A Design for Life

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c8/Wall_Street-_Money_Never_Sleeps_film.jpgA day or so ago, I was out running under that fabulous Cancer Moon, and I was listening to David Hawkins on my iPod. He is a remarkable spiritual teacher and one of the insights that he relayed struck me quite forcibly. In my life, I do not especially understand the consensus of reality. I have had several occasions to process this dissonance recently. A week or so ago I watched a movie called “Wall Street 2″ or something similar, starring Michael Douglas who is a Libra with a Capricorn Moon and who is currently fighting throat cancer. He has Uranus in Gemini right on the 8th house cusp, so what we can say is that he’s probably going to go fairly quickly, if not downright suddenly and unexpectedly, and there will probably be more than one ’cause’ for his demise. The 8th ruler, Mercury is in the 10th (high profile), conjunct Jupiter (due to excess), on the degrees for the liver (more excess and rich living), conjunct Siva (some kind of breakdown therefore, something that occurs in episodes), opposite Vulcano, conjunct Ceres and conjunct Orpheus. Orpheus is associated with the throat of course, and Ceres with nurturing and digestion. The 8th ruler is square Uranus on the 8th cusp. I’d say he will beat the throat cancer, but it will come back, probably spread to the liver and the bowel and he’ll eventually die of a systemic breakdown and body shock through fighting on too many fronts. I hope he doesn’t read this.

Anyhow. That wasn’t strictly a digression, although it may appear tangential right now. I watched this film and it began with the protagonist (I believe his name is Shia LaBeouf), living a wealthy and materially replete lifestyle. Of course there was a ‘plot’ too, but inevitably, in any story, there are assumptions made about the viewer or reader. Mostly scriptwriters can make broad assumptions about their audience quite safely, they can assume that their average viewer isn’t going to, for example, enjoy being stalked by a homicidal maniac before being brutally murdered. They can assume that their viewer isn’t going to enjoy having their life’s work stolen by some unscrupulous conman, leaving them bereft and desperate (for example). These kinds of assumptions are what makes the film ‘work’ for its audience, because the audience will identify with the life situation of the protagonist and would react similarly to that individual when faced with their challenges and dilemmas.

When I watched this film however I was placed in the peculiar position of not identifying remotely with the protagonist and yet understanding intellectually that I was supposed to, in terms of typical audience material. What a disconnect it was, watching that movie as a result! It became somewhat akin to witnessing a freak-show, where I found myself cringing at the casual assumptions about where life held meaning, about what experiences were valuable, about what goals in life were worth striving for, and of course what constituted calamity in a human life.

I was left in a state of disconnection, as though I had witnessed something vaguely pornographic. I had watched a ‘worldview’ casually projected at me through the medium of film and experienced total dissonance as an effect. I know that there was a time in my life when I would have identified with the worldview of the movie, but that too was an intellectual apprehension for me, I knew it, but I could no longer feel it. It seemed silly to me, and while I was amazed at the basic assumptions of the movie, I was distressed only by my suspicion that the majority of viewers would not feel that same dissonance and would indeed identify with the movie.

So, as I say, I was out running while listening to an interview with David Hawkins. He was talking about linear reality, which is his terminology for what happens when you watch Wall Street and don’t feel dissonance, and he explained that while a spiritual approach to life is in and of itself a long and arduous journey, the very fact that you have moved beyond linear reality in your thinking puts you in an extremely small minority. He claimed that something like a mere 0.001% of all humans alive today have moved beyond linear reality, so if you have – and all that means is that you have accepted that there is some design to life beyond the material and you act upon it in some way, shape or form – that makes you an extremely rare human being.

Moreover, once you’ve made the smallest step toward a nonlinear view of the Universe, it’s actually impossible to go back to the linear model. Spiritual evolution is incapable of entropy.

