TMA This Week

Neptune and the Dream in the US

By Mary Plumb | June 20, 2011

I read an article, The Secret Sharer, by Jane Mayer in the May 23 issue of The New Yorker that has gotten a lot of attention. (1) It is about the escalating prosecution of whistle-blowers by the Obama Administration. Although when he took office in 2009, President Obama “championed the cause of government transparency and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers,” his administration has “pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness.” Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist, is quoted in the article: “Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon.”

The Secret Sharer is specifically about the alleged misdeeds of former government employee, Thomas Drake — a quote from whom will get me to the astrological content of this blog. After acknowledging his dashed hopes about Obama, who he had expected “to roll back the prosecutions launched by the Bush Administration,” Drake says, “…. power is incredibly destructive. It’s a weird, pathological thing. I also think the intelligence community co-opted Obama, because he’s rather naïve about national security. He’s accepted the fear and secrecy. We’re in a scary space in this country.”

I’m thinking now simply about the ongoing disappointment of Obama supporters as a signature of the Sun square Neptune in his natal horoscope. In its problematic characteristics, Sun with Neptune can suggest someone who is easily influenced by others, who has influence over others, or is susceptible to both glamour and flattery.

The U.S. Sibly horoscope has Mars at 21º Gemini in the 7th house, square an elevated (closest to the 10th-house cusp) Neptune at 22º Virgo, sign of its detriment. As a nation, we have a collective storyline that includes both nebulous (or ill-defined) actions or motivations, and a susceptibility to propaganda or seduction, side-by-side with a guileless belief in altruistic action.

What a perfect fit for the country, as President Obama’s natal Mars at 22º Virgo is exactly conjunct the country’s Neptune.

(President Obama also has the natal Sun-Neptune midpoint at 25º34’ Virgo, with Mars at 22º34’ Virgo. It’s a three-degree orb, which is larger than I usually use, but with a larger than life character, perhaps a wider orb can be allowed.)

Although I can’t remember the details, in his book, Political Astrology, Michael O’Reilly made the observation that since the advent of televised campaigning, the candidate who wins the presidential election has a prominent Neptune in the radix. Neptune, of course, rules the media, and the “winner” has to play well on the television.  This perhaps suggests that the “dark side” of Neptune, (i.e., weak but glamorous, etc.) has become a stronger feature in presidential politics.

The nation has had the transit of Neptune over the U.S. Moon. (The transit was precise from March 2010 through January 2011. In November, at the direct station, Neptune is at 28º 08’ Aquarius and the U.S. Moon is at 27º10’, less than a degree apart). The Moon governs the people, the populace. As a nation, we have been “under the influence,” have been beguiled and beguiling, seduced and seductive, for the promise and hope of Neptune in all of its possibilities.

I’m finishing this on Monday morning with the Moon at 27º Aquarius, a lunar return in the Sibly chart. I wanted to close this blog with the positive, altruistic note of Neptune, and a nice synchronicity is showing up to assist with that.

I opened an email about the talk that Van Jones (of The American Dream Movement) gave this weekend at Netroots Nation. According to the Truthout email, Jones “channeled the disappointment and the heartbreak so many on the left have been feeling, and laid out the dream of a truly different future – one we can build together.”

Van Jones is a Virgo, with Uranus and Pluto on either side of the Sun. (3) There is no birth time; this is a sunrise chart.

Pluto, considered in modern astrology to be the “higher octave” of Mars, is at 22º51′ Virgo conjunct the U.S. Neptune — a telling signature of a call to disrupt the complacency and confusion of status quo Neptune and reawaken an authentic and vivid compassion for the common good.


(1) All quotes from: The Secret Sharer

(2) We Are Deep Patriots

(3) Sunrise chart: Van Jones, September 20, 1968, Jackson, TN. Source: Wikipedia


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The Moon and Mercury Overthrow the Sun

By Gary P. Caton | June 13, 2011

The total Lunar Eclipse of June 15, 2011 is a rare one because it is a central eclipse, which means that the Moon passes right through the very heart of the Earth’s shadow. This is because it is also right in the middle of its family, i.e. its Saros series, and eclipses often reach their greatest totality at the midpoint of the series, when the astronomical alignments are most precise. The current eclipse is number 34 of 71 eclipses in Lunar Saros 130, which began June 10, 1416.

Saros 130: June 10, 1416 2:01:41 pm LMT Constantinople

Tropical zodiac, Whole Sign Houses



We notice in this chart that the series began in Sagittarius, with Mercury in his own sign and conjunct the South Node. Also, Venus and Mars occupy their own domiciles, making for a very powerful array of personal planets to assist with personal transformation. Pluto conjunct the Sun also gives an emphasis and impetus to transpersonal modes of transformation.

In addition to framing this current eclipse within its own Saros cycle, it is obvious to this astrologer that there is something of a pattern emerging in the pattern of both solar and lunar eclipses. This total lunar eclipse is the second of three total lunar eclipses in a row. This in itself is not all that rare, having happened five times in the last 21 years. We are concurrently within a series of four partial solar eclipses in a row. This seems to indicate that the lunar eclipses will be packing more of a punch than usual for this period, perhaps becoming even more important that the solar eclipses.

Generally, the Moon is said to govern domestic matters — the people and emotions — so a lunar eclipse tends to have a more personal effect than the solar eclipse, which has a distinctive socio-political effect. Also, since the lunar eclipse is by nature an opposition, it has the tendency to work itself out via relationships with other people in our lives. However, since the previous total lunar eclipse of December 21, 2010 happened on the solstice, this astrologer wrote on December 13 in a TMA blog: “We now begin a period where the Mundane or World Axis will be forced open, ejecting its inner contents and forcing all the World to become aware of the loss. This is because an eclipse is essentially a rip in the fabric of Time, and the South Node total Lunar Eclipse suggests both a personal and collective loss.”  (1)

Accordingly, just a few days before this momentous eclipse, a street vendor in Tunisia set himself ablaze in an act of protest and sparked a series of demonstrations that gained momentum and eventually resulted in an entire region becoming politically active. This wave of political unrest, which has been termed variously as the Arab Spring or Jasmine Revolutions, has as one of its slogans, “Ash-sha`b yurid isqat an-nizam, which means “The people want to topple the regime.” (2) In fact, regime change by the people was accomplished twice in the three months following this lunar eclipse, in Tunisia and Egypt.

