine months in office.  Weiner’s natal Achilles is even more indicative of his issues; it exactly conjoins natal Mars at 23° Cancer and is also conjunct natal Venus at 26° Cancer, showing him to be particularly vulnerable to self-undoing via areas of sexuality and intimacy. 
Another political collapse came in the form of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s fall from grace. Previously regarded by his constituency as an honorable straight shooter, a Washington Post expose in mid-June 2013 revealed a pattern of poor judgment regarding the acceptance of gifts from political supporters and campaign donors. In particular, McDonnell was confirmed to have accepted more than $145,000 in gifts and another $120,000 in loans from Star Scientific executive Jonnie Williams, allegedly given in exchange for the governor’s support of a dietary supplement marketed by his company. McDonnell repaid the loans after the Washington Post story broke, and has been working to return or reimburse Williams for the value of the gifts, but his popular support has eroded significantly and, far from helping elect his successor, fellow Republican Ken Cuccinelli, he is now a drag on that candidacy.
When the Washington Post story was published on June 16, 2013, transit Achilles at 5° Virgo was exactly opposed Neptune, ruling bribery and the disappointment or disillusion felt by McDonnell’s supporters. It had just returned to its natal degree of 1° Virgo, reactivating the inherent weakness of character and potential for self-undoing that it represents. (McDonnell was born on June 15, 1954.) Asteroid Achilles was also exactly semisquare transit Venus at 16° Cancer, ruling gifts, which was itself exactly conjunct natal Mercury, ruling the Press. This is an indication that McDonnell is naturally vulnerable to the media, and particularly that day, on the themes of cash, donations, and gifts (all Venus-ruled). Also conjunct natal Achilles is asteroid Virginia at 6° Virgo, named for the state McDonnell governs (conjoined also by transit Achilles when the story broke), suggesting that any public service or official position in Virginia is likely to prove problematic in terms of activating that latent potential for loss via character flaw.
Character flaws of another type were on display August 5, 2013, when New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received a whopping 211 game suspension for his use of PEDs, performance enhancing drugs, to gain an edge in his pro sports career. Rodriguez, too, was experiencing a major contact between natal and transit Achilles, with Achilles in the sky at 14° Virgo forming its waxing square to its natal degree of 16° Gemini (born July 27, 1975). Natally, Achilles is semisquare the 3° Leo Sun, but also forms a broad opposition to Neptune, generally ruling drugs, at 9°  Sagittarius, and a tight sextile to asteroid Panacea, named for the goddess of medications and ruling pharmaceuticals, at 15° Aries. Both contacts indicate that drug use can be a major character flaw, potentially imperiling Rodriguez’ life or position. When the suspension was handed down, transit Panacea at 15° Gemini was conjunct natal Achilles and square transit Achilles, which was also sextile transit Mars, ruling athletes and professional sports, at 15° Cancer. 
Lastly, let’s consider the ongoing effect of his natal Achilles on the presidency of Barack Obama. One of the major critiques of Obama has been his lack of experience in military matters, from the infamous “3 a.m. phone call” campaign ad in 2008 to assertions of a timorous attitude toward the use of power in his “leading from behind” stance during the Libyan rebellion that unseated Qadaffi and led directly to the attack on the Benghazi consulate, resulting in the death of the U.S. ambassador in 2012. This ambivalent attitude toward things military has been seen as a major weakness, a point of political vulnerability that Obama overcame in his first presidential run due to the American population’s war-weariness after the Bush years.
Now Obama is embroiled in the Syrian civil war, needing to respond to Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people, which Obama described a year ago as a “red line” that Assad could not cross without retaliation. After waiting for U.N. inspector reports, and decrying Assad as a “thug and murderer” via the surrogacy of the Vice President, Obama stepped back from the brink of armed reprisal for the chemical attacks when he postponed a decision on action until consulting with Congress, which was still in recess for ten days when the delay was announced on August 31st. Political opponents at home and Syrian authorities abroad both characterized the delay as a sign of weakness, an Achilles keyword.
Why this should be a weak spot for Obama is easy to see in his natal chart, with Achilles at 24° Pisces opposing Mars at 22° Virgo (born August 4,1961). Involvement with military matters is naturally a vulnerability with this placement, something exacerbated by this polarity’s meshing with the U.S.A.’s natal square between Neptune at 22° Virgo and Mars at 21° Gemini, forming a t-square with Obama’s points. In particular, the exact conjunction of Obama’s Mars with the nation’s Neptune renders his military actions and decisions in a potentially poor light, appearing dilatory, confused, and indecisive, all of which can be turned against him and constitute a political Achilles heel for the administration. At the point when Obama deferred his decision, transit Achilles at 20° Virgo was perfectly poised to activate the synastric t-square, in square to the U.S. Mars, conjoining the U.S. Neptune and Obama’s Mars, and coming to oppose its own natal degree in Obama’s chart and psyche. Achilles’ exact conjunction to the U.S. Neptune/Obama Mars pairing occurs September 7-10, just as Congress returns to take up the issue as job #1.
Achilles functions as this identifier of vulnerability and weakness in the birth charts of ordinary mortals, too. In my own nativity, Achilles at 21° Aquarius makes a close opposition to Uranus at 20° Leo, and technology has always been a particular bête noire of mine. Things technological tend to go haywire, with frequent problems, glitches, and breakdowns. Upgrading systems is a nightmare, and my lack of technical aplomb has certainly dented my bank account, as I have no recourse but to call in professional help when these problems arise. It has also been a limiting factor in career development. Granted, all this is exacerbated by Uranus’ conjunction with asteroids Nemesis (harm, ruin, undoing), Pelion (steep uphill climb), and Sisyphus (repetitive, nonproductive actions), plus squares from Karma (fated circumstance) and Mars (anger, conflict, lesser malefic), but Achilles definitely has a role to play in my tech woes.
One client of mine has Achilles in exact conjunction with Juno and semisquare Venus and finds himself bedeviled by partnerships, both romantic and business. They frequently end badly and leave him holding the bag when the partner splits, often fracturing or imperiling financial interests. Another with Achilles square Jupiter has difficulty finishing academic courses of study and has twice failed to certify in disciplines that she has a working command of, as well as encountering unusually adverse circumstances when engaged in international travel (all Jupiter arenas). A third with Achilles opposed Moon has lifelong health issues of a chronic, weakening nature, some stemming from physical abuse by her mother when an infant. 
All these examples confirm Achilles’ tendency to project and magnify weakness, and vulnerability or susceptibility to loss, either through character flaws and failings or congenital factors. Their repetitive nature indicates that Achilles continues to impact our lives wherever its natal or transiting placements expose a soft underbelly, an inherent feebleness or fault, which it exploits to our detriment.
(To find out where your own Achilles raises its ugly heel, check out the asteroid ephemeris generator at Serennu.)