Of course, moving into nonlinearity also makes you an idiot in the eyes of everyone who hasn’t made the same paradigm shift, which can only be a cosmic joke when you think about it, but one too that you could only find offensive if you hadn’t shifted. More pertinently though, it seems ridiculous to assume that the shift to nonlinearity could ever occur as the result of chance. It requires a rare melange of constituents to combust the human soul into such an unconventional worldview. It flies in the face of myriad accepted theories of success, and it contradicts directly the principles of social and material Darwinism, which is precisely the worldview of Wall Street movies of course.

One of the real challenges of astrology is that if a client comes to me and they have an entirely linear worldview, I am unable to help them. Indeed, it is impossible for them to be helped, because only in nonlinearity is there design and therefore meaning. Without meaning, life cannot – by definition – be meaningful. This is to me an enormous irony, because astrology cannot help anyone who is not open to the possibility that astrology is a window upon one’s inner workings. Even when I have spoken to those linear thinkers about their astrology and amazed them with knowledge of some unknowable reality of their existence, they are incapable of seeing it as evidence of design, because they do not believe in design, so at best it is a blip. A remarkable and inexplicable blip perhaps, but it cannot be assimilated into a ‘meaningless’ worldview except as an aberration. It cannot transmute the broad sense of meaninglessness into meaning.

The next conundrum lies in the truth that you cannot divine a nonlinear worldview from a nativity. Indeed, you can find two people with similar nativities and one of them will subjectively experience their placements from a linear perspective and the other from the nonlinear. This is easy to appreciate with the sign of Pisces which can fantasize about ‘dream cars’ or ‘dream houses’ or it can just as well appreciate that all endeavour is dust, but there is no marker to glean this distinction within the nativity, even if it is the work only of a single sentence or two to divine it in conversation.

And why should that be? Why is it that one person dreams of a Porsche and another (far rarer individual) dreams of sojourn in the wilderness? It cannot be chance. Nothing else works randomly (unless you are in the linear worldview, then most everything works randomly and you have to resort to statistics or an ‘unknowable’ God to make sense of the Universe), so why should this? Everything has to be worked for. A great runner (which, as I struggled agonisingly along while contemplating this, I most decidedly am not) doesn’t just happen by chance. His (or her) parents have to give him the right genes, he has to have some propensity to get out there and hit the pavement when it would be far more comfortable to stay home and browse your stock portfolio, or wonder agog at what makes a stock portfolio worth browsing in the first place, he has to be able to keep going even when his body is beginning to collapse into a sweaty heap of resentment. Everything in creation is a pinnacle of effort. Why should spiritual insight be any different? After all, anyone who has shifted their perspective in this way would never want to go back to the meaningless Universe, so it is subjectively ‘better’ to have reached this worldview, and it does not come without serious and rigorous self-examination, hardship, calamity, loss, hard-won humility and compassion. These are not experiences that most people would wish upon themselves; they would rather be ‘happy’. Whatever that means.

Now I have no wish to blow your mind with talk of reincarnation, but I cannot hide from the fact that without the ‘fact’ of reincarnation, astrology could not make much sense. That does not mean that it would not work, but only that it would lose context, and of course I could posit a scenario where reincarnation was not a fact. It would be like this: we are each of us simply a piece of the Universe’s consciousness, and thus born out of that unified state in order that the universal consciousness can experience itself. In this way there would not need to be continuity; each life would simply be a random experiential event that would not need to maintain continuity. If you got difficult astrology then it would just be unfortunate but at the same time it would not matter because at the end of life your consciousness would just go back to the vast unity of universal consciousness and your life experience would be integrated into the whole. You, as the individual Fred or Frieda would no longer exist in any separate way, so you would not feel hard done by, or even have been hard done by, because you were not actually a you at all, just a piece of the unity that separated and individuated briefly in order to allow the unity to have an experience.