Now the UN is supporting a possible regime change in Libya, and President Obama has consistently said it is only a matter of time before Gaddafi is gone. The astrology seems to agree. With the continuation of these powerful lunar eclipses, it seems that the People, who are symbolized by the Moon, have a window of opportunity to make themselves more important than their rulers, symbolized by the Sun. Being conjunct the Galactic Center and still near the winter solstice point, it is possible that this total lunar eclipse could have equally powerful socio-political effects and serve to extend the “Arab Spring” into summer.

Total lunar eclipse: June 15, 2011; 4:13:56 pm EDT; for Washington, DC

Tropical zodiac, Whole Sign Houses


Total Lunar Eclipse

The chart for the June 15 Lunar Eclipse belies another important part of the astrology around this emerging socio-political process. With Mercury once again in Gemini and conjunct the South Node, as in the first eclipse of this series, he clearly has something important to tell us. This reminds me of an important part of the Mercury retrograde cycle that I spoke about on my lecture tour of the northeast this spring. As the late, great Robert Blaschke has previously pointed out, the three Mercury retrograde periods of each year happen in the same astrological element. (3) Since December, this has been the element of Fire, so it seems like an important coincidence that just before the interior conjunction of the Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius, a young man set himself on fire and sparked a series of “days of rage” across the Arab world. The symbol for Fire is an upward-pointing triangle, and these popular up-risings have definitely shown the spontaneous and volatile nature of the fiery element.

When we look closer we can see that the two phenomena are directly related. The three consecutive total lunar eclipses mentioned above are happening in opposition to Mercury’s conjunctions with the Sun.

December 19, 2010: Mercury Rx conjunct the Sun at 28° Sagittarius

December 21, 2010: Total Lunar Eclipse at 29° Gemini

June 12, 2011: Mercury (direct) conjunct the Sun at 22° Gemini

June 15, 2011: Total Lunar Eclipse at 24° Sagittarius

December 4, 2011: Mercury Rx conjunct the Sun at 12° Sagittarius

December 10, 2011: Total Lunar Eclipse at 18° Gemini

Because he rules the two mutable or “common signs” of Gemini and Virgo, and perhaps because he has dominion over local places such as markets and schools, Mercury is also often connected to the common or everyday people, particularly those who work with their hands. So the Moon, which symbolizes the People in mundane astrology, is involved in a series of powerful total lunar eclipses that are also linked with Mercury, and this is happening at a time when his retrogrades are activating the fiery element.

It seems that by teaming up, these two phenomena have accomplished much more than they could have alone. Previously, Sudan had been the only Arab country to successfully overthrow dictatorial regimes — in 1964 and again in 1985. Now, if Gaddafi is ousted, this will mean that we have seen more change in one year than has happened in almost half a century. The People, symbolized by the Moon and her powerful lunar eclipses, have come together and communicated (Mercury) their displeasure with autocracy in a very fiery manner. Fire is the most transformational of all the elements. Perhaps through the rest of this year we can each take a lesson from the Arab world and experience a personal revolution in at least one of the houses of our chart where the fire signs reside.


(1) Cardinal Cross Lunar Eclipse: December 21

(2) Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests

(3) Benign Retrograde Mercury Heralds Shift into Fire Signs

Recommended Reading:

Robert Blaschke (2006), Vol V Holographic Transits, Port Townsend, WA, Earthwalk School of Astrology.

Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 22 years. After exploring Shamanism & the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary holds a degree in Counseling and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to Astrology over 18 years. Visit Gary at his website:

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The Twins Are Eclipsed

By Mary Plumb | May 30, 2011

The “Two Stars” known to the Egyptians are the brightest stars in the constellation that came to be known as Gemini. There are different mythological stories of these twin stars, named Castor and Pollux by the Romans. (1) In most telling, they have the same mother and different fathers. Castor is a son of Zeus, and thus immortal. When his beloved, mortal brother Pollux is killed in battle, Zeus responds to Castor’s request to keep them together and they become the Gemini constellation. In another part of the tale, once both brothers are granted immortality, they spend alternate days on Olympus with the gods and in Hades with deceased mortals. They were the only beings who participated in both worlds.

Earthly life is dependant on the Sun, the central star of our solar system. The Sun is in Gemini from May 21 – June 21. I always think about Gemini as I first read about it in an early book on esoteric astrology, The Wisdom in the Stars, by Joan Hodgson. She makes the parallel between the twins and the dual nature of the human mind. The so-called “lower mind,” or ordinary mind, is subject to fear, doubt, restlessness, discursive thought, insecurity, worry, and on and on (and on and on). The  “higher” aspect of mind has access to truth, beauty, insight, equanimity, etc. According to this view, we all have both aspects of thought in our cellular imprint, and the story of Gemini reminds us to cultivate that higher quality of mind; to speak from there when we can, to draw that out from all of our fellow humans. The essence of Gemini is to make connections and to communicate; it is a natural impulse of the sign.

I appreciate the reminder about that “higher” quality, as we are unmistakably awash in what looks a lot like the other aspect of mind. I follow celebrity gossip and hilarious YouTube videos as much as anyone, but it may be that that sometimes under-cultivated, forgotten but steadying, strengthening and stabilizing aspect of mind is a quality to be called upon during these rapture-filled, environmentally-imperiled, and man-made-disaster-filled days. (2) Deborah Houlding makes a very interesting point on her wonderful site: “In a strange parallel to the Roman myth, Pollux has experienced an increase in luminosity and become a 1st magnitude star, the brightest of the two, whilst Castor, which held this honour until three centuries ago, has undergone a reversion of brilliance, and is now almost 2nd magnitude.”