(1) Editor’s note: All birth dates are from Wikipedia

Bio: Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of “The Galactic Calendar,” and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society. His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. His work with deep space points and asteroids appears monthly at DayKeeper Journal. Alex can be reached for comment or services at

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The 79-Year Cycles of Mercury and Mars in the USA Horoscope

By Gary P. Caton | July 21, 2013

“The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon . . . has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.”
-James Madison in The Virginia Resolution of 1798 (1)

This has been quite a Mercury retrograde period (June 26 to July 20). We have had further revelations of U.S. spying (which appears to this author to extend to nearly the whole world); abortion restrictions being enacted in North Carolina and Texas; and the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. All are examples of challenging information revealed in the public sphere. The kind of chaos we have seen during this Mercury retrograde reminds me of what many astrologers were expecting from the 2012 presidential election (which occurred on the day of a retrograde station). But looking at synodic cycles, there is a good reason why there is so much chaos now and not last year. (2)

Due to a convergence of sidereal and synodic cycles, Mercury will repeat its position near the same zodiacal degree every 46 or 79 years. (3) If we assume that the U.S. was born on July 4, 1776, we can see that the 79-year period comes into play in 2013. (This is because 79 x 3 = 237 and 1776 + 237 = 2013.) Therefore, this is a year in which Mercury will trace close to the same path through the zodiac as in 1776.

On a practical level, this means that the U.S. experiences a Mercury return close to the same time as its solar return in 2013. Mercurial natal themes are brought to the fore this year, much more prominently than in other years. We should expect this particular year (especially the period when Mercury is retrograde in Cancer) to be especially significant, as the nation was born with Mercury retrograde in Cancer.

The July 4, 1776 chart has Mercury retrograde in Cancer making a sextile aspect to Neptune in Virgo, as well as an opposition to Pluto in Capricorn. The need to re-think and re-visit issues, especially Cancerian issues such as “family values” and childbirth, is ingrained in our national blueprint. However, this need for introspective thinking is also affected by the idealistic and religious nature of Neptune, which is facilitated by the ease of its sextile aspect. At the same time, there is a standoff with a very powerful figure represented by the opposition to Pluto in Capricorn. These aspects are clearly reflective of the fact that in 1776 we were engaged in a seditious information campaign (in the name of ideals such as liberty and democracy) against what we saw as a tyrannical authority.

If you look at the bi-wheel above, you will see that solar return Mars (24° Gemini) is very close to the U.S. natal Mars (21°23’ Gemini). Like Mercury, Mars has a 79-year cycle. (3) Since 237 years is a multiple of 79, the 2013 solar return for the U.S. is also a Mars return. This means that Mars themes from the July 4, 1776 horoscope are also being re-activated. The presence of Mars explains the surgical and weapons-related themes that have surfaced. The over-the-top and rogue way that these themes have expressed themselves is a reflection of the fact that Mars is out-of-bounds currently, as it is in the U.S. nativity. The hidden, nebulous nature of much of this information, and the idealism/disillusionment that many feel about these issues, is a reflection of the natal square between Mars and Neptune in the July 4 chart.

The supreme irony is that while internal contradictions in the U.S. psyche, represented by the natal Mercury opposition to Pluto (both retrograde) and the natal square of Mars to Neptune, tend to resurface every 79 years, we seldom recognize them as such collectively.

As another example: The year 1855 — a 79-year cycle after the U.S.inception (1776 + 79 =1855) — saw the escalation of a border war concerning the issue of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state, with “border ruffians” from Missouri influencing the early process. One cycle later, in 1934 (1855 + 79 = 1934), there was a crime wave of unprecedented proportions, as desperation from the Great Depression brought figures like John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barkers to the fore. This resulted in the concept of “Public Enemy #1” being invented by the FBI and the subsequent empowerment of that organization. It should come as no surprise that “rogues and ruffians” like Snowden, Zimmerman, the NSA, and even the North Carolina legislature are the big news of 2013. (4) The real question is: will we ever collectively wake up to recognize these figures for what they really are?

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ -all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness – that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. (5) We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.” – C.G. Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections (6)

I do not think it is melodramatic to posit that our future may very well depend on our current ability to embrace these lowly parts of our national character and heal these internal contradictions. I’m certainly not the first astrologer to note that the last three transits of Uranus through Aries brought events that eventually led to major conflicts for our nation during Uranus in Gemini (i.e., the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and WWII). This trend is clearly evident to non-astrological historians as well. (6) While the recent SCOTUS decision to strike down DOMA was a victory for human rights, it was also a victory for state’s rights. And it appears clear to this astrologer that the blue states are getting bluer and the red states redder. Will it take another full-blown conflict for these divisions to come together? Or can we choose another path? Much still needs to be decided, but it seems pretty obvious to me that a “Cold War II” environment where the U.S. government is spying on everyone and their brother is not optimal for the free examination and communication that James Madison saw as necessary for securing all our other precious liberties. (Editors note: See the quote at the beginning of this post.) Perhaps in this sense, Edward Snowden is indeed just the “devil” that we need at this moment in our history. (7)

References and recommended reading:

(1) The Virginia Resolution was authored by Madison in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts.

(2) GlobalPost

(3) The planetary synodic periods were well known to Mesopotamian astrologers and later Ptolemy used them in his Almagest. Alexander Ruperti, Michael Munkasey, and Robert Blaschke are the modern astrologers who have researched these cycles in depth.
Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS Vancouver, WA, and re-published in 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA.

Michael Munkasey, “Station Cycles,” an as yet unpublished research article shared with interested members of the community.