On the other hand, if you believe that the soul has continuity then you have a case for reincarnation. This does not mean that there is not a unity, and we could picture this as though we are a piece of a larger construct, perhaps like a bee in a hive, whereby the hive is the unity that strives to accumulate experience through its myriad components. This would be like the bees being sent out to find pollen (or experience) and coming back to the hive to share that location (or experience) with the hive. It is a subtle distinction but in this latter case we have a construct which allows for continuity between lifetimes. In this way we can follow with a Buddhist concept of reality that allows the soul to gradually accumulate wisdom through life experiences until it reaches perfection. It also intrinsically intimates a life perspective which suggests that everything that happens to us happens for the reason of our soul’s need to grow and gradually achieve that perfection. In this view we can easily relate to the possibility that we therefore choose our life path before we are born and everything that happens to us during that lifetime is designed to propel us onward along that path.

There are a number of constructs in astrology which allow us to track these markers of past life experience and where we are supposed to be headed during this incarnation. From that perspective we can determine not only what problems we are likely to face (i.e. what ‘karmic’ baggage we have brought along with us) but also where we are headed, what it is we are supposed to achieve in this incarnation in order to fulfil our ‘soul contract’. Once we are done, we are done, and we can die and go back to the hive. Maybe we achieved our life’s mission, maybe not, and if not we will carry that baggage over into the next life as well.

So. From all of this we can grasp two fundamental concepts which are extremely important to apprehend if we are going to see life in the right way, or perhaps in a way that is least dissonant with what ‘is’. Enormous energy is wasted if we cannot accept life as it is (which is not the same thing as being a doormat and putting up with rubbish). First we can say that everything happens for a reason and most especially the difficult stuff of our lives happens for a reason and second, we can accept that nothing is wrong. If you have a difficult marriage because your husband is paranoid and controlling then that is not ‘wrong’. It is probably no fun, and it is almost certainly wearying, but it is not wrong. In fact it is exactly right, it is 100% what you needed to help you learn, grow and carry on working toward your soul’s perfection during this lifetime.

But more important even than this is the understanding that while the spiritual life is a journey, it is a journey that you are only aware of being on once you have switched your perspective. The chances are that if you are reading this then you are one of those vanishingly rare people who has realised. Otherwise you are still on the journey before the journey; which is the journey (and I would say it is a journey consisting almost exclusively of ‘going round in circles’) of accumulating enough painful experience to realise that you have no option but to begin to look at life more deeply. It is time to change or die.

So while we feel great compassion for all of the suffering we see in the world, what we can know, once we know it, is that while it is painful and traumatic, it is anything but senseless. When I watch the great anguish of the Japanese people, the Libyan people, the Egyptian people, the struggles of Michael Douglas, of friends, lovers, enemies, I do not see the unknowable vagaries of an unknowable God, but rather I see a perfect and magnificent design with a single and wonderful purpose:

“wake up…”

Révolution Tumultueuse…

An awful night. I slept very badly because of a series of anxious dreams about flooding. At one point I was in a pedestrian plaza that I did not recognise: there were tall buildings on either side and I had to run to reach a footbridge before a great swathe of dirty water reached me. At some other point I was driving in my car and turning out of a junction I saw that the road was a river! I was stunned, it was raging, covered with debris and I was really worried about the car being washed away, and about some piece of debris taking the exhaust off. When I woke up I was quite intrigued because I thought that it was one of those emotional dream cues, until I saw the news this morning and there I watched the same scenes as I’d been dreaming all night on the screen…

Suffice to say that nothing quite so psychically compelling has happened to me before, I am actually quite unnerved by the experience because the scenes were identical in every detail and it was terrifying.

Before I knew about the Sendai City tsunami though I lay in the dawn murk thinking about the ingress of Uranus into Aries. I did not know at that point that my oil tank had run dry, although it was uncharacteristically cold in the bedroom, a sure sign that the heating hasn’t been working. For the last 7 years Neptune in Aquarius has been lent considerable dignity by Uranus’ passage through Pisces, the two planets are in mutual reception, so Neptune has gained power, support and comfort from Uranus, but tomorrow night, only 24 hours after the Sendai City earthquake hit, Neptune will lose that support. It is no surprise that my heating oil has run out too. My world is, these days, almost entirely metaphysical in apprehension, so I cannot hide from reality in “reality” and pretend it’s a coincidence.

