TMA This Week

Some thoughts on the astrology of twins

By Anne Whitaker | December 9, 2013

… and an interesting experiment

In a TMA blog post earlier this year, I wrote about some of the most common questions I’ve been asked over many years as an astrologer and astrology teacher. Continuing with that theme, this week’s topic is twins, a perennial favorite for generating tricky questions for astrologers to answer. A classic question from students is: If twins are born so close together that they have almost the same chart, and the same angles, how can astrology account for the very marked differences which one can often notice between them?

It is important at this point to emphasize to readers who are familiar only with Sun signs that to get “beyond the Sun signs” requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place, and time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun sign alone.

A number of years ago, I decided to address the above twins question via a tutorial class I ran for my more advanced students, all of whom had a good grasp of the basics of astrology, and some of whom were already practitioners in their own right.

Introducing the twins experiment

One student — let’s call her Anna — was the devoted aunt to a set of twins in their mid teens, a boy and a girl — let’s call them Angus and Miriam. These two had been born less than fifteen minutes apart and had almost identical horoscopes.

I obtained permission via Anna from Angus and Miriam’s parents, as well as the twins themselves, to calculate their horoscopes and discuss them anonymously in class. This was a great opportunity to test out an impression I had formed regarding how individual differences in twins come about, and how they manifest.

My method was to put up on the board only one horoscope, since there was so little difference between the twins’ birth charts. I then asked the students to take an hour to prepare along with me a basic outline of the core characteristics revealed by this one horoscope. We did the preparation as though we were preparing a birth chart for just one person.

Neither I nor the class knew anything about either of the twins. I asked Anna to observe us, but not to make any comments at all. Once we had written up the outline, we spent the next hour discussing our findings with Anna, who knew her nephew and niece well.

What was the outcome?

I am writing this after a gap of about 20 years and no longer have the notes for detailed reference, so can only summarize the essence of what emerged from our discussion.

Anna found our summary from the one horoscope of the basic characteristics of both her nephew and niece to be very accurate. It was clear that certain traits were held in common, but that the rest were, as it were, divided up between the twins. To put it very simply, looking at a range of traits: 1, 2, 3, and 4 were recognizable in both; Miriam manifested traits 5, 6, and 10 whilst Angus lived out traits 7, 8, and 9.

This very interesting and enlightening experiment does not, of course, constitute any kind of scientific proof. However, it bore out my impression from a range of sources: reading and watching television programs about the similarities and differences in the lives of twins; observations of twins I had come across; and the few horoscope readings I had done for individuals who were twins.

My impression

What was this impression? Using the analogy of the horoscope revealing the characters poised on life’s stage, waiting for the moment of birth to kick start the action of the play, it seemed to me that twins unconsciously chose which characters on their joint stage they were going to live out jointly and which they were going to live out separately. The mechanism by which these choices were made is unknowable. However, time and time again, one sees in the lives of twins the same broad pattern as was revealed in our class experiment.

After writing this piece, I Googled “astrology and twins” and was pleased to find on one of my favorite astrology sites, Astrodienst, that other astrologers, including Dr. Liz Greene, had come to much the same conclusion.

To read much more detail on this fascinating and complex topic, do go over to master astrologer Donna Cunningham’s blog, Sky Writer, where she has an excellent piece on the astrology of twins.

Then come back and let me know what you think! I’d be especially interested in hearing from you if you are a twin, or have twin siblings, or have a life partner who is a twin, or indeed any direct experience of observing twins in whatever context. In a short article like this, I can only explore one facet of a fascinating topic, so feedback which might extend and deepen our understanding as astrologers — and members of the public— would be most welcome.


Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London,UK. Anne blogs at Writing from the Twelfth House and She returned to her astrological practice in May 2012 after a very long sabbatical.



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Elizabeth Smart’s story

By Mary Plumb | November 11, 2013

Elizabeth Smart was abducted on June 5, 2002 when she was 14. She was held prisoner and sexually abused every day for nine months.

She is very forthcoming about her “nine months in hell” in her newly published memoir, My Story (October 2013). (1)

Smart said in a recent CNN interview: “I wanted it to be really what happened and what it was like every single day I was there, because I don’t think I’m doing anyone any favors by sugarcoating it.” (2)

She has become a highly visible activist for children who have been abducted and sexually abused. “Her goal as a public figure is to make ‘talking about rape and abuse not such a taboo.'” (3)

Elizabeth Smart was born on November 3, 1987. The Scorpio Sun that day was newly infused by its conjunction to Pluto the day before. (4) The Moon was in Aries the entire day she was born, and Venus moved from 29° Scorpio into Sagittarius in the afternoon of her birth.

Elizabeth Smart natal sunrise

Elizabeth Smart was raised in a close Mormon family. Transiting Neptune at 10° Aquarius squared her natal Sun five times between April 2002 and November 2003. Aside from disappearing from her life in the middle of the night, another image of that combination is her abductor’s claim to be obeying God’s orders in taking her and raping her. She knew differently. “My parents have always raised me believing in a kind and loving God who cares about each of his children here on earth,” she said in an interview. “When I was kidnapped and being told that all of these things were done because God commanded it — it made my personal faith stronger, because I knew God would never demand these things.” She said her belief in God was never swayed or negatively impacted by the experience, a different testament to Neptune. (5)

She was abducted on June 5, 2002. There was a solar eclipse on June 10 at 19°54’ Gemini. Saturn was at 18°34’ Gemini, conjunct the eclipse and about to make the (only) opposition to natal Saturn at 18°48’ Sag, exact on June 11. The transiting south node was on natal Saturn in the 2nd house (solar chart); the eclipse triggered a staggering loss (SN) of her security and physical safety.

bi-wheel: E Smart natal, solar eclipse June 10, 2002

Elizabeth Smart was born very close to Mercury stationing direct. Retrograde at birth (28° Libra), Mercury turned direct on November 6; by secondary progression she would have been about 3 years old.

Mercury ingressed into Scorpio on November 12, 1987 — by secondary progression, she was about age 9 years old, sometime close to the fateful moment of the half-nodal return. The bearer of messages and traveler between worlds left the land of beauty and balance (Libra) and joined the Sun and Pluto in the land of a sometimes gruesome underworld. Her inner resources were deepening.

While she was held by her captors, transiting Pluto began to conjoin natal Saturn. Although that certainly took her to the hell realms, it also showed her tremendous fortitude — the first passage was in January 2003. In interviews, she speaks about the fear that kept her from trying to escape. She is adamant about not judging: “You can never judge a child or a victim of any crime on what they should have done, because you weren’t there and you don’t know and you have no right just to sit in your armchair at home and say ‘Well, why didn’t you escape? Why didn’t you do this?’ I mean, they just don’t know.” (6)

She was recognized and freed on March 12, 2003, the day after Uranus’s ingress into Pisces — what an answer to prayer that must have felt like to the deeply religious girl and her family. Transiting Mars (dispositor of natal Sun and Moon) was at 5° Capricorn, conjoining natal Neptune 5°49’ Capricorn: Mars severed the entrapment (Neptune).

Scorpio has continued in her story. Since her rescue (when she was 15), progressed Mercury conjoined natal and progressed Pluto in 2004 and 2005 (she was 17 or 18). She also had a progressed New Moon at 28°24’ Scorpio sometime between October 2004 and October 2005. (Working with a sunrise chart, I can’t be more specific about the time.) Significantly, the themes of healing, rebirth, darkness, and the taboo of sexuality are generating this relatively new 30-year cycle of her life. Mars, dispositor of the Scorpio Sun and Aries Moon, was in Libra at her birth. Mars also ingressed into Scorpio in May 2008.

She was married on February 18, 2012. (The transiting Sun was on her natal Juno at 24° Aquarius.) In the New Yorker interview she said: “There’s a huge difference between rape and sex. Having experienced both, I know it’s not the same thing.”

Transiting Saturn has been on natal Pluto and the Sun throughout 2013; the last exact passage was in October. Saturn has escorted her harrowing and redemptive story into form.

Her book was published in the month before last week’s solar eclipse, which happened on her birthday, November 3, 2013. The eclipse was at 11°15’ Scorpio. (The Sun on the day she was born traveled between 10°19’ and 11°19’ Scorpio.)

Margaret Talbot, author of the New Yorker article, writes: “Smart presents herself as a pure girl who emerged from degradation purer still – stronger but somehow still innocent.” (7)

Many happy returns to Elizabeth Smart.