This month’s two eclipses in Gemini are going to shake up, recalibrate, and reverberate through all manner of Gemini’s correspondences: the borderless places; the conscious and subconscious minds; young people; the immediate neighborhood; the mental vehicle; our response to the situation at hand; naming things (and nicknames); use of language; travelers and trips; polarities and their synthesis (good/bad; inner/outer; right-left brain and on and on).

Some teachings suggest that the synthesis of polarities occurs in the human heart. The esoteric ruler of Gemini is Venus. Venus is traveling as comfortably as can be in the sign of Taurus for the June 1 solar eclipse at 11º01’ Gemini. She will move into Gemini for the lunar eclipse on June 15 at 24º23’ Sagittarius.

Gemini, of course, rules the hands, arms, shoulders, the nervous system, and the lungs. Once, when I was in a tumultuous state (gripped by anxiety and fear), I was taught a simple (and for me, unforgettable) breathing practice: Sit and begin to relax with awareness in the heart. Quietly, slowly, begin to inhale all the love you can hold. Slowly, quietly, exhale all the love you can give. Repeat and repeat, as often as you want.

Here’s to a happy/sad; full/empty; light/dark; funny/bleak eclipse season for us all. And may we employ all of the nimbleness and the swift-footedness that Gemini offers to us, and relax in the movements between Olympus and Hades. (In case it’s not apparent, the myth suggests we don’t get to stay in either place for too long!)


(1) Skyscript

(2) Although it’s meaning may have been temporarily captured by reductive thinking, “rapture” is, in fact, “the state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy and an expression of ecstatic feeling.” Neptune’s few months in Pisces (April – early August 2011) is opening a window to its long passage (2012 – 2025) through the sign.

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Venus: Enduring Symmetry

By Mary Plumb | May 23, 2011

I spent most of the weekend contemplating and evoking Venus and Mars, who are conjunct today at 9º Taurus. Beautiful Venus, supremely at home in Taurus, bright in the pre-dawn sky, intimately cavorting with her paramour and consort, Mars. What a glorious suggestion in partnership is present for us in this planetary dance: pure desire and the appreciation of all that is beautiful become one, becomes obvious — we want what is beautiful to us. Our desire nature is melting into an experience of elegance and harmony, happiness is potentized, etc.

(If readers need a suggestion on applying the conjunction more personally, check your natal horoscope — whatever house system you use, I would also suggest looking at your whole sign houses — to find where this hopefully gentle and sweet, possibly tactile, renewed alchemy of Venus and Mars is most clearly taking place. You also might take note of the natal houses with Aries, Taurus, Libra, and Scorpio on the cusps.)

I’ve been thinking about the first “appearance” or heliacal rise of planets a lot lately thanks to the current early morning sky and Gary Caton’s superb blog from a few weeks ago. And I’m trying to understand how it is specifically calculated — thanks again to Gary for his patience with me on this.

Robert Blaschke and I did talk about this phenomenon as well and, with his wife Carol’s permission, I include a graphic that may be helpful here. As Robert used to say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The exact heliacal rise of a planet (as recorded by the Babylonians) is an issue for modern astrologers. Atmospheric conditions and latitude are some of the factors that make a planet’s heliacal rise vary (and be difficult to calculate). Venus is the brightest, however, so her appearance as a morning star is often sooner than the commonly used 15 or so degrees of separation from the Sun.

There are some fine contemporary observers of the sky who are bringing this direct view into astrological practice again. Daniel Giamario, Gary Caton, and Adam Gainsburg are three whom I have talked to and whose work is readily available. (1)

The last heliacal rise of Venus, which sets a tone for this cycle, was in early November, when Venus appeared in the morning sky at about 3º Scorpio. She was in her retrograde phase and a few days past the inferior conjunction with the Sun on October 28 at 5º30’ Scorpio. Venus is now still a morning star and in her Lucifer phase, the bringer of light.

She now has been bringing her light with an undercurrent of Scorpio, Mars’ territory. It doesn’t take a great symbolic leap to see that some of the current Venus scandals in the public sphere are a reflection of the darker side of a detriment Venus in Scorpio. Misuse of power, sex, and money all are on display in the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn cases. Strauss-Kahn, natal Sun and Venus in Taurus, is (was?) one of the world’s most powerful bankers, and Arnold needs no introduction. (His website says, ”Stay tuned for my next move.”) (2)

I was considering these matters when I got a surprising phone call from an astrologer traveling through Ashland for the night. We quickly made arrangements for me to go see her. The traveler is Arielle Guttman, author of a new book, Venus Star Rising, A New Cosmology for the 21st Century.

Although we’ve spoken over the years, this was our first face-to-face “appearance.” We talked about many things, including her book, which I have scanned (it has lots of graphics), but not read yet.

I asked her if she was using Venus’s heliacal rise in determining what she calls the “Venus Star” at birth. She explained that because of that slightly irregular timing and her obvious connection to the notion of “cazimi,” that is, a planet at “the heart of the Sun,” the idea that she develops in the book is based on the inferior or superior conjunction of Venus before birth (the inferior is always the retrograde conjunction). In other words, the cycle does not begin with Venus’s observable appearance in the sky (i.e., the heliacal rise), but it begins with the cazimi, with Venus exactly in the heart of the Sun. (3)

Arielle spoke of this degree as being our deepest, most natural talents and gifts. (The cazimi, whether superior or inferior, occurs pre-natally, when we are in the womb.) It has a different quality than our natal Venus placement. She explained to me the essence of how she uses the point, and its implications were quite obvious to me immediately.

I look forward to reading her book and further conversations with its very insightful author.

As a personal aside, and a testament to a living astrology, we discovered that Arielle has natal Venus at 5º Leo; I have natal Venus at 4º Aquarius. The most recent cazimi of Venus was on October 28 at 5º30’ Scorpio; we met face-to-face for the first time as transiting Venus was at 9º Taurus (conjunct Mars, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article). Within this fixed cross formation of Venus, I thank Arielle for taking the time with me (which certainly helped this blog to manifest), and for all the continual and blessed unfolding that we astrologers are privileged to notice.