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

(4) New York Times

(5) “Raca, a Biblical term of Aramaic origin used in Matthew 5:22. See Aramaic of Jesus or Expounding of the Law. Its meaning is ‘worthless,’ ‘vain,’ ‘empty.’ Is a word of contempt towards an object that is depised.” Wikipedia

(6) GoodReads

(6) I’m referring to the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe in their books Generations and The Fourth Turning. See here: Wikipedia
and here Life Course

(7) In my last installment for this blog I mentioned that perhaps we need some “devils” to shake things up a bit; it happens that the Yods in the chart of the prior Sun-Venus conjunction, which I used to make this prediction, point precisely at the Ascendant and Moon in Edward Snowden’s birth chart.

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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An early summer sky…

By Mary Plumb | June 10, 2013

On Saturday night the skies were clear and dark; the New Moon is optimal for stargazing, and I went for the first time to the local astronomer’s group. In a large field with good views of the horizon, there was not a bad seat in the house. (Although I did arrive early, I was so excited to be there; clouds had obscured other planned events.)

What a glorious night! Right after sunset in the western sky, we could see Venus (Jupiter and Mars are too close to the Sun), and a bit later, Mercury.

Venus remains as the visible evening star throughout most of this year, but Mercury is fleeting. Mercury is slowing down before turning retrograde on June 26. I also saw Mercury through a telescope for the first time: you could see a slight crescent shape as he is in the gibbous phase, i.e., not quite full. (1)

(As the evening came on, Castor and Pollux, the twins in the constellation Gemini, stood out too, but that’s another story.)

Part of Mercury’s mythos is as the god of crossroads, thresholds, in-between states, and the one who accompanies travelers. As I spent time with him in the sky, that meaning came more viscerally alive.

Now, Mercury is in the sky at dusk, the twilight, the transitional time between day and night. His visibility is relatively brief; he quickly disappears as he sets behind the Sun. He moves quickly (only 88 days to go around the Sun) but never goes too far from the Sun. Even with perfect weather and horizon conditions, we can only see Mercury at a maximum of two months out of a year.

If you can find a good view of the horizon and a clear evening, do go out and commune with Mercury yourself. He is slowing down, getting to the edge of his distance from the source of life, soon to turn and move back to the light of the Sun. (2) We can actually see the guide between worlds now. Feed your intuition and seize the moment!

Hermes, the Greek god identified with the Roman Mercury, is the protector on the journey as well as the guide between the worlds. The age-old practice of leaving an offering at points along the road beckons back to Hermes as guardian of travelers.

In the last few years, in the places where people walk a lot around Ashland (e.g., mountain trails, in Lithia Park, around the lake) there are offerings of rock formations, flowers, and leaves, etc., little altars built along the way. They are always changing, added to, fall down, and reappear somewhere else.

This ritual, conducted by random invisible walkers (I’ve never seen a person actually placing a stone or adding to the pile), is recreating our ancestors’ practice of adding stones to the piles along the way and leaving food as a petition to Hermes for blessing us with a safe journey. (The name Hermes derives from herma, a stone, roadside shrine or boundary marker.)

In the northern sky, I was completely thrilled to see Cygnus the Swan, gliding southward. This is a huge constellation, visible all summer in the Northern Hemisphere, that I had only seen in pictures. Although this constellation is easy to find, I had never really seen the swan before. And there he was, gliding across the sky right across the Milky Way. What a beautiful sight! The Alpha star in Cygnus is Deneb, at the swan’s tail, is an exceptionally bright star, very easy to find with the eye. It is a super-giant star, more than 100 times the diameter of the Sun. “Its name comes from dhanab, the Arabic word for ‘tail’.” (3)

Cygnus the Swan
But we looked through the telescope, and I really flipped. The star at the swan’s head is called Albireo (the etymology of which is convoluted, and by the accounts I read, meaningless). It is apparently faintly visible to the eye (I couldn’t see it), but through the telescope you see a brilliant sapphire blue star and a gold star right next to it. There are two stars in Albireo; they looked like two eyes. (4)

There are many myths about the swan in the sky, but I am now most moved by a story told by Ovid. Cygnus was Phaeton’s friend, the son of Helios who drove his chariot too close to the Sun and fell into the river Eridanus. Cygnus lamented the loss of his friend and traveled the river unexhaustedly looking for his friend’s body. The gods were moved by his grief and transformed him into a swan whose long neck allowed him to dive deeply into the water on his search. (4)

Seeing those dazzlingly bright blue and yellow stars on Cygnus’s head gives me a new image for the deep diving into the emotional realms that the current planetary emphasis on the water signs seems to be bringing. (I had calls from two friends this weekend, essentially saying the same thing: What is going on? I am crying all the time!)

Have a good week, everyone. Enjoy the skies overhead.


(1) I don’t understand the astronomy well enough to explain it (but I did see it). Here’s an explanation: Free Astronomy Lesson by Dr. Jamie Love.

(2) Gary P. Caton wrote a great blog for TMA: The Mercury Elemental Year 2013in which he describes Mercury’s pattern: The degree of the greatest elongation is very close to the degree of the interior conjunction, and the degree of the maximum longitude in the morning sky when he will be visible in the morning sky again. (This summer, the maximum elongation on June 12 is 17° Cancer. Mercury, while still visible — weather and horizon line permitting — turns retrograde on June 26. The interior conjunction with the Sun is on July 9 at 18° Cancer and the Mercury’s appearance as the morning star will be around July 30 at 19° Cancer.)

(3) Star Tales: Cygnus

(4) Apparently this absolute wonder at Albireo’s beauty is a common experience among stargazers. “Albireo, designated Beta Cygni, is a celebrated binary star among amateur astronomers for its contrasting hues.”

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Geography & the Uranus-Pluto Square

By Alex Miller | May 27, 2013

When major news stories flash across our screens, it’s often relatively easy to sense which planetary energies are prompting them. This is especially true of the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square, the defining aspect of our times, which elicits volatile, destructive energies that carve a big, bold statement as they manifest on earth.
But why do these events play out where they do? Is there some celestial connection between the major planetary energies being unleashed and the terrestrial locales they highlight? If we look more closely at some recent Uranus-Pluto related events, the answer seems a resounding, “Yes!”