(1) Huffington Post

(2) CNN

(3) Gone Girl: The extraordinary resilience of Elizabeth Smart
New Yorker

(4) November 3, 1987; Salt Lake City, Utah; time unknown Source: Wikipedia

(5) The Blaze

(6) The Blaze

(7) Scorpio’s obvious presence aside, her prenatal Sun-Mars conjunction was part of a stellium in Virgo: Sun and Mars at 1°34 Virgo, Venus at 2°, Mercury at 6°, and the Moon at 10°.

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The Miseducation of Miley Cyrus?

By Frank Clifford | October 28, 2013

So often, successful people in control of their business and/or influencing their generation have Pluto prominent (in particular, conjunctions or hard aspects to the Moon or Mercury). In addition, publicly successful people often have Ascendant and MC complexes in dialogue (e.g. MC ruler conjunct Ascendant or its ruler), or making repetitive statements, (e.g. MC ruler in major aspect to the MC).

These signatures are present in the chart of controversial actress-singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus. Miley has the Moon and Mercury conjunct Pluto in Scorpio. Her MC in Aquarius conjuncts co-ruler Saturn, and Ascendant ruler Venus conjuncts MC co-ruler Uranus (along with Neptune). (Chart below)

Before recent events, Cyrus was best known to fans of her show Hannah Montana and established herself as one of the most successful teen idols of her generation. She was named “Destiny Hope” because her parents believed she would accomplish great things, and was later nicknamed “Smiley.” All three names “speak” her chart with the Sun in Sagittarius and Jupiter in the 5th house exactly trine her MC. When a parent has notable achievements of their own, or has a belief that the child will be accomplished, or those parental expectations are perceived as burdensome, we often see natal Saturn–MC aspects; this is also a signature for those who tend to be judged according to the accepted values of the day. Miley is the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus (whose line dancing song Achy Breaky Heart was a smash hit the year she was born), godchild of Dolly Parton, and granddaughter of Republican politician Ronald Ray Cyrus.

At eight, she decided to become an actress and soon won a role on her father’s TV series Doc. By 11, she had auditioned for the lead in Hannah Montana, a Disney show about a schoolgirl who leads a double life as a teen pop star. The show aired on March 26, 2006 and became, along with its star, a sensational study in mass marketing and a $1 billion franchising and merchandising phenomenon (including clothing, jewelry, dolls – you name it). A 3D concert film of her tour, a further TV series, and a handful of films followed, making her (at the time) the richest teen celebrity in the world.

When Neptune transited across her Equal 10th house cusp (28° Aquarius) in 2010, savvy Cyrus began to break free of her wholesome figure — for so long crafted with care by Disney — and received much attention and criticism for her new-found risqué sexual image. Adopting the Scorpio emphasis in her chart and the provocative/scandalous mix of Uranus–Neptune conjunct her chart ruler Venus, Cyrus shed the last vestiges of her wholesome image in 2012, a year she also changed labels and manager. This willfulness peaked in 2013 with a controversial performance writhing around with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 25 — just days after the Full Moon at 28° Aquarius made a conjunction to her Equal 10th house cusp.

When Sinéad O’Connor (born December 8, 1966) wrote an open letter to Cyrus (on October 2, 2013) asking her to reject the music industry’s attempts to make a prostitute of her, Cyrus responded by mocking O’Connor’s recent struggles with suicidal depression and mental ill health. This led to further open letters (and the threat of legal action) from O’Connor on her website. Their synastry is apt, with Scorpio planets conjunct each other, and Cyrus’s solar arc directed Scorpio–Sagittarius planets crossing over Sinead’s Sun and Venus in outspoken Sagittarius. (Text continues after these two charts.)

O'Conner sunrise

Perhaps O’Connor’s mistake is in thinking that Cyrus is being manipulated by the industry, when in fact (and more in line with her chart) she may be expressing her generation’s overtly sexual Pluto signature.

So how is the recent scandal seen in her natal chart? Although the current secondary progressions are unspectacular, her solar arc directed Neptune has reached 8° Aquarius, exactly on her natal MC (Uranus will follow suit in 2015). Also, this year and next, transiting Uranus and Pluto activate natal Venus at 12° Capricorn, and transiting Saturn travels through Scorpio. In her lecture at the UK’s Astrological Association Conference in September 2013, Darby Costello likened Saturn in Scorpio to the story of Medusa and how she is depicted pictorially with a protruding tongue. It’s a pose Cyrus has adopted recently on stage and in a set of sexually explicit photographs published in October 2013.

What do you make of Miley’s talent, her current image and behaviour as seen in her natal chart and transits, directions and progressions?

Miley Cyrus, born November 23, 1992 at 16:19 CST (+6), Nashville, Tennessee, USA (36n10, 86w47). Source: Frank Clifford quotes a note from the Tennessee vital registry office, copy on file (Destiny Hope Cyrus). RR: AA.
Sinéad O’Connor, born December 8, 1966, Dublin, Ireland, sunrise chart. Source: Wikipedia

Bio: Frank Clifford writes the Horoscope Detective column in The Mountain Astrologer and recently acted as Guest Editor for its Interpretation issue (June-July 2013). Frank’s dozen books include Getting to the Heart of Your Chart (on chart synthesis and interpretation). A data collector and researcher, he compiled the Clifford Data Compendium for Solar Fire in 1997. His websites are and London School of Astrology

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Forensic Mercury: Retrograde in Scorpio

By Melanie Reinhart | October 20, 2013

October 1 – November 27, 2013

The final Mercury retrograde cycle of 2013 covers the zone from 2°-19° Scorpio, entering on October 1st, 2013 and leaving on November 27, 2013. Here are the dates for the full arc of the cycle, from the day on which Mercury passes the degree where it will later turn direct, through until the next Superior (or Exterior) conjunction.

1) October 1 – Mercury at 2°29′ Scorpio, the degree of later SD (November 10)

2) October 21 – Mercury turns retrograde at 18°24′ Scorpio

3) November 1 – Mercury Rx conjunct the Sun at 9°34′ Scorpio

4) November 10 – Mercury turns direct at 2°29′ Scorpio

5) November 20 – Mercury passes the degree of recent conjunction (November 1)

6) November 27 – Mercury passes the degree of the recent SRx, October 21

7) December 29 – Mercury direct conjunct the Sun at 7°41′ Capricorn

It might surprise you to see the extended period of time mentioned above, as usually we only pay attention when Mercury is actually retrograde, and only for about 21 days, covering about 16°-18° of the zodiac. However, being aware of the whole arc of Mercury’s movement gives us some very useful information, hints on “pacing,” a good basis for decision-making, an opportunity to review things, plus a way of understanding and wisely managing the ebb and flow of situations in our lives.

This particular arc of Mercury is a very interesting one, as it takes in the conjunction of Saturn and the North Node. Indeed, over a few days around the beginning of November, there is a multiple conjunction in the sign of Scorpio, with Sun, Moon, Node, Saturn, and Mercury! This period also sees a solar eclipse (November 3) and the fourth exact square (seven total) of Uranus and Pluto, this one being important because it’s the middle of the sequence.

So the overall Mercury cycle has a tone of heightened intensity. During these times of culmination, escalation, intensification, exaggeration, and proliferation, it is to the “inner planets” that we can perhaps most usefully turn. Astronomically, there are only TWO “proper” inner planets — Mercury and Venus — and, as such, they partake of a profound symbolism, offering us “ways in” to our own inner world when all around seems to be buffeting us about. Paying wise attention to our thoughts (Mercury) can go a long way to offsetting some of the pressures of the collective process.

Here is a short list of all the main conjunctions that occur during this time. (All times are in GMT.)

Below are graphics of this period: one section for each month, October to December. Mercury is the purple line — see it weaving through the other lines (Node, Saturn, Sun, and the Moon sweeping diagonally through) and notice how bunched up they are.

Scorpio, ruled by Mars and Pluto, is a sign with uncompromising dedication to truth, especially as regards what has been previously hidden from sight. The underside is revealed — of ourselves, others, and situations — and we are given the courage to encompass the “dark view.” This leads to a release of bound energy (Scorpio is a fixed sign), and transformation can occur. We may see “through the glass darkly” at this time, and it is important to recognise, Scorpio style, that this is not the whole of reality. The eagle is often associated with Scorpio, and is also the bird of Zeus/Jupiter, ruler of the next sign, Sagittarius. The eagle represents the precise, penetrating, and “forensic” view of the Scorpion, as fresh intuition arises refreshed from seeing and feeling the “dark truth” that enables us to move on.

Mercury’s conjunction with Saturn and the North Node suggests “messages” about our destiny and the capacity to see through the collective delusions that assail us, especially from the media. We focus, forensic style, on the details of what we need to deal withand eliminate the rest, Scorpio style. We are executive rather than speculative, sober rather than over-excited, spare with words rather than talkative, disciplined rather than self-indulgent, narrow rather than broad in our focus. We recognise the power of our choices, not only about external situations, but, crucially, about how we approach our own experience. We get a sense of how it is to be profoundly engaged while remaining detached, feeling deeply without drowning.

