TMA This Week

RIP Joan Quigley

By Kate Plumb | October 27, 2014

This is the season of Scorpio, and as we all know, Scorpio is known for secrets. The season is also known for acknowledging the departed. Joan Quigley, who died last week at age 87 in her home in San Francisco, is a perfect example of a Scorpio-themed life.

Her obituary in the New York Times on Saturday takes up six columns, one-third of the page. (1) As astrologers we should all be so lucky, when we pass, to have that kind of recognition.  Recognition was denied her throughout her remarkable life. She was the Ronald Reagan administration’s “most closely guarded secret,” according to Donald T. Regan’s 1988 memoir. (2)  (Donald Regan was Reagan’s chief of staff.)

Don Regan wrote that the relationship officially began after the assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life when Mrs. Reagan asked Ms. Quigley if she could have predicted the incident.  Quigley said “yes” and was put on a monthly retainer. After Mr. Regan’s memoir was published and the world knew that an astrologer was helping the Reagan administration, Mrs. Reagan never spoke to Ms. Quigley again.

At the time he wrote the book, even Regan did not know her name. All he knew was that there was a woman in San Francisco who “drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in favorable alignment for the enterprise.” According to Regan, “an astrologer had set the time for summit meetings, presidential debates, Reagan’s 1985 cancer surgery, State of the Union addresses, and much more. Without an okay from the astrologer, he said, Air Force One did not take off.

In 1990 Ms. Quigley wrote her own memoir, What does Joan Say?, a reference to what Quigley said the President continually asked his wife.

In 1989, after Reagan left office, Miss Quigley (she never married) gave an interview with CBS Evening News. She said that “after reading the horoscope of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, she concluded that he was intelligent and open to new ideas, and persuaded Mrs. Reagan to press her husband to abandon his view of the Soviet Union as an ‘evil empire.'” As the Times obituary continues, “Arms control treaties followed.”

It is well known that Mrs. Reagan herself played down Ms. Quigley’s influence in her subsequent memoir, My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan (1989). Humorist Molly Ivins wrote: “There the poor woman was, sitting in San Francisco with full accountability for world peace, and none of us even knew her name.”

Joan Quigley grew up as a socialite in San Francisco and graduated from Vassar with a degree in art history. Like her mother, she was curious about astrology, but prepared her charts in secret, as her father disapproved.

A Republican, she had worked on Reagan’s campaign for governor of California in 1966. Reagan delayed his inauguration as governor for nine minutes as a result of Ms. Quigley’s astrological advice. (Where are these politicians and political operatives today when we need them?)  She volunteered to work on Reagan’s presidential campaign in 1980 because “she was dazzled by his stars.” She told the Washington Post in 1988, “He had the most brilliant horoscope I’d seen in this country in this century.”

The obituary in the Times has a birth time (which I have never seen before), acknowledging, “exact birth times [are] critical to accurate astrological readings.” Her natal chart in whole sign houses is below, followed by the natal chart in Porphyry houses.  (It would be interesting to compare her chart with Reagan’s.)

Joan Quigley
April 10, 1927
4:17 p.m.
Kansas City, MO
39°N06′ 94°W34′

Joan Quigley, whole sign houses, natal

Joan Quigley, Porphyry houses, natal

When looking at her chart, what is most striking is Uranus at 0°Aries — on the Aries point, or World Axis — square the nodal axis at 0° Cancer/Capricorn. No wonder her astrological life was there for the entire world to see (especially if all those who knew about her work admitted it). Using whole sign houses, her Moon in Leo is in the 12th — she was a famous secret. Her Sun, at 20°02′ Aries, is in the 8th house, very close to the Sun’s exaltation degree (19°), which stands as a testimony to her pioneering status. Also of interest: In an informal study, my sister and I have observed that in the Porphyry house system, the natal 8th-house cusp is frequently triggered at the time of death. In this case, the Porphyry 8th-house cusp is 19°43′ Aries. Ms. Quigley’s progressed Moon at her death (October 21st) is 18°59′ Libra, fast approaching her natal Sun conjunct the Porphyry cusp, bringing her fame and recognition after death.


(1) All quotes are from the NY Times obituary.

(2) Donald Regan, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington, Harcourt Trade Publishers, 1988.

Bio: Kate Plumb, “cycles scientist,” is a certified NCGR counseling astrologer who teaches monthly at Joshua’s Place in Southampton and sees clients in her home office. She is also certified in Astro*Carto*Graphy. Website: Kate can be reached at or (631) 725-9133.

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Nelson Mandela – Voice of Africa

By Milos Tomic | October 6, 2014

Nelson Mandela Rolihlala (July 18, 1918 — May 12, 2013) is the South African politician, revolutionary leader, and statesman whose efforts ended the regime of apartheid in South Africa.

The son of a Xhosa chief and a student, he joined the 1942 African National Congress (ANC), an organization that fights for the rights of the majority black population in South Africa. He later became one of the main organizers of the initially non-violent struggle against apartheid. Once these measures had not yielded results, Mandela became convinced that only armed struggle would bring down apartheid. He organized the military wing of the ANC and began a campaign of sabotage. But before long Mandela and his comrades were arrested and later sentenced to life in prison.

While he was isolated and marginalized with a long prison sentence, he became a symbol of the struggle against apartheid, and the South African government was under pressure to release him. In 1990, he was released and, with South African President F.W. De Klerk, began negotiations toward a peaceful termination of apartheid and the transfer of power to the black majority. For these efforts, Mandela and De Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

In 1994, the ANC won the elections and Mandela was named the first black president of South Africa; he remained president until 1999. Although his term was marked by a dramatic increase in the crime rate and the HIV epidemic, many praised his policy of national reconciliation and fidelity to democratic institutions.

After leaving government he was dedicated to humanitarian work and became one of the most popular and most recognizable icons of the modern world. Many regarded Mandela as one of the few universal moral authorities in the world.

Nelson Mandela was born in the sign of Cancer with the Ascendant in Sagittarius and Moon in Scorpio. (1) His Ascendant falls at 23°40′ Sagittarius; at the time of his birth the Galactic center was at 25° Sagittarius. (The Galactic center is now at approximately 26°30′ as it moves as the fixed stars, 1° every 72 years.) The Ascendant at the GC suggests a spiritual and socially conscious person, a scholar, someone who became famous for his knowledge, work, and dedication.

His Ascendant ruler is Jupiter in Cancer, the sign of its exaltation, in the 7th house, which represents the public, crowds, and public speeches. Mandela’s life was indeed very significant — the whole world was interested in following his case and his struggle. The 7th house also rules the field of law and justice. Mandela  finished law school and spent his entire life fighting for the rights of  the black people in Africa — Pluto (black) conjuncts Jupiter.

We can find something about his origins if we take a closer look at the position of the Moon in his natal chart. The Moon is in detriment — Scorpio in the 12th house. His ancestors were tortured, oppressed, and imprisoned by the white minority. This difficult Moon in Scorpio in the 12th house also shows Mandela’s detention, mental anguish, and constant struggle.

The Moon has a mutual reception by sign with the ruler of the 12th house, Pluto in Cancer, which conjuncts the ruler of the Ascendant, Jupiter, and “points at” the Sun in the 8th house (also the 8th sign from the Ascendant). (2)

We clearly see the captivity (12th house represents prisons) and the torture (Pluto) of Mandela’s soul (Moon) and body (Jupiter).

We can examine one’s origins by considering the 4th house, i.e., the motherland, family, the people one comes from. The 4th-house cusp in Mandela’s chart falls in the sign of Pisces. The 1st-house ruler, as mentioned, is Jupiter conjoining Pluto, and the co-ruler is Neptune, pointing at Saturn (confinement) in Leo (by the government). Neptune in Leo as the ruler of the 4th house indicates its royal roots (his father was a chief), but Neptune points at Saturn, which limits the power of his family.

After the long imprisonment, Mandela was set free on November 2, 1990, in his 72nd year. Transiting Jupiter was conjunct Mandela’s natal Jupiter and transiting Pluto was 3° away from his natal Moon position. The exact conjunction of Pluto and Moon brought a new massacre of the Negro people, prompting Mandela to toughen the fight and bring people to the streets.

Moving Mandela’s natal Mars 1° for each year of life, Mars conjoined his Ascendant in his 72nd year. This undoubtedly gave Mandela a good pat on the back, liberation, and increased desire to fight without surrender, until achieving the final goal — the downfall of apartheid.

During his lifetime, Mandela became very popular, and that popularity remains today, even after his death. He has won many prestigious awards and honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Glory and honor and the high point of one’s life will be presented by the 10th house, the 10th sign from the Ascendant, and their rulers.

Mandela’s Mercury is in Leo (the natural symbol of glory) in conjunction with Saturn in the 9th house. He was the first (Leo in its leadership function) black (Saturn) President (Mercury ruler of 10th house — Head of State).He was also a great orator (Mercury) and an ascetic and martyr (Saturn in exile). He is someone I will remember (Saturn) because of his profound statements (Mercury). The previously mentioned mutual reception between Pluto and Moon explains his enormous influence (Pluto) on the masses (Moon).

The conjunction of Mercury and Saturn also speaks about the prohibition (Saturn) of distant (9th house) travel (Mercury). The state limited his freedom of movement and confiscated his passport. We can see this picture through the almost exact quincunx between Sun, the ruler of the 9th house, and retrograde Uranus (the restriction of freedom), ruler of the 3rd house (travel).

The 3rd house is also related to a person’s way of thinking, and Uranus in Aquarius in the 3rd house speaks of a humanitarian and human rights supporter. When we think of his long fight for freedom, we must take into consideration the influence of Mars as well. Mars is in Libra, a sign that doesn’t throw away energy and does not fight physically; this Mars takes legal actions against the enemies. It is in the 11th house, which describes Mandela’s fight for human rights through organizing a revolution.

Mandela passed away in his 95th year. Indicators of long life include the trine between Sun and Moon, and a strong sign and position of the ruler of the Ascendant, Jupiter, which is exalted in Cancer and conjuncts the Descendant. The first planet after the Sun goes down on the day of birth is called Auriga, or “companion of life,” and it is always somehow related to the moment of death. In this case, Auriga is Saturn. (In this method, we don’t count planets beyond Saturn because they are not visible to the naked eye in the night sky, so they do not have the same impact.)

