Time Out

transOnce again I find myself unable to compose my thoughts coherently enough to write my planned article on Jupiter – Neptune. Life is extremely tough, as reflected by my various directions, arcs and transits which I include here for anyone with a mind for such things to wonder at, it is not an especially pretty picture, it hasn’t been easy for the last few weeks and the next few are not improving considerably.

I am not complaining, only explaining. I believe that it is not what happens to you in life but the manner in which you deal with it which has most bearing on your prospects and I try to meet each day’s challenges calmly and evenly, but even with that intention, I am fair amazed at the tone of many of the interactions I have been subjected to by certain people of late. Long story short, we’re not even into the New Year yet and I’m already looking forward to seeing the back of 2009.

Just kidding.


So, my article will have to wait until my mind is more composed. Hopefully Friday. Be well.

Bon Noel…

xmas_dinner2Today I wanted to write something about Jupiter – Neptune. My Christmas, in part at least, had something of that ambience to it, but also, I missed my children very much indeed, so I will save my next article until Tuesday. I ate my Christmas Day lunch on the beach with Alice, far from civilisation, under a waterfall and we had turkey and rocket sandwiches with a glass of cold Chablis, and when it got almost too dark to see, we stumbled back home over the rocks. I took a partial pano of the spot (which you can click for a considerably larger view) and it was wild and cold and inexpressibly beautiful.

You may also wish to read a more exhaustive account of our Christmas chez Alice…

I wish you all a very happy Christmas indeed.

A Sense of Saturn (Part 2)


Saturn is very comfortable in Libra, the sign of its exaltation, and to some extent it embodies, via the polarity some of the youthful potential of Saturn in Aries. Britney then relates and appears as a Libra Saturn, while Prince William will be motivated to try and create a life purpose from it. This suggests incidentally a preoccupation with justice but most especially a great sense of duty and responsibility. Bob Geldof somewhat evinces this same quality, albeit self-consciously; his dedication to the Live Aid projects is testament to this exact principle, Saturn in Libra is greatly concerned with natural justice.


Saturn in Scorpio is a very different animal from Saturn in airy Libra. Here there is a powerful need to get below the superficial in life and a measure of fatalism too. Most especially, Saturn in Scorpio is secretive and concerned with the quiet exercise of power and authority, Scorpio is the principle of control, and Saturn creates something of a constraint from it. It creates great endurance however, and a propensity for tackling difficult problems that others might balk at. It is interesting to note that both George VI and his great-grandson share a peregrine Saturn too.


Examples of Saturn in Sagittarius are difficult to find in the world of celebrity; the impulsive, unconstrained impetus that is the sign of the archer is really at its least comfortable here.


Saturn in Capricorn is a very comfortable placement, although peregrinated, it must be very powerful, if not somewhat debilitating. Ted Kennedy is the 2nd longest Member of the US Senate and is broiadly respected across the political spectrum. He is also undoubtedly one of the most powerful men in the world in his role as a kingmaker and political player. Sean Connery evinces most perfectly the gravitas and immediacy of respect that Saturn creates so easily in its own sign.


Aquarius too is a good placing for Saturn and creates a slightly offbeat form of respectability that is very clearly evinced by Michael Caine, it becomes more pronounced – as does any positive potential of Saturn – with age and maturity. Jodie Foster too shares a peregrine Saturn in Aquarius.


Finally, Saturn in Pisces, which creates a real test of compassion; the danger for this placement is that the native can struggle to muster any genuine sympathy or to connect with the other person in any meaningful way. It can therefore create a tendency to exploit others, and in the case of Heidi Fleiss, this is clearly an issue. David Carradine by contrast, with his screen portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970′s TV series Kung Fu, has subsequently become interested in Eastern spiritualism and evidently portrays something of that ambience in his manner of relating.

Wherever Saturn is found it creates a test based upon the principles of the sign and house placement, one that is characterised by early difficulty and – providing the lesson has been learned with a measure of humility and responsibility – eventual exaltation.

A Sense of Saturn: through the signs…

Astrology simply cannot be about lists. A list of qualities is an attempt to extrapolate something that is innate and this is fundamentally why there is no better adjective to describe the quality of Saturn than Saturnine. We can use approximations that flesh out this fundamental and core energy such as thoughtful, austere, serious and so forth, but the true understanding of any placement lies in a realm somewhat above the language that is used to describe it; it is (as someone once said about the objective of poetry) attempting to describe the indescribable.

It is for precisely this reason that I wish to underline the key insight that best illustrates the quality of a sign placement, we have to look to people to truly apprehend the meaning of astrology; words fail us, and not necessarily because we have a poor facility for language. Language fails us, in fact, because the thing we are trying to describe is somehow too profound to be grasped intellectually. We need to simply feel it.

Thus, today, I am going to post the first part of an understanding about Saturn. There will be no list of qualities, simply an example of Saturn in each of the signs using the three most urgent expressions of any planetary energy or focus: rising, peregrine or conjunct the Sun. Of course there is a subtle difference between the three which bears examination.

  • A rising planet modifies the appearance and initial manner of relating; it is the quality of first impression that is made by the native.
  • A peregrine planet is an overwhelming force in the native’s life, often it will run away with the entire chart. The impetus can be quite compulsive and overwhelming and often creates an overpowering sense of purpose in the life expression.
  • A solar conjunction creates a self-ideal, the native strives to express this quality, not in an unconscious manner like the rising planet, actually in a rather self-conscious manner. It is how they wish to be perceived.