Let’s “take it from the top” and explore the seven stages of Mercury’s Rx cycle

1. October 1, 2013 – Mercury at 2°29′ Scorpio, the degree where it will later SD, on November 10.

We enter the “field” of Mercury’s retrograde cycle.


If you work regularly with these cycles, you will be able to feel when Mercury enters the “sensitive zone” of the zodiac where its forthcoming retrogradation will occur. Indeed, it makes sense to prepare for this journey.

Hermes, the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Mercury after whom the planet is named, was the only one of the Olympian gods who had free right of passage through all realms — from the depths of the Underworld, domain of Pluto/Hades, right up to the snowy heights of Mount Olympus, presided over by Zeus.

The picture below shows a mix of light and dark, the hallmark of Mercury’s nature.

By noticing the zodiac sign of Mercury, and any aspects it makes to transiting planets, plus locating its trajectory in our own natal charts, we can get some idea of what kind of territory Mercury will be asking us to travel, and prepare accordingly. For he is the “Guide of Souls,” and if we follow his prompts, we can be sure of an “interesting journey” that may result in profound insights, new connections, quirky, annoying, or amusing events and surprises, welcome or unwelcome, or indeed both!

Remember: Mercury prefers questions to answers, so ask yourself the important questions at this time. And get a sense of what is being asked of you.

Mercury is the weaver between the opposites, like the snakes that wind around the healing staff or caduceus.

His job is to assist travellers on the path of awareness, and to keep the energy moving so that situations develop to fruition, ideas are generated, and important communications are facilitated, both inwardly and outwardly. Also, we may be tripped up with glitches — computers crash, we lose our cell phone or it’s stolen, emails don’t arrive, we are clumsy verbally and cause offence, we jump to wrong conclusions and have to back down and admit we were wrong, we miss meetings, plans go awry, travel arrangements scramble.

You will find plenty of “warnings” about this kind of thing, leading to the Mercury Rx cycle generally getting “bad press”!

However, let’s take a different view here …

Each Mercury Rx cycle is a unique opportunity to shift level, to undergo an inner journey that will enrich our understanding, to free up energy and create momentum in our lives in the particular area of our own horoscope where it is active. So it will focus on and “implant” a set of qualities, as described by the sign(s) of the zodiac in which it’s located.

Rule of thumb …

If you are experiencing a Mercury Rx cycle through a flurry of glitches and things misfiring in general, just STOP your momentum, as in the phrase “Don’t just do something, sit there”! Very often, these Mercurial “signals” are prompts to slow down (as Mercury does when turning), change gear, turn around (as he does) and be reflective rather than active for a while.

The “Re”- words…

Many words that have the prefix “re” describe the processes of Mercury’s Rx cycle, and also give us clues as to how we can best engage with these energies. Here is a list of such words and perhaps you can have some (Mercurial!) fun finding more. Do post them in the comments below!!

Re-flect — Re-examine — Re-view — Re-consider — Re-turn — Re-cognize — Re-do — Re-think — Re-spect — Re-value — Re-vamp — Re-capitulate — Re-model — Re-start — Re-finish — Re-cycle — Re-member — Re-jig — Re-fashion — Re-imagine — Re-cover — Re-habilitate — Re-join — Re-ignite — Re-kindle — Re-form — Re-quire — Re-make — Re-flect — Re-examine — Re-view — Re-make —Re-consider — Re-turn — Re-cognize — Re-do — Re-think — Re-spect — Re-value — Re-vamp — Re-capitulate — Re-model — Re-start — Re-finish — Re-cycle — Re-member — Re-jig — Re-fashion — Re-furbish — Re-cover — Re-join — Re-ignite — Re-kindle — Re-form — Re-quire —Re-veal — Re-solve — Re-design — Re-act — Re-collect — Re-gurgitate — Re-boot — Re-search — Re-move — Re-locate — Re-establish — Re-negotiate — Re-lease — Re-connaissance — Regard — Re-capitalize — Re-wire — Re-birth — Re-set — Re-enter — Re-present — Re-post — Re-cap — Re-enforce — Re-evaluate — Re-build — Re-apply — Re-store — Re-read — Re-generate — Re-new — Re-open — Re-define — Re-align ———  etc!


With thanks to the many people who sent in words when this article was first posted on my website! Here are lots more of those “Re” words with the countries they arrived from.

  Re-solve, Re-design
  Re-act — Re-collect — Re-gurgitate  — Re-boot — Re-search
  Re-move — Re-locate — Re-establish — Re-negotiate — Re-lease —?Re-connaissance — Re-gard — Re-capitalize —
  Re-wire — Re-birth —
  Re-set —
  Re-enter — Re-present — Re-post — Re-cap — Re-enforce — Re-open — Re-evaluate — Re-build — Re-apply — Re-store — Re-read — Re-new — Re-generate — Re-define — Re-align
  Re-transmit — Re-connect — Re-ask — Re-hear — Re-play — Re-studyRe-explain — Re-explore — Re-bound — Re-concile — Re-ceive —Re-understand — Re-discern — Re-analyze — Re-observe —Re-stimulate —


(If you think of more “Re” words do post them in the comments below, and let us know which country you’re writing from so yours can be added.)



As Mercury is the “traveller between the worlds” and can move everywhere “sans frontiers,” getting a sense of where he is going in terms of your own chart is useful. Look up the house where Scorpio is located. For example, if Mercury is crossing your Midheaven, you may be re-thinking various things about your professional life. Decisions mature, opportunities arise, situations clarify, you bring nagging concerns fully into view and deal with them. Things may turn “upside-down.” If Mercury is crossing your IC, you might action a long-standing wish to re-decorate your home, or to put some energy into family relationships you’ve neglected.

Watery Underworld — The Door  Photo: M. Reinhart, 2012

Wherever Mercury travels, be aware that depths may open up. Prepare yourself and your life so that you can benefit from and bring healing to yourself and others through this knowledge.

2. October 21 – Mercury turns Retrograde at 18°24′ Scorpio 

Turning within, towards the darkness …

During the period where Mercury is actually Rx, we can experiment with keeping 80% or more of our attention focused inwardly, on our own field of experience. We may discover, to our surprise, that most of what we do in our lives can be achieved by engaging the remaining 20%. Habitually, we live with those percentages reversed, with 80% or more of our attention going ‘out’, so we become seduced, lost, stretched out, exhausted, embroiled in the outer world. Especially during the ‘interesting times’ we are living through, the media exerts a direct and compelling influence over our state of mind, if we allow it to.

Switch it off …

Get curious — have a “technology fast.” Just switch it off. Experiment with silent days, computer-free days, iPhone free days, put your email account on auto-reply. Go further if you feel like a (Scorpio!) challenge … don’t speak, read, or write for an hour, a day, a week. Whatever makes sense for your lifestyle.

Even if you live a really busy life, fully engaged with family, friends, and work, with a little forward planning and ingenuity you will find small “windows,” places and times, to “switch off the world” and commune with your soul.

Even better … practice doing this in the midst of “it all.”

Be “online” inwardly and notice how your world and your life seem from this “Underworld” perspective.

Listen, and Hear …

Hermetic Silence – Bocchuis 1574

Try being “in the world but not of it” rather than being “of the world, but not in it”!

Befriending …

Look for the dark, stuck places in the soul and hang out there. Get a sense of the qualities, somatic location, tone, and frequency of these hidden areas. There’s no need to “do anything,” just acknowledge your own perceptions and reactions. These “tucked away corners” will just love to be receiving your kindly attention and may yield unexpected blessings and surprises, basking in some warmth after being shut away in the icy wastelands of “frozen Scorpio.”

Here, the purpose is not about “getting rid of” anything, although this may be our habitual attitude when sensing these dark and unfamiliar places. We approach these parts of the soul as we would a frightened kitten — quietly, soothingly, with open and friendly intent, and perhaps a saucer of milk. We listen for the silent language of this “unknown other” and make ourselves available in good heart.

3. November 1 – Mercury Rx conjunct the Sun at 9°34′ Scorpio 


The conjunction with Mercury and the Sun is a precious time of “seeding.” Notice with precision and care what “crosses your path” around this date. Who comes into your life like the “Messenger” of Mercury, who is, after all, the “Messenger of the Gods”? What situations present? Most importantly, pay attention to dreams, reveries, and intuitions. And journal this bit, as it might bring fleeting impressions that are difficult to “catch by the tail.” However, you’ll delight in seeing how the ingredients of this time are reflected at the forthcoming Superior Conjunction on December 29, 2013.