At the age of 95, Mandela’s natal Saturn came to his Moon in Scorpio (by solar arc, moving 1° for one year of life). The Moon rules his 8th house (death) and has rulership over Jupiter, the dispositor of the Ascendant and 4th-house cusp (the grave, the beginning and end of all things). Transiting Jupiter and Saturn support this story — Saturn was transiting in the sign of Scorpio and Jupiter was near the 8th-house cusp. 

Mandela was divorced twice, but his third wife stayed with him until his death. We see that his 7th-house cusp is Gemini, which suggests the possibility of multiple marriages. The ruler, Mercury, points at Mars in Libra (the sign of marriage), which is in the sign of its detriment.

He was the father of five children; the ruler of his 5th-house cusp is Mars in Libra and it points at Moon in Scorpio. Despite the poor dignities of both planets, Scorpio is a prolific sign and his Moon was in good mutual reception with Pluto in Cancer. 

Although he had a large family, it is certain that the many timeless statements of Nelson Mandela will be remembered and quoted not only by them, but by many others in the upcoming decades. His character and work will not be forgotten.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”


(1) Nelson Mandela; July 18, 1918; 2:54 p.m. EET; Mvezo, South Africa (31°S35′ 28°E47′). DD data.
Editor’s note: The data for Nelson Mandela is rated DD: “Two or more conflicting quotes that are unqualified.”
Source notes from astro-databank: “Frances McEvoy reported that her son and daughter-in-law spent a summer in South Africa with the Kennedy Foundation as lawyers. During an afternoon in the entourage of Mandela, they asked his birth time and were told ‘afternoon.’ Noel Tyl wrote in May/1994 that he rectified the afternoon time with extremely taxing detail to 2:54 PM, then shared his documentation with Rod Suskin, a well-known South African astrologer who responded with “a veritable catalogue of reinforcement for the time.”

(2) This is a technique used in the ‘JovanaL27’ Belgrade school of astrology. For additional information about one of the houses, we examine that house’s ruler, and the next planet in anticlockwise direction, i.e., the planet being “pointed at.”

Miloš Tomic is a young (age 20), aspiring astrologer from the small town of Gradiška in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He’s been practicing astrology for five years. He did his first paid consultation at the age of 15 and he holds a Diploma from the Belgrade school of astrology, ‘JovanaL27’, where he works as a teaching assistant. Miloš is especially interested in horary astrology and astro-profiling, and he researches the influence of fixed stars in natal and horary charts. His articles have been featured in several astrology magazines and websites in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Croatia. You can reach Miloš at, or you can check out his blog, Wisdom Of Stars. (The blog texts are written in English and Serbian.)

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Mars square Neptune

By Mary Plumb | September 22, 2014

Mars has been applying to square Neptune for the past few weeks. The aspect was partile last night, September 21, at 8:38 pm PT, with Mars at 5° Sag, Neptune at 5° Pisces, (and the Moon at 5° Virgo).

I’m sure there will be some wonderful commentators on the massive turnout for the People’s Climate March — 300,000+ in N.Y. alone, and around the world. Thank you to everyone who joined the global effort. (1)

I’ve been looking at another story that is unfolding before our eyes: the U.S. entering into (yet) another war. The U.S. Sibly chart has Mars square Neptune.

To recap a bit: Neptune is in the 9th house of the Sibly chart at 22° Virgo. In a national horoscope, the 9th is the domain relating to treaties, international affairs, the legal system, and those who practice the law. The 9th also describes one’s ethical or moral stance.

The U.S. inherently may have confused ideas or unclear objectives about its moral and ethical stance.

The obfuscating Neptune is made more sensitive, agitated, and volatile by a square from Mars at 21° Gemini. I once wrote that this aspect might show the “possible co-option or corruption of religious beliefs or a principled ethical stance (Neptune in the 9th) for aggressive aims (Mars).”

Neptune is also connected to media and photography, and the 9th house is publishing and far-reaching ideas. We have had many examples of the potent impact of imagery (remember the photos from Abu Ghraib of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners?), and the horrific recent videos of U.S. and British citizens being decapitated by ISIS have been powerfully influential in swaying public opinion towards bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (Another Mars-Neptune headline today read: “Americans Support Bombing ISIS Although They Don’t Think It Will Work.”)

I listened to some media coverage on Saturday and the sound of Mars-Neptune was everywhere — i.e., the president is “haphazardly seeking legal justification and legal loopholes;” trying to “slip through the existing legal definitions” to justify bombing ISIS in Syria; he is seeking authorization from Congress “who themselves do not understand the situation.”

There seems to be agreement, as of now, that there is no international legal justification for bombing ISIS in Syria. (2) The president’s natal Mars is at 22° Virgo, precisely on the U.S. Neptune.

Speaking of Neptune’s potential for obscuration: It was in George W. Bush’s (first) post-911 State of the Union address — given on January 29, 2002 — that we first heard the indelible phrase “the axis of evil.” At that time, the Sun and Neptune were conjunct at 9° Aquarius; the essence of the day was marked by Neptune’s many possibilities, e.g., delusion, projection, naiveté, idealism, denial, deception, etc.

There was a mighty worldwide effort by peacemakers to stop the war on February 15, 2003 (with transiting Jupiter at 11° Leo opposite Neptune at 11° Aquarius). (3)

Bush gave a speech alerting Americans to the impending invasion on March 17, 2003 (with the transiting Saturn/Mars midpoint on 0° Aries).

A few days later, on March 20, 2003 at 5:35 a.m., the U.S. began bombing Baghdad. The Sun was at 29° Pisces, a poor omen for a successful outcome. Transiting Saturn was at 22° Gemini, conjunct the Sibly Mars and square to Neptune.

Patrick Cockburn writes: “For America, Britain, and the Western powers, the rise of Isis and the Caliphate is the ultimate disaster. Whatever they intended by their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their efforts to get rid of Assad in Syria since 2011, it was not to see the creation of a jihadi state spanning northern Iraq and Syria run by a movement a hundred times bigger and much better organised than the al-Qaida of Osama bin Laden. The war on terror for which civil liberties have been curtailed and hundreds of billions of dollars spent has failed miserably.” (4)

Okay, on to some other ideas for activating Mars-Neptune. (Easy for me to say, I guess, as I have them conjunct in the natal 12th house.) I did yoga today; took a walk by the (very dry) lake, and maybe will have a glass of good wine with dinner. And, I remember the words of someone very important in my life (who has Sun, Mars, Neptune conjunct in the natal) who sincerely — and often — said: “Heaven help us all.”

(1) A thought on the huge turnout: Mars signifies action, with Neptune — individual action for a unifying cause.

(2) The Daily Beast
(3) The Day the world Said no to war YouTube
Protests against the Iraq War Wikipedia
(4) ISIS consolidates London Review of Books
We anti-war protesters were right:the Iraq invasion has lead to bloody chaos The Guardian

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 The Fallen Madonna: Story of Zosma

By Milos Tomic | September 15, 2014

{Editor’s note:Transiting Venus is now at 12° Virgo and has just crossed the fixed star Zosma. Serbian astrologer Miloš Tomic sent this article with his research into the influence of Zosma in the natal chart. The birth data for all the people mentioned in the article can be found in the footnotes.}
Zosma, also known as Dhur (“the Lion’s back”), Wadha (“the wise”), or its astronomical name, Delta Leonis, is a star of the constellation Leo. (1) As the fixed stars move at the speed of 1° every 72 years, Zosma currently is at 11°20’ Virgo.
Vivian E. Robson wrote that this star has an impact similar to the combined influences of Venus and Saturn, bringing shame and public lynching followed by some gain or benefit. As this star is located on the back of the constellation Leo, it is connected with the mythical Heracles because, according to Greek mythology, he jumped on the Nemean lion from the back and killed him by breaking its neck. (2) Hera, who had given Heracles twelve almost impossible tasks, was chagrined at this act and placed the Nemean lion in Heaven to spite Heracles. In addition, Zosma is associated with those who willingly enter into a dangerous situation; they are willing to make sacrifices or to be a victim. It is often emphasized in charts of people who are seriously concerned with faith, which leads to Zosma’s connection with the Virgin Mary (Madonna).
However, just as every coin has two sides, a Madonna may fall and become a sinner. In the horoscope, if Zosma is conjunct a malefic planet or with a severely afflicted planet, the person may be self-centered, spiteful, immoral and deviant, or rude and full of hatred for him/herself and others. Mile Dupor, a Yugoslavian astrologer from the mid 20th century, states in his book, Influence of the Fixed Stars, that if an afflicted light (i.e., the Sun or Moon in a bad position) conjuncts Zosma, those individuals are unfortunate, both within themselves and for others. (3) Zosma can give a melancholic nature, a depressive state of mind, fear of life, and fear of death, particularly from poisoning. A planet without dignity on Zosma can bring isolation and/or mental illness.
We can say that Zosma carries a whiff of Uranus, because of its prominence in the charts of people who destroy the established systems and taboos, who question religious systems, or who openly show their eccentricity. Their work or personality may shock the world.
The queen of pop music, the legendary Madonna, has the Ascendant and the Moon conjunct Zosma. (4) Her artistic name, her eccentric performances (which often include religious motives), her open practice of Kabbalah, all point to the strong influence of Zosma in her natal chart.
John Travolta also has a Moon conjunct Zosma, and Tom Cruise has Zosma conjunct the Sun/Neptune midpoint; both are well known as major supporters of the Church of Scientology. (5) (6)
Zosma is associated with homosexuality. Freddie Mercury had Zosma conjunct his Sun and George Michael has Mars and Pluto conjunct Zosma. (7) (8) Elton John has Zosma conjunct the Neptune/Pluto midpoint, as well as on the more significant midpoint of the Ascendant and the North Node (Asc/NN). John Travolta reportedly had an affair with his masseur, which caused a scandal (another sign of the impact of Zosma in his chart).
The star Zosma, as well as the sign of Virgo, causes problems with the digestive system, especially the small intestine. American singer Cass Elliot had Zosma conjunct her Moon; she suffered from a stomach ulcer and her weight often fluctuated. (9)
Austrian Archduke Maximilian I of Habsburg had Saturn conjunct Zosma. (10) He renounced his Austrian crown and sailed off to Mexico, where he was invited to become the emperor. This hints at the Uranian influence of Zosma, i.e., demolition of established systems of governance, such as the law of succession. Eventually Maximilian I lost power in Mexico and was executed. After the execution, his wife, Charlotte, suffered a nervous breakdown and spent the rest of her life in isolation at the court of her brother, Leopold II. (11) In Maximilian’s chart, Saturn is the ruler of the Descendant, which represents spouses, as well as other significant people in one’s life. Saturn conjunct Zosma manifested as his wife having a nervous breakdown. Charlotte also had the Moon in Virgo; her birth time is unknown, so we cannot be certain that the Moon was conjunct Zosma in her nativity.
For contemporary examples, we can look at the natal charts of Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, whose roles in the movie “The Reader” correspond to the symbolism of Zosma. The character played by Winslet is the former head of a women’s concentration camp during World War II, who is brought to trial after the war. (12) She allows the court to blame her, convicting her for the deaths of 300 Jewish women in the camp. By doing so, she hides her greatest flaw — the fact that she is illiterate. The natal chart of Kate Winslet shows Zosma conjunct the Mercury/Saturn midpoint — Mercury (writing, reading) and Saturn (restriction, illiteracy). The character played by Ralph Fiennes selflessly records audiobooks that he regularly sends to jail, and Winslet’s character eventually learns to read and write. In Fiennes’ natal chart, Zosma is surrounded by Uranus (5° Virgo) and Pluto  (12° Virgo), which are both generational markers, but Zosma becomes more important in his chart because Pluto in Virgo disposes Venus and Neptune in Scorpio. (13) Another consideration is that as the time of birth is unknown, Zosma might have been triggered by the Ascendant, MC, or some other significant point.
These are just a few examples of Zosma’s influence. Basically, it symbolizes a victim, and in order to judge if one will achieve the redemption of sins, or will become a victim of one’s own actions, we must look to an overall impression of the chart and the interaction of Zosma with other elements of one’s horoscope.
 Footnotes and References:
(1) For more on the star Zosma.