Thus John Voight appears as Saturn in Aries, Kylie is on a mission to embody it and Sir David Frost consciously aims to express it. Saturn is in fall in Aries, but somehow it works rather well (and this would be, in my opinion because Mars is exalted in Capricorn which rules Saturn, thus there is a route to exaltation even in a sign of detriment.) The opposition to Sun in Libra bears some examination too (I wrote about this before) since the mutual reception by exaltation contains some measure of promise (Hugh Jackman, Emily Procter).


Saturn in Taurus is not so easy to find good examples for: Nancy Kerrigan, the Olympic figure skater was famously clubbed in the knee by rival Tonya Harding and almost lost her place in the 1994 Winter Olympic trials as a result. Saturn of course rules the knees in the physical body. No coincidence. The opposition to Sun in Scorpio is shared by Tom Conti and Roy Rogers.


Once again, consider the qualities of each of these individuals in terms of appearance and first impression (in the case of Mick Jagger), in the life purpose with Jim Morrison (and Jimmy Page who also evinced Saturn peregrinated in Gemini) and in a more conscious attempt at self-realisation with Malcolm McDowell. Jimi Hendrix had the Solar opposition.


Thus with Saturn in Cancer: David Beckham has the appearance and manner of it, George Bush has made a mission out of it (protection of the homeland) and Danny Glover – who plays the serious and responsible (Saturn) family man (Cancer) role opposite offbeat and unpredictable Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon movie franchise so well, consciously aims for it.


Thus, James Woods, who is somehow so very serious and yet showy all at once has an almost perfectly Saturn in Leo appearance and manner. Barry Gibb has peregrinated Saturn in Leo and also peregrinated Sun in Virgo, and his picture is an almost perfect exposition of Virgo and Leo taken to the extreme. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the other hand is determined to express that combination of Sun and Saturn (doubly so by rulership and conjunction), so little wonder that he wants to assume a position of regal authority.


Finally we have Virgo: which evinces a similarly neat ambience, a rather thorough and detail focused persona or manner.

Whilst looking to all of these examples gives considerable insight into the sign quality of each, they all share a common saturnine thread, for the most part every one of these individuals, with Saturn stressed, prominent or powerful in some sense, evinces a measure of seriousness or gravitas in their demeanour and for this reason they will all struggle to appear especially youthful. The one real exception to this is found in the case of peregrinated Saturn in Aries which in old age (Saturn) gives a propensity to youth (Aries). This quality (peregrinated too) is shared by Twiggy, the British model, who in her 60s has become something of an icon for older women due entirely to her remarkably youthful appearance and demeanour.

I will continue this article with the remaining 6 signs in a future instalment.

The 8th House: A Good Death?


If you’re a halfway competent astrologer and you have no interest in knowing how you’re likely to meet your maker, then stop reading now.

Today I am going to explore some of the key insights relating to death in the nativity; it is a profoundly difficult subject for very obvious reasons and not one that I would ever make mention of in consultation, however, it provides a fascinating area of study and it is possible to demonstrate that the manner of death is a very fruitful domain for study using the astrology.

What I will not attempt is to formulate a method for predicting the time of death, that is a level of detail in which I am not remotely interested, and I cannot imagine any reason or logic that would make such a discipline even remotely attractive. This article will only seek to determine the manner in which the end is met, not the timing of it.

I have long known – broadly – how my life will conclude and it holds remarkably little fear for me; I am reconciled to it and – perhaps due in part to that long familiarity – I find it vaguely comforting to have some sense of what I might expect at the end. I am also absolutely confident of my conclusions in this regard, I have looked at too many nativities of the deceased to harbour any illusions about the probabilities of such profundities. In addition, for the astrologer, the methodology of predicting the manner of death is really quite straightforward. As ever though, due to the Cascade Effect, hindsight lends all manner of granularity to the picture, texture that can only be guessed at beforehand. Of course this is one of the key criticisms of the whole of astrology, but, as with all immeasurabilities, a sense of form is not rendered pointless because the finished piece is still in the conceiver’s mind’s eye.

So then, to practicalities.

The key elements are as ever: placements in the 8th, the ruler of the 8th house cusp and its conditions, Pluto and broadly, in the sense of determining the conditions ruling the end of the life, the 4th, placements in it and the ruler of the 4th house cusp.

The 8th house, which I have written about before is not so simplistically (as it is often maligned) the house of death. It provides considerable insight into the conditions of the physical death, but the difficulty with comprehending the intrinsic nature of the 8th is based upon its primativity. Simply put, the 8th rules the birth-death-rebirth principle and in this sense it tells us much about how we start over, how we remove the old to make way for the new: mundanely it says something about how we end relationships (see the astrology of marital breakdown for more), how we quit our jobs and to some extent too, our attitude toward possessions and money, taxes, credit, our partner’s resources and of course, sex.

But that’s another story for another day.

In general terms, a tenant within a house overrides the ruler of that house’s cusp, most especially though, the proximity of a tenant to the house cusp is proportional to the weight of it in the analysis. A tenant applying to the 9th cusp therefore is often of less import even to 8th house affairs than a placement in the latter degrees of the 7th. Also, the Cascade Effect suggests that clues about one’s demise can be gleaned from other affairs of the 8th. Thus, for example, if you experience sudden relationship breakdowns, then you can be fairly sure that your exit from this life can be similarly fast. Let us consider the zodiac in this respect: if your 8th house cusp is in the sign of or the sign ruler is similarly configured, or that planet is within the 8th or especially applying to its cusp:

Aries (Mars): sudden, possibly violent, head or brain configured.
Taurus (Venus): slow, generally peaceful, maybe due to overindulgence, throat.
Gemini (Mercury): Possible multiple causes, mental deterioration possible, lungs and breathing.
Cancer (Moon): At home, overeating may be a factor, stomach.
Leo (Sun): probable cardiac problems, some drama.
Virgo (Hygeia): Often a quiet demise in modest circumstances, not dramatic, digestive system.
Libra (Venus): Not difficult, maybe related to kidney function.
Scorpio (Pluto): Possibly confined or violent, alcohol.
Sagittarius (Jupiter): Abroad or away from home, possibly overindulgence.
Capricorn (Saturn): Slow degenerative demise probably in old age.
Aquarius (Uranus): Sudden, possibly unusual demise, rare diseases, blood problems.
Pisces (Neptune): Confused; cause of death obscure or uncertain, alcohol, poison, drugs, mistake, suicide.