I fully expect therefore to see the current oil crisis continuing in a fluctuating but broadly deteriorating spiral until Neptune moves into his own sign Pisces, and will be immeasurably more potent than he is in the decidedly unlubricated sign of Aquarius. Oil was “discovered” in August 1859 (See Monica’s fascinating article on this subject for more), and Neptune returns to that same point in April 2023 through Feb 2024. That’s oil’s Neptune return.

I would say that oil will probably run out in around 2024, and until that point we can assume that the egress of Uranus from Pisces will have a disruptive effect in the interim and we are seeing that influence quite clearly already. After all, in Aries, Uranus is operating in service to Mars, and since Uranus tends to make sweeping changes and challenge outdated structures, he’ll be working for that agenda under Mars’ direction. Armed revolution is the order of the day. Under Neptune’s influence Uranus will have been trying to transcend, and perhaps revolutionise indirectly, a révolution tranquille, a whispering campaign. Under Mars, things will become, and already are becoming, far more direct. Indeed, the transit of the Aries’ Point is especially potent because the energy shifts from oppressed, voiceless victim to assertive, fighting energy overnight. At the Aries’ Point we, the people, are done with it.

There is still some protection now because while Mars is in Pisces there is a short chain of receptions lending Neptune power (Mars = Neptune = Uranus = Mars etc.), but as soon as Mars moves into Aries we can expect further and more committed disruptions on the world scene. April 4th ought to be especially potent as Mars contacts Uranus in Aries.

I would say that Uranus energy has been quite affected by the mutual receptions with Neptune over the last few years, and perhaps the Uranian type has been subject to a general malaise as a result, Neptune themes will cloud the effectiveness of the Uranian type under such influence – of course in good ways – but also in difficult ways, and the Cardinal Cross of the last 2 years has simply exacerbated that tendency. Pluto will increase the revolutionary pressure over the next 5 years or so as well, and I fully anticipate the world becoming a much scarier place (especially for Western societies) as a consequence. Having said that though, the world has had ample opportunity over the last few years to devalue Uranian energy, and those who have got onto the Saturn bandwagon in a big way are going to start reaping their ‘rewards’ in the coming days and weeks.

This isn’t just typical Neptunian apocalyptic thinking either: we are seeing it happen on our TV screens. When we oppress innovation, difference, even craziness, we run the risk of gradually narrowing focus, until societies serve only the interests of those who toe the line and the unconventional is stigmatised until it has become deviance and weirdness.

Such are the symptoms of the decline of empires.

Pluto: Enslavement or Self-Mastery, the Choice is Yours (Part 3)

Jupiter - Pluto has status anxiety issues


When we read Shakespeare, as when we read the Greek myths we find a depth and richness of imagery that reflects the myriad personifications of astrological principles; all life is here, within these allegorical masterpieces. And beyond the character of Hades himself there is no undiluted personification of Pluto because that is an inhumane and therefore insupportable role, however the many Plutonic blends litter the pages of history and literature alike.

In the Merchant of Venice we find the character of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, who, is an uncomfortable blend of gravitas, resignation and miserliness, and who, caught up in a rivalry with the Christian merchant, Antonio, courts and realises utter ruin because he insists on the payment of his pound of flesh, which was the security for his loan to the bankrupt merchant. It is a marvellous portrayal of the danger with the Jupiter-Pluto blend. Fundamentally, pettiness is the principle which Pluto has supercharged and it is the expansive, generous nature of Jupiter which has collapsed in upon itself to become its antithesis.

We tend to think strangely in the contemplation of Jupiter and Saturn: as though they are polarities of a single principle, but Saturn is antithetic in essential qualities to Uranus and Neptune too. These two giants are not polarities by design and each has positive and negative expressions (skirting surreptitiously around the tendency to make value judgments as we go) without recourse or reference one to the other. What this means is that Jupiter has just as much power to go “wrong” as Saturn, but obviously, that wrongness isn’t so obviously uncomfortable from a subjective viewpoint as Saturn’s wrongness, so we can make the mistake of believing that Jupiter is either positive or neutral (when misfiring) and Saturn is either neutral (when operating positively) or negative. You only need to get on the wrong side of an unmanaged Jupiter-Pluto square to realise how deficient that perspective can be.