For example, someone struggling with the application forms for a course around the Inferior Conjunction was notified that her application had been successful at around the Superior Conjunction. Or, at the Inferior Conjunction we give up on something that clearly isn’t working, and something else, new and unconsidered, presents itself at the Superior Conjunction. You get the picture!

4. November 10 – Mercury turns direct at 2°29′ Scorpio 


What gift will we take with us from the previous 21 days of Mercury being retrograde? The Universe is always ready to bestow its gifts, only asking that we are willing to receive them. With Mercury in Scorpio, the image of “buried treasure” comes to mind. The “treasure” may have been located at the Inferior Conjunction (November 1) and we’ve been carrying it up from the Underworld since then.

5. November 20 – Mercury passes the Inferior Conjunction degree (Nov 1) 


We see the direction of things, accept the Guidance, start planning, get curious about the outcomes. We are still “in the journey.” Reflect on the notion, found in many mystical traditions, that “the Traveller, the Road, and the Destination” are One. What does this mean to you? And where, actually, are we going, really, truly? If anywhere?

6. November 27 – Mercury passes the degree of recent SRx (Oct. 21)


We marvel at the interior “seeding” that has taken place, and the magical process of how life events and experiences are unfolding. What or who is it that makes all this occur?

7. December 29 – Mercury direct conjunct the Sun at 7°41′ Capricorn. 


We notice fruition and gives thanks for what “works” in our lives, as well as accepting “what doesn’t work”! This conjunction is in Saturn’s sign, and near to transiting Pluto, so take care not to distort your view of things to include only the “half empty glass”! And understand that it’s largely a matter of our definition anyway … we can always train ourselves to re-focus the lens, without lapsing into denial of the “other.”


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 JourneyChiron, Saturn and the CentaursIncarnation, 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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The Uranus-Pluto Squares: Serving the Needs of an Epoch

By Gary P. Caton | September 16, 2013

“The essential task of astrologers should be to
interpret human life in terms of the needs of the epoch.”
 – Alexander Ruperti (1)

In my last post on TMA’s blog, I predicted “the triggers for the Syrian crisis could very likely be transiting Sun, Mercury, and/or Mars to the charts of Obama and/or the July 4, 1776 charts. One time in particular to watch will be the period around September 12, as Mercury moves ahead of the Sun by 15 degrees. Hellenistic astrologers called this ‘phasis,’ or an appearance, as Mercury returns to visibility around this time.” (1) On September 9, just a few days before Mercury’s official appearance, a perspicacious remark by a news reporter (Mercury) changed everything about the direction of the Syrian crisis, turning it from an imminent military strike into a diplomatic discussion. (2) This change in direction happened as Mercury crossed 0° Libra, the autumnal equinox point, part of the World, or Mundane, axis. The tropical zodiac is based on the seasonal “turning points” of the equinoxes and solstices. “Tropical” probably derives from the Greek word tropos, meaning to spin or turn. Because the cardinal points mark the places of the turning of the seasons, world events often seem to turn in accord with planets crossing these foundational places in the tropical zodiac. For instance, the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened in March 2011 as Mercury crossed the vernal point (i.e., 0° Aries) in conjunction with transiting Uranus.
Chart: bi-wheel: U.S. chart, July 4, 1776, sunrise and transits for September 9, 2013
(The Uranus-Pluto conjunction at 16° Virgo on June 30, 1966 is also noted.)

In the transit chart for September 9 (outer wheel), we see the Sun crossing the degrees of the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunctions, which were in 1965-1966 at 17°-18° Virgo. This signifies world leaders (Sun) being forced to confront some of the collective issues of our times (Uranus-Pluto). We can also see that transit Mercury is square natal Venus in the chart of the U.S. cast for July 4, 1776 (sunrise). Venus symbolizes diplomacy in a mundane chart and the U.S. natal Venus at 2° Cancer is also on the cardinal or World axis. Transit Venus is in her own sign of Libra, thereby transferring some of her natural dignity to Mercury upon his ingress into Libra (a concept known as co-presence in Hellenistic astrology). Although it is more than any of us may have expected, or even hoped for, the significations for this event are therefore clearly stated in the transits to the July 4, 1776 chart.
Also, since transiting Mercury is 13° ahead of the transit Sun, Mercury is approaching a crucial turning point in its cycle. In Hellenistic astrology, if a planet will make the 15° separation from the Sun within a week, it is considered to be in “phasis,” or making an appearance, and the chart is seen to be saturated with the significations of that planet. Both the July 4, 1776 chart for the U.S. and the chart for September 9, 2013 meet these requirements: Mercury was 15° from the Sun on July 1, 1776 and on September 12, 2013 – both less than seven days from the events of the Declaration of Independence and the turning point in the Syrian crisis. Therefore, Mercury has overwhelmed and saturated an issue that had previously been considered only a Mars matter (a military strike as the only option) with Mercury’s signification of communication.

This coming together via communication is also a signification of what I call the Mercury Elemental Year of Water. (4) Because all three Mercury retrogrades are happening in water signs this year, Mercury spends much more time in water signs than the other signs. One of the primary qualities of water is moistness and cohesiveness. This also happens to be true of the year 1776. Both years represented opportunities for messages and messengers to find new levels of cohesion.

Furthermore, with the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunctions moving from Aries (1850-1851) to Virgo (1965-1966), we can see that the choice of communication over belligerence is clearly in alignment with the needs of our epoch. The day after Mercury reached 15° of separation from the Sun, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. (5)

I use a chart for Russia similar to the one used by Adrian Ross Duncan (6), for December 25, 1991 at 7:32 p.m., the moment the new flag was raised over the Kremlin in Moscow. (7) The following chart shows this horoscope for the “new” Russia on the inside; the July 4, 1776 chart for the U.S. next; the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in the third ring, and finally, in the outer ring, the transits for September 14, 2013, the day of the proposal agreement.
Chart: Inner: “new” Russia; 2nd: U.S. July 4, 1776; 3rd: Uranus-Pluto conjunction; outer: transits for September 14, 2013.

We can see in the outer wheel that transiting Mercury in Libra, still in “phasis,” or in the process of making a dramatic appearance out from under the Sun’s beams, is also in a t-square with the epochal Uranus-Pluto squares. This transit t-square is also in alignment with the nodal axis of the horoscope for Russia. Russia’s nodes are located at 9° Capricorn/Cancer; Mercury in the transit chart for the agreement is at the South Bending of Russia’s natal nodal axis. Perhaps this means we are finally leaving behind the belligerence of the previous epoch — the period between the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in Aries/1850-1851 and Virgo/1965-1966) — which saw two World Wars. Another hopeful sign that this may be true is the Venus/North Node/Saturn conjunction in Scorpio happening at the North Bending of the U.S. natal nodal axis at 6° Leo/Aquarius. Perhaps we’re seeing a defining moment of a new direction for the U.S. I have often said that alignments with/to the nodes represent opportunities for us to “renegotiate our sacred contracts.” (8)

Please, make no mistake, this author is far from naïve or unaware of the many hidden undercurrents and possibilities this alignment in Scorpio represents. There are numerous reasons to believe that this agreement may not be what it appears to be; the real issue here may have more to do with U.S. and Russian interests regarding oil and/or the dollar as the default currency for oil sales, aka the “petrodollar.” (9) Recently I have stated in at least two different public forums that I’m afraid political issues often serve as a veil that keeps us from seeing the incredibly simple and profound primary need of our epoch.

The Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in Virgo in 1965-1966 were the first conjunctions of this pair not to occur in fire signs for more than 700 years. (10) Shortly after this long reign of fire was ended by conjunctions in an earth sign, we humans saw the entire Earth from space for the first time. (11) The first photograph of a “full” Earth, known as the “Blue Marble Shot,” which became the inspiration for Earth Day, holds the secret to the most fundamental — dare I say elemental — need of our epoch. Virgo is the sign of proper stewardship of resources and of efficiency, order, and cleanliness being next to godliness. The gross excesses of the fiery Industrial Age must now be controlled and cleaned up if we are to have any hope of living harmoniously in alignment with the needs of our epoch and our planet.