(2) Heracles is the Greek name for the divine hero who became Hercules to the Romans. Wikipedia.

(3) Mile Dupor wrote 20 astrology books, none of which have been translated into English.

(4) Madonna: August 16, 1958; 7:05 a.m.; Bay City, Michigan, Rodden DD

(5) John Travolta: February 18, 1954; 2:53 p.m.; Englewood, NJ, Rodden AA

(6) Tom Cruise: July 3, 1962; 3:06 p.m.; Syracuse, NY, Rodden X

(7) Freddie Mercury: September 5, 1946; 5:10 a.m.; Zanzibar, Tanzania, Rodden X

(8) George Michael: June 25, 1963; 6:00 a.m.; Finchley, UK, Rodden A

(9) Cass Elliot: September 19, 1941; 9:00 p.m.; Baltimore, Maryland, Rodden A

(10) Austrian Archduke Maximilian I of Habsburg: July 6, 1832; 4:00 a.m.; Vienna, Austria, Rodden AA

(11) Charlotte of Belgium: June 7, 1840; birth time unknown, Brussels, Belgium (Wikipedia)

(12) Kate Winslet: October 5, 1975; 7:15 a.m.; Reading, UK (data from AstroTheme)

(13) Ralph Fiennes: December 22, 1962: birth time unknown, Suffolk, UK (Wikipedia)
Miloš Tomic is a young (age 20), aspiring astrologer from the small town of Gradiška in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He’s been practicing astrology for five years. He did his first paid consultation at the age of 15 and he holds a Diploma from the Belgrade school of astrology, ‘JovanaL27’, where he works as a teaching assistant. Miloš is especially interested in horary astrology and astro-profiling, and he researches the influence of fixed stars in natal and horary charts. His articles have been featured in several astrology magazines and websites in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Croatia. You can reach Miloš at, or you can check out his blog, Wisdom Of Stars. (The blog texts are written in English and Serbian.)

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Robin WiIliams: Laughter Through Tears

By Alex Miller | August 18, 2014

On Monday August 11, 2014, the world was shocked and sorrowed to hear of the death of legendary comedian and actor Robin Williams. Williams’ personal assistant found him hanging from his bedroom closet door shortly before noon.

The breadth of Williams’ talent is hard to describe. A frenetic, super-charged, stand-up performer, his ability to ad-lib was unequaled. In 1992 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ nomination committee refused to submit Disney’s animated film Aladdin for an Oscar (best-adapted screenplay) on the grounds that Williams, who voiced the genie, had ad-libbed so much that a large portion of the movie was essentially unscripted. In one brief extemporaneous speech, analysts chronicled more than 50 distinct characters, accents, and impressions in under two minutes, all done off the cuff. Williams’ comedy styling also graced such live action hits as Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), and The Birdcage (1996).  

But it wasn’t just his comedic performances that drew audiences. The poignancy of his dramatic roles in such films as Dead Poets Society (1989), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar, established Williams as a serious actor. In total, the global box office take from his 80 films is in excess of $6 billion.

But, as is often the case with genius, there was a downside as well. Williams struggled with addiction all his life, and like any good artist, he used this pain in his work, regularly riffing on the life-altering effects of his substance abuse in stand-up routines. Depression was another frequently encountered demon, and in the end, it claimed his life. Some days after his death, his wife Susan Schneider revealed that Williams had recently received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, which he was grappling with but had not yet made public.

Born at 1:34 p.m. CST on July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois, Robin Williams’ birth chart reflects a life torn between comedy and tragedy. (1) His 28° Cancer Sun exactly conjoins a black hole, the source of the seemingly boundless energy animating his performances on stage and screen, but exacting the price of a private life saddled with addiction and two failed marriages. The black hole granted that chameleon-like ability to slip into any guise or character at whim, effortlessly and convincingly, but it also denoted a self-absorption that was crippling to the interpersonal relationships so critical to recovery from habitual substance abuse.

Mercury is the star of the chart; at 22° Leo it exactly conjoins the Midheaven, the point of highest elevation and the focus of all eyes. And indeed, it was Williams’ matchless vocal skills that drove his career (with Mercury just minutes into the 10th house). Slipping seamlessly from one persona to the next, Williams riffed off the male and female characters that seemed to explode from his mind with Gatling gun swiftness and force. A master of accents, he could be an old Yiddish grandpa one moment and an LA Valley Girl the next, with Russian, Indian, Brazilian, and Chinese characters in between. Mercury conjoins Pluto at 18° Leo, allowing Williams to manipulate the rich verbal skills he inherited, and empowering his career path in the process. But Mercury-Pluto carries its own demons, and can open the native to a dark and threatening underworld, depressing and bleak.

Williams’ big break came in a guest appearance as Mork the alien in a Happy Days episode in February 1978. The character was so wildly popular with fans that ABC added a spin-off, Mork and Mindy, to its fall line-up. The show ran four seasons, at the end of which Williams was an established film star.

But his early film roles garnered little critical acclaim, causing Williams to doubt his talent, and his retreat into drug and alcohol use began, reflected by the 12th-house placement of Neptune at 16° Libra. His cocaine addiction went largely undetected by him until the overdose death of friend and party companion John Belushi, in 1982. Williams described this event as “a wake-up call,” prompting his first visit to rehab. Neptunian overindulgence is foreshadowed by its opposition to expansive Jupiter at 13° Aries, which magnifies whatever it touches. The Jupiter-Neptune opposition becomes a t-square when we factor in a Mars-Uranus conjunction at 11° and 10° Cancer, making this a formative agent of his character. With his fame (Jupiter) based in an energetic, almost violent (Mars) quirkiness (Uranus), Williams was thrown back on his heels by a lack of faith (Neptune) and the need to escape when reality became too real (Neptune).  

A variety of mythic and personal-named asteroids flesh out the portrait. The pull toward intoxicants is shown clearly with two conjunctions to the 10° Virgo Venus, the thing we are attracted to, from Panacea (named for the Greek goddess of medicines and thus ruling all types of pharmaceuticals, legal or otherwise) at 3° Virgo, and Bacchus (named for the Roman god of wine and revels) at 13° Virgo. Additionally, the pairing of Dionysus (Greek god of wine and ecstatic trance) and Nemesis (undoing) at 29° and 24° Leo in the 10th house shows clearly the weak spot in his work life and the ding to his reputation from substance abuse.

Robin Williams is the first celebrity I have profiled who has an asteroid actually named for him — asteroid Robinwilliams (#12820). Astoundingly, although not discovered until 1996, when Williams was 45, this teeny bit of space debris falls at 11° Scorpio, just one degree from his natal 12° Scorpio Ascendant, the point where we present ourselves to the world. This example alone should be sufficient to testify to the power and impact these points have in our lives when they strongly resonate with us.

But the personal-named asteroids (PNA) story doesn’t end there. An asteroid named Robyn and another named Williams appear together, at 9° and 6° Leo, in the company of two mythic-named asteroids very key to his life path — Thalia and Melpomene, at 13° and 10° Leo, respectively. Individuals having both first and last name PNA referents conjunct in the birth chart tend toward very focused, directed, and driven lives, for good or ill; it represents an augmentation of energies where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Thalia is named for the muse of comedy and is itself exactly conjunct asteroid Circe, the enchantress. Williams certainly bewitched us all with his comedic turns, but Melpomene (named for the muse of tragedy) reflects his dramatic abilities, the darker path taken in his private life, and his tragic end.

Speaking of which, self-destruction is hinted at in several “suicide” asteroid placements in this birth chart: Ajax, Antigone, Arachne, and Phaedra, all classic Greek characters who killed themselves, and Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who drowned herself in an excess of despair and insanity. Ajax at 10° Cancer falls exactly on the Mars-Uranus conjunction, further activating the Neptune-based t-square, while Ophelia at 15° Capricorn opposes Ajax, filling in the empty leg of that grand cross.  

Arachne at 26° Gemini is sextile the Sun and forms a t-square with the Saturn bundle and natal Chiron at 27° Sagittarius, a point which represents deep wounds that may never heal. This grouping also involves the Galactic Center at 26° Sagittarius, which grants global attention or notice. In this case, the contact proved powerful for Williams’ career (Saturn), but also for his death (Atropos), with his suicide (Antigone/Arachne) garnering immediate international attention. Phaedra conjoins Arachne from 21° Gemini, feeding into the same pattern and drawing the Antigone/Atropos element more strongly into it. Perhaps significantly, the method of suicide chosen by each of these Greek heroines was hanging.