(2) A Shamanic View of Astrology: An Interview with Daniel Giamario by Mary Plumb, TMA Aug/Sept 2002. “Astrologer Daniel Giamario advocates an experiential approach to astrology that relies upon direct observation of the night sky. In this conversation, he discusses the background of Shamanic astrology, the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars, and the impact of the recent Saturn-Pluto opposition.”

Gary Caton’s Dream Astrologer and Adam Gainsburg’s Soulsign web sites, and Adam’s TMA blog’s on the Venus synodic cycle, A New Model for Full Planetary Phases: The Venus Journey. And, The Profound Opposition of Venus, Mars the Sun and the Moon.

(3) Deborah Houlding’s article, The Beauty of the Venus Cycle in TMA Feb/Mar 2010, considers the start of the Venus cycle to be the superior conjunction. What seems important to understand, is that Venus has an “enduring symmetry.” No matter where one considers the start of the Venus cycle (i.e, at heliacal rise, at the inferior conjunction or the superior conjunction), Venus will always make the five-pointed star in her eight-year journey with the Sun and the earth.

Please go to the link below for a graphic showing the perfect geometry, the enduring symmetry, of her orbit around the Sun:

Venus synodic cycle

If we could see from above the earth (located at the center of this diagram), the pattern looks like this:

Venus rose pattern

(I believe that Neil Michelsen’s book, Tables of Planetary Phenomena, published by ACS in 1990, was the original source of this – and many other beautiful planetary mandalas.)


Mary Plumb is available for consultation and tutoring. She can be reached at

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The Morning Sky

By Mary Plumb | May 16, 2011

Gary Caton wrote about the current, visible-before-dawn, morning-sky dance of Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter on the eastern horizon last week.

If you need a visual reminder, here’s a link again to a graphic that shows the current morning sky clearly. (Thanks to David Crook for first showing this to me.)

These planets are moving into different configurations and conjunctions for the whole month of May. Mars, for instance, was conjunct Jupiter on the last day of April; Venus and Mercury were conjunct Jupiter on May 11th; Mercury is staying very close to Venus now, making another exact conjunction on the 16th, while Mars comes to meet Venus exactly on May 20th.

I’ve woken up early to see them on the horizon. (Most days I have to use x-ray vision, as we’ve had a lot of cloudy mornings here in Oregon.) I feel like I am called early each morning to wake up. As the day gets going, the more worldly tasks and concerns take over, and time has a more “ordinary” feel. But it’s that rarity and refinement in the earliest moments of the day that is so memorable, and yet impossible to adequately describe.

The morning I was born, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter were rising ahead of the Sun and visible in the pre-dawn sky, which may best explain why the planets in the sky now have taken such a hold in my awareness and imagination this week. Although Venus was the highest and brightest morning star at my birth, Jupiter rises closest to the Sun and has made obvious recent appearances in my inner and outer world. How am I noticing this new display of Jupiter? The archetypes become more visible — from several physically large men from my past coming back for a visit (one of whom always makes me laugh), to a general buoyancy and lift of spirits in my worldview.

As for Venus, I have a different sense of what is possible in two primary personal relationships. I have managed (thus far) to open what have been heretofore less-than-full channels of communication (Mercury) with some ease, and, even a sense of grace. (Homage to Mercury conjunct Venus.)

The warrior Mars is part of the visible beauty now, of course, and these new dynamics in relationship that I am trying out have also been assisted by Mars. In the language of my local shamanic guide, I have made a definite “warrior move” inside myself that allowed this clearing in my energy field regarding words spoken to my nearest and dearest.

In others’ lives I have seen a recurring theme of new pathways emerging; some clients are reporting a tentative excitement about a project or job or direction, some on a rather grand scale. I’m finding myself listening to friends and clients all week informed strongly by the backdrop (or is it really the foreground?) of the rare planetary stellium we are a part of now. Witnessing our own lives, and supporting and encouraging others as their own psyche’s grapple, and dance, with such a grand collection of archetypes is indeed a privilege and delight.

So, I personally thank Gary Caton once again for offering TMA his heart- and eye-opening blog last week. (Gary, in fact, woke me up early last Monday – he’s on the east coast, I’m on the west — with the offer of his blog, to which I obviously and whole-heartedly said Yes.)

The skies are ever replete with stories. Here are some fine bloggers on some of the other qualities of the times.

Terry Lamb’s wonderfully titled Seek What Shines Brightly is a wise overview of the planetary currents for May 2011.

The long (and coming-to-be-exact) square between outer planets Uranus and Pluto is a collective marker of the times. Richard Giles writes on The Electrical Dance of Uranus and Pluto, which includes reference to Mayan Calendar.

Astrology Thoughts: Astrology blogs, articles & community is a wonderful compendium of links to astrology sites. It’s very nicely designed and has a cheerful and personal flavor; it is a very inviting web community.

Peter Stockingers’ Traditional Astrology Weblog (A Blog on Traditional Astrology and Astral Magic) looks at the Solar Eclipse June 1, 2011.

Donna Cunningham’s SkyWriter blog features Boundaries, Neptune and Your Astrological Chart—A Refresher Course which will be of interest to many.  As divinely inspired as Neptune can be, Donna collects lots of advice for what can be its more troublesome qualities (i.e., Feeling Drained by a Relationship? Cut Those Psychic Cords!)

Stephan David Hewitt writes on both lunations each month. His May 3 New Moon article is here. (I expect he’ll have a post on tomorrow’s Full Moon by the time you read this.)

Cathy Pagano also writes on tomorrow’s Full Moon in Scorpio and includes discussion of the Pleiades. As for Taurus and Scorpio, she writes: “The path of Desire teaches us to follow the blueprint of our original nature, to see Desire as our primal energy source, which compels us to discover what we are meant to be, and to do so we can grow into the fullest experience of our unique lives.”

Going back to the beginning, Adam Gainsburg is another insightful observer of the visible sky. Enjoy his thoughts (and graphics) on Mars, Venus and the Morning-Sky Dancers.