In fact, when you look at the entire cycle of the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions through the four elements, an interesting economic pattern emerges. The last time the conjunctions occurred in earth signs (approximately 800 BC to 181 BC), as they are now, was when coinage of precious metals became the dominant currency. Copper, silver, and gold formed three tiers of coins for common, business, and state transactions. This system lasted through the air period that followed (from 181 BC to 582 AD). Many of the economic innovations that define our modern economy were introduced in the medieval Islamic world between the 7th and 12th centuries AD. (12) This period was defined by Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in water signs (from 582-1201 AD). It wasn’t until the 17th century that paper money entered Europe during the fire period (from 1343 until 1965).
After the earth conjunctions began in 1965, the U.S. abandoned the gold standard, which tied its currency to precious metal deposits, and instead negotiated an alliance via Saudi Arabia where the U.S. dollar would be tied to oil. Enter the petrodollar. Of course, this is in alignment with the July 4, 1776 horoscope for the U.S., which has Neptune at 22° Virgo conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Although an economy based on the burning of fossil fuels is not in alignment with the epoch defined by conjunctions in earth signs, this author is hopeful that the U.S. will continue to take the first baby steps under these waxing Uranus-Pluto squares away from the belligerence, waste, and pollution of the previous fire period toward a more sustainable future defined by alternative energies and the power of the pen over the sword. Perhaps then the fruits of the current cycle, which we are destined to reap at the waning squares (2064–2065), will be somewhat less bitter than those of the previous waning square cycle (1932-1934).

References & Recommended reading:

(1) Bell, Lynn, “A Conversation with Alexander Ruperti,”
TMA Dec/Jan 1997/98 #76 –pg 34.

(2) The Uranus Pluto Squares: A Crisis in Action
(3) Mediaite

(4) The Mercury Elemental Year 2013
(5) Washington Post
(6) World of Wisdom
(7) NY Times
(8) Tuning into the Subtler Signals in the Sky
(9) See Eric Francis Coppolino’s excellent and well researched astro-reporting from the last two issues of Planet Waves.
Planet Waves
Planet Waves
(10) Jenkins, Palden
Astrological Cycles in History

Uranus-Pluto cycles and the storms of history
(11) The Atlantic

(12) Wikipedia
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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The Uranus/Pluto Squares: A “Crisis in Action”

By Gary P. Caton | September 2, 2013

“The essential task of astrologers should be to
interpret human life in terms of the needs of the epoch.”

-Alexander Ruperti (1)

In my lecture tours criss-crossing the country over the last few years, one of the mainstays has been a series on the often overlooked, under-valued, and misunderstood planet, Mercury. (2) One of the best received lectures in this series has been “The Importance of Mercury to our Epoch.” I think people like it because I outline Mercury’s contribution within a framework they are more familiar with: the cycles of the outer planets. In this way, the lecture makes for an excellent introduction to the deeper mysteries of the Trickster planet.

One of the primary ways we define an epoch in astrology is via the outer planets. They are also called “generational planets” because their long, slow movements tie together collective themes. There are three fundamental outer-planet cycles we can follow: Neptune-Pluto, Uranus-Neptune, and Uranus-Pluto. Interestingly, two of these three cycles are currently anchored in signs ruled by Mercury. The most recent Neptune-Pluto conjunction was in 1891-92 at 8° – 9° Gemini, and the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunction was in 1965-66 at 17° – 18° degrees of Virgo.

When interpreting the needs of our epoch, we should be talking about the sign Virgo and its ruler, Mercury, as much as (if not more than) Aries and Capricorn, the signs of the current Uranus-Pluto squares. Since this Uranus-Pluto cycle began with conjunctions in Virgo, if we want to understand the deeper energies and issues of our times, we should look back to where the squares have come from.

(Editor’s note: This chart shows the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo, their current positions in Aries and Capricorn and their midpoint in Aquarius)

A perfect case study of this principle is President Barack Obama, with his natal Mars conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction degrees. He was elected in 2008, in part because he promised to end the wars in which we were engaged. And yet with his natal Mars conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions, during the current Uranus-Pluto squares he has been faced twice (previously in Libya) with the need to initiate military actions of his own. On August 21, as the transiting Sun and Mercury (25° – 27° Leo) moved through the midpoint of the transiting Uranus-Pluto square (26° Aquarius), there was a horrible chemical weapons attack in Syria, killing more than a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The transit Sun-Mercury of the attack was also on President Obama’s natal Uranus/North Node conjunction (26° Leo). Since then, the Obama administration has responded boldly with frank accusations. Secretary of State Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a thug and murderer,” unequivocally blaming him for the attack and adding that “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction.” (3) It seems clear from his statements that President Obama feels strongly that we, as a nation, must respond with force to the use of chemical weapons, whether or not there is international support for such an action.

As I write this (August 31), transit Mercury is rapidly moving in on the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunction degrees in mid-Virgo, and President Obama has announced he will seek Congressional approval for military force. As synchronicity displays itself, Congress is scheduled to return to session on September 9, just as the Sun crosses the degrees of the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Yesterday, news arrived that Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending warships into the Mediterranean where U.S. ships have already been staged. (4) This is not terribly surprising, given that Russia is Syria’s most powerful ally, but it seems to this astrologer that perhaps Putin did not get enough satisfaction from foiling Obama’s pursuit of Snowden and is still happy to be the fly in Obama’s ointment. This may be mainly symbolic and say more about the ongoing relationship with our Cold War enemy “heating up” rather than being an iminent danger. But there are fears that a U.S. attack on Syria will be answered with attacks on Israel. (5) In such a volatile region, it certainly seems possible that even a limited U.S. attack could have unintended consequences, probably far-reaching ones.

So, what does the astrology say about how this very touchy situation will play out? A look at President Obama’s chart is not reassuring. Transit Mars is conjunct Obama’s Mercury and in a few days transit Mercury will be conjunct Obama’s Mars (exact on September 4). Even though these transits reflect the fact that he has clearly stated his intention and readiness to strike, it seems hopeful, under such rapidly moving triggers, that the President has taken the considered measure of seeking approval from Congress. What is more troubling is that the midpoint of the transiting Uranus-Pluto squares is precisely on Obama’s natal Uranus (25°16 Leo). This is exact on September 8 and is reflected by the sesquisquares of collective planets, Uranus and Pluto, to Obama’s natal Uranus/North Node. The additional aspects from transiting North Node/Saturn (now conjunct) and Pluto (sextile) to Obama’s natal Neptune do not inspire confidence against the possibility of unintended consequences from President Obama’s well-intentioned military plans.

Chart: Barak Obama natal and transits for August 31, 2013.
(The Uranus-Pluto conjunction at 16° Virgo on June 30, 1966 is also noted.)

Cause for further unease can be found when consulting any national chart for the U.S. cast for July 4, 1776. We see that the U.S. natal Neptune was transited by the 1960’s Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Since this is also activating the U.S. natal Mars-Neptune square, perhaps this sheds light on our continuous propensity to get involved in military quagmires during and since that time period. At the time of the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21, transit Mars was conjunct the natal Mercury of the July 4, 1776 chart. Since our President has previously stated publicly that there is a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons, this foreign attack is personal. Now transit Mars in Leo is applying to the U.S. natal North Node.

Chart: U.S. Sibly and transits for August 31, 2013.

The avid reader of this blog may remember my previous post pointing out that Mercury and Mars are very active during the next year in the solar return for any July 4, 1776 charts, and the historical propensity for enemies to surface under these alignments. (6) From this, one naturally suspects two things. First, the triggers for the Syrian crisis could very likely be transiting Sun, Mercury, and/or Mars to the charts of Obama and/or the July 4, 1776 charts. One time to watch out for is around September 12, as Mercury moves ahead of the Sun by 15 degrees. Hellenistic astrologers called this “phasis,” or an appearance, as Mercury returns to visibility around this time. Shortly thereafter, on September 16, transit Mars makes a conjunction to President Obama’s Sun. Second, even if the U.S. does not attack and manages to steer clear of a quagmire in Syria, the presence of figures like Assad and Putin on the horizon are still very troubling in the long-term. After all, it was during the previous occurrence of the 79-year Mercury/Mars synodic return cycle to the 1776 charts (the same cycle occurring again this year) that Hitler first came to power, and we eventually had to deal with him personally during our national Uranus return to its 1776 natal placement in Gemini.

(1) Bell, Lynn. “A Conversation with Alexander Ruperti,”
TMA Dec/Jan 1997/98, pg. 34.

(2) Recording of these talks can be purchased here

(3) Huffington Post

(4) HuffingtonPost

(5) Time

(6) The 79-Year Cycles of Mercury and Mars in the USA Horoscope by Gary P. Caton

A video of the author’s presentation on themes similar to this article (i.e., the 79-year Mercury/Mars cycle and the Uranus-Pluto squares) can be purchased here

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

Jenkins, Palden, Astrological Cycles in History

Uranus-Pluto cycles and the storms of history

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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Some thoughts on prediction and a personal story..