Take the recent tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013, the very day of the third exact square between Uranus and Pluto. The tornado was perhaps the strongest ever recorded, an EF5 with winds of up to 200-210 mph, with a wedge as much as a mile wide and cutting a 20-mile-long pathway through Oklahoman farmland and suburban developments, a meteorological behemoth worthy of the square. (1) Pluto’s effect is seen here in the total destruction wreaked, with Uranus supplying the explosive power and the relative rapidity of the event. (Although the twister was on the ground for 50 minutes, that’s a mere fraction of the time it took to build all the infrastructure it annihilated, let alone how long it will take to rebuild). The propensity of this particular square to elicit major weather events might be foreshadowed by the presence of TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) Typhon at 9° Libra, closely t-squaring Uranus and Pluto. Typhon, from whom we derive our word “typhoon,” was a mythical Greek Titan responsible for massive storms, and although his natural element is water, Typhon the mythic monster also had the power to control the winds. The eponymous TNO shows up often in charts of all types of weather-related disasters.

There was, therefore, a strong predisposition for some disastrous weather to manifest somewhere, but why Oklahoma? When the tornado hit, asteroids Oklahoma (#13688) and Storm (#12182), at 3° and 5° Capricorn, were moving in on Pluto at 11° Capricorn, within orb of conjunction. Moore is in Cleveland County, and asteroid Cleveland (#6296) at 12° Cancer was even more closely tapped into the Uranus-Pluto square; along with Typhon, this created a Grand Cross. There is also an asteroid Moore (#2602), and while it was not aspected directly to the square, at 27° Pisces it was highlighted on the Descendant, which moved from 23° Pisces through 29° Pisces during the period from 3:01 PM to 3:35 PM (CDT) when the tornado was destroying Moore.

Speaking of Cleveland, another Uranus-Pluto related story broke on May 6th, with the release of three young women from a decade-long captivity in Cleveland, Ohio. Ariel Castro had allegedly abducted Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, and Gina DeJesus, repeatedly raping and beating them, and holding them hostage in his house for ten years. The elements of abduction, rape, and abuse are represented by Pluto, who equates to the Greek god Hades, famous for his abduction and rape of Persephone, while Uranus’s role is seen in the release and freedom of the captives.

When they were discovered and released on May 6th, asteroid Cleveland, at 5° Cancer, squared Uranus at 10° Aries and opposed Pluto at 11° Capricorn, accompanied by asteroid Ohio (#439) at 12° Capricorn, identifying the state where the horrific events occurred.

Two other stories emerged in April of 2013 with direct ties to the celestial geography making contact with Uranus and Pluto. When the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly set off two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15th, asteroid Massachusetts (#4547) at 11° Aries was conjoined Uranus at 9° Aries and exactly squared Pluto at 11° Capricorn, which had turned retrograde just days before. Pluto rules terrorist acts and deaths, and Uranus rules explosives of all kinds, from the pop of a handgun to the detonation of a nuclear warhead. (There is also an asteroid Marathon, which, at the time of the explosions, appears just three degrees off the Midheaven, the focus of all eyes.)

Just two days later, on April 17th, a massive explosion in a fertilizer plant rocked the town of West, Texas, killing 15 and obliterating dozens of homes in a five-block radius. Again, Pluto here generally represents devastation, but, more specifically, also rules fertilizers, with Uranus once more providing the spark of explosives. When the plant blew, asteroid West (#2022) was at 9° Cancer, opposed Pluto at 11° Capricorn and exactly squared Uranus at 9° Aries. The difference in magnitude of the two explosions (those at the Boston Marathon were relatively small blasts, as explosions go) may be due to the difference in specificity of the asteroids involved (one representing an entire state as opposed to a specific community), and also the fact that asteroid Massachusetts, while in a close conjunction with explosion-ruling Uranus, was not in exact aspect to it, as was asteroid West.

Mass shootings seem to be another predominant theme of the Uranus-Pluto square, with numerous incidents since their first exact aspect in June of 2012. Uranus rules shootings, Pluto rules murder, and the pair together has ramped up the carnage considerably. One of the first and most publicized of these atrocities was the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012. James Holmes, dressed in SWAT team garb, with several semiautomatic weapons and hair dyed fire engine red, shot up the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and wounding 58.

At the time, asteroid Aurora (#94) at 17° Capricorn was just within orb of conjunction to Pluto, at 7° Capricorn, but also just four degrees off the Midheaven for the shooting. But the real focus on Aurora from Uranus and Pluto can be seen in the chart of the shooter. Born December 13, 1987, James Holmes’ nativity shows Aurora at 9° Libra, squared by Pluto at the shooting and tightly opposed by Uranus at 8° Aries. (Transit asteroid Holmes (#5477) and planet Mars were also exactly conjunct natal Aurora when he opened fire in the theater.)

Another example of the transiting Uranus-Pluto square impacting natal asteroids of a geographic nature is the case of Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius, who shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, to death on Valentine’s Day 2013 in his home in Pretoria, South Africa. Asteroid Praetorius (#4889), here standing in for Pretoria, appears at 12° Capricorn in Pistorius’ birth chart (born November 22, 1986), with transit Pluto at 10° Capricorn for the shooting (along with asteroid Oskar (#750) at 9° Capricorn), and squared by Uranus at 6° Aries.

These few examples seem to confirm the importance, in the old real estate dictum, of “location, location, location” when looking for clues to where the Uranus-Pluto square will manifest next. There are four more exact squares to the cycle, extending into 2015, likely giving us many more opportunities to test the theory.

Editor’s note:

(1) EF5 (Enhanced Fujita Scale) is the scale for rating the strength of tornados.