It is fascinating to read Saturn into the character of Shylock; he is after all, wise and venerable, but his character is entirely Jupiter, but Jupiter collapsed in upon itself, twisted by some Plutonic impulse for revenge. Where Jupiter ought to be magnanimous, it is instead petty; where he should have much to be grateful for, he is instead consumed by his grievances, and where he should be motivated by the highest good, he is instead fixated on the most negative outcomes (why else demand a pound of flesh as surety?)


A pound of flesh has become a coda for spiteful penalties and this delineates yet another dimension of Pluto; he ramps up the expression of whatever point he corresponds with and without the transition to personal integrity there is no guard against Plutonic compulsion which filters control, personal agenda and vendetta, power games, psychological cruelty and the desire for others’ humiliation through the lens of that planetary energy. With Jupiter the filter is in part civic: thus one of the compulsions comes through being a person ‘of good standing.’ With Jupiter alone, that is quite straightforward, because we are not compulsively driven to be of good standing so we do not contaminate Jupiter energy with our unconscious agendas and we can simply strive for self-improvement without needing to draw others in before controlling, humiliating and annihilating them.

This was Shylock’s journey, and Pluto, with his contempt for mortal ambition wants no winners, he’s happy if everyone loses, that is more grist for the Hadean mills after all. In his petty insistence that Antonio be humiliated and destroyed he only brought destruction and ruin upon himself, but even then: who could possibly have been exalted in that famous scene? Portia alludes to the antidote however:

You stand within his danger, do you not?

Ay, so he says.

Do you confess the bond?

I do.

Then must the Jew be merciful.

On what compulsion must I? tell me that.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

And here then is the antidote to Jupiter-Pluto problems: mercy. To be merciful is the exaltation of Jupiter. Jupiter – Pluto, sticking to the superficial appearances of the law, the letter of the law, demands (indignantly and with affronted bluster) that he cannot be forced into an attitude of mercy. He puffs up and pontificates his rights, but these are not inalienable rights, they are not moral rights, they are not even human rights, they are the rights of somebody who perceives that they have been wronged, so they have the right to vengeance.

Every word in the thesaurus of Jupiter is corrupted by Pluto. Shylock is superficial where Jupiter in his dignity should be deep. He is vengeful where he should be merciful, petty where he should be magnanimous, indignant where he should be tolerant and demanding where he should be conciliatory. And these are the compulsions therefore of Jupiter-Pluto. Pettiness, puffed-up self-importance, a lack of faith in others which might be best understood as ascribing the lowest motives to others, which is no more than a projection of the mean-spiritedness of Jupiter-Pluto itself.

Shylock is the caricature of this energy, he is grasping, mean, indignant and spiteful, and he abuses any power that is given him in his quest for revenge on those he feels have held him back and thwarted his ambitions. Jupiter-Pluto is ambitious, but not in the way of Saturn which craves authority, but rather in Jupiter’s vein, which craves the admiration of the pauper for all his glories. Thus wealth and status are the rungs on the ladder of power and control and this combination can make social climbers, arrant snobs and the type that prefers to look down his nose rather than straight in the eye.

But as with any Plutonic issue, the compulsion is simply behaviour that is designed specifically to mask the underlying Plutonic anxiety. This is the same as for Venus-Pluto which has anxiety about being loved and lovable, except with Jupiter, the anxiety is all about inferiority. In my experience, people with Jupiter-Pluto problems are terrified that people will find out about their humble roots, that they are actually quite poor or that their parents were lowly Welsh coal-miners, so they seek to assuage this anxiety by garnering status, and the trappings of wealth and success. Very often with the hard contacts there is some class anxiety and these people will garner various elements into their lives not because they want those things in and of themselves, but because they mask any hint of poverty, low-class or mediocrity which are, at root, the architects of the Plutonic anxiety driving the compulsion.