By Anne Whitaker | August 26, 2013

The question of whether it is possible to foretell the future is one which has preoccupied humans ever since we evolved into self-conscious beings and began to conceptualise past, present, and future — now thought to be around 80,000 years ago. Prediction has been around for a long time. Economists do it. Weather forecasters do it. Politicians do it. Physicists do it. Futurologists do it. 

Most of the foregoing predictors direct scorn and derision at the people who have done it for longer than anyone else: astrologers.

There is several thousand years’ worth of recorded empirical evidence — much of it stored on clay tablets, as yet undeciphered, in the basements of museums across the world — demonstrating that the movements of  the planets in our solar system correlate with particular shifts in “the affairs of men” (Shakespeare’s term, not mine!). 

This empirical observation continues into the present day in the consulting rooms of astrologers across the world. For example, a number of politicians and economists consult astrologers regularly. They are mostly unwilling to admit it, though we astrologers know who they are!

What we can, and cannot, do

Both astrologers and astronomers, via planetary observation, can look at and correctly plot the unfolding pattern of energies through space-time. After that, astrologers step into a different realm than that of observation of the external, material, planetary world. By looking at a section of any points or moments of the past, present, or future via a horoscope, they can examine the essence of that moment in terms of its meaning, and speculate with moderate accuracy about what some of the branches manifesting in the wider world, or in individuals’ lives, may be.

What they can’t do, (with some notable exceptions, which I hope readers of this blog may offer!), is to see exactly, and with consistency, how those branches are going to manifest. Historically, our track record on hindsight is much better than it is on foresight!

There have been some spectacularly accurate predictions made by astrologers in the public realm over the centuries; a famous one was made by Luc Gauricus in 1555 to the effect that King Henry II of France (then aged thirty-seven) was in danger of death in his forty-second year, by a head injury incurred in single combat in an enclosed space. And five years later Henry duly died of a lance splinter which entered his eyes and pierced his brain.

There have also been some spectacular failures, e.g., to predict that the Munich agreement of 1938 would lead to World War II. 

A new model slowly emerging

We do much better at describing the essence of a pattern, but identifying the exact branches is much more hit and miss. Personally this cheers me, since it appears to suggest a creative balance between fate and free will in the universe; chaos theory in contemporary physics also has strong parallels with the astrological paradigm. Both the language of astrology and the language of quantum physics tells us that not everything  is pinned down.

Indeed, a view and a model are slowly emerging, despite considerable resistance from the diehard defenders of reductionism, which can demonstrate convincingly that the lenses of astrology and quantum physics are focusing on the same underlying, all encompassing Reality.  

The perspectives offered by contemporary writers, astrologers, depth psychologists, and scientists, such as Richard Tarnas, Liz Greene, the late Charles Harvey, Stanislav Grof, Brian Swimme, Rupert Sheldrake, and others — including very recent books by astrologers Armand Diaz and Kieron Le Grice — have been of inestimable value to me in the last few years. I urge any readers of this blog who are keen to expand their own perspectives to explore their work.

Consciousness holds the key

My view, based on my personal experiences and those of clients and students over 30 years, as well as extensive reading and study, is that the key dimension in determining how a particular planetary pattern will play out in a person’s life is the level of consciousness at which they are operating at the time the inevitable challenges of life come their way. 

Most astrologers have had the humbling experience of looking at the horoscope of a client which looks so difficult that the impending consultation feels very stressful, but upon encountering the client, they meet someone who has faced, dealt with, and grown through hard experiences that would have flattened a less aware person. We can never predict the level of awareness of a client we have never met, although we can have a pretty good idea that, e.g., Mars conjunct Saturn conjunct Pluto square the Moon is going to be no walk in the park.

I am personally very hesitant about both the accuracy and the wisdom of predicting at all, especially for individuals, in any more than a “describing the core and speculating about the branches” kind of way. Predicting that a specific branch will manifest may well close down possibilities rather than open them up, which also takes us into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, when Uranus was about to cross my Pisces Descendant in 2005, beginning its seven or so years’ traverse of my 7th house, I became concerned about what this might mean for my marriage. The rather problematic implications of Uranus’ impact on the relationship realm that practising astrologers see every day in their students’ and clients’ lives, as well as their own, worried me.

However, a profound, totally unexpected spiritual experience on my husband’s part linked both our spiritual journeys into walking the same path at the same time. This has had a supportive, deepening effect on our marriage and not one I could possibly have envisaged before Uranus crossed my Descendant. 

My personal prediction story

Having just made what I hope is a coherent case for specific prediction being a practice of dubious merit and only intermittent accuracy, here is my own striking experience of being on the receiving end of a specific prediction I never asked for, at a time when I was a typical astrology dismisser, i.e, I considered that astrology was rubbish without ever having taken the trouble to study it.

Bath, Somerset, England, June 1974: I was engrossed in the Sunday evening chore of doing washing in the launderette on the London Road, near where I lived. It was a liminal time in my life. After having resigned from a lecturing job, I was preparing to leave Bath, and a return to the Outer Hebrides was imminent. 
A strange looking couple came in, accompanied by a little girl of about five years old. The woman was tall, slender, with long dark hair, a very scruffy Afghan coat, and a distinct look of Cher (of Sonny and Cher fame). The man was smaller than her, slight, with unruly greying hair and a mischievous face. 

I carried on with my laundry. The little girl was chatty; soon, she was putting money into the dryer for me, I was telling her stories, and we had become great friends. I met her parents. They were both artists and astrologers. (Editor’s note: “Seamus” and “Gloria” are fictitious names.)

“Not the kind who do that stuff you see in the papers,” said Seamus scornfully, having noted the fleeting look of disdain which crossed my face at the mention of the word astrology. (I had given one of my mature students a very hard time a couple of years before for her public devotion to what seemed to me a subject unworthy of someone of her intelligence.) Seamus said, “We are the real thing.”

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in their cramped basement kitchen, drinking tea, and being charmed by Seamus. His combination of erudition, intensity, conviction, humour, and blarney was irresistible. 

An unsuspecting client . . .

“Do you know your birth time?” he asked. “Yes, 7:35 a.m.,” I replied. “Why are you interested in that?”
“Because I am going to draw up your horoscope”, he replied. Whether I wanted such a procedure embarked upon or not was of no consequence to him. So slain was I by his charm that I didn’t offer any resistance. 

As I watched, interested in spite of myself, Gloria and Seamus assembled a hefty tome, a slim pamphlet, blank sheets of paper, a calculator, a fountain pen, and a newly sharpened pencil. The tome was an ephemeris, they informed me —  a list of the planets’ placements everyday at noon for the whole of the 20th century. 

Seamus took a blank sheet, carefully drawing a circle freehand in its centre. He then proceeded with great rapidity and fluency to insert squiggles — “Planets!” — and numbers around the inner edge of the circle. He then drew lines within a smaller inner circle — “Aspects, or links between the planets at the time you were born.” He and Gloria then sat back, gazing with silent preoccupation at the image they had created.

The chart from 1974:

Anne Whitaker, natal 1974

I can still recall very, very clearly what followed.

Seamus, looking at his drawing and only briefly at me, gave an astonishingly accurate description of my father’s complex, domineering, idiosyncratic and wayward character. That was bad enough, not least because it reminded me of certain aspects of myself! Worse was to follow. 

“You are a person rich with creative gifts,” he said. “But you need to know and face more clearly the more difficult facets of your own nature. It’s time to do that, since you are approaching 30 and your Saturn Return.” With that, he forensically summed up those parts of myself which I knew were there, but had tried very hard to avoid facing or admitting to anyone — a very common and human failing that Saturn transits expose and challenge on a cyclic basis throughout our lives. I was feeling by this time as though I’d been hit on the side of the head with a sock full of sand.

Then, with true rhetorical skill, he delivered the punch line. “You tell me you are a total sceptic now,” he said. “But stop fooling yourself. You have a deeply spiritual nature, which needs to find meaning and connection with something greater than yourself. Until you manage that, you will be driven by the same restlessness that still drives your father, and you will not find inner peace.”

There was a long pause.

“And I can see, from where the planets will be in about seven years’ time, that the Big Picture is going to come seriously calling at your door. In your early thirties, you’re going to end up either doing what I’m doing now, or something very like it.”

I was utterly shocked. I had known those people for less than an hour, most of which had been spent walking back from the launderette to their flat and organising cups of tea. They knew nothing about me of any significance. How could they produce such specific and accurate material from marks on a piece of paper? I couldn’t even begin to get my head round the prediction. It seemed beyond absurd.

Slowly, I carried my laundry home. There was no way I could find to make sense of the experience I had just had. There was no file inside my head into which it could fit. 