Bio: Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of “The Galactic Calendar,” and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society. His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. His work with deep space points and asteroids appears monthly at DayKeeper Journal. Alex can be reached for comment or services at

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Ideas from eclipse season

By Mary Plumb | May 13, 2013

Three eclipses mark this spring: There was a lunar eclipse on April 25 (6° Taurus/Scorpio), a solar eclipse on May 9 (20° Taurus), and a second lunar eclipse on May 24 (5° Gemini/Sag).
The May 9 eclipse was angular in my birth chart. I had a surprising and strong emotional reaction to a seemingly simple event that opened a chasm of memories and associations that I am still winding through. I maybe could have seen it coming (but didn’t). This eclipse brought an experience that can be typical — something sneaks up on us (Bill Meridian’s phrase) and takes us by surprise. I intentionally keep my schedule a bit open around eclipses to be able to respond to the turns and upsets in peoples’ lives (which definitely happened this time). I did not see that it would also be me who needed a bit of care and attention.
My experience also had the quality described below about this Saros series (in Bernadette Brady’s words): “This series is about release of tension.”
(Funnily enough, early Monday morning, as I was writing this intro part to today’s blog, I uncharacteristically neglected to save the file, Word crashed and I had to start again. Even writing about the eclipse has a way of sneaking up on me. It also shows that events and insights are in transition and still settling down. I’m also relating to the south node symbolism with the solar eclipse: letting go, again and again; not held captive by the past.)
First of all, for any newcomers to using eclipses in natal chart work, Celeste Teal, Moon Valley Astrologer, has a wonderful article explaining how to understand the nature of eclipses and how to apply them in the personal horoscope. “In a general way you can track the transiting North Node through your chart to find the areas to focus your attention and energy that will result in some good coming to you. This is an area of opportunity, where rewards, good fortune and happiness can be found. By directing your efforts there, rewards easily come forth. The house occupied by the transiting South Node indicates an area of potential vulnerability, where you may be working through an issue, and where you might experience some loss or make a sacrifice. Sometimes it means you have a gift to share and the Universe expects something from you.”
Peter Stockinger’s blog (at Traditional Astrology Weblog) on the includes Lilly’s suggestion to consider the decanate of the eclipse; the eclipse path of angularity, and the ruler of the eclipse, i.e., Venus, who “is conjunct the fixed star Alcyone, the brightest star of the Pleiades.” He surmises: “I would propose that the general theme of this solar eclipse is the renewed effort of women to make their voices heard, highlighting their struggle towards equality and independence.”

Peter describes the upcoming lunar eclipse with similar methods here.
Of the May 25 lunar eclipse, he writes: “On the mundane level, this eclipse should be of immediate effect throughout parts of Canada, as can be seen from the world map below. The line of angularity also shows that the eclipsed Moon will be on the Descendant throughout Ireland, France, Libya and other parts of Africa. In these places the effects of the lunar eclipse will be noticeable by the end of this year, lasting into 2014.”

Lorna Bevan at Daykeeper Journal has an article called Tracking the Trail of the May Eclipses. She explains the Saros cycles. (The May 9 solar eclipse is the same Saros Series as May 1995 which brought the Oklahoma City bombings and the Unabomber.) Bevan quotes Bernadette Brady on this Saros: “This series is about release of tension. A situation which has been lingering will suddenly clear. In the clearing of the problem there is also a sense of grief or loss, which is not so much personal but belonging to the collective.”

Of the May 25 lunar eclipse, Bevan notes: “This penumbral eclipse is the last of the mutable Gemini/Sagittarius eclipses which began in March 2012, not to return until 2028. For those of you who are solar Pisces/Gemini/Virgo/Sagittarius between 2-6 degrees of the sign, this is the last ripple of the big personal upheavals until 2021.”
Genevieve Vierling, The Blue Light Lady, wrote Three Eclipses in a Row. She concludes: “May each of you be blessed as you consciously work with these eclipses. No one of them is particularly powerful in and of itself this time because the Lunar ones are considered ‘shallow’ and the Solar is not a total eclipse, but together in sequence they create a field wherein we can each accomplish a great deal of spiritual momentum in our lives.”

Andrew Smith, Agent EI at Cosmic Intelligence Agency, has a look at the May solar eclipse with good graphics and an interpretation of this eclipse’s relationship to the parent eclipse in its Saros cycle. For this eclipse, he writes: “The process of stepping away from the busyness of life to take time to reflect and start afresh is given a greater emphasis at the time of a solar eclipse, since the radiance of our Source energy is obscured and the focus is upon any unresolved needs, which are given a portal of light through which to escape from their imprisonment within the dark of your unconscious, resurfacing so as to be released and better understood in the light of your current awareness and consciousness.”
Carl Broudeau’s Astrology of May 2013 – High Voltage Politics starts with a recap of April’s events and aspects before a look at the key planetary aspects in May (with graphics). He is particularly sensitive to planetary patterns, not just discrete aspects. He concludes: “May’s eclipses tell us that we will cross a political and economic point of no return. The error of our old ways will become painfully obvious enough to spur genuine change. Attitudes will shift even more strongly in favor of immediate social and economic reform. However, as will all the other events we have discussed in recent months, this process will not take place overnight. It will be yet another long-term transformative process among others now unfolding.”

Peter Sher at Sher Astrology writes The Spring Eclipses 2013. “My view of eclipses is that they change the momentum of things and demand a change be made in some area of our life, whether we like it or not. In other words, they change the inertia of our lives. When there are three back-to-back eclipses, the cycle of changes lasts much longer and the shifts that occur can be deeper and more extensive. This becomes especially true if the location of these eclipses affects our personal chart.”

Jamie Partridge’s Astrology King site has this article: Lunar Eclipse May 2013. “This ongoing theme of toxicity I have been noticing, from the solar eclipse, Pluto retrograde, and potentially from comet ISON, is supported once again in the chart for the May 25 Lunar Eclipse.”
You can also read Jamie’s article on the May solar eclipse.
Cathy Pagano, writing at Wisdom of Astrology, includes Sabian symbols and reference to Adam Gainsburg’s work on Venus’ cycle in
The Cosmic Story: Taurus New Moon Solar Eclipse, May 2013
. “At this solar eclipse, Venus is still hidden within the rays of the Sun and she is on the far side of the Sun, the furthest away from Earth (apogee). Traveling at her fastest speed, she will soon emerge from the rays of the Sun to begin the Re-birth phase with her Evening Star appearance. The Transmutation Phase is a time when we can see what’s missing from our Feminine Self, a time to go within and re-discover our Inner Light and Beauty.”

Have a good week everyone, and thanks to all of these writers for helping us sort it all out.