Adam has written previously for TMA. Here’s his blog on the Venus synodic cycle, A New Model for Full Planetary Phases: The Venus Journey. And, The Profound Opposition of Venus, Mars the Sun and the Moon.

Onwards, and (keep looking) upwards.

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Something Aries for Everyone

By Mary Plumb | May 2, 2011

The ongoing lineup of planets in Aries has brought demonstrations of passion and impulsive and feisty behaviors all around.

I have seen and heard about some spectacularly passionate arguments between romantic partners, coinciding with Venus at 7º25’ Aries squared Pluto 7º25’ Capricorn on April 27th. (Uranus, Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter were also in Aries that day.)

Both of these situations involved long-term partnerships where unbridled, long simmering emotions came right up, front and center. At the least, both of these situations involved a dramatic and quite public (Aries) purging (Pluto) and certainly a release of energy; it’s too soon to say if any rebuilding or recreating of these particular relationships will occur.

But as Venus moved on to 11º55’ Aries, she opposed Saturn retrograde Libra at 11º55’ on April 30; we know that significant negotiations and realignments continue in all relationship matters. I have heard of some realignments with a healing tone; the heat and forward motion of Aries is present, but not all partnership engagements have been as volatile as the two I personally know about.

The influence of the martial sign is evident on the geopolitical scene. As the Moon moved into Aries on the 29th, it crossed Uranus at 2º, then squared Pluto and opposed Saturn, before conjoining Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter early on Sunday morning, May 1st.   Aside from what we can imagine as an active time for those playing in the realms of sexual passion, the aggression has increased in at least one of the current wars.

NATO forces, which began an air assault on Libya on March 21 (with the Sun conjunct Uranus at 1º Aries), escalated attacks this week and (unconfirmed) reports say that Gadaffi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren were killed on April 30. Even for wartime, this is controversial. It was described as a “disproportionate use of force … leading to detrimental consequences and the death of innocent civilians,” by the Russian Foreign Ministry. (1)

As I’m writing this the networks have announced that the President is about to speak to the public that Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan. (The announcement came at 11:36 p.m. in Washington.)

The first obvious thing is that transiting Saturn is now on the World Trade Center first plane attack Ascendant, and Venus and Mercury are on the Descendant.

This is news (Mercury) that completes something (Saturn), or provides some sort of “bookend” to the attack.

Looking at the composite chart for President Obama and the event (i.e., the first plane at the World Trade Center), we see Sagittarius rising with the ruler, Jupiter, at 21º Aries. (2)

Transiting Jupiter is now at 22º Aries, i.e., a successful outcome? At some level, I suppose this is true. The idea that this may be a personal (and political) success for the president is also suggested by the Sun in this composite horoscope. It is 0º42’ Virgo; Obama’s progressed Venus is now at 0º22’ Virgo. Transiting Neptune, now in Pisces, shows the spectacular (or exaggerated or misleading)  media attention to the event.

The U.S. Sibly progressed Venus, ruler of the natal 10th house of reputation, is also at 21º49’ Aries.

The U.S. Sibly progressed Moon at 2º Libra has come to the natal Midheaven. This shows a lift to the spirits of the American people and an increase in our visibility in the wider world. (People are celebrating across the nation and congratulatory messages are coming from around the world.)  The Sibly progressed Moon is also trine Obama’s natal Moon at 3º Gemini.

The transiting Moon at the President’s announcement was at 28º Aries, conjunct his natal Part of Fortune.

The impact of this event on U.S. politics and the complexity of its implications in the rest of the world will unfold — probably in some startling ways. (The current Aries stellium contains Uranus; transiting Mars and Jupiter are conjunct Obama’s progressed Ascendant and he has progressed Mars conjunct the Descendant.)

The immediate reports strongly demonstrate the Aries archetype. The teams of “elite forces” who were responsible for the military action that killed bin Laden were referred to (by former Army General Barry McCaffrey) as “the most dangerous people in the world.”

The gruesome details continue. On Monday morning, a White House official called the raid in Pakistan a “kill mission,”  with the intent  “to wipe him off the face of the earth.” A bullet to the left eye killed bin Laden. In medical astrology, the Moon rules the left eye in a male. There was a rare triple conjunction – the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter conjunction at 23 Aries  – on May 1, the day he was killed.

Bloody wounds to the head and elite military operations fall under Aries, of course; the spontaneity of people cheering in the streets, in what looks like a sense of relief and simple happiness, demonstrates another side of the archetype.

Although President Obama has committed to a large-scale military presence in Afghanistan for the next four years (progressed Mars conjunct progressed Descendant), my (simplistic and naïve – there’s Aries again) hope is that the death of bin Laden will increase the American public’s demand to bring the troops home.

On a far more light-hearted note, but still within the theme of the Aries stellium: in yoga on Sunday a woman at least as old as me (and I’m not saying how old that is) got up into a headstand and stayed there for quite awhile.

She had just the right support from her fellow student’s hand (Saturn in Libra) and was able to go up. She was so happy; this was a first after many, many years of practicing yoga. Yoga practitioners know that inverted poses are challenging and to experience one is an exhilarating moment.

Aries rules the head, of course, so here’s to all of us being able to stand upside down in some way in our lives and turn our view of this whole world on its head.

Onwards! What a week we have ahead of us.


(1) Huffington Post

(2) I first starting looking at composite charts for an individual and an event after reading an article called “A New Way of Forecasting: The Composite Transit Chart,” by Robin Heath, in Aug./Sept. 1999 TMA. (That issue is, unfortunately, sold out.)

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Harmonic Charts

By Mary Plumb | April 25, 2011

Ashland, Oregon has a lively and curious astrological community. Doug Kellogg is a long-time resident who was one of the first astrological programmers. In 1979, he wrote the first encyclopedic astrology programs for the emerging personal computer market, first sold by Quicksilver Productions and then by Astrolabe.