In general terms the elements define themselves, with earth tending to physical disease, water to depression and so forth. Of course, these are no hard and fast rules. Consider Karl Marx who, with the 8th house cusp in Libra actually died of pleurisy, a classically Geminian death. However, a quick glance at his astrology confirms that Mercury was peregrine in Gemini: and when you consider the Cascade Effect again, it becomes a factor which runs away with the entire chart, a brilliant mind, a classically Mercurial demise. Peregrination, which very often rules the life, similarly can have a pronounced influence upon the death too.

Let us consider some concrete examples.

00) Pissburgh, PA, USA

Andy Warhol, artist: 6 Aug 1928 )6:30 (EST +5:00) Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Andy Warhol lived with an acute gallbladder problem his entire adult life. Warhol died in New York City at 6:32 a.m. on February 22, 1987. According to news reports, he had been making good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Prior to his diagnosis and operation, Warhol delayed having his recurring gallbladder problems checked, as he was afraid to enter hospitals and see doctors. The sun square to Jupiter is especially pertinent to the gallbladder difficulty, wherever this aspect is found, there is a sensitivity to indulgent habits that usually finds its way out into the liver or its associated functions.

Now consider this news report taken from the New York Times, December 5th 1991:

Care Faulted In the Death Of Warhol

Andy Warhol — anemic, undernourished and fearful of hospitals — slipped into a coma after surgery and died virtually unattended because his doctors overloaded him with fluids, a lawyer for his estate said yesterday in opening arguments in a wrongful death suit.

The lawyer, Bruce Clark, said that New York Hospital negligently pumped more than twice the required volume of fluids into Mr. Warhol when he underwent gallbladder surgery five years ago and that the resulting internal pressure caused his death from heart failure.

Pointing out the vein of his right arm to the State Supreme Court jury in Manhattan, Mr. Clark said: “They pumped him full through here and they never kept track of what came out later. The fluids drowned him.” ‘Where Were They?’

Mr. Clark, the lawyer for the heirs to the estate, including Mr. Warhol’s two brothers and the Warhol foundation, recounted what he called mistakes and omissions by the doctors and hospital staff both before and after the 58-year-old artist’s surgery.

Now look to the astrology. We ought to consider the tenants of the 8th first, although Moon is, in my view somewhat discounted since she applies to the 9th with alacrity. Uranus then, and in Aries suggests sudden endings, and rather unexpected too; Warhol’s gallbladder problem was not considered to be remotely life threatening.

More intriguingly, the ruler of the 8th is Neptune. Consider some of the language in the above news report: “overloaded [...] with fluids”, “wrongful death”, “the fluids drowned him”, “where were they” and “mistakes and omissions”. A litany of Neptunian language indeed. Thus, liquids, mistakes, confusion and abandonment are all themes which are intrinsically associated with Warhol’s death. The actual cause of death: “a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia” is entirely in keeping with Uranus – Saturn (by Ebertin, inhibitions of rhythm, heart-block) and with Neptune on the degree of Leo for the atrioventricular septum, the muscle wall which separates the ventricles of the heart one from the other, then this hardly constitutes a surprise.

Therefore, both Uranus (tenanting the 8th) and Neptune (the 8th house ruler) describe key qualities of  his death.

The same conditions and insights occur in other cases. John F. Kennedy, the American president had Mars in the first degrees of the 8th, thus a violent end, and of course, Mars rules firearms too. Lee Harvey Oswald had Mars in the 8th house and in Aquarius, thus sudden, unexpected and violent and also involving firearms. Marilyn Monroe had Mars and Uranus in the 8th, thus sudden, unexpected and violent also, but as with Warhol, the 8th house cusp in Neptune creates another possibility, and of course the mystery and confusion surrounding the circumstances of her death remain to this day, this from Wikipedia:

On August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4:25AM from Dr. Hyman Engelberg proclaiming that Monroe was dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. Sergeant Clemmons was the first police officer to arrive at the death scene.Many questions remain unanswered about the circumstances of her death and the timeline after Monroe’s body was found.

The official cause of Monroe’s death was classified by Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office as “acute barbiturate poisoning”, which he recorded as a “probable suicide”. Eight milligram percent of chloral hydrate and 4.5 milligram percent of Nembutal were found in her system after the autopsy.Her death was classified as “probable suicide”, but because of a lack of evidence, investigators could not classify her death as suicide or homicide.

Once again, with Pisces configured the terminology is resonant with Neptunian themes: “many questions remain unanswered”, “acute barbiturate poisoning”, “probable suicide” and “lack of evidence”.

There are always subplots. Andy Warhol’s Pluto was in Cancer on the degree for the duodenal opening of pancreatic duct, and very close therefore in proximity and function to the gallbladder itself. The closest aspect in his entire astrology at only 4 minutes of arc was Mars square Neptune, an aspect which in itself promotes wastage; Warhol was painfully underweight (a common side-effect of gall diseases in general due to an inability to process fat) at 5 feet 11 inches in height, he weighed only 138 pounds (a touch under 10 stone).

When Warhol’s body was weighed at autopsy he weighed 150 pounds, the hospital had arguably pumped 12 pounds of fluids into his body by mistake. That equates to approximately one and a half gallons of fluid by weight.