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Pluto unannounced

By Mary Plumb | May 6, 2013

I hadn’t planned on writing about Pluto this week. I was thinking more about Thursday’s solar eclipse with the Sun and Moon conjunct Pallas Athena and the fine ability to recognize patterns.
But, I spent time this week with several people who had a current and exact Pluto aspect, and I was moved in a different direction. In the Greek pantheon, Hades, who we associate with the planet Pluto, wore a helmet of invisibility. He appears unannounced.
We know that the square between Uranus and Pluto is precise again this month, on May 20, with the planets at 11°14’ Aries and Capricorn. Uranus is direct now and Pluto is retrograde.
One friend has transiting Pluto exactly on the natal Sun (in the 8th house). She has been in an ongoing process with a shamanic healer serving as guide to the underworld. Many memories have surfaced and she is in a passageway in life that is exhausting and rigorous. But at that moment, as I happened by, with Pluto to the minute of arc on the Sun, she was raw, completely untethered from the life she had always known. On the outside, everything in her life looks completely normal and could not be better. Pluto rules the invisible process of soul growth.
When transiting Pluto was opposite my natal Moon (2° Cancer), I worked with this therapist/healer/shaman for more than a year, so I am familiar with the process she is in the middle of. Part of this particular method of journey is to retrieve lost parts of ourselves that are disowned through trauma or the rough and tumble of life. (There are many therapeutic approaches to address the lost, disowned, or unintegrated parts of ourselves. Yogic traditions, for example, teach many methods to purify the toxins in the body and the poisons of the mind.)
The view into the landscape of Hades, as described by the Greeks, is evocative. Just as the brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades drew lots to see who would have dominion over which parts of the earth, maybe it’s not everyone’s lot to have this kind of call. But when it happens, it is unmistakable. Events can occur in the visible world and have an obvious impact, but the alchemy occurs in the interior life.
Brian Clark describes the different regions of Hades in his beautiful essay Hades as Place: The Underworld in Myth and Antiquity. (1)
Tartarus is the darkest, deepest, bleakest sphere of Hades. “Tartarus is reminiscent of the place in all of us that feels futile, repetitive, stuck and unresolvable. This is the aspect of Hades that has been most repressed and denied. It is a place of despair, depression, compulsion and rage: aspects of the psyche that are denied the light, yet need to be honored and recognized.”
Erebus is a middle region of Hades, where the souls of the dead, the “shades,” roam.
The third region, Elysium, the Elysian Fields, is for the heroes or those chosen by the gods. Clark says: “…in contrast to Tartarus or Erebus, it represents the outcome of a more conscious relationship with Hades and death.”
Clark describes The Rivers in Hades, which “carry the flow of feeling through our psychic underworld.” There are five different rivers: the hateful, the woeful, the wailing, the burning, and Lethe, the river of forgetting. Souls cross Lethe when entering or leaving the underworld: “the experiences of the world before were lost to conscious memory.”
We cross the river of forgetting and leave well enough alone until the next time Pluto suddenly appears; its unannounced quality is especially strong now with Uranus pressing in, with all its brilliance and promise.
As I see it, we are taking turns traveling in the realms of Hades these days. Maybe we’re getting better at it and can help each other along. Astrology is such an amazing guide for walking thorough life. Thanks to all of you for being present for each other.
Have a good week everyone. May the eclipse bring just the right amount of agitation and insight.
(1) My quotes are from a printed version, Hades as Place: The Underworld in Myth and Antiquity, Astro*Synthesis, The Chiron Centre, 407 Johnston Street, Abbotsford Victoria 3067 Australia, 1998.
There is a free download of a 2001 version of the essay at: 

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Venus cazimi

By Mary Plumb | March 18, 2013

Venus disappeared from the morning sky (Venus Lucifer, “the light bearer” to the Greeks) on February 16. She will reappear in the evening sky on May 16, when she will be low and faint in the sky after sunset. This begins her reign as Venus Hesperus, i.e., “setting in the West.”

Venus is invisible now; she is rising with the Sun.  (The Maya astrologers and many other traditions understood her disappearance to be her descent into the underworld.) On March 28, still invisible to us, she will make her superior conjunction with the Sun. She is on the other side of the Sun, farthest from the earth, at the superior conjunction, as she aligns with the Sun at 8º Aries.

Here’s a graphic that Robert Blaschke designed, from an earlier TMA blog (the superior conjunction is #6): (1)
Venus synodic cycle - Blaschke
Most modern astrologers think of the inferior conjunction (retrograde) as the beginning of the synodic cycle. The current cycle began on June 5, 2012  with the Venus transit, that rare (every 120-year) eclipse of Venus crossing the face of the Sun. This inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun was at 15º44’ Gemini.

I was able to see Venus crossing the sun here in Ashland; I had the special glasses and the afternoon sky was clear. I had my own solo experience, although there were many gatherings and rituals worldwide for the event, and astronomers were delighted at the data they could collect. That rare and potent moment was the beginning of this synodic cycle. Venus is now at the midway point in her 584-day cycle around the Sun — another peak time for her symbolism to be noted and her inspiration to be felt. I can readily remember and conjure anew what I felt at the occultation. Maybe you can, too?

I love the perspective from traditional philosophy and earlier astrologers who understood the superior conjunction (from Latin: superus, “higher”) as being related to the planet’s most elevated position from the earth, and therefore closer to the refined energy from the heavenly spheres. Deborah Houlding wrote in The Beauty of the Venus Cycle (TMA Feb/Mar 2010): “As the planets culminate within their own spheres, they rise towards the purer, rarified regions of heaven and become spiritual and soul-like in quality and effect.” (2)

Another image to contemplate is Venus cazimi. At both the inferior and superior conjunctions, Venus is cazimi, in the heart of the Sun. In Lilly’s time, a planet in cazimi was seen as trusted advisor to the king, was taken into his deepest confidence and inner circle. We all have an inner king, a place of radiance and connection to the source of life. What are we holding there in closest confidence?

On March 28 Venus is in the heart of the Sun and at her farthest distance from earth. We can have a re-enchanted and renewed perspective on all that we cherish. This is a time for infusing beauty, harmony, and contentment into our very cells. 

Venus is cohesive and magnetic. Love — from amorous to universal — keeps us in relationship to all that is holding the world together. (3)

We may find that attraction, desire, and beauty come alive under the magnificent presence and immeasurable power of the Sun. Our personal aspirations and creative visions of the world are magnified. Cooperation is unlimited.

Remember Venus’s perfect and enduring symmetry, whereby she moves across the skies and creates a five-pointed star pattern every eight years. (4) No matter where one considers the start of the Venus cycle (i.e., at heliacal rise, at the inferior conjunction, or the superior conjunction), Venus will always make the five-pointed star in her eight-year journey with the Sun and the earth. On March 28, we are at one of the five points on a star.