Doug gave a very informative and inspiring talk, An Astrological Microscope, at our monthly NCGR meeting last week. The subject was harmonic charts and I wanted to share a bit of it and send you to his web site, where you can enter birth data and see beautifully-designed charts for harmonics (which can be calculated at his website for harmonics from 1-24).

For those unfamiliar, harmonic charts offer a way to see the underlying patterns in a horoscope. The 1st-harmonic chart is the chart wheel we usually see; it relates to the number one, and the conjunction is its aspect.

We are also familiar with, and can readily see, the 2nd and 3rd harmonics in a chart. Dividing the 360º wheel by two (i.e., the 2nd harmonic) produces the opposition (180º) aspect; dividing 360º by three (the 3rd harmonic) gives the trine (120º) aspect. The 4th harmonic is a multiple of two and gives the square (90º) aspect. The 6th harmonic, a multiple of three, gives the sextile (60º) aspect. These are the basic and commonly recognized aspects: the conjunction, trine, square, sextile and opposition.

Getting a bit more complex, but still commonly used, the 8th harmonic chart (a multiple of 4 and 2) shows the semi-square (45º) and sesqui-quadrate (135º) aspects.

However, we move into more subtle territory by dividing the circle by the prime number five, the 5th harmonic, which produces the quintile (72º) aspect, and by the prime number seven, the 7th harmonic, which is connected to the septile (51.4º) aspect.

The ninefold division of the chart, the 9th harmonic, corresponds to the novile (40º) aspect, used extensively in Vedic astrology.

Although there are the ever curious who study all the different harmonics, the most commonly used are the 5th, 7th, and 9th harmonics.

The fifth-harmonic chart is connected to the qualities that make us human, i.e., the five senses and one’s talents and creative or scientific abilities. (Albert Einstein has a very strong 5th-harmonic chart.) The 7th-harmonic chart has had many speculative interpretations, including artistry and music, though some see it as connecting to chaotic or unusual worldly events.

This view of the 7th-harmonic chart and the septile (51.4º) aspect  has gotten some attention recently. Tem wrote about the long 7th-harmonic (septile) aspect between Neptune and Pluto in recent years (2006 – 2012).

Astrologer Robert Wilkinson has called the septile the aspect of “the grand irrationality.”

For other resources on harmonics, there is a wonderful article in TMA, Feb/March 2003, by Edward Gillam, called The Septile and the Seventh-Harmonic Chart. He gives a good overview of the history of harmonics, including the seminal work of John Addey, Charles Harvey, and David Hamlin. (If you don’t have the issue, you can still order it here )

For some good introductory articles on the web:

Bob Marks has a clear explanation in his article, Harmonics.

Chris Mitchell captures the similarities between harmonics and music.


But, for now, take a look at the visually rich harmonic charts you can generate (for free) at Doug’s site.  Just enter you birth data and select which harmonic charts you would like to view. The design of the horoscopes is artistic and colorful; they evoke a different experience in seeing a horoscope.

To help orient you to the chart’s design, try looking at your horoscope in the first harmonic to start. This is the horoscope you are used to seeing and you can see some of the design conventions Doug uses. For example, a thin red line indicates the Ascendant and a purple line shows the Midheaven. The Ascendant stays in its familiar place in all the other harmonic charts, but the purple line for the Midheaven will appear in different places on the wheel.

Another clue: if you have a quintile (72º) aspect in the natal chart, it will appear as a conjunction in the 5th-harmonic chart. Likewise, a septile (51.4º) aspect  in the natal chart will appear as a conjunction in the 7th-harmonic chart.

Although this simple blog is an introduction to a vast subject, I have a feeling that the visuals Doug has created will be appealing to many. Let your right brain and imagination guide you, and see what you can see. It is a way to begin to look at your own familiar horoscopes through a different lens.

Your comments and insights are always welcome.

Here’s to the music of the spheres. May we all have a harmonious week in all endeavors.

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THE Wedding

By Mary Plumb | April 11, 2011

In response to several requests, I am discounting my anarchist tendencies and looking at the charts for Kate Middleton and Prince William this week. (Anarchy is in the air, of course, as they are marrying under the applying transit of Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn. Apparently, U.K. police are concerned about “anarchists” along the path of the wedding party and are hoping to avoid eggs being thrown at the royal couple’s car.)

We have no birth time for Kate, so we can apply techniques that are not reliant on a precise time of birth. We can look at the pre-natal solar eclipse set for the individual’s place of birth to see a deep, ongoing theme in the life — a glimpse of the essence of the life purpose.

The sign of royalty marks Kate Middleton’s PNSE, set for her birthplace: 0º Leo is rising, with the north node at 1º and the Sun and Moon at 7º Leo.

Kate Middleton PNSE

The 1st-house ruler, dignified by sign and in the 1st house, gives a definite, strong, and regal presence to this chart. Appearance, presentation, and a dramatic impact are part of the signature of one born with this pre-natal eclipse signature. (Remember, this is specific to the birthplace.)

Like her mother-in-law, I think Kate has an undercurrent (at least) of deviance and a quirky humor – in the natal chart the Sun is semi-square Uranus, and Mercury in Aquarius (20ºS 28’) is parallel with Uranus (20ºS 37’).

Kate natal chart, sunriseSaturn squares the nodal axis. Saturn, exalted in Libra, is dispositor of her Capricorn Sun, showing a formality and structure to her role in life.

Rather stunningly, both she and William were born on an eclipse. Kate was born on the day of a lunar eclipse, with Sun in Capricorn and Moon in Cancer. William was born on June 21, 1982, the day of a solar eclipse at 29º47’ Gemini. He was born at 9:02 pm, by which time the Sun and Moon were both in Cancer, the Sun at the very potent Aries point, i.e., 0º Cancer.

William, natal

William has Neptune at 25º33’ Sagittarius conjunct the Ascendant (27º43’). Kate’s natal horoscope has the Sun (22ºS 08’) closely parallel Neptune (22ºS 06’), suggesting she may appreciate a dreamy or glamorous quality in a man; her guy has Neptune on the Ascendant. Neptune also suggests how photogenic they each are, and the prominence of the media in their lives.