Williams’ PNA contacts follow him throughout his life and career. His breakout performance in the Happy Days episode, “My Favorite Orkan,” aired on February 28, 1978, with the Sun at 9° Pisces exactly on his natal Moon — Williams was ready to shine (Sun) and the public (Moon) took notice and embraced him. Jupiter at 26° Gemini trined transit asteroid Robyn at 23° Aquarius and squared natal Saturn at 27° Virgo, providing a personal link (Robyn) to the expansion (Jupiter) of career (Saturn) the role would provide him. Transit asteroid Williams at 17° Libra was traveling with Pluto at 16° Libra, showcasing the huge transformation and empowerment that was to ensue (these conjoin natal Neptune, ruling TV). The Pluto conjunction is exact, showing the transformative agent the small screen would be for him. Transit Robinwilliams at 21° Pisces paired with Venus at 18°, indicating his immense popular appeal.

That strong Venus and Pluto emphasis holds for Mork and Mindy’s premiere on September 14, 1978, with asteroid Williams now in Venus’ tight embrace, from 5° and 6° Scorpio, aligning with Williams’ natal Ascendant. Transit asteroid Robyn at 19° Aries had recently conjoined his natal Jupiter at 13° Aries and opposed transit Pluto at 15° Libra, repeating the theme of transformation and empowerment. Transit Robinwilliams at 26° Taurus was trine the 21° Virgo Sun.

The winner of two Emmys, five Grammys, four Golden Globes, and two SAG awards, Williams was nominated for an Academy Award four times, winning Best Supporting Actor in 1998 for Good Will Hunting. When the awards were presented on March 23rd, transit Robinwilliams at 28° Pisces aligned with the 2° Aries Sun, marking him as central to the proceedings, and fell in an exact trine to his natal Sun, a karmic benefit long overdue. 

Married three times, all his wives appear in PNA form at appropriate points. First wife Valerie Velardi, whom he met while working as a bartender before finding fame, is represented by asteroid Valeria, which at 4° Capricorn opposes Mars at 10° Capricorn, suggesting a strong sexual attraction but some friction in the relationship as well; they have one son, Zachary, and divorced in 1988 after ten years of marriage. Within the year he had married Marsha Garces, his son’s nanny, already pregnant. Asteroid Marcia (phonetic match for Marsha) appears at 11° Scorpio, exactly conjunct natal Robinwilliams and on the Ascendant, suggesting a match of propinquity (the exact PNA conjunction), and a need to regularize their relationship in front of others (the Ascendant contact). They had two children, Zelda and Cody, and divorced in 2008 (the longevity of this match also reflects the Ascendant conjunction — she was the “public face” of his private life for two decades). Williams married graphic designer Susan Schneider in 2011; represented by asteroid Susanna, this point’s 6° Virgo conjunction with Venus at 10° Virgo suggests a love match at last.

When Williams died on August 11th, the transit Sun at 18° Leo had come to exactly conjoin natal Pluto.   Mercury at 21° Leo had crested his natal Midheaven and was about to return to its natal degree, culminating its final cycle for the man whose voice captivated millions across the globe. A combination of Jupiter, Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead), and Panacea at 5°, 6°, and 7° Leo straddles the natal Robyn/Williams conjunction and tells the guts of the story — a celebrity (Jupiter) death (Requiem) with drug use implications (Panacea — Williams had entered rehab again just weeks before his death, to “focus” on sobriety).

Transit Pluto, ruling suicide, at 11° Capricorn had been stressing the Mars-Uranus-Ajax combination all year, and now exactly opposed Mars. Transit Ajax at 23° Virgo was conjoined natal Antigone-Atropos and approaching Saturn, following close behind transit Atropos at 29° Virgo, which had recently made its natal return and passed over the triple conjunction. Transit Antigone at 15° Virgo was also nearing her return to her natal degree, while transit Ophelia at 15° Taurus conjoined the Descendant and opposed natal Robinwilliams.

A sad end to one of the most unique and irreplaceable performers the world has ever seen.  

(1) Birth data obtained from Lois Rodden’s AstroDataBank, rated AA.

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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Some thoughts on the Jupiter Cycle

By Anne Whitaker | August 11, 2014

Optimistic, expansive, and meaning-seeking Jupiter is now in the sign of Leo, where it will remain until August 11, 2015. Excitement is already high; try googling “Jupiter’s shift into Leo” and you’ll see what I mean. My impression from talking to people, and dipping into social media, is that we are all looking for a bit of light relief from what has been a pretty bad news year thus far.

So what is this shift likely to mean for you and me? In this article, I will introduce the Jupiter cycle.

What is the Jupiter Cycle?

As ever, it is important at the outset of a general article to stress that one can only really judge in detail what the essence of any planetary shift is likely to be from consideration of the whole horoscope or birth chart. However, it is certainly possible to sketch out a broad picture that can offer some perspective: both to readers with some astrological knowledge and to those of you with none who are curious to know more.

Each of the planets, travelling through the twelve signs of the zodiac as viewed from Earth, has a cycle of differing length. Pluto, currently in Capricorn, will take 248 years to traverse the 360 zodiacal degrees, returning to that sign long after we are all dead and gone! Saturn’s cycle, on the other hand, is a much shorter 29/30 years. Currently in Scorpio, dredging up all kinds of sexual scandal from its previous traverse of that sign in the 1980s, it is offering the collective the famous Saturn Return experience, when Saturn returns to the place it occupied at our birth when we are 29/30 years of age and again at 59/60, inviting us all to grow up.

Jupiter and Saturn together form a symbolic, complementary whole: as its cycle unfolds, Saturn helps us to be realistic and to set limits without which no maturation or growth can take place. Jupiter creates contrast and balance to this. It energises that optimistic, expansive part of us that reaches out to the pleasure of new experience, new learning and understanding. Its natural exuberance can make life a fun, joyful experience.

It can also cause us to over-reach our limits and expect more than life can realistically deliver. That facet needs to be watched carefully when Jupiter is very active in our lives.
Jupiter’s cycle is 11-12 years: 11.6 years to be exact. It’s an easy one to track, being accessible both to those of you who know some astrology and those of you who don’t. Everyone can track through their lives, measuring the Jupiter cycles: Jupiter returns to its location in your birth horoscope at 11/12 years of age, 23/24, 35/36, 47/48, 59/60, 71/72, 83/84 in a currently average lifetime.
What do we look for in the Jupiter cycle? In essence, the start of each cycle represents the opening out of a whole new learning period, whose archetypal purpose is to expose us to new experience and new learning, and to all kinds of travelling within both inner and outer life.

Real life flesh on symbolic bones….

These experiences vary hugely from one person to another, taking their flavour from the zodiacal sign and house in which Jupiter was located at birth.

At 23/24 (Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 9th house), you might take off to Australia to do a postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education. Your friend (Jupiter in Capricorn in the 6th house) might not travel anywhere, but concentrate on mastering a new skill like carpentry, which enables him, after a few years’ apprenticeship, to set up his own business. In the meantime, my neighbour down the street (Jupiter in Cancer in the 5th house) might marry at 23/24 and have three children in rapid succession before the age of 30. In a real-life example, Alexa said: “My second Jupiter return, at age 24. coincided with me buying a house. Natal Jupiter was in Cancer, which is appropriate, of course, and the house was bigger (Jupiter) than we needed for just the two of us, so we could have space for lodgers.”

These are very different branches of experience based on Jupiter being in different signs and houses of the zodiac at birth, but they have the same underlying principle of expansion, and the growth of experience, understanding, and (hopefully!) some wisdom shines through them all.

You can also detect the archetypal lifelong themes provided via Jupiter’s placement by sign and house in your personal horoscope, as you follow the Jupiter cycle unfolding throughout your lifetime. For example, I have natal Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd house. It’s not hard to work out from this (and Jupiter’s strong links to most of the planets in that horoscope!) that an intense preoccupation with gathering and sharing all kinds of information, while placing it in contexts that expand one’s understanding of life’s deeper meanings, might be rather important to me.

The Jupiter cycle: unfolding in one lifetime

At 11-12, I passed the “Quali” (the long defunct Scottish entrance exam to determine one’s level of entry to secondary education). At 23-24, I completed a post-graduate Diploma in Education, having already been an adult education teacher for two years. At 35-36, I studied for and passed my first astrology qualification, the Certificate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (UK), prior to beginning a career as an astrologer.

At 47-48, I began the Diploma in Psychological Astrology, studying with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London. In completing this course, I commuted by plane for three years, earning myself the nickname of “The Flying Scot.” The year after the 59-60 Jupiter Return, I stepped into cyberspace via my main blog, “Writing from the Twelfth House.” My first book, a research study called “Jupiter Meets Uranus,” was published the following year.

Perhaps this personal account will encourage you to track through your Jupiter cycles and see that there is indeed a thematic unfolding of a specific kind of experience.

Fate, free will……or what?

The question of what the balance is between fate and free will has preoccupied humans for millennia and remains unresolved. However, as an astrologer, it is important to have a viewpoint regarding this ageless question. Decades of astrological practice, combined with much reading that has included what I can grasp of probability theory and chaos theory, and my own efforts to become a more conscious person have led me to the view (not original at all — many astrologers take this standpoint!) that there are certain givens in this life, as shown by the characters standing on a person’s life stage when the horoscope is drawn up. Those characters i.e, the planets, shown in the horoscope’s symbolic, archetypal patterns, are ours for life.

However, the evidence of observation and experience appears to suggest this vital point: the more conscious we become of our motivations and drives, and how they impact our inner and external life, the wider becomes the range of possible avenues of expression to which we can have access while choosing how to make our particular life’s drama as positive and creative as possible.

Bearing this in mind, let’s return to the Jupiter cycle and see how we might work creatively and consciously with its 11-12 year periods.

Working with cycles

All life cycles, whether we are looking at a gnat, a human, or a galaxy, go through the same process: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, and dying back in preparation for the new. So it is with the planetary cycles.