Here’s a graphic showing the geometry of her orbit around the Sun:

Venus synodic cycle

Uranus was at 8º Aries at the Venus occultation that so auspiciously began this synodic cycle in June 2012. Uranus is back at 8º with the Sun and Venus for the superior conjunction.

Unexpected meetings and encounters carry an extraordinary promise; insights into the puzzles of our passions and loves fall into place; a different appreciation of solitude and companionship dawns upon us; the uninvited, the unprecedented, the perplexing, and the astonishing walk right into our intimate experience. Our appreciation for the maddening, terrifying, and gorgeous artistry of our lives is unbounded.

What is over the edge and just out of view has great magnetism now. The way forward toward greater love and cooperation carries Uranus’s radicalism. We are at the end of convention in some significant way inside of ourselves. (Look to the house with Aries on the cusp for the greatest punch.)

Onward, friends, into heightened sensitivities for all that is good in this world.


(1) Venus: Enduring Symmetry

(2) Deborah Houlding’s article, The Beauty of the Venus Cycle in TMA Feb/Mar 2010, considers the start of the Venus cycle to be the superior conjunction.

(3) I do well know her other possible expressions, i.e., jealousy, envy, greed, but for now, I’m staying in the heavenly spheres.

(4) Venus: Enduring Symmetry
Further resources:

(1) For an extensive description of the Venus synodic cycle and the rose pattern she forms as viewed from above the earth, see Nick Kollerstrom’s article Venus, the Rose and the Heart

(2) Here is my review of Anne Massey’s book, Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols & Myths.

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A Heavenly Deluge: Notes on the Planetary Line-Up in Pisces

By Ray Grasse | March 11, 2013

One of the more interesting celestial events taking place right now is a celestial line-up in the tropical sign of Pisces that involves Neptune, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Chiron, and Mars — with that group now being joined by the Moon as well (throughout most of Sunday, March 10th and Monday, March 11th). With Uranus hovering nearby in adjoining Aries, this makes for a truly interesting meeting of the planetary minds!

Pisces line-up

Line-ups like this (also called “stelliums”) not only indicate a heightened emphasis on the zodiacal sign involved, but more broadly serve as celestial “engines of change,” marking important periods of transition in society, as well as in our personal lives. Think of the term “revolution,” which is essentially astronomical in origin. When a planet makes a full circuit around the solar system to a given starting point, we say it’s come full circle, it’s made a full revolution. So when we see an entire group of planets coming together, it conveys the sense of one chapter closing off and a new one opening up.

This is something poets and filmmakers have long intuited. In Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, each of the major evolutionary leaps the film depicts are shown accompanied by skyward shots of planetary line-ups. Likewise, in the movie Dark Crystal, a similar planetary line-up is shown accompanying the shift in consciousness that occurs in the film’s climax.

However the full effects of any line-up aren’t always obvious right away, and can take months or even years to fully materialize. This makes perfect sense when you think of the symbolism of a conjunction, which has a “New Moon” quality — in contrast to the opposition, which symbolizes fulfillment. Like the old saying goes, “What the New Moon promises, the Full Moon delivers.” In that spirit, you might well describe a stellium as an industrial strength, super-duper New Moon! Unlike a typical New Moon, which reveals most of its effects in just a few weeks, the seeds planted by a stellium are far more dramatic and last vastly longer.

For example, prior to the year 1524, some European astrologers were predicting that the world would be destroyed in a great flood because of a large planetary line-up about to occur in the sign of Pisces. As it turned out, those fears were unfounded — in any literal way, that is. In the years which followed, a great flood did sweep over the world, but a more symbolic one, and it involved a revolution in the Christian world, with the rise of Luther and the Protestant reformation. Just as Copernicus decentralized humanity’s view of the universe by displacing the Earth as the hub of the world, so Luther “decentralized” European culture by challenging the supreme authority of the Catholic Church.

As it turns out, we find ourselves once again in the midst of another major line-up in the sign Pisces — and lo and behold, what do we see taking place in the religious world? A historic shake-up in the Catholic Church, not only with the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, but as a result of growing publicity about scandals involving the church itself.

On a more personal level, look to see where these planets are falling in your own horoscope for a sense of what areas in your own life are being affected. Is it in the 6th house? If so, then perhaps it involves health or work. Or the 2nd house? Probably money or resources. The 4th house? Home or family — and so on.

A few more thoughts. It was Manly Palmer Hall who first pointed out the correlation between planetary line-ups and major wars or conflicts on the global stage. For example, both World Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and many others, began in tandem with major stelliums. Does this mean we might see a major conflict take shape in the coming days, weeks or months, in the wake of this current line-up? It’s worth noting that North Korea’s current leader has been engaged in some major saber-rattling lately, to the point of threatening the United States with his nuclear weapons. The Middle East has been heating up notably in recent days as well. One can only hope this connection fails to materialize this time around; after all, the mega-line-up of early 1962 didn’t give rise to an actual war so much as the serious threat of one, in the form of the Cuban Missile Crisis. (1)

On a more positive note, Pisces has long been associated with fantasy and imagination, so it’s probably only fitting that the big-budget reboot of the The Wizard of Oz, Sam Raimi’s film Oz the Great and Powerful is hitting theaters precisely in conjunction with this line-up in Pisces. In a subtle way, this may be telling us this is a time when we have easier access to the contents of our imagination and to the collective unconscious, as the veil separating the conscious and unconscious grows more diaphanous now. Or for those who are more spiritually inclined, it’s likely that meditation or contemplation could yield important insights and benefits during this period. And if nothing else, this is sure a time to watch your dreams!

(1) Editor’s note: There were six planets in Aquarius in early February 1962.

Ray Grasse is associate editor of The Mountain Astrologer, and his website is

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Ask an astrologer a question…..

By Anne Whitaker | February 18, 2013

Astrologers are always being asked questions — by clients, by students, by interviewers for various media outlets, by open-minded members of the public, by closed-minded-members of the public, by one’s friends and family. The list is endless, the questions multifarious, the answers….? Well, that depends . . . .

I thought it might be interesting, and fun, to share with TMA blog readers my own answers to a few typical questions I have been asked over the years. Perhaps you might feel like responding with examples of your own!