William has Juno, the asteroid goddess of marriage and commitment, in a very prominent place – at 2º 57′ Capricorn, it is closely conjunct the Part of Fortune in the 1st house. The marriage partner is prominent, dutiful, and brings benefit.

William is now at his progressed New Moon, which is also a solar eclipse. (This is precise on June 5 at 27º42’ Cancer.)

He has other telling aspects now in the progressed chart: the progressed Moon, dispositor of his natal Sun, is at 25º Cancer sextile natal Venus at 25º Taurus (exact on April 16). His progressed Venus enters Cancer on April 26 and conjuncts the natal Sun.

Kate’s progressed chart has a significant omen for marriage as well. Although without a time, we can’t be precise, but within the year surrounding the wedding, her progressed Sun (18º Aquarius) is trining progressed Mars (18º Libra). So, he has the feminine planets (Moon and Venus), and she has the masculine planets (Sun and Mars) in aspect by progression – a harmonious inner condition for each of them.

The Moon was in Cancer the whole day Kate was born; her progressed Moon is in Leo and she is quite close to a progressed Full Moon. Again, with no birth time, it is estimation, but the Full Moon is closely applying. (If she was born in the early morning, just after midnight, the progressed Moon will be full within the first year of her marriage; if born right before midnight, in the late evening, the Moon is less than a degree from full on the wedding day.)

The wedding is on April 29, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. in Westminster.

Wedding, William & Kate

The Moon at 26º Pisces is at “the bending”, i.e. square the nodal axis, specifically here, at the “north” bending, which resembles the north node, a point where energy comes in. The north bending is where events and experiences will manifest in the outer world. We know that this marriage will, in part, play out in public life and will surely be one of the most photographed and observed marriages of the time. (1)

Transiting Neptune in Pisces is making a water trine in William’s chart with his Sun in Cancer and Jupiter in Scorpio, ruler of Sagittarius Ascendant and natally placed at the Midheaven. It certainly will be an emotionally fulfilling day for him.

As mentioned, William was born on an eclipse, a marker of one whose life is carried by the larger currents of history. Both he and his mother’s lives were very marked by eclipses; there was a solar eclipse in the sky on September 2, 1997, two days after Diana died.

On August 31, 1997, when his mother died, William’s progressed Sun was 14º Cancer, the degree of the natal north node. He was then at a progressed Full Moon, which was also an eclipse; the progressed Moon was at 22º Capricorn.

William, progressed to Diana's death

My friend, the late Robert Blaschke, noticed that the years in which there is a progressed eclipse were often the most important years in one’s life. (Not every person’s chart will have eclipses by progression, of course; there had to have been an eclipse in the sky within a few months after birth.) William had a progressed Full Moon the year his mother died and he’s getting married at the progressed New Moon. His biography is unfolding in quite a touching way for the gentleman with the luminaries in Cancer.

William and Kate’s wedding is about six weeks before the June 15 lunar eclipse at 24º 23’ Gemini/Sagittarius. This falls on his Ascendant/Descendant and Kate’s natal Neptune.

And with Neptune so strong between them, and the very recent ingress of Neptune into Pisces, the wedding Moon in fertile Pisces fits the mood.

All the external considerations and formal duties aside, Kate and William are two individuals with the natal Moon in Cancer. Emotional closeness is a compelling motivation for the Moon in Cancer. May they have a very happy life together.


(1) From a blog I wrote earlier: “Planets at the South Bending are related in meaning to the South Node, that is, they signify a point of release — experiences are internal and have difficulty being expressed outwardly. The North Bending resembles the North Node, which is a point where energy comes in; events and experiences will manifest in the outer world.
To easily see which bending the planet occupies in a chart, start with the North Node and move clockwise around the wheel; if a planet is at the opening square, it is the South Bending. Continuing clockwise around the wheel, if the planet is at the closing square, e.g., 270° from the North Node, it is the North Bending.”

(If your interested in another demonstration of a pre-natal solar eclipse chart for a birth chart with no known time, see my blog on Michelle Obama.)

Be well, everyone. Have some fun when you can!

Mary Plumb is available for personal astrology sessions or tutoring. Contact her at

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A Legendary Beauty Passes Away

By Mary Plumb | March 28, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor died on March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles at the age of 79. The actress was a child star — she made her first movie when she was 10 — and was often called “the most beautiful woman in the world.” One obituary writer, who knew her personally, wrote:  “Ms. Taylor was beauty incarnate.” (1)

Elizabeth Taylor, natal: February 27, 1932, 2:15 a.m. GMT; London, England. A data

Elizabeth Taylor, natal

When she was 18, the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz saw her for the first time: “She was the most incredible vision of loveliness I have ever seen in my life.”

Ms. Taylor’s prenatal solar eclipse degree (a lifelong sensitive spot) is 17º15’ Libra, opposite the natal Venus (17º09’) and Uranus (17º03’) conjunction in Aries. (Venus and Uranus are also parallel.) Reinhold Ebertin calls the combination of Venus and Uranus “the arousing of love.”

In reading about her life in the tributes that have appeared this week, there is so much mention of her deep violet eyes; you can feel how she captured people with her beauty. (This very evocative beauty may also be a quality brought by Black Moon Lilith, who is very nearby at 22º Aries. I have seen her presence in horoscopes of powerfully attractive/seductive women (and men). The horoscope has Libra on the 10th house, so Venus rules her reputation and the most public part of the natal chart.

The director Joseph Mankiewicz also had a telling description of the woman whose natal horoscope has three planets in Pisces, including the Sun opposite Neptune. He said about Ms. Taylor: “ ‘…living life was a kind of acting,’ that she lived her life ‘in screen time.’ ”

She, of course, had a long career in film and was also renowned for her pioneering work as an AIDS activist. Her friend, Rock Hudson, died in 1985 of the disease; he was the first big Hollywood star to go public with the details about his battle with the illness. (The natal Venus-Uranus is square to Pluto in the 8th, a signature for bold and compelling expression in sexual, and other, matters.)