Think of the tiny monthly cycle of the Sun and Moon. The New Moon takes place in darkness. Only when that first magical waxing crescent appears after 2-3 days does the energy of the cycle begin to build. After a week, at the First Quarter Moon, things are taking shape. At the Full Moon, the cycle’s energy is in full light, at its most obvious. A week later, on the waning square, the Moon is shrinking, the month’s energy on the wane. Then the last, waning crescent precedes Moondark (i.e. balsamic), those 2-3 days in which the energy of the completed cycle sinks back into the Void, waiting for the energy of the next New Moon to arise.

Applying the same template to the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, it takes about a year or more for the initial upsurge of desire for new expansive challenges to stabilise and take definite form.

Jupiter in action: a real-life example

Let’s use the person with Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 9th House as our example. At the age of 23, off she goes to Australia, completes her Diploma, and obtains a good teaching job in Melbourne. She works there for a couple of years, then relocates to Sydney (first quarter phase, Jupiter now in Pisces), since she wants to take up sailing and she has a friend there who runs a sailing school.

Three years later (full moon phase, Jupiter in Gemini) she agrees to take on a teaching job at the sailing school where she has been a student. Another three years go by and she begins to feel dissatisfied and critical (last quarter phase, Jupiter now in Virgo). She has become bogged down in admin and paperwork. Not her style!

She puts less and less commitment into her job, and after over ten years in Australia, she has itchy feet again (Moondark). Nearly twelve years after arriving, full of enthusiasm, she is off to work in the Greek Islands. She has fallen in love with a Greek Australian and decides to return with him to his home island of Rhodes. She is nearly thirty-six years old. A new Jupiter cycle is about to begin.

Working with our Jupiter cycles

I’ve always found that astrology students and clients are fascinated when I unfold their major cycles with them; they find it so helpful in understanding the unfolding pattern of their lives. The Jupiter cycle is a particularly easy one to which to connect. The rhythm of the cycle, looking back, can usually be tracked. In the last year or two before a new 11-12 year period begins, one can generally perceive a certain dissatisfaction, boredom, loss of any great interest, and desire for a new challenge in the sphere of life indicated by the sign and house placement of natal Jupiter. (If Jupiter is a very strongly placed and emphasised “character on the stage,” the overall effect is, of course, amplified.) With Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd house, I clearly recall my boredom, restlessness, and desire for a new educational project towards the end of my fourth Jupiter cycle when I was 46 or 47. Alexa, with her Jupiter in Cancer, bought a house at the start of the second Jupiter cycle when she was twenty-four, “…. bigger (Jupiter) than we needed for just the two of us, so we could have space for lodgers.”

Are you a year or two into a new Jupiter cycle? Or three years into it? After five or six years, the cycle is at its Full Moon phase, its peak of energy. By nine years, impetus generally is on the wane, and restlessness is setting in. By the Moondark phase of the cycle, it really feels like time for a new project, a new venture. But you know — if you become familiar with this cycle’s rhythm — that it will probably be another couple of years before the new idea has taken shape and translated itself into a fresh, exciting direction.

One of the great gifts of astrological knowledge is the help it offers in setting our sails, metaphorically speaking, to the prevailing winds of our lives. It is useful to get to know your Jupiter cycle, in planning those times in life when your Spirit is calling you to open up your life to new experience. I do hope this introductory article has given you some useful food for reflection and an impetus to action!

It would be helpful if readers feel like sharing their experiences of Jupiter cycles. In this way, we all expand our understanding. Thanks!

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 Anne-Whitaker and Astrology Questions and Answers. Her ebook, “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” — an open-minded take on paranormal experience — is available from her blog, price $10.

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The Seven Pillars of the Matrix

By Robert Bonomo | July 28, 2014

“No one is more of a slave than he who thinks himself free without being so.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The gorgeously rich period in Alexandria during which Ptolemy wrote the Tetrabiblos and Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism, and Hermeticism were all blossoming was surely the golden age of esoteric thought. Astrology as we know it was coming together as a fusion of the Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek traditions. Classical antiquity was coming to an end with a flourish of brilliant emperors such as Hadrian and the philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Mystery schools still dotted the eastern Mediterranean in the days before Yahweh plastered the western world with his megalomania.

From this period’s spiritual stew emerged two ideas that are very important for astrology: first, that the world was ruled by a demiurge who was at best incompetent and more often malevolent, and second, that the descent of one’s soul through the sphere of the fixed stars and the seven planets impregnated it with the attributes of each of those planets. Beyond the seven classical planets and the zodiac, the soul was one with the source, the true essence of being. The journey to earth carried with it an incremental separation from that oneness as it moved step-by-step down through the planets towards earth, with each planet applying an additional veil of separation.

The Gnostic Sophia lost herself in the material plane, as did every soul imprisoned in it. Only by transcending one’s fate, or one’s chart, could the original unity be regained. Just as the alchemists tried to separate the elixir from the massa confusa, so the Gnostic Jesus came to rescue his other half, Sophia, the divine spark separated from the Pleroma.  For the Gnostics, the end of a successful spiritual journey meant meeting Sophia and Jesus beyond the seven planets and the zodiac, not within them. This idea might seem archaic in our world of material reductionist dogma, where people pray to the brand Gods while worshiping bodies and bank accounts, but it’s important to keep in mind that astrology came of age at a time of much spiritual hostility toward the material world. For modern Gnostics, Yahweh and his Arcon henchman have much in common with our bankers and their corporate media lackeys.

What would the journey of a modern soul through the planets entail? Let’s first investigate the product of the descent.  

Homo Domesticus

Delusion Dwellers by Laurie Lipton 2010 (1) Laurie Lipton

Contemporary baptized, corporatized, and sanitized people rarely have the occasion to question their identity, and when they do a typical response might be, “I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Joe, mother of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran.”

Their answers imply not only their beliefs but also the many responsibilities, rules, and restrictions to which they are subjected. Few if any of these were ever negotiated — rather they were imposed on the individual — yet people still consider themselves to be free.

But is free the right adjective for these people, or would modern domesticated simians be a better description? They have been told what to do, believe, think, and feel since they can remember. A very clever rancher has bred billions of these creatures around the globe and created the most profitable livestock imaginable. They work for him, fight for him, die for him, believe his wildest tales, laugh at his jokes, and rarely get out of line. When domesticated man does break one of the rules, there are armies, jailers, and bureaucrats prepared to kill, incarcerate, or hound the transgressor into submission.

One of the most fascinating aspects of domesticated man’s predicament is that he never looks at the cattle, sheep, and pigs who wind up on his plate and make the very simple deduction that he is just a talking version of them, corralled and shepherded through his entire life. How is this accomplished? Only animals that live in hierarchical groups can be dominated by man. The trick is to fool the animal into believing that the leader of the pack or herd is the person who is domesticating them. Once this is accomplished, the animal is under full control of its homo sapien master. The domesticated man is no different, as they were originally organized in groups with a clear hierarchy and maximum size of 150, making it easy to replace the leader of these smaller groups with one overarching figure such as God, King, President, CEO, etc.  (2)

The methodology for creating this exceptionally loyal and obedient modern breed, homo domesticus, can be described as having seven pillars from which an immense matrix captures the talking simians and their conscious minds and hooks them into a complex mesh from which few ever escape. The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can’t accept the “complexity of modern life,” i.e. conspiracy nuts.

Plato described this brilliantly in his Allegory of the Cave, where people only see man-made shadows of objects, institutions, Gods, and ideas:

“- Behold! Human beings living in an underground cave…here they have been from their childhood…necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance…the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets… and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall…”

It began with the word, which forever changed the ability of men to manipulate each other. Before language, every sensation was directly felt through the senses without the filter of language. But somewhere around 50,000 years ago words began to replace reality and the first pieces of code were put in place for the creation of the Matrix. (3) As soon as the words began to flow, the world was split, and from that fracturing was born man’s angst and slavery. The words separated us from who we really were, creating the first screen onto which the images from Plato’s cave were cast. Gurdjieff said it well: “Identifying is the chief obstacle to self-remembering. A man who identifies with anything is unable to remember himself.”

It’s no accident that in Hesiod’s ages of man the Golden Age knew no agriculture, which appeared in the Silver Age, and by the time we reach the Bronze Age, the dominant theme is toil and strife. The two key elements to the enslavement of man were clearly language and agriculture. In the hunter-gatherer society, taking out the boss was no more complicated than landing a well-placed fastball to the head. Only since the advent of farming was the possibility of creating full time enforcers and propagandists made possible, and hence enslavement inevitable.

The search for enlightenment rarely, if ever, bears fruits in those temples of words, our schools and universities. Almost all traditions point to isolation and silence as the only paths to awakening; they are the true antidotes to modern slavery. As Aristotle wrote, “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”

So, from the institution from which we are mercilessly bombarded with words and enslaved to time, we begin our descent through the seven planets and into the Matrix.

Time  (Saturn)
There are things we are born able to do, like eating, laughing, and crying, and others we pick up without much of an effort, such as walking, speaking, and fighting, but without strict institutional education, there is no way we can ever become a functioning member of the Matrix. We must be indoctrinated, sent to Matrix boot camp, which, of course, is school. How else could you take a hunter and turn him into a corporate slave, submissive to clocks, countless bosses, monotony, and uniformity.

Children naturally know who they are, and they have no existential angst, but schools immediately begin driving home the point of schedules, countries, professions, and money, which inevitably lead the students to the concept of who they aren’t. We drill the little ones until they learn to count money, tell time, measure progress, stand in line, keep silent, and endure submission. They learn they aren’t free and they are separated from everyone else and the world itself by a myriad of divides, names, and languages.

It can’t be stressed enough how much education is simply inculcating people with the clock and the idea of a forced identity. What child, when she first goes to school, isn’t taken aback to hear herself referred to by her full name?

It’s not as if language itself isn’t sufficiently abstract, but nothing must be left without a category. Suzy can’t just be Suzy — she is a citizen of a country and a state, a member of a religion, and a product of a civilization, many of which have flags, mascots, armies, uniforms, currencies, and languages. Once all the mascots, tag lines, and corporate creeds are learned, then history can begin to be taught. The great epic myths invented and conveniently woven into the archetypes that have come down through the ages cement this matrix into the child’s mind.