What is your most memorable personal experience with astrological symbolism?
I remember how gripped and excited I was early on in my work as an astrologer and teacher by the revelatory power of progressions. (I always found Naibod Secondary progressions to work best.) In the early 1990s I was doing a great deal of exploring of my own family horoscopes; an advantage of practising astrology in Scotland is that birth times are written on the birth certificate.

My Midheaven is 29º Taurus and the Ascendant is 9º Virgo. One day, I decided to take the horoscopes of my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather, the grandparents with whom I identify most, and progress them to the day of my birth. To my amazement, BOTH of their progressed Midheavens were 29º Taurus and their progressed Ascendants were 9º Virgo.

I remember being so stunned by this that I had to go out and clear my head with a walk in our local park. What I felt at the time, and still feel about this, remains beyond words to express adequately. It’s as though the wing of a great mystery fleetingly brushed my spirit, mystery shot through with a profound sense of the vast underlying ground of interconnectedness from which all life arises, to which it all returns — of which we humans are privileged to be a part.

It is perhaps unavoidable that, as astrology teachers and practitioners, we become a bit blase and matter-of-fact about our working world from day to day, as everyone does to a greater or lesser extent. But I have found — and I’m sure I’m not alone in this — that every now and then something so profound, so shocking, happens that we are reminded of the power with which we are engaging, and we are knocked sideways by it, just as I was that day.

Your training is in psychological astrology. Are you less interested in the way astrological symbolism can manifest concretely because of this?
No, not at all! In fact, the examples which immediately spring to mind in response to this question are concrete rather than psychological! No surprise that they mostly involve Saturn.

During the 1980s, the last time Saturn was transiting Scorpio, there was a year-long square of Saturn to my natal Moon. No doubt there were serious and profound psychological challenges involving both my own life and clients’ lives at the time. However, most vivid in memory is my lovely, heavy, bright silver neck chain, which, unaccountably, turned black early on in the Saturn/Moon transit. Rather upset by this, I took the chain to two reputable jewelers to be cleaned. Neither of them had any success. It remained a dull black. I almost threw it out, but in the end I stuck it at the back of my jewelry box and forgot about it.

Not long after transiting Saturn had moved away from the square to my Moon, I had occasion, whilst looking for another piece of jewelry, to rummage around at the back of the box. I pulled out that abandoned silver chain and could not believe my eyes. There it was, shining as brightly as ever.

(If the topic of planet/metal affinities interests you, the book to obtain is Nick Kollerstrom’s Astrochemistry: A Study of Metal-planet Affinities.)

The second example comes from a period in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when I was particularly interested in how planets conjunct the Ascendant can tell a very literal story of the circumstances of a person’s birth. I was doing a horoscope reading for a young man who had a 1st-house Saturn very closely conjunct his Sagittarian Ascendant. “Were there restrictive circumstances of a physical or practical nature at the time of your birth?” I asked. “Oh yes!” he replied. “My mother broke her leg not long before I was born and gave birth to me whilst wearing a plaster cast.” But let’s not leave Neptune out, shall we? A friend with Neptune conjunct his Libran Ascendant was born in a fake castle.

What transit always shows up for you in surprising ways?
They all do, especially the long lasting ones. The deep challenges that force our growth lurk, unknown to us, in the realms of the unconscious, just waiting to hitch a ride on the nearest really tough transit. For example, I didn’t think that a ten-year period of constant Neptune transits was going to involve a serious family crisis, total burnout on my part, and an enforced descent into the Underworld for much of that period! However, the good news is that I have now emerged, much improved (unless you ask my husband!).

What advice would you give to someone learning how to read their own chart?
One, there are dozens of ways to evade personal responsibility, so resolve at the outset never to do so by blaming your horoscope or your transits for your difficulties in life.
Two, realise that objectivity is something to be aspired to and can never be achieved by mere human beings. This being the case, try to recognise that you can be most objective, and therefore most helpful, by reading the horoscopes of strangers, provided you have appropriate training and supervision. When approaching your own horoscope, or those of your loved ones, you will inevitably colour the planetary picture before you with your own hopes and fears.
Three, the illuminating light, which is gradually cast as your understanding of the symbols in your chart grows, will be wonderfully helpful in shedding light on your gifts, pains, motivations, and aspirations. But bear in mind that possessing astrological knowledge has a shadow side; for example, I have never known anyone, including myself, who didn’t look at upcoming transits, especially of Saturn and Pluto, without a certain amount of fear.

To help my astrology students with this, I used to point out that 99.9% of the human race, from the beginning of time, has managed to stagger through life without the aid of personal astrology! So, enjoy the fascination of deciphering the astrological map of your life, but don’t get too precious about it. And be aware that this wonderful knowledge has a double edge.

What astrology books do you re-read or use the most?
The two astrologers who have most inspired and educated me have been Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey, with both of whom I was fortunate to study — unofficially from the mid-1980s and formally between 1995 and 1998. As reference books for my interest in mundane astrology, my three favourites are: The Outer Planets and their Cycles by Liz Greene; Anima Mundi – The Astrology of the Individual and the Collective by Charles Harvey, and Mundane Astrology by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion, and Charles Harvey.

My copy of Steven Arroyo’s Astrology, Karma and Transformation, that wonderful in-depth companion on the “stormy journey of the soul,” is now so well-thumbed that it is starting to fall to bits. And when I feel like reading some outrageous, light-hearted, funny, but deadly accurate astrological analysis, I turn to Debbi Kempton-Smith’s Secrets from a Stargazer’s Notebook.

However, accompanying re-engagement with work as an astrologer and teacher, I am now moving into re-framing my relationship with astrology in keeping with the “new paradigm…. emerging in Western civilisation, led by transpersonal psychology, chaos and general evolution theories, and the human potential movement . . . ,” in the words of Armand Diaz, a fine writer and the author of Integral Astrology, which I have recently reviewed. I have also greatly enjoyed reading Bernadette Brady’s book Astrology – a Place in Chaos, which also re-contextualises astrology for the contemporary world. And, having been given The Archetypal Cosmos, by Keiron Le Grice, for Christmas, I am really looking forward to finding the time to read it!

Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She resumed her astrology practice part-time in May 2012 after a very long sabbatical. An extensive archive of her astrology articles can be found on Writing from the Twelfth House in the section Not the Astrology Column.
She can be contacted at

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