Ms. Taylor has Sagittarius rising in the natal horoscope, with Jupiter in Leo, square the Moon in Scorpio. Saturn, which is parallel the Moon, is in rulership at 0º19’ Aquarius. When she was nearly 60 (her second Saturn return), she said: “I’ve been lucky all my life…Everything was handed to me. Looks, fame, wealth, honors, love. I rarely had to fight for anything. But I’ve paid for that luck with disasters.”

She had many serious illnesses in her life (including 30 surgeries) and was reported to be close to death’s door on several occasions. (Ms. Taylor’s natal vertex is at 25º Cancer conjunct Pluto in the 8th.)

In November 2004, her publicist announced that she had congestive heart failure. The progressed Sun was at 19º Taurus, conjunct natal Chiron at 19º Taurus. She survived for six more years until her death in March 2011.

Bi-wheel: Elizabeth Taylor, natal and progressed to March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, natal & progressedThe progressed Moon (ruler of the 8th) is at 28º Virgo, having just passed the natal south node at 27º Virgo. (Some readers might be interested to note that on the 45º dial, directed Jupiter, ruler of the 1st, had come to the Moon/Pluto midpoint at her death.)

Elizabeth Taylor passed away the day after her lunar return.

Lunar return chart for Los Angeles, March 22, 2011

E. Taylor, lunar return preceeding death

The lunar return has 23º Cancer on the Ascendant, conjunct natal Pluto on the cusp of the 8th, and the natal vertex (25º Cancer). The Midheaven is 10º Aries, which is the natal 4th cusp. The lunar return also has Saturn in the 4th house, with the transiting nodes square the natal nodes.

May she rest in peace.

(1) All quotes and biographical material from The New York Times

(This blog barely touches on some of the themes in Ms. Taylor’s rich life. Readers may be interested in looking at her synastry with Richard Burton (born on November 10, 1925 at 3:00 p.m. in Pontrhydyfen, Wales – this time is unverified, i.e., DD) and Mike Todd (born on June 22, 1909, Minneapolis, MN, no time known). We might say that Ms. Taylor’s natal placements (i.e., Venus conjunct Uranus square Pluto; Sun, Venus, Mars in Pisces and the Moon in Scorpio, etc.) suggest an very rich and exciting emotional life. These are the two men who she named as the loves of her life.

Mary Plumb is available for personal astrology sessions or tutoring. Contact her at

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Uranus the Awakener

By Mary Plumb | March 7, 2011

This week’s overarching theme is the movement of Uranus into Aries. There are phenomenal acts of bravery on world stage (1), but I am going to focus in this blog on being true to one aspect of Aries, that is, by keeping it simple and personal.

Richard Tarnas first made the association between the planet Uranus and the Titan, Prometheus, in his book, Prometheus the Awakener (1995). (2)

As Uranus changes signs — after a brief stay in Aries last year from late May through early August — we are collectively responding to a deep memory of our ability to steal fire from the gods, for the benefit of mankind.

A personal revolution is at hand for each one of us as Prometheus steals fire from the gods now through the sign Aries, the sign of individuation and singularity. It will feel scary; we are at the limit of convention and security in some significant way inside ourselves. We will cross some barrier that heretofore has enthralled us.

Awakening comes as we respond to what is over the edge and just out of view. It can be experienced on different levels in each new moment, for instance, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

We may notice this new possibility in our own beings by its slightly deviant or eccentric flavor. And by the suddenness with which it arises; we have just not seen (or felt) anything like it before. Certainly, the portal through which we are capturing fire now might have a contrary and arrhythmic feel, but that is a hint of the way forward.

Here is a poem a friend wrote this week that tells of the revolution (she is not an astrologer):

“We are fighting this revolution with Light
With love, with wisdom
Our new weapons of Choice
Telling the Truth no matter what
Honoring choices being made
Which doorways are now Open    
The Phone Lines are Now Open
This Revolution of Spirit of Freedom of Love
Getting to Face the Present in Honesty
We are All Getting Stronger  
More honest in Showing Up
In looking for these Angels finding the Desert
The landscape of Beauty in the Minimal
The Internet and Phone make us World Citizens
May We Deepen Our Resolve to Allow what is coming”

And here are some ideas about Uranus moving into Aries from a blog I wrote in May.

“In Aries, Uranus awakens through pure joy in the life force, courage, impulsiveness, acting as a warrior, and jumping in without thought. In Aries, Uranus awakens through a pronounced and fearless individuality. Uranus in Aries agitates and accelerates our physical activity; the conquering of new lands and spaces; heroes and leaders; the military; surgical equipment and procedures; headaches and sleeplessness.

Uranus in Aries may bring detachment from, and a different appreciation of, the experience of being alone.

Uranus can also be deviant, disagreeable, distorted, eccentric, perplexing, and extraordinary. It is where we disobey and bring disorder. Uranus rules uprisings, uncertainty, the unconventional, the uninvited, the unprecedented, and the untimely. In  Aries these qualities come to life in plain view.

Uranus alarms, amazes, and astonishes — in Aries, we are astonished by our courage.”

Here’s a beautiful view of the solar flare eruption occurring now. Expected to last for at least a few more weeks, it is a vivid picture of fire unleashed.

And, if you haven’t seen this week’s laughing baby (over 8 million have), this little fellow is making a perfect commentary on the times: His father has received a job rejection notice, and the baby is channeling the pure hilarity and joy that an unfettered Aries can bring.


Have a good week, one and all.


(1) For example, Wael Ghonim, “the voice of Egypt’s revolution,” spoke at the TED conference this week. He was arrested and imprisoned for 12 days as the revolution started. He said that the change in Egyptians was overwhelming; he felt as if he had been in prison for 12 years, not 12 days, by the amount of change he saw as the people broke through the “psychological barrier of fear.”  Watch his speech here.

(2) The Titans were descendants of Gaia and Uranus. They ruled in the Golden Age, before the Olympians overthrew them.

“[Prometheus] was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.” Wikipedia

Mary Plumb is available for personal astrology sessions or tutoring. Contact her at

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