Seven years later

Seven years later, a friend gave me a copy of Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology. I had no idea why, but had enough respect for that friend and his opinions to begin reading. About three pages in, I had the strangest sensation of someone pulling me into the book, saying “Come here, you’re for me…” I still have this battered old copy with my signature on it — February 1981. 

And my transits at the time? The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Libra exactly conjunct natal 2nd-house Neptune and exactly sextile natal 11th-house Mercury (my ruling planet); Uranus crossing the natal IC; Neptune beginning a long opposition to the natal 10th-house Uranus-Mars conjunction, and trine to the natal 12th-house Sun; Pluto trine natal Uranus and sextile natal Sun; North Node conjunct natal Mercury. A summons, pretty much . . .
In February 1981, that prediction, (which I had never quite forgotten), and the feeling of fascination, compulsion, and exhilaration which Alan Oken’s book triggered in me came together in a way that has profoundly shaped the whole of my subsequent life.

Concluding thoughts

It’s good for us all — especially people like me, with seven planets in fixed signs! — to get jolted out of our positions now and then by experiences that don’t fit our frames of reference. Hopefully, the jolt will have the effect of breaking down some of our old defences and letting new experience and new knowledge enter our lives.

I re-interpreted Seamus’ prediction in the light of my own subsequent astrological knowledge; it was pretty obvious by then how he had got there, as was the timing of it.

I still think about the encounter with him, his child, and partner nearly 40 years later. Did his prediction, at some subliminal level, point my life in a direction that it would not otherwise have gone? I will never know. But I do know, as a result of our encounter, that whatever my reservations are about the wisdom of offering such specific outcomes to people, astrologers sometimes have the power to do just that.

Whether they should do it is another issue altogether!

Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, UK. Anne blogs at Writing from the Twelfth House at  and returned to her astrological practice in May 2012 after a very long sabbatical. 

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Vince Gilligan: Astrologically “Breaking Bad”

By Coeli Carr | August 11, 2013

The hottest Hollywood property these days is arguably Vince Gilligan, the creator and  executive producer of “Breaking Bad,” the critically acclaimed and iconically revered television drama now broadcasting its final eight episodes.
The narrative premise of “Breaking Bad” is hardly mainstream: As the series starts, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a milquetoast-type high school chemistry teacher, with a wife, a child, and a second one on the way, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Highly motivated to provide financially for his brood, he decides to use his skill set to cook exceptionally high-quality meth, and enlists the help of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a chem-inept former student with drug connections.
Describing the series as a tale of Mr. Chips becoming Scarface, Gilligan, who also writes and directs for the series, has now paved the way for his protagonist — currently a drug kingpin who’s created a persona for himself called “Heisenberg” — to take whatever justice Gilligan and his team of writers have decided to mete out.
But for the astrologically minded, perhaps the bigger question is not how “Breaking Bad” ends, but what makes Vince Gilligan capable of descending, via his birth chart, to the hellish depths that Walter White now calls home.

Vince Gilligan, sunrise chart

Here are some answers:
1. Out-of-the-box thinking. As an Aquarian, born February 10, 1967, in Richmond, Virginia (source: Wikipedia; no birth time listed), Gilligan espouses non-conformity. So does White, by virtue of his choosing the anarchistic profession of meth maker and dealer. The Aquarian bent for reveling in decimating old structures and ways of thinking is mirrored in White, who essentially explodes his old self, metaphorically wakes up, and reinvents himself. White becomes a revolutionary, replacing one form of death for another.
Even the show’s title, “Breaking Bad,” smacks of Uranian energy. It’s a phrase used in the southern part of the U.S. and refers to swerving off the moral path. That sudden lurch — White’s decision was relatively spontaneous — is a spot-on description of the archetype.
2. Yod with apex to Aquarian Sun. Gilligan’s Sun is at 21° Aquarius, the apex of a yod in which the planets in sextile are Pluto at 20° Virgo conjunct Uranus at 24° Virgo, and Jupiter at 27° Cancer. Gilligan’s proclivities to turn the expected upside down — his futuristic side had found a nice home writing and producing for the sci-fi series “The X-Files” — gets an additional boost from Pluto’s and Uranus’s delight in life-and-death transformations, as well as Jupiter’s expansive desire to nurture and be involved with family.
The effects of the yod’s energy are a strong presence in “Breaking Bad”: White’s motive for getting into the meth business — the decision (Sun) that upheaves (Uranus)  his life — is to expand (Jupiter) resources for his family in the face of his impending death (Pluto), and a willingness to entertain death (Pluto) and literal explosions (Uranus) to achieve his goal (Sun),

3. Three-planet conjunction in Pisces. Had Gilligan been born at 1:30 a.m., his Moon would have been at 0° Pisces. I’ll assume a later birth time for him, which would situate his Moon in early Pisces, conjuncting his Mercury at 8° Pisces and, by bridge, to Venus at 14° Pisces. {Editor’s note: The chart is set for sunrise.} (Even with a very late Aquarian Moon, the conjunction holds.) This Moon-Mercury-Venus line-up in seductive and illusory Pisces suggests he’s a storyteller with a vivid imagination. He’s unafraid to tackle intensely emotional narrative scenarios, and is comfortable addressing values, deceit, and the mother (Moon) and wife (Venus) aspects of the Feminine.
In “Breaking Bad,” White’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), the mother of his offspring, is not merely aware of her husband’s drug activities, but is fully onboard criminally. She runs a car-wash business as a money-laundering (Pisces) enterprise. Slippery Pisces encourages shape-shifting, an activity her husband excels at. After five-and-a-half seasons, most of the world is still unaware of White’s true business and alter-ego.
Gilligan’s Moon also trines his Mars at 29° Libra, which likes to go after what it wants with a partner. To mount a television series, Gilligan obviously needs a sizable number of cohorts. Similarly, to accomplish his goal, White needs to work closely with another person — Jesse, at first, and later with larger drug entities — but competition (Mars) is still part of the Libran equation. 
4. Grand trine in water. Gilligan’s trining planets are Saturn at 28° Pisces, Neptune at 25° Scorpio, and Jupiter at 27° Cancer, which suggests the abilities to blend creative disciplines and to imaginatively explore issues of life and death, as well as a huge generosity toward family. In “Breaking Bad,” White’s desire to be his family’s Santa Claus (Jupiter) allows him to organize and create a business with a product that’s worth the price and to become its chief executive (all Saturn), thereby finding an imaginative (Neptune) solution, albeit one using tactics involving death.
5. Sun square Neptune. This is an aspect suggesting a blurring of ego with a view toward expressing compassion and seeking communion with the Divine, sometimes through drugs and sometimes involving deceit. White takes on (Sun) a fake (Neptune) persona behind which he can cook meth (Neptune), and becomes a father figure (Sun) to Jesse. He also tries to reach God in the best way he knows how — by becoming a deity in his own mind. 
6. Six planets in water signs. Gilligan’s placement of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and presumably his Moon, in water signs confers a generous amount of sensitivity toward others. But, as Liz Greene points out in her early book, Relating, “The symbolism of the water signs contains three cold-blooded creatures: the crab, the scorpion, and the fish,” which, she says, are “close to the archaic natural roots of man and very remote from the world of rational, differentiated human thought.” She also notes this type’s acquaintance with the darker side of human nature.” Sounds a lot like Walter White.
Given the absence of Gilligan’s birth time, one can make only a rudimentary assessment about what makes this exceptionally talented and likable man (as reported by colleagues) tick. The pleasure here is that, even with only the basics to work with, the spillover from his personal life to his creative expression in “Breaking Bad” is solid.
As Walter White says on the end-of-series poster, “Remember my name.” Astrologers know it was Gilligan’s to begin with.     
Bio: Coeli Carr comments about archetypes in pop culture on her web site AstroLass.

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Lorraine Warren: Hunting Demons in “The Conjuring”

By Coeli Carr | July 14, 2013

Summertime movie audiences notoriously like their big-screen experiences to be boisterous, larger-than-life, and explosively focused on good guys vanquishing evil in whatever form the bad guys dish it out. In “The Conjuring,” which releases on July 19th, those dark forces happen to be demonic. And battling them head-on is ghost-hunter and clairvoyant Lorraine Warren, an authentic yet rare type of action hero who’s mired in the sort of plots that Hollywood could not have dreamed up on its own.

Warren, now 86, and her husband Ed (1926-2006), a demonologist, were a formidable team. Together, they investigated paranormal occurrences and hauntings, the most famous probably being the Amityville Horror case in the mid-1970s, which provided the raw material for several movies. The house-haunting that the duo investigates in “The Conjuring (with Vera Farmiga portraying Warren and Patrick Wilson playing Ed) involves malevolent entities swarming through a rural home in Harrisville, Rhode Island, in 1971.