Andy Warhol was inadvertently drowned.

Sun conjunct Pluto: Minimalist or Megalomaniac?

Sun Pluto creates intense self-focus and a tendency to overpower others.

Sun Pluto creates intense self-focus and a tendency to overpower others.

One of the key functions of the solar principle in the astrology is to provide a facility by which we dignify ourselves, it creates an ideal self-awareness, an aspiration or desirable benchmark of selfhood and thus, we are given cause to strive to attain that sense of ourselves. A badly placed, stressed or underpowered Sun creates a difficulty with realising our self-ideal, or a great psychological tension in the apprehension of it. At worst it creates arrogance, hubris, conceit and confidence dysfunctions. Sun related to Jupiter and in bad aspect will give a tendency to ostentation and pretentiousness, to Saturn, pessimism and self-doubt, to Uranus, abruptness and crankiness and to Neptune self-deception and a tendency to vagueness. Where Pluto is configured to the Sun, all bets are off.

Traditional wisdom has it that the conjunction more than any contact is governed in its tone by the nature of the combining powers. For this reason, Venus-Jupiter is considered powerfully fortunate, while Saturn Pluto, and to a lesser extent Mars Saturn are considered to be among the most difficult of all conjunctive blends. The reality though is that it is extremely rare to find an outright positive combination with Pluto, regardless of aspect type. I have written about this before, wherein the key understanding of the impetus of Pluto which is to transform that within our nature that is most compulsive and is therefore by definition the most difficult aspect of being to transform, was extrapolated. Thus, for example, and rather mundanely, Pluto in the 2nd creates compulsion around financial issues and possessions, wherever Pluto is configured, and as the natural ruler of Scorpio and the 8th, the fundamental pressure is one to give up, to let go, to dig down to the bare minimum and the very essence of things in order to discover the underlying structures of true value; thus in the 2nd there is an enormous compulsion to realise the finances tangibly and without much awareness of any alternative, and yet, the native with Pluto in the 2nd must learn to give up on money if they are ever to evolve and be free of it. To some extent, wherever Pluto is found there is a Spartan ethic, a calling to minimalism, and thus, true wealth might be found. The difficulty is ever the insidious and compulsive nature of Pluto however; as Hades wore a mask of invisibility when he visited the human world, so Plutonic force operates unseen and unremarked in our lives. We are unaware for the most part that he is even there, even if – to others – his effects are blatantly obvious. We cannot look into the mirror of self-reflection and see Pluto, for he is completely disguised to us.

It is this blind and compulsive quality to Plutonic force which creates the great difficulty, for it effectively creates a profoundly subtle and insidious well of motivation; one that we are not at all aware of experientially, and wherever Hades is configured, that overbearing energy will leak out. Thus any contact to Pluto will have an undertone of dark, insidious compulsion to it.

Now consider that insight in relation to the Sun.

What it relates is the reality that the quality and condition of the Sun will be compulsively supercharged by the combination with Pluto. The innateness and obsession of the Pluto blend is however nowehere more pronounced than in the conjunction: the conjunction is by its very nature a blend, it is not – as with a square – a jarring, uncomfortable awareness of strain, nor is it – as with the trine – an easy and fluid frisson of ease, thus Plutonic force is nowhere more disguised than in the conjunction. If the Sun is an ideal then we look to the sign and house to understand the nature of the ideal self-image, and if Pluto is configured by conjunction, then immediately that ideal is given enormous, insidious and compulsive power.

Consider then Sun in Libra, conjunct Pluto. The ideal of marriage becomes paramount, compulsive and overwhelming. With Capricorn (and any children being born within the next couple of weeks will be the first for nearly 300 years to evince this combination) natives will be obsessed with the ideal of worldly achievement and career success. Thus, the Sun sign and house placement as well as any other aspects to Sun will be of primary condition in gauging the overall quality of the configuration to which Pluto will retrospectively add compulsion, power and subtle force.

Sun conjunct Pluto people are typically difficult to reconcile within relationships, their ideals are so insidious that it creates a very real difficulty for them to compromise within those bounds and because the solar principle is in effect a dominating and leading principle, it rarely allows itself to be controlled in any meaningful way. Conversely, it creates a genuine – if subtle – craving for rulership in the native. At worst it creates a martyr to one’s own ideas, somebody for whom there is simply no alternative to their vision. At best it can create an extremely powerful and forceful individual who is driven to achieve their objectives, if not always ruthlessly, certainly with unceasing drive and focus.

But there is another key observation about the Sun-Pluto conjunction.

The solar principle is also, in essence, a male principle. It is the husband in relation to the wife, therefore, in a very real way, the Sun-Pluto blend is easier to handle in a male nativity (and I have written about both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlie Sheen in this exact regard previously) simply because in a male chart the ideal male principle can be found within, whereas in a female astrology it must, by definition, be sourced elsewhere.

Usually through the husband, lover or other significant males within the life.

Women with Sun conjunct Pluto are often therefore drawn to seek partners who are in some way powerful, mysterious and very often wealthy in their own right. The nature of Pluto though creates a compulsion which very often seeks to test the ideal, mostly because they cannot control it directly. For the Sun Pluto wife therefore, the husband will be subtly and continually tested for weaknesses and flaws to ensure that he is still maintaining the ideal and because Plutonic force is so insidious and compulsive, this process will continue very probably for years with fairly predictable results. Eventually, a flaw or weakness is found and then it is exposed, worried at, widened and denigrated until eventually the confidence is undermined and the great fear of the Sun Pluto wife, that their chosen mate might not be able to maintain their infallible ideal, is realised. In this way, the Sun Pluto blend creates its greatest calamity, a self-fulfilling prophecy with two mostly innocent victims.