Even the language that she speaks without effort must be deconstructed for her. An apple will never again be just an apple; it will become a noun, a subject, or an object.  Nothing will be left untouched, all must be ripped apart and explained back to the child in Matrixese.

We are taught almost nothing useful during the twelve or so years that we are institutionalized and conditioned for slavery — not how to cook, farm, hunt, build, gather, laugh, or play. We are only taught how to live by a clock and conform to institutionalized behaviors that make for solid careers as slaveocrats. 

Law   (Jupiter)
In the countries that claim to be democratic, the concept of a government created to serve the people is often espoused. Government, and the laws it creates and enforces, is institutionalized social control for the benefit of those who have seized power. This has always been the case and always will be. In the pre-democratic era, it was much easier to recognize who had power, but the genius of massive democratic states are the layers upon layers of corporatocracy and special interests that so brilliantly conceal the identity of those who really manage the massive apparatus of control.

The functions of the state are so well esconded in dogmatic versions of history taught in schools that almost no one questions why we need anything beyond the bare essentials of government to maintain order in the post-industrial age. The history classes never point the finger at the governments themselves as the propagators and instigators of war, genocide, starvation, and corruption. Hollywood’s version of history, the one most people absorb, always portrays “good” governments against “bad” ones. We have yet to see a film where all the people on both sides simply disengage from their governments and ignore the calls to violence.

The state apparatus is based on law, which is a contract between the people and an organism created to administer common necessities — an exchange of sovereignty between the people and the state. This sounds reasonable, but when one looks at the mass slaughters of the 20th century, almost without exception, the perpetrators are the states themselves.

The loss of human freedom is the only birthright offered to the citizens of the modern nation. There is never a choice. It is spun as a freedom and a privilege when it is in fact indentured servitude to the state apparatus and the corporatocracy that controls it.

Tribalism  (Mars)
Patriotism is pure abstraction, a completely artificial mechanism of social control. People are taught to value their compatriots above and beyond those of their own ethnic background, race, or religion. The organic bonds are to be shed in favor of the great corporate state. From infancy, children are indoctrinated like Pavlov’s dogs to worship the paraphernalia of the state and see it as a mystical demigod.

What is a country? Using the United States as an example, what actually is this entity? Is it the USPS, the FDA, or the CIA?  Does loving one’s country mean one should love the IRS and the NSA? Should we feel differently about someone if they are from Vancouver instead of Seattle? Loving a state is the same as loving a corporation, except with the corporations there is still no stigma attached to not showing overt sentimental devotion to their brands, and fortunately, at least for the moment, we are not obligated at birth to pay them for a lifetime of services most of which we neither need nor want.

Flags, the Hollywood version of history, and presidential worship are drilled into us to maintain the illusion of the “other” and force the “foreigner/terrorist/extremist” to wear the stigma of our projections. The archaic tribal energy that united small bands and helped them to fend off wild beasts and hungry hoards has been converted into a magic wand for the masters of the matrix. Flags are waved and we respond like hungry Labradors jumping at a juicy prime rib swinging before our noses. Sentimental statist propaganda is simply the mouth guard used to soften the jolt of our collective electroshock therapy. 

God   (Sun)
As powerful as the patriotic sects are, there has always been a need for something higher. Religion comes from the Latin re-ligare and it means to reconnect. But reconnect to what? The question before all religions is, what have we been disconnected from? The indoctrination and alienation of becoming a card-carrying slave has a cost; the level of abstraction and the disconnect from any semblance of humanity converts people into nihilistic robots. No amount of patriotic fervor can replace having a soul. The flags and history lessons can only give a momentary reprieve to the emptiness of the Matrix, and that’s why the priests are needed.

The original spiritual connection man had with the universe began to dissolve into duality with the onset of language, and by the time cities and standing armies arrived he was in need of a reconnection, and thus we get our faith-based religions — faith in the religious experiences of sages, or as William James put it, faith in someone else’s ability to connect. Of course, the liturgies of our mainstream religions offer some solace and connection, but in general they simply provide the glue for the Matrix. The Neo-Platonists described in great detail the world soul, Anima Mundi, and our connection to her was one of the keystones of their thought, but the Matrix drags us down to the most base material level, disconnecting us from the universal soul. A brief perusal of the news will clearly show that their “God” seems most comfortable amidst the killing fields. 

If we focus on the Abrahamic religions, we have a god much like the state, one who needs to be loved. He is also jealous of the other supposedly non-existent gods and is as sociopathic as the governments who adore him. He wipes out his enemies with floods and angels of death just as the governments who pander to him annihilate us with cultural revolutions, atom bombs, television, and napalm. Their anthem is, “Love your country, its flag, its history, and the God who created it all” — an ethos forcefed to each new generation. 

Beauty  (Venus)
The sad thing about the bread and circus is that it’s generally not even entertaining. The slaves are told it’s time for some fun and they move in hordes to stare at their electrical devices, believing that they are watching something of value when it’s generally nothing more than vulgar propaganda.

As long as homo domesticus goes into the appropriate corral, jumps when she is told to, and agrees wholeheartedly that she is having fun, then she’s a good slave worthy of her two days off a week and fifteen days vacation at the designated farm where she is milked of any excess gold she might have accumulated during the year. Once she is too old to work and put to pasture, holes are strategically placed in her vicinity so she and her husband can spend their last few dollars trying to get a small white ball into them.

On a daily basis, after the caffeinated maximum effort has been squeezed out of her, she is placed in front of a screen, given the Matrix approved beverage (alcohol), and re-indoctrinated for several hours before starting the whole cycle over again. God forbid that anyone should ever take a hallucinogen and have an original thought. We are, thankfully, protected from any substances that might actually wake us up and are encouraged to stick to the booze.  The Matrix loves coffee in the morning, alcohol in the evening, and never an authentic thought in between.

On a more primal level we are entranced with the contours of the perfect body and dream of “perfect love,” where our days will be filled with soft caresses, sweet words, and Hollywood drama. This is perhaps the most sublime of the Matrix’s snares, as Venus’s charms can be so convincing that one willingly abandons all for her devious promises.  Romantic love is dangled like bait, selling us down the path of sentimentally-coated lies and mindless consumerism.

Money (Mercury)
Money is their most brilliant accomplishment. Billions of people spend most of their waking lives either acquiring it or spending it without ever understanding what it actually is.  In this hologram of a world, the only thing one can do without money is breathe. For almost every other human activity they want currency, from eating and drinking to clothing oneself and finding a partner. While religion came from innate spirituality and patriotism from the tribe, money they invented themselves — the most fantastic and effective of all their tools of domestication.

They have convinced the slaves that money actually has some intrinsic value, since at some point in the past it actually did. Once they were finally able to disconnect money completely from anything other than their computers, they finally took complete control, locked the last gate, and electrified all the fences. They ingeniously print it up out of nothing and loan it with interest so that 18-year-olds can spend four years drinking and memorizing propaganda while incurring a financial indebtedness that will most likely never end.  

By the time typical Americans are thirty, their debt is so high that they abandon any hope of ever being free of it and embrace their mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and car loans as gifts from a sugar daddy. What they rarely ask themselves is why they must work to make money while banks can simply create it with a few keystrokes. If they printed out notes on their HP’s and loaned them with interest to their neighbors, they would wind up in a penitentiary, but not our friends on Wall Street — they do just that and wind up pulling the strings in the White House. The genius of the money scam is how obvious it is. When people are told that banks create money out of nothing and are paid interest for it, the good folks are left incredulous — “It can’t be that simple!” And therein lies the rub  because no one wants to believe that they have been so easily enslaved.
Culture (Moon)
“Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery and replace it with a mythology.”
– Terence McKenna

As Terence loved to say, “Culture is not your friend.” It exists as a buffer to authentic experience. As they created larger and larger communities, they replaced the direct spiritual experience of the shaman with priestly religion. Drumbeats and sweat were exchanged for digitized, corporatized noise. Local tales got replaced by Hollywood blockbusters, critical thinking with academic dogma.

If money is the shackles of the matrix, culture is its operating system. Filtered, centralized, incredibly manipulative, it glues all their myths together into one massive narrative of social control from which only the bravest of souls ever tries to escape. It’s relatively simple to see the manipulation when one looks at patriotism, religion, or money. But when taken as a whole it seems as natural and timeless as the air we breathe, so intertwined with our self-conception that it is often hard to see where we individually finish and our culture begins.

Escaping the Grip of Control

The Astronomer, Albrecht Durer, 1500

Some might ask why this all-pervasive network of control isn’t talked about or discussed by our “great minds.” Pre-Socratic scholar Peter Kingsley explains it well:

“Everything becomes clear once we accept the fact that scholarship as a whole is not concerned with finding, or even looking for, the truth. That’s just a decorative appearance.  It’s simply concerned with protecting us from truths that might endanger our security; and it does so by perpetuating our collective illusions on a much deeper level than individual scholars are aware of.” (4)

Whoever discovered water, it certainly wasn’t a fish. To leave the “water” or Plato’s cave takes courage and the knowledge (gnosis), not the belief, that there is something beyond the web of control. The path out of the Matrix is not for everyone because it requires dangerous unlearning, unbelieving, disconnecting, and unplugging. No stone can be left unturned within the soul of the seeker, but the reward is beyond anything words and culture could possibly offer.

Astrology can be a great help because it describes the forces that rule this realm while refraining from passing judgement on them. There is no good and bad in astrology, only archetypes driving the powers that shape our existence. Unlike almost any other worldviews, astrology simply aims to find equilibrium between a wide array of equally valued forces.

Plato described the process of leaving the Matrix over 2300 hundred years ago in the Allegory of the Cave:

“…if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled… to look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows…will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

He will… grow accustomed to upper world…first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections…in the water…then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heavens…Last he will see himself in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate himself as he is.”


(1) Used with permission of the artist.

(2) The Guardian

(3) NY Times

(4) Quest

Bio: Robert Bonomo is a novelist, blogger, and astrologer. He created a unique blend of anarcho-capatalism and esotericism in his latest novel, Your Love Incomplete, available as a free download. He blogs at The Cactus Land.

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The Venus Songbird?