The personal and professional information the viewer learns about Warren through “The Conjuring” is one way to approach her birth chart. Born on January 31, 1927, at 6:40 p.m. in Bridgeport, Connecticut (birth data confirmed through Astro-Databank), Warren, with Neptune a prominent part of her horoscope, has never been a stranger to the spirit world.

Warren’s Ascendant is 0° Virgo, conjoining her 12th-house Neptune at 26° Leo. The 12th house is traditionally associated with places of confinement, and Warren’s life work has involved her selfless and spiritual (Neptune) assistance to families literally imprisoned in their own homes with demons, intent on possession, in the captor role. Evil forces are capable of literally jailing the living, as doors slam shut and lock and disembodied forces push people down stairs into metaphoric dungeons.

Lorraine Warren, natal

With Neptune so aligned with her persona, Warren is extraordinarily sensitive both to people and situations. “The Conjuring” makes this point when Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) approaches the couple in the parking lot after they’ve given a lecture. (You can catch a glimpse of the real-life Warren, who plays a lecture attendee, in the lower left part of the screen.)

Perron is desperate. The audience has already witnessed the ever increasing evil generated from “the other side” that the Perrons – her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters – have endured in their new home in Harrisville. Ed, who is extraordinarily protective of Warren, hints at a previous job-gone-bad in which Warren’s Neptunian porosity has left her unprotected from an exorcism’s fallout. “Whatever Lorraine sees takes a toll on her,” he says. But Warren is firm in her compassion to assist, citing the couple’s mission.

Warren’s Neptune, which rules both her 7th and 8th houses, is also the apex of a yod, with Uranus at 27° Pisces in the 8th house sextiling her Moon at 22° Capricorn in the 5th. As part of her work with clients, she deals with Uranus’s highly unpredictable and wickedly out-of-nowhere underworld behavior emanating from her house of death. Fortunately, her earthly and practical Capricorn Moon recognizes the spiritual life-and-death stakes, and the movie isn’t shy about featuring the rosary beads that are wound around her hand, almost like a bandage.

Her 5th-house Moon reflects Warren’s emotional (Moon) commitment (Capricorn) and responsibility (Capricorn) to children and their adult caretakers who, because of their inability to protect their offspring, are similarly in need of a shepherd who’ll risk (5th house) it all. Warren’s Moon is also opposed by Pluto in the 11th and, because of Scorpio on her 4th-house cusp, it’s clear that she is at “home” in the collective. However, the pull between powerful Pluto – and its association with either literally saving souls from death or damning them – and her Moon wreaks havoc with Warren’s personal commitment to her own daughter, whom the film shows to be tended to by Warren’s mother. With Neptune, sacrifice is a given.

Warren’s Saturn in the 4th house further underscores the responsibilities tied to protecting the literal homes of her clients, and sheds light on what the Warrens’ home has come to represent. In their own domicile, out of a profound sense of responsibility, is a so-called “museum” filled with artifacts from their house-haunting projects that are safer when kept as whole objects, rather than being destroyed.

Early in the movie, a reporter interviews Ed, who explains the story behind a creepy doll so powerful that it’s kept in its own glass enclosure, a clear example of the “rules” that Warren’s Saturn demands in the home. The Harrisville case also has its own “toy,” a circus-themed music box whose mirrored design can reflect spirits, again evoking Warren’s “responsible mother” role in the 5th house of playthings. Literally, every toy must be in its place – the order of the universe might depend on it.

In addition to her yod, Warren has another prominent configuration in her chart: a fixed t-square, with Mars at the apex at 20° Taurus in the 9th house and conjunct her Midheaven. Mars squares her Neptune-Ascendant and her Venus at 28° Aquarius.

Warren’s Mars suggests a public career (MC) as a fighter (Mars) for the status quo and security (Taurus). This placement also needs to support her personal 12th-house spiritual connection with divine forces (Neptune) which links to her Ascendant. Neptune opposes her 6th-house Venus, which rules her Midheaven and conjuncts her Descendant. The sign Aquarius gives Venus its capacity to love and be the light bringer (Uranus) in a highly idiosyncratic (Uranus) way, tying those progressive energies to an 11th-house North node.

Further emphasizing Warren’s Aquarian proclivities toward intuition and seeing the future (Uranus) is her Sun-Mercury conjunction at 11° and 14° Aquarius in her 6th house. Her chart ruler, Mercury, is tied to the Sun, further underscoring her purpose (Sun) in life, through her work (6th house) to liberate (Uranus) people from spiritual disruption and tyranny (Uranus) through the media (Mercury).

With respect to the timing of this movie, it’s worth noting that Jupiter, the ruler of Warren’s 5th house of entertainment, is at 3° Pisces in her 7th house, in an out-of-sign conjunction with Venus. In May and June 2012, Neptune, which rules motion pictures and also rules her 7th house of dealing with the public, conjoined Jupiter at this degree and made its third exact pass in March 2013. This fall, and in early 2014, Neptune will contact that point again.

Whether this transit brings Warren additional recognition, acclaim or instills greater public awareness of her work, it’s a nice bit of conjuring. The good kind.

Bio: Coeli Carr comments about archetypes in pop culture at

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The water element prevails

By Mary Plumb | July 8, 2013

As I approached this blog I thought about the upheaval in Egypt, the San Francisco plane crash, the Quebec train crash, the gruesome soccer match in Brazil, Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon — no lack of remarkable events.

But on Sunday — with Jupiter and retrograde Mercury in Cancer and the dark of the Moon with both luminaries in Cancer and also Saturn’s stationing direct in Scorpio — I was feeling a bit moody and decided to just wait and listen for a theme to write about.

Melanie Reinhart was the first person I heard use the term “metalog” to describe the phenomena of “that which we are speaking about is also arising.” In the transparent world we astrologers often inhabit, this is something that happens naturally and often – that which we are attending to makes an appearance.

So, I was thinking about Saturn’s station when I got a call from someone in NYC (who also happens to be getting to the last pass of the first Saturn return). Saturday (Saturn’s day) had been a big disappointment — a job he had seriously been counting on fell through.

On Sunday he was on a day trip from lower Manhattan to somewhere outside the city to escape to a friend’s swimming pool on a gorgeous summer day. He left the apartment with barely enough time to take the subway to Penn Station, to catch the train to have an afternoon away from the immediate confines of the city.

The subway that happened by first was not an express, but the much slower local, stopping at every stop. He methodically recounted the name of each station to me on the phone. It took forever, but he did get there just in time to catch the train to a sunny afternoon.

What a perfectly literal Saturn station conversation. And yesterday the transiting Moon was applying to oppose Pluto and square Uranus. The urgency to get away, to get free of something, to break out is a familiar sensation these days. But Saturn’s station is like the local train…we go slowly, no stop can be overlooked, no shortcuts taken. We may feel frustrated by the pace with so much of importance to attend to, but when we respect the unfolding of time, events proceed properly.

The Theosophists and Alan Leo spoke of Saturn as character building. In Scorpio our character is formed in the dark tunnels of subjectivity and in the magnetizing power of our attachments and desires. Emotional insight, coming to understand a deeper reality, comes from staying right on the edge of intensity – this is one of Scorpio’s gift.

Saturn may keep us waiting; patience and restraint are the ingredients in the current emotional caldrons.

Saturn inclines towards solitude and loneliness, but we won’t stay there. It’s a temporary and ever-fluid state — Saturn is moving directly, gloriously, towards Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces. (Saturn trines Jupiter precisely on July 17 and Neptune on the 19th.)

Saturn brings the humility to accept the restraints and limitations in our experience. We can bypass the ubiquitous seductions of our culture — no one has everything they want; every one of us has a portal of emptiness and isolation inside which a deeper fulfillment and meaning may actually dwell. Saturn rewards the yogis and ascetics, as well as the builders and architects.

The water signs are mute. All are connected to the occult, the hidden aspects of our experience and the matrix that gives birth to form.

There is creative and gentle magic in the air these days with the generosity of water signs lining up in ongoing harmonious configurations.

With Cancer we are carried further on the timeless journey home – home to wherever we feel safe and to whatever feeds body and soul. A Cancer theme is our remembrance of the past and our yearning to belong.

Cancer is the beginnings of life, the myths and realities of our origins; Scorpio brings constant death and resurrection and Pisces pulls us away from the material and into the poetry of the soul life.

The water trilogy, shining from above, show that fullness and emptiness, the exquisite and the brutal, the soft and the firm, are all part of the wholeness of life from which we never can be separate.

We may not know where we are going but we know we will get there.

Happy Cancer New Moon week, everyone!

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