Wherever Sun conjunct Pluto is found there is an astonishing need to transform the self-image and most particularly the image of the ideal-self. For the woman with Sun in Libra conjunct Pluto she must recognise the burden she is placing upon her husband to be the perfect marriage partner for what it is: insupportable. For the wife with Sun in Capricorn conjunct Pluto likewise, her husband’s career success and status must not be the be all and end all of his purpose in her life, otherwise when he fails to live up to those inhuman expectations (as he inevitably will eventually) the marriage will suffer a real crisis and the husband will be driven away or simply broken by it. Pluto is not a sympathetic force.


Leona Helmsley was a billionaire New York City hotel operator and real estate investor. She was a flamboyant personality and had a reputation for tyrannical behavior that earned her the nickname “Queen of Mean”. That image of Helmsley was sealed when a former housekeeper testified that she had heard Helmsley say: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes …“, a saying that became notorious and identified with her for the rest of her life. She was later convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989 and served 19 months in prison (and two more months under house arrest), after receiving an initial sentence of 16 years.

00) Marbletown, NY USA

Leona Helmsley, hotelier. 4 July 1920 06:00 (+4:00) Marbletown, NY USA

Helmsley evinced a cazimi Venus conjunct Pluto. Sun Venus alone creates a popular and charming disposition and in the sign of Cancer a decided interest in the home, but here Pluto adds compulsion and insidious force and a real element of fanaticism in the concerns of the solar principle, so here is someone who can be fanatically charming. Venus too rules the personal finances, so an element of idealism about wealth is given a Plutonic charge and becomes an overwhelming concern. In such ways are billionaires made no doubt. Hygeia rising gives a clean-living look and feel and manner of relating too, which must have added to her charms and helped her to disguise the Hadean need for control to some extent, which, with cazimi Venus conjunct Pluto in the 12th would have manifested in a more generally unconscious fashion than usual since 12th house placements are very often suppressed and unrecognised.

So consider, an ideal of wealth (Sun conjunct Venus) realised through property and providing hotel rooms  (Cancer) which eventually devolved into imprisonment (Pluto/12th) and ultimately house arrest (Pluto in Cancer untransformed).

Had she devoted her enormous energy to a transformative Plutonic ideal: perhaps by providing shelter to the homeless then her name would be revered more than reviled, but that is the great difficulty with Pluto, if it were simple to transform, the world would be a whole lot less crazy than it is.

Lost in Translation: Neptune in the 3rd

nep3_01Today, I would like to look a little at the various manifestations of Neptune in the 3rd house. It is never kind to mock the afflicted. However, since I can speak entirely subjectively – I have Neptune in the first few degrees of the 3rd in Scorpio – I feel I am allowed some absolution. Scorpio is not an uncomfortable placing for Neptune, although it requires a considerable transformation before its best qualities might be realised. Neptune transited Scorpio between 1956 and 1970, so its effects are especially generational, but of course, in the personal nativity there are specifically Neptunian qualities and predilections which, when properly understood, give considerable insight into the placement.

I am first and foremost an astrologer, which in my case is nearly completely Jovian and Chirotic, but Neptune has a profound power in my life even so, my interest in music, poetry, film and most especially photography provides clear evidence of this, but with Neptune in the 3rd, what is perhaps even more clearly an indication of Neptune’s influence, is my quite shockingly atrocious sense of direction.

When I lived in North Wales an old college friend came to visit and we decided to celebrate our reunion and procure beer. We jumped into his car and proceeded to make our way down the mountain and out onto the main road to Bangor, our nearest town. Needless to say when we drove past Caernarvon, a town some 10 miles further away I realised that my Neptune in the 3rd had got the better of me once more. Had this been an isolated incident then it might be fair to consider it an aberration, but I cannot truly claim any such convenient exemption, because the stark fact is I could quite easily get lost on a guided tour.

Classically, Neptune in the 3rd is experienced as affected logic. This is not necessarily equivalent to a mental diffculty, but as an outright negative potential it most certainly manifests as a tendency to confused thinking, most especially where logical processing is required. Neptune though operates on a  subtle level, so the compensation of Neptune in the 3rd is a lateral power of mental formulation, insights are more likely to be inspired than deduced, they are received whole, as if out of the ether, not arrived at incrementally. As ever with the concerns of Neptune, he has the power to delude, deceive and disguise, but also the ability to exalt, elevate and elutriate and this refining metaphor requires, most absolutely, a paradigm shift if it is to give up its lost treasures. Indeed, Neptunian thinking is of the kind that casts its treasures up onto the shore with the passing of the tides, and there you might stumble upon something marvellous and unexpected, but if you try to force it, to logicise its function, then you will be casting about and all at sea and no doubt very soon lost in the mist.

Subjectively I am quite happy with my Neptune in the 3rd, or at least I have learned to not fight with it for the most part, and I enjoy my photography immensely (I especially like to take technically challenging panoramic shots). This weekend just gone I went on an expedition to capture a particular image I had in mind and with Neptune so configured (I am currently enjoying my fifth Neptune square) it involved the sea, photography and a certain wistful and dreamy notion I was working through:

Click for a larger view

Click for a larger view

Neptune in the 3rd, I believe, gives this insight, or certainly this facility with communicating something of the dream, but it can too make communication into a quagmire. Consider the nativity of Saint Hildegard of Bingen whose Neptune is in the 3rd and profoundly interconnected with the overall arc of her nativity:

52) Bermersheim, Germany

Hildegard of Bingen, Abbess: 17 Aug 1098 22:50 (LMT +0:32:52) Bermersheim, Germany

With Neptune both tee-squared and given power and structure from Pluto and Saturn respectively, there is little doubt that Neptune moved her at a profound level. She resisted writing about her visions, which she had experienced consistently since early childhood, but eventually the impetus of Neptune became overwhelming:

But I, though I saw and heard those things, refused to write for a long time through doubt and bad opinion and the diversity of human words, not with stubbornness but in the exercise of humility, until, laid low by the scourge of God, I fell upon a bed of sickness; then, compelled at last by many illnesses, and by the witness of a certain noble maiden of good conduct [the nun Richardis von Stade] and of that man whom I had secretly sought and found, as mentioned above, I set my hand to the writing. While I was doing it, I sensed, as I mentioned before, the deep profundity of scriptural exposition; and, raising myself from illness by the strength I received, I brought this work to a close – though just barely – in ten years. [...] And I spoke and wrote these things not by the invention of my heart or that of any other person, but as by the secret mysteries of God I heard and received them in the heavenly places. And again I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, ‘Cry out therefore, and write thus!

All of these themes: mysterious sicknesses, humility, service to a higher cause and transmuting those more refined and spiritual motivations into a written missive are profoundly sympathetic to the most positive manifestations of Neptune in the 3rd. Saint Hildegard was not only a writer, she was also a counselor, linguist, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, physician, herbalist, poet, visionary and composer. The exulting power of Neptune here finds its purest octave. Neptune in the third was further shared by Louis Pasteur, Bobby Fischer, Emmanuel Kant and Albrecht Durer, proving that given proper consideration, his power can raise up, rather than raise doubt.

It is not always so.

Where Neptune is overly constrained into base and self-serving expressions, it becomes a deeply confusing and uncomfortable energy:

00) New Haven, CT, USA

George W. Bush, Politician: 6 July 1946 07:26 (EST +05:00) New Haven, CT, USA

For George Bush, with Neptune peregrinated in Libra and applying hard to the cusp of the third, the power of Neptune is especially pronounced, as will be more than amply illustrated by a selection of quotes from the great man himself – No doubt he knew exactly what he was trying to say:

They misunderestimated me.
(November 6, 2000 in Bentonville, Arkansas)

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
(August 5, 2004)

Will the highways on the Internet become more few?
(Concord, New Hampshire, January 29, 2000)

I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.
(September 29, 2000 in Saginaw, Michigan)

I think we agree, the past is over.
(May 10, 2000)

This thaw—took a while to thaw, it’s going to take a while to unthaw.
(Alexandria, La., Oct. 20, 2008)

I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.
(Washington, D.C., June 26, 2008)

Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.
(Charlottesville, Va., July 4, 2008)

Why is a square?


It seems like a perfectly obvious question, but it’s one that most astrologers seldom think to ask, not least, I suspect, because there are certain unquestioned assumptions in astrology as much as in any other field of study: and thus a square is simply a square because it’s a square!

This logic has always troubled me, most especially because it is based upon no logic whatever. Rather it is a received wisdom whose underlying tenets appear too fundamental to challenge. Such is dogma, and dogma is rarely useful.

We ought to always understand the raison d’être of these first principles, even if only to prove their veracity. I have explored a few understandings about the mechanics of aspects, mostly they are based upon divisions of the circle and fundamentals of numerology (although that to me seems a little chicken and egg: which came first, numerology or the division of the ecliptic?) There seems little doubt in my thinking when I have pondered the reality of aspects however: it is mostly derived from the nature of the signs themselves, modified by proximity to an equal division of the sphere.

Why should this be? A Sun and Moon blend does not need to be in Ptolemaic opposition for it to manifest the tendency to awkwardness – most especially in interaction with others – that is the hallmark of a full moon birth so long as the signs are opposite. Mars in Aries will not sit comfortably in the broad apprehension of life while Venus is in Capricorn, even if the two are not squared. The orb creates immediacy, not reality. Both Venus and Mars must be expressed somehow, and they are not compatible in these signs, so whilst they cannot (as tradition would have it) “see each other” by aspect, they certainly will not be mutually supporting as they would if both were in fire and out of orb of the trine.

To a large extent, it is entirely academic to even think in this specific way, but it ought to be obvious that regardless of aspect a planet in flighty, cursory Gemini will not mix comfortably with a planet in detail-focused, thorough Virgo; the two signs have little in common (and therein lies the challenge of the square).

So, the intrinsic nature of the signs is the keystone of aspect analysis regardless of orb or anything else. Orbs in themselves are of course important, and the closer two powers are configured, the more unquestioned and innate an aspect is likely to appear, most especially in subjective terms. That is to say that a square of less than 2 degrees of arc is very often a blind spot for the native, whereas a wider square will likely be a condition of which they have more awareness. Tight aspects are innate and unquestioned, loose ones are less integrated and impinge more upon consciousness as a result.

All of which really begs the question (and it’s a good one): what about out of sign aspects? At this juncture, it might be useful to consider an example:

00) Florence, Italy

Maurizio Gucci, fashion designer. 26 Sept 1948 01:10 (EET -2:00) Florence, Italy

Maurizio Gucci, one time head of the world famous Italian fashion house evinced an out of sign square between Sun in Libra and Moon in Gemini, with a separation of just 3°06′. Classically, a Sun – Moon square represents inner discontent due to the instincts being incompatible with the ideal self, but in an out-of-sign square such as this, the intrinsic nature of Gemini and Libra is inherently complementary, so the tension of the square would not in any way have been so evident as with Cancer and Libra (emotional and nonchalant) or Gemini and Virgo (easy-going and particular), instead with this combination we have a nonchalant and easy-going admixture: and yet the two are squared.

Bill Tierney, in the excellent Dynamics of Aspect Analysis (which I no longer own, although did until very recently) discusses this exact phenomenon, (unfortunately I cannot quote directly) and his conclusion suggests that aspects out of sign are fundamentally altered in quality and not nearly so compulsive. Thus, they appear to assume something of the quality of a wider-arc aspect.