Fortunately the compulsion follows a highly recognisable pattern. As ever, the energy seeks to personify itself within people and situations, and Pluto in this instance attempts to polarise Jupiter-Pluto energy accordingly, so the native will set him or herself in the superior role whilst ascribing all sorts of degrading, lowly and humiliating characteristics to his or her opponent in order that they are cast in the inferior role. Jupiter – Pluto people are those types that seem to consider themselves to be ‘better’ in some manner that feels very uncomfortable to the target. Really though, when the Jupiter-Pluto opponent calls you ‘a loser’ (or a few hundred years ago ‘a peasant’) they are simply projecting their anxiety about their own inferiority. The next stage calls for a battle of resources. The native will attempt, by fair means or foul, to deny you resources – which is a tactic typical of all Plutonic contacts – while maximising their own. In the case of Moon-Pluto, the resources that are compulsively procured are more likely to have to do with security (which is why people with hard Moon-Pluto contacts often flirt with homelessness), but where Jupiter is concerned the resources are entirely status focused.

Saturn has this propensity too (as we shall see in our next article), and this is one area of note in this discussion because in many ways contacts between Jupiter or Saturn and Pluto are the hardest Plutonic connections to manage. Contacts with personal planets are felt with enormous urgency precisely because those planets are personal. The discomfort of Pluto is felt keenly within the human core. Contacts with outer planets are entirely transpersonal and are very difficult to actualise, hence they are not felt with anything like the same intensity. Jupiter and Saturn sit somewhere in between: they are close enough to evince truly unpleasant and Plutonic effects, but far enough away to not cause enough personal discomfort to grate. People can go for years compulsively projecting Pluto through these intermediaries without realising how entirely compulsive they are being. In a sense this has to do with the societal nature of Jupiter and Saturn, so the compulsion can be, if you like, masked with civic and status concerns. And let us be clear, they are both status-driven, albeit with markedly different flavours. Jupiter craves the status of wealth and celebrity, Saturn the status of authority and respect. They are the Lord and the Judge respectively. The former desires the grand home, the fast cars and the trophy wife (or husband), the latter desires a position of moral superiority, position and rank within the church, the community or the profession. So, crucially, whatever the precise flavour we can say of both these planets in contact with Pluto that there is status anxiety and therefore status compulsion.

I know people with Jupiter-Pluto contacts naturally, and they are usually the types that proclaim their desire to be millionaires before the age of 30, they will buy themsleves a Porsche (which they cannot afford), and dress their children in ‘brands’ because the reflection is then a balm for their status anxiety. By the same token, their expenditure on their children will usually be entirely dependent on how it reflects on them in the eyes of society. They will pay for music lessons (so that they can boast about their child’s musical prowess), but will feed them only the value line of foodstuffs, considering anything more a waste of money.  Frequently these people invest all their resources in the trappings of wealth but are miserly in areas that are not ‘seen’ by others outside the intimate circle. So they will drive a Porsche and yet their home is filled with the cheapest yard-sale furniture. Their grand country home may be another accoutrement of status, but everyone inside sits shivering through the winter because the Jupiter-Pluto owner is too miserly to spend money on heating, since that isn’t an expenditure which can be appreciated by society at large.

The challenge for Jupiter – Pluto is clear because uncannily (or not), everyone with these contacts who does not manage to rein them in and transform Jupiter from grasping to generous, whining to magnanimous and superficial to deep eventually loses the whole lot. This is an aspect that forces one to lose even the shirt off one’s back if allowed to run too far. That is Pluto’s greatest trick of course, upping the ante until the stakes are life-threateningly high. Status-anxiety is the clue. If you want that car, that handbag, that diamond ring, then ask yourself why it matters. Once again, ask the Pluto question: can I just let this go? If not, why not?