By Frank Clifford | July 14, 2014

About a year ago, I wrote a Horoscope Detective column for TMA (Feb/Mar 2013) on Planetary Types. The gist was that it’s all well and good to make a direct correspondence in astrology (X planet or sign “rules” music, or Y “rules” the law) if we consider these as umbrella terms that link a planet to a field of work or the temperament that ideally suits that work. But all planets (and signs) are represented in every profession; areas of life are too broad to assign to one planet only, and there are people of “planetary types” in every area of life.

I would argue that it’s more important why we do something (for a living, for instance) than what we actually do, because the horoscope shows our motivations, passions, and personal qualities that shine through whatever work or life situation we pursue. Put another way, some astrologers are from Venus, some from Saturn, some from Jupiter, and so on. There is variance in every profession (the Gauquelins understood this when moving from statistical results linking planets to professional eminence to their later studies of keyword traits). Birth charts of those in any field are as varied as the motives, styles, and skills of their owners.

In the recent Music Issue of TMA, I wrote about the charts of 15 vocalists — each a unique song stylist — providing snapshots into some themes of their horoscopes and key aspects of their lives and work. In my research into what represents the voice, I found that Mercury and the Moon spoke most directly about a vocalist’s delivery and interpretation:

“Where is the “voice” in the chart? The first stop is Mercury (its sign position and aspects), which reveals how we compose and arrange both words and sounds. But really, the whole chart — in particular, its major aspects and the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant signs — reveals the vocal style, interpretive qualities, and “personality” of a singer.

If Mercury links to a singer’s physical, technical voice and left-brain analytic functions, the Moon (right brain) reveals how a singer interprets the lyrics and phrases a song. Both planets have specific “connect and communicate” roles, but the Moon conveys a mood to the audience. (“Iconic Vocalists of the 20th Century, Their Music, Their Lives, Their Charts,” TMA, April/May 2014)”

Later I received an email from someone, incredulous that I’d not spoken about Venus. How could I have left it out? Did I not know the links to Taurus and the throat?!

Venus appears to be strong in the charts of manufactured pop stars and MOR (middle of the road) entertainers, and it speaks of “harmony” and “popularity,” but does it say much about the type of singing voice we have? I try to keep an open mind about astrological factors — otherwise, what we expect to see is what we then find in a chart. I research from the outside-in: I like to discover as much as I can about the life and character of a public figure (in this case, their vocal style and interpretation, their musical interests and vocal qualities) and then look for these things in the horoscope.

By approaching research in this way, I’ve found that I’ve broadened my understanding of the nature of the planets and signs. We learn more when we study people who share a set of traits (or life experiences) and then look for common astrological links. And it stops us from simply thinking, for instance, that Mercury (or Jupiter or Uranus, etc.) equals astrology and astrologers, and then making a judgement about its position in charts (and its owner!) accordingly. As we learn (and keep learning), I think we must often resist the need to apply our preconceptions of “what constitutes X” to then rubber-stamp a chart. A narrow frame of reference will only result in narrow interpretations.

In my experience, pinpointing the key players in a chart can help us identify so much about a person’s motivations, choices, needs, lifestyle, and experiences. And key players appear to be planets that are: positioned around the angles; in aspect to (or ruling/dispositing) many other horoscope points (or unaspected); or singled out by being the handle of a chart shape or the apex of a T-square. When researching vocalists, Mercury and the Moon kept describing their vocal style and delivery, and Venus didn’t appear to be a major player in the charts of the hundreds of songbirds I examined.

So, how do YOU think Venus is related to music — not just by association but in actual charts and lives? I’ve posted six of the charts from my Music Issue article and invite you to add your own observations and research about their voices, musical styles, and charts. Please feel welcome to use any planet/sign/house in the chart — not just Venus — and to present other vocalists charts, too.

Data and Sources included with all charts. Charts: Tropical, Placidus, Mean Node

Frank Sinatra, December 12, 1915; 3:00 a.m. EST; Hoboken, NJ, USA (40°N45’, 74°W02’); A: Lynne Palmer quotes Sinatra’s father.
Frank Sinatra, natal

Nina Simone, February 21, 1933; 6:00 a.m. EST; Tryon, NC, USA (35°N12’, 82°W14’); AA: from birth certificate, as quoted in The Gauquelin Book of American Charts.
Nina Simone, natal

Roy Orbison, April 23, 1936; 3:50 p.m. CST; Vernon, TX, USA (34°N09’, 99°W16’); AA: note from birth registry obtained by Edwin Steinbrecher; FCC has a copy on file.
Roy Orbison, natal

Aretha Franklin, March 25 1942; 10:30 p.m. CWT; Memphis, TN, USA (35°N09’, 90°W03’); AA: from birth certificate obtained by Edwin Steinbrecher; FCC has a copy on file.
Aretha Franklin, natal

Bono (Paul David Hewson), May 10, 1960; 2:00 a.m. GDT; Dublin, Ireland (53°N20’, 06°W15’); A: Edwin Steinbrecher quotes a mutual friend, from Bono, “two on the dot.”
Bono, natal

Janis Joplin, January 19, 1943; 9:45 a.m. CWT; Port Arthur, TX, USA (29°N54’, 93°W56’); AA: from birth certificate (Janis Lyn Joplin) obtained by FCC, copy on file.
Janis Joplin, natal

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) and The Music Issue (April-May 2014). 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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A sun sign column (by a pro)

By Kate Plumb | June 30, 2014

Mary’s note: Some of you know my sister, Kate Plumb. She is an experienced, well-trained astrologer who has recently started writing a sun sign column for her local newspaper, The Independent in Sag Harbor, N.Y. I think she is doing a very nice job and thought it would be fun to include her column along with some notes about how she does it, i.e., a method for how a serious and thoughtful astrologer can write an informative and easy-to-read column for the public.

Firstly, she is using whole-sign houses, which places 0° of the sign as the first-house cusp, and the signs follow around in their natural order. She looks at the traditional ruler of the sign to see if it is making any major aspects or changing direction within the week. She also considers where in the lunation cycle we are, with strong note of New and Full Moons. The lunations are placed in their solar houses from the Ascendant for each sign (i.e., the New Moon in Cancer is in the 7th house for all sun sign Capricorns, in the 5th house for sun sign Pisces, the 12th for Leo, etc.). The same is true for stationing planets, i.e., Mercury going direct in Gemini is in the 4th house for sun sign Pisces, in the 10th for Virgo, etc. Although this sounds simplistic, it is a method that continues to show accurate and surprising results.

That’s the basic approach. Kate adds quite a bit of nuance, including weaving a hint of mundane astrology into the mix.

When reading Kate’s column (and teasing out more of her method), please note that the week under consideration takes into account the paper’s publishing schedule — the week starts on Wednesday, Mercury’s day.

Have fun, enjoy yourselves. Thank you, Kate. (She was happy for me to write about her method — no secrets revealed.)

Week of Wednesday the 2nd of July – Tuesday the 8th of July
by Kate Plumb

Read your rising sign too if you know it…

Aries (Mar 21-Apr 20) With the New Moon last Friday in your fourth house of home, father, and real estate matters and Mercury’s station to move ahead last night in your third house of siblings, neighbors, and mental activity, the focus this week is close to home. Mars, your ruler, is finally picking up speed in your relationship sector. Issues that first arose in January might begin to have some resolution. You have been going back and forth long enough. Listen to your heart.

Taurus (Apr 20-May 21) Your ruler Venus is in Gemini this week and is very busy interacting with many planets: Jupiter and Pluto on Thursday the 3rd, and Uranus and Saturn on Monday the 7th. First you are giving yourself away to excess, coupled with power struggles and perhaps jealousy; then a sudden spark appears coupled with the necessity of adjusting to reality. Gemini is a light-hearted sign; stay buoyant and use the situations encountered as material for your next creative project.

Gemini (May 21-Jun 21) Your ruler Mercury is now slowly beginning to move ahead as of yesterday. Mercury takes this backward sojourn to sift the wheat from the chaff. If you have used the time wisely by not pushing the new perceptions, concepts, and mental images into reality, you can begin to now. As Plato said, thoughts create our reality. It takes awhile to figure out what thoughts or ideas are worthwhile to put into action. Use the New Moon from Friday in your 2nd house of income and talents to begin forging ahead. One of these ideas might make you some money.

Cancer (Jun 21-Jul 22) If you were born this week you are/will be in the hot seat, as the Sun encounters Pluto on the 4th and Uranus and Saturn on the 8th. If your life purpose is symbolized by the Sun, then encountering the gods Pluto and Uranus will put you on a life-altering course that they dictate — we only respond. The U.S. birthday is this week and it does not bode well for the next year being tranquil, but instead filled with power struggles. The dire circumstances on the global front do not manifest in the same way as they do in our personal lives, but the year for you will be very different at the end than the beginning.

Leo (Jul 22-Aug 23) Your ruler the Sun is meeting some larger-than-life planets this week and sudden eruptions are possible. The Full Moon, when things come to a head, is not until next week, but because your ruler is involved this week expect to experience some bumps. It is all for evolutionary progress, which is not something that gets talked about over the water cooler; however, it may be that that is the whole purpose -— to confirm the importance of that which we cannot see.

Virgo (Aug 23-Sep 21) The week starts out with the Moon in your sign, which happens once a month for 2 -1/2 days. It is always a time of empowerment, when you feel an urge to express yourself. As your ruler just went forward last night, you are emerging from a place of inner reflection (since around Memorial Day) and are now ready to put thoughts into action. Focus on your hopes and wishes, what would be for your highest good. If you deserve a raise or promotion, ask for it. All systems are go in your career now.

Libra (Sep 21-Oct 21) Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, affections, and values, is busy this week. As Mars is still in your sign too, this can make for a very lively time. The North Node is also in your sign, so have faith that whatever is happening in your career, on the home front, in relationships and self-image is for your growth. The focus has to be with what you need, contrary to the way you like to operate — focusing on the other person. Allow what you think is fair to prevail.

Scorpio (Oct 21-Nov 22) Saturn is stuck in the middle degrees of Scorpio all month. This is the place that is the most resistant to change. Saturn sitting there will make you deal with that which you are most attached to. Scorpios develop through tumultuous crisis. You are made of sterner stuff. This station of Saturn means you are on the downward slope of the 2-1/2 year passage of the “Grim Reaper” in your sign. There will be fireworks this week, but the outcome towards the end of the week will leave you feeling stable, although with more responsibility.

Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21) Venus and Jupiter form a pleasant aspect as the week begins, so overindulgence is a possibility. You are known to expand both the pleasant and the unpleasant, or the pleasant so that it becomes the unpleasant. You are finishing up a year with your ruler Jupiter in your 8th house of money that is shared with other people (marriage or business partners), everything to do with finances and investments, creation of wills, debts, bank loans, inheritances, taxes and dealings with the government, business matters, and issues related to the dying. It also speaks to the manner of your death and your level of interest in metaphysics, the afterlife, and in the psychological processes that we undergo with a therapist. The last time this happened was July 2001 – August 2002. Affairs in these departments should have increased in the positive way should your natal Jupiter be in a good state, and less so if not. Look back on the year and on the previous time for clarification. You are the sign of wisdom.

Capricorn (Dec 21-Jan 21) The New Moon being in Cancer sets your 7th house as the focus this week and this month. Last week brought a new beginning with the New Moon, and that will culminate next week with the Full Moon. There are fireworks this week, as the Sun sets off the Uranus-Pluto square that has been igniting the planet since the Tunisian fruit vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, lit himself on fire in December 2010. All areas of your life will have been altered by the time the aspect fades next March. This week is intense regarding partnerships, especially for those born on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of January (of any year).

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb 20) Your two planetary rulers, Saturn and Uranus are making a moderately difficult aspect all month. They get to within minutes of each other but never form an exact aspect, each changing course mid month. When aspects become exact there is resolution, and a new cycle can begin. But that is not the case here. There is no solution just attempted adjustments between conservative and liberal, staying the course or moving ahead, consolidation and progressive. Some of you have the more conservative side strong, some the more progressive. Notice the tension Saturday afternoon and Monday night.

Pisces (Feb 20-Mar 21) The New Moon in your 5th house of pleasures and children makes the month a potentially happy one; graduation parties and vacations come to mind. We are midway to the Full Moon next week when matters come to a head. This week begins with clarification coming in your home and relationship affairs, as Mercury is moving slowly forward as of last night. Matters clear up when that happens; things do not stay confusing forever, unless it is you who are making it that way.

Bio: Kate Plumb, “cycles scientist,” is a certified NCGR counseling astrologer who teaches monthly at Joshua’s Place in Southampton and sees clients in her home office. She is also certified in Astro*Carto*Graphy. Website: Kate can be reached at or (631) 725-9133.

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Franz & Sophie: A Tragic Love Story

By Alex Miller | June 23, 2014

June 28, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of one of the seminal moments of the 20th Century — the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife Sophie, an event which precipitated the First World War. (1) Heir to the aging Austro-Hungarian empire, Franz and Sophie were shot and killed by Gavrilio Princip, a 19-year-old Serbian student and anarchist, while on a formal visit to Sarajevo, regional capital of the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recently annexed by Austria from the moribund Ottoman Empire.

Franz was the nephew of the reigning emperor, Franz Josef, and became his heir when the latter’s son shot himself in 1889. Five years later Franz met Sophie, a lady-in-waiting to a cousin’s wife, at a ball in Prague — it was love at first sight.

But the trip down the aisle was a long one; although of aristocratic blood, Sophie was not royal, and the imperial rules regarding marriage with the Habsburg family were very strict. Particularly as heir to the throne, the marriage was deemed unacceptable, but Franz refused to consider any other match, and he and Sophie began a clandestine affair, mostly via letters and stolen moments together. He and his uncle clashed frequently over this issue, until at last in 1900, Franz Josef agreed to allow the marriage to take place, although Sophie would have to be Franz’ morganatic wife, meaning (as noted) that she could never share her husband’s rank or status, even after he became emperor, and their children could not succeed to the throne. Granted the rank of Furstin, or Princess, Sophie’s social status improved considerably over the title of countess she was born with, but she still ranked below even the lowliest, or youngest, Archduchess. At court functions, Franz and Sophie were separated from one another, with Sophie trailing far down the reception line.

But the couple were happy and had three children, two boys and a girl, though the constant social snubs chafed Franz’ pride quite a bit. Born on December 18, 1863 (7:15 a.m. local time, Graz, Austria), Franz’ attraction for Sophie was written in the stars. His Venus at 9° Scorpio, ruling romance and partnership, closely trined his natal asteroid Sophia at 10° Pisces, indicating an ease of interaction and a potential for romantic attraction between himself and someone of that name. In effect, asteroid Sophia is acting as a “placeholder” for a potential mate, and when Sophie Chotek, born on March 1, 1868, met Franz, her natal Sun at 11° Pisces walked right into that potential, making her the right “fit” for the energy. Conjoining Sophia in Franz’ birth chart are further descriptors of their union and fate, with asteroids Habsburg, the name of his royal house, and Atropos, named for mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, conjunct from 5° and 8° Pisces.

Franz’ Venus further opposes Sophie’s natal Pluto at 14° Taurus, suggesting a deeply transformative love, but also the potential for death and destruction from their union. An early intimation of their tragic end may be seen in the archduke’s Venus conjunction with an exact natal pairing of his Jupiter and Osiris at 17° Scorpio — this prefigures a famous (Jupiter) death (Osiris, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead) , involving a partner (Venus).

Sophie’s own Venus at 18° Aries is exactly trined Franz’ natal Ascendant at 18° Sagittarius, and more broadly trine his Sun at 25° Sagittarius, as well as opposing his natal Saturn at 16° Libra, signifier both of him as her spouse and also the obstacles they overcame to express their love. Her Venus is also conjunct asteroid Pandora at 19° Aries, denoting the unleashing of unexpected consequences from their love (not the least of which was a global war).

Sophie also has a grouping of Uranus, asteroid Anubis, TNO Ixion, and asteroid Habsburg natally, at 8°, 10°, and 11° Cancer (Anubis and Ixion together at 10°), which tells the tale of their disaster –— Uranus rules shootings, Anubis is named for an Egyptian deity associated with funerary rites, Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek myth, and Habsburg indicates the familial connection that would drive the potential of the other three into manifestation.

(See graph below for the connections in this article)

Their killer and the place they died are also reflected in their birth charts and the skies on the day they died. Asteroid Sarajevo falls at 22° Pisces in Franz’ nativity, conjoined asteroid Lachesis at 27° Pisces, named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life, and squared the Sun, suggesting that this city would be instrumental in the ending of his life. Sophie’s natal Sarajevo at 14° Aquarius is exactly conjunct natal asteroid Principia (for Gavrilo Princip, her assassin) and also conjoined asteroid Franzia (for Franz) at 16° Aquarius, bringing together her husband and their assassin with the venue for their deaths. Together these exactly square a pairing of Pluto, ruling death, at 14° Taurus, and Aphrodite, ruling affairs of the heart, at 16° Taurus, another indicator that their love could lead to disaster. Principia at 0° Capricorn in Franz’ chart conjoins the Sun at 25° Sagittarius, denoting his importance in the archduke’s biography, and also Mercury, ruling youths and students, at 4° Capricorn, while squared Franz’ natal Moon, his physical body, at 5° Aries.

Franz’ natal chart also sports a conjunction of asteroid Gavrilov (for Gavrilo) at 11° Leo with asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 9° Leo, uniting a major death indicator with the name of the man who killed him. Amazingly, on the day he died, transit Requiem had exactly returned to its natal degree, bringing transit Gavrilov in its wake at 5° Leo! Sophie’s natal Gavrilov at 9° Aries squares the Cancer stellium describing her potential murder.

Two attempts were made on their lives that sunny June morning in Sarajevo. The first was a small bomb thrown at the procession from the railway station, which missed its target and killed no one, but injured several. After the formal reception, Franz insisted on a detour to the hospital to visit the wounded, but no one told his driver. As the vehicle made a turn to follow the route of the official itinerary, the head of security stopped the driver and informed him of the change in destination. As the driver backed to make the turn, he brought the car to within mere feet of Gavrilo Princip, waiting for lunch outside a deli, who simply pulled out the revolver concealed in his jacket pocket and shot both Franz and Sophie at point blank range. Franz was hit in the neck and bled out within minutes; Sophie was shot in the abdomen and died instantly. Franz’ last words were an impassioned plea to the love of his life: “Sophie! Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!”

The Sun at 5° Cancer that day was conjunct both Pluto, ruling death, at 0° Cancer, and asteroid Sarajevo, the town they died in, at 1° Cancer. The Sun was exactly squared by transit asteroid Principia, representing their killer, at 5° Aries, resting exactly atop Franz’ natal Moon. Transit Sophia at 20° Cancer aligned with asteroid Nemesis at 17° Cancer, and transit asteroid Francis (also for Franz) at 7° Aquarius aligned with transit Damocles at 6° Aquarius and Uranus at 10° Aquarius. Transit asteroid Habsburg at 5° Virgo combined with Mars (violent death, attacks) at 1° Virgo, TNO Ixion (murder) at 8° Virgo, and the Moon at 11° Virgo. Jupiter and Osiris were once more conjoined, as in Franz’ birth chart, now at 21° and 27° Aquarius, with Osiris exactly conjoined Sophie’s natal Mars and Franz’ natal Damocles, that doom hanging unseen overhead.

A month after their deaths, Austria attempted to impose harsh conditions on Serbia’s government in retaliation for the attack, issuing an ultimatum that would have required Serbia to accept Austrian secret police into their country to suppress anarchists, and control of their press, conditions which were generally considered so extreme that no sovereign government could accept them. When Serbia refused the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary declared war, and a series of complex alliances and agreements went into effect, whereby Germany and Italy mobilized in support of Austria, while Russia came to the defense of its fellow Slavic nation Serbia, backed up by England and France.

The ensuing conflagration spread across Europe and the globe, eventually drawing in America on the side of the Allies, costing some 16 million lives and toppling monarchs from their thrones across the continent. The conflict led directly to the establishment of a communist government in Russia, and the fragile peace four years later sowed the seeds of World War II.

But for Franz and Sophie, the story ends on June 28th, 1914, in sleepy Sarajevo. The date was also their 14th wedding anniversary, and they died as they had lived — together and united.

Franz and Sophie


(1) morganatic: adjective used to describe a marriage in which neither the spouse of lower social rank nor any children of the marriage may inherit the title or possessions of the higher-ranking spouse.

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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