Gucci however, did evince one of the more classic tensions of a Sun – Moon square: namely marital tension, and that writ very large. Shortly after selling his stake in the family empire for $170 million, he was gunned down by a contract killer hired by his wife. Other insights support this potential: Venus conjunct Pluto (fanatic love) in the 2nd house of wealth, peregrine Neptune in Libra and the 4th suggests powerfully confused home conditions whereas the Mars – Pluto square across those most uncompromising and remorseless of potentials: Scorpio to Leo is never going to be easy to reconcile.

Gucci’s wife was notoriously narcissitic, she once said “I’d rather cry in a Rolls Royce than laugh on a bicycle,” and it was after her husband determined to divorce her that she hatched her evil plot.

For Maurizio though, the ruler of the 8th is Uranus (thus sudden, unexpected) and conjunct Moon (the wife), which tells something of the end of things, but even more pertinent is the midpoint picture of Ur=Ma/Pl. The Mars – Pluto square across the fixed Leo – Scorpio potential is already powerfully forceful and difficult, and with Uranus at the midpoint at less than a minute of arc the interpretation becomes especially intriguing: cruelty, violence, brutality – sudden disasters or calamities of great consequence. In medical astrology, the midpoint of the tightest square: especially one involving Pluto is nearly always profoundly telling.

Of course, it works both ways, a trine that is out of sign is not nearly so innate and accessible as one that is in its element, so more effort is required to facilitate the easy exchange of energy normally associated with the aspect as might be expected with two planets in mutually incompatible signs.

For the astrologer, it makes interpretation somewhat difficult, because there is a contradictory influence at work in out of sign aspects. The out of sign opposition has something of the quincunx to consider, thus a tendency to dissatisfaction that perhaps alters the quality of the traditional opposition. The square might be eased, the trine weakened, of the major aspects, only the conjunction might be considered assisted by the tendency to the semi-sextile, although it without doubt lessens the intimacy and innateness of the usual blend.

Don’t Jump In! Moon conjunct Neptune.

Moon conjunct Neptune is dreamy, refined and often misunderstood.

Moon conjunct Neptune is dreamy, refined and often misunderstood.

Imagine this scenario: someone you know has come to see you and on their way over they have got stuck in traffic, had an argument with a co-worker on the phone and discovered that their husband spent the housekeeping on a hooker, then they call in at your house, and actually, they like you very much and just want to hang out for a while so they don’t mention any of that bad stuff, but inside they are angry, upset, hurt and frustrated, as would only be natural for anyone who had experienced such a frustrating and upsetting set of circumstances. For most, this visitor would appear agitated perhaps, maybe a little off and flat and for anyone without Moon conjunct Neptune it wouldn’t represent much of a blip on their personal radar, off their friend would toddle, and they might think to themselves “hmm, they seemed a little odd today, no matter”, and they would carry on about their business and probably forget all about it.

Not so for Moon conjunct Neptune. Not by a long chalk.

For anyone with Moon conjunct Neptune, they can feel the anger, resentment and frustration from their friend almost as a physical force in the room. The hostility would be profoundly uncomfortable, they feel so uncomfortable in fact that they may even begin to physically sweat, or shake, or feel a little wan and pale. And even before their friend was out the door they will already be running through the list of all possible misdemeanours they could possibly have committed to have caused such an upset, because it is entirely possible that their friend is angry because of something they have done, or said, or not said, or not done, or implied, or inferred or failed to anticipate.

Moon conjunct Neptune is sensitive.

So sensitive in fact that they can walk into a room and feel something in the walls. Moon conjunct Neptune doesn’t like hospitals, or asylums, or even places where somebody else has been in a bad mood in the last hour; and they really absorb the ambient and prevailing feel of people and places; they’re so sensitive in fact that you might even consider it a kind of social disability, because people who don’t have Moon conjunct Neptune simply have no clue how to behave around this person. Moon conjunct Neptune often wants to simply shut herself away if only to feel normal…

It’s not all bad though. There is no more refined possibility of feeling than that which exists as a potential within this aspect. It is entirely possible indeed to experience a sense of near-rapture when the conditions are just right. There is a deep well of feeling and compassion possible within this blend that probably exists nowhere else in the astrology, it creates many difficulties, peculiar ideas and strange notions, a feeling of being unsatisfied and misunderstood, a very difficult level of sensitivity to people and events, but by that same token it creates a sensitivity that when tweaked positively can open up a wide and verdant vista of communion with life that is truly rich and rewarding.

The most difficult consideration of Moon Neptune conjunctions however is found within this very deep pool of feeling that is created within the psyche, because all too often, and most especially in times of adversity, it is all to easy for them to simply “jump in”. It becomes something of a siren call for the native, not so much to wallow in their sense of being misunderstood, but actually to dive head-first into it and actually revel in it just a little. The most important advice I can possibly offer to anyone with Moon conjunct Neptune is to learn to recognise this tendency and when they hear that seductive song, to resist: “don’t jump in!” Skirt around the edge if you have to, paddle a little if you want, but keep your head above water: self awareness is the key, and the eternal refrain: “don’t jump in!” Make it your mantra.

The sense of Moon conjunct Neptune through the signs can be easily delineated by studying some examples.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo works rather well, because Leo is among the most naturally affectionate of the signs, so there is a route out of the adversity of this aspect through allowing that natural predilection to feeling human warmth shine through. At its worst Moon in Leo can tend to the vain and snobbish, but wherever Neptune is configured there is created a predilection to the immaterial. Those with this aspect who pursue the inclination to love of luxury found in the Moon placement will invariably experience disappointment as a result. Neptune in Leo though is profoundly melancholic too, so the tendency to jumping in to the lake of sorrow is decidedly exaggerated here. Jack Lemmon, Anne Frank and Peter Ustinov all demonstrate the gentle and kindly warmth of the conjunction in the eternal flame of the sign Leo: consider Nancy Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and George C. Scott, all of whom evinced both Moon and Neptune in Leo, but without the conjunction, the quality of the blend when viewed in this context, is unmistakable.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Virgo.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Virgo.

In Virgo then, compare the three examples above: the Dalai Lama, Dustin Hoffman and Marvin gaye with any three other natives born with both Moon and Neptune in Virgo but out of the conjunction: so, for example, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson and Lou Reed. Immediately you will get a sense of the conjunction, the blend, which sensitises, softens and creates an often difficult vulnerability in the manner. Moon in Virgo alone is not the greatest placement for Selene, since it creates an incompatible practicality where the head rules the heart, a love of tidiness, method and order but also, in its best manifestation a tendency to simplicity and frugal habits. At its worst, Neptune in Virgo is pedantic, fault-finding and difficult to work with (which is a criticism very much associated with Dustin Hoffman for example), but it also gives an intuitive understanding of others and a profound interest in natural health. When these influences are brought into the conjunctive blend then we have a potential for great sensitivity to environments, especially cluttered, chaotic spaces. It makes one hyper-sensitive to working relationships (which explains Dustin Hoffman’s reputation almost perfectly) and gives a profound interest in simple, healthy lifestyles and philosophies: which rather gels with the Dalai Lama’s admirable message of compassionate simplicity. Any Moon – Neptune contact speaks volumes about the relationship with the mother too, perhaps she was fault-finding and practical but in some other sense vague or hard to understand or especially sensitive herself. Maybe she was a clean and tidy drunk. Possibly she was profoundly spiritual and methodical in her habits too; the blend always plays out through the maternal experience in one way or other.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra

Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra

Libra creates a subtle leaning toward the Other, thus any configuration in the sign of the scales profoundly affects the entire process and approach to relating, and the Moon – Neptune blend is no exception. Neith put it this way, which speaks to this exact potential:

Having spent many years dealing with a Moon-Neptune conjunction in Libra making it very difficult for me to see the reality of what was going on in my relationships, I have some experience and a few thoughts on coping with Mr. Fogbank.

All of that innate sensitivity and confusion is experienced through close relationships, and nowhere more so than in the marriage, although it can potentially create a similar ambience in business or creative partnerships too. Moon in Libra alone creates a need for love and affection as well as a measure of dependence on the partner for security and comfort and when Neptune in Libra is configured there is a genuine requirement for friendship with the partner too, so all of that sensitivity that is implied by the conjunction must in some sense be played out through the partner, who must be a friend of the most supportive kind otherwise the native will tend to become melancholic and confused and – as ever with Libran concerns – slightly off-balance. Sting, David Essex and Benazir Bhutto all shared this conjunction.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio creates a very different ambience to Libra, although the vulnerability and sensitivity engendered by the aspect is still its standout feature. Consider the three examples of John Cusack, David Schwimmer and Greta Scaachi and contrast them with three natives having both Moon and Neptune in Scorpio but without the conjunction of the two in force: Will Smith, Liz Hurley and Jennifer Lopez. The softening and emotionally refining influence of the blend in these latter cases is absolutely conspicuous by its absence. Moon in Scorpio alone creates a tough, resilient, emotionally tenacious and frank impetus, while Neptune in this most emotionally intense of signs creates a very peculiar disposition, one that is rather difficult to fathom which simply increases the potential for being misunderstood that is already inherent in the aspect itself. Scorpio is of course deeply compassionate when evolved, and this aspect certainly encourages that outcome in those affected; this set of circumstances makes the Moon – Neptune in Scorpio native most likely to withdraw from the world – a fairly natural condition for the Scorpio in any case – since the sensitivity is increasingly tweaked by the experiential incomprehension which is the result of this blending. Neptune in Scorpio creates a tendency to soul-sickness and states of low level melancholy too and often this, when integrated into the emotionality of the Moon, creates a soft but world-weary ambience. When all is said and done however, Scorpio on the Moon is required to survive on meagre resources, they can nurture themselves on Spartan rations, emotionally as much as anywhere else, so there is at least an intimation of balance in the equation.

At its very best, in whatever sign it is found, the contact of Moon and Neptune of any type creates a great sympathetic ability in the astrology, a person who can understand and empathise with the difficulties of others, but the conjunction feels those self-same difficulties more directly and immediately than any other type of contact, and very often the sense is entirely involuntary. Vivid dreams are another factor in any of Moon’s applications to Neptune. At worst, the contact creates a tendency to fantasy, delusion and dishonesty, most especially with the square or the opposition, but even in such difficult cases, the overriding impression is one of profound sensitivity.


Today I had planned to post an article on the Moon’s contact with Neptune, but in the uncertain interim between conceiving the thing and its birth, Hermes took a tricky turn and blew my computer up. Now you may or may not know that I own very little and the computer I was using was a rather cobbled together affair and it fairly rattled and whirred like a tractor whenever I switched it on, but it seemed to be fine. Until it stopped being fine.

Now I believe the problem is that it needs a new graphics card, and of course I cannot afford to buy one but I have to somehow otherwise I cannot even hope to start earning any money at all, so all being well I should be able to get writing again (and working too) in the next day or so.

If it turns out to not be the graphics card however, it could be considerably longer before I am able to post something here again. Hopefully my article on Moon – Neptune will be improved, like a good wine, by the time spent in the dusty, cobweb-bedecked cellars of my understanding.

On the other hand, it might just be corked. C’est la guerre.